Monday, April 30, 2012

Life Experiences

Sometimes I have moments when I love digging into my past - flipping through old scrapbooks, pulling up pictures on my computer, and rummaging through my big plastic bin of keepsakes from years gone by.

At times, I feel like these moments I'm looking at happened so very long ago... and then as I dust off the mental details of a photo and remember where I was, who I was with, and what we were doing, it feels as though I was just in that moment yesterday.

As I look around the walls of our house, have a staring contest with one of my dogs, or fall to sleep listening to the hum of our ceiling fan... I think about what got me to this place in my life.

I don't open up about everything on this little written journal I call my blog - but sometimes, I wish I would have started it years before I did in 2008.  I am that girl who has journals, notebooks, and dairies.  It's how I reflect.

For many years - in elementary school, middle school & part of high school... I envisioned myself being older.  I pictured myself with long blond hair leaving the mall with shopping bags filling the trunk of my white VW Beetle.  While part of that vision has become my reality (I do drive a white beetle) - I never imagined the events that would happen and the people I would meet to build my character through the years of growing older.

When I finally made it to college, I remember something inside of me screaming - 'cherish these moments... stop wishing to grow older.  Be present.'.  And at that point, I started making a conscious decision to take small moments in.  I mean, really take them in.

I lived on my own in college for 2 years - in a tiny studio apartment.  I loved being there.  Although I wasn't often alone - I remember moments of standing alone, feet buried in the carpet looking at my open computer on my dusty desk, pictures scattered across the wall and feeling amazed at where I was.  I remember dancing around Union Square to a street band's saxophone with my new friends that I had met after I make the trek to college not knowing a single person.  I took pictures in my mind of those sweet girls in bright dresses, high heels, and boas... and was filled with warmth to know I had made friends in a new place.

I dated that 'wrong for me guy', and at the time of getting my heart broken regretted every memory with him... but looking back - I realized that relationship, and the others I have had, helped build my character.  It also gave me a platform to connect with other people and the ability to say "I've been there" when you're talking to a friend going through the same thing.  There is something about the chase and getting your heart broken that opens you up, makes you vulnerable, and builds your inner strength.  

All of the people I have met - through high school, college, internships, social functions, jobs, communities, events... they all have provided an avenue for me to explore & connect.  These memories with them, our conversations, the topics, ideas, and discussions have built my growing file of connections.

I guess what I am getting to, through all of this babble... is that every experience we have - whether big or small, good or bad, insignificant or important... shapes us into who we are.  

My mom and I were having one of our long phone conversations last week... we were talking about specific things happening in my life right now that sometimes cause me frustration and hurt.  She reminded me that even though our adventures may not always be positive, they give us the opportunity to grow, learn something.  It's another avenue to connect with others and we can file these experiences into our growing cabinet of life development and who we are. {Think Bruce Almighty... when he was meeting with "god" ;)}

I guess it's another way of saying you're in charge not of what happens to you, but how you deal with it.  I am trying my very best to see everything that happens, good or bad, as just another piece of my own life's cake.  And eventually, everything that is happening now has a direct influence on where I will be years from now... and those pictures, keepsakes, and diaries will end up in a plastic bin that I will probably be digging through some day thinking about how they helped lead me to where I will be.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oh, How Pinteresting...

Linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Michelle, at The Vintage Apple for Oh, How Pinteresting...
I am sharing a couple of my favorite pins from the week.
All of these pins can be found on my boards!
 I love this outfit...
Love the contrasts, and the mint pants!
An important thing to remember.
Hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tax Day Bunco

Bunco this month fell on Tax Day... our beautiful hostess Trish decided to just go with the theme.

We had a little baggie of fake coins that were handed to us when we walked in.  Anytime we needed a drink, to go potty, eat, ect - we had to give Uncle Sam {aka Trish's hubs} money.  At the end of the night, there were prizes for two winners... but you didn't know the magic amount to have left in your baggie.

We had delicious cocktails: Bank Statements

I just love these girls... so much great conversation & just a good time!
They were good... well worth the "money" we paid for them!
 Delicious homemade mac and cheese for dinner...
 Shan, Melissa, Erin, and me
 It wasn't a successful night for me ;)
 The hostess and her hubs
Group shot!

I always look forward to our Bunco dates... my month isn't until December.  I am already plotting themes ;)

Hope you're having a great week - any bunco players out there?  What are your themes?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Visiting Minneapolis, MN

I never imagined the nonprofit I work for would take me across the country... but it did for

What an exciting, powerful, and educational conference.  I learned so much about the capabilities and power of our youth.  We sat through conferences for much of the day, but at night - my boss, Jen, and I hit the town for a little while to eat dinner and do a little exploring.

We never made it to the Mall of America (cue sad music) but we did make it to the Target in their downtown area... Target is actually headquartered right there in Minneapolis.

We also were able to try three different restaurants for dinner...
Zelo was delicious - Jen treated me to Italian for my Birthday dinner :)
We also went to Key's Cafe, which was cute - a restaurant and bakery.
And the last night, we went to The Local, which is an Irish themed restaurant... fun decor and atmosphere. 

We stayed at the Hilton, and the conferences were taking place in the bottom of our Hotel - all the way through to the MN Convention Center.

By the way... my favorite part of Minneapolis?  The Skyways.  They are all over that city and I think it's brilliant.  You can walk across the city in these skyways.  I am sure if I were there during the winter months... these things would be even better!

I loved Minneapolis - it's truly a beautiful city.  As we flew in, you could see all of the lakes and trees.  I think I could live there... but maybe not during their winters ;)

Outside of the Hilton.
 We had to enjoy a cold one everyday after a long day of learning ;)
 The skyways... they connect all of downtown.  So cool!
Oh Target, I love you.  I also talked Jen in to buying a pair of Skinny Jeans... she loves 'em!
 Jen wanted this vase for her house...
 The outside area of "The Local" - loved their downtown area.
Music notes painted on the building, loved this.
 "Our World, Our Future"
Inside the convention center where we ate breakfast and lunch and sat in on Planery Sessions - thousands of people attended the conference and it was so cool to be a part of it.  I am lucky to work with such a wonderful woman that I got to share this with!
On the flight home, I realized we never got a picture together... maybe next year! :)

Hope you're having a wonderful start to your week!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Amador Wine Tour Last Stop: Wilderotter

By our last stop, we had tried several wines... but were still up for more :)

Wilderotter is in another beautiful location, backed up to acres of vines.  They have a quaint tasting room with all of their wines, and they make an olive oil.  After tasting 14 wines... we were all ready for another dose of our picnic lunch, so we brought it along and sat out on their back patio to enjoy!
 My guy & my girlfriends...
 Me and my Shells
Juju was our 'photographer' as the boys set up the food & bought a bottle of wine.
 I am so lucky to have this girl as my sister!
Leaving our last stop... so grateful for him planning out a beautiful day visiting these vineyards!

Little did I know, the next stop after this was a surprise gathering with a few more of my close friends and family :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amador Winery Tour 2nd Stop: Terre Rouge

The next stop on our Birthday Wine Tour through Amador was Terre Rouge.
The first tour through Helwig took more than an hour and we tasted several wines (I believe more than 10), so the next stop needed to include a picnic.

Terre Rouge has a litte bocci ball court and picnic table to spread out.  We brought along cheese, crackers, and sandwich rolls.  We also bought a bottle of wine inside so we could enjoy the sunshine!

Terre Rouge doesn't have a tour, but we tasted more than 10 wines - many of them by their partner, Easton.  Their tasting room is really cute, and I think they were impressed by our mustaches. :)

Casey brought them along, and we all played the part well!
 Our picnic lunch
 Creepy mustache ladies
 Inside the tasting room... yes, we left them on!
The boys playing Bocci Ball, the girls snapping pics
 TL and my BIL, Matty
 Me and Lady inside

We played a few games of BB, hung out in the sun while eating and drinking, and just had time to chat!  It was a beautiful stop.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Amador Winery Tour 1st Stop: Helwig

I love wine tasting... not just for the wine, but because most often wineries are in beautiful settings & it's a time to relax, unwind, and learn about wine.

The first surprise stop on the Birthday Wine Tour {see this post if you missed it} was at Helwig.

I've tried their wines before (very good) and heard many good things about their location.  I was very excited when we pulled up.

TL called ahead and booked a winery and cave (they have caves!) tour for all of us!

 Before leaving the house...
 My sis and college girls in the limo
The boys...
 Helwig: rustic & beautiful
 Wine tasting with Case
 Where they do their "fermenting"
 Lady, me and Shells
 Lighting inside the caves...
 Our tour guide explaining how they built the caves
 Me and my sis, Juju

One of my favorite wines from Helwig is The Round Up Red... it's a delicious blend!
If you live in or visit Northern California - don't overlook Amador wineries... especially Helwig :)