Thursday, November 28, 2013

Five Favorites: Food

While we're all recovering from being overloaded on turkey and stuffing, let's talk about food some more, shall we? When I have a say in what I eat, I don't always make the healthiest choices, but they sure are yummy ones!

1. Brownies

This is the absolute best dessert ever in my opinion. Chocolate gooey-ness, pure indulgence. They are so many calories, but I can't resist them. Any time there is a potluck at work or anywhere, I offer to bring in brownies, hoping I will be able to take a lot home. Brownies are also really easy to make from a box. Betty Crocker is my best friend.

2. Cheetos Snack Crackers

These, oh my goodness. These are a bite of heaven. If you like Cheetos, you will love these. I discovered these when I was in college, and my local grocery store carried them. At some point, they stopped, and I was totally devastated, but I got over it (mostly) eventually. Recently, my fiance and I tried a grocery store that we always pass by near our house. They have lots of international foods and unique things. Lo and behold, they had my crackers! Now I am hooked again.

3. Green Beans

This is the one healthy thing on this list. If I had to pick a favorite vegetable, green beans would be it. Real green beans though, not fake ones. I consider fake green beans to be the kind from cans, or frozen. Real green beans are fresh. Fresh and delicious. I love the just-picked nature flavor, with just a little bit of butter. Nothing compares to the rich flavor of green beans. Corn, lima beans, carrots -- nope. It has to be green beans.

4. Smoothies

Smoothies are fantastic for being on the go, sitting at home relaxing, or anytime really. I love that they can be a junk food if you are in a junk food mood, or they can be really healthy with fruits, veggies, and certain additives. Either way, they are always delicious. When you don't feel like a meal, but you know you need something in your stomach, smoothies are a great solution.

5. Pizza

The food of all foods. It is the ultimate in deliciousness. Cheese, bread, tomato sauce, pepperoni, just give it all to me. I love pizza. I could eat pizza 5 days a week and not get sick of it. In fact, I nearly did that when I lived around the corner from a place with $1 slices. It was the perfect lunch before my afternoon job. How can you resist $1 slices? My favorite places now are Mellow Mushroom and Hungry Howie's. Hungry Howie's really has some great pizza, with free flavored crust, for very reasonable prices.

What are some of your favorite foods?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Writing and Words

Work sometimes takes us away from the fun things we want to do in life, but that doesn't mean we should just give up! I have been incredibly busy lately and haven't had time to write, but now I have just a bit of time before the Thanksgiving frenzy begins, so hooray for writing!

Some people like to be super formal in their posts, and others write like it is a conversation. Some people even make up words or have posts full of slang phrases. I think it is good to have a combination of those styles in blog posts to keep it interesting, but it is still important to maintain your own voice.

Similarly, with the English language, I think some variation in style is ok, but it's important to maintain the roots of what makes words words. The Oxford Dictionary recently released its word of the year, and can you guess what it is?


Selfie, really? Many people probably feel that this is a disgrace to the English language. Others think it is the coolest thing in the world. I was a little surprised when I first found out about the word of the year, but I am not too disappointed.

The way of nature is change. The reason we use the words we use today is because of change. We would be speaking some ancient dialect if it weren't for the evolution of words over time to better fit our current culture and experiences. These days everything is moving faster and everyone has less time, so abbreviated words like this are becoming more common.

Although I am a fan of the more traditional English language that I grew up learning and studying, and although I am a former journalist who is sort of obsessed with proper grammar and writing style, I am ok with selfie being the word of the year. I am ok with change, and I welcome it because I know it is just part of the way the world works. 

Can you imagine how the English language might change in the years to come? How do you feel about selfie being the word of the year?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting Up When You're Down

Sometimes everything just falls onto your plate at once, and it's overflowing, and it's heavy, and you're tired, and you just want it all to go away. You don't want any of it. In those situations it can be hard to be positive. It can be a struggle to work or get through your day. We've all had days like this, and we all get through them somehow, but how? Luckily I have found something that I try to focus on when I have days like this.

Whatever you put your energy into is what will surround you. They always say the grass is greener on the other side, but the truth is, the grass is greener where you water it. You have the power to make the grass green and brighten your day. It is easy to feel defeated, but when you remind yourself that you do have this control, it can make things a little easier.

When you focus on all the tasks you have to do at work, and that new project you have absolutely no time for, and the appointment you have after work that is going to cause you to have to work late another day, it is really hard to get that green grass to grow. You're focusing in on all the dirt and awful stuff.

Now imagine focusing on the good instead -- you have a job, you are able to afford to go to the doctor when you need to, you are trusted to take on extra tasks at work, you have a partner who loves you, you have a roof over your head and a comfy bed, etc. These things might seem like little things when you have the negativity overpowering you, but the more you "water" the good things, the more green grass you will have, and the easier it will be to stay positive.

This is a technique that I use when I have bad days, and I really try to stay positive by using this thought process. It isn't always easy or instantaneous, but it does help. What helps you get more positive when you are having a bad day?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Five Favorites: Non-Material Edition

It's that time of year when many people are posting lists of things they are thankful for, Black Friday shopping lists, or general wishlists or favorites lists. Many favorites lists are full of things, such as cosmetics, apparel, or household items. I like the idea of favorites lists, but I wanted to do this one a little differently. Below are five of my favorite non-material things.

1. Exploring.
I am lucky enough that I've gotten the chance to do a bit of traveling to other countries as well as some cities in the US, including New Orleans and Key West. One of my favorite parts about traveling is learning about different cultures and ways of life, which can vary even within a single city. There is always something new to learn, even within whatever city you live in. There is a lot of variety in life when you really take the time to slow down and notice the little things. The above picture was taken on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, purposely out of focus.

2. Pets and animals.

What would we do without our pets and awesome wildlife? When we have a bad day, our pets are there to comfort us. When we're bored, they end up doing something ridiculous and silly. And when we're happy, they're there to celebrate with us. Pets can provide amazing companionship and help us forget about any daily stuff we are dealing with. Wildlife can be pretty amazing too. How incredible is it when a monarch butterfly flitters past? Or when you see an armadillo just off a nature trail, chilling. These creatures can be really inspiring in their own way.

3. Photography. 
Photography is a great way to capture special moments, or even relatively normal moments. The thing about photos is that you can freeze feelings. I like to believe each photo has its own mood, and it transports you someplace else. I also like how an ordinary, everyday object can take on a new personality when captured in a unique way. Here, the sun is rising and I captured it through a hole in a seashell. It gives the sunrise a more muted, yet surprising feel.

4. Home.
Home sweet home. There's no place like home. To many people, home is a sanctuary, and that's the way it should be. I am thankful for the environment my parents provided for me as I grew up, and I'm thankful for my current little family -- my fiance and our two kitties, Turbo and Nitro. It's a place where I can always feel safe and comfortable, and it's a place where we can build memories together. It's really fun sharing a home with the ones you love.

5. Weekends.
Woohoo! Unfortunately this weekend is coming to a close, but the weekend always gives us something to look forward to. A break from work and weekly tasks. Of course, being a homeowner, there is always some sort of work to be done, but it is nice having the choice of when you want to get the work done. This past weekend, my fiance and I went out to a beachfront bar for a couple drinks, then tried a new restaurant for dinner. It is things like this that make weekends seem like mini vacations, and those are always fun and appreciated.

What are some of your favorite things that aren't material things?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My First Lush Experience

Wow, you guys, Lush is definitely luxe! My city recently got a Lush store in one of the malls, and I had heard good things so I decided to check it out. Lush is an eco-friendly cosmetic store with vegan products and recyclable containers and materials. Their products are also all hand-made, which provides a unique upscale shopping experience.

In addition, Lush supports many ethical campaigns including animal rights, protecting the environment, and humanitarian causes. With all that said, their prices are a little steeper than you might tend to spend on items such as soap, shampoo, lotion, and various hair and body treatments, but I personally think it is worth the occasional splurge. Of course I splurged on my recent trip!

I picked up three different things (but only paid for two!). My hair can tend to be a little unruly with split ends, fluffiness and frizziness. After researching various treatments on the Lush website, I decided on the Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Eaze.

The sales girl suggested that for my long and thick hair, I'd get four uses out of this container! Only four! I always try to make stuff last longer than "recommended" because sometimes those recommendations are adjusted a little so that you'll use more and need more sooner and spend more money. Or maybe I'm just paranoid. Either way, I used less than 1/4 of the container.

After following the instructions, I rinsed the treatment off, and after my hair dried after my shower (no blow drying, just natural air drying), I did notice a difference! It wasn't as dramatic as I was hoping, but it was definitely noticeable. It has been about three days since I tried it, and my hair is still relatively smooth. Next time I might try actually using the recommended amount and see if I get better results.

The scent of the Fluff-Eaze is not very jasmine-y to me. I love the scent of jasmine, so that is part of the reason I picked this particular treatment. It smells clean, and has some floral notes, but I would not describe it as jasmine. The other product I bought, however...

I also bought the Lust jasmine-scented stick perfume. I now have a new favorite go-to scent. It is so delicious smelling! This definitely smells more like jasmine than the hair treatment. This was somewhat decently priced at $10, and the sales girl told me those stick perfumes last forever. So far I have used it every day, and I'm not sick of it yet!

There is a third product in the picture above. After picking out my two items, I was asked if I wanted to buy some soap in the Lust scent. I decided to pass, but apparently the store offers free soap samples, so I said OK! I haven't used it yet, but it also smells incredible, like the perfume. Overall, I am loving these jasmine Lush purchases!

Do you have a Lush where you live? What is your favorite or go-to cosmetics store when you want to pamper yourself a bit?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Savings Sunday

One of my favorite websites used to manage my budget is It makes it easy to set up budgets for different categories, such as utilities, gas, shopping, medical, or whatever else you spend your money on. Nail polish? Purses? Pants? If you have different bank accounts, you can link them all up on this site so you can see your total debts and assets.

One of my favorite features is the way it shows you trends. You can either do it by merchant, category, time, or even tag, if you choose to tag your expenses. These pictures show by category, and then by merchant. Dollar amounts are included when you actually see the whole website page.

Now that I am a homeowner and have a job where I get paid the same amount each period, it's much easier for me to make a budget and be able to see how much I have coming in and going out. I know it can be kind of a boring topic, and even a stressful one a lot of the time, but this site really takes the pressure off, in my opinion.

Many banks these days even have online options similar to this where you can budget your expenses. It might not be the most exciting thing, but if you are looking to save a little here and there, I would strongly recommend using one of these tools. Come on, pretty charts! You can't resist that. (Ok, maybe you can. But I can't.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

If I Was a Cat...

It's Caturday Saturday! This is another one of my daily themes that you will see posted on certain days. Not every day of every week, but for example, some Saturday posts will be Caturday Saturday posts.

One of my favorite sites for cute cat gifs is I Just Really Like Cats Ok? and I've decided to outline a few elements of my life in cat gifs. You're welcome. Hope you all are enjoying your Saturday and having a pleasant weekend!

Trying to get out of the house on Monday mornings.

Powering through tasks at work thinking about 6:00.

Me when my fiance turns sports on the TV after already watching football all day.
( I love him though <3 )

Playing with my kitties. I'm sure they love that.

When I'm at a stop light in my car (minus the headphones).

When someone mentions pizza.

Oh man, life as a cat would be awesome/crazy. What animal do you think most resembles you?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Let's Get Connected!

As a new blogger, I am anxious to meet other bloggers and make new friends. Obviously that doesn't happen simply in a day usually, but I am hoping to start some connections that will blossom into lovely friendships down the road.

I just wanted to share where you can find or follow me. First of all, you can follow me on Google Friend Connect, which you'll see on the right side of this page.

I am also a proud member of the Southern Girls Blog Community, which you can see on the logo to the right.

Another place you can find me is bloglovin. It would make me super happy to connect with you all through these various mediums.

Where else do you like to connect with other like-minded bloggers?

Oh yeah, and HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

Photo Story Friday

I am the luckiest girl in the world. I get to race that beautiful machine you see in the picture above. What a weird hobby for a girl, right? Ever since I reached middle school, I became obsessed with cars. My top three at that point were the Chevy Corvette, Chevy Camaro, and Mazda Miata. What a selection, lol. I'm not ashamed to admit I was born with a lead foot and am addicted to the adrenaline rush when I'm straddling the line of control and insanity.

My obsession with the Chevrolet Corvette probably partially contributed to my dad's decision to buy one. (It was either that or the BMW M3. BMWs are a story for another day.) It's all I would talk about for a few years as I was growing up. I even made a quiz for some of my friends and family to take about facts of this car's history. I was (am?) a little crazy, but I'm not ashamed.

The feeling of pure power controlled simply by twitches of my toes is incredible. The fear of hurdling toward trees at 130 miles per hour and knowing I will be in perfect control of the situation in a few hundred yards is empowering. Racing is addicting. Please don't take any of this is as me bragging -- it is simply a part of my life that I am extremely passionate about and thankful for. I'm currently saving most of my money (after bills of course) to buy this car 5 or 10 years down the road.

I took this picture at a smaller event, where I wasn't going near 130 miles per hour (only 80ish). It was during a phase where I was feeling filled with creativity again, which I had lost for a while. I used to love taking pictures and capturing beauty in everyday things. On this day, I felt inspired to capture the appeal of this car in an angled shot. It is a 2008 Chevrolet Corvette with an optional suspension package. This photo marks the beginning of a new creative phase in my life, where I'll be going full speed ahead, living with intention.

You might have noticed my blog title mentions the day of the week. I want to start trying to do weekly posts, with each day focusing on a different thing. I am excited to reveal the rest of the ideas to you as they are posted :) I don't plan on strictly posting on these topics each day, each week, but they'll give me something to write about if nothing exciting is happening. Let me know if there are any particular subjects you'd be interested in seeing blogs about!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wintery Manicure

So today I have a wintery manicure... wait, it's not winter? It feels like winter down here in Florida any time the weather gets below about 65 degrees. The last week or two we definitely had some cold days! This Southern girl loves curling up in hoodies on those days, but of course I will still be wearing flip flops. Can't take that summery spirit out of me! Anyway, onto the manicure.

The picture isn't the clearest, but it is really hard to capture shimmer! This is a light, dusty blue base with a gold shimmer polish on top. Other than the unkempt cuticles, I am pretty happy with the way this turned out. When I showed my fiance this manicure, he even said "That color is unique; I've never really seen that color on nails before!" (Yes, I totally wrote down his quote because it made me proud and he was sweet and I thought it would be awesome blogging material!)

The polishes I used were Orly Bonder as my base, OPI I Vant to be A-lone Star, Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Debu-tint, and Seche Vite as my top coat.

Let me rave about Sally Hansen Salon Manicure for a minute. First of all, I love their brush! It is flat, so the polish applies much more evenly. All of the polishes I have in that variety always apply super smoothly and have great consistency, and they are easy to take off, too! This particular color is probably one of my most recent favorites. Applied on its own, it gives your nails just a hint of shimmer -- more than just a clear coat would do. That subtle gold flash can be very intriguing.

One last picture... obviously very out of focus, but look at the bokeh in that shimmer! For those who are unfamiliar, bokeh is a photography style where the lights (or reflected light) is out of focus so it makes little circles. Sometimes taking out of focus photos of shimmery or holographic nail polish can show off the features a bit better than a straight on, in focus shot. What do you think? Do any of you have a favorite shimmer nail polish?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wow-Factor Weddings

I was just browsing through bloglovin' and found a blog with the following description:

Crafty, gorgeous and everything else Wow-Factor.
It's all about statement weddings

Since when does every wedding have to make some sort of statement? There is too much pressure in the bridal industry for every bride to have EVERY PERFECT DETAIL. If every bride had that, the next trend would probably be minimalist weddings -- probably like many of our parents had.

Between Pinterest, Facebook, and the hundreds (probably thousands) of wedding blogs out there, there is a lot of pressure on brides to be unique and have something that no one else has, that guests will be in awe of. We seem to have forgotten the purpose of weddings -- to join two souls in eternal happiness and love.

The frilly stuff isn't necessary. It might be nice, but who cares if your flowers are real or fake? Who cares whether your dress has that stunning scalloped edge? The day after the ceremony, I bet people won't be talking about what color tablecloth you decided to use. 

Imagine something simple... Just you, the love of your life, and close family and friends. Imagine all the stress you can avoid by making a simple choice for the flowers and centerpieces. Imagine the focus of your wedding actually being you and your partner... that is what it's all about. 

True love, dedication, and eternal promises... That's what I call a statement wedding.

Meet the Boys

Talking about cats should be an appropriate second post because 99% of the internet likes cats, right? Ok! I'd like to introduce you to two of the loves in my life: Turbo and Nitro. Here they are in a rare state -- sleepy and sweet. Not to say they aren't sweet and perfect all the time, but... sometimes they ruin everything. In a sweet, adorable way, most of the time.

The first night I spent with these boys, they actually knocked over a bedside lamp, and the bulb broke all over my pillow! Of course I was super concerned the boys would end up walking through the glass, and it was 3 a.m. and I was half asleep, so it was sort of nerve-wracking. It wasn't a complete disaster though.

Another time, the boys were running around my old apartment and bouncing off the walls -- literally. One of them -- it was Nitro I think -- jumped up on a shelf on a mostly empty tall bookshelf, and he actually knocked it down! That was quite a fright for both me and the kitties. Luckily, again, nothing was damaged.

It is these types of adventures that keep life exciting. If they were curled up like in the picture above all the time, it would be nice, but I wouldn't appreciate it as much without them getting into some sort of funny mischief every so often.

One year, my mom got me a book about how to get cats to behave. I haven't managed to train them yet, but now that they are older, they don't get into as much trouble. I also found these amazing animal vitamins by GNC (kind of silly, isn't it?) that help them relax, and those can be a life-saver sometimes.

Are your pets mischievous a lot of the time? How do you get them to calm down?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcome, Readers

Hello, internet!

Yet another blog has joined the world of the web (like it really needed one more). This blog is mostly a creative outlook and log of interesting things in my life, but hopefully it will also benefit some of you! I plan to post about the following:

  • Photography
  • Kitties
  • Homeownership
  • Couponing & Budget
  • Wedding Planning & Married Life
  • Healthy Habits
    • Eating
    • Emotional
    • Physical
  • Nail Polish & Manicures
  • Automotive Racing
  • Random Musings
Hopefully some of these topics appeal to you and we can share ideas with each other. Also, I suppose I should introduce myself...

My name is Rachel, and I'm a 26-year-old wife-to-be. I bought a house and moved in with my wonderful man, Mike, in February 2013, and we got engaged about six months later in August. Home life is a big change from living by myself in an apartment, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Each new challenge adventure teaches me something new, and I love learning new things. Making the best of life and looking on the bright side is what I try to do, and I hope my blog, Light and Love, reflects that. Thank you for reading! I look forward to getting involved in the blogging community and becoming friends :)