Home2 Suites in Springfield, MO

 

As a huge travel nerd, I would definitely take a week-long vacation several times a year if I could. Long trips aren’t always practical, but one night away can feel incredibly refreshing, so that’s what I did this summer!

 

I wanted to spend a night somewhere that wasn’t too far from home, but far enough away that it felt like a little getaway. This little overnight trip came together perfectly!

 

Home2 Suites Springfield MO

 

One of my writing jobs is doing hotel and suite descriptions for Suiteness.com  I recently wrote descriptions for something like 50 different Home2Suites hotels and started thinking that it would be interesting to check one out in person to improve my writing. I mentioned it to the Suiteness team, and they hooked me up with a free night! It was perfect timing because I wanted to spend some time car shopping in Springfield, so spending the night there would make it easy to test drive a bunch of cars in one trip.

 

Home2 Suites is a chain by Hilton that offers all-suite accommodations that are pet-friendly and perfect for extended stays. Having researched so many for my writing, I can tell you that they all have a few things in common. At every Home2Suites property (they’re all over the country!), you’ll find a complimentary breakfast buffet, a combination fitness and laundry center called Spin2Cycle, a patio area to relax on, and either an indoor or outdoor pool. In short, all of the basics for a nice stay! While I can only speak personally about the one I stayed at, this post should give you a pretty good idea about the brand in general. 

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Friday Favs – Happy November!

Happy November, friends! Life has been so busy this past month that it feels like October flew by. I’m in a time of huge, crazy changes – scary but mostly awesome!

This is my last month of trail rides for the season, but since the weather has been SO COLD I think I’m very ready for the break. I just got a text that they don’t need me tomorrow and I’m not sure if I’ll be up for working the weekend after that, so I may only have 2 or 3 days left! Eep!

Side note – Ever since the WordPress update it has been smooshing my paragraphs together. Anyone have a workaround for that? I threw a few *’s in to ensure line breaks, but I hate how that looks. Help!

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Here’s what I’ve been enjoying lately!

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1. I wasn’t planning to buy any of Target’s Halloween birds this year…

…but then I spotted this one-eyed guy.

Could not resist! The missing eye just makes him inexplicably charming to me.

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2. This song is fairly old, but it’s been my jam lately. Perfect for a kitchen dance party when you need to feel better.

3. I first tried CBD oil a couple years ago and had great results. The brand I was using became unavailable near me, and none I’ve tried since have worked quite as well. I was looking up companies that offer sample sizes, since I’d rather not spend $30+ on a bottle I’m not sure I’ll like. I came across Erth Hemp on Google and wound up ordering two sample bottles from them. They offer a cool feature where you can fill out a survey in exchange for a code that makes a sample size free. You can choose drops, drops for pets, or soft gels. You do have to pay for shipping, which is like $3, but totally worth it if you’ve been wanting to try CBD without dropping a ton of $! (This isn’t sponsored, btw. Just wanted to share!) You can access the survey that gets you the free sample code here.

4. I am pretty sure that I posted back in August when my Bear cat had to go to the emergency vet? Well, he was sick last weekend and it was SO SCARY. He didn’t want to eat on Thursday or Friday, so I had to syringe feed him on Saturday & Sunday while stress-texting my vet friend. We made plans for me to bring him in first thing on Monday morning, but he woke me up at midnight the night before asking for food. THANK GOODNESS. He proceeded to eat five meals on Monday. I guess it was just a random bug or something? But oh man am I thankful that we didn’t have another vet bill when I’m still paying for the last one, and especially thankful that he’s okay!

5. Speaking of fun medical things, I learned something this week that I wanted to share since it might be helpful for one of you guys! As I mentioned, I’m getting some major dental work done on Monday. I thought I knew what I was going to do because I was on a serious budget. I was financing part of it through Care Credit, who had approved me for a $1,500 loan. However, while discussing my options with the manager of the dental clinic, he was able to pull up my account and request a credit limit increase, and they upped it to $7,000! I’m not using all of that, but y’all… if you need something medical done and can only get approved for part of the financing you need, this is worth trying. I never would have guessed that they would be able to get my limit raised that much! It’s going to make a massive difference in the quality of dental work I’m getting. (Although I’m going to be paying it off for YEARS, I think it will be worth it. EEP.)


I have the “Wisdom of the Oracle” deck by Colette Baron-Reid and this is one of my favorite cards, and it sums up how my life feels right now 100000%.

“It is human nature to yearn for certainty and resist change – to want the world to remain consistent like a zebra’s stripes. Yet nothing in human experience is black and white, nor will anything remain static. The one thing guaranteed is change. Now is a time of transformation as outer conditions are temporarily moving out of sync with your desires and expectations. Stay the course and remember that even storms serve to clear the air, scatter the seeds, and nourish the soil for better things ahead. Life is about to get interesting. Anticipate it with curiosity as you wonder what is coming in on the shifting winds. The unknown is where the magic lies.”

Did you know I’m on Poshmark? I have quite a few new items with tags, and I’m planning to add more soon!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything

Show Us Your Books – October Edition

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! Here’s what I’ve been reading recently!

(Apologies for the tight spacing on this post. The latest WordPress update made things funky and no matter how much extra space I try to insert between paragraphs/photos, it keeps crowding it all together!)

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Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs

*This book was released on October 1. I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley.*

Goodreads * Amazon

I came across this at random while browsing NetGalley and recognized the author’s name but couldn’t think of what I knew him from. He’s written a bunch of best seller memoirs (I think “Running with Scissors” is the best known.) This one is woven around the phenomenon he’s experienced his whole life. His mother told him he was a witch, but to be honest it mostly sounds like what we know as intuition and the law of attraction. Whatever you want to label it, the book is filled with interesting stories of knowing things he couldn’t have known, willing things  into happening, etc. Even more than that, it’s a memoir of he and his husband moving from NYC to an old house in Connecticut. Whether you buy into the magical aspect or not, it’s a fun read with good storytelling.

Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder

Goodreads * Amazon

You guys… I have no idea why I requested this book. I heard the author on a podcast and they were talking about her book, and I guess that it sounded interesting enough that I decided to check it out? What was I thinking? I’ve never seen the reality show she’s on, and it’s just not my kind of book. The writing is vapid and just… bad. (She frequently tacks “AF” onto things for emphasis, for example.) Most of the content would have been better as blog posts than a book. For example, there’s a whole multi-page thing about what kind of person you are based on what percentage of cell phone charge you have. No, really. It would be cute as a Buzzfeed-style post, but not in a book. Would I have maybe liked it better as an audiobook? I downloaded an episode of the author’s podcast just to see if I was missing something, but… nope. Definitely not for me.

I always try to find something positive to say about books, and in this case the underlying message of the book is a good one – to like what you like no matter if it’s considered cliche or silly.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

Goodreads * Amazon

I loved Anne’s “Bird by Bird” so much that I had to request this when I saw it on my library’s website. I got the audiobook because I love how this author reads her books, then was totally disappointed to discover it’s a different person reading it. Then a few minutes in I figured out that it was a novel, not another memoir. Oops. That’s what I get for requesting a book just based on the author! I listened for almost an hour but it’s like 12 hours long and just not my kind of book, so I went ahead and returned it. Lesson learned!

Currently Reading:

I got an ARC of Rachel Maddow’s new book and I AM SO EXCITED. She’s one of my favorite humans and an awesome author.

Linking up with Life According to Steph and Jana Says. They’re hosting a giveaway in honor of the five-year anniversary of the link-up, so be sure to check it out!

Friday Favs – October

Happy Friday, friends! Do you guys ever have those months where you blink and they’re over? That’s pretty much me right now. Where did September go? I guess temperatures in the 90s make it feel like it’s still August?

I had zero writing work last week because the company’s offices were closed for a retreat, but oh man have I been making up for it. I think the most descriptions I’d previously ever written in one day was around 27, but I did 35 on Tuesday. I’m at 110 for this week and still have more to go. Yay, money! But wow I’m tired. As much as I’m looking forward to cuddling my horses tomorrow, I kind of hope it storms so I can come home and nap.

Most of this post has been sitting as a draft for weeks, so let’s get going already!

1. My favorite hand soap is back at Target! It’s rare for me to like any kind of scented product, but this stuff is awesome and only shows up in the fall. Love it!

2. I got about $40 worth of makeup on clearance for $4 last week. Walmart had lots of $8-ish lipsticks marked down to 50 or 25 cents, as well as some NYX eye products. SOLD!

I haven’t tried everything so far, but the Milani lip ink is a big no – I didn’t realize when I grabbed it that it was one of those super drying matte lipsticks designed to stay on all day. The NYX butter lipstick is an odd color and feels kinda gritty. But the other NYX lipstick that was originally less than $4 is pretty good, so that one’s a win! Haven’t tried the other lip gloss or the NYX eyeshadow bases yet, but I’ll report back!

3. I ordered this waterproof bluetooth speaker from Amazon this week, and I really like it! It has a suction cup so I can stick it in the shower, but it also has a clip so I could hook it to one of my belt loops and listen to music while I’m riding or hiking or something.

4. Target has a new store brand called Good & Gather. (I guess it’s basically what used to be Up & Up?) I haven’t tried many of their items yet, but these Cashew Butter & Chocolate Chip fruit and nut bars caught my eye. They’re basically like Larabars – same size, almost the same texture, same limited ingredient list. (They also have a Cashew Cookie flavor where the ingredients are just cashews and dates. Nom.)

It’s already late in the day so I’m just going with 4 items this week instead of 5 in favor of actually posting this on Friday!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything

Friday Favs – End of August

Happy Friday, friends! I keep randomly waking up at 5 a.m., which happened again today. I’ve accomplished a lot, but still managed not to finish this post until after noon. Oops!

Side note: The new WordPress update is evil and I’m so sorry this post looks all smooshed together. When I try to add extra space between paragraphs and pictures, it laughs at me and says no. Anyone else struggling?

Here’s what’s been up around here lately!

1. The Dodo video below showed up on my Facebook feed last week, and I totally fell in love. The black kitty looks almost exactly like my Bear cat, except Bear has a little white star on his chest. The parts with Temporary Random Kitten are my favorite, only partly because I also have a Temporary Random Kitten at my house!

After watching this compilation a good dozen times, I looked up the originals on Youtube. If you want to fall down the same rabbit hole I did, there are 68 videos at Talking Kitty Cats youtube channel! The early ones are pretty rough, but they start to hit their stride after 10 or so.

2. I had such a weird Saturday at work! I’m so used to it being unbearably hot, so a rainy day where we all wore jackets was STRANGE. When I checked the weather the night before, it was a 50% chance of rain all day, so I wasn’t even sure we would open, but we did!

(This is a kind of long story of my day, feel free to skip since it’s nothing spectacular, but I’ll throw in some cute horses for good measure!)

My beloved Bailey horse was limping when he trotted up in the morning (They stay in a big pasture over night, so when we first get there, we fill all of the feed buckets at the barn, then someone goes down and opens the gate and they all make their way up for breakfast.) so he got the day off. Thankfully it was just because he’d lost a shoe and was feeling kinda tender-footed, and the farrier would be there Monday to do new shoes. He works so hard for us, I was kinda glad he got a break, even though I missed him!

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Bailey and I excel at the art of the #selfie.

A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

We had 7 people scheduled on the first ride, 2 on the second, nobody on the 3rd, and 2 on the 4th. One of my coworkers isn’t 18 yet, so she can’t take out rides solo, so it would be me and the other guy doing the 2 person rides if nobody else joined them. Works for me because I LOVE doing small rides solo. 2-4 people is so much easier and fun than leading 10-12. So the other two took the first ride out, and right as they were leaving it started to rain. We still ride in the rain as long as the guests want to and there’s no lightning, so I waved goodbye to them and then went and hid in our little office-shed and played games on my phone for most of the hour.

One amusing but frustrating thing – at one point during that hour I looked out the window and Belle’s saddle was hanging off her sideways. I didn’t take a photo since it was so rainy, and I couldn’t find one anywhere on the Googles, so I made you guys this lovely work of art as a diagram:

If not for the breastcollar, which goes around her chest, it would have been hanging totally under her belly. Poor Belle is super round and hard to fit, but I think someone had put the wrong saddle on her because it VERY MUCH did not fit right. I had to unhook everything (while being rained on), take it all off, and re-saddle her. She’s known as Hells Bells or the Hellbitch around the barn, but I’ve never had problems with her and she was such a good girl while I was doing this. She started to move and I said a firm WHOA and she stopped in her tracks and stood still. Good girl. <3

Anyway, our 11:30 riders didn’t show up, so we sat around doing nothing. We had two people stop randomly a little around 1 and I was going to take them out but my coworker was going totally stir crazy so I let him go instead. Finally for the 2:30 ride we had 6 people instead of the 2 originally scheduled, and I was like “OMG PLEASE LET ME SIT ON A HORSE ALREADY”, so I took them out. Other than getting horses ready from about 8-9:30, I’d been doing NOTHING all day. Nothing is fun for awhile, but after five hours I was SO ready to work! I rode Roark since Bailey was out, and was reminded how much I love him. He’s such a good boy! Unlike Bailey, he’s also used as a guest horse, so he’s not always available for me to grab. (We generally match guests to horses, then pick who we want to ride from whoever is left. We try to keep the mules just for guides, and we have a brand new horse named Dutch who I haven’t even ridden yet who is still guide only, but otherwise Bailey is the only other guide only horse.)

I have no idea how Dutch did this to himself. That’s Belle next to him.

My two coworkers took the horses we weren’t using on the 2:30 ride down to the show barn, so once I got back all we had to do was make one more run down there, tie them up to their hay, loosen girths and breastcollars (we don’t untack if they’re doing a show that night) sort out the cash from the day, and head home.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy again, so I may not end up working. The weather forecast changes every five minutes, though, so we’ll see!

3. I was poking around on my insurance site trying to find a way to make my premium cheaper (no luck) and discovered that Progressive customers get a free 3-month trial of SiriusXM! My cell phone data coverage suuuuucks where I live, so I generally can’t just listen to Spotify or something while I drive, so I’m pretty excited to try this out. Wanted to spread the word in case any of you have Progressive, too!

4. I usually buy Oreos if I’m buying cookies, but lately I’ve been very into Milanos! The double dark chocolate are my favorite, but the dark chocolate and milk chocolate ones are also awesome. They’re perfect for dunking (especially in Starbucks vanilla latte) and they just feel slightly fancier than Oreos.

Okay, I’m winding things up after only 4 this week. Too much to do, too little time! Hope you all have fantastic weekends. Send some love to all of my Disney cast member friends who are not only dealing with the insane crowds as the new Star Wars area opens, but also a big ol’ hurricane heading straight for them. It’s kinda a nightmare, but omg do I wish I was there. I miss that kind of craziness!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget & A Little Bit of Everything