Four Must Haves For Your Doggy Diaper Bag

HAPPY NATIONAL DOG DAY. According to my facebook memories, I've captioned a picture of Albus the past two years with the exact same caption... So I thought I'd mix it up this year and blog instead of saying "let's be honest, every day is national dog day with Albus..." I've talked before about my doggy diaper bag and how I keep it packed, ready to go, right by the door. My mom is actually the one who named it a diaper bag, but I think it's very accurate based on what I've seen in human baby diaper bags, even down to something for the poops....

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Albus sits with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth in front of a "What Lifts You" mural with wings

EXTRA. POOP. BAGS. One of my biggest fears is running out of poop bags. It happens to the best of us, sometimes I don't check the bag holder (ps we just switched to a poop bag holder that straps on to the leash because we broke so many dangle-y plastic ones. the most ideal) only to find out that was your last one on the roll. There are so many passive aggressive signs on our normal walking route, that I'm extra self conscious about cleaning up after my dog. Also, if you're going to have a sign that says "be a good neighbor and clean up after your pet" why don't you help me to help you? Maybe have a trash can or a dispenser with some bags in it. Also, travel sized hand sanitizer, because picking up dog poop is a dangerous, yucky game.

Albus standing in the pool with water up past his belly, very heavy eyes, but he swears he is not even a little bit tired okay
Treats!! So we did all the levels of the PetSmart puppy training, and the biggest takeaway was to reward positive behavior. Albus is highly food motivated -- literally took three days to potty train him because he realized if he went outside, he got a treat. We've been very loyal BarkBox customers since the day I brought him home, and honestly average a little less than two bags of treats a month. I keep a bag of treats in my purse, in the doggy diaper bag, and in the car. Albus has recently decided that he will not look at the camera without seeing a treat too. Our newest trick is to say "Albus! Can I take your picture?!" and he immediately drops whatever he has in his mouth and freezes...

Albus sits with just his wet face in focus, back before mom got a new phone that only let her take portrait mode pictures of humans.
Collapsible Bowls -- *technically* these clip on our leash, because it has this cool ring for you to clip things on. If we're on a long hike/walk, any time I stop for water for myself, I give some to Albus. Which means I'm constantly lugging around my Nalgene bottle too. Also, a lot of places we go and sit on the patio either don't have a doggy bowl or. sometimes. Albus is the biggest water snob and will only drink water with ice cubes in it. Either way, we're always prepared. Plus they just fold right down and take up no space!
Albus is most definitely absolutely not sitting on the bench at the table like a person (yes he is.) He's looking at the camera like he's getting away with something.
This thing that will make you say "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?" because it holds the ball on top of your phone. I mentioned that Albus refuses to look at the camera without proof of a treat, but he will always look at a ball. My cousin got me one of these a few years ago and I recently had to replace it because I absolutely lost it somewhere dumb I'm sure.

I also have things in the bag for me: the aforementioned hand sanitizer, SUNSCREEN, chapstick, and extra koozies. We use the Kavu bag that every college sorority girl seems to own, which I have absolutely gotten all $50 out of. It's so easy to grab and go, plus there's room for me to stick my entire giant wallet in there and a super small pocket to stash my keys in. I've also adopted the Boy Scouts "always be prepared" motto, so I keep treats, extra poop bags, and hand sanitizer in my regular purse...

Do you have a doggy diaper bag? Or something similar? Is there anything I need to add to mine? Happy National Dog Day everyone!! 

August Coffee Date

I'll have you know that the whole Yeti coffee rambler trend is like, my life saver. Since it keeps my coffee hot forever I can just enjoy it throughout the day. On any given work day, I'm usually still drinking my coffee at like. 3pm. Same cup though. Just little bits at a time. So I thought we'd sit down and have a leisurely coffee date today. Also, I'm really disappointed in myself for not taking a picture of my coffee on the beach in Mexico...

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IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would tell you that I have my interview for Global Entry on Wednesday. Global entry is like TSA Precheck, but it also lets you skip the customs line when re-entering the US from abroad. After our quick trip to Mexico, I have the travel bug extra bad. I've been saving for another trip to Europe. I use this app, Qapital? to automate my savings (it rounds up to the nearest $2 and keeps that money in a separate account.) I've been going back and forth about switching to something interest bearing, but I don't know if that's reasonable for a short term goal. Any money-smart people have advice for me? 

Anyways, so I want to take a trip to Italy sometime in 2020. I've been working on a pinterest board that usually starts with me searching "Italy Pizza Travel" because priorities. We want to hit Naples (obviously), Sorrento, and maybe one of the wine regions. I assume we'll either fly into Florence or Rome, and spend a day on one of those as well. Like, we're in it for the pizza and wine and lemon cello, we can hit the Coliseum next time. Have any of y'all been to Italy? What should we add to the list? When is a good time to go? 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you I'm so close to getting my Real Estate license. I just have to sit for the licensing exam. Which I'm a little terrified of. It's an important step in my debt free journey, but man am I rusty when it comes to final exams. Like, December marks 9 years since I graduated college (woooooof) and also 9 years since I took a real, closed notes, final exam. I took the final exam for the online class I took (I used RealEstate Express, if you're thinking about doing the online certification that link gives you 35% off the price. They're supposed to pay for my licensing test if I fail it, which somehow doesn't make me feel better..) 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you that when all of the online sales were going on, Chewy had Albus's dog food cheaper for two bags than just one. Like, it was $40 off the second bag, but with the autoship discount, we only pay $37 a bag. So I jumped on that. Well, I forgot to edit the autoship back to adjust for having ordered two month's worth of food, so on Monday I woke up to the notification that my order had shipped. Two more bags, but at full price this time. So Albus has food until November. 

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I'd tell you that my currently reading stack is pretty dark. I'm at the mercy of my library holds, and The Tattooist of Auschwitz AND Columbine both came off holds within 24 hours of each other. So I'll be needing some lighter reading suggestions for the rest of August. All of my holds told me like "36 weeks!" when I placed then and they're all coming up in like the next month. Say a prayer that I can get through them before I have to return them so someone else with a hold gets their turn.

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE I would want to know what is new with you? Do you think we'll see a day under 100 degrees any time soon? I don't want summer to end, but maybe just like, low 90s or something please. 

What I Read In July

I feel like the first few months of this year took forever, and then the spring and summer have just absolutely flown by. I have to remember about school traffic on my commute now and I completely forgot about how many more people are on the roads when it's back to school time. Anyways, I'm linking up with Steph & Jana for another month of Show Us Your Books! Let's see what I read in July. (If you missed what I read in June, you can pop back over here!)

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a hand is holding a kindle with the first page of a new chapter showing, there is a pool, lots of greenery, and palm trees in the background 
Also, fun story (in case you missed it last week) I took my kindle to the beach with me when I went to Cancun, and accidentally tested just HOW waterproof my "waterpoof kindle paperwhite" is. Mere minutes after I took this picture, I was just going to read with the kindle near the pool. The ground was so hot that I accidentally tossed it ALL THE WAY INTO the pool. Like, it hit the bottom of the ledge that you sit on. Fully immersed. Didn't even turn off. Everyone around the pool was watching with baited breath as I tried to play off my act of clumsiness with "well, I guess we'll find out if it's really water proof!" It was a terrifying thirty seconds though. So, I WHOLE HEARTEDLY recommend the water proof kindle. (If you have an older one, you can even trade it in for a discount off the newer ones!)

At Water's Edge: This was a suggestion from the Libby App, where I use my library card and checkout ebooks, I think it has completely replaced Overdrive? Or is in the process? Anyways, I filtered popular historical fiction by "available now" and this was one of the first books! I really enjoyed it, even though there's not any time travel involved (how are all of my Scottish Highland books time travel-centric? It's those damn stone circles guys.) This one is set in WWII and tells a pretty cool little story. It does take it a little while to find it's legs, but stick it out! I give it all five stars. (was I doing five stars last time? or four? I can never remember.)

The Last Days of Night: So I tend to read a lot of super long books (think Outlander) and this one started out super slow, because it was a new chapter every like. Five pages. Literally. I was on chapter 9 and page 49. It was like instead of new paragraphs we'd just start a new chapter. I am very glad I read some goodreads reviews saying this took a while to get going, because it honestly didn't start to pickup until about 60% of the way through it. Then I didn't want to put it down. The end does a nice job of tying up all of the story lines, which I guess is nice? Sometimes I feel like that's forced, to give a summary of the characters' lives after it's all over. ANYWAYS. It was very interesting and if you can get past the first hundred pages, it's worth a read.

Peril at End House; Okay, so before I left for Mexico, I downloaded a bunch of books thinking I'd get a lot of beach reading done. It was silly of me, but I did finish The Last Days of Night on the plane, and move on to another Poirot novel. HOWEVER. I had downloaded two, so I picked the wrong one first. Not that it actually matters, they're all independent. But, I digress. This one was good, I haven't gotten to a point where I can completely tell the bad guy in a Poirot novel, and I honestly love that. They're quick little reads and the twist at the end almost always surprises me. I find it hard to review these stories with a twist without giving anything away, so as always, I recommend Poirot.

The Mystery of The Blue Train: This one comes before Peril at End House but that's neither here nor there. These Agatha Christie tales of murder on the trains somehow make me want to take one of these cool train rides across Europe even more? I feel relatively safe because I don't fit into the type that tend to be murdered on the train, more the type that would become friends with Poirot in the dining car. I started to suspect who the bad guy was in this one earlier than I have in the past, but there was STILL a twist I didn't see coming. I read this one and End House in like. Two days.

Small Great Things: In high school, I devoured every Jodi Picoult novel I could get my hands on. They're like the book version of a Law and Order episode. They're not so much thrillers or mysteries as they are a kind of commentary on the crimes themselves. I had forgotten what this one was about, and then started it after the two acts of terrorism in El Paso & Dayton. This book speaks about an angry white nationalist couple and a Black nurse. It was very hard for me to start so soon after, but I am glad I did. It was clearly written for the "white savior" group, and will make you feel uncomfortable, it should. There was one character arc I hated how it wrapped up, it felt like it was too neat for me. I still give it all the stars though!

Back at the beginning of the year, I set my goodreads goal at 30 books. I'm on pace to hit that this month, so I'm going to see how far past my goal I can get. I guess I should set it higher for next year. How do y'all set your goodreads goals? I just started The Tattooist of Auschwitz because half of my reading schedule is dictated by when books come off holds at the library. What are you reading lately? Anything I should add to my stack? Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!
Life According to Steph

Can I Bring Albus: Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield

A couple of weeks ago, I got up extra early on a Saturday and I was super motivated. So I loaded Albus up for a quick little hike up Kennesaw Mountain. You would think that since I grew up in Kennesaw, went to the park every year for field trips in elementary school, drive past it every single work day, that I would remember the date of the battle. It was June 27th, 1864 and you guys will never guess what day I took Albus to hike the mountain. Go ahead, guess. Did you guess June 29th, the Saturday after the anniversary of the battle? BECAUSE YOU WOULD BE RIGHT! 

This post is not sponsored (but I would absolutely accept a National Park Annual Pass in exchange for taking Albus to all of the dog friendly ones and exploring them...) This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of those links, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks! 
A black lab stands in front of a sign that says "Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park" with park hours below it.

So, on this fateful day. I figured the park would be busy, it wasn't TOO hot yet, but it was a Saturday morning. I pulled up and the main parking lot was full (it's always full, but I always do a loop in case I'm there at *just* the right time and someone is leaving.) Then the overflow parking was a zoo too, I lucked into a parking spot, took a very official picture of Albus squinting in front of the sign in that parking lot, then we head to the opening of the park. We start to cross the street, and only then do I see the tents set up, the canons not in their normal places, and people dressed as Union & confederate soldiers. 
a lush green field is spotted with men dressed up as union and confederate soldiers with the base of Kennesaw Mountain behind them

In case you were wondering, no, Albus was not a fan of the cannon fire or the rifles. Since we had already fought to park and made it to the welcome center, I decided that we should try to go up the mountain anyways. The hike up Kennesaw Mountain is only 1 mile, but man I struggle every time. Atlanta Trails says it's a "relatively moderate" hike. In the intro they say "Hike a strenuous 2.4 miles roundtrip on the Big Mountain Trail," so maybe it's not so easy peasey. Not sure I'm going to be trying anything they say is more difficult. 

SPEAKING of more difficult. If you're ever in the area and end up at the entrance on the back side of the mountain, they call it "Little Kennesaw Mountain" that hike is substantially more difficult and I have been glared down by a troop of Boy Scouts with those poky hike stick things (staunchly refusing to google what they're really called.) because apparently letting the large group of boys who look like they know what they're doing pass is not actually proper hiking etiquette. I always operate under "slower traffic get out of the way" 
a black lab licks his lips in anticipation of the treat the camerawoman is bribing him with, the city of Atlanta is in the distance, as they're almost at the top of the mountain

So, on your hike up, you go about .8 miles and then there's a parking lot. Fun story, the first time I took my youngest brother hiking, he got SO MAD when we found the parking lot and insisted we walk the driving path down because he didn't believe that going around the mountain would be further than straight down it. Well, by the time Albus & I reach this parking lot, I'm breathing a lot heavier than I care to admit, and I plop down on the sidewalk for both of us to take a water break. We only do easy hikes, but I keep my doggy diaper bag packed with sunscreen, an extra water bottle, a bag of BarkBox treats, and a spare roll of poop bags. I also have this really cool collapsible bowl that clips on to the leash. Obviously I needed the break more than Albus did. 
A black lab smiling with the Atlanta skyline in the distance behind him

I asked the park rangers if they would be firing the cannons on the tippy top of the mountain, because by this time I remembered all of the Kennesaw Mountain knowledge I have amassed over the years. They were also firing those, the reenactment must be historically accurate you know, so I decided we'd just head back down. It was hot and sweaty, but we ended up doing over two miles anyways because we had to walk to and from that satellite parking lot. 
a black lab with a lime green harness is startled either by the sound of cannon fire or the fact that his human is not as agile going down the mountain as he is.

Kennesaw Mountain itself, as well as the rest of the park associated with it, is all very dog friendly. A KEY thing to note though, you're gonna need to bring your own bags and be a little prepared to carry one for a while. We once accidentally went 6 miles on the Noses Creek trail looking for a trash can. There are several different trails in the park and we've done almost all of them! Maybe on our next installment of "Can I Bring Albus?" we'll talk about the dog beach where Albus made some overly serious dog dad very mad..

Have you been to Kennesaw Mountain? Do you think I'm a wimp getting winded on the trail (it's okay, I know I'm out of shape.) Is there a National Park near you that you love? Tell me about it! Also, always accepting new ideas for where to bring Albus.

What I Loved in July

There's a meme on the internet going around that has the year with January, February, and March stretched really far out and then just August. I don't know how it's back to school time already. Not that I go back to school, just that I have to fight with the school traffic.. Literally day one of back-to-school and I ended up stuck behind a school bus, while worrying about whether or not I'd make it to the gas station before running out of gas. Don't worry, I made it. With a little less than half a gallon of gas to spare. (just typing that sentence gave me anxiety.) Anywhoodles, here's what I loved in July!

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overlooking the ocean with palm trees and beach chairs, an inflatable playground is in the ocean

These packing cubes -- guys this was a game. changer. I've been carrying the same gigantic Vera Bradley duffel bag everywhere since I got it as a high school graduation present. I recently became a member of the four wheel spinny suitcase family, and that's also a game changer you guys. But these packing cubes were so great for Mexico. Not only was I able to fit everything in the suitcase, but I also didn't have clothes strewn everywhere over the hotel room. I took out whatever I wanted to wear, put my dirty clothes in the laundry bags, and so packing at the END of the trip was a breeze too!

KINDLE WATER PROOF PAPER WHITE -- you guys. I loaded this thing up with books from the library (using the Libby App, you guys should really check to see if your library uses it. I can literally check out kindle and audio books from an app on my phone, sync to my kindle, and I'm in business.) Anyways. I loaded this thing up with books for the plane and the beach before heading out on our trip. The LAST DAY of the trip, we were drinking & reading by the pool. The ground was SO hot. It was SO hot outside. So we're about to get back in the pool (WHICH WAS ALSO SO. HOT.) and I'm like "oh, my kindle is water proof so I can sit it next to the pool and it'll be fine." I forgot how hot the ground was, so my feet are burning, I'm trying to get to the edge of the pool to set my towel & kindle down AND I THREW IT INTO THE POOL ON ACCIDENT. It went all the way to the bottom of the ledge you sit on. I swear everyone around the pool stopped what they were doing and watched in slow motion. I laughed it off saying "I guess we're about to find out if it's really water proof!" While actually panicking because what if it's not? I didn't even lose my page. Here we are almost a week later and it's still juuuuuuust fine. So, wholeheartedly recommend the water proof version.

My new Teva sandals -- I wanted to be a Chaco person very badly. So badly that I've tried THREE different pairs of their shoes (thought maybe mixing up styles I would find some that didn't hurt oh so bad.) The final straw was a couple weekends ago when I tore my feet APART with the ones I wore to the dog beach. I honestly think I'll have scars from the blisters. They just don't fit my feet. So I went back to my OGs, the Tevas. Back when everyone was having a sale to compete with Amazon & Nordstrom, I searched HIGH AND LOW because I found one pattern I just loved but it was only in my size ONE place and they were full price. I could have gotten like 20% cash back on ebates (they wanted a piece of the madness too) I finally settled for a different pattern, because Academy had them for 65% off. I couldn't say no to that. I even got cashback from that purchase. I've worn them almost every day for the past three weeks you guys. Even when they're not quite the shoe for my outfit. I freaking LOVE them. I'm fully on the Teva bandwagon now.

What about y'all? What did you love in July? Do you think the four wheel spinny suitcase or the packing cubes are the best travel improvement since the wheel? Or is there something else I'm missing out on in my travels?