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29 September 2014

Craft Like You Mean It

This weekend I discovered crafting skills I never knew I possessed.

Friday evening took me to Philadelphia with my sister to help our other sister with some last minute wedding planning. She is getting married in two weeks!! It's totally crazy..

Basically I spent all of Saturday covered in glitter from head to toe and learning new skills. The glitter was serious, I'm going to be finding it on my things for months and I can't even imagine what my sister will do- it's literally in every crack of her place. The projects were super fun and creative but I can't show anything yet. After the wedding for sure. Not going to lie- I'm pretty impressed with myself!

I came back on Saturday evening to celebrate a friends birthday. We had fondue, an ice luge and chocolate cake shots. If you have never had one you are completely missing out on life. I should do a recipe post about them soon- your mind will be blown!!

On Sunday I met up with some peeps for brunch and then spent a relaxing afternoon finally getting a much needed massage. Groupon is such a great site for this. This past Thursday I found a deal at a place I've been to before for $35, a 50 minute massage and a mani-pedi. Sha-bam. Everything I wanted.

My Sunday evening  was then spent catching up on some TV, plus Chipotle,  which made for an excellent night. 

What were you up to this weekend?
Weekend Recap
Linking up with Bella today!

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25 September 2014

10 Things I am Thankful For

I would like to think I'm thankful for things everyday and season, but for some reason Fall makes all of us a little more thankful (it might have something to do with Thanksgiving?)

Here are 10 Wonderful Things I am Thankful for Right Now:

1) Being able to support myself. I have a job, I make money and I can pay my own bills. I can save my money, spend it, feed myself and go places on my own. I know too many people who still depend on their parents for help- and I am very very thankful that for now, I am doing alright on my own.

2) Fall TV- I am oh so happy that TV is back, summer was great with PLL and Royal Pains but nothing is better than some new stuff!

3) Wine. I feel like that one is enough said.

4) My friends! Summer is over and now we are all finally back in town, hanging out as one big group. I love them a lot.

5) Health Insurance- this might be a ding ding alert to me becoming a grown-up but seriously this stuff is amazing and super expensive and I'm still ridiculously thankful I have it. #obamacare

6) Animals- Sadie and Phoenix are the best I could ask for- they snuggle, love me and I adore them. Plus they make really great feet warmers in the fall/winter.

7) The blogging world! I can't believe that I've stuck with this for so long and I'm so happy I did. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting a bunch of new people and finding my voice.

8) A family that doesn't care if I call them at 2 am while I am in Europe. I had a few meltdowns while in Paris. My family was there for every tear and thankfully every phone call I was able to have with them. Thank you!!

9) Red velvet cupcakes from Make My Cake. I seriously need to meet the woman who first started baking these because she may be one of my favorite people. Nom nom- if you ever come to NYC you have to stop here!

10) Technology- which makes it possible for me to write this post to you today. It sure has a come a long way and I can't wait to see where it goes next!

No photos today because I'm a lazy bum- you will just have to envision my thankfulness.

Linking up with The SITS Girls Back to Blogging Challenge!
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24 September 2014

Blogging for Books: The Martian

Last week I was doing my rounds in the blogosphere when I saw a post from Jessica ,over at Please and Carrots, doing a book review from a site called Blogging for Books.  Naturally I was intrigued. As a blogger you can register with the site, pick a book to be sent to you for FREE- either a physical copy or an e-book. Seriously, what could be better?

Of course I signed up right away, filled out their forms and picked my very first book. The Martian by Andy Weir. I registered to get it as an e-book and had it on my kindle within 20 minutes. Naturally I started reading it as soon as I could.

I finished the novel on Monday night and I was very happy with it- to the point that I had already mentioned it to family and friends before I even finished reading.

The Martian is about an astronaut, Mark Watney, who while traveling with his space crew is abandoned on the surface of Mars during a dust storm. Through his knowledge and expertise, as a botanist and engineer,  Mark must figure out a way to survive until the next mission arrives, almost four years away. 

A good chunk of the book is written in first-person as Mark documents his trials, problems, successes and journey. It has a good mix of input from Earth's perspective, the NASA workers and his fellow crew-mates. 

I really enjoyed all of the scientific aspects of the book- the calculations he made, learning about the different pieces of equipment and what really goes into space travel. I'm not a space expert so I can't say how accurate that all is but it definitely sounded good and kept me reading. As a reader it was nice to have a sci-fi book that was somewhat realistic. No aliens, or way-off-chart issues- everything seemed as if it could be a situation we might see a fellow human in one day (except I hope not because that would suck!)

The book does have a large amount of profanity (I would be cursing too if I was stuck on Mars by myself), so if that bothers you I wouldn't pick it up- but if you like a good adventure story, then this comes highly recommended by myself. 

 *Note: I received this book for free in exchange for a review- all thoughts and opinions are of my own*
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Fall Photo- Halloween 2013

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday of mine- I mean what's better than going door to door and collecting candy?

Plus you get to dress up and be whatever you want to be.. I like to stick with simple, easy costumes. Especially ones that can be handmade. Last year I was a dinosaur and my little munchkins were a pirate and a race car drive.

For our pirate costume we bought an eye patch, a hat and a sword. I painted a white shirt with blue stripes and he wore black yoga pants. The little race care driver wore a hoodie and sweatpants from American Apparel with his name on the arm, checkered flags and felt glued to the hood and down the legs. Easy peasy. They were comfy, I was comfy and candy was collected.

One day I will find all my the awesome pictures of me dressed up as a child- like the year I decided to be a sandwich..

Not sure what are doing yet for Halloween this year but right now the ideas of a pumpkin, volcano and train conductor are on the line..

Linking up with the SITS Girls Back to Blogging Challenge!
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23 September 2014

Back To School Memory

In Florida, where I grew up, the school year starts relatively early compared to the rest of the country. Usually by mid-August school is up and running, Labor Day as a starting point means nothing. I don't have many vibrant back to school memories but going back to school certainly brought special things.

For elementary school it meant popcorn on Fridays, skating parties at the local rink, hours spent at the dance studio inhaling the smell of sweat, tights, and new ballet shoes (my sister danced for many many years, my mother volunteered a lot and I ran around like a hooligan learning every hiding spot- good times). In fifth grade I was beyond excited for the first day of school because my sister had finally handed down a shirt of hers that I had been coveting for years. Oh it was a great shirt- light blue on the bottom half and navy on the top with a stripe of footprints in alternating colors across the chest. I believe it was from something fantastic like PacSun.

Middle-School brought a whole new adventure, an influx of new students, changing classes- finally having a locker. The first day of 6th grade we had to go to the gym and sit with everyone and wait for our names to be individually called to get our schedules. #awfulsystem

High-school was whatever, our 9th grade building was at a separate campus so you already knew everyone and the deal. By the time you made it to the main campus you weren't the annoying young ninth graders so it didn't matter.

My best back to school memory/story is my senior year of high-school. School started mid-August, as usual, I think around the 12th or 13th of the month. We went to our first and second days, Thursday and Friday, and then over the weekend the state of Florida was hit by a massive hurricane, Charley. School was cancelled- for almost 2 weeks. My own home didn't have power for over 8 days- the streets were filled with trees, power lines down, puddles of water. Our neat backyard turned into a forest. Thankfully my best friend lived on the same powergrid as the fire station so we moved in with her, rented a ton of movies and just waited.

Then school started again, we had a few days of classes and then boom again, another hurricane, Frances. She wasn't as bad as Charley but again- no school for a week! Things clean up a little faster this time, not as many damages- but we are still working on assignments from the first day of school.

We go back, for about another week and it happens again! Hurricane #3, Ivan. Off from school for another week.

It was crazy, one of the worst seasons Florida has ever had. The students loved it- senior year was great. We missed basically the first month of school and then we all got out in early May because we were seniors. Definitely a year I will never forget!

Linking up with The SITS Girls for the Back to Blogging Challenge!
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22 September 2014

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall! Today is the first day and now I'm all about the pumpkins, sweaters, and adorable boots. Every year I say I'm going to be adventurous and get Fall crazy but I usually end up spending my weekends curled up on the couch under a few layers of cozy blankets catching up with the fall show premieres.. (did anyone watch The Red Band Society last week? It was really good!) This year I'm going to make a solid effort to actually do some of the following things...

My Fall Bucket List for 2014:

1) Try a PSL again- everyone oohs and ahhs over this drink but honestly in the past I haven't been that excited about it. This year I will give it another solid try. I might like it or just going back to my Salted Carmel Mocha and Chai..

2) Go Apple Picking! New York has so many fantastic orchards and many are super close to the city- they tend to have mazes, homemade cider and doughnuts as well as tons of delicious,crisp apples. Now to convince my friends..

3) Make a pumpkin pie from scratch. This is one way I tend to enjoy pumpkins- in a pie. In high-school/college I used to be super ambitious and would make one from a sugar pumpkin every year- no cans in my house. Have been a bit lazier though these past few years and want to do it again, it is fun and tasty!

 (anyone else notice that my list revolves around food right now)

4) Have a wine tasting party. I still have an entire case of wine from this past spring when I helped my sister out for an event (remember this?)- what better way to enjoy it but tasting it with my friends!

5) Watch Hocus Pocus- kind of a given since it is the greatest Halloween movie in the world!

6) Find two pairs of great Fall boots. I will succeed this year, I must!
I literally just bought these from Shoemint for $30. If you are a member they are having a sale until Wednesday- first pair of shoes for $30. Sha-bam.

And that is it for now.. I don't want to go crazy, and chances are I still won't complete most of the list, but it is always nice to have goals!!

Now that Fall has officially arrived, what kinds of things do YOU want to do?
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Linking up and participating in the Back to Blogging Challenge from The SITS Girls! Check out the link-up here.

19 September 2014

Friday Rewind

I think I may be all caught up with the weeks I was gone for. It was a lot. Well almost caught up.. Once back from my trip and fully into my jet-lag, I then hopped on another plane to Florida to see my family and attend my Mama's memorial service.

The service was on a Saturday night, but I flew in Friday evening to visit with my sister and nephew. We drove over to my Uncle's house on Saturday morning with my brother-in-law to hang out with my dad, my cousin, aunt, uncle and just about everyone else. That evening lots of people came over to celebrate my grandmother's wonderful life.

We had shots of tequila, watched a fantastic slide-show and shared our favorite memories of her. Overall it was beautiful and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go. I spent the rest of evening chatting with my cousins and catching up into the wee hours of the night. Sunday brought a very early wake-up call to eat breakfast at IHOP, my grandmother's favorite restaurant. I then lounged with my family for the rest of the day and flew back to NY. That was about two weeks ago now.

For the last few weeks I've just been getting back into the swing of work, school and all things related to being home. I finally finished unpacking last Sunday, saw a good chunk of friends for a birthday brunch on Saturday and made the dreaded trip to Target for more toilet paper. And surprise! I actually only bought what was on my list for once- actually I didn't even get everything on my list. I'm still not sure how I did it...

I'm jumping back into the link-ups this week so here are my weeks five.. good and bad.

1) Good news- I just started working with Ash from The Grits Blog to start a new design for this place! I'm super excited and can't wait to see what she comes up with- I love all of her work and this blog needs a little makeover!

2) Bad news- my stress fractured leg still isn't doing anything but being a bummer. I tried to run a few times while away (short short runs of 1-2 miles) and literally the next day the throbbing was back. My marathon training at this point is non-existent. Fortunately I did a bit of research on the cancellation policy and found that if I cancel this year I will still have guaranteed entry for the 2015 marathon. So at this point that is my plan- get my leg to start healing and run it next year!

3) I'm beyond excited that Fall TV is back! I've been carefully selecting what new shows I'm going to try out (Forever, Black-Ish, Gotham, Red Band Society). And am so looking forward to all my favorites returning ( The Walking Dead, AHS, Nashville, New Girl). Also is anyone else out there watching the Outlander series on Starz? It has been more than I could have ever dreamed of- I've advocated for the book series before (because it's ah-mazing) but the show is really being well done. The characters are perfect, they are taking it slow and yeah- watch it.

4) Remember that super awesome Harry Potter/Mean Girls shirt I talked about a few months ago? well my sister got it for me for my birthday!! I was way off my sizing though so I had to send it back to get a smaller size but the new shirt is on it's way! I can't wait! Thanks Migs! 

5) My sister's wedding is only 3 weeks away!! I finally dropped off my dress to be altered (better late than never!) and my other sister and I are going over to her place next week to help finish up center pieces, favors and all sorts of wedding related shenanigans. I'm super excited for the long weekend of her wedding, seeing all our family and friends, and to just have a fantastic time!

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18 September 2014

Stitch to the Fix: Box # 4

Whew- we got through the travel recap! That could be good, or bad but either way it's done and now we are moving on.

Right when I got back from Paris, literally the day of, I also received my 4th Stitch Fix box in the mail! It was a very very nice package to come home to- I'm pretty sure I dropped all my luggage and opened it first.

Haven't heard of Stitch Fix yet? Well let me tell you- it is a pretty incredible personal stylist site. And they are awesome for several reasons...
  • They have you fill out an extensive profile all about YOUR style- what you like to wear, how you like to wear it, how you accessorize, which colors and fabrics you like .
  • You can also send them notes on specific items you are looking for or pieces you want in your box- they can't always guarentee it but they will try their absolute best!
  • Each box is filled with 5 pieces- mixes of clothes or accesories (mostly clothes)
  • You pay a $20 stylist fee (which is then subtracted from whatever you keep in your box) and then you only pay for what you keep. Items range from $25 and up- and that is also something you can make a preference, how much you want to pay.
  • If you decide to keep ALL the items in your box, you get an additional 25% off!
  • Check them out NOW!! This is a referral link- if you register you will giving me a credit, that being said Stitch Fix is not endorsing this and I am reviewing them all on my own- because they are awesome.
On to the good stuff... Now I really liked everything in my box this time (except for the last dress) it was my style, and what I had asked for but at the same time not my favorite box. I had asked for some fall pieces, now that the weather is cooling off (yay!) like cardigans and some dresses I could wear with leggings. This is what I received.

41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan- $48.00- I had asked for a cardigan, and while this one was very nice, definitely my style and would without a doubt be great for fall- I already own several navy cardigans. Kind of a standard in ones closest (at least for me). Not only do I have some normal ones, but I already even have a drapey one. Plus $48 for an item I already own was a bit overkill. I had been hoping for a more unique, fun, patterned cardigan. Maybe my next box.. this one I sent back.

Market and Spruce Alan French Terry Asymmetrical Zip Cardigan- $68.00 - This was more what I was talking about, something different, something I didn't already own and something super comfy! The cardigan is a bit heavier- kind of a fine line between a light jacket vs. sweater but super cozy and just what I was looking for. It will pair well with colorful things, a pair of leggings or even jeans. Winner!

Skies are Blue Leyla Mixed Print Cotton Mini Skirt-$58.00- I so so so adored this skirt when it came out of the box, it is not anything I would have picked up on my own but once I saw it I loved it. But to my horror- it didn't fit!! The skirt was way too tight- I'm still not even sure how I managed to put it on for the above picture (hint- it's not zipped!) I really liked it on (as much as it was on) and I did request a larger size for my next box. Hopefully they will have it!!

41Hawthorn Ashland Chevron Print Dress- $78.00- Loved this dress, it fit, looked great, is super comfy and a decent price point (a little more than I would normally spend but that is also the luxury of having it sent to you). It has great colors, could be great with a cardigan and leggings for fall or for next Spring/Summer. I am very happy with the piece it was definitely a keep!

  Pomelo Clarice Multi Stripe Knit Fit & Flare Dress - $74.00- This dressed looked nice out of the box but it fit just a bit off when I tried it. It was just okay for me, I'm not a huge black/white fan and the stripes were okay. Sent it back.

Overall the box was good, still my style- all things I would wear, just a bit off on sizing and picks. I made some more detailed notes on my review, I had really wanted some nice casual dresses that I could wear to work (sweater dresses, t-shirt dresses)- and although the above ones look casual, they were still a little too "fancy" for me. If I worked in an office they would have been great, but I don't. I run around with kids most of the day and need something even easier. I've loved all of my past boxes and still adore the service- would recommend to anyone in a drop of a hat. Looking forward to what my next box brings!!

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17 September 2014

The Secret Garden

This is it, I promise- Day 5, our last day in France.

On this beautiful day (seriously- the best weather we could have asked for) we rented a lovely little car and drove an hour to Giverny, home of Claude Monet.

Now driving here is not necessary and it would have been very easy to take a train and shuttle (that the museum provides) to also enjoy the sites. We chose to drive because it was easier with the kids, the car seats, the snacks and so on. Even that was also easy, the rental place provided us with a GPS and it was a scenic trip.

Monet- a pretty famous painter, known for his gorgeous water lilies. Monet moved to the area in the early 1880s after passing Giverny on a train. He purchased the pink house (seen in the background of the picture below) along with all the surrounding gardens in 1890. He lived in the house with his family until his death in 1926.

The gardens are still kept up to the best of the foundations ability, preserving the atmosphere and nature of the same places Monet received inspiration from.

We also visited the Impressionist Museum in Giverny which was built in the 1990s. It is a rather small museum but was wonderful to walk around. They had a great exhibit while we were there about the Impressionist movement in Brussels. If you are going to make the trip out to this area it is definitely worth stopping at- the gardens were lovely here as well and it is literally a 3 min walk from Monet's house.

And that's it! Whew! You did it- you have made it through all of my recent travel updates! I'm so proud- I thought we would never get there..

Go ahead and check out the rest of the trip - Spain 1&2, Paris Day 1,2,3,&4.
Also- if you need any fun tips for NYC- go read my guest post over at The Grits Blog!

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16 September 2014

Amusement for All

I know, I know- these Paris recaps are probably getting a bit old by now... but we did so many things in our five days and I have just too many pictures to share to cram it all in to one post. We are almost finished, I swear!

Day 4- The morning of our 4th day was spent at an amusement park that wasn't Disney. . We went to Jardin d'Acclimation, a 20-acre children's park located in the northern part of Bois de Boulogne (kind of like their Central Park).

The park was amazing and had so many things to do. It was overrun with families enjoying the weekend and the sunny weather. We spent most of our time riding the kiddie rides but we also played on one of many playgrounds, watched camels and other zoo animals and ate lunch at one of their multiple restaurants. Lunch, by the way, had a larger dessert buffet than actual lunch food.
while we were waiting to leave the boys read to each other.. aww

silly faces on the airplane ride (which was actually kind of scary!)

Both boys loved it, had a fun morning and it was pretty affordable. We only touched on a fraction of the place too, I could see if you lived in or around Paris that it would be a frequented spot with kids.

After heading back into the city I tried my absolute hardest to make it to the Catacombs, but they closed at 4 and although I made it to the location by 4 they already shut down the line. Next time, next time!

So instead I went and walked up and the down Champs Elysees, looking at all the lovely stores, the Arc de Triomphe and stopping into the original Laduree to pick up some macarons. It was fun day to people watch, sit on a bench and munch on my tasty snacks (still up in the air over which was my favorite flavor!)

I thought this store was funny- they had a whole line called "American Freshman- authentic campus clothing" featuring American universities and sports teams!

nom nom nom

That night I did almost get lost- I was meant to meet my family for dinner at 7:30 but when I got to the restaurant it was closed! Seriously panicked- thought I might have gone to the wrong spot, but they are typically late so I waited 20 minutes, started to walk back to the metro to find some sort of wi-fi to contact them or the hotel and then they should up. All was well and we found a hole in the wall place to eat.

Tomorrow: Day 5 (and the last day) at Monet's House!

And check out the rest of my trips recaps- Spain 1&2, Paris Day 1,2&3
Also- if you need any fun tips for NYC- go read my guest post over at The Grits Blog!
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15 September 2014

Gargoyles are Scary

For serious- those gargoyles can be creepy looking! Day 3 in Paris took us to the oldest part of the city and one of the most famous cathedrals in the world- Notre Dame.

Notre Dame is located on Île de la Cité- one of the two remaining natural islands on the Seine River in Paris. We spent the morning walking about and listening to the audio guide. We did not walk up into the tower- but maybe the next time I visit...

point zero in Paris- right outside the Catherdral

silly boy eating bread with a fork..

After lunch we walked a bit further through the isle to Sainte Chapelle. Sainte Chapelle is small Gothic chapel that was built between 1239-1248 to house the Passion Relics. Blink and you miss the place (besides the fact it's in a courtyard for another building)- but inside it is spectacular. Definitely a must see while in the area.

Bottom Floor

Now this is what people come to see- the second floor which is completely covered in amazing stained glass mosaic windows.

The light is amazing, the colors spectacular and view you could sit and look at for hours. The audio guide goes through each panel of glass which depicts many biblical stories.

I finished Day 3 by listening and walking through Rick Steves Historical Walking Guide which by chance started right in front of Notre Dame. I walked around the rest of the island by the famous lock bridge, across the river to see one of the oldest trees in the city as well as Shakespeare and Company.

I loved that there were so many things to do in a such a small area. It truly was amazing to turn around run into the lock bridge, then walk a block to a store where Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented often.

I also stopped along my path to buy some tasty chocolate, basically one of the best decisions of the day. I even saved a few pieces for the plane ridge back!

Check out my recaps from Spain 1&2, Paris Day 1&2. And if you want any fun tips for NYC- go read my guest post over at The Grits Blog!

Hope you all had a great weekend! 
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