Touring Phoenix - Camelback Mountain

As per usual, Bill and I took the entirety of Thanksgiving week off from work. With the kids still in school Monday and Tuesday, we were able to get a little quality time together before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last Monday, we decided to hike Camelback Mountain!
Camelback Mountain is a very popular Phoenix hike; a very touristy thing to do, so it's always crowded. Bill has done it once before, but it was a first for me. We were hoping getting there early on a Monday morning would mean nice cool temperatures and not too crowded. I'd say we were right, but it did end up being hotter than I was expecting.

Here I am at the beginning of the hike feeling all confident and such. We did the Cholla Trail which is only about a mile and half, but goes up 1250 feet in elevation in that short distance.
The beginning is not too bad, but that last half mile was pretty difficult. Bill kept telling me to keep three point of contact on the mountain at all times, and he was right - it got real steep.
Not feeling so confident anymore. Just keeping it real for you guys.
We did make it to the peak though and were soon all smiles once again.
The views were pretty good, but for me, the satisfaction was accomplishing the climb.
The adventure wasn't over yet, as the trek down was just as difficult as it was going up. The less than 3 mile round trip took us about 2 and half hours, and we were pretty wiped the rest of the day. 
It was well worth it though. I love getting outside and spending time with Bill.
What sort of things do you do with your significant other? I enjoyed our hike, but I equally enjoyed the hours we spent binge watching Stranger Things the rest of the day. It's all about keeping a healthy balance, right?

P.S. Touring Phoenix  - Tom's Thumb


2017 Turkey Trot

I hope everybody enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. We stayed local this year, and of course participated in our favorite Thanksgiving tradition - the Turkey Trot!!
You'll notice we are missing someone here. We were literally in the car ready to go when Madeleine said she felt like she was going to get sick. Bill's dad was in town for the holiday, so he graciously agreed to stay home with her so the rest of us could still participate.
We missed Madeleine, but it was also kind of nice for both of us to spend some quality time just with Seamus.
Another first, I actually ran the entire 5K! I haven't run a 5K in years. My official time was 43:24, which I thought was not too shabby considering we were in no hurry and pushing a stroller the entire time too. Speaking of which, I'm glad we had the stroller as Seamus only ran a bit at the beginning and the end.

Check out our big finish!

The rest of Thanksgiving was...interesting. Madeleine rallied, but Bill soon had the nausea that hit her earlier in the day plus a fever and chills. We relaxed by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, the National Dog Show, and football throughout the day. Then, our big Thanksgiving dinner ended up just being my father-in-law and myself!! Seriously, Bill passed out upstairs, and the kids left the table after like 10 minutes. Oh well, we enjoyed it, and it was definitely one for the memory book.

How was your Thanksgiving? Have you ever had one that didn't exactly go as planned? I'd love to hear about it. 

P.S. Turkey Trot | 2015 Turkey Trot | 2016 Turkey Trot


Let's Go To The Movies: Thor: Ragnarok

Bill and I went to see Thor: Ragnarok for his birthday yesterday. Let me tell you, these Marvel movies have been hit or miss with me lately, so how did the newest Thor film fare?

While attempting to defeat a new evil rising against his home planet of Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned on a strange planet where he is forced to fight as a gladiator against his fellow Avenger, the Hulk. Thor must find a way to escape and return to Asgard before his home and all those who live there are destroyed.

So much fun!

Thor: Ragnarok was an incredibly lighthearted and humorous superhero film. Chris Hemsworth carried the movie and himself quite well. (hello haircut!) The amazing Cate Blanchett just oozed a sophisticated evil in her performance as the villainess Hela. What delightfully surprised me though, was that Thor: Ragnarok was so much of an ensemble film - Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Mark Ruffalo's the Incredible Hulk rounded out the cast nicely, as well as fine performances from Idris Elba, Jeff Goldbloom, and Anthony Hopkins. However, it was Tessa Thompson as the last of the Valkyrie warriors who really made the film for me. I loved her character and the amount of screen time and amazing fight sequences she received. There were no damsels in distress here, and these movies are always stronger films when the studios remember that. Thor: Ragnarok is a rockin' and colorful film, funny and full of action that is definitely worth the price of admission. See this one in the theater if you can.

P.S. Thor: Ragnarok was directed by Taika Waititi who also directed a favorite of mine from last year, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (see here). Everything I've seen that he's directed (Eagle vs. Shark, What We Do in the Shadows) has been quirky and fun. I'm officially putting him on my short list of favorite directors.

Check out more Marvel movie reviews below:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Dr. Strange
Captain America: Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Silky As A Snake

I found the cutest top at Target the other day. It's the Long Sleeve Silky Doll Blouse from the Who What Wear collection.
The sexy green and black snakeskin pattern is a fun juxtaposition against the modest neckline and long sleeves. It's so flattering, and hello, only $25! I've gotten so many compliments on it already!

P.S. The photo above makes the color appear teal, but in person, it's definitely a forest green.

P.P.S. I promise to start posting some personal fashion posts soon. I just never have time to take the photos!! #bloggerfail


Musical Monday - Something Rotten

Over the weekend, I saw the musical, Something Rotten, with a friend of mine.
I had no idea anything about this musical going in, other than it was a comedy. I meant to download the music to familiarize myself with it, but just ran out of time. So, I went in blind, which is always a little daunting.

No need for worry though, Something Rotten was fantastic! It was hilarious and entertaining all around - great music, dancing, and story.

It takes place during the time when Shakespeare was at the top of his game - churning out hit after hit. Competing playwrights, the Bottom Brothers, dream of writing a play as good as the Bard. After consulting a sleuthsayer who tells them that someday the biggest theater draws will be something called a musical, the brothers decide to put on the world's very first; even if it makes absolutely no sense at all.

If it sounds, silly, it is - but you'll smile and laugh throughout, so just enjoy the ride. If you're a fan of Shakespeare, you'll like it. If you're a fan of musicals, you'll really like it. And, if you're a fan of both, you'll definitely be loving, Something Rotten. If it comes to your city, I highly recommend checking it out.

P.P.S. Something Rotten made me want to read some Shakespeare again. It's been ages!


Officially A Soccer Mom

That's right, with the three digit temperatures behind us (fingers crossed), all the fall sports have started up here in Phoenix; and Madeleine and Seamus are bona fide soccer players now!
The kids got to pick their team name, so everybody put your hands together for the SUPER ROCK STARS! Not just Rock Stars, mind you, but SUPER Rock Stars. They're playing through i9 Sports (which is a national program btw), that is purely a rec league; so no keeping score or anything like that yet. 
That being said, Madeleine totally scored her first goal!! She's such a natural at all things athletic.
Seamus? Well, Seamus was a bit more...let's say - hesitant. He got kicked in the leg before practice even started, then pretty much refused to go in the game at all. 
He did eventually give it a go, and I'm betting next week will be better (here's hoping). I forget how young 4 is still, you know? Wish us luck, I guess.

What fun extracurricular activities do you have your little ones in? This is Seamus' first, but Madeleine also does karate, Brownies, and piano lessons. 


Let's Go To The Movies - Wind River

Yesterday, I got to see a sneak peak of the new movie, Wind River.

While on duty with the Fish and Wildlife Services, tracker, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), discovers the dead body of a young Native American woman on the isolated Wind River Indian Reservation. FBI Agent, Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) gets assigned the case. Naively unaware of the dangers of the Wyoming wilderness, as well as the hardships of living on a reservation; Cory agrees to assist Jane with the investigation.

From story to setting, acting to aesthetic, Wind River delivers on all fronts. Jeremy Renner is phenomenal as the stoic and emotionally wounded Cory; while Elizabeth Olsen holds her own as the audiences' eyes into a world unfamiliar to most. It's all set against the stunning backdrop captured by breathtaking cinematography showcasing a barren world of white. Additionally, it's a film with a message; bringing to light the unfortunate plight of Native American women in this country - a truly forgotten demographic. Wind River is film-making at its best.


The Best Laid Plans

We popped over to the Phoenix Zoo recently, despite the July heat, to catch the 4D movie: Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.

The plan was to not spend any money; just get in, watch the film, and get out again. Seriously, so hot here! We have an annual pass to the zoo, so we didn't feel like we were wasting our money by not doing anything else at the zoo.

Of course, things didn't quite go as planned.

We couldn't have timed it more perfectly with the next showing starting about 10 minutes after we rolled in. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the stinking theater, so we missed that showing. It was over an hour until the next one, so we ended up wondering around the zoo. Of course, we were all dying of heat, so we picked up Icees for everybody ($) and rode the carousel ($) to keep the kiddos entertained and shaded.
Finally, it was time for the movie, which turned out wasn't included with our annual pass ($). Geeze! (So much for my cheap family outing idea.) The film itself was cool, although I'm not sure the kids were fans of the 4D aspect. What was so disappointing though was that it ended up being so short!!  Seriously, it was only 15 minutes long. Definitely not worth the drive, wait, or money.

But, you live, you learn, right? The kids had fun, we supported the zoo, and none of us passed out from heat stroke. Still, I hate when things don't go as planned.


Clean Eating

Back in college, I started collecting Fiestaware dishes. I have a ton in different colors and shapes now, and I love how they all mix and match.

However, lately, I've been longing for a cleaner look in the newly revamped kitchen, and I'm thinking of switching to all white dishes.

Here's a few that have caught my eye lately.

1. Fiestaware
I could stick with Fiestaware, but just go all white instead. I love Fiestaware because it is so durable, and they have a ton of matching serving pieces.

Williams Sonoma has this great collection that I could buy piece by piece as I need it. I like the simple lines and the large collection of serving dishes as well. I need to see them in person though to see how they feel. I don't want anything too delicate.

I can go the economical route, and pick up this little set from Target. I like the bead detail. Just because it's white, doesn't mean it can't have a little personality.

I like the idea of this rustic set, and it looks like it would be a very sturdy as well. I'm just not quite sure "rustic" is really my style.

Finally, I'm drawn to the modern and clean lines of this set, also from Crate and Barrel. Sometimes simple is best.

I definitely will need to check these sets out all in person to see how they feel. I'm in no hurry though, just something I've been thinking about. They would go better with the new kitchen, but at the same time, there's nothing wrong with the dishes I currently have, so it's hard to justify the expense when I'm just in the mood for a change. I'll keep you posted.


What I'm Re-watching - Friends

I had so much fun re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, that I decided to re-watch another favorite of mine - Friends!!
Let me tell you, I cannot believe how well this show holds up, and feel it is just as good now as it was back when it debuted in the early 90's. It was so funny from the very first episode too. I'm also loving their clothes, which I thought were so cool back then, and actually still do now. There are so many outfits that I would wear today with only the slightest of modification. Seriously!!

The best part, Madeleine loves watching them with me! I know the show well enough that I can pick ahead of time which are appropriate episodes for a six-year-old versus which aren't (aka the ones with sex in them), although I did have to explain a bit about romantic kissing to her, which was fine. There are a ton of episodes that are just the six of them being silly that she thinks are hilarious. It's become such a fun little bonding experience for us.

What are you watching these days? Do you re-watch old favorites or stick to the new stuff? There's so much that I haven't seen that looks good, but I love the familiar of my old favorites too.


Book Report - The Thurber Carnival

Upon recommendation of my dad, I recently read The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber.
The Thurber Carnival is a collection of short stories by the famed American author, James Thurber, who among other things, is also a cartoonist, humorist, journalist, and playwright. The only title of his I had heard of before though was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was made into a movie starring Ben Stiller back in 2013. 

I really enjoyed The Thurber Carnival, although it took me forever to get through (almost 5 months). Since it wasn't a continuous story, there was nothing calling me back to it each day. I would just pick it up here or there and read a couple short stories at a time. 

I'm not exactly sure how to review a book of short stories. Some were fantastic, others not so much. Some I wished were longer, and some I just plain didn't understand. My favorite tales were the ones about his family growing up, as well as one in particular, The Remarkable Case of Mr. Bruhl about an ordinary man that happens to resemble a notorious gangster.

I really think there's something for everyone in a book like this, and it's relatively low commitment. Like I said, just pick it up here or there and read a story at a time. 

Also, the copy of the book my dad gave me was an old one from the 1940's. I loved holding and reading a physical book for a change (I'm such an e-reader now). It had such a great feel and OMG, the smell! It was definitely part of the whole experience for me. 

My dad has yet to let me down with his book recommendations. Some other favorites he's gotten me to read were Herman Melville's, Moby-Dick and one that has become an all time favorite of mine, Upton Sinclair's, The Jungle.


Coming Soon - The Shape of Water

Have you guys seen the trailer for the new Guillermo del Toro film, The Shape of Water? It looks so good!

I've been a fan of del Toro's since his 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth. Bill and I saw a special screening of it at Milwaukee's famous Oriental Theater where we met the actor Doug Jones from the film. If you're not familiar, that's because you hardly ever see his face in anything, as is the case with The Shape of Water, where he plays the Amphibian Man. He's quite the master of disguise.

Take a look at some of his amazing transformations!
Image from here.
 Have you seen any good previews lately? Let's talk movies!


A Fish Tale

We got fish!

Yup, the kids have been asking for another pet, so I thought this would be a good way to accommodate that request without really, you know, getting a "pet".
We got three - two Dalamation Mollys and one Gold Black Molly. From left to right above, we named them Spot (Madeleine's), Panda (Seamus'), and Bronte (mine). (Bill would like it to be known that he did not want to get the fish and, in general, wants nothing to do with them.)

Unfortunately, Spot, didn't make it through the first weekend. We debated telling Madeleine, but ending up replacing him before she discovered what happened.

Despite that little mishap, the fish have been a hit. They're mesmerizing to watch and a fun addition to the Pretty Handsome household.

Do you guys have fish? What about any unconventional pets like turtles, lizards, snakes, or birds?

July Update: We have a baby fish! One day Seamus kept saying there was a cute little baby fish in the aquarium and that we had four fish now. I thought he was talking nonsense, but low and behold...
We were so confused on how it got in there, but after a little research finally determined that Bronte (the Gold Black Molly) was preggers when we got her. Mollies give live birth to their babies, and in close proximity like a tank, will end up eating them. We figured she gave birth (who knows how many), gobbled them up, but this little guy survived. Bill named him Mysterio on account of his mysterious appearance in the tank. We're all rooting for him!!
August Update: OMG - replacement Spot kicked the bucket too!! We did not replace him because Mysterio is thriving - getting bigger every day.

October Update: And then there were two. Panda didn't make it either. I thought we were past the danger zone with him, so not sure what happened. Poor little guy. Bronte is huge, however, and Mysterio has probably tripled in size these last few months.


Let's Go To The Movies - Transfomers: The Last Knight

My work arranged for a movie day for its employees on Wednesday. The film was Transformers: The Last Knight; which was not what I would have picked for myself, but it was free and you know, it got me out of work for a few hours, so not really a question in my mind; plus we could bring a guest, so Bill got to join me. Yay!

Although outlawed on Earth, Decepticons and Autobots continue to war. With Optimus Prime gone, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, and a rag tag group of humans and Autobots race to find and protect an ancient and powerful staff before it can fall into the hands of the Decepticons.

I had seen the first couple of Transformers movies starring Shia LaBeouf, but hadn't seen any since Mark Wahlberg took over the franchise. I wondered if I would be able to follow the plot having missed a few films, but I shouldn't have been concerned - there was no plot! Pure action from beginning to end combined with almost nonexistent dialogue makes for one heck of a loud (and oh so long) movie. It was all noise, and no substance. Plus, the computer animation moved so dang fast I could never focus in on anything long enough to figure out who was who and what was going on. Seriously, it should have had a "may cause seizures" warning at the start. was better than being at work, so I guess there was that. 


Dress The Part - La La Land - The Green Dress

Are you guys ready for some more La La Land inspired fashion? Let's take a look at Mia's green dress today.

I loved the emerald hue of her dress and the sweetheart neckline. Plus the fit and flare style is universally flattering. I actually didn't mind the matchy-matchy earrings and necklace combo here, as the color is just so gorgeous. Finally, the nude shoes and clutch really let the dress be the star of the show.

I rounded up some other emerald green fit and flare dresses that could easily work as well.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4

How lovely is number 2 above?

I have to say though, that my favorite thing about this look, was that this is what they wore on their movie date! I definitely need to step up my style game. Don't save your best clothes for those rare special occasions. Clothes are made to be worn. I say, dresses every day in every way!!

Dress The Part - La La Land - The Yellow Dress
Dress The Part - La La Land - The Blue Dress

P.S. You can get the exact green Kyle Chan Design Earrings & Necklace from the film here.


My New Jams - Malibu

You guys, I'm totally digging Miley Cyrus' new song, Malibu.
It's slow and soft and much more mellow then I've ever heard her before. I just love that deep, twangy voice of hers.

What are you listening to lately?


Flower Power

I had a coupon for the flower department at our local grocery store recently, so I decided to splurge and have some fun making a bouquet. Remember, one of the items on my 5-Year Plan was to "Learn Flower Design" (see here), which I later amended to just making a conscious effort to have fresh flowers around the house more (see here).
It was the peachy orange Gladioli with purple stamen that initially caught my eye. So, I started with those, then added fuchsia Carnations as an accent, and some green filler to well, fill it out. 
I love how it turned out, so tall and full. The perfect summer accent to my dining room table.
Mostly I love how happy the whole process made me feel. I had such a good time putting the bouquet together, then every time I've seen them since, they bring a smile to my face.

Sometimes life is most definitely about the little things.


A Belated 4th of July

Since we spent the actual 4th of July driving the 6 hour drive from California back home to Arizona, we decided to have a belated celebration over the weekend for the kids. Just some snaps and sparklers and a little bit of fun.
It got me thinking though, it's been ages since I've put any sort of effort into the 4th of July. It's just so dang hot here!! The last thing I want to do is be outside, but I'm making it a goal for next year to try and do something to make it a bit more festive and fitting.

P.S. 2016 4th of July


Wedding Weekend - Day 4

Technically, all we did on this day was drive home to Arizona, but we did make one quick little silly stop on the way home for my dinosaur loving boy.

We drive through Cabazon (near Palm Springs) every time we go to California. I'm not sure if there is anything else to see in Cabazon, but if you ever make the drive, you have to at least stop and check out the dinosaurs.
It's a great fun roadside attraction to stop at when you need to stretch your legs, fill up the tank, or grab a bite to eat.
There's also a total tourist trap "museum" there too, but we didn't feel like forking over the cash and just walked around the grounds instead.
Seamus was in heaven.
These long drives back and forth to California remind me of all the road trip summer vacations I used to take as a kid. Hopefully the kids will remember them as fondly as I did.
A quick family pic before we headed back to the car to finish the drive home.
So, that's all folks; another California adventure in the books. I swear, we've been there quite a few times now, but I still feel like we've hardly even scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in this awesome state.

2017 California - Wedding Weekend - Day 1
2017 California - Wedding Weekend - Day 2
2017 California - Wedding Weekend - Day 3 


Wedding Weekend - Day 3

Finally, it was the wedding day, i.e. the entire purpose of our vacation. Madeleine asked if she could wear a suit, and since I had no legitimate reason to refuse her request, I picked out these adorable summer suits from H&M for her and Seamus to both wear. Then of course, I completely forgot to take any pictures of them together in them before the jackets came off. #momfail
The wedding ceremony was in a little park atop a hill overlooking Newport. It was a tad hot, but an otherwise gorgeous day.

Speaking of gorgeous, look at that house! What? You thought I was talking about Bill. Yeah, he was looking good too, but OMG, that right there is my California dream house.
Taking advantage of the view.
Chatting post wedding - one of my favorite photos of the day.
The gorgeous wedding arch overlooking Newport. Not a bad spot to say, "I do", right? Also, those were paper flowers on the arch. Don't they look real? So pretty.
My cuties showing each other some love.
Then, taking advantage of the view again with my gorgeous girl.
They had their reception at Tru Food Kitchen in Newport. We had drinks and appetizers on the patio, followed by a lovely dinner and cake inside.

Love these handsome fellas.
And, of course, the ridiculously good looking bride and groom. Ahh, young love.
All-in-all, it was a really great day. The kiddos completely passed out on the ride home. So cute.
It was a fun little trip to California, but we still had one final stop to make on our way home to Arizona. Stay tuned!