Dear 2012,


Dear 2012,

You will be forever remembered as one of the most eventful, challenging, transformative, and most of all, powerful years I've ever had in my entire 28 years of existence.

I can still remember the vivid details of a conversation I had with a girlfriend on 12.31.11. "Just you watch, 2012 is going to be huge. I feel it in me. This is going to be a different year, I just know it in my heart", is what I told my friend while anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 12:00am.

2012 was THE year that I really came into my own as a strong, young and powerful woman. The things I have been wanting to do...no longer remained fun conversation topics with friends but rather, very real gameplans that came into fruition before my very eyes - - as a result of me believing in myself, trusting the unknown future, and eliminating all sources that may pull me down from reaching the top.

I had no idea what I was capable of until this year. Until now.

To reflect:

January 3, 2012 - The day I started my travels. Departed Phoenix, AZ and arrived in Paris, France without a return ticket home. Although my luggage was delayed a few days while I was couchsurfing with a stranger - - I stayed strong and continued my journey forward.

February 2012 - Even after getting detained in Manchester, England for a few days and been denied access to the country, I devised a back up plan and made my way to Southeast Asia.

March 2012 - Returned to Europe and celebrated International Women's Day in the cold of Amsterdam, couchsurfing with a previous host that introduced Japanese Buddhism to me. Also explored the beauty of Barcelona, Spain before heading back to France. Found my passion in graphic/web design from blogging!

April 2012 - On April 5th, the love of my life arrived in Paris, France and we spent a whole week together split between Paris and Rome. We did so many wonderful things together - - placed a "love lock" on the Pont Neuf bridge, opera singer sang to us in front of the Eiffel tower, explored the historic sites of Rome, and overall, had the most magical time. Sigh.

May 2012 - Stayed in Paris, France and hung out with my mothers' old family friends - - sat in the local cafes overlooking the Seine while planning out my blog posts and drinking espresso. Also returned back to Phoenix, AZ and was warmly greeted by my beau with a huge poster sign!

June 2012 - Got an article published in Native Foreigner's site! Spent quality time with my boyfriend's little girl and started a beautiful relationship with her.

July 2012 - On the hunt for a full-time job and getting back into shape. Joined the gym - hoorah!

August 2012 - Scored a full-time position at an amazing school and started saving up! Contemplating if I should return to school for graphic or web design...hmmm....

September 2012- Had a beautiful birthday, still getting adjusted to working full-time again and saving up money.

October 2012- Catwoman as Halloween with my batman family (he was batman, Baby Girl was batgirl), and contined excelling at my current job.

November 2012- Started the Insanity program (in month 2 now!), and had a splendid Thanksgiving with loved ones.

December 2012- An epic Christmas with my parents and my own family at home, gave a puppy to my parents for Christmas and spread a lot of joy all around. First time doing professional photos for our family holiday cards! Bought a new laptop that is reliable and capable for school (my netbook from my travels is pretty much dead) and just on Sunday, purchased a new car!

So, in a nutshell, 2012, I love you, and thank you for everything. You've taught me that the saying 'Anything is possible' isn't bullshit and is, in fact, as true as can be. I've learned to overcome my fears and transform it into motivation. Gosh, I fell in love with soulmate, traveled around the world, found my passion, and now have a family of my own all in one year. Needless to say, 2012, I'll never forget you and am looking forward to taking all the wisdom I have gained from this past year and amplifying it to the next level for 2013.




Thank you Danielle, for providing the original inspiration for this post.


Our Very Merry Christmas Week

Is it already the last weekend of 2012? Where did the time go?

I'm not ready to let go of Christmas quite yet. I know, I know - - it was four days ago, but I'm still buzzing off of this whole week.
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And quite frankly, I still think it's Christmas. Maybe it's downright denial but man...it was one of the best Christmases I've ever had.
Photobucket Filled with special homemade holiday breakfasts; banana chocolate chip french toast with polish sausage and scrambled eggs. Sweet and salty, can't beat that!
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Going out to one of our favorite breakfast joints called...the Breakfast Joint, while the lovely Baby Girl made Play Doh Strawberries. Adorable.
PhotobucketHaving a BLAST opening up our gifts on Christmas Day followed by hot cocoas while watching Lorax. What an amazing movie!
Photobucket The most intricate Buche Noel Christmas Cake I've seen yet. A trumpet AND a green present on it! My parents have this cake every year during this time. Grateful for the cake leftovers that's still in the fridge.
Photobucket Even more grateful for the Hello Kitty ball and gingerbread Hello Kitty. Great pillows too!
Photobucket New Nikes!!! (and a new puppy for my parents!)
Photobucket I still can't believe I'm actually getting results from only 1 month of the Insanity program...So proud!!!
PhotobucketSuper cool, super fly.
Photobucket Taking a night stroll to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore and admiring all of the beautiful lights along the way.
Photobucket About to enjoy some T.G.I. Friday's on Christmas Eve with my family. I still can't believe my parents brought the puppy to the restaurant...I'm just happy this puppy has brought so much joy into their lives already!

I'm just so grateful I was able to take almost a full week off to create wonderful memories with my sweethearts. This year's holiday season was extra special for a number of reasons.

It was our first Christmas altogether as a family of three. If only I could just bottle up each and every one of Baby Girls' reactions from opening up her gifts, that would be a gift in itself! And I'm so happy how lovely our holiday family cards turned out too!

Since the death of our last few dogs over a year ago, my parents haven't been the same since. Although it was quite the risk to surprise them with a new puppy, their reactions was everything I could ever ask for and more. Just seeing how much my parent's faces light up when they tell me stories about that sweet basset hound, warms my heart every single time.

I hope your holidays have been fantastic and don't forget to savor these last few days before 2013 approaches. It's bittersweet that 2012 is ending so soon but I'm also excited for the new year to come. Thank you so much for letting me share my holidays with you all!


Another Day at Home


I'm in love with each and every second of my days. As Gretchen Rubin from the Happiness Project would say, "The days are long but the years are short". After reading her latest book Happier at Home, this line continues to permeate my days and nights. Although I am truly grateful for each moment I am alive - - I feel time still flies by so quickly.

I have TONS of fun holiday photos to edit through and can't wait to share it all with you. The holiday spirit continues to linger in the air at the house. I still can't believe I woke up thinking I had work today and if I hadn't texted my boss - - I would've been that overly committed new worker that doesn't know how to take a break. So yes, the saga continues as the day has been filled with jamba juice, shopping, decadent brunches, and precious quality time.

How did you spend your 86,400 seconds so far? I'd love to hear how you spent your holidays!


A special surprise

Wherever, whomever, whenever - - I hope that everyone is having a joyous time. Words can't express how thankful I am for this amazing holiday season. I can't seem to get enough of 2012. Can you believe it's coming to an end in just several days? I want to hold onto as many moments as possible. I've been doing my best to capture some of the most precious new memories that were created over the weekend. Below is just a mere snippet of my holiday weekend:

Photobucket Baby girl taking the puppy out. (A special surprise for my parents - - a new puppy!) Photobucket
The look on my mother's face after seeing the puppy for the first time = priceless. Photobucket Chocolate cake...always priceless.
Photobucket Basset hound kisses! Photobucket My joyous father. Another Christmas gift in itself! Photobucket Everyone just loved Nikki Minaj (the basset hound pup!)
Photobucket Who needs a crate when you've got a Prada bag fit for a puppy?

No matter what - Weekend Links

I'm at work right now and there's a lot of talk about the world ending and I'm sure you're out there experiencing the same flurry. Planets aligning, temperature changes, the Earth exploding suddenly...well you know what?

No matter what happens to us, I'm going to be  How can you not when one comes across something as beautiful as this sunset? I was just pumping gas and then it seemed like a rainbow had just exploded into the sky.

No matter what happens to this lovely world of ours, here are some fun links to check out (because I know the world will keep spinning and you'll need something fun to read ;) )

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I still debate whether or not natural skin products work better or not. Have you tried this before? 

Look at all of these beauties inspires me so much!

Quit talking about your dreams and start doing something it. An inspirational read!  

The future looks bright, indeed.  

An entertaining blog post to read titled "The Mayans were laughing"

One of my favorite blog posts about Hope and Not Giving Up.


Have a beautiful holiday weekend, everyone! (If you're still convinced the world is going to end soon, then live as if it's your last day and quit complaining about - - just my two cents for ya! ;) )




Capture the Moment!

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Here's a sneak peek photo of first time doing fancy family pictures altogether. I'll be honest, I remember feeling a little nervous if I wasn't posing right or making funny faces at the wrong time during the shoot. But then I realized, 'Wow, how vain is that - - just worrying about how I look!? Geez...' It's not about that. At all. I was reminded that it's about the bigger picture. Years from now, I'm not going to be thinking about how my hair looked during that photo shoot or my dress - - I'm going to be thinking about how much fun we all had together that day and all the fried chicken we consumed later on that evening. When they wrote, "We <3 Cathy" on the green chalkboard inside the country western restaurant. When the stars came out to say hello because in that particular town, the city lights were more scarce. My boyfriend and I were discussing over dinner last night about the things that truly matter which are intangible - - our health, our love, the relationships, the memories. So the next time you find yourself in a little bit of a funk or in a bad mood, please don't allow that bad mood to overshadow your blessings. Practice gratitude every other day, and then everyday, and then every hour - so that, finally, gratitude becomes you. Life's too short. Don't let the moments slip by without giving it the appreciation it deserves.

Little things I'm Grateful For

This was what my past weekend looked like.

A dry martini with scallops, cold + rainy, plenty of hot tea, an Arizona Christmas, and lots of quality time with the people I love.

I can't tell you how grateful I am to be here right now, typing this up, breathing, and feeling safe at home. My heart still breaks for the children in Connecticut. We all have to be strong for them - - my thoughts & prayers go out to the affected families.


Many, many clouds in the sky where we ate breakfast. Photobucket
Love the sunglasses but love that woman behind me more. Photobucket
Arizona Christmas. Photobucket
A mug I gave to him last Christmas. I threw it away because of that chip. I miss it. Photobucket Basset literature. Photobucket
Scallops and martini with my love. Photobucket From the previous weekend, written by my two loves at the Fried Chicken restaurant. Photobucket Right outside one of our favorite restaurants. Scarf buddies! Photobucket


About a Year Ago + Weekend Links


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Est. 12-16-2011

Ever have one of those random (weekday) nights where you stay up way too late as a result of brain activity overload? I just couldn't stop teaching myself how to create a new blog header (her tutorial was super easy) and happily ended up with two not-too-shabby creations I'm quite proud of. Meanwhile, my boyfriend is in bed - - alone - - probably wondering why I'm so Obsessed with blogging + graphic arts and not cuddling up with him while it's pouring rain outside.

What he doesn't know is how much reflecting I've been doing while staying up in the wee hours, pinning pretty pictures + finding inspiration to create + browsing my fave blogs + sipping on hot tea + simply in awe..

In awe of how much 1 year of blessings can do to a person. 

That picture above? Taken almost exactly a year ago; it was the very first time we said I love you to one another and one of the most emotional times I've ever experienced. Why? Two weeks after that photo was taken, I boarded the plane from Phoenix, Az to Paris, France - - one way - - to travel the world. I still can't believe that I created this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for myself as well as found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. Like I said, I'm still in awe.

Fast forward to this current moment; we're still madly in love, so proud of our family of three, grateful that I have traveled to 11 countries within 5 months, have given up smoking cigarettes for good, and almost done with the first month of the Insanity workout. It just feels so good to reflect these days.

Oh, and to top that all off. I have the day off from work. Wish I can tell you what I'm going to be doing but it's a surprise. More on that later. If you have made it this far in my post, thank you so much for letting me engage you. I'll quit rambling now and onto some fun links:

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Um, really? Why not just do a bunch of squats and lunges instead?

The lady who is a male model. Crazy!

I want this classy number.

This is so my type of skirt!

Why can't this actually be healthy for you? Darn.

Have you checked out this positive blog yet?



These make me a Happy Woman.

Eating clean.
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This is the special, Special K Smart Start cereal. Full flavor without sacrificing nutrition = win/win situation for a foodie/health-conscious eater. These past 3 weeks doing the Insanity workout combined with healthy eating has been...nothing but great! Have I craved unhealthy foods like fried chicken + waffles with extra syrup or a decadent slice of chocolate cake? Of course! Keep reading to find out what keeps me motivated to continue eating right.

Best tip: Stock your fridge and pantry with TONS of healthy foods so that you have NO excuses.

Aaaannnnddd, the results I'm already getting is, of course, SUPER motivating.

A "before" abdomen area picture taken on November 18th.
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Apologies for the low quality! This was taken from my camera phone.

A little over 3 weeks later is my "after" abdomen area picture taken just yesterday.
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I hope it's not just me that's noticing results but I really do think my stomach is getting leaner. Can't wait to see more results as I progress into month 2!

Ever been caught in a moment and just wish you can strike a deal with the clock so time can slow down...even for just a tad? As of late, I find myself in a state of constant joy and at times, bittersweet happiness. Does that even make sense? I never want to forget the times Daniel, myself, and Baby Girl play with her lego girls - - or when she looks up at me and tells me she really likes riding in my truck because it's slow. And the time when she says "I love my daddy and my Cathy sooooo much!" I want those memories in my brain forever, please!
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I'm also grateful for...
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The awesome people I get to work with five days out of the week. Their jokes, randomness, and kindness - - is just a few of the many things that keep me excited about coming back to work each day. Some things I learned from work yesterday? Did you know...

-If you put a raisin in a glass of fresh champagne, it will continue to bounce all the way up and down!

-Buttons are always sewn on the left for women and always on the right for men. Why is that?

-David Bowie has a spider named after himself.

You know what else makes me smile?
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Coming across my idea of a perfect wedding dress in a bridal magazine. Isn't it gorgeous?!?

What are some things that are making you smile lately? Don't forget to savor the moments before they turn into distant memories. I'm constantly trying to remind myself to do that! It's almost Friday and can't wait. More details to come later :)


Fried chicken + Hot Cocoa

I cheated on Sunday. 

At first, I was hesitant because I didn't want one bout of cheating to pull me into its ugly demise. However, I realized I've been so good that I deserve a moment (it turned out to be more than one moment on Sunday night) of pure indulgence and ecstasy.

Oh hello, perfectly fried chicken. Welcome to my hungry belly.

A big smile before eating my cheat meal for the week. I like this picture because it looks like it's just me and the horsey. 
Why does my flash have to blind everyone? Daniel and Baby Girl on the other side of the table.
We went to an upscale country western restaurant up North called Horney Toad and had the best BBQ wings and fried chicken...ever! Dinner was followed by a fresh mug of hot cocoa and marshmallows (Working hard on those Christmas stockings allows for a small mug of something sweet, yes?)

I have a feeling I'm going to be working out extra hard to drink this every night.
Was all that worth it, you might ask? Yes. A thousand times YES!

Since I've started this Insanity workout, I've been pretty darn good with my diet. I'm talking hard boiled eggs, egg whites, fresh veggies, brown rice, fruits, and lean meat. Just started Week 3 yesterday and already back on track from that fried chicken (low fat berry smoothies for breakfast and lean fish + sweet potatoes for lunch)!

What did you all do over this past weekend? Did you guys bundle up to keep warm? On Sunday night, temperatures are finally dropping in Arizona so that means more serious business on warm clothing...cardigans aren't going to cut it anymore.

We had baby girl this weekend! It's all about sipping on Berry Smoothies while watching Home Alone (my favorite!), pics with Santa, horse & carriage ride, getting our nails did, and ending the weekend with mugs of
hot cocoa (picture above).





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I can't forget some randoms too...

  I love this man:

Photobucket  And I love my nails, smudged and all:
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In other words, a memorable holiday weekend. What were some of your favorite things from your weekend? Do you prefer to go out for the festivities or stay in watching Christmas movies?


So, why is it okay to cheat on your diet once in awhile? Easy. So you don't burn out and give up altogether! We need rewards and constant 'what's in it for me' reminders. Yes, results are motivating alone but if you're a food fan like me, it's tough when I don't have a treat to look forward to. The important thing to remember is to keep your diet and workout plans AFTER a cheat meal and remind yourself you'll get another one in a week!


Weekend Linksss

Pinterest via Laugh

This picture cracks me up because it's pretty much my inner dialogue when I cook/bake anything for anyone.

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So, that's all it takes to getting what you want?

Awesome pillow #1 and super cute pillow #2.

A wintery & beautiful mood board.

Oh! I found another fun blog to read!



Currently

My Daniel and Baby Girl swinging at Railroad Park
 Watching: Insanity workout videos, American Horror Story, and that's about it since Walking Dead screened their last episode until the February (sad). If you haven't seen Walking Dead yet, please find it on Netflix and I dare you to watch the first episode without watching the second one right afterwards. Yes, it's that good! I've always heard of friends and random people tell me how awesome American Horror Story while I do a good job not watching it. Well, I finally made the effort to check out the first episode and wow. The best way I can describe it is...it's like a movie/tv show because the acting is sooo good and the plot is so unexpected and twisted! Maybe I'm still stuck in Halloween mode because I find myself wanting to watch more scary movies instead of Christmas movies. 

Before the season ends, watching Home Alone and Love, Actually is a must. What are you watching lately? New shows? Old movies?  
A personalized Brave blanket for Baby Girl - - she's going to FLIP!!
A Rapunzel bride with her prince ornament on our tree
Listening to: To this one instrumental song with violins and beats in the background, while I'm driving to work, while driving home from work - - anytime I remember to listen to this song. Oh, Ipod shuffles - - why can't you at least tell me what I'm listening to? Besides that song, I've been in the mood for Kanye West and that one song "My girl wants to party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiiiimmeee."

Planning
: What am I not planning these days? Daniel and I are in the process of planning a Disneyland trip with Baby Girl in January. I think she's at the perfect age (4) to go for her first time. What I am I looking forward to the most on this trip? Seeing her FLIP out when she meets the Disney princesses in person, taking LOTS of fun pictures, and going on my favorite ride ever, the Haunted House! Other things I'm planning?

Planning on getting a new laptop so I can go back to school for either web design or graphic design. Planning to stay on track with this Insanity craze to get a beach body. Finally, I need to plan out what I'm going to wear for our first family photo shoot this weekend and will do some fun shopping during the week.

What's been in the works for you? It's almost 2013 - do you have any goals you want to accomplish before the new year begins?

Thinking About: How crazy fast this year flew by. It's weird that in less than a month, it's going to be 2013. I still remember the time it was only 1997 and I was listening to "Mmmbop" by Hanson. Oh, did I really say that? What I meant to say was "Smells like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana and "Just a girl" by No Doubt. I never realized how potentially impactful 12 months can be until this past year. In fact, this time last year I was a few weeks shy of leaving my office job, selling most of my belongings, and falling hopelessly in love with someone special - - right before leaving the country to travel the world. Fast forward to this very moment, I am now sitting on our couch, with his baby girl just in the other room, sound asleep with the Christmas tree glowing nearby, with all of our presents nestled right underneath it. As of late, I've been thinking about how truly blessed I am. 

Love those two :)
Working on: Saving as much money as I can by doing overtime at work and getting into the best shape of my life. I have 100% fully committed to the Insanity program and have altered my eating habits to complement my strict regime. Don't worry, I'm not living off of only almonds, apples, and celery sticks. The Insanity diet makes a lot of sense because it's all about eating five 200-300 calorie meals that are wholesome. Instead of white bread, eat whole grain. Rather than processed white sugar, try organic honey. Natural, whole, and tasty. So what am I financially saving up for? The upcoming Disneyland trip, a future house, a future vacation, and a wedding someday (honey, if you're reading this right now - - it's not what you think, no pressure...I said someday! :P). 
Scrambled 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk, diced tomatoes & onions over a whole wheat tortilla, few dashes of hot sauce!
Making me happy: The holiday vibes at home, at work, in the stores, everywhere! I love the fact that my coworkers are so enthusiastic about doing Secret Santa this year and recently put up a Christmas tree at my work. Although challenging at times, it's so exciting to keep fun surprises from them as well as tease them about how you're not giving any hints away. Also, the fact that I am continuing to stay on track with my diet/workout goals amidst all the holiday treats, makes me believe in myself more and more each day I am successful. It just goes to show if you really want something for yourself or for others, it simply takes action. Don't think that I don't allow myself one cheat day for my diet once a week. A creme brulee starbucks coffee is a must on my next cheat drink paired with fried chicken & waffles. Yup. That's what's making me happy. What about you? Is it chicken too? Or how about peppermint candy canes? How are you enjoying the holidays this year? 
Oh yeah, cake pops make me extremely happy. This picture was taken back when I was allowed to consume one.
Thank you Danielle for providing the inspiration behind the 'Currently' posts. Feel free to do one of these posts but be sure to link up here so I can read up on it too! Happy Thursday!  


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