Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

This is book five in the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer. This series follows a group of brothers (and their friends) who are able to control different elements - air, wind, earth, fire, etc. This book follows my favorite character of the series, Michael Merrick. He's been raising his younger brothers since his parent's accident while he was still a teenager. Different groups have been after their family for their potential to cause destruction, but this time the stakes are even higher. The people after them aren't teenagers messing around - these people are now causing large, deadly explosions to get the Merricks's attentions.

This book gets five out of five stars, and I can't describe how I feel about it any way other than !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Go read it for yourself. :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Things to do with Arizona Guests

We recently had a guest from Michigan (hi Matthias!) come stay with us for a couple of weeks. Below is a list of activities for guests to Arizona. I live in Phoenix so most of the list is based on that. Our guest was also an adult, which is part of the reason I'm making this list - most of the ones I could find online were for kids. You'll notice that super popular attractions (like museums and the botanical gardens) are missing from this list, simply because you can only do so much of those. :) These ideas aim to be more unique.

I'm also noting for which season(s) the activities are appropriate - you don't want to do crazy outdoor activities when there's a heat warning in effect!

Local Outings

Walk along Tempe Town Lake
Cost - free, Seasons - not summer :D

I'm sure other states have more impressive water features, but if you want a quick walk around a beautiful and cultural area, this is a great place! Plus, if your guest plays video games and/or plays Pokemon Go, walk along the south bank to hit a bunch of PokeStops in a row.

View from north of the lake

Pokemon go!

Go Swimming
Cost - free(ish), All year round

This is more of an activity, but I want to put it on your radar. It's one of a few activities you can do regardless of the time of year. Plus, if you or your apartment complex have a pool, it's free! Put together some sandwiches, grab some lemonade, and make a day of it.

Organ Stop Pizza
Cost - $6+, all year round

This one would also fall under the "local eats" category. I feel like this place is often forgotten about - but it's awesome! This pizza restaurant is home to a giant organ. You eat your pizza at cafeteria-style tables all facing the organ player. You can put in requests, or just sit and enjoy the music. There's a bunch of other random additions to the organ as well - lights, bubbles, puppets, and more! If you sit there long enough I can pretty much guarantee that you will hear Phantom of the Opera and quite a few Disney hits. You can check out their website here.

Feed My Starving Children
Cost - free, all year round

I'm not sure I've met anyone who went to Feed My Starving Children and didn't love the experience. If you're not familiar with it, this is an organization that packs meals to be sent to those who need it. You work as an assembly line to pack vitamins, veggies, soy, and rice into a rice-a-roni sort of mixture. You have to sign up ahead of time (see their website here), and it takes about two hours. It's upbeat and high-energy. It is free, but donations are always appreciated.

Changing Hands Bookstore
Cost- free, all year round

This is a great local bookstore that always has a lot of events going on. Check out their website for their upcoming events - maybe you'll find one that's perfect for your guest!

Riparian Preserve
Cost - free, not during the summer days

This is another mini-hike/walk in the Gilbert area. There's a small lake, a couple of trails, and lots of birds! It's a great bit of nature in the middle of the city.

Diamondbacks Game
Cost - $25+, spring-fall (baseball season)

I love going to Diamonbacks games! It's a unique experience, even if your guest has been to baseball games at other stadiums. It's fun to share the ketchup/mustard/relish dash or the giant bobble heads or the taste of a DBacks dog with your guest.

Hot dog and a beer - a baseball classic!

One of the aforementioned giant bobble heads

It has a retractable roof!

Local Eats

Joe's BBQ

This is one of my favorite local restaurants. They make amazing pulled pork with exceptional sides like mac and cheese and baked beans, with lots of other options. They even have home-made root beer. They have indoor and outdoor seating available. If you decide to go you might have better luck going on a weekday - on weekends their line is out the door!

Fractured Prune

This is a unique donut chain that does exist across the US, but of which your guest may not have heard. They make the donuts in front of you, which is always fun. Plus, you know, they're delicious! Their donuts are mostly cake donuts, with fun combinations like OC Sand (honey glaze and cinnamon sugar), strawberry shortcake (strawberry glaze, graham crackers and powdered sugar), and s'mores (marshmallow glaze, graham crackers, chocolate chips).


This is another chain that is great for guests who have never tried Baja Mexican food, like a fish taco or street taco. Pretty much everything on their menu is delicious.

Food Trucks
(Such as Burgers Amore, DGP Fry Bread, more!)
If you manage to track them down, this is another unique-to-the area experience! During the school year they are on ASU's campus on Thursdays from 10:30am-2pm.

Day or Weekend Trips

This is a great day-trip to take and see the red-rocks of Sedona. What you do while there is up to you - there's great hiking, but it's sometimes also fun just to roam the town.

Rock Springs Cafe
This is a crazy delicious pie place about an hour, hour-and-a-half from Phoenix. (They also have great food, like a pulled pork Reuben, but people mostly go there for the pies.) You can pair this outing with a hike at Fossil Springs (use Google to help with this one...) or an evening of stargazing.

Mmmm. Peach crumble a la mode

This is a great day trip with lots of different sights to see. The University of Arizona is there if you want to wander campus or take a tour or try to catch a sports game. There's also a lot of great food in the area. Suggested day trip is below.

Suggested day trip:
Drive to Tucson in the morning, go to The Fix (a Mac and Cheese place)
                           Wander UofA campus
                           Drive up Mount Lemon, get giant cookies The Cookie Cabin
                           Drive down to  Guadalajara Grill for Dinner
                           Go home

The Fix has the best mac and cheese - with lots of gourmet options.

Driving up Mount Lemon

The view from Mount Lemon

The cookies are the size of the plate!!! (at Cookie Cabin)

Grand Canyon
This is a must do for anyone from anywhere. (And if you live in Arizona and haven't been, Go!) My family prefers to approach it from the South Rim, so you get the full "oh-my-gosh-it-looks-like-a-screensaver" experience. Don't hike it if you're out of shape, and be aware of altitude sickness. This one is great to see even just from the top.

From the Grand Canyon it is great to head towards Cameron, if you have time. There's great views of the Grand Canyon from a different angle, and once you get to Cameron you can get a Navajo Taco (and then Indian Fry Bread) at the Trading Post.

En route back from Cameron you can also visit Sunset Crater and other cool historical/geographic sites.

No - pictures cannot do it justice.

Navajo taco!

Fry bread!

Sunset crater

Flagstaff/Northern Arizona
I love Flagstaff - in part because I went to college there. :) Here you can check out the local eats (my favorites are Fratelli's Pizza and The Place) or take a tour of Northern Arizona University's campus. There's also a Lava Tube hike just outside of the city, which is a pretty neat experience.

The food at The Place is soooo gooooood! (And good fuel if you're hiking later on :P)

Lava tubes are best during the summer. This picture was in April, and you can see how much ice is still there! Also, headlamps highly recommended!

Suggested weekend outing:
Friday night, drive up to Dead Horse Ranch state park
Saturday morning, drive to Grand Canyon
                                Drive to Cameron Trading Post for Navajo Tacos for lunch
                                Hit Sunset Crater and different Native American sites on your way back.
                                Dinner at Fratelli's Pizza on Fourth Street
                                Stay the night in Flagstaff
Sunday morning, church at the NAU Newman center
                              Breakfast at Mike and Rhonda's The Place
                              Hike at Lava Tubes
                              Drive home

💗 Annette

6 years ago: Ponderosa Pines
6 years ago: Constellations
6 years ago: Parachutes

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10 Ways to Excersize When It's Arizona Hot

If you didn't already know, I live in Arizona. Which means the temperature has been in the nineties since at least May. But, just because it is crazy hot outside doesn't mean that you're not supposed to keep exercising. So here are 10 ways to exercising when it's Arizona hot outside.

1. Play Just Dance

If you're not familiar with Just Dance, it is a video game where you have to dance to match the on screen character's moves. You are then scored based on how well you matched the moves. This is a personal indoor favorite of mine. You can play it by yourself, or with friends. Don't have a gaming console? Just look up the songs on YouTube. You won't get a score, but you'll still get a great workout.

2. Swim

This is pretty much the only outside activity you can get away with over the summer. Just make sure you keep hydrated and wear lots of sunscreen. And, depending on the day, you might want to do this particular activity after dark.

3. Free dance lessons

A lot of different places offer free dance lessons, usually followed by free dance time (close to the bar, so they can sell alcohol of course. I know in the Phoenix area Moonshine Bar and Grill has two-step nights and Dave and Busters do salsa. You do have to be over 21 for both of these, but if you're old enough, this is a great indoor exercise activity.
4. Go to the Gym

This one is probably pretty obvious, but I figured I'd mention it anyway. The gym offers a place to do a variety of exercises, but in the comfort of air conditioning!
5. Zumba

Or any sort of class. Even if you don't have a gym membership, a lot of community centers offer drop-in classes where you can pay a couple of bucks for each class you attend. This also counts step classes, tae-bo, kickboxing, pilates, etc.
6. Spelunking

Depending on the cave you go to, or hike in, the temperature is likely to be cool year round. I recently tried the lava tube hike up near Flagstaff. It was a lot of fun, but was also pretty difficult if you're out of shape!

7. Play Pokemon Go at an Indoor Mall

If you find the right indoor mall, it's like finding a free indoor track! You don't have to play Pokemon Go, but I find it makes things a little bit more fun. :)
8.Workout games

Basically, like a drinking game, but for workouts. Pinterest can help you find a work out to go with pretty much any one of your favorite TV shows. (Click on image below to get to the original pin.)

9. Basketball, racquetball, etc.

Basically, any indoor sport you can think of. I'm not tall enough (or athletic enough) to play basketball, but there are plenty of other indoor sports to try.
10. Rock climbing
Most rock climbing gyms are indoors and it's a great way to get an upper body (well, all body really) work out. Look for local deals or drop-in specials.

What's your favorite way to work out when it's super hot outside?

💗 Annette

4 years ago - No-Equipment Workout

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Reading Wednesday - Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

This post contains spoilers for the book Breathless, so if you haven't read it yet, go read it. :)

Just like all of the books in the series so far (this is book four), I absolutely loved this one. The main character of this story is Nick, who is an air elemental. He's twins with Gabriel, star of the second book in this series. This story also follows his girlfriend, Quinn.

Nick has a lot to worry about. There are people after his family, his brother's business (which keeps them all afloat) doesn't seem to be doing so well, and he is much more attracted to his girlfriend's male dance partner than he is to his girlfriend. He doesn't want to burden anyone, so he keeps a lot of this a secret. I love how the author has the ability to put you into her character's heads, and I loved watching where the story went.

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