Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in a nutshell.

And just like that, 2015 has flashed before our very eyes. Perhaps it's because the summer never officially left us; temperatures have been hovering anywhere from 80-90F. I think Christmas was around 86 degrees...ugh. Needless to say, it feels like I am on an endless loop of August. However, tomorrow happens to be the start of January (and 2016, in case you hadn't heard).

Despite the fact that the last few months have been unbearably stressful, 2015 brought so much good into my life. In fact, I would say that it has been my biggest year of personal growth to date.

January

-I set some goals (not resolutions), and I'm happy to say that I made progress/completed many of them.
-We took Einstein to the beach for the first time on New Year's Day.


-I talked about why social media is a bit of a lie before Essena O'Neill lost it.
-I gave five reasons why you shouldn't get a dog.
-I went to Gasparilla with old friends and new friends and had a drunken blast.




-We went to our first wedding of the year!


February

-I talked about how life happens when you're busy making other plans.
-I spent a Sunday in the sun with two of my favorite friends and had a photo shoot in downtown Tampa.



-I gave five things to do on Valentine's Day instead of going out to dinner.
-I bought my first DSLR camera on a killer sale and took it on a walk.


March

-I began my transition to becoming a brunette.
- My sister, boyfriend, and I went to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City for the first time.


April

-The beginning of something entirely different.
-I had my official last day at work.
-I talked about why it was important for me to have my ugly, chubby years.
-I went to California for the first time ever! (I blogged about Venice here and Hollywood here).
-I started serving tables again.


May

-I gave new college grads 6 "No B.S." tips about life post-college.
-Ryan and I visited one of my good friends, Annalise, in Chicago!

(We also adopted a small child, to the right).

June

-I got serious about studying for the GRE.
-I turned 24 and talked about 15 things I'd learned by 23.
-Ryan took me to Orlando for my birthday...we made homemade margaritas at the hotel and went to Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon!


July

-I spoke ironically about how to save tons of money.
-I gave my first (and um...only?) book review on Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
-I took the GRE for the first time...and did well! Mostly.
-I got to spend the day before the fourth of July on a boat!


August

-I dyed my hair dark. Real dark.
-Tampa was underwater for a weekend. No, but really.
-I enrolled in speech-language pathology post-bacc classes. AH!
-I took the GRE round 2 because sometimes life is just unfair.
-Ryan and I moved in together!
-I took my first trip to Key West for Kaylee's bachelorette party!


September

-Life started to kick me in the ass. Real hard.
-I talked about why I hate the word "basic" (yet proceeded to refer to myself as such for the rest of the year).

October
-My horse that I'd grown up with for the last 16 years passed away.
-I got to go to Taylor Swift's last 1989 tour in the states!
-Ryan was best man in our friends' Mark & Lauren's wedding! October was certainly the month for weddings because...
-Kaylee got married, and I got to be a bridesmaid with some beautiful friends!


November

-I talked about what I was thankful for this year.
-I officially started to apply to grad school...dun dun dun.
-Ryan and I ran the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day and I actually ran the entire 3.1 miles. It was a shocker for everyone.
-I went to my first and only USF tailgate of the year!


December

-I had the most hellacious finals week of my life and somehow managed to survive, just barely.
-Ryan turned 29!
-We spent Christmas with Ryan's family in Fort Myers for the third year in a row :)
-My best friend, Sable, got engaged to her boyfriend of five years...and I got to photograph it!




If I could sum up 2015 in a word, it would be "change." 2015 was certainly the year of change for me, in most major aspects of my life. I cried a lot...but in some ways, I've also never been happier. I know that 2016 will be filled with just as many surprises: I find out where I get in (or, you know, don't get in) to grad school and we may or may not have to move. It's all up in the air. What a crazy feeling that is, right?

So happy New Year's Eve, everyone! BE SAFE, and do not drink and drive and all that jazz. You know.

XOXO




Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to All!


To those who celebrate: Merry Christmas, my loves!

It's hard to believe that the holiday season has already come and gone. Sans New Years Eve, it's almost time to return to normal life. Around 10 p.m. on Christmas Day, it occurs to me that all the hustle and bustle, the lights, the adventures, the preparation, etc. is all over. And then I start to get super bummed. 

This year, I feel a little differently. While I know I will miss this holiday season for sure, I'm excited to get back to "real life." It's time to finish up my grad school apps, to keep up with my regular work out routine, and to get back to eating healthy. 

Until then, it's time to enjoy the next few days. For me, the holidays really do feel magical. I love family time and gift giving and getting chubs off champagne, Oreo truffles, and honey baked ham. What's not to love? After all, Christmas only comes once a year. 

So eat up and drink up, everyone. Spend time with your families and try your best to steer away from social media. Today is about being in the moment. Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Something About Tampa: DI Coffee Bar.


I never really noticed it until recently, but Tampa is the spot for foodies. Whether you're looking for a hole-in-the-wall, a cozy coffee spot, or an original restaurant concept you wouldn't find in most other places, it's more than likely that Tampa has one! After reading about Davis Island Coffee Bar (DI Coffee) on Letters and Pearls a few months back, I knew I had to go see this little coffee bar for myself (do yourself a favor and check her post out for better pictures...I was in a rush and didn't get too many great shots!).

Despite the fact that I refer to myself as a semi-blogger, I am not a coffee connoisseur. Aren't those supposed to go hand in hand, after all? If you ever catch me posting a picture of myself holding a mug, there is a 99% chance that it is actually hot tea. While I do like coffee, too much of it makes me break out in awful cystic acne. TMI? Probably. I digress.

Because of the aforementioned coffee issue, I opted for my usual: chai tea latte with soy or almond milk. Let me just say: DELICIOUS. I love that it came in a mug vs. a paper cup. As cheesy as it sounds, it really is a homey touch, especially when I'm catching up with a friend I haven't seen in awhile. 


Because I am a monster when I haven't had breakfast, I also snagged some avocado toast. While it may have been slightly overpriced (about $4 for this little nugget piece of toast...), it was freshly made right across the bar and it was delicious. As an "every once in awhile" treat, I would definitely say it was worth the couple extra bucks vs. a pastry.


While I didn't spend much (if any) time inside, I can safely say that I will for sure be visiting DI Coffee Bar again soon. I recently started volunteering at Tampa General Hospital a whopping mile down the road, so I hope my chai latte will become a semi-regular treat after a shift.


In other plainly obvious news: Christmas is just around the corner! It's practically here! Let the craziness begin...I can't wait to spend a few days off from work and school to celebrate with some of my favorite people. 


What are your plans for the holidays?










Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas To-Do List 2015.

Just 10 days until one of my favorite days of the year: Christmas! Like I mentioned earlier in the month, Christmas isn't just about gifts for me. As I've gotten older, I think I get more excited about the events leading up to Christmas than the actual holiday itself. With less than two weeks until it's all over, I figured now is as good a time as any to start ticking off my holiday to-do list....



Watch all my favorite Christmas movies:
- Home Alone (check!)
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas (check!)
- Love Actually (check!)
- The Holiday
- Jingle All The Way
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
- Nightmare Before Christmas
- Elf (...I know I'm the minority here, but not my favorite. I'm trying to give it another shot, though!)

Complete a Christmas-related DIY. Okay, I already cheated on this one right before Thanksgiving...a couple of my girl friends and I got together for a DIY Christmas wreathe soiree. So fun! Not easy, but still fun.

Bake Christmas cookies with friends! I'm thinking classic sugar cookies and maybe a little something extra. Okay, maybe more. Alright, so I actually have no self control or sense of "less is more," so I would like to just bake all the things.

Go to a Christmas party. 

Drive around a neighborhood known for having a bunch of fancy house lights! Preferably on a chilly night with a hot beverage of sorts. But let's get real, it's forever 80 degrees around here, so fat chance of that happening.

Finish making/buying all my Christmas gifts. I'm unbearably behind on all of my Christmas gifts. Despite the endless (and borderline annoying) "gift giving" guides I've seen throughout all the blogs I follow, I can't seem to find the "right thing" for a few people on my list. Ah, the stress levels!

Make a holiday inspired cocktail. Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic...I don't discriminate.

Take it allllllll in. Slow down and actually enjoy the season.

What's on your to-do list? What have you already done/what do you have planned?














Monday, December 14, 2015

End of Finals + Ryan's 29th!

And what a hell of a week it was, my friends. Finals are dunzo and my first semester of being back in school are officially in the books. What a (semi) relief it is to be finished!

The end of the semester couldn't have come at a better time, because it was Ryan's 29th birthday on Thursday! Instead of going out to dinner, he wanted to go to World of Beer for drinks and appetizers. While I'm not personally a huge fan of beer, WOB makes a mean peach sangria, so I was happy to oblige. We toasted to another year and the end of the semester from hell, and finished off the night by Redbox-ing Inside Out!


To continue the celebration, we went to our first Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game of the season. We had amazing seats just about 12 rows away from the glass, which means we had a killer view of the game...and the fights! I'm not one to condone violence, but I get pretty disappointed when I don't witness at least one good punch at a hockey game. 

In other news, today I start my first day volunteering at Tampa General Hospital in their speech-language pathology department! I've never worked a day in any kind of hospital or medical setting before, so I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but I'm so excited! I know I talk about my career change quite a bit around these parts, but sometimes it's still hard to believe that I actually did it. Today is going to be 110% out of my comfort zone, but I think I'm ready.

In other OTHER news, Christmas is just 11 days away already. How did that happen?! My favorite time of year is pretty much over even though it hasn't even started yet. It's about that time to make a holiday to-do list and knock it out before it really is over.

How was your weekend?!







Friday, December 4, 2015

On excuses.


Something I've learned about myself this year: Once I stop making excuses for myself, I can accomplish anything I want.

Really novel stuff, right? Maybe not.

At the beginning of the school year, I was constantly flustered. I was a mess in a dress, on the brink of a mental breakdown at any given moment. I was broke for the first time...probably ever. My communication science & disorders classes were a complete mystery to me; half the time I felt like I was studying a different language. In fact, if you count learning the International Phonetic Alphabet, I guess I kind of was. I was so preoccupied trying to get my volunteer and observation hours documented while striving for A's and thinking about grad school that I felt like just stopping to breathe for too long might send me into a stress induced frenzy. I'm pretty sure I put on a few pounds too, because I claimed I never had the time to work out. Every day I thought to myself, "was this a good plan? Am I happy? Because I feel like I'm losing my mind."

Maybe I was. Maybe I still am. But for once, I feel confident in myself. Somehow, fingers crossed, I will probably end up with all A's this semester (minus hearing science because...well...I hate it). I slowed down on observation hours. I started waking up earlier to get a work out in because I knew it would make me feel better about myself; now my work out is my "me time." While my grad school apps aren't completed yet, they will be in just under two months, and it'll be time to throw my hands in the air and let it be what it will be.

The point is: I never thought I could do any of this. Becoming a speech-language pathologist always felt like something that was "too smart" for me. But I'm slowly finding out that maybe it isn't after all.

Prior to this semester, I didn't know what it was like to get an A on an exam. Now I'm upset when I don't. Prior to a few weeks ago, I thought being in school full time and working was a decent enough excuse to stop working out. Now I look forward to squeezing in early morning work outs. All semester, I've been telling myself that I'm not good enough to get into grad school. Now I am feeling more motivated than ever to apply. 

So if you find yourself struggling, change your mindset. It won't happen right away...but slowly, you will become bigger than your excuses.



And with that, happy Friday! I'll be studying for finals all weekend, but we will also be decorating the Christmas tree tomorrow night, so it's not all bad :)


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy December!

I have a lot of favorite months. 

To me, I think there is something to love about every season. In the spring, the Florida air hasn't quite reached the peak of its humidity; the mornings are still crisp, everything is green, and baseball season begins. In the summer, I thank my lucky stars for afternoon thunderstorms...not to mention the endless opportunities to drink margaritas on the beach. Come fall, I'm ready for pumpkin spice and everything nice; we're no where near chilly weather, but that doesn't stop me from breaking out my favorite knit sweaters from the last temperature drop back in February. Football starts up, as do the holidays, and that's when the magic starts to happen.

Today, we welcome December. While the temperature is hovering around 83 degrees today (with 74% humidity, mind you), I have high hopes for cooler temps in the coming weeks. I'm sipping pumpkin spice coffee from a "Merry" mug because I'm not quite ready to let go of autumn. My Christmas tree is up and lit, waiting patiently to be decked out in ornaments. I've broken out the deeply discounted decorations I bought after Christmas last year; they feel like new. Balsam and spruce scented candles are scattered throughout our 800 square foot apartment. I have yet to buy a real Christmas tree of my own, but I know that will happen someday.

For me, Christmas isn't about gifts...and since I'm not very religious, it isn't about that for me either. For me, Christmas is a feeling. A cozy feeling. A time to come together with friends and family, to drink champagne and to decorate cookies. It's my favorite time of the year because, despite the frigid air (clearly not in Florida, but perhaps everywhere else!), it's the warmest time of year.

What's your favorite part about the holidays?

From photo...
Chubby Santa: Target
Frosted tree: Pier 1
Merry mug: Home Goods

Monday, November 30, 2015

Goodbye, November!

[Florida sunsets never disappoint!]

As usual, Thanksgiving came and went in the blink of an eye. 3.1 miles later, I actually ran the entire Turkey Trot this year. I'm not entirely sure if it's because I'm in halfway decent shape, or if I was just afraid of getting trampled if I dared to stop. At 33 minutes and 57 seconds, it's safe to say that I'm not a runner, but those post-race mimosas in front of the Macy's Day Parade at 9 a.m. felt well deserved.

Despite being college student broke, I managed to partake in just a liiiiitttle bit of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping. Did I need anything? Of course not. But I felt like indulging in my dark side just a tad, and managed to score some killer deals, like this perfectly purple sweater (marked down to $17 from $38) and turquoise tunic (marked down to $19 from $42) from Nordstrom. Not to mention this festive blanket scarf (similar to mine - I got green!) and flannel shirt from Target.

All shopping aside, it felt great to spend some quality time with my family this weekend. Ryan and I even had some time to head down to Fort Myers and Bonita Bay Beach to spend time with his parents, cousins, aunt & uncle, etc. for the remainder of the holiday weekend! We had a blast eating lots of yummy food, paddle boarding, and galavanting about on the beach. What a winter we're having here in Florida!

But now it's back to reality - back to work, finals, and grad school apps! Story of my life. I can't believe tomorrow is the start of December...finally Christmas time! There is so much to be done, but like most, I absolutely love this time of year. Most exciting of all...my sister and brother-in-law will be visiting from Europe for a few weeks at the end of the month! Happy holidays, indeed :)

Did you score anything good over the weekend?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thankful.

[Not my photo]

I can hardly contain my excitement because, in case you haven't heard, THANKSGIVING IS JUST TWO DAYS AWAY. No big deal or anything. It's just my favorite holiday (okay, every holiday is my favorite holiday).

After a long (read: treacherous) three months, it's going to be really nice to spend a couple days with my family (and Ryan's!) eating good food and enjoying good company. I think Thanksgiving is underrated due to all the it's-almost-but-not-quite-yet-Christmas-hoopla...which, to be honest, I partake in to some extent. I'm all about being thankful, and I'm also all about eating, thus I am all about this holiday just as much as I am all about Christmas (ahem, Chrismukkah).

This season, I'm thankful for:

-Dark chocolate chips, because they almost mask the taste of the Greek yogurt I've been trying to eat in the morning.
-Kayla Itsines, because her workouts have been kicking my ass lately, in the best way.
-Mother Nature, because it was actually 48 degrees yesterday morning and I got to break out my favorite scarf and my favorite faux leather jacket. I may actually be growing up, because I didn't even take a selfie of my perfectly "fall" outfit. Sigh.
-My parents' premium channel subscriptions, without which we would be unable to watch Homeland and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver every week.
-Dishwashers, because props to everyone who has to live without one...I simply could not do it.

Okay, on a real note: in light of all the tragic events that have occurred in the last few weeks, I am truly thankful just to be healthy, alive, and in the presence of my loved ones this Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for my supporting family, my patient boyfriend, my wild pups, and the opportunities I've taken advantage of over the last year. It truly has been a wonderful year.

What are you thankful for this year?







Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finding My Happy Place.


I am one anxiety-ridden individual. Isn't everyone? I feel like most people in some way, shape, or form have some kind of issue with anxiety, and I am certainly no exception. Between studying, volunteering, observing, and getting ready to apply to grad school while working 25 hours a week, maintaining a healthy relationship with my live-in boyfriend, friends and family, and taking care of two dogs, it's hard not to cry out of pure exhaustion every single day. Maybe I sound like a weenie, but whatever - the last three months have been kicking me swiftly in the ass, and some days I mentally cannot take it.

I had some errands to run on the "other side of the bridge" yesterday (aka the other side of the Tampa Bay). Einstein was due for a grooming appointment, and I had my twice-yearly dentist appointment. JOY! I went to my parents house after said errands for dinner, and I was chatting with my mom about how I've felt like a real psycho lately.

"Where is your happy place?" she asked me.

I laughed and said, "I don't really have one. There is no happy place! It's all terribly unhappy all the time!"

I was mostly joking, but she replied anyway with, "well, you need one. You need to find it, and then you need to mentally 'go there.'" 

And she's right. I've been spending a lot of time on what I call my "hamster wheel;" in other words, my wheel of anxiety, and I don't discriminate reasons as to why I might be losing my shit that day. Maybe I feel like freaking out about grad school, or my financial situation, or my relationship, or my laundry, or anything.

So I went home that night and took a bubble bath. I had plenty of studying to do, but I lit one of my new Bath & Body Works candles, opened up a Marie Claire magazine, and soaked for 30 minutes. For a moment, I was stress-free. I didn't worry about anything or anyone.

I'm in the process of creating my own happy places. Whether it's taking 30 minutes in the morning to read a book for pleasure, or making time to work out, or catching up on a television show. My happy place needs to be some place where I can forget about deadlines and remember how to be a real human.

Where is your "happy place"? 


Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall To-Do List: Pumpkin Carving...Check!

Do you ever have weeks when, just when you think you're about to catch up on everything, you turn around and you actually have 23940834 more things to do by tomorrow at 2 p.m.? What do you mean it's called "college"? I don't follow. College wasn't like this for me the first go around. I had time for underage (and eventual legal) drinking, I had time for vacations, I had time to go home and see my parents.

Despite the fact that my life seems to be flashing before my eyes, I've been making an effort to complete my fall to-do list (okay, my post clearly says October to-do list, but you know, whatever). While I may be a few days late and a few bucks short, Ryan and I got to carve some pumpkins with a couple friends just a few nights before Halloween!


We made our way down to the "pumpkin patch," which as you can see was really just a tent of pumpkins on the side of the road. NOT the photo op I had in mind, but I digress. The sun was almost about to set, but we were still able to snag a few pictures before the night fell into darkness.



Someone was very particular about picking his pumpkin...but nowhere near as particular as yours truly! About 20 minutes into our hunt, everyone had already picked their pumpkin, and I was still rummaging through the rows. It's a big decision! My pumpkin needed to be relatively clean, but didn't need to have perfect texture; tall, but wide enough for a face; and of course, the most important part, he needed to have a stellar stem so it would look like he had good hair. Not a lot to ask for, in my humble opinion.



The night was spent eating Publix hot n' spicy chicken wings, jack-o-lantern shaped cookies, and Halloween inspired cupcakes while watching the Addams Family (and football). While I had plenty of schoolwork and grad school applications I could have been working on during this lovely Thursday night, it felt really good to push away responsibility for just one night to enjoy something I've been wanting to do for so long!


Can you guess which one is mine?!





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