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 ros├Ęs 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!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Becoming a (dog)Mom

I know I have been absent around these parts most of this year. Not to fall into the DC cliche of "I'm Busy! I'm Important!" rabbit hole- but I have felt busy, not important, so you could say busily unimportant.

Regardless, when I was home earlier this year I got in my mind that I should start dog shopping. With my new personal deadline for leaving DC set in stone (I've even alerted my boss! So its official!), I figured I should find a furpanion to really kick-start my new beginning once I drive west and leave DC in the dust.

Some initial research led me to seeing some poodle puppies. And boy where they cuuuttteee! I was having a hard enough time possibly picking between a brown/tan boy and a black/brown girl. However, I've always loved solid colored poodles- so deep down; I wasn't sure either of those were "my pup". Then over dinner one night, my family and I were discussing my dog shopping and my dad mentioned that the couple who they got their wonderful dog, Kimber, from had just had another litter of puppies. Withing 20 minutes we went from eating dinner to driving over to go see the pups.

They were beyond adorable. All but two had already found forever homes and there was a little mellow boy and a very rambunctious little girl. The girl pup, temporarily named Miracle, was from a little where she was the only survivor and also had a star shaped white patch of fur on her head. I really did love her, but her mom was an awful sheader and Miracle also showed some signs of being very high energy and dispelling fur like it was her job. While I really adored her that little boy pup seemed to stick in my head.

The first picture of my pup- before I even knew he would be mine

The next day I left to drive up to Sun Valley to spend Easter Weekend with Nicole and my favorite little people. On the drive back to Boise on Easter evening my mom called and told me that the breeders had let her know that they really want me to take one of the dogs ( I secretly think they wanted me to pick Miracle), and they would give me a discount on the dog. By the time I got back to Boise the decision had been made and I called them to let them know I "wanted the little boy". Cue the disbelief and rearrangement of flights so I could be in Idaho a bit longer to pick him up and get him settled with my parents. I got to go visit him once in between my initial meeting and the "pick-up date".

Playing on the deck with his siblings

The first time he was officially "mine"

Hanging out with grandpa on the visit before he went  home with me

Cuddles and love with a sibling

"Puppy" came home with me on April 15th and quickly settled into his new life with a "big sister' as he was going to stay with my parents for about a week while I went back to DC quickly before going to San Diego for my best friends wedding. I remember being totally shocked when we went over, handed over a check, and then walked out clutching this tiny 8 lbs dog that I held in the backseat of my parents car for the drive home. He did really well with being taken away from his family, and did so great his first evening in new surroundings.
Quickly settled in and took a nap once we got him home

Playing with his half-sister Kimber

settling into his new "bed"

My dad had  gone out of his way to help me set up their crates so we had two places to keep the little guy, and even helped with the potty breaks that were around the clock. 

Even at just a few weeks old he looked like a fox. 

Since I extended my trip a bit, I worked from my parents kitchen mainly (so I could keep him on an easy to clean floor) and he slept at my feet most of the day.

Kimber was gracious to let him play with her toys and they both would play until they were tuckered out.

The few days after I picked him up before I headed back to DC were spent making sure I had stocked up on all the critical items, coordinating having everything ready for him back in DC, and acclimating him to the travel bag that he would fly in. Luckily, we had decided to go up to Sun Valley for my niece's birthday and it was a great excuse to make him ride in the bag for a few hours. 

Even as a little tiny guy, he was almost too big for the bag from the get go. It was a stroke of good luck that the timing worked out and he fit and tolerated for his voyage back East. 

Hanging out with his Aunt Nicole

Being loved on by his cousin Wyatt

Stanley is clearly my dog as he loved Sun Valley and wore himself out being the cutest dog at the park and everywhere we went. My sister and nephew loved him (Ava- not so much). 

One of my favorite photos of him

It was hard leaving him to go celebrate Sara's wedding, but it was so nice to know he was in the most loving care with my parents watching over him. 

There is so much more to tell, like the flight back, the around the clock potty breaks in a city, picking a puppy school, picking all the things a puppy needs, and falling in love every day with the sweetest dog I could have possibly imagined. I'm so thankful to have found my pup- as he makes everyday brighter and makes me so excited and confident in making more decisions that are about me. It's a lot of work, but being a dog mom is one of the favorite things I've taken on.