Monday, October 16, 2017

what i'm buying & what i'm not.

With our big (well, not that big) move approaching, I've been pinching pennies as best I can and saying no to a lot of things I would loooove to buy right now. I'm super nosy and love to know what my friends are scoping out and buying, so I thought a quick run down of all the things I'm not actually buying would be a fun twist of events to share:


Here's what I'm wishing for as of late:

The perfect pair of destroyed denim jeans. You know, the kind that "can be dressed up or down" with an oversized sweater or a date night top. Or just a pair that don't make my legs look like a couple of packaged sausages in photographs. Not too much to ask for, am I right?

A wine cooler. Do I need one? Probably not. But would I feel like a full fledged adult having copious amounts of chilled wine on hand? Yes. Reasoning? We just got a $20 off $100 worth of wine from Total Wine, and I immediately thought to myself, "but where would we keep $100 worth of wine?" A wine cooler, that's where!

Fall decor. Not just Target dollar section cheapies (though I do love those!) but autumn inspired throw pillows, wine glasses, welcome mats, serveware, vases, etc. The kinds of things that transform a home into a fall wonderland.

Fancy skincare. I'm all about splurging on the occasional facial product, but for the most part (on my grad school budget), I'm a drugstore skincare kinda girl. I bought this Skin Laundry wrinkle release repair treatment earlier in the year and I really like it, but I've heard great things about Tula and one of these days, I'd love to try out their Discovery Kit to see how I like the products.

While I haven't been splurging on the good bits listed above, I've found a few budget-friendly goodies I figured I'd share:

This round brush. My hairdresser/good friend uses it on my hair every time she gives me a blowout and it is just gloooorious. I just ordered it last night, so here's hoping I can work a similar sort of magic on my hair.

This phone case. Every other year, my Christmas gift from my parents is whatever new iPhone they rolled out back in September. My old Rifle Paper Co. 6s Plus case was finally falling apart at the seams after almost two years, but I thought I'd be getting a new phone in the next couple months so I didn't want to spend too much money on a new case. I scooped this one off Amazon and I love it. It has a good grip and comes in lots of pretty colors. I opted for the mint, but I was so close to getting the pink! (Side note: my dad decided to wait until next year to get new phones, so I could've splurged on another RPC case...ohhh weeellll).


What's your favorite purchase so far this month? What are you wishing for that you haven't quite pulled the trigger on yet?








Friday, October 6, 2017

what's new with you? - october linkup


Linking up with Gretchen and Kristen for their monthly linkup: What's New With You?

September was a whirlwind, and not the fast kind. In fact, it was a downright difficult month. Those 30 days dragged on for me, as it probably for much of Florida. Hurricane Irma put our lives on hold for two weeks while we all scrambled, preparing for the worst, and it took a little while to get back into the swing of things. Hurricanes aside, September marked the beginning of quite a few changes and realizations, and I'm so excited to be sharing them with you!

1-  As I mentioned last week, we're moving! Our new place is just about 20 minutes away from where we live now, right in the center of south Tampa. It's a smaller apartment in a historic 1920's era building - no pool, no gym, no amenities - so it'll definitely be a change, but I think it'll be so fun to be right in the middle of everything! Since the listing has been taken down, I don't have any photos of our exact unit, but our leasing agent sent over pictures of a very similar apartment, so I thought I'd share a teeeensy sneak preview:


Not the best quality picture, but you get the idea! Our walls are also beige/tan, not gray, so there's that. But this is the living room leading into the bedroom and can I just say how obsessed I am with the french doors? Okay, great.

2 - Before going to graduate school, I volunteered in the speech-language pathology department at one of the biggest hospitals in Tampa. Prior to volunteering in their outpatient rehab, I had no idea the kind of work that SLPs did with adults, from cognition and memory to voice and swallowing. Ever since, I knew I wanted to return to the hospital to complete one of my externships. Note: me and everybody else. It's a pretty competitive externship placement, so when I interviewed a couple of weeks ago (on 48 hour notice...), I mentally prepared myself for a "no." As it turns out...I got the position! I'll be completing my first externship at the hospital in the outpatient rehabilitation center beginning in January and I am absolutely thrilled. The SLP I'll be working with has a split schedule, so she sees adult and geriatric patients on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and pediatric patients on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm excited to get exposure to both populations! But with that, I should mention...

3 - The big question in SLP graduate school is: "do you want to work with kids or adults?" And for the longest time, my answer has been "I have no idea," because I truly haven't been sure! I love kids, but I'd never had that "calling" in the way so many of my friends and classmates do. Over the last year, I've discovered that I really do enjoy working with them. Having said all that, my aging & cognition class took a trip to a local assisted living facility for Alzheimer's Disease and dementia memory care...and I knew. Or at least I'm most certainly, about 98% positive, that I want my future career in speech-pathology to be mostly centered around the adult and geriatric population. And while that may not mean much to most of you, it's a big step for me to be able to say "hey, that's what I want to do." Does that make sense? It's kind of exciting, and I can't wait to see what's next after graduation.

What's new with you this month?


Monday, October 2, 2017

thoughts on las vegas

Image found here

I wanted to post about something else today - happy things that happened in September, my hopes for the coming months. I scheduled my alarm a little bit earlier so I could wake up and have some blog time, because that's how I like to spend my slow mornings.

But then I woke up and heard the news about Las Vegas, and everything else felt irrelevant.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

decisions: to move or not to move? and are we?


I don't like making decisions.

That's a strange thing to say, because we make all kinds of decisions every day - to wake up when our alarm goes off or to hit snooze seven times, to heat up canned soup for lunch or treat ourselves to the Whole Foods buffet which will inevitably end up being $14, to go to the gym or skip it altogether (fun fact: I'm not even good at making those kinds of decisions. Baby decisions. Nondecisions, if you will).

Last week's crippling decision: to move or not to move?

After calculating the astronomical amount of money we spend each month driving on toll roads from our little apartment in Brandon (just outside of Tampa), the decision was practically made for us: to move. And so our own little version of House Hunters began.

Keep in mind, I'd been browsing for months in anticipation of this moment. I knew our lease was up in November, I knew we weren't ready to buy a house just yet. I knew that I wanted to move closer to the heart of Tampa, a bit closer to the beach. I wanted Ryan to be closer to work for a shorter commute, and I didn't mind being further away from my university because I don't have to be on campus all that much anymore. I felt like our requirements were simple:

  • Reasonable rent (we were even willing to spend a bit more, if it meant less $$ spent on tolls)
  • Balcony for the pooches to lounge upon
  • More storage space
  • More square footage, if possible
  • Not in the middle of nowhere
  • Amenities out the wazoo (nothing we love more than a good apartment gym)
We made the decision to move on a Sunday. By Ryan's lunch break on Monday, we made our way to our first couple apartment visits in West Shore, Tampa's business-esque "district." Our options were limited - a few brand new apartment complexes just popped up over the past year, with 650 square feet 1 bedroom/1 bathroom setups starting at $1500. Unreal.

Samantha and Ryan are in the market to rent an apartment for just one more year before buying a house of their own. Currently residing in the outskirts of Tampa, Samantha wants something a little more pooch-friendly, with plenty of shady areas for walking and leading a more active lifestyle. Ryan simply wants to save money, and is open to "whatever makes the most sense" (good to know, since Samantha prefers to go with the least sensible option...). Together, they'll find that apartment hunting is actually the worst. Is their wishlist too much for their itty bitty budget to handle? Probably, but let's watch anyway.

Option #1



We managed to find a beautiful complex, complete with a resistance pool (um, what), state of the art gym, and two pools, all within our price range (even less than what we were expecting). 

Pros: Um, hello crazy beautiful amenities. Five minute drive to Ryan's job, easy access to the highway, balcony (even though it was tiny AF). 

Cons: The apartment was a 640 square foot "studio/1 bedroom," - in other words, the bedroom actually just had an incomplete wall that didn't meet the ceiling. That's a tough situation when you consider that I'm a student and sometimes I have late nights studying - my desk lamp light would pour right over the wall and into the bedroom while Ryan tries to sleep. 

Additionally, the kitchen felt more like a kitchenette that you'd find at a cutesy boutique hotel, and it all just felt so sterile. While it was in a decent spot (and right across the street from a major mall & restaurants), it wasn't in a great neighborhood. And all of the hallways were inside with access via key only, and just a few areas to take the dogs out. Dependent upon where our potential apartment would be located, it could've been a five minute ordeal just to get outside for them to do their business. Not an opportune situation, if you ask me. 

Decision: PASS

Option #2



Sticking to the West Shore area, we hopped a bit further down the road to the next complex. I got a much better vibe here, from the staff to the apartment itself. We toured a 1/1 (a real 1/1, not a studio) that was complete with laminate wood flooring, a large kitchen, two closets, and a big bedroom.  

Pros: It was about 150 square feet larger than the last one. The hallways were still inside with a 3-5 minute commute to just get outside, but it was closer to ritzy neighborhoods (read: pretty streets lined with lots of trees) so I was feeling better about taking the dogs out. The gym was gorg, great pool, fire pit, etc. I was feeling good, feeling great. Plus: a bigger balcony than the last place.

Cons: The problem here? Price. While we'd be saving on tolls, rent was going to be nearly $200 more than what we currently pay, before pet rent (because a $500 nonrefundable fee isn't enough). We loved the setup and all the extra storage space, but we simply couldn't justify paying that much more when it was still in just an okay area.

Decision: PASS.


At this point, we were way past Ryan's lunch break, so it was time to stop for the day. Discouraged and deflated, we stood in line at Chipotle for an additional 20 minutes because #worthit. Even after just two viewings, I was ready to throw in the towel and to just accept that it wasn't going to happen as quickly as I wanted it to. If you


Option #3

(This is the street view - couldn't show you the inside because someone was still living there!)

Ryan had a lot going on Wednesday morning, so I trekked off to the viewing by myself (YIKES).

Pros: I parked across the street, as I wasn't aware of the giant parking lot behind the building (win #1 - south Tampa/Hyde Park street parking is the worst). The building dates back to the 1920s, so it was a safe bet to say it would be entirely different than what we'd seen in the last couple of brand new, luxury complexes. Upon entering, that was certainly confirmed: we're talking hardwood flooring (like the real stuff but with a laminate over the top), baseboard and crown molding, and double french doors opening into the bedroom. A tiny hallway led to the bathroom on the righthand side, and dead-ended into the kitchen, complete with granite countertops and white cabinets.

The cons: Storage space was relatively very limited with one large closet (plus a smaller one containing the stackable washer and dryer - win #2, as a lot of apartments in the area have a shared W/D or "connections"). And it was still a smaller space, coming in at 650 square feet (whoops, didn't realize that right away). And there was no balcony. Sigh. But it's so cute! And it has so much character! And I can walk to Bayshore Boulevard and take the dogs on long walks through the neighborhood and I can walk to work, to Green Lemon, to Hyde Park Village, to all the bars, TO ALL THE THINGS. In a nutshell - plenty of walking to be done.

After texting Ryan pictures, I told him that while storage space is limited, maybe we could make it work.

R- Is there a closet?
S- About the size of ours.
R- No pantry.
S- We could get something to act as one.
R- 1st or 2nd floor.
S- 2nd.
R- Cool. Parking sitch? Central air?
S- Lots of parking, central air in each unit.
R- Dope. Let's apply.

Decision: Made. LET'S DO THIS.

(Update: application approved, lease signed, baddabing!)

Was this decision impulsive? Perhaps. Was it out of our comfort zone? Entirely. But I think that now is the time to make both of those types of decisions, while we're young and on our own and still renting. And it's just one year. One year of a tiny closet, one year of living a downsized life. One year of living right in the center of one of the cutest parts of Tampa, in the center of Gasparilla madness on January 27th, walking distance from 293848 shops and restaurants and bars. I'm nervous AF but so excited!

What's the last thing you did that was completely out of your comfort zone? The last impulsive decision you made that ended up being totally worth it?













Tuesday, September 12, 2017

my hurricane irma experience.

Tuesday

When we first caught wind of catastrophic Category 5 Hurricane Irma sweeping across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean, and making her way up to Florida. My externship was unexpectedly cancelled for the day, so I decided to trek into Publix for regular groceries + "just in case" nonperishables. It was hardly 10 a.m., and all regular water bottles & jugs of water were gone. Drove to Costco next (big mistake - should have made this trip first). A line of 30+ cars were backed up over just to get into the parking lot, 10+ cars per gas line, etc. Solution? I parked across the street, managed to find an abandoned cart, picked up some wine & more nonperishable items...then proceeded to stand in a line to get into the real line for 45 minutes.

...and that was when it was projected to go up the east coast of Florida (I'm in Tampa, on the state's west coast). We weren't even in the predetermined path, and it felt like we were preparing for the apocalypse.

Wednesday & Thursday

Hoopla all around. A solid 50/50 combination of, "Are you evacuating? Are you evacuating? What flood zone are you in? I'm leaving first thing tomorrow, I'm boarding up my windows, I'm freaking out" and "How long have you lived in Florida? We know how to survive a hurricane. We'll be fine. Quit worrying."

Ryan did another nonperishable food run, and brought home 10 different kinds of soups.

Me: "babe, if we're without power, how are we going to eat soup?"
Ryan: "Sam, this isn't Bougie-R-Us. If we're without power long enough, we'll be eating cold soup."
Me: "..."

Friday

I worked lunch, which is normally crazy busy. Instead, the restaurant was a ghost town. We stood around for most of the day - conversations still a jumble of "I'm evacuating tonight!" and "C'MON, it's only going to be a Category 2 by the time it gets here, we're having a hurricane party!" 

...until later in the afternoon, when we caught wind (ha...puns) that the storm track changed, and she was heading straight up the west coast, beginning with Key West as a projected Category 5, with plans to plummet through Tampa Bay as a Category 3 or 4. Suddenly, the mood took a real turn. Everyone was hypersensitive, people were calling out of work left and right to make last minute evacuations. I had a pit in my stomach for the rest of the evening as we were met with a sobering feeling that this storm could change everything about the city we love.

Saturday 

Ryan and I spent the morning cleaning the entire apartment. We figured that if we were stranded without power for days on end, we may as well have dusted shelves and an organized pantry. My good friend, Lauren, who was in flood zone A (aka a mandatory evacuation area) took refuge in our apartment for the weekend, and showed up with Oreos, bagels, and even more wine.

We made one last trip "out," and it was a ghost town. By 3 p.m., all the Targets in the area closed, so you can imagine my panic was starting to set in real quick. Everything was closed. Most weekends, I like to stay in, watch movies at home, and avoid spending money. But I always have the option to go out, to pick up a shift at work, to have an impromptu date night. Never have I ever wanted to go out and do something more than when I didn't have that option.

Cue endless games of Joking Hazard, getting Lauren hooked on The Mick, and Ryan heating up three frozen pizzas while we guzzled back wine and called it a night before "the big day," aka when Irma was scheduled to hit.

Sunday

Irma moves swiftly through Key West, devastating everything in her path. Downtown Miami suffered from horrendous flooding. We stayed glued to our Snapchat maps for video updates, kept the news on, and waited. Ryan has family in both Naples & Fort Myers, so we kept in contact with them while they still had power.

We made the best of the waiting game and made egg scrambles & drank mimosas. Pro-Hurricane tip: buy more than one bottle of champagne. Tip #2: always add peach schnapps to your mimosa because it makes it so much better.

Ryan took it upon himself to set the apartment to 68 degrees in case we lost power, so the apartment would stay cooler longer. It was quite the sight to see the three of us bundled up in long pants, fuzzy socks, and sweaters when it was still 80 degrees outside. Two mimosas later, Lauren and I fell asleep on the couch for two hours because #lightweights.

We started getting wind gusts around 7 p.m. with sideways rain. I'll cut to the chase here - we were very fortunate, and did not take a direct hit the way we anticipated. Due to her prolonged amount of time on land, Irma had weakened to a Category 2 storm by the time she reached us, and moved a bit to the east toward the center of the state. We only lost power for about three seconds, and haven't lost it again since. We stayed up until around 2 a.m. watching movies (Get A Job & American Beauty), drinking even more wine, and watching the trees thrash around in the wind.

The extent of the damage to our complex and area in general was minimal. The gusts brought down a few trees in our complex and overflowed the lake across the grass and into the pool (talk about "lagoon-like"). My parents and many of my friends have not been so lucky - as of 9 p.m. last night, my parents are still without power. It was a bad storm, but it could have been so much worse for us all.

In conclusion:

To say we've all been in some kind of suspended state of living is an understatement. This week feels like a blur. My university is closed until Thursday, so my Monday & Tuesday classes were cancelled. I have no idea when I'll start my externship back up. Even our apartment complex gym is closed until further notice. Despite the fact that I've had the last week off from virtually every responsibility, I haven't been relaxed. I didn't get much homework done, I didn't make a dent in my new library book, I certainly didn't eat very well. I haven't even worn makeup in three days (okay, that's been kind of great).

Needless to say, I am so ready to get back into a regular life and routine. I'm ready to get ahead on schoolwork, to get back in the gym, to make plans with friends and have date nights, to put this entire hurricane fiasco behind us. Again, we are so fortunate to have experienced as little damage as we did. My heart is with those in my state who were not as lucky. This storm was not one to mess around with, and I am so thankful that she finally passed us. 

Note to the government: maybe let me know about a potential direct Hurricane hit, like, two days beforehand. This whole week of waiting + anxiety? Yeah, never want to do that again.





Friday, September 8, 2017

what i read in august.

Last month, I finally got a three week summer vacation between semesters. I spent most of that break traveling in Europe, so binge watching Game of Thrones (I just started season one!) wasn't really an option for me. Instead, I spent a whole lot of travel time reading on my new Kindle Paper White. Like many avid readers, I much prefer the feel of turning actual pages to simply swiping on an electronic screen, but let me just say that my little Kindle was a life saver on my trip.

In the summertime, I like to keep my reads light and easy. Books like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train are my favorite, but sometimes I need a mental break from dark and twisted mystery types. Ya feel me? 

PS: For future book review posts, I'll probably try to sum up the plot on my own...but my mind has been in such a whirlwind, I feel like I'd miss out on details if I tried to whip them up for you over a month later. Sorry for the lengthy summaries!
PPS: Note that this post does contain Amazon Affiliate links!


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty ($11.24 on Amazon)


Summary (via Goodreads): Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars
How I Felt About It: I had high expectations for this book, and I think that put me in an awkward position reading it. I loved Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret, and because this was the first Liane Moriarty book I've read following those two twisted storylines, I was slightly disappointed because this plot and its characters didn't captivate me in the same way. Having said all that, I think that if I went into this book with a different mentality, I would've enjoyed it more. Still written very well, and still worth the read (especially if you're a Liane fan). 

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover ($8.99 for Kindle on Amazon)

Summary (via Goodreads): Lily hasn't always had it easy, but that's never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She's come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up - she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily's life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He's also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle's complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan - her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars
How I Felt About It: This book was a whirlwind, and when it took an unexpected turn it did, I couldn't believe I didn't catch on to it before. The summary says it all - everything seems "almost too good to be true." Like most things in life, if you think something is too good to be true, it probably is. I felt like a lot of the events played out very rapidly over 367 pages, but I think the author did a fantastic job of wrapping it all up in the end. Overall, I loved her style of writing, and I couldn't put this book down!

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty ($6.99 for Kindle on Amazon)

Summary (via Goodreads): Lyn, Cat, and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old triplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Whenever they're together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow. But apart, each is very much her own woman, dealing with her own share of ups and downs. Lyn has organized her life into one big checklist, juggling the many balls of work, marriage, and motherhood with expert precision, but is she as together as her datebook would have her seem? Cat has just learned a startling secret about her marriage -- can she bring another life into her very precarious world? And can free-spirited Gemma, who bolts every time a relationship hits the six-month mark, ever hope to find lasting love?
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 stars
How I Felt About It: This is actually Liane Moriarty's first ever published book! I have recently become a big fan of hers, so I felt obligated to read her debut novel. As per most of her books, the POV jumped between each sister, along with a little quip at the end of each chapter from bystanders observing the triplets from afar at different points of their lives. While it was no The Husband's Secret, I enjoyed the story, and it was a cheap thrill for just $7. My biggest gripe about it: random italicizations. I don't know if it was an editing mistake or what - you could tell that just one word was meant to be italicized, but then the rest of the sentence + end quotations, etc. would be italicized, too. Had nothing to do with the quality of the story of course but wowza, it drove me nuts.


Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella ($7.99 for Kindle on Amazon)


Summary (via Goodreads): An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 stars
How I Felt About It: While I had heard great things about this book, I felt a little "meh" about it. I felt like I kept waiting for something big to happen, or to at least find out what happened to Audrey. I found the book spent a little too much time focusing on her brother, whose storyline I didn't really care for. I normally love Sophia Kinsella, so I think I was expecting this to be more along the lines of Shopaholic...alas, it was not. However, it was a decently enjoyable book - heart warming, a bit funny at times, a good light read.


Wonder by R. J. Polacio ($9.99 for Kindle on Amazon)

Summary (via Goodreads): August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
How I Felt About It: I ADORED THIS BOOK. Although it's intended for a much younger audience, I think it contains a lesson that we could all be bashed over the head with every once in awhile: to always, always, always be kind. While the story is primarily told from Auggie's POV, it jumps around a bit to nearly everyone involved in the story, which I really liked. I laughed. I cried (quite a bit). I'd recommend it to anyone, as it really is such a heartwarming story.


Have you read any of these books? What did you read last month?




Thursday, September 7, 2017

linkup : what's new with you?

This is my first time linking up with Gretch Runs & See You In A Porridge for their monthly linkup: What's New With You?

Travel

As many of you know, August was a big month of traveling for me. I went to visit my sister who lives in Bulgaria, and spent about two weeks road tripping across the country. We even made it to northern Greece for a couple of days!

I know your next question - why does she live in Bulgaria? I totally get it - when you think of somebody moving abroad to Europe, you think England, Ireland, Germany, etc. Long story short - my brother-in-law is from Bulgaria, and a few years back, his grandmother wasn't doing so well. He asked his job if he could work remotely, and baddabing! My sister has always been a bit of a gypsy, so moving there was an adventure that she was more than happy to take on. She absolutely loves it. They've lived there since 2013, and although she'll tell you differently, she is very fluent in Bulgarian. Pretty cool, if you ask me!

I plan to do a couple of posts about my trip in the next month, if anyone would be interested to read about it.






School

Again, like many of you know, I'm in graduate school for speech-language pathology (just started my second and final year, woop woop!). I just began my first externship a couple of weeks ago, and I'm working with children for my third semester in a row!

I'm at the point where I still don't know if I'd like to work with kids or adults when I graduate and begin my career, but I'm hoping that once I'm placed into my adult externship next semester, I'll have a better idea. Prior to getting very involved in the field + major, I had no clue that SLPs can also work to improve communication and swallowing in adults who have dementia, or have suffered from a stroke or traumatic brain injury. I observed these types of patients at a hospital during my post-bacc classes, and I'm still very much interested in this population, so we'll see how it goes! In the meantime, I'm loving getting to play with kiddos every day. I'm slammed busy most days, but it's so worth it.



Life in general

Our apartment lease is up in November, so we're between a rock and a hard place about where to live next. Ideally, we wanted to wait until I'm done with grad school to buy a house. However, we've been looking into the Florida First Time Homebuyer grant program, as it might be "going away" sooner rather than later. If we qualify for that, we might be cracking open a whole new can of worms! But it's still way too soon to tell.

Coffee Mate Natural Bliss is my go-to creamer, and I finally tried out their salted caramel flavor. I was about to complain about their lack of fall festive flavors until I went to link it AND Y'ALL THEY HAVE PUMPKIN SPICE, BYEEEEEEEE. 

(PS: these shorts from Aerie are comfy AF - keep them bookmarked because they always have great sales. I just got them for $12 last week. YOU NEED THEM) (PPS: mug is from Target, duh).


Also, for those of you who don't know, I live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, so it's safe to say that we've all been in a real panic about Hurricane Irma. I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty jaded when it comes to hurricanes, because in my lifetime, Tampa has yet to get a direct hit. Even now, it's looking like it'll be heading up and along the east coast. Having said all that, Irma's diameter is literally the size of Florida, so I think we'll be getting a little sumsum no matter what. I know Key West is under a mandatory evacuation, and the rest of Florida is under a state of emergency. 

I braved Costco on Tuesday and waited in line for 45 minutes for just a few nonperishables and wine. Everywhere is out of bottled water (and gasoline), but shoutout to my boyfriend for having bought two large cases months ago "just in case we get a hurricane or something." What a guy. Anyway - we are all set to hunker down for the rest of the weekend until this thing figures itself out. I've been glued to the news, updates, etc. and my heart is just breaking for everyone in Irma's direct path. 

On that positive and uplifting note (not), what's been new with you this month?








Tuesday, September 5, 2017

what i want from september.

Labor Day Weekend has already come and gone, but I have a feeling that summer is here to stay for awhile. Despite the fall and Halloween dedicated aisles I observed in Target and Michael's this weekend, I've hardly had a spare moment to take in all the hoopla the way I normally do this time of year. Having said that, we're easing into one of my favorite parts of the year, so I'm making an effort to slow down this month and make time for the big things, the small things, and myself.


In September, I want to...

Say "no." 

My plate is super full right now, so between school work + externship + regular work + social engagements & obligations, I've hardly had a second to just sit and catch up with myself. It's easy to fall into the trap of "I'm so busy, so if I have a free afternoon, I must fill it with XYZ." Instead, I plan to start saying, "I'm so busy, so if I have a free afternoon, I'm going to keep it free." I also plan to not feel guilty about it.

Buy pumpkin creamer, festive flavored coffee, and apple cider.

Because nothing makes me feel more fall festive than pumpkin everything. And even if fall can't really happen in Florida, at least my coffee will transport me some place with colored leaves and crisp air...right? Don't even get me started on apple cider. One sip and suddenly I'm in a wood cabin in the mountains with a crackling fire and flannel blankets. Okay, not really. But really.

Get back on the "health train."

Between my two week trip to Europe, the start of a crazy semester, and attending a bachelorette party, it's safe to say that I have been way out of my usual(ish) go-to-the-gym-and-eat-all-the-healthy-things routine. This month, I intend to plan out my workouts, meal prep for externship days, and cut back on social drinking to just a glass of wine or two on the weekends. As busy as I've been, I know that making time to improve my health is so important, so I need to get back to doing just that.

Embrace every last bit of summer.

Sip sangria on the porch, dip my toes in the gulf while it's still warm, read a book by the pool, survive a hurricane (hey Irma, slow your roll, will ya?). I love September and everything that comes with it, but I'm not entirely sure that I'm ready to say goodbye to summertime just yet. 

What do you want to do this month?













Wednesday, August 30, 2017

mid-week rambles.


- Like many, my heart is breaking for the people (and animals) of Houston as they suffer from the effects of Hurricane Harvey. While there isn't a whole lot I can do from Florida, I decided that I wanted to skip a lunch out this week and donate what I could afford to a meaningful cause. There are so many different ways you can help, and if you're not sure where to start, this article really helped me decide exactly where I'd like to donate.
- I'm one week into my last year of my grad program and it already feels like it's been a month. Last minute, I was placed into a private practice setting for my advanced clinical practicum. In other words, I'm actually working off campus in a clinic that isn't affiliated with the university when I was supposed to be at the campus clinic for one more semester. In other other words, I have a bonus externship - WOO! I'm already learning so much and I'm so thankful...but I am also super overwhelmed and desperately trying to find a balance. Currently feeling thankful AF for planners, to-do lists, and a patient boyfriend because I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be a busy couple of months for me.
- Taylor Swift forever. I will admit I had to listen to Look What You Made Me Do a couple of times before I was hooked/on board. Now? I know every word. If you're an active listener of Taylor, you've probably noticed her slow transition into pop music since the Red album. After 1989, I was down for full-on pop Taylor, so her new song really didn't surprise me the way it did for a lot of people. I am so ready for Reputation
- Margaritas over everything. After my friend's bachelorette party this weekend, I'll be trying to cut back on my favorite sugary alcoholic drink for a month or two. As much as I love tequila, I'm not so sure it loves me back. You know what that's like. But sometimes you just need one (or two), and sometimes said margaritas need to be the size of your face. After the launch into the semester I had last week, you beeest believe I started my Friday night with a classic marg + trio dip + lettuce tacos (because...balance? sure).


What's on your mind this week? 






Tuesday, August 22, 2017

on blogging | finding a new direction


As of late, I've had a little bit of difficulty with this space - my little corner of the internet. I've had a bit of difficulty with myself as a blogger, period. I don't know my direction anymore, if I even have one at all (or if I ever have...ha!).

When I started this blog in 2014, I was working my first job out of college...a job I once loved that I'd grown to not love. I quickly became obsessed with the blogging world - I discovered BlogLovin', started following my favorite bloggers on Instagram, and thought of a million post ideas a day. I was so inspired by the hundreds of former cubicle dweller turned full-time blogger; I wanted to learn everything I could about it so I could become one, too. I was brand new to it all, and the world felt like my oyster.

So I started writing about my life - little ramblings, personal updates, plans for the upcoming holiday season, opinions, etc. And I wrote all the time. I loved it! In 2014 and 2015, I had upwards of 90 posts per year (as compared to my 43 posts to date in 2017). I never got comments, I rarely ever used quality photos, and there still wasn't a whole lot of planning that went into my content, but I loved doing it...until I started reading posts about "how to monetize your blog! and grow your following! and get 32948 repins!" and I figured out that, as much as I loved writing alllll about my life in my little blog, it wasn't going to grow the way I wanted it to if I didn't start cranking out informational, Pinterest-pinning ready posts. So that's what I started to do, and somehow between now and then, I managed to get a few more readers, a better following on Instagram, and more comments.

But even doing that, three plus years later, I still hardly have much of a following at all. There's no rhyme or rhythm to my content or post consistency. I'm not all that great at "branding myself." I don't even have a Facebook page for my blog because I get so nervous about people I know in real life judging my every word and move (I know I need to get way past that...meep). I guess that, to this day, I still don't feel like what I write here, what I post on Instagram, how I try to portray myself as a writer in general is legitimate enough to promote...and I feel like a bit of a "blog failure" because of it. And I know, I know, that's all on me.

BUT.

Anyway. 

I'm rambling myself into a rabbit hole here - back to my direction (or lack thereof). I suppose I feel like I run into a few problems with this one. Even after all this time, I'm having trouble finding my "niche":

I love fashion bloggers, but I don't consider myself one. Primarily because I'm lucky if I can coordinate shorts and a tank top with a pair of sandals that don't make my legs look like pork sausages. That, and I don't have much of a disposable income for new clothing right now. That, and I am so lazy about taking good blogger photos that aren't glasses of wine with a pretty background. Props to all my blogger pals who style cutie outfits, pick a destination, and shoot looks because you are far more ambitious souls than I.

I'm in graduate school, but I don't consider myself to be a college blogger. While I still love and follow so many college bloggers, I fall into a much different role than most of them. For some reason, even at 26, I love reading about "must-haves" for your first college dorm - but it doesn't really make sense for me to write those kinds of things.

...and while we're on that topic, I don't think the blogger world needs one more list about how to become a morning person. Or, at the very least, no one needs to hear about that from me (everyone else can keep those coming, though - maybe one day I'll catch on).

As I mentioned, I'm not super consistent with my content, which is actually the number one rule of blogging: be consistent. Because there's small part of me, a tiny voice inside my head, that screams at me every time I publish a post, "what's the point? does anyone really care what you have to say? not so much, dude." So sometimes I just don't write. If I think it's something other people wouldn't want to read, I throw it out. And that's the last thing that blogging should be about. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's rule number two of blogging: blog for yourself. And if I'm blogging for myself, I want to look back and remember moments, feelings, personal events, small victories, big triumphs, powering through frustrations. I want to look back on these posts and be able to live vicariously through my past self. That's what I want from this blog...even if that doesn't get me sponsorships or 100 new readers a week.

Because at the end of the day, I love writing. I just think that what I'm finally realizing and owning up to is what I don't love writing about. I don't love writing about how you can "become a better person if you just do XYZ." I don't love writing about my favorite new cardigan or what I bought from the Nordstrom anniversary sale (no hate, though - I love reading those posts! I'm just not a fan of writing them myself). I love writing pieces that people can connect with - stories, little bits about daily living, etc. Does that make sense? Am I still rambling at this point?

From the beginning, I've been pretty honest with you guys, so I wanted to give a heads up as to where my mind has been lately, so here it is. Maybe my "direction" is just a new direction. Things might change around here a little bit...or they might not. Maybe my content won't be all that different at all. Maybe I'll just finally be okay with being a person who has a blog vs. being a full-time blogger (for now anyway...ha).


Has anyone else ever felt this way about blogging before? Am I a crazy person? Does this make any sort of sense at all? Asking for a friend.








Friday, August 18, 2017

On My Heart This Week | Charlottesville.


Guys, I know you're trying to stay caught up with your friends' babies and funny puppy videos, and everyone is invading your social feeds with opinions about this past weekend's events in Charlottesville. But I'm not here to talk politics, because truthfully, I don't believe this to be a political issue at all: I'm here to talk about right and wrong. I'm going to be so honest here and I truly mean it with the utmost respect: if you aren't deeply disturbed by the events that took place in Charlottesville this weekend, you aren't paying attention. 

If you haven't yet, I urge you to watch Monday's episode of HBO's Vice. It's difficult to watch, but so necessary. My jaw dropped. I cried. Then Ryan watched it and forced me into a hug at the end of the episode.

"Jews will not replace us."

"This city is run by Jewish communists and criminal n*****s!"

"We're not nonviolent. We'll fucking kill these people if we have to."

"Fuck you f*****s!"

Actual quotes from white supremacists. Horrific, isn't it?

Guys, that's me they're talking about. I was born to a Jewish father. I have Jewish family. I have a Bulgarian brother-in-law. I have black friends and a black "uncle." I have gay friends. And if it were up to these disgusting individuals, we'd all be exterminated. Literally. 

What did you think about when you first learned about the Holocaust? The Warsaw Ghetto? Auschwitz? That it could never happen again? That we wouldn't allow it? That someone, somewhere would speak up, do something, anything?

I saw a great quote on my friend Chelsea's blog this past week: "If you are wondering how you would've acted during Nazi Germany or during the Civil Rights Movement, look at how you're acting now." It's so true. It's easy to think that we've evolved as a society, as a country, as humans. But if this weekend proves anything, it's the exact opposite.


So speak up, friends. Say it's not okay. Call it what it is. Say it in your out loud voice to the people you care about, to people you don't know, to people who need to hear it. This kind of deep-rooted hatred is unacceptable. And know that if I get "too political" for your liking on Twitter or on my blog, it's because I'm actually terrified. Because it affects me. Because it affects people I love. 

It's bigger than Trump versus Hillary, Republican versus Democrat, conservatives versus liberals. Above all else, this is about human life. Be a spokesperson for love and acceptance. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Simple Moments | July 2017

I know we're nearly halfway through August already (um, what) but I've been on vacation, so please excuse my lateness!

1 - We were house sitting at my parents for the first two weeks of July, so we threw a little Independence Day gathering. I made my first fruit pizza, sipped on Tito's & grapefruit, and indulged in both a cheeseburger and a hot dog because #YOLO, right?


2 - One of my best friends, Sable, took me out to a late birthday brunch at my new favorite Clearwater breakfast spot Wildflower Cafe (you can read my friend Kahla's post allll about this adorable spot here!). We ate mini waffles and omelettes, drank mimosas, and talked about her upcoming wedding, my graduate school journey, and everything between.


3 - Shortly after 4th of July, I fell sick, and decided to take advantage of my mom's garden tub. About an hour before hopping into the bath, Ryan went off to the gym and I thought to myself, "I would loooove some pho right now...maybe I'll text Ryan. Eh, we have food here. I won't make him go out of his way." Friends - relationship telepathy must be a thing, because as soon as I settled into the tub, Ryan shot me a text: "hey babe, how about some spicy pho since you're not feeling well? text me where i should pick it up." I didn't think I could love that man anymore, and yet.


4 - A date night at Russo's Pizzeria...where I actually put on a full face of makeup and did something to my hair and looked like a real person. Whereas Ryan...he just woke up like that. Sigh.


5 - Sasha getting handsy at Dog Bar on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. We normally turn into pumpkins by about 4 p.m. on Sundays, so it was fun getting to check out a new bar in St. Pete with friends (both furry and human-esque).


6 - A brief 20 minutes of relaxation toward the end of the semester with a new book, a cup of coffee, and a nosy pooch.


7 - Our first trip to Zoe's Kitchen. I got the cauliflower rice bowl which was okay, but I don't think I'd get it again. Next time I think I'll try their power grain or mediterranean salad trio bowl...if you're an active Zoe goer, let me know what you recommend!


8 - Sipping Coronas and margs out of inflatable flamingos was the perfect way to end the first year of graduate school with some of my fabulous friends. Not pictured: the large pizza & garlic knots we ate later while watching To The Bone, a movie about eating disorders. Irony at its finest.


9 - A quiet moment just before the sun went down during my nine hour flight over to Europe...where I had the entire row of seats to myself. What. A. Life.


What were some of your favorite simple moments in July?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Advice for your First Year of Speech-Language Pathology Graduate School.

Note: This post is for my fellow or future SLP graduate students! Non-SLP following - you're more than welcome to read on, but if you're not interested, come back later in the week for more travel/personal bits :)

I can't believe my first year of speech-language pathology grad school has already come and gone. I start my second (and final!) year in just a couple of weeks, so I wanted to share a few bits of advice I've gathered from my experience as a first year speech-language pathology student for anyone who's about to start their program this month, or anyone applying in the future! I hope you find this at least a tiny bit helpful as you begin your journey! I certainly don't know it all (I don't think I even know half of it all), but after reflecting on the last year, I've found these to be true:



No amount of observation will prepare you for treating your own clients. Going in, I knew that I had no real idea what I was doing, but I didn't realize how true that actually was...ha! Every client is different, and finding what works while making sure it's an evidence based practice plus making it entertaining for your client (especially the kiddos) can feel especially daunting. But you will learn. Some days you'll want to cry, but you'll always learn!

Staying humble is key. It's no secret that these programs are tough to get into, so it's safe to say that you are one smart cookie! But as a student, or even as a seasoned SLP, you don't know everything (duh!). It doesn't matter how many textbooks you've read, how high your undergrad GPA was, or how many hours of observation you've logged (read above!). Be respectful of your supervisors, keep an open mind to your classmates' ideas, and always be kind. Remember that your supervisors and professors have years of experience with what works and what doesn't and you get to piggy back off that experience...pretty cool, if you ask me! Having said that, never be afraid to ask "why," or to ask if you can try something new.

Finding "your people" (or your person) in the program is so important. From clinical triumphs to formulating appropriate goals, complaining about a tough session or simply wanting to talk about your future profession - there are certain things that your classmates will just understand better than your parents, non-SLP friends, or significant other. These programs are tough, and you'll need someone to bounce ideas off of, to study with, to grow with. You're all in grad school now, so the competition is out the window (heads up - there will still be some people who are competitive AF...I say either kill them with kindness, or ignore them altogether).

Time management time management time management. In some ways, graduate school is a bit easier than undergrad. I can't put my finger on why that is exactly...maybe because getting into grad school is so difficult in itself that once you're actually there, all you have to do is survive. However, it requires a lot of time management. Unlike undergrad, you have to be readily available at any point for a meeting with your clinic group, your supervisor, or a team project. Add in your individual client, making treatment plans and writing SOAPs plus homework (and you know, existing as a human outside of grad school), and you can get overwhelmed real quick. Keeping a planner is important, as is being flexible...like, real flexible.

Understanding what you're learning and actually being able to apply it as a clinician is far more important than getting an A. I know, I know. We want all the A's! But remember that when you're interviewing in the future, they're not going to ask you about your 4.0 GPA - they'll be more concerned with your clinical experiences.

But it's also okay to not be interested in every single thing you're learning. As an SLP, you can wear a ton of different hats over the course of your career, but you probably won't be wearing them all at the same time. So don't feel guilty if learning about swallowing disorders and feeding tubes doesn't appeal to you. You'll find your niche!

You don't have to devote all of your time, energy, and mental space to school. 
And you shouldn't. Study hard, but make time for fun things and don't feel guilty about it.

Most importantly? Enjoy this time. Even when it sucks (because it will). Your classmates will become some of your best friends - take advantage of getting to see them every single day because you'll miss it when it's gone (AKA like I will be when we're all at different externships & in different classes this semester). 

If you're currently in a program or a seasoned SLP, any tips for incoming first years? Or if you're a graduate student for a different kind of program, what's the best piece of advice you could give, or that you've received? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Europe Update | What I've Been Doing & What I Haven't.


I'm halfway through my two week European adventure, and I think I have finally caught up on the time change. Up until about two nights ago, I was staying up until four in the morning every night and sleeping until noon - AKA 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. my time. Ha! I don't even keep that kind of sleep schedule back home (although maybe my Europe-self is on to something here).

For many reasons, it's safe to say that my life in Europe is definitely different than my life back in the states (obviously!). Out here, I've been doing a lot of:
  • Drinking wine. Haven't been able to find margaritas in the places we've been so far. One night I was given a glass of sauv blanc with chopped bits of raspberries and strawberries (at a bar!) and it's all I've been wanting to drink ever since. 
  • Reading. Finished What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty. Started & finished Wonder by RJ Palacio and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Now I'm onto Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I've definitely been in the mood for light & easy summer reading, and I'm absolutely loving my Kindle Paper White, especially for a trip like this.
  • Eating salad. Shopska is a super popular, traditional salad here in Bulgaria - made with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and parsley, topped with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sirene cheese (very similar to feta). I've been eating it with every lunch and evening meal and I have yet to get sick of it.
  • Going to the beach. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll notice that most of my pictures have been at the beach. We spent a couple days in northern Greece in a small beach town just south of Kavala on the Agean Sea, followed by three days along the southern seaside bits of Bulgaria on the Black Sea. I didn't anticipate a beach vacation but I have been loving every second of it.
  • Spending time with my sister (obviously). Since she lives in Europe, I only get to see her about once a year, so I love getting to spend one-on-one time with her out here!
I haven't been doing a whole lot of:
  • Straightening my hair (or doing anything with it at all).  brought my hair straightener, but it doesn't plug into the European converter my sister had, so it's been safely tucked away in my suitcase for the last week. 
  • Wearing makeup. I have yet to see a full face of makeup on anyone here, so I haven't been wearing much of mine either. A bit of foundation for sunscreen purposes, bronzer so I don't look like a ghost, and a swipe of mascara has been my go-to routine and it's been wonderful.
  • Mindless scrolling. I'm not doing a "roaming" plan out here, so I have to be connected to Wifi for my phone to work. So when I find it, I upload a quick picture to Instagram and give Ryan a call. Not a whole lot of time to check social media the way I normally do, and it's been great to disconnect a bit more than usual.


It's hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks, I'll be back in school mode! Trying to "summer it up" out here as best I can until then. What have you been doing to celebrate summer?







Friday, July 28, 2017

Life Update | Bye, Bye USA! (For Two Weeks).


My summer semester is over and I am officially halfway done with my master’s degree! One year down, one to go. The past year has been a giant learning curve, but I know that I still have so much left to figure out about this profession. I’ll be doing my “advanced practicum” in the fall – in other words, I only have one more semester on campus and then I’ll be off working in the “real” world (for free…) on externships. What a learning curve that will be. I’m kind of excited to have one semester left to be in my “comfort zone” before being thrown into new settings. But until then…

I am off to Europe TONIGHT! I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Bulgaria, and we’ll be taking a quick four-hour road trip down to Kavala, Greece (how fun that she can just road trip to Greece anytime she wants?!). I’ll be there until August 14th, so make sure to follow along on Instagram for posts and stories…when I have WiFi, that is.

Also – last night I called my bank to let them know I’d be traveling internationally, and she asked me which countries so she could fill out the travel plan.

Me: Bulgaria and Greece.
Banker: Okay, but what country is Bulgaria in?
Me: Bulgaria is its own country. It’s in Europe.
Banker: No but what COUNTRY is Bulgaria in?
Me: …I don’t know how else I can explain this. I mean, it’s in Europe?! B-U-L-G-A-R-I-A.
Banker: I can’t seem to find it…
Me: *trying not to lose my cool* Well my parents were just there and they have the same bank and they didn’t seem to have a problem but um okay well that’s going to be where I’ll be for most of the trip so I don’t know I guess I’ll try---
Banker: OH. Here it is!!! Been looking right at it the whole time. Sorry!
Me:

OI VEY. Crisis averted in all of two minutes. 

Since I always talk about having no extra money I figure I should give full disclosure and say that my sister bought my plane ticket. I have my savings and keep decent track of my finances, but it’s safe to say that I don’t typically have the travel funds for a Eurotrip, so this was a special treat from my family and I am so thankful for it! I’m super excited, but also pretty bummed Ryan isn’t coming along (planned this trip back in April, he would’ve had to notify work about a two-week trip at the very beginning of the year…totally understandable!). I’ll miss him and the pooches, but it’ll be great having sister time!  

I am currently...

Watching: Game of Thrones…finally on that bandwagon! Finishing up season one. Also watched one of Netflix’s newest movies about a girl suffering from an eating disorder called To The Bone and really enjoyed it. May or may not have watched it whilst eating a large pizza and garlic knots #irony.
Reading: What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty. I’m a little more than halfway through it, so I’ll need to download some new books on my Kindle Paper White before boarding the plane tonight! Any suggestions?
Listening: Summer Air by ItaloBrothers, Two High by Moon Taxi, and More Than You Know by Axwell /\ Ingrosso. Nothing life changing, but fun summer songs for dancing with girlfriends or working out.

Side note: How cute is that passport holder (pictured!)? I've been eyeing this for months and had to scoop it up before my trip...I love ban.do anything! Shop it here.

I'm bringing my laptop with me, so I'm hoping to crank out a few blog posts here and there when I can. Like I said, be sure to follow along on Instagram if you'd like to stay updated on my trip 
:) 


TGIF, friends...have a wonderful weekend!






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