Friday Five: February 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

1 | 18 for 2018

I’ve mentioned my love of Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast before, but I’m back to talk about it again. In an episode at the end of December, the ‘Try This at Home’ tip was to create an 18 for 2018 list. A few weeks later they did a deep dive into the 18 for 2018 idea and shared some of the lists that had been sent in by readers. I already have a 30 for 30s list, so at first I wasn’t going to join in, but in the end, I couldn’t resist.

So here’s my list of 18 things I want to do in 2018. Some of the items are from my 30 for 30 list, a couple are from my fall project to-do list, some are inspired by items on other people’s list, and some are new ideas. I’m really excited about everything on the list and I think it’s all doable by the end of the year. I haven’t completely crossed anything off yet, but I’m up to date on the 2 monthly goals so far.

2 | Wildlife World Zoo

Last weekend we went to the zoo to celebrate my friend Michelle’s birthday. The weather was amazing, so it was the perfect day to be outside enjoying the animals. Since our last visit, the zoo added 3 young white rhinos. They’re part of the zoo’s new rhino facility and conservation effort. My grandpa loved rhinos and collected rhino figures, so they always remind me of him.

Of course, the best part is always feeding the giraffes. It’s only 50 cents! Well, it’s only 50 cents if you only feed them one small handful…let’s not talk about how many quarters we actually spend on pellets…

3 | Godless

Adam and I just finished watching Netflix’s limited-series Godless and we both really enjoyed it. I was expecting the story to be more about the town of women and less the usual western plot, but I still found it really entertaining. Michelle Dockery’s character Alice was a total badass, but Mary Agnes (played by Merritt Wever aka Elizabeth in New Girl) was my favorite. She wasn’t taking any shit from anyone and I loved it.

4 | First Comes Love

One of my goals for 2018 is to read 18 books (it’s also on my 18 for 2018 list). I finished my 2nd book last week so I’m still on pace for the year. I read First Comes Love by Emily Giffin and I didn’t love it. I’ve read almost all of her other books and I’m a huge fan, but this one just fell a little flat for me. I liked the idea behind the book – how a family is affected by a tragedy, but I just found the main characters to be completely unlikable.

I was expecting the sisters to grow and evolve by the end of the book, but they didn’t. Meredith was still a total bitch and Josie was still a self-absorbed mess. There wasn’t really a resolution at the end, but I feel like that’s kind of true for a lot of her books. I guess this time I just bothered me more than before.

5 | Nashville

Adam and I are headed to Nashville in April for a long weekend. Neither of us have ever been before, so we’re both really excited. We’re planning to fly into Louisville, KY and stay the first night there. Then we’re going to drive to Mammoth Caves National Park and explore for the afternoon before driving to Nashville. So we’ll then have 2 full days in Nashville before flying home. If anyone has any must see or must eat suggestions for Nashville (or dinner in Louisville), please let me know!

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? We’re going to a Phoenix Suns game tomorrow and we have tickets for Hamilton on Sunday! I can’t wait!!!

Exploring Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I’m so excited to finally start sharing the last leg of our fall trip! We started our vacation in Scotland, made our way to Northern Ireland via ferry, and then hopped on a bus to explore all around Ireland. I’ve already shared our time in Scotland (Edinburgh, the Highlands, and Glasgow) and I shared my thoughts on Northern Ireland on the Go Ahead Tours blog, so now let’s talk Ireland.

Today I want to talk about our first big excursion in Ireland – an afternoon at Kylemore Abbey! Kylemore Abbey is former castle turned Benedictine monastery located about an hour outside of Galway (where we were staying).

Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by wealthy businessman and politician Mitchell Henry as a wedding gift for his wife Margaret. It took four years and 100 men to complete the construction of the 40,000 square foot castle. Sadly a few years after the castle was complete Margaret became ill during a vacation in Egypt and died at age 45. Mitchell was devastated and had the neo-Gothic church built as a testament to his love for his wife.

In 1909 the castle was sold to the ninth Duke of Manchester and he lived there for several years until he was forced to sell the castle and grounds to cover his gambling debts.

(my mom looks like she's freezing)

In 1920 the castle was purchased by Benedictine nuns who fled Belgium during World War I. The nuns who had been based in Ypres, Belgium for hundreds of years lost their Abbey to bombing raids during the war.

And so that’s the abbreviated version of how Kylemore Castle became Kylemore Abbey.

Anyway, we arrived at Kylemore Abbey in the morning and decided to head straight to the main house, so we’d have time to take pictures and explore before the crowds rolled in. The Abbey is absolutely stunning. Situated overlooking the lake and surrounded by forest, it’s hard to imagine a better location.

Inside a few of the rooms have been restored and are open to the public. There are panels in each room detailing the history of Kylemore Abbey and the people who have lived there.

From there we decided to walk to the church that Mitchell had built for Margaret. The church is described as “cathedral in miniature” and once instead you can easily see why. The architecture looks very similar to many of the cathedrals we’ve seen around the world. The green marble used on the columns is actually Connemara marble found in that region.


Also on the grounds of Kylemore Abbey (in the opposite direction of the church) is a Victorian walled garden. The garden is quite far from the main house and entry, so there’s a shuttle bus available to take guests there and back. The shuttle bus is included in the ticket price and runs on a set schedule. Unfortunately, the shuttle schedule didn’t match up with our visit (we probably could have gone if we skipped the church). A few people in our tour group made it to the gardens and said that they were beautiful, but the tea house they were planning on eating lunch at was closed for the season. So that might be something to think about if you ever visit.

After our visit to the main house and church, we had lunch at the café and it was delicious! I had a slice of sundried tomato and goat cheese quiche and my mom had a bowl of Irish stew. It was seriously one of the best meals of our trip. A lot of the ingredients are grown on the grounds of the Abbey, so everything is very fresh.

They also have a nice gift shop in the visitor center/restaurant building. My mom and I both bought a piece of local pottery…and both pieces arrived home safety in our luggage.
Oh, and kind of a funny story: We walked back to the bus after lunch and ended up being like 15 minutes early. We were the first ones to arrive and I was a little annoyed at my mom for always worrying about being late and always causing us to show up early when we could spend a few more minutes exploring. Less than a minute later it started to rain. Not a little drizzle, a full-on downpour! So the rest of our group ended up getting soaked and I ended up apologizing to my mom for complaining about heading back to the bus earlier than I wanted to.

Apart from the long day of driving from Belfast to Galway, this was our first full day in Ireland and it was such a great start to our week. Kylemore Abbey is such a stunning place to visit and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking. Beautiful mountains, lakes and so much green everywhere!

Linking up with:

Clear the Clutter: Guest Bathroom

Thursday, February 8, 2018

One of my goals for 2018 is to declutter/organize a room every month. Originally I had planned to work on the craft room. I figured I should start with the worst space while I’m still really motivated. I actually got a lot of work done in there (3 trunk loads of donations!), but I had to change course halfway through the month. Adam’s brother is staying with us for part of February, so I decided I should work on the guest bathroom instead. I want him to feel welcome and have plenty of space for his personal items, so I ended up cleaning out the guest bathroom for January.

This actually ended up being an easy project because there’s only the medicine cabinet and vanity to sort through. My goal for the medicine cabinet was to have one empty shelf Adam’s brother to use, so he doesn’t have to live out of a toiletry bag. I ended up throwing out some items (see below for disposal info) and organizing some in other areas. With that I was able to make enough room for a completely empty shelf. Yay!

For the vanity, there’s nothing in the drawers, so I only had to worry about cleaning out the cabinet. I got rid of a few things, but mostly just organized and grouped the items. I found so many bottle of bubble bath…I’m set to soak for years!

OK, so let’s talk about where all the extra stuff ended up going. A few things ended up in a donation box (extra straightener, mirror, foot massager, etc.), but a lot ended up in the trash. However, this gets a little tricky when you’re dealing with medicine. We had quite a few boxes of expired medicine and prescriptions that we no longer need. To dispose of those items properly at home, the FDA recommends the following process:

The FDA also recommends that certain medications be flushed instead of disposing in the trash. You can see the full list here, but it looks like everything on the list is a type of prescription painkiller (Percocet, Oxycodone, etc.). They recommend flushing those instead of disposing in the trash because they are considered especially harmful (in some cases fatal) if taken by someone not as prescribed. Basically, those are the prescriptions no one should be messing around with and they need to be disposed of quickly. If you’re concerned about the effects flushing medication can have on the environment and human health, the FDA addresses that here.

Once everything was donated or disposed of, I was able to cross this room off my list. It was an easier project that I planned on tackling the first month, but it feels good to get rid of things and have more space. I haven’t picked a room for February yet, but I’m still decluttering in general and will probably pick a room this weekend so I can get started.

Are you feeling the need to purge too? When’s the last time you checked the expiration dates on your medication. I had a box of cold medicine that expired like 2 years ago!

A Tour of Wrigley Mansion

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Over the weekend Adam and I went to the Wrigley Mansion for a tour and lunch for our February date (from our Year of Dates). Neither of us had ever been before, so it was a new experience for the both of us. We both loved the tour and really enjoyed out lunch at the mansion.

Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona was constructed in 1929-1931 by William Wrigley Jr. (yes, the chewing gum guy) as a 50th anniversary gift for his wife. It’s the smallest of the Wrigley’s six homes (Chicago, Philadelphia, Lake Geneva, Catalina Island, and Pasadena), so this was just considered their winter cottage.


William Wrigley Jr. died in 1932, so he only was able to enjoy the mansion for a year. His family continued to visit until the mansion was sold in 1973. It changed hands several times of the years and at one point was almost torn down so new condos could be built. Luckily it was listed as a historic place and bought by Geordie Hormel (yes, the Spam guy) and his wife before that could happen. They restored the property and today it’s available for events, houses Geordie’s Steak restaurant, and a wine bar.

Wrigley Mansion is open for guided tours Tuesday-Sunday. Tuesday-Saturday tours can be combined with lunch as part of a package. We booked the Big Red lunch package which included the guided tour and 3 course lunch for $37/person. I honestly can’t recommend this enough. Our tour guide was excellent and shared so many interesting stories about the mansion, the Wrigley family, and the Hormel family.

The views from the mansion are spectacular. Below is Camelback Mountain, but you can see to Downtown Phoenix and a lot of the surrounding valley from the property.

One of my favorite design features in the mansion is the Catalina tile that was used throughout the home. In addition to manufacturing chewing gum, William Wrigley Jr. also owned The Catalina Tile Company on Catalina Island. He had the tile shipped from the island to Arizona to use in designing his home. The original tile is still featured on the floors and fireplaces in the mansion. I think this proves that the decorative tile that’s trending right now can actually be classic and timeless.

One of my favorite stories from the tour was how William thought women deserved to be pampered. Once a month all of his female employees were allowed to get their hair and nails done on company time…and he paid for it! He was also one of the first to institute the 5 day work week and provide benefits for his employees.

The tour ended in a hallway of photographs. There are pictures of the mansion, the Wrigley family, and the Hormel family. I thought this old picture of the mansion was really interesting. Now it’s surrounded by homes and offices, but when it was first built there was just desert and farmland.

After the tour we were free to explore on our own and could head down for lunch whenever we were ready. We had lunch in the part of the restaurant that was the mansion’s original dining room. We both started with salads and for the main Adam had a grilled chicken sandwich and I got the chicken pesto pasta. For dessert Adam picked the chocolate mousse cake and I picked the apple tart. Everything was delicious and the service was excellent. With tip, the tour and lunch was a little over $100. I thought that was really reasonable for everything, but if you’re on more of a budget they also have the Juicy Fruit lunch tour which includes the tour and 1 course for $26/person or just the tour for $15/person.

If you live in the Phoenix area and have never been to the Wrigley Mansion, I highly recommend a visit. Or if you are visiting Arizona, it’s definitely worth a stop. The tour is mostly indoors, so it would be a good place to visit in the summer too.

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