Friday Favorites + A Giveaway!

 

Happy Friday! Yet another week has flown by. Stop doing that, weeks! I need to catch up!

Could we please start a petition for an International Catch Up On Your Life Day? You get a full 24 hours to catch up on ALL THE THINGS from overdue blog posts to that Netflix show you’re three seasons behind on to sleep.

Okay, maybe it should be International Catch Up On Your Life Week?

Anyway, here’s this week’s list of favs!

1. I’ve been sick this week and finally had to give in and get some antibiotics. Despite asking the doc for an affordable option, when I picked them up they were $50. LOLNOPE. Enter the GoodRX app, which gives you a coupon code the pharmacy people can enter to drop the price down. It brought mine down to $21, which is still way more than the $4 generic I meant when I asked for “affordable”, but significantly better than $50!  (And nope, this isn’t sponsored, I just hate when pharmaceutical companies charge way too much for things just because they can.)

 

The app shows the price available at your local pharmacies so you can make informed choices. Yay!

 

2. I posted a song that I fell in love with via Spotify last week, and I have another new one that  love this week!

Yes, same musical vibe as last week. I’ve been in a weird mood.

 

 

 

3.  If you’re anything like me, you usually kinda vaguely notice the refrigerated section of the pet food aisle or store, but never really stop to investigate.

However, FreshPet recently sent me some coupons so I could try out their cat food on the house (Yes, my cats are spoiled.) so for the first time I actually explored the refrigerated stuff!

This one was a big hit! It’s easy to feed like dry food, but it’s softer and moister. The resealable bag made me ok with sticking it in the fridge and not feeling weird about cat food being in there with my food. (Refrigeration is required because they don’t use preservatives.) This was awesome when one cat would miss meal time (there always seems to be one off doing their own thing!) because I could grab them a good meal without the sound of an opening can alerting everyone else to the possibility of food.

I believe this was around $5 for a 1 lb bag. Not bad at all given the high quality ingredients, but also not something I could afford to feed them daily. It was so handy for a quick meal, though, that I’ll probably purchase it occasionally in the future! You do need to use it within about a week after opening, or else I’d just keep some on hand most of the time.

Okay, not the best photo ever, but I think anyone with pets knows what happens when you try to photograph something for your blog or Instagram!

This one is a pate from FreshPet’s “Vital” line, which is grain-free. The cas LOVED this stuff – I think they would have happily eaten the entire 1 lb package all at once. (It suggests feeding 1/4 – 1/2 lb per day depending on the cat’s weight, so I guess multiple cats splitting one would be totally normal, but it FELT like so much!) There was a learning curve to figuring out how to slice it up. At first I went with actual slices, but they seemed to struggle with those so I switched to chunks that they could get their mouths around better. Success! This one was also around $5, which is pretty budget friendly since if you only have one cat you’re getting 2-4 days out of it. Again, though, if you live in CatLadyville like I do, it may fall into the “special occasions and occasional splurge” category.

I found these at PetCo, Target, and Walmart, but their website also has a store locator if you want to track them down. There are WAY more options available for dogs, so I’d love to see the cat food varieties, expand, too! They do also sell single resealable cups of cat food that are under $2 each, so that’s next on our list to try!

 

4. I’ve been in hardcore cleaning and decluttering mode because I’m determined to move back to Orlando this fall, and I feel like the less stuff I bring along with me (literally and figuratively), the better.  Strangely, this has gotten me hooked on YouTube videos of other people cleaning. Can’t decide if this is a step up or down from watching Hoarders?

Speaking of video consumption, I’ve been on a YouTube kick again lately. Leave a comment to let me know who your favorite YouTubers to follow are!

 

5. If you’ve been visiting my blog for very long at all, you know that a) I love cats and b) dot-to-dot books for adults are my jam. As much as I love coloring books for adults, sometimes when my brain is totally exhausted from a long day of work, even picking out which colors I want to use feels overwhelming. Dot-to-dot is way more relaxing. I can just put on a good podcast and kind of zone out as a cool picture forms.

I was recently sent a copy of the new Where’s Kitty? Dot-to-Dot by its publisher, Thunder Bay Press, and I’ve definitely been enjoying it. In addition to unwinding at home, it’s also come with me to Arkansas to help turn my brain off after a long day of exploring.


Like most dot-to-dot books for adults, each page is pretty intricate and the dots can be pretty tiny and close together.

 

Definitely not as tiny as some dot-to-dot books I’ve seen, though, and the numbers all being black also make them easier to read than some other books. I think it would be impossible to have intricate designs where the numbers don’t stand out like a sore thumb if they weren’t quite small.

As you might guess from the book’s title and cover, there’s a kitty hiding in each page! Something about this turns me into a small child and I get all excited when it shows up, “OMG, THERE’s kitty!” (Look, I live in a very small town right now. This is about as exciting as things get sometimes.)

 

Each image has a clue about the setting, which is super cute.

 

Kitty chillin’ on a gondola in Venice

 

Since I’m also a travel nerd this book was a perfect fit for me, since the designs each feature a famous world landmark or destination.

Showing you my awesome book would be kind of mean if I didn’t share, so I asked the publisher to hook one of you up with your own copy, and they kindly agreed! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to score a free book! US only, 18+, and all of that other good legal stuff here. I made it super easy to enter – you only have to enter a contact email the main entry so I can let you know if you win. (Don’t worry, I’m the only one who sees it and I do not have the free time to send you spammy emails.)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Happy weekend, all, and good luck if you’re entering the giveaway!

 

Friday blog linkup

Friday Favorites – It’s July Already?

I spent most of the latter half of June asking, “Is it July yet?” because I was so looking forward to plans to head down to Dallas for a friend’s wedding and quality time with other people I care about. And now, somehow, I’ve already been back for almost a week and the time has flown by. Most of this week’s hours have been filled with work, which is lovely in the financial sense and not so great in the catching up on blog posts (and life!) end of things.

My brain hasn’t wanted to focus on anything productive all day, so this poor Friday Favs post is going up well after 9 p.m. Better late than never? I’m going with yes on that question.

 

1. Getting to spend time with incredible people while I was in Dallas has to be #1 this week. I’ve known two of the friends I got to visit since I was about 14, and another since 18. I hadn’t been to Texas in at least a decade, but I feel like I might need to go back in the relative future. Maybe a year? Maybe sooner? Life is weird and unpredictable, so I’m leaving it as a big question mark for now.

 

2. The meowers were treated to this delicious (their opinion, I didn’t personally try it) Blue Wilderness wet food from Chewy.com this week. The variety pack had chicken, duck, and salmon flavors, which were all a hit.

 

I often tell Bear that as a bear, he should be off catching salmon from a stream. Canned food made of salmon seems like the next best thing, so he got to be my model this week. Yes, I know, the black cats are impossible to photograph and these photos never turn out great, but Bear deserved that fishy deliciousness.

 

 

3. While writing a suite description for work, I made what is arguably the best typo of my life:

 

4. I came across this statue while wandering around the historic district in Grapevine, TX last Friday and it just struck me for a lot of reasons.

 

This sculpture in #grapevinetx was everything. 💕

A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

 

I just looked it up, and it’s called “Coming Home.”  (info here)

 

5. This song, discovered via my daily Spotify playlist:

 

Friday blog linkup

Friday Favorites – End of June

 

1. This particular Friday, I’m thankful for a busy work week. Freelancer life is awesome, given that I can work at home with no pants surrounded by cats, but sometimes it is NOT awesome and you have a couple of slow weeks in a row and things get super stressful financially. The past two weeks have been busy, so… yay dollars.

 

2. The S’mores frappuccino is back and I have zero shame about loving it.

“I’d like one giant cup of caffeinated sugar, please!”

 

3. I tried on these two dresses at Target earlier this week and fell in love with both.

left * right

The current JULY4 20% off code makes them $24 each! (reg. $29.99) My only hesitation is that I don’t have a bra that would work with either. (The boob struggle is real, y’all.)

 

4. Chewy.com is like Santa or the Easter Bunny or something but better, because they send me cat food to review every month, and that’s any cat lady’s dream.

Chewy EVO 95 Grain Free Chicken & Turkey Recipe in Gravy Canned Cat Food

The meow faces were treated to this Evo 95 grain-free chicken and turkey cat food this month, and it was a hit. Some of them are picky about pates, but this one was really moist (sorry to those who hate that word) and had a noticeable chicken-y scent (technical term) that seemed to draw them in. the “95” in the name comes from it being composed of 95% animal proteins – chicken and turkey in the case of the variety they tried, but it’s also available in a duck flavor.

Pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever written the phrase “duck flavor”, so hey, life throws you fascinating new experiences every day, doesn’t it?

 

5. I finally ordered another Graze box and have been snacking on its healthy goodness all week while I work.

This is just the top level of an 8 snack box. They always pick the perfect mix of sweet and savory!

These little bars are always my favorite! They come in a bunch of different flavors and I love every one I’ve tried so far. (Although the pumpkin spice ones are admittedly the best.)

Bonus: I finally signed up to give Rocksbox a try so I can have cute jewelry to wear for my Dallas trip next weekend. They gave me this handy link that will let you try it out for a month for free, too! Here’s a peek at my wishlist:

I tried picked earrings that will go with the dresses I’m planning to pack, so I really hope they send some of my wishlist pieces!

Hope you guys have a great weekend! I’ll basically be glued to my laptop to try to get enough writing work done that I’ll actually be able to take a couple of days  OFF next week while I’m in Texas! Wish me luck – it’s a HUGE to-do list!

This post contains affiliate links because delicious coffee and spoiling my cats is expensive, yo. And because getting credit to spend at cool subscription services I share with you guys makes me happy in my heart. (and stomach.)

Friday blog linkup

Downtown & Underground in Eureka Springs

 

Notice anything unusual about this street?

 

No? Looks pretty normal, right? Let’s look a little closer…

 

Oh, no big deal, just a secret underground tunnel!

Most of downtown Eureka Springs was originally about 10 feet lower, but due to unusual circumstances (it’s a long story), they eventually had to build new streets above the old. As a result, a series of tunnels created by the old roads and limestone walls ran underneath the town, making it easy for all kinds of shady stuff to go down, from prohibition-era liquor runs to private access to the brothels and bath houses that were popular back in the day. Eventually, most of these tunnels were closed off or filled in, but some are still accessible, and the best way to see them, and learn some of the town’s totally fascinating history, is the Downtown -N- Underground Tour.

The tour meets in Basin Park, right next to the Basin Park Hotel.

 

 

The forecast was looking pretty dark for my tour time, so as we were waiting for it to begin I asked about what happens if it rains. The tour does continue in the rain, with the guide doing their best to keep you under cover when possible,  but you may want to bring an umbrella just in case. Lightning, on the other hand, does cancel the tour. It did rain on and off during my tour, but the main impact that had was making some of the walkways and stairways a little scary to navigate. Be sure to wear good shoes even in great weather! (And not just on the tour – while visiting Eureka Springs in general. The whole town is hills and stairs.)

Speaking of stairs, this is one Eureka Springs attraction that’s not really accessible for those with mobility disabilities. There’s a lot of walking (close to 2 miles, going by the activity app on my phone), mostly on uneven terrain, and a whole lot of stairs. Staircases are so abundant in this hilly town that the original 19th century mapmakers assumed they were small roads and gave them names and addresses!

 

Just kidding… mostly.

That said, the tour moves at a pretty leisurely pace, with lots of stopping to listen to stories. If you can comfortably walk around for about an hour and handle stairs (mostly down, thankfully!), you’ll be fine. If you don’t think you’re up to that but still want to hear the stories of the town’s history, you can get in touch with the tour operator and they can arrange a private tour that meets your needs.

The storytelling is engaging enough to keep older kids entertained, and the more sordid topics (see aforementioned brothels and bath houses) are handled in more of a “wink-wink” way than anything explicit,  so I’d call it family friendly. You know your kids best, but I’d lean towards suggesting it for at least 8-ish or older, just due to the walking and the need to be fairly quiet to listen to stories without interrupting. There is plenty of time to chat as you walk between stops, though.

 

 

But back to the tour! After waiting at the kiosk pictured above for all of the tour participants to show up (I think we had around 12 people), the tour begins by climbing up those stairs you see in the background to learn about the origins of the town at the site responsible for them. Yup, it involves the springs! I loved learning that way before white settlers caused the town’s population to explode (by like 20,000 people in a few years, which was a LOT in the 1800s!) by spreading word of the “healing waters”, the Osage living nearby allowed other passing tribes, even their enemies, to use the springs because they felt they belonged to everyone.

One of the first things our guide said on this tour was that “unique places attract unique people”, and that stayed in my mind throughout my stay in town, because it’s so true. The Downtown -N- Underground tour covers most of historic downtown Eureka Springs, and includes stories of the failed bank robbery in 1922, the radical anti-alcohol exploits of Carrie Nation, and the fires that wiped out large portions of the town multiple times. (They eventually figured out to stop building everything with wood.)

One cool stop on the tour was the Auditorium, where we got to stand on a stage where legends from BB King to Willie Nelson to the auditorium’s very first act in 1929, John Phillip Sousa and his band have performed. Can you imagine seeing any of those acts in a theater that only holds about 1,000 people?

Eureka Springs auditorium

 

Most of the tour takes place above ground, but there are a few opportunities to check out the underground tunnels, and even step inside a couple. I tried to take a photo of the tunnel we popped into beneath the historic Grand Central Hotel, but something about the moist subterranean setting wasn’t iPhone camera friendly! (That, or the tunnel is totally haunted, as pretty much everything in Eureka Springs is rumored to be, and this is an awesome ghost photo. Take your pick. 😉)

 

We were able to walk through another portion of tunnel in a former bath house where a grate opening up to the street resulted in a much better photo!

I’m a huge fan of learning the history of a place before you visit it. I always make the analogy of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. If you’ve never read the books, it’s just a cool-looking, whimsical land full of interesting things to look at. If you do know the stories, every location and prop means something to you. Learning the story of a real place is the same. I noticed so many things that I would have otherwise overlooked thanks to what I learned on the tour.

I’d suggest making the Downtown -N- Underground Tour one of your first stops when visiting Eureka Springs. You’ll get the lay of the land and learn tons of interesting history that will enrich the rest of your trip.

You can learn more about the Downtown -N- Underground tour on their website, check them out on Facebook, and read the tour reviews on TripAdvisor.

At the time of writing this (6/2017), adult tickets are $13.50, and there’s a buy one, get one free deal going on. (Score!) Kids under 12 are free, so this is a seriously economical to have a fun family afternoon and learn a lot along the way!

Thanks so much to the Eureka Springs City Advertising & Promotions Commission for assisting me with a complimentary tour so that I could share my experience with my readers!

 

Other posts you may enjoy: Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, Cabin Fever Resort in Eureka Springs

Friday Favs – I Don’t Have A Witty Title For This One

 

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m about to head to the library to focus on writing, since I have a ton to finish up for a deadline today! Here’s what I’ve loved this week:

 

1. I had a visitor! (Actually 2, but only one can be seen here:)

 

 

2. I’ve done the daily LA Times crossword on mensa.com for ages now, but I recently started playing the jigsaw puzzle thing in their game room, and it’s my new way to de-stress.

You can select how many pieces you want (it ranges from 40-something to 104) and there’s a handy button that hides everything except the edge pieces to save your sanity towards the beginning.

 

3. I’m still working on posts about my recent visits to the crazy, quirky small town of Eureka Springs, and the more I write about it the more I can’t wait to go back. If you haven’t already seen them, I’d love for you to check out my posts about the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour and Cabin Fever Resort!

 

4. My beloved Rachel is on the cover of Rolling Stone! What a rock star! 

 

5. More of a confession than a fav, but I can’t think of another #5 –

I am rocking the shirt that Sweet Earth Foods sent me as part of a gift pack last year because I tweet about my love for them so damn much. (Those Curry Tiger burritos, though! Nom.) Is this because I felt like spreading the word about their awesome organic food for lazy people? Nope. It’s because I haven’t done laundry in a million years and it was the only non-wintery top I could find. Also, it is now covered in black cat fur because I cuddled Bear before leaving the house. I am winning at adulting.

I’m planning a trip to Dallas early next month, so I’d love your suggestions on what to see, eat, do, and where to stay!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m really hoping to finish up as much work as possible today & tomorrow so I can actually relax with some books and the new season of OITNB on Sunday!

Friday blog linkup