you're getting there

It's that time of year, to start looking back at everything the year has held for me personally and in business. It's good and bad; I get so excited and feel so blessed by all the opportunities, and I get so burdened by all the dreams still unrealized, the trips still not taken, the goals still not reached. This blog post from Joy really resonated with me. In trying SO hard to balance everything, make my life look so effortless and perfect and put together, I feel like my head is going to explode most days. It's a constant battle to remind myself to slow down, to take it one thing at a time, that I have lots of time to "figure it all out" and "find the balance" and become whoever it is I decide I want to be.

So, if you're feeling like me, like there's SO many things you still want to do and see and accomplish, and like you're running out of time, take a deep breath with me. Let it all go. Trust that the good things take time. And know that you're doing SUCH and amazing job at all those things you're doing. You're incredible. You really are. We all are, aren't we?

XO,

Valerie

\\ images found here and here \\

 

Christmas at Casa Keinsley

Happy {Cyber} Monday! Are you guys doing any internet shopping?! Theoretically I'm going to get my Christmas "give" list organized this afternoon and try and snag some cyber deals for gifts...we'll see. I'm recovering from the flu so I'm not sure how much will get accomplished today! I haven't had the flu in YEARS. It sucked. Thank goodness I had my sweet husband to take care of me and take me to get a hot fudge sundae :) Aside from getting sick, we had the BEST long weekend. I only worked until noon or so on Wednesday and took the whole rest of the week/weekend off work--including email! Man, it feels so good to do that from time to time and I find that it's so necessary! It's so easy to get burnt out when you're self-employed and feel like you never. stop. working. Cheers to four and a half days of no work, all play and LOTS of Christmas decorating!!

I've been dreaming of having my own home since I was like, 5. Needless to say I'm like that giddy little five-year old over here now that I indeed have my own home and can decorate it however I want. I went a little crazy with the Christmas decor and I'm OBSESSED with our little apartment. It's sooo cozy and cheerful! I had the biggest smile on my face upon opening our bedroom door the last two days (the door faces straight at the living room) and seeing the christmas cheer adorning our little living room. I'd love to share some photos of our "home for the holidays"!

I was super inspired by Emily Jones of Jones Design Co. and her recent guest room re-do, so I imitated it with a paper chain made from dictionary pages that I had on hand and some paper lanterns/pom poms leftover from past parties.

I replaced the photos in our gallery wall with Christmas-themed prints and photos. That "Noel" and reindeer head were made by yours truly, I bought the "Joy to the World" print from this Etsy seller and the photos were taken by my dear friend Lisa Walker. The little one on the upper left is actually our Christmas card for this year! The "Be Merry and Bright" card was a sweet note from my friend Chelsea and just too pretty not to frame.

After decorating the tree on Friday, I realized we didn't have an angel, star or any kind of topper. We're trying to be extra-thrifty this Christmas season, so I whipped up this little star out of branches I cut from a friend's house to use for decorating. I think we'll probably keep it for a few years, at least! And total cost? FREE! My favorite price tag.

Our tree is definitely a memory tree. All the ornaments (most, anyway) are either handmade ones from our childhoods or collections from travels. It was so fun to unpack them and carefully hang them and remember what they all meant or signified. A few of my favorites: the grad tassle bulbs I made with my and Matt's high school and college tassles, the pair of well-worn castanets we bought in Spain and the sweet little bicycle license plate we bought in Avila on our honeymoon!

I love the look of felt ball garland, but it was a little pricier than I liked, so I bought several packages of red pompoms at Hobby Lobby and strung them together with a needle and red thread to create my own cheaper version!

The rest of our apartment isn't really decorated for Christmas, save for a wreath on our bedroom door and this chalkboard which hangs in the hallway opposite the bathroom.

My office did get a little Christmas cheer, though, since I spend so much time in here!

Are you decorating your house for the holidays? Thanks for reading!

XO!

happy friday!

Oh, I am SO glad it's the weekend. What a week! I feel like my weeks lately have been SO long. Couple that with working a lot on the weekends between babysitting and photoshoots (I'm in the thick of busy season!) and I'm just exhausted! I'm so looking forward to a weekend of no work. Instead, I'll be heading to visit my brother at his college family weekend, stocking up on fruits and veggies at the farmer's market and spending some much-needed girl time with a dear friend. Here's to sunny days, some sleeping in, lazy cups of coffee and trying not to miss my husband (who is working ALL weekend) TOO much. XO! & just for fun, some snaps of my nannying life:

1. he's never happier than with his pinwheel // 2. trying to direct a 3-year old in iPhone photography  // 3. a very determined bubble-blower // 4. the happiest boy in a swing. Life is just so sweet!

the truth about juicing

Matt and I recently bought a juicer and jumped into the world of freshly juiced fruits and vegetables. I really had no idea what I was doing at all! I just kept seeing people with full glasses of delicious and healthy-looking juice on Instagram and thought, how hard can this be? So we ordered one on Amazon, stocked up on every kind of produce at Kroger and started our juicing experiment. There was a definitely a learning curve that we did NOT anticipate (I had a headache for ten days straight!) so I wanted to share some tips and tricks, if you're looking to add a bit of healthy kick to your diet! And, to be clear, we just added juices to our already existing diet of three regular meals a day (sometimes more--oops!) There are full-on juice cleanses that many people do, but I wasn't interested in that. I simply wanted to pack some more fruits and veggies and vitamins and antioxidants into my diet without forgoing real food entirely.

Here are four important tips to make your first juicing experience better!

1. DRINK TONS OF WATER  I think this may have contributed to my extended headache. I jumped into drinking 2 or 3 juices a day, and my body was rapidly ridding itself of the toxins, which is so good! But it's super important to aid that process by drinking tons of water. Basically, all of the good stuff in the fruits and vegetables puts your body into a sort of detox process, and it's pretty common to experience headaches or even flu-like symptoms for a week or so while your body adjusts. After all, even though it's good, your body probably is not used to the sheer amount of raw goodness it's now being fed! I normally drink 2-3 of my Camelbak water bottles in a day, but I had to step it up to 5, which equals 3.75 LITERS. Prepare to go to the bathroom a LOT!

2. DO YOUR RESEARCH I solicited some advice from friends via the reputable survey mechanism known as Facebook, and jumped into juicing by trying recipes that I was given. My first-ever juice was a dense green machine packed with spinach, kale, parsley, celery, cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger. Whew! It was pretty good, but it was INTENSE for a first drink. And then I learned that kale, being such a super-food, can cause some intense "detox" symptoms and you should really work up to it! I know it can be overwhelming looking up information regarding health--everyone seems to disagree--but try your best to read up and maybe even follow a juicing plan as you ease into it. Here's a handy website with lots of great tips!

3. PREP AHEAD OF TIME I quickly learned that juicing can be pretty time-consuming if I didn't prep my ingredients beforehand. Rinsing, scrubbing, coring, chopping, peeling, every. single. time? No thank you! Not to mention the cleanup time afterwards. Now, I rinse and prep my produce as soon as I get home from the store that way it takes me less than 5 minutes to actually whip up a juice when I get the urge. Here's a great vinegar soak to get your produce pesticide-free! Of course, it's always best to buy organic and/or local, but I know that budgets don't always allow for the extra expense.

4. DRINK IT RIGHT AWAY + CLEAN IT RIGHT AWAY

The thing that makes juicing so great is all the raw nutrients that you are absorbing straight into your body. When you don't drink your juice right away, and store it instead, a lot of those nutrients are lost and no longer active by the time you consume it. I know, I know, it's tough with busy schedules! Morning is the hardest for me, but I know those extra vitamins and anti-oxidants are worth it! It's super important to clean the juicer right away, too. We rinse and wash all the plastic parts, which goes pretty quickly, and then let the pulp collector soak in a bath of HOT water, Dawn dishsoap (no other brand works as well!) and a few squirts of lemon juice. The soak loosens up all the pulp and then it's super easy to clean with the brush that was included with our juicer. I'll throw it in the soak for ten or so minutes while I get something else done, like folding laundry or straightening my hair.

 

I hope that helps! And just for fun, here are three recipes to get you started (I recommend the yummy, fruity one first!)

FRUIT PUNCH

2 green apples 2 kiwifruit 1/4 lemon with rind 1/4 lime with rind 2 oranges, peeled 1 pineapple 1 peach handful of berries

GREEN MACHINE

1 cucumber

3 stalks celery

1 lemon with rind

3 green apples

1 pear

1 handful kale

1 handful spinach

1 inch raw ginger, peeled

THE ORIGINAL V-8

2 carrots

3 celery stalks

1/2 cucumber

2 handfuls of parsley

1/2 sweet green pepper

1 cup spinach

3 medium tomatoes

happy birthday!

To my sweet dad, the guy who taught me to never give up and never back down on the things that matter. The one who taught me how to ride a dirtbike at age nine, and who yelled at me to "just gas it!" when I was on the opposite side of the creek from him, too scared to ride my little PW-80 through the water. To the guy who bought me my first wakeboard, and snowboard, and who would laugh like hyenas with me when we all crashed on both, over and over and over again. To the guy who has encouraged me every step of the way as I've built my business. To the guy who always answers the phone when I call with an "hola, hija!" To the guy who has never told me my dreams are too big or too small. To the guy who convinced me to major in journalism, which was the best decision I ever made. To the guy who called me pumpkin-head when I was a baby, because I actually looked like a pumpkin. To the guy who let me ride up front with him as we drove to Arizona, because I loved to look at the stars. To the one who has talked me through hard classes, heartbreaking break-ups, hard business decisions and crushing loss after sports matches. To the one who never yelled obnoxiously at my soccer games but instead watched, and observed everything, and talked through it all with me afterwards. To the one who never let me quit a sport because quitting is never an option. To the one who gave my husband the permission to marry me and gave him his blessing. To my first coach, my cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, my strong side, my running mate, my adventure buddy and one of the greatest men I have ever known, I am so blessed to call you my dad. Happy birthday!