Starting a Gratitude Journal

Thursday, November 3, 2016

“I’m grateful…”

That’s how I start every entry in my gratitude journal.

Now that it’s November and Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, I thought it’d be the perfect time to share my new hobby and encourage you all to join me in journaling.

I started my gratitude journal after hearing the idea during an episode of the Young House Love podcast. During the episode Sherry mentions that she’s kept a gratitude journal for years and I was immediately interested in the idea. So, a couple days later I bought a cute journal at Target and started writing.

I didn’t want this to end up feeling like a chore, so my only rule is that I write at least one thing I’m grateful for every day. But if I miss a day, it’s not a big deal. I try not to write entries like “I’m grateful for my family” because I want to focus on things more specific to each day (and because obviously I’m grateful for my family).

The entries don’t need to be deep and meaningful either. For example, a couple of my past entries are that “I’m grateful that a new episode of How to Get Away with Murder = cuddle time” and “I’m grateful that my coworker brought in leftover Halloween candy”. Neither of those are momentous events, but after sitting in a cubicle all day, a bag of Swedish fish at 3 p.m. was exactly what I needed to get through the last hour of work.

So why should you start a gratitude journal? Well, studies have shown that focusing on gratitude:

1. Leads to improved physical and psychological health
2. Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
3. Improves self-esteem and reduces social comparisons
4. Reduces stress and increases happiness
5. Helps people sleep better and longer

You can read more about the benefits of gratitude and writing a gratitude journal here. If that still doesn’t convince you, maybe Oprah can convince you (she’s written gratitude journals for over a decade).

If you are thinking about starting a gratitude journal, I’ve rounded up some of the cutest journals currently available on Amazon. I ordered #1 for myself a couple days ago and I'm hoping it's in the mailbox when I get home today!  Prices are as of 11/2/16, but are subject to change because Amazon does whatever Amazon wants.
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

I’m trying to convince my boyfriend to start his own gratitude journal. He’s kind of into the idea, so I might just buy him one in hopes that he’ll actually use it. He would probably be happy with just a plain notebook, but I like these for him. I’m leaning towards the lazy panda.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

So, what do you think? Are you ready to start journaling? Or do you already keep a gratitude journal?

Friday Five

Friday, October 28, 2016

One – Mumford & Sons Concert

A few weeks ago Adam and I went to the Mumford & Sons concert. It was such an amazing show! They sounded SO good in person and played all of my favorite songs. The show was at Ak-Chin Pavilion, which is an outdoor venue. Luckily it’s finally starting to cool off at night in Phoenix so the weather was perfect during the concert. We had lawn seats, but managed to get spots in the very front, middle so we had a really great view too. It was such a fun experience and totally worth suffering through the following early morning at work.

Two – Vino and Canvas

A couple weekends ago my friend Jaime hosted a paint night at her house. She hired a local company called Vino and Canvas to teach the class. I’ve done quite a few paint nights, but this was my first at-home event. We painted a winter scene, snacked on appetizers, and had plenty of wine. It was so much fun! 

Three – New Kitchen Rug

Last time I went to Target my shopping list consisted of sandwich bags and body wash, so of course I bought a new kitchen rug too. It was on clearance…I couldn’t help myself. I also bought an embroidery craft kit that was on clearance…

Four – Ringo and Abby

Last week I wrote an entire post about our foster dog Lilly. I can’t let her have all the spotlight, so I decided to give a shout out to Ringo and Abby. I love these two goobers so much and we’ve been trying really hard to make sure they still get lots of attention, so they don’t get jealous. It helps that we crate Lilly at bedtime, so they still get to sneak into bed with us in the middle of the night and have that time to themselves.

Five – Fall Chalkboard Art

I finally updated our living room chalkboard for fall! I used this design from Mint and Honey Design as my inspiration. I’m not very artistic and I don’t have fancy handwriting, so I like to have a picture to follow as I draw. I love how it turned out! I’m going to be so sad when I have to erase it…

I hope you all have a great weekend! Anyone have any fun weekend Halloween plans? We don’t have anything planned except for a house warming party on Saturday, so we’ll probably just work around the house.     Cup

Travel Tuesday: Pompeii

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Almost a year ago to the day, we were walking the ruins of Pompeii. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to fully recap our Italy trip, but this is finally the final post. As you can probably tell from the title, our last full day in Italy was spent exploring Pompeii.

Pompeii was an ancient Roman city near the Bay of Naples. In 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city in ash. Explorers rediscovered the site in 1748 and found that Pompeii was still mostly intact under that thick layer of dust and debris. Even after 2000 years, most of the buildings (and skeletons) were still intact and archeologists even discovered preserves and loaves of bread.


During its heyday Pompeii was a luxurious resort area for wealthy Romans. Our guide told us that sex and “immorality” ran rampant throughout the city and some even compare it to Sodom and Gomorrah. I never knew this about Pompeii so I was pretty surprised to hear the stories and to see all of the penis shaped souvenirs available. This is probably where I should mention that if you are offended by the shape of a penis carved into a wall or faded sexual mosaics, you should probably not read the rest of the post. I don’t think it’s that graphic, but I don’t want anyone to claim they weren’t warned first.

Anyway, we only had a few hours to tour the ruins so we didn’t get to see everything, but we did see the large outdoor theatre and one of the city’s public baths.


Our guide also pointed out the raised stepping stones in the streets. They allowed people to cross the street without stepping in water or waste. They were also spaced out so carts and wagons could still pass through.

And as I alluded to earlier, we saw the brothel. Penises carved into the walls and streets lead the way to the brothel, which features
stone beds and erotic wall art.

This picture is one of my favorites from the trip – that’s Mount Vesuvius in the background!

Mount Vesuvius, located 5 miles from Pompeii. It’s the only active volcano on mainland Europe and is considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to the large population in nearby Naples and surrounding areas.

One of the last areas we checked out featured a large collection of pottery and artifacts that were uncovered during the excavation.

Also on display was a plaster cast made from one of the bodies discovered during excavation. Hardened ash from the eruption preserved the victims’ final postures at the moment of death. Archaeologists were able pour plaster into hollow pockets to preserve the body shape. After the plaster hardened for a few days, they chipped off the outer layers of ash and were left with cast like the one pictured below.

It was a sobering reminder of the suffering and devastation caused by the eruption. A once thriving city was completely destroyed in only a couple days. On that note, it seems kind of insensitive to say that we really enjoyed our visit to Pompeii…but we did. I would highly recommend visiting if you are ever near Naples (or I think you can also take a day trip from Rome).

And with that, our Italian adventure is complete. We had the most amazing time exploring Italy and had such a wonderful experience with our tour group. You can read more about our decision to use a tour company and our overall experience here, but I just have to reiterate that I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share these adventures with my mom. She truly is my best friend and travel buddy. Last month we went to San Francisco for a week together and we’re already discussing our next trip!  Maybe Africa?


Meet Lilly + Our Decision to Foster

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I want to introduce you to our foster pup Lilly!

She’s about 10 months old and was a stray at Maricopa Country Animal Care and Control – West. We don’t know anything about her past life, but based on how skinny she is, she was either not well cared for or was on her own for a quite a while. When we first met her she was sweet, but very timid.  It only took a few days for to come out of her shell and now she’s a spunky little pup.

We’re fostering through a local rescue organization called Mountain Girl Rescue. Mountain Girl Rescue saves e-listed Chihuahuas, pit bulls, and fearful dogs in Arizona and transports them to no-kill shelters in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. There’s less of a supply/more of a demand in those areas vs. overpopulated Arizona (Maricopa County is the second-largest shelter system in the country and has one of the highest kill rates).

Anyway, during the last Mountain Girl Rescue transport, all 34 of the dogs found homes within a few days through their partner rescue. Thinking about how many of those dogs went from the kill list to happy homes is what inspired me to try fostering. Luckily my boyfriend is amazing and was into the idea too.

So a few weeks ago I contacted the rescue group and we were set to foster a dog named Gonzo the following day. Let’s just say things did not go well. We kept having to break up fights between Gonzo and Ringo. Ringo doesn’t like conflict, so he spent most of the day trying to hide from the new dog. It was really stressful. As much as we want to help other dogs, Ringo and Abby’s happiness and safety come first.

Luckily the lady who heads the rescue completely understood and we met to give Gonzo back later that night. He was a good dog, but just wasn’t a good fit for our house. A few days later she sent me a video of Gonzo playing with two big, young females. He just needed a couple women to put him in his place ;)

So anyway, she recommended we try this sweet, unnamed stray instead. Two days later we were meeting one of her volunteers at the pound to pick up Lilly (we got to pick her name). Things were SO much easier when we brought her home vs. the previous experience.

I would love to say that Ringo and Abby like having her around, but I think it would be more accurate to say that they tolerate her. Luckily, they seem to be warming up to the idea of having another dog in the house more and more each day. The first few days Lilly and Ringo got into a couple spats, but nothing too serious. I think they are just setting (and testing) boundaries. Over the weekend we noticed that they are all starting to get more comfortable together and are starting to accept her into our pack.

She loves romping around the backyard, stealing Ringo’s ball, sleeping on the couch, eating food off the counter, belly rubs and cuddles. She’s already figured out the doggie door and we haven’t had any accidents since the first couple of days.

Lilly is staying with us until the November 30th transport. After spending two months together, I know it’s going to be hard to let her go. I’m definitely going to cry my eyes out when we drop her off. I’m getting teary just thinking about it, but I know that it’ll be the right decision for our family. For us, 3 big dogs is just too much to take on permanently. Plus keeping her would be the end of our fostering and we’d like to be able to help more dogs in the future.

Everyone keeps telling me that they’d never foster because they would get too attached and not be able to let go. That’s kind of how I felt at first too, but after reading fostering advice on forums and sad motivational quotes like “Wouldn’t you rather cry watching a dog leave your home to go to happy new home rather than cry knowing a dog died in a shelter because no one stepped in to foster?” I knew we had to try it. Seriously, don’t search “foster dog quotes” unless you want a major guilt trip.

I know not everyone is able to foster, but there are other ways you can help. Volunteers and donations are always needed. If you don’t already support a rescue organization, please consider donating to the next Mountain Girl Rescue transport. The next one leaves AZ on October 26th and donations are needed for the trip (you can donate here). You can also learn more about MGR by checking out their Facebook page. If you want to see some the rescue dogs in their happy homes, check out their rescue partner PB&CHI’s Facebook page.

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