Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kitchen Plans

Now that I put up the horrible pictures of what our kitchen looks like currently, I wanted to share some pretty inspiration pictures about the direction we are headed. I have a pretty clear image in my mind of what I want which is: white subway tile with dark grout backsplash, white quartz counter top (pending our budget), grey cabinets, brass sink (and cabinet hardware potentially) and a farmhouse sink! I am so excited about some of these changes and can't wait to see everything start to come together. What kind of kitchens do you love?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The (very) Unpretty State of my House

That my friends, is the state of our house right now. It is a straight up zoo in here! I think that so often we see pictures of the finished project - pretty houses, bathroom, kitchens - but don't really see behind the scenes. So, let me tell you that right now in the middle of a big (to us) renovation our lives look like: eating waffles from a toaster on the floor, messes upon messes in every room downstairs and lots of painting and sanding (repeat 12x). It will be SO worth it when I can stare at my new subway tile kitchen backsplash and never have to look at the floral on floral bathroom wallpaper ever again. And I should say that I am so LOVING the fact that we are able to make these changes without ever having to ask permission from a landlord - I get giddy every time I think about how blessed we are to own this first home of ours.

Monday, April 21, 2014

When Blogging goes Terribly, Terribly Wrong

Let me tell you a little story. It was about a week and a half ago, and I was at work trying to get an issue with our website DNS solved. The problem was persistent and involved me having to make a call to the IT Director of the umbrella company that my product used to be owned by. Due to some email issues, our work emails on Outlook weren't making it through to each other. I needed to get him the information asap, so I volunteered sending it from my personal email. I opened up a tab, pulled up gmail and clicked on 'Compose' which popped the draft box in the bottom right hand corner. I typed in his email, titled it something along the lines of 'Remove our website from Akamai Configuration' and then clicked send while on the phone. Only seconds later did I realize that instead of sending the correct email I accidentally sent THIS INCREDIBLY PERSONAL post I had been working on the night before in my gmail draft. AHH!!!! This poor man thought he was getting a normal website request and instead I (unknowingly) bared my soul to him. My cheeks turned bright red as I immediately started stuttering explaining that I sent the wrong email and could he please OH MY GOSH delete the personal email I accidentally sent him. I have no idea if he did or not (and am choosing not to think about). I emailed Molly right away to tell her my embarrassing story (to which she responded with the picture above) and every time I think about it my cheeks still burn. So, friends, my advice to you is to not work on blog posts in draft emails, and if you do, don't send them to IT Directors on accident.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Honest thoughts on marriage

In August, Preston and I will celebrate two years of marriage. TWO YEARS. When I walked down the aisle in my pretty lace dress to my handsome man, I was confident that by this point - more than a year later - I would have this thing down to a science. I would be a perfect little loving wife and we would have a perfect little life and a perfect marriage.... HA! Spoiler alert: none of these are true. The thing about marriage that they don't tell you (or maybe they do and my stubborn self just didn't listen) is that it's not about you. It is simple and should have been obvious, yet I went into it thinking that marriage would be great for me and my future. And really it was for awhile, because, honestly, when I get my way I am great! Fantastic! But if I didn't get my way, Lord help us all. And naturally, things started to happen where I didn't get my way - because (shocker!) there are TWO people in this marriage and it does not get to be all about me.

As life happens (family sickness, death, moving across the country, it is your turn to clean the floors) we would argue. And I would nitpick. And I would (and often do - working on it!) hold Preston to this standard of unattainable perfection. Say the right thing, do the right thing, put off this image. Preston actually told me recently that he felt like he was walking on a tight rope, afraid to do something wrong and set me off. Talk about a wake up call. When your husband says this it is time to reevaluate what you are doing, because the thing that is the most important in marriage - making your spouse feel loved and supported - is something you are flat out failing at. Something I was failing at. What I've noticed over the last 20 months, and the thing that surprised me the most, is that the things I would (and still do) argue about and project onto Preston (you're not doing enough around the house! you are selfish! you are not working hard enough!) are the things that I was struggling with personally. They had nothing to do with Preston, yet I was using the one closest to me to unload these feelings. A few months into being married, I started to really struggle with insecurity. I would question 'Why me? Why is he married to me? Am I really loved?" over and over. Instead of confronting this head on, I put up a defense. I was judgmental, spiteful and mean. I didn't want to have an honest conversation with myself or with my husband, I didn't want to be vulnerable because I! am! strong! and independent! Except for I'm not, because a strong person doesn't push their insecurities onto their husband or scrutinize him for every little thing. 

A marriage is about two people compromising, working together and loving each other selflessly. It is about two people coming together to love each other but to trust in God. I have been so blessed in my life to have some incredible examples of loving selflessly (hi mom!) but this skill is not one that I have done well with at certain points in the last year and a half. Recently I have found some incredible resources to help me with this (like this) and have been praying SO hard that I get better at this. I have also been reading (and reflecting) on tons of things which really help me grow as a person. Lately one of the things I've been seeing a lot of are articles titled things like "Why you should always wait until your 30 to get married" and "Those who marry before 35 have the highest divorce rates." I think that is a cop out. I don't think age is the real issue, I think that selfishness is. I think that thinking you are the center of the world is a quick way to an unhealthy relationship.  I think with age typically comes a lot of wisdom - much of it being that a meaningful life is when you focus on others, not yourself - and I think that is the key to why marriages later in life do well. Being married to someone really, really makes you get to know yourself so much better - and when you see things that you don't like about yourself it gives you a support system to work on them. Somebody very wise (hi again mom!) told me several times while Preston and I were dating and engaged 'don't ever marry anybody expecting to change them'. You cannot ever change anybody else. What you can change is yourself, and knowing that has been such a blessing to me. I have the power to change the things in myself that need some work. 

I realize I will never be a perfect little wife. I am SO far from perfect and that's okay. Our marriage will also never be perfect. But it can be incredible. It takes me looking myself in the mirror and actually facing those realities and deciding to work on them every single day: selfishness, insecurity. It also takes me forgiving myself and not (mentally) kicking myself over and over and over. It takes me realizing that life is messy, and can be hard, and that it is okay to be vulnerable and to show it. IT IS OKAY TO FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS. And it is also okay to not know the answers and to give my struggles to God. 

I have a huge gulp in my throat as I write this, but I think it is important to share and to talk about real life and real struggles as we're in them. I think it is good to share that life is not always rainbows and cupcakes, but sometimes looks a little bit more like wiping your alligator tears on your husbands t-shirt as you work through your problems. I have been so blessed reading about other couple's journeys and hearing about their struggles and how they work to overcome them. Life can be so hard, and so messy, but WE ARE NOT IN IT ALONE! YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I AM NOT ALONE! We have God, we have our spouses, our family and our friends to support, pray, love and encourage us. And honestly? Marriage is by far the best thing I have done in life. The arguments, the truths you're forced to face, every little piece of it is worth in one hundred times over. Getting to go through life with Preston and to experience the ups, the downs, the crazy adventures - I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Sweetest Pictures I Ever Did See

Now I don't want to brag - but is she not so cute you could literally die?!?! My oh my. I hope that everyone has an Ari in their life, a little lady that can make you smile no matter how sad or cranky you may be. These photos so capture who she is - fun, goofy, sweet, stubborn, going-to-do-what-she-wants-whether-you-like-it-or-not, adventurous, innocent, hilarious! Nikki is our family's favorite photographer, I can't even count how many photos and memories she has capture for us. Mine, my sister and my mom's house are basically Oliver Blue Photography museums, her work is on all of our walls and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekend Highlights

Weekend highlights included a sweet, sweet puppy giving his puppy dog eyes every chance he got. I sometimes get nervous that house guests are going to be completely annoyed at having a HUGE, hairy, slobbery St Bernard in the house but our guests this weekend were so sweet and gracious and spoiled him with belly rubs and lovin'. We also got to go hiking at Barton Creek - another check mark on the Austin to-do list! Also, I'm pretty sure Olive and June is my new favorite place in Austin. I can only speak for the drinks and atmosphere, but you better believe that next time I will be trying my fair share of that delicious Italian food. Hope your weekend was wonderful!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

What are you having for dinner?

Last week we randomly saw pork chops on sale at Whole Foods. Since I tend to get in dinner ruts habits (chicken fish fish chicken), Preston threw them into the cart and said that we should have them with an apple chutney. Now, at this point, I have to tell you at that point my mind immediately thought of Schmidt and how he likes his chut-a-ney. I really hope you watch New Girl and know the exact scene I'm talking about - if you don't watch it, you should start. Now.

Long story short, I grabbed an apple but didn't think to look up any recipe so when we got home and I started to cook dinner I had to get a little creative. I ended up doing an apple date rosemary chutney and it was DELICIOUS and took little effort. Pork chops with chutney have since been added to our weekly dinner menu and I am loving it. I am terrible with recipes, but the chutney rent something like: Dice a large apple and sauté it with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for 10 minutes. Add a handful of chopped dates and a generous sprinkle of rosemary and sauté for another 5 minutes. Last step, and this is the trick, add about 1/4 cup of honey leave it on the stove for another minute or two before putting on top of your grilled pork chops and devouring. I served with a spinach goat cheese salad that was a great accompaniment. You will love it!

On the topic of what to cook for dinner, here is my favorite site for finding meal inspiration, here is my favorite blog for  and here is a site I recently discovered that I am loving. Now please share your go-to recipes so I can try them!

above photo via (my chops were delicious but definitely not that pretty)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Favorite Movies

Here's the thing, I don't love movies. I normally get a strange side eye whenever I say this, and I get it. Movies are great! They're the best! How do you not love them?! Well, friends, here is how: I have a short attention span! I love TV shows because in 30 minutes or an hour I get a full plot line and then I can get up and take a walk, do the laundry, read part of my book and organize a closet! Its a win win. But, alas, there are certain movies that I adore and thought I thought it would be fun to share them. I should let you know that I read to be intellectually challenged, but I watch movies to be entertained. So don't be offended by my mostly light-hearted (albeit awesome) picks...

Best Movie I've Seen in the Last Year: About Time
I cried for a solid two hours after this movie, it was that good. I know that time travel as a movie sounds cliche and overdone, but this one was done so perfectly. I love everything about it, I would really like to invite that sweet red head to be my brother, but that might be weird.

Best Documentary: Happy
I think if I could watch this and then listen to Happy by Pharrell every day it would be impossible to ever have a bad day. The interviews are so telling - and do such an incredible job showing how you don't need money or comfortable amenities to be happy (and that a lot of times mo' money really is mo' problems).

Best Movie to Watch Over and Over: No Strings Attached
This movie got pretty blah reviews and I think I may be the only person in the world who actually likes it. But for some reason this is one of the few (we're talking 5) movies I actually like watching more than once. I love Natalie Portman, especially in this movie. Best line is definitely "You look like a pumpkin, bitch!" I will also say that Wedding Crashers is a very close second in this category.

Best Movie that Your Husband Will Actually Want to Watch with you: American Gangster
This movie is long, and kind of violent, which basically is everything I don't like but it is SO GOOD. Really, really good. Also, the feature song for the movie, Do You Feel Me by Anthony Hamilton is the best. Lincoln Lawyer was a really, really closer runner up followed by The Firm (pre scientology Tom was so great). If there was a category for 'Best Comedy Movie Your Husband Will Watch with You that is not Wedding Crashers' it would be Crazy Stupid Love.

Best Christmas Movie: The Family Stone
Ya'll, just thinking about SJP's tick in this movie makes me cringe. Oh the spilled strata scene?! Oh my. It is a Christmas staple for me. Runners up in this category were Christmas Vacation and Home Alone, obviously.

Best Movie to Watch with your Sisters: Little Women
Do you too read the book and watch the movie thinking about who you and your sisters are? Maybe you only do this if you have lots of sisters? I am a Jo, who are you? It should also be noted that several movies on this post are best enjoyed watching with sisters.

Best Chick Flick: Notebook
No explanation needed.

Your Mom's Favorite Movie that is also Your Favorite Movie: Dirty Dancing
Oh, Patrick Swayze, why are you such a dream?! Runner up here is absolutely Grease.

Best Independent Movie: The Kids are All Right
Why is Julianne Moore just the best ever?! I adore her and this movie is great.

Best Movie to Watch with Kids: The Goonies
Such a classic. You aren't living until you've done the Truffle Shuffle.

Best Movie Ever, in the History of Movies: Father of the Bride 2 (FOB 2 if you are in my family)
If you are in my family, you know every line of this movie and you regularly do tell people to 'Mackaykalam!" and have reenacted this scene multiple times.

Best Diane Keaton Movie: Something's Gotta Give
Yes, this does get it's own genre because how can you not love Diane Keaton. Have you read her memoir? SO good. Anyways, I have to say that this movie is the best, but also I think my older sister may disown me if I didn't love this movie? So I never really know how much that influences my picks. But this one, this is one I can watch over and over and over.

Movie I am Dying to See: Before Sunrise / Before SunsetBefore Midnight 
I want to see this series SO bad - but I haven't been able to find it until recently when I was told it was on Netflix?!? I haven't confirmed this, but if it has really been under my nose this whole time I am doing some major fist shaking to myself.

Alright, what are your favorite movies that I must watch?! No judging here, promise!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Instagram Doesn't Say

I'm sure you've all read the hundreds of articles on how negatively social media can impact our lives. We look at the highlight reel of some else's life on Instagram or Facebook - we see their vacations, engagements, promotions and compare it to our everyday life of dirty dishes and work frustrations. So, in the interest of transparency, I'd love to show you a little bit of my highlight reel - alongside what was really going on behind the scenes.

What it looks like: Look at us, so healthy! Eating our pretty vegetables straight from the farm! 
The truth: Preston won't touch those beets with a six foot stick. Also, our breakfast had 6 lbs of butter and sugar in it.

What it looks like: My cute husband, grocery shopping with me, so sweet.
The truth: My cute husband thinks grocery shopping is as fun as eating dog poop.

What it looks like: Look at us going on adventures everywhere!
The truth: We fought the entire hour before this because I was jealous, I wanted to rappel too damnit!

What it looks like: I am so on top it of it! Sending cute thank you cards in a timely fashion, how sweet!
The truth: The written out thank you cards have been in my purse for OVER A MONTH. Embarrassing.

What it looks like: Look at me! I made fresh baked bread! What a little domestic goddess I am!  
The truth: That bread tasted like cardboard, ya'll. Baking is not my calling. 

What it looks like: I have the cutest dog ever! 
The truth: I do have the cutest dog ever but my house is covered in hair constantly!

Monday, April 7, 2014

What do you believe in?

What do you believe in? I read Blue Like Jazz (read it, please) a couple of weeks ago and I loved it, I devoured it. There were SO many concepts that made me stop, think, reevaluate, repeat. One of the concepts that was so brilliant (but so shockingly simple) was around beliefs. Donald discussed how so many of the people we follow - actors, musicians, authors - we like them because they are 'cool' but really we have no idea what they believe. We are blindly following people with no understanding of what they support, what they are motivated by, what they believe in. I immediately started to brainstorm ways I was exempt from this, tried to think of people I admired and if I knew what they believed, and for the most part I had no idea. What made me more nervous, was that I was the culprit of this. I've planted a notion in my own head around not sharing what I believe in so as not to hurt anybody's feelings. But here's the thing, sharing what I believe is not forcing my beliefs upon anybody. I am not putting anybody down about their thoughts - in fact, the more I share and think about my own beliefs the more I am so curious about the other's around me and want to hear what they think and why they think it. So, in the interest of transparency, here are some things I believe in...

Jesus. I believe that above all else Jesus wants us to love each other. 

Being kind is more important than being right. For the record, this is the HARDEST thing in the world to me. I struggle with it every hour of every day. I am not good at it, but I believe it and am working on making myself a reflection of this. I need a lot of work!!

I believe that our culture has a horrible notion of 'I deserve' that fuels our materialism. I worked 50 hours a week so I deserve a Starbucks. I closed a big deal so I deserve a new outfit. I AM THE WORST OFFENDER AT THIS. I rationalize things in my own head all the time - but here is the thing, I deserve none of what I have. A comfortable bed in a beautiful house with a caring husband and supportive family and steady job - those are God given. I deserve them no more than the sweet homeless man at my intersection who sleeps on cement every day.

I believe the homeless community is own of the most loving, selfless group of people in the world. They don't have the tie to materialism that makes a lot of the country (myself completely included) greedy little bastards. When I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago a few of my coworkers and I walked up to homeless woman with leftovers packaged to give to her. Before we could say a word, she opened her bag with pastries gifted to her from a bakery and OFFERED THEM TO US. This woman wanted to share the only food she had with her, unconcerned with where her next meal would come from, her only thought was to see if we wanted any of her food. I've never thought of the saying 'You never know what Jesus will look like when he comes' to be more true than right then.

I believe a well placed curse word can make a story that much better. 

I believe in real food and supporting real farmers. I think that spending a little more for whole foods and for animals that were raised humanely is something we all should do. Also, I should also note that I believe in ice cream in waffle cones, full fat milk lattes, red wine and cheese. Lots of cheese. 

I believe that (most) insurance companies are full of shit.

I believe in gay marriage. I think that one day we're going to look back at the way that politicians, churches and people in general have ostracized this community in complete disgust and disbelief.

I believe in living with your means. And having a rainy day savings account. 

I also believe in travel. If there is one thing I'm willing to spend more on it is 100% travel. I will take a plane flight and a memory over fancy clothes and a new car any day.

I believe in getting your hands a little dirty.

I believe that babies are magic. I think that pregnancy + birth + sweet, snuggly newborns are proof that God is real.

I believe in grace, and giving it when it is undeserved. To your self and to others. Again, I am terrible at this and hope so bad that I improve.

I believe in talking to my mom every day, and keeping my fingers crossed that her grace and wisdom rubs off on me. 

I believe in messy houses that come from dirty puppy paws, and paint spilled and games left out and kids toys on the floor and unfinished art projects on the table. (My crazy, type A, I-want-everything-always-clean personality does not always agree with this but I'm working on it.)

I believe in coconut oil the way the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding believes in Windex. It works for everything.

I believe in putting your time and money where your mouth is. Again, I suck at this. I've been thinking lately so much about what story my money and time tell about me, and really, I have a TON of work I need to do there. 

I believe in home cooked dinners. And board games. Did I mention red wine already? It's worth saying twice.

I believe in sweet friends and sisters, who are such a saving grace in my life. AND I BELIEVE IN ME WORKING ON HOW HORRIBLE I AM ABOUT STAYING IN TOUCH. 

With that, I would love to know, what do you believe in?! What is most important to you? What do you love? What pisses you off?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Happy Friday!

Sweet friends, we made it to Friday!! Here are a few things I've been loving this week...

This bathroom (those tiles make my heart pitter patter).

Things like this and this that make me think and keep me motivated.

The anticipation for my first CSA box, arriving today!

This bad ass studio. Can I PLEASE work here for a day?!

Reading this book. I just started. Good so far, not great. I will keep ya'll posted.

Lusting after this wood serving set.

THESE PHOTOS ARE EVERYTHING. The sweetness is unreal. These need to be in my house asap.

For things I am not loving this week, to keep it honest, let's just say it is has to do with a tech person coming to fix a small dishwasher issue, forgetting to reconnect a drain pump which led to water being leaked under our floors/ foundation for over a month. Three cheers for needing a partial kitchen reno!?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Five Places to try in San Francisco

There are SO MANY amazing food options to try in San Francisco. Seriously, so many. Much like the wineries, there are still about a hundred places left on my list that I'd like to try - a great reason to go back! Below are a few of my favorites that I highly suggest you try if you find yourself there...

1. Kokkari Estiatorio. Oh my Lord, yum. I went for lunch and it was SO good. Awesome food, awesome service, fun atmosphere. The octopus, zucchini cakes and halibut were delicious!

2. Blue Bottle Coffee. I got told by my sweet friend Lauren to go here. She always has the best recommendations so when I saw that one was near my hotel, I bee lined it over here. The coffee was amazing (I had the New Orleans iced coffee with whole milk, because how could I not?) and the staff was SO FRIENDLY. I spent a whole afternoon reading my book, journaling and people watching. I'd like to spend every afternoon that way, please and thank you.

3. Bluestem Brasserie. Alright, just go here if you are in SF. The owners are FANTASTIC, it is a husband wife team who built the place (which took them four years). The wife was the architect and now manages all special events and the husband runs the place. Amazing wines, incredible service (the best I have had in a long while) but really I need to tell you about the gnocchi. Oh my word. Goat cheese, basil blossoms, cashews and morels (which I still don't know what that is if we're being honest). It was the best meal I had all weekend. 

4. Foreign Cinema. I realize that is the worst photo ever, but I had to attempt to show you how incredible the ambiance is there. If you are a man in San Francisco, you can not go wrong taking a lady friend there on a date night. The service was slow, but I'm assuming it is because most people come to linger and want to spend all night there. Also, I ordered fried chicken for the first time in my life. I do not enjoy fried chicken at all, I'm just not the biggest fan of breading on food. This chicken, was so tender and amazing and perfectly crisp, it converted me into a fried chicken fan. 

5. The Ferry Building Here's the thing, if you put tons of cheese + fresh flowers + pastries + seafood into an adorably styled building, I'm going to love it. And I'm not going to want to leave. We had breakfast, coffee and lunch here one day and I did not want to leave. If you go, grab a breakfast sandwich from Cowgirl Creamery and coffee from Blue Bottle. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March According to Instagram

It was a good month. The beginning of spring always feels so refreshing - even more so after a long winter. My favorite highlights of March have been dinners eaten on the patio, walks through our neighborhood in the sun, flowers and trees blooming everywhere (the blue bonnets, you guys! so beautiful) and a few special people close to us celebrating big events: birthdays, engagement, bridal showers. I'm so looking forward to a wonderful spring, bring it on April!