Friday, August 19, 2011


A few girlfriends and I recently started a book club. We just had our first meeting a couple weeks ago, and read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

The book was very different than expected- I'm not sure exactly what I expected but I think I thought it would read more like a novel- but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing! The book was about the authors attempt at a year of finding happiness through focusing on different areas of her life each month. I really enjoyed the book and found a lot of what she did was applicable to things in my life. Although I haven't dedicated myself to laying out a plan and setting measurable goals, I have tackled a few things that she suggested. One thing was to de-clutter. In the book Gretchen de-cluttered her home, and was enthusiastic about helping others to de-clutter theirs. The weekend after I finished the book, Sean was in Havasu for a bachelor party, and so I decided I was going to de-clutter, spring clean, organize, whatever you want to call it! I moved from room to room, putting things in bags to donate, throw away, or in a couple instances, to put away in a box to hold onto, but that I didn't necessarily need hanging out in my drawers/shelves, etc. I went through my closet, my clothes drawers, the office, my bathroom (I had expired medicine, half used products, etc), the guest room, and our electronic cords and things. I still have more I want to go through - the kitchen, Sean's clothes (I'll have him do that so I don't get rid of anything he wants), the movie drawers, and the hallway closet)- but so far I've filled 4 large trash bags full of things to donate, and a couple trash bags full of things to throw away. At the same time, I've made more of an effort to put things away and maintain a clean house rather than having to do a huge cleaning because of things we left out. I must say that I am happier with the cleanliness and tidiness of our home, and that I actually know where things are now!

Also, like Gretchen did in her book, I tackled a nagging task. I finally hung up a picture my parents gave us, cleaned the microwave (it was pretty bad), hung my diploma in my home office, got an entry table for our home, filed away some papers, unpacked from Alaska, ordered some wedding photos to frame and put up in the house, make a CD for my mother-in-law with the photos (I know I'm only a year behind), and fixed a couple things like a broken ornament. I have a couple more tasks that I want to do like get some pictures framed and hung, but all in all, it feels good to have that done, and not have things laying around ready to get done.

One more thing that I thought about and made a conscious effort to make time for things I enjoy doing, but that are easy to overlook. One of these things is reading. I LOVE to read. I think that being in a book group will help motivate me. Another thing is doing the crossword puzzle. When I lived at home with my parents after college, my mom and I would do the LA Times crossword puzzle every morning together. I loved that! Getting up and working on it while having my morning coffee and breakfast. Sean and I don't have a newspaper subscription, but my mom had bought me a couple crossword books after I moved out (I think for Christmas), that have just been sitting on the shelf! When thinking about how I spend my time, I realized I watch a lot of TV. Shows that don't really mean anything in a meaningful way, except for entertainment, so I decided I would watch less and read and do the crossword more. That same weekend that I de-cluttered, I didn't turn the TV on once. 4 whole days! It was great, although I realized I had no idea what was going on in the real world. Since then, I've finished our next book club book (The Help, definitely a must read!), and have completed a handful of crossword puzzles in the mornings. Sean and I still enjoy watching TV and spending that time together, but it feels good to do these other things I like as well.

There are other principles from the book that I can apply to my life. I am very happy with my life and feel very blessed. Focusing on things that make you happy, can only make you happier! So..... what makes you happy?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Last Frontier

Last week we went on our first family trip since the addition of two family members- Sean and Nicki!! I am so excited for Josh and Nicki, I think I've already said that in an earlier post, but I'll probably say it so many more times. Anyway, our trip started in flight. We made the trek up to LA early that morning to meet at my parents house and catch our flight out of LAX. Mimosas were flowing before we left for the airport. The plane flight was nice and short. We flew over CA, OR, and WA, seeing sights such as Yosemite on the way.
Look closely toward the center- there's half dome!

We spent half a day in Seattle seeing sights such as the Public Market looking at all the fish, flower, and craft vendors and then starting our active week off right walking to the Space needle.

Friday morning we embarked on our journey to Alaska. Alaska started out with a couple days of cruising up the Pacific coast past the US/Canadian border to the wonderful state of Alaska. We absolutely loved our time there- what an amazing place, so much nature and wildlife and what an amazing display of God's handy work. The air was clean and crisp... OK it was a bit cold, but the sights were absolutely breathtaking.

Our first port was in Juneau. All bundled up, we set up on our first excursion - a bike and brew. Now apparently the week before Alaska was sunny and warm, however when we came into town it was overcast and rainy. We all dressed appropriately in layers- none of which we removed. The guides gave us some not so flattering rain gear- waterproof pants and of coarse a rain jacket. Prepared for the weather we set on our way with some road bikes and looking like yellow blobs. The ride, although rainy, was still very beautiful. We stopped to get a view of the Mendenhall glacier. Can I tell you- you can see my pictures, and see pictures in magazines, but pictures don't quite do it justice.

We then rode our bikes around to be right by the glacier. I wish I could draw an arrow on the picture above. See the right side of the glacier? Insert arrow there. We saw our first glimpse of icebergs too!

We then rode our bikes back to the bike shop and they drove us to town where we tasted a little beer, tried reindeer sausage at a funny saloon, and then made a slightly tipsy ;) trek back to the boat. 

Now I cant remember actually what day it was while we were cruising, but the captain said that if we got up early we could see whales. I will admit I reverted back to a child waiting for Santa to come, and woke up at 5:45 am, bundled up, and went out to our balcony to hopefully spot Shamu or Free Willy. Now, we didn't see either of those two, but we did see Humpback whales. It was amazing, I think we saw something like at least six whales just from the side of the boat. As we kept cruising we'd see one here and there- needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Our next stop was Skagway. In Skagway we did a Wildlife Safari... what's that you ask? Well first we got on a enclosed catamaran boat, and traveled about an hour to glacier bay. We saw eagles, waterfalls. and another whale!

We went on a short bus ride up into the rain forest (yes rain forest, but not quite like Costa Rica, it was a temperate rain forest), learned a bit about some of the local plants and went to a small camp where we geared up for our canoe ride. Now we were to compare the bike outfits and the canoe outfits, the canoe outfits won... 

From there we got into a large canoe- fit probably 10 people or so, and canoed our way up to the Sawyer glacier. On this trek we saw Eagles, Gulls, Gulls chasing and attacking the Eagles (true story), fresh glacier ice, and even a Blonde Brown Bear- Winnie the Pooh? The glacier was amazing and looked like meringue through the binoculars.

Tired, Sean and I napped most of the way back to the cruise boat. After we got back into the small town of Skagway, we walked around, visited the local volunteer fire station, Sean even got to find Sarah Palin's house- can you tell he's excited, and he got to try some fresh Alaskan King Crab Legs- my mom and I split some clam chowder- delish!

Our next "stop" on the cruise boat was into the Tracy Arm Fjord. Where we were surrounded by ice and got to see the glacier break off or fracture. We even spotted a seal friend! It was truly breathtaking, and beautiful. 

Our last stop was Victoria British Columbia. Although not as amazing on the wildlife front. It is truly a beautiful city, with flower pots and gardens everywhere- probably why it's called the garden city? We stopped by the Empress Hotel, had fish and chips at a local pub for some beer and cider, went to the Craigdarroch Castle, and walked around. 

We were sad to step off the boat, but our bodies still were rockin' a few days after! In Seattle before we set foot on the plane back home, we had a mellow day in the city, and even went to the movies to see Captain America! That night we met with some of our family on my dad's side for a nice little reunion at Buca-Di-Beppo. Five of my dads siblings were there, along with many cousins, and even the pope! We had such a great time, drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of food, and had a lot of laughs. It was great to see my family that we don't get to see often enough, and what a great way to end the trip!

nice hair Josh!

We are still recovering from our trip- I walked away with a little cold but all in all, it was amazing. There was so much more that happened on the trip, but this post would go on forever, and so many more pictures- but I think I've bombarded you with enough! I wish we could have spent more time in the amazing state of Alaska... I'm sure we'll go back some day!