Dreams To Do

September 2013 archive

My Feet Will Lead Me

Live & Love as if today is all we have.

Two years ago today I experienced the most tragic event in my life. A very dear friend lost his battle with skin cancer. If you’ve hung around my blog for a while, then you may even remember when that happened. His name was Mike and we grew up in the same town, were friends in high school, and then when we were in college, my best friend and him fell in love and got married. Mike and Jessica were our go-to couple for double dates and just hanging out. When Mike passed away, I tried my best to brush aside my own personal grief to be there for Jessica, obviously, but also for my husband who lost one of his few close guy friends. It was tough. Still to this day specific memories of fun times with Mike will flash in my head at random moments, like when I’m on my way to work, and it will feel like the wind is knocked out of me. It still hurts so much knowing he’s gone.

This brings me to my childhood best friend, Jessica. We’ve been like sisters since 1st grade. We practically lived at each other’s houses on the weekends growing up and were roomies for 2 years in college. If I thought Mike’s passing was hard on me, it was not even a fraction of the pain she felt. Mike was the love of her life. Her soul mate. They were ridiculously, disgustingly, beautifully perfect together. Today I want to introduce you (if you don’t already know her) to Jessica’s story.


That beauty up there? That is one of the strongest, most inspiring people I know. I don’t think she even has a clue just how tough she is. Since Mike’s death, she’s been on a wild healing journey. Not always easy, and not always fun, but AMAZING. And guess what? She finally came around to starting a blog! It is called My Feet Will Lead Me. I am so excited for others to be able to get a glimpse into all she has been through, from Mike’s final months to her travels around the world in the year following his death. Here’s a snippet from her first post…

I am a widow and not yet 30 years old. How my “fate” or “bad luck” landed me here, I won’t venture to guess. It’s selfish to make it about me, when my husband is the one who is gone, who’s life was slowly snatched from him. 

People deal with loss differently. I think it’s too soon for me to decide how I feel about my journey following my husband’s death and how I dealt with it. I’m proud of some things and not so proud of others. What I can be proud of is the person and wife that I was when he was dying. 

This blog will be a look at my journey through my husband’s cancer, my time of grief traveling the world following his death, and my attempt at putting the pieces of my life back together again. I titled my blog “My Feet Will Lead Me” because this whole process has been about putting one foot in front of the other, and trusting that there will be a path there – trusting that somehow, if I just keep going, eventually I will be as close to being whole again as possible. And as you will eventually see, my feet became comically involved in nearly all my travels in one way or another.

Jess & Mike at our wedding in Hawaii in June 2008…

I have tough days every now and then where I just want to throw in the towel. Days where I’m questioning my life and complaining and just plain feeling low. And then I reflect on all Jessica has been through and all of the opportunity she has created through her tragedy. If she can get through that and come out in an ok place, then surely I can deal with life’s little annoyances. Surely we all can, right?

Please take a minute to stop by Jessica’s blog, My Feet Will Lead Me, and say “Hi!”

3-Ingredient Pumpkin Spice Syrup (for coffee & tea)

‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin spice! Funny because I never was a fan of pumpkin things until recently and now I’m pretty much obsessed. I’ve seen a few recipes for pumpkin spice creamer and pumpkin spice coffee syrup floating around the internet, but I wanted to come up with my own simple recipe. I may not be a whiz in the kitchen, but I do get urges to play around every once in a while. This syrup will be a staple in my fridge for the next few months, it is SO good! And the best part? Super easy.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup Recipe


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 Tbl pumpkin puree

(I know, I know…. technically there are FOUR ingredients, but does water really count?)



What ya do:

Put all of your ingredients in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the sugar is melted. Turn the burner off and let the flavors infuse for several minutes while your liquid cools. Store your pumpkin spice syrup in a mason jar or recycled bottle. In all honesty, I’m not sure how long this will keep (I store mine in the fridge), but I’m guessing for quite a while since it’s pretty much all sugar.


  • Add a splash of vanilla extract for added yumminess.
  • Pour your syrup through a fine strainer/sieve to remove excess spices and puree (not necessary, but you’ll have less stuff sitting at the bottom of your drink that way).

How to use your Pumpkin Spice Syrup:


Prepare coffee or a latte at home and add in enough PS syrup to sweeten to your liking. Top with whipped cream and nutmeg for an added treat. You can also mix some of the syrup with half & half and keep it in your fridge for a quick and easy flavored creamer. Just make sure you always shake it up before use!

Side Note: We own a Nespresso espresso machine and right after making this PS syrup, I made myself and my hubby a latte with it. Andy seriously thought it tasted better than Starbucks! Just think of all the money we’ll save this season! Ha!


Steep a bag of chai tea in a cup of hot water. Add in PS syrup to taste along with some milk or cream. If you want it Starbucks style, try Tazo Chai Tea concentrate instead of a tea bag and mix it with steamed milk (or cold if you want an iced chai). YUMMO!


Thought Vomit

It feels like my mind is being pulled in 450 directions lately. In one week’s time we went from 90 degree summer weather to 60 degrees and fall. Maybe this has something to do with craving change in multiple areas of my life. Maybe this is why I can’t seem to focus on one task long enough to make any good progress in a sitting. Today I’m feeling the urge to sort through my thoughts – to clean things up in my mind a bit. A little bit of thought vomit, anyone? 

>>> My son turns two one month from yesterday. So crazy! I still see him as such a baby, but he’s really not anymore. I’m dying for him to start talking better. He’s super late in his words and it’s frustrating for both of us sometimes. I can’t believe it’s past time for me to start thinking about planning a 2nd birthday party! If you want to give me a theme, I’ll run with it. 🙂

>>> I am quickly approaching the end of my 20’s. CrAzY! Whenever I think about turning 30, I flash back to my last year of high school and being asked by a teacher, “Where do you see yourself at age 30?” At the time it seemed like such a far-fetched age, almost completely unimaginable to a scatter-dreamed high school me. She sure did sneak up on me!

>>> I feel myself approaching a turning point – a fork in the road. I’ve spent the last decade growing up. Instead of using all of it to explore who I am, I finished school, got married, and started popping out babies. No regrets. I feel like my 30’s are going to be a great explorational decade for me. Yes, there will be more babies (at least one, I hope!), but there will also be more time spent dream dabbling and getting comfortable in my own skin. I want to delve a little deeper in to photography, try my hand at selling something online, and maybe even experience being a stay at home momma before my firstborn heads off to kindergarten. I’m sick of always wondering “what if.” I want my 30’s to be about living with no regrets.

>>> The last 3 nights have been hell. For some reason I’ve been an insomniac even though I am painfully exhausted and want nothing more than to sleep. And then when I finally do drift off, either Landon or Leila has a night terror (screaming, crying, kicking, fun times). Or, the dog decides to have a puke fest at 3am. I am so. dang. tired. Maybe tonight will be the night. How the heck did I survive Landon’s first year of life until he FINALLY slept through the night? Seems like such a distant memory.

>>> I have a serious love-hate relationship with social media. One day I can’t get enough of it, and the next I just want to kill all things technology and pretend it never existed. Sometimes all of it just gives me a headache and I feel like I can’t keep up. Anyone else?

>>> Seasonal affective disorder. Blah. Summer was a super productive time for me. I stayed up late into the evenings editing photos and writing. Now? Now I can barely keep my eyes open and my brain focused past 9pm. I seriously don’t know how I’m going to make it through the next 6 months. I need a happy light recommendation!

>>> Sometimes I get waves of stress over never watermarking my photos on this blog. So, today I’m going to test the waters in it. I recently got Lightroom and I must say that I am in LOVE. Such a great tool for organizing photos and apparently it takes like 1 second to watermark! Just figured it out today. 🙂

Photos from last week. Our final taste of summer…


Gah, I hate the stupid watermarks! Not sure if I’ll stick with it or not.

Happy first day of fall! Today my family and I didn’t leave the house all day except for a brisk stroll around the neighborhood. We had a good friend come give us massages (Leila, too!) and then we indulged in some pumpkin spice goodness! I perfected a SUPER easy pumpkin spice syrup that I’m going to share this week as well as pumpkin spice cornbread (thanks to my hubby)! Eat all things pumpkin! YUM!

Freakishly Good

This week started off rocky. While I love fall (the leaves, fall fashion, hot drinks), I have a really hard time with the shorter days. Now that the sun is setting earlier and earlier, my productive evenings are going out the window because all I want to do is curl up in a ball and sleep.

Yesterday, my frown was turned upside down. I woke up chipper and was SUPER productive at work. Like, I haven’t been on a roll like that in a LONG time. It felt good. By noon, I swear I had accomplished the amount I normally do in a full day (shhhh, don’t tell my boss). And then I ditched out on the second half of the day in favor of some shopping with my sis-in-law and her sister. Girl time! No kids! Yes and yes.

So maybe I blew our clothing budget out of the water for the month, but I’m over it. Instead of the normal buyer’s remorse I usually feel, I just feel happy. Happy that I boosted up my fall wardrobe and happy that my mind is in a good place. After shopping I had a wonderful evening with the two most amazing kiddos ever and a fantastically fattening and delicious pasta dinner with my hubby. Life is good.

Now for some recent random happiness from Instagram. If you don’t already follow me, please do! @dreamstodo

My shopping loot…IMG_3397

Sissy is always cracking Landon up! I love their relationship. IMG_3390

$3 clearance find! Still don’t know what to use it for, but it makes me happy. IMG_3379

Got my Starbucks VIP gold card in the mail. Yes, I have a problem. IMG_3376

Last Friday, I got my hair done! This is alien Ariel. IMG_3374

Ya know what? Life is bipolar. You have your good days and your bad days. I’m just trying my hardest to grasp on to the good ones with all of my might in hopes that I can drag them out a little bit longer. Hope you are having a lovely week, too!

Blast From The Past

Eleven years ago I moved out of my parents’ house. Of course, there was the 3 month post-college stint in which I returned, but I never really considered that moving back in. And every time I did return, for holidays and family visits, it never really felt like “me” anymore. The silly photos of my friends and I plastered all over the walls, the “Police Line Do Not Cross” tape acting as crown molding, the piles of stuffed animals in the corner – it all just felt like a distant part of me. At the same time, I never could bring myself to tear any of it down or give any of it away. Until last weekend.

Yes, it took me ELEVEN years to face up to my childhood bedroom – to go through crap and clean it out so my parents can reclaim the space. I’m surprised they didn’t bug me to do this much sooner! Anyhow, boy was it a riot! I found things I had completely forgotten about. I allowed myself two tupperware bins to bring home and keep in storage and I’m proud to say that it wasn’t actually that hard to part with a lot of it. Here are a few of the treasures I decided to keep. My fellow 80’s babies will get a kick out of a few of these!

Alf, My Little Ponies, Popples!!! Oh the joy!

Leila is now OBSESSED with this Rainbow Brite book. And I found my very first diary!

Yeah, I was pretty dang stoked when I got this diary. It’s all coming back to me now.

Check out that cursive! I don’t even think kids get taught cursive handwriting any more. Sad.

Some memorable trinkets (which my kiddos are fascinated by). Remember trolls???

Circa 1985ish plastic charm necklace right here! 

My love’s senior portrait. Baby face!

No biggie. Just your average middle schoolers playing in a ball pit.

POGS! Maybe one of the most exciting finds of the day. Ha! Why were these things so popular?

Other than that, I kept a stack of old children’s books, lots of photographs torn off my walls, and some priceless clothing items from middle school (including a spiked dog collar… yes, a dog collar… no, I’m not going there). Oh, and I’m also keeping my senior prom dress for Leila! I know that all of these silly “things” are just taking up precious storage space, but I’m just a sentimental person and I have a really hard time letting things go. Friggin’ eleven years!

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