Cha-Cha-Changes

As you have probably noticed, there have been some changes made to my blog. I’m excited to say there are more coming on Monday (hopefully). I will be re-branding and trying to get everything set up this weekend. We are always changing and growing, and I want my blog to be able to evolve with me.

I should be able to change all my social media and redirect my url so that you won’t have to like or add any new accounts. You will just see a different blog name on everything. This is of course assuming everything goes smoothly so fingers crossed. I hope you will stick around to see the changes! If you do, thank you in advance for bearing with me during the transition (in case there are some hiccups).

 

I Wish I was Watching Doctor Who

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There is something about the cold weather that makes it impossible for me to get up in the morning. Not only do I dread the prospect of leaving my warm blanket burrito, but I also hate that it is completely dark when I wake up now thanks to the stupid time change. Coming into work today was a real struggle. I would much rather be watching a Doctor Who marathon while enjoying a Pumpkin Spice Latte, under a warm blanket on the couch.

In case you didn’t know, I am a HUGE Doctor Who fan. Yes, I am a complete geek. I have seen every episode at least twice (I have seen my favorite episodes more times than I can count), and now I want to start at the 9th Doctor and go right through to the current series. I am ashamed to say I haven’t watched a single episode of the current season with the new 12th Doctor. Every time a new Doctor replaces the former one, I, like most Doctor Who fans go through a period of hating the new Doctor and missing the old one. I can’t imagine anyone replacing Matt Smith, just like I couldn’t imagine anyone replacing David Tennant, and I haven’t wanted to give the new Doctor a try.

I think I am finally over my prejudice against the new Doctor and I am ready to fall in love all over again. And for the record, I don’t mean romantic love. I’m not that much of a fan girl.

Unfortunately, I can’t watch just one episode of Doctor Who. One simply isn’t enough. I have been saving up all the episodes from the current season so I can binge watch them, but unfortunately, by the time I get home from work during the day, I am so tired and lack the stamina necessary to stay up late for a good, old-fashioned binge session.

If you don’t watch Doctor Who, you should. I cannot express how much I love the show. It definitely goes down as my favorite show of all time. Basically, Doctor Who speaks to my should. It may sound dramatic, but it’s the genuine truth. It can be cheesy in parts but it is otherwise fantastic.  It is the only show that has the ability to make me laugh out loud, cry, make my heart swell, and even break it. It gives me so many feels. It also has a great underlying theme of always maintaining hope and trusting in the good of the world. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but sometimes I need a reminder to keep up hope and trust in the good in the world.

Why I Love The Cold

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I guess technically, it is still Fall, but here in Atlanta we got about two weeks of fall weather before it got really cold and began to resemble winter. I’m loving every second. I would trade the cold for heat and humidity any day.

1| The holidays – the winter holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year. It just feels happier to me. I am not one of those people who complains when stores get ready for the holidays early.

2|  The clothes – Two words: fleece leggings! Once it cools down, it get to wear my favorite pieces of clothing – my fleece leggings, boots, and sweaters. I think winter clothes are so much more comfortable and cuter than summer clothes. I love getting bundled up under a warm scarf and jacket!

3| Snuggles – What is better than snuggling on the couch under a warm and cozy blanket? It’s one of my favorite cold weather activities. The only thing that could make it better would be if I had a fireplace.

4| Low electricity bill – During the summer, I usually have to keep the air on to keep my condo at a livable temperature, and my electricity bills are ridiculous, no matter how much I try to conserve. Luckily, once it starts too cool down, I can just open my windows and let in the cool air. I like it really cold in my condo, so I only turn the heat on during the coldest winter days. My electricity bills are so much nicer in the winter.

5| Snow – ok, so snow always causes a disaster here in Atlanta, but I still love it. The world just looks more magical when it is covered by a blanket of snow. The chance of snow always gets me giddy and excited like a child.

Netflix Picks Part 2 by Jackie from Our Nashville Life

Hi, I’m Jackie from Our Nashville Life and I am so excited to be posting here today!

A few weeks ago, Rebekah did a post on her love of Netflix and her favorite original Netflix picks. While I will always be indebted to Netflix for giving all of us Orange Is The New Black, I have always been a bigger Amazon fan. For $49 a year, you get free 2-day shipping on all your orders, free Prime music, free Prime photos, and free unlimited Prime instant video streaming. Here are some of my favorite series that you can stream right now from Amazon.

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars: I am so ashamed to admit that up until this spring I had always shrugged off this cult classic show. It is easily one of the best teen shows that has ever been made. The show stars Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, the daughter of a local private eye, who helps her dad with his investigations. Little known fact: the show also stars Amanda Seyfried in the first season.

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother: This show is legen—wait for it—dary! If you consider Friends to be the best comedy sitcom the 1990s, then HIMYM is easily the best of the 2000s. It is one of those feel good shows where you wish all of the characters could really be your friends. It’s perfect if you’re needing a pick me up or a good laugh.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: If you haven’t already been sucked into this show, you must watch it and catch up before the new season starts in January. The premise of this show seems kind of yawn-worthy, but I guarantee once you watch it you won’t be able to stop. Confession: about three years ago I started watching Downton Abbey when I was sick. I may or may not have faked being sick for a few extra days just so I could finish binge watching the entire series.

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Six Feet Under: I have a couple friends that have been telling me for years to watch this show. Everyone would tell me how great it was and the series finale has been voted one of the best finales of all time. Six Feet Under is about a family that runs of funeral home in Los Angeles. If I were to describe the show in one word it would be perfect. The writing, the dark humor, the characters, and especially the finale–everything about this show is perfect. (P.S. Amazon Prime has almost every single HBO show available for free streaming.)

So there you have it…if you’ve been looking at an Amazon membership not only will you get the free 2-day shipping but they also have so many amazing series available to stream.

Atlanta Blogger Meetup at Glow Dry

10733974_883986154996810_6506430542070192891_nOn Sunday the Atlanta Blogger Network had our Fall meetup at Glow Dry and it was fantastic.

First off, Glow Dry is beautiful and was the perfect venue. It was wonderful of them to allow us to use the space for our event.

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Second, and most importantly, there were new faces at this meetup in addition to familiar ones from the last get together. It’s great to meet new local bloggers and it’s exciting to see our network is growing. Becca and Melissa are doing an amazing job running the network and they completely outdid themselves with this event.

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It was so much fun to get together with local bloggers and really get to know one another. Building relationships offline with bloggers you already know online has been such a wonderful experience and I am so thankful for the Atlanta Blogger Network for bringing us all together. I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent my Sunday other than sipping mimosas and talking shop with friends who actually care about blogging.

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I’d also like to give a shout out to our amazing sponsors who generously contributed to our event. Firstly, as I said before Glow Dry was so helpful in allowing us to use their space for the entire afternoon. Our other sponsors made it possible for us to have adorable swag bags. Rafflecopter gave us a monthly membership for free, which will definitely come in handy. Brownie Brittle gave us delicious treats that I couldn’t stop eating. Moxie Makery gave us an adorable and eco-friendly pencil that now has a permanent and designated spot in my bag with my planner. Inkspot Workshop gave us a beautiful wall print that I am absolutely obsessed with. Pla Beauty gave us a tube of their Glam Lipgloss that I LOVE. In other words, we were showered with great goodies, so thank you to all our sponsors!

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What’s In A Name?

Picking a blog name is serious business, and for me, close to impossible. You want it to be catchy, but not silly, meaningful, but not lost on readers. I quickly picked my blog name after switching blogs due to a real privacy concern. Time to brainstorm was not a luxury I had so I went with the domain name that was available and tried to make it work. I realized to most it may seem awkward and confusing, but it made sense to me, and I just went with it. I’ve really wanted to rework the existing name, or simply rebrand as they say, and come up with something completely new for a few weeks.

When I came up with the name I was struggling with debilitating anxiety, and had been for some time. All I wanted was calm. Lavender had always served as a calming tool for me. The name is meant to represent my pursuit to find and live a calm life.

The problem is we grow as life goes on. We change. Our viewpoints change. Our struggles change. My anxiety is thankfully under control and I don’t find myself seeking the calm I so badly needed when this blog was created.

So what’s in a name? Does it have to have a deeper meaning? Does it just need to be catchy? Is there room for our blogs to change with us? Is changing names or rebranding blog suicide?

 

Halloween

Luckily, I heard from the vet and was able to go home for Halloween with Sophie, without having to worry about exposing anyone to the parasite. He said she had been treated aggressively 3 times and was no longer contagious. I quickly loaded up the car, threw Sophie in, and off we went. Turns out she gets car sick.

We got to my parent’s house in the early afternoon on Thursday, and the first order of business was to set up my Halloween Hello Kitty blow up that David got me last year. I can’t really use it in my condo, and I knew my niece would love it. The first thing she did when she saw it was run up and hug it.

IMG_0359My parents and I spent the rest of the day just hanging out at home and playing with my niece. I was relieved to see that Sophie was super gentle with her, and that my niece wasn’t afraid of her. They became fast friends.

The next morning we went out to breakfast and walked around the little downtown where my parents live. Seeing them with my niece was precious and made me so glad I had been able to go home.

IMG_0368Next we went to Target to find my niece little Ugg-like boots, and I was sure to pick out these cute little pink Converse for her. As her aunt it’s my job to keep her cool and trendy. I mean, are they not the cutest things ever?

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After shopping, we stopped at the park to get in some time on the playground, then headed home to get ready for Halloween. Sophie was a good sport about her costume, but she hated the little head-piece so I let her try to destroy it instead of making her wear it. She made a great minion.

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My niece was Ariel for Halloween and she was absolutely adorable. She however refused to wear her sparkly shoes and insisted on wearing her slippers instead. None of us were going to object since it was a miracle we were even able to get her into the costume. At first she didn’t understand what Halloween was, but once she started to get candy in her pumpkin, she got really excited. She had no idea it was candy, but she liked being able to pick out the candy and throw it in her pumpkin. She wouldn’t let anyone else hold it for her, even when it got too heavy and she kept dropping it.

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It was such a wonderful experience being able to be there for her first Halloween and the first time she went trick or treating. Halloween is such a different experience when you spend it with kids, and it was a blast. Their excitement rubs off on you. Seeing her do her little unsteady run from house to house with her huge pumpkin in hand warmed my heart. These are the moments that matter in life


 

 

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Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

Today I am really excited to introduce you to Becca from Becoming Adorrable. Becca is a fellow Atlanta blogger and I have truly enjoyed getting to know her over the past months. Her blog is a must read and always keeps me coming back for more. Be sure to check out her posts on her wedding ceremony, why she rescues, and how life doesn’t always turn out how we planned.
Why did you start blogging and why do you continue to do it?
I started blogging in 2012 when Tim and I got engaged (http://becomingadorrable.com/2012/09/05/i-said-yes) with plans of it starting out as a wedding planning blog. This didn’t work out at all, because wedding planning was incredibly stressful for me! I continued blogging a few months after the wedding, and I’m still chugging along. I love the community that blog-world has become!
If you could go back and relive any memory, which would it be and why?
I would relive age 4, because nap times were still a thing back then. I can’t believe I dreaded nap time!
If you could live abroad for 1 year, which country would you choose?
I would probably live in Deutschland. I studied German for 3 years, so I can at least ask someone where the toilet is.
What is was one of your favorite songs in middle school?
I was obsessed with Backstreet Boys back then. I remember when “I Want It That Way” first came out — I was OBSESSED. I would watch the local music video channel for hours until the music video aired again!
Do you have any tips for new bloggers?
Network! Building relationships with other bloggers will take you further than you ever expected, and keep you motivated!

A Parasite Is Ruining My Halloween

I am at the age where I feel like I am stuck between two different kinds of Halloween. I am over the stage where you wear a cute costume and go out partying all night while continuing to be shocked by the amount of skin some women choose to show year after year. I am also not yet at the stage where I have kids to take trick or treating. So what is a girl to do? I certainly don’t want to spend the night sitting on the couch.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, but the last two years or so, it just isn’t as exciting. I love figuring out a costume and going all out, but then I don’t know what to do after that. This year my niece is staying with my parents during Halloween while my sister and brother-in-law are on a mini vacation and I thought spending Halloween with her and seeing it through her eyes would be a blast.

I had planned to go home tomorrow for the weekend to spend the holiday with my parents and niece and take her trick-or-treating for the first time. I got all excited about my costume, bought materials to make it, and ordered Sophie a matching costume. Then I got some not so great news from the vet.

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Turns out Sophie has a nasty parasite that is extremely contagious, not just to other dogs, but to humans. She has been under quarantine for two weeks now, so as not to expose any other pets or people. We have already gone through one treatment, but the test afterward still came back positive. We just finished the second treatment, at a higher concentration of medication, and I am waiting for results. They may not come back until Friday morning. Obviously I can;t take her to my parents house and risk exposing my niece to the parasite, so now my Halloween plans are on hold. I am hoping the results come back late today or early tomorrow so I will still have enough time to get down to Mississippi in time for Halloween. I guess it’s a good thing I haven’t made my costume yet.

The good news is neither David, I , or either of that cats have caught the parasite (I have been using a lot of Lysol). I am told the symptoms would be unmistakable. The odd part is Sophie doesn’t have a single symptom herself, and never did. The only reason she was even tested was because it was part of a routine check up. two vets in the practice we go to (a husband and wife) are in disagreement as to whether she is contagious with no symptoms. Either way, we went ahead with the stronger second treatment, and I still don’t want to risk exposing anyone else.

Saving Money For The Holidays

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I think all of us can agree money tends to get tight around the holidays. I’d been worried about how I would be able to find the extra money for gifts and then Stephanie from Not Entirely Perfect gave me the perfect idea. She recently wrote a post about how she plans to use Swagbucks to cover all her holiday gift expenses. I had signed up for Swagbucks a while ago, but never actually used it or took the time to really learn or figure out what it was. Reading her post reminded me that it even existed, and opened me up to the new idea of earning Swagbucks to buy my loved ones gifts. I had never even occurred to me. Apparently I need to step up my blogger game and get more involved with reward sites!

So now I am working daily to build up my Swagbuck bank. I highly doub’t I’ll have much by the time I need to start buying gifts, but every little bit helps!

Do you use Swagbucks? Any tips on earning them? Do you use any other reward sites?

Harry Potter Vacay: Recap

This past weekend David and I went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, mostly to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and have been waiting years to be able to go to Universal just to see it all come to life. I’ve tried to get David just excited as I am about Harry Potter, and while he has really grown to like it, he is nowhere near my level of obsessed. He was such a good sport and so patient while I just ogled and awed over everything.

Since Universal Studios was closing early at 5pm for Halloween Horror Nights, we decided to start our day there. Plus it seemed only natural to explore Diagon Alley before heading to Hogwarts and Hogsmead.

Once we got to the London section of Universal, I saw Kings Cross Station and immediately got giddy, grabbing David’s arm and pointing. We followed the crowd toward a red brick wall, and when we turned the corner, what was hidden behind that wall took our breath away.

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There were several alley ways in Diagon Alley to explore, filled with stores from the books. Walking around truly made me feel like I was in the books and movies. It was so realistic and well done. I didn’t want to leave.  I could have spent all day just sitting and enjoying my surroundings. They even included Knockturn Alley, which has a really neat store in it that focuses on the villains and Deathly Hollows, so be sure to go explore the less desirable side of Diagon Alley. David was so patient with me while I explored every nook and cranny of the place.

We took a break in our exploration to jump in line f or the Gringrotts ride. We ended up waiting 2 hours, but there was no way either of us was going to skip the ride. Obviously the rides aren’t very long, and I doubt any ride is truly worth a two hour wait, but the ride was fantastic regardless. The detail inside the bank was amazing just like it was all over the rest of Diagon Alley. They even had goblins and newspapers with moving pictures for you to look at while waiting in line!

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IMG_0337IMG_0335Before leaving Diagon Alley, we were sure to visit Olivander’s and check out the wands. You can buy 30 something famous wizards wands (including Harry, Voldemort, and Death Eaters), or buy one that coincides with your birthday. They also have plain wooden ones and interactive ones that allow you to do magic tricks at specific places within the park. I knew selecting the right wand was a serious decision so I decided to think on it and buy my wand at the other Olivander’s shop over in Hogsmeade.

Before heading over to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, David and I had to get Butter Beer. Butter Beer was one of the main reasons I was so excited to go to Universal. They sell it in both parts of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but we couldn’t wait any longer to try it. When we entered the little pub we found ourselves faced with some tough choices.

IMG_0289I stuck with my original plan to try Butter Beer and David got the Wizards Brew, which was a dark lager they brew on the property. It actually tasted pretty good, but both of us agreed the Butter Beer was better. It was fantastic. So rich and foamy. It is similar to a cream soda, and the foam tastes a lot like the foam on top of a cappuccino. It’s so sweet and rich, that an entire cup is too much. I couldn’t finish it no matter how delicious it was. You also get foam all over your face when you drink it, which is half the fun. I also managed to somehow get it all over my pants, but it was a small price to pay.

IMG_0290IMG_0300As it got close to 5pm and Universal Studios was about to close, David and I headed over to Islands of Adventure to explore Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. We had planned and were really excited to take the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station but the wait to get on the train was 45 minutes, and by that point in the day, we were losing our patience with lines. We decided to skip the train and just walk over to Islands of Adventure.

Entering Hogsmeade was wonderful, if not as shocking as rounding the corner to see Diagon Alley had been.

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IMG_0307Before really exploring, David and I decided to go get in line for the Hogwarts ride. The wait was only about 45 minutes and the ride was fantastic, just like the Gringotts one. Of all the rides we went on that day, those two were my favorite. It was amazing to walk through Hogwarts in the line and see familiar scenes like Dumbledore’s office and the defense of the dark arts classroom.

IMG_0316After the Hogwarts ride, we went on to explore Hogsmede. It felt a village trapped in Christmas and it was magical. I had so much fun exploring Honeydukes and the other stores. While exploring we saw that the Dragon Challenge roller coaster had a 15 minute wait and we jumped right on. It’s a traditional roller-coaster and we both loved it. After the ride, David and I headed over to finally purchase our wands. I knew I wanted Snape’s, and wondered why I even felt doubt or the need to think about it in the first place. From the very first book, for some reason I was always drawn to his character, and he was always my favorite, even when seemingly evil. David, who has only seen the first 3 movies was confused why I would want Snape. He picked out Dumbledore and when the wand clerk said it’s the most powerful wand, I told him now he has to watch the rest of the movies to find out why.

When I say that wand went with me everywhere, I am not exaggerating. I carried it around with me and wouldn’t put it away, back in its box. I looked like a kid. Even after we left the park, it came with me to dinner in my purse. It even made me question my muggle status when David asked me if I knew any spells and I did the Patronus spell. My Fitbit instantly went off. I mean, I could have just hit my step goal, or I could be a half-blood wizard (or even full blood since I am adopted after all) and my letter to Hogwarts somehow got lost. I like to pretend it’s one of the later options.

IMG_0325 The trip to Universal was everything I had hoped it would be. I will caution that Diagon Alley was insanely crowded, and so was Universal Studios as a whole. Hogsmeade and Islands of Adventure were much less crowded. Despite the crowds and lines, we both had a wonderful time. I can check it off my bucket list now, although I have no doubt I will be going back in the future.

The next day, David and I spent the day with his father and his girl-friend. We went to 4 Rivers, which is supposed to be the “best BBQ ever” and I have to admit it was pretty delicious. Needless to say between the theme park food, Butter Beer, and BBQ, I feel like I gained 50 pounds this weekend.

IMG_0328Needless to say, it was an amazing weekend!