everyday inspiration

Inspiration

10 Things: July, August + September

J U L Y 

  1. Pedialyte popsicles are game changers.
  2. Even if you like Black Box wine, don’t even think about trying the whiskey.
  3. Bottomless mimosa brunch is always/never a good idea.
  4. 13 years later, Veronica Mars has still got it. #TrueLoVeForever
  5. People are legitimately divided on the purpose of a koozie.
  6. Find someone to take on their first 2am Waffle House experience.
  7. Have a beer with your parents’ childhood friends.
  8. You can do yoga poses while holding wine.
  9. Take your birthday off work.
  10. Jump in the pool.

 

A U G U S T

  1. It doesn’t matter if it’s “dry heat”, 105 degrees is too.freaking.hot.
  2. Traveling hungover is the absolute worst.
  3. 3-year-olds will ask you questions you’ve never even considered before.
  4. Be bold and take yourself out of a situation you don’t want to be in.
  5. Sometimes an ice luge is purely for show.
  6. Meet your significant other in another city.
  7. Be EXTREMELY clear to said significant other about what flight you’re on.
  8. Go see an Illusionist and allow your belief to be suspended, if only for 1 night.
  9. Don’t let the tiniest thing ruin your evening.
  10. Be patient; it is a virtue after all.

 

S E P T E M B E R

  1. PSL Cold Brew is the best drink Starbucks has ever created.
  2. Never let me eat Taco Bell in the car.
  3. Buy a newly engaged couple a bottle of wine – even when you don’t know them.
  4. Let celebrities enjoy time with their families.
  5. Trust, but verify.
  6. Key lime pie is always better in Florida.
  7. 75% of adults are magnesium deficient.
  8. Mix prints and just go with it.
  9. Open the Veuve on a random night.
  10. The bigger the charcuterie board = the better.

 

xo xo

10 Things: Jan + Feb, March + April, May + June


10 Things: January + February

For 2019, I’m starting a new series – 10 things. I want to capture things I’m learning in my 30th year whether tiny or bold, big or small. The rules: It can only be one sentence, and there can’t be repeating lessons from month to month. It can be something I’ve learned in prior years, but needed reminding. I’m also including one picture per month that’s symbolic of the month for me.

Since I missed the first month, we’re starting out with Jan + Feb, so here are the 20 things I’ve learned:

J A N U A R Y

  1. 3 birthday cakes are better than 1.
  2. 3 happy birthday songs are better than 1.
  3. The sticks in shuffleboard are called Tangs and the discs are called Biscuits.
  4. I really can exercise every single day, even if only for 10 minutes.
  5. The most expensive wine does not always equal the best tasting wine.
  6. Don’t obsess over the weather – you can’t change it anyway.
  7. New year’s resolutions shouldn’t start until the first Monday of the year.
  8. It’s okay not to finish everything you start.
  9. I’m pretty positive I have seasonal affective disorder.
  10. Sometimes inanimate objects are really hard to say goodbye to.

 

F E B R U A R Y

  1. We have control over our fears, and they’re often not nearly as big as we make them out to be.
  2. I can get tired of drinking wine.
  3. Nobody cares or notices if you’re on third-day hair.
  4. Burmese food is delicious.
  5. Make time for Galentine’s Day just as you would for Valentine’s Day.
  6. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
  7. The best team building is traveling together, especially if it also includes working on a ranch in 40 degrees.
  8. If you want to sound sophisticated about wine, just say it has BALANCE.
  9. Being bold looks different for everyone.
  10. While February is the shortest month of the year, it definitely feels like the longest month of the year.

xo xo


[post-thanksgiving] weekend getaway

S U N D A Y   E V E N I N G
The wind wails and the fire cackles.
The garland glimmers and the poodle snores.
Thanksgiving is now behind us and the anticipation of Christmas lies ahead.

In the midst of the busy holiday season, husband and I decided to take a respite, just the two of us. We packed the makings for chili and a special Italian red, and brought only our coziest clothes. We vowed to do a phone detox, focusing on the present weekend with the presence of one another. We drove only an hour away, though we might as well have been a million miles away – with stunning lake views, great conversation and the joy of spontaneous, secluded living.

A few things I learned from this little weekend getaway of ours:

– You don’t need to keep your phone next to you at all times.
– You’re not really missing anything on social media.
– Finishing a book in a weekend is one of the best feelings.
– Sometimes all you need is abundant sunshine and the gift of time to reconnect with your significant other.
– Enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee on a patio is one of life’s little luxuries we should all take advantage of more often.
– Don’t lose sight of what’s most important this holiday season.

xo xo


30 Before 30: Q3 Progress Update

Alright, we’re getting into the final stretch, friends! Only 3 more months to go, which means the holidays are (basically) here and then it’s my birthday. I’m actually really looking forward to turning 30. Is that strange? Maybe it’s just because I love birthdays??

I’ve still got quite a few to knock out, but here’s an update on completing my list of 30 things before I turn 30 from the last few months …

    1. Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure.
    2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch. This one might have been my favorite one to check off the list thus far. I knew the meal I wanted to make was Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and knew it would be more fun with help from my mom! It actually wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be, just verryyy time consuming, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. Oh my gosh this was delicious. We already have a plan to make it again for the whole family for Christmas dinner!  
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat at Cotham’s since the original location burned down last year. However, I did hike Pinnacle – and it was a doozy! The challenge was worth it, as the views were stunning, and we’re already planning another hike up in the Fall.
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show. This one makes me so happy because I’ve been dying to see this show and Mom got me tickets for my 29th birthday for our trip to Chicago. It was AMAZING. Absolutely go see it if you get the chance.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours. (17 hours complete!) This quarter included a charity kickball game and volunteering at the Arkansas Public Theatre.
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
    8. Play video games with Husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer. This was so fun! We played Mario Kart (he schooled me), tennis (both won) and a fighting game (which we also both won, to Husband’s chagrin). I definitely need to get in Husband’s world and do this more often!
    9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
    10. Learn a song on the guitar.
    11. Be in a play.
    12. Learn to play blackjack.
    13. Make a signature cocktail.
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. Yay I’ve FINALLY started it, and no I won’t share any details yet! 🙂
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night. This one was totally out of the blue, but glad it happened the way it did. We won the poolside Hollywood Trivia on our family vacation in Mexico. Go Team Guacamole!
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters. This has also been one of my favorite ones to check off the list and I’m planning to set a goal for myself to write letters every year!
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo. I went to see Crazy, Rich Asians (which was THE BEST) and it was so liberating to go to a movie solo. I also happened to be the only person in the theater, so it was extra solo! Ha!
    20. Ride 300 miles. Maybe this one didn’t take as along as anticipated, but it’s still checked off the list and I’m proud!
    21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it.
    22. Do 5 things that scare me. (1. Leave my comfort zone job of 6.5 years. Trust me – it’s scary. 2. Ride a snowmobile)
    23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
    24. Travel to a state I’ve never been to.  This one actually happened without me even realizing it. I thought I’d been to North Carolina, but hadn’t – and now I’ve been twice for work this year. Check! 
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all. 
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is totally the Peloton! Since I didn’t grow up in sports or really sticking with an exercise routine, riding consistently has been a huge challenge for me and totally feels like a new hobby! We even chose to ride while on vacation – something I never thought I’d do, ha!
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see. Taylor Swift – check. Taking Back Sunday (our favorite band from high school) – check AND Beyonce/Jay-Z coming up next month. I think I can officially check this one off the list.
    28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
    29. Take a spontaneous trip. Someone could probably fight me on this, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want – our NYC trip was totally spontaneous for me. No, it wasn’t a pick-up-and-go trip, but our friend Mark called, said he was having his 30th birthday party in NYC and did we want to go? I never turn down a trip to New York, so we said yes, but not planning something like that several months out is my kind of spontaneity!!
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash. The planning has begun for a week-long birthday celebration, obviously.

BONUS: Read 30 books. (24 complete!)

xo xo


#Last90Days

Is it kosher to just copy and paste someone else’s post into my blog and just say, “Here! Read this – it’s everything I want to say and more!” No? Maybe?

Okay, well here’s what I need you to do before you read any further – follow Rachel Hollis on Facebook and Instagram, sign up for her emails, and DUH read her book Girl, Wash Your Face. Have you noticed I’m a Rachel Hollis fangirl yet?! I’ve already written about her book here and here. And now this is the 3rd post, and this one’s really important because we’re starting a new challenge:

L A S T   9 0   D A Y S 

Y’all, it’s October 1st. That means there’s 90 days left in 2018. 90 days to get your life together. Wouldn’t you like to end your year even better than you started it? Wouldn’t you like to START 2019 already feeling your best?! I love this concept.

The last 3 months are the slipperiest (?) time of the year. You throw all eating/drinking inhibitions out the window starting with the resurgence candy corn and it just goes downhill from there. You get busy with holiday parties and your workouts become nonexistent. You wear your sweats and cozy sweaters, and say you’ll start next year. Nope. Not gonna happen, friends. We’re going to do this together.

I love this analogy Rachel shared in her email this morning:

If you needed to climb to the 20th floor of a building and you’re already on the tenth floor, does it make sense to go back down to the basement now and start all over in January? No way! We’re already here. Maybe we charged up the ten flights last January or maybe it took us all of 2018 to get to this place but dang it, we’re here. It doesn’t make any sense to blow it all now.

Right?! Okay, so I’ve convinced you about the WHY, but here’s the WHAT –

5   T O   T H R I V E 

It’s honestly pretty simple. I didn’t say easy. I said simple. YOU can do all of these things, and YOU can start 2019 as the best version of yourself.

Let’s get our tribe and do this together. Comment below, email me, text me, facebook me – tell me you’re in so we can hold each other accountable.

Today was the first day of the rest of my life.
Who’s with me?!

xo xo


so long, sweet summer.

Oh sweet labor day,
your weekend signals the close of summer and the nudge to pack away the white pants.

But, for many, myself included, you also cue the thrill of something new. The best season of all is peeking around the corner (if we’re lucky). True, I’ve already planned my 3rd Annual Fall Party and I’m currently burning a pumpkin spice candle as I write this, BUT I’m actually trying to hold on to the sunshine just a little bit longer this year.

It’s been an extraordinary summer. Did we go on any huge trips? No. Did we have any life-altering events happen? Not really. But sometimes isn’t that the best summer of all? Little bits of joy coupled together to create a beautiful summer of memories.

S U M M E R   O F   2 0 1 8 
[in photographs]


And yet,
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

xo xo


30 Before 30: Q2 Progress Update

As I’ve shared previously, I’m working towards completing a list of 30 things before I turn 30.

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the challenge – which means I’m halfway through my 29th year! Eek! I’m definitely making progress, but need to start seriously checking things off the list in Q3 … if anyone wants to help with any let me know!

  1.  Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
  2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
  3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat at Cotham’s since the original location burned down last year. However, I did hike Pinnacle – and it was a doozy! The challenge was worth it, as the views were stunning, and we’re already planning another hike up in the Fall.
  4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
  5. See a critically acclaimed show. This one makes me so happy because I’ve been dying to see this show and Mom got me tickets for my 29th birthday for our trip to Chicago. It was AMAZING. Absolutely go see it if you get the chance. 
  6. Volunteer 30 hours. (13 hours complete!) This quarter included great, hot, sweaty, challenging Habitat work. 
  7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
  8. Play video games with Husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer. This was so fun! We played Mario Kart (he schooled me), tennis (both won) and a fighting game (which we also both won, to Husband’s chagrin). I definitely need to get in Husband’s world and do this more often! 
  9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
  10. Learn a song on the guitar.
  11. Be in a play.
  12. Learn to play blackjack.
  13. Make a signature cocktail.
  14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
  15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
  16. Win at least 1 trivia night. This one was totally out of the blue, but glad it happened the way it did. We won the poolside Hollywood Trivia on our family vacation in Mexico. Go Team Guacamole!
  17. Write 30 handwritten letters. (22 complete!)
  18. Take a dance class.
  19. Go to a movie solo. Does it count that I tried to do this? I went to Mamma Mia 2, bought my ticket, got my popcorn and then partially into the movie it stopped working and they gave us our money back … 
  20. Ride 300 miles. Maybe this one didn’t take as along as anticipated, but it’s still checked off the list and I’m proud!
  21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
  22. Do 5 things that scare me. (1. Leave my comfort zone job of 6.5 years. Trust me – it’s scary. 2. Ride a snowmobile) 
  23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
  24. Travel to a state I’ve never been to.
  25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
  26. Challenge myself with a new hobby. I didn’t realize it at first, but this is totally the Peloton! Since I didn’t grow up in sports or really sticking with an exercise routine, riding consistently has been a huge challenge for me and totally feels like a new hobby! We even chose to ride while on vacation – something I never thought I’d do, ha!
  27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see. Taylor Swift – check. Taking Back Sunday (our favorite band from high school) – check AND Beyonce/Jay-Z coming up next month. I think I can officially check this one off the list. 
  28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
  29. Take a spontaneous trip. Someone could probably fight me on this, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want – our NYC trip was totally spontaneous for me. No, it wasn’t a pick-up-and-go trip, but our friend Mark called, said he was having his 30th birthday party in NYC and did we want to go? I never turn down a trip to New York, so we said yes, but not planning something like that several months out is my kind of spontaneity!! 
  30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.
  31. BONUS: Read 30 books. (16 complete!)

xo xo

Next quarterly update: Nov. 1 !


favorites.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but here are a few things I love and want to share with you, so you can love them too. ❤

BOOK OF THE MONTH: Y’all know I’m an avid reader, and I’m seriously obsessed with this service!  Here’s why –
1. The books are new titles with different genres to choose from
2. If you want to skip a month you can
3. It’s $14.99/month (cheaper than buying the book new from B&N or Amazon) and you can add another book into your box for just $9.99!
4. It’s been pushing me to read more because I want to finish my book(s) before the next month’s selection arrives

If you’re interested, use this link to sign up for Book of the Month – you’ll get a free book and I’ll get a free book! https://www.mybotm.com/sbucdim3rc
(I promise you won’t regret it!!)

You can also check out my book reviews here – quite a few from BOTM!

LIVING PROOF DRY SHAMPOO: I’ve tried so many dry shampoos – affordable and expensive, and this is hands down the best one I’ve tried. It’s a little more on the expensive side, but it feels like it actually cleans my hair and doesn’t leave white residue. I buy it in the big bottle for home and the small bottles to take with me when I travel!
Sephora full size: $23, mini: $13

ALLBIRDS: Husband was the first to join this bandwagon and to be honest, I was skeptical. But now, we both have two pairs each and are totally in love. They’re the perfect shoe for running errands or traveling, they’re so cute, so comfortable and you can just throw them in the wash if they get dirty. I have them in black and pink.
AllBirds $95

BURT’S BEES PEACH BLUSH: Since working on Burt’s Bees, I’ve been trying a lot of their products and loving a lot of them, but one of my current favorites is the blush. I love it in Bare Peach, but it comes in three shades. It’s 100% natural, lightweight and the coloring is perfect.
Walmart $9.49

BLOW-UP POOL: If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve undoubtedly seen this pool and how much I’ve been using it this summer. In this high 90s, high humidity Arkansas weather it’s been a lifesaver! It fits 2-3 adults, has a seat and cup holders. I’d say it’s the perfect “adult kiddie pool”!

Amazon
So when we bought it it was $30, but now I can’t seem to find it for less than $52 on Amazon, but definitely keep looking if you’re interested – it’s worth it!

xo xo


Do it for you.

I made a commitment to myself.
I made a commitment to myself to ride the Peloton 10 days in a row.

Here’s why I decided to do it, and how I stuck with it.

I’ve already blogged my praise of the book, Girl Wash Your Face. But there’s one chapter that has really stuck with me the last month – “I’ll Start Tomorrow.”

Can we take a moment and be real with ourselves … how many times have we said that?! I’ll start tomorrow!! I seriously can’t even count.

As Rachel Hollis says in her book, “We talk about the things we’d like to do, be, try and accomplish, but once we get to the moment of actually doing it, we fold faster than a card table after bunco night.”

I try so hard to keep my word and my commitments to other people, but I easily cancel on myself without even a second thought. I’ll skip my workout when I told myself I was going to do it after work. I’ll eat another piece of cake when I said I wouldn’t. I’ll listen to music on my way to work when I told myself I was going to use that time to pray.

I know I have the self-discipline, but I’m choosing not to use it. Why? I decided to try harder to stop breaking promises to myself.

So I started with something small. We have a constant supply of peanut butter M&Ms downstairs in our office, and it’s a huge issue. (Did I mention they are PEANUT BUTTER M&Ms?!) Grab a handful here and a handful there. No harm in that right? Uggggh. Well, I told myself I wouldn’t grab any handfuls all week, and guess what – I did it!

Okay, next commitment – ride 10 days in a row on the Peloton, culminating in a mother-daughter trip to Chicago to see Taylor Swift.

Y’all – I’m 9 days in, and I’m so proud of myself! I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard, because there were several days I was so close to quitting. Like that day over Memorial Day weekend when we’d been out in the sun all day and I was drained and it was 5pm and I still hadn’t ridden. I almost broke down. I almost canceled on myself, but I didn’t.

The other thing I’ve been teaching myself through this is – this commitment is for me. No one else. You might be reading this thinking, “10 days? That’s nothing.” And maybe for you, it’s not, but for me it is a challenge. Husband rode 30 days in a row and has already done a 60 min ride. I’ve done 9 days in a row and just did my first 45 min. But guess what, that’s okay! And not only is it okay, but I should be happy for his accomplishments and he should be happy for mine even though they’re completely different.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

My current favorite quote, and one we should all remind ourselves of daily.

So, I’ve got 1 more ride before my early flight to Chicago tomorrow, and I’m not canceling on myself now.
And then, it’s time for a mimosa.

xo xo


30 Before 30: Q1 Progress Update

As I’ve shared previously, I’m working towards completing a list of 30 things before I turn 30. I’m already 3 months into the challenge, so thought it was time to share an update. Unfortunately I’ve only checked off 3 things so far … but have made progress on several others! 

I’ll plan to do this every quarter so I can hold myself accountable!!

  1.  Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
  2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
  3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat at Cotham’s since the original location burned down last year. However, I did hike Pinnacle – and it was a doozy! The challenge was worth it, as the views were stunning, and we’re already planning another hike up in the Fall.
  4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
  5. See a critically acclaimed show.
  6. Volunteer 30 hours. (4 hours complete!)
  7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
  8. Play video games with husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer.
  9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
  10. Learn a song on the guitar.
  11. Be in a play.
  12. Learn to play blackjack.
  13. Make a signature cocktail.
  14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
  15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
  16. Win at least 1 trivia night. This one was totally out of the blue, but glad it happened the way it did. We won the poolside Hollywood Trivia on our family vacation in Mexico. Go Team Guacamole!
  17. Write 30 handwritten letters. (14 complete!)
  18. Take a dance class.
  19. Go to a movie solo.
  20. Run 30 miles. This one I’ve actually decided to update. We got a Peloton, so I’m now focused on riding instead of running. New goal: Ride 300 miles. (70 complete!)
  21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
  22. Do 5 things that truly scare me. (1 complete – Ride a snowmobile) I really was truly terrified to do this, but so glad I did it!
  23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
  24. Travel to a state I’ve never been to.
  25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
  26. Challenge myself with a new hobby.
  27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see.
  28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
  29. Take a spontaneous trip.
  30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.

BONUS: Read 30 books. (8 complete!)

Next quarterly update: Aug. 1 – I better start checking things off the list!

xo xo


30 Before 30

As I head into the last year of my 20s, I decided to create a list of things to do before I turn 30 in January. Thanks to literally everyone for helping me come up with this list. I think it’s realistic to accomplish in a year, yet will be challenging. I’ll provide a few updates throughout the year as I check things off. Starting with #1 …

[husband’s 30th]

    1. Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
    2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. This one stems back to my Arkansas Bucket List from a few years ago, and is one thing I really wanted to do that I never got to check off my list. This is the year!
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours.
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
    8. Play video games with husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer.
    9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
    10. Learn a song on the guitar.
    11. Be in a play.
    12. Learn to play blackjack.
    13. Make a signature cocktail.
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night.
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters.
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo.
    20. Run 30 miles. I’m not a runner. So, no judgment please on “only 30?!”
    21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
    22. Do 5 things that truly scare me.
    23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
    24. Travel to state I’ve never been to.
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby.
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see.
    28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
    29. Take a spontaneous trip.
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.

xo xo

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Aldermans Go Global: Italy, Part 1 (Rome + Tuscany)

R O M E

Day 1

[First stop in Italy – pistachio gelato – amazing, of course]

[Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and a lot of walking around cute streets]

[Incredible first meal at Cul de Sac – voted best lasagna + proscuitto and melon on the trip]

[Stumbled upon the famous Giolitti … so of course we had to have gelato, round 2. Successful first day in Italy!]

Day 2 


[A great morning of walking and sightseeing – Ancient Rome was incredible. We definitely needed more time to explore!]

[Lunch stop pre-Vatican: Bonci Pizzarium – highly recommend this place. Tons of unique pizzas to choose from by the slice!]
[Pictures of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica don’t even do it justice – wow! Unfortunately couldn’t take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but it was breathtaking – if only there weren’t so many sweaty people crammed into one place!]

[This wine + cheese pairing class was seriously the best – definitely our highlight of Rome. We learned a lot, drank some unique wines, ate some amazing cheeses and even got to see the thousand year old wine cellar, and Handi the sommelier was incredible! If you’re going to Rome you must make time for Vino Roma.]

[Final night in Rome: somehow found Husband’s dad and stepmom at the Spanish Steps, ate some delicious cacio e pepe and went to the best pub in the world (not really … but we did get this awesome picture from a stranger, ha!)]

ROME: we actually really enjoyed this city! For some reason, none of us had very high expectations, but we were all pleasantly surprised. It was very walkable, fun, safe and great food. There is so much history here that we did not get the time to really explore so I could definitely go back.

T U S C A N Y
Our home base was Siena, which we ADORED, then we traveled around a bit from there.

Day 1
[Our first view as we walked into the city after a long day of traveling – how could we not immediately fall in love?!]

[The best pizza I’ve ever had – everything was so incredibly fresh, including the burrata on top. Il Pomodorino was one of our favorite spots with the best views. We actually ate there twice!]

[Drank wine at Bar Il Palio on the Piazza and people watched (including these two cute people above) – exactly as Rick Steves recommended, and it was perfect]

Day 2

[Spent the day exploring Siena – pictured is the Duomo and the crypt below, which was so creepy and so cool]

[Husband and I then walked up 131 tiny, winding steps to see this view. We got some incredible panoramic photos we will definitely print and frame – it was challenging, but so worth it!]

[Our favorite meal of the entire trip! This place was so amazing and romantic. My risotto with FRESHLY GRATED truffles was literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. Truly a remarkable evening.]

Day 3
Day trip to Florence


[Very cool market we stopped in for breakfast – bottom floor was fresh meats, cheeses, veggies and fruits like a farmer’s market; top floor was cafes and restaurants – this cappucino and ham + brie croissant was delicious.]

[David, David, David, you truly are a masterpiece. I cannot get over how surreal and amazing it was to see this work of art. I’m so glad we went to Florence if only for this!][And this! Birth of Venus by Botticelli was amazing.]
[Uffizi gallery with these views was fantastic – though by the end of the day, we were so ready to get back home to Siena …][and we did eventually make it home, but with a crazy story to tell (best told in person). This was us cheers-ing to Josh making it back alive.]

FLORENCE: in full transparency, we really did not like Florence very much. It was crazy packed with tourists everywhere you turned. Maybe we didn’t go to the right places and should have spent more than a day and done more than just the touristy things, but we were not impressed. (Except for David!)

Day 4
Wine tour to Montalcino + surrounding wineries 
[Montalcino was an adorable little town! We only got 30 minutes in town before heading to the wineries, but could have spent several hours wandering around. Of course, even in those 30 minutes husband found a pair of leather shoes to buy!]

[First winery was a small family-run production – the wine was delicious, we met two adorable dogs and we tried grappa (definitely not for me…)]

[Second stop had the best views by far and incredible lunch + wine in a gorgeous home. I could seriously move there tomorrow!]

[Final stop was definitely the most unique and produced our favorite (albeit most expensive) wine – this winery is super modern, entirely biodynamic, and started by the very wealthy brother of Illy coffee (who we happened to see leaving for holiday in his Porsche while we were there)][Finally back home at Hotel La Villa for our final night in Siena – we did not want to leave!]

SIENA: hands down our favorite city. We seriously discussed finding a property to turn into an AirBnB so we could go visit whenever we want. It was charming and beautiful and just felt magical. I could spend so much more time here, using Siena as a home base then traveling to differing wineries and small towns nearby.

Hopefully you enjoyed the first round of pictures! This was only a tiny taste of what we saw, did, ate and drank.

Watch for Part 2 (Cinque Terre + Venice) in the next week!

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Alderman’s Go Global: St. LuciaLondon, Paris, Munich

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happy thoughts

A few simple, happy thoughts for anyone having a tough week
or for anyone who likes happy thoughts.

*It’s 75 degrees in February. Let me repeat, it’s 75 degrees in February. Let porch season begin.

*I spoke to the absolute sweetest old lady on the phone today (who I didn’t know). She started the conversation by telling me her grandmother’s name was Mille and she was the best person she’d ever met. We talked for 20 minutes about names and strong grandmothers and having kids and travel and true love, and it totally made my day. And she ended the conversation by saying it made hers too, because it made her reminisce about her grandmother.

*I’ve seen two amazing, deserving couples get an answered prayer of adoption this week. Their posts warmed my heart and made me praise our truly incredible God.

*This Is Us has been renewed for 2 seasons. Yes, every episode makes me cry, but ultimately this makes me very happy.

*I may be extra busy with work lately, but I still have time to spend with my amazing husband, delicious food to eat and a warm bed to crawl into at night.

*When your mom knows exactly what prayer to send after a rough day –

Feel your panic. Feel your frustration. But keep your eyes and heart open. There’s a part of us, our heart, that knows where we’re going, knows what we need, knows what the next step is. Our heart will lead us on. And God will move us forward.

Oh, and it’s National Margarita Day.
Happy thoughts, indeed.

xo xo


Just rest. And drink wine.

November 1 comes with a myriad of emotions. Joy and childlike excitement for the holidays. Subtle, but ever-present melancholiness for those no longer with us. And often times, stress and anxiety with the overwhelming amount of so much to do, to buy, to see.

We’ve been so busy the last few months, and the next two will be even busier. I love all the things we’re doing and all the people we’re spending time with, but it’s so important to rest – something very hard for me to do sometimes.

A couple of months ago, I had the foresight to book a weekend getaway just me and husband for some pure relaxation together. A weekend of solace in wine country … in Missouri! We heard about this little town called Hermann, Missouri with wineries, breweries and adorable B&Bs. {More on this later – you know there will be a dedicated blog post with pictures and reviews.}

My hope for this weekend is that we can turn off the noise, enjoy each other’s company and re-center ourselves. This way we can go into the holiday season with thankful hearts, a positive attitude and the reminder to sometimes say no to (good) things, and just rest.

Oh, and did I mention I’m staying off social media for the weekend? No facebook, no insta and no snaps … just wine and my husband. Just the way I like it.

xo xo


A Mother’s Advice

It has been a rough couple of weeks. Everything has just been so busy and insane and I just feel like I’m going to burst.

It seems like everyone is feeling this way. Maybe it’s the pre-summer busyness (is that a thing?) or we’re just getting older and we live busy lives. I don’t know, but it was really getting me, until I took my mom’s age-old advice to heart –

“Take things day by day.”

She has always told me that – in high school, when I had play practice every night and AP homework and was stressed to tears; in college, when I had books to read and papers due (in classes I could care less about) and was stressed to tears; now, when I work all day and dream about work all night and have a busy social life and am stressed to tears.

And when I really stop and heed her advice to take things slow, day by day, sometimes minute by minute, it really helps.

It also helps to remember all of the things I have to be thankful for. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Yes, work has been super busy and stressful, but I really really do enjoy my job. How many people can say that? In the last two weeks I’ve had meetings with Snapchat, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Pandora, Refinery 29 and more … how cool is that?!

I have amazing friends and we go to trivia night and events at Crystal Bridges and make surprise Snapchat filters for parties and try to solve clues to get out of an escape room and send silly text messages.

I have a loving family and a house to care for and food to eat and new clothes to wear, and generally want for nothing.

Life can be crazy. I’m not downplaying that at all. But when it gets so crazy you feel like you’re going to lose your mind, here’s my advice – stop. breathe. remember all the things you have to be thankful for. and remember my mom’s advice, to take things day by day.

It’s all we can do, and the day is all we have.

xo xo

 


You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

My dear friend Erica Keller passed away this morning.

And it’s hard. It’s so hard. Death will always be hard.

But I am rejoicing and celebrating in the life she had because it was truly incredible. Erica was dealt a difficult hand early on, diagnosed with cancer at 14 months. Her parents were told she probably wouldn’t make it to age 2. Today, she passed away at 34 years old.

IMG_1217[Me + E at the Memphis Zoo]

She lived 30+ years longer than the doctors thought possible. But here’s the thing, she didn’t just live. She LIVED. Whether you knew her for a minute, a day or a year – she could put a smile on your face, and she had the most infectious laugh. I’m seriously laughing now just thinking about it, and about how many times we got into giggle fits because of it.

IMG_1218[Me + E during one of her annual summer visits]

She taught everyone around her not to take life for granted and to live life to its fullest. What’s there to be sad about? What’s there to complain about? To her, there wasn’t anything. She was a beaming ray of sunshine on even the cloudiest of days.

I’ve always known E was a special person, but looking back on it now, I truly think she was an angel on earth. Every single person who knew her is better because of it, and they would tell you that. She taught me so much and brought so much joy to my life throughout the years – with our summer sleepovers, endless dance parties and days wasted at Locomotion with Pops.

IMG_9960[Me, E + Husband during an annual summer visit]

We will all miss her so very much, and it still doesn’t make this easy, but it is so amazing to know she is in a better place. She has no more pain. She’s laughing. She’s running. She’s talking my dad’s ear off.

She’s our angel, looking down on us all.

xo xo

 

 


Life After Whole30

I officially finished Whole30, and it changed my life.

Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but really, it changed a lot. I’ve been writing weekly updates about Whole30, and you can see how my thinking has changed over just 3 weeks.

At this point, I honestly feel like I could be an infomercial for clean eating – it makes you feel so much better, your cravings will decrease, you’ll lose weight, you’ll have more energy, yada, yada, yada.

I’ve been slowly adding in some more foods, and a few strange things have happened since I’ve finished Whole30 –

Some foods haven’t tasted as good. I had my first cappuccino and it wasn’t as amaaazing as I thought it would be. As I was drinking it, I honestly missed my black coffee. Granted, husband and I have become a coffee snob – only drinking high quality, locally roasted coffee with an aeropress, but I was still surprised. But, I will, of course, have to drink a PSL when Fall decides to show.

I haven’t missed some foods. Like, bread or beans or rice or pasta. Some bread, yes, like Sister Schubert’s rolls, but a basic sandwich? Never again. I’d much rather eat a good salad for lunch. I looove me some mexican food, but I could easily skip the beans and rice and just eat tacos (all day, every day). And of course I will eat some really good pasta, but it just seems so heavy thinking about it, which leads me to …

I’m not eating as much because I know when I’m full. I’m not eating just to eat anymore. I’ve learned more about my body and what I need. We had pizza last night for the first time, but instead of over-indulging because it’s so delicious, I ate some salad with my pizza and was happily full.

Some things I HAVE missed though … wine, pizza, desserts, cheese … and I will eat and drink those things to my heart’s content.

Overall, I am so glad I did Whole30, and could definitely see myself doing it again if I ever strayed too far away from my current habits of mostly clean eating. I plan on continuing to share good, clean recipes on this blog and would love to hear any tips or recipes from you as well!

xo xo

 


Short hair, don’t care

Raise your hand if you’ve ever chopped off your hair.

Raise your hand if you were as nervous and stressed out as I was.

Y’all, I was a mess. Why is that? Why was I so wrapped up in myself about my HAIR?? I loved my long hair, and I felt like it was my identity. For the longest time I couldn’t even imagine cutting my hair. It took me so long to get it as long as it was and I felt so beautiful with long hair. I often thought if anyone really wanted to punish me they should cut my hair in my sleep and I would be devastated. I recognize how narcissistic this sounds, and that’s one of the reasons I went through with it.

My worth is not in my hair. It’s not in my clothes. It’s not in the car I drive or the house I live in or the trips I take. Praise the Lord for that, seriously.

When I finally cut it, everyone kept asking, “What does your husband think?” Of course he loved it, but when I told him that, he said, “Why does that matter? If you’re happy, I’m happy.” Awww.

But he’s right. I should be confident in myself and my choices. It doesn’t matter what other people think. I know that’s easier said than done, but I really do think self-confidence is radiant. You can tell when someone loves their body no matter what their size and it’s just so beautiful.

I’ve only had my short hair for two days, but I have been LOVING it. It’s so fresh and easy. I feel more trendy and modern. And I’m so ready for spring. It’s given me the push I needed to transform myself into a healthier version of me – working out, toning my body and loving me for me.

IMG_3221 copy

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” – Coco Chanel

xo xo


favorites, round 4.

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1. Joggers: New obsession of mine and husbands. I’m practically living in them any time I’m at home, and just wish I could live in them any time I’m not home. They’re so comfortable, and come in a million colors. We already have 3 in our household, and know it won’t be long before its more.

2. Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson + Bruno Mars: I’m obsessed with this song! Ask husband, any time it comes on the radio I freak out and turn it up. Even though I’ve heard it probably a million times at this point.

3. Bobbi Brown Lip Balm: This was a Christmas present from sister K and I now can’t go a day without it! It feels so good on, and gives lips the perfect amount of shine.

4. How To Get Away With Murder: This has been one of my favorite shows this season! I look forward to it every week and have been audibly surprised too many times to count. Viola Davis is perfection.

5. Salads in a Jar: I wrote a blog post about make-ahead meals, including salads in a jar. They’re so easy, delicious and versatile!

6. Podcasts:  After Serial, our eyes were opened. There are so many amazing stories out there just waiting to be heard! We’ve started listening to This American Life, Invisibilia and The Dinner Party Download. There’s just not enough time in the day!

 xo xo

To see some of my previous favorite things: favorites., favorites, round 2., favorites, round 3.


Resolutions. [10 days later]

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 10.41.31 AM

Turn off the TV by 9pm. Get in bed and read.

Cook more with my husband.

Step away from my phone when around other people.

Blog more. Blog about what matters to me, not for others.

Embrace who I am. Don’t force things I’m not, like spontaneity.

Read the Word of God every day, even just for 5 minutes.

Go outside. Enjoy our backyard. Enjoy our energetic puppy.

Be engaged. In world events, in relationships, in work, in play.

Do small, unexpected things for people I care about.

Make our house a home.

Be more conscious about the food that goes in my body.

Love my body.

Take each day as it comes. Do not worry about tomorrow.

Travel somewhere new. In my hometown, in my state, in my country, in my beautiful God-given world.

B E  H A P P Y.
xo xo


This is Christmas …

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 3.47.51 PMI shared a few weeks ago about the uniqueness of this Christmas and how challenging it is for me. I’ve been trying so hard to look all around for the love and joy and Christmas in the little things.

I go from feelings of sadness to happiness to contentment to anxiety nearly every day. I’ve been feeling like the month has been leading up to one big day that will surely be full of tears and discomfort. Then I realized Christmas isn’t about a day, it’s about a season, and I’ve had a damn good one thus far. As one of my favorite seasonal movies reminded me this weekend, Love Actually is All Around Us. 

This is Christmas … 

driving around with husband looking at Christmas lights, stopping for 20 minutes at one house enamored with a timed light show

volunteering at sharing + caring, putting together christmas gifts for families in need

spending time over dinner or margaritas with family, new and old

coming home surprised to find the christmas trees up without asking

enjoying a hot cocoa bar, talks about cat books + nerf gun wars at our CG christmas party

snuggled on the couch forcing husband to watch sleepless in seattle, and happy to see him enjoy it

listening to endless amounts of christmas music while cooking dinner

shopping for the perfect gift for my perfect friends and family

caroling on the square with my team from work + crying of laughter at how bad we are

shopping for the basic needs of others (socks, protein) + recognizing how much I have and how grateful I am

watching the first snowfall of the year like a little girl

being humbled by a sermon through the eyes of the wisemen

receiving christmas cards of my beautiful friends and their families from all across the country

xo xo


“I have finished.”

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.‘ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder

This morning, I pushed myself. I pushed myself to get out of bed. I pushed myself to put on my running shoes. I pushed myself to have a positive attitude about the 2 miles ahead of me. I pushed myself to cross the finish line.

And it felt remarkable.

I wouldn’t consider myself athletic or a runner, but I did it. I challenged myself in a way I haven’t in a long time.

I wasn’t prepared for the run. Husband and I were running consistently for a few months, but stopped the past few weeks. Then I remembered we’d already signed up for the ALS Run in Downtown Bentonville. I literally had dreams all night that I was the last person crossing the finish line and it was humiliating.

Good news – I wasn’t the last, not even close, but even if I had been, it would have been okay. As I was running this morning, I just kept telling myself I can do it. I can push myself harder than I think I can. I let my body take over instead of my mind telling me I couldn’t do it anymore, and I realized how amazing it felt just to be running, regardless of where I was in the pack.

As I’m basking in my satisfaction of doing something I was so fearful of, I have a few thank you’s –

Thank you to my husband for constantly pushing me on our morning runs and giving me the positive reinforcement I need.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.33.45 AM

Thank you to my mother for encouraging our running and signing up with us, and most importantly staying by my side during the run this morning as we pushed along together.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.34.02 AM

And finally, thank you to Queen Bey for getting me across the finish line with her flawless songs.

xo xo


“Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn”

I’ve previously written about grief, and I’ve previously written about my newfound love of NPR. Here, the two collide.

It’s been about 8 months since my dad has passed away. This week there was something in the air. I was overly emotional about everything. I thought I might explode with tears and emotion at any second. My grief came barreling back in to my life, shocking me so much it nearly knocked me off my feet.

But then Friday, a few things happened. Sometimes you hear or see or read things that just grab you, speak to your soul – one of which lately has been Carry On, Warrior that I’ve blogged about multiple times, but Friday it was a segment on NPR.

The segment was called, “A Poet on Losing His Son: ‘Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn.'” You can listen to the full 7-minute segment here (or read the transcript). Below I share some of my favorite parts of the interview, words I can relate to so well.

I don’t like the whole language of healing, which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America, everyone begins talking about healing. But before you heal, you have to mourn. And I found that poetry doesn’t shield you from grief, but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it, seemed like something I could do. And it gave me something to do with my grief.

There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.

Excerpt from Gabriel – Edward Hirsch’s book

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief

I did not know I would struggle
Through a ragged underbrush
Without an upward path

Because there is no path
There is only a blunt rock
With a river to fall into

And Time with its medieval chambers
Time with its jagged edges
And blunt instruments

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

I’ve never been big into poetry, but I thought this was so beautiful and raw and emotional. You might think this would make me feel more grief-stricken, but it’s more so comforting. It’s always encouraging to hear others who seem to understand exactly what you’re feeling and can put it into words better than you can. I’m not alone in my emotion.

Friday continued with a few other encouraging things – a perfectly-timed devotional, an eye-opening talk with a friend and some absolutely wonderful news at the end of the day that made me cry tears of joy. After a painful week, God knew exactly what I needed to continue the healing process. He is so good and so faithful and so loving.

So, happy weekend friends. I still feel very reflective this rainy, Saturday morning, but I also feel just a little stronger.

Carry on, warrior
xo xo


sunday inspiration

1c405da59d888c9b9803a9a21bd911e8{simple fashion – stripes + army vest}

fb4ebb5637dd212aa1d6d6b37566919f

{capturing beauty in a wine glass}

83b3091c9f1f9986a3cd0d7a952fe412

{friendship}

74dd953f26a067695c31e8934c692418

{fall recipes – goat cheese + walnuts + honey}

4ae1d3b11874fc6eda1751d8d6ad06a0

{clean and classic decor}

0e4fd43814388dd35513e42f69c2ec34

{passionate love, humphrey bogart + lauren bacall}

xo xo