My Weekend Trip to Vero Beach

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Vero Beach, Florida

Tank: J.Crew (It’s made in the USA!) | Shorts: Dillard’s | Shoes: Gap | Hat: Kohl’s

Wrap: Francesca’s | Sunglasses: AE

 

Two weeks ago my mom and I took a weekend getaway trip to the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa. This trip ended up being a huge blessing in disguise. Just hours before my mom and I arrived at the hotel, my parents had to say goodbye to their foster baby, Ella, that they raised for almost 3 years. She was court ordered to go back to her birth parents after living with us since she was 4 months old. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to witness. Before we left for the hotel I asked my mom if she wanted to stay home instead and she told me it was her idea to book the trip and that she wanted to go. She couldn’t have picked a better hotel to stay at. The beauty of the hotel and the beach kept our minds at ease all weekend and helped to semi-distract the sadness for a few days.

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A few years ago my mom and I stayed at the Costa D’Este Beach Resort owned by Gloria & Emilio Estefan. We really love being able to drive less than an hour away and arrive at a place that looks like a tropical getaway. Every time I make the drive down to Vero which is not very often, I can’t believe how much different the water looks just driving an hour South. It’s absolutely breathtaking and I feel like I’m on a cruise in the Caribbean.

The hotel itself is realllly fancy. I always feel so strange when you drive up to a hotel and someone opens your door and grabs all of your bags and the toughest thing you have to do is sit up and scoot out of your chair. When I normally get out of my car I refuse to make more than one trip, so I carry 20 bags of groceries, a phone, wallet, purse, and an elephant. It feel so luxurious when someone rolls your giant suitcase straight to your hotel room while you sip flavored lemon water in the lobby. The staff even provides super soft lounge chair covers for you at the beach and pool! Usually hotel pool towels are all bleached out and scratchy but not these towels. I imagine they compare to laying on fluffy white clouds. I was highly impressed with the hotel and loved how cute shops and food were in such close walking distance. Honestly, I would have been just as happy to stay in a tent to be that close to the beach every morning. My true first and only love. If there’s a beach I’m happy.

 As soon as we arrived I was so antsy to get to the beach. Normally with hotels on the beach you can see the beach from the lobby but this particular one you couldn’t. I had to wait until our bags were brought up to our hotel room to go and search for the beach access. The nice bellboy brought our bags and gave way to long of a spiel about all the functions in our room like boring fan and tv controls. All I had on my mind was, beach, beach beach, must get to the beach!!! TV can wait until later and who needs fans anyways? Eventually we made it down to the beach and I was instantly in heaven. We snapped a bunch of these pictures then ran straight back to our room to ditch our clothes and put on our swimsuits! More photos to come soon.

First Day of School Outfit and Lunchbox

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Top: Francesca’s (This off-the-shoulder top would be cute to wear with the skirt!)

Skirt: J.Crew

Sandals: Gap

Bag: Target (Summer 2015)

This is the bag that I always use to carry my lunch with me to work. I bring it every single day and pack it full of food! What can I say? This girl needs to eat! My co-worker the other day mentioned how she loves my “lunchbox” and how giant it is. I don’t know why I’ve never considered it as one  until now, but it’s like a giant lunchbox for adults. She also made that comment the first week all of the kiddos in our county went back to school. I always get a little nostalgic around school time wishing I could participate in back to school supply and clothes shopping. I even had an outfit post last year pretending I was wearing my first day of school outfit. I guess you can say this is my second official “non-first day of school outfit”.

In elementary school, all of my friends and I always had the coolest lunch boxes in school and we were surely proud of ourselves and our Bath and Both Works hand-sanitizers (I’m talkin to you Jessica, Emily, Jennifer, Kati and Laura…ahhaha). I remember searching high and low for a school lunchbox that no one else would have. Now that I think of it, I’m sure others had the same lunchbox as me because back then (you know, so long ago), everyone bought them from Target and Walmart. It was always such a tough decision because I was so picky and you never wanted to show up the first day of school with the same lunchbox as your friend! Check out this awesome Igloo, pink and purple lunch box I used to carry. You can still buy it on ETSY! It brings back so many good memories. Elementary school…those were the good old days. My friend Laura had the same lunchbox but in yellow, blue and red. I have no idea how I remember that but it’s one of those childhood memories that are super vivid! Now when I go shopping and see all of the options for unique lunchboxes and backpacks, I wish I could buy one now and then travel back in time and show up at school with only the absolute coolest lunchbox and backpack and blow everyone else out of the water.

My eyelet skirt is a Size 2 petite. I originally ordered a 4 regular but it was huge and longer than I wanted, so the kind people at J.Crew exchanged it for me. I would probably order a Size 2 regular if I exchanged it again just to have more room in the waste for thicker shirts and sweaters in the winter. I hate when the waste band is tight, it makes it so uncomfortable and then I can’t wait to come home and rip the skirt off.

Florida Sunflower Maze

A few weeks ago a friend took me blueberry picking in Mim’s Florida, and then surprised me by stopping at Sledd’s Sunflower Maze! Florida Today wrote an article on the maze and the word got out on Facebook and then it seemed like everyone knew about it. Tons of my friends visited the sunflower maze as well because it was so close to home. I was beyond ecstatic to walk/run/skip through a sea of sunflowers for the morning. I started growing sunflowers in my garden during the beginning of summer and they grew absolutely massive! They towered over my head and 3 of them reached at least 10-12 feet in height. I have it recorded on Instagram as proof! The sunflowers in the maze didn’t compare to mine in height but it didn’t matter because you felt like you were in the middle of a sunny fairy-tale.

Top: Francesca’s (similar top from LOFT)

Shorts: LOFT

Hat: J.CrewSunflower Maze -4

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Sunflower Maze -8We thought this picture was pretty hilarious. The best part was that I didn’t even plan to match the sunflowers, I just happened to dress in white and my favorite color yellow. Yes, I wore white to pick bluberries ahhaha! As we were walking, people kept yelling over the maze, “You match the sunflowers so well!” And I did! Coincidence? I think not!

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I seriously had the best time prancing through the endless flowers. We went super early in the AM and beat the crowd, so by the time we had walked the maze twice we had worked up our appetite and were ready for some cold water and lunch. The maze has unfortunately been torn down because sunflower season is super short but they said they will possibly be planting an even bigger maze in the fall! Fingers crossed xx!!! There might be a trip to Mims, FL in the very near future!

DIY Pallet Board

A Weddin g8There is nothing that gets me more excited than seeing my artwork displayed in person! Ok, maybe chocolate and ice cream but anything I create is close on the scale right next to any delicious dessert food!  Pictured above is the Do It Yourself Pallet Board I made for my best friend Alyssa at her outside wedding reception. It was the first decoration you saw when you walked from the church to the outside reception! I originally made the pallet to match her Bridal Shower decor and hoped she could then use it to decorate her first apartment. You can see pictures of her Bridal Shower and how I used the pallet board to decorate here. The pallet board was such a fun project and one of my favorite DIY’s I’ve ever done!

DIY pallet

Just a minute from my house is a Tropical Smoothie and behind the building are always tons of leftover pallet boards sitting by the trash just waiting to be claimed by people like me. I persuaded my sister one day to come with me to grab one of boards. It was quite an adventure, as it always is when I’m with her, but we successfully picked up the perfect board and put it in my Jeep to get it safely home. My dad was such a trooper with the whole project. He helped me to re-frame the board and condense the wood together to make a solid background. The nails are no joke to remove without splitting the wood. Gloves for preventing splinters and a ply bar + hammer is a must. What would take my dad 5 minutes to pull out a few nails surely took me more than 20.

The actual making of the “new” pallet board was carefully nailed together by my dad, but after that it was all mine! The first thing I had to do was sand the raw wood. It took me an hour or so and I used a Sheet Sander. Once that was done I wanted to stain the board. Originally I thought I wanted the stain to be lighter to bring out the natural wood color but I went with a dark stain called Rust-Oleum Wood Stain (dark walnut) I bought at JoAnn’s because that was the only color they had and I didn’t want to make another trip to Hobby Lobby (talk about lazy ahahah). If I were to do it again, I’d most likely go lighter, but I am still really happy with the contrasted color of the dark background and colorful flowers.

Last I pained a clear coat to give it a glossy finish and protect it from Florida’s humidity and weather. I had to search high and low for a clear coat that would allow me to paint over the stain and acrylic paint without messing up either of those. Luckily the people over at Home Depot had exactly what I was looking for and were super helpful.

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Once the pallet was stained and ready to go, I had my friend Lucy come over and help me sketch out the design and words I was going to use. She the best artist, you can check out her Instagram here. We played around with a few designs and decided that 3 flowers clumped together in each corner looked the best. Once the flowers were sketched, my sister, Lucy and I grabbed a paint brush and started painting away. The flowers were the easy part. What I really needed help with was writing the letters for the Song of Solomon 3:4 verse I wanted written on the board. Lucy did a great job on that and once she was done sketching in pencil, I painted over the cursive words with plain white acrylic paint.

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For the wedding I actually ended up painting over the original flower colors to match Alyssa and Isaac’s wedding colors better and added more details to the center of each flower. I loved how our Bridesmaid dressed matched the board colors so well!

DIY Pallet - 7Steps to make a DIY Pallet Board:

 1. Find a board.

2. Use a pry bar to lift all staples out. Remove all slats except one to keep the wood frame together underneath.

3. Condense all slats together and leave no space between. Nail together with a nail gun.

4. Saw off excess wood frame once all slats are condensed.

5. Sand the whole new pallet board to make sure there are no rough edges or splinters.

6. Stain the board using a wood stain. I used 2 coats of Rust Oleum Wood Stain (dark walnut) and patted it with a towel after each stroke. I patted to allow the natural wood color to still come through.

7. Paint the desired design you want on your board. I used Acrylic Craft paint from Hobby Lobby, JoAnns and Michael’s). My favorite brand is Folk Art and can be bought at all 3 of those craft stores but I honestly just buy what is cheapest or the color that matches the best.

8. Paint a clear finish on your board. I used Miniwax Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish. It’s important that you find a finish that you can use with both oil and water-based stains. If I were to use an acrylic finish, I would have risked smearing the Acrylic paint and that is the last thing I wanted to do was ruin my design!

This Outfit is 100% ME!

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31 Bits Necklace

Gap Top

LOFT Eyelit Skirt (love love love this color)

Old Navy Shoes

If I could describe an outfit that accurately portrays my personality, I would so choose this one! I love everything about this outfit. Its colorful, polished, comfy, has a print, AND a bright 31 Bits necklace that draws it all together. I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is an outfit repeat. Gasp. I wore it to church, changed immediately after I got to my boyfriends house and ate lunch and then saved it and re-wore it to work the next day. I really do need to whip out my fancy camera and take pictures with it more often because my iPhone picture quality just doesn’t compare. Man it’s been hot out lately, I should enjoy wearing button downs for now because in a month, those babies will be tucked in a land far far away (my closet) until next Florida winter. And my car air broke again for the 3rd time, so I can’t just run from inside a building to a cold car to inside my house. I tried that today with a pleater skirt and lets just say it’s not fun sweating under that!

My Best Friends Bridal Shower

Wissa Bridal Shower-31In December I had the honor of throwing my BFF, Alyssa, a Bridal Shower. We met when I was 11 and she was 10 at children’s church called Wings and we’ve been best friends ever since. #bffatfirstsight I cannot believe shes been my friend for over 15 years! Since we were little, it was always our plan to be in each others wedding and it was a given that shed be my Maid-of-Honor and I’d be hers. It just so happens she decided to get married first, so I had the privilege of being the first MOH and she the first Bride! It was my first time throwing a shower and it was so fun! I love planning, delegating and decorating, so I had  tons of fun making this day special for Alyssa. My mom was kind enough to host the shower at our house! (Thanks Mom!)

bridal shower invites Alyssa Bridal Shower Invites-3 Alyssa Bridal Shower Invites-4My first duty as the MOH was to design the Bridal Shower invitations. I could have just found pre-made invitations at Target or on a website like Minted but I wanted her shower to be as personalized and unique to her as possible. I decided to design the invites myself. I got the inspiration for the invitations from a clothespin Alyssa had in her room. The clothespin had the exact same floral print as the invites, just in different colors. I had Alyssa send me a picture of the clothespin in her room and I used that picture to trace the floral print in Illustrator. The colors were inspired by magazine clippings I had laying around my computer when I was designing the floral pattern. There were different shades of greens and pinks on the magazine pages and I decided to just use that as my color scheme. I played around a bit with the flowers, colors and fonts and within a few days I had the invitations ready send to the printers. Originally I wanted to print the invitations with gold foil but it turned out to be way out of my budget. The printers would have needed to make custom metal printing plates to print any gold on the invites so I just ended up keeping the original colors I designed the invitations with. I had the invites printed at a local printing place called Flamingo Printing. I had them cut rounded edges on all of the invites to give it more of a feminine look. Once they were finished, I mailed them out as quickly as possible to ensure our guests had plenty of time to RSVP! Oh the anticipation.

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As our shower guests arrived, the pallet board I designed for Alyssa as a decoration was the first thing they saw.

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When I first started planning the Bridal Shower, I knew I wanted to make Alyssa and Issac a pallet board sign with this Song of Solomon verse that they could use to decorate their apartment with in the future.  Immediately after I designed the invites I started to make the pallet board. My friend Lucy came over to help me paint and after a few sketches on paper, we settled on using the same floral print as the invites just on a larger scale. I really love how the board turned out! It was also used in the wedding but to better match the colors, I re-painted the bright pink a soft baby pink color with detail. (Don’t mind Ella, my parents foster baby in the corner.) DIY to come soon!

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I knew I wanted to have a guest book for Alyssa that had notes of encouragement written in it from her closest family and friends. I bought a 3 pack of Notebooks from Rifle Paper Co and just used one as the guest book. To decorate the area, I used my moms antique dresser and put fake flowers in Mason Jars that I had used for previous craft projects.

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The two games we played were, Pin the Mustache on Isaac (her now husband), and “Who Said What”. For the second game we interviewed Isaac and Alyssa separately and asked them a serious of questions and then had our guests guess which statement was from who. Both games were equally entertaining and had everyone laughing.
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That’s my BFF or as she likes to say her, “BAEff”.

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Since her shower was in December, my mom came up with the best idea! Her idea was that everyone should bring Alyssa their favorite Christmas ornament for their her and her fiance’s first Christmas together. Turns out it was the best idea ever! I had printed a small note to remind the guests to bring their fav ornament and put it inside the invite envelopes. All of the guests brought the most adorable ornaments and we hung them on my fake pink Christmas tree. This was probably my favorite thing about the shower besides hanging with all of our friends!Wissa Bridal Shower-30

Thanks for all of your help guys! The Bridal Party from left to right (Kelly, Amanda, Me, Alyssa, Sarah, Michelle and Patti).

Romper is from LOFT.

Rompin Around Downtown

Romper and Dress Portraits-2Romper and Dress Portraits-5Romper and Dress Portraits-3The first time I saw this picture, my first thought was, “I could probably fit my whole fist into my gigantic mouth!” ahhahah!

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I’d say this is the definition of unintentional ombre hair. #sunbleached most likely mixed with a bit of dirty hair

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IMG_5397-2Romper: LOFT

Shoes: Old Navy

Here are some more pictures from my photo shoot in November with Oxley Photography! I adore all of the picture she took, she did such a fantastic job! If you missed my last post with the rest of the pictures, you can catch up here! Don’t forget to follow Keelyn on Facebook.

A Person Inside the Picture

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Keds x Kate Spade Shoes

DIY Flower Crown

Francesca’s Dress

There’s something about pictures that I just love! I just looooooooooveee them! I look through my Photo Roll on my phone all of them time. I love going back days, weeks, months and years looking at old photos. Photo’s capture a moment in a split second and they allow you to relive that moment over and over and over. When I look back at my photos, it allows me to remember how I felt in that moment, what I was doing, the kind of person I was, who my friends were, etc. One picture can trigger a million different thoughts.

Looking at these pictures, a few things come to mind but there are two particular ones that stick out more than others. The first thought is how much fun I had with the best photographer ever, Keelyn, while she shot these pictures. They all turned out so beautiful and we had a blast hanging and laughing outside at the park the day after Thanksgiving. If I really examine the pictures, I also remember a painful memory this dress triggers. The dress itself isn’t bad, I really like the dress, but when my sister gave it to me last year for Christmas, a few painful months followed. Clothes can also trigger memories for me, so when I look at pictures and the clothes in them, especially these photos, I am immediately pulled back in time and can remember very clearly how I felt.

To me, there’s one thing a picture is missing though, the experience. There’s me, a living breathing human being and then there’s the picture of myself frozen in time. Once the photo is captured it freezes a specific moment. I’ll use the pictures above as an example, we’ll call them “white dress photos“. These photos were taken on November 27, 2015 during a 2-hour time span. In those 7200 seconds, 120 minutes or 2-hours, there were many moments captured. During some of those moments I was walking a dog, playing in a tree, getting rained on and most likely laughing because I can’t take myself seriously while posing in a dress at 10 AM as joggers sprint past me, most likely running off their turkey dinner. Their all just moments. But what happened before all of these white dress photos were taken. I have a full 25 years of my life leading up to these so called “moments” captured on camera. And what about after the pictures were taken. What happened after? There is a full story leading up to the white dress photos, the actual photos being taken, and then my life story continuing on after Keelyn snapped my last photo.

The experience is what happened before, during and after the photo shoot. The experience is me, a person inside of the picture.  If you don’t know who I am, my traits, characteristics, quirks, or how my personality operates, you will feel disconnected from my pictures. There’s me as a person. Then there’s me in my pictures, frozen still. You cannot truly experience my white dress photo shoot without the pictures, or hearing the story, but it really comes down to experiencing me as a person and understanding my characteristics. If a stranger looked at my white dress photos and read the story of what happened during my photo shoot it would still be really hard for them to make the story come alive because they don’t know who I am. On the other hand, my family and friends know my personality and if I re-tell them stories from this day, or even stories of evens that happened before or after, they are able to re-create the moments in their head and could easily visualize how the day went. Not because they know the story better than the stranger, but because they know who I am. They have already experienced me as a person outside of the picture, therefore they can experience me as a person inside the picture. If you know me and my personality, you can look at the photos and probably imagine I was jumping around, spinning, laughing, talking, and not being very serious.

It reminds me so much of the Bible. There was Jesus death, and then there’s the before and the after. Jesus death was just a moment, there was a full story leading up to his birth, and then the story continued when He was brought back to life. The Bible continues, just like my life continues after Keelyn snapped my last photo. You can hold the Bible, look at it, read it, judge it, rip it, turn it upside down, and study it until your brain hurts. You can even hear other people tell stories about the book you just read. They can give a play by play of how the book has helped them, insights they have gotten and how they have experienced it but there’s still the disconnect. Just like my pictures above, if you don’t know me, you can’t truly experience me by just looking at my pictures. The Bible is meant so you can experience it for yourself. You can read the Bible for yourself, memorize it, re-tell stories others have told you, and never really experience God for yourself.

For me, there was a always a disconnect with the Bible and an experience. I grew up knowing about God, the Bible and His love but never truly experiencing it for myself. I would look at the Bible and look at my life and feel so disconnected. I knew a lot about God but I did not know Him as a person. You may not have been able to experience these pictures with me when they were taken, but you can experience me anytime. You may not have been there when Jesus was living on earth but you can experience Him just the same, if not more today because we have His Holy Spirit inside of us.  It’s as simple as a quick call or text, communicating with me (or Him) that you want to experience the full person I am (or He is). Just like you can get to know and experience the person inside of a picture, you can fully experience the man who inspired the Bible. You can actually know Him and not just read about Him. How great is that?!

There’s a soul inside my picture. There’s also a loving Daddy’s heart inside His word.

You can look at my picture, study my face, hold it. You can look at the Bible, study the pages and turn it.

But if you never experience me for yourself, what moves my heart, my personality, my joy, my dreams, you never get to know the person inside of the picture.

There’s also a person inside the Bible. A loving Daddy with a big heart. A true person that you can know and experience. He has dreams, desires, and a love that I could never explain.

I ask you, challenge you, encourage you to seek out the Daddy inside the Book. Ask Him to show you His characteristics. Call him up and ask to experience Him for yourself. His loving heart towards you.
I promise you, when you experience a Father’s love. You will never be the same.

Merry Cat-mas!

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Cat Dress: Purchased at Dechoe’s Resale in Orlando (originally from LOFT)

Necklace: 31 Bits

Shoes: Old Navy

Sunglasses: Francesca’s

When you find a shift dress with a cat print, you can’t not buy it. Cat print just make everything better. If you wear anything cat print, you will get tons of compliments from all the cat lovers but beware of all the dog lovers, they might attack.

I hype up 31 Bits all of the time but I just love their jewelry! I don’t think I will ever buy a stinky metal necklace ever again. Every time I put on the necklaces, I stare at them in amazement because from far away, you can’t even tell they were constructed from rolled paper.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas celebrating Jesus Birthday… and cat prints!

Newest Cozy Coupe Car Model

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Tank: WalMart (I know,  I couldn’t believe it either when I bought it.)

Necklace & Vest: Old Navy

Skirt: LOFT

Shoes: Gap

If car modeling is my next career, I vote that the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe company hires me as their spokes-girl. My little niece would make the better model anyways, she has the car balancing act down, I apparently do not. #iblameitontheskirt

Shout out to my favorite 13 year old picture taker, Paygie! (I’m such a good Auntie, I even let her take the car for a joyride after, proof here).