Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two-Toned Breakfast Smoothie (Because healthy things taste better when they're pretty)

I'm an occasional healthy eater at breakfast time. Occasional meaning that I wake up famished every morning, and if I can't get something nutritious prepared and into my mouth within five minutes I'm going to eat cereal or an English muffin covered with Nutella, which is so NOT part of a balanced breakfast despite the commercials that show it paired with a tall glass of OJ. Anyway, that's my explanation for why I've been Pinterest-searching so many healthy smoothies as of late. 

Two recipes recently caught my eye (both were featured in this article by Glitter Guide), but neither of them were EXACTLY what I was looking (i.e. I didn't have some of the ingredients immediately on hand). So I tweaked and combined, and here's what I came up with.

TWO-TONED BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE (Because healthy things taste better when they're pretty)

Bottom 1:  The Mean Green
  • banana (I use unfrozen bananas because it makes the smoothie creamier)
  • about 1 cup frozen spinach
  • about 3/4 cup frozen mango (this is where the sweetness comes from)
  • almond milk (I always eyeball this—just make sure you use enough to keep your blender from sticking)
  • ice chips 
Directions: Put all ingredients into blender and let the machine do its thing. When everything is smooth and combined, split the mixture between two tall glasses. Be sure to stop when the glasses are half-full!

Note: I suggest storing your half-filled glasses in the freezer until the top layer is finished. Keeps everything from getting melty.

Top 2: Pretty in Pink
  • banana
  • 5-6 whole frozen strawberries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon almond butter
  • almond milk
  • ice chips
Directions: See above and repeat. Y'all know that I KNOW that you know how to use a blender. Pull your glasses out of the freezer and fill to the top. Stick two really cute + patterned paper straws into your smoothies in order to take a picture for Instagram, then remove them because they're kind of hard to drink from and get soggy when they sit in your smoothie for two long. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What if I cared as much about ISIS beheadings as I do about the fact that there are two Bachelorettes?

Last night I watched the finale of The Bachelor, which is hilarious since I didn’t watch a single episode of the regular season. But whatever. My friends are in town, so it was a girls’ night thing.

Let’s just skip all the blah-blah-blah and get to the outrage I felt when Chris Harrison announced that there will be two Bachelorettes next season. Having sat on the bench for the entire season, I watched “After the Final Rose” as a mostly disengaged viewer until THAT MOMENT. The one when Chris said, “We just couldn’t decide which girl to pick, so we thought it would be so much fun to pit two women against each other and allow men to decide which one has the most potential to be a wife,” or something along those lines. 

 I thought it was sexist and demeaning. But don’t just take my word for it. Take my Twitter.

In the middle of this Twitter rampage, my husband asked me why I felt the need to hop on a hashtag and engage with complete strangers about a topic that doesn’t really affect me in any way, shape, or form. What a ridiculous question, right? I have a voice! I need to be heard! But what it really boiled down to is that I felt like the issue mattered. I had visions of rallying a bunch of women together to boycott the show, or convincing the Bachelorette(s) to drop out. I felt almost impassioned. And then I thought, “Why doesn’t the fact that ISIS is beheading my Christian brothers and sisters stir up this same level of emotion in me?”

So I paused. And I stilled. And I thought about writing this blog, and I thought about all the words I would use to demonstrate how deeply this realization had impacted me. But then I got distracted by another thought about that very same post going viral because of the timeliness of the topic, which would lead to an invitation for me to be on a talk show to discuss everything further, of course.

I hate that all of that’s true, but it is. I hate that an announcement about a reality television show moved me to step on my tweet-box and preach, while an article sent to me by my husband titled What ISIS Really Wants had been in my inbox since February 18, and remained unread until last night. I hate that in the middle of the many horrors and moments of crisis that are real and active around the globe, I care about hashtags and the reach of my own voice, even though as a believer in Jesus Christ, I proclaim that to live is Him and to die is gain—that the purpose of my life is to bring Him glory and not myself. I hate that the prospect of having two Bachelorettes made me verbalize the question, “What is this world coming to?” while believers around the world are facing persecution, and famine, and danger, and nakedness, and the sword for the sake of loving and knowing and serving Christ (Romans 8:35).

I want to wake up. Finally reading the aforementioned article was a big step in that direction, but I want to do more. I want to stop caring about things that don’t matter. I want to stop expending my time and energy and thoughts and efforts—all the best of me—to further things that are temporal and bound by this earth. Namely, myself. I can stop comparing and contrasting my Instagram feed and counting my Twitter followers for long enough to care about deeper things, realer things. I know I can.

I’ve been uneducated and uninformed. I haven’t felt like the existence of ISIS affected me personally. It’s felt distant and removed—another horrible series of tragedies in a faraway place that I am helpless to fix. Maybe our generation is immune to understanding the threat of an organization like ISIS because since 9/11, we’ve seen Terror Alerts indicated on our television screens in much the same way as an ozone warning. Orange today. Don’t go outside. Red today. Don’t breathe.

Whatever it is—the root cause of the fact that I was rocked by the “two Bachelorettes” announcement and yet, until recently, unmoved by the growing presence of ISIS—it’s not okay or excusable. I want to be informed about what’s going on in the world not for the sake of being informed, but for the sake of seeing things as they really are. I don’t have to fixate on disaster or fear the end of the world (Proverbs 3:25-26), but I must and I will acknowledge that there are things happening outside my bubble that require that I stay awake. I think I'll have more to say on this one day, and I hope I do. But for now, that's all I've got.

Share this post if you want to. Don’t if you don’t. But do join me in thinking about what matters, and what it really means to be like Jesus in this mixed-up, crazy world—“the very last, and a servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

. . .

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

For further reading, see this blog posted on Happy Sonship.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Best Place to Be

Ill-equipped. Under-prepared. Lacking confidence. Unsure.

This doesn't sound like the best place to be. And yet, so often, I've found that it's exactly where I am and how I feel when God is about to move in ways that surpass everything I could ask for or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).
I think Joseph could probably relate. He was thrown into a pit and left for dead because his brothers were jealous of the favor their father had shown him. Then he was picked up like garbage and sold into slavery. I don't know about you, but that would shake me up. Cause me to question a few things. Like, everything.

Joseph could have given himself up for dead; he could have doubted his abilities and his dreams and his identity and the truth of the love he'd known while in his father's household. And yet, Joseph proceeded to become one of the highest ranking officials in all of Egypt. Did He face continued challenges? Yes. But was he ever abandoned? No. He stepped into the calling the Lord placed upon his life, and the Lord delivered him and equipped him and blessed him and set his feet upon a rock again and again and again. (Full story here.)

I haven't done a scientific study on this or anything, but based on experience, being the best, knowing it all, having the right connections, and overflowing with confidence are not necessarily prerequisites to or indicators of success. Almost every time the Lord has done something incredible in my life, I've entered into His calling with fear and trembling. And not the holy kind. More like the "I have no idea what I'm doing/What if I made a mistake/Did I hear Him wrong/Is something bad going to happen?" kind of trembling that makes you want to quit the game and wash your hands and throw in the towel and all-those-other-cliches that are basically just temptations to give up on living the life that is truly life.

But here's the truth: the Lord is not limited by our abilities, experience, courage, aptitude, or lack thereof. In fact, I believe that He works best when we're at our weakest—there's more room for His glory to shine because we KNOW we can't take credit for what He has accomplished. Walking in the unknown forces us to rely on His lead. Stepping into a position that's above our experience-level demolishes pride. Not having all the answers requires us to throw our cares and concerns and questions upon His throne.

If I had given in to fear and doubt, I probably wouldn't have moved to France, started my first job, left that job to marry my husband and start a business together, published a book, and so on and so on. I would have missed out on a lot of great experiences. More than that, however, I would have missed out on living life to the fullest. Hearing my Savior's voice. Relying on Him alone. Seeing Him come through in ways that can only be defined as miraculous. Walking on the heights and knowing it's by the power of Jesus Christ alone that I've been placed there. 

beausoleil, france
You and I won't always be the most equipped. We might not have the "right" degree or the necessary connections. We might not be the best one on the team. We might sweat until our skin turns into a salt lick and shake all the way down to our toes as we step up to the plate, but if God is for us, then truly...who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

My husband always says that if one decision requires faith and the other doesn't, we should always move in the direction of faith. I couldn't agree more. I also say that if we're tempted to pass on an opportunity due to fear (of failure, of inadequacy, of not measuring up, or of whatever), we should probably shout "Cannonball!" and make a splash into the unknown.

. . .

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

"For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But You have saved us from our foes...In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to Your name forever." Psalm 44:6-8

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Than Enough

I struggle with the word “enough” because I don’t feel like I have it. I don’t have enough time to accomplish everything on my to-do list. I don’t have enough energy to make dinner after working all day. I don’t have enough motivation to go on a run. I don’t have enough creativity left in the tank to paint. I don’t have enough care for the concerns of other people. I don’t have enough emotional capacity to meet the needs of my husband. I don’t have enough direction to create a five-year plan. I could go on (and on), but that’s enough “enough” to make my point.

When I read these words back to myself I feel full of lack and emptied of drive, drawn to identify with phrases like “Give up” and “Quit trying.” Am I the only one who’s been there before? Am I the only one that continues to dive into those dangerous waters today, despite the goodness and the grace that my Father has lavished upon me?

We live in an unprecedented time of comparison. The magazine ads and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows and the “I only wear mascara and Chapstick to look this good” celebrity interviews are still out there, and they can still trigger feelings of inadequacy. But now we’re competing with other “everyday” people whose “everyday” experiences look like a homemade soufflĂ© and a line of paper goods and a c/o designer handbag and a Starbucks cup held up in front of the Eiffel Tower, probably with a fashionable baby somewhere in the mix. Now we’re not just keeping up with Susan Jones—we’re peering into her Pinterest-perfect backyard barbeque that’s decorated with stringer lights and mix-n-match Kate Spade dinnerware. Now we’re longing for another woman’s life as portrayed on her Instagram feed, battling doubt and despair and the pang of a deep heart hunger.

It’s hard to handle the pressures of work and home and life, and it’s even harder when you feel like you have to post an effortlessly-chic photo of yourself while doing so. I want to crawl into a hole sometimes when I look at a photo of a gorgeously uncluttered desk with an open planner and a steaming cup of coffee held by a manicured hand, topped off with a caption that says, “Let’s do this, Monday!” Because meanwhile, I’m sitting at a desk overflowing with papers, no makeup on, probably not even wearing a bra yet, and carrying the load of so much carry-over work from last Friday that I just want to scream, “Where are you, weekend?”

I know that sounds like I’m jealous, and that’s probably because a lot of times I am. I crave that feeling of having it all under control that it looks like so many other women are able to attain…at least on social media. Does anybody feel me on this? When my scrolling thumb gets out of control, I start to drown. When I read my Twitter feed more regularly than the Word of God, I start to lose perspective. I start to feel like I’m just not enough. That I never will be.

In a way, I’m right—my inability to meet the needs of myself and others has proven that I am not enough. But I do have Enough. I have the One who can meet every need, every heart’s cry, and every desire of every person on the planet. The One who whispers in my ear that I am seen and known and fully loved, anyway. The One who has picked me up and carried me when I have fallen, who has given me my identity, who has set my feet on a Rock, who has told me to fix my eyes on Him and not on everyone and everything else that’s swirling around me. The One who says, “…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10) The One who has “dealt bountifully” with me, who has “delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling” that I may “walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Ps. 116:7-9)

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 8:28) Rest. It’s available. But I won’t find it by staring at a list of things I haven’t accomplished, or counting the number of unanswered emails in my inbox, or dwelling on my performance or appearance or reputation. I find it by coming to Him.

I relate to David when he says, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” (Ps. 63:1) This is what the combination of heart hunger and soul thirst feels like. And here’s what it looks like to be filled; to have Enough:

“I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You. On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me.” (Ps. 63:2-8)

I have a new name for Jesus; for who I am fighting for Him to be in my life from this day forward. He is More Than Enough for me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: The Overwhelmed Bride

Sometimes I get social media fatigue. It's hard to describe, but I can usually tell it's coming on when the sight of a perfectly aligned gallery wall, spotless kitchen, or beautifully filtered pile of donuts on my Instagram feed makes me want to throw my phone against the wall. Don't get me wrong...I like pretty things and appreciate aesthetics, and I've been known to get just as caught up in a gorgeously curated feed as the next girl. But sometimes I have dirty dishes in my sink, and I'm two loads behind on laundry, and I have nothing clever to tweet, and I just want what's real. 

Which is why I am so beyond excited to report that The Overwhelmed Bride is real. The Instagram feed, the blog, and the book as well. You know why? Because Jenn Hallak, the instagrammer/blogger/author behind The Overwhelmed Bride, says things like this:

"What is the ultimate purpose of a wedding? To throw the most extravagant party for your friends and family? Or to display your commitment of marriage to each other in front of those who are closest to you and then celebrate this huge step in your life together? I'm pretty sure you know the answer to this question, but if not, it's the latter." (15) 


PS: Jenn and I connected and planned a book swap via social media, which is the kind of thing that keeps me logging in to all of these accounts again and again. People + relationships + community + support. Those things matter, whether they happen virtually or in the "real" world!


the overwhelmed bride totally deserves a spot on your nightstand

I think Jenn and I might be soul sisters, and I'm pretty sure I said that out loud like three times while reading her book. When I got to the planning timeline page 30 of her book, it all made sense. 
"My husband and I got married six months after we got engaged, so clearly, our timeline was a bit altered."
She was a Hitched in a Hurry bride. And while her book isn't specifically addressed to those planning in six months or less, her advice is just as relevant for brides planning in two years as it is for gals sprinting toward the aisle in two weeks.

In three words, The Overwhelmed Bride is:

1. Honest—Expect direct talk about venue visits and hidden fees (49), vendor selection (36), guest list organization (45), mama drama (23), and dealing with divorced parents on the day of the wedding (26) just to name a few.

2. Informative—Especially when it comes to establishing and maintaining a budget! Jenn's expertise as a wedding coordinator really shines when she's talking about finances. See page 38 for proof—the "Budget Breakdown" section contains an itemized list of ceremony and reception elements with suggestions about how to best distribute your dollars between each category. SO helpful.

3. Wedding Planning 101—Okay, that's not one word. But I still think it's a great way to describe The Overwhelmed Bride. At 90 pages, Jenn's book is compact and easy to read in just one sitting, ensuring that your head won't be pounding with a TMI headache afterward. It gives you all the essential information you need without any added fluff—because really, you already know the style of gown that looks best on your body, and you don't need to review a history of six different kinds of forks (and when and how they should be used). You DO, however, need to know where each member of your wedding party should stand during your ceremony (81), what items should be a part of your Wedding Day Survival Kit (86), and how to officially change your name after the party's over (88).

While Jenn's advice about budgeting, creating a photographer shot list, deciding on a cash vs. hosted bar, and other planning topics was fantastic, my favorite section of The Overwhelmed Bride came right at the very beginning.
"We live in a society that no longer values one single marriage. We all value weddings, but clearly there is not enough emphasis put on the marriage part. Yes, we all want our beautiful Pinterest weddings, but is this what really matters?" (16)
I'll say it again. PREACH. This is so right on, but the passage doesn't end there. Jenn goes on to challenge her readers to participate in 365 Days of Love, which involves creating a list of 365 things you love about your future spouse—one for each day of the year. Because, "If you can find 365 things you love about your spouse, then there is no reason to ever question if you should be together." (17)

I can't wait to take on this challenge in my own marriage—in fact, I'm planning on beginning my list in November, the month of thankfulness! I loved Jenn's suggestions for "distributing" the list items, too: Gifting my husband with a box full of the reasons why I love him, communicating each item one by one each morning (great if your guy's love language is Words of Affirmation), texting him one reason each day, or typing up the complete list and presenting it to him on a special occasion.

Finally, I'll leave you with this—a passage from The Overwhelmed Bride that completely resonates with the heartbeat of Hitched in a Hurry (and my hope for all of the future brides-to-be that come into contact with either of our books):
Just remember, the odds of something going wrong on your wedding day are actually very high. But don't let this scare you the end, you are marrying the man of your dreams, so who cares what went wrong! All of the little things, and even large things, are absolutely not the end of the world. No matter what happens, just know that you were as prepared as possible and that at the end of the day, your lifelong commitment to each other has been made and you are going to have a celebration you will never forget." (86)
If you're interested in purchasing a copy of The Overwhelmed Bride, click here. To read Jenn's review of Hitched in a Hurry, click here! 


Happy Wedding Wednesday, y'all!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Following His Lead

So, we went to Seattle, Vancouver, and Victoria. I’ve been meaning to write about our trip for at least a week, but then we got caught up in this little thing called packing-up-our-belongings-and-moving-across-the-country. We’ve been living out of suitcases (and backpacks) since moving out of our apartment in August, so it feels amazingly good to finally have everything in its place again. Or at least in a place. Organization is still in progress.

I have this back-burner dream of being a travel blogger that writes about fabulous locations and gives tips about how to expertly pack a backpack, book incredibly cheap-and-chic AirBnB stays, and discover hidden-gem restaurants and boutiques that only locals know about. For the moment, though, I’m going to skip all the Trip Advisor details and just talk about what really matters to me now that our first foray into backpacking has come and gone.

Pike Place Market, Seattle
Pike Place Market
original Starbucks, Seattle

I basically had no idea what was going on for the majority of our trip. I sketched a vague outline of a few things I’d like to see and do in each location, but beyond that, I was completely and entirely dependent on Taylor’s lead. He’s done substantial traveling, isn’t afraid of public transportation, and is 100% more comfortable (and attractive) wearing a backpack than me. It just made sense to turn everything over into his hands. So I did.

troll under the bridge, Seattle
space needle view

Taylor booked our airfare, our Amtrak seats, our ferry rides, and our clipper trip. Taylor bought our bus passes. He tracked each stop on Google Maps to make sure that we got off at the right location. He researched every city we visited and pre-planned day trips he knew I would enjoy. 

all scrubbed up and ready to tour Theo's Chocolate Factory in Seattle
samples galore
Granville Island, Vancouver
"enjoying" high tea at The Empress in Victoria
seal-spotting at Fisherman's Wharf, Victoria 

As for me? I didn’t know which way we were going, what method of transportation we were taking, which bus stop to wait at, or what activity we’d be doing when we arrived. I didn’t book, check in, check out, route, map, or tip. I just went. I just woke up in the morning, got dressed, did a few hours of work, and walked out the door with full confidence that good things were ahead. I trusted Taylor because he’s done this before. I trusted him because he knows me—what I like and what I don’t. I trusted him because he has my best in mind, he wants to provide for me, and he always keeps me safe no matter where we go. 

love at first sight

I was telling my mom all of these things when I saw Jesus. Not physically (I’d probably still be laid out somewhere on the side of the road), but spiritually, emotionally—with the eyes of my heart. It stopped me in my tracks, and I mean that literally, because we were in the middle of a walk around her neighborhood. If I can trust the details of so many unknowns to Taylor, how much more can I free fall into the arms of my Heavenly Father? If I can hand over the reigns of trip-planning to Taylor, how much more can I give over control of my life to my Savior? If I can follow Taylor no matter where he’s going, how much more can I walk in complete, blessed assurance no matter which direction my God and King is leading?

adventuring in Vancouver

I struggle with trusting the Lord for no good reason at all. He has provided for me in every season. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He has grasped me by the hand, pulled me out of a pit of confusion and anxiety and depression when no one else could reach me. He has comforted me, called me His own, given me the good gifts of a family who raised me to know Truth and a husband who points me to Him. And yet I fear. I grasp at control as if the future is something I can predict, hold, and manipulate. I resist giving it all up, giving it all away, and simply resting at His feet, choosing instead to lock my spine and tighten my shoulders and brace myself for continued battle with a thousand “what-if” questions that have nothing at all to do with my reality. 

city view, Vancouver

But I want to grow. I want to abide in peace. I want so badly to walk barefoot with Jesus with my hair blowing in the wind. So every dollar we spent on our trip to Seattle, Vancouver, and Victoria was worth it as this realization poured through me: I don’t have to know exactly where I’m going, how I’m going to get there, where to wait, or what to do. I don’t have to create an immovable five-year plan, make things happen on my own, set the pace, or plot my own course. I can just go. I can just be. I can just get up in the morning, get dressed, do a few hours of work, and walk out the door with full confidence that good things are ahead. I can trust my Father because He’s seen all of this before. He’s pre-determined every moment of my day. He knows me—what I need and what I don’t. He has my best in mind—my earthly sanctification and eternal salvation. He has provided for me, and will continue to do so no matter what unknowns are still to come on this journey. He always has and always will keep me safe, no matter where I go.  

. . .

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him…It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights.” Psalm 18:30-33 (read the entire psalm here)

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children…” Psalm 103:13-17 (read the entire psalm here)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity…” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (read the entire passage here)

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So you want to be a backpacker

Y'all, I'm a backpacker. It's not something I ever dreamed about, or pictured myself doing, or made space for on my non-existant bucket list. But it's happening anyway, and I'm really excited about it. Despite what my face looks like in the following picture.

attempting the impossible

Let me give you a little context here. I am a serial over-packer. Been doing it since way back when. Like, when I moved to Southern France to work as an au pair for three months, I took multiple suitcases...and my parents still had to ship boxes of my belongings across the ocean. I'm ashamed to admit that publicly, but there it is. Now that my confession has been made and the scene has been set, I hope everyone can fully appreciate the following photo.

fashion + function = love

I'm sitting in LAX and spying on potential celebs while on a three-hour layover to Seattle right now. My backpack is at my feet. It's carrying everything in the above photo. The content total:
  • 3 tanks
  • 2 basic tees (1 black, 1 white)
  • 4 sweaters (1 camel, 1 black/gray combo, 1 plum, 1 orange)
  • 1 raincoat (my first ever Patagonia purchase, and I feel super outdoorsy about it)
  • 1 pair of Timberland boots (see above description of my new backwoods credentials) 
  • 2 pairs of pants (1 black stretchy pair from Anthropologie, 1 pair of leggings-slash-jeans…leans?)
  • 3 tops
  • 1 leather jacket 
Considering my husband only packed three shirts to be worn in rotation throughout our 10-day work-cation, it looks like I still overpacked. But STILL. It all fits into this and it's really not THAT heavy, so I feel like I should get the backpacking world's equivalent of an Oscar.  

my osprey farpoint 40

Assuming you agree, I would like to thank the Academy for this honor, as well as my husband for carrying my laptop in his bag, as well as the extremely helpful travel blog Travel Fashion Girl. Had I not discovered Alex's blog, I would probably be wearing convertible zip-off pants right now along with a sign on my forehead that says TOURIST in all caps. Thankfully, her posts taught me that as long as the items I take are fold-able, breathable, and walk-for-long-distances-able, I don't actually need to buy "travel" gear. For instance, I learned that rayon/polyester blends work really well when it comes to pants. Hence the excuse for my new Anthropologie skinnies. 

at the airport, via @karleykiker on Instagram

Another thing I picked up from Alex's blog: the importance of packing cubes. Prior to our spur-of-the-moment, we-found-really-cheap-tickets trip to Seattle, I had never even heard of packing cubes. Now I wonder what I ever did without them. Remember all of those clothes I showed you earlier? This is what happened to them.

ebags packing cubes

And this is how it happened.

We're on the ground in Seattle now and already having adventures. We've ridden buses, checked into our Airbnb location, and watched the Seahawks game in a local pub. Our plan for the rest of our stay is that we have no definite plans other than working in the mornings and exploring in the afternoons. 

Other notes: Had you gone to my high school, you would know that I wore high heels and a blazer almost every day. Basically I was a 16-year-old who dressed like a sophisticated mom (and absolutely loved it). I like clothes. I like fashion. I like getting dressed up and looking cute. Which is probably why I got reactions like this when I mentioned our backpacking trip:

"Ten days with only a backpack? You're not even going to be able to fit all of your underwear in there!"
"Are you sleeping on the ground?"
"Are you sure you're ready for this?"

I know I didn't mention the underwear thing earlier, but for the record, all of my, um, essentials did fit into my backpack along with the other aforementioned items. We are not sleeping on the ground. It's important to note that when I say "backpacking," I mean that I'm literally carrying a backpack, not that I'm setting up a tent, wearing bug spray, and/or singing campfire songs. And finally, no, I'm not sure that I was ready for this. But we're doing it anyway, and I'm having so much fun with this new experience. And by so much fun, I mean I'm so glad I married a guy who actually knows what he's doing, and that I'm basically claiming his knowledge and confidence as my own and going with the flow.

If you're interested in following our journey, check back for additional blogs and follow us via hashtag on Twitter (@karleykiker) and Instagram (@karleykiker): #kikersenroute. 

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu
Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.