Sunday, December 07, 2014

Currently // December

READING · I am still trying to trek my way through The Night Circus again. But The Glass Castle just came in the mail a couple of days ago, so I'll probably start that soon. I'm forever starting (and not finishing) good books.

WATCHING · Really trying to get into The Walking Dead, but gore just isn't my thing. Other than that, Christmas movies. Though we are on the hunt for a new binge-worthy Netflix show if anyone has any recommendations for us.

LISTENING TO · Christmas tunes (obviously) and lots of violin + instrumental music (nothing new there). Have y'all heard of Pentatonix? If not, look them up. So dang good. Here's a music video of theirs that has been circling around the web:

DISCOVERING · That I've developed a bad habit of entertaining gossip at work and it has to stop. If I hear my coworkers / friends talking poorly about each other, I should walk away instead of getting involved by sharing my opinions on the matter(s).

PLANNING · A back-up plan for my birthday just in case we end up having to work that day (we were planning on going to Disney's Hollywood Studios). My good friend already assured me that she'd be baking a cake for me if that scenario plays out.

CRAVING · Coffee ice cream. I need something sweet to balance out the burger I just downed at BurgerMonger ;)

WISHING · That I could have a day off in between some of these 12 hour shifts I've been pulling! But, then again, I really can't complain. I'm making money, the workload has been relatively light and I get to work with my family.

FEELING · From reading my answer above, you can probably gather that I'm a bit worn out at the moment. Having to wake up at 4:30 for work every morning means I'm ready for bed come 8:00.

PRAYING FOR · My brother's current situation. I won't go into details here. He and his family have had a very rough year and I'm praying that God will work everything out in their favor. I'm trusting Him for a miracle.

TRYING · To make the best of all that life is throwing at us. Nothing is worth stressing about and God is still in control.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wish-Listing · Birthday + Christmas

With 22 days left until Christmas and 15 until my birthday (the big 2-5 is creepin' up on me), people have started to ask me what I'd like this year. I'm not big on gifts, not like I used to be whenever I was growing up. But, I couldn't just say "oh, nothing" and I didn't want to ask for money like I usually do. It wasn't hard to come up with ideas though, since the majority of these things were already on my online wish-lists. I'm constantly adding items that I like to my wish-lists and contemplating whether or not to purchase them. The struggle between being frugal and living a little is real, people. With all that being said, here are the things that were left waiting on my wish-lists.

What items are on your Christmas list this year?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Link Your Ink · Constant Reminder

I'm thrilled to be linking up with two very lovely ladies, Kaitlin (from Sew My Soul) and Cassie (from Sage the Blog), for a new little link-up they've started called 'Link Your Ink'. As soon as I heard about this idea, I was totally on board. I've always loved the art of tattoos. And I love hearing the stories that lie behind tattoo choices even more. I've never really gotten around to sharing about all of mine (I currently have 7 tattoos and plan on getting 3-4 more). Each piece holds a special meaning for me, each one representing something that I have either gone through or something that I believe in. I doubt I could ever put a permanent mark on my body, unless it had meaning.

For those of you who may not know, my dad passed away a little over 2 years ago. It was hard, y'all. The hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. I can't even begin to express to you guys the pain that comes from losing a parent. I've shared a handful of posts about life after loss and I even shared about my memorial tattoo whenever I first got it back in 2012. But, I've since added a little to this piece.

"When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure."

My dad was a Navy man. He sailed the open seas, putting his life on the line in the Vietnam War. While serving, he got a tattoo of a swallow on his arm. Growing up, I used to think it was a sparrow since he never really explained the meaning behind it. After his passing, I did a little research. Come to find out, sailors would tattoo swallows on themselves to represent how many nautical miles they had sailed. One swallow equaled 5,000 miles, two equaled 10,000 miles and so on and so forth. Knowing this made me love this piece even more. Though I know I have yet to sail 5,000 nautical miles, it has since become a goal of mine. Don't worry. I'll catch up to you one day, dad. 

This tattoo is a constant reminder that even though he is absent in this realm, my dad is forever with me. Every time I look down and see my swallow, I'm reminded of the years I was able to share with him, the lessons he taught me and the unconditional love that he showed me. Out of all of my tattoos, this one has had the most feedback from others. Whenever I'm out running errands or at work, people often stop to admire it and tell me how beautiful it is. It's definitely a conversation starter and I really take pleasure in sharing the story it bears.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Recent Finds No. 13

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

1. This home office is basically my dream workspace. Bright, yet cozy.

2. Love the idea of upcycling glass bottles for inexpensive holiday decor.

3. White base + dusted gold accents = the perfect Christmas manicure.

4. Basil, bacon and peach baked brie. I bet this recipe tastes heavenly.

5. DIY pine cone garland. Again, simple and inexpensive decor. Love it.

6. Old ways won't open new doors. Couldn't agree with this more!

What's caught your eye lately?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Honey Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Last Sunday I was invited to attend a service at my mom's church (my childhood church). They were doing a study on marriage and there was to be a potluck luncheon afterwards. I joyfully accepted, as G and I have yet to find a church to attend ourselves. I knew that I wanted to make something healthy from the get-go, but I also wanted something that would be easy to prepare since I knew I didn't have much time on my hands. I searched Pinterest high and low, but most of the healthy side dishes that popped up were more elaborate and time consuming than I had hoped. Until, of course, I ran across a recipe for balsamic brussel spouts. After a few tiny adjustments, I had my dish and they were definitely a hit.

3 tbsp of olive oil
1½ lbs brussel sprouts (halved)
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ garlic powder
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tsp of honey

Preheat your oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss the brussel sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, making sure to coat them all thoroughly. Transfer the brussels to your baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they're tender. This takes about 20 minutes. After that, place the brussel sprouts back into the bowl you used to toss them in before. Add in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Continue to toss them until they're evenly coated. At this point, they are ready to be served. You can add more salt and pepper, as you find necessary.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

5 Highlights

It's been over a week since I last had the time to sit down and share with y'all. So much has been going on over the course of this month. It's been a whirlwind, but things are starting to settle down a bit. That's normally how my schedule plays out, so I should probably be used to it by now. I feel like I've been missing out on a lot around here. Is it just me or does it seem like everyone is announcing that they're pregnant right now? Anyway, I'll fill you guys in on what's been going on lately.

1. Saturday was Jennifer and Jose's wedding (Friday was the rehearsal + rehearsal dinner). I shared a little about their engagement story here back in March. I was so happy (and honored) to be apart of their special day. I doubt the ceremony and reception could have been better. Everything turned out beautifully and everyone had a great time.


2. Last week our old porch was ripped away as we planned to have the whole thing rebuilt by my uncle and cousin. I can't even put into words how pleased I am with the way it turned out! It's incredible. They did such a great job.

Brace yourselves, the before photos are horrible. Our porch was in serious need of some TLC.

3. Work has been going well. Both G and I received raises recently, so we're pretty excited about that. It's been a long time coming for me especially (I've worked for that company for 6 years and this is my first raise).

4. Last night we scored a 7 piece patio set for our new porch at Sears. It was originally $800, but it was marked down to $240 so we basically made out like bandits. I've been taking full advantage of it today, especially with the nice weather.

5. Yesterday I purchased tickets for Anberlin's concert next month. They'll be playing with Copeland and anyone who knows me well knows that's my all-time favorite band (besides Sleeping at Last). Totally looking forward to going with Lauren.

Welp, those are the highlights. I hope you all are having a wonderful week!
I'll be sure to share more about Jennifer's wedding whenever I have the time :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Currently // October

READING · I started reading The Maze Runner after we went to see the movie last month. I really enjoyed the movie, despite all of the bad reviews. So much so that I had the book downloaded to my Kindle app as soon as we got home from the theater.

WATCHING · Raising Hope. My brother introduced G and I to it a few weeks ago. It's stupid-funny, but it keeps us laughing!

LISTENING TO · Sleeping at Last. I doubt I'll ever get tired of listening to this band. Songs on repeat lately include: Neptune, I'll Keep You Safe, Watermark, Woodwork and Next to You. There's just something about his voice + all the instruments. Love it.

DISCOVERING · That I have the ability to be extremely strong-willed (which often teeters on the edge of stubbornness), especially if someone tells me that I can't do something. I'm 99% sure that I get it from my dad.

PLANNING · Our front porch / patio area remodel. My uncle and cousin began working on it last week and we've been throwing tons of ideas around for the design + layout. I'll just be glad once it's completed in a couple of days.

CRAVING · An iced dirty chai latte, but this homemade pumpkin spice coffee that I'm sipping on will suffice for now.

WISHING · I had the time to catch up on all things blog related. Real life has been draining me of all my energy lately, so I've been placing blog life on the back burner. I'm jealous of peeps who can successfully juggle both and put out awesome content.

FEELING · Kinda worn out. The past two days have been nonstop work. I'd like a break now, please. But, this is just the beginning. I'll be running errands tomorrow, 12 hour work days start on Wednesday and my bestie's wedding is on Saturday!

PRAYING FOR · My family, mostly. It's been a rough year for many of them. I'm praying that God gives them peace of mind, strength and discernment as they navigate through this rocky season.

TRYING · To manage my time better and be more productive on my days off.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Death Came in the Evening

Death. We fear it, we fight it, we try our best to escape it's grim approach. But, still it comes and we are left to sort out the aftermath, to pick up the pieces and reconstruct after it flees. We cannot hide nor run from it. Sooner or later, the clock will stop as it catches up with all of us. Time will stand still and our moments here will cease ... just like hers.

It's been nearly 3 weeks since death came to visit our family. It took her away that rainy evening in September. And even though we were never very close, the death of my grandma has left my heart heavy. Death's sting has been felt and now, we pick up the pieces. Losing someone you were never close with is a bit tricky. How can I long to have someone back who I never really had in the first place?

While her children and grandchildren mourned her passing, my sorrow delve deep into a sea of "what if's". What if I had gotten to know her better? What if I had put aside more time to visit her? Time, that's it. Time is what I longed for. Time to learn about her, time to learn from her. Time to speak to, to laugh with, to cherish the woman who had raised my father. But time's up and I can't get it back.

You will forever be my sweet lady of mystery. Everything you had to say, everything you had to teach, it all faded away with you on that day; along with any chance I had of forming a proper relationship with you. Now I'm left to sit and ponder the "what if's" that flood my mind. I'll hold tight to the memories that we were able to create while you were still with us. Rest in peace, Grandma Elsie.

Friends, if there are any relationships that need mending within your family, I have one simple piece of advice — get to mending! Be the bigger person, forgive, forget and love the ones who God has placed in your life. There's only so much time, don't take it for granted.

Friday, October 03, 2014

6 Hours in Atlanta

Well, Wednesday was certainly an adventure! Lauren's van finally made it back to the states from Germany and she was told that it was ready for pick-up in Georgia. So, naturally, I jumped on the opportunity to visit my favorite state with my best friend even though I was aware that it would be a very quick trip. And when I say quick, I mean less than 24 hours quick (but it was totally worth it).

It was an early morning. We boarded our plane around 5:00AM and made it to Atlanta by 9:00. There was a slight layover in Charlotte, NC (which really made little sense to us), but the tickets were cheap so it wasn't that big of a deal. After arriving in ATL and hailing a taxi from the airport, we were able to get her van and headed downtown to explore before our 7+ hour drive back home to Tampa.

First stop? Octane Coffee. Lauren had heard nothing but good things about this coffee shop and it was pretty good. We both had their caramellato (yum) and shared a couple macarons. After that, we headed across the street to Bellwoods Social House for some lunch. We split an order of fried okra and pickles (so good) and I devoured the best smoked chicken tacos + street corn I had ever had. Lauren chose the steak and fig sandwich. Everything was bursting with flavor. If you're ever in Atlanta, I would highly recommend this place!

We were really hoping to find an area with little boutiques instead of scoping out the mall scene, but we ended up at Lenox Square. It was a bit overwhelming since the place is huge. We walked around for awhile and by the time we were finished it was after 3:00. We made one last stop into Target for the essentials (a cell phone charger + comfy pants), then waved goodbye to Atlanta and hit the road.

About 3 hours into our drive, we noticed a sign for Big Peach Antique mall. As to be expected, we stopped in to check it out. 2 hours and a few purchased later, we were back on the road. It was such a neat place. The drive back was pleasant. Lauren and I reminisced about the past, sharing story after story. We jammed out to music, watched the cotton fields sail by and admired the sun as it dove into the horizon. We made it back around midnight and after 21+ hours of total travel time / being awake, we were both ready to knock out.

It was a great trip, even if we were away for less than 24 hours ;)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Treasure Island

There's still a handful of posts that I haven't had a chance to share yet, including our trip to Treasure Island last month. My mama, Garrett and I were (finally) able to sneak away to the beach for a couple of days. The weather wasn't cooperating with us at all on the first day, it rained a little bit on the second and of course it was clear the day we had to head back home. Granted, we still had a relaxing mini vaca and that's all that matters! I took a ton of photos, so I'll keep my rambling to a minimum and let them do most of the talking.

Like I said, the weather was kinda yucky on Monday. It started raining right before we got on the road. At first, I was allowing it to put me in a bad mood until G talked some sense into me. And by talk I mean told me I needed an attitude adjustment, asap. Haha, tough love, but it worked! I snapped out of it when we pulled up to the resort. We checked in quickly and went out for a bite to eat at Sloppy Joe's. By the time we were finished, the sun decided to say hello for a little while. We walked along the beach as the waves crashed the shoreline. The remainder of the evening was pretty low-key. We got some drinks and caught up on some rest.

Tuesday was still a bit cloudy, but it only rained briefly during the afternoon. Mama and I went out for breakfast as soon as we woke up, while G slept in. Once he was awake, we drove over to John's Pass to walk around and check out the shops. We visited our favorite coffee spot, the tea and spice exchange and a handful of other places before going back to the resort. Later that afternoon, we found a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Dockside Dave's to eat dinner at. What they lacked in ambiance, they made up for in the quality of their food. Seriously, the best (and biggest) grouper sandwiches I've ever seen. We made it back to the resort as the sun was setting and decided to walk down to the beach to get a better view. God couldn't have painted a better one that evening. It was beautiful.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky come Wednesday morning. It would be sunny on the day we were heading home, go figure. After packing everything up, we stopped at John's Pass one last time for breakfast + coffee. Despite the lousy weather, we ended up having a great time. And, as promised, here are all of the photos. I took a lot more, but here are my favorites: