Emilee Speaks

Monday, May 22, 2017

My first South Dakota experience - not what I envisioned!

[Badlands National Park]

Last summer my in-laws took us all on a family road trip to South Dakota.  I have such beautiful pictures from this trip and in my effort to bring Emilee Speaks back around to a lifestyle blog, we're going to revisit this trip today.

On June 1st, 8 adults loaded up into a 12 passenger van and we took off for South Dakota.  We had about a 9hr drive ahead of us.  I love a good road trip!  We listened to music, visited with each other, read, slept...  While I love road trips, I'm a very anxious passenger.  I drive 100% of the time in our day to day life, so not having that control is hard on me.  

My in-laws are superb travel hosts.  They thought of everything.  We had every snack and refreshment you could hope to have for the drive.  I don't eat while traveling, but I definitely enjoyed many Diet Pepsi's!  I feel like now would be a great time to include the disclaimer: I have a terrible memory.  My friends even jokingly call me Dory.  It's bad.  So I'm doing my best to recount this trip from almost a year ago!

[My son at Badlands National Park]

Before we even arrived to our hotel, we stopped off at Badlands National Park.  The badlands were beautiful.  We walked all around and even climbed a bit.  Felt great after being in the car for so long.  They had a great visitor center where we stopped first for bathroom breaks and souvenirs.  If you're unsure of what the badlands are, here's a snippit from wikipedia:
Badlands National Park (Lakota: Makȟóšiča[3]) is a national park in southwestern South Dakota that protects 242,756 acres (379.306 sq mi; 98,240 ha)[1] of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. The park is managed by the National Park Service.

[My son at Crazy Horse]

Day 2 we really went for it: Custer State Park, Crazy Horse, and Mount Rushmore.  Custer was so much fun.  We saw so many animals and they would come right up to you.  You should search "Buffalo Custer State Park" on YouTube.  There's so many videos of buffalo charging vehicles, it's crazy. 

Crazy Horse was an interesting experience.  They have a neat little museum with a theater that tells all about the history of Crazy Horse.  Then we loaded up in this bus tour that drove us down close to the memorial.  They let us collect rocks if we wanted that had fallen from being chiseled from the mountain.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day as you can see from the photo.

[Mount Rushmore]

We're getting to the end of this post and I bet you're wondering where the title comes into play.  "Not what I envisioned".  I waited until Mount Rushmore to explain this to you.  My father in law is a Superintendent and history buff.  I'm not a history buff.  I'm the girl that can't keep her eyes open after 5mins in a history class.  When my in-laws announced where we'd be going for our vacation, it honestly couldn't have been more perfect.  I was excited!  I love going anywhere I haven't been and knew I'd see some pretty gorgeous famous landmarks of the United States.  However, I wasn't prepared for it to take my breath away.  I was not expecting to get emotional the first time my eyes caught a glimpse of Mount Rushmore far off through the trees.  There's this road that goes through a tunnel, and when you come out on the other side, you get your first magnificent look at Mount Rushmore...

[Mount Rushmore through the windshield exiting the tunnel]

We spent a lot of time at Mount Rushmore.  In fact we went twice.  We went back at night for the illumination ceremony.  Patriotism was strong.  It was thick in the air.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry several times.  The illumination ceremony was so moving and powerful.  I searched for some YouTube videos of this ceremony, and while you get an idea of the experience, it's no where near the same.  If you find yourself in South Dakota please take the time to go to the illumination ceremony.

[Devils Tower]

Day 3: Devil's Tower, Sturgis, & Deadwood.  Devil's Tower is breathtaking.  Everyone went off on the trail but I stayed back.  I was a little exhausted from the day before.  I sat and visited with a veteran who couldn't join his family on the trail.  I wouldn't trade my visit with this wonderful man for the world.  I was grateful that I had chose to stay back.  Once his family came back, I found a nice spot in the shade under a tree and watched 3 men climb the impressive rock.  

This morning I came across a list of blog post ideas.  One of the prompts was "talk about places you've visited that impacted your life".  I immediately thought of this trip last year to South Dakota.  I knew I had to write about it today while I was traveling down memory lane.

I am eternally grateful to my in-laws for this experience.  South Dakota definitely wouldn't have been a place a would have chosen for myself.  So had it not been for them, I would've missed out.  I'm blessed to have them in my life.  I'm also very fortunate to be a part of this family that truly enjoys just being together. 

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Coffee & Vape Pairings

This post is intended for an audience of adults age 21 and older.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
. All opinions are mine alone. #CueVapor #VapingMadeSimple #CollectiveBias


I’ve enjoyed vaping for several years now.  My favorite time of day (aside from my nightly routine) is my morning coffee and vape session.  It’s my favorite way to greet the day.  I sit down at my desk with my vape, coffee, and my planner to see what the day will bring.  Vaping is an alternative to smoking, and smells MUCH better!

I thought it would be fun to bring together coffee and vaping by sharing some of my favorite fancy coffee recipes paired with different vape flavors.


||Homemade Mocha Frappuccino||

There’s nothing better than mint & chocolate.  So I’m pairing the Mocha Frappuccino with the Cue™ Vapor System Creamy Mint flavor cartridge.

*1c Ice
*½ Coffee, freshly brewed & cooled
*⅓c Half & Half
*2tbsp chocolate syrup, I used sugar free syrup
*additional sugar if you prefer
Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Add to your glass of choice, I love using mason jars.  For fun you can also top with whipped topping, additional chocolate syrup, and chocolate chips!


||S’more Latte||

When you’re opting for a sweeter drink like the S’more Latte, it’s best to go with a less sweet vape flavor.  I’m pairing the S’more Latte with the Cue™ Vapor System Smooth Tobacco flavor cartridge.

*1c Milk
*½ c Coffee, freshly brewed
*2tbsp Marshmallow cream
*2tbsp Chocolate syrup, I used sugar free syrup
In a saucepan, warm the milk, marshmallow cream, and chocolate syrup over medium heat until melted.  Blend this mixture until it’s frothy.  Slowly pour into your coffee.  I like to top it off with more marshmallow cream, chocolate syrup drizzle, and sprinkled with cinnamon.

||Homemade Cold Brew||

There’s so many different ways to make cold brew coffee.  I prefer making it in large batches, but today I’m going to show you the most simple way possible.  I’ll be pairing the strong flavor of my cold brew coffee with the Cue™ Vapor System Peach Tobacco flavor cartridge.

*3/4c coarsely ground coffee
*2 ½ c water
For this recipe you’ll need a french press.  Put your coffee in the bottom of the french press.  Add your water.  Stir with a wooden or plastic spoon to evenly distribute the coffee into the water.  Put the lid on, but don’t push your french press plunger down.  We need the coffee to soak in the water for 12-24hrs.  Once your coffee is finished ‘cold brewing’ pour into a glass container with a lid.  You’ve just made cold brew concentrate!  Now add it to milk or additional water and flavor as you wish.  I added some concentrate to a glass of ice, added more water, and poured in a small amount of condensed milk.  Super mild with a decadent cream.


Today I used the Cue™ Vapor System.  Cue vapor products are simple to use.  Great for beginners.  It’s Vaping. Made Simple.™  I have a friend that wants to make the shift from smoking to vaping, but she’s intimidated by vape store products.  I knew this system would be perfect for her with choices in flavors, nicotine levels and device colors and using pre-filled, disposable cartridges.  Its sleek and elegant design will help her make the shift to vaping.
The Cue Vapor System is so incredibly easy to setup and start using right out of the box!

The Cue Vapor System can be purchased online and is available at select stores.
For more information you can follow along online.

NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS. California Proposition 65. WARNING: This product can expose you to chemicals including nicotine, which is known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information, go to www.p65warnings.ca.gov. WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. Cue™, the Cue Logo and Vaping. Made Simple.™ are trademarks of Digirettes, Inc.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Good, The Bad and the Pugly | BARKBOX UNBOXING

It's Callie and I's favorite time of the month again!  Barkbox day!  We excitedly accepted it from the postal carrier and ran in to film an unboxing for you!

This month's theme is wild west and it couldn't be any cuter.  Little miss recently got her summer haircut.  She started blowing her coat and I just couldn't keep it under control.  We'd brush twice a day and she was still matting and tangling.  So I grabbed my trusty Wahl clippers and went to town.  If you're curious, I used 3/8" on her body, 5/8" on her legs, and 3/4" guards on her head.  She's happy as can be and prancing all over.

Without further ado, Here's our unboxing video!

Get your first box free [and a free one for Calliope!] 

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Vlogging and new content

I seriously made some strides this week and jumped out of my comfort zone... I filmed myself.  I.  Filmed.  Myself.  This is so exciting and scary to me on so many levels.  I've been thinking a lot lately about my "brand" and the direction I want it to go.  I love planners but that's not all that I'm about.  I'm taking this huge journey to healthy, and there's a lot going on my life that isn't planners.  I want to share that with you!  I'm absolutely not leaving planners, but that's not what EmileeSpeaks was about.  EmileeSpeaks is MY lifestyle blog.  I got a little sidetracked and veered too far into the crafting world and left the essence of EmileeSpeaks in the dust.  Planners are fun & functional, but not very personable.  I lost my connection with you all.  How do I change that?  Well obviously I create content for the blog more that isn't planner related.  Which will be happening.  I also wanted to take that leap and go a step further... vlogging.  It's incredibly scary to put yourself out there, but I know I love watching vlogs and so do many people.  I think that I have a lot to share with my weight watchers journey.  One of my favorite YouTube genre videos right now IS weight watchers related content.  There's so many wonderful WW vloggers and we can all learn from each other.  My vlogs won't solely be WW, but a big chunk of it will be, because that's a big chunk of my life right now.

A few notes about my first vlog: I don't have a vlogging camera.  I only have my DSLR.  If you have a DSLR you know that hauling that big guy around and holding up to film yourself is a workout in itself!  So I tried some footage on my phone camera.  Well... I completely forgot about video orientation on the phone camera, so a lot of the footage isn't great.  I'll do better.  Also, I've never edited video with spoken audio before and it got out of sync in a couple of places.  I'll do better.  I plan on getting a mount for my car for my DSLR and I'll also do more vlogging just holding my DSLR.  The quality is much better on that than my phone, obviously.  Eventually, [if things go well with vlogging... this is just trial and error right now] I will plan on getting a separate camera for vlogging.

So. Here's my first vlog and I ask that you watch with grace!

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