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10 thoughts for August.

10 thoughts for august
1. I just returned home from Haiti (blog post on my trip coming soon!) and all I can think about is how lucky I am to have what I have. A cozy bed, hot showers, three meals a day, a sturdy roof over my head, floors not made of dirt, air conditioning! The list goes on... I've never been so appreciative of the things we all take for granted.

2. On another serious note, my heart goes out to all those affected by the Louisiana floods. I have many relatives who were right in the middle of it (including my parents) and a few whose homes were damaged. Sending so many prayers and positive thoughts y'all's way! (To donate to those in need, click here.)

3. The arrival of August always makes me super antsy for fall. Bring on the spiced apple cider and knit sweaters, please. Scott and I are planning a trip up to North Carolina in November, and I can't wait to see what a real autumn looks (and feels) like.

4. I'm currently battling an ugly cough and a sore throat that cannot be beat. (I've tried everything.) So instead, I'm just waiting it out with Netflix and cinnamon tea. Shout out to Lauren Casanova (my Mission Renew roomie) for spreading the love. ;-)

5. This flick looks absolutely terrifying. And watching it may be on the agenda for tonight, depending on whether I feel like hauling my sick(ish) butt to the theatre or not.

6. Speaking of on-screen things, Scott and I are addicted to HBO's new murder mystery show, The Night Of. Anyone else on board that bandwagon?

7. I never thought I'd say this, but since Friday, I've been entertaining the idea of going back to school to study something pretty specific... Which I'mma keep to myself for right now, so as not to jinx it. But if I still don't think the whole idea's 100% insane after many more hours of prayer and consideration, I'll share my thoughts with you guys.

Right now, in case you're wondering, I'm doing some part-time work for a PR company here in Houston called Mad Meg Creative Services. Check out their too-cool-for-school website!

8. My buddy Elise introduced me to Glossier, a "skincare as makeup" line, and I'm curious to try it out. When it comes to makeup, I'm all about simple and affordable these days (mostly because I'm lazy). Have you heard of this cool new brand? The packaging/branding alone is enough to make me fall in love.

9. Sundays are the highlight of my week, because Netflix. It cures all.

10. The candid photo above was taken by my lovely and talented friend, Elizabeth, at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts last month. It begs the question: Am I admiring art or pondering life? I think, perhaps, a little bit of both.

Touring Europe: Pisa + Lucerne.

On our way from Florence to Lucerne, we stopped in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Honestly, at the time, I couldn't care less. This is because, while walking through the little town, I spotted a sign for a 24-hour pharmacy, and got so excited. Sort of like an 8-year-old gets excited about a candy shop. (I was dying, remember?) It just so happened to be Sunday, and every other pharmacy I had stumbled upon in Italy was closed. Turns out, the Piazza dei Miracoli really is miraculous. 

Even though all I could think about at the time was getting my hands on some meds, I snapped a quick photo of the tower in all of its crooked glory. 

Once in Lucerne, we lugged our things from the main square to our hotel. Which, come to find out, was originally built in 1862 as a prison. (Notice the bars on the windows.) You should've seen the look on my face when we discovered we were going to be sleeping in an actual jail cell! What fun. (But actually, it was pretty fun.)

Our journey up Mount Pilatus the next day was so beautiful (and just a little scary), we didn't want to ever come down. As you can imagine, the cold air blowing through the peaks was a refreshing break from Italy's heat, and for once, I didn't mind the chill. We spent most of the morning up there, in awe of this magnificent country. 

Lucerne was definitely one of the loveliest places I've ever visited, and despite the brevity of our stay, I can honestly say I felt the most at home here. For several hours after our journey back down the mountain, Kristen and I sat in a Starbucks charging our phones (prison hotels don't have electrical outlets, apparently), and simply embraced the stillness. Even though we weren't out adventuring or exploring, I still felt on top of the world. There's something about just being in a brand new city that awakens your soul, you know? And having your best friend by your side -- well, that makes it all the more special.

Later that afternoon, on a paddleboat ride across Lake Lucerne, Kristen actually stripped down to her skivvies and jumped in the freezing Swiss water. It was an amazing moment -- one of my proudest as a best friend -- and I got the whole thing on camera. (I won't share it here out of respect for Kristen's privacy, because I promised I wouldn't.) Being the cold-blooded wuss that I am, I did not jump in after her. Somebody had to man the boat lest it float away, and I was happy to take one for the team.

That evening, while trying to find dinner, we got stuck in yet another torrential downpour (I'm noticing a pattern here...) and took cover in the cutest little wine bar and cafe. For the 100th time since the start of our trip, we discussed the mysteries of life and love over a bottle of wine and another three-hour meal, in pure European fashion. We really do make the perfect couple, her and I. ;-)

And then, before heading back to our cell for some shut-eye, we bought all the chocolate our little hearts -- and stomachs -- could handle. 


Making memories at Lake Tahoe.

In lieu of a honeymoon abroad, Scott and I thought it'd be much more fun to plan the perfect vacation for both of our families while we still can (ahem, before any little ones decide to grace us with their presence). Since December, we've been trying to pick the ideal locale, set a date that works for all, and make the trip of a lifetime happen. And with our parents' help, it all came together even better than we expected! Lake Tahoe won out as our first choice destination, and from the photos, it's pretty easy to see why.

The ten of us (parents, siblings, significant others and all) met up in Reno and then together made the hour and a half trek up the mountain to Kingsbury, where we stayed for seven nights in a large forest cabin with an incredible view. Mornings were spent hiking up rocky trails in the crisp, 50 degree weather -- not a cloud in the sky -- and afternoons saw some of us snorkeling in Nevada's breathtakingly cold waters. Evenings were for gambling at the nearby casinos, or grilling out on our back porch, roasting marshmallows for dessert, and playing card games around the dining room table. Late-night hot tub parties may also have ensued.

Some of Scott's extended family live near Tahoe, so we spent one of our first afternoons barbecuing at the house with the whole clan -- most of whom he hadn't seen in years. I'd heard a lot of great stories about his cousins, and finally getting to meet them was definitely a highlight of our stay. Others included picnicking in Sand Harbor, sunbathing on the beaches of Emerald Bay, feeding the ducks on the shores of Fallen Leaf, and diving one at a time into the icy Eagle Lake. 

I especially enjoyed the day we toured Virginia City, an old gold mining town dating back to the 1850s. In the midst of exploring, we snacked on saltwater taffy from its darling candy shoppes, drank Sarsaparilla at the bar of a haunted saloon, and ran into a herd of wild horses behind the community's oldest (and loveliest) church. With each step, the deep-rooted history of the place became more and more palpable. The people, as friendly as could be.

While I won't soon forget the beautiful views, glorious weather, and many adventures wound up in our summer travels, the one thing I'll remember most is how our whole families joined together so effortlessly for the fifth time in little over a year. There's something really special about that, I think, rare as it is. And in the future -- when our lives (inevitably) become busier, the distance between us grows wider, and our schedules align less frequently -- I'll look back on Lake Tahoe in remembrance of where it all began. The unbreakable bond of this wonderful family, our family.

Gone fishin'.

Happy Father's Day to all the beloved dads out there! I'm a little behind in saying that, but I spent the weekend fishing with my own father and lots of wonderful family members, and it was really nice to unplug for a day or two.

Here's to starting the summer off right. 

Nine months ago...

We got hitched. And this is how it all went down:

A HUGE thank you to Casey and Ashley Culver for putting this lovely video together for us! It makes my heart so happy to be able to relive those wonderful moments in Spicewood last September.

That weekend was everything and more.

Touring Europe: Florence.

I'm going to be straight-up honest. I didn't enjoy Florence as much as I could have. Not because it wasn't particularly beautiful or interesting, or even because we got rained on for about an hour as we were making our way down the winding path from Michelangelo Square.

Unfortunately, my 36-hour stint in Tuscany wasn't exactly the Diane Lane induced dream I had hoped for, only because I was fighting a terrible cold that made my entire upper body feel as if I was slowly suffocating to death. (This is what I texted everyone back home, on the off chance I wasn't going to make it. Yes, I can be a world-class drama queen. Sorry, Mom.) Like I was saying, Florence wasn't my finest moment.

And for that reason, I feel as if I owe Florence an apology. Because it was such a wonderful part of Italy to explore, with gorgeous churches and amazing statues and cute English bookstores and doughy pizza that I devoured with blissful abandon. Every artsy fartsy bone in my body fell in love with its old-world charm and renaissancial opulence, a playground of history and culture at my fingertips. But you probably wouldn't've guessed it then, because I imagine I must have resembled a disinterested zombie for the better part of our stay. 

To what did I owe the bodily suffering that was causing my lack of zeal? Maybe it was whitewater rafting in the mountains of Austria on a very damp and chilly morning, and then jumping in Munich's freezing stream only a few days before. Cue the violent cough that would not subside. Am I complaining? Not even a little bit. It was all so worth it. And actually quite funny, because in the videos that Kristen took while wandering around Florence, all you can hear is me coughing in the background. It makes us giggle every time. 

Florence, you were lovely. In rain or shine. Not crowded with tourists like Venice or confusingly large like Rome. A glorious Tuscan city that stands all on its own.

Luckily, we made it to the top of the city right on time to take in the best views before the heavens opened up and soaked us from head to foot. It was a really hot day, though, so the rain wasn't totally unwelcome. Just a little inconvenient...

We managed to survive the torrential downpour on the way down, but sadly my pigtails did not. Thank goodness for my scarf, which was used to cover up the damage. Taking refuge in the beautiful Basilica of Santa Croce, the two of us sat in silence and said a few prayers before heading back to the hotel to change clothes. Then it was off to a fancy dinner and a technicolor nightclub with the rest of the gang. If there's anything Europe taught me, it's that life is all about balance.

Music was blasting and the lights were blinding. Shots of who knows what were passed around. Declining drink after drink and feeling exclusively lame, I sat nursing a cup of chocolate gelato and taking pictures from the sidelines as the girls grooved on down to the dance floor alongside an outgoing group of Italian men. By this point, I felt slightly feverish, embarrassingly loopy (regardless of my sober state), and a little like my throat was closing up.

But I'll never forget watching Kristen show off her moves like it was her last night on earth. Even though I wish I would have had the strength to join her, looking back, it was probably one of the highlights of my trip. 

Thank you, Florence. Despite my relentless dry hacking and brief but severe bout of hypochondria, you were oodles of fun.


Hi world. I'm still here.

Currently, I am...

Drinking: red wine because it's Thursday night and my Memorial Day weekend starts now.

Loving: the new Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer that came out a few days ago. Watch it and be amazed. (The music is enough to make me cry. Gah.)

Reading: Always Emily by Michaela MacColl. I found this YA novel on my bookshelf when I was looking for something to read this week and thought why not. I'm about 50 pages in and honestly, not crazy about it. I remember it originally sparked my interest because the main characters are the Bronte sisters, and although they're 17 and 19 in the book, it reads a little young. I might have enjoyed it more ten years ago. In other news, I just finished The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley, a novel that is 100% worth sharing. (If you want to borrow my copy, shoot me an email!)

Stressing over: nothing, really. I think that's the first time I've ever been able to say that, and it feels so good. 

Thankful for: the means to turn my hobby into a career that I love. I'm very lucky.

Listening to: the new Beauty and the Beast teaser trailer. It's playing on repeat in the background.

Learning: to take better photos, and to edit them using Affinity Photo and Photoshop. Working on those photography skillz, y'all.

And a little bonus fun fact: This past weekend, I experienced the magic that is Reve Coffee Roasters in Lafayette for the first time, thanks to my uncle. It's kind of the coolest coffee shop ever. (And yes, I will be replicating that Coffee Belt map in my own kitchen one day...) Mmkay, bye.

Get lost.

Seven months ago, my life changed in a major, major way. I got married, moved into my husband's apartment, and started working a new job -- all within a few weeks.

Since then, everything has felt like a turning point, as I've endeavored to find the balance between working, being married, maintaining somewhat of a social life, and living as well (read: healthfully) as I can. A maze of small challenges and accomplishments make up a solid routine, each blessed day unfolding into another.

And it's all been so wonderful.

But this life is a curious thing, and just when you finally start to feel halfway settled, it begins to shift again. As if to say, don't get too comfortable.

And sometimes, your priorities will shift with it. You begin to realize what's most important to you, and what -- after all these years of desperately trying to figure it out -- you truly want. And if you're lucky, you have a family (in my case, a husband) who believes in you enough to say, "Go for it, girl." Even if it's a risk. Hell, even if it makes absolutely no sense.

Because life is a journey, and it's the only one we get. At 24 years old, I'm not quite ready to settle in, or to get comfortable just yet. What is that popular saying, the one about reaching a destination being only half the fun of getting there? Something along those lines.

Our lives are changing once again, slowly but surely. And just like last time, I'm welcoming it. Because what else do you do when you're along for the ride? You lean into the turn, take every moment as it comes, and let yourself get lost.