The girl in this photo had no idea what 2017 would bring. Little did she know that 2017 would be her year. Her year to expand her vision, increase her capacities & struggle like she hadn't struggled in quite some time. In the process she realized the great thing about a struggle was getting through it, then looking back with increased strength & realizing it perhaps wasn't such a struggle after all. Five things this girl learned in 2017.
1. Begin a practice of gratitude. This year I've spent 10 minutes each morning in gratitude. By myself & quiet I take time to re-live the moments & people in my life I'm most grateful for. If I were to give you a snapshot of this week, I'd think about all the helping hands that have brought dinner, dropped by sweet thoughts & gifts -- and I mean I'd really think about it. The time and effort they made, the blessing it was to me & my family & be grateful. I'll usually think through 3-4 events/moments & then 3-4 people as well. I'll wrap up by thinking through things on the horizon, working them out in my mind & allowing myself to feel how grateful I'll feel when they're accomplished or taken care of.
2. You're capable of more than you realize. This year I set and then tackled some goals that were well outside my comfort zone. As such, new things came up that I really had to think through, because they were things I had never done before! When a 'problem' would arise -- which I now prefer calling an opportunity to learn -- there were times I had to sleep on it. Which meant actually not sleeping. Then I'd have to counsel with a few, trusted people who I've put on my personal Board of Trustees -- the people that understand what I'm doing, will be honest to a fault & always give me their best advice when I call (surround yourself with as many of these types of people as possible). Then, and only then, would I have a solution I felt comfortable with & because I had done my due diligence I was confident in moving forward. Even when moving forward meant hard phone calls, firm boundaries & sticking to my guns. Just like anything else though, the more you do it, the easier it gets. So when that next 'problem' arises, whatever it may be, don't be scared, be grateful you get to learn something.
3. Keep reading. Everything you need to know is in a book...or online. Regardless of what you're learning, always feed the desire to learn. This is something I really try to cultivate in my kids. As a result, Zack and I spend all sorts of time researching ridiculous things, not because I necessarily care about what we're researching, but more so the process of finding the answer to the question. Last week it involved a question around pulling hair to tackle in the NFL -- those are some good YouTube videos. :)
4. Your most valuable asset is your time. You'll be told your whole life to not be selfish, but when it comes to your time, be selfish. Very selfish. Time is the one commodity you cannot produce more of. Time is squandered in 10 minute increments, don't underestimate what you can do in 10 minutes. This year, I figured out how to work smarter, not harder & oddly enough it's been my most successful year yet emotionally, spiritually & financially. That being said, your self worth isn't based on what you own, but what you create. Create more.
5. People won't get it, that's okay, do it anyway. I struggled with this for a long long time. I wanted everyone to understand what I understood and why I was pursuing what I was pursuing. The only problem is, if everyone understood, what I'm pursuing would already be done. In fact, the more people DON'T understand what you're doing, the better. Don't focus on whether everyone 'gets' it, doing so will reduce your bandwidth to create. Put your head down & just do the work.
Gift Giving. It is one of my love languages. There are few things I appreciate like a well thought out & beautifully wrapped gift. It hardly matters what's inside, when it's presented in genuine thoughtfulness. I've had a few friends and family members who are masters at this & and I'm sure you know these people as well. One friend of mine, makes these darling mini birthday cakes and always shows up on your doorstep with this mini cake, wrapped & tied up with big, fat ribbon. Eating the cake is just a bonus, because the presentation is so thoughtful. Come to find out, her cakes take her 5 minutes to make (really!) & she always keeps everything on hand -- when you receive it though, you feel like she's been thinking about you all day.
Another friend, truly delights in gift giving. I showed up unannounced at her house several years ago, only to find her up to her neck in cellophane, ribbons & gifts for literally the whole neighborhood. I laughed out loud, but couldn't help but notice her total delight in the process. Now, don't think you need to gift the whole neighborhood, but you were always delighted to find yourself on her list because you knew it was out of pure love & enjoyment.
Being on the receiving end of so many wonderful gifts, my love for giving has increased over the years. There really are few things I love like finding someone the perfect gift. I've been known to have a special page in the notes on my phone where I jot things down throughout the year. 'so and so is looking for this.' 'so and so wishes she had this' It's fun to have those thoughts tucked away & then surprise those you love with not only the item they've been wanting/needing, but also the fact that you remembered.
And so today, I give you my gift guide of all gift guides. I've broken them down into different categories, as you pursue, be mindful that some price points will be appropriate for your kids' school teachers, others for your mom...other perhaps for your husband to gift you. Hopefully, you'll find something that sparks an idea for someone you love.
For the girl who always loves to throw a party, set a table & prep a delicious meal. Hosting is her love language. Click shoppable links below.
For the girl that is always willing to try a new work out & help keep you accountable. She'll sign up for any race & can wear sneakers with anything & make it look good.
For the girl that inspires you to dream big & you have to reserve a spot on her calendar to see. She's full of ideas & has the hard work to back them up.
For the peanut butter to your jelly. The girl who laughs at inappropriate jokes with you, always has your back & knows more about you than anyone else & still loves your guts.
I'm a breakfast person. A breakfast lover of all varieties. Fruit & Yogurt parfait? Yes please. Breakfast tacos? Like those too. French toast? yep. Bacon? of course! Hashbrowns? Always. Blueberry Crumble? The best.
My kids are old enough these days that they can help whip up most everything in the kitchen & this one is no exception. I like doubling this recipe for a full 9x13 pan -- then I'll eat it all week long, right around 10 am, because the only thing I like more than first breakfast is a second breakfast.
1/2 C unsalted butter -- room temperature
2 tsp lemon zest -- use lemon juice in a pinch
1 C sugar
1 egg -- room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 C fresh blueberries
1/2 C buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter with lemon zest & sugar.
Add the egg and vanilla and best until combined.
Add baking powder + salt, mix
Add flour, alternating with the buttermilk, mix until combined.
Fold in blueberries
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or non-stick spary, spread batter into pan. For an added touch, sprinkle the top with a bit of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes -- use a toothpick to ensure it's done.
Remove from oven, cool & enjoy!
With a new baby, we've been spending more time than ever at home...something that I'm not naturally good at. As such, we've pulled out some of our favorite games and it's not uncommon to find us gathered around the kitchen table or spread out on the floor playing together. Add a few easy snacks -- my go-tos are freshly popped popcorn & apples, along with some chocolate something or other (these were chocolate covered almonds) -- and you've got yourself a game night. It's my kids most requested activity for family night & pretty easy on me, so we're calling this a major win.
Generally speaking, I wouldn't classify myself as a big 'gamer' -- in fact, I find most card/board games don't hold my attention for too long. Never one to give up though, I've found a few games that we all really love & I'd love to know which games your family loves. Each year I like to include a game or two under the tree, so please, let me know in the comments what you love!
We're to the point where almost all of my kids can read, but it still can't be too involved or complicated. These 6 fit the bill just right.
1. Watch Ya Mouth -- Not only does everyone look absolutely ridiculous playing this game, the phrases they have you say are equally funny. What grade-schooler isn't going to laugh when trying to say, "Porcupine pooper scooper?" No matter how you slice it, this game gets everyone laughing...and spitting a bit too.
2. Blokus -- If you loved Tetris on your Gameboy as a kid, you'll love this game. It's great for spatial awareness & my 5-year-old has been playing it unassisted for over a year. You can play nice, or you can play strategic, working to block people -- you can guess which way I tend to play.
3. Wig Out -- My sister introduced me to this game & it's fun every time. A cross between matching and go-fish, except fast paced. My kids have nick-names for every character and it gets pretty loud every time we play.
4. Ticket to Ride -- This one is a little more complicated but Max does great teaming up with an adult and my older two are great on their own. Full of strategy I like that this game makes my kids think more long term. This is by far a family favorite...even with the price tag.
5. Sleeping Queens -- Again, my sister found this one & we don't have it yet, but my kids were playing it all summer long with her kids. Someone will find this in their stocking I'm sure. It's similar to Wig Out where you can play a game in 5-10 minutes & you don't mind re-shuffling and playing again and again.
6. Yeti in my Spaghetti -- My youngest picked this game out with some birthday money & it's another fun one. Similar to pick up stix but with the added measure of not letting the Yeti drop. I'm not sure why that added element makes it so much more fun, perhaps it's that we're all fairly competitive, we like to get it as close to possible to falling on our turn, hoping it falls for the next person.
Weekends are for walking houses! If you're headed out, be sure to come say hi to me at an Open House I'm holding this Saturday! For all the details, headhere. It's one of the best values in Mesa right now...reminds me of the Farmhouse in the Groves I sold this summer...great bones & room at the current price point for a buyer to come in & make it just what they want.
Otherwise, here's a list of all the others in Mesa, Gilbert, Scottsdale & Chandler.
And since it's the weekend & November, you might be tinkering with your Holiday shopping ideas, or is that just me? Here's a few favorite finds from the Nordstrom Sale this weekend that I'm loving. Still haven't found the perfect dress for family pics, but hopefully soon. Regardless, I wouldn't be mad if any of these ended up under the tree.
Next week, I'll have a myriad of gift guides for you -- let me know who you're shopping for & I'll include some ideas.
Walking house after house, I've developed a fairly thick skin to 'trends' but this is one I'm falling all over myself for. What is it: The black steel door with window panes...a double black door with panes to be exact. My favorite application is as a front door. I am a lover of light and these really do the trick. Whether you square them off, or arch them for a more Mediterranean feel, I'm a fan. Perhaps you need a bit more privacy on your front entry way than these offer, because please, whatever you do, do not obscure the glass in any way. If privacy is what you need, use them in a bathroom for punch of style.
If you're needing just a bit more privacy, this traditional approach works well. With the bottom solid, you can also add a roman shade to the top, allowing ultimate privacy for the evening hours.
Don't have room for a full double door? Use side lights to visually create a wider door.
If you love the trend, but can't commit to a front door, head to the bathroom. I'm seeing this all over & it definitely packs a punch in a small space.
Love this half door -- less to clean, which is always a win in my book!
Bigger panes on this one, with a strong contrast of black & white
Bringing home a new baby means I'm spending more time than ever at home. If you haven't already noticed this about me, let me tell you, I enjoy being busy. Whether at home or on the go, I'm not one to lounge about too often. Over the last 2 weeks or so though, I've worked hard to slow down and take it easy. Many of you haven't thought so on social media, but I promise, I've slowed down quite a bit.
So how to manage 'it all?' First of all, I don't manage it all. I have however become a master at saying, 'no,' asking for help when I need it & then letting it go after that. I've been fortunate to have this army around me that has literally helped carry my family the last 2 weeks. For that I am so grateful, but even if you don't have an army, start with saying no more often & you'll find yourself feeling more in control and less stressed out. It's amazing how many things don't need to get done.
Why say no? Because you can't possibly do it all, so don't put that pressure on yourself. When I put that kind of pressure on myself I wind up grouchy, over-tired & stressed out. Chasing a goal that can't possibly be managed right now. So I stopped doing that to myself. It's okay to take a minute & enjoy the quiet of a new baby. It's okay to let a few things go for something that is bigger and better.
So what do you say no to? First, pick your top 3 things that are most important. These things can shift and evolve over time, but with a new baby, it really is top 3. Mine are family, work & sleep right now. Pretty basic. Some days I manage more than just those 3 things, but those 3 come first. My family is most important to me, so we are doing the best we can to cover those needs. My clients come in a close second, their needs are incredibly important, as such, I'll take those phone calls from my hospital bed. I laugh every time, because this isn't the first time I've done that. I once answered a phone call less than 30 minutes after having my 2nd baby. I knew my client didn't realize where I was & we had a close enough relationship, that I knew he'd laugh really hard at me answering the phone & say, 'call me in 2 days when you're home.' Finally sleep. It's crucial right now, so I prioritize it. Most nights I'm in bed by 9 pm & I schedule my days in such a way, that I can work in a 30 minute nap if I need to.
So what's still important but not happening right now? Friends, don't see them much right now. Church, taking a break for a minute to keep the baby as healthy as I can. Date night, not sure what that is. Cleaning, keeping it to a minimum & asking for help here. Dinner, again, keeping it real simple. School Volunteer, not touching that right now either.
Once you've mastered saying no, get help where you need it. For me, I'm asking for help in a couple of different areas. My niece comes over once a week for a couple hours -- she helps with homework, dinner, dishes, laundry, babysitting, and even work stuff, filing & organizing -- whatever I need that week. It's nice to have an extra set of hands that can do almost all the same things I can do. My husband picks up a lot too. While he doesn't wake up with the baby at all, he does the dinner dishes, puts the other 3 to bed, keeps laundry moving and all the other million things that need to stay in motion. When all else fails, my mom & dad show up. Often my dad will take my older boys for a Saturday afternoon, washing cars & teaching them how to work hard. My mom, well she'll show up with lunch and/or dinner, then hold the baby all day if I let her. When she's not holding him, she's doing the dishes. I'm a pretty lucky girl.
So while I might have you fooled on social media, thinking I'm doing 'it all,' please, don't be fooled. It takes an army, and over the last 2 weeks my army has been so good to me -- even when I have an over-tired cry, because every baby comes with a handful of those.
I've got a HUGE price drop for you on an AMAZING basement home in Mesa! All new flooring just installed, that you'll love, 4-car garage for all your toys, large lot with pool + gated community on the GOLF COURSE!
Best deal on the market right now & I'm holding it open for you
this Saturday from 2 pm - 4 pm
Saturday, Nov 11th || 2pm - 4pm
5345 E. McLellan Road #3
4,189 sq ft || 5 bed, 4 bath || Basement
Leave a quick comment to let me know you'll be there...can't wait to see all your faces!
Keeping this post quick, but couldn't let the weekend start without getting you links to all the open houses going on around the Valley! So many good ones. Did you see the house I posted on Instagram yesterday?!? So good!!
Of all my apps I might spend the most on Zillow, scrolling through home after home. In these last days of being pregnant, when I don't sleep much, well I'm scrolling away. I love when I find an awesome listing and thought I'd share a few favorites with you here today.
This first one is in Phoenix and it's listed by Evan Boxwell with Call Realty. This one is brand new construction within an established neighborhood...right next to the canal and The Orchard (one of my favorite local places to eat!).
For full listing details, head here...but I think this will be one I have to go and walk!
This next one is in an amazing neighborhood in Mesa, has an incredible backyard space AND the best part, it's been re-done. There is not a lot of inventory in Mesa that has been re-done, so this one is a real gem. It's listed by Scott Perkinson with Perkinson Properties.
For all the listing details head here
This last one, I've walked and it's as amazing as it looks. New construction in the heart of Arcadia, it even boasts some amazing views. Listed by Lara Broadrick with Sotheby's.
To see the full tour head here, but tell me first which is your favorite?!?
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.