Friday, November 29, 2019

thanksgiving wrap up + my black friday buys

Happy Friday, guys! I hope you had a wonderful, fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday. We woke up at 5:45 a.m. to head over to our local Turkey Trot for a 5k (yes, we're that couple, but not in a competitive way...we just like the tradition!). We park at my best friend's house, walk over to the race, and then head back for cinnamon rolls afterward every year. Following the race, we posted up on the couch at my parents' house to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with a few mimosas + coffee before helping out with the holiday feast. I made ham and Trader Joe's cornbread stuffing, and drank some wine, of course. It was our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple, and we're hoping we'll get to host for the first time next year in our new house (that we don't own yet, but try not to think about it).

Now that the holiday is over, everyone's mind is on to the next...Christmas! And Black Friday shopping.

It's so easy to over-consume this time of year. In truth, all of these sales have beens stressing me out. I know Black Friday and the following weekend is a good time to stock up on gifts for other people, but there are actually a lot of things we've been needing to replace (e.g. our living room rug, things from our registry, a new couch), plus I'm working on adding more "quality" items to my wardrobe (and donating not-so-flattering items), so it is very overwhelming when "all the things!" go on sale at once.

Still, I've tried to be mindful about my purchases, and we did make a few. Here's what I've gotten my hands on thus far (note: these may contain affiliate links, which means I'd make a few cents or a few bucks if you choose to purchase through my links)...

What I've Purchased:

Curvy High-Rise Skinny Jeans in Moreaux Wash - marked down to $89 from $128. Not a "steal" by any means, but I've heard great things about these jeans and I'd love to see if they're actually worth it.

The Perfect Vintage Jean in Ainsworth Wash - same price as the curvy jeans. I don't have a pair of jeans in this wash/style so I was interested to see how I like them.

Samsung 65" Class RU7100 Smart 4K UHD TV - our television recently gave out on us, and we're borrowing one from Ryan's friend in the meantime. We were planning on waiting until we bought a house but figured there's no time like Black Friday, so may as well splurge! Samsung didn't link through ShopStyle, and Target has it at the same price we bought it for, but we used Rakuten and ended up getting $70 cash back after our welcome bonus.

Rib-Knit Cuff Chenille Open Cardigan (A New Day) - okay, I bought this earlier this week, but only after I spent a few days mulling it over and I love it so much. I already had it in black from last year, but I bought it in red (PS: it is absolutely not red - more like a dusty pink) and I got it for my sister in blue which is such a pretty color. For $20, this comfy little guy is well worth the buy.

Definitely recommend using Rakuten if you haven't tried it, especially if you're a big online shopper. I ended up getting an extra $5 back from buying those jeans at Madewell, too.

What I'm Thinking About Purchasing:

Furbo Dog Camera - It tosses treats to your pooch through an app when you're not home, and you can see all of their whereabouts! HOW FUN.

Marled Funnel Neck Coat - After all the deals, it's less than $70 which is a cheap thrill for a seemingly good coat! We're going to Savannah in two weeks and I don't have a cute "fashiony" coat...just an army green puffy one from Columbia. Debating on if I really need it, but it's tempting...

Have you bought anything this weekend? What's peaking your interest?


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

working to live vs. living to work

I'm not exactly a career driven person.

I'm not even all that motivated by money. When I was a server at a restaurant, I'd rather have the weekend off to spend with my family and friends than make $200. Well, I'd rather not deal with checking fake IDs and dealing with sassy college girls, but that's beside the point.

Photo by Jessica Arends on Unsplash

Now, don't get me wrong. I want to make money. Life would be easier if I had more money (or would it? as they say: more money, more problems). And I love my career - I want to be the best speech pathologist I can be for my patients, and I'll happily research and complete my continuing education units to get there, but it isn't my end-all-be-all.

In a world where being your own boss is the new dream job, I sometimes feel out of place when I say that I'm happy with there I am. I truly don't mind working for somebody else. I'm okay with having a routine. I'm okay with having a job where I take PTO, because that means I can be "all done" when I'm all done. I'm okay with going to work, working hard, and then going home to my regular life.

I find success in my career every day. Small success, big success, sometimes life changing success, and I absolutely love it. But when I go home at night, I want to be home. I want to spend time with my husband, read a book, write a blog post, snuggle my dogs. While I value my job, I also value my personal relationships and my mental state.

It's kind of funny - I've had trouble finding lifestyle podcasts I can resonate with because of this mentality. I feel like they're all targeted toward those who can't seem to find the balance. I've always thought, "well, maybe I'm not motivated enough to care, or I'm doing something wrong - I don't care enough, I'm not busy enough." But that simply isn't the truth. I don't think I have it all figured out, but I do have my priorities in line. They just might be different from all the entrepreneurs I follow, and that is perfectly fine.

Maybe I don't need influencers and podcasters to tell me how to rest. Maybe it's okay to know how to rest - and to do it frequently. We don't all have to work ourselves into the ground to be considered successful, and that doesn't make us "less than," nor does it make us any better.

All I'm saying is, in a time where busyness is glorified, where side-hustling is the new craze - it's okay if that's not your vibe. It's okay if you're working for somebody else. In fact, it's okay if that's all you ever want or care to do.

It's okay to be okay with just one cup of coffee per day.
It's okay if you're not all that worried about the state of your to-do list.
It's okay to say "all done" 10 minutes before you're really supposed to be all done.

Maybe I'm the only one who needed this come-to-jesus moment. But I want to share my recent thought process regarding this topic, just in case you needed to hear it, too. What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you a work-to-live or a live-to-work type?


Monday, November 11, 2019

post wedding + honeymoon ramble.


This is the first time I've actually sat down with the intention to write a blog post in a long, long time. I've thought about it. I've wanted to do it. I've had things to write about, as much has gone on in the last two months since I've posted. But here we are, nearly halfway through November, and while I've never felt so disconnected from this space, I'm going to attempt to find my flow. And we all know that any good flow begins with a disorganized ramble, so let's begin.

+ We got married on October 12, 2019, exactly six years after our first date. Months and days and hours of planning behind us, we finally had our wedding day at our dream venue on a beautiful night, surrounded by family and friends. It wasn't perfect - there were things I wish I remembered to do, things I wish I had done differently, things that went wrong - but the majority of it was perfect, for us. Much, much more to come on this topic!

Photos by Emily Mathewson Photography

+ We honeymooned on Kauai (in Hawaii) for six days. OH. MY. GOD. SWOOOON. Kauai has our hearts forever. It likely changed us forever. It's the kind of place where you feel so far removed from your usual hustle and so enamored by nature that you either, a) forget who you are a little bit, or b) find who you are a little bit. 10/10 recommend. If Hawaii has only "kinda sorta"been on your bucket list, move it up to the top.

+ We are in the process of buying our first house together. Well, we are in the very early stages, but we finally secured a real estate agent, and we're scoping out neighborhoods with purpose. I love our cute little apartment in the middle of everything, but I do not love our neighbors, and I do not love our lack of backyard and closet space. We're ready to move on up and out!

Hopefully you'll see a bit more of me around these parts. Now that I'm done with wedding planning, I'm itching to get back into a hobby - more specifically, writing. Love you, mean it.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

one year ago | then & now

One year ago today, I was just a month post-graduation with my master's degree in speech-language pathology. I'd recently finished up my last externship in pediatric home health, where I had firmly decided that I wanted to work with kids, and interviewing all over the place to figure out where I wanted to be. I was working doubles left and right at the restaurant I'd been working at for the past 3.5 years, but I was less than two months away from accepting a position in the public schools.

Now, I'm working as a pediatric SLP in a medical setting at my dream job. I feel challenged literally every single day. I love my patients and their families, and I'm growing more and more comfortable with myself as a clinician and as a professional. The majority of my caseload is early-intervention age children with autism (something I never thought I'd be doing), and I run two social skills groups per week.

One year ago today, I was a few days away from going wedding dress shopping for the first time. We'd just signed with our venue after having negotiated a great rate (note: things happen & we're spending more than anticipated...such is a wedding). We had plans to honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort somewhere in the Caribbean, like St. Lucia...or Bali, if we could just get past the $2,000 plane ticket. We were dipping our toes into the wading pool of wedding planning, and the big day felt light years away.

Now, we're 32 days (!!!) away from getting married. The vendors have been booked, the honeymoon is squared away (see you soon, Kauai), and I'm in the midst of finalizing little details like tipping, event signs, and a hair and makeup schedule. I'm going on my bachelorette party next weekend, and I'm just a couple weeks away from my final dress fitting! It's all coming together. Also, we're spending an exorbitant amount of money on salmon as an entree. So if you're a guest at the me a solid, and go for the fish.

One year ago today, I was relishing in post-graduate school freedom. After quitting my full time sales job and starting to work toward my master's degree back in 2015, I always felt like there was something I needed to be doing. Another hour of studying for the GRE, a quick edit to my letter of intent, an exam to study for, a client report to wrap up. I knew that once I joined the professional working world again, my 9 a.m. wakeup calls and weekday trips to the beach would be a thing of the past. And they are.

Because now, the first few days of my week are consumed with work, going to the gym, and sleep. I have about 2-3 hours to myself on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, but my weekend starts at 6 p.m. Thursday evening.

I spent nearly four years working toward the life that I'm living now. Working in a restaurant, while getting yelled at by hangry, entitled business men and women, I'd think to myself, "I am so ready to close this chapter of my life." Looking back, I don't regret those thoughts. I was ready to be done long before I put in my two weeks, but there's something to be said about enjoying a season of life while you're in it.

With that said, I encourage you to take a look around. If you're struggling in school, know that you won't be forever. If you're hating the single life, relish in the extra time you have to get to know yourself (and the extra time you have to keep doing whatever the hell you want). If you're hating your job, know that you could find another one next week. Life has a way of switching up your game plan while you're not looking, so try and take it all in. Chances are, you're doing just fine.


Saturday, August 31, 2019

saying goodbye to summer & looking ahead to fall

As we near the end of August (!!!), my Instagram feed and email inbox have been filling up with fall fashion, decor, and edible goodness. It's still 95 degrees in my neck of the woods, as it will remain for a few more months, so adorable chunky sweaters and pumpkin spice creamer simply feels out of context for this native Floridian. I've always envisioned moving some place where the seasons change; where I can anticipate a dip in the temperature in the evenings, slip on a cream colored cardigan and booties for a Friday date night in September. Alas, September in my neck of the woods typically means a month of active hurricanes with mysterious paths, so I guess you could say it's different.


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.


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:


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


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.


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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