Bits and Pieces

Monday, August 20, 2018

Life has been feeling incredibly speedy lately. We don't let ourselves sit still too long in the summer, and while it makes time whiz by, the weeks are packed with so many fun adventures, it's hard to regret it. I love these sticky, humid days and miss them so much when they're gone. Lucky for me, I'm between jobs right now, so I have TWO WEEKS to savor summertime Chicago with no responsibilities. Something I'm taking very seriously — it's 2pm, and I'm in my pajamas, whoopsies. I've made a short list of things I want to do (get burgers and ice cream here, check out some furniture here, visit this bookstore, try this chocolate cake) and things I have to do to get ready for my next gig, but overall I'm excited to play each day by ear. I'm taking my brother back-to-school shopping tomorrow and have a hair appointment Wednesday, so you could even say I'm busy ;)

Below are some iPhone pics from recent moments if you care to see. Hope you're taking it easy wherever you are <3

I'm 30...!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I turned 30 years old on Saturday. The day was so wonderful, and I'm excited for this milestone to be here. I've been ready for it, and I'm excited for my 30s. But in the spirit of transparency, for a brief couple of weeks I was very not ready for it. At a brewery in Maine last month I suddenly freaked out — did we take our 20s too seriously? Is it too late to live our dream of living abroad? What if we have kids? Is it too late to have kids? Is it time to have kids? What's going on with my career? Are we saving enough money? Is 30 middle-aged? What's life expectancy these days, anyway? I held on to 29 tightly, but when Saturday arrived, I was ready to let it go.

My 20s were truly transformative, and over dinner on Friday, I decided the word that summarizes those 10 years best is growth. My college-sophomore self seems so distant. I've learned who I am, how I work, how I think, what I need and what fulfills me. I've strengthened my education, my career, my relationships and focused on the good in my life. During the past 10 years I met mentors, friends and strangers that have become family who have shaped me. I lived in a handful of different apartments with a handful of different people. I fell in love, out of love and in love again. I worked a few jobs —  some simply to make money (not that being a camp counselor for 12 hours a day, for approximately $3 an hour, wasn't a dream), some as part of my life-long goal to pursue journalism, and some after I realized the rumors are true, the journalism industry is in fact not in its best shape, but there's a spot for me, a spot I like being in, in the corporate world. I started and grew my freelance business. I got married. I traveled to dozens of states and countries. I bought an apartment.

But alongside so many blissful events, many moments put my heart in a blender. I buried myself under the covers countless times. I cried (a lot). I grew so much, and while I was stretched thin at times, it was such a beautiful 10 years. I experienced a lot, and I'm grateful for every bit of it.

With my head and heart scattered all over the place, I decided the word that I'll go into my 30s with is focus. It'll be about the little things (less multitasking, less phone, better listening) that actually aren't that little at all, but also the big things — treating my freelance work more like a real business, putting more of myself into the relationships that matter and not carrying the load of those that don't, seeking more mentors in my career, growing more professionally, investing every bit of myself in family. I did these things in my 20s, but I just checked the boxes. I need to take inventory of everything that takes my time and energy, and focus on what matters most and how to excel at it from there.

This past weekend was the perfect introduction to all of that. It was full of so much love, and I kept reminding myself to savor it. On Friday, Brian and I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Le Colonial, for dinner. We sat on the patio and had the best chocolate cake of our lives.

I came home to a big surprise —  my best friend Lily had flown in from Atlanta! I had a hunch she might be coming, but after seeing how relaxed Brian was during our three-hour dinner (and he offered to go somewhere else for a drink after!), I figured she must not be. She totally scared me when she showed up as I was hauling packages up the stairs.

On Saturday Brian threw me a big birthday bash with some of our best Chicago friends (he also made me the sweetest basket with everything I love, and I've been smiling at its contents every day since). I've never been one for a birthday party —  growing up, either my friends were out of town or I was, and I was too anxious to host something that perhaps no one would come to — but this was such a fun day. We ate and drank and chatted (and eventually danced and sang) on our patio for hours, and I felt so, so loved.

On Sunday we spent the day relaxing with Lily before her flight. We ate pizza and donuts, walked to the lily pool and beach. It was such a nice cap to the weekend, and as always, it left me wishing she lived here.

Thank you so much for helping me celebrate, friends! And to Brian for putting this together! I felt very loved, and it made my week getting to see so many of my friends.

So, 30! Here we are. Let's do this!

Lake Tahoe!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Every year my whole family takes a vacation together (we went to Croatia last year), and every year my parents spoil us rotten for 10 days. This year we went to Lake Tahoe, and it was the most relaxing week. We spent our days either on the beach or hiking, laughing lots every day. 

The first thing we did after landing in Reno and driving to Tahoe was go to The Grill at the Chateau for happy hour ($3 wine!). It has the best views and specials, we swore we'd be back every day, but time unfortunately got away from us. 


We stayed in an Airbnb in Incline Village that belongs to Brian's aunt's friend. It was the perfect spot. It was central to everything we wanted to do in Nevada and California, and it had everything we needed. We spent our mornings eating breakfast on the deck, and our afternoons sipping wine and eating cheese and crackers back in the same spot. 

Our Airbnb came with a pass to the private beaches, so we spent most of our days at one of those — it was nice not having to fight the crowds for a spot (although I've heard Sand Harbor, a public beach, is breathtaking). We'd pack a picnic, lots of sunscreen, our bathing suits and books and find a space for the day. It was the definition of easy times.

On one of our first nights, we went to dinner at Sunnyside. We snapped some photos by the water while we waited for our table, and Brian took this one. After he did, and didn't simply give one of us back the camera, two middle-aged women sitting on a bench turned to him after the rest of us had walked away and said, "But you're not Indian?" surprised that he was part of our family. He looked at them sternly and said "neither are they," and the conversation that followed made me so proud of him, but upset about how ignorant people are and how openly they share their uninformed, judgmental opinions. 

Kristi, the owner of the Airbnb, offered to take us on her favorite, hidden hike one morning. I'm so glad we took her up on it because we saw the best views we'd see all week. She brought her dog, and I love that she's in all of our pictures, ha! 

The hike up was tough, so we took the easy way down. It was unbearably hot, though, and took us much longer than we had planned. The popsicles we had once we got home tasted so good. 

We had the best ice cream at Sweet Tahoe Time. Brian and I were reminiscing about how good it was last night. The best part — unlimited free toppings, which you scoop yourself! AND they give you containers for extra toppings you can't fit on your ice cream. DOES IT GET ANY BETTER? 

Brian taught my brother how to grill one night, and they made a delicious dinner even better than our red wine and goldfish appetizer :) 

We took a risk one morning and went to Secret Harbor Cove, a public nude beach, because the clear water we'd seen in pictures couldn't be missed. We figured we'd scope out the scene, and if it was packed, and we were uncomfortable, we'd leave. Luckily, it felt like our own private beach for most of the day. And, once it got crowded, no nudes (not something you want to experience with your dad and brother! :)

These two are always building something together (in this case, a fire). It reminded me of their rock statue from last year

Stumbled across this in the grocery store one night, and I've got to get my hands on it here. Naturally flavored, non-carbonated lemon and coconut drink. So, so refreshing. 

That night we loaded up on Mexican food at T's Mesquite Rotisserie and walked to the beach to watch the sunset. We stumbled upon a pro-Trump sticker, which my brother tore down (just cleaning up graffiti, he said ;)

I'm sure my brother is so glad Brian's coming on these trips now. They'd do things like play pinecone soccer, which his sisters weren't very interested in. 

The other hike we did was Tunnel Creek Trail, which was also longer and hotter than we had expected (you can tell in some of the pictures...;) But, breathtaking views again, and my hiking poles came in really handy. Brian bought me those after we hiked El Cajon, where I was terrified of falling. I've been looking forward to using them since and would highly recommend to other scaredy cats out there.

After our hike we went to a bar to watch England play in the World Cup semifinals. The boys had brought along their Arsenal jerseys and changed into them in the car. They're the only two on the trip who haven't lived in England and yet definitely the most invested... although, I must say, the six of us have really perfected "Football's Coming Home." 

We celebrated my sister's birthday at The Landing, where we had the best grilled octopus and chocolate lava cake of our lives. Also, how cute are my parents? 

On one of our last days we decided to rent a boat for the afternoon. The sky was clear, the water smooth. It was total bliss. Brian taught my brother how to drive the boat, and we danced and sang along to Iranian jams we blasted from our phones. We all took a turn at tubing, and we laughed so, so hard at each other (especially at my parents ;) It was such a perfect day. 

But an hour before our boat was due back, the weather took a harsh turn. The water became extremely choppy, and the weather was cloudy and lightening. All of a sudden, no other boats were in sight, and we were all a bit anxious. Brian was trying to steer the boat, but it was too windy for us to move at the speed we wanted to, and every movement was drenching everyone (especially my poor mom in the back). My dad called the boat rental company to tell them we were in trouble, and they said to take it slow. It was a bit scary, and we ended up getting back an hour and a half late, but it has made for the funniest stories. There are so many pictures of us laughing, crying, fearful but also thankful. 

We picked up these pizzas and a couple bottles of wine on the way home, and nothing has ever tasted better. We were so happy to be home and dry. 

My sister found this shirt from Omaze a few months ago, and we were excited to wear them with my mom. They say "got it from my mama," and 100 percent of proceeds go to St. Jude Children's Hospital (and it's 100 percent true). I paired mine with my bandana from Carleen, which I was sent a few weeks ago and love so much. I'm really into the bandana trend that seems to be in full force, but I need some tutorials on how to make it look as cute as the girls on Instagram. 

It was such a fun and relaxing week, I can't wait to see what we plan next. So thankful for this family time and this family of mine. It's a really good life with these five people <3