Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs!

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IMG_2419Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

3 out of 5 stars

Recommended: Yes!

Fingersmith is more than  500 pages and it felt a bit daunting to start. However, I was drawn in right away because of the strong, female lead character. As I continued to read, she was joined by other strong, female characters and that pulled me in even more. It was a thrilling look at feminism, nature versus nurture, and love. Getting to know these women as they found their voices and strength in a time when women weren’t allowed to be strong was inspiring. And that combined with all of the curve balls that Sarah Waters threw, had me desperate to know what would happen next. I found myself reading late into the night on many occasions.

The only thing I struggled with was the time period. I am not as familiar with the Victorian Era in Britain and every now and then I found it hard to immerse myself in the story because I didn’t know the history that they were alluding to or I got tripped up by the pronunciation of certain words.

However, the pros definitely outweighed the cons and it was a great beginning of summer read!

Mrs is Flipping a House!

Two months ago, we moved to Dallas, TX. The sole purpose of this move was to launch my real estate developing career. Finally, after seeing 30+ properties and researching 5+ Dallas neighborhoods, I found my first deal! I am the proud owner of a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home that needs a bit of love and updating before it can be sold to the next proud owners!

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I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together the scope of work for the rehab, getting bids for various tasks, and figuring out a realistic timeline to get it all done in. Our profit margin is very tight, so Rob and I are going to be doing a chunk of the work ourselves. I wasn’t expecting to be this hands on, but we are excited to learn a lot of new skills. I will be posting updates periodically, but if you want behind the scenes footage and more before and after pics, follow me on Instagram and like my page on Facebook!

Mrs’ Big Sur Camping Highlights!

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Driving from Carmel down Highway 1 (the PCH) is home to some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. And ending the drive in Big Sur with its beautiful giant redwoods next to the beach is truly a unique area and probably one of my favorite places in CA. My family has been going every summer since I was in high school and this year we were lucky enough to be able to go two weekends in a row! We celebrated my brother’s golden birthday the first weekend and the 4th of July the next. Here are my top 4 highlights from our trip to Big Sur this year.

  • Ice cream cake– my brother’s favorite kind of birthday cake is ice cream cake. And because I love a good challenge I decided that was exactly the kind of birthday cake he would get, even if we would be in the middle of a redwood forest. We layered vanilla ice cream sandwiches with cool whip, fresh strawberries and a touch of strawberry jam. Surprisingly it turned out fantastic (even though it was a little melty).
  • Nepenthe– Hands down my favorite restaurant in CA. The laid back vibes combined with the stunning views and the delicious food keep me coming back at least once every time we visit Big Sur. Enjoy the sunset snuggled up with pillows and a good cocktail, around the fire pit!
  • Drinks in the creek– The River Inn is a beautiful resting point that pops up almost as soon as you enter the redwoods portion of Hwy 1. There is a store, a hotel, a restaurant and a few boutique shops. We love walking over in the evening for cocktail hour and relaxing in an adirondack chair in the middle of the creek. The sun always shines through the trees just so, and the cold water is refreshing. Not to mention sharing all of that with good friends and family!
  • Singing around the campfire– It started with hits from the 90s one night and ended with patriotic tunes on the 4th of July. It was a memory I will never forget: watching all my loved ones, their faces glowing in the fire, trying to remember words to songs we used to know by heart.

Hosting a Bachelor/Bachelorette Viewing Party with Mrs!

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We watch the Bachelor or Bachelorette religiously and one of my favorite things to do is host viewing parties. Next time a group of your friends gets together to indulge in this guilty pleasure TV show, use the episode as the theme for the party and serve up some delicious food and saucy cocktails!  

Signature Food-

“The Bachelorette (Bachelor) in Pennsylvania Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches”

  • Thinly sliced steak, onions, peppers and mushrooms grilled
  • Various toppings like mayo, ketchup, american cheese or cheese whiz!
  • Everyone build your own!

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Signature Drink-

“Between the Sheets” pairs perfectly with the Fantasy Suite episode in any season.

  • 1.5 oz. Cognac
  • .5 oz. Benedictine
  • .5 oz. Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Other ideas:

  • “The Bachelor (Bachelorette) in Italy Pasta Bar”
  • “The Bachelorette (Bachelor) in Texas Chips and Queso”
  • “The Bachelorette (Bachelor) in Thailand Homemade Curry”
  • “Night One Flame of Love Martini”
  • “The Villain Episode” a Whiskey Sour, or Rusty Nail named for that season’s particular villain.
  • “The Two-on-One Date Episode” a Screwdriver or Stinger

**All cocktails were found in a Vintage Cocktails book from Anthropologie.

Mr’s Trick for Consuming Less Sugar!

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We’ve all been learning recently about how bad sugar is for us, so Rob decided about a year ago that he wanted to be more aware of how much sugar he was eating. So like we do with a lot of our healthy lifestyle habits, he made it into a game. He can only eat dessert or sweets every 2+ weeks. In the beginning he used an app to track when he had dessert. It held him accountable so that he could get through the initial withdrawal (both physically and situationally) of not having sugar, until a routine was established and he could keep track in his head. Now that he only has it every two weeks, he doesn’t crave it like he used to.

He plans out his dessert consumption weeks in advance to make sure he can enjoy special events like holidays, birthdays or anniversaries and he is very strict about his rule. I’ve only seen him break it once and it was more about being polite than having the dessert. This trick has definitely helped him consume less sugar, but it has also made eating dessert more special. Anticipating the next time he will have something sweet makes it feel like an event and therefore he is more aware of what he is eating instead of mindlessly picking at something I’ve ordered.

Homesick Surprises for Mrs

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Anytime I’ve been away from the Bay Area, I’ve been homesick for it. It is where I grew up and where I have called home for the majority of my life. A few months ago though, when I was getting that familiar nostalgic feeling in my gut and my heart, I was surprised. I wasn’t feeling homesick for just one place. I was homesick for both the Bay Area and NYC. 

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Before we began this nomadic lifestyle almost two years ago, I thought a lot about how moving every few months would affect us. The things I thought about were obvious. I wanted to make sure we made new friends when we moved. I wanted our temporary houses to have the comfortable feeling of being home.  I even thought about what the best way for us to get our exercise in would be. But the thought never occurred to me to prepare to be homesick for two places at the same time. And what surprised me even more than that was that I was homesick for a place I had only lived in for 14 months!

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It was strange to me at first, but now when I have those moments of homesickness, I laugh a little at what the heart decides to grow fond of, feel glad that the feelings I had about leaving NYC haven’t wavered and I acknowledge how fortunate I am to have more than one place to feel homesick for.

Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs: Fates and Furies

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Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Overall: 4 stars (out of 5)

Recommended: Yes!

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Lauren Groff’s writing style in Fates and Furies is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. She uses what’s called “third person omniscient point of view” and I found this particularly effective at making the novel feel more intimate. Because the narrator (and subsequently me as the reader) knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters, I felt like I wasn’t just reading about them, I was them. Their thoughts and feelings were my thoughts and feelings. I got lost in the story more than I have in any story I’ve read before this one. Simply saying ‘I couldn’t put it down’, does not adequately describe how much I enjoyed this book. There was a physical need I felt to be reading this book when I wasn’t. My mind craved being in the character’s minds.

I prefer to be transported into a reality far from mine when I read a book or watch a movie. Surprisingly, the fact that the novel didn’t transport me was what I loved most about it. It was a real love story. It was not told through a filtered lens. It was raw and uncomfortable with happy and sad endings. It was dramatic, passionate, and full of secrets. I could have been reading about my own love story, or yours.

If you’re looking for a book to read this summer, I highly recommend Fates and Furies!

Mr & Mrs Camp in Yosemite!

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For years, Rob’s family has gone on an annual camping trip to Yosemite Valley. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to partake in this tradition in recent years because of our schedules so this year I wanted to make it happen. We started planning a year ago (reservations open a year in advance and fill up quickly) for a camping trip over Memorial Day 2016. We spent four nights and three full days enjoying the scenery and spending time with both Rob’s family and mine.  

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Relaxing after a steep, 3.6 mile hike to the top of Yosemite Falls

The trip flew by in a blur of steep hiking (Yosemite Falls and The Mist Trail), dueling camp coffee (Keurig in one, french press in the other), rain and thunderstorms (including while we were floating the Merced River), bonfires, s’mores, vodka soaked gummy bears (thanks neighbor Rose!), feisty squirrels, critters in our “cabins” (racoons, mice oh my!), stunning views, and massively starry nights.

We stayed in the Housekeeping Camp area which is comprised of 75+ “cabins”. I write “cabins” in quotes because while they have a concrete floor and three walls made of concrete, the door is simply a canvas curtain. Each site has a canvas roof that covers both the sleeping area and the outside, semi-private, eating area. Inside they are equipped with one metal shelf, one set of twin bunk beds and one full size bed. There is electricity at each site, and the running water and bathrooms are a short walk away. You are not fully “roughing it”, but you are also not living in the lap of luxury either.

Rob and I applied for the pre-season Half Dome permits lottery in March, and each of the daily lotteries while we were in Yosemite but had no luck. While I am not a huge fan of intense hikes, climbing Half Dome is something I have decided I want to do before we have kids. Next year we plan to apply for a bunch of different weekends to up our chances of winning.

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Group dinner- Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Memorial Day Weekend marked the beginning of a summer full of traveling and we couldn’t have asked for a more fabulous start! We’ve already started planning for next year and hope that we can keep participating in this tradition for years to come!

Mrs’ Tips and Tricks for Being Your Own Boss

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IMG_2295 (5)Rob has been working for himself since before I met him and I have always been in awe of his ability to wake up and start work immediately. I have never had a work ethic like that so when I segued to working for myself almost five years ago, it was a challenge. After a few weeks of doing everything except actual work (think taking naps, getting my nails done and indulging in boozy lunches instead), I realized that I actually needed the structure that comes with a 9-5 job. However, I didn’t want a 9-5 job. I wanted to be my own boss. So for the last five years I have been tweaking and honing ideas and tricks that give me the structure I need to be productive without sacrificing the lifestyle that comes with working for myself.

My tips and tricks at this point:

Wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every night 

I am a snooze button addict. So to help me actually get going in the morning, I use a little tip Rob read about in Miracle Morning. I get out of bed and immediately brush my teeth. It’s an easy task that doesn’t require me to be fully awake, but after a couple of minutes of brushing I do wake up completely and am more likely to go to the gym or get in the shower than to get back into bed. Also, I try to stick to my weekday schedule on the weekends too, within reason. It makes getting up again on Monday morning a bit easier.

Go to the gym or a workout class first thing in the morning

If I don’t workout as soon as I wake up, the chances of me doing it later are slim to none. Plus it’s another way to fully wake myself up and be ready for the day.

Get ready for the day

I shower, put an outfit on, do my makeup and hair, and eat breakfast. Just like I would if I were going to a regular 9-5 job. It’s easy to simply start working, but I like feeling put together even if I am just going to be sitting at my home office all day. Staying in my pjs or workout clothes all day makes me feel lazy and I am more likely to get distracted by things that are not work. Like naps or Gilmore Girl reruns.

Go to a dedicated work space at home, or a coffee shop

Having a dedicated workspace helps me mentally separate when I should be in work mode and when I should be in relaxation mode. When I sit down at my desk, it is time to start work. When I leave my desk for the day, I can mentally leave work behind too and am then able to fully embrace my leisure time. Also, if I am having trouble focusing on work, I change up my location by either heading to a coffee shop if I’m home or heading home if I am at a coffee shop. The change in scenery clears my head and gets me back on track.

Make lists upon lists

I have a running to do list that I put everything that pops into my head on and then from there I make my daily to do lists. This helps keep me focused and makes sure nothing important that I need to do slips through the cracks. I also pad my list with a few easy to accomplish items. They are great to do when I am feeling tired, or not motivated. I complete an easy task or two and cross them off. When my to do list gets shorter it motivates me to tackle the bigger stuff. Plus the smaller stuff usually requires less brain power, so it’s a nice mental break.

Break the work day into segments

I have three projects I am working on currently so I divide my day into two 3 hour segments and one 2 hour segment. I plug the projects that need more attention that day into the 3 hour segments and put the other project in the 2 hour segment. I set an alarm and work on each project for an hour at a time. Focusing on one project at time ensures that that project gets my full attention. I am much more productive when I have to get things done within a smaller time frame. If I have 8 hours to get my whole to do list done, I tend to procrastinate and then feel frustrated at the end of the day when I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked.

Take a Break!

I would say 90% of my days follow the schedule above. From time to time I alter it to allow me to enjoy some of the perks of being my own boss. Like extended lunches with my friends, getting a mani/pedi in the middle of the day or even taking a nap! I partake in all of these things in moderation, of course. If a majority of my days are productive ones then I can indulge and not feel guilty ever once in awhile. I feel that enjoying the perks of being my own boss is just as important as doing my work. Why else would I leave the stability of a 9-5?!

I am still working out the kinks of working for myself, but I have been loving it and I hope I am lucky enough to be my own boss for the rest of my life!

PS- If you have been interested in taking the leap and becoming your own boss, you should check out my friend’s new company Daylancer. They pair freelancers with companies who need their services. You don’t have to be a graphic designer, writer or anything else that you think of when you think freelancer to do freelancing. Any skill that you possess can be used in freelancing. However, it can be a daunting hurdle to go from a steady paycheck to having to hustle to get jobs to put money in your bank account. That’s where Frank and his team come in. They will take that stress and pressure off your shoulders and even help you negotiate what you should get paid for each project! Having Daylancer on your side will make the transition from your 9-5 job to being your own boss a seamless one!

Mrs Tries Out ‘Spotify Running’!

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I am not a runner. However, despite my inner protests, I get on a treadmill or hit the pavement a few times a week because it’s the type of workout that challenges me the most. To keep my energy up and to distract me from my desire to stop, I need a good playlist. Almost a year ago, when I heard that Spotify was launching a new feature called Spotify Running, I actually got excited to go for a run and try it out! Obviously it has taken me a while to act on that excitement because running is not my favorite thing, but I’ve finally tried it out and have felt a difference in my attitude and my performance during my runs.

How it works:

-Select ‘running’ under moods in the browse section

-Pick a genre (I usually opt for ‘Recommended for You’)

-Start running

Spotify will detect your pace and play songs that match your cadence. From there you can kick it up a notch or slow it down and Spotify will alter the playlist accordingly. What I love most about this feature is that it doesn’t start a song from the beginning and play it to the end. The songs start where the rhythm matches my cadence the best and fade into the next song with no lag time between. No more losing steam waiting for one song to start after the previous song has ended. No more slowing down at the beginning of the song before the beat has dropped. It keeps my energy up, plays songs that I love and songs that I didn’t know I loved, and my runs are over before I know it!
Have you tried Spotify Running? How do you like this feature?

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