Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wild Basin

I apologize for the delay in posting - was waiting until I was able to upgrade google storage for my photos!

Ever since I heard that Wild Basin has waterfalls years ago, I have been wanting to hike it. Only, I heard that it costs to park so it tended to fall low on my priority list of hiking options when the opportunities came up. Until Martin Luther King day when we decided to splurge on a hike close to home and go. It may have been a holiday fluke, but as luck would have it parking was absolutely free!

The hike exceeded my every expectation. After a steady decline downhill along tree covered paths,with cute little wooden signs pointing the way,and gorgeous spanning views of the hill country, we happened upon the breathtaking waterfall - the largest one I've seen in Austin. The rain a few days earlier helped the steady rush of water, a fact I had counted on when choosing this particular hike that day.The perfect place for kids to explore and run around, as the waterfall was located a little hike down from the pathway. Our boys weren't the only ones running around exploring every nook and cranny.
The second waterfall just opposite the large waterfall was a pleasant surprise. The hike back up along a babbling brook,near heart rocks, past peaceful benches & twisted roots, as well as up a steady incline, definitely deserved water which we neglected to bring, but the resulting amazing hillside views more than made up for it. A hillside view we didn't get pictures of for lack of breath and water, but one we will definitely peruse more on our next venture to Wild Basin. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Real Life Friends

Saturday I met Linda from Curious Notions and Girl Eats World. She invited me to a foodie event at Manny's Uptown Kitchen. I'm so glad she did! I've been meaning to meet up with her for at least a year now, and finally this was the perfect timing and opportunity. The foodie blog post version of this will have to wait, because meeting Linda was the highlight of the event.

The thing about meeting bloggers for the first time is you're never really meeting them for the first time if you read each other's blogs. It's more like meeting up with an old friend that you haven't seen in awhile, where you can't stop talking for the next three hours straight. Especially if you've already emailed and commented back and forth quite a bit. What I didn't expect was to laugh so darn much. Along with the non-stop laughing, we never once ran out of things to say. I'm pretty sure we scared our table partner a little bit with our rabbit trail conversations that covered everything from cow parks to the benefits of wearing makeup. At one point we were stifling our laughter as the judges were making their comments on the reuben sandwiches. If I didn't think we would've been kicked out of there, I wouldn't have tried so hard to be quiet.

It's bad enough I was sneaking out my barely eaten leftovers for Brando (sorry, Manny's! But my nephew who we forgot to cancel as a babysitter and who showed up to babysit when we'd already dropped my son off elsewhere loved it so THANK YOU) and got strange looks on the way out as we weren't allowed to take leftovers. Who knew Reuben's were so filling?! Although I still think I gained ten pounds just eating the half Reuben I did.

Besides stifling our laughter and sneaking out leftovers, I'm pretty sure we built a repertoire of inside jokes in only two hours. Two hours which absolutely flew by, that is. Speaking of inside jokes, we were having fun too much fun to take pictures, but I found these two similarish pictures of us instead.

I feel so fortunate to have found a new friend, and such a real, down to earth one that's gorgeous to boot, and can't wait to see her again and conquer feeling too shy together at the next Ladies who Lunch.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Project

Brando has come up with the brilliant idea of us starting a blog together. I love it! In theory. In reality we just spent the last two hours trying to get the right url and username. Epic fail as we accidentally switched two words around in the url and username, then spent the majority of those two hours trying to delete that account and create a new one in order to get the correct username, which isn't as easy as it sounds as it's not a blogger platform. Now we are waiting for customer service to contact us.

On the upside, in that short time I learned several lessons about myself with us.

Lesson #1 When I get fed up with something we are working on together that isn't happening, I need to walk away, do a bit of exercise, and have a drink (no, not that kind) before I head back into it with a fresh mind. Come to think of it, I need to do that with myself. But it's much easier to stay fed up by myself.

Lesson #2 God works in everything. Perhaps this was his way of teaching us we need to do this small project together to learn to work together on even bigger projects.
yes, that's his foot and my face.
this is what happens when he offers me his foot to take a picture with.

Lesson #3 The exact same words can have different meanings for each of us. We went through several compromising and aha! moments while deciding on the url. I realized I was putting a different emphasis on the words we chose creating a completely different meaning for me than the exact same words created for him. Oh, how many times we probably do that in real life!

All important lessons to learn, and I love that we learned them in a safe environment where neither one of our personal or mutual relationships or responsibilities were at risk.

When things are set up and we've had the chance to feel our way around, I'll let you know the link. In the meantime, wish us luck!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wishing you joy, peace, laughter, & hope

Shutterfly is doing ANOTHER promotion. They emailed me a promotion code for 10 free cards which I immediately used to order more of my holiday cards. As soon as I ordered my holiday cards they offered the option to embed my project in my blog for a $25 gift certificate. Loving it.

As far as my experience with Shutterfly, I have been meaning to review it here. Turns out I couldn't order the nice and simple flat cards with the previous promotion, so I spent a good four hours designing two fold-over holiday cards - a family one and one commemorating our ten year renewal. Designing the one commemorating our renewal was SO MUCH fun. It was as if we were a young couple designing a card for just the two of us. As we've always had at least one child since we've been together we've never taken that opportunity, so designing it was a totally fun and new experience and makes me smile every time I look at it.

After spending SO much time creating our cards, I was nervous as to how they would turn out. When I received them in the mail complete with their own cute yellow box to hold the cards and envelopes, I was blown away at the quality and brilliance of the colors. One of the people I sent them to said they were "the most gorgeous Christmas cards" she's ever seen.

As far as Shutterfly itself, I won't lie. The cards were costly. The order totaled $119 before applying the promotion which brought it down to $8.25 for shipping and handling. Had I not had the promotion offer, I might not have done it. Still, having done the promotion and seeing how amazing they turned out, I'm tempted to order my cards here next year - at least with one of their more affordable options. In addition to that, the site was quirky. Uploading my photos took some patience, and I wasn't able to have two projects open at once. I learned this the hard way as my first project would disappear when I tried to start another project in another tab to see if it would look better. Those issues took up most of the four hours time. If they were to streamline their process just a tad bit better to make it almost effortless, I could definitely see myself ordering more of their gorgeous cards.

Unfortunately, I won't post photos of the Christmas cards here as they have pictures of my boys, but here is how the renewal cards turned out:

Front of card
Inside top of card
Inside of card

To get your own $25 gift card embed your project on a blog or Web site you own. Email an active link (no screenshots, please) to the Web page containing your embedded project to: They will confirm placement and reply to your email with a discount code. The offer expires January 31, 2011, and the promotional code is good until February 15, 2011.

Here is the obligatory Shutterfly embedded widget for the promotion, which for some reason didn't add the detail of the inside like I wanted, wouldn't let me center the image, nor did it have the brilliant color as the image appears slightly pixelated, thus I included the pictures above:
2010 Flourish Holiday 5x7 folded card
Shutterfly has elegant holiday invitations for your party.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This is the Fun Part of Blogging

Besides the memories created and sustained because of blogging, this is why I blog... Meeting amazing new people I may never have otherwise had the chance to meet.

Meet Ashley, one of my new favorite bloggers, and one I can't wait to meet on my next trip to Phoenix! Ashley named me as one of her favorite bloggers previously, and this week she awarded me two sweet awards she was awarded with herself. Ashley, I was so very pleasantly surprised to be awarded these - it made my heart smile. I remember awards like these from way back when I first started blogging, when I was way more gung-ho about interacting. These days, I have a balanced mix, so I was so very honored to see my name on your list, and so, of course, I had to do it right away.

1) Thank & Link back to the person who gave you the award
2) Answer the following 10 questions
3) Pass it along to 7 blogs you've recently discovered and enjoy
4) Leave your recipients a note, telling them about the award.

1. Why did you create this blog?
Five years ago I lived in a small town with not much to do except browse the internet. I came across a blog that pulled in my interest and realized blogs weren't for nerds like I thought. I started blogging with my first post and never looked back.

2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
When I started blogging, anybody that randomly found my blog and commented I would immediately find their blog and catch up on their lives. Then, when my blogging slowed a little, I found 20something's ning and that opened up my local blogging world to some of the closest friends I have today. Lately, I've been huge into fashion and young couple's decorating their home blogs. I also enjoy real, down-to-earth, blogs of those who love adventure.

3. Favorite Make-Up Brand?
Anything from Sephora. I love DiorShow Mascara, Too Faced eyeshadows (thanks to Allie), Sephora's brush set, Smashbox BrowTech, and, sadly, much more that I don't know the name of because I'm out and haven't had the money to get more. Which reminds me, I have a gift card there I need to spend! Yipee! Other than that, for the first time in forever, I've been using a few drugstore brands. Almay's SmartShade makeup has been working fantastically, along with their SmartShade concealer and blush. Cheap, but works just as well as Sephora tinted moisturizers so far. Another fill in I've thrown in until I can get back to DiorShow is NYC's Lengthening mascara - figured if I was going to buy drugstore makeup I wasn't going to spend more than $2 on it.

4. Favorite Clothing Brand?
Any surfer brand - Roxy, Billabong, O'Neill, Hurley, etc. I grew up with those brands being cheap and accessible, and now that I'm somewhere where they are not cheap and accessible, I crave them and always hit up the stores when I'm in Cali. They're comfy, cute, and yet somehow still stylish. Oh, and they fit like a glove. Exactly what I love. My favorite purchases lately have been a long short sleeve sweater perfect to go over leggings, a long sleeved comfy shirt, and a black super soft jacket.

5. Indispensable Make-Up Product?
A year ago, I would've had a whole list of indispensable make-up products. These days, not much makes the list. I've been trying to wear makeup less to allow my skin to breathe. If I wear one thing, though, it would be foundation to even out my skin tone. I wish my skin was clear like it used to be, and it is... when I don't wear makeup for awhile.

6. Favorite Color?
Green. Or pink, of course. If I'm picking something that's an accessory, it will automatically be pink. If I'm choosing something to wear, usually it doesn't fall in that category. If I'm choosing something for my home, it will generally be green.

7. Favorite Perfume?
I'm allergic to perfumes. The alcohol they use to infuse the scent onto your skin carries it straight to my head and gives me a headache. I used to use Victoria's Secret Body Sprays all the time though. Maybe I should start that up again.

8. Favorite Film?
Sabrina - the one with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond, without a doubt. I also love Under the Tuscan Son and Eat, Pray, Love. A lot of people weren't too hot about Eat, Pray, Love, because the character Julia Roberts portrays can be super introspective. I dig introspection though, and always take movies that brave the depth with a grain of salt. I'm one of those super read into every thought I have people, and I love how she tears it apart to the nitty gritty and finds that she just wants to live and experience again.

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
Italy, Italy, Italy. See above movies :) . I'm currently reading Halfway to Each Other and am fantasizing about moving our whole family there for a year, which happens to be the subject of the book.

10. Would you rather forget to put on mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?
Blush. Mascara opens up my eyes and I don't ever put on blush to where it is super noticeable.

As per the person who awarded Ashley, "A 'stylish' blog isn't all about clothes or fashion, but about blogs of real heart and that keep you coming back for more." These are the kinds of blogs I love to read.

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about this award.

I have a bit of a confessional frame of mind lately, just because I am dealing with so much upheaval in the communication area of my life, so I'm going that route... sorry if it's too deep!

1) I really dislike talking on the phone. I was just telling Brando that I have a theory it's because him and I don't talk on the phone very much and that I have fallen out of the habit. I went on a tangent that I believe in nurture over nature, and that no matter how we like it we are conditioned to do what we do, even subconsciously. Of course, we all make our own moral choices, but the ones that are neither moral or immoral we end up conditioning ourselves through our environment (thus, different cultures). Suffice it to say, I've been conditioned to dislike the phone, where, when I was younger, I would talk for hours on the phones - to friends, guys I was dating, my sister. Even talking to my sister these days, I'm mostly silent, listening to her vent.
2) If I don't take my vitamins around that "time" of the month, I can be a real b word. Speaking of, I need to take them now. All done :) . I take a whole vitamin, calcium, and acidophiles. Somehow the combination of the three tell my body that it's okay, I'm just on edge, it's not me, it's just my hormones going psycho right now. I don't take birth control, and that may be part of it. But, after reading an article in Cosmo that says birth control may lower your libido (not that I trust everything Cosmo says, but still), I'm quite glad I don't!
3) I'm not enrolled this semester. And I struggle with being okay with it. I've come to the resolution with myself that I have earned a 4.0 GPA every semester I've been there, haven't dropped a single class, and I am rewarding myself with a semester off to reinvest myself into my family and creating a loving environment.
4) I also am not currently employed. I am considering becoming my husband's business assistant, but haven't started yet. I also struggle being okay with that. In the long run, I do want to become his business assistant as the couples I see that are the strongest in life, relationship wise and success wise, work together, and I want that for our marriage. I realize once I jump on the bandwagon, though, I'm not getting off, and I'm not ready to make that decision yet.
5) I'm worried my friendships and relationships are going to change as a result of me not being able to text (see number 1). I realized last night that my iPhone instantly aggravates my arm to a burning sensation. The computer I can handle, for a little while, as long as I take breaks (like right now). But, texting kills it.
6) I can't stand that I never had weight problems until I started school. In fact, I was six pounds lighter after I had my second child than I had been before I had my first child. The second I started school I started eating breakfast, something I'd never done prior. That, and I was introduced to mindless eating while studying. That put on the weight instantly. I lost it all doing a detox last winter and have been able to maintain the weight I had before I had my first child. The last few days it's been creeping up, likely because I've been working out more, but it's driving me crazy. Almost to the point I wish I hadn't started doing school. I can't wait to do another detox.
7) My favorite food in the whole world is ice cream. I eat a HUGE bowl of Blue Bell almost every night. Fortunately, this does not have anything to do with the above number six, as I was able to maintain a weight of 102 for five years while still eating my ice cream. In fact, I haven't had any ice cream in the last few days (see above, number 6). Maybe eating ice cream is what keeps my weight down :) .

Now to award this to ten other bloggers, who are so very stylish each in their own unique way, and I love reading each one:

1) Teagan's Mission to Paris - she's a new blogger, and so introspective - love reading her!
2) Goldilocks - because it's been awhile for her, too, in between having to go private and enjoying her wonderful man.
3) Villagegirl - She has so much fun with her boys, it's adorable.
4) Sonya - a self-described Canadian princess - email her at slarnder at hotmail for an invite to her private blog!
5) Michelle at Gooseberried - a recently rediscovered after her RSS feed got messed with favorite.
6) Love this Life - Hopefully, she's jumping back into the blog world with her adorable new man friend.
7) Liz at Need Your Pillow Fluffed? - send some love her way, she's dealing with a LOT right now.
8) PattyAnn at the Pittman Show - Used to be an Austinite, love her and her adorable hubby and baby.
9) Linda at Curious Notions - a local foodie and all around fun girl that I have yet to meet!
10) A Tall Sassy Gal - another recent foray back into blogging that I'm crossing my fingers is successful!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh How I Miss Being Able To Be Computer Obsessed

My arm has started acting up again. Perhaps I never mentioned that it has been acting up. I was doing a good thing and volunteering for a local low cost veterinary clinic. One of my activities was sending out emails for three hours straight on a very non-ergonomic computer setup. Read: missing arm rest on my right side, and a thumb clicker mouse. I knew I needed to stop while sending the emails. My back hurt something fierce, but, just like me, I kept going. I had three hours and darn it all I was going to finish it.

The next day my arm starting hurting. Three doctors visits later and possible diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis, I find out it's radial nerve compression syndrome which translates to a nerve being irritated causing lots of burning, numbness, tightness, and eventually shoulder soreness.

Four months later and weeks of braces and occupational therapy appointments later it still flares up as bad as it did in the beginning. When I went on vacation, it felt amazing. Back to normal! When I got back I conveniently forgot my occupational therapist appointments, fell off my exercises train, and went straight back into facebooking and blogging mode like a kid in a candy store. Immediately, it flared up back to square one, and now the therapist has told me I need to stay off the computer more or be looking at surgery. Either way, she let me know I'll be dealing with this for a long while - the next ten years while. I see her again tomorrow and I am bound and determined to keep up the exercises I need to, stay off facebook as much as I can (five minutes a week shouldn't hurt and is really all facebook needs), blog quickly and effectively, and get my arm healed!!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Years 2011!


Wow, what a productive, wonderful weekend to start off the new year!

Saturday we took a bike ride around Town Lake.

If I remember correctly, it's become a New Year's Day tradition as it's a day where we know we get to sleep in, yet the whole afternoon stretches in front of us, begging to be filled with a bike ride.

Town Lake is the perfect leisurely ride with plenty of room at the The Palmer Event Center

to stretch out on the grass and relax.

Today, we ran by Costco and found the most beautiful, functional bookcases and took the very. first. steps. towards decorating our home together (those periods are. so. overdone. but they get the point across oh so well). We chose the bookcases together. Brando and Justinbustin set up the first one together, then Brando set up the second one and switched things up a bit with only leaving a few of the linen baskets in. He even rehung the artwork to accomodate the new bookcase, put the lamp on top, framed a picture from our wedding renewal and put that on top, and moved flowers from another into the now available shelves. I put the finishing touches on it by filling a vase with coral from our first trip to Hawaii celebrating our nine year anniversary. The whole thing makes my heart smile every time I look at it from the corner of my eye as I sit here and type.

This is exciting to me for so many reasons, the most important of which are that I've always been the one to decorate our house, and for the past few years have mostly given up. Thanks to the inspiration of these amazing bloggers and specifically this post (check under Lovey Dovey Stuff on their Projects page for even more sweet and romantic couple decorating ideas), I have gotten Brando excited about creating a beautiful home for us to enjoy and relax in together. This was our first step.

In addition to that, Justinbustin volunteered at church this morning again, and we volunteered as a host family yesterday evening in an amazing program for families who are homeless or, better put, in transition, where the families are able to stay comfortably in churches for a week to two weeks at a time and are able to have their own room for their family instead of having to stay in shelters where quarters are often cramped and/or separated and the stay is less personal. As well, Brando surprised me with breakfast in bed this morning - yummy ,

and tonight we are relaxing with a clean house, a glass of Pinot Noir for me, and a Dos Equis for Brando, while the boys play one of their Christmas gifts on the Wii.


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