Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I'd like you all to virtually (or in reality if you have one near by) pick up a glass of your favorite bubbly for I'd like to propose a toast to you from The Hubs, The Pup and I...

We would like to wish you and your family a 2011 filled with love, health and happiness!  

I'm so looking forward to seeing what 2011 brings AND to share it with all of you!

P.S. - Can you believe that I was able to keep up with all of the #Reverb10 posts this month AND post some things for those non-#reverbers out there???? I sure can't, but I'm SO proud that I did! :-)

Image Credit: little blue deer via We Heart It

Day 31 - #Reverb10 - Core Story

Prompt: Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)
Author: Molly O'Neill, Harper Collins Children's , @molly_oneill
So here we the end of the month of December, at the end of the year 2010, and at the final prompt for #reverb10.

I am SO PROUD of myself for taking the time to reflect and respond to each of the #reverb10 prompts! I'm also proud that I never got too far behind (cause that would have likely been the end of it for me)! I think it's a testament to how much I REALLY enjoy writing and connecting with this wonderful online community I have FINALLY actively joined.

Now on to the final #reverb10 prompt of 2010...

Who am I at the core? What is my story? Scary question if you ask me...but I'm going to try to answer it openly and honestly.

I'm someone who strives to be successful in everything I do, yet is so afraid of failure that I often don't take the risks necessary to truly succeed.

I'm an emotional and sensitive person who feels like an open book when it comes to my feelings. However, I did find out yesterday that some people I work with didn't realize I was so sensitive. They thought I was hard core tough and "scary" (so not truly me at all!). I didn't realize that people could see me SO differently than I actually am.

I incessantly compare myself to other people. I long to be included, but many times feel like I'm on the outside looking in.

I LOVE learning and am a knowledge seeker. I want to fill my brain to the brim with all types of information that I can use and share.

I'm really a good person at the core, but don't always manifest it when I'm being overemotional and over reactive. I want to be a better wife, sister, daughter and friend.

When I see some of these traits that are so deeply me, it makes me a little sad that I can't see the more positive things about myself. However, I'm committed to trying to see more of my positive attributes in 2011 and to really discover where my passions lie. To see more rainbows among the clouds...

I've just began to share my core story with the world through this blog and I'm so excited to keep up with it and see how my thoughts and the things I accomplish evolve over time. When I read back through all of my #reverb10 posts, I think that I've been consistent about writing in a way that is true to myself. I didn't try to sugar coat anything, as I'm not a sunshine and roses kind of girl. I AM hoping that with all the self-reflection I have done thus far and that which I will do on this blog in the future, that I can begin SEE more things that make me the beautifully different person I am (a phrase I never thought about until #reverb10 - Day 8) LIVE A BRIGHTER LIFE!

Whew...done. Although I've loved participating in #reverb10, I'm SO looking for some much lighter and fun posting in the weeks to come! :-)

Image Source: ~Dezz~

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 30 - #Reverb10 - Gift

Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
Author: Holly Root, Waxman Literary Agency, @hroot

Since I just did a whole series of posts on the best tangible gifts The Hubs and I got for Xmas (check out Jen's Edition, The Hubs's Edition and The Couples Edition) and I can't really remember any other actual gifts that I got throughout the year, I'm going to choose my favorite emotional gift. (That sounds a little funny...emotional gift...).

The most memorable emotional gift was the constant support The Hubs provided throughout 2010. He always makes me feel like we are in this crazy thing called life together (even when I am acting SUPER irrational and crazy). He always sticks up for me and is on my side. It's so nice to have someone there all the time to celebrate AND complain with. I couldn't imagine being with anybody else!

I hope that in the 2011 I can provide him as much support as he has provided me!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Loot - Couples's Edition

This is the final installment in the Christmas Loot edition and seemed to be the category where many of our presents fell this year! Guess that's what happens when you get married and two become one, eh? hehe :-)

Because we really didn't want ANYTHING for Christmas (remember that problem with no space that we currently have...), we wanted to try to receive only necessary items for the house, replacements for things that were broken, and gift cards.

The Fam was pretty good about following our wishes and we received some really great gifts including one we didn't even know we wanted!

Gifts from The Fam
The one gift that I was actually surprised to get since we didn't know to ask for it, turned out to be one of the best gifts we got! It was a customized ADDRESS PLAQUE!

We currently just have some ugly numbers over our garage proclaiming our address to the world, but this new plaque is going to do the same thing in a MUCH more luxurious way. I can't wait to figure out where we're going to install it!

The Hubs and I are self-proclaimed wine lovers and our old Brookstone Classic Wine Opener which we'd had for years finally bit the dust.  The Fam knew we were in need, so they purchased us an upgraded opener.

Enter the Brookstone Automatic Wine Opener! Who knew opening wine could be even easier than with the classic wine opener we used to have, but with this baby it CAN! It also comes with a sleek holder which will make it a counter top staple in our kitchen.

Finally, The Fam gave us a gift card to our FAVORITE sushi restaurant, Amakara. It's seriously the best. You can read more about my love for it in my #reverb10 - Taste post!

Gifts for Ourselves
While we were out buying The Hubs his new saw, we decided to browse the area rug aisle to see if any rugs spoke to us. The Hubs and I have been on the hunt for an area rug for our living room for months now, but couldn't decide on a color or design that we both could agree on. I don't know what it was about today, but all of the stars aligned and we left with not only the saw, but a new 8 x 10 area rug for our living room!

This rug choice was great because it was relatively inexpensive ($250 for an 8 x 10 rug seems like a steal), which was good for our pocket books and made us feel like we could change it out of our taste changes or if The Pup eats it. We both liked that it was neutral and that we could change the colors of pillows and lamp shades on a whim while still having the room look like a cohesive unit. It took a little bit of getting used to not seeing our hardwood floors anymore, but the rug has definitely made the room feel warmer and more homey. Stay tuned for some before and after pics I'll post in the coming year once all the #reverb10 posts have concluded and I'll be looking for things to blog about!

This concludes our Christmas Loot round-up! In case you are late to the party, you can find my favorite gifts here and The Hubs' favorite gifts here.

How did you all make out this Christmas? Did Santa bring you everything you wanted? If you are married, have you found that more and more of your gifts are directed to both of you as a couple?

Image Credits: Home Decorators, Brookstone, Lowes

Day 29 - #Reverb10 - Defining Moment

Prompt: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.
Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice, The Year the Swallows Came Early, @KFitzmaurice

Unfortunately for me, the only defining moment that I can think of was one that won't win any "Best Moment of the Year" awards in my book.

The most defining moment of 2010 was back in June when I was abruptly switched from one position within my company to another. With no warning, I was all of a sudden on new projects with a new boss and someone else was now working on all the projects that I had worked so hard on.

I think the hardest part of the switch was the confidence I lost in myself. I was really confident in the work I had previously been doing and was really looking forward to gaining more responsibility and expertise in that area. I felt like I was being "kicked out" of one group, like I wasn't worthy of working in it anymore. I instantly felt like an outsider in a group I had been a part of for over a year. I felt like no one really cared how I felt about the move, especially when it was common knowledge how much I liked what I was doing.

The switch really put me in a funk that I was in for most of the second half of the year. There were times when the projects in my new position weren't really progressing as planned, so there wasn't much work to do. I felt inadequate and like I wasn't being used to my full potential (and sometimes still do...).

It will be admitted now, that the way I was switched from one group to another wasn't well done, but the damage had already been done.

I'm still in the process of trying to find my voice in this new position and find a way to REALLY make a difference. I'm trying to learn how to navigate some of the different mindsets that I am encountering in this new group and trying to help bridge the gap between my old group and this new one.

I'm hoping that as we enter 2011, that I can really FULLY comes to terms with my new role (since I haven't quite done that yet) and find a way to LEARN and GROW from these new experiences.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Loot - The Hubs's Edition

In the previous installment of Christmas Loot, I shared the four gifts that were my favorite this holiday season.

In this post, I'll share those gifts that The Hubs got that he was super excited about. (Side note: None of the gifts I gave The Hubs made the top 4 since I had already bought him this Craftsman toolchest for his birthday in October).

Gift from The Bro
While opening presents on Christmas Day at The Hubs's family's place, he received some strange gifts including conduit fittings and a wiring book. I was a bit confused, but apparently The Hubs knew what was coming! Finally, two long skinny packages were revealed. Inside were FLUORESCENT LIGHTS for our garage.

The Hubs had asked for these since the lights we currently have in our garage are less than stellar. He enjoys working on projects in the garage and uses it as his workshop since we don't have enough space to actually park a car in it. He's also going to LOVE learning how to install the lighting himself with his brother's help!

Gifts from The Fam
The Hubs and I have had a Wii for over a year. We only had a couple of games and really don't find much time to play with it. The Hubs though asked for (and received) two Wii Games this holiday season.

We played the games with the family on Christmas and had a really great time! They brought us back to the days of the original Nintendo. The Hubs also is excited to have these games cause he figures he can play them while I'm preoccupied blogging!

Another computer related gift The Hubs asked for was the Windows 7 upgrade for his operating system.

He has it on his work computer and really likes it. We'll see how hard it is to actually install. Hopefully, its not as complicated or crappy as Vista was....

Gifts for Ourselves
The Hubs ended up buying a very BIG gift for himself for Christmas this that hopefully he will use many many times in the years to come.
 A DeWalt 12" Double Bevel Compoud Sliding Miter Saw! His main reason for getting this saw was to make the corner cuts for the crown molding he is currently installing in our bedroom. He's eventually going to install crown molding throughout the house, so this saw is definitely going to come in handy. It will also be the perfect tool for any other woodworking projects he plans on tackling, which is something he really enjoys doing (especially now that he will have brand spankin' new fluorescent lights to light the garage!).

The final installment in the Christmas Loot series will feature our favorite gifts that The Hubs and I received together as a couple.

Day 28 - #Reverb10 - Achieve

Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
Author: Tara Sophia Mohr, The Women's Seder Sourcebook: Rituals & Readings for Use at the Passover Seder; @tarasophia

Being an overachiever, I've already got a post scheduled for New Year's Day on a few specific goals that I would like to accomplish in the coming year.

For this post though, I'm going to come up with a more far reaching achievement. One of those pie in the sky ideas (at least that's how it feels) that I'd really like to work toward achieving....

I'd really like to become a less emotionally reactive person.

What does this mean exactly?

Well, it means remembering that if things do go wrong, not to freak out prematurely and to realize that everything WILL be OK. It means recognizing when I'm getting agitated or upset, breathing deeply, and really thinking about what my next step, emotion, or action will be. It means not constantly dwelling on every. single. worry. that pops into my head and having the feelings associated with worry creep into my daily moods. In general, I want to have more positive reactions to situations.

In doing this I imagine that I will feel LIGHTER (being emotional is hard work!) and hopefully HAPPIER.

What can I do to experience these feelings today?

1.) Just Breathe. (My mantra for the last 10+ years that I don't always follow...)

2.) Don't dwell on things that can't be controlled.

3.) Be grateful.

4.) Exercise whenever negative emotions may be brewing (if possible).

5.) Get a big hug from The Hubs.

What thoughts can I think to experience these feelings today?

1.)  Am I reacting reasonably to this situation?

2.)  Things aren't as bad as you think they are.

3.)  You have so many positive people and things in your life. Remember this!

4.)  Believe in yourself! You will find a solution if something does go wrong.

5.)  Everything happens for a reason.

Image Credit: Heylovedc, spitfirelas

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 27 - #Reverb10 - Ordinary Joy

Prompt: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
Author: Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, @brenebrown

Ordinary joy is...

Hanging out at home with The Hubs and The Pup pretending we don't have a care in the world.

A sweet word, hug or kiss from The Hubs that makes me get butterflies.

A sleeping baby swaddled tight.

Watching The Pup lay on The Hubs's chest in the chair...even when he is WAY to big to be doing so.

Christmas Loot - Jen's Edition

The Hubs and I got some really great gifts for Christmas this year. Over the next few days, I'll be posting some of the best gifts that we received and a few that we decided to buy for ourselves.

In this first installment, I'll share my favorite four gifts.

Gift From The Hubs
This year The Hubs gave me one big gift for Christmas and I am SO excited about it. He bought me 8 sessions with a Personal Trainer from 24 Hour Fitness!

I have been wanting to hire a personal trainer for FOREVER, but have been too cheap and lazy to do it. I decided to go in to the gym today to find my trainer and schedule sessions for the next two weeks so that I beat the mad New Years rush. The trainer suggested working with him twice a week for the best results, but that just means my sessions will run out in a month :-(.  He did say that there will be more good deals to buy more sessions in the New Year if I want to continue. I have my first session on Thursday, so we'll see how it goes!!

Gifts From The Fam
I got lots of great gifts from both The Hubs's family and mine, but I'm going to share my favorite two.

First up, is something that I have NEEDED for months and I have been suffering and squinting every morning as I drive to work without it. You really don't realize how much you need this thing until you don't have it. Figured out what it is yet....

A DRIVER'S SIDE VISOR for my Civic! I swear being without this thing has been terrible! I've been one of those dorky people who resorts to sticking a piece of paper in their window to block the setting sun from bothering her highly sensitive,contact wearing eyes. I installed it yesterday (with some help from The Hubs) and I am so glad to have it back!

My next favorite gift from The Fam was the new Limited Edition Blue Ray DVD of The Sound of Music.

I've loved The Sound of Music since I was a child and know most of the songs and dialogue by heart (much to The Hubs's dismay!). I recently saw the cast on Oprah and was just amazed that the adults on the show were those same children. I can't believe it has been 45 years since the movie came out! A timeless classic, if you ask me!
Gifts for Ourselves
On the day after Christmas, The Hubs and I decided to do a little a whole lot of shopping for ourselves. We figured we'd been good enough this year!

On our little excursion to Home Depot and Lowes, there was only one thing that I wanted...

A new HIGH ARC FAUCET for the sink. The faucet that came with the house made it SO difficult to  wash big pots and pans. I insisted that the faucet be installed right away and even though I haven't washed any dishes with it yet, some things are SO much easier to filling the Britta water filter and The Pup's bowl. I seriously LOVE it! SO worth the money!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Christmas Loot - The Hubs' Edition!

Image Credits: 24 Hour Fitness, dgerej2 Photobucket, Target, Google Products

Sunday, December 26, 2010

#Reverb10 Catch Up!

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and that Santa brought them everything they wanted!

The Hubs and I were really spoiled by our family this year! Then today we went ahead a proceeded to spoil ourselves EVEN MORE with some fun buys for the house and garage! :-)

Sometime this week, I'll fill you in on all the goodies we got, but for now, it's time for a #reverb10 catch up!

Prompt: Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?
Author: Kate Inglis, The Dead Crew, @sweetsalty

There are many many moments where I have freaked out unneccesarily this year (and basically every year since the day of my birth!).

Here's how a typical "Jen Freak Out Session" goes:
"I can't believe this happened. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? It's not fair! It must be the apocolypse!"

::Crying:: ::Crying:: ::More Crying::

2 hours later after being calmed down some by The Hubs...

"You're right, it could have been worse. I should be thankful for what I do have. I may have overreacted a little bit. It really isn't the end of the world."

To overreact like this whenever something doesn't go my way is really exhausting. But it's hard for me to stop myself from going from neutral to crying in less than 60 seconds. I need to realize that everything IS going to be OK and that things are normally not as bad as I am making them out to be. I need to have faith that THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON. It is really something I need to work on, although I think it might be a lifelong work in progress.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to be inspired the following phrase first coined by the Britsh government in 1939 right before World War II:

It must be a sign that I need to adopt this motto because even before I was able to publish this post, I came across another fellow blogger, Melissa over at The Inspired Room, who is also using this mantra for her and her family this holiday season. (Don't you love the gold sparkle touch to that holiday card??)

December 25th
Prompt: Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
Author: Tracey Clark, Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters' Guide to Shooting from the Heart  @shuttersisters

The difficulty I've had in try to find a picture for this post make me realize that The Hubs and I REALLY need to take more pictures in the coming year...

For now, I'm going to use a picture that I took recently. Whenever I look at it, it makes me think of happiness and love

It's a picture of me holding my best friend's new baby at the hospital last week when he was just hours old. The picture was taken by The Hubs.

If you could have been in the room, you would have heard how nervous I was to hold him (which is pretty typical of who I am). All day, I was so excited waiting for this little one to arrive and now here he was...absolutely AMAZING. It makes me excited for the future when The Hubs and I start our own family!

December 26th
Prompt: Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth and touched your soul?
Author: Elise Marie Collins, An A-Z Guide to Healing Foods: A Shopper's Reference, @mysticflavor

My favorite comfort food, by far, is french bread. I especially love these Portuguese rolls that we get at a local Portuguese bakery that are SO delicious I can eat like 4 large rolls in one sitting! I don't know what it is about bread, but it always makes me happy when I eat it, especially when I can sop up soup or tomato sauce with it! YUM! My waist line on the other hand, has a VERY love/hate relationship with this evil carb!

The other food I love, that makes me "ooooo" and "ahhhh" every time I have it, is sushi from our favorite sushi restaurant, Amakara. I swear every time we go there, I leave a little happier. They have the most delicious grilled edamame and inventive sushi rolls! They also make a mean Sweetartini, made with SweetTarts! The restaurant is a little pricey, but The Hubs and I go for most special occasions, including major accomplishments! Lucky for us, we just got a gift card for Amakara for Christmas!

Image Credits: Wikipedia, Ericka Record, Amakara

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Early Christmas to Us!

The Hubs got an early Christmas gift this year. A really really AWESOME gift!


For those non-engineers out there, this is the first step toward becoming a Professional Engineer (PE).

It's also a big deal since he worked so hard in the three months leading up to the test by studying every night and going to Exam Prep classes on the weekend. He sacrificed so much to accomplish this goal!

I'm so proud of him!

We're having Christmas Eve with my family tonight, so be sure some big time CELEBRATING will be going on!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Adventures in the Kitchen" - Mom's Sweet Potatoes

I have to admit that I am not the best cook. I often just choose not to cook, let the Hubs deal with it, or make tried and true easy meals (i.e. tacos and speghetti AT LEAST once a week). I'm always worried that if I DO try out a new recipe it won't turn out or the Hubs won't like it.

Well, it's time to get over it! I want to finish out 2010 strong and start trying new things in 2011...including COOKING! I know that as our family grows cooking HAS to become a habit. Even if I get home late and don't feel like cooking, I don't think our future kiddos would be too happy with us if we told them to fend for themselves.

So in these "Adventures in the Kitchen" posts, I'll share a recipe I've tried that's hopefully not too hard to make, tasty, and healthy. And hopefully....practice will make perfect and cooking will become a habit!

The first recipe up is a family recipe that my mom makes for every holiday gathering, including Christmas Eve (which I can't believe is TOMORROW). I had never made these Candied Sweet Potatoes before by myself, so I had my mom come over and supervise while I documented my first attempt! This isn't necessarily the healthiest dish, but boy is it delicious. I look forward to every holiday just so we can have them!


• 5-6 sweet potatoes

• 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar

• 3 tablespoons of butter

• Splash of water

• Mini marshmllows


First, be sure to wash and scrub the sweet potatoes very well. Remeber, dirt wasn't part of the ingredients list!

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and allow them to boil.

Check the sweet potatoes by poking them with a fork. You'll know they are done when they are just soft enough to be poked through with a fork. Try not to over boil since it will make the potatoes so soft they break apart.

Once the sweet potatoes are done, strain out the water and let them cool. Once they are able to be handled, peel the skin off.

Next, slice each sweet potatoe into slices about 1/3 of an inch thick and lay them in a baking dish.

Now you're ready to make the topping. Place the butter in a sauce pan on a low heat setting. Move the butter around in the bottom of the pan until it is completely melted.

Next add the brown sugar.

Keep stiring the mixture until the brown sugar has completely melted.

Add a splash of water so that the mixture is just thin enough to pour. Don't add too much or it will make the sweet potatoes soggy. Once the ingredients are all well incorporated, pour the sugar mixture over the sliced sweet potatoes.

Top the sweet potatoes with handfuls of mini marshmallows. I like to add lots, as it makes a nice crispy sugary crust over the top of the sweet potatoes!

Bake the sweet pototoes at 325° for 20 - 30 minutes or until the marshmellows have melted and have a nice golden brown color.

The Hubs and I are definitely going to continue the tradition of making this dish at all of our family holiday gatherings!

Do any of you have any special dishes that your family makes year after year during the holidays?

Day 23 - #Reverb10 - New Name

Prompt: New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
Becca Wilcott, Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion, @beccawilcott

This is such an interesting, fun, and simple prompt!

If I could have a new name for just one day I think that it would have to be Melissa.

It's the name that I always wished I could have since I was a little girl. When I'd play house or doctor, this would always be the name I gave myself. I'm not sure why I like the name so much... I don't have any special relatives or close family friends who have that name. Maybe it is because I like how "girly" it sounds, compared to Jennifer.

Funny thing though...

Melissa is not on my list of top three girl names should The Hubs and I have a daughter!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Creating New Holiday Traditions

The Hubs and I have been challenged when it comes to creating our OWN holiday traditions. As I make my way through the holiday blog posts that are the month of Decemeber, I've seen how others have created their own traditions. Shortcake over at Our Little House bundled her family up into the car with warm blankets and hot chocolate to drive through their neigborhood looking at beautiful holiday lights. Katie over at Bower Power came up with a few fun traditions including Seeing Santa and buying a Yearly Christmas Ornament for her son, Will.

I know some of this is related to the fact that we don't have children yet, but I still feel like we should at least TRY to find a tradtion that we can call our own.

Since we have been married, it seems like we have to adopt both sets of families traditions. Luckily for us, our Christmas traditions were significantly enough different that there isn't much overlap. My family has always opened presents on Christmas Eve, followed by attending Midnight Mass at our local Church. His family opened their presents on Christmas morning and then ate a yummy french toast breakfast. This makes it relatively easy to attend both families activities.

But this past weekend, I think we were lucky enough to FINALLY find our FIRST ORIGINAL Christmas family tradition!

Our new tradition is to ride the Niles Train of Lights between the small towns of Niles and Sunol. Both of our families have lived in the area our whole lives and not one of us had ever been on the train!

My parents, sister, mother in-law, brother in-law and of course The Hubs and I started our journey in the town of Niles. Since we arrived early (this train is so popular good seats go fast) we had some time to walk the streets of this quaint town. We perused antique shops on main street and admired the town's simple holiday decorations.

Before boarding the train, I took some pictures of the fun lights used to decorate the outside. Since we had never been before I wasn't sure what sort of opporutnity we would get to actually see the lights. Turns out, the train we were on passed a second train coming from the opposite direction so that passengers on one train could enjoy the lights of the other. The lights were so fun and festive, both the kids and adults on board LOVED them!

Once we got on the train, we were suprised to see that the inside was also decorated with garland and twinkle lights (sorry for the somewhat blurry picture...I really need to play with my camera settings more!).

There were so many children who were all excited about the fun of being on a colorful holiday train. The excitement reached another level though when a special visitor appeared at the end of the car we were on....SANTA! Even my 20 year old sister was excited (that's her in the braids)!

The train ride was such a fun experience even for us adults! I found myself smiling from ear to ear looking at all the lights and waving at the passengers in the other train as they passed by. I can only imagine what fun it will be for The Hubs and I to bring our children on the train so we can see their eyes like up with wonder!

If you couldn't tell, I'm really quite excited about this new Christmas tradition! I can't wait until next year!

Have any of you found it difficult to create your traditions separate from your extended families?
What traditions do you plan on creating with your own family?

Day 22 - #Reverb10 - Travel

Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? Author: Tara Hunt, The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business, @missrogue

This one is going to be quick since we didn't travel at all during 2010. My fear of flying has a little...scratch that...a lot to do with it. I think that the furthest we traveled in 2010 was to Bear Valley to go snowboardng wth friends and down to San Luis Obispo to visit my sister.

Next year, I'm really hoping to overcome my fear of flying (i.e. take Xanax to calm myself down and not being worried to actually take it like I was last year). The Hubs and I really want to go to Seattle and already have a list of places that we would like to see. I would also LOVE to go to Chicago to see my friend Sophi who moved there over a year ago and possibly attend the National SWE Conference there next year. New York, Washington DC and Hawaii are also a few destinations I would love to visit.

If only I could overcome my fear of flying. . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 21 - #Reverb10 - Future Self

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) 
(Side note - Check out Jenny Blake's blog, it is a great source of career information from a young women who is SO very successful!

This is a very timely post as just yesterday I was thinking about writing a letter to my younger self. I was going through the blog archives of Kaileen (one of the #reverb10 founders) and found that her note to her younger self was featured on City Girl Lifestyle. I think that to give each "self" equal opportunity, I'm going to split them up into separate posts

This post will focus on advice my future self would give my current self for the year ahead...

Dear Current Jen,

As you enter 2011, know that everything is going to work out the way it is supposed to in the coming years. Don't worry needlessly, over analyze, and over plan. Just take things as they come.

Work hard this year to achieve your personal and professional goals as the journey will be such a rewarding experience.

Don't forget that most of the things you are worrying about right now, will be insignificant (and forgettable) in five years.

Cherish the important and friends. Play with your children and pets.Working long hours will only cause burnout and will not necessarily help you advance your career.

Keep searching for your passion. Take steps in you professional life to align your passion with your career. You are a good worker and successful, take the necessary risks to find a way to make yourself happy professionally.

Maintain healthy habits including eating well, working out and taking care of your mental health. Take vacations as they are great way to recharge both physically and mentally!

Stay happy, just breathe, and remember to be thankful for all that you have!


Future Jen

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 20 - #reverb10 - Beyond Avoidance

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
Author: Jake Nickell  The Threadless Book  @skaw

I think that in general, I always seem to hold back a little bit in everything I do.

Professionally, I'm not a big risk taker. I take things as they come, complain about them at home, and continue on with the daily grind. I never take action to change things. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed, I usually try to find the most conservative way to a solution. This inability to act is mostly attributed to my intense fear of failure. I'm so afraid to fail, that I sometimes don't even want to try. I KNOW that this is ridiculous, considering all successful people have failed LOTS of times before they reached their full potential. It is just hard to get myself to believe it. I hope that in this next year, I will take the necessary risk (regardless of if I fail) so that I might succeed!

Personally, I don't often like to try new things. I waited for years until I started a blog because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to live up to the expectation I set for myself. However, in finallly starting this blog and getting comments from all you wonderful readers, I've realized the risk I've taken in putting myself out there has been well worth it! Plus I've found it an incredibly enjoyable experience. All benefits of taking a small risk!

Here's to taking more (calculated) risks in 2011!

Image Credit: All Posters and Sodahead

Photography Novice

I have never been much into photography. I've always thought my point and shoot Canon Elph did all it needed to do for the purposes I needed it for.

However, now that I am getting into blogging (It has become my new favorite addiction!), I want to make sure that the pictures I take look good. I mean the blogosphere is looking at them (or at least the few readers I have so far).

According to this article, point and shoot cameras may be on their way out as smartphones with built in cameras are becoming more convenient for people to use (expect for this girl who still hasn't jumped on the smartphone bandwagon). Those who don't use their smartphone are usually photography enthusiasts who will shell out the dollars for an SLR.

So I'm contemplating if I should bite the bullet and invest in one of these babies

or if I should just practice and make more of a conscious effort to take better pictures with the camera I have.

Here's an example of a recent photography mishap, which you may remember me mentioning in one of my #reverb10 posts.

This is the photo we used for our Christmas card.

See how it looks kinda yellowish and fuzzy around the edges.

My brother was our "photographer" and to be honest the picture taking had to be quick since our pup, Rusty, was not having it with the Reindeer Ears! I'm trying to use this as a learning experience rather than fretting over the outcome of a less than stellar picture (I have to keep reminding myself that I'm "Letting it Go"!)

So I'm wondering.....

Is it just the lighting that was off or did the camera really play a role?
If I had taken it with one of those fancy cameras (once I figured out how to use it) would the result have been worth a $750 investment?

Help me out blogosphere photography experts! I know you are out there!

Should we invest in a new camera? Practice and try harder with the one we have? Save the money for a video camera instead?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 19 - #Reverb10 - Healing

Prompt: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?
Author: Leoni Allan  2011 Creating Your Goddess Year  @GoddessLeoni

I can't recall being healed in any major way in 2010.  One thing that occurred recently that I feel was some form of healing was making contact with a friend who I've held some animosity and anger toward in the last year. She actually made contact with me first wondering why I had been so distant. I felt like my response had to be truthful, but kind. A lot of thought went into how to word my feelings, but in the end I think I did so in a way that hopefully allows her to understand where I have been coming from. When I finally was able to push the send button, I felt a great relief lift off of me. I just felt lighter. Forgiving and moving on are much better uses of my energy than anger and resentment. I really hope to carry these important teachings into 2011.

In 2011, I would love to be healed of my constant worrying over things I can't control and anxiety in general. I've struggled with these things since childhood and I think its time to take steps to alleviate them. I'm hoping to try meditation by taking some classes at a local meditation center. I also would like to try to incorporate yoga into my life. I used to really enjoy the yoga classes at my local gym, but haven't really gone regularly in a year or so. It's time to bring that peaceful practice into my life!

Image Source: Epic Self

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 18 - #Reverb10 - Try

Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?
Author: Kaileen Elise  @kaileenelise

In 2011, I really want to try cooking meals more regularly. And when I say meals, I mean something other than the same old boring things we normally  have (namely tacos or spaghetti). I'm not a very good cook, so doing this is definitely going to be a challenge. I've decided to start documenting the dishes I try or those that I have made before that I know we love so that I can keep track of my progress. I already have a couple of dishes I want to try including this stuffed chicken that our friend Elliott made for our Thanksmas dinner party. It was delicious! I think blogging about my adventures in the kitchen will be a great way of keeping me accountable!

In 2010, I wanted to try to be more optimistic. The year began with the birth of this blog, "Living a Brighter Life", what I thought would be a great way to keep a journal of the great things in my life and how to use any difficult experiences I encountered to grow into a better person. As you can tell from the year long gap in my posting, I wasn't that successful at keeping up with it. The personal journal I did keep only contained my thoughts on all the things that seemed to be going wrong and how I thought the whole world was against me...not the most optimistic attitude. Hopefully, in 2011, I can finally be more true to my blog title and live brighter! I think participating in #reverb10 has already gotten me off to a great start!

Image Credits: Amazon and Optimistic Lifestyle