Monday, June 29, 2015

Learning to slow down.

This weekend, Ryan and I visited his parents in Fort Myers while his aunt & uncle were in town from New York. We had a lot of down time, and I forgot my laptop at home so no GRE studying was going to happen (ohhh, darn). After scanning through Pinterest over and over and over again, I decided to open up my iBooks app and finally get down to reading Dark Places, a book written by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, duh).

It's a relatively captivating book. Creepy, very dark (ha, puns)...almost the kind of story I don't like to read at night because it's basically nightmare food. Anyway, while I was reading over the weekend, I noticed that I could feel my eyes glazing over long paragraphs of descriptive words meant to "paint a picture of the scene," and found myself skipping right to the dialogue. Cutting to the chase, if you will. Literally glancing over three or four lines, assuming I got the gist, I would move on to the next paragraph, hardly internalizing what I'd just read.

I then realized that this is something I do this almost all the time, in every aspect of my life. I assume I'll "get the gist of it." Whether it's putting together an IKEA dresser, or looking over an apartment lease, or practicing reading comprehension for the GRE. In a nutshell: I suck. And I suck because I'm constantly "on to the next." I want to finish this book so I can start a new one, I want to finish this set of reading comprehension questions so I can move on to the shift sentences, I want to hurry up and find a new apartment so I can start moving out of my old one.

On the whole, I need to take a chill pill.

Does anyone else have this issue? I feel like I'm wishing time away, trying to start the next phase of my life. Or in this case, the next book. Side note: any book recommendations?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

24 is Here to Stay.

24, I love you already.

Shortly after composing my last blog post regarding all the lessons I learned at 23, my boyfriend picked me up to embark on our trip to Orlando with a brand new cooler of margarita mixings in tow. If you know me personally, you know this was probably the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me. Extra brownie points: check. 

We arrived to the hotel in record time and immediately got to sipping homemade birthday eve margs. From there, I was treated to Yard House (Tampa needs one...real bad) where we hit it off with our server so well, we invited him for drinks with us across the street after he got out of work. We only hung out with him for about an hour, but how cool is it to make friends on a mini vacay? 

Ryan didn't believe that I was actually going to wake up at 7:30 the next morning after a night of drinking. Clearly he still has a thing or two to learn about me, because I don't mess around when it comes to Blizzard Beach. Sure enough, I was up and at 'em bright and early. We got to the park just 30 minutes after they opened and got to the best slides with next to no wait. Our tickets were good for Typhoon Lagoon as well (another water park on the Disney grounds), so we headed there halfway through the day. I've been to Blizzard Beach close to a dozen times in my life, but never to Typhoon Lagoon, so that was a sweet little surprise. 

What isn't surprising, however, is how much my feet are killing me this morning. It hurts to walk. It hurts to drive. It hurts to everything. But it was all so worth it, as I had easily one of the best birthday celebrations I've ever had. 

24 already has a lot going on. I'm taking the GRE in a few weeks, going to my first bachelorette party, being a bridesmaid in my roommate's wedding, moving in with my boyfriend, starting school again...seriously, SO much going on. I can already tell time is going to fly by and 25 will be here before I know it. But until then, I'm going to make the most of these next 364 days. 



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

15 Things I Figured Out at 23.

I will officially be entering my 'mid-twenties' as I turn 24 tomorrow, just in time for all of my friends to turn 25. Oh, the highs and lows summer birthdays. I always envied the kids I went to elementary school with whose birthdays would fall on a school day. Moms would bring in party hats and Publix cupcakes into class and we'd all party for the last half hour of the day. On the flip side, I got to have pool parties every single year until I was 16 (or 17...? What? I like presents.)

Anyway, as 23 comes to a close, I've been thinking a lot about what a whirlwind of a year it's been. I think I might actually be turning into a real live grown up? That doesn't bear thinking of. Can't I just be a kid again? No? Fine, but I'm still going to Blizzard Beach with Ryan tomorrow and you can't stop me.

I decided to take a little time to reflect on the last year and figure out what lessons I've learned that have really stuck with me. Thus, I bring you:

  1. If you're not happy, change it. It really is that simple. People make it seem like it's not that simple, but to an extent, it kind of is.
  2. Make time for what matters. Family time, boyfriend time, friend time, study time, reading time, you time. Block it out, and don't change plans.
  3. I don't actually need that dress. Or swim suit. Or top. Or anything. Spending money is fun, but saving money is always better. 
  4. Some people are just assholes. Oh wait, I've always known this one. 
  5. Don't sweat the petty stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff. In regards to the former, less is more. Spend less time worrying about shit that doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things. 
  6. It's okay to have unproductive days. Go ahead, binge watch five episodes of Parenthood. You deserve it.
  7. Having a dog really is hard work...but it's so worth it.
  8. Love doesn't have to be dramatic to be passionate. Real relationships aren't supposed to look like the movies. How exhausting would that be?
  9. Comparison is the thief of joy. You can't compare your beginning to someone else's middle; you'll never be satisfied.
  10. Just be nice. I've found this to be true in every situation. As the saying goes, "better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn't smile back." Life isn't an episode of The Hills, and we don't get paid extra to make others feel uncomfortable.
  11. Perfection is boring. Stop trying to make your Pinterest Perfect Home happen. It's not going to happen. (LOL jk, I'm going to keep trying...)
  12. Spend less time worrying about what your next step is supposed to be. Every big decision starts with a hundred small decisions. Focus on those small decisions, one step at a time.
  13. Eat the donut. Seriously. The world will not end.
  14. Stop reading Buzzfeed articles about how to live your life in your 20s...or at least stop believing them. This kind of falls under the whole 'comparison is the thief of joy' bit. No two journeys are the same. 
  15. Don't apologize for being a "basic bitch." I haaaate that everyone uses the term 'basic' in a derogatory sense. Sorry I like popular things!!!! Or you know, sorry I'm not storry. Now let me drink my holiday themed Starbucks drink in peace while I listen to Taylor Swift ad nauseum. It ain't none of yo' business.
Anything in particular I should know about turning 24? Does this mean I have to start 'adulting' forever?! 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

You Probably Don't Know...

Since I've never participated in a blogging Link Up, I decided to join Helene In Between with "You Probably Don't Know..." with a few things you might not know about me. Enjoy and link up! 

[My sister and I on Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA!]

-I rarely drink coffee. It makes me break out if I drink it regularly, so I just don't. Chai tea for me, please.

-My sister and brother-in-law live in Bulgaria. Whether I'm over in Europe with them or she's visiting  us back in the states, she is forever my favorite travel buddy!

-I wake up almost every morning hoping it will be overcast outside, especially in the summertime. There isn't much that I love more than a summer storm. Unless I have outdoor plans for the day. In which case, it better not be raining.

-Two and a half months ago, I decided to change my life and quit my job and go back to school to do something completely different from my first college degree. Some days I have really mixed feelings about it, but most days I couldn't be more proud of myself.

-My rescued pup, Einstein, is the first non-poodle I've ever had in my life.

-I think Christmas lights add a little slice of perfection to every room in every household, no matter the time of year.

-When I was 14 months old, I tripped over a rug and bit my lip almost completely off. Like, it was legitimately hanging by a corner, inside my mouth. I still have a scar from plastic surgery, and to this day, I pick at my bottom lip as a nervous habit.

-I met my boyfriend at a bar and got his Snapchat name before I got his phone number. I downloaded Snapchat for the first time that same day, just hours before I met him. I don't think this was a coincidence.

Helene in Between

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

4 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Life.

Even though it's summertime and the living should be easy, sometimes it isn't. I get caught up in stupid stuff, I get caught up in important stuff...on the whole, I just get caught up. Much like how it's necessary to take time to myself to simply relax, I think it's equally as necessary to take time to 'defluff the excess' in your life when things get just a little too hectic. In the words of Ing from Uptown Girls, "Downsize, Molly. Purify. Streamline, find your center." (If you don't get that reference, you should probably get on that). As of late, I've been trying my best to do just that. Whenever my head is in a spin for one reason or another, I take these three small steps declutter my mind. Trivial as they may seem, I feel strangely refreshed after completing each task!

| one| Streamline any and all social media. The other night I noticed that my Facebook "friend" count was just over 1,100 people. Um, what? I hardly have a group of 10 people that I hang out with regularly, let alone share my life with via social media. Scrolling through, I realized that I hadn't spoken to more than half the people on my friends list in more than a year, sometimes two years, often three or more. I try to actively do this with Instagram as well; if it's getting to the point where I don't even enjoy taking the time to scroll through my feed a couple times throughout the day, it's time to streamline my list of following. And Pinterest? If I don't see myself ever making it or eating it, it's gawwwwn gawn. Okay, mostly gone. Kind of.

| two | Donate. Not just money, but belongings. As a teenager, I was never allowed to sell my gently worn (or just straight up used) clothing to secondhand shops like Plato's Closet. My mom always made me donate the clothes I didn't wear anymore to Goodwill or other local charities, and it's a habit I've never been able to break no matter how old I get. So at the start of every season, I take a couple hours to root through my closet, try on items I haven't worn in awhile, and decide whether or not they'll get the boot. Not ready to part ways just yet? Stash your unworn clothes under the bed or some place you won't notice them for six months. If after six months you haven't even thought twice about that old sequined top you weren't ready to let go of just yet, donate it!

| three | Clear out your computer. Okay, I mostly started doing this because good ol' Maxwell the Macbook kept telling me that I was almost out of storage. I've been carrying over old items with every change of laptop over the last 13 years of my life, so you can only imagine what kind of files I had stored. Old AOL instant messenger conversations, pictures of ex-boyfriends I haven't seen since I was 15, class notes from every single college class I ever took. So unnecessary! So after a few quick trips down memory lane, I 'emptied the trash,' if you will. And voila! So much room for activities.

| four | Bring your room 'back to ready.' This is more of a preemptive step, but there is nothing I love more than walking into a clean room after a long day or trip. Make your bed every morning (or most mornings, in my case), throw away clothing tags as soon as you cut them off (oh, thats just me?), put away remotes you aren't using and clothes you're not wearing. I'm not a perfectionist by any means, but a decluttered (not necessarily clean, but decluttered) living space leads to a decluttered mind.

What do you do when you need to "declutter?" Let me know in the comments. I'm always down for new tips and tricks!


Friday, June 12, 2015

Our Chicago Trip, Pt. 2!

Just over a month ago (have I ever mentioned how time flies?!), Ryan and I went to visit my good friend Annalise in Chicago. While this was my third trip in the last couple of years to the Windy City, it was Ryan's first trip, so I wanted to partake in the touristy necessities...first and foremost, the Sears Tower (or the Willis Tower...whatever).

I've wanted to make a trip to the famous Sky Deck on top of the Sears tower since my very first visit to Chicago, but it just never happened. It was either too foggy for decent visibility, or we simply ran out of time. Thus, finally getting up to the Sky Deck was my number one priority our trip!

After getting to bed around 4 a.m. the night before, we got a late start to our day, so obviously we decided to go straight to lunch. I saw someone on my Instagram feed post a picture of some scrumptious looking tacos at a restaurant called Velvet Taco, so I put in a request to go there. I was not disappointed! My favorite was #17, the ahi poke (right).

 [Left: #2 Rotisserie Chicken; Middle: #8 Annatto Shredded Pork; Right #17 Ahi Poke]

[The threeee best fraaaands]

Shortly after, we found ourselves at the stoop of the Willis/Sears Tower...among 50+ people waiting outside in line to do the same thing. I couldn't blame them; it was a perfect afternoon, complete with a cloudless sky, sunshine, and 73 degree weather. We didn't have plans until early evening, so we opted to hop into line. After all, how long could it be?

Two hours. It took us two hours.

But with views like this? Let's just say that it was indeed worth the wait.

Do these photos make you cringe?! After two hours of waiting (and a line of people behind me waiting to take the same picture), I hopped on to that deck like a hot potato...or whatever. I had no issue with the clear glass below, but Ryan took his sweet time crouching down for the picture. Can you tell he's nervous? I guess I understand. I mean, we were standing on a piece of glass 1,353 feet in the air. Makes sense.

Like I said, this incredible experience was well worth the [almost] three hour total trip time and the $19.50 price tag. If you're in the market for a trip to Chicago, this is an absolute must-do. Just make sure you block a good chunk of your day to do it! 

Have you ever walked on to the Sky Deck? Were you scared?! Let me know in the comments :)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On relaxing.

Yesterday was quite literally my only day off this week. Like most of my days off, I had every intention of checking things off of my never ending to-do list. Take Einstein for a walk, go to the gym, buy groceries, do laundry, go to Starbucks and study for four hours, whatever whatever. Then a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to the beach, and just like that, I threw my hands up and said "why the hell not?"

Well, okay, it was entirely a beach day. We started our morning at Bath and Body Works' semi annual sale and relished in half off three wick candles. Obviously I bought three, because I have no self control. That, and when $22 candles are on sale for $11, you just can't say no. Cannot.

The rest of the day was spent consuming Whole Foods made-to-order sandwiches (sundried tomato pesto is literally my new best friend), drinking margaritas on the shore at Whiskey Joe's, and actually getting my hair wet for once at my complex's pool.

By late afternoon, I was freshly showered, exfoliated and moisturized, bra-less in my new romper, finishing up my first book of the summer with a cup of tea. I let my hair dry naturally with no intention of reapplying make up for the rest of the day. I lit my new Honolulu Bay candle and wrapped myself up in a homemade crochet blanket, and drifted off into Napland with my dog for an hour. I woke up feeling completely revitalized, and even found myself wanting to spend the last few hours of the night studying for the GRE.

My days off, while sometimes relaxing, are almost always scheduled with to-do's, appointments, errands, places to go, people to see. I don't think I realized how badly I needed a day completely 100% dedicated to fun, friends, and myself. I feel totally relaxed and ready for the next seven shifts in six days. Maybe this is what the whole "Sunday Funday" concept everyone talks about. Except it was Tuesday. So we'll go with Tuesday Shmoozday.

Happy Hump Day! Do something for yourself today :)


Thursday, June 4, 2015

On growing up with horses.

It's pretty much a universal dream for a little girl to grow up wanting a pony. I never had to dream about it, because I actually had one. His name was Bingo. I was four years old, and I was in love.

When I was eight, we bought Jet. He was meant to be mine and my dad's horse, but let's get real, he was mine. I named him, after all. My mom always thought I named him Jet because he was jet black, but in reality, I named him after the Famous Jett Jackson. I dropped the extra 'T' because it was tacky, obviously. What can I say? I was eight, and it was relevant at the time.

Growing up, I took riding lessons and loathed every second of it. Every Saturday was spent at the barn, and being the spoiled little brat I was, I resented my parents for making me go. I hated wearing thick riding pants at noon in the dead of summer, I hated flies in my ears, I hated my riding instructor who very well probably hated me back. All my parents ever wanted me to do was to grow up to love horse back riding the way they did, and had I stuck with it, I just might have. To be honest, I really wish I did.

Fast forward a few years and we moved from the beach to a relatively "redneck" part of town about 30 minutes away from where I grew up. We started with two horses, Jet and Tess. A few years later, we bought Lee for my dad. Then my mom's best friend started keeping her horse, Reata, with us. Then we bred Lee and got Smithy (pictured above). And then we got Finny. And now we have six horses in the back yard. Goooood lawwwwwd.

I continued to take riding lessons for a few more years. I entered a few dressage shows, won a few blue ribbons. I cleaned stalls for $20 a week as my "first job." Eventually, I stopped taking lessons altogether. I stopped cleaning the barn. I went on maybe three trail rides a year with my mom. Meanwhile, my parents' love for all things equestrian grew, and has continued to grow. They're both members of the county's Equestrian Board. They both take lessons. They both ride in the evenings. It's something my mom has always loved, and it's something my dad grew to love (almost more). It's something I think I could grow to love again.

When I mention that I have horses at home (and as I've gotten older, I do this less and less, as I don't want to appear braggy), I'm always asked "do you ride all the time?" and right now, I say no, and that kind of kills me. Because I don't. I grew up a spoiled kid who had the opportunity to have the life every little girl dreamed of, and I didn't take advantage of it.

Yesterday, I had the day off of work. I went home to my parents early in the day, and my mom and her friend, Karen, were getting ready to ride when Karen asked me if I'd like to join. For the first time in almost a year, I said yes. I put on my yoga pants and my mom's old boots and I hopped on Jet (who is 27 and has a small case of arthritis, but that never stops him) and on to the trail, and it felt so good. Yesterday, I realized that it didn't matter how much of a brat I was about horse back riding as a kid. If I want to start riding again, I can start riding again. If I want to start taking lessons and doing horse shows again, I can start taking lessons and doing horse shows again.

Growing up with horses, I never realized how lucky I truly was. Nearing 24, I'm just realizing how lucky I am to have the opportunity to pursue such a rewarding hobby once again. Maybe not all at once, but one ride at a time.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Product I'm Loving: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel.

I've been wanting to review this product for a few months now, and I was hoping to take a few of my own original pictures with my DSLR. However, I can't seem to find a place in my apartment with enough natural light to take a blog-worthy picture, so here we are. I am a terrible blogger.

[Disclaimer: This picture is in no way, shape, or form, my own original picture. Obviously.]

I started seeing commercials for Neutragena's Hydro Boost Water Gel round the beginning of March. Living in Florida, March is when our four week long winter comes to a close, the heat and humidity starts to set in, and summer begins to arrive. Personally, I felt my skin had been looking a little dull as of late, so I was already in the market for a new moisturizer, but couldn't bring myself to drop $50+ on a Sephora-esque product until I was convinced nothing else would work to revive my skin. Even using the term 'revive' makes me sound like some cheesy commercial, but in all seriousness, homegirl needed some help.

So on a whim, I spent a whopping $18 on a jar for myself and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. In fact, I'm already on my second buy! The lightweight gel formula absorbs super quickly; it hydrates my skin without leaving any kind of residue. I put it on immediately after washing off my make up at night, and its cooling effect feels like a dream during the summer heat. Seriously. A. Dream. And just as promised, my skin really does look brighter and more supple.

Let's get real, I'm not getting paid to endorse anything or anyone here. This stuff just really works for me, so I thought I'd pass along the favor!

Side note: If you want to save a few bucks (and who doesn't want that...?), opt to buy this bad boy at Target ($17.99) or Walmart ($15.19) vs. Ulta ($19.99). You're welcome! XO


Monday, June 1, 2015

Welcome, June.

Hello, June.
Hello, official start of Summer.
Hello, birthday month.

Six months into the year, and six months until Christmas time.
Six months into the year, and I'm in a completely different place in my life than I was at the start. Six months from now, I'll be in a completely different place in my life all over again, both literally and figuratively.

While the start of summer means the start of gallivanting about (and there will be plenty of that), June is the month that I need to get serious about things I've been putting off. Like making it a point to get to the gym more than two days a week. Like finally getting my dog set up with a trainer so he can be a little less crazy around new dogs and new people. Like sitting my happy ass down for four hours and taking a practice GRE test before taking the real GRE in July. Like not making excuses anymore.

On a less serious note, I finally get to catch up with all my friends and turn 24 this month! I couldn't be more excited to enter the official 'mid-twenties' stage. I already know this next year is going to be crazy - from weddings to starting school to moving in with my boyfriend - but I am absolutely thrilled to see where it all takes me.

So here's to June! Here's to getting serious, but more importantly, here's to the start of real summer fun.
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