3.31.2015

A Little Celebration & Some TNT {Tacos N Tequila}


There have been many reasons to celebrate around our household lately, and if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram at all, you'll probably recognize this gorgeous arrangement of roses and orchids that Matt gave me for our tenth wedding anniversary.  Yes, TEN. WHOLE. YEARS!!  I know, you're thinking I don't look a day over 21, so how can this possibly be?  I can hardly believe it myself.  Our life together has been filled with so many big moves and changes, that logically, my head agrees that it must be ten years.  But time flies when you're having fun, and my heart is having a hard time agreeing.  

What did we do to celebrate this magical occasion, you ask?  Well, let's see... it was a Tuesday night.  I had a few deadlines between my job and some freelancing I was doing for a friend.  And our night involved chicken wings, waffle fries, and eating at one of the drafting tables at my office until 1:30 am.  But we were together.  That makes it alright, right?  


 
In all fairness, we are trying to find a time to take an amazing anniversary trip, which will make up for said actual anniversary.  And that's where celebration number two comes in - Matt has been offered a position with the FAA {Federal Aviation Administration} {the government agency that runs all of our airports} that he has really wanted since he first decided to get out of the Marine Corps, and we couldn't be more excited!  

As with anything involving the government, the background checks and hiring process in general has been slow.  We are expecting the clearances to take at least a month to finish up before we even begin to get an idea of when he will start.  And just like the military, a new job means a new class, usually located somewhere other than where you live.  The FAA Academy is in Oklahoma City {which I'm not gonna to lie, I was a little bummed that it is not located in southern California or somewhere on the east coast, or somewhere cool at all}, and he will most likely be living there for 2-3 months. 

Those are literally all of the details we currently have, which means we don't know if they will let him finish his four classes he's enrolled in right now, or if we will get to have that anniversary trip I mentioned before, or even if he'll be around for our Spartan Race and friends coming out to Austin to visit.  Which is obviously making me go insane.  So, until these questions are answered, we are trying to celebrate, and not go insane.  And by we, I mean me of course.

Since our last celebratory dinner involved hanging out with the midnight cleaning crew at my office, we decided to take the opportunity the night Matt received his offer letter to go out and have a real dinner, Austin-style.  There are so many fun places here that I want to eat at, so we decided to check one off of my list and try a new one - TNT {Tacos N Tequila}, which is on the west side of downtown. 




What a cool little place!  The décor was simple and modern, kind of like their menu.  They had such unique combinations of drinks and tacos - it seems like they stick to what they're great at.  Even the "chips and salsa" that they provide you with when you first sit down is uniquely theirs - different dips with sweet potato, terra-like chips.  We tried a few different types of tacos, all rich in colors, flavor and freshness, but I think we both agreed that the pulled pork was the best by far! 



My favorite feature is this incredible focal-point of a tequila rack over the bar area - entirely constructed of rebar, and such a cool way to display the bottles and glasses.  It was a beautiful spring night, and afterward, we went for a walk down 5th and 6th streets, stopping at Amy's for some ice cream to top off the night.  We are so thankful for our last ten years together and for our future together that this job represents.  Getting that news was honestly the first real time I have felt like we were meant to be in Austin.  Up until this point, I feel like we've just kind of been trying to trust our instincts.  Looking forward to what God has in store for us in the future!


3.21.2015

Gun Crate Turned Coffee Table

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I have been on the hunt for an authentic gun crate for some time now.  I want to work some DIY magic on it and turn it into a rustic {and also awesome} coffee table / storage chest.  I love my stores like Homegoods and World Market, but if there is ever an opportunity to have something authentic as a piece in my home, I'm all for it.  And this is no exception.  Sure, I could go out and buy a pre-distressed, industrial-style trunk to use as a coffee table, but how cool would having something with so much character be instead??

After seeing the size and details of a Mosin Nagant crate {a Russian rifle} at our local sporting goods store, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  The store wanted $150 for it, which I was not about to pay.
I dragged Matt all around Austin to different military surplus stores, and stalked Ebay and Etsy until I finally realized that they are a little more rare than I had originally thought.  Fast forward a couple of months, and said sporting goods store is wanting to make space in their store and needs to sell the crate.  Time to strike.  Matt ended up surprising me one night when he came home with the crate hanging out the back of my Jetta - and he scored it for a mere $70!  I definitely was not expecting that!


I thought I'd share some "before" shots of the crate with you all {please do your best to not look at all that other crap in our garage} - although, I'm not sure how different the "after" shots are going to be just yet.  I don't want to remove all of the paint and markings, but I do want to sand it down a bit, maybe clean up that hardware and fix the inside to be a nice holding place for some extra blankets or throw pillows.  There isn't much of a need to make it "rustic" looking - as you can see, it already has that going on {there's even a very real screw sticking out of it that needs to be removed}!





I'm looking forward to working on this crate + creating a unique piece for our family room with it.  Keep an eye out for an upcoming post {not sure when, but upcoming} showing the finished product in our space!

Thanks for following - I'm glad you're here!

3.17.2015

{Recipe} My Favorite Green Smoothie



I'm sure by now you've heard the benefits of green smoothies preached over and over.  But, I'm here to tell you that it really is the truth!  They are nutritious, hydrating, filling and best of all, they really help me take a healthier approach to curbing my sweet tooth.  Which automatically kicks in immediately after eating anything.  It's one of those habits I'm trying to kick.

Anyway, I've tried a lot of different green smoothie recipes in the past, but there is one that I keep coming back to time and time again.  Because it just tastes so good!  So, today, I'm going to share with you my go-to green smoothie recipe as well as what each ingredient does for the body.  Try this out as part of a breakfast, a dessert, or even a post-gym snack.


Tropical Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

100% Pure Coconut Water {no sugar added - this is delicious + incredibly hydrating}

Greek yogurt {for some creaminess + added protein - the one I use is honey flavored from Yoplait}

Frozen banana slices
Frozen mango chunks
Frozen pineapple chunks 
{feel free to add or subtract any fruit you like or dislike - I sometimes use peaches as well.  Just remember that any red or blue fruit will definitely change the pretty green color of this smoothie to a less appetizing one}

Frozen chopped spinach {rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Folate + Iron, among others}

Vanilla protein powder {especially when I want to feel full to start off my work day or directly following a muscle-building workout}

Honey {for a little added natural sweetness}

Chia seeds {rich in omega-3 + fiber}



Disclaimer: I don't measure anything for my smoothies.  I just eye-ball it, and I suggest you do the same.  You really can't mess it up!

I generally like to start out any smoothie by blending the wet ingredients, and then slowly adding in the dry ingredients.  I just find that this prevents my blender from getting stuck.  For this recipe, blend coconut water and a spoon-full of greek yogurt to start.  Slowly add in the frozen fruit, blending until smooth.

Add in the chopped frozen spinach, honey and protein powder, and blend until all pieces of the spinach are pretty much gone or very tiny.  {The smoothie should look like a solid light green, with very few chunks of spinach visible}.  Add in more coconut water as necessary to achieve your desired thickness.

You can choose to blend the chia seeds into your smoothie as well, but I tend to pour the smoothie into my glass {or favorite mason jar} and then stir them in after the fact.  Chia seeds expand and become gel-like when they get wet, and I have found that they stick very badly to the inside of my blender.  Which takes me forever to clean out.  Which is not how I like to spend my time.  So, my solution is to mix them directly into the smoothie - crisis averted.  Enjoy!







3.13.2015

{Thoughts on} Happiness



Does anyone else have a mind that just won't shut off no matter what?  It's one of my life's goals to find a way to shut my mind off and just BE.  Still working on it.  I haven't been doing a lot of posting on the blog lately {apologies}, mainly because I have been doing a lot of thinking {go figure} and soul searching these past couple of weeks.  The topic on my mind lately: true happiness and what that looks like.  Specifically, what does it look like for me (and for my husband)?

Some of my close friends and family members know that I've actually struggled to find happiness quite a bit in the past couple of years since moving back to the States.  It's something that I don't talk about a lot, and you'd probably never guess it by looking at my Facebook page or Instagram posts {ahhh, the magic of that rose-colored lens known as social media}.  But I will say that it has less to do with the fact that the actual move was such a big one, and more to do with the idea that we once had a very stress-free, almost vacation-like life for 4 years.  A life that contrasts quite a bit with what life is like in America for us today - even in laid-back and sunny Austin. 

So, I've been searching for something that I can't quite wrap my mind around - what does my "happy" look like?  What is my passion?  Where is my career headed?  Will I be a mom?  Will I have both career and kids?  Where do we belong?  It's different for everyone, and to be honest, I thought I'd have it all figured out by the time I was 29.  Not so. I believe your definition of happy changes over time.  It changes as you go through life and have new and different and life-changing experiences.  And no matter how much you are the same person, you never really are again.  That's where I have been for the past couple of years, and that is where I am today.

Last week, I heard about a documentary, appropriately named "Happy" on Netflix.  And since Netflix is all we have at our house {I'm not even kidding, we really don't have any TV channels}, I was super excited.  It came at a good time, a time when I am really trying to figure out what happiness looks like for me.  The documentary followed people from all different parts of the world, in all different financial situations, and it aimed to measure happiness, just like doctors can measure depression in a person.

I almost cried when they featured beautiful Okinawa, where there happens to be an incredibly large population of happy, healthy, and stress-free people over the age of 100.  No wonder we miss it so much!  According to their research, almost half of a person's happiness comes from having new experiences, even something as simple as driving a different way home from work.  Variety.  Not the same old grind.  Interesting.  It also has a lot to do with your relationships with the people around you and with God.  And the final thing that played a factor in one's happiness: service to others.  One quote that really resonated with me was, "For me, my life is like a loan given from God, and I will give this loan back, but with interest".  I love that.  I want to do something with my life.  And I crave those new experiences, those relationships. 

I'm beginning to come to the realization that I am unintentionally getting so wrapped up in my thoughts that it's causing me to put too much emphasis on tangible things.  Career.  Money.  Kids.  House.  Having to figure it all out right now.  The ideal "American Dream" is getting to me, to say the least.  And after spending the past couple of weeks thinking, praying, thinking some more, having some serious talks with my husband, and, yes, watching documentaries, I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to let these things go and not have it all figured out.  {I didn't say it was easy for me, but it is okay}.  That true happiness transcends your situation and brings the focus back to God.  He's the only thing that stays constant & provides true happiness.  Pour your life into relationships, new experiences, and serving others, all while keeping your main focus on God.  See life through God's lens.

It's okay that I haven't got everything figured out yet as I'm nearing the end of my twenties.  But I'm starting to understand what is really important in life as I get older, and where true happiness lies for me.  After all, aren't we all a work in progress?