best of 2010.

for me, the day before new year is about the challenges of the new year and the reflection of the year past.  basically, what made my 2010 so crazy-awesome & what will bring excitement and challenge for me come 2011?

it's always easier to start thinking about the new year than reflecting on the old, but it's really important to reflect...otherwise we don't learn from our "resolutions" or have the opportunity to embrace the successes & failures that come annually.  also, when i sit down and really reflect on how long a year actually is and how much i've accomplished over the past 365 days, it never fails to amaze me.

i would love to do this post vh1 style, but my comedian skills are rather lacking.  so instead, without further ado...here they are...my highlights of 2010.

*rang in 2010 with my best friend.  (my new year wish came true since he was *almost* home for an entire year before he had to leave again).
{photo taken by Chris}
*a. and i cross country skied for the first time together.  the conditions were perfect- a balmy 25 degrees, no wind and a soft powder that covered everything.
{highland forest}
*a part time job that allowed us the flexibility to come & go as we wished.  making it easy for a. and i to do everything we wanted while he was home.
*backpacking valentines weekend.  in the adirondacks.  in the snow.
*our first major diy project: the office.  it was a HUGE feat that involved a plumber, but we did it...in two weeks and we are *still* so proud of ourselves!
*trips.  to dc, ocean beach, va, san diego, nebraska, niagara falls & austin.
{san diego via sail boat}
{niagara falls}
*our second major project: the backyard.  this time it wasn't diy, but it was a huge decision.  one we're very happy we made.
{before, backyard}
{after-first breakfast outside}
*getting a csa.  this really improved the quality of food we were eating and made us much more aware of our health.
*wind surfing...hands down.
*spending as much time together as a. and i did.  i swear, we were like siamese twins and never, ever wanted to be separated.
*my new job.  that sent me to huntington beach & australia.  that challenges me to really make something of myself and pushes me to be the best.
*various concerts (dmb, little big town, rain, goo goo dolls) & a great lecture (michael pollan).
*our countless hours mountain biking & exploring new york with one another & friends.
*completed two races this year.  one triathlon and one 5k.  also a shout out to a. who completed his very first adventure race.  (his highlights are my highlights too!  such a proud wifey!)
*spent two weeks with my little sister in both dc and new york to celebrate her birthday and another week with my other little sis in nebraska to celebrate her 21st.
*purchasing our road bikes & using them often.
*the amazing support group of family & friends we have.  and their constant love for us.
*spending time with family for a delicious thanksgiving & a beautiful christmas.
{oh christmas tree}
whew!  we have a lot to be thankful for.  i had so much fun digging through the archives and re-reading my journal to come up with these tidbits.  but it was also much easier to remember everything now that we have a camera!  

we have also had a lot of sadness and stress and grief this year.  but the hard bits combined with the good ones make us who we are.  and hopefully as each year passes and the new one looms, i continue to love the person all those special times and tough times turned me into.

enjoy your last day of 2010!


today i love.

more green ideas.  here is a classy way to send paperless cards to everyone in your life.
calendars.  2011 is going to be another exciting year so why not capture everything in style?  
diy christmas ideas.  here's a great list if your looking for some things to do while family's in town.
garland.  i'm loving it all at the moment.  some ideas are here, here, here & here.
gifts that contribute to a great cause...and of course are pretty too.
easy ways to add a little holiday sparkle to your everyday wardrobe.
that perfect cup of hot chocolate.
books that inspire.
this lovely holiday gift tag.  pssst...they're printable & would look so cute on this year's presents.
hanging planters that are not only functional but so charming as well.
chocolate inspiration...even though they're not real.

there's still time to find that special someone something they will love!


i'll be home for christmas.

even if i have to fly half way around the world to get there.

last week i had an amazing 7 days of sun, sand, surf & gorgeous accents.  crazy, considering only 2 weeks ago i was posting pictures of the massive amounts of snow we've received.

thursday of last week i hopped a plane for australia.  for a company retreat.  not a bad place for "mandatory fun" (as a. refers to it).  the plane ride was long- like really long.  but to be honest, once we reached lax, it was hard to stay awake- making the flight from la to sydney a great time for some much needed zzz's.

we arrived in sydney at 6:30 am on saturday.  i still have a hard time wrapping my head around the concept that you lose an entire day when traveling around the world...but we made up for it on the way home.  as a matter of fact, i actually had two saturday dec. 18ths.  i won't bore you with the details of work and play, but here are some pics to recap the essence of oz and all the fun i had.


baby its cold outside.

it's been snowing for over 96 hours...without letting up...not once.

and i love it. 
we're all about the love....
i love the snow covered wreaths with red ribbons.  the still trees.  the quiet.  the twinkling lights reflecting off the white powder.  wearing hats and scarfs everyday.  big puffy jackets.  the huge snowflakes and the bright, bright white of the snow once the clouds break.

it's officially winter.  who's up for a snowball fight?
take a seat on this lovely snow filled afternoon.


a homemade christmas.

this probably isn't something i should share until after the holidays are over...but i can't help myself.  i know it's generally not kosher to share your gifts before giving them, but i thought this might be something worth making if you want to gift something handmade.  so here is an idea for those in your life who love to pamper and be pampered...homemade sugar scrub.
after a bit of research, i found most recipes call for the same basic ingredients: sugar and olive oil.  there are a few variations, but that's pretty much the bulk of it.  i found this recipe to get started and experimented with various essential oils, herbs and fruit.
the first couple body scrubs i made were tea tree and peppermint.  they smell ah-mazing!  then we experimented with lemon (hint: use lots of lemon peel and a light olive oil to avoid an olive oil scented scrub), rosemary and sage (i blended these in a cuisinart with olive oil and added them- separately- to the sugar with tea tree oil) and vanilla.  the scrubs that used the fresh herbs had a beautiful green hue and the others turned a soft yellow when thoroughly mixed.  

i found the jars at the dollar store (score), stamped and cut out the labels on textured card stock and wrapped the top of the jars with ribbon i had on hand.  i am so happy with the outcome and can't wait to make more.  i'll be using one as a tester but friends and family beware...homemade sugar scrub is coming your way!


30 miles.

{image found here}
in the month of november. 

remember this post about trying walk/swim/bike/run to afghanistan?  well, i've made it 30 miles.  three zero.  at this rate i might as well be crawling across the country.  it's embarrassing.  if someone other than myself was documenting this, it would be dubbed move.  i mean, that's only one mile a day...for the entire month.

originally, i wasn't going to post this.  i am seriously embarrassed at my lack of motivation.  but then, if i can't be honest here and post everything- good & bad, what's the point of having a blog.  so there you have it.  sure, it's better than nothing, but it's definitely not my best.

a fire has been lit.  and it's time to move.


mini book.

as i mentioned previously, i created my first mini book with many thanks and a lot of inspiration from elise.  i needed something to get me motivated, was fast to put together and easy to ship.  after all, it was going to a. 

i must say, these mini books are my new obsession.  i'm seriously obsessed.  once i had the pictures and supplies, the amount of time it actually took to put the book together was trivial...hours at most.  i turned on a few episodes of glee and cut, taped & punched away.

i created this book as a 5x5.  while my theme was nothing more than the month of october (it was a great month for us), i didn't generally stick with a color pattern.  i tried to repeat a lot of the same techniques for a unified look and found that the photos did a great job tying in the colors.  in the future i'll be sure to order more 5x7 photos- i love the full photo pages!

there are a lot of photos so i only included my favorites.  to view the entire album, please view my flickr account.


a holiday weekend.

i hope you had an amazing thanksgiving with family, friends and other loved ones.
i trekked it to my aunt & uncle’s in virginia.  the weekend was a wonderful and relaxing- even with the drive.  there were some mainacs on the road and i hit a bit of holiday traffic, but it was well worth the trip. 
we ate, drank & were merry for the entire weekend.  a few walks & adventures are always welcome after a food-fest.


thanks be to skype.

isn't it amazing how easily we can chat with someone (and see their face if we're lucky enough) across the world?  not just afghanistan- but italy, australia or brazil...all from the comfort of your home, airport, office or car.  seriously, where would we be without skype?

let me say this: it makes deployment so much easier...and anything that makes a year-long deployment easier, is something to be thankful for in my book.  i often wonder how couples stayed connected during those long, long stretches in world war 1 or 2.  Not knowing when they would hear from one another or even go home.  a. and i are able to chat almost everyday and i'm so grateful for that connection.  while most of the time we spend typing, there are the rare occasions that we can actually talk or video conference.  and those days are amazing!

so thank you skype.  thank you for brightening our days and keeping it possible to chat often...especially during the holidays!


thankful for weekends.

{image found here}
lying in bed until noon weekends.
watching movies all day weekends.
hosting parties and game night weekends.
spending time with the girls weekends.
catching up on errands weekends.
crafting weekends.
chatting with a. on skype...for a while...weekends.
cleaning the house with rockin' music weekends.
hiking, biking or outdoor weekends.

and the best are when you can pack everything into two little days...perfect weekends.


a natural thanks.

as i mentioned yesterday, i have many things to be thankful for.  and one thing that i'm constantly thankful for is nature.  seriously.  don't think this is a cop-out.  second to my families, nature has been the second largest influence to who i am today.
i grew up swimming in the ocean, hiking and backpacking, canoeing and kayaking, mountain biking and snow boarding.  today, i've added snow shoeing and cross country skiing to my repertoire.  for me, it's more than the love of being outside or being active.  i'm constantly learning about who i am and what i'm capable of when surrounded by trees, sitting on a surf board or riding down a hill.  the lessons i've learned from the challenges & achievements i've faced while being in and around nature have given me so much self-confidence, an appreciation of my limits & helped mold my spiritual and political beliefs (seriously).  hence, why i need to thank mother.  nature, that is.
she is unpredictable, volatile, and unforgiving.  she's also a comforter &  provider.  seriously, think about it for a minute.  she can throw anything at you and if you are willing to adapt (and know how to), nature will provide everything you need to make ends meet.  it's amazing.  i am constantly in awe of nature and the surprises she brings.  the sunsets, storms, temperate lakes, fierce waves, cool breezes, beautiful flowers and gorgeous tress...this list could go on forever.  she has helped me change my life, reduce my impact and improve my eating habits.  from adventure to beauty to health, there is truly so much to thank her for.


a week of gratitude.

with thanksgiving a week away, i thought i would spend the days leading up to the holiday noting everything i'm thankful for.  even with a. away, i have so many blessings in my life.  let me tell you: life is good.

today i think i need to direct my gratitude toward the loves of my life.  the people who i would give a shout out should i ever win a grammy, or the olympics, or a free box of girl scout cookies.  my family.  

my family started out so small and intimate.  obviously we had my extended family who played a large role in our lives as we grew, but my family was a unit.  we cheered each other on, fought like mad and loved each other unconditionally.  they are the reason i am who i am today and i'm so thankful for such awesome friends.
then, i fell in love.  to the man of my dreams.  he swept me off my feet and carried me away from my family to create another.  our family.  our own little unit.  and i love it.  i love the adventures we have and the amazing connection we found within one another.  of course, two is never enough, so we adopted two handsome boys.  and everyday i am so grateful for our life and our little family.
marriage wouldn't be complete without the family that comes with it.  and a. comes from an amazing family.  i have the brothers i never had and more sisters to add to my circle.  the humor and love and kindness within this family is astronomical.  and they love who a. and i are when we're together.
and then there is the family that chose me.  the amazing people in my life who have accepted me with open arms despite my quirks.  this family is open, honest and full of laughter and grace.  there is no judgment- only love.  i truly value every moment we spend together and i am so thankful for each and every one of these friendships.
without each of these families, i would not have grown into the woman i am today.  and i happen to like who i am, so i owe them all a huge thank you.  thank you for loving me and for being my rock.  i love you all so much!



there is an age-old debate about running: should you or should you not run with music?  

as a non-runner, i've always preferred to run with music.  however, as of lately, i've been running to a different tune (nice pun, eh?).   with the stresses of work, the daily banter, music and phone calls, i've found myself craving the quiet.  i have enough ramblings in my head to write a novel (or a blog) and thought i would opt to listen to myself for a while.  and so far, so good.  

for the past couple months, my runs have been music free.  i wish i could say the transition was easy.  i used music to get in the zone and distract myself when i was mentally ready to shut down.  but the music also dictated my speed and energy.  as the music increased, so did my speed.  But in another regard, when the song stunk, so did my performance.  now, i'm not saying the minute i dropped the tunes i qualified for the olympic trials, but i think my running has improved.     

i find the rhythm of my foot falls and breathing somewhat meditative.  i also play games with myself (and have learned new ones thanks to some other running purists) during my runs.  for example, i ran the veterans day three miler without music, and found myself for the last mile and a half counting in odd numbers to 100 (or 101 if you want to get technical).  if i made a mistake, i had to start from the beginning.  these brain teasers help distract me and i find i focus more on the quality of my run rather than just going through the motions.  i'm running because i want to, not just to get in the miles.

i'm sure there will be days when i want to run with bon jovi or tom petty, and i will.  i'm not a die-hard purist.  after all, running's supposed to be fun enjoyable.  so, i'll keep running sans-tunes for now and hope that as my dependency on music decreases, my running continues to improve.

*ps. did you notice the new bling on my sidebar?  as you probably know, i'm always up for a challenge- especially one that claims to keep you in shape over the holidays!  check it out and sign up for a bootie busting season!


the weekend, briefly

this weekend was the perfect blend of productivity, creativity and laziness. 

saturday started with a bit of work around the house- cleaning and winterizing and getting ready for friends.  i made some time to work on another mini book i started last week and made soup, from scratch.  i felt uber productive because not only was it my one day to get things done, but i didn't have internet.  for the entire day!  so i was able to prioritize and spent way less time dinking around.

friends came over, good times, yummy food and lots of laughter was shared.  we decided to end the night watching eat, pray, love.  this was the second time we attempted to watch the movie...to no avail.  we ended up eating popcorn & chatting instead.  i guess there's always next time.
sunday, despite the copious amounts of wine we consumed, i woke up early to run a veterans day three miler with some friends.  it was a small race, there were only 55 people running, but the race had spirit.  the weather was perfect & the course had a lot more hills than i was expecting.  regardless, everyone finished proudly and broke the times we were hoping beat. 
i just wish it was still the weekend....


first week paperless.

to be honest, i thought this would be a cinch.  seriously.  i really try to be aware of my waste, but once i eliminated disposable products from our kitchen, only then did i realize how much i actually rely on them.  for example, i put my oatmeal in ziplock bags each morning, i cleaned mirrors with paper towels, i placed paper towels over my food when microwaving, and i cleaned the stove and counter tops with lysol wipes.

i've had to adjust some of my habits, and really, once i came to terms with it, it wasn't that hard.  i keep my oatmeal in tupperware, i use microfiber cloths for the mirrors as well as dusting and that old trusty sponge becomes my go-to when cleaning after my cooking sessions.  as for the paper towels in the microwave...i'm still figuring that one out.

some "green" supplies i'm pining after are:
-unpaper towels.  these would be a great alternative and i wouldn't feel horrible about wiping up spills and other messes as i do now with my hand towels.
-glass storage.  you can never have too many.  it's a great way to always know what leftovers you have on hand, an alternative to plastic wrap and sandwich bags, and for frozen storage.  i saw a great tip here for storing frozen meals, so hopefully your freezer won't be full of containers.
-reusable bags.  luckily these can be found everywhere, but there are a few that have caught my eye: these, these, these and these.
-and i'm currently making my own cleaning solutions using some of the information i found on this website.

only once did i break.  and this reason involved a big, fat spider.  i neglected to take a picture to share- i was too concerned that it would run away and hide under my pillow.  i had a friend over and she's the one who spotted it.  so i wasted no time and grabbed a paper towel and basically i feel this use is completely justifiable but felt i needed to share since i did, technically, break the rule.  only after the fact did jen inform me about the broom method (smash and slide).  indeed, there is no waste- but you'll have spider guts down the side of your wall.  yuck.

so... so far, so good.  i'll continue to post as the process continues to evolve.  and any comments you might have that will help me through this process are greatly appreciated.


thank you.

first and foremost, i want to thank a.  thank you for all you do and the millions of sacrifices you’ve made; not only this year but in the years past and the years to come.  you are an amazing man and i am continually grateful to call you my husband and best friend. 

i would also like to send another huge shout out to all the amazing men and women who have and are currently serving our country bravely.  i may be biased since a. is one of these few brave men, but the tremendous amount of sacrifice they make to keep us safe is insane.  everything you do for us and this country is hugely appreciated- and hopefully the “thank yous” are expressed more than one day a year.

so please be sure to take a minute and thank the armed service members in your life.  they totally deserve a hug, maybe a kiss and heck, even a huge balloon bouquet.