Sunday, October 04, 2015

Things You Don't Know About Me

A couple months back, I had the idea of sharing details about myself with you all gradually verses sharing an overwhelmingly long list like I had in the past. If you're interested, you can read the first handful of random facts right here.

I used to be terrified to talk on the telephone.
I was a shy child, painfully shy. The telephone seemed to always be the worst for me. I preferred talking to people in person verses on the phone. Twisted, I know. I'm happy to say that I've worked hard to conquer that fear over the past two years and I have Target to thank for that. All those operator shifts really payed off. I don't know why I was so afraid. There's nothing to it.

When I was younger, I was allergic to bananas.
That's right. Bananas. I wasn't deathly allergic or anything. My gums would get irritated + inflamed and I would get a rash on my cheeks. Thankfully, it only lasted a few years and they don't bother me anymore.

I've lived in the same house all my life.
I shared a little about our living situation a couple years ago. Long story short, I was still living with my parents whenever I met Garrett. We planned to continue living with them for a couple of years after we got married, but our plans flew out the window when my dad passed away in 2012. I couldn't imagine my mama living by herself and she didn't like the idea either. So, we decided to stay put. Sometimes I wish that we had our own space, but I love this old house. It holds so many memories. We plan to stay for now, but we'll be revisiting the idea of moving (to Georgia or the Carolinas) once my mom is able to retire.

My ears are sensitive to loud noises.
My husband likes to say that I'm like a cat because I seriously cannot handle loud noises, or even too many noises at once. It seems like my ears have become more and more sensitive with age. It can be annoying at times, but I'm dealing with it.

I prefer cats over dogs, although I like both.
I'm a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady. I mean, what's not to love about cats? They're cute, intelligent, silly, and low maintenance. They can clean themselves (for the most part), you don't have to walk them (although walking a cat is very comical), and they aren't smelly (in most cases). Don't get me wrong, dogs are nice too. I love our little pooch, but I will always choose cats first.

I only drink soda at the movies or if there's alcohol involved.
It's been about 8 years since I gave up soda. I was never one to drink it all the time to begin with since sweets aren't my thing. I mostly stick with coffee, tea + water. The only time I drink soda is if there's alcohol to mix into it (rum+coke), and even that doesn't happen very often. I also split a soda with my husband if we're at the movie theater (usually a cherry coke or sprite).

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Currently // October

READING · The Mind Connection by Joyce Meyer. You guys, this book is a must-read for anyone. I'm only four chapters in so far and I have retained so much valuable information. I've always loved the way Joyce teaches. In this book, she explains how our thought life affects our moods + attitudes (which I was aware of), but it's still been a real eye opener to say the least. 

WATCHING · More like what am I not watching right now? Seriously, there are so many good shows airing at this point in time. I've been tuning into Fear the Walking Dead, Blindspot, Nashville + Limitless the past few weeks. And as far as Netflix goes, I'm still plugging through Grey's as well as watching Gilmore Girls here and there. Those are just a handful. iZombie + The Walking Dead both come back very soon. So, basically, our DVR will be working overtime this season.
LISTENING TO · The autumn acoustics playlist on Spotify. I can't even tell you how many awesome songs and artists I have stumbled upon lately. There were only a couple of songs on this list that I didn't care for, so that should say something.

DISCOVERING · That fear is fatal. It's like a mind-altering disease that leave its victims in a state of paralysis. The good news is that we are able to choose how we react to it. We can let it hinder us / hold us back, or use it as a catalyst to push us forward.

PLANNING · On studying my butt off the next three months so I can finish up the GED test + visiting The Iron Yard campus next month to see if that's the next step I'd like to take as far as furthering my education goes.

CRAVING · I have been having some tummy issues and haven't had much of an appetite lately. However, a crispy Thai chicken wrap and a cappuccino shake from EVOS sounds so good right now. I can't remember the last time that I ate there.

WISHING · That Florida would get it together and bring on some cooler weather. The nights have been getting better, but the days have still been muggy and miserable. A change in temps would definitely be nice.

FEELING · Like I mentioned before, I've been having some stomach issues on and off for the past couple of months now and it's getting old. I should probably see a doctor, but I'm pretty hardheaded and I don't like being poked and prodded.

PRAYING FOR · Bravery, discernment and peace of mind, as well as healing for my friend, Victoria (she's still fighting cancer).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Color Crush No. 2

It's been a couple of months since I first introduced this new color crush series to you guys. I had intended on sharing a second installment before now, but I suppose it is what it is. This one was actually inspired by all the rainy weather we've been experiencing down here in Florida the past few weeks. The colors in this bokeh rain are awesome. I'm kinda bummed that I couldn't locate the original source for this photograph. If anyone figures it out, please let me know so I can give credit!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Top TV Picks · Vol. 1

If you were to ask my husband what my favorite television show is, he'd probably say something like "every show we watch is her new favorite". I'll admit, I do get hooked on shows quite easily (I have Netflix and Hulu to thank for that). So, what is my favorite show, you ask? I'd have to say Fringe, hands down. But, really, there are so many great shows out there that I have grown to love! And, as if I needed another reason to make a list, I'm sharing my top picks. If you ever have a chance to watch any of these, do it! You won't regret it (or maybe you will), but ya can't knock it 'til ya watch it! I'm planning to share a few more rounds of "favorites" in the weeks / months to follow. Believe me, there's too many to post them all at once.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

12 Snazzy iPhone 6s Cases

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12

With the release of the new iPhone 6s quickly approaching (one week tomorrow), I've been skimming through various websites to find a case that will be worthy of embracing mine once it comes in the mail (haha). I took some time to meander through the cases that were available on Society6 and I narrowed down my favorites to the 12 I've shared above. Although there were tons of others that I wouldn't mind owning as well. These cases definitely reflect my taste + interests. I still haven't decided on the one (or two) that I would like to purchase. I'd be happy with any of these choices, honestly.

Now, as some of you may know, I made the switch from Android to iPhone around the middle of last year. So, until now, I hadn't experienced the excitement that comes along with pre-ordering. Honestly, I believe this is the first time I have ever pre-ordered something in my life. My iPhone 5s has served me well over the course of the last year, but I couldn't pass up an upgrade after hearing about the specs (especially the 12mp camera). The only thing I'm bummed about is the fact that it's coming in the mail the day after we get back from our family vaca, but that's okay. I'm just thankful that I was able to get it.

These cases aren't your cup of tea? Hop over to Society6 and check out all of the others they have to offer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mood Board Musings · Autumn

Excuse my "basic" autumn-lovin'-butt for a second, but its arrival is about a week away and I'm pretty stoked (as you can probably imagine). Bring on the pumpkin everythaaang! I'm kinda bummed that I've never had the pleasure of enjoying a real autumn though. We're talking about Florida here, but it's still my favorite season (besides spring). Plus, I'm technically an autumn baby so that's cool. A few more days in the oven and I would've popped out in winter. Glad that wasn't the case. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who seems to experience both a sense of peacefulness and rejuvenation when autumn rolls around each year. Maybe it's the crisp breezes or the homey feelings that accompany the season. Maybe it's the scents of pumpkin spice, cinnamon and clove. Maybe it's the rich, woodsy fragrance of sandalwood. Maybe it's all of the scrumptious food + beverages. Maybe it's the nights spent gathered around the fire pit with my loved ones. Maybe it's the feelings of nostalgia that beckon cheerful memories made in years past. Heck, maybe it's all of the cute clothes I get to wear (leggings and cardigans and scarves, oh my). Whatever it is, whatever causes me to feel this way, I wouldn't dare wish it away.

With all that said, it's mood board time! Haven't pieced one together in awhile :)

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11

Monday, September 14, 2015

Took a Trip to Jax

In case you were unaware or are currently living under a rock somewhere, we're halfway through September already. And that, my friends, straight up boggles my mind. I haven't blogged in over a month, which basically means that I have died or I am now carrying a tiny human inside of me according to blog-land terms. Rest assured, because neither of those scenarios have played out in my case. No, I'm falling back on my favorite and most overused excuse; I've been busy. Well, that's only partially true. I've experienced a little downtime over the past month, but I sure as heck didn't feel like blogging because, you know, there's this thing called Netflix and I enjoy vegging the freak out from time to time most of the time #letsbereal.

It's been well over two months since I shared anything that's happened in my life. My last currently post was actually way back in June (yikes). And the only thing that I really shared about in July was finding out about my friend's cancer diagnosis. She ended up having a hysterectomy and she'll be starting her chemotherapy the first of October (prayers are very much appreciated + her GoFundMe account is still live if you'd care to donate). I have faith that God will carry her through this.

There's just a handful of things that I feel are worth sharing when it comes to my life. First things first, I passed my first GED exam (with honors) back in July. It was just the language arts portion, but it felt good to get it out of the way. And passing with a high score wasn't so bad either. I celebrated over a passion tea lemonade and moved onto studying the next subject (social studies). Just three more tests to go and I'll be ready to tackle the next step in furthering my education + career.

In early August, I took a trip to Jacksonville / Atlantic Beach with my good friend, Amanda, to visit our other friend, Jennifer. She's the one who got married last October. Hard to believe their one year anniversary is a month away. We left on a Friday evening and stayed until Monday afternoon. The weekend was spent on the beach, lounging around the pool and hitting up the beach bars (so much fun). We also spent a night in, baked cookies, painted our nails, did face masks + watched a chick flick. Ya know, the whole shebang! It was a fantastic trip. On the way back home, Amanda and I stopped into St. Augustine (she had never been) for a little bit. The only hiccup we had driving back was an unforeseen tire separation. Thankfully, we were able to drive my car (very slowly) to the nearest Tire Kingdom where they put my spare on free of charge.

Last week, my husband stepped down from his supervisor position and called it quits. Without going into too much detail or letting my anger dictate what I'll say, his boss (the guy who took over for my dad when he passed away) is not management material. He's not good with people and his heart just isn't in it. All he cares about is the money and my husband finally had enough. It wasn't the job, at all. It was all the drama that went along with it. I just think it's funny that after he quit, three other employees followed his lead and quit as well. Our income will be taking a cut + our budget will need readjusting. But, sometimes the stress just isn't worth the extra money. God has always provided for us and I trust Him. G would have had to quit next year anyways because he's planning on going back to school. I was upset at first, but I think the whole situation is best summed up in a song lyric from Casting Crown's 'Just Be Held' — "Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place".

And, last but not least, we were finally able to book our family vacation. We normally go this time of year, but I wasn't sure if it would be possible this time around. God worked it all out and we'll be able to get away for 3 days next week. We're going to Orlando (no, not Disney). We're staying at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort + hopefully visiting Universal Studios as well. I mentioned it in this post. It may not seem like much to some people, but it's really difficult to get away when you run a family business that's open 24/7 and 3 days away with my family sounds like perfection right now. We're all pumped.

Welp, I believe I covered just about everything. Sorry for the lengthiness, peeps!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rainy Day at the Aquarium

Well, hey, we're almost halfway into August and I've yet to post anything around here. No shocker there. Life's been going pretty smooth minus the occasional hiccup here and there, but I'll try to fill y'all in on all of that another day. We've been dealing with a crazy amount of rainfall this summer. Instead of spending time outdoors, we have been trying to find fun things to do indoors. Last week, G and I took my mama out to brunch and then to the Florida Aquarium because we'd all been feeling cooped up. I have been a handful of times in the past, but it's still fun to explore. They added a few new attractions, but nothing major. I took capture some cool shots while practicing with my DSLR and I like how they turned out.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Things You Don't Know About Me

I've shared a couple (rather long) lists of random facts about me in the past, but I have since removed those posts. Instead of trying to cram them all into one day, I'd rather share a handful from time to time. I still like the idea of sharing little tidbits about myself because I feel like it's a good way for you guys to get a better sense of who I am and maybe you can relate.

My neck itches whenever I'm embarrassed.
It's like all the blood rushes to my neck. It started happening about seven years ago, although I can't really pinpoint the very first time (I probably thought nothing of it until I noticed that it was reoccurring). It hasn't been happening as often over the past year and I'm pretty sure it's due to the fact that I've learned how to laugh at myself. I'll admit, I still think it's weird.

I was homeschooled the last two years of high school.
High school sucked, big time. I was extremely timid and I had a really hard time coping with it. A few weeks into my junior year, my parents withdrew me and my sister-in-law started handling my schooling (she was/is homeschooling my niece and nephew). For my senior year, I chose to go through an online high school. The work was really hard and I wasn't motivated, which is why I was 1.5 credits short of having an accredited high school diploma. I'm currently working on getting my GED.

I'm a sucker for songs that incorporate the banjo.
I've always had a special place in my heart for stringed instruments (piano, violin, cello, acoustic guitar), but there's just something about the banjo that makes me giddy whenever I hear it. I can't explain it, but I certainly don't mind it.

I've only been to the ER once in my life.
It was after a fishing incident in which my friend (at the time) accidentally hooked me in the eyebrow as she was casting her line across the jon boat we were in. I'll never forget the neon orange worm dangling in front of my eye. I panicked, I cried, I laughed and cried some more. Once we made it to the hospital, it only took a shot to the forehead, a couple tugs and a tiny band-aid to fix. No stitches! The nurses and attending physicians sure had a nice laugh after I explained what happened.

I always add milk to my ice cream.
Basically, I can't eat ice cream without pouring milk over top of it first. I'm pretty sure my best friend, Lauren, introduced me to it many years ago and I've done it ever since. The milk thins it out a bit and makes it taste better (in my opinion).

My first pet was a lizard.
A Carolina anole, to be exact. My cousin caught him in her backyard and gave him to me to keep. I named him Benny after Benny "the Jet" Rodriguez from The Sandlot (one of my favorite movies growing up). He lived for well over a year, until the crickets that I fed him decided to gang up on him and beat him up one day. We tried our best to patch him up, but he was too far gone. I buried him in a matchbox beneath a big orange tree in our backyard. Rest in peace, little dude.

So, tell me something I don't know about you!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Color Crush No. 1

So, there's this itty-bitty series idea that I've been sitting on for a few months now. I've seen a couple of other bloggers do something similar, but it's time that I share my own version. In the past, I've always ran to Design Seeds when I'm seeking color inspiration, be it for a web design project or even an interior design endeavor (like redoing our bedroom). However, I would really like to create my own palettes using photos that catch my eye. Sometimes when I'm scrolling through Pinterest, I'll find a photograph that leaves me in awe, and the majority of the time that photo will incorporate a grand scheme of vivid colors. I'm really hoping to infuse my love of photography + bright colors and share the results with you guys. Here goes ;)

As soon as I laid eyes on this photograph by Russian marine biologist, Alexander Semenov, I knew I would have to showcase it here. Alexander definitely has a passion for underwater photography, which is evident in his work. I mean, just look at the brilliant colors of this jellyfish. Alexander graduated from Moscow State University's zoology department back in 2007. He now works as the chief of his diving team at the White Sea Biological Station (WSBS), where he has captured most of these magnificent photographs of various jellyfish as well as other sea life. You should take a moment to view his photo galleries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Currently // June

READING · I started Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins a couple days ago. It's been very insightful so far. I've always struggled with digging into the Bible and I've read other books in the past, but this one is different. It's actually quite helpful.

WATCHING · My mom and I recently started watching Grey's Anatomy. I tried watching it by myself in the past, but wasn't feeling it at the time. After searching through what felt like every single show that Netflix had to offer, I settled on giving it another shot. I'm glad I did, as it is a really good show and there's tons of episodes which is always a plus!

LISTENING TO · Since hearing about the sudden and tragic death of one of my all-time favorite composers/conductors, James Horner, I've been replaying his songs. He is best known for his film scores such as the ones he composed for Titanic, Braveheart and Avatar, all of which are beautiful pieces of music. However, the one I will cherish over all the others is from Casper (filmed in 1995). It's called Casper's Lullaby and I've loved it since I was a little girl. I even learned it on the piano many years ago and the fact that I've forgotten how to play it since truly saddens me. Hopefully it'll come back to me.

DISCOVERING · That things aren't always as they seem. I know that's a pretty vague analysis, but it's been ringing true in a few different areas of my life lately. Be it good or bad. This quote sums it up perfectly ❭ "Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden." — Phaedrus

PLANNING · Our family vacation in a few months. It was a toss up between staying at the beach again like we did last year, or heading to Orlando like we did the year before that. Although we love staying at Disney resorts and visiting their theme parks, their prices have become outrageous. We did end up picking Orlando, however we will be staying at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort. As soon as I looked up info about this place, I knew we had to stay there. It's a retro-themed hotel and it's only been opened for about a year. We're planning to visit Universal Studios while we're there too. I can't wait!

CRAVING · Sushi. No particular roll. I'd take almost anything doused in spicy mayo, ginger + soy sauce at the moment. Unless, of course, it's raw. That would just make me yack, haha. Tried it once and it's not for me.

WISHING · That I would have been less careless with my education when I was younger since I'm having to deal with the consequences now. Studying for a GED test at 25 totally sucks. And it's making me feel like a failure on so many levels.

FEELING · Anxious + a little frustrated at myself (because of what I mentioned above). But, I'll get over it. I always do.

PRAYING FOR · Wisdom and discernment. Also for God to reveal more of Himself to me as I try to draw closer to Him.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Mood Board Musings · Bedroom

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12

I think it's safe to say that mood boards keep my mind from exploding with ideas and I'm sure most of you would agree. These collages help me fuse together all of the inspiration I find around the web. It also allows me to see the big picture, decide what direction to take and establish an overall tone for whatever I'm working on at the moment. It's a great tool.

On Sunday, I decided it was time to tackle phase two of our bedroom makeover (phase one was done well over a year ago when I rearranged all our furniture). As you can see, this phase has taken me some time to initiate. I would like to blame it entirely on finances (or the lack thereof), but that wouldn't be true. The delay was pretty much caused by my complacency. I was okay with the way our bedroom looked for the most part. But I was reminded of how badly I wanted to change things up whenever I started reviewing the pins I had pinned to my secret bedroom board ages ago.

I've been changing things here and there over the course of the past year. That computer desk has been moved into the guestroom / office area and that space has been filled with a bookcase from Ikea. We have different bedside tables now and those black shelves have been taken down. It bugs me that I actually thought our room looked good when I took this photo. Ha. I didn't even take a minute to make the bed. What the heck. I'll be sure to fix that when I take new after photos!

I started out by buying new bedding at Target last week (shared here). From there, G and I decided that we really needed to repaint the walls. They have been turquoise for well over 7 years now. We both wanted something brighter, so we chose aqua (as seen below). We began painting on Sunday evening and we're only ¾ of the way finished with one more wall to complete. After that, we can move our furniture back into place and slowly start adding little touches until it's to our liking.

It's no secret that I'm completely obsessed with the sea and a lover of nautical trappings. Well, I'm also a fan of the whole bohemian + gypsy look and feel too. That's what I'm going for. A seafaring boho theme of sorts. Though I can't promise that I won't throw a few wild cards into the decor as my taste remains eclectic as heck. What can I say? I like what I like.

Hoping we'll wrap this whole project up tomorrow. I'm ready to see how it all comes together!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hold Your Head Up

I have a really bad habit of looking down at the floor whenever I'm walking past other people. I'm not sure when it started exactly, but I do know that it's been happening for many years now. Yesterday, as I was walking into work, I realized I was doing it again. Head hung, eyes focused on each forward step I took, hoping that I would just blend in with all of the surroundings and no one would notice me. All of a sudden, like a rushing wind, God spoke and it was as clear as day.


Woah. God called me out right then and there. He called me out of my little hiding place, the place where self-consciousness reigned over me. In 7 little words, He literally broke the chain that I had allowed myself to be enslaved by. Instantly, I lifted my head up. I felt a rush with each step I took after the revelation had come. The words kept replaying over and over again in my mind. Hold your head up! Because I created you. I formed you. There is no part of you that you need be ashamed of. There is no part of you that lacks. There is no part of you that is too much to accept. I created you, so hold your head up.

I just feel like someone else may have needed to hear this today.
Hold your head up! The same God who created the universe took the time to create you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Price of Freedom

I used to view Memorial Day as just another holiday. The BBQ's, the parties; another day to have fun with family and friends. I've always felt blessed to live in the United States, but I would have never considered myself the overly patriotic type. That all changed whenever I lost my dad to esophageal cancer (caused by exposure to agent orange in the Vietnam War) back in 2012. Sadly, it took me losing him to become more aware of the sacrifices that were made for my freedom in this country.

It's hard to believe that June 13th will mark 3 years that he's been gone. The time has helped heal the emotional wounds of his passing, but it will never fully take away the emptiness that remains in our lives. Even though he didn't lose his life on the front lines, his time overseas ultimately lead to the disease that killed him. I wish we could have visited his grave over the weekend. I would've loved to participate in the Memorial Day ceremony that took place at Florida National Cemetery.

Freedom isn't free. It never has been, it never will be. Blood shed, lives relinquished, families left shattered in the wake of wars past and present. This is reality; a sad truth. Those are the things that should never be taken lightly; the things that we should not fail to remember. To the countless individuals who laid down their lives so that I could freely live mine, thank you.

I'd also like to take this time to give my gratitude to the soldiers who have been severely injured while in the line of duty. There are so many men and women who are fortunate enough to make it out alive, but still need lots of help once returning home. My husband and I decided to start supporting a nonprofit organization the year before last that helps veterans and aids in their recovery when they come back from war. It feels good to know we're giving back.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Currently // May

READING · Lately I've been trying my best to stick with one book at a time instead of reading multiple. After finishing up Safe Haven and The Antelope in the Living Room, I jumped into Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen. I'm only a few chapters in, but it's really hitting home and I've gotten a lot out of it already.

WATCHING · Don't laugh, but I really like this new iZombie show on The CW. It's loosely based off of a comic book series. The main character, Olivia "Liv" Moore turns into a zombie after being attacked at a party she attended. She then starts working at a morgue in order to get her fill of brains (yum). Whenever she eats the brains of murder victims, she experiences flashbacks that give her clues to how they were killed. Sounds a bit morbid, I know. Then again, zombies are pretty grim to begin with. Besides that, I've been catching up on my guilty pleasure, Teen Mom. I've been binge-watching thanks to Hulu.

LISTENING TO · Mostly NEEDTOBREATHE (I really wish I could see them in concert next Wednesday night) + the soundtrack from The Theory of Everything. I didn't have the desire to see the movie, but I find the soundtrack to be extremely calming.

DISCOVERING · That the anxiety I've been dealing with over the past few weeks is totally avoidable. I have the ability to choose which thoughts to entertain and which thoughts to refrain from dwelling on. Our minds are like battlefields and every time a negative thought tries to invade, I have the power to make it leave. Coming to that realization has helped me cope with life + stress better. I decide what stays in my mind and I will no longer allow negativity, fear and depression to reign.

PLANNING · Our anniversary celebration. We'll both be working (together) on our actual anniversary, but I have something special all planned out once we get a free day. I'm hoping it all works out! 5 years is kind of a big deal (these days).

CRAVING · A toasted Cuban sandwich + stuffed potato ball from Coco's Sandwich Shop. Whenever we're working in the port (importing/exporting orange juice), we visit this shop regularly on account of it being right down the street. We haven't had an OJ ship in since March so I haven't had my fix. But, there's a ship coming in tomorrow, so I'll get both soon enough.

WISHING · I had a little extra money to work with at the moment. There are a handful of things I'd like to buy and some places I would love to go, but I'd rather be responsible with the money we have and use it on things we actually need.

FEELING · Expectant. I'm excited to see what the future holds for my family and I. There are big things on the horizon.

PRAYING FOR · God's guidance and peace as I'm in this season of transitioning (with work + trying to figure out the best plan for going back to school and all that jazz).

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Encouragement for the Encourager

She's the one who understands your pain, the one who tries to pick up the broken pieces and mends them together as she speaks life into the hopelessness that surrounds you. She's the one who lifts you up, brushes you off and gently nudges you to get back out there and try again. She sweeps through like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, her words spring forth with reassurance and grace. Encouragement flows throughout her like a steady stream.

At the end of the day, when the world has fallen silent, she comes back to the place where her day started. She stares blankly at the insecurities and failures that plague her own soul and feels a sense of sorrow for all she is not. She wonders why that river of fortitude is barren when it comes to herself. Where are the words of comfort, the terms of affirmation that once surged around her mind like a violent storm? Did she use them up on everyone around her? Did she not save any for the girl looking back at her in the mirror? She's the one who raises you up, even when she can barely keep herself afloat.

I am an encourager. Helping others and speaking life into their all but hopeless situations really fires me up. I'm passionate about lending a shoulder to cry on or listening when someone needs to get something off of their chest. I am called to pour out love, envelope people with grace, and aid those who are hurting. I am the girl who is quick to pick you up whenever you stumble and fall. But I'm also the girl who struggles with showing that same love, grace and aid to herself. Reaching out to those in need comes naturally to me, but it's a different story whenever I'm the one in need.

I didn't even realize how much I struggle with this until a few nights ago. I was working at Target, manning the fitting rooms and I encountered a couple of women who were speaking poorly about themselves (more specifically their bodies) as they stepped out to hand me the clothing items they had tried on. I don't remember their exact words, but I do remember the sadness that I felt for them. I wanted both of them to know that they were beautiful. I wanted them to know that they were more than enough. Regrettably, I kept my thoughts to myself as I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable. As they walked away, heads down in a mental defeat, I wondered why I was so eager to lift them up when most times I find myself speaking the same way about myself. Until that point, I had not thought about all the times that I could have (or should have) chosen to speak words of affirmation to the girl starring back in the mirror. I'm still learning to nurture myself the same way I so desperately wish to nurture others. Because when all is said and done, I'm probably the one who needs it most.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Recent Finds No. 15

1. How true are the words on this print? The bare wall directly above my desk could really use some encouraging messages, and I believe this one would go perfectly. It would be a great reminder when I'm battling anxious feelings.

2. Have any of you guys ever tried broiling grapefruit before? I have not, but this recipe for broiled grapefruit with honey and bananas has made me want to try it soon. We have two grapefruit trees in our backyard, so I have no excuse for waiting.

3. I have this intense obsession with the sea, and it's mostly due to being around it so much growing up. Since I was little, I have been visiting the port with my parents (for their line handling business). And the majority of men in my family were tugboat captains as well (my dad, grandpa, and two uncles) So, as you can imagine, it feels like this love of nautical elements has been engrained in me over the years. With all that being said, I'm very fond of this illustration.

4. I would have never thought to create a photo display using driftwood like this one. I'm thinking this would be a nice addition to our bedroom, especially since I've been looking for a creative way to showcase our photos for some time now.

5. Lately I have been drawn to abstract art such as this art print by Lucy Knott on Society6. Anything that showcases a black and white image with a pop of color tends to catch my eye easily (and I have a thing for hands).

6. Bokeh city lights (taken in Bangkok I believe). Love how colorful this shot is. The photographer did a fantastic job of turning something as ordinary as a city street into a work of art. I only wish that I could find the original source.

7. This whole tabletop terrarium trend has my attention. I know that they've been around for ages now, but after seeing this ship terrarium, I decided that I need to buy one (or make one myself since it's mad easy).

8. These baked margarita chicken wings look tasty. The recipe sounds simple and doesn't call for many ingredients. #score.

9. Again with the words. Well, this quote is pretty spot on. Let's focus more of our attention and effort onto being kind, funny, smart and strong instead of wasting time trying to fit into the superficial mold that society has so kindly provided us.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Celebrating Relationship Milestones

Yesterday marked six years since G asked me to marry him. As silly as it may seem to some people, I thoroughly enjoy celebrating (or at least acknowledging) whenever these milestones in our relationship come around each year. We didn't really celebrate this time, per se. I was curled up on the couch, fighting an intense migraine for the majority of the afternoon.

Later in the evening, I finally decided that it was time to wave my little white flag and surrender. Which, in this case, meant popping a couple of ibuprofen pills. For the record, I loathe taking medicine of any kind (unless it's a natural home remedy or some kind of essential oil). But I couldn't take the pain any longer. About 30 minutes passed by and I began to feel a little better. I was able to cook dinner (chicken and mushroom rotini + salad), and then I freshened up as G said he wanted to visit the bookstore. So we took a drive to our local Barnes and Noble and spent some time together. We do this quite often, actually. If we're feeling cooped up or need a little time away, we visit the bookstore. He'll grab a handful of magazines as I scout out a book to read, then we make our way to the café to grab coffees (and an occasional sweet treat).

It was too late to drink coffee when we went last night, so I opted for a passion tea lemonade and he chose a strawberry banana smoothie plus a vanilla bean cupcake. I was going to pass on the sweets, but I grabbed a massive chocolate chip cookie right before the barista totaled all of our items. We sat and read, chatted a bit, sipped on our beverages and ate our goodies. Whenever we first walked into the door, I found myself drawn to a book/journal that was titled 500 Writing Prompts. As I scanned through it, I knew I had to buy it (the inner blogger in me was pretty stoked). And I did just that, along with a book from the 30 Second series called 30 Second Photography which had been on my wish-list for a few months now. After roughly an hour, we began our drive back home. I still love spending time with G, even if it's a simple trip to the bookstore.

Do you and your significant other still celebrate important milestones like this?

Monday, April 06, 2015

April Update

I often wonder just how many of my past entries have begun with the words "it's been a while" or "let's catch up". It feels as though months and months have passed by since I last connected with you all here, but in reality I've only been away for a few weeks. I may never be as consistent with sharing here as I'd like to be, but after nearly 3 years of blogging, I'm finally realizing that there's nothing wrong with my long spans of silence and stillness. Life gets pretty hectic and priorities change.

I used to have really big plans for this blog, but here lately I'm wanting more and more to simply use it as an outlet. A place to pour out my heart and share what's on my mind when time allows. I'm no longer wrapped up in the amount of followers I have or don't have, though I do appreciate each and every individual that has made the effort to follow along, read my thoughts and share their own (you guys are seriously awesome). With all that being said, there are a handful of things that I'd like to share about that have happened while I've been away.

1. I started sportin' a new 'do. I'd been going back and forth with the whole full bangs idea for a long time. I tried them out a couple years ago, but quickly veered back to the good ol' side bangs soon after. My sister-in-law did the honors a little over a month ago, and I love the way that they turned out. On the days that I don't really feel like bothering with them, I just use a headband to keep them pushed back. I do think that they suit me well and I plan to keep them for a long time.

2. I believe I found a new home church. In early March, I was invited to a service at Citylife Church here in Tampa by my good friend, Steph. As soon as I walked into this church, I had a good feeling about it. The week before, I had visited another church that was closer to our house with my friend, Lauren, and both of us felt it wasn't the right place. Citylife was different though. In a way, stepping through the front doors felt like coming home. I know that I was leaning towards a smaller church, but despite it's size, I feel good here. The praise and worship was anointed, the message was just what I needed to hear and I felt the Holy Spirit as soon as I entered the sanctuary. I've only been able to go to one service so far, but I look forward to going back soon. G wasn't able to visit yet either, but I have a feeling he'll like it too.

3. G and I were able to visit our friends in northern Florida. Ever since our friends, Jennifer and Jose, moved up to the Jacksonville area back in October, we have been trying to plan a trip up to visit them. Two weeks ago, we were finally able to. It was awesome how everything fell into place. G and I were afraid we weren't going to be able to make the trip up before my LOA from Target was up (I go back in a week). But, lo and behold, it happened and we had a blast! We stayed with them for two days before heading down to St. Augustine, which brings me to my next point.

4. We were finally able to stay in St. Augustine for a couple days. Although it was rainy a good portion of our time there, we made the best of it. I'll be sharing a whole entry about our time there. Good food was eaten, great places were explored and memories were made. I'm so glad we were able to enjoy some quality alone time. It was much needed.

5. I finally purchased an e-reader (as an early anniversary present). My dear friend, Charlene (from Charlene Zale), pretty much talked me into it. She's extremely persuasive and it played a huge role in my decision to pick the Kindle Paperwhite. It's been one heck of an investment. I've found that I read quicker when using my Kindle. Since our wedding anniversary is in May, I decided it could be an early present (totally justifiable). I couldn't be more happy with this device.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Ringling · Ca' d'Zan + Art Museum

I know I'm a little late, as I had mentioned last week that I would share about the other sections of The Ringling. But, here I am almost a week later (obviously I'm still working on my consistency). In my previous post, I focused only on the circus museum, but today I'm going to cover the mansion and the art museum. As I said before, it was a lot to take in. There was so much history packed into each place that we explored that day and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Let me briefly explain a bit of the history before I jump right into the photos. John Ringling was one of 5 brothers who owned and operated the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In the 1920's, John was one of the richest men in America. He and his wife, Mable, purchased about 20 acres in Sarasota (along Sarasota Bay) back in 1911. In 1924, Dwight James Baum began construction on what is now one of the most beautiful pieces of Venetian Gothic architecture in the area. It took 2 years to complete. At 5 stories tall, this mansion — the Ca' d'Zan (or House of John) — holds 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. Having the opportunity to walk the halls of this historic wonder was a real treat. We were also able to stroll around Mable's rose garden while we were exploring the grounds, which was really nice.

Both John and Mable shared a love for Italy and art (as if their choice in architectural style didn't give it away). While he traveled throughout Europe in search of acts to add to the circus, John began obtaining art and quickly built up a pretty large collection. It seemed the more that he collected, the more he fell in love with it all. He grew extremely passionate about art, both paintings and sculptures, learning everything that he could from books and dealers he came in contact with. After the mansion was completed, he built a museum that consisted of 21 galleries to showcase all of his precious pieces. John opened up the Museum of Art to the public in 1931, after his wife passed away two years prior. His hope was to help promote both education and appreciation for the art he had come to admire so dearly.

His collection was pretty impressive. I learned a lot while we were there and I certainly wouldn't mind visiting again in the future. If you're ever in the Sarasota area, make sure to add it to your list of must-sees. Now, let's get to the photos!

And that concludes are trip! It was one for the books, for sure.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blackout Poetry No. 1

"When her words found the broken door, it was too late. She went on, she tried. Still she said, I can do no more.
No wonder she felt smaller and rather sorrowful. There's always lessons to learn."

I remember the first time I stumbled onto blackout poetry a few weeks ago, I was rather intrigued. I knew from that very moment that it was something I'd like to try myself. I had never heard of this before, but I think it's brilliant. Taking pages from books, old or new, and forming poems from the words within that page. I plan to do more of these and I'd love to share them with you all. I made my first last night using a page from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Whenever I decided that I wanted to give this a shot, I went to Goodwill in hopes of finding a book that I could use solely for this form of poetry, but I couldn't bare to mark through any of the books I found and actually ended up leaving with a handful to read instead. I, then, searched Google to see if I could find free PDF files of different books and I ended up discovering They have thousands of books, including the works of Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and many more. There's certainly enough material to keep me busy for awhile.