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Staycation Diaries: That’s a wrap!

It’s oooovvverrrrrr.

Okay… it’s almost 10pm on a Sunday night, and it’s about to be official: the end of my Staycation.

I’m definitely savoring these last few moments before reality hits when my alarm goes off at 6:30 tomorrow – I cooked a meal (I’ll be taking the leftovers for lunch tomorrow), I spent three hours on the patio with Blanche and a book, I soaked in the tub, and am currently in bed watching TV while I type.

On Friday, I felt this urge to be productive: I had freelance work to do, laundry to do, groceries to get, and I had an evening rehearsal. I also needed to get to bed early because the shoot for the music video was at 6:30 Saturday morning.

But, at the advice of a friend, I decided to do some work, but also have a little fun. So, I did finish my laundry and about an hour’s-worth of freelance, but I also took myself to Taco Shack for lunch (that was my first time there) and I took an afternoon nap before my evening rehearsal.

I didn’t make it to bed early – I stayed up until midnight talking on the phone – and then I still had to shower and do ALL the face/lip/eye masks… so it was at least 1am before I went to bed, and I got up at 4:30 to do my hair and makeup and make it to Bull Creek by 6:30.

I was soooo nervous about the shoot – there were parts of the dance I was less-confident about, and I was also worried about it being outside, and hot… but honestly, it was a lot of fun. All of us worked really hard and I think it will be a great video – it premiers July 29!

The shoot wrapped at 10:00 am, and I felt like I’d already lived an entire DAY. But it was starting to rain and I was exhausted, so I immediately came home, took a shower, and got into bed to binge season 3 of “The OC”.

I actually took a three-hour nap, but then I watched several episodes, hit up the grocery store, and was still in bed early.

I woke up this morning so, so sore. Dancing outdoors, on a picnic table, jumping off rocks, and skipping through the river took a toll on me!

This morning, I got up and got ready for a brunch I’d had on my calendar for awhile. A woman I met through dance was hosting a brunch with all of the creative women she knew.

Honestly, things like this make me a little nervous – I knew I wasn’t going to know many people aside from the hostess, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I could have easily stayed in bed, but who knew – maybe it would be great.

And it WAS. It was about 10 women, and we went around the table explaining all of the things we do and it was so neat to hear how different, yet similar we all were. It’s really cool (and comforting) to meet people who are dabbling in new things, facing fears, starting new businesses, and overall just being awesome women!

I am really excited to have possibly met some new friends, and to try new classes and hopefully go to more brunches with these ladies! I felt like it was just what I needed after a draining few months at the office.

When I got home from brunch, I really just wanted to continue to abandon all responsibilities and sit on the patio with a book – so I did exactly that. I went IN, too – I laid a blanket down, laid on a pillow, and read outside with Blanche for hours! It was really nice.

In general, I’m really sad that my Staycation is over. It was really nice to be able to have a whole week all to myself. But on the other hand, I felt like I was still pretty busy during the week, and it was a huge reminder of all the things I’ve got going on – which, on any other day, I would tell you is a great thing, but when you need a rest, it’s nearly impossible to put your entire life on hold.

I’m a firm believer that Newton’s First Law of Motion: a body in motion, stays in motion – applies to life as well. When I’m at work during the week, it’s easier for me to stay moving, go to dance after work, get freelance done, eat healthy, etc. But when I’m on vacation… I’m a slug (relatively speaking).

That’s not a bash to slugs; I also wanted to say that this week was a reminder of just how important it is to take a break, rest, step away. Even if it’s just for an hour, for a day, or whatever you have, you owe it to yourself to rest and restore, and you’ll be a better person for it.

So, I’m wrapping up this Staycation (I’m still going to stay up and read a little), but I’ve decided I’m going to stretch these vibes into the weeks coming. I’ve already booked a facial for Saturday morning, and I’m going to treat myself to meals at restaurants I’ve never been to much more often.

#StaycationForLife

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Staycation Diaries: Day 1.

If we’re not counting the weekend, today was officially my first day of Staycation! But, I did have a good weekend – I went to two places in town that I’ve never been – Counter Culture and Capital City Bakery (both vegan).

I also laid out at the pool, finished reading a book (and am already close to finishing a second), and went to Sprout’s Farmer’s Market for the first time.

As difficult as it is for me to admit, my mental health has been suffering lately. Sometimes, I feel like my brain is about to explode! It’s difficult for me to tell if it is grief, work stress, fatigue, or a combination of all three, but what I know is that my usual comforts haven’t been reliable, and that’s scary.

So, part of my staycation will be giving my mind and body the rest that it needs, but also moving “Find a Therapist” from the bottom of my to-do list and move it to the top.

Yesterday, I started making the vegan Banana Cream Pie that was on my Staycation list – it took awhile since the filling had to set overnight, but it was worth the wait. I finished it this morning and immediately had a slice – it was very good, very light! You can get the recipe from the Minimalist Baker.

I spent a majority of the morning on my patio, drinking lots of coffee and reading – it was really peaceful and nice.

But, it wasn’t long before I ventured to my computer, because even though I’m off at my day job – freelance work means you’re never truly on vacation. It also didn’t help that my boss from my 9-5 is also on vacation and she set me as her backup – le sigh. Communication really is key, folks.

I’ve talked some about my freelance career on here, but it’s something I’ve always done on the side to earn extra money and to keep my skills fresh. I find that no matter the day job, I am always looking for a change of plans.

Currently, I’m really lucky to have several steady jobs going at once, and they’ve really broadened my horizons because most of them are in other countries, including Switzerland and Columbia.

But it also means lots of organizing, juggling, and time management. For a few hours, I actually felt like I wasn’t on vacation at all. Then I remembered that I do have a whole week ahead of me, and even though I’m still doing work, it’s nice to be doing the work while posted up in bed, binging on MTV’s “Ex On The Beach”.

I did take a break to run to Michael’s, because I need to ship an Etsy order tomorrow! Ps. I am currently running a summer sale in the shop – get 20% off + free shipping when you order any two items!

I did get some supplies to make a few new items for the shop, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open for those.

In about an hour, I’m heading to a yoga class, and tonight I’m going to cook dinner, and probably head back out on the patio to finish reading a book!

I was gifted the LUSH sleepy shower jelly and lotion, which I have been dying to try – I’ve heard you really zonk out after using it – so I’m going to try that. Really partying hard over here!

Stay tuned for Staycation Day Two… and keep up with me on social media @OrangeJulius7 (especially if you want to see how my pie turned out)!

Staycation, all I ever wanted!

I am fairly certain its bad blogging etiquette to say how exhausted I am, but it’s been a crazy few weeks at work, and life has just been SERVING it to me. Lucky for me, I planned a staycation for myself months ago and have the entire week off!

At first, I didn’t think I’d be that excited about a staycation (I’ve never really had one) and I also thought a week (or 9 whole days) off work would be almost too long. Turns out, I’m already feeling like I probably should have asked for two weeks off.

Regardless, I made a list of things I might do next week – with an understanding that I also might just lay in my bed until the morning of July 9th, when I’m expected back at the office. So, here’s what I’m thinking:

Brunch at Holy Roller

This downtown gem is known for their witty, religious twist on their decor and menu items. They are also home of the “Trash Fries” – but I’m also eyeing the “Grilled Cheesus”. Take a look at their menu for their full offering.

Head to the Movies

It’s been a minute since I’ve been to the movies, and I really want to see “Tag” along with the new “Jurassic World” – I even have a free movie pass to use, so I’m really hoping for one of those afternoons where I’m the only one in the theatre…

4th of July Paddleboarding

This is the only event I know for a FACT I am doing because I already bought my ticket… plus, I’m pretty excited about it. This is a 2-hour stand-up paddle-boarding session on Lady Bird Lake at night underneath the Downtown Austin fireworks on July 4. I can usually see fireworks from my apartment, but each year I always wish I would have actually gone somewhere to see them closer… and I think this is about as close as I can get! I have only been paddle-boarding once before, but I didn’t fall, so I’m hoping I have similar luck!

Lounge by the Pool

It’s a no-brainer that at least a few times, I’ll be at the pool with my head buried in a book, alongside a cooler full of snacks (and white wine).

Binge on ‘The OC’

I bought seasons three and four and have no had a chance to start either of them! I really have some catching up to do.

Lunch at Veracruz All Natural

I heard that Round Rock’s Veracruz All Natural has THE BEST shrimp tacos in Austin and I will happily forgo my vegan diet to try these bad boyz. They also serve 32-ounce agua frescas and I am so freaking excited to get a pineapple one!

Cook in the Kitchen

While I do plan on eating out and enjoying food at the Drafthouse during movies, I do want to cook a few new vegan goodies right at home, including Garlic Buffalo Brussels Sprouts from Rabbit and Wolves, and a Banana Cream Pie from the Minimalist Baker #treatyoself

And so concludes my list. I sort of wanted to include a few productive things on my list, like renew my passport, renew my car registration, and wash my car… but I decided to drive myself insane and did it ALL this week so that next week – I’m completely without obligation.

I’ll let you all know how it turns out on Instagram and SnapChat @OrangeJulius7

Life after vacation.

Le sigh.

Hey yo! I’m starting this week off with an apology – I know I only blogged twice last week, which was not planned. Vacation kicked my ass!

I got back to Austin Monday night around 9:30, and by the time I got home, showered, got myself ready for bed, and watched “Southern Charm”, it was after midnight. When I arrived at work on Tuesday, there was all sorts of unnecessary drama that I did not need.

By the time things were starting to feel back to usual around the office – I even got things organized there, and started catching up on all of my podcasts again – the power went out and completely jacked up our internet, leaving us to work from home for a day and a half. Ugh!

It took me much longer to get back to my “normal” life than I thought. And I wondered… is this vacation after 30? I’ve always heard people complain about jet lag and adjusting back to regular life after vacation, but never really experienced it. Whew, not until now!

But, I did take a few dance classes last week, and then used my weekend to help get myself back in order.

After all of the junk (but very delicious) food and drink I had on vacation, I was excited to clean out my fridge and hit the grocery with a list of fresh produce. I am happy to report that my fridge is now full of Naked Juices, fruit, raw veggies, boiled eggs, and soda water. I’ll be living off that until I feel skinny again.

I spent a majority of my Saturday volunteering for the Austin Film Festival – an event that’s become very special to me. There was an opportunity to earn some hours by passing out fliers for their kids’ Summer Camp… I ended up walking 12,000 steps going door-to-door, and even ran from a couple of roosters on my route! It did nothing for my vacation fatigue, but it was an interesting way to spend a Saturday.

I also finished reading a book – so look for that review right here, on Friday for Blanche’s Book Club.

I did a few chores around the house, and have, at the very least, prepped my laundry for a trip to the laundromat tomorrow. And finally, I got word that my Blog Class at UT was confirmed for this semester, and it starts on Wednesday night! I’m so excited to be back teaching, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of students. Teaching is such a thrill for me and I’m excited to share my love of blogging to a new set of students.

So, I’m hitting the ground running this week – I’m back at work, back to dancing, blogging, teaching, and eating healthy (I even made veggie “sushi”) for awhile – at least until my next vacation, which is planned for the end of June. Summer is here, y’all, and I love me some summer adventures!

Isn’t it true, that when you take a vacation, you just want to keep taking them? I feel like whenever I go on vacation, I try to think of ways I can adjust my current life so that I can take more vacations and/or travel to more places. Then I just simply WISH that my life was a vacation, but I suppose it wouldn’t be as special if that were the case… or would it? I’m willing to be the guinea pig.

And so, I’m back – and I’m finally feeling refreshed. I’ve got some fun stuff planned for the blog this week (“Southern Charm” recap, a John Mayer review, Blanche’s Book Club, etc.), so I hope you’ll stick around. It’s good to be BACK!

‘Mariah’s World’: Crossing Borders.

Okay, MC.

Okay, MC.

IIIIItttttt’s Monday and I’m not at work, so let’s celebrate that for a good week. It has actually been freezing (literally) here in Austin, so I spent the weekend under my electric blanket, crawling out only to watch what was reported to be the worst hockey game in Texas Stars’ history.

Brrr.

But I still managed to watch last night’s episode of “Mariah’s World”, so let’s get into it…

At the start of the episode,  there’s still a big issue with the fact that the dancers don’t want children on the bus. But, Mariah wants everyone to get along, so she says to just let things happen “organically”.

So… the crew is off to London for another performance on the tour.

The issue this time is that Mariah’s assistant has fired the top hair stylist, and instead, they hired someone within budget, and who causes less drama. But Mariah’s hair doesn’t look as great.

So, that’s an issue.

Her staff is also focused on her “Anniversary” – Because Mariah Carey doesn’t believe in birthdays. Why would she?

But the excitement of her upcoming celebration is plagued by the DRAMA of two things: 1. The tour manager did not inform anyone that there was a time difference in Luxemborg, where Mariah was performing, so they arrived an hour late, and 2. Stella rehires Danielle and accuses her of being the one going to the press about all the drama.

I see the whole time change thing from a few different angles. Of course, I don’t understand how Mariah can have a huge staff around her and no one realizes (or says anything) about the time change. And two, why do people in concert crowds get soooo pissed about that? Have another drink and calm down.

On the Stella and Danielle front, Stella is the one that says Danielle causes drama, but it seems to be the other way around with Stella picking fights and flipping Danielle off for no apparent reason.

Finally, Mariah sits the women down, they talk it out, hug it out, and supposedly everything is just fine (but I’m sure this drama will pick up later).

On the man front, James Packer (Mariah’s then-fiance) is nowhere to be found and pretty much is non-existent at this point. Instead,  Tanaka seems to be her main man, and the staff asks him to jump out of a cake for Mariah’s upcoming anniversary party.

Naturally, this won’t happen until the next episode but this whole fake love cherade is getting old already.

Even on a high of vermicelli noodles and wine, this show is boring AF. Honestly, I think this show is just fake all around, and I think this is just part of the fact that Mariah has never wanted to really let people into her life.

Successful reality shows often let us into the moments we couldn’t imagine otherwise – seeing someone in the hospital, or even just washing their face before bed – those are unscripted moments we can all relate to. So far, “Mariah’s World” is just a dramatic depiction of her life on tour, and not even the cool parts.

We’re only three parts into the 8-part “event” and I’m really hoping something picks up here.

Pic of the Week.

My pic(s) of the week this time just HAD to be about Hangout Fest, since I haven’t even been back home from it for 24 hours! It was a weekend in Gulf Shores, full of fun, sun, sand (it was even in my hair), fried food, drinks, and of course: music!

I will admit, I was really, really sad when Sam Smith didn’t end up making it for his time slot because of vocal chord surgery, but I still enjoyed the acts I did see. Some of the most impressive ones were Paramore, Tove Lo, Skrillex, and Beck.

Aside from the music, Hangout Fest is always full of cool, super-nice people. My friend and I met lots of people on the shuttle rides to and from the festival each day, and we had some particular fun with a group of guys we met that had traveled all the way from New York for the weekend. So, shout out to our new friends Dan, Tim, Chad “JC”, and Doug from New York (with fantastic accents), and also a HELLO to our people from South Atlanta, Jill and Cam! I can’t forget the groups from Buzz in Kansas City! You all made the weekend a great one.

As it goes with these types of things, I get really caught up in the moment and I don’t want to be “that person” with my phone glued to my side. So, unfortunately there aren’t a ton of pictures — but I’ve posted the ones I’ve got. If you’re on Instagram, head on over to my page @OrangeJulius to see videos from the Beck and Skrillex performances.

I made my fellow Hangout Fest-goer and I my custom “Koncert Kits” (available in my Etsy Shop), and they pretty much saved us, from the spare sheets of toilet paper to the hand sanitizer, and okay, the glow sticks and glitter! If you’re heading to an outdoor music fest this summer, I’d highly recommend getting yourself one.

At this point, I feel like I need to post this blog so I can face reality and get back to work — it’s not easy going from the good, beach festival life to the one sitting in front of a computer, but I suppose it’s got to be done. Hope y’all have a fantastic week!

Pic of the Week.

A gift for my mom on Mother's Day.

A gift for my mom on Mother’s Day.

I spent all of last week with my mom, as she was in town to visit. I hadn’t seen my mom in an entire year! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask off work, so I still had to put in 40 hours while she was here, and a lot of our visiting time was early in the morning or late at night.

But nonetheless, it’s still fun to have your mom around. She cleaned my apartment, really getting my bathroom in tip-top shape, and she cleaned my bedroom carpet, and dusted nearly the whole place. I am really thankful for it, because it’s something I feel like I never have time to do.

We also got to eat some yummy local food (gator tacos, boiled crawfish), did some shopping, got our nails done, and just caught up (even though we talk every day).

For Mother’s Day, I gave my mom a few gifts, one of which was a bracelet from Little Words Project. I’ve become obsessed with them after following them on Instagram @Littlewordsproject. Basically, they make and sell bracelets that have words on them, words of encouragement. You give someone a word you think they need, and when they’ve gotten all they need from their word, they pass it along to someone else who may need it.

In April, someone gave me a “Courage” bracelet, which I’ve been wearing ever since. When I went home to Indiana, I gave my friend one that said “Imagine” and then I gave my mom this “Laugh” bracelet.

I love wearing it, and although it’s kind of silly to think, seeing that word (courage) really does give me strength throughout my day! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend with your moms and families.

Survival Guide: Road trip!

Wahoo! The open road!

Wahoo! The open road!

In just a few weeks, I’m heading on a road trip! It’s been years since I’ve hit the open road for a trip that lasted longer than 4 hours, but I can easily say that I’m looking forward to it.

About a year ago, I took a 19-hour train ride (read about it here), which was fantastic (though I did sleep for quite awhile), but I know my road trip will give me some mental clarity — time for me and some music. After all, the first half of my trip involves just me.

So, how do you accomplish a road trip of a lifetime? Don’t worry, I’ve got some tips for you!

  1. Plan (a little). You don’t want to hit the road with no plan at all — trust me, running out of gas mid-Mississippi isn’t the type of adventure you’re after. Have an idea of where you’re going and places to stop, whether it’s an interesting food stop or for a place to sleep. Don’t over-plan to the point of it being rigid and stressful, a road trip is supposed to be freeing!
  2. Pack the snacks. Nothing beats truck stop snacks, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pack a cooler of drinks (I like to pack energy drinks and La Croix) and snacks (nuts, chocolate, fruit, cheese. Oh hell, pack a meat plate, too). Packing snacks and drinks means stopping less, and the ability to eat as you please instead of getting stuck in a drive-thru.
  3. Get entertainment. Because the first 15 hours of my trip, it’ll just be me (which I’ve done before), I’ll definitely be packing some great music (Sam Smith, John Mayer, Marc Broussard, among others) and possibly an audio book. I also have Sirius radio in my car (I could live off 90s on 9).
  4. To sleep or not to sleep? If you’re with a group, you can sleep in shifts (unless you’re all awake at once) and keep the car on the road. If not, you might have to break the trip up and plan to stop to sleep — don’t drive when you’re tired.
  5. The return. Heading home is typically less-exciting, so make the trip back something to look forward to. Maybe you plan a different route back, or stop at different places, catch a sunrise, listen to new music. Make the entire trip an adventure that’ll be worth your while!

When I was in college, I took a few road trips from Louisiana to Indiana all on my own. The first time I did it, I was so excited. Well, until I realized that driving up the entire state of Mississippi is quite a task. But, I listened to music, saw a sunset, and it was mentally refreshing. I’m looking forward to taking a very similar trip in two weeks. If you’ve got music or audio book recommendations, I’d love to hear them. And as always, follow me on social media @OrangeJulius7 to catch all the roadie pics!

Just remember on the way home, 
That you were never meant to feel alone.
It takes a little while, but you’d be fine:
Another good time coming down the line.

—John Mayer, On The Way Home

Pic of the Week.

Grillin' on the beach.

Grillin’ on the beach.

As I write this, I’m sitting in Native Cafe — one of my favorite spots along the Gulf, right in Pensacola Beach (I just ordered a stack of peanut butter pancakes, if that helps at all).

This morning, I had to say goodbye to my two best friends, and goodbye to a vacation we’ve been looking forward to for a better half of the year.  The other ladies had to head out earlier than me, since they live in Indiana and I’ve got a shorter (4 hour) drive to get back home.

Pensacola Beach holds a special place in my heart — while it’s not an expensive place to visit, it’s not home to many fancy restaurants, it’s really just a beautiful beach… and it’s where my friend and I spent weeks every summer, growing up, and now, as adults.

And so, last night, we capped off our long weekend with something I’ve always wanted to do — host a beach bonfire. Believe it or not, it took a lot of planning, and even some paperwork (for the permit)… we pulled it off and were able to sit around a fire, with waves in the background, and s’mores on-hand.

And while I do love the beach, and I love being away from my work-life, what I love most is knowing that I’ve got people in my life to share these moments with. The situation isn’t always ideal — I wish I lived closer — but we’ve made it work, even if it involves day-long drives on someone’s end.

There’s not a lot of people that I know that would do it.

And so, cheers to the summer — it’s been adventurous, and really, really great!