Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Better Late Than Never!

The Austin Luskeys spent this past weekend at Fox Creek Ranch, our family's vacation home near Richards, TX. This was Markley's first time at the Ranch and off leash - I think it's safe to say she's a country dog at heart. She loved digging and chasing her doggie-aunt, Tootsie, and going on our morning walks. I mean, who wouldn't want to walk a mile and then be carried by her Mama the remaining three miles. Let's just say I got the best workout of the bunch - carrying an 8.2 pound hot water bottle on a dirt road in Texas ain't easy!

The best part of the weekend, aside from celebrating Jamie's 24th birthday, spending quality time with my grandmothers, brother, aunt, cousin and parents and sleeping in while others watched our baby, was finally getting the CD of our wedding weekend pictures! That's right, folks, the Austin Luskeys have been married for a whopping 32 months and are just now in possession of the professional pictures taken at our rehearsal dinner and wedding. I am so excited to finally make a rehearsal dinner album and print/display pictures from our skinniest days wedding weekend. Until now, the only evidence of our marriage was our Ketubah and a larger-than-life, bridal portrait of yours truly that my parents insisted on delivering during their first visit to Austin.

No, the above picture was not taking over the weekend at the Ranch. It was captured on August 30, 2008 during the cocktail hour of our rehearsal dinner, the evening before we became Mr. and Mrs. Brian Daniel Luskey. I'll be sure to post favorites as I re-live the moments sorting through all 5,000 images.

And to those who are interested, I did keep up my 30 Day Challenge at the Ranch - minus the blogging, forgive me, the Ranch is sans internet. Today is Day #9 and am still as motivated as I was last Monday. This morning, I took Markley on a long walk (even though it was drizzling), had lunch with my cousin, Emily, at an adorable build-your-own salad bar and am now off to run some errands while my sleepy puppy naps away the afternoon. I think the 30 Day Challenge is even working on the monster Markley!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jamie!

My sweet, baby sister is turning 24 years old today. Jamie will make you laugh until you can't breathe, question things you thought you knew and reconsider the incorporation of animal prints into your wardrobe. She is my biggest inspiration and the best reminder that life is what you make of it. Jamie doesn't hear the words no and can't, her life motto is simply "Love my life, I am Queen!"

Happy, Happy Birthday, Jame-O! I love you.

Jamie is never tired. It's amazing.

Classic. Jamie is being super sassy, I'm trying to correct
her and Brian has no idea any of this is happening.

Just a great picture of Jamie and a few of her biggest fans!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Are Y'all Seniors?"

Today was Day #4 of my 30 Day Challenge and I am already seeing the benefits of taking the time to smell the roses. Markley was in one of her moods this morning (you know the kind of mood a gal gets in when she feels like biting and peeing everywhere) which made it easy for me to leave the house on the early side. I had an appointment to look at a house which ended up being a disappointment, but it always helps to see what's out there!

I had lunch with a new, old friend. It's funny, our paths have been eerily similar for most of our lives, but not until recently did we became closer friends. Both of our respective parents met and fell in love at Tulane University and we both followed in their footsteps marrying our college sweethearts only after pursuing an ever-controversial artistic major and studying abroad in Florence, Italy. We have both lived in Chicago and Los Angeles and now call Austin home. So she's a new friend that I've had all along - the best kind! She is starting her own interior design business (an excellent resource as a future new home owner) so we've bonded over the woes of taking a risk and trusting your strengths in a world of predetermined pathways.

After lunch, I picked up my cousin, Mollie, from the airport (yes when I married Brian we combined forces and became related to the entire world so it will be rare/difficult for me to write a blog post without the word cousin) and drove her to my cousin (see, did it again) Sarah's dorm for a fun intro-to-college weekend. As we were riding up the elevator to tour Sarah's room, she ran into a friend of hers to whom she politely introduced us and explained our visit. The friend couldn't have been sweeter when she asked, "Oh fun! Are y'all seniors?"

"No," I said, "But thank you." The 30 Day Challenge is working!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day #2 & #3

Nothin' keeps a mind, body & soul recharge up to speed like a trip to Lake Austin Spa! My cousins Emily, Sarah and I drove the short, 30 minute, scenic route northwest to join my Aunt Polly for a spa treatment and ladies lunch. I couldn't have been more in heaven.

Lake Austin Spa has a special place in my heart for many reasons. First, it is the inspiration and birthplace of our beloved Shabby Chic Spa. It was because of their expansive remodel (and omission of adding more overnight guest rooms) that we no longer hold our annual summer spa weekends at an official spa. We had to shabby chic our event to continue the tradition while - to quote my Grandma - "staying out of the poorhouse." Second, the grounds of the spa are simply breathtaking. From the stepping stone walkways to the floral filled canopies to the lakeside setting, Lake Austin Spa really is an oasis not to be missed. The last time I visited Lake Austin Spa was 2003, shortly before their grand remodel and coincidentally the summer before our first Shabby Chic Spa Weekend. This year will be our 8th Shabby Chic with a grand total of 22 eligible attendees. So I guess, in hindsight, I'm glad they added a multimillion dollar spa and didn't think to add anything else - it opened the door for some intense, female, familial bonding with full fat cookies and high fructose corn syrup daiquiris!

Aside from being with my cousins and aunt in arguably Austin's most beautiful waterfront haven, I was also inspired by the decor and food. The below picture features a sophisticated yet whimsical mobile showcasing delicately beaded dragonflies. This picture doesn't really do it justice, so look for more in about 3-5 years when something very similar is hanging in our future child's nursery.

My lunch was as delicious as it was healthy and a great reminder that good food doesn't have to be smothered in queso and/or deep fried. My sandwich featured smoked chicken, avocado, walnut and arugula pesto and heirloom tomatoes, served on homemade grain-and-nut-filled bread and garnished with fresh lentil salad. Buon appetito!

Yesterday was without a doubt a day filled with fueling the mind, body and soul simultaneously. Today was more about being a mother to Markley which in many ways is equally satisfying. Markley got her second (of four) round of vaccines and slept like a baby the entire afternoon. This gave me some much needed time (without her literally yapping at my heels) to catch up on household duties, make a downright delicious dinner, email/blog and even have extra time to check out our weekly local farmer's market!

And for the record, I did blog yesterday, I just haven't published that story yet - stay tuned, it's a good one. So I'm still good on my challenge. Thanks to all who've checked in and supported me - keep reading and I'll keep writing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day #1

My 30 Day Challenge is off to a great start! So far I've not only met my goals, but I've added a few more!

BREATHE - Today I combined BREATHE and MOVE which won't always be the case. I didn't check my phone or bring music to the gym at our apartment complex. The gym, I am embarrassed to admit, has become somewhat foreign to me these days and although I am quite familiar with proper lifting techniques (any modern day bride can tell you how to look your best in three months flat) I eased into today's workout. A respectable 45 minutes later, I went back to check on my sleeping puppy.

MOVE - After my workout, I took Markley on a mini-walk outside. She really isn't supposed to be outside because she hasn't been fully vaccinated yet and both the Austin Humane Society and her Vet scared the bejesus out of us with all of their parvo horror stories. I was sure to not allow her to eat other dog's excrement - ew, like I would allow that even if she was vaccinated - and she seemed fine with my standards of walking etiquette. She even got to romp around with another little puppy about her size which was so cute and probably a big no-no, but I didn't care. She was having fun and I was thrilled she wasn't teething on me for once.

Also, while I was outside, I started chatting with a guy running a small bootcamp right next to our complex! The people looked like they were having a blast, the group meets Monday through Thursday at 11:00am (perfect for those stay-at-home-pet-parents like yours truly) and it's only $40 for the month! BAM. I'm in.

CONNECT - Today I had the best connection one can ask for - good old fashioned, face to face, woman to woman, real and simple, honest to goodness lunch with a new friend. It's funny how you can meet someone and feel like you've known them forever which is definitely the case with my lunch buddy. We were seated at the same table at a California friend's wedding this past summer and seven months later now live ten minutes away. The world works in mysterious ways and already I am thankful for our friendship. After our first time hanging out with her and her husband, Brian and I said "Don't you feel like we've known them forever?" And ten minutes later we got an email from them saying just that. Some things were just meant to be!

BLOG - Well, as I'm sure you've noticed I did a little Spring cleaning on the blog and picked up a new name while I was at it! I thought it was time since our Santa Monica days now seem like years ago, not weeks. I will always, always be thankful and proud that we were at one point the Santa Monica Luskeys, but you can't move forward if you're looking back.

COOK - One unwritten goal I added post blog post was to cook new and healthy recipes Monday through Thursday for the next four weeks. I have a tendency to get into food ruts, I've mentioned before I can make anything with a pound of ground turkey, but I wanted to push myself a little bit more. Given my love and appreciation for food and my curiosity for what goes into my restaurant meals, it's about time I start remembering some eat-out faves and try to replicate healthier, homemade versions. Tonight's dinner (with the help of my sous chef, Central Market) we had israeli couscous, grilled chicken and greek salad.

The best way to describe the results of Day #1 is: FULL. I feel full and productive and inspired and relaxed. I don't feel like I wasted my day or anxious about not having chosen a career path. I just feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be and taking things at the right speed - one day at a time.

Testing...Testing... 1,2,3!

Just testing out a new signature!

Notice Anything?

In the spirit of my 30 Day Challenge, I thought I'd shake things up a bit and revamp the look of our blog. And by a "bit" I mean change the entire thing! Whaddya think? "Follow" and comment with your thoughts!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

30 Day Challenge

My Grandma has been subscribing me to self help discovery magazines since I was in my early teens. With every Real Simple and Body & Soul article I read, and every episode of Oprah I sob through, one would think I am the most balanced human specimen ever created. Wrong. As I've mentioned before, balance is one of the hardest obstacles I've encountered in my adult life and since I have now been given a magical restart button, I think I'll take it!

When I told my work friends I was moving to Austin, a close co-worker of mine said, "Kim! Now you get a clean pie!" She was referencing this beauty below (or a similar chart) - a life balance pie chart used to identify problem areas visually and encourage growth in said lacking areas resulting in a perfectly balanced life pie. Easy as... well, you know...

Of course, one can rename the sections of the pie to correspond with the aspects of her own life she is attempting to balance. For example, I would rename my segments:
Which leads me to my own 30 Day Challenge. Honestly, it's overwhelming to attempt to work on all eight pie pieces simultaneously, so I had to find a way to decipher the forest from the trees. These eight ingredients make a perfect pie, but they are all just more specific threads that contribute to the holy trinity of overall balance: mind, body and soul. So here is the challenge to myself:

For the next 30 days, I pledge to...
  • BREATHE (mind) - 30 minutes of silence, no computer, no phone, no puppy; just me.
  • MOVE (body) - Workout in a gym, try a yoga class, go on a long walk, etc.
  • CONNECT (soul) - Call or email a friend or family member I haven't talked to in a while.
March 21 will be Day #1 of my challenge and to hold myself accountable, I also plan to blog each day. So I have about 36 hours before I have to move, breathe, connect and write every day for 30 days. Why not just start today? Come on, we all know the best diets start on Mondays.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Random A-Z

Instead of writing about what it's like to now be in our fourth week in Austin, I've decided to write a silly post to get my mind off of the exhaustion that is attempting to simultaneously train a puppy and figure out the rest of my life. I saw this on another blog and thought it'd be fun!

A. Age: 27

B. Bed size: Sleepin' like a baby on a brand new KING mattress!

C. Chore you dislike: Tying/taking out the trash. Just thinking about the smell makes me gag.

D. Dogs: Markley, our 10 week old terror terrier mix rescue pup. So cute when she's sleeping.

E. Essential start to your day: Breakfast. Must eat within minutes of waking up or it ain't pretty.

F. Favorite color: Purple. Just ask my bridesmaids!

G. Gold or silver: White gold. Classy and traditional yet modern and sophisticated.

H. Height: 5'5" (and 3/4")

I. Instruments you play(ed): First chair, Viola, baby! (In 6th grade when it was required for one semester...)

J. Job title: Hmm... Personal Chef to Brian Luskey? Stay-at-Home-Pet-Owner? Soul Searching Aficionado?

K. Kids: None that I know of...

L. Live: Austin, TX (By way of Houston, Ann Arbor, Chicago and Santa Monica)

M. Mom’s name: Karen

N. Nicknames: Kimmy, Kimmers, Kim, Kimbo, Kimblah, Blah, Berly, Precious

O. Overnight hospital stays: None!

P. Pet peeves: Being rushed, waiting on late people, not having someone's undivided attention, rudeness.

Q. Quote from a movie: "Hey, if anyone needs to make a call, I've got a phone." - Romy & Michelle's

R. Righty or lefty: Righty, tighty!

S. Siblings: Older Bro, Younger Sis. Middle Child all the way.

T. Time you wake up: Nowadays around 8:45am.

U. Underwear: Victoria's Secret Cotton Bikini Panties. (Ew. I hate the word Panty.)

V. Vegetables you don’t like: I like all vegetables when they're seasoned and cooked right. Or fried. Or both.

W.What makes you run late: When I try to do my own hair "up do's." And these days, Markley.

X. X-rays you’ve had: Teeth and a few wrist and ankle issues in middle school.

Y. Yummy food you make: I'm a genius at all things ground turkey: chili, tacos, burgers, you name it.

Z. Zoo animal favorites: Rhinoceros. They are dinosaurs. Seriously, look closely next time.

There you have it, 26 random facts about yours truly! What would your answers be?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Markley on American Idol!

Last night was our first night home with Markley and we made our first royal parenting mistake. We let her watch American Idol before bed. This gave Markley dreams of stardom and being the remarkably driven and persistent pup she is, she couldn't wait another minute to prepare for the Idol Season 11 auditions. Knowing it might be a long night with this budding star on our hands, Brian and I checked in at precisely 10:30pm.

Markley decided to write her own song, I mean, please, she's way too original to cover someone else's tired single. She started as all great musicians begin - with doh, re, mi. Her scales started startlingly higher each round - honestly, I'm surprised she could even hear some of those notes. She experimented with vibrato, staccato and the ever popular Christina-Aguilera-growl-singing.

Here was Markley's rehearsal schedule:
  • 11:00pm - (5 minutes) Her Daddy gave her some pointers on how singing from inside the crate results in a purer sound quality.
  • 1:30am - (5 minutes) Her Mommy further encouraged the crate-singing and introduced the thrilling vocal warmup of "shhhh..."
  • 3:00-3:30am - Her longest song-writing session by far. She just couldn't figure out the perfect lyric to rhyme with sleepless...
  • 5:00-5:20am - You know, it's just really hard to have so much talent. You just want to share it with world. All the time. Day and night.
  • 6:50-7:15am - Brian and Markley ate breakfast together and it was at this time when Brian discovered Markley was most inspired by current events.
  • 9:45am - I awoke to the sweet sounds of silence. Worried she had passed out from the pressures of preparation I ventured to the living room only to find her peacefully playing and watching The TODAY Show!
As her Mother, of course I think she's the most talented little singer that ever did sing. As someone who previously worked in casting, I am going to encourage her to pursue math and science. Regardless, she's a happy puppy and is now running in her sleep on my lap. What can I say, the girl's gotta stay in shape if she's going to be the next American Idol.

Markley's morning nap...
Her crate is set up so that she can walk around
her play pen, but not through the entire apartment.

Markley preparing to pounce on her stuffed carrot!

All tuckered out after a morning of fun!
(Leopard robe courtesy of Jamie "Miss Thang" Harberg)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today's the Day!

Baby L's reaction to Markley coming home today!

Okay, Baby L doesn't actually know Markley is coming home today, but don't I have the cutest niece in the entire world?! I mean, look at her layered necklaces on her onesie! Adorable. Baby L and Markley were actually born within days of each other - that's how they have that kindred connection. Love 'em both! Life is good.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

She's comin' home!

Our first family portrait!

Our sweet puppy comes home tomorrow and - don't judge - we're really nervous! Of course we are so excited to play and snuggle with her and teach her tricks and train her to "eliminate" outdoors. But there are so many things we don't yet know about being pet parents, we just don't want to unwittingly put her in harm's way. Wish us luck!

I just can't take how cute she is!!

"...To being able to do this!"

My brother, Michael, is a competitive breed. He is stubborn, a know-it-all and will fight to the death when he believes he is right. He is also the most loyal friend, the best listener, he puts his family first and is extremely patient and loving. Ladies...?!

This past weekend was his first trip to Austin since we've moved back to Texas. Michael is a lover of all things music and seeing how we now live in the "live music capital of the world" we might as well go ahead and start calling our guest room "Michael's Room." His visit was short - less than 24 hours to be exact - but so much fun. On Saturday night eight of us (all cousins, plus one best friend) went to dinner and over queso and 'ritas Michael proposed this toast,

"To Brian and Kimberly moving to Austin
and to us being able to do this!"

After dinner we planned to go see some bands, but got carried away catching up back at our apartment. Before we knew it the bars were closed and the shows were over. We planned a TacoFest breakfast for the following morning. Teams were assigned to various breakfast taco destinations across Austin and all would meet back at our apartment to share their loot! At that point, Michael challenged me to a Bloggers' Duel as we both have blogs and both love to post pictures of the food we eat. Michael did such a great job of capturing the entire weekend on his blog, I've decided to share the link to his blog instead of attempting to repost his pictures and concoct more cleaver captions.

We love that we not only have so many friends already in Austin, but so many cousins. We love that we are close enough for family to visit us, but far enough to create our own life. In short, we love "being able to do this."

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Today, the Santa Monica Luskeys became pet parents! We decided to begin the search for our puppy our first weekend in Austin, but understood that like any love story we would need to exhibit patience while we waited for the one. After visiting Town Lake Animal Shelter, Austin Humane Society and several locations of Austin Pets Alive! we began to understand not only the importance of rescuing a dog (we felt such guilt asking for puppies when there were so many older dogs in need of loving homes) but how quickly puppies are adopted. Every puppy we inquired about already had an "adoption pending" status. We began to wonder if we'd ever get our timing right.

Throughout the week, based on the advice of all the shelters, we perused their websites in hopes to be the first to spot their newest available puppies. Last night, before going to bed, we decided to check the websites one more time and there she was. "Caramel" and her brothers were ready to be adopted from the Austin Humane Society. I immediately emailed requesting to start the adoption process of "Caramel" as she was so adorable and the only girl of the litter. Saturday morning, we awoke to an email saying we were the first hold on "Caramel" and she was ours if we wanted her!

We flew over to the Austin Humane Society and fell in love with a sweet and snuggly two-month-old terrier mix!

So cuddly and sweet...

Sweet, sweet face.

Not so sure what she's supposed to do...

Check out that wide stance!
(She's the size of the floor tiles.)

Wrinkly faces are the best!

Aaaand, she's out.

We left her sleeping like this with her brother.
Snuggle Queen!

And the best sign of all - "I'm Adopted!"

We renamed her Markley after my freshman dorm at The University of Michigan - the place where her parents fell in love! She will stay at the Austin Humane Society until Wednesday, after she has been spayed. To be honest, it feels a little surreal since we didn't get to leave with her, but we already love her so much.

Of course, Brian is now researching crates, dog food and discount ped meds online and I am busy posting pictures and deciding what color collar to purchase. Oh, this little pup is in for a wild ride with us as parents!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

If it comes back, it's yours.

For my sixteenth birthday, my parents surprised me with a diamond solitaire necklace similar to the one in the above picture. It was my most prized possession as I had never owned anything as sentimentally or monetarily valuable in my life. I wore it every day and only took it off on the rare occasion when another necklace went with my chosen ensemble more appropriately. Again, this was rare - what outfit doesn't go with a diamond necklace? After 8 years of blinged bliss, just one month after our wedding, Brian and I attended another wedding in Pittsburgh. It was a fast and furious travel weekend - we were in Pittsburgh for less than 24 hours - and while changing in the hotel bathroom out of my wedding guest attire and into my sleeping on the plane attire, I lost my necklace.

This sent me into a tailspin. Here I was, beginning the next chapter of my life with a new husband and in a new city and I had lost the one possession I had treasured and kept on me every day. I emailed the bride (on her honeymoon), I called the hotel and demanded to speak to the head of housekeeping who was responsible for cleaning the ballroom bathroom during the hours of 5:00pm and midnight. Nothing. It was gone. The following weeks I mourned my necklace. I buried my dream of one day passing it down to my daughter on her sixteenth birthday. Overwhelmed with guilt, I called my parents to confess my biggest mistake. I turned all of my luggage inside out and still, the necklace was nowhere to be found.

The holidays came and went and I was sick to my stomach, convinced that someone at the hotel had in fact found my necklace and it was now around the neck of a random hotel employee's daughter who couldn't possibly love the necklace as much as I had. I began to question whether I deserved nice things since I clearly couldn't handle the responsibility of owning a beautiful necklace. Maybe I should just keep my engagement ring in a safety deposit box at the bank until I can prove I am mature enough for such a gift.

Two and a half years later, after Brian's second day at his new job, he asked me to take his car into the shop. Someone in his parking garage had slammed into tapped the rear bumper and he wanted to make sure it was only cosmetic and not a bigger issue than met the eye. Since I have not yet decided what I want to be when I grow up (more on that later) I jumped at the assignment. This morning, as I adjusted the mirrors and shifted his Mazda 3 into reverse, I saw something glistening out of the corner of my right eye. No way. The clasp of a necklace was poking out of the crease in the passenger seat. I pulled the clasp to reveal an entire white gold chain. With a solitaire diamond in the center. My necklace. All along my necklace was with me? I drove that car every day in West Hollywood and again when we moved to Santa Monica. It was with me on my daily commute - for all the good days and all the bad, the road trips, fun nights out, visits to the doctor, important moments and mundane; my necklace was there. Hands shaking, I pulled back the lobster claw and clasped it to the matching loop. I ran my fingers around the chain not only to ensure it fastened securely, but also to confirm I wasn't dreaming.

I'm sure there is some spiritual and zodiacal significance to finding my necklace and finding it today. All I know is it felt like a piece of me was missing and I finally have it back.

Now I'm ready to conquer the world! And by conquer the world I mean unpack box #72...

One Week Down!

Yesterday was our one week anniversary as Austinites and already we're beginning to see why everyone loves living here. While driving around looking for a puppy this past weekend (more on that later) Brian posed a great question. He said, "So I know everyone loves it here and I'm sure we will too, but what is it exactly that people love? Is it a place or an experience or just a feeling and combination of things?" So, of course, we're now on the hunt to discover for ourselves what makes Austin so lovable. Here are three things we've found so far:

Life is easy. It's easy to get from one place to another (however, anywhere would seem easy after 3 years of LA traffic). It's easy to meet people. It's easy to get together with friends. It's easy (ie: affordable) to try new restaurants. Austin is just easy.

The people are great. From the college-kid-grocery-bagger to the tattooed hippie looking for a rescue pup to your friend's friend's neighbor the people in Austin are present. They look you in the eye, they smile and mean it, they ask how your day is going and wait for your response.

Your dollar goes farther. As you know, we are a cost conscious couple and knowing things like becoming pet parents and home owners are in our near future is very exciting. This is possible for us now because we are in Austin. In Santa Monica, we never even tossed around the idea of buying a home and now that's all we can google!

It has been said, "The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts." I not only feel this way about the Santa Monica Luskeys, but am beginning to feel this way about Austin.

Happy Texas Independence Day!