Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas 2015

Happy Holidays, Friends!

We are here – this is it. CHRISTMAS 2015 is upon us. (PS—how?!).

I had these grand plans of sharing with you all carefully photographed pictures of our happy little holiday home, that I’d meticulously uploaded and painstakingly edited using just the right levels of brightness, color, etc. to create a ‘picture perfect’ glimpse into our seasonal d├ęcor. But… to be honest with you… I’ve basically only slept at our house this month! In between feverishly wrapping gifts, baking up the quickest and easiest treats to take to parties, and attending a whopping EIGHT parties / events… our sweet little decorated casita has been sitting quietly.  I am SO THANKFUL for partially decorating before Thanksgiving; otherwise, I might not have enjoyed it much at all! We’ve been so busy that I’ve seriously missed some of my traditional favorites (baking and delivering cookies, Christmas movies—we haven’t watched ANY!, trekking out to Coronado to see The Del decorated for the season), BUT we’ve had a WONDERFUL time seeing friends this month! Seriously, our hearts are so full and grateful – and I love that even more!


Without further ado… here are a few pictures of our happy little home, decorated for the season, as seen from my iPhone lens. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

H A L L O W E E N || 2015


I'm not usually big on Halloween.
We don't go out.
We don't dress up.
We DO eat all of the Halloween candy that was intended for Trick-or-Treaters.
**It's totally OK, though. Because we NEVER get Trick-or-Treaters. And if we did, I might die of shock anyway, before I could ever get to the candy. So... there's that. 


Last year, we started a pretty fun little Halloween tradition, that I am all in favor of keeping up with! At least... until we hopefully have little monsters of our own one day. :)
It's a super simple concept, but classic, and we had so much fun with it last year, we decided to continue the tradition.

Like last year, we will start off our evening with dinner at home. This year, I'm making homemade fajitas with all the fixin's and yummy margarita cocktails [my favorite]. Last month, I was shopping at World Market when I saw the cutest Dia de los Muertos high ball glasses! The sugar skull on the outside of each glass is perfect for Halloween and throughout the rest of the year! Spencer and I love sugar skulls (I don't know why... they're fun! And I love the Dia tradition, so why not?) and I thought they'd be the perfect addition for this year's Halloween dinner! When we were in New Mexico last month, we went to one of my favorite places--a giant warehouse that sells lots and lots and lots of talavera pieces. They have everything from dishes, to serving pieces, to kitchen sinks. Literally, they have everything (including the kitchen sink!). We left with some new dishes, a bowl, and that ridiculously precious talavera Jack-O-Lantern! Yesterday, I whipped up a cute bunch of cocktail stirrers [long toothpick + pom-poms + fake spiders] for a fun twist on the cocktails.
Can't wait for Spencer to come home and see :-)

After dinner, we have a horror movie to watch. I like to dim the lights, light a bunch of candles, grab a couple of big blankets, and settle in to be totally spooked out. It's fun! Last year, we watched the classic 'Carrie'... and I'm itching to watch 'Friday the 13th' again, but we've got a few on Netflix that need watching. Double feature, maybe ;)

Finally, the only difference this year is that I think I'm going to pass on the caramel apples. We've been dipping our hands a little too much in the candy jar, so I think we'll call it good.

Have a wonderful and safe Halloween, friends!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

a letter to my 20-year old self.

Dear [20-Year Old] Adrienne:

You made it! Today is your 30th birthday.

You have officially been alive 10,957 days... three decades... 30 years! Life is a lot different in 2015 than it was in 2005. I'm writing you today, ten years in the future, so you have a glimpse of what your life looks like. Spoiler alert: it's absolutely nothing like you imagined!

I'm not entirely sure where to start, so I'll just start from the beginning...

That guy? You don't end up marrying him. And that's all I will say about that. It's for the better... trust me. 

Because of that first part, you will suffer heartbreak. It will rock your world. It will be devastating for you, and you will hold on for far too long. Because of that, you will only yourself hurt more and more... but it will end. And oh my dear, by the end of it all, you will be so much stronger than you can ever imagine. You will hardly recognize yourself. And you will carry that strength throughout the course of your twenties, right into your thirties.

The next ten years will be SO. MUCH. FUN. College especially is the highlight of this decade, and with good reason. You will make lifetime friendships. You will get an education. You (yes, you!) will be a part of an honor's sorority. You will work really hard in school, and it will pay off. You will play really hard in school, and it will pay off. You will have the perfect balance of both. Your 9th grade speech teacher told you that you were smart... but that you pretend not to be. You thought she was way off base. Guess what? She wasn't. You are smart, Adrienne. You just try to hide it sometimes. 

One of the greatest things in your life will happen in your mid-twenties: you will loose 50 pounds. I know... I know... from where you're sitting right now, you can't believe it. Fortunately, you have never suffered self-esteem issues because of your weight, but you won't be bound by where you can shop or what you are capable of doing. You will remember all of the people growing up who said nasty things about you: from being told in kindergarten that you were fat and always would be to being told at 15 years old that you needed liposuction. You knew none of that ever mattered -- but you are so much healthier now. You've kicked your Diet Coke addiction, had a brief stint with vegetarianism, and you actually pay attention to what you're eating. Not only do you eat lettuce now, you LOVE salads! On the flip side... you still have a full set of sweet teeth and will eat chocolate out of the trash can if you had to. Some things don't change.

You'll travel abroad and finally get to see Italy. It will be a humbling and life-changing experience. Throughout the years, you will learn about other cultures, other religions, other ways of living. You'll free your mind and confuse everything you ever knew -- in the best possible way! There are a lot of things to learn... never stop learning them.

Somewhere during the course of these last ten years, you will learn how to say NO. It will be confusing and uncomfortable at first. You will agonize every time you say it, worry about it, and sometimes come screeching back in to save the day and do whatever monumental task you really didn't want to do in the first place. It's challenging, but you'll start to prioritize and find out what you can and cannot do... what you should and should not do. You aren't a bad person for saying no. You still need to remind yourself of this -- you're getting better, but you're still a work in progress. :)

On that same token, just remember that you don't always have to listen to other people. You really don't. You spend a lot of years doing what other people tell you - and you shouldn't. Don't let other people manipulate you or tell you how you should feel. Stand up for yourself. Stand firm in what you believe in, even if you're the odd man out.

You don't live in Texas anymore! You love and miss the Lone Star State, and you might live there again someday... but right now, you don't.

You haven't done anything crazy, but then again you have. You've never been sky-diving or been arrested, but you've moved 1,300 miles away from home to a place you've never been, without a job lined up, and you lived in a hotel for three months. What the hell were you thinking? Guess what, though? It works out. You got a job that you hated at first, but you stuck with it -- you worked your way up and you recently got a promotion. You might not be here forever, but you've got something to hang your hat on. We all know how hard you are on yourself, but you're proud of what you've accomplished in your career. Congratulations, Adrienne. You've worked really hard to be where you are, and you've done it on your own. 

You make a really good margarita and you have perfected the chocolate chip cookie. Don't underestimate these skills.

You have a few wrinkles and a few age spots. Thank goodness for concealer -- this is quickly becoming your new best friend. You've had some health concerns... particularly in the last year. You're OK, though... just keep taking care of yourself. Everything else will work itself out.

Girl, you finally develop some sense of style! Even though you love your clearance bin finds (you still don't pay full price for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g!) you make it your own, and you learn how to dress yourself. We were all worried about you for a while there... but you come out alright. You prefer to wear Nike shorts, free t-shirts, and flip-flops and in your perfect world, that's still all you would ever wear. 

Let me stop right here and say that not everything has changed! You still have a heart for animals, and I swear it gets bigger and bigger with every passing year. Purple is still your favorite color, and I believe it always will be. You carry your love of horror movies right into the new decade. You are still a crafty person and get a ridiculous high about starting a new project. You still tease your hair and people will NEVER stop giving you grief about it -- don't listen to them. Rock on. Oh, you are so competitive -- that hasn't changed, either.

Guess what? You didn't fulfill your dream of having two kids by the age of 32... in fact, it looks like that's about the time you'll just be getting started! And it's OK.  You've done a lot of other things!

Ah yes... I saved the very best for last. :) You got married this year. You wouldn't guess to whom in a million years but you've already met him at 20 years old. He makes you laugh, he takes care of you, and you both have so much fun together! He totally gets you and this is huge -- because you're kind of complicated. He says you're "a mystery wrapped in a riddle". He's right -- you are. :)

The last 10 years have been a wild ride - lots of ups and downs, lots of joy and lots of pain. But it's been a beautiful journey! Cheers to the next 70 years!

I love you.

The [30-Year Old] Adrienne

Thursday, July 23, 2015


***I wrote this post two weeks ago, and only now do I have the heart to post it. My sincere apologies for my lack of posting lately -- I will try to get better, promise!***

It's not often that I'm at a loss for words, but today, I am completely broken.

This past Friday, July 2, 2015, we said goodbye to our pet, family member, and good friend -- our sweet, sweet London Grace. Even as I sit here now, tears are streaming from my face, as they have been since that night--my heart has a hole in it that can never be replaced. Wanting to remember her life, her whole life, even the unfair ending is why I'm writing this today. This post is long, please bear with me, but I'm writing it for me.

We first noticed that London wasn't completely acting herself on Thursday, June 25th. Despite her always sweet demeanor, wagging tail, and eagerness to be with you--wherever you were--she was just a little off... not quite right. She had been licking her legs something fierce for a few days. Spencer and I were chocking it up to allergies (she's always had them) and had planned to get her an oatmeal bath in the next few days to help ease the aggravation. In addition to that, she was just doing some odd things -- when she would drink water, it sounded like she was almost trying to chew it, chomping it like she would her food. It was taking her slightly longer to eat, too--and when I say slightly, I'm talking 1-2 extra minutes--our girl LOVED dinner time.

Friday morning, we woke to her little legs covered in her own saliva. Knowing how much her allergies were bothering her, we decided not to wait, and I called that day to get her a bath. The soonest she could get in was the next day at noon. I also noticed a minute amount of blood on her legs, but could not find a sore or open wound anywhere.


On Tuesday, June 23rd, I was home just before Spencer (an unusual occurrence) so I took her out to potty and give her dinner. She was eating as Spencer came through the door, and as he did, she came out to greet him, chomping away before going right back to her food. He sat down and once she'd finished dinner, came racing up to give him a proper hello. He was petting her head, and we noticed a streak of blood (very little) on his pants. "Is that coming from her?" he asked. "I don't know", I replied, and walked over to look at her mouth. It was clean. Hmmm, strange. About that time, Spencer was walking through the hallway where she'd come to greet him, and noticed a teeny amount of blood on the floor. "I think it came from here" he said. It clicked. "Ohhh", I replied, "you must have startled her when you came through the door, I bet she bit her lip". Sure enough -- we'd decided that must be it. We noticed a trace amount of blood one other time between that Tuesday and Friday morning, not even enough that I remember what brought our attention to it anymore.

*Fast forward back to Friday morning*

I decided to text my cousin's wife who is the Practice Manager for a veterinary clinic, and who is also holds a degree in Animal Science. I texted her the picture of London's leg, explained that I thought it was allergies, and that I'd checked for foxtails (weeds), but did she have any other thoughts, etc. Being the wealth of knowledge I knew she would be, she sent me a note back with a million and one questions / thoughts / ideas. Regardless, I'd already set up a bath for her the next day, so we were going to start there as I was still leaning most strongly to the notion of allergies. I get off work early on Fridays, so our routine is that I take her out for a loooonnnng walk to kick-off the weekend. She loves it. Normally. This Friday, I tried to take her when I got home, but she wasn't feeling it. Whatever, it was 80 degrees outside, I totally understood and we headed back inside.

When I dropped her off at the groomer on Saturday morning, I noticed that in her saliva was a tiny amount of blood again. Her breath was horrible, so I asked the groomer to please brush her teeth. I mentioned the blood, and she said "OK, she might have a little mouth irritation, I'll be extra sensitive". I thanked her and popped over to the grocery store next door for a few items. I was checking out, 20 minutes later, when my phone rang. I looked at the caller I.D. and noticed it was the groomer. I instantly knew something was wrong--it takes at least 2-1/2 hours for the full grooming session. It was the groomer on the other end of the line; she was letting me know that when she went to brush London's teeth she found a large cyst under her tongue and that I might want to call the vet to get it checked out as it might be a cyst or cancer.

The C-word. I raced to the car, sat in the parking lot, and made her an appointment for that night at 7:00 PM when I knew Spencer would be home from work and we could go together. A couple of hours later, they called back to say London was ready, and I went to get her. The groomer opened her mouth to show me her findings and staring back at me was a large, angry looking mass. What the hell? How did I miss this? It was completely hidden by her tongue, but still... how strange. I thanked her and took London back home. I called Spencer to let him know what was going on, and we waited for him to get home.

When we got to the vet that night, they took her weight. She'd lost four pounds. "Wow", the vet tech remarked, "was that intentional?". Spencer and I kind of looked at each other as if to say "not really", but she had been on a vet-recommended diet for quite some time, and since she hadn't been back since December, we thought maybe she was just killing it on the weight loss side of it. I made a mental note to start feeding her a little more. The doctor came in the room, asked us some questions, and didn't look inside of her mouth yet. I knew why. He knew why. He was making sure he had all questions answered first. When he opened her mouth, his face said it all and confirmed all of our fears. "Wow, guys... this is, unfortunately and I am so sorry to deliver this news, but this looks like oral cancer, and it looks extremely aggressive". He went on to discuss potential treatment options and that we *could* do a biopsy, but ultimately came to the conclusion that it was so advanced, we'd be better off taking her home and enjoying her for what time she had left -- which was, by his assumption, 4 to 6 weeks. 4 to 6 weeks? Are you kidding me? We left with two different types of medications--an antibiotic to treat the infection and an anti-inflammatory to keep her comfortable. She would be on the anti-inflammatory indefinitely.

That night was a complete blur, even as it was happening, and we talked about all of the things we wanted to do with her over the course of the next month. Hiking, a birthday party (since we will miss celebrating hers in October), a final romp to the beach, etc. etc. When we awoke the next morning (Sunday), we started by doing all of her favorite things--beginning with coffee on the patio. She LOVES sitting out on the patio with us, watching the cars go by, watching the neighborhood people walk past. Sometimes, when she sees a dog she knows, she perks up and the owner will come over and lean over the fence to give her pets, and I'll do the same to their dog. After coffee, we decided to go for a little walk. She was eager to do so--running and sniffing e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g... just like always. She seemed to get a little tired pretty soon into it, so we stopped at a big patch of grass and took some pictures and loved on her. Once she was feeling a little more spry, we hopped up and headed for home, but she wanted to go one more block before we went back inside. We hesitated, but she seemed up for it, so we continued. She was ahead, all the way at the end of her leash, when I heard Spencer say "is that coming from her?". There was a drop of blood on the pavement. I looked ahead. There was another. And another. And another. About that time, she turned around to see what was the hold up, and her little face was just bursting with blood. It looked like she'd fallen face first on the concrete, but she'd never so much as stumbled. Pardon to be so graphic, but it was just pouring from her little body, hard and fast. I immediately called the vet who said to bring her in. We raced there, and met with another doctor who gave us a different outlook. He said the bleeding was 100% common with this type of oral cancer, and that because she was so young (she's only 7-1/2 years old), we should possibly consider doing a chest x-ray to see if it's spread to her lungs. We agreed, and within minutes, he came back with the good news that her lungs were clear. The next thing would be the biopsy (cystology) and those results would pinpoint the specific type of oral cancer. There was a glimmer of hope that if the cancer was localized (meaning, it hadn't spread) we could do a mandibulectomy where they would remove just the portion of the jaw where the tumor was located and she could go on living a happy life. Of the three types of cancers considered, one didn't make sense to operate on (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) but if it came back that it was one of the others, the chances were very good to have a successful operation.

The next two days were the longest days of my life waiting on those results. In the meantime, London was rapidly slowing down. She'd stopped drinking water that Sunday, and since we'd already moved her to a soft diet which I was blending, I would use a tablespoon or two of her soft food mixed with water to give her a little extra nourishment. She seemed OK with this, and it was the only way I could get some hydration in her system, so it worked for us.

Tuesday morning (June 30th), Spencer and I were leaving at the same time. I had my purse on my shoulder as he was walking to the living room to open the blinds, London in tow. She seemingly tripped over nothing, fell, and started bleeding all over again. Spencer had a mandatory meeting that began at 8:30 that morning, but I could be a little late, so I stayed with her until it stopped. I texted work to tell them I'd be a little late before calling to check in with the vet, not knowing it would take an hour and ten minutes to control the bleeding. My poor baby. When I finally got to speak to the vet, he said to bring her in that afternoon as he should have her results by then and he could do surgery that evening. We'd already decided that surgery was something we wanted to pursue, so I took the rest of the day off and stayed with her. We loaded her up that afternoon, and trotted off to the vet--both extremely hopeful that our puppy would be cancer free in just a couple of days.

When the vet entered the room, he started talking about another type of cancer altogether -- Osteocarcoma, or bone cancer. This whole conversation blurs again, but basically we found out that it was in her bones, and even with surgery, chemo AND radiation... we were talking about the inevitable and would only buy us months... not years. So, once again, we took our puppy home to live out the next weeks of her life.

Every single day she grew more and more tired, she bled more and more, and seemed to enjoy life less and less. We were at first thinking that she was going to fly past the 6 week mark, and now we were sure it was going to be closer to 4... or less. By Friday morning, July 3rd, she was refusing food altogether, and when she did eat people food (the only thing she could do), she was bleeding so much you could tell she wasn't enjoying it. Friday morning, she didn't move for 9 hours straight--didn't want to eat, drink, or potty. I called the vet. We knew it was time.

I'll spare the rest of the details from that evening as I just can't bear to think of my baby girl in that much pain. We have the world's best veterinary staff, as they stayed open an hour later to allow us to say goodbye to her in complete privacy--when no one else was there. I will never, ever forget their generosity or their wonderful care they took of our sweet London that evening. They assured us the timing was perfect, as she was not suffering... but she was in severe pain. Another couple of days, and she would be suffering greatly -- something Spencer and I did not want her sweet spirit to endure. That was my biggest fear--letting her go too soon, but I instantly felt better when the vet said that. He gave specific examples to back it up, and I knew I had the confirmation that it was OK.

I still cannot believe that in just 6 days... less than one week... we went from a bouncy, happy girl to one that was finished with this life. Somewhere in that time frame, she was given another medication for pain, but it seemingly didn't do much to help her, if any.

I am missing her. Every single second of every minute of the days that are dragging on and on. She and I shared a bond that I have never had with another human, let alone animal. Her gentleness, sweetness, and overall joy for life have inspired me and left me absolutely heartbroken in her absence.

Rest in peace, my sweet, sweet London Grace. You have made me a better person.

Friday, May 29, 2015

newlywed life: the last two months.

Well, well… where does the time go? My last post was over a month ago! Oh wait… we moved. I remember now where all my “free time” went. :)

While I’m still getting together an obligatory ‘wedding post’ – complete with pictures! woo! – In the meantime, and in honor of our two-month anniversary on Wednesday (aweee), I thought I’d share a peek into what our lives have been like as newlyweds. The past two months have flown… almost as fast as the two months leading up to the wedding. We’re finally starting to slow down a bit – a welcome break – and our new little home, lovingly referred to as our ‘casita’ has taken shape and we are really happy there.

I’ve baked a ton of cookies – gotta use all the new registry gadgets, right?! – and we’ve enjoyed several meals from the food trucks that come to our neighborhood on Thursday nights. We’ve started back up our lazy Sunday afternoon tradition of movie-watching [current series: Star Wars… I’m obsessed!] and have traveled around SoCal a bit [I went to Pasadena for Vogue Knitting Live and Spencer spent the day in Long Beach golfing last weekend]. We’ve hit up the gym to burn off those cookies, and we’ve indulged in a couple of bottles of really good wine. We’ve completely unpacked the house, but we’re still missing the essentials – like a garbage can… and a dining room table. LOL. We’ve tried new dinner recipes… and new cocktail recipes. It’s all been fun. :)

Normally, I wouldn’t post so many unstaged pictures, but in the effort of showing real LIFE… here’s a little glimpse. I’ll be back soon with more [exciting] pictures and stories :)

Until then!
hubs and I this past weekend :)
***still working on taking at least one photo a month of us together for my 30 before 30***
getting to meet one of my favorite knitting authors at Vogue Knitting Live! #nerdproblems
taking sweet london for one last romp in our favorite park in the old neighborhood 
have you ever moved? it's TERRIBLE. stuff...everywhere.
one of the first 'real meals' made in the casita... a quiche. so simple and delish.
why don't we make these more often?
mother's day flower's from my sweet girl :)
the perfect margarita: mastered. 
our first CSA box... super fresh and delicious!
thankful for a hubs who likes to cook!
simple dinner, but oh so good -- chicken apple sausage and peppered eggs :) mmmm!
chocolate chip cookie recipe: mastered
please note... I've been making homemade chocolate chip cookies for years
(no tollhouse for this girl, thank you)... but I switched up a couple of ingredients
this last time and wow! made a world of difference.
will post recipe another time :)
I mean... 
last night's food truck :)
that container? crawfish etouffee... that greasy bag? beignets

Saturday, April 11, 2015

drive-by update.

So, some things been goin' on around here... 

  1. We're married! 
  2. We're moving! 
  3. Ahhh!
We're married - and it was truly the best day of our lives! Can't wait to share more of the details with you all later! I have LOTS of posts coming up, from the DIYs we accomplished beforehand, to the pictures (I'm not-so-patiently waiting for them, myself!) to married life in the last two weeks. Ahh, it's been wonderful!

We're moving - and no, not back to Texas! Just down the street. ;) Our Landlord has decided to sell our condo, which is a curse and a blessing in and of it's own. It stinks in the way that we've really liked where we live, but a blessing in that our new place (albeit a little smaller) is brand spankin' new, and aesthetically, a little more our style. Hopefully, I can pull together some before and after shots of the new place for the ol' blog. 

Other than that, it's business as usual! We both jumped right back into busy work schedules, and between packing, being newlyweds, and constantly forgetting to go to the grocery store and giving ourselves fantastic "date night" excuses, life is grand. Really and truly. We are so happy. 

Speaking of which--I must put on some lipstick and get ready to join the hubs for dinner. Ciao, and we'll talk again soon, K? 


Friday, March 13, 2015

treat yo'self.

As we're nearing the wedding date [14 days from today, ahhhh!], I am finalizing all of the little details for the wedding--everything from making sure the Groom has wedding day appropriate dress socks, to ensuring that the envelopes for the vendors are the right size to hold a monetary tip [because yes... I am totally the person that stresses over the size of the tip envelope!].

Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I realized that it might be time to treat myself to a new clutch purse to use on the big day, and well... just for the heck of it. With the exception of the [very plain, but very efficient] black satin clutch I purchased on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, to take to a wedding this past weekend, I have been using the same "evening bag" since... wait for it... you really won't believe it... eighth grade.

WHAT!??! Yep, I said it.
8th Grade, people. 
The year of Teen Spirit, "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It", and the only time in your life your popularity hung in the grips of whether or not you owned a pair of Doc Martens.
True. Story. 
[My hometown peeps will get that last reference].


Yes, it's true. I have been using the same, silver, beaded seashell bag since it's inception at the eighth grade dance. From that day forward, I used it for all three proms I attended, the homecoming court celebrations my senior year, to countless weddings in college.

The thing is a little beat-up to put it nicely... and wasn't 'all that and a bag of chips' to begin with.

Sorry... still reliving the year 2000 over here.

I could not / would not / should not use the well-loved Little Mermaid trinket bag for my wedding. I was out shopping this afternoon when I stumbled upon this pretty, Tiffany blue clutch... WITH A BOW. Has anything ever called my name so much in my life? I think not!

One thing crossed my mind: treat yo'self. It's OK to splurge a little on yourself... even in the midst of wedding planning. I snagged this cutie little credit card holder, too.

Can't wait to use these pretties on the big day!

Speaking of... I'm signing off until then. Will see you all again... when the monogram changes! ;)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

[essential oils] and me.

I've had a lot of questions lately from curious folks who are interested in knowing more about essential oils. I referenced them in this post, but was pretty vague and didn't go into a lot of detail. Sooo... I'm writing an utterly long post today about essential oils [EO's for short] and how I use them! If you're interested, stick with me. It's a long post, but there's a lot to say about what oils can do for you!

a peek inside my oil bag! my 'oil arsenal' as we've lovingly coined it.

How I got Started Using EO's

Like most of you, my first encounter with EO's was via social media. At the time, there were not just a whole lot of people talking about them, but the ones that were REALLY sang the praises. I specifically remember looking at Instagram photos of women claiming them to be "amazing!" and I just couldn't buy it. I didn't know what it was, or really even care at that point, so it was pretty easy to just breeze past.

What really peaked my curiosity though, was that simultaneously--and while in completely different states, mind you!--my boss and my mother were planning to attend an essential oils class. Let me be the first one to go on record and state that I completely expected this from my boss, a "crunchy granola person"... but I was honestly a little surprised that my Mom was going to an essential oils class. I anxiously awaited feedback from both parties.

As it turned out... they both came back full of information and shared success stories, and after attending a class on my own, I was hooked and knew I had to check it out.

So... What are EO's and How Do You Use Them?

Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. If you have ever enjoyed the gift of a rose, a walk by a field of lavender, or the smell of fresh cut mint, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination. [via] 
Essential oils are used for a very wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends depending on user experience and desired benefit. Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements. [via] 
Basically, how I respond to the "how do you use them?" question is to simply say--for whatever medicine you need to take, whatever cleaner you need to use, or whatever candle you wish to burn... there's an essential oil for that instead. Whether it's rubbing Peppermint oil into your temples to help ease a headache... washing your fruits and veggies with Grapefruit oil... placing a drop of On-Guard oil on the bottoms of your feet at night to help ward off sickness... to cleaning your countertops with Wild Orange oil to naturally [and safely] clean and disinfect... to sprucing your metabolism and aid in digestion with a drop of Lemon oil in your water.. to placing a drop of DigestZen into your bellybutton to help with indigestion and upset tummy... to diffusing Lavender in your bedroom to help with calming and restful sleep.

There are a few different companies that sell EO's, but my personal favorite and the one that I purchase from is doTERRA. All of doTERRA's oils are Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade [CPTG], pure, and safe to use as they're free of pesticides and chemical residues.

There are three ways to use essential oils:

[A] Aromatically | Inhaling, or by the use of a diffuser.

[I] Internally | Mixing with water, placing a drop of oil under your tongue, or using in a capsule.

[T] Topically | Placing on a specific body region, or using a carrier oil to massage into skin.

our favorite little petal diffuser brewing away! this one is the BEST!
night light option turns on and off, and brews for 1, 2, or 4 hour increments.
Essential oils can be used on any age, and even on pets! Always read the label to find out how to safely use the oils... some oils are for aromatic use only, while others can be used for all three methods. Some oils are considered "hot" and when applied on the skin, can cause a burning sensation. When trying a new oil topically, dilute it or use a carrier oil [my favorite is fractionated coconut oil] or olive oil works, too! My favorite way to topically apply oils is on the bottoms of my feet. I learned that the pores on the bottom of your feet are the biggest, which means that the oils can be absorbed best through the bottoms of your feet.

There are two types of oils you can buy: oil singles and oil blends. Oil singles are just that--the oils extracted from one specific plant [ie, lime, peppermint, lemon, grapefruit, etc.]. Blends are created by mixing any number of single oils to create one, super oil [ie, one of my favorite blends "Breathe" is a proprietary blend of laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, melaleuca, lemon, and ravensara]. You can also use single oils to create your own custom blends [for uplifting, energizing, and generally "happy" smells I like to diffuse Grapefruit + Lime + Wild Orange. I make my own "blend" by adding 3-4 drops of each to my diffuser].

How Have EO's Helped You?

While there are definitely some people out there who could write a book on the lengths that EO's have taken them with their health, we are definitely a little more on this side of "normal". We have, however, taken immense strides to rid our house of unnecessary chemicals and live cleaner. Here are a few of my favorite EO uses.

  • Lavender: This one is by far our favorite! I swear, lavender does it all. I've used it to help with everything from allergies to healing cuts [as a replacement for Neosporin]. Lavender is our favorite to diffuse at night--it brings a sense of calm and helps with restful sleep. For a really good night's sleep [for instance, if I know we have to catch a flight at 6 AM the next morning], I will apply to the bottoms of our feet. Both of our pets LOVE when we diffuse lavender. They like the smell, and a veterinarian told me years ago that lavender is particularly calming for dogs and cats. 
  • Peppermint: A favorite for allergies and energy boost. I also use it to flavor my coconut oil for oil pulling every morning to aid with sinus relief. [I'll save oil pulling for another post!]
  • Lemon: A lovely digestion aid and metabolism boost! I like to add a drop or two to my water. 
  • On-Guard: I always diffuse this one whenever anyone at work has been coughing or sneezing. When I am starting to notice the slightest symptoms of feeling under the weather, I apply to the bottoms of my feet or place a drop under my tongue. This one is a must on my list!
  • DigestZen: You can get rid of your TUMS collection. If Pepto-Bismol covers it, so does DigestZen! We place 1-2 drops in our bellybuttons to help with heartburn and indigestion. This one can also be taken internally with 4 oz. of water. 
  • Deep Blue [Oil and Rub]: This one is a must for Spencer! He has chronic neck and back pain and is constantly messing up one or the other. Deep Blue comes in an oil as well as a rub [like Bengay]. Both work about the same... for the oil, massage into skin with a carrier oil. The rub works the exact same way, except that it's pre-mixed and like a lotion, so it's just one less step. When I started my workout routine, I was lifting a lot of weights. Deep Blue was a life saver!
  • Melaluca: The Mother of all skin oils! I use this one whenever I have a blemish.
  • Frankincense: I don't think there's anything frankincense can't do! The running EO joke is "when all else fails, use frankincense". Seriously... it's so true. Everything from cuts and rashes to mouth ulcers, I use frankincense. It's incredibly effective, but their most expensive oil. I don't ever diffuse this one just because of the cost! One drop daily under your tongue is incredible for health benefits. PS--I was born with an ear tag (skin tag) on my left ear. I have seen pictures, heard success stories, and been told that applying frankincense daily will drastically minimize to remove this ear tag I've lived with my whole life. I'm almost 30, and my ear tag is truly what I consider to be a part of my identity, so it doesn't bother me to have it. Should I ever reach a vanity point in my life where I want to remove it, I will definitely reach for frankincense first, before considering having it frozen off or removed in any way. 
  • Grapefruit: I LOVE grapefruit! It's one of my top 5 favorites... hands down! It is such a happy and uplifting scent, so I like to diffuse it during the day. I also love washing my fruits and veggies with a drop of grapefruit oil and water. Works better than any spray wash I have purchased and smells so nice. 
  • Wild Orange: Another must have for me! Seriously, my stainless steel appliances have never been so clean.
I am also a BIG FAN of the entire On-Guard line of cleaning and hygiene products. The On-Guard toothpaste and concentrated cleaner are two of my favorite things ever. The cleaner might be my #1. I use a couple of tablespoons with water and spray from a glass bottle on to my countertops [*note! Always use GLASS with essential oils... whether in a glass bottle or whether you're drinking flavored water. EO's are so potent, they will go through paper or plastic]. I love the cleaner because it's safe, natural, and chemical-free. I could *literally* lick the countertop after spraying and not have to worry for a second about ingesting anything I shouldn't. 

Why doTERRA?

The simple answer is that I started with doTERRA and that's what I know, but the complex answer is that I did my research and can appreciate what the company stands for. Firstly, they're 100% safe and I know this, because all of their oils are CPTG--free of fillers and artificial contaminants. I literally would not have to worry about accidentally drinking an entire bottle. Secondly, all of their oils are extracted naturally [meaning, they don't plant anything not native to the region simply for the benefit of extracting oils]. This ensures that you are getting the purest oil you can find from the purest and most fertile places in the world to source the product. Lastly, they give back to the land and the plants from where they farm--building schools and water systems. An added benefit I recently learned about is that they use two third-party companies to verify the purity of their oils, to maintain an ethical and responsible practice. doTERRA has not, in any way, compensated me for my opinions--these are all my own, and based on my own experiences and information gathered on their products. 

Where can I buy doTERRA products and what should I start with?

Here is a link to all of doTERRA's product offerings. My recommendation for beginners wanting to get into / learn more about oils is to start with the Introductory Kit. It contains three 5 ML bottles of my favorites--lavender, lemon, and peppermint and an audio CD which goes into further explanation about essential oils. If you have seasonal allergies, these three will be your best friend--I promise! I started with this kit before graduating to the Home Essentials Kit [see below]. 

Another way to get the most bang for your buck is to purchase an Enrollment Kit. My personal favorite is the Home Essentials Kit. This one comes with ten (10) oils--every single one is awesome!--AND a petal diffuser. The petal diffuser is hands down my favorite diffuser on the market, and I've used a LOT. It's the most cost-effective one doTERRA sells [bonus!] and I really feel like it works the best. There are several essential oil diffusers on the market--you can purchase through a variety of websites--doTERRA or not, this one is hands-down my favorite. I recently purchased another [expensive!] diffuser from doTERRA, and while I really like it... I kind of wish I'd just gotten another petal diffuser. I love it that much!

the 'home essentials kit' includes everything you see here!
all of these oils are amazing!
One last word about the oils... can I be honest? By now, you've probably looked at the prices. They're not cheap. It might be difficult to shell out a couple of hundred bucks for a couple of handfuls of oils. I get it! But I will say please--please!--do not pay the retail prices on the website. If you are ordering at least a $35.00 order, talk to me about getting a wholesale account, or if you purchase an enrollment kit [like the Home Essentials Kit I discussed] you will automatically be signed up for a wholesale membership for life. I love saving a dollar and I love a deal even more, and I would never-ever pay retail prices for good quality essential oils! Lastly, I don't sell these oils. There is certainly a business aspect to it, and you can make really good money doing it, but I just like using them. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

i'm keeping this chalkboard...

Don't you hate when you DIY something for your wedding, then realize you have the perfect spot in your house to display it... and decide against using it in the wedding, after all?

Oops. :)

I had big plans for this little state of Texas. Back in October, while I was visiting Texas to get some wedding planning done, my Mom and I happened upon this wood cutout at Wal-Mart one evening. It was a steal at about $4.00 [including tax] so we thought "surely, we can use this somewhere!".

That was the plan, anyway. I was going to make it into a chalkboard, and do a little diagram of our love story. It was going to be adorable... she was born in south central Texas, he was born in the panhandle of Texas. They met in west Texas, and lived together in the hill country before whisking off to California, only to return to the hill country to get married. Totally romantic, right?! It was going to make an awesome story board... but by the time the chalk hit the board [literally] the destination lines looked more like a pile of tangled headphones.

Strike one. 

Then, I thought it would be cute to display at the bar--to use as our 'bar menu'! The only problem is... it can only hold about three drink titles, minimum. And, well... we've got a few more than that! :-)

Strike two. 

By that point, I just started doodling. I'd been designing cocktail napkins all afternoon, and I was feeling artistic. And being that I was in the 'wedding spirit', I decided to draft up an 'established on' family sign. Let me go on record by saying I am a HORRIBLE chalkboard artist. I give major credit to those individuals who can pull off this art form... I am not ashamed to say that I cannot. My spacing is always off, and I tend to drag my hand through the fresh chalk which smears it across the board. In an effort to make it better, I sweep and blow and dust... and then it becomes a real comedy of errors. But, I was mildly pleased with the way this particular one came out, so... I thought I'd let it marinate for a while.

While waiting for my cup of coffee to finish brewing, I glanced up at a glaring blank spot on our kitchen wall. It appeared to be the perfect size for a Texas-shaped chalkboard. :-) I hurried back to the craft room to grab it, and lo and behold... it was a perfect fit! There was no hanger on the back of it, but my trusty friend the 3M Command Strip came to the rescue. I thought I'd leave it up until Spencer got home, just to get a reading on him, but then it started to grow on me... and him, too.

Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of a cute story from my Mother-in-Law. I never had the opportunity to meet her parents, but from the way she talks about them, they lived like newlyweds until their last day. Absolutely precious. They apparently had this chalkboard in their kitchen (or was it dining room?... ) where Spencer's grandfather would leave his grandmother little love notes. Sadly, his Grandfather passed away before his time, but not without leaving one last note for his bride. He'd scribbled on the chalkboard some days before his passing, a note that simply read "I LOVE YOU". I'm told that she never erased it.

I love that little story so much. And I love our little chalkboard. It's an every day reminder of our "home" and a sweet little addition to our kitchen.

Needless to say... this one won't make it back to Texas with us for the wedding. :-) Oops.

Friday, February 13, 2015

shakeology & the 21 day fix.

It's me again!

Taking a breather from wrapping up the last few wedding details to chat for a minute about Shakeology and the 21 Day Fix! As you might have noticed on my last thirty before 30 post, I had lost 5 lbs. I'm happy to report that number has jumped to 10 lbs. lost! Obviously, I kind of had an idea that "loose 10 lbs." and "get married" would go hand-in-hand, but I'm really [really!] pleased with the results--so I thought I'd share with you what I've been doing.

Back in October, I was approached by a Beachbody coach about joining her challenge group for The 21 Day Fix. I was kind of, for lack of a better term, already half-assing my beloved Weight Watchers at the time so I wasn't really interested. By the time January rolled around, and I'd had more than my fair share of Christmas cookies and cocktails, and hadn't exercised in oh... five years(!?) it was time to make a change. Accelerated by the fact that I was getting married in two months, I knew I wanted something different. The timing was fortuitous, seeing as how a new challenge group was starting up on January 5th. Perfect! I purchased the complete challenge pack online and was ready to get started.

I thought the first workout was going to kill me. There are 7 workouts [one for each day of the week] and they're set up so that you do one, 30-minute DVD workout per day. The workout schedule is set up as follows.

Monday TuesdayWednesday ThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
 Total Body Cardio Fix Upper Fix Lower Fix  Pilates Fix  Cardio Fix Dirty 30 Yoga Fix
Can I just say that I still loathe Cardio Fix and Pilates Fix? Seriously... I kind of hate them both. I started the first day with the modifier, and as the first week progressed, was using it less and less. Now, I can pretty much keep up the speed throughout the whole workout!

You follow this schedule for two weeks, then on the third week you double up and do two workouts a day. All the while there is the eating component, too. The fix menu was easy for me to follow, because for all intents and purposes, is very much like Weight Watchers. It's all about portion control!  Based on your weight and caloric intake, you are given a number of color-coded containers per day. If your food fits in the container, you can eat it. There are containers for: vegetables, fruits, proteins, starches, dairy and nuts, seeds and dressings, and oils. The amazing thing is that you never go hungry. The main difference in this program and ones I've done in the past is that it's 90% clean eating. Putting good, wholesome foods in your body keeps you fuller for longer. 

I goofed up and forgot to take measurements of my progress to track inches lost. I did, however, take before and after pictures. The difference was astonishing! I was so overjoyed and happy about those 5 lbs, and knew I must have lost inches just by looking at the pictures. It was amazing! Since then, I started up a second round of the fix. This one was a little more challenging though, as we were in my hometown for two couple's showers, and most recently I smashed my toe pretty good [long story] which has hindered me from working out this past week! Nonetheless... even without working out for over a week, I still lost another 5 lbs! Amazing. 

My challenge kit also came with a one-month supply of Shakeology [a dense, superfood nutrition shake]. It was considerably more expensive to purchase the Shakeology with the challenge kit, but am I glad I did! I owe so much of my success to Shakeology! I drink a shake for breakfast every morning, and it is sooooo good. Seriously. It's kind of unbelievable! My sugar cravings have been drastically reduced--and it keeps me full ALL MORNING. I have so much more energy that I have cut back my 3-5 cups of coffee every morning to one [just because I'm not quite ready to give it up yet!]. I adore Shakeology, and even Spencer is on board. We both have a shake every morning to start our day off right--just a scoop of Shakeo + almond milk + ice blended until smooth, and breakfast is served! Can't beat that. 
I had some curious co-workers who were interested in learning more about it.
I was all too happy to oblige! Shakeo in my cup, and all. ;)
I am going to continue with the 21 Day Fix eating plan until at least the wedding. It's worked for me so far, and I really like it... so why fix what's not broken? I have really missed my workouts this last week... and hope that by Monday I'll be ready to "push play" yet again! Fingers [and toes!] crossed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

[thirty] before 30...UPDATE!

Happy Monday, Friends!
I can't believe we are encroaching upon the end of January. I mean really... do you kind of want to start 2015 over again? I know I wasn't ready yet!
I'm taking a little break from wedding planning to share with you my pathetic progress on my [thirty] before 30. I mean it--I'm totally failing miserably! My hope is that after the wedding, I'm able to resume some sort of normal again! Right now and for the next 60 days (eep!) every ounce of free time is dedicated to the big day. Stick with me! I promise I won't be an absentee blogger forever! 

[thirty] before 30...UPDATE!

  1. Get married!
  2. Read five (5) fiction books. 
  3. Read five (5) non-fiction books. *I'm still working on the FIRST non-fiction book I started back in October... but I *have* updated my Goodreads. That totally counts... right? 
  4. Make our Christmas stockings. *Christmas has come and gone... and I'm in the same place I was on the first stocking when I started this post. Sigh. 
  5. Take a "real" day off. 
  6. Run a 5K.
  7. Host a party.
  8. Finish knitting the second sock.
  9. Travel to Julian, CA in the fall. 
  10. Create a signature cocktail.
  11. Take myself on a date.
  12. Start a wine journal. *Wine journal has been gifted! Pen hasn't touched the paper yet... wine = extra calories, extra calories are not a friend of wedding dresses. See #1. 
  13. Have a beach day.
  14. Lose 10 pounds. *Ah, another partial credit. 5 lbs. lost... woo!
  15. Try my hand at canning.
  16. Learn how to use my DSLR camera.
  17. Unplug for a whole day.
  18. Try a new exercise. *FINALLY! One I can mark off the list! I have been doing The 21 Day Fix and as a result, been lifting a lot of weights. I LOVE IT! I even see a teeny, tiny, minuscule bit of muscle definition in my legs. Who knew!? Let it be known that I still groan on pilates day, though... 
  19. Make a new friend. *I feel like I can strike this one off the list. I've met a few fellow designers that I enjoy seeing out and about socially, and have been re-acquainted with old high school acquaintances. 
  20. Sew a piece of clothing.
  21. Build up my savings account. 
  22. Try five (5) new meal recipes from Pinterest.
  23. Try five (5) new dessert recipes from Pinterest.
  24. Play a round of golf with Spencer.
  25. Develop a healthy skincare routine. *Definitely working on this one... 
  26. See a live music performance.
  27. Take the dog out for a 'Doggie Day' once a month. *My poor London dog. I'll have to double up after the wedding! 
  28. Cook at least one meal a week. *Meh... 
  29. Make a piece of art for our house.
  30. Take at least one (1) photo a month with Spencer. *I am saddest of all that this one is failing me. It's really a challenge for two people to try and hop in a picture together. I know we've got a couple from last year... will have to squeeeeze one in for January before the month ends. The 'selfie stick' we got for Christmas should help. If we ever take it out of the box... 
Hope you all are having a WONDERFUL new year! XOXO!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

happy new year!

2 0 1 5

I can't believe it's here... can you? I remember when 2000 was a big deal. Like, a REALLY big deal. And now we're staring down the barrel of 2015. Unbelievable.

I hope that you all had an absolutely wonderful holiday and a joyous new year! I hope that you spent time with friends and family, had at least a couple days of rest and relaxation, and enjoyed every single bit of the season.

2014 was, without a doubt, one of the best years of my life. Typing that seems a little odd, but it's absolutely and wonderfully true. The year began on the heels of an engagement and I've spent the last twelve months preparing and planning for our wedding--which takes place in just under three {short} months! I got to take an all-expenses paid trip to Seattle for a weekend of professional development with other local designers--who I've befriended and get to see socially from time to time. Good things happened to me professionally, and I finally reached a place of content with my current job situation. Good things happened for Spencer too, as we celebrated a new job for him this year as well. I started selling {using, and loving!} Younique products, and got a promotion to the next tier in just under three months.

I've tried other new things, too. I've attended several professional development events--learned a lot and have met a lot of great people. In October, I started introducing essential oils into my every day life, and I could not be happier with the results! From a culinary standpoint, it was a year of new foods as well--rainbow carrots, beets {YUM}, coconut oil coffee, and black bean brownies (don't knock it 'til you try it!). I even kicked my long-running Diet Coke addiction in that, I can have one or two from time to time, and not have or crave another for several months {that's huge!}.  I chose family over work, and my late nights at the office were reduced and my happiness increased. My fashion sense has grown {yep, I even own plaid pants now} and I don't feel embarrassed to try new looks the way I once did.

No, no. I don't mean to imply that it was all rosy around here. A lot of not so good things happened, too. But this year, more than any other, the good things shone through the bad. It was a great ride and I know that 2015 will have big shoes to fill!

As I've mentioned 100x before, Christmas is my favorite season. Though I didn't get to do all of my favorites this year (binge-watching Christmas movies, drinking hot chocolate, looking at Christmas lights, etc.), I did do some of my favorite things and those that I did, I enjoyed immensely.

This year, I got to split time in both mine and Spencer's hometowns {wedding planning demanded it, but I was happy to oblige}. We started the first leg of our journey with his family for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A couple of days later, we had a couple's shower hosted by a few of his Mom's friends--our first shower and a great one at that! My parents drove in for the festivities, and I said goodbye to Spencer {who headed back to San Diego} and I spent the next 5 days going strong at home base (AKA wedding central).

december 27th: cutting our cake... we are sometimes incapable of taking a serious picture together. 
december 27th: all of the family at our shower.
december 25th: christmas day!
I got back late last night, and am trying to get back in the groove of every day life. It's always such a let-down after the holidays. Between mounds of laundry and other things demanding my attention, I am trying to soak up the last couple of days of vacation before the 'real world' hits once more.

This year is starting off strong already, and I hope that I can keep up! In addition to the obvious "crunch time" in our wedding schedule, I'm starting a new fitness and healthy eating regimen where I'll be trying to "eat clean" {less processed foods, more fresh foods}. This isn't a charge to loose weight as part of a New Years Resolution {though I'd take any help I can get!}, but rather a healthy jump start to the next DECADE of life {hello, THIRTIES--you're right around the corner!}.

Cheers to a new year! Wishing you all the best one yet!