New Blog Launch – A Huge Thank You to Everyone!

gutsygirlnewI’ve never been so focused and inspired to move towards a single life path as I am right now. Right now being the past 5 months that I’ve created Gutsy Girl Wellness. And everyone who knows me well understands that this is a crazy, impossible feat- after all, I was the girl who changed life dreams every few months for several years straight. I went through 5 majors in college!

But now I have a strange sense of calm. Even though most people around me don’t understand exactly what I’m trying to do with my life, I still know that I have to keep doing it. This path that I’m walking along feels right to my heart and intuition, so I can’t stop now.

But the day has finally come for this specific blog to end. It’s not a sad ending like it sounds, but a fresh, bright beginning. As of today, I’ve officially launched my new website with a slightly new name & focus- Gutsy Girl Living. I’ve found enough courage and inspiration to slowly take this to the next level, from hobby to business.

I want to thank all of you who’ve started reading Gutsy Girl Wellness since it was formed this summer. You’ve given me the support and confidence to keep writing and creating, week after week. It’s often hard to keep going in the beginning stages of a project. You get sad if you don’t receive any comments on a post, or if nobody is engaging the way you’d hope for them to. It’s easy to say that I’ve already learned a bazillion lessons in vulnerability and motivation.

But it’s truly been a great experience so far, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. I hope you’ll join me again over on my new & improved blog from now on! I have an awesome (and free!) digital workbook available for subscribers to the new website. Head on over! 🙂

So, cheers to new beginnings and opportunities! To celebrate, I’ll be posting over on Gutsy Girl Living for the next five days straight, including a giveaway post starting tomorrow. Now get your butt over there to learn more about my new blog and to win yourself a gift!

Check out my first official post on my new website: Blog Launch – Gutsy Girl Living is Now Here!

Sending you happiness,

xo Caylee

45-Minute Yoga Playlist for Eclectic Tastes

yogaplaylist

Why, hello there! I created this mini post so that you all might start the week off more beautifully. Yes, Mondays can suck, but I promise they’ll be much better if you get in the right mindset. So how can you do that? One sentence- practice yoga to this playlist. It’s about 45 minutes of bliss from the indie and classic rock genres.

I crafted this musical list so that it’ll start out calmly to match your soothing warm-up stretches. As your body is building in heat from more challenging asanas, the playlist will also build in tempo and emotion. Finally, you can relax into a few peaceful songs just in time for a meditative Savasana (Corpse Pose) and the ending of your yoga practice.

I hope you find my musical choices to be emotive and inspiring during your home yoga session. I know that when I listened to them I felt like my heart was about to burst out of my chest. But even if you don’t do yoga, it’s a wonderful playlist to help recharge your soul. Enjoy!

TIP: You can, of course, listen to the songs though this YouTube playlist that I created, but I would recommend that you separately download the ones you emotionally connect with. There’s nothing worse than getting disrupted by an annoying YouTube advertisement during yoga or meditation!

 

Do you have any song recommendations for future yoga playlists? I would love to hear more about your preferences during yoga and mediation, so please comment below. Also, look out for a special, soul-focused post dropping this Thursday! 🙂

Have a wonderful day,

xo Caylee

 

Easy Lifestyle Changes to Achieve Physical Wellness

physical wellness

Hey guys! Thanks for checking out my sixth post in the How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series. For the first time in years, I feel strong. My body doesn’t feel brittle or achy or finicky like it has in the time since graduating from college. I can lift heavy things with ease, and I don’t get out of breath easily. Since noticing the gradual physical changes in myself, I’ve been in complete wonder about how amazing the human body can be. It has so much more power and ability than I ever imagined. And that brings me to my point- too many of us have gotten used to feeling sluggish and weak as the new normal.

It’s so easy to feel that way. It’s more simple to just relax on the couch after work or eat a huge helping of that delicious, cheesy lasagna. I know. Like I said, even I felt physically “blah” until fairly recently when I started changing up my habits. Improving upon habits is really what it’s all about. It won’t matter much to your physical well-being if you convince yourself, only once, to exercise in the morning. Same with eating healthily- sandwiching two healthy dinners between fifty unhealthy ones won’t really make a difference. And no gimmicky fad diets! It’s about changing your long-term, day-to-day habits.

 

From my experience, here are some easy tips and recommendations to achieve physical wellness through healthier eating and fitness:

  • Eat until you feel comfortable, not until you’re full. It takes the brain about 20 minutes from when you begin eating to register that there’s food in the stomach, so you’ll keep thinking you’re starving when really the brain just hasn’t had time to process the meal yet. So don’t shovel your food down! You’ll be incredibly stuffed and have an unnecessary amount of calories in your body. Just take your time, and slowly enjoy the taste of your meal.
  • Frozen grapes are an awesome alternative to normal dessert. Trust me, I’m quite the fan of cupcakes and donuts, but having one of those everyday just won’t work for the average person wanting to stay in shape. I don’t believe we should ignore our sweet tooth though- that’s just setting ourselves up for failure. Instead, for those of you wanting to watch your diet, try freezing seedless grapes! There’s nothing added to them, but the grapes taste like a fun, bite-sized sorbet.
  • Drink lots of water and then drink even more. It’s estimated that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Humans need a lot of water to keep their body functioning properly, and most people only drink a couple of cups per day. We need at least eight! When you have a headache or feel drained, it’s most commonly due to dehydration. So what do you do if you’re not a fan of the taste of water? Try flavoring it with things like lemon, mint, or cucumbers!
  • Try almond milk instead of regular milk. If you’re not sensitive to dairy (aka lactose intolerant), congratulations! You’re basically the only person in the entire world who isn’t. Sorry to put this out there, but if your stomach hurts or you have to go to the bathroom quickly after meals, you’ve got a problem. Notice if there’s dairy in what you’re eating/ drinking. More likely than not, you’ve been consuming milk all throughout your life and never considered that it could be the thing causing you discomfort. Try almond milk instead- Almond Breeze (original; unsweetened) is my recommendation. I use it in all recipes instead of regular milk, and it tastes delicious!
  • Go to yoga. My boyfriend and I have been going to yoga two to three times per week, and that’s been my main source of exercise lately. I know a lot of people who do yoga as cross-training when they’re not jogging or biking though. Some of Stefan’s guy friends have been making fun of him for going to yoga classes and make it seem like some effortless activity for weaklings. All I have to say is- go to Power Yoga, Vinyasa, or an Astanga class, and then come back to tell me you didn’t sweat and your muscles didn’t burn. Didn’t think so! My body has felt more strong and powerful than ever because of yoga. I can do crazy stretches, headstands, and handstands that require core and arm strength that I never knew I could have. But the best part is the mental and physical rejuvenation you gain after going to class. My body feels free and bendy, and my mind got time to focus on nothing but the depth of my breath and the sensations of my body. Ommm.
  • Eat out at restaurants less. This one makes me sad, but it’s true. Restaurants pack our food with so much butter and salt that it’s insane. Food tastes more delicious that way! But if you’d like to live healthier, cooking your own nutritious meals at home is the best option. This way, you can control what ingredients go into your dishes.
  • Go for smaller portions. I know all of these tips sound so common sense, but you don’t know how many people I hear complaining about their weight and then heap a gigantic dinner portion onto their plate. It really is simple. We have to be aware of what’s going into our bodies. When I go out to dinner, for example, I know from the get go that I’m only going to eat half of what’s on the plate. I’ll literally half it, and enjoy that portion of the meal. The other half won’t even be considered- it will go home with me as my lunch for the next day. Simple as that, and the same goes for when you cook at home. So if the “eat until you’re comfortable” method is too relaxed for you, go for this half and half method!
  • Find a physical activity that you love. Explore different fitness classes and try out a variety of workout methods to discover what works best for you. Decide if you like working out alone, in small groups, or with a large class. Do you prefer hardcore, bootcamp style workouts or sassy dance classes with Latin music? Would you rather sweat with cardio or build up muscle? Have fun exploring your options, and decide to make fitness a social event that will keep you wanting to go exercise!

 

When it comes to physical wellness, I’ve found that you just need to listen to what your body wants and needs. It is naturally intuitive and will tell you exactly what’s best for it if you really listen deep down. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You can handle so much more than you give yourself credit for. You can learn to do handstands or splits or compete in triathlons or run a marathon. All that’s necessary is putting in the day-to-day work by improving health habits and gradually getting better until you reach your physical wellness goal.

rum

 

On that note, here’s my physical wellness goal: I would like to run my first 5k before March 1st… and I’ll work up from there. Now this may seem like a simple goal to all of you cardio fiends and marathon runners out there- but for me, it’s big. I don’t run, like ever. I’ve tried to jog a few times, and I think it’s the worst thing on earth. BUT I just read an article about how people who run half marathons and full marathons make more money in business, because you build the similar skills needed for endurance running as you do in entrepreneurship. So I’m going to see if I have what it takes to become a runner- a huge personal challenge if I say so myself! 🙂

What habits do you need to change in order to improve your physical wellness? Do you have any other tips for us? Please share in the comments below!

Have a great rest of the week,

xo Caylee

 

10 Online Resources to Improve Intellectual Wellness

intellectual wellness

Hey everyone! This week, as Part Four of the How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series, I’ll be talking about my favorite topic- intellectual wellness! I am a curious, researcher type by nature and just love to learn new skills, debate ideas, and take on big challenges. And that’s what intellectual wellness is all about! By being healthy in this area of life, you will expand your knowledge base and nourish your creativity. This makes all areas of life more deep and vibrant!

Lately, almost all of my time has been devoted to learning how to blog, growing in my yoga practice, and creating intuitive paintings. I guess I’m a bit lopsided by working on my intellectual wellness too much and should focus more on other areas- spiritual and social wellness. But what if you’re feeling the itch to add more mental stimulation to your life? Explore these free and amazing learning resources:

1. Learn to meditate. Curious about adding meditation to your life, but have no clue how to do it alone? Try out the Headspace app (on your phone or computer) and learn how to meditate. The app will guide you through ten different meditations, and you’ll find your mind much clearer by the end of the experience!

2. Learn time management. Try using the Pomodoro Technique in order to better your time management skills. Keeping track of “to-do” list items and being able to manage distractions are very important signs of intellectual wellness that Pomodoro can help you improve upon.

3. Learn about your inner artist. Check out this free, creative workshop video series called Total Alignment where you learn how to connect your mind-body-soul with your inner creativity through painting. What could sound any more amazing to me?! Even if you feel like you’re not artsy, or you’ve never painted before in your life, this is for you. It’s a series to explore your heart and have fun making things!

4. Learn about money. Learn something new about stocks and investing! Sounds boring, but stay with me… I found the MOST AWESOME way to teach you the basics- behold An Illustrated Guide to Investment Types based off of Arrested Development cartoons!!! Check out the rest of Listen Money Matters to learn more about personal finance in simple ways.

5. Learn a new language. Want to learn languages fo’ free in a super fun way? Duolingo is all that you need in this world. It offers 8 common languages right now and teaches you in a way that feels just like a game. I’ve started on the Spanish and German classes, and it’s truly addictive- I just want to earn more grammar trophies!!!

6. Learn tons of creative skills. CreativeLive is basically my favorite thing on the interwebz. They bring in top experts in all creative industries to present live video workshops to all of us (for free!) with multiple courses running 24-hours a day. Each workshop is usually a few days long, so I tune in whenever I eat lunch or have some free time. Then, CreativeLive continues running old workshops, so you can catch anything you’ve missed. Learning awesome skills all day, everyday? Just my type of website! Some topics I’ve watched recently are: “Build Your Influence, Build Your Business,” “The Right-Brain Business Plan,” and “Food Photography & Styling.”

7. Learn how to code. We’re in the 21st century, guys, and computers aren’t going away. Tech jobs are on fire right now, and you don’t even need a computer science degree to land a position- just awesome coding skills. So where can you start learning? Codecademy. It offers an interactive, easy-to-learn style with several coding language options. Even if you don’t want a job in the tech field, Codecademy is a great way to stretch your brain!

8. Learn about achieving your goals. Everyone needs some career advice and a motivational push every now and then. Marie Forleo was that person who inspired me to get into this line of work a few months ago on her popular, online show called MarieTV. Every week, she gives quirky but relatable life advice on topics such as: Thank You For Not Believing in Me and The Mental Exercise That Can Turn Wishes Into Reality. She also does awesome interviews with expert guests that you should check out if you’re needing some positivity in your day!

9. Learn yoga poses. If I haven’t jabbered about it enough for you to guess, yoga is one of my favorite activities to do on a regular basis. What many people who’ve never tried it don’t realize is that it’s a full mind-body-soul experience. I would definitely recommend trying Do You Yoga to learn how to do many different yoga poses and sequences at home. All you need is a yoga mat (or even a rug) and comfy clothes to do it anywhere and reap the amazing benefits!

10. Learn about academic topics. Coursera is a phenomenal learning resource that partners up with 114 different academic institutions, including Harvard, Duke, Berklee College of Music, and University of Virginia, to offer real, online classes for free. How cool is that?! There are over 800 different course options- Intro to Sustainable Development, Calculus 1, Introduction to Music Production, and much more. The world is at your fingertips on Coursera… learn it up!

BONUS Intellectual Wellness Tip: Keep reading my blog! 😉

So which of these resources do you think would be the most fun to get involved with? Which ones pique your curiosity and get your brain juices flowing?

I hope that you’ve found my post to be intellectually inspiring! If so, please “like” and share it with any of your friends who would love to read it too!

Have fun learning,

xo Caylee

Algae & Exercise – the Perfect Match?

energybits2

Just from one glance at the post title, I’m sure you’re all just dying to add some of that primordial, green slime to your workout routine, right? Oh, you’re not? Well, I was approached by a fitness fuel company called ENERGYbits last month, and they offered to let me try a free sample of their product that’s popular with Olympians and other top athletes who want to improve their performance. It’s organic Spirulina algae that comes in tab form! Luckily, the ENERGYbits are easy to take, just like a pill, and not slimy at all. 😉

Here’s why I couldn’t resist trying this interesting new product. Keep reading for a special discount!

First. Consuming strange, internationally popular foods is somewhat of a hobby for me. Cow tongue? Surprisingly delicious. Jellyfish salad? So refreshing. But algae tabs? They’re an easy sell in comparison to the other foods I’ve loved.

  • Japan already consumes billions of dollars worth of algae every year, and they’re known to have some of the longest lived people in the world.
  • Algae packs in the largest amount of edible protein of any food out there- 3x more than steak!
  • The algae in ENERGYbits is actually grown and harvested, not created in a lab! I wonder what an algae farm looks like…

Second. I haven’t had as many nutrients in my diet lately as I should. Since I’ve been on the road away from home for the past two months, I haven’t gotten to cook my own food at all. I’ve been trying to eat dinner out as healthily as possible, but sometimes it’s so difficult! I needed something easy to consume, like algae, to restart my health and get some more vitamins and minerals into my body- of which ENERGYbits have 40 different types! Say what!?

  • ENERGYbits have a crazy amount of antioxidants and B vitamins, such as Riboflavin and Thiamin. To get an equivalent amount of vitamins you’d have to eat 25 bananas and close to a pound of cheese. I’ll pass on that.
  • According to NASA, “1 gram of algae has the nutritional value of 1,000 grams of fruits an vegetables.” Huh? I’m sold. It’s much easier to pop some 100% natural algae tablets than to eat a wheelbarrow full of broccoli.
  • Luckily, I don’t have any big food restrictions, but these tabs are great for anyone who does! They’re vegan, raw, non-GMO, and kosher.

Third. Most importantly, I have major problems with fatigue. I’ve never been able to figure out if the cause is anemia, low-grade depression, eating the wrong foods for my body, or even poor blood circulation. I’ve been to the doctor to try and get it all sorted out, but no answers are ever found. On that note, I’ve fallen out of shape lately, because I wasn’t making fitness a top priority in my life. So I decided to set an ambitious fitness goal for myself. I wanted to be able to do all of the crazy yoga inversions that I always marveled at on Instagram- headstand, handstand, chin stand, side crow. The problem is that being able to get into these yoga poses (and stay in them!) takes some intense core muscles, in addition to arm strength. I ended up joining the Invert Your Life Challenge, which taught me how to do yoga inversions properly. I also started doing (almost) daily PiYO workouts at home, which was part cardio, part Pilates and yoga muscle toning/ stretching. The problem is, staying in shape requires that a lot of energy be expended that I just don’t feel like I can give due to my constant fatigue. ENERGYbits saves the day!

  • The fact that algae is a complete protein means that the body absorbs it easily, so you get the perfect flow of energy without the jitters of coffee or energy shots. I actually have a history of getting into emotional meltdowns from consuming energy drinks- like literal temper tantrums. The intense rush of caffeine and then the terrible crash does not do my body, or emotions, any good. I avoid any type of energy drink now, but I don’t have to avoid ENERGYbits! They provide a steady input of energy without any caffeine or other unnatural additives.
  • I took ENERGYbits before several of my PiYO workouts and, to my surprise, noticed that I wasn’t feeling completely exhausted after the intense cardio and muscle-toning sessions. I honestly felt great- like I could keep going with even more exercise! If you knew how I felt after most workouts in my life, you’d know that this energy within me was not a common feeling. Normally, I’d just want to lay down and die. Or perhaps eat a tub of ice cream and then die. My legs are usually shaking and spent, and I’m not in the mood to go out and do anything afterwards. But after taking the algae tabs, I felt amazing and like my day was just beginning.

inversion

So what do you think? Do you think ENERGYbits are something you would try in order to make your workouts easier, or even to add more nutrients into your diet?

If you’d like to try this awesome new product, I was lucky enough to be given a discount code for you all to use on the ENERGYbits website: Enter the word “BLOG” into the coupon box at checkout to receive a 10% discount.

I hope you all enjoyed my first product review! Just so that you know, I wasn’t paid to do this or obligated in anyway, but I just felt like it’s a great new “food” that you all would benefit from as much as I did! 😀

Hope you have a wonderful week,

xo Caylee

What to Do When You’re Feeling Uninspired

world inspiration

For the past couple months since creating this blog, I’ve written all of my posts in a flurry of excitement and creative energy, unable to fall asleep until I finish typing the very last sentence at around 2:00 AM. But this is not one of those nights, and it frightens me. On this night, my mind is blank, and I feel completely blah. I’m sure I’ll still be up until the wee hours of the morning, but it will be for a very different reason. I’ll be trying to get my idea mojo back.

Feeling uninspired is incredibly common in creative communities, but that doesn’t make the experience any less panic-inducing. And even if you aren’t an artsy type or working in a creative industry, we all have those moments in life where everything fades to gray. We can’t help but think, “How long will I feel like this? What if I never think up a great idea again? I don’t want to be boring and unoriginal.” Trust me, I’m right there with ya! So what should you do when your creative juices stop flowing momentarily? Here are five of my favorite inspiration sources that I’ll be using to get out of this rut:

1. Listen to a few uplifting TED Talks.

I’m basically obsessed with TED [Technology, Entertainment, & Design]. Where else can you find hours upon hours of inspirational, mind-expanding speeches that simultaneously warm the heart and make you feel like an engaged, global citizen? Yes, you will need to dedicate about 20 minutes of your time per TED Talk, but you’ll usually gain so much in return. These filmed speeches have allowed me to discover some of my favorite authors, have given me amazing new insights into the human experience, and have pushed me to want to jump up and make changes in my life. I’d call that getting out of a rut! Though you should definitely check out your own topics of interest, here are a few Talks that have influenced me the most:

2. Create something using a different medium than you’re used to.

Step outside of your normal comfort zone to create something new and exciting. It probably won’t be a masterpiece, as it’s not in your area of expertise, so don’t concentrate on trying to create perfection. You just want it to be fresh and not the same old stuff. If you’re into writing, try making a short film on your point-and-shoot camera instead. Enjoy playing guitar? Try writing your own song lyrics about something you’re going through right now. Love coming up with vegan dinner recipes? Figure out how to make the most delicious breakfast smoothie your taste buds have ever experienced instead. Is your favorite hobby wakeboarding? Try kiteboarding for a different take on a similar sport. You get my point. After trying out a new medium, you’ll likely have refreshed excitement for your creative outlet of choice and plenty of new ideas to keep you going for a while.

3. Give your brain some time to relax.

Sometimes feeling uninspired is just your subconscious’s way of screaming, “I NEED A DAMN BREAK.” We live in such a fast-paced, information overloaded society that our minds eventually have a way of overheating and crashing. It shouldn’t be a shock that our brains need a breath of fresh air sometimes. If you feel like this is part of your problem, go on a mini digital detox. As soon as you get home from work, turn off the social media apps on your phone, and keep the TV off and the computer closed. I know this sounds incredibly difficult, because we’re all so connected to our various devices these days. But we all need a break. So what do you do once the house is still and silent except for those pesky cricket chirps? As they like to say in one of my favorite TV shows, (Yes, I’ll have to shut off Parks & Recreation too) – “Treat yo self!”

treat-yo-self

I’m not personally into retail therapy, but I do believe we all need to treat ourselves to a day of relaxation when we’re feeling burnt out. So do whatever that means for you! A long walk in a park? Treat yo self! Chat with your best friend over coffee? Treat yo self! A candlelit bubble bath? Treat yo self! Whatever it is, make it a time to enjoy life and to disconnect from the information overload that’s clouding your mind.

4. Free write or journal.

This one is simple- just write. Don’t try and make it sound pretty or have a cohesive story line. In fact, if it doesn’t read like the ramblings of a madman, then you’re doing it wrong! Grab a pencil and a pad of paper, and literally start writing about the very first thing that pops into your head. It could be about anything from the lunch you ate that day to the way your coworker pissed you off in a meeting last week. Just write anything about it! The instant that a new idea string materializes in your brain, feel free to go off writing on that tangent. Be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you’d like. The point is to write without barriers, and let your subconscious take over with what it wants to say. You might form with a new idea based off of your ramblings, or perhaps you’ll end up seeing a problem from a different perspective that your conscious mind wouldn’t allow you to see.

5. Begin a passion-filled quest with clear parameters.

If the above inspiration sources aren’t drastic enough for you, maybe it’s time for you to pull out the big guns and start on your own quest. This idea was a major inspiration for me after I watched this interview with two of my favorites, Chris Guillebeau and Marie Forleo. In the talk, Chris discusses topics from his new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, which goes into how quests can play an important role in creating happiness in our lives. You’ll get much more from watching the interview, but basically, I want to ask: What creative quest can you start yourself on today that will provide you with more meaning and purpose in your day-to-day life?

This quest needs a start and end date with clear goals and parameters. It also needs to be a challenge for you, so that you’ll be pushing yourself to grow. For instance, a quest shouldn’t be, “I want to visit a lot of countries.” Instead, it should be, “I want to visit 100 countries before my 40th birthday.” That’s a clear, measurable goal. But a quest doesn’t have to be as big or expensive as traveling all over the world! It could be, “I will learn 1,000 songs on my ukulele and post a recording of each one online before January 1st, 2020.” Whatever floats your boat! The point of this being a great source of inspiration is that if you dedicate yourself to a quest based on your passions, then you’ll be held accountable to keep creating even in your most blah moments. Sometimes, all we need is a little push and a goal to focus our efforts on.

I hope that you’ll find your creative juices replenished after trying some, or all, of these inspiration building activities! I know that I’m feeling super pumped up after writing this, so maybe that’s all I needed. And if that’s not enough, I get to meet Chris Guillebeau tonight while he’s in Atlanta! So excited to ask him a million questions about quests! Anyway, please let me know how you refresh your brain when dealing with a creative block. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. 🙂

Have a wonderful day,

xo Caylee

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me – Blog Tag

As a fun Friday post, I want to share some silly facts about myself for you all who might not know me well yet. This blog post is a part of the “20 Things You Might Not Know About Me” Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community with other bloggers in order to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here.

Question 1: How tall are you?

What you can’t tell from pictures on my blog is that I’m super short- Only 5’1.” Basically everyone is taller than me!

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

Ice-skating! I used to be a competitive figure skater for a few years, but nobody really knows about that because I quit when I was only 11 years old. I can still do spins and such though!

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

I get offended when bloggers don’t respond back to the kind comments people leave them on their website. Unless you’re Barack Obama or Beyonce, you got time to show some love back to your followers! Am I right? *sassiness over*

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

People who talk during movies.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

My favorite song in the history of the world is “Heartbeats” by The Knife.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop?

Elise Mahan Fine Art has really cool art prints. She has the most unique style that really speaks to me. I have three of Elise’s pieces.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone? 

I, of course, love to read blogs and books. And I also enjoy playing my ukulele to clear my mind.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

I don’t really like typical junk foods, but I am a huge lover of bacon and doughnuts. So there’s that.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

I love dogs, but I don’t have any of my own pets currently. I travel too much. 😦

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

What counts as a favorite book to a book lover? Is it the ones that make me feel the most? Or the ones that fill my heart the most? Because “Wild”, by Cheryl Strayed, made me cry more than any book ever in the very first chapter. But as for the books that have captured my heart and imagination, it would be these:

Nonfiction: “The Blue Zones” or “Blink”

Fiction: “The Shadow of the Wind” or, to be basic but honest, my childhood love, the Harry Potter series 🙂

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product? 

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

Not so much embarrassed, but more awkward feeling. I was alone on my road trip up the East Coast a few weeks ago and stopped to eat at this super nice, trendy restaurant in Raleigh. Everyone was there with big groups of colleagues or friends, and here I am all by myself at a dinner table looking all lonely. People kept coming up to me asking why I was there alone and trying to make conversation with me, like they felt bad for me! It made me feel super awkward! But the dinner ended up being one of the best I’ve ever had, and the restaurant owner gave me a big, free desert for being a trooper.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Honest Tea. Refreshing and not too sweet!

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

Who can pick?? I’m much more of a TV series person- I get into dramas like Breaking Bad and Dexter. But my weirdest love, and they’re really my favorite, are Korean romance dramas. I recommend, in this order: Rooftop Prince, Love Rain, Boys Over Flowers, Dream High, and 49 Days. So emotional and addicting!!! Trust me on this!

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

I think I was a combination of many of those. I hung out with band kids, I was on the dance team, but I was also artsy in my free time and did well in all of my classes… I guess I was well rounded!

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I would love to live in New Zealand! Or my favorite place on the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica 🙂

Question 17: PC or Mac?

Only PCs for me!

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My boyfriend Stefan surprised me with doughnuts when he came home last week. It was love.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Louis CK always makes me laugh; Robert Downy Jr. always makes me swoon

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

There are so many bloggers that I love- But I think April Bowles Olin, Mayi Carles, and I would make a crazy trio! 🙂

 

And that’s it for my fun facts! I’m going to tag three bloggers that I’d love to know more about: Julie from Girl On the Move, Gina Alyse at Creative Callings, and Liz from Liz and Lifestyle. Please feel free to participate and answer these twenty questions on your own blog, or not! It won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t. 🙂 Hope you all have an amazing weekend!

xo Caylee

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The Gutsy Girl Road Trip Awards

Another startlingly fast year has passed, and another wonderful road trip is almost over. It’s been great seeing old friends and getting to connect with family from all over the East Coast again. I was lucky to be joined by my boyfriend during one leg of the trip from Washington, DC to Long Island, NY and by my Dad from Long Island to Upstate New York. Blog post about that coming soon!

Over my weeks on the road, I’ve loved experiencing beautiful mountain vistas, driving through crumbling ghost towns, feeling the sand between my toes, and exploring some of the coolest towns in America. Now deemed my Gutsy Girl Road Trip Awards, here are several moments and places that stood out most to me during my adventure.

Favorite Atmosphere to Grab a Drink with Girl Friends:
Ambar Washington, DC [Eastern Market]

Two DC friends and I stumbled across this charming bar & restaurant as we walked through the neighborhood of Eastern Market. If you’re into adorable row homes and visiting a quieter side of Washington DC, check out this area that boasts a bustling market and tasty restaurants, like Ambar, which serves Balkan cuisine with a modern twist. It’s like any trendy restaurant when you first walk in, but go up the stairs and you’ll find a cute, rooftop oasis to enjoy appetizers and drinks with the girls. My friends and I shared a few tasty small plates, and I had a delicious margarita- you can pick from original or spicy mango. How about both? Try Ambar at Happy Hour like we did for some unheard of specials in the DC area. I promise you- $4 cocktails and appetizers. How is that even possible?!

ambardc1

Most Exciting Purchase:
Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square – New York, NY [Manhattan]

When my boyfriend, Stefan, and I decided to stay in Manhattan for the night, I was expecting our hotel room to be the most expensive purchase of my entire road trip. I was so wrong about that! Through Hotwire, we ended up scoring a room for $146, all inclusive. Amazing! Though that still may seem pricey to some, you won’t find a decent hotel for much less than that in the city. But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet. I was under the impression that $146 would get us a dingy room facing rooftop air-conditioning units. So wrong. Stefan and I were placed on the 33rd floor with a corner room facing the Chrysler building on one window-wall and Times Square on the other. One block from all the action! It was stunning, and we had a blast that evening.

timessquare

Best Area to Find Funky Treasures:
The beaches of Great Peconic Bay – North Fork, Long Island, NY

If you’re a lover of the beach and finding interesting treasures, visit the areas around Great Peconic Bay where there’s a smattering of quaint towns around the bay and its smaller inlets on the North Fork of Long Island. Take to the beaches and you’ll find everything from sea creatures to beautiful rounded stones to antique sea glass that’s finally floated up onto the beach after several decades. The picture below documents some of the goodies that Stefan and I came across after just one hour of walking around searching the sand. I can’t wait to turn the sea glass and little stones into a pretty display back home!

aquebogue

Prettiest Secret Place:
Conservatory Garden in Central Park – New York, NY [Manhattan]

Okay, I’ll admit that the Conservatory Garden isn’t actually a secret. It’s right in Central Park! But you’d never know it. There’s only one entrance to it through a gate on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so the garden is pretty easy to miss. If you’re a flower-loving visitor to NYC, or a resident who needs some quiet time, this is the place to go. I was there at 10:30 AM on a Wednesday, and there was only a tiny handful of people in all the acres of botanical beauty. You’ll find a giant Wisteria pergola with views of the fountain, tree-covered walkways out of a fairy tale, and my favorite space- an expansive flower garden. I loved relaxing around all of the bursting wildflowers and the waterlilies in the pond. It was such a stunning, peaceful place that you’d never know you’re in the middle of New York City.

conservatorygarden

Most Picturesque Town:
The streets of Old Town – Alexandria, VA

Old Town Alexandria feels so American that it’s actually hard to describe. The hilly, cobblestone streets, history-drenched row homes, and flags flapping proudly in the river breeze just oozes pure Americana. Check out the waterfront area and King Street of Old Town next time you’re in the Washington DC area, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants and boutiques to keep you going as you admire all of the charming, colonial buildings.

oldtownalexandria

Tastiest Food & Greatest Value:
Sake Bar Hagi in the Times Square area – New York, NY [Manhattan]

This place might be my new favorite restaurant in the entire world. I know that’s a bold statement to make, but everything about the experience was fantastic. It took Stefan and I a while to find the entrance, which was part of the adventure, because there’s no sign for Saki Bar Hagi- just a random stairwell leading you down off the street. Imagine a restaurant with no sign in the Times Square area! It’s pretty clear that they don’t want loads of tourist crowds in their restaurant. And they don’t need them- the place was packed with people eating authentic Japanese food, shoulder to shoulder with strangers. I loved the bustling intimacy of the restaurant, but I enjoyed the food even more. Stefan and I shared five small plates, the best being Tofu Dengaku. Now, Stefan and I aren’t vegetarian or huge tofu lovers, but we both couldn’t stop eating this dish! So delicious. The best part is that the meal was crazy inexpensive. Stefan got a huge 30 oz. beer for just $8. I don’t even know how that’s possible in New York City.

sakebarhagi

Most Amazing Lifestyle:
Basking in the outdoors and enjoying local food – Aquebogue, NY

If you follow a similar road trip route that I took, you will have eaten your way up the East Coast and walked your butt off around New York City and the Washington DC area. Now what do you need to finish off the trip right? A beautiful and relaxing stop in nature. You might be surprised that I’m recommending a town on Long Island, which most people falsely assume is overcrowded and ugly. The North Fork, where you’ll find Aquebogue, is actually filled with wineries, rolling farmland, and stunning views of the water. You’ll get to eat loads of fresh seafood and vegetables from local stands, but the best part really is the pace of living. At my family reunion here, the huge group of us gathered outside on picnic tables to enjoy all of our meals in the dappled sunlight. Stefan and I got to walk along the empty beach and explore tiny coastal towns. The peaceful setting was very rejuvenating after a fun, but exhausting road trip up North. I would recommend traveling to the North Fork of Long Island to everyone!

aquebogue1

So there you have it! I took hundreds of pictures and visited dozens of amazing places that I, unfortunately, don’t have the space to write about. What a shame that I have to leave so much out! I hope that my Gutsy Girl Road Trip Awards has inspired you to visit even a few of these locations and restaurants. I truly had an amazing trip and can’t wait for my next one!

Have you been to any of these destinations? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Have a great week,

xo Caylee