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hello again!

Whew! The past few weeks have just FLOWN by & I have been a busy bumblebee.
Here are some recent snippets via Instagram:

Feeling incredible post-workout! I'm so proud of how far I've come in my weight loss journey :]
We picked up a treat for Myla while out for a stroll & she carried it the whole way home!!

"Just because" tulips Burton picked up on his way home from work. Love that fella!
I sometimes make smart outfit choices in the morning & can't resist a shameless selfie ;]

Blueberry pancakes & sour ale for our beer/food pairing of the month!
Enjoying time with Portland's newest FL transplant, Jessica :]

Decemberists wall mural!

Somebody painted a giant mural of The Decemberists' newest album cover just a couple blocks away from our gym! I couldn't resist taking some photos with it after one of our workouts :] The day we took these pictures was extra special because we saw them in concert just a few hours later! Needless to say, they ROCKED IT. It was magical seeing them perform in their hometown - which is now our hometown! God, I love LOVE Portland :]

weight loss journey!

YOU GUYS. I have some incredible news & I've wanting to shout it from the mountain tops: I am at my lowest weight (since maybe middle school?) & am no longer "overweight" by BMI standards!! I've lost about 35 pounds from my highest weight, 20 of which was lost in the past few months. I can fit into my "skinny" clothes & had to replace many old ones with new size smalls! It feels AMAZING! I feel healthier & stronger than ever, but more importantly, I can tell that this isn't just me going on a temporary healthy kick (again). I'm in it for the long haul :]

So how did I do it? Drinking way less beer had to happen & now I might only have 3 or 4 drinks each week. Logging what I eat on My Fitness Pal keeps me in check, but I haven't changed much about my diet. Burton & I have always been healthy eaters (lots of vegetables!), but I just think we were over-eating. As for exercise, we've been going on long weekly hikes & appreciating the beautiful weather & nature that Oregon has to offer. During the work week, we'll go to bootcamp or yoga classes at our gym instead. I'm starting to see my little abs coming in! They say weight loss is 80% diet & 20% exercise, but I think the most important factor is will power. When you alter your perspective & view these lifestyle changes as a treat to your body, weight loss doesn't seem so challenging anymore. The physical changes will happen if you're good to your body & PATIENT :]

happy mail!

One of my goals for 2015 was to send more snail mail, so my husband (the best one ever!) bought me a Happy Mail subscription for my birthday :] Now I have more cute stationary than I know what to do with! Most people get stuck in the everyday routines of life & sometimes just need little reasons to smile. I'm happy to be able to provide that for my family & friends, especially since I'm across the country from most of them. Speaking of thoughtful letters, check out this little gem from one of my third graders! It definitely made my day :]

a new favorite hike!

Our first winter in Portland has been GORGEOUS. It barely rains & has been consistently in the 40s & 50s since November. I know it's uncommon weather, so Burton & I are enjoying it as much as we can! Future winters probably won't be as nice :] On a beautifully clear day, we discovered a new favorite hike! The trail starts with a loop around Mirror Lake, where we saw Mt. Hood peeking out. Myla wasted no time diving into the water!

Mt. Hood followed us as we trekked up up up for about 2.5 miles. The sunshine was so bright at about the halfway point that we could barely photograph us with the mountain.

At the top! We had 360 degree views that were absolutely BREATHTAKING! And because it was so clear, we were able to see three extra mountain peaks in the distance: Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, & Mt. St. Helens!!

Despite how windy it was at the top, we hung out for a good 20 minutes, taking it all in. Burton even surprised me, pulling a celebratory beer out of the CamelPak. This is the good life :]

viva las vegas!

A couple weekends ago, my family had a mini-reunion in Vegas to celebrate my favorite cousin's birthday. I loved every minute we got to spend with my family, but man, is Vegas WEIRD. It wasn't really our scene & I couldn't imagine spending more than a few days out there. Have you ever been? Nothing could've prepared me! Btw, Burton & I were totally photobombed in the above picture - that man is not in my family.

We gambled a little, sipped plenty, & walked a LOT. We soaked up some rays poolside, enjoyed the show Absinthe, & went on the High Roller! Amazing views :]

This guy has his work cut out for him in Vegas.

I loved Bellagio's fountain show & Chihuly installation!!

It actually snowed in the surrounding mountains while we were there! We drove out looking for red rocks, but only found white ones. And lots of snowmen.

Thanks for the fun weekend, Vegas! I'm not sure if/when we'll be back ;]

being Mrs. Reed

So I realized that even though my job as an art teacher is like 80% of my life, I haven't posted about it much on here lately. I honestly respond quicker to "Mrs. Reed" than "Nicole" at this point :] At the beginning of the school year, I wanted to create a separate art teacher blog for my students' families & fellow art teachers. Click the link to check out the inspirational work my little artists have been creating! I love my job :]

valentine's day AM & PM

1. Heart-shaped turkey bacon breakfast   2. Fresh lillies :]
3. Cutesy card exchange   4. Forest Park v-day hike!

1. Healthy lasagna (our v-day tradition)   2. Bubbly makes everything fancier :]
3. Salt & Straw Thai Peanut Butter ice cream!!   4. Mortified's Doomed Valentines!

What a lovely, lovely day! I hope yours was, too <3

recent happenings that made me smile:

  1. Feeling cute in tomboyish outfits!
  2. Our date night at Powell's (& the books we stumbled upon!)
  3. Funny advertisements since Oregon's marijuana legalization
  4. Seeing Mt. St. Helens from my school's parking lot!
  5. Discovering a new favorite snack (I'm obsessed!)
  6. Corgi picture text messages :]

surrounded by beauty


"Look deep into nature & you will understand everything better." -- Albert Einstein

Burton & I recently re-hiked Angel's Rest Trail. If you'd asked me 10 years ago if I was interested in hiking, I probably would've looked confused. Growing up in flat Florida, I'm not even sure if I fully understood what hiking entailed. But now, it is one of my absolutely favorite hobbies! As long as the weather's decent, I'd probably do it every weekend. It's free, stress-reducing, healthy, fun, & visually astounding. Plus, it makes my dog super happy & I share some of my best chats with Burton on our excursions :] Have you enjoyed nature lately?