January 28, 2013

Life in Fort Collins - One Month In

Life in Fort Collins is good.



It's hard to believe that we moved a month ago. It feels like longer & shorter all at once.

At first, we just had each other, our apartment & one income.

So we decorated, took our dogs to the dog park, went grocery shopping (one of our favorite things to do, believe it or not), watched movies, went to the gym, hung out at Barnes & Noble, found "our" church, used our new fire place & occasionally went out for drinks and/or dinner.



It was a nice change of pace from our overly busy life in Kansas.

And it was nice to totally to depend on each other for everything.

Now Cory has a job & we're slowly getting into a little routine. We're making some new friends. We've fallen in love w/micro brews. We found a "small group" full of very nice people. I discovered a favorite coffee shop. We love going down to Denver. We take our dogs everywhere. We've enjoyed having Alex visit & meeting our friends, the Jones' in Denver for dinner.

Life is just good.

This week we're going snowboarding for the first time since we moved & I'm really looking forward to that. Then in February we get to spend a long weekend in Montana w/Cory's family & my dad & step-mom plan to visit the following week.

So I have a feeling that our slow, sweet life might get a bit busier, but we're really striving to keep it from becoming what it was: non-stop.

Month One has been slow & sweet & I look forward to seeing what next month has in store!






January 23, 2013

Traveling In Style

Yesterday I flew back to Kansas for a couple of days of meetings & to spend time w/my family. The lunch hour before my flight I was scheduled to attend a Public Relations Society of America CO Chapter luncheon at the Four Seasons in Denver.

Not wanting to change completely from my meeting to my flight, I switched out my pencil skirt & heels for leggings & boots then added some accessories. I don't know about you, but unless I'm heading straight to a meeting, I refuse to run around an airport in heels. And a pencil skirt might be even worse - so constricting. 

So here is what I wore & why I wore it:


My Kate Spade Mrs. Necklace, Scarf - Forever 21, Cardigan - J Crew, Billowy Cream Tank - Francesca's, White Tank (underneath) - Target, Bracelet - Kate Spade (gift from my BF), Ring - Holiday Galleria 2012, Lulu Leggings & Boots - Vince Camuto 


I love to layer w/accessories like scarfes when I travel because they are easy to take on & off, in case of temperature changes. Also, loose fitting items on the top pair perfect w/leggings for a super comfy, yet cute outfit. 


And socks are a must for me in winter (in summer - what do you do?!?! All I wear is sandals, which makes for a gross trip through security.), so I plan my shoes around their ability to go w/socks. These boots zip all the way down, making them easy to slide on & off during security.


And you can't forget your sunnies! I got these pair from the Michael Kors store in SoHo when Alex & I were there last month. 


And if you have some extra time before your flight out of DIA, I recommend you seek out this hidden gem. 


Happy Travels!

January 21, 2013

This Season of Life

Yesterday in church the pastor mentioned that he was in a full, happy, loud and crazy season of his life, raising four boys between the ages of 3-10 with his wife. This got me to thinking about the season of life that I am currently in, just having moved out of state with my husband of 2.5 years for a big adventure.

Those who know me well, know that I have always been a girl with a lot going on. Starting all the way back in elementary school and continuing to increase to a peak in high school, I was involved in multiple extra curricular activities at once. 

 Dance, girl scouts, cheerleading, youth group, gymnastics, soccer, tennis, competitive cheerleading, national honors society, student council, etc.

(Here I am in high school with some fellow Varsity Cheer Team members. I still keep in touch w/Julie, to the left of me, and consider her a very good friend!)



Being the little over-achiever that I was, burn out was inevitable. When I started college at KU, I joined a sorority & participated in intramural sports, but that was about it. The rest of my time was spent w/my friends & occasionally studying/going to class.  

(My freshman dorms roommate, Jayde & I at a football game. Still one of my best friends to this day, distance & all!)



When I transferred to Wichita State, I worked and went to school. Nothing more. Nothing less. I went through a stage where I didn't put much effort into anything that I cared about, except for hanging out with my friends.

(Out for my 21st birthday w/Chelsey & Kate, friends from high school that I still adore.)


So post-college, I was eager to jump back in. And jump back in, I did. I jumped into anything & everything that peaked my interest or would help me further myself as a professional. The adult version of me sought balance for my life (instead of going through another burn out, like the college version of me did).



My recent move gave me an opportunity to step back and evaluate what is truly important to me. 

For me, busy is now a bad word. Is my life full? Yes, it is so full. Full of many things including new experiences, being active, cooking, spending time with my husband & puppies, my career, reading and blogging. It's full of getting in touch w/myself, my goals & dreams. And of course my life is full of exploring my city that I love more & more each day.

But I have room too. Room to grow, room to meet new people & discover new activities. I've become protective of who I let in my life & have been even more protective of my time.

(In Denver last week after checking out a wine bar called Cru.)



One of these days Cory & I will have some little babies and life will get loud and crazy again. And while we both look forward to that time, we are also cherishing the slowness & sweetness of the life that we're making for ourselves here in Fort Collins.


January 19, 2013

Hello Estes Park!

We've been living in Colorado for about a month now, and with the gorgeous weather this weekend, we finally got a chance to check out Estes Park. 

All the Northern Coloradans rave about the city - the amazing mountain views on the drive up, the way the quaint town comes alive in season (May-Sept.) & the array of outdoor activities that can be done in Rocky Mountain National Park (hiking, snowshoeing, fly fishing, etc.). Plus, this weekend the city was having it's Winter Festival, so it was perfect timing. 

So after a yummy breakfast (can I just say that it is SO nice to have Cory home - he was training in Denver all last week), we loaded up the dogs & our "gear" (my camera, some Nalgene bottles & the iPad - just in case) & headed out about 9:30. 

I wish I would have been able to get pictures of  the views driving up winding roads in the vast & vibrant mountains that are scattered with cute little cabins. Those were some of the most beautiful of the day.

We got to Rocky Mountain Park & let the dogs explore. 





Then we explored the little town.


A local artist's work displayed in a shop on the main drag. Go Prius!




Our last stop - lunch at the bar!


It was the perfect morning/early afternoon. We can't wait to go back when it's a little warmer & enjoy some outdoor activities in the national park + experience Estes "in season."

Happy Saturday to You!







January 17, 2013

A Mom Update

As many of you know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in November. If you didn't know,  you can read about it here

Since the confirmation of the diagnosis, she's been to a couple more doctor's appointments & scheduled her first surgery to remove the tumors, all while debating what type of surgery to select. For those new to breast cancer like we are, it was surprising to find that there are quite a few surgical options & choices to make. 

At one of the doctor's appointment another lump was found in the same breast. After testing it was confirmed to be malignant as well, which made her surgery choice more clear. She's opted to have a double mastectomy & her first of three surgeries is tomorrow around noon.  

My sweet sister has taken charge of organizing a "menu plan" for those that would like to help out. Check her Facebook for details. I'll be back home to visit/help out next week & will keep you all posted on her recovery.

Tonight my sister, mom & her two best friends from high school are having a "cleaning party" to get the house ready for her to come home & rest up in for the next two weeks. Since I couldn't be there to help clean (darn, I LOVE cleaning), I FaceTimed in & discovered why 45 year olds get a bad reputation when it comes to their technology knowledge.

Me: Mom, you're upside down.
Mom: What?


Me: YOU'RE UPSIDE DOWN.
Mom: No, I'm not!


Morgan: Mom, we're upside down.
Mom: Oh.



Please keep my gorgeous Momma in your prayers tonight & tomorrow. My sister & grandma could probably use a prayer too, as they will be helping to take care of her immediately following surgery.

Thank you!


January 13, 2013

Wine & Tapas

Last night Cory & I braved the cold to go to a bistro in Old Town called International Appetite, where we sampled our fair share of red wine & delicious tapas. We tried the gyoza, antipasti, roasted potatoes with Asian BBQ dipping sauce & the meatball sausage skewer w/dipping sauce special + finished with a dessert of a warm double chocolate brownie & black berry brandy ice cream.

We were not disappointed. Yum.

And when I say "braved the cold" I mean it & I want credit. It was 13 degrees outside last night! Brrr.

Here's what I wore:


The scarf & blazer were purchased from a little boutique in Chelsea. (I loved typing that)
The tank is from Pac Sun., the leggings are from Dillards & the booties are from Target.




The blazer is the most expensive thing I have on & I'm thinking that it was under or around $50. Just call me a bargain shopper! 

January 10, 2013

NYC

Last month my best girl, Alex & I made our first trip to the Big Apple. 

The occasion? Celebrating her 25th Birthday.

Here are some highlights:

Bryant Park. It was much smaller & more quaint than one would imagine.


Seeing Carrie Bradshaw's infamous stoop. In person. No words.


SoulCycle. A revolution. Seriously. Please come to Denver!!


A much more emotional experience than I expected - Lighting a candle in St. Pat's & saying a prayer for healing in regards to my mom's breast cancer diagnosis. 


Ice Skating, in the rain (and after a couple of cocktails) under the big tree in Rockefeller Center.


Central Park. Enough said. 



We took a page from the Kardashians' book & at dinner every night we talked about the days': Peaks, Pits, Praises & Prayers (in Alex friendly terms, the last two were called Thankfulness & Hopes).

It was a really neat practice & one that I wish I could get into every day. Overall for our trip, I've listed, as concise as possible, my Peaks & Pits.

Peaks

The street style - all different kinds
Bryant Park
The gorgeous buildings
Visiting Carrie's (Sex & the City) Stoop
A cozy, bland Italian dinner
Two Pieces of Good News that Alex Received
SoulCycle
Lighting a prayer candle for my momma at St. Patrick's Cathedral
Drinks at The Empire Hotel
Brunch in Soho
NY Style Pizza
Dinner at The Smith
Ice Skating Rockefeller Center
The largeness of Wall Street
Strolling in Central Park
Spending five days in a 5 x 15 ft. hostel-ish hotel room w/my best friend & still being BFs

Pits 

No ranch w/french fries (I know, I'm so Midwest)
My Strange Arm Injury
One Rude Cabby
All.Of.The.Walking (sometimes in heels - boo hoo)
Getting Lost - Sometimes on the subway, sometimes on the street
Sucking (Inside Joke)
Wet Uggs

Though it was our first, it won't be our last trip to the big city. We got the bug!

I Heart NYC!



January 8, 2013

Owning Our First Home - Lessons Learned

Cory and I first moved in together in May of 2008, right before he graduated from college. We had a cute, little (700 sq. ft.) loft apartment in downtown. In July 2009, we purchased our first home.

(Below: My now-husband, fiance at the time, carrying me over the threshold into our new home.)



Looking back, I've realized that we thought so little about this BIG decision. We had been told over & over again that we were "throwing our money away" on rent & all of our friends were starting to think about buying homes too, so we just assumed the time was right. 

Not to say that we weren't throwing money away by renting or that the time wasn't right, the point is, we just didn't put much thought into it. 

We were in our early twenties, who could blame us?

So we started looking in the spring and must have looked at about 25-30 houses before we found "the one."



Here are some lessons we learned from the experience:

Lesson # 1 - Take time to think about what's right for you.

Some questions we didn't ask ourselves that we probably should have:

- Is a move possible in the next 5 years?
- Is this side of town where we want to be?
(How far will we have to drive to work and are we okay with that? What hobbies do we have and how will living in this area affect those them?)
- What do we utilize our living space for most & will this house accommodate that?

Lesson # 2 - Buy big enough to grow into, but not too big.

We were pulled in by the lure of five bedrooms & three bathrooms without realizing that we were only two people. Two people who didn't plan on having kids right away. So could we have done just fine with three bedrooms & two bathrooms? Of course we could have! We would still have had more than enough room & probably a smaller mortgage or a more upgraded space.

Lesson # 3 - Find your style.

This one is hard. It takes time, consideration & effort on your part, but it's so worth it.

 Though I had always loved the bungalows of Riverside & many of the houses in the College Hill area, Cory was adamant about our first home being a new construction. We even looked at building. Neither of us loved the cookie cutter look, but we agreed that new construction might be best for two first time homeowners who had no experience or skill in home repair or major maintenance.

Our home was clean, pretty & new-ish (5 years old) & we enjoyed the ease of everything, but it had no character, which is something I came to really crave.

                                                                                                                                                                                   

Now don't get me wrong, we are satisfied with our first home, knowing that we have learned a lot. We owned a home that were proud of & even with a major decline in the market, we ended up selling it for $500 more than we purchased it for, breaking right around even.

That said, although we weren't "throwing our money away on rent" because we owned a home, we did spend a lot of time & energy buying, painting, decorating, listing & selling our home over the 36 months that we were home owners.

Which is why, after selling our house in order to move states for my job, we made the decision to put off purchasing another home for awhile. At the moment we are happily renting.

(Below: At our "Farwell Jewell" party, just before we sold our first house, which was on Jewell St.)



We'll definitely by another house one day, but we'll take the time to do it better by:

 - Deciding our priorities in a house (less, but larger bedrooms, for example)
- Finding an area that we're in love with or that works really well for our lifestyle
- Considering a fixer upper w/good character (or even better - find an older, bungalow style home that has recently been flipped, so we don't have to deal with any of the hard work)

And here is the biggest thing we will do differently: Buy when the time is right...for US. 

January 6, 2013

Afternoon Movie Attire

My weakness is wearing too much leopard print. - Jackie Collins


I've actually worn this look to two different movies in the past several months. I guess that's one of the perks of moving states - all of your clothes & combinations seem brand new. Necklace & shirt - Francesca's, Leggings - Lululemon, Boots - Michael Kors


I love this shirt because it's loose & comfortable, but still sexy. It's hard to see the details on the back, but it has a rounded bottom & a hem line sewn about 2.5 inches down from the collar, giving the shirt some structure. Clean details like that are my favorite.


And the pattern really pops against black, while working so well with camel too. Who doesn't love a good leopard print? I love the way the non-traditional color adds an element of surprise. 


These leggings & boots have become a fall & winter staple for me.


Love my MK!


My sweet friend, Lindsay knew I had my eye out on a gold initial necklace, so she scooped one up for me for my last birthday. : )


A casual high pony finished off this laid-back, New Year's Day movie look. 

We saw This Is 40, by the way. It was hilarious & depressing & could very well become all of our lives one day. Go see it! 









January 2, 2013

Willpower



My 2013 word of the year: Willpower. All encompassing. All improving. All - crap, this might be hard. But it has to be done.

If I look back on the failures 2012, willpower is the one central theme that contributed to each of them. Specifically because I have little to none of it.

Did I lose the post-wedding weight that I planned to? No. Why? Because I love Freddy's Frozen Custard & happy hour always sounded more fun than the gym. 

Did I save as much money as I wanted to? Heck no. Why, you ask? Because I became obsessed w/two people you may have heard of: Michael Kors & Kate Spade. Oh & J. Crew - you didn't help either.

Instead of setting hard & fast rules for a New Year's Resolution that would probably get tossed away by the end of January, I'm just going to continue to set goals for myself. And when I set a goal, I use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely) method to determine how I'm going to achieve the goal. Here is where the problem lies: I don't do what I KNOW I'm suppose to do to achieve the goal. 

So this year, I plan to focus on my willpower, because I believe that is the missing link in helping me achieve some of my goals.



Some goals I have for 2013:

1. Get back to ideal weight & then MAINTAIN.*
2. Re-establish our routine of going to church on Sundays.
3. Blog @ 3x a week for a total of at least 150 posts this year. Make @50 of those Style Posts!
4. Read 20 books throughout the year.
5.  Increase my company's brand awareness in the Northern Colorado area.
6. Begin writing a book.
7. Get our dogs outside to play or for a walk/run at least every other day.
8. Be more in the moment, whether that be in the office, at the gym, on the phone, etc.
9. Become even closer w/my mom & sister via phone calls, Skype & visits.
10. Always be kinder than you feel.

*My ideal weight is not necessarily my lowest weight ever, just the weight I feel best at & is maintainable.

I would love for you to check back on my 2013 progress - help keep me accountable!

Happy New Year!