Shopping Trip: Wal-Mart

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can you believe it’s been 3 years since my last shopping trip post?!?! Honestly, I completely forgot about the series, but I’m bringing it back! As a reminder, these posts are not sponsored and do not have any affiliate links. I write these posts just to share some of my favorite finds and give you all an idea of my style. I wrote my first Shopping Trip post in August 2012. At that time most of my house was not decorated yet and I couldn’t afford to buy everything I wanted to finish all of the rooms. I thought that sharing items that I wanted to buy would be a fun way to share my design style without breaking the bank.

Today we’re going on a (virtual) shopping trip to Wal-Mart. OK, I know it doesn’t sound that cool and exciting, but they’ve really stepped up their home d├ęcor game in the last few years. The Better Homes and Gardens line is consistently good and the new Pioneer Woman products are so cute!
Grab your virtual shopping carts and let’s shop!

I want to start with the Pioneer Woman products that I mentioned above. If you haven’t seen any of Ree’s line before, I want to warn you now – it’s all so cute! All of those pieces pictured are $4.38-$4.88.

I love the patterns on the kitchen towels ($5.94/set of 2) - I have the set in the middle. There are also matching oven mitts, tablecloths/runners, seat cushions, and other misc kitchen items.

Wal-Mart surprisingly has a nice selection of coffee mugs. I love stripes and floral, so this Hello Lovely mug ($4.78) is right up my alley.

The display piece is dusty and a bit beaten up, but this kitchen island cart ($169) would be perfect in a small kitchen. The top is surprisingly real granite. This totally reminds me that I need to put an island in our kitchen...

Last month I showed you our new bedroom lamps from Wal-Mart, so obviously I'm a fan of those, but I also like these wood ones. The one on the right ($17.23) is my favorite.

This metal bike ($9.88) is a smaller version of the one that I have on my mantle. I bought mine at a garage sale, but I wondering if it was originally from Wal-Mart. They look identical.

These ceramic hurricanes are perfect for spring/summer decor. The large one is $14.87 and the smaller one is $9.88. I know I've seen similar, more expensive ones at other stores.

This shower curtain ($17.48) wouldn't work in either of my bathrooms, but I love the aztec print.

I wouldn't use all of these pieces together, but adding one of them would be a fun addition to a bathroom. Actually, the owl jar ($9.88) would work in other rooms too.

I have a few plants around the house that need to be repotted and I like the print on these pots (also available in blue).

And lastly, don't forget about the backyard! We added string lights around our back patio and pool fence last spring and we love it. We just bought globe lights and white Christmas lights, but these lantern string lights ($17.87) would be a fun addition.

So what did I buy (besides dog treats and toothpaste)? I found this plaid, winter blanket in the clearance aisle for $7 (previously $13, originally $17.42). It's too warm for it now, but I'll stash it in my linen closet until the fall.

Rocky Mountain National Park in One Day

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Last August, in order to escape the Phoenix heat, Adam and I planned a weekend getaway to Colorado. Our original plan was to visit and explore Denver, but after some discussion we realized that seeing Rocky Mountain National Park was on the top of both of our to-do lists, so we stayed in Boulder instead. We had so much fun exploring the shops and restaurants in the city, walking around Pearl Street, and visiting the local breweries. Boulder is about an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park (and less than an hour from the airport), so it’s a great place to stay if the park is part of your itinerary. 

We accidently planned our visit to Rocky Mountain NP during a free admission weekend. We were nervous about crowds, so we decided to get an early start. I’m so glad we did that. We ended up being ahead of all of the crowds during the day and we were the only car on the road in the morning when this handsome guy stopped on the side of the road.

As we entered the park there were two cars in front us, way up ahead. Right after they passed, that elk came up from the bushes below and stopped right along the road as we approached. We both said it was one of our favorite moments from the trip.

Adam and I decided to start our day at Bear Lake. All of the articles I read said that the parking lot fills up early so we decided to head straight there first. We are so glad we followed this advice and I would strongly recommend doing the same if you ever visit. Don’t get distracted by the other sights along the way! You can stop on the way back. Anyway, the lake is just a short walk from the parking lot so it’s perfect if you or people in your group are unwilling or unable to hike much.

Bear Lake is absolutely beautiful and it was such a great place to start our day. The water is so clear and was so calm – look at the reflection of Hallett Peak in the water! We only walked around part of the lake, but the full trail is less than a mile and is rated easy.

Bear Lake is also where the trailhead for the Emerald Lake hike begins. There are so many different hiking trails that you can take in Rocky Mountain National Park (this site will help you sort by distance and difficulty). We looked at a few different trails, but we ended up picking the Emerald Lake hike based on convenience (we were already there and had a parking spot) and distance/time (the 3.5 mile hike only takes a couple hours and give us plenty of time to visit the rest of the park).

We also picked that trail because there are two other lakes on the way to Emerald Lake. The first lake is Nymph Lake and it’s a steady half-mile climb from the Bear Lake Trailhead. It’s a popular trail so a lot of it is paved and it would be a great short hike if you don’t want to do the full hike. I loved the lily pads covering the lake.

The trail to Dream Lake is fairly steep in some places and you gain a bit of elevation, but the higher trail leads to some amazing views along the way. It’s a little over a half-mile to the junction for Lake Haiyaha. Keep right and the foot of Dream Lake is just ahead.

The view is simply stunning and because we got an early start, there were only a few other people around so it was such a peaceful moment. The water is clear enough to see fish in the lake.
From there it’s on to Emerald Lake. The trail continues around the shore of Dream Lake, deeper into the Gorge. Just past the lake, there’s a series of steps and quite the altitude gain…the high altitude here is no joke! It’s about 0.7 miles to Emerald Lake, for a total of 1.8 miles…and it’s worth every step!

We shuffled across the rocks to the right and found a flat spot to relax for a bit. Hallett Peak is directly in front and Flattop Mountain is to the right. You can see waterfalls in the distance and with binoculars, climbers on Hallett Peak!

After taking in the view and surroundings we hiked the 1.8 mile return trip back to the car. Our next stop was Sprague Lake for our PB&J picnic lunch. We started to walk around the lake, but after seeing the other 4 lakes, Sprague Lake didn’t seem as impressive so we headed on to our next stop (sorry Sprague Lake).

After circling back on Bear Lake Road, we turned left on the main entrance road (US 36) towards Deer Ridge Junction. We took Fall River Road at the junction and headed to the Alluvial Fan. The drive through the park is so pretty. We pulled off a couple of times to take some pictures and check out the overlook areas.

Anyway, we did the short hike to the Alluvial Fan from the first parking lot, but later realized that there was another parking lot that was closer…oops! The alluvial fan was created when Lawn Lake flooded the area in 1982. It was interesting to see and I’d recommend it as a quick stop.

From there we took the Old Fall River Road up to the high country. Old Fall River Road is an 11-mile one- way dirt road that is only open part of the year. There are multiple switchbacks, some are very tight, and no guardrails along the road. But don’t worry, it’s safe and the road is pretty well maintained. We took our little rental Mazda up it with no problems. It’s a fun way to get more of a wilderness experience while driving through the park.

Well, we almost had problems. The last mile or so of the drive, it started hailing. By the time we reached the top, it was really coming down and turned to heavy rain not long after. I would have been a little nervous if we were still on that road during that weather…but we made it. At the top of the road is the Alpine Visitor Center. At around 12,000 feet about sea level, it’s the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park Service.

It’s crazy to see the change in landscape as you change elevation. The pine forest landscape is now alpine tundra. It was a lot colder up there and the high elevation was noticeable (especially with my asthma). The visitor center had some interesting exhibits on the tundra, a gift shop, and a cafeteria. We split a salad while we waited out the rain and prepared for our return trip.

Unfortunately, because of the rain our return trip down Trail Ridge Road was not as scenic as it normally would have been. We stopped at the Lava Cliffs to take a couple pictures, but a lot of the landscape was hidden by cloud cover.

Regardless, Rocky Mountain National Park is absolutely beautiful and we really enjoyed our day there. Hopefully we’ll make it back again so we can hike some of the other trails and explore the parts of the park that we missed on this trip. We were really happy with our itinerary for the day, so if you plan to visit someday, this would probably be a good starting point for your trip plans. I also want to mention a few tips: start early (you’ll beat the crowds and have more time in the park), bring your own food (there’s only a couple places in the whole park where you can get food), pack a jacket (it’ll be colder in the park than wherever you’re staying), and watch for wildlife.

Linking up with:

Friday Five

Friday, March 17, 2017

One – Blog Refresh

Away She Went has a new look! I purchased the template from 17th Avenue Designs and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I love how clean and simple it looks now. I also created a new travel page and organized all of my posts by country and then by specific location. I think everything should be working now, so if you see something wonky on the blog, please let me know.

Two – The Wire

Adam and I have been watching The Wire on HBO GO and it’s SO good. He’s seen it before, but I haven’t and I’m loving it. Right now we’re on the third season (there are 5 seasons). It’s set in Baltimore and focuses mainly on law enforcement trying to get a handle on drugs in the city. However, each season introduces a new Baltimore institution into the storyline - Season 2 was the seaport system, season 3 is city government/bureaucracy, I think season 4 is the school system and season 5 is the media.  It’s from the early 2000s so obviously the technology is a little dated, but the storyline and characters are so good.

Three – Thrift Find

My parents came to visit a couple weekends ago and my mom and I spent the day thrift shopping while my dad and Adam went to a spring training game. This striped sweatshirt was my favorite find. I got it at Savers for $6.99. I love it, but Phoenix is quickly getting too hot for sweatshirts so I don’t think I’ll get much wear out of it until the fall.  I couldn’t find the exact same one online, but this sweatshirt is similar if you like the style.

Four – To Kill a Mockingbird

Last June, on my 30th birthday (and golden birthday), I created a list of 30 things that I wanted to do in my 30th year. One of those items was to read 3 classic novels. A few months ago I found a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird at Goodwill. Like most of you, I read it in high school, but I don’t really remember it and I’m sure I mostly just skimmed. I’ve always loved to read, just not what others tell me to read.
Anyway, I finished reading it last week and it was so, so good. I’ll be honest, I thought it was going to be overrated. I know people love it, but do they really or are they just trying to sound well-read? No, they really do love it because it’s amazing. Atticus Finch is one of the best fictional characters of all time. If you’ve never read it or like me, haven’t read it since high school, I highly recommend adding it to your list.

Five – DietBet

Have you heard of DietBet? It’s a weight loss challenge website where you can bet money that you’ll lose a certain amount of weight in a set time frame. At the end of the challenge, everyone who met the goal splits the prize pot. For example, I signed up for the kickstarter challenge. The goal is to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks. I joined Just Brandi’s (aka Mama Laughlin) challenge and it starts on March 27th. The prize pool is over $20,000 and there’s still time to join if you’re interested. I’m curious to see if it ends up being motivating or not…

I hope you all have a great St. Patrick's Day and a wonderful weekend. What do you have planned? We’re going to Las Vegas for Adam’s nephew’s 2nd birthday. We’re excited to see everyone and get away for a couple days.     Cup

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links where applicable. 

Pinned It, Made It #2

Thursday, March 2, 2017

About six months ago my friend Michelle and I decided that we wanted to start making some of the projects that we’ve been pinning, so we started a monthly craft night. I shared our first three projects a few months ago (see them here) and today I’m sharing our most recent crafts.

In November we made ornaments for Christmas. We made block ornaments, wood slice ornaments, and clay ornaments. These pins were our inspiration: wood block snowmen, Harry Potter, A+S, Snow Place Like Home, snowman wood slice, and chalkboard wood slices. Mine are on the right.

I hung most of my ornaments on our Christmas tree, but I also used a few while I was wrapping presents. They were such a fun addition to the gifts. I ended up liking the heart shaped 'love' one so much that kept it out after Christmas and it now hangs on the hutch in the dining room.

We skipped December because of the holiday madness (well, actually we made fudge), but started back up in January. Our January project was a pair of large wood tags. We had originally planned to make them reversible, but ran out of time. I was planning to do one side for Valentine’s Day and one side for St. Patrick’s Day. Michelle was going to do one side Dr. Who and the other side Star Trek.

Even though we didn’t finish both sides, I still love how they turned out. I used these instructions to cut the tags and we used this method for the lettering. It worked well for the shamrock, but I had a hard time with the lettering. I saw later that some people use paint pens and I think that would be SO much easier than a brush. 

Last weekend we planned a last minute craft night and decided to make home signs. I picked this Home Sweet Home design from Where the Smiles Have Been (she provided the cut file for free) and Michelle picked this cat design from the Silhouette store.

We had few issues with the vinyl and Silhouette, but we’re still happy with how they turned out. Other than the wreaths we made for our first craft, this sign will probably get the most use.

For our next craft night (end of March) we are going to make either these signs for Easter or these posts for our front porch. Probably the Easter sign so we have enough time to display it before the holiday passes.

What’s the last thing you’ve made from your pins? How did it turn out? If you have any favorite projects for us to try, leave them in the comments!

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