Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues

There's nothing like the dread of returning to "the real world" after a vacation or a three-day weekend, am I right? Vacations often give us a finish line to look forward to, and once they're over, it can be a little harder to get back into our routines than usual. It took me a little bit to get back into the swing of things after leaving Hawaii (can you blame me?!), but I've found a few strategies that help. Here's a few ideas I've used to beat the post-vacation blues:

1. Unpack Quickly
Whether you love or hate packing, we can all likely agree that unpacking is worse. But from my experience, the longer you let that suitcase sit in the corner, the more you'll be wishing you were still putting it to use elsewhere. On recent trips, I've done my best to unpack and do laundry immediately after I return, and it's helped me to feel more productive and ready to enter real life again more quickly. Bonus tip: Clean your house before you leave. Coming back to a clean space feels SO much better than the alternative.
2. Print Your Photos
Whether you're missing a great vacation or a relaxing three-day weekend, hold on to those memories by printing them. If they're fun memories but you don't want to invest in framing them, you can print 4x6 photos and stick them to a mood board or tack them up in your office. If you have photos you love from a special place, consider printing them larger and hanging them in a home office or bedroom.
3. Snag Some Souvenirs
Selecting a few things that you can either put in a memory box or incorporate into your everyday life after travel is another good way to make the most of a holiday. Obviously this is a little easier and more fun from an extended vacation, but even if you're staying home, the next three-day weekend may be a fun excuse to grab those melamine plates you've been eyeing.
4. Get Back Into Routines
Routine sounds so boring, but I find it so life giving. Whatever it is for you — exercise, list making, goal setting, coffee drinking — get back into it ASAP after a vacation, and you'll feel lots better.
5. Schedule Time With Friends
There's one thing home has that vacation never will — your community. Right after we got back from Hawaii, I texted my friend Kinsey so we could plan a get together with a few of our friends. Having something to look forward to after a fun break makes the "in between" moments more exciting.

Whataya think?! Anything I missed? How do you recover from "post-vacation syndrome"? Let me know!

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Week in Oahu, Hawaii

Consider this post a late entry into my travel journal — a few highlights from my week in Oahu! I had a really fun opportunity to go to Hawaii with my fiancĂ© (do you ever get used to that word!?) and his family last week. It was one part exploring, two parts relaxing, and 100% a trip I'll never forget. Here are a few of my favorite highlights, in no particular order:

P.S. If you're not into reading, you can just look at my Facebook album of photos or my Instagram instead. But I'm guessing you're here expecting words on the screen, aren't you??

Well, let's start with the obvious. Everything in Hawaii is gorgeous.

We stayed in Ko Olina and spent most of our time on that side of the island — it was beautiful. All of the greenery was even more lush than I imagined it would be.

This is one of the things that was one of my favorites looking back on it. Ha! Diamond Head is a crater that was formed about 300,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption, and people hike it now for both its military history and the #views. From the top, you can get a bird's eye view of some of the prettiest parts of Oahu. The hike was only a mile, but it was pretty steep, about 560 feet from the bottom to the top. It was well worth the effort, though, and I would definitely do it again. If you go, I would recommend wearing sunscreen and tennis shoes with good grip on the bottom. And take it slow coming down — I ate it falling down a couple stairs. OOPS.

Both Diamond Head and the Dole Plantation are things lots of Oahu tourists do, for good reason. They're fun! The Dole Plantation is like being a kid at the Willy Wonka factory, but with pineapples instead. They've got lots to learn about pineapples and Dole Whip, which was fun to try.
Stating the obvious here, but every vacation is only as good as the people you spend it with. And I seriously hit the jackpot — so thankful.
Well, of course you knew I was going to mention the food. Some highlights in my book were Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, Monkeypod, Duke's and Scratch Kitchen. (I can't say enough good things about Scratch! Go there!) I also had a great macadamia nut latte from The Curb.

The North Shore is a really fun place to drive around and explore. The shrimp truck I mentioned is in this area, so if you're going to Oahu, I would definitely put it on the list of places to visit. Waimea Valley is gorgeous, and filled with every terrain you'd want to see in Hawaii.
It's called a swap meet, but no worries if you don't have anything to bring and swap. It's really an open air flea market with everything under the sun. And it's also literally under the sun, so wear sunscreen. Keep your eyes peeled for fun trinkets and the most gorgeous mangoes around.
And last but not least... WEARING A FLORAL CROWN
feeling like a Hawaiian princess is fun please don't judge me.
What a fun trip! Still pinching myself that I got to go, and I'm so thankful for the photos and memories I can hold onto forever.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

5 Ways to Bless Your Friends for Mother’s Day

If there’s anything I’ve learned from seeing many of my friends have kiddos, it’s that being a mom is obviously rewarding, but it can be really challenging, too. As a non-mom myself, I’ve only learned about motherhood secondhand from some good friends. But whether a child is entering the “terrible two’s” or not, I’ve heard a full day of "mom-ing" can be really exhausting.

And I believe it! Honoring your mom for Mother's Day is an obvious to many of us, as it should be. But I want use this day to recognize some of my friends who are either preparing to be mothers or are already living the life, finding Cheerios in every nook and cranny and trying to avoid stepping on Legos. Here are a few ways I'm thinking you can bless a mom, peer to peer. Let me know if you think of any others!

1. Set Up a Play Date
"But I don't have a kid," you're saying. Even better. You don't have to have a kiddo of your own to have a fun picnic at the park with a friend who has a little one. You know in schools where they brag about the student/teacher ratio in a classroom? Typically, the idea is the fewer students per teacher, the better. You're just improving the student/teacher ratio on this play date! Your friend can rest a little easier knowing there are two sets of eyes on her child, and you can enjoy an afternoon together.

2. Offer to Babysit
The cost of hiring a babysitter can add up pretty quickly. If you have a close friend who needs an "off duty mom" night, consider how you can offer to help. You'll get to spend a few hours with a cute baby, and you'll enjoy it even more knowing you're giving your friend a much-deserved break.

3. Buy Some Flowers
Normally I'd say buy her a plant, but a mom's already got enough on her plate, so you don't want to add to that by giving her something else she has to take care of. Flowers can be a great, thoughtful gift that'll be sure to brighten her day.

4. Send a Note
Snail mail is the best of the best, but a hand-delivered note is second best, in my book. It was one of my resolutions at the beginning of the year to send more letters because I truly believe it's one of the most thoughtful ways to communicate with another person. Telling a mom how hard you see her working will mean a lot to her — I guarantee it.

5.  Let Kids be Kids and Moms be Moms
I think the best way you can bless your friends, or any mom you know, for Mother's Day is to be a safe place to let them talk about how they're doing. Whether your friend is new to motherhood or not, nobody has it all figured out right from the start, and nobody should be expected to. Give grace freely and openly to your friends who are moms, and to yourself when you become a mom.

And if your mom-friend is a really good one, maybe she'll let you borrow her mom jeans. xo!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The "OMG-You're-Proposing" Pose

I never thought it would be me. Oh, sure, I figured I would get engaged. But what happened next? Never pictured it.

It's THE pose. You know, the "OMG-You're-Proposing" pose, the one you've seen in approximately 12 out of 21 seasons of The Bachelor. Hands over face, intense squint masking tears, doubled over... It's me. There's proof.

I figured THE pose would be an impossible feat that required lots of secret living room practice like the "smize" or the sorority squat. I was wrong. It is, apparently, the natural human response when someone asks for your hand in marriage.

Anyway, in case you missed it, I got engaged! A month ago, so this post is overdue. Austin asked me to be his wife (!!!) on the third floor of a bicycle museum, and our talented friend Joe Bulger (Bulger Creative Co.) was there to capture it all, hence, how I know I did the pose. Here are a few favorites that Joe took:

You can see more from our engagement session over on Joe's blog. xo!

Monday, February 13, 2017

6 Things Every Girl Wants for Valentine's Day

If you've been with me for the last two years, you might remember "9 Things Every Girl Wants for Valentine's Day," and I must say, the results were great for me personally. I got a boyfriend AND carbs, so that's a win-win. If those nine ideas didn't work out as well for you, though, here are six more ideas:

1. Kisses

Some may say I'm jumping in on the deep end here, but every girl wants a kiss!*

*I would be REALLY sure the girl wants a kiss if you're planning to give a kiss on the lips. Chocolate kisses are typically more acceptable.

2. A Mix Tape

Go old-school and make your Valentine a romantic mix tape! Or go new-school and make the gal a sweet Spotify playlist. Sometimes the simplest gifts are the most thoughtful.

3. Jewelry

If she already has five gold necklaces, she probably wants a sixth. You know, for options.

4. Social Media Likes

A safe—but effective—strategy, especially if you're unsure where you stand with the lady you fancy. Give her some Instagram likes! And Facebook likes, or loves if you're feeling generous. Make sure to like all her recent tweets and pins on Pinterest. You could even tell her you like her IRL.

5. Bacon

Still unsure what to get your gal for V-Day? Well if brunch is her love language, then there's nothing more romantic than bacon. Think of the options: breakfast for dinner, a bacon cheeseburger, a BLT, or even something #whole30 (you'll probably have to look up that recipe yourself).

6. A Matchmaker

If all else fails, have a good friend jump in and play matchmaker. Trust me — you'll thank the guy later.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

An Easy, Breezy Cheese Board

I'm here to talk about my passion for cheese. Cheese boards, more specifically.

Give me a party that's got a cheese board, and I'm there faster than you can say "gouda". Extravagant cheese boards usually pop up like magic unicorns at holiday gatherings and parties. Consider this: Should unicorns and large plates of cheese be reserved for special occasions, or should they be promoted to "any-ole-random-day" status? Marie Antoinette said let them eat cake, and I say let us eat cheese!

So here's the thing about cheese boards — they can be over the top, in terms of options and price. Or they can be really simple, and in the right setting, that can be just as good. If you're hosting friends on a random weeknight, you don't have to go all out. In fact, you can probably whip one up with common items you could already have in your pantry or fridge.

You'll obviously need cheese because that's what makes this a cheese board and not simply a snack board. Usually it's best to have one soft, spreadable cheese and a hard cheese. Personally, I snack on parmesan in the evenings and use goat cheese in a handful of my go-to recipes, so I had these on hand. (Maybe I'm a little bit of a cheese hoarder, but hey, don't judge). After you have cheese, get creative with what else you have on hand.

I think jelly is the best-kept secret to "fancify" your cheese board, especially if you've got goat cheese on the plate. Trust me on this.

This was the plate I made with some common snack/lunch items, but you could add nearly anything munchy you enjoy nibbling on. Hard salami, pears, kalamata olives, etc. would be good additions. Then, add a friend or two, and you've got a great weeknight!

Oh, and make sure to tell lots of cheesy jokes. (I'm sorry. I had to.)