A Country Girl’s Guide to Creative Date Ideas

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you are probably familiar with some of my first date stories from when I lived in Washington, DC. Moonlit walks around monuments, soccer games, exuberant 10 am brunches, art museums, and the Cherry Blossom festival are all examples of dates that come to mind. One nice thing about living in a city was that there was always some new trendy restaurant to try, or some landmark yet to be explored, which made for a lot of fresh options. Since being back home, I’ve felt like it is much harder to come up with creative ideas for things to go do, and it got me thinking. There must be a ton of things to do here that you couldn’t necessarily do, or at least couldn’t do as well, in DC. Here are some date ideas for those of us who don’t live near any large Metropolis areas, and are not ready to succumb to the basic dinner and a movie routine:

 

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  • Star Gazing. Grab a blanket, a flashlight, and a thermos of something warm and head out to a clearing. Make this more fun by bringing along a constellation map.

 

  • Go fishing! This takes a bit of preparation, as you will each need a fishing license and pole. It helps a lot to have someone who knows what they are doing for tying hooks, casting, and gutting the fish (ew), but I suppose if neither person did it would be something to laugh about.

 

  • Take a Ferry Ride. This is particularly relevant in Western Washington, but you could improvise anywhere with bodies of water and recreational boats. Walk onto the ferry, spend a couple hours exploring your destination or grabbing something to eat, and then enjoy the relaxing ride back home.

 

  • Hiking. This seems to be an old standby around where I live, and it can be fun if it’s more like a stroll than a strenuous hike. Not trying to get all sweaty on a date, BUT getting outdoors and being moderately active in some gorgeous scenery is always a good idea.

 

  • Go swimming! On a hot summer day, meet up after work and find a body of water to splash around in. Bring floatys and show off your cannon ball skills.

 

  • The search for the best (fill in the blank) date. This isn’t a good first date option, or even second or third probably since it implies future dates without knowing that the one you are on is going to go well, but designate a day weekly to try out new places in search of the best tacos in your hometown. Or burgers, or pizza, or beer. Whatever you feel like conquering. Give each meal a score on a scale from one to ten, and then tally the points after trying a few places.

 

  • Try a dance class. We have this place in my hometown called “The Grange” and they offer weekly partner dance classes, with a two hour DJ afterwards. Knowing how to swing dance or line dance can actual be useful information in our neck of the woods, so it’s educational, romantic and a good time. See if your community has something similar.

 

 

  • Visit a farm and do a “you pick” date. Think fresh berries or apples, visiting the on farm store, taking a few pictures, and then going home to pile on whipped cream or bake something delicious.

 

  • Countryside drives. This is actually a really nice way to get to know someone. There’s no awkward eating or bill paying, and there is plenty of time to just talk, roll the windows down, or listen to your favorite songs.

 

  • Speaking of favorite songs, spend a few hours going back and forth and playing those at home one day. You can learn a lot about a person from their taste in music, and it’s fun to talk about what songs make you think of or what memories are associated with them.

 

  • Visit a shooting range. Shooting guns is surprisingly exhilarating if you haven’t tried it before. If you are both already pros, challenge each other to see who is the best aim.

 

  • Have a campfire in your yard, roast marshmallows, drink beer, play cards. Basically act like your camping, but you’re kind of not, because you’re at home.

 

  • Play truth or dare. This could either be really fun, or expose the true unpleasant nature of your date, which either way is a good thing right?

 

  • So you both have busy schedules? Do something boring that you normally do solo together. Go to the library to return those books that are almost over-due and make out in a hidden corner for a couple minutes. Cruise through the grocery store to get the weeks’ worth of shopping out of the way, or wash your cars together. If you have to do chores, you might as well do them with someone that you think makes everything more fun. Just don’t make your date do your chores for you.

 

When you think about it, there really are a lot of fun date ideas that you can take advantage of in small towns. I could go on and on, but I think these are my favorite ideas. Have fun!

 

Xo,

 

Andrea

 

Also, what do you think about online dating?  I’m pretty iffy about that in a small town so far haha, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has experiences with it.

First Camping Trip of 2014: Rockport, WA

In a spur of the moment decision last weekend, I decided to join some friends camping about an hour East of where I live. We got really lucky with the weather, and enjoyed a couple beautiful days up there hiking in the mountains and sitting around a campfire. One night we walked a quarter mile down the road to a local dive bar (dive bars are the only kind of bars in this hillbilly land) and listened to a band. I even got a friend with some moves to spin me around the dance floor a few times. It was definitely a great time. We made some memories, that’s for sure. Here are a few pictures of the scenery and our campsite.

 

xo,

Andrea

 

 

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Skipping Margaritas

I’ve been neglecting my blog, but the good news is, I’m getting a lot of other stuff done! I’ve been a busy little bee lately, with 15 credits of classes and surprise!! A new job! Same company, but I’m now a marketing consultant, not an editor. It’s really exciting to be doing something new, and to be learning so much, even if it means I’m seriously worn out by the time I get to hit the feathers. As I work on an assignment for one class, I see how it will be relevant for my other classes and for my career, which feels good. My digital photography assignments make me think about how I can incorporate my photos into my website design for a different class. Creating images in Photoshop for my graphic design course helps me generate ideas for my photo editing… It’s all coming together.

I’ve also been spending the time it takes to be healthy, whether that means working out on my lunch break, or using my morning time before work to go to the doctors. Yesterday I tried out a new doctor’s office. I’ve been floating around between quick care clinics and last minute appointments at random doctor’s offices since I turned 18 and got kicked off the roster for my pediatrician’s office. It’s so harsh when the doctor you’ve had for your whole life tells you that you are too old to keep seeing them, but I think that I’ve finally found a gal I can stick with. She didn’t make me feel like a clueless child when asking me questions about my health, unlike the last person I saw who asked me the same question three times like he didn’t believe my answer. “How many partners have you had?” “Okay, this is important. In your whole life, how many partners have you had?” “So you’re sure you haven’t tried meth?” “Ever?” Give me a break…. If you have a suspicion that patients don’t tell the truth, you should at least try to pretend you trust them. It’s awkward enough having to talk to someone you don’t know about your body.

I quit drinking recently too. Well about two months ago actually. I’ve gone out to bars with my friends since, but I order one beer and sip on it, or pour myself a glass of something and eventually end up giving it away. If I hold onto something nobody asks me why I’m not drinking, or buys me a new drink. I’m tricky, I know. I just realized that hangovers are not worth it. Neither is waking up feeling embarrassed about anything. My body doesn’t handle alcohol well, and I’ve known that for a long time, but I think it’s time to start listening to what it is telling me. Quitting drinking is a surprisingly scary move. That is what my girlfriends and I do on weekends. We have since I was about 14, and that pattern of drinking too much like a 14 year old would stuck with me.

When I lived in DC, I didn’t ever drink too much. I was pretty good at just having one or two drinks over the night, and being perfectly able to carry on a conversation without slurring. The culture is just different where I live now. If I’m not actually drunk. Like being loud, stumbling around drunk, there is a chorus of “what’s wrong?” “drink more,” “you’re no fun anymore.” Literally. It is kind of strange to come back to it and have an outside perspective, but I tried drinking excessive amounts again and just found myself in a panic the next day. Note to drunk Andrea, if she ever appears again– 25 year old women should NOT fall off barstools while taking shots of whiskey. Not cute.

I like remembering my fun times. That’s just me though. I think the one drink rule is a good one, which I intend to stick to from here on out. For me, not drinking is just part of listening to my body and being true to myself. There are things we do that make our souls happy, and fill us up with contentedness, and then there are things we do that fill us with anxiety and potentially make us want to throw up. In my experience, blacking out only leads to the latter.

On a lighter note, it’s tulip season in Skagit Valley!! I’ll make sure to take some pictures. I missed them so much last year when I was away.

 

xo,

 

Andrea

The Earliest of Memories

I’m trying to recall the first thing my memory ever recorded, and am finding it a difficult task. There are slippery little bits of image, like my mother sitting on a sunny porch, legs criss-crossed and hands occupied with a knife and a green apple. Or a day outside in a grassy yard, suddenly darkened by a cloud passing in front of the sun, long shadows stretching until they blend together into shade. There are also feelings I might remember. The dizzy joy I felt spreading my arms wide and spinning around until I fell down. The awe inspired by a powerful gust pushing against me in the Autumn. The relief and headache experienced after sobbing like only a child can, unabashedly and thoroughly, until every tear has been expelled. But are these memories or dreams? If I reach that far back it becomes hard to tell the difference.

It starts to become clearer when I think about starting school. In Kindergarten, I remember peeing my pants in class. You might be thinking, why would she write about a memory of peeing her pants on a blog? But come on…every kid does this once or twice. It was a rare day when we lined up, and walked across the court yard to another Kindergarten class where we were to watch a movie together. The lights in the room were dim, and we sat on the floor in lines facing the television screen. Stuck in a room of unfamiliar people who would all notice if I were to stand and ask my teacher to go use the bathroom, I thought I could hold it and was wrong. I shifted my sweatshirt around my waist, and whispered to my cousin who happened it belong to the class of children we had joined. I told her what happened, my eyes swelling up with tears of shame, and instead of keeping my secret, she raised her hand to tell the teacher. I felt so betrayed. She said it in front of the whole class, and my teacher pulled me out of the room to call my mom to come get me.

In first grade, I had a friend named Shasta who I used to tell stories to at recess. I would get so involved in describing how my family and I were really royals on the run, trying to blend in with society to escape the wrath of the evil fairy queen who stole our throne and would murder us all, that I think I even believed it. “Our crowns,” I would tell her, as she sat next to me against the brick side of the school, “had too many jewels and were too heavy to carry. Plus they would give away our identity. We had to toss them into the Skagit River as we crossed it by makeshift log raft.” She would paw at the gravel in front of us, throwing small gray rocks a few feet in front of us as she listened. I didn’t sum up the story by saying “just kidding,” or “that didn’t really happen.” I just let the possibility of it linger between us instead, and embraced the specialness being a princess for a day lent me.

There are so many things I remember from second and third grade. I loved my teacher. Totally adored her and wanted to be just like her. We had a reading loft in the classroom that was kind of like an indoor tree fort, without the tree. Second grade was when I made the firm decision to become a writer. I could go on and on with memories from that point on, but it’s kind of fun to try to remember what it was like to be little. There are so many things we forget, and those memories sort of surprise you when you really take the time to think about childhood.

I started musing about this because the other day my brother and I watched Dennis the Menace, and I noticed so many things about it that I never had before, now that I was watching it as an adult. I realized that the last time I had watched it, I was identifying with Dennis, and this time I was identifying more with the adults in the story (Remember cranky Mr. Wilson?). Either way it’s a pretty hilarious movie. There was one point where I was laughing so hard my brother asked if I was going to be okay, and I nearly choked on a sip of tea. Good times…

What are your earliest memories? Do they start during your school age, or can you remember before that?

 

xo,

 

Andrea

Tips for Making Going Back to School Affordable

 

Yesterday I woke up, got ready for the day, went to the community college and paid for classes, and went to work. When I got home, my text books and lap top had arrived! Yay! I feel halfway to pro already now that I have my mac book pro, and I can’t wait to start taking more beautiful pictures, and learning more about what I can do with website design, fonts, and art. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish spring break would hurry up and end so I can start school! 

 

I’m also kind of amazed that I’m affording this. The cost of taking classes had been stopping me from doing it for a while, but I’m finding that it is pretty doable at the moment. It helps that I’m living at home and not paying rent, which I intend to do for a while! Honestly though, I think I could be moved out and still afford at least one or two classes at a time. Here are my tips for affording to go back to school:

 

  • Fill out your FASFA! No matter what. If you end up changing your mind about how you pay for school halfway through the year, it’s important to have this done. Go to fasfa.ed.gov and apply for a pin number to sign your application. It can take about two days for this to be active, and then you can fill out your information and submit the application.
  • Talk to your financial aid department. See what your options are. Ask for help! They can hook you up with scholarship applications, low interest loans, sometimes grants, and I found out that i could make two payments on classes instead of paying it all at once. They are there to help, but they get busy, so I recommend making an appointment if possible.
  • Prioritize! Figure out where you can save money, and what expenses are absolutely necessary. For example, if you live close to campus, don’t buy parking passes. Walk instead. Pack lunches instead of paying for a meal plan. Sell back your books at the end of the quarter if you think that you won’t need them again. Use the computer labs on campus instead of buying that fancy new lap top.
  • Check prices online for your text books. I saved a ton of money just by renting my textbooks from amazon. They mail it to you, and then you can return it for free at the end of the quarter. A lot of times, you can buy text books online for a much lower price than what your school is selling them for. I also highly recommend signing up for the student version of amazon prime, which is free for six months and gives you free two day shipping. Just cancel it before the end of that trial if you don’t want to be charged to keep it.
  • Student discounts! Apple has a great student discount, and probably a lot of the local businesses in your community do as well. Before making large purchases, like software or a new vehicle, always check to see if there are student discounts being offered.
  • Room mates!! Some people hate the idea of roommates, but if you can’t live at home or are really opposed to that, roommates can be a great option for a single young person. Just make sure you are safe about how you find them. Meet them in a public place to chat and see if this might be someone you want to live with, and check out their social media profiles. This can be a great way to make new friends! I hear a lot of people say that living with a friend can ruin your friendship with them, and in my experience that has never been the case. If you already have a strong friendship with someone, it’s more likely to get stronger than to end while living with them. So if you have a friend needing to move out as well, I say go for it.

 

 Working and going to school can be tough. You feel busy all the time, and it’s harder to fit other things into the equation like going out with friends, or working out. But you can do it! Cut your happy hours down to just one or two nights a week, work out early in the morning, and if you find that you aren’t getting enough sleep, drop something. Cut back on classes, hours or some other commitment with any flexibility. I’m 100% adamant that if you aren’t getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep, something needs to change. Stay sane :) It should be a rewarding and fun experience. 

 

xo,

 

Andrea