There and Back


Mexico was only the third time I’ve traveled by airplane (counting the round-trip). The first was to Florida when I was super young, and I don’t remember any of it. The second was for my time in London, a lonely and anxious trip there.
Finally, Mexico. I got to sit with my boyfriend and I had a window seat! Needless to say, it was pretty great.
The best trip I’ve ever had on an airplane so far!

I mentioned this before, but I think everyone who likes taking photos wants some flight shots to add to their collection.
I’m so happy I finally have some!


Sneak peeks of ocean between the clouds!

On the way back, we flew into the nighttime. So I got some interesting photos of the sunset sky.


I can’t wait for my next plane trip, whenever it may be.


Bits and Pieces of Happy Things

Just some photos of things that have been brightening my days lately.


On a recent Michaels binge, I purchased this label maker for 3 bucks. I was nervous, because it was on clearance, it’s not the strongest looking thing, but I figured why not? It is EXACTLY what I’ve always wanted in a label maker.
So excited to go bonkers with it!


I love these men’s socks I got before Christmas. Comfortable and warm, perfect under sneakers or boots.
I only wish I could’ve gotten every color!


I love receiving snail mail. Since I started sending it out, I have gotten a few responses and, as I intended it for other people, it brightens up the depressing stacks of bills and junk. This one, from my friend Erica, included a two page letter that I can’t wait to respond to!


I’d look through past posts, but I don’t think I showcased my nail polish rack yet. To be honest, I could really use another one, because I have a lot of polish. I’m still using the lazy Susan Brad made for me, which showcases my most frequently used polishes. But I love looking over and seeing the organized bottles. It makes planning a manicure so much easier and it looks great, too!


So, both of my Instax cameras have broken in some way. The big guy bit the dust after I dropped it (on carpet, but not for the first time) and the photos wouldn’t feed out. The mini’s only flaw is that the flash doesn’t work. This means I can’t really use it in darker settings, kind of a bummer. However, I tested it out in natural light and it still looks lovely.
I guess this means I don’t need a new one, after all? Not that I’m opposed…


Since Brad set up the record player, I’ve made it a goal to get modern music into his collection, specifically my favorites artists and albums. I got these bad boys in the mail, and I can’t wait to play them. I now have both of Lana’s releases (LP and EP), Toro Y Moi’s Causers of This, Radiohead’s amazing In Rainbows, and Minus the Bear’s re-issue of Highly Refined Pirates, which is especially awesome because the record is an opaque white. My Amazon wishlist is chockfull of more albums, but they aren’t exactly the cheapest things, so I’ll slowly build the collection over time.


Valentine’s Day in Paradise


I’m not going to be one of those people who complains about Valentine’s Day. I love getting into most holidays, probably as a by-product of my sister’s enthusiasm for decorations and themed sweet treats. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, I think it’s fun to celebrate the love you have in your life. Obviously, you should do it all the time. And I don’t think you should ever have to feel obligated on one day to show that, because it usually sets you up for failure. Since I was in Riviera Maya for the holiday this year, it wasn’t a priority at all.
However, Brad had requested that we get to have dinner alone and spend some time just to ourselves.
The day started off perfectly with a nice breakfast and a flower from one of the kind waiters.


One of the “a la carte” restaurants that we were able to attend for free was a steak place, so we decided to make that our date night pick. It’s an open-air place by the pools, and it was the perfect night to enjoy the breeze. When we walked over, I got to see a full moon hanging over the ocean (I know the last picture is blurry, but I still love it) and enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing. I had to take some pictures. Brad was in line to put our names in, so I experienced this myself. It was a great moment of appreciating my life and my surroundings. 

21414(10) 21414(11)

We decided to purchase a bottle of wine, a tasty cabernet sauvignon that was perfect with our meal.
A toast, some conversation by candle light, and paradise surrounding us.
What more could you ask for on Valentine’s Day?


Recent Reads, 5/40: Real Happy Family


Before my trip to Mexico, I knew I wanted something fluffy and light to read on the beach. Of course, when you’re actually searching for a type of book to read, it can be hard. I knew I wanted something on my Kindle, to keep packing light. I also wasn’t sure whether or not I’d finish a book and need back up (I didn’t, but it was good to have backups without the excess baggage). Enter Kindle Firsts.

A while back, I joined a mailing list, as part of a Kindle Prime membership, that would allow me to choose one of four books for free before they are released the next month, every month. I haven’t downloaded one until
Real Happy Family by Caeli Wolfson Widger. The palm trees on the cover and quick description (plus the price tag) were enough to prove to me that it would be the best book for my vacation.

Real Happy Family tells the story of the Branch family and some of it’s extended members.
Since Lorelei Branch, the 22 year old daughter of Colleen and Carl, ran away, the family has been falling apart.
Carl can’t seem to keep a hold of his steadfast parenting ways as Colleen spins out of control without her daughter, her best friend. Lorelei ran to escape the embarrassing live TV antics of her mother, and it lands her in Reno with an addiction to meth. Meanwhile, Carl’s son Darren is facing small marital problems as his wife Robin (a talent agent who represented Lorelei before she disappeared) struggles to get pregnant. Once a solution to their fertility woes is found, Darren is offered the chance of a lifetime to be the director of photography for a prominent indie director. As it coincides with Robin’s most fertile moments, it causes a strain as each tries to achieve their dreams.
As the story goes on, the reader sees the immense downfalls and webs the characters get involved in.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. It was an easy read and it kept me interested. Each chapter tells the unfolding story of a different character (focusing heavily on Colleen, a stage mother unaware of her selfishness, and Lorelei, spiraling into oblivion with her addiction), and it all comes together very nicely. While the topics of addiction and infertility are dark, there is still an ease to the way the story is told.
It’s a train wreck, but you keep hoping for the light at the end of the tunnel. 


A Goodbye For Now…

Things are changing around these parts. Some of the most important people in my life have either moved away or will be moving away, and I can’t help but feel the teensiest devastated. A lot of my friends have moved…some are still within the state and some are in completely different time zones. Still, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to people leaving.
Not too far from now, Brad and I will practically be the only people left here.

Anyway, my dear friend Lauren got a job offer (so excited for her!) that is taking her to a new home in New Jersey.
She moved when Brad and I were away, so luckily we were able to squeeze in a little movie night at home and she had a little shindig at a bar, where we enjoyed food, horn music, and way too many drinks. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in a while. Of course, I enjoy an adult beverage, but I don’t usually go crazy. It was fun to act out a bit.
(All photos with the iPhone, most edited with VSCO cam)


Lauren surprised me with a painted mason jar vase filled with pretty flowers and some yummy baked treats! We laughed about the fact that her little reserved table had it’s own centerpiece. So lovely.


A toast to new ventures!


The ladies at dinner, April, Lauren, and I.


Fireball shots (yeah, when shots are involved, you know it’s going to get crazy) and the cute little band that played flawlessly. I love when the music at a bar actually compliments the vibe as opposed to overpowering it. No need to scream over this music. I got a little video of them playing. It was great.


Before I left, I had to squeeze in one more photo with just the two of us. You can tell I had some fun.

Miss you, Lauren! But I’m wishing you the best and I can’t wait to come visit your new place.


The Book That Wasn’t: A Challenge Setback


As part of my 2014 list, I wanted to start a book club. Luckily enough, my friend Katie was interested in doing the same thing! It’s a small start, just the two of us, but exciting all the same. We’ve been sharing ideas for books to read and how we can mix things up. We started with Gillian Flynn’s second novel Dark Places. The idea came from a list of books hitting the big screen this year. Since I’ve read (and greatly enjoyed) Flynn’s other two books, I was all about jumping in.

The book fits the title, as it is extremely dark.
The premise can be told without ruining it because we basically know what happened going in.
Libby Day is a 30-something woman who has lived solely off the money she received as “Baby Day”, the survivor of the gruesome murders of her two sisters and mother. Her brother, Ben, was put in jail for the crime.
She is miserable, angry, hateful, greedy, and has absolutely no people skills. Can you blame her?
As money runs low in her fund, she realizes she might have to get a job. Since she has no desire to ever work, she agrees to meet with people in a “Kill Club”, a group who obsess over and sometimes try to solve different murders that have happened over the years. Several people obsess over the Day murders and some believe Ben to be innocent. If Libby shows up, possibly sells some items of her deceased family, and talks to members, she’ll earn money. By doing that, though, she has to face her demons and wonder whether or not her brother truly is innocent.

I didn’t finish this book. It was truly upsetting for me. That being said, I think Gillian Flynn did an amazing job and the book served it’s purpose. She writes stories of true crime and mystery, and they are not fluffy or happy pieces. While I was able to push aside my fears in the past (I loved both Sharp Objects and Gone Girl), it just didn’t happen for me with this one. The tension was building and the murders are so gruesome that it was too much.

I was able to talk about the book with Katie because I flipped through the rest of the pages (I had 100 left, chump change really, but I wussed out) and did some web searching to fill in gaps. In general, because of the strong emotional impact, I can say that it was well-written. Much like Gone Girl, the book is told in two parts, with alternating chapters. Libby narrates her parts, and every other chapter tells the story of what Ben and his mother Patty went through the day before the murders. I’ve heard some people say they preferred the Libby parts best, but the Patty and Ben parts were more enjoyable, and the tension was built perfectly, even though you know the general gritty end.
Still, a mystery is being pieced together and solved, and it’s intriguing.

I really wonder how Gillian Flynn does it. I could barely read the book and it came from her mind.
Now that I’ve (mostly) read all of her books, I can say she truly is a great author who deserves the hype.
Since I didn’t finish the book, I didn’t include it in my challenge.
It’s just not fair, even if I read most of it and know what happens.

As for the book club, I think Katie and I have found book number 2! Can’t wait for our next meet up.


Riviera Maya

Vacations aren’t a frequent part of my life. Growing up, my family would head to Wildwood Crest for a few days, a not-so-long drive away. I’ve been to Ocean City, MD a couple of times since graduating high school. But still, none of it was for very long or very…exotic, I guess. When I was given the opportunity to go to Mexico with Brad and his family, I was so grateful and excited! It didn’t seem real, though, and I couldn’t believe that I would eventually be boarding a plane and landing at an all-inclusive resort as my hometown got pummeled in snow.

I don’t really know what to say about the trip…it was perfect! The weather was fantastic, the food was enjoyable, the drinks were fun, the company was great. When we first arrived, I felt like I was in a dream. Every morning, when I’d look outside of our deck or walk up to the pool area, I still felt like it couldn’t be real.
When I first knew about the trip, I couldn’t believe it. And I still can’t believe it, after being there and coming back!

Of course, I have to share some photos. I have hundreds, split mostly between my DSLR and my iPhone (I had to do some IG shots and emails to my family), so I’ll probably be talking about it for a while…


This was only my 3rd trip requiring a plane, and it’s been about 6 years since the last one. I was so happy to get the window seat! I feel like Instagrammers and photo enthusiasts have a little bucket list of pictures you need to take in your life. Photos from the window seat of a plane were definitely on mine, so I could cross that off. Here was my first view of Mexico! A lovely site after snow-covered buildings and cold roads.

114 21114(9)

The beautiful lobby of Catalonia Riviera Maya, where we were greeted with Tequila Sunrises.


Our room was on the first floor, and it was actually quite big. There were two beds, but we shared one and the other housed our suitcase and random clothes explosions and messiness. Brad took this photo of me on our deck, with the view of the pool and palm trees behind me. So beautiful.


Two big pools with swim-up bars, but the ocean was right there. I spent my first two days in these chairs, reading, drinking frozen cocktails, and swimming in clear blue water. Sigh…


So many more photos to show, but this is a little taste of the daily life. Palm trees, sunshine, clear blue water (pool or ocean), tequila-based drinks, and lounging without a care in the world.

I feel like I brought home some positivity, and I really hope to keep it with me. The fact that I got this opportunity in the first place proved that I’m super lucky and blessed, and I hope to carry that into my daily life.

*all photos taken with my Canon Rebel XSi, iPhone photos to follow!


Recent Reads, 4/40: Why Can’t I Be You?


Book #4 wasn’t originally the novel above. There was a bit of a slip up, and I plan on sharing more about that in a later post. But because of the slip up, and the nature of the faulty read, I compensated with this book I got a while ago that I knew would be the perfect fluffy read to cleanse my brain.

Why Can’t I Be You? by Allie Larkin is the epitome, to me, of a fluffy girl book.
Our narrator and protagonist is Jenny Shaw, a woman who’s seemingly got it all together, but it crumbles quickly and all at once. When she heads out of town for a conference, fresh off a break up and a series of unfortunate events, she thinks she hears someone call her name at the hotel. It turns out the woman calling after her in the elevator was actually calling for Jessie, but Jenny plays along, thinking she’ll temporarily appease this woman (close to her age) for the duration of the ride and too distraught to keep it together. Of course, it doesn’t end there. Myra, the woman who called to her, and her friends all believe she is Jessie Morgan, their best friend who disappeared immediately after graduation.
Jenny, sick of not knowing who she is and working to please other people, goes with it, full-force.

The book was an easy read, a mindless escape. I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell Jenny was thinking…I mean, really? How can you pretend to be someone else for so long, to string along these friends who are basically family? In a way, I know they are searching for someone they lost, just as she is searching for someone she never knew (herself). Still, I don’t think her tough upbringing and introverted ways should be justification for the con.

Still, it’s nice to read a book that’s fun yet holds a bit of intrigue. Who is Jessie Morgan? Why did she leave in the first place? Will her friends ever find out about the real Jenny Shaw? Etc.


Well, Hello!


Pardon my disappearance for the last week or so…I never got to share much about it here on the blog, but I joined Brad’s family in Riviera Maya, Mexico for several days and it. was. amazing. I wanted to write up a little post before I left, but time just flew and before you know it, I’m already back from trip!

There’s so much to share, so much I’m behind on. Recent reads, craft projects, good times with friends, and, of course, a ton of photos and stories about my time in Mexico! It was only my second time out of the country and it was…just fantastic. We actually left at the perfect time, too, missing out on epic snow storms back in our hometowns. Though it was rough saying goodbye, I decided to focus on the positives. I’ve missed painting my nails and working on my Project Life. I’ve missed my family and I’ve missed writing on my blog! It’s freezing, and I miss paradise, but there’s loads to keep me occupied at home and tons of reasons to be happy.

If I sound a little crazy positive, it’s because I am right now! The vacation proved to be rejuvenating and a great reminder of how blessed I am to live the life I do. It’s time to go hard on everything I love.
I hope the motivation lasts…

Look forward to a bunch of posts in the next few days!


Super Craft Sunday

So, I don’t really care much for sports. I enjoy a live baseball game or hockey game, but I’m often not even paying attention to the action and just enjoying the atmosphere. Same goes for the Super Bowl. I don’t really care about the game, but I love eating tons of wings and dips and the commercials and halftime show (if they are decent).
This year, Paulina and I decided to do some crafting while the guys watched the Super Bowl (kind of).
Paulina bought a bunch of ceramic mushrooms and we painted them with acrylic paints. Brad joined in and did a pretty awesome and elaborate mushroom house. He doesn’t really care about sports, either. I like that about him.


How awesome is Brad’s?
I wish I had taken a photo of our end results. Paulina made two really cool ones.


I did this purple gradient, but I ended up adding some silver glitter paint to the top and bottom of the mushroom, just to add a little oomph, so that still isn’t the finished product.

As with any craft, I get a little overwhelmed. Sometimes I have a vision, and that makes it a little easier to just go for it. Other times (most times), I have to start from scratch. But painting is such a fun, distracting activity. I made the darkest purple mixing paints and was pleased with the result. Not every item will turn out the way you want, but it’s fun to try!


Project Life: And we’re off!!

Now that a new month has begun, that means it’s time to start constructing the first month and pages of my Project Life binder! I have been anxious (in a good and a bad way) for this time to come and it’s finally here!
I’ve talked about my preparation for this pr0ject on the blog a few times so far.
You can read about that here and here.
Pictures were printed and picked up on Saturday.
The photo pages have been opened and inserted into the book.
Now, I just have to construct it!


The first thing I did was go through all of my printed photos and date them on the back.
To change this/make this easier this month, I’ve started saving them in my PLFebruary folder with the dates on the photo. It will definitely help me tell a story of each day or week.


After adding all of the photo pages from the big packet, I started to go through my Sunshine Core Kit to find with cards I wanted to use for my first (and last, though I only picked a couple) page. This is the most fun, but also most stressful, part. I want the pages to flow but there are also so many different designs and colors that it’ll be hard not to throw everything in and just go crazy!


Finally, I added some photos from the first few days of the year and some notes about it. The journaling cards are filled with my general goals for the year with this project and what any reader should expect to see a lot of in the book.
(Even though it will mostly be me and my family and friends.)


This is what I’ve got so far.
I have to say, doing this is making me want to have a lot more cohesive photos for this month. I think it will be easy, especially with my trip to Mexico next week! And it will help with page construction because they literally will tell a better story. Some pages are going to have a theme, such as monthly reads and nail art.

This Recollections rounded corner punch might be my best purchase of the year so far.

I don’t plan on using it for every photo, but I love the look it gives.
It also helps the book flow, since all of the cards in the kit are rounded off.
I was worried that I would screw up the photos, but this awesome tool makes it basically impossible.
If you’re in the market for one, check it out at Michaels!