Category Archives: growing up

i’m still cookie dough.

So, I’ve been 30 for about three weeks now. And while turning 30 wasn’t a huge, life-altering thing to experience, saying “I’m 30” still feels strange and foreign on my tongue.

29 was a really good year. I got married, I traveled a lot, I did well at my job. For the most part, I felt like a functioning adult.

But there’s something about turning 30 that feels daunting for a lot of people, if not almost everyone. I know that it felt very much that way for me. It’s the end of a era, a notable transition from one decade of your life to the next. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of have a lot of preconceived notions about what you and/or your life should be like when you turn 30. We believe that we need to have achieved certain milestones or accomplishments before turning 30 or we’ve somehow failed ourselves.

I have friends who thought they needed to have done the following before turning 30: be married (or at least well on their way to being married), own a house or a car, understand how to create and maintain an investment portfolio, traveled internationally, climbed the corporate ladder, quit their 9-5 and chase their dreams, have a decent amount in their savings account… the list goes on and on and on. We all have a wide variety of intangible things we think we need to have done before beginning a new decade.

I know that my only stipulation for myself was “have your shit together by the time you’re 30.” And I honestly think I do. My marriage didn’t weigh into this, but traveling did. I own a car and hopefully next year, I’ll own a home. I have a savings account and I can pay off my bills with no issue or strain on my finances. I am doing well and, whether I like it or not, am now a 30 year old adult.

But, in the words of my favorite heroine*, I’m still cookie dough.

I think the fear of turning 30 also comes from the fear of being locked into who you are now or the life you currently have. As if it somehow can’t change once you leave your 20s behind.

I know that’s not true. I know that who I was at 25 isn’t who I am now. So who’s to say who I am now will be who I am when I’m 35? My life could look completely different then. There’s no real way of knowing but I learning to embrace the fact that the one constant will always be change.

Turning 30 is a milestone, just not to the extent I had dreaded it would be. If anything, I look forward to learning and growing and becoming whoever it is I’m meant to be. For this first year, and hopefully for a few more to come, I’ll try to live by this phrase:


So, I’m still cooke dough. I’m not done baking yet. But one day, I’ll be cookies.


*Brownie points to you if you know this reference, but for this who don’t, it’s from the series finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


another life update.

So much can happen in just a few months. The last time I visited this space, I was a day away from my 29th birthday. Since then:


I got married, for one. After a year’s worth of planning and stress eating, our wedding finally came and went. They’re not kidding when they say the day of goes by so quickly; it was over before I knew it. And while I had so much fun and was so grateful to be surrounded by family and friends, I’m kinda glad it’s over. Wedding planning was (in my humble opinion) not fun. Now it’s back to business as usual, since married life is essentially the same as non-married life.



We just got our proofs over the weekend and I absolutely love how they turned out. Our photographers are amazing and I completely recommend them for any in the Chicagoland area — or out of state, they love to travel!

And speaking of travel:


[image via]

This past summer, a good friend of mine jokingly said he needed a date for a wedding in Phuket because his girlfriend couldn’t make it. I jokingly said I would totally go with him. That eventually turned in a serious conversation about how I would actually go with him because well… why not? I’ve never left North America and suddenly an opportunity to travel to Thailand of all places had presented itself. So a few weeks ago, we bought our tickets and are officially headed out the first week of December.

I am equal amounts excited and nervous for this trip. I’m glad that despite the cost I agreed to go because one of my major goals before turning 30 is to travel a lot more. And also, I had no real reason to say no. It’s so easy to talk yourself out of doing some spontaneous, for the sake of being practical or responsible. I had some money set aside and I realized I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity. While it’s a shame I can’t share this adventure with Alex, I’m glad I’ll be with a good friend, even though we’ve never traveled together before.

I’m hoping to utilize this space a bit more. I sound like a broken record, but I’ve been itching to write for myself more. I have this tendency to draft things and let them sit, unfinished and forgotten. It’s a side effect of being a perfectionist and also being hesitant to put certain thoughts or feelings out there for everyone to read. But I’m hoping to break past that. With the end of 2015 coming up quickly and my 30th birthday looming next year, there’s plenty I want to accomplish and write out. So I’ll consider this a baby step in the right direction.

five things friday: on the verge of turning 29

So, I’m turning 29 tomorrow, which is pretty crazy to me. In celebration of getting older and hopefully also wiser, here are a few things I love at the moment:

I’m a huge fan of Daniela Andrade’s music. Gotta show some love for a fellow Daniela and Latina, after all. Her cover of Regina Spektor’s “Us” is so, so good:

I just recently discovered local jewelry studio, Mineralogy and I sorta obsessed with her pieces:


Theresa’s custom work is also really beautiful. These are a just a few pieces I would definitely splurge on and buy for myself (clockwise from left): white topaz teardrop ring, diamond solitaire necklace, chrysoprase and druzy cuff bangle, and grey druzy gold stud earrings. For those of us in Chicago, Mineralogy now has a a storefront in Ravenswood. Otherwise, you can check out the shop online.

Although I have plenty of artwork and a limited amount of wall space in my new apartment, I love Luke Gram’s art prints. If and when I’m in the market for more prints, he’ll be the first I buy from:

The weather in Chicago is FINALLY warming up, so I’m making the effort to try new paleta recipes. Mashable put together a great list of coffee-based paletas and I definitely need to make the ones with dulce de leche:


And last but certainly not least, I randomly stumbled onto this art project in Mexico and really, really love it:


The Mexican government asked the Germen Crew, a youth organization that specializes in grafitti and street art, to revitalize the Palmitas neighborhood in Pachuca, a town northeast of Mexico City. There’s even more photos and a video of their work here. I think this such a beautiful, brilliant idea and the community has had such a positive response.

As turning 29 isn’t incredibly significant (other than this is my last year in my 20s), I’m keeping it low-key and doing dinner and drinks tomorrow night. Maybe the big 3-0 will call for an actual celebration. Have a good weekend!

dreaming of a white christmas


Fact: I love Christmas. I have an abundance of Christmas spirit for someone who’s agnostic. I love giving gifts, baking nonstop, and just generally being full of Christmas cheer. I’ve always loved this time of year; when I was a kid, I spent every Christmas at my grandma’s house with my entire family (my mom is one of 10 kids, so there’s a lot of us). As I got older, my sister and I created our own traditions surrounding Christmas, which includes baking as many cookies as possible and watching Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas.

Another holiday tradition is my annual trip home to south Texas to be with my family. This time last year, I was already there. But as I write this, I’m sitting at my desk in my office, answering last-minute emails and squeezing in some work. I’ll be spending Christmas this year with Alex’s family in the ‘burbs. This is my first Christmas EVER without my family.

I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later, but it still feels strange knowing I won’t be seeing my parents or my sister in the next couple of days. Because of this, I’m so glad they were here in Chicago for Thanksgiving. We did manage to fit in a few Christmas-y activities, including going to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the exhibit of Christmas trees from around the world (pictured above!).

Not only that, my family got to experience real snow for the first time. They were so hilariously excited about it and took an endless amount of pictures.


Left: My little sister and I trying on some pretty awesome Christmas gear.
Right: My sister and mom completely spazzing out over the snow.

I know I’m going to be homesick no matter what come Wednesday, but I’m so glad I have my future in-laws and the rest of the Martinez clan to spend the holiday with. My family is expanding and from here on out, it’s going to be important that we split our time equally among everyone.

While I could wax nostalgic about a bunch of things and mull over the end of the year, I just want to enjoy this week. Merry Christmas and happy holidays! See you all in 2015.

the last five years.

Just this afternoon, I got yet another email reminder about my five year college reunion. And while I’m looking forward to going with my friends, catching up with everyone and going to our homecoming football game, I started to think about how much can change in five years.

Five years doesn’t really sound like a long time, in the grand scheme of things. My 10 year high school reunion next year sounds much more daunting. But five years ago, I was 22 and my life was really different.


(I had just turned 22 in this photo and was visiting Austin for the first time.)

At 22, I was living in Austin. I was freelancing and job hunting and wondering if my degree would be of any use. I felt like I didn’t know how to make new friends. I was still a little hung up over the one guy I wasn’t sure I would ever get completely over. I drank a lot and ate pretty poorly. Overall, I made some not so great choices as I stumbled down the path of post-college life.

In the time between then and now, I have:
* Gotten three tattoos (two back pieces a small piece on my chest)
* Bought two cars
* Moved four times and across the country
* Had four different jobs
* Fallen in love
* Lived with a boyfriend for the first time
* Traveled outside of North America for the first time

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s only when I sit down and think about everything that’s happened that I realize that I’ve changed quite a bit. At some point, I became an actual adult. Do I have everything figured out? Not by a long shot. But I’m finally feeling secure about who I am and where I’m headed.

So this reunion will be an opportunity to reminisce about the fun times that were had in college, but also serve as a reminder as to how far I’ve come since then. Cheesy, I know.

Anywho, I have a three day weekend coming up, but only because we have to be out of our old apartment on Monday and that’s when the movers are coming. I’ve never hired movers before, so this should be an interesting (and hopefully stress-free) experience. Then I have less than a week to unpack as much as possible before said reunion begins and my friends come and crash on our couch. Here goes nothing!

goodbye february.


So, February has been a bit of an overwhelming month for me. I made what I consider pretty big purchases and have been consistently busy at work managing a couple of different projects. When the weekend did roll around, I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write, much less blog. But this is me trying to change that.

I haven’t really made it a point to write this down, but I knew from the start of the year that 2013 would be a year of growth for me. Growing up, really. And change. This is the year I genuinely start feeling like an actual adult and start to feel in control of my career, my love life, and my finances.

I’ve bought my replacement car, upgraded to a new Macbook, paid off my credit card debt, and made a new budget that reflected all this. I also made adjustments to my 401k, am looking into opening a savings account, and having been monitoring my credit score. This is probably the most adult I’ve felt in my life, which while awesome is still a bit overwhelming. I might write a longer post about all this later.

In a couple months, I’ll be going through a big change. I’ll be moving in with Alex and will be living with a significant other for the first time EVER. We’ll be combining our lives, our living space, and our budgets. While I’m really excited to move to the next step as a couple, I’m also slightly terrified. I’ve never really dealt with change very well. I don’t like feeling like situations are of my control because it causes my anxiety to kick in. I know I have to tackle this move one step at a time, bit by bit. While I’ll be saying goodbye to my home of three years, I know I’m moving on to something better (even though moving is completely awful and probably the worst part of this whole situation).

So yes, lots going on lately. But I’m hoping that with March comes not only better weather (Chicago is covered in icy slush right now) but more opportunities to write/blog/take time for myself. I look forward to taking more time for myself, appreciating the moments where I take a big, calming breath, and focus on the positive things in my life.

the 2012 bucket list

(image and design: via 
lyla and blu)

So, we’re reaching the tail end of 2012. Like so many other people, I set out with a small list of goals at the beginning of the year. Now that’s is November (when did THAT happen, btw?), I’ve decided to revisit that list and try to knock out whatever I haven’t done in the next two months. Or at least attempt to. Plus, I’ll add in a few things just for good measure.

Be better with money
This has actually gotten easier to do in recent months, but having a full-time job definitely helps. I’m currently on my way to paying down both credit cards, but am steadily paying off the one with the higher interest rate first (they in turn raised my credit limit–NICE TRY). Once that one is paid off earlier next year, I’ll be able to invest in a payment plan for a new MacBook. Hurray fiscal responsibility!
Also, I still love using LearnVest and their new iPhone app is really great. You can link up your accounts, keep track of your spending, and also read their articles.

Freelance more
While I did write columns for the RedEye Chicago for a little while, this is something that kinda fell away once I started working full-time again. I did write a little blurb for Sage Magazine about my favorite fall beer, but yes, other than that, freelancing just hasn’t been in the cards. However! Some old colleagues have reached out about a new publication they’re working on and I think I might join in. While I get some writing opportunities here at work, I do miss writing about entertainment and music. Also, I still hope someday to make that pitch to Bust.

Exercising and eating well
I switched to a newer gym closer to my place this summer, so I have zero excuses for not getting off my butt and walking all of two blocks to work out. And it’s always better to watch TV while you run instead of while sitting on your couch. I like to think I’m doing a decent job of eating well, but the upcoming holidays will probably challenge that. It’s just of matter of finding a good balance and not overdoing it.
New goal: Go to the 6 a.m. hot yoga class at my gym
While I’ve done a decent job of sticking to my original goal, I want to actually try a class at my gym. I’ve done various kinds of heated yoga in the past, so I’m not super intimidated by the class itself. What’s scared me off until now is my inability to get up in the morning, much less before 6 a.m. to hit the gym. I’m a work out at night kind of girl. But this is the only time that gym offers this class and I’m honestly curious to see how I’ll feel for the rest of the day after doing it.

Reading and learning
I’ve actually done a pretty good job of buying used books throughout the year and reading during my commute. But learning? Yeah, I sort of failed on that part. I fell completely off the map when it came to Codecademy and have yet to sign up for any Dabble classes. So with that…
New goal: Sign up for one Dabble class
This might be a little tricky towards the end of the year, especially when you keep the holidays in mind. BUT, if I can at least sign up for a class this year, even though I won’t actually take it until next year, that still counts in my book. Some of the classes I’m waiting to see get posted include beer brewing, cupcake decorating, and homemade pasta.
New goal: Get to the Functions level on Codecademy
I’ve barely made it past the introductory courses, so my goal is to at least crack into the Functions by the end of the year. I imagine I’ll make the most progress on this when I’m home for the holidays and can’t sleep.

Keep creating
I have managed to keep creating, to a certain degree. I finished Alex’s scarf, which he is a big fan of. And I also finished my own cowl just a couple of days ago. But knitting simple project just isn’t quite enough to say that I’ve keep this goal. Also, I’ve completely neglected my film camera. I haven’t even been using Instagram that much either. So!
New goal: Finish all three new rolls of film
I have a three pack of film from the new Lomography store in my neighborhood that I haven’t touched. I’m basically requiring that I finish all three (AND develop them!) before the end of the year. I’ll probably use one of the color films this weekend while exploring Pilsen. I’d also like to wait until we get some snow to use the black and white film for some contrast (which will also be my first time in quite possibly forever since I’ve taken photos in black and white).

I would have posted something about the Day of the Dead today, but I technically won’t be celebrating until this weekend, when Alex and I go to Pilsen to explore the neighborhood. I’ll definitely be back with a post after that.

Do you have any goals you hope to accomplish before the end of the year?

365 days later.


It always amazes at how much can happen in a year. Even when time flies by, so much occurs in just 12 months.

A lot of things have happened in my life in the past year, but one significant event happened a year ago today: I lost my job.

While I had been thinking about job hunting for a while since I wasn’t sure how long my position would hold up within the company, it still feel a little abrupt being let go like that.

No matter how much you love or hate your job, getting laid off or fired is still a pretty awful feeling. I remember that I tried not to cry as gchatted Alex to tell him what happened, wiped my desktop clean, grabbed my things, and headed on out. I drove to Alex’s brand new apartment, a mere 5 minutes away. We went out to dinner at Fountainhead. I watched college football with my friends and had a great time at the Design Harvest Festival that weekend.

Then I woke up on Monday morning and said out loud to myself, “Now what?”

I applied for unemployment. I nursed a cold on my couch while job hunting. I drank even more coffee than usual. And luckily for me, my unemployment only lasted a couple of weeks before I found two part-time jobs (which turned into one part-time job with the new year).

For 9 months, I pinched pennies. I applied for deferment because I couldn’t pay my student loans. I cooked a lot more. I watched my checking account like a hawk but also racked up some credit card debt. I freelanced and thought about reentering the service industry. And I kept job hunting.

Which catches up to the present day, because I got my current full-time gig in July and have been hilariously busy since. But still, being unemployed either because I got laid off or because I left my job to get the heck out of Dodge, I’ve learned a few things about myself.

You prefer stability. I don’t think I’m great at freelancing and could never pull it off full-time. I really admire the people that do (and do it very well). But after the last couple of years, I definitely know it’s not for me. When I wasn’t working full-time, I was constantly anxious about paying my bills and played out worst case scenarios in my head (some of which involved moving home to middle of nowhere, TX). With my current job, I’m constantly busy so I currently feel like I don’t have a ton of time for personal creative endeavors but I’m secure at the moment.

You need food, not shoes. Because I’m crazy person, I refuse to let my checking account go below $100, even when I was working part-time. Hence the credit card debt. But I also had to remember what was important when I was actually spending money; rent and groceries were always going to be a bigger priority than new clothes or dining out.

You’re not a failure. I think I struggled with this the most. I really can be my own worst enemy sometimes and constantly put pressure on myself to always do my best. It’s a ridiculous habit I’ve had since I was a kid (seriously, I would cry if I got less than an A on my report card and no, I’m not kidding). Losing my job meant struggling with my inner critic, who can make me feel pretty bad about myself if I let it. I wasn’t a terrible editor or crappy at what I did/do, but it took me a little while to realize and embrace that.

It’s interesting to think that my current job is really only my 2nd full-time with benefits kind of job since graduating from college four years ago. But it’s been a struggle to find something really worthwhile, both in Austin and Chicago. If anything, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. If there’s anyone out there that’s unemployed or job hunting, don’t give up. It’s completely cliche, I know. But keep going, even when it feels hopeless. Think of yourself as a shark; you have to keep moving to stay alive. (Good analogy or GREAT analogy? You decide.)

So here’s to moving forward.

foto friday: making veggie meals

So, I’ve been a vegetarian for almost half my life now (I dropped meat like a bad habit when I was 13). But I’ve only recently really started to branch out in making veggie-friendly dishes for lunch. I’ve never been great at cooking and let’s be honest–I can be pretty lazy when it comes to making lunch. I’ll usually go the sandwich route or yes, even frozen meals.

Except recently I’ve decided that I kinda hate frozen meals. Especially because I have no variety when it comes to them; the majority of them focus on meat. They’re not filling (AT ALL) and they get pretty gross after a while.  I pretty much had the same reaction to ramen after college–I ate way too much of it during those four years and haven’t really been able to stomach the stuff since.

Also, I’ve recently been inspired by Alex, who is clearly the cook in our relationship. He loves cooking, much to my relief. And although he’s not fully vegetarian (what I kind of girlfriend would I be to deprive a man of his bacon?), he’s great about whipping up meatless meals for us. He’s also really good about hunting down blogs filled with yummy recipes and sharing them with me.

And thanks to one of those said blogs (specifically, Poor Girl Eats Well), I decided to dabble in making cheap, yummy meals for lunch. First up is a variation of her pesto couscous salad recipe, which you see pictured above. I just added in some more veggies (mushrooms and spinach) and voila! A delish and surprisingly filling lunch. No more sandwiches for this girl! … Ok, I’ll make sandwiches when I’m in a hurry. But I’m hoping this is the start of a good habit. :)

time to embrace the new year.

I think I’ve been in denial about the fact that it’s 2012. The last bit of December came and went in a blur. I went home, I saw my family, I baked, I opened presents, I came back. A few days later, I kissed Alex at midnight at his favorite bar as the clock struck midnight. But until now, I haven’t fully embraced 2012.

It doesn’t really help that I was sick all of last week with a cold and was just trying to get through the work week. Now it’s the 10th and I’m sitting in my corner at work, realizing that it is in fact a brand new year with brand new things in store.

I always hesitate on calling the little list of goals I have written out “resolutions” because as we all know, resolutions are often forgotten about by the end of January. So for now, I’ll call this my year-long list of things to do:

1. Be better with money
It’s often hard being a freelancer/part-time employee but I know that I’m much better off right now than most. I just have to be a bit more financially responsible and make sure I can pay all my bills and still have enough to buy groceries. I have two credit cards that aren’t maxed out yet, but I know I need to be better about using those as well (and start working to pay them off). It helps writing out a budget for the month and making sure I log into my online banking account on a regular basis (as opposed to avoiding it) so I know where I’m at. Learnvest is a super helpful website that emails me daily about how to cut expenses; I’m currently on registered in their Cut Your Costs bootcamp and I love looking over their tips on my way to work.

2. Freelance more
I haven’t had a ton of luck finding and keeping regular freelance writing gigs in the last couple of years. A few publications I used to love to work for don’t even exist anymore and I just recently lost yet another gig (through no fault of my own, thankfully). But I’ve decided instead of just waiting for something to pop up, I need to work on pitching stories. I haven’t always been great at it, but it’s a really valuable skill I need to work on. The one big pitch I hope to make is to Bust. I absolutely adore Bust; it’s the only magazine I subscribe to these days and one that I’d love to write for.

3. Exercising and eating well
This one is always one everyone’s list, isn’t it? I was only able to get back to the gym as of last night due to my cold. I didn’t push myself too hard but it felt really good just to work out again. My gym has offers classes that I’ve never tried before, so I think I’ll go to a couple different ones to see what works best for me. Eating well is a big one too; Alex and I have been doing really well thanks to his healthy, home-cooked meals and limiting alcohol to weekends only. Overall, I think I just need to work on feeling good and being happy with how I look.

4. Reading and learning
I love books and I definitely don’t have enough of them. My sister got me Mindy Kaling’s new book for Christmas (so good!) and I finished it in a day. I’ll be scouring the interwebs to see what everyone else is reading and get back into the groove of buying used books off Amazon. As for learning, I feel like I can always learn something new. Here in Chicago, there are classes offered through Dabble and I’m hoping to find something I’d like to try out soon. On my own time, I’ve signed up at Codecademy because I’ve always been interested in learning basic Javascript (yep, I’m THAT big of a nerd).

5. Keep creating
This one is pretty important to me. Staying creative in any capacity keeps me sane, you know? Knitting and photography are two things I dabbled in throughout 2011, something I’d like to continue into 2012. Working with film photography on a budget can be hard, but I miss it like crazy and can’t wait to take pictures of the winter wonderland that Chicago will no doubt become by next month. Same goes for knitting (pretty yarn doesn’t come cheap!) but I’m already working on a new, simple project (a new scarf for Alex because the one he has right now is old and worn and I sorta hate it).

And those are my main five things to do this year! To manage all my other little to-dos: Wunderlist. Ohmygosh, this app is helpful. I love that I can log into on my computer and also use it on my iPhone. Throw in my new paper planner (simple and cheap from Target) and I’m ready to tackle rest of January. Alright, here we go. :)

{image source: weheartit}