In Which I Take Myself on a Date to the Theater

Early in 2014 I was freshly single.  I wasn’t interested in new men, but I was still interested in doing fun things.  So I took myself on a date to eat Indian and go shopping. Then I wrote about it, as writers tend to do, in “Table For One: Why Sometimes It’s Better to Date Yourself” which originally appeared on Unwritten. I wrote about the myth of “The Gap”: when single, you often feel like there is a huge gap needing to be filled, often by another partner.  I explained that this Gap isn’t real.  We are always complete without another person.

Then in May that article went up on The Huffington Post and did well.  Ironically, I had just started dating a great man when it ran.  Even though I was seeing someone, I took with me the lessons learned from dating myself as a single woman: it is important to spend time alone doing what you love.  After all, the only person guaranteed to be with you always is yourself.

Now it’s January and I am joyously content in a healthy, loving relationship.  And you know what?  Same story applies.  I am still my own person even though I’m excited to share my life with another.  So I took myself to the theater.  Ticket for one!  A kind woman in my life offered me a single ticket to the fabulous theater in Las Vegas, The Smith Center, to see the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  I heart musicals.

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I dressed nicely, arrived early, bought myself a drink and some M&Ms (more of my favorite things!), and enjoyed a night to myself.

It’s important not to get lost into somebody else.  I can love fiercely and loyally, share my heart and time, and make room in my life for another.  But I must continue to invest time into myself and love myself.  For me, doing something I love without the boyfriend (and without girlfriends!) is crucial.  I must remind myself that I am already complete – a fact that allows me to WANT somebody else, instead of NEED somebody else. By the way, it’s so unfair to expect somebody to complete you.  That’s way too big an expectation to put on another human being.

This quote came up on my Instagram recently, and I couldn’t agree with its sentiment more.  It beautifully wraps up my thoughts:

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On Yoga Mats and Being Less Bitchy

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While I step into yoga class to calm myself and find my Zen, I set aside two anxiety-inducing facts:

  1. I just had to madly search every inch of my living space for my vanishing yoga mat.
  2. My car smelled remarkably sour from a 3-day-old smoothie I somehow forgot to throw into any trashcan I passed over the last 72 hours. Did I mention said sour smoothie was not seated in the cup holder? Oh no. It was splayed across the driver’s seat where my large yogi butt had to sit in order to drive to the class that would give me a bikini-ready yogi butt.

I roll out my mat and settle into Child’s Pose, hoping that my body will calm and my mind will follow suit. No thoughts of exams, pressures, or my ever-growing obsession with finding a way to make ice cream a health food. Constant reminders to empty my mind fill each crevice of my brain, and I am fully aware of the irony!

The instructor begins by reminding us to set an intention for our practice. I realize I have no intention perfectly prepared for this moment. Anxiously, I reach into my brain hoping to find some profound truth to hold on to for the next 75 minutes. Bitchy. Be Less Bitchy.  This phrase keeps running through my mind, yet I don’t think the Yogis of Old would appreciate nor validate “Lessening Bitchiness” as an intention. Finally, my mind lands on “peaceful.”  But let’s be real. “Peaceful” is really the same thing as “Be Less Bitchy” – it just has a more meditative ring to it.

The class progresses. I become more flexible and my muscles start heating up. The teacher tells us to rest in Chair Pose. A.K.A. rest in a squat.  My idea of resting is lying on the couch and watching Netflix until my eyes glaze over and words begin to jumble. Orange is the New House of Scandal.   Resting in a glorified squat position seems daunting if not impossible. Sweat pours down my face. My legs shake. I chant: “Bikini-ready yogi butt…Bikini-ready yogi butt…Forget it, I’ll wear a cover up all summer”.

The instructor tells us it is now time for handstands. She explains that there are two times when we should choose to abstain from these balancing inversions:

  1. Shoulder or wrist pain
  2. Menstrual Cycle

Now, I’m not really on my menstrual cycle. But what is she going to do? Check?!? I know handstands result in one outcome for me: face smashed into the floor.   It’s not that I don’t want to stretch my body to do hard things (get your mind out of the gutter), I just prefer to humiliate myself only four or five times a week, and I already met my quota.

Finally, we come to Savasana. The blessed salvation at the end of a sweaty session! I lie down on my mat and close my eyes. The instructor reminds us that we are in a supportive place, we can completely relax. I laugh to myself. I don’t doubt that those around me are supportive, but I have to wonder if I’m lacking a severe amount of support for myself. I take a breath. I retrace my steps throughout the class and decide to change my mind.

  1. If I want to intentionally be less bitchy, high-freaking-five to me! The world needs a little less bitchy.
  2. I can rest in uncomfortable situations. I don’t need to be numbing myself with Orange is the New House of Scandal in order to rest. I am a strong person. Resting in Chair Pose? I got that!
  3. Humiliation is not a required emotion. I can do something silly, wrong, or embarrassing and not feel humiliated. I have an awesome laugh. I should use it with myself a little more often.

We are all telling our stories every second of our lives. Changing our minds and changing negative thought patterns are fantastic plot twists. Choosing to not attempt a handstand because I may fall is a boring story line. Choosing to attempt a handstand and falling is a great action-packed comedic moment.

So I walk back to my car and can feel the bitchiness melting away. I suddenly remember the “Smoothie Catastrophe of the Decade” still waiting for me in my car and choose to laugh instead of roll my eyes. I can, quite literally, rest in this uncomfortable situation without turning up the bitchy factor.

Namaste.

When In Catalina Island

Catalina FINAL

I had been to Catalina Island before, but I hadn’t really explored it.  So when my Carnival Cruise dropped me and my Man-Friend off at the city of Avalon in this little island off the coast of California, I was ready to wander.  I’m not a big believer in planned-organized, expeditions.  I like to be my own tour guide and let the wind take me where it wants me to go!

Golf Cart Selfie

Golf Cart Selfie

The first thing I noticed as we got off the tender was a little collection of golf carts.  My adventure radar went off, and before I knew it we had paid for an hour of badass golf cart exploring!  The rental came with an illustrated map (that to my eyes may as well have just been a blank sheet of paper- thank goodness for a visually adept travel partner!) describing a path that will take you around the main parts of Avalon.  You’re supposed to be able to make the entire trek in 45 minutes with no stops.  We stopped about 632 times to take pictures (and selfies!), so we cut off a few parts of the path.  I highly recommend making a golf cart trek the first thing you do in Catalina.  You get a good survey of the area, see breathtaking views, and …duh… ride in a golf cart!

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After returning the cart, we meandered through the shops, restaurants, and bars.  There is a Gluten Free friendly restaurant that I was so excited to try, but they were closed the day I was there.  SO bummed.  Luckily we stumbled into Maggie’s Blue Rose which was right on Crescent Ave. (the main street).  The staff was eager to share that most of the menu was already Gluten Free.  We each had a perfect margarita (and I’m a Margarita expert!) and shared TO DIE FOR chicken nachos (which I didn’t get a picture of because I was too busy taking pictures of tequila-y margarita!).

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The weather was gorgeous even in January – a high of 70 degree with a light breeze.  It was too cold to lay out on the beach in a bikini, but warm enough to be more than comfortable in jeans.  The sun was shining, the ocean was crashing, boats were docked, and tequila was consumed.

Catalina Island is a great spot for a quick getaway – a local recommended the Catalina Express to quickly get you to the island from So Cal.  It’s also a stop on the 4-day Mexican cruise on Carnival Cruise line.

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MLK Day: Quality of Life Over Longevity

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important

- Martin Luther King Jr.

I was on Pinterest the other day, because I’m a twenty-something female.  We pin.  I came across this quote:

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This sentiment is being lived out/worked through by my generation quite a bit more than the generations before.  The Millennials are “Generation Y” for a good reason: we want to know the WHY behind everything.  Why do people go to college, get married and have babies?  Why do women stay home and cook?  Why do men go to the same job for 40 years?  We need good, solid answers to these questions, or we simply aren’t interested. Tradition be damned if it only sticks around for tradition’s sake.

One of these big “why”s for me is why do we work our butts off for 13 to 23 years in formal education, then spend the next 40 years working at the same job while raising a family, AND THEN retire and enjoy?  I have no idea if I’m going to live long enough to reach that retirement age.  Life has no guarantees.  And even if I did live that long, will I still have the same energy, vigor, and physical capacities that I do now?

Why wait for adventure, travel, joy and spontaneity?  Why wait to start an organization or change the world?

I’m fortunate enough to be in the very baby years of my adulthood.  This spring I will turn 24.  Old enough to know what makes me hungover, and young enough to still drink it anyway.  In other words, I’ve gained a bit of wisdom and experience.  I’ve learned a few rules of life.  But I’m still young enough to break them without too much fear.

See, I think Martin Luther King Jr. knew something that most of us don’t.  We can’t bank on a long life to bring about a full life.  We have to have the full life now. Here was a man who literally changed the world in 39 years.  He could have gone to work each day, lived the same year over and over again, and he might still be alive today.  But I don’t think he would have counted that as a life.  Not a life to the fullest.

I found a career that I can do from anywhere on this planet, as long as they offer wi-fi.  So I’m not waiting for my 60th birthday to start doing the things I want to do, because I might not get there.  I want to do them now.  I want to travel wildly, write music, meet people, experience life in all it has to offer, and bring about positive change.

The thing is, I think no matter your stage in life, nobody is condemned to living the same year 75 times over and calling it a life.  It just takes a little work.  Instead of coming home and turning on the TV, open up Rosetta Stone Italian so you can be ready for a trip.  Pick up that paintbrush, that guitar, or that hot glue gun.  Make something!  Try new restaurants, meet new people, walk a different park path.  Become the change that you want to see in the world.  Start rescuing the people you want to rescue.  Life your life NOW.

Since today is MLK Day, let’s take on the spirit of a man who desired quality over quantity in years.  He demanded that his life, no matter how short it would be, would count for something.  And he demanded that every human have the opportunity for a quality life.  Years are numbered.  Make them count.

The Writer’s Block: A Word-Lover’s Heaven in Las Vegas

I had been seeing posts on social media about this new Indie bookstore popping up in Downtown Las Vegas, The Writer’s Block.  Honestly, my first thought was, “Ballsy – a bookstore in the e-book age.”  I like ballsy.  I also like books.  So I decided to check it out.  Their white building is located on Fremont St. between 10th and 11th.  I parked on the side of the bookstore and was greeted by a sweet saleswoman who explained where all their sections were located.  I found this to be entirely charming because, growing up in Vegas, I was used to mass book barns with hundreds sections and rows, easily a place to get lost – instead this cozy shop was broken down by a few large categories (fiction/non-fiction/children).

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Instantly, I was drawn in with a magical force that any book nerd/English major can understand.  My eyes flitted across the various glory: a collection of Cheever’s short stories,  a book of Dickinson’s poetry selected by Joyce Carol Oates, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, and even modern bestsellers like Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS.  And everything else anybody could want.

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There was a lovely children’s section that I sadly felt too old to meander through.  It doesn’t matter how old I get, I still love children’s books.  They  remind me of nights under the covers reading books with mom and falling in love with stories.

This bookstore was not lacking in charm!  Sprinkled throughout the store were little novelty items: tea and boardgames and interesting items such as containers of Dramatic Irony.  I can’t even handle the brilliant wit of buying a jar of dramatic irony.  Love.  Is this only something English Majors laugh at?  Moving on…

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No bookstore can ever be complete without a bunny. Meet “The Baron.”  Because why the hell not!

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The Writer’s Block is not just a bookstore, fellow book lovers.  They’re currently only in Preview Days.  Come February they are planning on unveiling every bit of goodness they have to offer.  A door in the back of the bookstore leads to a large room where they will be holding classes on everything from creative writing to calligraphy to using this beautiful press from 1890 (can’t wait!):

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Their back room has sectioned-off tables that can be rented out for book clubs or writing groups.  AND – with well-placed theatre lighting, the entire room can be cleared and used for readings.  Be still my beating heart!

This truly is a “writer’s block” to cure all writer’s block – The Writer’s Block’s website describes it as a “Bookseller, Book Manufacturer, Publisher, Writer’s Workshop, Artificial Bird Sanctuary.”  I felt giddy the entire time I was there and I still feel giddy writing about it.  It’s a heaven for the word-lover.

How to Road Trip Gluten Free

How To Road Trip Gluten Free: A Simple Guide For Those Who Travel While Eating Gluten Free ~ www.taylorduvall.com ~ #glutenfree #celiac #travel #roadtrip

 

In 2014, I went on 10 road trips throughout the western United States.  I love adventure and travel, so all this driving left me in my happy place.  I also happen to have Celiac disease.  So typical “road trip” food from fast food joints isn’t on the table for me.  Being on the road is the last place you want to experience any negative side effects from accidentally consuming Gluten! But just because I can’t consume greasy burgers or sugary donuts along the way, doesn’t mean I still can’t enjoy every second of a road trip.  Through trial and error I’ve discovered how to road trip Gluten Free.

1.  Prep food as much as possible

Preparation is the key to success when it comes to a long road trip.  I typically bring a bag of GF chips, some Larabars or protein bars, and a sugary snack. I have brought Gluten Free bread and lunch meat with me in a cooler. It’s cheaper to bring it from home, and you can rest assured that there will be something for you to eat.   This is a good tip even for non-Gluten-Freers.  Bringing your own food and drinks is simply cheaper.  And the more money you save, the more money you have to go on another trip!  Bring a six-pack of bottled water while you’re at it.  In case something happens to your vehicle and you’re stranded, you won’t get dehydrated.

2.  Download the “Find Me GF” App

When I drive through bigger towns/cities the Find Me GF app makes life so much easier.  Once you get close to the city and have access to wi-fi, you can pull up the app and search restaurants with Gluten Free food near you.  Each restaurant is given ratings from reviewers and a preview of the type of Gluten Free food they have on their menu.  You can include chain restaurants in your search, but you don’t have to.  This can be a cool way to find new local restaurants that you don’t have at home.

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3.  Search the Convenience Store shelves

There have been times when I was hungry for a meal and was able to scrounge up enough food at a pit-stop convenience store to make a “snack meal.”  A lot of gas station stores carry string cheese, yogurt, fruit, and nuts – throw those together and voila!  If you’re only looking for a snack, you should have no problem.  There’s always a bag of Lay’s potato chips to be found or even a bag of peanuts.  And candy? Almost every single candy is Gluten Free.  On most road trips, I grab a small bag (ok a big bag) of Peanut M&Ms.  Click here for a comprehensive list of Gluten Free candy.

A convenience store run with the boyfriend on a road trip.  My Gluten Free finds are easy to spot: potato chips, nuts, M&Ms, and gum.

A convenience store run with the boyfriend on a road trip. My Gluten Free finds are easy to spot: potato chips, nuts, M&Ms, and gum. No Zebra cakes for me!

4. When in doubt, make Subway your friend

There are over 26,000 Subways in the United States.  And even the smallest of pit-stop towns typically have a Subway.  Subway offers chopped salads and almost every meat and sauce is Gluten Free (click here for the comprehensive list).  I’m not saying this is the most delectable meal you will ever eat on the road.  It’s not.  But with enough veggies, you can muster enough flavor to keep you satisfied.  I typically order a spinach and lettuce base with grilled chicken.  I load up on the veggies and finish with avocado, oil, vinegar and salt & pepper.  Just ask the employees working the line if they would change out their gloves to avoid as much cross-contamination as possible.

Happy (Gluten Free) Travels!!

Amy Poehler (my friend) and her book: Yes Please.

Before I talk about her book Yes Please, I must confess I am a true blue Amy Poehler fangirl.  Girl crush.  If I were to receive the opportunity to have lunch with any celebrity I would choose Amy Poehler.   If the world was ending and I got to choose one thing to take with me, I would save Amy Poehler.  Sorry, family and dear friends.

Amy (we are on a first name basis) made a name for herself on Saturday Night Live, but found her way into my heart through her character on Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope. Knope is smart, quirky, ambitious, silly, loving, lively – but mostly funny.  Those sad folks saying women aren’t funny, simply aren’t paying attention.  Poehler plays a humble Parks department director who is a true feminist – with no bitchiness and plenty of humor.  A rare, but terrific female character to find on TV.

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There is no show on TV written more perfectly suited for my liking, which I’m sure they were considering while producing it.  All this to say, Amy P and I are really the greatest of chums in my head.

Then she went about writing a book.  And it was exactly as great as I wanted it to be.

Book review of Yes Please by Amy Poehler ~ www.taylorduvall.com ~ #book #bookreview #amypoehler #yesplease

In Yes Please, Poehler is quirky, charming, hilarious and smart.  She discusses her adventure into the world of comedy and improv and her time on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation.  She also throws in her thoughts on topics from pregnancy to divorce to drugs to parents and how women hate their bodies.  All of this is done candidly and hysterically with just enough cuss words and sex jokes to make it only the best book since Anna Karenina.

There’s also a silly amount of true wisdom and insight.  One of my favorite moments is when Amy shares her motto: “Good for her! Not for me.  That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again.  Good for her! Not for me.” As women we often think we have got it figured out and sometimes feel that we need to share how awesomely figured-out we really got it with everyone who OBVIOUSLY didn’t figure it out yet.  This leads to a lot of shaming, fighting, and competition.  Instead, I love the idea of celebrating what works for other women (Good for her) and also knowing what works for our own lives (not for me).

As a young women entering the world in creative self-employed fields, I also valued her thoughts on careers and creativity: “You have to care about your work but not about the result.  You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.

I can’t recommend this book more highly to my lady friends, whether or not your BFFs with Amy Poehler like I am.  Her thoughts on body image and children and love and career are important, but also fun.  You will laugh and feel empowered.  It’s good to do both frequently.  I can also recommend it to my guy friends with the warning that the word “vagina” comes up regularly, and it’s not in the sexy way you’d be hoping for: “Trying to get pregnant is the most vulnerable thing in the world.  You have to openly decide you are ready and then you have to put sperm in your vagina and elevate your legs like you are an upside-down coffee table.  It’s all ridiculous and incredibly sci-fi.”

Love me some Amy Poehler…and Yes Please truly delivered

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My New Year’s Resolution – Time Management: Structured Enough for Success, Flexible Enough for Fun

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I always know I’m going to enjoy a yoga class when the instructor begins by reminding her yogis to set an intention for their practice.  To focus our minds on something important.  Like acceptance, breathing, or joy.  Throughout the hour my intention is always in the background of my mind.

I see New Year’s Resolutions like I see Yoga Intentions. I’m not one for super goal-oriented resolutions.  I don’t have a weight loss number or organizing mission.  And hell will freeze before I give up sugar.  But I love setting my intention for the year.  The theme for the next 12 months.

For last year’s Resolution/Intention I had chosen To Be a Gatherer of Experiences and Friendships, and not a Gatherer of Things.  Let me tell you – I definitely wasn’t a gatherer of things. Girlfriend spent the year broke.  But experiences and friendships?  I gathered those two treasures like a boss.  I said “Yes” as much as I possibly could.  I traveled lots, spent time with cool people, and did as many awesome things I could fit into 8,760 hours. I was entirely satisfied with 2014.

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Then 2015 started to come near.  I had no idea what my Resolution should be.  I tried to come up with a poetic, inspired theme for the new year to match the winner I came up with last year.  But all I kept thinking of was “Time Management.”  Boring.  But you know what – it’s exactly what I need.  2015 will most likely be the craziest year I’ve ever lived.

From January to July I will be going to school full time, building up this blog, doing as many freelance projects I can fit in, working out four days a week, recording my first EP, prepping for a move (to somewhere undisclosed), continuing the pursuit of experiences and friendships, and, ya know, sitting now and then.  Then July through December I will be my own boss for the first time while living in a new place.  In order to do it all I must practice effective time management.

But here’s the problem.  In the past, I have been an obsessive and inflexible planner.  This past year was the first time I had really learned to let go and let life happen – thus all that gathering of experiences.  So my time management cannot come at the expense of living a full life.  Thus, my New Year’s Resolution:

To be Structured enough for Success and Achievement and Flexible enough for Creativity and Fun.

Resolution

I really have no idea how to have structured Time Management as my own “boss.”  With the exception of school, everything I need to do on the daily I will be in charge of.  No talking head will be telling me to do this at 11am and that at 4:30.  I’ve had a few ideas on how to accomplish this:

1. I bought a cute planner at Target

Yes, it has to be cute for me to use it.  Do I think I will actually use it?  No clue.  But I’m going to try.  Planning out a day on my phone doesn’t work for me, so I’m going to give old-fashioned paper a shot.  I’m also only using pencil on my planner, because sometimes plans need to be erased or moved to make room for creativity and fun.  I’ve also started a blogging planner to help keep this blog going strong.

2. I need to slim down Social Media

I’m a social media addict.  It’s hard to tame a necessary addiction.  In order to be a blogger, writer (and human?) – social media becomes a requirement.  But I can kill way too much time pinning, tweeting and instagraming.  There only needs to be a few minutes of social media a day.  I can’t ruin a day full of potential by reveling in other people’s lives on social meda- I must go about living my own.

3. Leave room for Rest

I know I’m entering the busiest year of my life yet.  And I will push myself to a new level.  But I must allow myself to rest.  Burning out or getting sick will do me no good.  I need quiet time: reading a book, taking a bath, or watching a movie.  I have a feeling that the Rest/Work/Play balance is more of an art and less of a science.  I’m planning on listening to my body and letting it lead the way.

4. Remember Why

When it all gets overwhelming, and I go to bed wondering what they hell I’ve done taking a chance on my dreams – I will remember why I’m doing it all.  I’m pursing every dream because I have one life that moves quickly.  I’m kicking my own ass because I have lived the practical life I should have lived and felt like I was dying every single day.  I’m becoming the woman I want to be because I have the power to do so.

I want this Intention to be in the back of my mind throughout the year.  I want the world to be mine, and I need to manage my time well enough to make it happen – with structure and flexibility.

We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it. – Roald Dahl 

An Interview on “Life Is…”

I had the utter privilege of being interviewed for the sweet Katie Visconti’s blog “Life Is...” She asked me hard questions about life as I see it – like “What does the world need more of?” Everything I believe is somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but having to articulate your beliefs into words makes you think long and hard about precisely what it is you think.  I love this.  I love having to put my sporadic thoughts into concrete words.

Click here to read the interview.  While you’re there check out Katie’s blog – it truly is a beautiful space with beautiful thoughts and words.

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P.S. The photo used in the interview is by the terrific Bethany Paige Photography

 

When in Arizona: Tucson

Not every single desert is made the same way.  There is pretty desert and then there is brown desert.  I grew up in brown desert.  Tucson, Arizona, however, is pretty desert.  A little extra loving care was put into the creation of this southern Arizona city, less than 100 miles from the border of Mexico.

I arrived to Tucson just in time for sunset.  The mixture of the setting sun, cacti, desert plants and flowers, red and brown rocks and mountains set the scene for a beautiful evening.

When in Tucson

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The thing about the “pretty desert” is that it’s unconventionally pretty.  It’s not what you find on a postcard capturing picturesque perfection.  But it’s special nonetheless.  It’s rough around the edges.  But that sun shines a little brighter on the rough spots.

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The orangey-pink sunset was priceless and gorgeous and movie-kiss-worthy.

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And let me tell you – I stayed in THE BEST Bed and Breakfast while there.  I highly recommend it for a little getaway.  It’s on the edge of Tuscon, it’s private, and it is beautiful.  Let me introduce you to the Hacienda del Desierto.

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This B&B offers four separate guest room options and a whole lot of character.  The owners are the epitome of hospitality and kindness and spared no attention to detail.  They were attentive to my Gluten Free needs.  The room was exquisitely clean with anything and everything you may need during your stay.  I would absolutely stay here again.

And, of course, no Arizona trip is complete without Tequila!

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Cheers to pretty desert!

All photos taken by Taylor DuVall on the property of the Bed&Breakfast – Hacienda del Deseirto.