4/24/2017

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 a degree in web development (talk about exciting). Everything has been falling 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 (that's insane to say). I have my little to-do list to complete over the next few weeks. I won't be starting until the fall semester, so G and I will both have the summer free. We're only going part-time since we're both working 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 was going to play out. I should have trusted God's timing in the matter, because I couldn't have planned it out better myself. I've seen His hand moving in each and every step I've taken.

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

3/01/2017

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 actually 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 a little 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 (especially 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?

2/24/2017

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?

2/16/2017

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 (tried it on a cheat day). 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.

DISCOVERING · 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.

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.

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 the last few weeks. They usually start whenever I'm overthinking our finances and, quite frankly, underestimating God's faithfulness and ability to provide for us.

2/15/2017

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 (haha). 

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.


2/13/2017

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 that 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 a lot of water to begin with). I'm certain this was 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.

2/10/2017

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)

2/01/2017

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?

1/29/2017

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.

Start a small vegetable garden. 

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.

1/27/2017

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's clearance, man. I thought I wouldn't shop there as much after I quit in November. Nope. I stay 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)

1/26/2017

Our New Ride · Dodge Dart


It's been a little over three months already since we mustered up the faith to purchase a new car. I shared a little bit over on Instagram about a week after we got our new ride, but I wanted to post here too. Buying a car was a big step for us. For any one, really. We'd been hoping to hang on to my Dodge Neon until G wraps up his associates degree in a couple years, but it didn't work out that way. Long story short, my brother and sis-in-law were in dire need of a second vehicle. Their differing work schedules were starting to bring about a lot of stress for them and we knew that they could really benefit from having another car to drive. So, after much consideration + prayer, G and I made the decision to gift them ours. We both felt it would be the best option.

Looking back, it all happened so quickly that it seemed surreal for a few weeks. I mean, we went from talking about it one week, to finding a too-good-to-pass-up deal on a brand new 2015 Dodge Dart the next. Since it was nearing the end of the year, I think the dealership was trying to get rid of what they had left of their 2015 models (especially since Dodge ended up discontinuing the Darts last year). I was really surprised they still had new 2015's available. We'd already done loads of research on the Darts beforehand and knew exactly what we wanted to get. The only thing we changed our minds about was the color. We were dead set on white, but that went out the window as soon as we laid eyes on the silver. I seriously couldn't be more happy with our choice!


I had my 2005 Dodge Neon for nearly 10 years. What's really cool is that it belonged to one of my best friends, Lauren, before it became my first set of wheels. Lauren's parents had purchased the car for her. Later on she ended up getting married and moved out of state. Around the time that my parents started looking into getting a car for me, Lauren made me aware that they were planning on selling their car since they didn't really need a second vehicle at that point in time. Years before, I actually told her that I wanted a car like hers one day.


My parents had a set budget before they started looking. Without even mentioning that amount to Lauren, she told me her asking price. Lo and behold, it just so happened to be the exact figure that my parents were willing to pay. God worked it all out in our favor. I can't even begin to rehash all the memories that little white car holds. From all the road trippin' adventures, to the jam sessions and all those aimless late night drives just to clear my mind. That car was a blessing. I'm glad that it'll be staying in our family until it finally breaks down.


The Neon served us well, but I'm looking forward to making new memories in the Dart :)

1/20/2017

Three Prayers for Our President


I understand that there are many of you who are dealing with feelings of anger, fear, and uncertainty when it comes to the future of our country. Please know that I am praying for you. I can only hope that you find peace and comfort in knowing that God is still in control. Looking back at this election, I can't say that I was fully supportive of either candidate. Quite frankly, both of the nominees had done or said things that I disagreed with, but I prayerfully came to a decision in November and the rest is history. Listen, I won't bash your personal beliefs, because that's not the type of person I am (or ever want to be). I will, however, say that no matter who you ended up voting for, Donald Trump is our president now. There's no getting around it and there's nothing that can change it. I may not agree with everything he's stood for or his actions in the past, but I'm choosing to honor + respect him just as I did with the prior president. I saw a quote the other day that made a lot of sense. It went something like this hoping Trump fails is like hoping a pilot crashes the plane that we're all on.❞

With that being said, I believe every single president that comes into office needs our prayers. I can't claim that I was ever a supporter of President Obama (I voted for John McCain back in 2008 + chose not to vote in the 2012 election), but I certainly prayed for him during the course of his presidency. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of stress that these leaders face day in and day out. All eyes are always on them. They have to take the concerns and petitions of over 300 million people into consideration. They are forced to make some pretty tough decisions. Decisions that I, myself, would never want to have to make. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want the weight of the entire nation on my shoulders. For these reasons, going forward there are three specific prayers I'll be praying over our 45th president and I encourage you to do the same.


PROTECTION
Pray that God covers President Trump with His protection.

STRENGTH
Pray that God strengthens President Trump to perform his duties well.

WISDOM
Pray that God will guide President Trump in wisdom and in truth.


If you can find it in your heart to pray for him as well, that's great and I commend you for that. If you're still at a place where you're trying to work through the hurt and disappointment of the election, that's perfectly fine too. You have every right to continue to deal with those emotions how you see fit. Please, take time to heal. I would never ask you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. I'm simply sharing what I believe here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please be respectful of myself and of others. I'd appreciate it if you refrain from posting anything negative, as it will not be tolerated. Remember, reunifying our country starts with we the people. It doesn't matter who is in office, we are the ones who are out in the world. We are the ones brushing shoulders with each other in the street. We are the ones who are  responsible for showing others respect, compassion and love. Sp, let's do our part to piece our country back together. United we stand, divided we fall.

1/19/2017

Disney · Four Parks One Day


Around the end of August, Walt Disney World was running a special which offered discounted (basically half off) park hopper tickets for family + friends of those who were already passholders. As soon as I received the e-mail, I reached out to my old friend, Amanda, in hopes of planning a trip together. A couple weeks before that, she'd informed everyone that she'd be moving away near the beginning of 2017. We never really got the chance to hang out as often as we would have liked in the first place, so we both thought taking this trip was a great idea. After picking a date that worked for both of us, everything else fell together beautifully.

Amanda and I had been to Disney together prior to this trip, but it had been a whopping 9 years since. We went back and forth on which parks would be best to visit, but ultimately decided on trying to conquer all four parks in one day. Impossible? Not at all. Crazy? Eh, maybe a little. However, even to our surprise, we actually made it through every single park (we were pretty determined). Obviously we had somewhat of a game plan before going in. We'd picked our must-do attractions for each park and did our best to stick to it. 

Magic Kingdom held the majority of rides on our list, so we planned to start as well as end the day there. After riding Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and Space Mountain, we hopped the monorail over to Epcot for lunch at Electric Umbrella (they make a killer veggie flatbread). I had a chance to snag a photo with Alice (she's kinda my fave) as we made our way through England, we grabbed a piña colada in Morocco, tried to find the new Frozen ride in Norway (but failed), then moved onto Animal Kingdom. Riding Everest was the only thing we had in mind for AK since our time was quickly dwindling. After moving onto Hollywood Studios and waiting in line for the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster for what seemed like an eternity, we set off to where our adventure had begun.

We were both awfully tired whenever we finally made it back to Magic Kingdom again, but kept pressing on. Making our rounds, we chose to ride Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. After getting dinner at Pinocchio Village Haus, we started to make our way over to Main Street to get ready for the electrical parade until we noticed there was practically no wait for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. We both looked at each other in excitement and decided to skip the parade, making it out with just enough time to see the fireworks.

So, within a nutshell, 4 different parks, 14 hours, 13.5 miles walked (dead serious), 2.4 billion photos taken (a slight exaggeration) + countless memories. This trip was definitely one for the books and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to share it with Amanda. I'm not sure why I never recapped this before now, but Amanda ended up moving last week. I suppose that reminded me to document this before the memories begin to get fuzzy :)

And, now, here is just a portion of those 2.4 billion photos!
(the first one is a few shots from our first Disney trip together)

1/17/2017

Currently // January


EATING · The New Primal grass-fed spicy beef sticks, Kerrygold dubliner cheese (it's addicting), and Halo Top mint chip ice cream. I just discovered Halo Top and it's a real game changer! Also, lots and lots of salad.

DRINKING · Coffee, as per usual. I've actually been drinking it with Califia Farms toasted coconut almond milk + natural bliss vanilla coffee creamer. I wanted to find a new way to drink it without all the extra sugar (I used to only drink it with flavored creamers). This way seems to be the best! It's delicious. Besides that, just water and teas Tazo's Joy tea (leftover from Christmas) + Yogi's green tea blueberry slim life for the most part.

READING · I'm working on finishing up Unglued: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Raw Emotions. So far it has been a very insightful book. It's taught me how to keep my cool when people or situations push my buttons instead of blowing up and looking like a crazy fool, lol. Pretty sure everyone would benefit from reading it! 

WATCHING · G and I have been binging on Community lately. It's a comedy about community college and boy, does it make us laugh our butts off! Surprised that it took us so long to discover it. We also started A Series of Unfortunate Events the other day. It's interesting to say the least. Neal Patrick Harris = the perfect Count Olaf.
 
LISTENING TO ·  Some of my old favorites from middle school and high school. I put together a playlist the other day for our drive to Mount Dora and I found a bunch of songs I used to keep on repeat (like below).

DISCOVERING · That some situations I would normally be upset about aren't bothering me so much. I've come to realize most things just aren't worth losing my cool over. It may be an inconvenience, but those are tolerable.  
PLANNING · Our next Disney day. Epcot just introduced their International Festival of the Arts, but it's only running on weekends (Friday-Monday) until February 20th, so I'd really like to get there before the end of this month, if possible. I'm also planning on getting some more ink in early February! Already have the appointment set up! Which is super exciting since I haven't gotten a tattoo in so long. I won't share what I'm getting until it's finished, but I will say that it's going to be pretty sick (and a bit nerdy).

WISH-LISTING · I'd really love a pair of these Blowfish fisherman sandals (in whiskey), this scalloped bandeau bikini top + this floral scalloped bikini bottom from Target (go figure).

FEELING · The need to cull through all my belongings. I'm totally embracing this idea of a more minimalistic / less consumeristic lifestyle. I've felt this way for years, but now more than ever it seems. Experiences > things.

1/16/2017

Exploring Mount Dora


Most of my Sunday was spent marveling at the small town charm + character that the city of Mount Dora has to offer. My good friend, Lauren, and her children joined me as well. Coming in at just under two hours away from home, this quaint little lakeside region presented the perfect atmosphere for an afternoon of leisure. Nestled in the Central heart of Florida, the downtown district overlooks Lake Dora which provides some picturesque scenery. Antique shops, sidewalk cafés, coffee shops and bakeries adorn each street. Honestly, I could have stayed there for hours if we had the extra time.
 
We started our little adventure at Renninger's Antique Center and Flea Market. It seemed like a pretty cool place to check out (according to reviews). Since the crowds were thick and the Florida heat was unapologetic, we didn't stay long. I didn't mind though. There wasn't really anything that sparked my interest aside from a few crazy paintings. By the time we made it to the downtown area our stomachs were touching our backbones. Deciding on which restaurant to eat at proved to be difficult since there were so many options to pick from. We chose a place called Las Palmas. It was a Cuban restaurant and it didn't disappoint. As I stated on my Instagram post, I felt like I ate my weight in Cuban food ― a blackberry blood orange marg, ropa vieja, arroz amarillo, frijoles negros + yuca fritas. It was totally worth it though because everything was delicious!


I was hoping to pop into Le Petit Sweet for a cold brew or cappuccino, but they were just about to close (it seemed like the majority of shops started to close up between 4-5pm) so their selection was somewhat limited. Instead, I opted to indulge in a strawberry ice cream cone from Scoops on 5th with Lauren and the kids. I can't even remember the last time I had an ice cream cone, but it was very tasty. We finished up and walked down to the lake for a bit before starting the drive back home.


This historic village was a special place, one that I intend on visiting again in the future. If you've ever been, then you'll know just what I'm talking about. And, well, if you haven't, you should probably start planning a trip!