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lifestyle

Another Year, Another Birthday

Each year I try to sit down and write a reflection about the last year of life. Like many of us, 2020 was a big year. In April of 2020 Montana entered it’s quarantine. We thought it would only last a short time but here we are in 2021. In the midst of a shut down I was working in my office with my fulfillment team member working at rapid speed to help continue growth for my old company. I took a day off for my birthday, baked a cake, went on a run and my Mom, Dad, Drew and I enjoyed a socially distanced cake on our front lawn.

Belton, Texas 2021

Last year tested my mental strength, physical strength and ability to push through. I feel extremely lucky to have spent most of COVID time in Bozeman Montana. The ability to go outside, quickly take a hike or go on a run without being close to people was a god sent. Between work, and life stress, 2020 was a hard year. I think it is very important to talk about because as much as we “push through” recognizing the times of sadness, loss and stress are hard.

Thanksgiving walk, Bozeman, MT 2020

Although, year 26 put me through the ringer with life, there were some incredible outcomes from last year. I officially started my business as a registered LLC (that was HUGE for me!). In my business Dot Digital Media LLC., I offer food photography, branding, social media and other digital marketing services. Front Paige is a section of my business and I feel so fortunate to now be in a place to be working full time for myself. If it wasn’t for 2020, I don’t know if I would have the urge to go full time on my own business! For the past 4 years I have been growing my digital marketing agency (Dot Digital Media LLC.) as a freelancing business and maintained full-time jobs. With the pandemic moving all efforts of business online, DDM took off! The things you see everyday on social are a small glimpse into my everyday life of a small business owner! The navigation has been an incredibly rewarding learning process!

Big Texas Snow 2021

When I was 24, I made a goal to buy a house before I turned 30. To me this was a huge goal to achieve. In 2019, we put an offer on a home in Bozeman and didn’t get accepted, I didn’t realize how much I wanted one until the sale fell through. Through all the crazy that was 2020, Drew and I made a conscious decision for our careers and that direction turned us back into Active Duty Army life. Read more about that here, but long story short, we were able to purchase our first home. Through all the crazy that was my 26th year of life, I love to look back on the posts from the years pasts and see the growth in myself each year.

As I sit here and write this, I can’t help but tear up. It could be because it is currently 4am, but the real reason is the ebbs and flows of life are hard to navigate. In every moment I do my best to make the best decision with the information I have at the time, but with so much change I find it hard to sit back and reflect. In a way, I haven’t wanted to look back at 2020 and year 26, but have had a lot on my mind in the last few months of our transition to a new area. With each move and transition of life it is very normal to feel a sense of excitement and also a sense of loss. I miss so many things about last year that sometimes cloud my judgement about the lows. I would say that I miss being close to family and my friends the most! I miss my family stopping by my office and our old neighborhood. My oh my was our old neighborhood a dream! But, with that being said, I have that much better of a jumping off point for year 27.

With every year, I am excited for the newness, the transitions and just learning more about myself. Bring it on!

Sugar-Free January 2021

For the past 4 years, I have done sugar-free January. This is less of a “detox” and more of a mental and physical break from the sugar intake during the holidays. Well, 2020 was a weird year and I have to say there were times I was only eating sweets (queue the Monkey bread, pumpkin cookies, lemon bread, and more) and then this December, my sugar intake was less than I expected. Typically, December is full of family parties, platters of homemade cookies, and sweet quick-breads before breakfast and dessert. 2020 was very different for the holiday. It was just Drew, Moose, and I in our new home in central Texas (read more about that here). Our dinner of two didn’t bring platters of cookies or cakes, but it did bring, cinnamon rolls and a few sugar cookies!

Why Sugar-Free January?

A few years ago, I was inspired by Pinch of Yum and her sugar-free January challenge. Rather than focusing on what I am cutting out, I try to focus every meal and snack on healthy foods that nourish. One thing that I find incredible is that in a few days into the challenge food starts tasting better. Does that make sense? My sweetness meter on my tongue decreases so apples, oranges and berries taste fresh. Greens taste more vibrant and I crave more salads than ever before! This challenge can be hard come 8:30pm and we are sitting on the couch watching a show and all I can think about are my little candies in the pantry, but that craving slowly leaves after about 1 week!

My “rules” for the challenge:

Setting Sugar-Free Boundaries

There are so many “sugar-free” options out there. From 0 calorie sweeteners to 0 calorie syrups for coffee, the options for “sugar-free” these days are endless, but that isn’t the point of this challenge. To my husband and me, this challenge is to remove all the refined sugars from our diet. Honey and maple syrup are naturally occurring sugars but, the reason that I allow these is because we don’t really eat these two options…like at all! When I crave sweets during this month, I aim for a handful of berries, an apple, or a clementine rather than pancakes or drenching something in honey. I make the choice to choose fruit over maple syrup or honey. Setting these boundaries allows me to stick to the rules for 30 days and I have to say, every year it gets easier. The best part of sugar-free January, setting boundaries and sticking to them is that my “need” for sugar decreases tremendously after the month. As a recipe developer – for mostly desserts, I am snacking on cakes, cookies, and treats all day and this challenge shows me ways to make treats delicious with less refined sugar. That was a long-winded way of saying, I set boundaries for many reasons and the biggest reason is for myself!

Who’s with me?!

If you want to join, I would love that! I will be sharing some gluten-free and vegan recipes that are sugar-free for the month! Let’s indulge in the good and leave the sugar out of the picture (for a little bit 😉 )! If you are craving some cookies, I have you covered! I am a sweet CRAVER in the morning! I love a breakfast cookie, a pancake, or a cinnamon roll! I developed a few recipes last year that are guilt-free and oh-so-delicious!

Sugar-Free Recipes View All

Let’s Conquer this challenge!

Let’s do this fun challenge together! Tag me if you make a yummy sugar-free recipe and I will post fun recipes through the month! Remember, to have fun, enjoy and don’t take it too seriously! The challenge is for yourself, your tastebuds and your mental clarity! Bring it on!

xo, Paige

The End of Sugar-Free January 2020

I don’t know about you guys, but January was both the LONGEST month ever but also the shortest last few weeks. Does that even make sense?

I found this sugar free January to be 15x easier than 2019’s challenge. There are a few factors that I think played a role in the ease of 2020.

  1. I was SO freaking busy
  2. I got rid of ALL the sweets in our house, gave them to family or put them in the freezer (my true go to)
  3. The honey that I baked with was really satisfying
  4. My Sugar-Free Chocolate chip cookies
  5. I am really happy this year!

A few weeks ago, I announced on my instagram that I started graduate school. I wish I could say I have the luxury of going back to school full time, but alas Drew and I have jobs, and I run a business so we are going to school full time online. Between taking care of our amazing puppy (she will forever be my puppy although she is 4.5 years old), my full time job, my pretty much full time business that I run and school, we don’t have time to mindlessly snack during the day or night. Which has helped a lot.

When I say I got rid of all our sweets, I really did. All Christmas cookies and treats that were gifted to us or I made either made a cozy life in the freezer or my parents got them (yay for them living close)! This is my go to trick an honestly a question I get asked a ton on Instagram. I really love an active lifestyle. I love to walk my dog, workout and keep myself moving. I blame this on 18 years of ballet and 12 of those dancing 6-7 days a week. I literally can’t sit still. I am also a recipe developer for my job so I eat a lot of sweets. But I don’t eat slices on slices, I truly believe in balance and not over doing the sugar. When I am working on a recipe for my company or a client, I have to taste it. It is truly the job. BUT, I don’t need the whole cake. If the recipe turns out, I test and test and test. Those tasty tests either go to friends or right into my freezer for a later date to thaw. I have a process I shared over on this recipe on how I prep my cakes ahead of time and also keep them fresh.

The honey! Guys! This honey is unreal. It is sweet, but fresh and so light on the tongue that I really find it satisfying drizzled over frozen berries or on some biscuits! GO buy it and go try it!

My sugar-free chocolate chip cookies that are gluten-free and vegan. Go try them now. That is all I am saying. They are low carb, high fiber (so low net carbs) and just so freaking satisfying!

And lastly, I am really freaking happy. A lot happened in 2019, go read about it here, and I am just happy to be near family. Happy in the way my life has turned out, and happy in how I have been able to achieve my goals. I am really proud of my life and how I have moved the needle for work and my life. Those are the little things that really make the whole picture of happiness glow!

The big step for me is how do I move forward keeping all these amazing learnings from January? Well, balance. That is how I like to do it. The challenge, like I mentioned in this post, isn’t about a diet or restrictive eating, it is about getting down the core on what makes me feel better about my eating and allowing myself to truly savor the meals, the food and the sweets that I make. Changing your mind and your tastebuds after the gluttony that falls in the holidays.

No Sugar January 2020

Every New Year I set out to do no sugar January. I want this to be very clear, this is not a diet or diet culture or any other reason than to personally do this goal for myself.

Diet culture for new years resolutions is not something that I support. Eating healthy and mindful indulgences is a way of life. A life without a treat is just sad, so let’s change the mindset of why we are doing this challenge.

For myself, this is a challenge to create new recipes that are amazing, sugar free and tasty as can be! It is also a challenge, as a recipe developer to remove sugar from my diet. Like many other pastry chefs, we are taking a bite here and there to sample and make sure out recipes actually work, this is hard when you are cutting out sugar. I have been fortunate, with my celiac to only work with brands that are gluten-free and this has been a god sent.

When I first started as a recipe developer, tons of companies were reaching out but I couldn’t act on those brand deals because they didn’t align with my diet and auto immune disease. This goes with sugar free January as well. I am only working with brands that support this lifestyle for this month to make sure all the content is genuine and there is radical transparency.

This challenge, again is for myself, but I do hope you join in! The mental clarity you get from eliminating sugar is amazing, and not to mention sugar is in freaking everything! Slow down, read labels on sauces and notice that this challenge is about mindful eating and whole foods.

Below I have laid out this challenge according to the ways I like to do this challenge!

If you guys are doing the challenge tag me in your daily meals so we can do it together! More fun recipes to come during this sugar free challenge!

Year 24 – Goals & . Intentions

WOW! 24…

I’m not going to lie I feel like that is so adult. I remember when I was younger I thought mid 20s were SO OLD. I have settled into this idea because haha 24 is here for a year! For the next 6 months I can’t make old jokes to my husband anymore…until he turns 25!

I’ve been really reflective lately, because a lot of things have changed in the past few years! I graduated from college, moved back to San Francisco, moved to Utah, got married, my parents sold my childhood home, I moved to Florida and now we are looking at our next move back to the West. What a mouth full, but also what an exciting time of our lives!

Let’s touch on these

Being open. To me this isn’t about being a sharer, I’m naturally a more closed off person, but to me this phrase of “being open” is being open to being vulnerable, open to challenges and open to what I want to do. If I want to share a picture of my beige house on an Air Force base, heck maybe I will! Instagram & this space of  “blogging” has turned into 500,000 girls all striving for the perfecrt “idea” of a life. A white marble countertop, big houses & those outfits that are curated for the picture. That ain’t reality. This ties into the idea of expressing myself. I didn’t start frontpaige.net to hit it big. I started it as a space to simply hold my recipes & images. A place for me to come to grow & share a voice that in college was shut down. So to me FrontPaige.net is evolving. Like me! A constant work in progress to be a better version of what I am day in and day out!

GOALS. 

I am a very goal oriented person. I love thinking about the future, but if you read my last personal post here, you see that sometimes your goals in life change. Having the opportunity to experience living in so many unique places in the first year of our marriage has allowed me to push away my “futuristic” mindset and allow myself to sink into the idea of short term goals! I love this mindset and honestly it has been allowing my brain to grow in new ways! 

Being proud

I remember when I baked this cake and took the photographs, I was so freaking proud of myself! Now, when I look back on the images that started Front Paige, I kinda cringe. I have grown SO much as a photographer, women & artist and am proud of the big things that I achieve now but also have been really proud of the things I learned pre 24! Those old goals, allowed me to set new goals and be proud of the new goals that I will soon accomplish!

Slowing down.

Adopting Moose saved me in a few ways. She helped me with my heart, my head and my life. I was going through my tough diagnosis with celiac disease. When she waddled into our lives and I was able to direct my pain and stress into helping her learn to be a doggie! We went on long walks, cuddled and she simply is the sweetest soul in the world. I tend to run at an energizer bunny pace. If I’m “relaxing” watching tv, I’m editing photographs, or baking, if I’m on an airplane I’m drafting emails to send when I get service. If I’m sitting in the car waiting for Drew to get off work, I am reading! The only time I really allow my brain to shut off is sleep. I take Moose on at least one long walk a day, and one short walk in the evenings. And I have to say, I have started to take it for granted. This is something I want to work on. Leaving my phone at home and being present. Looking at the sky instead of the ground, smelling the breeze and hearing the noises. That goal started yesterday!

 * our signature pose!
* our signature pose!

So let’s do these together! Slow down, breathe & set realistic goals for ourselves! Tag me if you decide to make a list of goals for your birthday! Let’s have a damn good year!

6 Unexpected Things I Have Learned 2 Years Post Graduation!

Let’s talk real life! When I first started college I had this PLAN! This idea of what I was going to do when I graduated, where I was going to be working, living and where I would be in life to set myself up!

WELL!

Life works in mysterious ways! And I feel like my college experience was a little different from what you think of when you think of American colleges! 

 Ennis, Montana 2013

Ennis, Montana 2013

Where I thought I’d be!

In this picture I was a sophomore in college, studying film and enjoying life to the fullest! I would go to my friends ranch on the weekend and help her feed her cattle, I was working with my best friend at a clothing store and getting really great grades. I was LOVING what I was studying and  how I was spending every free moment in the mountains!

 Livingston, Montana 2014

Livingston, Montana 2014

I had this plan.

Take a summer internship in NYC (check..did that!), work through my junior and senior years of college (did that as a videographer for our athletic department…check!), graduate and head to NYC or Chicago to work in the print magazine industry and work my way up!

WELL. I did some of those things, but my post grad has been 100x better than what I planned! I always saw myself in a small brick studio, working long days doing photography and film. Fulfilling my life in ways that were blank in my mind. Pieces that I hadn’t yet filled in yet!

This is how it actually happened!

I fell in love with the kid at the coffee shop! 

I unexpectedly fell in love with the adorable man in small town Montana working in his families coffee shop. And yes, we were introduced by our parents! (Such a cute story to tell!). He opened my eyes WAY past the plans that I had for myself! I saw the world in a new light! My goals in life shifted! I knew I wanted to be close to my friends and family and that I didn’t need to move to a big city to make my dreams come true!

 First day at a big kid job (Williams Sonoma Inc. San Francisco CA, July, 2016 *I always stand like a duck...18 years of ballet!

First day at a big kid job (Williams Sonoma Inc. San Francisco CA, July, 2016 *I always stand like a duck…18 years of ballet!

Drew and I graduated college! Drew went off the Air Force Bootcamp. I did what I needed to do to start my career, and applied to over 50 jobs, in a month prior to college graduation. I landed a job working on the site development team, specializing in food, at Williams Sonoma Inc. in San Francisco. Like I said above, life takes you on a crazy ride! Que #4 on my list. I moved home. MY parents were THRILLED! They had 100% access to kissing our puppy every day, and they were so incredibly supportive to help me navigate my first job! 

It was a weird transition! I went from having the most amazing job in college, with amazingly cool opportunites to travel and work with a really supportive team to a corporate work structure. I was waking up at 4:30am everyday, working out before work, commuting 1.5 hours to the office (12 miles away from my house – YAY Bay Area), working a very stressful 10-12 hour day, commuting home and doing it again!

I wouldn’t change a thing from that year. Looking back on it, the tough work environment & the pain I dealt with, shaped who I am today. At just 22 years old, I was THROWN in to the work force working on a team with both women and men who had been doing this job for 12+ years. To say I was thrown to the wolves is an understatement! The Silicon Valley wolves! That life wasn’t fulfilling to me. I felt confused and honestly disappointed most of the time! BUT I learned SO much. Literally I can’t even explain how much I learned!

Everyday at work, my mind would drift off to the “easier” days of college. But, I got through it and learned SO much about myself, my drive and what I was capable of from my time at WSI. Drew was transfered to the UT, Air Force office and I picked up, and moved a month before our wedding to be with him (it’s easier for my to relocate my work than the US Government..ya know!). A week before our wedding, we found out that Drew was cleared for his secondary training in Florida. He left for 5 months, just 2 weeks after we were married. That was incredibly hard. You military wives & families out there know how hard this is. I was doing my best to cheer him on and support his everyday because this was his dream! It was hard though, I was living by myself with Moose in a city where I knew no one, working freelance and starting my freelance career. I took the leap and it worked! 

We packed up when we could move to be with Drew and headed to FLORIDA. I never thought I would say the words “I live in Florida.”. Growing up in the Bay Area, Florida is just so far away that I never thought that is where my life would take me!

SO here we are! I am a week away from my 24th birthday, close to moving back across the country again, my parents sold my childhood home and moved to Montana full time. Drew and I have been talking about where we see ourself in the years to come, and to be completely honest, I just see a big blank grey space. Where will I be? I don’t know! But I have loved the challenges that have come with where I am now, and know that great things are in my future!

It’s hard, but its been an amazing journey to see where my life goes with the skills that I have. Letting go can be really hard, and it is something that I work on daily, but it’s also the most amazing thing in the world!

Grab life by the horns and ride the ride!