Deployment Diaries #… who knows, anymore.

Is this deployment seriously not over yet? Ugh.

We’ve been in the double digits for a while, and by Friday that first digit will have dropped again, and our percentage of time remaining will move into the 20% range. Yay!

Anyways. Labor Day will be here soon, and that’s pretty much the end of summer (thank God!), so I thought it was time to revisit my deployment bucket list, and see how I’ve been doing.

  1. Change up my hair. DONE, and DONE. I went blonde very early in the deployment, but a couple of weeks ago I had Tabby chop off about four inches and take it even blonder. I’m ready for it to grow out a liiiiiittttttle bit more, but I love the color!

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2. Successfully complete a Whole30. DONE. Although, apparently I’ve lost my mind, because I’m considering doing another one. My eating habits have been horrible lately, and I’ve consumed more alcohol in the past month than I have in the rest of my 32 years COMBINED. I really feel like I need to reset my system. I’m still thinking about it, but I’m not going to take the plunge until I’ve committed to it 100%.

3. Lose 30 lbs. Um…

4. Continue to be social. YES. Hands down, this has been the most social summer of my life! Friday night, Sarah & I hosted a going away party for Shana & Elliott. All of our Radius friends came, and we had a really fun night. Too much fun (Courtney made amazing Jell-O shots…). Hence considering another Whole30 on Saturday morning….

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Cosmopolitan Jell-O Shots

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Butterbeer Jello-O Shots

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5.Purge my closet. Yep. I have a bunch of stuff I’m trying to get rid of, so if anyone wants to buy capris or chinos in a size 8 or 10, let me know!

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6. Cultivate my interests. Well, this is half done. My photography class is now finished, but I’ve been unable to find a sewing class. Everything I’m finding is very specific. I don’t need to learn to make my own clothes, or make a dress. I just need to learn the basics of using the damned thing. I did really enjoy my photography class though, and I’m enjoying continuing to learn my camera, and saving for another camera. Hopefully by the time I’ve saved up enough for a new camera (the one I have is fine, I just want a full frame one), I’ll have learned enough to feel like the cost is worth it.

7. Read the Complete Works of Jane Austen, and one book a week. Eh. Last time, I changed this to “Read the Complete Works of Jane Austen, and one book a month. I’ve read 7 books this summer (well… most have been audio books…) but last week I finally gave up on Jane Austen, and gave the book to a friend. I just can’t. The books I have made it through have been very enjoyable. My friend Heather recommended Liane Moriarty’s books to me. I’ve read two (Big, Little Lies & The Husband’s Secret), and both have been very enjoyable. I’ve also read The Royal We (basically Kate Middleton fanfiction, and I loved every second of it), and the Book of Speculation, which was a little weird, but also enjoyable. Next on the list is A Window Opens, by Elizabeth Egan, and What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty.

summer reading

8. Purge the magazines I’ve been hoarding. DONE. And recycled them by giving them to a friend’s son, who wants to be a chef someday.

9. Save money/pay off debt. Well, we still have two months left of this deployment, but YES. Thanks to the increase in G’s pay, & finally getting our tax returns, we’ve actually paid off a substantial amount of credit card debt since Graham has been gone. By the time he gets home, we will have paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt! Just in time for the student loans I’ve been putting off for 6 years to finally start getting repaid…

I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve accomplished this summer. Well, except for the weight loss… But I’m so ready for G to get home, so we can get on with our lives. We’re buying a house when he gets back, and I’m SO ready for that. Our apartment complex was sold last month, and none of us who live here are really happy with the change. ESPECIALLY the change in rent… Before, we had the option of signing a 6 month, 12 month, 18 month lease, or going month to month. NOW, if we sign anything less than a 12 month, the price skyrockets. A friend’s lease us up for renewal. They currently pay around $1400. If they were to sign a 6 month, or go month to month, it would be about $2300. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. This is Newport News, Virginia. Not DC or Boston! So yeah. We’re DEFINITELY moving! We’ve been looking at houses all summer, and there are two that I’m completely in love with. Fingers crossed that they’re still around when we’re ready to buy.

So, that’s been my summer. And I’m so ready for fall I can’t stand it.

Be a Part of the First Crowdsourced Cabernet!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Columbia Crest. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

One of the most fun things about being an adult is wine. Romantic dinners & girls nights are just much, much more fun with a glass of wine, than a glass of diet soda. When I first started drinking wine, I went for the fruitiest, sweetest white wine I could possibly find. As I’ve gotten older, and tried different wines at different places, my tastes have slowly began to change. I’m now enjoying other whites, besides a glass of moscato, and I actually found myself enjoying a glass of red a few weeks ago.

To me, wine is a very personal experience. Regardless of what people tell you that you’ll taste or smell, everyone has a different experience. I always see all of the descriptive words on the bottles, and those words help me decide which wines I’m going to buy. I tend to gravitate towards “notes of citrus”, “fresh”, “light”, “crisp”, and so on. When I drink a wine though, I always take my first sip, and then think of things that would make me enjoy it more. But, since I’m in Newport News, Virginia, and not on a vineyard or in a winery, I have very little say in how wine is made.

Until now.

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I’m not buying a winery, or having a wine make make a bottle customized to my specifications exactly, but Columbia Crest is answering the call for a more personal wine experience with their Crowdsourced Cabernet.

In 2014, Columbia Crest became the first winery to crowdsource a wine from vineyard, to table. They’ve set aside an acre of grapes for this project, and every week, people can go online and cast their vote on every aspect of the wine making process. You get to vote on things like whether or not the grapes are harvested at night, whether or not the grapes should be crushed, & which fermenter should be used.

Their website is very cool, and very informative. You can check out the weather in the area, the condition of the acreage and the vines, and even see videos of the fields and the grapes.

The general public also gets to vote on a single person to serve as the representative of the online community, as the first ECO (executive crowdsourcing officer.

If you want more information about Crowdsource Cabernet, or Columbia Crest,  check out their various social media channels:

Crowdsourced Cabernet Website
Columbia Crest Facebook page
Columbia Crest Twitter page
Columbia Crest Instagram page
Columbia Crest YouTube page

And don’t forget to go vote! You have until 8/24!

What I’m Loving Wednesday

It’s Wednesday! Yay! Another day closer to the weekend. I haven’t felt 100% this week. My allergies have been kicking my butt. I take Benadryl so I can sleep, but I don’t get enough sleep, so I feel like in the next morning.

Anyways. Onto the stuff I’m loving this week….

This wallpaper. I. DIE. I am DEFINITELY buying a few rolls of this for our next house. I’m not going to lie… this isn’t cheap. It’s priced at $140 for a 27″ x 30′ roll. So, I’m obviously not going to do a whole room in it. but for an accent wall… heck yeah! If you don’t love blue as much as I do, they also have the same pattern in gray. And the best part?

100% of profits from this design will be donated to Copper’s Dream Animal Rescue in San Francisco and Midwest Animal Rescue in Minneapolis to help dogs find the loving homes they all deserve.

Bake. Create. Love. | Dog WallpaperDo y’all know that the pineapple is considered a symbol of hospitality in several southern cities, including Williamsburg? When we first moved to Virginia, pineapples were EVERYWHERE. I finally asked about them, and a lady in one of the shops at Colonial Williamsburg told me that the pineapple was a symbol of hospitality. I saw this darling pineapple ring on Kate’s blog & pinned it immediately! Bake. Create. Love. | Pineapple Ring My friend Lindsay is a Noonday rep, and shared this necklace on her Facebook page the other day. I was instantly in love with the firelight necklace. My wardrobe is pretty muted, especially in the fall, and I would love to use this necklace to add some color to my outfits. Bake. Create. Love. | NoondayG & I are in the process of updating our luggage. Well, I’m in the process of updating our luggage. For his birthday, I bought him a huge new suitcase, so his ratty old one can be used exclusively for deployments, and I sold all of my old Vera Bradley luggage. Which means I’m now left with a Swiss Army wheeled carry on bag, and a hot pink Nike duffel bag. I’d like to add to it a large suitcase for myself, and the Belmont Cabin Bag for weekend getaways. I love everything about this bag… You can choose your pattern & color, You can choose to have the leather square embossed with your initials. I love the leather trim and the functionality of both the handles, and the shoulder strap. Bake. Create. Love. | Belmont Cabin BagThe Ginger Zinger cookies from Tate’s Bakeshop have been added to the list of snacks that I’m not allowed to bring into the apartment. I already have very little self control when it comes to boring snacks, like animal crackers & Oreos. And these delicious, crispy, chewy, gingery cookies? Forget it. I’m embarrassed to tell you how quickly I killed the bag of these I picked up at Fresh Market…GPCky7oz6pkGFGZ_1

Deployment Diaries #13

Another fun weekend, another weekend closer to Graham being home! My weekend started with a delicious key lime pie cupcake from Smallcakes in Williamsburg…
2015-08-07 11.13.56… and a great mid-century modern find from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I’ve been on the hunt for another MCM dresser (a tall one, this time) and while I keep coming up empty handed, I was happy to find this adorable end table, in excellent condition (and for $25). I’m about to make a hypocrite of myself… but I think I’m going to paint it. Not all of it. Just the pegs in between the tiers, and I want to do dipped legs. We’ll see though.
table Friday night was a lot of fun. We had a girl’s night at Elise’s apartment. We had tons of food, and even more alcohol. And I felt like absolute CRAP the next morning.
2015-08-07 19.34.45-12015-08-07 21.11.41I woke up the next morning and wanted to die. Instead, I went to Norfolk to the Bakehouse at Chelsea and had pepperoni pizza and a nectarine turnover. Both were divine.
2015-08-08 12.22.102015-08-08 12.23.45-12015-08-08 12.36.55-12015-08-08 12.32.57-1Sunday morning I woke up fairly early, and took Hermione for a much needed walk. It’s been so hot lately, so I’ve been going to the gym instead of walking Hermione. We went to Yorktown, and it was such a gorgeous day. I let her swim for a bit, and then we spotted an eagle, which was quite cool. 2015-08-09 10.59.54-1I came home, and found the cats in my empty bed. They’re so lazy. And so adorable I can’t stand it. 2015-08-09 12.03.49-1Sunday night, some friend’s and I made a visit to Le Mu. It was their “fan favorites” menu, and everything was so delicious. I had the chili & soy glazed shrimp and the curry grits, and then fig & apple cobbler with lavender gelato. Oh my… Everything was so good. 2015-06-14 02.29.052015-08-09 19.04.51-1It was a fun week, and the weekend flew by as usual. G & I are inching our way towards our homecoming date, and I could not be more ready. We still have a while to go (the date is sometime in October), but thanks to all of my little ways of counting down, it doesn’t feel that bad. With my M&M countdown, I have two yellow M&Ms left, and then just two colors remaining (we started with 5). I have one care package left to send. Percentage wise we’re in the 30%. I have a tentative number of days remaining, but I’m not telling what that is.

Our post-deployment vacation is booked! Too bad we’re not going until the day after Thanksgiving… I’m really looking forward to it, though. We’re going to Orlando for a few days and then we’re hopping on a cruise ship in Miami, and going to the Bahamas. I’m so excited! Now, I just need to cut back on the cupcakes and actually lose some weight…

Harry Potter, Sand Art & Jello Shots… Happy Weekend.

Did y’all know that Friday was not only Harry Potter’s birthday, but also JK Rowling’s 50th birthday? These birthday messages from members of the cast made me smile.

I decided to celebrate their birthdays with a Harry Potter movie marathon. It was a pretty excellent way to spend a weekend. 2015-07-31 15.42.44-1Saturday I headed to Hampton to the American Theatre in Phoebus and watched the monks of Drepung Loseling create a sand-painted mandala. They were featured on the 3rd season of House of Cards, and I’m in awe of what they created. You can read more about them & their sand mandala here.

Every single speck of color is made of sand. Insanity. And so beautiful. 2015-08-01 11.30.122015-08-01 11.32.502015-08-01 11.33.24After seeing the monks, I headed to the pool. My friends and I had the pool almost entirely to ourselves. There was beer, wine, Jello shots…2015-08-01 13.46.03This summer had the potential to seriously suck… but these people (along with my mom, mother-in-law, and friends – Brittany, Kelly & Heather) helped make it a lot of fun. 2015-08-01 14.03.08-1Saturday night, I had Hermione’s BFF come over to hang out. These two are so much fun. They ran around like crazy things all night, and right before Rhaego went home they spent a good 20 minutes running in circles around the ottoman. 2015-08-01 18.06.45I spent Sunday taking it easy. I went to the gym for a while, and then came back here and spent the day doing absolutely nothing. It was lovely. Dinner was simple. I swear I’m on the verge of becoming a vegetarian, and I’m incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet. I made a large pot of Mexican Quinoa for dinner, and a few lunches. 2015-08-02 17.28.58-1 2015-08-02 17.28.50-1

The most delicious weekend.

My longtime friend, Heather, came to visit this past weekend. She arrived on Friday, and left on Monday.

By the time she had left, I likely weighed 10 lbs. more. I’ve enjoyed each of the visitors I’ve had this summer, but since we’re both foodies, dining out was definitely the most fun this time.

We started out the weekend with dinner & drinks at Luna Maya. We had spicy guacamole, stuffed poblanos & tamales.
2015-07-24 18.15.55 This is actually the same thing I ordered the first time I ate there. I was happy not to have a table in a dark hole this time, so I could actually get a decent photo of my food. 2015-07-24 18.26.51-1Saturday night, we went to one of my absolute favorites: Venture. When we got there, there was a wait, but there was seating available at the bar. There were no menus at the moment, so the bartender asked what I was in the mood for, and picked my drink for me. He made me the El Diablo, and it was delicious. I’m really glad I let him pick for me. I’ve actually looked at this drink on the menu every time, but had never ordered it. 2015-07-25 20.11.03-1We also ordered way too much food. We started with the pimiento cheese & grilled bread. It was still bubbling when he brought it out, and was so good. We also had the tots (of course), and the seared tuna. 2015-07-25 20.39.08-1We also shared a pizza, or, a beet-za. This pizza was roasted beet, fresh basil, roasted garlic, tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, & arugula. 2015-07-25 21.04.15-1Sunday morning, we had brunch at the Handsome Biscuit. When we arrived, the line was out the door. They really need to expand… The teeny-tiny building is cute, but not practical. We both had biscuits, blackberry agua-frescas & shared an order of hashbrowns. 2015-07-26 11.53.54-12015-07-26 11.52.01And of course we went to Le Mu on Sunday night. The menu that night was one of the most unique that he’s featured so far, and everything we had was delicious.

We started with the country ham croquettes. They were served with a cheddar mornay (a fancy term for a bechamel sauce with added cheese) and chard. This was so good. I had never had a croquette before, but I’d order them again! And the chard… so perfect. 11051810_10102068160995947_8269051497136614978_nI had the japanese rice noodle bowl with roasted beets, pickled daikon, bean sprouts, napa cabbage & a strawberry-lime vinaigrette. This was delicious, and the dressing was amazing. It had just enough sweetness, and I couldn’t get enough of the color. 2015-07-26 19.04.42-1And dessert… for the first time, something on his menu was too out there for me. I love funnel cakes. They bring back fond memories of summers at Carowinds with my family. But the thought of a funnel cake with sweetened red beans was a little intimidating. I went for it though, and was blown away by how delicious it was. All of the flavors & textures worked together perfectly. 2015-07-26 19.31.03-2And Monday, before she headed back to Charlotte, we stopped by the Barking Dog for lunch, and had their fish tacos. These are super simple, and so good. By far my favorite fish tacos ever. 2015-07-27 11.51.42-12015-07-27 11.51.55-1

And with that, my summer of visitors is over. Honestly, it feels like summer is over (thank God). I’ve missed Graham this summer, but I’ve also had a lot of fun. But bring on fall! I’m ready for sweaters, boots, pumpkin flavored everything, the holidays, and buying a new house!

What I’m Loving Wednesday

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these… Oops. Lately I’ve just tried a lot more things that I haven’t liked, and no one wants to read my whining… But here are five things I’ve tried lately, that I have absolutely LOVED!
8ef186f72a02885484dee03bc511ce27My friend Heather recommended this book to me a couple of weeks ago, and I LOVED it. I listened to it on audiobook, which is fine normally, but one day I got out of the car & wasn’t ready to stop listening. So, I brought my iPod inside with me, and listened to it for the rest of the day. Seriously. I spent 6 hours, laying on the couch, listening to my book. I was really tempted just to go down the street to Barnes & Noble, and buy an actual copy of the book, but that felt wasteful.

966Spongelle-Infused-Body-Wash-Buffer-Coconut-VerbenaI received one of these sponges in my last Pop Sugar Must Have Box, and I LOVED it. You get about 12-14 washes from each sponge, but then you can lather the sponge up with your own body wash when it’s not doing it’s job anymore. They included a 30% off coupon in the box, and I’m definitely going to buy a few more of these. I think they’d be so great for traveling.

8002fffaae23f41915a0ab11086c1947Most women become obsessed with skincare when they hit 30. For me, it was 31 & 1/2. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect moisturizer, and I think this one may be it. It’s thick enough, so it actually feels nice going on, but it’s not heavy. I can actually put it on at night & in the morning, and not feel like an oily mess an hour after getting to work.

cat drawer pullsThis cat drawer pull from Anthropologie. I ordered these back in May, and I could have SWORN I’ve already written about them, but a search through my blog says otherwise. Anyways. So cute. They’re a little pricey, so I only ordered two (one for each nightstand), but I absolutely LOVE them.

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I’ve been going back & forth on getting a Clarisonic Mia for a while after reading Christina’s thoughts about it, and a few weeks ago, I finally splurged. I’ve been using it for 3-4 weeks now, and I can already see a difference in my skin. I’ve always had TERRIBLE skin. Lots of break outs, uneven skin tone, blackheads, you name it. I typically won’t leave the house without a full face of make up (liquid foundation, pressed powder, blush, mascara), and lately I haven’t had to do that. Unless I’m going out with friends, these days I just put on a little tinted moisturizer and I’m good to go. My skin tone is evening out, I haven’t had as many break outs, and my skin feels so smooth!