Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reminders for My First Year


Well, today's the day! Today I'm starting my first year of college. I can say with all honesty that I never thought I would make it to this point. I spent so many years going back and forth with this decision, never knowing if it was the right option for me. I realize now that I was only holding myself back because my fears were bigger than my faith (in God + in myself). I just wanted to take some time to share a few pieces of encouragement not only with myself, but with anyone who is in the same boat as I am. Really, for anyone who is about to embark on a journey of any kind be it going back to school, tackling a new career endeavor, or working hard to accomplish a goal you have set. Whatever the case, I hope that these little reminders help you along the way.


T R U S T  G O D  +  T R U S T  T H E  P R O C E S S

YOU ONLY FAIL WHENEVER YOU STOP TRYING

YOU ARE TOO SMART TO BE THE ONLY THING STANDING IN YOUR WAY

N E V E R  U N D E R E S T I M A T E  T H E  P O W E R  O F  A  P O S I T I V E  M I N D S E T

GROWTH IS UNCOMFORTABLE BUT IT'S ALWAYS WORTH IT

REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE GIVING UP

I F  Y O U  G E T  T I R E D  ,  L E A R N  T O  R E S T  ,  N O T  Q U I T

THE STRUGGLE YOU'RE FACING TODAY IS DEVELOPING YOU FOR TOMORROW

BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE WHILE WORKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT 

D E C I D E  T H A T  Y O U  W A N T  I T  M O R E  T H A N  Y O U  A R E  A F R A I D  O F  I T

Monday, August 14, 2017

Little Letters // August


So, I probably should have joined in with Kristin (from Taz + Belly) for this little link-up on Friday along with everyone else, but oh well. Better late than never, right?

Dear RAINY WEATHER, it's time for you to leave now. I'm serious. I know I shared my appreciation for you last month, but enough is enough. We need a break to dry out from your daily visits. I feel as though I have been trapped indoors, with the exception of a few days, for over a month. Cozy rainy days have lost their luster.

Dear COLLEGE, you better watch out because I'm coming for you and I'm ready to dominate. Well, that is as soon as I conquer this increasing nervousness that I've been experiencing as my first day creeps up.

Dear THE OFFICE, thank you for always making my husband and I laugh our butts off. There's not a day that goes by when I don't reference your comical shenanigans in some way or another. All your episodes have been watched twice so far, but we're diligently working on changing that. Round three, let's go!

Dear FACEBOOK, it's been almost two weeks since I decided to cut ties with you. Everyone tried to tell me that I'd miss you, but I don't. I actually feel free. Free from the drama-ridden posts, free from the overly opinionated comments, free from the defensive friends who take every written word to heart, free from the fake portrayals of ordinary lives, free from those stupid game invitations. I can live without you and I intend to do just that.

Dear CHRONIC TACOS, you are a blessing to both my taste buds and my wallet. Delicious tacos that are budget friendly. I know that you and I are going to be good friends. This is the start of a beautiful relationship.

Dear TAE BO, I freaking love you. You really kept me on my toes (or should I say off my butt) every single day last week. I've even dropped a couple more pounds thanks to your sweat-inducing fitness DVDs. I'll do my best to incorporate you into my daily exercise routine in the weeks and months to come!

Dear TARGET CLEARANCE, we've been seeing a lot of each other lately. However, I can't complain because you have given me the opportunity to purchase some items that my budget wouldn't have otherwise allowed.

Dear OPI SUZI NAILS NEW ORLEANS, you are the shade of pink that I have been looking for my whole life the past two years. You are perfect. So perfect that I had to have you for my personal collection.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Top Film Picks · Romance

I have been wanting to start a little series similar to my Top TV Picks (VOL.1, VOL. 2 + VOL. 3), but I knew that I wanted to stick with sharing specific film genres for each post. When I first started compiling a list of my personal favorites for this first genre, I thought that I would only share six with you guys. Well, as you can see, it wasn't that easy. There are too many great movies out there and I refuse to settle on just six. So, with that being said, here are 12 movies (in no particular order) that I've deemed the best as far as chick flicks go!






What are some of your favorite chick flicks?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Visiting Pass-a-Grille Beach

It finally stopped raining long enough to spend a nice day at the beach! On Saturday morning my friend, Esther, and I drove down to St. Pete Beach for the day. There's a small beach community at the southern end of St. Pete Beach called Pass-a-Grille. It was my first time visiting this particular area, but I'm sure it won't be my last. It's such a quaint spot. Thankfully, it's kinda tucked away from all the other tourist-filled beaches. There was still a decent amount of beach-goers, but it wasn't as packed as Clearwater or the surrounding beaches.

It had been a few months since Esther and I had a chance to hang out. Our afternoon was spent soaking up the sunshine, fighting off seagulls, listening to Michael Bublé + Ed Sheeran, frolicking in the warm waves, feasting on yummy Publix subs / wraps, taking too many photos (if there is such a thing), and catching up on all the girl-talk. It was such a great day. I hope to have more beach adventures together in the future. Now, photos!


bathing suit top • Target // bathing suit bottom • Torrid // floppy hat • Walmart

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Experiencing a Nesting Spell

 
You know how pregnant women tend to begin "nesting" before the birth of their children? They'll have this overwhelming urge to clean / organize their entire dwelling before they bring their babies home. No, I'm not announcing that I'm pregnant, but I have been experiencing a serious nesting spell of sorts. Nesting, in my opinion, is best defined as the tendency to arrange one's immediate surroundings, such as a work station, to create a place where one feels secure, comfortable, or in control. I honestly think this may be my way of coping with the nervous excitement I feel about starting school on Tuesday. It makes sense.

Over the last couple weeks I have been so focused on getting everything in order around the house before my classes start up. I find myself waking up earlier than usual and using any free time that I have to deep clean different parts of the house. I have tackled all of the laundry (almost every single day), cleaned out the clutter from our home office, tidied up my desk + vanity area, reorganized my closet / dresser drawers (on numerous occasions). I feel like I have to have everything in perfect order before I hit the ground running with my studies. Is this odd, or have any of you experienced this as well? I feel like I still have so much to do to prepare.

I have even been trying to nest on social media. I happily went off the grid when it came to Facebook. I tried to deactivate it, but there are too many apps that use my Facebook account as my log-in info (like Cartwheel). My account was reactivated as soon as I logged into those apps (which is kind of annoying). So, earlier this afternoon I simply posted that I won't be checking it going forward and told people not to assume I'm being a douche-bag if I don't respond to them. I also deleted my Twitter about 10 days ago. It's like I'm trying to clean up all the things, haha. I don't want any distractions. I'm sure this little phase will run its course, eventually.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

August Goals


Guys, it's August! This is the month I've been anxiously awaiting all year! The summer passed by quickly (not that it's actually over yet, but it feels that way). I start my first semester of college in two weeks! Eeeeek! Even though I didn't get to do as much as I would have liked to do over the summer (because of the weather + finances), I still enjoyed having a little season of rest before my schedule gets busier. I knocked out the majority of my goals last month. I even finished reading four books! All those days stuck inside came in handy.

 J U L Y  G O A L S

(✘) Get outside more (if the weather allows).
No. We were cooped up inside most of the month, because rain.

(✔) Finish reading The Circle + reread The Night Circus.
(✔)  Plan at least one inexpensive date night.
Yes, we used our last complimentary ticket for CinéBistro to see Planet of the Apes.

(✔) Go to OneBlood to give a donation.
Unfortunately, this didn't happen. Hoping to donate this month.

(✘) Take my niece + nephew to the gun range.
I wish! They were too busy. We're shooting (pun intended) for next week.

(✔) Try to create some semblance of a schedule.
I'd say so. I've been keeping up with my to-do list / getting things done.

(✔)  Reorganize my desk in preparation for school.
I'll admit, I didn't do this until last night. Still counts as a win!

A U G U S T  G O A L S

(01) Prepare for the first week of school.

(02) Go to the gym 2x per week to work full body.

(03) Start + finish reading Lioness Arising.

(04) Attend Brave Nights at church.

(05) Spend time with 3 different friends.

(06) Schedule blog posts a week in advance.

(07) Have my hair trimmed or styled.

(08) Visit Disney Springs with my family.

(09) Catch up on yard work.


What are some of your goals for August?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

6 Ways to Stretch Your Money


This post had been residing within my drafts for some time now. As I mentioned in my latest currently post, G and I have been trying to learn how to better manage our finances while paying off some debt that we've acquired. So, right now seems to be the perfect time to share. All the tips that I've compiled below have really helped us in stretching our money over the course of the year! I know I can't be the only one who would benefit from taking a few of these steps. If you have any other tricks to add, feel free to share them in the comments!

GRAVITATE TOWARD THE CLEARANCE SECTION
Now, this isn't something that I started doing recently. I've always found myself being pulled to the clearance sections, especially when it comes to clothing items. The best stores that I've come across for marked-down clothes are Target and JcPenney. There's always a huge selection of items, both in-store + online, for these retailers. I honestly can't remember the last time I paid full price for clothes. I snagged about 3 pairs of jeans from Target's online clearance for $8-$9 a pop, verses the $28-$30 they would normally cost. And JcPenney? Just last week I was able to score a pair of $45 jeans for a mere $5. You really can't beat shopping clearance!

DO AT-HOME MANICURES + PEDICURES
This may or may not be something you're willing to give up. If having your nails done at a salon is something that makes you extremely happy or you use it as a form of self-care, by all means continue to invest in yourself. For me, on the other hand, this is something that I gave up years ago. I just couldn't stand shelling out $30-$40 a visit for mani-pedis whenever I am more than able to paint my own nails in the comfort of my home. Just give me a few different shades of nail polish + a bottle of Essie's good to go top coat and I'm set.

CUT OR DYE YOUR OWN HAIR (IF YOU'RE FEELING BRAVE)
For all you brave souls out there, I've found an endless supply of YouTube tutorials for trimming your own hair. I've actually been doing this on and off for about two years now. It's honestly not as difficult as you may think. It's as simple as straightening your hair, pulling it all to the front of your head + tying it, then tying another hairband right below the section you're willing to chop off. My only advice would be a) make sure the scissors you're using are sharp and b) cut small sections off at a time until you're pleased with the length. You can always cut off more, but once it's cut it's gone until it grows back! If you want to have your hair styled, I would recommend going to a salon for that as it's much more tricky. When it comes to dying your own hair, just pick out a boxed dye at the store and follow the instructions. My go-to boxed dye is Garnier Nutrisse. It's about $7.

COOK AT HOME MORE / EAT OUT LESS
Okay, this one is a must if you're trying to stretch your funds! I never even realized how much we were paying for fast food or restaurant food each month until I sat down and did the math. It was ridiculous to say the least. I understand it may seem more convenient to grab a meal whenever you're on-the-go, but if you could save a bunch of money if you simply plan ahead. Meal planning has helped us tremendously. Not only have we been saving money on groceries each week, but we've actually been using everything that we buy instead of letting some of the items go to waste. Making your meals at home is also a healthier option since you can't always be sure of what restaurants are using in their food. You'd be surprised how many hidden calories are in some of these meals! Believe me, I'm not saying you should cut off eating out altogether. Just limit how many times per week / month you go out to eat (this obviously depends on your personal budget). I will say that since we started eating out less, I've found it to be more special when we do get to go out. It feels like a treat!

RENT MOVIES INSTEAD OF GOING TO SEE THEM IN THE THEATER
Is it just me, or have you guys noticed how much the price of movie tickets continue to go up? I remember when it was $6 to get in, now it's nearly doubled that amount. This is another one that I'm not saying should be cut off completely, rather limit how much you're going to the theater. G and I are avid movie-goers, so this has been a tough one for us! We especially love going to see all of the Marvel / DC movies. The easiest way to overcome this challenge was to prioritize which movies we wanted to view. We had to ask ourselves if it was a movie we'd be willing to wait to watch or did we have to go see it as soon as it made a debut on the big screen? Hello, Wonder Woman. Just like going out to eat, going to the theater less has made it more special.

DOWNLOAD APPS THAT WILL HELP YOU SAVE
I'd say I began doing this after I started working at Target a few years back. Once I was introduced to their Cartwheel app, I started looking into other apps that would also help in saving money. A couple of my favorites are Walmart's Savings Catcher app + Groupon. The Savings Catcher app allows you to scan all of your Walmart receipts into their database. Their system then searches the items you bought to see if they were on sale / cheaper at any other store. If they do find that an item was offered at a lower rate, they'll give you back the difference. in reward dollars.You can redeem these reward dollars and transfer them to a Walmart gift card. Genius. So far, we've gotten back roughly $175 through this app in the last couple years. I usually let our rewards stack up to about $20-$30 then use it on meat. And I don't have to say much about Groupon, as I'm sure most of you have heard of it before! I haven't been using it much lately, but they always offer good deals.

I hope that these tips + tricks help you guys as much as they've helped us :)

Monday, July 24, 2017

6 Shark Films to Watch this Summer

 
So, if you didn't know, yesterday marked the start of Shark Week! I'll be honest in confessing that I wasn't always a fan of sharks. I found myself terrified of them at one point in time. So much so that I found it difficult to even look at photos of great whites. Crazy, I know. I'd say my mindset changed whenever I met my husband. He's loved tuning into all the shark-themed television shows + movies around this time of year since he was a child. After watching Shark Week with him early on in our marriage, I was hooked. I learned so much about these impressive creatures. They shouldn't be feared, but they should be respected. It's simple, really. If you don't want to risk being attacked, stay out of their domain. With all that being said, I rounded up a handful of shark movies that I've since enjoyed watching. I'd highly recommend viewing all of these if you have a chance!

JAWS
This one is a classic for shark lovers and cinephilias alike. Actually, I'd even go as far as recommending all of the Jaws films Jaws, Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D + Jaws: The Revenge. The first two are the best, in my opinion.

THE SHALLOWS
I watched this one with my family about two weeks ago, but it came out sometime last year. It was much better than I initially thought it would be. It kept me on the edge of my seat. Plus, I really like Blake Lively.

This was also one that I watched a couple weeks back. I believe it came out last month. Now, it's not the best shark movie in the world. However, it is pretty decent considering there aren't very many good shark movies out there. It kept my attention, which is pretty hard to do these days since I lose interest quickly.

90's movies, man. They sure knew how to make them back then. This one came out in 1999, but it's one of the best shark movies that I've seen thus far. I even took the time to rewatch it yesterday! It's just that good.

Okay, this one is so much more than just another shark movie. It's actually based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who lost her left arm during a shark attack back in 2003. I had the opportunity to hear Bethany share her testimony at a Christian youth conference I attended when I was a teenager. Her story is truly inspiring, as she pushed through her fear and chased her dream of continuing to surf professionally after the attack. She even went on to place 1st in many surf competitions. I'm not sure I could ever muster up the courage to get back in the water after such a traumatic event.

FINDING NEMO
I just threw this one in for fun. I mean, who doesn't love Bruce and his Aussie mates, Anchor + Chum? Besides, he's one of my favorite characters on this animated underwater adventure. I couldn't help but include it here.

Are there any shark movies that you would recommend I watch? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Currently // July


EATING · Cotton candy grapes. I eventually got my hands on a bag of them at Sprouts Farmers Market earlier this month! I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They certainly lived up to the hype. I also had a chance to try a few RXBar protein bars. The chocolate sea salt and blueberry are my preferred flavors so far.  

DRINKING · New England Coffee's chocolate cappuccino + cinnamon hazelnut coffee. I've always been a fan of their blueberry cobbler coffee, but these two flavors were just as delicious. I also found a new (to me) brand of kombucha, Big Easy Bucha, at Publix recently that was pretty good. I tried the bayou berry. I'd get it again.

READING · I'm glad I can say that I finally finished up The Circle a couple weeks back. Too bad the ending was garbage (just my personal opinion). I was excited about seeing the movie, but it turned out to be just as bad. Oh, well. On top of that, I completed two other books since then. I'm on a freakin' roll, yo. I'm hoping I can keep up the momentum. At this point in time, I'm reading Stolen Innocence as well as rereading The Night Circus.

WATCHING · It's summertime, so we've been rewatching my all-time favorite show, Fringe. This has become a tradition of mine. I was sad whenever Netflix removed it. Thankfully we own seasons 1-5 on DVD. G and I are still working our way through The Office. We're on the last season, but we both agreed that we'd totally watch it for a third time. I doubt I'll ever get tired of it. Other than that, I'll be tuning into Shark Week in a few hours!
 
LISTENING TO · New instrumental finds by Rupert Gregson-Williams. He is the composer that arranged film scores for Wonder Woman, Tarzan, Hacksaw Ridge, etc. His music is really good, if you're into it like I am. 

PLANNING · A road trip up to my mama's hometown of Thomasville, Ga. I'm hoping to go before school starts next month. It's only about a 5 hour drive from where we live. I've never had the opportunity to visit.

WISH-LISTING · New clothes. I have gone from a size 14/16 (L/XL) to a size 8/10 (S/M) over the course of the year. Slowly trying to update my wardrobe when I find good deals at Target (clearance section), Plato's Closet and Goodwill. There are a few more pieces I'd like to replace ― a pair of olive green pants + a few new tops.

LEARNING · How to better handle our finances and form a plan to pay down debt. I haven't shared this, but Sammie went through another bout with struvite crystals the first of this month. Our regular vet was closed (it happened on a Sunday), so our only option was to bring him to the emergency clinic. Two days later, we were hit with another high bill which brought the total balance of his medical expenses to nearly $3,000. As you can imagine, this wasn't something we planned for. We've since formed a plan to pay this off as quickly as we can.

FEELING · A little confined lately. With all the thunderstorms over the past few weeks, we've just being staying at home / indoors whenever we aren't working out in it. I want some sunshine so I can go frolic outside, lol.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Top TV Picks · Vol. 3

Well, I figured it was about time that I share another round of my top TV picks. It's been quite some time since I filled you guys in on VOL. 1 + VOL. 2. I included a handful of older shows in this batch, but just because they aren't brand-new doesn't mean they aren't worth checking out! I assure you that they're as good as, if not better than, the majority of shows that have recently come out. Maybe you'll find something new to watch below :)




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sarasota on a Rainy Sunday

About a month ago, Charlene (from Charlene Zale) and I took a day trip down to Sarasota. The forecast looked a bit grim that Sunday morning, but we refused to let it alter our plans in any way. It took roughly an hour and a half to reach our destination. Once in Sarasota, we wasted no time in making our way to the first stop on our list of places to visit ― Bookstore1Sarasota. It was a charming little shop with a very nice selection of books, so it's really no surprise that we spent a good amount of time looking through everything they had to offer.

By the time Charlene finally picked out a book to bring home, we were ready to get our caffeine fix from Buddy Brew Coffee. Thankfully the coffee shop was within walking distance of the bookstore. As I was sipping the last of my vanilla latte, Charlene realized that she had a big dilemma on her hands. The memory card in her camera was full. However, it didn't take her long to track down a nearby Best Buy and purchase a new one. We really dodged a bullet there. By the time we got back to the car, the clouds cracked open and it started pouring.

It was nearly lunch time, so we figured it best to pop into a restaurant for a bite to eat. We quickly decided on First Watch. It's one of my favorites, but Charlene had never been before. I knew they offered a wide range of healthy dishes, as well as vegetarian options for her. Our food was delicious, but I didn't expect anything less. It seemed like we finished eating just as the sun started coming out. It gave us the perfect amount of time to explore the Main Street area + St. Armand's Circle. The clouds were starting to grow dark again as we broke away from the hustle and bustle of the shops to visit Lido Key. After enjoying some time on the beach, I was concerned we wouldn't get back to the car before the rain started falling again, but we made it just in time.

The drive back to Tampa was a bit alarming, as heavy sheets of rain seemed to fall for miles and miles. We were both finding it difficult to see the road in front of us, but we finally drove out of it. Besides that, the trip was awesome! I'm looking forward to more adventures together in the future. There's never a dull moment whenever we hang out. Well, I suppose I've said enough. Now, onto the photos. I'm also sharing the vlog / montage that Charlene pieced together at the end. She really has a knack for video editing!

Saturday, July 01, 2017

July Goals


We're officially on the downhill slope of 2017. I realize I say this every month, but where did June go? I feel like my life is stuck on fast-forward. Each day seems shorter than the one before. It makes me sad, but it also gives me a good reason to live every moment intentionally instead of simply going through the motions. I've noticed that I tend to guard my time now. I view it as if it were a sacred gem, a cherished possession that mustn't be mishandled. Anyway, I wasn't able to get through all my June goals, but I slashed through half of them. July is going to be very busy for me (work-wise), so I won't be aiming too high this month.

J U N E  G O A L S

(✘) Start writing in my gratitude journal daily.
Nope. I only managed to do this for about three days. Smh.
 
(✘) Finish reading the rest of The Circle.
No, but I did get through most of it. I still have about 100 pages left.

(✘)  Take my niece + nephew to the gun range.
Negative. Just couldn't work it into our budget for the month.

(✔) Go to the beach at least once.
Yep. I was able to visit Lido Key with Charlene (post coming soon).

(✔) Reorganize my bedroom closet + drawers.
Yes. This was actually done the day after I shared my goals here.

(✔) Go see Wonder Woman in theaters.
Heck, yeah. And it was nothing short of incredible.

(✔)  Locate my sketchbook + start drawing again.
Affirmative. I only sketched two pieces, but it still counts.

J U L Y  G O A L S

(01) Get outside more (if the weather allows).

(02) Finish reading The Circle + reread The Night Circus.

(03) Plan at least one inexpensive date night.

(04) Go to OneBlood to give a donation.

(05) Take my niece + nephew to the gun range.

(06) Try to create some semblance of a schedule.

(07) Reorganize my desk in preparation for school.


What are some of your goals for July?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Currently // June


EATING · All the summer salads. Chicken, strawberries, sunflower seeds. Sweet corn, zucchini, yellow squash.

DRINKING · Iced tea (since it's so hot). I've also been trying to incorporate an apple cider vinegar mix once a day. I combine about a cup of hot water, a tbsp of ACV + a tsp of raw honey. It gives me a little energy boost.

READING · Still making my way through The Circle. I need someone to keep me accountable when it comes to reading. I've had every intention of setting aside more time to read, but I just find myself being sucked into the Netflix vortex. I did the math. If I read 35 pages each day that's left in June, I'll be able to finish it.

WATCHING · I've jumped back into Doctor Who after missing skipping the last two seasons. I didn't really care for the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), but I gave him another shot. I mean, it's not like anyone could live up to my personal favorites, Eleven (Matt Smith), or Ten (David Tennant). With that being said, I guess he's not so bad. We also started a new (to us) sci-fi series last night called Dark Matter. So far it's really interesting. Lastly, Lifetime movies. Something about rainy days makes me want to watch drama-ridden movies.
 
LISTENING TO · Thanks to Charlene (from Charlene Zale), I've been jammin' out to the soundtrack for Wonder Woman. And, no, I still haven't seen it! We're planning on going next week. I know it's going to be incredible!

PLANNING · How to make the most of the rest of the summer. June is pretty much gone. I'm sure July will follow its lead. I want to make sure I'm taking full advantage of the time.

WISH-LISTING · Ever since giving G an ancestry DNA testing kit from 23andMe for his birthday last week, I have been wanting one too. I'll probably ask to be gifted one for my birthday, but December seems so far away.

LEARNING · More tips for living a minimalistic lifestyle. It's been about a year since I started fully embracing the idea of minimalism. The older I get, the less it takes to truly make me happy (material-wise). 

FEELING · Well rested. I've had a lot of time off from work in the past month. So much so that I've been getting a bit restless (the rain hasn't been helping). Nevertheless, I'm still thankful for some down time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Five Things I Miss About My Dad


❝A great man is one who leaves others at a loss after he is gone.❞
― Paul Valery

Well, it's been a long time since I've opened up and let those feelings of sadness bubble to the surface of my heart. I used to be the type to hide painful memories deep down like a treasure chest. I'd throw away the key + burn the maps in hopes of never having to revisit them again. However, I've since learned that it's much more beneficial to release the grief from time to time. It's alright to be emotional sometimes. It's okay to break down when I think of everything my dad has missed and will miss. It's normal to miss him and wish he was still here.

I had this long, somewhat melancholy post typed up and ready to share yesterday morning. After mulling over my options of pressing publish or keeping that entry to myself, I chose the latter. Instead of focusing on the sorrow that will forever be tethered to June 13th, I want to redirect my thoughts + emotions to reflect a sense of celebration. I want to honor my dad by rejoicing in the years he lived, the life he led, and the memories we shared. I sure do miss him, but I've found peace in knowing it's more of a see you later rather than a good-bye.

It's hard to believe that yesterday marked five years since he passed away. Sometimes it feels like it hasn't even been that long, while other times it seems as though it's been so much longer. There are so many things that I miss, things I never thought I'd be so adamant about trying to remember forever. I thought it would be nice to document five things I find myself missing most often (five things for the five years he's been away).

01. I miss his big ol' bear hugs. My dad always had a way with hugs, let me tell ya. It was like no matter what I was dealing with at the moment, being wrapped up in his arms made me feel calm + safe. It's was my refuge.

02. I miss hearing him say "you've really outdone yourself this time, girl" whenever I'd try out a new recipe that he enjoyed. My hubby has said it a handful of times in hopes of keeping the memory alive. It makes me smile.

03. I miss his crazy contagious laughter. Even thinking about it now makes me chuckle to myself. You see, it wasn't just one of those normal laughs. No, no, it was one of those bust-a-gut, tears-rolling-down-your-cheeks, accidentally-passing-gas, bellowing-through-the-house kind of laughs. It was special, that's for sure.

04. I miss hearing him tell his stories. Although I've probably heard them all a hundred times before, I'd give anything to hear some of his wild anecdotes again. Be it from his time in the Navy, his days of being a tugboat captain or all the years he spent working in the port, he always had the most interesting tales to share.

05. I miss that sheepish grin he would get on his face right before he'd try to sneak sweets from the pantry. I can't remember a time before my mama started telling him that he should lay off the sweeties. Ha!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Little Letters // June

 
It's hard to believe that I've never participated in this 'little letters' link-up hosted by Kristin (from Taz + Belly) before today. Although it's been quite some time since I've written any letters, it's still an activity I'm fond of.

Dear RAIN, Thank you for making an appearance this week. The sunshine state really needed everything you had to offer us (for four whole days). From deluge to drizzle, every moment you stuck around was appreciated. I enjoyed staying cozy at home + getting my indoor tasks done. Also, thanks for not overstaying your welcome. I was starting to wonder if you'd ever move on, but you knew when to let the sun take the stage once again.

Dear WENDY'S STRAWBERRY MANGO CHICKEN SALAD, Please know that you are far too flavorful for your own good. I'm really diggin' all those toppings you've got goin' on the diced mango, the strawberries, the honey roasted sunflower seeds + the perfectly grilled chicken. And that dressing? Delicious! So, I'm hereby appointing you as my salad of choice when I'm on-the-go this summer! You should feel honored.

Dear BLADDER, You're probably thinking I have it out for you. You should know that isn't the case. I promise I'm not tormenting you on purpose. I know you've been feeling overworked + underappreciated lately, but you need to realize this entire process is for your own good. You should be proud of yourself, because transporting and expelling over a gallon of water (+ coffee) a day is no small feat. Keep up the good work, buddy!

Dear INSTAGRAM STORIES, When you first came 'round, I didn't know what to think of you. I can't say I was a fan from the start, but you are growing on me. I'll make it a point to show you more attention going forward.

Dear FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS, I'm sorry, but we're done. We can no longer handle your ever-increasing rates, your pixelated on-demand shows / movies, your laggy internet speeds + your DVR that's constantly on the fritz. Don't you go worrying about us. You'll be pleased to know that we'll be in better hands with Spectrum.

Dear BACKYARD BUNNIES, I am so very pleased that you selected our backyard as your permanent residence. It's been a few months since you first moved in, but I haven't had a chance to tell you both how much you're loved. Watching you graze around the porch is such a treat! I'm glad you guys feel safe enough to stay with us.

Dear HUBBY, As you know, your birthday is right around the corner! I know this year is a wee bit different than years past since we've been tightening the reins on our finances, but I am really excited to give you your gifts next Thursday + spend the day celebrating! You deserve nothing short of the best, my love.

Monday, June 05, 2017

SPC · Digital Media


Okay. There has been a slight shift in the overall direction that I'll be taking when it comes to furthering my education. Initially, I had planned to pursue a degree in web development. However, after much consideration, I decided that wasn't the right path for me. I've always been a very creative person. Starting from a young age, I gravitated toward anything that involved art. Be it photography, drawing, painting, collages, pottery, calligraphy, graphic design, even interior design. You name it, I've probably been interested in it at one point or another.

During one of my orientation classes, we were asked to take a five part assessment. It combined our interests, personalities, leisure activities, values, and skills to compile a list of careers that would best suit us. We had to save the careers that peaked our interest from that list. These were my top choices ― commercial designer, exhibit designer, graphic designer, interior designer, photographer, web art director. Did you notice a pattern there? Almost every career I chose involved design. That was the nail in the coffin for me. I had to switch.

Honestly, I had been going back and forth between development and design for a few weeks before taking that assessment. I decided to dig a little deeper and do more research, which is probably what I should have done from the get-go. There was a lot of good information floating around, but one website cleared everything up for me in a single paragraph (as shown below). I think I was under the impression that developers had much more say in the design elements of a web page. I'm talking colors, text, graphics, etc. I'm not saying that there aren't developers who can do both, but the majority of companies have a design team + a development team.

❝Web design refers to both the aesthetic portion of the website and it’s usability. Web designers use various design programs such as Adobe Photoshop to create the layout and other visual elements of the website. Web developers take a website design and actually make a functioning website from it. Web developers use HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and other programming languages to bring to life the design files.❞ // Purely Branded

I really loved the idea of pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degree, but I had to get real with myself. I find the development side fascinating, but it's not something that I am at all passionate about. Design, on the other hand, gets me fired up. I don't mind coding, but eventually I would have started to hate it if I couldn't help create the actual design. I'm still planning on learning some basic programming as I'm sure it will benefit me. There are tons of helpful online resources + tutorials I can use to learn at my own pace.

So, with all that being said, I'll now be working towards a digital media degree (digital graphic design being my primary focus). The best part is that graphic design will open up an array of opportunities. I won't have to limit myself to creating websites. I could eventually branch out into different areas of visual communication, such as graphics for books + magazines, advertising campaigns, branding + logos, packaging, etc. The possibilities are endless and I'm finally at peace with my decision! Now I'm even more excited to get started in the fall.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

June Goals


So, how in the world has May already come and gone? Okay, I'm sure that I probably say the same thing every single time I share my goals, but the past month literally flew by us. Last month was one filled with celebration ― Mother's Day, our wedding anniversary, and Memorial Day. I didn't accomplish all of my goals, but I did a lot.

M A Y  G O A L S

(✔) Take placement testing + go through orientation at SPC.
Yes. I have two more classes to finish for my orientation, but I'll be done next week.
 
(✘) Finish reading at least half of The Circle.
Nope. I only completed a quarter of it. I've been choosing television over reading lately.

(✔)  Incorporate more cardio in my fitness routine.
Affirmative. I've started doing 20-30 minutes of cardio on top of my weight training.

(✔) Get more involved + connected at church.
I've started going more often, as well as attending some events. Next step = volunteering.

(✔) Drink a gallon of water each day.
I missed a few days, but I stuck with this for the most part.

(✘) Go over 3 sections in this HTML & CSS book.
I didn't get around to this, but I did some practice through Codecademy.

(✔) Create better morning / evening routines.
Yep! I've been going to bed earlier + waking up between 7:00-8:00am.

J U N E  G O A L S

(01) Start writing in my gratitude journal daily.

(02) Finish reading the rest of The Circle.

(03) Take my niece + nephew to the gun range.

(04) Go to the beach at least once.

(05) Reorganize my bedroom closet + drawers.

(06) Go see Wonder Woman in theaters.

(07) Locate my sketchbook + start drawing again.


What are some of your goals for June?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Developing from the Negatives


Oh, life. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's just plain rough. The effects of our good choices, the consequences of our poor decisions. Circumstances we have no control over and situations we probably could have avoided. Life isn't exactly perfect and no one can bypass the hardships altogether. I'm sure we have all had significant points in our lives that have taught us a thing or two (if we allowed them to).

Embrace the good times, guys. When the difficulties pop up, just do your best to accept them and try to learn something as you're working through them. It's so important to take what you can from those tough moments. Don't become bitter or angry. Instead, allow those types of moments to help mold you into a better person. Try to view each difficult situation as an opportunity for personal growth. Be it spiritual, emotional or even physical. Everything you face in this life can teach you something, but only if you allow it to do so.

It's ultimately up to you to decide what attitude you'll have when faced with opposition. You can let it bring you down, steal your joy and leave you defeated. Or, on the other hand, you can pick yourself right back up, choose to have a different outlook and keep on pushing forward. The choice is yours and that's the beauty of it.

Let me remind you, God never promised that we wouldn't have challenges in life. He did, however, say He would never leave us. If you're having a hard time with something, pray about it and leave it in His hands. Ask Him to change your mindset on the matter. Sometimes all it takes is a shift in our attitude to turn a problem around.

Friday, May 26, 2017

25 Q's That Will Free Your Mind

 
I know I remember seeing many people sharing their answers to these 50 questions a couple years back, so I'm obviously a little late to the party (actually, I'm like 7 years late since the original post is from 2009). However, better late than never. Since these questions require you to really think and the answers can be a bit lengthy, I'm breaking them into two separate posts. I would hate to overwhelm any of you.
01. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
As in, if I had amnesia and couldn't remember? I don't know an exact age, but I would certainly think that I was older than I actually am (say that 5x fast). I've always felt older than I am, mentally.

02. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Without a doubt, never trying would be far worse. It's one thing to try and fail, but it's entirely different to have never went out on a limb altogether. How else would someone truly know if something would work out or not? Failing would be better than always wondering what could have been. I wouldn't want to live with that regret.

03. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
I'd say it probably stems from wanting to be accepted, or feeling as if you have to like certain things in order to fit in with everyone else. The sooner you find out who you are + what you actually like, the better off you'll be.

04. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
Probably. I have a very bad habit of sharing ideas or things I'd like to do without actually following through with them. Hopefully I can conquer the whole 'say less, do more' thing sooner than later.

05. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
Oh, man. Where do I even start? I wish there was a way to impart empathy into every single being that dwells on this planet. I think that would do a great deal of good. It would bring about some much-needed restoration.

06. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Anything that involves helping others, really. I believe that the most rewarding form of work for me would be something along the lines of counseling ladies who have been rescued from sex trafficking / the sex industry.

07. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
This one is a bit tricky. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle right now, honestly. I do believe in what I'm doing at this point in my life ― I'm where I should be, with whom I should be with, doing what I believe I should be doing. However, I feel as though sometimes I do settle whenever I don't a) push myself to do things that will actually challenge me, or b) believe that I can handle more than I've been doing. Does that make sense?

08. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
I would throw all caution to the wind. I would shake off the worry that grips me so tightly. I would abandon the fear that often times holds me back. I would ditch any bad attitudes or mindsets that have been formed. I would eliminate all of the senseless distractions. I would live life with the ones I love, and I would live it well.

09. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
I spent years thinking I would be stuck in the same place the majority of my life. I thought I'd always be living in the same town, running my parent's company, etc. However, it wasn't until recently that I realized I do have options. I just needed to muster up the courage to stand up, forge my own path and follow my dreams. I still rely on God to guide my steps though. I know He's orchestrating everything behind the scenes.

10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
Both, but more so doing the right things. I try to live on the straight + narrow, as the majority of Christians do. I will never be perfect, but I'm extremely vigilant when it comes to my choices. After all, I'm the one who has to deal with the consequences whenever I do or do not do the right things.

11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?
With respect, I would definitely say something. I don't care who you are. Criticizing someone else is never okay, especially if it's someone that I personally know. I would show grace to the ones who were being judgemental, but I would think twice about trusting them again. If they feel comfortable enough to talk negatively about someone else in front of me, whose to say they aren't doing the same about me behind my back?

12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don't let this world extinguish the spark that God placed inside of you. This life can be very tough at times, but never forget that you are so much tougher with God on your side.

13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
Why is this even up for questioning? Of course I would! I would do anything to save the people that I love, even if it meant risking my own life in doing so. I'm sure most individuals would do the same.

14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
On numerous occasions, I have seen God take the madness or chaos of someone's life (my own life included) and turn it into a glorious work of art. He exchanges ashes (the wreckage of our lives) for beauty.

15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I feel like I guard myself a little more than other people. Some may even label me as a prude (I don't care). There are just various things that I refuse to watch or partake in. For example, I don't watch shows or movies that contain a lot of cursing (or nudity). If a movie is rated R, I'm 90% sure I won't be watching it. I've noticed when I do listen to entertainment that incorporates a good amount of cursing, I start cursing more too. And the nudity, well, I'm just not comfortable viewing it. I'm very grateful to have friends who respect my convictions.

16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
That's simple. Everyone is different. We all carry similar + dissimilar traits, interests, etc. I don't expect every single person to show interest in the same things that I do. Life would be so bland if there wasn't diversity. 

17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
It's not really something that I want to do, as much as it's a skill I would like to attain. I would love to be a more confident person. The only thing holding me back is obviously myself. Maybe it's fear, maybe it's insecurity that I've acquired throughout the years. Whatever the case, it needs to be addressed.

18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
At this point in time, I can honestly say the only thing I still need to let go of is the grip I try to keep on my own life. I like to be in total control. I like to feel fully prepared for any circumstance that may arise. For starters, that's just not a realistic way to live. I don't know what the future holds. Moreover, I need to relinquish that control to God. He can't work on the things I'm asking Him to help me with if I won't hand over the reins.

19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move? Why?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Georgia, hands down. I love Florida (just read this post), but Georgia will always hold a special place in my heart. My mom's side of the family is originally from the peach state. Many of our kinfolk still reside up there. I would love to move to the Thomasville area somewhere down the line.

20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
If I am really in a hurry, I'll push the button vigorously. I suppose it's a good way to vent my frustration without going entirely bonkers. I do understand it won't magically make the elevator appear on whatever floor I'm on.

21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
Most certainly the latter of the two. Why on earth would anyone want to be worried all the time? I struggle with worrying about things as it is, and I'm no genius! Give me all the joy, please and thank you.

22. Why are you, you?
I frequently ask myself the same question, haha. No, but in all seriousness, it must be a combination of traits that I've inherited from my parents and past experiences that have contributed to who I am.

23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
Yes and no. I have a tendency to withdraw socially for long periods of time. It's something I'd like to work on going forward. Aside from that, I have done my best to be a good friend by showing love, acceptance, respect, patience, loyalty. I just need to work on communication. I know life gets busy, but I can't use that as an excuse.

24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives near you?
I have seen both of these scenarios play out in my life. Losing touch with a friend who is near is worse. When someone I care about moves away, we keep in touch ― be it by Facebook, texting, sending packages or even visiting each other. Whenever you lose touch with someone who lives nearby, it's sad because it's uncalled-for.

25. What are you most grateful for?
My family, especially my husband. I can't even begin to describe how much they mean to me. Their constant love, support, encouragement, and kindness have made all the difference. God has surely blessed me.