Thursday, December 31, 2015

12 Months, 12 Adventures, 12 Sentences

It seems like 2015 happened in a flash and a million years. I can't believe how much has changed, but also how many adventures we have gotten the opportunity to participate in. I hope that 2016 brings as much adventure, wanderlust, and love... but maybe fewer run-on sentences.

Here is our year of adventure in 12 sentences (kinda).


We took our first wedding anniversary camping trip to the incredibly beautiful Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California (which felt like a million miles away from the hustle and bustle).


For the most romantic (and exhausting) Valentine's date/ prep for Chile, Andrew and I hiked the Bridge to Nowhere in Southern California; the hike was beautiful, hot, and included me sliding on my rump down a cliff/ falling in all the water while trying to cross.


Trekking through Patagonia in Chile was a trip we will never forget from sleeping next to glaciers, befriending penguinos, hiking through some of the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen, and surviving eating dehydrated food for too many days in a row- this was the most challenging, but rewarding adventure this year.


As one of our last hoorahs with California friends, we spent a beautiful and libatious weekend in Temecula, California wine tasting, making memories, and soaking up the last bit of California sunshine.


May 1st we popped into our overloaded car turned uHaul and made our way to our new home in Houston, but we couldn't leave the wild west without a stop to the Grand Canyon, which was beautiful beyond words for a newbie like me.


Quite possibly one of the highlights of the year was meeting the sweetest and newest of the clan with a quick trip cross country that (oops) coincided with my first day of work; the trip was phenomenal and very tear filled (in this case I wasn't the ONLY one crying).


We bought a house- WHHHHAT- and then spent the next (oh who am I kidding) rest of our lives transforming the place from a 1970s love den to our home!


To celebrate a big birthday and a big family move, we spent the beginning of August outside of Denver, Colorado for a phenomenal weekend (although the 60 degree temps were not quite the 100 degree weather we were used to).


September brought the ND (my alma mater) vs. Texas (Andrew's alma mater) football game and the baptism of the newest on the clan (possibly ND class of 2037?) at one of my favorite places in the world... oh and an Irish win!


Although this adventure was spent in Texas, it felt like a faraway place when we celebrated the wedding of good friends with a traditional Indian wedding... I still salivate when thinking about the food.


November brought a trip back to Colorado to cheers my very best friend getting married with a bachelorette brewery trip; we survived, but other than that you will hear few details from me.


December started out rough with a flu that knocked me out for a solid couple weeks, but nothing could stop us from enjoying a beautiful and love filled wedding of my very best friend and a pretty sweet tour of the capital in Madison, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

And We Are Back!

Christmas 2015, y'all, it was a doozie.

A while back ago I promised a post on Christmas cards, but a combo of some technical difficulties, late shipping, user error (whoops, me) and the fact that it is AFTER Christmas I said nah to creating more work. Here is a quick snap of our card this year while we were visiting a tiny island off the coast of Southern Chile where tens and tens and tens and a whole boat load of penguins return to mate each year. The stench was unbearable. BUT LOOK AT THOSE FLIPPING PENGUINS! Too cute. So while it was a reveal fail on the blogger front, I decided to forego the fight with my computer and settle for an iphone pic (yes, Andrew IS laying on the floor reading in the corner of the shot because we are adults?).

Anyways, penguins were not present at our 80 degree Christmas this year, but it was one to remember. There was perfect lil baby E. There were too many family members to count. There was laughter as a form of cardio. There was a puppy (ours in case anyone did NOT doubt our puppy raising skillz) eating the contents of a diaper. There were about 281038492 inches added to my waistline (or subtracted from my pants... one of the other). There was joy, and fun, and love, and so much more.

I wanted to pop in and say hey as I'm slowly trying to detox, make some New Years Resolutions, and plan the fun that is in store for 2016. I also wanted to say a big thank you to all of you who read this and share a bit of your time with me. 

I hope that you had a wonderful and joyous holiday season with those that you love and feel energized for another great year. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Letters

someone list naughty

This post was stolen brought to you by the lovely Kristen who credits Alyssa. 

Dear Christmas Tree- Sorry that you are still topless, but I have a feeling that you will continue our tradition of not having a tree topper again this year. I halfheartedly looked while I was out this weekend, but meh. You look a little silly. But you're a tree in a house for goodness sakes. Love, Shay

Dear Christmas Wish List- A few weeks ago I didn't really have anything I knew I wanted, which I'm now very sorry for. Apparently this weekend you exploded. I was walking through stores being like I want that one, I need that one, that needs to come home with me noooooow. Too little, too late. Love, Regretful Shay

Dear Homemade Caramels- You're a jerk. Do you know how much time and energy I spent on you? For nothing. One batch didn't set. One batch was too hard. My candy thermometer is done. My pans are going need to soak for days. I've cursed at you, I've sweet talked you, I've begged you- you are a jerk. Love, Angry Shay

Dear Weather- Why are you one million degrees? Christmas and 82 degrees that is not a real thing that I need to see, feel, or sweat. Can't you give us a jolly 50 degrees? Love, Hopeful Shay

Dear Dollar Store Wrapping Paper- You stink. I wasted a dollar on you. Love, Cheapo Shay

Dear 80s Christmas Station on Pandora- You're the best ever. Thank you for rocking your way through my work days recently. I appreciate you and don't know how I can repay you. Love, Musical Shay

Monday, December 21, 2015

Houston for the Holidays!

Not traveling this Christmas is a game changer. Seriously. It feels so nice to be spending some quality time at home and not worrying about when our flight gets in, what we need to pack, and how long we will be gone for. This past weekend, Andrew and I snuck in a lot of festive time together (doing our Christmas light run, making homemade caramels, celebrating at a work holiday party) and got to make some new holiday traditions for the two of us.

That being said, I'm a firm believer that the holidays can make people stir crazy and sometimes you need to get out of the house, stretch those legs, and spend some time with the whole family doing something new. We have some fun things planned to see parts of Houston while gathering with family and I wanted to share our top 3 recommendations on what to do over the holidays if you are in Houston!

We did this a couple years ago and it was a blast! Definitely nice to see how they deck the halls (they go all out) and nice to be at the zoo when it isn't the typical 100 degree Houston heat. The zoo is covered in over 2 MILLION lights, so it is safe to say that it is pretty festive. Zoo Lights is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but runs through the beginning of January. I recommend taking the MetroRail if at all possible to avoid the jam packed parking lots.

A couple years ago we did this tour multiple times in just a few days. They brew my favorite local beers and it is just a fun place to hang out. 10 bucks gets you 4 8oz pours and a take away glass. That is plenty for me to enjoy, but they also have snacks during the weekdays. Bring board games and just enjoy the easy atmosphere of the place. Bonus- on this Tuesday and Wednesday, you can get your picture taken with a certain Mr. Claus. They are open for their regular hours except for Christmas Day when they will be closed.

True story, Andrew and I are hoping to sneak in a date here this week! The museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays, but will close at 5pm on Christmas Eve and all day on Christmas. The Menil Collection is beautiful, admission is free, and Houston is very lucky to have a space like this in the city. I'm most excited to see their exhibition on Salvador Dali's Eggs on a Plate Without a Plate paired with other Surrealist paintings. Also, they have a great little cafe on campus, so come hungry! 

Are you doing anything new or tourist-y in your city this holiday season?

Friday, December 18, 2015

5 for Friday: Christmas Edition

Christmas is an a week. 7 days. Yeah. Totally not ready for that.

christmas excited dubstep you cant handle my swag

I don't know if its because I was sick for so long, had some pretty sweet celebrations happening, or just simply wasn't ready for the season, but I'm shocked Christmas is so soon! For the last 9 years, I've had to pack up my life and head back to Houston for the holiday, but this year is different. We are home now and so even though I'm late to the game, I want to really celebrate in our own space.

So my goal for the next week is to draw out all the Christmas cheer possible and really enjoy our first holiday at home. Here is my list of 5 Christmas-y things I want to fit into the next week!

1) Run Through The Lights- There are a couple gorgeous parts of town that go ALL OUT holiday decorating and I can't think of a better way to experience it than getting the blood pumping with a jolly jog. I hope that this might start out a new tradition for the two of us where we can spend some quality time together (sans the ever present eggnog).

2) Host a Christmas Eve-Eve Celebration- Now both our families are excellent hosts, but it feels fun to be able to be the ones throwing a little shindig. We have some merry plans to do a very low maintenance dinner and have something  for both sides of our family to enjoy.  I'm doing all that I can to NOT stress or over plan or try to make things Pinterest perfect and focus on the people.

3) Mail Those Holiday Cards- Whoops! I love getting these puppies from everyone else, so  the envelopes have been addressed, stamps stuck, and they are going in the mail ASAP! I can't wait to share them with you next week...

4) Finish the Tree- The tree is mostly decorated, but there is a very conspicuous missing tree topper. Last year we couldn't agree on an angel, star, or tree topper and it wasn't until we unpacked the ornaments this year that we remembered our topless tree. So I would love to pick up something to complete the ensemble (hopefully) before Christmas!

5) Spend Some Time Focusing on the Reason for the Season- I hope that we can all find a way to really spend some time thinking about and focusing on the reason for the season. Although the rest of the stuff can be exciting and a great way to connect with friends and families, Christmas is about more than that. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Yoga Rewind, Reverse, Restart

reverse cartwheel flip

All I can think of right now is during the Cha Cha Slide during the chunk that says 'reverse, reverse' while he is doing his rewind flips. Also, I have to wonder if that is a Four Loko he is drinking... that might explain some lingering questions I have about the video's production. But mostly I shout KUDOS- you go Four Loko, flip man. You do you.

Anyways, this is not about backwards summer saults, obligatory wedding dance songs, or heart-stopping adult beverages. This is about a big, fat fail. A big, fat fail that I feel legitimately no guilt over.

Remember the December Yoga Challenge that my best friend and I were attempting (still the best gif ever)? Well a big, ole ugly flu got in the way of 100% success on that front. I really tried, folks. I did a quick practice on days where I flew out for a business meeting and then flew home that night. I made some mat time on days where reality TV was screaming my name. We managed to sneak in a practice (that went comically wrong, but it counts) on the morning of her wedding. But the flu was NOT having it.

And what the flu wants, the flu gets.

The good news with these self imposed challenges is that I can just restart whenever I want. Now that I am on my feet more and trying to get back in the swing of things for exercise, December 15th is as good as date as any to restart the challenge. I am certainly not ready for any inversions yet, but last night (by the time you read this) I cozied up with a Christmas Tree Candle and got the blood pumping with a self created practice that felt so good.

I also am going to give myself some leeway when it comes to what yoga practice I am doing. Originally I thought I would spend a month creating my own flows, but sometimes I just need more accountability than that. In the process, however, I did find some great references on building your own flow like this one. So when the month started last time, I tired the 30 day challenge with Do You Yoga's Erin. It was a great way to turn it on and go, but I think I am looking for a little more challenge that what level she was teaching to (other than the ab days... those were hard). This time I want to incorporate my own flows, in person classes, and recorded flows depending on my mood.

So with that, I say namaste.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Out of the Fog

When we were kids, my sisters and I were fairly sure that we would make it to the Olympics in the trampoline competition. Now I couldn't land a flip on my feet, but my specialty was "butt sits," (basically sit, jump, sit, jump, and so on) where one time I tried to get people to believe I had done 1000 in a row. That is another thing about me as a kid- you shouldn't have played games with me. I don't think I played a single non-cheating game of marco polo as a kid in my life. 

But back to the trampoline Olympics, it was all going well until we realized that the Olympics were not for choreographed dance and lip sync routines. HOLD BACK YOUR SHOCK, I KNOW! The mere mention of a contest that was NOT adjudicated it terms of costumes and lip sync coordination being in the world's most competitive event is disappointing. That disappointment ended our Olympic hopes. You see for us the trampoline was basically a cabaret stage for lip syncing and choreographed dancing magic.

Our favorite song?

I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone by Johnny Nash

Because the 1970s remixed for the Cool Runnings movie SCREAMS a song that should be trampoline danced too by 8 year olds. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. To this day, it may be the greatest disappointment of my life that I was not able to bring this artistic masterpiece of expression to the world's stage.

(Moment of silence)

Anyways, all that is to say, I think I made it through the fog of illness. The pile of tissues on the bed side table is much less Everest-like, the fever is gone, and I even wore pants with a zipper and button one time this weekend. I'm close to being a human again.

I do think (okay, well maybe my parents force fed me this idea until I believed it) that I got sick from going 1000 miles an hour for too long. From work to play to blogging to travelling and the thousand things in between (other than laundry- lets face it, that will never get done), I just couldn't keep up to my internal expectations and was literally making me sick. Albeit humbling to get a taste of your own 'you can't do it all' advice, I had to take a hearty helping of that medicine (and tamiflu). I think the part that stung the most was it didn't even feel like I was coming close to doing it all! It felt like I was failing at everything because I was spread too thin. So now is the time where I am going to try to slow down for a while. Instead of the camping trip we had scheduled this weekend, I stayed at home and watched hours of Downton Abbey on my computer. And it was great. I definitely got some time to think about what areas I can pull back in and maybe how I can lean in a bit more to the things that are important to me and that make me 'me'. 

So hopefully you will see a lot more of those passions around here, a little less chaos, and no more stories of sick days. In the meantime, I leave you with this message forwarded to me from my ridiculous husband from no other than 'All I Do Is Win's' DJ Khaled....

"Put some money in your savings account... buy your momma a house. Buy your whole family a house"


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Just Flu Things

The past couple days haven't been pretty, folks. I've taken a lot of double chin, grimace face, cross eyed photos to text to any unsuspecting soul who dared ask how I was doing. I even told my mom I was pretending to be dead.

The flu.

It came, it conquered, and I'm just now starting to see that there will be daylight sometime in the future. As a mid (ugh who am I kidding) late 20s adult, I can now scratch have the flu off the bucket list of the no-good-terrible-very-bad- things I don't want to have again in my life.

I even tried to convince myself that I was going to be able to go to work after my doctors appointment. HA. No. Definitely not advisable when you are told you have a102 degree temperature and the flu and work in a medical environment. Comical, but not at all.

So I've spent the past few days focusing on rest, relaxation, and ginger ale. Sorry to have missed the regularly scheduled programming, but I'll be back shortly! Thanks for the patience.

No I'm off to go sanitize everything I have touched...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I'm Just Going To Leave This Here

As I type this 30,000 feet in the air, I’m decently certain that the bags under my eyes are larger than my carry-one. Screw that- larger than the plane. We are late night flying back home after a whirlwind wedding weekend of my very best friend.

Whoops- full disclosure! I forgot to hit publish on this post (too tired), so you're getting it a day late, but for reference I am still really tired. :

There was a lot of love, lots of tears, and so much joy that warmed the Midwest to be... not too unbearably cold through the past four days of wedding mania. Through everything, the newlyweds were the epitome of calm under fire and everyone had a blast. There were some funny moments (a random dog bounding down a hill mid photography session much to the newlyweds surprise, yoga practice gone wrong in the bridal room splashing McDonald’s coffee all over the place, and a dance floor fraternity being formed), there were some sweet moments (getting one last girl date in before the big day, watching the two of them say their vows, and hearing the friends and family rave about how perfect the duo is), and there were a couple tearful moments thrown in there as well. I’m emotionally and physically exhausted at the beginning of the work week, but so grateful for all the life jammed into the last few days.

As excited as I was for L, I was also a little nervous for her. I wanted everything to go smoothly and have her be calm and relaxed through the entire proceedings. I had nothing to be worried about... She was the calm one, while I was sleep deprived. 

 You see the day after I flew in, L and I both somehow managed to wake up at 4am. I had slept far too few hours the day before to catch an early flight and she hadn’t been sleeping well for a couple of days, so the fact that we were both awake on the eve of the eve of the wedding was ludicrous. And yet, it was so fun. We stayed up and chatted for an hour and a half in the pitch dark about nonsense, serious stuff, and everything in between. We cackled and yawned and practically begged our bodies to go back to sleep, but at the same time in my head I was wanting nothing to make it stop. L getting married doesn’t change our relationships, but this felt like the last of the slumber parties we have had the past 10 years. It felt like all the nights where I would race to bed first (so I could watch the history channel) and all the battles we had over the thermostat. Although four nights of little sleep doesn’t make me the most sane person on the planet, snorting with laughter over the years gone past made it the perfect start to see a bit into the future.

Andrew and I fit in a quick lunch date and I think he said it best when describing the wedding as just the start to a bond that we all knew was right from a long time ago. I have been saying since she was engaged, “hurry up, marriage is a ball” and now I can sit back and enjoy the two of them step into this next adventure. An adventure that didn’t start when the rings were exchanged, but has been blossoming for years. An adventure that no one knows where it will take the two of them or how they will be tested. An adventure that I cannot wait to witness.

I’m never very good with change and I’ve always been incredibly protective over L (open interrogations of previous beaus were more normal and scarring than I should admit), so I went into the weekend a tad nervous about my overactive tear ducks. I definitely shed a tear (or an ice bucket challenge of them), but seeing the smiles plastered to their faces brought so much joy. So as I type dehydrated from tears, 30,000 feet in the sky, with a to do list a mile long looming for the week, I couldn’t be happier than to have witnessed their special day.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Cards Part 1

Sometimes I laugh at my own antics. Full on chuckle when I realize that the crazy lady is actually me. This happened recently. The spark notes are: Christmas cards, couch, and Cal- but of course I'm going to share the full details in good time.

I will set up the story with my love affair to Christmas cards. Last year, I arm wrestled Andrew into agreeing to send Christmas cards. Now it does feels pretty silly to mail out a photo of just the two of us, but wedding photos make you want to do weird things. So we sent out Christmas cards that I thought were beautiful!
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They were postcards (cheaper) with a little message on the back and I rounded the corners to make them feel a little extra special. Admittedly, it still felt a little weird to send them out, but I love Christmas cards so much that I threw reason to the wind.

This year I wanted to do something similar, but it was no longer just the two of us. WE HAVE A DOG! Ok, I guess it is still kinda weird to send a picture of 2 grown adults and a weiner dog, but whatever. A nice postcard with us and Cal in our new house where we could share the adventures of this past year  would be sufficient for my Christmas card adoration.So I went on the hunt for a postcard that was a bit modern and understated on the world wide web of Christmas cards. There were a ton of options that I loved, but not many postcards. I guess people aren't as cheap/ don't mind buying real stamps. Alas, still I pressed on and found what I thought would be great paired with a photo of the three of us nestled on an armchair in our living room. Time was running short for the Cyber Monday deals (literally the only thing we bought on either Cyber Monday or Black Friday), so instead of waiting for someone to be able to pop in and take a photo, I got the great idea of self timer. At 6pm on probably the busiest Christmas card day of the year. Nothing like living on the edge.

My photography skills ALREADY need some work, so why I thought a self timer with the two of us and a darn dog would work is beyond my understanding. However, it led to some funny images. 

Which you will need to hold your breath for until part 2...

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Guilty TV Pleasures

Recently I went home sick from work. I dragged my butt home (walk to the metro, ride on the metro, then walk from the metro to home) and about fell face forward into my house. I was exhausted. Opening the can to heat up chicken noodle soup was a challenge. All I wanted was to rest.


But then I turned on the TV. Just for an episode, I said. I need time to eat this soup anyways, I said. Well I need to know what will happen at the end of the cliffhanger, I said. I  have to watch another one, I pleading to myself. Now all I am calling myself is a liar and a trash tv addict.

I don't know why I have this horrible habit. I will fry my brain watching idiotic television and then (like recently) look up and see that hours have passed. HOURS. Instead of going cold turkey (actually anything other than eating turkey) I decided that I should share these guilty pleasures with you. Looking for new crap TV? Look no further...

The Housewives Franchise
Man, I love these crazies. From coast to coast, from staged encounters to inibriated confessionals, I love it all. Last night was the premiere of Real House Wives of Beverly Hills and the new tag lines are too much for my housewife loving heart to handle. My favorites are Orange County, Beverly Hills, and New York- but I will/do/have to watch them all.

West Wing
Be still my beating heart. Netflix brought this glory into my life and I will never be the same. I literally will watch the series from start to finish and then restart it automatically. I still get nervous when Zoe gets kidnapped and my favorite couple of all time is Josh and Donna.

Amazing Race
True story, one of the things on Andrew and I's bucket list is to audition for this show. The advenure, the challenges, the travel. I want to do it all. Every episode we talk through if we would be good at the challenge and our strategy. Uber nerds. 

The Biggest Loser
I'm talking about the show- not me. I find the show fascinating. Part of it makes me angry that I really wonder how healthy the competition is, but most of me is oddly fascinated. Warning however- this show like Hoarders, makes me feel like I am one hamburger and trip to Goodwill away from being a contestant on the show...

Sister Wives
Yeah I shouldn't admit this one. I did cleverly hide it near the end of the list, however. HOW DOES THIS WORK? HOW CAN 4 WOMEN SHARE A HUSBAND? AND WHY?!? It is like watching paint dry while the house catches on fire. Most of the episodes are pretty darn boring, but then you're reminded of what they are doing and you have no idea what is going on. Alas, they are happy and I am happy watching the show.

I am a couple episodes behind due to some travel, but I'm digging this new ABC show. The characters are engaging, more representative than most TV (not perfect, but we are working on that), and has a lot of twists and turns.

Okay enough of my pathetic TV problem habit, what are some of your favorite show?