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My 2012 Highlight Reel

In response to this WordPress prompt, I thought I'd take a look back at some highlights from the last 12 months. In all honesty, I feel like this entire blog has become a highlight reel of sorts. Every person, place or thing I've posted about has held a special place in my year, so picking just one photo and post for each month is a tough task! Regardless, I'm always up for a trip down memory lane... so here it goes:

January:

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Last year at this time I was secretly driving from Helena to Missoula, MT to surprise my best gal pal, Jamie, for her 30th birthday. We got to ring in the new year and celebrate her birthday all in one SUPER fun visit. Just looking back makes me grateful to have started 2012 with some of my favorite people on the planet. You can read more about the trip here and here.

February:

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In February, I started looking for recommendations from friends and family for local electrical companies that could help us remove this unsightly beast from our kitchen. More on the lovely results in a bit.

March:

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In mid-March, I happened to read this article reviewing a new app called Everplaces and was so excited about the app that I launched right into my own review. That review led to amazing opportunities on the content creation front (I'll cover that in a bit) and created what I can only hope will be lasting friendships with the crew at Everplaces.

April:

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In April, I posted an interview with the lovely people behind the {now} well-known Gypsy Mobile Boutique. If you were anywhere near Sacramento this past summer, you probably caught a glimpse of Gypsy around town. That truck is everywhere! You can read the full post here to learn more.

May:

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In late April and early May, I wrote a series of posts about a wonderful weekend trip to Pescadero, CA with my mom. The trip was equal parts fun, adventure and relaxation and we can't wait to have many more excursions like this in the future! Read more about it here, here and here.

June:

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Okay, so we actually took our road trip to Montana in May, but I was so busy with all kinds of real life goodness that I didn't get to post about it until late May/early June. Ahhh, the life of a working blogger. The trip was short, but incredibly sweet and we covered a lot of ground. Have I mentioned that after about six hours in the car, my husband and I get a bit loopy? Well, it's true. This trip was full of loopy, good times, which you can read about here and here.

July:

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In July, we finally finished our kitchen lighting project! We found a great company here in town to set us up with beautiful lighting and we've been enjoying our kitchen ever since. You can read more about the project here.

August:

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In August, this here blog was a bit quiet. I was super busy enjoying not sharing every. single. thing. I even posted about not sharing. Ironic, right? :)

September:

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In September, I hopped right back on the over-sharing train. Just in time too... I was able to capture and share what can only make me a huge nerd: the Space Shuttle Endeavour flyover here in Sacramento, CA! Luckily, I was far from being the only nerd in town. You can see more snaps here.

October:

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In October, I was incredibly excited to announce the launch of my first travel guide app in partnership with Everplaces. I've since launched another travel guide app for the U.S. Northern Rocky Mountains. I couldn't be more thrilled to have the opportunity to create content, work with such talented developers and designers and share my favorite spots with people all over the world.

November:

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In November, I met up with friends for a fun-filled weekend in San Francisco, CA. The trip started with concert tickets to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and turned into 72 hours of amazing times. Don't you love when things work out that way?

December:

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This month, I've had way too many highlights to truly pick just one. Wrapping up the year surrounded by close family and friends has been perfect in so many ways. If I had to pick one defining post for this month, however (since that is the task at hand), I'd say it's the post about changing things up on the social media front. As a former marketing and PR junky and all-around lover of the internet, I started my involvement in social media loooong before anyone even called it social media. I'm always checking out the newest websites and apps, but I often forget to let go of what's no longer working. That's going to change in 2013. The most notable change for me will be saying goodbye to Facebook. It's been a handy tool over the years, but I'm finding it less and less useful. Even more so, I'm finding it to be less of a positive experience. I'm not alone in this, either. This post from the New York Times is pretty right-on in terms of how I'm feeling about the social media giant. We'll see if I can really give up Instagram, though. I'm sticking with it for now, but I'm guessing the ad-integration that is sure to come will be clumsily executed and rather annoying. As always, I'll keep posting this blog to various platforms and see what sticks!

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Anyone else taking the challenge of summarizing your year in one post? If you are, please feel free to link up in the comment section!

Happy New Year's Eve, all! Be safe!

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Change is Good

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As the new year approaches, I can't help but reflect.

Over the last several years, and even more so in the last several days, our world has become so...loud. The constant stream of opinions, judgements, facts, misinformation, deeply personal stories and meaningless drivel I've opted in to (and, yes, participated in) has become overwhelming.

I find myself less interested in turning on this big, beautiful hunk of an iMac to write due to the noise I find just one browser tab over.

So, I'm opting out of certain things. I won't cut all ties, but those of you interested in following this blog on Facebook after the new year will be out of luck. I'll be deleting my account completely in the coming weeks.

While Facebook is an amazing tool for some businesses, I'm finding it less and less effective for sharing blog content. Sure, I can post a link, but very few people actually see it in their news feeds. Pictures generally elicit a response, but garnering "likes" on a photo stored within the Facebook platform has done very little to grow readership on this blog.

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, you may have seen my (and a TON of others, I'm sure) early concern regarding the new Instagram Terms of Service. While they've attempted to quiet the masses, I'm still not sure it's the right platform for me anymore. I know they have to monetize their business and have always figured that advertising would be part of that. My personal preference is usually to pay for a service, rather than have my content sold against without recognition or compensation. So, I'll wait to see what Instagram has to say about their "confusing" language (which, let's face it, was actually quite clear) and decide whether or not to move on. The good news is that we have choices. We always have choices (thank you, tireless app developers). I'm checking out the newly updated Flickr app and EyeEm. Feel free to join me here and here, respectively.

That said, I'll still be sharing blog goodness and other fun stuff over on Twitter, Pinterest and Everplaces. As always, you can follow this blog and get new posts sent directly to your email like so:

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You can also subscribe to my RSS Feed.

As far as content is concerned, I'm excited about the possibilities.

I purposefully titled this blog People + Places + Things so that I could cover a variety of topics. Admittedly, I've been really focused on the places as of late. The bottom line is this: I've had the unique opportunity to travel more over the last year and I took full advantage of that. Thus, the blog reflected my trips and adventures more than it did the people who inspire me. That will definitely change in 2013. As for the things... well... we'll just have to see how I address that part of the blog in the new year. I wouldn't expect an abundance of gift guides and the apocalypse will surely come before you'll see a "what I wore" post. There are bloggers who do that well (exhibits a, b and c). I am not one of them.

I look forward to the changes in store. I also look forward to having much more peace and at least a bit more quiet in the months to come.

I'll catch you on the flip side, friends.

Happy Holidays.

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Let There Be Light!

To be fair, we were never really without light. We just had incredibly ugly light fixtures. See? {Cute, handy husband...not so cute light fixture.}

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As you may remember from my posts here and here, we've been working on some fixes to bring our kitchen into the year 2012. We DIYed painting our cabinets, which was a ton of work. When it came to electrical work, we decided to go with the pros. After asking for recommendations from Facebook friends and Twitter followers, we ended up going with Shields Electric.

They were amazing. I met briefly with owner Jeff Shields and he worked up a really fair quote. He also offered lighting design advice. We got four quotes and none of the other guys really did that. They asked me what I wanted and didn't go much further to offer suggestions.

I'm not a lighting designer, so I really appreciated when Jeff offered up a solution based on the size of our kitchen, the natural light we have streaming into the space and the fact that under-counter task lighting just isn't in the cards right now. He also went over product options. He recommended recessed LED can lights, which will save energy, money and waste in the long run. Can't beat that.

So, the morning of the lighting installation, Jeff and his crew came out and got to work. They removed the outdated box light (yippee!) and loaded it in the truck to be donated.

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Then they measured twice, cut once and installed the can lights. I'm not kidding you, it took a few hours and they were done.

Once the lights were installed, Steve from Steve's Drywall Service came in and filled the holes in the ceiling. He matched the texture really well too. We could have probably patched it ourselves, but I've actually tried to match texture before. Let's just say it didn't quite turn out.

Thanks to Steve, you can barely tell we had patch work done!

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We had to wait for about 24 hours before we painted the ceiling, but that was okay. We had paint in the garage left by the previous owners, so that part wouldn't take any time at all. Easy peasy.

Or so I thought.

Turns out we didn't have left over ceiling paint. And I didn't think to ask Jeff and crew to save us a bit of ceiling they had cut out for the recessed can lights. Ugh.

Have you ever tried to match paint? What about white paint? Yeah. There are about a million different shades of white paint available at the hardware store.

After a lot of trial and error, (and some serious help from the color specialist at Lowe's) I finally found a match. Whew!

When it came time to choose and install our pendant light over the sink, we went with this option from Lofings Lighting here in Sacramento. When we got it home and opened the box, we noticed that the wires were silver (not black, white and ground like the wiring Jeff and crew had installed):

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Sadly, the directions were not in the box as the sticker promised. So, after a few google searches and a quick email to Jeff, we were ready to go.

And go, we did. Just look at this hot piece of glass:

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The best part? It's centered over the sink. We still need curtains and that wreath may be moved, but hey...I've achieved symmetry in my kitchen, so I'm all smiles.

Can we do a little before and after action? Let's take it way back to October of last year:

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And now:

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Needless to say we are thrilled with how it all turned out. We got in some solid DIY action, but happily called in the professionals when we didn't feel 100% comfortable doing certain things on our own.

For my Sacramento friends: 

If you're looking for a quote on electrical work, reach out to Shields Electric here, here or here. You'll be glad you did.

If you're looking for someone to do drywall or patch work, I'd recommend Steve Harris from Steve's Drywall service to anyone. You can call him at (916) 369-7168.

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Anyone else working on home projects this summer? Be sure to share! Just link up in the comment section.

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Social Media and Kitchen Lighting

Yeah, that's right. I put social media and kitchen lighting in the same post title. Why, you ask? Well, a few weeks ago I threw out a post on both Facebook and Twitter asking people if they had any recommendations for electricians who could help us out on our small kitchen lighting project.

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