God Save The Queen – London 2013

Last week we took Sprog on his graduation trip to the UK and Ireland (Dublin). Those of you that follow me on twitter, FB or IG have seen the pics already and heard about our travel nightmare coming home but I know there are a couple out here (namely Blondie) that aren’t on those places so I figured I’d go ahead and post about it. Besides, 140 characters or a picture doesn’t always tell the whole story of a place or event.

We started our trip in London and this time we stayed at The Marriott County Hall which is stupid expensive but I was able to score a deal via Amex. A lot of the more budget hotels required that we book two rooms since there are three of us and doing that put us in range of this hotel anyway, so why splurge a bit and all be together? The location is everything, I mean it is at The London Eye afterall, but the hotel itself was very posh and we really liked it.

Our room looked directly onto Jubilee Gardens

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and we could catch the side of The Eye from it as well.

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They didn’t have double doubles avail when we checked in so they brought us a rollaway and didn’t charge us for it as I did say 3 adults in the room at the time of booking. Very nice. One point of note, this is a converted old hospital so the walks from the lift are SUPER FAR in some of the rooms, our room was almost at the furthest end. It was like the Poltergeist hallway. But the hotel has a spa and an indoor pool, fancy.

One of the best things about this location was walking right out onto South Bank. We caught some freestyle bike performers the first night and they were the bomb.

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We also found this adorable community garden as we walked along the river to get to the skate park.

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Of course skate parks, bike performers and community gardens may not be your bag, so you could just walk across the bridge to this

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and if you turn right, you head down Whitehall St which takes you to Trafalgar Square or Buckingham Palace.

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(my husband put some kind of odd filter on this photo)

We saw Trafalgar Square in 2011 and there was a huge ship in a bottle on display at that time. This year it’s been replaced by an enormous blue cock

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Weird.

My favorite pub in London happens to be on Whitehall St as well, it’s called The Clarence and we grabbed a pint and some dinner there one night.

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Pubs all seem to carry different ciders on tap but Aspall is my absolute favorite and I know The Clarence will have it.

We had mostly good weather but it did rain in the mornings (one morning fairly heavily) and I was glad for my umbrella and raincoat but bummed I came without my Wellies for once.

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Sprog went sans umbrella as he is a bad ass teenager

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more photos and things we did (my quest for Harry Potter sights) tomorrow!

Jess: The Couch Tour

When Sprog starts community college in the fall, I’ll be seeking out full time employment in order to pay for it, which means I won’t have vacation time for some months. Obviously that kinda sucks. Since that is bearing down on me, I am currently lonely as hell and Houston has never been my favorite, I have decided to use the heck out of my flight benefits in the meantime. This means whoever shall have me gets me (if I can get a flight) and Miranda was the first person to “bully” me into coming to visit her.

This past weekend I hopped a flight to California and spent a few days with her and her adorable family.
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*photo snagged from Miranda

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We had a great time and I miss her face already.

The daily walk project: printed

I’ve talked about the daily walks before and I’ve also posted on my personal and professional FB pages, blogs and Instagram accounts along the way. I finally have the first print from the project up on my wall and it’s a huge poster of 50 Instagram images as a collage.

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I used Social Print Studio to print the poster and they have two size options: 20×30 and 20×38 either one avail in a black or white background.

Now, the 20×30 is a common size for framing but I wanted more of my images and wanted them to be shown at a larger size so I went with the larger print and less images. I figured I would just have to figure out something for the framing later (and obviously I did but it took a minute longer than I expected to find something for it)

The app used to make the poster is called Prinstagram and you can use it on your phone, iPad or desktop, wherever you have the images stored.

It was easy to use and quick to order although, I do wish I had control over photo placement in the collage itself instead of it being a random thing. The final product looks great though so that isn’t enough of an annoyance to prevent me from ordering again in the future.

The poster is printed on a thick quality photo paper and I love that it looks like any of my other photos in the house instead of a poster from the store.

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I found a “custom” framing option from a local art store Jerry’s Art-a-Rama that allows you to by rail kits so that you can make a frame any size you need for much less than actually getting something custom framed. (ps this is a deep frame so you could use it on large canvas should you have any you need to frame on the cheap)

I got my frame kits on sale and the poster itself was $35 so the whole thing was around $65. I’m so happy with it, I’m thinking about having another one made of all of our trip photos or something similar…of course I’d have actually put those into Instagram first but I don’t think people would mind being inundated with all our old trip photos being run through IG, do you?

in defense of “Perfect”

There has been a lot of conversation in my corner of the internet about people only showing the “perfect” sides of their lives on the internet. How people clean before taking pictures of their spaces. How they aren’t taking pictures of themselves sans make-up or without their hair done. How they aren’t snapping pics of their kids while they are tantruming over there on the floor. Which…hey, valid points but I’d like to present a different side of that coin, the perpetually sick side.

It gets really fucking old being sick all the time. When you are struggling with daily sinus/migraine/whatever else bullshit you get TIRED of your own life. You get fed up with hearing your own complaints. You feel ANNOYING and PATHETIC and if you are tired of yourself, how in the hell would you expect anyone else to want to be involved in your life? And that’s not even talking about the life you wish you were living. How you wish you were getting to be more active, how you wish you were doing all the things you love to do without being afraid of the pain or the pressure or wanting to crawl into a dark room and hide.

It’s exhausting and in a year or five years when I hopefully don’t feel like this anymore? I DON’T WANT TO REMEMBER IT. I DON’T WANT IT DOCUMENTED. I DON’T WANT THIS LIFE, YOU KNOW? I feel like this life is the lie. This feeling like crap all the time is the facade because this? THIS is not how people live. This is not how I should feel after spending $3000 for surgery, taking meds every day of my life, spraying crap up my nose every day, trying hippie solutions, buying large-scale equipment for my bedroom, etc.

So yes, I will be showing less of these pictures

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where my face is so swollen that my top lip is disappearing, trying to put make-up on hurt and I cried in my hotel room trying to pack and get out for the day and more of these

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where I went to some crazy replica of Stonehenge with my husband that same day.

or these where I saw my first field of bluebonnets in the 20 years I’ve lived in Tx
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I want to remember that I lived my life, regardless of my stupid illnesses and I will have my “perfect” pictures that prove it.

the walkers

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I’m not sure how long ago I committed to walking the dogs every morning but it’s been long enough to make it a solid habit now. So much so that the dogs get antsy the same time every morning and Maddie (the black dog) starts slapping me if I’m not up and getting ready to go “on time”. We had to pause for Maddie’s surgery and her recovery but I went by myself during that time and I thought she would burst from happiness on our first day back out there, they really do love it that much. I’ve even forced Sprog to drag his teenage hide out there by himself and take them when I’ve had other commitments that prevented me from doing it.

We go when it’s cold. We go when it’s crazy windy.
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Today thanks to DST was the first time I’ve been out before the sun was actually up
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and we almost caught Willy leaving for work. He was turning the corner right as we were about to cross the street and Maddie spotted his car and started to run for him. So cute and slightly dangerous. Thankfully I always walk the girls on the leash :-)

Over the weekend I shot an outdoor wedding and as I currently have a sinus infection, it knocked me down pretty hard but we had plans with friends that evening to see another one of our friends do an acoustic set here before heading on to SXSW shows and I didn’t want to cancel. I’m really glad I went because not only was it a crazy evening for the record books but I also had a couple of people tell me how much they love seeing our morning walk pictures and it really made my night. I didn’t plan on it turning into a “project” but somehow it has morphed into something that I not only look forward to every day but that I get excited about documenting and putting out there into the world. The fact that other people are enjoying it too? It’s just icing on the cake and brings a smile to my face.

eShakti Spring Line

**Disclosure-I was provided my choice of item to review for this post but my opinions are my own and I would state them good or bad**

A week ago, I mentioned a dress that I would be posting about the next day and then Texas went all Texas with its schizo weather and turned super cold and super windy out of nowhere so that wasn’t happening. Here we are a week later and it’s 80 degrees again so I can finally talk about this ADORABLE dress I received from eShakti. I love eShakti so deciding to agree to review an item from their new Spring Line wasn’t hard, the ability to customize anything is a HUGE selling point for me, as is their catering to so many sizes (0-36W), but deciding which item was a whole lot harder. In the end I selected this dress


(which is apparently so popular it’s currently sold out, boo)

because of the keyhole back. You know me and special details, I swoon for that back. I had it customized to a shorter length as it comes in a below knee length and also had it tailored to my exact measurements and it fits like a dream. It’s so great ordering something online and knowing that I’ll be able to pull it out of the package and have it fit perfectly. I also completely love the side seam pockets and the way they somehow add no bulk yet are deep enough to hold my phone if I want.

When we were shooting these pictures this afternoon a woman walked through the breezeway to her car and told me I looked beautiful, which was awesome and only a little bit embarrassing. I feel like such a lady wearing this dress and even though it’s made of cotton, the details allow for it to be dressed up, as I’ve shown here, or dressed down with some sandals and a long necklace this summer. It’s definitely one I see getting a lot of use out of but what to do about getting one for you? I’m so sad that this particular dress isn’t currently available BUT! Fret not! There are so many fantastic options in their Spring Line and I have a 20% off promotion code for you fair readers.

First some suggestions:

Tux Front Poplin A Line Dress
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Dots Large and Small Halter Dress
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Illusion Mesh Print Dress
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Colorblock Stripe Poplin Dress
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Dandelions Knit Dress
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Not all of those dresses are from the Spring Line but there are just so many on the site that are great, I wanted to make sure you saw some from other sections as well. Also, don’t forget to check out the blouses and skirts too! You can customize those as well.

Now for the promotion code: from now until March 20th save 20% by using code RVENDRKHLM
The following conditions apply:
Code has to be entered in the ‘Promotional Code’ box. No Minimum Order Value. The discount code is not case sensitive. The code can be used any number of times until the validity period. This code can be clubbed with any other gift coupon or gift card in the same order. This discount code is not applicable on our Overstock category. Not applicable on previous purchases.

Special thanks to Sprog for snapping these photos for me. It was crazy windy this afternoon and we were lucky to get two that turned out so well. I was also lucky to only partially flash the parking lot as we were leaving.

team dots: wedding fashion

I’m still working on building my perfect wardrobe and as such was unsure what I would be wearing to the wedding. I had been contacted by eShakti to check out their new Spring line, so I assumed I would wear the dress I selected from them (more on that tomorrow) but as the wedding drew closer I wasn’t positive it would arrive in time so I needed something else and preferably something from my own closet. I tried on several things (and added new things to my donate pile in the process) and settled on this

Team Dots:Wedding attire
Old Navy dress that Willy had given me for Valentine’s Day last year. I paired it with my Miz Mooz Petra sandals and decided I would seek out a patterned clutch to tie everything together. (the other dress did end up arriving in time but it was COLD the day of the wedding and it totally wouldn’t work for that)

I tried Target and Kohl’s with no success (although I did almost buy a yellow wristlet at Kohl’s but it was solid and I really wanted a pattern) before asking Twitter for suggestions and that’s when Emiliy suggested DSW and there, online, I feel in love with this
Clutch
Poppie Jones chevron clutch. I know Chevron is like so two minutes ago but I still love it and am obsessed with this clutch, the fact that I got it 40% off in the store? EVEN BETTER.

I also decided to be very fancy and paint my fingernails which is something I very rarely do. Color is Chinchilla from Essie.

I don’t have one full length picture of us all done up but here’s a quick snap I took
Outfitted
documenting the fact that Willy forgot his favorite Kenneth Cole boots in Houston and was forced to wear the Chucks he had, given the laid back vibe of the whole wedding, it actually worked but he really loves those boots.

And here’s one of us on the way to the ceremony in the car
Off to the wedding

Ladies
I’m sort of hunched over in this pic because I am tall, but anyway, you can barely make out a brown sweater looking thing in the corner? I brought a brown sweater shawl thing at the last minute and I am so glad I did. It was WAY COLD.

And finally-this doesn’t have anything to do with wedding fashion but it’s fashion and Fredericksburg related so it works-I brought home a souvenir from the weekend. I pretty much never get souvenirs when we travel (other than postcards) but I saw this dress in a store as we walked down Main St. and pretty much wasn’t leaving town without it, so…
Souvenir
I posted this teaser pic on Instagram but here is a quick shot of the whole thing

New love
I’m crazy about this dress and it’s probably a way crazy dress but I don’t care. Root Boutique is like my dream store. If I ever come into large sums of money? I will buy all my clothes and jewelry there. ALL of it.

have wedding will travel

Over the weekend we traveled to Fredericksburg, Tx to celebrate the wedding of friends David and Lauren.

I’ve never been to Fredericksburg and I’m not sure that 24 hours with a wedding in the middle of it really qualifies as having *been* there but whatever, I take what I can get when it comes to pinning locations on my travel maps. I definitely will be back (and hopefully soon) as it was very cute and I feel like there is a lot left for me to discover (obvs).

I am not a big road trip girl. My ass gets tired, I get somewhat car sick, headachy or flat need a nap. New Orleans is about my limit of driving distance but shorter trips I tend to do okay with…although I will say that four hours on back to back days and the second day being slightly longer owing to a detour, being pulled over and traffic? Over my limit as well, by the end I couldn’t shift enough in my seat and standing on my driveway was THE BEST THING EVER.

Road trip snacks
I am a fan of a well packed selection of snacks. We also each left the house with coffee and water vessels.

Texas
After 20 years I am starting to really appreciate the big blue skies here (I miss mountains on the regular though)

Pecan St Brewing, Johnson City
In Johnson City, I spotted this Brew Pub out of the corner of my eye so we flipped a bitch (a u-turn for non-Arizona folk) and stopped in for lunch. Way cute, good food, but be prepared for slow country service, our waitress “totally forgot to put your food in”. I would definitely go back again if I didn’t have some place I had to be at a certain time.

Wedding tree
The wedding was held at Becker Vineyards (there are a crap ton of vineyards in Fredericksburg apparently) and it was gorgeous.

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They were gorgeous

Laughter and love
filled with laughter and love

Cute cake is cute
and every detail was totally them, love.

We don't even look drunk. Pwned the drinking
After the wedding we went out on the town and ended up closing the bar down. I am amazed I look so sober in this pic.

Patio lunch before cutting out of town
We returned to the same place for lunch with everyone before cutting out of town

Bread pudding with a sauce made of sex, I'm certain.
Best believe I killed this entire thing by myself (the one bite Willy had to taste it totes doesn’t count) in under 5 minutes.

All the darling, right here.
We wandered town a bit, checked out the historical sites, hit up the candy store and a clothing store (will post more on that tomorrow) too.

Boots
Nat’s husband Casey recommended we take a slight detour and do the Willow City Loop if we had the chance. We made the chance.

Willow City Loop
Worth it.

Sunset, reflected
Sunsets at our back on the way home made for some great views

Pretty
So pretty

Tomorrow I’ll show y’all what we wore and talk a little bit more about Fredericksburg.

2012 sucked a lot. A recap is too hard, so have this instead

I decided I might try to do a month by month photo recap instead of the written version that everyone else is doing, not to be different, but because I did the meme and mine was DEPRESSING so PASS.

I don’t even think I’ll do a month to month, but more hey, here are some GOOD moments from this shit year, moments that make me smile and leave it at that. We all need more GOOD, right?

Okay then, onward, to the pictures!

In Jan, I was in Austin twice. I love Austin. I have peeps, many peeps, I love there and still others I seem to be able to catch when they are there.
Us on 6th (snagged from Kristie)

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Peeps!

In Feb (I think) A’Dell was in town and we had brunch
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In March, I got a new camera, took photos of Sprog and went to Arizona for my first paid photography job
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In April, I was back in Austin to second shoot for Natalie at Whitney and Matt’s wedding
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In May, my baby boy turned 17 and I took him cupcakes and Jack-n-the-Box at school, he also got his first smart phone

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In August we were back in Austin (just for an afternoon) to get Sprog his driver’s license
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and then Willy and I went to Wales to see two beautiful people get married in a fantastically beautiful place

Bridge over The River Dee from the train trestle

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I made a lot of flowers for it
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And Willy and I ended our mini vaca over in Amsterdam
Windmill!

September brought Sprog his first car
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October we supported a cause by participating in the NOH8 campaign
NOH8 Official Photo
and I’d like to share Jennie’s words from her recap here because she said this so beautifully: “Every year, the same issue moves me like no other: those of the same sex who just want a marriage like I have. When I think of what I have with Mike–the fights, the love, the laughter, the tight hugs, and the easy conversation–and then I think that two people also want that but can’t have it because of their anatomy and because of others’ religion, I just get sick. I do. I know it’s polarizing! I know I may love you while you’re against it! But I can’t be against an adult who just wants to lay in bed and hold the hand of someone he/she calls “husband” or “wife” like I lay in bed and hold the hand of the person I get to call husband. I just can’t. I never will be against that. Marriage equality. It moves me every year, among many other political issues.”

I also second shot another wedding with Natalie
Melissa and Carl

Plus a little bonus holiday shoot before I headed home
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November it was off for another shoot in Arizona and then over to New Orleans for The Blathering
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and back home for a holiday shoot with this adorable little lady
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Plus Ren Fest where I FINALLY got to wear my wings
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(photo via pygmypony.net)

*We did go to Dallas/Ft Worth a couple of times in there as well but at least one time ended with major car trouble and the other I had a dislocated rib so those trips are tainted, sadly, in my mind. Still love my D/FT Worth contingent though which is why I tried to include pics of y’all in other ways 😉

**My Az BFF is not down with pics of her children on the wilds of the internet (which is totally cool) but is also why none of those pics are appearing here, just FYI.

So This Is Christmas

I feel like no one was truly prepared for Christmas this year and we were all just winging this shit, yes? At any rate, we crammed in as much of our normal traditions as we could and let some others, like Christmas lights and what I serve Christmas morning (THANKS FOR NOT SELLING PANETTONE ANYMORE PANERA) just go by the wayside.

We did Christmas cookies the Sunday before and my brother did his traditional single disgusting cookie. Last year it was the pile of shit cookie and this year? It was what looks like Oscar the Grouch with a giant penis

Decorating cookies with family. Mine (left) vs my brother's (right)

And this picture pretty much sums up our families reaction to this situation

The faces my brother frequently inspires!

Mom is wincing, sister is incredulous, nephew is cackling in glee. Yep. That’s about par.

Christmas Eve means gifts with the fam so we were back over there to share and eat appetizers. Luke refused the tree pic this year (probably should’ve knocked that out in the beginning of the evening instead of the end)
Boys with the tree

but he had a great time opening gifts

Mayhem

and Connor loved the new boxing bag that Gma got him.

Boxing

He also got a bolt action Nerf shot gun that is SO AMAZING that Sprog desperately wants one of his own. IT EJECTS A SHELL CASING. Ha!

Christmas morning we had french toast made with some cranberry pistachio bread (I’m still bitter, PANERA) and then watched Sprog open his gifts
New stereo (retro style)

He fly. New jacket and matching shoes

and opened the gifts he got for us (we didn’t exchange gifts with each other-things need to stop breaking so we have a real budget again).

Afterwards we waited out the tornado warning (LOVELY) and storms that passed through Pasadena before driving down there for Christmas with the in-laws.

Joey

Kayla

Landen throwing sparks

Kendal

and I wore one of the things that Sprog got me for Christmas as part of my outfit, the necklace here

Christmas Day outfit

he did good :-)

Oh! And I should also mention before I close out this little recap, that Christmas is the 8th anniversary of our second date. 8 years ago Willy and I went to see Lemony Snicket on Christmas Day and then went to Katz. Two days prior to that was our first date so we celebrated by going to the same restaurant (Empire Cafe) and having a little celebratory date.

8 yrs ago today we had our first date in this restaurant and sat by the window <3

Happy 8 years honey!

More pics in my flickr as usual.