Finding Neverland

This week we had professional family photos done for the first time ever! I told my photographer, Kristin from Bella de Beau Portraits that we were pretty laid back and that she should be creative and do something she normally wouldn’t. She had this magical idea of doing a woodland-neverland themed photoshoot and I almost died when she told me! I’m a huge fan of Peter Pan so my answer was an obvious yes!

For the first sitting, Kristin made her own teepee and had us gather tightly inside. Even posing for the photos felt magical. The kids even did a great job sitting and listening for these!belladebeau.ashtonfamilyportraits-31

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didn’t even have to bribe them!
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breathtaking
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Look at that handsome stud!
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I love you more every day.
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This whole photoshoot was done in Kristin’s neighborhood so for the next scene, we jumped in the car and just drove up the road to a cute wooded area for Charlotte’s fairy session.

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my little Tinkerbell
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“smell the beautiful flower, mommy!”
We finished up doing some cute shots on a bench area. We had to hardcore bribe the kids with gummy bears and ice cream by this time but they still did a great job!

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If you’re looking for a great photographer in the San Antonio area, contact Kristin Werthman at Bella de Beau Portraits and Makeup Artistry.
email: info@belladebeau.com
phone: (808) 298-9089
Instagram: @belladebeau
website: belladebeau.com

Hope you enjoyed my photo dump. The pictures were too pretty not to share! Now go into the woods and take some photos!
With love,
Christina & fam

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San Antone To The Bone

Just a couple of weeks ago, I made my annual trip to my hometown of San Antonio, TX. Although my older sister, Annie- who also moved to Pittsburgh, goes home multiple times a year, I prefer to make the trek less frequently. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder… Plus, when I only go home once a year, it makes my parents feel more inclined to buy me stuff like pedicures and Texas flag running shorts (thanks, mom!) and all the food (lookin’ at you, dad!).

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Even though I’ve been going back and forth between Pittsburgh and San Antonio for 6 years now, I only just started noticing just how different my two cities are. The people might as well be from opposite ends of the universe, and don’t even get me started on the differences of the trees in both places! Not complaining, obviously, just making observations. SERIOUSLY, HOW DID I NEVER NOTICE ALL OF THE CACTI?!

Unfortunately, on the third day of the trip we went to the beach and I got the worst sunburn of my life (from the bottom of my butt to the tops of my ankles). I’m not being dramatic, IT HURT TO SLEEP, WALK, SIT, AND MOVE IN GENERAL FOR THE REMAINING 3 DAYS I WAS THERE. That plus the sinus infection/cold I got from God knows what, meant that I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see, do everything I wanted to do, or even eat everything I wanted to eat. Woe is me, right?!

Nevertheless, I shall share my mental list of the BEST overlooked and underrated places to eat/shop/drink/do stuff in SA, some of which I got to go to this time around and some of which will have to wait ’til next time.

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SHOPPING

  1. Annie Gogglyn– located in the heart of the ’09 zip code, Annie G has been a San Antonio staple for 30+ years. My Aunt Robin worked there right after it was converted from a gas station to a bridal boutique. I worked at Annie in 2012 because I bought all of my clothes there anyway and employee discounts are the bomb (it was no longer a bridal boutique, duh, but a whimsical women’s boutique as well as a trendy children’s store ). A couple years ago, my friend Susi bought the place, but more on that later…
  2. Bless Your Heart– they sell Ban.do and Sunnylife Australia, so you know it’s cool. Plus, my friend Gretchen works there and she might be the nicest person I’ve ever met. 
  3. Aquarius– It’s true, every time I enter this boutique I make a bee line for the sale rack, but just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there.
  4. Melissa Guerra– This is where Frida Kahlo would do her home shopping had she lived in San Antonio. My BFF got me the prettiest hand painted sugar skull key chain from here.
  5. HEB– had to give a quick shout out to the best grocery store that has ever existed. When we were kids, we used to always ask to pet the live lobsters in the tanks in the seafood department.

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SIGHT SEEING/THINGS TO DO

  1. Mural Hunting– San Antonians know what to do with a blank wall. My hometown might be THE most colorful city in the U.S. of A, which is saying a lot. Do yourself a favor if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, get in your car and drive all around downtown, The Pearl, the Northwest side, and the West side and let your eyes be amazed.
  2. The Alamo- don’t actually wait in that long ass line to go inside The Alamo, though. Definitely just take a picture in front of it and then cross the street to the woman selling $3 paper flower crowns and buy one. Then go get a popsicle and stop being such a dumb tourist.
  3. Snake Farm and Animal World– The Snake Farm is not only the place where my brothers and cousins used to have their birthday parties as kids, it’s also the place where I got to hold a baby Lemur and where Christina draped an Albino Python over her shoulders like she was Britney Bitch herself. Though it is now under new management and you probably can’t do as much as the cool/dangerous stuff I’ve done at this place and although, technically, it isn’t even in the San Antonio city limits, it’s still way better and less crowded than the zoo. You may have seen it on Dirty Jobs.
  4. The Japanese Tea Gardens– an absolutely picturesque way to spend an evening in SA.
  5. DTSA library–  If you like books and cool buildings, go here. It’s the second best library I’ve ever been to (this is the first, of course)
  6. The Overtime Theatre– I grew up attending local plays on field trips and always loved it so much. The Overtime is the people’s theatre! The amazing array of artistry you’ll see here is insane. SPEAKING OF WHICH, my very first friend I ever made (her name’s Kat, we were 5 and played leap frog down my hallway and have been friends ever since) is performing in the upcoming show, Cthulhu Too: The Stranger In Yellow. NBD, I KNOW HER! So if you’d care to support local art, please click here to donate to this production!
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snake farm, 2008

snake

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FOOOOOOD 

This is a difficult part to narrow down, but here goes nothin’…

  1. Garcia’s– THE BEST BOWL OF CHILI OF YOUR LIFE. YOU’RE WELCOME.
  2. Patty’s– BEST PUFFY TACO PLATE and friendliest staff.
  3. Augie’s– BEST BBQ SANDWICHES
  4. Raspas– a Raspa is a kind of snow cone. Piccadilly is the best/weirdest/my favorite kind to get. Mangonada is good too. DON’T FORGET THE CHAMOY!
  5. Elote- just find any snack shack that sells this and get it then tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through you!
  6. Theory Coffee– damn good coffee
  7. La Popular Bakery– ALL. THE. TREATS.

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Luckily for the whole city of San Antonio, I’ll be back at least twice next year. My brother and sister are getting married…. NOT TO EACH OTHER… and I guess our presence will be expected at both weddings. I suppose I shall just have to keep finding this city’s hidden gems and adding to the list every time I’m there. Tough job, huh?

California Is For Lovers (Part 2)

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If I could transport myself to southern California for an hour a day to lay on the beaches, I would. They were absolutely breathtaking and the weather was perfect! My friend, Cyntia, and I had a girls day while the boys went on some long hike. We stopped first at the Santa Monica Pier and walked the beach and pier. There were some pretty talented street performers, one guy even had pigeons all over his body. NOPE.

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Isn’t she like the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen?

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Next, we checked out Venice Beach aka Muscle Beach. Let’s just say, it did not disappoint. Great food, big muscles, and soft green grass to take a nap. I had my very first açaí bowl, I’m not sure why I waited so long to have one because it was super scrumptious!

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Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

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Shortly after this picture was taken, this guy got arrested for having 2 guns and a 6-pack… just kidding.

Our last and final day in California was spent in Newport beach. We got a sweet deal on rentals for surf boards and wet suits so we had to at least try! Turns out, none of us were actually able to get up but we all got a pretty good workout trying. What matters is, we got some amazing pics and enjoyed the sun!

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Peace out, Cali! I’ll be back shortly!

xoxo,
Christina

Some Beach, Somewhere.

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If you ever have a chance to take a giant, rainbow unicorn float to the beach, I highly suggest you DO IT. Christina bought this bad boy (who we affectionately named Dennis) for $25 at Costco this past winter and yesterday we brought him along with us to Port Aransas, our lifelong favorite beach/city to visit in the great state of Texas. After getting Dennis blown (up), we all hopped on and tried to stay on as my brother, Daniel, pulled us out into the waves. Although we had to karate chop the seaweed and swerve around the jellyfish (my sister, Annie, ended up getting stung on her back), it was still the most fun time ever! We felt like kids again!

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Love Bracelet/ Little Words Project

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Daniel ended up falling asleep on Dennis, so to wake him up I put some Fritos on his back so the seagulls could wake him up, ever so gently, as seagulls do. It. Was. Hilarious.

Best part of any Texas beach trip is going to Whataburger after to gorge on burgers, fries, and coffee flavored milkshakes while your sunburned butts stick to the plastic seats. Speaking of sunburns, this might be the worst one I’ve ever had… Here’s hoping I don’t spend my last couple of days in town in complete misery…

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Kill ‘Em With Kindness

 

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I was 12 when I had my first boyfriend. His name was Chris Cressy. We “dated” for three weeks before he ghosted me just one week after my 13th birthday. For some reason, one that will remain a mystery forever, Chris decided to make the next year of my life miserable. I mean, he had already ripped out my heart and stomped on it, so why not take my already shaky teenage self esteem and drag that through the gutter too?

Chris HATED my guts. He put gum in my hair when I made the mistake of sitting in front of him on the school bus. He called me “pig face” everyday because of my stupid little upturned nose. We had “loathe” as a vocabulary word in 8th grade English, and he made it clear to the whole class who he loathed.

What had I done to deserve this treatment? Nothing.

So what did I do to defend myself or retaliate to Chris’s incessant bullying? Also, nothing.

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Even though my feelings were being constantly battered, I was nice to Chris. It was in December 2003 that he decided to cut it out and call off his verbal dogs. I was best friends with his sister and decided to give the entire family Christmas gifts, and when he saw that I gave him my own coveted NOFX tee shirt, he said something along the lines of “Sarah is just so nice. I think I’m going to be nice back.” It was a Christmas miracle!

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I know that compared to others’ experiences, my middle school situation was really NBD. Nevertheless, it had a profound effect on my life. I learned that kindness, genuine kindness, cannot be beat. I learned that patience truly is as virtuous as they say. I learned that taking the high road can be a real pain in the ass, but it is absolutely necessary.

After we got over that blip, Chris and I became friends, and remain friends to this day, almost 15 years later! He’s actually a great person, he was just an asshole teenager. (HI, CHRIS! I told you I was gonna use your full name!)

The inspiration to write this stemmed from a collaboration I have with a company called Little Words Project. I love looking down at my wrist and seeing the reminder to simply “be kind,” because I know from personal experience just how important that is. I suppose if you’re reading this post and are looking for something to take away from it all, hear me now: Kindness will always win.

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Be Kind Bracelet/ Little Words Project

 

Now this is stuck in my head: “Be kind to your web footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother”

California Is For Lovers (Part 1)

Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a vacation for the first time in what seems like a year. My husband turned 30 years old and wanted to spend his big day have a relaxing but thrilling time in California with his bestie. As much as we love our children, it can be hard to fully relax when you’re constantly keeping an eye on your kids. We were very blessed to have my in-laws come stay the week with the kids while we went away.

Making the decision to fly into LAX might have been a bad choice since we got to experience the LA traffic first hand but if we had not, we wouldn’t have stopped at Phillipe’s for some mouth-watering french-dip sandwiches and had the chance to explore Chinatown.

Holy Blue Cheese French Dip Batman!

After Chinatown, we took a drive to the Griffith Observatory. As we were headed up we saw a sign that said “Free Parking with $1 shuttle ride round trip”. DEAL! We parked and could not figure out where the bus pick up was. We saw a bus up the road so we walked up a crazy steep hill but found out it wasn’t the right shuttle. Then we hiked back down the hill and saw a bunch of charter buses an assumed “those must be it!”. No. Finally, we found someone to direct us and had to hike further down the hill to find the shuttle pick up and still waited for what seemed like 20 minutes but at least we were in the right spot. It felt like we were in the movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?” but instead call it “Dude, Where’s The Shuttle?”


Once we reached the top we saw some breathtaking views of Los Angeles and the famous “Hollywood” sign. I also learned some cool stuff about our Universe and got to check out a Tesla Coil in action! Hello, Lightning.


Later that evening, I had the opportunity of meeting up with a high school friend that I hadn’t seen in 10 years! We met up at a super cute bar called Harlowe in West Hollywood that was really chill. They made us some great appetizers that we completely devoured like wild animals. Hopefully, we didn’t leave a horrible impression.

Image from Cement Tile Shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Emilie and I

The next day was Brandon’s 30th birthday! His best friend took us to lunch on Laguna Beach and not only did we have some spectacular food but we had an amazing view!

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Look at these guys! 18 years of friendship!

 

When I found out we would be making a trip to California, I made it a top requirement that we stop at this adorable little place called Creme & Sugar. I had recently found out about this place through social media when they released their Unicorn Hot Chocolate. Following the Hot Chocolate, was a Unicorn Milkshake and Unicorn Bark. This was all before the Unicorn Frappucino was ever thought into existence. I had hyped it up a ton and I think everyone was dreading to go, assuming this milkshake would be terrible and would end in a waste of time. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

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Everyone ordered something off the menu and we were all highly satisfied with what we chose. Naturally, I chose the Unicorn Milkshake and Daves wife Cyntia ordered the S’mores Hot Chocolate. I would highly recommend coming here if you’re ever in the area.

 

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Am I dreaming?

 

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It made the Unicorn come out of me!

 

After getting a sugar fill, we “hit” up a batting cage to satisfy Brandon’s birthday wish. For being years since any of us had hit anything with a stick, we all did pretty well! To finish up the night, we met up with Brandon’s younger brother Caleb and his wife Alissah for a fancy shmancy dinner. So far, Southern California had exceeded my expectations, I would have been satisfied after 2 days but we had a few more adventures to accomplish before heading back home.

 

To be continued…

I’ve Got PERSONALITY!

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When you meet a new person, and you really want to get to know him/her, what are the questions you ask? “What’s your favorite color?” is a common inquisition, typically asked by kids age 5-12. Also, what does a person’s favorite anything say about them? Not much! Favorite things are too fleeting to determine whether or not you’re talking to a sociopath.

I love when strangers or acquaintances ask “what’s your sign” and when they hear the answer, give a knowing “ahhhhh” with a look that says “no wonder you’re such a bitch!!!” (this happens a lot on The Real Housewives). Sure, yes, maybe astrology has its points… But Joel and I are both, technically, Sagittarius and we don’t exactly fit under that umbrella together. Let’s dig deeper…

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…. but first….

I did this blog photoshoot and it, very obviously, has nothing to do with what I’m talking about, it’s just part of my blogging brand: talking about stuff with pictures of me, in case you forgot how stylish and adorable I am (you did?! how could you?!). Plus, if you’re anything like me, you need visual aids to push you through and break up all the talking. I digress…

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My new favorite question to ask: What’s your Myers Briggs test score?

I first took the MB back in Psychology 101 and I remember being disappointed at the results because I got an E instead of an I, meaning I was more extroverted than introverted. I’M NOT AN EXTROVERT, I’M SHY AS HELL!!!! Having taken the same test 4 years later and yielding the exact same results, I’ve happily accepted my fate as an ENFP-T, it makes a lot of sense and it explains the busy body questions I love asking strangers and my interest in other people’s personality types. This is my personality profile, if you care to read more.

Last week, after I took the test again, I asked some other people to take it too and spent most of Wednesday night reading their results and saying to myself “yep! this makes perfect sense!” I especially loved reading about my husband’s personality type, because it’s just so Joel, in a nutshell.

Do yourself a favor and take the personality test that I linked above (IT’S FREE!). I’m genuinely interested in reading into these and would love to know what you get! Where my other Campaigners at?!

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Dress/ Free People, Purse/Kate Spade, Sunglasses/ZeroUV, Weird posture & expression/ C/O my ENFP personality type