Friday, August 11, 2017

An Open Letter to my 20s

Dear 20s,

Since we're parting ways in a few hours I didn't want to leave you too abruptly without properly talking through all that we've shared.

You've been good to me for the most part. Don't get me wrong we had a bit of a rocky start, (remember when we thought "wine pong" was a good idea? I still can't look at Yellowtail chardonnay without shuddering. BLAH.) but hey a lot of the best relationships do.

But let's not think about the less than stellar days. Let's look at your achievements.

You saw me graduate college and start my career.  There were some interesting jobs there in the beginning. Remember the one where we figured I was getting paid roughly $0.82/hour. That one was fun. But there's also been some great jobs like Rackspace, where I just celebrated my 5 year anniversary, that have brought me awesome friends, amazing travel opportunities and some of the best job experiences I could hope for.
Rackspace SOLVE NYC 2015
(Claudia, Heather, Haley, Dee, Juliana, Me and Christina) 

AWS Re:Invent, Las Vegas, 2015

We've lived on campus housing, with my parents, on the couches of friends (thanks for not killing me Ames), in a condo, and now in a beautiful house that is a bit suburban and makes me feel super grown up/old but I LOVE IT.

Steve and me on our wedding day - Feb 2, 2013 (25 Years old)
You introduced me to my husband. Twice actually. I missed it the first time but you and I had just met at the point and I wasn't sure you were to be trusted. When you tried again at 23 I noticed him in a big way. Less than two years later we were engaged and then married.

You've introduced me to some of my best girlfriends and continued to grow relationships I've had since before double digits were a thing (here's looking at you Emily, Amy and Blem).

Kristina, Me and Cara celebrating my 28th Birthday
(all three of us are pregnant in this pic...Cara literally had her baby a week later...yep I know) 
Me, Cara and Sarah...think this was Cara's 28th 
Some of The "Oldies" but "Goodies" on my 21st Birthday
 (Aubrey, Me, Ames and Emily) 

The Octet on our Wedding Day

The Shire in New Zealand (28 Years Old) 
You've definitely cultivated my world travel bug:
Trip 1) London, UK (Age: 20 Years Old)
Trip 2) Paris, France (Age: 21 Years Old)
Trip 3) Puerto Rico (Age: 22 Years Old)
Trip 4) Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Age: 25 Years Old)
Trip 5) Barcelona, Spain (Age: 27 Years Old)
Trip 6) Italy (Age: 27 Years Old)
Trip 7) Tokyo, Japan (Age: 28 Years Old)
Trip 8) New Zealand (Age: 28 Years Old)
Trip 9) Playa Del Carmen, Mexico (Age: 29 Years Old)

Honeymooning in Punta Cana (25 Years Old) 

The best thing we've shared though has got to be William. I mean truly, how can you not love that face?  He was born when I was 28 and his brother is due to come in a little over a month.

This has been one crazy decade full of life and adventure and I love the people I've gotten to do it with. Here's to the 30s and beyond. Its gonna be fun :).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quarter Life Crisis - An Unofficial Tribute to my Mom

Me and my mom on my wedding day
Technically its a third life crisis but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it so we'll go with quarter life. I've never really been afraid of getting older. I thank my mom for that. My mom has always been the celebrator of all the things. Until I was about 12 we celebrated my half birthday, and no my birthday isn't on Christmas or some other major holiday where it might warrant that, my birthday is on August 12 and my half-birthday is February 12.

Every holiday was HUGE and had its own traditions. Valentine's Day, Easter, Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. I remember special recipes: Monkey Bread for breakfast on Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays. Special traditions: finding the "golden egg" on Easter with the prize of $20 (for the record I have never found the conflabbit golden egg and so I insist on participating to this day), making homemade valentines for Valentine's Day, eating candy until we were sick and watching Its the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and old Abbott and Costello movies on Halloween and eating bowl after bowl of white bean chili and playing Guesstures on New Years.

So this year is a big celebration: 30. Most of my friends have already turned 30 or are turning 30 this year or next. We're all in the same boat. I've accomplished most of my checklist of goals. Graduate College. Check. Launch an awesome career. Check. Travel A LOT. Check.  Get married. Check. Have baby #1. Check. Get pregnant with baby #2 eight months later. Surprise Check. Work at the same company for 5 years. In August that will be a check. Make x amount of money by 30. Check. But that last one...That last one.

I keep thinking back to all of the memories. To all of the reasons I have never worried about getting older and have always embraced it. Really the main reason is I was raised to believe at my core that life is a celebration. We move from one celebration to the next. It drives my husband a little bit bonkers because he equates celebration to $$$ but its not. Its about seeing life as an adventure, in a glass half full (or maybe even on the brink of overflow) kind of way.

When I was 13 we were evacuated from our home due to toxic black mold.  We lived in a hotel room for 3.5 months. 2 adults and 5 children in two connecting hotel rooms for 3.5 months! We were only allowed to take freshly laundered clothing and toys that could be sterilized. We had basically nothing but we were happy because mom always made life happy. My mom never complained about our time in the hotel (at least not to the kids). She called it our great adventure. She focused on the positives: we had daily maid service to make our beds and clean our bathrooms, we had free breakfast every day (I ate so much frosted shredded wheat), we had two bathrooms (can you imagine only one bathroom?), we had a pool and a workout room, we were within walking distance of Alamo Cafe (its a San Antonio thing but they have decent Tex Mex and its super affordable).

As I've reflected recently, I wonder if in the past several years if I've been so focused on checklists and to-dos and endless email inboxes that I've stopped celebrating a little. If I've stopped focusing on all of the positives and all of the little things.  I'm turning 30 this year and if I'm honest I've had a beautiful first 30 years on this earth. And I am so looking forward to the next 30 and hopefully the next 30 after that. I just want to make sure my path is clear and my trajectory is marked.

I want a plan for the next 30. And not one that involves checklists other than those that say things like: plant a Garden with my boys, hike through Banff with my hubby, play with my babies, write because I need it, stop my day to have coffee with a friend who needs to vent.

This is not a to work or not to work post. I'm a working mom and technically whether you work in an office setting or not we're all working moms. But I think I put more pressure on myself to be perfect at work than its worth sometimes. At the end of this life I'm not going to care about campaigns I launched or the salary I earned at the peak of my career. I'm going to care about the moments when I led my family on adventures versus "hard times."  I'm going to care if I miss the little moments of celebration, the tooth fairy and the first books read on their own.

My son turns 1 this month. I want him to know what it is to celebrate your half birthday. I want him to have monkey bread on Christmas morning and to make cheesy homemade Valentines and good lord if I'm not going to find that damn golden egg I sure hope he does!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Post-Christmas Sales or Why My Bank Account Currently Hates Me

'Tis the season for post-Christmas shopping (as though our bank accounts weren't already sad enough). Its time to pretend like my 2015 New Year's resolutions to "spend less money shopping" and to "embrace minimalism" aren't literally 4 days from being enacted. That's right buddy, for the next 96 hours (give or take) all bets are off and I may end up with an entirely new wardrobe of mostly black, white and gray attire (because "wear more color" is also a 2015 resolution but clothes purchased prior don't count).

There are a million sales going on right now so here are just a few of my favorites. I actually have a whole word document full of more sales but I'm tired so this is all I'm posting for today.

Happy Shopping!

Banana Republic
50% off Everything in the Entire Store
+Take an extra 50% off Sale (OMG)

Clockwise from top left: Navy Wrap Dress,  Draped Jersey Top,  Marble Cuff, Drapey Vee Pullover
This is ridiculous. Basically BR is asking us to steal their clothes. Everything above is on sale thus it is 50% off of the already marked down price!
A little bit more on each item: I can't tell you how much I love their wrap dresses (I have a black one that I got for $19.99 on sale in 2007 and I still wear it). A wrap dress is a God-send if you're bloated, PMSing or if you've put on 5 lbs a la Christmas cookies.
Jersey anything makes me swoon (no wrinkles when you travel!) plus again its just so damn flattering!
I've been all about cuffs and bangles lately. Love this gold and black marble one. 
The V-neck pullover I'm basically going to live in.  This is classic J.Crew Pixie Pants, pullover, go. 

Up to 75% off

Clockwise from top left: Mesh-Paneled Dress, Pleated Blouse, Bon Voyage Make-up Case, Open-Front Cardigan 

I'll be honest everything above has already been purchased and is on its way to my house.
The black dress has a mesh insert so its sexy but subtle. If it gets here in time its totally going to be my NYE dress (plus some fabulous jewelry).
The black and white pleated blouse is just too darn cute.
Bon Voyage make-up bag is actually for my little sister but I'm now kind of bummed I didn't get one for me too.
The draped open front cardigan is a staple. I own one but it has multiple holes in the sleeves and really needs to be retired. For $18 I really couldn't say no to this could I?

Here's a secret (I used this just last night so it still should work): want an extra 10% off?
Use this code: 10FRNGU

Extra 40% off Clearance
Some of my favorites below:
Clockwise from left: Cutout Croptop, Midi Skirt, Vneck Sweater, Metallic Snakeskin Jeans

The croptop is basically free so just buy it and thank me later.
The printed midi skirt, I got a long one very similar to this from Forever21 over the summer. It was so cute that literally all of my co-workers bought it too.
White and black v-Neck sweater--CLASSIC!
Metallic Snakeskin Jeans--how cute would these be for New Year's? I love sparkle on the bottom too because its unexpected, everyone wears sparkly tops and dresses but a metallic pant is understated and different.

Alright folks that's it for now!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

With Saturdays like these who needs Mondays?

Today is one of those hot but gorgeous summer days that just begs for you to be outside (hopefully by a pool with a cold drink in hand!).

I started the day off with coffee and brunch at the Pearl Brewery with my favorite neighbor Gigi.  The brunch at Cured is to DIE FOR! We're talking Bananas Foster French Toast with Praline Bacon (definitely going to need run for about 100 miles to burn that off!).  Oh my gosh SO GOOD (the picture does NOT do it justice)!

On the way home I went by Target to return a shirt...huge mistake.  I returned one $8 item only to purchase $48 worth of stuff...ugh Target your perfectly packaged items get me EVERY DARN TIME!

Nate Berkus Folders and Gold Shears feel less like office supplies and more like home decorations. 

Now I'm doing some laundry and crunching on kale chips before I head over to my boss's house for pool time!

Oh and yes at some point I need to pack since I'm leaving at 6:05 in the morning for San Francisco!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Farmer's Market and Blackberry Peach Spritzer!

This morning I went to the Pearl Farmer's Market with my family.  Going to the Farmer's Market is one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning.  I got delicious blackberries, strawberries, fresh peaches, mixed greens and some jalapeno artichoke goat cheese (<--so delicious).

I came home and decided to make a Blackberry Peach Limonata Spritzer for the pool.  You can really substitute the fruit here. 

1 Small Peach
8 Blackberries
1 Tbs. Light Agave Nectar
Handful of Ice Cubes
2 oz. Chopin Vodka 
1 Can San Pellegrino Limonata
1/2 Blackberry Izze or Sparkling Water

To Make: 
Muddle the peach, blackberries and agave nectar in a small bowl until its a nice syrupy consistency.

Fruit--pre-Agave nectar

In a shaker place several ice cubes, vodka and fruit/nectar syrup.

Shake until blended.

Open up the shaker and remove the ice cubes.

Pour liquid into cocktail glass.  Add San Pellegrino and your choice of Blackberry Izze (if you like it sweeter) or Sparkling Water (if you like it more tame but bubbly).


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Easy Dinners--Fake Pasta with Ground Turkey Marinara

A couple of days ago I got this book written by one of my favorite bloggers: 
The Skinny Confidential, Lauryn Evarts
Let's just say I'm OBSESSED.

Last night for dinner I took one of her recipes and modified it for Steve "Must have Meat for Dinner" and I.  It was delicious and left us feeling full but not gross.

Fake Pasta with Ground Turkey Marinara
Makes about 2 servings

For the "Pasta":
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 handfuls of broccolini, chopped
1/2 jalapeno diced
Lemon Pepper, to taste

For the Meat Sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
1.25 lbs Lean All-Natural Ground Turkey
2 tsps Herbs de Provence
Lemon Pepper, to taste
Pinch of salt
Garlic powder, to taste
1 jar of your favorite all-natural marinara sauce

1/2 Lemon, squeezed
Red Pepper Flakes (which I totally forgot)
A few sprinkles of grated Romano or Parmesean
Fresh Basil (optional, I didn't use it)

Step 1:
In a pan or cast iron skillet heat olive oil and add pre-seasoned ground turkey.
In a separate saute pan heat coconut oil.  Add sliced bell peppers. I add in some lemon pepper.

Step 2:
Allow the turkey to brown.
In the veggie pan add broccolini.
You can either throw the marinara in the veggie pan or if you're me and love to dirty dishes put it in a sauce pan on low to medium heat.

Step 3:
Once the turkey has browned add to the marinara sauce (whether its in the veggie pan or the sauce pan).
Add jalapenos to the veggie pan.

Step 4:
Transfer everything to a bowl. Add lemon juice, sprinkle some chili flakes and fresh romano cheese.

Step 5:
Enjoy the deliciousness that is eating without grain!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Grocery Store Judgment

You know those people that judge what's on the conveyor belt at the grocery store check out?
I am TOTALLY that person.  Its kind of become a game.  I've gotten to the point where I can look at the person in front of me in line and tell you whether or not there's going to be soda or a bunch of sweets on that line.  I can also tell you if they're going to have fresh fruits and veggies or not. I also catch myself wanting to randomly help people as they shop.  Please oh please put down the Peter Pan Peanut Butter and pick up some Maranatha Almond Butter (don't get me started on peanut butter's carcinogenic properties...ewwwww) or do you know low fat is a lie?

Don't worry though, I hold myself to the same standard.  What does the conveyor belt look like when I'm shopping? Hopefully like this:

Full of bright colors, veggies, fruit, whole grains and lean proteins.

This is what makes me feel happy. Knowing that I'm making clean, healthy, wholesome foods for my family.

Tomorrow I'm making a recipe straight from Lauryn Evarts' new book.  I'll post it.