Friday, December 14, 2012

universal love: a story from istanbul

Roberto in Turkey

one evening while living in istanbul, i took a cab ride to the other side of town to meet my husband for a dinner date.

my cab driver was the sweetest little born-and-raised turkish man.  happy-as-could-be and eager to chat. but with him knowing only a few words of english and me--nothing beyond a sorry excuse of a "teşekkür ederim" meaning 'thank you' in turkish, it was not the easiest go at communicating with each other.

he gave a hearty attempt at asking what the reason was for my outing-- 'why you go?" he asked.

as simply as possible, i responded "to meet my husband". the confused look on his face was not promising. i gave it another shot, holding up my left hand and pointing to my ring i tried again "h-u-s-b-a-n-d".

"ahhhhh!" he exclaimed with the biggest, most genuine turkish smile i'd ever seen.

enjoying his reaction, i lifted up my hand again and pointing to my ring added "one-month-ago".

"only one month!?" he repeated enthusiastically.

"tebrikler!" he added, graciously offering me a congratulations.

"thank you!" i replied in a giddy-little-girl-kinda-way. such a charming little cab driver.

and then, before i could even think of anything else to say, he continued "you very much in love."

i would have thought this to be a question, and had to replay it through my head a couple times, because it was said more as a statement---was it just his broken english that caused the awkward inflection at the end?

but his sweet eyes looking back at me in the rear-view mirror said it all. this was not a question. this was a statement. he knew that i was head-over-heels in love.

i grinned, " yes i am."

"seni seviyorum" he continued, "means 'i love you' in our language."


he grinned, looked forward, content as could be and continued driving.

seni seviyorum. it sung so sweetly.

the truth is that love is universal. and  "i love you" is something that the whole world can understand--it holds the same meaning, no matter the language its said in. and even though our communication was limited in the cab that evening by our language barriers, when he said those words--we both knew exactly and wholly what was to be understood. yes, i am in love. and whether or not he had yet to find that special someone, he knew and understood its significance.

i woke up this morning with this experience on the mind.

see, i spent a good percentage of my younger life focused on my future, constantly dreaming of 'that one' and of what finding 'true love' really would be like.

and through those many years of dreaming, i learned some harsh lessons. lessons like--if someone doesn't love you enough early on, they never will. no matter how long you hold out. i learned that hanging onto those painful relationships will cause more harm then one may realize. it will leave little scars, formed by small but piercing cuts that built up over time. like a paper cut, they may not sting initially but give it time---they will.

i learned that most people are like me--they have to learn from mistakes. sure, there a few lucky ones out there that maybe get it right the first time. but the rest of us mortals have to try a thing or two, fail miserably, and then realize that it really is just the way our parents told us it would be.

lessons that will stay with me forever. up until that day when i realized i was in love with a man who loved me back. a man who was just as crazy about me as i was about him. who wanted me like i wanted him. who was willing to open his heart and love me forever.

and finding him was the most important lesson of them all.

a lesson of trusting that god had some better plan for me than i had for myself.  realizing that all those nights of tears and painful breakups were because god knew there was someone else out there for me--someone that i could share a true and powerful love with.

i had this detailed picture of what my future would be.

i'm a visual person.

a picture of a kitchen filled with stainless steal appliances and refurbished brick. sleek, hardwood floors and the smell of whole wheat noodles and fettuccine sauce on the stove. some easy going music playing in the background. our first kid--a baby boy-- playing on his blanky. sitting on top of our natural white long-haired hide (yes, i had this down to every detail)

my tall, dark and handsome husband stepping in from work. giving baby a kiss on the head and then making his way quickly over to me as i grab the boiling-over pasta to take it off of the heat.

his arms grab my waist. i swing my hands around and lock them around his neck. and just take a moment, to sway back in forth to the gentle humming of some soft instrumentals.

yeah, this is what i pictured. and though i could imagine it so clearly, i don't know if i ever believed it would actually happen.

and now here i am. married to a very tall, dark, ridiculously handsome man--who is extremely smart, educated and successful. who  literally took every dream, every past picture i had of kitchens and hide rugs, every plan i ever had for my future, and  blew it right out of the water. giving me more love than i ever knew could be felt. making more of my dreams come true than i could have ever imagined. making me feel more beautiful with every day. leaving me every morning with a kiss and coming home to me every night with love that seems to grow greater by the day.

i'm not sure how it happened,and i absolutely 100% don't deserve it. but i thank my heavenly father every day.

tomorrow is our three month anniversary. we're still so new to this whole marriage thing, but we plan on keeping at it and loving each other more and more--no matter the stage of life, no matter what country we're in, no matter what jobs we take or how many kids we have.

the love will continue growing.


something the whole world understands.


seni seviyorum my darling.


*the picture is a favorite of mine. one that i captured in between a few others taken at the blue mosque in istanbul turkey. stay tuned, this next week i will be doing a small series on our time in istanbul-- along with a travel guide. i'm so excited. i love istanbul with all my heart and miss it dearly. it truly was our first home.

and please, let me know if there is anything specific you'd like to know about istanbul! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

winsome jones

Winsome Jones Edit 1

no matter where i travel, or what state of life i am in--fashion and modesty have always been so important to me, but it is often times an exhausting combination to come by.

well, my darling friend carli recently launched a brand new clothing line-- winsome jones and needless to say, i'm a bit excited about it. the combination of stylish, modest, and functional clothing can be such a tricky combo to score, but w.j. seems to have it mastered!

when asking carli about the goal of this clothing line, she told me that as she's continued to work in the fashion industry, she has noticed more and more that there is a serious need for modest in-style clothing for women, and winsome jones wants to do just that--offer fun, modest, and fashionable apparel.

check out their website

i think you'll really enjoy it. i know i do. xoxo.

Winsome Jones Edit 2

Friday, December 7, 2012

what to pack: carry-on style

Carry on Page

it's taken me a while to figure it out, but after some intense traveling and some frustrating trial and error, i think i've finally mastered the art of my carry-on!

now, i say 'my carry-on' because i realize it's going to change for everyone and their individual needs, but i wanted to share with you a few of my must-haves and secrets. especially for those long cross-country, overnight or international flights.

first off, i absolutely love my carry-on bag. i know it sounds silly, but i just got it a few months ago and we're in a serious deep-vibing kind of relationship every time we travel together.  it's the nine west wheeled bowler bag. it has the leather purse handles allowing it to be carried like a tote, but also has the wheels and suitcase handle that can extend out--in case your hands are full or it is just too heavy (that's usually my problem).

i recommend getting a carry on that is an appropriate size (i hate being the girl that is trying to shove a bag that is obviously three sizes too big into the overhead bin--just don't need that negative attention in my life) and before you purchase it, make sure its versatile and accommodating to your needs. this bag has made all the difference in my travels.

as for my secrets--i've said it before but i'll say it again--i always get so cold on planes. i've found that keeping a warm but thin hoodie (hood is important) is the best way to go. it doesn't take up a lot of extra room but provides the needed warmth! nothing more miserable than freezing your bum off while on a fourteen hour flight across seas. american apparel unisex fleece do the job very well--my husband loves them too.

next up, i always keep a pair of my favorite aviators handy. sometimes husband and i will want to stop and take pictures as we drive past different places on our way to/from the airport (we love pictures and can be 100% be that totally annoying 'mega-tourist') so, not only do the aviators keep me from getting headaches as i go from indoor to harsh outdoor lighting, but sometimes when those picture moments happen--i just throw them on and use them as a cop-out "yeah, i totally got ready and wanted to have my hair in a messy ponytail with aviators and this retro-sweatshirt" duhhhhh. aviators can make any outfit look planned. it's the so-cal girl trick.

also, i don't know about you--i know my husband doesn't have this problem--but often times my stomach gets upset while flying (i having a horrible stomach--anyone that knows me, knows that it's been a source of frustration my whole life ha) but keeping a healthy/filling snack has become my saving grace. a lot of the time, the in-flight meals are too cheesy, creamy, or intense for my 30,000ft above ground stomach--and a clif bar does just the trick.

i've only had the kindle fire for about a month, but it's become my best friend on any length of flight. we have some downloaded word games we like to play, magazines we subscribe to and of course, books--books will save you on those tediously long flights. and it takes up so much less room than physical magazines and books do. it's the best. having music to listen to on my iphone is also a must.

okay, now last but definitely not least--to maintain healthy skin and stay feelin' pretty on those flights where you just want to pull out your hair by the end. here are my favorites. neutrogena oil-free cleansing wipes for the face. these. are. the. best. you tell me i can only take three things onto a deserted on an island--yep, neutrogena oil free cleansing wipes will be one of them! nothing better than being able to wash off your face and mascara remnants after a red-eye flight. and with these you don't even need water or a towel. and with liquids being so frustrating to try and get on planes--they work out much easier for a carry-on than a bottle of face wash.  best travel tip ever.

as for make up, i start with josie maran lip balm. it's one of my guilty pleasures. i love how refreshing and rejuvenating it is on the lips and even in my greasy-just-off-a-red-eye-flight-moments it still leaves me feeling lip-luscious-sexy (which is really saying something--my lips are the thinnest little white girl lips you'll ever see).

up next on the beauty list is basic physicians formula powder. it's fresh and light, and the last thing you want to do when getting on or off a plane is plaster your face with some pore-clogging foundation that's gonna make you feel greasy two hours into the flight (i seriously try to wear as little make-up as possible on most long flights) and then just top that off with some great lash mascara by maybelline (never clumps and goes on smooth--i swear by it).

so there it is, carry-on packed and you're ready to go. so now that you know exactly what tricks i have in my carry-on bag, i need to know yours! from one travelling girl to another--what little secrets do you keep in your carry-on? any suggestions or questions for me? go ahead and let me know!

talk to you later lil' dreamboats.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

san francisco: where i found and left my heart

travel guide SF

it's no secret. i'm obsessed with the city of san francisco.

it is where i met my husband, interacted with so many inspiring individuals, and truly found myself again. it is the 'city' in a ' a city born love'

needless to say, my time there was magical. almost as if it had been waiting for me, patiently. knowing that i needed any and all of the experience it had to offer. i often have people ask me my thoughts on moving there, and my answer is always yes--do it!

and though it is an aggressive place to 'settle down'--being single and dating in sf was an absolute blast. it will forever be a part of me. and even though i'm now living on the opposite coast, i hope to travel back to visit often.

and in the future, introduce my kids to the city that their father and i fell in love in!

so for those of you wanting to visit san francisco--i have created a travel guide, full of  my favorite activities/suggestions/tips and experiences. i've broken it down into categories (for the most touristy, for the stomach, and for the outdoors) so you can choose what interests you during your time in the bay.

for the most touristy.

here are a few of my favorite 'touristy' activities in sf.

1. ride a sf cable car. it's classic, but really enjoyable--unless it's freezing cold, which it sometimes is in san francisco.

2.union square shopping. every store imaginable in one of the coolest cities in the world. unfortunately, i worked about a block from union square...and it took some serious self-restraint to keep from doing some 'after-work' shopping...everyday.

3. go to the twin peaks lookout. you can drive up to it, and it's a fantastic view of the city. an unbeatable spot to take some beautiful pictures.

4. have lunch and visit the farmers market at the ferry building. nothing better than a sunny saturday morning/afternoon spent down by the water. you can also go visit fishermans wharf/ pier 39it's extremely touristy, but is just one of those things you can't really pass up when visiting sf. the shops aren't really anything special, and it's swarming with kinda creepy street performers and overpriced beverages. but it really is a classic stop for the sf tourist! if you do stop by fishermans wharf, make sure to stop and get some pics with the sea lions!

5. the palace of fine arts. this is a great option for anyone--with or without family or children. it's a beautiful spot to visit, take pictures and experience a beautiful part of san francisco.

okay, now this last part of my "touristy" suggestions...and yes, it's a very special section.

did you grow up in the nineties? do you have the same kind of ridiculously cheesy-slightly-creepy childhood connection to the rugged rock-n-roll charms of uncle jesse and ability to relate to the growing pains of d.j. tanner? anyone else a full house fan? yes, i may or may not own every season, but that's not important. what is important, is that you can truly re-live the full-house experience while visiting sf.

first stop-- alamo square (click for address)

it's the park that you see in the opening credits section of the show--it's extremely touristy, but i went there probably four or five times while living there. everytime a friend would come visit i just couldn't resist showing them!

second stop-- the real full house.

this is a little secret that only the hard-core full house fans or local sf-ians are going to know. click above to get the address to actual house they use for the outside shot of the tanner home.

and if you could care less about full house....disregard this whole section. and moving on.

for the stomach.

oh heavens, san francisco can easily make you a fat girl! (or boy) some of the best food in the world was the food i consumed in that crazy city. here is my top five--all highly recommended.

1. burma superstar. ever sat and felt like you died and went to heaven after eating coconut rice? well, now is the time, because this burmese food will truly change your world. make sure to make reservations in advance, and check when it is open (it is always packed and has some weird hours). you won't regret it. my husband and i still talk about it to this day.

2. little star pizza. down in the colorful mission district, this place was one of the first restaurants i ever went to in sf. and being that it was fairly close to my house--and i probably went there one too many times. but it's one of the most delicious pizzas i've ever had. my favorite is the "little star" pizza. please go eat some for me. i miss it dearly.

3. chai yo thai. husband and i are thai food addicts. we could probably eat thai food every night of the week and not even care. and though we went to many good thai restaurants in the bay area, nothing impressed us like the curry and shrimp fried rice at chai yo thai on polk street. probably some of the best thai food i've ever had--and trust me, i have consumed more than my fair share of massaman, yellow, and pumpkin curry in my lifetime. it's a must-eat while visiting sf.

4. la taqueria. i'm a born san diego girl. aka--having a strong love for cheap mexican food was practically ingrained in my dna. my mom once told me i like spicy mexican food so much because it was basically all she craved while pregnant with me. so obviously, the carnitas tacos and chicken burritos at la taqueria in the mission won my heart at first bite.

5. bobs doughnuts. okay, even if you're not a doughnut person--you need to try bob's. and though it may be open 24hrs/day do not just choose to go at any random time. for the best bob's experience you need to stop by around or after 10 pm (because that's when they start making the fresh doughnuts) and then make sure you order what is most fresh out of the fryer! i promise, they are the best. i can not tell you how many times i ended up begging my friends to go there with me at midnight. like i said, sf can easily make you a fat girl!

also, see more fantastic recommendations on the sf 7x7 "big eat 2012" list. it's no wonder the whole city isn't obese.

for the outdoors.

sf is a very active city, but it can be hard to know what outdoor activities you can do as a tourist. here are my suggestions.

1. rent a bike down by pier 39 (website here)--you can even rent bikes with baby/child seats and they aren't that pricey. then follow the tour map that they offer, which will take you over the golden gate bridge (super cool to take pictures on the bridge--it's much better than just driving over it) and then will take you into the little town of sausalito on the other side. sausalito is a dream. it's this quaint little seaside town with lots of little shops, art galleries, and coffee shops. and while you're there, promise me you'll stop into this bakery and buy yourself a gigantic delicious cookie. seriously, they're so good--and you deserve it after burning all those calories on the bike! yes, this is the way i think.

2. go for a hike or bike ride in the muir woods. there are a variety of different hikes. some just a few miles, others much longer. i'd recommend trying to squeeze in a shorter one if you can make time for it.

3. it obviously has to be the right time of year, but if you can--go to a sf giants game. husband and i were lucky enough to be at "the perfect game" this last season and it was an unreal experience.

4. golden gate park. sure, you may run into a few sketchy characters and a few thousand homeless people, but it really is a gorgeous park. while you are there, make sure to stop by the conservatory of flowers. it's always been a favorite of mine.

5. visit china beach. by-far my favorite, in a great neighborhood and has a magical view of the golden gate bridge.

okay, there you have it. i could probably go on and on, and keep coming up with more activities, but these are definitely some of  my favorites. it will absolutely be one of the most unique and entertaining trips you'll ever take. feel free to e-mail me if you have any suggestions, questions or thoughts!

and if you know anyone thinking of moving to san francisco, needing some encouragement...please send them my way!

more of my obsession can be read here in this past post.

SF Travel Guide 2 SF Travel guide