The Most Beautiful Ring in the World

About three years ago, Kevin and I ventured into Nordstroms to change a watch battery. Even though we had purchased the watch there, Nordstoms does not physically change batteries in their stores so they referred us to a reputable jeweler across the way. Little did we know at the time, Charles Koll would take amazing care of us above and beyond that watch.

As we waited for our battery to be changed at Charles Koll, we were greeted by a friendly staff member with a serving tray. May I offer you a beverage? Being a small mall jewelry store, Kevin and I were taken aback by the question. But then again who are we kidding… we never turn down an adult beverage. What ya got?! Charles Koll offered us wine, beer, whiskey, champagne–Essentially a full bar!

Four craft brews later and feeling obligated to at least pretend as though we were doing more than waiting for a battery change, we found ourselves gazing at Steven Kretchmer tension rings. Kevin was immediately obsessed with the “structural engineering” of the designs and I, well, was just excited to see him excited to look at rings.

Watch battery fixed, I knew that someday Kevin would be back… if not for the architectural craftsmanship, at a minimum for the beer he knew they’d serve him. After all, he is a man.

Flash forward three years and 24 hours before our Whistler trip (where he was planning to propose on our five year anniversary) Kevin goes straight to Charles Koll to purchase the ring he had decided on three years earlier. I want that one. I can just picture him pointing to the case. To his surprise, and to the delight of this story, purchasing a custom ring doesn’t really work that way. He was going to need at least two months and a custom fitting to propose with the ring of our dreams. But you don’t understand, I’m proposing this weekend! That poor Charles Koll employee, bless Claire’s heart. She gave my inexperienced puppy dog a tension loaner (and a few beers) so he’d at a minimum have something to propose with. After all, he is a man.

Our Whistler proposal was one of the most magical moments in my life and even though the ring he proposed with wasn’t actually my ring, I love that we have his silly story to share. Customizing the ring together like we did was also a bonding experience we would have never shared together had he of been more organized and planned. But I know my soon to be hubs isn’t organized and doesn’t plan. That is what makes our engagement story so perfectly us.

Love story aside, I cannot say enough about the quality and care we received from the Charles Koll team and the beauty of our customized Steven Kretchmer. Charles Koll worked with us to make our ring everything we had ever imagined, from the perfect size, materials, flawless stone and even little personalized touches like adding Kevin’s birthstone to the backside of our ring. They did everything right and helped make our engagement perfect. We’ll never cease being brand advocates of these amazing companies… and stopping by for the occasion beer and ring cleaning.


The Proposal Ring:


The Finished Product and My Obsession:

Kevin’s Birthstone:


Loving an Entrepreneur

Loving an Entrepreneur

It’s no secret that I’ve always had a thing for entrepreneurs…entrepreneurs at least 6’2 with dashing good looks and broad shoulders. But with those broad shoulders comes a lot of extra weight that can weigh down on a girl if not completely understanding and open to what she’s about to get herself into.

An entrepreneur is a whole different breed of man and are not for the faint of heart. More than likely, you fell in love with your entrepreneur for his passion, ambition and overall need to succeed. Unfortunately, it’s that same ambition that will start to test your relationship and get your entrepreneur into trouble.

So, for all you doe-eyed loveys out there considering diving head first into the mystical abyss of entrepreneur love and supporter-dom, here are a few tips I’ve learned, hard knocks in hand and home, along the way as to how to love an entrepreneur.

He’s Going to Be Gone… ALOT.

If you’re someone that considers themselves a dependent (I realize everyone fancies themselves an independent woman but let’s be real here) and doesn’t like being alone, you’re going to find out real quick that loving an entrepreneur is going to be much more difficult than you had originally planned. Personally, I am completely fine entertaining myself (being alone is the only time I don’t feel guilty stuffing my face with brownie batter and flipping on the latest Nicolas Sparks flick) but if you’re an individual that needs a companion to lick the batter spoon right alongside you at every breaking moment, make sure you have a good support group, friends or family, that you’ll be able to rely on when your love is away. Furry friends will help with this issue as well.

Get Used to the Mess.

My friends and family will tell you that I’m a nut when it comes to my home. Design. Décor. Cleanliness. You name it. As much as those items mean to me, they take a back seat when you date an entrepreneur—especially when you share an 1100sq ft beach condo with one. Entrepreneurs go through many stages, product development sometimes being one of them, and their amazing creativity will undoubtedly make a mess of your home from time-to-time. There have even been days (strings of days) when I have been strictly informed not to clean our home. I smile, nod and proceed to schedule a Doctors appointment knowing I’m undoubtedly forming an ulcer. Ulcer or no ulcer, it’s his house too…and that will become very apparently when his stuff is EVERYWHERE.

Buy Baskets.

Why buy baskets, you ask? See item 2. You’ve heard of the crazy bag lady? I am the crazy basket lady. The entrepreneur’s “stuff” will soon find its way into every nook and cranny in your home. At one point, I could have done the backstroke in our bedroom through the pool of prototypes on the floor. So unless your honey is peddling vases or Kate Spade picture frames, hide the “stuff” in a basket. Who needs marriage counseling when you have baskets?

It’s Not Junk.

Dear God don’t throw anything away without his approval. What is one woman’s junk (pretty much everything he brings into the house) is an entrepreneur’s treasure. Entrepreneur really means Hoarder in Latin. So whether it be a screw, a post-it with something scribbled on it, a magazine from six years ago or a used band-aid, DO NOT toss it without his approval. Tip: Put (hide) what you consider toss items in a basket and once a week, go through the items together, coaxing him to get rid of any unneeded “stuff.”

Save His Accomplishments and Share Them with Friends and Family.

He will have accomplishments in his career, whether it be a local newspaper feature or a small business award, and if he’s like most men, he’ll never keep the proof let alone share it with the one person in his life that wants him to succeed even more than you do—his mother. So keep these awards and recognitions for him (and his mom) because one day he’s going to really appreciate that you have.

Feed Your Entrepreneur.

He will get busy. He will forget to eat. He too needs to feel loved even when it’s HE who is away from you all of the time. Yes, I love to cook so this one is a little easier for me, but I always make sure my baby is fed, whether it be a late dinner or pre-packed leftovers for lunch the next day. I, myself, travel quite a bit for work so will cook ahead, package him meals for the week accompanied with individual post-it notes as to which day and time he should be eating which pre-packed meal….Too far?

Know When it’s Time to Leave or Time to Stay.

Like I said, loving an entrepreneur is not easy, but your happiness and goals need to be just as important and successful as his business.

Do Not Try to Change Him.

Entrepreneurs do not just wake up one day and decide it is their lively hood. It is in their blood and there is no changing who they are. If a couple deals have gone south, leashing him up to a dog house with only a few feet of rope is not going to help your cause. He’s not going to become an accountant or architect because you think he needs a normal desk job like your friends’ husbands. If you’re picking fights with him because of who he is, take a step back and consider the real root of the problem and what the resolution is. If the fix comes down to changing him, it isn’t him that needs to change.

Tread Lightly When it Comes to Major Business Decisions

As the lead supporter in his life, you are entitled to an opinion but at the end of the day, it is a business that HE owns and it is his decision to make. This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome and one of the most critical to remember. This is the make-or-break tip of the day. Yes, it is hard to watch the love of your life put themselves in a tough position, partner with a bad person, or shell out money to something hap-hazard, but from experience, what is even harder, is mending the divide you start to create between the two of you when you do not side with his decisions. There is a fine line between being a cautious supporter and being a nay-sayer. It is in our blood to protect the ones we love, but like a mother who lets their toddler fall when learning to walk so they try, try, try again, we too need to let our entrepreneurs fall and learn on their own. If owning your own business was easy, everyone would do it. It’s battling the risk who makes them who they are and because they are capable of overcoming it on their own against all odds…that is why we fall and stay in love with them.

Make time to stay in love.

You’re both busy. You’re both leading crazy lives. There are times he’ll be too busy to comment on your new hair style or how spic and span the floors look after you’ve spent your entire Saturday afternoon cleaning them. Get out of the house. Go dancing. Go get dinner at that place you’ve always wanted to go. Also, remember that he thinks and makes hard decisions all day long. Spending time together is one executive decision he won’t mind you making. Odds are he’s going to appreciate the break and appreciate even more that you made the decision to do so for him.  P.S. Kevin, I just booked Cabo for us and put it on your credit card. Xoxo

Have you dated an entrepreneur? What kept you together? What pulled you apart?

These Are a Few of My FAVORITE Things!

Favorite Things

Now that I’ve been running my Favorite Things Sweepstakes for a few weeks now (two plaid blanket scarves left to win by the way!) I figured it was about time to post some of my own holiday favorites. Check out the list below for items I love and the merchants who create them!

Have favorites of your own? I love learning about new goods and vendors and would love to hear your shout outs!

Tree Skirt
This is my second Christmas with Kevin and things are getting serious—joint Christmas tree serious. We’ve already started collecting ornaments (OK, we have one ornament we picked up in Tahoe last ski season) but the goal remains the same—to continually add to the adorableness of our Christmas tree each year. Now that we have the tree and the Tahoe ornament, we were in need of a tree skirt. Kevin would have been fine with a Trader Joe’s Paper bag stuffed under the greenery, but I wanted something one-of-a-kind that would melt my heart every time our tree lit up. Found It! Etsy’s  SPCrafty has the most darling tree skirts I have ever seen, or could ever want or imagine, and the quality, OH the quality! It’s just amazing. If you’re looking for something special as well, not just for the tree but for under it, check out Etsy and SPCrafty—her products will make your tree shine just a little brighter this Christmas!

New Belgium Winter Brews
There is nothing I like better than a great beer, and living in San Diego, the craft beer city of America (I bet you didn’t know that did you?!) I have the best brews right at my taste buds. But when we’re not out sipping our way across the south bay and just want to bring a pack home, we like a little variety in our hops. A great variety pack we recommend, New Belgium Folly Seasonal brews. Are there fancier, more exciting beverages out there, yes, but if you’re looking for something inexpensive to sip while you’re unwinding by the fire, you can’t go wrong with New Belgium.

When Kevin asked me the other night why I was spending so much on greeting cards this year, I just stared at him blankly. Me? Use anyone but Minted? Silly boy, Target photos are for kids! I am smitten with Minted and I’ll scream it from a mountain top! Everything from their chic designs,  easy-to-use website, the fact that I’m supporting growing independent designers. LOVE.  It’s just a great company!

Sam Edelman
Boots. Boots. Boots. Every chance I get to wear anything but heels I jump all over it. I’ve already showed you my cognac riding pair by Sam Edelman from this fall, but my new Louies are just as cute to boot. Sorry, couldn’t resist! Great quality and comfort. Highly recommend!

Soft Pillow Curls
I have naturally wavy hair which has both its ups and downs. It’s wonderful when I want to rock the beach bum look and not do a thing to my hair, and horrible when they only look I’m going for is the sleek, professional one. Since the majority of my week is spent in the office, alas, no beach bum girl. The almost daily blow dryer takes a toll on my locks, especially in the chill of the cold winter air. I’ve tried many products over the past few years, trying to find a way to control my waves and be able to sport them in the office. Enter Soft Pillow Curls. A dab of this after each shower softens my hair and controls the unwanted frizz, making my hair conference room suitable. It’s not sticky, greasy or expensive. It gives you exactly what it’s named.

Stella & Dot
Aside from my little gold stand necklace that I wear almost daily, I’m not a fancy, expensive jewelry kind-a-girl. If you want to buy me high-end designer jewelry, that’s wonderful, but you better darn well make sure it’s insured! Fashion jewelry on the other-hand, LOVE the stuff. It makes for a fun outfit and if something does happen to it, well, it’s not the end of the world and your significant other won’t beat you to death over it. Stella and Dot is my new favorite trendy jeweler. They have the most fun designs that won’t break your budget. Be sure to peruse their statement necklaces for a punch of color this holiday season.

Keep it Simple, Sweetheart! My Fall Want List / Must Haves

Fall Must Haves

The older I get, the more simplistic my closet, my fridge, my home and overall life seem to become (I say this as I knock on a redwood tree trunk!) If I don’t wear something, I toss it to Goodwill. I’ve done away with preservatives and pre-mades—mostly.  And life drama? What life drama? I spent way too much time in my twenties caring about silly things (and people) that didn’t matter and not enough time on the things and people that did. This Fall, I’m keeping my wish list simple—just the way I like my life!

The J.Crew Herringbone Vest is a staple. Period. If you Pinterest at all, you know what I’m talking about. It’s everywhere and everywhere for a reason—it’s adorable. It truly is the must-have for this fall. As savvy a shopper as I am, I can’t find anything that compares to this sleek little number. It’s thee one and only. I’m not exactly keen on spending $108 for a puffer vest, but I (and what I recommend) is keeping your eyes peeled for a J.Crew Factory discount. It’s bound to happen and therefore this cute little number is bound to be in my closet before the temperature dips.

The Infamous Zara Tartan Scarf. This too is a fan favorite, but is from last year’s line. This is truly unfortunate because I believe this style is more coveted this year than last. So if you’re having trouble finding an old Zara original, buy this amazing find on Etsy. It’s the same pattern and material we’re all craving and it’s a third of the price.

Anthropologie Measuring Spoons. How cute are these?! I don’t need them, but they are just too cute not to add to my cupboards. Food is beautiful and cooking should be too!

Wide Brim Felt Hat. I’m a hat girl, always will be. This is the seasons “It” hat, and ‘It” will be mine.

Fall Wreath. I’m not sure which wreath I want, but I do know I want one. My empty entryway doors just feel naked without it. Do I buy one? Do I make one? Which one? Do you have one you recommend? The possibilities are beautiful and endless!

Sorel Boots. Even though I live in San Diego, that doesn’t mean I live in flip flops and a bikini—mostly. Kevin and I thoroughly enjoy trekking up north, hiking all that California has to offer and camping when we have the time. Sorels are like the grown-up version of Uggs. Adorable, warm and you can get away with wearing them about anywhere with anything. And no, I will not be wearing my new Sorels with a jean mini skirt—that was SO Alpha Delta Pi circa 2005.

I Will Survive planter. Anything that helps save my herbs is a step in the right direction. I’ve killed more basil plants than the cast of the Walking Dead has killed Zombies. My plants need positive affirmations. I WILL GROW. I WILL SURVIVE. I MUST HAVE THIS PLANTER.

I know there are only a few items here, but like I said, simple sweetheart. I’m easy to please these days!

J. Crew Herringbone Puffer Vest
Wool Plaid Tartan Scarf
Anthropologie Spoons
Wide Brim Hat
Fall Wreaths
Sorel Boots
I Will Survive! Planter

My Darn Cute House Divided Garden Flag

House Divided Sign

Even though Kevin and I have become more-so house united VS. house divided (I made him promise to keep cheering for my Hawkeyes if something were to ever happen to me) I have still always loved the idea of a house divided something or other. What a cute way to showcase your home’s favorite teams without fighting with your partner for lawn space—not that I would have to fight very hard, our lawn would look horrible in Power Cat Purple.

I’ve been keeping my eyes out for the perfect house divided yard sign for some time now but never found “the one” until now. This little number was a random Etsy find (I love love LOVE Etsy)and may I say it certainly was a find. I couldn’t be happier with my little burlap banner from Sewgoddesscreations. She did quality work and it looks wonderful in our front yard (even with the bit of purple I’m allowing.) So if you’re looking for a house divided something, you won’t be disappointed with this little number—I highly recommend it… especially if it’s stitched in black and gold. Go Hawks!

Love it? Want your own house divided sign? Check out Sewgoddesscreations She’s wonderful!

Congrats Mr. & Mrs. Dziuk!

Married Couple

 One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that a dear friend has found the one, and not just the one she loves, but one that you love because you understand how much the two of them are truly meant to be together. That’s exactly what Melissa has with Mitch—and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them!

Their wedding was gorgeous, with a Granby, Colorado backdrop, and Melissa made everything so perfect, beautiful and low maintenance—I’ve been to, been in and shot my fair share of weddings, and that right there is a biggie!

So congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Dziuk on their recent nuptials and a huge thank you for making me a part of their special day. Love you both!

Photos by Amanda Mac Photography

Strong Enough.

Cher D2K Tour

Some of the best memories I have are those spent with my mom in the late 80’s, dancing around the living room of our old farm house on that hideous shag carpet. She’d flip her permed hair with bangs and I’d rock my stirrup pants. I remember when dad first brought home a five compact disk player–that’s right, FIVE! It was the size of a deep freeze and cost them a month’s mortgage. Even though I’m far past stretch pants and my music now plays from a magical device that fits in my pocket, I still hold tight to the music of my childhood–The music who made me who I am today.

For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to do something over the top for my mom–something she’d (we’d) be able to hold on to forever. I surprised her with a plane ticket home and two floor seats to an artist whose music was a sort of metaphorical glue for us all of these years. Cher has been more than just a singer to me, more than just fancy costumes, glitter and big hair–She was one of the many ways my mom was able to subliminally instill heart and fight into her daughter.

Cher D2K 2014Cher’s music has acted as a drive for me, an inspiring push to succeed. She reminds us that, no matter how tough the situation, you won’t break. I’m not a person to crumble, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that you won’t. Cher has helped my mom be that reminder since I was a little girl.

Were there Indian headdresses, acrobatics, a three-story-tall Trojan horse and 56 costume changes, Yes, and damn did she look fabulous. But for me, this concert was so much more than wigs and glitter. I was able to sing along to the songs that helped shape me into the Independent person I wanted to be, alongside the person who made me the independent being that I am.

This was a night I’ll never forget, and I have two amazing women in my life to thank for that.

Who Wants a Pink Mustache Ride?!

Lyft Ride Service

Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that there has been a local trend in automobile hood ornaments. Cars all over Southern Cal have adorned themselves in pink, fluffy and ridiculously adorable pink mustaches. Being drawn to all things pink and fluffy, I was immediately intrigued. Was it a Movember-meets-Breast-Cancer-awareness stache? Did Hot Topic have a sale on overstocked novelty whiskers? Just what were these pink mustachios?

Every now and again comes a product or service that I’ll feel the need to shout from the mountain tops—Lyft is that service. The new trend in public transportation are side-car services—think of them as freelance taxi cabs. Instead of hailing a cabi that smells like curry and speaks as much English as a San Diego radio station, you’re essentially given a flipbook of pre-background checked Hipster type drivers which allows you to “get to know” your transporter (and what you’re being transported in) before they even pick you up. If you don’t like the look, rating, car type or maybe even the name of the driver you’re given, simply flip to a new one! The entire service, from requesting a cab to payment, is handled via one of the friendliest apps you can download—so simple even an Amanda can use it. Lyft is easy-to-use, stylish (I mean, they wear pink mustaches, people!) and best of all, it’s cheap! On average, I save about 25% using Lyft when compared to that of a normal taxi cab. Because Lyft is a contract/freelance service, you’re not charged the embedded cost of all the intricacies it takes to run a major cab conglomerate—ultimately putting that money back in your pocket.

I am sure there are people out there that will continue to use regular cabs, either because they prefer it, because Lyft type services are not offered in their area or, unlike myself, simply prefer their transportation shaven. But one thing is for sure, I am quite happy with the entire experience that Lyft offers. Everything from their App, the drivers, the rating service, to the water bottles they give you during your ride has been top-notch. So if you’re looking for something new or a way to save a few more pennies this year, try Lyft. I promise this is one mustache ride you won’t regret tomorrow morning.

Stinkfist and Pearls

ToolDon’t get me wrong, I sometimes listen to what most consider crap music (You can hear me blaring “Party in the USA” from my car a mile away) but I must admit, unlike most chicas that share similar traits to myself (Self-proclaimed Kelly Ripas) I, all-in-all, have fantastic taste in music.

Kevin bought me the sweetest Valentine’s Day present of all time–Not a necklace that the jewelry store recommend that he buy, lame red roses or chocolates conveniently displayed near the Target checkout. This year, I was gifted tickets to a concert that I have been dying to attend since I was 16. Happy Valentine’s Day, Tool tickets.

I had the opportunity to see Perfect Circle in Cedar Rapids about ten years ago, and even though they are one of my favorite bands, there is just something special about Tool.

So last weekend, I put away the shift dresses and pearls, grabbed some holy black jeans and a couple 40s and we put my Valentine’s day present to use. Maynard, in Mohawk, did not disappoint. If ever there was a Lyrical God, it is Maynard James Keenan. Schism took me back to a mindset I hadn’t experienced in years–Raw, dark and as powerful as I had hoped—a mental hideaway for misjudged youth. I’d like to see Taylor Swift get a fan’s neck hairs to stand on end like mine were last Sunday.

If you don’t listen to Tool or APC, change your mind. Listen here, to my favorite song of all time, Three Libras:

Another good one, Sober: