Saturday, March 31, 2012

Honestly Me.

Honesty is something we all battle, isn't it? If we're too honest we hurt people's feelings or seem irresponsible and maybe even a little self-obsessed. If we're not honest enough people think we're snobby or stand offish. Where is this delicate balance that keeps us truly ourselves without bringing down anyone's wrath?

I was discussing this with Candy the other day. And here's what I've pinpointed in my own life. I'm a blogger with an active facebook and twitter account. I share my flaws, every silly, ridiculous thing I do, even occasionally my make-up-less face but somehow people still don't really think I'm being honest...or maybe it's not that people think I'm lying so much as that I have this additional, secret life.

For the past four years I have lived my life as an open book. I've shared about my struggle with IBS, the hardship of enduring the public criticisms of my Dad's job, my financial downfalls and successes, my weight loss journey, and a slew of personal moments. All of that and at the end of the day people still want to read between the lines.

Who am I secretly dating? What's REALLY going on with my Dad's job? Where was I actually at on Friday night? Which friend was which blog post about? Is every tweet or facebook status I write really about someone else? When I post song lyrics are they really about my secret love life?

I hate to disappoint you all with my epic failure at being that kind of interesting...but this is it. What you see and read here IS me. I'm quirky and clumsy. I'm passionate. I'm more than a little whiney, totally OCD, and extremely goal oriented. When I say I want to be single right now I don't actually mean I'm on a husband hunt and naming my future children. When I say that I love living in Tampa but want to see the world - that's what I mean. When I write about my adventures or misadventures that is the way I see them.

I reserve the right to withhold info on two things: my dating life and details that aren't mine to give. Things are always crazy with my family and the football world and I can't always give you the intimate details of that. I go on dates - some good, some bad ...but it's rarely fair to expose the innocent or not-so-innocent young gentlemen who take me out. I wrote perhaps too openly about my last serious relationship and since then I've taken a big step back. Some things belong to me.

I keep very few secrets because in my experience, they're hard too keep. If you choose to keep secrets choose your secret keepers with care. For me, I find it's easier not to have them. Then when people talk about you (and we all know that's unavoidable) at least they aren't revealing anything you wouldn't have shared yourself. While I think it's fair to reserve the right to say 'that's not your business' on certain issues, I've saved myself a lot of headaches by not trying to block people from my life.

This is me. I've never pretended to be perfect. I don't want to be on anyone's pedestal. I don't want to be your hero or savior. I don't desire to be in the spotlight or to be the talk of the town. What I want is to be open and honest.

There's a catch to this though. When people ask me about blogging this is where I take the time to caution them. When you're real about your life it welcomes people's opinions, good or bad. People will take this opportunity to love you or judge you as often as they like. I've been fortunate enough that I've made far more friends than enemies and while people like to make the occasional anon post about the fact that I've read Harry Potter and I call myself a Christian - for the most part my experience with blogging has been positive.

I'd be lying if I said I don't care what people think, because I do. Naturally, I want people to be pleased with me and I enjoy the encouraging words more than the criticisms. But you take the good with the bad. When you share your life with other people you'll get a whole range of responses. At the end of the day you have to filter them and remember who's opinions matter most.

So for all my fellow bloggers who are putting themselves out there on a regular basis - you have my respect as well as my love. It's tough to be honest these days and it's not always rewarded. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of your worlds and to know you. I also commit to believe that you are who you say you are and not to make up whole alternate lives for you.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Club Friday - The Paris Wife.

I haven't linked up for Book Club Friday in a hot minute so I thought this week, while I will be out of town on Friday anyway, would be the perfect opportunity!

The Paris Wife was book number 24 for me in 2012 and a refreshing break from the 1-2 star Kindle reads of late. I marked it a 4 star read on Goodreads after finishing it before work on Wednesday morning (I hate when library due dates are looming over my head going into a vacation).

This fictitious story about Ernest Hemingway and his first (of four) wives, Hadley, fascinated me. I've read about half of Ernest Hemingway's published work including: The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and I believe the Sun Also Rises (sounds familiar but I'm not positive I've read it). Having read his work I would have pictured his personality almost exactly as author Paula McClain writes him - dramatic, dark, selfish, and brooding.

Well written and strikingly realistic for that time period, in Paris, I found this book really enjoyable. Not a light, summery beach read by any means but a true literary work of art. I found is refreshing she didn't try to paint Hemingway as a favorable light but rather played into what we know of his dark, alcoholic lifestyle. Also, the way she carries you from his first wife towards who will later be his second wife is believable and gracefully composed.

A story of life, love, betrayal, infidility, alcoholism, and the artist plight - McClain really impressed me with this one. I also enjoyed the inclusion of other writers I admire from Fitzgerald (of The Great Gatsby) to Gertrude Stein.

Amazon describe it this way:

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

It's ok... be really excited for pedicures tonight. be sure that the ladies at the pedi shop are talking about me when they speak in other languages. Fine, my feet are awful - say your worst. be getting pedi's and eating sushi tonight instead of preparing for my trip, la di da. be unable to leave a dirty or messy house because you'll spend the whole trip thinking about coming back to it. want to be away, with your best friend, pretending everything hard in your life doesn't exist. be glad you have another trip next weekend, so you won't cry as hard when this one ends. care more about which books you're going to pack then what you're wearing. think it's really odd you quit dying your hair in December and it's been growing out the same color you use to dye it. I feel like that's probably unhealthy in some way. refuse to spend more than 20 bucks on a haircut. feel really good about yourself every time you update your progress on Goodreads. hate laundry, the dentist, and getting other people's pet's hair on you. (random list, I know but this is MY it's ok Thursday and I'll do what I want!) fail. Sometimes we all fail at this, that or the other thing and that's ok. forgive without being able to forget. Forgiving is sometimes a process and a series of choices to continue to let go. crave change. Sometimes we all just want a change of pace. take medicine when you need it. It doesn't make you weak. (this is really just for me because I'm a freak). buy yourself fresh flowers from time to time. want a maxi dress even though you're too short to look good in one. wish you didn't have a big head because then you could look cute in a fedora. I'm wearing one anyway in Haiti. Watch out! call your (male) neighbor to break into your house because you're worried your straightner is on. be misunderstood. care what other people think (we all do). feel honored when people tell you, you look like your parents - my parents are good lookin folks! miss your family every day but be thankful for a life you love, far away. need therapy and a support group to survive the departure of your best friend to another state (tear).

Love, B

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For the Love of Books.

I have been a reading fool so far this year. I set out to read 50 books this year and I'm already crushing that goal, being almost halfway through in March. I am apparently 12 books ahead of schedule, or 22% if you prefer.

I committed and shared here that one of my goals for 2012 is to get through some of the books I've been putting off. I've been checking those off book by book on both my Kindle and at home bookshelves. But perhaps the most fun has been passing them along. A week ago now I finished the book 'American Wife' and after seeing via Goodreads that Amber was wanting to read it, I dropped it in the mail to her.

There are very few books that once read I will ever read again. With so many books available and more being written every day I just don't find that I want to go back and cover the same territory. I already feel like I will never have enough days in a year or years in my life to cover all the literary ground I desire. So, swapping books is a great way to get fun, fresh reads and keep your shelves from going stale.

In my mailbox in the last week I've gotten this book from Amber:

Listen to this from Amazon:

In 1977, pregnant Genevieve Russell disappeared. Twenty years later, her remains are discovered and Timothy Gleason is charged with murder. But there is no sign of the unborn child.

CeeCee Wilkes knows how Genevieve Russell died, because she was there. And she also knows what happened to the missing infant, because two decades ago she made the devastating choice to raise the baby as her own. Now Timothy Gleason is facing the death penalty, and she has another choice to make. Tell the truth, and destroy her family. Or let an innocent man die in order to protect a lifetime of lies…

Um, let me guess - you want to read it next? ; ]

And this one from MK:

Literature according to Amazon:

In his 14th book, bestselling author Nicholas Sparks tells the unforgettable story of a man whose brushes with death lead him to the love of his life. After U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman buried in the dirt during his tour of duty in Iraq, he experiences a sudden streak of luck -- winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph -- his lucky charm.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can't seem to get the woman in the photograph out of his mind and he sets out on a journey across the country to find her. But Thibault is caught off guard by the strong attraction he feels for the woman he encounters in North Carolina - Elizabeth, a divorced mother -- and he keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate love affair, his secret soon threatens to tear them apart -- destroying not only their love, but also their lives. Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, THE LUCKY ONE is an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.

I'm SO excited because after reading reviews and seeing the stars pop up on Goodreads I can't wait to read both. Also they seem like perfect vacation reads. So as I was packing, I added these to my carry on. Hoping for some quality reading time on both of my upcoming trips.

Who's in favor of putting together a summer reading list and/or doing a summer book swap? I know I'm not the first to come up with the idea but I've loved each one I've participated in AND I've found some of my favorite bloggers through swaps. If I put one together would any of you be interested?

Love, B
Ps: If you have a Goodreads account and we're not friends yet, add me. I love seeing what people are reading and if I own something you're interested in, you might just get mail!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Weekend Continued and New Purchases.

Note: this post contained self taken, mirror pics. If you're annoyed by these you may want to skip today's post.

Saturday I headed across the bridge to St. Petersburg, FL to cookout with my sweet friend Daniel. Daniel moved to Texas a few months ago and even though that stinks for me, I'm so happy for him and his amazing job there. Daniel has been an incredible friend to have and I miss having regular fro yo. But it was great catching up with him, meeting his family, and playing games with his friends (even though I normally hate games I lose).

I also did a little babysitting Saturday, and I'm getting SO close to having all the money for both of my home projects. I'm so proud, I've done it in about half the time I planned on and even that was ambitious! So exciting. May 1st can't come quick enough....I'm ready for fresh painted walls and new countertops.

Sunday after church Jess and I went to see the Hunger Games. I'm of course on team Peeta, but will happily kiss Gail any day of the week. You know, to comfort him and all.

(image from Vanity Fair)

I had heard mixed reviews from people who had read the books but Jess and I were in full agreement, the movie was great! I was most impressed with the casting - I thought they did an amazing job of picking characters and I was grateful the acting was well done (not Twilight like, as I had feared).

I would LOVE to be a made up extra in the capitol in the future films, please. The makeup and outfits were really fun. If I could do eye makeup like that I might actually spend money on eyeshadows.

I was home a total of about 3 waking hours this weekend but I while I was there I was trying to determine what I'll be wearing this weekend AND I purchased a few new things while Jess and I were having our girls day on Sunday. I wanted to share a few items/ideas (hince my picture warning)...

I snagged this shirt at the Nordstrom Rack during triple points week (it was March 14-18th) - planning to pair it with skinny jeans and boots or wedges (it's long, although you can't hardly tell here).

Since it's already 90 degrees daily in Tampa, I figured it was time to add some fun springy color to my wardrobe for the year. Jess helped me pick out this fun scarf at TJMaxx (please excuse my early morning, very tired looking face).

I need a new bag like a hole in my head but I couldn't resist this inexpensive flash of color:

Still holding out hope my groupon scarf will come this week before I leave but it's looking more like that may be for next weekend, in NC. We shall see.

I still need to invest in a few pairs of fun wedges for spring. What's on your shopping list this spring? What plans are you looking forward to this weekend?



Monday, March 26, 2012

Tampa Bloggers Meetup/Friday Recap.

After a rough week that included getting sick on Thursday and passing out early in hopes of a quick recovery, I was a little worried about my busy weekend that was still ahead. I woke up super early Friday morning to prepare for our first in-home blogger meet up. I of course wanted it to be a smashing success since I was the one who pitched the idea of moving the meet ups into our homes AND volunteered to host the first one.

I LOVE this group of girls. I really do. One of my favorite things about blogging is how many incredible people it's brought into my life from all over Tampa, Florida, the US, and heck even around the world (shout out to Cafe Moka). I've been able to meet many of them in real life recently and will meet 2 more in NC in a few days, and Leanna when I head to DC in May.

For the meet up I made Cookies & Creme Brownies & Cherry Chip Cookies (Aubs gave me the mix and I was crying into the mixing bowl about her departure while I made them):

I happily spent all week (well bits and pieces of everyday, really) preparing the house for the girls to come over. Isn't it funny how all the sudden you become self conscious about what everyone will think of your house when in all likelihood they don't care if you dusted or not? Or maybe that's just me.

Friday was a crazy day. Lucky for me, I got to have lunch with Toni and Pat @ Wrights. If you live in Tampa and haven't had Wrights you're clearly insane and you should go eat a piece of cake ASAP. I spent all week looking forward to great fellowship and good food with theses ladies. Actually it was more like a month of looking forward to it since we scheduled it weeks in advance.

It was everything I'd dreamt of. Those ladies are incredible and my time with them left me feeling uplifted and positive, while I recovered from a few good belly laughs. I hope we'll be able to make it a VERY regular date. Good food and good friends are the perfect combo, don't you think?

My work had 'fro yo Friday' and we went to my all time favorite place in South Tampa: Yogurtology. Of course I'd just had Wrights so I was far from starving but I managed to make a little room for yogurt anyway (my hips are probably not thanking me now). It was fun to get out of the office and catch up with coworkers about life, family, and let's be honest - The Hunger Games.

So anyway, back to the blogger meetup... I also really wanted my new table to look cute so I put a lantern complete with a lit candle on the table:

(if you're my friend on facebook and your officially sick of pictures of my table already - sorry!)

I was talking aloud about all of the things I want to do to or buy for my home with my Mom a week or so ago. A couple days later I got a text from her that she would happily buy me a table for my balcony as a gift. This is the one I picked up and brought home a few days later (from the 3rd HomeGoods I went too). I'm so pleased with it. I sent my Mom this picture to which she responded: 'Becca it's beautiful!!! Love it!! ESP the candle!' (yes, with that much excitement in her overuse of exclamation points). I have the most amazing parents!

Everyone did a great job of bringing food and it was delicious! I grazed all night (which won't surprise many of you). Nichole made amazing meatballs (which I'm still eating leftovers of). I could have single handedly eaten all of Jlo's dip. I had 2 (smallish) plates of desserts so I managed to try pretty much everything! So thank you ladies for bringing such delicious food. Turns out I wasn't the only one to use pinterest to pick what I cooked!

Nichole & Jlo

Lauren & I

Me, Nichole, and Jess

My love, Jess & I (I still adore that dress on you slash might need to borrow it)

Group shot! (there should be more of those to come but this is the closest I got to one on my phone)

Lane & Jess

Here is the list of who all came (someone tell me if I forgot someone!):


It was such a fun night and I'm glad all you ladies could come over. Looking forward to our next meetup in a month or two!



Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Time to Take Care of Yourself.

I'm all for wearing yourself for a cause. I've been working tons of extra hours to pay for a few big projects on my townhome. It will all be worth it when it comes together in the beginning of May. In the meantime, I also recognize that it's important to take a timeout from killing yourself (even for a legit purpose) to recover, rest, and enjoy yourself with some down time or with friends.

Thursday night I was supposed to work late but it ended up being cancelled. Normally I'm not a fan of cancelled plans but after many nights in a row of working late, I jumped at the chance to give myself a little mental and phyical TLC. I printed off this at home facial guide from It was full of great ideas for ways to give yourself a facial with products you have around the house. Sugar as an exfoliant? Oatmeal for calming? Perfection.

My sister use to have a client who worked for Burt's Bees and while she was working with him she got be TONS of great products that I have fallen in love with. So every once in a while when I've had a week from you-know-where I pull down the box of em and go to town. I always feel better afterwards.

So my suddenly-free-and-clear Thursday ended up being an at home spa night for me followed by watching 27 dresses, in bed, and turning out the lights before 9pm! Of course, before that I had to put the finishing touches on the house for Friday night's festivities with the Tampa Blogger Gals (more on that very soon).

In the spirit of taking care of yourself, few weeks ago Amazonlocal had a deal for $10 pedicures a few streets down from me. I quickly shot a text message to my friend Jessica and asked her to buy one too. It's time to get our toes ready for spring. Ok fine, this is Florida and our toes never really get put away, but you get the idea. It's a fun, inexpensive way for us to spend time together and get pampered! We both love pedi's (and sushi - which I later texted her to see if we could add to the docket) so it was a win-win.

With 2 trips coming up I'm excited about, I decided they were a worthwhile reason to pamper myself (mostly so I don't arrive looking dead). I got my eyebrows threaded yesterday (Saturday afternoon), one of my favorite splurges. It's the best 10 bucks a girl with eyebrows like mine (or my lack of tweezing skills) can spend. It also keeps me from having to spend time and energy on them for 4-6 weeks at a time. One less thing to worry about it.

So, Thursday Jessica and I are cashing in our amazon coupons for pedis at Classic Nails (on Neptune). I splurged on two OPI colors from Nordstrom Rack a few weeks ago also, so, I might even take my own color, for the first time ever. Afterwards we get to indulge in some sushi ( we LOVE Soho Sushi) before I head home to pack for a Friday morning departure for the burg!

What do you do when you need to take care of yourself? What's your go-to pampering? And if you're going to splurge on yourself, what do you pick?


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Travel Fashion & Purchases.

I love love love to pack because it means I'm going somewhere. I love picking out my outfits, planning what I'll wear to which place, which bags to carry...I even enjoy trying to get the most out of what I pack. I make packing an art.

I leave Friday for 3.5 days in Indiana/Kentucky with my bestie. Afterwards I will be back in Tampa from mid-morning Monday til first thing Friday morning, when I will depart again for Raleigh, NC to spend Easter with my sisters, bro-in-law, and niece (Noa). So my head has been swimming with ideas of what to pack.

I'm hoping to sport a few new things I've bought but haven't yet worn.

I bought the scarf on the left from Collection XIIX - when they were featured on Groupon Goods. The color is called cerulian blue and I loved it. I'm crossing my fingers it arrives sometime next week so that I can wear it in the midwest over the weekend. I like the way the girl in the middle wears the scarf more than the girl with the color I bought, though.

I snagged a pair of neon yellow sneakers while at Target the other day. I swear everytime I'm there I buy something that isn't on my list. They were only a couple bucks. They're wicked comfortable too! I'm thinking they may be just right for travel! I like to have my feet covered in case it's cold on the plane but I like things that are easy on, easy off for security purposes. Slip on sneakers with no laces? Perfection!

I'm picturing them with loose fitting rolled jeans and a casual grey top - thoughts?

This trip I may also try out my new overnight bag as a carry on. I believe I've shared it before but it looks like this:

I bought this at Nordstrom Rack a few weeks back and was going to take it to Tally until my trip was cancelled. So it still has the tags on it and it's gathering dust in my closet next to my old and faithful Coach carry on. But hopefully for only a few more days!

My weekend in Indiana will be low key - consisting of our typical Roadhouse dinner, twin 2 year old's birthday party, church, and lazing around soaking up the awesomeness that is my best friend. So I will most likely pack jeans, tees, sneaks, and pjs and call is a day.

My weekend in Raleigh will be low key as well but since it's Easter Sunday I will have an excuse to dress up. I managed to find a pic I uploaded the day I found the dress I'm going to wear (remember that time I had a makeover on TV and they dyed my hair burgundy? Yeah, this picture is from then):

I need you all to take a vote now, though. I'm torn between combining is with teal or coral accessories and cardigan. I have some of each - but I would probably invest in a cardigan in whichever color we determine. So - votes please!

I can't wait to post Easter pictures with my niece! You're in for a treat - she's darling.

Ok, much more to think about. But I had to share a little of what I'm thinking about for packing. Suggestions are always welcomed. Anyone else have fun spring trips coming up? Anyone else want to shop like they're going somewhere cool this spring even if they're not?


Friday, March 23, 2012

The Land of Good Intentions.

Note: I also have a post up on the Beautiful Blog today. Check me here.

I read a blog post by author Jen Hatmaker the other day called, 'On Empty'. This quote jumped right off the page at me:

God isn’t going to magically restore healthy rhythms and boundaries in my life without my cooperation. He never asked me to spread too thin or nurture unhealthy habits or try to live up to some reputation. He didn’t say, “Do more. Do everything.” Those are on me. I did that. That’s my pride and selfishness and ego and ambition rising up, trampling down the beloved things, the necessary things.

I finished the post and had to smile at what Leslee, my bible study leader, describes as that moment when you feel like 'God is reading your mail'...

I am a doer. I go hard all day, every day. I challenge myself to do more, know more, to learn more, to write more, to love more...always more. But what I needed reminding of is that it's ME who puts this pressure on, not the Lord. God doesn't expect perfection. He doesn't expect that I can achieve 10 times what everyone else does, while going on less sleep and being a better friend. I put those unrealistic expectations on myself.

Hard work is important. Working with excellence is important. Making time for what matters should be a priority. Somewhere among seeking to do all of these well, I lost sight of the Lord's desire for me to do everything as unto HIM and started making it about me.

During a small group discussion a few weeks back (our group is studying Romans currently) we were discussing things that we sometimes miss as being sin, or make sinful. It was out of my mouth before I realized what I was about to confess...I work hard, which is a great biblical trait...but for who? The sin isn't my hard work, the sin is where my motivation lies. I like the praise, I like the glory, and often times I lose sight of who my work is to honor.

I have taken good, godly things and made them 'me things'. This is where the error lies. After reading Jen's blog post and considering how 'on empty' I've been feeling lately I'm actually pleased to realize yet again, that the problem is me. Time to take a time out from my over achieving ways and refocus.

I share this in hope that if you've been running on empty lately, maybe you're getting in your own way as well. Maybe it's time to step back and realize that the Lord didn't call us to wear ourselves out completing tasks. Be diligent with your time but make time to just be still and know that He is God. Now, I supposed I best get off here and practice my preaching.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

I'm glad this post has become a favorite to many of my readers (and facebook friends). It is the one blog post I don't have to put much thought or effort into, because it comes naturally - I have plenty of quirks to go around. And so, without further ado...

Its Ok Thursdays

It's ok... take your parents up on their generous offers to help you, with just about anything. go to bed before 9pm some nights. wear entirely too much black (I recently got a spam e-mail about being a goth that made me think someone has reported me for all the black I wear) keep a 3 deep stash of everything from shampoo to hand soap to candles and books. I do not like to be caught unprepared. be proud of yourself for getting rid of cable because it's inspiring you to use your time and money wisely. clean for company with 5 minutes here and there, some weeks are that way. have a giant crush on Ethan from Something Borrowed. double fist your caffeine some mornings. be counting down the days til each of your upcoming trips. make days in advance. be thrilled to have your eyebrows done this weekend and a pedi with a friend next week. LOVE game nights. be excited for the first cookout of the season this weekend. make packing lists for all your trips and then go rogue with your packing at the last minute. eat pretzel m&ms before 10am. listen to the same 2-3 songs on itunes over and over for days (this week: part of me by Katy Perry and Wild Ones by Flo Rida and Sia) HATE e-mail. fill up your online shopping baskets and then click out.

Whew, glad of these things are ok...aren't you? ; ]


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Getting Over Myself.

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. After finding out my best friend would be moving to Texas (she leaves this Friday) a few weeks ago, I just can't seem to stop being in a sad, whiney, funk. I've kept at all of my normal (and not so normal tasks) and I've tried to use my sadness to fuel productivity (read: my house is quite clean) but somehow I just can't quite get back to feeling like myself.

One of these days when I'm not so tearful I will write more about my sweet Auburn, but I'm just not there yet. For now, I've determined that in an effort to 'get over myself' I need to put my energy into other people. Moping around the house feeling sorry for myself just isn't doing anyone, including me, any good. It's fair that I'm sad, obviously. But it's not ok to be a useless, crying blob. And so...

After crying all night in my bathrobe cleaning my house (if you feel the need, you can white glove my room right now) after saying bye to her last night, I woke up this morning with a renewed sense of purpose. I set out to be a thoughtful friend this year and it's time to throw even more effort into that. I started two projects this morning for a friend who's also going through a challenging time right now, of a different sort. I put one in the mail over lunch and the next will go out in thew next few days (with input on the project from several friends and a coworker).

Since I didn't get to see my cousin this weekend, I've determined I will send him the present I got him at school (I don't think he reads this so I should be safe sharing that). I was really bummed that our hangout time was cut off by unavoidable circumstances - but I hope that my gift will brighten his week and get him excited to see me in DC in a few months.

I took the time over the last few weeks to finish up a few books and pass them on to friends (mostly blog world friends) to freshen up their reading collections as well. Swapping books is so fun and motivating to those of us trying to hit goals this year.

And so, I apologize for those of you who have been dealing with my funk but be encouraged - the end is in sight.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Recap.

Hey friends,

How were your weekends?

Mine was busy as usual but not what I expected. Through a series of unfortunate events my family didn't end up coming to Tally this weekend so I stayed here, in Tampa. That was a bummer but I'm seeing them in May in DC, so not too much longer to wait.

Instead I got a few things done around the here...

After going to three seperate HomeGoods stores I finally found a table and chairs for my balcony. Ta da:

(this is clearly taken in my garage, please excuse the not awesomeness of that)

I went a little crazy at Bath & Body works stocking up on hand soap and wall flowers (the only things I use from there - but I am committed!). They had a killer sale and thanks for Kari for telling me on twitter- I went and got my stash for the next 6 months to a year. Whew.

I also hit up Nordstrom Rack for triple point week (since I've been working so hard I thought I'd treat myself). My favorite purchase was this green top (though it looks very teal in the pic):

On Saturday night I went to the Lightning game with my sweet friend Jessica and her fiance Mike. Unfortunately I was not good luck this time around the the lightning had a rough game but we had a great time and afterwards we met up with my neighbor, Edmund, at the Brick House for a bit...

Sunday I got to enjoy a game night (well, day) with my friends and I won at both spades and poker. Everything's more fun when you win, right?

I'm furiously savings for my home projects & trying to work on getting my house cleaned up to host the Tampa Blogger Gals for dinner on Friday night. So exciting! Big week ahead - some good, some bad. But I hope to be around the blog some, as well.

Happy Monday.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Goals - Update #2.

Well loves, it's mid-March and time to think about how far I've come with my goals and how far I have yet to go. Over frozen yogurt with a friend a few weeks back I made the comment, 'I think people are only uncomfortable growing older if they aren't where they thought they would be in life at this point'. He stared at my a little blankly at first and then agreed, I'm totally right. Turning 25 was a celebration for me, not scary in the least because I was achieving everything I'd hoped too by 25. My life is on track.

I attribute a large portion of this success to making goals. I'm intense about anything I set my mind too and so, if I focus that energy it's a powerful beast. That is the point of goal making, for me. It helps me stay focus my energy and efforts for the maximum results.

So, let's celebrate that I have finished 21 books towards my 50 book goal. That's an incredible start to a promising year, don't you think? I'm almost halfway to a lofty reading goal in MARCH! I'd also like to share I'm loving it. I realized the other day when I logged into my DVR to see how many shoes I need to watch and delete before I turn in my cable box next week and realized I haven't watched TV since February 27th. And I don't miss it. Another great reason to ditch cable and use that $85 a month towards something greater.

Plans for Haiti are going better than I could have hoped or planned. I depart April 21st, so this goal has a deadline. But my passport and shorts are done, my bills are paid, and I've even started laying out a few things to pack. I'm grateful to my friends who have rallied with money and supplies for my trip to help get me ready! are truly a blessing to me.

My DC plans are coming together and my spending money is already put aside so that I can take the city be storm! And while I'm there I get to meet one of my favorite bloggers - Leanna!

My secret goal #8 is in the works and I feel great about it...maybe I'll be able to share more about that soon.

I have been writing up a STORM including letters - so that is a go.

I need to be more diligent in my weight loss goal (I'm down over 5 lbs but I'm kind of plodding along lately) and I haven't been working on my book. Gr. Must get on track with that.

I'm killing my budgeting/savings goals and expect that this year will really improve my standings all around in that area. Feeling great about it. And it's allowing me to do some big things.

How are your goals for 2012 coming along and is there some way I can help encourage you?


Friday, March 16, 2012

For the Love of Dave.

“The silly marketing America fall for has resulted in this: We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”
- Dave Ramsey

One of my favorite 'davisms' is 'Act your Wage'. If you read blogs (other than and including mine) and you social network at all than you have witnessed firsthand that we are not a society that acts our wage. American's are constantly buying things they can't afford. Arguably you can't afford anything you can't pay for. I will go ahead and say that I consider houses to be the exception. Many of us will not be able to buy a house in cash in our lifetimes, even if we are financially responsible. That's not to say it's impossible, however.

Cars are a prime example of people not acting their wage. If you buy a $28,000 (which amazingly, isn't uncommon) and you make less than that in a year, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure your car is outside your means. Now, I realize many people don't buy into saving and paying cash for cars but as Dave says, most people are broke.

Here's what I've really come to terms with in the last few years - I don't want to be normal. I don't want to drown in student loans (even though I want an MBA badly). I don't want to pay for anything multiple times over by paying interest on it. I'd rather do without then set myself for financial failure.

I have learned that this will mean people don't understand you, criticize you, tease you, and be annoyed by you. I've had to say no to certain things, in order to say yes to more important ones. I've had to wait for what I want. I've had to stop spending when the money in that catagory runs out. I have had to sacrifice...but it's for a purpose.

I own my car, my clothes, and my education. I no longer owe anyone a single cent for them, so they are really, truly mine. I'm on track to pay my house off around the time I turn 40 which sounds far away but would actually be quite young. I have an emergency fund which does not include a credit card or borrowing from my parents. And I will be able to buy my next car in cash (since paying off my last car, I have been saving a 'car payment' every month to ensure this).

Let me pause here to say that I do not make a ton of money. You will not see my name on any 100 richest 20-somethings lists. What I do is tell my money where to go. And I pay the Lord and then myself, always. Dave calls it 'paying yourself first' (savings) but I'm a firm believer in paying myself second. I give the first portion of my money away (called: tithe) and then I pay myself. After that I pay my bills and later I get to spend.

Learning and living discipline isn't easy but it is rewarding. I budget for what I want and I save. I keep a travel fund so I can see my family, friends, and a little of the world from time to time. I budget for clothes because lets be honest, I'm going to buy them. I budget to constantly be doing little things around my house, because I love it. But I am very much acting my wage.

I love, love, love this quote:

“You must walk to the beat of a different drummer. The same beat that the wealthy hear. If the beat sounds normal, evacuate the dance floor immediately! The goal is to not be normal, because as my radio listeners know, normal is broke.” - Dave Ramsey

I have committed to not be normal. Normal is lazy. Normal is broke. Normal demands things it hasn't earned and can't pay for. So if you're eating Ramen noodles to carry $500 handbags, I've been there, but do yourself a favor and look long and hard at where that lifestyle is getting you. Your friends may be jealous of your pricey pieces or extravagant vacations but you'll be jealous of them when you're paying for your mistakes (usually, at least twice).

I will leave you with this sobering fact: 60% of bankruptcies filed are by people under the age of 30. (source) I'd say that's proof enough it's time to start acting our wage.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

This one might be a little all over the place....

It's ok...

...if your friends mock you for working too hard and spending too little. always be planning ahead for your life. constantly be studying, even if you're not a student. Budgets, taxes, real estate, investments, plumbing....ya know. take pictures of yourself sometimes, when there's no one else around to do it. read more than one book at once. unfollow people on twitter. Some people live in fear of this...but if people shamelessly self promote or never say anything of substance, I unfollow them. (and if you think I do the same and you unfollow me, I promise not to be offended) miss football season. turn your phone on silent and ignore it from time to time (let's be real, I don't actually turn it off) ask for a to go cup at resturants after a meal. overtip in an attempt to make someones day. have the best parents in the world. have made the giant faux pas of calling .08%, 8 percent to your Dad and made him think you put your money in some sketchy fund. forfeit clothes for home improvements. sell stuff on craigslist to fund said home projects. be glad the Batchelor is over because you don't watch it and your sick and tired of hearing about it.

Hey, it's ok.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Weekend Road Trip.

This weekend I'm packing up my new overnight bag and headed to Tallahassee, FL to see my sweet cousin, Whitley, pitch! He plays for UVA and they have a triple headed against Florida State (the only places semi-close he comes are FSU and Miami). So I've reserved a few books on CD and I'm hoping may you all have a few suggestions of good road trip songs I can get on itunes before I depart on Friday? Seriously, leave your suggestions below.

I'm so blessed by an incredible family, immediate and extended. I'm so thankful I'm close to cousins - Wes and Whit are amazing. Thankfully, Wes as well as my Aunt Julie and my Uncle David will all be in Florida starting Saturday! I am SO excited. I thought you guys would like to see a few pictures....

Wesley & I on the front porch swing of my 'meme and poppop's' house - where we've spent many a holiday and summer growing up.

This is my and my Aunt Ju last spring in Winter Haven, FL where I went to see Wesley play baseball for Hamilton College (in upstate New York)

Me and my Uncle David, same tourney weekend.

Whitley (who will be playing this weekend) and I on the front porch of Meme and Poppop's over Thanksgiving this year.

And Wes and I after one of his games.

So I will be packing up my orange and blue and departing on Saturday morning for a weekend with the fam. I'm so thankful for each of them and my growing relationships with my extended family. It's so fun to cheer on my amazing cousins! And being the lone ranger living in Florida, it's nice to have family come anywhere in the state!

I will have about 4 hours in the car each way - so if I've been owing you a phone call, I might just make good on it this weekend!

Tallahassee here I come!



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Finishing What I Started.

Many of us find that our book shelves are weighed down by books we're going to read 'when we have time'. I find that even though I'm constantly working through any number of books, I still tend to ignore a few shelves and constantly borrow books from the library or buy/download new ones! I hear about a great book and I run out and and acquire it one way or another, forgetting that I was going to read the 30 books on my shelf that I've acquired as gifts, loans, or giveaways. And so that point, when I'm going to read them, never quite arrives...

Well, one thing I determined I would do in 2012 is work through the books on my shelves. This hasn't meant that I don't buy books along the way as well (afterall, I'm 18 books into 2012 already) BUT it does mean I've read and either given away or sold off the books as I go. Some I have kept as 'resources' or because the author has signed them and I want them as keepsakes but for the most part, I'm working on clearing my shelves (and drawers...and kindle...)

If you have an ereader this can become equally bogged down with good intentions of reading. I'm also working on reading and archiving those, to clear room for new. There's something refreshing about clearing off shelves, real and virtual.

Probably the most fun I've had with it so far was reading the cupcake book and promptly mailing it to MK from Blonde Out Loud - she's currently reading it and we're chit chatting about it on Twitter as she goes. I'm jealous she's already made some of the cupcakes shared in the book (there's a cupcake recipe at the end of every chapter - amazing).

Right now I'm working through a signed, free copy of Dave Ramsey's - Total Money Makeover I acquired after I saw him speak at my works banquet two years ago. After reading it though, I must confess I bought these 2 books (one was recommended in the money makeover):

I'm probably a few weeks away from actually reading these but I'm proud that for every library book or new book I bring in I'm also tackling one from my shelves. Currently two, actually. I hope to finish up a few this week so that I can move on. American Wife has been good but slow and the print is incredibly small - boo. Maybe I will link up for book club Friday when I finish, though, since I'm enjoying the actual story (just not the workout it's been for my eyeballs).

Anyone else reading the books they haven't gotten around too in oh, 5 years or so? What do you do with your books when you're finished?



Monday, March 12, 2012

Projects and Productivity.

Whew. Is it really already Monday? This weekend flew by in a blur. I managed to knock out a huge chunk of reading (mostly in my Dave Ramsey book - Total Money Makeover), make some money towards my home projects, pick up a free bed for my guest room that my sweet friend Auburn gave me, and fall in love with granite.

I have to say it wasn't a restful weekend for me but with a trip coming up on Saturday of this week, it was a weekend to take care of business. It's looking like I may be installing my new granite countertops in both bathrooms the same week my whole house gets painted - the first week in May. Whew. The picture above shows the 'samples' I was given upon request and the piece on the right is the one I love.

My friend Pedro was kind enough to let me bribe him with dinner to pick up the bed in his truck ( I always feel bad asking friends with trucks because I know they get asked A LOT). But I feel so excited and blessed to have the bed and the help. It's home will the the garage for a few weeks at which point my neighbors have offered to carry it up and put it together for me. Have I mentioned enough that I have the BEST neighbors?

I got together with another guy friend on Saturday night (after working a 12 hour day) to talk business. It's becoming more widely known that I am a total nerd at heart and I love to talk business from taxes to wages to savings and investments. Nerd flag proudly flying - I am constantly reading business books lately. I just finished one on real estate investments and I'm flying through Total Money Makeover. Anywho, got to chat with a friend who's trying to start his own business and give him what I hope was some positive feedback and ideas.

I have lots to say about what I'm learning from Dave this time around but I hope to share that in a future blog post. Since I have to hop off here and head to work I wanted to leave you with this quote, for now:

'What you have falsely believed and acted on or not acted on has brought you to the place you are today with your money' - Dave Ramsey

Happy Monday!



Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Home in Progress.

I am a finisher. I hate to start a project that has to be 'in progress', I always want to finish right away. This is most likely made worse by the fact that I keep a notebook of checklists, and I love to check things off. So projects that take time to complete are a stretch for me. But when you're on a budget and you're trying to be responsible to spend what your categories allow, this is just how it has to be.

I'm currently saving up to have my entire pad painted (the inside, not the outside). Since moving in I've really wanted to have this done and I believe it will improve the look of the place drastically. I'm going to keep it neutral for resale purposes, but I just want all the dinks and scratches gone and quality paint so I can wipe off things along the way. I found the painter I want to use and I got the quote back in December but there were a few things that needed to be done first, so this got put on the back burner.

However, after some hard work scrimping and savings (as well as a few ebay'd Coach bags) - I have scheduled the painter to start May 1st. It will be a 2 week process. Between now and then I have to pick paint, pay for that, and have it ready. But that should be the fun part - making the money while delaying gratification is not as fun.

I have become the nerdy homeowner who will return a great top to spend the money on guest bedroom towels. Yes, that's me. But honestly, the more I grow into my role as a homeowner the more I love every moment of it.

My projects after the paint? Actually decorate my walls. I have literally hung almost no photos, so I've bought some cool artwork, 2 funky clocks, etc. and I'm ready to hammer them in as soon as the paint dries.

I've acquired a free queen sized bed from my bestie and will be on the hunt for a fun headboard to go with over the next few weeks (the bed will be in the garage til the end of April so I have some time). But thanks to her, this project of furnishing another bedroom has gotten much cheaper. I feel grateful! (also to my sweet guy friend who is allowing me to bribe him with dinner to pick up said bed in his truck).

I've started a Pinterest inspired project for a wall upstairs between the two bedrooms which will involved 7 framed prints of the states I've lived in thus far. I think this project may be my favorite - it's going to be a tribute to my childhood. I want my home to be classy and beautiful, but also a reflection of who lives there - me.

My biggest project yet to pay for and schedule is having my counter tops in both bathrooms replaced. They are currently the normal white of most bathrooms but I'm hoping that switching them out to granite will be a worthwhile investment in the future of my home. I've found a granite wholesaler here in Tampa that I hope will be able to do this for me in the near future when that fund hits the mark.

Whew, well I think those are the changes coming soonest. But don't worry, my mind is always swimming with new ideas. I will keep you all posted as things come together but I wanted to share for now that my home has officially become a home in progress. Many little, life-changing fixer-ups to come.



Friday, March 9, 2012

Friendship that Fits.

This post is inspired by a sweet guy friend of mine who came into my life while I was traveling. I admit that I didn’t expect it to grow to be one of my best fitting friendships. You know from reading this blog that I take friendships seriously and place high value on making my friendships a top priority. I have learned through a series of hard situations that it’s important to choose your friends wisely and that sometimes less is truly more. Keep your circle tight, in other words.

I know there’s some controversy around guy/girl friendships and what motivates them or where they’re headed. I will speak for myself but some of my closest friends are guys. I don’t want to over generalize but guys tend to be honest, low drama, and let’s be real…fun! What I appreciate most about being friends with this particular guy is that I feel more myself in my friendship with him than with people I’ve known for 10 years. Maybe that’s the test of a friendship, does it fit like your favorite pair jeans? I’m honest, open, and comfortable within the friendship and I love that feeling.

I tend to be the girl who fixes other peoples problems, offers a shoulder to cry on, picks up the pieces, etc. But like the quote above that I love (which I borrowed from Lydia's blog) it turns out that even those of us who are there for everyone else, need someone to pick us up now and again. This friend has been that for me. Through a tough couple of months for my family and myself he has really been the friend I've needed. The one that allows me to feel how I really feel, instead of just expecting me to be 'up' on the time.

I should take this time to say that honesty may be the best policy but it can sting. This friend called me out recently on a rather petty ‘girl’ thing I was feeling and literally called me 'pathetic'. I did a bit of a double take (especially that dreadful word - pathetic) but in the end, he was right. I enjoy people who will give it to me straight, even when I don’t want to hear it. It reminds me of the movie ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ where it finally takes a guy telling her what no woman will, the guys she likes just aren’t that into her. They didn’t lose her number, or die in a fire – they didn’t call because they didn’t want too.

Friendships that fit aren’t always opposite sex by any means. I have some great fitting friendships with my girls as well, in particular Candy and Auburn. The idea really is that when you find friendships where your friend loves the you, you love, hang on to them. Appreciate the people who really see you (or through you when necessary) and love you anyway. Be thankful for honestly, even when it has a touch of brutal in it. The friends that will risk making you mad or hurting your feelings to grow you as a person in the end? Those are the winners.

I continue to be grateful for great friendships.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Ok Thursday.

Its Ok Thursdays

Whew, I need an it's ok Thursday this week more than usual. Let's get down to business.

It's ok... listen to Adele on repeat and cry when you're sad (even though I've been forbidden to do this by Aubs). waste a little gas taking a drive when you need to clear your have a guilty pleasure show (or shows for some of you TV junkies). I've been watching the Vampire Diaries on Netflix. want the bad guy to get the girl when he looks like this:

(Damon from Vampire Diaries) wave your nerd flag. I just finished a book about being a landlord and I'm working on one about budgeting. be obsessed with selling things on ebay. I figure that's better than being obsessed with buying them, right? have a few TV show crushes. Like this guy:

(Tim Riggins - Friday Night Lights)

Dang, I always like the bad ones, huh? Oh well... take a few days off from social networking from time to time. occasionally wear a trend that doesn't look good on you. obsessively use chapstick. go in public without makeup on the regular. eat fro yo for a meal more than once per week, every week. not play by anyone else's rules.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pick Me Up.

Note: I'm also on Neely's blog today with 5 dos and a don't of being in your 20s. So if you haven't, check me out there (and follow her) and if you're here because of that post, well thanks for stopping by!

I'm a firm believer that sometimes it's healthy to run away. In honor of this I keep a healthy sized travel budget and when life gets really ecky, I buy a flight to some place else. Don't worry, I always come back to Tampa. This is home. No matter what people say about where your heart and your family are - Tampa is my home, even if I live here alone. But sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side and you just have to go.

I got some hard news on Monday. Hard not necessarily meaning bad, but difficult all the same. As you grow up your life is always changing and people are coming and going as they pursue their own dreams. As the one who's always moved before now, it's a new phenom for me to be left behind. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I have the kind of friends who will change the world and you can quote me on it.

I was feeling especially blue yesterday after a tearful night on Monday. And so, in an attempt to bounce back, I have booked a flight 24 days away to go spend a weekend in my favorite small town - Scottsburg, Indiana. Time to go see my best friend, get away, clear my head and focus on the future and all that it holds for me and the people I love.

The next few weeks are heavily travel laden so be prepared for many updates from afar (and probably some picture overkill). First up: Tallahassee, followed by the burg, Raleigh, Haiti, and Washington DC.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekend Recap.

Welcome welcome! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. Mine was busy as usual but there were a few highlights worth sharing. I took the weekend off the blog and just spent it living real life without talking about it (shocking, I know).

On Friday my shoes for Haiti arrived and I spent some of the weekend breaking them in. We needed 'hiking' boots for our trip and I orded these from The North Face, they're water proof, light weight, and built like sneakers which I love. They're super comfortable and I'm thankful to my Aunt who supplied them. The countdown is on...we are fast approaching Haiti departure.

My poor little bulb I felt sorry for at Target after Christmas has now grown to this:

Someday it may actually grow flowers, as it's supposed too. For now I'm just glad it's alive.

Managed to get the house clean this weekend which I feel stoked about since other than that I didn't feel prepped for this morning to happen. Whew. House is clean just gotta finish cleaning out this head of mine.

I reached 2 new financial goals this weekend which was huge for me so early in the year. Feeling very hopeful about my decisisions I've made and where I'm headed in this department. Headed towards financial peace in all areas.

The highlight of my weekend was brunch with the blog girls at Grillsmith. I love them. I didn't get nearly enough pictures but I did borrow this one from Jen's facebook of us:

Jen and I did a little post brunch shopping as well. I managed not to spend too much money but we had a great time and each found a few special things. Love love shopping with her.

Headed to work shortly and to fro yo with my bestie, Auburn between work and bible study tonight. I am LOVING studying Romans with my sweet small group. I feel so challenged and encouraged every week.

Happy Monday to All...ready for not, this week is here!