Sipping Wine Out Of Styrofoam Cups

We had taken an empty classroom and turned it into our last minute study break room.

And we’re sipping wine out of Styrofoam cups.

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The atmosphere was light and celebratory. I brought the bottle of vino as a “prop” for my group’s regression analysis. We had chosen wine scores and prices as our topic. Weeks ago I had jokingly asked the professor if this would be an appropriate research topic for stats. Turns out, it was.

When our stats prof walked into our study room to find us all mingling, I asked her if she’d like a glass of wine. Our cohort was in chuckles as she politely and amusedly declined.

Tuesday night I completed my first semester of grad school.

I was sick and miserably attempting not to cough up an entire lung throughout presentations and four hours of class.

And yet, I’m still smiling with memories of the evening.

It may have been presentation night, but we kind of made it into our own little party.

Sam shared cookies from the cafeteria, offering them up in that delightful English accent of his.

In the 45 minutes we had to spare between classes, part of the crew made a fast food run. Jake delivered vanilla milkshakes to Tracy and I upon his return.

Much of the evening was spent in laughter. And cohort inside jokes. And impromptu second presentations filled with more laughter. Did I mention wine and vanilla milkshakes?

Finals are over and now I’m getting a month long break from how and with whom I’ll be spending roughly the next 1.75 years of my life.

I’m giddy looking at the stack of non-school related books I’ll finally get to binge read and thinking about the family-filled holiday memories that I’ll be able to completely devote myself to making.

Still, I’m already just a bit sad for the day I’ll graduate with my MBA.

Because I know I’ll be looking back, thinking of nights like this. When we sat around laughing, drinking wine out of Styrofoam cups.

Hey, Sunshine.

Note: I began this post last Friday night, the last evening of July 2015. A lovely month indeed.

It’s Friday night and I’m on a self-date at Red Horn Coffee and Brewing Company. I’m drinking a coffee stout as we speak, but since it is Friday night I might go a little crazy and drink an actual coffee too. A place that sells both coffee and beer is basically my paradise. The only thing that could top this is if they opened a place next door that sold both books and cabernet by the glass.

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Life is sweet right now. July, in all its sweat-inducing humidity, has surprised me by being arguably my favorite month of 2015 thus far. It was fun mixed with a heaping side of self-fulfillment, and the result has me swooning over all of the things.

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The month began with travels and my best friend, two of biggest loves. Already a great start, and it was prophetic for the way the rest of July would play out.

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I spent my first weekend back in Texas out of town once more, this time at the parent-in-law’s celebrating the 4th of July with my beloved little clan.

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I came back to the Austin area and quickly jumped into adventures such as partying in a bathtub with gal pals at Whisler’s, marveling over the stunning views at Driftwood Estate Winery in Wimberley, Texas and face-flopping off of a small cliff into water at Jacob’s Well. My life is a collection of random and sometimes strange thrills. It’s a collection I pride myself on.

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July also consisted of a night of laughter on the Riverwalk with two of my best friends, a day of lounging out on the boat with my handsome hubby, and a weekend of poolside beer and margaritas with the cousins.

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It’s been bliss, y’all.

But it’s been more than that too. July was also productive and, at times, magnificently inspiring.

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I modeled for my first fashion company and covered a cooking class with incredible views and a four-course meal that left me completely mesmerized.

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I began volunteering at Dress for Success as an image consultant, which means I get to be a fashion guru for clients and YOU GUYS, IT’S THE BEST EVER. I cannot tell you how happy it made my heart to help dress up and love on the sweetest of ladies for the day. Helping women feel their most beautiful, and as one newly glammed up gal put it, “Like a million bucks” was a feeling that is really hard to top, y’all.

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Another recent thing for me? For the first time in my life, I’ve started seeing a therapist. It’s something I should have probably started as a teenager, but nevertheless starting in my mid-twenties has me feeling a new kind of healthy and happy. There’s a lot of feelings I’m coming to terms with and a big amount of self-realization occurring in such a short amount of time. It’s hard and challenging and so wonderful. Vulnerability is something that has terrified me for years, but in allowing myself to be more vulnerable, I have found that I am also allowing myself to feel more alive.

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Yesterday I was walking past a manager at work when he greeted me with, “Hey, sunshine!” Not even a handful of minutes later, I walked outside to see another manager who said hello by way of, “What’s up, sunshine?” I informed him that I had just been called sunshine less than five minutes prior to which he responded, “Yeah, you’re sunshine!” Amused by the redundancy, (I wasn’t even wearing yellow!) I texted both my best gal pal and my best dude friend to relay the quick story. Their contrast in responses made me laugh.  Meg replied with a sweet, “You’re bright and light up a room!” Best dude friend’s heartfelt response? “They probably think you’re twelve years old.” Fair enough.

Funny coincidence as it may have been, my new nickname felt fitting just the same. I am visiting pretty places, reading good books and learning and growing in ways that feel monumental. I’m surrounded by adventures and enchanting possibilities and people that I love, and all of this does seem a lot like sunshine. Like a beautiful and radiant summer day. I’m basking in this light for as long as I possibly can.

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(Pst – I got that coffee, and it was delicious. If anyone was wondering.)

Best Friendship And State Hopping, 2015

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I spent the end of June and the beginning of July in the best of ways — Exploring and traveling with my best friend. We danced the night away in downtown Baltimore, were beach bums for two days in gorgeous Bethany Beach, Delaware and went winery-hopping in lovely little towns of Virginia. Small world as it is, another close friend of mine recently moved from Texas to Virginia. Last summer, Hannah, Meg and I were exploring wineries in Texas. It seemed that we were picking up where we left off, sharing hugs and wine and adventures in just a slightly different location.

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Let me backtrack to the year 2001 and explain to you my long-term love for Meg Tucker. She and I have been best friends for fourteen years. We met when she was nine and I was twelve. I had walked around the block with my dog every day for months, praying for a best friend to move into the very house she eventually moved into. I was brokenhearted when I found out she was a measly nine-year-old with a crush on my little brother to boot. Luckily she let go of the infatuation when she heard him tattle on me, and I quickly decided to let go of the age difference. The instant connection we’ve always shared has led us to believe that we are friend soul-mates. Always, we’ve had a lot of qualities in common and a lot definitely not in common. Current examples: She’s very single and I’m very not. I love to travel and she often prefers a staycation. I jump into things and she takes her time. We both have an intense love for people, new experiences and open-mindedness. She’s an ENFJ and I’m an ENFP. Our extreme similarities mixed with our striking differences sometimes make us want to momentarily kill the other, often quickly followed by the next moment when we’re trying to catch our breath from the fits of laughter. We continuously learn from one another and are both more accepting and understanding because of it. I find it liberating that she’s one of the few people that I can freely snap at, and comforting that she knows things about me that I haven’t ever told her.

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Briefly back to 2015 now. In between all of our travels, we made our way to Ellicott City, Maryland to BBQ with Meg’s fam. Every time I so much as step inside their doors, I am swept away by a sense of complete comfort and nostalgia. Here is where I spent two weeks after graduating high school, and have come back to often ever since. This is the house I slept in after eighteen-year-old me got my belly button pierced for the first time; Where Mrs. Tucker fretted over what my parents would do to her when I got back to Texas. It’s where Meg woke me up early one morning by jumping on me and I, still half asleep, asked her the now infamous question: “Do you think I am an insect that you can squash beneath your grasp!?” Where Meg’s little brother once played guitar for us after my flight back home was cancelled, and where I giddily spent one more night basking in the glow of my second family. In a world where everything changes, the Tucker residence has been a constant of mine for so long. Where laughter, drinks and good conversation are always shared, where Mrs. Tucker provides the best of home-cooked meals, where Mr. Tucker will always make bad jokes, and where I am affectionately and always referred to as “Tina.”

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My evening this time around was spent just like I imagined – Drinking margaritas on the back patio, being in stitches over silly but treasured memories and staying up late chatting with Meg’s mama as Meggie snoozed on the blow-up mattress.

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Reminiscing on my week spent state-hopping with my childhood and forever best gal pal has left me with a plethora of new memories and happy feels. When I think of Baltimore, I think of partying until the wee hours of the morning, followed by sleeping on someone’s floor for four hours, as if I was still a twenty-one year old lad. When I think Bethany Beach, I think of a good summer read and mangoritas. I think of an exquisite creamy crab soup at a little patio café, near the beach and on a gloriously perfect day. I think of getting unexpectedly drenched by the waves, shrieking and giggling and frantically trying to save all of our belongings. When I think Virginia, I think of scenic drives, great wine and even better friendships. I think of rooftop bars and heartfelt, honest conversations. And when I think of Ellicott City, Maryland? I think of my northern home.

Love Drunk

“You probably shouldn’t tell him I said this, but Robby makes the perfect feminist husband.”, my friend Rachel told me as we sipped drinks downtown a few weekends ago.

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I laughed, because both of us knew he would probably deny this adamantly, but also because I realized that it was incredibly true.

I smile now thinking about another memory that comes to mind from a couple of weekends back. My husband and I were sitting on the patio at a favorite restaurant of mine, enjoying the perfect weather and our scrumptious meals. We had just finished kayaking at a nearby lake and were now soaking in the company of one another and time well spent. Robby was finishing his first and only beer of the day when he announced, “I feel drunk.” I was a little floored. This was coming from the man who, six years ago, could drink anyone I knew under the table. Who once told me stories of inebriated nights that nearly made me blush for him. Now he drinks so little that one beer can leave him feeling a little woozy.

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The day before the revelation that my husband is now a lightweight, gal pals and I had spent a beautiful day in Dripping Springs, Texas. We hopped around from wineries to a brewery to a quaint and delicious tapas restaurant. It was a day of perfection, magic and plenty of laughter. Sitting on the patio of a vineyard, listening to live music and chatting with my lady loves, the afternoon was exquisite and seemed to hold the promise of summer adventures soon to come. The same friend who called Robby a feminist mentioned in conversation that, though I’m married with a baby, I am able to do more than many single people she knows. I admitted that it doesn’t hurt to have that really awesome feminist husband of mine.

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I always inwardly chuckle when I hear comments like, “Oh, it’s so nice that your husband babysits.” or “It’s great that he watches her so you can get away for a bit!” It’s definite but unintentional gender role stereotyping– let’s be real, no one would ever say I was babysitting my own kid– but because I know no harm is meant, I’ve learned to laugh it off. Still, the truth is that getting out is not at all a rarity for me, and that Robby is far from a sitter. He is a dad and he is a husband, and a completely terrific one on both counts. I always know when I am adventuring that Miss Bryn is in the best of hands with her wonderful daddy. I’ll always take comfort in the fact that I have not just a husband, but a support system, a friend, a partner and a beautiful romance to call my own.

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Robby is the man I met nearly seven years ago, only better. He still tells the occasional inappropriate joke, has the same charming smile and loves cheap Mexican food. He has the same kind heart, happy disposition and southern accent that goes on for days. He’s the same, only more calm, more centered and more understanding. He listens better and tries harder. Over the years, I have had the honor of watching him become the most patient and loving man, and now father, that I have ever known. He also changes a mean diaper, and last night I caught him with baby in one hand while he pulled cookies out of the oven with the other. I didn’t know seven years ago that I was dating my own personal demigod in training.

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I realize and am trying to capture to memory what a beautiful season of my life–of our life– that this is. I’m raising my favorite little girl with the help of my favorite guy, and it’s the happiest of places to be. There are occasionally challenging moments right along with the magnificent ones, but hands down the hardest thing about these days is knowing that they won’t last forever.

Maybe my husband is onto something. Who really needs alcohol when you’re this love drunk?

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Just kidding, y’all. I still need my wine.

Anything for Adventure

I am smitten with 2015.

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It’s only February, and already the year has been completely packed full of magic.

I’ve brunched in Arlington, Virginia and toured monuments in D.C. with my best friend of thirteen years. I’ve dined–and met the famous PIEMAN– in Round Top, Texas with my handsome hubby at Royer’s Café.

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I’ve sipped wine with gal pals in the adorable town of Georgetown, Texas and near an extinct volcano at Pilot’s Knob Vineyard in Bertram. That particular night was spent with my Rachel face and her sweet mama, drinking a delicious red and watching the sunset with a scenic view. It was one of those gorgeous, flawless evenings that I know I will keep with me for a very long time.

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I’ve gotten puppy kisses and happy feelings whilst volunteer dog-walking at my local animal shelter, and good conversation with great people while volunteering at my nearby Alzheimer’s Center.

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Covering media events has given me the chance to do things like drink wine while trying on fancy-shmancy jewelry, drink more wine in a cooking supply store and eat plenty of delicious food.

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Running my first 10k of the year gave me the opportunity to eat complimentary donut holes once crossing the finish line. I do it all for the chocolate glazed, yo.

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My little lady is 10 months old now, and she is this outgoing, silly, happy, vivacious bubble of fun. She is a redheaded, blue-eyed version of her daddy, and has us constantly laughing with her antics and sweet personality. Watching her grow has been and continues to be this beautiful, wonderful, wild journey. And raising her with my best friend gives me copious amounts of joy on a daily basis.

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This past weekend I had a photo shoot in downtown Austin with one of my favorite photographers. Being navigationally challenged, I got lost trying to meet up with Dave and he had to find me. While shooting, I simultaneously explored new nooks and crannies of my beautiful city. And at the end of the shoot, I had wedged myself into a tiny little nook and cranny in an alleyway by a dumpster to get a good shot. Anything for adventure, y’all.

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After the shoot, I sat myself down with a good book, a notebook and a delicious cocktail at Halycon Coffee Lounge. Reading and writing in a coffee shop with a tasty, boozy drink felt a little bit like paradise.

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A little over a week ago, I started a project called Adventure Of The Day. I’m challenging myself to try a new escapade every single day, and am chronicling it all at adventureofthedayatx. I can’t tell you how inspirational and invigorating this self-made challenge has already been. Within a week’s time, I was given a spontaneous inside tour of a tea trailer, purchased plane tickets, made a quick jog down to the area of a cave preserve, and climbed to the top of a staircase to get a lovely view of Buda, Texas. Today I tried lavender hot cocoa for the first time, ate a truffle made with six different peppers and took a selfie with a barista. It’s the perfect excuse to do something great even on Mondays. Every morning brings with it the knowledge that something delightful -and often unplanned- will be happening in the very near future. Though I’ve made a career as a social media representative, I’ve been slow to the Instagram game in my personal life and have only occasionally posted on my first handle. Now I find myself giddily anticipating plans and excitedly wondering what my next new experience to post will be.

And I just can’t wait to see what adventures will be awaiting me in the next twenty-four hours. And the twenty-four hours after that. And the….okay, you get it. ADVENTURES AWAIT!

New Mexico/Arizona 2013

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My New Mexico/Arizona vacation was just as amazing and enchanting (Enchanting is one of my favorite words, and New Mexico is The Land Of Enchantment. How could I not be in love?!) as I hoped it would be. Here’s my trip favorites explained in pictures (and captions! And a video!):

Food. Oh guys, I ate so good. Banana pancakes, cheesy pesto pasta, whipped cream and chocolate covered waffles, jalapeno and pineapple pizza….I could go on. But I’m making myself hungry. So I’ll stop, I guess. :

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Las Cruces, New Mexico is known for their wineries. I am known for loving my wine. A rather perfect combination, eh?

wineeWhite Sands, New Mexico. Stunning. And so fun to play in! I asked to borrow sand sleds from young children. They obliged and then their parents offered to take pictures. In other words, I’m five at heart and folks are great.

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Ruidoso, New Mexico. Beautiful and quaint shopping area, nestled in the mountains of one of my favorite states.

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“The Thing”– Roadside attraction, gas station and museum all in one. Pretty impressive. The oddity of it all made it one of my favorite parts of the trip. It’s not everyday that I walk through a mystery door at a gas station in the middle of nowhere…. To then find myself outside the back of said gas-station looking at exhibits and following giant, painted footsteps from building to building……All whilst wondering what the heck “The Thing” could be. (I’ll save the surprise just in case you’re ever road-tripping Arizona.)

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The Rattlesnake Bridge of Tucson:

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Downtown Tucson, Arizona. And their adorable coffee shop. And yummy mimosas. And their fun wall art. Heck, I loved everything about downtown Tucson.

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The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Basically a humongous zoo, museum and playscape all in one. My kind of place, y’all.:

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Mission San Xavier Del Bac. Goosebump-inducingly gorgeous, historic church in Tucson.

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Scenic and dazzling views from the ski-lift at Mount Lemmon, Arizona 

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Making new friendly acquaintances. I just really love people. And I talk a lot. Katie told me she was half expecting me to walk out in arm-in-arm with a newly befriended person I met on my airplane ride to El Paso. She was half right. I did make a new buddy on the airplane, but she gave me her boarding ticket to look her up Facebook before making her way to the bathroom. In New Mexico, I made friends with a wine host whom we later had dinner with and two girlies at another wine tasting later that week. The owner of the store said that watching the four of us interact gave her goosebumps. I’ll definitely take that as a compliment!

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Beautiful views, everywhere we went. From Katie’s backyard all the way to our hotel room in Tucson, the mountainous scenery was absolutely breathtaking.

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More pretty views:

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Just getting to spend so much time, so many big laughs, so much 90’s-music-karaoke-filled-driving-time and so many fabulous adventures with one of my very best friends.

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To wrap things up, here’s a tiny video compilation of just a few of the good times had in New Mexico and Arizona. Caution: Do not watch if you do not want to see what “The Thing” is. Or if you have an understandable fear of white-girl dancing.

Needless to say, I had an absolutely marvelous time visiting Arizona for the first time and revisiting New Mexico with my Katiekins. (Or Katie, if we’re not doing nicknames here.) Life is pretty enchanting stuff, huh?