S+S Wedding: Mood Boards!

sarahsheltonforever

If you follow me on Pinterest, then you already know that my wedding inspiration board, “i said yes,” is getting all kinds of action these days. But even though I am pinning just about everything that involves a mason jar and glitter, I thought it’d be a good idea for me to hone my vision a little bit… and share with you, of course! Shelton and I are in the throws of planning a beach wedding in Port Aransas, Texas, and while there are still some details to figure out, we are close to having everything done. And that is such a good feeling. Since this is not our first trip down the aisle (pun intended), we are approaching the whole planning process different. It’s much more laid back (though I don’t think it’s possible for me not have at least one freak out — I’ll save that story for another post). The beach is so special for us, and remains to be the one place we return to again and again… it only makes sense that we solidify our beach love with a beach wedding.

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beach wedding mood board | sweetandsavorylife.com

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I have known for a while that I wanted gold to be a main theme/color in our wedding. When Taylor Swift’s Red album came out, in the booklet included with the CD she talked about that the only love she has experienced could only be described as “red.” Full of passion, but also short-lived — burning out. (I am paraphrasing here.) She went on to describe that real love must shine like gold, and that maybe one day, when she had experienced that kind of love she would write an album about what that felt like. I know this is odd and fairly random, but that little thought stuck with me. The love I share with Shelton is a lifetime love — and it sparkles more and more every day. So, gold. And lots of it.

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beach wedding mood board | sweetandsavorylife.com

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I’d like the ceremony setup to be fairly simple with small romantic details, like the flow-y fabric shown on the archway. I guess if I had to specify an overall theme for this event, it would be… gypsy chic. I definitely want the reception decor to be fun and a little unexpected, with random things hanging from the ceiling and plenty of Christmas lights. Kitschy is good, very good. And there will be plenty of mason jars, because, duh. It’s 2014 and the mason jar trend is still in full swing and I am 100% okay with looking back at pictures 20 years from now and chuckling a little bit, hopefully thinking, “That was just so 2014.”

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beach wedding mood board | sweetandsavorylife.com

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Yup, I am really am taking the gold to a new level. It’s gonna be on my body, too. I am not exactly sure how, but I am gonna figure it out. For my day-of wedding style, I’d like to keep my hair/make up fresh and not too “done up.” I think these earrings are so simple and sweet. Etsy will definitely be getting a good chunk of my money when it comes to accessories. No surprise there.

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beach wedding mood board | sweetandsavorylife.com

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And of course! DIYs for days. Once our ceremony/reception details are ironed out, I plan on combing through all the DIYs I’ve pinned to make a decision on just which ones we will attempt. There are so many things I know can be cut with the Silhouette, and others I can easily style myself, like banners, glittered letters, and definitely something using the rest of the antique brass keys I found from an estate sale forever ago. A good crafter never gets rid of anything, and my stash is very, very full.

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October cannot get here fast enough! I am so excited that all of this is actually happening. Being with Shelton is like living in a fairy tale, and to know that we’ll officially be husband and wife this year is just an awesome realization. I hope to have much more wedding intel very soon. Like I said, we are figuring more and more out every day. Consider this wedding post the first of many!

-The Future Mrs. Alves

The Proposal

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So, picking up right where I left off in last month’s epic update, February 4th was shaping up to be your average Tuesday night. Well, as average as it could be with us in the midst of moving across country… We picked up food from Moe’s and settled in to watch some TV. Recently, I’ve become addicted to Alex & Ani bracelets, and had purchased two the previous weekend. They all have special meanings and I just love a trinket. As a surprise, Shelton got me one more to add to my collection, and he hid it in the utensil drawer. It was wrapped in black and white paper with an obnoxiously large pink bow.

When we got back to the apartment with the takeout from Moe’s, he told me to go get him a spoon for the queso. So, I did, but I didn’t see the gift in the drawer. I blame my severe hunger at the time. All I could think about was food! I gave him the spoon and sat down, proceeding to dress my salad. If he looked dumbfounded, I can’t remember. Then, I realized I didn’t have a fork, so I got up to get one. But… I still didn’t see the gift in the utensil drawer. As I walked back to the couch, he was laughing a little bit. “What?” I asked him. “Oh, nothing,” he replied. “You’re just funny.” Okay, I thought, and proceeded to plow through my salad.

A little bit later, he asks me to get him a new straw because his has a “hole” in it. I oblige, get him a straw from the same drawer, and still don’t see the gift. When I handed it to him, there was a sincere look of defeat on his face. “This isn’t the right straw,” he proclaimed. “This straw will work just fine,” I rebutted. He just laughed, and said, “Sarah, it’s the wrong straw. Go look again.”

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Oh. I walked back into the kitchen, opened the drawer, and finally, I saw the big pink bow. I opened it up and immediately put the bracelet on my arm — now I had three! So exciting. In addition to the Path of Life and Feather charms, Shelton had given me the Because I Love You charm. It was so special. I immediately took a picture and posted it to Instagram (duh). We laughed at my cluelessness and Shelton told me that everything he did in life, he did it because he loved me, and he never wanted me to forget that. It was a sweet moment. He then grabbed my iPad and pulled up my Instagram. “Let’s look at all the pictures you’ve posted since we moved to North Carolina.” I was ecstatic, because there is really nothing more I love than revisiting our memories. As we scrolled through, we reminisced on all the good times we’d had. All the fun and silliness, the many beers we drank at Sup Dogs and our string of crazy nights with our NC friends. We talked about how amazing living in North Carolina had been, and how we’d always miss it. But that there were even better things ahead of us.

He stood up and said, “Let’s dance.” I feel like I need to interject and say that this evening is a what a normal evening at home is like for us. A little bit of food, a little bit of TV, but always a lot of love, a lot of sharing, and a lot of us appreciating one another. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to ask me to dance, because we do this at least once a week. He put on a sweet song and we swayed to the music in the living room. The Because I Love You charm signifies that the person you give it to has a piece of your soul. Shelton told me that I would always have a piece of his. There were more sweet things like this said. It was a beautiful moment. I felt so calm, so at ease, so happy. Then he pulled away from me and I felt confused. He got down on one knee, and pulled a little box out of his back pocket. More things were said, but I can’t remember them now. I cried like a baby. When I think back on it, I can just feel the outpouring of love between us, the connection there, and the sheer joy I felt. This was the moment. The most adorable part? He had opened the box upside down. I’ll never forget that mental image of him on one knee with the box in his hands and all the moving boxes half-way packed all around him. It was perfect. It was so us. I said yes, and he put the ring on my finger.

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Then I hopped up and down in sheer excitement that we were really engaged. It was really happening. It is really happening — we’ll get married this year and I’ll become Sarah Alves and we will live happily ever after. In Texas.

-S

A Post of Epic Proportions

“I have felt a definite shift in my life over the past few months and I just know that 2014 is going to be chock-full of amazing things.”

That is a direct quote from my last post, and wow, I really had no idea the events that would be taking place almost immediately after that blog. Those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook are already privy to the massive amount of change I have experienced, but just for sh*ts and giggles, I wanted to do a post compiling everything. Just because it’s nuts. And amazing. But borderline unbelievable.

Also, (SPOILER ALERT) I don’t have a job right now, so I (yet again) have time during the day to blog.

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January was a month for the books. We rung in 2014 with a bang in the VIP section of the Greenville Hilton, and then decided to start planning a game night party for all our friends. This is always a bit selfish on mine and Shelton’s part, because it’s our personal mission in life to introduce our friends to hobby board games like Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Dominion, the list just goes on. The point is to get them addicted, which is so easy because these games aren’t of the Monopoly variety (snore). Our game night was a huge success — apparently I won Cards Against Humanity, but I don’t remember that part (oops).

With the holidays over and the new year in full swing, all my personal vacation days for 2014 had kicked in and we decided to take a weekend trip to Washington, DC! It was an incredible experience — we totally fell in love with that city and did everything we could in the 3 days we were there. It was an unforgettable trip, and has only reinforced our addictions to Homeland, Scandal and House of Cards. Like, majorly reinforced these addictions.

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We hit the following spots/museums:

Busboys & Poets / The Holocaust Museum / The Museum of American History / The White House / Ted’s Bulletin / The International Spy Museum / National Archives / The Lincoln Memorial / Korean War Memorial / Vietnam War Memorial / Washington Monument / Jefferson Memorial / The Pentagon / Arlington Cemetery / The Capitol / Georgetown

We got around via the Metro, Big Bus Tour Routes and our feet. I would recommend the Big Bus tour to anyone — it was a fantastic way to see the whole city in a short time frame. Also, going in the winter meant less tourists, so we never felt herded around and got to spend as much time in the museums as we wanted. The Holocaust Museum was my favorite, and the moments we spent together eating delicious treats (especially the homemade pop tarts and authentic French macaroon) I will treasure forever.

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A couple days after we got back from DC, Shelton’s regional manager emailed him and said that there was a promotion available at a property in Texas, and if he was interested she would recommend him for it. The great thing about Shelton’s company is that they are literally everywhere, so we have always known that moving back to Texas could be easily coordinated. After discussing it, I told him to throw his name in the hat — who knows what would happen? Right? He applied that night, had an interview the next day, and then the following day, they offered him the job. Let’s just say that I felt like the proverbial rug had been ripped out from underneath me, but in a good way. (If that makes any sense at all?) I went from thinking “Oh yeah, we’ll move back to Texas eventually,” to “Holy smokes, your start date is WHEN?” Also, on top of all this, I had told no one that moving back might be a possibility, so that meant that none of our family and friends knew, and most importantly… no one from my work knew. The day I found out about Shelton’s promotion, was literally the day I had to put in my two weeks notice. And then we do what we do best, we put our heads down, figured out everything that needed to be accomplished in the next two weeks, and made it all happen.

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It was all extremely surreal though, and as I sit here in our nice, new apartment in Waco, Texas, the craziness that has been the past 4 weeks has not really sunk in yet. I don’t think I’ll really know how I feel for a while longer, but I can tell you this: without a shadow of a doubt, this was the right move for us. I know it deep in my bones. Texas has always been where we belonged, and crossing that state line felt like a true victory. Our time in North Carolina was so incredible special, and I will treasure it always. It defined us in every single way: personally, professionally, and as a couple. We made it on our own out there, and for the rest of my life I’ll romanticize those memories. Unexpectedly, I was really sad to leave, but Shelton said (quite sagely, I might add) that I was sad because I’d done North Carolina right. If I wasn’t sad to go, then the past year and a half was a waste. It most certainly wasn’t. We built incredible bonds there that will last a lifetime, and I know we will travel back as often as we can.

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Our last week in North Carolina was madness. We had going-away parties (so fun!), busy last days at work, and so much packing to do. Tuesday, February 4, was going to be our last “quiet” night at home, so we decided to take it easy. Little did I know that this would be THE night that Shelton proposed to me!

(SPOILER ALERT: I said yes. Obviously.)

The proposal story deserves it’s own blog — which I will post very soon! I will say though, that I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to close the North Carolina chapter and really begin the Texas one. The adventure continues! Stay tuned, as always.

Your Texas gal,

S

Hello, 2014

Another year, another beautiful batch of memories… I’m sure I’m not the only one who can believe 2013 has come to a close (can I nominate it for fastest year ever?), but at the same time I am so excited for 2014. I have felt a definite shift in my life over the past few months and I just know that 2014 is going to be chock-full of amazing things.

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Learn how to make your own monthly photo board with this tutorial. Follow me on Instagram: @sarah1119.

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Booyah — say hello to my 2014 word. After completing Susannah Conway’s annual work book, Unravelling 2014 (highly recommend!) I learned that in 2014 I’d like to take care of myself in a whole new way. I’m all about nuturing these days. What’s your word?

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Oh yeah, and I pulled the trigger and bought a ‘spensive pair of shoes…

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AND! I finished our 2013 scrapbook! Oh my god, finishing a scrapbook makes me want to punch dance in a field. SUCH a good feeling. I have already purchased our 2014 album and hope to get started soon. I’m continuing the Project Life system because I do find that it’s the easiest way to get our memories down on paper. Excitement!

One more thing… I have updated my About page to better reflect where I am in life. Take a peek if you’d like! I kept the old About and Intro pages also, because I still love going back and re-reading them from time to time, but honestly my life has changed so much in the past year it was time for a little update.

I hope you all had lovely Christmases and that 2014 has gotten off to a great start. Here’s to another year!

Rave on,

Sarah

Special Announcement: I’m Open For Business!

I have a very special announcement to make: I have bit the bullet and opened an online store! This is something that I have always wanted to do, but always found reasons not to. Earlier this week I had an idea for a fun Christmas project and just decided that it was time. It was time to stop telling myself it wasn’t going to work and just do it already. And I am so happy that I did. I have no idea what to expect, and I am a-okay with that.

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http://fiddlefish.storenvy.com/

2013 Advent Activity Calendar | $15 on fiddlefish.storenvy.com

Current Products:

* 2013 Advent Activity Calendar: Nothing says “I’m excited for Christmas!” like an advent calendar. Each day offers a different activity or fill-in-the-blank for you and your loved ones to complete. All activities are simple, free, and sure to get you in the holiday spirit! When you’re done with the calendar, it doubles as a scrapbooking layout. Also, every day is printed on removable flaps that can be added to your craft stash. Waste not, want not!

* Sweet Dreams Butterfly Mobile: This mobile adds a touch of whimsy to any nursery. Hang in a corner and watch as the butterflies float above you and your little one drifts off into dreamland…

* More to be added!

2013 Advent Activity Calendar | $15 on fiddlefish.storenvy.com

Help Me Promote fiddlefish:

I hope you’ll visit my shop and keep me in mind for any upcoming event you may need a special, one-of-a-kind gift for. I plan on adding more items in the coming weeks, and am honestly just excited to see where this goes. I’d greatly appreciate it if you could help me spread the word about fiddlefish–here are some different ways you can help:

* Pin images from the store to your Pinterest boards.

* Share an item on Facebook so that your friends can see.

* Include my products in a blog post.

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http://fiddlefish.storenvy.com/

Questions you may have…

* What will you sell? I’ll sell unique paper crafts and other items for the home.

* When when you work on your products? In my spare time — evenings and weekends. Everything will be made to order.

* Do prices include shipping? Yes!

* I like something you have posted, but can I make a special request? Yes! I am super flexible and happy to adjust color or the layout of any item.

* Why “fiddlefish?” What the heck is that? When my sister and I were little, we thought that fiddlefish was a magic word and we’d use it to cast spells on broken things (usually the VCR). We’re both older now but it’s still a special word for us, and I still think it’s magic.

~

It feels so good to be writing this post and starting this new endeavor. And it’s so important in life to keep moving towards the things that feel good and empowering. Thank you for reading this post and following along in my journey. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.

-S

 

Handmade Butterfly Mobile

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

In one of my last posts I mentioned that for a baby shower I attended I made a butterfly mobile as my gift to the expectant mother. It’s no secret that I prefer handmade over store bought, and when I saw that this mobile from Pottery Barn Kids had been registered for… the wheels started turning in a pretty much irreversible way. I thought, “I wonder if I could make that?” and it was all over from there.

I set out on this project with no real plan in mind, because 1) I’ve never attempted a project like this before and 2) there were no helpful step-by-step tutorial that I could find. I pillaged on. I purchased some paper, a butterfly die cut punch (this project was pre-Silhouette), and just started.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I punched a lot of butterflies. I don’t even know how many.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I found that translucent beading thread was the best way to hang the butterflies. I used one of my quilling tools to punch two tiny holes in every single butterfly and threaded each butterfly onto the string by hand.

I adore meticulous projects like this. I just get lost in the details in a beautiful way.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

The mobile top was a wooden hoop like you use for cross stitching. They are very inexpensive. I painted it light pink to match the butterflies. I must admit that the whole time I was working on this project, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. It was definitely the kind of project that you just have to do.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I strung the butterflies on alternating lengths of string — from 14″ to 22″. I used our two stools to suspend the mobile. I liken this part of the process to arranging flowers. You just have to start sticking things in the vase and move them around to see how everything is going to look.

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

 handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

handmade butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

I love, love, love how the mobile turned out and it was a humongous hit at the shower. A lot of people I work with don’t know I craft-by-night, so that was fun. I will definitely be making another mobile in the future — I have plenty of ideas, and now that I have the Silhouette Cameo cutting out more die will be a breeze

butterfly mobile | sweetandsavorylife.com

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

-S

28 to Great Challenge: Days 2 & 3

28 day barre challenge | sweetandsavorylife.com

Woohoo! Days 2 and 3 — done! Yesterday was our two-year anniversary (aw) so I decided that I would take my rest day. We had a delicious dinner at a local gem and I savored every bite. I was sore from Day 1, so that made me happy. I know that I am still in the beginning stages of this program, but I just feel so inspired to keep going. I haven’t felt that way in a really long time and it’s very refreshing!

For Day 3, I did a 60 minute total body workout and wow. It. Kicked. My. Butt. I didn’t even have the exercise ball or hand weights required (on my shopping list). There was lots of stretching, pose-holding, and pulses. Sometimes the movements look small, but they feel humongous.

One thing I am grateful for lately is how mindful I’ve been about eating healthier meals and snacks and drinking water. I know it sounds cliche, but choosing to be happy leads to better decision making. At least it does for me.

25 more days to go!

-S

Links

Learn more about barre3.

* Read my previous posts about the 28 to Great Challenge.

28 to Great Challenge: Day 1

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I had to write a quick post about my new favorite thing: barre3! Barre3 is a chain of brick and mortar studios across the US that teach the barre method (workouts based on the principles of ballet that also mix in a healthy dose of yoga and pilates). I’m sure you’ve heard about studios popping up all over the US that teach barre workouts, but if you’re like me, the nearest one is probably over 100 miles away…

But! There is hope! What makes barre3 awesome is that for a low monthly price (cheaper than your Starbucks addiction) you can access all their workouts online. Your membership also includes tailored workout programs and an arsenal of recipes. The website is clean and easy to use (pick your workouts based on how much time you have!), and not to mention… the branding is spectacular.

I signed up for a $15/month subscription last night and went ahead and started one of their regimens: 28 to Great. I did my first workout this evening and it blew me away. Only 30 minutes long, but wow, my legs are aching. I love being sore after a good workout! I really feel like I needed to jazz things up a bit and barre3 was just the fresh take I needed. If you’re in a workout rut and have been needing to try something new, I encourage you to poke around their website.

Tomorrow I have a 60 minute workout… this should be interesting! Here’s to 27 more days!

-S

P.S. I think this goes without saying, but barre3 has no idea who I am and this is not a paid ad. I came across their website while reading a long-time favorite blog of mine (Eat, Live, Run) and the rest is history! Now I’m just hoping that the cellulite on the back of my thighs will be history, too.

I Just Love A Good Shower

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One of the women I work with is just had a baby girl! Babies are so exciting. She announced her pregnancy soon after I was hired, and back in March I remember thinking, “Whoa, I will know so much more about  this job in November.” And truthfully? In many ways I wanted to talk to November Sarah just to make sure that I would in fact survive. Time really does fly, and it’s an exciting thing to see how far you’ve come in just seven months time. And now Baby Chloe is here!

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My supervisor (a good friend of the expectant mother) threw a Pinterest-worthy shower. It was very bright and very pink.

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See that mobile… Yeah, so… I made that. I totally have to brag about this one, because WOW did it come together. It deserves its own post.

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And, um, hello, but is this not the sweetest little girls room? I am in love with this furniture. And paint job. And everything.

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Congrats to the new parents! Can’t wait to meet Baby Chloe in person in a few weeks!

-S

Our Coffee Table Saga

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The definition of ‘bare bones.’

So… I don’t know if I’ve told you this yet or not, but up until a month ago, our coffee table was a plastic container. You know, like the ones you buy from Walmart to stuff linens in, or old t-shirts, or whatever else you seem to accumulate? Yeah. We moved into our new apartment in May, bought some awesome furniture and used a $8 storage container as the focal point of our living room for almost five months.

That’s just how we roll.

In all seriousness, I just could not stomach spending $200 on a regular looking coffee table when I knew we could make something similar and love it even more. Decorating and nesting has been an interesting journey for me — I love getting inspiration from different stores and Pinterest boards, but I’m learning something about myself: I’m stubborn when it comes to this stuff. If I have even a tiny inkling that I can make something instead of buy it, I refuse to spend any money. I have definitely learned you have to pick these battles, even with yourself, but in the end… I always love homemade anything over store bought anything.

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Over the summer, Shelton came across this DIY from Mr. Kate (ah — such a cute blog — love her s.t.y.l.e) and I became obsessed (read: OBsessed) with the idea of a coffee table with Tiffany-blue legs. Couldn’t get it out of my head. We stole some pallets, but it turns out it’s easier to embark on a project that requires lots of tools + space if you have a garage to work in. We had to scrap the pallet idea halfway through because it was just too labor intensive (pick your battles, remember). Plus, once July/August kicked in and we were both working 6 days a week/10-12 hours a day… the idea of wrestling with pallets in the North Carolina humidity just wasn’t appealing. At all. We kept using the plastic container.

Then it was announced that Mom and Janie would visit in October! We knew we had to get our booties (or is it bootys?) in gear and start doing some real work to make our apartment a cozy home. In a stroke of luck, earlier in the summer we had contacted Ashley Furniture about a blemish in one of our end tables and they gave us two replacement tops. Since the endtables are quite large, we decided it made sense to use one table top as the top of the coffee table. Then all the wood would match, too.

After a few trips to Lowe’s and a few evenings of work, our coffee table was finished. In the end I estimate that we spent around $70 on supplies. I am so happy with the result though — it was worth the wait!

Scroll down for list of supplies we used.

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

We bought a long piece of wood and had Lowe’s cut it down for us in 4″x4″ squares. We used wood glue to adhere the wood squares to the underside of the table top. This helped reinforce the table legs.

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

diy coffee table | sweetandsavorylife.com

Just in case you were wondering, the answer is no. I don’t miss the plastic storage container. Not one bit.

-S

Supplies

Valspar 12-oz Tropical Oasis High-Gloss Spray Paint

Waddell 15-1/4-in Country Pine Traditional Wood Table Leg

Blue Hawk 2-Count 5/16-in x 2-in Zinc-Plated Hanger Bolts

Waddell 3-in Table Leg Straight Top Plate

We Chicken Wired A Wall

chicken wired wall | sweetandsavorylife.com

Because, well, why the hell not?

If you ever have the opportunity to walk into our apartment — this is the first thing you’ll see.

It makes me so happy, and I love how interchangeable it can be.

Inspired by Under the Sycamore.

A Visit From The Queen & Princess

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My mom and sister visited last weekend! It was epic. For many, many reasons.

First of all, any time we’re all together, there is never ever really a plan but somehow we always have a kick-ass time.

pallet headboard | sweetandsavorylife.com

Secondly, Mom and Janie visiting meant that Shelton and I were forced to get our apartment whipped into shape! How do you like my make-shift pallet headboard? It was painfully easy to make. You just take two pallets… and prop them up against the wall. Set some pictures on top that you are too lazy to hang haven’t hung yet and wah-lah! All done.

My mom says that everyone should have the “Queen” come once a year. She’s right. It does wonders for your home.

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We promptly went for drinks. Sup Crushes at Sup Dogs — our favorite Greenville haunt.

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Rocked some blue hair. Got shitfaced tipsy. Had a conversation about Frasier and the importance it is to have a burger without interruptions. Don’t ask.

Moral of the story: Don’t drink and then talk nonsense with your eyes closed, because people that say they love you will record you and make you watch it the next day after you’ve sobered up.

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As always, the trips are too short. But the family time was just so needed. I enjoy my mom and sister oh-so much. They’re my everything. And I’m ready for Christmas! I am so Texas homesick these days. Which I will have you know is worse than being regular homesick because Texas is a magical place.

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Speaking of magical… Our last night was spent sipping wine at Maggiano’s, musing about a Vegas wedding (we’ll see!) and eating the most incredible tiramisu. I pretty much wanted to lather the cream all over my face. Too delicious. So worth it.

So, this is my little hello update for you. After Mom and Janie left work sucked Shelton and I in like a vortex (someone please tell me that working this hard will pay off one day…) and I’ve enjoyed being unplugged this week. The apartment is a mess, the air mattress has been set up in the living room for over a week now, and you know what? I’m fine with all of it. All of it.

Happy Weekend.

-S

“The Unvarnished Truth”

I am convinced that there is an association/group/coalition for everything that exists in this world. What I love about it is that at any given moment there is a community (sometimes more than one) dedicated to whatever niche thing you’re into, or happen to be doing. Case in point: I am a woman who works in the cable and telecommunications industry. Guess what? I am part of a group called WICT, which stands for… Women in Cable Telecommunications. I mean, if that’s not rad, then I don’t know what is.

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WICT hosts what they call “Book Nooks” periodically – it’s like a book club but more at-your-own-pace kinda thing. Which I love. Recently the featured book was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I may be beating a dead horse here (because I know there has been a ton of press/hype around this book since it came out), but I adored it. And I know there are probably 100,000 book reviews on the interwebs right now, but I enjoyed the book so much I just had to throw in my two cents. Make it more like ten cents. I just really, really liked it and thought it had a lot of great information for anyone who is looking to do… well, anything. It’s not just for the corporate types.

A-ha Moments: Chords that were Struck

When it comes to true gender equality being present in the workplace, we still have a long way to go. And it starts with YOU first. What really surprised me about the book was that it wasn’t all about how men are bad and women are victims. I was expecting that. Instead a major theme throughout the book are how powerful our perceptions are and how much we let stereotypes control so much of our lives. Men can perceive women a certain way, women perceive men a certain way, and women often perceive other women with the same stereotypes that men tend to.

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I was never told how much I would hold myself back. As women, it’s pretty much ingrained in us that because we’re women things will be hard our whole lives — especially our career. I don’t think I was ever told this point-blank by someone, but just through watching TV, books, normal observations that we all have, I have always known this. But I was never-ever-ever told that because of all these observations I would literally hold myself back in many different situations and scenarios. Reading this reminded me how important it is to be cognizant of these moments, and to push through them. It’s so unbelievably necessary to speak up when you have something to say, reach out when you need something, make yourself known.

Impostor Syndrome is a real thing. Dang, ladies. I am pretty sure I have been suffering from this since I graduated from college in 2009. And since I’ve been working in such a corporate atmosphere this past year, where I am the youngest professional on my team by oh, ten years or so, I am constantly afraid that one day everyone will realize I’m a fraud and the jig will truly be up. What really makes Impostor Syndrome suck is that even when I do something well, my immediate thought process is… “Oh god, okay, that wasn’t a disaster, but that had to have been a fluke. I’ve fooled them for a bit longer, but this can’t last forever…” Geez. And don’t even try to give me a compliment when I’m in this head-spiral, because I won’t even hear it. I’m just bein’ honest here. So, ways that I battle Impostor Syndrome in the workplace (and in life)… I force myself to face the facts instead of believing the lie. The rule is that I tell myself these things, and no-matter-what I do not, under any circumstances, interrupt myself. Then I take a deep breath.

FACT: I was hired for a reason.

FACT: I am unique, smart, and capable.

FACT: Everyone above me and around me has made mistakes at work.

FACT: {Insert positive story here.}

FACT: {Insert positive story here.}

FACT: {Insert positive story here.}

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Make the opportunity fit you. I had a job out of college that really kicked me in the pants. I was super young (21) and thought it was the perfect job for me. After all, I’d been a rock star while getting my degree and had pretty much been on a winning streak the whole time I was in college, so I assumed this would just be more of the same. “Sure, I’ll have to learn a thing or two. Sure, there’ll be tough days. But probably not, because it’s all going to go so well.” Well, guess how I reacted when it didn’t go as planned? Like a little bitch. Oh, man, this is embarrassing to admit, but I expected to walk in and truthfully… nothing go wrong. Talk about a rude awakening. I went from extreme confidence to mind-bending self-consciousness in about two month’s time. Looking back, I can safely say that even though that work environment wasn’t the most conducive to excellent work, I was the right person for the position. Had I been more open minded, I could have gained a lot more work experience and used that experience to transition to another position somewhere else, but I wasn’t, and instead I ran myself ragged trying to make the job fit me when I should have worked harder to fit it. I was my biggest obstacle. There are just times in life when it is more beneficial to allow yourself to become part of The Machine (even if you don’t love the machine) because there is so much to be learned throughout that process. This is so true for young professionals, because at such a young age you are still growing your “legs,” so often in the beginning, you don’t have any to stand on yet. You have to be open to learning new processes. Because life, quite simply, is a process of elimination. Do the hard thing. Challenge yourself to accept things for what they are, but also find meaning in the mundane. I say all this, but these things just have to be learned the hard way sometimes. Even though I can look back at this experience and analyze it like a case study, I don’t have any regrets any more. It sounds so cliche, but crashing and burning out of that position led me to my next endeavor and so on and so forth. And now I can proudly say that I am much more open minded and have the ability to look at work objectively and be proud of myself much more often than I am insecure. For me, that’s a huge win.

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” And every single person in the history of ever sighs in relief at this simple statement.

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My life will always be more important than whatever job I have, but I shouldn’t have to compromise one for the other. At this point in my life, I am sure of two things: I like to work and I am so excited to have children. Working makes me feel empowered, and that mental stimulation is good for me. Each day that goes by, I get better at my job and I feel more confident in my abilities. I am consistently given new things to work on and learn, and I know that this makes me a valuable asset to my company and my team. And my intention is to keep doing things that excel my career in the direction I want it to go… and be a mom one day, too. I don’t care that for generations and generations that women have been told by society and have told themselves that we have to choose: family or work. I choose to not to accept that message.

So, yeah. Good stuff. Good, good stuff. I highly recommend this book — if not for the personal/career development piece, then definitely for Sheryl’s stories. I mean, come on. The woman worked at Google and Facebook. She’s got a good anecdote or two, to say the least. And I definitely laughed out loud more than once. To me, any book that has the power to make me chuckle is two thumbs WAY up.

Nailed it, Sheryl. Thank you for the inspiration!

-Sarah

P.S. The title from this post comes from a phrase that Sheryl uses at the end of the book. I thought that it wrapped up the subject matter beautifully, and we should all aim to speak our own unvarnished truths.

Care Package for Candace

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My good friend Candace got engaged over the summer and a while back I sent her a little wedding planning/engagement celebration care package. I love receiving care packages almost as much as I love sending them. Candace truly is a kindred spirit and I’m so happy for her and her fiance Dylan. We met in college through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend {no joke} and shared lots of pancakes together, and fell out of touch, and then accidentally wound up living next door to each other {in the suburbs of all places}, and then fell out of touch again, and then almost a whole year ago she found my blog, read my about page, and sent me an email. And we’ve been talking ever since.

I say she’s a kindred spirit because our journey’s are similar. We both fell in love and then followed our hearts across the county. I wound up in North Carolina, she in Florida. Dylan is in the military. Our emails are filled with life updates, wanderings, and some truly funny stories. {Candace really makes me laugh.} Dylan recently got re-assigned to California and I haven’t even told you the best part yet: next spring after his training ends they are planning to move to North Carolina and get MARRIED! I’m excited. To say the least.

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In one of our last emails, Candace said that they were having trouble planning a North Carolina wedding in California. Imagine that! So being that I have access to all North Carolina wedding magazines, I decided to hook the future Mrs. Montambo UP. And I even pulled out my foil stamping machine to make her some thank you cards. It turned out to be the sweetest care package I’ve put together in a long time!

I’ll just about anything for a kindred spirit. Congrats, Dylan and Candace :)

-Sarah

Thursday Night Light

the light | sweetandsavorylife.com

I can’t believe it’s October. Can you believe it’s October? I totally can’t.

It’s Thursday night and I’ve had a full evening. I worked until 6 (ish), came home and unwound with Shelton, had a little dinner, watched a little Downton (I love Maggie Smith more than anything right now) and then listened to a little Danielle LaPorte while Shelton played Call of Duty. And I decided that I wanted to write another blog. I know! Two in one week. It’s like it’s 2012 or something! Ha.

My mom says that she’s always enjoyed getting older and entering new phases in life and I think I finally understand what she means. Because I think back to this time last year (which was awesome, do not get me wrong) and I think, “Ah! That was fun. What I’m doing now is more fun.” I understand things better now… but not as much as I’ll understand them tomorrow, or next week, or next year. So, I am writing now because I want to. Not because I have a plan or an agenda, but because I just want to.

(That’s a good enough reason to do anything, by the way.)

This week I’ve given a lot of thought to this season of change I am experiencing. I am no stranger to following my heart (I did follow it all the way to North Carolina, after all), but for most of my life I’ve put myself in a box (sometimes several) and have often suppressed my desires. Desires to really dream and then act on those dreams. Desires to create for me and not for recognition. Desires to be content but never allowing myself to feel that way…. It’s been two things: Exhausting and unnecessary.

I don’t fit in a box. I never will. I will be creative and crazy and happy right where I am and probably always wonder what’s just around that corner over there all at the same time.

No… more… boxes!

Only do things that… feel… good!

Why… am… I… yelling?

Probably because I hardly ever give myself permission to just be.

Well, I’ll have you know that I’ve been actively doing just that and it’s been great and a little weird at the same time. It’s an odd freedom that comes with adjusting your sails to new winds. And let me tell you, I am approaching uncharted waters.

They will be rough, but not rough all the time. They will be smooth, but not smooth all the time. I may sink, and if I do, I’ll learn to swim. That’s The Plan.

That being said…

What boxes do you put yourself in? What are the labels? When do you allow yourself to just… be yourself?

Those questions are kinda rhetorical, kinda not. Feel free to mull it over.

In the meantime, I’m gonna brush my teeth and hit the sack. Because, you know, I’m really desiring some Zzzz right now.

-Sarah