Sunday, October 15, 2017

Local Love: Arabia Mountain


Thanks to several friends and their Instagram postings, I learned about this gem. Have you checked out Arabia Mountain? 

It's located in Lithonia & less than 30-minutes from our home - who knew?  On a last-minute whim in late August, we decided to see what it's all about. It was a perfect way to end a weekend & shake off the "Sundays." 

Because it was so late in the day, we only scratched the surface, but it's peaceful & I can't wait to go back & see more. I imagine it's busier certain times of the week or weekends, but it's significant enough that I don't think you'd feel crowded in & so much to explore.


The paved trails are ideal for walking, biking, or running.







I want to go back when the leaves start changing this fall & one day will get to the summit! You can learn more here too - regardless of where you live in Metro-Atlanta, it's worth the drive. It's a reminder that there are always new & beautiful things to explore - especially in your own backyard!

Cheers,
S

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Asheville: That's a Wrap!


Last full day in Asheville was similar to the others: Take advantage of the beautiful weather & get outside, see a movie, & eat well (these are a few of my favorite things!). 

For the get out & move part of the day, we hiked around French Broad River Park. I didn't take my better camera with me because I was tired of lugging it around (gotta love smartphones!) - not a lot of photos but it was a pretty park to roam around & fun watching tubers/rafters float down the river. If we had the dogs with us, it would have been a great place to take them as it also had two dog parks.



Old trees = :-)


We chased a rainbow while trying to find a movie theater:


And got lost due to some crazy directions via Google Maps. But, we made it in the nick of time to see The Glass Castle - the movie is terrific, but the book is incredible - if you've not read it yet add it to your list. Our last dinner was at Thai Basil which was another great find (thank you, Yelp!). 

Our Airbnb hosts had a cool cat that hung out with us a little bit (they also had a cute baby & dog too - the trifecta!).


Blurry sunflowers while driving from Swannanoa to Asheville:


Our last meal before heading home the next day was at The Blue Ridge Biscuit Company. I'm glad we found it on our last day because we would have been there a lot more often & I would still be in a biscuit coma. They have a jam bar! If nothing else, check out the jam bar! 

We didn't hit the usual suspect (The Biltmore) because even though I've never seen it in person, it also feels like I've seen it a million times. I do want to check it out one day, but this trip was about wandering & not having an agenda. I think we succeeded & it was a nice little pause on reality.

Until next time, Asheville - keep those biscuits warm for me & the jam bar stocked!!!

Cheers,
S


Friday, October 13, 2017

Asheville, NC: Day 2



Our second day in, we roamed the Botanical Gardens at Asheville.  We needed to walk off the BRUNCH (it was that good!!!) we had at Louise's Kitchen in Black Mountain - this was by far our favorite place to eat (ate there twice) & it's a must check out if you are ever in the area. 

House-made vanilla bean syrup over pancakes while sitting on a pretty front porch overlooking mountains? 

Yes, please!

Their botanical garden has lots of lovelies and lots of shade.












We also visited the Grovewood Gallery; it has some whimsical outdoor art & an antique car museum.





I'm not a car person, but these were some of the coolest I've ever seen - my favorite:



And this yellow wheel!



My current subcompact would be the cutest ever with these wheels! ;-)

And one to spare:



Also, please note those beautiful wood floors & ceiling details - it might be housing cars, but the building is worth a peek. The lighting & windows made me so happy - again, not too into cars, but these details held my attention & kept me lingering.





Stalking cars in the heat calls for a treat so onto Whit's Frozen Custard - just go

We also caught the movie Atomic Blonde which we both loved more than we thought we would. If you're a fan of 80's music or the 80's in general, it's worth renting/streaming. It's just a cool flick, and Charlize Theron is badass (as usual).

We ended our movie night with dinner at Gan Shan Station - the food & service was excellent & it has a lovely outdoor space. There were not a ton of places open late, & this was a perfect find - want to go back!

Cheers,
S

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Asheville, NC: Day 1



So Asheville is pretty!

Shocked, right?!? ;-)

My husband & I had never visited & decided to finally get out town this past August. Our home base was Swannanoa which is an ideal location between Asheville (maybe 15 minutes away) & Black Mountain (another 10 minutes or so).  The Airbnb we had was TINY (as in oh-my-tiny, tiny), but clean & had all amenities needed. If I had to choose between staying in Asheville or Black Mountain, I would pick Black Mountain - loved its charm, restaurants, & the overall vibe.

I need to get better about documenting/writing sooner because how quickly we (me!) forget details! I'm not a very consistent blogger these days, not sure if I ever will be, but I aspire to do better. 

Life!

So here goes:

We shook off the car ride (it's about four hours from Atlanta) & hit Lake Tomahawk Park in Black Mountain (see photo above too).











And then walked around Asheville too as the sun started to set:




Not too shabby on those details, huh?

I obsessed over the pink tile detail on the building too:



I wanted to bring that tile home!

We didn't eat any tacos (dang it!) while we were there, but I loved this sign:



We had barbeque for dinner that night at a place called Okie Dokies (that name - happiness!) in Swannanoa - it was really good, but we have awesome varieties of barbeque in Atlanta so we're spoiled. Asheville had a lot of the same restaurants we have in Atlanta which we found amusing (Doc Chey's, Mellow Mushroom to name a few).  What Asheville does have in spades over ATL is the mountains - it's a beautiful thing to look up & see mountains! 




Cheers,
S

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville

Saw this today on Instagram & yes, yes, yes.


Photo credit: @cleowade

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Where Did July Go?


Whoa -  it's been way too long since I swam these waters! 

How is summer almost over? This is the time of year I get the most excited for fall - fall is my favorite & it can never come soon enough for me.

This summer has been full of change - a ways back, I decided it was time to find a job closer to home.  I was spending too much time in traffic & my patience broke (read: died & left the building for good) along with Atlanta's interstate that collapsed pretty much right in the middle of my, and thousands and thousands of other's, commute. 

It was a difficult decision to make, but the time gained back is huge & I currently have two part-time jobs. One is less than 15 minutes from home with the option of working from home & the other is work-from-home with occasional meetings about 20-30 minutes away - I love it. It's a great balance of being home & productive, but never feeling isolated or alone. 

I've also had more time to give to my side hustles. A few weeks back, I made $75 (in the form of a Visa gift card) in less than a half an hour at a focus group. If you've never done a focus group, it'a fun and very easy way to make some extra money.  If you live in metro-Atlanta, check out Focus Pointe Global or Google your city and focus groups. 

And speaking of Visa gift cards, if you want to easily use them on Amazon (me!), you can buy virtual Amazon gift cards for the same amount with a Visa gift card. This never occurred to me until we contacted Amazon. I wanted to apply the Visa gift card to an order & couldn't figure out how to do it - so there you go. I may be late this party, but glad I finally got the invite!

Other random summer things:

It feels like it has rained every single day and yet a good chunk of Atlanta is still in a drought. 

The show Grand Designs is amazing! Check it out on Netflix.

Catastrophe on Amazon is funny, brutal, honest, crazy, crude, smart, insane, & RIP, Carrie Fisher. :-(

And, Sam Shepard - sigh - I need to watch Baby Boom for the million-ith time. I know it's not his most prolific work, but I love that movie! If you want to see him in something more recent, watch Bloodline.

Did you know that you can't remove bats from your home until after August 15th? Yep, it's true - I just learned this from a volunteer I work with - she has bats in her attic & has to wait because they are protected as they eat so many unwanted pests (mosquitoes!), and it's their maternity season.

I finally got my passport renewed! I know this is not the most interesting news, but it's been on my to-do list forever for years & I am so happy to cross that one off the list.

Despicable Me 3 is super-cute! I got to take my goddaughter on a pre-birthday date to see it & if you love the 80's like I do, you'll get a kick out of it.

Twelve-year-old beagles often have mobility problems & it's the saddest thing. Our vet may be prescribing a dog version of arthritis medicine soon. 




In the meantime, I can't believe this guy is 12 - he doesn't look 12 to me & besides the occasional joint flare ups, he acts a lot younger too. I recently read that coconut oil may help - if you have an arthritic pup & any advice, I'd love to hear it. He lives for his evening walks, so we are hoping he bounces back soon.

His sister has been very sympathetic.

Sort of.




Better:




I have no idea how this post went down the spiral of dog pics, but if you look at my camera roll, that's about it! 

Happy dog days of summer - heh!

Cheers,
S














Saturday, June 17, 2017

Survey Spotlight: Paid Viewpoint


I take surveys, test products (see here, here, & here for a few examples), & attend focus groups on a regular basis. Why? Because besides the extra cash, I think it's a lot of fun & can do it in my spare time or on the go.

Going forward, I will highlight some of the sites I like best - full list here - & will try to give you the pros & the cons based on my experience with each site. These posts may contain affiliate links (disclosure policy here) & if you are a member of a great site I haven't listed, please let me know!

Why I like Paid Viewpoint (I've been a member since 2011):

Pros:


  • You qualify for every survey sent - there are no pre-qualifying questions. This a big pro because it will save you time & you will rack up earnings faster.
  • Surveys are usually short & sweet - another huge time saver, no pages & pages of questions. They are also very smartphone & tablet friendly.
  • Payouts are fairly quick (not as fast as Opinion Outpost - see here for more info).
  • Fairly low payout threshold at a $15.00 minimum (for some this may be a con), but it's never been an issue for me.

 Cons:

  • Small payout per survey (usually about 10 cents a pop), but again they are short/can be knocked out fast. They will also send requests for higher paying surveys, but you'll need to jump on those as they expire quickly & are first come, first served.
  • It can sometimes feel like you will never hit the $15 minimum to cash out.
  • Frequency: I wish I got more requests from this site as these surveys are so easy to do.

Worth it to sign up? Yes! I really like this site as it's fun, user-friendly, & payouts are fast.

Cheers,
S


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Blog Stalking: Vol 2



I don't post these types of posts nearly enough, but I read such great content every week & it really should be shared!

So here goes...

I want to buy these towels now. We don't need new towels, but maybe down the road?

Make this beverage stand (it always pays to buy a cheap bar stool!).

I bought this super-cute top recently (on sale!) at J. Crew, but this lovely lady does a much better job of modeling it than I ever would!

Maybe the cutest playhouses in the history of playhouses?

Hurrah, Ellen!

On being brave.

I really want a letter board - can someone send me a letter board? OK, thanks!

Cheers,
S

Monday, June 12, 2017

Redbook Beauty School Beauty Box (Garnier)

This year's cute Redbook Beauty Box arrived with these goodies - see here for last year's box - always a happy mail day!

Garnier products were featured:

 
Some closer looks:

 


The one I am most excited to try:


The only requirement (that I can tell) to score one of these boxes is to be a subscriber. And as I mentioned last year, I am pretty sure I was able to get a free subscription somewhere out there.  I think it's a fun perk! Did you get a red box this year? If so, what do you think?

Cheers,
S

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Survey spotlight: Opinion Outpost


I take surveys, test products (see here, here, & here for a few examples), & attend focus groups on a regular basis. Why? Because besides the extra cash, I think it's a lot of fun & can do it in my spare time or on the go.

Going forward, I will highlight some of the sites I like best - full list here - & will try to give you the pros & the cons based on my experience with each site. These posts may contain affiliate links (disclosure policy here) & if you are a member of a great site I haven't listed, please let me know!

Why I like Opinion Outpost (I've been a member since 2006):

Pros: 
  • The frequency of requests: I get at least one request per day & usually multiple requests per day.
  • A variety of rewards - you can pick from:
    • PayPal (1000 points = $10)
    • MileagePlus (105 points)
    • Alawar Games (30 points)
    • Amazon (50 points)
    • iTunes (100 points)
    • Donate to the American Red Cross (5 points)
    • You can also use points for prize drawings (this one I don't recommend!).
  • Fast payout! When you redeem points for cash, the funds are in PayPal asap - I love this & very few survey companies are this fast. It's the biggest pro for Opinion Outpost.
  • Product tests - some surveys will lead to a product test. Product will ship to you (toothpaste, shampoo, soap, you name it) & then a follow-up survey to gather your thoughts. You often get to keep the item but sometimes, they will ask for it back (free to ship back), so they can analyze wear & tear or keep the product under wraps.

Cons:
  • Even though I get a lot of requests, I don't qualify for every survey sent to me which equals a waste of time (this is the case for all survey sites). 
  • Some survey companies will give a small compensation if you don't meet the requirements needed - Opinion Outpost does not. They will enter you into a prize drawing, but I've yet to win anything more than a few extra points here & there.
  • They also often have small, pre-screener surveys which I also find to be a waste/unnecessary (it feels like they want extra info with no incentive to the survey taker).
  • Their graphics & overall look feel a little spammy to me (they are not spammers); I wish their graphics looked a bit more polished & professional. A small thing, but I also think it matters.
Is it worth signing up with Opinion Outpost? Overall, yes. No, you will not get rich but it's fun & the super-fast payout is a huge plus.

Cheers,
S

ps: you can read even more about Opinion Outpost here via the Survey Police website.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Favorite Things: Anne with an "E"


In another version of I get a lot of value out of our Netflix account, I dove into Anne with an "E." I've always been a fan of Anne of Green Gables, but if you want an exact remake of the original TV series (which I also recommend watching if you've never seen it), you may be disappointed. 

Netflix's take is not for purists.

This version is loyal to the original storyline, but it's more honest & modern, & darker. Anne's spiritedness, stubbornness (played so well by the actress Amybeth McNulty), & smarts are perfectly juxtaposed with what the world can be - not always kind, cruel, & ignorant. It tackles child abuse, bullying, sexuality, women's rights, poverty, obligation, & education equality while putting love, acceptance, forgiveness, friendship, & family at its center - it balances light & dark beautifully - I shed more than a few tears. 

My favorite character, besides Anne, is still Matthew Cuthbert (he's the hero!), but I love the entire cast. I also think the opening credits & theme song are gorgeous - it's a gilded work of art. I can't wait for Season 2.

Cheers,
S

PS: Other Netflix faves that are back (House of Cards being a given) - The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (love!) & Bloodline (so good!!!).