Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Chicago Trip, Pt. 1!

(Forgive the quality of these pictures...I forgot my camera case strap at home, thus my D7000 didn't make it out much on this adventure).

A few weeks back, Ryan and I spent some time with my good friend, Annalise, in one of my favorite cities in the country: Chicago! 

My love affair with Chicago began after my very first visit around Christmas time in 2012. Despite the fact that it was unbearably cold the last two times I visited, one weekend of which was right after their polar vortex in 2014, I fell in love with its big city feel and midwestern hospitality. I was even considering moving there after college, until I realized I can't handle snow for more than four days at a time. 

It had been just over a year since my last visit when I found a cheap round trip ticket through my Chase Rewards program. Ryan had never been to Chicago before, so he was eager to hop on the trip as well, "only if the Cubs were playing a home game." So fast forward a few months and off we went!

After an eventful flight process (note: NEVER fly Frontier Airlines. Ever.), we arrived in Chicago midafternoon on May 1st, dropped our bags, and hit the ground running, starting with a walk along the Magnificent Mile.




The Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago is a must-see, at least if you want to do some shopping. The first time I came to Chicago, I absolutely had to honor my childhood dream and visit the American Girl Doll Store. This time around, we spent money on food and alcohol, and quite literally almost nothing else. I was moderately okay with that.

Because it was Ryan's first time, we obviously had to make a trip to the famous Bean. That thing just never gets old. It really doesn't.


We planned our trip about three months in advance, but we didn't realize until just a couple days before that we would be in Chicago the same time as NFL Draft Town. While I'm not anywhere close to a crazy NFL fan, it was still awesome to be right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of the draft. I made sure to keep my eyes peeled for my girl Kristin Cavallari at all times, but alas, nothing.



 [Go Bucs?!?! Sure. We'll give that a shot this year.]



We enjoyed said hustle and bustle for all of 20 minutes before we moved on to bigger at better things...like Pequod's pizza. Which I felt zero guilt about because, according to my handy iPhone and its health app, we walked more than 21,000 steps. In knee-high boots. Ooooof, my feet hurt just thinking about it.

More about our Chicago trip to come at a later date! Enjoy your hump day...I'm off to a baseball game! XO

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A List of Happy, Pt. 9.

one | Making week day lunch dates with Ryan.
two | Watching 'Fail Videos' with my roommate until we almost pee our pajama pants crying with laughter.
three | When my dog stretches his little legs on my chest first thing in the morning...and then proceeds to fall back asleep with me.
four | How the air turns thick and the sky turns a yellowish gray just before a summer storm unfolds.
five | Making a date with myself to watch a movie I've been wanting to see for a long time (Side note: Boyhood was so good.)
six | Finding time to write in my real journal again. Pen, paper and all.
seven | When my internal clock gets me out of bed by 9:30 a.m. every morning.
eight | Creating Excel spreadsheets of grad schools to apply to in the fall for next year. So crazy to even think about.
nine | Waking up every day feeling proud of my decision to quit my job and pursue a new dream. I'd be lying if I said I'm happy working weekends again, but it feels good knowing it's just a means to an end. One day, I'll be where I want to be, doing what I want to do. Until then? I'm enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Summer To-Do List.

What's that you say? We still have over a month until the summer season officially begins?

Ohhhh-ho-ho. You silly non-Floridian, you.

With temperatures hovering just around 88-96+ degrees, I think I'll go ahead and make the call that summer has begun in Florida. It's hot and it's humid and I can't walk outside for five seconds without having to change my shirt...and that doesn't even begin to describe the brutality that is Florida in the summer.

It's crazy to think that it's been almost a year since I posted last summer's to-do list. Only a few things were marked off the list last year, so I'm hoping to make actual plans to complete everything on my list this year.



one | Read 10 books. This is a lofty one for me, especially since I've hardly been completing my one-book-per-month New Years Resolution, but I've been getting back into the swing of things. I'm desperately trying to finish Wild, but next on my list is The Girl on the Train. Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

two | Float down a river. This was one of my un-checked items on my list from last year, but I will go to Rainbow River this year and sip on some dranks whilst lounging in a large tube.

three | Grill out by the pool with friends. I've hardly taken advantage of my apartment complex's beautiful outdoor grilling area since moving in and it's already almost time to move out. Homemade sangria and burgers on a warm summer night? Sign. Me. Up.

four | Tailgate an outdoor concert. Two of my best friends and I will be going to see The Fray and Train in June!

five | Complete a DIY project. Ryan and I have plans to move in together in September, so my hamster wheel is already turning thinking of ideas for our nonexistent new place. I'm thinking a blanket ladder.

six | Forgo the hair dryer. Because it's so hot outside, I literally have no desire to touch a heated hair tool if I don't absolutely have to. Plus the natural look is kind of in, right? Tell me I'm right.

seven | Try out at least three new cocktail recipes. Peach prosecco punch, pineapple margaritas and blackberry mojitos? My body is ready.

What's on your summer to-do list? Tell me what I left out!



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

6 No B.S. Tips for New College Graduates.

If your Instagram feed looks anything like mine, you've probably noticed that it's college graduation season. Earlier in the month, my TimeHop app was filled with "brb graduating" Facebook statuses and pictures and tweets from my college graduation two years ago. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago; in others, it feels like I could give you a play-by-play of those few hours like it was just this morning.

The reality of the situation didn't hit me for a few weeks or so. No electronic math homework to do? No papers in the works? I don't have a job post-graduation? Is that a thing? Am I supposed to have a job? What do I even want to do? 

To say I was overwhelmed would be the understatement of the year.

It's been all of two years since I graduated with my bachelor's degree. I've learned a lot about myself and a lot about the "real world" in that short amount of time, and below are a few words of advice from one college graduate to another:




First and foremost, take a breather. You just graduated!!! Bask in that accomplishment, because it's a big deal. Relax. Have a margarita or ten, beach yourself like a whale at the pool, plan a weeklong vacay. Take this time to not have to worry about a damn thing. Even if it's just for a day or two...you can do it, I promise.

Understand that you're not going to get your dream job/salary straight out of college. You very well might, but chances are, you won't. It's the sad, sad truth. And the truth hurts.

Having said that, don't settle for a job you don't want. Read job descriptions thoroughly. Listen to your gut feeling during interviews. Realize that it's okay to say, "thanks, but no thanks" to a position that just doesn't feel right for you. It'll save you a lot of pain in the long run.

Travel. Travel. Travel. Put your graduation money to good use! Now is the time to visit your friend that lives across the country, to book a two week tour across Europe with your sister, to take road trip with your S.O. What's that saying? Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer? Something like that. Yes. Just do it.

But also, save your money. Because one day, you might decide to quit your well-paying job to go back to school for something completely different...and you still have rent to pay and a dog to feed. It's nice to have a cushion. And that cushion feels a lot better than an overpriced designer bag (okay, no it doesn't).

Last thing? It's okay not to have your shit together. I kept serving tables for almost six months after graduation. Okay, technically I didn't have my college degree until three months after commencement (damn you, online class!), but still. I moved back in with my parents for almost a year. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. At the time, I wasn't planning on going back to school. Contrary to popular belief: that's normal, and it won't last forever.

To all you grads out there: congratulations! I can't wait to join you once again in a few years. Any other words of advice to freshly graduated college students? Leave them in the comments :)



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

California Adventures, Day 4: Malibu.


Ohhh, Malibu. When we were planning our trip to California, making the trek to this particular beach was at the top of my hit list of things to do. Thankfully, it was hardly an hour drive from where we were staying...and it's still considered Los Angeles. The massiveness of that city never ceases to blow my mind.



Did anyone else watch The O.C.? I couldn't help but think of Marissa Cooper when snapping pictures of this lifeguard tower. Oh, the teenage memories.


I parted ways with my sister and Kris in hopes to take some photos of the giant rocks (pictured below) about two miles down the beach. I live in Florida so let's get real here, the beach is no stranger to me. However...seeing mountains whilst on the beach? A completely different ball game. Pictures just don't do this view any justice.





While I was taking this picture, I was simultaneously talking on the phone with Ryan. I told him how pissed I was because "I thought I saw a whale, but it was just a surfer." Seconds later, I thought I saw a giant moving rock. I focused my vision only to see a real life WHALE. A humpback whale, to be exact. I think. I did some less than extensive research and that's what I came up with. We'll go with that.


This was by far one of the coolest parts of my trip! Growing up in Florida, I've seen my fair share of bottle-nosed dolphins, but I'd never seen a whale up close and personal like this. I got to follow this baby the entire walk back to Rose & Kris. It was fate! Meant to be, I tell you. He even said hello.




Shortly after the whale sighting, we hopped back into the car in search for fried seafood. We stumbled upon Paradise Cove, which I'd actually read about on Pinterest. It was expensive and touristy and kitschy, but the coconut shrimp was on point. And if the coconut shrimp is on point, you just can't really complain can you? 

If it were up to me, we would have kept trekking up to the Big Sur. Ah...one day. Needless to say, I absolutely fell in love with Malibu and its perfect beaches. By far one of my favorite adventures of my trip to California.

Any California natives out there? Did I miss out on anything? Do you see whales every day of your life? Because if so, I'm unbearably jealous. XO

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Quick update!


The travel bug bit me again, and if you follow me on Instagram (@sammellaaa), you probably know that I spent Friday through Monday in one of my favorite cities in the U.S.: Chicago!

The weekend was complete with tons of drinks, tons of food, and tons of new experiences. We stayed with one of my close friends, Annalise, and hit the ground running from the second we put our bags down. Actually, it feels like I've been "running" until this very moment. On my couch. Dead.

We were supposed to stay in the city until Tuesday, but Frontier Airlines did a great job messing up our flights in giving us a five hour layover in Denver. Instead, we decided to make the best out of a rough situation: we flew back to Denver a day early and spent the night in a new city! What started out as an inconvenience turned into one of our favorite parts of the trip. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

For now, I plan on sleeping until my (absolutely necessary) double at work tomorrow. As much as I absolutely love traveling, there's nothing better than coming home to my pup and my bed. XO


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