Monday, January 31, 2011

"Freedom" and a Giveaway


This weekend I finished my first book of 2011, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

This was a truly fantastic book. Franzen is an amazing writer that paints scenes and characters with beautiful and witty language. And while I didn't find myself liking a lot of the characters for much of the story, I was incredibly captivated with them and how real they were. This is one of those books that "stays with you" for days. I give it 5 stars/5 stars and highly recommend it. I almost want to read it again!

But tomorrow I start reading The Help and I am excited!

A giveaway!

Also, I am doing a really awesome giveaway this week on my Reviews and Giveaways blog for a handmade necklace from the Nakate Project. Head over to my Reviews and Giveaways blog for a chance to win!

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Love a Good Makeover!

If you're reading on Google Reader, c'mon over to because we got a makeover!

The wonderful Krystyn of Krizzy Designs did a fabulous job again. I love it!

Also be sure to check out the new top and side navigation bars to access some of my favorite posts and topics.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Headed for the Northern California Coast

Tonight the Mr. and I are headed for our first of many mini-vacations in 2011, starting with Monterey and Santa Cruz on the Northern California coast!

Images from Wikipedia

Our plan is to explore the beautiful coast line, eat seafood, relax, and celebrate our friend's marriage.

Our agenda is pretty wide-open at this point, so if you have any tips on things to do or places to eat in either city, let me know!

Stay tuned for a trip recap next week!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brain Dump - Kale, Bridesmaid Dress, Skis and More!

In March I'm going to be a bridesmaid in my soon-to-be sister-in-law's wedding. I just ordered my dress and this is what it looks like. It's really cute, but I am not 100% sure about how I feel about the bubble hem.

Last week I finally bought new skis after skiing on the same skis for nine season! I bought the K2 True Luv skis. I'm so excited to try them out in Utah next week!

I have not owned K2 skis since my FIRST pair of skis in 1988, which were K2 Mickey skis that looked like this...

In an effort to complete the never-ending name change process I finally took a new passport photo. Apparently you're not allowed to smile with teeth in passport photos anymore. Oh and he made me move my bangs to the side all wonky. So my goofy new passport picture looks like this...

This weekend I finished putting the 2010 Christmas cards in my "Christmas Card Scrapbook" that I started in 2009. I love it!

The Mr. and I just finished watching Season 4 of Dexter of Netflix. Holy intense season batman! It was as good as Season 2 and may have been the best season yet.

This living proof that our cat Judah is crazy and will literally play with anything. This is him playing with a green bean that he stole off of the counter while I was cooking dinner.

On Friday night I made Kale Chips for the first time using the Kath Eats recipe. Delish! I didn't even know that I liked kale, but I got some from our CSA so I decided to give it a try. Thanks to my tweeps, Mrs. Smith and Rachel for the help!

I finally bought a new desk chair for my home office and it's awful. It was just $30, so I guess you get what you pay for. Sigh. Does anyone know where to buy a nice but inexpensive desk chair?

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Obsession: Etsy Word Art

It all started when I bought this on Etsy...

And I loved how it looked in our living room. I soon realized that Etsy was filled with amazing letterpress and word art.

So next I picked up this for my home office...

And my obsession was born!

I'm now contemplating buying this as wedding gift...


Speaking of scripture word art, I love how beautiful and modern this is...

Don't you love that verse written out that way?

I would be so happy to someday hang this in my child's nursery...

My parents used to sing that to me and I think it's just the most adorable song. I'd love to design a a modern, whimsical, sunny nursery around this art someday.

And this is pretty awesome for a nursery too...


I love this as a shower gift if you know the baby's name...


OK, enough baby stuff. Here's just another fun one that I liked a lot...

If I had an office at work (instead of being on the road), I'd hang it there.

Those are just some of my favorites that are out there. The possibilities are limitless!

So what phrase, motto, or verse would you like to have on the walls of your home?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Travel Planning

2011 is definitely going to bring lots more business travel, which means more fun travel too!

We are probably not doing any international travel this year because in 2010 I earned a 2011 Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. So anytime I fly on a Southwest Airlines flight the Mr. can fly with me for FREE. Pretty awesome, right? So we're trying to maximize that pass. :)

Here's our travel plans as I know them thus far, but I've only officially booked the first two...

January - Santa Cruz and Monterey
A friend is getting married in Santa Cruz but the Mr. and I are making a three day trip out of it.

February - Salt Lake City
Skiing! The Mr. has never been to SLC, so I'm excited to take him.

March - Oregon
The Mr's younger brother is getting married in Oregon. And we're going to stay an extra day and go skiing on Mt. Hood.

April - New Orleans
I've never been to New Orleans, so I think a trip is in order! I know lots of you have been there so I'll definitely be asking for advice when we confirm our trip.

May - Arizona
We had SO much fun at the Westin Kierland in Arizona last summer that we're definitely going back.

June - Napa
I'm ashamed to admit this, both as a wine-lover and a Californian, but I've been to every wine region in California except Napa. Isn't that crazy?

July - San Diego
Friend I've known since I was born is getting married.

August - Oregon
Annual camping trip.

September/October - East Coast
Since we don't have a September/October trip planned I was thinking of going out the East Coast. Maybe see my Mom in Boston or maybe try to go to Washington DC and the mid-Atlantic. TBD based on a lot of other life factors. :)

November - Oregon
Thanksgiving (as usual)

December - San Diego
Christmas (as usual)

Where are you going in 2011?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Green Cleaning Tips, Tricks, and "Recipes"

I used to be SUPER intimidated by green cleaning. I wasn't sure what I needed to clean green or how it would work. But I discovered it was SUPER easy.

All I need are these ingredients:

(Baking Soda, Castile Soap, Vinegar, Lemon, and empty spray bottles)

And some cloth rags and my house can be totally clean. And green!

I use bulk castile soap and bulk vinegar, cut them with water, and put them in spray bottles to make my main cleaning supplies. Here are my recipes...

Castile Soap Mix recipe:
- 1 empty spray bottle
- 1 teaspoon of castile soap
- Fill bottle with water
Note: You can buy Castile Soap at Trader Joe's.

How to use:
Spray on granite counters, wood furniture, and pretty much anything that needs cleaning and wipe down with a rag. I literally use this on walls, floors, cabinets, surfaces and furniture. Everything shines!

Here's more ways to use Castile Soap.

Vinegar spray recipe:
- 1 empty spray bottle
- Fill half with vinegar
- Fill half with water

How to use:
Spray in fridge to clean fridge shelves, spray inside microwave, pour into sink to deodorize, spray on mirrors in place of windex, spray in toilet and then scrub toilet.

Here's more ways to use vinegar.

Baking Soda recipe:
- Baking soda on a damp rag

How to use:
Scrub pots and pan, wipe down stainless steel, scrub shower walls and doors. Or use dry to deodorize carpets, closets, etc.

Here's more ways to use baking soda.

Lemon recipe:
- Cut lemon into slices

How to use:
Microwave a slice in the microwave for 1 minute and wipe down microwave afterwards, grind up lemon in garbage disposal to remove odor.

More green cleaning tips can be found on one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love.

Isn't that easy? Not only I am being green, but I'm being more healthy by avoiding toxic chemicals, and I'm saving money. I love it!

The only cleaning supplies I buy are dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent, because I have not been bold enough to make my own yet. Maybe that's next!

What are some of your favorite, easy ways to clean green?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh The Places I Went... In 2010

Well, in 2010 I officially retained my "road warrior" status.*

I maintained my Starwood Platinum status, my Avis 1st status, and my Southwest A-List Status.

I went on 25 business trips for total of 93 days!

And all these business trip enabled me to take 16 pleasure trips for a total of 73 days!

All those days on the road gave me a bunch of free flights and free hotel nights. Definitely a nice job perk!

So in 2010 I spent a total 166 days away from home. Remind me again why I even bother to have a home?

So where did we go in 2010? ...



San Francisco

Santa Barbara




New York City

Oregon (three times over the year!)

San Diego (four times over the year!)

My favorite 2010 destination was obviously Europe, but I really had a blast everywhere. I feel so blessed to have experienced so many amazing places.

Where was your favorite place that you visited in 2010?

I'm not sure I can top the 2010 travels in 2011, but I'm gonna try! Stay tuned to see where I'm heading in 2011.

*Sorry for the late 2010 recap. I was on blogging hiatus at the end of 2010. You can forgive me right?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dream Home - Wine Room

The Mr. and I will occasionally talk about what we'd want in our hypothetical dream home.

He wants a lazy river around the house. (seriously, isn't he hilarious?)

And one of the main things I want (besides an insane walk-in closet) is a Wine Room. A temperature controlled room that is a wine cellar.

Something like this...


Or this...


Or it could be more modern and integrated into another room like this...

Or this...


I also like the idea of true wine cellar, like this amazing, modern, spiral wine cellar...


The possibilites are really endless. *Sigh*

What do you want in your dream home?

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Reading Plan

A new year, and a new set of books to read. Some that I aquired recently, and some that have been sitting on my shelf for a while, begging to be read.

I chose 14 books, knowing that I will likely read a couple more in there someplace. So without futher ado, they are...

January – Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

February – The Help by Katherine Stockett

March – Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

April – The Pact by Jodi Picoult

May – Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhonda Janzen

June – Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

July – Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

August – Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

September – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

October – Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

November – Love & Respect by Eggerichs Emerson and Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

December – On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah

Many of these have been recommended me to me by friends and bloggers, and a few are by authors who's other books I've enjoyed.

Have you read any of these? Are you reading any of these books this year?

Friday, January 07, 2011

A Few of my Favorite Things from Christmas

This Christmas was definitely different than years past. I'd be lying if I said we had a very good Christmas overall. Not to say that we didn't have a wonderful time with my family, or eat great food, or have a great time exchanging gifts. It's just that we were not really in the "happy holidays" spirit. (Sorry if that sounds depressing or bratty, but I gotta keep it real with you all here)

You can tell I wasn't in the spirit by the fact that I hardly took any pictures. But we did manage to take our annual, obligatory, "in front of the Christmas tree" photo at my parent's house:

But I am very thankful to my parents, the Mr., and my Grandma for doing thier absolute best to make my spirits bright, including giving me some wonderful gifts.

My Mom knew I'd been in the market for a new wallet for quite some time, and gave me this beautiful one. Just what I had been looking for!

The Mr. gave me the William-Sonoma Goldtouch pans that many of you recommended to me. I can't wait to make cookies on them.

He also gave me the book, "Freedom", which I recently started reading and am enjoying a lot.

My Dad knows what a germaphobe the Mr. is so he gave us these awesome new "elevate" cooking utentisils. They have this little thing on the back that keeps them elevated when resting. Genius!

My Mom also gave me this herbal bean-filled heating/cooling pad that she got a craft fair. I love it! I think I may have gotten the most use out of this so far than anything!

"Judah" bought me this to go on my desk. Kind of looks like him, right? :)

And my grandma gave me money, which was much appreciated, because I am in the market to buy new skis, and will probably put the money toward that. I'm considering the K2 True Luv Skis.

And this purse was a HUGE added bonus present that my Mom bought for me when we found it on super sale at Nordstrom while doing "day after Christmas" shopping. It's so pretty and goes so well with my new wallet. Thank you Momma!

What were your favorite Christmas gifts this year? Did you get any "day after Christmas" deals?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

What I Read in 2010

In early 2010, taking a cue from a couple of my favorite blogging buddies (Erin, Rachel) I set out to read at least a book a month.

I'm happy to report that I read 14 books in 2010! They were:

January – The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
4 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

February – Leading Change by John Kotter
Required reading for work.

March – Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
4 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

April – What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
4 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

May – Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
3 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

May - The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
5 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

June – Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
2 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

July – I Will Carry You by Angie Smith
5 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

August – The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
5 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

September – Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
3 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

September - Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
3 stars out of 5.
My full review here.

October – Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff

3 stars out of 5.
This was fun little read. I picked it up because I've read the blog "Stuff Christians Like." This book made me laugh out loud a few times, but it was not Pulitzer prize winner. :)

November – Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall
5 stars out of 5.
I know this book is a fan-favorite of bloggers and it did not disappoint! Beautiful, touching, engaging story. I bawled my eyes out reading the end on the plane ride to Oregon for Thanksgiving.

December – The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
4 stars out of 5.
I actually spent almost all year reading this and finished it up in December. I really enjoyed reading it a couple times a week as a night time devotional. I definitely know how to better pray for my husband because of it.

Did you read any of these books in 2010? What did you think?

Tomorrow I'll tell you what I'm reading in 2011!
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