Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas is almost here!


We've been so busy getting ready for the holidays. Tonight we are hosting the Christmas party for Mike's band, this coming weekend my cousin and her boyfriend (who I am so excited to meet!) are staying with us for Christmas and my grandparents from Minnesota are coming right after that. So excited about all the visitors coming in and the celebrations we are about to have with family. And since the events that happened in CT last week, we have realized that spending time with our family is what is most important. We will be holding our nieces and nephews a bit tighter this holiday season and appreciate the time we get with all of our family, but especially our family members who have devoted their lives to teaching (both our moms, our sister-in-law, aunts, my grandfather, cousins). I may not have cookies baked or been able to come up with as thoughtful of gifts as I would have liked or decorated the house too much, but we will be with our family and that's all we could ask for.

Last week Mike's mom gave us his baby book to look at and I came across this picture of Mike's first visit with Santa. Isn't he just so cute? I'm so hoping our future kids have a full head of curly hair like that rather than the total lack of hair I had (I was basically bald until 5!).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

San Francisco Trip

A few weeks ago, we took a little trip to San Francisco. We haven't taken a vacation in a long time (and a vacation with just the two of us in a VERY long time), so it was really nice to get away and relax for a bit.
Mike and I have both been to San Francisco, but I was about 12 years old and he went with a local, so he didn't explore much outside of that area (he can't even remember what area it was). So of course we had to do a few tourist things like Fisherman's Warf, Ghirardelli Square, Boudin Bakery, etc. We spent our first morning exploring around that area. It was so fun to be right by the water!


We made our way over to Russian Hill (didn't realize it was Russian Hill until AFTER we hiked up it!). Silly Arizonans, we thought we could walk up the hill and be fine. Should have taken the $6 trolley ride up! Once we got to the top, we walked down Lombard street and admired the flowers and greenery...although we pretty much did that everywhere, it was so lush and green!


After eating lunch at the Boudin Bakery and from the crab stands, we headed on our tour of Alcatraz. The boat ride was so fun and gave us some awesome views of the city!


I had taken this tour before, but everything is different when you are 12 years old, right? The island is beautiful, so lush and green.

I hadn't remembered much of the tour on my first trip there, but I remembered it being awesome, and it was! Mike enjoyed it quite a bit...maybe too much? He loved checking out those jail cells. And me? Not so much.

For our second full day, we took things a bit easier. We went to the ferry market building in the morning and ate breakfast and lunch there. I really loved all the local shops inside the ferry building, I wish we had a market like that in Gilbert. I would be there all the time! So many good restaurant options too. We sat outside with our breakfast and looked out over the water, such a beautiful view!


After lunch we headed to Union Square and got more of the city feel. I went ice skating at the outdoor rink and LOVED it! I've always wanted to ice skate in Rockefeller center next to the big tree, so this was pretty close to that experience.

And of course I can't forget all the amazing food we had! I did quite a bit of research before our trip to make sure we hit some of the best spots in town that also accommodated to gluten free. I was shocked at how many places knew exactly what I could and couldn't have, they were so knowledgable! It's hard to decide which was my favorite meal, but I did enjoy the gluten free bakery at the ferry market building...oh and also the pizza and breadsticks at Tony's...but then the Vietnamese restataurant Slanted Door was incredible too (with beautiful views).

Overall it was an amazing trip. It reminded us that we definitely needs to make time and budget for trips like this more often. We're already talking about where we'd like to go next, Seattle maybe?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Newborn Photoshoot

This past weekend my sister-in-law asked me to take one month pictures of their adorable baby boy, Cruz! I'm by no means a professional photographer, but I love taking pictures and have learned how to get some decent images out of my DSLR (after taking classes here).

Cruz is such a sweet baby, he was very patient with us and gave us a few really great shots. Of course, by the end he was just done with this whole shoot and was crying, but I snapped a few of those quickly and they actually turned out great. :)

I've also seen an example that was really cute on Pinterest of detail shots of a newborn put together into a collage. I took the best ones I had and pieced them together. Such a cute way to remember how tiny and delicate he was as a newborn!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gluten-versary

Yesterday was my one year gluten-versary! I can hardly believe it's already been a year since I started my elimination diet and learned of my intolerance. It's been really difficult at times (for me and for family), but cooking and dining GF has become my lifestyle and I'm so happy with the results it has brought to my health and well-being. I am happier, not sick every day and if that wasn't enough, I lost 20 lbs in the last year! I truly did not adapt to this lifestyle to lose weight, but it definitely doesn't hurt with the motivation to keep going.

I must note that eating gluten free, packaged carb products will NOT make you lose weight. In fact, that would probably make you gain more weight! Rather, the fact that I have cut out a ton of processed foods and not replaced gluten-filled items with processed replacements has helped with the weight loss.

I'm not going to lie though, there have been incredibly difficult times and plenty of people who just don't get it or think I'm being "over the top." Yes, I have to have them change their gloves at Chipotle before making my meal, not because I'm "that" intolerant, but because they touch flour tortillas all day and then put their hands all over my food. Trust me, I hate asking them to do that and I have tried eating a rice bowl without asking them to change gloves and it just doesn't work. No, I cannot just pick out croutons or bread pieces from my salad. And no, I can definitely not just have a "cheat" day unless I want to be sick for three days afterwards.

Although there have been tough times, I am just so grateful for the family and friends (and especially husband!) who have been so understanding, accommodating and encouraging. A lot of times I feel uncomfortable or annoying asking people what they put into their food that they made for me or asking to avoid certain restaurants because I literally can't eat anything on the menu, but those friends and family who have been so understanding and supportive are the reason I'm able to stick with this. I can't thank them enough!

The above image is one of my favorite easy meals, pad thai. The pasta is rice noodles and I use GF soy sauce. Just note that I add more sauce than the recipe calls for. I also add in more siracha because I like it spicy and I boil the rice noodles instead of soaking them, just like the instructions on the box say.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Auntie Time


Last week I went over and visited our sister-in-law and newest nephew. I played with Cruz so mama could have some free time, we had so much fun! I like how he's looking at me in the first pic like, "why so many pictures, auntie?" But soon after he was fast asleep. I could have held that sleeping baby all day, he just sinks into your arms. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gratitude


Yesterday I noticed a few of my facebook friends starting a month of gratitude post for November. I just love that idea, so I searched around for a gratitude journal app (I'm a little obsessed with apps lately!) and came across Gratitude 365. I love how it lists all your entries into a calendar and you can add images. I'll aim to at least enter something every night before bed, but won't stress if I forget. :)

The past week I've been realizing how much I have to be grateful for in life...loving husband, wonderful parents, adorable nieces and nephews, beautiful house, good job and on and on. It's always good to be reminded of those blessings!

Image Source

Be still.

Every month, the blog Oh, Hello Friend posts free desktop backgrounds. I usually use them on my computer desktop because they have a monthly calendar on them and they are so cute!

This month I used the computer desktop calendar, but loved the phone background so much, I updated that too. This month's phrase is so appropriate for me as of lately. I have been trying to keep a calm mind and have been learning to improve my patience and worry. I am getting back into a routine of yoga, bike-riding (went today with Mike around the beautiful park and lake in our neighborhood, that is definitely going to become a regular thing for us!) and meditation.

I also downloaded a few apps to help with the meditation, because honestly, it can be really boring to do in pure silence. There are a few great meditation apps that I'm trying out, Pranayama Breathing and Lotus Bud. The first just helps guide you through deep breathing and the other sends you reminders throughout the day to take a moment and do a few deep breaths to keep yourself calm and focused. Right before bed I've been enjoying the Take a Break app for 13 minutes of meditation before going to sleep.

So far I've loved how these things have been working, but I know its going to take more than a few days to really establish a routine with these things. I'm slowly learning that my health is more important than working a few extra minutes or watching one extra tv show before bed, but its difficult finding that balance between work/fun and relaxing/getting things done.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finally, a Fun Purchase!

Last week we ordered a few fabric and color options for drapes for our main living room. We actually weren't anticipating investing in curtains quite this soon, but they were on sale (and they couldn't tell us how long that sale would last), we have been going crazy not having any kind of covering on our sliding glass door and we fell in love with a specific color at first sight. Even though we don't have blinds upstairs yet, we just thought the curtains were a good idea right now (we can manage with our paper blinds upstairs for a bit longer!)...it will allow us to start feeling like our great room is actually put together and that we can start to decorate. Plus this was more of a "fun" purchase and we've been doing a lot of necessity purchases lately.

Restoration Hardware has beautiful drapery options. They'll even send you as many samples as you want for free (no shipping charges!). Without even telling each other what our favorite was, we both decided on the darkest color in the opaque Belgian linen style. They should be here next week, we're so excited!

For some reason our walls look really tan in this pic. They really change color depending on the lighting and time of day. The more we live in this house with the Revere Pewter wall color, the more we love it! We actually just got a bed quilt that is the exact same color as our walls! (Thanks for the great find, Brooke) :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Farmer's Market, Brunch and a DIY

Lately Mike has been working a ton (music at night and teaching during the day). It's been great since the summer was a bit slow, but that means we have less time with each other, especially at the typical times that couples are usually together. Since the weather is so nice and my goal has been to slow down a bit, we decided to head to the Gilbert Farmer's Market and eat brunch at Postinos afterwards. It was so nice to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather and each other. (We just love the patio at Postinos in Gilbert, we want to have trellises in our backyard like in the picture and you can almost see the green tile fireplace that I just love behind Mike...inspiration everywhere!)


Saturday afternoon I finally got around to making our fall wreath for the front door. My mom and I had taken a trip to Hobby Lobby last week to gather supplies for fall decor. Sometimes its so difficult to find decor there that I like, but once you modify it and take it out of all the clutter in the store, it looks pretty good! This wreath cost about $27 in supplies. I bought a twig wreath (not in the fall decor and used a coupon), one leaf garland (also not in the fall decor and also used a coupon on this) and then picked up a few berry and mixed sprays in the fall area. I took the sprays apart so they weren't clustered up. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out! Now for all the other seasons I can take these items off and use Christmas/winter, spring and summer items!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weekend Happenings

This past weekend, Mike had an out-of-town wedding in Tucson, so I spent a bit of time alone and with my family. Before he left, we went to the hospital to visit with our new nephew Cruz and our sister-in-law Tana. Cruz is the sweetest little baby, I just loved snuggling with him!

On Saturday I spent some time cooking and packaging up meals to bring over to Steve and Tana. My sister-in-law Brooke also made a few meals, so together we loaded them up with nearly a week's worth of goodies. It was really fun getting all the meals together, but also so difficult not to eat any of it! I have decided that during the weekends and nights that Mike is gone, I will start making freezer meals and prep food in advance for ourselves...that is if I can get away from the tv and off the sofa. ;)

Saturday night I went with my sister-in-law, parents, niece and nephew to their neighborhood's fall festival. It was really fun hanging out with my not-so-little nephew and hearing all of the funny new things he is saying and watching my niece be a pre-teen girl (hang out with her group of friends and get chased around by boys). I can't believe how fast they have grown up!

When Mike got back into town, we made a delicious dinner of ribs, sweet potatoes and our new favorite side, grilled veggies. Seriously, they are so easy, all you do is cut them up into big chunks, coat them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and lay them on the grill until they have nice grill marks and are soft. Best tasting veggie side ever!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Welcome, Cruz!

Mike's brother had their baby this morning and he is just so ridiculously adorable. Welcome to the world, Cruz! We love you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sarah's Bridal Shower

This past weekend I hosted my friend, Sarah's bridal shower along with the other bridesmaid (my friend Liz) and the bride's sister/matron of honor. Sarah's wedding is an outdoor rustic backyard wedding and is somewhat casual, so we wanted to give her a shower that would be a bit more formal and glam, but still had a playful and casual side to it, so we went with a pink glam carnival theme. Everything turned out so well and the bride loved every detail!




I couldn't be happier for Sarah and Doug as they begin their married lives together. It was so fun planning this for Sarah and having her friends and family over to shower her with love and gifts. Less than two months until the wedding!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

As of lately...


The past few weeks have been rough. In college, I had a lot of anxiety that I learned to deal with through meditation and yoga. Since then I've really learned how to deal with it quite well, but the past few months have been a bit stressful to say the least. I won't go into detail, but I'm just so happy that I have this amazing husband who truly helps me with my anxiety (oh and him doing the dishes is a plus too!).

Over the past few days, I've really done a lot of thinking about how to calm my mind and feel more at ease. After talking it through with Mike and freinds, I've come to the conclusion that a few things need to happen:
• Relax. Sounds easy, but sometimes I get so caught up in my to-do list and everything that needs to get done and keeping the house spotless (and stressing when it's not), that I forget to just chill a bit. And when I am relaxing, to not worry about what needs to be done or feeling guilty because those things aren't being done. Everyone needs a break!
• Go on a trip. It feels like we desperately need time away and just with each other. A day trip up north would have sufficed, but we're excited that we get to go to San Francisco in December!
• Healthy routine. This means getting an exercise routine back and watching what I eat. For the most part we eat healthy at home, but its the small things I need to watch that make me feel not so great. It's also so nice outside, that it's time to get the bike tires pumped and get out there. It's amazing how eating habits and exercise can affect your mental well-being.
• Learning to say no. I love being involved in everything, but it ends up causing me more stress than anything. I need to learn when to say no and feel like it's ok to do so.
• Focusing on us. I spend a lot of time on my own since Mike works evenings and nights. I'm ok with this schedule since it allows us to be together all day and when we do have kids, it really is the perfect scenario for childcare, but sometimes it causes me to tag along with others and focus a bit too much on what is going on with everyone else and helping them instead of what is going on with us and doing stuff for ourselves.
• Do things that we enjoy. There are a lot of things that we haven't done recently that I wish we were (hiking, farmer's market, day trips, shopping, decorate for the holidays). I guess this relates back to focusing on ourselves, but also making sure I have time to do things with and for others that I enjoy doing (spending time with family...especially our nieces and nephews, helping friends with their weddings, invitations, lunch/dinner with friends).

Yesterday was a big day for me to catch up on life and get a few items back in order. It felt so good to accomplish things and make my way through a hefty to-do list, it actually helped me relax at night. There is still a lot out of order and things that need to be done, but we'll get there...and learn to chill out while doing it. :)

Prepping for the Bridal Shower!

Just a little project I have been working on lately, along with one of my bffs and the bride's sister. This Saturday is the bridal shower for my lovely friend Sarah! I WILL remember to take pics at this party. Lots of details to get ready!

In other news, my dear friend Lyz is also engaged! I couldn't be more excited for her and her fiance, David. He is wonderful and I couldn't imagine a better guy for her. :)

Housewarming Party

A few weeks ago we hosted a housewarming party for family and a few friends. We had so much fun giving tours of the house and finally having everyone see our new place! My brother provided us with a frozen margarita machine and we made carnitas tacos. We were so busy entertaining our guests that we forgot to take pictures! I finally remembered when all that was left was a mess and an exhausted husband. :-/

House Updates: Powder Bathroom Fixtures

Just a few quick updates on the house... We switched out the ugly shiny silver fixtures in the downstairs powder bathroom for oil-rubbed bronze fixtures. We had the builder install the standard fixtures in that room because we weren't sure what the upgraded option would look like. We had them upgraded in our master bath though and were actually pretty happy with how they looked. I'm still glad we didn't do it downstairs, I just love the feel of that light fixture (yes, we changed the bulbs later so it didn't look so funny) and the uniqueness of the faucet.

It's exciting seeing different rooms getting our personal touch added to them, makes it feel like home! We are close to feeling like we are ready to hang things on the walls and find decor items, but just want to take our time and make sure what we pick out is "right"!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Paint: Before and After

It's been a while since we last posted because we've been busy moving into our new house! I'm still waiting to get a final picture of the front of the house because they are still fixing a few paint touch ups...well, its actually the front door and part of the trim, I'm not sure that qualifies as a "touch up"!

We're loving our new house and are finally starting to feel like it is home. I think we were in disbelief the entire first week that this was actually our house. It was something that took eight months to make happen and it was finally here! We've been busy getting our stuff arranged and trying to fill empty spaces without much success. Looks like we'll need to do some shopping. ;) This past week we decided on a main paint color and hired professionals to paint everything except bedrooms, the office, laundry room and upstairs bathrooms. We're extremely happy with the results and feel like the house is already more warm and cozy and that we have a nice "palette" to start with.

Here are a few before and after pictures of the main rooms that we had painted:


Entryway & Front Door
We're pretty excited about how gorgeous the front door turned out. We asked for them to paint it a similar color to our cabinets and they went back and forth to the paint store until they had the perfect color. We will be replacing the entryway light for something that is a little more our style and that matches the rest of the oil-rubbed bronze in the house. We'd also like to find a unique sofa table to place on the wall of the railing. I'm very excited about decorating our staircase for the holidays!


Loft
This room is super boring right now, but someday we plan on placing our sofa sectional up here and making it a comfy movie room. For now, that lonely blue chair will sit there all on its own.

Powder Bathroom
We still have some work to do in the room, but we knew we wanted the walls to be a deep blue color. We have a bronze light fixture, faucet, towel holder and toilet paper holder that will be installed soon. Will post more pics of this room!

Mudroom
Definitely not the most exciting space, even after the paint job, but it's one of the spaces that we're most excited about! This space was originally an enclosed closet with an option to upgrade it with cabinets, but we decided to have them keep it open. It is located right between the laundry room, kitchen and garage, so it is where we will pass every time we get home. We plan on installing a built-in bench with shoe storage and shelves and hooks above. We'll also create a family command center here with a calendar, chalkboard and place for keys.

Great Room
This is the space we will probably focus on first. That table and those chairs are being borrowed from my parents (we sold our old set since it didn't fit and was not the color we wanted). We're also working on getting window coverings since our handy paper blinds keep falling down now after getting the house painted. After blinds will come curtains and this room will dramatically change! We also plan on mounting the tv higher on the wall so it is easier to see from the table and kitchen. We also talk about getting new furniture someday that are separates so they fit in the space a bit better and fill it out. All in time. :)

Kitchen
Ahh, my favorite room in the entire house! The kitchen was nice before, but the paint just gives it an extra warmth. We are definitely changing that nook light above the table (the builder has to move it as well), adding pendants above the island and one day we'd like to get a subway tile backsplash installed. Barstools would be nice too so people can hang out with me while I cook.

We didn't have the other rooms painted because we want to do unique things to them and we're not quite sure what that is yet. The kitchen is definitely my favorite room in the house, but my office is a close second. It is still white and a complete mess, but hopefully in the not so distant future we will paint it, get wood plank tile installed and figure out the proper furniture arrangement.

Making this house our home has been so much fun! It's a process that we're sure won't ever really be done, but we are loving it. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The big day is almost here!

We can hardly believe it, but we are finally closing on our house this weekend! We've been "homeless" for exactly four months now, so we are definitely ready for this next step. This process has been going on since the first of the year. Now that it is actually here, we almost feel like we can restart our lives again...like we've been on pause for four months. We're so anxious to get settled in and start this new journey!

Today is my last day of work without a real office...and then I will get to work here! I love all the windows (six in all) and that I will have a great view out to the front. The office is also set off a bit from the rest of the house, so there is a definite feeling of separation. We always talk about how perfect the layout of this house is for us. I'm not sure we could have found something that hit all the marks on our wish list like this house did. After months of dreaming about it (8 to be exact), it is TIME!