Sunday, January 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.

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.

Travel throughout Scandinavia.

Friday, January 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.

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.

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).

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. 

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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

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)

Thursday, January 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, we 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 couldn't be happier 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 :)

Friday, January 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.

Pray that God covers President Trump with His protection.

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

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.

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.

Thursday, January 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 Rock 'n' Roller Coaster for an eternity, we went back to where our adventure had initially 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 looked at each other in excitement and decided to skip the parade, making it out with just enough time to watch 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)

Tuesday, January 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, water and tea 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).

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).

LEARNING · How to react better to situations I would normally get upset or stressed about. I've come to realize most things just aren't worth losing my cool over. It may be an inconvenience, but those are tolerable. 

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.

Monday, January 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!

Friday, January 13, 2017

My 2017 Reading List

You know what? I can't even recall the last time I actually planned out what I wanted to read over the course of a year. In the past, I kinda just went about my reading in a nonchalant way. For the longest time I made myself believe that I wasn't a good reader. I wasn't like the rest of the bookworms out there ― plowing through page after page, finishing books right and left. I'll admit that I'm a slow reader (I downloaded an app to help my reading speed), but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm a bad reader.

Way back in August, while visiting Haslam's Book Store, I purchased a copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury as recommended by my friend, Charlene (from Charlene Zale). I read the first chapter or two after bringing it home, but then I placed it aside in hopes of finishing a different book I was reading at the time. Well, let's fast forward to December. As I mentioned before, I was stuck working 12 hour shifts almost that entire month. Some days were very slow, but I was thankful because it gave me time to catch up on my GED work and read a bit. I decided to dive back into Fahrenheit 451, and to my surprise, I finished it in a matter of days! I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single person should read this book at some point in their life. It was such an eye-opener and definitely reignited a passion for reading inside of me. Reading (knowledge) is such a powerful tool. Without it, we are basically doomed as a society.

With all that being said, reading that book made me want to read more often. It helped me to realize that it doesn't matter if I'm a slow reader. What matters is that I actually put time aside to read. Slow progress is still progress. For the first time in a long time, I actually made a reading game plan for the year. I'm not trying to strive for 100, 50, or even 25 books. I've picked 12 books (one for each month) that I'd like to read. I knew that I needed to be realistic with my goal and I think this amount will be best for me.

M Y  2 0 1 7  R E A D I N G  L I S T

Saturday, January 07, 2017

2017 Vision + Goals

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

I realize that I'm a few days late with posting this as I really wanted to share it last week, but please bear with me as I've been working my life away since mid-December! A couple years back, I starting piecing together these annual vision boards 2015 + 2016. It has really been a great way for me to visually grasp my hopes, as well as identify the overall focus for the year to come.

In previous years, I also tacked on a rather specific list of goals I'd like to accomplish, but I've decided to simply stick with making monthly goals instead. After reading through the ones I laid out for 2015 + 2016, I noticed that there were a lot that I wasn't able to complete (what a surprise). However, I found that breaking my goals down into manageable chunks each month was much more helpful and I was able to get way more done by doing it that way. Hoping to post my January goals within the next day!

As far as more general intentions in 2017, the following list sums it up well

➜ ➜ ➜

Seek God's revelation daily

L O V E  H A R D E R

Worry less about situations out of my control

B E  M O R E  I N T E N T I O N A L  W I T H  M Y  T I M E

Remain mindful especially while I'm with others

E X T E N D  M O R E  G R A C E

Give without expecting anything back in return
D O  T H I N G S  T H A T  S C A R E  M E

Make time to take care of myself 

R E A D  M O R E  O F T E N

Reconnect with people