29 January 2015

2014: Year in Review

This post is overdue, but it's still January, and I just got around to taking down my Christmas tree, so that makes it basically New Years, right? One of the reasons why I love blogging, why I keep doing it even when it gets old, even when I struggle to find the extra time, is because I treasure the way it records the past, always there to remind me where I've been and who I was. So despite the fact that we moved on almost a month ago, I'm still going to talk about 2014. Quite honestly, it was a heartbreaking year for many amongst our family and friends, an especially turbulent one around the world. After this last year I certainly felt more than ready to turn the page over to a new chapter, but rather than letting the negative overwhelm the positive, I want to remember some of the highlights of my 2014:

A little over a year ago now, one of my closest friends married her true love under a giant oak tree at the lovely Santa Margarita Ranch. The weeks leading up to the wedding held so much special girl time-- wedding dress fittings; co-hosting a kitchen-themed shower; a bachelorette weekend in Santa Barbara that involved lots of Mexican food and margaritas along with ocean kayaking (among other things) in ugly bridesmaid dresses; bridesmaids crafting the flower arrangements together on the day before the wedding. Everything came together beautifully and the evening glowed with the love of a couple with a forever kind of love.

Back in March, I turned twenty-five and something about it felt significant. I don't know, it sounds so cliche, but it scared me that I'd made it halfway through my twenties without checking off the boxes I'd expected to. I find myself feeling scared so much of the time, longing for the confidence I had when I was twelve, that feeling that I could do anything. In my career, I felt paralyzed by fear, stuck in a place that felt comfortable but average. As my birthday loomed ahead, panic set in, and I decided to do something about it. The week before my birthday, I quit my job to pursue an opportunity that felt risky and promising, (more on this to come, I promise!) I spontaneously booked Brandon and I tickets to Kauai and we spent my birthday in paradise, talking about us and our careers, building dreams for our future.

This one was a family vacation to remember. To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, Brandon's parents took our immediate family on a Mediterranean cruise and it was every bit as wonderful as it sounds. We visited Barcelona, Provence, Monaco, Florence, Rome, Naples, Sicily, Dubrovnik, Montenegro, and Venice. Travel is just so inspiring and invigorating; if I could have stayed on this cruise forever, I would have, in a heartbeat!  

The time we spent living in Maryland after getting married was such a weird chapter in my life, and the most unexpected blessing to come out of it was the amazing friendships I made there. We found each other working at the most miserable place and bonded over the transitional stage of life we all were in and how much we hated our jobs. From day one, we just "got" each other and we still do. Throughout my life so far, I've learned that we have to treasure these special friendships; letting go of them, letting people gradually drift away is just so easy. We have to fight to keep the people in our lives who are worth keeping. It's so worth it.  So in November I traveled back to Maryland for a long overdue girls' weekend! We stayed up late talking till 1 in the morning junior-high-sleepover-style, went to a horse race, explored Baltimore like tourists, and drank margaritas the size of our heads. I hope to always reunite with these women, at least every couple of years, to reflect on where we are and how far we've come. It brings me such joy to watch them find their way in life.

Brandon and I thought long and hard about getting a dog. We love dogs, but we also enjoy not having anything that ties us down and keeps us from taking last minute trips. But we felt like it was time for something new, so we got Brinkley, our little teddy bear/labradoodle love. It's definitely been an adjustment having someone we're completely responsible for taking care of, but it's been such a rewarding experience at the same time. Brinkley, like all dogs, is full of so much love. I also appreciate the way he forces me to live in the present moment, to put down my computer and give him some attention, to take time out of my day to just go for a walk. Having a puppy, especially early on, feels like a full time job, but as he grows, he becomes a better and better pal and we just love having him around. We are proud puppy parents!


So despite the hard parts of 2014, clearly we have so much to be thankful for. I'm feeling optimistic about 2015. Some things I'm looking forward to/goals for the new year: taking some big steps forward on my career path, more travel, refocusing on decorating our house, incorporating more non-toxic products into our lives, reading through the whole Bible in a year, being more supportive of and loving toward fellow women, and starting a retirement savings account.

Thank you all so much for following my blog in 2014, even though I've been absent a lot. It means so much that you keep coming back, especially those of you who followed me over from Weddingbee over four years ago. I sincerely appreciate your kind comments and the meaningful connections I've made through blogging.
Wishing you all a 2015 filled with health, happiness, and love!!

21 December 2014

Gift Guides (Our Wishlists)

These final holiday gift guides are based on mine and my husband Brandon's personal favorites. Time for Christmas shopping is officially running out, but I hope these are still helpful for some of you as most of the vendors featured are still guaranteeing Christmas Eve delivery for a little while longer. If you're done for this year, (lucky you!) feel free to file these ones away for Christmases future or maybe take advantage of those post-holiday sales!

1. This Vegetable Spiralizer by Paderno ($34) has been on my wish list for months. In August, we switched to a mostly Paleo diet, and my good friend Cassie introduced me to this little gadget. Ever since I've been dreaming of zoodles and curly sweet potato fries! Available here on Amazon and here at Williams Sonoma

2. Classic Hot Chocolate ($22, $17) // So remember that Paleo diet I mentioned? This is officially the item I'm most willing to cheat for. (I do substitute almond milk!) Usually I walk past items in Williams Sonoma thinking to myself, "People seriously pay that much for hot chocolate?" But my in-laws gifted us a package of this stuff and I realized that I've been dead wrong. This stuff is worth-every-penny life-changing. I don't think I can ever go back to Swiss Miss.

3. Moroccan Wedding Blanket Pillow Cover ($79) // I've been envisioning this pillow on our couch for longer than I'd care to admit. I love the texture and think these would be a great addition to just about any room!

4. Turtleneck Sweater (Also this one.) // I have been craving a cream chunky sweater and apparently so has everyone else. Seriously, every time I find one I like it's sold out when I go to order it! Sorry for the sold out link. I guess if you want a cream sweater, act fast?!

5. 100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream ($21) // In addition to the food we eat, we've also been trying to pay more careful attention to the products we use on our bodies and in our home. I personally love this line of natural beauty products and can't wait to try this highly rated eye cream!

6. Mason Pearson Hairbrush ($150) // This popular beauty splurge is a mainstay on my wish list. Do any of you have one? Is it worth the money and hype?

7. Leopard Print Slippers  ($68, $35) // I saw these at J.Crew the other day and thought they looked just as comfy and stylish as ones at much higher price points. And obviously I have a thing for leopard print...

8. Season 1 of Reign  ($60, $20) // After two people recommended it to me, this show has become my not-so-guilty pleasure in the last month. If you liked Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and are even remotely interested in Mary Queen of Scots, then I guarantee you will be addicted.

1. Star Wars iPhone Case ($35, $10) // My husband is a total Star Wars fanatic. I'm hoping that this Darth Vader iPhone case will be just what I need to convince him to finally upgrade from his 4G. (He's a practical man!)

2. COACH Leather Briefcase ($598) // I bought this briefcase for Brandon for our leather anniversary, after looking at about every possible option. In my opinion it's the highest quality, nicest looking briefcase under $1000. Seeing him carry it to work every day is definitely worth the splurge!

3. Bulldog Natural Skincare Face Wash ($10) // I've been looking for a natural men's skincare line to begin replacing Brandon's current products. I love the branding and the story behind this company. 

4. Selvedge Japanese Chambray Utility Shirt ($98, $69) // This is Brandon's favorite chambray shirt. He wears it all the time!

5. Timex for J.Crew 1600 Watch ($148, $104) // Brandon always points out this watch in the J.Crew catalogs. With a design inspired by JFK, this is one timeless timepiece.

6. English Silk Tie in Microdot ($78, $42) // Brandon owns a very similar tie and I would totally buy him this one!

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Blu-ray ($40, $15) // This movie is a total flashback for any guy who grew up loving the Ninja Turtles. One viewing in the theater was enough for me, but I can imagine Brandon watching this one over and over again.

8. Red Wing Moc Toe Boot ($270) // Ironically, when Brandon is not at work he likes to dress in casual workwear-inspired outfits. These are his absolute favorite boots. I bought them for his birthday last year and with proper care, they should last him years!

9. Woolrich Buffalo Check Blanket ($90) // I just love this blanket and I know Brandon would too. He has a red and black buffalo check jacket that he wears all the time.

Well... this wraps up the season of gift guides! I hope you enjoyed mine this year and maybe even found them helpful! I'm working on putting together a Christmas house tour post that will be up on the blog next week. Other than that, I'm looking forward to winding down this next week, baking lots of Christmas cookies, and enjoying time with family and my very favorite Christmas gift, our new puppy! Hope you all find time to relax and treasure this holiday season!!

14 December 2014

Gifts for Her Under $25

In case you still have a few ladies to cross off your shopping list, here are some ideas that will keep you right within budget. I would be pretty pleased to discover any of these tucked in my stocking on Christmas morning! (I'm especially obsessing over the Citrus Zinger Water Bottle and the Female Monarchs Desk calendar!)

Happy holiday shopping!!

11 December 2014

Gifts For Him Under $25

For those of us shopping on a budget, I thought I'd round up some stylish picks under $25. Whether you're looking for a little add-on item for your husband, a few more stocking stuffers, or a last minute gift for a brother or friend, budget doesn't have to mean boring. I know my husband would be thrilled to find any of these items under our tree!

1. Cotton Gingham Pocket Square, $8 // 2. Bullet Space Pen, $25 // 3. The North Face beanie, $25 // 4. Ceramic "Blue Whale" Tray, $15 // 5. Red Buffalo Check Scarf, $20 // 6. Native Union USB Charging/Syncing Cable, $25 // 
7. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Blu-ray, $9 // 8. J.Crew Slim broken-in pocket tee, $24 // 
9. Falcon Enamelware Mug, $12 // 10. Cedar Shoe Tree, $20 // 11. Baxter of California Large Comb, $18 // 
12. NPW Dominoes Set, $16 // 13. Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds, $11 // 14. Kiehl's 'Ultimate Man' Body Scrub Soap, $13

Shop the post:

Christmas (and Hanukkah) may be only two weeks away, but thankfully, for procrastinators like myself, there's still plenty of time for online shopping! Most stores are running special promotions and offering complimentary rush shipping.

A few of my favorites:
30% off your purchase and free shipping at J.Crew 
Free delivery by Christmas Eve at Nordstrom  
Free 3-Day Shipping and Amazon Prime Eligible at Shopbop and East Dane     

Happy holiday shopping!!


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