sunshine injection.

Once a week I make a trip to TJMax. Not because I need anything, but because I like to soak it all in, and maybe snag a discounted platter. On Sunday, I spotted these Tulip flats at a much-reduced price...yet certainly more than I'd usually spend on a pair of shoes whose sunny hue is never recommended for one as pale-skinned as I.

"They are frivolous," I thought sternly to myself, as I unlaced my practical shoes and eagerly slipped my toes into the buttercream striped soles. "But so, so sweet..."

As I test drove them up the hectic shoe aisle, my mind flung open the door to my wardrobe. I flipped through mental hangers, wondering what a girl wears with silly yellow flats. The answer was this: Nothing in my wardrobe. It was likely that absolutely nothing would match. I sunk down onto a tiny bench, torn over these $30 ray-of-sunshine shoes. I gazed at the ceiling, telling myself that no daffodil shoe, in all it's perfection, could cure my depression. My eyes returned to the floor, where two sweet butter-yellow floral poms stared kindly back up at me. If it weren't for their lack of face, I'd swear I saw them smile. What's a girl to do?

And then I remembered my trick. Whenever I need a voice of reason, I ask myself what Gabriel would say or do. He's every bit analytical to my every bit emotional, so somewhere in the middle we're your average human being.

"Bethany, my love," he would say. "These yellow shoes are precisely what you need. I demand that you have them."

He only calls me "my love" in my mind, simply an embellishment for my romantic heart...a side effect of watching Pride and Prejudice seventeen too many timesBut, analytical or not, he would absolutely pull those shoes off my feet and march up to the counter before I'd have a second to protest.

So that's precisely what I did. And I've not regretted it since.


returning spring in my step.

Last night I had dinner with lovely Jessica + her sweet boy Graham. We found ourselves discussing hopes for the little places that are ours in the blogosphere, and the teensy line all bloggers walk to keep a balance between crafty displays of rainbows + sunshine OR deeper emotions that can lead to self-pitying tones. Those of you who write a blog, or read many blogs avidly, understand the balancing game to which I'm referring! I just try to keep things honest 'round here...so I'm not sure where that puts me.

While I'm nervous that I'll come across as a complete raincloud, I feel I must be totally honest: I've been real down. Beyond a case of melancholy and into the Top Five Ugliest Bethany VS Depression Showdowns in the ten plus years we've been acquainted. A case of the deep-down Uglies.

Describing it is impossible. If you've been there... you know. And if you haven't, I'm so happy you don't understand. Truly. In that place, there is a sadness, a loneliness that cannot be reached. Most days, the ugly thing stays locked in it's cage and I, aware of it's existence, tip-toe about while micromanaging my surroundings so as not to awaken the beast. But there are bouts where the beast angrily awakens, shaking himself free of his cage and rules the roost. Life halts and I find myself in bed more than I should. Crying at things I shouldn't. Spending hours convincing myself to take out the trash. During that time, the beast makes certain I'm aware of its presence both day and night.

At night, I lie awake in my lemon-painted bedroom and ask myself...Why does it exist?




I've asked myself this question one thousand times for a decade, and still no answer. And I've discovered this: 
There isn't a reason. It just is. It's in me and it's my battle. Like certain truths: why grass is green, why what goes up comes down, why birds fly south...we must eventually accept it as part of our world, whether we understand it or not. We could spend hours dissecting it, grasping the scientific + psychological reasonings. Perhaps we might benefit. Or we can simply take it at face value and adapt.

For the past week, I've been on a scavenger hunt for good. Dedicating myself to finding it in everything, even when it feels silly....because it's always there. In daffodils. In chats with friends. In sunsets and Chai lattes. 
Life is good at its core. Really, really extremely good when you decide to look. The sun is always shining somewhere in the world...when its dark, you've just got to wait until it rises again for you. My sun is rising again. Slowly, yet warmly. I feel it rising again, and that's all that matters, for in this sunrise I'm finding hope for today.

Pull up a patch of grass and stick around through this dawn. I promise things will be warm and beautiful again soon. :)


hi, i'm comic sans and i love the circus.

If we were required to submit life resumes, mine would read something like the above. As a fairly easy-going person, I try to embrace the simple things and avoid too much negativity...or at least keep my negativity harnessed and humorous. 
But if there's one arena in which I show no mercy, it is most certainly this: Fonts. 

Living it up in a scholarly building surrounded by Graphic Design, Multimedia Design and various other Art majors has left this hypersensitivity fairly untouched for the past year. Fellow art students take extreme care to match font to occasion and I see lovely, hip signage throughout the art building. But, I came crashing back to earth yesterday evening while entering the ladies room...where I spotted this sign, hung by a well-intending janitor. Oh...how pampered I have been:

 (Please forgive awful cell photo. This was my best inconspicuous attempt, lest I look like a Creepster Bathroom Photo-Taker.)

Fontslaughter in the first degree, I cried! Whomever created this sign needs to do serious time in the slammer...time spent learning a lesson in appropriate use of Comic Sans. (This slideshow might help: limit it to childhood parties and kindergarten newsletters, please!) This sign's real pièce de résistance lies in the student who scrawled, "or use comic sans..." at the bottom of the sign. Mind reader. Because really? If that sign caught me washing out my paintbrushes in the sink, as it tells me not to...it would probably  high-five me, invite me to its birthday party and offer to share a PB&J for lunch.

Is all this gum-flapping over fonts completely silly? Do fonts really emote, or carry personality...and are some inappropriate for use in certain situations?

Are you a font snob, too? If so, which fonts really chap your rear?

(And lest I sound holier-than-thou, I'll let you in on a secret: There once was a time in which I used Papyrus and thought it was pretty bad-arse. There. I said it. Whew.)


three-hundred-eighty-six...ways you guys helped japan.

Three-hundred-eighty-six comments, each one benefiting Japan to the tune of fifty cents a piece...but, oh how I wish everyone could have won! And, um, for this next part: It's silly, but I'm an emotional gal who hates leaving things unsaid. So, can we pretend I look Julia-Robert's-brand-of-hot, and will someone please cue the music + shove me off the stage when my time has run out? Here goes:

Last Sunday, as I worked on this project, I knew I was going to have to kiss my "Dreaming of a New Couch" nest egg goodbye to purchase giveaways + donate...and I'll be honest: I was a little torn over it. How selfish of me.  You've taught me that there are things greater than dreams of aqua settees. This place, my blog, is tiny and I never expected nearly four-hundred comments...all for JapanBut, in the past week I've learned that when you lead with a heart of compassion and  surround yourself with HUGE-hearted people, you cannot go wrong. Good things just happen. And while weaving words is my pastime, I could never weave the perfect tapestry of thanks to express how deeply humbled I was by the number of people who took time to leave hundreds of comments, send supportive emails, and spread the word via social networks about Give for Japan. So, this I've also learned: sometimes words just are not enough...and you must gracefully shut up.

Thank you so much for spending last week with me here at my little blog, in the name of an awesome cause. It was truly my pleasure....and Gabe and I will be making our donation to ShelterBox later this week.

If you see your name listed above, please drop me an email at wwrinserepeat@gmail.com to claim your prize! 


for the eager beavers.

When I hosted my first ever giveaway, last Valentine's day after having my heart whirled 'round the blender-o'-love just a few days prior, my super sweet blogger-friend Erin asked, "Can we comment extra times on the last day? I REALLY want to win this." Given that I was in need of some extra sunshine, I said "Why not?"...and lovingly referred to it as Erin's Rule: the rule that allows one extra entry on the very last day of a giveaway. Why? Because it's random. And fun....and the world needs more fun.

We're gonna rock that rule today, too. So my friends, if you're really, really itching to win one (or three!) of the five giveaways from this week, double back and drop an extra comment on those posts anytime Sunday!

Here's the low-down on what's up for grabs:

(enter to win the lotus bloom earrings here)
(enter to win the you+me pencils and classics gifting kit here)
(enter to win 'sweet love' and 'passion' prints here)
(enter to win the patina locket here)
(enter to win a custom address stamp here)

In the meantime, may you have the most wonderful weekend imaginable!


the big mama....giveaway day 5.

We've made it to day five! Can I be honest? While I'm enjoying this series of giveaways, I do miss the cathartic heart-sharing + raving over silly details of my day-to-day life. But, there's plenty of that for next week...and I would do well to shut up for a few days in the name of charity. So...onward!

The moment I laid eyes on this custom address stamp by Paper Pastries...I knew it was meant to be one of my giveaways. Let's face it: This stamp is seriously going to take your letter and package sending up a notch...and y'all know how I feel about trimmings + wrapping. 

(images via paper pastries)

Plus, you can feel good about every envelope you stamp, because the lovely Margaret of Paper Pastries is donating 100% of her custom stamp profits to the Red Cross. (Check out her blog here...it's so sweet!). And...the winner will get to select their preferred handlettering from the four swoonworthy styles above. 'Henri' has absolutely stolen my heart, fyi.

If you're really itching to win, you can enter three ways!Here's how:

1. Leave a comment with the font you'd select were you to win. Henri for me!

2. Share this giveaway via your blog, Facebook or however you like to squawk about cute stuff, then double back to let me know you've shared the news.

3. Become, or already be, a follower of my blog...and drop another comment to let me know!

If you could be so kind as to leave a separate comment for each entry, I'd be so thankful! It makes counting out the winner a much easier task for me!

Thanks so much for playing along! :)
For every comment left this week, 50 cents will be donated to ShelterBox's efforts in Japan...so chat it up, my friends! This week's giveaways will remain open until Sunday evening, and I'll announce the winners on Monday, March 28th. As always, the giveaways are warmly open to my friends across the pond!


give for japan...giveaway day 4.

Math and I were never pals. Algebra, specifically. Solve for X? I'd rather spend my time reading Tiger Beat's feature on Lance Bass, thankyouverymuch. Ten years later I've yet to use anything beyond 8th grade calculations in real life. And half the time...my calculations are purely to amuse myself. Here's how I do math now:

1 golden birdie
2 handstamped leaves
27 glorious inches of chain

30 things to love about this Patina Locket

Chew on that, former Algebra professors. But really, there are at least 30 things to love about Menuet Designs. The first item on the lovable list: a 20% donation of all sales to Japan Red Cross...such a kind gesture. But second only to their kindness is their whimsical style which leaves me feeling like it's spring...even though I just spent half an hour scraping inches of ice off my windshield. Lovable item number three? The lucky-lucky winner will get to personalize by selecting two handstamped letters they'd like to hang close to their heart. How sweet!

Throw your hat in the ring! Here's how:

Leave a comment sharing the two letters you'd chose to hang 'round your neck. For me, it would be B & D...for my best friend, Becky and my sister, Dana.

And for an extra entry, share this giveaway via your blog, Facebook or however you like to squawk about cute stuff, then double back to let me know you've shared the news.

Thanks so much for playing along!


For every comment left this week, 50 cents will be donated to ShelterBox's efforts in Japan...so chat it up, my friends! This week's giveaways will remain open until Sunday evening, and I'll announce the winners on Monday, March 28th. As always, the giveaways are warmly open to my friends across the pond!


give for japan...giveaway day 3.

Welcome to Day Three, friends! It was my blog friend Jamie who got my wheels spinning about ways to get involved with the crisis in Japan. When she posted a list of ways we could help, she highlighted Madeline Bea, a photographer who committed to donating 100% of her proceeds to disaster relief efforts in Japan. Of course I had to hop over and check out this big-hearted lady.

And oh-my-gorgeousness. Time faded away as I clicked from photo to photo, finding myself lost in her world of blooms and vintage whimsy. Refreshing. Inspiring. Romantic.

So, today I'm giving away two of Madeline Bea's prints, an 8x10 of Sweet Love and a 5x7 of Passion. Both are positively perfect to hang in your creative space...a little boost of dreaminess when you've lost yourself in a day of laundry and dishes.
(photo via madeline bea)
(photo via madeline bea)

I'm sure by now you all know the drill, but just in case...here's how to enter:

Leave a comment sharing with me the best thing you've hung on your walls. A tad narcissistic, but my fav is a collage from early in my art program...it was the first thing I created that I really, really loved.

And for an extra entry, share this giveaway via your blog, Facebook or however you like to squawk about cute stuff, then double back to let me know you've shared the news.

Also, if you missed giveaways Day 1 and Day 2...make sure to head over and comment!


For every comment left this week, 50 cents will be donated to ShelterBox's efforts in Japan...so chat it up, my friends! This week's giveaways will remain open until Sunday evening, and I'll announce the winners on Monday, March 28th. As always, the giveaways are warmly open to my friends across the pond!


give for japan...giveaway day 2.

I'm particular about my writing utensils. For a while it was black pens only, and then I slowly opened my world to include black felt tip pens...then really made a jump when I embraced old-fashioned pencils. You know...the kind that require effort and sharpening. They're charming. And life needs a little more charm, don't you think?

So, it's really no wonder that I fell in love with charming Giveway #2: "Me & You Pencils", a set of six natural wood pencils which adorably complete the phrase "We go together like...". And here's where charming meets oh-so-lovely: For every set of pencils purchased, Knot and Bow is donating $8 to relief efforts. We love that. (And by "we" I mean "me"...but I'm certain you love it, too.)

(images courtesy of Knot and Bow)

But there's more! Because this week is all about giving...because I'm a sucker for a pretty package...and because I'm certain one of you would love it...this giveaway also includes Knot and Bow's The Classics Gifting Kit. A touch of everything a girl might need to wrap a pretty package for any occasion or scrapbook her heart out. We're talking baker's twine, ribbon, glassine bags, kraft paper, tags...and that's just the start.

Take a gander at the wrapping classics below! Swoonworthy, no? :)

(images courtesy of Knot and Bow)

Entering this giveaway follows all the classic rules. Here's how to win:
  • Leave a comment on this post with your writing utensil preference...are you a pen girl? Pencils? Do you know how to get down with a calligraphy pen? You know you have a favorite!
  • And for an extra entry, share this giveaway via your blog, Facebook or however you like to squawk about cute stuff, then double back to let me know you've shared the news.

Thank you, a million times, to all those who have participated so far in my little week of Give for Japan. I'm beyond thrilled. If you missed it, don't forget to throw your hat in yesterday's giveaway ring, because those glitzy baubles would look fantastic on you.


As always, the giveaways are warmly open to my friends across the pond! This week's giveaways will remain open until Sunday evening, and I'll announce the winners on Monday, March 28th. For every comment left this week, 50 cents will be donated to ShelterBox's efforts in Japan...so chat it up, my friends!


giving for japan...day 1.

Like most creative types, I'm an over analyzer. My over analyzing tends to kick-in at the silliest times....for example, while selecting something lovely to benefit Japan. Hours could have ticked by, while I sifted through Etsy in search of that perfect, perfect, perfect item that felt hopeful, organic and gentle. Aaaaand, that's why I'm an art major. Because I use ridiculous words to describe jewelry.

Thankfully, ShihoYamashita, an Etsy shop positively dripping with natural shapes, metallics and romantic pops of color caught my eye right away. Shiho lovingly creates all her jewelry by hand, and is so sweetly donating 30% of her sales to Japan relief efforts. Isn't that fantastic? If we needed a good reason to buy breathtakingly-chic jewelry...now we have one. Hooray!

So, ladies...I give you Giveaway Number 1, something that's one part sweet + one part flirty: The Lotus Bloom Earrings.

(photo courtesy of Shiho herself)

Aren't they flawless? All the beauty of spring...wrapped up in one flirtastic pair of earrings. I would wear these to the movies...to class...to the grocery store. On a date, whenever that happens again. In a box, with a fox and while darning socks. I would wear them here and there...I would wear them everywhere

That being said...I might have to buy my own when this is all said and done. :)

How to win:

Simply leave a comment on this post letting me know where you'd wear these beauties!

And for an extra entry, share this giveaway via your blog, Facebook or however you like to squawk about cute stuff, then double back to let me know you've shared the news.
All of this week's giveaways will remain open until Sunday evening, and I'll announce the winners on Monday, March 28th. For every comment left this week, 50 cents will be donated to ShelterBox's efforts in Japan...so chat it up, my friends!

for japan...guest post.

Especially touched by the tragedy in Japan and the efforts being made to help the Japanese, my guy Gabriel asked if he could write a guest post this week, sharing a very sweet memory of Japan. Of course I said no. I tease. I said yes, absolutely...100%. Gabriel's also doing a little donation piggy-backing: like me, this week he'll donate a quarter for every comment left on my little blog to ShelterBox

All told, each comment left this week is worth a 50 cent donation from us. Hooray! Giving is even more exciting when you're not sure the amount you've committed to, and when you've got a partner...so we're looking forward to this week! 

Later today I'll be back with a giveaway. In the meantime...take it away, G...


When I read Bethany's last post, explaining how she'd be contributing to relief efforts in Japan, I was so proud of her. And I felt lucky to be with someone so kind and giving. (Bethany interruption: I didn't tell him to say that. Cross. My. Heart.) But it was deeper than that, because Japan was the place I called home for four years while in the military. And it's a place that is full of exceptionally kind people.

Just an example:  While in the Navy, I was stationed in Sasebo, a tiny town south of the main island of Japan. Being raised in the big city, I decided to spend a weekend in much larger Fukuoka.  A friend traveled with me to Fukuoka, but I would have to return alone to Sasebo. At the end of the exciting weekend, I packed my bags, consulted my pal for directions and headed off to the train station...the bustling multi-level train station. I found myself staring blankly at the train route map, wracking my brain to recall the directions I'd received just hours earlier...but nothing came

And then a miracle. A sweet, older Japanese woman approached me. She could speak as little English as I could Japanese, but had deduced that I was in the Navy...and from the look on my face, that I was extremely confused. In broken English she asked if I was returning to the base in Sasebo, I nodded and she fed my cash into the ticket machine, selected the correct ticket, handed it to me and followed me onto the train. After riding in silence for some time, I brokenly asked her which stop was hers.

"We passed it," she said. "I'm just getting you safely to Sasebo."

I was amazed. This woman had ridden 45 minutes past her stop and spent several dollars out of her pocket to make sure that a complete stranger made it safely to his destination. I thanked her profusely and offered to pay for her return ticket, but of course she refused. In time, the train pulled into Sasebo, I offered her my best "Domo arigato", a smile and we parted ways.

Had this been the only stunning act of kindness I witnessed in Japan, I'd chalk it up to luck and my good timing. But the people of Japan never ceased to amaze me with their kindness. If ever I was lost, a friendly local was willing to walk with me. If blocked by language, they waited patiently until we understood each other. Always, always there to help...even complete strangers. And throughout this recent tragedy, it has been so good to see others step forward to show kindness to the people of Japan.


Back to me (Bethany, that is)...and I so have to agree with Gabriel. Although I've never been to Japan and have no ties to that country, the kindness of others is so touching. I read a quote over at Alivia's blog that went something like this:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."

How lovely and true. While my first reaction to disaster is engrossing myself in TV coverage, crying for days as I put myself in the shoes of mothers, daughters and friends whose world has been torn apart...but, I should also cry tears of joy over the stories of hope, help and kindness. And I should allow these stories to inspire me to give. Not just in tragedy...but always, to anyone in need.

So, come on back later today and help me help Japan in the littlest way....and possibly win some gorgeous jewelry. 

It's really win-win, my friends. :)


help for japan + giveaways for you.

(Necklace was a gorgeous gift from Anna of WSAKE)

I was flying to Santa Cruz, last Friday as news of the earthquake and tsunami hit the US. Rushing through layovers and boarding calls, I didn't have much time to absorb exactly what had happened...I just knew it was badOn Saturday, we stood overlooking the bay, counting sunken boats and broken docks. While surprising, what I saw was nothing compared to what had ravaged a country an ocean away. My stomach jumped and turned, strangely frightened by each wave I watched...imagining the emotions of those who had clung desperately to loved ones as their world washed away.

What's a girl to do...especially when she's an ocean away?

 Given that I, a little midwestern girl, had coincidentally found myself in one of the few places in the US effected by the tsunami...on the exact day of the tsunami, it meant I should do something. I could just give money, I know. But, as always, I find it more fulfilling to support causes by spreading the love around. So, next week, I'll be featuring giveaways every day...and each item made by an artist who is donating proceeds to Japan relief projects. All you'll have to do is leave a comment and promise to send some prayers (or good mojo if you're not religious) in the general direction of Japan and you could win.

In addition to giveaways, for each comment left on next week's giveaway posts, I'll be donating a quarter to ShelterBox, an organization sending relief boxes to families in Japan...blessed boxes containing tents, blankets, cooking utensils and other vital items that will make life a little easier.

Please be sure to drop by next week. :)


don't leave me alone with a pup.

I grew up with a playful kitten, who grew into a stand-offish cat that never gave us those pleading eyes...the kind that long for a stray pepperoni slice. Therefore, I have not learned to say "no" to begging pets. When my ex-boyfriend and I had a kitten, most of our fights began with me feeding the kitten things that no animal should ever eat. Macaroni and cheese. Pizza. Licorice.... 

When we split, he took the cat...the best option for all involved, given that the cat would have ballooned to 50 lbs in my presence. 

What can I say? I have soft heart...and I want to share the food-love. This proves to be especially dangerous when I visit my best friend, and am left alone with Wyatt, their gentle and sweet pit. Today, while Wyatt's parents were at work, I set out to teach him an old school trick. Given my inexperience with pups, Wyatt and I found ourselves covered in dog slobber, and burning through the remnants of a bag of pretzels. He patiently drooled while I balanced pretzels on his nose, and applauded his efforts...clumsy as they may be.

We've successfully completed this "trick" twice, both times the pretzel balancing no more than a nanosecond before Wyatt destroyed it. I'm certain it was a fluke. Now I'm out out pretzels, and we're both feeling like this...


from a little window on pacific avenue.

In the past ten months I've boarded over 20 flights, and it's official: the suitcase I purchased last spring is kaput. But in all this traveling, the broken suitcases, cancelled flights and boarding calls, I've discovered this: Finding me is easiest when I'm far from home. My mind is clear while pounding the pavement to make it to a connecting flight, or while people-watching from an open cafe window, as I did this morning in downtown Santa Cruz. In those moments, I fulfill no role: I'm simply  existing, delighting in everything around me...even a soggy five mile walk in the afternoon mist. The anonymity of travel leaves me feeling inspired, jotting furiously in my journal, smiling foolishly at locals who must find me looney...gutsy, even. Gutsy enough to slip into a Monday matinee completely solo, happily sipping my grapefruit Izzie in a theatre surrounded by white-haired senior citizens.

Travel just does something to you. Whether it be a journey of 50 or 1500 miles, you pack your suitcase, open your mind to adventure, experiencing anything that comes your way. You leave little pieces of your heart wherever you go and in the strangest way, you'll never be whole again. You'll return home and think of those places often, even visit them again, but they'll never be quite the same.

And so I've decided...perhaps the finest part of travel is in the remembering.


getting in shape month one: unmentionables.

Warning: If you're my dad, or you're easily scandalized by a woman speaking openly about the effect of exercise on her unmentionables drawer, stop here. I'm a little surprised I'm sharing this, but what haven't I shared here? Weight loss, weight gain, heartache, triumphs and the like. I promised updates about my personal training + diet...so, here it is.

It happened nearly overnight. On Thursday morning, I’d returned home from the gym, showered and dressed just like always. But on Friday, I returned home from the gym, showered and while dressing, suddenly found myself staring at my reflection, aghast at my sagging bra.

Bra shopping had always been easy, six years of living in the same size provided a comforting constant as the rest of me fluctuated within a six size spectrum, feeling itty bitty as a size 8 and quiet unhappy at a size 18. Unlike pants or tops, I knew exactly where I could find my bra size: in the middle of the rack, nestled between the B’s, which seemed much too small in partnership with my hip size, and D’s that seemed overwhelming for my short stature. My size was excellent for a short, curvy girl, and though I’d lost fifty pounds over the past few years…it had never wavered.

But now, after three weeks with a personal trainer, I was seeing the cup half empty. In the last month I’d given up soda, implemented an under 1500 calorie rule, built a 4-day a week gym routine and learned to run on the treadmill for ten minutes without dying. But this? I’d not signed up for a breast reduction.

Of course I’d no other choice than to don a sports bra that day, unfeminine as it might be. Any other selection from my unmentionables drawer would have simply drowned me. It was the best I could do for the day. Saturday would require a trip to the mall to find a few new unmentionables.

And after buying a few new things, I must say: What first seemed disappointing, I now rather like. My necklines can dip a bit lower without raising a judgmental eyebrow, and I can now wear long necklaces, whereas before they hung like a strange bejeweled waterfall over my larger chest. Now they hang sweetly, naturally. Buttons don't pucker across my chest. And I will tell you this: it has opened up an entirely new window of unmentionables…delicate items, free of poking wires, complicated padding or straps that slice into my shoulders.

After chatting with my trainer, I've discovered that this isn't too unusual when incorporating strength training for the first time. Overall: month one of personal training has been great. I've lost seven pounds and done things in the gym I'd never have tried solo.

But, here’s hoping certain things don’t continue to shrink. Although I love the thought of a smaller me, I’d prefer to maintain a few womanly curves.


a little care: st. patrick's day.

Recently I've had a few comments from those who are also in long distance relationships...so, hello girls. :) We're in this together. I'm making a pledge to share more regularly my care packages, just a few ideas on what to send your guy. Sans the major holidays, in time it gets more difficult to put together a care package...don't you agree?

Well, when it comes to packages: I'm a theme girl. Incase you've lost count, St. Patrick's Day is nine days away. Oh, what's that, you say? No one counts down to St. Pattys Day?

As of 2011 this girl does. Given my international adventure to the Emerald Isle last August, I couldn't help but send Gabe an Irish-themed care package. I spent the last few weeks keeping my eyes peeled for anything green...and a little time convincing myself I could bring candy into my apartment without eating half of it.

Here's what I sent:

1 tin of green nonpareil chocolates
1 tin of green M and M's
Mint truffles
2 pairs of St. Patty's boxers (Do I share that? A smidge embarrassing, but there it is.)
Apple flavored rock candy
Doublemint gum
Chocolate gold coins
This St. Patty's shirt

...and some other green things I can't remember. Because I'm all about the wrappings and trim, when I spotted these downloadable vintage Irish postcards, I plunked them on cream cardstock and modge-podged the crap out of this box.

I am not going to lie to you: It was pretty stinkin' cute. Like something you might find in a leprechaun forest. Gabe was impressed, too. Word on the street is the boys got a lil' jealous of Gabriel's care package. So, last night I whipped up some cookie treat bags for the entire gang. And yes. I'm in the midst of a torrid love affair with paper doilies.

This year, I'm celebrating St. Patrick's Day in a much grander fashion than in years past: a dinner party. Although Gabe won't be here, we decided to start a tradition of cooking a homemade Irish feast each year...what with our tie to Ireland it only feels right. It might be a few St. Patty's days until we can do it together, so for now it's up to me to keep the homefires + traditions burning. This will prove to be especially interesting given that I never, and I mean never, cook. The only true homecooked meal I've enjoyed in the past year was either from mama or Gabriel, who is an excellent cook.

I'll be on a return flight on the real St. Patty's day so I'll be partying a few days later. Say a prayer for me on Saturday the 19th. I might just go down in a blaze of Colcannnon and Shepherds Pie...but I'll die trying.


spring break surprise!

When my best friend and I were in high school, we occupied lengthy British Literature classes by flying note-bearing paper airplanes back and forth when the professor turned his back. Seven years older and wiser, we still use airplanes to connect...but instead of throwing them, we board them.

My sweet Gabriel spent Saturday evening, after realizing how down I was, at his desk in Iraq searching for the one thing that would cheer me: a last-minute flight to my best friend in California, a little spring break. He insisted that I go, even calling all three airlines on my itinerary to make sure I'd have a window seat, my absolute favorite. I am not entirely certain what I did to deserve a guy this sensitive, supportive and loving...but I'm not going to spend time analyzing that. Instead I will simply pack my bags and head into the sunshine that is my very best friend's arms.

Four packed days of midterms and then it will be one week of all girl time and Santa Cruz sunshine. :)


no one can cry while holding a balloon.

Life has been...emotional to say the least. So I bought myself a cheer-up balloon, not knowing it would be so large I might chance popping it as I squeeeeeezed it into my backseat.

Goodbye-days aside, I've never cried about Gabe and my long-distance conundrum. On my loneliest days, I simply theorize that there are many other people in the world who deserve to shed tears over love, and I, being blessed in simply having it, am certainly not one of them. It's always worked, my brave and selfless recitation, until last Thursday, when I sobbed into the phone so fiercely that no sound came out. Iraq then saw fit to cut off that phone call no less than nine times, and during the precious few moments of functioning phone service there was such a delay that conversation became impossible.

Long-distance...it's exhausting. I bury deep most negative thoughts about distance, as it's presently a fact of life for us and no amount of complaints or loathing will change the situation. More than its being entirely idle, complaining only makes Gabriel feel guilty for his absence and me, even more alone. But, I can't hold it in much longer: It's wearing on me. International distance is no cakewalk. (Mmm. Cake. Have I mentioned I'm on a diet, too? More about that next week.) It's rather like climbing aboard the merry-go round and, naively believing it will be all giggles and good times, asking for a spin. The first few go-arounds are exhilarating manageable, but after a while all you can do is hang on, try not to vomit and wait for someone to mercifully bring it to a stop. When there's no visible finish line in sight...it's just 'round and 'round, forcing you to lose track of days both past and to come.

And on another front, I'm looking for a new home. My current tiny nest has been loved through and through for three years...absolutely to bits. But, I expect life to be changing in the next year and I'm in need of a place that's slightly larger than what I have now. In a perfect world, I'd wave a magic wand over my place, the living room would suddenly have hardwood floors + ten extra feet and that one tiny, pesky wall would come crashing down like the walls of Jericho. Everything else would stay exactly as-is, and when life changed there would be room for two of us here...forever and ever. Places steal little bits of my heart...and when I leave this little apartment, I'll leave a bit of my heart behind as well.

A series of those days has filled my last few weeks, and my closest girlfriends are far-flung...too far to allow me a teary dinner with someone who doesn't think my emotions over phone calls and apartments are frilly ridiculousness. (Although, in the grand scheme of things, they are, I know.) All I want in the world is to come home to Gabriel, an apartment so perfect I could cry, a relationship free of phones + computers, and a night spent ordering from our fav Thai place and watching nerdy documentaries. Just the ol' life of your typical couple...predictable Friday night dates and the occasional tiff over a dirty sock.

Tomorrow will come, and I will find myself one day closer to getting off this ride, but for now I will buy myself balloons and nail polish.

love on {modern} film*.

I don't take photos of people, as it makes me incredibly nervous. So, when a newly-engaged friend of the family asked if I'd be willing to snap some playful engagement photos, I was thrust headlong into at least three hours of internal ping-pong. 

Ping. Pong. Ping. 

My poor family happened to be with me as I ping-ponged from excitement over a new challenge, to sincere worries that it was unethical for me, the girl who insists that wise couples should invest in a professional for wedding photos, to say yes to this request. Incase you've not noticed, I'm
soooo not a professional. Honestly. Eventually, my family convinced me that engagement shots, unlike weddings, are much more casual and therefore I shouldn't feel badly for giving it a whirl. I couldn't screw anything up that couldn't be reshot by a true pro.

Given that I've known Becca for over ten years, we were raised within six blocks of each other
and our parents went to high school together...by day's end my heart had said yes-yes-yesBut the morning of our photo date, though I'd found a location, staged a lil' something in my tiny apartment and studied hundreds of e-photos for pose-spiration, my mind nervously pounded, "What have you done?!"

Yet, it was absolutely so, so much fun. Becca and Tom were brimming with laughter and love. Cheerily game for everything I suggested, they even sat on an ice rink for a hot chocolate date...making my first-ever attempt at portraits a total breeze!

As I poured over the photos later that afternoon, I couldn't help but get misty-eyed. B and T were so sweet. I'd captured love on film*...smiles + kisses + laughing piggyback-rides, and although my photos weren't perfect...

....I'd enjoyed every second of it. :)

*Edit: By "modern film", I truly mean love on SD card. Apologies to anyone I unintentionally misled! I'm quite certain I haven't loaded true film since 1996. Modern times are just not as charming as days gone by. Sigh.


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