Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer & School

I just realized that I never got around to posting about my last week of summer or my first week of school, so that's what I'm doing today!

My last week of summer was spent doing sorority stuff all day every day. We have Spirit Week each year before school starts to prepare for recruitment. The best part was being able to see my friends that I hadn't seen all summer! We ate dinner at Panera one night after our workshops and got dessert at a new frozen yogurt place a different night.....

On Friday morning I treated myself to a Starbucks because by that point I was pretty tired and needed some coffee to pep me up!

We had a sisterhood event that night at Kings Island and it was a blast! I hadn't been to Kings Island in years but I had been dying to go all summer and hadn't had the opportunity. This was perfect! There was a chance of rain and it was really humid, so the park was pretty much empty so we walked on just about every ride. It was a fantastic night to go!

We stayed until the park closed, and I snapped this picture of the Eiffel Tower while we were on our way out. Standing there looking up at the replica made me dream a little bit about when I'll be doing the same thing under the real Eiffel Tower in Paris..... ;)

On Saturday evening I went to a party for my cousin who is moving to Chicago. It was nice to be around my family after such a crazy and hectic week!

My request for my last day of summer on Sunday was to eat at my favorite restaurant.....Moerlein! So after church, my family headed downtown for lunch that of course ended with my favorite blueberry cobbler. It was a great way to end a fantastic summer!

This week of school has been a little crazy. After being out of class for so long, it's a little weird to be getting back in the routine of class, homework, and sorority meetings. I've already got a long list of things I need to get done this weekend for school! One thing that has been great about this semester though is that I have no 8 AM classes for the first time, so I get to sleep in a little every day. I'm already loving getting some more sleep and having a little extra time to cuddle with Coco in the morning....

I'm really looking forward to this holiday weekend - I hope you have a great long weekend as well!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2014 Summer Reads

I have always loved to read. When I was growing up, I almost always had a book I was reading. Unfortunately, as I've gotten older, I seem to have a lot less time to read. During the school year, I barely have enough time to do all my homework and get a decent night's sleep. So usually reading for fun kind of falls off the radar.

In the first three months of 2014, I read three books. That's not a whole lot, and I think two of those I actually read over spring break when I wasn't in school.

But I made up for my lack of reading this summer. My summer went from the end of April to the end of August, and in those four months, I read eighteen books. I'm so happy I was able to read so much!

Since I'm always looking for new books to read, I thought I'd share with you the books I read this summer and what I thought about them. Maybe there will be one that interests you!

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris - Jenny Colgan
I absolutely loved this book! You know how obsessed I am with all things Paris and chocolate, so this book was really a no-brainer for me. It's about a young girl who gets a job working in a chocolate shop in Paris. She gets the job due to a recommendation from her old high school French teacher who knows (and used to be in love with) the owner of the shop. The book has chocolate, Paris, and romance in it - what more could you need?

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
This was one of my favorite books I read all summer. I know that just about everyone has read it, but if you haven't, you really should. The movie was phenomenal as well. It was one of those books that made me laugh out loud and sob at the same time. Not too many books can do that to me, so I thought it was really well written. For being a book about a girl with cancer, I was actually surprised by the ending. For most of the book, I thought I had it figured out, but there's a little twist at the end.

Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
I've been saying for years that I was going to re-read all the Harry Potter books one summer, and after thinking about it for several years, I decided this was finally going to be the summer where I did it. And now I'm wondering why I waited so long. This series is hands down my favorite book series. I don't know if anything will ever top Harry Potter.

I had read all seven books (The Sorceror's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkiban, The Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince, and The Deathly Hallows) at least once prior to this, but it had been a long time since I had read any of them. Heck, it had probably been eight years since I had read the first one. This was the third time I had read The Half Blood Prince and the fourth time I had read The Deathly Hallows. Ha! I was so glad I read them all in succession though - it helped me catch some things I otherwise might not have noticed. I'm thinking re-reading the series is going to be something I do every couple of years because they are just that good. They made me laugh and cry all over again even though I knew what was going to happen.

The $100 Startup - Chris Guillebeau
This was one of the books I read for my Honors project. I thought it was an interesting business read, and I did enjoy reading it (which makes me sound like such a business nerd!). If you've ever thought of starting your own business, I would highly recommend this book!

That Wintry Feeling - Debbie Macomber
I read this book right before I left for Alaska because it's set in Alaska! It was a really quick and easy read (it was between 100-200 pages). It was a love story about a teacher who lives in Alaska. I thought it was a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed it. It wasn't my favorite, but it got me in the mood to go to Alaska!

French Toast - Harriet Welty Rochefort
Again with the Paris/French books. I have a problem! This was a great nonfiction book about an American woman who falls in love with and marries a French man. She now lives in France and wrote this book all about the French and the differences between France and the United States. I thought it was really interesting to learn more about the French culture. I could see this as a good book to read if you're planning a trip to France and want to know a little bit more about their culture.


Sugar and Iced - Jenn McKinlay
This book is part of Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery Mysteries. I love mystery books, and I love anything revolving bakeries, so this series is just perfect. Every book involves some type of murder, and the two main characters who own a cupcake shop together are always involved with it. They end up trying to figure out who the murderer is in each book. For being a mystery series, I think these are really well written because most of the time I can't figure out who the murderer is until the very end. I enjoyed this book, but I would for sure recommend the entire series (and reading them in order too!).

Social Media Field Guide - Krista Neher
This was another book I read for my Honors project. Since my project involved using social media, I found it helpful. If you work in social media or are working on a project that utilizes social media, then it would be useful. I wouldn't recommend it for a bit of light reading though ;) One thing that did bother me a bit though is that there were numerous grammar mistakes throughout the entire book. That doesn't really change the content of the book, but there were enough errors to bother me. If grammar mistakes bother you, I would pass on this book.

Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella
I love Sophie Kinsella. Like absolutely adore all of her books that I've read. I haven't read them all, but I've read the first few Shopaholic books and several of her stand alone titles. They are all funny and entertaining. This one was about a girl who's great aunt dies and come back as a ghost that only Lara can see. She helps her great aunt Sadie uncover some things about her life, and Sadie helps Lara straighten out her life as well. This book was great!

Pawley's Island - Dorothea Benton Frank
I like Dorothea Benton Frank's books because they pretty much all take place at the beach. They are perfect summer reads, and this one is no different. I thought the first few chapters were a little confusing and hard to get into, but once I got past them, I was sucked in and couldn't put this book down. It's about a group of unlikely friends who live on Pawley's Island. One of the girls, Rebecca, is being treated horribly by her husband, but with the help of her new friends, they help her take him to court and help Rebecca get her life back. It was a book about love, romance, family, friends, and the ocean. It also had a little mysterious element weaved in throughout the court proceedings.

Let's All Be Brave - Annie Downs
This was a fantastic book that really touched my heart. I think everyone would benefit from reading this book because who isn't a little afraid to be brave sometimes? I loved the tone of this book and how I felt like it was a letter written from a friend. The message was fantastic, and reading it made me want to go out and live my life more bravely. This will definitely be a book that I keep forever because it would be so applicable in many different stages of life. I can totally see myself pulling it off my bookshelf in the future even just to read one chapter when I need a little encouragement.

If I Stay - Gayle Forman
I've been seeing previews for this movie all summer, and I really want to see the movie, so I thought I'd read the book before the movie came out. I ended up reading this entire book on the drive down and back to Georgia a few weeks ago. This book was so good that I could hardly put it down. It was definitely an interesting concept where the main character Mia is in a car accident and is stuck between worlds. She has to decide whether or not to return to her body or to move on. I really enjoyed the book and it made me think a lot. I'm even more excited to see the movie now!

Those are all of the great books I read this summer. If you're looking for a new book to read next, I would definitely recommend checking some of these out!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School

Today is my first day back to school. I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with the first few days of school. You don't really have any homework yet and it's a lot of just going over the syllabus.

I'm a little happy to get back into a routine. Although I've loved the laid back do-nothing days of summer, I also like feeling productive.

However, the homework, the tests, the late night study sessions? Not really looking forward to those.

I've always been a good student, so I'm not too worried about handling the classes. I'm just worried about having too much to do.

I'm not one of those people who signs up for everything. I like concentrating my time on just a few things. I know myself, and I need a good night's sleep and time to relax throughout the day in order to keep my sanity.

But looking at my planner, at least for the first month of school, I get a little overwhelmed with everything I have going on. Classes, homework, sorority recruitment, Homecoming events - it's a lot.

And I may be tired already, and I may be slightly stressed out, but then I remember how I'm already 1/4 of the way through college. In reality, I always think to myself how I don't want college to end because college can be pretty darn awesome. Sure, you have stressful weeks and late nights finishing up homework, but that doesn't seem too bad when you think about all of the fun things about college.

Yes, I'm a little nervous to go back to class today. But I'm also excited for another year of college memories.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer 2014

I start my sophomore year of college on Monday, and so this is my last weekend of summer. This was quite possibly the best summer ever. It was the longest summer I've had but it was also just filled with so many fun things.

I always like to do a little summer recap right before I go back to school, so here are some of the amazing things I've done this summer.....

Summer kicked off with my trip to Montreal (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). This was hands down the highlight of my freshman year of college. I had SO much fun with my learning community, and I still think of this trip all the time and wish I could go back. I loved pretty much everything about the trip!

I celebrated my 19th birthday!

I went to a few Red's games (here and here).

I ate Zip Dip a few lot of times.

I went on the best vacation I've ever been on to Alaska, which is my new favorite state. I know I've written this many times before, but Alaska was absolutely gorgeous, and I feel so blessed to have been able to travel there.

I spent a few days relaxing by the pool. This summer was actually a pretty mild one for the most part, so I didn't get to swim as much as I would have liked to.

I read a LOT of books, including re-reading the entire Harry Potter series. I'm planning on doing a post about all of the good books I read this summer soon.

I went to the zoo with my cousins.

I spent several days downtown with friends.

I finally started my baking business.

I spent so much time with family.

I went to Rita's a few times :)

I traveled to Georgia to go to my cousin's wedding.

And I finished my summer with Spirit Week with my sorority where we've been spending all day together preparing for recruitment.

This was an unbelievable last summer. If this had to be my last summer, at least it was a memorable one. The summer of 2014 will always be a summer filled with memories that I will cherish forever.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wedding Weekend

This past weekend was such a fun one because I went to Georgia for my cousin's wedding! I absolutely love everything about weddings, so I was happy I was able to go.

My family left early Friday morning to drive down there. Of course, no road trip is complete without breakfast at Cracker Barrel!

I read some magazines and books and listened to some music while we were driving. It was actually really relaxing.

We also had to stop at the Rita's in Chattanooga because why not? We were driving through anyway..... ;)

We got to Pine Mountain around 5:30 that evening. My cousin was getting married at the Pine Mountain Chalets. Basically this place had a bunch of little cabins around a lake. So they got married in a gazebo by the lake and everyone who was there for the wedding rented cabins. It was super convenient to be able to walk to the wedding and reception since everything was right there!

Once we got there, we checked out our cabin that we were sharing with my aunt and uncle.

There was a restaurant right outside the chalet complex, so we walked to dinner that night. I snapped this picture of the lake while we were heading to eat.

After dinner we went to a little party to see everyone else. My aunt (whose son was the one getting married) rented a huge lodge, so they invited all of us to stop over after the rehearsal dinner.

The next morning we got up and headed to FDR's Little White House since the wedding wasn't until later in the afternoon. During FDR's presidency, he owned a house down in Georgia that he visited so often it came to be known as his Little White House. It was kind of neat to see it.

This was his car that was redesigned with hand controls so he could drive it since he was paralyzed due to polio.

This was the house! It was pretty small, but I thought it was cute.

The sitting area:

My mom and I were being silly from one of the other rooms. Ha!

They had an area outside the house where they had a stone from each of the 50 states. I actually thought that was really neat. There was also a little plaque at each state saying their motto, and it was interesting to read those. I never knew that Ohio's was "With God, all things are possible," but I really liked that. In fact, that was one of my favorites! We had to get a picture in front of the Ohio stone of course.

And Alaska - AKA my new favorite state.

All of the grounds were so pretty!

This was a painting that was started of FDR the day he died. The artist obviously never finished it since FDR passed away, but I thought it was kind of interesting.

We went into the little town afterwards. When I say little, it was little. Just a handful of shops and restaurants. We ate a cute old fashioned sandwich/ice cream parlor that was really good. We popped in some of the shops, and I ended up getting these Paris napkins. Do I have any need for Paris napkins? Absolutely not. But this is what happens when you have a crazy obsession with Paris - you buy things you don't need just because they have the Eiffel Tower and some macarons on it :)

This town was small and didn't have a whole lot to it, but they had a bakery. I was so ecstatic to hear that! So we HAD to stop in and pick up a few cupcakes. I got my usual Red Velvet (it's my standard that I use to compare at all bakeries), and my parents got Key Lime and Cookies & Cream. I thought the Red Velvet was definitely a good one!

Then it was time to head back to our cabin and get ready for the wedding!

The weather was absolutely perfect, and it was so pretty how they got married overlooking the lake. As I've gotten older, weddings have become one of my favorite things ever. If you really think about the vows exchanged, it's just so powerful. To truly love someone enough that you promise to stay with them even if they get a horrible illness, lose their job, or go through something horrible is just beautiful to me. It's also the reason that I cannot stop myself from tearing up at every single wedding I attend :)

Next it was time for the fun - the reception! The reception was in a building right behind where the ceremony took place, so we didn't have to travel far. That was the nicest thing about the wedding!

Of course I had to check out their wedding cake. I definitely lean more towards the simple but classic designs, so I loved the cake. I thought their cake topper was super cute as well.

The center pieces were gorgeous too! The wedding was small, but everything was simple and classic, and I loved that.

My dad and I eating dinner....

They passed out these super fun glow sticks while we were dancing. They were SO much fun. It was just a piece of styrofoam that lit up and said their names on it, but we all had a blast waving them around while we were dancing. Such a fun and unique idea!

We got up super early the next morning to made the drive back home. It ended up being such a fun wedding, and I'm happy I was able to go. Now I just need someone else to get engaged so I can have another wedding to attend....... ;)