Tasting at Coffee Shark

I have a new favorite coffee shop in Austin. Maybe even new favorite coffee shop ever.¬† It’s called Coffee Shark, and it will change your life in the best, most caffeinated¬†way possible.

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Don’t let the name fool you. Coffee Shark serves far more than just coffee (also there’s no sharks), my friends. They’ve also got an amazing array of beer, sandwiches, (may I suggest the Pesto Mozzarella Tomato? Because I’m daydreaming about that cheese and pesto filled ciabatta bun right about now.)¬†soups, pizza (from East¬†Side Pies!),¬†and so much more. I’m going to make a suggestion. Order the soft pretzels and the cheese plate and proceed to immediately dip the soft pretzels into the brie. GUYS. I am salivating thinking about this right now.

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The inside dons the open,¬†industrial vibes that¬†I am learning is¬†something¬†that I like a lot in my coffee shops. Games like cornhole and giant Jenga grace the back patio, which is perfect for drinking a cold beer on a hot, summer’s day. As far as beer goes, the¬†flirty and¬†fruity Hye-Biscus had me hooked from first sip.

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The best part?¬†All is¬†served with a heaping side of LOVE, y’all. Okay, I know that sounds super cheesy, (Speaking of cheese –¬†Coffee Shark’s all¬†comes from the local Antonelli’s Cheese Shop) but it’s true.¬†Both the staff and clientele at Coffee Shark made me feel like family. I spent over three hours at this tasting, and when I wasn’t eating I was probably laughing or lost in good conversation. I hit it off with one group of customers so well that I made them take a picture with me and the owner joked that he had hired them for the day. After that, I spent another hour and a half¬†chuckling and chatting¬†with the Coffee Shark team.

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Though mine was more of a beer and food tasting, I can’t not mention the coffee. I had a regular drip coffee but this was far from¬†any¬†‘ole¬†regular drip coffee. Coffee Shark uses a steampunk coffee brewer. This is a hybrid (trybrid?) of the French press,¬†siphon and pour over. They make their delightful drip coffees by using temperature, time, volume and water agitation.¬† So basically this coffee is pure MAGIC.

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I almost wish I could keep this place a secret, but that would be nearly criminal. I must share this good with the world. So, here you go, world. Coffee Shark is where it’s at.¬†¬†Prepare¬†to eat good food, drink good drinks, and make new friends.

This Right Now

Hello, friends!

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It’s been a hot minute.

Grad school is cray, but guess what?! I graduate in THREE months. I’m currently¬†on a short (but much needed) break, and when I start back up it will¬†be for my last semester. I’ll spare you the that-makes-me-a-little-weepy-because-I-love-my-cohort-SO-MUCH-and-what-the-heck-where-did -the-two-years-go, but really I won’t because there it is. HA.

What else?

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So far this year¬†I’ve traveled to Seattle, Vancouver, DC, Maryland and Marfa, Texas. I somewhat unexpectedly fell in love with West Texas and am already trying to plan a trip back. Think the culture of Mexico/New Mexico but with the hippie/artsy vibes of Austin. I was instantly smitten. I’m lucky my little fam rolls with my whims and was down for a quick weekend trip and, you know, fifteen hours of driving in three days. They’re champs, my people.

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For our Capstone in this last semester, our cohort has been assigned the task of becoming consultants for a local¬†Austin¬†business of our choosing. ¬†It’s quite the undertaking, and I am¬†slightly terrified but mostly excited for how this program is helping to shape my future.

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It’s hard for me to not constantly be asking myself, “What’s next, what’s next, what’s next?!” This is a monumental point in my life, and I’m aware of that. But I’m also aware of the fact that I’ll never be twenty-eight again. My daughter will never be three again.¬†She won’t sing herself to sleep or ask for my help finding snails for too much longer. My husband and I will only celebrate nine years of togetherness, just this one month of this one year.¬†I’ll only be¬†sitting in a classroom, laughing with my cohort fam¬†and¬†sometimes sneaking in¬†boxed wine for one more summer.¬†This is the last bit of time that I’ll take weekly walks through the gorgeous campus that has now¬†become my¬†second home.¬†It’s a special time, this right now.¬†I’m just trying to remind myself to slow down and cherish the heck out of it all.

Going Places

Hi, friends!

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You may have noticed I’ve made a couple of changes? After nearly eight years as christinadoesitall, I am now christinagoingplaces. Bittersweet. Bitter, because I’ve made so many happy memories and friends as christinadoesitall. Sweet, because I’m slowly finding my niche and place in this world. After years of dabbling in a little bit of everything and loving every moment of that, I am beginning to¬†realize my¬†passions. I’m both¬†an MBA¬†student¬†and a girl who just really loves to¬†explore the world. Education and travel are both so very valuable to me.¬†So in¬†more than one sense of the term, my goal is to be going places.

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So here I am! Doing things! Going places!

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Later this week¬†I’ll be heading to Virginia and¬†Maryland to visit my best friend of sixteen years. Because of Meg and her family, this part of the world has become much¬†like a second home to me.¬†I can’t wait to hug and laugh and dance and¬†adventure with one of my favorite human beings.

When I return to Austin, it will be the beginning of crunch time. I graduate in five months, y’all! Part of me is so ready and the other part just wants time to slow down. The past¬†year and seven months of grad school has been a blur of hard work and magic. I’m not¬†ready for another semester of grueling coursework, but I’m not quite¬†ready for it to all be over yet either.

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Speaking of not being quite ready for things. This month I¬†turn twenty-eight. Like what? When? HOW?! I wonder where all the time has gone, but then I remember. It’s been spent doing really great things. Like building a home and a family with¬†the¬†dude I love the most.¬†And getting lost in happy hours and good conversation and captivating reads. Chasing big dreams, and catching many of them. Trying new things and facing fears head on.¬†(Unless this fear involves getting my blood drawn and then I will definitely turn my head away and also¬†possibly pass out.)¬†Driving through states and boarding lots and lots of airplanes.¬†And learning.¬†Always learning.

And all of that? It makes twenty-eight sound way¬†less scary and¬†much¬†more like a wonderland of possibility. I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

Pst –

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By the way, I’m way blonde now! It feels fun and right.

2017 Resolutions

I was hesitant to publically¬†show my 2017 resolutions this year as I have a few lofty goals and a couple of scary ones.¬†It’d be easier to skip them if I didn’t flaunt them which is exactly why I’m sharing them. You guys get to hold me accountable. Yay!?

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Here they are:

  • Run a full marathon (see “lofty goals”)
  • Visit three new-to-me states, one¬†new-to-me country
  • Graduate with my MBA
  • Take a solo trip (I have fond memories¬†experimenting with the starts of solo travel. In 2013, I flew to Detroit to film a commercial and met up with the production team upon arrival. Last year¬†I drove to New Orleans solo to meet up with friends and flew companionless to¬†Ireland to¬†then adventure with cousins. I’ve found all of these unaccompanied moments both meditative and thrilling. I’m keeping my options open here. Maybe I’ll have a weekend away in a sleepy little Texas town. Maybe I’ll fly to new lands. Either way, I’m excited for this one.)
  • Get a tattoo (see “scary goals”; I have one tattoo. I’ve wanted a second for years.¬†My one big¬†irrational fear¬†is needles and I was¬†a huge baby when getting tatted at eighteen. Like, the tattoo artist kind of hated me. But at this point I’ve given birth¬†to¬†an actual baby so I figure that process must be¬†scarier and I¬†can¬†handle this.¬†Eh?)
  • Record books read (Every year, I¬†devour¬†so many delicious words¬†and recollect very few of them. I hate that! I started on this¬†goal slightly¬†early, by creating a Goodreads account in late December.)
  • Blog¬†1+ times weekly, post to Instagram 3+ weekly
  • Vlog¬†Resolution Progress Report¬†(I want to have some way of keeping up¬†with these goals, and I’ve also¬†been wanting to start vlogging. Thought I might as well combine the two! This is another lofty¬†objective for me as I have a record of being terrible at keeping up with video blogs. Wish me luck!)

I’m doing my best to get off to a good start with¬†said goals.

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I recorded my first book read of the year, The Girl With All The Gifts. I’m¬†no¬†sci-fi or fantasy fan, and usually shy away from books in either¬†genre. But I found this zombie book for 50 cents at a little bookstore in Brenham, Texas and thought I’d give it¬†a go. Y’all, I surprised myself with how much I adored this one. I originally gave it four stars but when I found myself still thinking about it¬†days later, I¬†went back and changed it to five.

Tomorrow, I¬†fly to¬†Seattle and¬†Washington will mark my first new-to-me state¬†of the year. This has been on my travel list for years, and I’m¬†eager to start¬†exploring with one of my best gal pals.

2017

It’s January and I’m already feeling the butterflies that travel and good books and¬†new things¬†bring my way. So I’d say 2017 is off to a pretty swell start.

Reviewing 2016

Two weeks into the¬†new year and¬†I still can’t quite believe 2016 is over.

What a whirlwind of 365 days, y’all. I originally spelled that whirlwine, so you all know what’s on my mind.

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I have to smile when I reflect on the adventuring and the milestones marked this last year.

I road-tripped Ireland with two of my cousins and kissed the Blarney Stone. We drove through rolling hillsides full of spotted cows, drank¬†more than our fair share of¬†Guinness in many a pub and stood at the edges of the Ciffs of Moher. We¬†frolicked through the Hills of Tara, climbed on basalt columns at¬†Giant’s Causeway¬†and wobbled in awe down the crickety Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. The beauty and history of this country is something that I feel so lucky to have witnessed firsthand and with people that I love a lot.

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Months later, cousin Shannon and I were checking off another shared bucket list item by whitewater rafting in New Mexico. I almost fell out within the first five minutes and had to be yanked back onto the raft by my lower body. It was exhilarating.

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Summer road trips to Oklahoma and New Orleans left me feeling grateful for long drives, adventures and the loved ones that made these things all the more worthwhile.

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My husband and I spent an anniversary trip in the¬†enchanting Caye Caulker, Belize. We snorkeled with stingrays and sharks and that was slightly scary¬†but mostly¬†delightful. We bought a brownie from a stranger and¬†laughed the night away.¬†I took a group yoga class on¬†a Belizean rooftop, and clumsily moved my limbs as the sun set. We sipped on four for one drinks and devoured the¬†freshest of lobster and rode bikes through sandy, narrow streets. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to celebrate seven years of marriage with my best friend.

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2016 marked my first completed year and halfway point of grad school. It marked a year of development within my career and the blogging world. And it marked my one year of attending counseling, which has proven to be a turning point for my personal growth.

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There were a few times this past year¬†where I noticed history trying to repeat itself in¬†detrimental ways. The difference this time was that I didn’t let it. Can I just tell you how empowering that is? I¬†found my voice, and I learned when and how to use it. I learned how to stand my ground, and I realized that sometimes this can¬†and should be done silently.¬†It was a year that taught me to openly make mistakes, to¬†firmly disagree with those I love and to proudly show off both¬†my victories and my scars. I wasn’t always right, so it was also a year that taught¬†me how to be wrong.¬†It was¬†a year that¬†left me feeling strong,¬†brave and inspired.¬†2016 wasn’t perfect, but¬†it taught me to roll with and even¬†to sometimes revel in the imperfections.

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It was a year of discovery, of both things big and small, gentle and wild.

Happy 2017, friends.

Let’s be unapologetically¬†flawed and untamable this year, shall we?

An Open Letter To My Future Teenage Daughter

This week¬†I was running and listening to streaming¬†music when Taylor Swift’s oldie but goodie¬†“Mean” started playing.¬†For the first time, I¬†felt a wave of satisfaction as the lyrics ran through my head. Years ago it was a song that helped me get through some¬†tough¬†moments, but now it sounded more¬†like a victory tune.¬†There’s a line in the chorus that says,

Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me, and all you’re ever gonna be is mean.”

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I remember¬†hearing that song when I was nineteen and twenty and thinking, “Someday that will be me. Someday these¬†things that so and so is saying¬†won’t¬†hurt¬†me¬†anymore.” It felt so good listening the other day and realizing, I am there. I am at that place¬†now.¬†Here I am at¬†this point where I feel happy and confident and¬†where I’m¬†even making strides towards successful.¬†The meanies of the universe can’t reach me anymore.¬†But, as I realized this, I also realized that one day my daughter will be a teenager and a young twenty-something. That she will have to deal with the cruelties of the world and the bitter hearts of others and the doubt in herself that both of these things will bring. So I decided to write a letter to my future teenage Bryn. I also decided to share it here because, let’s be real,¬†there’s no way I wouldn’t lose¬†the paper version eleven +¬†years from now. Internet, I’m trusting that you’ll stick around for my daughter’s teens.

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Hey Bryn-Bryn.

I’m sure you’re embarrassed by me at this point in your life, and you probably don’t want to be called Bryn-Bryn either. But I’m writing this when you’re two and a half, so get over it.

I love you and your red curls and your chunky legs and your beautiful, wild, untamable¬†spirit more than anything. I love your big hugs and your¬†toddler smell¬†and even¬†how you line baby dolls in your bed up in a row¬†all creepy and Chucky-like. I wish that I could keep you from the¬†bad things forever. But since I can’t,¬†there are a few things that¬†I really want you¬†to try to take to heart, as best you can. I still have so much learning and growing to do myself, but here is what I know at the ripe old age of twenty-seven that I didn’t as a slightly younger soul.

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First of all,¬†please be kind. There is enough hate in this world, and I want so much for you to be the anti-venom. Don’t call people names. Apologize when you’re wrong. Be open to what others are communicating, especially if they disagree with you.¬†Love on your family, even when¬†we drive you crazy. Give compliments out generously. Tell a cashier that you like their hair. And while we’re at it, because as you know, I do give strange compliments like that, please always embrace your awkwardness.¬†Own it. Be weird and silly and laugh loudly and when you want to.

I¬†need you to know¬†that, like it or not, not everyone is going to like you. That people are going to dislike you for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. That sometimes someone will want so badly to make themselves the hero in their own story that they will turn you into their villain, even if you didn’t do anything to deserve this narrative. And sometimes, baby girl,¬†people just aren’t nice. You have to know that these folks are fighting their own battles, and more often than not, you are only caught in their crossfire.

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Listen closely here, boo.¬†You can’t and shouldn’t have to prove yourself to people who only want the abstract of who you are.¬†The concrete version of¬†you¬†is flawed and scarred and imperfect, and¬†this real person is so very beautiful, no matter who takes the time to see it.

And Bryn?¬†You don’t ever have to retaliate in anger, or frustration, or sadness. It took me years to realize that one.¬†Try your best to forgive and move on and to focus on¬†you, not¬†anyone else.¬†Look towards¬†your biggest¬†goals and¬†live your craziest dreams. I promise you, that is the only vindication you will ever need.

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Littlest love, this is important too.¬†I don’t want you to ever let anyone put you into a box.¬†Every now and again someone¬†will try to tell you who you are and what you can and can’t¬†be. They’ll try to¬†say that there’s only one path to self-actualization, but please take note of the word “self” there. It’s up to you to find out what makes you, you. It’s¬†up to you, not a¬†stranger or an online opinion piece or your great Aunt¬†Edna (to¬†be¬†clear, we¬†don’t actually have an¬†Aunt Edna. If we did, I’m sure she’d be lovely.) to¬†learn and decide¬†the¬†paths that will bring you fulfillment and joy. It’s up to you to break down the walls that society has put up for you. It takes¬†small minds to impose their barriers onto others,¬†but¬†you need to know that you are bigger and better¬†than any¬†cage anyone could ever try to squeeze you into. Please don’t ever let the world define you. You redefine the world, baby girl.

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I hate this one, but it’s inevitable that you will have your feelings hurt and your heart broken. I so badly wish that¬†I could protect you from those things, but I can’t and I shouldn’t. You’ll be rejected. You’ll hurt others. You will have to let go of people who mean a lot to you, and though this is healthy, it can also be really, really hard. You are going to feel like you’ve made a mess of things sometimes, and you’ll probably wish for a take-back or two or ten. But¬†I want you to make mistakes, because this is¬†how you will grow.¬†I want you to¬†do things that scare you, because¬†some of the most terrifying things in life can also end up being the most incredible ones.

Brynlee Mae,¬†please¬†don’t let these hurts and heartbreaks turn you cold. The world can be a mean place but¬†it will¬†surprise you with its goodness too. Always search for the good. Fight with¬†everything¬†you have¬†to keep that joyous spirit and¬†loving nature.¬†Fight to keep the sparkle that dances¬†in your blue¬†eyes. Fight against becoming jaded, or pessimistic or unkind, and encourage others to do the same. Encourage others every chance you get. We could all use a little bit more of that.

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Finally, I¬†need you to know that so often, more often than not, you will be your own worst enemy. That the voices in your head, you know, the cruelest ones that tell you the things that others probably think about you? That this will so often be only what you fear about yourself. So please, please, please take the time to be kind to yourself. To forgive yourself. To look at what you’ve done and to be proud. Women are so often told not to be proud. To be modest, and meek and to swat away compliments like flies. Lest we be considered full of ourselves. Boastful. Egotistical. Lest we be considered what men are applauded for being, every single day.

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But Bryn, I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to hide your shine just because the world isn’t ready for it. Shine, baby. Show them everything you’ve got. Be the hero that doesn’t need¬†a villain, or a rescuer or the false reality created by unrealistic expectations. Be your own hero.

I promise you, that is a story that needs to be told and told again.

PS: By the time I give you this letter, I will also have a list of Taylor Swift songs ready to¬†guide you¬†through the trials, tribulations and dance parties of young adulthood. You’re welcome in advance.

PPS: Dad says you’re not allowed to like¬†boys.

No One At The Kmart Knows About My Bologna

From my first days of knowing my husband, I also¬†knew about his love for nonsensical phrases. He loves to incessantly repeat¬†odd, meaningless¬†things that he hears on films or commercials or on the side of the road. I’ve never watched Back to the Future or The Goonies from start to finish, but I can quote the crap out of both of them.

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So as we were binge-watching Shameless last week, and a¬†stoned college student on a bad trip¬†uttered the words, “No one at the Kmart knows about my bologna.”, I immediately knew this would be a new token phrase. Not only because Robby was nearly crying he was laughing so hard, but because it sounded just like him. I felt honored to be privy to a strange catchphrase in the making.

Robby and I are soon to celebrate seven years of marriage and an anniversary trip is in the works. Both of these things make me giddy.

In these seven years we’ve shared many things. Anger, but more joy.¬†Fights, but more laughter. Eye rolls, but more weird dances around the house. Baby poop, but more group¬†family cuddles. Okay,¬†let’s¬†be real, probably more baby poop. Babies poop a lot.

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¬†There’s a big¬†learning curve when it comes to marriage, and I love that we’ve always found ways to learn and curve together.¬†I was especially young when we said “I do”, and Robby has been unwaveringly patient and kind every step and misstep of the way. There are things I couldn’t¬†have known¬†at twenty that I know about¬†myself¬†now. That, as much as I value us,¬†I also¬†need space to breathe, to travel and to live outside of my marriage. That, as much as I¬†cherish my family, I also value my¬†independence and higher education and exploring the world.¬†Not only that,¬†I sincerely believe¬†that¬†having this time to myself makes me¬†both a better wife and mother overall. This isn’t something that everyone understands, and that’s okay. Because he does.¬†Robby has always¬†wholeheartedly encouraged¬†me to chase my dreams and to figure out what makes me feel happy and fulfilled.¬†He is my person, and to have spent the past seven years crafting inside jokes and our own bizarre lingo makes me feel like I’m a part of the best¬†private club.¬†Ours.

I married young, but I married right.

His sweet laughter about secret bologna only reiterates that knowledge.