Monday, December 30, 2013

Five Favorites: 2013

This year is quickly coming to a close! Many of us are reviewing what happened this past year and reflecting on all of those events. For this edition of "Five Favorites," I'd like to talk about five of my favorite things about 2013.

1. Being a Homeowner

Who would have thought I'd be a homeowner at my age (26)? It's really pretty incredible. It was probably the most stressful process of my life when I was trying to buy the house, but now that it is over and I've been in the house close to a year, it is definitely worth it. Nothing compares to having your own space that you can do whatever you want with! Now I just need to finish unpacking... Yes, I am a horrible (great?) procrastinator!

2. Driving at Sebring International Raceway

It isn't often that you get an opportunity to drive on a track that countless racing professionals have raced on for decades. Not only was this an amazing experience just because I got to drive at the limits of the car, but it was also incredible because of this track's history. This is one of the most challenging tracks around, and mastering it is an incredible feeling. I don't know if it is possible to master this track, but just driving it at a decent rate of speed is amazing.

3. Getting Engaged

OMG OMG he proposed and I said yes!!! Haha, so it was an early early morning in August when Mike and I were out on the beach for my sea turtle patrol. He asked if he could come with me this time, and of course I said that was fine because it can be a little lonely on the beach at 6am. We were walking along, and he pointed something out, so I turned that direction, and when I turned back around, he was on his knee! Being engaged has been a fantastic experience. It's amazing knowing you get to spend your life with the love of your life.

4. Decorating for the Holidays

I'm not posting a picture for this one, even though I have a few examples, because I've posted them before and I've posted them recently. I'm sure you all have gotten your fill of holiday pictures. Not only are being in a house and being engaged fantastic, but celebrating our first holiday season together in our house was awesome! It is so nice to have a place to decorate together. We even had our own Christmas tree!

5. Growth

This one is an important favorite. Growth isn't one of those things I can pinpoint, but the combination of experiences I've had this year have helped me grow as a person. I've had good times and bad times, and they all teach me something. It's nice looking back and knowing you are a better, stronger person now. Life is always changing, and that isn't a bad thing. One of my favorite quotes is "Everything drifts. Always in waves." So let's ride those waves and have a blast doing it!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Camera

One of my favorite gifts from Christmas this year is my camera -- a Canon PowerShot Elph 330HS. As I've mentioned before, photography is something I've been wanting to get back into lately, and this camera is the perfect spark to get me going!

My fiance, Mike, and I haven't gotten out and about much since the holidays, so most of my photos so far are of our kitties and stuff around the house.

 Mmm... Chocolate. Another Christmas gift :)

This is Nitro trying to catch my camera strap!

Looking through glass splattered by raindrops into the backyard.

The weather offered a perfect opportunity to get some awesome closeups of raindrops.

Do you have any favorite Christmas presents you have been enjoying and using recently?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.. Maybe

Is is just me, or does Christmas get more stressful the older you get?

There are plenty of wonderful things about the holidays. Spending time with family can be comforting. And there is so much to be thankful for when you get gifts that you have been wanting but just never bought for yourself. It can be a happy reminder of how rich we are with love surrounding us.

But there are also things that aren't as pleasant about the Christmas season.

Presents are great, but I also think they can cause unnecessary stress. It can take quite a while sometimes trying to think of a perfect gift for everyone. And then, after you get it, sometimes you are wondering, "will they really like it?" And when they open it, there is that immediate pressure of wondering what their reaction will be. Multiply this by however many people are in your family, and it can be tough to deal with sometimes.

Not only that, but opening presents yourself can be a little stressful. When I was a kid, I loved opening presents and I didn't care that I was the center of attention. Now for some reason, I dread being the center of attention. I am so thankful for the gifts and thoughtfulness of my loved ones, but I am so self-conscious when opening gifts sometimes.

Aside from gifts, you also have to be social and jovial. With conversation bouncing from topic to topic, you always have to be ready to say something that would fit in with the conversation. Sometimes it is tough to remember gifts off the top of your head, and then you worry about appearing not thankful because you don't remember what you got.

This is all somewhat silly, but sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me. I just have to remember that the main reason for the season is getting back to your roots and spending time with loved ones, who love you for you. No one else cares about all these trivial things.

It's called the most wonderful time of the year for a reason. Let's remember that!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Photography & Ornaments

Yesterday, my fiance was watching football with his buddies, so I decided to do some present-wrapping and a little bit of photography. Photography is something I've been getting back into lately, and the holidays are the perfect time of year to work on my skills. There is an abundance of beauty and cheer everywhere. I'm actually hoping to get a new camera for Christmas!

Here are some of the photos I took:

The first presents under the tree.

Sweet angel ornament.

Beaded ornament.

We didn't have any ornaments or decorations of our own this year, as I discussed in this post, but luckily my parents let us borrow an old tree and some ornaments. The tree actually belonged to my grandma, and it is from the '60s. The ornaments are familiar decorations that I grew up with at my parents' house.

Do you have any favorite ornaments you like to hang every year?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All That Glitters Isn't Gold

My latest manicure is a combination of some different colors of glitter... or they appear that way anyway.

Lately, I have been in the mood for muted colors on my nails, but I still wanted a little pop. Glitter, of course, adds that pop. It isn't often that I don't have some sort of glitter or sparkle on my nails.

For this manicure, I used a dark chocolate base and a medium pink glitter on top. I like the soft contrast that the combination of polishes provides.

Sometimes I like doing accent nails to have something a little different. For the accent nail, I used a pink base and a couple layers of the same medium pink glitter. I added a pink jelly on top of the accent nail to further differentiate it from the rest of my nails.

Jelly polishes can be really interesting. In this case, it added a hint of color to the polish that was already on my nail. It can also be used to make a jelly sandwich, where you use layers of glitter polish in between layers of jelly polish, and it has a gelatin look to it, sort of like Jell-O. Maybe I'll try one of those to post sometime :)

When you paint your nails, do you like to add interesting accent nails?

Monday, December 16, 2013


I know there's the joke that Mondays are always horrible and the day everyone dreads, but today is actually kind of one of those days for me.

It's not a horrible day, but I'm sleepy. Even though I rested over the weekend, it wasn't enough! It's never really enough though, is it? Can't we just have weekends all the time? When this feeling happens on a Monday, I like to call it Mundaze. I'm stuck in a daze on Monday, and it's mundane.

Last night I kept tossing and turning. We had the heat turned up, but it was still cold (for Florida, anyway). Thank goodness for Red Bull. Then when I got to work, one of my programs wasn't working, so I couldn't get things done! Maybe it was experiencing Mundaze too.

What do you do when you are stuck in a daze and you need to get things done? I hope you all are having the opposite of Mundaze!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Pick-Me-Ups

It's that time of the week when hope is on the horizon -- you're halfway through the work week! Even if you don't have a Monday to Friday job, there is always that one day when you tell yourself, "You're almost there! Only a couple more days until relief!"

For me, this day usually isn't marked by anything significant other than extra positive thoughts pushing me through the rest of the week. Don't get me wrong; I love my job, but I love the weekends just a little bit more!

But this Wednesday, my fiance and I made a little stop at Starbucks on the way to work, and I got my favorite drink -- a chai latte.

Something about this drink always soothes me and relaxes my mind and soul. But at the same time, it gives me a little energy boost, which is perfect. It's exactly the right treat to get me through the rest of the week.

Do you do anything special when the week is halfway over? Maybe look at certain motivational websites or pictures? Buy yourself a yummy snack or drink?

Things like this are a rare treat for me, but that is what makes them special :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Decorations

Having a house means you get chances to decorate a lot more. Even if you choose not to go all out with decorations, it's still nice knowing you have the freedom to do so.

Since this is our first year in a house, my fiance and I don't have any holiday decorations, but I went to Joann's yesterday and got some ribbon to decorate the light pole in our front yard.

The ribbon was actually on sale, 60% off, so yay for saving money! I love how they often discount decorations during the season that they are for, instead of just after the season.

We ended up putting the ribbon up today, and I think it turned out well! I am really happy with the results and the little bit of holiday cheer. Now we just need some lights!

Another holiday decoration I'd love to get is one of those little snow towns. You know, where you lay out some cotton as "snow" and get some little houses and town buildings such as a post office, bakery, etc. The ones that have little lights inside are even cooler! I'd love to have one of those on my table in the foyer.

What are some of your favorite holiday decorations? Are there any really simple or inexpensive ones you like?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Paul Walker & Safe Driving

As many of you have probably heard, the Fast and Furious actor and car enthusiast Paul Walker has died in a car accident. Could it have been prevented? We don't know, but we can still learn from the experience.

Paul was known to be active in the automotive scene, and he was leaving a car show hosted to benefit one of his charities when the accident occurred. Racecar driver Roger Rodas was driving the car. Although he was experienced, it is said that speed was a factor in the crash, and there might have been some sort of mechanical failure as well.


Let me be the first to say (well, I'm probably not the first, but, you know), speed is not dangerous -- in the right conditions. The conditions are everything.

This was an experienced driver on a known road, but mechanical failure can change things very quickly -- and that is why it is best to save those adrenaline-filled moments for the track. We all might be tempted to speed here and there, whether it is for fun or simply because we are late getting somewhere, but ultimately it is not worth it.

No matter how experienced you are, things like this can happen. It not only endangers yourself, but those around you too. If he were at a track, there would at least be fire extinguishers around most likely. There's also a possibility that the outcome wouldn't have been any different, but at least it would have been in a controlled environment -- not on a public road.

If any of you have the Need for Speed, I highly encourage you to look up HPDEs (High Performance Driver Educations) at tracks near you. You can run your car all out (even if it is a basic sedan), and you'll have an instructor guiding you. It is not a racing school, but it really helps you be a safer driver by knowing what your car feels like at the limits. As a result, it makes you safer on the road.

Maybe this accident could have been prevented, or maybe it couldn't, but the ultimate lesson here is not to endanger others while having your fun. There are plenty of save venues, just waiting for you to go all out!