2013 Recap and Hi, 2014.

It’s hard for me to believe that everything that’s happened in 2013 has, in fact, only happened to me in one year. It blows my mind that I’ve had the chance to experience all of these things in a lifetime, much less 365 days. Where to start?

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I ran a race in my underwear for a good cause, was published in my university magazine (twice!) and modeled for multiple photo-shoots. I’ve had beautiful and memory-filled travels to Pittsburgh, Louisiana (twice!), Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, Detroit, Puerto Rico and Colorado. I took part in a giant scavenger hunt in downtown Austin where I would climb atop a Willie Nelson statue, not knowing that later that year I would actually meet Willie Nelson himself.

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I celebrated my 24th birthday surrounded by amazing friends, had an absolute blast with my hubby on our first ever cruise and fell in love with my social media internship for the American Red Cross.

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Becoming an event blogger gave me the chance to take part in some pretty incredible adventures: I ziplined across one of the world’s longest ziplines, ate and drank at multiple media events, attempted to stand-up paddleboard, nervously tried my hands at beekeeping, was given a breathtaking helicopter tour of downtown Austin and went indoor skydiving, just to name some of the events I was able to cover. I am forever grateful to all of the businesses who allowed me to try out these endeavors not only free of charge, but who almost always allowed me to invite a friend to join in on the fun as well. This year has definitely reiterated something I’ve known for quite some time: Austin and its people are awesome.

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Perhaps my favorite event to cover was flyboarding– A water sport that propelled me out of the water and into the air in a jet-pack like fashion. This was scary and exhilarating and doubly awesome because I had a giant camera crew filming it all. In May, I was cast in an online commercial for U By Kotex. A film crew filmed a week in my life, and a couple of months later would fly me first class to Detroit to film for a piece shown in concerts all over the United States. Soon after, they would send me to one of these concerts to watch myself talk to the audience on a humungous teleprompter. It’s impossible for me to properly put into words how completely amazing all of this was, but I can say it definitely made for some of the best moments of my entire life. I’ll never forget the feeling of having a film crew take over my entire house, or filming on a stage that famous singers perform on, or playing dress up with my very own makeup and wardrobe artist, or falling in love with Detroit as I was given the inside tour by some pretty terrific people, or being handed a check, glancing at the number and trying extremely hard to act cool and not squeal out loud. You know those really great dreams you sometimes have, and it always kind of sucks to wake up and realize, “Damn, that wasn’t real.” ? This whole experience was a lot like that for me. Except it was real.

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In August, I became a first-generation college graduate and celebrated this with my fabulous support system, and by September I was hired on as the Social Media Representative for all five locations of Leif Johnson Ford. I’m now getting paychecks to blog, take pictures and talk to people– and I’m still a little amazed that I’m getting paid to do the things that I already like to do for fun.

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What else? I make this recap already knowing that I won’t be able to recall every detail that made up such a monumental year for me. My husband and I bought a boat, which he completely renovated and that has already provided us with plenty of good times and pretty Austin sunsets. I made my first down payment on a shiny new car, met the White Power Ranger of my childhood, ran six races, sought out new volunteering opportunities and covered my first ever red carpet event.

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In October, the dude and I celebrated four wonderful years of marriage in the gorgeous Denver, Colorado. Oh, yes. And we found out that we’re expecting our baby girl to arrive in April 2014.

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My head is still spinning from this year, which has been both the craziest and best of my life so far. But seeing as we’ll be meeting Miss Brynlee Mae in just a few months, I already go into this one knowing that 2013 has some pretty intense competition. Just….Jeeze. Wow. Gosh. Pretty words start failing me when my feelings for all of these experiences can’t be summed up eloquently enough. I am so very thankful for this magical, insane, breathtaking, beautiful whirlwind of a year…. and I cannot wait to see what the next 365 days has in store for me (us!)

So hi, 2014. You have a lot to live up to, but I have some belly kicking movements and a couple of plane tickets that are telling me you’re off to a really good start.

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Rogue Rescue Run 5k And Other Happy Things

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Sunday morning, I begrudgingly got out of bed at 7am, after a long first week at work (Oh, yes! Work! This is for another post very soon.) and a no-sleeping in Saturday due to my glowing cousin’s out of town baby shower. Still, I got up and made my way to the Rogue Rescue Run 5k, benefitting the critters of Texas Humane Heroes. This was the first 5k I decided not to ask a friend to join me. I really enjoy my alone time in my daily workout routine, so thought I’d see if I also would in a 3.1 mile organized run. I definitely loved it. The beautiful, almost fall-like weather made it impossible to not instantly be happy that I was awake, early as it was. The race, as races always do, made me feel extra alive and at one with my awesome community. The air had the slightest chill in it, the wind was blowing through my hair as I jogged and here were all of these people running next to me for the same good cause. It was just perfect, really. The rest of the day followed suit. I brought home donuts to share with the still sleepy husband, and later had a coffee date with a close friend visiting from out of town. For dinner, I made homemade loaded baked potato soup, and I don’t mean to toot my own horn but then really I do, because it was delicious. That evening, I read a good book on my back patio and felt grateful to have my own patio to enjoy a lovely evening and a good book on. Later that night, hubby surprised me with my favorite candy bars and pretty flowers. Really, I don’t know how I could be anything but happy.

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I asked an older gentleman who was working the race if he would take a picture of me. Below is my reaction after he told me that I was gorgeous and then confusedly questioned if he was taking the picture correctly or not.roguerescue1

Detroit, Part 2

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If you follow my blog, you probably know by now that I was cast as myself in a U by Kotex commercial in May. You may also know that, less than two months later, I was flown to Detroit on an all-expenses paid trip to film a second commercial. It’s been completely nuts. But the best kind of nuts. (Hee. Hee. Nuts. A male anatomy euphemism to describe a feminine care commercial I took part in. I really amuse myself sometimes.) Er….I digress. Here are the details I haven’t quite got around to sharing yet (With pictures! And captions!):

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(Above: View of Detroit after crawling out of an apartment window)

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(Above: Arguably the coolest brewery ever, as one gets to drink their beer next to all of the brewing machinery.)

In the first set of commercials, there were five of us who were cast in “Demo Diaries.” Each of us got our own 2-3 minute online commercial. Because my product is the only one that hasn’t been released yet, I’ve been able to to watch the rest of the Demo Diaries before mine airs. Let me tell y’all, I was completely floored by the talent, beauty and personality that my fellow U by Kotex girls possess. I still feel honored and a bit awestruck that I got to be amongst this group. Now take that feeling and multiply it times about a kabazillion when I found out that I was the only one asked to join the production team in Detroit. Here’s the thing—I’m a confident girl, but realistically so. I know where I stand. I’m attractive, but not drop-dead gorgeous. Due to my years of homeschooling, I have this perma-awkward thing going on, but I’ve managed to usually pass this off as more cute than creepy. I’m goofy and outgoing and I’m kind to people, which I think makes me generally likable. So though I was pretty surprised when I found out I got cast in the first commercial, I wasn’t flabbergasted (That is such a fun word.) But it definitely blew me away to figure out that the production team considered me the favorite of this group of lovely, gifted young women. Still….what is that saying? About not looking a gift horse in the mouth? Yeah, I wasn’t about to do that.

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(Above: Parts of the amazing film crew/ production team/ makeup/ wardrobe artists)

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(Above: Party at a bicycle/watch making shop)

So I went to Detroit and had one of those weekends that made me feel like I was dreaming, or in a movie, or something. As a rather long side note, I must note that I was extremely taken by this city. It’s now on my top five, and maybe even top three of places that I’ve traveled to. I know it’s not in the best of spots right now, but I’ve always had a thing for the underdog. I loved that nearly everyone I talked to in Detroit was actually from Detroit, and how proud they were of that fact. (I think I appreciated this even more, being one of the rare Austinities that is actually from Austin.) And it wasn’t that they didn’t know any better or didn’t travel frequently. It was just that they saw, and luckily shared with me, the beauty and uniqueness of their city. I loved seeing a run-down, vacant building next to a small strip of renovated, classy ones. I loved going to a sleek, upscale restaurant in the middle of a poor neighborhood. It wasn’t at all depressing to me, but rather hopeful and inspiring. I’ve never before seen a city with so much potential. I fell in love, and I fell hard.

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(Above: So much yum FOOD! And pretty coffee! And The oldest bowling alley in the US)

Okay. Long side note over. Where was I?…..

As I’ve mentioned, I flew first class and stayed at the MGM Grand and filmed on-stage at the Fillmore and was shown around the city by a production team that wouldn’t let me pay for anything. (Special thanks goes to Ed, who gave me an incredibly authentic tour of Detroit and didn’t once complain when I made him stop for multiple potty breaks.) I played dress up with a makeup and wardrobe artist and sat in on a meeting where everyone looked over pictures of me in different outfits. (So weird.) As I haven’t yet mentioned, the second commercial I was filming isn’t exactly a commercial. It’s actually a set of video clips that are going to be played on gigantic screens at the Bruno Mars and American Idol tours.They’re meant to be both a form of advertisement and a way to entertain the crowd pre-show. When I told my best friend about this, she told me my life had come full circle. I’d agree. See, when I was a young teenager, I was absolutely obsessed with American Idol. Obsessed is actually quite an understatement. I frequently fantasized about being a judge and convinced myself I was going to marry Ryan Seacrest. (The production team found that bit especially humorous) I once had a serious argument with previous mentioned best friend about which one of us liked Paula Abdul more. No, Really. I have journal entries about such things. Funny how sometimes the past really does meet, or at least interact with your present. Crazy how former dreams can occasionally come to fruition in your present life. It is both amusing and insane to find out that, 10 years later, I am going to be featured on mega-screens at the American Idol tour. So fourteen-year-old me, this may be a bit belated, but this one’s for you. Here is proof that sometimes those big, far-fetched, seemingly unrealistic type of dreams that filled your notebook really can come true. Sincerely, your twenty-four-year-old self and your menstrual cycle. 

Surreal, But Real. (Demo Diaries, 2013)

I have this really crazy, amazing, unreal story to tell y’all. Except here’s the thing–As unreal as it still seems, it’s all very true. And it’s happening to me. I don’t know where else to start this post but from the beginning. So here goes.

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Back in May, I received a message from a cameraman on the site that I use to schedule photo-shoots for my modeling hobby. He said that he’d love for me to come out and audition for a commercial. I then read over the details and found that they were looking for someone “Outgoing, authentic, confident, charismatic”, “Very likeable”, “Willing to take the camera crew and viewers into her personal life and share information about her life and style.” and, oh yeah, “Someone who other girls would like to be.” Oh, you know. Only a little intimidating. Gulp. But the pay was more than great, the location happened to be right by my university and I was wrapping up the last bit of my finals. I was leaving for a cruise in the next couple of days and was working that afternoon but had a little bit of free time to spare. I thought about it and then I thought, “Why not!?” So I went in for the audition. I walked into a crisp, corporate building, went up an elevator and was escorted by an assistant into a room with bright lights, two dudes and a camera. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous. But the guys were so friendly and genuinely sweet that I felt myself almost immediately calm down. After a few basic questions, they asked me about my hobbies. If I was to pick a question to be asked in an interview, that would probably be it. I’m all about my hobbies, y’all. So I ramble on (I was still a little nervous and my rambling becomes pretty intense when I’m nervous) about my hobbies, probably glowing a little as I talk about my most recent endeavors as an event blogger. The guys are smiling and I feel giddy with adrenaline. Before I know it, the audition is over. But before I leave, Travis (cameraman who emailed me) told me, “I think you’re our favorite of everyone we’ve interviewed so far. And we really don’t just say that to everyone.” As the assistant walked me out, she smiled as she let me know, “They really haven’t said that to anyone else.” If I wasn’t glowing yet, I know I was by that point.

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I found out in Louisiana, the day I got back from my cruise, that the production team also saw me as a favorite and that I had been cast in the commercial.

A few days later, I was meeting up with part of this team to go over details and sign the contract.

A day after that, I had the U By Kotex film crew begin following me around for a week in my life, filming for an online commercial entitled “Demo Diaries.”  They recorded me as I event blogged (I was trying out a new water sport that week, so it worked out pretty perfectly), hosted my on-campus radio show, went out with a friend, ordered a drink from a coffee shop (Everyone seemed a little stunned as we walked into a small-town coffee shop with a full camera crew. A barista proceeded to ask me if I was famous.), BBQ’d with my hubby, and even as I did laundry and vacuumed (Travis informed me that I didn’t seem real if they were just filming me doing cool things like flyboarding and hosting a radio show. I am very real, I swear it! Thus the everyday life things. Ha.)  

It was an incredible, surreal, insane, whirlwind of a week that I will never ever forget. I worked with an absolutely fabulous crew and cannot even describe how blessed I feel to be given such a crazy, wonderful opportunity. I’m tempted to say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing, but apparently that’s not quite the case.

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I was going to wait for a couple more weeks, when the commercial aired, to let y’all know about all of this craziness. But then I got a call from the production team, asking me how I felt about doing a second commercial. Oh, and how would I feel about them flying me to Detroit to do so? Um, what!?…Huh!?…Impromptu vacation!?.. Filming another commercial!?…Yes,yes,yes!!! (That was basically my thought process within the phone conversation.) Long story short, and to condense the shock and excitement that I feel into a short amount of words, I will be flying to Detroit tomorrow night. The pay will be just as much or more than my previous commercial, which is crazy to me because I would probably pay to have an experience like this. Thursday I’ll have a wardrobe fitting. Friday I’ll be filming all day in the new-to-me city of Detroit. My heart started beating faster just typing the previous sentence down. I still can’t quite believe all of this is happening. I’m completely stunned, but in the best way possible. I’m dazed and grateful and thrilled. I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that as surreal as this all is, it is still real. So, uh, because I’m apparently not dreaming, I still have a bag that I need to finish packing?! Stay tuned for part two, y’all. Detroit, here I come!

Event Blogging Adventures

So being an event blogger is neat. 

It’s a pretty sweet gig– This going on adventures, exploring my city, talking to wonderful people, eating delectable food and trying all sorts of new things in exchange for a review. I seriously feel like somebody has plopped me into the middle of a really great dream and said, “Here. Go Crazy.” So I do. 

-Paddle-Boarding with my main squeeze, courtesy SUP ATX.  A new, exciting experience spent on the lovely Lake Austin with my favorite boy. I should probably also mention the fact that the extremely patient general manager, Dale, gave me a mini-lesson in which I consistently paddled incorrectly and confused my left and right hand. He might have laughed at me. I might have blushed. This is all whilst my husband, also a first time paddle-boarder, is doing circles around me. Psh. But I eventually got the hang of it and paddled along, sometimes taking a break to stick my feet in the water, or feel the sun on my skin or to just gaze at my beautiful view of downtown Austin. The perfect way to spend a summer morning.

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Pole-Conditioning class at Inner Diva Studios. It was a laughter, sweat and endorphin filled work-out. I love when exercise is so fun that you nearly forget how much pain you’re in, and this was definitely one of those times. I was even able to bring a guest, aka my friend Hannah, with me and we both ached for days after. (Cue John Mellencamp’s “Hurt So Good”) I can’t wait to go back.

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Five-course meal, thanks to Spin Modern Thai Cuisine. It was love from first sight….and  bite….and sip, y’all. The perfect mix of sweet, salty and spice in every gorgeously presented taste left my mouth (and nostrils…and eyes) completely smitten. Pictured below is Thai Basil Mint Sangria, Tuna with Lychee, Tiger Cry (Spicy, beefy deliciousness) and Coconut Panna Cotta. Not pictured is Sweet Corn Taro Tempura, which is basically lightly fried sex, y’all.

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Media Dinner for the new opening of the Austin famous P.Terry’s. I’m a little ashamed to admit that this was my first time eating here. Okay, really ashamed. Boy, have I been missing out. Mouth-watering, all-natural burgers, fresh-cut fries, and I even got to meet (the very sweet) Patrick Terry himself. Fun and Yum. FunYum. That should definitely be a word. I would use it frequently.

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Thanks to all of the businesses that treated me to such wonderful experiences. I’m truly honored and amazed that I get to be a part of your piece of Austin. Full reviews on all four coming to SeeSaw Austin very soon!

Weekend At The In-Law’s

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Spending a weekend at my in-law’s place in New Ulm, Texas is a lot like spending a weekend at a cozy and lovely bed-and-breakfast. But way better. Because this bed-and-breakfast comes free of charge and with complimentary food, love, hugs and laughter. There is a magic about waking up in New Ulm that leaves me feeling like a little kid, anticipating a day of fresh coffee, sunbathing, long chats, small talk, the smell of barbecue, the warmth of family and the joy of new memories being made. I just feel incredibly lucky to have married into so much extra happiness. (Not to mention the perfect weekend getaway)

Pictures:

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Summer, So Far

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Life is pretty darn swell lately. My busy time is filled with a job I love, an internship I adore, graduation preparations and covering fun, Austin adventures whilst I get to live my dream as an event blogger. I’m giddily planning an upcoming vacation and getting butterflies pondering post-grad life. Even as we speak (Or, uh, as I type…) I should be packing for a little weekend road-trip to visit my hubby’s parents. I’m anticipating a weekend full of BBQ, coffee-drinking, book-reading, small-town breakfast restaurants (Yum) and time spent with the two best in-laws a girl could ask for.

And in the little bit of spare time (in my own town) that I do find? Well, I definitely take full advantage of those moments too. Summer 2013 is already a pretty magical one, y’all.

Summer, So Far: 

Canoeing:

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Boating:lakehubshanlake

Wakeboarding:

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Brunching:

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Shopping the quaint Salado, Texas (with my adorably prego cousin):

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Wine Tastings:

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Receiving my first Influenster VoxBox:

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Swimming:

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And more swimming….
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As you can see, much of my free time is spent in numerous bodies of water. Well. It is summer and this is Texas, after all. Y’all.