Currently // June

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

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

READING · Still making my way through The Circle. Guys, 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 like I wanted.

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 suspenseful / 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. Boo.

LEARNING · More tips for living a minimalist lifestyle. It's been about a year or so since I started fully embracing the idea of minimalism. It seems like 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.


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!

Explore more · life after loss · posts:


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 just 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 since I'm not big on fast food.

Dear bladder, You're probably wondering if 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 right 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 (I hope).

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.


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.


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.

(✔) 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
two . thousand . seventeen

(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?


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.


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.


2017 Summer Bucket List

I know it's not officially summer yet, but this one is going to be a little bit different for me. You see, for the first time in a really long time, the words 'summer break' actually hold some meaning again. As you guys know, I'll be starting school this fall + G took the summer off too. We're both looking forward to enjoying the season to the fullest before we have to buckle down. I have a small list of things I'd love to do, God willing. I just have to go to a mandatory orientation class once a week at SPC until June 8th, then I'll be free until mid-August.

What are some of your plans for the summer?


Currently // May

EATING · All the grilled foods! I feel like we have been grilling almost every other day ― chicken, steak, salmon, burgers (both beef + turkey), hot dogs, asparagus, sweet peppers, mushrooms, zucchini.

DRINKING · Mostly coffee + water (as per usual). I did try a few of the Bai Bubbles drinks earlier in the month. The Peru Pineapple flavor was yummy! I'll probably try some of their others later on.

READING · I've been plucking away at The Cirlce by Dave Eggers. I realize it wasn't even on my reading list for this year, but I ended up taking The Princess Diarest off. I really had high hopes for that book, but I just could not get into it. So, this book has become the replacement. It was gifted to me for my birthday by Charlene (Charlene Zale). I had no idea the movie would be coming out this year, but I am looking forward to seeing it!

WATCHING · We've been in a rewatching phase this month. Started off by rewatching seasons 1-6 of The Walking Dead, then The Office, and now we have moved onto Sherlock. Aside from those, my mama and I began watching the Netflix Original, Anne with an E. I didn't grow up watching Anne of Green Gables, so I don't really have anything to compare it to. With that being said, I like the show for the most part.
LISTENING TO · New instrumental music (shocker). I like that I can think without being distracted by lyrics. I can zone out and get a lot done when I put on songs like the one below (it's a favorite of mine at the moment).

PLANNING · A mini-trip with Charlene. We have a handful of places we'd like to go explore together.

WISH-LISTING · I'm sad to admit that part of me wants to sell my DSLR, the Canon Rebel T2i, and all of my lenses. I'd love to invest in a more compact camera. I have my eye on the Canon  PowerShot G7 X Mark II. It would be much easier to tote around, especially while traveling. I need to see how much I can get for my gear.

LEARNING ·  New study skills + note-taking methods to implement whenever I start school in the fall. I've also been doing some online coding courses to get a head start with HTML / CSS / JavaScript.

FEELING · Grateful. Even on the bleakest days, I know that there are people who are going through far worse.


Bringing Me Joy · Vol. 7

Well, it's been a long time since I shared one of these posts (errr, or any post that is).

Celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary.
Since we're adamant about saving money right now, we kept it really simple this year ― we opted out of gift-giving, chose to have dinner at our favorite little pizza joint (Cristino's), and went to see a movie. I love that we can have fun together no matter what we're doing. Always enjoy spending quality time with my boo!

The Brain Food playlist on Spotify.
So many great songs on this one. Really can't recommend this playlist enough. I find myself listening to it when I'm studying, working out at the gym or even driving in the car. It's the perfect music to veg out to.

Attending my church's Daughters of the King brunch.
Last Saturday, I went to a brunch hosted by my church with my sis-in-law, niece + a couple of my friends. This was the first event I had been to since I started going to this church. It was very nice (especially the message that was shared by Pastor Kaci) and I'm looking forward to attending next year as well. 

Anne with an 'E' on Netflix.
So, I'll admit, I've never seen the original (1985) version of Anne of Green Gables, but I really like the new Netflix original series that they've made. I've been watching it with my mama. 

Kashi's chewy coconut cashew macaroon bars.
I'm a sucker for all things coconut. I love that these aren't overly sweet. They're perfect for on-the-go snacking.

Seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Guys! Baby Groot is so freakin' cute. The first movie was okay, but the second was much better.

Grilling season.
Finally set up our grill after almost 2 years of having it (oops). Just give me all the grilled meat + veggies!

Registering for my fall classes.
I'm taking two classes to start with, but I really couldn't be happier with my little fall schedule. I'll only be going to school twice a week for 2.75 hours each day (that's including the 15 minutes between the two classes). I can't complain. I thought I'd have an hour or two between each class and I was kinda dreading that.

Flexible dieting #iifym.
G and I started counting macros about a month ago. I doubt that I'll ever go back to any other 'diet' again. I love how adjustable this eating approach is. I never feel deprived. Heck, most days I struggle to eat enough calories. I'm losing a pound a week, which is good with me! Slow and steady is the key to keeping it off.

Today's rainy weather.
The sunshine state has been a little too sunny lately. We've been battling massive wildfires throughout the entire state because of how dry it's been. I'm thankful for the rain (plus it always puts me in a blogging mood).

What are some things that are bringing you joy lately?


May Goals

Kinda skipped right over any goals for April since my main concern (in between working) was studying up for my GED testing. I have three months until I go back to school, so I'm using that time frame to catch up on things that I've been wanting to do. I'll just go over a short recap of my March goals below.


(✔) Complete GED prep + take a practice test.
Yes! I finished all my practice and took the exam. The rest is history.
(✔) Have a Disney day with my husband.
We were able to go in early March. Hollywood Studios + Animal Kingdom were the parks we chose to visit.

(✘)  Finish reading The Forgetting.
Negative. I've actually started reading The Circle (since the movie just came out) instead.

(✘) Participate in one boot camp class.
Unfortunately, no. I haven't been able to get together with my friend who does Camp Gladiator classes, so I just stuck with going to the gym. I can't say that I'm sad about not being able to go (those classes are no joke).

(✔) Rearrange the office / computer room.
Yep! It's looking a lot better now (probably should have taken before / after photos).

(✘) Go to the gun range.
No (enter sad face here). My poor Glock hasn't seen the light of day in far too long.

M A Y  G O A L S
two . thousand . seventeen

(01) Take placement testing + go through orientation at SPC.

(02) Finish reading at least half of The Circle.

(03) Incorporate more cardio in my fitness routine.

(04) Get more involved + connected at church.

(05) Drink a gallon of water each day.

(06) Go over 3 sections in this HTML & CSS book.

(07) Create better morning / evening routines.

What are some of your goals for May?


SPC · Web Development

Hey, guys! I'm not dead, if that's what you had been wondering. I see that it's been almost two months since I shared anything around here (my apologies). Life's basically moving at hyperspeed right now, especially in the past week alone. I've been working hard and making some big moves behind the scenes. I'm thrilled to announce that I have successfully completed all four of the GED exams + applied at St. Petersburg College where I'll be perusing an A.S. in web development. Everything has fallen into place quicker than I can process.

I passed the math portion of the GED last Wednesday (such a relief). On Friday, I applied at SPC. In just a couple hours, I was assigned a student number and an e-mail account. So, I'm officially a college student (so crazy). I have my little to-do list to complete over the next few weeks. I won't be starting until the fall, so G and I will both have the summer off. We're only going part-time since we both work too, but I believe we have a good schedule worked out. G will be going on Mondays / Wednesdays. I'll be going Tuesdays / Thursdays.

I can't even describe the feeling that came over me whenever I realized I wasn't stuck anymore. For the longest time, I felt like I was just moving along in life with no real destination in mind. I knew I wanted to go back to school eventually, but I wasn't sure how everything would play out. I should have trusted God's timing in the matter, because I couldn't have planned it better myself. I've seen His hand moving with each step I've taken.

I just want to wrap this up by thanking every single person who encouraged me along the way, as well as those of you who have taken the time to congratulate me on Facebook or Insta. Your support is much appreciated!


March Goals

(✔) Go to the gym 2-3x a week.
Yes! This actually became a priority for us over the past month. I'm so glad we were able to stick with it. I think there was only one week that we went 3x, but I was still getting in some cardio and weights at home each day.

(✔) Have a coffee date with Charlene.
Heck, yes! This happened last week. Charlene (from Charlene Zale) and I finally met in person after being online friends / pen pals for almost 10 years! She shared about our coffee date on her blog the other day.

(✘) Visit at least one new area around us.
Sadly, no, this didn't work out. I mean, it could have. It's not like we didn't have the time to do it. We just got wrapped up in other things throughout the month and this was put on the back burner. 

(✔) Go to Epcot's Festival of the Arts.
We waited until the last weekend, but we still made it! It was a lot of fun. I have to share about our time there.

(✘) Read one book.
Oops. I started reading The Forgetting, but I'm far away from finishing it. You win some, you lose some.

(✘) Finish going over algebra.
There were two separate sections within the algebra section of my book. As much as I wanted to breeze through it, I found myself needing more practice in the first section (multiplying / dividing polynomials). I'm still happy with the progress I made though. I mean, I have to actually understand what I'm studying.

(✔) Learn one new song on the keyboard.
So maybe it was cheating, but I relearned how to play The Hanging Tree (the song that Katniss Everdeen sings on Mockingjay Part 1). I had learned it about a year or so ago, but had since forgotten how to play it.

M A R C H  G O A L S
two . thousand . seventeen

(01) Complete GED prep + take a practice test.

(02) Have a Disney day with my husband.

(03) Finish reading The Forgetting.

(04) Participate in one boot camp class.

(05) Rearrange the office / computer room.

(06) Go to the gun range.

What are some of your goals for March?


Bringing Me Joy · Vol. 6

Woah. Is any one else finding it very hard to believe that February is almost over? I expected to be super busy with work these past two weeks, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. I've been loving my days off though.

Solo trips to the coffee shop.
Before last week, I had never been to a coffee shop alone. When I was feeling stressed out one day, I drove to one of my favorite coffee shops to sip on a butterscotch latte and read for a little while. It was so nice that I want to make these solo trips a priority going forward. Even if it's 1-2x a month, I think it would be beneficial.

Visiting with my family.
We met up with my aunt + uncle for lunch one afternoon, visited my grandpa a couple days after that and had my niece + nephew over for a sleepover last night. Time spent with family really is the best.

Using my Fitbit Charge 2.
This little device has proved to be so handy. It's far more useful than I ever imagined it would be. Being able to track my steps, calories I've burned + my heart rate is awesome. I still want to do a review on it.

Going to Epcot's Festival of the Arts.
I was afraid we were going to miss out on this, but we got to go last Friday! We only stayed a few hours, but it was still enjoyable. I'm just glad that we were able to view it.

Participating in a Camp Gladiator boot camp.
Went to my second CG boot camp class with my friend, Esther. It was her 100th check-in (she's a beast). I was surprised at how well I kept up with the HIIT workout they were having us do. Yay for not dying.

Seeing Kari Jobe in concert.
It was actually more like a massive worship session led by Kari. I loved every single second of it. If you haven't heard her latest album, The Garden, you've been missing out on some really good praise + worship music!

Classic movies.
Even though I have always had a thing for classic movies, I'm finding myself drawn to them even more as I get older. I watched The African Queen with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart for the first time this week.

Working out at the gym + at home.
G and I have still been hitting the gym about twice a week. I've also been making it a point to do at least 20-30 minutes of cardio each day at home. I love working out now that I've gotten into a routine.

Yogi blueberry slim life green tea.
It's delicious and it gives me energy. I've been drinking 2-3 cups a day with monk fruit (in the raw) sweetener.

My 600-lb Life on TLC.
My mama and I have been obsessed with this show lately. We just set up our DVR to record all of the old episodes that play on TLC. Don't laugh, but I normally watch it while doing my workout at home. It's motivating.

What are some things that are bringing you joy lately?


Currently // February

EATING · Big salads dressed with avocado oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Seriously so tasty. And, on a not-so-healthy note, Taco Bell's new naked chicken chalupa is dangerous (#cheatdayeats). You've been warned.

DRINKING · I started making protein shakes for breakfast or a post-workout snack. Orgain's creamy chocolate fudge is delicious. I like it best mixed with coffee, coconut almond milk, powdered peanut butter, and banana.

READING · Okay, please don't judge me. I haven't even started reading the book that I wanted to complete this month The Forgetting. I need to carve out some time each day so I can get it knocked out before March.

WATCHING · Well, obviously The Walking Dead since it returned this past Sunday! Can Negan just be taken out already? Sheesh. I've also been occasionally binging on Intervention (it always sucks me in), and This Is Us.
LISTENING TO · Lauren Diagle, Ellie Holcomb + Kari Jobe have all been on repeat this month! Their songs really usher in the presence of God. The song below is so powerful and I basically get goosebumps every single time I hear it. Kari Jobe is coming to town next Thursday. I'm really hoping my schedule allows me to go see her.

PLANNING · A Disney trip for just my husband and I. We haven't gone (alone) since we became passholders, or ever come to think of it. It'd be nice to make some memories together before our passes expire.

WISH-LISTING · Really digging these curvy destructed skinny jeans from Target, this faux taxidermy gold lion head for the gallery wall in our bedroom, and this Eleven (Stranger Things) enamel pin for my collection.

LEARNING · That things aren't nearly as bad as I chock them up to be in my mind. I'll admit, I can be an over-analyzer at times. I'm sure you can relate. I come up with different scenarios internally, but they never play out the way I think they will when it comes down to it. So all that time thinking was simply time wasted.

FEELING · Pretty overwhelmed. I'm normally not one to struggle with bouts of anxiety (I used to in the past), but I've been suffering with tension headaches off and on for a few weeks. They usually start whenever I'm overthinking our finances and, quite frankly, underestimating God's faithfulness and ability to provide for us.


Our Valentine's Day

Hey, guys! I really hope you all enjoyed celebrating with your loved ones yesterday. This was actually our eighth Valentine's Day together (woah). We don't really observe the holiday like we used to when we first got together. I guess we just stopped buying into all the hype and pressure associated with it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not like the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine's Day or whatever. It's way too commercialized. Maybe it's because I'm simple. It doesn't take much to appease me. Just feed me tacos, touch my butt and tell me you love me ;)

Even though we don't go all out for Valentine's, we still do a little bit of celebrating. I knew I wanted to cook a nice meal at home so that we could include my mama as well. It's almost been five years since my dad passed away and I didn't want her to feel like she was alone. I figured we could have a homemade dinner and then G and I could go out (just the two of us) for drinks + dessert afterwards. Aside from flowers, we didn't get each other gifts. Although we did use the holiday as an excuse opportunity to each purchase the Fitbit Charge 2 (they were on sale). All I can say is that I've really been missing out. I'm blown away with all that it can do!

Alright, back to dinner. I totally splurged on some thick strip steaks + shrimp to cook, as well as asparagus and mashed cauliflower. Everything turned out great! The steaks were so big that we all had leftovers. I actually had steak, eggs and asparagus for breakfast today, and put the rest on a salad for lunch. Sometime after 8pm, we went out for dessert. We chose Applebee's because it's right up the street and we figured it wouldn't be too packed. Wrong. It was loaded, but we were able to get a booth quickly. After a glass of sangria + splitting a triple chocolate meltdown, it was back to the house to watch a movie (John Wick) before knocking out. It may not have been all over-the-top or society's version of romantic, but I loved spending time with my hubby.


Sammie's Struvite Scare

I know I briefly mentioned the little scare we had with our kitty, Sammie, in my post on Friday. I noticed him acting stranger than usual on Thursday morning. He's normally pretty vocal, but his meowing was nothing short of obnoxious that morning. He had also been licking himself (down there) more frequently. Things started adding up once I saw him jumping into the litter box a few times in a row. After the third time he hopped out, I took a peak and that's when I realized what was going on. He was trying to pee, but nothing was coming out. It was clear he had a blockage and I was 99% sure it was struvite crystals (or urinary crystals).

We've actually had two other cats experience this painful condition in the past ― Orion's seemed to clear up with a diet change (he passed away of old age over a year ago), but Toby's was much worse. It could only be fixed by having a Perineal Urethostomy (PU) surgery. Simply put, they had to remove his penis. I know. It was pretty crazy and expensive as heck, but no more blockages for that guy. Whenever we adopted Sammie back in 2011, I knew I wanted him on a high quality dry food. I thought we'd be able to avoid this whole situation if we put him on a good diet from the get-go. We fed him California Natural and later switched to Blue Buffalo. Little did I know that feeding him an all dry food diet could be just as harmful in the long run. Research suggests that urine pH and water consumption factor into the formation of crystals. Dry food has a tendency of dehydrating cats, especially if they don't drink much water to begin with. This was likely the case with Sammie.

We were able to get him down to the vets office within a few hours of becoming aware of the issue. They had to catheterize him, shoot him full of IV's, and keep him overnight for observation. He was released on Friday afternoon. 5 different medications, a few cans of prescription wet food and a $1,400 bill later, he was home and on the mend! Now, we just have to recover from the unexpected expense. Thank God our vet just started accepting CareCredit. We had to watch him like a hawk the first couple days back home (to monitor his urine output), but he's back to normal now. I've been switching him between Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary SO + Purina Pro Plan Focus Urinary Tract Health canned food, as well as the Purina One Pro Plan Urinary Tract Health dry food. They want him back in a couple of weeks to do another urinalysis to see where his pH is.

Yay for pet ownership, even when things get tough and mad expensive! Ha. He's worth every penny.


Bringing Me Joy · Vol. 5

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of highs and lows, but I'm determined to stay focused on all the good rather than dwelling on the difficult days (I'll share some specifics later on).

Getting a new tattoo.
I shared it on Instagram, but I finally got my ribs inked the Thursday before last! I've been wanting a little side piece for a long time now. I kept saying that I wanted to wait until I lost more weight. Bump that. I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out and plan on sharing a more in-depth post about it (plus all my other tattoos).

Halo Top Creamery ice creams.
Kinda late to this Halo Top party! I've been hooked ever since I tried their mint chip a few weeks back. I've also tried the chocolate chip cookie dough, sea salted caramel, birthday cake + strawberry. Every flavor is delicious.

Attending my best friend's baby shower.
One of my best friends, Jennifer, is having a baby girl in April! It was so nice to get together with everyone last Saturday to celebrate little miss Calia Rose. The shower was coed, so G was able to join in on the fun too.

Catching up with old friends.
I spent most of Saturday night catching up with a group of ladies from the church we used to go to. Long talks about God over homemade flatbread + wine around the fire. It was so refreshing to catch up with old friends.

Finally hanging up my gallery wall decor.
You guys know this had been on my to-do list for over a year now. I guess I had assumed it would be more difficult than it actually was, lol. I thought I had to plan everything out, but G told me I should just hang it all and fill in the gaps as I go. His strategy worked well! I only have a few more little pieces to add now.

Coffee dates.
Got together with one of my friends from Target on Tuesday. We were finally able to meet up and exchange our Christmas gifts! Had a great time chatting over a butterscotch latte at one of my favorite local coffee shops.

Going to the gym with G.
We've been about 4x over the past two weeks. Not too shabby! I really love being back in the gym. 25 minutes of cardio + 25 minutes of weights. Perfect combo for me at the moment.

Spending quality time with my niece.
I don't get to see my niece and nephew as much as I'd like. On Wednesday, I invited my niece, Hannah, to come to church with me. One of her friends was actually getting baptized and Hannah was able to surprise her. We went out to eat afterwards and she ended up spending the night. We're hoping to get together more often.

New lapel pins for my collection.
Whenever we first began using our annual passes, I was planning on starting a small Disney pin collection (purchasing one each time we visited). Well, thanks to Etsy, I stumbled upon more pins than I had bargained for! I'm only allowing myself one board for all of them, so I'll be sure to only purchase my absolute favorites. It's a great way to collect pieces that represent my love for certain movies / television shows ― Star Wars, Terminator, Stranger Things, Hunger Games, Alice in Wonderland, etc. Pins don't take up much space at all.

Having our kitty back home with us.
Long story short (I'll probably share the longer version next week), we had to bring Sammie to the vet on Thursday morning as he was unable to pass any urine due to a blockage (struvite crystals). A little over 24 hours + one outrageous vet bill later, he's home and seems to be on the mend. Keeping a very close eye on him. We're just thankful we caught it early. He's okay and he's home now. That little guy is my baby.

What are some things that are bringing you joy lately?  

(linking up with Lindsay, Charlotte + Krysten for 10 things that make me happy)


February Goals

(✘) Journal at least twice a week.
I missed a few weeks. I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to set aside 5-10 minutes a day to write. 

(✔) Rejoin the gym.
Proud to say that this happened towards the end of the month. Looking forward to getting back on track!

(✔) Deep clean my closet + give away items I don't love.
Yep. I had to be real with myself and cut the items that I never wore. If it's not comfortable, why keep it?

(✘) Have one Disney day.
No. As much as I wanted to visit Mickey this month, there just wasn't any time to do so.

(✔) Do one GED math lesson per day.
Surprisingly, I stuck with this. Still have quite a bit of lessons to navigate through, but I made some progress.

(✔) Start + finish reading two books.
Yeah, buddy! I was able to finish reading Unglued: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Raw Emotions, as well as the majority of Without Rival. I'll just count the second as a win since I'm so close to wrapping it up.

F E B R U A R Y  G O A L S
two . thousand . seventeen

(01) Go to the gym 2-3x a week.

(02) Have a coffee date with Charlene.

(03) Visit at least one new area around us.

(04) Go to Epcot's Festival of the Arts.

(05) Read one book.

(06) Finish going over algebra.

(07) Learn one new song on the keyboard.

What are some of your goals for February?


The Dream List

Many of you have probably noticed that 'dreams' tab in my navigation bar. Well, it's my bucket list. That list used to be filled with every possible thing you could imagine ― things that I thought sounded like fun and things I've since changed my mind about. I took some time over the past few days to really sit down and think about what I wanted to do over the course of my life. For each thing I had on my list, I had to ask myself will you honestly regret never doing this when you come to the end of your life?❞ So, I weeded through the list. After carefully taking everything into consideration, I deleted some items and added others. I can say, without a doubt, that these are the desires of my heart. These are things I long to do during my time on this earth. I'll be updating my 'dreams' page as I knock things off this list as well as sharing posts for items as I see fit. You can keep up with my progress here (I've already done some of these prior to posting this).

Become a mother.

Read the entire Bible.

Go to Comic-Con.

Swim with dolphins.

Go kayaking or canoeing.

Get my concealed carry permit. 

See Needtobreathe in concert. 

Learn how to play chess.

Go horseback riding.

Smoke a cigar.

Move to Georgia. 

Shoot a .45, revolver, shotgun, AK-47, AR-15.

Go camping with my family.

Travel to New Zealand.

Own an upright piano.

Stay at 5 deluxe Disney resorts (2/5).

Go zip-lining.

Participate in NaNoWriMo.

Feed giraffes at the zoo.

Visit Kennedy Space Center with my husband.

Write + publish a book.

Travel to Costa Rica.

See Lindsey Stirling in concert

Learn how to play the guitar.

Take a ride in a helicopter.

Get a Star Wars tattoo.

Visit 20 states other than my own (8/20).

Participate in a Run Disney event.

Travel to England.

Restore an antique pick-up truck.

Make up missing credits or get my GED.

Take a ride on a glass bottom boat.

Interact with a sloth. 

Visit my mama's hometown (Thomasville, Ga).

Learn basic sign language.

See Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert.

Cruise to the Bahamas.

Read The Chronicles of Narnia.

Get a couples tattoo.

Travel somewhere via passenger train.

Observe whales in the wild.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Become fluent in Spanish.

Travel to Ireland.

View a rocket launch in person.

Learn how to read music.

See a Broadway show.

Start my own web design business. 

Watch a meteor shower. 

Climb a lighthouse.

Learn how to play the violin.

Enter a photograph contest.

Earn a degree in web development.

Cruise to Alaska.

Learn basic German.

Attend a painting class.

Take a ride on a tugboat.

Own a telescope. 

See Sleeping at Last in concert. 

Take a self-defense class.

Travel to Germany.

Volunteer at an animal shelter.

Attend a hot air balloon festival.


Bringing Me Joy · Vol. 4

Way back in the beginning of 2014, I started a little bi-weekly series titled Bringing Me Joy in which I would share, you guessed it, things that were bringing me joy around that time (here are volumes 1 // 2 // 3). In hopes of feeling more contented + grateful (especially in the humdrum of the everyday), I thought it a good idea to resurrect that series from the dead. It helped me to stay grounded and be thankful for the little things in life.

Reading the Bible every morning.
Each morning I make a cup of coffee, settle into the couch with my favorite blanket and open up my Bible app. I've been making a point to ignore texts, e-mails + social media until I've had time in the Word.

Taking a trip to Whole Foods.
Before last Thursday, I hadn't been to Whole Foods in a few years. I know, I've totally been missing out. Having so many good options all in one place made my health-food-lovin' heart so happy (my wallet cringed a bit).

Finding coffee from my mama's hometown.
While my mama and I were perusing the aisles of Whole Foods, I actually found some coffee that was roasted by a little coffee shop in her hometown of Thomasville, Ga. It was such a treat to find it down here in Tampa. 

Semi-chilly weather.
So, I wouldn't necessarily consider this weather cold, but it's certainly much cooler than it has been, so I'm fully enjoying a break from the Florida heat. Tomorrow is suppose to be really cold.

Finishing one book + half of another.
I finally wrapped up reading Unglued, then jumped right back into Without Rival. I'm just about halfway through it now. Yay for being on track with my reading goals for once!

Drinking kombucha.
I tried kombucha a couple years ago, but I just couldn't handle the vinegary taste. I decided to give it another shot since my tastes seem to be changing. Have you ever experienced that? I used to hate onions + peppers too. Well, now I love kombucha. GT's cosmic cranberry + passionberry bliss are my go-to flavors.

Actually understanding algebra.
Seriously. It feels so good to understand the math I'm studying right now for my final GED test.

Joining the gym again.
I went down to YouFit Health Clubs and became a member again. I chose to go with their lime card option like last time. $20/month covers my membership, allows me to go to any location, bring an extra person any time I want + take any of their classes. G normally goes with me, but if he's not feeling it I can bring a friend with me.

Cuddling with my clingy kitty.
I have no idea why my already overly affectionate cat has been so clingy this week, but I can't complain.

Finding the perfect pair of black heels on clearance.
Target clearance, man. I thought I wouldn't shop there as much after I quit. Nope. I'm forever checking their online clearance. I found these beauties the other day. There's 20% off clearance items too, so I paid $14.

What are some things that are bringing you joy lately?  

(linking up with Lindsay, Charlotte + Krysten for 10 things that make me happy)