Traveling Arizona: Phoenix, Prescott, & Sedona By Land and By Air

Recently, Mike’s job took him to Arizona for a meeting of the minds and, since I was on Spring Break during that week, I tagged along to get some sun while Rhode Island got hit by its FOURTH Nor’Easter in a row. If you’ve never been to Arizona, I highly recommend this state for domestic travel. This was my 4th or 5th time there, and it’s still one of my favorite states to visit. The weather is always beautiful, the people are so nice, and the landscapes CANNOT be beat.

This trip, I had this pleasure of going to three cities, with some surprises in each! Mike’s meeting was in Prescott, but due to weather, he flew out early and stayed in Phoenix, where the weather was the complete opposite (80’s and sunny). Prescott is 2 hours north, and the weather was still in the 30’s, so I decided to stay in Phoenix an extra day before meeting Mike at night after his meetings the next day. Our original plan was to head to the Grand Canyon, but we decided to head back to Phoenix after the conference, since northern Arizona had forecasted snow, the sole reason I had left Rhode Island in the first place!  Here’s a look at some of the great experiences we had in the West.

Phoenix

I arrived in Phoenix on a Tuesday night, narrowly missing Winter Storm Toby, and was so excited to get to some actual warmth! The very first thing we did when I arrived was run up to the top of the buttes at our hotel, the Marriott Tempe at the Buttes, to check out the sunset. This was just the perfect start to the trip. I love a good hike, and this one was a short (but steep!) intro to the week ahead of me. The view was beautiful! You could see all of downtown Phoenix, and the colors were perfect.

 

That night, we had dinner at the hotel restaurant, Top of the Rock. Some of the best food I’ve had in ages, definitely since moving home from New York. I couldn’t stop eating even though I was full!

Read Dominique M.‘s review of Top of the Rock Restaurant on Yelp

I spent the next day at the pool, studying for midterms and getting some much needed sun. The staff at the pool and at the hotel overall were so accommodating and nice, and I was sad to leave. That said, l hopped on the Arizona Shuttle for Prescott that evening to meet Mike.

Prescott

If were being honest, I had no idea what to expect of Prescott. Being from the Northeast, I had no idea what Prescott even was, or that it existed, until this trip. When I got there, it was dark and Mike was still at work, so I had to do a bit of exploring myself. the city seemed so friendly and safe, and I walked over to a local restaurant for dinner and a drink.

The next day, while Mike worked, I spent the day studying in a local cafe, the Wild Iris. It was such a great place to spend a rainy day working. The space was huge but still cozy, and I ate both breakfast and lunch there while I wrote flash cards and chatted with the staff.

The weather cleared up a bit, and I snapped this picture of their city hall – it was just so quaint in their downtown area and this building really stood out to me.

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The highlight of Prescott, however, was Superstition Meadery. This place was AWESOME. I was browsing a precious gift shop near our hotel and saw an arrow pointing downstairs for mead. Having had no idea what mead was, I strolled down. I honestly felt like I was in a New York lounge, but instead I found myself drinking small batch honey wine in one of the top meaderies in the country. It was so cool!! I tried the Jucius Caesar.

Sedona

After work that night, around 4:30, Mike had a brilliant idea. Let’s drive to Sedona and catch the sunset! he said. Sedona was close to an hour and a half away, but we jumped in the truck and drove out there!

 

What an awesome idea this was!!! We arrived at Little Horse Trail with about 40 minutes until sunset, jumped out, and started hiking (actually, running) up the red rocks. We made it just in time! We got such a cool view of the sunset. Plus, I had never seen red rocks like this, and the landscape absolutely blew me away. Camping trip in Sedona now added to the bucket list!

 

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That night after the hike, we drove back to Phoenix for the last day of our trip. Remember – we were supposed to have gone to the Grand Canyon, but the snow stopped us, so instead… we booked  HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE in Phoenix for early the next morning!!

Phoenix

Hot air ballooning has always been really high on my bucket list. I am so glad that we had this experience! We took our trip through Float Balloon Tours, and I couldn’t have felt more safe. There were close to 20 people in our balloon, and the pilot was great about floating us close to the tops of the hills and bringing us high over the city.

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At the end of the ride, which started at around 5 am, we landed in the middle of the desert, where the balloon crew made us a delicious breakfast that they served with champagne. The crew was so nice and I couldn’t have had a better time with the group on the flight. Highly, highly recommend!

This was such a nice trip and I’m so glad we were able to see so much of this beautiful state. Have you ever been to AZ? How has your experience been?

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Crowdpleaser – Easy Summer Sangria

Guys – it’s coming. Summer is almost here in the Northeast! (Friends in the South, just keep your mouths shut and your Instagrams beach-free for a couple more weeks, ok?) Outdoor get-together season is just around the corner, and for me, nothing is better than a sweet glass of sangria on a warm afternoon.

It’s funny – as a 29 year old who spends most of her day surrounded by classmates in their early 20’s, I hear a lot about weekday afternoon drinking and Senior Spring stories that refer to 2017. Even though my Senior spring was in 2011, I still have such fond memories of all 4 years at Brown spending every afternoon on the Main Green and Lincoln Field with my friends.

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One of my favorite places on Earth, Lincoln Field at Brown University

Some of my favorite afternoons were spent grilling out with our larger group of friends, playing Beerbee and Cornhole, drinking Sangria out of a huge bucket on the lawn. Every time I drink Sangria I think of these carefree times and smile.

This Sangria recipe stayed with me through college and even into my early years in New York City to rooftop parties and to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Now, I’m passing it on to you! It’s been honed and perfected throughout the years, and requires only as much effort as you want to put into cutting up fruit. I recommend oranges, apples, pears, and watermelon – and you can grill some of those pears too for a healthy snack!

Summer Sangria

Photo Credit Lincoln Field Photo Christopher Sewell, whose beautiful photo I found through a Google search.
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Frozen Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Treats Your Pup will Love

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Reese Witherspoon the Dog Princess-ing Out on the Beach

Who else in the Northeast is sick of this winter weather? It’s tough having a pup this time of year, especially one with so much energy.

In our house, we all find it hard to battle the dry skin that comes along with this bitter cold – even Reese! Once the weather started to deteriorate, Reese’s coat got less and less smooth and shiny.  I did some research and found that coconut oil was a healthy treat for pups with benefits that reached far beyond their skin. Then I found these delicious pupper treats that our girl loves. We feed her one every day from a standard ice cube tray — or a fun shape, larger sized treat if she’s been really good!

Frozen Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Treats
1 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup peanut butter (no xylithol!!)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Melt coconut oil and peanut butter over low heat – don’t let the mix boil. Stir well!

Mix in the cinnamon, and continue to stir.

While you pour the mixture into ice cube trays, make sure to keep the liquids well-mixed. Sometimes the peanut butter sinks to the bottom, causing some of the treats to be essentially all peanut butter and others to be mostly coconut oil.

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Freeze and feed to your favorite pup! Don’t forget to check around for the right amount of coconut oil to feed your dog based on size, and to ease them into a diet that includes coconut oil.

*I found this treat recipe on the Golden Barrel website, but I tweaked it a bit myself because I liked the consistency of the treat a bit better, and because our pup gets a lot of peanut butter other places.

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Status: Off Hiatus

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Over the past few months, I’ve discovered something not-so-revolutionary… getting your doctorate is hard!! All the time I had over the summer to craft and blog and run – sucked away and replaced by flash cards and long afternoons at school practicing my newly-acquired physical therapy skills.

That said, I can finally say that I have gotten into the “groove” of grad school. While fall semester felt really long, really overwhelming, and really hard, spring semester has been a welcome turnaround and has left me with some – gasp! – actual free time. I hope to spend some of this hard-earned free time to get back into updating this blog to share my DIY and experiences as I go.

I plan to continue writing about my favorite recipes and my crafts/DIY projects around the house. But, alongside that, I’ll also be writing about my experience planning a wedding because –  I’m engaged! On October 22, 2017, Mike, (my fiance!), took me on what I thought would be a typical boat ride after an 8-hour day painting our deck. (You may recognize that project from My Summer Checklist.) Needless to say, that project did NOT get finished, because that sunset boat ride was actually a grand plan for a proposal! It was a really perfect and sentimental moment.

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Posts Coming Up:
– Deck Project – The Second Summer
– DIY Platform Bed with Storage << that’s right we’re BUILDING A BED!
– Pup Treats for a Birthday Pawty
– Arizona Vacation: Prescott, Sedona, and Phoenix
– Clean, High Protein Breakfasts
– Wedding Planning: So Far

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Halloween – Creepy Home Decor for that Scary Time of Year

There’s something about October that just sparks a little life into the fall season. The weather gets chillier, the coats come out, and everything gets just a little spooky.

It’s also sort of a divisive season. There are Halloween people, and there are not-Halloween people; costume people and the people that hide out to avoid the dress-up madness; the people who hoard their candy all year and the people who gorge that same night.

I am the ultimate Halloween person. Costumes make me so happy and the spooky decorations always crack me up. This year, instead of a small, shared apartment, I have an actual house to decorate! It’s the best. And now I get to share this deco with you!

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This year’s Halloween Centerpiece was inspired by a bouquet of roses that Mike had gotten me for our anniversary in August. Normally, the roses last about 2 weeks before they really start to wilt and harden – and that’s when I start drying them out to jar and preserve them. (Read more about my Jarred Roses here.)

That two weeks puts us mid-September, and two weeks more of drying out brings us to the month of Halloween! I decided it might be a good idea to make them the center of this year’s centerpiece before I jarred them up this time…. and the rest of the display comes from the Target dollar section – aka my favorite store. I think the flowers are just really perfect!

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Behind the centerpiece, hanging over our window, is this Bloody Weapons Garland I found on Amazon that absolutely cracks me up. It’s metallic, and really noticeable from the street, which I also love since our street has high walking traffic. Buy the garland here. 

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Last but not least, Halloween Door Decor. Last year around Halloween I had only been dating Mike for a couple of months. Probably against my better judgement, I bought this Rottingham’s “Dead and Breakfast” sign and decorated his doorway with it along with some cobwebs as a surprise. (I also dressed in a unicorn costume to hand out candy, right down to the blue wig and the rainbow tail, which I don’t regret for one minute. Mike is in the “not a costume guy” group, which makes this more entertaining for the reader.)

The sign had to make an appearance again this year for that reason. However, I cannot stand those cobwebs. They’re annoying to put up, they’re annoying to take down, and they don’t ever seem to stay! That’s why I opted for black creepy cloth this year, and this fun “keep out” tape – also from the Target dollar section!

Halloween has always gotten me so excited. The decorations, the desserts, and the costumes are just so fun. and there’s so much opportunity to tap your creative genius!

Stay tuned in the next few days for two new posts… a Halloween treat for the whole family, and some of my favorite costumes from over the years.

How are you decorating this Halloween? I’d love to see how you’ve done up your home!

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