Happy Birthday, Jessica Jones | 4

Here we are in 2011, on one of our favorite days of the year… which comes again this Friday! You always like to take care of me, especially when it comes to things like makeup, or pacing myself during a progressive dinner, or not performing a citizen’s arrest on the lady who almost ruined your son’s birthday party (and then stole my phone). You look out for me. You teach me things.

You’re tricky, though.

You’re my voice of reason and my teacher, but also my biggest instigator. It’s confusing and always out of control: like when you splashed water on me in the Matador bathrooms, but then tried to tell everyone I had a romper malfunction. Or when you told me Tumblr was the best blogging platform, then promptly switched to WordPress (same thing happened when I finally got a Blackberry… you peaced out to Team iPhone and I was over hanging out on BBM all by myself). Or, when you revealed to me that South America was actually a continent for the first time, and I swore you to secrecy, but then you blogged the whole freaking conversation (an alias of Schmorianne helps NO ONE). Or when you told me it would be funny to scare Paul last year by reenacting the whole “Danger!!” scene from Friends, but then your foot ended up getting cut open by a glass I broke and somehow it all became my fault for being “too committed” to the moment.

You’re actually kinda mean.

It’s ok, though. I got even during the whole “AN EGG IS JUST A BABY CHICKEN” revelation.

Thank you for the years of laughs, my friend… and you’re welcome for many of those moments being at my expense.

Happy Birthday, Jessica Jones | 3

Friends who diet together… die together.

I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes.

Jess and I have been on our fair share of diets together. We’ve also started our fair share of blogs about said diets, but that’s a whole new post for a whole new day. Seriously, we’ve done it all. Adtkins, Weight Watchers (stupid celeb endorsements – we believe anything we see in US Weekly), HCG, fasting, juicing, hot yoga. I dealt with her candy withdrawals like a BOSS, and she dealt with my carb-cravings with as much (tough) love as she could muster. In this photo from 2010, we’re at our favorite Seattle late-night spot – Taphouse Grill – for a friend’s birthday. And the only thing we were allowed to have that late at night? Tea.

Not the pizookie. Not the Caprese pasta. Not the spicy tuna roll I DIE FOR… nope. Just green tea. I don’t even think we were allowed any sweetener. Not sure what kind of demon diet this was, but Jess… your cheekbones here are on point (as is my silver eyeshadow). Thanks for being there for me for my dieting fails… and I’m sorry for anything I said to you out of hunger.

Happy Birthday Jessica Jones | 2

2009 will always be “the year of Corianne and Paul”, but that wouldn’t have been possible without one Jessica Jones.
No, seriously. You think I’m just being poignant in that statement, but no… I’m actually being quite literal. 
She had been dropping hints all evening, almost annoyingly so:
“Paul, Corianne – you two just need to get together. It would be way easier on Jen and I, we can’t welcome a new girl or a new guy into this circle.”

“Corianne – Paul will share his dessert with you! Paul, why don’t you feed her a little bite?”

“Paul, Corianne looks scared. Hold her hand.”
So, later that night when Paul and I quietly started talking about “what if” we got together, it just felt right to have her pretending to ignore us on the couch beside us.
(Just kidding. It still feels a bit creepy and like something we maybe should have done over a candlelight dinner, but this is us. This is the same girl that, so far, had seen me through some very personal and emotional times in my life: poor fashion, bad haircuts, my snobby attitude, and diet-induced anger, just to name a few. I felt like nothing is ever off limits).

Happy Birthday, Jessica Jones | 1

Instead of the normal birthday collage, I am going to be featuring my best friend @jessicanjones, the birthday girl, throughout the day. We’re getting too old to be able to remember all of our fun memories without a little bit of work, 

so I’m going to start from the beginning and see how I can do.

This photo is from 2008, the year we “re-met”. We bonded over the campfire at Dave Matthews Band, which we attended together because of mutual friends at church. When she told me she had an affinity for all the pieces of the Pub Mix I hated (I mean, how perfect is that), and she brought all the magazines I hadn’t, I clung onto her like white on rice (hehe).

We got to talking, and discovered that Jess and I actually met YEARS before that – I was the front desk administrative assistant at a real estate office, and she was the personal assistant for one of the agents. I was a crabby, arrogant, bleached blonde with a love for Britney Spears and huge chip on my shoulder between the hours of 8-5pm; I couldn’t fathom how no one understood how to do anything themselves in an office setting – are people really that technologically challenged? I mean, you enter your code, your press how many copies you want, you stand on your head for 13 seconds, you clear our your code, and YOU PRESS ‘COPY’!

So, imagine my excitement when a super cute, trendy girl walked in. FINALLY. Someone I didn’t have to hand-hold through the whole tech process. She was so smart and capable, I just knew she was going to make my life easier. I mean, her Macy’s blazer was screaming “business profesh”.

Imagine my disdain when she called me an hour later at the front desk to ask me how to check her voicemail.

She didn’t even know which line was hers yet (I still remember she was extension 2252), but if she would have thought to pick up the phone on her desk and look at the screen, it displays the extension after a 10 second pause and pressing the * button three times in rapid succession, but whatever… apparently that was too hard to figure out herself. I mean, aren’t Asians supposed to be extra smart? Well. She “claims” I never gave her the instructions I said I would, but I still think she’s lying. So, she needed my assistance… and that – in addition to re-filling the coffee pot – is what I was paid to do. I stomped back there and showed her, and she didn’t say much – but she nodded her understanding. I glared at her one final time and left.

Later Jessica told me she had nicknamed me the mean, squeaky-voiced blonde. We never talked again, although we worked about 10 feet apart for quite some time. I’m pretty sure she avoided me between the years of 2004-2008.

Our friendship is proof that God can restore ALL THINGS.

(Sorry Davey, this isn’t about you.)

A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action

Four years of marriage down, and I think I’m finally coming to the understanding that marriage takes work. The cloud of honeymoon fog has lifted a bit, and the reality of life has set in: anything good in life takes work. Anything. It takes work to raise our kids (uh, it takes a LOT of work to bring them into the world). It takes work to climb the ranks in our careers and earn the respect we want. It takes work to keep our bodies healthy and strong. So, why would I not expect marriage to be just as demanding of our time and energy?

The first year, we didn’t work very hard. We skipped rent payments to go to Vegas or buy clothes and things to decorate a place we couldn’t afford, we ate takeout many days of the week, we consulted God casually about our marriage, we stayed up too late and ignored our alarm clocks too often, and I cleaned the house because it was funny that I was grown up enough to actually be a WIFE (not because I knew it’s what I needed to do to keep our house a home).

Now, FOUR YEARS after we said yes to a lifetime together… we’ve experienced so much more life. So many awakenings, so many tears, so many laughs, so many celebrations, and so many frustrations. It’s sobering and beautiful, all at once.

I’m grateful that you chose me, Paul. I am always thankful for your transparency, your genuine desire to honor and love me above all things, and the hard work you put in in order to keep us strong. The way you interact with our son, the moments you force me to sit down and talk it out, the mornings you walk in with a coffee for me, the hugs for no reason, the work you’re doing to build our home, the fact that you purposefully seek out accountability and friendships that help you to grow and improve as a man and husband, the way you worship Him and show others how to do the same: all of those actions are how I know you love me, and they inspire me to do better at showing you that I love you right back. With actions, not words.

They’re inspiring me to put down my phone and pick up a book. They’re inspiring me to make sure I have done my hair and makeup before you get home, even on days where Porter demands the world of me and I feel like I have nothing left to give (I’m still getting better at this, haha). They’re inspiring me to be honest and talk things out, rather than avoiding confrontation. They’re inspiring me to be the one to walk over and hug YOU for no reason. They’re inspiring me to pursue a healthy lifestyle, so I have lots of life left in our years. Your actions consistently inspire me to seek out a better and deeper relationship with God – even out of frustration 😉 – and that alone is worth its weight in gold.

I love you babe. Happy anniversary! Every year with you truly gets better and better. I love the complexity and intensity of our relationship, because it shows me how much we’ve grown and how deeply connected we truly are.

Quick Dinner: Brown Sugar Spiced Salmon

This brown sugar spiced salmon was so delicious and will become a staple in our weekly/monthly. Such a great way to get the family to eat fish: thanks to Katie Lee for yet another simple & amazing dinner inspiration.

Just mix a 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, a tablespoon of chili powder, sea salt and pepper together in a bowl. Pat the rub generously into each filet and bake in the oven on 400° for 10-15 minutes.  The sugars caramelize and whenever that happens, it’s like a party on my plate.

So, so good- Porter loved the “chicky” too 😉

Shades of White

I’m not the best decision maker. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I might be the worst.
The worst, as in, one of my husband’s least favorite things to do in the whole world is ask me what I want to do for dinner. It sparks a full-on mind-numbing mental meltdown on most days (for both of us).  

“I mean… do I want sushi? Spicy tuna kinda sounds good. Do YOU want sushi? I mean, I guess I should have salad. But you know what sounds REALLY good, though? Mac and cheese… wait. We had mac and cheese yesterday for lunch and I feel like I wouldn’t be happy if I had it again. Steak? Eh, no, I don’t want to spend $60 on dinner. Maybe we should just have cereal…”

I don’t mean to. Truly, I don’t. But, I’m reading a book right now called “The Best Yes” and I’ve come to realize that my difficulty doesn’t come from not knowing what I want. It’s from my fear of being wrong.
Paint is (somewhat) permanent. Once we paint our new house (!!!), we can’t go back. Well, some people could. We can’t… we’re getting an amazing deal from a family contact that enjoys working with us on our home (he’s the nicest guy!), but I’m sure he won’t be thrilled if we call him back in two weeks and tell him that “Swiss Coffee” is actually too yellow, and I think that “Cascade White” might look better.
I would kill me, too.
So, Paul brought home these swatches yesterday, and laid them out for me. I started sweating. As if it wasn’t scary enough, he told me he’s already decided on his “top two”, and he wanted to see if we were on the same page.
Um, ok. So now not only does my house color depend on my decision, but now my decision is going to decide whether or not my husband and I were on the same wavelength in our wants and desires?
Too much.
But. I just bit the bullet, and pulled out the two that I felt I liked without any further analysis. One of them was his favorite. *FIST PUMP* One decision down…
Now I just need to figure out dinner.

My Iron

You know those friends that just make life easier? That would be these guys.

As I get older grow up, I become continuously more grateful for the relationships that just work. Sure, relationships take work, but I’m a firm believer that the best relationships are also glaringly natural. Personalities compliment, weaknesses are compensated for, and there’s a whole lot of grace and assuming the best. If I am upset, I tell them. If they are upset, they tell me. We’re so different, but we appreciate the quirks and traits that each one of us brings to the table.
Jessica is so easy going. I used to feel like she just didn’t care sometimes, but I’ve come to realize that she has experienced a lot in her life and she’s just decided to spend her energy on what is truly important. She is refreshing; the epitome of “ain’t nobody got time for that”. She does what she wants, she rolls with the punches. She doesn’t care who rides in what car (that’s me that cares about weird things like that), or if we miss our dinner reservations and have to move locations (cue hives, Jen). If she doesn’t get a seat with the best view of the water fountains whilst on vacation (hehehe), she’s over it in like three seconds. If she accidentally spends part of the mortgage payment on Bath & Body Works candles, it’s whatever (ok, she’s gotten a bit better at this). She has three kids, a husband, is a business owner and boss lady at her normal 9-5 and just AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT (that = pretty much anything that is dramatic or exhausting without purpose or goal). I don’t think you could offend her if you tried (trust me, I’ve tried. When I pointed out her poor driving skills, her response was a shrug and a “but did you die?” So. There’s that.) 
I don’t want to make her appear like she just doesn’t care about anything. She’s also the one that dropped EVERYTHING while we were on vacation in Portland over Labor Day to make sure her kids had everything they needed for their first day back to school this week. She temporarily hated me when I teased her for contemplating going vegan. She is a fiercely loyal wife and friend: if someone hurts me, she holds the grudge for me (even if it’s over the silliest thing) until I tell her its ok to move on. If I have an idea, she humors me because it’s clearly important in my head (even if she could care less). She’s confident and comfortable in her skin and makes friends everywhere she goes (one time, she made friends with a girl at the Applebees in Idaho, because the girl was maybe a little drunk and told Jessica they could be sisters because they both were part Korean. They might even still be Facebook friends? Anyway… yeah, Jess is just that girl).
Jen is pretty much the total opposite in every way. She cares about everything, big and small: about plans, about planning, about making the people she loves happy, about the details. She wants us to be on time for dinner reservations, and if we have to move locations, she is quick to organize a Plan B. She’s not one to wing it. She is a hostess, a caretaker, a leader, a mother, and someone that I would seriously hand over the keys to my life and just say: ORGANIZE ME, PLEASE.
That being said, I don’t want her to appear rigid or boring. Jen brings life to whatever she touches. And she would seriously do anything for me, anytime I needed her, no questions asked. She is selfless and always all in. Her love language is quality time, and she isn’t shy about letting me know this. She is also isn’t shy if she disagrees with me, which I love (maybe not at the time, but in hindsight). If she feels distant from Jess and I, she takes the initiative and make plans. She doesn’t wait for us to realize we’re slacking… she tells us. I absolutely love this about her (so much so that it’s making me a little teary to write it out). She knows what she wants, she knows what she needs, and she makes it happen.
Do you know how much I appreciate having these two total opposites in my life? I feel like I can be a perfect mixture of them both- but I probably err on the side of being a hot mess and desperately needing them both to keep me walking a straight line. I’m the codependent people pleaser, so my colors can change (which I don’t like). I love that they are who they are, and they inspire me to pick a lane and stay in it.
Fight for the relationships that take some work, because God wants you to push yourself beyond where you’re comfortable, but revel in the relationships that don’t take much from you and that allow you to just be.
I’m grateful for many relationships like this in my life, but I felt like writing a special blog dedicated to these two in particular, because they’ve been there for me through some of the most intense, emotional, ridiculous and amazing parts of my life, and they’ve never faltered in who they are. No matter how crazy I get 😉 And THAT’s inspiring.

The Best Yes

Last night, we started our “book club”.

Jen, Jess, Savi and I are reading The Best Yes together. We are only a few chapters in, but already I can tell that this book is going to help me (us) immensely. I am a  “yes” girl. I have the “disease to please”. So thankful for Lysa TerKeurst for writing this book, because not only does it speak to me, but I truly believe it speaks to a majority of women out there.

We met at our favorite local coffee shop, got amazing coffee and tea, and started talking. We closed the place down, which resulted in some leftover pastries from the case, too. SCORE.

It was only two hours, but it seriously felt like we’d just invested a full day into ourselves and our friendship. I left feeling so refreshed and thankful for the relationships in my life: ones that challenge me and inspire me to do better, each and every day.

I strongly encourage those of you reading to connect with your best gals, pick a book, read it together, and meet up once a week to discuss what you got from it. Don’t check your phone, or talk about what happened with your kiddos that day, or what you thought of last night’s episode of your favorite show. Stay focused, stay purposeful. It pays off in ways you never expected.

Quick Weeknight Dinner (Trust Me, You Want This Recipe On Hand)

Make this next time it’s 5pm and you realized you forgot to plan anything for dinner. (Like, daily for me)

I just made it for lunch because I had everything on hand, and omg… it was so good.

Some healthy substitutions I did:

  • Use coconut aminos or organic tamari instead of soy
  • Use less brown sugar. I did barely 1/4 cup; some versions of this recipe call for up to 1/2 cup… just don’t, it’s too sweet (in my opinion).
  • Use ground turkey instead of beef