Easy DIY Travel Keepsakes

6.27.2015

Every single time I travel I am always looking for fun keepsakes to take back home with me. It always serves as a reminder of the good times my husband and I have had traveling around the world. Although we have yet to do any big traveling together, we have been able to make it to the most beautiful beaches around.

Today I am sharing with you an easy way to show off your travels by collecting sand and making a beautiful candle centerpiece for anywhere in your home.


Now that we have been to both Turks & Caicos (twice!) and just recently Kauai, it was important for me to continue our tradition of bringing home sand from the beaches in which we visited. It’s fun to see the comparison of sand from different parts of the world!


To create this easy DIY travel keepsake you just need a few, inexpensive, supplies! On my most recent trip to World Market I found these beautiful hurricanes to which I could put my sand and candles in. I love the different sizes they come in! 

The shells I used were actually collected by my husband and I! The ones from our Hawaii trip are actually the shell leis that were given to us by the Sheraton Resort we stayed in while visiting Kauai. I love how they add such a personal touch and something we will have memories of for years to come.


This is a closeup of our Turks & Caicos sand when we visited the island of Providenciales. It’s so soft! On one of our excursions we went to a beach known as Shell Beach for the obvious reasons. We were able to snag a lot of these tiny shells that day. My husband even snorkeled and found a sand dollar! Don’t you just love the juxtaposition of these next to each other?

The unfortunate part is that the pillar candle featured here is just an unscented candle found from World Market and not from our trip. I like using unscented candles in combination with ones with a fragrance so that you don’t have too much going on in one room. It allows the scented ones to shine!


When we went to Hawaii we came across this cute soap and candle shop named Island Soap and Candle Works and they have hundreds of different candles and soaps, which are handmade right there in the store! My husband picked out a few candles and even sent some home to his mom. Photographed here is the rain pillar candle, which can be ordered and shipped here straight from Hawaii. 

How do you show off your vacation souvenirs around your home? 

Dear Murphy

6.25.2015


Dear Murphy,

If dogs could read and understand emotion the way humans do, I would hope for nothing more than for you to find this letter and truly know what you’ve meant to your dad and I. I remember the first time you came to us. You flew, all by yourself, from Texas to DC. I know it must have been one of the scariest things you’ve had to go through and probably the reason you hate flying with us today. You were the tiniest thing; so fragile. However, the moment I held you in my arms you snuggled right into me and at that moment you made me a fur-mommy.

When you arrived your dad and I had no idea what it took to become a fur-parent. We were just married and both left our jobs right around the same time. The perfect time to add a pet, huh? However, none of that mattered. I knew right away that you were mine and I counted down the days until you came to me. You were scared of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. From people, to birds, cars, and even your own shadow. There were times you were really frustrating; especially when you cried all through the night with no avail. You were scared of your water bowl and therefore we had to teach you how to eat and drink. There were so many lessons you learned within those first few weeks, but you picked it up very quickly.

Eventually mommy and daddy found work but it would take another trip, not in a plane, but rather a four-day trip across the country to California. You were awesome. We snuck you into hotels that didn’t allow pets and you learned how to adapt to new places. You eventually fell in love with daddy’s Jeep and it’s one of your favorite cars to ride in today. Even through you were scared most of the time, I am so proud of how fearless you are today.

We arrived in California and your first beach experience was in Santa Barbara (no too bad, huh?). You were very unsure of what the beach was but you’ve grown to love it so much! Almost so that you’ve become a stubborn-ass on walks because you want to go play in the water so badly. In our new home you officially became house trained, learned to walk on a leash, and even learned basic commands like sit. We swore we wouldn’t allow you to sleep in our bed or lay on our sofa but you see how well that turned out. You’re the only dog that has a tempur-pedic bed. You’ve made new friends and continue to go with us everywhere. Daddy wouldn’t want it any other way.

In conclusion, on your first birthday it may not seem like any other day to you, but know that this birthday is a special one for your mom and dad. It marks a time when you’re not so much that little scared puppy, but a maturing young dog. I am so proud of the growth you’ve made and it’s difficult to remember life without having you in it. I look forward to celebrating with you tonight with dad and the pup-cake he made himself! 

I love you more than words,
Mommy

Styling With Stitch Fix: June + Giveaway

6.21.2015

I just received my June fix and this is by far the best shipment I’ve received yet!

But let me back up...

I had taken a little break from Stitch Fix after a few of my shipments were completely wrong. I had cute items, but they looked horrible on me. The fit was wrong, the colors and patterns didn’t look flattering on me, so I ended up sending everything back. Within a few days Stitch Fix personally (not just some pre-generated email) contacted me to figure out what the problem was and hoped that I would consider giving them another chance to make it right. They paid for my next fix just to prove that they care about customer satisfaction. What business does that anymore?!

I started to realize that it wasn’t so much the stylists fault for selecting wrong items for me, rather it was me who wasn’t being clear enough about what I wanted or needed from my fixes. So, I got to thinking and came up with ways to better communicate with my stylists so that I could ensure that I received exactly what I wanted. Check out my helpful Stitch Fix tips here if you’re interested!

This time around...

I requested plenty of fit and flare dresses, bold colors and prints, as well as a coveted layered cardigan. Seriously, my stylist Whitney heard exactly what I wanted and responded with some fabulous pieces for me. Let’s take a look at what I got in my June fix!

This post contains affiliate links.

 I just had to catch this snapshot of Murphy invading my space and successfully photobombing me!



Brixon Ivy $74.00 | MAYBE?
Initially I would have skipped this dress if I were shopping for myself but that’s the great thing about having Stitch Fix stylists. They find items for you that you may never would have tried on in the first place and this dress is exactly that for me. I love the textured print and the bright yellow is a color you’ll for sure be noticed in. My husband loved it even though it was a bit outside my comfort zone.  

What do you think?


Papermoon $68.00 | KEEP
This fit and flare dress is so adorable and I couldn’t wait to try it on! I was a bit worried about the horizontal stripes since I’m curvier in shape and that tends to be a tricky print. However, when I tried it on the dress fit like a glove and the material was so soft and comfortable!


Henry & Belle $148.00  | SENDING BACK
These jeans were very comfortable (due to the stretchy material and no denim is found whatsoever). I asked for a light colored skinny jean and these were a cute cropped version of what I was looking for.  It’s a bit pricier than I would have liked for jeans with no actual denim in them, but cute nonetheless.


Brixon Ivy $54.00 | KEEP
I had pinned this item forever ago and it was so exciting to see that my stylist found this on my Pinterest board. Just goes to show that the stylists really do keep an eye on your boards and by filling out personal notes in the description really helps them gauge what you want or need. It fit beautifully and I love that it is a single cardigan but gives the allusion of layering with the soft blush inner fabric.



Look By M $34.00 | KEEP
It’s a bit pricier than I would have preferred for a scarf but it’s lightweight, something I asked for, and with the American colors it’s perfect for July 4th weekend. I’m loving this infinity scarf!

THE BREAKDOWN AND INCENTIVE TO BUY ALL FIVE

Merchandise Total: $378.00
Buy Five Discount: -$94.50
Styling Fee Credit:  -$20.00
Credit:                       -$5.00

TOTAL: $258.50

Total without the jeans (because I thought they were too pricy)...$222.25. For $30 more I could get the jeans and enjoy that Buy Five Discount. 

However, this time around I am going to stick with just the items I’m in LOVE with and am skipping on the jeans. But isn’t it a great deal? With just one shipment I was able to purchase 4 new items that I love and can’t wait to start wearing.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Slim Down Saturday + Linkup {6.20}

6.20.2015

Where did time fly to?? Seriously. It’s Saturday and it’s absolutely gorgeous outside here in Ventura even though we’re right in the full swing of June Gloom. Luckily it hasn’t been too foggy these last few days and I am soaking up the sunshine for as long as I possibly can.

Sorry I was a bit absent with the linkup last week. If you’re not familiar, I was in Hawaii with the husband celebrating our first wedding anniversary! I tried my best to keep up with my points and continue to make healthy choices even while vacationing. But, alas I managed to gain back everything I lost in the weeks prior.

Even though that’s a super bummer and it means I have to essentially start all over, I am picking myself back up and trying again. Let’s check in and see how week 6 went...


The Results Week Six

Ultimate Goal
My ultimate goal is to reach my goal weight, which is to lose about 40 lbs.

Gain/Loss From the Week
-2 lbs

Total Loss Since Starting
- 2.4 lbs

Positives From the Week
This week I returned from Hawaii and began working the summer program at my school. It’s allowed me to get back on track with a routine everyday. I am packing healthy snacks and upping how much water I drink. What are your favorite healthy snacks for on the go? Any pins you want to share?!

Things to Work On
I love my wine but I also know it’s a killer to my weight loss goals. I drank a lot in Hawaii and told myself, “I’m on vacation.” Well, I’m no longer on vacation so it’s time I start finding healthier alternatives to my favorite alcoholic beverages. Any recommendations or recipes?!

One Goal For Next Week
I still haven’t made it to the gym this week and being active is something I really need to get back into the routine with. Why is going to the gym so hard?!

Motivator
via
I know this is a bit graphic but it sends such a powerful message. Each pound lost is worth something and even though I gained last week and lost only 2 lbs this week....I tell myself that it’s something.

Tip or Trick
via
Creating a visual that you can see every single day helps you stay on track in whatever weight loss program or goal you have. I found this idea from The Bloated Bride blog. To scratch off every number is a great feeling and makes you realize that even if it’s one pound it’s meaningful.

What is Slim Down Saturday?
This linkup series started as a way for me to share my weight loss journey through Weight Watchers with my readers (see original post). Since fitness and overall health is important to me, I wanted to open it up for fellow bloggers and readers to join in and, in essence, create a community around healthy living and supporting one another in their goals.

Are you on a new fitness regimen or have a weight loss goal you’re working towards? Do you blog about fitness or health and want to share? Feel free to link up with me every Saturday!


Five Things Friday: Hawaiian Holiday

6.19.2015

Happy Friday and yet another end to another week! Once returning from our Hawaiian getaway I was right back at school for their Summer Experience program for the preschoolers. It’s always an interesting transition from saying goodbye to one class and then getting to know the other little guys who are coming up to the three-year-old class. Although there were some minor challenges this week, it’s fun to meet them and figure out their little personalities.

Without further adieu, here are my favorite snapshots from our vacation for this week’s Five Things Friday linkup!

 

If you have five things to share from your week be sure to meet me here and linkup your post!
For more info, here are the rules for the linkup:


Anyone that knows me understands that by no means am I a hiker or particularly like it for that matter. However, when your husband takes you to a place known as the Garden Isle you know in that moment that hiking or some sort of outdoorsy adventure awaits you. With that being said, I was actually eager to hike this canyon with him simply because it was something he really looked forward to and you will never get that kind of view of the island anywhere else. To stand at the top, thousands of feet high, and overlook the canyon and see the ocean peeking through was absolutely humbling.

My husband arranged for this and it was our one fancy evening together to celebrate one year of marriage over a gourmet meal at sunset. To begin, we enjoyed a few glasses of champagne on the rooftop of the St. Regis with the sun setting on the horizon. It was unbelievably romantic and a moment I will forever cherish. I can only imagine what year two will bring us!

And something funny that evening: my husband ran into Justin Bieber while trying to find the restroom. I caught a glimpse of him when he stepped outside on the terrace where we were drinking our champagne. All I can say is thank goodness he cut his hair and who seriously wears some kind of hover-board in a five star resort?!

On our last day we decided to take a boat tour around the Na Pali Coast, which included snorkeling, and all day I looked forward to catching a few photos of these famous sea turtles I hear so much about in Hawaii. But, of course, I wasn’t able to find them but luckily Philip was able to snap a few photos while on our tour around the island. 

And speaking of the Na Pali Coast, I was so excited to go on this boat tour because it’s something of a tradition Philip and I do whenever we go on an island vacation. It always turns out so fun with the humor of the boat captain, the thrill of being on a catamaran this time, and just taking in what Kauai has to offer in terms of it’s history, culture, nature, and weather. We woke up at 6am and didn’t make port again until 1pm and it was totally worth it and something I would love to do again in the future should we return to the island. 

One of my favorite memories on our tour/snorkeling was seeing the dolphins swim right up to our boat; almost like they were swimming with us. I did the whole swimming with dolphins thing as one of my excursions when I went on a cruise, but nothing compares to seeing them in the wild. 




These wild chickens were absolutely hilarious. They are literally everywhere on Kauai and have become a symbol of sorts for the island. It was just fun to see them roaming around and getting a glimpse of the hens and her chicks. Apparently a number of years ago there was a terrible hurricane that ravaged the island and all of these chickens and roosters got free. It proved too difficult to try and capture all of them and after they began reproducing rapidly Hawaii just allowed them to be free-roaming chickens. I learned that there’s even a $500 fine for harassing the chickens on the island!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my favorite five things from my trip! Be sure to linkup your blog below and share what you’re five favorites are from your week!


You Probably Don’t Know

6.18.2015

Hi! Today I’m stopping by for a quick moment to share with you some things you may not know about me. It’s hard sometimes to really get to know a blogger simply by reading their posts and following them along on social media. However, I’m sure you could gather a lot about me on my Instagram alone. If you have no idea what I’m talking about you can follow along here.

Helene In Between is one of my favorite blogs to read because she writes to the point, her posts read as if you’re having a conversation with here face-to-face, and her posts tend to be very thought provoking or just plain fun. Today she’s hosting a linkup where you can share a little bit about yourself - things you probably didn’t know.

Helene in Between

If you’re looking to really get to know more about me, be sure to check back in July when I co-host with Kiki over at In Its Time for The Circle linkup for the July post theme of blogger introductions. To find out more on how to join you can find that here and be sure to join in for June’s prompt: Summer Staples (see my summer essentials here).

Things you probably didn’t know about me...
+ My favorite coffee is an iced caramel macchiato

+ Christmas is by far my most favorite holiday ever. Like, I’m the one wanting to decorate in October and have no shame in my excitement when Target begins putting up Christmas decorations in the summer. The husband tells me I have to wait until after Thanksgiving...boo...

+ I am a foodie, which is a nice way of explaining to people that I’m a fat kid who loves anything about food.

+ I am a home cook. Nothing fancy or special but I’ve fallen in love with finding new recipes and sharing them.

+ I come from a blended family. I have three half-sisters and one half-brother. I’m also the baby of the family...and an ‘oops baby.’

+ I am a fan of exclamation points!

+ I’m obsessed with the Real Housewives and pretty much anything that airs on Bravo. Andy Cohen is a brilliant man.

+ My favorite reading genre is fiction and specifically a good crime mystery. I also love anything Dan Brown.

+ I have a masters in elementary education and a minor in U.S. History and am the biggest history nerd on the planet. I also taught back in VA for three years.

+ I took ASL (American Sign Language) in high school as my foreign language. I eavesdrop on deaf conversations.

+ I got married on June 28, 2014 in Las Vegas.

+ I am learning about wine making by pouring with my husband at a tasting room in Los Olivos. This began as me just being supportive of my husband’s interests, but turned into something really fun and interesting and something we can share together!

+ I love scarves. They’re practically the best accessory in my opinion.

+ I have a secret desire to leave my job and start my own food truck. The movie Chef didn’t help.


Thanks for stopping by! What are some things about you that someone may not know simply by following your blog?

Also...
Be sure to stop by tomorrow to catch up with me when I share my top five moments from my recent vacation to Hawaii for my Five Things Friday linkup!

Summer Staples 2015

6.17.2015

I,  like many thousands of others, count down the days until summer arrives. The only difference between enjoying summer this year compared to last year is, well, on the west coast my summers are a bit off from everyone else. In CA during, what I know as the “summer months,” being June/July/August, are known out here as gloomiest time of the year. No worries though, our hot weather joins us right as we go into October. Crazy, huh?!

Needless to say, Californians must travel away from the coast in order to enjoy a proper summer. Luckily for the hubs and I, we got to do just that. For four days we jetted off to the island of Kauai, Hawaii and I was completely stoked. This was my first experience in Hawaii and believe me, I was counting down the days until we left.

This photo was taken in Turks & Caicos during my husband and I’s first trip a few years ago!
Since I was traveling to my summer this year it was important for me to travel light, smart, and with the basic essentials to ensure a fabulous trip and zero boredom getting there. You know, it’s a direct 6 hour flight. 6 hours in a tin can, people. Here, I have my summer staples for traveling to a beachy vacation with a carry-on. (Read about my other carry-on packing tips here).

one:
Being of Irish blood I have the joy of being of the fairer skin; something the evil queen of Snow White would be envious of. This means I need all the coverage I can get when out in the sun all day and luckily I found this adorable floppy sun hat from the J.Crew Factory!

two:
Having a bathing suit cover-up is an essential piece for any woman who goes to the beach, the pool, on vacation, etc. It’s a lightweight, and adorable, way to get from place to place when visiting anywhere clothing is optional. I practically lived in this while we were vacationing!

three:
Having a few of your favorite books or summer reads is important when traveling. I’ve wanted to finish The Husband’s Secret for over a year now and summer is the perfect time to catch up! Another book I’m interested in reading (after watching the movie) is Unbroken. I loved the movie and have heard amazing things about the book. Lastly, The Goldfinch is another story I’ve heard some buzz about and is rated the number one book club selection on Barnes & Noble. Can’t wait to get some good reading in this summer!

four:
Another essential beach purchase for anyone is a practical beach bag. Now, I’ve selected Longchamp’s Le Pliage backpack for many reasons: 

1. I love this brand. I have two of their tote bags and they’re my babies
2. The quality of their bags are impeccable and last forever 
3. There’s no large logos or otherwise any reason for me (the tourist) to stick out in a new place 
4. It’s waterproof! 
5. It’s the perfect size for taking to the beach or on any excursion during our stay. Plus the backpack allows for hands free movement and security of my personal things
6. and...it’s a bag that we can use back home for traveling or during a weekend getaway

five/six:
Whenever you’re going to be around water of any kind (even if you don’t plan to take your phone in the water) it’s best to invest in a good waterproof case for your phone. I took an obscene amount of pictures and of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g and I wanted a case that’ll protect my phone from water and potential tumbles. 

And a good sunscreen goes without saying (see number one). I personally love Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer sunscreen because it goes on easily and doesn’t feel lotion-y or oily.

seven:
Lastly, my last essential for the beach is a new, and cute, bathing suit. I dress modestly and finding a bathing suit that matches me is very important. I’ve also been blessed with curves and nothing flatters my shape more than an adorable one-piece. I found one similar to this one at my local Target and love it! Not to mention, I love how society is embracing fuller women and providing us with stylish options for one pieces that would fit someone who doesn’t have the body of a pre-pubecent twelve year old. #justsayin

Thanks to The Circle and Kiki over at In It’s Time for hosting this lovely linkup! 
You can find me in July when I co-host with Kiki for the next linkup!

THE CIRCLE LINK-UP

An Interview With My Husband: June Edition

6.15.2015

Philip is my husband and we will have been married for one year on June 28th! I met this handsome fellow in a bar back in Alexandria, VA and knew right then, and after a few Snake Bites later, that this  man was the one. Philip is someone I can be my complete and uncensored self with, someone I can laugh with until it hurts, someone who shares in my passions and desires, and someone who simply completes me. And you don’t find that kind of love just anywhere.

Today I want to share a little of my husband with you all in the form of an interview. Each month I send him ten questions that vary and wait eagerly for his response. I am almost always surprised by his honest answers, which makes this process so much fun!


1. I know you love food. What are your top 5 favorite foods, with the most favorite first?
This is probably the one question I will have to keep revisiting if I must narrow it down to 5.  Honestly, it would be easier to tell you the foods I DON’T like.  I guess I’ll start with the things I really miss when I can’t get them or go a long period without:

                  1. Hitching Post steak in Casmalia
                  2. Tri Tip sandwich from Cold Springs Tavern
                  3. Really good caviar with all the accoutrements (cause I likes to be fancy sometimes)
                  4. Fried chicken from Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans
                  5. Jerk chicken from any roadside stand in Negril, Jamaica – I still dream of it

2. Where in the world would you love to visit next? What about that place appeals to you the most?
Again, another difficult question.  Traveling is one thing that first opened my eyes to how small my life is (but, not in a bad way).  It makes me appreciate the differences in all of us and makes me want to live as others do.  The only bittersweet moment I’ve had with the thoughts of our differences is that no matter how hard I try, I will never be a local in another country.  I wasn’t raised there.  I don’t understand their ways and that is something you cannot fake.

But back to the question (and this is tricky now as opposed to a number of years ago when I was single, didn’t have a puppy that I constantly worry about, and was much more reckless).  I’m leaning towards France, but that would be to LIVE, not just visit.  Have to go with Australia.  I’ve known since I was a kid that a kangaroo would definitely make an awesome friend.  No doubt.  I’ve always had a fascination and I hope that deep down I will feel like I did when I was a kid when I visit.  (That actually happened when I visited England and it was an amazing feeling – set my wanderlust in motion)

3. Do you have a bucket list? Why or why not? What would be on your bucket list if you did have one?
I do and I don’t.   There are things I definitely want to do, but those goals are always changing.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I’m just not as interested in some things like I used to be – for example, I always wanted to party in Ibiza.  Now, not so much.  Or maybe, the more things I do and places I see, the less I’m easily enthused.  I hope that isn’t so.  I don’t ever want to get bored.  Here are a few things:
                  1. Have children (absolutely #1)
                  2. Break the sound barrier
                  3. Stay in an over-the-water bungalow in the South Pacific
                  4. Drive sports car that costs more than the house I grew up in
                  5. Own a Porsche
                  6. Speak French and Spanish fluently
                  7. Attend a Formula 1 race in person (specifically Monaco)
                  8. Dip my timepiece in every ocean (just 2 more to go!)

4. What makes you feel fulfilled?
Simple.  Being a husband to you and a father to our Murphy dog.  Feeling needed gives me purpose.   It changed how I saw myself and also made me vulnerable.  I’ve never liked feeling vulnerable and constantly thinking about the most important woman/puppy in my life makes me worry more than I ever did about myself, but it gives me focus and that makes me happy.

5. When was the last time you cried (or shed a tear)?
About a week ago when you showed me pictures of people spending their last moments/days with their pets that were going to be put down.  I held Murphy close and felt bad for getting mad at him earlier in the day for something dumb.  I cried harder than I had in a while.  Harder than I expected I would.  And that was just with regards to Murphy.  I worry about you every. single. day.  And I have no idea why – probably because the thought of not having you would traumatize me.  Funny thing is, before getting married to a wonderful woman and having an awesome puppy, I hardly ever cried.  Now it seems like my heart is outside of my body.  That’s something I was not prepared for.  Before, I was invincible.  Now, I’m sensitive to animals, children, and those born disabled more than ever – (basically those that can’t fend off the world by themselves).  I’m not ashamed.  I just wasn’t prepared for all the feels.

**For perspective: here’s the article I showed him via Buzzfeed. Bring tissues. Lots of them.

6. At what times do you need assurance of my love the most?
This usually happens when I’m feeling lost professionally.  Sometimes work gets me down or I don’t feel like I have a purpose despite having steady employment.  If I’m not feeling fulfilled outside of the home, I become sensitive.

7. Putting aside money or time, if you could have one thing what would it be?
Health.  Without that, money and time mean almost nothing.

8. Where do you think we will be in 5 years?
My vision consists of us with our little ones running around with Murphy on the beach.  At least one.  Probably two by that point.  My hair will hopefully still be black J and we’re very happy.  If we can make it work, I would love to stay in California.  Like I said, as long as I can afford it, I want to stay.  My career honestly isn’t something I focus on in our future.  I know it should be, but things have a way of working out.  I’m sure I’ll be employed doing something, but what I do is not who I am. 

9. What is your all-time favorite TV show to watch? What about that show makes it your favorite?
I would have to say Californication.  Although, that was really before we moved to California.  I had a love affair with this state and always hoped we make it out here and when I watched the show, I felt like I was back.  Also, when the show originally aired, I really related to the main character – self-loathing, drank too much, didn’t have direction.  It was a darker time for me, but I took solace in that.  Now, life is too good to be unhappy. Also, I’m a big fan of any travel show that Anthony Bourdain is on.  If he’s in it, I’m watching.

10. What is your favorite memory of us?
Another good question, because I have many and I don’t think I could narrow it down to one.  Our wedding day is the first memory that comes to mind, but our first trip together to New Orleans is a good one too because it kinda set “us” in motion.  There’s the time we went to the airport to pick up Murphy for the first time, and the first time we went to Turks and Caicos and I got to see you check off “white sand and clear water” from your bucket list (that was very fulfilling to me).

...and he even had a few questions for me.

1. How have you changed since you met me? Since we've been married?
In more ways than I can count. But, if I had to choose the most important thing about myself that has changed, it’s my self-value. You’ve given me confidence in myself and in our relationship by how you treat me, how you show you love me, and the unconditional support you give me every single day. I’ve learned how to love myself because of the way you love me. 

2. Gotta ask you the 5 favorite foods as well ;) but you gotta be SUPER specific (not just "sushi" - what kind and from where).
Haha oh don’t you know me so well. Hmmm...well, piggy-backing off the first question I do have to say that one way I have changed since being married to you is the exposure to a variety of cuisines and flavors over the years so luckily picking my 5 aren’t too difficult.


1. Sushi Taro | Washington, D.C. & NOBU | Malibu, CA
Okay, I had to mention sushi at least once here. You’ve always told me that when the locals eat somewhere you know it’s good. This is especially true for sushi. Practically anywhere sushi can be found but it’s not always a good thing (i.e. when I got sick from sushi in Ojai). Sushi Taro was always something we looked forward to when we lived in D.C. and their assortment of fresh fish was absolutely delicious.

I also chose to slide in NOBU for the obvious reasons. It’s sushi, my all-time favorite, but it’s also one of my first introductions to California with you. I may not have seen any celebrities (unless you count Kenny G) but the sushi and cocktails definitely keeps you coming back.

2. The Inn at Little Washington | Washington, VA
Because of you I have grown to learn what a tasting menu is and it happens to be the best invention ever. So for this one it’s not one particular food, however, it’s the culmination of foods I get to try with a tasting menu. I am always surprised by the quality and presentation of food at The Inn and I love that you first took me there for my birthday as a surprise. It’s one of my favorite memories with you (especially when they put my name on the menu!).

3. Estadio | Washington D.C.
I chose Estadio for many reasons but in regards to my favorite foods it’s their cheese & cured meat charcuterie plate. This was one of your favorite places to dine when living in D.C. and was amongst the first day-dates I had with you. This was the beginning of a food exploration relationship and I was excited to be along for the ride. Before you, I had no idea what charcuterie was and how delicious this concept was. Meat and cheese? On a plate? As an appetizer? Yes, please! Another favorite and worth mentioning: their tapas and sangria!

4. Rice by Mama | Ventura, CA
This is obvious and I think it can be credited as both of our favorites. Although I stick to either the crab fried rice or red curry with chicken, and you’re more exploratory of their menu, Rice by Mama is the best Thai food I think I’ve ever had. This is also compared to Lotus of Siam in Vegas (I know, but I think RbM is better). I love that it’s within walking distance and you’re up for it practically all the time like me.

5. Casa Rio | The Riverwalk | San Antonio, TX
Every single time we visit home with your family I HAVE to get Casa Rio for their enchilada plate. I know it’s a bit of a silly tradition but I’ve been doing it with you ever since I first came to TX to meet your family. And although I’m not a Texas native, it’s my little tradition I share with you and your family and something I look forward to continue with our babies. Besides, who WOULDN’T want a massive serving of cheese, sour cream, and guac on their enchilada?!  And don’t forget the river ducks.

3. What do you see in our future in the short and long term?  Children, living location, etc.
Our future has many things and children are definitely in the picture. I imagine two; a boy and a girl. We are living along the coast, much like we are now. I love our life as it is and I can’t wait to see how it will unfold for us. I also see traveling. Venturing all over the world. I love that we set a travel jar and was just able to begin scratching places off our list. 

4. What is your favorite memory of us?

Hmm...that’s a hard one. It’s true that I have many favorites and to narrow it down to just one almost diminishes the many other memories I have of us. But, if I had to choose just one it would have to be learning to two-step with you when we were back in Texas the first time. There’s nothing that can adequately describe the feeling of giddy-ness (is that even a word?) and to put it simply: fun I have with you when we’re dancing together. We don’t do it often, but when we’re dancing everything else melts away and for that moment it’s just the two of us, in sync, and enjoying that moment together.

5. What has been the most surprising feeling/event you've experienced since we've been together?


The excitement of moving. We did a lot of it, especially when we lived in D.C./VA and although it’s quite the process to do, it’s invigorating at the same time. I’m someone who grew up and stayed in the same place her entire life; always being within a 20-30 minute drive from family. I had always wanted to travel and knew that a world was out there waiting to be explored, however, it was being with you and your nature of not being able to sit still long enough that has truly made this life exciting and filled with adventure and memories. I love where we are now, but I look forward to the opportunities we can travel or live in different places and experience new things together. So, I would say our life of constant motion is the most welcoming surprise I’ve experienced since we’ve been together.


I loved interviewing my husband and can’t wait to see what’s in store in July!

Getting The Most Out Of Your Stitch Fix

6.11.2015

Stitch Fix is simply the best subscription service available today. I first began receiving my fixes in 2014 and continue to love how easy it is to shop and discover new brands and items I otherwise may not have chosen for myself. For a $20 styling fee you receive 5 hand-picked pieces from clothing to bags and accessories shipped right to your door. You have the convenience of trying on your fixes from the privacy of your own home and have three days to make a decision on what you’d like to keep or send back. Best part: return shipping is provided...even if you don’t keep a thing!

When you first sign up you complete what they call a style profile. Here you answer some questions regarding your personal style, which gives them an idea as to what you’d like to receive. But that’s not all. Here are simple ways that you can guarantee to love each and every one of your fixes!

There are affiliate links within this post.

Complete your style profile
Like I mentioned before, when you first create your free profile they will prompt you to fill out a style profile. This let’s your future stylists know a detailed run-down of your style preferences, measurements, and things to stay away from such as certain fabrics or patterns.

Create a style board on Pinterest
This step is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your stylist gets the looks that you love. 


Write descriptions of the things you pin
This step does take a bit of time to do but it’s so worth it in the end. I know, when I’m pinning I’m pinning first then going back later and writing my little stylist notes. I try to be as specific as possible in my explanation in why I’m pinning this to my board. I try to think about the photo and what I like most about it and what I would need in order to pull it off. Also, be sure to mention pieces you already have. I made sure to get across that the focus of the circled pin was the dress and not so much the accessories like the tote or denim jacket.

For example:
This maxi dress looks gorgeous but I know with my pear-shaped body type I need a similar maxi that’s preferably cotton or stretchy, not form-fitting. I love the floral pattern and would like the dress to be floor length, not ankle. I know in order to achieve this look the dress will have to be a size L or even XL depending on the material. We’ll see if this makes it into my next fix ;)


Send a detailed note every time you schedule a fix
When you go to schedule your next fix there’s a box where you can write a little note to your stylist that gives them an idea of what you’re looking for next. This is where you get really specific about what you need that month. Is there a special occasion coming up? A trip? Or that one favorite piece that’s missing from your closet? Share it and get specific!

For example:
I’m loving maxi dresses right now but due to maxis from previous fixes that haven’t been flattering at all, I need to get more specific in my notes. I also mentioned that fit and flare dresses are the most flattering style for my body type and that I was looking to add more colorful/print dresses into my look. I’m hoping that when my fix arrives I have a few dresses to choose from!
Link to your social media accounts
Just like they tell you, share yourself with your stylist by linking up your social media accounts. This gives them an idea of who you are and what you’re looking to add to your wardrobe. 

Now that you have these helpful tips, schedule your first fix today! I would love and appreciate it if you used my affiliate link (here). Once you create your own account and fill out your style profile, you can also begin sharing your affiliate link and earn credits towards your own fixes!

Prenuptial Agreements: Are They Such a Bad Thing?

6.09.2015

Tis the season for weddings and engagements and even my husband and I are coming up on our one year wedding anniversary this month. With wedding season in full gear one topic that doesn’t get much table-talk are prenuptial agreements.

I was inspired by an episode of Marry Me, a cute sitcom on NBC. If you’re not familiar, it follows a young couple, Annie and Jake, who had been dating for six years and after a vacation together, and might I add many opportunities for a proposal, Annie finally breaks down and wonders why Jake won’t propose after all their years together. Luckily he does (E 1)...but it’s a show that provides a hilarious perspective on the romantic issues real couples experience during their courtship. Such a shame this show was cancelled...

Nonetheless, while catching up on an episode entitled Annicurser-Me (S1 E4), the wheels in my mind began turning. This episode tells the story of how they believe their first-date-iversary is cursed. If you haven’t watched this episode you need to...again, it’s hilarious. However, there was a topic that was brought up that caught my attention. Prenuptial Agreements. In this episode Annie freaks out that Jake had a copy of a prenup hidden in a desk and she assumes it’s for them (no spoilers here- promise!). She was so taken aback at the thought of having one or that Jake would even consider getting one with her.

So, here’s my question...

Are prenuptial agreements such a bad thing?



Yay you’re engaged! That moment you’ve been thinking about forever has finally happened and now you’ve adopted a newly minted title in your relationship: fianc√©. I agree, the idea of drafting up a contractual agreement doesn’t necessarily spell out love and planning for a divorce is definitely not something one thinks about right when they get engaged.

Why would anyone want to plan for a marriage to fail before they even get married? 

At least this is the common question, that I’ve even asked myself, prior to getting married. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a look at what exactly a prenup is:

Prenuptial Agreement: A contractual agreement entered into before marriage by both parties with terms and conditions as to handling property, finances, children, etc. in the event of a divorce.

Preparing A Marriage
Everyone prepares for the worst in many different ways such as life insurance, establishing a will and testament, or even purchasing family plots before death. Now, those are morbid examples, I know, but nonetheless we want to be prepared for the event that something happens to us and that our family is taken care of and doesn’t have to worry about settling the finances in a time of grief.

The same idea can be applied in marriages. In the event that you would ever have to go through something like a divorce, which I would never wish for anyone, it’s best to have the important matters such as finances, property, or even pets or children be settled beforehand. That way it’s an easy, and hopefully clean, separation for both people involved and friendships can be amicably maintained.

Pros Of A Prenup
The great part about prenups is that they outline EXACTLY what you want based on the notion that it is 100% agreed to by both you and your spouse. For us, we decided that if we were married for 10+ years that our prenup would be voided. This just continues to solidify the foundation of our marriage and that we, in fact, plan to be in this for the long haul and marriage is not a decision we made lightly or without thought and discussion.

Prenups can be amended and changed over time. Just because you have a prenup doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone and things can’t be added or changed. As long as both partners 100% agree to the new terms, your prenup can be altered to reflect changes to your family such as the addition of children.

Prenups aren’t just about the money. You don’t need to have a six-figure+ income to warrant a prenup before marriage. Sometimes it’s not about the money. The terms of your prenup are created collaboratively and agreed to by you and your spouse.

Most importantly, discussing whether or not a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your partner actually forces you to talk about the important things in your relationship prior to getting married. You can look on any before wedding checklists and they will all tell you to be honest and open with each other about certain, and sometimes awkward, topics like finances, religion, kids, etc. Discussing the terms of your prenup gives you the platform to have these conversations and decide, as a family-to-be, what works for the both of you. Maybe you both decide it’s not something you want or need, but at least having the conversation is important and the proper first step.

In the end, a prenup was a logical place to start for Philip and I to have the discussions that were important to us as a couple and eventual husband and wife. So, after you get the chance to change that Facebook status, talk with your fianc√© about whether or not a prenup is right for you. With that being said, every relationship is different and there are varying opinions about the subject. I would love to hear what you think about prenups. Do you find them good, bad, or unnecessary in a marriage? 


Also, check out these articles that talk more about the topic of prenups and it’s pros and cons:



My Obsession With Chicken & Waffles

6.08.2015

It wasn’t until I moved out to California that all of a sudden I’ve had a major craving for the best comfort food around: chicken & waffles. Years ago I had always heard of the dish but it had never appealed to me. So what? Chicken with waffles? How does the two even go together?

Oh what I was missing out on!
The combination of sweet and savory will always be elements that just go together. There’s something about the fluffy waffles paired with crispy fried chicken and a maple syrup dripped all over it that will always have a place in my foodie heart. Luckily with the age of Pinterest there are plethoras of ways to create this fun food at home, whether it’s in its original form or a cupcake. The possibilities are endless and it’s been fun seeing how even different restaurants play with this popular dish.

Since my inner fat-kid is coming out all over this post today, I wanted to share with you my obsession with the comfort food and some of my personal favorite spots to get a great meal of chicken, waffles, or a combination of the two. I begin in my home state of Virginia and work my way across the U.S. to where I currently reside in central-California.

Evening Star Cafe | Del Rey, VA
My very first C&W experience was in a small little town in Alexandria, VA called Del Rey. We lived only minutes away at the time and Evening Star Cafe is a must if you are looking for crispy chicken and delicious, fluffy waffles.

Birch & Barley | 14th St NW, Washington, D.C.
14th street has blown up since we moved from U St and it’s now flooded with luxury apartments, up-and-coming bars and restaurants, and a whole new flock of young professional inhabitants. While my husband lived there he checked out Birch & Barley's Sunday brunch and, yep, C&W made the list! Every time I’ve been their food has been great and they boast a 555 artisanal beer selection for your enjoyment.

Willie Mae’s Scotch House | New Orleans, LA
My husband took me here for the first time when we were only just dating and I was a bit skeptical since it’s off the beaten path and in, what looked like, a not so friendly neighborhood. However, putting all that aide, Willie Mae’s fried chicken is simply the best fried chicken I have ever had. Ever. Now, they don’t do C&W but their chicken alone is enough of a reason to pay this little eatery a visit. It’s no frills but definitely worth a visit on your next trip to NOLA.

Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles | Inglewood, CA
The next time you are visiting L.A. skip the In-N-Out and head to Roscoe’s to scratch that C&W itch you may be having. It’s a highly popular destination for this comfort food...it’s even in the name of the place...but you know it’ll be good decision. Besides, you can get In-N-Out practically all over CA (and I actually prefer The Habit) but Roscoe’s is only found in the L.A. area.

Clementine’s Steak House | Carpinteria, CA
Clementine’s is like stepping into the home of your favorite grandparents. The decor is charming and gives you a sense of being a guest in the home of the owners. Come hungry because the portions are family-style and come in plenty. Oh, and I can’t even begin to describe their homemade pies. However, the choice for me is their crispy fried chicken. I know it’s a steak house, and their steaks are great, but it’s the chicken that has me going back for more.

Seven Bar & Kitchen | Santa Barbara, CA
If you find yourself up in Santa Barbara for some wine tasting in the Funk Zone, be sure to get a seat (even at the bar like we did) at Seven Bar & Kitchen and enjoy some fine cocktails, chicken & waffles, and good company to end your evening. It gets packed towards the end of the night but dinner is worth the wait! Their C&W are more bite-sized, which is great for munching after a long day of wine tasting/drinking.

Sides Hardware & Shoes | Los Olivos, CA
Bear with me, Sides is more than hardware and shoes like their name suggests. This restaurant is tucked away in Los Olivos, a wine tasting community in Santa Barbara County, where after an afternoon of tasting you’re bound to hit one of their lovely eateries. Make sure Sides is on your list for lunch or dinner where you can sample their fried chicken sandwich, which is amazing, or just their plain fried chicken at dinnertime. Again, you won’t find waffles here but their chicken stands on it’s own in my opinion. Get your choice of yummy sides and you’ll be back for more on your next visit.

Can you tell how much I love chicken & waffles?! I am always on the lookout for new spots to try and put to my C&W test. So, if you love them like I do or know of a place I absolutely need to try, be sure to leave me the place in the comments.

However, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive list curated by professionals, be sure to check out America’s Best Chicken and Waffles by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Next on my list...
My husband and I will be visiting Las Vegas and meeting up with good friends over the 4th of July weekend and a couple spots that are calling my name to try are:


Want to make easy waffles at home to pair with your favorite fried chicken? Here’s a fun recipe I played with over the weekend, which turned out delicious and exactly what I needed to satisfy my craving.


This recipe is based on the original waffle recipe here.
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large yolks of an egg
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk or half & half
  • non-stick cooking spray
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, grease a mini-muffin tin and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and egg yolks until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in milk (or half & half), vanilla extract, and melted butter.
  4. Combine egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix well to make the batter.
  5. Using a tbsp measuring spoon, fill mini-muffin tin until batter is used.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
  7. Serve immediately with your favorite fried chicken and maple syrup for dipping.