Monday, November 30, 2015

Goodbye, November!

[Florida sunsets never disappoint!]

As usual, Thanksgiving came and went in the blink of an eye. 3.1 miles later, I actually ran the entire Turkey Trot this year. I'm not entirely sure if it's because I'm in halfway decent shape, or if I was just afraid of getting trampled if I dared to stop. At 33 minutes and 57 seconds, it's safe to say that I'm not a runner, but those post-race mimosas in front of the Macy's Day Parade at 9 a.m. felt well deserved.

Despite being college student broke, I managed to partake in just a liiiiitttle bit of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping. Did I need anything? Of course not. But I felt like indulging in my dark side just a tad, and managed to score some killer deals, like this perfectly purple sweater (marked down to $17 from $38) and turquoise tunic (marked down to $19 from $42) from Nordstrom. Not to mention this festive blanket scarf (similar to mine - I got green!) and flannel shirt from Target.

All shopping aside, it felt great to spend some quality time with my family this weekend. Ryan and I even had some time to head down to Fort Myers and Bonita Bay Beach to spend time with his parents, cousins, aunt & uncle, etc. for the remainder of the holiday weekend! We had a blast eating lots of yummy food, paddle boarding, and galavanting about on the beach. What a winter we're having here in Florida!

But now it's back to reality - back to work, finals, and grad school apps! Story of my life. I can't believe tomorrow is the start of December...finally Christmas time! There is so much to be done, but like most, I absolutely love this time of year. Most exciting of sister and brother-in-law will be visiting from Europe for a few weeks at the end of the month! Happy holidays, indeed :)

Did you score anything good over the weekend?


Tuesday, November 24, 2015


[Not my photo]

I can hardly contain my excitement because, in case you haven't heard, THANKSGIVING IS JUST TWO DAYS AWAY. No big deal or anything. It's just my favorite holiday (okay, every holiday is my favorite holiday).

After a long (read: treacherous) three months, it's going to be really nice to spend a couple days with my family (and Ryan's!) eating good food and enjoying good company. I think Thanksgiving is underrated due to all the it's-almost-but-not-quite-yet-Christmas-hoopla...which, to be honest, I partake in to some extent. I'm all about being thankful, and I'm also all about eating, thus I am all about this holiday just as much as I am all about Christmas (ahem, Chrismukkah).

This season, I'm thankful for:

-Dark chocolate chips, because they almost mask the taste of the Greek yogurt I've been trying to eat in the morning.
-Kayla Itsines, because her workouts have been kicking my ass lately, in the best way.
-Mother Nature, because it was actually 48 degrees yesterday morning and I got to break out my favorite scarf and my favorite faux leather jacket. I may actually be growing up, because I didn't even take a selfie of my perfectly "fall" outfit. Sigh.
-My parents' premium channel subscriptions, without which we would be unable to watch Homeland and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver every week.
-Dishwashers, because props to everyone who has to live without one...I simply could not do it.

Okay, on a real note: in light of all the tragic events that have occurred in the last few weeks, I am truly thankful just to be healthy, alive, and in the presence of my loved ones this Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for my supporting family, my patient boyfriend, my wild pups, and the opportunities I've taken advantage of over the last year. It truly has been a wonderful year.

What are you thankful for this year?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Finding My Happy Place.

I am one anxiety-ridden individual. Isn't everyone? I feel like most people in some way, shape, or form have some kind of issue with anxiety, and I am certainly no exception. Between studying, volunteering, observing, and getting ready to apply to grad school while working 25 hours a week, maintaining a healthy relationship with my live-in boyfriend, friends and family, and taking care of two dogs, it's hard not to cry out of pure exhaustion every single day. Maybe I sound like a weenie, but whatever - the last three months have been kicking me swiftly in the ass, and some days I mentally cannot take it.

I had some errands to run on the "other side of the bridge" yesterday (aka the other side of the Tampa Bay). Einstein was due for a grooming appointment, and I had my twice-yearly dentist appointment. JOY! I went to my parents house after said errands for dinner, and I was chatting with my mom about how I've felt like a real psycho lately.

"Where is your happy place?" she asked me.

I laughed and said, "I don't really have one. There is no happy place! It's all terribly unhappy all the time!"

I was mostly joking, but she replied anyway with, "well, you need one. You need to find it, and then you need to mentally 'go there.'" 

And she's right. I've been spending a lot of time on what I call my "hamster wheel;" in other words, my wheel of anxiety, and I don't discriminate reasons as to why I might be losing my shit that day. Maybe I feel like freaking out about grad school, or my financial situation, or my relationship, or my laundry, or anything.

So I went home that night and took a bubble bath. I had plenty of studying to do, but I lit one of my new Bath & Body Works candles, opened up a Marie Claire magazine, and soaked for 30 minutes. For a moment, I was stress-free. I didn't worry about anything or anyone.

I'm in the process of creating my own happy places. Whether it's taking 30 minutes in the morning to read a book for pleasure, or making time to work out, or catching up on a television show. My happy place needs to be some place where I can forget about deadlines and remember how to be a real human.

Where is your "happy place"? 


Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall To-Do List: Pumpkin Carving...Check!

Do you ever have weeks when, just when you think you're about to catch up on everything, you turn around and you actually have 23940834 more things to do by tomorrow at 2 p.m.? What do you mean it's called "college"? I don't follow. College wasn't like this for me the first go around. I had time for underage (and eventual legal) drinking, I had time for vacations, I had time to go home and see my parents.

Despite the fact that my life seems to be flashing before my eyes, I've been making an effort to complete my fall to-do list (okay, my post clearly says October to-do list, but you know, whatever). While I may be a few days late and a few bucks short, Ryan and I got to carve some pumpkins with a couple friends just a few nights before Halloween!

We made our way down to the "pumpkin patch," which as you can see was really just a tent of pumpkins on the side of the road. NOT the photo op I had in mind, but I digress. The sun was almost about to set, but we were still able to snag a few pictures before the night fell into darkness.

Someone was very particular about picking his pumpkin...but nowhere near as particular as yours truly! About 20 minutes into our hunt, everyone had already picked their pumpkin, and I was still rummaging through the rows. It's a big decision! My pumpkin needed to be relatively clean, but didn't need to have perfect texture; tall, but wide enough for a face; and of course, the most important part, he needed to have a stellar stem so it would look like he had good hair. Not a lot to ask for, in my humble opinion.

The night was spent eating Publix hot n' spicy chicken wings, jack-o-lantern shaped cookies, and Halloween inspired cupcakes while watching the Addams Family (and football). While I had plenty of schoolwork and grad school applications I could have been working on during this lovely Thursday night, it felt really good to push away responsibility for just one night to enjoy something I've been wanting to do for so long!

Can you guess which one is mine?!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Jet.

On Friday, October 30th, I lost a best friend.

He didn't talk much, but he was always there to listen. He was always in the mood to hang, even when you came over without a moment's notice. He never met a person he didn't like, but he preferred to be surrounded by women, specifically his own. He was someone I grew up with; a constant in my life, and while I knew he wouldn't live forever, I didn't walk into 2015 thinking it would be the year I lose him.

Jet (my main man on the left) passed away peacefully on Friday afternoon. Over the last few months, he lost an astonishing 300 some odd pounds, leaving him frail but still feisty as ever. He didn't eat much of his food, but there weren't enough carrots in the world to satisfy his craving. While he didn't spend hours in the pasture with all of his friends anymore, he spent his afternoons in the side paddock, hanging out in the shade, looking after his girls with great amusement and mild disdain when they would "horse around," if you will.

I learned how to ride on Jet. We learned dressage together, and we won first and second place ribbons together without even trying. We were a team. Even when I hated going out to the barn and taking lessons every Saturday, my love for my horse never quivered. If anything, he hated going out in the heat during the dead of Florida summer just as much as I did; if not, more. He was an old man that way, even when he was young.

As I got older, the riding lessons stopped, as did the shows. Jet and the rest of our horses lived in the backyard, so I still saw him daily. I cleaned his stall (sometimes), I fed him extra snacks, I'd take him on the occasional trail ride. He was always patient with me, even when he had an attitude.

He knew how to make me laugh. If we were standing in the barn and not paying enough attention to him, he'd fake choke himself on his stall door, coughing away until someone checked on him. When I'd walk by, he would literally blow his nose at me. Horse boogers are just lovely, and they get everywhere.

Friday afternoon, Jet laid himself down in the pasture and couldn't get back up. It was like his back end, which had been giving him trouble for months, finally gave out. My parents tried to rock him back and forth, tried to get him back up on his feet, but he just couldn't do it. He didn't struggle, he wasn't panicked. It was like he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm okay here."

As his health began to deteriorate in the last few months, I knew the end would be coming in the next year or two, but I never thought it would be so soon. To be honest, I don't think the fact that he's gone will really hit me until the next time I go home, go out into the barn, and walk past his empty stall. It doesn't feel real, but I feel at peace with it. At 28 years old, Jet lived a good, long life, surrounded by family and endless amounts of love. In life, that's all we can really ask for.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekend Recap: Taylor Swift 1989 Tour!

Welcome to Florida, November! Here you'll find us at a brisk 90 degrees, without a chance of breeze in sight. Hope you're planning on enjoying a nice salad for Thanksgiving dinner, because it'll be way too hot come the end of the month to have a turkey roasting in the oven all day long!

If that doesn't scream "happy November!" I'm not sure what does.

Anyway, this last week was a whirlwind for me...a whirlwind that ended in TAYLOR SWIFT'S LAST 1989 TOUR IN NORTH AMERICA! For anyone who keeps up with the pop queen, you probably already know she brought out Alessia Cara and Idina Menzel (Elsa from Frozen!) on stage...yep, that was the Tampa show! It was incredible to say the least. This was my fourth Taylor Swift show and she always leaves it all on the stage. Can I just be best friends with her, or what?

Since it was Halloween, my friends and I went to the concert dressed as the last four Taylor Swift albums. We were asked multiple times throughout the night, "what about her debut album?!" to which I would reply, "we don't have a fifth friend!"

Coolest part about these signs?! Emily (Red) hand drew them with a Sharpie marker! Amazing, right? And she's only 17! Talk about talent.

If you've never been to a Taylor Swift concert (and you're a fan), you're definitely missing out! Every tour I've ever been to, Taylor's done a fantastic job with:

  • Connecting with the audience. Upon entering the stadium, we received clear colored fitbit-esque wristbands as a "gift from Taylor." Every single guest received a wristband, and we had no idea what they were for until her set began. As soon as she opened with "Welcome to New York," all 55,000 wristbands lit up in sync with the music, and they continued to do so for the duration of the concert. Taylor took a few minutes between songs to explain to us that this way, it's like she, her band, and her dancers are performing to 55,000 individuals, not just to a sea of darkness. 
  • Remembering her roots. Instead of sticking strictly to her songs off 1989, she threw in a few throwback songs, like "Love Story," and "Fifteen." Her music has changed so much over the years, so it was fun to be able to sing along to some old favorites. 
  • Performing her songs completely differently than they play on her album. Who wants to go to show and basically listen to a CD in person? Sounds boring. Taylor (yes, we're on a first name basis) slayed her "Wildest Dreams" performance by combining the hit song with "Enchanted" from her Speak Now album. Two songs I would have never thought to put together sounded amazing when combined into one song!

It'll be at least another year before she releases a new album, but I already can't wait to grab tickets to her next tour. Talk about a happy Halloween for me!

Did anyone else get to go to her 1989 tour this year? What did you think?

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