A portrait of first-time homeowners.

6.07.2017


Currently, I am...

Drinking: vanilla caramel kahlua flavored (decaf) coffee, straight from my French press.

Loving: the above photo of Scotty and I on a walk in our neighborhood. Did I mention we bought a house back in February? We're officially suburbia folks! (And frankly, still getting used it...) We enjoy our daily strolls and love having visitors stop in for a cup of tea or glass of wine. Hint hint.

Reading: Wild by Cheryl Strayed. >>> Seriously, girl's got GUTS. I wouldn't dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail at all, much less by myself. 

Stressing over: how to turn my other blog into an LLC. I'm halfway there, and still so confused. A degree in business or law would be super helpful right about now.

Thankful for: Dallas weather. It beats Houston's humidity any day.

Listening to: birds chirping outside my kitchen window. Suburban life has its perks.

Learning: the art of slow living. JK, I don't even know what that means.

And a little bonus fun fact: Summer used to be my least favorite season, but it's growing on me. I'm all about the 8:30pm sunset these days... More time for walks.

Anyhoo, what's new with YOUR life?

Touring Europe: Back to London.

5.09.2017


If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be London. Or England in general. Don't ask me why—I don't have a legitimate answer, just a feeling I get when I'm there. The people, the architecture, the pubs, the rainy weather, I love it all. Ever since I can remember (before I'd even stepped foot in the UK), I've had a love affair with British culture. Which is why I didn't mind one bit that our European tour ended in the same place it began. Behold, the foggy city.

I didn't sleep a wink the night before we boarded our train from Paris to London. I was particularly sad the next morning, for reasons that no longer matter, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I barely remember telling our fellow travelers goodbye as they loaded their luggage onto the bus that would take them to the airport for their long journey home.

But when Kristen and I arrived in London, after coming this close to missing our ride (talk about an adrenaline rush!), I was myself again. We walked around the city, arm-in-arm, reminiscing over the events of the last few weeks and discussing in detail all that lay ahead. We snapped a few obligatory photos along the way—of Big Ben, London from the Eye, Westminster Abbey, a traveling circus—and then popped a squat on the steps of the Victoria Memorial to ponder life's greatest mysteries: How did we end up here? Lifelong best friends, thousands of miles from home, on the verge of adulthood. So many different crossroads in our twenty-two years of living had led us to where we stood, and yet, the weight pressing on both of our hearts could only mean that the most important ones were still to come.

A thousand and one things awaited us at home. But the future wasn't so scary, we agreed, as long as we had each other. As long as we had this moment, and the memory of London.

And then there were eight.

4.03.2017

In May of 2015, my best friends and I took a trip. Just the four of us, traveling along winding roads en route to the Texas wine country. We were all 23 years old, single, and fresh out of college.

This past March, we did it again. Except this time, with four new additions to the family. 


It's amazing to me how everything in our lives can change—relationship statuses, jobs, cities, schools—but when the four of us are together, it's as if nothing has.

Yesterday, we graduated from high school as wide-eyed 18-year-olds, crossing the finish lines of our childhoods side by side. Today, we're in our mid-twenties and each happily married, slowly but surely paving the way for full-blown careers, homes we can call our own, and lifelong dreams come true. Tomorrow, small children might photobomb our group pictures: little minions that will no doubt be best friends (or childhood sweethearts), too, if we have anything to say about it.


But I'm getting ahead of myself—2017 looks good on us, I think. There are eight of us now, instead of four, and double the love to go around. And it makes me confident.

Confident that no matter where life takes us, we will always have this.

Touring Europe: Paris.

3.29.2017


Ask anyone who's familiar with France, and they'll tell you that Paris is completely overrated.

"It's not that great, compared to the rest of the country," they say. "Visit anywhere but Paris," they advise.


Unfortunately, I haven't had the pleasure of exploring the rest of France. But I have been to Paris twice, and I'll admit, I kind of hate that the City of Love gets a bad rap. Because I, for one, love Paris. I love its sidewalk cafés, crowded corners, maze-like graveyards (okay, graveyardPère Lachaise is my happy place), and rows upon rows of high-end shops. I love that I can eat chocolate croissants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without feeling the least bit guilty—after all, the French don't get fat eating that stuff—and pretend to be Amelie as I engage in the very therapeutic act of people-watching.


Paris was the last official stop on our Contiki tour, and I'm grateful to have been able to see a side of the city I hadn't before. While the Eiffel Tower is beautiful, and worth climbing (especially when it's all lit up), there are much better things to do while visiting the most romantic city in the world.


Like, for example, sampling floral fragrances at the Fragonard Parfumerie à la wealthy Parisian housewives. Or sitting down to a cheesy croque-monsieur and a glass of wine at the nearest available bistro because your feet ache from walking. Or, if you're a sentimental soul, touring the 19th-century opera house that inspired Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel (and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical), The Phantom of the Opera. (Possibly my favorite musical of all time.)


(But seriously, how mesmerizing is the Palais Garnier? I was in Heaven just walking through it!)


But if you really want to experience the magic of Paris, channel your inner Satine and attend a dinner and show at the infamous Moulin Rouge. This was the final group activity on our 21-day Contiki tour—our grand finale, if you will—and it definitely did not disappoint. Apparently, I love cabaret! Who would've thought? Sadly, photographs were not allowed inside the theater, but believe me when I say: It was hands down one of the coolest experiences of my life, and the perfect note on which to end our wild jaunt through Europe.


And, just for good measure, here's another photo of Kristen breaking it down on the dance floor. The girl knows how to party.


Coming soon: the FINAL post chronicling me and Kristen's 2014 European tour. (Ten cities and two years later...) Before going our separate ways, it was back to London for one last day together abroad. Stay tuned!

On writer's block.

1.18.2017


For the tenth time this month, I sit at my desk and stare at the blank space on the computer screen—my hands in position on the keyboard, potential energy coursing through my fingers. And for the tenth time this month, I let my mind wander. I sit back, take a sip of my turmeric latte (because coffee is apparently no good for my fragile hormones), and I think.

There's a lot going through my head these days—both exciting and overwhelming—but the trouble is focusing on just one thing that keeps me interested long enough to write about it. 

Relocating?
Buying a house?
Looking for employment?

Those are the big things happening around these parts, and yet I have no desire to write about them. They are too adult for me, not nearly as captivating as falling in love for the first time, learning to quiet my 23-year-old angst, or having life-changing revelations in Rome. Perhaps a sign that everything's running too smoothly? (I'll take it.)

So instead, I read. I lose myself in murder mysteries and Darling Magazine, quirky cookbooks, news articles, and my favorite lifestyle blogs. Self-help books on tidying, novels with strong heroines, and the occasional short story fill my quiet evenings and afternoon walks. And life becomes simple again. Sweet. Slow.

When my writing muscle is weak, I return to my true love of reading—and am quickly reminded of why I began writing in the first place. The magic is in the words and the way they make people feel. It's in the stories told from personal experience, the adjectives used to describe a homemade pastry or a broken heart, the em dashes and parenthesis added for emphasis, and the unique voice infused into each line. Inspiring, genuine, and imperfect.

It's this reminder that makes me return to my desk once again, even if I think I have nothing of substance to say, and simply write what comes to me—good or bad, interesting or not—in hopes that my words will flow like magic.

Rewind: 2016.

1.04.2017

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? 

I attended a weeklong mission trip outside of the country, quit my day job to pursue my dream of becoming a professional blogger (and quickly realized I liked blogging better as a hobby), and wore the title of Matron of Honor in my best friend's winter wedding.


A few other firsts: Eating a warm Krispy Kreme donut right off the conveyor belt, and sending a lit paper lantern up into the sky with thousands of others at the Lights Festival in Baytown.


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I can't remember making any resolutions last year, which probably means I didn't keep them. For 2017, my main resolution is to focus on what's important to me. Sounds easy enough, but half the battle is figuring out exactly what that is.

I'd also like to cook more, and take more photos. I used to be so good about carrying my camera everywhere! Now I barely touch it. This needs to change. (I considered doing a Photo A Day Challenge, but... I feel like that's just setting myself up for photography fatigue.)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 

One of my closest friends from college did, but sadly (since we live about 3-4 hours apart) I have yet to meet her sweet bundle of joy. Most of my friends are still in the engaged/newly married tribe, so it probably will be a long while before babies show up.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 

No, and I'm so thankful for that.

5. What countries did you visit?

Beautiful Haiti.


6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

A solid routine would be nice, and a job that I enjoy. I felt like I was just kind of floating along for most of 2016, and I think I'd quite like to find myself a bit more settled by the end of this year. However, with the recent move to Plano—and the ongoing house hunt—it might be a few months before the settling in can happen.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory?

January 2, the day my best friend got married. March 18, the day I put in my two weeks at my semi-new job and almost suffered a heart attack because of it. July 15-23, the week Scott and I took our families to Lake Tahoe. August 11-17, the week I spent with the coolest kids in Haiti. October 19, the day we found out we'd be moving to Plano. December 18, the day my other best friend got married.


8. What was your biggest failure?

There were so many days in 2016 that I felt like I was failing at something, whether it was managing my time wisely, being a good wife/daughter/friend, working hard enough on Her Story Goes, reaching my health goals, making enough (or any) money... Honestly, it was kind of a cluster of a year. One where I took big risks, made life-changing decisions, learned A LOT about myself, and constantly worried about where I was going to end up. All that said, I made it out alive and well—albeit a bit all over the place—and I'm thankful for the year I had. Everything happened like it needed to, I'm convinced, and yet I'm looking forward to starting over with a clean slate in 2017.

But while we're on the subject of failure, I failed pretty hard at the Whole30—not once but twice.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I caught myself a gnarly cold the week I returned from Haiti, but that's the only memorable bout of sickness I had this year. #blessed

10. What was the best thing you bought?

My Olympus OM-D E-M10 (that I've sadly abandoned recently), this FloLiving course on natural hormone-correcting (Alisa Vitti is BRILLIANT), and my new Nourished Planner (that I bought in the final days of December and has already made me feel so much more productive).


11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Pope Francis—for his love, compassion, and humility.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Donald Trump's. Need I elaborate?

13. Where did most of your money go?

Rent. Ugh. But no more!

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Traveling (as always). Starting a lifestyle blog with my best friend. Moving to Dallas with a fresh start.


15. Did you make any new friendships?

A few, like my lovely coworkers at Mad Meg Creative Services and the girls in Marissa's bridal party. But for the most part, I strengthened the relationships I already had. Which is just as fun.


16. Did you go on vacation?

Yes! My family traveled to Panama City Beach in April, where we did shots with the Brothers Osborne in their tour bus(!)... and then off we went to Lake Tahoe with both of our families in July.


We also visited a dear friend in Charlotte, home of the world's best bagels and the prettiest fall-colored leaves.


17. What do you wish you had done more or less of?

I wish I would have volunteered more and worried less.

18. How did you spend the holidays?

We spent Thanksgiving in Plano with Scott's family, Christmas in Rayne with my crazy family, and New Year's Eve in Dallas with old friends. Scott dressed up as Buddy the Elf for my parents' Christmas party, and I fell in love with him all over again. It was one of the best holiday seasons I've had in years!


19.  What new food did you discover?

Acai bowls! The beginning of 2016 saw me addicted to superfood smoothies topped with granola and shredded coconut. (Forget Smoothie King, I'm talking $10 cardboard cups of blended bliss from hippie-esque places like this.)

Oh, and Houston's Biskit Junkie. The place where arteries happily go to die.


20. What was your favorite TV program?

Felicity. Followed by Pretty Little Liars and This Is Us. I'm all about the feels, obvs.

21.  What was one of your favorite experiences of the year?

I know I keep bringing this up, but the mission trip in Haiti has got to be at the top of my list for 2016. It kind of saved me, in more ways than one, and I'm incredibly grateful that I had the chance to be a part of something so eye-opening.


On top of that, getting to experience the first year of marriage with my best friend was an amazing thing. I'll never forget our coffee-inspired (for me, at least) Saturday morning walks through the city coupled with marathon-long discussions about our goals, fears, passions, and dreams for the future. Those were the moments that held me together in 2016.


22. What was the best book you read?

It's a tie between The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.


23. What was your greatest musical or artist discovery?

Uh, I'm still rocking out to Taylor Swift over here...

24. What did you want and get?

Guidance and clarity regarding Scott's career. We prayed long and hard for a push in the right direction, and we breathed a sigh of relief (and thanks) when he was hired on at NTT Data in October.

25. What did you want and not get?

A house that we put an offer on a few weeks ago. It just wasn't the right one!

26. What was your favorite film of this year?

Collateral Beauty or The Intern (which technically came out in 2015, but I saw it this year).

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 25 in October, during a weekend trip to Louisiana to celebrate my cousin's nuptials. Naturally, there was lots of food, family, and fun. And even though we couldn't get Hocus Pocus to play on my parents' DVD player for my annual viewing party, we still had a good time.


28. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Having it all figured out, maybe. But then again, knowing everything would probably take the fun out of life.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

Comfy chic? Keeping it real with yoga pants and high ponytails.

30. What kept you sane?

Wine nights and good conversation with the besties.

31. What political issue stirred you the most?

The U.S. presidential campaign/election stirred everyone, I think. The division and animosity between friends and families in the aftermath of it all has been the hardest part for me.

32. Who did you miss?

My Oxford buddies, who I will finally be reunited with next month!

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Your life is what you make it, good or bad, and no one's life—no matter how sparkly it may appear—is perfect.


Happy 2017, friends!

// survey via Jolie from Becoming Jolie //
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