Nature Zen

lake2

Hello, friends.  I’m on a mini-vacation (AKA visiting my fiance who lives 2-hours from me) in the wilderness.  OK, it’s not quite the Alaskan wilderness like the Bush People experience but there are more trees and animals here than there are people.  I am not a huge fan of dirt, bugs, scary animals that want to eat me, or snakes (shudder, shudder,) but I must admit, the scenery is beautiful.

Case in point: I took a 3-mile walk around a nearby lake yesterday (on a paved path! my favorite!)  I also took a few moments to contemplate life while sitting on a pebbly beach.  I enjoyed the silence and calming sound of the water lapping around me.  My zen moment was quite peaceful and reflective.  Enjoy!

lake1

  • Quote of the Day

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

John Burroughs

Until next week, when I’m home in my normal surroundings…

xoxo, A

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Wanderlust

wanderlust

It’s no secret that I love to travel and recently, I’ve got a hankering to get-away and see new sights.  I can imagine myself in London catching a double-decker bus, lounging on a balcony near the seaside in Italy, dipping my toes into the clear blue waters of Fiji, enjoying an opera in Sydney, wandering the countryside of Ireland in my Wellies and putting some miles on Heidi (my beloved car!) on a road trip in the USA.  Although I am young, I am well traveled.   I consider myself very lucky to have visited so many countries already:  USA, Mexico, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Morocco and Gibraltar.  I’d love to add more places to my list… someday.

  • Quote of the Day

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

Dalai Lama

A girl can dream, as these trips cost a pretty penny.  While I’m still job searching and wedding planning, these pictures and memories of visits to lands near and far will have to do for now.  Where will you wander?

xoxo, A

Simple and Natural Makeup

Beauty is

I rarely wear makeup but when I do, I like the natural look. My make-up conveys messages of sophistication, happiness, and simplicity — nothing fussy.  As I type this in my bathroom near my makeup drawer, here’s the make-up that makes me look and feel pretty, without too much effort, because I like to keep things simple:

  • Quote of the Day

I believe that all women are pretty without makeup — and can be pretty powerful with the right makeup.

Bobbi Brown

There you have it.  My simple list of makeup items for the gal that wants to look nice but doesn’t want to spend hours getting ready (or spend tons of money on non-essential makeup tricks.)   Keep it simple and let your inner goddess shine!

xoxo, A

List of All Lists

List

While on the search for the ultimate happy place in life, career, relationships, etc. I created a list that contains all of my favorite things.  I keep the papers in a special  place, so when I need to remind myself of happy things, I have easy access to it.  (The list lives in my desk under my oh-so-secret 90s collaged computer mousepad!) Without further ado, here is my list of all lists:

  • Traveling.  Be it a day trip to a farmer’s market I’ve never been to or a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad session in Australia.  I love to see the world.
  • Sticking to my guns.  I know what I like, what my morals are, who I am and when to say no.  You should know these things about yourself, too.
  • Kindness.  As they say, kindness makes the world go round. (And I think they say money does, too!)
  • Puppies.  They are so adorable and cuddly and just THE absolute cutest things ever!  They also have this ability to make me speak with a baby voice, even while typing the last sentence, my brain read that in my puppy baby voice — which is odd.  But I’m sure I’m not the only one to have that effect, right?
  • The beach.  There’s nothing better than walking on the sand and having the waves crash right next to you.  There’s just something about the sound and smell of the beach that washes all worries and cares away.  Searching for sea glass is always fun, too!
  • Wine.  Duh!
  • Cheese.  Pairs nicely with the above item.  Gouda’s my favorite! 🙂
  • Exercise.  Definitely necessary after consuming both of the last two items!  My favorite is taking a long walk or bike ride in the neighborhood, along a canal tow path or really anywhere with my fiance!
  • Organization and cleanliness.  Raise your hand if you’re a neat freak!  Tidiness and lists (i.e. this one I’m typing!) make me happy.  Every item has it’s place whether it’s the umbrella in my car, the tape dispenser on my desk or my toothbrush at home… I know where everything is so things rarely get lost, which makes life that much easier!!  I’m also a germaphobe and am never without my hand sanitizer.
  • Gift giving.  Birthdays are one of my favorite as I love to get gifts for friends and family and see their excitement tearing away the gift wrap.
  • Reading.  Love me some fiction.  I can escape the stress of today and imagine a different world that I may not have otherwise known about had I not been reading that particular book.
  • London and Kate Middleton.  Obsessed.  I have been to London twice and that’s not nearly enough.  I really should have been born across the pond waving a Union Jack as I have a true love for all things British.   After Kate married Prince William, the man I was supposed to marry, I decided that we actually have a lot in common and would make excellent BFFs.  I’m still waiting for that phone call, Kate!
  • Tea.  See above item — i.e. British.  Green tea is my favorite.
  • Being appreciated and appreciative.  It’s always nice to know that someone appreciates you, and it’s nice to show others you care, too.
  • Brunch.  I could eat breakfast and brunch all day, every day.  In fact, I was very close to having brunch served at my wedding dinner, but the restaurant made me a dinner I couldn’t refuse!!  Eating breakfast for dinner is super yummy but super rebellious at the same time.  Living life on the edge, one pancake for dinner at a time!
  • Listening.  I’ve been told that I’m a great listener.  It’s probably due in part to my quiet nature and introverted personality.  I like to learn about others and this is an excellent way to do so.  It’s a great trait to utilize at networking events.
  • Fashion.  I am a huge lover of pearls, Longchamp purses, stripes, navy and white, black and white, white jeans, J. Crew,  Frye riding boots, a fitted blazer, dark wash skinny denim jeans, and wedge heels, among others.  On the flip side, you will find me living in my yoga pants, a baggy T-shirt and slippers in my downtime and I feel just as great.
  • Manicures and pedicures.  Although I recently had an awful experience at a nail salon, I’ll definitely be getting pampered again closer to my wedding!  (Just not at the same salon!)  Clean and pretty pale pink nails are my favorite.
  • Eating healthy.  Salads, fruit, nuts, whole grains — mmmmhmmm!  Eating healthy makes me feel so energized and beautiful.
  • Crafting.  Pinterest and antique stores serve as great inspiration spots for me.
  • Family and friends.  I saved this one for last as it’s the most important to me.  Spending time laughing, eating, drinking, or even in silence with my family and friends is always the best.  Watching a movie, playing a board game, bike riding, etc. with these folks is never dull and always a fun time and I enjoy every minute spent with these special people.  I’m so lucky and grateful to have them in my life.
  • Quote of the Day
The original lists were probably carved in stone and represented longer periods of time.  They contained things like “Get more clay.  Make better oven.”
David Viscott
As that Christmas jingle reminds us, “He’s making a list and checking it twice… ”  Happy list-making, y’all!
xoxo, A

Happy Spring!

Tulip field

Spring has sprung… finally!  I’ve been keeping busy applying for jobs, wedding planning, interviewing for said job and volunteering,  so today’s post will be short and sweet… literally!!! haha (I crack myself up sometimes.)   This is easy to make and a huge crowd pleaser — thank me later.  Bon appetite:

Almond Shortbread
Ingredients
nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds with skins
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a round pan/dish with nonstick spray.In a large mixing bowl, stir 1 1/2 cups of the sugar into the melted butter. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour and salt onto the batter. Add the flavoring and stir well. Pour the batter into the dish. Top with sliced almonds and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until slightly brown on top, about 35 minutes. Cool the shortbread in the dish. Serve when cool.

Recipe adapted from Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen by Trisha Yearwood (c) Clarkson Potter 2008
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/skillet-almond-shortbread-recipe.html?oc=linkback

  • Quote of the Day
Out of love I made you a cake. Also out of milk, eggs, flour, sugar, and vanilla.
Jarod Kintz
xoxo, A

Unchained Melody

music man

Dear Piano Man,

Sing us a song you’re the piano man.  Sing us a song tonight.  Well we’re all in the mood for a melody and you’ve got us feeling alright.

Sincerely,

A and friends

Music is constantly around us — in the car, on an iPod while running, on TV, or even on overhead speakers while shopping at the mall.  I can’t get enough of some songs which then get stuck in my head and I then believe (unrealistically) that I sound just like said musician when I follow along (friends and family will tell you differently.)  So here are songs that I have on repeat this moment and can’t get out-of my head:

  • Quote of the Day

Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.

Ronald Reagan

Happy listening, all!  Longer days and more sunshine are on the horizon.

xoxo, A

Saving Daylight

Spring-Forward

Yesterday was Daylight Savings Time.  I have to admit, despite the lost hour, it was nice to see the sun shine past 4 p.m. yesterday.  It’s already starting to feel like spring and I couldn’t be happier.  My walk outside was awesome — yes, there are still  snow piles on the road but the air felt warmer than usual and the sun was shining all day AND the birds were chirping!  So what am I looking forward to with the impending warm weather? (You may notice that my inner sorority gal is coming out now — sorry, not sorry!):

  • Quote of the Day

In winter, I plot and plan.  In spring, I move.

Henry Rollins

Be happy, friends.

xoxo, A