Thursday, May 24, 2018

Green is the new black

A focus of mine (and Mr. L's by association) is minimizing our footprint on Mother Earth. After one too many Netflix documentaries, I admit that it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Some people call me a hippie, and while I will gladly answer that, I prefer considerate, so let me offer some easy swaps to implement!

Thanks to current media, including the most recent Nat Geo cover, concerns around unnecessary plastic use and disposal is in our face now more than ever. Awareness makes me hippie considerate heart swell.

Plastic wrap/aluminum foil: Can we all just take a step back and acknowledge how petty plastic wrap is? I mean it doesn't even work THAT well on covering bowls and dishes. Also, aluminum foil is actually more wasteful than plastic wrap when taking into consideration the heavy manufacturing footprint that is created from making it. When I took a hard look at our refrigerator, I realized that I was using plastic wrap and aluminum foil for things that could be accomplished using containers or a reusable baggie (next on the list). Being transparent, my biggest offense was wrapping partially used produce (for example, 1/2 onion or unwrapped cheese blocks) or cover bowls/leftovers/marinating meats with wrap/foil. I had to combat this approach with a few different solutions:
1. Bee's Wrap/Abeego Wrap: Full transparency, I struggled with Bee's Wrap when I first received it in my MightyFix subscription (subscription information below). I had a hard time getting it to stick to itself, especially when comparing it to aluminum foil. This does take some practice and patience, but eventually these alternative wraps do wear in and work well. Pro tip, warm the wrap with your hands for better adhesion. Bonus, these wraps do not absorb smells and are really easy to clean - be sure to hand wash them with lukewarm water (not hot, to preserve the wax).
2. Silicone lids: I don't know what rock I have been living under to have just discovered these, but these work REALLY well. My silicone lid was a freebie from a Norwex party that I hosted, but I thoroughly love it. It suctions to bowls really nicely and can be a much quicker solution than warming a wrap. Also, it is super easy to hand wash. Again, mine is Norwex and I can vouch for the quality of it, but there are a lot of silicone lids on the market.
3. Food containers: Ok, you can obviously use any type of container, but I prefer glass (cleans better and I don't have nightmares over chemicals leaching into our leftovers). This may sound obvious, but take an honest peek into your fridge and take inventory of what you are storing in either wrap or baggies when a basic container would have sufficed. I highly recommend keeping your stash well-stocked with several sizes of containers to make your life easier, which will make your less likely to reach for the plastic wrap/aluminum foil.
4. Mason jars: If I can be honest (and slightly shameless), let me just say that I was on the mason jar train long before it became a trend. I think mason jars are SO multi-purpose, whether it is food storage, smoothie transfers, hummus preservation, fermentation vessels, or just to simply use to enjoy a glass of water/kombucha/iced coffee/beer. Mason jars are incredibly easy to find for cheap (Target is NOT the place to get them cheap), so be on the lookout for jars at Goodwill/Savers/Consignment shops. I HIGHLY recommend investing in these plastic lids - they are much easier to clean than the standard metal ones and have been life-changing (not over exaggerating).

Plastic baggies: Ugh, plastic baggies. They seem like a necessary evil and a really hard habit to break, but are incredibly detrimental to the environment. Let's cover both food storage baggies and grocery bags. For the last 8-10 months, I have paid close attention to how we have used plastic bags go and here is what I came up with: human food (duh), transporting food for Penny, TSA travel baggies, poop bags (woof), groceries and produce at the grocery store and here how I combatted it.
1. Reusable baggies: There are A LOT of options on the market for reusable baggies including bumkins, rezipgeneral silicone, and the Cadillac of reusable baggies, the Stasher bag. I mean, reusable baggies are so trendy right now, they are even being sold at Anthropology! I have a variety of bumkins (with a bike design) and 1 prized Stasher. The bumkins work really well, do not absorb flavor or smell, are are easy to clean. I have used our bumkins for food storage, toothbrush protector (uhm, the mouth of my tooth brush canNOT be exposed while we are traveling) and snacks on the go (popcorn, always popcorn). I have used my prized Stasher for several things including as a transparent 3:2:1 TSA liquid baggie. As soon as I am gainfully employed, I plan to increase our Stasher stock aaaaaand they may be on my birthday list too (Leo season is approaching). Reusable baggies can seem like an investment, but just imagine not having to buy plastic baggies EVER again - I see a quick financial ROI and an immediate environmental VOI (value on investment, peeps).
 2. Reusable grocery bags: I won't say much about this because I would be very surprised if every single one of you do not have a stash of these as they seem to be a consistent freebie at various events. I can tell you that I will not go grocery shopping unless I either have my bags or know that the store will have a paper option (which will then be reused our house). I tend to have a stash of bags in my car (they fold up and tuck really nicely in any compartment) as well as a stash under our kitchen sink (also, neatly folded up and easy to access, mainly for Mr. L). This is BY FAR the easiest switch you can make, please do it. My hearts shimmers every time someone thanks me for bringing my bags and yours will too. To touch on produce bags, I just don't use them. I honestly do not see the point in transporting 5 apples or 3 lemons in a plastic bag when I am going to have the wash the produce when I get home anyway. I will say that I have noticed Trader Joe's started stocking compostable produce bags - thank ya, baby Jesus!
3. #2 doggie bags: OOOOOK, this is absolutely a necessary evil, but dogs are worth it. I fell in love with Mr. L all over again when I came home to an awesome metal pooper scooper for the house, so we could stop using baggies to pick up Penny's #2s with baggies. Simple switches, people. However, we do walk Penny outside of our yard and we happen to be responsible dog owners - yes, I have lost a bag on a walk, walked home to get another one and walked back to take care of my dog's business. The bags we buy are Earth Rated, which are made out of 100% recyclable materials including the cardboard core and box. They also offer a 100% plastic-free option made out of vegetable-based materials that can be composted (fun fact: I didn't know they had this option, so we will be switching to these like yesterday).

Straws: I have been shamed for the reusable straws that I use, so if you do too, let's connect and start a support group (#millenials). I am a big fan of liquids from sparkling water to kombucha and green smoothies. A couple years, I was horrified when I realized that I was using a straw for my smoothies almost every morning and I instantly ordered these rubber straws. You have been warned, they are massive, but do not have a rubber taste.

And let's be honest, there are just somethings that you may need to use these items for. For us, it's pre-making breakfast burritos for camping trips to throw on the fire or using plastic baggies to disperse scobies (literally, the only thing I use baggies for!).

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What's your deserve?

I heard this phrase at a recent summit I attended and it has been on my mind endlessly ever since.

Let's just go ahead and clear an elephant in the room, shall we? On April 19th, I was laid off of my job. I haven't been unemployed since I was 14 years old (shout out, Pizza Ranch!). On another note, when I graduated with my masters in December, that marked 3 1/2 years of working full-time and working on my graduate degree in the evenings and on the weekends. Following graduation, I was really struggling with what to do with my newfound free time (outside of working full-time, of course). Aside from watching Friends (not rewatching, but watching for the first time), I spent many evenings walking around our house not sure what to do with my hands. Then I was laid off. Talk about a nosedive.

Over the past 4 weeks, I have cycled through every reasonable emotion (and then some unreasonable ones too): anger, despair, freedom, angst and my favorite, 'why the hell did I even get my masters?!'. 48 hours after being laid off, my husband came home to 5 gallons of paint in our entryway and he was confident that I had cracked.

You see, there is a certain air around telling others you were laid off of work. Let's also address the certain connotation with being laid off (i.e. laziness) and that is just something that my ego will have to digest.

On the other hand, I have heard many things like:
- 'You are so marketable and employable, you'll be fine!'
- 'Being laid off was the best thing that has ever happened to me'
- 'Try to enjoy the time off. You'll be employed in no time and wish you could have the time back'
- 'You have your masters now, companies will be fighting for you'
- 'Don't tell people that you were laid off, just tell them that you are in between jobs'

and let me say that I appreciate and believe it all! I consider myself one of those coachable people, who thoroughly enjoys feedback, so having received an incredible amount of support strikes a deep chord with me.

Friends, here I sit over a month later still unemployed. I am straddling the line between taking advantage of the time off and feeling extremely lost, which brings me back to, 'what is your deserve?'. Currently, this applies to my job search, but I love how it can apply to almost anything in your life! You only get out what you put in. 

I decided to make a list of things in my life that I know I deserve:
o  An incredibly supportive husband, who lets me know that I am worthy of love and respect (employed or not)
A clean, comfortable, yet small house in the city (hello, student loans!)
A healthy and decently functioning body. I say decently because, well, after 8 knee surgeries things are bound to hurt and modifications became a necessity. However, I make an extreme conscious effort to nourish myself and practice lots of self-care, including listening to my body.
1 insanely lovable dog, who can't believe her luck that Mom suddenly has time for endless walks, fetch sessions and cuddles (she also desperately needs a haircut - Penny, not Mom)
2 cats who throw up all around our small house (I knew nothing about owning a cat prior to 2011. Hairballs come with the territory.)
A family who never ceases to check-in with me (even when I am moody) and remind me that I will be OK
Friends who were willing to be patient while I was consumed with work and school, yet always willing to squeeze in the tiniest date whenever possible. I promise I’m trying to make up for it post-graduation.
A job that I like, but not necessarily love. Yes, I have my masters and some experience, but I am still at the beginning of my career. Love is the ultimate goal, but realism here, people.

So friends, what is your deserve? This self-reflection can be empowering and humbling. Be sure to discern with open eyes and a vulnerable heart.


Monday, May 21, 2018

If you don't fall off the wagon regularly, you're not playing a big enough game...

Over 4 years ago, I made a conscious effort to let Life on the Dee List blog softly fade into nonexistent. Why? Well, lots of reasons. For starters, I was newly engaged and starting grad school along with working full-time. Basically, something had to give. Why revive LOTDL? Good question, maybe I should just stop now. Kidding! Well, since I graduated in December, I have newfound free time to try new hobbies, or in this case, pick back up some old ones. Additionally, I have had a few people encourage me to get back to it (full transparency, just a few, more than a couple, but not many). Recently, I held a kombucha-making workshop for our church (big ups, ResMpls!) and after talking about a few of my passions including fermented foods, sustainability and bees, someone suggested that I write a blog. I took it as a sign to give this another go.

I don't consider myself infinitely wise or particularly interesting, but looking back on the conception of this blog, I realized that I enjoy making things more accessible to others - whether that is beginning (or continuing) a healthy venture, trying a new recipe, workout or behavior. I certainly haven't tried it all, but this a space where I can share my tips and tricks that hopefully you find relevant and mildly interesting. If you were a follower from the jump, I hope you like the new design. I was going for something with a holistic hippie vibe, while staying simple. After showing Mr. L the new redesign, he asked if I thought it looked outdated. Jokes on him, I am going for simple and user friendly - I am a bad millenial anyway, so I am staying in my comfort zone on Blogger (think paper datebook and one of THE worst iCal users). Anyway, I consider this a radical improvement from the peacock feathers and all lowercase typing (uhm, what?!).

So, let's reintroduce ourselves, shall we? Since we last coexisted in this space, here is a list of things that happened in my life:
- I got married! I totally out-kicked my coverage with Mr. L. Just kidding, we are perfectly proportioned equivalents in very different ways.
- I graduated with my masters in holistic health studies from St. Catherine University
- I had 4 more knee surgeries, bringing the grand total to 8 knee surgeries. Don't count on a post about this. I plan to let the past be the past on this, but I guess we'll see.
- My husband and I got a dog and we absolutely ADORE her. My current goal is to be making sure she is living her best life. She is a goldendoodle named Penny and please plan to see lots of pictures and updates on her.
- I became an aunt, 3 times (soon to be 4!). Again, plan on lots of updates around my littles. They are my world and I FaceTime them several a week. In all seriousness, being an aunt is absolutely taking priority over becoming a Mom right now. My nieces and nephew deserve all of my attention right now!
- Traveled a lot more! Lots of places both domestic and international including Croatia, Hawaii, Curacao, New York (yes, including Niagara Falls, super anti-climatic), Arizona, Ohio (don't hate) and Colorado.

Here are some pictures over the last 4 years (pictures are sometimes more fun than words, right?!)

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Try and tell me that this face doesn't deserve the world!
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Aunt Dee and Uncle Drew strongly prefer to borrow kids versus having their own!
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P.s. In the last 4 years, I also learned how to fill in my eyebrows. 

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At one point, our house had more than 1 baby animal...
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I never understood the point of a GoPro, until this moment

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One more because I thoroughly love being married to this guy!

Ok, now that the obligatory catch-up post is done, let's get this thing rolling (again)

Friday, April 11, 2014

.:cauliflower pizza:.

per usual, i started this blog post a few weeks ago, but a few things came up that prevented it from getting published (i.e. wedding planning, traveling)....either way, enjoy!

i am going to be completely honest, but as i am typing this healthy pizza recipe, i am eating a piece of greasy pizza from a hole-in-the-wall place here in St. Paul. drew has been busy with school all day and while i made a whole chicken and roasted veggies last night, i am not about to go to grocery shopping when i am gone for work all next week. so, pizza night it is. judge me. (p.s. if you haven't tried Checkerboard pizza, you are seriously missing out!).

ok, switching gears to healthy pizza - here we go!

>> 1 large cauliflower
>> 2 cloves garlic, minced
>> 2 eggs, lightly beaten
>> 4 oz mozzarella cheese (who actually measures out cheese when making pizza?!)
>> small can of pizza sauce (you can skip this or swap it for butter or spaghetti sauce)
>> 1/2 tsp onion powder (i used garlic salt, same diff, right?)
>> couple shakes of basil, oregano, salt and pepper
>> your favorite toppings - we chose sweet italian sausage (cooked via stovetop) mushrooms, tomatoes, feta cheese and more mozzarella cheese

chop cauliflower into chunks (removed most of the big stems) and microwave for 5 minutes to soften - i put the chunks in a pie dish with a little bit of water in the bottom to help steam. cool and put softened cauliflower in food processor or blender until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes - i added some EVOO to help! in medium bowl, stir mashed cauliflower with eggs, cheese and seasonings until well-mixed. spray a baking sheet and spread mixture on sheet, about 1/2 inch thick. bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. i baked the cauliflower crust alone for about 20 minutes and then added the toppings and bake for another 10 minutes (keep in mind, the sausage was already cooked). that's it!

i will be throwing this into the regular recipes because 1. i almost always have cauliflower (is that weird?) and 2. it is actually much easier than i expected! also, drew likes it and seriously, how often does one crave pizza? helpful tip - the crust should only be about 1/2 inch thick. i didn't have the right size pan so the mixture didn't cover my big pan, but was almost overflowing my small pan. of course, i went with the smaller pan and the crust turned out pretty mushy since it was about 1 1/2 inches thick - it still turned out great, we just ended up eating it with forks :)

before oven

after oven
always striving for more,
dee b. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

now that i am engaged....

now that i have been engaged for an entire weekend, i figured i would set some standards, ground rules, for the wedding planning process and beyond. i haven't even STARTED to think about planning a wedding and probably won't until early April because here has been our past few months...

december - searching for a new home and drew had knee surgery
january - bought our first home, closed and moved into our first home, drew's birthday, our anniversary, left for mexico
february - came back from mexico, 2 weeks of traveling along the west coast for work, got engaged the last day of february
march - 1 week at home and 3 weeks on the road to cover health fairs in TX, MA, SC, NJ and AZ

i am literally so tired, it still hasn't hit me that we bought a home and are engaged. all good things, so i can't complain too much, but i am really looking forward to the day that i can just absorb all the awesomeness going on!

anyway, back to my ground rules that i thought of while lying in bed, unable to sleep this weekend....consider it part 1 of vows, things i will NOT do....

my life will not entirely be wedding planning:. friends, i do not expect you to only talk to me about wedding planning, in fact, i may prefer it. i plan to maintain my balanced lifestyle of working, cooking, yoga and oh yea, sleeping! wedding planning will not define me!

tell my single friends 'you're next!' or 'when are you two going to finally take the plunge?!':. i cannot tell you how annoyed i was when i heard that.....for the past 3 years! as i can attest to, everyone is on their own timeline and go at their own speed. just because 'everyone else is doing it' or everyone thinks you've been together forever or that buying a house is for married people does not mean anyone should feel pressured - i know drew and i had a lot of other things to worry about other than getting engaged/married like build a career, a bank account, drink wine, watch Netflix, play Scrabble and workout - you know, lots of really important things. not everyone's end goal is to get married by a certain age, i dig that.

treat my single friends differently:. again, being engaged or planning a wedding will not define me. i will not put it above anyone or anything - my best friend and i have had a weekly date (for the past 7 years), to watch Teen Mom and i sure as hell am not about to change that! i have a lot of friends who are 'single', but they are doing some amazing things, like almost finishing law school or plowing through chiropractic school, about to graduate with their 4-year degree or landed a big job. i am still going to celebrate all of their successes! i also will not create a clique with my friends who are engaged or already married. i will not discriminate.

get offended by the "i am not engaged, or married or having kids, so i am basically doing nothing with my life but drinking a glass of wine or getting drunk" statuses, tweets or memes:. i wasn't into making a big deal about being 'single', but if that's your style rock on! i won't call dr. phil on you for trying to hide your deeply hidden sorrow and daddy-issues - i will cheers you my glass of wine because sometimes, all we need to care about is fricken glass of wine and i love where your head is at!

suddenly define myself as succesful:. my end goal is not to get married or be a housewife, so i did not suddenly become successful because drew sealed the deal. i am not better than anyone else. i have many things to strive to become, i am just getting my career underway and finding my place in this big, bad world. trust me, i know being married is going to be unicorns and butterflies, but not really going to totally cut it for me (cue 'Webbie - I N D E P E N D E N T' song).

create a countdown until i marry my 'best friend':. drew, you are so darn awesome and i am pretty fricken excited to hang out with you every single day of my life for as long as we live, but i will not say the whole 'marry my best friend' thing. i think you are da bomb, but i will spare everyone the mouth throw-up.

crash diet:. if you have seen me eat, you know i am serious about food and will be up until the 'big day'. i will certainly workout and watch what i eat, but if i am watching a spoonful of ice cream go into my mouth, i am not going to stress (p.s. isn't it ironic that stressed out brides crash diet?! i think they should just reach for a big bowl of ice cream and give themselves a brain freeze). side note to my photographer (whoever you are), we need to discuss how i should pose so my arms don't look so large and my shoulders don't look like you tried to photoshop a linebacker.

change my relationship with drew:. as a couple, we have not 'made it', in fact, i think we are far from 'making it'. i know marriage takes work. hell, our relationship before marriage has required work and i do not expect that to change. in the end, i know that the 'work' doesn't seem so bad with him, the payoff is totally worth it. i will not stop respecting or appreciating him. i will still hide post-it notes around our house for him to find and thank him for cleaning the liter or pouring me a glass of wine (do you see a wine theme here?). i will not 'let myself go' or turn into a bridezilla. i will not lose my independence or expect him to lose his. basically, we are going to keep doing our thing, but we'll just make it a little more official. damnit, i just love him so much!

maybe i wrote these rules to help with perspective when i am knee-deep in wedding planning, but after a weekend of being engaged, i realized that not too much has changed. yes, i have a shiny ring on, a wedding to plan, i get to change my last name, i get to quit saying boyfriend, but in the same breath, i still look forward to having my best friend over to paint nails and trash talk Teen Mom. i still rush home to see drew after work or make sure that having dinner together is a priority. i still plan yoga dates with my friends. i guess i realized that if the rest of my life consists of homemade dinners, Netflix, playing Scrabble and working out with my "best friend" than i am one lucky lady.

always striving for more,
dee b.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

i have a fiancé.

hmm....where do i start this post? it seems so surreal to be writing this!!! also, we got engaged about 5 hours ago (but who is counting) and i am already taking time to write this....bear with me, there is a reason for that!!!

SO, the past 2 weeks i have been traveling for work in CA and OR. while i have enjoyed the warmer weather and being able to see new places, i was very ready to get back and spend a week at our new house in MN before spending the last 3 weeks in March traveling to NJ, MA, SC, AZ, and TX, again for work! my flight was scheduled to leave this morning at 7:05 am which meant a 4:45 wake-up to return my rental car and get through security (i know, i am really bad at telling stories. i realize this is the boring part, i'm getting there). of course, there were maintenance issues so we were stuck on the run-way for about 20 minutes before we headed BACK to the gate. after an hour and a half of being stuck on the plane, we were finally cleared for take-off. fast forward 3 hours, i landed in MN, hadn't showered in 2 days, still wearing yesterday's make-up and SO ready to get home. once i turned on my phone, i had a text from drew saying that he made something for me to take along on my next bout of trips - pause - drew has had a few 'surprises' for me the past couple months and they always ended up being something like flowers, a pack of new workout socks or tickets to a play. don't get me wrong, i loved all of them (i wear the socks to the gym all the time), but it was no ring. i even texted my girlfriends about this new surprise and placed a bet that it was another pack of socks. while waiting for him to get home from work, i fell asleep on our couch - holding my laptop with a cat fast asleep on my chest, it was precious. he woke me up and said he wanted to give me my present. in my sleepy haze, i was looking around the kitchen for it and he was like, 'uhm, it's right here on the counter' (it was a notebook). the notebook was actually a scrapbook that he had put together with little trinkets from our 3 years together - our Hamline student IDs (where it all started), receipt from our first date, many tickets stubs from movies we have seen, a scorecard from a mini-golf game, my Hamline graduation tassel (when he met my family for the first time), plane tickets from trips together and much more! i was already tearing up thinking about how thoughtful he was to keep all of these things for the past 3+ years. but still clueless as to what was actually happening (i blame it on the lack of sleep). the last page was a note to me and at the bottom it said, turn around....of course, as i turned around, he was down on one knee with a ring - the PERFECT ring!

i didn't know how i was going to react when and if this moment happened (yes, i did realize it was heading in that direction, we just bought a house together) - there were, what i would like to call, classy tears (but no blubbering) and all i remember telling him is 'i am so happy to be home'. later, i asked him if i actually had said 'yes'...neither of us remember. after realizing what had happened and then remembering how horrible i looked, i called my parents! naturally, they didn't answer. p.s. there should be a guide on 'what to do in the first hour you get engaged'. after my parents didn't answer, i was clueless. when i got ahold of them, my mom put on speaker since her and my dad were driving to dinner. we talked to drew's parents and i sent a few texts. again, i wish i would have had a guide as what to do - do i call? do i text? do i snap chat? i certainly did not want anyone's day to stop on our account. plus, i had just gotten home from being gone all week and we were both spending time on our phones when i was really just wanted to be happy to be home with him, not even mentioning getting ENGAGED!

ok, don't die over how ridiculously romantic this next part is....part of what made the big surprise was i knew that drew had to study for his midterm (which is 8:00-11:00 am on Saturday morning), so since i was still tired and didn't want to shower and being the match-made-in-heaven that we are, we totally agreed to pick up Chipotle to go. on our way home from Chipotle, we stopped by Target so he could get notecards and a printer for studying. after eating Chipotle while watching an episode of Weeds, he is now studying and i am writing this - have i mentioned that we go by our own rules?! we are REALLY looking forward to celebrating our engagement tomorrow, after i get a good night's sleep and he kills his midterm exam.

please notice his mohawk and my chubby, freshman cheeks

i could NEVER find the card on the left - this was the line to call in sick when i worked at UCare, now i know where it has been all this time... 

2 years ago, we went to the MN state fair with his mom and sister, Lizzie  - she ended up winning a MASSIVE gorilla! i actually forgot about this! 
my ROSE GOLD ring - i feel bad that my hands are so incredibly ugly from traveling, my pretty ring looks horribly out of place.... 

holy shit, drew is my fiancé. i have a fiancé.

always striving for more,
dee b.

Friday, February 28, 2014

an honest man:.

first off, i feel kind of bad for not showing some gratitude in my last post - we REALLY received a lot of support from family and friends throughout this entire home-buying process. so, to drew's dad for checking out every house we fell in love with and making sure it wouldn't fall down on us and drew's mom and grandma for helping us clean, to my parents for their advice on negotiating and escrowing to get what we want, to everyone who offered help and well wishes and lastly, our realtor who battled with us until the end - THANK YOU!!! seriously, we are so endlessly grateful and you have helped make this experience.

ok, enough on the home stuff and onto MEXICO!!! naturally, i started this post as soon as we got back, but not having free internet on my recent work trip delayed things a bit. i have been looking forward to this trip since my brother, nic, and his now wife, traci, got engaged last spring. not only was it going to be a vacation (during the WORST month to be in MN), but it was also a celebration of love (corny, i know, hang in there). nic is what we the call the golden child of our family - think diamond studded jeans, shoes that are too expensive to get scuffed and a toiletry bag that costs more than my car payment. this is not to say that he hasn't earned every single thing he has because he is also the oldest and most career-driven child of the family. career-wise, nic has ALWAYS had tunnel vision of where he wants to go, who wants to be and is unapologetic if you couldn't keep up. secretly, we (mainly, my mom and i) were nervous that he would never slow down enough to find a sidekick, someone worth cutting his 12+ hour days just a little bit shorter. enter traci - a petite, genuinely sweet southern belle. we were basically all blown away and placing bets at how long she would last with nic (kidding....kinda). fast forward 6 years, 4 of which were long distance (either Charlotte to Cleveland or Cleveland to LA), to their wedding day - yea, i guess you could say she's that ride or die material.

to nic and traci: you truly are a beautiful couple - inside and out! i cannot tell you how excited i am for you to start this new journey together and LIVE IN THE SAME CITY! you have stood by each other's side through job changes, cross-country moves, several frequent flyer miles, and separate holidays - you are each other's biggest fans and i have faith that you will make it through anything! also, i cannot wait to come see you guys at the end of March :)

onto pictures - beware there are a lot!!!
the bride getting beautified and the mother-of-the bride taking it all in :)
how gorgeous does my new sister look?! please note, she was not wearing heels - i felt like Hulk. 

selfie with my date

seriously, the venue was unbelievable - that is the ocean, FYI

still the ocean and still, their WEDDING VENUE!

ok, had to share this one - they had a group of tourists (who may have been of asian descent) following them with cameras thinking they were celebrities. yes, they looked THAT good!

mr. and mrs barlage - told you they looked good (babies, cough, cough)
uhm, this was their reception - that was the bar area. notice EVERYONE at the bar...

first dance *swoon*

my date again, *swoon*

my dad who can beat ANYONE up! i look awkward, but i am pretty sure my feet were bleeding at this point...

precious moments captured between the groom and his loving parents

again, the reception - yes, it was a cave turned massive tiki hit and yes, that is river running around it. any questions? 

a (professional) painter doing a live painting of their reception - again, A-list celebrities here, people

The rest of these pictures are post-wedding 
dang, my parents are GOOOOOOOD looking!
my brother, who is married. yes, my biceps are bigger than his and yes, i can beat him up... 

me and 'justin bieber' hanging out at the market - drew was thrilled to pay $5 for this picture

date night!

i may have made a friend during date night and i may have shared my top sirloin with him

the OCEAN! 

another date night hibachi-style

loading up on espresso before heading to the airport :(

my main squeeze, i really need to work on a pose that doesn't make my arm look large and in charge

there you have it! traci and nic will be celebrating their 1-month of marriage tomorrow and i finally have this post done and already wishing we could rewind and do it one more time...

always striving for more, 
dee b.

**i realize that some of you may have been expecting a little bit different post, but stay tuned.... :)