10 Things to Experience in Oregon

In my quest to travel locally this summer and continue to experience the rich opportunities our great state has to offer, I compiled this list for newbies, frequent visitors and locals alike to experience some of my favorite (and non-touristy) places that Oregon has for us all. Many people hang themselves up on the "famous places" of Portland, and while some of them are worth the trip, many more places are waiting to be discovered.

1. Get a Tamarind Whisky Sour and Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings at Pok-Pok's little sister restaurant, The Whisky Soda Lounge. 

Chef Andy Ricker, hailed in Oregon as the top chef of PDX (and even the Northwest!) boasts his flagship, cult-classic restaurant "Pok Pok" in SE Portland with long lines and hour-plus waits on any given night. However, the genius behind Whisky Soda Lounge (also his restaurant) is that it serves as the "waiting area" for diners who can order many of the same foods and drinks as Pok Pok while being seated right away. I may or may not have canceled my Pok Pok reservation when I stepped foot in WSL and haven't been back there since! Whisky Soda Lounge is located across the street from Pok Pok at 3131 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202.

2. Skip Multnomah Falls and hike to Punchbowl Falls instead. 

Avoid the crowds and wave at Multnomah Falls as you drive past on I-84, and make your way just a few more miles east for the shady Eagle Creek hike up to Punchbowl Falls. It is one of the most scenic hikes in the area, with more waterfalls than our impressive Multnomah Falls can feature. Punchbowl Falls also features a quiet and calm pool of water at the base which is perfect for cooling off in on a hot, summer day. When you search for Punchbowl Falls online, look first at the Eagle Creek Trail, which gloriously drops hikers after two miles at the Punchbowl Falls, though Punchbowl Falls is not the actual name of the hike. The Eagle Creek trailhead is located roughly 20 minutes east of Portland on I-84, just off of exit #41. Parking is ample, but it's another 1/4 mile from the exit.

3. Ditch the hefty fees of the Keller and catch a local show at Portland Center Stage instead. 

Sure, Keller Auditorium features many a touring broadway production, but the ticket prices can be steep. Portland Center Stage showcases local (and national) artists in original productions nearly year-round for a fraction of the cost and with just as good entertainment. Portland Center Stage hosts their shows at the Gerding Theatre at the Armory which is located at 128 NW Eleventh Avenue, Portland, OR 97208. Their 2014 - 2015 season begins on September 20th and runs until June the following year. Notable shows for this season: Dreamgirls (September - October), The Second City's Christmas Carol: Twist your Dickens (November - December), and Three Days of Rain (May - June).

4. DO wait in line for Salt and Straw. The locals don't lie. 

Salt and Straw, Portland's premier ice creamery, has received national press as of late in several different outlets. It's no surprise, as locals and visitors alike happily wait in hour-long lines on a regular basis, no matter the time of day. With flavors such as Coffee & Bourbon, Woodblock Chocolate with Salted Ganache and Sea Salt and Caramel, Salt and Straw keeps people coming back for more. Seriously. Salt and Straw has three locations: SE Portland, NE Portland and NW Portland. If you're staying downtown Portland, the NW Portland location will be your best bet. All locations are open from 11am - 11pm and yes, the line is worth the wait.

5. Blue Star Doughnuts over VooDoo Doughnuts.

"Good Things Come in Pink Boxes," is VooDoo Doughnuts's claim to fame. However, that may or may not be true. What VooDoo Doughnuts has going for it is its nostalgia and niche amongst doughnut connoisseurs. There aren't many places you can get a maple-bacon doughnut, a doughnut shaped like a voodoo doll, or the ever famous "you-know-what" shaped doughnut. But really, the lines are long and hot and if you're more of a doughnut fan than a quirk fan, I'd head over to Blue Star Doughnuts and select one of their fresh-from-the-oven doughnut varieties and plop down at one of their bar stools with a steaming mug of Stumptown Coffee to round out your breakfast. Blue Star Doughnuts is located just off Washington Street with easy streetcar access if you don't want to walk. It's address is 1237 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205 and it's open Monday through from at 7am and Saturday and Sunday from 8am until they run out of doughnuts!

6. Wine taste those delicious pinots.

Just under an hour away from Portland on either side of the city are some delicious wineries to sample Oregon's finest: Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. With over 400 wineries in the state of Oregon, you're sure to stumble upon one (or six) that you love, and those remaining 394 will cause you to want to return solely for the sake of those wines and views. It's not uncommon for vintners to strike up a conversation with you while you sample, boasting the pride of their crops from 2011 and relishing in the glory stories that take place during fall harvesting season. Wineries worth visiting on your first time are Domaine Drouhine, Sokol Blosser, Argyle, Winderlea and Archery Summit. You can catch the rest on your return visit!

7. Heading to the beach? Visit Gearhart instead of Seaside. 

Seaside is a touristy cacophony of visitors expecting a quaint Oregon beach town and instead being met with cramped streets and blaring neon signs with schmaltzy mini-golf stands charging three times the price of the suburbs. Jaded much? Locals never go to Seaside when they visit the beach; instead, they escape to Gearhart which is ten minutes away from Seaside and park their cars to take a stroll to the quiet shores with their dogs and kids in tow and a picnic basket from the community grocery store. If you love idyllic beach towns, Gearhart's got it all in one solid block. Gearhart is located just five miles past Seaside off of Highway 26 west, about a 90 minute drive from Portland.

8. A drive to Timberline is worth it in the winter.

Timberline Lodge is Oregon's notable mountain top resort and is iconic in the movie world serving as the backdrop for the movie, "The Shining." When it's not full of tourists in the summer, it's packed with native Oregonians in the winter because it's the perfect ski lodge to visit after a long day on the mountains. It features room types for everyone-- from the basic bunks and shared bathrooms, to the spacious suites with private facilities, there is a room to satisfy any price range should you choose to stay overnight. Even if you do visit during the summer, the views are incredible and windows with tables for dining are ample, meaning that the chances are great that you'll get to eat your meal looking out across the valley. Timberline Lodge is open year-round and is just an hour's drive outside of Portland. It is located at 27500 W Leg Rd, Timberline Lodge, OR 97028.

9. Piazza Italia for the best Italian food in the city.

You know a place is good when you can't get a table for days. Piazza Italia is just that. It's a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in Portland run by native Sicilians and Italian transplants who don't care if the Superbowl is on, thankyouverymuch, they will be watching soccer. The portions are large and the food is fresh every day. The lasagne and Pasta al Tonno is to die for. We have scoured the planet for the best Italian food so far, and Piazza Italia is it. (We've even been to Italy three times...) Piazza Italia is open for both lunch and dinner, but their kitchen closes from 3:00pm - 5:00pm. It is located at 1129 NW Johnson St, Portland, OR 97209.

10. Got Kids? Skip the waterfront and bring them to Jamison Square.

Jamison Square is an outdoor water park with a small pool and water feature that area children enjoy playing in in the summertime. Luckily for moms and dads, restaurants, ice cream and coffee shops line the park so there's something for everyone. The waterfront tends to bring in crowds of all kids, but Jamison Square is much quieter and more private than the front of the city. Jamison Square is free and there is plenty of parking nearby, including Portland Streetcar access. Jamison Square is open from 9am - 6pm Monday - Sunday, and is located at 810 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209.


If you're looking to have an authentic yet non-traditional experience of Portland, whether it's your first visit, your tenth visit, or heck, maybe you even live here but haven't visited these places before, this list is sure to help you appreciate some of the great spots to play, dine and be otherwise entertained in our fine state of Oregon.

Stitch Fix: May Edition

If you're just joining this blog and wondering "What the heck is Stitch Fix?", every month I share what's in my box in order to show you how not only awesome, but how non-scary trusting someone else to do your shopping for you can be. (Last month I received my box the day I left for outdoor school and after frantically trying on the clothes before I headed out the door in order to send them back on time, I forgot to take pictures. I kept a pair of red colored jeans except they stretched out a lot when I wore them the first time, so I sent them back. Stitch Fix has awesome customer service and a great return policy, btw!!)

Stitch Fix is a personal styling company based out of San Francisco where virtual personal stylists (yes, they're real people!) get to know you individually in order to put together five pieces and outfits for you every month. They follow your Pinterest style boards, Instagram accounts, and even check you out through LinkedIn in order to see what you need personal for work, life, going out, weekends, etc. You create thorough "style profiles," by selecting which colors, patterns, sizes, etc. best represent you and what you're looking for.

Some months, all pieces are a hit, some months, I just choose one, and a couple of times I haven't chosen anything. Stitch Fix is a free service, minus a $20 styling fee that gets credited back to you if you make a purchase. (This makes a ton of sense-- so people aren't just having clothes shipped, wearing them on the weekends, and sending them all back.)


So... what was in my box this month?

Item #1 Pomelo Downing Striped Knit Shirt




I loved that this shirt was yellow! I own nothing yellow, and it's also such a perfect, comfy, casual shirt for teaching or the weekends. Definitely "me" and I definitely kept it. 


Item #2 41 Hawthorn Hilton 3/4 Sleeve Lace Blouse






I was reaaaaaaallllyyy torn with this shirt. I mean, how beautiful is this?! I adore the cobalt blue color and it looks great with white jeans and/or black skinnies. I would definitely have worn this out on the town. However, it was $80 and knowing me, I would snag it. It is super fragile with the lace and delicate nature and I am just kind of a klutz sometimes, as graceful as I try to appear. I didn't even want to chance it, nor did I want it to just be hanging in my closet for special occasions. Better to send it back now before I have a chance to change my mind...


Item #3 Kut from the Kloth Somerville Printed Short Sleeve Top





Something that was kind of a bummer about this shipment was that the sizing was off this time. Totally not their fault, as different brands have different sizing. However, even though I LOVED this top, it was way too big and felt very boxy. I don't have a petite frame, so boxy tops make me look really big and it wasn't very flattering. Maybe next time-- I am crossing my fingers for the perfect Aztec top!


Item #4 Tart Jacobsen Striped Knit Tank



I don't know... I just felt very "meh" about this top. It was really thick but kind of tight, and I don't look that great in coral. So, I did not keep it. 


Item #5 Just Black Nolan Ankle Skinny Jeans



This is just a boring, basic iPhone pic because I couldn't even get these jeans up my legs! I think this is another example of pants ranging in fit and why I loathe jean shopping. However, the material was stretchy and awesome and I really really really want a pair of thick white jeans. Since I couldn't even get them halfway up, I opted not to keep them. ;)



Even though I ended up with just one piece from this month's shipment, that is totally fine with me! Stitch Fix is now allowing for shipments every 2 - 3 weeks which is awesome, instead of having to wait a whole month. Like I have said in previous posts, I haven't been to the mall since Christmas and rarely do I spend even close to $100 on clothes a month. That is a record for me. 

The quality of clothing items Stitch Fix sends are not only durable but the pieces are also unique and you cannot get them in stores. That's what I loved about it, so if you're interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, click this link and head on over! 

What I've gained (and lost) from taking a risk

I used to be someone who loved the comfort of a predictable and safe life. In fact, anything beyond that caused me to be fearful. From sticking with tried-and-true chicken strips and macaroni and cheese while eating out, to staying close to home in college, I felt like I needed stability through predictability, because it was something I could control.

I've learned something about myself: When I feel like I can control things, I'm more comfortable. When my routine is stable, I'm relaxed. But as much security I might feel through controlling my surroundings, a complacent life is boring to me.

I've come to discover that by taking risks, life is that much richer, that much exciting, that much more adventurous and definitely more rewarding. Because if I hid behind all of the "what ifs," and "buts" and "I'm not sure I can do this," and "it's probably too late," I wouldn't be where I am today and have what I do.

What I've gained from taking a risk:


  • My husband, because of confiding in him on a night when we were just beginning to date. It was a transforming conversation between us that ultimately bonded us together through God's redeeming love.
  • My job. I completely quit my previous field of work cold turkey to take a leap of faith down the path God has called me to, and I haven't looked back since. 
  • Traveling the world. Flying absolutely terrifies me. Unsanitary foods terrify me. Getting mugged terrifies me. But none of those fears are strong enough to hold me back from the intense bliss that wandering through a foreign country, halfway around the world, that my soul experiences. 
  • Our experience with hosting an exchange student. Would you believe that we received more, "Don't do it!"'s than we did "Go for it!"'s? We strongly considered not hosting and what a sorry mistake that would have been. Hosting an exchange student for a year has been such an enriching experience for us and has taught us so much about each other, family, and cultures around the world.
  • An unforgettable trip to Costa Rica. In the jungle. Sleeping near cockroaches and poisonous snakes. Soaring 3,000 feet in the sky on a zip line. Kayaking in shark-infested waters. Memories to last a lifetime: Enough said. 
  • A successful and growing photography business, soon to become nationally featured. {!!!} If I was told five years ago that I would be operating a strong and successful photography business on my own, I would have laughed. I always dreamt of that, but didn't have enough confidence in myself to think it would ever happen to me. But then a few years ago, I thought, "Why not?" Why can't I become a photographer and do what I love the rest of the year when I'm not teaching?" I walked through open door after open door, when the enemy tried to tell me otherwise, and took huge risks upon risks when doing so. What I've gained is experience, confidence, a niche, a solid business, new friends, partners, memories, and so much more. {and in a competitive, artsy city filled with thousands of creative geniuses, nonetheless...}
  • A home that we love. It wasn't easy for us to purchase our first home, but we didn't give up. Adversity was in our way, but we stood our ground, committed for several months until it finally happened. We adore it, we're thankful and blessed, and we know that we had a lot at stake if this risk fell through. 

What I've lost from taking a risk:

  • Money. When I quit marketing, I took a huge pay cut. Everyone knows that teaching barely pays the bills, but the intrinsic reward I gain is far greater than any paycheck I'll ever receive. So I'll probably never own a $500,000 home, a boat, or a Lexus... but I will be investing my life into something with purpose and meaning. 
  • Money. Because traveling is expensive, but oh so worth it. 
  • Money. You can't make money without spending money! I have to invest in my business and so start-up costs were heavy early on when I started my company. 
  • Money. Down payments on our home, monthly expenses, maintenance, etc. That stuff can all add up. 
  • Money. Children cost money, too. :) 

Considering the only real thing I've "lost" in taking the risks above was money, I'm reminded of the parable of the buried talents in which the three men take different approaches towards stewarding their money. Two invested their talents and gained even more, and one man buried it away because he was afraid of losing it. The master rewarded the men who were good stewards of their money, but scorned the man who hid it away and did nothing with it. Timothy and I have always had the philosophy of praying for wisdom over our finances, but also not being afraid to invest it into meaningful things-- and many of those things are risks. 

In our lives, the risks have far outweighed the rewards. In every circumstance above, I could have turned into fear or complacency or "I can't do this," or "I don't know how," and instead lost out on some incredible blessings. Instead, I chose to face some fears head-on and choose to live in faith towards the path God called us to and believe that what lied behind those doors was something bigger and greater than what we could imagine. 

Food.

I deleted a few titles before settling on the simplicity of this post. Food. 

I thought about the following:

"What I really wanted to call this post was 'Help! My head is spinning because of everything I'm doing wrong,'"

or,

"Food is not my enemy."

or,

"How to survive feeling like a failure when it comes to food."

None of them seemed to fit the entire message of this article, so I'll stick with "Food" for now. 


In the great Pinterest world of "Everything you're not doing well enough and someone is doing a lot better," I have discovered that in fact, I am eating all wrong. 

No matter what I do, I'm doing it wrong. 

Whole 30 says I'm not supposed to eat beans, alcohol, grains, potatoes or sugar.

Gluten-free says I'm not supposed to eat any wheat products. 

Vegan says I'm not supposed to eat any dairy, eggs or meat. 

Paleo says I'm supposed to eat meat and eggs. 

Dr. Oz says I'm supposed to eat all of the above and more... 

Then I see the "31 Healthiest Foods I Should be Eating Now"... and they're all on the do-not-eat lists above. 


Vegan tells me I should be drinking soy, and now supposedly there are health problems linked to soy


I seriously. can't. keep. up. 

Colon cleanses? Detox diets? Probiotics? Where do I even start?!


So, maybe you're like me. Maybe you're overwhelmed with which "eat this instead of flour" aisle to start at when shopping at Whole Foods and secretly wish that Pop-Tarts were healthy because life would be so much simpler if they were. (I mean seriously, have you seen the choices for flour substitutes that Bob's Red Mill offers? I mean, really...)

If in fact you are like me and wrestle with feeling a mix of guilt over your DiGiornio pizza you snuck in your fridge and the desire to truly make a positive choice in the nutrition of your family, I'm here to offer you a little bit of solace. 



I've decided that it's all okay. 


Did you hear that? I mean obviously I'm not a doctor, but when I look at my healthy and vibrant 90 year old grandparents who eat from their garden but also eat bologna and Franz white bread and mayonnaise, they must be doing something right. 


Therefore, I have decided the following for myself and my family:

1) Shop for organic produce whenever possible. I do believe in the "dirty dozen."

2) Shop farmer's markets whenever possible as well. We are so fortunate to have the abundance of produce that we do 6 months out of the year here in the Northwest, and in the off-season, I shop where I trust they're critically eyeing their sources at places like New Seasons and Whole Foods. That is important to me, 

3) Rotating what meat & fish I eat all week. I do buy organic free-range and grass fed beef, organic and free range eggs and chickens, and wild-caught salmon and shrimp. (Cause' have you see the cow pens in California?!)

4) If I don't know what it is, I don't eat it. I am a huge label-reader when it comes to processed foods and when there are some fake ingredients or the list is 10+ lines long, I skip it. It's not worth it. 

5) I skip the additives and preservatives whenever possible. 

6) I eat black beans, pork, chicken, cheese, milk, whole-grain bagels, flax crackers, popcorn, chips and salsa, eggs, fruits + veggies, pasta, etc. I just really refuse to be the food police to myself. 

7) I scour labels to be non-GMO. 

8) I tend to shop more at New Seasons or Whole Paycheck simply because I know they offer what I'm looking for. Organic and whole-ingredient products can be found all over the place, but in my busy life I just don't have the time to grocery-store-hop for the best prices. If I lived closer to a Fred Meyer, I probably would go there over the others. :)


Really, I'm all about two things: Natural and Whole. I don't want to be ingesting anything fake, and I would love for what I eat to be wholly occurring from nature. Because let's be real: If God designed it for our bodies, I know He knew what He was doing. 



So, go on with your bad self and indulge in that Breyer's all-natural vanilla ice cream and pulled-pork sandwich for dinner tonight and feel no shame. 

Where have I been?

I dip in and out of the blog-o-sphere from time to time because to be honest, I really didn't like my old blog layout. It didn't feel like me, and it was pretty boring. So, I didn't feel like writing. 

I am kind of a compulsive-neurotic writer in that I take joy in curling up and writing when the following things are in order:

1) I have fresh thin-tipped sharpies or a fresh black fine point pen
2) I have a crisp hardcover Moleskine or composition book
3) The setting is just right and I can rest for several minutes to think


If those things aren't in place, I don't write. 

Kind of like my old blog layout. I felt like I was writing on the back of a McDonalds wrapper with it. Sure, it got the writing job done, but it wasn't enjoyable and it was kinda weird. 


Am I alone in this type of neurotic writing-materials-control thing? 

Say it isn't so...



So now that my pages are fresh and my blog has received a face-lift, the writing can commence again. (Thank you 17thavenuedesigns!!)


As far as where I've been these past months...

1) Coaching Track (middle school-- woohoo!)

2) Attending Outdoor School 

3) Teaching (double woohoo!!)

4) Photographing + booking photographing sessions (triple woohoo!!)

5) Summer-travel planning (okay, the woohoos are permanent now...)

6) Hanging out with my awesome fam

7) Enjoying the gorgeous weather (thank you Oregon!)

8) Meal-planning and budgeting to keep up with my 2014 resolutions (winning!)

9) Dating my husband

10) Reading books and loading my Pinterest with recipes I've been cooking


I'm excited to be back now that I have more free time to write on my fresh new paper and loving the moments that make up my life on a daily basis. 



Resolution Progress

So my resolutions update. 

{sigh}

Basically that sigh is because I canceled my gym membership and basically got zero meaningful exercise except for the laps I walk around my classroom on a daily basis and the movement I get from photo shoots & weddings. I also knew track season was approaching and I wouldn't get usage from the gym at all. 

So, while my resolution number one-- to get moving each day for 20 minutes-- kinda sorta flopped the last four months, track season started today and I was moving! This resolution will be thoroughly successful at least the next couple of months. 


Resolution #2 had to do with cooking organically, as clean as can be and skipping the dining out. Our meals cost us on average $4 per person, per day. That's $12 a day for food and roughly $360 a month. SO HIGH compared to what we used to pay, but at the same time, we never eat out and 99% of that food is organic and unprocessed. To give myself the shopping and eating out fix I crave after a long work week, we shop at New Seasons because a) I love supporting locally and b) the samples there are unreal-- Costco worthy. So it's more of a shopping and relaxing-spa-like experience when we shop at New Seasons. I'm not complaining about the higher grocery bill, let's just say that. 




Also, every Sunday morning I browse Pinterest and other clean eating blogs I love to meal plan for the entire week. It's my restful ritual and planning new meals is exciting because we get to try something new. My other favorite website is Simple Green Smoothies which is where I get a lot of my green smoothie recipes for my morning breakfast. 




Resolution #3: Credit Cards

Ahhhh we had such a beautiful relationship not working together these last few months. We even paid for our entire spring break vacation in cash which was blissful and invigorating. 

But what was that? Just after we got home my business computer blew and I had not choice but to buy a new one? (With money we did not have saved up in cash...)

So, I'm happy to report that I have an awesome new 21inch iMac computer that will last me ages and will totally support my business... but sad to report I had to finance half of it. Bleh.


Otherwise, T and I have spend absolutely 0% on our credit cards this year and have been proud to stock up our travel savings account in the meantime. Just wish the computer crashing would have happened before spring break with the extra cash we had lying around and not after!


Overall, keeping up my New Year's Resolutions has been easier than I had imagined, but it has definitely been met with some temptation. I keep reminding myself... saying yes to something big down the road will mean saying no to a lot of other things right now.  
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Stitch Fix #6: I found my most favorite coat in the world

I have been looking for the perfect military jacket for a year, and of course Stitch Fix found it for me! 

Before I get to that though... have you joined Stitch Fix yet?!?

Seriously.
Just click this link, fill out your profile, take a deep breath, trust your stylist and jump in. If Stitch Fix can convert this solemn Nordstrom shopper to never shop there anymore, they can transform anyone's shopping habits. 

Literally. I haven't shopped at Nordstrom since November, and that is saying huge things for this girl right here. In fact, I haven't shopped anywhere except to redeem my free GAP rewards points last month besides my monthly Stitch Fix shipments. 

I absolutely adore that I'm building a relationship with my stylist, she's getting to know me and what I like, and she seriously sends me things true to form. 

This month I asked Laurie to send me some open front cardigans, a pair of skinny jeans, a chambray top and to pleasepleaseprettyplease try to find me a great military jacket because I have been looking for one FOR-EV-ER. 

(Between last month's fix and this one, I found a military jacket I thought I loved at Nordstrom and bought it. More on that, later.)

So, without further delay, a review of "what's in my box" AKA my personally designed shopping trip that arrived at my front door this weekend. 

Item #1: Calistoga Airy Knit Striped Cardigan





So I really, really liked this sweater. It was super soft and super silky and I could definitely pair it with some comfy leggings or skinny jeans, but it had some bigger loops in the threading and because of that stretched out already a bit when I put it on. That, and it was $118. Yowzers. 

I am extremely picky about clothes that I spend $$$ {a lot} of money, which is basically like never. {Unless they are leather boots of course, and then I have been known to splurge...}

So if this sweater were $45 I would have absolutely kept it. But to get me to pay $118 for a sweater that is soft but already a little stretched out in the arms... no bueno. I did not keep this item. :(


Item #2: Delmont Lace Detailed Chambray Shirt


I tried this on, but you guys didn't need to see me in this. I looked like an 80s poster child who needed some ripped tights and a Madnonna-esque glove on my left hand. It also crept high up my neck and reminded me of something that I might have cringed at wearing in ten years. It was a relatively good price if you like 80s clothes... but it was not for me. {Loved the buttons though!} Sooo... needless to say I did not keep this shirt. 


Item #3: Domingo Tribal Knit Tie-Waist Cardigan


 To Laurie's credit I totally did ask for tribal print and this totally looks like it would be a cute sweater... however, it did not fit me well at. all. {However, at only $38 it was quite a steal.}

I am way too short for this sweater. I was basically wearing a bathrobe, and could think of absolutely zero outfits that I own that this sweater would look good with. If it was about a foot shorter and did not have the tie, I would consider it. But, how was Laurie supposed to know? That's the beauty of having a stylist-- I tell her what I'm looking for, she finds it, we try it, it works or doesn't and then we try again. :) I definitely didn't keep this sweater. 


Item #4: Kensie's Johnny Skinny Jeans



I soooooooo wanted to keep these jeans!

They were the thickest, softest pair of jeans I have ever felt in my life. In fact, I basically knew I was going to keep them the second I tried them on. 

However, my thighs said otherwise. 

Sadly {and maybe once track season is over this will be a different season...} the fabric was too tight on my thighs and again, for a high price (these were $88) I am very very very picky. I loved the cut, the wash, the fabric-- everything. But they were pinching my thighs and it would bug me every day. All these jeans needed was a little bit of stretch and they would have been absolutely perfect. Maybe next time... :( 

Very sadly I did not keep them.

Item #5: Pomelo Hooded Anorak Cargo Jacket





I love everything about this jacket!

This is the military jacket I have been looking for forever. In fact, I promptly returned my other military jacket at Nordstrom this weekend because it wasn't as nearly as cool or as flattering as this jacket. This was my perfect jacket embodied that I have been diligently searching for over a year for. 

{Thank you Laurie!!! This is why I like you so much.}

I love the quality, the fabric, the material-- you name it. Also, it was the exact same price as the Nordstrom jacket so no harm, no foul to my bank account. 


Even though I don't keep everything in my shipment each time, that's not necessarily the point for me. The point is that I discover new brands, have a personalized shopping experience, receive high-quality items and get to try things on in the comfort of my own room without pressure from salespeople or harsh lighting and three-paneled mirrors. 

Stitch Fix is like Christmas each month and I adore it. Can't wait until the next shipment!

XO


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Stitch Fix #5: Spring is just around the corner!


I love Stitch Fix

I am sincerely obsessed now and I highly recommend you start your own subscription with them because it basically transforms shopping. 

I never go to the mall anymore because I know that I'll be getting an awesome StitchFix shipment at the beginning of each month full of high-quality, customized pieces just for me. I love that. 

Stitch Fix also comes in way under my monthly clothing budget (which is small) and I appreciate that my stylist consistently chooses pieces that are affordable and within my range of comfort money-wise. 

If you've been intrigued to try Stitch Fix but haven't made the jump yet, now is the perfect time because spring is around the corner and you know that that means: Layering it up in Oregon. If you don't like what they send you, you can just send everything back. No harm, no foul. They also have a great return policy and a 100% satisfaction guarantee which I super appreciate. Hello Nordstrom!

Item #1: Loveappella Baltimore Chevron Striped Shirt


So I told myself that if I didn't like anything else in the box, that I could at least live with this shirt. I really don't like having to pay the $20 styling fee (which is waived if you make a purchase) so I try to make sure I love whatever it is I'm getting. I really did like this shirt and it was super different for me because I don't own any pink. It also was a flattering fit as well so I said "maybe" at first. But, I did end up loving something else so I opted not to get this shirt. For $48 I felt like I could have invested in a sweater or pants or a jacket for that money instead. Status: Did not keep.

Item #2: 41Hawthorn Julia Utility Jacket



(For the record, these pics are totally unflattering to my not-pregnant-belly. How unfortunate.)

I asked my stylist this month to start searching for spring jackets and/or military jackets. She sent this jacket which was unfortunately way too big for me, but I loved the color. Not a huge fan of the cut but the color was great. Status: Did not keep. 


Item #3: TCEC Roxanna Chevron Open Knit Cardigan


I really, really, really wanted to love this one because the cut was great and I loved the pattern. However, the sleeves were way too long and went down to my fingers when hanging. I would be rolling them up, bunching them and they would become shapeless and annoying. So for the sole reason of the too-long-sleeves, I sent it back (but it was suuuuuper soft!!). Status: Did not keep. 

Item #4: Dylan and Rose Dovette Draped Detail Dress


I told my stylist that I wanted more dresses for spring in this shipment, buuuuut I felt like I was wearing a toga. Totally not my style by any stretch of the imagination. Status: Did not keep. 



Item #5: Yumi Ava Burnout Striped Detail Belted Dress






Winner winner winner! 

I adore this dress. It is so "me" in every way, and it the perfect spring wedding/teaching/date night dress. It is extremely soft and the detail is actually this metallic-y see through material that shimmers. I also reversed the belt because I like the tan accent more than the blue, and I discovered that I can wear this dress with both black and brown leggings (or no leggings at all). This is also a really good color on me, so I was really happy that I was able to end up with one item that I loved. Status: Kept.


More and more I'm thrilled that Stitch Fix is my go-to shopping service. I find that the quality of their clothing item far surpasses what Nordstrom is offering these days, and definitely higher quality than what I am used to getting at GAP. It is a bit of a risk "blind shopping," but when you develop a relationship with your stylist and communicate openly and articulately about what you like and what you need, they work really hard to listen and send you things they think you'll love. 

Check out Stitch Fix here for more information and additional reviews! Until next time...


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Resolution Progress | February 2014



It's resolution check-in time.

I am owning these resolutions big time.

(Okay, maybe two of the three...) 

But still. Owning them. 

As a recap, here were my 2014 New Year's Resolutions:

1) Plan out my meals on Saturdays, shop on Sundays and be prepared with cooked meals Monday - Friday. Of said meals, ALL ingredients need to be free of artificial ingredients. No compromises, for reals. My grocery bill may be higher, but my insides will be happier. 

2) Go to the gym after school three days a week. Get 5 minutes of cardio in every day (walk, jumping jacks, jog around the block). I really, really, really need to get moving. 

3) Not use a single credit card for 2014. Not once. Not for perks, not a store card, not for discounts, nothing. Zip. Nada. No bueno. Credit cards are very sneaky little tools that make you think you're getting a lot, but instead are life suckers when they send their bills and after 10 years of owning them, I'd rather just pay cash for everything now, thankyouverymuch. 



Resolution #1 progress: Winning. 

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love meal planning and grocery shopping now. Truly, my eating habits have been revitalized and we literally never go out to eat. Never.

We didn't even go out to eat on Valentine's Day which is basically our go-to date day each year. 

So often, even on Friday nights, I feel like, "I can actually make some pretty great stuff. Why would I want to pay $50 to eat out when I can do it myself?" Also, I adore shopping at New Seasons. It's basically like the spa. 

Something I've realized has really impacted our eating-at-home habits is the fact that I pretentiously toot my own horn at calling myself a foodie. Whether I actually am or not is another story, but one thing I know for sure is that I love food and I love natural, organic, flavorful food even more. I also love feeling like I'm having a fancy meal in the comfort of my very own home. If I am not invested in what I'm cooking, I'm going to find every excuse in the book to get take-out or go out to eat instead of eating that boring, blah meal I'm trying to cut corners with. So, I pretend like I am having a fancy sit-down meal that I would normally pay $$$ for and instead pay -$ for. 

There are a couple of venues that thrill me with my weekly meal planning: Pinterest and Pinch of Yum. I loooooove digging into my Pinboard and picking what I'm going to cook for the week. Then, I only write down the ingredients for those recipes, what Emma/Timothy/I need for breakfasts and lunches and that's it. A bad habit I used to get in was, "Well it's on sale so I totally should get it!" But then it would go bad, I'd forget about it or I'd never use it. I am super strict with sticking to my grocery list when I'm shopping unless there is an extremely good reason to veer from it. 

I was a little bit shocked with the fact that my grocery bill became wayyy higher overnight than in the past, but I also think this is because we were eating out far more frequently than we thought we were which was taking away from my grocery budget bill. I would say that, on average, Timothy, Emma and I spend $10 per person, per day on our meals. Total. Plus, they are all natural, organic, un-processed and balanced. $3.33 per meal for organic, whole and natural ain't bad. 

I am loving resolution #1 beyond measure. Why didn't I do this sooner. 



Resolution #2: Fail. 

So... I cancelled my gym membership. That's right, I'm that girl. 

(Sorry Colleen.)

But, maybe the fact that I am Sherwood Middle School's newest assistant track coach makes up for the fact that I can no longer go to the gym and instead I'm going to be working out 4 times a week after school with our kids. Maybe that buys me some points in the get-fit direction... but... I failed at the gym. I even fail at walking the dog because I basically hate the cold and lately the cold has been getting on my nerves so I don't participate with it. 

I walk around my classroom all day long and my pedometer logs like 10,000 steps a day. Doesn't that count for something?!? 



Resolution #3: Owning this bad boy.

I've used a credit card like twice since December 31st. Once when I changed purses and forgot my debit card and then paid it off right away, and once when I accidentally selected the wrong card on Amazon. And then paid it off. 

Not spending any $$$ on a credit card is amazing!!!!! So freeing. Also, I secretly hate Gap and Pottery Barn's stupidly tempting me with 40% off emails that make me question this whole resolution thing altogether because I want what they're offering. But my self-control kicks in and I realize that I have cool stuff and love my home and my wardrobe doesn't need the newest spring chambray top. {Or at least that's what I tell myself...}

I hate credit cards and I don't care how many stupid perks you offer me Visa/Mastercard/American Express because I am not cool enough to take advantage of your rewards. Stop bribing me Visa with your free airfare and your cash back bonuses and your gift certificates!!! Maybe someday I will be mature enough to manipulate all the offers and laugh all the way to the bank, but right now I am just a simplistically-minded average girl who hates credit cards and will get rid of them completely by the end of 2014. 

{And that means you, Gap and Pottery Barn!!!} 


So friends. New Years Resolutions can work and basically I am loving these intentional changes in 2014. 

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What real love looks like.




This blog has been stirring on my heart for quite some time as lately I have been taking a step back and examining my marriage and my husband. Because I am so. happy. 

Happiness is not an intent in marriage but a fruit and a gift; a joy unparalleled by anything the world can offer in and of itself. I have been happy about 5 million times in my life by various experiences, but the happiness and joy I experience when I come home from work and am enveloped for brief moments in my husband's arms is unlike anything I've ever experienced. 

The kind of peace and joy I feel when we're sitting together on the couch, hands intertwined, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. The kind of intimacy we share when we talk in the car on a drive alone together, just the two of us. This is pure joy in my life at its finest. 

This is what I dreamt about in marriage. This unadulterated type of trust and companionship that tells me that I am my beloved's and he is mine. Timothy and I have been married nearly four years and we have finally reached this point after three bumpy and humbling years together. 

Because see, we were unfair to one another in our early years. Our expectations for what marriage should look like, for what my husband and his wife should look like took precedence over being refined and shaped into who God wanted us to be in our marriage to ultimately glorify him. We had to navigate through disappointments, frustrations, pride and anger in our first years to realize the truth: Who we are together glorifies our Father God Most High. 

Timothy and I both had our ideas on who we though each other should be when we first got married and this led to a lot of heartache for many months on end. There is nothing more painful than feeling like a disappointment to your spouse, and there is nothing more detrimental than digging your heels in and putting yourself first. 

What I have learned that real love looks like is being married to a spouse who is willing to become better for you. Who is willing to put you first, who hears you and responds accordingly, who knows you and seeks to continue knowing you, who chooses you and who loves you in spite of your self. What real love looks like is commitment. Real love looks like wanting to give of yourself until you are dry and have nothing else to give; desiring to bless even when you feel empty and wanting to sacrifice your needs because you love deeply. 

Real love looks like a spouse who never gives up

Who never abandons you when you need them most, even when you might push them so far away you wonder if they'll ever return. 

Real love is someone who doesn't decide they "don't love you anymore," or "they met someone else," or "things just aren't working out."

Real love looks like a spouse who fights for you; for your marriage; for your family. 



The reason I delight so much in who we are now, after four years of marriage, is that I know that I am married to someone who will never give up on us and who will know me through all of my days. In our early days I didn't know what our marriage would be like and often doubted whether or not I had married the "right person" for me. 

My friends, never let yourself get caught in that lie. 

Delight in who God has chosen for you, and when you surrender your everything to him; your heart, your marriage, your desires, your hopes and fears, He will be faithful to you. 

We are living our real love every day together-- in big and small moments-- and I don't need an anniversary reflection or a holiday to remind me that I am the luckiest girl on the planet for having the husband that I do. My perfect mate who my love grows infinitely for every single day through forever. 









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