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Whimsical Wednesday

on
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, and one of their "try this at home" tips was to introduce a note of whimsy, which I just loved.  Gretchen describes a note of whimsy as a "way to poke fun at yourself, lighten a difficult situation, or just make life more lighthearted."

I've always loved fun, whimsical details, so I enjoyed listening to examples of whimsical things in their lives that made them smile. I always try to add a little whimsy and something fun whether it be with decor, outside on the patio or in the garden, or even with an outfit.

Some of my favorite "notes of whimsy" of late - 

My mom sent me this Nutcracker advent card that's so fun. I haven't had an advent calendar in ages and it's brought back so many wonderful memories! It's such a small thing, but it's fun to look forward to opening the next box each morning.


Who else loved advent calendars as a kid? 

This rabbit is actually an Easter decoration (shocking, I know) but I thought he'd look just as good with some pine boughs in his basket as he does with cherry blossoms. And for a note of whimsy, I gave him a little silver scarf. 


Doesn't he look dapper with his winter scarf?

You know the bargain bins that try to lure you in right as you walk into Target? I love those things. I found these cute little bristle brush trees for just $3! This silver one was the perfect little touch of Christmas in our guest bath.


You never know what treasures you'll find in a Target bargain bin!

I spotted this cute little pot in downtown Seattle. It was a cold, gray, raining day and as we were walking along these bright, funky, fun potted plants were such a happy sight. So fun! I had to take a photo. I love all the shapes, colors, and the way it's just a bit "unkempt."



Hope it was a great Wednesday, friends. Wishing you little notes of whimsy this week. 


November highlights

on
Thursday, November 30, 2017
It's the last day of November - already! The fall decor is packed away and it's time to gear up for the holidays. You can officially listen to as much Christmas music as your heart desires. Or, if you're like me you can just turn it up now and not be embarrassed. (I start listening right around Thanksgiving, much to Mike's dismay.)

November was nice because I wrapped up my busy travel season at work and I was able to enjoy more free weekends and evenings. I took advantage of a more free schedule and enjoyed lots of good books, TV shows, and movies, and even discovered a new workout that I fell in love with.

The Mindy Project 

As I've mentioned before I'm not a huge TV watcher, but for the past five years my one and only show has been The Mindy Project. I remember watching the pilot episode with my friend, Sara, in her apartment in September 2012. At that point I only knew Mindy Kaling as Kelly from The Office, but I was hooked from the very first episode as she rode her bike yelling, "I'm Sandra Bullock" straight into the pool. (Spoiler alert - the finale pays homage to the first episode.) Mike and I have enjoyed five years of hilarious episodes, witty scripts, and antics that only Mindy could pull off. I'll miss Mindy, her fabulous Salvador Perez wardrobe, unbridled confidence, and unapologetic love of bear claws.


Run Fast. Eat Slow.

 I read this cookbook on my flight to Seattle for Thanksgiving. Run Fast. Eat Slow. was written by recent New York City marathon winner Shalane Flanagan and her best friend and running partner, Elyse Kopecky. I really enjoyed this cookbook.  I love reading cookbooks but a lot of them I happily return to the library. This is one I would love to own myself. Shalane and Elyse are passionate about eating nutritiously. They believe no one - and especially runners - should be depriving themselves with fat-free, empty calorie foods and strict diets. They simply encourage people to eat real, whole foods, and yes, they even cook with butter! Lots of it in fact.  The recipes sounds wonderful and the photographs are beautiful.  I copied down quite a few recipes I'm excited to try out.  It's great fitness and nutrition advice for anyone - even those of us who aren't marathon winners.


Big Little Lies

I really don't know how Mike and I missed all the hype and didn't watch this in the spring. The good news is we've watched it now, and we loved it. What an incredible cast! We were so hooked that we gobbled up all seven episodes in just a few days, which is impressive for two non-TV binge watching folks. I loved the suspense, the acting, the soundtrack, and oh man, the scenery! It really made us want to go back to Carmel and Monterrey. Can we live there? 


Vertigo

This is your public service announcement to watch Vertigo soon if you've never seen it before. I had seen bits of it when I was really young, but I had never sat down and watched the full movie. I don't know why, because I love all of Hitchcock's films. Saturday night when Mike had some friends over to hang out I took the opportunity to watch "one of my old movies" as Mike would like to say. The TCM intro mentioned it is hailed as the best film ever made - and after watching it I have to agree. It was fantastic - and terrifying. Watching this at night was probably not the best decision I've made - I was a bit freaked out for awhile. The story is incredible, and James Stewart and Kim Novak are SO good.  



Piyo

In November I started trying out a hot Piyo class at my rec center, and I immediately fell in love with it. It is such an awesome workout - prepare to be quite sore after your first class. It's a blend of pilates and yoga with lots of strength exercises throughout (think lots of tricep push-ups, planks, and core work). My rec center also offers a regular Piyo class but the time doesn't work for me, so I get to sweat a little more with hot Piyo. I love it because it's set to popular music and it's fast paced - much more so than pilates and yoga. It also works up a huge sweat. You'll really feel it. I'm looking forward to many more Piyo classes in December as I'll have to steer clear of cardio but I'll still be wanting a good workout. Piyo will definitely fit the bill. 




Another huge shoutout this month goes to my husband. He has embraced the role of nurse/drug administrator as I go through my first round of IVF medications. It's a full schedule of mixing up medications and administering daily shots, and he didn't squirm or hesitate to help me with all of it. Going through treatments for the past year has totally removed any fear I have of needles and shots don't bother me at all anymore. (One benefit of this whole journey, I suppose.)


I haven't got to the point where I could actually give them to myself though. For whatever reason that still makes me queasy. But Mike is a pro - he should probably add phlebotomist to his resume. I'm so, so thankful for his help, and his mad shot skills. You can hardly feel 'em.

We're getting our Christmas tree this weekend, and then our holiday decorating will be complete. Bring on the egg nog and tinsel....and December!

Have a great weekend, friends!








Chihuly Garden and Glass

on
Friday, November 24, 2017
If you Google what to do while visiting Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass will pop up on every list, and for good reason. It's an incredible museum featuring all of Chihuly's colorful creations - it's almost overwhelming. So many colors and designs to take in!

I first became familiar with Chihuly with his large chandelier that is on display at the Wichita Art Museum, so I was excited to check out the Seattle museum. The museum is fairly new - it just opened in 2012. It features many of Chihuly's glass works and paintings inside, but some of them are displayed outside in the gardens with carefully color coordinated flowers and plants. It truly feels like something from a fairytale walking among the pieces in the garden. Chihuly, who is from Tacoma, Washington, is a multimedia artist but he's best known for his amazing work with glass.











It was a very gray, rainy Seattle day which made the bright colors at the museum seem even brighter. Makes me wonder if the Seattle weather inspired Chihuly to create such colorful masterpieces! If you're in Seattle definitely make time to stop here - such a fun place. It made for a really great afternoon in downtown Seattle - and I love that the Space Needle is sneaking into one of my photos.  








Perfect Podcast for October

on
Friday, October 13, 2017
For the past eight weeks I've spent basically every day on the road, so I have been devouring podcasts. They help pass the time and make the miles go by a bit more quickly than the top 40 hits on the radio. They also help take my mind off of all the craziness of the day.

If you're looking for a new podcast - and an appropriate one for October- give Deadly Manners a listen. It is pure fun that will definitely get you in the mood for Halloween. Think Clue plus an old school murder mystery radio show.

Each Chapter (episode) is only about 20 - 25 minutes long, so it's easy to listen to on a quick trip or commute. The story unfolds on a dark, stormy night (of course) at the Billings mansion where Mr. and Mrs. Billings are hosting a fabulous dinner party. The lights go out (of course!), there's a murder (what'd you expect?) and the story takes off from there.

You'll also recognize plenty of famous voices including Kristen Bell as Veronica Billings and RuPaul as the fortune teller.

It's very entertaining and provides some goosebumps perfect for October. Enjoy - and Happy Friday!






Happy October!

on
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Happy Sunday, friends - and Happy October! I don't know where September went. My job is busiest in the fall, so I really feel like this time of the year flies by. Unfortunately, it's my favorite time of the year, so I don't have as much time for all the fabulous fall activities that I'd like.

Because my schedule has been crazier than usual lately I've really been enjoying new podcasts on the road, convenient foods, and light reading...here are some of my favorite things lately.

Young Adult Literature
Any other fellow Happier listeners will know that this has been a recent topic on the podcast lately. Gretchen and Liz have discussed the benefits - and simply the fun - of reading Young Adult literature. I honestly haven't read a YA book in years, but I've lately been digging into them, and I've had so much fun. I read Liz's new book Flower, and it was such a cute story. I devoured it in one roadtrip. I also decided to read one of my favorite books from childhood, "The Farthest Away Mountain," by Lynne Reid Banks. It was such a trip down memory lane and comforting to read. YA literature is a nice change of pace. It's truly an escape! 



James Bonding podcast

Mike and I were on a James Bond kick last year - and now I'll forever be a Bond girl. Some of our friends who also love Bond suggested this podcast to me a few weeks ago. It's a ton of fun to listen to - especially now that I've watched all the movies. If you haven't watched many Bond films, you probably don't want to listen. They're long podcasts (read two hours) and it is literally just a bunch of people talking about Bond movies. Sometimes I feel like I'm a fly on the wall of a bar listening to a bunch of friends talk about Bond. They focus on one movie at time, or a topic like best cold openings, so you can really learn a lot about the movies.






Happier in Hollywood podcast

Of course I got sucked into the Happier in Hollywood podcast! To be honest, it took me longer than it should of to subscribe and start listening to this one. I thought either it wouldn't apply to my very non-Hollywood life, or it would be too similar to Happier, which I love. I was wrong on both fronts. Liz and her writing partner Sarah bring an entirely different vibe than Liz and her sister Gretchen. Happier in Hollywood is upbeat, relatable and funny. It is really interesting to learn about their lives in Hollywood but the topics they discuss and guests they bring in are always very relevant to almost any career. Give it a listen! Their catchphrase "It's a fun job and I enjoy it," is a really great reminder to your day.




PB Fit Protein Powder


If you're a peanut butter lover like me you should definitely give this stuff a try. I have been putting it in everything lately! Smoothies, yogurt, overnight oats, hot oatmeal, etc. It gives everything a yummy peanut butter taste and packs a protein punch. My favorite is making a peanut butter banana smoothie with frozen bananas and this powder - it seriously tastes like a milkshake!




The Return of Yumkin Pumpkin (and other fall beers)

Ah, fall....the pumpkin spice, the cool, crisp days, and the beer.  Everything is better in the fall - the weather, the food, the lattes, and the beer. I love all the Octoberfest beers, ambers, and pumpkin ales that show up on the shelves this time of year.  My local favorite...or quite possibly favorite pumpkin beer overall is Yumkin Pumpkin from Wichita Brewing Co. If you enjoy it at one of the Wichita Brewing Co. locations it is served with a dusting of cinnamon on the rim of the pint glass!



Hilariously Infertile's Instagram

Dealing with infertility is rarely met with laughter but having a sense of humor about it has definitely kept me sane this past year. I was so happy to discover Hilariously Infertile's Instagram account because it confirmed that I am not a crazy, terrible person for laughing at some of things we've been through or thinking some of the things I have while going through this. Definitely share it with anyone you know going through this, and in need of some comedic relief.

Actual footage of me walking into the fertility clinic

The Return of Dancing with the Stars

I love this show so much! I want to be a "star" just so I can be on this show, and to get one of those fantastic spray tans, of course. We don't watch very much TV at all in our house but this is one show that I love to make time for if I can. It's pure fun, and I love all the dancing and fabulous costumes. It's also a great show to have on while we're cooking dinner or working on our laptops (not a difficult storyline to follow). I'm cheering for Lindsey Sterling, Drew Scott, and Terrell Owens this season. 




Have a great start to the week, friends! Enjoy this pretty October weather. 


My Wichita List

on
Thursday, September 7, 2017
I have lived in the Wichita area for six years now and there are still quintessential "Wichita" things I have not experienced, and I'm embarrassed to even admit it. I have decided it's high time I check these things off my 'Wichita list.' I don't think I can really call myself a local until I do. I'm sure I missed some important ones - let me know what's a Doo-Dah must on your list.

  • Go to a drive-in movie at Starlite Drive-In.  (Cue that fabulous jingle, "Starlite Drive-In gives you more, call 524-2424!")  Not only have I not visited Starlite, I've never been to a drive-in!




  • Eat a crumbly burger from NuWay Cafe. This legendary burger place has been in Wichita for 87 years. How have I not eaten here yet? 



  • See the Keeper of the Plains at night - I've seen it plenty of times during the day, but I want to see this beautiful view-


  • Visit the original Pizza Hut. I actually have strong opinions about Pizza Hut's pizza (don't like the stuff) but I feel as a proud Wichitan, I've got to see the birthplace of this famous franchise.

  • Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen House - I had lived here a few years before I realized we had a Wright home in town. I think his designs are so interesting and beautiful. I've toured his homes across the country but not in my own hometown....yet. 

  • Attend the St. Patrick's Day parade in Delano - I've always wanted to love and celebrate St. Patrick's Day more. I think this parade might help me do it. 



  • Have a green beer at The Shamrock - I plan to make this a stop before or after the parade. This well-known Wichita watering hole has been here since the 1930s! 


  • Visit the Sedgwick County Historical Museum - Technically I've been in the museum a couple of times but they weren't true visits. I ran in to look at an exhibit for an article, and another time I was just there for a meeting in their conference room. Both times I thought to myself, "This place is so neat. I really should come here for a visit." Hasn't happened yet but it really needs to!






Climbing Mountains

on
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Last month Mike and I spent a few days in Colorado where our family has a home in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness. It is just so amazingly beautiful there. I love waking up to the crisp, dry pine-scented air, and I love sharing my morning coffee and cereal with a friendly pack of mule deer. It is such a peaceful place - it is good for the soul.

Love this panoramic of Venable Lake 

The Sangre de Cristo mountains are truly majestic in this area, and Mike and I have discovered we both really love hiking. Last summer we hiked to Comanche Lake, a beautiful alpine lake, that sits right under Comanche Peak. As we sat at the lake, Mike and I stared up at Comanche Peak and its neighboring peak, Venable, and talked about how close we were. It wouldn't have taken us too much longer to make it up to the peak.  We had friends waiting back at the cabin though, so we promised to tackle a longer, more challenging hike the next summer.

So, this summer we decided to do the Venable-Comanche loop. The loop is a 12 mile hike that will take you up the side of Venable Peak (13,334') across a daunting ledge known as Phantom Terrace, and then down the side of Comanche Peak (13,227').


Mike at the top of the Venable-Comanche Loop - looking at Spring Mt. 

I would like to preface this by noting that I have an EXTREME fear of heights, so the fact that we set out to conquer Phantom Terrace was probably not the best decision we've ever made. But I was excited about hiking together and looking forward to the awesome views, and I thought, "How bad could it be?" I was feeling up to the challenge. The hike was exhausting, exhilarating, and emotionally the most challenging thing I have ever done.


Enjoying the view from the top! 

Phantom Terrace was intense. I was forced to face my fear of heights head on. This part of the trail gets its name because it is almost impossible to see unless you're right there. It is less "trail" and more ledge on the side of the mountain.

Can you spot the trail? Exactly. 

Some parts of the trail are just inches wide and the drop down is harrowing to say the least. I had a full on panic attack and started crying. I really didn't think I could move, or even get off the terrace. Looking down literally made me fear for my life. I have never been that scared before. Mike was so very kind and he coached me along, asked if I was okay, and checked to see if I wanted to turn around. (Go back down this? Uh...no.) It took us close to an hour but the feeling of finally making it off the terrace was the most exhilarating thing ever. You come up and over and all of a sudden you're on top of the mountain. It was amazing. I felt like crying all over again. This is a pretty good video of what it looks like to finish up the last few feet of the terrace.

The six hour, 12-mile hike took us along some of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on and the views from the top of the Venable-Comanche loop were truly awe inspiring. We were able to see the back side of the Sangres into New Mexico, and had a pretty awesome view of the treacherous Crestone Needle.

We did it!

What a view!
Conquering Phantom Terrace felt especially satisfying as this past year has seemed to be filled with mountains and challenges that I haven't been able to tackle. Pushing past exhaustion and facing a very real fear head on while clinging to a ledge on Phantom Terrace was a cathartic experience that I needed to have. It felt good to push past fear, plenty of tears, and difficulties and finally be on top of that mountain. Struggling with infertility this past year has been filled with disappointments, challenges and situations where the answer has seemed to always be a "no." Climbing the loop and Phantom Terrace felt like a big, "Yes, I can" to everything that's gone on this past year.

Because of my terrible fear of heights, I truly didn't think I would ever do something like Phantom Terrace, and while up there I again thought, "This isn't going to happen." But it did - we did it, I did it, and I totally fought through it. I am trying to remember this experience as I head into year two of infertility. Like Phantom Terrace, parts of it have been terrifying, some has been frustrating, and most of it has just plain sucked. I have tried to be brave most of the time, but other times I have sat down and just bawled my eyes out. But Phantom Terrace reminded me that amazing things are possible - even if they aren't always easy to get to. The view at the top was absolutely beautiful and I felt grateful to be there. I thanked God for the amazing view, the incredible experience, and the wonderful husband who had been with me the entire way.

I know this next year will still be a long, hard journey with many more mountains to climb. But I'm going to try to remember how brave I was on Phantom Terrace and how I felt as I climbed on my hands and knees to the top. Life isn't always easy but sometimes it's the fight, and the climb that makes it all worth it.


"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard see, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  Matthew 17:20




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