Monthly Archives: October 2015

Five on Friday

It has been a particularly few hectic weeks at work. I think it’s starting to finally wind down a little bit, but one of my co-workers shared this the other day, and it really made me laugh. I wouldn’t trade my choice of career for the world, and I absolutely love it but you really have to have a sense of humor to survive. Laughter is what helps me get through the day.

Blue Ridge Parkway

As I mentioned last week, we are off to the mountains this weekend! We plan to make the 5ish hour drive after work on Friday. We plan to ride the train out of Bryson City on Saturday, followed by a short hike to a waterfall, then maybe drive the Blue Ridge Parkway again if it isn’t cloudy (I am bound and determined to catch a sunset from the Parkway one of these times!). Of course, we will be fitting in some casino time and a couple drinks as well. We will be driving back on Sunday so it’s just a short trip, but I took Monday off of work to recuperate 😉

Blue Ridge Parkway

We went to the North Carolina State Fair on Saturday! I will devote an entire post to this later, but we had a great time. It was the first time ever going to a state fair outside of Iowa for both of us. We ate a lot of good food, rode a couple of rides, played a couple of games, and had a great time.

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You may already know that we are big Cowboys fans, and even though I’m afraid we might be in for a long season, we love football and spend most of the day watching it in our sweatpants. We also have a tradition to make snack food and eat all day long. This weekend I made broccoli cheese soup, buffalo chicken dip, and these peanut butter balls. The peanut butter balls were a new recipe, and not only were they so easy to make, but they were to die for! I really don’t like baking (too tedious for me) but this is going to be my go-to for dessert, and I’m going to make them for Thanksgiving when we head to Florida to visit Mitchell’s family.

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Today is the 32nd anniversary of the Beirut bombing. Here in Jacksonville, they have a memorial which I have visited a couple of different times. I just wanted to take a minute to remember all of the sacrifices that have been made so that we may live the lives that we are accustomed to.

Beruit Memorial in Jacksonville, North Carolina

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

This is going to be one of those posts where you won’t have to listen to me talk (write?) quite so much because the pictures will speak for themselves. You’re welcome 😉

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives. Read this blog to find out a little more about it!

When we went to Bryson City over Labor Day weekend, one of the things I really wanted to do was drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina. While I’d love to take my time and drive the entire 469 miles someday, we drove for about 30 miles of it.

Blue Ridge Parkway views from different lookouts. Beautiful! Check out the blog to see more

When I was planning our Bryson City trip, I found myself pretty confused trying to figure out exactly where to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, once we rolled into town, I quickly learned that all you have to do is follow the signs because they are everywhere.

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I honestly had no idea what to expect. I feared twisty, windy, and scary roads but that was not the case at all. The roads were very well maintained, easy to drive, and there were plenty of lookouts with convenient parking every 5-10 miles. We somehow lucked out and had most of the lookouts to ourselves, with the exception of about 2 or 3. This was surprising because we were there not only on Saturday, but Labor Day Saturday (read: busiest weekend ever).

One of the beautiful sights from a lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

The first view took my breath away; I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was. I thought surely we wouldn’t beat the view but then every lookout we stopped at afterwards provided its own breath-taking, beautiful view. I could have stayed on the Blue Ridge Parkway much longer, but the sun was starting to go down.

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina - check out more pictures on the blog

When we visited the Blue Ridge Parkway, it was cloudy. While this makes for good pictures, it does not make for good sunset-viewing.

Blue Ridge Parkway from North Carolina

We are headed back to the area again this weekend, and hope to catch the sunset and Autumn-colored trees. We also plan to take a train ride, which I’m so excited about!

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Five on Friday

Five on Friday

  1. We have been talking about getting a new TV for our bedroom since we moved here 9 months ago. Our room is big, and since our TV is the size of a computer monitor (or smaller), we can’t see it from our bed. We finally bit the bullet and got a new one, and I’m so happy. We also headed to Sam’s Club to buy a bunch of food so that I could stock our freezer full of meals for the weeknights. It was my first time, and it’s something I’m going to do on a regular basis – I had a lot of fun making everything, and it’s so nice to not have to worry about putting a lot of work into meals on weeknights.IMG_1681
  2. I found these socks in the middle of summer at Target, and I absolutely love them! I’ve been waiting a few months for it to cool down enough for me to wear them, and since fall weather is upon us, I made it happen!IMG_1701
  3. Speaking of fall weather, we are planning on heading to the mountains again next weekend to see the leaves. I’m so excited that I can hardly stand it! I’m hoping that we’re able to hop on the train this time, but we’ve tossed around the idea of white water rafting again. I’m not sure what we’ll have time for, and I know it’s a busy time of year (everybody wants to see the leaves!) But speaking of the mountains, I just realized how far behind I am on updating this blog with our newest travel adventures….So stay tuned!

    Blue Ridge Parkway

    I can’t wait to see what this looks like fall colors!

  4. The state fair in Iowa is a very important event – almost everyone goes to the fair at least once during the 10 days, if not more. North Carolina’s state fair is this weekend, and we are going to go to Raleigh to check it out. This will be my first state fair outside of Iowa, so I’m interested to see what it will bring. I already checked out the food (that’s the whole purpose of the fair, right?) and found they will have deep fried bacon wrapped tootsie rolls. WHAT? It has to be comparable to Iowa with something like that.

    Iowa State Fair

    This is the only picture I have of the Iowa State fair, and it’s a selfie. I promise I’ll take better pictures next time!

  5. Travel plans: I don’t like sitting still too long and unfortunately, my travel addiction is only getting worse (which I’m sure you’ve picked up on since 3 of my 5 things are related to travel….). Luckily, Southwest had a sale on flights this week to apologize for all of the delays they experienced last week. I usually don’t check out their sales much because the flights that are on sale tend to be destinations that you could easily drive to, but I decided to check it out this time and I’m so excited to announce we’ll be heading to Nashville for our anniversary in December! We were able to “pay” for these tickets with our points and didn’t even have to dip into Mitchell’s $200 voucher. It will be a quick 3-day trip, but it’s a free 3-day trip!
    On a related note, have you all heard the travel hack to search for flights in an incognito window? There is evidence suggesting that if you do this, you will find cheaper flights because using a regular browser, the websites will track your cookies and increase the prices when you return at a later date. I always thought that this was kind of a rumor despite many claiming otherwise; I search for flights consistently and haven’t seen the fluctuation in prices that so many people talk about. Anyways, I had done research on Southwest’s website earlier this week to determine which destination we would choose for our anniversary (Ft. Lauderdale and Baltimore were the same sale price) and when I went to book our tickets yesterday, the ticket that I’d been planning to book had increased! I thought maybe I was just mistaken, and that I’d confused the prices, so I opened an incognito window just to be sure. Low and behold, on my incognito tab, the ticket was back to its original sale price!Untitled
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Bryson City, North Carolina

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Just in case you haven’t already picked up on a theme here, I really love the beach. And I mean I really love the beach, like borderline obsessed. But for Labor Day I knew I wanted something different. Both Mitchell and I were blessed with a rare 3 day weekend for Labor Day that I knew we had to take advantage of. Since tourists would be flocking to the beaches, and since I go to the beach at least once a week anyways, we opted for something a little different.

Topsail Island

My beloved Topsail Island, where you can find me almost every Saturday

It’s surreal to me that a mere half day’s drive will get you from the beach to the mountains. Albeit beautiful, the picture below is what I am used to, and even an 8 hour drive wouldn’t bring you from that picture to mountains OR to the beach. Is this real life?

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Iowa is beautiful, but it doesn’t have mountains or the beach!

I knew I wanted to spend our Labor Day somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and when Mitchell agreed that a weekend relaxing in the mountains was a great idea, I immediately set off to plan, but I didn’t get very far. Maybe it’s because I was completely unfamiliar with both the area, as well as with mountain towns, but I found it difficult and overwhelming to find the perfect city for our mountain getaway weekend. There’s no guide that lists all of the cities the Parkway passes through (understandably, as that would be a long list) and I had no idea where to even start.

So, in true fashion, I procrastinated and quit thinking about it for a while. Then a few weeks later, I was trying to clean up one of my pinterest boards when I came across an attractive picture of a group of people tubing alongside a waterfall. A quick click on the picture informed me that it was taken in Bryson City, and the rest was history.

Bryson City, North Carolina

A picture very similar to this one is what inspired me to visit Bryson City!

We had been to Cherokee before, which is close to Bryson City, and while we didn’t want to stay somewhere we had already been for our long weekend, we were stoked that the two towns were so close together. Cherokee happens to be home to Harrah’s casino, and there just aren’t as many casinos here in North Carolina as there are in Iowa!

We stayed at the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Bryson City, not that we really had a choice, as it was the only hotel with rooms available that were less than $300 a night. I had wanted a cabin, but given that it was Labor Day weekend, we had to rent it for a minimum of 4 nights, and we’d only be staying 3. I would highly recommend looking into a cabin, as they are a little cheaper than a hotel, and most come with the same amenities.  There are also ample opportunities for camping, but we didn’t want to deal with the rain if it decided to rain the entire weekend.

Hotel Room

Our average hotel room – not as exciting as a cabin!

Our hotel ended up being in the perfect location. It was about a 5 minute drive into the actual town of Bryson City, 15 minutes from where we went white water rafting, 20 minutes to Deep Creek (where we went hiking), and also only 20 minutes to Cherokee. No matter where we would have stayed, driving would have been involved as none of these places we visited were centrally located to the other.

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Do you see the rainbow?

I find myself really frustrated by this trip. Like I mentioned before, I categorized myself as a beach girl. I foolishly thought you were one or the other. I didn’t know it was possible to love both so much. Why is this frustrating, you ask? Because now I really can’t get enough. I’m already planning a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to see the fall leaves. It’s not like I needed more inspiration to fuel my desire to travel, but I got it from this trip anyways and now I can’t quit daydreaming about all of the mountain towns I need to add to my “to visit” list, which was already so long to begin with.

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Our last night in Bryson City, we caught this gorgeous sunset from our hotel. I should also mention that this isn’t edited at all – it truly is that beautiful!

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Five on Friday

Five On Friday!

O N E
Mitchell has been back in Iowa for about a week now, and will be coming back home on Sunday. His trip back to Iowa coincided with my mom going back home from visiting me, so not only did I have to return to the real world after a relaxing and wonderful vacation with my mom, but I also had to return to an empty house. I must admit that although I love having the house to myself (honestly, when will I ever be completely alone for one full week again?), I miss him and I’m so excited for him to be home!

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Hard to believe this was just 8 days ago. I hardly remember what the sun looks like!

T W O
Earlier this week, we were anticipating Hurricaine Joaquin this weekend; it looks like she’s going to be too far away from us to do much, which I’m thankful for. It would have been my first hurricane, and I was pretty nervous all week. I’m looking forward to a weekend of sweatpants, pumpkin-flavored coffee, and snuggling up on the couch with my cats and a good book. And, of course, I’ll be traveling to Raleigh (assuming Mother Nature allows it) to pick up Mitchell from the airport on Sunday.

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This is the most accurate forecast I’ve seen so far

T H R E E
Anchors. I love anchors. I loved anchors before they were cool. I have an anchor tattoo with a chip in it, which symbolizes the inability to stay in one place for too long/the inability to be tied down (translation: travel). I had met someone in Key West who had a similar anchor tattoo, and told me of its meaning and I knew right then and there that this was the exact tattoo I was meant to have. Not only do I love anchors (I have really enjoyed my time working for the navy), but Key West is my favorite place in the world (where I got the idea), and of course, the meaning behind it sealed the deal.

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I got the tattoo with my mom and sister, and this was right when it was fresh. Ignore the nasty shoes I’m wearing – I didn’t even realize those were the shoes I was wearing until my sister took this picture, ha.

So anytime I’m shopping and see something with an anchor on it, I usually have to have it. Well, on vacation in a beach town, that isn’t hard to find. So I went a little crazy and added to my collection! I am not used to having endless opportunities of anchor stuff. And, I must add this confession: I really didn’t need that tote because I also have an obsession with totes, and I have way too many already. But I loved it too much to pass up!

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The bottom left bag matches the beach tote my best friends gave me perfectly, and it will be perfect for storing things I don’t want to get sandy, like my Nook, phone, keys, ect and the one on the top is going to be my new makeup bag

F O U R

This might be kind of cheesy, but I started 100 Days of Happiness on my Instagram. Before vacation, I was in a horrible funk. I was really negative and downright miserable. I love living in North Carolina, but sometimes my job really sucks (just like anyone else’s) and not having as many friends to vent to at Happy Hour after work takes a toll. Thankfully, vacation left me feeling refreshed and to keep that feeling and to stay in the right mind frame, I decided to join my co-worker who is also doing the 100 Days of Happiness. I am really trying to become a more positive person overall, and I already feel like I’m in a better state of mind (follow me on Instagram).

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F I V E
I have been reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (the author of Gone Girl). Unfortunately, my Nook is malfunctioning so I haven’t been able to finish the book which is killing me. So far, it has been impossible to put down, and I honestly contemplated heading to Target to buy it just so I can finish it. But I know that Mitchell will be able to fix my Nook, so I suppose I’ll (impatiently) wait it out.

Hope everyone has a good week!

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