Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stanley- 8 Months

I can't believe Stanley is 8 months.

Actually, more remarkable is that I've kept him alive 6 of those months. Maybe, just maybe I am a big kid some of the time.

Since I don't have a kid to do "monthly updates" on; I figured I'll treat Stanley as such and humor you with some puppy statistics

Nicknames: Stan, Doodle, Doodlebug, Stanman, booboobear, Monkey, Monkmonk, wombat, puppup, 

Weight: 51 lbs (done with the unscientific practice of holding him and subtracting weights)

Food: Fromm's Puppy is the everyday. But someone lives for treats and gets an assortment of Blue Buffalo treats, CharleeBears, Chicken Jerkey, bully steaks, and other assortments. 

Favorite Toys: It rotates. Lately, he loves his "sven" (yes a Frozen toy), stuffed sausage link rope toy, Nylabone, "ugly puppy", and tennis balls

Favorite Activities: Weekend visits to dog parks, going to training, sleeping, eating, picking up sticks, biting the leash, chasing a tennis ball.

Biggest Changes: Getting too big to do things like hid under the couch. Forgetting his manners from puppy school and being a bad jumper
Best Dog Moments: Being decently well behaved when friends came to visit. Has started waiting for me to wake him up in the mornings, vs the other way around.

Bad Dog Moments: Ha! This is an easy category to write about in length! Maybe the jumping on the bed and peeing (WTF!), or biting the leash and playing tug like a maniac. Jumping on strangers and trying to love them just a bit too much.

Best Dog Friends: Edgar, Corduroy, Denali, Cava, Prudence, and coco.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Single 2015 New Years Resolution

I don't really set New Years Resolutions.

I used to do the X before X to try to motivate me to accomplish some personal goals each year for my Birthday. You can see my failure here, Meaning...I don't do well with things like this.

I see the value, don't get me wrong, but I am just not a list driven person is what I've decided. How I manage projects for a living is beyond me. 

However, in an attempt to live in the moment. Embrace the experience, and not get caught up in the "how I think it should be" whirlwind. I've made ONE. SINGLE. RESOLUTION!

I will not be Christmas shopping on December 24th unless I am assisting a family member in finishing their shopping. 
Every. single. year. I am shopping on the 24th. Sometimes it is worse than others. Last year was... well... an exception to every year so that doesn't count. But I am horrible and being prepared; and satisfied with my Christmas gift and always look back and wish I'd spent more time with my family vs shopping for them.

So this is my ONLY resolution. I think I mean this is a big deal I can pull this off, but I figured putting it out here was one more level of accountability.

Does anyone have any foul proof methodologies for getting it all done in time? Any great gift ideas people want to share already??

Monday, October 26, 2015

When Someone Up There Likes You

That crazy project that launched last week, the one that caused hours upon hours upon late nights upon stress upon disliking my job for the first time since I started, if starting to wind down. I may actually even be 100% done with it next week- AMEN!

While it was hard, I learned a lot doing this project, some really valuable things that I know will really help with my future at my currently company and as a project manager in general. It also brought me the most amazing coat.

Yest, I said it brought me a coat.

A lovely, girly, perfect-length, warm, soft coat.

The funny part- is my own impulse decisions.

Back in April when I was home to get this guy, I made a bold decision to not take my day-to-day winter coat back to DC with me. It seemed like a statement to say "I won't be there long enough to need this!".


I'm still here. BUT, for a maximum of 2 more months as I refuse to leave Stanley here for the holidays and I am just not coming back after Christmas. I have zero reasons to be in DC anymore.

Anyways..back to my coat.

I was coatless. The temps have started dropping and while I could possibly make do with what I have on hand, I also had to admit that the coat I left behind had gone through three winters of  being my primary coat and was showing signs of love.

So I started looking to just see what was out there. I didn't expect to find much as I am oddly very particular about my winter coats, and being 5'0'' doesn't help with the options available.

Low and behold, less than 10 minutes of browsing and I had fallen in love.

The problem- it was sold out in my size. Hurmph. So I signed up for Nordy's alert for if it was every back in stock and closed my browser and went back to chipping away at that crazy project. 

I kid you not. The day my project launched- I got the email. Magically, in my size, the coat was available. Without hesitation, I purchased and didn't even wince at the idea of money leaving bank account. 

Then I waited. And worried. What if it didn't fit?!? In my head I'd found the meccas of winter coat replacements...but what if I was too chubby for it to zip. 

When that Nordstrom box came, I ripped into like a kid on Christmas, threw the coat on despite it being almost 80 (Seriously DC ?!?!), zipped, and fell in love.

It. was. made. for me. 

I couldn't be more in love with it. Now DC just needs to get colder; or I just need to get the hell out of here ASAP!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hair Woes

This is gross to admit, but I recently went through a hair dilemma. My hair slowly turned into a grease pit over the past few months. Stringy, matted to my head, oil galore and flat.  Strangely, it all seemed to start when I gave my hair the chop-chop back in early summer. Part of me thought it was the DC water (the flush the water system with chlorine here), possibly too hard or too soft. I also thought it could be my shampoo and conditioner. I worried about hormones. I thought about air pollutants. My google search history was probably laden with searches for evaluating water hardness; natural 'poo options; and how to make sure you washed out all of your conditioner.

I ended up nixing shampoo and conditioned for a few weeks. "Washing" my hair with baking soda followed by a "conditioner" of vinegar.

I smelled like a salad on the regular.

While the smell wasn't great- it helped. The grease pit was drastically reduced.

I slowly eased into alternating my "natural" regimen with regular shampoo and conditioner and so far things have been ok. I definitely need a hair cut; as my grown out "long bob" is looking lifeless and weighted down, but the icky residue/grease feeling- it still shows up every once in awhile. I am at my whits end about what to do!

More expensive products? Shampoo/conditioner less? Shampoo/conditioner more? Rinse with cold water? Get a hard water filtering shower head? Move to a different city (ha! that one is already happening!)

What do people use for washing their hair? Has anyone heard about this Wen business? Help! I need hair help!

Monday, October 19, 2015

These Are Some of My Favorite Things

♥ I am still on this binge of thinking about how I can get rid of my "stuff" and this article really hit home. I honestly cleaned out a drawer I'd been meaning to tackle. 

♥ I love Anna Kendrick and I love Kate Spade. Fun Fact: if a movie is ever made about my life I'd probably ask for Anna to be cast as me.

♥ Where was this when I was in college? Oh wait...actually more useful now as an adult and living in a sketch-ier city. Brilliant. Bravo developers!

♥ I love watching Fixer Upper, and I loved this insight into their own "fixer upper".

♥ I am new to this Podcast business. I finally listened to Serial; but I've also gotten hooked on this gem. 

♥ N is from New Mexico; and this photo from the Balloon Fiesta this year has me aching to go.

♥ While I don't love Walmart, I have to say, there are few things in the Pioneer Woman's collection that I wouldn't mind having. Like this, these, and a few of these.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Oh Hey, Friday! Travel Edition- Budapest

Forever ago N & I went to Europe.  I've never blogged about it. Heck! I didn't even blog about when we went to Turkey like 5 years ago! (Ok I did get ONE post done) But I do have some great photos- that are an excellent way to fill up a Five on Friday Post.

So today...I'll look back at Budapest

1)  Chain Bridge

2) New York Cafe

3) Flea Market Finds

Budapest was surprising. In a very very very good way. I absolutely loved it. The city was unbelievably gorgeous, the food was amazing and the people were incredibly kind and helpful. I would go back in a heartbeat. 

I have so many wonderful photos and memories from this stop on our trip, but there are so so so many more. 

The Chain Bridge is stunning. Stunning during the day; stunning during the night. I took more photos of this site than I can count, but it was iconic, and beautiful. We went on a long stroll one night and walked partway across; watching the boats underneath and the lights on both side of the river was a great evening view.

The New York Cafe was a Rick Steves highlight that I put high on my list. It was gorgeous; gilded in gold, and flecked with such history is was breathtaking to sit, enjoy a cappuccino and take it all in. 

N found flea market- and it may have been one of my favorite experiences from our trip. I curated some antique keys for my collected; N got an awesome lego person and we have tons of photos of the amazing assortments from vendor's tables.

The baths! Oh my! I would go back again just for this. I only did one; and it was relaxing; less stressful than I thought (minus figuring out electronic lockers in a different language) and really a glimpse into true Budapest culture. 

We only spent one day on the Buda side. The views from Fisherman's Bastion were worth the trek and it was like being transported to a different country just across the river. We have a lot of pictures of ornate doors- which were particularly amazing on the Buda side of the city.   

This is such a sliver of our trip- but it is really fun to go back through the photos and remember those awesome 10 days!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

It's Showtime.

My biggest project to-date at work is launching today. My eyes have been twitching non-stop for about two weeks because I rarely have more than 10 minutes in a day where I am not glued to my computer screen.

It wasn't that it was harder than any of some of my other projects, it was just high profile....very high profile. So, if you know me at all, you know that when I am dealing with a situation where the lights are on me, and I am front and center. I hate to be a disappointment. I'm praying today; I am not a disappointment.

So here we go....lights. camera. action.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

BOOTIES! Not booties.

I am not one to really follow fashion trends, a slow adopter, if I even adopt at all. I was like three whole seasons behind getting a pair of boots (#widecalfprobs), you'll never see me in a romper (#bigtummyprobs), and high waisted jeans are only bought to suck things in, never to tuck a shirt into. Basically...I am kind of boring fashion wise. Also being stumpy and short doesn't always lend well to following trends.

So for me to be intrigued by this bootie bandwangon...well it's been strange. I've looked and looked and looked and looked for a pair that don't look ridiculous on me. I also am frugal when it comes to buying something that I see as a "trend"; so while Nordstrom could provide a wealth of options; I am not ready to pony up $$$ for something that I don't know if I will wear next year.

I tried Target.

These made me look like a clomping hippo.

I had high hopes for these because A BOW! But being a kids size, the arch was a bit off and I kind of looked like a cackling witch. 

I was getting defeated. And to be honest---a bit sad that a trend I actually wanted to try, wasn't producing anything I actually thought looked good on my oompa loompa frame. 

But then.... Old Navy. 

NOT what I would have thought I'd end up liking on my feet. But they are the best I've found! I went with black since that was all that was left is store. But they don't look as giant in the photo, and that little detail on the front, makes all. the. difference. And for $40, sign me up- perfect "trend" price point if you ask me. 

So BOOTIES. But not booty. My booty isn't nearly as cute as these shoes!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fly Catcher

Stanley needs bit more practice catching flies, perhaps he needs Mr. Miyagi as a mentor.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cobbler Mountain Cellars

Wine tasting is a favorite weekend activity and while we have a few favorite haunts (see: Three Fox Vineyards), we keep our google searches active in search of any other dog friendly places. While I can't remember what exactly directed me to their website, I stumbled upon Cobbler Mountain Cellars that looks lovely, dog-friendly, and....serving wine & CIDER. (!!!)

We quickly adjusted our GPS and drove to the property which welcomes you through a lovely rugged drive and then opens up to a stunning retreat on a hilltop.

The wine is decent; but the CIDER. Oh man, the CIDER! Go! Go Now! Try the Original Jeffersonian, Ginger Peach, Original Honey (yes! yes!) and Kickin' Cinnamon. You will not be sorry and you'll leave with a few bottles...I guarantee it.

I love that the cider isn't overly sugary- and is all about the true, natural apple flavor. It will make you snobby about most of the stuff you can get in the grocery store.

In addition to the amazing cider. The views!

Also, can we talk about the Stanley face? This was the weekend before his first haircut and I loved his muppet look. Granted he was a matted ball of fluff- but gosh was he cute!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I Need to Whine.

I. am. exhausted.

Stanley had his neutering done last week, and I've had to adjust his sleep arrangements since he couldn't turn around in his kennel with his huge plastic #coneofshame on. So me and him have been bunking up in my office. Between him wanting the cone off, wanting in bed with me, and his bowel issues (their not pretty)- I'm not getting much sleep. He has also been barking, and biting at his leash, picking up every single thing on the ground on walks- basically being a delinquent puppy. All things he wasn't, or hasn't been doing- and I am at my whits end dealing with his puppyness and round the clock care this week.

I'm also just spent with work. Work is hard right now. Mentally trying. Testing my anxiety levels. Trying my confidence and knowledge. I had to make a pretty big personal decision based on work stuff- which I hate. I hate saying that my work comes before really import personal things- but this one had to be done. I'm stressed now. It wasn't the decision I wanted to make, and now I am locked in to a different timeline than I wanted for something personal, which just makes me sad and anxious.

Then there is the family stuff. Yesterday was big- my mom underwent a surgery to hopefully better heal and assist with more normal mobility in her arm. Deep down I trusted the Dr., I was confident she'd be ok, but all this medical stuff- it's scary and stressful (I'm not even the patient!) and I was struggling with the fact that I wasn't there to be with my family. Luckily, it sounds like everything went well and we are now just praying for a speedy recovery and an outcome much better than the previous procedure.

And last night- phewy! Last night. I wanted quiet. I wanted to watch a chick flick, or listen to a pandora station, sip some wine and try to work on my never-ending cross-stitch that is strangely therapeutic for me. Instead, the dog was barking, I was irritated with the lack of light in the apartment, I was sad about not being with my mom and dad, and I was just done.

I lost my ish.

And I am still not in a good mood today. I'm feeling alone in my anxiety, overwhelmed by the feelings of "not being able to handle it", and keenly aware of how much I wish I had the support network I miss so dearly.

I know that these feelings will pass. I'll figure out Stanley's tummy issues, and he'll eventually be able to sleep in his crate again. I know I'll be home soon enough. I know this really hard project at work will eventually end. I know my anxiety will lessen and I'll be less irritable and angry and low light and too much barking when I just want a insanely quiet evening. It will all pass- I just hope I don't combust in the process.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

These Are Some of My Favorite Things

♥ While I am preparing to move in the next few months; the idea of purging unnecessary clutter is not only appealing from a packing perspective, but also having a more orderly home. This book seems to get rave reviews; and  friend gave it a personal recommendation. 

♥ I bought this in a hurry as I realized I had zero entertainment for my flight back to DC. So far, I actually really enjoy it. 

♥ I want one of these for myself, and like 10 more to give as gifts at Christmas. 

♥ The fun read on one of my favorite clothing store's site may be there to tell me I am going to make more money and therefore should buy more clothes!

♥ Amen that fall seems to be right around the corner (according to online shopping) and longer sleeves seems to be in full-swing. Hallelujah!

♥ I can't handle this news. I will forever, and always be just a 208 gal. 

♥ For the price, this is a great deal. Especially if you are like me and refuse to ski in the East. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I am really struggling today feeling like I just hit a cement wall emotionally.

I always get in a funk when I come back East. This isn't home to me. It isn't where I want to be. This place isn't full of things that make me happy. In fact, I feel like every day here is a battle to survive. Just to breath, or exist is a struggle.

To say the least, I just emotionally bummed.

I had the most glorious week in Idaho. Celebrating my mom, and the fact that she survived another year. Literally, survived this year. We sat by pools in cabanas, we drank wine, we listened to free symphony concerts, we drank home brew beer, ate copious amounts of homemade bean dip, soaked in natural hot springs as the sun set. I felt like I was breathing normally again. I felt full, and content emotionally.

Then that plane ride back to DC.

With each glance out the window, watching the terrain get flatter and the air less clear with humidity, my spirits fell and sunk so low that getting out of bed this morning was a chore.

Forgive me while I suck on muck for a few days and try to rally emotionally. Hopefully, this furrbaby will pull me out of my funk.

Friday, August 7, 2015

5 Not-So-Obvious Items to Buy When you Get A New Puppy

Stanley brings a lot of dirt and smells to the household. None of it really truly offensive (except those few times he has started to stink like a salmon), but certainly makes for a lot more clean-up and washing of the hands that previously needed. A few items that have made life a lot more manageable with a new child puppy around are worth every penny!

1) Baby Wipes

Nope not for wiping bums (although occasionally you need to wipe a puppy bottom) but for your hands after class, walks, a few hours in the park. Between getting things out of their mouths, the treats that smell like baconcheesemeatsalmonstuff. and picking up their "potties", having wipes in your bag, in the car, at home, etc. make it all a bit more manageable and don't leave you looking for a sink when there likely isn't to be one around. The Target Up & Up brand is affordable and does the job just fine.

2) Kongs- Many of them!

I can't believe that until Stanley we never bought a Kong for one of our dogs. Maybe we did and they just weren't interested in it, but these have been a total necessity with Stanley. We started off with the small size, and now have a few smalls and a medium. It helps to have many since they are bit challenging to clean and take time to "stuff" so having a few during the week really help.   

3) Peanut Butter

Just buy stock in Jif now. Seriously. Or go to Costco and don't second guess the package that has two HUGE tubs of it. We use this for just about everything! Primarily we stuff kongs with it, freeze them with a bit of kibble mixed in and it can keep the pup entertained for at least 20 minutes. We also smear it on our hands and let him lick it off while trying to brush him, since he HATES being brushed! I also have this toy for Stanley, and after many uses I got smart and realized I could fill each compartment with some PB, freeze it and it lasts even longer than a kong if I need some peace and quiet.

4) Target Pee Pads

Don't buy the expensive pee pads made specifically for potty training. First, they are CRAZY expensive. Second, most are scented to entice your puppy to pee on them rather than the rest of your floor. Which is great if you are paper training your little furmuff, but I didn't want Stanley to think going inside under any circumstances was ok. Enter the Up & Up brand of pee pads that are not scented and way way way cheaper. The first weeks of Stanley's life, these were an absolute must! Now we have a bunch left over, but I line his crate pad and bed with them just in case since he is still a tad unreliable about his bladder control.

5) Swiffer Wet Pads

While I am married tot the steam mop concept and am sure I will never live without one ever again, turning it on, making sure you have a decently clean fabric pad and water in the tank can be a bit time consuming. When your puppy just released Lake Michigan on your floors, you need something a bit faster. Luckily, I kept the gold ol' swiffer and pulling out a wet pad to quickly sop up the mess before little paws can step in it and track it everywhere else has been huge. I steam mop later to just disinfect a bit more and get the chemical residue off the floor that I am not a fan of, but the quick clean-up is essential when a bounding, energy-filled pup.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Juniper & Ivy

When we were in San Diego we naturally had to make sure that we checked out Juniper & Ivy since I pretty much love Richard Blais (and his hair). Our meal at The Spence  in Atlanta has been so amazing that just the thought of eating some more of Blais' food was mouthwatering-inducing.

Upon arriving the first impression was all about the building and space. It was amazing. Totally my style and felt exactly how I like my upscale, divine eating experiences to feel. Once seated, our first order of business was the wine- which ended up being an excellent selection. We are all about the rosès these days, as they are versatile which is critical when you are eating a meal where you will be doing a lot of sampling.

We usually follow the plan of ordering a lot and sharing it all so we can taste and experience as much of the menu as possible. The menu constantly changes at Juniper & Ivy so I don't have the official names of all of our dishes, but here is what we enjoyed:

 Deviled Eggs- these were so fun! A meringue cup was the "egg" and the filling was beyond delish!
These Oysters. Oh. My. I could live on them. Similar to the ones we had at The Spence, the kimchi cocktail pearls on these were to die for. 

The peaches were a special the night we were there, with a slice of cheese and pesto, they were fresh, clean and full of amazing flavor.

Bone marrow ragu which was good- but we honestly misread the menu a bit and were a tad disappointed based on what we interpreted this as, and what it actually was. Not bad, but we ended up ordering another pasta dish to satisfy our cravings.

The pasta with clams. Show. Stopper. It was so so so good, we almost considered licking the bowl in public.
Pork, onions, and pea puree. This was heaven. I also have to make mention of the plates. Rustic, perfect compliment to the food.
I think this was halibut- whatever it was- it was one amazing piece of fish!

Annnnd dessert. Oh my gawd. Dessert. It was unreal. The Yodel was heavenly (that is that chocolate looking log thing) and that second dessert, oh man oh man. I wish I remembered  exactly what it was, but it was beyond decadent and delightful. 

I am already looking forward to eating there again, and anything that Blais opens, I am sure will be amazing since his food has been nothing short of amazing!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A San Diego Wedding

My friend, sisterwife, sister (ADPi!), a million other things got engage to her lobster and asked me to stand by her side on her wedding day (one of life's most amazing privileges). Her wedding took place on a stunning April in San Diego at the Scripps Seaside Forum and while the weather was stunning, the bride and her groom were a vision.

I shed more than a few tears through the weekend and was so crazy happy for both of them as they started this new chapter of their lives. Abiding by my philosophy that a photographer is hired for a reason on a wedding day, I didn't take too many of my own photos because I want to be emotionally present to soak up all of the love and wonderfulness of the day, but I did capture a few wonderful moments.

We stayed at Hotel La Jolla  and getting to do my half day of work from our balcony was bliss. This clouds were a bit unsettling early in the day, but we all knew it was going to turn out to be a stunning day. 
This stunning view from her reception site was too much to handle. My jaw dropped at the stunning background. 
Getting ready was so much fun! It was relaxed, well organized and was wonderful to get to spend time with the bride before her life changed forever. There were some really sweet touching moments, and I almost cried off all of my makeup when she put on her dress and her sister was helping her. And watching her read the card from her soon-to-be-husband was so touching, and I couldn't help but sniffle a bit as I watched her face read the words her groom had written. 
The blue skies showed up for the wedding as we had all crossed our fingers for, and went the moment came, we were all so excited for her and Eric. 

A funny story included in this:My isle partner was a guy that I knew back from Junior High and High School in Boise. While that is just a small world, to really add to it- he had been a MAJOR crush of mine and so I couldn't help but laugh as I "got to walk down the isle with Ross"! AND, you think I'm done, but I'm not. My first boyfriend, my first KISS, was also at this wedding (not Ross), whom I hadn't seen in almost 10 years- which was a trip. Trying coming outside to find your current boyfriend talking to your first boyfriend/fist kiss. I am still laughing about it. 

The reception and dancing were a blast, and there was a photo booth that captured some really hilarious moments with some of my favorite people and sisters from college. 

All of my humorous moments aside- this day was so special. Sara has been one of the people that had made me understand the true, deep, never-ending meaning of friendship. While we are bonded by our sorority ties and oaths- the relationship I have with her enriches my life beyond descriptive words. Being asked to be a part of her and Eric's wedding was an honor and as I stood and watched them exchange vows and rings, my heart burst with love as am I so incredibly happy she has found someone to share her life with. It was a stunning wedding for a stunning couple who radiate love for each other. And while this is a belated post- Congratulations Sara & Eric!