Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just call me your typical CA girl

5 things I love about California

One // All weather is dress weather. 

If it's hot? We dress like the left picture. Cold? Add a few more accessories or layers, and dress like the right picture. 

Now, keep in mind that "hot" for us is anything over 70, and "cold" is anything below 70. But hey, it's all relative, right?

Two // Want to go to the beach? You can drive there. Camping in the mountains? You can drive there. Snowboarding? You guessed it, you can drive there. 

Now that's what I call diversity. 

Three // We're smack dab between Hawaii and the East Coast. 

Maui? 5 hour flight away. 

Boston? 5 hour flight away. 

Any longer and you may as well fly to Europe instead, am I right? 

{Which probably explains why I have yet to fly to Europe. Need to fix that asap}

Four // Mexican food. 

I've heard that we're known for our amazing Mexican food, and I can 100% affirm that rumor. 

We have some bomb Mexican restaurants, and after looking at that picture, I may need to jet on over to one. 

Five // How can you ever be upset about traffic when this is your view?

And there you have it folks, 5 reasons why I love California. 

If you ever want to visit, you'll probably find me at your local Mexican restaurant. I'll have a burrito waiting for you. 


This post was originally published on Imperfectly Perfect Grace

And speaking of Shannon's blog, you can still enter my 2 year blogiversary giveaway and snag a chance to win a $25 Starbucks giftcard, and ad space on both Imperfectly Perfect Grace and Sweetness Itself.

Enter here!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sobriety - One month in

30 days. No alcohol. 

It might not sound like much to some of you, and to others it might sound like the worst thing ever since they decided to end Friends

For me, it's a pretty big deal. It hasn't happened since my freshman year of college {about 5 and a half years ago, let's not talk about it}, when I decided to take 30 days off just to make sure that I could. And I could, but I haven't done it again since. Until now. 

I want to document this process. This is a huge life change, and if anything, I want to write out my thoughts and observations along the way. 

But I also want to encourage you. Whoever you are who's eyes have landed on this page (and have continued reading once you realized this post was about sobriety). I'm gonna let you in on a little secret, this post is about much more than just giving up alcohol. It's much more general than that. 

This post is proof that change is possible. This post is here to say that if something doesn't feel quite right in your life, if something is consistently bringing you down or making you feel bad about yourself, 
you are perfectly capable of changing that. 

You are stronger than you think, more capable that you even know. Don't underestimate yourself. If you don't like something, change it. 

It might not be easy, but you can do it. 

So here we go. The thoughts/feelings/observations/lessons/etc. from my first month of sobriety. 

And to offset the seriousness, a few pics from this past weekend in San Francisco. 
You're welcome. 

Went to a lovely wedding that deserves a post in and of itself!
In the 30 days, there were a total of 3 times that I noticed a distinct change in my lifestyle. That means only 3 times did I feel a difference, and honestly? That felt really good. Had this happened a year ago, or even 6 months ago, I probably would have felt a difference every single weekend night. 

What does that mean? It means that God had already been working in my life and pulling me out of the drinking scene before I made this decision. And for that, I am thankful. Not because the drinking scene is a bad scene to be in, but because there was a time that the thought of not drinking legitimately scared me because I thought I would lose friendships. 

I can happily report that my friendships have only strengthened. I can't even express how blessed I have been by the support of my friends. 

Reunited with my high school besties this weekend!

This month, I realized that I tend to over-analyze how people will respond to me not drinking. I learned this at a pub crawl earlier in the month, where people either didn't notice or were totally supportive of the fact that I wasn't having any alcohol. 

I was reminded of it again this past weekend, when I met up with a close friend from college. I was fully prepared to receive a loottt of ragging on my decision. But instead, without missing a single beat, he offered to grab me a water. And multiple times through out the night, he told me how proud he was of me. 

I'm learning that maybe, just maybe, I should give people a little more credit. Maybe I need to learn to believe the best in people, especially those who genuinely care about me. 

See people, even San Francisco knows what's up. 

I found that I never actually crave alcohol. Not once through out the month did I want to drink just to drink. I talked about it in this post, but it's the social situation that gets me wanting to drink. It's having a beer with everyone, having a glass of wine the the girls, or yes, even joining in in a round of shots (bleh). 

But given how alcohol has affected me in my life, given how it's affected my decisions in the past, and given how it pulls me away from God, wanting to drink just to fit in just isn't a good enough reason anymore. 

Because the fact is, regardless of what my insecurities tell me, I fit in just as much with or without a drink in my hand

So thankful for these amazing friendships that have lasted since high school!
You know what I really learned this month? Just how insecure I really am. It kind of crept up on me this past weekend, not gonna lie. 

It's hard! Making a life change like this. Taking out something that was once a big part of who you were, your reputation, and your regular routine. I hate admitting that that "thing" is alcohol, but it's true! Maybe not as much in recent months or years, but during college, alcohol was absolutely a huge part of my identity. 

When you've gotten used to relying on something for a sense of worth or value, it's hard to adjust to not having it anymore. Whether it's a relationship, a job, or in my case, just being the fun girl who can party with the best of them, it's going to take an adjustment process to get rid of the fear of losing that sense of identity. 

And honestly? I am sure I'm not the first to tell you that any time you are looking to something other than God for worth, identity or purpose, that other thing is going to let you down. It may take some time, but it's just how our world is. The only thing that can firmly and safely hold our identity is Jesus Christ, Himself. 

So what have I realized this month? That maybe it isn't quite to the extreme as it was in college, but there is absolutely a part of me who still looks for identity in being the fun party girl. 

And that part of me can feel so insecure when I'm sitting in a drinking environment without a drink in my hand. That part of me can feel so far on the outside when everyone is cheering their glass, or rounding up for a group shot. 

But guess what? That insecurity? It doesn't come from God, at all. 

You know what does come from God? The voice in my head that says "Amy, there is so much more to you than the fun party girl. Let me show you."

And in the moments when I'm feeling that insecurity surface? I will cling to that voice. I will cling to that truth

Friday, July 26, 2013

2 Wonderful Years

Of blogging, that is!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Home SB! It has been a beautiful ride, this blogging experience. It has changed me so much more than I could even express. I have learned more about myself in these past 2 years than in the all of the prior 22 combined. I truly met Jesus in these past 2 years, and I am so thankful that I have this little bloggy to document such a pivotal time in my life. 

None of this would have been possible without you. Yes, you! So in order to thank you, I asked a handful of my favorite blogging ladies if they would be so kind as to contribute gifts for this special occasion. 

And lucky for us, they said yes! If you don't already know these ladies, take this giveaway as a great opportunity to make some new friends! Because trust me, they are all ahhhmazing!

The prizes? 

$25 Starbucks giftcard
Large Ad Space on Imperfectly Perfect Grace
Small Ad Space on Sweetness Itself

Good luck, ladies!! Thank you all for the part you play in making this blog such a blessing in my life!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weekend Rundown

Still have some more fun questions to answer, but today I'm taking the easy way out and doing a post with a photo dump and few words. I'm writing this at 8:40PM and I'm literally ready for bed liiike right now. 

Just call me Grandma Amy from now on. 

Without further adieu, I give you my weekend with the fam:

Saw Turbo. Super cute! I recommend it (even if I did fall asleep at some points)

Enjoyed Stearns Warf, a Santa Barbara classic, and a must-see if you ever visit!

Another must-see would of course be me. You know I would love to see your gorgeous faces if you're ever in town! 

Went to the Ty Warner Sea Center, which I had never been to before! The little kid in me had a blast. 

It must have been Milissa's lucky day, because she also found a sea hare on the beach!

**Sea hare is a fancy name for sea slug.**

We ended our day by getting dolled up to walk around downtown:

It was a great weekend, and so nice to have my family here!

Hope you guys had fabulous weekends, as well! Almost to the next one!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Your Questions Answered - Family & Faith

Continuing on with answering your questions from this post and Instagram, and today's topic is family and faith. Here we go:

The wonderful Hanna asked Do you want kids someday? How many? And, are you still dating? 

Yes, I absolutely want kids someday! In high school, I used to say that I wanted 5 kids. And honestly? I would still totally be down for that. I definitely want to make sure that I can financially provide for all of my kids, but I trust God with that one!

I imagine they will look something like this:

{For those newbies around here (hello!!), that would be my 8 year old mini me of a sister}

As for the last question, no, I am not currently dating right now. I go a little deeper on that right here. Truth be told, I am really enjoying this time to dig a little further into myself and my relationship with God. I have complete faith that the right relationship will come at the right time. 

And then bring on those 5 kiddos. 


Kind of. 

L asked What do you have a God-given passion for? Which of His promises do you hold onto the most? 

First of all, this is such a fantastic question. Thanks, L! :)

When I have to describe myself, passionate is the first word that comes to mind. I am so dang passionate about so many things. And that in and of itself is a gift from God that I am so thankful for!

One of the things that I am most passionate about is making people feel loved. Whether it's meeting up with a friend to get caught up on their life, giving a compliment to a stranger, or giving someone an extra tight hug, I am extremely passionate about showing people that they are loved. That they are valued, and that they are cared about. 

And which of His promises do I hold onto the most? Hm, there are so many good ones, aren't there? I would say that lately, I have been clinging to the fact that He is a good God who has good plans for me. The more I understand this, the less I worry about the future, and the more I learn how to truly trust Him. 

Anonymous asked What is your parents' religion? Is it the same as yours? Why or why not? 

Great question! My mom was raised Jewish, and my dad was raised Catholic. Growing up, we bounced back and forth between temple and Christian churches, although I never remember too much consistency. I even went with a friend to her Catholic after school program for a bit, so I got quite the well rounded exposure to different beliefs!

I have a hard time classifying my parents' "religion." I honestly think you would have to ask them! If I had to guess, I would think that my dad associates with Christianity, but it's a bit more complicated with my mom because of her heavy Jewish background. 

What I can say, is that my parents are very supportive of my walk with the Lord. All of my family members believe in God, so I feel very free to talk about what He is doing in my life. When my mom, dad and sister were visiting this weekend, they came to church with me. It was super sweet to worship the Lord with my both my family, and the church family that has 100% changed my life. 

Hope that answers your question :)

Anonymous asked Do your parents know of your struggles?

I would assume this is referring to my eating disorder, and yes, they know of that struggle. This was very much a personal battle, though. I wouldn't say they played an active role. 

Hilda asked How long does it take you to drive from Santa Barbara to San Diego?

If I leave in the evening or early in the morning, I can get back in about 3, 3 and a half hours. If I leave during mid-day on a Friday, it takes more like 4, even 4 and a half hours. Dang you, Friday traffic!

It's worth it to go visit my family, though :)

Heather asked What is your favorite book of the Bible? What is your favorite Bible verse? 

Romans is my all-time favorite book in the Bible. It was the first book that I ever read start to finish, and I read it at the high school youth retreat where I first met Jesus :). It was a trip to Catalina, a small island off the coast here in California. I will never forget sitting in the beauty of God's creation, and reading the words that spoke so clearly to my heart for the first time. 

My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:38-39. 

And I'll leave you with that truth for your Tuesday! Hope yours is fabulous. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Your Questions Answered - Health, Fitness & Fashion!

Goood morning, lovely people!! Happy Monday to you!

I'm so looking forward to answering your questions this week, thanks for the blogging material! :) I'm going to try and segregate these into different topics, and today, we're diving into health, fitness & fashion questions.

Starting with fashion: 

Shannon asked: Where do you buy your clothes? Does it take you a long time to pull an outfit together and honestly do you spend a lot on your clothing budget?

I like to shop at a lot of different places. My two recent favs are Cotton On and Old Navy. Both of which are extremely dangerous for me to walk into, because if I could, I would walk out with the entire store. 

Don't mind the dirty mirror, I swear I'll get around to cleaning it tomorrow eventually. 

Does it take me a long time to put an outfit together? Honestly, not too long. I would say it usually takes me less than 5 minutes to pick out on outfit, and then about 10 more to put it on and make myself presentable for the day. Let's just say that I really like my bed, so in order to maximize my time in it, I've minimized my time that it takes to get dressed :)

And do I honestly spend a lot on my clothing budget? Well, I guess this depends on what you consider a lot. Since I've been getting more into fashion lately, I would definitely say that I'm more lenient with my clothing/accessories spending. I'm a big advocate of pursuing your passions, and fashion has definitely become one of mine as of late!

That being said, I don't generally spend a lot on any one piece. I have a hard time rationalizing anything over $25, and that includes jeans/dresses/shoes/everything. I'm not saying it never happens (ahem Victoria's Secret bras), but I would say most of what I buy is under that price limit. Hence why my two favorite places are Old Navy and Cotton On where almost everything in the entire store is under $25. 


Anonymous asked: Are you still running? 

Yes! I unintentionally took a few weeks off due to a busy schedule, but I signed up for another half marathon in October, so time to get cracking! I kicked things off with a 5K this past week:

My race schedule for the rest of the year is:

September 7th: Bubble Run 5K

September 22nd: She is Beautiful 10K


Anonymous asked: Are you still struggling with your eating disorder?

{For some background on this, feel free to check out this post}

The short answer to this is no, I am not! I'm very happy to report that I can't even recall the last time I struggled with the binging and purging of bulimia. 

This was much more of an issue sporadically through out high school and college. It definitely had a few brief appearances post-college, but I am happy to say that Christ has done quite a bit of healing in this area. I now see the worth in my body, and can't quite justify hurting it in this way anymore. 

The majority of this struggle was surrounded around stress and control, not so much on trying to attain a certain weight or body type. Understanding that was a huge part in my healing process. I now have found healthy ways to handle my stress, mainly bringing it all to my ultimate Comforter, God. 


Anonymous said: You look a little thinner. I'm concerned. Please take good care of yourself. Your inside beauty is beautiful, just like you. ;-)

First of all, thank you for the sweet comment about inner beauty :) Second of all, thank you for your concern! I fully understand that this comes from a place of love, and I appreciate that!

I hope my answer above reassured you that I am no longer struggling with my eating disorder, or any disordered eating at that. Honestly, these days I try my best to eat healthy, but I absolutely do enjoy the more-than-occasional indulges as well. 

I actually do not pay too much attention to my weight. I step on a scale maybe once every few weeks, and that number doesn't change too often. I'm fairly certain my body has found the weight that it likes, and I'm perfectly okay with that number. 

I am much more concerned with working on a balanced, healthy diet, and maintaining a regular fitness routine. If working on both of those things makes that number on the scale go down, fantastic! But if not, no big deal!

If I am looking thinner, I can absolutely assure you that it is a result of healthy life changes. But I can also assure you that there has been little to no change on the scale lately ;)


Tune in for more Q&A coming in the next few posts. Thank you guys for your wonderful questions! Hope you don't mind that I'm breaking them up into multiple posts. 

Have yourself a fabulous Monday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Got any questions?

Sooo I think I've heard enough from myself for one week. 

Actually hold up, one more thing to say: Thank you. I don't think you guys realize how much you have changed my life. Yes, you. If you don't believe me, just go back and read old posts. I was so different back when I first started this blog. Not different in a bad way, just different. 

And then I met this beautiful community of people that accepted me. All of me. For the Jesus loving, messy, work in progress that I am. And God used all of you to help me grow into, well, me. 

And for that, I thank you. I thank you for teaching me. For challenging me. For inspiring me. For accepting me. And for holding me accountable. 

God has used you in so many freaking ways in my life. It blows me away how one tiiiny space of internet land can have such a profound impact on my life. But it does, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. 

If you don't think that you are making a difference right now, I want you to know that's not true. You are making a difference. You're making a difference in my life. 

There. Now I'm done for the week. 

So I give you the floor. I would love to answer any and all questions that you might have for me. About anything. I think I've made it pretty clear that I am not afraid to let down my walls and get reaalll honest up in hurr. Feel free to submit questions anonymously, if you prefer!

And if there aren't any questions, well, I have no problem resuming my usual rambling next week. :)

I love you guys. I really, really do. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Life Update - Part 2

Can I just say that I am really nervous to write this post? This is probably one of the most challenging posts that I have yet to write. Mainly because you can't convey tone over a computer screen, and this is a difficult topic to address. But, I trust that God has put it on my heart to share this very big life change with you all for a reason. And so, into the tricky territory we go. 

The topic that I'm discussing today? Alcohol. 

And before we even get started, I want to clarify that I am talking about my personal relationship with alcohol. I am so tempted to go even further with this disclaimer, but I'm going to leave it at that. This is my story, take it as you will. 

Almost two months ago, I heard this incredible sermon on alcohol & the Christian. Seriously, it's amazing. If you have 53 minutes and 21 seconds, I highly suggest listening to it. It might surprise you with what the message says about how Christians are called to deal with alcohol. 

One of my biggest takeaways from this sermon was how the gospel frees us. That's one of the beautiful gifts of the gospel, right? Freedom. Christ paid the price for us, and we are free to undeservingly reap the benefit. 

So what does this freedom mean in regards to alcohol? Well, it means that we are free to partake, and enjoy this unique type of beverage. No where in the bible does it say you must never drink alcohol. On the contrary, it says that we are accepted by God through faith, and that will not change with an alcoholic beverage in hand. 

The gospel also, however, frees us to abstain. And some of us are called to do just that. Some of us have drinking problems, addictions even. And through the gospel, we are freed from the bondage of alcohol. 

There are others of us, though, who do not have drinking problems. We may not struggle with addiction, and yet God may still call us to abstain. He has his reasons, and we may never understand. But regardless the reason, the gospel will free us to abstain, just as it may free others to partake. 

As I sat and listened to this sermon, I strongly felt the freedom to partake. I had struggled with alcohol in the past, but I was currently walking in a season of responsible drinking. And therefore, I felt perfectly convinced that alcohol did not affect my ability to walk in the Spirit. 

It had interfered with my walk in the past, though. I had previously turned to alcohol for comfort. Not even alcohol itself, or the feeling of being drunk. But instead, I turned to the social setting that alcohol provided. I turned to the constant affirmations that I received while drinking. 
"You're so fun!" "You're so cool!" "I love hanging out with you!" 

And even beyond that, I turned to the attention that I got from men while drinking. I turned to the flirtatious nature that occurs, the compliments that come, and yes, even the physical intimacy that can come from one too many drinks. 

I am not proud to admit these things, but they're true. They're a part of my past, mainly the part before I truly met Christ. But I would be lying if I said there was no overlap. It wasn't quite as black and white as I would have hoped. I had a lot of deeply ingrained habits, and these habits didn't go away over night. 

This habit of turning to the social setting of drinking for comfort, confirmation and affirmation was one that took a long, long time to go away. 

But as I sat listening to this sermon, I thought it had. I thought I was free, free to partake without idolizing the atmosphere that alcohol brings. 

Until the celebration of my birthday. 

What started as a fun day of wine tasting didn't end that way. I found myself staring straight at a girl that I thought I left behind. Hence, this post

I am not saying that alcohol is bad. I am not even saying that getting drunk is bad. But, I am saying that for me, it is. For me, that one drink too far can take me into a dark, dark place. And that one drink isn't necessarily the drink that makes me "drunk." Sometimes, one drink is all it takes to get there. Other times, it's more. 

But quite frankly, that place scares me. That place where I willingly stray from God's voice. That place where I can look Him straight in the face, and say God, You are not the comfort that I want right now. 

I woke up the morning of my birthday feeling so incredibly disappointed with myself. 
I felt so unworthy of God's love. And that is a horrible feeling that I wish on none of you. 

But, I learned two things on that day. God so graciously tore through the walls of my guilt, shame, and regret to scream His truth into my ears. 

And what did He scream to me? 

One: You are NOT defined by your mistakes!

We all make mistakes. Sometimes they're made soberly, sometimes drunkenly. But regardless, we are not identified by our mistakes. We are not even identified by our accomplishments!

We are identified by Christ, and Christ alone! And I cannot even express how difficult it was for Him to drill that truth into my head. But the fact is, I was the same daughter of Christ that I was before my birthday celebration as I was after. 

Nothing can change that, nothing. 

And two: You are free to abstain!

He took me back to that sermon that I had heard back in May. He reminded me of the words, and more importantly, He reminded me of their truth. 

I am free to abstain! That washed over me with such peace as I realized that if alcohol turns me into a person that I don't want to be, I don't have to drink it! 

Sure, it may be a huge part of the culture around me, but that doesn't matter. My God is the most powerful thing in this universe, and if He says that He will help me abstain, then I believe Him. 

And so, as of my 24th birthday, I am no longer drinking alcohol. I now have a more tangible understanding of the Christian freedom that the gospel brings, and I could not be more thankful.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Weekend Rundown

Remember when I said I had two big ol' posts coming for you this week? Welp, this most definitely is not the second one. So hooray for you guys! A break from the serious stuff :)

But actually, in all seriousness (see what I did there? Just can't stray away from serious biznass), thank you all so much for your comments on yesterday's post. I'm not quite sure how I lucked out with the world's best blog friends, but somehow I did. 

And I am so darn thankful for every single one of you. You bless me more than you can imagine. 

But enough with the sap {for now}. And onto the weekend rundown:

This weekend's festivities took place in my lovely home town of sunny San Diego. A group of us drove down for a weekend conference with our company's young employee success & networking organization. 

It's a pretty darn amazing perk to our company, if I do say so myself!

This conference was packed with fun and networking. I know I don't talk business on this blog very much, but networking is huge in the working world. If you're still in college, and will be looking for a job in the coming years, start your networking now!

I know some people might equate networking with nepotism. And while I think these are two very different things, I can say that in both of my full time jobs, I've seen these alive and thriving in the workplace. 

Do yourself a favor and network. In my opinion, networking is just a fancy way of saying go out and make some friends. And that's exactly what we did this weekend!

Seeing as the conference was in my hometown, I also got to pack in some much needed family time to this weekend. 

Lucky for me, my mom, dad & sister are coming up to Santa Barbara this weekend! {We'll miss you, Mike!}

So you can expect to see a lot more pics of me and my mini me in a few days. 

Hope you had a fantastic weekend, and have an even more fantastic humpday!