Friday, September 26, 2014

day 26: the past year

Day 26: How have you changed in the past year?

Last September, I had just started my first year of teaching. From a professional standpoint, I have grown so much. Lots of tears were shed, but I really do feel like I'm in a much better place now, both physically and emotionally with my career as a teacher. I had a meltdown towards the end of last year, because I wasn't sure teaching was for me. I have since learned that's not true, and I really do love what I do.

With our 4th anniversary coming up next month, I've been thinking back on the past year of marriage, too. No one said marriage was easy. In fact, it can be plain hard at times. We've had some honest conversations and I believe our marriage is better for it. To be completely honest, I'm glad we waited this long to have babies. I'm sure it would have been a blessing no matter when it happened, but I feel like we took the time to really build our relationship so that even when we're sleep deprived and hormonal (or maybe that's just me...), we can hang in there together. We talk now about how excited we are for the next phase of life, not scared by it. I think earlier in our marriage, we would have been more afraid of how a baby will bring changes to our relationship. 

Of course, there's now a baby on the way! I'm 19 1/2 weeks pregnant, so almost halfway there. Whoo hoo!! This pregnancy has brought about more changes that I could have thought, but I really do feel so blessed by it. There are moments I wish I could just slow down and savor it more (really, just at work), but it really is getting into the fun moments. I had my first prenatal massage, courtesy of my husband. We sold a kitchenette set we had in Utah over the summer, and the lady is a massage therapist on base. She traded us 2 1/2 hours worth of massages for it, and since Austen is really happy as long as I itch his back, he said I could use them. Mmm. It really is so relaxing after a long day of work. 

We're also one year closer to moving back to Texas. Austen's in that so-close phase of mind. I'm a little sad to actually leave here, though. I won't miss the dryness or the desert, but I love, love, love where I work and we do have some amazing friends. However, as my mom and sister plan our baby shower back in Texas, I'm reminded of all I'm gaining when we move back. And trees. I can't wait to have trees again. Oh, and to actually plant my hydrangeas in the ground. 

Lots can happen in a year. 

I can't believe a year from now, we'll be preparing our house for moving (it's a process, ya'll) and will have an 8 month old baby girl!! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

day 24: autumn bucket list

Day 24: Your fall bucket list. What do you want to do before winter rolls around?

I grew up outside of St. Louis, Missouri for 14 years, and really feel like the midwest has some of the best autumn weather. I'm sure places like Vermont and Maine probably top it, but I just loved the four seasons. 

Nevada? Not so much.

There are, however, some very fun autumn-y things we like to do around the Garrett household! 

go apple picking
Who would have guessed, but Vegas has a you-pick orchard and farm! I'm wanting to go apple picking (and maybe pick a pumpkin or five?) with some friends who have kids. I think it'd be a great Saturday activity, especially once the weather cools off a little bit more. I went last year and this place really does have the best apple cider. Locals, check out Gilcrease Orchard if you've never been!

find Halloween outfits with the second grade team
Oh, Nevada. Our statehood happened on October 31, and since Halloween falls on a Friday this year, we get the day off from school!! That Thursday means we (or at least the teachers) can dress up, and grade levels plan "costumes" together. We have 4 second grade teachers, and are about to get a 5th. Anyone have good costume ideas for 5 women? One who will be very bumpin' by then?

diy Halloween outdoor decorations 
Trick-or-treating on the Air Force base is kind of a big deal. I'm talking there are full-on haunted houses and neighbors partner up to make super scary exteriors. We never do. BUT, teaching on base this year, I'm sure a few kids will figure out which house is mine (yay?). I want to do something that'll be a little more festive than we usually do. I'm thinking some carved pumpkins with glow sticks in them for fun colors, and maybe glow sticks inside of toilet paper rolls with just two eyes cut out. I want to diy a black wreath, too. I'm not a scary kind of Halloween person, more like a boo sort of girl.

perfect my wassail recipe
For anyone who doesn't know, wassail is a spiced, citrusy, apple cider. I love wassail, and have a great recipe! I want to perfect it even more this year, though. It's delicious the way it is, but I want something in it that makes it "my" recipe. I'm planning on starting to make wassail this fall, that way come Christmas, we can have people over and it'll be perfect.

have a chili & wassail party post Homecoming Air Show
Nellis Air Force base, home of the Thunderbirds. Every year, at the end of the Thunderbirds tour season, they have a big air show on base. It's the biggest free public event in Las Vegas (or so I've heard). My sister is coming in town for it this year, so we'll do the air show thing on the flight line first, and then watch the actual show from a balcony. After the show, we're going to have friends over for chili & wassail. It's the second weekend in November, and is usually cold outside by then so something warm while everyone hangs out sounds just about right!

find warm weather shoes
I would say boots, but after a day of standing on my feet, all I really want is something super soft. I might be that person who brings in fuzzy boots to change into at school, especially once I start to get puffy feet. Other teachers are already starting to help me change classroom management techniques so that I'll be walking around less! I think warm, soft shoes are going to be a closet staple, soon enough.

grow the bump!
I feel like for the past week or so, every day my belly grows. It's unreal. I have yet to have a stranger ask if I'm pregnant, but I wore one of my old scoop neck t-shirts from Target the other day (a size small) and oh, teachers noticed the bump! I think I just hide it well, still. I'm excited to get to the point where I definitely look pregnant, though! They say that my pants will stay up better, then. Here's hoping. ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

day 23: guide to las vegas

Day 23: A guide to your city! Share some of the hot-spots and hidden gems of where you live.

I am not a "desert rat" by nature, as I have heard locals call themselves. First of all, I hate rats. Second of all, I don't find that phrase a cute spin off of "city/country mouse" by any means. While we're on that note though, I am much more of a "country mouse". 


Austen's in the Air Force, and that's why we live here in Las Vegas for the time being. I have had people ask before we moved out here if I was worried about being so close to The Strip. Um, no? I asked this friend from St. Louis how often she goes to the Arch, because it's the same idea. It's a tourist thing, not a locals attraction. Honestly, we're a good 20+ minutes from The Strip, and the only time I've gone without guests accompanying me was to shop at Sephora in a mall at 11:00am. Literally, we never go there. 

We also live on the Air Force base, which is on the north east side of town. Pretty much, all we do is in North Las Vegas, or on the opposite end of the valley (about 40 minutes away) in Henderson.

yup, I graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) - home of the Runnin Rebels. located right behind The Strip! please excuse the squinty eyed picture, and all of the random people in the background.

Here's some of my favorite hot spots:

Austen & I usually get lunch here before grocery shopping at Whole Foods on the weekends. The menu is almost all organic and local foods (whenever they can) and absolutely delicious! He has tried a whole bunch from their menu, while I stick with their unfried chicken tenders with sweet potato fries from the children's menu (it's just the right size!). They also have a pomegranate ginger lemonade that is delicious. It's also at great prices, so we don't feel like we're hurting after having a meal together!

Right across the street from LYFE Kitchen and Whole Foods, this place is one of my favorites. It's one of the first places our cousins' showed us when we moved to Las Vegas, and I still love it. There are our favorite shops, from REI for Austen to Anthropologie for me, and we both love to peek inside of Williams Sonoma, or I drag him through Pottery Barn to show him the bedroom set I'm pinning after. They also have a farmer's market on Thursdays (during its season) and lots of live artists or bands playing. This is also the only REI I like to camp out at for their seasonal "garage sales", because I can go shopping in the evening while he hangs out on the sidewalk (no joke), sleep in the car, then get us Panera Bread bagels in the morning!

Social Paintbrush
One of my favorite places for a girls night. They take you step-by-step to paint a specific picture. My favorite though? Their paint-your-pet nights! It costs a little more than their usual painting nights, but is so, so worth it. My girlfriend, Katie from Sugar Kane, and I painted Lilly and her Kane together. They sketch your dog (or pet) ahead of time for you on canvas, and then walk you through color choices to paint a striking image of them. Lilly's picture is still at the end of our hallway.

I think Austen could eat here every night if I'd let him. Or at least, every week! It's the best Thai restaurant we've found. I've been adventurous here and tried a few dishes, but the chicken chow mien is still my favorite.

One of the cutest coffee shops around! This place has delicious coffee and muffins, but their teas are some of my favorite. This used to be a hot spot for some of us F22 wives to hangout and catch up at. I have several friends who also used this place as a great study spot during college crunch time before finals and big tests. If you were to go, get a blueberry muffin. They're amazing.

Mount Charleston
About an hour from us (maybe 30 minutes outside of the city?) is Mt. Charleston. It's a real mountain that gets snow and everything! I know, who would've guessed? There's lots of camping and hiking spots, even a small ski resort. We spent our first anniversary at a cabin there next to a great lodge that we go eat at once or twice a year. It's a lot of fun to take guests to, because you can escape the heat a little, and get a taste of crisp mountain air! We mostly go up there to camp. One time, we even went snow camping. It was quite the experience... Austen & I were well prepared, so it wasn't so bad. Our friends were not, and were sort of miserable for the night. Oops.

I really wish I could take each and every one of you on a tour of the Air Force base! I love to show people around. From the flight line (which I can drive by), to the two separate areas for housing, the elementary school, Freedom Park with huge stationary airplanes, and the stores that make it possible to never leave the base if you didn't want to (we do though, I like Target too much). It is a small town in a big city. I just love the atmosphere! 

So that's my Las Vegas. Not the flashy, showy kind. The one that's hot and dry, but has a lot of neat places to shop and eat at. Who would have thought, but I've even come to the point that I'll sort of miss this place (mostly the people) when we leave. 

Brave Love Blog

Monday, September 22, 2014

day 22: favorite blogs

Day 22: Introduce us to 5 blogs you read on the regular, and tell us why!

I feel like I read different blogs for different reasons. I've shared favorite blogs before, but thought today, I'd share ones that I love because of the girls behind the blogs. They are ladies who are inspirational in some way or another. 

She's from practically the same part of Fort Worth as I am, and started renovating a fixer upper just before her wedding. It reminded me so much of our old house in Denton that we did 101 renovations to several years ago. Her house has become such a cozy home, and her heart of opening it up whenever she can to guests is so refreshing! I'm also convinced her house is always spotless... I need some pointers on how to keep floors and couches clean with dogs! ;)

I found her blog through Victoria's. She's also pregnant right now, but with a little boy and further along than I am. She also teaches, and it's fun to see her balance life as a teacher, a wife, and soon-to-be mom. 

Another blogger I found through Victoria! She has the most adorable Southern accent, combines working part time as a school librarian with starting up a videography and photography business with her husband. She has two floppy eared dogs that are too cute, and lots of pictures of b&bw candles!

She is such a doll! She's planning her wedding, loves to travel, and is all around just precious to know. I love her sneaks of what they're doing for their wedding, and cannot wait to see more pictures to come! Oh, and her ring is blingin'.

This girl I know in real life. She is the best. We met because our husbands were both stationed here at Nellis, and loved going out for puppy playdates or wine & painting nights. She has since moved back to the Bay Area in California (which I'm super jealous about) but she is still the sweetest. I recently got an adorable "Katie's Kitchen" cookbook from her, she sends me links to leather baby moccs when she finds them (love her for that), and still manages to take pictures of her two precious Boston terriers, Sugar & Kane. I wish she lived closer!! Oh, and one thing everyone should know about Katie: one Halloween, we decided to dress up as old ladies in moo moos and watch Practical Magic. Scary movie, ya'll. At one point, I closed my eyes while she plugged her ears, and between the two of us, we fast forwarded through scary parts. Afterwards, we threw the movie in my trash can (outside, not inside), and watched Hocus Pocus and Long Island Medium. I just love her.

So, those are some of my favs! Check them out, and tell them I sent you. ;)

Brave Love Blog

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