Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30x30 Wrap-Up

Since we are going on 2 weeks since I crossed over into thirty-dom, I thought I should dedicate one (super long) post to my Thirty Things To Do Before I'm Thirty list.

Need a refresher? Start here. I'll wait.

I think the easiest thing for me to do is go line by line before I wrap it all up. Settle in, kids. Let's do this!

1. Start a bucket list. - Click the link to read my bucket list so far!

2. Start making concrete plans for future things that I can't talk about right now. - Just read the last paragraph. :) Nothing is set in stone yet, but it's something we WILL achieve in due time.

3. Chase a storm. - This one came to fruition, kind of, ON my birthday. Storms rolled in mid-afternoon and Ryan & I drove directly into them. But, I've also moved this item onto my Bucket List, because I'd like to do it more on purpose next time. 
It was raining so hard in the "eye" of the storm that you couldn't see more than 15-20 feet in front of you.

4. Visit JFK Memorial Plaza - I'm sad to say, I didn't get this one done. Yet. But more on that in a moment*...

5. Learn more about wine. Besides "it tastes good". - This one was fun, haha. We looked into a few local winery tours, but couldn't find anything that worked with our time frame and budget. So instead, we decided to do some of our own research and then we headed to Trader Joe's (you can't beat their prices) to pick up a few bottles we wanted to try. Each of the four we chose had decent descriptions, but when we arrived home and started cracking into the bottles, we looked them each up online to read more about them, where the grapes were grown and the process behind making each one.
My favorite was the Albero. I am definitely a light, sweet-ish white wine gal. Especially if its sparkling.

6. Weigh less on my 30th birthday than I did on my 29th. - I got to check this one off my list pretty early on. In March, to be exact. I'm happy to report that I currently weigh less than I did on my *28th* birthday too. <BIG HAPPY FACE HERE>

7. Learn a new skill.- Click the link to read more!

8. Go to one concert a month.- Okay so here's the deal. I consider this one achieved even though I didn't get to any concerts in March or May. BUT, I saw SIX shows over the last six months (three of which featured multiple bands) so, I consider that a WIN. I saw The Punch Brothers in January, Imagine Dragons in February, The Lumineers AND Edgefest Music Fest in April, Summer Cut Music Fest in June and Summerland Guitar Fest in July.

9. Record music with Ryan.- Still working on this one*. I really put this one off, actually. Mostly because I'm scared. It's been a long time since I've done any singing publicly. And Ryan doesn't really love playing his instruments in front of people (even though he is incredibly talented). We are quite a pair. BUT, we are going to do this.

10. Create a coffee table book with photos I've taken in Instagram. - In the works RIGHT NOW*. I wanted to wait until after my 30th birthday so I could include those pictures too.

11. Do one Pinterest craft a month.- I did about 6-7 Pinterest crafts total, but it wasn't "one a month". Sort of like the concerts situation, I still consider it done even though half of them were done in one weekend for a good friend's baby shower.

12. Read three books. - Oops. Apparently I don't make enough time for this. I still have a stack of unread books*...

13. Take a yoga class.- I feel like I have a lot of "not done yet" in a row here. I WILL try Yoga*. But I'm not ready.

14. Step out of my fashion comfort zone.- I DID THIS! I really took this one seriously. Partially because with my weight gain, I lost a lot of confidence so I would hide under my clothes and even after losing almost 40lbs so far, I was STILL hiding under my clothes. Partially because I got tired of hearing Ryan (lovingly) make fun of me dressing like a "grandma" aka all covered up. Mostly because I realized that I still COULD dress fun, or revealing, or however I wanted. I wore clothes that made me feel uncomfortable and/or made me stand out, but most of the time I ended up feeling okay wearing them. I even ordered a pair of PINK pants this week! (I wear black pants or dark jeans. Period.) But nothing took me out of my comfort zone like the dress I wore to a couple of weddings recently. I've had it since I got married but it hadn't fit in YEARS. I wore it and I felt TOTALLY out of my element and COMPLETELY self-conscious, but guess what? I survived it. I even got a few compliments along the way. :) (Special props go to my husband for teasing me into cuter clothes, and to my BFF Kim for making me believe that I could actually pull it all off.)
The Scary Dress

15. Take a completely spontaneous day/weekend trip. - In the spring, we took a trip to Colorado and a trip to Saint Louis. Both were planned less than 2 weeks before leaving. That's about as spontaneous as I get. ;)

16. Learn how to grow something edible.- I tried. I really did. We planted some chives...and they didn't grow. It was a tough defeat for both of us. Someday, we will have a yard. And in that yard, we WILL learn to grow things. I just don't think apartment living is conducive for farming, unless you can convert your patio into a green house. Which we cannot.

17. Donate to 3 organizations I love.- I have donated to two of three. The other will get their donation SOON. Like as soon as I decide who to donate to. ;) I am completely torn between the ASPCA and Project Limelight. Any opinions? As far as the organizations I've already given to, I have donated to the local public radio station we listen to the most, KXT and to Save The Arctic which helps protect the habitat of my favorite animal, the Polar Bear, specifically from oil drilling.

18. Conquer something difficult in the kitchen - like souffle or crepes.- This one is still pending*...I have decided to try souffle. As soon as I get my wits about me.

19. Put an unnatural color in my hair.- I DID color my hair before my birthday buuut, it wasn't unnatural. I had also planned to chalk my hair for my birthday party, but I never got around to it. I still might do this, just for fun, though*.

20. Say "YES" to everything for an entire day.- Click the link to read more!

21. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet.- Click the link to read more!

22. Ask my parents for each of their 5 favorite movies. Watch all 10.- I have worked my way through exactly half of them, so far. I have found its harder than I thought to find copies of some of my Dad's picks. He loves his old movies! How about a breakdown within a breakdown? 
                           Mom's Picks:
                           -To Kill A Mocking Bird
                           -Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone
                           -Its a Wonderful Life
                           -Last of the Mohicans

                           Dad's Picks:
                           -Treasure of Sierra Madre
                           -Adventures of Robin Hood
                           -Usual Suspects
                           -Philadelphia Story
                           -Shawshank Redemption

23. Buy a record that came out the year I was born.- Click the link to read more!

24. Give up sodas for an entire month.- Click the link to read more!

25. Spend more time exploring Denton.- Click the link to read more!

26. Try two new recipes a month.- I most definitely did this. I just didn't blog about many of them. But, Ryan is my witness. It happened, mostly successfully!

27. Once a week (or so?), write a different friend to tell them how I truly feel about them.- I am finishing up my last few letters. They will be in the mail by the end of the week. And you know what? It felt really, really good to just allow myself to be mushy and open and tell my girlfriends exactly how I feel.

28. Get a tattoo.    Maybe. - Yeah...I changed my mind about this one. I've always loved tattoos. Always. I think they are beautiful and interesting and inspiring and telling. I've almost gotten one about 10 times. But I never do. And after doing some serious soul searching, I realized there is a reason for that. As much as I love looking at other people's ink, I have decided that its just not ME. 

29. Participate in 5 truly random acts of kindness. - I try to do lots of little random acts of kindness every day. I compliment people often (genuinely, of course), I open doors, I let people in in traffic, I smile at strangers. I even gave a homeless man my coat once, years ago (it was an over-sized, gender neutral Dallas Cowboys jacket, for the record. I didn't make some poor guy wear a pink petticoat or anything.) But for this list, I wanted them to be more substantial than that. Let me tell you where the hiccup was in this item. We don't have tons of extra income, so I wanted to try and make these random acts about actual ACTS - not large, strictly monetary "handouts". I've followed through with THREE acts so far: Leaving a stack of quarters in front of a soda machine, "paying it forward" in the Starbucks drive-thru and leaving a Free Movie Ticket voucher in the lobby of a movie theater. I really find joy in this, so I will undoubtedly complete the two I have left*, and more I hope!  
The free movie ticket voucher I left on a bench. We saw a movie and when we came back out, it was gone. :)

30. Make a list of everything (EVERYTHING) I want to accomplish in my life.- This will be an ever-growing list but what I have written so far, I carry with me in my wallet.

*So, here is the thing. I started off strong. Then I got a little lax and busy. Then I got re-motivated and knocked a lot off in the last 2 months. There are several items still in progress or that still need to be done - and I WILL be doing every single one of them before the end of the year. Hopefully sooner than that, actually. I also learned (and have advised several friends recently) to give yourself a full year for this list. I only gave myself 6 months.

That being said, I still consider this a complete success. I had an absolute blast, learned a lot about myself, did things I otherwise might not have done and it helped me really enjoy the last six months in my 20s. I HIGHLY recommend this to everyone. Even if you've already hit 30, or even if you're still years away from it.

Make a list. Actually do them. Trust me, it will be awesome. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So, I Turned 30

It happened.

I turned 30.

The world didn't stop turning. I didn't wake up a different person. It wasn't so bad.

The night before, I allowed myself to have a moment. I reflected on my 20s. They were a roller coaster. I experienced some of the greatest JOYS and HEARTACHES of my life within that decade. And as I glanced at the clock at 7:30pm, I realized that I had only a few hours left before that chapter of my life was over. I felt sad and excited at the same time. Ryan & I stayed up until midnight so that I could "cross into my 30s" holding his hand. I was almost afraid it was going to hurt or something. At 12:01, Ryan squeezed my hand and wished me a happy birthday and I drifted off to sleep with tears in my eyes.

When I woke up the next morning, my birthday, all that sad anticipation was gone. I was happy and excited! My birthday was on a Friday, so I had taken the day off to spend with my Mom before I celebrated with my friends. We had an awesome day together - having lunch, getting pampered (manis and pedis) then doing a little shopping. Then I headed home to start getting ready for my party.

It's been a LONG time since I've had an actual birthday party. It just didn't feel necessary for all the random years of my 20s. But it had always been a dream of mine to rent out the local roller skating rink that I went to growing up for my 30th. Doing something that is so closely associated with childhood just really appealed to me. And because I was going to relive an activity from the 90s, we decided to make it a 90s theme. It just seemed fitting. I made a playlist with all of my favorite 90s songs and planned 90s "costumes". I was seriously OVER THE MOON when almost all of my friends showed up in 90s attire, too.

"Happy Rachel Birthday". Why not!

Ready to hit the rink.

My little younger brother & I

The BEAUTIFUL and delicious cake my friend Dixie made for me!

Almost all of the party attendees. I love you all and am SO very glad you were there to celebrate with me.
I'm lucky to be surrounded, loved and supported by these amazing people.

It was truly the perfect night. One of the best of my life, in fact. My only regret was that the rink had a capacity limit and I couldn't invite everyone I know, haha!

I'm starting to get excited that what people say is true - the 30s are the BEST. :)

Coming soon...a re-cap of my 30x30 list!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Most Difficult Thing In Life Is To Know Yourself

Recently, my good friend Shell blogged about the importance of getting to know ourselves. I feel like I know myself pretty well, since I tend to live inside my own head a lot, but as I was reading through her questions to herself, I found myself really having to think about how I would answer some of them. So I decided to take the time to take her survey and get to know myself a little better - and sharing it on my blog so YOU can get to know me a little better too! It was funny, really. Some of these answers have never changed, and others seem to change daily. It was fun and self- educational, haha!

*My Favorites (which are ever-changing), RIGHT THIS SECOND:

Color: Green. Always green. Any shade.
Drink: Sparkling ICE (that’s the brand) Sparkling Water.
Food: Mexican – I think I could survive on fajitas and guacamole!  
Place: Colorado.
Dream Travel Destinations:  Sweden (and really all of Europe), Australia
Book/Currently Reading: I’ve started like 4 books in the last 6 months. I haven't finished a single one. I’m obviously very committed to them.
Male Musician: Matt Corby
Female Musician: Patty Griffin
Band: Alt-J, The Oh Hellos, The Neighbourhood
Hobby: Music (listening, watching live, making), Swimming, Dreaming (day and night), Watching movies
Nail Color: Gum Drop by Orly, Sally Hansen Lacey Lilac
Morning or Night: Night!
Movie: This Is The End, Pitch Perfect
Male Actor: Tom Hardy and Charlie Hunnam
Female Actor: Anna Kendrick and Emma Stone
Sign: Cancer (Fits like a glove.)
Guilty Pleasure: TV, Dr. Pepper
Favorite Flower: Roses and Peonies
Dream Car: Project/Old: VW Microbus, VW Karmann Ghia

Practical/New:  Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Good Habits: I drink a lot of water, I eat fairly healthy, I express my feelings
Bad Habits: I'm addicted to my cell phone (especially Instagram), I'm incredibly self-critical, I cannot break up with sweets, I am TERRIBLY indecisive. (I have to stop listing things or this will go on for days. Hence the whole "self-critical" thing...)
Dream House Style: A mix of mountain rustic (lots of wood and stone) and contemporary-traditional (dark woods, clean lines, warm and inviting)
Move or Stay Put: MOVE!!!!!  
Need to make more time for: Exercise!!!!!!!
Currently Working on: Myself - physically and mentally, Big Picture plans for the future, not comparing myself to others so much.

Ask yourself these questions...see which ones are easy to answer and which ones take a little more thought. It was eye-opening for me! :)

"The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself." - Thales

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Weekend Full of Check Marks

As I mentioned in the post below, realizing that my 30th birthday is now only weeks away re-lit the 30x30 fire. Over the weekend, I was able to cross FOUR items off of my list! 

#20 - Say YES to everything for an entire day
When I first added this item, I made the immediate decision that I would not tell ANYONE what day I said YES to everything. (Can't have people taking advantage, you know? ;) ) And I stuck to that! On Friday, I said YES to every (reasonable) question I was asked. Every favor someone called for. Every choice made. I was 100% agreeable. And it left me in such a good mood, that I carried my "agreeable" attitude on throughout the weekend. I might start doing this more often. No joke, I felt really happy at the end of the day!

#21 - Learn how to fold a fitted sheet
When my Mom saw my list, her very first comment was "I know I taught you how to do that!" Well, she probably did when I was much younger...but I don't remember it and I've never successfully done it.

Until this weekend, that is.

After washing our sheets, I got out the laptop and took to YouTube. I dragged Ryan into the bedroom and tried to fold our fitted sheet with the first video. Buuuut, it didn't work out so well. We were getting so confused about which corner should fold into which corner.

After our first attempt failed, I decided the only logical thing to do was to ask Martha Stewart.

Okay, I didn't ACTUALLY ask her...but enough people did that she had a segment on her show about it! So, again, YouTube came to the rescue. We watched it twice, then when we started it over for the third time, we followed along with them...and the most amazing thing happened! The fitted sheet ended up FOLDED! It wasn't perfect, but it was executed properly. And that counts for something, right?!

Cooper had to see what the fuss was all about.
But, even with this newly acquired skill, I may just take Martha's last bit of advice and "take it out of the dryer and put it right back on the bed". ;)

#23 - Buy a record that came out the year I was born
This was easily one of my favorite items on the list...and as I started to hunt for a record that was released in 1983, I knew it couldn't be just any record. I wanted it to have some kind of significance. I took to the internet and narrowed it down to a handful of records from 1983 that I'd love to own before it hit me. Soon, I became obsessed with finding one record in particular.

The Police.

My parent's listened to a lot of The Police when I was a kid, and I have very vivid memories of begging my Dad to play "Don't Stand So Close To Me" over and over. And I knew that the #1 song the week I was born was "Every Breath You Take", so the hunt was on for Synchronicity. First, I asked my brother to check his collection. (Somehow he ended up with ALL of my parents records. We are talking HUNDREDS, y'all.) And, as these things often go for me, he has every single one of their albums except for the one I needed. I checked Half Price Books and called Good Records in Dallas. No luck. So then, I put it on the back burner...until Saturday. Upon our second trip to Denton over the weekend (more on that in a moment), we decided to check Recycled, and there it was! One lonely copy of this 1983 gem - and the cherry on top? It was $5. We scooped it right up and as soon as we got home later that night, it went directly onto the turntable while we made dinner.

#25 - Spend more time exploring Denton
I have lived in Texas my entire life. Its not my favorite state, overall. (I know, so blasphemous for a Native Texan to utter those words.) There are really only a few places in Texas that I really love and one of those places is Denton.

We spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday afternoon/evening in Denton over the weekend. Just walking or driving around, popping into a few places along the way.

On Friday night, we tried a new restaurant - Rooster's Roadhouse. It might be our new favorite burger joint. (See what happens when we explore?! We find "new favorites"!)

While walking down one of the Denton streets (Locust, I believe), we stopped to admire a mural that had been there for YEARS...but I'd never noticed it before.

Then we stopped into one of my favorite places in Denton. No, technically that is not exploring Denton, but it was necessary to complete # 23 on my list. 

I could spend an entire day looking a records. Easily. 

We poked around the town a bit more and after we had had our fill of "exploring", we made one last stop at the famous Beth Marie's for a sundae. Okay, so, I've been here a dozen times at least, but it was my Denton trip and I do what I want. ;)

Even though I have officially checked this item off my list, Ryan & I both decided that this challenge would be an on-going one. Especially if we end every trip with Beth Marie's (or Yogurt Fusion)!