29 before 29 Update

The past couple weeks have been crazy busy and from here until the end of October it will only get more and more crazy.  So if the blog kind of goes neglected, you’ll know why (whomever you may be reading this).

I thought I’d do an update to my 29 before 29 list.  So far so good with a couple of the items to be accomplished next month on the cruise.  However, doing this check-in has motivated me to prioritize this list which is great because I want to accomplish these soon!

29 before 29

1.  See a movie at the drive-in theater

2. Make an emergency kit and plan

3. Make a t-shirt quilt

4. Visit the Hearst Castle

5. Learn to sew

6. Travel to Italy & the Mediterranean area

7. Visit Bodega Bay

8. Ride a gondola in Venice, Italy

9. Attend a masquerade ball

10. Go on a date with Adam at least once a month (something fun, creative, and possibly new place for us) (This is happening every month which is great!)

11. Read a new book every other month

12.  Write reviews for all my bookmarked  YELP places (hopefully)

13. Paint 2nd bedroom and reorganize it (Just reorganized it)

14. Cook more meals

15. Go on a hot air balloon ride (possibly in Napa)

16. Go skiing at least twice during the season (this may be completed past January 27th)

17. Study to become a better photographer

18. Wake up earlier and exercise before work

19. Brush Dexter’s teeth

20. Build my blog more and write on a regular basis (1-2 posts a week)

21. Hang curtains on all windows in our home (Delayed until after November)

22. Have phone calls and video chats with friends more

23. Bake more (cookies, cakes, pies, candy, you name it and I’ll do it!)

24. Travel to a U.S. state I’ve never been to before (Texas for the UofM/Alabama game)

25. Complete unfinished craft projects (Mom’s scrapbook, Mom’s recipe binder, my recipe binder)

26. Go to the cider mill and pumpkin patch

27. Pick your own fruit at an orchard

28. Re-use more and conserve more

29. Take advantage of our amazing surroundings and explore new parts of Northern California we’ve never been to or haven’t been to in a while (Marin county, Sonoma county, Pescadero, Mendocino to name a few (Gone to a few places so far)


Throwback Thursday

The past couple weeks have been super busy in my world.  Hence, the absence of posts here on the blog.  Now I’m coming back with a great look back on a very young Jackie!

My Dad, my Mom, and me in 1985.  Aww!

Here is a great picture of my younger brother Austin, me, and my younger sister Jozlynn at Halloween.  Yes, that’s me as the Little Mermaid!

The family at Christmas!  Gotta love fashion in 1990!


Confessional Friday

Hooray it’s Friday!  As always, I’m linking up with Leslie at A Blonde Ambition for Confessional Friday.  Are you?

1.  I am in love with my family’s new dog, Sophie.  She is a doll!  Sophie is sweet, well-behaved, calm, friendly, and very loyal.

2.  I secretly hope Dexter and Sophie become BFFs and cuddle together sometime.

3.  I am so pumped for Fall TV shows to start!  I am counting down the days until Dexter (the TV show), Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, and RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars to name a few.

4.  I am very excited to visit Hearst Castle this weekend!  I get to check it off my list!

5.  I just love that Dan on Big Brother wears so much Michigan State University gear!  It’s too bad though Danielle, who he works with in the game, wears Alabama merchandise…boo ‘Bama.

6.  It’s a dream of mine to be on Big Brother.  I know I could do the social game and the physical challenges but being away from Dexter, family and friends, and cut off from the outside world would be very hard.

7.  I make a list of things to do everyday. Writing this blog entry was on the list.

8.  I yell at every commercial for Katie Couric’s new daytime talk show.  I can’t stand her and her need for a talk show.

9.  I’m excited for the 49ers game tonight!  FOREVER FAITHFUL!  I get to wear my new shirt and cheer the team on with friends and family.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


My Lactose Free Anniversary

It was a year ago in late July/early August that I cut lactose out of my life.

Since the fall of 2010 I had not been feeling well.  It started off slow with occasional stomach pains after I ate and ended with me gaining 15-20 pounds.  I felt tired, sluggish, bloated, had numerous headaches, and other things I won’t mention (you can thank me).  Adam and I thought it might be lactose or gluten that was causing this so I cut out dairy for a couple days to see what I felt like.

Here’s where I and many people are wrong in testing for allergies to food:

1)  You need to cut out the potential cause for a full 2 week period.  It takes a couple days just to fully get the cause out of your system.

2)  For lactose, you can’t just cut out milk, butter, ice cream, creamer, sour cream, ect or anything made with such products.  Yes, those are the most obvious.  However, did you know that lots of bread out there has milk or a milk powder in it?  You have to look at EVERY label and EVERY recipe to see what is included.  They sneak milk, cream, and butter into a LOT of foods to add flavor.  Don’t just look for those because to test for lactose intolerance you must also look for: whey (used a lot- it’s a by product of cheese making), dairy solids, margarine, non-fat dried milk, milk powders, ect.

So I went to my doctor and she was pretty sure that, based on my symptoms and everything, that it was lactose causing my digestive issues, weight gain, tiredness, and headaches/migraines for almost a year.  She had me go weeks completely lactose free and also get blood work done to rule out a gluten allergy, thyroid issues, and some other potential causes.  While I waited for my blood work I researched EVERYTHING to look for on packages that were under the lactose umbrella.  Adam or my Mom would say “Oh you can have this” and I would double check and see it contained whey.  I was scanning every label of everything I ate to make sure I was completely cutting everything I was supposed to this time.  And you know what?  I felt fantastic halfway through the 2 week period!  I had not felt so good physically in a long time.  It’s hard to describe in words how good I was feeling but I was beginning to see improvements everywhere.  The weight was dropping off and my digestive issues were clearing up.  My blood work was negative for everything which was good because cutting out lactose was hard and I couldn’t imagine cutting out gluten in my life.  At the end of the two weeks, I told my doctor about the results and she agreed that something changed in my body and lactose was the cause.

I’ve tried many products over the past year that are lactose-free and I have to say I am very satisfied with the options out there.  It’s hard when I’m out at restaurants because I have to limit what I can eat, avoid the bread basket, and ask how the dishes are prepared (most dishes are prepared in butter).  I’ve learned that I have to ask and not be afraid to ask them to prepare a dish in olive oil.  I haven’t run into a single person who wasn’t accommodating to my dietary requests :)

I’m always testing out new products or ways to prepare food lactose-free.  So if you find yourself in the same boat as me or you want to live a more vegan lifestyle here are some of my favorite lactose-free products:

French Vanilla Silk Coffee Creamer

Whole Soy & Co Soy Yogurt (I love Mixed Berry, Strawberry, and Blueberry)

SO Delicious Minis (They are seriously SO frickin’ delicious.  No joke.  Only 100 calories too!)

SO Delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl (SO tasty and SO amazing!  You really have to try this.)

zpizza’s Berkeley Vegan Pizza (They are a pizza place around us and they make such great vegan pizza!)

Dang, now I want an ice cream sandwich.  Luckily some are in my freezer at home!


Confessional Friday

T.G.I.F.  So true!  It’s Friday and it’s time to confess a little…

1.  I usually go to my Chiropractor on Mondays so I drove there this Monday after work.  Low and behold it was closed.  As I’m standing there at the door I remembered my appointment was moved to Tuesday because my Chiropractor was out of town for the week and the office was only open a couple days with a visiting Chiropractor.  Oh boy Jackie.

2.  I confess I no longer hate Shane on Big Brother (see previous Confessional Friday).  Him, Dan, Danielle, and Britney are my favorites and who I want to make it to the final four in the game.  Oh and Joe…please stop yelling in the Diary Room!!  You are miked 24/7 dummy!

3.  I confess that I love Zoey 101.  Why yes, it is a teen show that ran for four seasons on TeenNick.  It starred Jaime Lynn Spears (Britney Spears’ sister) and I just love it.  Judge me all you want but it’s a great guilty pleasure.

4.  I’m went to yoga on Sunday for the first time in almost a year…now my body is paying for it.

5.  I confess I give myself an F- for working out before work this week.  I wake up between 6-7am every morning naturally yet I stay in bed.  Dang you comfy and warm bed!  My new plan is just to get up out of bed the very first time I wake up rather than staying in bed.

6.  I finally gave in and stopped into Office Depot on my way home from work one day.  I have a love for all office supplies big and small.  So many pretties!

so pretty!

New Doggy!

The newest addition to the family,  Sophie!

My parents have been looking into getting a dog for a while now.  Since my Mom volunteers at Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) she sees a lot of the available dogs there and heard about one dog she wanted to meet.  So we decided that we’d all go to ARF and see this dog and determine if he would be a good fit for my parents.   Adam and I were already going to be at ARF that morning for a volunteering class so my parents were going to meet us there.

When my parents arrived, my Mom went to ask where the dog was that she wanted to see.  While we waited to meet with an adoption counselor we looked at other dogs there.  My Dad flagged us over to see this beautiful and sweet black Labrador Retriever mix named “Patty”.  Adam and I said, “Oh it’s meant to be!  Patty and Patty!”.  My mom liked her as well and we decided that we would also meet with “Patty” and see how she was with us.  After hearing more about the initial dog and his behavior issues, my parents determined that it would not be a good fit.  We moved into a room so we could meet “Patty”.  I’ll never forget when she came in and greeted each of us with such a sweet demeanor!  She sat down up against us and was so calm when interacting with us leaving smiles on all of our faces.  The counselor let us take her outside to the an enclosed area to hang out with her more and we all loved her and how loving she was towards us all!

Me, Adam, my Mom, and my Dad with “Patty” in our ARF adoption photo.

So my parents adopted “Patty”!  Since my parents were going out of town the next day we had her stay at ARF until Wednesday when my parents could pick her up.  It was tough not to bring her home to my parent’s house right then and there!

Fast forward to yesterday and we took Dexter over to meet his new doggy friend/aunt!  Him and Sammie were the most curious about Sophie and stalked her like paparazzi.  We were very surprised at how well Dexter was when he saw Sophie.  He usually runs away from things that scare him and then come back slowly to see what’s up but this time he puffed himself up and froze, never running away!  Sophie is pretty indifferent to all the cats right now plus she’s just a calm, well-behaved, and sweet dog so she wouldn’t approach the cats anyways.

Dexter and Sammie carefully stalking Sophie

So very curious!

Dexter is wondering what this animal is doing laying next to his Mom

We had Sophie come out in the backyard and she seemed to enjoy being around us out there.  Dexter was pretty concerned why he wasn’t outside with us.

Isn’t she just the sweetest and cutest doggy?!

Remember:  If you are looking to add a cat or dog to your family, check out ARF first!  By adopting your animal from ARF, it opens up a spot for them to get one more dog when they go to the shelters.  You’re not only saving one life, but two!  Last week, 21 dogs and 10 cats were adopted and found their “forever homes”.

If you missed my post about adopting Dexter from ARF, check it out!  I cannot say enough great things about them and the work they do.

{Wedding Wednesday} Trend I’m Loving: Bridesmaid Invitations

Did you know today, August 1st, is National Girlfriends Day?

I love all of my gal pals both near and far!

So in honor of those special gal pals in a Bride’s life, let’s talk about them!

Me and my bridal party!  Beautiful ladies and wonderful memories!

Once you’ve decided who will be a part of your bridal party, it’s time to ask them.  One trend I’m seeing lately on a lot of bridal blogs and in wedding photos is sending out “invitation gifts” to the ladies instead of just simply verbally asking them.  I just love this idea!  I wish I had thought of it when I was asking my ladies.  It’s such a cute and creative way to put some extra effort to show your ladies how much they mean to you.  Plus, it means that you can bust out your glitter and ribbon and have an excuse to hit up JoAnn’s (like you need an excuse).

However you ask your ladies is totally based on you and your friends.  If crafting is not something you enjoy or have the time for, then spending hours making a hand crafted box of goodies for eight bridesmaids is not for you.  Maybe you and your friends are more into technology and social media so asking them in a text, with a phone call, or in an email is perfect.

If you are looking for a creative way to “invite” or ask your friends to be a bridesmaid, here are some very cute and easy ways:

1)  Send them a cute card (handmade or not)

Really cute cards from Rifle Paper for your bridesmaids!  They also have one for your Maid of Honor(s).

Personalized and handmade cards are always a nice touch :)

2)  Assemble a package

These packages will take more time but turn out so well!  Click on the links below the pictures for details on how to assemble them.

Very vintage and shabby chic!

3)  Personalized items

Want something fun and yet personalized?  These items are unique to the bridesmaids and also are items they will enjoy!

Give them some great wine!  You could make your Maid/Matron of Honor(s) invite different by giving them champagne!

This is a cute idea and make each one different with a cute message for each member.  Plus, the chalkboard frame could be used for another part of your wedding.

More of a baker?  Send them something sweet like this ombre cupcake in a mason jar!  They included a spoon and some really cute homemade “Will you be my bridesmaid?” napkins.  I know all the Pi Phis are loving those napkins!

4)  Put together a bridesmaid survival kit

You can put together a fun kit for your ladies that include some fun items they’ll need during their time as a bridesmaid.   This is something you can really have fun with and really put your unique touch on!

You can do so much with this idea and really make it your own.  I love that you can make it really reflect who you are and your relationship with the special ladies in your life.  How did you ask your bridesmaids?

Happy National Girlfriends Day!  Reach out to your girlfriends today and let them know how much they mean to you!


Bride Tip Tuesday

I tell this to everyone who gets married.  It’s so important to step back and be an observer at your own wedding.  I can still remember how I felt when I stepped into the reception space all decorated for the first time.  The venue had Adam and I come in before the guests entered so we could see the space before the party started.  One of my favorite memories!

Take a moment before you walk down the aisle, at your reception, and during your first dance to savor the moment.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.


{Wedding Wednesday} Last Minute Wedding To-Dos

Let’s be honest — even the most organized bride can’t remember it all.  It’s just not possible given the emotions you’re going through in the days leading up to the wedding day.  With so many people interact with and so much going on it’s easy to lose track of certain things.  Fear not brides!  I have compiled a list “last minute to-dos” that will only ensure your big day and the days following it go smoothly.  In my experience as a bride, I highly recommend them all!

Jackie’s “Last Minute Wedding To-Dos” List

Important Documents & Items to Remember

  • Make sure you  or your groom designates someone to ensure the marriage license makes it to the ceremony!  After it has been signed you should have that person or a family member make sure that it’s delivered to your room or perhaps in the possession of a responsible family member.  You don’t want to lose it!
  • Make sure that who you have put in charge of the wedding rings has them and brings them to the ceremony!  In fact, double and triple check on this.
  • Designate someone to bring the cake knife, champagne glasses, place cards, drink menu, menus, favors, guestbook with pen/stamps/ect. to the reception venue.  Make sure that person gives the items and instructions to whomever is handling the event.  This was something that my wedding coordinator reminded us of in the days before the wedding and something that you might not think about.  (Important:  Make sure you have someone pick the items up at the end of the night!)
  • Designate someone to pick up and return the cake parts (for the deposit return).
  • Designate someone to deliver the wedding ceremony programs to the ceremony site.  You can have your ushers or someone else pass them out to guests or place them on the seating.
  • Gather your hair accessories, undergarment, and jewelry and keep them with your dress.  This insures that you won’t misplace them and not have them when getting ready.
  • Gather your “something old, something new” items (blanking on what the other two are?  borrowed and blue :)) and any other sentimental items you wish to have with you.

The Wedding Day

  • Choose someone (a friend, bridesmaid, Maid of Honor, family member, ect) to be your “point person” for the day if you don’t have a wedding coordinator.  This person can handle emergencies, get things for you, make sure everyone is where they should be, handle random tasks, and make sure you are eating & staying hydrated.  You should be relaxed on your day and have someone else worry about things.
  • Pack an emergency kit and have your Maid of Honor keep ahold of it.  Just in case something happens while getting ready or waiting to walk down the aisle – you’ll be prepared!  Don’t know what to pack?  Here’s a list to start with:
    • Aspirin (or pain reliever of choice)
    • Antacids
    • Band-Aids
    • Bottle of water
    • Chalk (to cover up any last minute smudges or smears on your dress)
    • Clear nail polish (for stocking runs)
    • Dental floss/toothpicks
    • Eye drops
    • Extra earring backs
    • Extra panty hose
    • Hair pins/ponytail holder
    • Mini sewing kit
    • Safety pins
    • Scotch tape
    • Small scissors
    • Spot remover
    • Static-cling spray
    • Straws (so you and your bridesmaids can stay hydrated without messing up your lipstick)
    • Tissues
    • Tweezers
  • Pack essentials in a small clutch for yourself and have someone place it under your chair in the reception.  Make sure to include:
    • License (you never know if they will card you)
    • Breath mints
    • Cell phone (with ringer off)
    • Brush
    • Extra bobby pins and/or hair tie
    • Lipstick and/or lip gloss
    • Cash
    • Compact mirror
  • Designate someone to meet, greet, and handle the vendors on the day.  Make sure your vendors have two other people’s contact information besides your own.  Do not have yourself or your groom as the primary person to contact because you should enjoy your day and not be fielding questions or issues from vendors.
  • Designate someone to collect any wedding gifts, cards, and money from the reception.  Traditionally, this is the Best Man but it can be anyone you choose.

Wedding Night & Honeymoon

  • Pack your clothes and toiletries for the night of the wedding.  Put someone in charge of making sure it’s in the room if you will be changing for the wedding in a different location.
  • If you are leaving for your honeymoon right after the wedding make sure your suitcase(s) are with you.  You can have the same person handle these bags that is handling your wedding night bag.  Make sure to include your checkbook, license and credit cards, extra cash, car and hotel keys, and (if needed) tickets and passports.
  • Leave a copy of your honeymoon itinerary, flight information, and passport copies with someone in case of an emergency.

That list should help you immensely and put your mind at ease!  If you do nothing else, drink plenty of water and remember how you feel at certain moments of the day.  Taking a step back and looking at the moment from the outside helps to keep the memories stronger.  It’s true what everyone says:  the day does go by so fast!