Sunday, November 17, 2013

Embracing November

Today was a beautiful foggy Saturday up here on the mountain, which only made me appreciate where I live even more! I absolutely love this in between autumn & winter weather. These days really are the best days of the year :)
Darcy checking out the fog outside

As much as I’d love to jump ahead and bust out the Christmas goodies, I am trying to hold off until after Thanksgiving (. . . or maybe Thanksgiving night?). But that doesn’t stop me from watching these amazingly cheesy Lifetime & Hallmark Christmas movies (which, I must admit, some of these are pretty damn good). And it certainly doesn’t stop me from doing some early Christmas shopping.  ;)

Just remember to sit back, relax, and enjoy these days of Autumn & embrace the season of Thanks & Grace. This is such a beautiful time of year in both season and spirit.  November is the month for expressing gratitude, so take a couple of minutes each day to think about and appreciate how lucky you really are. None of us have it perfect, but I guarantee you have it pretty damn good ;)

Happy November everyone <3 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Celebrating Autumn

You know the holidays are quickly approaching when Christmas commercials are appearing regularly on TV and your local grocery store is selling several different styles of Santa hats. I love this time of year but I hate how quickly it all flies by. Even though I can’t slow down time, I think it’s important to take the time to soak up the season. One little way of doing so is to take note of your favorite things the season brings. So here is a list of mine :)

-The smell of logs burning on the fire and the sight of smoke rising out of chimneys while you’re taking a walk outside

Aaron & Darcy on a walk last year in Idyllwild

-The crisp feeling of the autumn air and the way you can see your breath when it’s cold at night

-Fireside cuddling ;)
Darcy & Bennet nestled together by the fireplace

-Perfect soup season! And time to bust out all those comfort food recipes!
Homemade pumpkin soup with cinnamon toast

-Time for COZY. Slip on those fuzzy socks & make yourself a cup of harvest tea or hot apple cider.

-One of my all-time favorites is when the leaves turn and bright colored trees paint the town. Right now golden leaves are scattered over part of our driveway and I can’t bear to rake them up-it just feels so festive!

-Candles during this time of year are amazing! Apple cinnamon, pecan pie, fireside, autumn leaves, pumpkin, harvest pear, blackberry spice—just to name a few. I go through candles soooo fast during the fall.

-All things pumpkin!!! Trader Joe's is THE BEST during autumn. Pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin soup, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin waffle mix, pumpkin ale, pumpkin dog treats . . . the list goes on!
Trader Joe's pumpkin bread not only tastes amazing but fill the house with pumpkin spice while it bakes in the oven for an hour.

-Beautiful running weather . . . which means I probably should be running more.

Happy harvest!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Big Move

I know. It has been waaay too long since I have last written. So much has happened since my last entry—most importantly, our big move!

It’s kind of magical the way it happened. I have dreamt about having my very own house for a couple of years, but in the distant future kind of way where we say, “I can’t wait until I (INSERT DREAM HERE) one day . . .” It is one of those big steps in life that deserves popping open your most expensive champagne (which of course we did upon moving in).  It started out as going house hunting, “to see what was out there.” We picked one of our favorite cities and my mom’s realtor and spent the day imagining ourselves in each home we toured. It was so incredibly fun to go house hunting and visualizing our lives filling up each and every house we walked into (although there were some homes where it was all I could do to NOT run out the front door). At the end of the day we had several prospects, and were seriously considering the reality of moving to this quiet mountain town we had spent the day touring. We were familiar with Idyllwild but it would be different to live in this small town full time. Could we really do it? Could I really go from living in the city and near the beach my whole life to suddenly living in a modest town resting on a mountain top? We flirted with the idea and the houses we saw, keeping one a little higher on our list. We decided we had nothing to lose by acting on our dreams. Let’s just see what happens. We put an offer in on a house not too far from town, with a circular driveway, pine floors and ceilings (but not in the cabin-y way you are probably imagining), that was perched up on a little hill from the street. It was beautiful. It was us. The listing price was fair, so we were prepared to offer full price . . . but we didn’t have to—the seller accepted our first offer! (Side note to other first time buyers: This is extremely rare!) The following day the seller received three more offers.  Trust me when I say timing (and prayer!) was everything.  If we would have waited a few more hours, I would not be writing this entry from the desk in our office overlooking these beautiful, venerable pine trees standing just outside our window.
                                          I am grateful every day for these views.

Throughout this process of house hunting and buying our home, I realized the value in taking chances more than ever. When it comes to going after your dreams, sometimes it pays to be bold and just go for it. Three months ago I would have never thought I'd be a home owner at 24. And never would I have imagined our first home would be so beautiful.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Running Start - my first half marathon

Despite typical traditions for the holiday, my Cinco de Mayo was not filled with Coronas & pinatas, and followed by a hangover. I woke up at 4:45 am Sunday morning and headed to Orange County to run my very first half marathon. I know this sounds less than ideal for most, but if there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I'm a runner. I'm no crazy get up every single morning and run ten miles kind of gal, but running has definitely become part of who I am.
I signed up for the race with the assumption that I'd train a little longer and harder for the big day. Little did I know that I would not even be running my typical 3 days a week prior to the race, let alone the extra conditioning that I really needed. We ended up moving a few weeks before the race, and during the stress of all the packing and moving I wasn't running. Once we finally arrived at our new home and started unpacking the boxes I was sick-and not the kind of sick that lingers around for a few days. I'm talking about the kind of sick that lasts for 2 weeks. Up until the day before the race I had people telling me I probably shouldn't run. Not only had I not trained for it, but my ugly mucous cough was reason enough to not run 13 miles. The way I looked at the race was that I really had nothing to lose. It would be my first half marathon so I had no PR and no expectations. I would take my time and just concentrate on finishing, not by any time specifically. In hindsight, I am so glad I didn't back out.
I was literally shaking when Aaron drove to the runner drop off at 5:30 that morning. I was so worried that I would get a terrible cramp from being out of shape and somehow be unable to finish. Once I got out of the car I did a little warm up run and DID NOT STOP STRETCHING. I stretched every muscle I knew how to stretch in my body. I thought back to the 10k I ran 3 weeks prior, and remembered the side cramp I got in the last mile of the race which slowed me down. I was literally stretching until the last seconds before the race.
The closer I got to the starting line and the more runners I saw, the more excited I became. There is something so invigorating about seeing all these different people from all over the country-the world even-coming together for the same challenge. Over 2,250 runners from 45 states and 21 nations entered the marathon. This included 13 runners from the Boston Marathon. One of my friends said "I bet there won't be as many people running this year because of what happened in Boston." My husband said the opposite-that there would be more than ever before, and he was right. The marathon, half marathon and 5k were all sold out. It was emotional and inspiring seeing all those runners sporting Boston gear in support of all those affected by the tragedy. Red Sox caps and shirts, and "Boston Strong" attire stood out in the crowd. Everyone there was running for their own personal goals, but together we were all running for a greater cause. That's the beauty of running-it's such an individual sport, but you're never alone, especially during these races. There was a moment of silence before the race for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, and then the first wave of runners took off.  I started running with the second wave, right behind the 2 hour pacers, a few minutes after the 6:15 start.
I love the beginning of every race. The moment you cross the starting line you realize all the anticipation, the mental and physical preparation, all comes down to this exact moment. All of us who were huddled together seconds prior to the horn, are now splitting up, running our own race at our own pace, yet all heading to the same destination. 
The first mile was slow. Actually the first 3 miles were slow. In a 5k and 10k it takes a minute or two to get past the crowd, and break away from the other runners so you can run at your own pace. In a half marathon it takes miles (at least in this race for me). Mile 4 I finally had enough leg room for my stride, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt. Aside from finishing, my goal for this race to pace myself. I knew I could do the distance-I had done it before. Aaron had told me before I got out of the car, "You're just going on a run-a really long run, but it's what you do. You're a runner."
The run was beautiful-I would recommend it to everyone. It doesn't get much better than running alongside the Pacific Ocean and homes worth over $10 million, while witnessing breathtaking views at the bluffs overlooking the estuary reserve. The weather was overcast all day-ideal running weather in my opinion. I felt strong. 
There were a lot of emotional moments in the race. I don't know if it was because I was so happy to finally be running again and competing in my first half, but a lot of little things got to me. A woman fell during mile 4 but before she could even hit the ground a competitor and complete stranger pulled her up. No one even hesitated to help, because just as we continue to witness (Boston), it's human nature to help out, to be good. Aaron later told me that seconds before she was about to cross the finish line, a runner started swaying and was about to pass out. Two other runners nearby saw her and literally carried her across the finish line. Going up the bridge on PCH, there was a runner pushing a woman in a wheel chair. The woman in the wheelchair was pushing herself as hard as she could, using all the muscles in her arms to get herself up the hill, and as I ran pass her all I could her were words of encouragement. "You're doing amazing," and "you're awesome," a couple of people told her. Words of encouragement can literally help others go the extra mile.
There were a lot of times when I couldn't stop laughing. Not even halfway through the race, right before reaching a hill, a barefoot runner yelled out, "It's all downhill from here guys!" I found the obvious sarcasm amusing. Especially since everyone was anticipating the half mile uphill in mile 6. Once I did reach that hill, there were so many volunteers and spectators cheering us on, it was unbelievable. I absolutely LOVED the signs people held up- "runners have the best butts," "WTF (where's the finish)," and "worst parade ever," were a few of my favorites. The volunteers and spectators really were incredible. I can't tell you what a difference it made to look up and see Aaron and my little schnauzer Darcy waiting for me and cheering me on in the crowd. Even the people we didn't know were constantly giving us words of encouragement and high fives. It was simply fascinating and it made me feel unstoppable.

Can't wait for the next one . . . well maybe I can (still a little sore) :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

A New Chapter-The Big Move

After a year and a half of being married, Aaron and I have finally moved and gotten a place of our own! This is such a big step for us and I am so excited for what the future holds! Although we are still living in California, the move was a big deal-we relocated closer to Aaron's job, which put us further away from our friends in Long Beach and my mamma. It has been an adventure so far-exploring our new surroundings, finally unpacking some of the gifts from our wedding that we didn't have room for before, and putting our place together.

Leaving our old place-bittersweet
Moving day at our new place!!