January 31, 2012

Gracie & Cooper: a love story


Once upon a time I dated a guy who had a dog.  That dog ended up knocked up with nine puppies, and I watched their birth on the evening of October 8th, 2005… the fall of my first semester in college.  Those births were amazing and disgusting and breathtaking all in one.

One of the puppies was Gracie.  She was third born and the first of only two girls, and as soon as I laid eyes on her I knew she was the puppy for me.  We bonded immediately, and my love for her has only grown every day since then.

2005_1016jenni0011 That ex boyfriend and I had two favorite puppies: Gracie and a little guy named Max.  Max was the sweetest and funniest puppy of all time, and while we gave away all of the other puppies, we couldn’t seem to give away Gracie, Max, or the sickly little runt of the litter we named Chance. 

So even though I wasn’t allowed to bring Gracie home with me (still lived with my Mom at the time), and even though the ex really couldn’t have any more dogs, we held onto these three puppies longer than we should have. And Gracie was the first to get sick.2006_0103puppiesetc20031It was New Year’s Day of 2006 when I took Gracie to the doggy emergency room and found out she had Parvo—because I didn’t get her shots soon enough. The vets told me Parvo is a deadly disease for dogs, and she probably wouldn’t make it even if they did everything they could to save her.  Then the vet asked me if she had littermates, and I told him about Max and Chance.  I learned that any un-vaccinated littermates would have the disease by now as well, even if they weren’t showing signs yet.

I was devastated. 

Essentially, I had to choose which puppy to save.  My ex was broke as a joke and I only had several thousand dollars of waiting tables money saved.  I couldn’t save all three, but a big chunk of my savings and 5 days of hospitalization later, Gracie survived.

Max and Chance passed before Gracie even came home from the hospital.  And every time I think of them I cry.

2006_0103puppiesetc20038^Max and Chance

2006_0103puppiesetc20034^Max the day he got sick. He was such a sweet little boy.

2006_0103puppiesetc20004^Gracie and Max (they were best buds) 

2006_0103puppiesetc20044copy ^Max and Chance

I could spend a lot more time describing just how horrible it was to lose those two sweet little ones, but this is meant to be a happy story, not a sad one.

So Gracie returned home at a mere 12 pounds—skin and bones, really, but she was alive!  And she continued to live with my ex while I still lived at home.  The mom dog had to be given away because she got really aggressive towards Gracie and other dogs in general (Gracie has a big scar between her eyes from where her mom bit her).

As time passed, though, Gracie became more and more neurotic when left alone.  She had severe separation anxiety, so whenever my ex or I left her, she would destroy everything in sight.  We decided to get her a “friend” in hopes this might help, and so began the search for the perfect addition to the pack.

About six animal shelters and a few days later, we wound up at one particular shelter after having looked at many dogs that didn’t seem like the right match for Gracie.  She is pretty dominant and we needed the perfect friend that wouldn’t try to be “alpha dog.”    So the ex and I were walking through the kennel, looking into the cages at the dogs, when suddenly I noticed that one of the kennel doors wasn’t shut all the way and the dog inside it was out and about to walk towards us! 

Nervously, I pointed to the dog and let the worker with us know that the dog was escaping! You just never know what the temperaments of these dogs are, and I didn’t feel like getting attacked. 

The worker put the dog back in his kennel and locked it securely, and we carried on looking at the dogs.  None of them stood out to me, though—except that one that got out. 

“Can we seem him?” I asked, pointing to “Kodak,” the black and white guy that nearly escaped when we arrived.

So the shelter worker put him on a leash and we followed her to the front.  She handed the leash to me, and I immediately sat down on the floor beside “Kodak” and began to pet him.

Instant love.  I knew immediately he was the one.  He literally collapsed into my lap as I pet him, like it was the best thing that had ever happened to him.

“We’ll take him!” I said. 

And a week later, after he was neutered, we did. We also found out he was 11 months old—the same exact age as Gracie. “Kodak” became “Cooper,” and we always commented about how much he looked like Max—such similar markings and close to how we thought Max would have looked when he grew up.  Plus, he and Gracie got along amazingly well.  They acted like old pals, and that was a pretty big deal since Gracie didn’t like most other dogs.

One day I was looking at pictures of all the puppies, and I commented to my ex that Cooper looked a whole lot like one of the other brothers we had named Oreo, but gave away fairly quickly.  “The markings all look so similar! Do you think this could somehow be the same dog?!”  I asked.

My ex said no.  He noticed that the ears were different colors than Cooper’s ears now, so we never really studied other markings.  Regardless, Cooper became one of the most loved dogs in the world, and Gracie’s best friend. It wasn’t until four years later that I discovered the truth.

Fast forward to 2010. Matthew and I were just married, and I was showing him pictures of all of Gracie’s brothers and sisters after they were born.  “Look how much this puppy looks like Cooper! It’s how I imagine he would have looked when he was a puppy!” I told Matthew.

He squinted at the screen and said, “Oh my gosh… are you sure that ISN’T Cooper?  He looks identical!”

“Nope… can’t be.  Look—the ears are different.”

“Well look at Gracie when she was a puppy! She had a white spot almost between her eyes, but when her head grew it ended up on the back of her neck! His ears could have changed!” And then we studied the rest of the markings—something I’d never done before. 

Every single one matched up, besides the ears.  Impossible!  It HAD to be the same dog!



So all along, Cooper was Oreo, and Gracie's brother.  Now it makes perfect sense.  God sent me Cooper to replace my sweet boy Max, and to be the friend that Gracie needed.  I'm not sure how his previous owners could have possibly given him up, but their loss is my gain.  I adore him, and Gracie too.  Words can't even express how much--they've been with me through so much, and are always the brightest little spots in my life.

Funny how fate works out sometimes, eh? Here's a little tribute to Gracie and Cooper. Hope this love story made you smile!  It is 100% true. :)

January 30, 2012

Another epic “blate”

Last night I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Celine of Starbies and Sangrias, my future fellow Austinite and doctor BFF.  We met at Clive Bar downtown (a really cool spot), and she brought her husband and I brought my mace gun (which I test-fired into the bathtub before I left then proceeded to nearly choke to death on the fumes).  Better safe than sorry.

The below is what happens when you mix a couple of crazy bloggers who just met with a little bit of alcohol (and the Pocketbooth app on the iPhone):

(sorry these are so tiny!  they were too blurry if I made them bigger… boo.)


No but seriously now, here’s a normal, less awkward picture:

Jan 30 074-2

Lesson here? Blogger dates are the best. Go on one.

What brings you back?

Earl Grey 001-1

Are there any fragrances that bring you back?  Like, really bring you back.  Make you feel something you once felt, like you’re back there feeling it all over again.

There are a lot of things that do that for me, but one that really stands out is Earl Grey tea.  Who knew a fragrance could be so powerful?  The smell literally transports me back to the Ritz Carlton in New York City where I sipped it on cozy afternoons in our suite on the seventh floor.  I associate that scent so strongly with my perch on the window seat in that fabulous room, gazing out at 6th Avenue and Central Park below, tears running down my cheeks as I wondered how I ever got so lucky.

It also reminds me of chilly nights in Hawaii—especially one night in particular, when Matthew and I dined outside and watched a breathtaking fire show.  I was cold, and I ordered some Earl Grey tea. I still remember how good and warm it felt going down, and how nice it smelled, and how happy I was.  

I didn’t always love Earl Grey, though.  In fact, our relationship started out quite rocky, before I ever tried it.  For the longest time it reminded me of a particularly annoying customer at the restaurant where I used to wait tables. He was one of those older men that thought he was reeeally hip and cool, and would roll up in his SUV with the bass blaring, like he wanted everyone to know he was coming.  Every single time he came in for breakfast he would ask if we had Earl Grey tea, and every single time I would tell him no.  Still don’t have Earl Grey tea. Only Orange Pekoe.  Just like last time and all the times before. 

So whenever I used to think of Earl Grey tea, I thought of that guy at the restaurant and how I sort of wanted to punch him in the face.  But then I tried it one day in New York City, on a trip a man I hardly knew surprised me with (that man is now my husband).  And Earl Grey will always be the fragrance of my very fondest memories.

What brings YOU back?

January 29, 2012

Best of Instagram, Week 4

Did this weekend FLY by for anyone else? It sure did for us.  We’re about to enjoy another lazy Sunday afternoon of movies and muffins and maybe monopoly (whoa, did you catch that unintentional alliteration?), but first—here is my week in iPhone pictures.  Leave your link below, if you’d like! (there it is again.)

week 4 7

1. Cooper prefers to be belly-up.
2. Gracie and her shiny lip.

week 4 1

3 & 4. This week’s nail color: Zoya “Megan” and Victoria’s Secret “Crystal Shimmer.”

week 4 3

5 & 6. An organized office—finally! It feels good.

week 4 2

7. Me and my red wellies were prepared for that puddle.
8. DSLR 1 class from Chimpsy!  Very helpful and informative.

week 4 4

9 & 10. More of my sweet babies.

week 4 6

11 & 12.  Is it just me, or is it even harder to spend money when you have a gift card?  I went out to spend both my Madewell and Pottery Barn gift cards this week, and I had even more buyer’s anxiety than normal. How silly.

week 4 5 

13. Trailer eats in Austin.  Passed by this one in photography class and couldn’t help but snap a picture.
14. Dinner at Moonshine last night… one of our favorite restaurants here in Austin.


Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

January 27, 2012

in need of valentine’s day gift ideas for your man? look no further.

February is a BIG month for me and Matthew.  The 5th is his birthday, the 7th is our 2 year anniversary, and obviously the 14th is Valentine’s Day.  This year we’re thinking about a staycation to save some dolla-dolla, and I’ve also been trying to come up with some creative (low-cost!) gift ideas.  Matthew likes thoughtful gifts, but the problem is… weeeell… I’m not that thoughtful.  I’m the kind that prefers to fork over the dough for an expensive gift because a) it requires less thought and b) you’ll HAVE to like it, because it was expensive! Right?!

Enter my incredibly sweet and creative friend Kristin over at Kristin’s Veranda.  She’s one of those girls that puts the rest of us to shame with her thoughtfulness—I have encountered it again and again.  And when I saw she was selling these sweet little Valentine’s Day packages for 20 bucks each and realized this could be that ticket to an inexpensive, thoughtful gift I so desperately needed, I was ALL OVER THAT.  And I thought you guys might like it too.  She has all kinds of patterns so you can customize to your guy’s tastes (I chose tools for Matthew since she didn’t have one with guns).  And not to worry… I forbade him from reading this post so not to spoil the surprise. :) If you’re interested, go here for more details!

Happy Friday everyone, and don’t forget to have your Best of Instagram pictures ready for Sunday!

Jan 27 035-2 Jan 27 038-2

January 26, 2012


Lately I’ve been having difficulty getting the words out.  My thoughts are disjointed paragraphs, and maybe that’s a reflection of life right now. 

Lately I’ve been studying Gracie and Cooper’s faces, hoping I won’t find any signs of aging—but I do.  And I think it’s the cruelest joke of all that man’s best friend doesn’t live nearly as long as man. 

Jan 26 053-3

I cry often lately.  Can’t blame it on PMS either (or pregnancy—might as well throw that out there).    Maybe it’s just change.

Lately I’ve had a strong desire to get organized and finish projects. I think it’s an important step that needs to be taken before other, bigger steps.

Office Jan 25 038-1

Lately I’ve realized that I can only do me.  I can’t do someone else.  But I can sure do a better me than anyone else can. 

Lately I’ve been placing happy little things in strategic places where I know I’ll see them, and I know they’ll make me smile.

Jan 26 034-3what can I say, I love cool rocks.

Projects Jan 25 056-1obviously.

Jan 26 019-4 Expecto Patronum—from here. (a reminder of our power over circumstances and fear)

Lately I have been happy, despite sometimes being sad.

And lately, I think I’m realizing that’s key—accepting life as it comes at you, every single day.  Some days will be better than others.  Some days (like yesterday! sheesh!) you will just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and stay there the entire day, and on days like that, it’s important to just treat yourself, if you can.  To celebrate life by doing something that you love (like watching Harry Potter… not that I did that), and understand that tomorrow is another day and a new chance. 

Today is that new chance. And I’m happy to take it.

January 24, 2012

Photography tips in your inbox!

chimpsy my little baby. (camera strap from here)

I just wanted to make you guys aware of a new campaign by Chimpsy called Shoot In Manual.  It’s a completely FREE occasional email sent to you straight from Chimpsy and its founder Mark Cafiero himself, who is an AMAZING photographer (check out his website here!). The goal is to get people to pledge to learn and use the manual settings on their DSLR cameras.  And did I mention that this service is FREE?   I know I, personally, can use all the free help I can get, so I was all over this.  Sign up here!

I feel most beautiful in…

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Pheeew, aren’t you glad Blue Monday is over?  Things can only look up from here! ;P

For your information, I’m guest posting over at Running on Happiness today.  The prompt was “I feel most beautiful in…” and I TRIED to come up with something deeply meaningful, but I just couldn’t.  Also, I managed to work in a Twilight reference.  You’re welcome.

Oh, and Katie? My host? She’s, like, the hottest blogger in Blogland, and she’s cool and nice, to boot. You should be reading her, and probably hating her a little.  It’s ok, we all do it. Head on over.


January 23, 2012

The most depressing day of the year (and, to ease the pain, a giveaway!)

Outfit Jan 23 115-2Did you know that today is the most depressing day of the year?  I didn’t either until I heard that on the news the other day...  and thank goodness they told us, because I would have been confused if I’d woken up this morning not knowing why I was so damn depressed. 

Just kidding.  No, but really!  Some experts have declared January 23rd of 2012 to be “Blue Monday,” the date on which a combination of weather, the passage of Christmas, holiday debt, and failed New Year’s resolutions all catch up to us and we start feeling really, really crappy.  There is some debate that last week, the 16th, may have been Blue Monday, but I’m going with what I heard on the news. Today is the day.

In honor of Blue Monday, I incorporated blue into my outfit which, consequently, is quite springy in nature thanks to unusually warm temperatures here in Texas.  If you’re feeling a bit down today, I hope you won’t do anything too drastic.  It’s scientific people.  You simply cannot help it.  

Personally, I think what you need is some red lipstick. And maybe a super bright colored scarf.  Oh! And free shoes from Blowfish!  Any shoes of your choosing!   Might turn out to be a great day, after all. :)  (giveaway below!)

Outfit Jan 23 038-1

Outfit Jan 23 078-1My pants are glowing.

Outfit Jan 23 097-2Love these. Super comfy.

Outfit Jan 23 112-2{ pants, shirt, scarf: J.Crew, necklace: Stella and Dot, bracelets: F21, shoes: c/o Blowfish, bag: Kate Spade, lipstick: L’oreal Colour Riche in “true red” }

To win your choice of shoes from Blowfish, enter below!

+ Visit Blowfish and leave a comment letting me know what pair of shoes you’d choose if you won!

For extra entries (all separate comments):
+ Like Blowfish on Facebook
+ Like Story of My Life on Facebook
+ Follow Blowfish on Twitter

The contest is open to international readers, and a winner will be chosen next week! Happy Blue Monday everyone.  Let’s CELEBRATE! :)

January 22, 2012

Best of Instagram, week 3 (+ link-up!)

As promised, Best of Instagram is back, and I’ve attached a Linky Tool to the bottom of this post!  Add a link to your own post anytime this week if you’d like… or not.  I won’t be devastated if you don’t.  (or will I?)

As I mentioned before, you definitely don’t have to have Instagram to participate… I hear there are some cool Android apps OR you could just use regular cell phone pictures.  I should probably come up with a better, more all-encompassing name for this post, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. ;)

I noticed that a lot of my pictures this time around were of food, signifiying an exceptionally lame week, but I tried to pick a nice little assortment for today’s post.  Without further ado, here are some of my best Insta-shots of the week!

week 3 4

1. My workspace (do not be fooled—the other side of the room is a complete disaster).
2. This week’s nail color – L’oreal “caught red handed” with gold glitter on top.

week 3 2

3. Delish, Austin cupcakery. (THE best)
4. Oreo double stuf. And Gracie.

Week 3 1
5. Veggies and fruit about to be juiced. (I don’t own a juicer—this was over at my mom’s)
6. Green.

week 3 3

7. One of my favorite notebooks—from here.
8. Just-because gift from my best friend.  The Hogwarts Express is on it.  Enough said. (from here)

week 3 5
9. Pre-workout breakfast.
10. Delicious lunch out at La Madeleine.

Week 3 6 
11. This happened last night.  I lost quite badly.
12. Received this photo in a text from Matthew.  The caption read: “whale vagina.” Only my husband. (oh, yours too?)

I think we’ll end on a positive note.  Happy Sunday everyone! :)

*Suggestion for link-up: include your name or a brief description of your  photos where it says to enter your link title—that way not everyone’s title is “best of Instagram” or something similar.  And be sure and go make new friends with others who may link up! :)

January 21, 2012

Notice anything different? ……anything at all?

Hello my friends.  You MIGHT have noticed a bit of a change in the scenery took place here last night… and I must say, I’m obsessed. 

I recently contacted my good pal Dana from Wonder Forest about redoing my layout, and basically I’ve been a nervous wreck ever since then. SOMEBODY is a liiiittle bit of a control freak, especially when it comes to her precious baby blog, and handing it over to someone else to recreate was no easy feat. I told Dana as exactly what I wanted as possible, then crossed my fingers and hoped I would love it.

This past Wednesday I was treating myself to a nice quiet lunch out, enjoying a delicious salad and creamy potato soup, when halfway through I checked my email on my phone to find that Dana had sent me the first preview of my design!  A jolt of sheer terror washed over me and I suddenly lost my appetite and nearly threw up my soup as I waited for the preview to load.  What if I hate it?  What if it’s not what I asked for? What if I have to ask her to change it and then she hates me for all eternity? PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGodmakeitawesomepleeeeeeeeease!

And then the preview finally loaded, and….. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! I absolutely love it. Dana did exactly what I asked for, except even better than I imagined it in my head.  I would highly recommend her services to anyone who asks—her level of experience and imagination is completely impressive, and I just wanted to say that it makes a big difference to hire someone who truly knows their stuff.  Dana has a super wide variety of design experience in her extended portfolio, and can really do absolutely anything you ask her to.   So if you’re in the market for a new design, I’d strongly consider going with Wonder Forest… or if you’re not, definitely go check out Dana’s amazing blog and shop.  This girl just oozes creativity, and I’m happy to count her among my friends. :)

Oh, and real quick.  About the ANTLERS.  I know that’s unique.  Why antlers, you ask?  Well, first off, they’re kind of a cool and trendy thing right now, but more importantly they are a symbol of the home and husband I love so dearly—two very important aspects of the “story of my life.”  We sort of have antlers all over our house (many still attached to heads…. SAD DAY), and so I felt it appropriate to include them in my header here as well.  Matthew approved! :)

So, what do you guys think of the new design?? Ehhh?? EHHHHH?? 

Happy Saturday!

January 20, 2012

Sunday link-up + Blogger Highlight

Good Friiiiiiiiday morning!  Did you know that it’s Friday? Yep, it is.  And I just completed my first week of waking up at 6:00-6:30 AM every.single.morning and making ish happen, y’all.  We’ll see if such productivity is sustainable for the long term.

Also, get your Best of Instagram/cell-phone photos ready for Sunday afternoon, cause there’ll be a link-up!  I know now that there’s a similar link up out there, but not aired on Sunday afternoon.  And not on Story of My Life.  BAM.  Feel free to copy the way I format the post (see past here—I use Picnik.com for the collages), or come up with something of your own.  There are no rules!

Anywho, today I’d like to introduce three fab sponsors of this here blog, so let’s get to it!

* * * * *

First up is Celine, the blogger mastermind behind Starbies and Sangrias.  Celine is a DOCTOR currently living in Portland but about to relocate to AUSTIN, and while I tried to tell her that we cannot be friends since she’s a doctor and way cooler than me, upon exchanging several emails I fear that we are destined to be BFFs.  Chick is funny.  And pretty. And smart.  And a doctor. And an awesome blogger.  No fair. 


* * * * *

Next is adorable miss Valerie from the blog Southern CupcakeValerie is a college student and hails from the great state of Louisiana where she blogs about her love for vintage, fashion, crafting, cooking and baking, and overall being sweet and awesome.  Doesn’t she have the perfect smile?


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 And last but certainly not least is beautiful Stephanie of Stephanie and Such!  Stephanie is funny and sweet as pie, resides in Utah, and blogs all about her life and loves and adventures in dating.  This post made me laugh out loud. You will love this girl! 


Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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Enjoy your weekend everyone!


January 19, 2012

On this day, three years ago

jan19 January 19th date necklace, c/o Stella Collections (use coupon code Jenni25 for 25% off!)

On this day, three years ago, I woke up in a rented little house I paid for waiting tables.  The walls were cold in that little house, and I snuggled with my puppies every night so we’d all stay warm.

On this day, three years ago, my three and a half year relationship had just ended, and I was feeling lost.

On this day, three years ago, it was Martin Luther King Day and a university holiday—it was my second to last semester of college.

On this day, three years ago, I met a friend for breakfast—a date that had been rescheduled since it didn’t work out the first try. 

On this day, three years ago, I was running late (typical)… but the timing was still perfect.

On this day, three years ago, paths were crossed in a funny little turn of fate.  I didn’t know it then, but one year later I’d be married to that blue eyed man I met out in the parking lot.  My best friend.

On this day, three years ago, the entire course of my life changed direction.  Matthew, I hope to someday be someone who deserves you, and to be what you deserve.  You make me better everyday.  I am so grateful.

Funny all that can happen in a single day, isn’t it.

“I have learned to listen to my heart.  I have learned that if you never make room for better things and better ways to be, if you never clear out the things in your life that stand in the way of your happiness, then you are not aligning your universe to allow for amazing things.   In this life, you don’t find yourself.  You create yourself.  And the same goes for love: you don’t find love, you create a road for love to travel and wait for it to come.”  Full love story here.


PS – The date necklace pictured above is one of my favorites and would make a fabulous gift (guys—Valentine’s Day… ehhh?)  Be sure and use the coupon code Jenni25 for 25% off!  :)

January 18, 2012

I should have been a Cullen.

YOU GUYS. My mom and I went out and took some pictures last night and HOLY WHITENESS.  Upon reviewing said pictures, I realized that I have, indeed, become so pale that it appears I am literally bloodless and could pass for a stone cold vampire, especially while wearing blood red lipstick as pictured below.  I’m not sure if I feel awesome about this or slightly terrified. I think it may be a confusing mixture of both.

Point is, this girl needs to find herself a legit looking spray tan, stat.  I’m trying to give up tanning, and it’s NOT easy!


I also wanted to mention how amazing it feels to find the perfect shade of lipstick.  Especially when it costs 5-7 dollars at your local Target/Walmart/HEB/pharmacy.  I’ve never been a lipstick person (primarily because I’ve always thought I look all kinds of ridiculous in it), but the winds of change are blowing, people.  And I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. :)

Paint colors and hunters 122-2-2 I vant to suck your blood…

Paint colors and hunters 145-1Nope, it wasn’t raining.  Nope, I didn’t care.

Paint colors and hunters 114-1    Paint colors and hunters 158-1

Paint colors and hunters 129-1

{ Belt, gingham shirt, pants, and necklace: J.Crew, Jacket: Loft (last season), Boots: Hunter (duh!), Bag: Kate Spade (similar here), Bracelets: F21,  Lipstick: L’oreal Colour Riche “true red” }

Happy Hump Day everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!


PS – If anyone is in the market for Hunters, go a size down!  They run big.  I usually wear a 6 1/2 or 7, but I got a 6 and they fit perfectly. :)

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