Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Today Is For Making Dreams Happen

Pictures

Hey there, dear friends.  Today, I am over-the-moon excited to have an incredibly inspiring and authentic girl guest posting on Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles.  Kelsey Humphreys is a speaker, coach, and author of the recently published book "Go SOLO: How to Quit the Job You Hate and State a Small Business You Love!"  (PS: Barbara Corcoran from ABC's Shark Tank was one of the many people who gave her book a rave review!)  Kelsey is a also a dear friend from college, and it is so incredible to see her making her dreams a reality.  Perhaps even cooler, is that she is helping others make their dreams a reality.  (Small secret: Kelsey has been coaching me for the past few months to make a professional dream come true, and we have some crazy exciting things in the works, eeek!)  I'm so excited to have Kelsey posting today, and if you are a blogger, or thinking about becoming a blogger, this post is definitely for you!  Take it away, Kelsey!

A Letter to Aspiring Lifestyle Bloggers,

I sometimes wish I could be as cool as a lifestyle blogger, like my dear friend Allison. (It’s so weird to call her by her first name and not her maiden name - college habits die hard!) You all seem so chic and put together, yet approachable and open. I know many of you reading this are either lifestyle bloggers yourself, or aspire to be. You’re posting your hiney off, hoping to someday quit your soul-sucking day job and become the next IT girl or go-to-woman in your area of expertise. And as I stated earlier, I get why.  It’s no surprise lifestyle blogs, fashion blogs, and their not-so-distant cousin, mommy blogs, have exploded. Recently, Forbes published an article claiming that these sites are ridiculous and "bad for women." The writer went on to say that they are unoriginal and that everyone is trying to be similar to one another. This article on Huffington post said that “Very few things that lifestyle bloggers post are innovative, but they are pretty!” The latter post was a negative story about the empire Emily Schuman has made for herself with Cupcakes and Cashmere, accusing her of only posting promoted material rather than her personal taste.

You know what I feel like they are glossing over? The EMPIRE part. Though the content of the usual post may not be very “meaty” - don’t tell me we can’t learn a lot from her example! She is one of many. What about Pioneer Woman? Talk about an empire. Oh what if we bring in fitness bloggers? OH! What about coupon bloggers! Instead of throwing stones, why don’t we applaud women who are following their dreams and paving their own way. Instead of writing articles calling for these sites to post different content, why not write articles highlighting their new role as Empress and how they got there?! 

If you are out there posting your daily outfits or your workout routine or your weekly meal planning wrap up, I have a message for you: You freakin’ GET IT, GIRL.

Yes, it feels like everyone else has already done it and done it better. The book I just launched? It’s a motivational book about starting your own business. There are thousands of them! The book next to mine on the top 100 list was written by this guy you may have heard of called RICHARD BRANSON. My self-published book probably won't stay there long, but I had a passion in me and felt compelled to write. I am in my sweet spot, I love what I do and know that I’m making a difference in the world. I also know I am telling my own story. 

Those writers earlier did have a point that there is a lot of sameness in this digital world, even in my category of business coach. Try to stay true to yourself and make sure that being a serious blogger is what you really want to do. Back in the day I tried to do a “home” type of lifestyle blog and I hated doing the things that I did to fill said blog. Ummm, that’s a sign you’re not in your sweet spot. As of 2012, Blogging.org reported that 65 percent of bloggers hadn’t touched their blogs in a year or more. The key is to keep blogging, even if the marketplace is full. The blogs that stand above the crowd are the ones that have been around a while and are updated regularly. If you enjoy writing and you are posting about your true passions, it should be easy to stick with it. Don’t start a blog just for blogging’s sake, especially if you do not like writing! If the writing is a chore, maybe you should focus on becoming a stylist or photographer or chef or whatever you seem to post most about. If you do love writing, find what makes you different. You’ve heard that a million times. Here’s more specific advice: find what you love more than those similar to you. If you really really love coffee maybe you add an entire section on becoming a connoisseur and you start featuring chic boutique coffee companies and they become your advertisers. From there maybe you write an ebook called “A Girl’s Guide to Really Great Coffee” and add to your income through book sales. Remember it will probably take multiple revenue streams to replace your full-time job, get creative!

Will you have to work crazy hard to really go solo as a full time blogger? Yes. Will you have to find other ways to supplement your income besides ad sales and promoted posts? Yes. Will your family think you’re crazy? Yes. Can you really do it? Can you really be the next {insert who you admire here}? YES. Yes, yes and yes again! It has never been easier than it is right now thanks to internet marketing, digital products, apps and social tools like Instagram and Pinterest. Find your sweet spot and rock the crap out of it. Soon I’ll be emailing to interview you and post about your Empire and how you built it. Next time you get discouraged, come back to this post and read these words again: GET IT, GIRL!

A huge thanks for Kelsey for her post, and if you're haven't already headed to Amazon to check out her book, I can't recommend it enough. I'm not lying when I say the bookchanged my life. It's only 99 cents this week on Amazon, and then the price goes up next week. Cheers to powerful women and making dreams happen!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dallas Trip

This post probably could have been better titled "The Trip to Dallas to See My BFF Where We Ate and Shopped the Whole Weekend," but I decided to opt for simplicity ;)  Several weekends ago, I made a visit down to Dallas to spend the weekend with my best friend, Jordan.  The trip had been on the books for a while, and I had been counting down to the day I could give her a huge hug and get in some quality bestie time.  Sometimes it can be tricky when I head "home" to Dallas, because there are so many people I want to see and spend time with.  But for this weekend, I decided not to overdo it, and just focus on time together with Jordan.  It was definitely the way to go.

IMG 4968In all our years of being friends (almost 17 to be exact, which is totally crazy), this might be one of my favorite pictures of us.  It's not particularly glamourous or exciting, but I can remember the moment and how great it felt to be reunited, and it just makes me smile.

Dallas TripAn airport outfit selfie was necessary while in Chicago, as was purchasing these glittered, leopard print tennies.  I mean, how could I not get glittered, leopard print tennies?  It was like they were made for me!  And naturally, within fifteen minutes of touchdown in Dallas, we were at Sonic, sipping on cherry cokes.  Sonics are super rare in Illinois, so they are a must when I'm back in Texas.  Cherry cokes just aren't the same from anywhere else! 

IMG 5168So I made one tiny exception to my "not seeing anyone else rule" and that was to see these two little cuties and their mom.  The fact that Paradise cookies were involved didn't hurt either.  (Like I said, this post really should have been titled differently lol.)

Dallas Trip1Saturday, we headed to the McKinney Farmers Market, where we stocked up on some goodies, and I got to enjoy my first Earth on Tap juice.  Oh my goodness, it was so so good!  Cashew milk, sprouted cashews, Himalayan pink salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and coconut butter.  Then we headed to Downtown McKinney for some shopping and brunch at Snug.

Dallas Trip2Another Texas must have when I'm back is a sno cone!  (Illinois needs to get with the picture when it comes to cool summer treats!)  I had given Jordan my cravings list a week before the trip, so she was prepared in the sno cone department, taking me to Bahama Bucks.  Y'all...my life will never be the same.  Underneath that wedding cake flavored shaved ice, is a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla.  I mean, I can't even talk about it without getting excited.  It was out of this world!  After a second visit in three days, it was time to head to the airport and back to Chicago, wishing I could stay a little longer.  Thankfully, Chicago welcomed me back with a pretty sweet sunset.

IMG 5002Trips like these are bittersweet.  They make me so incredibly grateful for such wonderful, lasting friendships, yet they also make me sad that I'm so far away from so many of my friends.  This trip was also a reminder that I want to be better about scheduling a few weekend trips a year to head back and see friends and family for the weekend.  Especially when sno cones and Sonic drinks are up for grabs! ;)

Have a fabulous week, y'all, and as always, thanks for stopping by to read this little blog of mine!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lake Michigan Weekend

This weekend, Matt and I enjoyed a last minute getaway to the beaches of Lake Michigan.  Matt went into work super early on Friday morning, and while I was still hitting the snooze button and struggling to get up, he mentioned a coworker suggested we should visit the Dunes.  I thought about our quickly filling fall calendar and my busy work schedule this month and said, "Why don't we go this weekend?"  Before we could exchange another text and before I was even out bed, Matt texted me that he booked a hotel.  Bam!  That's how you plan a last minute trip lol.

Though Matt and I have lived in Chicago for over four years, we have done very few day or weekend trips.  This is something we made a commitment to do more of after we both got grown-up jobs and finished fixing up our house, so it was nice to finally put that into action.  We went without much of a plan, which tends to make this overplanner a bit on edge, but we figured stuff out once we got there with only one small meltdown on my part lol.  It was really nice to leave our normal routine behind for a weekend and just enjoy a new place together.  And who knew that Lake Michigan beaches were so pretty?!  If I would have known this gorgeousness was only two hours away, we would have gone much sooner!  Here are a few pics from our trip!

IMG 4782In the car and ready to go!  (Please note: this picture was not actually taken while driving.  I'm photo crazy, but not that photo crazy lol.)

Lake Michigan Weekend1Sand, sun, and a friendly little seagull.  Not a bad view :)

IMG 4795This picture was taken on a little hike through the dunes.  I'd actually really like to go back during the fall and hike more of the area.  The views are really pretty!

Lake Michigan WeekendIs it just me or are ya'll surprised the beach is this legit?  I don't know why, but I thought it would feel more "lakey" and less "beachy" lol.  And as much as I loved the sand, I have to admit, the river kayaking was a highlight of the weekend for me.  Ever since I was a teenager at summer camp, I have LOVED kayaking.  (Surprising, I know.)  Matt and I are now toying with the idea of purchasing kayaks.  It's fun, exercise, and tanning all in one; what's not to love?!

IMG 4836Really thankful that we get to go through life together :)

Lake Michigan Weekend2The water was absolutely frigid (62 degrees according to the park rangers!)  I didn't make it in past my waist, but Matt was brave and swam pretty far out.

IMG 4832So pretty, right?  Take me back!

All in all, it was a really awesome weekend, and it was hard to believe it was just a weekend trip.  I noticed that on our drive back to Chicago, it felt like we'd been gone for three or four days, which I think is a reminder that we need to get away more, especially right now while it's just the two of us.  I have a tendency to want to take "big trips," and these often aren't realistic with our budget or our schedules.  So this weekend was a great reminder that sometimes a weekend is all you need.

We're already planning what little town we want to venture to next, so for any Midwestern readers, we'd love any suggestions you have!  Enjoy your week friends, and as always, thanks for stopping by this little space on the Internet!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Near

Canoe{via Pinterest}

"In the rush of daily living it's easy to forget all the remarkable people, real or fictional, who have been a part of your life. But if you just imagine they are near for a moment, you will realize that anyone who ever touched your heart is always with you, patiently waiting to emanate warmth and support whenever you remember to think of them."
Barbara Sher

I have found myself revisiting this quote several times over the past few years, as my mind has wandered to some of the remarkable people who have been a part of my life.  I think when we talk about the remarkable people in our lives, many of us first think about family and friends or the people that make up our innermost circle.  (And no doubt, my family and friends are remarkable.)  But the reason I adore this quote so much, is because it pushes us to think past that inner circle, being more mindful of some of the remarkable and incredible people who have impacted our lives at various points along the way.  Maybe they were only a part of our journey for a short time; maybe they were someone that we admired from a bit of a distance, or maybe they happened to be there at just the right time, saying just the thing you needed to hear.  For whatever reason, these people have stood out in your life, they've touched your heart, they've changed your perspective.  My mind thinks of a staff member at a previous training site who was fiercely authentic and warm, and I always felt so personally inspired and connected to her, even though she was not my direct supervisor.  My heart thinks of previous students I have worked with, their resilience and their hope, as well as their undeniable courage.  Today a text from of a college coworker brought back the feeling of his unending acceptance and joy-filled laugh.  Sometimes, I even feel reminded of my favorite character from an oh so popular fictional book series.

Often, without these people as a part of our daily lives and "in the rush of daily living," we forget just how special these remarkable people are and how much we could use them in our current and daily lives.  But the cool thing is, that we can have them as a part of our here and now life.  Because if we stop for a moment, and imagine they are near, we can remember the way they touched our heart.  We can remember how they made us feel, what they challenged us to do, and how they inspired us.  We can take that memory, allow ourselves to be filled up with emotion, and go forward, changed, just as if they were with us.  That's right, I'll say it again.  We have the ability to take a memory from someone remarkable, allow ourselves to be filled up with emotion, and go forward, changed, just as if they were with us.  Isn't that incredible?  

Life is full of big decisions, scary moments, and joyous occasions.  Probably like you, I've been experiencing many of these lately, and at times, I find myself wishing all the remarkable people I've met were with me, next to me, radiating their goodness, encouraging me on.  But I'm reminded that their love, their encouragement, and their inspiration are only a moment away, and I have the power to channel and cultivate their remarkable selves, surrounding myself with their warmth and support.

Cheers to channeling remarkable people and keeping them near.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Lately List

Wakeuphappy{photo from Moritz Fine Designs via Pinterest}

It's been a while since I posted a Happy Lately List, and early on this Tuesday morning seemed like a great time to celebrate all the small things making me happy...

Summer travelers making pit stops at our chateau (translation: house.  I'm fancy like that.)  One of the best parts of living in such a fun city is the number of visitors that pass through and make time for quick slumber parties at our place.  It's a great way to squeeze in some soul-nourishing time with the people we love.

My sweet little DIY succulent planter.  One of the few pieces of proof that Pinterest projects are actually doable.

"Disclosure" by Latch featuring Sam Smith.  This was my jam last summer, but now that Sam Smith has made it big, this song is popular on the radio and my hair flipping car jams are back in full effect.

Hosting our first big get together at the house and surviving to tell the tale.  (I made the genius suggestion to host a summer BBQ for Matt's department, not quite realizing the size of his department, especially once partners and kids are included.)  However, we rallied, pulled it together, and hosted a pretty fun little shindig.  And then after everyone left, Matt and I resisted the urge to instantly start clearing stuff away and instead sat and had a drink together, chatting about the party, funny stories the other had missed, and the food we loved most.

Desperately scrounging for five minutes to find a bobby pin and discovering one loner at the bottom of my purse.  Victory!

Carrot cake Luna bars.  Almost as good as the real thing.  (Almost.)

This book.  I am actually pretty knowledgable about the topic of mindfulness, and I use it regularly with clients, but I decided to go back to basics and check out this book.  It's an easy and relatable, yet profound and inspiring read for anyone looking to become more aware of their emotional experience.

TNT's "Rizzoli and Isles."  A fairly predictable, lighthearted crime drama full of girl power...count me in.  (Every once in a while I catch myself relating different parts of my personality to either Jane or Maura, and I realize I might be in too deep.)

This delightful Greek salad, which I ramped up with chopped artichoke hearts and bowtie pasta instead of spaghetti noodles.  I served this at the previously mentioned party, and one of the party goers said it was the best pasta salad they'd ever had.  Umm yeah...my cooking rarely gets that feedback, so I'd suggest making this ASAP.

Getting some extended hangout time with my little brother.  My family was visiting for a week, and given some unexpected family circumstances, their visit was extended, and my brother spent an extra solo week with us in Chicago.  After a semester with him halfway across the world, it was nice to have extra time with the little cutie.

Colorful, printed dresses.  I've put an intentional hold on buying any more black.  Sure, its versatile, but sometimes it's just not nearly as fun.

Getting back to blogging.  It's been awesome to reconnect with so many of you through Instagram, Facebook, and email.  Thanks for sticking around and welcoming me back.

Help spread the happy...let me know in the comments below or on Instagram what's making YOU happy lately!

Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm Baaaaack!

Greece{via pinterest}

Hello?  Is anyone there?  Can you hear me?

I'm afraid that after nearly six months away from this little space, all of my sweet readers are gone, and I'm typing this for my mom.  (Who am I kidding, it's been so long, I doubt my mom even checks for updates on my blog anymore!)  But nonetheless, I'm here, I'm writing, and I'm excited to reconnect.

Life lately has been a little...different.  I struggled with what word to use in that last sentence, and I eventually settled on "different."  Initially, I wrote "hectic," then realized that isn't quite accurate.  Life hasn't been nearly as stressful or busy as it has been in previous times.  I started to type "great," but felt like that was too simplistic and overly fluffy.  So after some thinking, I settled on different.  And here's why.

For most of the past seven years, I've been in school or advanced training.  I've been focused on one single, solitary goal.  The journey was long, winding, and filled with loads of self-doubt, but I kept my eyes on the prize and focused on the day I'd walk across the stage and become Dr. Allison.  And then that day happened, and it was awesome.  And then I quickly focused on the next step, my postdoctoral fellowship, and then my licenesing exam.  I thought, if I can just make it through, if I can just get on the other side of this, I'll be free, I'll be done, and I can start living life.

Well guess what?  I hopped both of those hurdles and then was suddenly standing in the spot I'd dreamed of for so many years.  And you might think that I'm headed down the path of saying, "It wasn't what I dreamed of, it was unfulfilling, etc," and thankfully that isn't where this is headed.  But it was most certainly odd, unfamiliar, and different.  To be in a place where I don't feel like I'm scrambling to the next phrase or the next step in training has been weird.

I've been focusing on working and establishing my professional identity.  I've been coming home at night with little "extra" to do.  No job applications to turn in, no essays to edit.  Just me.  And Matt.  And our little life that we've created, and now suddenly, have a lot more time to build together.  We've been working on the house more, spending time with friends, developing hobbies, and figuring out how to live our life post-grad school.  The shift has been welcomed and wonderful mostly, but at times it's a bit challenging and well...different.  

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how I want to live my life at this point in time.  (And it's not that we weren't living our lives while in grad school; we realized quickly into the journey that if you wait to live your life until you're "done with school," you won't ever make it.)  But this new chapter is different, and it's prompting a great deal of reflection and mindfulness on my part.  I'm inspired, excited, and eager, and I'm also anxious and a little bit afraid.  Yet, I think that's a healthy and realistic place to be at this point in my life.

So I'm embracing those seemingly contradicting emotions and braving the road ahead.  I have some pretty exciting things in the works for the next few months, as I think I'm finally ready to bridge my personal and professional worlds, creating an even more authentic place for myself.  I hope you'll join me on this journey as I embrace different.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Insta-Sprinkles

Hey there, friends!  Happy New Year!  (And while we're at it, I should probably also wish you a happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and every other holiday I've missed over the past few months!)  I thought I'd pop in to catch up and say hi to this little space on the Internet.  I haven't quite felt inspired or motivated to blog over the past few months, which I imagine was related to pure exhaustion following my postdoc and licensing exam.  But now that I've had some time to rest and rejuvinate, I think I'm going to be paying a visit to this little space much more often :)

Here's a peek at what I've been up to lately!

Oct 27 20131*Matt and I had so much fun getting a homemade pasta lesson from our dear friends, Max and Christie!  Max is Italian and Christie's kitchen skills rival Julia Child's, so we felt quite lucky with our little lesson!
*My new favorite smoothie, courtesy of  Deliciously Ella.  (Find the recipe here, and don't blame me when you're addicted!)

Thanksgiving 2013 2*Pattern mixing for a presentation at my old postdoc site.  It was fun to be back as the professional this time!
*I can't get enough of my Tutu Tumbler.  It's cuteness pumps me up every time I see it! 

Oct 27 2013*We headed to San Antonio several weeks ago for a wedding, and we enjoyed some good old fashioned Texas sightseeing while we were there.
*As you've probably noticed, (especially if you follow me on Instagram), I finally took the hair plunge and chopped off twelve inches!  I'm so glad I did; it's been a fun and much needed change.

Oct 1 20131*I'm a sucker for flatbread pizzas, especially when they're shared with a girlfriend over a bottle of wine.
*A weekend visit from my dear friend Jacque + a random Heisman event outside of the Tribune Tower makes for a photo op too fun to pass up. 

Oct 6 2013*My blogging absence meant passing over sharing my favorite fall tradition...apple picking!
*An added bonus this year was having Matt's parents in town from Arizona for the annual tradition. 

Oct 1 2013*This sequin top might be one of my favorite things in my closet.  It practically guarantees a good day.
*Tendron + lime at Embeya.  This cocktail is in my top three favorite cocktails in Chicago.  It's so so good. 

Norma and Jerry s Wedding1*Posing with my dear friend Norma at her rehearsal dinner.  My cheeks hurt at the end of the weekend from smiling so much.  Spending time with our old grad school friends was soul-nourishingly good!
*24 hours later...the newly married couple!  Sidenote: Norma was a stunning bride!

Norma and Jerry s Wedding*Mandatory hotel selfie :)
*Grateful that we were able to soak up some much needed sun in Arizona over Thanksgiving. 

Norma and Jerry s Wedding 2*A weekend trip to Dallas meant that I was able to spend some quality time with my parents and their new sweet dog, Annie.
*Naturally, fried pickles were included in this quality time :) 

Christmas 2013*Prosciutto and arugula pizza + drinks at Bar Toma.
*Michigan Avenue shopping and photo posing is required at least once a holiday season in Chicago. 

Christmas 20132*Dinner at Isla Pilipina with two of my oldest and dearest friends.
*Bright and bold pants are my cure for Chicago's dreary and cold winters.  These purple cords are a favorite.

Christmas 20131*This year, we hosted my family in Chicago for Christmas, and we enjoyed a night at our favorite Greektown spot.
*After six months in our new house, we finally found a good local burger spot.  The pretzel bun sealed the deal for me :) 

So there's a little peek into what's been happening around here lately.  What's new with you?  Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear!  I'm looking forward to coming back to this loved little space.  Have a fabulous week!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Remember Me?

Pinkflower{image via}

Well hello there, blog friends.  Its been three months since I've blogged, which if officially the longest I have been away from my special little place on the internet.  I've gotten messages from several readers asking if I'm alive, and I'm happy to report that yes, I am alive.  And even better, I'm doing well!  Things have been crazy busy these past three months, and free time (aka time to write on Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles) became a thing of the past.  But I'm officially back, hooray!  And to kick things off,  here is a quick run down on what's been happening with me lately.

I studied my ass off for my licensing exam.  Because you know, six years of grad school, a Ph.D, and a postdoc aren't enough to prove I'm competent in what I do.  This exam is notoriously hellish, having nearly everyone in our field in a tizzy.  I started studying in February, lost focus during all the house-buying craziness, then hit the books again hard for two months starting in July.  Every spare minute was devoted to study binders, flashcards, practice tests, and audio guides.  Studying for this text was literally life consuming for these two months.  It was hell.  Thankfully...

I passed my licensing exam!  Hell yes, woo hoo, praise the Lord!  I felt awful after taking the exam, certain I had failed.  I cried the whole drive home from the testing center and then proceeded to flail around at home for thirty minutes, whining about how awful I did and how I couldn't bear to take the test again, etc.  Matt tried to calm me down, reassuring me I had done fine.  Two anxiety filled weeks later, I got the call that I passed.  Relief, tears, pride, gratitude, and joy ensued.  Followed by lots of champagne (and some teasing from Matt about my post-test freak out).  So grateful to have finally hopped that last hurdle!

We've continued to work on the house like mad people.  Over this past month especially, it has truly started to feel like home.  We love our little house.  It's not perfect and there is still so much to do, but it is ours, and that feels oh so good.

My little brother has come and gone after living with us this summer as he completed an intership in Chicago.  Having him here was so fun, and both Matt and I agreed that our house felt oddly empty after he left.  I miss that little guy like crazy, but am so thankful for the memories we got to make this summer.  I also love that even after he has come and gone, we continue to call our second guest room "Ryan's room." :)

I ended my postdoc and started a new job.  The transition has truly been bittersweet.  After years of working in a university setting, I decided to take a risk and try something different.  My new job is going well so far, but it was certainly hard to say goodbye to my coworkers and the incredible students I was privileged to work with.  I think of them often and feel so grateful for such an incredible year.

And because life isn't all serious, I feel the need to include a few frivolous updates as well...

I got a new gold + glittery iPhone case.  It brings me more happiness than is probably normal for a $12 piece of plastic.

We bought an Xbox + Kinect, and sometimes I stay up till midnight playing Dance Central by myself.  Completely normal, right?

I booked two trips to Texas within the next three weeks.  Dallas next weekend and San Antonio two weeks after that.  It's been too long since I've breathed Texas air.

I have discovered Trader Joe's pumpkin Greek yogurt.  My life is forever changed.

I have clearly guzzled the Instagram koolaid.  Come find me there.

One of my coworkers and friends sent me a gorgeous plant the first day of my new job (thanks Marisa!), and I have managed to keep it alive for two months now.  New record in our house.

We joined a gym, and I discovered Zumba.  What took me so long?  I'm smitten.

So there you have it.  The semi-short story of what's new (and not so new) with me.  I'm excited to be back in my little corner of the internet, connecting and sharing more everyday moments with each of you.

Have a fabulous Monday!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekend Trip to Ohio

Several weeks ago, my brother and I took a little road trip to Ohio to see our grandparents.  It just so happened that our parents were visiting from Texas at the same time, so it was perfect timing.  And to top it off, our extended family ended up having a big get-together the same weekend, so it was a weekend full of much needed family time!

Jun 19 20131It's not possible to make a five hour roadtrip without stopping at Cracker Barrel.  It's just roadtrip etiquette, right?

IMG 2085Our extended family has a farm just outside of Columbus, and I can remember every visit I made there as a child.  I'm always amazed at how different it feels than where I grew up and where I live now, and yet, it's oddly comforting and peaceful.

Jun 19 20132Pretty blue skies and my hipster grandma rocking Ryan's RayBans :)

Jun 19 20133Outside of laughing and telling fun stories with family, the hit of my cousin's crawfish boil was certainly the "grown up gummy bears."  Yes please!

IMG 2110Love this kid.

Jun 19 20134Nothing says summer like a crisp, white dress and a plate full of desserts!

IMG 2113After a fabulous weekend together, all we have to show for it is an elevator selfie :)  Better than nothing though, right?

Family time is such a treat, and I am continually grateful for the awesome people in my life.  We are looking forward to several visits from family and friends over the next few weeks, and hopefully, we can get better pictures than an elevator selfie :)  Hope you're having a fabulous week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

4th of July and My "Summer is Here" Realization

Wait a minute; is it seriously mid-July already?  Where the heck has summer gone?  I have a sneaking suspicion that because most of May and June were completely taken over by all things "new house," I kind of lost track of time.  But now that the calendar has jolted me back to reality, we are working to infuse as much summer fun into our weeks as possible.  And that was certainly true on the Fourth of July, as I was determined to make the most of the patriotic holiday!  Here are a few snaps from our holiday...

IMG 2268Our day started off bright and early at a nearby hot air balloon festival.  The 4:30 am wake up call was a bit rough, but it was totally worth it to see all the balloons in their early morning glory.

IMG 2229Matt and I have been wanting to go this festival ever since we moved to Chicago three years ago, but something has always come up.  But this year, with the help of the previously mentioned calendar jolt, we made it happen.  And I'm so glad we did!

IMG 2267Even Ryan managed to get up for the occasion!  PS: have I mentioned how much I love my little brother living with us this summer?

IMG 2231Later that afternoon, after serious naps and a some light work around the house, we hosted friends for a cookout.  It was our first time to invite friends to our new home, and it was so incredibly fun.  There was a moment Matt and I were buzzing in and out of the kitchen and laughing with our friends on the patio when I thought, "This is what we've always dreamed of."  Having a home of our own, hosting dear friends, and celebrating life's special moments.  It was pretty surreal and a major moment of gratitude.

IMG 2249After a big meal on the grill and more than a few bottles of Prosecco (thanks Max and Christie!), we headed to the backyard for smores.  One of our favorite discoveries after moving in and getting situated in our house, was that we have a pretty awesome firepit/chiminea set up.  We use it at least a few times a week, and July 4th was a no-brainer.

So there you have it; our official "oh my gosh, summer is here" moment!  Is time flying by for anyone else, and if so, what are you doing to celebrate summer to its fullest?  

PS: I know I've promised "official" house pictures by the end of the month, but for those that are interested, you can definitely see some sneak peaks on Instagram.