Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Fall Day at the Beach

Two weekends ago, after our morning at the apple orchard, Matt and I were feeling adventurous.  We'd made the almost 3 hour drive to Michigan, and we felt a little silly heading back to Chicago with so much of the afternoon left.  So as we paid for our bags of apples, I asked the man behind the counter, "What else is there to do around here?"  He looked a little confused at first, but after I explained we had some time to explore, he suggested we head to the beach.  He warned it would be windy, but assured us that we wouldn't complain once we saw the view.  And boy was he right.  It was BEAUTIFUL!

PA140122We headed to the small beach town of St. Joseph and found out we pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves.  I think there is something really special about exploring something during its "offseason."  Even when most people have packed up their umbrellas and beach towels, there's still so much beauty to discover.

PA140112It was crazy windy, and the waves were rolling in, but I couldn't stay out of the water!  I was so thankful I had my wellies on so I could splash around and have a little fun.

PA140123Isn't it divine?  Cameron did a great job at capturing the moment; I feel like I can still hear the grass blowing in the breeze.

PA140099Matt and I must have stood in this spot for almost an hour.  He'd wander off to take a few pictures, I'd wade out in the water, often squealing at how high the waves were getting.  I'd get lost in the moment, only to turn and see my man, bent down, taking pictures of some tiny beach detail.  It was so serene and comforting, just the two of us.

PA140141Eventually we ventured out on this narrow pier where we ran into a local who said he hadn't seen the waves so big in years.  We stood there for while, dodging right and left as waves rolled in, crashing over the railings.  It was so simple, yet so fun.  And with Matt and I spending Monday-Friday apart, days like these are even more special.

PA140109I've been whining for a beach vacation since our honeymoon, and though this wasn't quite what I had in mind, I milked it for all it was worth.  Cheesy sand writing and all :)

PA140126Just like a postcard!

PA140143After trying our hand at being beach explorers, we headed to Silver Beach Pizza for some dinner.  The restaurant was housed in the historic train station and had the yummiest pizza I've had in a long time!  The crust was perfect, not quite Chicago deep dish, but not quite thin.  A big accomplishment in my eyes.

PA140147We sat in their enclosed patio, which offered perfect views of the water, but the right amount of protection from the wind.  Did I mention I loved the pizza? :)

PA140140I'm so glad we asked the man at the orchard what was nearby and took the time to explore.  We often get so caught up in life's to do list, that we miss out on unexpected surprises.  And this little beach trip was certainly one I'll remember for a very long time!

PS: My blog got a ton of hits today, but my statcounter is acting up and won't tell me where people are coming from.  If you're new here or were referred from another blog/site, will you please leave comment letting me know how you got here?  Pretty please?  Thanks :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Impossible

Impossible{via pinterest}

Five years ago, when I started my Ph.D program, a dissertation sounded impossible.  It seemed so big, so vague, and so out of reach.  Two years after that, I got started and realized just how incredibly hard and overwhelming it was.  It was hard to even know where to begin; it seemed impossible.  A year after that I faced a huge obstacle, and suddenly, it seemed like my academic world was crumbling around me.  I was emotionally drained and defeated; I was sure I couldn't go on.  It felt impossible.  Since then, I've had multiple moments where I sat at my computer, sometimes swearing, sometimes crying, burying my face in my hands, thinking, "I can't do this anymore; its impossible, I give up!"  But a week from Thursday, I'm defending my disseration.  Defending the project I swore was impossible, the project I was sure I'd never ever finish.  It's here, its almost done, and suddenly, I'm realizing its not so impossible after all.  Somehow, in those moments of impossible, I found a way to press through.  Sometimes because I forced myself to, but usually because I had a loving group of people standing beside me, saying "You can do it.  We believe in you."  Between Matt, my parents, my brother, and my dear friends, I found just enough energy to keep going.  And suddenly the impossible is possible.

Thinking about this journey and how close I am, makes me reflect on the things in my life I'm currently finding "impossible," the things I'm currently swearing I won't survive.  As daunting as they feel, as overwhelming as they seem, I've realized today that I've got history on my side.  Things have seemed impossible before, yet I've managed to survive and overcome.  With a little bit of hope and courage, and a lot of support from those closest to us, even the overwhelming is doable.  So today, I'm challenging us to take a closer look at our lives and realize that we can do it; we can make it.  The impossible is possible after all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Photography Bootcamp

I'm almost three months into my internship and almost three months into living apart from Matt during the week.  Outside of our trips to Texas and NYC, we've been able to spend every weekend together, in Chicago.  This means that every single Friday after work, I load up my car and make the 2 hour drive back "home."  Besides the weekend we moved me down here,  Matt hasn't spent much time in my sleepy little college town.  But this weekend, we changed things up, and Matt made the 2 hour weekend commute to visit me.  And since there wasn't a single thing on our agenda, Matt came up with a unique challenge for me.  Photography bootcamp!  (The name was my doing, not his lol.)

Ever since we got Cameron, we've been taking her almost everywhere.  And about 90% of the time, she's around Matt's neck.  Matt's had a fancy camera before and has some beautiful shots that he took in his high school and college days.  (You remember, when people still used film.)  I was content just snapping a quick pic here and there, but thankfully, Matt came up with a fun way to get me more acquainted with Cameron and photography in general.  Before we left the house on Saturday morning, Matt gave me a list of things to shoot: lines, pattern, color, depth, texture, etc.  The result was a lovely afternoon, spent doing nothing but wandering and clicking away.  I didn't quite get all of the things on my bootcamp list, but I got a good start and thought I'd show you my homework :)

Downtown street grate

Lettuce at the local farmer's market

Potatoes at the local farmer's market

Center of downtown

Flowers outside a local spa

Ivy covered wall

Historic brick building

Flowers outside our lunch spot

A220259I was actually pretty pleased with myself for my first round of photography bootcamp.  I took a ton of pictures (some worked, some didn't) and got over my habit of constantly handing the camera over the Matt.  We managed to snap a few more pictures during our outing that didn't count as homework, but nonetheless, captured the spirit of the day...

A220260Both Matt and I left the market wondering why we don't make it a point to visit farmers' markets more often.  You can't go wrong when its yummier, cheaper, and local.  And the weather this weekend couldn't have been more perfect!

A220264The weekends have a whole new meaning for us now, and we literally try to soak up every single second we have together.  And ps: don't be jealous of my hair; it took me eight hours to get it looking like this, ha!

A220272Jacket: Ann Taylor Loft
Gingham shirt: American Eagle {on sale here}
Scarf: Urban Outfitters
Jeans: J.Crew
Boots: Macy's (total steal at the end of last winter!)
Sunnies: Nordstrom BP (the best place for cheapies, these were $10!)

This weekend was just one of those lovely, lazy, and wandering weekends that I wish could have gone on forever.  But sadly, it didn't, and I'm back to work tomorrow.  But Monday is just that much closer to Friday, so I'll take it :)  What were you lovelies up to this weekend?  Do tell!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fat Talk Free Week


This week, as part of my job, I have been working on promoting an international campaign on the college campus where I work.  The program, Fat Talk Free Week, is aimed at combating our society's thin ideal and standard of beauty.  Its goal is to raise awareness of how our everyday language affects the way women and young girls everywhere view themselves, their bodies, and the world around them.  Fat talk is around us every day, and I can't pretend them I'm innocent or immune to it.  It's so woven into the fabric of every day life, that its often hard to even detect when we use it.  But we do, I do, almost all of us do.  But after promoting this campaign and doing what I do every single day (which yes, I know, I'm still vague about), I'm starting to see just how dangerous fat talk is.  So I encourage you to watch this video and realize just how destructive our words can be.  I'm not perfect, I'm not always good to myself, and I often speak before thinking.  But after watching this video a million times and working with college women on a daily basis, I'm trying to be more mindful of my words and the impact they have on me, my friends, my family, the strangers I meet in line, and the daughter I hope to maybe one day have.  So this week, I'm making a conscious effort to watch my words and find new things to focus on.  Won't you join me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crayola Pumpkin

When I was a kid, I used to LOVE carving pumpkins.  My whole family would gather around the kitchen table and go to town, drawing funny faces, scooping out pumpkin guts, and baking yummy pumpkin seeds as we went along.  So the first year Matt and I were dating, I made a huge deal about carving pumpkins.  Annnd...that was the first year I realized I do not in fact love carving pumpkins.  Nope, not at all.  What I loved was doing the first 10 percent of the pumpkin carving, then running off to leave my dad to do the dirty work, coming back right at the end to squeal, "Isn't my pumpkin perfect?!"  (My poor parents, I must have been the biggest pain the butt as a kid.)  So since that year, I've been on the lookout for different ways to give pumpkins a good sprucing up, but I'm often hindered by the fact that my craft radar is seriously lacking.  (Another thing that typically got passed off to my parents when I was a kid.  Remember my kindergarten ocean diorama, Mom and Dad?)  But when I saw this DIY Crayola Pumpkin idea on Jenny May's blog, I couldn't help but wonder if I could pull it off.  Then my office provided mini pumpkins for us all to decorate, and I couldn't help but think it was a sign from the crafting fairies to give this DIY a try.

And let me tell you...I.FREAKING.LOVE.IT.  It's such a fun and unexpected take on pumpkin decorating; I can't help but want to decorate a million more like it.  The instructions are super simple and pretty much foolproof.  The result?  A totally rad and fabulous pumpkin.  LOVE.IT.

IMG 0196

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Favorite Fall Tradition and an OOTD

This weekend Matt and I got to do something that I have been looking forward to since this time last picking!  You may remember that as a born and raised Texan, I was totally blown away by the experience last year.  It was everything and more that I never knew I missing about fall!  So this weekend, Matt and I hopped in the car and headed for one of our favorite spots, the apple orchard.  The trip also gave us a perfect excuse to play around with our new camera and see what she was made of.

PA140077The minute we turned down the tiny one lane road, I knew this place was going to be special.  But when we stepped out of the car, I was blown away.  Breathtakingly beautiful!

PA140095Our orchard of choice this year was Treemendous Fruit in Eau Claire, Michigan.  Last year we visited and loved Jonamac Orchard, and we were planning to go back this year, until Wednesday morning when I visited their website and discovered they were completely out of U-Pick apples!  So after a minor panic attack and several frantic Google searches and follow up phone calls, I found out that Treemendous still had lots of apples left to pick.  The fact that it was 3 hours away didn't phase us one bit.  We were bound and determined to have our long awaited orchard experience!

PA140057The orchard was beautiful, and we practically had the whole place to ourselves.  And I got a chance to wear my red wellies :)

PA140083I'd say our new camera child did just fine for her first time out.  PS: I forgot to mention in my last post that her name is Cameron :)

PA140069Matt used the day to play around with every possible filter and camera setting, and we loved the way the pop art filter made the colors stand out.  PS: I'm still loving the DIY glitter manicure!

PA140068As much as I LOVE my home state, it just doesn't hold a candle to the midwest when it comes to fall.  Now if I could just find a way to import the Texas State Fair and Fletcher's Corny Dogs to the midwest...

PA140074I feel like its been forever since I've posted an OOTD!  Better late than never right?

Jacket: the Gap
Tunic sweater: Ann Taylor {last seen here}
Striped tee: Ann Taylor {similar here}
Jeans: J.Crew
Scarf: from a London street market
Belt: super old...Gap?  Banana?
Sunnies: Oliver Peoples
Ring: David Yurman
Earrings: Matt's wedding day gift to me
Wellies: Town and Country.  My mom bought these when my parents lived in the UK, and I swiped them when she got back :)

PA140063I wear this scarf at least two times a week; it's getting a little ridiculous.  I can't help it; no how many other scarves I have, I always seem to gravitate towards it!

PA140087I love this picture, and I love that my mom's bright red wellies were with me on her birthday weekend.  Happy birthday, Mom!

PA140066I feel like this picture says a lot about my life right now.  I'm so blessed, and my life is so colorful and plenty, yet being away from Matt during the week often makes me feel like my journey is on pause, like the rest of my path is off limits.  We've been living apart Monday-Friday for my internship for just under 3 months now, and I wish I could say it's getting easier.  But it's not.  Saying goodbye early Monday morning is getting harder.  But we just keep reminding ourselves, this too shall pass.  And then, we'll have a bright and exciting path to explore together.

PA140062The good ones are always tucked away in the middle, but worth every single tiptoe stretch!

PA140084Ok Texas friends, don't lie, you're jealous.  It's ok, I don't blame you.  You're only missing out on the best season ever :)

PA140080I love this dude.

PA140081Golden delicious.  And yes, the name is dead on accurate.

PA140086I'm loving Cameron's grainy filter, so fun!

PA140096After spending the afternoon tucked among rows and rows of trees, we walked away with almost 100 apples!  The orchard was running a buy one-half bushel, get another half bushel for free, so we said, sure why not?  Little did we know the apples would overtake our entire fridge!  So for this week, we're both the apple pushers at work, giving anyone and everyone who is hungry an apple :)

The afternoon was magical, and though I'm already looking forward till next year, I'm trying to soak up this year's fun for as long as a can.  With me on internship this year, Matt and I's moments together aren't as often as they used to be, so I finding myself working hard to be intentional about living in the moment and enjoying the time we are able to spend together.  And this fall day couldn't have been any more special!

So clearly, we love our orchard trips, but I'm curious, what's your favorite fall tradition?  Any other orchard lovers out there?  PS: check out last year's orchard trip here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Introducing the Newest Member of Our Family


This week Matt and I welcomed a new member to our family.  After months/years of pining after other people's cute cameras, we finally decided to expand and get a little one of our own.  We are now the proud parents of an Olympus Pen.  Isn't she beautiful?  We've had our eye on a fancypants camera for a while, and after months of talk and debate, this little gal was just the right match for us.  Most of the fancy and quality of a DSLR, but the ease and portability of a point and shoot.  We are in love with our little one and have a feeling our lives will never again be the same.  PS: For an extra bonus, we sold both of our other cameras on Ebay, meaning this camera ended up being a steal for us!

We our took our child out for a spin this weekend, and I can't wait to show you how well she did.  Our little family of two just got a bit bigger, and we are beyond thrilled.  Oh, and for those of you who clicked on this title thinking you'd see a baby sonogram or a cute and furry friend, sorry to disappoint, we're a looong ways from that kind of commitment :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NYC through Instagram

I've already posted twice about our NYC trip, but I couldn't resist one last post, showing some of my favorite mini-moments from the trip.  And thanks to Instagram, mini moments are just that much more fun to capture!

IMG 0140My first Starbucks inover a month!  When I first started the freeze, coffee trips and eating out were one of the first things to go.  But knowing we'd be traveling to NYC, I wrote a food exception into my freeze rules for the weekend.  If I've gotta grab a meal at the airport, you better believe I'm gonna make sure to work a long lost treat into it!

IMG 0141My beloved gold, wonder woman cuff from Ann Taylor.  I first saw this cuff when I walked in AT's fashion show, and I knew then, I'd be loving it all fall.  It's definitely my favorite statement piece of jewelry at the moment!

IMG 0142Goodbye Windy City, hello Big Apple!

IMG 0144Walking through Central Park, the prettiest "shortcut" I've ever taken.

IMG 0159Matt embracing his inner New Yorker, weekend paper and all :)

IMG 0146The girls spent Friday afternoon perusing The Met.  The building alone is beautiful!

IMG 0145My favorite piece at The Met.  I literally could have stood there for an hour looking at this picture.  A woman with a perspective, committed to being heard.  Past, present, or future, I love it.

IMG 0149A larger than life sweet tooth at Dylan's Candy Bar.

IMG 0151My smart and sassy niece glammed up for the rehearsal dinner.  Love her pink hair extension and think it looks much better on her than when she made her uncle Matt try it on :)

IMG 0153Cocktails at the oh so swanky, Mandarin Oriental.  A special thank to Matt's aunt for treating us to such a fun night!

IMG 0154Times square.  No matter how many times I go to New York, I can't help but feel a sense of excitement at all the hustle and bustle here.

IMG 0155Grabbing a drink at SD26 before the ceremony.

IMG 0161The view from Josh and Anthony's fabulous upper west side apartment.  Floor to ceiling windows with a view like this?  Yes please!

IMG 0160The lovebirds reading through cards and guestbook comments.  Spending Sunday afternoon lounging and putzing around the neighborhood with these two was one of our favorite parts of the weekend.

Congrats again to Josh and Anthony on their new life together and thanks for hosting such a fabulous celebration!