Dreaming of the Beach

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Every now and then I have dreams of sticking my toes in the sand on a deserted beach. I look down to see the sand folding over my toes and everything feels right. I love the mountains, but there’s just something about the beach that beckons me. Would I want to be a sailor? Not a chance. Do I actually like being in the ocean? I feel like I’m going to die every time I get past my hips. But the calming ebb and flow of the waves is comforting and somehow reminds me of who I am when I feel lost.

Forever a beach baby,

Maegan

This is what 7 degrees looks like:

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It’s currently 7 degrees in Colorado Springs. I took this while letting the dogs romp around in the snow. They’ve been getting some serious cabin fever. You can just see a hazy moon peeking out behind the branches of the tree. This is a calm cold. There’s no chilly breeze. All the neighbors are warmly tucked into their houses. The only sound was the crunch of the powdery packed snow giving way to my boots and the occasional honking from geese in flight. Thick snow flakes, the kind that settle into your hair and eyelashes, have been blanketing the ground for two nights in a row. When the sun rises, it resonates on each crystal, giving the town an enchanting twinkle.

Stay warm wherever you are, friends!

Maegan

Banana bread: a Departure From My Usual Content 


So you know how this is primarily a travel blog? Well, I’ve got something else to talk about. In my previous post, I mentioned cooking. I have been putting so much energy into cooking, considerably more than I have my entire life. I’m getting to the point where I can attempt difficult recipes because I finally have the cooking confidence I have been chasing since I was 16.

I know this is not my usual post, but stay with me while I digress. Can we hang, Bloggerverse?

Want to know a secret about making banana bread in Colorado? If you want your loaf to be swolloable, do not use whole wheat flour. That’s what I get for trying to make banana bread healthier. To make your bread, ugh I hate this word, moist, add a half a cup sour cream. Most recipes that I’ve found tell you to use a stand mixer or hand mixer at some point, but this recipe doesn’t call for that. I’ve made it both ways, and I can’t tell a difference. Save yourself some time and dishes, and skip that step. Also, feel free to replace the butter with coconut oil. It works just as well but is so much healthier. Without further ado, here’s my perfected banana bread recipe that I’ve been working on for the past month:

1/2 melted butter

1 1/4 cup flour (not whole wheat)

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( if you don’t have any on hand, the same amount of maple syrup works too.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 medium bananas sliced and mashed (you can do this with a fork)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil or any oil/cooking spray you have on hand.

2. In a large bowel, stir together melted butter and sugar.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

4. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Then stir it into the butter-sugar mixture until smooth.

5. Fold in sour cream, mashed bananas, walnuts, and chocolate chips.

6. Spread evenly into the loaf pan.

7. Bake it for 60 minutes or until a toothpick entered in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

8. Let stand for 10 minutes, and serve.

What are your secrets for the best banana bread? I’d love to try them all!

Newly converted banana bread enthusiast,

Maegan

Avoidance: A Letter to My Blog

Dearest Blog, 

So it’s true. You may have noticed. I’ve been avoiding you, blog. I have few beautiful pictures to share. My camera has been sitting in a bag that is currently collecting dust in the far corner of my craft room. I haven’t been on any hikes, fun weekend trips, or scenic drives lately. It’s getting cold in Colorado, and there’s very little daylight at the end of the work day. The weekends since Halloween have all seen me in sweats, house shoes, and a book in my hand. While I haven’t taken very many photos or delved further into photography in general, as I had promised myself pre Halloween, I’ve been cooking surprisingly tasty and challenging meals, finishing old crosswords, and attempting to keep my closet organized (at which I am forever failing). 

I forget that with the time change and the colder weather, I tend to forgo my warm spontaneuos adventures and opt for finishing Netflix shows (Guys, have you seen the Crown? It’s brilliant.), crafting, or doing anything inside. Potty training Atticus has also been a time consuming priority. Why is it that people only tell you small dogs are hardest to house break after you get a small dog? Ugh. 

But hey! I’ve been focusing on going to the gym and eating healthier. But that’s just not very fun in pictures. 

I’ll attempt to do better as my energy stabilizes. I promise not to take ridiculously long naps anymore. Besides, I got napped out on Thanksgiving weekend. Here’s to moving forward and refocusing energy on what’s important. You guessed it, that’s you, blog. 

Forever yours, 

Maegan 

Halloweekend Etc.

This weekend was so wonderful. It was filled with candy, junk food, lots of friends, and lots of laughter. Now that it’s over, I feel like I’m in a Halloween hangover. I’m going to leave up my spooky decorations just a bit longer.

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We stopped at a diner after last minute costume shopping at a thrift shop. Cy’s is magical. Go if you’re ever in Colorado Springs. They have curb side service and killer burgers. Try their shakes and malts too. You can thank me later.

We then went to two costume parties. Here are some of my favorite costumes:

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Jareth, the Goblin King.

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And his little Goblin.

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A mummy complete with lots of spiders. When people asked him what he was he said, “A MOMMY!”

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The boys wanted to take pictures of me. They reminded me that it was only fair because I took pictures of them. This is the best one that James took. I should let him take over my camera more often. Also, I was wedding Jenny from Forrest Gump and K was Forrest Gump. Grayson was running Forrest, dressed in red nike shorts and a yellow t-shirt. Atticus was young Forrest, complete with a plaid baby onesie (the only thing that would fit him) and newborn khaki shorts. My biggest regret is that I didn’t get a picture of all of us.

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K and I made some delicious drinks for one of the parties. The punch on the left is four cups pineapple juice, two cans of pomegranate La Croix Sparking Water, two cans orange sparkling water, four cups vodka (lemon flavored if you fancy lemon). Garnish with oranges and raspberries. It was the favorite at the party.

The drink on the right is the one that I made in this post. I made it with vodka instead of whiskey this time, but I would strongly recommend only using whiskey. People drank it with the vodka, but it didn’t get the same reaction as when I brought the whiskey version to previous parties.

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We ended the weekend with a casual brunch at Mountain Shadows, my favorite breakfast place in town.

When Halloween finally came, it was super anticlimactic. I bought four bags of candy, and we got ZERO trick or treaters. Looks like I’ve got some candy eating to do. I guess there are worse things.

Did you guys get any trick or treaters?

Maegan

Photo Friday

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For this trip to Taos, I didn’t bring any hair product. I just put my hair in a bun after I showered. About four hours later, I took it down to see what it was doing naturally. Apparently, my natural hair looks a lot like Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds, circa seasons 2-5. I caught a glimpse of my hair plus Ray Bans in a store window, and I had to take a picture. I guess it’s an easy, go-to Halloween costume. I just need a crossbody satchel, a revolver, and some statistics about serial killers.

Maegan

Photo Friday 

I took this at the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque in October 2015. This was the first time I was able to make it to the park in time so I didn’t have to watch the take off from the highway. There’s something magical about hot air balloons. Maybe that’s because I have no idea how they work. Which is perfect so I can stay curious.

Happy Friday, friends!

Maegan

Travel Tips: Packing Lightly

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My favorite way to travel is the cheapest. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I will sacrifice comfort for the cheapest price every time. This makes Spirit Airlines perfect for me. They get you from A to B without charging you for all the extra stuff you don’t need. How much are we really paying for that child-sized cup of Coca Cola and peanuts? These options are still available on Spirit if you’re in the mood, but I like the idea that I don’t have to pay for things that I don’t need.

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That being said, Spirit charges not only for checked bags but also for carry on items. If you’re going to have a carry on or a checked bag, don’t forget to purchase those online BEFOREHAND. If you don’t, they charge about $100 when you get there. They do allow one personal item which can be a small purse, bag, or backpack. On a recent extended weekend trip to Dallas for a friend’s wedding, I opted for the small backpack. Here’s everything that I packed into the small backpack:

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-Pair of wedding heels from Modcloth
-Winter thick green dress, also from Modcloth
-Old Navy jean jacket circa 2005
-Formal Belk dress found during my trip to be worn at a future military ball (it is thick and has a full skirt)
– Pair of black jeans
-Crossbody bag
-One thermal (which was WAY too hot in Dallas in October)
-One beanie
-Two necklaces
-Make-up bag
-Wallet
Dear Daughter paperback book
-Underwear and shapewear not pictured

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When I type it all out, I’m even impressed with my ability to get all that into one backpack. I thought several times while packing that I should just pay the $36 for another carry on. But my cheap side won out, as it always does. So how did I do it?

I’ve read many articles discussing whether the rolling or folding method works best. I’ve done both many times, and I am here to tell you that it depends on your suitcase or bag. With this backpack, I tried folding, but it didn’t give me the room that I needed. I was also looking for my bag to somewhat resemble a non-overstuffed backpack (I don’t want my luggage to alert everyone to my thriftiness), so rolling worked best for me in this instance.

First, I stacked my heels on top of each other like they come in the shoe boxes. I find that gives you maximum space. I put those on the bottom near the back to give my bag some sort of shape. In backpacks, I like to put flat things near the back so I don’t have bulges of clothes pushing on my back when I’m wearing it. I then rolled the formal dress as tight as I could without wrinkling it. I do have to wear that thing in two weeks, after all. Then I rolled things and put them in according to their bulk. I always put the bulkier things at the bottom because that looks more natural when you put on the backpack. Don’t forget to put your wallet, phone, boarding pass, chapstick, or whatever you think you will need quick access to on the top! I had to unpack the whole thing because I put my wallet with my ID and credit card on the very bottom.

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Nerdy confession: I really love packing. Packing boxes for moving, packing suitcases, packing storage items, you name it. I love it because it’s just like a puzzle. Sometimes I have to pack and repack it to get it just right, but I enjoy the challenge. As long as it’s not last minute packing, which is what I do 95% of the time. I’m also a procrastinator when it comes to packing, so it often doesn’t feel enjoyable. I’m working on it! Personal growth and development and all that.

That bag looks awfully grumpy, doesn’t it? Want to hear another confession? Because of the way the bag is made, I couldn’t actually close the bag all the way for my return trip (that dress is going to be beautiful, but it sure was a huge pain). I walked around DFW very conscious of who was standing behind me at all times because someone could have easily reached a hand in and grabbed something. I ended up putting my book on the very top so pick pocketing was a little harder. Whenever I could, I stood up against a wall or a window. My mind was torturing me with thoughts like, “Well, whatever they steal better be under $36”.

I’m happy to report that I got back with all of my items and only spending $100 on my plane ticket from Denver to DFW. Take that, expensive airlines and your “complimentary drinks”.

Thanks for letting me share!

Maegan