A New Venture: Saying Goodbye to Ann Written Notes.

House & Host Hey there!  So, you have probably noticed I have been MIA as of late.  Well, it’s not that I have been sitting around, eating bonbons wasting the days away.  I have been coming down the home stretch of my new venture, my new blog project, House & Host! And, you are the first to know so go on, check it out!

It’s been a work in progress in my head for over a year and tangibly for the last five months.  I found an amazing designer, Joy Laforme and she did an incredible job bringing my concept to life.  It’s been a super-duper creative outlet, a challenge and just so fun to see something from start to sort-of-finished (it’s never really finished, right?!).

So to that.  Goodbye Ann Written Notes.  The last 2+ years has been fun sharing my crazy stories, my love of all things beautiful, my travel adventures and a lot in between.  Thank you for being on this ride with me and I hope you will join me on this new, slightly modified, a bit more passionate, more colorful and a little more in my zone ride.

A couple of housekeeping notes:

  1. Will Ann Written Notes go away?  Sadly, yes.  But, after a few tears, I am actually excited because I think House & Host will be that much better, more creative and more storytelling.  After months of brainstorming and ideating and getting my creative juices flowing, God make it clear this was the right move.  And I’ve learned a ton along the way which I am SO thankful for!
  2. Will you need to subscribe to House & Host to receive the blog updates?  Yes!  You just need to go to the blog and scroll down slightly and on the right there is an email sign up box.  It takes 20 seconds.  Sign on up…first post goes live tomorrow!
  3. Have you enjoyed reading Ann Written Notes?  Have I made you laugh?  Cry?  Have I inspired you?  Well, I hope I have done something to make even the tiniest impact in your life.  And to that, I have a personal favor.  I would be SO grateful if you would share out House & Host to your friends and family!

Here’s to pursuing passion, closing chapters and opening new ones.  Here’s to creating, to trying, to learning, to growing.  Here’s to taking risks.  And to finding something you are passionate about and staying tremendously interested in it.  #livelikejulia


Living Without Fear of the Future. Possible or Impossible?

One of my best friends and I start our mornings by reading from a Proverbs 31 women’s devotional.  It’s a few paragraphs and usually one bible verse that allows both of us to start our days with God and learn a little about how God wants us to live our lives.  It’s 20-30 minutes of reading, digesting, praying and ‘chatting’ over email.  It’s the time after we are awake and before the day starts to set the tone, create a foundation, a strong platform, with God and each other.

Every day is a struggle whether it be at work, with your husband/wife, your health, kids who don’t seem to listen, a dirty house, lack of time to work out and the list goes on.  We weren’t designed to be perfect (thank God), but, we can learn a little each day about how to live a Godly life in the midst of this crazy world.  That’s why this is important to us.

We can try.  One day at a time.  We will fail, certainly.  Likely a few times, ahem, every couple hours.  We will take a few steps forward and inevitably, a step back.  The important thing for me (and for my friend, Vaneesha), is that we are making progress.  It may be slow, but, slow is better than status quo.  For me, one of the things I have learned over the last couple years and recently doing this daily devotional is to not worry about tomorrow, about the future.  Clearly, if you know me, you know I am FAR from perfect on this.  However, I am thankful that God has helped me be more present.  To not worry about tomorrow, about my future and to not let worry consume my thoughts.  And this verse from Proverbs 31:25 (coincidentally…or not) is one that makes me smile.  Makes me smile at the work God is doing in my messy life.proverbs-31-quote

Note to Self: Remember…

This weekend was relatively calm.  Dinner party with close friends Friday night.  Time with family on Saturday.  Down time on Sunday.  I struggle with just doing nothing so this quote helped me tonight.  I have decided to kick back, enjoy a glass of wine and have a little calm life on this lovely Sunday evening.  I hope you had a great weekend and here’s to a calm, productive week ahead!

And don’t forget I am giving away one of my new favorites books.  Click here for the details and to enter by tomorrow!

calm-lifeSource:  Kelsey Davis Design via Etsy

Three Years Ago…

San Francisco 019…Labor Day weekend, on a bench at Buckingham Fountain in Chicago, Rick asked me to marry him.  No ring.  Not on bended knee.  No flowers.  Just a simple, “sooo, do you want to get married?”

After our several year discovery process (to use work terminology), it was time.  Time to move forward.  Time to commit our lives to each other before God. Time to close our current chapter and open a new one, together.  He asks me the question.  I say yes.  After much back and forth, we decided to elope.  Elope with five people: our pastor (a dear friend) and his wife; two singers (our friends, husband and wife); and Rick’s son, Zach.

Eloped we did, after our 7 week engagement.  An engagement that was not focused on the flowers or the guest list or the venue or losing weight or the perfect dress.  An engagement that was focused on each other, preparing our hearts for a commitment that in the world, fails 50% of the time.  But with God, can succeed 100% of the time.  This is what we hang on to.  We spent hours writing our vows for each other.  And just minutes on where we would have dinner and what hotel would we stay at.  We decided on a chef’s table at Quartino and a weekend together at The Peninsula.

Three years ago I said yes, with confidence and faith that God has a perfect plan and it just so happened that the plan was one Rick and I were a part of.  I said yes to the marriage.  Yes to spending my life, in good times and in bad, with Rick.  For that moment, the unromantic, yet oddly perfect proposal, I am forever grateful.

P.S.  I took this picture in San Francisco this past weekend, to no coincidence.  I love Rick more than all the stars 🙂

Happy Blogaversary + New Ventures

blogaversary signI can’t beleive Ann Written Notes has been around for two years!  What a blast it has been.  I’ve learned a ton, I’ve received so many encouraging words from all of you and I’ve been able to give myself the space to write, to share, to be vulnerable and to laugh a little along the way.  I truly love this blog and love blogging.

And pretty soon I will be sharing what is next for AWR, what is next for my love for blogs.  I have been a bit MIA lately and partially that’s because life is crazy in general (I’m sorry, but where did summer go?!), but also because I have been working on my next blogging adventure which I am so excited about.  Hint – it’s channeling my passions a bit further with an all new look + feel.  Ahhh, it’s going to be so. much. fun!

Also, I was recently asked to help design an office space for a non-for-profit in Chicago which I am HONORED to be a part of.  It’s going to be a great challenge and one that I am up for and one that I want to put all my heart into.  More to come on that, too!

It’s been a privilege writing for all of you these last two years.  THANK YOU for your continued support, kind words and affirmation.  You guys are the best. readers. ever.  And here’s to many more years of inspiration, storytelling and sharing all the little things in life that I love 🙂

Happy Blogaversary, Ann Written Notes!


Travel Woes Worth Sharing

tired_womanAs I sit on the terrace of the Westin Milan reading a book by one of my favorite authors, she writes about her journey of being a writer. And she talks about as a writer, it’s important to write truth.  I was convicted by this and realized that as a person, I am a glass half full person which means, I generally communicate  the positive, happy truth.  However, I am an honest and fairly direct person so therefore, I do communicate things people may not want to hear.  Feedback that may hurt someone, but that comes from the heart, with good intention.  So if you have been reading my blogs, getting my Instagram pics, reading my FB posts, you will see all the beauty of our trip to Italy.  And other places I – or we – have traveled the last few months.  And beautiful, it was.  And beautiful traveling is.  But there is the other side of traveling that some people don’t talk about…the travel woes.  And as I now, ironically, sit 30,000 feet above ground on an American Airline flight to Boston, I am here to disclose some personal travel woes, to be honest, to communicate some truth about travel.

Yes, of course, traveling the world, traveling the country, taking road trips is fun, exciting, educational and freeing.  But, it’s not perfect, and it is certainly doesn’t happen without some level of suffering. Traveling through city after city after city, planes, trains and automobiles, can be ugly.  And tiring. And frustrating.

While in Italy, Rick and I rented a car and one of the days we were to drive 30 minutes and end up at an outlet mall outside of Florence.  2.5 hours later, we were sweating, irrational and still in the car, feeling like complete idiots having not found where we needed – okay wanted – to go.  And to top it off, we were running late to catch our train from Florence to Milan and ended up having to RUN through Florence, RUN through the train station with bags and bags and suitcases and backpacks and posters I didn’t want to bend and bottles of Prosecco that I didn’t want to break to BARELY make the train.  That was a low-light of Italy, for sure.  There is real stress that comes from missing a flight, from delayed flights, from cancelled flights, from getting lost, from being frustrated by who you are traveling with…it’s not always smooth sailing.

I travel for work and travel for leisure.  In both cases, I have a very hard time staying disciplined to eating healthy.  Case in point:  At the lovely O’Hare airport yesterday I tried so hard to find the best of the WORST options to eat lunch.  I landed on a quinoa veggie chili burrito from the food court at a placed named Burrito Beach that had 450 calories (vs. the 1,000 calorie meal from McDonalds that I really wanted).  I committed to not eating the whole thing as to come in at maybe 350 calories.  And this was a win for me, if you can believe that.  As a result of being on the road so often,  I am carrying 5-7 extra pounds of weight that I literally cannot get off to save my life.

And eating healthy is just the beginning of the love handles that create that great looking muffin-top I am rocking right now.  I am a physical person and generally enjoy working out and do it for my health and sanity.  I run.  I do yoga.  I play sports like volleyball and occasionally tennis.  But when I am on the road for work with meetings starting at 7:30 or 8am and events in the evenings (that inevitably have amazingly delicious unhealthy food like fried macaroni and cheese balls combined with cool cocktails and wine) it’s hard to stay in my workout routine that I have at home.  Often times I may pack my workout clothes and shoes to just have them sit sadly in my suitcase, getting no use whatsoever. #excusesexcuses

Switching gears, but still related, let’s talk about all the beautiful pictures I post when I am on vacation or traveling for work.  You know, for every super cute shot of Rick and me, there is 15-20 that I would be mortified showing anyone.  And for every mouth-watering food shot, there are dozens that are blurry, off-centered or just look absolutely disgusting and not worth sharing.  Or the moment you arrive at some really amazing landmark, the reason you have traveled thousands of miles and your memory card is full.  Or the double chins.  Or the pictures where you have to convince yourself that the camera DOES, in fact, add 5 pounds.  Or maybe it was the Panda Express I ate that literally added the 5 pounds.

Jokes and vanity aside, there are a couple more travel woes I want to share with you.  One actually came up this past weekend which is what prompted me to finish writing this post that I drafted in Milan.  Rick and I were at a party and a friend of ours came up to me to say hello and catch up.  One of the first things she said to me was “I am so envious of your trips, especially to Italy…” I am not sure about you, but I don’t want to be a person that someone is envious of.  Why?  First off, I am damaged goods saved by grace and my life and our trip to Italy wasn’t perfect and I don’t share those stories or photos for people to be envious.  I share to inspire.  I share to remind people of God’s creativity in this world.  I share to stay plugged in with family and friends that I otherwise would not be.  I share so that if someone were to travel to Italy or elsewhere, I can help them with their travel plans.  And secondly, as she talked about how she wishes her and her husband would have traveled more, traveled for longer period of times, prior to having their daughter, I looked at her and wanted to say, “I wish I could stay home, travel less and spend time with a daughter.”  It’s funny how life is.  She is pregnant and has one daughter and wants part of my life, the traveling part.  I am a global traveler without kids and would give anything to know  what it’s like to carry a baby in my belly, to give birth, to experience something so miraculous with Rick.

Finally, the toughest part of traveling is the literal and figurative distance that is created between Rick and me.  In fact, he and I were up until, oh 4am off and on the other night in a heated argument that had many parts to it, but one was my schedule.  While on one hand Rick and I are used to each other’s schedules and travel commitments, there are often times where it creates chaos in our marriage.  I am tired when I come home.  I am home for 4 days and leave again on the 5th day and during those 4 days, have 15 different things going on and forget to slow down and make room for the most important thing in my life…my marriage.  And sorry to be blunt, but, it’s pretty hard to have sex and try to get pregnant when I am hundreds of miles away from Rick.  I don’t care what anyone says, being on the road and away from your spouse is hard, can be the root of many arguments and a really difficult thing to ever get used to.

Yes, of course, I love to travel.  It is truly one of my most favorite passions in life for a multitude of reasons.  But it has many disadvantages and if I am being honest, as I promised I would be on this blog, there are days that I want to never get on an airplane again.  There are times I look at myself in the mirror, disappointed that my jeans are too tight and embarrassed by the bags under my eyes.  There are times that Rick and I have to see our therapist to help us work through communicating, lack of intimacy and pressures that come from our schedules.  There are times that I lie on my hotel room, in bed and wake up every hour because I can’t sleep.  And then I am crabby the next day.  And eat bad.  And drink too much wine.  Yeah, those moments are real.  Travel woes are real.  It’s not all roses and glitter.  Sometimes, it is sweaty and tiring and brutal and exhausting and sad and the source of fights in a marriage.

{photo credit: http://www.hotelchatter.com}

Note to Self: Just Do It

This past weekend got me thinking about goals.  And this bible verse couldn’t be more spot on as it relates to moving your goals to action.  Happy Monday and here’s to moving one step at a time!  #justdoit


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