Thursday, June 27, 2013

What's In My Beach Bag

Packing a beach bag is simple, but there are a few items I cannot live without for the day. Living in Florida allows us to enjoy summer just about all year long, so I've really honed my beach bag packing skills since moving here. Sometimes we take a car full of stuff to the beach for long days, but I do have a few essential items that are must haves no matter what.

... my must have beach bag items ...

What's In My Beach Bag

7. straw bag  8. striped beach towel

I spent my summers swimming and playing in the lake where I grew up in northern Michigan. Over the years, I experienced my fair share of bad sunburns. Today, I'm aware of my increased risk of skin cancer due to those sunburns. That scares the heck out of me, so I rarely (almost never) set foot outside in the sun without skin protection these days. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and lip balm with sun protection are all non-negotiable items when it comes to packing my beach bag. A hat helps keep the sun from my already prematurely aged skin. Even though I've had a lot of bad sunburns, today I'm much more proactive when it comes to my skin.

walking along the shore of the Atlantic on South Beach in Miami

Oh, and I always bring along my iPhone for impromptu pictures on the beautiful beach!
I just know that Tory Burch flamingo case would look perfect in my hand
while enjoying the sound of crashing waves. :)

. . : . : . What's in your beach bag? . : . : . .

thanks for viewing

now go link up with {av}
at Long Distance Loving

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dushanbe Tea House | Boulder, CO

Boulder, Colorado is full of great restaurants, but there's one place in town where you'll get a unique experience you won't find anywhere else. That place would be the Dushanbe Tea House. Not only is the tea selection remarkable, but the food and architectural details of the building will blow you away too.

exterior of the tea house

The city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan, Boulder's sister city, gave the tea house as a gift to Boulder. Artists from Tajikistan hand carved the ceilings and columns without the use of power tools. When seeing the creation in person, you can't help but be amazed. Visiting the Dushanbe Tea House is one experience you shouldn't miss when visiting Boulder.

My cousin and my friend Laura, who I spent the weekend in Boulder with, joined me for brunch and tea at the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. I had been looking forward to visiting the tea house for weeks. There is an extensive tea selection, and I'm no tea connoisseur, but I do enjoy a good cup of tea every now and then. We had a really nice pot of oolong tea while we enjoyed our meal.

pour me some tea, please

Boulder's sister city of Dushanbe gave the tea house to Boulder as a gift. The ceiling and columns were carved by artisans in Tajikistan, and no two columns are alike. Just sitting inside the tea house and taking in the sights is a great way to pass some time. Sitting inside the tea house while gazing at hand carved columns and ceilings is enough to inspire even the least artistically inclined.

interior carvings on columns and ceilings

Aside from the tea, we all enjoyed a wonderful meal from the brunch menu. You really couldn't go wrong with any of the menu items, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our meals. The silence after the food arrived spoke for itself. I enjoyed every single bite of my omelette, potatoes, and biscuit.


If you are in or visiting Boulder, do yourself a favor and make a trip to the Dushanbe Tea House. You won't regret it. Even if you don't like tea, there are so many other things you will enjoy while there.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Black & Gold Accessory Love

Lately I've been on a bit of a black and gold kick. Years ago, I never would have been caught dead wearing gold jewelry, and somewhere along the lines I obviously had a change of heart. These days it seems I've been slightly favoring gold over silver, and I guess that's okay. Change is inevitable, right?

top : target  |  jeans : h&m  |  necklace : windsor  | shoes : target

{ left to right }  old from forever 21 (similar)  |  handmade by me  |  baublebar

I especially love how gold really pops with a black accent near it. For the longest time I'd wanted the House of Harlow 5 Station necklace, but the price tag wasn't very appealing. When I found a knockoff at Windsor for about $10, I knew I had to have it. It's going to be a go-to necklace this summer.

How about you.... do you like gold jewelry?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Let's Pretend It's Sunday

Hey friends! Can we just pretend that I didn't forget to write and schedule my Sunday Currently post yesterday. Or maybe we can just pretend that today is Sunday. Then we'll skip right over Monday and move on to Tuesday tomorrow. Okay? Good.

wearing one of the bracelets I made this week

reading still nothing. This is one of the longest breaks from reading I think I've had in a long time. I really need to get my hands on a new book soon. It's been far too long.
writing nothing much. I guess I've been so busy painting and making bracelets that I've been neglecting other creative outlets.
listening to an episode of Modern Family playing on the television. My husband just had a root canal, and he's lounging on the couch and relaxing right now. Poor guy.
thinking that I'm hungry and need to eat something for lunch!
smelling my Flowerbomb perfume wafting through the air around me. Love that smell.
wishing for a trip to the beach soon. We really don't get there often enough.
hoping that Florida temperatures and humidity stay as low as possible. Maybe Orlando is cooler than Tampa, because summer has scared me as much as it used to...
wearing (see photo above) H&M skinny zipper ankle jeans, black tank and a grey dolman sleeve top from Target, and one of the bracelets that I made.
loving that we have a trip to Michigan coming up this summer. I can't wait to spend time on the water and hopefully take another trip to Mackinac Island too.
wanting food to magically appear in our refrigerator so I don't have to visit the grocery store this week. Ha. Wishful thinking.
needing to make a trip to the grocery store. Ugh.
feeling seriously amazing that we just watched Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon on a tightrope wire last night. Wow. Just wow.
clicking through some gorgeous dresses on Rent the Runway. I've been wanting to rent one of their beautiful dresses for a while now, but we don't really have any upcoming occasions that would call for a special outfit. Darn.

* If you missed previous editions of The Sunday Currently, you can see them all here

Now link up your edition of The Sunday Currently with Lauren

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer 2013 Wish List

Let's ring in the first day of summer with a seasonally inspired wish list. Why not, right? The past couple of months have found me doing very little blogging, and I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things. What better way to get back into regular blogging than by dreaming up a fun summer wish list for Long Distance Loving's Friday's Fancies?

photo taken during our recent trip to Miami

Summertime has been a hot-button subject around here the past couple of years. Mainly, my husband and I have had a tough time adjusting to the summer heat and humidity in Florida. I'm cautiously optimistic, but this year we aren't dreading the summer season as badly as the past couple of years. I really hope we continue in this positive direction, because summer lasts a really long time in Florida. Let's see how we're faring come August. On to my summer wish list shall we...

Summer Wish List

{ clockwise from top }

Michael Kors Jemma aviators
C Wonder iphone case
Sun Bum sunscreen
Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C. handbag
Sam Edelman Gigi sandal
Hipanema beach bracelet

Summer in Florida deserves some colorful and fun accessories, and it also requires some stylish sunglasses for all the sunny days we get. I'd be happy to get my hands on any of these summer wish list items. What about you.... what's on your summer wish list?

Oh, and to really set the mood for summer:

Summertime by Will Smith on Grooveshark

thanks for viewing

now go link up with {av}
at Long Distance Loving

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Denver Hyatt Regency : Fun in an Elevator

The Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver is full of surprises. You might even find a cow in an elevator during your stay. You're probably wondering how the heck a cow can fit into an elevator, but it can. Me and this cow even had a little stare down while headed to our, me and my husband's... not me and the cow's, room on the 13th floor. Most hotels don't use the number 13 for a floor, but the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver does. We stayed on the 13th floor and lived to tell the story. Don't worry, the cow made it out alive too. I can't say the same for the ones we drove by in the eastern Colorado feed lots though. Sad.

The elevator videos are one of the things I always look forward to while visiting, or staying at, the Hyatt Regency in Denver. I was sad to discover that many of the elevator screens weren't working during our stay, but we did stumble onto a couple of different elevator cars that had working screens. I suppose if you were afraid of elevators, a nice calm country scene, or a cow in your face, might ease your fears a little. If not, at least it provides a little bit of entertainment.

My husband didn't want his picture with the quiet country scenery,
but I made him pose next to it anyways. I'm such a nice wife. Ha. ha.

- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -

Speaking of being a nice wife, I also made my husband pose with me for a couple photos in these same elevators on our wedding day! We even smooched in one of the elevators. Don't tell anyone, okay?

photos by Alison Rose Photography in Denver

Who knew elevators could be so much fun?!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Avery Brewing Company | Boulder, CO

During my Colorado visit, I managed to squeeze in a brewery visit and tour. It pays to know people in the brewing business. My friend Laura's brother just so happens to work for Avery Brewing Company in Boulder. He was kind enough to give us a private tour of the brewing facilities after work. Beer tasting was involved as well.

Avery brews some really great tasting beers. I wish I would have written down the names of all the ones we tasted. Every single one of them was great! I especially enjoyed a beer named Trogdor : The Burninator. It's described as a "gently-smoked German-style Doppelbock, and it was tasty.

The beer name "Trogdor : The Burninator" had me laughing though, because in college I remember watching an animated Homestar Runner video about Trogdor the dragon. You can watch it here if you're interested in knowing why I was laughing over this beer name. I couldn't help but sing a little Trogdor tune in my head while drinking that beer.

After tasting some of the delicious Avery brews, we got our private tour of the brewery. The whole brewing process always amazes me. I guess that's the love of chemistry that comes out in me every time I get around a brewery. The fact that raw ingredients, like hops, grain, and barley, go through a process that ends in beer is incredible to me. One of these days I swear we'll start home-brewing.

My friend Laura's brother didn't let us leave empty handed. He sent us off with some bombers of Avery beer. Spending time with my friend at a great Colorado brewery, getting a private tour, and leaving with free beer didn't make me miss Colorado any less. I guess it's a good thing we can get our hands on some Avery beer in Florida, but we'll have to make special trips to the Avery Brewing tasting room to try special beers like Trogdor or Eremita.

If you live in Colorado, or the Boulder area, be sure to stop by Avery Brewing Company's tasting room for some great beer you won't find anywhere else. Or just pick some up at the store on your way home. Either way, don't miss out on their tasty beer!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Back to Reality & Where I've Been...

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have wondered what I've been doing the past few weeks. I have been absent from blogging for quite a while. I attempted to schedule a month worth of blog posts during Jenni's blog every day in May challenge, but I plum ran out of time before leaving for Colorado. I did my best, but I fell a couple weeks short. I wanted to enjoy every minute with family/friends while I was gone from home, so I put blogging on the back burner for quite a few days. I'm back now, and I'm glad to be here. Sorry this catch-up post is so long. Thanks for hanging with me through it.

{ beautiful Red Feather Lakes in Colorado }

Here's the condensed version of my trip:

Over the past few weeks, I flew off to Colorado and spent time with a good friend in Boulder. Then I stayed with my aunt and cousin until my mom flew in from Michigan. All of us, plus one of my aunt's friends, flew off to Santa Barbara, California. We stayed in a cute little town called Carpinteria, and we got to see my aunt graduate with her masters degree! I am so proud of her accomplishments. After that time in California, we flew back to Denver where I met up with my husband who was visiting friends in Colorado for a few days. That evening my husband and I stayed in downtown Denver at the same hotel we stayed at on our wedding night. We had a nice evening and enjoyed watching the sunset over the Rocky Mountains. The next morning we drove off to eastern Colorado to my husband's hometown. We spent time with his family and enjoyed country life. (If you follow me on Twitter & Instagram you probably saw some evidence of this already.) After a few days in eastern Colorado, we spent a couple nights at a cabin in the mountains with my husband's family. We really enjoyed getting away from it all. Then we met up with more of my husband's family for a delicious barbecue dinner at one of our favorite restaurants to visit while we're in Colorado! Yum. We stayed at a hotel near the airport before flying back to Florida bright and early the next day. Whew!

{ somewhere over the middle of America }

- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -

It was so nice spending time with family and friends. Although sometimes it's the weirdest thing moving away. You start feeling like a big of a foreigner in your own hometown. Your old stomping grounds begin to feel different as well. I noticed so many things that had changed in Denver. Some of my favorite places no longer existed, and that was a little sad to see. At the same time, I've changed too. Change is inevitable, and life just keeps on trucking at a breakneck pace. Funny how that happens even when you'd like it to slow down a bit. Going back home to the small town where you grew up is a nice change of pace though. Small towns don't change so quickly. I guess that comfort always exists. The familiar is comforting, but boy is the unknown exciting too.

ever evolving Denver

I had so much fun exploring a the Clyfford Still Museum and downtown Denver with my friend Laura. Sometimes I feel that I need city life to get my blood really pumping again. It's amazing how refreshing it can be to experience the energy of a lively city. Denver is no NYC, but it sure can hold its own on many fronts. Denver will always hold a soft spot in my heart. I've worked, played, and was engaged in that city. It's so special to me, and it's always great to get back there.

red room at the Clyfford Still Museum

Experiencing a new part of California was great too! It was amazing being able to travel all the way across the country to see my aunt graduate with her masters. We got to stay a few days and see a whole new part of the country to many of us. I also got to spend some time with my mom. No matter how old I get, I'll always love being with my mom. I even came home with a dress my mom bought me while shopping the neat surf stores in Carpinteria!

the beautiful beach and waves in Carpinteria

Flying back to Colorado was filled with excitement for me, because it meant being reunited with my husband after 10 days. That's the longest we'd been apart since he went off to training with his current airline a couple years ago. Wow! Time flies. I hate being apart for that long at a time. It made for a nice evening of catching up at one of our favorite spots in Denver though. We watched the sun go down over the mountains from the Peaks Lounge in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver.

check out Peaks Lounge for great views at sunset and dusk

Off to eastern Colorado we went the next morning. We spent time both sets of my husband's grandparents. What a blessing that they're all still around and able to visit! Don't take that for granted. None of my biological grandparents are alive, so it was amazing for me to see them all still here and mostly in great health. Wow.

visited grandparents in Nebraska

We also had some play time at my father in law's house. I learned to load and shoot a shotgun, and we even shot some clay pigeons. That was something I had been wanting to do for a while, and I'm proud to say that I hit one on my second try. Would be criminal's beware. I always thought I was a good shot, but my sharp shooting that weekend confirmed my thoughts. Just call me Ashley Oakley.

If you made it this far, you rock! This post was really a brain dump and a huge overview of what's been going on in my life these past few weeks. I have still yet to figure out the best way to keep up with blogging while away from home. I've just never gotten into the guest posting thing. Maybe next time.

I have so much more to share with you, and I have eleventy million pictures to share with you from my trip. I'll do my best to break it all up and share with you over the next few weeks. We are talking major pictures of food, restaurants, mountains, ocean, etc... etc.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Sunday Currently: Father's Day Edition

Happy Father's Day to my dad!

It's been a while since I've written and published any blog posts.
For those of you who don't follow my Twitter or Instagram accounts,
I spent a couple of weeks in Colorado (and a few days in California) during the end of May.

I'm back but trying my best to find some motivation to write and blog.
I have been making lots of bracelets and paintings lately though!
I hope you all had a lovely weekend....
now on to The Sunday Currently.

reading Right now I'm not really reading anything. I've got to get back into the habit of reading more books. It's been too long.
writing just this blog post for now, but it's been a while. Blogging feels a little foreign to me at the moment. I should have sat down and wrote the thoughts streaming through my mind yesterday. Darn it!
listening to the sound of rain and thunder outside. I love these spring storms! (It won't technically be spring much longer though... shucks! Better enjoy it while it lasts.)
thinking that I should really try and take advantage of our swimming pool more often. We enjoyed a nice sunny day by the pool last week, and it reminded me of how relaxing and nice that can be. More pool days!
smelling the ever delicious-smelling Luna Scentsy fragrance that's in my living room warmer. Yum yum!
wishing for more "cooler than normal" Florida temperatures! Yeeehaw :-)
hoping that we might actually just be getting used to the hot summer weather.
wearing my H&M skinny jeans with zipper ankles (you can see more of them here) with a pink tank top... a paisley pattern tank top over that... and a new bracelet that I made recently.
loving the rain we've been getting. It definitely cools things off a bit, but it also makes me want to cuddle up with a blanket and get cozy. Oh that rain...
wanting to see more of Florida. One of these days we'll make it to St. Augustine... I swear!
needing something to eat. I think I just heard my stomach rumble.
feeling Hungry! (see above)
clicking hopefully through some blogs... I have got a ton of catching up to do!!

* If you missed previous editions of The Sunday Currently, you can see them all here

Now link up your edition of The Sunday Currently with Lauren

Happy Sunday!