5 Things to do in Jerome and Cottonwood, AZ

Jerome is known as one of the most haunted towns that exists built on the side of a mountain. My fiancé and I recently stayed in Cottonwood to explore Jerome. The town of Jerome itself is such a cool spectacle. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until we got home from the trip that I realized I didn’t get any photos of the town! I found one landscape photo of the desert taken from a parking lot in Jerome. 

However, below I am listing out at least 5 things that you can do in either Jerome or Cottonwood as they are about 15 minutes away from each other. Most of these will have to do with food, wine or beer.

View from the parking area in Jerome

The Haunted Hamburger

This burger joint is located near the top of the mountain near the Ghost Town Tours. The menu gives you a brief history on how the restaurant came to be and how the restaurant itself is known as one of the local haunts. The burgers themselves are incredible. You can also find beer from local breweries as well as breweries in Flagstaff, AZ and Phoenix.

The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating. If it’s available I absolutely recommend going for the outdoor seating as you get to have an amazing view of the rest of the town as well as the desert landscape beyond.

Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes

After eating such a tasty burger the best way to work it off is to walk it off. Jerome is amazing because if you start at the top you can walk your way down the sidewalk and stumble upon all of the shops they have to offer. Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes is bar far one of the more interesting and fun shops there. As you can guess it’s a shop full of kaleidoscopes. They have kaleidoscopes ranging for the fun toys we remember as kids to elaborate and beautiful kaleidoscopes that are too large to hold and cost around $1000. Even if you don’t buy one of the kaleidoscopes they have it’s a shop you can get lost and mesmerized in for quite a while. 

Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room

If you’re a fan of the band Tool and love wine then look no further than these tasting rooms. The lead singer of Tool, Maynard James Keenan, has a vineyard in the Jerome/Cottonwood area where he curates wine that you are able to taste, and if you choose, buy a bottle of wine. 

We stopped into the tasting room in Jerome and it has a rustic and cozy feeling. We did not stay to try the wine as we needed to drive back down to Cottonwood to check into our hotel. However, we had already decided that we would be going to the Merkin Vineyards tasting room that is located in old town Cottonwood. Here, it has a more modern industrial look. You can try a flight of wine and get some amazing in season food that comes from Maynards farm. 

The State Bar

After we had gotten a quick appetizer of bruschetta and a flight of wine at the tasting room we walked down to this beer and wine bar. As we got there it started to lightly rain and lightening started to light up the 5 o’clock night sky. The amazing thing about this bar, other than the local beers and wines you can find, is it has three large garage doors that the owner opened up so everyone could enjoy the weather. 

The rain had calmed down so we sat down outside on their large patio and watched the lightening and enjoyed the fresh 70 degree weather outside. When the rain picked up we headed back inside right next to one of the open garage doors and sat down on one of the homey couches available. 

The State Bar Interior

Pizzaria Bocce

As the storm was going on and we were a few beers in we started to get pretty hungry. We noticed that some of the local regulars at the state bar had gone next door to Pizzeria Bocce and picked up some food and brought it back to The State Bar. We were inspired and pizza sounded like the perfect pairing to our beverages. 

We got ourselves a mini feast with a Prosciutto and Arugula pizza and fondue with bread and veggies. We sat at the bar, enjoyed our food and drink, and also got to meet some fun people who seemed to be regulars at the bar. The entire ambiance created an amazing experience and provided for the perfect quick getaway we had needed from living in the city.

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The 5 Best (and Cheap) Places to Eat in Flagstaff, AZ

Living in Flagstaff for over 7 years I have tried several different places to eat. Flagstaff is full of breweries, dives, upscale, and mom-and-pop shops that are all so very tasty and noteworthy. However, to keep this blog post simple and help with finding out the best food for a cost of $15 or under I am going with these five places to eat. You will be able to enjoy a mountain town eateries without over-spending. These have been some of the tried and true places that I’ve eaten at repeatedly since being in college and after graduating.

Mama Burger

Located on N Humphry’s and W Columbus Ave. on your way to the mountain to ski or snowboard sits one of (in my humble opinion) the best burger joints to this day. Their burgers range from $3.75 to $7.50 and you can make it a combo with their amazing fries and a drink for only $3 extra. They have indoor and outdoor seating, both at which you can view the beautiful mountain in the distance. It’s the best place to grab a quick bite before hitting the slopes or just to sit and enjoy the food and ambiance of a mom-and-pop shop restaurant.

My all-time favorite is the Bacon Guacamole Burger and my Fiancé’s being the Kahuna Burger

Historic Barrel + Bottle House

Historic offers a menu ranging in price from $8 – $17 and has some tasty brews on tap. One of my favorites is the Undercover Cucumber American Lager. It’s light and crisp with a hint of cucumber and makes you feel like you’re laying poolside on a warm summer day. Paired with a burger or sandwich from their menu makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

They have a very rustic and modern vibe that makes you feel cozy and caters to a fun day or night out with friends. With outdoor seating you are able to enjoy the fresh air while still getting the same cozy feeling of sitting inside. Located on San Francisco St. you will find yourself a half a mile down the street from downtown Flagstaff.

Primo’s Deli

Right across the way from Historic you will find a little hole-in-the-wall deli. This is no ordinary deli though. Primo’s is known for their amazing hot dogs. You can only catch this deli being open from 6 PM to 3 AM and closed on Sunday and Monday. This is the perfect place to grab a quick hot dog on the go before or after going to the bars.

Primo’s is a tiny store painted yellow and red and has a blue trimming. There is nowhere to sit inside or outside but it is everything you could hope for in a hot dog. Their dogs range from $3 – $5.35. You can also find other quick bites there but the main event would be one of their creatively made hot dogs. With a hot dog like the “Drunk Uncle” how could you not try it?

Macy’s European Coffeehouse and Bakery

I absolutely could not write this post without mentioning Macy’s. For anyone who has lived in Flagstaff or passed through and tried this place it would be almost a sin not to talk about it. Macy’s offers comfort in sight, smell, taste, and feel of what you would want in a coffee shop. My favorite part of the menu, other than the coffee, is the breakfast menu. I’m not a vegetarian but their vegetarian biscuit and gravy is the shining star in my eyes. When my fiancé and I go he loves to get their waffles with fresh fruit. And of course we always get their coffee. The baristas are masters at the coffee craft and are very artistic with the foam and other toppings.

While their breakfast food is my absolute favorite they also offer lunch and other entree’s to try that are worth the visit. Their menu from breakfast to their entree’s are priced from $3 – $8. They offer a variety of food that caters to people who may have a gluten allergy to vegan and vegetarian options.

With this being one of the more popular food destinations I always recommend getting there earlier to make sure you’re able to grab a seat if you would like to dine-in.

Vegetarian Biscuit and Gravy paired with a cappuccino – my go to every time

NiMarco’s Pizza

A hometown favorite of Flagstaff, NiMarco’s currently has two locations and soon there will be a third. When arriving in town from the west side there is a NiMarco’s located right before the target. However, my favorite spot is the one in downtown just right up the street from Macy’s. Both locations have indoor and outdoor seating, of course. However, the downtown location has more of a rustic pizza vibe to it that I absolutely love.

Whether you’re looking to grab a quick slice or sit down with friends and devour an entire pizza together NiMarco’s offers a variety of pizzas to choose from. If you are looking to order an entire pizza they will range from $10 – $20. If you just want a slice or two that can range from $2.50 – $5.

Always More…

Flagstaff, though it may be a small town, has a lot to offer in nature and, of course, in food. There are so many more restaurants I would love to add to this list but I wanted to keep it quick and in budget. If you are in Flagstaff for more than just a day or two take some time to walk around and explore! After trying some of the amazing food that Flagstaff has to offer I expect that you will leave with your belly full and your heart warm and happy.

How to Declutter Your Home for a Less Stressful Life

Within the last year I have discovered the beauty of decluttering my house of things that I do not need/want in my life. This is the type of project that, for most, will not be completed over night. Or even in a week or month. This is a project that takes time and patience and begs the question, “Do I really need this?” For me, this is a project that I am focusing on to live a more minimalistic life. However, I believe this is something that almost everyone can benefit from. There are many different methods out there for decluttering your space from tidying up the house to living a truly minimalistic life and living off only the items you truly need in your current environment.

My transition has been very slow but pretty steady. Every declutter I do gets me closer to the minimalist lifestyle I aspire to have. I make my way from room to room and get rid of (and recycle when I’m able) anything that does not give purpose or happiness for that matter. In the book “The Paradox of Choice” by psychologist Barry Schwartz, he explains that often times when people are provided with several different choices they can make it leads to stress and anxiety. This really speaks to the consumer side of life but the items we own are from the choices we made when originally purchasing them.

Two of my favorite movies actually involve getting away from this type of thinking: Fight Club and Into the Wild. In Fight Club we see the main character befriend Tyler Durden who completely defies the status quo. While, yes, he does work several different jobs to make money he is adamant on steering clear of material possessions. During one of the main character’s and Tyler Durden’s first interactions Tyler says, “The things you own end up owning you.” While this may not be true for everyone I think it is something that has resonated with me for well over 13 years since I had first watched the movie.

I digress. Let’s jump into some of the steps to get your life decluttered and a little less stressed!

Go Through Each Room Separately

Now this may seem totally obvious but I know that the prospect of getting rid of things unneeded can sometimes cause excitement and have you jumping from room to room with no plan. The first room I usually like to start with is the bedroom closet. It’s very easy to accumulate clothing from fast fashion because it’s “on sale” or it kinda looked good in the fitting room. What I like to do is take out all my clothes and lay them on the bed and go through the clothes one item at a time. Here are a few questions I ask myself during this process:

  1. “Have I worn this item more than two or three times this year?”
  2. “Do I feel confident when I wear this?”
  3. “Does this still fit?” (A more obvious question but I think we all have those items we hold onto for years that don’t fit and probably wont because you’re not 16 anymore.)
  4. “Does this item make me happy?”

If the answer is “no” to one or more of these questions, my rule of thumb is to put it in the donation or recycle bin. After you’ve completed the clothing portion of this you can move on to the next room. I like to work my way from inside out – closet, bedroom, hall closets (if you have one), bathroom, living room, kitchen, etc.

Clothes, glass, plastic and paper all separated out for recycling.

Trinkets and Other Decorations

As humans I think one of the other things we tend to horde are small decorations and other trinkets. I believe it’s pretty rare for the decorations and other small trinkets we have to actually mean anything to us.

For instance, as I’m writing this at my desk I have a pig shaped stress-ball sitting in front of me that, for days now, I have been trying to decide whether I should get rid of it or not. To put things into perspective, this small, cute squeeze toy is something I got for free at a work event. I don’t use it for it’s purpose but I have it sitting on my desk because it’s cute.

Now, I’m not saying you should get rid of all your decorations or even that I’m going to get rid of my pig stress-ball. What I am saying is that sometimes it’s necessary to evaluate the amount of decorations you have and whether they are adding to your happiness or just taking up space.

Duplicate Items

If you’re like me you probably have several bath towels, rags, sheets, and dishes. Currently my Fiancé and I have 22 plates. Of the same size. Not because we purchased them but because previous roommates left them and parents have provided hand-me down china. It’s just the two of us and I don’t foresee us having a dinner party with 20 plus people in our 900 square foot, one bedroom apartment.

So, we got rid of all the mismatching plates, a few towels, and kept one extra set of sheets that we can switch out for our bed or use when a guest stays over. This freed up space in our cabinets and our linen closet and made it feel like we could breathe a little better.

Books and Movies

This is a tough one for the both of us, actually. I love hard copies of books and my Fiancé is a cinephile so as you can imagine we have a lot of books and a lot of DVDs and Blu-Rays. To us there’s something sentimental about owning these items. For the more minimalist approach getting rid of the physical copies and having digital copies is a great option. For now, this is something we’re not particularly ready to part with.

So, what we have done instead is decluttered our collections. We went through all the books and movies we had and really decided what we loved from each. We didn’t keep any filler items. For instance, I still had a book that I had read in middle school which is read at a middle school level. It was not a book that I was ever going to read again so it was time to say goodbye.

However, if you are able to make the transition to digitally owning these items without too much thought I definitely recommend it!

Paperwork

In life, we collect many things and one of those things is paperwork. Paper from doctor’s offices, bills, tax information, coupons, school projects, financial information, amongst other things. I had these types of papers scattered everywhere. I had a plastic box with some of the papers. Random folders stuffed in the closet with some papers. Papers stacked up on my desk and the kitchen table.

We recently went to Target and purchased a large folder where I organized and labeled every section so I can accurately and properly store my paperwork. This forced me to go through absolutely every paper that I have held onto for the past 5 years and keep what’s really important and shred the items that are not.

My large portfolio folder I am currently using.

Makeup and Grooming Products

It’s 2019 and we have a plethora of skincare, makeup, haircare, and body care items to choose from and buy. At one point I feel like I could have opened up a small boutique with all the products I had in my bathroom like this. And if you purchase makeup you know it’s not cheap, whether you get it from Sephora or the drug store. I didn’t calculate it but I wouldn’t be surprised if I had around $3,000 worth of makeup alone in my collection. And I didn’t even wear half of it.

It was time to re-evaluate my routine. Just because the packaging and colors look so pretty or so aesthetically pleasing it’s really not worth spending the money on it if it’s not going to be something I use on a regular basis. So, I chose to keep only what I use. Foundation, mascara, eyebrow gel and bronzer are the only real things I go for in my day-to-day routine. So now that’s all I have and I only purchase more makeup when I run out of one item. The same goes for haircare and skincare. I have eczema so skincare was an easy one for me. I only have a clay mask and unscented lotion that I can use on my body and my face. The only real care I have for my hair is shampoo and conditioner so getting rid of other products was easy for me.

A good rule to go by is if you don’t use it or if it is not good for you (based on the chemicals) then get rid of it!

Conclusion

As stated before, this may be a process that takes weeks if not months to complete if you are dedicated to really getting rid of the things that are unnecessary and do not bring you joy in your day to day life. If you take everything step-by-step this will become almost a meditative practice.

Remember, recycle as much as you can or donate. In the process of creating a space you can be happy in we must always think of how we can create a better environment for all even if it’s just a few of us doing it.

The (quick) Story from Pines to a Concrete Jungle

In the 27 short years I’ve been alive I have come to realize that there are so many things in this world I have yet to experience. It’s created this spark of wanderlust in my life that I have been, unfortunately, procrastinating on. I think many people in life can relate to this. There’s so much to do and it often times can feel so overwhelming that staying at home, relaxing on the couch under the comfort of your favorite cozy blanket and watching a Netflix drama series is the easier choice. Recently, however, everywhere I’ve turned I’ve come face-to-face with the tough question, “What are you doing with your life and why aren’t you actually living it?”

I grew up in a small (ish) desert town in Arizona. Born in 1992 I got to experience the big bang of the internet and a new technological age that ever changed our way of interacting with other human beings. I was lucky enough to experience life with and without too much technology. My parents often took my sister and I on camping trips around the western part of the United States to make sure we got to experience life in nature while still living in a small city.

Flagstaff, AZ 2014

After 18 years living in the small town I moved to Flagstaff, AZ to go to college. It was perfect. Because I grew up camping this was a place I could experience nature and the comfort of a town all in one. I lived there for seven years and I loved every moment of it – highs and lows alike. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to meet new people, experience nature right outside my apartment and learn the struggles of finding a job right out of college.

Aspen, CO 2017

This took me to my first job in Flagstaff where I met my now Fiancé. A year into working at the company, our job offered for a few of us to open up a new location in Denver, CO. We were 24 and beyond excited to move to a city and be part of something that was important to “Corporate America”. After living there for about a year and a half we decided to move back to Arizona to be closer to family. This time we moved to the Capitol of heat, Phoenix. We’ve now lived here for just under two years and to tell you the truth it’s been a hard adjustment for me. After three years of living in cities I’ve come to realize the concrete jungle isn’t the scenery I love looking at outside my window every morning. And within those three years I’ve also been sweeping that pesky question under the rug. The only thing is, you sweep it under the rug enough you end up tripping over it.

So, long story short, here I am! Facing that question, learning along the way and living life to the absolute fullest. It’s time to satisfy that wanderlust and everything that comes a long with it.