Thursday, February 28, 2013

Letters from Home

The mind of a seven-year-old is apparently a funny place - a place where the things that matter are candy and show and tell. I can't stop reading this little note and laughing at the line, "you were so sweet when you got me peanut butter cups."Truth be told, I had completely forgotten about putting together that show and tell project more than a year ago.

I'm feeling a little sentimental this week as Sean gets ready to deploy for the year. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have siblings, that some of you have lost siblings, and that some of you may not get along with the siblings you do have - but I consider myself blessed to have such funny, thoughtful, little brothers.

So tell me, if you have siblings, what is your favorite memory together?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | New Mexico Plans

I guess this is our way of telling you, those of you who haven't already heard, that it's decided - we're moving to New Mexico. When I started this blog post at 5:15 this morning, I was thrilled, high on the excitement or a new job, a new school, a new place. Now, after another day of house searching? Well, I'm not writing with quite as much enthusiasm.

If you've followed the record of my travels, you may realize that I've never actually been to the Land of Enchantment. That being said, I feel as though I've wandered through the state vicariously from Trevor's stories, photos, and dreams of someday, one day visiting together.

Now, as we're making real, tentative plans to not only visit but to move to the state, I've got a list of places I'd like to see and things I'd like to do when we get there.

1 // The Taos Pueblo ranks high on my list of places to see because of Trevor's attachment to the area.  I find it astonishing that an adobe pueblo could be inhabited for more than 1,000 consecutive years. Now, 150 people live within the pueblo full-time without running water or electricity.

2 // Each fall, Santa Fe builds and burns the world's largest marionette, the Zozobra. Also known as "Old Man Gloom", the giant figure is filled with scraps of paper containing the troubles and worries of the cities inhabitants. The idea is that in burning Zozobra, all the worries and troubles of the year will also be burned away.

3 // The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was on my list for 2012 - when Trevor moved to Montana, I hatched a crazy plan for us to meet in Albuquerque. For obvious reasons, we never made it. The fiesta is the largest annual international event held in the U.S., and the most photographed event in the world. Hopefully in 2013 I'll be there to photograph it myself.

4 // If you're familiar with Natural Born Killers, you will know why seeing the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge makes my list. Unfortunately, I think it is a bit of a lofty goal (ha!) considering my fear of heights - after all, it is the 10th highest bridge in the country.

5 // Perhaps the most nonchalant item on my list is a visit to Tribe's Coffeehouse. While it may not be "the old dirty Tribes" of Trevor's stories, his handwriting is still on the walls. Besides, I've heard about Mama Tribes' chai recipe for years.

6 // The Santa Fe Indian Market is my second nod to Native American Culture. I'm always intrigued by art festivals and one filled with turquoise, culture, jewelry and pottery is obviously at the top of my list.

7 // When I first started actively searching out great photographers, I came across a series of portraits a photographer had taken of her perhaps five-year-old daughter. The portraits were to celebrate her birthday and while the little girl was dressed in a pink, short-sleeved princess gown, she walked barefooted in what looked like snow. Ever since seeing that series of photos, visiting White Sands National Monument has been on my bucket list.

8 // Though not Catholic, I am always impressed with cathedral architecture and stained glass. For that reason, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and seeing the spiral staircase at the Loretto Chapel make my list.

9 // The Pecos National Historical Park is another site that makes my list because of its importance to Trevor. While I don't know much about the history of the Pecos Pueblo itself, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to see preserved wagon ruts from the Old Santa Fe Trail or the Glorieta Pass Battlefield.

10 // In our bathroom hang several small original paintings from New Mexico, one of which features the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks. After visiting Sedona, I became enamored with volcanic rock formations and can't wait to visit these which were produced six or seven million years ago.

So tell me, have you ever been to New Mexico? Any of the places I've mentioned? What do I need to add to my list?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Recipe | Citrus Vinaigrette

It seems that every winter, I am met with the same surprise at the realization that citrus fruits are in season. Entering the grocery store to a pile of orange, clementines, and grapefruits - all seemingly bright and cheerful - is a welcome change from snow and gray skies, though.

This week, our co-op basket was filled with citrus fruit, rainbow carrots, eggplant and colorful leaf lettuce. Imagine my delight. While the carrots and other hardy vegetables were quickly roasted or set aside for recipes, I couldn't figure out what to do with the two grapefruits carefully balanced on top of our fruit bowl.

Last week, dinners consisted on spinach salads with carmelized onions, grilled pineapple and a honey lime dressing.  I quickly realized that a citrus vinaigrette would be a great way to use the extra fruit but would also be perfect for the huge leafy bunches of lettuce we needed to eat this week. After doing a quick search for "citrus vinaigrette," I was overwhelmed with inspiration but without a recipe that seemed quite right. Instead, I created my own.

Aside from juicing two oranges and a grapefruit, this is a simple dressing - created using only a pair of tongs, a small sauce pan, and either a glass mason jar or a glass bowl and whisk. And washing a few small dishes will always beat cleaning a blender or processor, in my opinion.

While the recipe is simple, it's the perfect way to make use of winter's produce selections and so I thought I would share. I'm looking forward to serving this dressing over leaf lettuce salads with orange slices and chopped green onions. If you live in a region with seafood, it would also be great with salmon or another fresh fish.

1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
1 Tsp of Fresh Orange Zest
2 Tbsp of Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp of Honey
1/4 Cup of Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1/2 Cup of Fresh Orange Juice
1 Tsp of Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste


Combine fresh grapefruit and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, add honey. Turn the burner to low and allow the mixture to simmer for 3-5 minutes or until 1/2 cup of liquid is remaining. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.

In a small glass bowl, whisk together juice, orange zest, salt and pepper. Add balsamic and dijon. Whisk until completely combined. Then, slowly add the olive oil while continuing to whisk the mixture.

Makes enough dressing for 4 - 6 salads depending on preferences.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Snapshots from this week: 
1 // Roasted rainbow carrots & yukon gold potatoes from our co-op this week. 
2 // Buddy has developed this new habit of sitting on us as soon as we sit on the couch. The only weirder thing? Trevor's mustache.
3 // Our Friday night treat: BLT sandwiches with avocado. 
4 // A favorite sentimental spot in our house, the fridge view I have while chopping veggies. 

Favorite posts this week: 
The Dreamers | short story #2  - Pastor's Girl's Ponderings
Distressed & Studded High Waisted Shorts DIY - Blythe Ponytail Paraders
The Malaga Cove, the Old Fashioned, the very low-key weekend - Excelsior Lady
Broiled Salmon and Roasted Garlic Cream Noodles with Crispy Cauliflower + Toasted Pine Nuts. - How Sweet It Is
Oh What A Place - Girl with a Movie Camera

This week I'm... 

Looking for a great new book to read. I never finished Eight Girls Taking Pictures since it really boiled down to a story of promiscuity rather than photography. The next book that I had checked out from the library turned out too frightening for me. Suggestions? 

Cooking a whole list of things! So far today, I've baked more cinnamon rolls (are you surprised?), roasted carrots and potatoes, baked a pork tenderloin, made a citrus vinaigrette (you'll see that recipe tomorrow) and made dinner, too. 

Waiting for Spring! I can't wait to plant a new herb garden. This week, Walmart stocked its shelves with succulents, mini cacti, and fresh herbs ready to be planted. 

Thankful for two Skype calls with my favorite ladies this week. 

Watching Magnum P.I. - I'm not sure why I have such a fascination with 1980's television shows but it's definitely a problem. Maybe it's just that Magnum's mustache and goofy jeans remind me of my dad?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Making Other Plans

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this chalkboard art on the new-to-me blog of Kotryna Bass. While you may have noticed my passion for all things chalk lately, the quote struck me for a different reason. It wasn't that it was the first time I had seen or heard the words, but this time, they seemed painfully fitting for my present state of mind.

It's no secret that I'm a dreamer, a planner. I'm goal oriented, fueled by achievement. I only feel settled when I'm make lists and goals and checking them off. I prefer to keep myself in consistent forward motion, always going, always doing. For four years, I balanced a heavy course load, more work hours than I ever needed, a handful of friendships, and more commitments than I could handle. And yet, I used every free moment left to make plans - plans for my the summer, plans for the next year, for my career, for the places I would live, for graduate school. I waited anxiously for the day I would be finished with my degree, I counted down the months until I would get a chance to breath a little more easily.

Now, my undergraduate degree is finished, I'm 21, I'm living on the other side of the country, and I'm a bit confused as to where all of that time has gone. Worse yet, I haven't quite figured out what to do with all of the freedom, all of the empty time, I've been left with. I've never been one to enjoy down time and  that hasn't changed. I can hardly wait to be back in classes, to find a full time job, to be busy once again.

With graduate school quickly approaching  I've started to fill my time with more plans. While I crave and embrace change, decision making makes me anxious. Simple choices like paint colors and dinner plans are difficult enough for me but major life decisions? They're all but paralyzing. I've spent weeks doing research on different cities, different schools; comparing financial aid packages, living costs, commuting distances.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, I guess it's all just to say that planning and change are, well, exhausting. Here's to finding a better balance between planning and living.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIAW | Weekend Eats

While I had every plan and intention to stop in for Ten on Tuesday yesterday, we ended up spending the evening with our neighbors from Pennsylvania. Really, our next door neighbors (who were here on a ski trip) decided to stop in to say hello. That being said, I thought I would make up for it by sharing my first WIAW post for February - and as you will see, it's a good one.

If you aren't familiar with WIAW or What I Ate Wednesday, each week Jenn at Peas and Crayons hosts a linkup to share recent eats. If you're new here and want to catch on previous food posts, you can read my WIAW archives here

Holidays and celebrations at our house mean food, good food. While I'm lucky enough to live with a chef, I decided to cook dinner for Valentine's Day and not just any dinner, homemade General Tso's Chicken. For a few weeks, I had been searching for gluten free soy sauce with no luck but when I stumbled upon it at our local Albertson's last week, it seemed like fate. Chinese food is perhaps Trevor's favorite and while he lived on take out back East, our food allergies have prevented us from searching for great Chinese in Montana. I adapted this recipe from Foodie with Family to use almond milk rather than egg and was surprised at both how easy it was to make and how delicious it was to eat.

As I mentioned on Sunday, we continued the Valentine's celebrations on Friday with authentic Philly cheesesteaks from Missoula's Philly West. As much as I'd like to say that's a gluten free bun, truth is, I cheated. I'm, I suppose you could say "fortunate", enough not to have celiac disease, simply a wheat allergy, and so once in a blue moon, I have a piece of bread, or maybe a doughnut, without serious consequence.

While fresh fish is one of my favorite things, it's hard to come by here. We lucked out this weekend when we found fresh wild caught Canadian Rock Fish at Safeway. After much debate, we decided to on fish tacos topped with tomato, scallions, avocado, black beans, cilantro, salt and a squeeze of lime juice. With Hornsby's Crisp Hard Cider, of course. 

After eating nearly the same three dishes for most of winter, this week's menu was a nice change. Though there is snow falling outside, warm days have my spring on my mind and I can only assume   that's where the inspiration came from. Despite all the changes in our dinners, it wouldn't be a weekend at our house without our favorite breakfast and so that's how we spent our Sunday - eating cinnamon rolls and not doing much else.

So tell me, what did you do this weekend? Did you try a new recipe for Valentine's Day?

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Snapshots from this week: 
1 // Representing THON all the way in Southwestern Montana. 
2 // For Valentine's Day, I made Trevor homemade gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free General Tso's - I also made lots of dishes.
3 // Trevor leaves early each day, before I wake up - sometimes though, I wake up to little love notes on our fridge.
4 // An authentic Philly cheesesteak for Valentine's Day in Missoula.
5 // All three of my loves. 

Favorite posts this week: 
10 Real Talk Blog Tips  - Joy the Baker
Time. - Sincerely, Kinsey
Dear Little Moorea - Maiedae
Nesting: Ladder Display Makeover - A Beautiful Mess
Master of None - Delightfully Tacky

This week I'm... 

Eating another batch of gluten-free vegan cinnamon rolls. Sunday cinnamon rolls seem to be a new weekly tradition in our house. If you haven't made them yet, you should - they're sure to be a favorite in your house, too. 

Looking forward to an extra day off this weekend. I still haven't finished my novel from last week and I'm looking forward to having the time to wrap it up. 

Counting down for the THON total reveal in just about an hour - It's amazing to think that college students can come together to raise millions of dollars each year, don't you think? [note: this year THON raised a record $12,374,034.46 this year!] 

Feeling thankful for the great people THON brought into my life. This weekend, several of my friends stood for forty-six hours straight to raise money for pediatric cancer. At the same time, Maddie (our THON child) celebrated five years cancer free; Kasey attended THON after being taken off of her last medications. I've spent the weekend watching all of my favorite kids perform on stage, looking through old THON photos, and missing Penn State.

Dreaming of graduate school! All the stress of the last few weeks has been replaced with excitement and planning. Though no definite decision has been made, I'm looking forward to being involved with student organizations again. This week, I was accepted into the University of Montana and even received my diploma in the mail! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine


It's not just some cliche Valentine's phrase when I say that I don't know what I would do without you. Sometimes it feels as though we've meshed into one self, leaving me so lost when we're apart. I always worried that you'd grow bored of me - bored of having to always eat dinner with the same girl, bored of always having to read my blog, bored of having to always shut the kitchen cabinets behind me - but you never did. Growing bored with you has never crossed my mind, as you make me laugh, learn and grow everyday. There is nothing I love more than being at your side.

I feel so honored to be the one who gets to share breakfast with you, the one who gets to bake you peanut butter cookies, the one who gets to hear you sing in the morning, the one who gets to indulge your love for Magnum P.I.. I consider myself so lucky to learn more about you everyday, and to love you more with every moment. There is no one I would rather snuggle, laugh and dream with. No one who could take care of me better than you do.

I couldn't think of anything better to do with my life than to spend it exploring with you.
Here's to all of the adventures we've shared, and to all of the adventures the future holds for us.

I love you so much, my funny Valentine.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dear Little Jen

Dear Little Jen,

With the benefit of knowing you for sixteen years, after having experienced all of your successes and all of your failures, all of your friendships and all of your broken hearts, I have a few important lessons to share.

At five, you are too precarious and headstrong for brushing your hair and dressing up. But, for all the years that you spend crying over dresses, tights and straight-cut bangs, your love for them will grow stronger. You will fight against them for the longest time, spending most of high school angry at a boy who insists you wear makeup. By the time you start college, you will insist on wearing tights nearly every day. (You will also realize that you are worth more than a boy telling you how to dress.) Style will never be your thing, even if that means missing out on the fashion blog niche, but only because you have more important things to concern yourself with.

You will always be different but you will eventually learn that this is a good thing. Don't be too hard on yourself, in the meantime. It may take pink hair and a move to Montana to show you that this is a good trait, but when you finally realize it, it will change you.  Don't give up your spontaneous and silly nature, even though some may dislike you for it. Your true friends will love you for your quirky style, your never-funny jokes, and your sense of adventure. At twenty-one, being different will be your biggest strength, and you will have accepted that not everyone will like you.

Your love for adventure will grow as you do. While everyone around you seems so similar now, you will learn that the world is a great big place filled with more personalities than you can imagine. You will become passionate about other cultures, foods, and languages - you will want to visit new places. What is now a love for playing and exploring will turn into a passion for traveling, a passion that will take you to wander the streets of Paris, to rebuild homes in New Orleans, to hike through the red rocks in Arizona, and to live a quiet life in Montana. Traveling will instill in you a great sense of respect for others but will also plant the seeds of many big dreams. Seeing the world will teach you more about people and the world than any of the classes you will sit through over the next sixteen years.

While learning and reading thrills you now, you will grow bored and tired in school. Don't let that discourage you. You will realize that these two things are an essential part of you. You will go through hobby after hobby and frustrate your family as you go, but don't worry, your flighty nature is not due to a lack of commitment or your inability to fit in. Instead, it your curious nature and passion for learning that will propel you through countless sports, activities, and passions. At twenty-one, you will be proud of yourself for all the things you've tried, all the things you've succeeded in or failed at, and you will have learned that sports just aren't your thing - and that there's nothing wrong with that.

But more than anything, I want you to know that you will spread your wings and you will leave your little town. You will go on to do big, bold and meaningful things. Still, don't let your yearning to grow keep you from enjoying your hometown, your high school friends, and most importantly, your family. Eventually, you will fall in love with a guy who makes you forget that you were ever awkward, different or unhappy, but that love will take you far away from everything you've ever known.

You will miss the things you hated about home. You will miss having a holiday dedicated to farmers and fried food, you will miss having your mom nearby for lunch and shopping (even if she complains about it the entire time), you will miss fishing with your dad and his insistence on keeping your childhood artwork, and as surprising as it may seem to you now, you will miss Sean as you find yourselves on opposite sides of the country.

Appreciate the gifts you have been given, realize that home and family are a big part of who you are, but also know that you were meant to grow, and that opportunity can be found anywhere.

Your older and hopefully wiser self.

To celebrate Valentine's Day, Savannah of Maiedae started a movement asking us to write love letters to our younger selves. As she explains, "This idea stems from one of my favorite quotes by Kris Carr, 'Picture yourself when you were five. in fact, dig out a photo of little you at that time and tape it to your mirror. How would you treat her, love her, feed her? How would you nurture her if you were the mother of little you? I bet you would protect her fiercely while giving her space to spread her itty-bitty wings. she’d get naps, healthy food, imagination time, and adventures into the wild. If playground bullies hurt her feelings, you’d hug her tears away and give her perspective. When tantrums or meltdowns turned her into a poltergeist, you’d demand a loving time-out in the naughty chair. From this day forward I want you to extend that same compassion to your adult self.' This Valentine's Day, take time to write little you a love letter. What are three things you would tell yourself? Show yourself some fierce love this month. ♥"

So tell me, what advice would you give your younger self? If you take the time to write your five-year-old self a letter, leave a link in the comments - I would love to read it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | THON Essentials

Three years ago, I was given the opportunity to stand awake and on my feet for forty-six hours straight. If you're not familiar with the Penn State Dance Marathon, you may be questioning why I call this an "opportunity." Each year, more than 15,000 student volunteers from all twenty Penn State campuses come together to make up what is the world's largest student-run philanthropy. A philanthropy that raised more than $10.69 for the Four Diamonds Fund, pediatric cancer patients and research last year. These volunteers serve a variety of functions - some serve as captains of committees like public relations or technology, others serve as members of the hospitality or entertainment committees. Other students participate in THON by joining an organization or fundraising as an independent dancer couple.

During my time volunteering for THON, it was as a student at Penn State's York campus. For two years, I gave the majority of my free time to fundraising for our organization - writing donation letters, canning on the side of local highways, and planning events. My fundraising efforts as a freshman allowed me the opportunity to dance in THON 2010, a weekend that I still consider the best of my life. Really, it's that great. Then, as a sophomore I chaired our organized alongside one of my best friends and together we were able to lead a group of students in raising more than $17,000, an accomplishment that I am still incredibly proud of.

As a junior, I could no longer afford Penn State's tuition and transferred to Millersville. While I enjoyed my two years at Millersville, I missed THON immensely and continue to miss it even now. That being said, I try to stay involved by donating to the organization and keeping in contact with several Four Diamonds families. While anyone is able to attend THON weekend, I will be unable to fly home for the event this year and so instead, I wanted to share with you what this organization is about. If you want to learn more, check out this video my organization made in 2011 or any of the videos created by the THON technology committee.

If you would like to make tax-deductible donation to THON, you can do so online.
If you choose to donate, I would love for you to credit Harrisburg or York for the amount.

This year, I have several friends who will be dancing, including my beautiful best friend and former family relations chair of our organization, Hana, who you might recognize from all the posts I've written about her (see herehere and here. Over the past few weeks, I have been texting her every time a bit of THON advice crossed my mind and so, as this weekend, THON weekend, quickly approaches, I thought a list of THON essentials would be a great last-minute packing list for her and the other dancers I know.

When you're getting ready to stand for forty-six hours in a bright, colorful and crowded gym, there are a lot of things you're going to need...

1 // Each dancer is assigned to a color wars color and for Hana that's green, a color she will likely wear for a majority of the weekend. Furthermore, dancers love to show their passion for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund and this shirt would allow Hana to do both.

2 // Sunglasses are important for dancers who will be spending two straight days under bright fluorescent lights. Between two THON weekends, I probably went through eight pairs of glasses that seem to get broken, dropped and lost every few hours. These affordable, fun sunglasses from Target would be a great choice for dancers.

3 // Fanny packs are definitely out of style except for two days of the year. Dancers are typically dressed in leggings, shorts or funny costumes - all without pockets. A fanny pack is the perfect place to keep Chapstick, gum, and tennis balls (a necessity for rubbing your aching feet!). While THON provides dancers with a small, dark blue one at the start of the weekend, having a a colorful fanny pack is definitely more fun.

4 // Great sneakers are an important part of surviving THON weekend, for obvious reasons. These bright and colorful ones are sure to fit in with the dancing crowd. 

5 // While dancers are sure to pack a real toothbrush and toothpaste for the weekend, I loved having these little Colgate Wisps. In my opinion, the hardest part of THON was dealing with the bathroom lines and that's saying a lot considering how bad your feet hurt by hour forty-six. These can be picked up at any supermarket or drugstore and help dancers feel refreshed without fighting for a sink. 

6 // Colorful socks are as necessary as colorful sneakers. And dancers should make sure they pack plenty - fresh socks feel great for tired feet.

7 // Color-wars themed shoelaces are also a fun addition. I kept bright orange laces in a pair of pink sneakers for weeks after I danced.

// Going a whole weekend without showering is hard especially with long hair. While dancers can wash their hair in a bathroom sink, the lines are long and the process uncomfortable. When I danced dry shampoo wasn't an option but I made sure that Hana put it on her packing list. 

9 // On a similar note, oil blotting sheets help dancers look their best without having to wait in line or fight for a bathroom sink. It's hard to look good for forty-six hours - my THON photos are proof of that. 

10 // Dealing with my hair and makeup was definitely the biggest hassle of THON weekend. I wish I had chosen my current hair style a few years ago, instead. Though Hana donated 12 inches of her hair to Wigs for Kids last week, she still has plenty & these non-tug elastic hair ties are perfect for the long weekend.

So tell me, had you ever heard of the Penn State Dance Marathon? Would you ever stand on your feet and awake for forty-six hours straight for a great cause?

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Sight for Sore Eyes

This weekend brought a light, perfect coating on snow to Southwestern Montana. As the weather warmed over the past few weeks, everything began to melt, leaving behind only gray slush and quiet skies. This weekend's snow was a sight for sore eyes. While I can't say that I'm not anxiously awaiting Spring, there is something beautiful about a Montana Winter. So between doing laundry and housework, we decided to make the most of it. Trevor suggested a short drive to one of our favorite winter spots and we used the opportunity to take some photos of my glasses that arrived last week. 

When I found out that I would need prescription glasses, Firmoo approached me about sharing their products with you. While I had ordered a pair of glasses through my optician, I couldn't turn down the opportunity for an extra pair (especially after realizing the cost of frames). When my expensive, in-store, designer glasses took nearly three weeks to arrive, I was even more thankful that I had taken Firmoo up on their offer - while it still look nearly two weeks for these glasses from Firmoo to arrive, they saved me more than a week of headaches and strained eyes while I waited for my others to arrive in the optician's office. 

Prior to needing glasses, I had always loved the idea of them. Leggings, a sweatshirt and quirky frames were always my quintessential image of cozy. It seemed as though putting on a pair of glasses instantly gave tired travelers, studying college students, and coffee shop regulars the ability to look put together without much effort. I envied those with cute frames but never realized that glasses came at such a high cost. To be honest, I hadn't really realized a lot of things about glasses like how difficult it is to keep them clean. 

It wasn't until after this post that many friends confided in me that they hadn't purchased new glasses in two, three, or even five years, even after realizing their prescription had changed. While my in-store frames alone had cost nearly two hundred dollars, Firmoo offers hundreds of choices, all under $60 - a much more affordable figure. Plus, the sturdy black case there frames came with was much more appealing than the nylon, zippered case offered by optician.

In elementary school, my younger brother purposefully failed a vision test in order to be prescribed with little wire framed glasses that he insisted would make him "look smarter" but with the growing presence of affordable online retailers like Firmoo, glasses are no longer just used for necessity. Affordable frames make it possible for anyone to choose glasses as an accessory. Though I'm not thrilled with needing my glasses,  I love the way these frames instantly make my outfits feel put together  - if you want a modern, vintage, or geek chic look, there are glasses for that. Who knew?

If you want a new look at the start of the new year, or you're one of those who told me you hadn't gotten new glasses in nearly half of a decade, Firmoo offers free glasses (with prescription lenses!) to new customers with its First Pair Free program. Paying for shipping only makes a new pair of frames more than affordable. Though the quality of these frames may be less than the quality of the Nine West designer frames, I ordered from the optician, they were low-cost and arrived quickly.

While I had no worries about choosing frames online, I worried that an online company may not do a great job of filling my prescription for astigmatism or that the glasses would be crushed on their way to Montana. I was wrong on both accounts. Firmoo not only took the time to ensure my prescription was filled correctly but also mailed the glasses inside a sturdy case, well protected from shipping damage. They even added a keychain glasses screwdriver and a cleaning cloth - perfect for my constantly smudged lenses.

My only complaint? I can't stop browsing for the perfect pair of prescription sunglasses.

Please note that I was provided with a free pair of prescription glasses from Firmoo in return for reviewing their products and sharing their First Pair Free program on Live Beautifully. That being said, all opinions are my own. I only work with brands that I use and love, brands that are a good fit for this space, in hopes of sharing great products with you.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Snapshots from this week: 
1 // Started a new book this week. Am I the only one who still uses the public library? 
2 // My prescription glasses finally came in at the eye doctor. I love being able to see, not sure that I love these frames.
3 // I spent yesterday writing my best friend forty-six cards. Check back Tuesday if you want to know why.
4 // Failed attempt at vegan, gluten-free doughnuts for Valentine's Day. 

Favorite posts this week: 
This Here, Now. (35 Things I Love)  - Dig This Chick
It's Cold! - Joy the Baker
Feeling Grey - Delightfully Tacky
Antique Store Musings - Dotti Dee
Quiet Mornings - Sincerely, Kinsey

This week I'm... 

Reading Eight Women Taking Pictures. While I'm not far into the book, I'm already in love. I was also thrilled to learn this week that Amazon Prime allows me to borrow books for free for my kindle. That 21 novel goal is looking easier and easier. 

Looking forward to Valentine's Day with Trevor. Did you ever think you'd hear me say that? It's just that 1. His card is hilarious 2. His gift is awesome.and 3. We're going out for authentic Philly cheesesteaks. 

Watching Clint Eastwood (my favorite!) escape from Alcatraz in the film by the same name. Trevor moved our Apple TV to the living room and that has meant a lazy Sunday, first snuggled in bed with Saturday Night Live, now snuggled on the couch by the fire.

Finishing some blog design work for my friend Sarie's new blog, #PinnersProblems. Not only is it a great way to find the good and not so good pins to try but this girl is funny. 

Missing my baby brother. This week, I put together a little package for him with a funky winter hat, a robot Valentine's Day card and chocolate covered peanuts labeled as "Montana Moose Poop." When you're a nearly eight-year old boy, these things are apparently funny. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Love Touch

Last week, I shared a list of gift ideas for the guy in your life and while it's typically easier to shop for the women in your life (chocolate and flowers anyone?), I wanted to take a second and share a unique gift idea with you - jewelry from Tina Steinberg. Though jewelry in and of itself is not a new gift idea, Tina puts a modern, handcrafted twist on what she calls "unordinary personalized jewelry" - an accurate reflection.

I first fell in love with Tina's jewelry when shopping for charms to add to a bracelet for Kasey as she went through treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The first charm I purchased was inscribed with the phrase "I am not afraid, I was born to do this". Later, as Kasey ended treatment, a little leaf saying "grow strong" was added to the bracelet.

My love for Tina's work continued to grow as she graciously donated jewelry for two separate events that raised funds for pediatric cancer patients. I loved the first necklace she donated so much that I bid to win it - I now wear it nearly every day, alternating it only with this "blog girl" necklace I received as gift from Trevor's mom, Linda, this Christmas.

What I love the most is that Tina's jewelry is inscribed by hand and that adds to its uniqueness. Furthermore, each piece is of incredible quality and Tina's customer service is even more impressive.

This Christmas, my brothers and I decided to create a necklace for my mother which featured each of our fingerprints. With my move to Montana and Sean's impending deployment, it seemed like the perfect gift. The process was incredibly easy. After choosing our necklace design (the hardest part of the project), Tina worked with me to send fingerprinting kits to Montana and to North Carolina. When I visited home for my birthday, I took the kit to print Aiden. In the meantime, Sean received his kit and sent his fingerprint back to California. A few weeks later, the necklace arrived - even more beautiful than we had pictured.

For those of you who aren't familiar with our family, I wanted to add a little note to further explain just why this necklace was so special. My brother, Sean, joined the Marines last year and that took him far from family - to North Caroline - and in just a few weeks, across the world. Shortly after, I chose to move to Montana, 32 hours from our home. While my youngest brother, who is only seven, is at home, my mom finds it difficult to have the three of us geographically dispered. This necklace allows her to keep us with her everyday, no matter how far we may actually go. 

Though the process of creating a Love Touch pendant, bracelet or necklace takes a few weeks, you still have time before Valentine's Day to purchase a gift certificate for any of Tina's jewelry. Perhaps your love has a thing for photography, for yoga, or just unique jewelry - there is something perfect for any woman in your life.

Now is also the perfect time to start thinking about Mother's Day. Fingerprint jewelry makes a great sentimental gift and is incredibly easy to create with a little bit of planning. But, if the Love Touch Collection isn't your thing, Tina also offers a variety of other mom-inspired jewelry.

While hand crafted jewelry can be expensive, Tina offers great discounts and special offers throughout the year so I highly encourage you to sign up for her newsletter. You can also find Tina on Facebook (where she often hosts contests to win products) or Twitter.

Please note that I was not asked to promote Tina's products nor was I compensated for this review in any way. 
I'm just passionate about this beautiful, unique, and high-quality jewelry. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Baby Blues

You'll have to excuse the quiet over the last few days. This sweet girl played me out for the few days that I was in Arizona and it has taken me all week to recover. I'm missing those sweet cheeks and those happy feet, so I thought I would stop in to share a few snapshots from my weekend away as a cure for these baby blues. I've been anxiously waiting to meet Kendall for almost eight months but that wait was well worth it - she's the funniest girl. Her favorite things? People watching at the grocery store, my coat buttons and hearing her mama laugh. It's hard to believe that during my last trip to Arizona my Aunt Sarah was still in her first trimester, now, she's getting ready to plan Kendall's first birthday party. I would be lying if I said being closer to this little one wasn't on my list of reasons to choose NAU.

While I wouldn't have traded a weekend with my aunt and uncle and their beautiful baby girl for anything, I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend at home. Our plans include a whole lot of nothing - a novel to read, a special THON project to finish and laundry to do.

So tell me, what are your plans this weekend?