Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 | in review


We just finished packing up all of our Christmas goodies and decor, and it feels so good to have our apartment looking semi-sleek and clean again. I remember hearing that Christmas is like an old friend coming to visit - you count down the minutes until her arrival, make plans, try and soak up every waking moment of warm and fuzzy goodness, wish that your time together will never end. Then suddenly, she's been there the entire month and you're itching to get back to your real life where you don't throwback brie and crackers every night like a multivitamin.

We kept our Christmas small this year in anticipation of 2019 being a big year for us financially (having a wedding, going on a honeymoon, buying a house, OH MY!), but we got to spend time with both of our families. Like I said in my last post, there are certainly pros and cons to working in a school, but having two weeks off during the holidays has been the absolute best.

I haven't set my goals or intentions for the year, or selected a word, or whatever it is the kids are doing these days (LOL ok that's the only old-person joke coming from a young-person you'll hear out of me in this post...maybe). I'm working on delving into what it is I want from 2019, aside from the big stuff like getting married.

I'd like to keep blogging, and maybe do it a little more consistently than I did in 2018. You know, turn in back into a creative outlet. Maybe I'll figure out how to use Lightroom presets from a mobile app so I can have a consistent Instagram feed (wow! talk about *~gOaLs~*). Maybe, after five years of blogging, I'll finally create an editorial calendar and plan out posts in advance.

Maybe maybe maybe. See? Nothing set just yet, but that's the framework, at least for this little corner of the internet. And if you're still around, lemme just tell you - THANK YOU.

Until I figure those out for certain, I'll give a little mini version of "2018 in review," the kind you won't see on my Instagram. The good and the bad.

  • We traveled to North Carolina and Washington D.C.
  • I finished my master's program with a 3.8 GPA (my new year's resolution from last year!) after 3.5 years of post-bacc and graduate school.
  • I started my first job as a speech-language pathologist in a public school setting. I'm not sure it's where I want to be forever, but it's where I am for now, and I'm learning so much every day.

  • After battling cancer on and off for years, my grandad passed away in August. We miss him all the time, but I'm so thankful that my mom and I got to go up to St. Augustine for a few weekends this year to spend time with him earlier this year. 
  • I went to more blogging and community events than I ever have in the past, got closer with local Tampa Bay blogger Kahla (heyyyy girl!), and met one of my favorite blogger friends in real life, Chelsea!
  • Looked for a wedding dress alongside the leading ladies in my life, and said yes to the dress a week later.
  • Read 19 books! Short of my goal of 25, but it took me forever to finish The Nightingale (so good, though), and I spent too much time trying to get into books that just didn't snag my interest (like Beartown...). Keep an eye out for a major book review in January!
  • While we were house sitting for my parents during their trip to Europe, my dad sliced off a good chunk of the tip of his left index finger and they had to come home early (the day before they were supposed to visit Greece for the first time). Talk about YIKES.
  • Saw some of my favorite artists in concert - Lorde, Justin Timberlake, Andrew MacMahon, and my queen, Taylor Swift.
  • Quit my serving job at Ciccio's after 3.5 years.


Like most years, 2018 was another year of growth. In some ways, it was the most exciting year of my life. In others, it was gut-wrenching. In any event, tomorrow begins a clean slate, and I'm looking forward to making memories in 2019. I hope you have a kick-ass start to the new year!

What kind of year was 2018 for you? Any new years resolutions?





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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

adjusting to this new life.


I've been pretty quiet around here, but not because I'm "done" with blogging, or because I don't know what to write about. I actually really miss blogging, and I miss the community that comes along with it. Lately, I've only been active on Instagram which gets a little...eh. We all know how Instagram gets. I actually have a pretty lengthy post drafted regarding actual blogs vs. Instagram blogs, but it's not "there" just yet. Ya know?

Moving right along.

Saying I've been busy doesn't really feel accurate. I mean, it's the truth. But aren't we all busy? Nothing to write home about (or on the blog about, clearly). Given this time of year, we're lucky if we're productive at all, between the parties and shopping and attempting to be mentally present throughout the festivities.

So yes, I have been busy. But in reality, I've been readjusting to the working world; a working world that I wasn't even familiar with while I was working in the life of luxury and flexibility that is an outside sales position. Long gone are my days of hour lunches and a mid-morning Starbucks break to power through the day.

Now, I wake up at 5:35 a.m. every morning (unless I'm really on the edge and hit snooze until 5:45) and I function on one cup of coffee. I drive 30-40 minutes to work in the morning with a 45 minute commute back home. While I have to be on campus (I work at a school) from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., I almost never leave at 3. I come home, take out the dogs, go to the gym, make dinner, do laundry, hang out with Ryan. Most nights, the clock catches me off guard.

"It's only 8:30," Ryan tells me.

But in a perfect world, I'd be winding down and getting ready for bed at 9 p.m., with a strict 9:45 p.m. bedtime for eight hours of delicious snoozing. In a perfect world. 

On the surface, if you painted this post as a picture, you might reach for dark hues and stroke with a heavy hand, weighted by a litany of woes. That, however, is 100% not my intention. Because while I'm adjusting, I am also growing to love this job.

Even though I'd love to sleep in longer, I don't mind sipping my hot coffee in a cute travel mug while listening to 90's pop or high school punk on my half hour commute.
I live for the days when my 5th grade language students tell me they're excited to learn more about prefixes because they think it will really help them succeed in the classroom.
It warms my heart every time one of my students calls out my name in the middle of a hallway, or runs up to hug me when I pick them up for speech.
I love making sure my kids know that it's a big, exciting, giant, humungo deal when they reach their goals, because I'm figuring out that a lot of these kids don't have that support system at home.

So, you know, things are going pretty well around here. In the new year, I'd like to refocus and start redirecting my energy back into hobbies, such as writing this blog. At the very least, I'd like to figure out its purpose. If you've stuck around during these quiet months, I want to say thank you, and I hope you'll continue to do so.




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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

my thanksgiving wish for you.

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

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

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

So with that said...

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


Photo by Jessica Castro on Unsplash

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




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Monday, November 5, 2018

what's up with the wedding? vol. 2


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

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

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

Venue


 (Photo credit: Station House Instagram)

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

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


(Photo credit: Station House Instagram)

Photographer

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

Dress

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

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

Advice, if you're interested:

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

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

341 days left until the big day!




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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

saying goodbye to restaurant life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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











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