Things bringing me joy this week

The perfect chocolate croissant and coffee in the early morning.

The pinkish hues popping up everywhere lately.

Talking with my Tootsie and feeling transported back to dorm nights when life was full of carefree happiness and self-reflection.

Rubbing my sleeping son’s chubby little baby toddler feet in the palm of my hand.

Asking Glenn if he would still hold my hand when we’re old and wrinkly and him responding, “I solemnly promise to always hold your hand.”

I’m still working on my “theme” for this year. I haven’t quite found a word (or phrase) that encompasses everything I want to work on, but I’m getting there. Until then, I figure I’ll just bask in the things that bring me joy.

A New Season: Spring

Happy official spring!

Finally! The weather may not have caught up yet, but I can see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In the cold, grey days of March, it was such a pleasure to think of the bright and bold things to come.

As you might have been able to tell by my last post, the end of winter tends to be a down point in my year. It’s the strangest thing, but it’s pretty consistent (and annoying at that). But at last, we can rejoice in sunny days, brighter colors, and fresh and crisp food! Everything comes down to food, you know.

In celebration of the warmer season, here is a collection of things that I’m ready to bust out for our first Spring dinner. We’ll invite some close friends over, light up the grill, and enjoy the warm air outside under the clear evening sky!

To Drink

Drinks of course can be non alcoholic or alcoholic, but I find the second kind to be a bit more enjoyable. This pomegranate-grapefruit paloma is just right with a bit of the winter citrus but a distinctly warm weather feel. If you prefer something without any extra work, a fresh lemonade or a crisp glass of rose will absolutely do the job!

Pomegranate Grapefuit Paloma 

To Eat

Early spring may seem a bit early to break out the big guns on the bbq. Instead, ease in to the season with a grilled pizza. It’s easy to make, gives your party goers something fun to watch while they wait, and is ridiculously delicious. We tend to go the traditional route with our toppings, since my husband isn’t fond of straying very far, but I am dreaming of a caprese with balsamic reduction. Heaven in my mouth.

Grilled Pizza

While you’re at the grill anyways, you might as well throw on some seasonal fruit. Sprinkle slices with a little brown sugar and grill it up. Once you have a nice crust, top it off with some vanilla ice cream and call it dessert. We’re not here to be fancy, we’re here to relax and eat well.

Grilled Peaches

This recipe is a little more complex, but still incredibly easy. Plus, look at it. Seriously.

The Setting

Some of my favorite warm weather moments are the nights that you talk with your friends outside in the warm air. Imagine sitting back on your chair, chatting with your friends under the soft glow of these pretty lights strung up over you.

Outdoor Lighting

Ahh, isn’t that better? Oh spring, I’m so happy you’re finally here!

Delicious Words: Charles Frazier

I have periods where everything I ever encountered– grass and trees, music, the taste of food, the way people move, the miracle of colors, even my own worn thoughts– seems luminous and razor-cut in clairty, exactly like the whole world seemed to me at seventeen. What a gift at this late date. Memories from deep into the last century come blowing through me and I can hardly stand against their force.

We all reach a point where we would like to draw a line across time and declare everything on the far side null. Shed our past life like a pair of wet and muddy trousers, just roll their heavy clinging fabric down our legs and step away. We also reach a point where we would give the rest of our withering days for the month of July in our seventeenth year. But no thread of Araidne exists to lead us back there.

Charles Frazier, Thirteen Moons

March Sucks

I’ve decided today that March officially blows and is the worst month of the year. I’ve been feeling so bummed out lately and I thought it was strange until I read a journal entry from this time last year. Turns out, we had gone on a mini trip around this same time. Why? You guessed it, because I had been feeling crummy and wanted something to take my mind off this lousy, good for nothing month.

What is it about this month that’s so bad?

It’s cold- no wait, it’s hot!

San Diego is notorious for not being able to decide what temperature it wants to be, but it’s especially bad this month. Mornings can leave a frost on your car and require a thick sweater, but by mid-afternoon, you’re sweating into your winter boots. The touch of sun also is a fleeting flirt. You miss the beach so much, but you know if you go you’ll only be a sad, shivering mess on the waterline.

There aren’t any holidays

At least, not for anyone with kids. Honestly, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the lamer holidays. Yes, drinking is encouraged, but you can only get away with this in your early twenties without looking like an alcoholic. Green beer stains your teeth, and ugh- crowds. No thank you. Plus, you don’t even get the day off of work, which is a basic requirement of any holiday.

It’s no longer winter, but spring is just out of your reach.

No more chestnuts roasting by an open fire but you are still an arm’s length away from picnics and warm weather days. Honestly, what are you supposed to do in your off time?

The food is SO BORING

In November and December, you party it up with delicious, hearty winter eating. Breads! Chowders! Cookies! Cheese! This changes to a lot healthier eating January and February, in line with your New Year’s Resolutions, but it’s still early so it’s fun and exciting and you’re feeling awesome! March is when you’re in the thick of it and you’re just staring angrily at your lentil soup, dreaming of the fresh and happy salads (and margaritas) that only really feel right after Spring has arrived.

You are still months away from any vacations

Ugly cry.

 

T minus 5 days until Spring officially begins, people. From there, the weather will meander it’s way over on its own accord.

Until then, all we can do is run to the end of our chains and bark.

Living The Good Life

Last August, I began a search to really redefine the way I lived my life. When Jack was first born, I was taking every day as it came and just doing what I needed to do to get by. Over time, though, as he grew and became more independent, my own actions didn’t follow suit. I was still doing the absolute minimum of getting by, and I was miserable with how I was approaching several aspects of my life. But the end of summer came with the resolve to fix my approach.

I made a pact with myself to be more mindful, to direct my actions to something useful, something I wanted to accomplish. To lean in and achieve what I wanted out of life. This process has been slow, but as I have learned in the past eight months- time passes anyway, I might as well use it to my advantage.

I am significantly happier now than I was back in August, my body looks and feels healthier, I feel like I have direction in my career (and I’ve FINALLY made peace with where I am now). Overall I’m just more content.

However, I have noticed that I started slacking on my mindfulness the past few weeks, and this has had a profound effect on my level of joy day to day. Instead of feeling rejuvenated, every day I felt like I was under a bit of a cloud. While it’s good to be a peace with where you are, I’ve found that I’m truly happier in a daily sense when I feel like I am working towards a goal.

With that, I’ve reevaluated my daily schedule so I can take steps towards mindfully leaning in every day. It’s not the full-scale renovation I did half a year ago, but a little booster to what I’m already doing. A reminder of what is important, and with it- the intention of creating more joy in my day to day life.

The next month will focus on the following-

Participating at home: I constantly catch myself looking down at my phone throughout my day, especially when I’m at home. I already work 40 hours a week, and so often I feel like I’m missing a significant portion of Jack’s childhood (and my relationship with Glenn!). Back in August, I was determined to put my phone down for several hours a night and instead be fully present for playing, preparing and eating meals as a family, and talking with my husband (and son) about their days. Since I have strayed from this practice, I’ve noticed that at the end of the night I’m disappointed that I didn’t make more of my free time.

This month, I will make a point of participating in the life that is going on around me. Whether it be a making dinner, a dance party, or even a tantrum- I want to be present.

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Seriously, you wouldn’t want to miss out on stuff like this.

Choosing healthier foods more often: This seems obvious, but I’ve noticed that the more I’ve lost weight the more I’m compelled to give in “just this once” since “I’m doing so well”. This, of course, is not self-sustaining and I don’t want to lose all the progress I’ve made.

I really want to take this month to retrain my brain to not give in just because it’s there. I will be more mindful of everything I eat. I don’t want my actions to be influenced by outside factors, I want to be the one making the decisions that shape my body. Treats are fine (and strongly encouraged!), but I want to make the conscious decision to enjoy them rather than realize after I’ve already begun to eat them.

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Walnuts and honey are healthy, right? And goat cheese is milk. It counts.

Getting outside: This action made a massive impact on my general happiness. Since our schedule is pretty packed during the week with work and a long commute, I don’t often get outside. When I started doing long walks on a trail outside every weekend, I noticed a distinct change in my attitude. I felt significantly more refreshed, happier, and willing to be more active.

This month I will take a few hours to go outside and get the movement my body craves. I will breathe in the crisp morning air, I will look at the beauty of the nature that surrounds me, and I will be so damn thankful that my body allows me to do this. I am so lucky to have this opportunity, and I should take full advantage of it.

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This doesn’t do the view justice

Begin classes: I really accomplished a lot in finally determining what direction I wanted my career to take. While I’m an editor right now, the work that I do is in a very limited field. This has always been a source of deep-seated concern since I wasn’t sure how to direct my focus when it came time to move forward. I didn’t know what I would want to do, and I had no clue how to do it. In the past six months, I’ve finally found a niche I believe I would work well in. I’m still incredibly lucky to have a stable job, with no signs of needing to change it anytime soon, but I want to prepare myself if something ever happens. I spoke to people in the field and found a program that could help ease me into the market. It’s been a month and a half since I decided to start this new era of school, and I kind of put it off. But the new semester is beginning soon, and this is just the push I need to begin. I’m looking forward to learning something new and having a career that my children can look up to.

This doesn’t quite fall into the mindful category, except that I want to be aware that this is still very much a resolution I want to accomplish, even though it will take a significant amount of time. So I will begin by taking the introductory course this month and sign up for the class that will begin in April.

I already feel significantly lighter after writing this all down and I’m looking forward to putting my plans into action. I’ll check back in a few weeks to make sure that I’m doing everything I want to live my best life.

Mastering the Master Bedroom: The Reveal

As I mentioned in a post last week, I’ve recently taken on styling my master bedroom- a room more or less neglected since we bought our first home in 2013.

After weeks of scouring Pinterest, I had a solid plan for the direction I wanted to take. It wasn’t particularly expensive or drastic, which was perfect considering my budget was minimal and I really didn’t have the time or energy to devote to a full scale project. I decided to include a soft pink to our already present grey and white color scheme, and looked around for fairly inexpensive items that would contribute most to the overall look.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

The vast difference came from finally finding a place for all the items we had stored along the walls and in the closet. This took a solid afternoon and huge pile of donations to Goodwill. During the same time, I finally hung a collage of pictures and mementos that I had been putting off since we first moved in. The floor was finally clean and the giant blank wall finally had some art.

In this initial period, I also made my first purchase- twelve fabric lined boxes to use on the shelves of my open closet. The boxes were inexpensive, and looking back I would probably have bought them for a higher price in store since the ones I received had noticeable color variations. Nevertheless, it has helped to create a much cleaner look to the closet. Once overwhelmed with various colors and clothing items, now the clean lines and subtle color draws less attention to the least important aspect of the room.

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One of the higher priced items on the list were new lights. We had lived with one Ikea table lamp for years, but our current room was ridiculously dark and I hated trying to do anything productive in there after the sun had gone down. I found these gorgeous faceted table lamp bases at Target a few weeks before deciding on a corresponding grey herringbone lampshade. The bottom pattern provides a modern look to the room, which I adore, and the small print of the lampshade give it texture without overdoing the whole look. Nearly half of the final $125 spent went towards the table lamps, and for good measure. The room is finally bright enough to spend time in there without feeling like I’m about to go to sleep. I’ve found myself in there much more often since these were included.

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Another major part of the money spent, oddly enough, was on the two throw blankets. The first was this soft number from Amazon. After spending something like two hours searching through all the major sites, Amazon once again came through like a pro and provided the perfect blanket for the perfect price. Then, during my search for the lamps, I found another soft pink throw in the clearance section at Target. This one had been a bit more of what I was looking for initially, and the clearance price made it easier to excuse the fact that I was buying two throws for a room that already had a duvet. I can honestly say that I’m delighted that I bought them both. In addition to adding the soft pink color that I was looking for the room, they just make me so darn happy. They’re soft, they’re pink, they’re warm- what more could I ask for?

Then there were the added features that didn’t cost a cent. An often-repeated sentiment by home décor bloggers is to use items from around your house- moving them from one room to be repurposed in another. But as much as I was on board with this notion, this was surprisingly hard to replicate. You see, there are hoarders and then on the far other end of the spectrum, there’s me. I tend to donate pretty much anything that I am not currently using or intend to use within the year. Goodwill loves me and my husband thinks I’m stubbornly unsentimental. It keeps our house tidier, but the effects of this lifestyle definitely made itself known when I tried to find something to reuse for the bedroom.

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The one item I did find for the room was a set of patterned white curtains that had been originally used in the living room of our old house. I distinctly remember having them in hand, ready to toss in the goodwill pile, when I remembered that I should probably use them in the guest bedroom. They never made it there (thankfully), and are now being used to break up the full sheet of grey that once coated our window. This had the added benefit of blocking out more of the morning sun that often peeks around our blackout shade, but also helps brighten the room when I pull up the shade during the day.

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One other free item actually came from a collaborative effort. I asked my mother and sister to check their linen cabinets for any old pink sheets (they are more the “collective” types, so I figured I may get lucky!). My sister found a top sheet way in the back that was the exact color I had been looking to incorporate. My mother in law (the saint), then sewed it into two pillowcases to achieve the exact look I had been drooling over on Pinterest.

Overall, I’m ridiculously thrilled with the outcome of the room. I hadn’t really expected such minor changes to make such a large impact, but I genuinely surprised at how much it looks like the very pictures I kept returning to.

All The Lovely Things: A Bright Weekend

Happy Friday All!

While this week was shorter with the holiday, the departure of a close coworker has landed a bit of extra work on my lap. And although I enjoy the work (mostly), I certainly enjoy spending time at home a lot bit more.

I don’t have a specific list of “to-dos” this weekend for the first time in a while. We’ve been knocking out things left and right, with more still to do, but I’m not feeling that strong push to get anything done RIGHT NOW. Instead, I’m looking forward to spending some quiet time working on our front yard, making some delicious treats, and chasing my son through the green grass of our backyard (thank you rain!).

I also need to take pictures of our newly decorated bedroom. We made the changes last weekend and it has made all the difference in the world. I love stepping through the door and seeing the pretty soft colors working together, it feels so special now!

Until then, here are a few lovely things to occupy your mind.

Easy-Spanish-Tapas

Easy Spanish Tapas

My mom is hosting a tapas party this Saturday, and with it is checking off a long held bucket list item. You know how I feel about bucket lists, so I’m really excited for her to be doing this. Plus, you know… food. I’m looking forward to olive oil and herb soaked cheeses, roasted peppers, and salty olives. And, of course, the wine.

Pretty girls
All The Pretty Girls

I recently fell in love with this song and haven’t been able to shake its spell. His voice reminds me slightly of Bon Iver, which I adore. Perfect for a quiet Saturday morning, watching the sky light up slowly.

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Eric Haseltine: Can The Past Guide Us To Future Scientific Breakthroughs?

Eric Haseltine’s presentation featured on the TED Radio Hour honestly made me reconsider switching up my career entirely for one in science. The man alone is fascinating, and his talk will draw you in instantly.

Stemulation
STEMULATION Daily Micro Derm Scrub

And finally, my favorite item of the week.

I just got a new bottle of this scrub after stretching the last one a few weeks too long. While the last one held up despite my obvious disgrace to it (aka watering it down- the shame!), the new bottle makes my heart sing. It has a gorgeous light citrusy scent and the scrub itself is mild but incredibly effective. I get mine at a deep discount through Fabfitfun ($14), but it’s also available on Amazon. This scrub has made my daily showers insanely luxurious. After seeing the difference between my worn out bottle (which again, was still amazing) and the new one, I’ve vowed to suck up the price and use it faster- it’s so worth it.

Mastering The Master Bedroom

I have a new obsession. Surprising, I know. It’s not like I do this every month.

Since Glenn and I first bought our home in 2013, we’ve never really put much effort into our bedroom. It has always been the one room in our house that we passed over when styling, the last to be cleaned, and generally just ignored. Then we uprooted last year and bought our current home, and with that came a ton of work. Complete renovations to the bathrooms, new paint, new flooring, as well as deciding on a new color theme and style to fit our new home. When we finally settled down, the most we had really done to our bedroom décor wise was to put in our furniture and hang up some curtains. It was sad, you guys, and it only got worse.

Over the next year, our master bedroom has become a catch-all for anything that didn’t have a place in the house. It became even worse after my cousin moved into our spare bedroom last September, and we had to move our junk to make room for all his things.

But no more, I’m done having random items line the walls and having to reach over piles of stuff to get into my closet. I’m done having our bedroom be a collection of odds and ends. Everywhere else in our home has been more or less decorated with a purpose but our bedroom was always an afterthought. I am finally ready to put the effort into turning our room into a place we love, not just a place we sleep.

I’ve actually been musing this for weeks now. I looked through my old pins and their common themes. Turns out- they’re pretty much the same picture over and over again. Seriously, look.

Bedroom Inspiration

Imperfect, simple, soft, and cozy. We already have a strong gray and white theme through our house, and the addition of a soft pink gives it a uniqueness to the rest of the rooms. This is my retreat.

There actually isn’t much I have to do. The biggest will be getting rid of the things that don’t belong and organizing the rest. I want to do something with our closet. We got rid of the doors since they were very old and yellowed, but the closet itself is lacking. Right now my clothes are folded and placed directly on the shelving, which wouldn’t be an issue if I could close it off- but its front and center right now. I’ll be investing in something to make the space a bit more uniform until we can afford to invest in a real closet set up.

Then, I’ll focus on adding more light (our one lamp is not cutting it), and a few little décor touches. I don’t want to add items to the tables, but I do want to add more color and brighten the space up a bit. Our furniture is expresso and our duvet, curtains, and carpet are grey- it’s pretty dark. I’ll definitely be adding some white and a light pink in the mix to help lighten the overall feel.

Finally, it’s time we got something on our walls. This is honestly the least of my concerns, but it will make the room more personal, which I like.

I think I’ll be able to do the major renovation this weekend, depending on shipping times, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. In the end it will probably cost me something around $150, but it will be worth it to finally get this room in control.

All the Lovely Things: Rainy Friday

It’s finally Friday, hallelujah! Not sure about the rest of you, but this week DRAGGED on for me.

This weekend should be full of fun things in preparation for Christmas, lots of wrapping presents and baking cookies. Glenn also went above and beyond in planning our Friday night date, and got tickets to our first hockey game! I’m so excited to finally experience one, we’ve been meaning to go for years now.

There is still a whole day before we reach Friday afternoon, however, so here are some things that I’ll be focusing on to pass the time.

San Diego is experiencing one of the three rainstorms we get a year. While temperatures are remaining in the 60’s (sorry rest of the US, with your snow storms), we are still wimps and want to stay locked in our warm, cozy houses while the fireplace roars. We don’t have a fireplace, but still feel super cozy once we play this video on our tv and crank up the Christmas music. T-8 days people!

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Burning Fireplace

I just found out that Flowerbomb came out with a limited-edition holiday packaging, just mere days before Christmas and well after I gave everyone my wish lists. Ugh, so sad. Look at gorgeously sparkly it is.

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Victor and Rolf- Flowerbomb 

Found this recipe for White House Eggnog through an article from one of my favorite bloggers. I’m not usually a huge fan of eggnog, but there’s something about this recipe that just calls to me (might have something to do with the 24 ounces of liquor in it though).

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White House Eggnog 

I have never seen a more accurate shirt. There will be a lot of sustaining tonight.

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Motherhood Shirt 

Christmas Traditions: Part I

I love this time of year. More than presents and cold weather (although hell yes), I love the emphasis on traditions and family. Since I got married, and much more since Jack was born, I’ve been thinking of what traditions I want to continue as our family moves forward.

There are, of course, the traditions you do on Christmas day and the ones that you do prior in anticipation of the holiday. The former is too far ahead for me to be thinking of at the moment, but the latter is perfect for the weeks leading up to the big day.

Lifetime movies– This is something I do with my mom and sister (the husband isn’t as keen on this genre, surprisingly). What better way to get in the mood for Christmas than cheesy festive movies that always end happily? Add in some seasonal food and a roaring fire, and you’ve got yourself an instant Christmas season.

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Dancing to Christmas music– Be still my heart. My little boy has developed a strong love for swaying to Christmas ballads in his mama’s arms. Only better is when he tries to hold my hand while doing so.

Picking out a tree– When I was younger my father refused to get a real Christmas tree, arguing that my asthma would be terrible with the tree inside the house. Whether it was actually because of that or whether he just didn’t want to dole out money every year is still something I need to discuss with my therapist, but thankfully my asthma has gotten better and Glenn also enjoys the fresh smell of pine in our home. Going out to pick out our tree as a family has definitely become an integral part of preparing for the season.

Traumatizing my child– We’ve added visiting Santa to the lineup since Jackson’s arrival in 2015. He wasn’t too thrilled to meet the big man this year, but it made for a hilarious timeless photo.

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Yearly Christmas ornaments: Growing up, we always got an ornament that depicted something special that happened to us throughout the year. While I love them, I much prefer the metal ornaments with pictures for Jackson. So far I have one of his newborn picture and the two subsequent fall photos we’ve taken at 4 months and 1 year. This way I’ll have a visual representation of him throughout the years.

Christmas cards: Ever the mail junkie, I am mentally compelled to send these pretty pieces of Christmas joy. It’s fantastic enough getting regular letters, Christmas cards are 100x better.

 

I’m still thinking of other ways to incorporate the season into daily life during this month. It’s especially hard with work, but it’s such a fantastic time of year that I can’t possibly think of letting it pass so quickly.