Friday, September 19, 2014

Old San Juan: The Gallery Inn

If you've seen me at all this week (or talked to me on the phone, or texted me, or seen any of my social media...) then chances are pretty good that you've heard about my trip. (What trip? OH I'M SO GLAD YOU ASKED!) You probably inquired just to be nice, and then nodded politely while I gushed profusely about how "we practically had the entire island to ourselves, it was soooooo great, trip of a lifetime, blah blah, braggity brag". And while I'm a teeny tiny bit sorry about all my raving, truly I can'tstopwon'tstop talking about our vacation because I really really want you to hear every detail so you will be convinced to go too (and recreate every single magical moment for yourself because seriously it was just THAT AWESOME). We joke around here that Dustin is an alcohol pusher...Step onto our property (not even in the house!) for longer than three minutes and he's going to offer you a drink. He may not physically force one on you, but he will offer repeatedly until he's 100% sure you are not thirsty, and possibly never will be (otherwise- you're getting a drink just in case). Well it turns out I'm a vacation pusher. When I find someplace I like, I will wax poetically forever, or at least until I'm confident you've grasped the amazingness of my recent experience, and have been convinced, even in part, that you're considering it for your next trip. 

Prepare to get pushed. 
Because we just got back from somewhere pret-ty incredible, and I want to tell you ALL ABOUT IT. (I promise to keep the caps-lock shouting to a minimum).

Bowdenisms- Guide to The Gallery Inn, San Juan Puerto Rico

(Yeah, you're gonna wanna go ahead and pin that...on your "places you had no clue could even be real, but now you must go to immediately" board. )

Click on "read more" for the full details...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vieques Vieqation

The ninth wedding anniversary may not typically be the biggest milestone...but this year happened to be our first anniversary since 2010 where I would not be pregnant or that was a milestone in an of itself. I could drink! To excess! And jump off high stuff! (Not immediately after drinking to excess of course...but still!) We were once again free to be reckless- or at least as reckless as a parents of two can rationalize being. 

Once we determined that this was our year for a big trip, we debated for months where to go. I'll spare you the play by play of the agonizing back-and-forth, and just tell you what you already know: we settled on Puerto Rico, specifically Vieques- a small island off the east coast of PR. 

We have been supremely lucky over the years to go on awesome trips (even while pregnant and since having Piper) but this would be our first getaway since having Fin. We knew that if we were going to burden someone for a full week with TWO kiddos (thanks mom!!), we better make it a trip to remember. Plus, we wanted to take advantage of our freedom, and go somewhere that would be impossible, or at least way less fun, with kids- a remote an island off of another island seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
A friend recommended choosing a destination, booking a flight, and then watching VRBO or AirBNB for good last minute deals (owners sometimes get anxious when things aren't rented, and will cut you a deal because it's better than nothing). So we cashed in some flight miles, and researched our options (mostly through Trip Advisor) while we waited. Our plan was 5 days in Vieques, followed by 2 days in San Juan. (I had been to Puerto Rico in high school, but Dustin had never gone, and we were both new to Vieques). We scored a last minute rental house (seriously, the week before we left we still had no clue where we would stay. I decided to be as low key as possible, trusting it would all work out. And through a combination of luck, and off-peak availability, it all worked out!)

We shared snippets of our trip through Instagram (when we could get wi-fi,'s a US territory, so phone calls are easy, but international data/roaming etc. still apply so we kept that to a minimum to avoid hefty charges) but I thought I'd detail the trip more here for those of you interested in following in our footsteps. It really was the trip of a lifetime...I so highly recommend it, so I'm thrilled to share the specifics in hopes that someone else will get to experience a piece of what we did!

Bowdenisms guide to Vieques, Puerto Rico
(if everything worked right, which is a big IF, you should see a "pin it" button on the image above, when you hover over it. Go it. And then book it.)
 Click on "read more" for the full trip details...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Pip-speaks: G'mi's House

A couple quick Pips from her "trip" last week with the grandparents.

Pip-speak #1:
Piper: I miss Mommy and Daddy.
G'mi: I do too. How about two more G'mi & Papa days and then they'll come home?
Piper: Two like me! I am two, and then we tell each obber about our trips!
Pip-speak #2:
Piper: G'mi what are you going to do while I take a rest?
G'mi: Well Piper, I think I will clean up the kitchen, maybe read a little bit, and wait for you to wake up.
Piper: If you and Papa want to play while I sleep, it's ok G'mi. 

Pip-speak #3:
G'mi {seeing Piper spinning Fin around}: Be careful girls, someone is going to get hurt.
Piper: Yes, G'mi. It is going to be Fin.

P.s. you can check out all of the pip-ster's witticisms here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Show Your Real: Allie

Sometimes when I hang out with awesome people, I find myself hoping that maybe, just maybe, I'll soak up some of their cool. Like hipster osmosis. Or maybe I can just catch some of the talent runoff. Or possibly be considered by someone as cool by association. It doesn't really work. But it doesn't stop me from trying!

So I'm excited to be connected in any way with today's guest writer; Allie is about as cool as they come. She's about a million things I'm not (tiny, adorable in hats, self-employed...) and another million things I am- but better (designer, blogger, photographer). I maybe don't love the twinges of jealousy I have of her glam life, but I do love how she's always inspiring me, and knowing no matter how big a rock star she is, she's still humble to her core, passionate about loving people well, and a constant encourager of those around her. We'd be lucky to absorb even a little bit of that spirit.
I love keeping it real. Unless someone shows up at my house unexpectedly and I haven't cleaned in three weeks (which is all the time). I literally have said, "No you can't come in right now. My entire house is a disaster." I remember my friend looking at me, giggling as she tried to bypass my arm. She soon learned that I was 100% serious and a little part of me died in embarrassment. Just keeping it real, I suppose. 

Now that you know that about me, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Allie Lehman. I'm 27, married and I own a couple of businesses. I love working for myself but over the past two years, my real has felt surreal. My highs have felt quite high but my lows have felt pretty dark. 

Most people say that owning your own business is "so freeing." It's extremely true but they don't tell you how isolating it can be. You convince yourself that 14-16 hour workdays are normal and that you couldn't possibly spend an evening just relaxing. If you work more hours, you'll make more money! Work harder!

I can attest to the fact that if you believe these things and accept them as truth - you will find yourself without friends, quite stressed and pretty sad. I didn't understand that I was at this point until I reunited with one of my best friends in NYC. We spent the day at the park in Brooklyn catching up and I was actually being my old self. My husband (who's also my business partner) looked at me at the end of the day, shocked by my carefree spirit. I cried on the plane ride home because I knew that (besides my husband and my brother) I didn't really have any friends back home. 

To be fair, I did have friends but by that point I had been such a lousy friend that I didn't believe that any of them would have any interest in sticking around. Thank goodness I was wrong. As soon as the plane's wheels hit the ground, I promised myself that I would be the friend I wanted...NEEDED. It had to start with me being less selfish and embracing vulnerability. 

Over the past few months, I've been so blessed by my friends. The smallest things like texting all day about goofy things instead of burying my head in work brighten my week. Booking trips to see the ones who live too far and sending care packages enrich my life. I know that only 8-10 months ago, I would have seen those things as distracting. I want to go back in time and hug that version of myself. Because that's honestly all I really was looking for. Nobody talks about this part of entrepreneurship but I hope to continue to help people realize that they're not alone. 

PS: If I want to get more real, I can NEVER spell "entrepreneur." Ever. Thank goodness for autocorrect. 

Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often suface-cy interactions of social media. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the #showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me (cjsbowden at gmail dot com).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mighty Nine

Do you know what nearly a decade of marriage looks like?

Well for me...I suppose that depends on the day.

Some days it looks adventurous. Holding hands, running through life that it swirls with unexpected twists, and exhilarating turns.

Some days it looks comfortable. Two people in quiet, natural rhythm with each other.

Some days it looks romantic. Stolen glances, quick kisses...and long kisses. (ok. and some really long kisses).

Some days it looks chaotic. Scattered schedules. Scattered toys. Scattered thoughts.
Passionate. Familiar. Busy. Boring. Supportive. Harsh. Exciting. Steady. Friendly. Difficult. Loving.
It looks like all of that. Some days.

And on the very best days, it looks like this:

Two smiling faces, with a sea (alright...a man-made lake) of experiences already traveled, and a shared view of the sunny sights still to come. 

To me, this day, nine years of marriage looks pre-tty good. And it feels even better.

Happy Anniversary, my love. I think you're mighty fine.

{P.S. More sappy anniversary posts...}

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New look, new (to me) sounds

You see that there header? Awww yeaaah.

I was feeling the urge to mix it up around here a little bit. Nothing against graph paper (for real, how can you hate on tiny little orderly boxes?) but I had that theme for the last few years so it was time for a little refresh. So for the past few nights I've stayed up entirely too late wrestling with some HTML to get a few simple buttons looking "Not Janky" (that's a super technical web designer term, obvs). It's definitely not perfect, but hey, we don't do perfect around here. (we do do #showyourreal plugs, apparently) I like to think that I have at least decent design sensibility, but then at the same time I also know I'm a more plus more plus more plus stripes plus sparkles!! kind of person. So I tried to rein that in as much as possible, so no sparkles, but obviously I had to include the stripes at least.

Anyway, it seemed kind of anti-climatic to roll out a fancy new blog outfit, and not have any new content, so I thought while you click around here a little bit (maybe grab a button for your site while you're at it?) I'd give you some tunes to listen to.

I will never brag about either my taste in songs, or my ability to spot the next big musical thing...or really even my awareness of the fact that most things I think are new have actually been around for decades. But hey, I like what I like! And what I like, at least today, are hip-hop covers turned acoustic, retro booty dancing and anything where Dolly Parton prances around in black-and-white. So that's what you're getting.

The guy kills me. Every time.

How bad do you want to go to Dollywood right now? Scratch that, how bad do you want to go to Dollywood in the 90's right now?

Remember that time I played cello in the fifth grade? I could've been somebody.

ps. more music silliness in the archives. Warning- I really do mean silliness.