Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

As a teen, I was a major advocate for using the heater. My bestfriend's dad never kept their house above 65 degrees and told me to grab a blanket or sweater whenever I complained. I thought he was being completely irrational, not to mention a bit scroogey with his PG&E bill. I didn't fully understand his thought process until I moved into my own single-family home.

Apartments are great for heating because they are usually small and can warm up quickly. Heating an entire house, on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. It takes at least twice as long and costs much more than that. Even though there are times when I feel like I am freezing, I can't bring myself to turn on the heater.

My stubbornness reached a low point two years ago. It was our first winter in the house and I was worried about how high our bill would be. I convinced our roommates to "play a game" to see how long we could last without turning on the heater. We decided 55 degrees would be the breaking point. Yes, 55 degrees. I don't know what I was thinking convincing others to live like that; the air was so cold in the morning that it was actually painful to change! The final straw came when our roommate, Jenna, woke up extra early and swore she saw her breathe. She went to check the thermostat to confirm it was 55 degrees, and it read 49! Can you believe it?! 49 degrees inside our house; that is absurd.

I have since learned my lesson and we now have the heater set on a timer to come on in the morning. I continue find myself battling irrational thoughts of how "it's really not that cold" or "one more blanket won't hurt", and every time I do, I'm reminded of my bestfriend's dad. This thought makes me laugh because I have turned into him completely.

How low are you willing to keep your thermostat? 
(Photos: one and two)
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What to Where - Winter in Italy

I'm sure by now, you can all guess that I love to travel. The thrill of discovering and exploring a new place gets me every time. While traveling, I do my best to avoid looking like a tourist by stirring clear of fanny packs, and striving to be as local as possible. This desire has encouraged me to create a new series titled, What to Where, in which I will be pairing an outfit with a destination. I hope you enjoy!

Be sure to stay cozy when exploring Italy in the winter. Even a beautifully Mediterranean destination can get cold and rainy in their winter months.
(Photos - one, two)
Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Time for Christmas Music!

Today marks the start of my Christmas station on Pandora at work. I will happily be playing holiday tunes in my cube from now until New Year's Eve! Although I am free to listen to anything that pops up at work, Robbie has set some pretty high standards for the house. He won't let just any old album play, so here of four of the albums that have made the cut.

Sufjan Stevens, "Songs for Christmas" - This Christmas set includes five discs, each loaded with classic holidays tunes, and a few originals. In typical Sufjan fashion, he has an entirely new take on the classics; usually consisting of quirky orchestral arrangements and folk staples like banjo. This album is an absolute staple in our house during December.

Dustin Kensrue, "The Good Night is Still Everywhere" - This is one of Robbie's favorite Christmas albums. Dustin breathes new life into traditional songs, and his gritty voice is a welcome break from the squeaky-clean commercial sound.

Jackson 5, "Christmas Album" - Who doesn't love little Michael singing, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"?! Their songs always get me moving when I'm baking holiday treats in the kitchen.

Pottery Barn, "Hip Holidays Vol. 1" - I inherited this album from a friend of mine and I must admit that it is one of my absolute favorites. Some of the great voices you will hear include, Ella Fitzgerald, Lou Rawls, Etta James, and Dean Martin. It sounds strange, but Pottery Barn really nails it with this one.

What are your favorite holiday albums? 
Friday, November 25, 2011

Have a Relaxing Weekend

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. Mine was great. The food was delicious, the conversation was great, and I even squeezed in a nap! As for the rest of the weekend, I plan on relaxing. Maybe that will include taking my dog for a walk, doing some yoga, hanging with Robbie, or whatever I want!

Earlier this week, I was asked to write a guest post over at Quiet Like Horses, about a surprise kiss! It was really fun to write and I am so happy for the opportunity. Please head over, click here, and check it out. I hope you enjoy your weekend!
(Photo: Youth Novels)
Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope your day is filled with delicious food, great conversation, and quality relaxation. My advice for today (since you asked): don't hold back! You can always run an extra mile tomorrow or do an extra set of crunches the next day. Happy Thanksgiving!
(Photo: Martha Stewart)
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Almost Time to Start Thinking About Christmas

Even though I'm an adult, who has been out of the house for years, my mom has been asking me to prepare my Christmas wish list and would like it completed by tomorrow. She loves to give people gifts and I appreciate that she wants to make sure I'm going to enjoy what I receive. Plus, who doesn't love creating a wish list?! I have been trolling around some of my favorite shops (both online and in-store), jotting down a list of items I wouldn't dream of buying for myself. Here are two I would love to see under the tree...

What is on your wish list this year? Would you rather have one large gift, or numerous small gifts?

(Confession: I feel slightly guilty even thinking about this before Thanksgiving!)
(Photos: Asos sweater, Free People boots)
Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I am not a very patient person. It is something that I have been working to improve in myself for years (it's the worst with technology and traffic). I want to see results much sooner than would naturally occur. For example, when I graduated with an undergraduate degree, I wanted a high-level position right away. I was impatient with "paying my dues". I realize this sounds bratty, but it was a feeling I struggled with.

Yesterday, Bri from DESIGNLOVEFEST shared how she started her blog and reminded her readers to be patient in the growth process. This was a humble reminder to focus on each post and make sure that my best work is being represented. The lessons I learn through the growing pains will be lessons no one can take from me; they will help create a foundation for my future success. I just need to be reminded of that sometimes.

Are you a patient person? Do you have any tips on practicing patience? 
(Photo: Wolf Eyebrows)
Monday, November 21, 2011

Pittsburgh, PA

My bestfriend Julie currently works for a company that moves her around to different parts of the country for a few months at a time. She enjoys experiencing so many cities that she never would have before, but misses her family and friends. I definitely miss having her within driving distance, but I am excited for the adventure she is on. I also love when I get to visit her AND experience a city I've never been to before. Last Spring, I hopped on a plane and joined her for a weekend in Pittsburgh, PA.

Pittsburgh is a city rich with history and full of friendly people. She took me to an outdoor market, a fish warehouse, and the top of Mt. Washington for an amazing panoramic of the city. I was surprised by how green everything was and how easy the city was to navigate. One thing that really threw me off was the humidity. Being in California, I don't run into sticky air very often, so I was a little bit of a wimp about it. Although I felt wilted from the heat, the amazing thunder storms more than made up for it. Thunder storms don't happen very often where I am, so being able to see the bolts of lightening and feel the rumble of the sky was a treat.

Julie also took me to a small town called Ligoneer. This cute little town was made up of four small blocks, with a round-a-bout in the center. We grabbed coffee and muffins at the local coffee shop and spent the morning exploring the little shops throughout town. I think I would have liked Ligoneer more if we hadn't visited on the day I was going home. I remember feeling sad all morning thinking about how our time would be ending soon (I'm horrible about this! I know I need to focus on the moment and cherish the time I do have, but it is a real challenge for me sometimes).

I would definitely visit Pittsburg again. The people were great, the city was fun, and I would love to spend more time exploring the historical areas. Unfortunately, Julie has since moved on to another city, so it looks like I'll have to visit somewhere else (oh, darn! :).

Have you been to Pittsburgh? What was your experience? Would you ever take a trip to Pittsburgh for fun?
(All photos taken by Julie or myself)
Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Raining!

How is your Sunday going so far? A storm rolled in last night and has been dumping a fair amount of rain on this California girl. I have to admit that I absolutely love the rain! Maybe it's because I've grown up in a wonderfully sunny state that has amazing weather pretty much year-round, but I just love a good winter storm. It makes me want to bundle up and relax.

What do you do on rainy days? I hope you stay dry and warm!
Friday, November 18, 2011

Have a Rockin' Weekend

This weekend looks to be a busy one. We will be hanging with friends, enjoying a pre-Thanksgiving feast, and I'll be finishing up some school work. I'm looking forward to everything we have planned (except for maybe my homework), but I am most excited for this evening.

Robbie's band, Troubadour, is playing a show at The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz tonight. Robbie has a strong passion for music and I love being able to watch him take part in that passion. He is the lead singer, while also playing guitar, and I have to admit that I really love being married to the lead singer. He looks so cute up there! Troubadour will be playing with our good friends, Hurricane Roses, so I'm looking forward to a night of great music. If you'd like to check it out, the show starts right at 8pm, so try not to be late.

What are your plans this weekend? Will you be preparing for Thanksgiving?
(Photo: Taken by Jon Renfro)
Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving is Almost Here

Thanksgiving is exactly one week away! Can you believe it? I can't. I feel like each year passes by faster and faster. According to my roommate, Starbucks has officially declared it "Christmas Season". They are now using red cups, playing Christmas tunes, and offering seasonal beverages. However, I'm not ready to forget about Thanksgiving just yet. I love the food, the warmth, and the downtime. Thanksgiving is a time to overeat and a time when naps are encouraged. It is a holiday that forces people to slow down, simply by closing nearly every store. It's perfect.

This year, Robbie's family will be coming over to our house to celebrate. I'm not worried or stressed because everyone contributes and no one makes me cook the turkey :). I'm looking forward to a time of catching up, sharing stories, and enjoying each other's company.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Are you traveling anywhere to celebrate?
(Photo: Scope)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hay Market

Robbie and I recently tried a new restaurant called The Hay Market. It is located in Willow Glen, which is a small suburb about ten minutes from our house. My friend Sarah recommended we try it. She explained to me that the menu changes daily, depending on what the founder/owner receives from his local grower.

There is a large window front with barn-like decorations drawing in those passing by. You enter in through a barn door and are welcomed by a friendly staff. If it's not too busy, you can choose your place at one of the long wooden "family style" tables they have set up. The hostess brought us our menus and directed us to the large chalk boards found above the tables for the hand-written version of what was available.

Robbie ordered a unique game entree and I had the vegan spring box. It was loaded with seasonal vegetables, each complimenting the other's flavor. As we were eating, the founder/owner, Joe Cirone walked around checking on each patron. His presence was not intrusive, rather it was attentive and thoughtful.

After observing my order, he asked if I was actually a vegan (which I'm not). He then assured me that the next time I visit, I should ask to speak to him personally so that we can construct a meal based on what was available in relation to my preferences. He told me that he keeps a vegan option on the menu so that vegans or vegetarians don't write off the menu from the start, but he would prefer to create a made to order meal based on his customer's preference. I was blown away. What restaurant owner and chef wants to make made to order meals for multiple patrons each night?! It was a suggestion I would never have dared ask for myself, yet it made me feel a sense of ownership and connection that usually takes multiple visits.

The atmosphere was intimate and the food was great. I have a feeling that the Hay Market is going to turn into a go-to option for Robbie and I on our nights out. If you are in the area and haven't tried it yet, I would definitely recommend going!

What are your go-to restaurants for eating out? Is there anything that makes it or breaks it for you?
(Photos: Taken for Short Story Long; Fifth photo from Hay Market)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Snickerdoodles by Sarah

I am very excited to introduce a new series here on Short Story Long! My good friend Sarah K is a personal chef and will be joining us every few weeks to share some of the recipes she's working on. She'll give us insights, tips, and tricks that we can use in our own kitchen adventures. Don't be afraid to ask questions in the comments below. Enjoy!

I've been pretty homesick this week. To pass the time, my mind drifts to the laughter of family and friends, the lights, the hugs, and the smell of the dozen or so varieties of cookies that grace my parents' table each Christmas. One cookie in particular that always makes me think of my mom is Snickerdoodles! So with the holidays just around the corner, I thought I'd let you in on one of my tips for getting ready weeks ahead of time!

This recipe is from, with a few small tweaks. :)

1 cup shortening (I used softened unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
(I added 1t pure vanilla extract)
2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets (or line them with parchment).
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended.
  • In a small shallow bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and roll the balls in the sugar mixture. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies should be slightly golden at the edges. Remove to cool on wire racks.

Bake some for now, and some for later! Roll the cookie dough in cinnamon-sugar mixture, toss into a zipper bag and freeze for 1 to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before baking.

Enjoy with a cup of hot apple cider!
Monday, November 14, 2011

Robbie's Birthday Surprise!

Robbie is notoriously better than me when it comes to gift giving. He is thoughtful, considerate, and always seems to find the perfect gift. I, on the other hand, am horrible. I always wait too long to figure out what I am going to get and then once I do, it always feels subpar. For example, a few years ago, Robbie surprised me with a beautiful ring to match my wedding band. What did I hand to him after I opened my gift? A pair of boxers. A pair of boxers. In no way does a pair of boxers even compare to a diamond ring; I was so embarrassed.

This year I decided things would be different. I wanted to blow him out of the water and really nail it on the head. Robbie is a big San Jose Sharks (hockey) fan, so I decided to surprise him with tickets and dinner at his favorite restaurant in downtown San Jose. Since we would be celebrating his birthday, I went ahead and splurged on extra nice seats. His birthday arrived, I was thrilled, and he had no idea. Then I printed the tickets. It turns out the original seller uploaded tickets for the wrong date! I panicked. I started sweating instantly. I really needed this gift to work this year. I called the retailer's customer service line and was told I would have to wait a few hours while they worked to resolve the issue. Ugh! This was not working out how I imagined it. Then, while I was waiting for my "ticket situation" to be resolved, I found out the restaurant I was planning on going to was closed on Mondays! At this point, I was practically beside myself with stress. The one year I thought of something really good, it was falling apart in front of me.

Lucky for me, StubHub (the retailer I bought the tickets through) has an amazing Fan Protect Guarantee and the associate took care of me. I received new tickets at 3:30pm (the game started at 7:30pm), they upgraded our seats by five rows, and reimbursed me for the cost of parking, which was included in my original purchase. At this point, the only worry I had was making sure Robbie didn't figure out the surprise. I took him to dinner at a new place in Willow Glen and lied about where we would be watching the game. I told him we were going to a sports bar right by where the Sharks play and led him to believe I had friends waiting there to surprise us. Right as we were passing the sports arena, I had Robbie turn into the parking lot! It worked out perfectly. Our seats ended up being three rows from the ice, right behind the visitor's penalty box. They were the best seats either one of us have ever been in; we were eye-level with the players as they skated around!

Robbie was thrilled and completely surprised by the whole evening. My two favorite quotes of the night: "This is the best birthday present ever!" and "We keep going! When are we going to stop?! We just keep going!" as we descended to our third row seats (did I already mentioned that we sat in the third row? :).

Have you ever orchestrated a surprise party? Did you have stress or were you confident everything would work out?
(Photos: 1) A Subtle Revelry, 2-4) Taken in San Jose, CA for Short Story Long)
Friday, November 11, 2011

Have a Cozy Weekend!

The temperatures have been dropping and it is raining today. This is my favorite kind of weather. I love the crisp air, the changing colors, and the raindrops on my windows. I love how clean the air is after a heavy rain; it's as though the world has a fresh start, a clean slate.

I'm looking forward to enjoying the weather this weekend. However, I am sick. It's a mixture of head congestion and sore throat, with added head throbbing. Luckily the weather could not be more perfect. I'm planning on keeping things a bit low-key this weekend so that I can will the sickness out!

Will you be doing anything fun this weekend? What will the weather be like for you?


Happy 11/11/11 Day! To be honest, I'm not completely sure if there is any significance around this date, other than the awesome way the numbers line up. Either way, I hope you enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dramatic Eye Makeup

Do you wear dramatic eye makeup? I tend to play on the safe side when getting ready and go for a natural look. If I'm going out somewhere that calls for me to take it up a notch, I usually apply some fun red lipstick. Although that's my usual routine, I'm feeling inspired by the looks above, especially the last one!

Do you think dramatic eye makeup is too much for day-to-day? Men, do you have a preference on how ladies wear their makeup? I'd love to hear...
(Photos: one two three)
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cory's Beautiful Wedding

As I mentioned on Friday, Robbie and I were attending a friend's wedding over the weekend. Our friend Cory married a sweet man named Nick, in a beautiful wedding ceremony, and I felt so honored to be a part of their day.

The ceremony took place in an open seating area of a restaurant in Capitola called Shadowbrook. The bride and groom stood underneath giant windows, exposing a blanket of foliage surrounding the winding staircase that lead down to the restaurant. A fire was lit in the corner and quietly crackled as the couple exchanged their vows. The atmosphere was warm and intimate. The love between the couple and their families was evident throughout the ceremony and following reception. As Cory walked in, her sister and maid-of-honor, had tears welling in her eyes and each parent had touching stories to share about their children. It was a very special day for everyone.

After the ceremony, the guests had an opportunity to catch up with one another while the families took pictures. We enjoyed hors d'ouevres, drinks, and a great view. Shadowbrook is nestled in the banks of the Soquel Creek. The water was calm, the houses were pretty, and the ducks were cute. From here, we headed inside and enjoyed a delicious dinner and dessert with friends. I ordered the salmon and definitely made the right choice.

I was thrilled to find out that Cory had assigned my long-time friend and old roommate, Tracy, to the same table as me! We picked up right where we had left off and laughed throughout the course of our meal. The day was full of smiles and cheer.

Congratulations Nick & Cory! Thank you so much for including us in your wonderful day!
(p.s. Don't you just love the cut-out in the back of her dress?! I loved it!)
(Photos: All photos taken by Jon Renfro)
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wanderlust: Ireland

A friend of mine is currently traveling in Ireland. She spent a few days in Dublin and has since headed out for her "Irish road trip". Reading her stories and keeping up with her travels is making me feel reminiscent of my own trip.

One specific memory weighs heavier on my mind than others. It was our our last night in Ireland and we found a small restaurant that served breakfast for dinner (my favorite)! We settled into the small space, drank warm beverages, and enjoyed each other's company on the last night of our adventure. The restaurant was not traditionally Irish, but it was full of charm and spirit. It made me feel as though I was sitting in my own community, enjoying the company of my neighbors. It was a genuine experience I hope to hold onto and encounter again. 

Are there any travel memories you can't seem to shake? What destination are you currently dreaming of?
(Photos taken in Dublin, Ireland in 2011)
Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Robbie!

Happy Birthday, Robbie! Thank you for sweet love, incredible support, and laugh out loud humor. You make me smile like no one else can, even when I'm at my crankiest! You challenge me to be a better person and are always there to catch me when I fall.

You are the love of my life and I am so grateful that you are mine.
Friday, November 4, 2011

Have a Productive Weekend!

Boy, I have plans for this weekend. There are certain items that have been lingering on my to-do list and I'm ready to check them off! Some of the items on my list are fun, but they are still things I have been meaning to take care of. This weekend will include:

  • Catching up on my BYW reading. Blogging Your Way is the online blogging course that Holly over at decor8 offers; it is AMAZING!
  • Attending a beautiful wedding, in a beautiful place, for a beautiful friend.
  • Catching up with a long-time friend and old roommate, Tracy (she'll be here for the beautiful wedding mentioned above).
  • Work on/complete some Grad school homework.
  • Work on a new blog series!

What are your plans this weekend? Will it be busy or relaxed? Whatever they are, I hope you enjoy them!
(Photo: SeeSaw via Pinterest)
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Work Family

Having good work friends can either make or break a work environment for you. They are the people you spend a majority of your time with, they know how to break the ice in tense situations, and they can share the weight of stressful experiences. Sometimes it can be difficult to build these relationships, but the payoff is tremendous. At a previous job, I was completely miserable everyday. I had a hard time getting out of bed and a friend even described the feeling as "soul crushing". Throughout this time, I had one co-worker who was my shining light and was able to cheer me up. She would stop by to tell me a joke, take me out for breaks, and encourage me to follow my dreams and passions. I would not have made it through that time without her.

I am lucky enough to have great work friends. They do everything above and so much more. Cecilia keeps it real, Denise always make me laugh, Scott and Michael spoil me with delicious treats, Eric has been a great cube neighbor, and Sobrina is one of my best friends (even though she doesn't technically work with me anymore). They encourage me and support me in the same way my biological family does. Work would not be the same without you, work family!

Do you have a work family or do you work from home? Do you hang out with your work family on the weekend?
(Photo: here)
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finding a New Bed

Robbie and I love the comfort of our bed and how it works so well with the entire design of our room. What we don't love are the loud squeaks it makes anytime we move. We are at the point now where buying a new frame will be a good investment. Here are some of the fun frames I have found so far:

What kind of bed frame do you have? Would you, or do you, miss the available storage of a floor frame? I'd love the hear your recommendations!
(Photos: one, two, three)
Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Travel Fantasy: The Snow!

I don't mean to sound like a spoiled Californian, but we just can't seem to kick this warm weather! I'm secretly hoping that November will mark the beginning of rainy weather, cold nights, and thick sweaters. As I have been day dreaming about cooler temperatures, I can't help but imagine a weekend away in a log cabin surrounded by snow. In my fantasy, I'm reading a book (for pleasure!), sipping a warm beverage, and snuggling with Robbie under a cozy blanket.

What travel fantasies have you been dreaming of lately? Is there one season you could live with all year long?
(Photo: LogHome)
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