No Excuses Allowed

I really have no excuse for not blogging in so long. It was the longest break I took in my two plus years of blogging and I’ve really been missing it.

As I said in my last post, I started working full-time in July and am still breaking into my new job and discovering all sorts of new things. At the end of July/beginning of August my little sister surprised my brother and  I for our birthdays and the whole family headed down to the Oregon Coast to celebrate.

Family Bonfire

I then headed to a conference in Los Angeles where I got to stay with my sister and hang out with a ton of friends from graduate school and the two years I lived there. I also got to see both my aunts and uncles and some cousins which is always nice as well as learn some pretty awesome things.

Fun Conference Learning

I also ran to Chicago for a quick two day conference. Not much to say about that except I got a duck and a flattened penny.

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And the biggest change in the last three months? I met someone! We met through OKCupid but randomly went to high school together-he graduated a couple of years after me. I can’t even tell you how happy I am. . . we moved in together and are currently sharing a pretty sweet townhouse complete with a cat (Kitty) and a 60 gallon fish tank full of tropical fish!

I’ll end this post with some corny pictures of Jason and I and a promise to be so much better about blogging because I’ve missed it so much and am excited to be back in the swing of things!

S'mores!Hiking

Us

 

Life has been a crazy crazy place!

Without meaning to, I have let this little spot ‘o’ mine slide. I started working full-time July 1st and work is awesome yet kicking my butt! I am in the process of A LOT of meetings with all sorts of education facilities in Portland. Basically I work for a community organization with education from pre-school through adult ed under my portfolio. My first order of business has been to meet with all our community partners to find ways of connection. I’m also going to two conferences in August–in LA where I’m presenting two hour and a half workshops, gotta work on those! And a super shortie one in Chicago.

Other than work, I’ve had some good friends move up to town with their 10-month old so I’ve been taking lots of walks with them and hanging out.

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I witnessed a gorgeous sunset last night driving home from my new favorite store:

2014-07-28 19.47.48How come no one told me about this AMAZING store? I picked up some stuff yesterday (justified that it’s my birthday on Friday!)

2014-07-09 16.37.28Enjoyed happy hour with my co-workers–loved the color of this hard cider.

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And enjoyed the beautiful weather on the deck with a glass of wine and the newest issue of Bust magazine.

2014-07-21 08.10.12 HDRStuck a bird on it at work!

2014-07-24 11.59.15Witnessed a random woman walking by with two horses. Behind her was a woman with a big pooper scooper. Ahh the things you see in Portland.

picstitchI also received an awesome foodie package from Clare in Santa Barbara and am participating in the Local Flavor Swap from Chaotic Goddess Swaps


I can’t wait to shower someone with some awesome Oregon goods!

I also promise to try and be better about posting in my little spot of the internet!

On My Bookshelf: After I Do

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***Contains affiliate links***

 

I’ve been super excited to participate in BookSparks Blog tour this summer and having a great time reading a bunch of new to me books. Definitely the book that I’ve connected with the most is After I Do: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m not sure why it’s hit me so deeply because in essence, my life is so different from Lauren, the main character’s.

AfterIDo-CoverHere’s the synopsis from Goodreads.com: “From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as “moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching”—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.”

Although I’ve never been married, I have no illusions that marriage is a perfect union and that feelings and passions ebb and fade. This was a fabulous book and I definitely devoured it. It’s a perfect book to read on vacation this summer, when you aren’t looking for a fluff book but still want a book that’s easy to read.

 

Berries Galore

I don’t generally do any sorts of weekend updates but I had a super fun weekend so I thought I’d share.

Fourth of July I went on a bike ride with my parents and my brother. I was super proud–we did an eight mile bike ride and I have not ridden a bike in 11 years. Truth be told, I am a klutz, so my mother kept saying, no injuries, no visits to the ER. I am glad to say I survived and did not fall. My father was not so lucky, he missed a curve and tumbled down an embankment. Poor guy has a huge bruise on his thigh.

After bike riding, my mother decided we needed to pick up berries so we ended up searching for a berry farm. taking Scholls-Ferry Road out until we found an open farm out in Scholls, Oregon (about fifteen minutes from our house). What a fun time! When I was little we used to go strawberry picking every summer and then my mom would make jam and I’ve been wanting to do something similar for several years now. We didn’t pick strawberries but raspberries, which honestly is much more fun because the bushes are higher up!

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2014-07-04 13.37.342014-07-04 13.37.42We ended up picking almost two buckets of raspberries and then buying a flat of blackberries and boysenberries. We ate a ton of them raw with whipped cream but I knew I wanted to bake with them so I made whole-wheat raspberry oat scones and a raspberry blackberry pie. I was super excited to try and make a pie crust for the first time. Unfortunately the Cuisinart burned out halfway through preparation (the mixer is fine now) but it definitely put a crimp in my pie baking. But all in all, it was delicious and I will have to work on the appearance now!

2014-07-04 14.15.11So beautiful and yummy!

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The pie pre- and post baking.

2014-07-06 11.43.39 2014-07-06 11.50.16Scones and over-whipped cream (ok butter) and a fresh latte. Wonderful summer weekend!

 

Review: Control Corrective Essential Daily Care Kit

Me and Mom

In the past couple of years I’ve tried to be very diligent about making sure I take care of my face. I am very lucky, I have great genes, my mother looks at least 10, if not 20 years younger than she actually is and we’ve been asked, on a regular basis if we were sisters. People also assume that I am younger for my age–my favorite is that I am still often carded nearly 11 years after my 21st birthday even with friends who are not being carded.

I have yet, though, to find a system that I am completely dedicated to so I was excited when Birchbloggers put a call out for people to test out a system. I eagerly applied and was sent the system. The system is called Control Corrective Essential Daily Care Kit.

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And I liked that it all came together, one of the things that super frustrates me is when I have to buy each lotion, cleanser and toner separately. It even came in a perfect travel container, which is helpful since I’ve had several trips in the past few weeks and this was easy to bring on airplanes.

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The system is made up of four parts, a facial wash, toner, crystal C serum and a daily cream.

Here is what Birchbox says:

Birchbox Breakdown

We’re constantly on a quest for balance, whether that’s between work and life, social time and gym visits, or indulgent dinners and juice cleanses. Conclusion: finding this so-called balance isn’t so easy. As far as our skincare is concerned, however, this daily-use kit has us covered. The high-performance, antioxidant-rich products—including a cleanser, toner, serum, and moisturizer—normalize skin to reveal a healthy, radiant glow.

How it Works

The aloe vera-based Gentle Facial Wash turns from gel to foam to rinse away oil, dirt, and makeup, perfectly prepping skin for the set’s other treatments. Botanically enriched with aloe vera, the Balancing Tonic hydrates as it protects skin from environmental stressors and harmful bacteria. Amino acids help repair the skin’s pH balance while reducing inflammation and removing impurities. For a healthy glow, Cyrstal C Serum gives dull complexions a perk with its vitamin C and aloe vera (notice a trend here?) blend. The antioxidant-rich ingredients help downgrade any inflammation. As a final protective barrier, Ceramide Daily Cream fortifies the skin’s lipid barrier to lock in moisture. The lightweight cream boasts vitamins A and E to fight free radicals and lend a luminous luster. For use on all skin types.

How to Use

Massage a quarter-sized amount of Gentle Facial Wash into damp face for about 30 seconds and rinse. After cleansing, soak a cotton ball or pad in the Balancing Tonic and sweep over face and neck in smooth strokes. Then dab a thin layer of Crystal C Serum all over to amp up radiance. Once the serum has been absorbed, massage a quarter-sized amount of Ceramide Daily Cream into face and neck.”

 

My thoughts on the product: I really like that the steps are clearly laid out and all come in the same package. I like how, even though there are basically three layers I’m applying to my face, it’s all very lightweight and I feel like, even after I put a foundation creme on, my face is not heavy feeling or sticky. I love the smell of everything and I love that it’s aloe vera based as I’m a big fan of aloe.

I’m also a fan of the fact that the system is compact enough that if I’m not home, I can still have it with me without having to have an additional travel set.

The one downside? It’s not cheap! It retails on the Birchbox website for $62.00. But I guess since it’s a four piece set, it’s actually not that unreasonable. \

What’s your favorite face cleansing system?

If you’re interested in trying out Birchbox, please use my code.

***I received this product complimentary from Birchbox for purposes of reviewing it. I will only recommend things that I think are good products and will always be honest in my reviews***

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap

I know, it’s a busy week but another swap reveal! I LOVE Chaotic Goddess Swaps and I can now retire from these swaps because I have been with both founders of Chaotic Goddess Swaps! In my first swap, I was paired with Beth of Living a Goddess Life and this time I was paired with Miss Chaos, Angie of My So-Called Chaos (of course I won’t retire because I have too much fun!)

Anyway, on with the reveal!

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Lots of fun goodies!

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The books:

  • Jeneration X which is from my wishlist!
  • Her which oddly enough, is on one of my lists and I had listened to a segment on NPR that morning about!
  • A book she loves: The Between Boyfriends Book-definitely where I am right now!

And not only that, she packed the box with all sorts of goodies!

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I absolutely love the little coffee stitched pouch-I put teas in it and put it in my purse! The flowers is the cutest Polaroid picture note card and I love the Mary Engelbreight stationary!

 

Thanks, Miss Angie for a delightful package!

Sponsored Post: 4th of July Flower Power! #Bouqlove

I love flowers, I love the smell of them, I love how they look and I love having them in my house. So I was super excited when The Bouqs offered to send me a bouquet of flowers. So The Bouqs was founded by a guy who got his MBA at UCLA (I randomly found this out when my aunt and uncle were visiting and admiring my bouquet and when I mentioned where it came from, my uncle was excited to tell me that it was an alum of UCLA-go Bruins!) The company was founded on the fact that it’s incredibly hard to buy flowers online that come out looking as good as they do in the picture. I have definitely had this experience–living far away from family and loved ones I definitely love the ability to send treats every now and then to let them know that I’m thinking about them and love them. Holidays are an especially great time to send flowers and lo and behold, 4th of July is happening this week! I love to decorate for holidays but often find it hard to have to have decorations for any and every holiday that may or may not happen throughout the year. Therefore, flowers are a great way to add to holiday celebrations. For 4th of July how about a beautiful Red, White and Bouq!

from The Bouqs website

How perfect would these be sitting on your picnic table in your backyard during a Barbecue? I, of course, love flowers and immediately bought a bouquet and a week later, they are still blooming on my kitchen table at home. I also just ordered some flowers to be delivered coming up to someone special. What’s best is the flowers start at a very reasonable $40, which, especially for fresh flowers online, is great! They come conveniently wrapped: 2014-06-24 16.13.11   2014-06-24 16.15.13   And well packaged so that they are in great condition, even coming from South America!  They are beautiful when they first come: 2014-06-24 16.21.32 There are specific directions for best care and are lasting and beautiful still a week later! 2014-06-25 17.53.48 If you are looking for a great gift to send someone, especially when you are living far away, check out The Bouqs for a simple and easy gift! Want to order some flowers: make sure to use this link: https://www.thebouqs.com/en/?sal=539f19ee215552&spop=1

 

***I received compensation in the form of this bouquet of flowers from the Bouqs but will only recommend products that I feel are worthy of passing on.  Thank you to The Bouqs and Markerly for this opportunity***

Foodie Penpals Reveal!

 

Yay! Time for another reveal. I participated for the second month in a row Food Penpals through The Lean Green Bean. This month I got paired with two awesome ladies. Generally speaking you only are paired with one awesome person but the first person I emailed didn’t respond within the 72 hour time frame so I was reassigned but then I did receive an email back so I decided to send to both of them and therefore got two awesome boxes!

First up is Ronda, from South Carolina! She writes at Kitchen Dreaming, check it out for some awesome recipes!

Ronda

I am so ready to head out to South Carolina! Fried peanuts, peach jelly and a local cookie she made called Bennies that she sent the recipe for. Yum!

Next up is Nicole, from SoCal-an area I know well, having lived there throughout my life and constantly visiting.

NicoleAmong the local products, she sent California raisins (anyone remember the California Raisins from the ’80’s and 90’s? Are they still around?) and almonds from her uncle’s farm North of Los Angeles, how cool is that! She also sent Herbs D’Provence which I love using on chicken and haven’t had any for awhile!

Want to get in on the fun next month?

Here’s some details about FPP in case you want to join in for July:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. 
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans.  

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for March, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 

You must submit your information by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th!

Who knows? Maybe you’ll get an awesome box of Oregon goodies from me!

On My Bookshelf: The Vacationers

 

***I was sent this book  in order to review by Birchbloggers***

***This post contains affiliate links***

The Vacationers is one of this summer’s must read books. I recently signed onto Birchbloggers through Birch Box, which if you’re interested in trying out, please use my link to sign up! As a part of Birchbloggers, I was sent a copy of the book to review.

Here’s what Goodreads had to say: “For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.”

I liked the book, I felt that the characters were very well developed and I had buy-in to their futures and what was happening to them. Franny and Jim are going through marital strife, Sylvia is going through teen angst, Franny and Jim’s older son, who comes with his girlfriend, is going through job difficulties and the difficulty of dating someone much older than him who wants different things in life. Franny’s best friend and his partner are trying to adopt a baby and the struggles that come with that.

This is definitely a great summer read and my only disappointment is that I felt that the story ended without really sharing the end of everyone’s stories but overall, a great book and now I want to go to Mallorca!

Pretty Little Beauty Swap Reveal

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Coming home to packages is always fun and this weekend, when I came home Sunday from San Francisco, I had several packages waiting for me including my Pretty Little Beauty Swap package! This month I was paired with the delightful Cassie from Southeast by Midwest.  Cassie was delightful (although for some reason her email didn’t like me and kept throwing me into spam!) But it worked out and we had a great exchange!

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I loved that I felt like I was getting a beauty package in the mail with the paper and tissue! We had a discussion about masks and healthy products so it was nice to receive several of those!

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I think it was in middle school/late elementary school that Freeman products were huge-I remember using their shampoos and masks all the time! It’s literally been years since I’ve seen their products so I am super excited to try out their products now!

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I’m always on the lookout for a good mascara so I’m excited to try this one out and see how good it is. I’ve started only using mascara on my upper lashes in the hopes that I get less clumping throughout the day. Any suggestions for this one?

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I’ve never seen or heard of sea terra but I love the smell of rose so I’m excited to try this out and see how it works.

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I’ve been wanting to try out Julep forever now so I am super excited to be able to see what I think before I make the plunge into buying a subscription box!

 

Thanks Cassie for the awesome treats! To see what I sent her, go check out her blog!