Thursday, May 28, 2015

Here's What I've Learned, at 32.


I don't turn 33 until tomorrow, but I wanted to share this today. Really, this was maybe my most favorite year yet (which I'm aware I say every year). I feel like 32 has been full of so much personal growth and change that I get a little emotional just thinking about it. And okay yes, I know I say that every year too. But I think that's actually a really great thing, right? How does that saying go? If you're not moving forward, you're going backward? Or something.

So here's what I've learned, at 32:

In order to succeed, you need your team. It takes a long time to build one, believe me. In the past couple of years I had to move on from some people that didn't add love and light to my life, and if you find yourself in the same boat, that's okay- it's all part of the process. Wish them well, and move on. You want people who are going to cheer so loudly when you succeed- and also be there when you don't. These people should be past the Instagram highlight reel. These are the friends who know the deep, dark depths of you, the ones you never have to second guess yourself around, the people who know all the shitty parts of your weird self and love you all the same. Find these people. Or that person. Keep them close. Cultivate those relationships. And it's okay to have all the other types of friends too- internet friends, party friends, weekend friends, workout buddies. But one of the biggest things I've learned is that not everyone will be on your team, and trying to fit every person in your life into such a special, sacred place does not work. Stop doing it. Save your best energy for the people closest to you.

Also, none of this shit matters. Seriously, it doesn't. The only thing that matters is that you wake up in the morning and you feel like you're doing a good job at being a good human being. That you're being the best wife you can be, the best Mom, the best sister, daughter, friend, whatever, and doing every single thing in your life with kindness and love. That's it. Anything else- what someone thinks about you, all of the little things you worry about, random stuff that pops into your mind and doesn't go away- it doesn't matter. You want love? Be love. You want light? Be light. Be what you want to see, and you will see more of exactly that.

And it's okay to change. It's been a theme here over the past year, and for good reason. I went from a stay-at-home Mom who only wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom, to a work-from-home Mom who now can't imagine anything different. My interests shifted as I found myself developing a deep passion for the outdoors. I learned so many new things about myself- and I think that was my most favorite part of the entire past year and the adventures I went on- finding new, exciting parts of me I never knew were there. That is the most amazing thing about being human and experiencing new things- it's like we turn this corner inside ourselves and walk into this brand new place in a very old house- it's scary and awesome and reminds us that we are alive, and that there is a possibility of so much more.

The biggest thing that I gained during my 32nd year though, was a much deeper self-acceptance. It feels good to be ME, in all of my silly, nerdy, happy, too-sappy, sometimes flippant, adventurous, emotional, mercurial glory. And to feel so excited about other people being THEM. All the yous being yous and the mes being mes. It feels so goddamn good to look around and see the world in this way, you guys. I have to really dial it back sometimes because I could write pages about it- about knowing that I am enough. This has seeped into every part of my life as a great joy- I. Am. Enough.

And so 32, you were fantastic. I look back with my rose-colored glasses and even though I see the bad, hard, sometimes frustrating stuff, I am fully aware its all part of it. Throw it all in a bottle and shake, shake, shake, and the goodness will rise to the top. And that's what I'm focusing on. I don't mind getting older. I love birthdays. Looking around the table as I blow out my candles- Hank, Henry, Charlie- they are what matter, and I am forever grateful that they are mine. The possibilities of the future are endless, and it's really exciting to think about what's on the horizon. So thank you sweet readers, for being on this ride with me- I truly, truly appreciate you. Here's to 33!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cooking at Home with Blue Apron (Again!)



This month we had a chance to try out Blue Apron again, and I'm so glad- we had a wonderful first experience and I was curious to see if it would be as great the second time around too. And good news...it was even better! One of the things I like most about using Blue Apron is that it shakes things up a bit. It's so easy to get stuck in a rut of the same dishes over and over...but with Blue Apron you're guaranteed something different all the time!

This go-round we received two very different meals in that convenient refrigerated box sent straight to our doorstep. The first were Turkey Meatball Sliders with a Red-Leaf Cucumber Salad. It was really good and a LOT of food. It fed all four of us easily with a some left over too. The second meal, the one pictured here, is a Hoisin and Ponzu-Glazed Steak with Roasted Carrots and Garlic-Ginger Rice. Friends, I kid you not when I say that it was one of the very BEST things I've ever cooked. All four of us enjoyed every bit of this meal, and because Henry and Charlie shared one of the steaks there was one left for Hank to take to work, along with some rice.

One of the things I like best about Blue Apron is that you won't have leftover waste. So often I'll want to cook a big meal for the family, but end up having a ton of extra ingredients that I might not use up on their own before they go bad. I appreciate that with this service, you get what exactly what you'll need. And another thing I love? How easy the recipes are. Granted, I do love to cook but with two little ones it can be a little harder. Blue Apron sends everything, ready to go, and all of their recipes take 40 minutes or under to prepare. And with Hank and I both cooking together, it goes even faster (and it's so much fun, too!).

If you've seen Blue Apron on blogs and wondering if you should finally try it...YES, you definitely should. I can't recommend the service enough, and now they're delivering to almost all of the country, with Texas being their next addition.

And great news, if you'd like to sign up here (click the "redeem offer" button at the top), the first 50 readers who do so will get two free meals on their order. This is a great deal- and also be sure to check out the different pricing options while you're at it. They have a great Family plan that can feed larger groups, and when you check out their huge database of recipes I bet you'll be sold. I can't wait to try their Shrimp and Pineapple soft tacos and the Asparagus and Leek Quiche next.

Please let me know if you decide to sign up, I'm really excited about it I sincerely hope you do try it for yourself! Keep me posted, and enjoy.

xoxo



*this post is in partnership with Blue Apron. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 22, 2015

What's In My Makeup Bag


 
Today I thought it would be fun to share what's currently in my makeup bag. I'm not a big makeup person at ALL, so what I put on my face is super minimal and takes about five minutes. It's a mix of drugstore and department store buys, but the biggest thing about each of these things is that none of them make me breakout. As I was going through a rough patch with my skin, I tried different, more natural beauty products but I always came back to my tried and true items that work well for me. They're not formulated for problem skin, but I've using many of these items since college and they do a great job.

First of all, how great is this Birdling Essentials bag? They sent it over earlier this week and I'm in love. It's a gorgeous olive (and waterproof too!) with fantastic leather details and a cute pop of baby blue nylon on the bottom. It's the perfect size for traveling!




First up are my face products. I really like this foundation. I use a very tiny amount mixed into my face lotion and it stays on all day long. I also really like this Bare Minerals concealer for blemishes. When I was dealing with acne it was wonderful- and using it didn't make me break out more, which was key. Next is my undereye concealer. Another drugstore buy that feels more luxurious than what you pay for. It goes on easily, feels totally moisturizing, and does not sink into fine lines. A couple other products: Bare Minerals Stroke of Light and Benefit's Fake Up. These are both highlighters I use regularly. I only recently got the Fake Up via Autumn's recommendation and LOVE it. It gives the most amazing glow and I can't recommend it enough. And as far as blush, I use Bare Minerals Aphrodisiac everyday. It's a fantastic pink/peach that gives a nice pop of color while still looking totally natural.


 
Next are my eye products. I keep this very simple. I don't even wear eyeliner or eyeshadow unless I'm going somewhere special, so most days I just fill in my brows with this Anastasia brow pencil (in Taupe) and use my Trish McEvoy curler and beloved LashBlast mascara (in Very Black). Simple. And when I do use liner, this is the best I've found- it's a cheap find that stays put and doesn't bleed onto my lid after a night out. One note about mascara- I've tried EVERY kind under the sun, from the most expensive brand to this, and Cover Girl's orange tube is hands down the best. I love it.


Annnd, lips! I use Aquaphor before I go to sleep and when I wake up (it gives you the softest lips EVER!) and in between I use my Coconut Milk Eos. That's all I use day in and day out, but if I'm doing something fun, I'll throw on one of these colors- Cover Girl's Coral Crush, Laura Mercier's Poppy, or Bare Mineral's Marvelous Moxie in Perky Peony. I also have a few MAC colors I really love, but I don't wear of these too often because I really prefer just straight chapstick-type stuff on my lips. Boring, I know! ;)


So that's my makeup routine. Simple and easy. I hope you enjoyed, and let me know if we share any of the same favorites! xo

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Explore Arizona: Antelope Canyon


A couple months ago Alana called me and said "Hey. Would you be able to take off for a few days and do Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Zion?" I asked her when she was thinking, and she said "Umm, next week." Thanks to my sister, I was able to excitedly say "HELL YES!" and a few days later, we were off.

Hank's family has a houseboat docked on the Arizona side of Lake Powell so we've been close to Antelope Canyon many, many times but never made the time to explore it. And wow- were we missing out!

We decided to visit both Upper and Lower Antelope, and both were very different experiences which I'll detail below. If you decide to make the trip, I recommend taking the time to do both tours.

We went into Upper Antelope first, and used Adventurous Antelope Photo Tours, and did their 12:30pm Prime Time tour. After doing some research we learned that mid-day was the best for capturing the light in the canyon, so we went with Tour #10. We arrived 30-minutes prior to our tour and ate a quick lunch from our backpacks before boarding one of the SUVs with our guide, Dale. There were 9 people total in our group, and then there were also three other SUVs full of hikers following us from the same company.

The whole tour is noted as taking one hour, but with the fifteen-minute drive to the entrance and back, and lingering inside and out, I would estimate the entire excursion took about two hours. It was a GREAT tour. Dale was an exceptional guide, helping us with camera settings, locations, photo ideas, and was full of geological and historical knowledge. It was a phenomenal experience. The only downside was the crowds- it was a weekday so it wasn't horribly crowded, but it was still pretty packed and if you saw an empty spot and wanted to take a photo, you better do it quickly before the next group came through. All in all though I would highly recommend not only this tour company, but also our tour guide Dale.

Next we drove over to Lower Antelope Canyon Tours (I couldn't find a website but it's to the left of Ken's Tours), and waited for our second tour to begin. We were joined by three other people, and we walked back behind the tour shacks to see a very nondescript slot in the ground. It's amazing to think what was inside of that slot- you wouldn't ever know by looking at it that such an insanely beautiful world is down below.

To enter the canyon, you head down a couple of very steep flights of stairs to descend to the canyon floor. Once below we realized we were basically the only ones inside which was such a sharp contrast to our experience in the Upper Canyon. It was amazing to walk through slowly, with no one around, and listen to the sounds of the wind, our breath, and our feet crunching on the rocks. About halfway through our guide started playing a wooden flute and the entire canyon filled up with the most beautiful music. It was truly a "made-it" moment for this trip, and something I think back to often.

It was an amazing time, and I can't recommend visiting Antelope Canyon enough. Be sure to book both Upper and Lower too- they're both incredibly different, and worth the trip. I'll be back next with with details from Horseshoe Bend, and then the following week with my post about the Zion portion of our trip. Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions- I'm happy to answer below.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I'd Like to Imagine...

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Sometimes I think about you, on the other side of that screen. I'm sitting here right now on this side- specifically in my bed, where I do half of my blogging (the other half at my desk when I'm feeling official)- and I'm typing this. My hair is up in a messy bun of too-clean hair, which I actually hate 10x more than too-dirty hair. If you're curious, I got my hair colored yesterday and unlike most women I've spoken to about it, I may be the lone lady who really doesn't like that fresh from the salon feel. Way too soft, way too clean. But anyway. Top knot, workout clothing, listening to my sister entertain three children in the playroom. You might be curious after reading that, why is your sister watching your children while you sit in bed? Well, we switch off watching the little ones during the week. I watch Lucy for a few hours in the morning, and she watches in the afternoon. I work from home so most of the time while she's watching the boys I'll be working on actual work stuff, but sometimes I'll take a break and write a post here. Not too often though, as I'm sure you've noticed, but whenever I get an idea or an urge to share in this space, I do.

So that's my side of the screen. Or part of it. On this side I have so many thoughts going through my mind. I went out with friends on Saturday night so today I'm feeling that third day after-drinking sadness. It's making me say things like "I will never drink again!" Or to my sister, "Why didn't I stick with just wine?" I'm also thinking about this video I came across, of our last East Coast trip. My sister is divorced now and there are parts of the film that include her and her ex-husband. It makes me think about marriage and how no one goes into it thinking they will get divorced. But people do get divorced. There are just no guarantees in life in anything you do, and that's equal parts exciting and scary, depending on the situation at hand. I could get lost in thinking about it so instead I'll just stop- I'm just so glad my sister is happy and doing okay. I also can't help but wonder about this next year. Hank and I decided to hold off on having another baby and do some of the traveling we've been dreaming about with "if not now, when?" echoing in our heads. But then the other night I spent too much time looking back at old photos and videos of Charlie as a tiny baby and that familiar ache returned in my chest. Another baby. Yes. And so I had a panicky moment thinking about the trips that are already booked and in place and unchangeable, and how we absolutely could not have another baby now, even if I wanted to (which I absolutely did in that very moment). I went to bed with incredibly dramatic tears in my eyes and woke up feeling silly and a-okay that we were waiting. What was the rush anyway? So we'll wait a year.

I'd like to imagine that you're there, on your side of the screen, and you're smiling. You're reading this and thinking how funny it is to read this weird lady's random thoughts and about her day and her family. I'd like to imagine you have a lot going on in your life too, over there, and you're taking just a moment to read these words I type here, from my bed. I hope you know how much I appreciate you. Some of you have stuck around for almost eight years here in this space. Whoa, right? So crazy, so cool.

Now I'm going to shut my laptop and go out to see how everyone is doing out there in the playroom. You'll shut your computer too, or lock your phone, or walk away from your desk, but just know that I'm thinking of you. I'm sending you these positive vibes and happy thoughts and I'd like to imagine that you can totally feel them coming your way, floating out there in cyber space and over to you, somehow. Lots of love, my friend.

xoxo

Packing...for a Month Long Trip


Today I spent some time making a list of all the things we'll need on our East Coast trip. We leave this weekend (I'm so excited!), so I'm trying to get everything organized in the next couple of days to alleviate any last minute stress. We'll be staying in different hotels and B&Bs, with stops at my Aunt's and Uncle's in the middle (Vermont and New York) so thankfully we'll be able to do laundry at least once. Lately I've become a big time overpacker, so I'm looking forward to packing simply and intentionally, rather than bringing anything and everything I could possibly want or need.

Hank, Henry and I have done a month+ long trip a few times before Charlie was born, but this time it's everyone and it feels like 100x more stuff due to the diapers, wipes, stroller, two carseats, an Ergo, and a portable crib. We've traveled a lot with the boys but never for this long with BOTH...so I thought I would ask if anyone has any tried and true travel tips for extended vacations with little ones or even just on your own! It would be awesome to learn a new tip we can put into practice.

I'm all ears! And when we return I'll write a follow up post sharing what worked and what didn't.

xoxo

Friday, May 15, 2015

Matter.



I'm so excited to share Matter with all of you today- a great, inspiring company I learned about when they emailed me to partner up on a post. The photos attached to that initial email were what first caught my eye, but then when I read more about their mission, their goals and the hows and whys of their production, I was even more excited to help spread the word. In short, Matter inspires consumers to value provenance – to ask of the where and why something is made, and champion alternative production models for textile artisans to expand their economic opportunities. And as someone who admittedly doesn't usually think about things like this, it widened a whole new avenue of thought for me, and opened up my eyes as well.

Reading about Matter was inspiring (get more information on their philosophy here), and I also thought it was fascinating to watch videos on how every single one of their textiles is made. All of their pants are great to-and-from pieces, lounge pants, or even something you could dress up with heels and go out on the town. They're comfortable, travel-ready, and not only do they tell a story, but they inspire me to go live one of my own, too.

If you're in the market to treat yourself to something really special, go take a look at the Matter website. And better yet, you can feel good about your purchase, as you're supporting local artisans, makers, and economies. Here are some of my favorites: one, two and three. And be sure to watch the videos too, because they're really, really beautiful.

Enjoy!


This post is in partnership with Matter. Thanks for reading! xo
 
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