handstand

best of 2015

2015 has been quite the year. There have been ups and downs and some more ups. So in honoring #brassblossom tradition (my Best of 2014) and listening to some very wise words from one of my greatest confidants, here is what I consider to be the best of the best of 2015, because when it is all said and done there were a whole lot of bests!

1. best personal achievement – actually going to grad school. This past year I was going to Graduate School at the University of Washington, then I deferred for a year, then with about two months to figure it all out I decided to go again. This was a very “un-Taylor” thing to do but I managed to throw it all together and make it work. It wasn’t always pretty, involved several frantic calls and quite a few tears but I’m not homeless, I love school and I’m so happy that I have found a new normal. So cheers to being a Ducksky (Duck + Husky = ??) and making it work!

beautiful seattle skyline

beautiful seattle skyline

go ducks!

go ducks!

2. best words of wisdom – do you. I can’t even remember where the wisdom of “do you” actually came to me from. But it’s pretty simple. Just “do you.” When things really suck, or when things are frantic and everything is spinning out of control or when all is peachy remember “do you.” It has been my mantra for most of the year and I constantly remind myself that I can’t be anyone worthwhile to myself or anyone else if I don’t “do” myself first. Especially when you don’t know which way is up, just simply focusing on yourself and how you can serve yourself and make yourself be who YOU want to be gives you a fighting chance. Just do what serves your soul, your needs and our unmet desires at that time. Because no one else can do it for you. At least in my highly valuable opinion….

IMG_6060

3. best recipe – homemade ice-cream cake. There are few ways to describe this homemade ice-cream cake that don’t involve swearing due to shear enthusiasm. Point being this cake is phenomenal, it’s so easy to make and will knock the socks off of everyone who has the pleasure of laying their lusting eyes on it. Make it! I promise you wont regret it!

so nom nom nom

so nom nom nom

4. best book – dear sugar. By far the best book I read this year was Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. It is a book of advice letters and even when you totally cannot in the slightest way relate to the person who is seeking advice, you will get something if not everything out of the stories and advice. Cheryl Strayed speaks directly to your soul in such a frank way. She manages to sum up life, the universe and everything in her words.

9k=

5. best trip – okinawa, japan. Hands down the most fabulous adventure I was lucky enough to take this year was to the Okinawa islands in Japan with my cousin and aunt. We had an incredible time wandering, exploring and not being able to speak or understand a word of Japanese. Plus there were lots of handstands so you cant go wrong with that. There were so many laughs and I cant tell you how happy I am to have such great travel buddies in my life! 

IMG_0103

you can yoga even in japan

IMG_0107

two of the best travel buddies!

two of the best travel buddies!

6. best adventure – mount borah. Hands down, climbing/hiking/scaling the side of the mountain on Mount Borah was my favorite hike of the year. It was humbling, pretty scary at times, incredible to sit at almost the top and enjoy some Bri and champagne and extremely frightening how sunburnt we all got. By far the best #brassblossom adventure in Idaho!

cheers to almost the top!

cheers to almost the top!

so close to the sky

so close to the sky

IMG_1675

7. best clothing buy – j.crew jumpsuit. Once again my favorite purchase of the year was a jumpsuit, this j.crew jumpsuit to be exact. I just love jumpsuits. Like really, really, really love jumpsuits. I keep thinking about branching out from my jumpsuit obsession but I mean you just can’t go wrong with a jumpsuit for any occasion (except if you have to pee really badly…then things get dicey). So I have decided that life is too short so I might as well just continue to adore jumpsuits.

IMG_3916

<3

8. best beauty buy – clarisonic. I was given a Clarisonic by my wonderful aunt (who thus far has made the list twice!) for my birthday and I am obsessed with it. I use it daily in the shower and relish the minute of using it. I was actually disgusted at apparently how bad I am at washing my face after I used the brush after washing my face one night and got so much grossness on it. So if you’re looking for a clean face in 2016 get a Clarisonic.

so fresh and so clean!

so fresh and so clean!

love the color

love the color

9. best local find – idaho dreaming dreamcatcher. I searched high and low for a dream catcher this year to bring only sweet dreams to the boy, Maude Pod and I. And I ironically found the perfect one so close to home. This Idaho Dreaming Dream Catcher was by far my favorite purchase of the year. And since you all need a dream catcher for a stellar 2016, make sure to check out their Etsy Shop for the dream catcher of your dreams!

IMG_5090

love everything about this

love everything about this

10. best party – game dinner 2015. The Game Dinner 2015 that Krista hosted this Spring was my favorite party of the year. There was a TON of game meat, good food and lots of giggles had by all. But really why it was my favorite party (other than the slew of antlers that decorated the table and ribbon chandelier that created the perfect juxtaposition of feminine and masculine) was the fact that it was the first time that life seemed to resemble what it once had been, in a new normal kinda way. We were all surrounded by pure love and it truly brought new meaning to friends that are family. 

the boys <3

the boys ❤

the table

the table

the chandelier

the chandelier

11. best craft – diy wooden banner. I just love a good craft project and this DIY Wooden Banner was by far my favorite project. Perhaps it was because it had a bit of sentimental value to me but making wooden banners to express some love and cheer because one of my favorite things to do. Plus using a wood burner makes you feel like a badass. 

IMG_0189

IMG_0372_3

12. best gift – s’well bottle. I received a s’well bottle as a birthday gift from my mom after lusting over the one that Krista had. This water bottles are pretty much amazing. They are sleek, come in fabulous colors (hello metallics!) and make sure your drink stays fresh. These bottles were definitely #brassblossom’s go to gift this year and for good reason! You won’t even regret buying one for yourself as a much deserved cheers to 2016!

IMG_8667

13. best newest additions – goats! Of course the goats made the list! I think I will forever refer to last summer as “the summer of the goats.” The goats brought so much laughter, snuggles, gallons of milk and love into our lives. So thankful for the craziness, spunk and googling of what to do with goats that they bring to our lives!

crazy goats!

crazy goats!

IMG_2427

goat selfies

goat selfies

someone loves her goat herd

someone loves her goat herd

14. best “i couldn’t live without you people” – each and everyone of you. I admit it, again this is a total stretch of a category but there have been so many friends, confidants and general strangers who give me so much strength, wisdom and room to just let my feelings out this year. I most definitely wouldn’t be standing where I am today without you all. And a very special thank you to all of my lady friends. Those are the fierce ones! So thank you for all the times you all listened, gave me the love I needed, shoveled for us, went on a hike, simply just sat in silence and gave me a push/shove in some direction, regardless of where that might be.

And the biggest best “i couldn’t live without you…” to my wonderful mother who manages to be the most loving and steadfast person I know. She manages the most unlikely of tasks and always puts me back together. I hope to one day be a slightly more organized, half of the woman that she is. ❤

IMG_9629

IMG_9778

the hunters do clean up nice
IMG_6954

15. best boy – the boy. Ughhhh, so cheesy but I just have to say it. The boy wins the year for being the most outrageous, stubborn, indomitable, kinda want to sucker punch him sometimes for being crazy, greathearted boy around. I wrote last year that we had an incredible 2014 and little did we know but 2015 was just going to one up us. So cheers to another year of having the boy by my side, healthy and happy new ventures, many more Maude Pod and goat kisses and a fabulous 2016!

IMG_2115

IMG_9167

my loves ❤

2016 life goals: 

Like the past couple of years, I continued my 2015 goal list on my iPhone notes. I love the fact that these “notes” go with me everywhere and can be altered, added to or checked off with a selfie high-five at a moments notice. All in all I feel like I did pretty well for my 2015 goals despite the craziness. But moving forward I want to refocus my goal setting…

I heard an amazing sentiment in hot yoga this last week that I want to bring with my into the New Year. It was the idea of using the Winter and Summer equinox as a time to reset. So with the first day of the days growing longer or shorter you begin working towards whatever your heart desires. Then you progressively work more towards whatever that is so it’s a progression. Aka: you don’t have to be perfect at the beginning of your resolution.

But besides reading more books for pleasure and mastering my handstand, what I want to channel in 2016 as the days get longer are the “four agreements”. I heard about the four agreements from a wise soul and feel like they are just what my 2016 “life goals” need. I need to read up more on the agreements but below are the agreements that I hope to continually refocus on in 2016!

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and joyous New Year. Cheers to 2016!

taylor brass

brass blossom

weekend love it – japan jet lag & indulgences

This past week has been a whirlwind. I got back from Japan (more about that to come) just in time to have one day to get organized and then I was back to work and a busy week full of indulgences. I had family in town and felt a bit insatiable when it came to food and social events this week. I also felt a bit out of it (probably due to jet lag, but I can’t really complain since I was in Japan!) all week so I plan on getting a bit more R&R and healthiness in this week.

Here is everything that I have been loving!

1. japan. My trip to Japan was incredible. But how could it have been anything less than incredible with amazing company, adventuring with no real destination, slight culture shock and a bit of sunshine? As amazing as all of those things were I think the best part about Japan was simply living in the moment of where I was. More about my travels in a post to come.

Here are a few photos as a tease!

new places, new friends

new places, new friends

IMG_0093

IMG_0103

IMG_0356

IMG_0483

handstanding all over the world

handstanding all over the world

IMG_0651

2. orange is the new black. When Season Two of Orange is the New Black came out last summer, I binged watch the entire season in like two days. I saw no sunshine, no social events and pretty much ignored the boy for a solid two days for just one more episode. And it was worth it.

I am ecstatic about Season Three coming out June 12th and have blacked out my calendar for another binge watching extravaganza. Anyone is welcome. Bring snacks. Believe me, if you get past the first episode you will likely give up your first born for just one more episode.

3. beautiful ruins. I received Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter a few months ago when I was pretty much incapable of focusing on anything. I recently got around to picking it up and adored this book. It isn’t really a strenuous read but keeps you engaged with all of the different story lines. It is definitely a good summer read and leaves you with that feel-good feeling.

BeautifulRuins_small-330

4. kentucky derby & hats. I have always genuinely liked the Kentucky Derby. I don’t really like horses or horse racing in general but I do quite like the Kentucky Derby. Maybe it’s the hype of the event and all of those hats or maybe it’s the hope of rooting for the underdog (c’mon, everyone loved Seabuiscuit), but I get giddy for the event each year.

This year, our good friend Abbey hosted a birthday celebration for the main man in her life that coincided with the Kentucky Derby. Derby attire was optional but obviously Krista and I went all out and created some diy derby-inspired hats to wear. Unfortunately I missed the actual derby but celebrated in style and enjoyed some sunshine, a fabulous dinner and birthday cheer. Happy birthday, Zac!

diy derby hats

diy derby hats

sunshine & horses

sunshine & horses

love these ladies

love these ladies

dysfunction

the crowning

IMG_1005

happy birthday zac!

happy birthday, zac!

5. royal baby. Like the Kentucky Derby, I am kinda obsessed with the Royal Family for no particular reason. Everyone needs several guilty pleasures in life. I pretty much think Duchess Kate is the definition of perfect, so her passing-on her perfection essentially ensures I can be obsessed with another generation of royalty and leave the baby making up to William and Kate.

I adored Kate’s going home dress and cannot wait to find out the name of the little Princess (I wrote this before the name was announced and absolutely love Charlotte Elizabeth Diana)! Also the Princess happened to be born on the 17th Anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. That pretty much puts her at number one in my book.

Lindo_kate_eddie_p_3289551b

perfection

6. hot yoga. In an attempt to get back into somewhat of a routine, I have gotten back into hot yoga the past two weekends. I hadn’t gone to hot yoga for four months (which was far too long) and didn’t necessarily miss it. But the second I got back on the mat in the heat I remembered why I love it and need it. I love the heat, the humidity and the zen. Even though most people look at you with the most uncomfortable look on their face when you invite them to hot yoga, it’s a wonderful place.

I would encourage you all to give it at least a few chances, because the first class is slightly unbearable. But I honestly think it is a state of mind because I have grown to be addicted to practicing while sweating profusely. After each class I feel cleansed, cleared and ready to take on the world (or just about).

you can yoga even in japan

a little yoga in japan

taylor brass

brass blossom

weekend love it – globe trotting & gratitude

I have super exciting news. Like take a seat news. I am off to Okinawa, Japan. Yay!! I slightly hinted about my upcoming travels in my last weekend love it (because I just couldn’t resist) and have pretty much been thinking and talking about Japan since I booked my ticket.

Spontaneous would likely never be a word anyone would use to describe me. But when my aunt invited me to tag along to Okinawa with her and my cousin I just couldn’t say no. One thing that I have come to terms with this year (and not willingly) is that life keeps keeping on regardless of if you are on board. Four months ago I imagined I would be prepping binders and color-coded folders for grad school and not jet setting off to Japan for the vacation of a lifetime. But life happens. I don’t know if I will ever go as far to say I’m blessed to have experienced what has happened thus far in 2015 but I will say that I am gracious. I am gracious for my current status, mindset, physical location and supposed projected course in life.

So with that exciting news out of the bag, here is what I have been loving!

1. globe trotting – okinawa, japan. Japan has not once ever been a destination that I have thought about going to. But after doing a bit of research, I literally cannot wait to touch down in Okinawa. Something else that I am looking forward to is just checking out and enjoying what our travels have to offer. I have downloaded several books, packed my bag and am just along for the ride at this point. Plus sitting on a beach with incredible company and a view that is worthy of a postcard won’t be half bad either.

A post-travel blog post will definitely be in order!

7201_01b

okinawa_map

2. yoga girl. One of my good friends who is not only brilliant but also beautiful on the inside and outside recommended that I read (and stalk) Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen after reading my last post. This friend has also been dealt her fair share of “wtf life” and come out on the other side with such an amazing soul and outlook on life (and she isn’t just all rainbows and sunshine either, which I just so appreciate, she is real life). So when she recommended this book and that I checkout Rachel Brathen on Instagram, I knew it had to be good. Maybe it’s the yoga and all the gratitude speaking but it felt like one of those signs from the universe pointing me to exactly what I needed.

So after a probably not so healthy stalking of Yoga Girl’s Instagram I ordered her book. I have thus far loved following Rachel Brathen on Instagram and reading her blog and cannot wait to dive into her book on the plane. Go follow her on Instagram (if not only for some amazing pictures) for some self love and restoration because everyone needs it at one time or another.

yoga girl by rachel braken

yoga girl by rachel brathen + white vacation nails

3. bikini. Growing up swimming competitively I have a true appreciation for swimsuits. I searched for the perfect bikini for my travels and at the last minute came across this beautyI had never heard of Khongboon Swimwear before and discovered them on Instagram (by far my favorite form of social media). I was immediately smitten by the style of their suits and the fun patterns. Think Mikoh bikinis + amazing patterns at half the price.

Unfortunately the bikini I ordered didn’t arrive in time for my trip, but a trip to Japan can simply not be ruined by a bikini. And perhaps it was for the best though as I was e-mailed just after my order shipped that the bikinis run about 1/3 size small. An exchange may be in order but I plan to wear this suit (if all goes swimmingly – pun intended!) at the pool and lake this summer.

khongboon swimwear - nerja bikini

khongboon swimwear – nerja bikini

4. four five seconds. I cannot tell you why I really like this song. I cannot even tell if I’m even embarrassed that I listen to it on repeat and don’t even know what the song means. It’s just one of those songs that resonates with me and makes me car dance and sing in a way that I should be embarrassed about. Cheers to having a guilty pleasure every once in a while.

Also I’m still confused about what part Paul McCartney plays in the song…

5. balayage. As a natural brunette I have never felt that there is much I could do with my hair without losing it’s natural color. That is until I heard about balayage. Balayage just confirms that blondes aren’t the only ones that can have fun. So I decided to drink the cool-aid and got the most fantastic, hand-painted color in my hair last week by Danielle at Vertu. For anyone looking for a little change without huge commitment I highly recommend balayage!

IMG_9548

waiting in the chair

balayage

balayage

IMG_9553

FullSizeRender

so many hair pictures

6. spring time sunny hikes. Most people love Sun Valley, Idaho for the winters. There are literally so many snow-filled activities. But I just love the summers. I would love Sun Valley summer all year long and I understand this probably offends many. One of my favorite parts about Summer is hiking. A dirt trail to somewhere breathtaking (since mostely everywhere in Idaho is breathtaking), some people or dog company and the tranquillity that comes with immersing yourself into full on wilderness (ish) is something that is difficult to beat.

I have enjoyed several hikes recently but perhaps my favorite was one that took us off trail in the general direction that we wanted to go with spectacular views of Baldy. When he summited (makes me feel like a badass to say that) we took a hot second to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures. Channeling my inner yoga girl I decided yoga on a mountain was necessary and took a hand stand. Obviously it went on Instagram and then it was miraculously retweeted by Visit Sun Valley. Cue fifteen minutes of fame.

hiking up the backside of taylor canyon

hiking up the backside of taylor canyon

maude pod posing like a good girl

maude pod posing like a good girl

IMG_8488

love these ladies!

love these ladies!

yoga on a mountain

yoga on a mountain

IMG_8540

my fifteen minutes of instagram fame

pugger walks

pugger walks

proof my pug can actually walk by herself

proof my pug can actually walk by herself

love bugs

love bugs

I am off to enjoy my travels now but I wish you all a wonderful weekend and week!

taylor brass

brass blossom

best of 2014

1. Best Personal Achievement – Graduate School. I am extremely excited to announce that I got into Graduate School at the University of Washington for a Masters of Health Administration!

I had been toying with the idea of going back to school for quite some time and decided to apply for Fall of 2015. I kept this decision fairly private but I am thrilled to have been accepted to my top choice program! Although I cannot say I am thrilled to be a Huskie (go Ducks!), I cannot wait to start a new chapter next Fall!

University-of-Washington-MHA

seattle sky line

seattle sky line

2. Best Personal Endeavor  – The Brass Blossom. The Brass Blossom was born last February after Krista mentioned she needed an outlet (Idaho has really long winters). Our blog has become something that I truly love. The process of creating, writing and publishing keeps me inspired and motivated each day.

Our blog has become so much more than an outlet and I am so happy that we actually made it happen. Cheers to the Brass Blossom and my wonderful coauthor, Krista!

"the brass blossom"

“the brass blossom”

3. Best New Addition – Miss Maude. This year has definitely been a year of juxtaposition. My biggest low of the year was the passing of my beloved pug, Lucy. Lucy was my shadow and canine soul mate and I constantly miss her outrageous ways.

The boy and I got little Miss Maude a few months before Lucy passed and her energy, love and snuggles definitely helped heal pugger Lizzy and my broken hearts. I am so thankful to have this crazy lady in my life as her boundless energy and love make every day better.

pug love <3

pug love ❤

baby maude pod

baby maude pod

big girl maude pod

big girl maude pod

4. Best Book – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This book is raved about for a reason. Last summer I blogged about my love of the book and recommend it to anyone. It is a wonderful coming of age story that perfectly outlines the nature of life. Even though it’s about 800 pages it is a must read!

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tart

the goldfinch by donna tartt

5. Best Recipe – Rhubarb Upside Down Cake. This was a tough one. I debated between the Rose Apple Pie I made for our Olympics Party and the Rhubarb Upside Down Cake I made for a house warming. In the end the Rhubarb Upside Down Cake won by a landslide.

It might not be quite as pretty or delicate but this cake was by far one of the most delicious cakes I have ever had. The candied rhubarb topping paired with a light layer of cake is what makes this cake so delicious. I could have literally eaten just the top off this cake!

IMG_4778

rhubarb upside down cake

6. Best Trip – Jackson Hole/Grand Teton, Wyoming. Krista and I went with our friend Melissa to Wyoming this summer to celebrate her graduation from grad school as well as her completion of the California Bar. Although it pretty much rained the entire trip it was an incredible and adventure filled vacation.

Despite the rain our outdoor adventures were still breathtaking and we revitalized ourselves with eating, drinking and shopping around Jackson.

grand tetons

grand tetons

7. Best Adventure – Goat Lake. One of my goals last summer was to go on more hikes. I definitely got out and explored more of the local hiking trails. By far my favorite hike was to Goat Lake in the Stanley Basin. This was not a hike for the weary but was quite possibly one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been. A must hike if you are near and up for a ton of scrambling!

goat lake - stanley basin, idaho

goat lake – stanley basin, idaho

8. Best Clothing Buy – Splendid Jumpsuit. My favorite purchase of this year was by far my Indigo Chambray Jumpsuit by Splendid. It was a bit of a splurge but worth every penny. I have worn it countless times and I love it’s ease and comfort. I can only hope that one day everyone will be a jumpsuit convert!

the boy and i last summer

indigo chaambray jumpsuit by splendid

9. Best Beauty Buy – Rodan and Fields Micro-dermabrasion Paste is a splurge but well worth the money. I do not have the greatest skin. It is a combination of both dry and oily and even being legally blind I can see my large pores and occasional zit. However after using this scrub every other day it has completely evened out my skin and done miracles for my overall complexion. Plus it leaves your face literally softer than a baby’s butt.

If you are looking for one product to add to your routine I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

rodan & fields - micro-dermabrasion paste

rodan & fields – micro-dermabrasion paste

10. Best Gift – Antler Hooks. Antler hooks were my go to gift this year. I originally purchased a large hook set for a wedding gift and have since bought another for a Christmas gift. The hooks are perfectly rustic and fit for any home in Idaho!

antler hooks - my go to gift

antler hooks – my go to gift

11. Best DIY – Hula Hoops. My favorite DIY this year was recovering DIY hula hoops that I made a few years ago. Maude Pod was my right hand gal during this DIY. I find hula-hooping so reminiscent of childhood and more simple times all while being relaxing. It is by far my favorite abdominal exercise, which gives me just one more reason to love it.

diy hula hoops + miss maude pod

diy hula hoops + miss maude pod

missing warm hula-hooping weather

missing warm hula-hooping weather

12. Best Party – Girls Birthday Party. My favorite party that Krista and I threw this year was our dear friend Rachel’s birthday party. Our theme was color and anything and everything girly. Nothing can go wrong with a theme like that. It was colorful, lighthearted and the perfect way to celebrate Rachel and the coming Spring!

girls birthday party

girls birthday party

13. Best Supporter(s) – The Boy & The Mom. Okay, okay I know this is a stretch of a “best of category” but I had to include the boy and my mom in my “Best of 2014.”

For the boy, maybe it’s because it’s our lucky number seven (seven years of dating that is), but I think the incredible year that we have both had is in large part due to the boy. He manages to keep me grounded and is one of my biggest supporters. I am incredibly thankful to have him by my side and couldn’t think of anyone I would rather spend 2015 with!

For the mom, I cannot imagine life without her. Although sometimes I question how I am actually her offspring as she just screams spontaneity, organized chaos and fun loving, I am so thankful to have her in my life. She constantly picks me up when I am down and supports me to the moon and back. She is one incredible, kind, hard-working and beautiful woman who is always up for an adventure.

this guy

this boy 🙂

the best woman i know

the best woman i know

2015 Goals:

Last year I made a 2014 Goal list on my iPhone “notes.” I met most of the goals and unlike what is suggested many of my goals weren’t an exact goal or definite. I like having goals that are more long term and abstract that I can work towards daily, weekly or monthly.

I found the below “this year” list on Pinterest today and it inspired a few more goals to add to my list for 2015:

  1. Read 20+ books
  2. Master a handstand and hold for 60+ seconds
  3. Go on as many Idaho adventures and hikes as possible
  4. Establish a new chapter in Seattle (eeek!)
  5. Learn calligraphy
  6. Pick up the phone and call friends and family more
  7. Remember to take a deep breath and go to yoga (preferably hot) more often
  8. Hug someone daily
  9. Increase my personal savings for graduate school…
  10. Eat/drink more ginger

fc2817741fb384e59cef11a0f461f010 taylor brass

brass blossom