dear mom

it was nearly three years ago when i was on the hunt for a gym to join.  i searched high and low and finally settled on orangetheory fitness.  there were a couple main motivators to this decision.  first, they had early classes.  early classes, kelsey?  everyone has early classes.  no, folks, i’m talking five a.m. early.  i’m a busy lady with lots to do and no time to waste, so the earlier the better in this case.  second, the classes are no larger than 24 people and are led by a trainer.  i’ve never been one to lace up my sneakers and make up my own workout, so having someone telling me what to do tends to work pretty well.

so, it’s hundreds of classes later (okay, maybe not hundreds but certainly lots!) and i’m still going strong.  you might be wondering what motivates me to peel myself out of bed a few times a week so early to exercise.  well, part of it, in all honesty, is the fact that orangetheory fitness members pay a bit of a premium.  another factor is that i do truly want to do right by my body.  i mean, i’m not signing up for any bodybuilding competitions anytime soon, but i’m doing my part.  finally, i have someone to keep me accountable:  my mother.

my mom tori asked me about orangetheory last spring, curious to know more since they were building one just down the road from my parents’ neighborhood in birmingham.  i remember very exactly the scene:  i was sitting in the courtyard of my building, drinking starbucks while reading or napping or doing something else relaxing.  my mom called to catch up on anything and everything and then eventually brought up orangetheory.

“i’m not so sure about it, kelsey.  i mean, is it for young people?  i’m not very flexible.”

“oh, mom.  it’s for everyone!  you go at your own pace, whatever it is.  and if something is too difficult, they always have a modified version of the exercise.  all the trainers have been really nice and encouraging.  you should try it!”

“ah, maybe.”

“well, you can at least go for the free class and see what you think.  who knows, maybe you’ll love it.”

and that, folks, was how it went.  the next thing i knew my mom was addicted.  she was practically going more often than me!  she’d call in the evening and ask if i’d gone to class that day and then politely brag about how many reps she did in the weight room.  😉  it has been perfectly sweet to see her start out and now watch as she has become a regular at her local studio.

the orangetheory fun was elevated this past week as hell week was upon us.  for eight days straight, the workouts were going to be more difficult than they normally are, and the challenge was to go at least five out of the eight days.  i’d known about hell week for a while but hadn’t given it a second thought.  it was at that moment that my mom called to ask if i’d signed up.

“hah, i hadn’t really considered it!  are you going to do it?”

“of course i am!” she replied without missing a beat.

“oh, well!  i guess i need to get myself on the list!  how many classes are you going to do?”

“all eight, young lady!”

“oh my!  well, if you say so!”

so, hell week came bright and early last monday at five a.m. for me.  each day i mentally counted down from eight to seven to six to five and then all the way down to one.  every day of hell week my mom texted and called me to see what i thought of the workout.  we laughed about the 90 squats we had to do one day and i moaned and groaned about the burpee challenge we had on another.  it was after day seven, this past sunday, that i called my mom in a bit of a grumpy mood.

“ugh, i just did not have fun today in class.  my legs were tired and i didn’t really know anyone and all i wanted to do was sleep.”

“well, then don’t go tomorrow.  listen to your body and take the day off.” she consoled.

“i can’t do that.  i’ve already done seven of the eight days.  plus, i don’t want to disappoint you.”

“oh, kelsey, you can’t do this for me.  you have to do it for yourself.  that’s why i’m doing it.  i wanted to challenge myself and see if i could do it.”

“i know, but i committed to doing it and doing it together with you.  my little engine is just running low, that’s all.”

so, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering, “what is the deal with this post?  what is this about?”  folks, it is about my remarkable mother.  this post is fully dedicated to the woman i look up to most.  these dialogues are a brief glimpse into who she is and what she has taught me.  this post is a thank-you, a thank-you that will never capture it all but will certainly try.

“dear mom,

there are many things this letter needs to say, and i think a good place to start is for all the things that make me grateful for you.  first, i am grateful for my relationship with you.  so many people do not have relationships with their mothers, either by choice or circumstance, and as i have grown up, i have learned and continue to be aware of how lucky i am to have the friendship i have with you.  our relationship has changed and evolved not only as i have moved from home to school to career to adulthood but as you have also moved through phases of life.  you regularly tell me that you loved kyle, clark, and i as kids but so much enjoy the adult friendships we have today.  i think part of the reason i can agree with that is because as i continue to grow into the woman i will become, i realize how much like you i am.

this is something else i am grateful for:  the fact that i am very much my mother’s daughter.  you might not know this, but kyle and clark have commented that when the day comes (a very, very long time from now) when you are no longer with us that you really won’t be gone because i embody so much of who you are.  i take this as a compliment of the highest degree and think this is something you should know.  thank you for passing onto me things like compassion, creativity, and love.  thank you (and dad, of course) for instilling virtues in me like patience, honesty, and loyalty.  so much of what i do, even in my day-to-day, is done with those still voices of you and dad, encouraging me to do the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t always easy.

thank you for teaching me to respect others and to respect myself.  i learned a long time ago that you don’t always know someone’s situations or circumstances, and these unknowns in life help me practice grace.  i know that you and i both believe we’ve been given grace from above, time and time again, and the least we can do is practice grace for others.

thank you for showing me that although family and friends bring me joy, i’m ultimately the only one responsible for my happiness.  happiness isn’t always going to fall in my lap, and i deserve more than to sit around and wait for it.  your adventurous spirit inspires me to seek out new places and experiences that only make me more of a citizen of the world.  i couldn’t be more thankful that i inherited your natural curiosity about people and places; i promise to never stop venturing.

the list of thanks could go on and on; however, i want to spend the rest of this letter saying how amazing i think you are.  you have such personal will.  you are someone who sets her mind to a task or challenge and rises to the occasion.  even if a limit does exist, you are glad to push yourself, often revealing strength in the end.  i have always taken special pride in your work ethic, and i hope that the life i am leading and will continue to discover makes you proud of me in this same way.

i think you are beautiful.  i love the laugh lines on your face and the tinsel in your hair.  i’m happy to say that i am infatuated with the greys i’m already donning myself.  whether playing in your garden or dressed up for a special occasion, you are always glowing.  i hope i have that when i grow as wise as you.

i think you are deserving of every good thing that can come to you.  i think you have worked so hard for yourself and your family that there are never enough words to express our gratitude.  i think you are a very special person who has inspired much of who i am.  all the good in me comes from you and dad, and i hope that all the years that have passed have been worth the while.

even though it’s not enough, i hope that everything i’ve written here is something you already know.  i hope you already know how much i look up to you for advice and guidance and comfort.  i hope you are already aware of how happy i am that i am very much like you.  i hope you know that i will always need you and that i know you will always be here for me.

with all the love a girl can have for her mother,

babycakes.”

the final word!

ladies and gentlemen, i am reporting to you live as the final presidential debate takes place between mr. donald trump and mrs. hillary clinton.  i have once again found myself out of town for this entertaining and informative viewing, this time coming to you direct from west palm beach!  i will admit that splitting my attention between blogging and listening is a bit of a task, but i will do my best.

in response to my previous post about the second presidential debate, my lovely friend courtney replied that i should enjoy the final presidential debate by enjoying chips and guacamole while listening to some billy joel.  well, ask and you shall receive!  as things at my client site wound down, i asked them for a good mexican restaurant recommendation nearby.  after a little mumbling and collaborating, torero’s authentic mexican cuisine was suggested.  only about ten minutes from the office, it was rightly a no-brainer for me.  with google map’s turn-by-turn directions in the background, i let billy joel serenade me along the way.  give me more of that “uptown girl”, i beg you!

anyway!  the breezy atlantic winds were blowing strongly this evening, so i requested a seat outside on the patio.  although the food was delicious (and i’ll get to all of it shortly), the service left much to be desired.  after seating me at my table, i wasn’t waited on for about 15 minutes.  eh, not the best way to start the dinner.  however, i caught up on all my social media feeds and e-mail inboxes so i wasn’t too ruffled about the delay.

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it had been quite a day at the office, and with two more days on-site, i knew it was going to be a busy end of the week.  chips, salsa, and the large house margarita sounded like a bet i couldn’t lose, so that’s just what i started out with for my meal.

i took my time sipping on my beverage and snacking on some chips and eventually ordered, per courtney’s request, some guacamole.  i’ll be honest, the guacamole was less impressive than the salsa.  it’s not that it was bad; i ate the entire plate.  however, it wasn’t anything particularly special.  now, i don’t like to discriminate when it comes to guacamole because, let’s all be real, there’s not much better than avocados really any day of the week so i ate my dip contently.

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as i finished up my appetizers, i asked for an order of the fish tacos because, you know, i was in florida and fish tacos sounded like a good idea.  unfortunately, after taking my order the waitress returned to tell me, much to my dismay, that they did not have fish that night.  well, alrighty then…since i was still in the mood for tacos, i ordered a chorizo taco and, per the waitress’ recommendation, a steak taco.  well, i’ll say that these tacos were the highlight of the meal.  the chorizo wasn’t too spicy but was quite flavorful and the steak taco wasn’t overly filling.  i’d absolutely order these two tacos again, but with so much else on the menu, i’m sure i’d try something else if i were to return here to dine.

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so, with the end of this meal and this campaign on the horizon (and i know many of you are awaiting its close), i want to kindly thank everyone for participating in my campaign and debate journey in good fun.  i also want to say how impressed i am with the attention my peers are giving to this election, knowing that the outcome will affect our very near future very soon.  if you’re registered to vote, i encourage you to exercise your american right to make your voice heard.  let’s start the show!

#debates2016 – part deux

for those of you who are not connected with me on good ‘ole facebook, let me catch you up:  a few weeks ago before the first presidential debate, i posted “what do you think presidential candidates do before a debate?  do you think they eat their favorite foods and listen to their favorite music?  i hope so, and if it were me, it’d be raining #cheezits and #beyonce would be on full blast.”  that was part one, and part one was a hoot!  a bunch of my friends responded to this prompt and i decided to take action.  this evening i gathered all the suggested snacks and enjoyed them in the comforts of my hotel room.  cheez-its?  check.  kit-kats?  check.  cheetos?  check.  the only one i wasn’t able to get specifically were the dunkaroos suggested by courtney.  the hotel airport shops seem to not carry them!  so, in their place i had the on-the-go nutella/breadstick combo.  quite tasty, if i do say so myself!

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now, i had every intention of eating these things while actually watching the second presidential debate; however, my flight from lax to sacramento was wildly delayed.  as such, i spent those couple of hours on the plane, sipping chardonnay in first class.  i mean, if you’re going to be delayed, i suppose being delayed in first class is doable.  #freeupgrade!

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anyway.  in addition to the favorite foods part of this question, i also put together a special #debates2016 playlist on spotify.  per the suggestions of my amigos, it is a delightful mash-up of beyonce, britney spears, rihanna, marc broussard, miley cyrus, and girl talk.  girl talk was a new group to me, and i very much enjoyed their hip hop remixes in between marc’s touchy feely ballads, especially his Christmas album.  give me more of that “holy night”, marc!

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now, with one more presidential debate scheduled for wednesday, october 19th, i want to get the people involved.  i want you all to give me more of your snack and song favorites that i will happily consume and listen to in a couple weeks.  this menu is going to be of the people and for the people, just how it should be!  so, please be part of the fun and see how it all turns out!

p.s.  if anyone feels like recommending a jimmy john’s #9, i’d be just fine with that.  😀

the fall look

according to michael kors’ 2016 fall catalog, the colors plum and moss/hunter green are in this season.  well, i wasn’t ready to splurge on a fabulous handbag or garment (at least not just yet), but i figured i could get creative with how i incorporate these colors into my fall look.

yesterday i was out and about running errands, including a quick stop into ulta for some must-haves and want-to-haves.  i made my way to the nail care area and did a couple laps around the shelves.  the lovely thing about nail polish is that it comes in nearly any shade of the rainbow you can imagine.  this undeniable fact had me hopeful that i’d find just the shade i was seeking.  to no one’s surprise, there aren’t nearly as many green shades of polish as you might find pinks as reds, but i did at least find what i wanted:  a hunter green called front runner by opi.  when i first brushed it on my nails, it almost appeared blue-green.  but in the right light, it’s the excellent fall green i was wanting, especially out in the natural sun.

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now that i had my deep green fix, i enlisted the help of an employee to find a plum lipstick.  she showed me several samples, some too dark and others too pink.  we finally came upon, though, the one i would take home with me:  buxom’s matte big & sexy bold gel lipstick in vampy plum.  the matte is ultra chic, i think, and the color is very sensual against my rather light complexion.  i’m in love with this stuff already!  oh, and did i mention that the lipstick case is magnetic?  when i put the cap back on and realized it, i swear i died and went to makeup heaven.

ps:  if anyone finds they’re in a splurging mood, i’m all kinds of obsessed with mk’s faux-fur peacoat and the mercer tote in cinder.  just saying!  😀

pumpkin pie candles

earlier this week i had the strong urge to craft something.  nothing too involved, but something that would make me feel accomplished at the end of my efforts.  so, i browsed facebook and pinterest in search of something fall-ish, seeing as how the new season is just around the corner.  come on, september 22nd!

i’d say after about a half hour of hardcore scrolling, i finally came upon the craft that i would attempt to satisfy my creative needs:  a homemade pumpkin pie candle!  i mean, how much more autumn can you get?  the financial and time effort seemed relatively beginner-level, so i made a list, grabbed my reusable bags, and headed out the door to gather my supplies.  i optimistically walked into the local binders art supply store, assured they would have everything i needed.  well, what do you know.  binders doesn’t offer candle-making supplies; the cashier told me i’d need to go to hobby lobby or michael’s to get that sort of stuff.  ah!  well, good thing there’s one right down the road from me.  discouraged not a bit, i drove right on down to michael’s and got everything i needed.  then, because i didn’t like the jars they had at michael’s, i moseyed into world market to find something cuter.  well, wouldn’t you know that they had just what i wanted!  i swear, world market is my soulmate store.  so, after finding a couple other things that looked like they would make me happy, i returned home with my purchases.

the first thing to do in this craft is prepare your oil so that it will be all pumpkin-infused.  this step was rather straightforward.  however, i highly recommend you follow davida’s instructions, which clearly state to not bring the oil to a boil, just a light simmer.  however, my patience was wearing thin when i saw no bubbles after about ten minutes, so i cranked up my stove to heat things up.  well, wouldn’t you know that the oil bubbled up (and nearly over) tremendously when i added the pumpkin pie spice.  oh, and i ruined a perfectly good spatula because the temperature was too high.  well, lesson learned…eventually i at last got the oil cooled off and put in a little jar to infuse for five days.

once the oil was infused, i was ready for the rest of the project.  i got the wicks all semi-attached to their jars, cute little raffia ribbons tied around them, and then got to work on melting that wax.  what i am going to advise here about the wax melting is this:  i highly recommend you use some older pots and spoons and ladles.  not that any of my kitchen supplies got ruined, but i had to soak the pot for a good two days just to try and loosen the wax so that i could actually wash the thing.

anyway, once the wax starts to melt (it won’t take long) go ahead and scoop out the liquid wax into your little jars.  i thought about pouring the wax directly from the pot to the jars but quickly reconsidered when i realized i only have two hands and probably needed four to truly do the job right.  besides, the ladle i have has little side spouts, so that made for easy pouring.

the only thing i will say that was difficult at this point was that i couldn’t really stir the infused oil with the wax.  the wax started clumping so quickly that the “ingredients” never really got mixed.  the result?  a funky looking candle, as you can see below.  now, am i proud of my craft?  well, of course!  i just hope that the lucky recipients of these cute little jars appreciate the homemade-ness of them.

regardless of my few mishaps, this craft was simple and fun and did awaken some fall sensations inside me.  once it’s officially autumn, i plan to bust out the scarves, soft boots, and psl’s immediately.  🙂

it’s alive!

folks, i want to proudly brag for a quick moment:  phillip and i have kept our plant alive for over a month!  yes, early in july we were at the home depot picking up some supplies, and i was inspired by our neighbors chris and suzy to adopt and bring home a special little something from mother nature herself.  after finding the shepherd hook and zip ties, we strolled up and down the plant aisles, looking for just the right one to call our own.  some of the selection was pretty with flowers and bright colors, but phillip picked out a great option for us:  a caladium.  needing only four to six hours of direct sunlight a day, the caladium was perfect considering we’ve got lots of leafy tree branches in our building’s courtyard.  we put it in the cart and then kindly asked a nearby employee for the proper fertilizer for a plant such as ours.  after deciding on the all purpose miracle-gro shake’n feed, we loaded up the buggie, checked out, and headed home.

with some help from kyle and milo, phillip secured the heck out of that hook to our landing railing.  i mean, this thing isn’t going anywhere in any storm!  then, they zip-tied the planter to the hook and voila!  the regular afternoon summer showers help keep it hydrated, and i’ll say i’ve been pretty good about watering it every couple of days.  and, per tori’s instruction, i’ve also been sure to prune any dead leaves to make room for fresh ones.  although i’ve never had much of a green thumb, i think my mother would be proud!

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himalayan sea salt lamps

say that five times fast!  i recently read from a fellow blogger about all the benefits of this very interesting decor choice known as the himalayan sea salt lamp.  as i learned about cleaner air, higher energy levels, neutralized electromagnetic radiation, better sleep, and improved mood and concentration, i couldn’t help but think, “how neat that a lamp that looks so cool can also do so much good!”

so, i began my search.  if you were to google “himalayan sea salt lamp,” you’d find a whole bunch of different websites and vendors.  i honestly didn’t know where to start and had no clue as to whether what i was finding was genuine or not.  slightly discouraged and still unsure, my online looking ended rather quickly.

however, just a couple weeks ago while i was perusing the home depot shelves for a new ceiling fan, i turned and was face-to-face with a himalayan sea salt lamp – what luck!  there was no hesitation whatsoever as i carefully balanced the ceiling fan box in my arms and scooped the lamp on top of it.

i got home and could hardly contain my excitement as i ripped through the packaging.  i think one of the most interesting things as i diligently read through the instruction manual was that the maker of this lamp had a message like the following:  “if you are dissatisfied with your lamp, please contact us directly.  do not return the lamp to your vendor.”  how nice that they want to personally make sure you have the best experience with this lamp possible!

i got the lamp all set in its place, plugged in, and then stood back in admiration and pure joy as i adjusted the dimmer switch on it to a soft glow.  the orangey-yellow color of the lamp reflects just so nicely off the lavender walls in our living room.  i mean, how does this not make you relaxed simply by looking at it?

if you’re looking for a unique lighting piece and great conversation starter, consider picking up a himalayan sea salt lamp for yourself.  they come in several sizes and forms (you can get it in a big block like i have or in smaller chunks to put in a bowl display) to suit your preference.  another neat thing about these lamps is that no two are alike, so you’re sure to have a one-of-a-kind piece!