Tuesday, September 1, 2020

get to know me

It's been awhile since I've shared a little "about me" post, and since I have some new readers, I thought I'd re-introduce myself! SO HEY. I'm Samantha (or Sam). Formerly Samantha Rose, now Samantha Fredericks. Well, not officially. Social security has been closed, and I need to [finally] mail in my documents. But long story longer - my married name is Samantha Fredericks. 

I'm a Florida native, born & raised.

I grew up on a Florida beach, but moved about 30 minutes inland when I was 11 years old so that my parents could keep horses on our property. I used to ride competitively on and off up until I was a teenager, and then my horse passed away a few years back. While my parents still keep several horses, I haven't ridden in years. I would love to change that by the end of this year (once the weather cools down a bit).

Speaking of weather, I love weather. 

There was a point in my early teenage years when I considered being a meteorologist, until I realized just how much math and science that degree requires. I check weather apps and radar every week so I know what type of weather to expect and stay on top of my hurricane apps during the season. I also love a solid weather disaster movie. I finally watched Twister for the first time a couple of months ago, but The Day After Tomorrow is one of my favorites.

I met my husband at a bar.

We met at a local Tampa bar almost seven years ago. I was semi-freshly out of a relationship, and while I was dating around a bit, I thought I wasn't ready for anything serious. But when I met him, I knew he was going to become my boyfriend. After six months, I had a feeling that I could spend the rest of my life with him. Four and a half years later, he proposed, and we got married on October 12th last year.

Speech-language pathology is my second "career."

I got my bachelor's degree in mass communication and started working in sales right out of school, but ended up getting my master's degree in speech-language pathology a few years later. Growing up, I never pictured myself in a "helping" career. As a speech-pathology grad student, I never anticipated just how much I'd love working with children with autism. Now it's pretty much my "specialty" at work, and I love it!

Growing up, I wanted to be an actress.

I took acting classes and participated in drama and productions in high school, but my parents were always very adamant about pursuing education first, and then I could "do whatever I want." Even though I've held a job since I was 16 years old, I was basically living on their dime throughout college, so I followed their guidance. I guess you could say that dream kind of fell to the wayside as years passed. While I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I was passionate enough about it to truly pursue it. Maybe I'll join an improv group or community theater down the line, though! 

Poodles are my love language.

(Don't tell our mixed breed, Einstein). I've had dogs for as long as I can remember - primarily poodles. I had two standard poodles until I was around 13, then we've had a family toy poodle since then. When I met Ryan, he sent me a Snapchat of his toy poodle, Benni, and I think that's when I knew we were meant to be. Poodle people for the win. Plus, I thought it was pretty cute that a 6'8 guy went to the animal shelter on a "study break" during his last college finals week and walked out with a toy poodle.

Other random bits and fun facts:

- I can't stand the song "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.
- I'm naturally dirty blonde and get a "balayage" about 1-2 times a year...but I've been brunette twice. 
- I'd opt for loungewear over regular clothing any day of the week.
- I turn 30 next summer! This blows my mind, but I'm actually pretty excited about it.
- I am a Taylor Swift fan, through and through. I don't own a single CD player, but I will continue to buy a physical copy of any album she puts out. I'm loving folklore, and my favorite songs are august, exile, and my tears ricochet.
- I don't consider myself a picky eater (I'll try anything at least once!) but I don't like peanut butter or olives. Bleh.

Anything surprise you? Tell me something about you in the comments!


Friday, August 7, 2020

my (mostly) at-home workout routine

Prior to COVID-19, quarantine, and moving cities, Ryan and I went to the gym pretty frequently. Not in a "gym rat" kind of way - we just loved our local gym and had made it a part of our regular routine. Every morning before work, I packed a bag with workout clothes to head straight there after work most nights. Ryan went to classes almost every week day. On Sundays, we'd go to the 9 a.m. morning class outside in their "shed," then go to a smoothie place nearby for BOGO free smoothies, and occasionally Burger King to split an Impossible Whopper (LOL). Honestly, our gym was one of the reasons we wanted to stay in Tampa vs. buying a house in St. Pete. Crazy, right?

Obviously, it wasn't enough to hold us back. We bought a house in St. Pete, and we were in the midst of searching for new gyms in the area when COVID happened. Even though we started working out from home almost immediately, our workouts looked a lot different. I've gained 10 pounds since my wedding back in October. At first, I thought, "maybe I'm drinking more wine? maybe I'm not paying attention to what I'm eating?" even though I felt like not much had changed. What had changed? The intensity of my workouts. I went from burning 300-500 calories 3-5x/week to 150-300 calories 2-3x/week. Definitely a difference!

I'll be the first to say I am no fitness guru, nor do I have a desire to be. Throw it back 8-10 years, and I thought about every calorie I ate, what my next meal would be, how I could fit in another workout. No thanks, not for me. My body has changed over the years, and with that, so has my mindset. I don't need to be the fittest, or even the strongest person in the room. I just want to feel comfortable with myself. My biggest goal? To fit into the jeans I already own come the cooler months. Ha! I have too much to buy for this house to have to go out and buy new jeans, too. 

While some are going back to the gym (and that's fine! you do you, guys), we haven't had a giant desire to start at a new gym, so I thought I'd share how I'm trying to stay in shape at home.


Note: this is the only thing I'm not doing from home. The pool following CDC guidelines. While it's all outside, we do have to wear a mask upon entering. They have even and odd lates starting from different ends of the pool. You have to sign up for lanes way in advance to prevent crowding. Long story short: I feel super safe when I'm there.

I swam competitively from the time I was 9 years old until I graduated high school. Country club summer teams, year-round swim teams, high school teams, you name it. While I was always more of a fan of the community and the swim meets versus actual practice, there is no arguing that swimming is a great workout. I haven't swam laps in years, so a couple months ago I bought myself a new suit, a couple caps, a new pair of goggles, and a kick board, and signed myself up for a lap membership at a pool where I grew up swimming. I'm only able to swim about once a week because of my work schedule, but it's been a fun way to vary my workouts! A plus: I get a tan without the sweat. Sign me up.


I started doing yoga at home when I signed up for AloMoves, which I later swapped for Peloton, just out of personal preference (cheaper per month, music during workouts, community feel). I love the variety of classes - I primarily do flow yoga, but I'll do a "power" yoga when I'm feeling like I want a more intense workout without too much hopping around. I'll do yoga anywhere from 1-3x/week, depending on my mood (lately, it's been like 1). I have yet to do a class at home for longer than 30 minutes (I know most in person classes are 60-90 minutes) but that's all I have the attention span for while at home, if I'm being honest.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

I've also been using the Peloton app for HIIT and strength classes, which vary anywhere from 5-45 minutes. I have to get myself motivated for these classes, because sometimes I have zero desire to do a burpee, alone, with one really "forcing" me to do it. However, I know my body, and I need a good amount of cardio to keep in shape! So incorporating a HIIT class 1-2x/week has been a necessity for me. I could probably do more, buuuuut...nah.


This is what I am most excited about! Since we're no longer going to the gym, we took the plunge (amongst many others) and bought a Peloton. We ordered it right before my birthday in late June, and finally received it this past Wednesday (August 5th). I've only done one class on it so far, but it killed me. I love that you can sign up for live classes and watch the leaderboard to see how you rank with others all over the world (or not! you can hide it, too). I'm pumped to incorporate it into my regular workout routine. I know COVID will eventually pass, but we still thought of this purchase as a good investment. When we eventually have kids, it'll be helpful to have some kind of [motivating] exercise equipment in the house. 

Now that we have our Peloton, I anticipate my weekly workout routine to look more like (example schedule): 

HIIT 1x/week (Tuesdays)
Cycling 2-3x/week (Mondays, Thursdays, and/or Saturdays)
Swimming 1x/week (Fridays)
Yoga 1-2x/week (Wednesdays and/or Sundays)

I love having a variety in my workouts, and I just want to keep myself moving everyday, so I'm excited to see the results of a consistent routine, now that I finally have one nailed down.

What have you been doing to stay in shape this year?


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

our home buying process

If you've been around here for awhile, you know I've been talking about us buying a house for a long time. It was actually one of my goals for 2019, per my personal journal. But with wedding expenses (and my new student loan payment), most of our money was going elsewhere. Additionally, our apartment lease was going to end less than 10 days after returning from our honeymoon in Hawaii. We didn't want to feel pressured to buy a house that we didn't love, so we decided to wait.

That's not to say we didn't begin our hunt before then. We started neighborhood hunting around Tampa in the early months of 2019. We'd hop in the car on a random Sunday afternoon and browse around "SOG" (south of Gandy - a semi-cheaper area of south Tampa, which is $$$) and different neighborhoods of Seminole Heights (Riverside Heights, Southeast Seminole Heights, Old Seminole Heights). We thought about looking around the St. Pete area, where I grew up, but it wasn't at the front of our minds. Even though I worked in St. Pete, we both felt confident that we wanted to continue our lives in Tampa. A lot of our friends live in Tampa, we loved our gym, we loved Bayshore Boulevard, we had our go-to restaurants and stores. Tampa was our home.

We perused open houses to get an idea of what we liked (master bedrooms that could fit a king size bed) vs. what we didn't like (narrow kitchens). We were heavily researching, but with the wedding in the works, we didn't feel comfortable making any big decisions.

We got married in October, and started to take our search a little more seriously a couple weeks later. We chose our real estate agent - a family friend who'd helped both my parents and my sister buy and sell their homes over the last 20 years - and went to our first official round of showings.

Our initial requirements:
  • 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
  • 1,200 + square feet
  • Minimal work required
We quickly realized that we had a lot more to consider. And we learned a lot in that initial showing.

For example...
  • Quick flips = chocolate covered cockroaches. Newly renovated doesn't mean carefully renovated. 
  • Master bedrooms don't always coexist with an ensuite bathroom.
  • It doesn't matter how much you love the house if you don't like the street.
Needless to say, we saw a lot of duds...but we remained hopeful!

In January, we went for a longer house hunt in St. Pete. We visited about six homes in varying neighborhoods. The first one, a 3/2 with a two car garage, was in a beautiful neighborhood (secluded street, close to the water, less than 15 minutes from downtown), but needed a lot of work. Both bathrooms were looking rough, the porch was awful, the doors had seen better days, etc. Unfortunately, it was listed too high for us to consider, given all that needed to be done. Pass.
The next few houses were in okay neighborhoods, but featured awkward layouts, half bathrooms listed as the second bathroom, and cheap renovations. Pass pass pass. 

We went to a few more showings with our realtor during the next month or so. Sometimes we saw six showings in one trip; other times we went to visit just one home. We continued to visit open houses on our own as a pre-screening before deciding if we wanted to consider it as a serious option. It was a fun weekend activity for us, until we actually started liking a house only to see it go to somebody else. We visited one we'd been eyeing for months in a cute historic neighborhood in Seminole Heights, just steps away from a few restaurants, breweries, and shops, only to find it was pending sale by the end of its first open house. Ouch.

Zillow searching became the bane of my existence. Even though our budget was pretty generous for a first home, I began to fall into the trap of "if only we had X amount of $ instead, then we could find the perfect home." Not fun, nor fair, for us.

In early February, I went to an art show with my mom and sister in Gulfport, a cute little beach town in the St. Pete area. On a whim, I asked my mom if she wanted to drive around some of the neighborhoods we'd been looking at in St. Pete. I offered to take her past the initial house in St. Pete (3/2/2, awful porch). As we entered the neighborhood, my mom began cooing and singing its highest praises immediately.

"Look at how well everyone keeps their yard! That's a great school nearby! Look, you're tucked away! Oh, a park! Oh, I love it! You need to reconsider this house." We drove past it 2-3 times in several circles around the neighborhood. It was the strangest feeling. It was in those few moments, after a quick conversation with my mom, that I thought to myself, "huh. yeah, this feels right." 

I went home to our apartment that night and discussed it with Ryan. We figured we should at least take a look at the house from a different perspective, and we arranged another showing with our realtor. Between our initial showing and our second, the seller had dropped the listing price by about $15k, which made the opportunity even more attractive.

After our second showing, we wanted the house, no doubt about it. Naturally, so did another couple. Suddenly, a house that had been on the market for months was potentially slipping out of our grasp. WHAT IN THE FRESH HELL, AM I RIGHT? 

I believe the other couple placed an offer that felt too low to the seller, so she opted to see what we wanted to do. On Valentine's Day, we popped a bottle of wine as we officially submitted our offer. It was accepted a few days later, and we awaited inspection and the appraisal (albeit, impatiently). While the seller initially wanted a 45 day close, our realtor worked his magic and negotiated a 30-day close. As it turned out, the seller found a new home very quickly, and we were able to close in less than 30 days. 

And if you're doing a timeline in your head, why yes - we closed on Friday, March 13th, just days before the entire country went into lockdown due to COVID-19. What a time to be alive, right? More like, what a time to have to go to home improvement stores every single day of your life.

  • We started looking for houses about a year in advance, but the actual house hunt took less than 6 months.
  • We opted for a house that needed a lot of work, but was in a desirable neighborhood.
  • We closed on our house in less than 30 days.
It's been almost five months since we moved in, and it's true what "they" say: home improvement is a marathon, not a sprint. We've gotten so much done in such a short amount of time, but we still have a whole lot we want to do, a lot we want to buy, a lot we want to consider. Despite the work, it has been so worth it to watch it all come together!


Friday, July 10, 2020

Black Lives Matter.

What an interesting couple of months it's been, right?

Actually, "interesting" feels tame. Between COVID-19 outbreaks all over Florida and the Black Lives Matter protests, this year is continuing to throw us all for a loop.

I rarely post on my personal Facebook account, but when all of the protests began, I knew I had to speak up and make my stance known. Systemic isn't a political issue; it's a human rights issue. And while I've never considered myself to be racist, I can admit that I haven't been actively anti-racist either. Ryan and I have both made a commitment to change that.

I, as a white person, am privileged. I’m privileged simply because I was born to two white parents. I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, but to my fellow white friends and family who are concerned: no one is saying your life isn’t hard. But the color of your skin isn’t something that’s making it harder.

If you weren’t aware,
▪️Black people are 2x more likely to be unemployed.
▪️Black students are 3x more likely than white students to be suspended for the same infractions.
▪️When Black people are convicted, they are about 20% more likely to be sentenced to jail time, and typically see sentences 20% longer than those for whites who were convicted of similar crimes.
▪️Black drivers are 30% more likely to be pulled over.
▪️Black women are 4x more likely to die from child birth.

I know a good majority of the world right now like to refer to facts they don't agree with as "fake news," but the racism in this country is real, even if it hasn't affected you or you haven't seen it personally.

I think it’s important to share this information because I want to make a clear message to any of my friends, family, and followers who might be harboring even the slightest racist inclination: you SHOULD be feeling uncomfortable. There is no excuse.

It’s not “us” against “them.” It should be ALL of us against RACISM.
There is so much more that could be said, but that’s what I’m putting into the universe for now. Words aside, let’s put our money where our mouths are. If you’d like to donate toward a cause, I’ve rounded up a few:

Black Lives Matter

The Loveland Foundation - side note: I absolutely love this cause! 

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Campaign Zero

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

I've also been loving the highlighting of Black-owned businesses, big and small. Ever since our wedding, I've been a big fan of browsing through goods on Etsy, so I thought I'd highlight a few  Black-owned Etsy shops that I've come across this month:

HortikiPlants - Eco-friendly container gardening kits.

The Everyday Print Co - Modern Afro wall art and prints.

Pontie Wax - so busy they're closed to fulfill orders! 100% soy candles (my personal favorite). Linking for when they open back up!

On the Edge Creations - custom made portraits! These are my favorite kinds of prints. So cute for a fun wedding guestbook, and what dog lover wouldn't want a portrait of their pooch?

Decadent Mini - OKAY, THIS IS SO COOL. Handmade scented food jewelry? Color me intrigued. Check out these cute little cinnamon roll earrings! She has great seasonal stuff, too, for those of you who like to have fun jewelry for the holidays.

Breezy Tee - towel wraps, headbands, and scrunchies that help protect hair from damage. How beautiful is this head wrap?

I know a post on social media can only do so much, but like many, I think that making your stance known is a better move than not saying anything at all. Again, this is a human rights issue, my friends. While it's disappointing that it's taken all of us so long to make big, consistent strides, I sincerely hope this is a trend that persists. I'm committing to learning (and un-learning, if need be), growing, and educating others. I hope you will be, too.

Black Lives Matter. 


Monday, June 29, 2020

back to blogging!

Oh, hey. It's been awhile.

I'm normally not one to comment on how long it's been since I've posted, but I feel I owe it to this space, and to my readers, however few and far between.

My goals for this blog have ebbed and flowed over the years. I've had periods of collaboration after collaboration, gifted opportunities, hosted meals, occasional pay. When I first started, I was in the midst of a sales job, on the brink of quitting to go to graduate school, and felt like the blogging world was my oyster. And sometimes, it still feels that way!

But over the years, my priorities have shifted. I made my way through grad school, and I'm working four 10-hour days each week. I got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, and we bought a house! I've had a lot going on - a lot worth documenting - but I just haven't felt the same urge to sit down and document it anymore. And that makes me sad to think about, because I love writing! I love sharing! I want to connect with others, and look back on my posts for years to come. Blogging used to be my own way of story telling, and I do miss it.

That being said, new life changes brought on new hobbies, like renovating and decorating our first home. I started making Boom cards for work (think Teachers Pay Teachers, but like an app), which has been a fun way to earn a little extra cash. I've also started passing the time by doing puzzles, watching movies, and reading books. I dream up ideas for blog posts every week with the intention to write one on my days off, and then I don't. 

I've gotten down on myself about blogging in the last year or two. As other local bloggers started making better connections, landing more collaborations, and ultimately working harder than I do, my desire to share started to dwindle. Blogging just to tell my story began to feel silly, to be honest. I was constantly reading about needing to have a niche, needing to provide purpose to my readers, needing to produce more more more, and in truth, I just didn't make the time for that. I didn't want that.

Anddddd, you know what? That's okay! There is no "right way" to blog, especially as a hobby. There is no need to harp on my mindset shift. There might not even be a reason to be like "heeeeey, remember me? I stopped blogging because XYZ." But I do miss sharing my life. I want to post more about our wedding. I want to [finally] post a million pictures from our honeymoon in Hawaii. I want to dive into our home renovation plans, our house buying process, my favorite books, all the things...just not on a timeline. No apologies, no expectations. All fun.

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