Dreaming of Summer Days

Happy Hump Day! I hope you’re all having a great week so far.

Today is a wonderful day for New Englanders because the temperature is at a whopping 73 degrees… In the middle of February! We’ve had some harsh cold weather this winter, and to be quite honest, I’m so sick of it. I’ve been dreaming of summer for a couple of weeks now, so today’s weather has been a breath of fresh air (literally).

Getting to leave my apartment without a jacket, hat, and gloves on makes me ready for endless sunshine and warmer days! It got me thinking about the things I miss the most about spring/summer when I’m shivering away in negative degree weather:

Being outside: I was able to go for a nice walk today, which was so refreshing! The winter weather makes it difficult, and sometimes painful, to be outside for more than 3 seconds. I always miss being able to take walks in the evening while the sun is going down, or participate in fun outdoor activities like kayaking! I opened a window in the apartment and could hear little kids playing outside, which was so nice to hear!

Sunshine: This could go with being outside, but either way, those short winter days get old very fast. Plus, it gets so gloomy. I miss those sunny days with bright blue skies where everything feels more cheerful. Gotta get that Vitamin D!

Beach days: I don’t go to the beach often in the summer, but I’ve always loved going. Even though it can get pretty crazy with beachgoers, who doesn’t love soaking up some sun while relaxing on their favorite beach? My family takes a vacation down to the Jersey Shore every summer, so I’m really looking forward to that this year!

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(This was taken last summer in Newport, RI)

Overall, warm weather makes you feel good and there’s so much more to do. Even things like ice cream stands opening back up, summer cookouts , or just sitting outside with a good book to read are definitely missed during the winter!

For anyone else who longs for summer once the winter months start coming to a close, what do you miss the most about? For others, what are your favorite things about the warm weather in general?

A Little Bit of Spontaneity

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m typically not a spontaneous person. I like to have a plan for things before jumping in, especially when it comes to traveling of any sort.

My husband and I spontaneously planned a three-day weekend to Quebec in May with my best friend, Kassy, and her husband, Ian! We were talking about traveling and Ian was going through a list of the top 52 places to visit. Someone had suggested that one day, the four of us take a trip together since we never have before. Kassy had also mentioned that her and Ian wanted to travel somewhere to celebrate Ian receiving his master’s in May.

(I’m honestly not sure how Quebec fell into this thought process)

Before we knew it, Ian was perusing Airbnb to check prices. Within an hour, we had a place booked! We still have plenty of time to figure out what we’d like to do/see while in Quebec, but I’ve never booked a trip on the spot like that. I won’t lie, my anxiety-ridden self was quietly going, “Whoa, what!?” on the inside. However, Robby and I have been wanting to visit Canada (neither of us have before), and now we’ll finally get to explore one of its cities! Plus, we’ll be in good company!

Occasionally sprinkling a little spontaneity into your life if you’re more of a planner is okay. It’s something I definitely want to try more. Kassy even bought me a copy of Breathe magazine, and the first piece is on spontaneity and living in the moment (so fitting!). It explains how breaking away from your usual routine or norm can be exciting, empowering, and give you a new perspective. There’s even a small list of suggestions that allow you to include spontaneity into your daily schedule.

Robby and I have been thinking of trips to take this year, but Canada wasn’t on our radar. Now it is! Even though it wasn’t part of our travel plans, I’m really glad for our spontaneous decision to go with our friends. I can already tell it will be an awesome time!

Does anyone have their own stories of spontaneity? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments 🙂

Inspiration From a Former Navy Seal

Hi, everyone!

I wanted to share something that I found to be inspiring and thought some of you might take away a little inspiration as well.

I was perusing Amazon for a book (or two) to buy when I came across “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World” by Admiral William H. McRaven. The title itself was intriguing, plus I saw that it received 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 reviews. I decided to check it out.

McRaven’s book is based off his 2014 commencement speech he gave at the University of Texas at Austin. The customer reviews on Amazon praise how the life lessons McRaven walks through, things he took away from his Navy Seal training, are applicable to anybody. With more curiosity, I decided to look up his speech on YouTube.

The first thing that stood out to me was McRaven’s comment on how the struggles we face, the life lessons to overcome those struggles, and how we can help change the world are universal; it doesn’t matter your background, gender, etc. This was something I had never thought of before, but I liked this perspective. It’s reassurance that we all have the ability to rise above and make a difference in other people’s lives and in the world.

McRaven continued to list out his ten lessons toward making a change. His first one was where the title of the book will make sense: making your bed every morning. You might be thinking, “How is making my bed going to make an impact?” McRaven shed light on this question: Although a small task, making your bed every morning leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. It leads you to completing your second task of the day. Then your third, fourth, and so on.

There are times when we might do our absolute best at something, but the outcome still doesn’t turn out as we had hoped. When that happens, just keep going. That’s how life is sometimes, but we can’t let it hold us back (or as McRaven put it: get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward).

One of McRaven’s lessons that I’ve been learning more and more is that failure will happen, but don’t be afraid of it. Failure is a part of life and though many of us might put it at the top of our list of what we fear most, we shouldn’t be afraid that it’s going to happen. We can embrace it and let it motivate us forward.

Another lesson that stood out to me was to be your very best in the darkest moments. When you feel like you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to think straight, or you feel stuck, find your inner strength to let it help you through those times.

A powerful lesson that McRaven discussed was to never give up. This is so easy to do, especially when things are tough. That doesn’t mean you throw in the towel though. If you want to change the world or make an impact, giving up isn’t the way to do so.

These obviously aren’t all ten, but McRaven’s lessons are great for anyone at any stage of life. I enjoyed listening to his speech and I would still like to get the book because it probably goes a little more into each of his lessons.

Has anyone else read his book or listened to the speech? What are your thoughts? What are other inspirational speeches you’ve heard? Let me know in the comments!

Seashell Treasures

Hello, friends!

This year I spent Christmas in Florida visiting my in-laws! It was a really nice mini vacation, especially away from the cold.

One of the things on my to-do list while Robby and I were in Florida was to visit a few of the nearby beaches and look for shells. I love walking along the water searching for shells; they’re so beautiful and unique. I ended up bringing home two small plastic containers full of them!

I’m hoping to do some fun DIY projects with my shells, but first, I wanted to share some of them with you!

Sand dollar pieces – so cool!IMG_1910

I love these ones because they remind me of sunshine raysIMG_1914.JPG

Pieces of coralIMG_1915.JPG

Beautiful colorsIMG_1918.JPG

These are one of my favorite kinds!IMG_1919.JPG

Love the different sizesIMG_1922.JPG

How pretty are these??IMG_1925.JPG

These ones look like ice cream conesIMG_1926.JPG

Look how fun these are!IMG_1930.JPG

This isn’t even half of them! At one of the beaches, I stood in the water up to my ankles to scoop up handfuls and see what treasures were waiting! Have to do a little more searching to find the good stuff, even if it means getting your shorts completely soaked.

Does anyone else like to search for shells when they’re at the beach?

What Makes a Christmas Tree Unique?

Happy Friday, everyone!

One of my favorite Christmas activities is decorating your tree. It’s so fun bringing out the ornaments, lights, tinsel… Or whatever you please! Your tree can have a theme, or you can create your own masterpiece with different colors and shapes.

I believe that the ornaments hanging on the branches of a Christmas tree are what makes it unique. There are so many different ornaments out there, and they can have special meanings behind them, too. Your neighbor might have ornaments of a cat, ballerina slippers, a vintage car, a chef’s hat, and a wine glass on their tree, but do you know why?

I thought it would be fun to share some of my Christmas ornaments and the meaning behind each of them!

Pink NYC t-shirtnycornament.jpgI love the city and I used to go in 1-2 times a year. I’ve gone in to see Broadway shows, around Christmastime, or just because. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so I’m hoping to go soon!

Butterflybutterflyornament.jpgI had a cousin who passed away who was also an organ donor. The butterfly is a symbol of new life, and by being an organ donor, he was able to give other people a second chance.

Orlandoorlandoornament.jpgMy mom gave this to Robby and I because we love going to Disney World; it’s actually where we spent our first day together! Plus, it’s my favorite place 🙂

Clarinetclarinetornament.jpgI played the clarinet all through middle school and high school. I really enjoyed being in band because of the people and the fun that we had! Plus, in high school, I got to go on a trip to Disney World and Virginia Beach.

Penguinpenguinornament.jpgPenguins are my favorite animal and I have a handful of penguin ornaments, including this glittery dude! Christmas just gives me another excuse to buy all the penguins!

Ruby Red Slipperredslipperornament.jpgI’ve had this one for a long time. I guess there really isn’t any special meaning behind it other than I liked it when I bought it. Although, I do love The Wizard of Oz!

Passportpassportornament.jpgThis is another one from my mom. She bought this for Robby and I after we went to Atlantis, which is where we got engaged. This was my first time using a passport, the first time I needed one.

Do you have any Christmas ornaments with a special meaning? I’d love to hear about it!

What’s On Your Bookshelf? – The Only Pirate at the Party

Hello, everyone!

I wanted to start something called “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” Basically, it’s just me sharing a different book with you!

My first “What’s On Your Bookshelf?” post is going to be about Lindsey Stirling’s The Only Pirate at the Party, which I recently finished. If you don’t know who Lindsey Stirling is… You’re doing it wrong! Lindsey is an electronic violinist who earned her success through YouTube. She’s released three full-length albums along with a Christmas album that just came out in October. She was also on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars!

Lindsey co-wrote her book with one of her sisters, Brooke S. Passey, who is mentioned throughout. Lindsey takes you back through her childhood, growing up, and the many hurdles she’s faced since as she figured out life and chasing her dreams.

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What I loved most about this book was reading about the struggles that brought Lindsey to where she is today, as well as moments I related with (especially ones she shared from her childhood and growing up). It kind of felt like I was reading about a friend, or like I had a close friend right next to me. It also showed that Lindsey is human like anyone else. She has doubts, she faces the realities of life, and she works hard to make her dreams come true.

Another great element to The Only Pirate at the Party was the humor. You know how when you type ‘lol’ to someone, most of the time you’re not actually laughing? Heck, you’re probably not even smiling. Well, I genuinely laughed out loud while reading Lindsey’s book. Here’s why:

“I considered telling her about Naomi’s five dollars, but I was worried she might call the Tooth Fairy Office and complain, and what if my fairy got fired?”

“I saw the girls of Fifth Harmony backstage, so I introduced myself and congratulated them on their new single. They smiled and nodded politely. A few minutes later I passed the real Fifth Harmony in the halls and I realized I had been talking to Pitbull’s backup dancers about their “summer hit.””

“I was almost finished when the pick got stuck in between my teeth, and of course that was also the moment the elevator doors started to open. I frantically tried to loosen the pick, with no luck. When I looked up, Ashton Kutcher was exiting the elevator in front of me. He nodded with a closemouthed smile, and I just gaped back at him – partially because I was looking at Ashton Kutcher, and partially because a floss pick was preventing my mouth from fully closing.”

Along with some giggles, Lindsey gets into some of life’s valuable lessons, things she admits she has to relearn sometimes. She also admits that the last few years of her life have been one big learning experience, which just goes to show that we’re always learning and growing no matter how old we are or what we’ve already been through. Here are some of those lessons:

  • The chapter “Sticks and Stones” is introduced with this quote: “You can spend your whole life feeling small by looking up at everyone above you, or you can look down and see how far you’ve come.”
  • Loving yourself is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Oh, the struggle is so real with this one. It’s so easy for us to overlook self-love and self-care, especially when it’s something we’re very unfamiliar with. Lindsey offers a list of qualities and traits that she might feel self-conscious about or dislike and puts a positive spin on them by describing why she loves them.
  • Don’t depend on other people’s opinions. I feel like this is something all of us face at one point or another. Lindsey shares the disappointment she felt after not winning a Grammy Award, but realizes that her self-worth shouldn’t have been relying so heavily on winning or losing. Inevitably, there will be people who don’t like you or say things that hurt your feelings, but it shouldn’t dictate your self-worth. Be the best you can be and be proud of that.
  • No doesn’t have to mean no. If someone rejects you or tries to tell you that you’re not good enough, don’t listen to them. Keep being you and keep going.
  • It really is okay to be different. I think this is something a lot of people struggle with or get negative reactions to. But Lindsey is a great example of how sticking to your true self will take you far.

If you’re a Lindsey fan and haven’t read this book yet, I highly recommend it! If you aren’t, you should still read it.

Now I want to know about one of the books on your bookshelf! Or, what book are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments!

My Favorite Albums From 2017

I know I’m not the only one when I say that I love music. I love going to concerts, the excitement when your favorite band announces their new album, the community, and the emotional connection songs create.

2017 was a great year for music, and to celebrate that, I wanted to share my favorite albums that were released! This isn’t meant to be a review of any kind, just me sharing my favorite albums from this year. I’ve also included a few songs from each album for you to listen to so you can see what you’re in for!

Lovely Little Lonely
The Maine, Lovely Little Lonely – I listened to The Maine in high school, but never really kept up with them. They dropped their song “Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu” at the beginning of the year, so I gave it a listen. Clearly, I enjoyed it because it led me to check out the rest of their newest album. These are great songs to jam loudly to in your car.

Songs to check out: “Don’t Come Down,” “Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu,” and “The Sound of Reverie”

Eisley_I'm Only Dreaming
Eisley, I’m Only Dreaming – Sherri DuPree-Bemis has such a sweet, beautiful voice. The songs from this album are catchy and make you sometimes feel as if you’re in a dream or a different world (that’s how I feel at least). There’s always been something about Eisley that I’ve found to be whimsical and fairytale-like.

Songs to check out: “Always Wrong,” “Defeatist,” and “Sparking”

Something To Tell You.jpg
HAIM, Something To Tell You – The HAIM sisters’ sophomore album continues to showcase their talents as musicians. They have an 80s vibe (stylistically as well – love it!) that you can dance and sing along to. Plus, Danielle Haim’s voice is brilliant.

Songs to check out: “Little Of Your Love,” “You Never Knew,” and “Kept Me Crying”

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Lights, Skin&Earth – This is my first album from Lights, and I really enjoy it! The songs are accompanied by a comic series she created/designed (I’m slowly collecting all of the issues), so it’s cool to see how they connect and feel like you’re a part of the story. I also like that the album consists of different sounds with each song.

Songs to check out: “Giants,” “Savage,” and “Almost Had Me”

Last Young Renegade.jpg
All Time Low, Last Young Renegade – I’ve followed these guys for most of their career. I’ve seen them through all of their album cycles and have watched them grow, both as individuals and as a band. Their latest album, Last Young Renegade, really shows that growth through lyrics and sound. It’s definitely darker than any of their other albums, but I think it just shows they can tackle anything!

Songs to check out: “Ground Control” (feat. Tegan and Sara), “Dirty Laundry,” and “Last Young Renegade”

After Laughter.jpg
Paramore, After Laughter – Like many Paramore fans worldwide, I was anxiously awaiting this album. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, though I don’t think I was expecting such an open, honest set of songs (not to say their other songs aren’t honest because they are). I’ve leaned on this album so much, and the lyrics express things I feel like I’m never able to fully get out. It’s therapeutic and relieving.

Songs to check out: “Rose-Colored Boy,” “26,” and “Hard Times”

Do you like any of albums I mentioned? What are some of your favorite albums from 2017? I’m always looking for new music, so let me know in the comments!