June 2017 Favorites
I can't even begin to explain to you how crazy this month has been - and how quickly it has flown by!
After coming back from vacation in late May, and then directly going into Vacation Bible School at our local church, I was already winded by the time that June moved in. But life went on ... and along came new schedule adjustments, I planted a small garden, I took a week long work trip to Huntsville, and then...my husband and I did something on a whim and adopted a puppy! [More about her below!]
But I cannot complain - my June has been full of great moments, new experiences, and an exorbitant amount of cheerfulness. I am so grateful for all the blessings that come into my life!
Here are my favorites from the beautiful month of June.
PS - to access links and get more information on places and products, click on the title script!
Meet our new furbaby, Molly! She's a sweet, spunky, 5 month old pup that loves to run, cuddle, eat the ears off toys, and chew on antlers.
So how did Molly come into our family? Travis and I were doing a small amount of shopping a few hours from home, and we decided to stop by a Petsmart to pick up Penelope [our beloved, spoiled dachshund] a toy and some new snacks before we headed home. We always like to visit the pets they have set up for adoption, and usually lament about how we "can't have another dog". It was there at Petsmart we saw her, set up for viewing by a local shelter, laying in her little pen.
We petted on her a bit, and she was so friendly, with a wagging tail and big puppy eyes. She wasn't barking or being super active like the other puppies, she was timid and sweet. In a way, she wanted love, but in another way, it was like she knew that no one wanted her - after a few pets from us, she would just slowly walk back to her towel on the hard floor and curl up on it. It absolutely broke our hearts, but we walked away. And then we went back. We walked away, and we went back. Over and over, debating continuously. We are not ones for impulsive decisions. But we also could not stand the thoughts of her going back to the shelter that night.
So love won over, and she came home with us. On the long drive home, she cuddled with us, all smiles. Travis picked out her name, and we began planning backyard fences and potty training strategies. Sometimes I wonder, what we were thinking?! It's been quite an adjustment, for us and for Penelope. But seeing her cute little personality come out, having her curl up lovingly beside us, watching her try to play with Penelope [who may or may not engage, bless her heart]....I'm always thankful that were able to give her a good home and that we, in return, get her love and loyalty.
At the time of writing this, Molly is away for three weeks of puppy "basic training". We are really missing her, and we can't wait to see her little pup face very soon!
Bridge Street Town Centre
Often times, work travel is dreadful and boring, let's just face it. But this time, I was lucky enough to travel with two of my very best friends, and it turned out to be quite a great trip! We went to Huntsville, AL. I have family that lives close to there, and have been to the popular US Space and Rocket Center, but I know little to nothing about the city itself. It's fairly big, wide spread and with a lot of criss-crossing highways. I probably would never pick Huntsville as a tourist destination, but it was fairly nice!
One night, we were on the hunt for some ice cream. We navigated to Maggie Moo's, which happened to be located in this large outdoor mall complex - the Bridge Street Town Centre.
This place was nothing like what we expected to encounter!
It was absolutely, positively gorgeous! We leisurely walked around and took in the architecture of the shops, which had the feel of a beautiful European town. Almost all of the business had closed by that point in the night, but that somehow added an extra air of beauty to the sights. There were stringed lights, pole lamps, lots of flora and fauna, and not to mention a large walking bridge over a makeshift lake that boasts a color changing waterfall. Because of the late hour, it was basically empty, so I didn't feel bad about snapping a million pictures.
While a portion of the businesses were upscale, there were also standards such as Belk and Ulta, not to mention a ton of amazing restaurants scattered throughout. We walked all the way from one side to the other until we found Maggie Moo's, which had some of the best red velvet ice cream I've ever eaten. I can't wait to go back someday when everything is open and do some shopping!
I stumbled across these really cute pet id tags on an Instagram ad. I thought they were so unique and kitschy, which I love. I really wanted to get Penelope one, since her old metal tag was corroded [Molly had not yet pawed into our lives at that time]. But I thought the price was a little high at $22.50. Then I started reading a little bit about Tags for Hope and saw where each tag purchased provides food, medical care and shelter for one pet in need - and so I bought one right away! [like I need an excuse, right?]
It is well made, very durable, and has a ton of information on it. The tags come in 2 sizes - small, for cats and small dogs, and standard, which is for larger pets [30+ pounds]. It's completely customizable! I just ordered Molly her very own tag a couple days ago, and it has already shipped. So glad I stumbled across this company!
The Great British Baking Show
I'm currently obsessed with watching this on Netflix. I love cooking competition shows. This one is very British, of course - there are recipes I don't know, judges I've never hear of, and even the overall production of the show is so different than a cooking competition show in America. There is much less drama, and they keep the overall flow of the show on a calm level, which really I prefer! Learning about the British food is so very interesting, too. And while their baking of savory pies is something that I'm not sure I can get on board with myself, I would eat a lot of what they make. Highly recommended if you need something light to watch!
Target Dollar Spot Water Bottle
I have been trying, for a long time, to drink more water while at work. I'm chained to a desk, so it is easy for me to sip throughout the work day. I have been reusing large water bottles, and filling them up in our office's water cooler. But I found this thick plastic sports bottle while at the Super Target in Huntsville [yes, we went to the Super Target] and even better, it was in the Dollar Spot! It was $3, and worth every penny. It has an inspirational saying, a wide mouth [no spout], and a screw-top lid with a hand strap attached. I'm not entirely sure how durable it is, but it's been very handy! You can't buy Dollar Spot items online, but at the time of this posting, you should be able to still find them at any Target, as they are a summer item.
Supporting Local Businesses
Really, supporting local economy is one of my favorite things to do every month of the year. But it is especially on my favorites list this month, because Summer is beginning, and so is the abundance of fresh produce and flowers!
I may have said this before, but food doesn't get much better to me than a warm tomato, straight from the garden. And when fresh corn is available for grilling, I am going to be buying it! Produce is so much more affordable when you buy in season and straight from the farm, and you know where your food is grown, which I like. I encourage you to support local farms and businesses when you can. You are truly making a difference in someone's life!
Alstroemeria Flowers from Trader Joe's
So very sadly, we don't have a local Trader Joe's store. It's one of the drawbacks of living in a smaller town, in my opinion. If I had a Trader Joe's store, I would be there every week, I feel like they are losing a lot of business! [That's right, Trader Joe's, you need to expand!!!]
There are so many great food options at this funky, affordable grocery store, both the standard and unique. [Read more about Trader Joe's here!] I always end up buying a ton and stocking up on everything from sauces to coffee, as most everything I've ever tried from there has been delicious!
One of the other things I like about Trader Joe's is their plant and fresh cut flower selection, located right when you come in the doors. There are always so many varieties [even planted cacti and succulents], they always are fresh, and they are also very affordable! I picked up these alstroemeria flowers the last time we visited, and some peonies. The peonies [which are my favorite!] did not fare well and died before even really blooming out. But these alstros are still going strong - and it's been almost 3 weeks! I will definitely be picking this variety up again during the next visit.
One of the best moments of my week is when I finally get a chocolate chip scone with my Baxter's latte. They are flaky, slightly crispy, and well, they are chocolate! But I never snarl at a berry scone, either - it's always my backup!
In a seemingly unrelated moment, imagine my surprise when my Mom informed me that I had a couple of mulberry trees in my backyard. I never knew that all those berries falling off those trees throughout years have been edible! I immediately started harvesting, and then this started happening...
Yes, I went for scones! I am not a baker. Hence buying my scones from the local coffee place on the regular. However, the recipe I chose was decently easy, and did not take long to whip up. They were very good, and they received rave views from family, so I will be making more as the berries keep blooming! Here is the recipe that I used, from The Italian Next Door blog.
I bought this candle just this past weekend at my local Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale. It was only $11, which is a great deal, since their 3 wick candles usually retail for $22. I thought it smelled good just in the jar, but after I lit it ... oh my goodness! It is so amazing! It really does smell like that sweet, delicious aroma of caramel popcorn and funnel cakes. It's very fragrant, but doesn't seem to give me a headache, like sometimes B&B Works candles tend to do. If you can grab one of these before the semi-annual sale ends, then do it! As of posting date, they still have them available online!
10. Serial Podcast
I have gotten into a new habit of listening to podcasts while at work. Since I'm in an office by myself, I can just download some episodes of different podcasts on my iphone, and then play them on blast! If it's something I'm interested in, they can make the time go by much faster, especially when I have monotonous tasks [don't we all have those?]. As I mentioned in late month's favorites, I am really enjoying True Crime Garage. I also began a couple weeks ago listening to the Serial podcast - which, I thought was about true crime, but turns out is actually more like very detailed investigative stories told in serial format.
Season one, which consists of 12 episodes [about an hour each], centered around the alledged murder of Hae Min Lee by her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Season two, however, which I just finished up, moved from "true crime" to a more mysterious, ambigious subject - the Afghanistan disapperance, capture, rescue, and analysis of alleged military defector Bowe Bergdahl. Both seasons, although long and sort of slow paced, are very captivating human interest pieces. Some people may not be into this sort of thing, but I love hearing true stories about people's lives.
If anyone has any other podcasts I need to check out, please let me know in the comments!
I hope you are able to enjoy at least a couple of my faves for yourself. Have you already tried anything on my list? What are you loving this month? Share with us all in the comments!