okinawa japan

best of 2015

2015 has been quite the year. There have been ups and downs and some more ups. So in honoring #brassblossom tradition (my Best of 2014) and listening to some very wise words from one of my greatest confidants, here is what I consider to be the best of the best of 2015, because when it is all said and done there were a whole lot of bests!

1. best personal achievement – actually going to grad school. This past year I was going to Graduate School at the University of Washington, then I deferred for a year, then with about two months to figure it all out I decided to go again. This was a very “un-Taylor” thing to do but I managed to throw it all together and make it work. It wasn’t always pretty, involved several frantic calls and quite a few tears but I’m not homeless, I love school and I’m so happy that I have found a new normal. So cheers to being a Ducksky (Duck + Husky = ??) and making it work!

beautiful seattle skyline

beautiful seattle skyline

go ducks!

go ducks!

2. best words of wisdom – do you. I can’t even remember where the wisdom of “do you” actually came to me from. But it’s pretty simple. Just “do you.” When things really suck, or when things are frantic and everything is spinning out of control or when all is peachy remember “do you.” It has been my mantra for most of the year and I constantly remind myself that I can’t be anyone worthwhile to myself or anyone else if I don’t “do” myself first. Especially when you don’t know which way is up, just simply focusing on yourself and how you can serve yourself and make yourself be who YOU want to be gives you a fighting chance. Just do what serves your soul, your needs and our unmet desires at that time. Because no one else can do it for you. At least in my highly valuable opinion….

IMG_6060

3. best recipe – homemade ice-cream cake. There are few ways to describe this homemade ice-cream cake that don’t involve swearing due to shear enthusiasm. Point being this cake is phenomenal, it’s so easy to make and will knock the socks off of everyone who has the pleasure of laying their lusting eyes on it. Make it! I promise you wont regret it!

so nom nom nom

so nom nom nom

4. best book – dear sugar. By far the best book I read this year was Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. It is a book of advice letters and even when you totally cannot in the slightest way relate to the person who is seeking advice, you will get something if not everything out of the stories and advice. Cheryl Strayed speaks directly to your soul in such a frank way. She manages to sum up life, the universe and everything in her words.

9k=

5. best trip – okinawa, japan. Hands down the most fabulous adventure I was lucky enough to take this year was to the Okinawa islands in Japan with my cousin and aunt. We had an incredible time wandering, exploring and not being able to speak or understand a word of Japanese. Plus there were lots of handstands so you cant go wrong with that. There were so many laughs and I cant tell you how happy I am to have such great travel buddies in my life! 

IMG_0103

you can yoga even in japan

IMG_0107

two of the best travel buddies!

two of the best travel buddies!

6. best adventure – mount borah. Hands down, climbing/hiking/scaling the side of the mountain on Mount Borah was my favorite hike of the year. It was humbling, pretty scary at times, incredible to sit at almost the top and enjoy some Bri and champagne and extremely frightening how sunburnt we all got. By far the best #brassblossom adventure in Idaho!

cheers to almost the top!

cheers to almost the top!

so close to the sky

so close to the sky

IMG_1675

7. best clothing buy – j.crew jumpsuit. Once again my favorite purchase of the year was a jumpsuit, this j.crew jumpsuit to be exact. I just love jumpsuits. Like really, really, really love jumpsuits. I keep thinking about branching out from my jumpsuit obsession but I mean you just can’t go wrong with a jumpsuit for any occasion (except if you have to pee really badly…then things get dicey). So I have decided that life is too short so I might as well just continue to adore jumpsuits.

IMG_3916

<3

8. best beauty buy – clarisonic. I was given a Clarisonic by my wonderful aunt (who thus far has made the list twice!) for my birthday and I am obsessed with it. I use it daily in the shower and relish the minute of using it. I was actually disgusted at apparently how bad I am at washing my face after I used the brush after washing my face one night and got so much grossness on it. So if you’re looking for a clean face in 2016 get a Clarisonic.

so fresh and so clean!

so fresh and so clean!

love the color

love the color

9. best local find – idaho dreaming dreamcatcher. I searched high and low for a dream catcher this year to bring only sweet dreams to the boy, Maude Pod and I. And I ironically found the perfect one so close to home. This Idaho Dreaming Dream Catcher was by far my favorite purchase of the year. And since you all need a dream catcher for a stellar 2016, make sure to check out their Etsy Shop for the dream catcher of your dreams!

IMG_5090

love everything about this

love everything about this

10. best party – game dinner 2015. The Game Dinner 2015 that Krista hosted this Spring was my favorite party of the year. There was a TON of game meat, good food and lots of giggles had by all. But really why it was my favorite party (other than the slew of antlers that decorated the table and ribbon chandelier that created the perfect juxtaposition of feminine and masculine) was the fact that it was the first time that life seemed to resemble what it once had been, in a new normal kinda way. We were all surrounded by pure love and it truly brought new meaning to friends that are family. 

the boys <3

the boys ❤

the table

the table

the chandelier

the chandelier

11. best craft – diy wooden banner. I just love a good craft project and this DIY Wooden Banner was by far my favorite project. Perhaps it was because it had a bit of sentimental value to me but making wooden banners to express some love and cheer because one of my favorite things to do. Plus using a wood burner makes you feel like a badass. 

IMG_0189

IMG_0372_3

12. best gift – s’well bottle. I received a s’well bottle as a birthday gift from my mom after lusting over the one that Krista had. This water bottles are pretty much amazing. They are sleek, come in fabulous colors (hello metallics!) and make sure your drink stays fresh. These bottles were definitely #brassblossom’s go to gift this year and for good reason! You won’t even regret buying one for yourself as a much deserved cheers to 2016!

IMG_8667

13. best newest additions – goats! Of course the goats made the list! I think I will forever refer to last summer as “the summer of the goats.” The goats brought so much laughter, snuggles, gallons of milk and love into our lives. So thankful for the craziness, spunk and googling of what to do with goats that they bring to our lives!

crazy goats!

crazy goats!

IMG_2427

goat selfies

goat selfies

someone loves her goat herd

someone loves her goat herd

14. best “i couldn’t live without you people” – each and everyone of you. I admit it, again this is a total stretch of a category but there have been so many friends, confidants and general strangers who give me so much strength, wisdom and room to just let my feelings out this year. I most definitely wouldn’t be standing where I am today without you all. And a very special thank you to all of my lady friends. Those are the fierce ones! So thank you for all the times you all listened, gave me the love I needed, shoveled for us, went on a hike, simply just sat in silence and gave me a push/shove in some direction, regardless of where that might be.

And the biggest best “i couldn’t live without you…” to my wonderful mother who manages to be the most loving and steadfast person I know. She manages the most unlikely of tasks and always puts me back together. I hope to one day be a slightly more organized, half of the woman that she is. ❤

IMG_9629

IMG_9778

the hunters do clean up nice
IMG_6954

15. best boy – the boy. Ughhhh, so cheesy but I just have to say it. The boy wins the year for being the most outrageous, stubborn, indomitable, kinda want to sucker punch him sometimes for being crazy, greathearted boy around. I wrote last year that we had an incredible 2014 and little did we know but 2015 was just going to one up us. So cheers to another year of having the boy by my side, healthy and happy new ventures, many more Maude Pod and goat kisses and a fabulous 2016!

IMG_2115

IMG_9167

my loves ❤

2016 life goals: 

Like the past couple of years, I continued my 2015 goal list on my iPhone notes. I love the fact that these “notes” go with me everywhere and can be altered, added to or checked off with a selfie high-five at a moments notice. All in all I feel like I did pretty well for my 2015 goals despite the craziness. But moving forward I want to refocus my goal setting…

I heard an amazing sentiment in hot yoga this last week that I want to bring with my into the New Year. It was the idea of using the Winter and Summer equinox as a time to reset. So with the first day of the days growing longer or shorter you begin working towards whatever your heart desires. Then you progressively work more towards whatever that is so it’s a progression. Aka: you don’t have to be perfect at the beginning of your resolution.

But besides reading more books for pleasure and mastering my handstand, what I want to channel in 2016 as the days get longer are the “four agreements”. I heard about the four agreements from a wise soul and feel like they are just what my 2016 “life goals” need. I need to read up more on the agreements but below are the agreements that I hope to continually refocus on in 2016!

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and joyous New Year. Cheers to 2016!

taylor brass

brass blossom

okinawa islands, japan – the edge of the world

When my aunt invited me to tag along to Japan (specifically to the Okinawa Islands) with her and my cousin about four weeks before the departure date my first thought was, “there is absolutely no way I can make that work.” But after looking at a few flights and day dreaming of being transported to spectacular beaches at the other side of the world I just decided to make it work. Literally the only thing stopping me from going was myself.

And after the beginning of this year I decided a little break wouldn’t be half bad for me. I will probably never be one of those carefree people that throws everything to the wind and just goes with life. I like to plan. I like to plan the future. Or plan it as much as possible that is. I’ve also concluded that it’s okay to be a bit of a crazy, OCD, planner. It’s okay to like (slash love) to plan and have somewhat of an f-ing idea of what I want to happen. It’s okay as long as I’m open to the flexibility of those plans changing.

So in the end I decided I was just going to Japan, if not only for a bit of a brain break from my life, but also to just try to be present. So that is what I did. I went to Japan and attempted to let go. To let go of all of the planning, to let go of living in the future, to let go of living in the past and to let go of all the anger that I feel towards the world for the cruelty that happens everyday.

And when it was all said and done I would say I did a pretty good job. I wasn’t always present or not crazy with anger but I was there. And I tried to live every moment for just being there and being grateful for a new place, a new culture and a new point in life (literally and emotionally).

So here is a look at our INCREDIBLE trip (without any more self realization talk)!

off to japan!

off to japan!

the people. I cannot think of two better travel companions to go to the edge of the world with than my aunt, Heidi, and cousin, Kailey. Kailey was slowly making her way back to the states after being overseas for 9 months. She is now a PADI dive master after mastering all that diving business under the water in Thailand. She also has a tan that most would kill for. Can we all say jealous? And my aunt. She has always been there for me but in the past months has been one of those people that I know I can rely on. She is like a whirling combination of caring, empathy, reasonable and humorous that never stops moving forward. Both also happen to be great travelers.

Another wonderful part of these two ladies are the laughs. There were so many laughs and fits of hysteria had by all of us during our trip. A laugh a day definitely keeps the doctor away.

heidi & i surrounded by the clearest, turquoise water i have ever seen

heidi & i surrounded by the clearest, turquoise water i have ever seen

IMG_0106

IMG_0107

refreshing afternoon drinks in taketomi

refreshing afternoon drinks in taketomi (we were asked to take a picture with a lovely japanese lady, who sat smack dab in the middle of us, shortly after….)

IMG_0482_2

IMG_0483

IMG_0488

trucker hats have infiltrated the furthest reach of the world

trucker hats have infiltrated the furthest reaches of the world

IMG_0557

IMG_0796

please take note of my whiteness in comparison to the best tan i have ever seen

love these ladies

love these ladies

IMG_0825

idaho friends in japan (obviously)

idaho friends in japan (obviously)

IMG_0917

IMG_9810_2

IMG_9910_2

the hottub that was never hot...

the hottub that was never hot…

 

9 months of luggage

9 months of luggage

IMG_0479

the places. Japan. Japan is a new world. I have traveled through Europe and the Americas but Asia, never Asia. I flew from Sun Valley to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Okinawa. I was extremely surprised by the number of Americans on my flight to and from Okinawa (there is a ginormous base on the northern part of the island). Heidi and Kailey arrived a bit after I did and we made our way by bus a bit north on Okinawa to the Western side of the islands. We were tempted by a magnificent hotel and white sand beach.

But after arriving we realized that this hotel was not quite our dream. It was a very large hotel and very infiltrated with knick-knacks and large crowds. It was an adventurous night and we decided to book tickets to Ishigaki the following day. Ishigaki is a part of a smaller set of islands about an hour flight south-west from Okinawa. Rumor has it you can see parts of Taiwan from the islands. While in Ishigaki we stayed at the most magnificent place (after a bit of a miss booking when we booked a hotel in the middle of nowhere with a view of an alley). Side note: booking hotels is hard in Japan. Websites will say every single last room is booked when it looks like no one is at the hotel. Either everyone rolls in on a tour bus later in the evening (which is entirely possible) or the rooms are held by Japanese websites. A little planning of where you want to stay is reasonable if you are considering going to the Okinawa Islands.

Ishigaki and the surrounding islands literally felt like the edge of the world. We rented bikes that were a bit used (to say the least) and explored Ishigaki port one day. We also scooted over to Taketomi by ferry and explored for the day by bike. Taketomi was by far my favorite place of the trip. It has a village with about 300 inhabitants. The roads of made of crushed coral and wide enough for a water-buffalo cart. The island has spectacular turquoise water, white sand beaches with star sand and apparently hundreds of deadly spiders and snakes, none of which we encountered thanks to some lucky stars. If you ever find yourself on Okinawa you must go to Ishigaki and Taketomi. You will not regret it.

And our last night we stayed back on Okinawa by the airport and went out with some Idaho friends. We had a great dinner followed by karaoke singing in a closed bar, with Mana-sans and Tokito, that our Idaho friends had been to before. We were given copious amounts of chips, strawberries and tomatoes, chocolate and sake. If that’s not a great way to end an incredible vacation then I don’t know what is.

IMG_1120

IMG_1124

beach for days

beach for days

star stand from taketomi (we had high hopes of collecting our own sand until we saw a nice man with some for sale!)

star stand from taketomi (we had high hopes of collecting our own sand until we saw a nice man with some for sale!)

the cutest little bar/drink shack in taketomi village

the cutest little bar/drink shack in taketomi village

IMG_0271

bike parking

bike parking

IMG_0329_2

the hotel in ishigaki (it may or may not have been owned by the japanese mafia)

the hotel in ishigaki (it may or may not have been owned by the japanese mafia)

IMG_0477

IMG_0568

IMG_0651

 

IMG_0677

IMG_0697

 

exploring at low tide

exploring at low tide

we were kindly given slippers upon entering our room

we were kindly given slippers upon entering our room

shoes off, slippers on = very japanese of us

shoes off, slippers on = very japanese of us

ishigaki street market

ishigaki street market

IMG_0892

IMG_0893_3

 

IMG_9926_2

chairs wear socks in japan

chairs wear socks in japan

the world peace bell in ishigaki for a non-nuclear world

the world peace bell in ishigaki for a non-nuclear world

IMG_0908_3

IMG_0907

our handy companion bikes

our handy companion bikes

IMG_0921

mongrove forests

mangrove forests

IMG_1021

IMG_1060

IMG_1047

IMG_9747_2

the edge of the world

the edge of the world

 

the new friends. We made a ton of new friends in Japan. Upon arriving on Ishigaki there was significantly less English spoken. But we got by quite fine. Most people tended to look at us like we were possibly the three craziest, whitest ladies that they had ever seen and I think most questioned how we had gotten so far without a lick of Japanese or a clue of what we were doing. But we didn’t let that stop us.

We quickly realized that the Japanese are very reserved and quiet. We were likely neither. There were very few public displays of emotion that we encountered. But after starting to say “hi” to locals that we passed on our bikes most of the locals would literally light up and give us the most genuine and beautiful smiles. Interacting with little to no verbal communication was literally one of my favorite parts of the day. Imagine the hotel clerk who also cleaned the windows and the pool, gardened and bartended, depicting a water buffalo with his hands and head after we told him we were going to Taketomi. How can that not be a highlight of your day?

Here are the many friends we made along the way!

a horse with an afro at the edge of the world

a horse with an afro at the edge of the world

 

water buffalo are friends too

water buffalo are friends too

 

water buffalo are friends, not food

water buffalo are friends, not food

IMG_0349

IMG_0351

IMG_0356

IMG_1074

i asked in english if i could ride with him, he didn't respond so i gestured and everyone laughed (how all communication went in japan)

i asked in english if i could ride with him, he didn’t respond so i gestured and everyone laughed (story of how all communication went in japan)]

IMG_0382

goat friends!

goat friends!

 

dive master friends who happened to be sitting at our table at dinner

dive master friends who happened to be sitting at our table at dinner

IMG_0530_2

dogs that sit at the entrance of most buildings as protection

dogs that sit at the entrance of most buildings as protection

IMG_1049

 

hermit crabs are friends too

hermit crabs are friends too

tony noodle taking a peak

tony noodle taking a peak…

tony noodle how apparently is a japanese comedian who worked on a spanish fishing boat and was in lonely planet...

tony noodle who apparently is a japanese comedian who worked on a spanish fishing boat and was in lonely planet…

IMG_0937

idaho friends

idaho friends

the food. I am self admittedly a picky eater. The boy tells me frequently I’m picky and I prefer to respond that I just know what I like. Which I do. I like fresh fruits, vegetables, some grains, beans, tea and coffee, lots of coffee. It’s not a bad diet but definitely not the Japanese diet. For someone that hasn’t eaten meat (or fish) for over 12 years, everything tasted a bit fishy in Japan. But I just went with it and tried to be as accommodating as possible of my crazy, freak eating habits.

Japan has quite possibly the most beautiful fruits and vegetables you will ever see. The Okinawa Islands are famous for having the longest living inhabitants. This fact is quite understandable as they just eat the most amazing fresh produce, fish, sweet potatoes, seaweed and a bit of rice. That right there is the diet of champions. We visited several markets on the islands and each time were met by beautiful, clean and clearly not GMO/hormone/antibiotic ridden fresh fruits and vegetables. Most even had baked sweet potatoes for a to-go snack. (Side note: it was clearly not a social custom to munch on the sweet potato as you shop and then pay for it…). However, like the rest of the world Japan has a TON of pre-packaged food. Almost to a point of insane consumerism. We chose to focus on the fresh food instead and feasted like champions…

breakfast of champions with the most incredible view

breakfast of champions with the most incredible view

the only food to be found at 'family mart' that wasn't pre-packaged were giant, crunchy carrots

the only food to be found at ‘family mart’ that wasn’t pre-packaged were giant, crunchy carrots

IMG_0452_2

the most amazing ginger-ale

the most amazing ginger-ale

IMG_0500

IMG_0653

starbucks is everywhere

starbucks is everywhere

you hand the barista a "soy" card in japan for your drink

you hand the barista a “soy” card in japan for your drink

coffee machine?

coffee machine that was literally on every corner next to a beer machine

IMG_0888_3

never enough coffee

never enough coffee

IMG_9782_2

IMG_9783_2

a feast we prepared

a feast we prepared

IMG_9919

IMG_9921_2

 

broke out the translator for our last night in okinawa

broke out the translator for our last night in okinawa

the best beer ever from our hotel clerk friend

the best beer ever from our hotel clerk friend

the handstands. So many handstands were had. Kailey has a bit of an inversion to being inverted (understandable). She is more of an underwater hand-stander. So Heidi and I did handstands all over Japan. I’m certain the locals thought we were insane. But it provided a great new perspective and a bit of fun to be had literally everywhere we went. We are now both on a mission to master the handstand.

IMG_0133

IMG_0151

IMG_0159

IMG_0171

IMG_0208

IMG_0663

handstand succession fail to follow....

handstand succession fail to follow….

IMG_0683

IMG_0684

IMG_0639

IMG_0297

If you happen to ever venture the world of Okinawa, Japan please feel free to contact me! Also huge thanks and enormous gratitude to my aunt and cousin for letting me tag along to the edge of the world. I can’t think of anyone else I would have rather shared the time, laughs, sore butts and adventures with. Love you both!

And I will leave you with some wise words from Tony Noodle:

IMG_9864

taylor brass

brass blossom

weekend love it – japan jet lag & indulgences

This past week has been a whirlwind. I got back from Japan (more about that to come) just in time to have one day to get organized and then I was back to work and a busy week full of indulgences. I had family in town and felt a bit insatiable when it came to food and social events this week. I also felt a bit out of it (probably due to jet lag, but I can’t really complain since I was in Japan!) all week so I plan on getting a bit more R&R and healthiness in this week.

Here is everything that I have been loving!

1. japan. My trip to Japan was incredible. But how could it have been anything less than incredible with amazing company, adventuring with no real destination, slight culture shock and a bit of sunshine? As amazing as all of those things were I think the best part about Japan was simply living in the moment of where I was. More about my travels in a post to come.

Here are a few photos as a tease!

new places, new friends

new places, new friends

IMG_0093

IMG_0103

IMG_0356

IMG_0483

handstanding all over the world

handstanding all over the world

IMG_0651

2. orange is the new black. When Season Two of Orange is the New Black came out last summer, I binged watch the entire season in like two days. I saw no sunshine, no social events and pretty much ignored the boy for a solid two days for just one more episode. And it was worth it.

I am ecstatic about Season Three coming out June 12th and have blacked out my calendar for another binge watching extravaganza. Anyone is welcome. Bring snacks. Believe me, if you get past the first episode you will likely give up your first born for just one more episode.

3. beautiful ruins. I received Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter a few months ago when I was pretty much incapable of focusing on anything. I recently got around to picking it up and adored this book. It isn’t really a strenuous read but keeps you engaged with all of the different story lines. It is definitely a good summer read and leaves you with that feel-good feeling.

BeautifulRuins_small-330

4. kentucky derby & hats. I have always genuinely liked the Kentucky Derby. I don’t really like horses or horse racing in general but I do quite like the Kentucky Derby. Maybe it’s the hype of the event and all of those hats or maybe it’s the hope of rooting for the underdog (c’mon, everyone loved Seabuiscuit), but I get giddy for the event each year.

This year, our good friend Abbey hosted a birthday celebration for the main man in her life that coincided with the Kentucky Derby. Derby attire was optional but obviously Krista and I went all out and created some diy derby-inspired hats to wear. Unfortunately I missed the actual derby but celebrated in style and enjoyed some sunshine, a fabulous dinner and birthday cheer. Happy birthday, Zac!

diy derby hats

diy derby hats

sunshine & horses

sunshine & horses

love these ladies

love these ladies

dysfunction

the crowning

IMG_1005

happy birthday zac!

happy birthday, zac!

5. royal baby. Like the Kentucky Derby, I am kinda obsessed with the Royal Family for no particular reason. Everyone needs several guilty pleasures in life. I pretty much think Duchess Kate is the definition of perfect, so her passing-on her perfection essentially ensures I can be obsessed with another generation of royalty and leave the baby making up to William and Kate.

I adored Kate’s going home dress and cannot wait to find out the name of the little Princess (I wrote this before the name was announced and absolutely love Charlotte Elizabeth Diana)! Also the Princess happened to be born on the 17th Anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. That pretty much puts her at number one in my book.

Lindo_kate_eddie_p_3289551b

perfection

6. hot yoga. In an attempt to get back into somewhat of a routine, I have gotten back into hot yoga the past two weekends. I hadn’t gone to hot yoga for four months (which was far too long) and didn’t necessarily miss it. But the second I got back on the mat in the heat I remembered why I love it and need it. I love the heat, the humidity and the zen. Even though most people look at you with the most uncomfortable look on their face when you invite them to hot yoga, it’s a wonderful place.

I would encourage you all to give it at least a few chances, because the first class is slightly unbearable. But I honestly think it is a state of mind because I have grown to be addicted to practicing while sweating profusely. After each class I feel cleansed, cleared and ready to take on the world (or just about).

you can yoga even in japan

a little yoga in japan

taylor brass

brass blossom

weekend love it – globe trotting & gratitude

I have super exciting news. Like take a seat news. I am off to Okinawa, Japan. Yay!! I slightly hinted about my upcoming travels in my last weekend love it (because I just couldn’t resist) and have pretty much been thinking and talking about Japan since I booked my ticket.

Spontaneous would likely never be a word anyone would use to describe me. But when my aunt invited me to tag along to Okinawa with her and my cousin I just couldn’t say no. One thing that I have come to terms with this year (and not willingly) is that life keeps keeping on regardless of if you are on board. Four months ago I imagined I would be prepping binders and color-coded folders for grad school and not jet setting off to Japan for the vacation of a lifetime. But life happens. I don’t know if I will ever go as far to say I’m blessed to have experienced what has happened thus far in 2015 but I will say that I am gracious. I am gracious for my current status, mindset, physical location and supposed projected course in life.

So with that exciting news out of the bag, here is what I have been loving!

1. globe trotting – okinawa, japan. Japan has not once ever been a destination that I have thought about going to. But after doing a bit of research, I literally cannot wait to touch down in Okinawa. Something else that I am looking forward to is just checking out and enjoying what our travels have to offer. I have downloaded several books, packed my bag and am just along for the ride at this point. Plus sitting on a beach with incredible company and a view that is worthy of a postcard won’t be half bad either.

A post-travel blog post will definitely be in order!

7201_01b

okinawa_map

2. yoga girl. One of my good friends who is not only brilliant but also beautiful on the inside and outside recommended that I read (and stalk) Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen after reading my last post. This friend has also been dealt her fair share of “wtf life” and come out on the other side with such an amazing soul and outlook on life (and she isn’t just all rainbows and sunshine either, which I just so appreciate, she is real life). So when she recommended this book and that I checkout Rachel Brathen on Instagram, I knew it had to be good. Maybe it’s the yoga and all the gratitude speaking but it felt like one of those signs from the universe pointing me to exactly what I needed.

So after a probably not so healthy stalking of Yoga Girl’s Instagram I ordered her book. I have thus far loved following Rachel Brathen on Instagram and reading her blog and cannot wait to dive into her book on the plane. Go follow her on Instagram (if not only for some amazing pictures) for some self love and restoration because everyone needs it at one time or another.

yoga girl by rachel braken

yoga girl by rachel brathen + white vacation nails

3. bikini. Growing up swimming competitively I have a true appreciation for swimsuits. I searched for the perfect bikini for my travels and at the last minute came across this beautyI had never heard of Khongboon Swimwear before and discovered them on Instagram (by far my favorite form of social media). I was immediately smitten by the style of their suits and the fun patterns. Think Mikoh bikinis + amazing patterns at half the price.

Unfortunately the bikini I ordered didn’t arrive in time for my trip, but a trip to Japan can simply not be ruined by a bikini. And perhaps it was for the best though as I was e-mailed just after my order shipped that the bikinis run about 1/3 size small. An exchange may be in order but I plan to wear this suit (if all goes swimmingly – pun intended!) at the pool and lake this summer.

khongboon swimwear - nerja bikini

khongboon swimwear – nerja bikini

4. four five seconds. I cannot tell you why I really like this song. I cannot even tell if I’m even embarrassed that I listen to it on repeat and don’t even know what the song means. It’s just one of those songs that resonates with me and makes me car dance and sing in a way that I should be embarrassed about. Cheers to having a guilty pleasure every once in a while.

Also I’m still confused about what part Paul McCartney plays in the song…

5. balayage. As a natural brunette I have never felt that there is much I could do with my hair without losing it’s natural color. That is until I heard about balayage. Balayage just confirms that blondes aren’t the only ones that can have fun. So I decided to drink the cool-aid and got the most fantastic, hand-painted color in my hair last week by Danielle at Vertu. For anyone looking for a little change without huge commitment I highly recommend balayage!

IMG_9548

waiting in the chair

balayage

balayage

IMG_9553

FullSizeRender

so many hair pictures

6. spring time sunny hikes. Most people love Sun Valley, Idaho for the winters. There are literally so many snow-filled activities. But I just love the summers. I would love Sun Valley summer all year long and I understand this probably offends many. One of my favorite parts about Summer is hiking. A dirt trail to somewhere breathtaking (since mostely everywhere in Idaho is breathtaking), some people or dog company and the tranquillity that comes with immersing yourself into full on wilderness (ish) is something that is difficult to beat.

I have enjoyed several hikes recently but perhaps my favorite was one that took us off trail in the general direction that we wanted to go with spectacular views of Baldy. When he summited (makes me feel like a badass to say that) we took a hot second to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures. Channeling my inner yoga girl I decided yoga on a mountain was necessary and took a hand stand. Obviously it went on Instagram and then it was miraculously retweeted by Visit Sun Valley. Cue fifteen minutes of fame.

hiking up the backside of taylor canyon

hiking up the backside of taylor canyon

maude pod posing like a good girl

maude pod posing like a good girl

IMG_8488

love these ladies!

love these ladies!

yoga on a mountain

yoga on a mountain

IMG_8540

my fifteen minutes of instagram fame

pugger walks

pugger walks

proof my pug can actually walk by herself

proof my pug can actually walk by herself

love bugs

love bugs

I am off to enjoy my travels now but I wish you all a wonderful weekend and week!

taylor brass

brass blossom