July Highlights

In July we hosted friends for the Fourth, pet-sat a few friends’ dogs, and stayed in town most weekends, except for a quick trip to Charlotte. It was a very good summer month, but I’m not entirely sad to see it go, mainly because it means the Whole30 diet is over (more on that later). Here are some more memories from the month, and how I fared on my monthly goals.

July 2014 Highlights

July Highlights:

+ Watermelon cookies!
+ Puppy love
+ Ping pong playing in the backyard
+ Wainscoting progress
+ Lots of Whole30-approved meals
+ An evening in Charlotte at my sister’s (I love her house)
+ Spending time with my friends’ babies
+ Date night with this fella
+ Ray LaMontagne concert

July Goals:

Accomplished:

  • Finish wainscoting in dining room // YES!! Pictures and tutorial coming soon.
  • Host friends for Fourth of July // YES! Fun times.
  • Do one thing on my DIY or craft pinterest boards // Let’s just call the massive wainscoting project one of them.
  • Finish one book // Read Carry On, Warrior
  • Keep basil and tomato plants alive // Just barely.

Not so much:

  • Clean out all of our closets // Ha. I didn’t clean out a single one.
  • Go to the pool / beach / lake / some body of water // Nope.
  • Start training for the Savannah Half Marathon // I started running, but wouldn’t really call it training.

How was your July? :)

August Goals

Hello August

Hello August! I am so happy to greet you! The lazy days of summer are coming to a close and I feel things starting to ramp up for a new season. We have a fun-packed month planned, including two weekend trips to see family, and lots of local events planned in between. I also really want to organize my house. We moved into our house a year ago and I feel like we just packed things into spaces because we wanted it out of a box. J is out of town one weekend, so I plan to tear the house apart and put it all back together in an organized, functional way. We’ll see how much actually gets done. ;) On to my goals this month….

August Goals:

  • Start training for the half marathon (eeks!)
  • Go on a date with J in Durham
  • Transition into eating 80% Whole30 approved foods
  • Give this blog a little refresh
  • Get all of our cars inspected and pay for car insurance (August is our dreaded expensive car month!)
  • Write a letter to our sponsored child Jacques in Togo
  • Map out meal ideas from August to December
  • Map out blog post ideas from August to December
  • Clean out the linen closet and guest room closet
  • Clean out and organize the garage
  • Celebrate living in our house one year! And blog house tour, room by room, one year later

What are you up to this month? Leave your goals and plans in the comments, I would love to read them. :)

PS – Want more inspiration of what type of goals to make in August? Check out my goals from August 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2009. Evidently I didn’t make any goals in 2010. :)

DogVacay + A Night on the Town

I am no blog superstar by any means, but occasionally I am approached by advertisers to check out their products or pay me in exchange for a post on the site. As you can tell from the lack of sponsored posts on this site, I normally reject them. I’m not against sponsored posts per say, just am very selective about the companies I endorse and never ever want to come across as writing something just for a buck. If it isn’t something I naturally wouldn’t write about anyways, I politely decline.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from the folks at DogVacay asking whether I would be interested in using their service for my dog for free and a gift card towards a night on the town, in exchange for a blog post. They even included a picture of Leia found from my blog in their email:

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Presh. Advertisers, if you want to get the attention of a publisher, find an adorable picture of their dog and they’ll be 10x more likely to pay attention to your message.

DogVacay reminds me a little of Airbnb, except for your pet. Instead of sending your dog to a boarding place, you can send your pup to stay at someone’s house. A little home away from home. Plus they include free pet insurance, 24/7 customer support and (my fave) a daily photo update so parents know what’s going on while they are away from their pet.

I love this concept, and it’s certainly something I could see ourselves using for the next time we go out of town. So I decided why not! Let’s have a fun evening downtown and see what this service is all about.

I searched the listings and found Shelly, who lives fairly close to my house, and contacted her whether she was free to watch Leia Saturday to Sunday. We met up at a dog park to make sure Leia and her pup got along (they did), and I made the reservation online. Easy peasy.

Saturday afternoon we dropped Leia off for her Dog Vacay date, then hit the town!

As much as J and I love to travel, we’re kind of boring cheapskates when it comes to where we live. We tend to stay in the five-mile radius of our house and stick to our same old restaurants and same old routine. And normally when we do anything fun for an evening, we always have to rush to be back to feed and take Leia out, so it was good to know she was in good hands while we were out.

We parked our car at the Red hat Amphitheater and explored downtown Raleigh.

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We walked around downtown for a bit, stopping into a few antique shops and boutiques. We first went into Father and Son’s Antiques, which is a four-story shop filled with vintage indy treasures.

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^This chair felt very Emily Henderson to me. 

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I liked this shirt from Deco shop. North Carolina residents, are you a tomato or vinegar bbq fan? :)

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After walking around for a bit, we ate dinner at Cafe Luna, a charming Italian restaurant near Moore Square. I am in the middle of the Whole 30 challenge, and it was reeeeeeally hard to stick to the diet when all I wanted bread and wine and pasta! But I was on day 18, and determined not to cheat, no matter how tempting. I ordered red snapper with grilled vegetables, and it was delicious.

IMG_1942IMG_1941Sorry for the blurry photo … I always hate being “that girl” that is taking photos of her food in a nice restaurant. ;) 

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Meanwhile, I got some sweet pictures from Shelly! They went to the dog park and she said she was having a good time and behaving herself. :) It was so nice to get an update!

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After dinner we walked back to the Red Hat Amphitheater for the Ray LaMontagne concert. This was my first time at the amphitheater, and it’s a really nice venue with the Raleigh skyline behind you.

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The show was great! For a concert in July it was certainly warm, but not nearly as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. The whole time J and I were like Why do we never do stuff like this?! So add “do something new in Raleigh/Durham” to every monthly goal for the rest of the year. ;)

We got home late, and then picked up Leia Sunday morning. She evidently had a great time because she literally slept all Sunday afternoon:

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It was so nice to go out for an evening and explore downtown Raleigh, all the while knowing Leia was in good hands.

If you’re a dog owner and need a place for your pet, use the promo code PRETTYPENNY for $10 off the next time you use DogVacay.com.

Also! A lot of readers have asked me about how to make a little extra cash if you’re trying to pay off debt or looking to make a little extra income, so if you are a dog lover, you could sign up to be a host. Sounds like a really easy way to make some money doing what you love. :)

Dog owners — what do you normally do with your pup when you are out of town? Friends or boarders? 

PS – Disclosure: If you couldn’t tell from my first paragraph, this was a sponsored post by DogVacay, but all opinions were mine. :) 

Seven Tips on Traveling with your Significant Other

In the beginning of a relationship, your world is like a little fairy tale. Life is happy and love is wonderful. Your significant other can do no wrong! If their tastes differ from yours, it’s endearing! If they want to do something you’ve never done, you’re game! Anything is fun with you, darling!

Eventually, though, these love-colored glasses start to fade into a secure, comfortable relationship, and you start to notice that you are in fact, very different people with very different tastes. I realized this shortly after dating that J that we were really different. In so many aspects of our life.

Including traveling.

We have very different agendas when we travel. He loves to get to know a place like a tourist — museums, tours, popular restaurants, organized fun. I, on the other hand, like to blend in when I travel and do what the locals do — eat at the hole in the wall places, shop at the one-of-a-kind boutiques, and study maps of cities beforehand so I act like I know where I’m going (sidenote: my proudest moment of our trip to Boston was when someone asked me for directions. Ha!)

We were long distance for two years, so every time we had a chance to travel we visited the other person, which was different than a real trip or vacation. So I was a little worried one of my favorite things in the world (traveling) would be ruined after we got married and I’d never be able to enjoy a trip again. (If I could go back in time to my 24-year old self, I would say: Ease up, princess. Marriage is a partnership. You love J and you love being with him, so you will enjoy traveling with him.)

It’s taken a lot of communication and a little practice, but we are finally at the point where traveling is our favorite thing to do together. Here are some ways J and I make it work.

7 tips on traveling with your significant other

1. Decide on a trip budget and how you’re going to pay for it.

Did you know that money is the number one thing couples argue about? Guess what, that applies when you travel together. There is nothing worse than coming home from a great trip and then paying for it for the next few months in credit card payments. Figure out what you want to do, where to stay, how you’re going to get there, how much it should cost, and then how you plan to save for it. If you can’t afford it, don’t plan it.

2. Spend as much money before the trip as you can.

The last thing you want to be thinking about when you are traveling is money. It’s a buzz kill. You are on a trip to relax or get away, not stress about whether your budget is going to break this month. For this reason, we try to pay for the trip in stages, and as much as possible beforehand. For our recent trip to Boston, we bought our flights in February, booked our lodging in March, bought our Go Boston pass (for all of the attractions we planned to visit) in April, and bought our Red Sox tickets in May. The only money we spent out of pocket during our trip was on food and two $5 subway rides. The trip was sooo much less stressful while we were there since almost everything had already been paid for.

3. Communicate expectations.

Half the fun of going on a trip is the planning, at least for us. We dream about what we want to do, places we want to see, and (maybe most importantly — for me), where we want to eat. When J and I are planning a trip, we communicate what our purpose is beforehand. What is the balance of relaxing to sight-seeing? We make a list of things we want to do and figure out why we are going and what we want to do in order to meet those expectations. Our trip to Boston was most definitely not relaxing, and we both agreed beforehand that we would be on the go most of the time.

4. Come up with your must-do items.

Before a trip, J and I each come up with a must-do or must-see or must-eat list. These are things that if they don’t happen, we would be disappointed. For our trip to Boston, J wanted to go to a Red Sox game. For me it was bike riding around the city and going out for a nice meal. If all of our other plans fell through but we ended up doing those things, we would be perfectly happy. Both partners get to choose at least one thing, then decide what else is on your list and prioritize the rest.

5. Make time to relax.

We like to pack in as much as we can when we are in a new place. But you can only go so long running around without losing steam or needing a break. And losing steam — or worse, getting hangry — is never conducive to a good time. Make time to relax and take it easy. Sleep in. Go out for a long, lingering brunch. Take a break at a quaint coffee shop and scroll through the photos you’ve taken that day. When I look back to the various trips we’ve taken, these are some of my favorite memories.

6. Do something you normally wouldn’t do. 

The root of my hesitation in traveling with J was fear of losing my voice and only doing what he wanted to do. But that’s just silly — marriage is all about compromise, and I have learned so much through doing things outside of my little box. Our trips are so much fun because we each do things we naturally wouldn’t do, together. I would never buy tickets to see a Red Sox game by myself, but I had the best time and loved seeing J’s face light up when he entered Fenway Park. He would never choose to go on a 20-mile bike ride, but he had a great time and it made me really happy. We were riding around in the cheesy duck tour quacking around town at people we saw on the street, and I literally was laughing the entire time. These things make the trip fun, keep things interesting, and you learn a lot more about your significant other by experiencing things they love.

7. Let go of expectations and laugh when things go wrong.

Expectations can ruin a trip fast. Just let ‘em go. And when things go wrong (like the time we got lost biking in downtown Boston during morning rush hour), the best plan of action is to laugh and work together.

What tips do you have when you traveling with your significant other?
Do you like to do more touristy things, or lean towards what the locals do?

PS - Day one, two and three from our Boston trip, in case you care to read more. :)



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