June 17, 2016

Summertime To-Do's

The longest day of the year is about to happen which means summer has officially arrived. Although I'm in the camp that believes it starts Memorial Day, but whatever. Each year I share our list of to-do's for the summer. I reread last years list and realize I failed at 2 and they are back on the list this year. 

1. Get to Boston. It's our favorite city to visit and we haven't been since we moved to the east coast. We are 3 hours away and we haven't been back - it just seems wrong. Plus, it's Big Papi's last season and it would be fun to get back to Fenway.

2. See some live music (outdoors is preferable.) We don't have any on the list right now for the summer - just one concert in October. I'd like to get to at least one or two shows.

3. Pitch the tent. Even if it's in a backyard, I want to make sure we use our tent again this year. This post is the last time it happened and it's two years old.

4. Hike in NJ. Anywhere really. I just feel like we haven't spent enough time exploring the garden state.

5. Visit a new local brewery. We checked off the Bronx Brewery last week and I remember how much I like trying new beers. Plus, so many locations have food trucks, games and awesome outdoor spaces. Let me know if you have a favorite in the area.

6. Experience one new baseball park. Philly and DC - we are overdue. I'm coming for you.

7. See the National Parks Imax movie on a rainy day. It's a special year for the NPS as it celebrates a milestone birthday. We visited Shenandoah National Park over Memorial Day and since I might not check anymore off my list this summer, I would at least like to check out the movie.

8. Get to Governor's Island for the first time. Yep, still haven't been there.

9. Make a return trip to Steve's Key Lime Pies and share with friends. We visited this place for our birthdays last year with my mom and it did not disappoint, Key Lime is one of my favorites to have in dessert and this place in Red Hook is an institution. Now that I'm thinking about it, I might have to go this weekend.

10. Volunteer. We are officially City Harvest volunteers and want to get a few events on the calendar. Plus, I definitely want to do more beach clean ups throughout the summer.

11. Plan a fall trip.

12. Get rid of more stuff before we move. We are under the three month mark and I'm making Goodwill drop off runs at least twice a month. Moving is a bitch and I don't want to move anything that we won't be keeping at the new place - wherever you are.

Plus all the usual stuff. Phone free days, reading lots of book, continuing our no-waste kitchen goals, exploring with the dogs, exercising. These things don't have a season, they are just always on my list. So what's on your summer list? I hope whatever it is, it includes a lot of days like the one pictured below.

Life According to Steph

June 16, 2016

Filibuster: Not Just a Fun Word to Say


This is how I spent my Wednesday evening. I went online to find some trending hashtags to write a twitter post and I discovered that a huge political moment was happening.


I had to go backwards and do some research while tuning into this. It's been a while since I've studied the different events in the US Government. And yes, I'm a little embarrassed (and excited) about how much I learned.

The google definition of filibuster is an action such as prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures. Last night, this was led by Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut.

I've read about these in the news before. I've read stories of people reading nursery rhymes to take up time and all kinds of ridiculous tactics. But last night was pretty incredible to watch. My laptop was tuned into C-SPAN and Twitter from 5:30 until midnight.

I read so many tweets - some were encouraging, some were hilarious and some were completely off-putting. I felt pride for a few of the senators I have voted for in the past. Hearing these politicians speak and watch them hold the floor is pretty incredible.

These were speeches of passion and desire for change. They discussed lobbyists and the NRA and their impact on some of the people in the room. People were engaged on social media and I know Cory Booker's voicemail was full of people calling in. How often does that happen?

There was a lot of conversation about thoughts & prayers not being enough for these victims. Senator Booker quoted Frederick Douglass at one point saying "I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs." 

Even though the vote didn't happen last night and the change hasn't been made, after spending that time watching these people in action, I felt a little hope. This election has made me sad and a little afraid - people's anger on the internet and their comments so filled with hate and discrimination. A democracy works when there is productive conversation - when both sides of an issue are willing to listen. The news shares images of people punching each other and violent protests breaking out at rallies. That isn't productive.

Last night was a welcomed display of our government in action, people having conversation, people saying things respectfully and factually to get things accomplished. Instead of spending our time on Facebook reposting memes and videos (although I love everything shared from John Oliver), let's have meaningful and productive conversations. Learn the facts, ask the questions. One of my favorite things said last night was that we don't have to be heroes, but we can't be bystanders.

Today, I urge you to contact your state representative and let them know where you stand. Know that you are heard when you reach out to them. Check out the highlights from the speeches last night. So many made me extremely emotional. Hearing a story about a Holocaust survivor that was killed at Virginia Tech and a health aide that died trying to protect a student at Sandy Hook. You can do something today to have your voice heard - even if you disagree with what they are trying to do (although I don't really know how that's possible.)

I don't get preachy here very often, but last night, I finally felt connected to some things happening in Washington and I couldn't sit quietly about it today. I kept thinking about Leslie Knope - I know that seems ridiculous while discussing something so important, but it was just because of her level of excitement about our government. I've been trying to learn more lately and be more informed about history and our past presidents as well as the current process and system. Last night was my first live filibuster viewing and I think that's pretty cool.

On a lighter note, I hate when Netflix judges me for "still watching" but now I have to hear it from C-SPAN too? This happened to me 4 times.

June 15, 2016

Pura Vida: Costa Rica Highlights

Even though it's been four months since our Costa Rica friends trip, the weather here is starting to remind me of those days by the pool or walking on the beach. Summer has arrived and my flamingo can't wait to get back out in the water.

I've shared my recap of senses, shared with you pictures of the house we stayed in, and showed you our favorite beaches here and again here. I finally got all of our video clips together and edited down, so I wanted to finish sharing pics with you on the other highlights of our trip.

Llanos de Cort├ęs Waterfall

Waterfalls are always high on my list when visiting new places. This one was about an hour drive from our house and it was pretty cool to see the cloud forest from the road. You have to pay a few dollars to park when you arrive and the parking lot is sandy and dirty. It's a little surprising when you climb down to the little oasis near the falls. 

The falls were pretty busy when we were there, even though the guide book said weekdays are quiet. We were lucky enough to run into a lady that told us to hike a little ways away from the main falls because there is a hidden pool not more than 100 yards away. We enjoyed that little area all to ourselves.

Serendipity Charters - Playa Flamingo

This was one of trip advisors most recommended tours, so we had to give it a shot. It books up quickly, so I'm happy one of our friends thought to book in advance. We did a half day private tour and it was perfection. There were 8 of us on the boat plus Captain Brad and one helper. He had fishing poles, drinks, food and snorkeling gear. He brought us to a beach area so we could swim and jump off the boat for a while. 

Check out their website for all their different options, but definitely try and make it happen if you're in the area.  Also, I took way more video than photos on the boat, so you'll see it more if you watch the vid.

ATV Tours of the Beach

This was one of our last days and I wish we would have done it sooner. It's one of those activities I wouldn't have ever booked for myself, but I'm not going to pass up a group thing. I was so surprised at how much fun it was. I'm so happy that we did it. We got to see all kinds of wildlife and little towns that we hadn't seen yet on our beach trips. We also took the trails up one of the near hills and got some beautiful views of the ocean. One thing is for sure - you definitely get dirty, but jumping in the ocean and having a cold margarita afterwards made it the perfect way to spend a day.

Pura Vida - A Final Word on Costa Rica

You will see that saying everywhere in the country. It's on bumper stickers, flags, t shirts and artwork. Most of the locals will greet you that way. After spending a week enjoying this beautiful country, it becomes clear that this is their way of life. The simple English translation is "pure life" but it has such a deeper meaning there. It will be hard to find a place in the world with people as friendly as the ones we met there. They are welcoming and helpful and every experience we had was wonderful. I can understand why my dad is ready to pick up and move there. 

Now, if you want more Costa Rica, here is the highlight reel:

Where is your favorite warm weather destination? 

June 13, 2016

Focusing on the Sunshine

This weekend we were home. It was a nice change of pace. We had only fun plans and the weather was perfection. Here are my last 10 iPhone photos to help with a little recap of my weekend.

This little message is painted on the sidewalk near our apartment. I snapped this while walking the pups Friday morning. It's starting to fade a little, but I love it the same.

Working from home with dogs can be a bit noisy or distracting sometimes - they always like to bark loudly while I'm facilitating conference calls. But then there are many moments like this where they just want to quietly sit by you and my heart just melts.

Took a quick screenshot of this book announcement, because I had to inform my other Bravo watching friends. They aren't for everyone, but I find them insanely entertaining and I just might have signed copies of his other two.

Saturday afternoon, we went to a BBQ in our friends' backyard. This is Wally (follow him on Instagram for the cutest pictures and most hilarious hashtags.) We spent hours enjoying the sunshine, occasional breeze, some yard games and good food & drinks.

Our drive home from the BBQ gave us a pretty amazing view of Manhattan. I was in the passenger seat and took this while we were moving. I guess I thought I could get some Instagram worthy picture at this moment, but it's a little blurry and off center - still a beautiful setting.

Sunday AM, Justin went surfing super early and I took my iced coffee out to the pier to enjoy a sunrise. It wasn't quite as good as the one they saw from the beach, but it's nice to have that outdoor space to myself. A quiet sunrise is one of my favorite things - it helps reset, find peace and gratitude, plus your whole day is more enjoyable when you are up with the sun.

Once I came inside from the pier, I just sat on the couch and read for a few hours. The morning light in our apartment is one of my favorite things.

Sunday afternoon consisted of some exploration to some parts of the city that we don't visit too often. We are beginning our hunt for our next home and we want to make sure we are informed about options. We tried out the Bronx Brewery in SoBro. The brewery was hosting some crossfit competitions while we were there, so we sat in the sunshine, drank beers and watched a bunch of super strong people jump and lift big things over their heads. It was kind of like cheering on a marathon runner, but enough that both of us agreed that it probably wasn't our thing.

Our other stop of the day was the northern part of Manhattan called Inwood Hills. We enjoyed some awesome food at Park View Cafe and then just wandered the streets a little bit taking it all in.

New York City is big. To actually explore and spend time in all the neighborhoods would be a lifelong journey especially because of how quickly things change. I'm really looking forward to our weekend adventures this summer that lead us to new streets, parks, restaurants and areas than any we've previously explored.

I was lucky enough to be filled with lots of positive communities and people this weekend - sharing love and time together. After waking up to the horrible news about Orlando on Sunday, it feels wrong to talk about a weekend filled with sunshine, but I have to focus on love and light. We all do.

Linking up with Biana finally :)

June 10, 2016

How's It Going?

Friday has arrived. I'm blurting today.

I have so many things I want to share on the blog and NONE of them are SEO or traffic driven (although I have a post about what has happened to blogging that is in the draft folder.) I want to share my NOLA trip, our birthday weekend in Virginia and lots fun NYC things because I can do whatever I want here. Stay tuned for all these fun things:

This tweet has kicked off the beginning of the general election season. Looks like it will be like watching Celebrity Apprentice... eff. Don't worry, he also responded back to her - because Twitter arguments are for mature adults and wannabe leaders of the United States. Insert {face palm emoji} here.

If it's all becoming too much, go follow this hilarious Donny Trump account on Twitter and play my game of trying to figure out if it's the actual Donald or this guy when you first read the tweet. It's harder than you think it would be. Also, @pimpbillclinton is hilarious (aka Netflix and Bill.)

Do you follow our videos on youtube? I do those quarterly recaps and I never posted my winter video here. Click here to subscribe so you don't miss any that I forget to post on the blog in the future.

I hope all of you have a comfort zone like Quincy does. I snapped my airline pillow around his neck the other night while he was looking for a spot to lay down. 20 minutes, I came into the living room to find this:

Sorry, it's a little like dog porn, but seriously - this is his life.

I'm so excited that the weekend is almost here. It's our first weekend home in quite some time. I'm hoping for donuts, Sunday strolling, a BBQ with friends and book reading.

Also, wishing a very happy birthday to the only friend I know that references Unicorns and Flamingos in every conversation.

The title of this? I'm genuinely curious how everyone is feeling today? Are you even still reading? Will most of you skip commenting below? If I would have typed different words meaning vagina throughout this post, would you have noticed? Tell me - HOW ARE YOU and what are you doing this weekend?