Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Few Last Things V.1

So I was at the dentist the other day flipping through a magazine (a dentist appointment without kids tends to feel like a trip to the spa...) when I came across an issue of People that had a fun feature on the back page called "Last Word." It's basically a series featuring celebrities answering questions about the last time they did this or that, and I found it to be really interesting. It reminds me a lot of my Currently posts, and I thought it would be fun to adapt the series here.

For the first installment I wanted to start with a blog friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is the author of Shutterbean, which is chock full of amazing recipes and fun tidbits from her everyday life. It's a favorite read, and I'm excited to have her here to kick things off.

So here we go - A Few Last Things with Tracy of Shutterbean:

Last thing you cooked: Big Sunday breakfast for my family. We had scrambled eggs, mushrooms with spinach and pesto, bacon, grilled toast and home fries. Weekend breakfasts are my favorite.

Last time you felt nervous: Waiting to hear test results from the doctor. My crazy brain can't help but reference all these Debbie-Downer scenes from movies while I wait to hear what's up. I'm wired to set myself up for disappointment so I've been working on being more positive and staying present.

Last big thing you splurged on: I just went on a Kindle book buying spree while I was out of town. They make it so dang easy! I hope to get through all of them by the end of the summer. We'll see...

Last gift you received: My husband bought me a super cute Kate Spade bag for Valentine's Day. I normally carry a gigantic bag and using this one has been a good practice in simplifying and evaluating the essentials. I love it.

Last song you listened to: Holding On for Life by the Broken Bells It's super catchy and has a Bee Gees vibe. My son Cooper and I play it on repeat while commuting to school.

Last place you vacationed to: Just got back from Ashland Oregon. It was a blog trip but I went by myself and getting out of my everyday routine made it feel vacation-y.

Last time you were moved to tears: Watching an episode of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. Whenever I see Oprah get emotional, I tear up. That lady does things to me.

Last blog you really fell in love with: Dine X Design My friend Kristin re-branded and started a new website. I love everything she & her contributors post. The photography/design is impeccable. She has the most incredible taste.

Thanks so much Tracy!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

Sometimes the best kinds of holidays are the ones where you don't take too many photos, because for me, that means I was a lot busier spending time in the scene, rather than trying to capture it. Granted, we're left with just a handful of photographs to remember the day, but we did manage to get one of Charlie in an Easter basket to commemorate his first Easter, so I'd call that a success. It was a great day full of delicious food, lots of baby cuddles, and a few Cadbury eggs too. We spent it at my parents' in the warm Phoenix weather and soaked up the sun all day long. I so enjoyed having all of the people I love in one place- and I also loved how completely pressure free and easy it was. We did very simple baskets with a couple of books, a few small toys, and some healthy snacks. If I've learned one thing over the course of these past 3.5 years of parenting it's that most of the time kids don't need over the top anything. Simple and heartfelt is the way to go, and those are the things they remember the most.

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Journal Day Prompt #10

Here's this week's prompt-

Quite simply, what are you good at? All of us have particular strengths- what are yours? This week, talk about these talents, big or small. Ideas: discuss how you use these things in your daily life or job, how you discovered a knack for this or that, perhaps even touch on whether or not you are passionate about the things you're good at.

I'll be back Thursday with my response, and that's where I'll ask you guys to share a bit from your writing in the comments, as well as a link to your post.

Read more about my Journal Day project here.
Read previous Journal Days here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Links


Happy weekend, friends! Here are some things I've been loving around the web this week:

I am SO excited about this new season!

This trailer looks great too.

Friending your shrink: what happens when you find your therapist on social media. 

And on a similar note, do you feel teachers should avoid friending students?

This upstate NY house renovation is crazy!

Love these new sunglasses from one of my sponsors, Cut and Burn.

The 13 worst synonyms for vagina, ranked.

I've never been to the South and I'd love, love to take a trip there.

Oh, Mellie. If you watch Scandal you'll want to read this!

25 facts about one of my favorite movies.

Wishist: one, two, and three.

16 great portraits of old dogs.

A good read: What Education Excellence Looks Like.

Did you check out my spring reading list?

Unbelievable things in nature that really exist.

Etsy love: this print

I love reading about others' goals, and this long list on Kaelah's blog is awesome.

In defense of the English degree.

Read this: Male Lawyers Dressing Badly.

Main Street at night.

And finally: THIS.  Umm, where can I sign up?!

Happy weekend! xo

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Journal Day #9

How would you say your upbringing or background has shaped your idea of beauty? Were you taught to apply makeup or do you hair by your mother or friends? If not, where did you observe what is now your norm as far as beauty practices? And although most of us have been inundated by different cultural beauty "norms" via the media, would you say that television and magazines have had a strong impact on shaping what you think of as beautiful? This week, write about your idea of beauty- how your background has shaped it and what that means for you today.

our friend Nikki helping my sister get ready before her wedding

When I think back to my earliest memories of my Mom, I remember watching her get ready before her and my Dad's Friday night date nights- Avon blush and eyeshadow, a spritz of that floral perfume sitting on her dresser, hairspray scrunched into her permed hair. It was the 80s and memories of color are vivid; big baubles and chunky necklaces, dangling earrings and layers of bracelets. And although my Mom wore makeup when she went out, she was never the type to wear it on a daily basis. I actually have no recollection of her ever teaching me how to apply it, or even talking about why women wear it- it just wasn't important.

I didn't start becoming interested in makeup until the 8th grade, and even then it was just a little powder and some Lip Smackers lip gloss. The circle in most girls' back pockets at school was a tell tale sign of that Cover Girl compact we all had, and I can remember sitting on the lunch patio powdering my nose and reapplying my lip gloss before class with all of my friends. So silly. Some of my friends were already wearing mascara and foundation at that point, but even though I noticed it, I never thought, hey, I want to do that too. At that point in my life my idea of beauty was probably something I saw in a magazine- YM or Seventeen, and much as I loved curling my hair before school and spritzing on my Sunflowers perfume (ha), it wasn't an all encompassing thing. I remember feeling pretty, which is a funny thing to write out, but I don't have memories of feeling anything but okay with how I looked, at least until later.

In high school I was so active in sports that makeup wasn't ever really a thing either. I was always either going to practice right after school or had a game or meet, so it didn't make sense to wear it to school only to get all sweaty later. Most of my friends wore it, and I wore it for dances, dates, or special occasions, but it was never more than some eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss. Looking back now I really do feel lucky to have had a Mom that never overtly put importance of outward appearances. Sure, she always looked put together and got us dressed up too, but it wasn't ever a thing. We were more than how we looked, and although she never told us that she somehow conveyed that to us very clearly.

College though was when I would say my personal idea of beauty and the beginnings of my own beauty practices began to change. I was living in a dorm then and later with my sorority, and we all got ready together all of the time. Even when I would go to class Friday morning in sweats after a long Thursday night out, I would still make sure I got "ready." As someone who has struggled with body image in the past I've tried really hard to pinpoint the why and how I started seeing myself and "beauty" differently. And really I'm not sure if I could ever point to one thing- perhaps I could blame media influence, or being surrounded by women who did put an emphasis on looks, but I think it was just a mix of a million different things. This shift happened sometime in my late teens to early twenties and it took quite awhile to get back to a place without self-judgment, as I've written about before. And now as a 31 year old women I do absolutely feel beautiful (most of the time), and it's neat to look back at this whole journey of self-discovery and the growth of this definition of beauty I now have, and see it all laid out, back there. I have this feeling of awe and respect for myself, having given birth to 2 children and seeing my body change and grow big and shrink again, and in a way I think I'm just to the point where I am SO tired of wasting any time thinking poorly of myself, you know? What's the point?

In my long-winded round about way I think I kind of answered the question at hand, but I think I could go on forever about it. I've only just kind of touched the surface, and as much as I'm tempted to go back and add paragraph after paragraph, for the sake of keeping this somewhat readable, I'll leave it. I could go on about so much- there's a lot to be said about being a teenage girl, and the different expectations put on us as women, but that would be many more pages of writing. Perhaps I'll touch on that another day. There's also a conversation in here somewhere about raising children and the concept of beauty. How to talk to them about what they see in the media, what it means to be raising a daughter in today's world, where many of their "role models" in popular culture may be much different than what we grew up with. So much to discuss!

But anyway, that's my response. I really can't wait to see what you shared this week! Post an excerpt and a link your own post below. And as always, thank you for participating in this series. I'm LOVING it.


Read more about my Journal Day project here.
Read previous Journal Days here.



Balance. I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and I've come to the conclusion though, that unless I just accept that nothing will ever be balanced, I probably won't ever be happy! As someone who tends to be a bit of a perfectionist, it can be hard for me to not give everything 100%, or do things exactly how I envision them. It's something I think I'll always have to work through but I recently realized that just as life has changed with two children and different responsibilities, my expectations need to change. There are so many days I feel like a bad friend or a bad blogger, not having enough time to do other creative pursuits that are important to me, just kind of struggling to keep afloat in a sea of yes'...and this isn't okay. I don't want to walk around with a sense of guilt all the time- oh, I haven't posted today. Oh, I haven't called back so and so today. Oh, I haven't touched the boys' Project Life baby books in weeks, had that coffee date I keep talking about having, or answered any of the emails in my inbox in what feels like forever. And sure, some of these things may seem small or even insignificant in the bigger picture, but they're still part of my life. And to be honest, none of these things will ever change. Life will only continue to get busier, so what needs to change is my perspective. And thinking about it more, I realized that one thing I ALWAYS do is go to bed at night feeling like I was present as a mama and a good wife. Even on days I make mistakes or feel like I could have done better, I know that I am aware of how I can improve, and my family- my biggest priority- never ever gets shifted down the ladder or pushed aside. This feels good. And I realize that that's part of fixing those feelings of being so un-balanced, just recognizing that some things are higher up on my priority list, and that's just the way it is. I needed to shift my perspective and look at my day not as a huge puzzle to fit all of the pieces into, stressing over the fact that there is never, ever enough time, but as the puzzle already in tact with the main things I focus on everyday, and then making room for others things if I have time...and then accepting that if I don't, there's always tomorrow.

I'd love to know, though- do you feel balanced? Are you a parent, a student, someone who works full-time either for yourself or someone else? If you've managed to figure out a good balancing act, or if you're still working on it like me, let me know below, or send me a tweet!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sedona and 60th birthdays

There are so many times I feel like I have to thank the whole damn universe for surrounding me with these people I call family...and even more so, thankful that I actually want to spend all of my time with them. Just the other weekend my Mom turned 60 (still don't know how that's possible- in my mind I think she'll always be 35 or so) and my sister and I wanted to do something extra special. We knew we wanted to do Sedona, so we searched hotels and house rentals until we found the perfect place, via Airbnb. It can be hard to accommodate all 9 of us, and we're the kind of people who would prefer to stay in one big place together, rather than split off across a hotel, so this little spot was perfect. On a side note, remind me sometime to tell you the story of the one hotel room in New Jersey. Cra-zy.

So anyway, we ended up booking "The Roost" at Sedona Sacred Rocks, which is a former Buddhist Retreat turned healing center. Very, very cool and right up my Mom's alley. Our hosts Meaghan and Stephen were so warm and inviting and made the weekend so special. My Mom, sister, and I actually participated in a few of their ceremonies too. The place is surrounded by hundreds of miles of national forest and the overall feel is incredibly serene and peaceful, so even just sitting on the back porch made you feel good. It was the perfect way to ring in my Mom's 60th.

The whole weekend was full of lots of food (Simon's Hot Dogs, our favorite), walking, hiking, and just enjoying each others' company. 60 is such a big year, and with all my Mom has been through over the past decade it was pretty great to be able to move into a new chapter surrounded by all of the people we love.

Happy birthday, Mom! We love you.

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