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#NoSpendNovember: Fun + Free Ideas!

Photo by Drew Geraets on Unsplash

One of the biggest challenges for me during #NoSpendNovember is to find things to do that are free – and fun!

I work mainly from home, and it’s important to find things to do outside the house. I enjoy being able to work in my pajamas, but it does get old after a bit. Most of the time, I leave my weekly shopping trips to during the week, and use that as an excuse to get out. When the weather’s nice, I make a trip to my local park for a hike. It’s tempting to hit Target on the way home, though!

We’re almost halfway through the challenge right now, and I’m sure some of you are struggling to find things to do like me! Today I wanted to share a few things I’m doing that are fun, free ideas to keep busy!

#NoSpendNovember: Fun + Free Ideas

Idea #1: Get outside!

Instead of spending time walking through the mall, get out and enjoy some fresh air! Go on a walk through your neighborhood and enjoy all the fall colors and home decor. If you’re lucky to live somewhere with a great parks system (like me!), take advantage of all they have to offer! Part of my #NoSpendNovember challenge is to unplug more often, and getting outside helps. It’s also a great way to get some free exercise!

Idea #2: Get sweaty for free!

If you typically spend money to work out, whether it’s a gym membership or online streaming program, consider the free options out there! Instead of paying for group yoga classes this month, try out Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. She has 30-day programs, beginner lessons, meditation practices, and more advanced stuff too! I’m also a big fan of Blogilates, Popsugar, and Tone It Up on YouTube as well!

Idea #3: Curl up with a good book!

Now that it’s getting cold outside, there is nothing quite like curling up under a blanket with a book and a cup of tea. Check out my earlier post on how to read for free, grab a book or ebook, and get reading!

Idea #4: Clean & declutter your space!

Part of the reason many of us do #NoSpendNovember is to deal with just how much stuff we really need in our lives. Instead of spending your Saturday morning thrift shopping (like I often do), work on cleaning up your space. Give the bathroom a good scrub down, shred old paperwork you no longer need, and reorganize your sock drawer. A clean, simplified space can be calming and soothing – something we all could use more of these days!

Idea #5: Give back!

In addition to donating old clothes or home goods, consider giving away some of your time as well! Volunteering is a great way to spend some time making new friends, staying busy, and having a positive impact on your community. There are so many ways to volunteer, from tutoring students, cooking for the homeless, cleaning up your local park, or even cuddling puppies at your local shelter!

I hope everyone is having a great time with their #NoSpendNovember challenges! If you have any other great ideas for fun + free ideas, leave a comment below!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

No Friday Favorites post this week. I totally forgot to keep track of the things I was into – oops!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day. I am off to find something green to wear and see if I can get my hands on a corned beef sandwich for lunch this afternoon!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the arrival of spring!

 

First Day of Fall

first day of fall

(#TBT to some amazing fall hiking from last year!)

It’s finally the first day of fall!

While it has felt like fall around here for a couple weeks now, I’m so glad it’s officially here. Now I won’t feel bad about adding pumpkin spice to my coffee, oatmeal, bread – just about everything!

Summer was great, but around here it was just too hot to enjoy. I love being outdoors, and fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and enjoy some amazing weather. Even the rain is something I welcome happily. It’s the perfect excuse to curl up under a blanket and read a book…or take a nap. I can’t wait to spend more time hiking, working, and generally being productive instead of hiding from the heat.

Fall also signifies the start of a new school year for most people. Even though I’m not a student or teacher anymore, I always considered fall the time of new beginnings. So to ring in the fall, I plan to sit down and carefully make plans and goals to round out the rest of the year. There are so many things I wanted to get done this year that I didn’t get around to, and many more I haven’t started yet. Just because the year is coming to a close doesn’t mean we can’t get shit done, right?

So to all of you like me to consider fall to be their favorite season, get out there and enjoy the changing leaves, damp air, and maybe even a latte or two. Hell, if I remember I’ll even show you how I make my own PSL – they’re easy and oh so tasty!

How do you plan to spend your fall this year? Do you have any traditions you take part in, or favorite foods you like to make? Let me know in the comments!

Life on Instagram: August

Life on Instagram: August

Chopped Salad / Vietnamese Pork Soup / Pasta with Chicken and Zucchini / Oven-Roasted Ribs and Corn on the Cob

August was a challenging month for cooking. D decided to go low-carb, and wasn’t digging meat most of the month. Since I do the cooking, it’s my job to figure dinners out for him that meet those requirements (lucky me). Thankfully, it was hot as balls all month, so we ate a lot of salads or veggie-heavy meals. The ribs were a major success, and the first time I did them in an oven.

Life on Instagram: August

Lewis Creek Park / Cougar Mountain / Cougar-Squak-Tiger Mountain Corridor / Lakemont

I didn’t get out hiking as much as I wanted to in August, thanks to the crazy temperatures. It is cooling off finally, and I will hopefully get out more in September. In addition to exploring some new trails, I found a few places that I can go to write or chill out this fall when I need to get outside.

Life on Instagram: August

Coffee-fueled work session / First trip to Whole Foods ever / Re-potting plants / Trying new things…

After a bit of an un-motivated July, I took my time in August to get life back in order and get out of the house more. I found a great coffee shop to work in, got some chores done around the house, and hauled myself to a Whole Foods just to check things out. Oh, and the candy is because D was shocked I never had a Chick-o-Stick before (it was…kinda gross). It turns out there are a lot of candies I never had before. I guess I was more sheltered as a child than I thought (just kidding).

Make sure to check in during September for more updates on that trip to Whole Foods, what I’ll be wearing this fall, and a few easy DIY projects for fall!

Oh, and if you haven’t already:

Follow me on Instagram!

Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking

Summer hiking spots (clockwise from top-left):
Lewis Creek Park / Cougar Mountain / Cougar Mountain / Timberlake Park

Hiking this summer has been…sporadic at best. The weather was either extremely rainy or extremely hot – neither of which make for great hikes. I was looking forward to August, when we usually get a break from the extreme weather…but that didn’t happen this year!

At the beginning of August, I stayed near home because every time I went out, it would start pouring down rain. I don’t mind a little rain while I’m outside, but a crazy deluge isn’t fun. As the month dragged on, it got warmer – a lot warmer. We are seeing temperatures well into the 90s, so any hiking I do now has to be early in the morning (if at all).

In my summer hiking adventures, I managed to check out a few new parks. Timberlake Park was my most recent trek, and it was the perfect, flat loop out to Lake Sammamish that I need when I’m looking for an easy morning run (yes, I sometimes run…I know, crazy me). The views are amazing, and it’s only a few minutes from home. I also mentioned a few places I checked out earlier in the summer in my “Chasing Views” post if you want to see more!

I haven’t gotten out as often as I’d like to, but isn’t that always the case? I’m hoping things will chill out (literally and figuratively) in September. I also want to start going to some new places, and revisit some old favorites I went to last fall. Let’s hope the weather cooperates!

Where have you been hiking lately? Any great places to try out this fall?

Chasing Views

Chasing Views

(Clockwise from top-left: Twin Falls, Rattlesnake Ridge, Poo Poo Point, Snoqualmie Falls)

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed,
and to have my senses put in order.”
~John Burroughs

Hiking lately has looked a lot different for me. Instead of heading out on the same old trails, I am exploring more challenging trips. Aside from the killer views, I learned a few things about myself along the way:

I’m slow. Like, really slow.

As a solo hiker, I thought I was an average hiker in terms of speed. As it turns out, I’m not. I’m embarrassingly slow. Sometimes I’m slow because I’m not ready to handle the trek (as was the case with Poo Poo Point), and other times it’s because I would rather stop and enjoy the view (as was the case with Twin Falls). I’m learning that racing to the top is not my style. I’d rather wander and see things than race to the top with my head down.

I’m too hard on myself.

I hiked up 3 mountains this year, yet only summited 2 – and that one I didn’t summit still pisses me off. I got a bit lost, a bit tired, and had to give up. I know that I should appreciate what I accomplish, and not focus on what I didn’t. I also know it was an important lesson to listen to my body instead of risking getting hurt or really lost. It still makes me mad that I can’t do everything I want to do, but I’m getting better about it.

Hiking is great therapy.

Whenever life sucks donkey balls, I like to head outside. It is a great way for me to get whatever is bothering me out of my system, and to physically push myself to exhaustion. It’s a great outlet when I need one. However, I worry sometimes that I’ll start associating hiking with being upset or angry because that seems to be the only times I do it now. I did that with bike riding in Ohio, and grew to dislike it somewhat. Guess that’s something I need to deal with.

Heights bother me now.

When hiking Rattlesnake Ridge with a small group recently, I discovered one reason I’m a slow hiker might be a mild case of vertigo. After about a 1,500 foot climb, I found myself dizzy, out of breath, and nauseated – which scared the crap out of me. Since then, I’ve done a few 1,000ft+ climbs and the same thing happens each time. I have done much longer hikes with shorter ascents that don’t do this to me, which is why I think it might be vertigo and not just an in/out of shape thing. Maybe this flat-land Ohio girl isn’t meant to climb mountains? If you’re a seasoned hiker and have any ideas of how to help, I’m all ears!

The views are always worth it. Always.

Even if it takes me forever, I’m angry with the world around me, and I’m dizzy as fuck, it’s always a great feeling to make it to my destination. Being rewarded with a great mountaintop view or a beautiful waterfall is worth the shit I put up with to get there. It’s also a consolation to know the trip back will be easier (and usually downhill)!

February on Instagram

february on instagram

February was a great month for hiking! The weather was sunny and warm most days, and even if it wasn’t, I managed to get out anyway. It has been amazing to see things starting to sprout, even if it does mean allergy season is fast approaching! Hopefully I’ll be able to get out even more in March!

february on instagram

I didn’t write much about food this past month on the blog, and I probably won’t much next month – but I instagrammed about it a lot. February was all about getting back to normal after the holidays, and I’m looking to keep up the good work in March. Fat Tuesday, or as I know it Paczki Day, was obviously an important day for me (holla to my fellow Poles out there), but after spending the month behaving myself, I could indulge without feeling guilty. I’m finding a balance between eating healthy while still eating well, so of course I make sure not to cut out anything too crazy. I still love a glass of wine…but now, I stop at one (otherwise I’ll be eyeballs deep in junk food later). 

february on instagram

Finally, this past month was big for stocking up on things for spring. I updated my skincare routine after a nasty breakout, renewed my love of print magazines, and did some serious thrift shopping. I can’t wait to share more of what I scored while thrifting this past month – so stay tuned to find out what I came home with!

March is going to be a busy month, with moving into a new place, more job hunting, and some of my favorite shows coming back to TV (is anyone else excited for House of Cards?). I’m also planning to kick up the posts to 4-5 days per week, if I can manage to work that around packing, unpacking, and spring cleaning (which should be easy in a new space, I hope)!

If you want to catch up with what I’ve been ‘gramming, make sure to
click here to follow my Instagram feed!

Friday Favorites: Spring is Coming

spring is coming

Taken while out hiking this week! Spring is coming!

Happy Friday!

It has been unseasonably warm around here this week, and it’s been great to go hiking and see things starting to sprout! Sure, it means seasonal allergies are on their way, but so are flowers, and I can’t wait to see some more bright, fun color outside!

Before I head off to do some thrifting, packing, and figure out what we’re having for dinner tonight, I wanted to share what I’ve been enjoying around the internet this week!

  • Man Repeller posed an important question for the fashion and blogging industries alike – is “street style” on its way out? While I agree it’s still around and going strong, it ruins the experience for me when I know who most of the people are. I loved street style because it was about how non-industry (or new to the industry) people were dressing and interpreting trends, but now some of these people have made careers out of being street style gurus…and that kinda ruins it for me. The comment section on this post is just as important to read as the post itself – they started an interesting conversation!
  • If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately and it sucks – mostly because I really don’t like salads. The Chalkboard Mag is trying to win me over, though, with their article, “10 Salad Recipes That Aren’t Boring.” I might have to give a few of these a try next week, and we’ll see if they converted me to at least tolerating salads!
  • The other struggle I’m facing while eating healthier is that I love baking, but baking means making huge portions of things that are generally not considered healthy (especially when it means a whole cake for only two people). The Pioneer Woman has my back, though, with a “Chocolate Cake in a Mug” recipe that’s the perfect size for when you want to indulge, but not get stuck eating a whole cake by yourself. I’m totally going to give this one a try soon – I’ve been craving something bad, and it’s better if I indulge a little before I go bonkers and try my hand at making a whole cheesecake….
  • I recently bought the Thayer’s Rose Witch Hazel Toner, and the stuff is changing my skin for the better, especially after a sweaty workout! If you’re more into making your own, The Chalkboard Mag has a great recipe for their own post-workout Rose + Witch Hazel Face Wipes. They would make a great gift, or fit perfectly into your gym bag to freshen up after a long workout (or just on a hot day…which I promise are coming back soon).
  • If you’re looking for a good snack for Oscar night, check out Everyday Food’s YouTube video on how to make three amazing (and easy) versions of baked chicken wings. They sound yummy, and perfect for a night of lounging around and watching the show!

Alright, there you have it! I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ve been loving online this week, so leave a comment with suggestions of things I should check out!

Winter Hiking

winter hiking

Instead of doing my monthly “PNW Parks” posts this winter, I decided to stick with parks I already know and love. This means I don’t take too many photos of my treks, since I’ve shared so many photos from these places already. I also haven’t really blogged about them much, since it’s hard to say anything new about a park I run laps around 3 times a week!

While sticking to my usual haunts, I find myself becoming a stronger and more confident hiker. Each time I visit a park I’ve been to a dozen times, I try to push myself just a little bit harder, and a little farther out of my comfort zone. This has led me to find amazing new sights (like the waterfall above), gain better understanding of the trail system, and even rescue a dog who got stuck in a nearby creek (to his credit, he was chasing a tennis ball and didn’t want to abandon it). I even got a little lost on my Valentine’s Day hike, and ended up at the wrong parking lot – but I eventually figured it out, and got back to my car without much trouble. That will teach me to rely too heavily on my GPS (which crapped out in the middle of my hike without my knowing it)!

Thankfully, the weather this winter has worked out heavily in my favor. Sure, it rains a lot during the winter here, but when the temperatures stay hovering around 50 every day, even a rainy day is a great day to get outside. I’m thankful that the winters here are mild, which means I get outside a lot more than I ever used to in Ohio. I don’t know how long this warm trend will last, but I’m taking advantage of it every chance I get!

As the weather starts to warm up, I’ll be heading back out to find new and amazing parks in the PNW area. For now, though, I’m happy sticking to the familiar.

Life on Instagram: January

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone is doing well, and getting hyped up for the weekend!

Today, I thought I’d share my favorite Instagram photos from the past month! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at @afternoonglow!

Life on Instagram: January

(Clockwise from top-left)

Packing away the holiday decorations! / Enjoying the pretty flowers my mother sent me while planning for the new year / Started off the year working on a few DIY projects! / New mantle decor to bring in some color (and more candles)

Life on Instagram: January

Started off the year with the lightest dusting of snow. / Breaking in my new trail running shoes / The fog here is serious…and creepy / I’ve only been out hiking twice in January, so I’m sharing both!

Hope you had a great start to the new year, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for February!