Bookworm Nook 2018

Podcaster, author, & speaker – Shauna writes with conviction from a rare perspective in our rooted-mindset-generation. Every chapter will have you wowing & totally inspired. READ IT!

Nina Laurin’s first ever book & it’s a criminal-minds, thriller with a big twist. I couldn’t put it down & now I’m borrowing it to everyone I know. You won’t be disappointed.

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Reading People was a book full of information. If you’re interested in finding out more about how people are hardwired, this is a great read. It’s a boxed in book, so I found it hard to connect with. I did discover that I am enneagram type #3.

Pending – let’s be honest, I probably won’t finish it… Awesome book for a history buff, FULL of rich language and interesting, rare information about a city’s discovery!

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In – progress as of June 12, 2018 :)


 

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Caribbean Paradise

Caribbean Paradise

Spring break 2018 || March 2-11 || Adventure of the Seas
||Puerto Rico, Curacao, Bonaire, Aruba, St. Maarten||


Day 1: Travel

To avoid a lengthly layover somewhere in the Northeast overnight, we hopped a flight to Chicago where we (Mara) slept on the airport floor for 7 hours! Right near Southwest Airline’s baggage drop. We made a nook on the floor with our 3,738 bags we brought (4). I experienced sour gummy worms that tasted like something you’d find under your bathroom sink at 2:30am. I also used the bathroom at 3:00am and directed a very peppy family of 6 toward the closed baggage drop where they quickly learned that you don’t have to show up 2 hours before boarding like you used to in the 1900’s. Let’s be real – almost missing a flight is way more fun… we will get to that part.


Day 2: At sea

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL OUR TIME? All day on a ship and we had no idea what to do or where to go. It wouldn’t be until Day 3 or 4 that we found the SELF-SERVE ICE CREAM MACHINE by the pool. Guess how many we ate. Guess. Although the ship was laced with jewelry stores, we enjoyed free pizza from the snack restaurant, buying candy/snacks and mouthwash from the liquor store, and laying pool side to get a base tan. Music all day long, Zumba, trivia, reading a good book, and thinking about nothing we’re a few of our favorites.


Day 3: Curacao

 Curaçao has a bridge that is straight out of a Dr. Seuss movie. Run with your imagination. In Curaçao we jumped in a taxi and went to a beach where we had to pay to rent a beach chair for the day. Lazy. Day. We learned the (sort of) equivalent of the USD$ and ANG quickly. We also found a mini mart and stocked up on snacks like a bag of Cheetos puffs and an 85¢ eFruitti Pizza Gummi Candy. Please tell me you remember. I flipped, hadn’t seen them in years!


Day 3: Bonaire

18-square-mile-Bonaire was so fun! We rented a moped for the day for $32. We didn’t know it was the crappiest one they had, we just knew it was the last one. We snagged it and rode all day around the entire island! Wild flamingos, beach stops, lunch, icees – whatever we wanted because you can do whatever you want when you have a moped. Our 2nd favorite island.


Day 4: Aruba

Anticipated to be our favorite island, we were excited to see it called “One Happy Island.” Plot twist. We walked a mile inland to a place we thought was our Jetpack Excursion starting point. It turned out to be a nutrition store with a nice lady who called a taxi for us. Two taxi rides, a public transit ride, and a walk in the rain later, we arrived at the world’s smallest, hidden Excursion counter IN a Hyatt Hotel. Our Excursion has been cancelled and I was praying to get my $200 back. We did, and went impromptu Jet Skiing instead! Cheers to Aruba!


Day 5: At Sea

I would say around day 5 I learned I had a fine art obsession. I found these INSANE 3D paintings of trees that were so colorful and vibrant and I had to have them. At $2,000 a piece, they offered me two pieces of art for one low payment of $1,450 with free shipping! Hold your pants, I didn’t buy them. We also got to be great friends with your waiter, Artan, and waitress, Dinah. We sat at the same window seat every night. Dinah remembered lemons for my water, real butter bricks, and the buns we preferred. Artan memorized our orders (mine): Caesar Salad, New York Strip, and Strawberry Cheesecake for desert. He also got confused when we switched sides of the table one night. He asked us nicely to stay where we were. :) by day 5 we were BRONZE.


Day 6: St. Maarten

Our favorite island! St. Maarten is STUNNING. The only island we didn’t explore to it’s depths, it was the one we could live on! After finding beach chairs to sit on, letting the waves sweep our bags away, getting my childhood dream islander braids, and losing the jet ski key in the middle of the cove, we had THE best meal of our entire trip. The nice gentleman working is the island’s best shot maker. Obviously we had a shot. Or 3. We could have stayed in St. Maarten for days!


Day 8: Puerto Rico

Docked at 7am with a flight at 8pm calls for a rental car exploring San Juan! We spent the morning zip-lining and ventured the coast – the damage from the hurricanes lingers reminding us that returning home is soon to follow. We enjoyed a nice ocean bath, took a snooze in the fanciest mall parking lot I’ve ever been to, and accidentally got 4 4-piece chicken nugget orders before heading to the airport for one last pit stop.

 


Expenses:
$1,500 per person. (Not including flights because I’m awesome and have a
Southwest card that gave me 50,000 points! Wig.)

Tips:

  • Pay whatever it takes to get a room with a port hole. Or if you’re made of gold, a patio. Accidentally sleeping in until noon is fine, unless your missing daylight on the most beautiful islands ever! Also, I wished I could fix my eyes on the horizon to compensate for the swaying of the ship. Get a window, man!
  • Bring lots of cash. You never know how many taxi rides & public transit rides you’ll take to get to a beach you thought was on the other side of the island.
  • Don’t pre-buy excursions. Our 2 fell through and we ended up doing 2 impromptu ones and saved $275! When you get off the ship, locals are waiting to take you anywhere you want to go & give you the means to do so (& will negotiate).
  • Buy a drink package prior to the trip. Even if you don’t need the alcohol, get a soda/juice package so you can have lemonade, & such. It’s SO much cheaper buying it ahead of time.
  • Prepay gratuity. We got charged $14.50 per day, per person, for gratuity. Kind of a slap in the face after thinking it was all included with the cruise price. Make sure you pay it before you go!
  • Do karaoke. Seriously a blast & you make friends instantly. Ignition Remix if you want a couple extra bonus points.

decide

decide

So, do it. decide.

Is this the life

You want to live?

Is this the person

you want to love?

Is this the best you can be?

Can you be stronger?

Kinder? More compassionate?

Decide.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Decide.

[meredith grey – grey’s anatomy]

 

because our human brains were designed with zero capacity to know what the future holds, we waste a crazy amount of time weighing options and making choices. i get it… to a certain degree – do your research, analyze the pros and cons, the physical, mental, and emotional impact the decision will make on you and those around you. growing up our parents prayed we would always do this and “make good choices.” but at what point do we stop thinking that we are in control? god granted us free will to make decisions, but at the end of the day, all we can do is decide and trust that it is what god wants it to be for us. we get so caught up thinking that situations happen to us when it’s really that things happen to build something in us. so, decide. educate yourself of the options, then decide. there is no way of knowing that what you decided was the best option but the fun is that if it’s not, you get another chance. you always get another chance when you’re living for your creator and not yourself. so, if you’ve been waiting for that “sign” before making a big (or small) decision – this is it. decide and don’t do it for anyone but yourself.

 

if you’re happy & you know it

if you’re happy & you know it

 

happy first day of spring!

i have to admit, i was more excited for daylight savings on march 12th than my birthday on the 15th. and today is the first day of spring – i am a happy human. spring isn’t usually people’s favorite season – things are brown, it’s rainy and still pretty chilly out. typically seasons like summer and fall – when it’s warm and colorful – are more popular. the reason spring is my favie season is because “dead” things come to life – like jesus after easter!

fun fact: the word “lent” means spring – and if you didn’t know, we are in the midst of lent. 27 days until easter and jesus is resurrected as he promised!

spring means trees begin to bear leaves and fruit and green grass start to push through last year’s dead grass.

you start to see people out walking their dogs, going to the park, and driving with their windows down. bears come out of hibernation and so do humans.

the coke stand opens, people mow their lawns, dusk is at 7pm or later, you put away jeans, sweats, and sweatshirts and you break out the shorts and tees.

boats and rv’s come out of winter storage, birds come back from the south, the land gets tilled, no more sandy dirty roads from winter plows and waiting for vacations to the warm tropics.

baseball starts, softball starts, golf courses open, sunroofs open, ice and snow melts, dog poop somehow appears all over the yard, families do spring cleaning, houses get redecorated, and the dead leaves get swept off the porch.

my mom always told me that spring doesn’t officially

start until you see the first robin of the year.

what traditions do you have related to spring?

spring means the gardens get planted, the beach bags come out, sidewalk chalk trumps any other outdoor activity, mason jar bug collections appear, and the picnic basket gets filled.

there’s more laughing, bigger smiles, exposed skin, and happy hearts.

there are more pictures taken, invites offered, sandals bought, dog kisses, and sprinkler parties.

 

now you’re thinking, “yeah yeah katie, you just babbled about spring but what was the benefit of reading this until the end?” well, if you didn’t already know, the most important thing about today being the first day of spring is that dairy queen treats it as a holiday!

go get a free ice cream cone and celebrate spring!

a-z

A: anxiety. where all my anxious people at? whether you’re just discovering this sometimes smothering feeling, are on meds, or it has been/is taking over parts of your life – you’re not alone. as a matter of fact, over 18% of the us population has anxiety. anxiety is something that can easy have power over you in all areas in your life. i know it did in mine until it started affecting my relationships with people – then i decided i needed to regulate myself. i had increased temper and irritability, i was extremely moody, i needed things to go my way, and i had ocd tendencies. sounds fun, right? not so much. it’s been nearly 2 years since i started taking medication and my anxiety no longer has power over me! it’s not a scary thing, it’s not embarrassing or belittling, it’s part of who we are. living in a world with high expectations, it’s no wonder anxiety is on the rise. don’t let it have power over you – squish it like a bug, you’ll thank your past self one day.

B: behold: [v.] to see or observe a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one. to fix the eyes upon. all powerful and true. behold is a word that rings in the very deep part of my heart. each time i say it or hear it, it’s like hearing the wind of the holy spirit – it’s soft and mildly piercing, inviting and delicate but brave with utmost authority. next time you hear the word, digest it.

C: care. in one of my college classes our class was asked to list the 3 most important characteristics of a teacher. naturally, we came up with things like: responsible, kind, invested, knowledgeable, patient, respectful, differentiated, enthusiastic, caring, advocating, etc. we wrote them all on the board and decided as a class to narrow it down to the top 3. after that, our teacher became quite sincere and told us that the most important part about being a teacher is to care. kids learn better when they know they are cared about. when people care, good things multiply. caring is also an umbrella term – every important characteristic of teachers falls under caring. good parents care, good friends care, and it’s no different for teachers. think about your favorite teacher growing up – you probably don’t remember anything they taught you academically but you remember conversations after class, sharing good news with them, reaching out to them for advice, and caring about you. just care, friends.

D: death. are you scared to die? while talking with a friend lately, we talked about not being afraid to die because we know where we are going is without a doubt better than anything we can ever imagine – tenfold. but what is a perplexing and rather scary thought is that where we are going after death is forever. FOREVER. F O R E V E R… we are not capable of understanding forever and because its so massive and beyond our human comprehension, it scares the living daylights out of us. i’m christian and i believe in heaven and that i am saved by grace, but i’m not here to talk about life after death because it’s literally unknown to us. this is merely food for thought – death is a tough concept. what are your thoughts?

E: equality vs. equity. equality is everyone getting the same thing no matter what – just what we all want. “it’s not fair!” we hear AND say all too often. equity though, is when each individual gets what he or she needs to be successful. THIS is special education at its core!

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F: forgive but don’t forget. forgive and forget, right? not so much. always always always forgive. it doesn’t mean the other person wins, it means you win because you free yourself from their power over you. forgiveness, like knowledge, is a weapon people often look over. god forgives us unconditionally, so why do we think we have the right to not forgive others? on the flip side, forgiveness frees our hearts but it doesn’t mean we have to forget. when others hurt us, we don’t ever have to forget what happened. experience shapes who we are and forgiveness allows us to remain ourselves. don’t forget but always forgive.

G: goals. so i want to do everything. the other day in class after watching an astronaut news segment on cnn, my teacher asked our students if they would ever go to outer space. a lot of them said no because of how astronauts have to live in space, i immediately said “i do!” that seems to be a trend in my life, i want to do all things all the time. i want to go to grad school, i want to become a certified skydiver, i want to go to every state, heck – every country! i want to do everything – i have so many goals. yes, prioritized goals, but as long as i keep learning and growing, i can stride toward my goals. and so can you.

H: he who is without sin can cast the first stone. a sin is a sin, there is no scale that tells which sins are worse than others – god doesn’t rate our actions. if you would like to stone a prostitute to death, or a thief or murderer, don’t forget to consider your own sins before throwing anything… are you THAT much better than that rapist or murderer that you have the right to judge and therefore stone another person for their actions? moral of the parable: judgment is not our job.

I: “if you could have any super power?” the classic ice-breaker question. “i want to fly, be invisible, be super strong, read people’s minds or see through things” are usually the answers you hear. not me though – i want to be able to communicate in every single way with every single person in the world. i want to know sign language, chinese, arabic and every language in between. lip reading, body language, and off-the-grid language, slang, accents, braille, and eye-gaze. how cool would it be to, without any effort, walk up to someone and have no communication barriers – to be able to interpret accurately and understand fully. would there be more peace in the world? there’d be no miscommunication. i could go anywhere and create relationships with an infinite number people. imagine walking around new york city, being able to greet each person you walk past in their primary way of communication. i want that super power.

J: jo. jo is my middle name. as i wrote this, i learned that it means: to add, god is gracious, to enlarge – all pointing at the growth in family. i’m quite obsessed with my middle name, i share it with a cousin, aunt, and some friends. i love that it is simple and only 2 letters. in a bigger picture, i love knowing other people’s middle names. anytime i do ice breakers with new friends or am getting to know someone, i ask what their middle name is and where it comes from. also – the movie safe haven with julianne hough [my all time favorite celebrity] is super exciting because julianne’s fake name is katie and the ghost that is with her’s name is jo. obviously i’m obsessed.

K: knowledge is power. as cliché as it is, it’s true. [there’s a reason things are cliché] learning is the best weapon anyone could ever have. being educated about things you’re passionate about is something no one can take away form you. as a first generation college student in my family, i have thousands of dollars in debt, but what’s inside my brain is absolutely priceless and the single biggest tool i will have as an educator and person. be a life-long learner, immerse yourself into experiences that will build a foundation for meaningful conversation in the future.

L: love languages. words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. if you haven’t heard of these 5 love languages and learned which are yours, i encourage you to – you’ll learn a lot about yourself. things start making sense when you figure out how to be loved. explore your love languages!

M: mother nature. holy cats… some of my all time favorite things are in nature. i love leafless trees in the middle of winter on a clear blue-sky day. i love seeing a bird perched at the top of those trees. i love the smell of fresh cut grass and listening to a stream rush, squirrels rustle in leaves, and watching trees breathe. something that makes me stare into space in complete puzzlement is knowing that every plant and beast, earth, wind, and fire – every creation was made to worship their creator. every gust of wind, every bird’s song, every annoying cricket, buzzing bee, and drop of water is literally worshipping it’s creator by simply being what it was created to be. P.S. [E A R T H  D A Y] is saturday, april 22 and [A R B O R  D A Y] is friday, april 28. celebrate our planet all week!!!

N: no. surprise! yet another teaching inspired concept… negative feedback gets ingrained in our minds. when i’m lifeguarding – “no running!” at school – “no talking,” “don’t do that,” “stop.” these are all ways to put an end to something but we leave kids/students not knowing what it is we want them to be doing. so when i’m lifeguarding – “walk!” at school – “please be quiet,” “i’d rather you do ____,” and “at school we ____.” it’s psychological – without even knowing we are programming people’s minds around us and reinforcing behavior with our responses. it’s a way of thinking – a mindset. if you’re looking to be more positive, try eliminating negative response habits and replace them with responses that are less of a blow to people. happy yes-ing!

O: olive green. my favorite color next to brown! yes, brown is my favorite. If you’re scrunching your eyebrows, it’s fine I get it a lot. it’s such a natural color – soil, trees, wood, and a very common color for houses inside and out might I add! and olive green – forget about it. i know it’s trending right now but seriously it’s the best. get outside of your comfort zone – love colors you never thought you would!

P: photo booths. photo booths are my thang – i love the whole experience: from spotting a photo booth in a mall, to scrapping up dollar bills, cramming 2+ people in the tiny little booth, selecting a border, and remembering to look at the camera and not the screen. the best part? deciding what combination of faces to make to express the emotion shared between myself and who i’m with to capture the mood of our day. then after a stressful 12 seconds of being unrealistically photogenic and laughing at how silly a photo booth is, you channel your inner 5 year old self and stare at the drop box waiting for the photo strips to print. and when they do – you stare, point and laugh. photo booths are more than $5 pictures, it’s more than a selfie, it’s an experience. i challenge you to photo-booth [verb] the next time you see one. share the moment and keep the memory. i wish i invented photo booths – absolutely brilliant.

Q: quality vs. quantity. over time, i think we all learn that the quality of things is much more important than the quantity, to a degree… my father has always been an advocate for paying more for quality things so they last longer, they’re more reliable, etc. therefore, he’s not a fan of the family dollar. on the other hand, my mother is the queen of bargain shopping and getting the biggest bang for your buck. for example, she buys the pizzas we like whenever they’re on sale so we have about 16 pizzas on hand at all times [rockstar mom???]. i’d like to think i’m a mix of both, which would make sense because i’m their biological offspring. but – what about quality vs. quantity outside of material things? quality wins every time. 3 deep relationships will always beat 10 shallow ones. spending 2 hours of quality time with someone is worth much more than 6 hours of interrupted and surface time. quality, quality, quality [unless it’s pizza].

R: real talk [rt]. real talk is so important – don’t fear what people will think about the way you feel or your opinions, they are not you. it’s always bothered me when people say “it’s not a big deal.” um, hello… a kindergartener who lost a mitten is a big deal. a friend who is going to be late for curfew is a big deal. a broken pencil – big deal. a lost letter – big deal to a specific individual who values different things than you do. no one has a right to judge what is important in your life. a big deal to someone else may not even matter to us; but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important in the grand scheme of things. with the lack of face-to-face interaction these days, real talk in person is so critical to relationships. have valuable conversations with new people, learn something, dig deeper than the surface, and steer away form prejudging other people. having real talk with people builds trust, character, and strong relationships. surprise people by being patient, slow to anger, non-judgmental, willing, and constant – they will be surprised.

S: stories. there is something i love about listening to a story – how someone got their name, a good memory of a trip, or a war experience – the tone of someone’s voice and the way they use their hands to tell a story shows passion and purpose in what they are speaking. think about campfire stories, happy endings, and your imagination – stories are critical to growth and learning, not to mention happiness and fun. people relate through stories… a child can tell a story to a ninety year old friend and make a connection  – they may encourage others to tell their stories too!

T: timeless. time seems to have control over quite a bit in our lives and we forget about the things that are timeless… like handwritten letters, the smell of an old book, photographs [the ones you can hold on to], advice from grandma and grandpa, scrabble, calling someone on their birthday, giving back to your community, and bald eagles. A bit of advice [that I also need to be advised of], make time for what’s timeless.

U: universe. like the topic of death and forever [see letter d], the vastness of our universe absolutely blows. my. mind. like, you are one person, in one house, in one town, in one state, in one country, on one planet that belongs to one solar system within one galaxy and there are infinite galaxies. what. how small do you feel? as of late [the past few years] something i crave is to feel small in the bigness of god’s universe. i’m not going to sit here and say your problems “aren’t a big deal,” but next time something is bothering you, think about how big of a universe you live in. a universe that always existed and always will – like god: was, is, and always will be, the alpha and omega, the first and last, the beginning and end. isn’t it cool to think humans have only reached earth’s moon? wow. there is so much more to our universe and god is in every single cell.

V: violin. there’s nearly nothing else as simple as a violin that makes me instantly happy. when i see a live band and there is a violin, it’s like the world stops for a moment [or until it’s done playing]. something about a tiny string crossing a few others – like a tiny child teaching a few adults how to love in a very discouraging world – it makes a beautiful, nearly unbelievable sound. it’s soft and serene but intense and strong. in my opinion, it makes or breaks a band. and don’t even get me started on violin solos – forget about it, absolutely stunning. hands down my favorite instrument and the one i wish i could play, because hot damn.

W: who, what, when, where. who does god want me to interact with? what conversations does he want me to engage in? when does god want me to initiate? where does god want me? — these questions are ones that immediately stood out to me when I heard them from a friend in college. simple, basic questions that can literally guide your faith journey. write these down somewhere and put them in places you will see multiple times a day and see what happens.

X: xo. first off, why is xo, xo? well, in the middle ages, x meant something to be true which was encouraged by the cross of christ – “in christ’s name, it’s true, i assert.” then people would start to kiss the x in the same way they’d kiss a bible – essentially “sealing it with a kiss” thus, x signified kisses! as for o, who knows. xo is such a fun way to sign off a letter or some sort of message. subtle but meaningful. – xoxo katie

Y: you weren’t born to just pay bills & die. my dad always says “work to live, don’t live to work.” i know i know, i’m young and naive to money, but don’t wake up each day with the sole purpose to work – work to get a paycheck to pay bills to maintain your life to go back to work the next day to do it all over again. work to live – work to make that paycheck so you can do things that make you happy because paying bills makes no one happy. let your work be a part of your life rather than letting your life just be part of your work. we aren’t here to just pay bills and die – go explore, spend too much money doing something exhilarating, clock out on friday and get out of town for the weekend, go do happy. bills and grocery shopping aren’t going anywhere, and either are you if you think they hold priority over your happiness.

Z: zebra sweater. a good friend got her eyes on this silly zebra sweater when we were shopping one day. i didn’t like it – i thought it was silly and every time she wore it, i would just shake my head and smile. but the more i looked at that sweater, the more i understood why she loved it so much and how important it was that she didn’t let my opinion have power over hers. she loves that zebra sweater, and even though i think it’s silly, i love that she loves it. i love when she wears it because she feels fun and happy in it. if you ever find yourself eyeing up a zebra sweater [metaphor], don’t let anyone’s opinion decide whether you want to invest in it or not. too often we pass up opportunities to make us happy because of someone else’s opinion. so when you find a zebra sweater, buy it. love it. and wear it because it makes YOU happy.

 

 

become a happy hiker

hiking/backpacking is something i’ve taken up in the last couple years. my friend estelle and i have traveled to california, north dakota, and various local places to explore our adventurous side. there’s something about packing limited supplies in a backpack that’s nearly half your size to trek through hot days and set up camp for cold nights. it’s exhilarating. BUT, it doesn’t have to be a week long hiking trip without a shower, eating nothing but dry, lightweight meals over a fire… i love day trips to state parks where i can wear a small pack and think about nothing but the birds chirping and the stream rushing. have you ever had the urge to backpack atop a mountain or hike through the local state park that you drive by every day on your way to work? now is your time! i’m going to share some tips that i wish i’d have known before going on a day/week trip, share some helpful websites full of hiking/backpacking information, and hear from  people who are seasoned and early in their hiking/backpacking career!

happy hiker helpfuls:
take a compact saw, you never know when you’ll have to cut an old log apart for your fire.
make your own fire starters. here’s how i make mine with supplies i already have [and usually throw away]: dryer lint, empty toilet paper rolls, candle wax. clump a dryer lint ball up and dip half of it in candle wax, then stick it inside a toilet paper roll! voila – you have yourself some fire starters that you don’t have to carry out!
bug spray. bugs are #1, #2, and #3 on my most disliked things in the world. i will never go into the forest without bug spray! if you have any tips on DIY bug repellant that works, PLEASE let me know! How to Choose Bug Repellant
– blister protection whether it’s New Skin, Blister tape, or extra duct tape estelle says, “blisters can ruin the trip.” Blister Protection Tips
some way to filter water. bringing enough water for an entire trip is too heavy and just silly. find a way to filter stream water and check with the park to see if there are dispersed wells. Water Treatment Expert Advice
sleeping bagquality vs. quantity. even if it’s 40+ degrees at night, i wold recommend at least a 0-15 degree sleeping bag. It may be a bit more bulky than a 15-40 degree bag but trust me, it’s worth being warm at night! How to Choose a Sleeping Bag
bring a dog.
be prepared for rain.

Q & A:
[disclaimer: i am not an expert and the information i have is from experience, online, or advice from others.]

Q: how important is it to have hiking shoes? Would regular tennis shoes work?
A: i will always prefer hiking shoes. they have more structure and ankle support for the terrain. tennis shoes are absolutely okay but if you’re serious about hiking, i would recommend hiking shoes. visit REI for help choosing hiking boots!

Q: what foods and cooking gear should I bring?
A: i have some tin bowl/cups that i use over the fire, i always bring a small stove with bleuet fuel cubes in case it rains or i don’t make a fire. one set of reusable utensils, a couple silicone collapsable bowls and a a small cast-iron skillet! as far as food goes, i don’t want to buy freeze-dried food for every meal (boring & expensive) so i bring baggies of potato flakes, oatmeal, granola, noodles, canned mushrooms, baked beans, etc.

Q: how do you find out if you can have a fire where you are hiking/backpacking? (who can tell you the rules about fire in parks/campgrounds?)
A: before going, always check out the park website – they’ll have all park rules and regulations, trail maps, facilities, etc. if you have any other questions, always call the park office/ranger to see what the fire danger is (high, medium, low) and it varies by day so be sure to call right before leaving not week(s) in advance.

what is your favorite part about hiking/backpacking/camping:
“the view, the sound or lack of sound, less humans more trees, campfire food.”
“getting away from normal routine and spending time outside.”
“personal reflection, trees, using fun gear”

find dozens of “how to choose” articles, checklists, and advice articles here at REI!

Sierra Trading Post – a discounted website for us outdoor lovers.
(it’s a branch of TJmaxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods so obviously it’s the best.)

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San Diego
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Winona, MN
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Sheyenne National Park, SD
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Winona, MN

100 things that make me happy

100 things that make me happy:

  1. New socks
  2. A freshly washed chalk board
  3. A new page of stickers
  4. Glasses (the ones you put on your face)
  5. Waffle cones
  6. Kevin Costner
  7. A crowd cheering after the national anthem
  8. Hammocks
  9. A down comforter
  10. Jeep Wrangler Unlimiteds
  11. Carhartt
  12. An extra cheesy quesadilla with sour cream
  13. Snow days
  14. Planting flowers
  15. Boarding a plane
  16. Arriving at a destination
  17. My planner
  18. Blake Lively
  19. Simon called Peter
  20. A new year calendar
  21. Pearl sprinkles
  22. Tan lines
  23. Taco bell
  24. Remembering dreams
  25. Beef stroganoff
  26. Bald eagles
  27. A classroom lit by lamps
  28. Pilly fabric
  29. The sound of a tree cracking
  30. Someone’s contagious belly laugh
  31. Hot chocolate
  32. Brushing my teeth after drinking hot chocolate
  33. Thinking about the vastness of our universe
  34. Greeting someone at an airport
  35. Breadsticks
  36. A new pack of crayons
  37. A new pack of pens
  38. A new pack of markers
  39. Crayola [obviously]
  40. Coniferous trees
  41. Fresh cut fingernails
  42. Adidas
  43. Fireplaces
  44. Making s’mores in bulk
  45. Playing in the yard
  46. When there aren’t mosquitos
  47. Camp fire sing-alongs
  48. Without mosquitos
  49. Julianne Hough
  50. Vacuuming
  51. Coloring with children
  52. Making new friends
  53. Bombpops
  54. Tenting
  55. Playing catch
  56. Praise & Worship
  57. Grooming eyebrows
  58. Dr. Pepper
  59. Tubing (snow & water)
  60. Euchre
  61. Caramel Frappes
  62. Taking risks
  63. Sleeping like a rock
  64. The shack
  65. The smell of fresh laundry
  66. Being warm
  67. Planning adventures
  68. Planning anything
  69. Love languages
  70. A worn in t-shirt
  71. TJMaxx
  72. Old Navy
  73. Carbs
  74. People with disabilities
  75. Fishing
  76. Spotting a shooting star
  77. Puppies. Plural.
  78. Holding a newborn baby for hours
  79. Watches
  80. Jumping in a lake for the first time of the summer.
  81. Cuddling
  82. Bare trees against a clear sky
  83. Seeing a bird perched at the top of a tree without leaves.
  84. Slip ‘n’ slides
  85. Painting
  86. High school musicals
  87. Good humor
  88. Seahorses
  89. Good texters
  90. Catching up with old friend
  91. Stripes
  92. 2000’s country
  93. Lauren Daigle
  94. Seeing the waiter with my food
  95. My blankie
  96. Staying at a hotel
  97. Saucy fingers while eating chicken wings
  98. Looking at engagement pictures
  99. The detective emoji
  100. Having 100 things that make me happy.

there is something special about understanding that happiness is a choice – to know that if you aren’t happy, something needs to change.