Knowledge: My Second Focus Word for 2017


photo via Camille Styles
Behind my Blogger browser lies a looming goals sheet listing focus areas (spiritual, financial, and fitness for example) with a column for related goals and then, an action plan. It's empty as of now, but I know my second 2017 focus word, knowledge, will play a big part in all of these aspects of my life. I'm using it to guide my post today. In turn, I hope it motivates you to know yourself better, too.

Installing Honey into your browser helps you find online promo codes you may not have known about. Photo via Camille Styles.

money :: Know where my money is going and what it's doing for me. Most of it feeds, houses and clothes me. What about the rest?
  • I broke down a budget for the year already, but I'll regularly check into my Mint account to maintain it.
  • I'll pay attention to worthwhile reward systems: Snap Kitchen, CVS and Honey help you seriously save.
photo via Garance Doré
hygiene :: Know my best self, inside and out. This circles back to my 'care' initiative; read last week's post!
  • Maintain a make-up regimen I love as much as my skin does by focusing on one product every month.
  • Experiment with adding and subtracting certain food groups until I find my body's favorites. 
photo via Garance Doré
career :: Know my strengths and weakness, the ways I work best, and people in related industries.
  • I started keeping a log of 'Lessons Learned' at work. I'll keep it up, adding one by the end of every day.
  • Continue tuning into podcasts like 'Pardon My French' to gain wisdom from creative professionals.
Check back for my third and final focus word, commitment. Coming soon!

Three Focus Words for 2017 | Part 1: Care


image c/o The Welle Journal

To piggyback last week's post on the three words that summed up 2016, I'm writing about the three that I am focusing on in 2017. They are care, knowledge and commitment. Big, loaded words--I know. So, I'm breaking them down into smaller goals, like this!

Aussie wellness expert Elle sits down with my French favorite {image c/o Garance Doré}
I want to take proper care of my body inside and out. I loved this quote from Elle McPherson's podcast interview with Garance Doré (on my new fave, Pardon My French). She says,
"When a woman smiles, she's more beautiful and that comes from the inside. When her skin is good, because she's eating well, that comes from the inside and it shows. When you're a person who is happy in your life and motivated and inspired, it really shows on the outside."
So, starting on the inside, I want to seek and find what works best for me nutritionally. God made a wonder of the human body, but in the same way our physical appearances are stunningly different, I believe our insides behave differently, too. We crave different things, have vastly different taste buds.

a classic Whole30 snackboard lunch via Take a Bite

There's no universal diet: blogger bestie Annie, for instance, is halfway through January Whole30 and just isn't feeling it. So, I'll experiment on my own, which will require more home cooking and more reading. And if all else fails, I'm letting this lady intervene.

image c/o The Beauty Wanderer

Once my insides are in a good flow, I'll switch gears to the outside. I turn 24 next month and by the time I hit the big 2-5, I want to have a full-proof make-up routine that's healthy for my skin. I'm starting with primer, a product I didn't even use until last year. When I run out of this one (I'm typically loyal to Laura), I'll be getting this immediately.

In the meantime, I'd love to know the absolute must-haves in your make-up bag you think I should try in the coming months to master my own.

Sneak peek of the next post? See here!

A Letter to My College Self


I spent last weekend with my best high school friend, Caroline. Remember this? Scroll for my favorite father/daughter photo. Our homecoming queen is as humble as when she was crowned, and now, she's the bride-to-be, soon to be wedded to her high school sweetheart Brad in February.

I spent last weekend with she and all her besties for her bachelorette. When my sisters were getting married (back in the day!), bachelorettes were no big deal. Today, it's almost expected that it be an all weekend getaway. I don't hate the new standards as I still suffer from some separation anxiety from my college friends.

loved being back with all my longhorn ladies

Besides job titles and a few engagement rings, the friendships felt the exact same when we reunited. I feel so fortunate to have friends like these and a college experience I'll cherish forever. I've found I have a good following from younger girls, so I'm writing a letter to my college self in hopes that you too walk with your cap and gown feeling the same way I did and do this day:

To my college self, 
Freshman year, have fun. 
Overdose on it. Everyone older will tell you that college flies, and it does. Enjoy the freedoms that college affords you (living with friends, no curfew, only 15-hour school weeks), and spend that time making friendships to last a lifetime. These happen during Thursday night's out, theme parties, late nights studying in, football games and date functions.  
Sophomore year, step it up. 
I had all the friends and did all the things freshman year; I knew that four years of that routine wouldn't be fulfilling for me by the time it was 2015. I was more interested in my studies, so I devoted more time to them while still maintaining a really active social life. This was particularly true when I served as recruitment chair for my sorority. My role required me to go out and develop relationships, and this gave me the similar sense of purpose I thrived on from being involved in high school.  
Junior year, make plans. 
At the halfway point, graduation is in sight, so make plans for study abroad so the opportunity doesn't pass you by. I opted for a summer though I always dreamed of a semester, and it was the perfect ten-week getaway. Also plan for any internships and how to spread out your hours so you graduate on time.  
Senior year, develop lifestyle habits. 
By the time senior year rolled around, I wanted to develop the healthy lifestyle I wanted to have once I was working. I knew I'd be much more strapped for time and energy with a full-time job, so I started working on healthy habits so I'd be motivated to maintain them. I worked out daily, cooked for myself and used a planner to schedule all my to-dos and events before I said my goodbyes at graduation. 
I'm a huge believer in using your time wisely, and college is no different. Enjoy it, but know that when it's all said and done, the best is still yet to come!

2016 in Three Words

I always reflect before resolving at the turn of a new year. I look back on memories made on vacations, prayers answered and resolutions successfully seen through. I tackled three out of three this year with putting on weight, establishing an exercise regimen I enjoy and being more funny. I've summed up my 2016 in three words that define it best, starting with...

bringing in the new year with friends (& no heels!) at the Belle Notte ball
comedy :: Yes, I resolved to be funnier in the new year. The idea was William's, and we thought we could feed off each other. We judged each other at the year's end and declared us funnier people than we were in 2015. 

spontaneity :: I moved out and switched jobs within a two-week time period when opportunities presented themselves I couldn't pass up. April was a whirlwind, and in the moment, I was overwhelmed by a kind of spontaneous behavior much outside my comfort zone. In retrospect, though, I'm so glad I took a leap of faith because it's by far the best thing I did all year.   

novelty :: With a new gig and hood, I had fresh lenses to look at my world through. I made every effort to explore the area around me as I'm wedged between Houston's most exciting neighborhoods. Of course, my day-to-day at work is wildly different than before, and I feel so fortunate to see all the intricate details involved in interior design and the behind-the-scenes of making a brick-and-mortar shop come to life beautifully online.  

Coming into January, I feel like I'm in a groove, and I really like my routine. I'm not ready to start fresh really; I'm ready embrace three new words that should set 2017 up to be the best one yet ;)

It Is What It Is.


"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the Heavens."

I have given a lot of thought to a reflective post on 2016 and a resolution one for 2017, but I am in no rush. Instead, I found this passage from Ecclesiastes to say exactly what I wanted to hear at the end of one year and the start of the next. I hope it resonates with all of you, too:

2016 :: "what now is has already been...
2017 :: ...what is to be, already is

...and God restores what otherwise would be displaced. So, recognize that there is nothing better than to be glad and do well in life." -Ecclesiastes 3:1-16

May you be glad and well yesterday, today and every day.

Tips on Toasting


If you kept up with my weekend whereabouts this fall, you know WD & I kept busy on the wedding circuit.

Todd Events out of Dallas does floral decor the biggest and best I've ever seen.  Follow his Insta, and prepare to be floored.

One of his best friend's older sister got married on October 1st, and the ballroom was breathtaking.

had my bestie and my boy by my side for bananas foster and dancing at Brennan's of Houston
Later that month, my high school bestie, Julianne, exchanged vows with Justin in a true-to-her ceremony and reception--both simple and stunning--here in Houston as well.

McConn Marry Christmas card circa 2016!
Fast forward to December, when my brother Jimmy and his bride Laura said 'I do' on the 3rd.

a daddy daughter moment
And last but not least, Olivia and Matt got married the weekend before Christmas.

All six of my siblings are with spouse now, so I've been to my fair share of rehearsal dinners. It's always my favorite night of the weekend: close friends and family gather to gab about how much they love the bride and groom. Growing up, I was much too shy to stand up and give a speech for my sisters and by the time my brothers tied the knot, I decided to say only a few words before introducing the couple's "through the years" slideshow I had made. But when my college best friend Olivia got engaged, I knew it was time to stand up and give a toast. In preparing, I recalled all the rehearsal dinners to make it the most memorable and meaningful to the couple.

Below are five tips on how to be the toasters with the mostest: 

1 :: Partner up if it's fitting.
Oftentimes, the speech portion of the evening is lengthy, so teaming up gets two done in one turn. 

ex: Nicole and I lived with Olivia our senior year at Texas, so we shared many memories and our friendship felt the same in a lot of ways, so it made sense to join forces at the mic that night.

2 :: List it out.
Organizing your thoughts and feelings about one of your closest friends can be tough, so putting it in a list format provides a framework to guide you through the process. 

ex: Nicole and I went back and forth listing things we loved learning about Liv while living with her since Matt would soon be her roommate for life!

3 :: Tell stories.
In lieu of vague and maybe obvious descriptions about the bride and/or groom, tell stories about your time spent together. Everyone knows this person is kind or silly, so tell them something they don't know. 

ex: I'll never forget climbing countertops to kill cockroaches with Nicole's GMAT prep books in me and Olivia's bathroom. I let Matt know killing crawling creatures under their roof was up to him.

4 :: Acknowledge the significant other as much as possible.
Sometimes you've only met the significant other at a shower or two, but chances are, the person you're close to has told you all the things about them. Don't sit down before recognizing how delighted you are they have found them and maybe a reason why. 

ex: Having lived with Olivia the year leading up to Matt's Christmas proposal, we witnessed how much she missed him and loved visiting him. Alluding to that helped the audience relive part of their love story.

5 :: Write it down if you miss your turn.
Most likely, you'll prepare your words ahead of time, so if you don't make it up to the mic, put your thoughts on pen and paper and give it to the newlyweds when they return from their honeymoon. 

ex: This happened to me at brother Andy's, and I've since been told they treasure holding onto the written words. This way, you can say exactly what you intended to and make it more personal.

Here's to a happy 2017 filled with just as many celebrations of love!

The Makings of a Merry Christmas


image c/o Biscuit Home
It's December 26th, and when I was a kid, this was by and large the saddest day of the year. Christmas was 364 sleeps away, and school assignments, studying and other to-dos stood between the last season and the next.

I hate to sound Scroogey, but at 23 going on 24, I feel the opposite: a wave of relief hit me this morning when I realized I had a day in front of me with no plans, primping or meal-prepping. 

wedding eve: WD & I leaving Jimmy & Laura's rehearsal dinner downtown (dress here)

Today's day of rest created a feeling that resembles the kind when you return from an incredible vacation or a Sunday after a solid, celebratory weekend. Your time and energy was well spent with the most significant people in your life. You loved it, and given the chance, you wouldn't do it any differently the second time.

That's how this Christmas season was; here's what made it so very merry for me:

dessert: Dulce de Leche Cremeux with Sopapilla Chips, Spiced Pecan Streusel, Horchata Foam & Colored Meringues
My company party, which included a performance and a beautiful dinner in my boss's backyard.

let it be known: Lupe lived up to the Houston hype according to him
Date night with WD, a first-time fajita eater at legendary Lupe Tortilla's, followed by a neighborhood light tour.

left to right: Kirby, Amy, Carolyn, Erin, Molly, Lindsay and Mimi, the matriarch

A very, merry McConn wedding when #JimmyWentWholeHogg

Nico, KK & me

and a winter white one, too, when lovely Livy said I do to Mr. Skidmore. 

And of course, being home for Christmas and staying here in Houston for the New Year.

I'll be off all week (blessed!) and posting aplenty. Stay tuned!