Memories are a Gift


In honor and dedication to the family members we hold dear I want to say a few things about my grandmother, Patsy (in the high school picture above), and how she touched me this Christmas.

Recently, my grandmother was diagnosed with a form of dementia. She sometimes struggles to remember things, but she is still the wonderful woman I grew up knowing. 

In my Christmas blog I was musing on ways to make homemade, personalized gifts for friends and family. I ended up making a picture wreathe for Patsy that looked a lot like the one below:


Every year since I can remember, my grandmother has made personalized cross-stitch ornaments for her grandkids at Christmastime, and each one contains all her time, love, and thoughtfulness. Every single one has the year stitched on it, and if you lined them up it would look like a timeline following our years through childhood. 

These are irreplaceable gifts that my cousins and I will keep forever, and I wanted to return the love she displayed in some small way this past Christmas with something just as thoughtful. 

When Christmas day came and she finally opened the picture wreath, I was touched by the way her eyes lit up and the way her smile spread from ear to ear. She looked over each and every picture–naming off the vacation or family reunion during which it was taken. 

“Oh look,” she cried. “The best one is here–when [my sister] Rose and I were tanning on the beach! We’ll call this one the ‘Bathing Beauties’!” 

I loved watching her reactions–even when she got so emotional she shed a few tears.

That’s when a thought struck me, and I realized I had given her the best gift I could have given–memories of family and love, and these memories are the very things she longs to hold onto and preserve. 

My grandmother blessed me once again this Christmas, but this time it was through a lesson she taught me rather than through a concrete gift. After giving her a gift commemorating family memories and witnessing her reaction, I finally realized the full value of her gifts of memories each childhood Christmas with her many treasured cross stitches.

Here’s to you, Grandma, and to all of the family memories to come!

New Year’s Resolutions 2014



Here’s a TED blog about resolutions that I enjoyed. I think it has a fresh perspective.

Homemade Christmas


Wow. It’s been forever since I posted so I want to apologize! It’s almost Christmas and soon after we will all bid farewell to 2013 and ring in a new year. I successfully completed my first semester of grad school at Hopkins (with good grades to boot) and I am feeling a bit more freed up in my schedule to do some Christmas decorating and shopping for gifts. Since I am “balling on a budget” as they say, I am on patrol for creative gifts that I can make myself. I think the following ideas are adorable:

Glass Christmas light gift box.jpg

Glass box lights, filled with Christmas lights, pictures, ribbon, and anything else you want!
picture wreath

How cute is this wreath? And it’s the perfect personalized gift. Just grab little frames from a craft or dollar store.

Until later….

Cheers, friends!


Paint Night!


Groupon and LivingSocial are awesome, especially when they give you the idea to get creative and artsy on a Saturday.

FYI–There are many cities that now offer you a chance to paint an original piece of art as you sip on wine and chat with friends or new acquaintances. These events are often found on discount apps like Groupon and LivingSocial, but the beauty is found in getting you out of the house and doing something fun and different.

These events go by many names–"Paint Night," "Wine and Design," etc. Sign up, take friends, and bring out your inner artist! You'll have a self-made piece to hang on your wall and brag about for quite some time…

Flavors of Pain

Thanks to Eric for this profound quote–it nicely compliments the growing up blog entry from yesterday.

Growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something.

Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind – graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expecations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.

And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realized that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last – and yet will remain with you for life.

Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.

Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”

Jim Butcher, author of the Harry Dresden Files

“To Live Would be an Awfully Big Adventure”

Peter Pan, 2003

We’ve all been through it–growing up is hard. When I recall past pains in the process I think of Peter Pan and how I used to wish I had the same luxury of putting everything on hold indefinitely. Disney’s Peter Pan was one of my favorite movies growing up, and if you have seen Hook or the 2003 Peter Pan you know they are both worth watching.

When I ask myself why growing up was so difficult at times, I believe (for me personally) it was because I was forced to question things I had been raised to believe. Certain lessons in life unnerve you, and you lose the illusions of security and the absolute truths you once had. There is so much to learn about yourself and the world–as the common phrase goes, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

In the 2003 film, Wendy alludes to this “growing up” business when she asks Peter if he’s ever wondered what it would be like. Nervous and frustrated, he asks why she has to ruin their playtime and pretend with such a question. “We have fun, don’t we?” he asks, “What else is there?”

“There is so much more,” Wendy replies, alluding to the entire experience of growing up and becoming aware of ideas and concepts you weren’t before–love, pain, etc. In Wendy’s mind she knew she would one day grow up and fall in love, gain a new family, and she recognized that it would involve new feelings and a sense of responsibility she couldn’t fully understand until many years later.

The whole reason I bring up this scene is because it reminds me why the human experience of growing up and becoming an adult is ultimately worth it–yes, I will face the full range of good and bad experiences in life, but they will collectively form me into a person of wonderful depth. At least, I hope so😉. Growing up truly is about opening yourself to all of life–the beauty, the pain, the hurt, the loss, and those wonderful moments of accomplishment and fullfillment you reach.

One last point. Encountering each experience and the passing of years will change me as a person. Friends and family have mentioned to me, “You seem different,” and I have heard this phrase in various increments since graduating from high school. To this comment I usually reply, “YES! I certainly HOPE I am different from when I was in high school! I hope I am wiser, stronger, and have a thicker backbone.”😉

Growing up means you will change. A lot. As in more than once. Life is a series of changes, phases, and stages, and I am no longer afraid of evaluating my current beliefs or behaviors–I now understand they will be challenged through experience!

SO, what I am trying to say is that I have chosen to embrace the inevitable experience of growing up and seeing where life takes me. As Peter says, “To live would be an awfully big adventure,” and I don’t intend to miss out on any of it!

Cheers, friends.


How Developed is Your LinkedIn Profile?


In sharp contrast to Facebook and Twitter, I have noticed many friends and coworkers that have left their LinkedIn profiles somewhat underdeveloped. However, more articles and blogs are declaring its increasing importance in marketing your skills and experience in the professional world. Consider it your public online resume!

This article on has great tips and suggestions for sprucing up your LinkedIn profile. Happy networking!

My Current Favorite Apps

If you are at all into homemade art, you should check out the mobile app for Etsy, an online network of shops run by ordinary, artistic people. You will find everything from household items to clothes and jewelry, and it is completely free to join and browse.

Even if your childhood dream of becoming the next Steven Spielberg fizzled out, you can still create quality slideshows and videos with this app. You can also pull music from your iTunes or choose from a collection of theme music to place in the background–it adds the perfect touch.😉

If you like the filters in Instagram you will enjoy the equally amazing options with Snapseed. There are many more filters to choose from, including Drama and Vintage, and you can easily crop, edit, or adjust your pictures.

This is a great app to use alongside Instagram because it allows you to show off multiple images at once. You can choose from countless arrangments and shapes, such as hearts, circles, or diamonds.

I absolutely LOVE this app for its simple practicality alone. If you ever get frustrated by having to print off documents to sign and fax them back to someone, this app is your saving grace. Not only can you open PDF and Word documents from emails and insert your own electronic signature, but you can type in any other text you want in order to fill out forms. Finally, just save the new document and return it to the sender via email.

Leave a comment if you have any other great app suggestions for me!

Bucket List



Work. Obligations. Responsibilities. Too often I get so caught up in what I need to do that what I want to do falls to the wayside. While this is a natural and necessary part of adult life, it becomes an issue when months or years go by and you haven’t taken needed personal time for yourself. To savor. To simply enjoy living.

Around February I made a commitment to myself that I would prioritize things important to me–I would take more time to see my friends and family. We would catch up. I also pulled up my bucket list and realized the traveling I still wanted to experience. Since then I have seen the Grand Canyon, Chicago, and San Francisco while visiting old pals. Also, I can proudly say I crossed off skydiving from the list!🙂

So, my question for you is this:

Have you pulled out your bucket list lately? Are there things from it that you can experience or accomplish in the next year? Be brave enough to tackle them one by one and relish in crossing them off.🙂

When in Old Town…

Old town alexandria

Brick and cobblestone streets, historic houses, quaint shops and gardens–it has to be Old Town Alexandria. I had the pleasure of walking through it today and I certainly intend to revisit. I window-shopped all the way to the river and then hopped on one of the trollies, but here is just a small list of “To-Dos” for when I return.

1) Visit the historic Ramsay House for a walking tour (Named after William Ramsay, the Scottish merchant who founded the city)

2) Walk by the childhood home of Robert E. Lee

3) See a show in the historic Old Town Theatre, founded in 1914

4) Attend one of the evening ghost tours (Something to do on Halloween??)

5) Ride the ferry across the Potomac to National Harbor

Stay tuned!!