Category Archives: Life

Book Reviews Part 2

Photo by Amber

Photo by Amber

So in my last post about what I was reading, I listed three books I had read and at the time, I was reading The Shining. I must be a reading machine right now, because since then, I’ve read quite a few more books. Seriously! I figured now is as good a time as any to recap what I’ve read since the last post, and hopefully give some of you fellow readers some ideas/recommendations of what you should read next!

  • The Shining by Stephen King

Oh. My. God. I loved this book. I couldn’t stop talking about it. You can ask REB, my coworkers and friends…they were probably sick of me talking about it so much. I managed to read this book in about 3 days because I couldn’t stop. My nightly ritual of reading before bed was extended by 30-45 minutes just so I could get in a few more pages before shut eye. My lunch break at work, I would force myself to take because that meant I was able to read. Many people have seen the movie already (myself included), but the book is so much better than the movie. For one thing, parts of the books that were downright scary to read, weren’t even included in the movie and I felt pretty strongly about it and thought they should have been. Reading about Jack, Wendy and Danny was incredible. Even though I knew how this story ended, it was great to read and see the parts that foreshadowed what was to come. It was very fluid, easy to read and kept me reeled in. All in all: I applaud you Mr. King. And to Mr. Kubrick? I say “shame on you.”

  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

This book was one of the ones I added to my list while I was searching through the “What’s Hot” list on my library’s web site. I later found out that it’s being made into a HBO movie, so I figured I should read it first before I watched it – if I do watch it, that is. This book reminded me of Gillian Flynn’s Gone GirlIt’s a “thriller” or “mystery” but it was kind of lacking in some areas. The overall plot is a mother, Kate, piecing together the mystery of her daughter, Amelia, by looking through social media, talking to friends and reading her phone. Doesn’t sound like much, but there’s more of course! I enjoyed that the book was written from both Amelia’s perspective – as the mystery is unveiled – and also from Kate’s perspective, as she’s piecing together the mystery. It wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, but I would recommend it if someone is looking for a quick, easy mystery.

  • The Ruins by Scott Smith

This book came recommended to me by my friend Amber. She actually owns the book and lent it to me to read. It’s another mystery/suspense/thriller and while it was slow in the beginning, it picked up pretty heavily. It’s about four college grads who are vacationing in Mexico, meet up with some new friends, go exploring the jungles nearby and then become trapped there. Now they have to learn how to survive in their new surroundings for who knows how long, but also endure the strange things that start happening while they’re there. This book is hella descriptive, graphic and at times, had me feeling queasy. REB would come upstairs and ask me what was wrong because apparently I would have a horrified look on my face or my eyes were really wide. I haven’t read other books by this author, but I really liked the way he wrote and again, I liked the way the book was told from all four kids’ perspective. Warning though: because it’s so descriptive there isn’t a lot of dialogue. This was also made into a movie so I’ll need to give that a watch soon!

  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

This book is best read in the summer. Perhaps that was my mistake for having read it during the cold Michigan winter. I probably would have enjoyed it way more. It’s a pretty story that spans over 50 years. It’s about a Hollywood star who comes to Italy and the innkeeper who sees her and falls in love with her. The story starts in the 1960s, but it’s also told “in the now” as you read about how he comes searching for her on the set of a movie (similar to Life After Life where you read the same story, but from different time periods or whatever). It’s a cute and an easy read, but I don’t know that I’d recommend it to anyone. It didn’t keep me interested that long and the author name drops a lot of famous actors throughout the novel too.

  • Wild: Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

I was surprised by the number of people who gave this book 2 or less stars on Goodreads. This story is another one of those woman-does-something-so-she-writes-a-memoir, but it was good. I had my doubts because I read that horrible, atrocious pile of garbage Elizabeth Gilbert wrote (Eat Pray Love) and hated…and I mean…HATED that book. So having read a book like that, I was really nervous to read this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This book is about a woman named Cheryl who, when she was 26 years old, decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own, which runs from California up to Washington. The reason she does it? Her mother passed away a few years before and she never really found herself centered.She meets people along the way, is smart about what she packs, but learns a lot. I loved this book, plain and simple. I thought about my life at 26 and what I was doing and “hiking 2,600+ miles” sure as hell wasn’t on my list. Sure, she was stupid in some decisions she made both on trail and off, but she was 26. She’s a grown up but hasn’t gotten it all figured out yet. I read this book in one day. It’s also being made into a movie. Give this book a chance. Especially if you want something better than that other pile of crap.

  • The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

This is another book-turned-movie that I wanted to read. I think it’s actually already out and on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s a young adult/teen book that follows the story of Sutter Keely, this senior in high school who has a live-in-the-moment view on life. Along the way he meets a girl from his class, Aimee, and feels the need to help her open up from her quiet, sheltered life. It doesn’t sound like much, but I found I could relate to the story in that we all knew that kid in high school. I knew of at least three or four boys in my class who acted like Sutter and I desperately wished I could have been their friend, but I was the awkward, quiet girl who had band friends, but we were definitely deemed as the class nerds. It made me feel like a teen again going through those experiences and imagining what my life would have been like if I had been invited to one of Paul Doerr’s hose parties (only peeps from my school who read this will know who he is). I don’t even know if Paul threw amazing parties, but I heard they were a good time. Anyway, this is a good read. It’s told from a guy’s perspective, which not too many teen/young adult books do and it’s highly entertaining!

I have really enjoyed finding all these different kinds of books to read so far. If you have more you can suggest to me, please do! And please give these books a read if you get a chance. Stay tuned for another installment of book reviews in a few weeks! Happy reading :)

 

Roasted Vegetable Salad

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Confession: this is a recipe I made back in August and prepped for the blog and then never updated it. Today I’m sick and home from work, was looking through my computer and backing up photos from photo sessions and other blog posts, when I came across these photos and realized I never posted this.

But this recipe is just as good now as it was back then and it’s something I highly recommend you all make sometime soon.

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This recipe is adapted and recreated from a restaurant about 1.5 miles from our house called Eat (appropriate name, eh?). The great thing about Ann Arbor is its philosophy to grow local, buy local and support local. This restaurant changes its menu every season and makes really fresh food. It’s a touch on the spendy side, but they keep things creative and delicious.

This is one huge salad with a bounty of roasted vegetables, a light dressing and the best part: goat cheese! I made a few changes to satisfy my and REB’s tastes, but I have to say, it might be the best restaurant recreation I’ve made at home in a while. It is perfect for summer and can be easily altered to use root vegetables for fall or winter, or make as is during the winter when you’re craving the summer heat (like right now for instance).

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Roasted Vegetable Salad
 
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Cook time
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Roasted vegetables, tart goat cheese and a light dressing make this salad perfect for any season.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish, side dish
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SALAD:
  • 2 golden beets, washed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium or large zucchini, washed and cut lengthwise into strips
  • 1 medium or large yellow squash, washed and cut lengthwise into strips
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 oz. goat cheese
  • Mixed greens salad mix of your choice
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons (eye ball it) olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  2. Arrange cut vegetables on a large baking sheet in a single layer
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper
  4. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, you can prepare your dressing: Add shallot, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to a small bowl. While whisking, and pour the olive oil and mix until desired consistency. Let dressing cool in fridge while vegetables finish roasting.
  6. TO SERVE:
  7. Add dressing to the bottom of your salad bowl. If serving on a large platter or plate, skip this step.
  8. Toss greens with dressing and vegetables lightly to dress
  9. With your fingers, “tear” off pieces of goat cheese to add to salad
  10. Serve warm

“What are you reading?”

I love when people ask me this question. I’ve always loved to read, but lately I’ve been reading more, which I think is a good thing! I love having a break room at work and when I actually can take a break, I like that I can go in there and read the book I’m currently reading. What I like even more is when a coworker will walk by, see me or someone else in there reading, pop in and ask “What are you reading?” and a conversation evolves.

Thanks to my friends Amber and Jackie, I seem to be reading even more than I had before. They both have very interesting taste in books, but similar interests to the types of books I read, so they have been able to recommend all sorts of great books for me to read. Like many, I make a reading goal each year. It’s gradually gone up and it’s not anything crazy like 100 or something, but I do try to read at least 30 books each year. Last year I got to 26. ALMOST! So here’s hoping I can get closer this year. I have read some really great books this past year, but I thought I would share what I have most recently read (since Thanksgiving-ish). I will try my best to not give away too many spoilers (or say anything about them other than what is stated on the book jacket or description on Amazon or something), because no one likes spoilers!

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I think a lot of people have heard of this book, seen its cover or have already read it, but I came across it because Jackie’s husband had made a comment about it on social media. I was intrigued so I read it. Someone should have prepared me for the water works. It’s a beautiful story about a teenage girl who is battling cancer and what she’s experiencing at the rightful age of 16. One word to describe this book: honest. It is written so honestly as a 16-year-old girl would speak, it just shook me to the core. It’s definitely worth a read and very easy to read. I think I read it in a day or something.

  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

This book came recommended to me by Amber. I vividly remember being at work and getting two texts from her: “Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.” and “I’m 100 pages in and hooked.” That was all it took for me to go onto the library website and get it on hold. I was so happy that not many people were in queue to have it. This book tops out as one of my favorite books I’ve read. That’s a fairly tall order to say for a book, but it was really good. I got it right when I left for holiday break at work so I spent what time I could over break reading it. It’s about a girl who is born, but then dies at birth, and some where else in the world, she’s reborn again and relives her life in the early 1900s and dies and is reborn and dies, etc. It’s like Groundhog Day, but better (I know, I know. Bill Murray is the man, but trust me). Warning: It’s long, and at times can seem slow. When you put it down and then pick it up again later, it’s sometimes hard to figure out “where you are” in the story (so to speak). I read it in both long jaunts and also short reads here and there, and at times it was confusing, but nothing that I couldn’t figure out quickly! This is another book I would recommend!

  • Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

This book I came across when perusing the library website and Amazon. One way that I try to figure out what book to read next is to go to Amazon’s Top 100 list in Fiction. I ignore the lady pr0n (Fifty Shades kind of halted that whole “endeavor” – ha) but look through the rest and read through people’s comments/reviews to see if it’s a book I would read. I do the same thing on the library website and search the “What’s Hot” list in the catalog search to see what people are checking out (literally – ha!). This book was one of those. It’s about an immigrant Chinese girl and her mom moving from Hong Kong to NYC and what she goes through having to adjust to life in the States. I am a sucker for books like this. Being an immigrant myself, I relate very easily to books about people coming to America and having to adjust to life here. Trying to figure out a balance of holding onto your own culture while still adapting to culture here in the states or wanting to be accepted, is a challenge I faced and many still face! You don’t know where you fit in and you feel disenfranchised from both American culture and your foreign culture. It’s hard! The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is a book like that, which hit close to home for me, so I gave this book a shot. It was pretty good! At times, very hard to read just by the graphic nature of poverty and culture shock and the need to being accepted, but it was beautifully written. If you want a quick read, I recommend it!

So there we have it, what I’ve read so far towards my goal. True, Fault in Our Stars doesn’t make the 2014 list since I didn’t finish it this year, but that’s OK. And I know it seems silly that I’ve only read, like, 3 books, but it’s only mid-January and I started reading these around end-of-November! Not too shabby.

And what am I currently reading? Well, I decided to give thriller a chance and I’m reading The Shining by Stephen King. It is so good and I can’t put it down. I’m actually mad at myself for having seen the movie first since I know what happens, but reading the actual story is pretty neat, because there are things the movie didn’t have that are actually scarier. Stay tuned for a review of that soon! I also have tons of other books Amber and Jackie let me borrow, and books that I’ve picked up from the library. Here’s hoping I can dive into those next.

So the real question now, is: What are you reading?

Let me know what you’re reading and/or if you have any suggestions for me!

Obligatory Snow Post

Polar vortex. Arctic blast. COLD COLD COLD. I’m sure many of you have seen and heard about the ridiculous amount of snow and cold the Midwest and Northeast has received, but I am still in shock over all of it.

Snowmageddon, as we refer to it here in the Mitten State, happened two years ago in February and it was pretty bad (or so we thought). We got roughly 8-9 inches, and it was cold, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Then this year. This was the real Snowmageddon. Ever since early December, we’ve received snowfall with a fair amount of accumulations every weekend or so. Christmas we received a lot of snow (ice storm up by my parents), same goes for New Years, and now this past weekend.

Saturday I took full advantage of the sun and somewhat warm temperatures and took the dog on a much needed walk around the neighborhood. It’s a good thing I did, because the snow came later that night.

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As you can see, the snow was still pretty deep for him even then. So then that afternoon into that evening, the whole winter storm advisories came through, the warning of cold temps headed our way during the week came in, and we just kind of shrugged and said “bring it.” …and oh, was it brought’n! I woke up on Sunday and couldn’t believe the amount of snow we had received and how much was still falling.

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I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it was pretty awful. REB and I shoveled three times together on Sunday. Since we have a corner lot, we’re also responsible for the sidewalk/easement that runs alongside our house and in front, so by the time we were done with all of that, we had to re-shovel the driveway because it had accumulated again. He even shoveled late that night around 11 once he was done working out!

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We had already received emails about working from home on Monday, or having a snow day, so it was at least nice that we had another day at home.

Not when you have to shovel though. Again.

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We have some wonderful neighbors with heavy duty snow blowers and they actually came through and cleared all the driveways in our cul de sac, and the sidewalks that run in front of and alongside the houses. Note to self: make cookies for said neighbors as a HUGE thank you. However, that didn’t stop REB and I from shoveling. Because of the wind and the temps dropping, we had a fair amount of drift, which blocked our garage door leading out to the backyard, so we had to shovel all that away and also shovel a path for the dog so he could actually get into the backyard to TCB. We appropriately named him Sir Stumpinton since watching him hop around in our yard with snow up to his neck, was pretty derp and cute.

So the final tally for Ann Arbor was 10-11 inches, but in some areas of our yard we had accumulations of up to 17 inches. My parents (1 hour north) got roughly 17 inches, which tops out the most in the Lower Peninsula for Michigan.

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View from our driveway

And finally I had to take the obligatory picture of me next to one of those snowbanks.

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The last time I took a picture with a snowbank as tall as me, was when my family and I lived in Houghton, MI in the UP. I was about 7 or 8 years old then. And believe me, being a kid in a blizzard/snowstorm situation is way more fun than having to deal with it as an adult. I think we’re supposed to get more snow this week, but because the temps are in the negatives (with wind chills at -42 or something ridiculous), we may not have as much accumulation. Here’s hoping!

So, I hope everyone stays safe and stays warm! And for those of you in warmer climates and states…send us some of that sunshine, will ya? :)

 

Hello 2014!

And hello to all of you! Soooo yeah. The last time I wrote a blog post was over the summer… I think…? I hang my head in shame at my lack of contributing to the blogosphere. I don’t really have any excuse, except, life happened and kind of took over everything else. So this blog kind of got stuck in the back of the metaphorical pantry and almost reached its expiration date. Funky.

But I digress. I thought I would take inspiration from Amber and recap what happened in 2013 and what I’m hoping will happen in 2014. It’s cliche but it’s fun! I am not a person who like to make resolutions. I call ‘em goals and each year I set a few for myself and hopefully I can accomplish most, if not all!

Recap of 2013:

  • I turned 30! I had a list on here for the 31 things I wanted to do before turning 30 and I did what I said: I accomplished half. There are things that just didn’t happen due to money and time constraints, but I’d still say that’s pretty damn good. How did I celebrate turning 30? My friend and I threw a Roaring 20s party to say goodbye to our twenties. It was definitely a highlight of the year!
  • Ran two 5K’s! I ran my first 5K in April 2013 and then did the Color Run with Amber in May. Both were fun! I had hoped to run another one, but oh well.
  • Trip to Cali. We witnessed two of our very good friends tie the knot and partied with them in a beautiful villa in Santa Barbara. The addition of wine tasting, running/walking on the beach and driving the Pacific Coast Highway made the trip fun, though busy!
  • Trip to NYC with my friend Jackie. To ring in our 30th birthdays, she and I spent 5 wonderful days in The Big Apple. I didn’t want to leave. Hands down, one of my Top 5 favorite vacations of all time.
  • Excelled at work. I helped lead a major project at work, which was successful and made me feel pretty good!
  • Had a total of 15 photo session this year, 4 of them being weddings. This was absolute perk for me this year. I had hoped to gain more exposure for my photography side business and it totally happened! Here’s hoping it will continue.
  • Interior design/home improvements. We spent a good amount of money repairing things in our house and also decorating it. It’s slowly but surely coming together.

I can’t complain about the way things went in 2013. I just hope 2014 can be like that, or better! Here are some things I hope to accomplish this year.

  • HEALTH. It’s so cliche to make this statement every year, but I really, really need to focus on my health this year. I’m officially in the “old” category (haha, OK not really but you know what I mean) and it will only get harder to lose weight, keep endurance up and the energy up, so I want to make a conscious effort to continue a healthy lifestyle. The first big thing? Cutting out alcohol for a least 3 months. I did this before I got married and I didn’t miss it one bit. I felt healthier, lighter and more energized.
  • Completely decorate and finish 2 full rooms in the house. We decided to start with our bedroom since we want it to be a place we spend time in other than to just sleep. I’m happy to say that with a few more accents, this room will actually be done! Then I hope to start the front rooms of the house, or the guest room.
  • Run another 5K. One of the Christmas presents REB and I got each other was a treadmill for our basement. I plan to put that thing to good use and put it (and me!) to work.
  • Explore more of Detroit. I had the pleasure of finally going to Eastern Market in Detroit and also trying out Supino pizza! It was definitely well worth the wait and easily became one of my favorite spots in Motor City. I have seen other parts of Detroit a few times (Heidelberg Project, MCS, Dequindre Cut, Cafe Roma, Tigers and Lions games, theaters downtown, etc.), but I want to explore more! Like, I’ve never been to the River Walk, or a Red Wings game, or a casino downtown other than getting a drink at MGM and Greektown. Plus, I’d still love to do a portrait session down there sometime. I hear Amber is looking to see more of Detroit so maybe she’ll join me in this quest!
  • Have a picnic in the Arb. I love living in Ann Arbor and it might be totally “hipster” or stupid, but I want to have a picnic in Nichols Arboretum here in town. Especially when all the lilacs and flowers are in bloom there in the spring/summer.
  • Blog more! I feel awful for not having blogged in so long this year, but I hope to blog a little more. Maybe not recipes all the time, but anything. At least once a month. That’s a pretty good goal, right?
  • Sleep earlier. One of the biggest factors in having a healthy lifestyle is getting a sufficient amount of sleep. I can function on between 6-8 hours sleep, which I think is pretty average for someone of my age and stuff. However, we always, always watch TV in bed before going to bed. I’d like to make a conscious effort to not do that. To spend the last part of my day reading in bed then getting some decent shut eye.
  • MOAR PHOTOS! I hope to continue with portrait sessions for families, kids and seniors. I’m also excited to be assisting my friend in a few weddings this year, too.

So here’s to 2014! It’s going to be way rad and full of high fives and fun!

 

ABCs of Yours Truly

A. Attached or Single? Very much attached and very happy :)

Happy hubby :)

B. Best friend? My sister Shar. She’s way rad.

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C. Cake or Pie?  Pie. Always pie. Say “YES!” to Pie!

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D. Day of choice? Saturday. Middle of the weekend, still a day left, and a whole day to spend however I want!

E. Essential Item?  Wedding rings, iPhone, Chapstick, ID

F. Favorite color?  Green

G. Gummy bears or worms?  Ew

H. Home town?  Being a professor’s kid I moved around a lot as a kid. I was born in New Delhi, India. But then I moved to Columbus, OH; Pullman, WA; Houghton, MI; Oxford, MS; and then Grand Blanc, MI and now Ann Arbor, MI. Pop Quiz! name the universities at each city (except for GB).

I. Favorite indulgence?  Gelato

Coffee flavored nomz!

J. January or July?  July. Middle of summer, warm weather (although sometimes ungodly hot), July 4!

K. Kids?  None, unless you count the four-legged fur kid. Not sure kids are in the future for us, though.

L. Life isn’t complete without?  Laughter

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M. Marriage date?  August 20, 2011. We beat Kim Kardashian!

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N. Number of brothers/sisters?  1 older and wiser sister. She’s rad.

O. Oranges or Apples?  Apples, but then I have to share with the four legged fur kid

P. Phobias?  I have several: Entomophobia – the fear of insects; Arachnephobia (MAJORLY); Coulrophobia – fear of clowns; Achluophobia – fear of the dark.

Q. Quotes?  “Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.” -Calvin & Hobbes

R. Reasons to smile? 

  • When I see other people smiling
  • When REB holds my hand, then kisses it -swoon-
  • When my dog gets “greedy eyes” when we’re eating apples or carrots
  • When we gift a present to my mom or dad and they smile
  • When I see older people who I know have been married for 40+ years
  • Texting my best friends random inside jokes (DFB…B…B…)
  • This could go on and on….

S. Season of choice?   Fall: football (college and NFL), cider mills, pumpkins, Halloween, sweater weather, boots!

T. Tag 5 People.  All of you! <3

U. Unknown fact about me?  I don’t really like beer.

V. Vegetable?  Any and all. Om nom nom.

V-Vegetarian

W. Worst habit?  Biting my nails. I know how gross it is yet it’s a terrible, nervous habit.

X. X-ray or Ultrasound?  Is this asking what I prefer? I’ve never had an ultrasound, so x-ray?

Y. Your favorite food?  Indian street food (chole batura, chaat, etc.); risotto, pickles, mom’s southie Indian home cooking ;)

Z. Zodiac sign?  Libra. I’m balanced and shit ;)

Big thanks to Parita for tagging! Hope you all have a wonderful week! <3

California in Pictures

Last weekend two incredibly close friends of ours, Sean (one of the best men at our wedding) and Courtney, got married in Santa Barbara, CA! And since my man was the best man, we flew out there to celebrate and enjoy some sunshine!

Our trip started with a flight from Detroit to LA, then picking up our rental and making the 90-mile-journey (read: at least 2-1/2-hour-drive-in-rush-hour-traffic) up to Santa Barbara. Our flight landed at 5 p.m, – worst time to try and navigate a six-lane highway in the worlds smoggiest, most disgusting city. However since we had the time, we took a slight detour, added another hour to our trip and drove up Pacific Coast Highway. And I am so glad we did!

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When we finally reached Santa Barbara it was kind of late in the night, but the bride and groom had rented out a vacation home near the beach, for the week! So the entire girls side of the wedding party (minus the brides sister/MOH) stayed there, the groom of course, REB and I, and some other friends! The house was gorgeous.

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The courtyard in the backyard where I spent most of my time. The formal dining was there in the back. There was also a heater when it got cold at night, and a huge bed/seating area for anyone who wanted to chill and sleep out there. The bride and groom actually did their “first look “photos out here by the fountain.

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Lemon tree! The backyard actually had apple, plum, lemon and fig tress. So wonderful!

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The guest cottage was up those stairs to the left, which is where REB and I slept during our stay here. It was super cozy but had a bed, bathroom and mini bar! It was also next to the chickens that lived in their own roost up and to the right. They were the cutest things ever and gave us some eggs each morning :)

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The next day, REB and I decided to meet up with his buddy Pat (the other best man at our wedding) and do some wine tasting! We also got to meet his fun girlfriend and explored the beach front/downtown area of Santa Barbara. It was a cute little city and all the wine tasting places were right next door to each other and on the same block. This makes it easy when you’re already tipsy by 1 p.m. ;)

REB and his best bud Pat Pat!

REB and his best bud Pat Pat!

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Municipal Winemakers

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Kunin Wines

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Kunin Wines

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Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

We eventually had to get back to the house because the girls and I were taking the bride out for her bachelorette party! We had a blast! We started the night back at Munci wines for some wine tasting and enjoying a bottle or two. Then we walked to the Fish House (which had some vegetarian stuff actually!) and then took her out for dancing and debauchery. It was too much fun.

The bride with all her bridesmaids!

The bride with all her bridesmaids, minus her sister/MOH was riding in front.

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Courtney’s getting married!

We had at least a box of wine we went through that night. We are not ashamed.

We had at least a box of wine we went through that night. We are not ashamed.

The rest of the debauchery photos, I don’t have, so I can’t share them. But trust me when i say the bride had a good time.

The following day was the day of the rehearsal dinner, but we had some time in the morning, so REB and I headed into town and checked out downtown Santa Barbara. We got some lunch at a cute little Danish cafe, walked to the historic, gorgeous courthouse which has a viewing tower, and walked around a little before getting ready for the BBQ on the beach!

View from the top of the courthouse

View from the top of the courthouse

La Arcada - a cute little alleyway/street with boutiques and restaurants.

La Arcada – a cute little alleyway/street with boutiques and restaurants.

Time for the rehearsal dinner!

Time for the rehearsal dinner!

Goleta Beach

Goleta Beach

Goleta Beach Pier

Goleta Beach Pier

Saturday was the big day! While the wedding party was bustling around getting ready for the wedding, I decided to stay out of the way and walked down to Shoreline Park and then down to the beach! Have I mentioned how much I love bodies of water, especially the ocean? I seriously could have walked up and down the beach along the shore, listening to the waves, all. day. long.

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Time for the wedding!

REB. groom, and Pat Pat. BFFs since freshman year of college <3

REB. Sean and Pat-Pat. BFFs since freshman year of college <3

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The beautiful bride getting ready.

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First dance!

First dance!

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It was a busy, but incredibly fun 5 days in the golden state. I met some new people who will be lifelong friends, all while celebrating the love of two people who mean the world to us. I couldn’t be happier for them and thank them for those fun days and night in Cali and we hope we can visit them again soon! Thanks for letting us be part of your special day!

 

 

 

Canine keratitis sicca

I thought I would take a turn from the usual blog post and share something about our beloved four-legged fur kid, Gryff.

Mostly because he’s a big part of our lives, but also because we are going on vacation in a few weeks and I started to get worried about boarding him. I always do. Call me the paranoid pet owner, but in a second, you’ll understand why I’m nervous about boarding him.

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About a year and a half ago, Gryff was diagnosed with keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or keratitis sicca. To you and me it’s better known as “doggie dry eye”. If not treated it could lead to blindness! :(

When we noticed

It started about 2 1/2 years ago when we noticed that every spring Gryff would have a discharge in his eyes – eye boogs we would call them. We would take him to our vet and they would do their routine check for ulcers in the eye, scratched corneas, and whatever else, but everything would come back clean. So they gave us a drop and send us home. While the drop did work and cleared up the gunk, we noticed it kept coming back.

After months and months of going through this cycle, our vet finally told us they were stumped and referred us to an animal ophthalmologist about an hour from our house near Lansing (the capital). One trip there and the doc said he had this condition.

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So what exactly is it?

It’s extreme dryness of the eye, to the point where Gryff’s tear ducts don’t produce tears. Or enough tears to help moisturize the eye. If not treated, the simple act of blinking can scratch the cornea and could result in blindness. Scary!

How is it caused?

We don’t really know. The most we can find online and after conversations with Dr. Ramsey is that it can just happen and it might hereditary or genetic. He actually told us only one place in the whole world would be able to not only find out what caused it, but also completely treat it – and that’s a vet hospital in Oxford, England.

So how do you treat it?

Dr. Ramsey prescribed several eye drops and medications for Gryff to use. Now he’s on 5 different medications, which he gets 3 times a day. It seems like a lot, but if it means he can see clearly, we’re all for it. He’s given his meds once in the morning (around 6:30/7 a.m.), then again at 4:30/5 p.m., and lastly at 11 p.m. Each medication is given to Gryff 5 minutes apart.

The medications

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  • Alpha Interferon – A refrigerated drop that cancer patients actually use when on chemotherapy to help keep moisture in the eyes and tear ducts. One drop in each eye 3 times a day.
  • Pilocarpine – A pill also used by some cancer patients undergoing chemo, which helps create saliva and moisture in the salivary glands. The salivary glands are hooked into your eye glands actually! Half a pill given before each meal (he eats twice a day, so one pill, total, a day)
  • Tobramycin Ophthalmic – A drop that helps prevent bacterial infections of the eye. One drop in each eye, once a day (we do it during his morning round of meds)
  • Tacrolimis – An anti-inflammatory eye drop to help stimulate the tear glands and prevent further decrease of  tissue. It’s a super oily drop, but it’s the one we notice seems to work almost immediately! One drop in each eye, 3 times a day.
  • Genteal Eye Gel – An eye gel for humans, found in the eye care aisle at any drug store or supermarket. One squeeze in each eye, throughout the day as needed.

So you can see my nervousness of the Petsmart Pet Hotel being able to do this for us. I assume they will do fine since I’m sure they get all kinds of dogs with medical problems coming in there, but I really do worry if they will do the meds on time. If they mess up or skip anything once, he could be a squinty pup for a while, which also hurts his eyes :(

The kind of bad news

Gryff will be on these drops for the rest of his life. He’s 4 1/2 now, so he’s got a lot of years and a lot of eye meds ahead of him. These drops and pills are also not cheap. The pilocarpine pill, since it is a human pill we get at the pharmacy, costs $50 for one month dosage or $150 for 3 months. His other drops range from $20-$40 each whenever a refill is needed. The Genteal which we get in the eye care aisle is $10-12 and we try to buy in bulk since we give that to him the most throughout the day.

The good news

Dr. Ramsey said Gryff is making great progress. The meds are clearly working and he’s even starting to see some tear production. It’s still not enough to warrant going off the drops, but it’s still great news. We used to have to take Gryff up to see him twice a year and now we just see him once a year to ensure no new developments have occurred.

Gryff will go on living a normal, healthy live as a happy pup. He doesn’t even care about the drops. I know some dogs would hate it, but I think he knows it helps him, so he never bites or fidgets when we are giving him the meds – a huge help if you ask me ;)

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Conclusion

Get your pet checked every year for their routine visit. If you are noticing the symptoms we noticed with Gryff, ask your vet if keratitis is a possibility. They should know what it is and can start testing for that, or refer you to a vet who can.

It’s scary to find out something is wrong with a family member, especially a pet. But the important thing is to stay calm and see about treatment. I am forever grateful to Dr. Ramsey and the fact that animal eyes are his specialty. My big fear, still, is that Gryff will go blind before he’s too old. He’s such a happy little dog and he didn’t ask for his, which is why REB and I are always very conscious of getting home on time if we’re out, in order to give him his meds.

He’s a big part of our lives, and we want him around for as long as time will allow!

I hope this was helpful and informative for dog owners and other corgi owners!

 

 

 

I swear I still exist

I know, I know. I’ve neglected my piece of Internet for almost a month. It’s horrible, but I have a good excuse: LIFE.

Seriously. Things have been so busy lately and the blog has been the last thing on my mind. I feel so horrible for saying that, but it’s true! The thing is, so much has been going and I’ve been taking pictures. However when the day is done, the last thing I want to do is download pictures to a computer, sit down and write it all out.

I also feel bad for not giving blog love lately to all my favorite bloggers. I’ve been neglecting that as well. I apologize and send hugs to all of you!

But I will say this: I’m still here! I do still exist! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ll see that I do still exist. I’ve even been neglecting the Twitterverse, too. Ugh. Just that time of the year I guess.

So real quick, here’s what’s been happening:

  • I bought a new camera body! I finally upgraded and joined the full frame club. I am now the proud owner of a Canon 5D Mark ii and I absolutely love it! Love is an understatement really. I still plan on keeping my Rebel as a backup and for the everyday (like taking pictures of food if I ever make something worth blogging about ever again. Stupid busy-ness). The 5D is really for all the sessions I book so I don’t put too much wear and tear on it.
  • Memorial Day came and went and I had a BBQ with family and friends. REB was in Vegas with his best friends for a bachelor party and I didn’t want to be alone all weekend, so I invited people over. Logical.
  • We’re past the one year mark and have been homeowners for one year! Hooray! I decided it was time to no longer have completely bare walls so I’ve started planning out where all the art prints I’ve collected throughout the years will be hung. It’s a fun process. I’ve also planned out which rooms I’ll tackle first in the decorating department so it’s a bit more of an organized process.
  • I’ve been booking more sessions, which has had me really happy! That’s also what’s been taking up so much of my time at night: editing photos! I have a few sessions lined up this summer including two more weddings! I promise, promise to share some of those pictures soon! But you all can always go check out my Facebook photo page to see the ones I’ve taken recently!
  • REB’s best friends wedding (the one he was in Vegas for the bachelor party) is at the end of June so I’ll be even more MIA while we’re in SoCal for that. I seriously can’t wait. A laid-back California wedding near wine country? Sign me up!
  • When it hasn’t been raining nonstop everyday, REB and I have been riding our bikes again! I have a goal to ride 500 miles before my 30th birthday in October, and I still have another 475 or so go to  - haha. Need to hope to it!

So even though things are busy-busy, I’m still thinking of all of you and promise to play catch up on your blogs. I hope to be a bit more “present” to update you on how the summer is going and what items I can check off the bucket list.

I hope you all have been doing well, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Marvelous weekend

It’s a bit of a slow Monday for me today. So much so I had to get a coffee from my favorite coffee place in town instead of relying on the Keurig at work. I also had them put three shots of espresso in it, instead of the usual two. Yep, it’s one of those Mondays.

So to help make Monday a little brighter, I thought I would follow suit of one of my new favorite bloggers Dixya (Food Pleasure Health) and do a recap of all things Marvelous on this Monday.

Marvelous is finally seeing a movie you have been waiting to see since the winter.

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I can’t say enough good things about this movie other than I loved it and you should go see it. Baz Luhrrman has made a beautiful film and one I would probably go see again if given the chance. I wasn’t as big a fan of Romeo + Juliet, but I liked how he directed it. I think mostly I don’t like that play so watching an entire movie about it, wasn’t my idea of fun. But I love everything about the 1920s! I remember reading this book in the 11th grade and thinking to myself, “I want to go to Gatsby’s parties!”.

I also had one of my buddies Nick come hang out with us for a night. The three of us went to see Iron Man 3 at the theater where you can have a cocktail while watching. It wasn’t so bad! I still liked the first one the most, but the third was good too. I was also nice to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in months!

Marvelous is running in a 5K you’ve wanted to run in for over a year.

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Marvelous is also running this race with a good friend and having a blast! I finally did the Color Run over the weekend and Amber and I had a great time. It was her first 5K and my first Color Run and I do plan on running this again next year! Amber did great for it being her first 5K! I’m so proud of her :)

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Marvelous is also setting a new personal record from the first race you ever did and knowing it can only get better from here!

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Marvelous is spending an entire day with this gorgeous woman and making her feel like a million dollars. We went up to my parents for Mother’s Day and treated my mom to lunch and I was just happy to spend some QT with her! While at my parents, I found several old pictures from when I was born and the first few years I lived in India before moving to the States. I had fun going through them and showing REB too. Afterward, we went and visited his grandmother and she showed us some old pictures of him as as kid. All I can say is: my hubby was an adorable little dude! Still is ;)

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend despite there being so little sleep. I hope to make up for some sleep this week and also get a few more runs outdoors!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! – xo