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Friday, February 17, 2017

Italy // Montecatini


 via instagram 

Sigh. It's hard for me to look at these pictures because this trip was too short. I long to be back there and experience more of it. If you know me at all, you know that I love to travel and go on adventures. From living in Maui last summer, to teaching in a village in Kenya a few years ago, to visiting Puerto Rico and much, much more, I have been blessed to travel the world. In fact, I started this blog almost 8 years ago (what?!) because of my trip to Fiji and I wanted to document it all the way back in 2008.

With all my traveling, I have never had the opportunity to go to Europe. So when I had the opportunity to jump on a plane pretty last minute and visit Italy (Tuscany) for a week, I had to take it. It was a lot of work to leave and a lot of tears and stress to come back to teaching, but it was worth it. In my mind, travel is always worth it.

I am so grateful for all of the "views" that I see in this world. (Get it? Sierra's View! Witty).

I don't want to bombard you with too many photos, so I will try to split this trip up into a few posts. We were only there for seven days, but man, my mom and I went HARD. We wanted to see most of Tuscany area and we did! Because we only had a week we stayed in the Florence/Tuscany area. I plan to, one day, return to Italy to go to Rome, Naples, Sicily, and Venice with T-Money. Even though we were only there for a little bit of time and it was a short trip, I was amazed at the sites that I was able to see. Because it was January, it was not as luscious or as green as other months, but it was still gorgeous (and cold!). I could not get over the design and textures of the buildings.

We stayed in a little country town called Montecatini. It was a pretty small town about twenty minutes outside of Florence. It was quaint, but darling. Our first day in Tuscany, we were exhausted, so we spent the day exploring all of the towns around Montecatini. It wasn't anything extravagant, but it was so fun just to explore the little towns and walk around. Everything was DEAD because of the winter months. So no shops or anything was open. We were grateful that it wasn't busy, but I wished that we could experience sitting outside and enjoying the delicious bakeries in the warmth. The setting of every town was picturesque. We looked really cute in our tennis shoes and jeans, too! Haha.

I love the eerie feeling of this little street. It was so cool and old. 

Compared to last photo, I loved some of the colors of the shops. Many of the buildings were a pastel color, but this was brighter than usual. 

They had the craziest trees here! I loved how unique they were trimmed for the winter. 


Meow. I thought this path was darling. There were so many cats EVERYWHERE!




The windows with flowers might be my favorite European style. 


I loved all of the buildings and the doors, can you tell? 



LOVE this shot. 

Haha! 

Lobby! Gorgeous! 

I want to tell you about this adorable little cafe. This little bistro was right down the street from our hotel. After a long day of exploring, my mom and I were just craving something to eat, but we didn't want to go anywhere crowded. We stopped at this family owned bistro and had the most amazing minestrone soup and calzone. This boy in the picture was in sixth grade and he didn't speak very good English, but it was fun to translate on my app and talked to him. He had muscular dystrophy and we just talked about the shop (with his mom). It was our cheapest, best meal we had while there. 




Montecatini! 






I had to take a photo in front of the local elementary school. I loved hearing all of the kids! 

Don't mind the closed eyes. 

The little pops of green were fun to see. 

Our cute hotel. 

Gorgeous view of Montecatini Alto on the hill! 





See you for some more Italian love later!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Books: The Bad, The Good, and The Awesome!


Well, it's a good thing that I am a teacher because I am a reading nerd. I have always loved to read, but this year, I just couldn't put books down! I was overwhelmed with audiobooks, chapter books, young adult novels, and everything in between!

My husband makes fun of me for reading so much, but in all honesty, I don't actually spend that much time reading, I just read really fast. I am one of those people who will finish a 400 page book in two days. I surpassed my goal of reading 41 books this year on Goodreads (my goal was 40! Come be my friend on Goodreads! I love to see what others are reading). I was pretty proud of myself.

I hope that you have seen my monthly reading posts. I am thinking of doing some kind of linkup or hashtag so that others can join. Would anyone even participate? Do people even read my blog anymore? Ha. I will link up all of the months of 2016 below if you want to see what I read and all of my thoughts on them.

Being in a Book Club has been so fun as well. This is not your typical gossip book club. It is a group of us who literally spend 3 hours once a month talking about the book the entire time. I'm not lying when I said 7 out of the 10 ladies are teachers. What nerds ;) . Let me know if you want to participate and join! We are, also, looking for a name for our book club. If you have any ideas for good book club names, let me know!

Okay, enough babbling. Here are the The Bad, the Good, and the Awesome Books of 2016.*
*in my opinion. It was hard to only put a few in each category!!

Let's start with the Bad. Get it out of the way.

Bad 

+Major Pettigrew's Last Stand // Helen Simonson: So so so boring. I made it to chapter five and then gave up. It's about an old man in England who falls in love with Mrs. Ali. Major snoozefest.

+Shout Her Lovely Name // Natalie Serber: A story about a mother and daughter and their trials. It was so terrible I could barely finish it. Confusing and not very well written.

+Landline // Rainbow Rowell: I read "Attachments" for book club and I really enjoyed it, so I thought I would try some of Rainbow's other books. This one was so incredibly boring and horribly written. I couldn't even believe I finished it.


Good

+Daring Greatly // Brene Brown: I love Brene Brown so so so so much. I enjoyed this novel a lot, but it definitely wasn't my favorite novel of hers. In this novel she talks about learning to step outside of your insecurities and comfort zone to "dare greatly." Some really great ideas, quotes, and concepts and one I would recommend.

+Intuitive Eating// Evelyn Tribole: This woman talks about her struggles with food and how to be "aware of what you are eating." Very good novel!

+Me Before You // Jojo Moyes: I read this book in one night. It definitely captured my attention. I loved the idea and the movie. The ending definitely had me confused (I don't know what I would do in that situation!). A good book!

+The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up// Marie Kondo: Very interesting take on cleaning up your life. I was fascinated by it and it definitely helped me organize parts of my life. I found that the process took too long, but I loved the idea and concept of it (and it did help me! I just don't have a year to do this! ha).

+Rain, Reign// Ann M. Martin:  Young Adult Novel about a girl with Asperger's from her point of view. I loved the concept of this book and it had me in tears at parts because of her relationship with her dog. A little scattered at parts, but it was my favorite young adult book that I've read this year.


Awesome

+Quiet: Life of an Introvert in an Extraverted World // Susan Cain: This novel talks about what it is like to be an introvert in today's world of extreme extraverts. I don't know if it's just because I am a very extraverted introvert, but I absolutely loved this passage from an introvert's point of view. This is something that I think all people, introverts and extraverts alike need to read (especially if your spouse is the opposite of you!).

+The Nightingale // Kristin Hannah: The life of two women, very opposite sisters who live in France during World War II. Amazing!!!!! I cried like a baby.

+Ready Player One // Ernest Cline: Year 2044, teenage boy in virtual reality trying to deal with puzzles. It is hilarious, intriguing, and incredibly well written.

+Dad is Fat// Jim Gaffigan: Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious!  Autobiography of comedian Jim Gaffigan. I would encourage you to even listen to it on audiobook. I listened to it while reading along at parts. I really enjoyed it.

+Nineteen Minutes// Jodi Picoult: I read this novel about eight years ago, but we read it for book club so I decided to re-read it. I forgot how much I love her books. Even though Jodi Picoult's novels are all of the same, this one is definitely one of my favorites (and I have read a lot of books by her!). I thought this story about a young boy involved in a school shooting is interesting, relatable and it was incredibly well written.


Monthly Book Reviews

*January/February Books (did separate posts in these months)
-These Is My Words- Nancy E. Turner
-Go Set a Watchman-Harper Lee
-Daring Greatly-Brene Brown
-Quiet: Life of an Introvert in an Extraverted World- Susan Cain
*March (started combining all of my books in one post in March! Ha)
*April 
*May
*June 
*July/August
*September
*October
*November/December


What books did you read in 2016? Which ones did you love? Which ones did you hate? I would love your thoughts!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lessons Learned in 2016.



Before I begin, here are my Christmas/New Years posts over the past couple of weeks. I actually blogged. Thank you, winter break!

Merry Christmas (Card) 2016
Christmas Break 2016
Not-So-Great New Years Resolutions
My Word for 2017

I loved writing about what lessons I learned in 2015.  2016 was a rollercoaster year for me. I loved looking over my top posts and top Instagram moments last week. T and I had some great adventures, vacations, and memories. We have so much to be grateful for: wonderful friends, family, an adorable home, great jobs, and good health. With that being said, I was sick a lot over the course of the year. I felt a little stuck in my life and felt like I was at a crossroads, which is never fun. I had to learn to be happy in this moment of our lives, which can be challenging. I am so grateful for a life where I can learn new things (easy to say that now, huh?! Ha!).

Note: When I say "you" it is a generic you--meaning you, me, or you as a whole. 

Let yourself have FOMO. Being an Ainge, I was predisposed for what we call "FOMO--Fear Of Missing Out." I HATE feeling like I am being left out of things. Even when I don't necessarily want to go out or be somewhere, I feel obligated to because I don't want to be left out of things. I learned, real quickly in 2016, that it's okay to say no to certain things. It is okay to not be involved in every social aspect. It is okay to not be invited to everything. It is okay for people to do things without me; it's not personal.

Forgive. Because I am a "feeler", I tend to get my feelings hurt quite easily. This does not mean that I am weak or am always feeling sad. But because I feel things so deeply, I tend to overanalyze a situation (overanalyze? What? I never do this) or a person. I have learned that I cannot react emotionally when in an argument, disagreement, or fight with others. It is so important to forgive, even when the other person didn't even apologize. This is something I am still working on.

The gym can be so fun. I have seriously fallen in love with exercising and the gym! (I know!!!). I love the way I feel about myself, others and life when I exercise. I used to hate the gym, but now that I know how to use machines and know what to do, it is something that has helped my confidence and attitude! The key is to find workouts that work for your body and things that you enjoy doing!

Go to sleep when you are angry! Whoever said the advice to "not go to bed angry" was, I'm just going to say it, STUPID. Usually when I am angry at my husband (What? We never fight. I don't know what you're talking about ;), or after a long day teaching, or I'm hormonal...whatever it is. Usually, I just need sleep!!! T will look at me and say, "Just go to bed." And I do. Sometimes all you need is a good night's sleep!

No one cares as much as you think they do. That sounds harsh, but I don't think it means you may think. What I mean is that your peers, your neighbors, your friends, your family, your ward members, your coworkers...they are not paying attention to you as much as you think they are!!! So all of those insecurities that you are harboring, all of that comparing that you are doing..stop! People are worried about their families and their own lives, as they should be. Let your insecurities and comparison go, because I promise you, everyone else is either a) feeling the same way or b) just focusing on their own lives!

Travel. It seriously makes you love your life so much more. I have learned more about life traveling and teaching than anything else in my life. Go on adventures, go on road trips, do random spontaneous things--even if they are just local trips. It feels so good.

Teachers make crap money and I'm tired of it. That's all I really have to say about that. It's not right. Teachers deserve more. And I will fight this until the day I die! Haha.

The Savior loves you!!!!!! He loves me. He loves you. He is aware of you. I promise. I have to re-learn this every year. Apparently He wants me to know this.

What lessons did you learn in 2016?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Not-So-Great New Years Resolutions (& Some Good Ones!)

Last Year's Not-So-Great Resolutions were pretty epic, so I'm not sure if I can make some horrible resolutions again, but I assure you, I will try my best. I am not a die hard new years goals because, let's be honest, I usually forget about them by January 6th (Oh wait, that's today. I've already forgot about some. Look at that!) But, I do like to pick a word to focus on. Earlier this week, I posted my word that I want to focus on for the New Year.

With that being said, I do like to pick a few things from each category of my life to either keep working on and improve on. I realize that some of them might be vague. I think it's also important to  be realistic.
Okay, let's get to the not-so-great resolutions.  THE FUN STUFF. 
2016 was a solid 8/10. I'm not going to lie, my not-so-great resolutions didn't happen. Shocking. 
I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings. 



In 2017, I hope to: 

Continue my obsession with the Bachelor (which started on Monday. You can see my live tweets here. You're welcome). 

Make Saylor cuddle with me even when she doesn't want to. 

Continue to post really good pictures of me (see above) on Instagram and Snapchat (@sierrasview). (Why am I always so good looking? I have got the whole not-looking-at-the-camera-blogging-look DOWN). 

Move to Maui full time. 

Have twins (one boy and one girl) and be done with having children. One and done. Boom. 

Lose 200 pounds (K, but seriously. I want at least 50 of these bad boys GONE. Working on it!). 

Make Amy Schumer my best friend (It didn't work last year). 

Force my husband to be done with bachelor's degree and instantly become rich (He should be done in December! Ahhhh IT'LL BE A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE). The rich part is super plausible and realistic, I know. 

Never get mad at my sixth graders (hahahahahahahaha).

Get three more puppies. 

Re-watch Gilmore Girls and Friends while doing laundry. Again. 

Actually put away my laundry. 

Maybe cook some dinner one of these nights.  (meh). 

Read 5 books every month. I wish I was kidding when I made this goal, but this could actually happen. Yikes. (But really, I want to read at least 2 a month!). I read 40 books in 2016. I'll probably read more than 2 a month. But hey, life happens.  

Pray that people will stop talking about the stupid election. ENOUGH ALREADY. 

Convince anyone over the age of 70 to get off Facebook. 

That's all I can think of. 
2017 looks promising, don't ya think?


In all seriousness though, I wanted to write a couple of my ACTUAL resolutions down. I don't like to make huge ones because I am not very good with follow through (I am really good at starting things though! Ha). Just a couple per facet in my life. Notice how I write "try" on many of them. Haha. Of course everything takes effort, so I will definitely try on all of these.

Spiritual
+Read scriptures and/or Conference talk daily (at least one). This is something that my patriarchal blessing talks about, probably because, well, I suck at doing it consistently. I love to read/listen to my scriptures and conference talks, but I cannot seem to get a routine down with them. I am really going to try this year!!!

+Gain a testimony of the mundane aspects of the gospel. Sometimes I tend to overlook those everyday things in the gospel, when really, that is where strength comes from. I want to try to get to church on time (ha! Good luck when we have kids!), do my visiting teaching more often, attend the temple by myself and with T monthly), and not procrastinating my tithing. I don't want to put set numbers on these things because then I feel like they become "duties", however they are things that I do want to focus on with my spiritual well-being.

Emotional/Mental
+Write in my journal at least once a week (bullet points, if needed!). Because I have this blog I tend to neglect my personal journal. I want to look for something to be grateful for everyday and to work on my word of the year (patience) while writing in my journal.

-Do the 91 Day Home De-Clutter Challenge at some point this year. My house is quite clean, but I really want to throw away junk. I cannot believe how much junk just T and I accumulate after one 3 1/2 years of marriage (and we don't even have that much. I'm just a little bit of a minimalist!).

-Read at least two books a month. I love book club and I love to read. I think that this is something quite manageable for me. I am excited to make a plan for books to read in 2017!!

Physical
-Continue to figure out my hormones/medicines/vitamins to help. I cannot tell how many days I have spent crying over trying to figure out my body and it's hormones. It's discouraging and aggravating. I am going to continue to figure out what to do with it and try my best. I will not kill myself because it's not worth it. But I will do what I can. That's all I can ask for myself (I need to be patient with myself!).

-Continue to work out 4-6 times a week. 4 minimum (This is something that I already do, but I want to keep it going!).

-Be able to run a 5k by summer!

Social 
-Keep improving and writing on my blog as much as possible! (Switch blog to wordpress). I want to shoot for writing on my blog at least once a week (2-3 if possible), but I can't promise. Again, I will try my hardest!

Maybe: Start my photography cards!
Try to make my bed as often as possible (Guys, I really hate to do this!!).


HAPPY NEW YEARS. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Mountains! Snow! Christmas Break!

...is heaven! Today I went to the gym, ran errands, and cleaned my house IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. It's seriously amazing what I can get done in the middle of the day when I don't have a full time job! Haha. Our christmas break ends on Tuesday (and we got out on the 22nd, don't even get me started). I am already dreading having to go back to teaching. I love my kiddos and my job, but this whole not-working thing is seriously amazing. And I can already feel that the break was not long enough!

Our Christmas was pretty low-key, but it was a great day spent with my in-laws. I tried really hard to focus on the "reason for the season" this year, so gifts were not over-the-top, but I was impressed with what I got T-Money with our budget. I am so grateful that I was able to sing in church on Christmas Sunday and to participate in so many fun, festive Christmas activities over the month of December so that I could focus on our Savior and his birth. I promised myself that is something that I would do and I stuck to it. The whole Christmas season seemed so much better! This whole week I have been catching up with my life: working out twice a day, cleaning, and running errands. It hasn't been super exciting, but it has been productive and slow-paced, which is so nice for a change. T has had to work all week so it's pretty much been me and Saylor, my sidekick, doing things. And I've loved it!!!

I have been up in the canyons hiking in the snow a few times this week to change my workouts around (so that I'm not always just as the gym! ha). Plus, watching Saylor run in the snow might be the cutest thing in the world. If you don't have a dog, you don't understand. I caught some absolutely gorgeous photos while on some of my hikes. It is freeeeezing up in the canyons, but I stayed bundled up and tried to enjoy the outdoors. I will show you those amazing sites and photos below. As always, please do not take without permission. 

Over the break, I:
-read three books. Man alive, am I nerd, or what?
-deep cleaned my house (like doors, baseboards, everything).
-Did about 7 loads of laundry. Yikes.
-hiked in the canyons multiple times. So gorgeous!
-went to the gym. A lot.
-slept. A lot.
-saw movies (my fav) and watched Netflix (also my fav).
-ran a gazillion errands.
-drank a lot of sodalicious (guilty).
-saw grandparents and cousins and family members all over Utah.
-Took down Christmas decor (and cried while doing it. Always makes me sad).
-Went to a New Years Eve Casino night.
-Caught up with friends.
-cuddled with Saylor. A lot.

If you follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, you may have already known these things, but it's fine. Whatever. (@sierrasview for all).

Without further ado, here is WINTER IN NORTHERN UTAH. AS THE YOUTH WOULD SAY, "I JUST CAN'T EVEN." Also, just take a moment and look at that stinkin' adorable dog. I'm obsessed with her. I think we all knew that though. Note: these were all taken on different days, hence the different lighting.



DO YOU SEE THE PEOPLE?! Gah! 



The lighting on this day was ~perfect. 





Love the edit on this one, too. 





And the Saylor photo shoot starts NOW...





Mom. Stop. 










Had to edit this one a little different. Love the look of this. 


look at my cute house in the snow!!!! I'm obsessed. 


Utah. You are cold, but, MAN you're beautiful.
Wish all the teachers luck as they endeavor back to school this week. Gahhhhhhhh.