August 22, 2016

Top TV Picks · Vol. 2

Well, about a million years ago a year ago, I shared my first round of top TV picks with you guys. Obviously I wanted to divvy out more suggestions before now, but it is what it is. There are many binge-worthy watches out there. And, as I stated in my previous picks post, there's a crazy amount that I would consider to be personal favorites. You'll notice that the majority of shows I enjoy watching are classified as science fiction (real big shocker there). So, without further ado, here's round two.

August 21, 2016

August 17, 2016

Local Love · Haslam's Book Store

Roughly two weeks ago, I was finally introduced to the magic that is Haslam's Book Store. If you weren't aware, I've been eager to visit this book store for a long while now. Over the years, my brother has raved about how glorious each of his endeavors within this store have been. He even takes one whole day off of work each year just to venture throughout this literary wonderland with one of his good friends. Haslam's Day, as they so merrily call it. His love for this book store is apparent. My good friend, Charlene (from Charlene Zale), has also spoken very highly of this place in the past. With all that being said, I obviously had to visit too.

The store is located just on the edge of downtown St. Petersburg, which luckily for us is a mere 30 minutes away from home. In the months prior to our little adventure, I had snagged a $20 Groupon deal for a restaurant near St. Pete Beach called The Salty Rim Grill. We're always a little leary of the places we find on Groupon as we never know what to expect, but we were hopeful in our persuit of some yummy grub. Let me start by saying, we will certainly be back. Their menu provided just the right amount of choices (both for the seafood lovers + those who stray away from all things fishy). I made my decision as soon as I saw that they offered tequila lime chicken tacos + french fries. I'm one of those in-betweeners when it comes to seafood. You know, the type of person who only orders it occasionally (I wasn't really feeling it that day). I also got one of their sunset ritas. G opted for the fried shrimp basket with fries as well. Everything that we ordered was so fresh and full of flavor. And the portions far exceeded what we had expected! We're planning on going back with my mama sometime soon. I've been craving more of those tacos already!

Now, onto our book store experience. The time we spent at Haslam's put me into a state of euphoria. G enjoyed perusing the science, mathematics, and computer sections, as I burrowed through every nook + cranny of the entire store (spending the most time in the science fiction section, of course). There was so much to examine, so many aisles one could easily get lost within. Just as I thought we had reached the end, we turned a corner only to realize that the path kept going. On and on, row after row. Books on books on books and cats! Yes, cats! There are several of them who reside within the store (so you know that I was in heaven), but Teacup was my favorite since she's the only one I had a chance to briefly bond with. And, by bond, I mean I was able to pet her + take a photo of her before she scurried off. The atmosphere is dreamy, to say the least. Sadly, we couldn't spend the entire afternoon there as we wanted to beat the 5 o'clock traffic that would soon plague the Howard Franklin Bridge. I ended up purchasing a copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (as Charlene had suggested). There was also a neat collection of William Shakespeare's Star Wars books that I had my eye on, but I later added them to my birthday / Christmas wish-list instead.

I'm very much looking forward to my next Haslam's adventure, be it with my brother, the lovely Charlene, or my hubby again. If you are ever in the vicinity of downtown St. Petersburg, you should make it a point to stop in and experience the magic yourself!

August 10, 2016

6 Ways to Improve Your Marriage

I don't know about you guys, but marriage advice is something I tend to soak up like a sponge. For as long as I can remember, relationships + people in general have intrigued me. I like trying to figure out what makes people tick, as well as deciphering the reasoning behind certain traits they may exhibit or actions they carry out. I guess that's why I'm somewhat surprised at myself for not sharing more posts like this with you all in the past. I'll never claim to be an expert when it comes to this stuff, but I'd be more than happy to share from my own experiences from time to time. While I'm fully aware that there are countless ways to help improve a marriage, these six in particular have stuck out to me over the course of our marriage so I figured we'd start here.

Be quick to apologize.
Whenever arguments arise (you know they will), it's best to suck up your pride right then and there. You need to quickly determine if you were the one in the wrong before things escalate, as they so often do. Were you being unreasonable? Apologize. Did your attitude need some serious readjusting? Apologize. Even if you're technically right, the way you handle yourself before or during a disagreement (your tone, your body language, the words you use to defend your position) can require an apology too. Being quick to say "I'm sorry" can diffuse an argument before it gets totally out of hand. Humble yourself, swallow your pride, and apologize.

Be even quicker to forgive.
This kinda goes hand-in-hand with the point above, as it will also require laying down your pride. And, as hard as it may be, you'll have to set aside your emotions most of the time too. Let's be real, the majority of arguments you'll face will more than likely be over something petty or something that won't amount to much in the long run. In my experience, I've found it best to look beyond how I may be feeling in that moment (angry, sad, frustrated, etc.), and choose forgiveness instead. No good will ever come from holding onto every word that was spoken or feeling that was felt during the heat of the moment. The only thing you are doing by harboring unforgiveness is planting a seed of bitterness. Once that sucker takes root in your heart, it's a tough beast to battle.

Seek to understand each other better.
The sooner you figure out that you don't have your spouse all figured out, the better off you'll be. There will always be something new you can learn about the person you married, no matter how many years of matrimony you have under your belt. Be open to learning more about your spouse as he / she changes throughout different seasons of your life together. In doing this, it will help you to understand where they are coming from and how their logic / mindset concurs with or differs from your own. Knowing these things up front can essentially help a great deal whenever disagreements emerge. As long as your spouse has a mind (which I'm assuming all do), they possess the ability to change it. With that being said, it's always a good idea to communicate with each other as these changes occur so you both remain on the same page.

Highlight the positive, downplay the negative.
I bet there have been times when you find yourself focusing on all the things that your spouse has done wrong, but when was the last time you redirected your focus to everything he / she has done right? It's easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of your spouse's character, but please don't dwell on them. You have to remember that we are all a work in progress. Your husband or wife isn't a perfect person, but here's a news flash ― neither are you. Always strive to appreciate what they do right and show extensive amounts of mercy + grace towards their weaknesses, the same way that Christ handles our shortcomings.

Express your needs + wants clearly.
This one is relatively self-explanatory. Your spouse is not a mind reader. They won't always know exactly what you expect or want from them, so just save yourself the trouble and be up front with them from the get-go. If you need or want your spouse to do something, ask them when you have their undivided attention. If you aren't feeling loved or appreciated, just be straight up with them. There's no need for mind games or manipulation to get what you need + want. It's really quite simple (not rocket science).

Make intimacy / sex a priority.
Flirt, touch, kiss, cuddle, hold hands, make love ― as often as you possibly can. I really cannot stress how important it is to connect physically with your spouse. Intimacy (especially sex) isn’t just a physical enjoyment, but also one that is both mental and spiritual. Research suggests that sex can have a multitude of emotional and physical benefits as well. By putting your sex life on the back-burner or refusing to make it a priority in your marriage, you're basically showing your spouse that he / she isn't worth your time + energy. Believe me, I know it can be extremely hard sometimes to carve out that special time in the midst of crazy work schedules and busy seasons (I can't even imagine adding kids into that mix), but it's not impossible. If you start gettin' it on more often, I'm sure you'll notice a huge difference in the way you guys connect outside of the bedroom. Just try and see ;)

Well, that's all I've got for now. We've got a little over six years under our belts and we're still learning more each day. I hope these points will help some of you as much as they've helped us over the years. Marriage can be hard work, but it's worth the effort!