All Hallow’s Eve

Yes, I know, Halloween was over a week ago, but I have not had a chance to sit down and blog about it yet. The Sunday we arrived home from the wedding in Hilton Head my sister flew in to spend the holiday with us.

Monday evening started the Halloween fun at Six Flags Over Georgia. Freight Fest was in its final days and the temperature was beginning to get crisp, but we were ready to ride those roller coasters! My sister and I have always been huge fans of roller coasters. It’s one of the few things we have in common, so we pretty much hit up theme parks whenever we’re together. Joining us were Jay and my friend Elliyah. The four of us had the best time running from ride to ride… until we rode the swings. They went up high and fast. Once we were done, we were all frozen popsicles ready to go home and drink something warm.

Tuesday evening, my sister and I had planned to carve pumpkins, make tacos, and watch Halloween movies. (sounds easy, right?) Well…. pro-tip: there are no carving pumpkins in stores the day before Halloween. We called and drove to about 10 stores before we got hungry and finally settled for mini-pumpkins. The night turned out fun anyway. We ate, carved our baby pumpkins, and watched Hocus Pocus & The Peanuts-Gang Halloween Special.

HALLOWEEN DAY: Wednesday morning, I put candy outside of our door, so our neighbors could take some as they headed to work. That night, I put on my Ravenclaw robe & neck tie to wear to dinner with my sister. We ate Chinese food and had a heart-to-heart chat. It was really nice to catch up with her and hear about her life in Houston. After dinner we drove to the airport and I said goodbye. Halloween was over and only gobstoppers were left outside my door.

Until next year, HALLOWEEN 🙂

Since I’m so behind, October’s Book of the Month will be posted next week, sorry for the wait! Perhaps you hate Halloween? Perhaps you hate roller coasters? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.

 

 

 

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Hilton Head Happily Ever After

Last weekend, Jay and I were invited to attend the wedding of one of his college friends. It was held in Hilton Head, SC which is about a five-hour drive from Atlanta. I can be honest and say I was not too thrilled to have to make the trip. I was VERY tired after the week and the thought of spending five hours in the car Friday night seemed unbearable. But I have the best fiancé in the world because he got me Taco Bell and drove the whole trip, so I could stuff myself with a bean burrito and sleep the entire way. We arrived to our Air B&B around 11pm. The condo was super cute, right on the beach, and the perfect size to share with some of Jay’s other friends. Saturday morning was a bit of a slow start on my end. I was tired, and I really just wanted to lay in the hot bath, shave my legs, and put on a sheet mask for hours… but I settled for 30 minutes.

After we finally got out the door (sorry housemates), we went to get brunch at a cute place called A Low-country Backyard Restaurant. It was DELICIOUS! I’m not a food blogger but this place was amazing, and I ate way too much. Next, we decided to do some window shopping at the Hilton Head Coligny Plaza Shopping Center. It was basically a big strip mall with fun shops where you can buy candles and oils. Eventually we found a wine tasting place that we were all thrilled to try. After the wine tasting, we passed the fish pond and strolled back to the car.

Post morning adventure we still had some time to kill. Naturally our condo was steps from the beach, so I couldn’t resist the urge to put my feet in the sand and breathe in the sea air. Wardrobe: SMU was playing Cincinnati that afternoon, so I was supporting my ‘stangs!

The wedding look place at the Long Cove Club Clubhouse. It was GORGEOUS. It is hard to put into works how fancy, beautiful, and fun the entire night was. The moment we opened the Clubhouse doors there were greeters there to hand us a glass of wine. We then made our way out to the said yard where the ceremony took place at sunset next to the golf greens. Wardrobe: I wore a dress from Francesca’s that I got on Clearance for $15! I was perfect for the occasion I felt comfortable and confident all night. There is still a blue version on the site available.

After the ceremony we had cocktail hour by an outdoor fire with an open bar a guitarist and plentiful appetizers. Every time we turned around there was more food to eat. I feel like this never happens at a wedding. Food is EXPENSIVE, so I feel like a lot of ceremonies feed people just enough, this was totally different. I ate WAY WAY too much that night.
The reception venue was inside. The centerpieces towered over the tables while candles and twinkle lights lit up the dance floor. It was truly a magical night. Jay and I danced so hard that I was sore for three days. I forgot to take a picture with Jay before my hair had fallen out, but I was glad I got one before we lift.

Sunday morning came, and all of the wedding guests were invited to a farewell brunch at Alexander’s Restaurant at the Palmetto Dunes Pavilion. The food was (surprise) delicious! After filling up on coffee, we said goodbye to the bride and groom and headed back to Atlanta. This time I drove so Jay could sleep. I was so excited to get back and prep the fridge and apartment for my sister’s visit!

My sister flew in that night and spent the next few days celebrating Halloween with us: Next week in the blog 😉

Perhaps you hate weddings? Perhaps you hate the beach? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.

 

 

 

October Cabin Trip!

This past weekend, 8 friends and I drove up to Blue Ridge, GA to enjoy a weekend in the mountains. We rented an AirB&B a few months ago and the trip organizers put a lot of work into planning our meals and activities. I arrived late Friday and the party had already started. We hot tubbed, ate snacks, danced, and I was able to surprise my friend with a cake for her birthday.

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Saturday morning was a beautiful day to relax on the porch and catch up with friends. After we got chilly, we moved inside and ate a huge brunch while sitting by the fireplace. I was a dreamy – picturesque morning. Wardrobe: My new Lady Gang sweatshirt was the perfect way to keep warm and comfortable on the porch during the chilly morning.

After relaxing around the cabin all morning, we finally started to get “cabin fever” so we all great dressed and headed into town. First, we went to Grumpy Old Men Brewing to try out some local beers. The place was very crowded, but we found a table and had a wonderful time playing Catch Phrase.

Afterward, we had a photo shoot on a truck that sits outside the brewery. Wardrobe: I wore a brand-new jumpsuit that I just got from Albion Fit.  I am obsessed with it. It even came in petite!

Once we left the brewery, we went to get Blizzards. As we pulled up to the DQ we noticed the cutest little Halloween decor outside of the restaurant. So, of course, we took more pictures…

After the Blizzards, we went rouge. I made a wrong turn and we ended up coming upon a national forest trail. We decided to walk the trail a little. It was honestly the best part of the trip. I love hiking and spending time exploring our national parks and forests. We pay for them through our tax dollars. Utilize them!

Saturday evening was full of board games and movies. Over the weekend we watched Heredity (2 out of 5), Blazing Saddles (5 out of 5), and The Conjuring (4 out of 5). If you’re looking for a scary movie, The Conjuring is a great choice, Heredity not so much. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t at all good. 😦

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Sunday morning, we all packed up and headed home. All in all, it was an awesome weekend in Blue Ridge, GA!

Perhaps you hate cabins? Perhaps you hate the mountains? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.

Happy Birthday!

Last week was my 28th birthday (I know, time flies!!) and I could not have asked for a better celebration with friends in Atlanta. I love this city because there are so many things to see, do, and experience no matter the occasion.

The birthday celebrations started on Monday. It was a federal holiday, so I had the day off from CDC. I got my first birthday package from my mom & dad. They are currently moving from Dallas, TX to Kansas City, MO. Even in all the chaos of selling their house and moving to another state they still sent me the perfect present! Two mugs from their new city, for my collection.

That night Jay and I went to one of our FAVORITE restaurants in Atlanta, The Optimist. It’s a special place to us because we had Jay’s last birthday there as well as my graduation dinner. The food and services are top notch and I love that it has become the restaurant that we go to for special occasions.

Tuesday (my actual birthday) was a busy day. I woke up and went to CDC then closed off the night working at Dick’s, but I didn’t mind. Everyone I saw wished me happy birthday and the day was full of joy. When I got home, I opened up my gifts from Jay and my best friend Katie: two books, a LADYGANG sweatshirt, make up, and a ticket to the So You Think You Can Dance Tour here in Atlanta next month.

By the time Friday rolled around I was ready to party, October Style. I gathered up some of my best friends and we went to the 13 Story Trap Haunted House in Newnan. It was a lot of fun, but I definitely laughed more than screamed. We agreed to try another (more scary) haunted house next year.

Saturday was birthday party day. I woke up, made my own cake, and watched Halloween Movies all day until party time. About three weeks ago, I’d invited about 30 friends to come karaoke with me at a Korean 노래방 (song-house). If you’ve never been to a karaoke bar, you must experience it. It’s just you, a bunch of your friends, in a private room, singing your hearts out!

I had the best birthday ever. I have the most amazing family and friends. Thank you to everyone who made it special. I love you all! 🙂

Perhaps you hate birthdays? Perhaps you hate singing? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.

September Book of the Month

I’m a bit late with this post but life has been a pretty chaotic since October started. I’ve started my new job at CDC full-time as well as staying at Dick’s part-time and starting to wedding plan… As a result of all these things, it took me a few days longer to finish my September book and write this post. Sorry folks!

Regardless of the time it took, I really loved my September book. If you may remember from my August BOTM post, I chose a non-fiction pick this month. The book was entitled Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

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I received this book as a birthday present a year ago from my friend Mindy. It’s been on my list ever since. I know a lot of people don’t like “self-help” books or think they’re too good for them, but this book will prove you wrong! I absolutely loved the knowledge and insight I gained about myself and others as I read through the chapters.

Dr. Brown has been giving TED talks for a long time on the subject of Daring Greatly. She starts off the book with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Daring Greatly is about being vulnerable in all aspects of your life. Dr. Brown researched what vulnerability looked like and how it was experienced by children, adolescents, men, and women. According to her research, vulnerability is linked to shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment. She writes how we fall into traps (like perfectionism) to try to avoid these feelings thus avoiding vulnerability. This avoidance makes us less likely to experience all that life has to offer, therefore we are not Daring Greatly. Here is the synopsis on the back of the book:

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Brené Brown PhD, LMSW, dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.

Brown explains how vulnerability is both the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, and the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Daring Greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where “never enough” dominates and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of getting criticized or feeling hurt. But when we step back and examine our lives, we will find that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as standing on the outside of our lives looking in and wondering what it would be like if we had the courage to step into the arena—whether it’s a new relationship, an important meeting, the creative process, or a difficult family conversation. Daring Greatly is a practice and a powerful new vision for letting ourselves be seen.

The most impressive part of the book was Dr. Brown’s use of Grounded Theory to further her research. I will not bore you with the details, but I was familiar with the theory as a behavioral scientist. It’s not an easy theory to implement and use let alone give TED talks and write books about! In the end, I’d recommend this book to anyone. It was simple to read and feel encouraged. After finishing, I was able to use some of its wisdom to provide advice to a friend who was struggling. I encouraged her to Dare Greatly!

OPRAH

Next month I’m back to fiction. Stay tuned for my pick, I already started it and I’m loving it so far 😉 Perhaps you hate reading? Perhaps you hate books? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.

 

 

Georgia State Fair

Recently Jay & I have been staying close to home. Traveling has been on the back-burner while we try to pinch pennies. Fortunately, Atlanta has so awesome things to see and do! Each weekend we try to take a date night around our work and football game schedules. (Can’t miss the Cowboys, Mustangs, or Gamecocks 🙂 )

In the past few months we’ve: gone to a NEED TO BREATHE concert, saw Crazy Rich Asians at the movie theatre, gone dancing with friends and, for our one-year anniversary, went to one of our favorite Mexican Restaurants. Then for two weeks in a row we decided to order Chinese food and Outback while watching Jurassic Park and then The Lost World.

This past weekend we decided to check out the Georgia State Fair. I’d never been, and it seemed like something fun to try. I was unsure of what to expect since I’m used to grandeur of the Texas State Fair. However, I minimized my expectations and made up my mind to have a wonderful time no matter how small or boring the fair may be. Boy was I wrong! The Georgia State Fair was so much fun! It was small, yes. However, we still got to eat fried Oreos and funnel cakes, ride endless attractions, and see a very impressive circus.

Honestly, I think the circus was both of our favorite parts. I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil about 10 times, so I thought I would be disappointed with the free circus provided at the fair but, again, I was wrong! It was very impressive. The performers had incredible acts and talent. It was like going to an old fashion Barnum & Bailey Show (without the wild animals).

At the end of the night I bought some fresh produce from a local farmer and have been eating on it all week. All in all, I would highly recommend the Georgia State Fair to anyone looking for a fun way to get out this fall!

Perhaps you hate fairs? Perhaps you hate fun? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.

 

 

September Party Planning

This past month has been busy and a lot of fun! When Jay and I moved into this new apartment we knew we wanted enough space to be able to entertain and have people over.

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The very first party we hosted was a Game Night inspired Housewarming Party. To prepare, Jay and I sent out texts to friends and co-workers about two weeks ahead of time. Then the night before we went to Target and got cards and board games that were on clearance. Our favorite purchase was a classy wooden version of RISK that we got for a great price. Overall, the night was so much fun! I ALMOST won Exploding Kittens and I got to meet some of Jay’s friends, Biz and Brandon.

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For food, we made baked mini-meatballs from Kate Hudson’s book, Pretty Fun. They were delicious and the hit of the party! Additionally, we asked everyone to bring a drink or finger-food to share. We ended up with Krispy Kreme donuts and homemade sangria. We will definitely be hosting another game night in the near future!

 

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The next party I planned was a Harvest Moon Gazing with just the girls! Truth be told, I’d never heard of a harvest moon, but I saw the idea in Pretty Fun and I decided to try it out.

What is the Harvest Moon? The Harvest Moon happens each year in the fall. It is traditionally celebrated in Chinese culture with games and the eating of Mooncakes. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the moon is at its brightest twice a year, in the fall and the spring. This time is celebrated as a time for renewal and excitement for the season to come.

About a week before the event I got the Gmail addresses of my friends and sent them an Evite to the party. Evite’s are pretty cool because you can choose from a variety of templates as well as specify every piece of the invite. Here is what the Harvest Moon Gazing party invite looked like:

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Once I received word on who was coming we all decided who was bringing what. I made vegetables and soma milk. This recipe is also from Pretty Fun. Soma milk is a traditional Vedic drink meant to be drunk while basking under the full moon. It is made up of almond milk, honey, vanilla beans (or extract), cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I can honestly say that it wasn’t bad…but I won’t make it again.

After we ate, we went out to the pool area of the apartment complex. We all laid down on the lounge chairs and spent some time moon-bathing. Basically, we spent 15 minutes in the silence mediating. Yes, it was a hippy-dippy as it sounds but it was also a wonderful experience to share with my best friends. After the 15 minutes of quiet time, we shared some of the thoughts and feelings we were having. We then wrote things we wanted to “get rid of” on post-its and lit them on a candle. It was therapeutic to share and release thoughts that have been causing anxiety.

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If you want to plan your own Game Night or Harvest Moon Gazing party, I recommend buying Kate Hudson’s Pretty Fun ($6.75).

 

 

These parties were so much fun to host. I loved decorating and setting up my home to share moments of laugher and joy with friends. I can’t wait to continue hosting parties in the future!

Next month I have quite a few more events planned so… Stay Tuned! Perhaps you hate parties? Perhaps you hate the fall? You do you, boo.

Best,

michelle.