Friday, September 28, 2012

Today is Golden

Today is a special day.

It only happens once in a lifetime.

Today, September 28, 2012, is my golden birthday.

I am 28!

With my Grandma Cristina & Grandpa Andy on my Birth Day

True story: My dad and I used to dance around the house to 50 Cent's "In Da Club" when I was in college.  We were so hood.  My dad would freeze and cover his mouth during the expletive and then continue to jam.  My family really should have had a reality show.  We are so much cooler than the shiz on TV.

Go, shorty, it's ya birthday,
We're gonna party like it's ya birthday,
We're gonna sip Bicardi like it's ya birthday,
'Cause you know we don't give a (bleep), it's not ya birthday!

I'd like to invite you all to my birthday slumber party which will include an astro jump, piñata, fanny packs, and a Disney movie marathon.  That is, if you don't mind that's it's an imaginary party.  ;) 

I'm thankful for another wonderful year!  
Thanks to my mom who did all the work to bring me into this world 28 years ago! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Am an Excellent Surprise Ruiner

I've never had a surprise party thrown for me, but if I had, I'm sure I would have ruined it.  I've always loved my birthday.  When you're a kid, it's just plain fun!

Slumber parties!
Chuck E. Cheese's!
Pool parties!
Goody bags!
Ice cream!

Who wouldn't like that?  I may be older, but I still love my birthday.  I don't take the day off from work, I haven't had a party since I turned 21, and I never have plans with my friends.  It's always low-key, but secretly, it's still a special day for me!

Let me tell you about how I ruined my birthday gift from Mr. TBS... twice.


A few weeks ago, I brought the mail in after work.  In my usual fashion, I started emptying my lunch bag and putting things away.  I opened the mail, which included a package, to sort through it (and recycle almost all of it).  Without looking at who the box was from, I opened one end of the box and slid the contents onto the table.  I didn't even touch anything.  I saw the cookbook that changed our lives, so I was happy about that!  I left it there, knowing that Mr. TBS said he would order it from Amazon.

Five minutes later, Mr. TBS held up Bridesmaids on Blu-Ray, and said, "So you saw your birthday present!"  I was surprised!  I didn't see it, because it was under the cookbook.  Oops!


A few days later, we got home from work and started settling in.  He was changing his clothes to work out, so I unpacked his lunch bag for him.  And then I found the cutest cupcake card -- my birthday card!  I didn't have the heart to say anything, so I left it on the table next to his wallet as my silent way of letting him know, giggling the whole time.

Five minutes later, he saw the card on the table.  We were both laughing, because I ruined my birthday gift again!  Double oops!

Moral of the Story: 
I'm an excellent surprise ruiner.

Silver lining:
1.) We died of laughter watching the Bridesmaids special features.
2.) He doesn't have to write a card!

Have you ever ruined a surprise party or a gift for yourself?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thoughts on Grad School

1.) The person who contributed to the first discussion board three days before the term even started needs to chill out.

2.) I contributed the following to a discussion board for my Marketing class: "It makes it much easier for consumers to buy more than they intended to (or as I like to call it, the "Target effect")." The Target effect?  It's like I think I'm a blogger or something... 

3.) Discussion board threads.  Need there be so many?  I don't like having to jump around so much. And the award for Laziest Grad Student goes to... 

4.) I had no idea I could highlight or write in my rental textbook.  Cheers to that, although I kind of feel like I'm helping the next person cheat.  So cheers to... enabling?

5.) It's a good thing this season of So You Think You Can Dance is over, because last Tuesday night proved that SYTYCD takes precedence over studying.  Oops.  "Oh, my gosh!  It was, like, one time!"  (I know Meg will appreciate that reference.)

That's a lot of text, so here's a school-related picture for you:

I thought I was such a bad-ass on my college graduation day. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend Gear

I learned something very important.  I look like a completely different woman with a hat on.  Well, I don't think so, but Boone does.  That poor little guy froze in his tracks, contemplated why my voice was coming out of some foreign object, and then exited the room like a ninja.

I'm sorry, Boone.

That aside, can I tell you about Striped Shirt?  Striped Shirt is based in Houston.  Laura Beck created the company in an effort to provide cute, stylish, and fitted options for girls to support their sports teams.  I've never been one for the pink, glittered, and rhinestone-enhanced jersey shirts, so I understand that battle!  My fan gear options always seemed to be pastel hues & fitted or actual team colors & boxy.  Striped Shirt solves my problem!  I got a navy and white shirt for my hometown baseball team (and former employer), the San Diego Padres!

A few things I love about these shirts:

- Stripes are always in, so I can wear this shirt whether I'm at a sporting event or not.
- It contains 5% Lycra, so it fits much better than a T-shirt without being skin-tight.
- It isn't a paper-thin screen tee that I have to wear a tank top under.  Amen to that!
- I love the length.  It's long enough that it's not a belly shirt, and I'm not swimming in it either.

Check out Striped Shirt!

Striped Shirt
Use code Houston for 30% off through 9/30

Found HERE

P.S. I really want to buy the Maroon & Gold shirt, so I can have a Harry Potter shirt without it screaming I LOVE HARRY POTTER.  It's seems like a sound investment to me.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This Goes Out to All The Mommies, Daddies, and Rap Lovers

One of my best friends sent me this gem, because she is awesome, and she knows I have good taste in music  videos.  This one goes out to all the mommies and daddies.

Parents rap about maintaining their household by videosonlytube

This one is completely unrelated but brilliant.  Whether you like the song or not, you've never heard karaoke (at a mall, no less) like this!  #youbettaSANG

Random girl Sings at the Mall and Floors Everyone by videosonlytube


All right.  Carry on with your weekend now that I've shared such awesomeness.  Leave hilarious, adorable, or amazing video links in the comments!  It's not like I have studying to do or anything...

Friday, September 21, 2012

High Five For Friday: One Word Edition

Since I overloaded this piece of the internet with photos yesterday, we're going to play a little game I call "High Five For Friday: One Word Edition"!  (But I broke the one-word rule for #3.)

What I really mean is that I didn't take pictures this week, so I've got nothing to show you. 

1.) I had a blast at the Houston Blogger Symposium over the weekend!

2.) Remember how I told you about that grad school thing?  It started this week.

3.)  The name might sound scary, but that shit is goooood.  Sorry for cussing in such a public way, Dad, but that shit is just that good!  Recipe HERE.

4.) I went to sleep before midnight twice this week.  I felt like a new woman when I woke up.  Imagine that.

5.) I'm so happy that Eliana and Chehon won So You Think You Can Dance!  There were so much great talent this season!  Also, I think Eliana and I would be fantastic friends.  Eliana, call me.  I'm sure I can fit you into my schedule somewhere.

On a serious note, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and personal stories in response to the most therapeutic piece of writing I've probably ever written.  I am humbled and grateful beyond measure and thankful to have this space to encourage others.

On an even more serious note, make those brownies (and send me a Thank You card).  You'll be saying "Dat shit is goooood" in your best gangsta voice in no time.

P.S. I'm sorry I used the word shit three times.  Well, now four.

Linking up with From My Grey Desk

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Houston Blogger Symposium Recap

I had the great privilege of attending the Houston Blogger Symposium this past weekend!  Megan Silianoff from Greetings from Texas had a vision, and man, did she run with it!  With the help of some trusty friends, she put together one amazing event!  I left feeling incredibly happy and more connected to my local bloggers.  It was a good reason to get dressed up (something I never get to do)!

I guess you would call this my default pose.

The kick-off event was at Langford Market on Friday night, and it was nice to meet some new faces and hangout with my favorite familiar faces.  By the way, Langford Market is awesome.  It's like Anthropologie with Francesca's prices.  If I loved shopping, my wallet would be in serious trouble!  

Got ready at Meg's apartment "High School Prom" style!

With Darby and Jamie

The symposium was hosted at Hotel Zaza on Saturday, and it was seamless from start to finish!  There was plenty of time and space to mingle, a breakfast was prepared for us, the agenda was listed in the programs (beautifully designed by Kirsten who also did the event site), and it was just plain FUN.  

Paige Budde Photography: BLOGGER SYMPOSIUM
Paige Budde Photography  -- with Meg & Whitney

The panels were designed with all bloggers in mind, from DIY to motherhood to fashion to photography to lifestyle.

The panelists included:

Megan Silianoff (aka all-star event planner) from Greetings from Texas
Alicia DiRago from Dismount Creative
Brandi Lisenbe from Mucho Mucho Bueno Bueno
Katy Atlas from The Sugarlaws
Kelly Garcia from Mucho Mucho Bueno Bueno
Kristina Braly from Pretty Shiny Sparkly
Laura Mayes from The Queso & Kirtsy
Lisa O'Neill from Newton O'Neill Communications

They shared their blogging tips, sponsorship advice, and P.R. knowledge.  There was plenty of time for Q&A, networking, socializing, and shopping at the sponsors' tables throughout the room.  Oh, and drinking champagne.  I know, faaancy, right?  I was most excited about meeting Kristina and Megan!  We ended the day by congregating at the Monarch bar in the hotel for some delicious drinks and good conversation with friends.

With Megan

With Kristina

With Michelle (of Oh, How Pinteresting fame), the first Houston blogger I ever "met."  I love her!  Can't wait to meet Baby Apple!

* * * * * * * * * *

I'd like to thank Meg for being my partner in crime for the event and for photographically documenting the event.  I would also like to remind her that she is no longer permitted to sit in the back seat (unless we want another sitting-on-the-ground-in-the-parking-lot-because-I-think-I'm-going-to-throw-up episode... fun times!).

And of course, I'd like to thank Megan for planning a seriously affordable and kick-ass blogger event!  I am so happy to have been a guest at your "wedding"!  :)

** All of those professional-looking photos?  
Yeah, Meg took those.  (Sweetly Complicated / Meg Cady Photography)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I Like Free Stuff, and I Cannot Lie.

Dear Fellow Specs Wearers,

I've fallen madly in love with  It lured me in with the promise of a pair of free glasses, and so began a passionate experience... of lusting after multiple pairs in their online store.  
I'm usually not the type to invite others into my love affairs, but this is an exception.  
Please jump on this love train, and get yourself some nice, free glasses.  

You're welcome.

Your fellow four-eyes,

Once upon a time, I had really ugly glasses.  Round, metal, hideous.  Oh yeah, with Transition lenses.  Yikes!  That was my first pair when I was 15.  Thank God I didn't have them for long.

I've been very careful in choosing my glasses since then, and I've loved every other pair.   I've always gotten "safe" glasses.  You know, a pair that blends with everything.  That usually means black or tortoise with standard rectangular frames.  They have always served me well, because they work in a professional setting or with cute dress and flats.  There are so many cute pairs out there, but at $100-$400 a pop (no joke!), who can afford more than one pair?

Well, some of my blog friends have talked about Firmoo recently, and it sounded too good to be true.

Online store.
Wide selection of glasses and sunglasses.
A virtual try-on tool.
Starting at $8.00/pair.
High quality.
Low price.  (Their high end is your optometrist's low-low end.)

This is not a joke.  With those prices, I could finally get some "for fun" glasses!  Color!  Wahoo!  It took me a long time to narrow it down, but I finally chose the pair you see above.

I love them.  They have an over-sized retro shape, and they're purple!  I now have three very different pairs of glasses, and the collection will only be growing now that I have  Glasses are like a piece of clothing.  You wouldn't want to wear the same outfit every day, so why wear the same glasses every day?

What makes even more fabulous is that you can...

Get your first pair FOR FREE:

1.) Click any eyewear you like on the site and view the details.
2.) Click on "New customer? Get your first pair free now" under the photo.
3.) Use one of the sharing options (Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail).
4.) Once you share it successfully, you'll receive a voucher of equal value.  (Shipping excluded)

Are you sold yet?  You should be.  Join this love train, and check out

Don't make me tell you twice.
But really.  You won't regret it.  :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

To Write Love on {My} Arms

I hope that those who read Trial By Sapphire understand that this blog is not a tell-all.  I have great admiration for those who post with the utmost honesty and genuinely unravel themselves to teach others by exposing their own experiences.  I think I do this... but to a point.  For as private as I am and as guarded as I can be about my relationships, I feel like I've shared quite a bit on this blog.  However, I feel confident that I have shared personal stories of mine within reason and always with a purpose in mind.  I don't see my blog as a place to vent, but rather, a place to share insight and encourage others to see "the other side" of a given situation.
* * * * * * * * * *

Last week was National Suicide Prevention Week.  Many organizations take part, and you may have noticed commercials on TV and announcements on social media.  There is a non-profit organization called To Write Love on Her Arms, and as they share on their website, they are:

"dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with  
depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  
TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire 
and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery." 
They aim to raise awareness about taboo but serious topics that affect millions of people.  Over time, those who have a history (of any of the bolded topics above) and supporters have taken pictures of the word "love" on their arms and shared them.  It's something that I had never done before last week, but I guess my new love affair with Instagram called for a change, as you can see from the picture above!

* * * * * * * * *

A lot can change in eight years.  In October 2004, I was in the hospital after four years during which wonderful things happened but I rarely felt worthy.  After a hard life lesson and intermittent health issues with my mom, I struggled to piece "normal" life back together and balance all the moving parts.  I filled my time with the activities that brought me joy, but I rarely dedicated any time to healing or making sense of what happens to those left behind by death.

I was having the best academic semester of college to date, I had regular social commitments with friends, I was a student director for a choir on campus, I spent the summer playing the lead in a musical I had a ton of fun in, I enjoyed multiple jobs (university admissions, theme park performer, choir soloist), and I was head-over-heels in love with my boyfriend.  But for the year before that, I was fighting a hard battle.  My lack of sleep and emotional well-being dictated my self-esteem.  Somewhere in all the excitement of everything going right, a small internal whisper told me it was too good to be true.  It threatened to topple my Jenga tower of mounting successes.  Loving the praise of being "so busy and accomplished," I didn't want to blemish the illusion.  Doubt morphed into fear until, one day, it was hard to just be with myself.

I had a menagerie of private self-medicating techniques.  If I couldn't be the happiest or most outgoing, I wanted to be the thinnest.  If I wanted to fool people into thinking I could eat "eat like the guys" and still be thin, I would lose my food afterward.  If people upset or disappointed me, I spitefully showed it on my body, though they would never see it. I did not discriminate against any tool.  I was creative in making my marks.

I will forever be grateful to two people who confronted me, on separate occasions, in the most heartfelt manner without baby-ing me.  It was with their encouragement that I started regular visits with a counselor at my university's counseling center.  (It's one of the most important free student services at a university, in my opinion!)  It was a bumpy ride at first but got better and better every week.  But one day, I knew I was on the verge of a complete melt-down.  I made an emergency visit, and after an intense two hours of being brutally honest with her, I was on my way to the hospital.  I was reviewed by three doctors.  I was questioned about the marks on my body.  My 90-lb. frame was weighed and photographed.  I was put on a strict in-patient schedule for a few days.  It was my rock bottom.  It was a terrible reality check but the necessary break from life that I couldn't give myself.

Now I can speak very honestly about my experience with people who ask about it, but I don't think this public blog is the forum for all the details.   There are people very dear to me who supported me through it, and while it's my story, I feel like it is theirs as well and that I don't have the full authority to share it at will.  Isn't that odd?

One of the most important lessons I've learned from those darker days is how every action and word has a ripple effect.  At the time, I felt like the world was crumbling in on me and me alone, but the things I did took a toll on everyone around me, thus proving that one person can make a difference.  Back then, the difference I made may not have always been good.  (I lied a lot.  I had a sharp tongue.  I distanced myself from good people.)  But now, no matter what kind of day I've had, I make a conscious effort to make a positive difference, or at the very least, maintain my status quo.  I haven't taken a poll recently, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job.  :)

Sometimes, it's a feat to survive life's circumstances, but I feel so accomplished to see how I've grown.  With more clarity and confidence every year, I feel like I am stretching myself into every corner of my being in the best possible sense.  With last week's awareness campaign, this was a worthwhile time to share something so personal.  I am positive that I am not perceived as a hardened soul.  Even people who knew me during that time have admitted that they had no idea something so serious was happening.  I guess I feel like I am proof that everyone is fighting a hard (and different) battle, but more importantly, the hard battle does not have to be life-long.

* * * * * * * * * *

To those who know something is not right with a loved one but don't know how to approach him/her, there is no "right" way.  Sorry to have to tell you this!  :)  My best advice is to:

+ address that person as an equal, without pity.
+ be attentive, and if you're really close with that person, be somewhat intuitive.
+ be honest but with tact.
+ keep ultimatums as a last resort.

To anyone with a dark cloud looming overhead who feels out of control, it will get better.  You have more power than you think.  
Accept help from others.  
Take a deep breath.  
Take the reins.
And then... 
Be kick-ass at life!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Bet

Exactly six months ago, one fantastic woman named Emily Hope (blogger/blog designer/hilarious Canadian) predicted that I would have 500 followers by today.  It was her way of being an encouraging friend, and maybe she even believed it would be true.  We have joked about this "bet" repeatedly over the last six months!

As you can see, it didn't come true.  According to Feedburner, I have 442 subscribers.  Sure, I could have paid to sponsor other blogs, requested to guest post for other bloggers, and done more than my favorite two link-ups, but I am so happy to have supportive readers and friends like E-Ho, and like all of you!

Hope Squared

E-Ho, what can I say?  You're awesome.  Even though I'm 58 short of your prediction, I appreciate the friendship we've built over the last six months.  Thank you!  Send me your address.  "Win" or not, you deserve a prize!

I guess I better start making bets with other bloggers and requesting prizes!  (That Emily is so smart.  Why didn't I think of this first?)  Who wants to make a bet with me?

UPDATE: Erin made the point that "it's not about the number of followers, it's about the quality of followers...and I think we're pretty great," and she is abso-freakin'-lutely right!  I hope you all understand that you are spectacular, and I love having you around this blog!  Thank you for including me in your blog reading!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Kicking Off a Busy Weekend

Photo #2 Source // Photo #4 Source

1.) There is no denying that this owl mug is flippin' adorable!  Another addition to the mug collection.  It's gotten many compliments at the office.  I shall name him Earl.  I also have two bird figurines named Georg (not George) and Hemma in my office.

2.) I can watch Bridesmaids on repeat for days.  The airplane scene always has me laughing, even though I say all the lines aloud!

3.) We finally bought a food processor, and it is going to save us (read: Mr. TBS) so much time in the kitchen!

4.) There is a really wonderful website called Grow Soul Beautiful that launched last week.  I love their manifesto.  Amanda's goal is that the website "will be a bridge that connects the world of people blogging about the outside, exterior health and well-being of the body to those doing the inside work." (Source)  The website will include yoga, photography, and soul nourishment!  And guess who was selected to be a yogi model?!  (I hope you guessed me.)  Me!  :)  Happy early birthday to me!  I still consider myself a yogi newbie, so I am very grateful to be included.

5.) I'm attending the Houston Blogger Symposium this weekend!  There is a party tonight, and then there are some wonderful sessions tomorrow.  Swag bags, big-time blogger panelists, and time with my Houston girls?  Yes, please!  I kind of feel like this is my last hurrah before school starts next week.  Wahoo!

Happy weekend!  Enjoy it!

Linking up with From My Grey Desk

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Husband Doesn't Need Me

I'm in love with my husband.  I fell hard for him over six years ago.  If you've been in love, you can recall how the entire first year is big lovely blur yet every moment together is remembered in infinite detail.  The first "L" bomb is always memorable, but another important thing he told me in that first year was,

"I don't need you."

After the initial shock of my heart being suffocated, he explained.  There was nothing about us that required he be with me.  He could absolutely live without me, but... he chose me.  Immediately, I understood.  He was the first person I dated who I didn't need in some way.  To my detriment, I had relied so heavily on past boyfriends that I lost some independence, and probably, some accountability.  Most of that dependence on others stemmed from the trickling effect of losing Matt.  This time around, I chose Mr. TBS -- without hopes that he would fill a void.  Of course, life would bring difficult times during which we would support each other and endure as a pair, but at the root of it, we chose each other.

We chose each other.
We chose to integrate each other into our personal goals.
We chose a lifetime roller-coaster buddy.
We chose to build a life together.
We chose to invest in each other and our individual selves.

He is my partner in life, and we are equals.  Neither of us expects to be treated like the boss or the princess.  We celebrate each other and maintain our individuality in our one-ness.  Our love is expressed through few material things for reasons of frugality and our intention to focus on experiences together rather than new "toys".  For example, we have gone horseback riding to celebrate our birthdays (one month apart) instead of buying clothes or electronics for one another.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with gifts (and anyone who says otherwise is lying), but we love investing in fun things we can do together!

Last week at yoga, my teacher opened and closed the class with the concept that we cannot control everything in life, but we can control more than we think.  In any given situation, 10% of the equation is what happens to us.  The other 90% is what we choose do afterward.  

To know and grow love that has nothing to do with need has made me feel so... empowered.  And confident and light!  It has changed how I view myself and my relationships.  My husband doesn't need me, and I don't need him, but I know our love is stronger because of that. 

I don't really believe in luck, but realizations like this make me feel so lucky!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Things I Whisper-Sing to Myself in Public

Confession time!

"Why isn't this enjoyable?"  I whispered this question to myself in public many times this weekend as I walked... and walked... and walked.  Through a mall.  (I'll give you ladies a moment to pick up your jaws from the floor.)  Who am I, right?

Friends, I become a pathetic excuse of a person when I know I have to go to the mall.  It's true.  I was not made for shopping.  (My closet sighs.)  If I go for anything more than buying a gift card or walking around aimlessly with a friend, I put it off.  I smile and say in my best childish whine to Mr. TBS, "I don't want to goooooo."  He replies with an amused, "I don't blame you."  I always do the same song and dance -- begrudgingly sauntering around the house to get ready.  Shoulders hunched forwarded, arms dangling, chin jutted forwarded, puppy dog eyes.  He smiles and hugs me.

"Have fun!"

"Okaaaaay."  And then I'm out the door.

To give you some insight into how I approach a trip to the mall, I'll explain how I "prepared" on Friday night.

- I wrote down every store I wanted to go to and which mall zone it was listed under.
- I looked up the mall hours to make sure I got there within the first hour.
- I quickly browsed store websites and made note of the things I wanted to try on.

(Now that I'm writing this out, I realize how neurotic this sounds!)  I like browsing through stores if I have Starbucks in hand and I'm only there to hang out with someone.  However, I like to get in and out of stores when I'm there to actually try on and buy clothes.  There is no thrill in the hunt for me, you guys.  I wish there was!  I like to walk into neatly organized stores where everything is displayed nicely, so I can quickly scan the room, grab what pleases my eye, and move the heck on!  

I survived the mall by humming songs to myself and whisper-singing the following to myself:

"Whyyyyy is this not fuuuuun for me?"
"Are you freaking kidding me right now?"
"Make it stop."
"I like you! ... Not $125-like you."
"Dear God, please make this fun for me."

I am almost positive that a few people heard me.  Well, not only did I survive a full 4.5 hours of independent shopping, but I have successfully spruced up my wardrobe!  Because my company has strict attire guidelines, they provide annual corporate attire money.  (Cha-ching!)  Lucky for me, my boss does not care a lick about the color rules, so I made some colorful purchases.  :)  I also felt really fancy when I purchased my first pair of Michael Kors heels!

Other weekend finds include the elusive mason jar stamp (which has only been available on eBay until I nabbed the only one at Michael's) and ridiculously yummy tea.

How was your weekend?
Does anyone else out there dread shopping like me?