Monday, January 31, 2011

The Viaggio

As I mentioned in a much earlier post... my adorable sister, Julie, and her fiance are getting married July 16th, 2011.  
I am so excited.  Juls is such a special person, and I am so relieved that she found a guy to cherish her as much as our family does.  We adore Matt and are so excited for them to start their lives together!!
TL and I went over to my parents house this weekend to see my parents and spend time with Matt & Juls.  I picked up my bridesmaid dress (it's adorable, can't wait to show it off) and go see the place they are getting married at!
It's in Acampo, California and it's call The Viaggio.  It's a gorgeous place - it has a rustic, Tuscan, old barn sort of feeling - and it is so perfect for them!!  It's a winery, but it also has a large mansion, and huge beautiful grounds!  They are so excited... it's going to be amazing.
{In front, they're so cute}
{gorgeous signs all around the property}
{the big barn doors into the reception area}
 {she's going to be a gorgeous bride!}
{imagine tons of color from beautiful flowers after the spring!}
{isn't this an adorable entrance for the guests?  I love the lights hanging over}
 {the guys will get ready and stay here}
{this is where we all get to stay for a few nights around the wedding!}
 {I can't give away too much, but the inside is stunning!!}
{This is the entrance to main street
it says "where your journey to forever begins" - so fitting!}

After a glass of wine at the Viaggio and dinner at a local pizza place, we headed back to my parents house.  TL and Matt ended the night with a weggie contest.  We can't take them anywhere. ;)
Their wedding is coming fast... I can't wait!
I am so happy for them!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

about happiness.

Last night, I was having one of those nights where you lay in bed, toss, turn, open your eyes, close 'em, and sigh. repeat.

My mind was in full gear.  I was thinking about happiness.  It's such a sensitive thing.  We hear all the time that we create our own, we choose it, and often that karma can bring it.
Happiness can be an easy thing to pretend.  Like when you're a little girl and you dress up in high heeled shoes, a pretty dress, and a tiara - you actually think you're a princess.  Our imagination is priceless.

Now, we have the internet.  Our profile on facebook, our small box to write 'about me' on our blog, a full blog post with all of the whimsical things we think to write, and 140 characters to write whatever tweet we want.  We choose what to write, and regardless of whether or not it's completely true, we tend to have some belief that it is.

I'm not saying it's bad to pretend.  Writing a blog about the things we are thankful for after having the worst day is not a bad thing - it's redirecting our attention to the things in life that make us happy.
We also choose what to share about ourselves in the crazy web world.  It's scary - you really never know who is reading your blog.  A relative, an old friend, a coworker, a crazy ex boyfriend.  I appreciate the honesty of a lot of writers out there, and I also appreciate the people who choose to just write about things they love.  That's what's so great about blogging.  We can write & be perceived as whatever the heck we want.  I like that.

Last night I was thinking about my happiness.  You know, the real, feel it inside and your heart feels warm happiness.  I share most of that happiness on this blog.  My life is no where close to perfect, but when I focus on these things - I notice myself feeling happier.

But occasionally, like last night, I have to step away from my everyday things in life and think.  I have to think about whether I am pretending or if I really am living a life that makes me happy.

And I realized, compliant to what we often hear & what my mom told us growing up, happiness is often a choice.   We have the choice to control the things that are controllable in our life.  We can't control the people around us, we can't control the weather, the job market, a family members health... we can't control a lot of things.  In fact, we can't control most things.

But, we can control how we choose to look at the things we can't control.  We control how much we exercise & what we eat affecting our own self image, we control our attitude affecting our friendships.  We control how much we say or don't say, affecting the communication in our relationships.  We control our work ethic and its use in our jobs.

We control a measurable amount of things in our own life, and I think if we focus on the things we can control rather than the things we can't, then maybe we will feel we are doing the best we can.

So, that's what I am striving for.  To focus more on the things I can control rather than the things I can't.

I say strive because I think this control is a hard thing.  It's hard to know you have this control and it's not always easy to know how to use it.  And I think that's okay - life isn't always going to be rosey posey.  It could be a lot about balance.

I have always been a 'majority of the time' happy girl.  I choose to be bubbly by nature, usually optimistic, and with a smile 95% of the time.  I know it drives some people nuts.  And I am okay with that - it's not within their control.

I've also noticed that when I feel happy - truly happy - I take a second to look around and recognize that happiness.

I just want to give a 'shout out' to the great readers and writers I have met in this blogging world.  Thank you for your honesty, advice, and following along with what I write about my life.  I see blogging just like having pen pals from all over the world...  It's a cool thing!

{I know I said the words happy & control a lot in this post.  I'm not the best writer.  If you read along, thanks.  If you agree or disagree, thanks either way.  I'm just lucky I was able to write about it.}

Hope you had a wonderful weekend full of things that make you happy ;)
TL with the pups on our walk yesterday.
{my happy}

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy Friday!

"I was thinking that I might fly today.  Just to disprove all the things you say... please be careful with me, I'm sensitive, and I'd like to stay that way."
Happy Friday!
{hope you have some fun weekend plans.}

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Giveaway: My Favorite Things!

Since I started blogging, I kept telling myself I was going to do a giveaway... and I have never actually done one!  So, in appreciation for all the amazing "friends" I have met through blogging, I decided to do one in honor of reaching 600 readers!  (Thank you!)

{I don't care which country you live in, i'll mail anywhere.}

If you follow my blog & leave a comment, that's one entry.
If you follow me on twitter & tweet about the giveaway with a link to this page, thats 2 entries. (Please tell me in a comment that you tweeted, so I can follow you!)
And, if you blog about the entry and put a link back to this post, that will count for 5 entries. (Leave a comment letting me know!)

I'm giving away 6 of my favorite things.  This is so fun...  (I promise all of the items are new!)

Item 1:
A small "I love you" vase.
I absolutely LOVE small vases filled with fresh flowers.  It only takes a small bundle and it looks adorable.  The 'I Love You' vase is one of my favorites.  I have some in my kitchen now!  Wish I could send the fresh flowers with it!
Item 2:
Season 5: Sex & The City
It's one of my favorite seasons!  Even if you already have the set, it's a collectable! (This one is still in the plastic.)

"As it turns out, even the most together women can keep it together when it comes to love."
- Carrie Bradshaw, Season 5
Item 3:
Trader Joe's reduced guilt fat free brownie mix
I love brownies!  They are my favorite dessert.  And I can eat as many of these as I want ;)
Item 4:
Neiman Marcus footpetals Stiletto Survival Kit
(otherwise, how would I give away shoes?)
My mother in law bought these for me and my bridesmaids for our wedding.  They were the best thing ever!  Now, I have them in all of my uncomfy shoes, and they rock!  It comes with a stiletto bag for traveling, too!
Item 5:
A Mason Jar w/ Peanut Butter M&Ms
In the last year, I have fallen into an obsession with mason jars.  I have the blogging world to thank for that because they have taught me so many uses for them!  And life wouldn't be as sweet with out Peanut Butter M&Ms, so why not throw those in.  You could always put the M&Ms in the mason jar for a desk treat :)

Item 6:
I love writing cards and sending them in the mail!  I also love different colors and types of stationary.  I found these and loved them!  There are 8 of each style.

These are just a few of my favorite things!

I know it's nothing super fancy - but it's fun!
I can't wait to pick a winner.

The winner will be selected on February 18th!
The deadline to enter is by February 17th at Midnight :)

Good Luck!

So What Wednesday...

So what...
if I have 1305983 pictures of my dogs on my cell phone.  I think they're adorable!
if I have a large list of things to do around the house and I am writing a blog instead.   The vacuuming will get done eventually!
if I occasionally wear my work out clothes two days in a row because I haven't done laundry.  No one on the running trails will notice.  Right?
if Jess at Polka dots, pearls, & pink.. oh my! and I have been writing about 20 emails a day to each other for the last 3 days.  We have things to talk about!
so what if I talk to my dogs using a fake southern accent sometimes.  They don't even notice.
if our book club meeting last night had no discussion of the book.  We had a great time chatting about life and taking turns riding the bull at the town saloon! ;)
{missing a few of the girls, but a great night!}

Any "So Whats" to get off your chest?

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm Too Young For This...

I'm too young to be going through this.  
I think it's something most of us have said to ourselves at one point or another during our lives.  Whether it's the loss of someone close to our hearts, a tragedy, a sickness, or something we aren't sure we can handle.

A good friend of my sister, Laurel, is saying this right now. 

Her husband, Patrick, was recently diagnosed with cancer.  They will be married for 5 years this July.  They have two small children - a 2 year old and a 6 month old.

Laurel is doing every thing she can to be there for her husband.  She is also learning how to deal with the challenging journey of taking care of her kids & explaining to them why Patrick is going to be gone for a while when he is in surgery.

I know the power of this blogging community.  I've experienced it.  We encourage, pray and support each other.  

Recently, Laurel started a blog to write about their journey.

If you have a moment, stop by her page.  Send her encouraging thoughts & prayers - and tell her about what you have gone through as well.

Her blog is 2 Young 4 This Journey.  She is a great writer (she was a teacher before she had kids) and a wonderful woman.
{praying for patrick}

Shamrockin' Here I Come...

I am all signed up and ready to go for another half marathon on March 13th, and a 10K Superbowl run on February 6th.
The Shamrockin' Half Marathon is a fun run in Sacramento with a St. Patties theme... I am excited.  Fellow friend & blogger Leslee is running it, too!  And the super bowl run is on that Sunday morning.
The training has been going really well!  TL and I live in a hilly area, so it has been difficult... but I know it will all pay off.  I have also done quite a few runs on the treadmill, and that's always a nice break from the hills.
While I am out, sometimes I will take pictures. (You should see me run and multi task, it's probably funny to watch)  
I am on this website called dailymile. (If you're on it too, let me know!)  They have options to post pictures where people are running, and I love it - so that's where my inspiration came from to take pictures.

It was a mixture of sunny and foggy, but so pretty!

This is along the trail on the main blvd in our town and I love it!

I started running the last week in December, and so far, I am up to 5.25 miles.  I am hoping to run 6 this week, but on flat ground :)

You can follow my training on the left hand side near the bottom.  (Not that I really expect you to care) ;)

Also, I have some (I think) exciting news!  I am doing my first ever giveaway very soon.  I have already started planning it and getting the items and I can't wait.  It's a few of my favorite things.  It's mainly out of appreciation for all the great people I have met through this blog... so thank you!
Coming soon!

Happy Monday!  
Have a fabulous start to your week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Giddy-up girlfriends!

Last month (geeze, it's already been a month!) a few of the girls came to visit and see our new house and area!
It's always a good time seeing them and this unplanned random trip turned out to be a blast!

We went wine tasting at the wineries close to our house (thank you, TL, for driving us around) during the day!
 Michelle, Casey & me - it was a beautiful sunny day!
 Kissing the giant weenie dog at Vino Noceto
 Inside the winery!
Picnic & Bocci Ball!

After wine tasting, we went home & vegged out on the couch for a little bit and then... got ready for some bull riding at the local saloon in my town!
 Nova, me, Chelles, & Case
 It was hard to stay on... but way fun!
 Casey on the bull!
Chelles on the bull!
Crazy ladies!
 Casey became the DJ at the bar for the evening.  She was quite a hit! ;)

Have you ever been bull riding?
It was a very fun night... can't wait to see them again!
We missed a few girls, though.

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

PS:  My mom took it upon herself to write a comment on the In N Out comments page with a link to my blog - with out me knowing.  In N Out contacted me thanking me for the blog post.  They truly are the best business ever... and my mom is a nut - that's why I love her!
Also, thank you to all the new readers - I love discovering so many great new blogs!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In N Out: Why?

The last year of college started an obsession I still haven't kicked.  When I bite into a juicy grilled cheese from In N Out... mmmmm.  Delicious.  If you don't live in CA or the US (or the few states that have a location or two), you may have only heard about it.  It's a fast food restaurant, but the only reason it fits into that category is because you can drive thru and you get your food fast.  

It is one of my all time favorite places to eat.  I am so passionate about it that yesterday, while TL and I were in line, we started talking about all the reasons we love it so much.  
It has a very simple menu.  Fries, cheeseburger, hamburger, soda, milkshake.  But here's the thing... neither TL nor myself eat red meat.  So, how is this our favorite place?  Simple.  We order a grilled cheese with one slice of cheese (their cheeseburgers usually come with two), grilled onions, tomato, lettuce, special sauce, and the bun.  (On healthier days, I skip the cheese)
I can't believe I am publicly admitting this, but... I usually eat here at least once a week.  Sometimes twice, and I have been known to make tri-weekly appearances there.
Here's why:
It's cheap.  That grilled cheese only sets me back about 2 bucks and usually I don't get fries, but those are cheap too!
The people who work there are friendly!  In N Out has not been franchised and I hope their owners never do.  They have a quality of work there... good, clean, happy people who care about their work.  I know someone who used to work there and she said they were actually paid decently and had a yearly work party.  You never see their workers talking on a cell phone in the corner or goofing off.
They know that putting a restaurant on every corner isn't going to sell them more food.  The business aspect of In N Out is one of the smartest I have seen.  They only put restaurants near freeway exits, they only have one restaurant in a city... and only the lucky cities get 'em.  (Side note: when we were moving, we timed the distance to the nearest one because I wanted to make sure it was close.  Isn't that sad?)
The lunch and dinner lines to eat here can be dauntingly long... but they move fast and are efficient.  In all the times (god knows how many times I have eaten there) they have never messed up my order.  
Their PR people are genius.  They don't have commercials or radio ads.  Their main form of marketing is billboards letting you know a restaurant is coming up (thank goodness for those) and word of mouth.
And a big reason I love that place:  local, fresh, delicious ingredients.  You can taste the difference between a burger here and one from McDs.  
Also, that veggie burger is only going to set you back about 300-400 calories. The burgers aren't bad, either!  And... it fills you up!

Goodness, all this thinking about it is sparking my craving.  I can't believe that after all these years, I haven't gotten sick of it.
{both of these pics are from before I started having the tomato & grilled onion - it was just spread, lettuce, a piece of cheese & the bun.}

I guess I should side note that I don't work for In N Out and have no ties to it at all.  But maybe I should.

If I could do a giveaway and send this to someone outside of CA, I would.  I wish I could share it with everyone.  But... I am not sure how it would taste if it took a few days to send it! ;)

So, if you ever make it to CA or one of the few states that have a location... you have to try it!
And... if you eat here, what's your fave?
[In N Out rant over]
for now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tom Brokaw & Black Swan

Two things that have nothing in common... but both an experience.

Tom Brokaw.  TL and I listened to him speak at the Lesher Speaker Series in Walnut Creek.  We also got to meet him after the talk.  He was incredible!  Listening to him was like turning on the NBC Nightly news and having an interactive conversation with your television.  It was almost eerie hearing the strong voice of one of the very few journalists widely trusted around the country in person.  I was so fortunate to hear about so many of his adventures in work and his personal life.

My favorite quote of the evening from him was during his talk about social media and technology and where it is headed in the years to come.  He said "a tweet will never replace a first kiss".  So true... but it feels as though we as a society are trying to force it.  It was compelling to listen to his advice & wisdom.  His words were so wisely chosen and he was professional and friendly.
{Bro-in-law Joe, TL, MIL, me & my dad}
Black Swan.  Have you seen this movie?  What did you think?  I still don't know how I feel about it.  It was dark, interesting, and one of those movies that leaves you with this feeling to discuss it with the people you saw it with.  It wasn't the most incredible movie I have ever seen, but I didn't hate it.  Natalie Portman is one of the most incredible actresses.  She was fearless.  I think it's definitely worth seeing.
I hope you're having a great Wednesday.  :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Country Strong {Movie Review}

Country Strong, starring Gwyneth Paltrow & Tim McGraw (and a few new good looking people) gets 3 stars from me.  The girls and I from our movie club went to see it, and I thought it was good.  Not great, but not horrible.

Gwyneth does a good job in character of a drunk country singer.  Numerous times during the movie, my friend Shannon and I leaned into each other and said "she's a disaster."

It's all about a country singers climb back up the ladder from ground zero.  A few times during the movie, I was reminded of "Walk The Line" with Reese Witherspoon.  There are a few duet songs that almost look like they are copied.  If you like country music (and I do) you will hum along to a few of the songs.

The ending isn't what you expect, and I prefer non-predictable movies sometimes.

If you're looking for a movie to entertain yourself & the girls... go see it.  But if you're looking for a profound, moving experience... look elsewhere.

{this was after the movie... we all look like we saw The Ring!}
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bunco Sundays

I have heard quite a few women talk about Bunco, and when some of the ladies in my book club started talking about creating a group - I jumped in, too.  
Our group members are fabulous - we all live in the same area and have a lot of fun together.  We all met  in the last few months & it just clicked!
On Sunday, I hosted our first Bunco group "meeting".  Only 3 of us knew how to play, so it was quite entertaining to see us all learn.

This is all of us learning from Erin, it was the only semi-quiet part of the night.

It's an easy, fast paced game - and so much fun!
I got some party platter fajitas & plenty of wine... it was wonderful!

The wine & dessert table.
 I put little name tags on everyone's glass :)  (It's an effort to mask my bad hostess skills)
 We all met because of this girl... Jessica started the original book club group.
 Tables of four... but it's always moving! (Hilary finishing off a bottle of wine!)
 Tricia, Lynsey, Melissa, & Melissa!
 Max & Zeus felt they should be in the group picture.
Such a fun group of girls!!  (& that's Zeus mid flight)

Are you in any fun groups?
They're easy to start... just ask around! (& Bunco is easy)
These ladies have definitely been one of the highlights of moving to a new area!
I can't wait until next month!