9/17/14

Tidbits.


Inspiration is a tricky thing, and I've had an itch to write but seemingly nothing to write about. Do I give an update of the last month? When the last month just entails little more than work and sleep and work and sleep, the answer is probably no. Should I write a how-to or a list post? Well, if I can't think of anything relevant or exciting, then that's another no. And truthfully, that sometimes feels like filler content - not the type of writing I've wanted to hammer out.

"Blog envy" is a real, tangible thing. Words are hard to come by when you read beautifully written posts by stellar writers, who you both admire and sort of secretly despise for their ability to come up with consistently great content. Trying to pinpoint what makes their writing so wonderful has proved entirely unhelpful, because it's just not a simple formula like: idea + fancy words = golden blog post.

Instead, I tried to pinpoint a moment that stood out to me during the last month - I tried to think of a little life tidbit where I had one of those "aha" moments.

And I thought of a quiet Saturday night, neither glamorous nor eventful. When faced with the option of getting dressed up, paying highway robbery for parking, and fighting through frat boys to order a $12 drink at the bar, we promptly giggled, shook our heads, and donned our pjs. We were watching Drunk History while, well, partaking in the theme of the show, and my brother and his girl came home from a concert. Three hours and a dozen stories later, I looked around and realized that this life is really good. 

I get stuck sometimes. Stuck thinking about how I'm too *this,* not *that,* don't have *this,* not good at *that.* (And also, sometimes I really get stuck dwelling on the fact that I absolutely should have met Mindy Kaling before she was famous so we'd have the chance to be best friends because girlfriend is the ULTIMATE #girlboss.)

But in that minute, on that couch, with those people, I had an unusual moment of calm and gratitude. Maybe it was the wine (it was probably the wine), but it was a much needed reminder that we're the lucky ones. It wasn't an exceptionally interesting moment, and it didn't change my life, but it was good.



Today, I got an offer for a new job that really, truly, excites the hell out of me. I'm also about to celebrate our one year anniversary with my husband, who is a total babe AND loves me even when I'm at my worst. But even though the big picture is looking pretty, I'm making a conscious effort to also notice the little bits and pieces that fill in the in-betweens.

What are you grateful for? What little moment made you stop and appreciate how good you've got it?

And if you want to read some of those really wonderful I-admire-you-and-also-secretly-despise-you blogs I was talking about, head on over to Elizabeth Ivie or Mr. Thomas and Me and enjoy.



8/20/14

On Creativity


Have you ever felt... drained? And I don't mean drained like "tired," although I guess that's sort of a symptom. I'm talking uninspired. Unmotivated. Unexcited.

This time last month, that's how I was feeling. I haven't quite been able to put my finger on it, but perhaps it's a result of that whole 9 to 5 thing. Get up, clock in, clock out, sleep, repeat. Sometimes I forget that working 40 hours a week really leeches the energy out of you, or at least my job does. If you really hash it out, we have 168 hours a week. (Math!) Great, right? But then you take out hours for work, sleep, eating, exercising, Netflix, piddling around on Facebook, and skimming your Instagram feed, and you end up with... not much true "me" time. Granted, some of that (okay, a lot of that) is my fault, but lately, I've just felt drained. The type of work that you spend 40 hours a week doing makes a difference, and truthfully, mine isn't the most fulfilling. But since that's something that may or may not change, I decided I had to do something else different.

So I started a side-project!

The project itself is not the point, but this girl, who previously thought of herself as a rather uncreative person, hasn't been so excited about something in a long time. Instead of bringing work home with me (metaphorically) and stewing over it all evening, I get to come home and create something entirely new and entirely different than what I spend my working hours doing. It's slow going when there's laundry to fold and dinner to make every evening (men make SO MANY dirty clothes, am I right?), but it's been a nice distraction nonetheless.

I know there are a lot of people around these parts that call themselves "creatives," but I am not one of those people. Regardless, I've learned that it's important to create rather than stagnate. Something about it makes my brain happy.

How do you sustain your creativity? Have you ever felt drained by everyday life? 

8/14/14

Life Lately | Alaska

Oops.

Turns out, when you decide that you're only going to blog "when you feel like it," sometimes you go a week or two without a substantial post. I can't quite decide if that's a good or bad thing yet; on one hand, it feels awfully freeing, but on the other hand, it's been a little quiet around here.

But I have a good reason!


On Thursday of last week I hopped on a couple planes to Alaska to finally see my brother's bike team cross the finish line. When they stopped in Washington, they were only about halfway through with their ride. Now they've officially finished over 4,500 miles, 70 days of riding, and raised over $600,000 for cancer! It was really emotional seeing them cross the finish line, and I loved getting to hear all of their crazy stories. (Like my brother passing a bear, YIKES.)

After the team got in they had a finish line celebration, which included one last team huddle and a fajita dinner. (Sidenote: we got a little bit of a kick out of Alaskans feeding about 400 Texans Mexican food, because... well, we do it a lot better.) Each team had a few people speak about why they rode or what they learned from the trip, and I was a little bit of a mess. I've already decided that if I had been on the ride I would have cried every. single. day.




We got to spend a few days in Alaska after all of the celebrations, and ended up running into Ben's teammates pretty much everywhere we went! Turns out Anchorage is a much smaller town than I expected, who knew? (You probably knew, I know.) We got to see glaciers calve (i.e. break off, and make SO noise), bald eagles, sea otters, and whales on the glacier tour we took, and I got intense vertigo when we got to the top of Mt. Alyeska one day. (Note to self: don't look over the edge.)






So all in all, I feel a little justified for being MIA recently. I've got a couple projects in the works right now that hopefully I'll be able to share soon, but until then, hope y'all have a great weekend!


8/5/14

Nearly One Year Later | Anniversary Gifts


Our first anniversary is coming up in a couple months (what?), and we've begun brainstorming about how we want to celebrate. And by "we," I mean he's sort of playing along and I'm spending countless hours at work daydreaming about a weekend getaway, but that's irrelevant.

We recently made a trip to Dallas for a wedding, and as we were discussing our anniversary in the car, a heated debate came up about traditional anniversary gifts. We both agreed that we wanted to follow the prescribed list of gifts, but the argument involved which list to follow: "traditional" or "modern." 

To summarize: Hunter railed against Hallmark and the jewelry industry for changing things up just to make money (probably true)... and I wanted more diamonds (definitely true). Call me crazy, but an "aluminum/tin" gift for your 10th anniversary is a whole lot less sexy. (If you're curious about the differences, here's a comparison of the lists.)

Alas, we agreed to stick with the traditional list because, you know, tradition. (I just made sure Hunter knows he's expected to buy me diamonds anyway.)

And then I started looking for gift ideas and became utterly despondent and completely positive that I wouldn't come up with anything my husband would like. Call me uninspired, but the 1st anniversary gift of "paper" is sort of... lame. (Hunter's response when he found out it's paper: "Oh sweet... so just a card, right?" WRONG.) 

Sure, there are quite a few things that I would like to receive (stationary, illustrations of my gown or bouquet, cute wedding related prints, photo albums, and so on)... but for a guy? Yikes. It's worth noting that:

1. My husband never writes handwritten anything, much less letters
2. My husband HATES things on walls with words on them
3. My husband actually just hates things on walls that aren't deer heads
4. We already have a wedding album and he's looked at it exactly zero times 
5. My husband might laugh at me if I tried to write him a poem, like the internet suggests over and over

So I did some brainstorming and further Google investigating, and I finally came up with a few ideas that I didn't totally hate. 

1st Anniversary Gifts For Him (Paper)

Magazine subscription. While he's not big on most magazines, Hunter's a total Nat Geo nerd and a yearly subscription is something I think he would be genuinely excited about. An alternate version of this is a comic book subscription, but I've been informed by a very knowledgeable authority that a subscription doesn't save you money and then you don't get the thrill of the comic book store. So... there's that.

Concert tickets. Yes, concert tickets do come in different forms than a bar code on your smart phone. Pop over to Songkick and see if any bands are playing around the time of your anniversary. 

Plane tickets. This might be a less budget-friendly option, but how great would a second honeymoon be? A less spendy option could be to give your husband a map, close your eyes and point, then head off on an impromptu road trip. (Hunter has more or less told me that this would be something he'd love, since he married a super-planner.)

World map. This breaks Hunter's rule of "no wall things," but we've already discussed how fun it would be to have a map to mark our travels. We have both traveled some on our own, and done a little more travel as a couple. Different colored push pins could notate our individual travels and our travels as a married couple.

Boudoir photo album. I know I said my husband's not into photo albums already, but I think this sort of speaks for itself. (Sorry Mom!)



Do you have any creative ideas for a 1st anniversary gift? What did you give your husband? 

7/29/14

Mix-and-Match Bridesmaids || How to Get the Look

After posting a few of our wedding photos, I was legitimately surprised by the number of people who commented on my bridesmaids' dresses. With so many different personalities and so many different preferences, I knew I didn't feel good about sticking all of my friends in the exact same dress and expecting them to all feel fabulous. I also wanted them to wear something that they would be more likely to wear again! (Yeah, yeah, yeah, all brides say that you can totally re-wear the bridesmaids dress, but little Lisa in the gold dress just rocked it again at an awards show!) Their look was absolutely one of my favorite parts about how the wedding turned out, and I'm thrilled I had such positive feedback about their look.

I had a couple questions in my inbox about how I was able to mix and match their dresses so well, and the answer to that is sort of two-fold.



The short answer is: my bridesmaids are awesome.

But the long answer is: it takes some planning on your end. And by that, I mean that you can't just tell your ladies "pick whatever you want but make sure to look fabulous!" and expect a coherent, cohesive look. (Really, that's just sort of terrifying and gives me like a full blown anxiety attack thinking about having to pick out a dress for someone's wedding and being responsible for the entire look of the day.)

While I wanted my girlfriends to have something they loved, I put some parameters on it to help them find a dress that both fit my vision and also made them feel beautiful. Some really important things to consider when giving guidelines for a mix-and-match bridesmaid dress:

Color. Probably the most crucial specifications you can give your friends is the color or theme they should look for. Make it easy for them -- I went to Home Depot and picked out paint chips in colors that I thought would coordinate. I think I gave them about 8 colors on the blush/coral spectrum, and then noted that I would love if at least one of them was in a gold dress. This way, they could literally take the paint chips out shopping with them to make sure the dress would match. Trust me: just saying "navy!" could result in about 20 different, clashing shades of navy.

Length/style. I kept this one relatively simple, saying I wanted them in short dress, because Texas. (I got married in October but you bet your ass it was still hot outside.) I also requested they avoid anything with sleeves, and outlined my vision of the ensemble -- romantic, flowy, and glamorous.

Materials. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of satin in any form. Maybe it stems from the forever-regret I had after wearing it to a homecoming dance and subsequently being haunted by picture after picture of my massive wrinkles, but still. Not a fan. So I let my girlfriends know that I wasn't into having it in my wedding, and they easily acted accordingly! And I didn't have forever-regret about my wedding pictures. It's also certainly easier to list the fabrics you don't want, rather than telling them all they have to be in taffeta.

While it may be easy to give these instructions and sort of teeter on bridezilla territory, you don't have to be that bride. I included this information in my bridesmaid-ask boxes, along with an introduction of all my bridesmaids, info about our day, the paint chips, nail polish to match the theme, and of course, champagne.

What other tips do you think would be helpful when going for a mix-and-match bridesmaids theme?