Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 | My Takeaway.

The months are flying by so quickly that I literally have to go back into my planner pages from the last few weeks to see what I did, where I went, and who I saw. Then I realize I did school, school, and a whole lot more school, with a liiiiittle bit of work & socialization sprinkled on top.

I have a tendency to get caught up in stress. Whenever someone asks me, "how's school going?!" I tell them that stress comes in waves. Right now, it's a tsunami wave: right after it's taken all the water from the shore, and just before it releases its fury. Hint: I am at the top of this wave and looking down and thinking, "what are my chances of survival here? Doesn't look so good from up here." But it will pass, and I will get through it. And I will be in NY in just seven days, so it can't be all bad.

Despite the craziness, if there's one "takeaway" I've had from November, it's an overwhelming sense of love and security. Even though it's far (far...) away, I see a light at the end of this academic tunnel. I look at my boyfriend, Ryan, and I see such a bright future for us. I look around at our little 815 square foot third floor apartment filled with pooches and trinkets and coziness and I feel thankful. It's finals week, and it's about to get a whole lot worse before it gets better, but I'm happy. In fact, even on my busiest, most stressful days, there is never a moment where I question my happiness, and I think that's something to be celebrated.

So with that, goodbye November 2016. You came and went entirely too quickly for my liking, but that's to be expected nowadays.

What's your takeaway from November? 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Pressure Keeps Building...Introducing Freda James.

I'm not usually one to post about "songs you need to download ASAP!" simply because I feel like I listen to pretty generic, Top 40-esque songs nowadays. I think that as I've gotten older, my desire to hunt down new tracks and unknown artists has dwindled. Long gone are the days of typing "The O.C. season 2 episode 18 Marissa and Ryan scene song" into Google to find my latest song virus. Oh, good times.

Having said all that...

You must download this song, ASAP.

Introducing my boyfriend's sister, Freda James (A.K.A. Jamie Fredericks). Jamie moved to NYC in 2010 to pursue her dreams of singing and songwriting. She's worked so hard for so long, a few weeks back she had the opportunity to fly to California to record her first song...and I am so in love. Neon Gold Records (some of their signed artists include Ellie Goulding & Charlie XCX) released a quick blurb about her earlier in the month, and I have just been such a proud nearly-sister-in-law ever since! about fighting to make a name for yourself in a giant city. This is such a gigantic step for her, and I'm so thrilled to share (unbeknownst to her, of course. Ha!).

So if you're someone who truly does like to hunt down new artists and tracks, give one of my favorite humans a listen. Soundcloud & Spotify links are attached, but if you love the song as much as I do, feel free to throw down 99 cents! I know I sure did.

iTunes (99 cents) - Buy here!

Monday, November 21, 2016

On Feeling Thankful.

I've been wanting to participate in a couple "Thankful Thursday" linkups I've been seeing around the blogosphere as of late, but as per usual, I'm behind the times...well, mostly just behind. But that's neither here nor there! Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and it's even starting to feel a little chilly down here in Tampa (for the next 48 hours, anyway). Nothing puts me in a better mood than time appropriate fall weather. So without further ado, I will join the masses and address exactly what I'm thankful for this year, this week, this moment:

This year: 
  • Getting into graduate school!
  • Having a flexible job that allows me to work as much or as little as I need to.
  • Having all around good health.
  • Making new lifelong friends.
  • My negotiation skills that landed me a beautiful new car with a killer monthly payment (& no down payment).
  • Finally knowing exactly what I want to do in life, while also realizing that there might be dreams out there that I don't even realize I have yet. 
This week:
  • Finding out I have an awesome supervisor for next semester...and I get to work with kiddos so soon!
  • Having an experienced, intelligent supervisor this semester to guide me through the whirlwind that is clinic.
  • Starbucks breaks & dinner dates.
  • A clean apartment.
  • New twinkly lights in the bedroom.
  • Egg + turkey bacon + basil + tomato + spinach sandwiches.
  • Realizing we have just 17 days until we go to NY! 
    This moment:
    • My hot soy chai tea latte.
    • Chilly weather and cozy cardigans.
    • Getting to love the best guy I know.

    What are you thankful for? And more importantly, HOW EXCITED ARE YOU FOR THANKSGIVING?! Gimme all da ham, plz. 


    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    Get Bitter or Get Better Byrd.

    If you live in the Tampa Bay area, you know that Ciccio Restaurant Group is no stranger to hitting the nail on the head when it comes to brilliant + innovative restaurant concepts. From a modern twist on Mexican food at Green Lemon, to health-centric inspired Fresh Kitchen and classic diner styled Daily Eats (+ Lodge, Ciccio Cali, & Ciccio/Water!), it seems there isn't anything CRG can't do.

    So when I heard about their newest concept, Better Byrd, I could have already told you they were on to something great.

    Better Byrd held its official grand opening this past Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida. But before the restaurant opened its doors to the public, my friend Kahla (from Keeping Up With Kahla) and I were invited to join several other Tampa Bay bloggers during their special preview event! We got to sip on chai cold brew & watermelon lemonade (and wine, of course) while gorging ourselves on copious amounts of chicken and mini donuts (YAAAAS, MINI DONUTS!), all while documenting the experience through hashtags: #BetterBloggerSP, specifically. Endless food & beverage, great company, and thousands of uninterrupted photo opportunities? Count. Me. In. 

    From sweet potato tots to fried chicken sandwiches and bacon sriracha queso fries, it's safe to say our taste buds were more than satisfied throughout the entirety of the evening. It's also safe to say I gained three pounds in three hours, but that was a risk I was more than willing to take. 

    Throw these babies on your "to try" list for your visit (because you must go):

    Bacon Sriracha Queso Fries: Um, hello. Bacon + spicy + cheese + a fried potato = literally everything my taste buds could ever dream of and then some.

    Cheesy Chick: "Buttermilk fried chicken, whipped goat cheese, and pepper jelly on a homemade English muffin or whole wheat wrap." I'm just going to let that one sink in. 

    Sweet Potato Tots: Think of your favorite sweet potato fry. Now think of it as a small, toasty, flavor rich popper. Then add some creamy maple dip to that mix. And then pick up your jaw.

    Mini Donuts: I'd specify one, but I simply can't narrow it down. Of all the ones I tried (borderline too embarrassed to admit the actual number), I can't stop thinking about maple bacon walnut, vanilla pebbles, and matcha ginger. 

    Not yet tasted by bound to be scrumptious: chicken noodle ramen sriracha soup, chicken bowls, and all-day brunch.

    Be the Better Byrd and fly, don't walk, to this exciting new quick service concept. I am 1000% certain that you and stomach will not regret it.  

    Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - Website - Menu


    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    Tea Talk Tuesday | Volume 4.

    I can't stop watching How I Met Your Mother. I don't know what took me so long to hop on this train, but I am so glad I finally did. I love that the episodes are super short, which makes it a perfect study break show...although because they're so short, sometimes that "one episode break" turns into three. Sorry not sorry. This is the first show to make me actually laugh out loud in awhile. Plus I have a whole new appreciation for Jason Segel! Already a quarter through season two, can't stop won't stop.

    I went to my first hot yoga class! I took my first class at CAMP Tampa last night with a couple of my girlfriends and fell in love. The class was called hip hop flow, and it was an hour and fifteen minutes of yoga in a 95+ degree candle lit room with hip hop music playing throughout. I've never sweat so much in my life...and that's coming from someone who has lived only in Florida. I was literally soaking through my shirt & my braided hair looked more like a rat's nest by the end of class, but it felt so good. If you're in the Tampa Bay area, it's definitely worth checking out. Look into their Facebook page for updated information, but right now use code STMAG for a free class!

    We're three weeks away from New York...ah! Ryan and I booked a trip immediately following finals to NYC! We'll be staying with some of his family in Long Island the first two nights of the trip, and then head into the city/stay in Brooklyn with his sister the last two nights. We don't have a single thing planned yet, but I'm excited to see the city during Christmas time. The Rockerfeller tree + ice skating is definitely on our list of to-do's, but if you have any other suggestions about what to do in the city this time of year, please let me know!

    It's starting to get a little chilly down here in Florida. Chilly is a relative word, I suppose. But recent lows have been in the mid to upper 50s, and this weekend it's supposed to drop into the 40s. WHAT. Time to break out the sweaters! Or in my case, time to buy new sweaters...with the money I don't have. There goes reality biting me in the ass again. Ouch.

    I'm still not "over" this election yet, and I don't plan to be. And if you are, that's totally your prerogative. But I will continue to ask that you figure out a way to empathize with those individuals who might feel differently for reasons you might not fully understand. A little compassion isn't such a bad thing to have in a world that can be so filled with hatred, is it? Can we at least agree on that?

    So what's new in your life this week?


    Friday, November 11, 2016

    Post-2016 Election: Words of Advice ( matter who you voted for).

    If you know me personally (or even if you don't), you probably know how I feel about Tuesday evening, the morning after, and the four years to come. In a nutshell: I feel deflated. This was not the reality I anticipated, and to be honest, I am still processing the results.

    But that's not what I'm here to talk about. 

    I'm not here to change your opinion, but I am here to [try] and change your matter which party you affiliate with. I've seen quite a bit of exchange over the last 48+ hours, and it'd be a Pinocchio sized lie if I said it's been peaceful pleasantries and modest elation. I've certainly learned a lot about my Facebook friends (oi vey), but I've also learned a lot about myself. The last 16 months have taught me a great deal, but most importantly, they have taught me to:

    Ditch opinions & adopt facts. Opinion by definition means, "a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge." Everyone has an opinion (about everything), but it is so important to stay properly informed. That means: check your facts. It is entirely okay to read, watch and share blogs/articles/news sources that reinforce what you believe in...only after you've done your research. Double check your information on,, etc. Know how to distinguish a legitimate, unbiased news source from a tilted one. Contrary to popular belief: opinion does not equal truth, no matter how passionate you might be about a topic.

    Be compassionate & stay humble. Acknowledge that someone's story might contrast from yours. We all come from different walks of life, and some of us are more privileged than others. Do not turn a blind eye simply because you're lucky enough to feel unaffected by radical discrimination. Remember that just because it isn't happening to you doesn't mean it isn't happening. Fight the urge to be boastful, to be hateful, to seek vengeance. Rise above the belittlers, and above all else, encourage kindness.

    Do not revel in ignorance. Take those facts I was just telling you all about and do something with them. You don't have to talk about politics with your friends, or your family, or a random Facebook political "expert," but you should be knowledgeable. Be well rounded. Read it all. Watch CNN, then Fox, then BBC, then John Oliver, then Bill O'Reilly. If you're going to watch one, watch it all. Learn it all. Don't be flippant. Don't be lazy. Challenge yourself to be better.

    "Be the change you wish to see in the world," and all that, right? All we can do in the meantime is stay informed, stay kind, stay alert, stay hopeful. Be better. Do better. Stand up for what you believe in, but also understand it...and do it peacefully.


    Monday, November 7, 2016

    Embrace Who You Are.

    I've always been the kind of person who wishes they were more like somebody else. I know it's what every inspirational quote/blog post/magazine article tries to sway you against, and with good reason. We are all so different, and that's what makes the world so dynamic and interesting.

    Having said that, there are so many traits of others, be them friends or coworkers or acquaintances, that I wish I had for myself. I find myself thinking, 

    "I wish I was that genuinely nice, all the time...maybe people would like me more."

    "I wish I was able to keep my opinions to myself like her, to keep my mouth shut about controversial topics."

    "I wish I had her sunshine personality, lighting up every room as I walk in."

    "I wish I was that driven. If only I could become more focus and determined, I would be an overall better person."

    And I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing to want to want to emulate genuinely good people.

    But it's a better thing to become more secure with yourself first. I'm in the process of accepting that even though I'm not a walking ray of friendly sunshine 24/7, I consider myself to be a kind person. I may be an open book of opinions, but I am also well read and well informed of those opinions (with a firm understanding that I'm not always right), and I just want others to be, too. I might not be motivated to slay my schoolwork and run three miles every single day, but I've been determined enough to get to where I am now, and sometimes, that has to be good enough.

    So with that, let's start this week by embracing who we actually are, not who we think we want to be. Here's to another week of killin' it!


    Thursday, November 3, 2016

    Hello, November: A To-Do List for the Month.

    Here we are, a whopping three days into one of my favorite months of the year: November! I'm just a month out from my first finals week of graduate school, and 35 days away from our recently booked vacation to NYC! Ryan's 30th birthday is just around the corner, and before we know it, it will be Christmas. As they say, it's the most wonderful time of the year, and I'm not afraid to say that I plan to enjoy every moment of this holiday season. But before anything Christmas related begins, I could not be more excited to celebrate Thanksgiving! GIVE ME ALL THE HAM & TURKEY.

    With a new month comes a new to-do list, so let's get the ball rolling here:

    1. Have a Friendsgiving. Our downstairs neighbors invited us down for a little pre-Thanksgiving soiree later in the month, and I'm so excited! Any excuse to stuff myself with more stuffing, ya know?
    2. Plan out a baking day. Wake up late one Saturday morning, find the nearest blanket + a mug of coffee, sift through holiday magazines (and of course Pinterest!) and pick out new dessert recipes to try this season...and then designate a day to actually make them all.
    3. Make working out a part of my daily routine...again. Grad school is no joke, guys. Classes + group clinic + my individual client + SOAP note writing + treatment planning + homework, readings, video lectures, and papers...and clocking at least seven hours sleep? Working out has unfortunately fallen to the wayside, but I'd like to be back into the BBG swing of things this month...or at least running a couple miles x3 a week. With all the eating and drinking I plan to do in the next few months, it's all I can do to stay on track!
    4. Read at least three "fun" books. I'm in the midst of Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, and then onto The Husband's Secret by Lianne Moriarty. Once I finish those, I plan to delve back into Harry Potter, because what else screams "holiday season" besides Harry Potter?
    5. Start creating Christmas gifts. It's safe to say that I've been semi-successfully "ballin' on a budget" the last few months. Thus, I'll be working on homemade gifts throughout the next few weeks. Simple stretch bracelets, watercolor prints, etc. Just two more years until I can have a real life and real money again, right?!
    6. Organize our 815 square feet of craziness...and then add holiday decor! For some reason, breaking out the holiday decor makes me want to binge clean. Maybe it's the idea of adding more clutter to existing clutter that's giving me anxiety? Regardless, I want everything in every closet and every drawer to have a place, and in that place I want it all to stay.
    7. Make an apple cider inspired drink. Spiked hot apple cider with caramel vodka, apple cider sangria, apple cider mimosas...these are all ideas I'm more than willing to get behind.
    8. Plan a few date days/nights. This semester "just got real," and it's not slowing down any time soon. Spending quality time with Ryan when I can is so important to me.
    9. Binge watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life! INSERT HEART EYE EMOJIS HERE.

    What are your plans for the month?

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