Friends and Olive Oil and a 5k and Baby Stuff. Etc.

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only April. 2014 has already been pretty packed with lovely things–and we’re only four months in so far. From spending over a week in Italy with my favorite dude to a Mississippi road trip with one of my closest girlfriends to 5ks and media events and all of the BABY things, this year is already turning out to be quite the eventful one. With a full summer bucket list and a little girl due in just TWO weeks now, it seems like it’s probably going to stay that like that. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To play just a little bit of catch up, here are some recent photos that put a smile on my face:

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I ran my third 5k of 2014 on the same day as my baby shower. I made sure I had time to go home and shower before the shower.

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My latest two event blogging adventures have also doubled as free date nights. Both the olive oil and cheese tasting classes were tasty, intriguing and nostalgic of our trip to Europe. Being an event blogger definitely has its perks. As does having a husband who also makes for a pretty awesome best friend and plus one.

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Gal pal dates make me giddy. Said giddiness turns my facial expressions into those of a small child.

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I love weekends at the in-law’s. Always full of laughter, coffee, yummy food and peaceful mornings spent on the front porch with a good book. And sometimes full of neat flea market finds too.

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My stomach makes a pretty comfortable pillow these days.

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Texts from my best dude friend tend to make me grin. Note that he rations my compliments.

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I recently got to pose for a maternity photo-shoot with my favorite photographer. Above is one of my favorite shots. Photo credit goes to the always awesome Andrew Stevens!

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I’m about to pop, y’all! On an unrelated note, my husband really needs a haircut.

“Why Not?”–Mississippi Road Trip 2014

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If you know me, you probably know that one of my absolute favorite things to do is to travel, and that I try to do so on a pretty regular basis. It doesn’t matter where to or how long I’m gone; Just the promise of new places, scenery and adventures is enough to make me excitedly pack my bags. So I am always a little perplexed when someone will ask me why I am going somewhere. Of course, no one really ever asks me why I’ve chosen to go to places such as San Diego, New York, or Venice. When I plan for travels like this, I’ll often hear remarks like, “Lucky.” or “I’m so jealous!” But tell someone you’re going somewhere like Oklahoma or Arkansas? Blank stares and crickets and, “Why? What’s over there?” This confuses me. Why wouldn’t I want to see and explore every inch of this earth that I possibly can? I don’t know what’s over there, and that exact fact is the very beauty of it all. Some of my fondest memories are of my husband and I road tripping to the previously mentioned states, staying up late, lodging at quaint bed and breakfasts and exploring cute little towns. I’ve found that some of the world’s best treasures are hidden in the places that no one ever really thinks to look. That there is loveliness to be found anywhere and everywhere, if eyes and mind remain wide open. That there is so much joy and wonder in learning to wanderlust over the path less traveled. And that there’s a whole lot to be missed out on in this big, beautiful world when the question Why?” is posed in place of “Why not?”

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Lucky for me, I have great friends who share my same mentality and love of adventure. Last weekend and just in time for my eighth month of pregnancy (Baby is already quite the little traveler even before birth.), Becca and I road tripped it up to the new-to-me city and state of Natchez, Mississippi. It was such an enchanting mini-vacation. The long drive was filled with great conversation, fun pit-stops and plenty of laughter. Once there, we relaxed at an adorable bed-and-breakfast, ate cake from a nearby bakery whilst laying in bed, explored an eerie never-to-be-completed Civil War time’s mansion, took a historic tour around Natchez in a horse-drawn carriage, chowed down on our first alligator cheesecake and watched a gorgeous sunset at Bluff Park. So much magic beginning with two little words. Why not?

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Things I like a lot

Some things I like a lot lately:

  • I only ever post to Instagram for work, but I do have my own account just to stalk my friend’s accounts sometimes. There’s a couple of things I love about the below post from buddy Becca.beccains

1. Being referred to as her “adventurous pregnant friend.”

2. Having fun, wonderful people in my life who say yes to the whims of their adventurous pregnant friend.

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  • For Valentine’s Day, I requested Krispy Kremes instead of chocolates. Prego craving. Husband came home with flowers, a dozen donuts and a big box of chocolates. He sure knows how to woo a pregnant person.

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We decided to avoid the crowds this year and opted for a night in with a heart-shaped pizza. Please note my sexy socks and sweater. Such sexiness would probably be frowned upon in a restaurant setting anyway.

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  • Farmer’s market and catching up with long lost friend Emily. And buying homemade strawberry jam. Drool.

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  • Chili-fest with the husband. We got to judge our favorites while enjoying a beautiful, Texas day and eating endless cornbread and chili. Yum, y’all.

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  • I’m 8 months pregnant! Ah!! Can’t believe how soon we’ll be holding our own little person in our arms. I’m nervous and excited and terrified and giddy and about a thousand other feelings all mixed together. But mostly I just really can’t wait to meet her.

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  • My latest food tasting for the event blog was at my local SmashBurger. Usually at tastings, I’ll be given smaller dishes of each meal to try, and still leave completely stuffed. Well. At this ‘tasting’, I was given five (FIVE!) whole burgers, four full orders of fries and two mouthwatering milkshakes. I brought my husband home a multitude of leftovers, and still almost exploded from the massive amount of deliciousness experienced. AND I got invited to the kitchen to smash my own SmashBurger with special burger molds. Needless to say, they now have a fan for life here. Currently salivating thinking about their Truffle Mushroom Swiss burger and Salted Caramel Milkshake. And also the other billion things I ate.
  •  Below is work friend Peter.

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He’s really good at unique compliments.

Work friend Peter: “You’re still not showing very much. It must be your faerie blood.”

Followed by this post dedicated to me:

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According to Peter, I’m a social media genius with faerie blood. I like the world according to Peter.

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  • A couple of nights ago, I was feeling little lady kick a bunch. I was voicing my annoyance to Robby that I couldn’t view my whole stomach to see where she was kicking. He left the room momentarily, reappearing with a mirror so I could get a full view of the tummy. Every time I look at this picture that I quickly snapped of that moment, my heart melts a little.

I like love this life a lot.

Venice In The Rain

I haven’t made time to blog about Italy yet because it seems to me a very daunting feat. How to adequately sum up one of the most amazing, magical, awe-inspiring weeks of my life? It truly frustrates me because I wish the beauty and wonder I hold in my head and heart for this country could translate directly onto paper–or blog. But since it can’t, I figure I will just start small. Instead of trying to cover one whole week in one post, (Impossible.) I’ll start with just one night. Our first night in Venice.

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It took me two whole minutes after stepping out of Venice Central Station to know that I had found my favorite place in the entire world. I was instantly and completely smitten. It didn’t even feel like I was living real life anymore. We had stepped out into a fairytale. A fairytale devoid of cars and instead centered around a lively and lovely canal. A city full of bridges, cobblestone roads, enchanting shops on every corner and hundreds of alleyways and turns that were just begging to be explored. Our hotel was minutes from Central Station and fit right in with the magic of Venice; An old, homey building filled with friendly folks and knick-knacks, it had more of a bed and breakfast vibe than that of an ordinary hotel. We lucked out and received the only balcony, which gave an absolutely gorgeous view of the canal and was perfect for late-night or early-morning people watching. (That didn’t sound as creepy in my head.) Feeling the wind in my hair, watching boats pass as the night sky reflected on the water, and listening to the waves and Venice chit-chat from that balcony quickly became some of my most cherished Italy memories.

After we checked-in and got settled in at Hotel Canal and Walter, husband and I decided to do some Venice exploring. I had heard and read multiple times that getting lost in Venice was simply a must on the Italy to-do list, so that’s exactly what we set out to do. It wasn’t a hard task. One road nonsensically turns into the next, street signs come and go, dead ends are abundant and one bridge over water looks identical to another bridge over water that was encountered miles back. Even if we would have had access to GPS, which we didn’t, it wouldn’t have done us much good anyway. So get lost in Venice we did. And that was fun and wonderful and we were a wide-eyed, in-love couple aimlessly wandering the breathtaking streets of Italy.

And then the sprinkles of rain that were oh-so-romantic turned into droplets. And before we knew it, those droplets turned into a massive downpour of water. It was raining, hard, and we were now rather lost in Venice. Husband had had the foresight to buy an umbrella stores back, but this wasn’t really made for two people. Robby would maneuver his way under the umbrella occasionally, but for the most part he was just getting drenched from head to toe. I was staying a bit drier, though my boots were sloshing and soaked through from the puddles on the ground. Our picture-book perfect moment in Italy had quickly turned into a bit of a misadventure. My feet were cold and my poor husband was getting poured on and we were not-so-successfully trying to find our way back to our hotel in the dark. And then I just couldn’t help it. I started laughing.

Robby, who tends to have a happy disposition even in less than ideal situations, smiled and asked the appropriate question– “What’s funny?”

“I’m just tickled.” And I was. I knew how humorous this would all seem in retrospect. I knew even then that the moment—That moment where we were completely lost at night in the unrelenting rain of Venice, would probably be amongst my favorite moments of the trip. And I was right. It was. Because though we were lost and cold and tired and getting rained on, we were lost and cold and tired and getting rained on with each other. In Italy. We were getting uncomfortably wet and disoriented, side-by-side, on the confusing yet charming streets of Venezia. How lucky to have had the chance to be sopping wet and totally misplaced in a beautiful country with the person you love most in the world.

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Eventually, we found a café where we were able to dry off a bit, collect our thoughts and order a delicious tiramisu. The rain had eased up a bit by the time we left, and my husband, who has an uncanny sense of direction, eventually found our way back to the hotel. For the rest of our incredible stay in Venice, the skies stayed much clearer and we, much drier. Still, looking back on that evening will always bring a smile to my face and a rush of nostalgia to my heart. I never will forget that very first night of Venice in the rain.

Five Exciting Things

Five Exciting Things:

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1. My first maternity photo-shoot! I had a blast and was honored when my very talented photographer said I was “a joy to work with” on his page. Thanks to the amazing Dave Blake Photography! maternityshoot3

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2. Thus far this year, I’ve completed two 5ks. At the Foam Glow, my friend Becca and I danced in a pool of foam produced by a giant foam machine and were shot with a bountiful amount of colored dye. At Ranger’s Resolution Run, I took a picture with a giant sandwich. Running is only part of the reason I love organized races so very much.foamglow

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3. I held a baby python the other day. That was fun.

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4. I published my first short story! It was a goal of mine for 2013 and I actually got this up on Amazon Kindle a few months back. I went into a coffee shop one day with absolutely no idea what I was going to write about, but started typing. What eventually came from that was a fictitious story that questioned very real societal conventions. I’ve noticed that there are these different pockets of society, and each one of them seems to tell us that there’s only one way to be happy. And so all of us, in one way or another, are dealing with giving in or not giving into these norms when really what we should be worried about is finding joy wherever we’re at. I am of the humble opinion that there’s many different ways and lifestyles to happiness, and thus my twelve-page short story entitled “Don’t We All” came to be. But not without adding in more of my curiosity-sparkers like love and life and letting go and stuff. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s mine and I’m very proud of that. (If you want to buy it to read on your electronic device, just click here!)

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5. My husband and I leave for ITALY tomorrow morning!!! Ahhhh!! It still hasn’t really sunk in quite yet that such a huge dream of mine is about to come true. Italy. The land of my ancestors and romance and breathtaking architecture and art and all of the CARBS! I’m going there. Tomorrow. And as usual, I need to stop blogging and finish packing. Arrivederci, y’all!

The Five-Year Plan: Reconstructed

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Though it’s not something I’ve talked about much on my blog, if you’re somebody who’s very close to me, you probably know that I came up with a tentative five-year plan shortly after tying the knot. It went like this:

1. Graduate college

2. Renew Vows

3. Go to Italy

4. Make Babies

All of this was meant to happen in that particular order, and all shortly after I turned twenty-five (which, at twenty, seemed like a lifetime away). See, there was to be a quaint little five-year vow renewal and, afterward, Italy was meant to be somewhat of a second honeymoon. A perfect, well-deserved vacation after my college graduation and then the husband and I would be all ready to make lovely little children!

But then, as it tends to do, life happened and not everything went exactly according to this adorable plan of mine. After transferring, I graduated close to a year earlier than the date originally estimated by my advisor. Soon after this, my husband and I found out that baby girl is on the way.

And so our upcoming trip to Italy becomes less of a second honeymoon and more of a baby-moon.

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There is a certain beauty to plans rearranging themselves and falling into their own place, isn’t there?

We leave in FIVE days (Really, where does the time go!? I meant to blog about this months ago.) and will be gone a week and a half. Hotels in Venice, Florence and Milan have been booked. This is such a huge and lifelong dream come true and it still doesn’t seem real quite yet. I’m going to Italy. With my husband. In less than a week.

I’ve always been both a planner and a dreamer. I like lists, and even more than that, I like putting a check mark by each item on said list. So it may have surprised my twenty-year old self to learn that so many of my most cherished memories and accomplishments were made before even the first goal in my five-year plan was ever checked off. That I would learn to dream even bigger. That there is endless beauty to be found in life’s in-betweens, rearrangements and surprises. That I would still be twenty-four, with a job directly related to my college degree, a baby on the way and a trip to Italy on the horizon.

Out of order as it may be, husband and I are still planning that little five-year vow renewal come October. I will, by then, be twenty-five. We’ll also have a six-month old little lady on our hands. But for now, I’m twenty-four and she’s in my tummy and all three of us are heading to Italy on Friday morning. And goodness. There is just so much behind me that I love looking back on, and so much ahead that I have to look forward to. My original five-year plan didn’t give nearly enough room for this full of a life.

Really Great People

I’m behind with blogging again. I need to post about last year’s resolutions, and this year’s resolutions and all of the exciting things 2014 is already bringing or is soon to bring my way. But for now, I really think I should pay tribute to some of the really great people in my life. I’m a pretty lucky girl.

My best girl friend surprised me by sending this lovely necklace in the mail. I’m not usually a jewelry person, but I am rather smitten with this piece. It was one of my very favorite Christmas presents.

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I’ve been fortunate enough to spend quality time with two of my favorite girls and closest friends over their Christmas break. I met Hannah and Rachel whilst rehearsing for a school play a couple of years back. Now we’re all very much in love, as you might be able to see from the below pictures.

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Yesterday, the three of us met up for brunch. Before I left Rachel’s apartment, Hannah sent me home with two pieces of her delicious homemade chocolate cake. One for me and one for my husband. She also mentioned that Brynlee would be having her first piece of Hannah cake, albeit in utero. She takes care of my family, that one. Her request to be called “Auntie Hannah” when baby arrives will most definitely be granted. (Rachel is still pondering on her future title.)foampit

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My friend Katie and I have shared quite a few adventures together. We’ve bungee-jumped, road-tripped New Mexico and Arizona, and skipped classes in high school to chat in the girl’s locker room, just to name a few of our past endeavors. So when I suggested Hot Lava Obstacle Course as our newest shared experience, I knew she’d be game. Guys. This place was awesome. It’s like a playground for adults. They have a giant foam pit of fake lava to play in. Foam. Fake. Lava. I love life and its random fun things. I also love Katie and the fact that, instead of chatting over coffee like most normal friends would, we spent our time catching up whilst lying in a giant pit of very comfortable lava.

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Last week, I received this text from my best dude friend of nearly eight years:

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He’s really not that hard to deal with. But hey, I’m more than 6 months pregnant. I don’t pass up free food.

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He told me to pick somewhere nice. I picked North, a popular Italian restaurant in Austin that I’d heard a lot about but hadn’t yet been to. Bryant thought I picked somewhere snazzier than I did, and overdressed a little bit. North is nice, but not suit and tie nice. He wore a suit and tie. I probably found this more amusing than he did.

Maybe one day I’ll buy him dinner for dealing with me.

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Now I must go, as the husband brought home firewood and we’re about to make smores over our first fireplace fire of the season. I couldn’t write a blog about really great people without mentioning that boy at least once.

From funny-fancy dinners to foam pit adventures, I feel so blessed to have the folks in my life that I do.