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can i let you in on a little secret?
b and i are headed to the airport this evening to spend 10 days in thailand.
i couldn’t be more excited. i have been wanting to visit thailand for many years and it is finally happening! we plan to hit up three different cities and explore everything that thailand has to offer.

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so basically i will be mia next week.
i want to soak in this wonderful country and spend time with my husband. it will be my and b’s first time to asia. let the adventure begin!

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weekend recap

we started the weekend festivities a little early on thursday evening by heading over to our local tree lot to pick out our fresh christmas tree.
i have grown up with a live christmas tree and it has always been one of my favorite traditions to pick a new one out every year.
b grew up with fake christmas trees but he now sees the error in his ways.
i love the smell, the tradition and the diversity of picking out a christmas tree every year.
i do envy those that can just whip out their pre lit christmas tree and start decorating on a whim and maybe i will give into fakery once we have a family and water is being spilled everywhere but for now a tiny live tree it is.

i begged my parents every year to get a flocked christmas tree.
growing up in southern california you never really see snow so you gotta take what you can get. they always denied my request– claiming it is too much of a mess. now i beg b every year and he has the same response…

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well at least i can hideaway in a forest of flocked trees and pretend i am in narnia for 30 seconds.

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that tiny beauty is our tree for the season. i love how full and shapely it was for being so small in height. b loved that it could fit in our trunk.

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this season makes me giddy.

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on friday, we went out to los gatos for dinner with our friends. following dinner, we decided to make gingerbread houses. i have only ever made gingerbread houses with graham crackers so this was an extra special treat.

great friends + excellent thai food + gingerbread house constructing = one perfect friday night in december.

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saturday it was time to christmas shop and decorate the tree. i think i may have overestimated the amount of christmas lights i needed to fill a 2 foot tree…

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i think christmas crafts may be one of my favorite parts of the season. this sunday was filled with fresh rosemary wreaths and a pom pom garland.

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& my sunday night was completely made by our darling friends who brought over home baked sugar cookies. yummmmm. i may or may not have eaten two right away.

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and those cute coasters are from ikea. who would have thought?

how was your weekend?

Let’s Fall for Fall: Fall Bucketlist

i’m baaaaack!

what do you think of the new blog set up? there are still a few kinks we are sorting through but would love to hear your feedback!

anyways, let’s move on to the biggest subject in the blogging world right now…FALL.
I adore fall. my love for fall grew when i moved to utah for school and got to experience all four seasons (growing up in southern california you don’t really notice the season change).
i love sweaters, pumpkins, apples, cuddling and costumes.  i love brisk nights and warm fires. i love seeing the leaves change colors. i love how it starts off the holiday season.

i decided to create a fall bucketlist this year and hope to check everything off before december. i notice when i have some sort of game plan or list, i always get more things done and have a more memorable season.  cheers to fall 2014!

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what is on your fall bucket list?

Family Matters

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Family is a funny thing sometimes. I grew up with three sisters and am number three of four. I have always really loved my sisters but, felt like we were all so incredibly different while we were growing up. We even look incredibly different.
My two older sisters and little sister are all extremely intelligent and musically gifted. I, on the other hand, got by in school (above average, but no where near my sisters’ level) and cared more about my social life. In high school, I lived for my friends. Every second of every day was devoted to those friends of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I would hang with my family when necessary but, never made it a true priority. And now looking back, I completely regret it. I still love my friends but, families are forever.
Now we are to that point where age doesn’t matter and we all enjoy similar things. Sure we each have our quirks, but we all love being together. Living away has made me realize how important my family is to me. I long for the days when we are all together. Each of my sisters now live in another city and I probably see them 3-4 times a year (in a good year).
B and I always talk about how when we do decide to start our family, our one desire would be to raise our children by family. I would kill to live near my sisters right now and see their little ones every day. I would kill to have girls nights with my mom and sisters. I would kill to have family dinners on Sundays.
All I can do is count down the days till we are reunited in Palm Springs (only one more week!).

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I can’t forget the wonderful family I married into. They are what made me think about how much I would love to have family surrounding me. My two brothers in law and a cousin in law came to visit us this weekend. It meant the world to me that they would drive 12 hours each way to spend a weekend with us. We soaked up every minute we had with them and laughed until we cried more than once. I could tell B was in heaven being around his brothers again. My heart is full being around my family.  We are so blessed to have family that takes time and money to see us..
B’s sister is even coming out this weekend with her little family to visit us. It will be another great family filled weekend. I wish it would last forever.

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For now I will savor every moment we have as a couple on an adventure making a name for ourselves like we always wanted to do.

Oh and those beautiful family pictures up there were done over Christmas by my amazing bff and talented photographer, Alex Steele. Aren’t the colors of the photos incredible? If you are a Chicago dweller, you must look her up.

Linked: Treat Yo Self

Fearless

Fear (noun): A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid

I would not say I live in fear but I do have a few big fears (hope I am not alone on this).
One of those fears is needles. I really can’t pinpoint when this fear began but it is one of my biggest. The thought of needles gets me squirmish. I have been avoiding shots and giving blood like the plague. I even put my dreams of venturing to India and Africa on the back burner because I found out there are mandatory vaccinations before traveling. I can’t explain my irrational behavior when it comes to needles, I just know the fear that strikes in my heart.

Recently, B recommended we get life insurance (sure we are a little young but it is better to plan ahead!). I was completely on board until we spoke with our agent who mentioned there would have to be blood work done. I asked if a simple prick of the finger would suffice and he said no. In order to move forward I would have to provide a substantial blood sample for testing. I debated if this was really necessary. I pleaded to Ben to not make me do this because I didn’t know if I could. This sounds so pathetic as I write, but when you have fear it is sometimes hard to think rational.
B encouraged me to face my fear. He said I couldn’t let the fear of something dictate my life. I agreed and set an appointment for the physical. Three or four days before the exam I started having nightmares. I can’t remember all the little details, but I do remember waking up in panic about getting this blood work done.
B thought it would be a good idea to prepare me for what was to come. He pretended to find a vein, wipe my arm with alcohol and prick me with a pen. Although obviously it didn’t hurt, I still had the rush of fear over me and I became emotional.
I was so mad at myself because it seemed so irrational and I couldn’t even pinpoint exactly why I was afraid. My emotions just seemed to take over.
The day of the appointment came and I just focused on my breathing. I started to cry as soon as I entered the examination room. I couldn’t hold it back. I asked the examiner to please begin with the blood work because I could not take the anxiety any longer. She quickly agreed and got to it.
I laid down and had B sit in a chair facing me. I squeezed his hand with all my might. B started to sing to me as the examiner tied my arm and looked for a vein. Before B could even take a picture the examiner was done!

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A weight had been lifted from me. I felt on top of the world.
Now I am not saying I am gonna go out and get a tattoo or sign up for the next blood drive but I am saying I can do it (with B singing to me of course). I won’t let this fear dictate me any longer. I can get the vaccinations to travel to Africa and India.
I am renewed.

Now on to conquering the rest of the fears on the list…
What are some of your biggest fears?

Four Things To Do On The Fourth

1. Get your hands on some sparklers (which may be hard to come by in CA) and have your own firework show!
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2. Host a BBQ or eat BBQ style food
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3. Enjoy a local parade
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4.Remember what living in America means to you
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B and I are headed a couple hours south to Pismo Beach tonight and I am very excited but a little nervous! Did I tell you? B convinced me to go camping. I have always detested camping, but the places I have traveled to in the past have been less than stellar so it’s time to give it another go. Technically you could consider our situation “glamping” since we will be posted at a local farm/ranch where they provide complimentary coffee/tea, hot showers, air mattresses, ocean views and a fire pit! I think B is trying to warm me up for many more camping experiences…

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 Have a great Fourth ya’ll and God Bless America!

 Linked to: Treat Yo’ Self

Best Fourth of July Eats

I love love love the Fourth of July. It is a great time to get together with family and friends and celebrate this great nation! I am so grateful for the freedoms I participate in on a daily basis (like the freedom of speech and religion). And one of my favorite parts about this great holiday is the great eats.
Growing up, my family and I always celebrated the fourth at a beach with close friends. As you can imagine the beach was always packed and you had to get there pretty early to reserve a spot, but it is the best place to celebrate. It was sun bathing / ocean swimming during the day and then in the late afternoon all the families would bring a different entree to share in a potluck. There always seemed to be a never ending supply of fresh fruit, pasta salad, hamburgers, hot dogs, sweet treats and good company. And eating all of this goodness as the sun is setting over the ocean is serene.  I live for days like this.
Sadly, I have not been able to participate in this joyous gathering for a couple years now due to living so many miles away. But, the spirit of my childhood fourth of Julys lives on in my need for good food and sandy hair.
Here is what I am planning on cooking up this Fourth of July!

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What is your favorite part of the Fourth? I also love cuddling up to my love and enjoying the fireworks.
Fireworks always seems more magical when they are gazed at on the beach so I convinced B that this year the 4th will have to be celebrated properly. We are heading down to Pismo Beach on Thursday evening and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Celebrating a New Mom

 As I mentioned in my earlier post, I was able to travel down to Southern California to attend my best friend’s baby shower. Alex and I have been friends since age 6 I believe. We went to the same church and grew an unshakable bond. There are ups and downs in any friendship (especially going through your pre-teen / teen years) but through these ups and downs  I knew in my heart that I would never want to lose this friend of mine.
On multiple occasions we have been asked if we were sisters or twins (I secretly loved this because I always wanted a twin). We, coincidentally, married our lovers one week apart (which could have caused competition and hurt feelings when I think about it, but there was only love). She stood by my side in my wedding and I by hers. Alex tells it exactly as it is and I treasure her honesty to me.

Nine months ago when Alex called me and told me she had to tell me something, I instantly knew she was pregnant. I could not have been more excited for her. But since there are many miles between us, I only was able to see her once during her pregnancy. She looked amazing of course (no matter how rough it was). Even seeing that belly of hers didn’t make it real to me. Everything was still the same from my point of view.
Then I got a text and picture on June 3 (8 days past her due date) that little Eleanor Steele was born. I can’t even explain the rush of emotion that came over me.
Mind you, I had never truly thought about motherhood before this day. I knew it would happen someday but that someday would be far into the future. I was not ready to settle down. The thought of motherhood made me super nervous and uncomfortable.  But seeing this friend who I love dearly with a babe in her arms made me cry instantly. I could not have been prouder. Motherhood for me could not have felt more real and something to strive for (still not saying I am ready but I now am more open to it).
I got teary eyed because I knew how extremely lucky Eleanor was to have my amazing friend as a mother. To have a mother so strong in her beliefs, so creative, so real and so fun to be around.

Now, I still don’t know when I will be ready for motherhood but I know it is a gift and a blessing. It is a struggle and a learning experience. It will refine me into my best self.

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I know this is getting a little personal, but this blog is also my outlet.
I have never been so overcome by one picture. Seeing my friend become a mother, rocked my world a little bit. All our life monuments thus far have been together but this is all her. And that made me realize it could and will be me one day in the future.

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PS What do you think… could we still pass off as twins?

Happy First Day of Summer!

Hope you all had a lovely first day of Summer. B and I spent ours in Santa Cruz picking strawberries and lunching with friends (details to come). It was, unfortunately, freezing in Santa Cruz but that didn’t stop us!

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How did you celebrate your first official day of Summer?

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I have a serious case of wanderlust (especially on Mondays). Lately, all I can think about is the next adventure I am able to go on with my love (which aside from our weekend explorations probably won’t be till August). I even try to convince B to quit our jobs and travel the world for the next couple months (but I know I could never really do this and our bank account could never really do this). But, I can daydream. I can daydream about walking around Brussels, enjoying the sights of Rio de Janerio and basking in the sun in Indonesia. My travel bucket list just keeps getting longer and longer the more books I read. Oh the places I hope to go!

What is on your travel bucket list?