Fall-Ow Your Passions

OctMono

This year is the first time in a very long time that I have Halloween off to do whatever I please. Last October 31st, I stood miserably at the front of a restaurant I was hosting at – my second job – as I watched children in costumes happily frolic about with their parents and steal the candy off my stand. In fact, I’ve spent many holidays stuck at work, wishing I could be celebrating the time with my family and friends.

But not this year! 2015 saw my one year anniversary at my current full-time job, as well as the end of my time working a second position. I have been lucky enough that one job supports me enough to only work five out of seven days. Many people work two, even three jobs to support their families, and it wears you down quickly if you’re not careful.

Too often in my adult life, I’ve let a lot of time slip by not doing the things I want to. This past summer came and went without a blip. I dreamed endlessly about hosting a beach BBQ with friends, but never set the time aside to make it a reality.

When fall rolled around, I decided this wouldn’t be the case. I was determined to get out there, enjoy the weather (which is most definitely not fall-esque out here), and celebrate the season. With a little digging, I found an apple festival about three hours north of the city.

I grabbed my brother, and we spent the drive talking and singing along to old Disney tunes. The festival turned out to be a big flop – instead of 140 booths, as advertised online, we saw about maybe 20. The day was drizzly, the crafts were few, and there weren’t as many apple themed foods as we thought there’d be. Afterwards, we toured around the town looking at yard sales, but they were disappointing as well.

Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun, especially on the haunted hayride we rode back in LA that night! I wished the fair had been as engaging as the ones back home are, but I’m so glad I took the chance on it. Had I not gone, I know I would have regretted the decision immensely. As it stands, I was able to spend some quality time with my little bro AND face my fears and sit in the back of that hayride without crying.

I want to continue this streak of DOING rather than WISHING — and so far, it’s paying off! I spent the weekend working on  my apartment, finishing a DIY project, and getting some artwork hung. Stay tuned for updates! And in the meantime, remember that wishing doesn’t get you a cool hayride t-shirt.

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Write Right

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from, well, life, it’s that communication is key. Key to getting things done (and done correctly), key to learning and sharing ideas, and key to one’s well being. I’ve lived in southern Cali for almost a year now, and the one thing that eases homesickness is keeping in touch withphoto 1 my loved ones back east.

Luckily, today we have websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to keep us in the know how. I can text my mom and Skype my dad and Snapchat my cousins all from my phone. Technology has been key to keeping me and the loop, and alternatively reassuring my family that I am, indeed, surviving out here.

One of my absolute favorite ways to say hello, though, is through a good old fashioned letter. This dates back to my American Girl stationery days – in cleaning my room, I’ve come across dozens of half-finished letters to schoolmates and family members (hey, I never said I wasn’t a procrastinator!).

Even now, there’s something fun about writing a little diddy to someone, popping it in the mailbox, and waiting expectantly for them to receive it. Because who doesn’t like getting something besides spam in the mail? It’s a personalized, handwritten treat that I think has gotten the shaft with the advent of tech.

Lately, my letter writing has gone into a slump, so over the weekend I “created” my own stationery to write to my grandparents on. A quick life summary later and voila! A letter has been born.

photo 3If you’re not feeling that ambitious, regular old stores like Target carry a variety of blank notecard & envelope packs that range from adorable to chic. The Paper Source is another letter writing haven, packed with cards to stamps and everything in between.

Happy writing!

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Hostess with the Mostest


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Tonight, my apartment is a little too quiet. Maybe that’s because for the first time in about four weeks, it’s just my roommate and I again. We’ve – or rather, I’ve – had a constant stream of friends and family alike crashing anywhere they could find a spot and basking in the miracle that is Southern California weather.

Playing hostess can be a tough gig, especially if you find yourself doing it fairly frequently. That’s why I’ve compiled a quick guide of to opening your home (or teeny apartment) to others!

BEFORE THEY ARRIVE

  • Clear your guests’ stay with your housemates ahead of time if applicable, and be sure to ask, not tell them that you’re having someone over. It’s a courtesy that should always be extended, especially because this is their home too.
  • If your guests are vacationing with you, make sure you’ve taken the appropriate time off from work. Nothing will ruin a trip quicker than having to go in on your planned day off.
  • Determine whether you are picking them up from their chosen port of travel, or if your guests have alternative means of getting around.
  • Ready some clean sheets and towels ahead of time, or at least have your guests’ sleeping arrangements in order. Nobody likes to touch down after six hours of flying to be greeted by dirty linens, or worse – nowhere to crash.
  • Make sure you have an extra set of keys, just in case you need to split up at any time.
  • Throw a few snacks in the fridge. People often end up at your home hungry. You don’t need to go overboard, and don’t feel bad about asking them to pitch in for more groceries as the vacation goes on.

WHILE THEY’RE THERE

  • Establish house rules. Don’t be afraid to bring up topics like whether or not you like shoes left at the door, how you split dishes,

    Mom & I in Santa Monica on her recent visit!

    or whether drinking/smoking are OK in your home. Your guests will appreciate not having to guess and getting in trouble later.

  • Lay out your schedule, if your guests are just staying with you as opposed to vacationing with you. Talk about when you go to work, when you’ll be home, etc. That way, they know not to call you at 3AM for a ride home from the club.
  • Help your friends out by giving them a rough guide to your area. What public transit is available? Are there any local restaurants you like to eat at? What kinds of activities are there to do?
  • Don’t forget to enjoy some quality time together! Even if you can only do one meal, it’s better than nothing, and it pulls you out of your regular routine.

AFTER THEY’RE GONE

  • Be sure to thank your roommate for their support. I plan on treating mine with a gift basket full of his favorite goodies 🙂

 

Your apartment doesn’t need to be the Ritz for everyone to have a good time! For now, though, I’m going to enjoy having my room to myself again.

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It’s almost New Year’s Eve – one of my favorite times of the year.There’s something about fresh starts and new goals that gets me really excited. I am proud to say I accomplished nearly all of my goals from last year – everything from improving my professionalism to improving my fitness regime. Already, I’m starting to think about how I would like 2015 to shape up.

As my vacation begins to wind down, I’m realizing that there is one goal I definitely have for the new year: to focus more on the quality of my relationships. And I don’t just mean calling my grandfather more – I mean really investing in nurturing all of my friendships and familial ties. Being home has reminded me how important everyone back East is, and that living in Cali is no excuse for not keeping in touch.

I’m not waiting for the ball to drop to start on this resolution; right now, I’m doing my best to keep my schedule straight. Nothing is more insulting to people than double booking yourself by mistake. It’s also important to stay unplugged during quality time, and to not overdo it. Nobody likes visiting with someone who is prone to pass out on their couch from over exhaustion. It’s also important to do what you want to do, rather than what others expect you to do. Sometimes, you’re between a rock and a hard place and you’re just not going to be able to make anybody happy with your decision. In that case, go with your gut and remember: your loved ones will forgive you if you are 100% straightforward with them.

I hope you are enjoying a relaxing and family-filled last few days of 2014! Not sure what to do as you wait for the new year? Head over to http://www.futureme.org and write yourself a digital time-capsule.

xoxo Aubrey

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‘Twas the night

J‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

the babes were sleeping with a doll and a mouse.

The presents are wrapped with such care and such haste

in hopes to finish on time, without any waste.

This night before Christmas holds something true

a way to finish up all the things we have to do.

Procrastinators, yes. But we love the way

we get things done for this special day.

My family is home with their heads ready to lay,

So we can all wake soon after we hit the hay.

To greet the sun with our eager, tired eyes

And hold our gifts with such great surprise.

We spend the day drinking wine and beer

Spending time together sharing holiday cheer.

unplug our phones, tablets, and computers,

so we can enjoy some old fashioned shooters.

I conclude this post in hopes I wrote it right

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Jess (2)

Old Pie, New Friends: Thankful in California

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Happy Day-after Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying your post-food bliss, or maybe you’re just getting home after some Black Friday shopping. Either way, I hope your holiday was full of good company & good food!

As Jess said, we had some really fun holiday traditions growing up. I distinctly remember she and her brother sacrificing me to the waterfall (read: large staircase) during a few of those games of Jurassic Park.

A lot has changed since then, traditions wise. Relatives have moved, or changed religions, or passed away. At first I was devastated, whenever a tradition would

A magical 2012 Thanksgiving in FL!

A magical 2012 Thanksgiving in FL!

change. As I got older, though, I realized that this presented new opportunities. One Thanksgiving, I joined a friend at Disney World in Florida because she couldn’t make it home for the holiday. We had an amazing (and very warm) time!

This year, I wasn’t able to go home for Turkey Day because of travel costs and limited vacation time. Instead, though, my boyfriend’s family in Northern California invited me up to join them! Happily I obliged, always loving some time out of the city. One 10-hour bus ride later, I was on my way to dinner at someone I barely knew’s house.

At first I was nervous, because I felt like I was interrupting a family dinner. When I got there, though, they couldn’t have been more welcoming. I wasn’t the only non-relative there, I discovered, when meeting so-and-so’s boyfriend or friend who had tagged along.

Wow, not in the city anymore!

Wow, not in the city anymore!

We laughed at the mutual awkwardness and clinked glasses in a toast to our new “family”. When the football game was turned on, I pulled a classic Aubrey move and fell asleep in a corner, stuffed from all the turkey and pie.

It was a perfect Thanksgiving, and reminded me all the more of how much I have to be grateful for this holiday season. Thanks to Jess’s post, I too will be participating in the thankx4 gratitude journal as a way to  be more present and appreciate all the good in my life.

Now, let’s blast the Christmas music!!

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Back to the grind

UntitledI am back-back to my normal schedule! (who knew I would long for it as much as I did)  On the road, I am was deprived of all my wonderful de-stressers: family, friends, boyfriend, and creative time. While I was away, I made a list of things to catch up on. Most of these things included bills, chores, etc. But the most important was to see my lovely, long-distant boyfriend.

Being long distance can be extremely tough, but it forces us to get creative. We love doing things together especially cooking. We are privileged by the fact that he still lives at home and gets home cooked meals every day. However, this really limits the opportunity to cook together, since most of the cooking has already been done. My solution: Pintrest. 

Cutest cooks in the kitchen!

Cutest cooks in the kitchen!

Yes, this magical portal holds all the inspiration for a quick and easy cooking extravaganza. It is also, as expressed tirelessly before, is my addiction; which is comparable to the boyfriends Clash of Clans addiction. Scrolling through the pins, we had so many options. Pumpkin cheesecake, piña colada cupcakes, Christmas bark, these pins could go on forever. We were looking for something specific, something that could be done at 7 pm after a long day of working, and something that the boyfriend could do on his own. (he can get flustered with complicated activities)

Untitled design (5)After pinning some prime contenders, we found the perfect recipe: Oreo balls! This recipe is found on the blog Pip & Ebby which is a cute foodie blog with extremely easy to follow instructions. For us, this was required just the right amount of focus and energy. The ingredient list was simple: Oreos, cream cheese, and white chocolate. The recipe called for something different, but we were hankerin’ for some white chocolate.

Let me tell ya, these are AMAZING. They are extremely decadent but gives you that right amount of sweet you were looking for. The best part? This required zero cook time! Just smush it all together and throw it in the fridge. These will forever be on my list of quick go-to’s!

Jess (2)

Phenomenal Women

OctMono

I am who I am for many different reasons – because of where I grew up, who my friends were, who my parents are, the decade in which I was born into – the list goes on and on. There is, however, one group of people that I am especially grateful to, and that is the collection of strong and amazing women I have surrounding me in my life. From my friends, to my aunts, to mentors I’ve had at school, these women have been my inspiration and role models.

I currently stand at 5’11” and weigh more than any of my shorter friends ever have, and because of this I’ve always felt more gangly than pretty. Being painfully shy at times made me feel out of touch with others. At times, I thought my glasses were the strongest feature in my face, and all I had going for me were my grades. When those didn’t go the way I wanted them to, I felt like I had nothing to offer anyone.

Each time I’ve fallen and stumbled, I’ve had these aunts and cousins and friends and grandmothers and mentors to rally around me and pick me back up. They taught me that I shouldn’t – couldn’t – compare myself to others, that I was powerful and articulate and funny, and that in the darkest of times we are our own best ally.

These are the women I aspire to be more like on a daily basis. I would name them for you here, BUT in case they’re following along with this post, I won’t. This is because today, I wanted to write to each of these women individually and thank them for being apart of my life.

I would, though, like to start with a letter to my cousin Jess, with whom I share this blog ❤

 

Dear Jess,

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that we embarked on this blogging journey together! I’ve secretly been your biggest fan since probably the day I was born. Sadly, though, my favorite way of expressing this when we were younger was by joining up with Corey and making your life more difficult.

I have always admired your candor, your strength, and the way in which you’ve always wholeheartedly chased your passions. You were a chef and an athlete, an RA, a dancer, a blogger564339_10153213174785157_43783420_n, and so much more. Know that I have always looked up to you and wished that I was half as personable (and thrifty!) as you are.

I especially want to thank you for consistently having made me feel like I mattered. You were the first person I went to with all of my angsty teenage questions, and you never failed to answer them. You were there to prep me and send me off to my first prom, attended many of my interestingly staged school plays, and welcomed me to real adulthood on my 21st.

I love you, and I look forward to all the future adventures we have in store together. I know that at times, the future seems pretty uncertain, but I know you’re going to come through it unscathed & unfazed. Never stop being so honest, caring, and beautiful inside and out!

Love,

Aubrey

 

 

 

Starting new with something old

UntitledHappy Saturday! As the fall rolls in, I love to take time and reflect back on everything I have done over the summer(or simply figure out where the time went!) This was the first summer that I was an adult (aka I was working full time). No more were the days of  deciding which friends pool I was going to lounge by or figuring out whose pegs I would ride on en route to said pool. For those who don’t get the “peg” reference, please don’t judge my following story.

Back in the glory days, young 8th graders would ride their BMX bikes around neighborhoods coral-ing their friends to be audience members. Then they preformed for us with some sub-par wheelies and peg stands. Pegs refers to small, metal attachments that can be put onto the tire frame. I believe they were meant to grind rails and do tricks-I saw them as my free mode of transportation for the summer.

My first adult summer consisted of more mature adventures: work, antiquing, work, fun weekend getaways, work, and more antiquing. Antiquing takes on many different types of meanings for myself and my roadies (aka family). It can range from the classic Saturday yard sales to the huge antique barns that litter the back roads of Maine.

For those readers outside of Massachusetts, there are two distinctions between where people spend their summers. You are either a “Cape Cod person” or a “Maine person”. The classic beach or camping debacle. For me- its Maine all the way!

This brings me to my favorite and easiest DIY project: my milk glass lamp. Before I do, here are some basics that brought me to the discovery of this wonderful lamp.

Antique-ing101Be open-As you can see from that image, antique stores are often a jumbled mess. If it is not-your in the wrong place. Take in the cluttered landscape and look for what stands out.

Trust your gut. Just like men and other life decision, your gut can be the keeper of truth or at least the keeper of your taste. If something stays on your mind, then it was meant to be.

Get creative. I like to think there is beauty in everything. Sometimes it will take some paint, a new set of wires, or even some love to make it beautiful.

The moment I saw my lamp I knew….it would take some work. As a rookie, I neglected to take a “before” picture, but I will paint the image for you with my words. At first, it was a lamp with very undistiquishable look. To me it was dirty and rusty-with little appeal. After seeing the price tag, I instantly fell in love. I fell in love with the idea of negotiation-not the lamp it self. To back up-my mom and I (more my mother), love to see how little we can pay for something. To be fair it is always things we want and they are often over priced for their condition. I was determined to use my keen negotiating skills to get this lamp for a price worth it’s sad condition. With some elbow grease and a little help from mom, I was able to walk away with this lamp for half the price! Win!

The biggest challenge with this project was re-wiring. Getting over the intimidation of rewiring was harder than the actual task. Though being a product of an electrician, I had some idea what to do. Here was my process:

  1. Disassemble-Unscrew each part of the lamp and discard all of the electrical mechanisms and wires. Luckily for me, they were all connected!
  2. Clean- Like most things found during an antiquing expedition, this lamp had mounds of dust and dirt caked onto it. I used warm water and dish soap to wash the glass and metal components. Depending on the level of rust and dirt, a stronger solution might work better.
  3. Rewire- I used a kit purchased at a local hardware store. Here is an example from Home Depot! The instructions are excellent and very easy to use. They give you a ton of stuff- you don’t have to use all of it.
  4. Voila!  Here is the final product!

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Jess (2)