Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The bigger things

On Thanksgiving, I wrote about the littler things - the things I rarely think about like insurance and doctors and vitamins but the things I am ever grateful for.  I continue to give thanks for the smaller things, but as 2014 comes to a close, I can't help but think about the bigger things.  My faith, my family, my friends.

It's so easy to be cliche on this day.  We get all sentimental and reflective.  And we're excited about ringing in the new year.  Well, that's exactly what I'm doing today, being cliche, that is.  I'm getting all sentimental about this year as this was the year we welcomed a sweet girl into the world.  I'm thankful for Ella's Godparents, our friends who have been there during times when we've needed a friend.  I'm thankful for my best friends who take time out of their schedules for three hour Skype dates and who shower Ella with all kinds of love.  I'm thankful for my vibrant, little nephews who never fail to bring a smile to my face.  I'm reflecting on goals achieved, and personal growth, and what I've learned this year as a wife and mother.  And I am excited.  Excited about what 2014 brought and waiting to see what 2015 will bring.

Happy New Year.  I hope you ring in the new year satisfied and proud of 2014 and beyond elated to make 2015 a year to remember.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A transformative year

Can you look back and point out a year that was a particularly big year for you?  Maybe it wasn't the best year or the worst year, but it was a year that significantly changed you?

Up until this year, I would have told you that the end of 2007 through 2008 was my most transformative year - the year I spent my last days as a seventeen-year-old and entered the legal age of eighteen.  I lost both my grandparents within five months, moved out of my house, was dealing with the repercussions of being kicked out of high school (due to absences), enrolled in online school, and got a full-time job.  As dramatic as it sounds, this is how '07 - '08 played out.

Truthfully, I was miserable that year.  For a hundred and two different reasons, I often seriously questioned how I was going to get through that year.  But with a few kicks in the pants, support from many loved ones, and a lot  of undeserved grace I made it through and entered into 2009 a little more mature and a better person having gone through the previous 365 plus days.

Six years later, the year 2008 has been pushed to number two.  This year - 2014 - has been my most transformative year to date.  There was the more minor, worldly stuff that changed.  I moved a couple times, left a job, started routinely writing.  Then there was the bigger stuff.  My husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary.  We celebrated the arrival of our sweet Ella James.  All of these changes - big and small - combined fueled the great inward transformation I experienced this year.  All of the stuff you can't see - the emotional, the mental, the spiritual.  These were the things that changed significantly this year.  I was challenged in ways I've never experienced and found an inner strength I never knew I had.

I found my voice and made a choice to stay true to myself.  I took risks, did things that terrified me, I learned when to say "no" and when to say "yes." It seemed like my comfort zone knew no boundaries.  A quarter of the time I wanted to crawl into bed and not get out, but it's because I refused to do so that I became more of my best self this year.

I, like all of us, have a slew of things I'd like to work on and claim them as my "2015 resolutions." But too often, do we get caught up in that notion - bidding good riddance to the year that was and counting down the days until we can start anew.  And, all too often we don't give ourselves enough credit for what we've accomplished in fear of being too proud.  Of course, be modest, but don't write your 2014 self off.  Acknowledge your year.  Your achievements, your failures.

So before I make any new year's resolutions, I'm going to take this post and a few minutes to relish in this year, 2014, a hard one, a great one, and one I'm beyond proud of.

Here's to you, 2014.  Thanks for the challenges, the blessing, the joys, the accomplishments.  You've equipped me well for the years to come.

Monday, December 22, 2014

'Tis the season for twinkle lights

On Saturday night, we went out to look at Christmas lights.  If you know me, you know I'm one to have twinkle lights in my house all year round, so a block full of twinkle-light-covered-houses is my true happy place.

Last year during Christmastime I was pregnant with Ella.  So this year is Ella's year of first's.  And taking her out to enjoy all the lights was so much fun.  The Winter air and hot chocolate made the evening complete.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ending on a high note

If you couldn't tell by my last post, this week was a harder week.  The effort I've been putting into getting this postpartum anxiety under control failed me.  This resulted in figuring out what the next step should be and then to make an action plan.

All the while researching various therapies and medicines, I quickly became discouraged.  I got hung up on the previous course of action not working and was in the midst of dealing with side effects from my current medicine.

Hold on.  It gets better.  (Actually, not sarcastically.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Perseverance and hope

When I first wrote about getting help for my anxiety, I thought I was close to solving the problem. Sure, in the back of my head I knew these things take time, patience, and effort, but somehow I thought otherwise when I was given a prescription and a therapist recommendation.  I was told it would help.  I wasn't told about and didn't think about, however, the possibility of it not working.

So when a few months later I experienced some unpleasant side effects and the same anxiety I had been experiencing before, I was thrown.  I thought getting help + treatment = healing.  And while that's true, the process isn't as formulaic as a math equation.  The first doctor might not be the right one, a medicine might not work.  The healing process is just that a process.  We may experience setbacks and curve balls but that doesn't mean we stop trying.

So enter phase two.  Changing current course of action and trying a new approach.  More phone calls, more questions, new offices, new people.

Once again, I'm hesitant to write about this process.  Because (who really likes to broadcast their current mental state), but mainly because I don't want to appear whiny.  Sound ridiculous?  Maybe. But think about it.  In our day-to-day lives we don't like a downer.  Hearing others' problems sometimes brings us down.  We like brightness, happiness, and those who are the life of the party.

But I continue to write about this journey because I want to realistically portray the process.  And that process is a long one, a hard one, and (so far) one that has had setbacks.

But as humans we soldier on.  Because we have to.  We have families.  We have jobs.  We have things we've got to do.  Thankfully I've learned when to put on a brave face for my little girl and when to text my best friend and let her know of the recent rough days.

The other thing about us humans is we tend to be hopeful.  And I am.  Hopeful that this next course of action will be a step in the right direction, that perseverance will pay off, and that going through this journey will ultimately have a bigger purpose.

If you're currently going through a tough time, my wish for you is that you have hope, too.

Monday, December 15, 2014

From the weekend

Monday means highlights.  Insta-style.

Shopping.  Decorating.  Baking.  A weekend spent with the family gearing up for Christmas.

Does it get any better?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Throwback Christmas

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday and getting ready for Christmas, I thought I'd combine the two and do a throwback Christmas post.  This is what the Christmas season looked like when I was in elementary school.  Pictures are from earlier years.

Christmas 1990.  My first.  That's my grandpa holding me on the right.  And my uncle holding my cousin on the left.  One of my favorite Christmas pictures.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Target moms

Since having Ella, we've had some interesting encounters.  There was the lady who told us that she hates babies, but that ours was "one cute baby."  (It got even weirder when she turned back to her table and proceeded to tell her peers I really hate babies.)  Then there was the clerk at the grocery store who was irritated by a screaming toddler.  She scoffed, looked at us, then at Ella and said you're never going to do that.  You're too cute.  

When you're a parent, you experience everything from glares, stares, and smiles, but I've found that there is one place where you'll find support and a friendly smile.  And that's the baby aisle in Target.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Road trippin' with baby

We recently road tripped with our seven month old.  Since the trip went well, I thought I'd share our experience and how we prepared for the many hours in the car.

We traveled from San Diego to Vancouver, Washington.  Without stopping, Google maps predicted it would be a 16 hour trip.  Aside from the occasional bathroom break and meal or two, we planned to tackle the drive in one trip.  Here's what we did to prep.

Monday, December 8, 2014

From the weekend

This weekend was one of those weekends where Sunday came, and I thought this was a good weekend.  Nothing really special happened, we ran the typical errands, did the typical chores.  But we also managed to sleep in, make a couple great dinners, enjoyed the Christmas spirit in the air, and watched Ella reach a couple milestones.

First time sitting in a shopping cart!  Target, obviously.  This doesn't quite beat the crawling or laughing milestones.  But she was so cute as we strolled around that I kind of just wanted to wander aimlessly around the store.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Where did this week go!?

Oh that's right.  It got lost in tissue boxes and laundry baskets. 

We survived our post-vacation colds and quickly got into the lets get stuff done mode.  Did some deep cleaning, decorated for Christmas, and finally unpacked.  I'm currently working on a post on road tripping with a baby, but for the weekend I'll leave you with some Insta highlights (and most of them are of Ella #classicmom).

Have a great Friday!

Reading corner.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dancin' in the rain

I'm not sure if it's the sudden burst of rain (which I should be happy about), or the fact that all three of us are sick, or the recent 30 hours spent in the car, but I've been feeling pretty run down the past few days.  And you know when you start feeling run down, everything else is wrong?  You all of a sudden have nothing to wear, nothing sounds good to eat, and the untidiness in the living room starts to "drive you nuts?"

Yeah.  I'm at that point.  So for today's Wednesday post I'm here to remind myself and share with you that there are some days that come our way that we wish went differently - for big reasons or a lot of small ones.  We wish we weren't sick, we wish we had already unpacked our suitcases, we wish it didn't decide to rain on the one day you have to run out to the apartment complex's laundry facility.

That's okay.  It's on these days that we grab our rain boots and umbrellas and learn how to dance in the rain.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A week in Washington

Happy Cyber Monday!

I celebrated by buying a Shark stores.  Oops.

Our week in Washington was a whirlwind.  Friday came and we could hardly believe the week went by as quickly as it did.  

That's the thing about vacation.  It arrives slowly and goes by quickly. 

We spent the week catching up with family and playing with our nephews.  We did a little Black Friday shopping (which was hugely successful) and attempted to explore downtown Portland (but the weather didn't cooperate).  We cooked, we gave thanks, we feasted.

It was everything a Thanksgiving break should be. 

As for today, it's back to business.  Steaming floors, doing laundry, paying bills.   We're recuperating from the near 30 hour drive it took to get home and buying chicken noodle soup and tissue to fend off the typical post-vacay colds.

What is it about getting home from vacation that makes you want to clean out the bathroom cupboards, buy new candles, and make a fresh start in meal planning?

Whatever it is, that's what you'll find me doing today.  Steaming floors and whatnot.  Then we're getting down to the most important business of the day...Christmas decorating!

Aside from that steamer, I also bought pinecones that smell like heavenly Christmas bliss. 

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The littler things

Every year Thanksgiving comes and goes and my list of things I'm grateful for rarely changes. Religion, family, friends.  Things like freedom and a paycheck and food on my plate at the end of the day.  The sorts of things that should never be taken for granted.  The things we should give thanks for more than one day out of the year.

But this year was a particularly big year.  So I got to thinking about all the other things that I'm grateful for that I rarely, if ever, give notice to.  Things like insurance, low gas prices. And other things like invested, truly invested, doctors.  Therapists.  Medicine.  Vitamins.

I didn't realize what these things had in common with each other until now.  But, this year, I'm most grateful for things that have allowed and empowered me to heal.  Heal physically from a marathon of a pregnancy.  Heal emotionally from baby blues and a life-long battle with anxiety and that seemingly, all-too-cliche, swarm of unsettling feelings that pop up from your childhood when you have a child of your own.

These things, like insurance and low gas prices, have allowed me be a better wife, a better mom, a better friend.  I'm able to see the invested doctor because of the good insurance plan and the unusually low gas prices allow me to make the near hour drive to said doctor's office for a little less money.

I am, of course, thankful for the bigger things.  My husband, my daughter, the feelings that come from your baby gripping your finger or succumbing to a gut-bursting fit of laughter.  I'm thankful for the light my daughter brings into my life and the passion my husband brings to his job and anything that's thrown his way.

On Friday, I won't forget about those things.  My daughter will laugh when the dog wags her tail in her face, Ella reflexively letting out a giggle or three.  And I'll think man God picked me to be your mom.  And I'll be simultaneously flooded with gratitude and awe.

But on Friday, I will forget about insurance.  The gas prices will probably start to rise once again.  I may have to sit in the waiting room longer than I'd like at my next doctor appointment.  Frustration might hit when I'm told I have to change a dosage of medicine - that it's not working.

So before any of those very likely scenarios have their chance to occur, I'm giving thanks for the things that I'm lucky enough to have, the things that I go throughout my day-to-day barely giving second thought to, the things that have helped to make this year what it's been.

Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope all is set aside today and you spend the day with those you're thankful for and who are thankful for you.

And here's to the little things.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The way there

What. a. weekend.

We met up with some family, got ready for a road trip, and then hit the road.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Aunt Ellie & Ella

Friday, November 21, 2014

Road trip ready

Well, unlike last week I feel like I've accomplished more in these past seven days than I have during the entire month of November.

It was one those weeks where I took everything out of the storage closet and put everything back in an orderly, organized fashion.  (I had to in order to get our luggage.  And the Christmas tree).

I filmed a video with a friend (stay tuned for that) and got us ready for our Thanksgiving vacation. Tonight we're headed to Anaheim to have dinner with Tim's aunt and cousins who are in town from Alaska.  I'm looking forward to the good company and the temporary change of scenery.

And then on Saturday.  We'll be heading north to spend the week with my brother and sister-in-law and our two nephews.  I'm crazy excited we get the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with family this year!  But we first must conquer the sixteen hour drive to Washington.  We're departing Saturday evening, so we can tackle most of the drive while Ella's fast asleep.

I'm a little nervous.  But I packed an emergency kit for the car that I'm pretty proud of.  But don't let it deceive you, I'm usually not this organized.

Happy Friday.  Have a great weekend.  I'll be spending most of it on the road accompanied by Serial, coconut cashews, and a lot of coffee.

I'll see you on Monday from Washington.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The peanut butter cookie

I'm always working to perfect gluten-free recipes.  Gluten-free baking is hard.  You often need a variety of flours to get that fluffy, gooey cookie that everyone loves.  And finding that balance of flours (or perfect all-purpose flour) can be a process.

Recently, I found a peanut butter cookie recipe on Pinterest and decided to make it gluten-free. Acknowledging my most recent baking ventures have been some big fails, I wasn't expecting much.
But this recipe turned out so well that I had to share it with you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A love letter to note cards

It's Wednesday!  And that means I'm talking about what I've learned.

I learned a lot in college.  One of the things I took away from my three years though had little to do with a particular course. And that was:

Note cards are a dreamer's best friend.

Early on in my college career, one of our professors mentioned how he makes to-do lists on note cards and mentioned how satisfying the feeling of crossing off a task was.  Being the impressionable college kid that I was, I decided to adapt this seemingly mundane routine in hopes it would make me an organized student who got As.  Some As came, others didn't, but the organization stuck.

Now, my list of goals - big and small - reside on note cards.  Currently, I have about five note cards (with big goals) lining my mirror in my bedroom.  That's a weird place to tape note cards you might say.  And I'd reply You are correct.  But when craving an over-priced pastry the savings goal staring back at me is my motivation to stay the course.  

I highly recommend heading to your local Staples and picking up a pack of these babies.  Come home, put on some Jessie J and get motivated.

Because I'm pretty convinced the road to success is paved with note cards and Ticonderaga pencils.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Loving your postpartum body

Some fitting room shenanigans.
I'm almost seven months postpartum.  And I'm still ten pounds away from my pre-baby weight.  Truth be told, the number doesn't bother me.  I try to live a healthy lifestyle, and how I feel on a daily basis mostly reflects my efforts.  But I haven't gotten used to shopping for and dressing my new shape.

Even if and when I get back down to my pre-baby size, I'm unconvinced my old pant selection would fit me.  I'm fuller in some places and smaller in others, so I have few things in my wardrobe that fit me well.  Over the weekend, I was out looking for a couple fall pieces to take on our upcoming vacation to Washington.  On my list?  Boots, black pants, leggings, maybe a coat.

I wasn't having any luck.  Styles that would have flattered my figure a year and a half ago no longer do so.  We all know that feeling after making multiple trips to the fitting room and looking at one too many pairs of ill-fitting skinny jeans.  So I gave up.

And I went and bought a lipstick.

I put everything back (except for a $6.99 pair of fleece-lined leggings.  I mean, come on) and went on a hunt, for a bright, look-at-me, berry lipstick.

We're all told to love our postpartum bodies.  And I do.  I appreciate having shape, which I greatly lacked before having a baby.  But we all experience those fitting room blues when we're struggling to find a flattering pair of jeans or a jacket.

That's okay.  If you're finding that your self-esteem tank is running on "E", go buy a red or more specifically "cherries in the snow" lipstick.  It'll give you that boost of self-confidence and fuel you up for your next shopping outing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

End of the week

This week was one of those weeks that simultaneously dragged on and moved at lightning speed.  It felt like a lot happened and nothing happened.  You must be able to tell by these short two sentences that I'm excited it's Friday and the weekend is upon us.  This weekend will consist of going to the chiropractor, catching up on The Walking Dead, watching an episode of Last Man Standing (or 2), and shopping for boots and coats (in preparation or the crisp Washington air!).

To be honest, all I want to do is have a 72 hour sleeping marathon, but that's not very real-life like so I'm off to pay bills and be an adult.  Though with this way-too-good cappuccino by my side, I feel like I'll be singing my way off to pay our student loans.  (No, my coffee isn't spiked, it's just that good.)

Happy Friday.  Have a great weekend.  Maybe I'll make more sense on Monday.

(P.S. 13 days until Thanksgiving!)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Building a nursery

Currently our little baby girl resides in a room that is half office, half nursery.  And by nursery I mean a pack 'n play and a basket of stuffed animals.

Ella didn't have a room that was home when she was first born, because we moved a short 7 weeks after she was born.  And when we moved, well, we couldn't afford a crib.

We're finally getting to the place of being able to put together a sweet nursery for our sweet girl!  It will still be home to Tim's desk and computer, so we'll be limited on space, but I don't plan on that getting in the way of the cute factor. 

Here's some inspiration and what I'm going for:

(Hope you enjoy!)

DaVinci Emily Mini Crib 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What I've learned Wednesday

I'm typically one to shy away from alliteration.  Every time I think of a title like, well, like What I've learned Wednesday, I hear the irate Toby Ziegler tell the young Will Bailey:

"you're alliteration happy!"
(West Wing, anyone?)

 But for whatever reason, I couldn't shake the inkling of wanting to start a series called What I've learned Wednesday (Sorry, Toby) in which I'll share with you lessons I've learned during my short (almost) 25 years on this planet.

Since more life is thrown at me daily, I hope to never run out of lessons to share with you.  So here's the first out of what I hope to be many:

Sometimes all you can do isn't enough.

Recently, I shared what has become the beginning of my journey in battling anxiety.  I talked about how my lifelong battle took a turn for the worst after I had my baby.  For the longest time, I tried tackling it own my own.  Thinking I had dealt with anxiety for years, I thought it wasn't a real problem, that everyone suffers from anxiety.  And if I just bought a couple more lavender scented candles, that maybe the problem would go away.  Breathing exercises, the "just say yes" mentality, meditating, stretching, nothing could reign in what was becoming a debilitating problem.  

In realizing I had a bigger responsibility to care for myself now that I have to care for a little one, I decided to suck up my "it's embarrassing" feelings and told the doctor about my family history and my symptoms.  

The diagnosis?  A little medicine and a little therapy.  As a 24-year-old, new mom and recently married, that was pretty scary to hear.  A)  I don't like to pop pills for really anything and B) therapy? But doesn't that make me some sort of... weirdo?

Here's the deal.  Everyone has their stuff.  Everyone has a thing that they have dealt with or are currently dealing with.  The sooner one comes to terms with a problem and starts to fix it, the sooner you're free to really live.

And if that means therapy, there's no reason to feel ashamed.  I know there's a stigma around mental illness which is heartbreaking beyond words.  I've witnessed years lost and relationships ruined due to untreated mental illness.

As terrifying as it can be, break down your walls and reach out, ask for help, and be open to healing.

Because sometimes you need more than just you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Many of my favorite memories of my grandpa consist of him telling stories of "the old days".  The topics varied from my grandma, various travels, and Willie Nelson.  He every now and then would tell a war story.  Since we bonded mostly over country music, story time, and waffle cones, it became known I would be guaranteed two things of his upon his death.  His Johnny Cash collection

And his dog tags.

They hang above my desk as a reminder of sacrifice, heroism, courage, and the strong bond that can be between grandfather and granddaughter.

A deep and most heartfelt thank you to all those who have served for the greater good of our country. And thanks to the families who support those who have served.  Your sacrifice hasn't gone unnoticed.

Rest in peace, grandpa.  We're remembering you today.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Comfort zones and new things

Another Pinterest quote.
This weekend, I hosted my first articles club (inspired by Joanna Goddard).

And it was kind of scary.  As someone who suffers from anxiety, it can be nerve wracking to attend a club of any sort let alone start and host one.  But with recently tackling anxiety head on, I decided taking this step would be a good challenge for myself as well as an opportunity to build and strengthen friendships, and talk about real things with real women.

I'm so happy I decided to take the plunge.  The five of us sat around a table full of chocolate, wine, and various cheeses and discussed an article from Marie Claire.  As Goddard mentioned in her articles club post, it got personal real quick and it was refreshing to hear candid anecdotes from everyday life.

Once again, I have to thank my husband. I woke up Saturday with a strained neck and little sleep, and I felt overwhelmed and exhausted and admittedly I wanted to cancel.  He reassured and encouraged and I'm so thankful he did.

Thanks to the ladies who came and made the night effortless and enjoyable.

Here's to stepping outside of our comfort zones this week.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Those mornings

We all have those days when we are just dragging.  We can't seem to get moving no matter how many times we visit the Keurig.

These 3 things get me moving every time.  No matter what.

1)  Make the bed.  I don't know if everyone feels this way.  I might be embarrassed if I'm the only one...but making the bed is one of those things.  You know, those things.  The things that take no time, aren't a big deal, but we seem to ignore anyway.  Making the bed takes no time and always makes me feel like an adult who pays bills and votes and stuff.

2)  Clean something.  The counter, the sink, your desk.  During your morning routine, you may not have time to clean the entire kitchen, but cleaning up or organizing something that needs tending to will give you some extra productivity fuel.

3) Dance.  When all else fails just stop and bust a move.  Today, I had a particularly slow morning.  The type of morning where you remember you're out of eggs, your baby wakes up earlier than usual, and you have more than one cup of coffee.  Ella was fussy waiting for her bottle, so I turned on some music and started dancing with her.  She started laughing, so I started laughing and the morning blues melted away.

Happy Friday.  Have a great weekend.

Maybe dance a little.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

An AM dish

Having a baby who likes to rise before the sun, I tend to prefer breakfasts that take little prep. Granola, greek yogurt, and berries is usually a convenient go-to.  But lately, I've been all about this morning dish.  It takes more time than throwing some yogurt in a bowl but the extra few minutes are well worth it.

Monday, November 3, 2014


You know those weeks where you take more Instagram pictures than usual?  This past week was one of those weeks.  So here are my highlights - Instastyle.

God is good.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A new sort of Halloween

October 1990.  I'm the pumpkin on the right, my best friend Katie is on the left.

As a little kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday.  I was incredibly blessed to live on a block full of kids all of whom were relatively close in age.  And even better, we were all best friends.  Every year, we would count down the days 'til the leaves left the branches and carved pumpkins found homes on front porch steps.

That day would come, we'd eat a quick dinner, and get ready for the night of some tricks, but mostly treats.  As little ones, we'd run from house to house having to stay relatively close to our dads who were following us equipped with beer and 90s sweatshirts.  We made sure to avoid the one corner house a street over occupied by the crazy, scary witch and made sure to hit all the houses that we noted gave out the ever-coveted king size.

When we got home, we'd dump out our pillowcases full of treats and divvy up the good vs. bad.  We'd trade Mounds for Twix and gave the unwanted to mom and dad.  It was the one day out of the year that we didn't have to "call it a night" on a school night and we went to bed with sugar highs.

As we all got older, some of us made different plans to go with different groups of friends from school or groups, but Halloween for the most part remained a holiday that we celebrated with the kids on the block.  As years passed, our dads would still maybe get together for a beer, their kids off at work parties or friend's houses. The moms were of course always loyal to those pesky trick-or-treaters (the new round of block littles) and handed out candy year after year.

As I got older and went off to college, I forgot about Halloween.  In my experience, college Halloween parties are either 1 of 2 things -- awkward or dirty (or an unfortunate combination of both.)  You're too old to ask for candy but too young to go to one of those swankier, more grown-up Halloween parties.  And because of this, Halloween became a holiday that came and went with little thought.

But not this year.

This year is my first Halloween with my little one.  And I'm flooded with both nostalgia and the excitement I felt as a seven-year-old.

It will be a relaxed evening.  We'll have festive drinks and dessert, maybe some (very late) pumpkin carving.  A bowl will rest by the door full of candy waiting for anyone who yells "trick or treat!"  But the best part will be getting Ella in her costume, taking pictures, remembering Halloweens that once were, and getting so excited for this new phase of Halloweens to begin.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Postpartum skincare

It's no secret your body goes through a million and three changes during pregnancy.  For some reason, though, I wasn't expecting too many postpartum changes.  So I was in for many surprises. My figure changed in a way that even if and when I get down to my pre-pregnancy pant size I don't think I'd fit into my pre-prego pants.  The hair loss thing is very, very real.  And your skin might be out of sorts due to your whacked out hormones.

I read that you'll likely have to change your skincare routine after having a baby.  Recently, I did so. And since it's been working out for the most part (hormones will be hormones), I thought I'd share my new routine.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Seven months ago, I wrote my first post.  I was 6 days shy of having our baby girl, and I had just decided to leave my job.  I wasn't entirely sure what was in store for us here in California, and I wasn't sure what was in store for me on the road ahead.  But I did know one thing, I wanted to keep writing.

So I started to blog.

And I haven't stopped.  Today is my 100th post.

So today I'm writing to remind myself that baby steps are always the key to success in achieving goals, to never procrastinate in taking the first step toward achieving a goal, and the feeling that accompanies an achieved goal is a great one.

Thank you for reading, "liking", encouraging, and supporting.  You're one of a kind.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Busy weekends

We try to keep our weekends balanced.  A little cleaning, a little shopping, a little brunch.  Maybe some cookie baking, maybe some gaming.  This weekend was one of those all-over-the-place weekends.  The kind that results in unwashed laundry and last minute grocery shopping.  (And this was a good thing.)

I spent all of Saturday catching up with one of my dearest friends from college while Ella had a daddy/daughter day.  My sweet friend drove down from LA, we sat at a coffee shop for three hours, and picked up Ella's Halloween costume.  It was the best day.

Sunday was left for all chores and prepping for the week.  But as Sunday is family day, we made some time for a stroll in the park.

Happy Monday.  I hope your week's a walk in the park.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wish list

As the seasonal sales start to pop up this year, I'm going to keep a look out for a few things.  I thought I'd share my list!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On writing

Missing: Bossypants
There are a few resources I consistently go to for writing inspiration.  Blogs, podcasts, books, etc. Today I'm going to share a few of my favorite get-inspired books.

In one of my college writing classes, we used Stephen King's On Writing as our text book.  I've been wanting to re-read it for a while.  And in attempts to get inspired, I broke out the book and came across highlighted parts and folded pages.

After perusing through the chapters,  I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite quotes.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Six months

Sometimes I wish I was one of those super fab, organized parents who scrapbooks, does month-to-month update photo shoots (inspired by Pinterest), and makes baby blankets, but I'm not.  At least not yet.  It's been a chaotic last couple years, but today we took a moment and celebrated this little one who turned 6 months old today.  It wasn't over cake and we didn't take pictures with a chalkboard or a tutu. (Saving that for the 1 year mark.)  It was over a couple lattes and a blueberry muffin at our favorite little coffee shop in Fallbrook.  It just so happened that Ella's six month check up fell on the day she turned 6 months old. And since it's a good 40 minute drive to Ella's doctor, we took some extra time after her appointment to celebrate a clean bill of health and the last six months.

And said "cheers" to the next six.

Happy half-year, Ms. Ella James.

You're an absolute joy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

End of the week

This week was a good week.  I bought some vitamins, made some pumpkin bread, and put on a face mask.

(Don't let these mundane tasks deceive you.)  This week was full of great moments.  Here are a few:

I snapped this photo of Ella in her sunnies.  So far, she loves sunglasses.  Since she's barely 6 months old, I find this hilarious.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Best friends and long distance

My best friends (who are more like sisters) live 3,000 miles away.  We grew up next door to each other and rarely spent more than a week a part.  Since graduating college, getting married, and temporarily settling in California we're lucky if we see each other twice a year.

Over the months spent a part, we've sent each other little surprises in the mail to the let the other know they haven't been forgotten.

Yesterday I got this in the mail.  It was a simple card with a little message.  But it came among a slew of medical bills and test results, so the timing couldn't have been better.

Relationships of any kind take work, kindness, and thoughtfulness.  If you have a good friend miles away, send them a little something to let them know you're thinking of them.  It will undoubtedly make their day.

And all it takes is a stamp.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A few mom must-have's

I've been using the following products for a good while now.  They've treated me so well I wanted to share them with you.

Timi & Leslie Diaper Bag

I looked long and hard for a diaper bag while I was pregnant.  I wanted it to be practical, worth the money, and fit for everyday use.  The ones I found at Target were a little too pricey for what you were getting, and the ones I found on Pinterest were way out of my price range.  So I decided to buy a beach type tote from TJ Maxx until I found the perfect diaper bag.  Four months later, I found this Timi & Leslie bag at Nordstrom Rack.  And it was perfect.  I got it for $79.00, and it was originally $179.00.

It includes:

Changing pad with diapers/wipes pocket
Pouch for mom's things
Stroller straps
Detachable/adjustable straps
Insulated bottle holder
Dirty clothes sack

It's made well, easy to carry, and fits everything I need to run a quick errand or for a day trip.  I couldn't recommend it more!

Eddie Bauer Changing Pad

Depending on your diaper bag situation, you may need to purchase a changing pad.  I've been using this one since our little one was born, and I love it.  It has a diaper/wipes pocket, is durable, and stores well.  I picked this one up from Target for $12.

Coconut Oil

While I was pregnant, I read coconut oil is multi-purpose baby product.  I've put coconut oil on any redness that Ella's had, and it's cleared her skin right up.  I also put some on her feet after baths. Since a little goes a long way, it lasts a while and you get your money's worth.

Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap (Unscented Baby Mild)

This is another product I came across when looking for cost effective products.  I bought this soap for $15, and I've had it since Ella was born.  It's been gentle on Ella's skin, and a little goes a long way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Enjoy where your feet are planted

I recently heard this on a YouTube video.

Enjoy where your feet are planted.

And it got me thinking.

As someone in my 20s, I sometimes find this difficult.  We're always working toward something. And sometimes we can get so caught up in working toward said something that we forget to enjoy wherever we are at that time.

I heard this right around the time we were actively trying to relocate to Michigan.  I was doing all the work it takes to pick up your family and move to another state - applying for jobs, pricing U-Hauls, etc. But with this work came a distaste for our current situation.  I became anxious and always felt unsettled as it seemed we were in a temporary situation.  We decided to hold off on buying anything like picture frames or a new lamp because "we're going to move anyway."  And quickly, we noticed as a couple and as a family we started to feel quite worn.

In realizing that moving across the country can be a long, arduous process, we made a decision as a couple that we were going to embrace our current situation, count our blessings, and branch out. Trying new places to eat, exploring different parts of the city, and reaching out to friends that we maybe don't see as often as we'd like became a priority and pricing U-Hauls was set on the back burner.  

Sure, we'll continue to move forward in working toward reaching our goals, but we'll do so at a more realistic pace.  In the meantime, we'll pause and simply be thankful and enjoy where we are now.

Monday, October 13, 2014

From the weekend

I look forward to the weekend more than usual during the weeks when my husband teaches.  But this weekend was a little more special than most - we celebrated Tim's 25th birthday.  Tim wanted to have a relaxed day with family and a few friends.  So we kept the beginning of the day relaxed with a family brunch.  Then we bought some beer and pizza and had a few friends over in the evening.

We drank, ate, and caught up over homemade pazookis (Tim's request).

Tim enjoyed his day.  And that was all that mattered.

On Sunday, we drank coffee, shopped a bit, and indulged in some leftover dessert.

I hope you had a great weekend.  Happy Monday.

Friday, October 10, 2014

In a crop top

Jeans: Old Navy/Crop top: Target/Watch:Jewel Mint/ Sweater: TJ Maxx
I'm five and a half months postpartum, and today I put on a crop top.  It was a little scary, but I did it anyway.

Here's to stepping outside of our comfort zones this weekend.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recent finds

As a mom, my schedule can be all over the place.  Often times, I'm ready to go to bed when Ella goes to bed.  And there are times when I don't particularly feel like being productive when she goes down for a nap.

But recently, I've been trying to include a podcast and a couple good reads in my day-to-day schedule.

This is what I've been loving this past month.

I love a good celebrity memoir.  After reading Rob Lowe's last book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, I knew I had to pick up his new one.  This guy can write.  He knows how to tell a story.  And his experiences and ability to paint his life in a human, vulnerable way makes this book (and his last) a must read.

I came across Joanna Goddard's blog, A Cup of Jo a while ago, but I didn't start religiously reading it until recently.  I love her story.  I love her voice.  And I love what she decides to feature.  A couple of my favorite reads from her this past month are 24 Surprising Things about Parenthood in the United States and (an oldie) The Hardest Two Months of My Life.

The EntreLeadership Podcast: A podcast on business and leadership from the Dave Ramsey team.  I stumbled upon this podcast, looked at some of the recent interviewees and went on a listening binge.  Some of my favorite recent episodes have been Go Make Something Happen with Seth Godin, How to Fascinate with Sally Hogshead, and Why Leaders Eat Last with Simon Sinek.  

I'm always up for a new read and listen.  If you've come across something that you've been loving, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Morning date Wednesdays


My husband started teaching again this week.  We're both pretty excited and happy he's continuing to teach.

But with this new schedule comes long days, dinners for one, and late nights.  So we decided to implement morning date Wednesdays into our weekly routine.  Since he teaches on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, we thought it best to take a break in the middle of the week and go out to breakfast as a family.

We usually head to our favorite local cafe for a chai, a coffee, and maybe a pastry (or two).  We don't get a lot of time in the evenings, but we can count on Wednesday mornings to bring us a retreat from the chaos and business of the week.

Happy Wednesday.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Some real life

Pinterest quote, obviously.
There are some topics in life we don't like to talk about.  It's usually for good reason - we deem these struggles or moments private, we don't want to be judged, we want to appear that we've got it all together.  In the days of profile pictures and perfectly edited photos, we easily get a false impression of people.  And more specifically, in the day of baby selfies and mama/baby matching outfits, I think we sometimes have a false sense of what motherhood can really entail.

I'm the type of person who likes to paint the whole picture.  Writing only about the blue skies and rainbows in life gives you a false impression of who I am as a person and the life that I have.

This doesn't mean I have some secretly horrible situation.  I recognize I'm blessed, but I also recognize I'm human.  Next to the joy and strength part of me lies pain and struggle.

So today, in attempts to keep my writing as true to self and real as I can, I'm going to share with you a bluer part of motherhood that I've experienced thus far.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 1

Picture taken in Anchorage, Alaska
October 1st is my favorite ordinary day of the year.    Even though we're nearing the end of the year, October 1st always brings a sense of newness and freshness.  It's when Fall begins feeling like Fall, when it's socially acceptable to begin prepping for the upcoming string of holidays (beginning with Halloween), it's when I can change out the throw pillows, and break out and dust off the autumn scented candle I bought last season for a whopping .79 cents.

I live in San Diego.  So for me, today is nothing more than a brief hiatus in between heat waves. But it doesn't matter.  Come October, I inevitably feel a little more refreshed than I did on September 30th, and I'm ready to gear up and end the year on a high note.

(The fact that Netflix started streaming all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls today is just an added bonus.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

When uninspired

Writers still write on bad days.
Designers still design on bad days.
Programmers still program on bad days.
Actors still act on bad days.

I've been working on a post about motherhood for about a week.  I've edited and reworked.  It's almost finished, but not yet.  The reworking process has left me a bit uninspired, but it's also reminded me that I'm not going to jump out of bed feeling inspired every day.

We all have days when we feel uninspired.  No matter the craft, no matter the person, we all have our days when we aren't particularly feeling what normally gets us out of bed in the morning.

That's okay.

Keep going.  There's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A little Man Crush Wednesday

Photo: Blink Photographic 
I'm going to take this Wednesday post to say how proud I am of my husband.  He works two jobs, manages to always get some quality time in with our little girl, picks up a sponge if dishes are asking to be washed, and always is learning how to become better at his craft.

Today is no different than any other day except that he saw some fruits of his hard labor with a handful of incredibly positive reviews from his students.  It made me happy to hear as he's always wanted to teach and he simply loves teaching what he is most passionate about.

Tell someone you're proud of them today, and let them know their hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was nominated by my dear friend and sister blogger Bridget Lappert from Broke But Bougie for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.  Once blogging partners and college roommates, we tackled the blogosphere documenting our post-grad lives and shared our tips and tricks for living on a budget.  Check her out!  She has a knack for finding quirky and classy outfits and writes in a way that will make you feel like you just found your virtual best friend.  Thanks for nominating me, girl!


Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

Put the award logo on your blog post.

Answer the ten questions.

Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

Nominate ten people.


Favorite item in your wardrobe?
Currently, it's a sweatshirt I got from Oak Hills Breaking Co.  It's way comfy and I love a good piece of clothing you can lounge in or rock in public.

Three things you love about yourself?
My ability to be empathetic toward others.
My ability to laugh at myself.
My ability to craft a story.

Nicknames people call you?

Favorite TV show?
Hard question!  I'll go with currently - Parks and Rec.

Three things every woman should have in their closet?
A statement handbag.  A pair of flattering jeans.  Something that makes you feel beautiful - a classic watch, bold lipstick, something leopard or something bodycon.

Trend you're afraid to try?
Milkmaid braids.  I just can't.

Trend you're loving?
Gym clothes made chic.

Why did you start your blog?
As a challenge for myself.  I've always loved to write, and I've blogged before, but I never stuck with them.  I was never truly happy with what I was doing, because I was too caught up in analytics and getting recognized.  When I left my job to have and take care of our new little girl, I promised myself I'd start writing for myself and not stop.

Someone you'd love to collaborate with?
Rachel Talbott!

Item you're saving up to buy?
I'll be honest - an area rug.

I nominate 

Your questions, if you accept

1)  Favorite celebrity memoir?

2)  Which actress would play you in a movie?

3)  Favorite leading lady?

4)  Favorite room in your home and why?

5)  Must have accessory?

6)  Guilty pleasure?

7)  Biggest lesson you've learned thus far?

8)  Your favorite place to go to get inspired?

9)  How did you meet your best friend?

10)  Perfect pizza?

Monday, September 22, 2014

From the weekend

On Friday, we headed north to spend the weekend in the high desert.  A good friend of ours invited us to stay with her and her family and get away from the crazy city life.

It was one of the best weekends we've had in a long time.  We were able to relax, have some quality friends and family time, and explore a truly beautiful part of California.

I'll let the pictures walk you through the weekend.

Happy Monday.  I hope you have a great week.

We started off our mini vacay with a day trip to Lake Arrowhead.  The drive was too gorgeous, we had to stop to take in the view and snap a couple pictures.

"Wait!  We gotta get the water in the picture."

In the village at Lake Arrowhead.  We walked, shopped, bought chocolate, and ate lunch on the water.

Waiting for lunch!

We took a family shot in the front of the water to end a great afternoon.

Then we were off to Oak Hills Brewing Co.  Our friend's family's brewery.  We got to see the place, relax over some drinks, and hang with friends.  Best glass of ginger ale I've had.  And I'm from Michigan.  

Captured this shot Saturday night.  Excuse the quality.  It's so cute.  I had to share.

Godfather and Goddaughter chillin' on a Sunday.

We closed the weekend on Sunday by going to Mass, eating a huge brunch, and (of course) watching Frozen (for the first time.)

Here's to mini vacays.  They're the best.