Friday, July 26, 2019

My Summer Playlist

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 

Hi all! I don't know about you, but I am feeling summertime right now. It's nice and hot here in Pittsburgh, and despite some rain, we have had several really nice, sunny days in a row. I've been spending more time outdoors, whether tending my tiny container garden on my front porch or taking walks in the park, and enjoying it immensely! 

I thought we'd do things a little bit differently today. As you may know, sound and music are some of my favorite ways to lift my mood, raise my vibrations, and keep myself in a positive frame of mind. When I was a teen and in my early twenties, I used to spend hours making mixtapes of my favorite songs for summer and then also songs from summer to take with me back to college.

These days, things are a little different—music is available at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a thumb over an app on your phone. But that doesn't mean I can't still have my "mixtape" fun. I made myself a little Spotify playlist of summer fun songs, and now I can share it with you!

There are several genres of music here, so there should be a little something for everyone. Enjoy the music and have a wonderful weekend!  🌞 🎵 📻 🐝 

Full Spotify playlist can be found HERE.

Track Listing:

  1. Surfin' USA – The Beach Boys
  2. ABC – The Jackson 5
  3. Beatnik Beach – The Go-Go's
  4. The Summer Sun – Chris Stamey (feat. Yo La Tengo)
  5. Here Comes the Summer – The Undertones
  6. Rockaway Beach – The Ramones
  7. Summer Fun – The Barracudas
  8. Rock Lobster - The B-52's
  9. Having an Average Weekend – Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
  10. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
  11. Vacation – The Go-Go's
  12. Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane
  13. Summer of '69 – Bryan Adams
  14. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  15. Summer Breeze – Seals and Crofts
  16. Red Red Wine – UB40
  17. Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
  18. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  19. Miami – Will Smith
  20. Rock Your Body – Justin Timberlake

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Friday, July 19, 2019

Seeing Life through the Eyes of a Child

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 

When I stand at one of my kitchen counters, I am able to look out a big picture window into my front yard, which is situated on a "cozy" city street. But it’s a quiet street with lovely neighbors, and I get much peace watching birds and squirrels and sometimes rabbits and even the occasional deer as I assemble a sandwich or a brew a cup of tea. 

I was putting the kettle on when something caught my attention from out of the corner of my eye:
Photo by Daniel Hansen on Unsplash

A single, solitary bubble floated in my field of vision. It dodged and weaved around porch furniture and bushes, buffeted by a light breeze before it swerved in toward the window to hover directly in front of my eyes for a millisecond before making its way down the sidewalk and into a neighbor’s yard. I guess the kids next door were playing with bubbles and one made its way over to my house.

Do you know what I did next?

I threw my head back and laughed like no one was looking!

Okay, no one WAS looking, because I was home alone, but that’s not the point!

Immediately I was reminded of just how much I loved bubbles as a kid. I couldn’t get enough of them! My Dad and I used to go out in the yard and blow bubbles together, getting more interesting wands and bubble contraptions as summers went on. Some nights we’d be covered in soap remnants after a good evening of blowing bubbles. Those were such fun times!

I think as adults, sometimes we forget the simplicity of those childhood joys. We forget to look upon the world with bright eyes, joyful abandon, and a sense of play or even mild mischief.

It's summertime now, and I can't help but remember how summers used to be so carefree: Riding our bikes and swimming all day.  Playing with our dolls or action figures. Sleeping with stuffed animals. Blowing bubbles and watching them float away on the breeze. Getting into epic Nerf battles. Making mud pies and sand castles. Holding pretend tea parties with our dogs or cats and guinea pigs who patiently put up with being our “guests.”

Those days go by so quickly, and it seems the older we get, the years go by quickly, too. In some ways, time seems to test the limits of physics. Doesn't it seem like years speed up the older we get?

But this piece isn’t meant to be some introspective yearning for the days of yore, because we haven’t lost EVERYTHING from our childhoods. We can always carry our inner child with us...WITHIN us, helping shape and mold the people we are...the people we choose to be.

Are you jaded? Cynical? Unhappy? Unfulfilled? Stressed out? Busy? Did you forget to smile today?

Shed all of that. It does not serve you.

If you’re any of those things above lately, try changing the lens through which you view life.

When was the last time you giggled like a little kid on a merry-go-round? When was the last time you looked at something with a sense of childlike wonder?

Open your eyes and see how truly blessed you are to be here, right now. Part of being a child is to see things for the first time and have a sense of wonder and curiosity about them. Look at your spouse, your kids, your cat, your neighbor, your friends, and SEE them again. Go through your childhood mementos and SEE them, too. Don’t be Calvin, looking at Hobbes in his attic over the years and only seeing a stuffed animal. Calvin and Hobbes had a special kind of magic; we can find that magic again.

I know we all have our daily responsibilities and stressors, but remember to stop and take a breath and live like kids do: unfettered. Unconcerned with all the bigger life stuff. Find the magic again, even if only for a few moments every day. Here are some tips to help with that:
  • Dance like you’re in your favorite fairy princess costume and the fairy godmother just waved her magic wand over you. 
  • Laugh at bad “dad jokes” with the abandon of a 5-year-old. 
  • Have a tea party with your kids or grandkids.
  • Get on that merry-go-round or swing next time you take the kids to the park. 
  • Go on a rollercoaster and scream your fool head off. Then go do it again. And again, til you’ve laughed and screamed so hard you tucker yourself out and sleep the best sleep ever.

Who cares if it's silly? Silly is fun!

Find your inner child and meet them again. Welcome them back into your life. If childhood wasn't so great, offer healing to yourself and allow yourself to honor your inner child now. (I'll drop a resource or two below.)

Try to see things from a child's perspective once in a while, and let me know how that goes. I think you'll find there's a different quality of joy in your life.

BRB... gotta go buy some bubbles.

xo! 🐝

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Friday, July 5, 2019

Getting Away: How a Trip to a Local Berry Farm Healed My Soul

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See Disclosures for more info. 

Hello, fellow bee-peeps! I hope you have had an excellent week. If you are American, I hope you had a fantastic Fourth of July celebration! Ours was nice and quiet this year. My husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary around the 4th every year; sometimes we get away, but this year we'll be spending the weekend doing something fun locally, instead. Which brings me to my next topic, actually!

This week I wanted to talk about how it's important to get away once in a while in order to break up any routines and grab a "reset" in life. For example, I've been working really hard lately. I had a huge deadline coming due on a recent Monday and was feeling the pressure. I was definitely starting to feel like I was "all work, NO play."

But I didn't cave to the stress and chain myself to the desk all weekend. Instead, I decided to give myself a much-needed soul break and get away for a morning. But where to go? I didn't want to spend a ton of money or take too much time.

If you're in the same boat, consider finding an inexpensive local destination that offers fun! And this week, I'd like to feature a destination local to Pittsburgh that, if you're from here or visiting, you can get to rather easily and have a great time!

The answer to my conundrum was only 15 miles away from the City of Pittsburgh in Monongahela, PA at Triple B Farms. This is a pick-your-own berry farm with lots of activities in May through October every year. I found out about them because I had signed up for the Great Pumpkin Run 5k and wanted to know more about the location. After visiting their website, I made a snap decision: this would be my outing for a Saturday morning.

I spent a lovely 40-minute drive with the windows down, gulping in lungfuls of fresh, country air as I approached the farm. As soon as I parked, I was struck by the gorgeous, hilly farmland and the beautiful, blue skies.

Gorgeous skies greeted me.

After snapping a quick pic over the top of my Fiat 500 Abarth (a fun little car to take out on a day to the country, I might add!), I walked over to the attractive entrance to the farm to begin my day.

I felt very welcome from the start.

The way the pick-your-own operation works is this: you go the tent in the above photo and pay $3 for a wristband. A tractor will then pick you up and take your group up to the field to pick your fruit. When you come back down in the tractor, you will weigh what you pick and pay for your purchase (and that $3 you paid for the wristband is credited to you in that transaction).

This was my view from a bench under a shade tree.

I decided it was too hot that day to actually pick berries (it was in the 90s, I believe!), so instead I acclimated myself to what the farm had to offer. I found out that there was an indoor (and air-conditioned!) farm market, so I first peeked my head in there. They had all kinds of food and gifts available for purchase, including produce, baked goods, kitchen and baking utensils, items made from honey, and things with a bee theme (of course, these were my favorites!) It also smelled heavenly in there, because the area where they do the baking is in the back of the store. That olfactory stimulation made me realize I hadn't had breakfast, yet, so I went in search of food.

You can buy all kinds of goodies here.

I was then made aware that right next door to the market is a food barn, where they serve basic seasonal breakfast items (like pancakes with fresh berries and blueberry donuts), coffee, tea, beverages, etc.

Get breakfast or lunch during your visit!

I got a short stack of pancakes with fresh blueberries and strawberries on them. It came with a side of sausage patties. I couldn't finish it, even the small plate, but it was delicious!

The Food Barn is comfortable and cozy.

After my meal, I took my coffee outside and sat on a bench under a tree, where a breeze was flowing and two gentlemen were conversing nearby. I sat and watched the world go by for a while, breathing deeply and enjoying my coffee and the warmth of a beautiful day.

The two gentlemen—who turned out to be the founder of the farm, Ron, and his buddy George—struck up a conversation with me and made me feel very welcomed. They even introduced me to many of the family and staff who were present while I was there.

After sitting under the shade tree with Ron and George for a while, I finished my coffee and decided to work off that pancake and sausage by exploring the farm a bit. I started up the path to the rest of the farm.

Path leading to the bee and goat areas.

As I walked, I realized that if you look closely at the buildings, there are little signs giving you important facts about bees. You know this caught my attention! I then started looking for all of them.

These signs were all over the farm.

As I continued up the walkway, I discovered there was an entire display all about bees and their importance to the ecosystem!

Beautiful sign about how bees help the ecosystem.

In addition to the really nice signage, there was a Bee Barn where you could find out how queen bees are marked by the beekeepers to keep track of their ages and other facts about how hives operate.

Need I say more?

You could even view a hive inside the Bee Barn! The signage around the hive gave you important facts about bees and their life cycle and encouraged you to find the queen. I couldn't see her, myself, but I'm sure she and the other bees were quite busy!

View a working colony at the Bee Barn.

I really enjoyed learning about bees while I was there. What a wonderful display; it must have taken much time and care to not only to install but maintain it. I'm sure kids love it!

More learning available near the Bee Barn.

After hanging out with the bees, I continued up the path to find this guy staring down at me:

Do you see him up top?

Oh. My. Gosh. GOATS! I bet you could hear my "Squeeeeeee!" all the way back in the City of Pittsburgh. I'm pretty sure I went supersonic because they were SO cute!

This guy wanted a snack!
Two of the smallest goats obviously have people pegged as possible sources of food, LOL! There were goat-food machines (kind of like gumball machines) dotted all around the perimeter of the enclosure. For twenty-five cents, you could get a handful of feed and give these guys a snack. 

Not shy at all, is he?
After walking all up and down the hills of the farm, I started making my way back down towards the market. I noticed on my walk that there was a really nice playground across from the berry-picking stands, giving parents another opportunity to entertain their kids if they tired of picking fruit.

Before leaving, of course, I shopped! I grabbed some pints of a variety of berries, including the most delicious golden raspberries I've ever had! I also grabbed a few baked goods and a new mug:

You know I HAD to have this, right? 🐝

I then said my goodbyes to everybody I had met there and left to go back home, smiling all the way. As I drove, I again rolled down my windows and turned my music off so I could just feel the vibe of being in the country. As I reentered the city, I carried that vibe with me into the rest of my day, feeling content and happy. 

And then I sat down to work on my deadline for Monday. Not a thing bothered me the rest of the weekend! And I realized: this simple trip to Triple B Farms healed my soul a bit. I was in danger of getting stressy and anxious, and instead, I was happy and fulfilled!

It really does help if you're able to get away for a bit, even if it's just a day trip or a morning spent at a local attraction. Break up your routine, say goodbye to to-do lists and stress, and live your life fully. Have fun, and bring that sense of fun back with you when you come back to your routine.

I hope if you're ever in the Pittsburgh area, you'll check Triple B Farms out! They're open May–October, and have a seasonal schedule of activities throughout the picking season, whether berries in spring and summer or apples and pumpkins in autumn. 

I hope you enjoyed this mini travelogue! And hey, let me know if you've taken any neat day trips, lately: just drop a comment below 👇 and share some of your favorite outings around your local area! 

Have a great week, everyone! 🐝

 ~positively b.e.e. is on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. Follow me there!~

Reflections on 2020

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, by which I may be financially compensated. See  Disclosures  for more info.  It’s finally...