The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy Monday, folks!

‘Tis a great Monday indeed, since it’s the very last Monday before… CHRISTMAS!!!!!!1!!!11!!!!!!!!!!1!!

If you’re thinking, “Gretchen, ease up on the exclamation points and formatting, it’s just a holiday…” then you obviously don’t know me at all. Christmas is my FAVORITE holiday, my favorite time of year, my favorite everything. I’m totally that girl when it comes to Christmas. And this year, my whole fam is heading down to Atlanta to ring in Christmas morn at my sister Jen’s house.

It actually feels like the Christmas festivities have kind of already started, though, because even though we’re all going to her house for Christmas in just a few days, my sister and my nieces were actually up here this past weekend!

 
This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also certainly the busiest! This past week has held my work holiday celebration, my brother’s birthday, a photoshoot, and a baby shower — as well as plenty of time spent with the best kiddos in the world, of course. 🙂

Wednesday night, I went out to dinner with my coworkers to celebrate 2016 and the upcoming holidays. We don’t have an actual office here in the DC area (I work from home), but I’m luckier than a lot of other remote Yelp employees in that there are actually quite a few of us in the same area! This gives us the luxury of getting me out from behind my computer screen every once in a while to love on each other in person (and gives me an excuse to get dolled up, too!)

 
I know I probably humblebrag about my job far too much already, but I just have the best coworkers. We went to this new-ish restaurant in DC called Mythology that I loooooved, and ate, drank, and chatted the night away. I don’t go into the city all that often, but this place already has me thinking about my next trip, it was so good! The deets are all on–you guessed it–Yelp, so take a gander if you’re interested:

Read Gretchen F.‘s review of Mythology on Yelp

Thursday was my brother’s birthday, and was also the day that Jenny and the girls came into town. We had a family dinner at my parents’ house, and then went to see Rogue One on opening night (no spoilers, but it was awesome.)

 
Saturday morning was spent twiddling my thumbs waiting for the insane ice that had taken over the Metro Area to melt. It was insanely icy that morning — I almost fell flat on my butt just stepping out my front door, and there were literally dozens and dozens of terrible traffic accidents throughout the morning (including a THIRTY CAR PILEUP on the beltway. :()

Luckily (and weirdly), it warmed up and the ice was all but melted by noon, so I still got to fill the majority of the day with fun stuff… and even had a special guest star that some of you may recognize:

Anne! My brother and sister-in-law were shooting some photos for Anne’s business, so I played the role of makeup artist for the day. I can’t wait to see the finished shots!

 
Getting to test out my makeup skills is always fun for me, especially as my interest in makeup artistry has continued to grow. I’ve been getting more experimental with my own makeup lately (perhaps I’ve been getting bolder as a side effect of chopping off my hair, hehe), and, much to Sean’s chagrin, have been investing in a broader range and breadth of products.

Maybe one day I’ll get confident enough to start a side hustle beautifying folks, but for now, it’s enough to showcase my extreme vanity all over Instagram. And here, too, I guess. 😉

Finally, my weekend capped off with my beautiful friend Lara’s baby shower! This was the main reason Jen was back in town, as she was co-hosting it, and it just worked out really well that it was around the same time as Ben’s birthday.

Lara is a big Crossfit nut, so the shower was actually Crossfit themed! I helped Jen out by trying to replicate some of the things that she found on Pinterest. Some were a big win (the barbell diaper cake!), some were passable (the kettle bell cake balls), and some were a huge, time-wasting fail (WHY ARE SUGAR COOKIES SO HARD TO DECORATE?!?!). Regardless, I had a ton of fun prepping with Jen and, of course, loving on Lara and her soon-to-be baby girl!

So, that just about catches us up! Jen and the girls head back to Atlanta today with my parents, and the rest of us will be following suit later this week. So the next few days are sure be super busy as I try to wrap up work stuff, personal stuff, and try to keep my raging Christmas spirit in check ’til I make it to the ATL! And if I don’t make it back for another post before the end of the week, we wish you the happiest of holidays and merriest of Christmases!

 

Where to Start?

Wow, you know it’s been a minute since you’ve contributed to your blog when you have to remember the URL to get to the login page because it doesn’t pop up in your browser history’s autocomplete bar. To be honest, I don’t think I even cognitively realized just how long it had really been, you know? I mean, with the loss of my friend, and then my grandmother, blogging just didn’t seem “right” for a while. And then life just kept truckin’ along, and before you know it, here we are! December. Crazy.

So the reality is, I don’t even know where to begin with this post. It doesn’t really feel productive to spend a ton of time covering what’s been going on during last 6 months of my life because A) there’s not really all that much to report, B) if you follow me on social media in some form or another, you probably already know a lot of it, and C) I am too lazy to try to remember it all. But, it would feel weird not at least touching on where I’m at in, like, my life, sooooooo… I’ll try to make it brief.

Work: Yelp stuff is still going awesomely. I’m a little bit past 3.5 years at Yelp, and in July I was promoted to the role of Community Director. I am, it might go without saying, still loving my job, having a great time hosting events, working with local businesses, and championing my community. I also have the best #worksquad a girl could ask for. In August, I threw my 3rd huge Yelper Party event, and also attended CM Week at Yelp’s HQ in San Francisco for the 3rd year.

 

Family: Even though 2016 has been the year of some seriously crappy stuff, it will still be remembered as an amazing year in the grand scheme of my life, since it started off with me gettin’ hitched! Sean and my first year as newlyweds has been wonderful, and we haven’t threatened to divorce each other even once.

 

My nieces are still awesome, and my family and I are just as weirdly close as ever. In early November, my sister, my parents, and I went to New York and my dreams came true because I finally got to see HAMILTON (in short: I cried like six…ty times, it was NOT overhyped despite how much I built it up in my head, it was everything and more):

 

And later in November (lol), the whole fam (minus Sean, who had to work), went to Orlando for a big family vaycay. Which meant I got to return to the Happiest Place on Earth (for Gretchen), Harry Potter World, and also, the Happiest Place on Earth (for Other People), Disneyworld:

 

My trip back to Diagon Alley went really well with my latest tattoo, too:

And, finally, my dogs are still my wonderful, weird, bearded children:

Does that pretty much cover all the bases? I think so, right? Eh, if there’s anything I’m forgetting… I probably will never remember it. But! It should at least bring us up to the present, wherein I am actually trying to get back to updating this thing on the reg. But, for once, I’m not going to make any grand, sweeping declarations like, “I’m returning to my roots!” and “I’m getting back on the blog wagon!” because those will surely backfire and leave me eating my words. Instead, I’ll just be honest and say this:

My life has gotten pretty great. I have a loving husband, a home of my own, furchildren, an awesome family, a job that I am legitimately still obsessed with, and the freedom to continue to dye my hair any color I want with impunity (it even recently got featured in a Buzzfeed listicle, so, y’know, #lifegoalscomplete). I’m also, obviously, extremely humble.

But I must admit, if anything has been missing over the past, I dunno, few months… a year… or two… it’s that I’ve stopped writing.

I’ve basically stopped writing here on this blog, I’ve stopped writing creatively, and I think that I’ve been keeping myself busy enough that I haven’t had to think about it. It’s just so easy to put family, friends, work, holidays, trips, obsessively singing the soundtrack to Moana, binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and playing Final Fantasy XV nonstop for 3 straight days first. But I miss writing, I do, and I want to… stop… missing it. (Hmm, my skills may have already deteriorated.)

So, whether I start posting here regularly again, or whether I find the motivation to finally frickin’ finish the sequel to Terra (I know, I know…), or whether I just find myself coming back to my words a little more often, I’d like to write more. And I’m going to try to do just that.

And with that said, hopefully, you’ll see me back here in these parts very soon. Although, based on recent precedence, if I make it back for another post before… uh… April… I’ll already have outdone myself. I do love setting that bar loooooow. 😉

 

Georgia on my Mind

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Where to begin? I definitely didn’t mean to take such a long hiatus so soon after making my triumphant blogging return, but, hey, what can I say? Life happens, yo. And has it ever been happening over the past couple of weeks!

For a large chunk of the time I’ve been away from you guys, I was back in Georgia for a dual-purposed trip. The main purpose was work-related, as my duties with Yelp called me back to beautiful Savannah (my life is so hard, I know.) I was there for an event organized by the Community Ambassador there (whom I advise as part of my role here in Northern VA.)

The other purpose, as you can see, was to see my sister, brother-in-law and super cute nieces, who all currently live in Macon (but who are moving north of Atlanta in just a few weeks.) Macon is essentially on the way from Atlanta to Savannah, so it really works out that my job sends me that way a few times each year. It was particularly great fun that this event was family-friendly, so I got to drag the whole family along, hehe.

Mia was our unofficial Yelp brand ambassador for the day. 😉

We got to see the Savannah sights as part of the event, which involved a pedicab (rickshaw) tour around the historic downtown area, and then lunch at an awesome local restaurant. Actually, the trip in generally involved not a small amount of food at various awesome local restaurants. Savannah really is a food-lover’s paradise… though, granted, it does make a pesky thing like losing weight just a tad challenging, heh.

Okay, so I didn’t eat “well” while I was there, but damn did I eat gooooooood. Alas, I feared this did not bold well for my return to the scale upon my, er, return to my house. So imagine my shock when said scale revealed I did not gain any weight during my trip! Miracle!

Sure, I also didn’t lose any weight, but hey, when there are waffle fry nachos in the mix, you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll take what I can get.

I pretty much credit this to Jenny’s healthy influence whenever I visit her. We may have all indulged a bit while in Savannah, but during the Macon-portion of the trip, I was relatively self-controlled AND my fitness instructor sister also dragged my lazy butt to the gym 3 out of the 4 days I was there.

 
Alas, if only Jenny lived up here and could physically force me to sweat on the daily. I’d be hitting my goals like ka-POW! Oh well, guess I’ll just have to keep whining about how much I hate working out to you guys instead. 😉

Anyway, along with all the eating and sweating and plotting to kidnap cuddling with my nieces, I also got just enough pool time in to take my new ‘kini for a test drive (it’s from Swimsuits For All), as well as get a nice light dusting of sunburn.

  
Sadly, no matter how much sunscreen I apply nor how religiously I reapply it, I always seem to get at least a little bit burnt. I guess I’m just that white, sigh. Luckily (?), my burn always fades into a tan, so I look slightly less ghost-like than I did before I headed to Georgia. This is important, since I’m headed to Mexicooooooo on Friday! And I don’t know about you, but I’d really prefer not to get burnt to a total lobster-like crisp on my first day.

Although, given what the weather report is indicating right now, I might not end up getting much sun at all! Current forecasts are calling for a lot of rain in Cancun this weekend, which would be no bueno… mostly for my wonderful friend who is getting married in Playa Mujeres on Sunday, but also, you know, for my selfish, vacationing self.

I’ve never been to Cancun/Playa Mujeres before, but those of you who may be more familiar with it — what does rain tend to be like there? Do the storms tend to be short, or are we likely to be relegated to indoor activities for the whole day? I know it’s still early, so things could change, but after my recent experience with Mother Nature putting a damper on things… well, can you blame me for being anxious?

Well, c’est la vie, right? You can’t control the weather, and I’m just super excited to have some time away with Sean, to celebrate my two wonderful friends getting married, and spend some time chillin’ with my brother and sister-in-law (Ben & Taylor are photographing the wedding). It’s not Friday yet, though! After a super chill, laid-back Memorial Day weekend (we didn’t go anywhere or do, like, anything… hahaha), I’ve got a full docket for the rest of this week — meetings, calls, and appointments galore! So with that, I bid you adieu for now. Adios!

The Day Before Tuesday

Hey, look, it’s Monday! Hope everyone had a rad weekend. In true Gretchen fashion, mine was bookended with media consumption: I kicked off the weekend with Captain America: Civil War (it was awesomeeee) and ended it with last night’s episode of Game of Thrones (which, alas, left me… unsatisfied.)

Bran is literally every single person watching last night. What a tease.

Anyway… Happy belated Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there, by the way! I couldn’t spend Mother’s Day with my actual mama (she’s in Texas with my grandmother right now), but she was of course in my thoughts all day (along with my mother-in-law and my sister and all the other fantastic moms in my life!)

As for me, I traded in my own (fur)children for some new models this Mother’s Day:

Hehe. Grooming Day is always a good day in my house. They’re like brand new dogs! Well, physically. Personality-wise, they’re still the same old bratty, lovable, annoying, wonderful princesses they always are.

Tonight I’ve got an event that I’m hosting for work, which I’m going to relish, because tomorrow I get to wake up bright and early to go get a whooooole bunch of cavities filled! Huzzah! ::sad trombone:: I swear, I take good care of my teeth. Curse this soft enamel! Anyway, suffice it to say I’m looking forward to today’s activities far more than tomorrow’s.

If I’m not too numbed up, maybe I’ll be motivated to check in post-drilling tomorrow. You never know! Either way, see you when I see you!

28 Years Young

So, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve been back in these parts, and I don’t even have a single excuse (other than, well, y’know, life). I truly, honestly, genuinely meant to get back to blogging much sooner than this, what with all the wedding DIY projects I want to share, various trips I’ve taken, and additional hair colors I’ve gone through.

So I apologize for taking so long to get back to my blogging roots. But today I make my triumphant return to the interwebs and we begin again!

First off, some updates:

  • I chopped off my hair basically the minute I returned from my honeymoon, and have proceeded to dye it varying shades of purple and also shave designs into the back of my head. I’m kind of loving it.

  • I got a new tattoo about a month ago. It’s a vial of Felix Felicis, the liquid luck potion from Harry Potter, and I think it’s pretty rad. I got it done at Patriots Tattoo in Fairfax.

  • Sean’s grandfather sadly passed away at the end of February, so we took a quick trip down to San Antonio to be with his family. We are so grateful that he was able to be at the wedding and that we got as much time with him as we did. <3

  • We had our annual Yelp regional conference a few weeks ago, which not only gave me the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by my coworkers (our team spans from PA to NC), but also to bust out my trusty Pikachu onesie. (#bestjobever)

  • My niece/goddaughter Mia also turned 3 at the end of March! Unghhhh, look how little she used to be…

  • And finally, speaking of birthdays…

Today is mine! Huzzah! I am 28 years young today which means it’s time to update my bio and start thinking about what to put on my before-I-turn-30 bucket list, heh. Fun fact: I don’t know if I’ve already shared this, but Sean’s mom and I actually have the same birthday! So did he luck out or what? He only has to remember the one date for both of us! 😉

I spent this past weekend in Macon, GA with my family for my baby niece Kira’s baptism, but we also snuck in an early birthday celebration while we were all together. We went to Dovetail, this awesome hyper-local farm-to-table concept — my kinda place.

I know I probably say this every year, but I think that 28 is shaping up to be my best year yet! I mean, I’ve already got a blizzard wedding under my belt, so pretty much everything in life seems easy breezy in comparison. I’m still loving my kickass job with Yelp, I’ve got a rad family, a home into which I can pour all my post-wedding extracurricular energy (a post on my obsession with my new bar cart is forthcoming), and my awesome grumpy old man pups (plus I basically timeshare my brother’s dog Pixel).

And as a perfect birthday present, I just received my wedding video! So please, feast your eyes on the wonderful video that the wonderful Doug Stanford created, which really showcases just how awesome and crazy and sentimental and special our wedding day really was.

Those last shots at the end are my favorite. 🙂

With that, I leave you for now — with the promise that much more is to come soon. (Although, I realize that my promises mean essentially nothing to you, since I’ve been promising to blog more for like, a year. Hahahaha…haha…ha.) I fly back to DC tonight (still in Macon for the day), so I’ll catch you on the flip!