First Quarter Check-In: New Year’s Resolutions

First Quarter Check-In: New Year’s Resolutions

The first quarter of 2018 has flown by! I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how to stay motivated and accountable for my goals. I want 2018 to be the year I accomplish a lot, so I thought I would take this time to share an update on how my New Year’s Resolutions are going so far, and talk about what I could improve.

The Successes

Travel to at least 3 new places

I’m on my way to success in this resolution. A week from today, I will be arriving in Costa Rica! My mom and I are going on vacation for a week, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve never been to Costa Rica, so this will mark #1 on my goal of 3 new places this year. I don’t have the other two trips booked or planned, but I will keep you all posted.

Try new restaurants in Austin

I have a list of restaurants I still want to try, but so far I would say this has been a success. I tried Picnik the other night, which is a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for a while now. I actually went alone, which is something I’m always nervous to do, but it was a great experience and the food and drink were delicious!

I posted about the idea of being nervous to go to dinner alone on my Instagram and Twitter, and it was really interesting to see what people had to say! Let me know in the comments your thoughts on going to dinner alone.

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Berry Basil Smash Cocktail
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Orange Chicken & Broccoli

Learn an instrument

This was honestly one of the resolutions I wasn’t sure I would succeed at, so shoutout to my parents for helping it come to fruition! For my birthday in March, my parents got me a piano keyboard, and I’ve loved playing around on it and teaching myself some songs. It’s harder than it seems to learn even simple songs, but YouTube tutorials really help. Plus, it’s fun to have a musical outlet! If I get brave enough I might share some videos in the future of me playing the piano and even singing…

Needs Improvement

Write the first draft of my book

This resolution was possibly the tallest order, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for failing so far. I’m going to be honest – I have not written a single sentence of my book. I’m going to need to be more determined to write in the next 9 months if I’m going to complete this goal.

My plan is to write something every single day, whether that is a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire chapter. I think making small steps like that will really help to get started.

Find a workout routine

This one hasn’t been a total failure, but has also not been a total success, so I’m categorizing it under “needs improvement.” My mom and I try to go on walks 3-4 times a week before I go to work, which is a good start. I also enjoy taking yoga classes, but I have not been very consistent about it. I would like to start doing more cardio, but I still just need to figure out a good schedule and motivate myself to actually work out!

Find a blogging/YouTube routine

Although I would love to be able to report back that I have been uploading YouTube videos and posting on my blog consistently, that is unfortunately not the case. However, I do want to acknowledge the strides I’ve made. I FINALLY uploaded a YouTube video yesterday, and I think just uploading a new video has helped boost my confidence and makes me more likely to continue uploading. Just need to find that steady cadence! I actually touched on the topic of staying motivated in my video, so check it out and leave me a comment with your suggestions if you get the chance.

 

Thanks for reading (and watching)! Let me know in the comments how your resolutions/goals have been going so far this year. I think it’s important to keep ourselves accountable, and also to help encourage others to do the same.

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

As I mentioned in my 2017 Reflection post, I accomplished a lot last year. But in true perfectionist fashion, I am determined to accomplish even more this year. I’ve never been one for setting strict resolutions, but I do like to set goals for myself to have an idea of what I’m working towards. So here are some of the things I would love to do in 2018….

Write the first draft of my book

Perhaps my most hefty goal, I would love to get started and hopefully write a first draft of a book. I’ve had the idea for it for years now, and have written parts of it on and off for a while now, but I want 2018 to be the year I actually take it seriously. I don’t want to give too many details about it yet, but I will definitely keep you all posted on my progress!

Travel to at least 3 new places

Like I mentioned in my 2017 Reflections, I was lucky to be able to travel quite a bit last year. However, it only made me want to travel even more this year! There are a few places in Texas I still haven’t visited, along with a few other states and countries that are on my wish list. Honorable mentions go to San Francisco, New Orleans, and anywhere in South America. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to make it to at least three new places!

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In Crested Butte Colorado during my vacation in July
Find a workout routine

Working out and I have a strained relationship. I tend to go through periods of time where I exercise on a regular basis, and then periods where I don’t so much as go on a walk. I’m hoping to make 2018 the year I finally get consistent. I haven’t decided on a specific schedule yet, but I just want to get on a routine that I feel comfortable with. As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, exercise makes me feel happier as a whole. Happy body, happy mind!

Find a blogging/YouTube routine

Like exercise, I tend to go through slumps in my blogging and, more recently, my YouTube channel. I guess everyone experiences that with resolutions to a certain extent, but I would like to get into a routine with uploading YouTube videos consistently, and writing new blog posts consistently. Again, I haven’t decided on the schedule, but I would just like to stay consistent and have a goal to work towards every week/month.

Try new restaurants in Austin

Despite the fact that I was born and raised in Austin, I sometimes feel woefully ignorant to where the best restaurants are in the city. I always enjoy exploring new places (hence the travel resolution above), so why not explore within my own city? This year I’m hoping to discover some new favorite places to eat. And I will definitely capture them on this blog!

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At Elizabeth Street Cafe for my birthday last year
Learn an instrument

Last but certainly not least, possibly the most fun and exciting resolution I have is to pick up an instrument! I played piano and violin in grade school, and I was in choir in high school. I’ve always loved music, and the past couple of years I have had the urge to start playing an instrument and/or singing again. My dad recently got a ukulele, and I’ve been thinking about getting one myself! Either that or a cheap keyboard to learn how to play piano again. Like my other resolutions, I will keep you all posted on what I decide.

 

I’m pleased to say I’m feeling very optimistic about the coming year. I know I said this last year, but I am determined to make 2018 MY YEAR! What are some of your 2018 resolutions? And what are your tips for sticking to them all year round? Let me know in the comments!

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Austin Adventures: Weird Homes Tour

Austin Adventures: Weird Homes Tour

This weekend I did my part to help Keep Austin Weird by participating in the Weird Homes Tour. The tour is a self-paced, self-driving tour where you drive to different areas of Austin and walk through unique homes. The houses were all “weird” in different ways, some incorporating artistic elements, others showcasing more interesting architecture.

I got a lot of photos during my tour, and thought it would be fun to share them with you all, along with my thoughts on each of the homes. I’ve put them in order of least favorite to favorite, but overall enjoyed walking through each and every house!

Riggins’ Cabinet of Curiosities

The first house we visited was actually used as the home of a main character on a famous TV show. Let me know if you can guess which one in the comments! Hint: the name of the house gives it away if you’ve seen the show. (If you are absolutely stuck, click here for the answer.)

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The reason this house was my least favorite was because it seemed a bit cluttered and didn’t have a clear theme, or as many artistic elements as the others. On the other hand, there was a lot to look at and people who know a lot about history might have liked it more than I did. The owner of the house mentioned she had many knick knacks from past decades, and a history buff could have spent more time looking around and finding interesting things in that house.

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The Torres Temple

This next home was really clean and simple, unlike the previous one. The reason it comes in second to last place is because I didn’t feel it had enough “weird.” While the Cabinet of Curiosities was basically overflowing with weird, the Torres Temple left me wondering what was so weird about it.

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The unique element that it did have was the different color themes in each room, which were meant to represent “Feng Shui elements and chakra colors to envelop and energetically transform the observer who is entering into this world.” I liked the idea of this, but didn’t really notice much of an energy to each room. Maybe it was just over my head, and a more astute observer or open-minded individual would have loved it.

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Indra’s Awarehouse

This house immediately peaked my interest more than the previous two, and not just because of the on point pun in the name (it was an old warehouse, now used as a hostel for the creatively-minded). Artists, dancers, musicians (including Kendrick Lamar according to a man we talked to who lived there) all gather here to perform together and spread good vibes.

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I really liked all of the artistic touches, from the chalk paintings out front to the paintings on the wall of the bedroom, and the various art pieces hanging around the warehouse.  The only reason this was not higher on my list was because it felt more like an art gallery or some kind of studio as opposed to a “real house”, and I was more wowed by a couple of the traditional homes that still managed to be “weird.”

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Florence’s Comfort House

Coming in second place, this home really did have an element of comfort, with plenty of hippie vibes. I would say this house was the most iconically Austin, from the bejeweled guitars to the messages about peace. It also was the only house where the backyard was the main attraction instead of the inside of the house, which made it stand out from the rest.

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This was also the only home that seemed to be geared both towards adults and children, with much of the backyard comprised of things you might find on a playground. As it turns out, Florence uses her home to help children in the community “make the best of their lives both during their youth and beyond.”

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Under The Sea House

And finally, my choice for first place goes to Under The Sea! I had high hopes for this one just by looking at the name (I’m a Pisces after all), and it did not disappoint. I thought this one did the best job of being weird, while still having cohesiveness and artistic elements without being too cluttered. My favorite part was the garden in the backyard, which had this awesome fence painted with sea creatures (including mermaids).

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The inside of the house was just as whimsical. I loved all of the details in the dining area, from the colorful teacups to the tiled wall and the peacock-patterned lamp. The kitchen counter was also really cool, with lots of beads and photo cutouts under the surface.

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The final detail I wanted to mention was the bathroom, which had an awesome color-changing sink, which lit up and changed colors from green to pink.

Read more about Under The Sea.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of some of Austin’s weirdest homes. Based on these photos and my descriptions, which one do you think your favorite would be? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to check out the Weird Homes Tour on Twitter and Facebook, and look through the hashtag #WeirdHomes on Twitter and Instagram to see more awesome photos from the events in Austin, Houston and New Orleans.

CitySTRONG: My Interview With Erin Oprea, Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe

CitySTRONG: My Interview With Erin Oprea, Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe

Sometimes in life, you get opportunities that seem a little too good to be true. This was definitely how I felt when I was offered the chance to not only attend the CitySTRONG event in Austin, but get media/VIP access to meet and interview Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth from The Bachelorette Season 11, and celebrity fitness instructor Erin Oprea.

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know I’m a fan of the Bachelor franchise, so meeting Kaitlyn and Shawn was basically a dream come true. Not to mention, it’s not every day you get to chat with the woman who helped Carrie Underwood achieve her famous legs.

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Photo credit: Zach Harrison Photography

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with CitySTRONG, it is a one hour workout lead by Erin and Shawn, with hilarious commentary and music provided by Kaitlyn. While the workout was no joke, and I am still sore today, it was also a lot of fun.

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Photo credit: Zach Harrison Photography (@zachharrisonphotography on Instagram)

CitySTRONG has events across the country, with all proceeds going to a great cause: CreatiVets. This cause is particularly important to Erin, who is a former U.S. Marine. CreatiVets provides disabled veterans with the opportunity to use art, music and creative writing to address the psychological and emotional needs that arise from service-related trauma.

Now that you have a bit of context, let’s dive into my interview with Kaitlyn, Shawn and Erin. They were all so friendly and willing to answer all of my questions. It felt more like a casual hang-out than an interview, and overall I’m really proud of how it turned out.

Shelly: To start off, can you tell me how you came up with the idea for CitySTRONG, and what the experience has been like so far? 

Erin: My husband Sean, Shawn [Booth], and I were out on bicycles riding through the city of Nashville, and we just came up with the idea together. And three weeks later, we had our first workout! That was in September of last year, and from there it just grew. 

Shawn: We really just wanted to share our passion with others on a larger scale…

Erin: But in a fun aspect too. I didn’t want it to just be a serious workout. It’s more like a party – with the exception of wine today. 

Kaitlyn: I normally drink wine but I’m doing 30 days without it right now.

Shelly: I’m sure that’s tough!

Kaitlyn: It really is. 

[Kaitlyn’s commentary during the workout included many references to the lack of wine, including my favorite line from her of the day: “Oh good, I’m still funny without wine! Good to know.”]

Shelly: What would you say is the main goal of CitySTRONG?

Erin: I want people to realize that sweating doesn’t have to be boring. A lot of people think working out is boring and I want to show people it can be fun, especially if you have a workout buddy that energizes you. 

Shawn: And that you can do it anywhere. Like today, we’ll do a full body workout using just your body. There’s no weights involved. So if you’re at home struggling to get to the gym, or you’re traveling, it’s something you can do wherever.  

Shelly: I think that’s really important, because a lot of people (myself included) make excuses about being too busy or not being able to make it to the gym. So reminding people you can do it anywhere is great. 

Erin: Yeah I hear that all the time. There’s no good excuse, because you can always do ten minutes, go back to work, and then do ten more minutes later in the day. You can always fit it in, it just has to become a priority. When it becomes important enough to you, you’ll do it. 

Shelly: That’s so true. So what advice would you have for someone who is struggling to stay motivated or to put fitness as a top priority in their life? 

Shawn: Set short-term goals for yourself. I think a lot of people give up or get discouraged if they don’t see progress being made within a few days, so if you set goals for yourself such as ‘I’m going to work out three times this week’ it makes it easier. Take it day by day, meal by meal, workout by workout. 

Erin: I think an important one for women is to monitor based on how your clothes fit, not what you see on the scale. The scale sometimes can be the death of all of us women. 

Kaitlyn: My mom refuses to own a scale.

Erin: I just got my first scale of my life, I’ve never owned one. And I shouldn’t really even own one, it’s just stupid. 

Shelly: Erin, you wrote a book, The 4×4 Diet. Can you tell me what readers can expect from it?

Erin: It includes tabata workouts, which are my favorite. They’re 8 round bursts of 20 seconds of high-intensity moves, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The book also goes into having a clean, healthy diet that you can have forever, not a quick crash diet. 

Shawn: No fad diets here!

Shelly: What has been the best or most rewarding part of the CitySRONG experience so far? 

Shawn: We get the pleasure of meeting hundreds of people after the events, and just hearing their stories and how inspired they are by us keeps us motivated to keep doing what we do. 

I had so much fun at the workout and chatting with Erin, Shawn and Kaitlyn. Hope you all enjoyed reading the interview, and learned a thing or two about health and fitness. Be sure to check out CitySTRONG’s website to see if they’re coming to your city, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook. You can also find Kaitlyn, Shawn, and Erin on Instagram.

 

 

July, August & September Recap

July, August & September Recap

I dropped the ball on my monthly recap posts since June, so I thought I would bundle the main highlights from the last few months into one blog post to catch you guys up on my life. Enjoy!

Family Beach Vacation
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Growing up, my family and I used to go to Port Aransas every summer. We hadn’t been in a few years, so we decided to take a trip for old time’s sake. I took three days off of work, and left my laptop at home so I could completely disconnect and have some much-needed relaxation time. (I’m thinking of writing a post about how to have a work-free vacation, so let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in that.)

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It was my ideal type of vacation, because it had the perfect mix of chill-out time and adventuring. We spent a good amount of time reading, swimming in the pool and ocean, and watching the Olympics, but we also went out and explored new places in Corpus Christie like the botanical gardens (where a parrot with no beak hung out on my shoulder) and the aquarium!

Elizabeth’s Wedding
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One of my first ever friends, literally from when I was an infant, got married in August! Although she and I haven’t stayed in touch very well in recent years, my mom and her mom have remained best friends, and I was really excited to be able to attend her wedding. It was cool to to witness such a big milestone in her life and to remember playing with her when we were kids. Time really does fly!

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This was the third wedding Brian and I have attended together, so it was fun having him there with me along with my parents. Their reception was in a really cool lounge area. It was decorated with beautiful flowers, and the lighting was perfect. They also had an adorable slideshow playing with baby pictures, and I made it into one of the pictures!

Lauren’s Visit
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Last month, my friend Lauren (who I wrote about in my June Recap post) came to visit me for the weekend! It was so much fun having her here, and we managed to fit a lot of fun into a few days. We went to the Blue Cat Cafe (mentioned in my May Recap post), and ate delicious food at VoodooSpun, and Gourdough’s.

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On Sunday we went to an awesome event put on by Aerie, where we got to take free yoga classes, and meet the very sweet and super inspirational model Iskra Lawrence! Aerie is a unique brand in that they don’t retouch or Photoshop any of their models, and they make an effort to promote body positivity for young girls. I love everything they stand for, and it was really great to meet Iskra and get to hear her talk about how she has managed to stay positive and love herself despite the media and people in the modeling industry making it difficult.

Family Time in Wimberley

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My parents recently rented a house in Wimberley, and they’ve been staying out there almost every weekend. It’s right on the creek, and they are walking distance from a coffee shop, some restaurants, and even a library which they are now members of.

My younger sister and her boyfriend went out to stay with them for a weekend in September, so Brian and I went out on Sunday and we all got to swim and have a nice lunch at The Leaning Pear (which I mentioned in my June Recap). It was really nice visiting with everyone and having a “triple date”, and I can definitely see why my parents are loving it out there so much. It’s so peaceful and quiet compared to the bustle of the city, which makes for a great escape on the weekends.

I hope you enjoyed reading about what I’ve been up to the past few months! I will definitely try to write a recap every month like I did in May and June, so be on the lookout for an October Recap next month.

Answer in the comments: What was your favorite memory from the last three months?

May Recap

May Recap

 

I was planning to write a May Favorites blog tonight, but then I was looking at my calendar to remind myself what all happened last month, and I felt inspired to just write about it instead! So I’m going to share some of the highlights from last month, and if you enjoy reading it, I will try to make it a monthly occurrence! I think it will be fun way for me to look back on everything I did each month.

Week One

I ended April and kicked off May driving up to Plano, TX for my boyfriend’s younger sister’s dance recital. It was a pretty short trip since we drove up Saturday morning and left Sunday afternoon, but it was a lot of fun and it was nice for my boyfriend to see his family for the first time since he moved down to Austin.

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Me, Brian and Meghan after Meghan’s show
Week Two

The second week of May brought Mother’s Day. I went to brunch with my parents at a restaurant we love called Bouldin Creek Cafe, and later that night I took my mom to the Pentatonix concert, which was so much fun! She’d never heard their music but she really enjoyed it and it was great bonding time.

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Me and my mom at Bouldin Creek Cafe
Week Three

May had a lot of special occasions to celebrate. We went from Mother’s Day right into my mom’s birthday the following week. We split the celebration into two nights, with a family dinner at Casa de Luz (her favorite restaurant) on Sunday, and dessert at Mozart’s on Monday.

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My family and I at Casa de Luz
Week Four

This week brought a scary but rewarding experience for me, which was my first showcase for my improv class! I was really nervous, as was the rest of my class, because we all invited our family and friends to come watch, and it’s just scary to perform in front of an audience! But as soon as we started and I heard the crowd laughing during the scenes, I knew it was going to be a fun time. I’m really proud of myself for getting outside my comfort zone!

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Being silly with my improv family
Week Five

Last but not least I had a great three day weekend celebrating my sister’s birthday, as well as Memorial Day! My family and I celebrated her birthday by going to the Blue Cat Cafe, which is basically a cafe/restaurant that has a bunch of cats wondering around for you to pet and play with. Yes, it’s just as strange as it sounds. But it was fun and definitely a new experience! After that my sister and I went shopping for a bit, and then later that night my grandma, her boyfriend and my parents met us at Mozart’s for dessert (can you tell we like that place?)

Monday was Memorial Day, and my boyfriend and I spent the day at a park playing bocce ball and enjoying the nice warm weather. I had never played before, and I unfortunately lost, but I still had a blast!

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Selfie outside the Blue Cat Cafe

Overall I would say that May was a great month for me. I had something going on every single weekend which is always nice, and I got to spend plenty of time with my family. So far June has been another awesome month, so stay tuned to hear all about it in a few weeks!