32 (Belated) Birthday Reflections

I had full intentions of getting this post up on my birthday, 11 days ago – but I embraced our desert vacay and shut off from all personal and professional work (at least 95% of it!).

And it felt so good.

One resounding reflection I had during my birthday week and over our Palm Springs vacay was just how necessary a trip like that is, for everyone – and just how good for the soul it is. And as much as I’ve always tried to do more that is good for the soul, it wasn’t until I was sitting poolside without a care in the world that I realized this was the ultimate good for the soul moment.

This past year I feel like I’ve made leaps and bounds in prioritizing my anxiety, mental and physical health – and I’ve noticed the resounding change in just feeling better. Although trust me, there are still plenty of weak and challenging moments – I know my anxiety is always looming in the shadows. Perfect example, on our travel home from our super relaxing and perfect trip – we had a layover, the airport was packed with people and I was instantly overcome with chest pain and anxiety which stayed with me for the rest of our travel and even into the next day being home. The switch flipped from vacay back to reality and my anxiety was right there to welcome me home.

But as I reflect on all those good moments from the vacay week, I just felt so content on my birthday and looking ahead. I want to continue riding the 2022 wave, do things we want to do, not be afraid, and start living life again – and continue to choose and prioritize those good for the soul moments. I also want to not be afraid to share my voice, opinions, grow confidence in myself, the decisions I make – and honestly stop caring so much what other people think (it’s really hard!). I hope 32 brings on lots of hosting in our new kitchen, slow moments and soaking life in. ☀️🌴🍹

To be able to spend a week in paradise with B, my person, was simply incredible. I felt beyond blessed, grateful and was so spoiled all week and had the best time taking a break from life, kitchen renovations, and the last 2-years.

Book the trip, rent the mustang, and order another cocktail. Here’s to 32! 💜🎉

My 2022 Goals

I’ll have to admit, the start of the new year did not have me excited. There was nothing ‘new’ to look forward to, and I was feeling less than motivated about making goals for the new year. My IG caption for NYE was; “Hey 2022, we have no expectations for you!” – and that has been widely true after the last two letdowns, I feel like it’s the safe bet. Not to mention, we got hit with the Rona the first week of January, soooo our month has been widely focused on that and taking care of our health.

In my 2021 recap, which was also a bit delayed, I reflected on a lot of the positives that did come with the year, which honestly can be summed up in my goal successes from this past year.

Goal Successes: I paid off my student loans and way ahead of schedule might I add (like 10-months ahead of schedule), which was such a great accomplishment and huge relief. I continued to invest in myself and started therapy, went to a lot of doctor’s appointments to figure out what was wrong with me, which resulted in a completely changed my diet/lifestyle, and eating better food.

Typically, I liked to share in detail my goals for the year – but I’m not going to do that this year. Instead, I’m going to still write them down in my notebook and work on conquering them this new year. It’s a lot of the same honestly, with a few more specific ones but I’ll continue putting my mental and physical health first (through food, exercise, self-care, making me a priority), take trips for B and me, save more money, continue to work on my anxiety and build boundaries.

I will say, I do firmly believe in making goals, setting intentions, and making priorities for yourself. They help you adjust and prioritize, reel yourself in, or push yourself more. I actually already accomplished one of my 2022 goals… so I’m hoping that will be a bit more liberating and help me continue to do more things that I want to do with B.

Here is too minimal expectations, letting our hair down, and having some fun this year!

Bee’s 2021 Recap

Bear with me, I was really hoping to get this up pre-2022, but alas, I had a lot of mixed feelings about 2021 when it came to writing this recap and a lot of mixed feelings with the new year coming. So I think I’ll keep it short and sweet.

2021 was sort of worse than 2020. Does anyone else agree? 2021 started off with a lot of loss. Most of it was expected, but there was one that wasn’t and it hit and hurt hard and still does. 2021 also brought on loss, not so much in the physical sense but relationship sense too – it’s hard to describe, but losing family can be one of a relationship even though they’re still physically on this earth. But there is also some healing in coming up with that resolution… as I said, 2021 brings on some dark feelings. Scroll for some positive.

As I was pushing myself this past week to not focus on the negative of 2021 – I did realize that there were definitely a few achievements and highlights even if they felt few and far between. My biggest I think was my gut health journey and lifestyle change for the better. Kicking off nearly 25-30lbs off of my body and completely changing my knowledge, learning about my body, seeing what works and what truly doesn’t work for my body from a food perspective has been life-changing – especially when I break away from it.

Other highlights included; celebrating miracle Mav, learning and connecting more with good friends and family, getting over grudges, learning to trust a bit better, getting on an airplane yet again in the midst of a pandemic, actually starting our kitchen renovation, not being afraid to use my voice in the moment and in tougher situations, creating boundaries and saying no.

So 2022, I’m trying not to have any expectations for you – not even finishing out kitchen, because the last few years bring on false hope and I’m honestly over it. So whatever you got 2022, let’s go.

Merry Christmas – 2021

Merry Christmas! B and I were really hoping to have a brand new kitchen for Christmas, but apparently, the Grinch is in charge of cabinet lead times.

But next Christmas we’re going to have a killer new space that I’ll be sure to bake too many cookies in, drink too much champagne in, deck the halls with, and even host a few get-togethers and dare I say get our annual Christmas party back in the books!? Oh, what joy that will bring!

I hope that your holiday is filled with the true meaning of Christmas, new memories, sweet treats, lots of love, health, and happiness. I hope the family drama can be ignored for at least one day, maybe two… and that we can just be thankful to be together. ♥️

Merry Christmas with love from B, Moz & me!

Kitchen Reno – An Update

My last kitchen reno update was from August with demo officially underway. Fast-forwarded to mid-September we confirmed our ‘contractor’ and got work started, as we finally got city permit approval – which was honestly such a pain in the butt and took way longer than anticipated. So to give an abbreviated update on a big project that has lasted over the last 3-4 months, I’m going to touch on a few of the roadblocks – but spare the gory deets – cause we are in such a better place.

OK, let’s get into it. One of the biggest outcomes of the permit process was the need to actually add and build a new foundation for the 2ft by 8ft area we were expanding as opposed to doing a cantilever. This added to the timeline and budget, but in the end, honestly a better solution. So this first part of the process was SLOW, waiting for the brick, cement, and all the layers to dry and settle.

Cabinet Drama & Delays. Another roadblock that we didn’t anticipate was our kitchen cabinets. We were confident and told that we would be able to get those measured and ordered (before our footprint was complete). WELL, that wasn’t the case. The original cabinet company we decided to go with seemed to have a lot of upfront misinformation and we had to wait over a month before we were even close to being able to order cabinets (aka half our timeline) – as they requested to have drywall up before measuring and working on any layouts. Needless to say, the deadline of making Thanksgiving… or even Christmas was shot especially as lead times increased on top of that. Long story short, we ended up finding another (local) cabinet company who worked with us a million times better, had great communication, great solutions for our space, and a fair price compared to the original company (and the cabinets have been ordered!)

Contractor* Be Gone. At the beginning of November, we kindly said thanks for all your work to our ‘contractors’ and took over the rest from there. We quickly realized as more of the aesthetic work was being done that the attention to detail was missing severely and B and I are way too picky, spending a ton of money and have a vision and like things the way we like them. *grins* We ended up having to finish cleaning up the mudding, all the painting, flooring, finishing electric fixtures, adding all the trim work, and will end up doing the backsplash once we have cabinets and counters in place. This was a little extra sticky because it was a family friend who we went with, and have worked with before – but it just wasn’t going to work out for the full project like we’d hoped.

*I’m using the word “contractor” because it’s the easiest way to say our family friends who were doing the work for us.

REAL TALK: Dealing with the workers day in and day out, and living in the construction was EXHAUSTING. It NEVER ended – this heightened once the workers were actually in the house. And B and I were not in a good space as a team – we were stressed, arguing, upset, and frustrated with the work, progress, communication, lack of communication, games, and everything else in between and we were just over it. The unfortunate best thing for us was to get as much done from them, give a firm cut-off date and cut ties for our sanity. The sanity still took a bit to get back to… but I think we are finally in a better place (until we have to install the backsplash I am sure). 🙃

Now What? Basically, we are in the ‘wait for cabinets’ stage – which we’re hoping come sometime in January?! We have a big open room just waiting for it to truly become a kitchen. We are also waiting for our stove to be delivered again, so hopefully no more delays from that end. We were able to finish the floor install over Thanksgiving with a huge help to my parents – and again, thank goodness, because the attention to detail my dad has doesn’t even compare to our ‘workers’ and I know B and I would’ve been pissed… but I’m digressing!

We cannot wait to host in our kitchen, I honestly just cannot wait to have a sink on the main floor… and for my dining room and rest of the house to get back in order with everything misplaced. So, until then, we wait!

Celebrating Four Years Married.

Today is our four year wedding anniversary! As if year three wasn’t weird enough – we had another year literally together practically every day working from home together. Since we conquered working from home together, we decided to try something else that was challenging, like conquer a major home renovation and make healthly lifestyle changes.

This year we grew a lot and went through a major health journey together – although it was primarily for me, B was an integral part in the success of my gut health journey and both of us getting back on track and into a healthier lifestyle. I don’t think I would’ve been as nearly as successful with it all, without him. He carried our team from grocery shopping to meal prep all the way to cooking. On top of the initial journey, we’ve been holding each other accountable ever since.

We also decided to take on a major home renovation that has definitely tested us. Dealing with contractors, having gigantic holes in your house, not having a kitchen for 6+ months, on top of spending a lot of money. We had our fair share of arguments, disagreements and also kismet moments. Our kitchen for the record, still is not finished – but hopefully we’re on the home stretch and just in the waiting game for cabinets, I think the contractors, headaches and major stresses are luckily behind us. What I cannot wait for is all the new memories that we are going to create in the new kitchen, all the parties were going to host and all the little moments we’ll have together there too.

Year Four – The Year of Seflies

I can’t believe we’re kicking off year five married together. Each year we continue to conquer new adventures, take on new challenges and grow together as a team. We are never short of having lots of big plans, from house projects, to more firsts and many, many more travel plans.

Our Favorite Gut Healthy Summer Dinner

OK – I’ll have to admit one of the reasons we’ve been able to be so successful with our gut healthy journey and change of lifestyle is there have been some amazingly delicious and super easy recipes – like our go-to grass-fed burgers (or bison) with an easy coleslaw, fermented pickles and avocado. Yum!

INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS

Once you’ve had this, there will be no surprise why it’s quickly become one of our favorites. There is one ‘weird’ ingredient that you may not be used to eating or cooking with is fennel. We have never had fennel prior to our gut health journey — but there are a handful of recipes that’ve called for it like this one. And it does have a distinct taste, but it tastes good! Fennel is oddly shaped and a member of the carrot family, but it is not considered a root vegetable. A few other ‘gut healthy’ pointers when buying some of your ingredients:

Yogurt – Make sure to get greek yogurt that has live cultures with at least 1 million CFUs (colony-forming units). Also, when possible look for pasture-raised cows so that you don’t have any extra hidden evils in there.

Meat – It’s crucial to purchase and eat grass-fed beef or bison, this ensures you’re not eating any additional antibiotics and getting the freshest and safest meat. We are always stocked on grass-fed beef thanks to Meatboxlocal.

Ingredients:
– (4) carrots, peeled and shredded
– (1) fennel bulb, shredded
– 3-cups of sliced red cabbage
– Juice from one whole lemon,
– 1 teaspoon of celery seed
– 1-cup of 2% plain greek yogurt
– For Serving: avocado, fermented pickles, grass-fed beef or bison burgers.

Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. Wash and prep your carrots, shred them with a cheese grater into a bowl — add your red cabbage.
2. Next, prep your fennel – wash and cut the greens off. Then shred overtop your carrots and cabbage. Next up shred half of your lemon peel and pour lemon juice over top.
3. Top with your 1-cup of greek yogurt and teaspoon of fennel seeds. Mix well, refrigerate until ready to serve!
4. Serving size is 1-cup of coleslaw, use as your base and stack burger, quarter avocado and a few pickle slices for your final meal!

Serving Size: (1 burger, 1 cup of slaw, quarter of an avocado, 3 sliced pickles) 284 calories, 31g protein, 24g carbohydrates, 9g total fat,

And that is really it! I promise you it’ll be a go-to and it’s so easy to pull together. The coleslaw recipe would be great on it’s own as a side and a healthy alternative to bring to your next backyard bbq or family gathering. We make this at least once a week and love every bit of it – you don’t even miss the burger buns because the flavor between the coleslaw, avocado and pickles paired with the burger is just soooo good!

Fourth Wedding Anniversary Gift Guide

Ok, I have to admit the four year wedding anniversary gift is kinda weird and kinda of boring. Up until year four, the gifts have been fun and make you think outside of the box – but fruit or flowers? Yes, fruit or flowers is the traditional wedding gift for year four, which traditionally, is what B and I like to stick too. But ironically, the modern gift for year four is appliances. Ironic, because we’re in the process of a kitchen remodel and the only thing we’ve actually done is order our appliances, which are an upgrade and major splurge.

“Your relationship has fully bloomed by your fourth anniversary, making flowers or ripe fruit an appropriate gift.”

“A more practical gift, sure, but electrical appliances also embody how settled you feel in your relationship by the fourth year.”

The Knot
Photo Credit: Marina Claire Photography

TRADITIONAL: FRUIT OR FLOWERS

Fruit and Flowers just seem like every day normal things to me – which in my opinion make this ‘theme’ a little less-special, especially when celebrating something so special as a marriage and your commitment. I also do research when I’m putting this together to provide unique gifts and ideas for my readers, because otherwise what’s the point?! So here are some twists/turns on this oddly normal gift theme.

Lemon Tree. A fruit tree can be a clever way to give the gift of fruit (and flowers) without letting it be eaten up or temporary. A lemon tree can grow and produce lemons year after year — of course some research may need to be done based on your climate, and/or keeping this inside. But I personally, would love a lemon tree!

Hydrangea Bush. In the same vein, this is something that you can plant together AND it will come back each year as a perfect reminder of your marriage – and each year it’ll grow bigger and stronger just like your relationship does. Of course, any sort of flower bush or plant would be a great gift, so finding something that fits into your climate and landscape will definitely be the best bet and may require a bit of research!

Flower Inspired Jewelry. If you’re not really a plant person – get something that never dies! These birth month flower gold necklaces are simple, delicate and meaningful. Or this option is a little more bold and trendy (B, if you’re reading this, winky winky on this second link!). You could even get the flower of the month you were married to make it a little more special and tie it into your anniversary more! There are so many options to choose from on Etsy, plus then you’re also supporting a local business.

MODERN: APPLIANCES

I definitely don’t recommend surprisingly your spouse with a brand new expensive fridge, unless you’ve already consulted each other on the purchase. Otherwise my beef with appliances as a gift is, it feels sort of boring and generic and bad-Christmas gifty — unless that is your thing! But that’s why I dug deep for a few more price-friendly and unique “appliances” if you’re shopping for a modern fourth wedding anniversary gift. The key for thinking of a more personalized appliance, is what’re things you enjoy doing together? Here is some inspiration from B and I.

Adult-Level Toaster. First of all, if you don’t have a four slice toaster, get one! Also four sliced toaster for your four year anniversary… dare I say, genius? Now, upgrade to a nice looking toaster that has style and function. B and I always like making breakfast together – so this makes sense and is something we’ll both enjoy using. Also, if you ever host you’ll be able to toast four slices, instead of two.

Gourmet Coffee at Home. B and I love to drink coffee, we also love getting coffee. You too? Bring the barista to your home! Even if it’s just getting a single serve espresso maker – this can instantly up your at home coffee game, especially if it’s something you both enjoy together!

A Glammed Up Air Fryer. We haven’t jumped on the air fryer train, but Drew Barrymore’s Beautiful line, exclusive to Wal-Mart (ugh!) is SUPER cute and kinda of makes me want an air fryer. The color options are so fun and you can get a few other matching pieces or appliances that all match and will make your kitchen looking high-end but at a much nicer price tag!

Shop Links: Black Air Fryer | Teal Four Slot Toaster | White Nespresso Maker

Here’s hoping that the appliances we ordered in June actually get here and that we can make this kitchen renovation a reality this year! So, backorder pending – we have our four year anniversary gifts already picked out, but I know we will find another way and something small to celebrate and spoil each other come November.

Celebrating a different anniversary milestone? Read my Two Year Gift Guide & Three Year Gift Guide.

Weekend Recap – A Perfect Weekend Away

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a weekend highlight. One, because last year it felt like a cardinal sin if you had an ounce of fun or socialized with anyone — and this year, is just an awkward light-switch back to normal, so you better be prepared to live life like last year never happened! Sorry, not quite there – and have been taking baby paired with big steps into trying to get back to live pre-19.

But we had the most perfect weekend away, so I just had to share a few highlights from our time away.

Our annual STBC trip. A trip to the cabin means an automatic trip to our favorite spot, Southern Tier Brewing Co. We first went to STBC in 2013, and have made it back almost every year since as it’s our annual tradition. We usually make it there in the fall so that we can enjoy their fall seasonal beers, but we got there a little earlier this year! Luckily they had their fall beers on tap – so I was able to have my fave Warlock. The forecast for the weekend, specifically Saturday was looking like a wash, but we were going to try and arrive to STBC when they opened at 11am, so we could snag an optimal covered outdoor spot since we brought Moz. Well, when we were heading out, the forecast looked like it was clearing up, at least for our morning timeframe. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. We got our prime covered, outdoor seat – avoided the crowds – and splurged on some yummy eats and brews! And by the time we left, it was a crazy downpour, so it was seriously the definition of perfect timing.

Homemade, local ice cream! I wanna scream right now — I ate real ice cream… in a cone… and didn’t die! After being diagnosed lactose intolerant almost 6-years ago, I just came to grips that I needed to opt for dairy-free or yogurt-based ice creams to avoid a problem. BUT after going on this gut cleanse, I was interested in trying out ice cream again, I think a big thing that helped is we went to a homemade local ice cream spot near the cabin. I really wanted cookie dough, but they didn’t have the flavor (can you even believe?) so I opted for buckeye and thin mint. Thin mint was definitely where it was at – I wish I had a whole cone of thin mint. It was basically amazing.

Cabin life. Our cabin getaway is a family home, so we are so lucky to be able to enjoy our time away, make memories with a quick drive to the middle of nowhere. Once you arrive at the cabin, you’re just welcomed with a sense of relief — the real world is so far away, even when you’re scanning work emails or posting something for a client. The covered deck is perfect for early morning breakfast and late night game nights with fun lights, tiki torches and quiet ambiance of nature. Even with the rain, being “stuck” inside is welcomed, because either way it’s a retreat and a break from the real world. We love our walks around the grounds, our morning coffee, sleeping in, and making breakfasts.

Between the rain working out with our schedule and being able to get our STBC trip in – to enjoying some ice cream – having a fun game night – and then meeting some fun farm animals at a neighboring farm, the weekend was simply perfect.