Thursday, August 15, 2019

the summer i spent planning a wedding

I'd like to say that I've been relishing in the slowness of summer, but that would be a lie. I haven't thrown a hamburger patty on the grill (or watched anyone else do it, for that matter) or spent a full day on the beach sans lightning bolts and downpours.

Instead, I've been tying up loose ends and booking last minute wedding vendors. Rather than soaking up the hot summer heat, I've been taking my time and trying to enjoy every last second of wedding planning before it's all over in just 58 days.

When we got engaged in June 2018, we had it in our head that we wanted to get married on the anniversary of our first date. It fell on a Saturday in October 2019, so it felt like it was meant to be. With it being over a year away, it would be a long engagement, but I was making approximately $300 a week working as a server, and I didn't feel like I was in any position to start spending money on a wedding just yet.

In truth, I knew that this season of life would never come again, and that I wanted to soak up every moment - the good and the bad. And believe me, there's been a bit of both.

Nearly a week after accumulating a shiny new diamond on my left hand, I was perusing Pinterest and Style Me Pretty, browsing venues, and day dreaming about jewel tone color schemes...before changing my mind sixteen times, of course. When you first get engaged, the wedding world is your oyster. That is, until you realize your oyster prefers to eat all your money instead of plankton.

So we talked it over quite a bit. Do we really need a wedding? Is it worth it? Should we just elope? Hop over to Norway with a travel photographer for some bomb photographs, jet off to the Maldives, head down to the courthouse. After all, we'd been together for nearly five years at the time. Did we need the "show"?

These questions consumed my mind until one morning after I woke up from my first wedding-related dream. We were having a simple backyard wedding. It was dark outside, but we didn't have any lights. I was sitting next to Ryan at our sweetheart table, and I was trying to talk to one of our guests when I realized it was too dark to see them. Then I realized that hardly anyone was there at all. I turned to Ryan and I said, "I guess...I just wanted something more than this."

Strange as it was, that's when I knew. Subconsciously, I wanted a big day, and as it turns out, Ryan did, too. Nothing extravagant, no going crazy over minute details, something semi-small. But nevertheless, a wedding. Now we're 431 days post-proposal day, and I'm less than two months out from having a husband and, you know, being a wife, and claiming that responsibility in front of 100 of our family members and friends, and I am pumped.

I wanted a longer engagement because I knew this time in our lives was going to just fly by, and it has. The Monday morning following my bridal shower, I dragged myself into work with a little less pep in my step because it was one less thing to look forward to in my little wedding world.

So for the next 58 days, I'm going to try to savor every last moment of "being a bride." Every plan, every email, every decision, even when it feels overwhelming. Because to be honest, it's been pretty damn fun...especially all the food I've gotten to eat. 10/10 recommend having a wedding solely to have cake tastings, FYI.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

what's up with the wedding? vol. 3

If you'd like to catch up, here are the links for volume 1 and volume 2.

At this point in our engagement, I'm constantly getting asked, "how's wedding planning going?" 

Usually the question is prefaced with or followed by a statement along the lines of "sorry, it's probably annoying to answer that all the time," but truthfully, I'm enjoying the process. It's crazy to think that our big day is just about four months away! I think starting a new job has made it feel like the year is flying by, and this wedding is going to be here before we know it. We're already less than 100 days away and we've been engaged for just over a year. AH! Here's where we're at now:

Black bridesmaids dresses! I mulled over this decision for a truly absurd amount of time. I initially wanted an ombré of grays, but when I got color samples in the mail and held them up to my dress, I realized that the color palette was completely off. I dabbled around in dark pinks and taupes and considered purples until I saw the photograph above and thought to myself, "yep, yes, YAS black it is!" So I picked a few different options from Lulu's (cheap and cheerful) and the decision was made.

Invitations have been sent: I ordered samples from Minted a few weeks ago, and while I loved the designs and the quality, I just could not get behind the astronomical cost behind an item that our guests will have on their fridge for a couple of months before throwing them away ($300+ after a discount just for invitations...not including cards for details, RSVPs, what have you). A friend of mine told me that she ordered a digital template off of Etsy and used Vista Print to print them. I bought this suite set on sale for $12 and sent them off for printing with Magnet Street for 50% off! They printed beautifully, and I couldn't be happier with the result.

Deciding on a florist: I probably should have figured this out a few months back, as some great florists in my area are already booked up for my date. Whoops! I put this task off quite a bit because, to be honest, it felt like the most daunting. I know next to nothing about flowers, other than they are expensive AF. When reaching out to florists, I initially sent out a lot of inspiration pictures, only to realize that they had no rhyme or reason to them - no set color scheme, different sizes, etc. I'm only getting wedding party bouquets, boutennieres, and corsages, and I've been quoted between $600-$1200! IT'S INSANE.

Honeymoon: we were dead set on an all-inclusive resort. I've never been to one, and because I was in the midst of starting my new job and figuring out how to be an SLP in real time, I knew I'd feel overwhelmed with wedding planning and didn't want to do a bunch of additional honeymoon planning. Alas, safety was a giant concern for me, as was privacy, and a lot of the bougie hotels that I felt met my standards were a few thousand bucks out of our price range. After tons of careful thought and research, we decided on the island of Kauai, Hawaii! We'll be staying at an AirBnb with an absolutely gorgeous view of the North Shore, going on adventures, and exploring the island for six days. Neither of us have ever been to Hawaii and we are so excited!

Ends that still need to be met: cake and desserts, a few decor items, jewelry for the big day, deciding on a wedding band, figuring out our "first dance" song and finalizing the rest of the playlist, choosing our officiant's speech, finding shoes, booking honeymoon activities, buying necessary gifts, booking the rehearsal dinner...okay, not a fan of this list. Turns out I still have a whole lot to do. YIKES.

Hoping to keep you updated as the last few months of wedding planning begin to dwindle. If you have any questions (or words of encouragement, ha!) drop them in the comments!


Friday, May 31, 2019

currently, 2019.

I haven't done a Currently post since September 2018 (what!), and half of this post has been written since April (hence alllll the things in the "watching" section...we've been through a lot!). 

Photo by: Ayana Lage

Here's a wrap up of everything I've been watching, reading, and buying so far in 2019:


Schitt's Creek (Netflix) - I've been hearing about this show for months and months, and we finally hopped on the bandwagon...and we are here for it. Think It's Always Sunny meets The Mick? Super dry humor, which is right up our alley.

Game of Thrones (HBO) - It's taken me a long time to get past the first season of this show. The episodes are a full hour long, and you really have to pay attention to the details, so it can't be one of those "in the background" shows. Once I made it toward the tail end of season two, I was hooked! I don't think I'll be able to finish all the seasons before the new one starts, but I'll get there eventually.

You (Netflix) - First of all, Penn Badgley is my love (fun fact: I met him at Baby's All Right in Brooklyn a few years ago, and he was just as handsome/nice/great IRL). Second of all, I found this show to be so conflicting because even though he was the "bad guy," I was rooting for him the whole time! I ended up reading the book after the show in attempt to get more answers...still a good book, but not helpful. I'd say either read the book first and then watch the show to see it all come together, or watch the show and don't bother reading the book.

Veep (HBO) -  Another one that we have taken forever to get through, but I have no idea why. Serena Meyer is one of my favorite characters on television, and the humor is just so quick and perfect.

The Sinner (Netflix) - (just season one) I haven't moved on to the next couple of seasons because I heard the first one was the best, and also because it's just a lot to take in. Still, highly recommend.

Someone Great (Netflix)- First of all: I love Brittany Snow, so this was an automatic done deal for me. Secondly, this script is just too good. Thirdly, this movie felt so raw and real, and while it's funny, I think it might pull on your heart strings a bit, too.

Dumplin' (Netflix) - I watched this one night during my three weeks off from work, and it's the perfect feel-good movie for a night-in by yourself or with girlfriends. Jennifer Anniston kills it (as usual), but Danielle Macdonald really stole the show

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Netflix) - an oldie, but such a goodie. I can't believe I waited all this time to see it.

Bohemian Rhapsody (Redbox) - I knew a few Queen songs here and there (who doesn't?) but I wasn't super familiar with Freddie Mercury and his backstory. This movie was amazing, and I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone.

The Greatest Showman (HBO) - I'm late on the uptake here, I know, but I'm not always a giant musical fan. That said, this soundtrack is SO GOOD. I KNOW, you already know. Sigh.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Netflix) - I just saw they added this to Netflix, and I'd been searching for it on our steaming accounts months ago to no avail, so you better believe I turned it on the second I saw it was available. It was the perfect background noise to my weeknight dinner making a few weeks back.

About Time (Netflix) - I'm not sure how I waited so long to see this one, as it's right up my alley. I love a good British-based flick already, but add in Rachel McAdams and I'm sold. This storyline was so cool, and I was intrigued throughout. Like a rom-com, but better.

Chernobyl (HBO) - Not exactly an uplifting show, but a necessary watch, as it is 100% true and 100% insane. It's a mini series, so only five 60ish minute episodes. For lack of better words: terrifying.


The Time Traveler's Wife - Late on the uptake AGAIN, I know. I've actually held out on watching the movie all these years in anticipation of reading the book and now I'm nearly halfway through it. It's such a neat concept.

Still Me - The final book to the Me Before You trilogy. I was hesitant to read this after not loving Still Me (book 2), but I devoured this book. I love Louisa Clark as a character, and this story was really well developed and intriguing. 5 stars - highly recommend if you love the Me Before You books!

How to Walk Away - I read this at the beginning of the year, so in truth, I can't remember much about it other than I gave it a 5 star rating on Goodreads!

Matchmaking for Beginners - I wanted to love this book, but I just didn't care much for any of the characters. I thought the dialogue was a bit cheesy and weird, which fell in line with basically the entire story line. It has pretty good reviews, so maybe check it out anyway? I'd pass, but that's just me! 3 stars.

Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood - Ryan bought me this book for Christmas after I pointed it out to him at a bookstore in D.C. (such a muffin, that guy). I adored this book, from Mari's little life blurbs to her beautiful but simplistic watercolor pictures. It was a nice change up from fiction novels. 5 stars.

YOU Read this book after watching the show in hopes that it would maybe answer questions left hanging after the season finale. Alas, it didn't. The writing style was definitely different than I'm used to, but it still had me (oddly) rooting for Joe, even though he's an awful human. I rated it 3 stars, but while it wasn't my favorite, I'd say it's still worth a read only if you haven't watched the show yet. You won't find any unanswered TV show questions by reading the book!

I Liked My Life - Another highly rated book that felt a little bit "meh" for me. The storyline was intriguing, but I think the characters and ending kind of fell short for me. As always, I'd say it's worth taking a look for yourself, but this book just didn't do it for me. 3 stars.


DRESSES! I've rid my closet of things I don't wear so many times that I have next to zero casual summer dresses, and they are a necessity in this godforsaken Florida heat. I just discovered The Mint Julep while they were having a Memorial Day Sale (and you get $10 off your first purchase!) so I scooped up this and this. They haven't been delivered yet, so we'll see how they fit, but I'm excited to give them a try.

Shorts - another Floridian necessity. I've had a lot of trouble finding high quality denim shorts that last (that don't cost a fortune). I scooped up these babies at Levi's last weekend and after a student discount (still using my student ID forever, sorry not sorry) and a 40% off sale, they were only $20! Not sure they're still on that mega sale, though.

Loopy Case - Finally! I typically mull over any purchase that surpasses $25 for at least a few days, but I'd been wanting to make the switch to a Loopy case for months and I have no idea why I didn't hop on the bandwagon sooner. The Honey app found me a discount code for a few bucks off my purchase (code: getloopy...not sponsored!), so it was under $35 for the case and shipping. I got their seasonal periwinkle case with a coral loop and I absolutely love it.

What have you been up to? Any new reads, buys, or shows I should be aware of?


Sunday, May 5, 2019

sunday chats about apartment living

We've been looking at a lot of houses lately.

Not in person; we aren't quite there yet. But with the wedding inching closer, as we begin to unfold the paper map of our future, it feels as though our tiny apartment walls are rapidly closing in on us. Our severe lack of storage space, which we once considered to be "charming," keeping us minimal with our intake of additional knick knacks and clothing, now makes me feel like I'm in a constant state of disorganization. Our proximity to night life, which planted us walking distance to bartaco and our new favorite wine bar, also gifts us obnoxious neighbors and lack of street parking on weekend evenings.

It's been a year and a half since we moved into our humble abode, and I have loved this little space with its original, uneven hardwood flooring, natural light, crown moldings, and french doors. We're a short distance to running alongside the water, first-Sunday-of-the-month markets, and happy hours galore. But as we continue growing, both individually and as a couple, I think we are beginning to outgrow this sweet little place of ours.

I'm ready for a dining room table and real shoe storage. I'm ready to keep our silverware in an actual drawer as opposed to an IKEA bar cart. I'm ready to have a few extra feet away from our neighbors, with walls thick enough the guy next door doesn't activate our Amazon Echo every time he shouts "Alexa?" to his own.

Our lease isn't up until just after the wedding, and we don't want to rush the house-buying process, as we don't want to end up with something we don't absolutely love...which could mean signing for an extra few months, if needed. But all in all, we are ready to move on up, and move right on out.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

list of happy, pt 12

My last list of happy was posted two years ago. If you haven't been poking around these parts for that long, my "list of happy" posts are just that: things making me happy lately. 

- Three day weekends, every weekend. Four day work weeks are my jam, and they certainly lessen the Sunday scaries. And yes, even though I love my job, I still get the Sunday scaries.
- Watching Schitt's Creek with Ryan on weeknights. If you haven't started watching this show, ohhh my god (reference...if you know, you know) you need to start watching this show. It's kind of like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia meets The Mick? So good. Plus, you can't beat 25-minute episodes.
- Our dwindling wedding countdown. 179 days, and I cannnnot wait. A dwindling wedding downtown also means a dwindling countdown until our honeymoon in Kauai! But in all seriousness...I am so looking forward to being able to call Ryan my husband. Even typing that out is so strange, but SO EXCITING.
- Upcoming travel plans. Colorado this weekend, Nashville in September, Hawaii in October. As much as I love a good routine, breaking the weekend mold with a little getaway is the best mental refresher.
- Going bare-faced...well, almost. Since starting at the hospital, my go-to makeup routine involves mascara and a little eye-brow touch up...and that's about it. Maybe some concealer if I'm afraid of scaring the kids with my zombie-like eye bags. I feel more confident in what I look like, and now putting on a full face of makeup for weekend shenanigans feels like a treat.
- Meeting my best friend's son 24 hours after he was born...that was a moment for the books. I didn't think babies could make me emotional, but I literally cried in the hospital room.
- Playing word games on my phone with my grandma, a cup of English tea in hand.
- Closing out my evenings with a few pages of a book.
- Waking up and realizing you still have five hours of sleep before your alarm goes off.
- Leaving work 45 minutes earlier than usual, which means getting home 45 minutes earlier, and getting to go for an evening run outside before the true Florida heat kicks in.

What's making you happy lately?


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

a little blurb about my new job!

I started my job just under a month ago, and my life has been a whirlwind ever since. A learning curve, an adventure, and a big change that I am so happy I made.

I get to work with all sorts of children, from medically complex to mild language delays. I have patients as young as 18 months up to nine years old. I run a social skills group with a well-oiled curriculum twice a week. I work closely with my clinical fellowship supervisor and everyone is so kind and so knowledgable. I pinch myself every day thinking about how lucky I feel getting to work where I work!

On the downside, my days are long (although the Fridays off don't suck). I go into work just 30 minutes later than I did when I was working in the schools, but I stay about four and a half hours longer every day. Because I'm still a clinical fellow, and also brand spankin' new to the hospital and learning all the tricks of the trade, it's pretty typical for me to stay anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half later than my allowed departure time. This leaves me roughly two to three hours to myself, to spend with Ryan, to get things done every night before I have to go to bed and do it all over the next day.

I ammmmm exhausted.

But I'm happy as a clam. I also know that I'll adjust, get faster at writing notes, get better at prepping materials. I'll never have a moment where I can say to myself, "okay, I know enough now," because I'm learning at least one new thing every hour on the hour. What I am figuring out is that it's okay to say "that's enough for today," and understanding that it might be impossible to have a blank to-do list at the start of every day.

I'm looking forward to getting myself in a routine and on a set schedule. I was in a wedding this past weekend, and before that, I was sick for a few weeks, so it's easy for me to say "I'll get there with time," but if I'm being honest, I just haven't made the time or dedicated myself to creating a routine. 

Any tips for getting on that? Especially when I have just a couple hours to myself each night?


Thursday, March 14, 2019

my unexpected 3-week staycation

I'm currently in the middle of an impromptu, unpaid three week staycation.

When I accepted my new job, I gave 30 days notice to my previous employer. I'd finish up my last day on February 22 and start on March 4, with a whole week to prepare myself for the new position and take a mental break from paperwork and learning the ropes.

Then, life happened, and ruined my plans. The Florida Department of Health didn't send me a deficiency letter letting me know that I was missing necessary documents for my application, my transcripts got lost in the mail sorting process, and my start date was pushed back two weeks. When I initially started writing this post, this problem still wasn't solved, and I was in the process of doing all I could to go with the flow and not develop a stress ulcer. You know, accepting that I was out of control and all that.

Photo by Jen P. on Unsplash

Note: I'm no good at that. And it's a good thing I'm not, because last week I spent hours driving around to my old university and tracking down higher-ups in Tallahassee to speak to over the phone about the situation. Even though I knew the hospital had dealt with DOH issues before, I was deathly afraid of getting fired from a position I hadn't even started yet. I was a woman on a mission. All I can say now is that perseverance is key, friends. I got 'er done, and I am all ready to start on Monday.

But anyway, getting back to it. I've been free as a bird in the Florida summer sky. That analogy seems fitting, as it's been early summer temperatures here in Tampa Bay lately. Early summer temperatures means high 70s/low 80s, because true summer doesn't begin here until evening temperatures are upwards of 90 degrees. I read an email subject line from Francesca's the other day that said, "Bright sweaters for spring!" and I said to Ryan, "who can wear sweaters in the SPRING?"

Probably the rest of the country, Samantha.

Having all this time off with no responsibility, no shifts to pick up, and no one to report to has been a weird feeling, but it's also been a giant spoonful of soul food. I've been getting to sleep in, spend extra time with family, make plans with friends, go to the gym, read books, and catch up on all the shows I've been "meaning to watch" for months. Before you get too jealous of my seemingly dream life, understand that because of my unexpected paperwork debacle, I'm also behind a couple of paychecks, so I've been staycationing rather frugally. Ha!

Alas, soon enough, I'll be back in the working world, so I'm trying to enjoy every slow morning waking up alongside my pooch pals, every sip of a weeknight margarita, every afternoon telling Netflix that I am indeed still watching. And by that, I mean HBO because I'm at the tail-end of season two of Game of Thrones and finally getting into it.

What would you do if you had an extra two weeks of unpaid vacation?


Thursday, February 28, 2019

february wrap up | i got a new job!


A year of change for me, in so many expected and unexpected ways.

Expected: get married in October (woohoo!)
Expected: buy our first home together (hopefully...)
Expected: take a honeymoon some place aaahhhmazing
Unexpected: quit my school-based SLP job just four months after starting and finish my clinical fellowship year at a Johns Hopkins pediatric hospital.

Oh, yikes. Snuck that right in there, huh?

I'm thrilled/nervous/terrified/sad/proud, to say the least. Thrilled because I've landed my dream job just months after graduating. Nervous because I've landed my dream job just months after graduating. Terrified because it's going to be a big change. Sad because I really did love my previous position and all that came with it (my co-workers, the students on my caseload, the days off). Proud because it's a big deal and a great opportunity and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to continue my clinical fellowship year in a medical setting. Lucky, and for lack of better words, PUMPED.

I am now, anyway. I was a blubbering buffoon the night before my interview, and not because of pre-interview jitters, but because of self-imposed guilt. At the time, I'd only been working my job in the schools for about two months; I was enjoying it enough (after the first few bumpy weeks), loved my co-workers, and of course, my students, but I already knew it wasn't where I wanted to be forever. I felt like I was spending more time learning how to complete paperwork correctly versus how to effectively treat my students.

The opportunity to interview elsewhere fell into my lap, and I almost passed up the opportunity because of fear. My fear of being selfish, of looking foolish, of not finishing the job, of letting people down. In retrospect: YIKES. But after seeking advice from family, friends, and previous clinical supervisors, I decided to go for it. What was the harm in interviewing, right? I'd learned about the position a couple months prior; maybe they'd already filled the position. It was a safe bet.

In a nutshell: they hadn't filled the position, I had a call with the director the very next day to set up an interview, and then interviewed four days later. Ten days after that, I was offered the position. Two seconds after being offered the position, I accepted the job. And then I had to start telling people at work, which absolutely terrified me. I was scared of being considered a disappointment. For lack of more eloquent words, it all felt too hard.

But you know what I found out this month?

I can do hard things.

I can break difficult news. I can be selfish and survive the consequences. I can do what's best for me, regardless of opinions. And I am so damn happy about it.

I'm embarking on this new journey, and I know it's because I took the initiative. I know it's because I took a risk, and I have myself to thank for that (and of course my fiancé, friends, and family who pushed me). I'm so thankful for where I started, but thrilled about where I'm going. Change is good, even when it feels big, scary, and selfish. It's okay to be selfish.


Friday, February 15, 2019

on writing, blogging, and everything in between


More importantly, I miss writing.

I started blogging a long time ago. I've always had a blog in some regard; my fascination of writing about my daily life likely having stemmed from my incessant keeping of a diary or journal throughout my adolescence and into adulthood. My personal, handwritten journals were never properly organized. To this day, I don't care much for bullet journals or organized templates. I wrote about what was happening in my life, how I felt about it, and documented my growth. Heartfelt diary entries aside, I wrote stories as often as I devoured them. I had spiral notebooks filled with "day in the life" stories about my best friends, teenage-hormone driven romance chapters, and song lyrics. I didn't write for anyone else (in fact, to this day, I feel awkward "sharing" my blog posts). I'm not even sure if I wrote "for me" - I wrote because I wanted to tell my story, and to create characters and their background stories.

Fast forward to now, and this blog, and what blogging has become...or should I say what Instagram has become. Where there's a blog, there's a conjoining "influencer" Instagram. On the flip side, where there's an "influencer" Instagram, there isn't always a blog, and to an extent, that's perfectly fine. To be blunt, writing doesn't come naturally to everyone, and there are plenty of popular, full-time "Instagrammer/Bloggers" whose posts I read and I think to myself, "yikes, perhaps it's time to invest in an editor." 

I've put this pressure on myself to become a certain kind of blogger, to be an "influencer," to grow my Instagram following. After all, "that's the dream," right? To be able to create content and get paid handsomely for it. Once you hit the almighty 10k on Instagram, not only do you get the fancy "swipe up" feature, but you also become eligible for 100x more campaigns (most of which rarely require a blog post, mind you) that generally pay pretty big bucks. If you're a shitty person (sorry, not sorry) you can easily buy those followers, because who can tell the difference, right? The true answer to that is nearly everyone, but that's neither here nor there. It can be a lot harder if you're someone who truly enjoys connecting with others, who thinks a curated scroll feed is just as important as a curated Lightroom preset, who is actually in it for the content creation...not simply what you get out of it. 

So we use the "right" hashtags and post at the "right" times, and browse through our explore tabs, and likelikelike commentcommentcomment in hopes of building relationships and gaining an authentic following. And I've seen lots of influencers (some of my friends included!) do this successfully and admirably. They put in the time and effort, hours a day, day in and day out, and it works for them. They get invited to all of the things, and get sent all of the things, and meet all of the people. I think to myself, "why not me?" 

But then I think to myself, "do I even want that?"

I didn't start blogging to review restaurants, or get #sponsored posts (even though it's super cool when I get to do any of that, and I am absolutely thrilled when I do get invited...I'm not one to turn down free margs in exchange for IG content). I am a recent yet semi-active user of Like To Know It, and I try to keep up with local events and posting on Instagram. But when I started blogging in 2013, I'm not sure I was even cognizant of such opportunities. I wasn't in it for extra money, because I was in sales and was already making great money. I was in it because I felt inspired by the bloggers who shared their daily snippets, not just their daily outfits; the ones who shared lightly edited snapshots of their nature walks and talked about their Sunday nights, and their opinions. That's why I started this blog.

I think it'd be unfair to say that I've been trying to squish myself into a lifestyle blogger box, because I've always been happy with the content I've posted. But when I get the urge to write, I want to create stories, to share snippets of my daily routine, to discuss the things I love, in a way that feels like I'm chatting with an old friend, because those are the kinds of things I want to read about. You know?

I actually wrote a variation on this exact post almost two years ago, so hey, at least I'm consistent. I'm not quitting blogging, nor do I think there's going to be a "giant shift" in my content. In a way, this is me telling myself (but also giving you a reminder, if you need it) that it is 100% okay to have a blog just for the sake of writing. 

It's great if you have lofty follower goals and a dream to go full-time, and it's also okay to do it just for fun. I started this blog as a hobby, and maybe that's all it will ever be (never say never, of course). I've always loved writing, and now that I'm out of graduate school, I think I'd like to tap back into writing creatively, even outside the blog. Getting vulnerable here: I'd absolutely love to write a young-adult fiction novel someday. The key, as I'm sure you've heard about many seemingly impossible tasks, is to just start, right?

If you're still here after alllll of that, BLESS YOU. And if you can relate (or even if you can't), drop a comment below, because it'll make me feel a whole lot less self-conscious about baring my soul. 


Thursday, February 14, 2019

my all-time favorite love stories

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! I hope you spend today with whatever or whomever makes you feel the very fuzziest on the inside.

Do you set reading goals for the year? I was so close to mine last year, but I spent a bit too much time begrudgingly reading books that I just wasn't into (looking at you, Beartown) and fell behind by about six books. Yiiiiikes. I set my Goodreads challenge to 25 books (again) for this year, which means I need to spend less time scrolling and more time picking up my Kindle.

I've been wanting to do a 2018 book review post, but since it's Valentine's Day, aka the day of luuurrrve, I thought I'd share some of my all-time favorite love stories.

I feel like I go through "stages" with book genres. From 2015-2016, I was an avid thriller-seeker. Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, The Woman in Cabin 10...any book pertaining to a female and a place she has or hasn't been, I was reading it. But over the last year, I've been veering more toward frivolous, light reads. Perhaps it's the current political climate, or all the horrific things happening in the world, but I've been partial to happier (or happy-ish) romantic books.

And don't worry - you won't catch 50 Shades of Gray on this list. Hop on out of here with that, y'all.

(JK, you can stay).

Note: Some affiliate links may be used. This means that, if you make a purchase through one of these links, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you. I appreciate you! Also, I'm an avid library book reader, so I say try to get these babies for free first.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Forever Is The Worst Long Time by Camille Pagan - favorite book of 2018, and quite possibly one of my favorite books ever. I recommend this book all the time.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin - I absolutely devoured this book years ago, and I always think about going back to re-read it. It isn't earth shattering or anything, but definitely a page turner.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - written by my all time favorite YA author. Anyone else used to read/still reads her stuff?

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks - an oldie but a goodie. The movie is great, but the book is just fantastic.

One Day in December by Josie Silver - like many, I read this book during the month of December, and I finished it in maybe two days. I loved the writing style, and I felt like the storyline was unique. 10/10 recommend.

Me Before You (the trilogy) by Jojo Moyes - clearly this was going to be on the list. I'm actually reading the third and final book in the series called Still Me. I really liked After You, so I'm excited to see where Lou ends up.

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan - this book was written so well, and I felt like I developed my vocabulary while reading it, which isn't always the case with romantic novels. Also, for whatever reason, I pictured Lucy Hale as Ella, which I think made the story that much more enjoyable. Ha!

What are some of your favorite romantic novels? I want to add them to my list!


Thursday, January 31, 2019

reflecting on January 2019

Hi hi hi and goodbyeeee to January. How did that happen?

Guys, 2019 has already been life-changing for me, and we're only 31 days into the year. Within the first week of January, I took a leap of faith, put myself out there, and set something into motion that terrified me. In a nutshell, I've been a giant bag of emotions and stress for most of the month. I can't wait to officially share what's been happening, but I'm waiting to get a few more of my ducks in a row before I say it in my out loud voice (and nope, not pregnant, so let's get that out of the way!).

Isn't it crazy, though? How life can change so instantly. I know that's a cliché of sorts, and usually we address abrupt life changes in a negative light, but sometimes abrupt changes can be the greatest changes. Like waking up one morning, taking a pregnancy test, and finding out you're pregnant (again...not me, yet!). Or opening your email to find out you've landed a brand sponsorship that could really launch your blogging career. Or getting your dream job, or meeting the love of your life at a bar when you were thiiiis close not to going out with your friends that night.

I think the best part of exciting, abrupt life changes is when you can look back and actually pinpoint exactly when everything started changing and you didn't even realize it. Or even better, when you figure out that it was you who set you up for success, one small step at a time.

How has 2019 treated you so far? Or better yet, what have you set into motion for yourself in 2019?


Monday, January 21, 2019

our engagement photos!

A couple months ago, we got to meet our wedding photographer, Emily Mathewson, and take our engagement photos! Despite having been a blogger for years on end, I've never actually had a professional photo shoot, so I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, Emily put us right at ease. She was super laid back, and even rolled with the punches when there was a giant event happening at our original shoot location and we couldn't find a single parking spot. Daylight burning, I was getting frantic, but she was cool as a cucumber. Within 10 minutes, we were parked and ready to roll.

(outfit details: some affiliate links used, which means i make a few cents if you purchase an item, at no additional cost to you). 

Outfit wise, I had a general idea of what I wanted to wear, which was both a blessing and a curse. Since I had something specific in mind, nothing I came across in stores and online quite measured up to the make-believe photo shoot outfits I had drafted up in my head. I was hoping for a floral wrap dress, which I thought would be pretty easy to find, but I couldn't find the "right" one. Sigh...first world problems. I ended up ordering this super popular dress from Lulu's in wine red for my "fancier" outfit, and scooped up this crop on sale. My jeans weren't on sale, but they are hands down the best high-waisted pair I've ever tried on. I'm generally a size 4-6, depending on the brand and fit, with a curvier booty and tummy, and these fit right over my hips perfectly.

I considered a whole bunch of photo shoot locations, but we ultimately decided that where we had our first kiss/where we got engaged felt the most sentimental and like "us." We had lunch for our first date at an Italian restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida called Bella Brava, and had our first kiss just a few steps down the street. Thus, we chose Bayshore Drive and North Straub Park for our photos. Despite the rapidly setting sun, our photographer, Emily Mathewson, was able to get some incredible shots, and we are so happy with the results!

Note: lots and lots of photos to follow! Nowhere near all of them, but just some of our favorites.

All photos taken by Emily Mathewson - Website | Instagram

Can't wait to marry this guy in just 264 days!

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