Ivanka's Chair

OMG... that's my office chair! EEEEK! I love her.


Quickbit - Bathroom Ventilation Fans

Me to Contractor: "I want the sleekest looking bathroom vent fan possible. Make sure it is really quiet too."

Contractor: "Why would you want a quiet vent fan?"

Think about it...

Turns out, ours are too quiet. Not just from the standpoint of masking "noise" but also we forget they are on all the time! I think we are going to put these on cheap little timers very soon.


No More Cable Ties...

I have been living without cable for almost two months now and guess what?!? I know that you probably want me to say “nothing happened,” but in reality a LOT happened!

I am getting SO MUCH MORE done! Because I have to plan and seek out the shows that I want to watch, it is no longer a mindless ease, it becomes a chore. And we all know what chores are… difficult. My channels are limited and the choices are too because of apple tv, netflix, or free channels from our antenna.

Which is EXACTLY what I needed. Limitations.

Be honest… you get home from work and are procrastinating on some stuff you don’t want to do but should. You are hungry so you make dinner and just will sit down for a *minute* to eat, and before you know it – it is time for bed. This happened to me constantly, and why shouldn’t it? I am tired, I have worked all day, and this is just what I “needed.”

Until my days and nights started to all blend together. I felt like I was only accomplishing things at work and doing nothing at home… and this was all a slippery slope of eating and TV watching and then nothing else.  I used to have hobbies I thought. I used to do stuff, whatever it was, and now all I do is come home and watch TV during the week.

Well, no more!

Here is what has changed in my life since cutting the cord.

  1.  I watch the shows I want to watch because I have planned to watch them. Whether it is The Walking Dead, The Bachelor, Modern Family, or even watching Vampire Diaries on my iPad… I seek it out because I want to watch it. Which is very different from vegging out in front of the TV with a billion channels and a full DVR.
  2. I am getting to bed on time. I don’t know what it is, but when I plan something, it works out so much better. Before, I was just getting caught up in watching something, some dumb show, and I would look up at the clock and be all like, crap.
  3. Eating dinner at the table happens.  Because eating dinner at the table happens…
  4. Cleaning up after dinner happens because I am not engrossed in a show. I don’t know when this started because my parents had a strict rule while I was growing up about not watching TV while dinner was being eaten.
  5. I can think of about 7 extra shows that I used to watch regularly just because they were backed up on the DVR per week… that adds up to about 4-5 hours of extra time, and that night time after work is precious!
  6. And finally, because I am not tied to the TV, it is easier to say no to it. I don’t know if I was addicted before, but now I am enjoying the sunsets on my back deck, cooking better meals, planning my next day which leads to a better morning, etc.

Things are just better. I didn’t expect them to be, and I may have even thrown a tantrum fit when we didn’t have the DVR any longer, but it is worth it. Oh, and the extra money is great too.



Female Architect's New Role

My mom said something the other day that sparked my husband to say the following:  

“And THAT is what is holding women back from advancing in the workplace.”

I was shocked. He is not really someone that says things like that in support of women or anything really. He just doesn’t get that involved generally or whole-heartedly unless it is in regards to fantasy football or our Frenchie. It sort of makes it seem like he doesn’t truly care (and thus notice) much around him, when the truth is that he is the most aware person I have ever met. This response to what my mom said was so fast, it was like he was thinking about it at that very moment.

I was shocked in a good way though. He had a point. (He is so smart.) By my mother saying that she is “not afraid to act stupid around people to get what she needs,” she was inadvertently holding back women everywhere because she was just acting like another dumb girl.

Which begs the point, how many other women are also doing this? And another one, I have to admit, I do it too.

I HATE telling guys and girls alike that I am an architect. For one, it sounds kind of haughty. I usually tell them I am a designer instead. A female being an interior designer makes sense. People are comfortable with that. They know what I do and they know what to expect. Saying I am an architect makes things so much harder on me. I feel like I have to explain myself.

When you announce to the room (OK, that’s dramatic) that you are an architect, the expectation is elevated. Who do I think I am, coming in here and having fun and not knowing about politics? What exactly did I do anyways… and could I be trusted? What kind of architect can make a lewd joke and throw back a few cocktails? Surely there must be some mistake. What does this mystical creature, this female architect, do?

More often than not, I get this question, “So, like a REAL architect?” Or even this gem of a statement of, “You’re not an ACTUAL architect.” Most recently, this gentleman at a marketing event told me when we started chatting that he couldn’t help me with his services because he didn’t do residential contracting. He ASSUMED I designed houses and my response to him was, neither do I but it doesn’t sound like we would be a good fit anyways. Zing!

Before my husband was my husband, he would pick up girls in the bar with the most ridiculous of lines (so he tells me). Girls would actually believe that he was a matador or even dolphin trainer while he made these screechy noises (demonstrating to them of course)… and they believed him! Bless their hearts. He can be a matador, but I can’t be an architect?

So to your question, yes, I am an effing real architect. Mike Brady, George Costanza, Ted Mosby. I get it, these are the architects in which you are most familiar. TV architects are male. The 90s  movie One Fine Day in which Michelle Pfeiffer plays a female architect who is a single parent while living in NYC, is about the closest thing to a female architect role that I have seen, and 99% of men have not seen that movie.

I need to stop doing this. Would I tell people that I was a nurse if I was actually a doctor? I wonder if females deal with this all over the globe regardless of their title. Right now it just becomes blatantly clear to me that I need to help set a precedent for women all over. I think this is more a story about being comfortable as yourself than anything else.

So, hello, my name is Joellen and I am an architect. I design both large and small commercial buildings with a little bit of residential design experience as well. Nice to meet you.


Best & Worst?

In my news feed this morning, I saw that Margot Robbie is on two red carpet lists from the Oscars last night - a best AND a worst! The articles popped up right in a row... more evidence that supports that there is just no pleasing the masses. In my opinion, lose the dress, but then she would just be even hotter. Life is so unfair sometimes! :)


Easy & Delicious Now, Easy & Delicious Later

In keeping with my resolution, I have gone to bed much earlier than before! I think it has been lights out before 10:30pm every night since and although I would like that time to be 10pm, it is a start.

I have also fiddled around with the idea of freezer meals. One of the best things about our new house design is we are going to have a full size freezer right next to a full size refrigerator. This will mean SO MUCH MORE space to plan and prepare fresh meals! Here is one below that I love! I just tried it out last week and will definitely be doing it again.

Southwestern Crockpot Chicken Burritos (Fresh & Freezer)

What you need:
  1. Boneless skinless chicken of preference. I bought a bag of frozen breasts that were on sale. Simple as that.
  2. Cans of whatever you like, I used 1 jar of salsa (medium heat), 2 cans tomatoes with chilies, 1 can mexicorn,  and 2 cans black beans. You can add or subtract from this depending on how much chicken you are using and your preferences.
  3. Spices, you can use spice packets, but I just added garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, powdered onion, and lots of cumin. Spice to your taste and you can add more at the end of the cooking time if you want/need.
  4. Burrito shells (about 15-20)
  5. Shredded cheese
  6. Sour cream if you like it, which I do.
What you do:
  1. Add the chicken to the crockpot (I added mine straight from the bag while frozen) and everything else on top and stir all together, coating chicken. Cook on low and if possible, stir every few hours for about 8 hours total. When done, chicken should shred easily, which is the next step.
  2. Shred chicken. See? I wasn't kidding. 
  3. Now, fill all burrito shells with the mixture, add cheese, and fold. You can eat some now, but I wrapped most of mine up individually in foil for later.
  4. Then place all foil wrapped burritos in large ziplock bags and put them in the freezer. 
  5. Grab one in the morning and it should be thawed by lunch ***SEE UPDATE BELOW***. I take the foil off (duh), cut mine up on a plate, pop it in the microwave for a minute, add some sour cream, and voila! You have about 15 lunches ready to go at a moments' notice.
UPDATE: After cooking one from frozen, it tasted MUCH better than thawing it first. I defrosted it in the microwave on the "casserole setting" for about 3 minutes and then heated it on high to my liking, about another minute... the tortillas tasted much better and less soggy than it had before when I let it thaw out in the fridge first. I will be cooking these straight from the freezer from now on!


2015 Resolution

I  have a problem... I don't think I have been thinking for myself for a while now. It all started when I realized that I didn't like the music I was listening to as I was going from station to station in my car a little while back. I felt like I hadn't "discovered" a song in over a decade that wasn't already playing over the radio and through everyone's heads and that started to bother me. I used to love music. I used to buy albums and my favorite song was not always the A track... or even B track.

This lead to other realizations. My wedding, my house, my car, my clothes. How influenced was I becoming by others? By the media? I don't think I was always this type of person, one that was not able to be herself! When did this all start?

It might have something to do with social media. We are let into so many peoples' lives and sometimes that is a good thing, like for helpful hints or tips, but sometimes we can start comparing ourselves to others and that is a slippery slope. We become a nation of copycats and sheep and keeping up with the Joneses as your neighbor gets inflated to everyone you have ever known in your whole life. In the past, a simple call to your mom about why your baby is crying is now suddenly turned into hours of online research because there is just TOO MUCH DAMN INFORMATION AVAILABLE!

Taking on too much is also an issue. We think we can have it all because so and so has it all. They work and workout and have a clean house and even put elf on the shelf in the cutest little positions for their darling children says their pictures! So, that slippery slope comes in and knocks us on our asses. In my reality I am tired, pennyless, childless, anxious, and could lose a few pounds. But as my coworker says, nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems, and it isn't.

Back to not only just having it all, but it is all at our fingertips! Recipes, directions, phone numbers, to do lists... we have conditioned ourselves to be able to turn on a crockpot and do three times the errands of our parents, and we just try to take on more and more like an insatiable creature. My sister and I laugh that my mom will tell us her morning is just "too full" to do anything. She says she has to pay bills and go to the post office. That woman goes to the post office more than anyone I know, and I don't think I have been to one since I had to drop off a return to Amazon.com a year ago, but she has a point. 

My mother sets aside all morning to pay bills and go to the post office while these are things that I do during my lunch hour at work and from the comfort of my own desk. Automatic bill pay, online shopping, emails... all things that are keeping me from getting fresh air, sunshine, steps in, and speaking to people. Oh, and keeping me from a truly "unplugged" vacation. What is this going to do to our generation?!

All of this brings me to the point of this whole post, which is to take some time to define my New Year's Resolution - to decrease stress. This is a complicated thing to try to accomplish (which sort of diminishes the whole "less stress" thing, don't ya think?!?) but I am going to try my best. I think implementing the following would be a great start to the new year.

1. Stop being so plugged into social media and frivolous news.

Yes. This. I run into complete strangers that know more about my life than my father does, simply because he does not have facebook. I have pared down my friends list and removed all picture albums over a year old. I will continue to do this over the coming years and be more discerning of what I share and what I don't. I heard once that for an entire year, on someone's birthday, that is when you can decide if you want to keep them as friends or not since it will go through each person day by day for the next year... not a bad idea!

2. Stop worrying about what others think of you. 

I want to look at each situation as to what I want... will this make me happy? Do I actually WANT to go to that party? So and so does not give a crap if I am happy... am I? Not only do I want to let go of what others think of me, but I want to create some ME time. I want to do things that interest me, even if I have to do them alone.

3. Stop being a stranger.

My mom once told me that if she ever gets a grumpy cashier, it becomes her goal to make them laugh or smile. I love that sentiment. It's easy to do and sometimes making others smile is the best way to put a grin on your own face. I want to call my friends and family more. Spending time with people that I WANT TO spend time with is a start.

4. Stop saying “yes” all the time & get more sleep.

I have already started implementing this one... and it is a good feeling. When saying yes will negatively affect an aspect of your life; like sleep, anxiety, procrastination, money, etc., then say no! I also need to personally start going to bed a half an hour before I actually want to be asleep. Since when has getting up from the tv, brushing teeth, washing face, contacts, pajamas, moving laundry, letting the dog out, etc. taken only a minute.

5. Stop thinking you have to get it right on the first try.

This is the hardest one for me. I am a perfectionist and sometimes it holds me back. I am afraid to fail... and I shouldn't be. It takes me longer to begin things sometimes because I don't want to do them wrong. Most of it is in my head and within my own fears. Seize the day!

From Charleston, South Carolina to your computer. I hope you enjoy. :)