The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Friday, September 12, 2014

3 Tips to a Cleaner Inbox

If your anything like me, then you get a lot of daily emails in your inbox. So much so that it can be annoying/stressful/exciting/overwhelming/Fill in the blank. I am in a very bad good habit of deleting emails. I like to keep my inbox to 10 or less items. Here are my top tips for keeping that stuff moving right along.

#1 Delete. Don't be afraid to delete emails. If you receive blog posts by email, delete them, you can always go back to the original blog to read later. You don't need to save those pesky store discount email codes. (This will also save you money). If you don't delete now, you are giving yourself a future headache for that day when you decide to clean-up your inbox and you re-open every email to see if it was important.

#2 Utilize folders. I use Gmail and the service offers folders for organizing your emails. I have a folder that I call 'receipts'. I save all of my online purchases there until I receive them in the mail at which point I refer to tip #1 I delete them out of the folder. It's also important to save certain correspondence. For example, I save my emails from my auto insurance broker that way if I need to refer to something I always have it handy.

#3 Unsubscribe. Don't be afraid to unsubscribe from any and all emails. It's one (or 20) less things your mind has to think of. Trust me, you will not miss those extra 20% emails, flight deals or whatever else you may be subscribed to. If I am in the market to buy a new J.Crew sweater, I simply check out their website (there's usually a sale currently going on or if not I just temporarily subscribe until I see a good sale, buy my sweater and then promptly unsubscribe). It may seem scary but you will survive without knowing everything.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Choosing a Nanny 101

When Jack was born, I had the wonderful opportunity to take him to work with me. Perks of working for your parents. By the time he reached 8 months, it was time to stop bringing him with me. He was on the go and needed a lot more activity than I could give him in an office. Though I knew the day was coming, I didn't want to place him under the care of anyone else. Ultimately, my husband and I decided that a nanny was the best option. Jack would be able to remain in the comfort and security of his own home, have 100% of the attention of his caregiver and if I had to leave before he woke up for the day I could. That means I didn't have to get up extra early to change him, feed him, etc. BONUS.

But then the thought of allowing a complete stranger to basically live in my house and take care of my baby during the day was a little daunting. How do you find someone you can trust?

I've used multiple methods to finding a nanny and thought I would share here.

You know it. I've used it. I never hired a nanny from there but I did find a family that I was going to share our nanny with. I'll be the first one to say Craigslist is completely sketchy but I post stuff on there all the time which leads me to believe there are other normal, safe people using the site as well.

Church Community Boards.
This is my second most preferred method for nanny finding. It is especially good if you actually go to the church whose board you are looking at. We found our first nanny this way and felt extremely confident entrusting her with our babe.

Other Online Boards.
There are Yahoo Mom's groups and hundreds of other parenting community forums. I've contacted nannies from all over the place.
I like this site. You can browse through nannies and refine your search for anything specific including key words. I have met with a couple of nannies from care and I would have hired them if it weren't for my absolutely most preferred method of finding a nanny...

Hands down this is the best way to find a caretaker. I've had 3 referrals and I will always hire them above and beyond anyone looking good online that I don't know. Our substitute nanny was a referral from our first nanny. Our second nanny was the daughter of a friend of my parents and our current nanny knew our substitute nanny. That referral is the biggest peace of mind you can get in childcare.

It can be really stressful trying to find the right person. Try to remember that nannies can appear available on a moments notice. What I mean is that, a nanny may be working for one family and then find out they don't need her in two weeks and then she is suddenly available. Always keep reminding friends and family that you need a nanny because they might forget and this will keep is fresh in their mind to look out for those referrals. I hate leaving my little boy for the day but ultimately, since I do need childcare, a nanny is the perfect solution for us. The nanny follows the routine that I give her, Jack remains in the safest place possible and I have the most peace of mind.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Me + TLC's Four Weddings

 (More images from this wedding here and here).

Last October I had the awesome opportunity to photograph one of my co-workers wedding. What made this wedding unique was that the bride was selected to appear in the TLC show Four Weddings. The office has been all abuzz as we anxiously waited for her show to air. Immediately, upon my return home from my weekend away, I plopped on the couch and hit my DVR to watch the show that had aired on Friday. Pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire time. I've joined the ranks of people who know other people who have actually been on reality T.V. My photographs were selected to be shown on the TLC website as well. It's been a pretty neat experience to be apart of and watch how the behind the scenes plays out. So if you're interested in watching, the episode is being replayed this Friday on TLC at 8pm PST.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Weekend Getaway: Suncadia

This past weekend my parents rented a house at Suncadia Resort. It was amazing! Where should I start? The resort is just a few miles over the mountain pass in the woods. I'm pretty sure Tiger Woods owns a house on the golf course. The cabin was sublime. All wood flooring throughout, wood paneled ceiling in the main living room, beautiful wood details in every room. And it was that dark and warm wood. My room smelled lovely. Exactly the way one would expect an elegant cabin in the woods to smell. Can I just say that the weekend went by WAY too fast?! There's so much stuff to do at the resort if you're into the outdoors. In the past, I've been to a couple of outdoor concerts held here. KT Tunstall was definitely one of my favs. Jack had a blast playing with all of his cousins for three days straight. We celebrated a couple of birthdays and we left Sunday on such a happy note. I know we'll be spending much more time up there as a family in the future.

Monday, August 11, 2014

You should not settle for a knock-off

There's these pajamas that I REALLY want. Don't ask me why. My only reason would be that I'm a sucker for things a certain trendsetter recommends. And that makes me look dumb. So, just don't ask me why. I have this idea of what the picture, perfect life looks like and wearing matching style pajamas with my husband and passing on the tradition of well styled pajamas to my kids is one of them. I'm deeply drawn to deep traditions. I'm also deeply drawn to all things classic.

There is just no way I am spending over $200 on a pair of pajamas. Even the trendsetter mentioned above didn't actually buy them (they were a gift from the company). Of course the only logical next stop for pajama shopping is J.Crew. Don't get me wrong, I love the below jams; my problem is that they're kind of summery, right? The red piping is adorable. But they just don't scream cozy, Fall and Winter pajamas. I want something a little warmer (looking, not material).

No, I still will not spend over $200 on one pair of PJs but I also am not just going to buy any pair of PJs in it's place. That is never as satisfying. For sure, if I buy a pair that I'm not googoo over, I know I will be disappointed in the long run and probably not wear them as often. Perhaps J.Crew will come out with a darker pair as we officially move into the colder seasons. ***fingers crossed***

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

3 things you can do to improve your relationships

A few weeks ago, my company hosted a wellness health and productivity event for our clients. The morning session was held on land and the afternoon on a boat in the Puget Sound. Our speaker this year was Chester Elton. His talk was energizing. There were tears and there was a lot of laughter. Simply put, the man had powerful ideas. And these ideas were not that profound in of themselves but it was more the application of such ideas that led the audience to believe amazing things were possible.

While the talk was geared towards creating a culture of belief in the workplace, the ideas seemed to me a much higher value in my personal life. I wanted to share some of these ideas because I believe they can have a huge impact on relationships and that is something to share.

1: Hand write notes. This is big. Handwritten notes show someone that you care enough to actually write something to them and them alone! Not only that but whatever you actually say in your note is meaningful as well. Last week, I wrote my Mom a letter and mailed it to her. I see her often and talk to her more but I know receiving a little love note from myself in the mail will really make her day.

2: Give compliments often and right away. Don't wait till the next minute or hour or day to recognize someone for something good that they have done. Do it now. The bad to good ratio of things you tell someone is supposed to be something like 1:5 or 7 or some high number like that. For every one negative thing you tell a person, they need to hear so many more positive things to balance it out. It's not 1:1.

3: Keep a notebook of love. Listening to Chester speak gave me the fun idea to have a notebook that I keep out on a table in a popular room in my home. The idea is that each family member can write things in it about other family members that are good. Over the years, I imagine us all writing little notes to each other in these notebooks and we'll have them always to look at and cherish. I think it would such a wonderful tradition to pass down to our kids and in their kids lives too.

I want to live a life that truly fosters positive relationships with those I am closest too. Relationships are work and it can be easy to let them slip to the back burner as life passes by. If anyone else has some good ideas on how to grow positive, lasting relationships, please share in the comments below!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The pitfalls of living in shared spaces

Anyone living in the city knows that living in a multi-family building has it's challenges. I suppose this doesn't apply to only those living in cities but it is definitely more common in urban areas. We've been incredibly blessed for almost five years to have near perfect neighbors living above us. Though I say "near perfect", I can't really recall specific incidences in which I hated them. If I had to take a guess, I would say each tenant above had one night of loud partying fun. And that's it.

Finally, the fourth set of neighbors to move in upstairs has sent me spiraling. Worse than having a new born baby. Pretty sure of that, anyway. I'm distancing myself from this place I have grown to love so deeply. From this place I have called my home for almost five years. Realizing that this place was never mine to begin with. As any renter knows, it takes time to feel truly home in a rental and then when you do, as I'm experiencing for the first time, you kind of forget that the rental isn't really yours. Not really.

We've lived so much life here. In this secret basement. On this great hill. The thought of having to leave it has left me in tears many a night. But the pain of being woken up more nights than not, for extended periods, never knowing if tonight would be peaceful or stressful has become too great. My heart is distancing itself and making room for change.

It will be hard to replace a neighborhood with a walk score of 90.

I'm still so tired.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why You Should Save Your Leftovers

Pretty regularly I ride the bus home from work. Staring out the window as I always do I saw a young girl walking a dog. She walked right up the trash receptacle on the street and started digging. She found a Wendy's bag. There was a french fry which she immediately stuffed in her mouth. Digging around some more, she found nothing and continued walking down the street. This is literally 5 blocks from my house.

Not to say that we shouldn't worry about hungry people all over the world but it can be easy to forget there are hungry people right in our own neighborhoods. How easy it is to box up your leftovers and offer them to someone in need. I have done it a few times and I gotta say it is a little embarrassing when the man who probably hasn't showered in months, is missing teeth, wears rags as clothing and looks completely out of it declines my leftovers. Makes me a feel a little like I don't ever want to do that again. But I've had more takers than leavers. So easy to do. You just have to set aside whatever it is that is holding you back from approaching a stranger in need. I try to remind myself to not let things hold me back from doing the good I ought to be doing. Once I step my own self out of the way, I can act as a servant more easily.

I'm also reminded to not waste food at home. I hate watching leftovers go bad in the fridge. I hate to leave something out on the counter only to see it in the morning and realize you forgot to seal it up or stick it in the refrigerator. I just hate waste in general. Not because it's like you're working for free when you throw away money in the form of food but because so many people don't have and we should be conscious of what we use.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I Like About Wes Anderson

I was trying to be vague but it's easier if I'm direct.

I hate when I like something that is relatively below the radar of the masses but then that thing reaches a level of mass audience approval. If it's music, I'm glad for the band but still annoyed that all these people who don't even really know what original, good music is now suddenly love this band. They wouldn't know good music if it was performed right in front of them in the subway tunnel. My thoughts only - but, really, it's all good. Same with movies. I'm not a pioneer (because I'm just not that cool) but I consider myself an early adopter of many things. Usually a few steps ahead of the curve.

Wes Anderson writes and directs some of the best movies. They appeal to the masses, I think, in large part due to the artistic cinematography. It's beautiful and unique. Well framed and more "portrait" looking story telling. While I love that aspect, what I love most is the characters. I closely relate. But I think a lot of people just don't. And those characters are really what make his movies so wonderful. They are sad. Not just sad but their entire outlook is based on a sad reality. Always, though, there seems an optimism about tomorrow. That tomorrow will come and sad they may be, it will be OK, everything will just keep on going. There's really not a hope for some unattainable happiness.

Trying to understand why some people relate more to this than others is just a wonder to me. I think maybe I've seen more sad movies than happy and so I see the world as slightly sad. Or maybe because I am slightly sad I relate more to the sad people. If two people with the exact same background watched the same movie, could one person relate more to the sad and one just completely  miss that part? It's weird how our brains appear hardwired to see the world one way or another.

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to create happy, pretty things. Happiness is what I long for. Maybe that's why Anderson's movies are so pretty too.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Making Time for the Things that Fire You Up

Today has been about laundry, meal making and playing with Jack. Oh and dishes. Oh and sweeping too. Anywho. Whilst  sweeping I was thinking about how by the end of the day I will be tired and only wanting to curl out on the couch and watch some mindless show on TV. It made me think about how I never have time to do some of the things that I really love. That made me think about how at the end of the day, when my energy is spent, if there is still cleaning to do I usually will do some of it - but if the cleaning is done, I won't spend time indulging my interests. Conclusion: spend time on the things you love because at the end of the day you will always make time for getting the things done that need to keep the house in order.

This is why I am writing even now. The makings of butternut squash soup are simmering on the stove (it's a lovely, grey day in Seattle) and I could easily be doing more dishes or moving the couch and sweeping underneath it. Instead I'm choosing to write because it fills me up. Actually, it empties me in ways. Very good ways. Emptying my thoughts into this blogspot. (BTW Blogger just tried to autocorrect 'blogspot' into 'bloodspot'. You would think blogger would not autocorrect its own name).

As a practice, one day a week I will not come straight home and do household chores. I will do something that I like doing. Frankly, working the job that I have full time does not fill me up at all. There are aspects that are satisfying which is probably why I am slow to make my dreams of self-employment happen. I guess it works for this period of my life.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

When You Realize You Need to Negotiate

OK, I'm feeling very frustrated.

Recently I got a promotion. I did not even try to negotiate the raise. I just took what they gave me and went along. What they gave me is fine. I guess. Maybe it's not fine. More is not just fine. I should not just be OK with more because it's more. I've been reading a lot here and here about negotiating. Women are notorious for not getting paid more because they don't ask. There is no one to blame but myself. Am I expecting my boss to come along side me and fight for me to be a fighter? To explain to me that I need to just be confident and assertive. That is certainly not going to happen. Though I often romanticize about a confident, professional, successful woman seeing me and all of my glorious potential and telling me they want to take me under their wing and show me the ropes. Why do I have that silly idea in my head? That is never going to happen. If I want something, anything I have to get it for myself.

Here's the bottom line: if you accept what your employer offers you, then you are accepting less than what they can pay you and less that what you are worth. Bottom line. Truth.

I'm frustrated that once again I was too afraid to speak up. I feel like I was taken advantage of but really, I just let them offer me that low ball rate and let them make me believe I was less than what I am. I'm the employee of the quarter. I'm not just some person with no value.

I seriously need to work on my confidence. Anyone out there got any tips???

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Would Your Rather: Fame or Fortune

Last night I was getting caught up on the Real Housewives of Orange County. There was a clip of the Miss Santa Monica Beauty Pageant where the contestant was asked if she had to choose between fame and fortune what would it be. Her answer was fortune and then she quoted Harry Potter, saying 'fame is a fickle friend'.

Initially, I thought fame, for sure, 100%. Reason being that fame gives you the power to influence others. I feel passionate about certain things in life. Some of these things, such as Real Food among other things, don't have enough role models or influencers to get the word out. It would be great to be a beautiful, respected individual standing up for things that go against the grain. Also, I figure with fame I would have a following and there is always money to be made off of a great following. I know, I know that sounds weird to say but look at Jessica Alba and The Honest Company. Wouldn't that be amazing to see a passion project that does good for people come to life? Yes. Yes, it would.

In essence of actually making a decision and sticking with it. There it is. We won't get into how much fun it would be to have fortune. ;)

What would you pick? Fame or Fortune?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Letter to Recent Grads

Dear Graduates (specifically business school grads),

I am writing this letter because I too was once a business school graduate with grand ideas about what I wanted for my career. I felt the rush and the anxiety of finding a new job in the wide, wide world. There were tears. Many tears. And then there was so much joy when I landed that first "dream" job.

My biggest priority in my initial post-grad job hunt was location (downtown). Secondly, I wanted to be involved in "big, exciting business". Real vague, whatever that meant. I did not want to work in insurance but that is apparently a thriving industry in my city. After awhile of searching job boards, I thought I needed a different approach. I thought about walking around downtown with a big sandwich board that read something like, 'recent grad, hire me, please'. Eventually, I turned to Google maps. Genius idea. Not all businesses post their open positions elsewhere so I needed to actually find the companies and search their websites for jobs. This method worked much better. I was also able to see exactly where the company was located and what they did. I literally just started applying at every single job that I thought I was even remotely qualified for. My mom likes to call it the "shot-gun effect". A few days after applying I would usually try to call and talk to the HR department. Let me say that getting ahold of an actual HR person is a lot harder than it sounds.

Interviewing was usually a piece of cake. After all, I had some experience from working an administrative job in college. It was after the interview stage that I started to lose my mind. I wanted a job so bad, I could taste it. It was all consuming. I would replay the entire interview in my head over and over and over again thinking there was no way that I wouldn't get that job. I answered all the questions perfectly. Ugh, that game, what a joke. But after awhile, I stopped putting all my eggs into baskets. It became less stressful.

Finally, a couple of months after graduation I did land a job. An insurance brokerage in a perfect downtown location. I still remember my first week there. Walking the halls in my J. Crew suits. I had arrived in grownupville. Whatever that is. Now I know. I wish I would have known then but that is irrelevant as long as I know now. (Hint: there is no such thing as a grown-up. People just remain who they are or who they want to be and just look older). Anyway, it was really great. The brokerage was a big enough company that I could learn and grow and have promotion possibilities. That is another important thing. You don't want to outgrow your company or else you'll be looking for a new job all the time and never really growing too much.

This story is so much longer. I left the company for a few years only to realize that although I didn't like the boring name of 'insurance', the work was satisfying and the office was fun. So, I returned four years later (currently here now). Luckily, we all wear jeans now, no suits required. And I'm happy where I am now. Though I have much bigger dreams of entrepreneurship. I continue to learn and push myself outside of my work week. I hold onto the future goals and know that right now is just an ends to a mean and I'm lucky that it's enjoyable.

To conclude this letter, I would like to say that you should push yourself as hard as you can to not just do what you think you are supposed to do. You can if you want and that is all you want and it will work and be fine, I'm sure. But you went to college. You are obviously smart, so taste what you want to and then remember to keep reading. Keep learning. Keep looking for the things that light your fire.

And now, in regular Jen style I have completely sidetracked the whole point of this post. It's probably because I don't believe in playing that game anymore because, for me, it just doesn't fulfill my lifelong dream and priorities. But, I did still go through those motions, and had a positive experience from it and know that anyone who works hard, is nice and puts effort into can achieve their dreams.

Oh dear.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Dream Life

Yesterday, I was watching my weekly Tuesday episode of MarieTV. Marie asked us all to write our life dreams into the comments section. I did. And I wanted to share it here too so I had a copy for myself.

"I can picture it now. The perfect white house with perfect black shutters, maybe a crisp red door. The backyard isn’t huge but has space to grow food and flowers; there’s even a chicken coop. My three boys (only one exists now :) )  running around laughing while my husband and I sit in the perfect white Adirondack chairs sipping whatever it is we sip in the sun. The perfect ending to a great day. A day that began with a nourishing breakfast, some homeschool type education, then lunch. The next four hours I work my dream job. I don’t know if I would work out of a home office or have a space in one of those shared work space offices. I share my dreams and I help other people to realize theirs. A job full of inspiration and encouragement. Though, now I’m pretty much clueless as to what exactly that would be. After we spend our time outside, we finish the day with a nourishing dinner of real foods. Then we thank God for a wonderful day and go to sleep excited for what the next day holds."

(Source: Unfortunately, this house is all over Pinterest but I have yet to actually find an original source or even one with a link to the page from a blog that came from).

This I know to be true. I will forever be working on my heart, practicing gratitude and being happy right where I am because I am exactly where I'm supposed to be for right now. Maybe one day I will have that dream or maybe one day what I have will be my dream.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Planning for a Mental Escape

Vacation: a long overdue activity that I need in my life right now.

I have happily booked two upcoming getaways.  Both involve the only coast I like traveling too. (My coast. West coast = best coast). And both involve sunshine. California. Can I just say that I will fly anywhere as long it's under three hours? Yup, I'm that easy going.

The first weekend of May will be spent in San Diego. Luckily, it's late enough in the year, that I hope the beach is warm enough to chill out on. We'll be traveling with our tiny tot, Jack, and Matt's brother with his wife. I'm already wishing we could stay longer. I need a mental vacation. Just to regroup and refocus. To remember why I'm doing what I'm doing and to dream big dreams to go after.

The last weekend of May will be spent in the LA area. Hopefully, Santa Monica - ish. A gal pal and I will be taking the weekend off. I need more weekend getaways in my life. This will be the first weekend traveling without my family. Not long enough to miss them. Which is a good and a bad thing. Again, by that time of the year, I'm really thinking the weather will be perfect.

One of my most favorite things to do while vacationing is just sit in the hotel, watch a movie and order dessert room service. Oh the coziness of it all. There's so many pillows on the bed. The blankets a fluffy. I love hotels. You know, the clean ones that is. It's going to be a looooong two.5 weeks. Oh and it's to rain here the rest of this week while my parents are relaxing in Palm Desert. See, I was born to love California. It is not overrated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Book Review: 7 an experimental mutiny against excess

I read this book last year. It was life changing. Not like, my whole life is different life changing, but in a I definitely am different in one area life changing. It was a mutiny against excess. Clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, stress. It was Jen Hatmaker's experiment. A rebellion of sorts against modern society and our culture at large. And it changed my life.

Waste. We are all very wasteful. It's part of how we live in America. I figure once I know better, I need to do better. I will never be perfect but if I take one extra step to reduce waste in my personal life, then I know I am making a difference. For example, I RARELY use paper towels anymore. I knew of people who practiced this already but I didn't really care, yaddiyaddiya. If I threw a scrap paper in the garbage every once in awhile, I didn't care. Now, I see things so differently. Now, I don't know why I would use a paper towel when dish rags and hand towels do the same job and all I have to do is throw them in the wash. So what if the garbage is closer to me, a couple of extra steps to the recycle bin is all it takes.

Clothes. We're planning a trip to San Diego at the end of this month and I desperately needed a new swimsuit. Desperately. Four different bikinis sat in my drawer unused for months and years. But no, I need a new one. OK, so then a few days later, I was just like, no, I do NOT need a new swimsuit. I will wear what I have because I don't even regularly go swimming up here in cold water Seattle. Make what you have work. $60-$100 on a new swimsuit could actually be a really fun adventure. I'd rather have a fun adventure.

Spending. This is a life lesson that I learned the hard way, as most people do. Proud to say we are debt free after focusing hard with A LOT of self control. Being purposeful and thoughtful about spending habits is something that I think is very important. But I also think that sometimes you just need to have some fun. Money was also made to enjoy and there ain't nothin wrong with that!

Media. We'll as I wrote previously, I practice #socialmediafree weekends. I also practice no using smart phones on the couch. I really try not to be on my phone in front of the kid. One of my goals is to have one day a week where I don't watch TV at all. Sometimes I accomplish the goal and other times I don't.

Although the book is by a Christian author with a Christian perspective, I really think this experiment is insightful for all people with all beliefs. Be careful if you read the book, it will change your life. If you do read it, come back and tell me your thoughts.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Having A Point of View


I've been listening to podcasts: Nick Onken SHOPTALK radio

So far, I've only listened to two: F.E. Castleberry who runs a popular blog that I occasionally pop by and Matthew Loyd, a creative entrepreneur who now runs a site called Mosey. I have no idea if these people know each other or even know of each other but they both said something that really rang true for me. Separately. They each said the same thing. That a brand is a point of view. (This may sound obvious. And often brilliant ideas are the really obvious ones). Castleberry suggested developing this point of view in private. I couldn't agree more and that is actually how this blog came about.

I love to just write out my thoughts. Putting what is in my head onto paper forces me to articulate exactly what I am feeling or thinking. It forces thoughts to be concrete and not just some whimsical state in my mind. The season of my life is such that I am too concerned about what others are thinking of me and I just needed this space to be my authentic self and get back in touch with who I am. So, while YOU may be reading this, there is no one who actually knows me that knows about this blog. I love that about this space. I can write freely and not worry about if people are judging me. Unlimited time and space to express myself and really develop my authentic voice and "point of view". Not just in life but in my creative endeavors. Which for right now, remain mostly unknown to me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Looming Uncertainty


I've been on this journey to figure out what I want to do for the past 4.5 years now. Of course, really I've spent my whole life dreaming about what I wanted to do but this is more focused. And more grown up. After I graduated college and landed what I considered to be a dream job, I soon realized it was not what I thought it would be. Of course, I'm grateful for the opportunity. It's just when you feel like something is missing, it's hard to really live gratefully.

I began reading a book, The Artists Way. It pushed me. Cameron speaks of passion. I don't know about most people but I just don't feel passionate about anything. That's not to say that I never get excited about things. Business always excites me. But business as a general idea is just exactly that, general. What about it? I'm not exactly sure. Since I was a child I've held strong to the entrepreneurial spirit. It burns deep within me. But it has no focus. So it eats me alive. Four years ago, I decided to pursue just an interest. Photography. I dove into weddings. I learned as much as possible. I shot 7 weddings in my first year, which I believed to be a huge success coming from absolutely no experience whatsoever. I saw passion once. I saw it in someone else and I longed so dearly to have that. Just concentrated, confident, real passion. I was so drawn to it. I still want that. Passion can grow out of persistence. Maybe it's because the photography isn't really growing that the interest is fading. My worst fears come to life: that I am that person who quits too soon. I am that person who doesn't stick to it long enough to greatly succeed. I am a loser. I am just average. Doomed to spend the rest of my days doing ordinary things whilst I forever long for greatness.

The thing is, that I, I don't know how to be in this moment. I'm bored without direction. I'm bored without something to do or work on. At the end of the day, I want to be productive. I hate to lay round watching TV. I don't even really want to be using the computer but I thought writing was at least something. And I've always loved to write. Sometimes I think the answer will come to of the writing. After all, The Artists Way recommends "morning pages". The daily practice of writing stream of thought for 3 whole pages. My pages turned into prayers as too much introspection makes me feel more that just self-absorbed. Apparently, that's OK with me in the blogging world. :)

I want to help people. I want to make a lot of money. (Let's just be completely honest ;). I want to have the flexibility to make my own schedule. I like having a project always on my mind. Though recently, through hearing other people's own stories of recovery, I'm wondering if projects are just my way of filling the void. I don't feel OK with nothing to do. I have to fill my time, always. I believe too many lies about myself. I'm incredibly hard working and focused when I believe I'm on the right track. I'm trying to cut out the crap. No Instagram. No Pinterest. Blogs are fine. I'm waiting for God's direction but I don't feel it. I don't know which direction to go. I don't know how He will possibly make another kid happen. A bigger place to live happen. A home of our own one day happen. A dream career happen. Like, I just do not understand how that will all happen. I'm constantly conflicted as well. Should I be chasing after all that I want? Is that selfish? Is that what God wants me to do? This is the uncertainty. The uneasiness. The lies. Not from Him.

It's probably OK to chase dreams. Just make sure to listen to His voice along the way and accept what may happen and except what may not happen. Accept His plan. Seriously, OK, now I could go on and on about the back and forth of what I should do. I need an idea. I need some direction. I feel like I've just been on this constant path of trying to find it for endless years.

I'll be forever chasing the dream.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Be Kind and Work Hard

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving"
-Colossians 3:23, 24
 Growing up my Mother always used to tell me to work as if I was working for the Lord. I credit that as a huge part of my work ethic. I remember doing chores when I was younger and really not wanting too but thinking about this and then being excited to do it well. (Ironically, I am writing this blog post at work. I'll consider it a break). If you were working for the Lord, you would do the most exceptional job that you are capable of doing. You would be focused and not fall prey to easy distractions, such as blogging or social media. (Hint: my tip to fight against the distraction of the vast Internet land is to keep a pad of paper by my side  and whenever I get an urge to look at something, I just write it down and look at it later if I still have an interest). While reading my morning Bible chapter, this was the verse of the day. It was a pleasant reminder. Sometimes when I feel like my job is so mundane or just not worthy, I need to remember that I am doing this work for the Lord. It renews my sense of excitement in the task at hand. It gives me a goal and something to work for. It's not always about the actual work but more about how you and how you treat that work. I love to refine myself from the inside and this is one of the verses that calls you to refine your attitude. Whatever we are doing, we may serve God through it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Inspiration" is Taking Over the World

Inspiration is EVERYWHERE. To be honest, inspiration is getting too much publicity. From Pinterest to Instagram to Tumblr to blogs. It's like a non-stop barrage of constant inspiration. We have the capability to ignore but it's. just. so. hard. How hard would it be to not use Pinterest for week? How hard would it be to not check your Instagram feed? How hard would it be to not use social media all weekend long? I'm here to tell you. It's not hard to avoid social media on the weekends. I actually do this. I actually do not use any form of social media on the weekends. Saturday and Sunday for sure and often times Friday evening. By the end of the week, I'm so ready to check out of the Internet and just have time. There is something called too much inspiration. Overwhelmed by the amount of stuff out there? Me too! And the thing is all that online inspiration doesn't amount to very much actual output in your real life. I find the best inspiration is found in real life. That's why it's so important to get offline and get out and do something. Enjoy life. Go for a walk. Grab a coffee with a friend. Grab a coffee with yourself. You like to look at pretty pictures? How about making your own pretty pictures. Sure, you won't make as pretty pictures as you see in the glossy pages of Pinterest but you can. If you do it enough, you can make just as pretty pictures or even prettier pictures. Do you like to write? Write your own blog or diary. Don't just read what other people are writing. You can write too. So often we are so consumed with consuming that we forget what we were really made to do and that is to create. Don't think of creating as only something artists do. Everything you see was created. Every restaurant or store you go into was created. Every service you use was created. Everything was created. We were made to do things. I find myself getting lost in blogs and then I remember what would really make me feel satisfied deep down is to write myself. I get great satisfaction from doing things myself. The thing is that being obsessed with inspiration really only takes you away from actually doing things. The best inspiration comes from life. The best inspiration comes from doing things. Inspiration comes out of doing things. Learning from what you are doing. If you like making photographs - go start shooting things and while you are shooting something, you might be like, hey, let me try it this way. Doing things builds inspiration. I challenge all Interneters to leave social media this weekend. Just try it. Feel the boredom and make something happen. What would you do if the Internet didn't exist anymore? What would you do?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies: An Adaptation

We believe in eating REAL FOOD. My only problem with this is that I want to pin real, traditional food. You know food the way our ancestors and all of the people of the world ate before the last 50 years of major industrialization. Before billion dollar food industries dictated the information the general public received about nutrition. I digress. I like to pin and I only like to pin pretty pictures. Pinterest is first about visual pleasure and then about actual function. So, I need pretty pictures of real food done right. Most of the "crunchy" or real food bloggers out there just don't take pretty pictures of their nourishing concoctions. They may be super experienced and learned in nutrition but the pictures fall, well let's just say, rather flat. Spreading the word about real food is important. Let's spread the word by taking pictures that people want to look at. A pretty picture will encourage the viewer to click through to the original post. I definitely have to hone my food styling skills. (Currently at level 1). I know, I know. But I'm going to attempt to make pretty photos of real, nutrient dense food. My sweet tooth encouraged me to start with dessert.

This chocolate chip cookie recipe has been adapted from the recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. These are gluten free and refined sugar free (except for the chocolate chips, of course). You could easily make this dairy free by substituting coconut oil for butter. I'll write another post later about why I am gluten free.

1/2 cup coconut oil or 1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup rapadura
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 2 tablespoons hot filtered water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 bag of chocolate chips (more or less to your taste)

Cream coconut oil, butter and rapadura
Beat in eggs, sea salt, baking soda, vanilla extract and flours
Fold in chocolate chips

Bake at 325 for 14 or so minutes
They will likely be really soft and moldable when you take them out but don't worry they will cool and harden.

There you have it. I am in no way shape or form going to be some sort of food blogger but on occasion I may post something and I hope these pictures have proven themselves to be somewhat worthy of Pinterest.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Make Your Husband Fulfill All of Your Life Dreams

This is probably one of the biggest skills I learned in 2013 and it has been one of the most successful tools to having a happy marriage that I have found to date. The answer is simple: don't have any expectations. I mean this in all seriousness. I don't mean that you shouldn't care about what your husband does and is going to do. You should. But place all of your expectations, hopes and dreams upon God. Not your husband. Put your trust in God and He will provide for you everything your heart desires in accordance with His will. All the things you want your husband to do, all the things you don't want him to do, all the desires you want him to have, all of the desires you don't want him to have, all your hopes, dreams and goals - just give them all to God. When you are done praying daily for the things you wish your husband would do or would be, make sure you pray that God would change your heart and fill you up with joy and gratefulness for the wonderful husband that you do have. The perfect husband that He created just for you. Then pray that God would show you, teach you and mold you into the wife that your husband needs and wants. Trust in God. Pray everyday. Give all of your thoughts to Him. Don't hold your husband responsible for the life that you want; ask God to give you the life He has planned for you. Pray when you are mad. Pray when you are angry. Pray when you are upset. Pray when you would really rather not. This is good work for a happy marriage. When you place your trust and place your expectations on God instead of your husband, you will find a peace that surpasses all understanding. There you have it - the answer to making your husband into the man that you want. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I am a GREAT photographer

Recently I had the great opportunity to photograph one of my friends new baby. She is so adorable. But it made me think. I don't mind taking pictures of babies. My specialty, the thing that really excites me is shooting couples and weddings. People just assume, oh you take pictures, can you take pictures of my family or my kids or my baby and the REAL reason why I always hesitate is because I feel like I suck. There are only so many hours in a day and so many less hours in a day once you have kids so my ability to really focus and get better in all aspects of photography is extremely limited. I like making a really beautiful image. It makes me excited. Whether it be at a wedding, of a couple or a new baby it really doesn't matter. Artists have this really amazing ability to convince themselves that they suck and that they cannot move forward. I'm in that place. Hard. It sucks. I'm practically paralyzed. I still have so much to learn even though I've learned a lot already. But so much to learn and that can be overwhelming. Wouldn't life be grand if I could make pictures for my one and only job? (Well, that and cute collage art). The more people who see my work, the more people who want me to take their family photos. Aaaackkkk!! Literally, it paralyzes me. I hate to say yes and in fact I try to sway people away by saying that I mostly do weddings or I'm not that great etc. But I also feel like I can't say no. I can't let people down. I can't let myself self-sabotage. Then, sometimes after booking a client I want to cry. I'm so worried of failing. So worried that a client will HATE my images and hate the experience and regret booking me. I need to surround myself with positive affirmations. I need to. I am a photographer. I am a good photographer. People like my work. I like my work. My photography is valuable. OK, like a mantra. Let's do this!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Am I Snobby?

Last week I finally got a glimpse into what other people perceive of who I am upon first look. Sophisticated and snobby. In other words: bitch. Well, I knew it. I blame it on my shyness. Sophisticated means very complex or having acquired wordly knowledge or refinement. (Source) I'm a girl. And I write a blog. I think we can all assume I am complex. Haha! All in all the definition isn't bad. Snobby on the other hand. That is a different story. I'm one of the least snobby people I know. Because I am shy, it makes me socially awkward in the sense that I don't often know how to talk to people I don't know and I don't know what to talk to them about. I would like to though. As much as I enjoy writing, I would enjoying talking. It's something I am working on. Let me say that the person who did tell me this, said it on the context of saying I was actually nothing like what one might think of me upon first meeting. So basically I'm like a present. Don't judge me by my pretty wrapping paper?? It helps me to remember not to do the same for other people that I perceive to be pretty, well put together and not exuding a real welcoming presence. They might be shy too. I find that most people are insecure or shy or worried about something or other that prevents them from being friendly. I don't want to be that person. It only promotes more of that same thing. Be friendly. SMILE at other people you walk by. Say HELLO! It's 99.99% more likely that the other person enjoys your friendliness and is not thinking anything weird or negative about you. If I ever see you and we don't know each other or we don't know each other well, please say hello and talk to me. We can all work on breaking out of our shell together. We can all spread cheer and donate a minute or less than a minute of time each day to brighten someone else's day.

Here's a really good example: Gail Simmons. I am not part of the "food" world so I can't tell you what she actually does, but she also judges on Top Chef. The first several seasons, I wasn't very fond of her. She just came off snobby and uptight and just something about her rubbed me the wrong way. Now, this was TV, so I know we are really only getting a pretty one sided view of people. But then she changed. It happened after she got married from what I can tell. I don't know if that was just a coincidence but she really changed. She now seems super welcoming and fun and friendly. So, we can change how people perceive us. I'm guessing she was always this fun and friendly gal but maybe she was acting in a certain way as a judge and really started to realize she wasn't coming off as likable so actively changed how she was was on camera etc. Or I could be totally wrong about this...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Solo Show Affair

Saturday night was the best. Though my neighborhood of Seattle is known for the night life, I am not a night lifer. I went to a show at Neumos. It was a Max Bemis solo show but I went to see Merriment and Perma. The Dupree sisters from Eisly and their other sister are so magical. I would not classify myself as a "fanatic" but I do really enjoy them. The girls' IG accounts (Sherri and Christie) are full of lovely every day adventures and I so admire their family bonds.
My older sister came on over and we walked half a mile to the venue where we then waited in line over an hour. Waiting is worth it when you know you will get a better spot. I've never been to this venue so I was excited to find out we could stand upstairs. We had the best spot in the house IMO. A little ledge that came out by itself. Like we had our own opera box. No obstructions and not far away from the stage. 
This is Christie Dupree of Merriment. 

This is Sherri Dupree Bemis and Max Bemis of perma. 
It was good. So good. Great. We heard some new music from artists we hadn't heard before and that was good too. But mostly it was fun seeing my IG friends come to life on stage.

Afterwards we ran home to stay warm. 

PS I know the pics aren't that great = iPhone and not enough light.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Consuming < Creating

One of my 2014 goals is to consume less, create more. I'm hoping my social media free weekends help to achieve that. Besides the fact that consuming these days is completely overwhelming - it's also incredibly time sucking. They should call Pinterest the time warp that leads to nowhere. Or TWTLTN. Seriously. Instagram is the hi I'm doing something amazing and I have an amazing family and friend selection. Do you? Facebook has been completely worthless to me for at least the past 1.5 years though these days I try to post an update on the daily just to remind people that I am still alive and I take pictures and blog. Everytime I want to read a blog, I will remind myself that instead I actually want to write a blog. Everytime I want to look at pictures of cool home interiors, I will say to myself 'hey, you should take some pics of your own home that you love'. I can't go on climbing the ladder of consumerism. Because, guess what, the ladder leads to nowhere. And the ladder isn't even fun. Let's be honest. Creating (or spending time with loved ones) does lead somewhere and it is fun and fulfilling. Part of this goal is to have one night a week with no tv. I didn't write this next part down but I've already been in the practice of only one hour of tv a day. It's a life sucking source and I could be saying yes to so many other things if I wasn't wrapped up in some evening drama (that will also not add any value to my life). But hey, Revenge is on, it's Sunday night and I am on day 3 of the stomach flu. I keep trying spell flu like flue. On to better days tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Loveable Walkable

Nothing beats the convenience of being able to walk everywhere. Meaning basically everything I could want is always within walking distance. When you live in the suburbs or small towns, you rely on driving heavily. Speaking from my own experience growing up in a suburb I can say that it's like you don't even realize there is a whole world out there where people don't ever have to drive. (Except on occasion of course and that's mostly to visit family and friends that live in said suburbs). Movie theatre, grocery store, drug store, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, bowling, parks, gift store, salon, the list seriously goes on. Capitol Hill has a walk score of 90%. I often wonder why it's not 100%. What else does a person need? When I'm at work in the downtown area (with a 98% walk score), I have Target, Whole Foods, and loads of everything else that I already listed above. I could get away without having a car. City living is one of the most economical living choices. Use less gas, spend less on auto related activities. Going out is not a hassle. There is so much less stress. Got a baby. No problem. Just plop him into a stroller or a baby carrier and don't mess with those annoying car seats. Places are open late. One of the great things about Seattle is that we have so many walkable neighborhoods. And the neighborhoods are not just apartments. Living in the city does not mean you have to live in a condo or an apartment. This is really not relevant but I'm a huge fan of small numbered addresses. Something about a 123 16th Ave East address is so vintage. Oh and the street numbers actually make sense.

20 Little Things About Me

I saw this going around the blog world here. It reminded me of the early days of MySpace and I thought it would be fun to do.

ONE | I always only wash and rinse one foot at a time in the shower for fear I may slip and die

TWO | Another shower tidbit. I dry completely off before stepping onto the rug. I hate when the bathroom rug is wet. 

THREE | I find bookstores to be one of the most magical places in the world even though I don't read as often as I would like. 

FOUR | I have a deep desire for my life to run like a well oiled machine. Everything always in its place, planned perfectly and that that would lead to the most stress free life. 

FIVE | Like the author, Jen Hatmaker, I often feel at odds with the different personalities in my head. Ms. Be resourceful and save the environment often collides with Ms. Get things done as quickly as possible. 

SIX | I have recently decided that I no longer will drink alcohol. And alcoholics will get a laugh at this but my reason is because though I don't consider myself an alcoholic now, I did in fact used to be one and I'd rather steer clear of that for good and be a pillar of strength for my little boy. 

SEVEN | I find people who are late to be the most irritating, careless, selfish, rude people. 

EIGHT | I'm forever grateful to Jesus, my savior. 

NINE | At 13, my sister, cousin, friend and I had decided to form a girl band and we were all going to marry a Hanson brother.  One small problem. Do the math. 

TEN | I'd be forever happy in a small apartment in the city. 

ELEVEN | Valentines Day is my favorite holiday. Who doesn't love red, pink, hearts and happy flowers?

TWELVE | Once while babysitting I spotted another sister of mine making out with a boy in our backyard in the trampoline. 

THIRTEEN | It's not that I want to lose such and such pounds but I would love to just be really fit and toned. 

FOURTEEN | I just like happy things. 

FIFTEEN | Martha Stewart makes me happy. I think I should listen to that little homemaker business woman voice inside of me. 

SIXTEEN | No one really close to me has ever died. I've lived a blessed life but I fear I live a bit in lalaland that anyone ever will. 

SEVENTEEN | My iPhone often auto corrects the word life to love. But not always. 

EIGHTEEN | I once read that all great geniuses peak during the early to mid twenties. I'm worried I'll never be a genius. 

NINETEEN | You know Sir Mix A Lot? I live right off of Broadway. But his posse was before my time. 

TWENTY | My random thought of the day (well, one of them) was what if this weirdo sitting behind me on the bus cut off a chunk of my hair. (I'm always worried someone siting behind me will do that). At that point I thought I would then chop it all off and hope it was long enough to donate to locks of love. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

God > my plans?

The truth is that I'm afraid I won't get everything that I want the way I planned it if I give it all to God. Like, I can say in my head over and over that God's plan is better and that He will provide the life that is just right for me but the rest of me just doesn't buy it. I have a lot of anxiety in my life right now. A lot if unknown and uncertainty. I really don't know how I'll ever have the picture perfect life I have in my head. It seems IMPOSSIBLE. And this is just the honest truth. So my prayer is not only that God would give me everything I want (you can laugh here) but that he would help me to let go and let God. That I would truly and deeply trust him. That I would have deep satisfaction with what I do have and with whatever he does bless my life with. I'm not kidding about my anxiety. I cannot sleep. Aside from the fact that I could be lacking in some serious vitamin supplements, my only other thought as to what it is that keeps me from getting true rest is the worry about how I will get that life that I want. How will I make enough money to have another kid?  To have a house? To put Jack and said other kid through school (private is necessary if we can't buy house in nice enough area)? To not have to work full time so that I can be there for said kids and learn to cook dinner for my family and keep the house tidy all week? I'm exhausted and I don't know where to begin. It seems impossible. Houses where I come from are freakin expensive to say the least. I wish money wasn't always the missing link. It would make it a heck of a lot more easier to not care so much about it. I wish choices were easier and I wish that God made His plan known. Some days im a lot better at being right where I am but this anxiety has been around a few weeks now. I'm tired.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Life Seasons

It was as if time stopped today. It wasn't Thursday. It was just in the moment as is.  And it felt so good. Matt was in bed all day with the stomach flu and Jack was running around same as ever with the stomach flu. How I have managed to escape said bug is beyond me but I do pray that I continue to evade it. Today was just a sweet pause. I even had time to make a cute little valentines day heart garland.
My favorite holiday of all. I'm ending the evening by watching Little People. The kids have grown. Just watching this makes me realize that when you're the kid in that transition you just don't realize the magnitude. When you move out, your life is forever changed. You don't live with you siblings. You don't live with you parents. And...your parents no longer have kids at home. I know. Real shocker. But it's interesting to relive moments with a new perspective. Seeing it with a new understanding. The Little People parents have a marriage that has deteriorated. I wonder what's next for them. It makes me really worried and sad for when Jack is finally grown and moved out. I know it has to happen and of course I will spend the next 20 years preparing Jack to be a strong man.  But. Well I don't know. It's just weird. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

One of those kind of days

It has seriously just been one of those kind of days. That you wish would just end. As swiftly as possible. At the office - all I wanted to do was come home and cry. I arrived at work when I got the first text that Jack had just thrown up. He is almost two and he has never thrown up ever. He has explosive you know what and later he throws up again. Though I am not home, he is in good spirits and running around with his nanny. Still, I can't stop thinking about him. Work is literally piling up. Crazy how on Monday you can feel like you might get a chance to catch up on stuff and then a few hours later you realize you won't be able to touch that stuff until you finish this new stuff. It is quite disheartening. Mistakes. Late deadlines. It's enough to make it just not fun at all. Period. There is no satisfaction. The office day came to an end. I wait for the bus. I wait and wait and wait. A group of teenagers arrive to wait for a bus. They are arguing loudly. And begin smoking weed. How lovely. Finally the bus arrives. There is a strange electric chemical smell and some people around me are so worried that they get off the bus. A couple stops later, the bus driver announces there are some problems and he has to pull over and wait for help. The only good thing is that he had already driven up the hill, so as I walk home in the rain at least I don't have to go up a steep hill. I quite like the rain anyhow. I don't put my hood on. The rain feels so good pouring down on me. It's real. I wondered if the kids that were fighting might pull out a gun. Once in a criminal class I took in college, I read that the group of people (which I think was like white middle class women aged 25-55 or something) that was statistically least likely to be the victim of a crime actually worry more about being a victim than other groups. I know that's me. It's also one reason I feel it's important to raise Jack in the city. I don't want him to be fearful of the unknown. Growing up in upper middle class suberbs can really kill a persons perspective. The week is more than half way over. Thank you God.