A Wild 2015, A Wilder 2016

This past year has been a wild, wild ride. The highs were pretty high, but the lows were pretty low. Overall, it has been a year of painful growth, though I can tell that 2016 is not going to be much different; but I'm certainly more excited about the things that will facilitate the painful growth. 

Wonders of Nature by Jannicke C Hallum on 500px.com

2015 forced me to look closely at my relationships, my past, my dreams and goals, life and death... Near death, death, healing, and life were constants in 2015, and I learned to accept these things and release them to God. My husband experienced even greater transformation this year, from being seriously injured to being accepted to one of the best MBA programs in the country. I discovered and accepted what I'm truly passionate about, and I've been able to articulate my own goals for possibly the first time in my life.

Palm trees growing on sandbar in tropical ocean by Gable Denims on 500px.com

2016 brings even more upheaval, but it's the kind that we're choosing and we're truly excited about it. I have a special project in development for this little brand right here. We're uprooting our life in Dayton in the next 6 months. We already have two vacations booked for the first half of the year. We have close friends achieving life milestones this year. It is truly the first time in my life, that I am as genuinely excited for my life as I am nervous. 

Endless Summer #2 (Click to view on Black) by Matt Anderson on 500px.com

I have hope for the year ahead. We live in a strange world, no doubt, but it is a waste to live your life in fear. I have lived many years in fear and anxiety, and I have missed many opportunities to be happy. I only have one life, and I intend to live it as fully, as openly, as lovingly, as fearlessly as I can. Many things don't happen the way we want them to, and many people do things that we cannot agree with, but that is no excuse for choosing not to embrace the life YOU have. It is YOUR life and you can choose how to respond the lives others live around you. It is a waste of your life to not be present in your own life. 

Paradise #2 by Matt Anderson on 500px.com

So, as we round the corner into 2016, I encourage you to take ownership of your decisions, your words, your desires, and your happiness. Maybe that means stepping away from social media, maybe that means finally embarking on a diet that will achieve your health goals, maybe that means talking openly about a problem in a relationship, maybe that means quitting your job to do what you actually love, maybe that means releasing your pride, maybe that means tackling your job with fearlessness. Maybe it means letting yourself experience the happiness you feel in moments throughout the day.

It's not worth it to live in fear. 

It's not worth it to live in fear. 

It's not worth it to live in fear.

Go out in the age of worry and say, "worry, get out of here."*

CHEERS to 2016!

Please click the photos to view the amazing photographers on 500px.com

*Quote by John Mayer

Photo Diary Los Angeles

We spent two and half days exploring LA this past weekend because Joe had an interview for the part-time MBA at UCLA. Since I had never been and we are considering relocating there, we thought it would be good to explore and see what we could of the city. I mostly took photos with my iphone, so here they are!

 First impressions... Oh.

First impressions... Oh.

 Venice beach. It blew my mind how big and wide and empty the beaches were!

Venice beach. It blew my mind how big and wide and empty the beaches were!

 Venice Beach from the pier.

Venice Beach from the pier.

 The canals of Venice.

The canals of Venice.

 Golden Hour along the coast at Ranchos Palos Verdes.

Golden Hour along the coast at Ranchos Palos Verdes.

 The gate at Bel-Aire near UCLA.

The gate at Bel-Aire near UCLA.

 Loved seeing this turtle hangout spot at the Botanical Garden at UCLA

Loved seeing this turtle hangout spot at the Botanical Garden at UCLA

 Botanical Garden at UCLA. Such a lovely thing to have on a campus!

Botanical Garden at UCLA. Such a lovely thing to have on a campus!

 Walls and walls of fabric. Mood Fabric LA. I came home with some knit and some ultra suede.

Walls and walls of fabric. Mood Fabric LA. I came home with some knit and some ultra suede.

 Somehow we managed to get lost in the hills near Laurel Canyon, but we found this view!

Somehow we managed to get lost in the hills near Laurel Canyon, but we found this view!

 Santa Monica. So so cool.

Santa Monica. So so cool.

 The pier was crazy busy on this Saturday night.

The pier was crazy busy on this Saturday night.

 Had to take a photo of the Route 66 sign as I've been on quite a bit of it in the southwestern states.

Had to take a photo of the Route 66 sign as I've been on quite a bit of it in the southwestern states.

 The ferris wheel. 

The ferris wheel. 

 Joe sitting in a Tesla for the first time.

Joe sitting in a Tesla for the first time.

 We took a 25-30 mile round trip bike ride from near Venice down to Redondo. This is an empty Manhattan beach.

We took a 25-30 mile round trip bike ride from near Venice down to Redondo. This is an empty Manhattan beach.

 I loved the architecture in Manhattan Beach!

I loved the architecture in Manhattan Beach!

architecture-manhattan-beach
 These little alleys/courtyards between houses are so adorable. I'd love to live here...

These little alleys/courtyards between houses are so adorable. I'd love to live here...

And that concludes my photo diary. I took more photos but not really much more in terms of variety. We also snaked our way downtown and through Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and Culver City. I loved the stretch of beach/shopping/housing along Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beaches. Theres a little triangle of shopping and dining in south Redondo that I loved immensely. That's where I'd want to live if we move to LA. But we'll see how these other interviews go...

Friday Inspo

It's been a while since I shared some of my latest inspirations, but I'm feeling very excited and inspired today, so what could be better? Click photos to visit the source, and possibly more gorgeous photos!

 Emily Faulstich. Wouldn't this be a fun DIY?

Emily Faulstich. Wouldn't this be a fun DIY?

 Emily Faulstich's photos have been so lovely lately.

Emily Faulstich's photos have been so lovely lately.

 One and the same.

One and the same.

 Dirtbag Darling gets to SUP in the morning. So jelly.

Dirtbag Darling gets to SUP in the morning. So jelly.

 This is my motto right now. Print available - click the photo.

This is my motto right now. Print available - click the photo.

 Submerged. Lady Slider does it again.

Submerged. Lady Slider does it again.

 Getting lost in white stone alleys sounds so good right now.

Getting lost in white stone alleys sounds so good right now.

 As leaving this home in Dayton becomes more real, my desire to finish the spaces here grows. I'm obsessed with these pillows, even though they wouldn't fit our decor. Next house...

As leaving this home in Dayton becomes more real, my desire to finish the spaces here grows. I'm obsessed with these pillows, even though they wouldn't fit our decor. Next house...

 As I grow more attached to the idea of owning a boutique, I've been on the hunt for design inspiration. Can't wait to get started on it!

As I grow more attached to the idea of owning a boutique, I've been on the hunt for design inspiration. Can't wait to get started on it!

 We're going to take a couple days to visit LA for Joe to have his interview at UCLA. I'm so excited to visit this city and see if it would be ok to live there for 3+ years!

We're going to take a couple days to visit LA for Joe to have his interview at UCLA. I'm so excited to visit this city and see if it would be ok to live there for 3+ years!

 We have St. Martin/Maarten on our itinerary next year. We're splitting a beach rental with another couple, and although it's not on the calendar, we've paid for it and I'm super excited to float in the crystal clear Caribbean waters.

We have St. Martin/Maarten on our itinerary next year. We're splitting a beach rental with another couple, and although it's not on the calendar, we've paid for it and I'm super excited to float in the crystal clear Caribbean waters.

Enchanting Charleston

Recently my husband and I and another couple took a very quick road trip to Charleston, SC. It involved a van, some medical equipment, and plenty of snacks, but we made it there in 12 hours, had one full day, then drove 12 hours back home on the third day. It was great fun and Charleston is absolutely lovely. I've only ever heard great things about Charleston, and it definitely lived up to its reputation. Here are a few of my favorite shots from our trip, as well as the places we ate and stayed and shopped. 

 Our hotel, The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. Superbly charming.

Our hotel, The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. Superbly charming.

 Lush courtyards were hidden between nearly every building. I loved it!

Lush courtyards were hidden between nearly every building. I loved it!

courtyards-cemeteries-charleston-sc
charleston-sc-church
 Just so cute.

Just so cute.

 The row of mansions along the water are all painted in such pretty, salt-washed pastels!

The row of mansions along the water are all painted in such pretty, salt-washed pastels!

 Every alley way, courtyard and walkway between buildings was utterly charming. Like a fairytale.

Every alley way, courtyard and walkway between buildings was utterly charming. Like a fairytale.

beautiful-couple
oak-tree-charleston-sc
 My favorite little souk-like shop. Glittering lanterns, textured pillows and woven boots! 

My favorite little souk-like shop. Glittering lanterns, textured pillows and woven boots! 

flowers-spikes-details-charleston-sc
 The Mills House. They have a champagne hour here from 3-4!

The Mills House. They have a champagne hour here from 3-4!

pink-mansion-charleston-sc

Hotel: The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel. Excellent service, free Starbucks coffee, free champagne hour from 3-4, good weight/fitness room, clean and comfy guest rooms!

First Night
Dinner: Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar. Great cocktails and excellent seafood. I don't even like oysters and their fresh oysters were pretty great. Down by the water, make a reservation to get outdoor seating!

Second Day
Breakfast: I ate at Toast. The cheesy grits and omelette were perfect fuel for a day of walking! Meghan ate at Eli's Table; despite finding eggshell in her meal, she thought it was otherwise pretty good. Tom and Joe ate at the hotel, which was a little pricey.

Lunch: Jim & Nick's Bar-B-Q. I had a really hard time finding something to eat here that was gluten free, but they did their best and used lettuce leaves for my chicken tacos. (Who doesn't have corn tortillas??) Everyone else loved their dishes. More importantly, it was near all the good shopping.

Dinner: We had a glass of wine at Charlestowne Tobacco & Wine while we waited to be seated. Felt exclusive though. Magnolia's for dinner was superb. They were very accommodating to my gluten intolerance, and brought out my own special loaf of crusty, warm, soft-in-the-middle gluten free bread. Best meal of the trip!

Shopping: We didn't do a whole lot of shopping, but if you see an antique store, definitely pop in. Pretty sure some of that stuff was used by the Founding Fathers. There are lots of great little stores hidden off the main shopping drag, you really won't be disappointed if you walk around and go into whatever strikes your fancy. We also went to the Charleston City Market, which is listed as one of the top things to do, but I was a little disappointed to be honest. There was a lot of cheap crap mixed into the quality stuff. Very busy. We didn't take any carriage rides, maybe next time, but if you find the stables, don't hesitate to talk to the drivers and owners and pet the horses. That made me happy!

Last Morning
Breakfast: We ate at Toast again. It was fine, but we could have gone somewhere else. Our waitress wasn't great and it was a very different experience than the previous morning. Not sure what that was about!

Overall, we had a great impromptu trip. I had some anxiety before going, but I'm so glad I said yes to a new adventure and got to see a city that I had heard so many positive things about. It would really be a great city to retire to! And I'm sure we'll be back to visit in no time!

Rainy Day (Pre Vacation) Inspiration

We had a whirlwind Easter weekend, and now only a handful of days remain before we make our trek to Florida! It's rainy today, of course, so I thought I would share some of my favorite images from Pinterest and Tumblr this week. Enjoy!

  Surreal. Australia  is so alluring...

Surreal. Australia is so alluring...

 Who knew Peru was so colorful! I am loving  Lady Slider's  photo diary.

Who knew Peru was so colorful! I am loving Lady Slider's photo diary.

 Mega beach babe,  Rosie Huntington Whitely .

Mega beach babe, Rosie Huntington Whitely.

 I want to know the story as my own.  xx

I want to know the story as my own. xx

 Feeling like a  rebel  lately. Gotta get out and go!

Feeling like a rebel lately. Gotta get out and go!

  This gorgeous home in Tangier, Morocco , has me dreaming of a life abroad! 

This gorgeous home in Tangier, Morocco, has me dreaming of a life abroad! 

  No source on this pic , but don't you just want to cruise around in this truck and wander the house in a bikini every day?

No source on this pic, but don't you just want to cruise around in this truck and wander the house in a bikini every day?

  Tortuguero, Costa Rica.  Looks so peaceful and mysterious. 

Tortuguero, Costa Rica. Looks so peaceful and mysterious. 

 Can I be you? Doesn't  this look so dreamy ?

Can I be you? Doesn't this look so dreamy?

 And if I'm a rebel, I am  breaking new ground . 

And if I'm a rebel, I am breaking new ground

Stay cheery friends and do what you love!

Desert Wanderer

So with much anticipation and excitement, I boarded a plane about two weeks to have a little fun and downtime in Phoenix with my cousin. 

At the airport however, what I thought were allergy sniffles turned into a little something more, and by the time I arrived in Phoenix, I was well aware I was trying to fight off a cold.

The next morning I picked up some drugs and some groceries and tried to chill by the pool (love that pools are so common out there). It was too much and I went back inside to finish my book (The Island by Elin Hilderbrand). 

That evening my cousin, Rachel, and I went to Elephant Bar in Peoria. It was delicious, the decor was very fun - safari themed - and it was so nice to catch up.

The third day there I decided to go out to Scottsdale and visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. I was glad I booked a tour on my iphone before going out there since many of the tours were sold out and it's cheaper to book in advance. I booked the insights tour, and was very impressed with it. Before Taliesin West, I went to Old Town Scottsdale, which is very kitschy and a bit touristy. I did find a pretty larimar ring to buy. Note: the sellers are open to negotiation, give it a try. I got $10 off my ring just by showing some hesitation. 

Taliesin West was like a dream. I have loved FLW's style for a long time and hearing so much more about his passion for this location, as well as his philosophy on designing for the land, was so inspiring and something I just connected with deeply. It made me want to drop everything else and go to the school there for architecture! 

By day 4 I was feeling a little better, visited Rachel's class for a couple hours, and rallied enough to go up to Thunderbird Conservation Area for some hiking and photography. I did the loop northwest of 59th Ave. which was a little over 3 miles, and I did maybe another mile of the southwest portion. It was really lovely. I saw two very large lizards, some small lizards, a snake, and plenty of Gambels quails, which I have fallen in love with. Their little gurgly peeps are too much. 

That evening, after some pretty normal Mexican food, we set off for Indio near Joshua Tree in CA. I booked a room at the Best Western Date Tree Hotel with plans to hike most of the day Saturday and take a day trip on Sunday to Palm Springs.

The Date Tree was fantastic. The bed was so comfortable and the reception desk had fresh dates and fruit infused water available to guests. Sublime. 

On Saturday we ventured into the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park to hike the 3.2 mi (6.4 round trip) trail to the Lost Palms Oasis. Note: fill up on gas before you leave a town. We cut it a little close. The hike was really nice, beautiful and surreal. The palm trees seemed huge and out of place. We went fairly early in the day and the trail was quite busy. But, I really can't blame anyone because the weather was absolutely perfect - sunny, breezy, low 70s. I would so love to come back and hike some of the northern trails; we didn't see a single Joshua tree, ha! After our hike, we got ice cream at a super sketch mall, relaxed by the pool, showered, and then had dinner in La Quinta at Solano's Bistro. It was rather overpriced and overrun with rich retirees. I kind of liked La Quinta though - I am a huge fan of the Florida retirement/equestrian community vibe (I know, weird) and that's what La Quinta is.

Sunday we meant to sleep in, well one of us did. I woke up early and got a good breakfast, lots of coffee, and started reading outside in the sunshine while Rachel slept in. It was a luxury I won't get around here for another month at least, I had to take advantage. Eventually we set out for Palm Springs for some shopping and ogling.

We grabbed coffee at Koffi North on N Palm Canyon Dr. The shopping was good, it was a strange mix of hippy/authentic/kitschy/upscale. It was very peculiar. I found a sweet little metal Gambel's quail to bring home, which makes me very happy every time I spot it in our living room. 

There was no shortage of fine, delicious dining, and if given too much thought might have been overwhelming. But we had burgers in mind and ducked into the first place that had burgers on the menu. It was the right choice, because that was perhaps the best burger I've ever had. The Crazy Coconut is a very small place with a goofy staff, and super burgers. I had the Spicy Bob, no bun, and Rachel had the Maui Wauwi. 

As we left Palm Springs, we tried to get a good look at the houses. I was really very surprised to find how private the residences actually are. The fences are tall, the bushes and trees are positioned for privacy. I was also surprised at how small Palm Springs is and that it really is nestled right up against the mountains. It's an interesting dynamic for how popular and well known Palm Springs is. 

Valentine's Day Date Ideas

Valentine's Day is just a week away! Whether you are planning something, or listening to your significant other tell you it's not important, Valentine's Day is an admittedly fun way to show someone you love them. And despite what your partner says, they'll be disappointed if you don't do at least a little something, so I thought I might gather together some ideas for the people like me who haven't planned a single thing.

1. Tell the people you love that you love them! That goes for single and taken people, mom and dad, grandparents, friends, neighbors. Express to them in no uncertain terms that you really, truly care about them. 

2. If you don't normally cook in your household, now is the time to step forward! The family cook really does put a lot of effort into the daily acts of cooking, whether your family is 2 people or 5. Make your beloved cook breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, or all three! And yes, dessert is required!

3. Go find the sunset. Take your beloved on a sunset hike, or walk, or drive, and hold each other tight as you watch the sun go down. Talk about your dreams and your fears. Share a kiss.

4. Bring your sweetie their favorite treat to eat. Share it at the table with some candles, no cell phones, no tv, just you two. A little tip - only buy what you'll eat that night. Don't buy the whole cake, it won't be special anymore when you're eating the leftovers the next couple days.

5. Go all out if you can. Find the best dinner you can afford to eat. Book a swanky hotel for a night. Buy the best bottle of wine or bourbon. Pick out the prettiest piece of jewelry. Make it totally over the top. (Not recommended for all...Use discretion.)

6. Keep a Valentine's Day book. Find a small, well-made journal, and write a note to each other every V-Day. The only rule: You're not allowed to read what the other person wrote until you've written yours. 

7. Try something new. Go to that restaurant you've been eyeing for 3 months. Try a dance class. Go paint and drink at an art studio. Find a complicated and interesting recipe to try together. There's such joy in exploring together!

For the single folks:

8. Get together with your friends. Go out to eat, make a meal together, head out for a walk. Just being with another person will relieve you of the V-Day pressure. And, call your parents and siblings!

9. Treat yourself. Wear your favorite item of clothing. Enjoy your favorite drink or cocktail. Draw a bath. Do something you love and don't allow yourself to feel bad about being alone, because being alone is not a bad thing!

10. Cook a really fabulous meal. I don't know what it is, but taking the time to cook something really special for just yourself is so therapeutic. If you "don't know how to cook" or "are bad at cooking", allow yourself a judgement-free night to carefully follow an intriguing recipe and improve your cooking skills. You'll get so wrapped up in, you won't even remember that Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday.

Phoenix

In just a few short weeks, I'll be heading to Phoenix to visit my cousin and run around the desert!

I'm so very excited to get some warm air and sunshine on my skin. It's been too long. 

I'm only there for 5 days, and we'll be spending Saturday and Sunday out at Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, mecca of mid century modern architecture.

I can't decide if I want to try to see the museums and fun things in Phoenix, or do more outdoor-based things. 

I know for sure I want to see Frank Lloyd Wright's house, Taliesin West. And if I'm up in Scottsdale, should I hike Camelback Mountain? Should I spend time at the pool? Should I go for a horseback ride? 

My cousin will be working during the day, so I'll have a lot of time alone to fill up. I'm also going to need to hunt down some jewelry and/or other souvenirs, as I really can't get enough of Southwestern jewelry and decor.

Who's been? What did you do, what do you recommend? Where's the best shopping? 


What to buy?

Trying to decide how I want to spend some Christmas money...

custom-aloha-print-chucks-converse

These custom Aloha print Chucks are haunting me. What do you think of the color palette I chose?

monogram-fur-bathrobe-potterybarn

Then again, with the temps dropping to single digits (and lower :( ) this week, this monogrammed fur trimmed bathrobe is still singing sweet lullabies in my ear.

And my husband's vote for a few additional clothing items is valid too. Poor man has had to listen to me complain about my empty wardrobe for a while now. I've been on a tossing spree; nothing is cute or fits me right and out it goes.

Another thing I'd love to get, is my own pair of boxing gloves and a new yoga mat. My cat destroyed my last mat. I've been eyeing the Tone It Up mat for a while. 

tone-it-up-yoga-mat

So what do you think? I cannot decide! Maybe I should just go with all of the above. Seems reasonable, huh?