The Year in Review: 2013

It's just about the last day of December which means it's once again time to reflect on the year, what we learned, what we did and what we'd like to learn and do in the coming year.

Side note: Remember when we all thought our computers were going to shut down 13 years ago? That's weird. I was in fifth grade.

I discovered that I actually held a lot of my...weirdness (I don't like that word but can't think of anything else) back from Brandon before we got married. The good news is he's also pretty silly and joins in on my random dance breaks. The better news is I love him even more.

I learned that "being an adult" is completely a fake-it-till-you-make-it situation after college. Brandon and I are not fully settled adults, even if we are married. Heck, we barely got Christmas gifts wrapped in time for the Christmas Eve service! We haven't purchased groceries in like three weeks. Not because we don't have the money, but because we just don't feel like it. It's hilarious and ridiculous...and fun.

Along the same vein, I realized once again that no matter how hard you try to keep your crap together (or your apartment organized) and be a grown up, there's always a chance you'll end up getting someone else's Christmas cards, or will be too late to go ice skating on the anniversary of your enagement or whatever. Life happens to us no matter if we're 16 and forgot to memorize our lines/choreography, 21 and forgot to take some Advil before bed or 24 and forgot that online Christmas shopping should be done early.

I started this year off at the peak of a mountain. I loved school, loved my internship, had the closest group of friends I think I've ever had, got engaged and had big plans for life after Loma. You know how movies depict your senior year of high school? That's what my life felt like. Then graduation happened and I moved away from San Diego and that friend group that felt more like family. I slowly came down from the peak. Then I couldn't find a job and honestly did not enjoy the work I did get. And I descended from that peak some more. Then I got a great job offer and got married and had a wonderful wedding day and honeymoon. And I thought Ok. The bottom was back there, it's only up from here. But I'm still waiting to climb back up. I've waited 3 months. I want to love my work. I crave a tight group of friends. I want to be out of this valley that I seem to find myself in. My hope is that 2014 will surprise me with clarity, direction and opportunities to share my life with the people I care for.

Also, I have to say this: the outpouring of love, support, well wishes and generosity on the part of my friends and family (not just limited to the close friends) never ceases to overwhelm me. I could cry right now just thinking about how nice people have been to me and Brandon this year. Brandon and I are a one vehicle family right now, which means I rely on our families to get home from work on days when Brandon works past 5. I am not the kind of girl to ask for help. I refused to ask to move closer to the board in third grade (before I had glasses and couldn't see) because...I don't know why. I like being independent. I don't like being a bother or hassle. And my initial reaction to asking for help is to think oh boy, here we go. I'm going to impose. Which is totally stupid because I have no qualms with helping others. I can't tell you why I don't trust others to help me. Just know that when you respond Of course! or Absolutely! or Duh, you touch my heart. I marvel at your generosity and you embody the love of Christ to me. So thank you. (CRYING AVERTED!)

Whoa, there. It got a little real, didn't it? Let's bring it back. Here are some of my 2013's highlights in photos.
The joy that was our weekly family dinner in Goodwin.
A random photo of Barbara's book and coffee.
Afternoons spent at the intern station.
Easter in San Diego.

Celebrating my sister's 21st in San Diego.
Sunsets at dinner. I miss these still.
Graduating with my best friend and getting photobombed by my other best friends.
San Francisco exploring with James and Jenny.
My favorite snapchat I've ever sent. Oh the things I do for church.
Letting my campers know it's 100% okay to be silly no matter your age.
Karaoke Thursdays with old friends.
My wedding day morning. Not too much has changed, if you ask me.
Corn maze in October.
My rendition of Taylor Swift for Halloweekend/me and Holly's Brithday weekend in SB. 
An outtake of what should have been our Christmas card, but just wasn't meant to be this year.
Happy New Year, everyone!

♥ A


12 Things

This post is 100% inspired by my cousin Rachel's blog. She does this thing she calls her 22/23/24 Things. Essentially, she picks a number of things (equal to the age she's turning) that she wants to accomplish by her next birthday. I think it's pretty cool and given that I find myself lacking direction without assigned reading or papers or studying to do once I get home from work, I think now is the best time to accomplish things I didn't have time to accomplish during my undergrad career. However, I can't think of 24 things I'd like to do, so I'm starting small. 12 things. I per month until I turn 25. Ack. That number seems so weird. I'm still 22 in my brain.

1. Perfect the tiramisu cupcake.
I've made them three times, but each time was in a different state of mind with time constraints. My goal is to perfect the recipe and the whipped topping and my whole process for making each cupcake the perfect cupcake.
2. Read 6 books.
I started JK's Casual Vacancy and found it too thick to read when already sleepy, so I'm shelfing it for now. I'm reading Perks of Being a Wallflower and it's perfect for my mindset right now. I just need to get back into reading thicker material. Tina Fey's Bossypants and Nora Ephron's I Remember Nothing, while new favorites, are extremely easy reads and feel more like reading a blog than a book.
3. Explore a part of San Francisco I've spent little time in.
I have my favorite spots in one of my favorite cities ever, but I'd like to go past my childhood experiences and make some cool new memories. This is also an excellent excuse to go to SF. I feel like it's been ages since I've set foot in the city.
4. Finish organizing/uploading my Project 365
I quit uploading in August. I had about two months of the project left to upload but I got busy? I have no idea where my motivation went. Also, I know the 365 days have passed and that I took a photo everyday until about November, but I also erased a bunch of photos from when I first plugged my iphone into my computer. I'm not Apple literate. It happens.
5. Practice French everyday for a month.
I've got this excellent app on my phone called Duolingo. It's basically a free mini Rosetta Stone. I was really consistent about practicing when I first downloaded it but I've fallen off my wagon a bit. Time to get back on. The lessons take like five minutes so there's no excuse for not practicing.
6. Make coffee art.
Coffee was a way of life for me and my buds in San Diego. And finding a cafe that had latte art was such a treat for us, I figure I should make like Annie from the Parent Trap and take a whack at it. Was that reference too obscure? My bad.
7. Bake a cake/cupcakes from scratch.
I'm really into cake. And by that I mean boxed cake. I think it's delicious. But since I'm semi-honing in on my baking skills, this should probably happen sooner than later. Also, I'm pretty intrigued by the pre-boxed cake process of cake making. It strikes me as nostalgic and authentic, but that might just be my hipster showing.
8. Watch 10 classic movies I've never seen before.
These are my confessions, just when I thought I said all I could say, I sit back and realize that it isn't okay that I've never seen Fight Club or Casanova or Sleepless in Seattle or Superstar or Scarface or Schindler's List. I'll stop there. Just know you were supposed to be singing that to the tune of Usher's Confessions Part II the whole time.
9. Complete 5 of my pins on my Learn/Make/Do board on Pinterest.
I refuse to continue to sit around pinning crafts and never completing them. So I'll go to Michael's, get some frickin' modge podge or whatever it's called and start crafting all the things! I'm picking five because I'm being realistic. Let's face it, I barely make time to put my clothes away after doing laundry (when I finally wait long enough that I have no choice but to do laundry).
10. Hand letter something. Turn that something into art.
I believe I've mentioned that I liked changing my handwriting as a kid. I thought it was fun. I dabbled in what I'm loosely calling graphic design as a teenager. Anyway, hand lettering is totally in right now, but anyone who's seen how I write names on envelopes or lyrics/quotes on the backs of paper as a time killer knows that I've got my own set of decorative letters. I want to expand on this, practice my calligraphy-looking letters, learn serif letters...I'm getting font nerdy. Sorry. Anyway, I love word art so why not make something Brandon and I can lug around and display in our home forever and ever?
11. Volunteer at Coastal Cleanup Day
I heard about CCD in my Marine Bio class back at Solano. I had a debate tournament the same weekend as the cleanup so I never made it. I've just seemed to miss it every year. Having interned at the wonderful I Love A Clean San Diego, I think cleanups are super fun and important. I'm also kind of obsessive about proper recycling because of it. Like I won't hesitate to reach for a plastic bottle that's been tossed into the garbage instead of the recycle bin RIGHT NEXT TO IT. C'mon people...
12. Decorate me and Brandon's apartment.
Okay. Another confession. Don't worry, you don't need to sing this one. I have done close to nothing to decorate my apartment. We have all of our essentials and even picked up a few pillows with gift cards, but it all still feels a little thrown together. I mean, my dorms felt more decorated than what my apartment feels like now. I've been here three months and have yet to hang a photo. I feel vaguely guilty/like a failure for not having my apartment all cute the way I want it to be. Other people waste no time making their homes look like they've lived there forever. Who knows how long we'll stay in the apartment we're currently in, but I can at least start thrifting and collecting things to make our apartment more of a home.

Alright, there they are. My twelve things to accomplish while I'm 24. I've gotta say this feels rather ambitious. At the very least it will give me something to blog about.

Oh, and if any of you are particularly interested in joining me in completing any of these things, let me know. We can make a day of it, listen to Lorde's album (one of my new favorite things) on repeat and take lots of photos. Yes? Okay.

♥ A


One B.A. Wedding

I wasn't going to blog about my wedding. I don't think I have the curating skills to pick a few favorite photos and anecdotes about the day.  If I had it my way, I'd bore you to death with all of the bajillion thoughts that were racing through my brain. However, I know I won't have the patience to caption all the photos I'm about to upload to Facebook and that this is my chance to share with you my wedding planning process (since I did an exceptional job at being controlling and keeping most of it to myself). This day fit the exact vision I came up with after Brandon proposed. For me, the event was going to be about certain details and the thought and work behind them, but it wasn't going to be "my baby," as they say. Anyway, without further ado: here's a synopsis of my and Brandon's wedding in the order in which it got planned.
First things first: the man. Most of you know Brandon and I dated a long while before getting engaged. We grew up together, really. I see all of the things I love about Brandon in this photo. He's pretty hawt (and sweet and hilarious and also a decent cook).
2. The location. There had to be trees (my wish) and the venue had to be big enough to have our ceremony as well as our reception (Brandon's wish). In my wildest dreams I pictured myself barefoot in the middle of a forest or a wide open field. Brandon pictured a church. So we compromised. We picked Fox Road Ranch in Dixon where I got the trees and B got church pews.
3. The dress. The dress! I remember looking at the Alfredo Angelo Disney dresses with my friend Sara back when she discovered them. Now, Belle is my favorite Disney princess of all time, BUT I could not get over the gorgeous beauty that is the Snow White dress--especially after putting it on. The flowers. The sweetheart neckline. The tulle. The beading I didn't think I'd love so  much. It fit every. single. thing I was looking for in my wedding gown. I knew this was it as soon as I put it on, which was an incredible relief after my hectic and unsuccessful trip to David's Bridal (where I was hoping to find a sweetheart neckline strapless gown with a textured bodice and ballgown skirt). I'm telling you, I love this dress. I'm trying so hard to find another reason to wear it. Too bad I'm not a movie star.
4. The Bridesmaids and their dresses. I wrote and mailed my bridesmaids-to-be a poem asking them to join me in this whirlwind of a day. Soon after, I found the exact dress style in the exact shade of blueish, greenish, mint I wanted. I'm not a hardcore mint fanatic and I knew it was super trendy, but I couldn't pass it up as a great pop of color to my otherwise very...neutral...color tendencies. I'm incredibly happy with the outcome. In fact, I'm holding myself back from ordering one of these dresses for myself. That's how much I love them. While I didn't originally plan for necklaces, I think they went fantastically with the dresses!
Oh, in case you're interested, here's the poem I wrote:
On the 17th of December, he got down on one knee
and asked if I’d marry him, finally!
I’d thought that night was for skating on ice,
but now it’s my turn to ask something nice.
You’ve been there with me in good times and bad
and calling you friend makes me eternally glad.
So on that day in September when I’m dressed all in white
I hope you’ll be there, again by my side.
Let’s have an answer, come on, what do you say?
Repondez, s’il vous plait, will you be my bridesmaid?
Okay, full disclosure, I can't remember what I planned next. I think it was...
5. Our photographer. This isn't a photo of our photographer, but it's one of Brandon's favorite shots of the day. Ryan is simply fantastic. I'm using that word a lot. Ryan is brilliant. His photos are exactly how I would have captured my wedding had I been my own photographer. Except his skill is way beyond mine.
6. The invitations. I made these and I'm so proud of them. My parents wanted something really traditional and I wanted it to be "us" (I can't tell you how many times I said/thought that in the 9 months I planned this thing). I searched and scoured the internet for watercolor invites, but everything was either too busy or too expensive AND I'd have to compromise on my color scheme vision. And that was not about to happen. So I ordered like 250 sheets of 5x7 cardstock from Paper Source, mixed some watercolors my dad had on hand and got to painting. I also designed the invites, I played with fonts and emailed Brandon proofs (we were long distance during the last 3 years of our dating). I included the "one B.A. reception to follow" as a placeholder for a more formal one and joked about keeping it to Brandon during one of our phone conversations. He chuckled and told me to keep it, that it was funny. So we kept it and didn't look back. In the end, it reminds me that we wanted an enjoyable, lively wedding that still incorporated tradition. And you know what? That's what we got.
7. The "Give Away." For me, it was of utmost importance that both my parents walk me down the aisle. My relationship with each of them is different, but there was no way on earth I could prioritize one over the other.
Image8. The flowers. You can't see all of the flowers in this shot, but just know they too were perfect. Daisies and stock and freesia and mini carnations (and more) all came together into a stunning element of the day. My florist nailed everything I wanted without ever showing me a model bouquet. It took a lot of trust, but boy was it worth it. That Eiffel Tower charm was from a bracelet my friend Jenny had gifted me. The charm fell off the bracelet, but thankfully I got to incorporate a teensy bit of my Parisian obsession into the wedding.
(I'm skipping so many details but I'm trying to keep this readable)
9. THE PROGRAMS. I worked so hard on these. Andrea drew out the cover, I scanned it and got to work. This and the invites were my biggest labors of love. Well and the cake topper. You're probably bored of hearing it, but the programs were everything I'd pictured. They were perfect. Perrrrfecctt.
10. The rings. Brandon's ring was his grandfather's original wedding band. Given that it's gold and my engagement ring is platinum and the fact having coordinating rings was important to us, I custom ordered my wedding band from Etsy. I adore looking down at my rings. They just go.
11. The Cake Topper. True to form, I put this off to the very end. Like, very end. As in the night before the wedding, the end. Maybe you all didn't need to know that. Oh well. I wanted to add some personality to our delicious cakes. Brandon's the reason I've even seen the Star Wars movies and I couldn't help but pay tribute to one of my favorite improve'd lines in film at our wedding. Btw, the cakes were made by our best man. The fact that he juggled baking these cakes, being in our wedding all while working insane hours at a newly opened restaurant after returning from a few months in China is in-cre-di-ble.
Okay That's all of the photos I'll give you. But I will tell you that Brandon's dad married us, his grandmother made our ring pillow, my garters and a purse, our toasting glasses and cake knives were etched with our names and were a gift from my parents, there were so many gorgeous lights that illuminated the night, our first dance was to Yellow, my sister sang her speech in a medley set to Disney tracks, our good friend catered the wedding and the last song of the night was September. So many of our friends and family made it to our day, it was humbling and overwhelming and just plain awesome. Our formal thank yous are on their way, but I'll take this chance to thank every single person who joined us in person or in thoughts on that day.
Now go stalk the Facebook photos! ;)



I saw that a couple of my Facebook friends had started doing one of those things I like to call a "status challenge." They closely resemble the wonderful surveys of Myspace and being that I loved Myspace for its surveys (and its option to play music on your page and play with html), I figured what better way to kick off the blog.
The following are 10 Random Facts About Me
  1. I've kept a diary since I was about 8 years old. My first diary was a blue and pink Hello Kitty one. I didn't fill that one with much, but finding/reading it as a teenager and adult was pretty cool. I abandoned the diary thing shortly after and just stuck with composition notebooks or other actual journals for my life/thought documenting. But the whole reason I write is...
  2. used to have this weird fear of getting amnesia or some kind of serious memory loss where I'd forget who I am, who I love, what my life is like, everything. This is why I started journaling in the first place and is probably the reason my instagram feed is so boring, except to me.
  3. My drawing skills are not incredible. Even my stick figures lack proportion. But the things I've naturally liked to draw are letters. Lettering and typography are so interesting to me. The shapes of letters and how they can look so different depending how you pen them...so cool. I've changed my writing a handful of times just because I wanted to.
  4. In kindergarten, I used to write my name out in the air  with both hands to help me distinguish my right from my left. I knew I was right handed (though I always wanted to be a lefty), so I would pay attention to whichever air-writing felt more natural to me to help me remember. I still do this on rare occasions.
  5. I've recently reached a place in my life where I realize that my hair is like Miley circa 2009(?): she cannot be tamed. My whole life I've resented my curls. Yeah, resented. All I wanted was to have pretty, easy hair that didn't require so much work and upkeep. I wanted straight hair. I wanted people to quit asking to touch my hair. I tried so many times to reach this ideal I'd put on myself and no matter what product I used, it was never what I wanted. So, at 23 years old, I said screw it. I'm rocking this. My curls are gifts from my grandmother and dad and I love that. Big curly hair, don't care.
  6. I like odd numbers because they can't be split evenly. So if you were dividing 17 people (my favorite number) in a line, one would be left in the center. You'd have one person center stage (wait we're on a stage now?) and then 8 people on either side of  her. That visual makes me happy, so I like odd numbers.
  7. Now, I promise I didn't save this fact for number 7, it just happened. I got married to my best friend on the day of our 7th year together, which also happened to be on the 7th day of September. Married life is thrilling and incredibly normal all at once. It's one of those things you can't answer in a sentence without that sentence being the generic, "It's great. I love it." or any permutation of that.
  8. I find great joy in dancing. Not trained dancing, though I've always loved that stuff too. I'm talking about jumping around my room/dorm/apartment pretending like I'm in a music video...and not just in a music video, but the star of the music video. Or like I'm in concert! I walk strut across the living room to the beat and dance and belt out whatever songs I feel like. And let's not forget the private concerts that my car serves as a venue for. Unabashedly dancing is so much fun.
  9. Given that I'm not super artsy (i.e. I don't play an instrument, sing for personal recreation only, can't draw, don't know what to do with a paintbrush, am not a dancer), I take to my clothing to express a solid amount of my individuality. I try to always look and feel like myself in my clothes. I hardly wear the same outfit twice, in fact I challenge myself not to. Like I said, this is my creative outlet. My outfits are never too intricate, but I put a lot of thought behind how I put my clothes together and I thoroughly enjoy that process.
  10. I really, really like movies. My favorite kind of movie is one that strikes me about my current perceptions about life. Movies that make me reflect on my values and my approach to life, even if that's not the point of the film (most of the time it isn't), turn into instant favorites. Perks of Being a Wallflower, for example. However, my favorite movie of all time is Chicago, because it's visually stunning and it used stage methodsduring filming and...because it's a musical.
So there we go. 10 random, pretty personal facts about  me. Welcome to My Favorite Hoody! I hope you stick around.
♥ A