Sunday, July 31, 2011

Steppin' Out Saturday

Saturday we stepped out for a weekend trip to the river with dear friends.  We left
our phones and computers behind and drove to south Louisiana for a peaceful time on
the water.  I could feel my grandmother smiling down on me: big floppy hat, pearl
earrings, cotton floral dress, baby on my hip and another in my skirt.
Seriously channeling my inner Southern Belle this weekend.
Here's what we wore for our little getaway:
More photos and stories to share once we shake all the sand off!
Have a blessed week dear friends!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I've done a lot of soul searching this week, reflecting on my life and where I am.  Our family 
is in a transitional phase as we navigate through new jobs, new schedules, reprioritizing.   
We are gathering pieces from our previous journey and carrying them with us as we 
start anew.  We are banding together as only our little tribe can and setting down new 
roots, preparing the soil of our foundation for a fresh collection of memories, building a 
safe haven where our souls can rest.  And in the midst of all this, I find myself delving 
inside my heart just a little deeper, focusing intently on the space we have created 
for ourselves.
I've always been a glass half full kind of person, looking at life through a positive lens.
And that's not because my life has been easy.  It hasn't been.  I've suffered loss,
tragedy, trials that have tested me and who I am.  But something inside me always leads
me back to the root of what's important: love.  Having true love in the relationships you
keep, giving love to each person you meet, loving what you do and doing it to the
fullest.  Having that outlook and believing in the power of a strong heart carries me
through, even when I think life impossible.
I am a work in progress, a life long dreamer.  I wish on stars every night and write out
goals in my journal each week, hoping and praying for contentment.  I allow myself
no excuses, there is no reason to NOT be happy, no reason to live each day without
regret.  This is life: no matter the outcome, it is yours and no one else's.  What am I going to
do with that reality?  How am I going to take advantage of each and every aspect that is
ME, turning the impossible into my own personal triumph?
So here I am on this lovely Saturday, reflecting on the opportunity I have to make my
life everything it could ever be, just through the power of my own positive thinking, by
living my life centered and fueled by love.

This is me, taking the bull by the horns.
{Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow.}
~Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Aging Gratefully

This weekend we celebrated my 32nd birthday with a good 'ole fashioned slumber party
with some of my very best girlfriends.  It was an amazing, relaxing weekend filled with
soul baring conversation and tummy aching laughter.  We ate until our bellies almost
burst, stayed up late into the night, and reflected on how lucky we are to have each other.
I can not imagine a more perfect way to celebrate my special day.
{Mandy, Summer, Liv and Belle, Meredith, Jessica}
As the years go by and our lives become more and more full due to growing families
and careers, these moments together do not come as often as we would like.  So, when we
are blessed with the opportunity to spend time together and have a night to just be silly
and free, we make the absolute most of it.  We always pick up right where we left off,
inside jokes flying across the room, secret code words and glances only we could
understand.  I am so blessed to have such amazing friends, to share this love with
women who love me for who I am.

We spent Sunday afternoon sitting around the dining room table, making jewelry
while Jessica's 8 year old son, Cade, played photographer and took a million photos of us.
I love these pictures not only because of the people in them, but because they are from
his innocent perspective.  This is our day, captured by the heart of a little boy watching
his Mama and his honorary aunts celebrate their friendship.
With each passing year, I become more aware of who I am and what kind of mark I want
to leave on each day.  I am surrounded by friends and family who motivate and inspire me
to be the happiest version of myself.  My life is not perfect and neither am I, but I am
wise enough at 32 to know that perfection is over rated.
Being yourself is always your best bet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vloggin' Vednesdays

We are back for another round of Vloggin' Vednesdays today 
and linking up with Adeline's Daddy!

Today's topic: If you could move you and everyone you love to a 
different time and place, where and when would it be? And why?  

Vloggin' Vednesdays

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Girlfriend Guide: Sarah From Sunlight After Rain

This week's edition of the Girlfriend Guide features the lovely Sarah from
Sunlight After Rain, one of the most inspirational blogs out there.  Sarah is so genuinely
kind and loving, I am so happy to call her "friend"!  I hope that you enjoy her take
on girlfriends, these girls are so lucky to have her!
Sunlight After Rain
Honestly? I'm just a 20 year old college girl who is trying to figure out who she is.
I write a lot about my life and the people around me :)
1. Introduce us to your best friend!  When, where, and how did you meet?
You know what? I have had a lot of best friends over the years, so I hate picking just one.
So, I'm going to introduce you to a few instead!
First off is Briana. I met her when I was 11 at an acting camp. We have the same goals in
life (to move to NYC and to try and make a career in acting) and so we've just grown
together over the past nine years. I love our friendship because we can go months
and months at a time without talking and then get dinner together like no time has
passed :)

Secondly, there is Jessica. Jessica and I met when we worked at a supermarket together
in my junior year of high school. I love my friendship with Jessica because we actually
didn't talk for a whole year of our friendship. We let a fight get in between us, but after
about a year of not talking we apologized to each other and worked our issues our - and now
I don't know what I'd do without her!

Thirdly, there is Michelle. Michelle and I are newer friends - while I had always known her
as a fellow theatre major, we never really talked until we worked on a show together
last January. We bonded on a trip to Georgetown Cupcakes and haven't looked back since :) 
2. What is your personal definition of friendship?
Actually, I've thought a lot about this recently. Just a year ago, I had this strong 'group'
of friends centered around my boyfriend at the time. We were all very close and
very involved in each other's lives. However, when we broke up they weren't (and still
aren't) anywhere to be found....Life's funny that way. You think you know who your
friends are and who will be there for you, but then you see how it is. It sucks sometimes -
but, in the end, it really is worth it :) 
3. What qualities do you look for in a girlfriend?
 I really just look for maturity and reciprocity in a friendship. I'm still in college, so
many people around me have a lot of well, drama in their life. I've been lucky enough to
find a group of people who really listen and respect me - and, that's all I really ask for :) 
4. How do you balance spending time with friends and fostering 
relationships with work and family?
As a college kid, I'm very connected to both my phone and my computer. For me, it
really is as simple as sending a text or leaving a post on a wall telling someone to have a
good day or asking them how they are doing. We're lucky enough to live in a day and
age where even though texting someone can be impersonal, it can also be someone's best
tool to help you keep in touch.
5. What advice would you give other women about having healthy, 
happy friendships?
Treat people as you want to be treated. If you want a friend who will listen to you and
be there for you when you have problems, then you have to do the same for them.
6. How has having strong friendships enriched your life?
In the first year of college, I had some horrible friends who didn't really care about me. I
tried so hard to be friends with them - but it was just so destructive to me and my
self-esteem. I got my life together after that, concentrated on myself, and really just
let people come to me after that instead of trying to force it (I make friendships sound
exactly like dating - but in a way it is!) By finding my true friends, it's really helped my
self-esteem. Also, it's just fun to have people to hang out with and talk to every day! :) 
 7. What is your favorite girlfriend memory you have shared? 
My absolute favorite moment was at a friend's birthday party - we all went out to
dinner together and I remember looking around our huge table and feeling so lucky to
have all of these amazing girls in my life :) It's taken a long time to 'find' them, but I'm
so happy they're in my life! 

Thank you so much for sharing, Sarah!!  You have surrounded yourself with positive
people and your life seems to have flourished because of it!  You girls are truly blessed
to have each other!
If you are interested in participating in the Girlfriend Guide, contact me at the
email address below for more information!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Steppin' Out Saturday

This weekend, we stepped out and started my birthday weekend with lunch and tea on
the porch with some of our very best friends.  We feasted on home grown tomatoes
and cucumbers, let the kids run wild under the shady oak trees, and began a
wonderful weekend of girl bonding and celebration.  As a busy, working mama of two,
it's always such a special treat to have someone else cook for me.  And my sweet friends
out did themselves!  I ate enough to feed a family of four.  But hey, it's my birthday, I can
eat if I want to!
Here's what we wore on this lovely summer day:

This lovely bracelet was hand made by the talented Lindsay from Scenic Glory.
I've mentioned her amazing shop before, if you haven't visited yet please do!
The entire accessories collection was inspired by Indian culture and style.  Most
of the products used to create these incredible, one of a kind pieces were
actually purchased directly from India.  I have been wearing this beautiful bracelet
everyday and it is so special to me with all of its hand crafted detail.  Now, if I can
only convince Brees that it is not an appropriate chew toy...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sweet Friday

In anticipation of starting my new job on Monday, I have been enjoying 6 wonderful days
off at home with my family!  I wanted some time to catch up on life and love before diving
in head first to the next phase of my career.  It has been an amazing week of swimming in
our pool, spending time with friends, and long talks on the porch at sunset.  This rest was
so needed as I am feeling a bit anxious about starting over somewhere new.  Regardless of
my experience and confidence in my abilities as a nurse, I am feeling somewhat scared
of learning a whole new skill set.  I have never been a lover of change, even when the
change is needed.  So, having a week off to iron out all the details and recharge my heart
with the love and support of my soul ones has been a blessing.  We plan to spend the
weekend celebrating my 32nd birthday with good food and an old fashioned slumber
party with my very best girlfriends.  As I look around and reflect on my life, I am so
grateful for where I am at 32.  My life is full, my eyes are open, and my heart just gets
bigger with each and every year.
And so, to kick my birthday weekend off right, here are a few posts that made me
smile this week:
  • One of my friends from college, Wade, and his beautiful wife Melissa from The Poole Party have just started a brand new phase in their family's life!!  This post made me so excited for them and I can not wait to watch their new project unfold!!  Nothing warms my heart like seeing good things happen to good people!
  • My sweet friend, Sylvia from Sylvia C. is having her precious baby girl today!!  I can NOT wait to see photos of this long awaited angel , who will also be called "Liv"!!!
  • Wendy from Letters to Hannah has a weekly feature that inspires me to remember to take a few moments to myself every now and then: Mama's Day Off.  Head on over and read about how Wendy spent time rejuvenating her Mama spirit this week.
  • Jessi from The Naptime Diaries wrote the most beautiful tribute to her husband in honor of their sixth wedding anniversary.  It was so touching and allowed me to reflect on how different experiences later serve as lessons that change our lives and relationships for the better.
  • This post by Kris from Oh Happy Miracle had me in tears.  Such a beautiful testimony to the absolute gift that is breast feeding.
  • Melissa from Hi Baby took the most amazing camping trip to the Oregon Coast.  These photos literally had me swooning and made me so excited to pack up our gear and sleep under the stars again soon.
  • Rachael from Letters to Ames wrote an awesome guest post over at Sometimes Sweet all about her marriage centered family.  I love this outlook so much and enjoyed reading all about her date night, it was such a beautiful testimony to how you can still have beautiful, special moments even after adding babies to your repertoire!!
  • Have you seen Erin from My Beautiful Disaster's vacation photos from her road trip through Canada?  You should, they make me want to pack up my car right now and head out onto the open highway!
  • Laura from Splendor shared so much inspiration in this post about how she redecorated her loft space and made it not only creative and fun, but super functional as well.  Wait until you see what she did with some of her antiques, she is one creative, crafty mama!
  • I've been eyeing these necklaces hand made by Mandey from Mama and The Dudes.  They are so lovely and would be the perfect accessory while carrying a teething baby around all day.  Maybe a belated birthday gift for myself?
And speaking of teething, we made a pretty significant discovery this week.  Our little 
lamb, AKA The One Who Wakes Throughout The Night, had a major milestone this 
week, actually four of them, after a few months of teething woes.  Is this supposed to 
happen to 8 month old angels?  Not sure.  Check out our very own Cullen baby below.

As you can see, she is still our smiley, happy lamb, even with vampire teeth.  
Have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Curly Sue For You

My Google reader has recently been filled with posts about the "No Heat Curl Method",
a technique for curling hair that uses only a head band.  I have naturally wavy hair that
tends to get frizzy very easily and, as a result, I have been curling my hair for years in order
to keep the unruliness down.  I own every different type of curler known to man including
hot rollers, sponge curlers, rods, you name it.  I've done pin curls, coke can curls, used
flat irons and various curling irons.  So, imagine my surprise when I tried this no heat
method and achieved the most  beautiful curls yet!  The hype is totally validated!  I
simply watched the extremely thorough video below, wrapped my hair in a head band in
less than 5 minutes, left it in for several hours, and voila: beautiful, soft, non-frizzy curls
that lasted ALL day!  Oh, how I wish I had known about this many split ends and
heat damaged years ago!

I have been using this technique every day since and my hair and free time are
sincerely thanking me.  Wrapping my hair literally takes 5 minutes and then
styling afterward takes two.  It really is that easy.  Here are a few words of advice to
pass on from what I've learned along the way:
1.  I wash my hair, run Matrix firm holding gel through it from crown to tips, and then 
let it air dry completely.  I then wrap my hair in my head band once it is totally dry.  This 
will be most useful for those of you ladies who have really thick hair like myself.  When 
I wrapped it up while it was damp, it NEVER dried and my curls were limp and pitiful.
2. Once wrapped, I sprayed a light coat of hair spray over my entire head, helping to 
hold everything together.
3.  I like lots of curls, so I used small sections of hair and wrapped it very tight.  For 
bigger curls, use bigger sections of hair.  You really can't mess this up.
4.  After removing the head band, I ran a little sculpting cream through my hair.  The key 
to smooth curls that will last all day is PRODUCT.  Not so much that your hair is greasy, 
just a small dime sized amount to hold it all in place.

5.  In the video, she uses a paddle brush to form her curls.  Since I wanted very defined
curls, I used my fingers, no brush.  When I used a brush, the curls were more of a
wave, which is what I have anyway.  They also got a bit frizzy and that is NEVER
attractive.  Experiment with your personal style and texture and use what works
best for you.
I've seen this method used on hair of all lengths and textures and the consensus seems
to be very positive across the board!!  So, what are you waiting for?  Grab a head band
and happy curling!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Girlfriend Guide: Mandy from A Sorta Fairytale

This week's edition of The Girlfriend Guide brings you the adorably sweet
Mandy from A Sorta Fairytale.  Mandy is one of my favorite mama's out there and I
adore reading about her beautiful family and gazing at her amazing photos.  Today, she
is sharing a look into her relationship with her very best friend, her sister Alissa!  I hope
that you enjoy reading her insightful words as much as I do! 

1. Introduce us to your best friend!  When, where, and how did you meet?
My best friend is my sister, Alissa. She's 2 1/2 years older than me. We weren't always the best of friends growing up... you know... I was the annoying little sister trying to be cool and hang out with my big sis and her friends. Ha ha. But now- our relationship has grown into a true friendship. She is and always will  be my best friend.

2. What is your personal definition of friendship?
To me, friendship is simple. A real friend is someone you can just be yourself with. And that's it.

3. What qualities do you look for in a girlfriend?
Going back to what I said previously, I look for people that I can feel comfortable with. I don't want to have to worry that they are judging me or criticizing my every move. I look for people that have similar interests & hobbies. I really try to befriend everyone, but my GOOD friends are the ones that accept me for who I am, and love it! :)

4. How do you balance spending time with friends and fostering relationships with work and family?
It can be tough sometimes, I'm not going to lie. But luckily my bestie is my sister and she understands when life gets busy. But she's also always there for me if I just wanna vedge out and watch The Bachelorette. Finding a  balance is hard, but the key is having good friends that can meet you half way. 

5. What advise would you give other women about having healthy, happy friendships?
Acceptance. There have been a lot of times in my life that I've realized that a particular friend wasn't a good influence on me... and I've had to let them go. The hard part is accepting that they either aren't good for you. I think it's extremely important to be wise about who we are spending our time with. Negativity can most definitely rub off on you. Stay surrounded by good people, and your friendships will thrive!

6. How has having strong friendships enriched your life?
Having strong friendships is a must. Every woman needs a really good support system, in not just family members - but in friends, too. My life is so much fuller when I'm surrounded by wonderful friends.

7. What is your favorite girlfriend memory you have shared?
There isn't just one memory that stands out. When it comes to my sister, we have shared so many wonderful times. We have a tendency to make each other laugh until we cry. Those are the times that I cherish the most!

Thank you so much for sharing, Mandy!  I can only pray that my girls will enjoy 
and value each other as much as you and Alissa do!  
The two of you are truly blessed!

If you are interested in participating in the Girlfriend Guide, contact me at the
email address below for more information!