Friday, May 27, 2011

One Year Anniversary Gift Ideas: Paper

The hubs and I are in the middle of planning our one year anniversary and so I've been a busy bee researching gift ideas. We are planning to stick with the traditional give idea of paper, so it has been a challenge to find gifts that are still personal. I thought I'd share some of my favorite ideas :)

Savings Bond

This might seem unromantic at first, but I think the symbolism of waiting for a bond to mature to full value is sweet. Plus, then you could cash it in on your thirty year anniversary and do something fun with the money! 

Two 8 X 10 print's by Nicole Cohen of Sketch42

I think art is a wonderful way to get creative with a gift of paper. I've followed Nicole's blog for awhile and love her dreamy paintings. But, they are way out of my price range. So, I was so excited when she started to sell photographs of her paintings! I love the colors she uses and I think a set of two 8 X 10s hanging next to each other in crisp white frames would look phenomenal. She has a lot of different options, but these two are my favorite. I think there is something romantic and whimsical about them.  

Night Sky Print

Indigo Night has come up with such a cool idea! If you tell them the place and date, they can recreate what the night sky looked like from that location on that specific date. I think a print of the night sky from your wedding day would be such a romantic gift. 

Tickets to a Show

Neill and I don't go to shows too often, but when we do we always have such a good time. Well, except that time we went to the opera and I likened it to being tortured, but I'm willing to try it again. Tickets to dance, plays, and musicals would be a great gift because it is something we could do together. 

Personalized Anniversary Memory Album

I love the idea of having a special book to record how we celebrate each wedding anniversary and it would be so easy to design something on a site like blurb. The cover could be an engagement or weddings photos and then each page could have something like "June 12, 2060: 50th Wedding Anniversary" (how weird is it to think about the year 2060?).  Then there could be a few questions with blank space left for us to fill in the answers.

Photo Album of our Relationship

For our one year anniversary Neill and I made a photo album together and we planned to update it every year. Lovely idea right? We thought so too. But, unfortunately we never kept up with it. Sifting through all of the photos that we've taken over the years would be quite a daunting task, but the end result would be so worth it. 

Canvas Print of a Wedding Photo

Neill and I don't have any of our wedding photos hung and so it would be lovely to have one of our favorite photos printed on a canvas.

Love Art


I've got to admit, this is something that I've wanted since I created our bedroom design board back in November. I love the simplicity of this piece and the romantic message. I planned to attempt a DIY version of this piece, but let's be honest - I'm just not a DIY girl.

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Do any of these strike your fancy? What is the best anniversary present you have ever received? How did you and your hubby celebrate your one year anniversary?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Lists

Dear readers,

I apologize, but today's post is going to be all about me. I must be having a very narcissistic day.

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A while ago Joelle, one of my best blogging friends, tagged me to write about my ten favorite things. I think this list probably changes depending on what is going on in my life, but currently here are the ten things that top my list.

1. My husband

This seems pretty self-explanatory and obvious, right? But, it felt weird to make a list of my favorite things and NOT have him on it. He is my rock. My best-friend. My partner in crime. Pretty much everything is better when he is around :) 
2. A big, juicy hamburger with an egg on top


I haven't had red meat in a while and damn does a hamburger sound good. Chicago has some awesome hamburger joints, but Kuma's Corner makes an amazing burger on a pretzel bun. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

3. My sigg water bottle

I don't go anywhere without a water bottle! I was brand loyal to nalgene for probably close to ten years, but after I lost my last one I ended up buying a sigg at a Whole Foods. I like that the bottle is slimmer, but I do miss having the top be permanently attached to the bottle. Every morning I have to run around the house like a crazy person looking for the top because I hate leaving the house without a bottle of water!

4.Coffee in the morning

 After the alarm goes off I think about drinking coffee to help get me out of bed. That first cup is just bliss. I know eventually I will give up coffee and I think that just makes me enjoy it even more now.

5. My MacBook Pro

There is no getting around this one, I love love love my laptop. I use it every single day and I hate to be away from it :( It is reliable and gorgeous.

6. Pajamas

 This is kind of embarrassing, but since we'll friends I'll tell you a little secret. I only wear normal clothes if I'm leaving the house and the second I get home I change back to my comfy clothes. The idea of sitting around at home in jeans makes me shudder! In fact, right now I'm blogging in a pair of boxers and a big comfy t-shirt. How's that for a mental image?

7. Healthy Choice Fudge Bars

I love all desserts. And dessert loves me. So much so that it likes to stick around in the form of pudge. So, I'm trying to keep my distance from sweets. But, these chocolate ice-cream pops are guilt-free and completely delicious. (Tangent: last weekend I broke my diet and tried black dog gelato. It was fabulous. If you live in Chicago, definitely worth checking out!)

8. Real Housewives


My guilty television pleasure are the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. I like New York and Orange County the best, but you better believe I watched Atlanta and Beverly Hills too. Pure drama.
9. Travel

I love traveling to different places and getting to see new things. If I had a genie grant me three wishes, I think one of my wishes might be to have a wonderful world-wide journey. 

10. My Kindle

Neill just gave me a kindle a few weeks ago, but it has fast become one of my favorite things! I've read ten books on it already! I love easy it makes it to buy books and how light weight it is. I don't get to do any pleasure reading during the school year, so I've really been enjoying my fiction lately. I think the next book I'm going to read is Postmortem

What are your favorite things? 

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The other day Andrea, one of the coolest Chicago bloggers I know, was kind enough to give me the Kreativ Blogger Award. Let me just say that this was ridiculously exciting for me because it is my first blogging award! I'm no longer a blogger award virgin :) 

Thank you so much, Andrea! Here are my ten facts about myself:

1. I'm almost constantly on g-chat, but I make myself "invisible" almost half the time. I'm tricky like that. 

2. I graduated college in three years.

3. I love head bands

4. When I remember, I like to check my horoscope everyday.  (I'm an aries and my husband is a scorpio.)

5. My parents were somewhat older when they had me (my mom was 36 and I'm an only child) and I think that is why I want to have children when I'm on the younger side.

6. I'm not sure if I believe in free will. 

7. I absolutely love being a therapist. I can't wait till I'm licensed and I can have my own private practice! 

8. I have very liberal political views

9. My bookshelves in the living room are organized by color. I remember what almost every book looks like so I have no problem finding what I'm looking for.

10. I couldn't care less about sports. Like really. Don't care about them at all.

And here are the ten bloggers I'm presenting this award to:
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Whew! I've had enough with this all about me business. Please, tell me something about yourself! What are some of your favorite things?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Must Haves Swap

A few weeks ago I signed up to do a summer must haves swap on Krysten's blog, After I Do. You better believe I was all over Krysten's idea to randomly pair two people up and have them send each other gifts! Getting a surprise package in the mail filled with goodies just sounded like way too much fun to miss out on.  

I was paired with Sierra, who writes the fabulously awesome blog Ocean Dreams. I fell in love with her blog the instant I clicked over to her--she has the perfect balance of eye candy and real, thoughtful content. And, it turns out we have a few things in common! We both love the color turquoise, books, and gummy bears. So, I had a really good time picking out her gift :)

Today, we're each going to write a post about our gifts. I'm going to share what Sierra sent me and she is going to write about what I sent her.

I knew I was in for a treat when I got this fun package in the mail!

While I let the UPS man convince me to stuff everything into a too small envelope that probably arrived a crumpled mess, Sierra took the time to beautifully wrap the items. Isn't that ribbon just too cute?

And the contents did not disappoint! She sent me a blingy pair of earrings, an i-tunes gift-card, lip gloss that smells and tastes so good I'm in danger of trying to eat it on bread, a delicious candle that takes me right back to Jamaica, and the book Something Borrowed.

Didn't Sierra did such a wonderful job picking things out! Everything is just right.

Thank you so much to Krysten for organizing such a nice event and a big thank you to Sierra for sending over such thoughtful gifts! Check out Krysten's blog for more swap fun and don't forget to head on over to Ocean Dreams to see what I picked out for Sierra! 


Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Cocktails

Can I hear a big old amen for the fact that Friday is finally here? Since coming back from Jamaica, it has been full swing ahead and this week has been one long day after another. But, I don't want to ruminate about work stress or the cold weather. I'd so much rather take a little trip back to Jamaica. Honestly, whenever ever I start getting anxious or feeling overwhelmed, I just pull these images up in my mind and I'm instantly transported back to my happy place.

st. mary parish 

prospect great house

prospect great house

laughing waters in ocho rios, jamaica

laughing waters in ocho rios, jamaica

fresh coconut water at couples san souci

pool and ocean

the sunset from our balcony

time for the beach

water sports

the resort included complimentary room service. 
we ordered hamburgers and champagne. 

bob marley shot

natural spring pool

One of the best things about being married to a Jamaican is that I have an excuse to visit Jamaica again and again! 


I am more than ready to unwind with a few cocktails this weekend! On Saturday, some friends and I are going to check out a new bar that just opened up in my neigborhood--Bar Bar Black Sheep. Is that not the cutest name? I can't stop saying it! I've been drooling over the menu for a few days and I've already decided I want to order the duck tacos. I'm also in the mood to try a fun cocktail, like a French 75 (gin, champagne, lemon juice, and sugar). I've never had one, but doesn't it sound delicious and fun? 

What is your happy place? Do you have any fun plans this weekend? What is your favorite cocktail? 


psst. did you see my new blog header and button? Jess from IROCKSOWHAT hooked me up after I won a design from her from a giveaway that maegen of chesterrific hosted. I'm kind of in love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Munching On

Lately, I've been reading a book on intuitive eating by E. Tribole and E. Resch. While I'm still skeptical about their overall program, there have been a few points in the book when I felt as though they could have been writing about me.

Tribole and Resch describe a whole slew of different "eating styles," each with their own unique eating patterns and difficulties. I recognized myself in the "refuse-not unconscious eater." As they describe, a lot of the times I'm not fully aware about what I am eating, how much I am eating, or my hunger level. I often eat when I'm not hungry and lots of times I eat absentmindedly. If there is food, I eat it. And I will eat it until its gone.

According to Tribole and Resch, this is problematic (and I agree!). Instead, they advocate being mindful of hunger levels, food cravings, what it feels like to eat, and hunger level throughout the meal.

They advocate something so simple--eat when you are hungry and don't eat when you are not hungry. Unfortunately, this is incredibly difficult for me. But, I can see how being more mindful of my eating and hunger would make it easier. 

In fact, since I've been reading this book I am astonished to see just how often I eat while paying attention to something else. I eat breakfast while blogging. I eat lunch while working or while I'm in class and snacks might be in front of the tv or while I'm working/in class as well.  Lastly, at least a few nights a week I eat dinner in front of the tv or while working. In fact, just last night I realized I was eating dessert while completely engrossed in a novel. By the time I noticed what was going on I was more than half way through and I hadn't even been paying attention enough to enjoy it. 

So, instead of just absentmindedly eating all day (which often happens when I am working from home like yesterday), I challenged myself to take a picture of everything I ate. I hoped that this would not only serve as documentation of what I'm eating, but also help me be more mindful about what I eat.
So, without further adieu here is my food intake for Tuesday May 17th.

 coffee with almond milk at 7 AM

A mixture of  cheerios and some other kind of cereal at 8. Don't make fun of me, but I eat my cereal with water. I know it sounds weird, but I love it. 

I ate lunch around 12:30. I started getting hungry by 11:40 probably, but I was so engrossed with my work that I didn't want to stop. When I did eat, I had some leftover strawberry, banana, almond milk smoothie, four veggie corndogs by morning star (yummy), and about a cup of leftover cashew chicken.

Handful of cereal to much on around 3 in the afternoon. 

An apple at 4 PM

I ate dinner around 6:30. Neill had band practice so I ate alone. I made a salad with shrimp and tomatoes. I sprinkled some non-fat mozz cheese on there too. On the side, you can see my Annie's Goddess Dressing (so good).  I like to dip my fork in the dressing and then pick up my salad instead of mixing it all together. 

After dinner I wasn't really satisfied. I was full, but still felt like eating something. So, I had a yogurt that satisfied my sweet tooth. 

Late night snack around 10 PM. Nothing beats toast and butter :)

I hate one of these right after my toast. 

Taking pictures of everything I ate was certainly an interesting experience! Instead of just eating something right away, I actually found myself questioning whether or not I really wanted it and I think it kept me from eating out of boredom. For example, if I wasn't taking pictures I think I would have had a few more of those pieces of bread with butter. Not because I was hungry, but just because.

So what do you think? Do you ever eat absentmindedly? What does a normal day of eating look like for you? What do you think of my day? What has your experience with trying to change eating habits been like? 



Monday, May 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I don't have a post planned for today, but Claire (@RealNutritionCG), of A Realistic Wedding, has done a fabulous job featuring our wedding. Claire was one of the first people I met when I joined twitter and it is safe to say I have a bit of a friend crush on her. She is just so sweet and welcoming! And also - her blog rocks. I don't read many wedding blogs anymore, but I can't resist checking hers! I hope you will take a second to click over.

As some of you may have guessed, I've actually been enjoying Jamaica for the last week and a half. I scheduled my posts in advance since it didn't seem like such a bright idea to announce to the world MY HUSBAND AND I WILL BE OUT OF TOWN FOR AN EXTENDED VACATION WHICH MEANS OUR CONDO IS COMPLETELY YOURS FOR THE LOOTING COME HAVE FUN. 

And it all seemed to have go rather smoothly, except for the fact that apparently blogger went down for a day or two and a post I wrote about my insecurities got taken down. Boo! I republished the post here, but I fear your lovely comments are gone for good. I want you know I read each and every one of them through my e-mail. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and the encouragement!

I will leave you with a picture of Neill and I from the wedding (outfit sourced here).


Friday, May 13, 2011


Do you ever have one of those days when you go through everything in your closet trying to find something to wear? When nothing seems to look right? When you are critical of every single one of your flaws (real or imagined) and each outfit you try on seems to highlight something you'd rather hide?

Well, I do. And they seem to be happening a lot more frequently lately. And it sucks. I know this probably seems like a silly thing to complain about, but its so frustrating and depressing to not be able to find an outfit that I feel confident in. It makes me feel bad about myself and the way I look. And I end up feeling self-conscious for the rest of the night because I assume that everyone else is evaluating me as harshly as I evaluate myself.

So, when I emerge from the bedroom, wearing whatever outfit that I have finally decided on, all I want to hear from the hubs is a compliment. Some reassurance that I look good. That I have nothing to feel insecure about. That even though I don't see it, I am beautiful. 

But, oftentimes it feels like I'm met with radio silence. And with no immediate external validation of my appearance, my insecurities rage their ugly head and I end up feeling even worse about myself. I swear I haven't always been like this, but apparently I'm at a point right now where I'm so insecure that I need to constantly be reminded that he finds me attractive. (Gosh, that sounds obnoxious) 

The funny thing is, whenever I've talk about this with Neill he points out that often times I completely disregard any sort of compliment he does give me. While my usual rebuttal to this is to argue that he never tells me I'm pretty, in all honesty I think he is right. I'm so set on believing the worst, that when he pays me a compliment I am quick to disregard it ("He doesn't really mean it" or "He is just being nice"). Because I feel badly about myself, I ignore or downplay the positive things he says.

Which just goes to show, when I get angry at him for not giving me a compliment it is much more about my own problems than anything he is doing wrong. The truth of the matter is, if I felt good about the way I looked I wouldn't need so much reassurance from him. Compliments are always nice to hear, but my confidence shouldn't be entirely based on external sources. I want to know I look damn good.

I've always been really confident and its difficult for me to accept that I don't feel very good about myself right now. But, on the other hand, realizing that there is a problem is motivating me to change.

Has there ever been a time when you didn't feel good about yourself? What are you most insecure about? What are your strategies to deal with it?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Wedding Style

You guys were so helpful in helping me figure out what I should wear to my cousin's wedding that I wanted to show you my final look. I decided to wear the dress I really, really loved rather than the dress I thought would be most appropriate. I might not be the fanciest person there, but that's just who I am. Love me or leave me, you know?

blue silk dress 

nine west shoes 
via zappos

a big blue hair flower, somewhat similar to these small ones 
via target

a tan colored cardigan that matches the embroidery around the waist of the dress
via target

long gold necklace
via target

gold wristlet
via taret

So I went a little target happy. What can I say? I love that store. I'm really happy with how the outfit came together and I'm sooo excited for the wedding. Oh, and I took Jessica and Steph's advice and purchased a little something for under the dress. Sexy lingerie? Hell no. Neill wishes. Bike shorts! Now I won't have to worry about my legs sticking together and I can really enjoy myself. Plus, being able to lift my dress up and "flash" people is always a bonus.