On June 1st, Greg and I set out west again for 14 days (read about why we go and last year’s trip here). It was tiring, surreal, and mostly fun. We spent ten days this year in Idaho with two consecutive groups of 12 kids. It was pretty similar experience to last year and we even went back to Yellowstone.
Since we had two groups of kids it kind of felt like Groundhog Day. We ate the same things, did the same activities, everything the same like it was the first time. Except when the second group of kids left for Yellowstone, Greg and I headed to Las Vegas!
It was a nine hour drive from Idaho and I didn’t drive a mile. I did read a whole book though. We stayed only one night with Greg’s childhood friend before heading to California for our final destination. Neither of us really had any desire to “do Vegas” but I wanted to experience it a little bit. My friend Claire recommended eating on the patio at Todd English’s Olives restaurant in the Bellagio. We saw fountains, the strip, casinos, and had great food. I feel like we got enough of the Vegas experience in one night.
On our way out we did get to see the famous Dale Chihuly glass installation in the lobby so that was neat.
Because I’m really into jamming a trip full of activities, the next morning before we headed to Cali, I planned for us to visit the Neon Museum. It was pretty hot out even at 9:30 in the morning but it was so worth it! If you ever go to Las Vegas I think this is a must do and see. I took a lot of pictures so feast your eyes…
I don’t make Greg do ridiculous poses. I encourage him and he’s always willing, God love him.
The museum is all outdoors and tours are an hour long. There are certain historical/popular signs they tell you about but I don’t remember anything because I was too busy taking pictures and trying not to melt.
The arrangement of the signs were so thoughtful. Some look like they were put there haphazardly but that’s part of the subtle intention. It’s a photographer’s dream!
I have a thing for rust and patina and these signs are so perfectly worn. It’s almost like it was manufactured BUT IT’S NOT!
AND LOOK AT THOSE COLORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh look, I found mine and Greg’s initials. How sweet.
After the tour we walked around “Old Vegas” for a while, got some coffee and breakfast. And here’s one last shot of me being a tourist… Giant flamingo!
You still here? Good! Next stop is SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS! And it’s just as magical as it sounds.
Out in the desert about 15 miles from Las Vegas is a new art installation by Swiss artist, Ugo Rondinone, that went up in May. I don’t remember how I found out about it but I’m going to say Instagram.
It’s really in the desert. There are signs telling you to not leave the path because you will be bitten by a poisonous snake and die if you do. So it really has that “wow factor” you know?
It will be up until May 2018. It really is super cool seeing these giant neon boulder statues in the middle of the desert (and risking your life to see them). I like your style, Ugo! I didn’t want to leave but it was kind of hot.
Back in the car we go and our next stop is Orange County, California. We left the blow dryer air for cool ocean breeze. We stayed with a buddy in Costa Mesa. He took us out for superbly delicious tapas that night and the next day we met two of my college homies in Venice for brunch. We ended up parking right near the Gold’s Gym Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous.
We ate at a really pretty place called Rose Cafe. It was so picturesque. If I’m being 100% real, that’s why I picked it.
I ordered avocado toast and took this picture…
Sometimes “basic” just feels so right.
Venice seemed really very California. I wish we could have spent more time there but I guess I’ll have to go back!
After brunch we headed to The Getty. I love museums so much. I didn’t take any pictures because I WAS ENJOYING THE ART LIKE ONE SHOULD so you’ll just have to take my word on it.
We didn’t want the day to end with Max and Amanda so we headed to Hermosa Beach for more tapas and pitchers of sangria.
The only picture of the four of us is this screen shot of a snapchat. It’s perfect though. (We did miss you Liz!) After we left Hermosa Beach, Greg and I headed to Laguna Beach for gelato and watched the sunset… can’t stop, won’t stop!
I really wanted to do some hiking where I could see the ocean so the next day we hoped on the Pacific Coast Highway and went down to Crystal Cove. We were supposed to do a 5 mile hike but it turned into a 6.5 mile hike because we hiked in the wrong direction to a parking lot instead of taking the trail. Whoopsies!
Once we got on the actual trail, the hike did not disappoint. We started by hiking in the canyon and then it wrapped down toward the ocean. It was an incredible view. You could see all the beaches from Newport to Huntington. It was the most ocean I’ve ever seen.
I was slightly obsessed with seeing cacti “in the wild.”
After lunch in Laguna we hit the road again. I don’t know if we were delirious or addicted to seeing things but we decided to head down Huntington Beach Pier to watch the surfers. Do as the Californian tourists do.
Congratulations, you made it to the end!
We left the next morning out of LAX and made it to Birmingham around 9 pm. Don’t worry because we already have next year’s trip planned!
Next month we’re driving up to NYC and then I’m heading to Houston for a a couple of days. If you want to follow along, you can find me on Instagram and Snapchat under the user name: @molliejoydesign
Do you have any trips planned? I’d love to hear!
Ok, here we go…. First up is the living room when you walk in the front door.
At my house, you’re always greeted by a puppy or three. Hi Sunny!
Now turn around, there’s the front door.
Gus couldn’t be left out. Now, you’re walking toward the dining room.
Gus is always watching. I swear I didn’t bribe or pose him. He’s THAT photogenic.
Let’s go to the kitchen, shall we?
This is where Greg washes all the dishes.
This is where Greg cooks all the food.
Behind you is where I make my coffee in the morning. Greg makes our coffee in the afternoon. I’m not totally dependent.
Ok, now you are going to take a right at the fridge and enter “the office.”
More puppies. Always staring.
See, I told you.
Now you’re leaving the office and looking back at Greg’s custom stand up desk/bookshelf. Next stop, one picture of my tiny closet sized bathroom…
Continue down the hall to the guest bedroom.
Come stay with us! Ok, to the right of the guest room is our bedroom.
That’s basically it! You only missed the basement (with our awesome home gym), our view (which couldn’t be captured well enough to show) and the guest bathroom (which you don’t want to see). I could go into great detail about every detail but only if you ask! Most of my furniture is vintage or craigslist finds but I would be glad to give you sources if you are curious.
It’s time for puppy spankings so y’all come soon! Bye!
:: Recipe :: Sometimes salads sound just like well.. a salad. BORING. But! I have found my favorite salad EVER. It is a Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing. I like a lot of “stuff” in a salad and this one definitely delivers on the stuff. It does take some time to chop everything and make the dressing but IT IS SO WORTH IT. It makes a good amount too.
:: Book :: The book I read and finished this month was Love Style Life by blogger and illustrator, Garance Dore. Visually it is a beautiful and well designed. It’s the kind of book you want to keep out and thumb through from time to time. Garance gives advice and personal experiences on topics of love, style, and life. My personal favorite is her advice on not f*cking up the hello.
:: Nail Polish :: If you know me, my nails are almost always painted. I love nail polish. I love painting my nails. I love having painted nails. Recently I picked up this Nails Inc. polish from Sephora. It is a dusty muted pink, perfect for everyday wear. I stared at my hands a lot when I wore it. That’s the test of a good polish for me.
:: Make Up :: If you’re a guy or gal that likes to conceal imperfections then listen up. I picked up the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Concealer this month and it is SO GOOD. It is the perfect amount of coverage and so smooth and creamy. I got the shade “light warm” and it’s brightening but not too light for me.
:: Video :: It’s no secret that Maya Angelou was full of inspiration and wisdom. This video is no exception and something I’ve taken to heart this past month. So let’s all be rainbows, ok?
:: Art :: I know I’ve been going on and on about it but ANDY WARHOL’S BUTTERFLIES y’all! If you missed it I wrote a blog post on them here. His ink blot technique has inspired me to try it out for myself. I made an iPhone wallpaper inspired by it that went out in my first ever Email Surprise (sign up in the box to the left!).
:: Blog :: As you probably know I’ve started #The100DaysProject by drawing 100 portraits (#100DaysOfPortraitsbyMJ). Man Repeller just so happened to do an interview post with an illustrator and the people he draws off the street! I loved seeing the illustrations and photographs of the real people. Maybe this is what I should aspire to?
:: Clothing :: I bought this jacket from Zara because I couldn’t resist. I’m really needing a jacket now that it’s 80 degrees out! But really I have worn it twice. It’s so cute and it has ice cream on it! I paired it with this tank top. I wear mostly neutrals and I’m trying to add some more “fun” to my wardrobe this year.
:: TV Show :: Do you like weird religious cult shows? If you answered yes then you should check out The Path on Hulu. Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad is the main star. It is perfectly fascinating and weird because I like weird religious cult things. It reminds me of Scientology (or rather what I know about Scientology) mixed with a hippie cult. Very interesting!
:: Quote :: I know it’s not “healthy” to relate so much to this quote but I have a feeling you will too.
What have you been mentally favorite-ing recently? Anything I should try/watch/read/know?
I have been wanting to do a daily project for basically the last eight years. I have a problem with commitment. I’m committed to being flaky. But this year, it’s a new Mollie in town! So when I saw #The100DaysProject coming up on Instagram, I decided to get prepared and commit. So far, I’m 16 days in and things are great!
One of my “goals” this year was to get better at drawing people (#100DaysOfPortraitsByMJ). I always want to draw people and then I’m disappointed at the result. So I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to practice. Because when do you ever will yourself to get better at something without actually doing the act? I’ll tell you. NEVER.
One hundred days is a lot to think about at once so I decided to break my 100 days into ten ten-day chunks. My first chunk was to draw my ultimate fantasy dream dinner party. I love dinner parties and I like fun people so it seemed natural. I decided to a simple line illustration without any shading for these. I picked people that I would genuinely like to have conversations with not just A-list celebs. Keep on a’scrollin’ for my ultimate invite list…#molliejoydinnerparty
First up is the greatest Iris Apfel. I think she would bring a lot of experience and knowledge to the fantasy table. If all else fails we could just talk about her outfit. Ps. have you seen “Iris” on Netflix? So gooooddddd…
Second is Leandra Medine because she totally gets me even though we’ve never met. I’m such a creep. I kind of jacked up her eyes in the drawing though.
Little known fact about me is that I’ve been obsessed with Martha Stewart since I was a kid. I love her super dry sense of humor and come on, it’s a dream dinner party. Obviously Martha would be cooking!
Now, I know this is a curve ball but don’t you think Dr. Ruth would be an amazing dinner party guest?!? She was interviewed by Nate Berkus in his book and I thought she was so interesting (her parents were taken by the Nazis!) and for the lack of a better word, darling.
In my middle and high school years I was HUGE fan of TLC shows. What Not to Wear was one I watched a lot. I adored Stacy London. Recently she was on the Man Repeller Podcast with Leandra Medine and it was pure gold to my ears. I hate that I made her look like Boy George though.
Finally, Tamron Hall gets invited because she’s my favorite Today Show host and was best friends with Prince, duh.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with these first ten drawings. I’m not going to frame any of them or anything but it was good practice. I had fun thinking of who I would invite and searching for the perfect image of them. I surprised myself some and sometimes I just had to move on… such is life! Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?
My next ten drawings I’m picking street style photos and changing up my process some. Stay tuned for the next ten!
:: TV Show :: I started watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix on a whim. Now I want to erase my mind and keep watching it over and over again. There are so many weird things that the British bake that we’ve never heard of in the US of A. So it’s educational too. Desserts and English quirk, that’s all I need in a show these days.
:: Recipe :: Okay, so I was inspired by the The Great British Baking Show and decided I was going to make scones. I’ve never made scones before but I consider myself a decent baker. I made these Strawberries and Cream Scones and they were perfectly sweet and fluffy and most importantly easy. If you’ve never had a scone before they are kind of like sweet biscuits. I ate mine with tea because I’m basically British now.
:: Book :: I’ve been making a habit to read for 30-ish minutes before bed this year. I read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life this month. This book is very thoughtful and has great insight on feeling in control of your creativity– whatever your creative outlet may be. Twyla offers a lot of advice/exercises on pushing your creativity and also what to do if you feel stuck. This is a book I’ll be going back to and referencing in the future for sure.
:: Person :: I have a running list of people I’m inspired by and my most recent person is Jenny Walton. I saw her mentioned in a blog post on people to follow on Instagram a few months ago and started following her. Since then I’ve seen her pop up all over the place. She’s a fashion illustrator and just all around cool stylish girl. So you know, EXACTLY WHO I WANT TO BE.
:: Video :: I feel like the 90s is my wheelhouse for dance moves. I don’t have enough booty or dexterity to twerk really. So, I was super pumped when Greg sent me this 90s Dance compilation video. Needless to say we paused and practiced every dance move until we got it right. Also, it’s great entertainment for parties and other get-togethers. I’m speaking from experience so trust me.
:: Clothing :: Speaking of the 90s… my favorite item of clothing this month has been my jean jacket. It’s true what they say, it’s so versatile! I’ve actually had my jacket for a few years and just recently that I’ve been wearing it so much. Jean jackets are perfect for the enamel pin trend too, show off your flair!
:: Makeup :: In the past year or so I’ve really embraced makeup (ha, why does that seem so weird to say?). I watch youtube videos ALL THE TIME and have really stepped up my game (hello liquid eye liner). One product that I think is worth the money and hype is Lorac PRO Palette eyeshadows. They are like BUT-TER, so creamy and smooth to blend. This palette has a great variety of wearable colors too.
:: Blog :: I have been a big fan of Bri Embry’s blog DesignLoveFest for a long time. Recently she’s changed up her posts and format and I am loving it. In particular I’m loving the Magic 8 Ball posts. I love a good round up of things and these post are so visually pleasing and just plain cool. “It is certain” you are going to like them too.
:: Quote :: Now, this is a philosophy I can get behind.
Pray tell me, what have you been loving? Oh, and if you’ve made it this far in the post… you should TOTALLY put your email address in the little box in the sidebar. I’m going to send you cool things FO’ FREE.
One Friday earlier in January Greg and I went to a favorite spot in our neighborhood, Hot Box, for dinner. As we were walking up to the airstream trailer to order (yes, really) I noticed a twenty dollar bill on the ground. I Asked the people around if it was theirs. No one claimed it. Mine! So, I used it to pay for our meal. Awesome, right? (Image above by me)
Two days later we went to The Summit to shop for Greg a new pair of jeans. As we were walking back to my car a delivery truck passed and we heard something fall out. We turned around to look and Greg says, “It’s meat!” We saw a car coming towards it so we had to decide right then what we were going to do… (Image)Obviously we stopped the car so that we could pick up TEN POUNDS OF FRESH GROUND BEEF that literally fell from the sky. Thanks Evans Meats! Do you know how much ground beef is going for per pound these days?! They happen to supply some of the nicest restaurants in town so you know it’s good quality. (Image)Two weeks later on a Saturday, Greg was scrolling through Facebook. He saw a post from one of our favorite venues, Iron City, about a surprise Blake Shelton concert that night. Normally you wouldn’t think of either of us as Blake Shelton fans but I am a big Gwen Stefani fan. Iron City was giving away free tickets to the first 1300 people that showed up RIGHT THEN… (Image)
We contemplated for about two minutes and decided it would be a fun time because Blake is funny and I might get to see Gwen in real life. We jumped in the car and made it to Iron City eighteen minutes after the post… (Image)
There was no line and we were about the 50th people to get tickets. Thirty minutes later there was a line around the building and people were getting turned away. We didn’t see Gwen but we still had a great time. I mean, we would never pay for Blake Shelton tickets anyway. (Image)
Be mindful, be present, be in the moment y’all. It also helps to be a little shameless. You never know what you will find. Be on the look out. (Image)
Here I am at the beginning of another year older. It’s better than the alternative. Aging is a weird thing. At times I feel so young (I’m ONLY 31 for goodness sake!). Then other times I feel like I haven’t done/accomplished enough and it’s too late for me to catch up and OMG WRINKLES, GREY HAIR! What I have learned though in my 31 years is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and a positive outlook can go a long way. With that being said, I thought it would be fun to list out 30 good things that I am grateful for (big and small) since my last birthday. Here we go…
(In no particular order)
- Cooked a lot of great meals regularly
- Made new friends
- Finished my 5th year teaching
- Bought a house
- Had a much needed restful trip to the mountains with friends
- Had a few snow days spent at home
- Had a 30th birthday party with a lot of friends and fun
- Kept most of my plants alive (this is really a feat)
- Picked up some new hobbies
- Had a lot of visitors to our new house
- Had family willing and able to help with said house
- Spent spring break with my nephew, Coy (and Kellie and JR!)
- Had the opportunity to hang out with incredible kids
- Made art and designed things for friends and me
- Hosted a family Thanksgiving
- Celebrated Greg’s first year being completely freelance
- Celebrating with friends on the adoption of their children
- Still have 3 healthy puppies
- Invited everyone we know to a Christmas party and they (mostly) showed up!
- Visited new places (Idaho, Salt Lake, Yellowstone, Tetons, Jekyll Island)
- High-fived my my main man of seven years
- Had many casual dinner parties with friends
- Had meaningful family time with both mine and Greg’s
- Honed my antiques shopping skills
- Spent time with extended family like never before
- Laughed a whole lot more than I cried
- Grew creatively
- Tried new things (like syphoned coffee for example)
- Fell in love with sunsets
- Chose to be happy
There are many more things and this list could go on forever (like when I took a picture with a goat). But these were the best of the best things that happened in the past year. It was fun to relive them for a moment. It’s also encouraging to know no matter happens this year I will have things to be thankful for next year (Lord willing!).
Finally, the moment I have been waiting for for half my life has arrived: to decorate my very own house. Like every decision I have agonized over what to do. Trust me if I were a stranger to myself I would be quick, confident, and decisive. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 1/2/3/4
I’ve been collecting design inspiration for YEARS. Even before Pinterest I would keep folders on my computer of images or the real old school way with scrapbooks from design magazines. With my big moment finally here I started feeling overwhelmed with all my thoughts, wants, and inspirations. I realized I had to approach it like any graphic design work that I do for a client.
I look at a lot of interiors online. Interiors can be gorgeous and “Pinterest worthy” but not realistic. I needed to think about how I wanted to feel at home before I could decided on how I wanted things to look. For me, I want to feel cozy, relaxed, and happy. (image)
Tip :: Once you have a two to three guiding words, make a bubble map (word in the middle with arms and more bubbles of words/things you associate with that word) for each word. It helps to also have some context to what each words means to you. Cozy to me means being surrounded by things that I love and a lot of texture. Cozy to you might mean plaid and a lot of wood.
Since interior design is one of my biggest interests, I had a general idea of things I like and don’t like and what would and wouldn’t work for my life/house. I decided to start a fresh Pinterest board and went through my old one moving anything I thought would fit my feeling. 1/2/3/4/5
Tip :: If you’re thumbing through a home design magazine and see something you like, look for the designer’s name. The designer will more than likely have a website, a Pinterest page, and an Instagram where you can find more inspiration in their style. Also, most magazines these days have a Pinterest page with varied boards for different design types.
After I spent a few
days weeks pinning images I looked for what was reoccurring in the types of images I pinned. This includes colors and styles as well as finishes and textures. (image)
Tip :: Sometimes I’ll pin an image without much thought and out of instinct. When I am refining my direction I will ask myself what is it exactly that I’m drawn to in each image. It could be a wall color, a feeling, or an actual object. Getting specific is going to help you later when shopping and styling.
I looked at my common themes and started refining my inspiration searches. I also started thinking about paint colors and accent colors. You know, the fun stuff! Above is my guiding mood board. I love black and white but I knew I couldn’t live in a black and white house (especially since I have three dogs). I also crave warmth but I don’t like warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows). I decided to find warm neutrals, a touch of warm blue-green, natural textures/elements, and mixed metals. I have incorporated a little bit of dark blue here and there. I think I’ll do another post on how I chose my paint colors. I have a lot to say! 1/2/3/4/5/6
Tip :: It helps to be familiar with some interior design styles and words. If you’re not sure there are all sorts of quizzes online like this one and this round up of seven to help you. Once you can associate some words with your style you can do more targeted searches for inspiration and shopping. I’m drawn to Midcentury Modern and Warm Industrial with a touch of Eclecticism.
It’s hard not to want to buy everything at once. I have to continually remind myself that it’s a process and there is no real “finish.” I made a list in order of importance. First on the list was paint. It’s the easiest thing to do to make the biggest impact. When making my list I thought about the things that would make a difference first in my everyday life. For me, this was rugs. I continue to work this way through my never ending list. (image)
Tip :: When shopping don’t lose sight of the feel and style you want. I might be tempted to buy a neon pink dachshund statue but it’s not going to work with what I’ve got going on already. Most of the time if you buy only things you love (and need) they will work out but keep your plan in the back of your mind or literally in pictures on your phone.
I hope through sharing my process I can help you figure out your own domaine. I’m not an interior designer by degree or trade but it is something I have been interested in for a long time. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to help you with anything. I would be glad to do so!
Two and a half years ago I moved from my apartment into what was my great grandparent’s home in the same neighborhood my dad grew up (and my grandparents live). I’ve dreamed about having my own house since I was in middle school. I finally felt I was ready and got serious looking. I knew I wanted to stay in the neighborhood of Crestwood, have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a fenced in backyard, and space for a gym.
Since I really wanted to stay in Crestwood, the looking was slow. Everything I found was a little out of my price range or in my price range but with one bathroom or just not “right.” I was to the point of abandoning my search when Greg mentioned I should look at the unsuspecting house at the end of the street. I never really considered it for some reason. I figured it would be out of my price range and what house for sale has NO PICTURES ONLINE. Long story short I looked at it on a Wednesday and was under contract by Saturday. May 1st we closed and were all moved in by May 3rd.
The house is 1400 sq ft with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pretty large fenced in backyard, and a big basement with a finished room (right now a bedroom for Greg’s sister, Calli). The space is definitely efficient, no square footage is wasted. It was built in 1957 and has original hardwood floors through out. We have the most amazing view. The house sits at the top of a steep hill. There are 24 large steps to get to the front porch steps and Greg has to mow the yard in cleats. I get to enjoy the sunset every day.
Despite all of it’s awesome points of fitting everything on my “must have” list there have been some hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t consider my house a “fixer upper” but at times it has felt that way. The house was a rental for about twenty or so years but has been vacant for the past few. So it hadn’t had the daily use like other houses and problems have revealed themselves as we have lived in it.
We have had every kind of maintenance man out including a/c repair, gutter, plumbing, electric, and gas. In one week a tree fell on our house and a branch went straight through to the bedroom ceiling, we had to replace the air conditioner, and my parents came to demo the kitchen. Oh, and the basement flooded every time it rained.
I have already learned so much about homeownership and buying a house. Now that we are almost six months in I haven’t cried in weeks or dreaded what was going to go wrong day to day. I have about half the rooms painted and our kitchen remodel is thiiissssss close to being complete (Thanks Dad!). There is still an ever growing to do list but things are pretty good. In the next post or two I’m going to be sharing some of my inspirations for decorating my house and what I’ve done so far. Stay tuned!
In June I got to travel to Salt Lake City, Idaho, and Yellowstone Park. It was kind of random but totally fun.
Greg (my boyfriend) works for a non-profit called On River Time. On River Time takes abused and neglected children fly fishing in Idaho on the Snake River. On the trip this year were sixteen kids from Big Oak Ranch and a ranch out in Texas as well as ORT’s director’s eight-year-old son — my reason for going this year!
The kids fly into Jackson Hole but Greg and I flew into Salt Lake City and drove to Irwin, Idaho from there. The drive is about four hours but when the speed limits are 75 it doesn’t quite take that long. We stopped at the most picturesque rest stop ever.
While in Idaho, the kids had two full days of fly fishing on the river. While they were fishing and Greg was working, I was hanging out with my buddy Ben. We played games, annoyed Greg, and ate Cheetos.
Each night when the kids got back from fishing all day we had dinner together and hung out afterwards. One of the days the kids worked on making a fire pit for the lodge. We had a bonfire and s’mores that night. I ended up with s’mores in my hair but whatever!
The last day of the ORT trip is a visit to Yellowstone. It’s about a three hour ride from the lodge. IT IS SO AMAZING Y’ALL. It’s hard to fathom how expansive it is. I really wanted to see a moose which didn’t happen.
We went to “Artist Point” and had the most incredible view of a waterfall. The colors were beautiful on the cliffs. No wonder it is a popular spot for artists (Fun Fact: There is a painting at the Birmingham Museum of Art exactly the view where Greg and I took a picture!).
Early the next morning the kids were flying out of Jackson Hole. On the way there we stopped at a hotel in the Grand Tetons for dinner. Let me be real, the Tetons ARE SO GRAND. This is what I’ve always imagined mountains looking like. They are “young” mountains so they are still all pointy and gorgeously snow capped.
We drove back to the lodge for the night and headed to Salt Lake the next day. Whenever Greg and I are passing through a city or take a detour for the day we pick out a good place to eat (Yelp or recommendation) and one or two things to do/see. We basically had 4-5 hours to explore the city before heading to ‘burbs to stay with Greg’s aunt and uncle before we left the following day.
A girl we met at the lodge recommended a place called The Copper Onion so that’s where we went (SLC isn’t known for their food apparently) after we did a driving tour around downtown. It was a nice place with outdoor seating. Definitely “trendy.” We were both pleased and surprised with our meals. I got their ricotta dumplings which were flavorful and interesting. Since coffee is our drug we went to this coffee place Greg stopped by last year when he was passing through called caffe d’bolla.
They are one of about a handful of places that use the Japanese hot infusion siphon method in the country. The owner went to Japan and studied it there and is considered the best in the nation at this method. It takes about 20 minutes to get your coffee. He told us all about the history and process. Basically it looks like he’s making you meth. We were instructed we could only drink it black and it had to be from a particular kind of cup to get the best flavor. Greg and I ordered different origin coffees and had different wait times on drinking it. It was crazy and delicious and one cup was $10.
We only had about an hour left and we decided to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah because we thought it would be most representative of SLC. Since we were limited on time we chose three exhibits to go through: Extreme Mammals, Past Worlds, and First Peoples. It is a really cool museum and full of Utah history. The museum is super nice. It was recently built at this location at the University of Utah. I definitely want to go back when we have more time.
This was a really cool trip and not one I would have planned on my own but I think that made it extra special. The time Greg and I had with the kids from Big Oak was my favorite part. I can’t tell you enough how awesome On River Time and Big Oak Ranch are for our community. I also can’t tell you enough how incredible the kids are despite their beginning circumstances. It blows my mind. Each one has an incredibly heartbreaking story but you would never know it from their attitude and outlook. It’s amazing and John Croyle and his family are inspirational.
*If you follow Auburn and Alabama football you know the Croyle’s. John played during the Bear Bryant era. I cheered at Auburn in 2005-2006 when his son, Brody was quarterback for Alabama. This was my first time meeting Brody and after chatting with him for a while I nonchalantly mentioned we had been on the same field together. He was surprised and confused and then I told him I cheered at Auburn. It hit him and he gave me a look and said “Was that ‘Fear the Thumb’ year?” That was the year we beat Alabama six times in a row and Brody was sacked fourteen times (they made bumper stickers that said “Honk if you’ve sacked Brody Croyle”). I acted all coy and was like “Yeah, I guess it was.” We laughed about it. He did tell me there have only been two games in his life that he wanted to be transported out of and that was one of them (the other was the last pro game he started in). Brody is a good sport and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.