First Time Pumpkin Carvers

This weekend I got to carve pumpkins with two new friends who had never experienced Halloween and jack-o-lanterns before. Yu fan and Daisy are both PhD students at Rice who I met through the international student office.

When I met them, Yu fan had been in the U.S. less than a month and the university’s servery (dining hall) was extent of her American food. I knew we would be fast friends when she said her favorite American food so far was pizza. I immediately dove into a lengthy and unsolicited monologue about the best pizza places in Houston and the varying styles of pizza in the States. Oy. More than anyone wanted to listen to, I’m sure.

Daisy actually completed her undergrad in upstate New York, though she didn’t get to experience life outside of campus too often. I’m looking forward to future adventures and holidays with them!

Here we are with our creations. One guy on campus said Daisy’s pumpkin looked very abstract, but let’s be real; we all know it’s an owl. ;)

Last thought: I scored a trash bag full of seeds and guts from the pumpkins that I’ve yet to bake…anyone know if uncooked pumpkin seeds have an expiration date?

12 Weeks From Now

Twelve weeks from now, it will be Christmas. Woah.

Since Houston temps have been maxing out at a crisp 86 the past few days, there has been a run on pumpkin spice lattes, and I’ve been spotting a few too many boots that have worked their way out of the closet. But really, I get it. I think I often crave winter in the summer and start looking ahead to the holidays a bit early actually.

The truth is that it’s really not so early to be thinking about Christmas! There’s a lot to do, buy, bake, send and eat. Here are two links to helpful holiday tools I’ll be putting to use. AmberLee from giverslog has posted her 2012 Holiday Checklist. I have found this so handy (and cute!) in the past! To plan out my gifts and keep my budget in order, I use LifeHacker’s Gift Planning Template (created by Jason Fitzpatrick). It does a nice job of organizing me, I get a keen sense of accomplishment when I turn a cell block green, and it also helps me check what I have given people in the past, so I don’t go overboard and keep getting my sister earrings each year. (Oh, wait, earrings almost always end up in her bag every year, and I actually think we’re okay with that one. ;)

These are two essential holiday planning favorites of mine, and I’m getting excited just talking about them. For real. Any other good tips for not losing it as the holidays sneak up on us?

An old Christmas pic just for fun:



Biting the Bullet

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m usually very thoughtful about starting something new or anything I do at all really. I can be thoughtful to a fault though, as in it holds me back. I have been motivated to take small steps lately, and this blog is one of them! Stop thinking, start doing. (I just heard the Home Depot commercial play in my head.)

To encourage myself to get moving on ideas and goals, I’m feeling the need to celebrate little milestones…not sure that they can actually qualify as milestones, but I’m celebrating nonetheless. We moved into our house almost a year ago and only last weekend did we clear the last corner of clutter that had been resting there since moving day. Check.

Last week, I nailed the crow pose in yoga class and held that sucker way longer than necessary because I was so proud. Next up is crow to headstand, but I’m savoring the moment a little longer before I sign up for that one. Check check.

It feels so good to check things off a list. I’m going to take pen to paper with some new goals for myself.

Hoping to keep the momentum going!


Never Eat Alone


The cover reads, “How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends and Mentors.”

This book has stayed in my bedside drawer since I first read it because it’s one of those books I feel the need to flip back through and use as a reference. It was actually given to Nick by his inspiring and successful boss, Jill. Keith Ferrazzi challenged my perspective on relationships and being proactive about my goals and purpose. His real-life examples make him relatable, and he’s quite practical in how to practice what he’s preaching. In one memorable section, Keith talks about being the same person in your personal life as your are at work. It’s exhausting to try to be two people, and you shouldn’t have to change yourself to move forward professionally. Breath of fresh air. I’m not saying I lead a double life, but it’s a great thought, and I’m not sure that I had considered this seriously before.

The central theme of the book is, of course, relationships — how your network of connections is powerfully related to your level of success. The skeptic in me really likes that he clearly distinguishes between fake and genuine relationships and explains how his motivation is ultimately generosity. It’s a meaningful read even if you’re not looking to become CEO; I put it down feeling motivated and as if I had just met a great mentor who let me in on some good insider info.

Dad’s soundtrack

Recently while running, the old selection of tunes on my ipod got me thinking. (it’s old because I refused to wear headphones for a while because they all killed my ears…but I’m back in the game now with the pair that have yet to hurt and actually stay put even with movement. Anywayyy…) Each song that popped up transported me to a time or made different people pop into my mind. I was grinning with each new song & new person I was thinking of. It was just a really good strand of songs.  I know music is powerful like that and everyone probably experiences this, but several songs reminded me of my pops this trip and made me kind of sentimental.

Since Father’s Day is approaching, I wanted to write down some of the songs that make me think of my dear ol’ Dad.  Mainly because seeing several “dad songs” in one place is pretty amusing to me, and maybe only me. We’ll see.

  • “Spilled Milk” or something like that by Pam Tillis. I can see my dad jamming out to it while working out in the backyard, mid-summer dark brown skin, about to take a crisp dive into the pool, maybe in light denim shorts. We felt so country listening to that one Pam Tillis cd, though we did later expand our country repertoire to Reba and a Leann Rimes single.
  • “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club: I can still picture the tape. It was always my selection when riding with Dad.
  • “Come to my Window” by Melissa Etheridge: This one is actually because I remember making Dad turn off the tv so he could watch me air guitar and sing this song. I was not joking, and I believe I was in junior high.
  • “Crazy” by Patsy Cline…okay maybe we were more into country than I realize
  • “Gangsta’s Paradise” from Dangerous Minds as performed by Coolio…no denying Dad said he liked this little diddy back in 96. You might still find the soundtrack in the cd collection.
  • “The Way You Look Tonight” Frank
  • “Unchained Melody” /the Righteous Brothers in general, but this song popped on my ipod during the run & I couldn’t stop thinking about my dad. I love it.

There you have it. Though I could probably go on & on, here’s a small collection of songs from the John Bies soundtrack for me. Happy early Father’s Day!

A Little About Me

Kim Espinosa is a wife, a writer, an editor and a lover of her God the Creator.