Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Summer Bucket-List

It seems lately, everyone's been making bucket lists. I'm not a big planner, so I can't imagine making a life-long list of things I'd like to do, before I kick-the-bucket. That seems way too ambitious! Instead, I'm starting small and making a Summer Bucket-List.

It's nothing crazy. I'm not planning to back-pack around Europe, climb the Alps, go scuba-diving or save lives, not that I wouldn't like to do those things! But, I'm starting with the things I think I can realistically do and achieve right away, in hopes that writing them down for anyone to see will make me more likely to accomplish them!

1. Get Healthier
~Eat more of the good stuff (fruits and veggies) and less of the bad stuff (processed and fast food).
~Exercise more, i.e. more than once a week

2. Spend More Time Outdoors
    ...and less time in front of the T.V.!

3. Go to at Least One Rockin' Concert

4. Finish Reading at Least 2 Books
I know this sounds easy, but I am a really slow reader! I'll probably try to tackle the Divergent    series. Literary Snobs, don't judge me!

5. Do Something Outside my Comfort Zone
~Something that scares me...either physically or socially/psychologically
~Ideas: zipline tour, whitewater rafting (with some class 4 and 5 rapids), perform at an open-mic night

6. Do Something Memorable
    A trip, fun event or just something out of the ordinary

7. Do Something Meaningful
    Volunteer or do something that makes a difference

I plan on sharing my progress and struggles as I try to tackle these throughout the summer. I may have some changes to make, or things to add along the way. I encourage you to make your own and share with friends and family, whom can help you accomplish your goals.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Lessons Learned from House-Hunting

Credit Specspaces via Flickr Creative Commonscaption
About a month and a half ago, I was just a wide-eyed, fledgling house-hunter, first embarking with my husband on our quest to find the perfect home, in a charming neighborhood, with everything on our wishlist and within our budget! Now, five offers later, after viewing the whole gamut of houses available on the market and soon to be, fingers crossed, a first-time home-owner...I'm a little more realistic.

After seeing everything from a fixer-upper with holes in the walls (like holes the size of windows, but without the window part) to a Florida-themed beach house that was nowhere near the beach, oh, and let's not forget the one with Civil War trenches in the backyard, you could say I've learned a few things:

Compromise

My husband will laugh when he see this, because he'll claim he had to compromise more than I did. But regardless of who did more, if you are looking for a home as a couple, some compromising will have to take place.

He wanted a man-cave, i.e. a basement, and fell in love with a place that he thought was perfect. There was just one little problem, which was that among the things I definitely did not want was a split-level (I don't know why, I just have this weird thing about them). So, we ruled that one out. On the other hand, there were some places I loved that were missing the man-cave factor.

In the end, we tried to consider not only what was important to ourselves, but what was important to the other person, and find a place to satisfy us both.

 

Give-up the "Dream" Home

I was told by some, "Your first home won't be your dream home," but this was a hard realization for me to swallow. The fact is, we just aren't able to get everything we want in a home just yet. Our realtor told us, "If you can get 80 percent of the things on your wishlist, you're doing pretty good." So, it may not have a swimming pool in the backyard, or the perfect kitchen, but as long as it fulfills all our Needs and most of our Wants, that's what counts.

Patience

One of my friends had her house on the market for about a year and half, before finally getting fed-up and taking it off. I had heard many, many stories like this; so, when we began our search, we were expecting to get a steal on some house that had been sitting on the market for months.

However, the market we encountered contradicted our expectations. We went to an open-house on a Saturday afternoon and made an offer that evening, only to find four or five other offers had already been made. We went in at full ask and got outbid. We were blindsided! What happened to the terrible housing market everyone's been talking about?

From that point on, it was tempting to jump at any decent house we saw for fear it would get snatched-up. We had to constantly remind ourselves to only pursue the ones that met all our criteria. But, once we found those, we had to act fast! This could be due to the fact that the metro-Atlanta housing market is so competitive, or that the housing market is improving as a whole.
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Ultimately, the takeaway from my experience was keep an open mind and, as my wise hubby pointed-out, it's just a house until you make it a home!





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cheap Dates for Classy Mates

 




With Valentine's Day approaching, many of us are starting to rack our brains for ideas. Honestly, I sort of dread Valentine's Day, because I don't like feeling socially obligated to buy chocolate to express my love to my significant other! 

Every year it seems to get harder to come up with something original that doesn't break the bank. And, when your trying to save (like me!) that's important. If you are in a similar position and need some ideas to get you moving, here are some suggestions for dates that are both romantic and budget-friendly.  

Picnic 
Go to a nearby park. Bring a blanket, some beverages, cheese and crackers, pasta salad, potato salad, or something of that sort and sandwiches. Also, remember the silverware and napkins! 

You can really make this as simple or fancy as you want. You can dress-it-up with some flowers and candles, etc. My husband and I are frequent picnicers and I'm always surprised how something so simple can be so fun.

Recipe Ideas: DirtyGourmet.com

Indoor Picnic
If the weather is bad, why not take the picnic indoors? Set-up your picnic blanket on the floor instead, and you still get the romance without the wind and mosquitoes! 

The Theater
While there's nothing like a Broadway show, there are many local theater companies and community theaters that put on great shows at a fraction of the cost. Going to the theater is also a nice change of pace from going to the movies.

Movie Theater Experience at Home
Instead of going out to a movie, make some buttery popcorn and have some candy, curled-up on your own couch with your honey at your side.

Camping
Camping can make for a romantic and affordable escape for you and your partner--at least once you've made the initial investment for a tent and a few other essentials.

Source: MusicFestivalJunkies.com
What you need:
-Tent
-Lighter/matches
-Lantern/flashlight
-Sleeping bag/blankets
-Pillows 
-Food and drinks

Recommended:
-Sleeping pad/mattress
-Cooler 
-Sandwich cooker (these are the bomb!)
-Skewers

If you're really ambitious try Glamping, glamorous camping.

Glamping Info and Destinations: http://glampinghub.com/

If you have some good "cheap dates for classy mates" ideas I haven't mentioned here, feel free to write in the comments!
 

 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fails and Scores of 2013


Fails and Scores of 2013 

Now into mid January of 2014, we've all had some time to reflect on the past year. Here are my picks for the most epic fails and scores of 2013. So, let's take a moment to learn from the failures and be encouraged by the successes in hopes that this year will be even better.


Fails

Congress
The Government Shutdown revealed how polarized Congress and our nation are politically. Both sides need to learn how to talk to one another and compromise!

The Miley Cyrus 'Twerk' Makes The Dictionary!Miley Cyrus's Twerking
First there was Britney, Lindsey, Amanda and now Miley. I don't know why people continue to be shocked when former Disney stars go from sweet to scandalous, but Miley's performance at the 2013 VMAs was the twerk heard round the world.

Obamacare
I'm not sure I'm willing to trust this administration with my health, when they can't make a decent website. But maybe it will be a good thing, if people can get past the glitches to sign up for it!

Lance Armstrong's Doping
Exactly a year ago, Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah. The fail comes not in his admission, but in his lying to the whole world for years.

Scores

TIME Magazine Cover, April 29 / May 6, 2013
Photo Credit: Mark Seliger for TIME
Malala Yousafzai's Courage
She was shot at age 15 by the Taliban for going to school. Now, at 17 she was Runner-Up for Time's Person of the Year (2013) for her courage in continuing to advocate for girls and women to pursue education, even in the face of threats and violence.


Diana Nyad's Swim
She was the first to swim from Cuba to Miami without a protective shark cage and she did it at age 64, proving that you're never too old to set records and fulfill your dreams.




The Royal Prince of Cambridge's Birth
Born in July of 2013, Prince George was instantly the talk of tabloids and heir to lands and fortune. He is one lucky baby.


Sources:
Time's Top Ten Everything of 2013
CNN.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Post-Pregnancy Photos

A Tale of Two Post-Pregnancy Photos
MariaKangWhatsYourExcusePhoto credit: Body Image Movement | Facebook 
These two post-pregnancy photos have been all over the media lately. The first photo of Maria Kang with the caption "What's your excuse?," has been in the line of fire with people labeling her a bully.
The second picture, along with others, have been posted by an Australian woman, Taryn Brumfitt, largely in response to Kang's photo. 

Brumfitt wants to paint a more realistic picture of women's post-pregnancy bodies, saying, "I’m on a quest to redefine and rewrite the ideals of beauty. Women have been brainwashed into thinking fat, wrinkles and cellulite are bad. They’re not. It’s just a part of being a human being."

Team Kang or Team Brumfitt?
After reading about the two women on Fox 8 WGHP, which seemed to be very pro-Brumfitt, I was unsure at first whether I was Team Brumfitt or Team Kang. While I haven't had a baby of my own yet, Kang and women like her give me hope that I can look great, even hot!, post-pregnancy. And, between the two, I know which photo I would rather have.

Ultimately though, I am Team Brumfitt, for this reason: in a world full or Photoshopped, Facebook pictures and glamorous profiles, she had the courage to be authentic. 

My Take
I don't know about you, but if I'm having a bad day, when I'm feeling fat or unattractive, I try to avoid Facebook, because I don't want to see pictures of people dolled-up at parties, the selfies of people in their workout clothes with six-packs and the beach-bikini photos. 

As much as we know it's wrong to envy, sometimes social media makes it particularly hard, because it preys on our insecurities. The internet is rampant with photos like Kang's, that show people looking their best, but few like Brumfitt's that draw attention to their flaws. 

Social media sites like Facebook allow us to project an idealized image of ourselves to the world, and I know I'm just as guilty of this as anyone. We are able to weed-through unflattering photos of ourselves and only post the best ones. We can share statuses of our accomplishments and success stories, while keeping our not-so-proud moments quite. But the problem is, our lives are much more than just the highlights. We can't be perfect every second of the day!

Maybe we should be alright with sharing some of the darker times. Maybe, like Brumfitt, we should post an unflattering picture now and then.

Source: Myfox8.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

Have Yourself a Stress Less Christmas

Have Yourself a Stress Less Christmas 

The countdown to Christmas has begun. Tis the season for holiday music, mistletoe, Christmas shopping, waiting in line and stress!

On Black Friday as I stood in line, one that went from the very front to the very back of an Old Navy store, I asked myself, "Why do we do this?" By this, I don't just mean the Black Friday shopping, which is a tradition for the females in my family, but all the holiday stresses and pressures that we go through each year.

While the holidays should be a time of celebration and enjoyment with friends and family, I often approach the holidays with a great deal of anxiety. We tell ourselves to plan ahead, to get things done early, and say things will be different this year. But, almost inevitably, Christmas Eve rolls around with presents still to wrap, recipes to make and shopping left to do. A stress free holiday seems just about impossible, but here are some suggestions for reducing seasonal stresses.

Be the Early Bird
I once knew a family that had all of their presents wrapped and under the tree by Thanksgiving. I am honest enough with myself to know that's never going to be me. But, I think that having all the presents purchased and wrapped a week before Christmas is doable. 

Another upside to starting early is you can keep a lookout for good deals. Black Friday is usually the best time to shop, because things are drastically discounted. While, the closer you get to Christmas day the more likely things are to sell out.

Savor the Season
There is pressure from society and retailers to get the perfect present. There's pressure from kids to get the it toy of the year. And there's pressure from family members or friends to throw and/or attend parties and functions.

But, ask yourself, what does Christmas mean to me? Think carefully about what your favorite things are and what you want to prioritize. I always enjoy going to see A Christmas Carol. Even though I've seen it so many times, something about a live performance makes it new every time. It's a great story that always puts things in perspective.

Whether it's an old tradition from when you were a kid or one that you start, it's important to take the time to do things that you can't do other times of the year. Preferably something that involves giving or reminds you of charity, peace and the positive messages of Christmas.

Take Care of Yourself
During the holidays more than ever, it's important to treat yourself and your body right. According to "The 'Merry Christmas Coronary' and 'Happy New Year Heart Attack' Phenomenon," an article from the American Heart Association Journal, there are significantly more heart attacks in December and January, specifically around Christmas and New Years, than any other time of the year. The culprit? Primarily, stress.

In terms of heart-health, the article advises avoiding "excess physical exertion...overeating, lack of sleep, emotional stress, illegal drugs, and anger...excess salt and alcohol intake." Does any of this sound familiar? Because, this pretty much sounds like my Christmas, minus the illegal drugs.

Avoiding these may be easier said than done, but it's a good idea to minimize these factors as much as possible. Think before you add that extra item to your plate, drink a little less alcohol and a little more water and get those extra Zs when you can.

Even if you're not immediately concerned with your heart, taking care of yourself overall will make you feel less stressed, grumpy and agitated. 








Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Graphic Design Portfolio

video 

Graphic Design Portfolio

Here's a little video I put together of my graphic design work thus far. It doesn't include everything but has most of the highlights.