Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Woohoo – it’s the weekend I have been waiting for! Tomorrow, my mom and I leave on our annual cruise and I am just beside myself with excitement. This will be our seventh cruise and our first time sailing out of Miami. I just can’t wait to spend seven days sailing the high seas, sipping fruity drinks, and enjoying quality time with my best friend. This blog will remain quiet for a while as I vacation and then come back to reality, but I hope to return at the end of May with tons of cruise recaps! For today, I thought it would be fun to do a “yesterday, today, and tomorrow” post since I haven’t done one of these in a long time. Enjoy!

yesterday, I…

  • worked from home. Yes! My last full day of working and I got to do it from the comfort of my apartment wearing yoga pants. And I had a productive day and finished up all the work I needed to do before I left. I’ll be able to enjoy my vacation with ease, knowing I won’t have a ton of deadlines I have to rush to meet when I return to work.
  • enjoyed lunch with my mom. One of my favorite benefits of my work from home days – I get to enjoy a nice lunch with my mom! We usually meet each other at Panera Bread and eat outside, so I get sunshine and a nice chat. It’s awesome!
  • packed for my vacation. WHEE! I love packing. It’s slightly nerve-wracking because I’m super neurotic and always worry about leaving something uber-important behind. But it’s also fun and just builds my anticipation.

today, I…

  • have my last day in the office for TEN WHOLE DAYS. And I only have to work for 3.5 hours! And it’s Bagel Friday! Yay!
  • will say good-bye to Dutch for a week! As excited as I am for vacation, I am also incredibly sad to leave my Dutchers for a whole week. I’m going to miss that little stinker so much!
  • will drive to Ft. Lauderdale with my mom. Originally, we planned to just drive down to Miami (where our cruise is departing from) on Saturday, the day of our cruise. But then we decided: why not extend our vacation by a day? So we did! We’ll drive down sometime in the late afternoon, arrive in Ft. Lauderdale in the early evening, have dinner, and relax. Plus, this means Saturday will be nice and easy, since the drive to the port is less than an hour away, rather than four!

tomorrow, I…

  • will be in Miami for the first time ever! Can you believe I’ve never visited Miami? It’s crazy, since it’s only a four-hour drive from where I live. But I won’t get to explore too much of Miami – we’re heading straight to the port! Maybe next time!
  • will sail away on my seventh cruise. My mom and I are sailing on the Carnival Glory; it’ll be our first time on this ship for both of us! We’re stopping in Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas, where we’ll be doing a bike and hike excursion; St. Thomas, USVI, where we’ll be doing a speed boat and snorkel excursion; San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we’ll be doing a zip-lining excursion (our third time zip-lining!); and Grand Turk, where we’ve planned a lazy day of laying out by the ginormous pool and walking along the beach.
  • will enjoy the most divine day of the cruise! Departure day is always so filled with excitement and promise. There will be our first drinks of the cruise, the first time lounging on the deck, the first dinner, and the first night of entertainment. Eek – I can’t wait!

What is your “yesterday, today, and tomorrow?”

Book Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

love and miss communicationAs someone who has taken month-long Internet sabbaticals before, I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise of this book: a girl giving up the Internet for an entire year. I grow weary of the Internet very quickly, and I often need a break from updating my online dating profiles, scrolling through Twitter, reading Facebook posts, Instagramming every big moment of my life. Once a year, I try to step away from blogging and social media for a month and I find it really recharges me.

Evie, the protagonist in this book, is different. She not only gives up her online dating profiles and her social media feeds, but the entire Internet, which includes email and texting. She wants freedom from living tied to her phone and her computer, which is something I really identified with.

Alas, this book did not live up to my standards. I never felt a true connection to the main character, and I felt the author tried too hard to turn her into a ditzy chick-lit character (a la Becky Bloomwood, one of my most disliked chick-lit characters). She made a lot of dumb decisions, seemed to be a pretty awful friend, and I couldn’t understand her appeal.

I also thought the book seemed a bit dated. For one, Evie’s main cell phone was a flip phone and I just… my grandparents don’t even have flip phones. (I can’t remember the last person I saw using a flip phone!) For another, her work cell phone was a Blackberry. I’ll admit I don’t know all that much about what companies are using nowadays for work cell phones, but a Blackberry seems passé.

Another issue I had was the length the main character went with her Internet sabbatical. I understand wanting to live a life free from the Internet, but we also live in an technological world. You need the Internet for work, you need it to keep in touch with friends. I didn’t understand how texting was considered using the Internet, quite frankly. I think it’s fine to give up Internet pursuits, like social media, online shopping, online dating, maybe even email, but when it starts affecting your work and your friendships, it may be going too far.

All that said, I did think this novel told a really interesting story and I really, really loved the ending. I also found it hard to put the book down about 60% in and wanted to see how things would wrap up for the main character. If you love chick-lit, especially for those who loved the Shopaholic series, I’d recommend this book.

Goodreads summary:

This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world…and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts

Evie Rosen has had enough. She’s tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She’s over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it’s time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear–she’s done that too!)

And that’s when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie just may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn’t mean you can unplug from life.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

Have you ever taken a break from the Internet?

Virtual Coffee Date (v.4)

I haven’t done one of these posts in a long time, so I thought today is the perfect day to sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss some goings-on!

If we were having coffee today… I would most likely want to talk about my upcoming vacation. Since I’m just 5 days away from leaving, it’s the only thing on my mind! I’d probably mention that I’m having tons of vacation anticipation, but also a fair amount of vacation anxiety. (Which has to do more with worry that something terrible is going to happen to make the trip not happen than actual travel anxiety.)

If we were having coffee today… I might ask you how your Mother’s Day was. I would hope it was a good day, though I know how difficult this day is for those who have lost their mothers, don’t have a relationship with them, or are aching to become a mother themselves. I would tell you that I had a good Mother’s Day, celebrating the most important woman in my life, my mom. I would tell you that we went for a long walk, took pictures in a park for her wedding invitations, and then went out for a late lunch with my brother and his family. I might mention that I was bummed that my grandma couldn’t partake in the festivities, being too sick from her last round of chemotherapy. (Which would probably lead to a discussion of how awful cancer is!)

If we were having coffee today… I’d probably tell you that I’m feeling a bit lackluster with my workouts lately. I’d mention that I’ve been thinking seriously about a gym membership because I miss having access to classes and more workout equipment. I might even grumble about the fact that two of the five pieces of cardio equipment at my tiny apartment gym have been out of order for a while now, which limits my choices!

If we were having coffee today… I might mention how I spectated at a race this weekend and how darn happy I was not to be running it. I’d tell you that my mom and my soon-to-be stepdad both ran the 8k and did very well… and that my reward for not running was to get 7 ant bites (including 3 on my bum!)

If we were having coffee today… I’d definitely ask about what you’re currently reading, and I would talk about the book I just started last night, Hush by Kate White. I’d tell you how this was the first book I suggested for book club since my abysmal pick in August of 2014 (Code Name Verity), so I am hopeful to redeem myself with this novel.

If we were having coffee today… I would tell you that the plans are all coming together for my mom’s wedding in July! I’d laugh a little as I told you how crazy this wedding planning process has been – mainly because very little planning has happened! But then I’d tell you how a date has been set (July 11), a honeymoon has been secured (a 7-day cruise; yes, I’m jealous!), and my mom has asked her best friend to officiate (yay!). I’d tell you that, this upcoming week, my mom and stepdad will be purchasing wedding bands, getting their marriage license, and sending out invitations! Next up: finding a wedding dress!

If we were having coffee today, what would you want to talk about?

Five for Friday (v. 43)

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1) On Tuesday, I got together with a bunch of girlfriends to do a fun craft project at a DIY studio in town, called MakeMe Studio. Originally, I wasn’t too excited because crafting just isn’t my thing, but I went into it with a good attitude. I knew my final product wouldn’t be the best (it most likely would be the worst!) but I wanted to let go of perfectionist tendencies, let go of being self-deprecating to save face, and just have a good time. And that’s what happened! We painted our canvases in a color of our choice, and then decoupaged leaf-shaped scrapbook pages onto the canvas to form a flower. I don’t really think my final product resembles a flower (especially compared to what my friends made!), but I had a really fun time and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It felt really good to be creative just to be creative.

2) I am so close to cruise time I can feel it! A week from tomorrow, we leave! My mom and I are actually beginning our vacation on Friday afternoon, leaving St. Pete around 12:30-1:00 and driving down to Ft. Lauderdale for the night. Miami is only about a four-hour drive from where we live, but I’d rather drive down the day before to be on the safe side! Plus, it means we get to start our vacation earlier! Whee! We have all of our excursions booked (more on that next week!), so all that is left is getting past this next week.

3) On that same note, I am in panic mode about not getting sick. In this last week alone, five coworkers have called in sick. Obviously, you can’t be on a cruise ship while sick, so I’m going to do everything I can to remain healthy and away from all the germs. I have a pretty solid immune system (ahem, knock on wood), so I am hopeful that continuing to take my vitamins, chugging water, and washing my hands constantly will keep any germs away! I’m also considering wearing a surgical mask and sealing off my cubicle, but that seems a bit drastic.

4) I spent a fun afternoon with my two nephews on Sunday afternoon! I wanted to have some serious baby snuggles (my baby nephew is sooo sweet and snuggly!), but I knew my mom wanted some one-on-one Dominic time and I noticed that my older nephew was getting jealous of the attention we were giving the baby. So, I let my mom have Dominic and I spent some one-on-one time with Jovy in his bedroom, which was really nice! I say this all the time, but he is at such a great age! All the ages are the best ages, I guess!

5) Happy Friday! I am really looking forward to this weekend. There will be some last-minute cruise shopping, a trip to the bank to discuss my auto loan (fingers crossed they want to refinance!), spectating at a race that my mom, my future stepdad, and some coworkers will be running, and having a fun Mother’s Day lunch out. And then the countdown to my cruise and ten days off work begins!

How was your week? Any fun weekend plans?

Book Review: The Predictions by Bianca Zander

The PredictionsSometimes I read a book and it reminds me how much I love this hobby of mine. People ask me all the time how I read as much as I do, and the truth is, I just love it. I love it so much. I love diving into other worlds, I love learning about new places, I love being in a character’s head. I make reading a priority in my life because it is something I truly enjoy.

This book reminded me how much I love to read. It was a story that wrapped me up in its plot and characters and setting from the very beginning and didn’t let me go until I finished. It follows the story of Poppy, a girl who grew up on a commune. In a ceremony put on by commune newcomer, Shakti, Poppy (and the other six teenagers on the commune) is given a “prediction” for her life. Her prediction says that she will find her true love overseas. She believes so wholeheartedly in this prediction that she follows Lukas, whom she grew up with on the commune, to London.

The book follows Poppy’s journey in London, growing up and being independent away from the commune. She has triumphs and failures, just like anyone, and I just really enjoyed her character so much. She was likable, but not perfect. She was easy to root for, but made dumb decisions. I loved her. I wanted to keep reading her story.

I really enjoyed reading about life on the commune because it was a world totally different than one I have ever read before. I also really enjoyed the time period of the novel (late 1970s-late 1980s) because I can’t remember the last book I read in that time period, and I found it so interesting!

All in all, I gave this book an easy 5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience reading this novel and the book flowed so beautifully from start to finish, never breaking stride or feeling like the plot was dragging.

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the author of the acclaimed The Girl Below comes a stunning novel of one woman’s attempt to outrun the destiny that is predicted for her, moving from a remote New Zealand commune in the waning days of 1970s free-love experimentation to the heady music scene of 1980s London.

Gaialands, a bucolic vegan commune in the New Zealand wilderness, is the only home fifteen-year-old Poppy has ever known. It’s the epitome of 1970s counterculture–a place of free love, hard work, and high ideals…at least in theory. The reality is complicated and sometimes fraught, especially as its children reach adolescence. Poppy is drawn to handsome sixteen-year-old Lukas, who’s increasingly skeptical of Gaialands and the adults who shape its rules.

To help ‘heal’ the commune’s energy, new arrival Shakti harnesses her divination powers in a Predictions ceremony. All of Gaialands’ teenagers receive a card outlining their futures. Poppy, predicted to find her true love overseas, joins Lukas when he follows his dream of starting a punk rock band first in Auckland and then on to London, where punk has given way to 80s pop and hair metal. Struggling simply to survive as they navigate the city’s squats, pubs, and burgeoning clubs, she and Lukas drift apart. Poppy finds a life that looks very like the one her prediction promised, but is it the one she truly wants? And if not, can she define her own happiness, even if it takes her in unanticipated directions?

The Predictions is a mesmerizing, magical novel of fate, love, mistakes, and finding your place.

You can connect with Bianca Zander on her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Her book is available to buy from Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble

Click here to add this book to Goodreads!

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions, unless otherwise stated, are my own.

No affiliate links were used in this post.

What I Read // April

First, before I get into my book report for April, you may notice things look a wee bit different around here! That’s right – I finally launched my new blog theme and I am so, so happy with it. I wanted something that was simple with lots of white space, and that’s exactly what I got! Installing it was a breeze, thanks to the super detailed guide I received from the blog designer. I highly recommend 17th Avenue Designs if you’re looking to redo your blog theme. Cute themes for an affordable price!

And now, let’s dive into my April book report. April was a weird reading month for me, mainly because I spent over a week sloughing through a book that I eventually abandoned. Oh, well! It happens. I still managed to read 7 books this month, my favorite being Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. I’ve read 31 books so far this year, so I will blow my goal of 52 books completely out of the water. Maybe I should shoot for 75? Hmm…

Here are the books I read in April and my reviews of them!

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Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book by someone over the age of 65): Home by Toni Morrison (3 stars)
At 147 pages, this is a super quick read. (I read it in less than 24 hours.) It’s my first Toni Morrison read, and it was a good novel, but nothing stood out to me as particularly amazing. I’d like to read some of her earlier stuff before giving an opinion on Morrison (she seems very beloved and a bit, shall I say, godlike in the Book Riot circles). This was an okay novel, but I’m interested in reading her more popular works to understand the hype.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a book that I would consider a guilty pleasure): To the Edge by Cindy Gerard (4 stars)
Romantic suspense novels are my guilty pleasure by far, so this was a no-brainer for this category. Cindy Gerard is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors, and I enjoyed this novel immensely. It had intrigue, humor, character development, family, friendship, love, sexytimes, and a perfect twist at the end. An easy 4-star rating for this one!

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (a self-improvement book): Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin (3 stars)
This book was just okay for me. My favorite part of the book was learning about the Four Tendencies (I’m an Obliger, through and through), as well as other aspects of my personality. For example, I’m an underbuyer rather than an overbuyer. I love simplicity over abundance, familiarity over novelty. I’m an abstainer, not a moderator; a marathoner, not a sprinter.

And while understanding these aspects of my personality will help me as I try to set new habits, I just wanted more. More studies, more research, more practical application. There was very little practical application, and a lot of the information seemed to repeat things I learned from The Willpower Instinct (though that book goes in much better depth). I think Rubin is at a bit of a disadvantage not having a psychology background.

Also, and it pains me to say this, but Rubin just didn’t seem very likable from this book. It’s funny because she seems fairly likable (if a little overbearing) from her podcast, but she came across as condescending and judgmental in her book. She’s like the person who discovers this new thing that has changed her life and now everyone in the world needs to do/see/have this thing. And not everyone wants to do/see/have this thing. And that’s OKAY.

Honestly, if you want to learn more about self-control, setting habits, and being mindful, I’d recommend The Willpower Instinct over this one. It goes in greater detail about how our brains react to our environment and thoughts, and was a much more powerful and life-changing read for me than this one.

Netgalley review: I Don’t Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson (2 stars)
I reviewed this book earlier this month and you can find the review here.

TLC Book Tours read: About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk (5 stars)
I reviewed this novel earlier this month and you can find the review here.

Postal book club: Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (5 stars)
I tried to read this novel a few years ago, but eventually abandoned it because I found the writing to be a little too much, the main character to be annoying, and the plot to be slow. So, I wasn’t too excited to realize it was the book that was sent to me for Kathleen’s Postal Book Club. But I wanted to give this novel a fair shot, so I settled in and read.

And I loved it. Absolutely adored it. It does take a while for the book to really get its legs. I struggled through the first half of the book, but I’ve been told the latter half is much better, so I kept on. And I am so glad I did because the book was phenomenal. Halfway in, I found I didn’t want to put the book down, that I had totally fallen in love with Cornelia and Clare, and I wanted everyone to have their happy ending. It’s such a wonderful read. It made my heart so happy. It’s now a book I would totally recommend to anyone.

Others (read for fun!)

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin (4 stars)
I listened to this on audiobook and Cynthia Nixon was the reader, and she was suuuuch a great reader! I said this in a Five for Friday post, but I loved that she didn’t make up voices for the characters. One of the things that really bugs me about fiction audiobooks is when the reader makes up voices for the characters because it is so distracting.

Anyway, about the book. I really wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this novel, since it does involve cheating, but I think the way Giffin wrote about it was really eye-opening. Life is one big gray area and while we could all say what we think we would do if we were cheated on, the truth is you don’t actually know what you will do when it happens. How you will react. I think Giffin did a fantastic job with showing us both sides of the stories, and I really appreciated how she made both women – the wife and the lover – likable women, and I found myself rooting for both. (Albeit, I started to grow a little weary of “the other woman” later on in the novel.) It was a really great read, and one that made me think.

Wild Irish Ride by Jennifer Saints (2 stars)
I bought this book for free on Kindle a while back, and I am very glad I did not pay full-price for it because it wasn’t very good. The plot felt under-developed, the characters lackluster. The only good part of the book was the sex scenes, but at a certain point, it all seemed too much. It started to read more like erotica than a cute, contemporary romance novel.

book stats // april

# of books read: 7
# of pages read: 2,112
quickest read: Home (1 day)
longest read: Heart of the Matter (11 days)
multicultural: 2
formats: ebooks (3), physical books (3), audiobooks (1)

What was the best book you read in April?

Monthly Goals // May

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Happy Friday and happy first day of May! This month is filled with really fun things, including my CRUISE. I just can’t wait! But first… let’s discuss April and my goals. Spoiler alert: I did really well this month!

> finances: don’t use my credit card for any purchases

Check! This was a goal that was on the forefront of my mind all month, and I am so glad to say I achieved it this month. Since May, June, and July are going to be “spendy” months, I’m happy I was able to spend less in April.

> nagging task: organize my blogging categories

Yup! My categories and tags are all organized the way I want them, so now nothing is stopping me from launching my new blog theme. I caaaaan’t wait!

> health: exercise 5x a week or more

Another check mark! I’m averaging 5-6 workouts a week and it feels really good. I’m doing a combination of cardio intervals on the stationary bike and elliptical at the gym, strength training, and long walks. Hoping I can keep this up!

> exploration: enjoy my lady date with Emilie in Orlando

I had so much fun meeting Emilie on Saturday! I enjoyed my time with her immensely, and I wish we could just mash our two cities together. Alas!

> personal habit: take my vitamins daily

Yes! I’m now definitely in the habit of taking my vitamins with my breakfast every morning. I take a multivitamin, a vitamin c supplement, and grapefruit seed extract. No noticeable differences, but I feel good about taking my vitamins. :)

And now, let’s set some intentions for May! My sole focus this month is my cruise, but I’m hoping to make progress on some other goals! Here’s what I’m planning on:

> finances: refinance my auto loan

> nagging task: launch a new blog theme

> health: stop snacking at night

> exploration: enjoy my cruise

> personal habit: stop sleeping in my contacts (!!)

Do you have any goals for May?

Playing the “What If” Game

Last week, Krysten wrote a post about the “what if’s” of her life, and I thought it would be an interesting post to write about my own life because I play the “what if” game a lot. It can be futile, but sometimes it’s interesting to look back on your life and wonder about what it would look like if it had taken a different path.

What if… I had been accepted into the University of Florida and had a true college experience? Would I have joined a sorority and made lifelong friends and memories? Would I have gotten my degree in education instead of journalism? Would I have dated more, become more independent? Would my life be on a completely different trajectory than it is today?

What if… my father had been a regular guy, not one with a gambling addiction, and my parents had a happy, healthy marriage? Would I have had a more stable childhood, where dinner was always at six, dads mowed the lawn and played with their kids on weekends, and moms didn’t worry about the next time their husbands will hit them? How would my relationships with men be different – would being in healthy romantic relationships be the norm, not the exception? Then again…

What if… my mom had never left my father? Would my father have gotten better? Would he have made a change, been a better father and husband? Or would he have gotten worse? Would he have taken bigger gambling risks or tried harder drugs? Would my mom had even made it out of her marriage alive?

What if… I hadn’t failed my teaching internship? Would I have graduated with my education degree and become an elementary school teacher? Would I be happy with that career path? Would it have fulfilled me?

What if… I didn’t struggle with weight problems? Would I be happier, more satisfied with myself and my life? Would I have more friends and a fuller social calendar? Would I have had more romantic relationships? Would I have had the self confidence to go after my dreams?

What if… I had gotten married young? Would I still be married? Would I be a mother by now or still happily childless? Would I still be living in Florida? Would my life seem more complete?

What if… I had declined my great-aunt’s offer to adopt her older dog, Dutch, because I wanted a younger dog? Would I have found another dog that brought me as much joy and happiness as he does? Or would I have gone the past seven years without a dog? (That sounds so sad, though!)

What if… I hadn’t quit my soul-sucking marketing job to join my current company? Would I still be as miserable with my career as I was then? Would I have gotten any promotions, any raises? Would I still feel unconfident and discontent with myself because I was drowning in a terrible job and volatile work environment? Would I have found other ways to find fulfillment in my life, other than through my career?

What if… I hadn’t had the courage to attend that first book club meeting? Would I still have an empty social calendar, still relying entirely on the Internet for friendship and support? Would my daily life be lonely and empty if I had never joined this little book club I found on Meetup.com? Would I still be sitting on the couch, wishing I could take a chance and join a group and meet new people, but not having the courage to do so?

What if… I hadn’t gone on that first cruise in 2011 and found my favorite way to travel? Would I still think traveling wasn’t for me, only taking small weekend trips to Orlando? Would I have traveled at all these past few years, or would I have let the fear of the unknown keep me from new experiences and places?

As fun as this experience was, looking at the past and imagining the “what if’s,” we can’t get caught up in them. They really don’t matter because it’s not our reality. Everything that happened – every good thing, bad thing, heartbreak, joy – has happened for a reason; it has gotten me to where I am today. And where I am today is a place I am so satisfied with. I’ve built a life I truly love. And there’s no better feeling than that.

What are some of your “what if’s?”

A Weekend in Pictures – April

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I began my weekend with a quick trip to my hair salon for a hair appointment. I only needed to freshen the color and I had my stylist add more red tones than violet. It’s hard to really see that in the above picture, but I’m very happy with the result. And my hair is finally long enough to donate! (It’s about 9 inches in a ponytail right now.) So I miiiight be going back to the bob this summer – we shall see!

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After my hair appointment, I came home and took a wonderful nap. Then, Dutch and I went to the park to go on a walk! Unfortunately, it was super hot outside (89 degrees with 51% humidity!), so we only made it a little more than a mile before he was tired. I feel bad for taking him out on such a hot day. From now on, I think our long walks will either need to take place on weekend mornings (and probably before 8am!) or not at all. As a small, older dog, he doesn’t need a ton of exercise (and he gets in three walks per day of about 5-10 minutes each), but I know he enjoys these longer walks. But I also don’t want him to get heat stroke. Oh, Florida and your crazy weather.

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Saturday afternoon, I made the drive up to Orlando to spend the day with Emilie! She was in Orlando for just a day before embarking on a cruise (so jealous!), and the timing worked out perfectly where we could meet up. I’ve been reading her blog for about a year and a half now, maybe a little longer, so it was really fun to turn our URL friendship into an IRL one!

I arrived around 12:30, we had lunch at the Cookes of Dublin, strolled around Downtown Disney (escaping into every air-conditioned store we could find – it was hot, hot, hot on Saturday. Florida skipped spring this year, apparently, and we’re already experiencing summer-like temperatures and humidity.), refreshed ourselves with ice cream at Ghirardelli’s, and enjoyed some prime people watching. It was a fun afternoon, and I am so glad I was able to meet up with her! I adore meeting blog friends!

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On Saturday evening, my mom and I enjoyed a few rounds of Scattergories, one of our favorite games, while eating dinner. We laughed until we cried, formed even more inside jokes, and it was just a really good ending to a wonderful day.

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Sunday morning was a fun one – brunch book club at the pool! We do this every couple of months once the weather warms up, so this was the first one of 2015. It was overcast and windy, though, so not a super nice day – but it was a bit cool (well, cooler), which was a nice reprieve from the intense heat and humidity. We all brought brunch dishes (mine being a “parfait bar”) and one kind soul brought mimosa ingredients (mmm!) Since only one person of the seven of us there actually finished this month’s book (I eventually abandoned it – could not get into it!), we didn’t have our usual discussion about the book. But we did have plenty of other things to talk about and it was a really fun morning/afternoon with my favorite girls!

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The rest of my weekend was spent in the best way possible. I was able to get some stuff done (ran an errand and grocery shopped), while also relaxing and being lazy. I took a long bubble bath, started a new book, and caught up on some blog reading.

All in all, I had a fantastic weekend. I feel very satisfied this Monday morning, and I can’t wait to see what this week has in store for me.

How was your weekend? What’s the weather like where you are?

Five for Friday (v. 42)

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1) On Saturday night, my brother and older nephew came over for game night. We let my nephew pick the games he wanted to play, so we started with Sorry Sliders, which is a really silly game, but my nephew loves it because you get to slide and crash the pawns. After two rounds, he was finished and selected Chutes & Ladders next, but got rather annoyed when my brother ended up winning. Gradually, we convinced him to play Monopoly with us, and he handled that game pretty well! But halfway through, he got bored and started spending the time when it wasn’t his turn coloring at our coffee table. Oh, well! That’s a lot of games for a six-year-old! I’m hoping there are more game nights in our future, though, because it was so much fun!

2) I’m trying to get back into the dating world, and I’m trying to do so in a completely different way than I did before. What I’ve started to realize is that I’m not interested in settling down. While I would like to find that forever guy, I also don’t feel that pressure for marriage or commitment. I just want to have fun! Date around, meet new people, gain experience. I want to take dating a lot less seriously than I have in the past, and just have fun with it. When it comes to relationships, I can be a very intense person, overanalyzing and overthinking every aspect of it, and I want to be less intense. We’ll see how this works.

3) My mom and I are 22 sleeps away from our cruise! We are getting so excited for it. We’ve booked two excursions so far, and we’ll be booking the third one very soon. We’re really going all out for this one, something we haven’t done since our cruise in 2012. I just need these next three weeks to pass by as quickly as possible.

4) Recent podcast episodes I’ve enjoyed: Book Riot’s celebratory 100th episode, Stuff You Should Know about blood types and the history behind them, The Lively Show interviewing Hal Elrod (this one made me teary at certain parts!), and Stuff Mom Never Told You on the OCD phenomenon. (And yes, I am super behind on my podcast feed.)

5) Happy weekend! I have such a fun weekend planned. Today, I have a hair appointment (just freshening up the color!) and later on, I’m taking Dutch on a long walk. Tomorrow, I am spending the day in Orlando with Emilie (our first time meeting – I can’t wait to hug her!) And then on Sunday, it’s Brunch Book Club at the Pool! We’ll have mimosas, eat some delicious brunch food, hang out in the pool, and chit chat the morning/afternoon away! Yay!

How was your week? What do you have planned for this weekend?