Wednesday, November 21, 2018

my thanksgiving wish for you.

I'm four weeks into working in the public schools, and while the system is a can of worms in itself, I will say that one thing I am so thankful for in this setting: THANKSGIVING BREAK.

An entire week without a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call, a 40 minute commute, and approximately 32498295 therapy plans and meetings to schedule makes me one happy little sugar plum speech princess.

Granted, I'm recently out of school, where I also had "Thanksgiving/fall break," but there were always serving shifts to be worked, reading to be completed, final exams to prepare for, etc. Now, it looks a little different. I'm getting in a couple of "work" hours today, just so I don't drown next week when I get back, but I'm making it a point to unplug when I can, spend time with family, catch up on some novels, and simply reeeeeelax. Like many, I really love this time of year, but it's easy to get caught up and forget to really enjoy yourself.

So with that said...

  • I hope Thanksgiving finds you surrounded with family - the kind you were born into, or the kind you chose yourself. 
  • I hope you shut off your mental calorie calculator, and enjoy every last bite of your dinner, whether that's a traditional turkey feast or a third helping of pecan pie. 
  • I hope that if you're a turkey trotter like myself, you hit a new PR, or at the very least, simply cross the finish line (and throwback a well earned mimosa or holiday-themed latte afterward). 
  • I hope you get to snuggle on the couch with your favorite person or your favorite pooch to watch the Macy's Day parade or your favorite football team. 
  • I hope you get a chance to help out in the kitchen, to learn the "tricks of the trade" for your favorite recipe, to look around and soak it all in. 
  • I hope you're thankful, because if you're reading this, it means you're still alive and kickin', despite the country/world's seemingly daily tragedies.


Photo by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

Happy Thanksgiving to all my loyal friends out here in the blogosphere! 




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Monday, November 5, 2018

what's up with the wedding? vol. 2


Fall is in mid-swing here in Florida...we actually experienced some temperatures below 60 degrees this week, and I am not complaining. It seems October came and went in a flash, and now I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving!

October has always been one of my favorite months. It's the start of the holiday season, home to Halloween, and the month I met Ryan. Coincidentally (or not, considering I had it in my head since we got engaged), we'll even be getting married on the anniversary of our first date next year! We are already just about a year out from the big day, and even though I've had my "what's the big fuss, let's just do this thing" moments, I'm grateful for our longer engagement, because time is flying and it's been so fun to soak in every little moment of being engaged.

Since my last update, we've actually made quite a bit of headway. I'm going to be honest when I say that I've pictured my wedding in a bazillion different ways, but only since we got engaged. Even though we've been together for years, I only ever pictured a marriage with Ryan...not necessarily a wedding. But similarly to trying on wedding dresses, I discovered my own personal taste by figuring out what I didn't like first.

Venue


 (Photo credit: Station House Instagram)

We toured several different venues, all different settings: an art museum, a clay center, an old theater, an estate, a dance studio. We found ourselves feeling so "set" with one venue, only to read a few bad reviews or to feel iffy about the surrounding area for photos (seems so silly, but a beautiful venue inside and out felt important to me). Finally, we walked into Station House in downtown St. Pete and we both "knew," and did what we could to make it work.

Despite the higher price tag, we opted for Station House for the convenience factor. We looked at a lot of "DIY" or "bring your own XYZ" type of venues, but it felt like such a hassle to have to price and compare, bring everything in, coordinate setup and breakdown, hire a wedding planner who isn't already familiar with the venue, etc. Plus, service fees for each individual thing can add up pretty quickly. While our venue isn't "all inclusive," our caterer, beverages, tables, and chairs were all included in the price we were given, and we were able to hire the girl who gave us a tour as our month-of coordinator for a great rate. The venue is beautiful on its own, so we won't need a whole lot of additional decor to spruce it up besides adding our own special touches. Plus, would you look at this room that we get to use for a little photo booth setup?!


(Photo credit: Station House Instagram)

Photographer

Venue + photography were the two highest "priorities" on my dream wedding list (I say "my" because Ryan just wanted to do whatever made me happiest...ha!). While I initially gave us a large-ish budget for photography, our pricier venue humbled me a bit in other aspects, so I started browsing with caution. I totally respect and understand why wedding photographers charge what they do (sooo much time + effort goes into it!), but I still had to be mindful of my budget. My biggest thing was making sure an engagement shoot was included within the cost. I actually found our photographer Emily Mathewson (Instagram & website) by searching the Instagram hashtag #tampaweddingphotographer. I'm so excited for us to have our engagement photo shoot this weekend!

Dress

Like I mentioned here, I said "yes" to the dress in September! My sister was visiting from Europe, which doesn't happen often, so I went dress shopping with my mom, future mother-in-law, sister, and grandma. I made appointments at two places, starting with The Dressing Room, which is where I ultimately ended up getting my dress. I went there and to a larger "chain" bridal shop, and the difference in customer service was astronomical. 

We were the only ones in the store at TDR, and my consultant really honed in on the style I liked from just one picture (and hand-picked my wedding dress based off that picture!), allowed me to browse on my own, and stuck to my budget without complaint. In comparison, I felt borderline "man-handled" at the chain boutique, getting thrown in and out of dresses that were way out of my price range (and on top of that, didn't feel well made), and weren't my taste at all. It didn't feel like a special experience, and I was at the point where, even if I'd found the dress of my dreams, I had no desire to buy anything from my consultant. I went back to TDR a week later and said yes to my dress!

Advice, if you're interested:

Don't be afraid to haggle (within reason!). For our venue specifically, we were quoted a rate that was probably pretty good in the grand scheme of things, especially for our location, but was still over our budget. While we desperately wanted our venue, we didn't want to spend beaucoup dollars on one night, no matter how special. Ryan emailed, and asked what exactly we could do to get closer to our budget, and our [now] wedding planner helped us out. In a nutshell - don't be afraid to ask. As long as you're respectful and not asking for an outlandish handout, most people want to help out and work with you. Worst thing that can happen is someone tells you "no"! 

Our caterer is right downstairs from our venue, and we're setting up a tasting soon, so I'm pumped for that (give me alllll the food). I have just a couple more bridesmaids to formally "ask," and then I've gotta nail down our colors, figure out dessert, look for additional decor, etc. In other words, we have a lot down, but quite a ways to go.

341 days left until the big day!




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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

saying goodbye to restaurant life.

Back in March/April 2015, I decided that I didn't want to work in sales for the rest of my life. In fact, I decided that I didn't want to do anything related to PR, social media, or advertising as a career. I quit my job, started working in a restaurant (again), and began the journey that led me to where I am today.

I remember walking into my first training shift at that restaurant. The weight of this seemingly random, moderately life-altering decision fell on me like a ton of bricks when I was shown "the dish pit." A frequently forgotten staple to a restaurant, it all felt real in that instant. I thought to myself, "oooook, this is my life now." I'd voluntarily exchanged nude pumps for black nonslip flats, accepted primary blue dresses as my weekend evening wear, and started serving tables again.

It was hard at first, and for awhile. Not the job itself, but coming back to it after having "gone corporate." Serving is easy money, but its one of the toughest jobs out there. I've had a finger wagged in my face by guests. I've balled my eyes out back behind the kitchen because of said guests. I've had 12 tables at once. I've refused to serve alcohol to many teenagers (maybe I'll write a blog post on that soon, simply because the stories are killer). I've missed outings and trips to work a brunch shift, where I've actually watched someone throw up allll over the restaurant from too many "bottomless" mimosas. I've been told that no one liked me because I was too "bossy."

But I stuck it out, because 1) I needed money, 2) grad school left absolutely no time to venture out and find a new job/learn a new menu/train, 3) because, for the most part, they worked with my crazy schedule, even when that meant I didn't want to work weekends because I was working 40 hours a week for free at a hospital internship. And of course, because I loved the people I worked with.

Last week, I walked out of my last serving shift. I closed out all my checks, collected cash before passing "go," and said goodbye to my friends.

On Monday, I start my new job as a speech-language pathologist in the schools (and here is one of the speech rooms...it's identical to mine, but this is the other SLP's!).

I feel like I'm gonna throw up, but kind of in the best way. Here's to starting my career (again).











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Monday, October 8, 2018

i'm not always busy, and that's okay.

This weekend, Ryan went golfing in a neighboring city with a few of his friends, so I was left alone with the pooches. I was a blob for most of the day on Saturday, with the promise of dinner + movie plans with girlfriends later in the evening. When those fell through last minute because my friend got super sick, I felt like I was at a bit of a loss. On top of that, a lot of my other friends were out of town, and I just didn't feel up for hopping county lines to visit my parents. So unexpectedly, it was just me, myself, and the dogs.

And normally, I'd be fine with that. But because I'd been straight blobbin' all day, having only left the apartment for a quick Target run (for movie theater candy + new coffee) and a mini gym sesh, I was feeling unreasonably bummed. And you know when you're just "in a mood?"

I. Was. In. It. 

At Target, I could feel myself shooting RBF glares left and right, my workout felt contrived, and even the smallest decisions felt life-altering and overwhelming (do I go to the mall? do I go to my friend's place 30 minutes away? do I continue to blob it up and feel sorry for myself?!?!?).

Because here's the thing: we live in a cute little (emphasis on little) apartment, complete with original hardwood flooring, two-toned gray walls, and white french doors with gold details and faux-crystal knobs. We have nine windows just in our bedroom, twinkly lights, and trinkets. It's charming and adorable, and for the most part, we love it.

But we rented it for the area, not necessarily for its functionality. And the downside of living in the middle of a hustle-bustle-something-always-going-on type of area is just that: something is always going on, someone is always going out, etc. AKA it's a big source of #FOMO (fear of missing out, in case you didn't know!), which is so dumb, and it's something I'm really trying to work on...because contrary to what your Instagram feed leads you to believe, it's okay to chill out by yourself on a Saturday night.

Long story longer, I snapped myself out of the funk by making it a real "treat yo'self" type of night. I ordered the yummiest sushi from Uber Eats (my personal code is "eats-samanthar538" if you want $5 off!), walked my happy butt to the grocery store to pick up a bottle of wine, and set myself up with Game of Thrones. By 7:30 p.m., all my twinkly lights were on, a candle was lit, and I was in cozy mode, and I didn't care about "missing out" on anything.




A lot of times, especially as a blogger, I feel this constant nagging to be productive - to establish new routines, to brain storm big ideas, to be busy. Sometimes, especially post-graduate school, I'm simply not busy, and sometimes, I don't feel like being intentional with my time...and I think that's okay. Those are the times when we discover our new favorite novel, or binge our new favorite show. I think we're all familiar with the glorification of "being busy" in this day and age, but that's another post for another day.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to do absolutely nothing productive? And then on top of that - to not feel guilty about it?



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Monday, October 1, 2018

currently | september 2018



We’ve already hopped right on out of September, and now we’re entering one of my favorite times of the year -  alllllll the holidays. In October, I’ll be celebrating 5 years with Ryan, starting my new job (hopefully...), and getting involved in Halloween shenanigans in some form of another.  I’m a day late and a dollar short, but here’s a little “current” update, since I’ve been a bit MIA around here:

Reading: Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan. This book has great reviews, but I'm struggling to get into it. I'm nearly halfway through, so I'm committing to sticking it out! 2018 has been the year of frivolous reads, so I'm trying to get back into mysteries and thrillers. Up next: Sharp Objects (so I can finally watch the show, of course).

Watching: I just finished The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime (just in time for it to win eight Emmys!), and GUYS. I HAVEN'T BEEN THIS OBSESSED WITH A SHOW IN SO LONG. Set in the 1950s, it follows Miriam "Midge" Maisel, a New York housewife who decides to become a standup comic after her husband leaves her. It's perfectly witty with fantastic characters and a unique storyline, and I am so ready for season two. We also just finished The Handmaid's Tale, and just...what the...can we not.

Buying: As of 8 a.m. this morning, I bought a package of La Bang body oil, as recommended by my favorite fitness YouTuber, Sarah's Day. I'm awful about moisturizing anything on my body besides my face, so I'm hoping a new oil will kick start the habit (her code LOVESARAH gives 15% off, just as a helpful heads up). Also recently bought (affiliate links to follow...):
- High-waisted jeggings in a darker denim wash and black (this link says black, but they appear to be khaki...weird). I've never bought a pair of high-waist pants in my life, and I'm actually pretty excited about these! Like many, I'm loving Target's Universal Thread brand, and both of these babies are on sale for just $15. I almost sized up, but I found that they stretched pretty well over my tummy. My "next size up" had more of a legging feel with some excessive material around my hip area, if that's helpful!
These earrings, but in a darker copper color that I can't seem to find online. They're my first "crawler" type of earrings, and I'm obsessed.
- This matte lip creme by Milan in the color Loved. Maybe slightly drying, but the color lasts a long time, and at $6-7 a pop, can you really go wrong? 

Getting ready for: My first job as a full-fledged speech-language pathologist! I was verbally offered a split elementary school position with the county this week, with a formal offer to follow later this week. I'm nervous to get started, but also super excited! I officially put in my two weeks with my serving job (on a pick-up only basis for the next month or two, "just in case"), and while I'll miss my coworkers, I am beyond ready for this change.

Saying: Yes to the dress! Contrary to popular belief, I actually had no idea what I wanted my wedding dress to look like, so dress shopping was a combination of exciting and only slightly overwhelming. It's another post for another day, but I had such an amazing experience with The Dressing Room in St. Petersburg and got a perfect dress "off the rack," aka 50% off. WHAT A LIFE.


September was a month full of family time, as my sister has been staying with my parents (she lives in Bulgaria) since September 11th. She's leaving today, but it's been a trip full of bargain hunting, dress shopping, wine drinking, and laughing.

Here's to October, as to inch closer and closer to the end of 2018!



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