ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I posted this on Facebook, but figured I would throw it up over here on the blog as well for those who are not on FB.  Catherine Harrington nominated me for the ALS ice bucket challenge, so I braved it last night.  I have to admit, after seeing so many videos I figured it would be no big deal, but it was seriously freezing! Definitely took my breath away!

I also made a donation to the cause.  Last I heard, this ice bucket challenge movement had raised over $50 million for ALS research!  That is pretty impressive!  And that doesn't count the donations that people have made to other causes!  The power of social media at work, my friends.  Great result!

Have you done the challenge, yet?

Exterior Makeover - Paint Reveal

Okay anyone else as annoyed at the most dragged out makeover reveal ever, as I am at myself for dragging it out?  Well, you should be. 

Luckily, I really did keep my promise and take photos of the outside of our house, post-paint makeover!  Yay, me!  (Okay, so I was too lazy to move the car out of the driveway, but at least you can sort of get the picture!)

Okay, so a little reminder of what the outside of our house looked like before...

And.... after...

And, a little side-by-side action...

I don't know about you, but we love it!  We held our breath as the paint went on, and feel really good about how it turned out.  Though, as I was photographing it tonight, I realized that the color is very similar to the inside of our main floor.  Ha!  I must love colors that have a bluish undertone!  (though don't tell my husband... I have a surprise for a pop of color inside! But more on that later!)

Laundry Room Project Time!

Remember when I said a laundry room makeover was brewing?  Well, I dove in over the weekend!  I don't have a lot to reveal just yet, but first here is a little sneak peek at the before.  Am I an organized genius or what?  (sarcasm noted.)  

{ side note: the clothing rack is new, I was just testing it out... }

You see, the problem (excuse?) is... when you buy your first place you gradually accrue more and more. More hand tools, more gardening tools (I have no idea why those are in the laundry room!), just more.  And as you do that, your orderly system gets thrown to bits.  So, I am making it my mission on this project to have a proper place for everything.  And that includes tossing things out into the garage that have no business taking up residence in our laundry room.  Hey, the garage will be another project, another post.  I'm allowed to toss.

I don't have much to reveal just yet, but here is my first step into painting the cabinets a beautiful bright white! (have I mentioned previously that I LOVE chalk paint?  It is seriously a breeze!)

These little guys will be getting a quick spray with some black paint (I know they look black, but sadly they are brown) once I finish painting all of the cabinet doors for a fresh update and a way to tie in the rest of the black hardware in the room.

We'll see what I can come up with for the rest of it, but fingers crossed it brightens and organizes this useful space so that we stop using it as a dumping ground when guests come over!  And to think, Chris suggested we could even leave the doors off the cabinets!  A girl can dream, but we are never going to be the perfectly put together, organized sort.  A little hiding is allowed.

If you are looking for me over the next week, this is likely where I'll be.  Oh, and taking after photos of the exterior makeover I promised ages ago.  I'll do it tonight.  I hope swear. 

Breaking the Routine - part one.

I don't know about you, but I find it far too easy to fall into familiar routines, especially during the week when I get home wiped out from work (oh, and that five a.m. alarm clock!).  I seem to notice this happening with us every few months, and always try to think of ways to combat the repetitive habits we have subconsciously fallen back into.  

So on Monday we decided to pack up our dinner (spinach and black bean enchiladas - yum!), and take our chairs over to the lake to enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air.  (the fact that our AC unit went out over the weekend, making our house a veritable oven, had nothing to do with wanting to escape to the lake for dinner...)

And we didn't stop there.  Earlier this week, in an effort to do something different and spontaneous, I decided to meet Chris downtown Denver after work.  Working in Boulder, myself, I don't make it into downtown Denver all that often, particularly midweek, but as Chris is working down there at the moment, it seemed like a great opportunity to be impulsive.  

After parking up in his building, and spending waayyyyyy too much time trying to find my way out of the parking garage, (seriously people, ever hear of a sign to the elevators?!) we decided to forgo our usual reach for the ever-helpful UrbanSpoon app and just find a restaurant that looked good and give it a try!

We stumbled onto a somewhat familiar street (though we hadn't been to any of the restaurants), and remembered a recommendation from some good friends for a great little French restaurant.  Done!

So off we went towards the tucked-away-little-restaurant with quiet patio dining options.

It wasn't anything crazy, just dinner out in a new place, but we both left feeling refreshed.  Breaking out of your routine can open your eyes a bit, making you notice things you might normally overlook, because you are in a new, exciting place.  I love that.  I have a few other fun things up my sleeve to help us mix things up (and enjoy!) the rest of the Summer.

Do you ever find yourself falling into the same old routines?  How do you break out of them?

Weekend Stress-Reliever

After a very stressful week at work, I retreated to the mountains for some stress-relieving hiking therapy, not one but two days straight!  And it was just what the doctor ordered.  

Saturday, I set off early to meet a friend up in a super cute mountain town called Evergreen, only to sit in traffic for an hour and a half longer than necessary due to an accident.  But I plugged on, and was so glad that I did.  We picked a random trail and ended up climbing to the top of a mountain.  For real.

Sunday, Chris and I headed up for an afternoon in the mountains, enjoying this beautiful mountain road, when we turned the corner to see a motorcycle wipe out in the gravel on the side of the road.  Chris hopped out, along with a few others that were driving past, and lifted the motorcycle off of the couple who were still trapped underneath it.  Luckily they were both okay, though the same cannot be said for the bike, but still scary to see.  

We eventually carried on towards our destination: Mount Evans.  Just as we reached the entrance to Mount Evans road, we realized we were super low on gas and would probably not make it up the mountain and have enough gas to get us back down to the nearest gas station (though we did seriously consider coasting!). So we parked up and went for a hike around Echo Lake, figuring we would catch Mount Evans views another time.  We spent some time around Echo Lake this past winter, cross country skiing, but it was our first time up there in the summer and it was equally as beautiful in the summer sun as it was covered in three feet of snow.

Here it is in the winter...

And this past weekend...

We discovered a really cool trail, with beautiful views all along the way.  And I have to say, there really is nothing like the camaraderie and friendliness found on hiking trails.  It puts a little spring in your step.

(side note: all photos taken on Sunday are courtesy of hubs. I forgot my phone.  :)

Oh, and Saturday night we enjoyed a sunset dinner at the lake.  Stunning.  So grateful that we live so close to this beauty.

What did you do this weekend?  What is your cure for stressful weeks?

Highly Sensitive People - According to Sarah, part one

{ Disclaimer: This is a post that I have been writing (and rewriting, and rewriting) for several months.  It is both intimidating and overwhelming to even consider pressing the publish button on such a personal post, but  I did make a vow to be open and honest on here, so... here goes nothing. Allow me to explain... }

Last year, I came across some research by a woman named Dr. Elaine Aron about what she calls Highly Sensitive People.  It caught my eye, as I have been known to be a bit sensitive in the traditional sense of the word.  I had no idea, however, just how much her research on HSPs would move me.  It is not just referring to someone who gets their feelings hurt easily.  It is how and why the world overwhelms these people that identify as HSP: because they have a much more sensitive nervous system.

The reason this is so intimidating to write about, is because I relate so much to it, but also because I worry I won't do it justice.  I am not a psychologist, researcher, or expert in any sense of the word.  I simply feel that this personality trait describes me better than I have ever been able to describe myself.  

So rather than trying to speak scientifically about Highly Sensitive People, I intend to talk about how and why I relate to this trait.  I also worry that everything I do will now be attributed to this trait and while I do relate to it on many levels, not all of it applies to me.  And it certainly doesn't mean that everything I do is because I, myself, am an HSP.  Yep, you heard right.  My good friend, fear, is holding me back from speaking more openly about this.  I am hoping that this post (and any more to come in the future) will generate positive discussions and compassion towards people that might appear to communicate, handle situations, or just generally act different to you.  Not just HSPs, but people in general.  For surely there are others out there who may not identify as an HSP, but as having another personality trait that impacts the way they move about in the world.

It has certainly done this to me.  I am much more aware of how kind and compassionate I am to both myself and others.  I can better understand the fact that not everyone thinks, acts, eats, drives, or communicates in the exact same way as me.  And that's okay.  It's more than okay, it's what makes this beautiful little world of ours so great.

So, just what does it mean to be a highly sensitive person?  Gosh, I won't even pretend that I can explain this as well as Dr. Aron, but what I can do, is tell you is how this trait affects me.  How does that sound? 

If I had to say, in one sentence, the best way to describe how this trait affects me, is to say that because I tend to be much more aware of my surroundings, and I take everything in, I can feel easily overwhelmed by the world.  When I say overwhelmed, what I mean is that I get overstimulated.  I don't only notice the general things in a situation, I also observe every small little detail about my surroundings or situation without even realizing that I am doing it.  Until recently, I thought that everyone did this. That I was normal in picking up on all of these seemingly insignificant details.  Turns out, that might not be the case after all.

I understand that this might sound silly, but it's important to note that having these heightened senses doesn't mean that you don't enjoy being out in the world.  In my situation, it is quite the opposite.  I love socializing, trying new things, and visiting new places.  All of which, quite often lead to over-stimulating my brain.  So as long as I have downtime after these intense (to me) situations, I'm golden.

Now, along with that over-stimulation, comes other side effects.  HSPs typically tend to feel more, and feel more deeply than your average person.  This is where the sensitive part is exactly what you would expect it to be.  I don't know if it is a result of the over-stimulation that makes us more sensitive to situations and people, or if it is its own unique part of this trait, but I will say that over the years I have been put into the box of being too sensitive more times than I can count.  And while I have always wished that I could grow thicker skin to hide this sensitivity, I now understand it in a way that makes me proud of my sensitivity.  Like its own little badge of honor.  It's who I am, it helps me have compassion for others, it allows me to truly feel my emotions, and, of course, to cry at work.  That last one I am not super proud of, and can honestly fill an entire post about HSPs in the workplace (or at least my own experience as an HSP in the workplace), but I will leave that for another chapter day.  

{ stolen from hubs... }

As much as I fear that I will be put into a certain box for being open about this trait of mine, I also have hope. Hope that if I can help even one other person to better understand themselves, that this public declaration and moment of (insane?) honesty will have been worth it.

So I will leave it there for today, allow it to percolate, restrain myself from going back and deleting the entire post before more people see it, and return with a follow up post in the coming weeks about my life with this unique (and totally awesome) trait.

If you are interested, I highly recommend Dr. Aron's book (she has many!), called The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.  Even if you don't think that you relate to this trait, it might help you understand a friend or loved one in your life that does.  

Wonder if you, too, may relate to this trait?  Take the self-test on Elaine Aron's site.  And visit here and here for even more information.  There is another test for HSPs that are also sensation seekers, which I suspect I just might be.  More on that to come!

Okay, that's all.  Oh, and please be gentle in your comments...

Weekend Fun - Irish Style!

A few weeks ago, Chris and I managed to catch a local Irish festival, which filled our Irish-music-loving souls to the brim.  It made us a bit nostalgic for the famous Galway Ramblers, that we feel so lucky to call family, and their West Coast tour that we got to be a part of a few years ago.  But we loved it all the same.

Obligatory Guinness shirt.

These two were sisters from Canada, and boy did they knock our socks off!  Amazing voices, fiddle-playin', and traditional Irish dancing!  Need I say more?

We almost stayed for the big act at the end of the day, but the storm clouds weren't looking so good so we booked it to the car just in time for the worst rain storm I have ever experienced!  Those poor people still at the festival... We did not regret our decision to leave at that point.  Though we were laughing so hard from the hurricane force rain that we couldn't exactly drive.  Or was it the hurricane force rain that was preventing us from driving?  Either way, we had a great time!

It also reminded us that we are due a visit back to Ireland.  We can't wait to see everyone there and catch up soon!

Happy Friday!