Monday, December 26, 2011

Our First Christmas!

Last year for Christmas Eve's Eve, Dovey proposed to me at our absolute favorite Italian Resto, over a cannoli! It was pure bliss because we are definitely foodies. ♥

The following night his family came over to have a game night, and the rest of the year was a whirlwind! Complete with a Wedding, a Move, and a whole lot of commuting!

This year, we decided to start a few traditions of our own.

Tradition One: Christmas Cards! 
Being a Creative Director has its perks, like being able to design the perfect Christmas Card all on my own! lol... Now Dovey was raised sans Christmas... so that made the wording a little sticky, as well as who we could share our cards with on his side... but I was determined.

We had quite a time trying to get the photo of our family complete, Turtle didnt want to come out and play, and Little Dog was totally not having the picture day. In the end we opted for one great shot of just him and I... with a wish for 2012.

First Christmas Card

Tradition Two: Christmas Tree.
You should have seen how difficult it was to get his help... it was like pulling teeth! And the only part I needed help with was fishing it out of storage. (he was SO grumpy!) But in the end, our tree looked perfect!

First Christmas Tree as a Married Couple

I love my snow white TiGgeRs and my woodsy Christmas tree! :)

Tradition Three: Holiday Plans.
Dovey wanted to repeat last year, Dinner at Italian Resto on Eve's Eve, then Family Fun Night on Eve... Christmas just the two of us at home...

Tradition Four: New Years Resolution Planning
We wanted to do this before the mad rush to resolutions, so we made this our Christmas Tradition. We assessed last years' plans, saw our improvement and epic fails.. (this year there werent many of those!) and we wrote our individual goals for 2012, and our family goals - which included vacations, an ideal timeline for buying a house and procreating, plans to eat better and be more Green, and lastly - making our tiny one bedroom apartment make sense since we will be here throughout 2012.... (ORGANIZE NOW in full effect!)
One of my favorite bloggers wrote a book about 'Organized Simplicity' - which I purchased and read, but found it to be a little advanced for our current family state (on the shelf until we have kids!) and in the end of the book it talked about a book called 'Organize Now!'. This one spoke to our RIGHT NOW state... so I of course purchased it immediately, read through it completely, and have been organizing my plan of attack for 2012!

Available at Amazon

I hope that all of you started some traditions this year, and that you made them your own!
Wishing you a New Years' filled with fun and friends and amazing changes for the future!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

She's Crafty...

Several years ago I went to a holiday gathering with a friend and their grandmother had made these 2 liter bottles for everyone... we were awed and amazed! I remembered all this time and finally made my own! I used diet coke because I heart the juxtaposition of it all. :)

Its easy just cut the label carefully at the seam, Peel back. Cut a large C shape under the label (about four inches wide) add tissue paper to the bottom. Stuff the large pieces first, then fill with the small stuff!

I stuffed these with a small game (skipbo, left center right, and sting) a full size starburst and hersheys, Altoids, Reese's trees, marshmallow Santa, and Reese's cups, rolos and kisses.

Are you awed and amazed? At the least, its a fun conversation piece. ;)

All my best,
Madam Sawyer

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Goodness...

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the day that Dovey asked me to marry him. ONE YEAR! And there was the act of planning a wedding involved but we still survived! LOL.

Right now my head is just about everywhere! I have some very close friends going through huge changes, one having a baby (AS I TYPE!) and the other getting married (NEXT WEEKEND!). Though not complete surprises, both have been a little taxing on my mental state. I wish I could be there more for both of them, but ITS TRUE, being married does add alot to your daily workload.

Instead of just getting out the door in the morning, you have to pick up a mess, feed the dog (and the turtle of course!), load the dishwasher, do the laundry... the tasks are all doubled and take twice the time. You are constantly wondering "Where has the time gone?" and its gotten even worse since I started a business.

Not that I am complaining, I just really need to get this time management thing under wraps soon. I am consistently overwhelmed by the amount of things requested of me, and the amount of things I wish I could get done!

My one hope before tomorrow evening, is that I get the craft done that I have been planning for 2 weeks but havent had an entire hour to complete it. I have EVEN added it to my schedule, and still 'life' gets in the way.

I know it will get better, I know that I will get the hang of this married thing and all that comes with it yet! LOL. It just takes some time.

I dont envy those who jump into it feet first, doing it all at once. Its nice to have some time to figure things out, make mistakes and learn from them.

Everything in life follows the same rulebook, one day at a time, minute by minute. Every change is for the betterment of you, no matter what!

May your holiday season be filled with small changes and big miracles!
All my love,

PS. I am always open to new ideas and tips on organizing my schedule and my life... got any? or books that you recommend?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One of the hardest things...

One of the hardest things for me about being married, is that I met my husband after losing two very important people in my life. My father died 10 years ago, and my best friend died just 2 years ago. I am saddened that these two amazing people never got to formally meet the man I chose to walk with all the days of my life.

I wish every day that I could have met him sooner, that he could have shared even just one memory with the people that helped me become who I am today. I wish too that he could have known my daddy's mannerisms and wish that my best friend could have teased him and kept him in check the way she did with EVERYONE else in my life. Even a handshake with my Dad would have given him insight into the wonderful man that he was.

If he had met them, perhaps he would better understand why my heart hurts a little more during the holidays, and why my traditions - though silly - mean so much to me. This is not to say that he argues any of these points. On the contrary, he allows me to follow my heart when it comes to all things holiday - but I know because he was not raised to put such high value on tradition and holidays that he must question my need for them. To me, the holidays and traditions I hold so dear are the manner in which I hold on to my memories of the amazing people that once touched my life.

Today, on my Bestie's birthday, I look back on the memories that we made together and forward to the memories that I am making without her - and I am grateful every minute to have Dovey in my life. I hope that he feels like he knows my dad and my Jo - even just a little bit - because of my love for them.

♥Happy Birthday Jo - I hope Daddy, Mimi and Papa are up there helping you eat dozens of those delicious confetti cupcakes that you love so much! ♥

With a heavy heart,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's been awhile...

Hi everyone!
It's been quite awhile since my last post. Dovey and I did some thinking and decided that we need to put the pedal to the metal when it comes to buying a house. :) Yay for a new house! However in order to buy a house in the next few years, we needed to have more income to put into savings! So... I started my own business! I am now a Lia Sophia jewelry advisor. The first few weeks were pretty crazy... I had to learn everything I could about direct sales - as this was my first feet first plunge into the world of Sales!
Thankfully, Lia Sophia offers TONS of information in the Lia Sophia University section of the advisor website, so I did every webinar I could find, read every piece of material, learned every way that was available to conduct a show and finally found my own groove in the Lia Sophia family. Ive completed my first 5 weeks, done 7 shows and have earned my first jewelry bonus! I'm also well on my way to earning a gem kit or two - MORE FREE JEWELRY!
And the best part?! While building our savings (in just 6 three hour shows a month) I can also earn a trip to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico! :) woot woot. Vacation planning at its best - because its FREE!
This business thing is quite the challenge, but I'm up for it!
I know that I've been neglecting my blog the last few weeks - and this is why.... :) But I promise to try harder to keep up with posting, as well as my business - and the magazine... ;) and of course time with my hubby! Considering he is the inspiration for everything I do these days, he has to come first!
Thanks for listening! xoxo,

PS. If you dont know what Lia Sophia is, check out my website... :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

An experiment in commuting....

Dovey and I were house and dog-sitting this past week while our friends were on vacation in South America. This friend lives in Moorpark, CA - about 40 miles away from our house. We decided to look at this adventure as an experiment on how we would do as commuters.

We gathered up a weeks belongings and the pup and headed out on Sunday afternoon. We just love their house, huge backyard for the dogs to play in, 4 bedrooms a big kitchen and lots of room to spread out. Moorpark has beautiful weather, in Ventura County so it has the beachy weather. Its a quiet neighborhood too. Its the equivalent of our 'dream' home except the distance from the city. Suburban living is the trade off for space! We did enjoy the weekend time, relaxing in the back yard with the dogs and enjoying the quiet, suburban life.

Test 1: Early mornings and late nights! 
Dovey works all over the city with different clients. The first day he was working near our home, and left an hour earlier than usual (at 7am) to get there on time. He said that he arrived on time - barely - and that traffic was horrendous.  In the evenings, he had to hang back for an hour until the traffic broke up - and didnt arrive at the house until about 8pm. (We usually eat dinner around 645 - so we were both starving by that time)

One day this week he also worked in Long Beach - a trek he takes every other week on average, so this was the true test! He went to the office first so he wouldn't be counted as late - that took about 1 hour - and then left after his morning huddle to LB - another 2 hours one way. He was on the road for about 6 hours that day and decided that the 2 more than usual really wasn't nice. He was exhausted from dealing with traffic, and starving when he arrived home at 8pm.

I work the opposite direction, but the first day I also left about an hour earlier. My drive took just 15 minutes more - and I was stuck close to the office with about 40 minutes to kill. (Target here I come! Best place to window shop! haha) Every other day I just gave an additional 15 minutes, so the commute didn't bother me that much. But waiting for him to get home at night was the kicker.

Test 2: Carpooling!
In order to save gas and mileage - we decided to try carpooling from the house a few times. This way only one car would make the trek to Moorpark.  It was nice to be together on the ride there and back, have a little more time together - but we still had the early mornings and late nights. We also ate out during the 'hang back' time on those days - which would have been nice except we were paying more for gas, mileage AND food as a result.

Our Decision:
Overall, we decided that we weren't going to cut it as a 'commuter couple'. We would rather pay more to live in the city and sacrifice size and space for quality of life. We really missed our morning and evening walks - spending that crucial fresh air and cool down time behind the wheel was an awful trade-off. We were both grumpier and super tired all the time. We ate out more because we lacked the energy to cook - sacrificing our healthy homemade cooking for convenient, bad-for-you food just wasn't our thing. Once in a while junk food is a treat, but all the time is just bad news bears! (At least in our opinion!) We aspire to be healthy and happy - and this was definitely not the way to achieve that!

I'm glad though, that we had this chance to see what life would be like - so that we didn't just assume it to be a better choice and buy further out without knowing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A surreal visit to the DMV...

Yesterday I paid a visit to my local DMV office to obtain my new Driver's License and pay my vehicle registration. This time I planned ahead and scheduled an appointment online for first thing in the morning. I arrived at 8:59am, just before they opened the doors and noted the line around the building for those without appointments. 
{Thank goodness for being a planner! Really though, why WOULDN'T you schedule an appointment - nowadays you can do them online and even from your cellphone!}

I joined the line of 5 appointment people, and shuffled my way inside. I was AMAZED at the cheery disposition of all of the employees. The woman processing the queue greeted me with a smile, was very informative - making sure that I had all of the necessary documents to complete my transactions and giving me the application to fill out. She then told me when it was finished to 'just pop in front of everyone else' and she would get me to a window. CHA-CHING!

Within minutes I was at a window, where another very kind woman greeted me with a smile and began processing my requests.
{Seriously folks... did someone slip some happy pills in the coffee pot?!}
Then she tells me that she apologizes for the delay (I've been standing for all of 1 minute at this point.) but that they began implementing a new system this morning and that they have never used it before.
{Hold up. So everyone's smiley and happy AND your learning a new system? How is that even possible?} 
She completed the name change and moved onto the registration in no time at all - and then pointed me in the direction of the photo booth...

THANK GOD I get to take a new picture... the last one was stretched horizontally by their system - making me look about 30 lbs heavier! Fingers crossed that doesn't happen again!

The man at the photo desk was being silly and smiley and happy too.. he was joking around with me and all of his neighbors... keeping the mood light and airy. Fingerprint. Signature. Photo. Done! The man said that I will receive my actual identification in 2 - 4 weeks and to Have a great day! I look at the clock on the wall on my way out, stunned... all that happiness and it's only 9:20am.

With a cheeseball smile on my face, I was off - with my new 'Sawyer' paper identification in hand - ready to face the day!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The most amazing part of marriage...

I know there are too many things that fall under this heading, but Ive only been married for just under 6 months, and the most amazing part SO FAR has been "family."

Growing up it was my sister and I, my mom and my Daddy... with the addition of two half brothers, my dad's first wife and her husband and all of my brothers best friends (there were about 5 at family gatherings! plus their significant others if they had them!) A big extended family was the most amazing part of the holidays. When everyone grew up and got their own spouses, things changed again... less time together, more time for them and their families.

And then my dad passed away. I know that it was no ones intention but tragedy does some strange things to people. There were serious cracks in our family's stability and a lot of separation. Sadly, it took ten years to repair a few of those cracks and a few of them seem to be permanent. Though there were survivors, to this day we struggle to survive as a family unit.

Enter Dovey - though his family has had its ups and downs, they continue to be strong and remain close. Mom & Dad are still together (after 35 yrs!), and live close enough to have monthly visits. He has 5 siblings, two older half brothers (like me!) and three that he grew up with. And when we married I became an aunt to 10 amazing kids! I'm even going to be a great aunt in just a few months!

I feel as though I am learning from all of them every day. Learning about myself, and what I value most. And when Dovey and I decide to become parents, it makes me happy to know that they too will be part of a very large family circle.

With hope for the future,

♪ ♫ We are family... get up everybody and sing! ♪ ♫

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Great Wall of Los Angeles

Today, Dovey and I decided to take a field trip. We recently found out that we are just a mile away from the 'world's largest mural' in the Los Angeles River. Dove was having some trouble getting started that day, so before we knew it it was 1pm. We decided to walk over there since it wasnt too far away.

They had just completed the renovation project and the colors were beautiful and vibrant. It took you through LA in prehistoric times, through wars and strikes and political agenda's. The Spanish conquistadors, Mexican rule, there was the Japanese Internment camps and the Indian Relocation. There were some less depressing parts too, like the beginning of Rock and Roll and the Movie Era (with Mr. William S. Hart!). It was AWESOME. So many years, so many artists - all keeping true to the original. I am attaching some photos too. :)

If you have a day and are capable of walking a mile, I suggest you pop on over. and take a look.
Happy travels!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A look into the past...

Last night Dovey and I were discussing our family trees, and how we really don't know much past our grandparents. After much deliberation, we decided to start an family tree. Though it is quite simple to get started, there are already a few issues we have come across.

One... adoptions! How on earth do I show that my mother was adopted by her aunt, and that three of my husbands sibs were adopted. (CONFUSING).

Two... Historical references. For example, how am I to obtain a photograph of a great grandparent for the tree? or know what wars they participated in, and where they resided?

Three... it looks like the only way can assist is if you have more than JUST a name (meaning a birth city, death city, dates of birth or death) once you have that the little leaf appears and VOILA! you have access to official documents. :( If I barely know their name, how on EARTH am I going to know their birthdate!

UGH. What have we gotten ourselves into!? I have sent out a call for help to all of our family members... perhaps they can shed light into the shadows and we can end up with a substantial family tree, complete and filled with little tidbits of uniqueness.

Filled with hope,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Becoming a Sawyer: Part One - Second Attempt!

So this morning I paid my second visit to my local Social Security Office to start the process of legally becoming a Sawyer.

When it came to changing my name, I was faced with quite the conundrum. Drop the maiden name? Hyphenate it? Keep it the same? I finally settled on adding my maiden name as a middle name to honor my father's memory. Of course a name change has a few steps - the Social Security office being the first, followed by the DMV and the US Passport service. Then to send off proof of the name change to all of my banks and creditors. Oh the joys of changing your life.

Today ran a lot smoother than the last time, I was the first number called, no waiting! There were no hitches with the paperwork or the documents either!

Thankfully, today I am one step closer to becoming a true Sawyer!

PS. Dovey and I made BBQ Sloppy Joes for dinner this evening. DELICIOUS! We had tried them at Saddle Ranch a few months ago and decided to give it a go. We found a recipe that was capable of a perfect two portion split, substituted ground turkey meat and added green bell pepper and jalepeƱos to the mix... it was scrumptious! ;)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A trip to the market...

Dovey and I have been trying to get the whole Cooking at home - Cooking for two - Cooking healthy - Cooking on a budget thing down... and boy has it been a challenge.

On our first attempt, we picked up a random cookbook, bought tons of new ingredients and made WAY too much food. That was when our weekly bill was almost $200!   The food was delicious, but SUPER high in calories. Not for two - not healthy - not on a budget. You know there's a flaw in the system when you can eat out all week long and spend LESS! 

For our next try, we started with a healthier cookbook (the calorie counts were printed clearly at the bottom of the recipe). However, it was still 8 servings! We tried to cut them into two portions, but that didn't work out - the flavors and consistencies were all wrong. The ingredients were costly as well... we were able to get the budget down to $125/week, but we thought it was still too much.

Then we went back to our roots - trying the 'meat and potatoes' diet. It worked pretty well because we were able to make the proper serving size and included lots of veggies - but the meals were heavy and the variety just wasn't there. 

I was ready to throw in the towel, when I decided to ask my boss what her secret was to cooking for two... she smiled and said "Trader Joe's." So after dinner this evening, Dovey and I took a field trip to TJ's.

Seriously folks, how did I not know about TJ's? They have an amazing variety of healthy foods, perfectly portioned for two people and the best part - One weeks’ worth of goodies including Chinese, Mexican, Italian and American menus totaled just over $50!

Did you hear that dinner?! This week, you're mine!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Becoming a Sawyer: Part One

This morning I decided to head over to the Social Security office to start the process of changing my name. I was on a roll - I had worked out, walked the dog and still made it to SS before 9am! I used the self check-in machine, got my number printout and had a seat amongst the 20 or so people that ALSO made it to SS on time. Boo.

While I waited, I couldn't help but notice that the person to my right reeked of cigarette smoke, and the person behind me had one of those very loud oxygen machines. Pleasant. As I slathered on the antibacterial gel, I kept thinking, "Pahleeeeeeeeez... call my number so I can get out of here..."  


FINALLY, that's me! 

I jumped up and walked over to the desk and pulled out my paperwork... SS Card. Check! Application. Check! Passport. Check! Marriage License. UH OH. I had asked Dovey to put the important paperwork from the safe into my purse last night, only to find out that he forgot to give me our marriage license. DOH! Silly husband! 

The grumpy woman said she couldn't complete the name change without the license, but that she would double check my application to make sure that I didn't need anything else. 

She scrolled down the form and stopped midway, and said... "I'm sorry ma'am, but the birth place you have listed is wrong." 

(WTH?! Miss, I am thirty-something years old - I think I KNOW where I was born.) 

I politely assured her that my birth city has been the same since the day that I was born, and that she was quite mistaken. She begins to rifle through her computer only to find that I have TWO birth cities on file... (hmm.) one of which is the city that I had listed on my application. She said that she would delete the other from the system and that I am good to go. Phew. So glad that is settled. 

I then gathered up my documents and moped out of the office - still married to my maiden name. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's just the beginning...

Just five short months ago, my life changed forever... For the Better. I married my best friend, who I will refer to here as "Dovey". The wedding was amazing, a very intimate family gathering at our favorite eatery. There was dinner and merriment, a surprise singing performance by my sister, and the happiest day of my life. (so far!)

Dovey and I FINALLY were able to take a proper honeymoon this past week (to Montego Bay, Jamaica!), where I met some amazing people - one of which had a blog... which got me to thinking, maybe its time for me to revisit my old hobby of writing. :) But what to write about? And then it hit me! I will write about the one thing I know nothing about, but am learning day by day... marriage! So herein you will learn about my day to day lessons of becoming a wife, deciding how to follow our dreams and ... drum roll please... living happily ever after.

Fingers crossed and away we go!