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In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub

June 16, 2020
In-ground stock tank pool
In-ground stock tank pool
In-ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub

Let’s cut to the chase and show you exactly how we built our in-ground stock tank pool. I’ll try to save you all of the fluff on how awesome it is and how happy it makes us every day. The 8ft by 2ft stock tank pool is plenty big for 4 large adults to enjoy at the same time. Add in some Palm Springs style floaties to create a Pinterest-worthy setting. Use the heating process outlined below to keep it at perfect pool temperatures or crank it up for some hot tub fun!

The Process

Below is an outline of the steps we took while completing our in-ground stock tank pool and hot tub. Don’t get overwhelmed. We had never done anything like this before either. Take it one step at a time. It is so worth it once it’s done.

  1. Order all of the tools and parts first (links provided in ‘What to Purchase’ section below these steps. The products we used are also linked throughout the below step by step).
  2. Purchase a stock tank and pick it up. We got our 8 ft tank from a local Tractor Supply store and picked it up with a Uhaul 20′ truck (which Lacey drove; she is very proud of that). D&B Supply stores also carry stock tanks.

    UHaul for Stock Tank
  3. Place the pool on your yard where you want it to eventually be in-ground and dig an outline around your pool. Put some thought into where you’re putting it as you will be trenching out the electricity to your pool pump as well as the hot water input/output hoses/tubing. Your water heater needs to be mounted on a stable structure (fence or house). I would recommend keeping your pool within 15-20 ft of where you will be mounting your water heater to make sure the pump flow rate will be strong enough to run your heater.

    Stock Tank
  4. Move the stock tank and start digging within the outline you just made. Be careful as there could be sprinkler lines or other important utility lines underground.

    In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub
  5. Dig, dig, dig until you have completed the hole with the depth of around 20-22 inches. The exact depth you want will depend on the height of the pavers or whatever else you will be bordering the pool.

    We were lucky and had plenty of room along the back of our fence to dump dirt. Wear gloves to avoid blisters! You’ll thank me later.

  6. If you run into sprinkler lines, like we did, you’ll need to re-route them to be on the outside of your hole. I purchased some sprinker pipe and push and click coupling from Home Depot to make this as easy as possible. Sprinkler pipe size varies.

  7. From the area of your hole that is closest to the wall/fence you will be mounting your water heater and hot water pump on, dig a 2 1/2 ft x 2 1/2 ft square that connects to your circle. Make this about 20 inches deep as well. This is where your pool pump is going to go and where you will access your pump connections attached to your pool.
  8. Dig an underground trench leading out from your pump box to the wall/fence where you will be mounting your water heater, hot water pump, and where your electricity will connect. Insert some flexy drain pipe in the trench and pull through an extension cord (for your pool pump) and the hoses/tubes for your hot water input/outputs. MARK your black tubing so you know which line is going to be the input line and which is the output. Bury the flexy drain pipe and patch up any grass that got damaged.
  9. Drill 4 holes in your stock tank within a 2ft square section (2 holes for your pool pump and 2 for your hot water input/outputs). One 2-3/4″ hole on the top left of your 2ft section, and another 2-3/4″ on the bottom right. One 7/8″ hole on the top right and one 7/8″ on the bottom left. Make sure there are a few inches of clearance around the holes as you will need room to screw on the pump plunger valves and the hot water input/outputs.
    I would recommend including the stock tank drain plug (comes built in to the stock tank) within this 2 ft section so you can seal and monitor for leaks there as well.

  10. Connect your pool pump input/outputs as well as your hot water input/outputs. For the hot water input/outputs, the larger pieces will be on the outside of the pool. Don’t connect any hoses yet! That will come later after placing the pool in the hole. Seal/caulk thoroughly around your connectors and also the stock tank’s built in drain plug. Let this dry for at least 24 hrs in 70 degree+ temperatures.
  11. Tamp (pack down), lay paver base, and level the entire inside of the hole and any bordering area where you might be laying pavers.

    A basic approach to leveling is to lay a few 1 inch thick pieces of wood across the ground (the length of your hole) and make them level with each other. These will be your leveling guides. Start at one side of the hole and start pouring paver base on top of your leveling guides. Take another piece of wood and lay it on top, perpendicular to your leveling guides. Start pulling back the paver base with this piece of wood (2nd pic below). Add more paver base to low spots and keep pulling the paver base back until the entire area is level. Then remove your leveling guides and gently fill in their tracks with paver base. Sprinkle some hose water on top and you should have your level foundation for the stock tank!

  12. Drop the stock tank in the hole with the connectors being lined up inside the pump box you dug. Back fill in any gaps around your pool with dirt.

  13. Build a frame for your pump box. I used some scrap 2 x 4’s I had in the garage along with some old fencing planks to use for the walls of the box. I fashioned a lid from some beat up white fence planks my mom had left over. We also stuffed in a rubber maid container for the pump to sit on. It helps keep dirt away from the pump.

  14. Connect your pool pump hoses to the input/outputs you installed. These are the large grey hoses shown above. Next, you will need to connect the hose fittings you purchased to the hot water carrying black hoses/tubing you also purchased. Once you have done that, connect the black hoses to the input/outputs you installed. You can also see that the hot water input (bottom left black hose) has a filter connected to it. That is recommended to help avoid any large pieces of debris from being sucked into your water heater.
  15. Mount the water heater and pump to your wall or fence. This should be placed right above where you trenched out the electricity and hot water input/output hoses. Do not plug in the mounted pump unless you are ready to use it. It turns on automatically when plugged in.

    In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub
  16. Connect the black tubing to your water heater. Your input line will connect to the mounted pump then from the pump to the water heater. Your output line will connect directly from the water heater to your output nozzle on your stock tank. Then connect your 20 lb liquid propane tank (according to the instructions that came with you water heater. Read the instructions carefully. Spray some soapy water around your propane connections after opening to identify any leaks.
  17. If you’re bordering your in-ground stock tank pool/hot tub with pavers: Lay weed barrier around the perimeter of your pool. Lay paver base on top of the weed barrier and level it. Start laying your pavers while also placing and anchoring your paver edging up against the back row of pavers . We laid 4 rows of these pavers (225 of them) from Home Depot. We used about 7 buckets of Perma Sand to fill in the joints. Then we sprinkled some EZ Seed around the pavers to get some pretty grass growing back around the pavers. It took about 4 weeks for new grass to fill in.

    In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub
    In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub
    In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub
  18. Slowly start filling up your pool. Check for leaks at every check point along the way. If you sealed everything properly with this stuff, you should be good to go.

    If you’re good on leaks, fill it all the way up. Make sure the water goes above your output connections. Plug in your pool pump, make sure it’s connected correctly according to the instructions it came with. Turn it on and watch it work! There is a timer option on this pump. We have ours set to run for 2hrs every day.

    If you have fully read and understood the water heater instructions, give that a whirl too. As long is it is connected properly, all you will need to do to turn it on is to open the propane gas tank and plug in the mounted pump. The water coming in from the pump will turn on the water heater and hot water will start pushing back out to your In-ground stock tank pool through the top output connection. So cool!
  19. Grab 2 chlorine tablets, drop ’em in your chlorine floatie and throw it in the pool. Add 2 more tablets anytime these run out. They last about a week. Drop in your pool thermometer and you’re good to go.

What to Purchase

Before putting a shovel in the ground, hop online and order all of your supplies. Below is the list of what we ordered. It was nice ordering everything from Amazon for quicker/cheaper shipping and also so we could manage all of our orders in one spot.

Items needed to build your In-Ground Stock Tank Pool and Hot Tub


1. You can significantly save on the flight, if you buy tickets during sales with canadadian travels, promotions, during the failure of booking systems. Stay tuned for airline promotions and you will always be the first to know about low-cost tickets. The number of inexpensive tickets is inversely proportional to the number of people who know about them. (Read the mailings). 2. When planning your route, consider the flight map of low-cost airlines. If you buy tickets on time, the cost of a flight with a low-cost airline (what is it?) May be less than the cost of travel from the city center to the airport. It’s a good idea for Europe to remember at least these four airlines: Ryanair, Easyjet, WizzAir, Norwegian. (Full list of low-cost airlines). 3. Fly through neighboring countries – Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Finland. If you have a lot of time and want to save money, then this is your option. (Examples of cheap routes).

AMES 2233400 9-Pound Steel Tamper with Hardwood Handle, 48-Inch
Critical tool to help level the underground surface where your pool will be placed.

BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Cordless Drill / Driver, 3/8-Inch (LDX120C)
Power drill to make your input/output holes in the stock tank.

LENOX Tools Hole Saw, Bi-Metal, Speed Slot, Arbored, 7/8-Inch (1772429)
Drill bit for the hot water input/output holes in the stock tank.

MK Morse MHSA44C Hole Saw with Attached Arbor, 2-3/4″ Diameter
Drill bit for the primary pool pump input/output holes in the stock tank.

Performance Tool W30991 Black & Red Slotted Screwdriver, 5/16″ x 6″
You will need a flat head screwdriver to connect the hose nozzle hardware (below) to the black tubing.

Hanobo 1/2″ Brass Garden Hose Repair Mender Male Female Connector Stainless Clamp (3 Set-6Pcs)
Hardware that will be connected to the black tubing (below) to connect to the hot water input/output (below tubing).

TotalPond Vinyl Tubing, 1/2-inch
Hose that will connect to your hot water input/outputs and will be running water to and from your water heater.

RAINPAL RBS005 Brass Water Container/Rain Barrel Quarter Turn Spigot(Lead Free Compliant)
Hot water input/outputs connected to your stock tank. The larger side will be on the outside of the tank.
You will need 2 of these.

3M Marine Adhesive/Sealant Fast Cure (White, 10 fl.oz)
Powerful sealant to go around all of your input/output connections to prevent leaks.

Newborn 102D Drip-Free Smooth Hex Rod Cradle Caulking Gun, 1/10 Gallon Cartridge, 10:1 Thrust Ratio
Caulk Gun to apply the sealant around your input/output connections.

Flex-Drain 51110 Flexible/Expandable Landscaping Drain Pipe, Solid, 4-Inch by 25-Feet
Drain pipe you’ll be putting in the trench you made to the electricity and hot water input/output black tubes from your pump box.

BESTTEN Outdoor Power Strip with 20-Foot Ultra Long Extension Cord, 3-Outlet Weatherproof Yard Power Stake with Protective Covers, ETL Certified, Green
You’ll need a multi-outlet extension cord to plug your pumps into (length required will vary depending on your setup).

Items Needed to Run/Clean/Heat your in-ground stock tank pool:

Intex 28635EG Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter Pump for Above Ground Pools, 1500 GPH Pump Flow Rate, 110-120V with GFCI
Primary pool pump that will circulate and filter the water in your stock tank pool.

(Pack of 6) Intex 29000E/59900E Easy Set Pool Replacement Type A or C Filter Cartridge
Replacement filters for the Intex pump. Filters should be changed about every 6 weeks.

Intex Above Ground Plunger Valves with Gaskets & Nuts Replacement Part (2 Pack)
These will connect to the primary pool pump’s (Intex pump) input/output connectors and will allow you to prevent back flow to your pump while you change/clean the pump filter

(CURRENTLY SOLD OUT) Camplux 10L Outdoor 2.64 GPM Digital Display Portable Propane Gas Tankless Water Heater
Water Heater that will keep your stock tank toasty!

SEAFLO 33-Series Industrial Water Pressure Pump w/Power Plug for Wall Outlet – 115VAC, 3.3 GPM, 45 PSI
Pump that will be bringing water from the stock tank to the heater, then back to the stock tank.

LOVHO Sediment Filter Attachment Garden Hose Pressure Washer Outdoor Gardening Inlet Water (40 Mesh Screen)
Connect to your hot water input to prevent debris from pushing to your water heater.

Kem-Tek 177 1-Inch Chlorinating Tablets for Pool and Spa, 4-Pound
Chlorine to keep algae from growing in your pool. Roughly 2 tablets per week inside a chlorine floatie (see below) will do the trick.

Taylor K-1000 Basic Residential Pool & Spa Test Kit
Make sure you are putting the right amount of chlorine in your pool!

U.S. Pool Supply Economy Pool Leaf Skimmer Net with Adjustable 4 Foot Telescopic Pole
Pool Skimmer to scoop out large debris! You’ll need one of these for sure.

Fun Items to Have:

BigMouth Inc Pink Flamingo Pool Float, Inflates to Over 4ft. Wide, Funny Inflatable Vinyl Summer Pool or Beach Toy, Patch Kit Included
You’re not an official member of the Stock Tank Pool community without a Palm Springs style floatie. Ours is named ‘Carl’. What will you name yours?

Items we purchased In-Person from Home Depot (specific to how we laid pavers around our pool)

I know this seems like a lot, but it’s definitely doable and soon the hard work will be behind you and you’ll be enjoying your brand new in-ground stock tank pool and hot tub!


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Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

April 26, 2016

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to volunteer for a collaboration with Speak Your Silence. My lovely friend Laura (who happens to also be an amazing personal stylist) asked if I would help out with a photo shoot to show different ways to style their signature white T shirt. Of course I jumped at the chance! Speak Your Silence raises awareness and funds to assist with the cost of counseling for individuals who have been affected by child sexual abuse. I’m all for people helping people, however that may be.

Throughout the month of April these shirts can be purchased at Piece Unique in downtown Boise and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Speak Your Silence. Since April is almost over, you better hurry! If you can’t make it downtown by then, you can always pick up your very own shirt at!

I was fortunate enough to work with and get to know the beautiful soul of Jean from Double Take Photography during this collaboration. It’s amazing what life presents you when you are open to new experiences!

Check out Speak Your Silence’s blog post here and some of the pics below from the shoot.

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence

Collaboration with Speak Your Silence4 Peeps liked this so far.


Get Free Stuff for Paying Your Bills

April 21, 2016

I’ll admit it.  At this point, I feel super entitled to free stuff.  I’ve put in a lot of time learning how to capitalize on credit card rewards points and now I can’t wrap my head around why I would ever pay for something, ANYTHING, and not get something in return for free.  Lacey and I pay with credit cards for literally every bill and expense we have.  Yes, this will now include mortgage payments. I’m going to tell you exactly how we do it because you should be getting free stuff for paying your bills too!

Before jumping right in and signing up for random credit cards to start paying your bills with; think about what your end goals are.  What do you want to get in return?  Look back on a previous post or two of ours that should help you decide on what card to sign up for to get a certain reward in return.

Once you select and receive the credit card that is going to get you the awesome reward you’re going for, you’ll want to create an online account with the bank that sponsors your new credit card.  For example, if you signed up for the Chase Sapphire card, you’ll create an online account at .  While logged in to your account, find where you can set up auto-pay.  It’s usually under a tab titled something like “manage payments”.  I would highly recommend you set auto-pay to pay off your entire balance each month.  This is an important step to make sure you don’t miss a payment and completely jack up your credit score (35% of your credit score is your payment history).

Now, take your new card and link it to every reoccurring monthly bill you have. Login to all of your online bill pay accounts for things like cable, internet, electricity, gas, water/sewer/trash, Netflix, iTunes, and anything else you can think of.  If you’ve never setup AutoPay for things like these don’t worry, it’s really easy.  Similar to how you setup your online account with the bank that provided your credit card, you’ll create an online account and set up auto-pay for each service you subscribe to.  Set your credit card as the payment source for every monthly bill you have. By doing this along with putting all of your day to day expenses on your card (groceries, gas, meals,etc), you’ll be shocked at how easily you’ll hit your spending requirements.

At this point, you may have figured out that your mortgage company and the bank you make your car payments to won’t allow you to pay with a credit card.  This totally sucks because these are likely your 2 biggest monthly bills and now you’re missing out on tons of reward points!  While most banks won’t accept credit card payments, they will accept checks.  There is an awesome service called Plastiq that will let you set up your credit card as a payment source while they will, in turn, send a check to whoever you need to pay. Boom goes the dynamite cuz you’re back in business!  While the Plastiq service does charge a 1-2.5% fee per transaction, if you sign up through our referral link you’ll get $200 of fee free payments.  Pretty cool of them to do that.

Is it worth the % fee that Plastiq charges for making your payments? Well, that’s up to you.  To put it in to perspective, let’s say your monthly mortgage payment is $2,000.  You’ll get charged about $40 to make the payment through Plastiq.  Let’s say in this example that you’re using the Southwest Premier card to make your payment.  For the $40 you spent to put $2000 on this card, you’ll reach the spending requirement and will get an estimated $650 worth of free flights within a matter of weeks after receiving the card.  You’ll be headed to Cabo, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Aruba, or any of the other awesome new locations Southwest now flies to.  So if you’re in a rush to hit the spending requirements on a credit card to get the bonus, it may be worth a few bucks to do it through Plastiq.

I hope this gets you started on a path that earns you awesome free stuff for every dollar you spend.  The next time you get an unexpected $1,000 bill…turn that around and get a free vacation out of it!  Good luck!  Let us know if you have any questions.

Free Stuff for Paying Bills

Turn your next unexpected bill into an unexpected vacation!


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Checking in on our 2016 Game Plan

April 13, 2016

We figured since it’s over a quarter of the way through the year, now would be a good time to check in on the 2016 game plan we set at the beginning of the year. How obvious is it that I’m left brained? I blame work for making me think of the year in terms of Q1 , Q2, Q3 and Q4. Anyway, since Q1 is now complete, we are practicing what we preach by holding ourselves accountable and evaluating where we are on our goals. This is good because it gives cause to celebrate and pat yourself on the back, as well as realign the next section of the year to focus more on the goals that haven’t gotten a lot of attention yet.

As a recap, our goals are listed below:

  1. Visit 10 different cities
  2. Continue downsizing
  3. Continue paying more on our mortgage
  4. Spend more time with family and friends
  5. Improve photography skills
  6. Bedroom remodel
  7. More collaborations
  8. Save $15,000 by using rewards points
  9. Learn a second language
  10. Add yoga to the workout routine

To be honest, I’m fairly shocked that we have even started this list. To say I’m proud of our progress is putting it lightly. I’m ready to celebrate how far we are on our game plan! Let’s see how we are doing:

  1. So far we have been to two cities (San Diego and Houston) this year, and in another month we will add five more to total seven. We have more destinations on our list for the remainder of the year, but nothing is officially booked yet. I have been to San Francisco, but since Mat wasn’t with me, I figured it wasn’t fair to count that.

    Gas Lamp San Diego

    San Diego was a blast.

  2. Well, we did it. We sold Mat’s car and are now down to one! Oh my gosh are we crazy or what?! Our plan with this goal was to find out the Kelly Blue Book value of his car and put it up for sale at that price; no budging at all. We planned to leave it up for a couple of weeks and then if nothing had happened we would re-evaluate. The car sold in less than three days! I wasn’t entirely sure I was even on board with the whole one car thing, so I panicked a little. I will admit it does take a little more pre-planning, but so far, totally worth it!
  3. We were paying double on our mortgage, but since we sold Mat’s car, we put that extra money toward our condo each month. We are trying to have a free place to live as soon as possible! Seeing the principle balance on our mortgage go down each month is motivating and slightly addicting. We understand that we might not always be at a place in our lives where we are able to pay extra, which is why we are trying to take advantage now!
  4. We are known to be homebodies, especially in the winter, so we have been making a conscious effort to spend more time with people we love. We have been meeting up with other couples for dinner, drinks, brunch, etc. We spent the last three weekends in a row with family. We also plan on meeting up with five friends on our next big trip! Anybody else want to join in on the fun?
  5. We just purchased a camera and plan on meeting up with a friend (who just so happens to have been our wedding photographer) to learn more about it this weekend! As I type this, Mat is messing around with the different settings. I may or may not have just made him do some karate/ninja moves to test out the action setting. We definitely have a ways to go on this goal, but at least we have started!
  6. We also have a ways to go on our bedroom remodel, but we have completed the most important task-getting a king sized bed! Oh it’s so wonderful. I always feel like I get in it too late and have to leave it too early in the morning. I want to lounge in it all day because it’s so big and inviting. New West Elm bedding doesn’t hurt either. 😉
  7. We sort of fell into a collaboration of sorts with Venture Magazine and are stoked about it! The individuals we have met through this magazine are amazing and we can’t wait to get even more involved in this community! We also did a rad photo shoot collaboration with the ever entertaining Damon of Dynamic Shutter Photography. I also was a part of a photo shoot/event for an amazing cause, Speak Your Silence. More on that when I can give some sneak peeks. I also have another collab coming up next week that I am SO excited about! All I can say at this moment is that it involves some insanely talented individuals, including personal stylist (and my friend!) Laura Tully, amazing photography duo Ben and Joella, and Will from Flowers at Will.

    Couples Workout

    Some fun collabs with Venture Meridian Magazine so far!

  8. So far (thanks my brilliant husband) we have saved roughly $10,000 in travel costs. This includes flights to San Diego, our hotel in Houston, as well as flights and hotels for our big trip coming up to New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago. We have a few more tricks up our sleeves, but will wait until things are finalized before sharing.
  9. To be honest, we have done nothing to further our learning of a second language. Now that we carpool to work, I talk the whole drive (not surprising, I know) so Mat isn’t able to listen to his Rosetta Stone. We need to carve out some time on the weekends for this, as it helps immensely when traveling. Mat picks languages up MUCH faster than I do. I actually think it’s not possible for me to learn another language. This is me. For real.
  10. Guess how many times we have been to a yoga class this year? The answer is zero. We need to work on that. Any suggestions on where to go? Please let us know, we need help in this area!

Now is a great time to check in on the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Remember, don’t focus on the negatives, but celebrate the positives! That will give you more energy and encouragement to get back on track with your goals. I’m always down to celebrate any accomplishment, no matter how small it might be. Speaking of that, I think it’s time to open some wine to celebrate our progress.

2016 Game Plan

photograph by Ali Smith Photography

2016 Game Plan

photograph by Ali Smith Photography

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Ditching the Normal Date Night

March 20, 2016

Mat and I love “ditching the normal” anything. Hence the name of our blog. That means ditching the normal way to travel, ditching society’s views on how we should live, ditching the normal wedding ceremony, engagement rings, etc. That also includes date nights. Don’t get us wrong, we like to watch Netflix as much as the next couple, but after an entire winter of hibernating, it’s nice to get out try something different. To mix it up. That’s how we came up with the idea to have a “patio party” date night. It just so happened that we were able to score a few hours at an incredible downtown condo, not to mention the exact one that started our entire downsizing craze!

We wanted to keep it simple and romantic (and budget friendly), so we brought almost everything from our house. We brought cozy blankets, pillows and poufs as well as wine glasses and our Idaho cutting board. We stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up some light appetizers, wine and flowers. Prepping for the date was half the fun!

We spent the afternoon drinking wine, checking out the gorgeous and intimate views of downtown from the patio as well as playing a little card game. Mat won. Weird. (<—Sarcasm. He wins everything.)

We were lucky enough to have Damon of Dynamic Shutter Photography tag along to capture it! Not only is he an amazing photographer, but it turns out he’s a craftsman/wood worker as well! The end table in the photos was handmade by him! How cool is that?!

If you find yourself growing bored of the typical date nights, keep in mind that your options aren’t limited to dinner and a movie. Get creative and don’t be afraid to ditch the norm! Let us know if you have any fun ideas that we should try for our next date night.

P.S. Even with the wind, how smooth does my hair look?! That’s all thanks to the Brazilian blowout that I had that day by the lovely Shawna Hines! This woman is a hair genius and is fun to hang out with while she is working her hair magic. If you are lucky enough to schedule an appointment with her, mention my name and you get $25 off. 🙂


All photos in this post are courtesy of Dynamic Shutter Photography

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Veltex Building Boise, ID Date Night

Date Night Boise, ID

Wine Opening Boise Date Night

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Mat Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Wine, Cheese, Crackers, Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID

Kissing on Date Night Boise, ID

Date Night Boise, ID3 Peeps liked this so far.


Combat the Winter Blues

January 27, 2016

Combat the WInter Blues

January is by far my least favorite month of the year. This year has been especially rough with doctors appointments, yearly reviews, stitches, a (ridiculous) cancer scare and a very stressful few days being on call for work. Combine all of that nonsense with cold, gray weather and it’s hard for this hot-weather-loving girl to even make it to Valentine’s Day without running away to Florida. I thought now would be a good time to list out ways to combat the winter blues, mostly to remind myself that winter isn’t all bad.

1.Get outside anytime it’s sunny

This means pulling yourself away from your work station for a quick walk outside, or bundling up on the weekends for a stroll to a nearby coffee shop. It will be good for your muscles and brain! Get that blood pumping and soak up some natural Vitamin D. If it’s way too cold (for me that’s single digits), at least get to a window and let it shine on you through the glass!

2.Participate in winter activities (snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, ice skating, etc.)

Now is the time to take full advantage of doing things that are typically only available a few months of the year. Don’t have any equipment for the above winter activities? Then rent! Or let you inner eight-year old out and build a snowman. 🙂

Mat next to the Snowman he built


What better time to start a new workout plan than the beginning of a new year? After all of the holiday indulging it shouldn’t be too hard to find the motivation.  Produce those endorphins to fight off the winter blues!

4.Travel, even if it’s somewhere close by

A change of scenery is always a good thing, especially because winter can oftentimes seem so repetitive. Take a weekend trip to a nearby city. Explore a new part of town. I have never actually done it, but I have always wanted to try a “staycation”-rent a hotel in your town just to make it seem like you are on a real vacation and not distracted by the mundane tasks/chores at your house.Lacey strolling in Tamarack

5.Better yet, travel somewhere warm!

This is obviously my favorite one, and I wish I could do this for the entire of months of January and February. I guess this year I will just have to settle for a quick weekend trip to sunny San Diego. 😉

6.Spend time with family and friends (have a party!)

Spending time with family and friends is my cure for everything. I love attending parties and although I’m a terrible host, I love having people over too! In fact, I think it’s about time for another game night…..

New Year's Eve with Friends

7.Laugh! (watch your favorite funny movies/shows)

This is the easiest and cheapest way to kick winter’s ass. Invite that hilarious friend over, watch your favorite comedy, watch YouTube…there’s always hilarious animal videos on there. Fortunately for me, this is easy to come by because I happen to be married to the funniest man on the planet.

8.Take Vitamin D supplement

They even make Vitamin D in gummies for adults. Seriously, the taste like gummy bears. I pretty much overdose on these November-April.


The best way to fight any sad feelings-get out and volunteer! Volunteering is a great reminder to appreciate what you have. Plus, helping others just feels good!


If you have any additional tips that will help make the cold winter months a little more fun, PLEASE let us know!3 Peeps liked this so far.


Game Plan for 2016

January 16, 2016

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, we decided to make an entire game plan for 2016.  A lot of our goals will require weeks or months to plan so we’re starting now to make sure we get as much of this stuff done as possible.  From travel, to home remodeling, to learning new languages…our list is kinda all over the place.  Check out our process and decide if making your own list might help you achieve more this year.

Right away we noticed some immediate benefits from making this list.  First of all, making our list forced us to think about and talk about 1. WHY it was a goal? and 2. HOW could/would we be able to accomplish it? Adding notes to our goals helped us get an idea of how much time and planning each goal will require.  Sharing our list with you guys is already resulting in us feeling a greater level of accountability for achieving these goals.  We realized that now that we have this list, we can check back in on it every month to track our progress.

We set our sites on a few lofty goals because we want to do our best to keep up with the eventful pace we set for ourselves in 2015.  You can read more about that here.  I don’t think we’ll ever be able to top last year (cuz we got married!), but below is how we’re going to try…

Visit at least 10 different cities

  • With 7 cities already being booked (with rewards points), we should be able to hit this mark.  So far, we’ll be visiting San Diego (for Rihanna), Houston (for the Final Four), New York City, Florence, Rome, Malta, and Chicago.  If all goes well in the coming months, we should be adding Maui to this list
  • To make sure we get to the last few cities to complete our goal of 10, we’re going to keep learning about the points planning/travel hacking process through our friends at

Florence-Duomo | DitchingNormal

very excited for Florence in May

Continue Downsizing junk and bills

  • Right now, we have 2 cars.  While it’s pretty awesome to have 2 cars, we don’t need both and could eliminate about $4,000 in bills by getting rid of one of ’em. That being said, anyone wanna buy a suburu outback sport?
  • We’re about to do some major spring cleaning and plan on getting rid of any unnecessary items we find.

Donation Bags | Ditching Normal

Haven’t worn it in a few months? Take it to GoodWill!!!

Continue Paying off Mortgage ASAP

  • We’ve been able to keep up with paying double on our mortgage for the past 6 months or so, but we’re hoping to paying a bit more once we ditch a car.
  • How are we going to do this? By utilizing credit cards rewards points to discount our travel costs.  You can read more about this process here.

Downtown Boise Condo | Ditching Normal

Hopefully we can pay off this little guy soon!

Spend More Time with Family and Friends

  • Travel, live events, and life in general is more fun when you’re spending it with loved ones.  Get ready to spend more time with the Thompsons this year!
  • We’re going to reach out to friends and family to travel with us more along with other things.

excited to meet this crew in Malta this summer

excited to meet back up with this crew in Malta this summer

Improve our non-existent Photography Skills

  • This includes getting a decent camera and finally learning how to use one.
  • We’ll be bugging our friend Vlad from Radion Photography a whole lot for help!

Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

A favorite pic from 2015

Bedroom Remodel

  • Our downtown condo was pretty beat up when we purchased it as a short-sale a few years ago.  We’ve successfully remodeled every room except for the bedroom so far.  A bedroom remodel, including some new carpet/flooring, larger bed, and a better closet space, are LONG overdue.
  • How are we going to do it? Well, with some help from YouTube DIY videos, we’re hoping to cut costs by doing the work ourselves.  We’ll likely use the money from (hopefully) selling a car, to help us get a king sized bed.

More Collaborations

  • We’re looking forward to working with as many creative minds as possible this year.  Photogs, bloggers, travel addicts, and anyone else that has a passion for making life exciting.  If you fall in this category…hit us up!!!
  • How are we going to do this? By stepping out of our comfort zones and initiating communication with the talented folks we’ve grown to admire.  Emails and social media messages will likely lead the way!

Vintage Style Bride

recent collaboration with Radion Photography, Ira and Lucy, and Next Adventure Studio

Save $15,000 or more by Traveling with Rewards Points

  • Wouldn’t that be awesome to say at the end of the year?  We’re over half way there so far.  It’s going to take some serious planning to finish out this goal though.  We’re all ears to any tips you may have.
  • How are we going to do this? By continuing to plan a head with reward points traveling.  The planning we did last year has resulted in us saving nearly $9k already this year.

Our recent trip we booked on points was featured on

Our recent trip we booked on points was featured on

Continue Gradually Learning a 2nd Language

  • Lacey’s going to be working on Spanish while Mat keeps puttering through Italian.  The plan is to try and make traveling a bit more comfortable while visiting these countries.  Comprende?
  • How are we going to do this?  We have the Rosetta Stones for these languages and are going to start scheduling at least 2 days a week to sit down for an hour or two of studying.  Once we get the basics, we’ll look for some in-person classes we can sign up for.

Start Mixing in Some Yoga

  • We’ve had a few more aches and pains over the past year that are likely due to our lack of flexibility.  While lifting weights is fun, we need to start taking care of our joints as well.  We’re thinking of trying out Sage Yoga in Boise.
  • How are we going to do this? This ones fairly straight forward.  We’ll get signed up for classes at Sage! Stay tuned for possible review of Sage Yoga.

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We Got Married Again! Kind of…

January 5, 2016

So we didn’t really get married again, per say, but a couple of months ago our amazing wedding photographer Vlad from Radion Photography asked if we would like to participate in a promotional wedding shoot.  Of course we said “Hell yeah!”. We said yes because we loved our wedding photos and Vlad and his wife became like extended family on our wedding trip to Mexico. Vlad is not only an amazing photographer, but he is an even better human.  Plus, another chance for me to wear a wedding dress? Of  course I will be there!

The shoot was styled by the amazing Heidi from Ira & Lucy, my hair was done by Shawna Hines and my make up by Jamie at Blush. There were also videographers with Next Adventure Studio from Sun Valley which made me totally wish we could have somehow squished videography in our tiny wedding budget. This also got me thinking we should probably plan mini-weddings and renew our vows every year. Who doesn’t want to go to another party every year?

It was really fun getting to see some of the behind the scenes work that goes on for a styled wedding shoot. Not going to lie, it was also fun getting to play “bride” again. Check out Oregon Bride Magazine for their feature on this shoot!

BTS - Lacey - dress

BTS - Lacey - flex

BTS - Lacey - table

BTS - table

BTS - videographers

BTS - Vlad - Lacey - Candle

BTS - Vlad

All photos below from Radion Photography.

Wedding Bouquet

Bride Veil Eyelashes

Vintage Style Bride

Wedding Table Vintage

Bride and Groom Toast

Bride and Groom Vintage Kiss

Contemporary Bride and Groom Snuggle

Vintage Wedding Rings

Vintage Style Groom

Shawna Hines Hairstyling

Groom Snowing

Vintage Style Bride

Groom Snowing

Bride and Groom Wedding Photo Snow

Married Again

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Lifestyle Reviews

Top 15 from 2015

December 30, 2015

Being that it’s New Years Eve, Eve…we thought it would be appropriate to look back on some of our more memorable experiences from 2015.  We narrowed it down to 15 simply because “Top 15 from 2015” sounded kinda cool.  In 2015, among other things, we watched some sausages race each other, hung out at a waterfall, walked 100 stories over a city, dropped it like it’s hot, and participated in a very important ceremony 😉

When we were putting this post together, we were a little intimidated with trying to figure out a way to make 2016 live up to the year we just had, but that’s a problem we look forward to dealing with. We have been so fortunate and blessed to have had the chance to experience so many amazing events in just 12 short months.

Here are our top 15 for 2015. Hopefully you won’t be surprised with what landed at #1…

15. Brewers vs Cardinals (Milwaukee)

Our seats at Miller Park were AMAZING! It also didn’t hurt that the home team (and underdog) won! Not much better than a sun-filled day at a stadium eating hot dogs and nachos.  Mat was super excited to see the mascot go down the slide after a home run.  We also got to see the famous racing sausages in the 7th inning stretch!

Sausage Race. Miller Park, Milwaukee

The Sausages ran right by us!

14. Halloween

For being last minute outfits, we loved how they turned out! Not to mention we got to hang with our closest friends and have an epic dance party. Don’t play Rhi Rhi unless you want Lacey to put on her own concert.  Our friends had some epic costumes as well.  There was a seductively creepy Bob Ross, Wayne & Garth, Ace Ventura, and some Minions.


13. Christmas Snowboarding

Santa (Mat) successfully hid a snowboard under the tree for Lacey to find Christmas morning.  After a couple cups of coffee in our pajamas, we headed up to Bogus Basin for a half day of snowboarding.  There was plenty of snow and plenty of room for us to hit jumps, eat shit, wipe the snow off our heads and do it again!

Mat & Lacey Bogus-Basin

12. Collie Buddz (Phoenix)

On our way home from Cabo during Thanksgiving week, we had an overnight layover in Phoenix.  It turns out this was a blessing in disguise because Collie Buddz was performing that same night!  Collie Buddz is one of our favorite Reggae/Hip-hop artists and he sings the song (Gimme Love) that we used as our first dance song at our wedding reception.

Collie Buddz Phoenix

11. Michael Franti (Boise)

Another of our favorite musicians came to town this summer to perform at the beautiful Botanical Gardens.  This super high energy show was one that left us reminded of what’s truly important in life.  …enjoying each other, loving each other, and having an awesome time while doing it!  Michael Franti is the artist behind the song “Life is Better with You“, which became the theme of our wedding in Cabo.  #LifeIsBetterWithYou!!!

Michael Franti Boise, ID

10. Snoop Dogg (Boise)

I think we were both very surprised that this concert made our top 15.  We both knew the concert would be fun, but had no idea just how much fun we would have.  It was a blast!  Mat rapped every line of every song, taking him back to the age of 13 when he used to listen to Snoop religiously AND Lace booty popped and c-walked to the sick rhymes Mat was bustin’.  Toss in a couple of good friends and this results in the #10 best experience of the year!

Snoop Dogg Drop it Like It's Hot

9. Water Slide Birthday Party (Hagerman)

Lacey’s family were the creative minds behind this awesome idea.  We pulled up to their house to find a GIGANTIC bouncy castle-like water slide set up in their back yard.  The day resulted in tons of (sketchy at times) fun for us and everyone else that attended.  You can check out the full details along with the video in a previous post here.

Lacey Water Slide | DitchingNormal

8. Jump Creek Falls (Marsing)

Jump Creek is a hidden gem about an hour away from where we live and we had no idea it was there until this summer! This waterfall destination ended up being quite spectacular, much to our surprise. Read more about this day trip here.

Jump Creek | Ditching Normal

7. Luke Bryan (Boise)

It is going to be hard to top this concert. Everything just fell into place for us to see Luke Bryan. When the tickets first went on sale they sold out before we could grab any. Mat was able to purchase floor tickets just weeks before the concert was in town, which worked out way better than our original plan. We had margaritas at home before riding our bikes to Taco Bell Arena and rocking out just feet away from the stage.

6. Bachelorette Party (Portland)

Lacey got to experience Portland for the first time while attending a friend’s bachelorette party and had an absolute blast! They stayed right downtown at Hotel Modera, shopped at Nordstrom (obviously), ate to their hearts’ content at the many food trucks and danced the night away at Holocene. Finding a dance club in Portland was difficult, but they knew it was “their spot” when they walked in and Rhianna’s “B**** Betta Have My Money” was playing. On a classier note, the girls even had a fancy dinner at Departure which sits on top of The Nines Hotel.

Lacey-Bachelorette Party Portland

5. Willis Tower (Chicago)

Chicago quickly became a favorite city of Mat’s following his visit this summer.  While Gino’s East had delicious pizza and the baseball game at Wrigley Field was amazing…nothing will top the experience from the top of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower).  Standing in the glass box looking down 100+ stories will make for a life long memory.  The full details of this trip can be found in a previous post here.

view from the Skydeck Ledge in the Willis Tower, Chicago | DitchingNormal

The Skydeck “Ledge” was an experience I’ll never forget. 103 stories down.

4. San Francisco Weekend Getaway (September)

We fit in so many experiences in the long weekend that we were in San Francisco. This city holds a special place for us because it is where we met nine years ago (exactly nine in a few weeks!). We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and hiked in Muir Woods. We had breakfast at The Mill then hung out in Alamo Square Park like the Tanners. One of the most amazing experiences of the weekend was drinking cocktails while looking at the views of the city from the 39th floor of The View Lounge. Our last morning we sipped coffee at the hidden rooftop garden of the One Kearny building. You can read all about our San Francisco trip in this post and this post.

Golden Gate Bridge | DitchingNormal

3. Thanksgiving (Cabo San Lucas)

Our highly-anticipated vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Cabo fully lived up to our expectations. This week was packed full of food and delicious pina colladas. The gorgeous weather and surroundings definitely accounted for one of the most memorable weeks of our year. Read a recap of it here.

2. Make the (wedding) Cake Party (Cabo San Lucas)

On the eve of our wedding, our friends and family gathered in the kitchen of our villa to help us make our second most memorable event of the year….and our wedding cake. That’s right, our closest friends and family helped us make our wedding cake the night before our ceremony. Talk about special! This also ended up being a little rowdy because some tequila and flash tattoos were involved. It was such an amazing feeling to have everyone that we loved and loved us be involved in this intimate activity. Mat was the mastermind behind this idea and it was a huge success. Read all about it here.

Lacey Stirring Wedding Cake Mix | DitchingNormal

1.Wedding Ceremony (Cabo San Lucas)

A very special group of family and friends gathered in a white domed gazebo in the Pedregal Hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  One of our best friends officiated the ceremony and many of our family and friends shared stories, advice, and loving words with us.  Lacey’s father wrote and recited a blessing over our marriage while our guests stood around us.  We couldn’t have asked for a more intimate, heart felt, personal, and beautiful wedding ceremony.  This is undoubtedly our #1 experience of 2015…and likely of our lives.

Wedding Ceremony Cabo | Ditching Normal


Needless to say, it’s going to be hard to top the year that we have had, because it’s not every year you get to marry your best friend. 2015, you rocked our socks!

We are so excited for what experiences lay ahead for us and look forward to continue simplifying our life to make room for what is important: making memories with family and friends. And of course traveling as much as possible.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Bring it, 2016!6 Peeps liked this so far.

Lifestyle Reviews

Hair Recovery Step 1

December 19, 2015

I wanted to write a follow up to my Graeber review to update you all on the hair situation. As a reminder, I was a redhead for 28 years, I had a terrible experience at a salon in downtown Boise and walked out a very, very dark brunette. Check out this post for the specifics of that nightmare.

The co-owner of Graeber Salon, Shelby, reached out to me after reading about my last experience and wanted to try and make it right. I very much appreciated her reaching out, but was very hesitant to go back in, for a variety of reasons. Shelby was extremely kind and refunded me in full for my last appointment, sent a gift certificate to replace my ruined jeans and offered me a complimentary hair fix as well as an additional $100 on my account to spend at Graeber on future hair appointments. I was very grateful for the length that she went to in order to rectify my previous experience. She even sent a handwritten card on Graeber stationary! I’m a sucker for hand-written cards, so I decided to give the salon another chance. Shelby set up my appointment with one of their veteran stylists, Amy, for a Saturday afternoon.

I was equal parts dreading the appointment and ecstatic for it. Dreading it because I didn’t want a similar experience as last time, or worse, awkward because of my last experience. Ecstatic because I was absolutely desperate to fix my hair. I hated it.

The Saturday of my appointment I arrived to another bustling day at Graeber; the front room was just as crowded as the last time I was there. The front desk girls were just as kind and bubbly, even apologizing that there was no room on the waiting bench. The first pleasant surprise of the day was when a super happy girl, Hailey, came out to introduce herself as Amy’s assistant. That’s right-an assistant! I felt relieved as soon as I met her, because I assumed this meant I wouldn’t be sitting on a wall somewhere with color in my hair for over an hour as my stylist did another guest’s hair. Plus, she was so bubbly and happy to be there that it was hard not to be happy around her.

The second pleasant surprise was when Hailey took me over to Amy’s station. Her chair is in the very front corner of the salon and is MUCH more private and a little larger than the other stations. It has the feel of a one-on-one appointment, rather than sitting in the middle of a giant warehouse. I’m sure everyone has their preferences, and mine is NOT to be in the middle of a giant, busy room so everyone can see you. I absolutely loved that Amy’s station was private-it almost felt like she had her own mini-salon. After my first appointment at Graeber I thought I had decided I wasn’t a “hair salon” type girl, but sitting in Amy’s station didn’t feel near as much like I was in a salon, even with how busy it was that day.

Once sitting down in Amy’s chair and talking about what our options/next steps were for my hair, I felt much more at ease. I was immediately drawn to Amy and Hailey and felt our personalities meshed well. The pleasant surprises continued when, before starting on my hair, Amy had Hailey take me into a room to change out of the sweater that I was wearing. I changed into a cape-shirt. That’s not actually the name of what I changed into I’m sure, but that’s what I call it because it was a cross between a stylist’s cape and a shirt. I didn’t even know this was an option, but I’m sure glad they let me wear it! I was much more comfortable wearing the cape-shirt and I knew my sweater was safe from getting dye on it hanging up in the closest.

I went back and sat down at Amy’s station where she then put on an actual cape-double protection from the scary dye! Hailey was very attentive throughout the entire appointment readjusting the cape to ensure it was always covering my pants. Probably one of my most favorite things about the appointment (other than getting to spend several hours getting to know two amazing ladies) was Hailey offering to give me a hand massage while Amy was putting the lifter in my hair! It was SUCH a nice addition to the appointment. Plus-it’s a great way for them to advertise different Aveda lotions. 🙂

Since my hair was so dark from my last appointment (even though it had lightened quite a bit from our Cabo trip) we didn’t have a lot of options. Plus my hair was already damaged from the last dye job, so Amy had to be careful and limit breakage around my face, since that’s where the hair was darkest. In four hours they applied a color lifter, washed the lifter out, dried my hair, applied some lighter red/caramel blonde color, washed that out, applied a gloss, and each time using nourishing shampoo and conditioner. Amy also had to cut about three inches of length off, which I was sad about, but my hair feels healthier now. The color is still a little more brown in places than I would like, but it’s SO much better and in most lights I look like a redhead again! I’m impressed with what she did in just one appointment, but I’m also anxious for my next appointment and to continue to get rid of all traces of the brown color. The darkest spots are right around my face and underneath, so you can mostly only see this when I wear my hair back.

In summary, Amy and Hailey were both so wonderful, I can’t say enough good things about them. And I especially loved Amy’s station. Perhaps I could be a “salon type” girl. 😉


I apologize for the poor quality and lighting, but here is a little reminder of the drastic change my poor hair went through the last time at Graeber.


Current hair!


Graeber | DitchingNormal



Lacey-Maggs-walking5 Peeps liked this so far.