San Diego: Top 5 Must See

This summer I had the opportunity to go to San Diego (one of my favorite places in the U.S.) and I never posted about it, but this is too great of an area not to share.  If you’ve never visited San Diego, I would highly recommend it.  The weather there is amazing, and there’s tons to do.  It isn’t the cheapest place to visit, but definitely worth the time and money if you can swing it.

1.) Balboa Park – I could have easily spent a week at Balboa Park alone and still have wanted to spend more time there.  The 1200-acre park includes more than a dozen museums, several performing arts venues including the Old Globe Theatre which puts on Shakespeare and other plays and a huge outdoor pavilion which offers free organ performances during the day and free concerts during some summer evenings, nearly 20 gardens and walking trails, a Spanish artist village, and the San Diego Zoo.

My first tip is to find the information center when you get there.  I wondered around for a few hours before I came across it, and wished I had gotten a map to better plan my time when I first got there.  Many of the museums and attractions are free, but some cost money.  The information center workers are a great resource to let you know what free events are going on while you are there.  There are restaurants to eat at if you want to sit down, but there are also street vendors offering food for a low-cost option.  During parts of the year, the International Cottages give free cultural music and dance performances and sometimes on Sundays at noon offer free food.


Beautiful flowers in the rose garden.


A panorama inside the botanical building.


Inside the botanical building.


Outdoor organ pavilion.


Spanish art village.

2.) La Jolla – This is a beautiful area just north of the city to spend an afternoon.  There are plenty of places to eat and shop, but I enjoyed just walking along the cliffs and admiring the wildlife.  There are a bunch of seals and sea lions that take up habitat here, and during parts of the year even take over the swimming area that is frequented by families.


I mean, look at this view! (Notice the seals taking over the beach area)


Climbing out on the cliffs. It doesn’t look high, but the water was splashing up during the picture.


Kayakers exploring the cave and observing the sea lions.


It’s a hard knock life for a sea lion.

3.) USS Midway – This aircraft carrier is now permanently parked at Navy Pier in San Diego and has been transformed into a maritime museum.  The ship was America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier serving the entire length of the Cold War and beyond.  I did not get to explore the entire museum, but got to see some of the planes on my way up to the top deck for a party! That’s right…it’s like the biggest party barge you’ve ever been on.  I was actually in San Diego for a work conference and one of our evening events was aboard this magnificent vessel.  Talk about a great view.


A view of the Midway from Seapark Village.


One of the Marines’ planes inside the Midway.


The top deck where we had our party.

4.) Seaport Village – If you’re staying near the marina, this quaint shopping area is within walking distance.  Even if you’re not staying in that part of the city, I would recommend it for a leisurly afternoon of shopping, dining, and entertainment.  During the day this is a beautiful area to stroll with a boardwalk out by the water and a village of unique shops individualized for any souvenir you could ever want.  Some of my favorites include “The Mugger” coffee mug shop, the “For Bare Feet” sock shop, and the “Kite Flite” store.  I was there during one of the Busker Festivals, which was so much fun! Street performers everywhere.  Check their website for festival dates.

View from the boardwalk

View from the boardwalk.


photo courtesy of

5.) Tijuana – I didn’t actually get to go to Tijuana when I was in San Diego.  I had to spend countless hours in a hotel meeting room for my conference, but if I was there just for fun, this would definitely be on my top 5 list.  Pack your passport, because Tijuana is just a trolley ride away.  Take the blue line and hit the Mexico border in less than 45 minutes.

6.) BONUS – Fluxx – If you’re looking for some night life, I would suggest heading to the Fluxx nightclub.  One of our convention sponsors held an event at this club one evening, and we had the best time! The atmosphere is very dance club, but with a cool vibe.  There’s a round dance floor in the middle of the club with seating surrounding.  They have lots of different entertainment there.  I loved the electric violinist and trumpet players who jammed out while we were there.

I found my new after hours job! This girl is legit! #fluxx #nspraseminar13

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Workout to Try: Zumba Toning

I’ve been teaching Zumba Toning for about 6 months now, and I absolutely love it.  I have found, however, that many people don’t exactly know what Zumba Toning is all about.  If you’re looking for a new workout, Zumba Toning may be for you.


Good reasons to try Zumba Toning:

  1. You’ve tried Zumba basic classes, and you’re looking for a way to switch up your routine.
  2. You don’t have a lot of time, and you’re looking for a workout that includes cardio and toning.
  3. You want to start training with weights, but don’t know how to start.
  4. You like group workouts that challenge you.

Zumba Toning gives you the same dance fitness party that Zumba basic classes do, but it adds a little something extra – lightweight strength training.  Many people simply say that Zumba Toning is “Zumba with weights.”  To some degree this is true, but it’s important to note that Zumba Toning is not simply dancing with weights.  It is the addition of toning exercises within Zumba.  Proper form is important as added weights do add the risk of injury (although risk is minimal).

Zumba Toning students have the option to use Toning Sticks which are sold by Zumba Fitness in either 1 pound or 2.5 pound sets and are made with sand to make a maraca-like sound when used during class.  Students can also bring any other hand weights as long as they are under 3 pounds.  Because there is so much movement with the weights, students are limited to 3 pounds or less to reduce the risk of injury.  Don’t let this fool you, though.  Any of my students who use the 2.5 pound Toning Sticks or 3 pound weights will tell you that even this small amount makes a huge difference.

By taking Zumba Toning classes, you can strengthen muscles in your arms, core, and legs, learn proper form for training with heavier weights, and still get your cardio workout in – all while listening to great music and having a fantastic time! So, try it out…it might be your new favorite workout of 2014.

For more information on Zumba Toning classes in Alma and Dyer, AR visit my Facebook page at or my Zumba instructor page at

DIY Quick Sew Napkins

I’m back! After an extended leave (6 months…whoops) from blogging, I’ve decided to start up again.  Since the new year I’ve had several people asking about my blog, so here I am!  

To start us off in 2014, I wanted to share these quick sew napkins I made today.  We had a snow ice day out of work today, so I whipped these up to go with the new napkin rings I got from Pier 1 last week.  This is a great project for beginners!



Notice my beautiful poinsettia that is STILL alive! It’s one of the only plants I’ve had that’s lasted more than a month.  I’m pretty proud of it.


To make these napkins, I used two fabrics – a red and yellow print.  I cut a 4 rectangles from each fabric at 15″x22″.  It’s a little bit of a weird size for a napkin, but it’s all of this pretty yellow fabric I had left.  They are even a little big, but I like my napkins big…maybe that’s because I’m a little bit of a messy eater.

After cutting the rectangles, I put one of each color together with right sides facing each other and sewed the two long sides together.

ImageIgnore the face that my pieces aren’t even on the sides.  I cut them by hand.  Ideally you would use a rotary cutter (like the one in the above photo that I just failed to use) or at least a ruler (like the one in the above photo that I just failed to use).  I like eye-balling it…what can I say.

I wanted a strip along the bottom of each side of the coordinating fabric, so after the long sides were sewn together, I took them to the ironing board and ironed open the seams.  Then I rotated the tube of fabric so that the seams were now offset by the top and bottom of the piece.  I offset these by about 1 3/4″ (yes, I eye-balled that, too).  I pressed these new top and bottom creases.



I then took them back to the sewing machine and sewed one of the short sides, making sure to backstitch at each end.  You will want to make sure and clip the corners after you sew, so it is easier to turn.



You will want to make sure that you cut up to, but not through the stitching.

Next, I turned the napkins right side out, pressing the corners out, and ironed the napkins again.



There will be one side left unsewn.  Take this side and fold it in by hand and press.



After pressed, I took the napkins back to the sewing machine one last time to top stitch around the complete napkin.  This encloses the last side and gives a nice finishing touch to the napkins.



The finished project is a reversible napkin with a coordinating strip along the bottom of each side.  

I love how these turned out! They will look great with both my yellow and red dishes.

Happy crafting, everybody!


How I Made $1,000 in 10 days

Here’s my report!  I did it.  I made $1,000 in 10 days and was able to pay for my new floors!

If you saw my previous post “Money Challenge,” you know that I was in need of money fast.  I scoured my house for things to sell, rounded up every penny of spare change to cash in, and even took on some extra jobs.  Here’s how it all added up.

$8.40 – clothes sold to Plato’s closet (most of my stuff was too old for them to take, unfortunately)

$6.25 – old DVDs sold to Hastings (they do not pay much for old chick flicks these days. Lol)

$19.68 – returned jeans ordered online (they didn’t look that good on me, I didn’t need them anyway!)

$150.85 – cashed in change (Whoa!!! I found over $80 in change.  I couldn’t believe it.  The rest was in bills that I stashed into the piggy bank.  I always like to stick a few bills in here and there, so I’m really surprised when I cash out.)

$30 – old iHome sold on eBay (doesn’t fit my iPhone any more since I upgraded to a 5.  It was 5 years old, and still sold for 30 bucks!)

$60 – teaching Zumba (I only had 2 classes with the 4th of July holiday, but every little bit counts!)

$5 – return on survey (I did a product survey for a company at work and got a $5 gift card in return! Used that to pay for lunch and put the $5 I would have spent in my flooring budget.)

$15 – declining room service at Embassy Suites in San Diego  (They actually gave me money for declining room service! Crazy – $5 per day.)

$9.64 – working on Mechanical Turk (Easy way to make money online, but low pay for the amount of time you’ll spend. I made this in about 2 hours)

$5.64 – found Walmart gift card.  (I found a gift card, called the number and it had $5.64 on it! Lucky day for me!)

If you’re good at math, you know that’s not even close to $1,000.  I was at $310.46, and didn’t know how I was going to make up the $700 difference.  So…..I bit the bullet and…..took in a renter! Cha-ching! $750 a month of extra money in the bank.  My sister is now the proud renter of a bedroom/bathroom combo and shared living spaces.  It will be nice having her around, and the extra cash will be great for my budget.

GRAND TOTAL – $1,060.46 – in just 10 days

It’s not exactly how I thought I’d get here, but where there is a will, there is a way!  And, check out these new floors! Don’t they look amazing? I’m so glad to have the water damage out, and the new laminate in.  I actually enjoy being in my house again.

Living Room

Living Room



5K Addict

The word addict might be a little strong thus far, as I’ve only run walked two 5K races, but I am in love with the 5K!  It’s a very doable event for non-runners, which I would definitely classify myself as.  Many 5Ks are based around fun instead of competitiveness.  5Ks are on the rise these days with people becoming more health conscious, so there are lots of great events available to choose from.

Among my list of top 5Ks to try:

1. The Color Run – I ran this event earlier this year.  Check out my post on the color run if you’re interested in this 5K.


Photo courtesy of The Color Run.

2. The Glow Run – I’m planning on running this in August!


Photo courtesy of The Glow Run.

3. Race for the Cure – I ran this race last year.  So much pink! So much fun!


Photo courtesy of Race for the Cure.

4. The Jingle Bell Run – Seriously my two favorite things – exercise and Christmas!


Photo courtesy of the Jingle Bell Run.

5. The Foam Fest – I haven’t had much of a desire to do many of the obstacle based 5Ks that are all the rage right now.  Call me crazy, but I’m not enticed by the idea of running through an electricity-laced field of wires, but obstacles laced with foam, balloons, and trampolines? That just sounds like fun! They still have the mud, ropes, and wires, but they’ve got the fun stuff, too.


Photo courtesy of The Foam Fest.

What races make it on your list of favorite 5Ks?

Money Challenge: $1,000 in 10 days

If you’ve read my blog much, you know that I’ve written several posts on saving money.  These have all been suggestions for minimal changes that will result in long-term savings.  Well, today I find myself in a different boat requiring me to take the opposite approach.

Screen shot 2013-06-30 at 10.58.03 PM

Last week I came home to find this water damage in my living room caused by a damaged AC unit.  The unit has since been repaired, but now my flooring has to be replaced.  I’ve been planning on replacing my floors for a while, and have been saving money to do so by making small changes over the past year, I have saved approximately $3,300.  The flooring guy can replace my floors this month, but needs a payment in the next 10 days to hold my spot.

To be able to make this payment (and not totally deplete my savings account), I need to scrounge up about $1,000 in the next 10 days.  So, here are my quick and dirty money making strategies.  I’ll report back in 10-ish days and let you know how it went!

Ways to make fast money

  1. Cash in spare change – probably the easiest way to get some extra money in the bank account.  Search the house/car/office for spare change.  That stuff can add up fast, and is often just sitting around, so take it to the bank and get some extra dollars in the account.  My key places to clean out – piggy bank, car dash and under seats.
  2. Selling used stuff – We all have stuff (aka junk) around the house that’s not getting used.  Clean out the house and make some cash by selling off all that stuff you don’t use anymore.  My plans: Sell clothes to Plato’s Closet, sell books and DVDs to Hastings, sell old electronics on eBay.
  3. Make stuff to sell – Have a talent sewing, painting, or other crafty skill?  Put that skill set to work by selling products on a site like Etsy (specifically for crafters).  I’ve let my Etsy store lapse.  I’ll be relisting some of my previous products, and making some new ones for the site this week!  Hopefully I’ll have a few bites to contribute some quick sales cash.  Check out my site here:
  4. Freelance work – have a service skill?  Sell your work!  This takes a little longer than other ideas, but could be a very profitable way to get some extra cash fairly quick.  I’ll be looking into some copywriting, web designing, and/or photography.

Well here goes nothing!

Can I do a Zumba class?

The simple answer is YES!  

Zumba Fitness classes are totally modifiable for any age, gender, or fitness level. Whether you’ve got all the dance moves or two left feet, you can come party with a Zumba instructor.  A good instructor will break down moves in routines when their are new students, so no need to worry about being totally lost on your first class!  The first class is usually a bit strange, especially for some people who have never done a dance class before, but don’t worry.  Everyone was new when they started!  We all understand not getting the move, or going the wrong way.  We won’t judge you!

Still unsure?  Check out these videos of some basic Zumba moves and get a jump start on your first class!  The regulars will never know you’re a newbie 😉

Giving Back

This is an unusual post for me, but this idea of giving back is something that’s stuck with me the last few days, and I felt like it needed to be shared.

Today I saw this TedEd talk that is worth watching.

So something as simple as a performing acts of kindness can increase our productivity by 31%.  That’s pretty awesome.

I was working at the local food bank this weekend, and the local food bank director was there issuing an annual survey.  He said something to me that has stuck with me all week.  As I was finishing up my shift, he walked over and simply said, “I wish more young people gave back to their community.”  That seemed like a slightly foreign thought to me, because volunteering is something I’ve always managed to find time for.

In college, I took a Personal Finance class where the professor stressed that no matter what your financial situation, it is imperative to find a way to give back.  The minimal money I made during that time barely paid for the late night pizza delivery my roommate and I were such fans of, so I sought out an opportunity to give my time.  I started working a few days a week at the hospital where I was the youngest volunteer by about 40 years.  I started as a transporter escorting patients to the appropriate wing of the hospital, but was quickly moved to the ER to work as an assistant to the Health Unit Coordinator.  I mostly worked in an ER wing that was closed during the hours I was there doing paper work – managing nursing schedules, calculating overtime, filing forms.  Even though I had very little contact with people during my hours there (sometimes I was the only person working in the entire wing) I found the work extremely fulfilling!  I was getting work done that gave the hospital employees more time to spend with patients.  And the few times I did encounter an injured patient or grieving family member, I was so proud to know that I was there providing even minimal assistance.

I was hooked, and now I can’t stop.  Sometimes people ask me how I have time to have a life between working at my regular job, teaching non-profit Zumba fitness classes, and volunteering.  That’s a funny question to me, because all those things are just part of my life.  You will always have time for the things you really want to make time for.  I make time for phone conversations, lunches, and activities with my friends and family.  It’s an essential part of my life, as is volunteering.

I encourage you to find a way to give back to your community, whether it’s monetarily, in-kind donations, or volunteering.  Find an opportunity that combines something you love to do with giving back.  I love talking to people, so I work the front desk at the food bank.  I love to sew, so I make pillowcases for the children’s wing at the hospital in bright fun colors.  How about registering your pet as a therapy animal and taking him or her to local hospitals or nursing homes? Or teaching a free class at the community center?  Or writing letters to military men and women overseas?

Group of human hands showing unity


Find a way to give back to your community.  Better community.  Better you.

The Color Run

On my 24th birthday, I developed a list of 25 things I wanted to do before I turned 25. (Read my 25×25)  One of those things was to run a race…and I use the term run very, very loosely.

Well I have now complete my 2nd 5K!  I ran walked the Susan G. Komen 5K in Little Rock last fall, and now I have run walked the Color Run 5K in Tulsa!

With teaching 5 Zumba classes a week, I rarely find time for other forms of exercise.  When I do have days off, I often feel like I need to spend it resting my body, so that I can be at my full potential to teach the following week.  But last month, I put those needs aside for a fun run with friends.

New friends and old friends at the Color Run.

New friends and old friends at the Color Run.

I absolutely loved the Color Run!  Whether you are looking for your first 5K or you are an avid runner, I would highly recommend the Color Run.  The event is not timed.  If you are a runner, and you want to run for time, you should make an effort to be towards the front of the starting gate.  There will be a LOT of people there, so if you’re too far back, you will get held back at the start.  You will also have to time yourself as there is not even a run clock at the finish.  If you’re not a competitive runner then feel free to party your way towards the start line a little while after they start the race.  Dance with the runicorn, follow the drumline in a conga, or jam to the DJ’s tunes at the main stage while you wait for your chance to start.

The Color Run mascot "Runicorn"

The Color Run mascot “Runicorn”

Once you start the race, you will periodically run through color zones.  Your white shirt will soon be filled with color as the volunteers throw a rainbow of powder your way.  I would recommend covering your hair with a bandana.  I was very thankful that mine was covered and only the end of my ponytail was coated in color gunk at the end of the race.  Note that you will not be coated in color by the end of the race, but don’t worry…the real fun comes after the race!  After you’ve finished, all the runners gather together at the stage where the DJ is playing and the workers are throwing out free goodies.  They will then call for a color throw! Everyone gets a packet of color when registering for the race.  At this point, everyone will rip open those color packets and throw them in the air!  The sun will instantly grow dark as a cloud of color fills the air above you, and when the color settles (on you and those around you) you will be covered in color!

At the main stage jamming out before the color throws!

At the main stage jamming out before the color throws!

After the color throws, you can head over to the blower guys – workers hooked up with battery packs and lawn blowers that will blow the loose color off of you before you get in your car to leave.  It will take a significant amount of color off of your clothes, so if you’re wanting to try and preserve the color, you shouldn’t do this.  The only way to keep the color on your clothes is to mix up some kind of formula to spray on the clothing before washing it.  I have not heard of anyone who had a very successful mix that preserved the color, so I decided not to try to keep mine.  When I washed the shirt, most of the color came out, although I do have a few random spots that kind of make the shirt look dirty.  I think I will tie-dye it, so that I can actually wear it in public again.

My new goal is to be able to actually run a 5K.  Looks like I have some training to do!

Get info on upcoming Color Run races at

Amsterdam: Culture Quirks

Every culture has a few quirks that make it truly unique.  Here are some culture observations I made while in Amsterdam about the Netherlandic culture.

– Houses are taxed on their width, not their square footage.  That’s why all of the houses are narrow and tall.

This is the narrowest house in Amsterdam.  The owner is taller than the house is wide!

This is the narrowest house in Amsterdam. The owner is taller than the house is wide!

– Because houses are narrow, staircases are extremely steep!  Hold on to those hand rails.


– Because of narrow stairs, Amsterdam residents use pulleys on the outside of their houses to move furniture and boxes.  I wouldn’t want to be standing underneath that!


– Marijuana is not legal, but is decriminalized and highly accepted.  See my post on decriminalized marijuana for more info on how all that works.

– Bikes are EVERYWHERE!  There are more bicycles in the city than people! How crazy is that?


– Construction is not blocked off.  Pedestrians are free to walk or bike right through the work.  Safety hazard anyone?


– Prostitution is legal and regulated.  See my post on legalized prostitution for more info on that.

– Vending machine restaurants allow you to purchase fast food without the hassle of ordering.  Machines are heated, so food comes out warm.  A little disturbing…a little delicious 🙂