Safari at McKee Botanical Garden

If you’ve never been to McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, Florida, you must go! It’s so beautiful! There’s 18 acres of waterfalls, bridges, tons of plants, flowers and lily pads! The first time I went I even saw a baby alligator and he scared me so bad I jumped. I though it was a fake one to scare off other animals (you know like the fake ducks anchored in a lake) but he was sooooo real. We later found out from the garden workers that he was an uninvited visitor and they had to call in local animal services to come and pick him up.

McKee Botanical Garden Vero Beach, FL - Katies KroniclesDress: J.Crew

Shoes: Old Navy

Purse: Target (similar)

Hat: similar

McKee Botanical Garden Vero Beach - Katies KroniclesSuch a local tourist. Is that even a thing?

McKee Botanical Garden Vero Beach - Katies Kronicles

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This was my second time visiting the garden and I wanted to bring my My Mamma to show her around!

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See the water on my shoes? Those are rain drops. Out of nowhere it got so hot and humid and started to pour. My mom and I ran and hid under a covering. Typical Florida day. 5 minutes later it was sunny but the humidity didn’t leave. It got so warm after the rain my mom and I couldn’t stop sweating. I don’t think we lasted an hour before we had to leave. The back of my dress was soaked! I would highly recommend going in the Spring time when all of the flowers are blooming and your not a sweaty cranky mess.

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Seriously the cutest baby pineapple ever!

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After it stopped raining my mom walked around with my little niece on FaceTime showing her around the garden. They talked practically the whole time we walked. Here’s me showing her some of the garden. Yep, looks like I’m taking a big ole selfie.

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Follow me on Instagram for more pictures from the garden, my style and everyday life!

How God Provided for My First Car Payment

I’ll give you a little hint. It has to do with doggie sitting a sweet Golden named Gracie. In June I had to depart with my beloved Jeep Grand Cherokee and buy my first big girl car. I’ve never had a car payment before so I was completely worried and panicked. My first two cars my parents helped me out but this new car was all on my own. Last year the air conditoning in my Jeep stopped working and it was the saddest day ever. I was able to keep it alive for a few months by re-filling it with Freon but it would only work sporadically. After having it refilled a few times the auto mechanics discovered a leak in my air conditioning that would cost me thousands to fix.

I drove around for months with my Jeep’s air not working and was really trying to prolong buying a new car. I did not want to part ways with my beloved Jeep. By the time the Florida summer heat hit full swing in May I couldn’t wait any longer, I needed a new car ASAP because it was only going to get worse. Driving to work dressed nice and arriving at work dripping in sweat is the worst feeling ever. When you drive home from the gym at 7:30 PM and it’s still 91 out, you really wish you had air then.

New Car 2016My and my new car!

In May I caved and started to hunt for new cars. I went to a few dealerships around town to test drive some SUV’s and looked for sales on Memorial Day weekend. My dream car would have been a Jeep Wranger Unlimited Sport where I could take the top off and cruise to the beach during the summer. Since Jeep’s were not in my budget range, I knew I had to look for other car models. At the beginning of June I found a Mercury Mountaineer at the same dealership my parents bought my sisters first car. The car was in my budget, I could trade my old Jeep in and put that money towards my new car, it was spacious, drove similar to my Jeep, had 7 seats and most importantly it had air! I was sold and within a few hours I had purchased a new car.

During the actual process of buying the new car, there were so many extra fees I hadn’t previous planned for. My old car ended up not being worth as much as we originally thought, so that meant I had less money to put towards my new car. They also said I needed new car registration (costs an arm and a leg) but because my bank wouldn’t give me a loan, I had to have my dad co-sign. Apparently working at the same job for 3 years didn’t work in my favor, so I no longer needed new car registration.

The thought of throwing down more money in one day than I originally planned and thinking of having a car payment each month made me feel sick to my stomach. I started tearing up in the car dealership. Overall I was just feeling super bad about myself wishing I made more money. Buying a car that costs more than you make in a year and almost having to drain your savings account will do that to you. The fact that I needed a parent to co-sign was extremely frustrating and I was felt like I was failing as an adult. I needed a car with air so there was so backing out, I frantically prayed God would provide. The good thing was that I didn’t have to pay my first car payment for two months, meaning I had until August.

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Top: Francesca’s, Short: LOFT, Shoes: Gap, Doggie: Gracie

A few weeks before I bought my new car, I was asked to doggie sat for a sweet family traveling to Ireland while they were away and said yes! By the time it came to doggie sit, I had my new car and was driving it all around town. It was great to have air-conditioning again but I was still concerned about making my first car payment. I totally forgot about this, but the money I made in June while doggie sitting was all used towards my new car title and tags. God has been working the whole time! He knew I wanted a new car and he knew I was worried about paying for it.

During my stay there I was really wanting to doggie sit for more people because it’s so fun and an easy way to make money on the side. One day while I was driving with a friend, I prayed out loud, “God, please give me a doggie house on Beachside or Riverside!”. I was really specific and prayed half serious, half jokingly. I love the water, so I thought it would be super fun to stay at a house with a water view and I didn’t care if it was on the beach or on the river, I just wanted to be close to water.

At the end of June, I was refereed by my previous dog sitting house to their friends who needed a doggie sitter for the month of July. I was immediately contacted by the new dog family and they asked if I could watch their sweet dog Gracie for 10 days. Get this, their house is on Riverside! It’s not exactly on the water but it was pretty darn close. By July, my silly prayer was answered. I accepted their offer and stayed at their house and had the best time ever! But that’s not the best part!

Before I officially started doggie sitting at the house on Riverside, I had met up with the dog’s family to get the house key and discussed how much I would get paid for each day. We decided on $20/day, so I expected to make $200 in 10 days. When I showed up at the dog house for my first day, the family paid me in advance and left me a check on the counter. When I opened the check, it was for $240 and was $40 more than I originally expected. It may not seem like a big deal but I was blown away. I had been worried about paying my first car payment in August which was going to be $232. The check amount I was given was exactly enough to pay my first car payment and that family had no idea! I even had $8 left over. I was over the moon excited. Not only did my prayer for a Riverside house get answered, God provided for my first car payment!

Here’s pictures of the sweet dog I watched and the neighborhood I stayed in. It was less than 5 mins from the beach!

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Pretty House in their Riverside neighborhood. The people were seriously so friendly and everyone knew Gracie! I had random people coming up to me every day talking to her like she was an old friend. One of their kind neighbors even offered me his number in case anything happened and I needed to contact someone in case of emergency. Their front gate guards were beyond friendly and always so nice to let me in even when I kept forgetting how to pronounce the last name of the residents house I was staying at.  DogHouseFlamingoFloat-9

Bike ride with my sister around the neighborhood the day before she moved to Montana for a year and a half.

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Staying in the house was seriously so fun! Their house was less than 5 minutes to one of my favorite beaches. I surely took advantage of using their bikes to ride to the beach multiple times! I’m one to make anything fun, so of course I rode down the street on a bike with a giant flamingo pool float around my body. That was quite an adventure and I dragged my friend Julie along for the ride. We had a blast and it was the perfect ending to my stay at the best dog house ever!

P.S. Remember how I prayed for houses to doggie sit at on Beachside or Riverside? Well, I was contacted by one of my friends whom I regularly dog sit for and they now live on Beachside. I will be doggie sitting their golden retriever, Chloe, during Thanksgiving Week. My whole prayer was answered and I will have doggie sat on both Beachside and Riverside!!!! Ahhhhh, God provided so perfectly. I have a feeling God set this all up before I even bought my car!

Dinner on the Beach

On the first night in Vero Beach my mom and I ate at Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill, a local restaurant with an ocean view. It was so close we could walk there from our hotel which is a huge plus in our book. I love being able to walk around after eating dinner, especially if its on the beach. The second night my friends Isaac and Alyssa (remember the one who’s Bridal Shower I planned) came to visit us and cheer up my mamma. We loved Mulligan’s so much we took them back the second night. After dinner we walked the beach and had ice cream from a food truck!

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LOFT Tank Top

Gap Shorts (old)

31 Bits Necklace

Gap Shoes

Kohl’s Hat (similar from Aerie)

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I promise we were not laughing at the “Mr. in the blue swim trunks” crashing our picture.

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If your ever in the area you need to visit Humiston Beach Park. It’s a public park right on the beach! If I had kids I would make the hour trip just to bring them to this park. The swings are under a covering (a must in the Florida heat and very surprising I haven’t seen this at more playgrounds) and they have super cool swings big enough for adults. Other yummy places to eat at within walking distance of our the Vero Beach Hotel and Spa are Ocean Grill, Citrus Grillhouse and The Red Onion Eatery.

Thanks for the photos Isaac Dean Photography!

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.