Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday Flyby: Where, Oh Where, Have I Been?

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that while I’ve still been popping in over at your blogs throughout the past week, I’ve been a bit MIA here on my own. And while I wish I could say I’ve been occupied with positive and uplifting things, the truth is, life’s gotten pretty ugly these past few days. Here, the three main reasons I’ve been away.

Reason #1

No good deed goes unpunished, as my husband learned the hard way last week after trying to rescue a lost dog in the street and instead ending up in the ER with a fractured shoulder. As a result, the past few days have been a whirlwind of doctor visits, Vicodin doses, CT scans and a lot of runaround BS from our insurance provider. Luckily, Stephen is starting to feel a bit better and regain some basic use of his left arm, which should heal on its own in about a month with no surgery required.

Image Source:
Reason #2

After several weeks of waiting for MRI and biopsy results, we received terrible news last week that my beloved Nana has been diagnosed with terminal Stage IV cancer, which was only discovered by chance when she went in for something else. As you can imagine, I have been devastated and in a dark place following this diagnosis, as I try to come to terms with what this means for her and our family. In trying to manage my emotions, I’ve been working on a separate blog post discussing them, but simply haven’t been able to bring myself to share it yet, as though doing so will somehow force me to accept that this is in fact really happening.

Reason #3

After two years of hard work, I’m finally in my last two weeks of grad school. In light of the items mentioned above, though, my motivation has definitely taken a downturn, and I’m trying my best to stay focused and do what I need to in order to wrap up the remaining projects and papers on my plate. I know I can do it, and I’m determined to check a couple things off my to-do list before the end of the day. Better get started... 

How do you stay motivated when things get tough? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DC Up Close: Space Shuttle Discovery

Although I may have left my heart in California, I'm also the first to admit that there are definitely a lot of cool perks that come with being in the DC area. Perks like catching a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of Space Shuttle Discovery en route to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum this past Tuesday morning.

While it of course looks rather small in the picture, the 747 carrying the shuttle was absolutely gigantic in person, and I was thrilled to very clearly make out Discovery itself as the duo traveled right past our building and up the Potomac River. My sister-in-law also captured this awesome shot as Discovery flew above her office complex in Northern Virginia. All in all, the flyby was a truly incredible sight and such a fun "I was there" moment!

What fun perks do you love to take advantage of in your own neck of the woods? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hand-Crafted Zebra Sock Buddy

Molly, Twix and I were definitely in for a treat a couple weeks ago when my dear friend HiLLjO sent a special hand-crafted sock buddy our way. I love this super cute zebra not only because of the time and care HiLLjO put into personalizing it for me (right down to the purple thread!), but also because she's an incredibly talented designer, inspiring blogger and all-around awesome person who's quick to support others every chance she gets.

Stop by HiLLjO's blog and Etsy shop for a look at more of her cool creations and designs. She's also working on a couple custom drawings for me, which I can't wait to share soon. In the meantime, I'm still trying to come up with the perfect name for my zebra! Any fun suggestions? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Recipe Recap: Thai Shrimp Stir Fry

Between Stephen's hectic work schedule and my eagerly moving toward finishing up the semester (just four more weeks to go!), plus getting started with a new freelance consulting project (that I'm really excited about!), cooking up elaborate meals hasn't exactly topped our list of musts throughout the past week.

Luckily, although it might not be as healthy as cooking dinner from scratch, the Thai Kitchen line of soups, stir fry mixes and pad Thai kits always comes through for us in a pinch. Here, the recipe for a quick and easy shrimp stir fry we threw together last night, which is definitely perfect for multitasking chefs in a hurry.

Thai Shrimp Stir Fry

½ lb. peeled and deveined shrimp 
2 bell peppers
1 Thai Kitchen Original Pad Thai kit

Bring a medium pot of water to near boiling for the noodles. While the pot is heating up, cook the shrimp in a skillet with oil. Add noodles to the hot water and allow them to soften. In the meantime, dice the bell peppers. Once the noodles are ready, drain them and combine with the shrimp in the skillet, along with the diced bell peppers. Add stir fry sauce and mix so that the noodles absorb the sauce.

Have a great day and weekend, everyone! I'm hoping things will settle down a bit over the next couple of weeks and that I'll be back to blogging more regularly again soon.

What's your go-to meal when time is especially tight?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Style: J.Crew & Anthropologie

With April now officially upon us and my allergy attack/head cold finally on its way out, I’ve definitely been eager to pack away my winter gear and break out the spring styles, including the teal J.Crew flats and printed Anthropologie top I snapped up on sale over the holidays. Though I admittedly sneaked in a couple wears of these pieces during the waning days of winter, there’s something about the combo together that makes me feel especially excited about the warmer months ahead.

I still have a long way to go in learning how to best shoot and display outfit photos, not to mention fix my hair and makeup in a way that photographs well. (Shooting these with an iPhone while we were in a hurry to leave probably wasn't the best idea.) But it’s OK to take a stab and then set a goal to keep improving, right? 

Which spring pieces are you most looking forward to wearing, and what’s your advice, if any, for staging great outfit shoots? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

All About Me: 11 More Fun Facts

Just as I was ready to kick off a productive weekend that included a nice break for a little spring wine tasting, an allergy attack/possible head cold came along with a quite different set of plans. So, instead of getting ahead in my classwork and heading out to the country to enjoy a few sips of wine and views of lovely spring blooms, I spent the majority of my weekend nestled on the couch eating spicy Thai soup, watching West Wing DVDs and catching up on the latest issues of SELF.

During the time I did manage to sit at the computer and actually get some work done, I had the chance to complete another fun Q&A round, this one sent to me by Diana at The World Around Her. Check out my answers below, and have a great (hopefully allergy-free) Tuesday! 

If you could meet anyone in the world, living or dead, who would that person be?

Abigail Adams has always inspired me with her wisdom and ability to think and see beyond the societal restrictions of the time in which she lived. I’ve loved reading various biographies about Abigail over the years, and while visiting the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy last summer, I also heard another story about her that I truly enjoyed.

You may have at some point heard about the tradition of hanging a horseshoe above the front door in order to capture the luck of visitors who enter your home. Abigail, however – realizing that her family had been fortunate to achieve considerable successes in life – wished to instead share her luck and good will with others. So, instead of the traditionally hung horseshoe, Abigail actually hung hers upside down, so that her good luck might rain down upon visitors and enrich their lives for the better. 

Why did you start blogging?

I first started blogging while planning my wedding back in 2009, thinking that it might be a fun way to connect with other brides and start to rekindle my passion for writing creatively after a couple years of dormancy while working for Congress. Since then, blogging has helped change my life in so many amazing ways, leading to wonderful friendships, great career opportunities and a renewed sense of direction. Every day, I’m so grateful that I took the plunge!

My wedding was just the beginning of my journey as a blogger. Image Source: Alex Neumann Photography 
If you became extremely rich by winning the lottery, would you help people from your past that popped up again?

Still no mega-millions for us as of last Friday, but if I won the lottery, I would first help those in need who have been there for me throughout my entire life, including my own parents. I would also use the money to help support causes I strongly believe in, such as reforming our healthcare system and ending women's rights abuses. 

From when we are little girls until we are grown women, we dream of future baby names. What are some that you've thought of?

My tastes have evolved over time, but for girls, several names I like right now are Rory, Quinn and Leia. For boys, there honestly aren’t a whole lot of names I truly love, though I do like William as a classic choice, along with Logan and Corey.

On that note, would you be upset if a friend took your future kid's name that you really loved and wanted to use it if she had a baby first?

I never thought about it before, but yes, I guess that would be a bummer!

I love this idea! Image Source:
Do you have any tattoos, or would you like to get any? If so, what are they?

I don’t have any tattoos and don’t plan to get any in the future, both because I am a wimp when it comes to any type of pain and because I also don’t like the idea of having something permanent drawn on my skin. I have seen some really awesome designs, though, and think they are great for those who choose to get them. I always feel sad when I see brides pressured to cover their tattoos during their weddings, since their tattoos are a part of who they are! 

Are you obsessed with or do you like to follow the life and career of any celebrities?

I try not to become too celeb-obsessed, because I know it’s all trivial at the end of the day, but I do love to follow celebrity wedding news, in addition to anything involving William, Kate and the rest of the royals. Anne Hathaway is another favorite star I like to follow, along with members of the Glee cast. My guilty pleasure each spring is also American Idol, and I definitely love to follow “behind-the-scenes” news about the show and its contestants.

Do you collect anything, i.e. dolls, collectables, animal objects, etc.?

At my parents’ home in California, I have a beautiful three-story dollhouse filled with the miniature furniture and accessories that I collected throughout my childhood. Once Stephen and I hopefully move back out West someday, I’d love to reorganize and refurbish the collection.

The nursery inside my childhood dollhouse, which could definitely use some fresh carpeting & a nice spring cleaning! 
How many states have you been to? Do you have a favorite other than the one you live in?

My favorite state is definitely California, where I grew up and lived for 22 years. I’ve also been to Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Florida, Virginia, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Illinois and West Virginia. I may be leaving a couple out and am also not counting those states in which I've only been at an airport while on a connecting flight.

When you were little, what was your dream career. Has that come true or changed?

My original childhood dream was to become a teacher, since I always loved going to school and learning. I guess I technically carried this out, in a way, by working as a Spanish tutor during high school.

Do you have any secret talents or quirks that you don't tell a lot of people about?

One of my biggest quirks is that I am a complete neat-freak who is constantly organizing and arranging things around the house. Messiness drives me crazy and keeps me from relaxing, which really worries me about how I’m going to handle having kids someday!