Thursday, August 17, 2017

Picasso Paige

In the third grade, I was tasked with drawing Mary L. Singleton, the first black woman elected to Jacksonville City Council, to be the focal point of my class's bulletin board for Black History Month. For once, I didn't finish in class and asked to take the poster home where I promptly handed the print out of Mary L. Singleton and poster board to my mom. That night, she drew and I colored with my freshly sharpened colored pencils. The next morning, I turned in my portrait of Ms. Singleton and returned to my comfort zone of multiplication tables and long division. Meanwhile, my teacher was so impressed with my work that she submitted our bulletin board for a district wide contest and we won. Staff around my school started calling me "the artist" and my mom called my teacher to let her know that she strongly helped me with my drawing assignment but despite my protest that I wasn't the talented one, I went on to publicly receive an award from Duval County Public Schools on behalf of my third grade class from Mary L. Singleton's family.

Since third grade, I've always longed to again be "the artist" creative type. To be real and not a phony. So twenty years later, I finally felt brave enough to become an artist and create my own painting. To explain, when I moved to Nashville, I wasn't sure what to put above my couch. In NYC, I had a gallery wall of picture frames and in Charlotte, I had a wall of windows (here and here.) Though I liked the picture frames from the gallery wall, they were $3.99 from Ikea and had lived long past their expiration date and inevitability, one was always crooked. Plus, as I near 30, I felt like I should have more sophistication and be the type to have fancy art displayed on the walls in my apartment. I dreamed of having one of Inslee's figure studies or this beauty by Britt Bass and while I may have sophisticated daydreams, I'm currently a graduate student with a monthly income of $0, and couldn't afford the price tag on a print let alone a large, original. Though I scoured the pages of Etsy and Pinterest looking for affordable yet fancy looking art, I came up with nothing which led my feisty inner independent woman to think, "I can do this myself."

I'd go abstract so that if anyone critiqued my work, I could simply accredit it to their lack of refined taste. I started planning the canvas, the colors, the tools, and my mind was spinning. This was it. I was going to become an artist. I started to daydream about my studio (terrace overlooking a garden with fountains, of course) and all of the galleries that would showcase my work across the globe. Oh the exotic trips I could go on and all to gain inspiration. Or better yet, maybe I wouldn't be appreciated in my time and centuries from now, pupils would study my work in their art history classes on spaceships. Or the best scenario, I'd become so renowned that Kate would catch wind of my name and hire me to do exclusives for the redecorating of Kensington Palace. I think its clear, I had high hopes of my painting.

Hopes in tow, I went where all of the great artist go to purchase art supplies, Michaels. As I paced the aisles, I cringed at the prices I was seeing. No wonder these Etsy artists charged so much for their work. I splurged on the cheapest acrylics available and a nice medium sized canvas and made sure to swipe my DPHHS ID for my teacher discount on the way out.

I traveled home where I transformed my parent's porch into my terrace studio. Though it wasn't overlooking a garden with fountains, I had mom's lemon tree nearby and the St. John's River in lieu of a fountain. Now, where to begin. In my Pinteresting for cheap art, I had read countless articles about how to take an artist's work and recreate it for yourself and though it was tempting, I didn't want to again be a phony. This art was going to be a Danielle P. Leach original!

I spent days in my studio creating my canvas, blending the colors on my paper plate palette, and carefully brushing strokes of paint only to intentionally go over them again with a new stroke. Through this process, I realized how much I truly enjoyed painting. There weren't any guidelines or expectations. I had no idea what was I was working towards. If I messed up or didn't like my creation, I could simply go over it with new paint the next stroke. It was beautiful and freeing and while I had no idea where the painting was going, there I was dancing around the patio, paintbrush in hand.

Though I wanted the process to last forever, one day I looked at my creation and just felt this need to stop. It was right where I wanted it to be. So I did.

Now that I've rambled on long enough and because I know some of you have been waiting to see my first ever Danielle P. Leach original since it's debut on my Instagram stories, I present...

Picasso Paige's Painting Process! 

The end of day one where I realized that I was going to need a lot more of the three tubes for $10 paint at Michaels.  

The end of day three (I think.) Annnnd... 

ME! Proudly displaying first original. 

One more because this snap wasn't staged at all. 

I've been told the final resembles a cow which makes sense given my love for cows specifically, ones named Kyle (which is what I call all cows.) I wasn't sure what I would do with the painting but I am proud to share that it is currently hanging above my couch in Nashville. I haven't had anyone over to admire my work but I'm certain, once word gets out, my place will be packed with paparazzi trying to get a snap of my latest piece in transit to the hottest gallery. Get it while you can. 



The Artist 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fire Up The Grill

I enjoy being in the kitchen. There is something about a meal that brings everyone together and I love making meals for people. In Charlotte, I had a decent sized kitchen and open living space so I would frequently invite friends over for dinners, brunches, and of course, pizza and wine. In New York, my kitchen was large by New York young adult apartment standards but it really could only accommodate one person and the living room was separate so not ideal for entertaining not that anyone in New York hangs out at each other's apartments which was frustrating for my large collection of drinkware. I don't have any friends to host yet in Nashville but am hoping for more dinner parties like Charlotte. One thing I haven't been able to do at any of my apartments and certainly can't do in Nashville is grill which is why I've been maximizing every opportunity to fire up the grill this summer at my parent's house. 

I love the grill because it adds so much flavor while simultaneously leaving zero mess to clean up post meal. I've been grabbing some protein (chicken or turkey sausage) and a few vegetables and throwing them on the grill for delicious weeknight meals that have to be healthier than the Chick Fil A drive thru. Speaking of vegetables, I have some truly exciting news to share. I now eat zucchini and not in the let me take a small piece and hide it in this mound of other things bite or I'll take a bite and then down an entire glass of water to hide the flavor but actually eating zucchini all by itself and I haven't died yet so I think this is a good sign for my hopes of becoming a vegetable eater. 

Another thing I am obsessed with this summer (as is Pinterest) corn. I'm not sure there are any real health benefits to eating corn but it has to be better than french fries, right? We recently went out to eat and I debated ordering the corn and ricotta ravioli appetizer, followed by the summer corn chowder soup, and topping it off with the sweet corn risotto as my meal. I opted against this strategy but man, doesn't that sound delicious? 

If you follow my story on Instagram, you can see that I've been posting lots of pictures and videos of my creations to my story so I thought I would share a few favorites here. 

I picked up a vegetable grill basket from Target for $8. I tried to find it online to share the link but it appears to only be available in-store. It was the Room Essentials brand so nothing fancy but it seems to be doing the trick. 

First, I'll cut up whatever vegetables I purchased and put them in a bowl. I found that the red potatoes take longer to cook so I tried cutting the potatoes in 16 pieces and that seemed to be a good size. Other than that, I've done peppers, onions, tomatoes, and my new summer favorite, zucchini. Once in the bowl, I add 1-2 tbs of olive oil depending on how much I have in the bowl (it all drips to the bottom so I don't think that's too important) and then I add some seasoning. My dad loves salt so to my dismay I usually add some salt and then toss in some pepper, oregano, garlic, and parsley and mix in with the oils and let it sit. I've let it sit for 10 minutes or a few hours. Once the grill is up and flaming, I scoop the vegetables into the basket and grill away for 15-20 minutes.  For the corn, I've been able to just place it on the grill and slowly rotate so that all the sides have a nice grill marks and I cook whatever protein (typically chicken) until it's done. Theres minimal clean up and I think the meal is so flavorful. 

Another favorite is this summer corn, tomato, and feta salad. I've made this twice once on the grill and once using the skillet on the stove and HIGHLY recommend using the grill. It's amazingly delicious. This summer cavatelli doesn't require the grill but it does call for zucchini so as a new found consumer of the vegetable, I enjoyed this dish. 

Summer away my friends. Soon enough, it will be fall and we will be all pumpkin everything.



Monday, July 31, 2017

My Henry

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that we celebrated a big milestone this past weekend, Henry’s eighth birthday. I received Henry as part of my 21st birthday gift and in that time, he’s managed to fill my heart full of love and joy while simultaneously emptying my bank account. Though I can’t imagine my life without him, I wasn’t initially keen on Henry.

Almost one year to the day before Henry was born (July 28, 2008) my childhood lab, Bo, passed away during my first summer home from college. Being an only child, Bo was the closest thing to a sibling I had ever known and when we lost him suddenly to the dreaded c-word, my heart was shattered into what felt like millions of pieces. So when my parents called to tell me that they were getting another dog, a yellow lab, I surprised myself when I asked if I could have one too. It was my junior year of college and I had just moved into a house that I purposely selected because they allowed dogs.

Though he was adorable that first year, he drove me insane. I don’t think my heart was 100% healed from losing Bo and I had a difficult time learning to love him. There’s one story that I often tell that I think epitomizes Henry’s puppyhood. In our townhouse at the time, Henry stayed in his crate on the first floor in the opposite corner from the front door. A few feet from his cage, we had a love seat parallel to his crate so that you could see the back of the loveseat when you entered the door. One afternoon, I opened the door to discover that Henry had managed to bounce in his crate across the hardwood floor to the back of the loveseat and chew it so that the backing was completely open and stuffing filled the room. He sat in his crate with his tail proudly waging.

Though he frequently jumped on the counter and ate my dinner and destroyed every sock I owned from the depths of underneath my bed, within that first year, I went through my real first rocky relationship where I heavily leaned on Henry for comfort and support and the rest, is history. Through changes in friendships and failed relationships as we moved to multiple zip codes, Henry was always my one constant for the past eight years. Despite the oscillations, Henry has always been the one to need me and love me unconditionally. I safely guard my heart which has often led me to be perceived as cold over the years but with Henry, he’s the only one who I’ve ever truly been able to melt into.

Which is why, I’m terrified for his surgery tomorrow. With Henry, I’m always the worst case scenario. A small sneeze out of the ordinary can lead me to cancel every plan for the upcoming week so that I can sit at home and safely monitor him. I know an ACL surgery is common, especially with large dogs, but I feel as if I’ll be frozen until I hear from the vet after his surgery to know that everything went ok and they didn’t find anything else and together, we can begin to heal.

Sometimes when I pray, I find myself praying for my wants and always correct myself that God has a plan larger than what I can conceive and I should pray for patience while I wait for His plan to unfold instead of praying for what I want. I desperately want (and need) Henry to be OK so praying right now is tougher than ever. Selfishly, life without Henry is unimaginable. He’s been my sole source of that companionship that I deeply desire and I'm too fearful of being truly alone.

As I wait, I’ll keep listening to the uneven beat of his limpy paws coming down the hallway and be grateful for eight years of unconditional love through those big brown eyes (though praying, for many more.)

Our deepest gratitude for your prayers, thoughts, and support.



PS. A post from the archives of another time Henry sent my anxiety through the roof.

PPS. The first picture I ever posted of me and Hens! (Taken on my BlackBerry.)

Monday, July 24, 2017

NY to TN to FL and the In-between

Last week, my Dad reminded me how well I was doing updating my blog until the move. I can be productive when I have a lot going on but once it gets down to nothing to do, even the simplest tasks can be put off until tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that (hi, laundry.) Anyways, I thought I would share a few updates from the past few weeks and then commit to my regularly scheduled postings.

First, it was harder to leave New York than I anticipated. I felt like so much of me was ready to go for months and the final weeks came and I was filled with doubt. I felt slightly defeated by New York like New York had won and I don't like losing but also, I was constantly questioning my decision to grad school. So much so that I thought I should have applied to get my MBA (wonderful degree though not for me.) It didn't help that the weather was perfect and I was spending so much time with all of my friends from fun lunches and dinners to packing parties with sparking rose at my place. I had the biggest meltdown the Sunday before I left but fortunately, I have some incredible friends who knew just how to pick me up those final few days!

Aside from terrible traffic, the move itself went well. My Dad was able to pull the moving truck onto my side street minutes after the street cleaner came by so we had zero issues parking. All of the movers showed up when they were supposed to so getting my things plus me and Henry from Manhattan to Nashville was simpler than I anticipated. We did decide to leave the Friday of a long, holiday weekend so traffic was insane (like six hours to go 200 miles insane) and no one in our party was particularly thrilled with the traffic which made for a tension filled driving Friday but if thats the only thing that went wrong, I'll take it.

I spent right at a week in Nashville before leaving so I don't necessarily feel qualified to answer the "How is Nashville?" question yet. In that week, I did find the Target and Publix and let me tell you, life is glorious. The first time I went to Publix (to purchase my food for one week) I was so excited, I walked up and down every single aisle just because. My buggy had minimal items but it didn't matter, I wanted to experience it all. Also, I think I went to Target maybe five times. It's so convenient. One night, I was assembling a headboard that had been delivered from Wayfair and realized that I needed a piece I could easily grab at Target. In under 30 minutes, I drove to Target, picked up what I needed, and was back assembling the headboard. Seriously, magical. AND there is a Starbucks walking distance from new apartment that also has a drive through so really, all is well in Nashville.

While there, I did find a promo for Class Pass and joined. I prefer a community where I work out so I knew that I wouldn't be a long time member of Class Pass and found a code where it was $30 for 6 classes. I had been reading blogs about gyms and fitness studios in Nashville and wanted to try a few affordably before deciding which one was for me. Sadly, the spin studio is nothing compared to NYC but I did find a place that I LOVED. I went to a few where all of the other participants instantly sized me up when I walked in and no one talked to each other which made me feel insecure the entire time I was working out. Additionally, a few of the instructors didn't take the time to correct my form (I'm certainly not an expert) and they just yelled orders from across the room. I'm sure I am slightly spoiled from my time with Holly and Geoff but I knew there had to be more. On my last day, I tried a random place that I hadn't read about but picked because of the close proximity to campus. Everyone there was so kind, introduced themselves, and cheered each other AND they had a dog that ran around during the fitness class. I'm sold. Can't wait to try some more classes just to be sure (though I think I already know) when I get back in August.

For the past week, I've been home in Florida literally doing nothing. I feel so lazy and I have no idea why I am so tired all of the time but I also don't really care. For the past few years, I've been non-stop and I can't think of the last time that I didn't have an email to respond to so I am trying to embrace the slowness and overly indulge in a nap or two. I've been able to see some friends and family since being here which is great. Usually, my visits are short and its one dinner to say hello but nothing more so I've enjoyed having time to bounce around and have extended lunches or pools days catching up.

We plan to be here through this week and weekend and all next week before heading back up to Nashville. I have a creative project that I'm itching to start so stay tuned for details. Henry, who will be eight on Saturday) has an appointment on Wednesday with an orthopedic specialist for hips. They've gotten so bad that he can barely walk and though I try, I can't quite carry him. I've been praying nonstop for this appointment and that we are able to discover the source and have a treatment plan to heal him. He's reminding me so much of my childhood dog, Bo, before he passed right now and thats really not something I think I could handle so I'm praying continuously for this appointment on Wednesday. If you pray, please say an extra prayer for Henry and his hips and the vet on Wednesday.

Here are some snaps from our final few weeks.
Seriously, could Central Park BE anymore beautiful? (In my Chandler voice.) 

Saying goodbye to our New York home. 

Unpacking in Nashville. If you can zoom, please find his teddy bear right next to him. 

With my favorite babes in Florida. Their momma was my childhood friend and I love these babies to pieces. 

I'll be back soon.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

My NYC Top Ten

On the eve of my departure from NYC, I thought I would share my top ten things to eat, see, and do in the city.

The Met + Roof Garden Bar 
While I'm certainly not an art aficionado, I did fall in love with The Met during my time in NYC. On a typical weekend, I loved leisurely leaving my apartment and walking across Central Park to The Met and contribute my $2 donation for admission. During the winter, I'd typically spend more time exploring unchartered territories such as The American Wing or Art of the Arab Lands, though I always made time for my favorites including Monet's works in European Paintings and the time period rooms in Decorative Arts. During the summer, I'd swiftly walk through Greek and Roman Art and Arts of Africa before taking the elevator to the fifth floor Roof Garden Bar. I found comfort in being surrounded by the lush greenery of Central Park contrasted against the expansiveness of the downtown buildings.

Book Culture 
I've never been a reader. Growing up, I always struggled with reading comprehension and by struggle, I mean I was an A-/B+ student instead of the typical A+ student I was in my math and sciences. Instead of immersing myself in books to overcompensate, I shied away from reading and never really considered myself a book worm. After moving to New York, I decided to intentionally start reading again and Book Culture enabled my love for reading. I could spend hours sifting through the staff recommendations and perusing their collection of cards and gifts. Book Culture quickly became a weekend favorite and I've certainly dragged almost every visitor to their 81st and Columbus location.

Central Park
I could easily write a novel declaring my love for Central Park. I've always visited Central Park but though living so close, I was truly able to appreciate all of her intricate details. From the view of the paddle boats on the Bow Bridge to the waterfalls in the North Woods to the winding paths of the Ramble, I never tired of her beauty no matter the season. Some of my fondest memories of NYC have been in Central Park from the morning walks with Henry collecting sticks to the hours on picnic blankets sipping champs with my friends. I think Central Park might be the most difficult to leave behind as I move to Nashville.

The Ribbon 
The Ribbon is easily my favorite restaurant in NYC. I feel like it's a less hyped though slightly tastier version of The Smith. From the old Trivial Pursuit cards on the tables at the bar to the checks being delivered in an old book and the collection of maps on the walls, The Ribbon certainly has me charmed and their cavatelli pasta is to die for.

Seriously, the best chicken parmesan possibly ever. So incredibly yummy. Between the fresh ricotta and the garlic bread, I could eat here everyday.

Shake Shack
For quick and affordable, I always loved Shake Shack though, this past year I tried their Chick'n Shack and my life was changed. Absolutely the most amazing chicken sandwich ever (at Chick Fil A, I'm a nuggets girl.) I'm not sure if it's the semi sweet bun or the buttermilk mayo but either way, I strongly recommend this $7 gem on your next visit to NYC.

Levain Bakery 
Truth be told, I was apprehensive about Levain. I'd seen their ginormous cookies on every NYC food Instagram account and had heard rumors of the block long line at their 74th street location, but I don't like walnuts which come in their chocolate chip cookies and din't think I would be a fan. Fortunately, I walk by their larger, lesser known 116th street location twice daily on my way to and from school and caved to societal pressure to be trendy and try a cookie. Totally worth it even with the walnuts. These have been my "I've had a bad day and I need a cookie" staple the past two years. I definitely recommend treating yourself on your next visit to NYC and though they are moving to a larger location on the UWS, I'm sure the line will still be long and I highly recommend the trek to 116th for the cookies anyways.

Milk Bar
This was a favorite even before I moved to NYC and while I still love the b'day cake truffles, the b'day cake shake makes you believe that heaven is a place one earth (the song that was playing on my list visit to Milk Bar.)

Emack and Bolio's Ice Cream
Though I know New York has plenty of fancy ice cream ships and even shops with cookie dough pretending to be ice cream, I love plain, yummy ice cream. Emack and Bolios is perfect because they have some funky flavors, but also all of your tried and true flavors and you can live wildly by getting a crazy cone. My personal favorite, Cookie Monster ice cream in a fruity pebble cone!

Blessed Sacrament 
In my first year, I tried countless churches and thought I was turning into Goldie Locks because none of them felt quite right. I started attending the 5:30 mass on Sunday during my first spring and absolutely loved it here. There are so many entries in my Joy Journal about how much I loved Father Duffell's homilies on Sundays. I started attending the Spirit Sunday Socials and made a few friends so it was always comforting to see familiar faces as I prepared to start a new week. Additionally, the church is absolutely beautiful so I may have daydreamed about getting married there a time or two.

Though NYC doesn't come without it's struggles, I'm incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to call Manhattan (HA!) home for the past two years. Now, to Nashville!



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Recent Articles

Tonight, I have zero motivation to pack so I thought my time would be better spent writing a blog posts than sharing snaps of my lack of effort on my Instagram story. My bins arrived on Monday and so far, I have packed the living room, the foyer, and two hallway closets. Somehow, I hit the NYC closet lottery and currently have the equivalent of six closets. In Nashville, I'll be going down to two (both in the bedroom) so I am a bit worried about my storage and my accumulation of junk over the years therefore, I am trying to eliminate while packing. I'm at the phase where the novelty has worn off and if the fairies wanted to show up at any moment and pack my apartment for me, I'd gladly let them in. (Monica Gellar would work as well.)

On to tonight's post. I've read quite a few articles recently that I've enjoyed and thought I would share them here.

Katie Burke's Career Profile on The Everygirl 
I read almost everything from The Everygirl but I particularly loved Katie's advice to her 23-year old self. "Run your own race. Don’t measure your life as it relates to others, personally and professionally. And, enjoy it all — the cramped apartments, the late nights at the office, the dance parties, the long marathon training runs, the dates that don’t work out, the dates that do, the trips you take, the things that don’t quite go your way, and the fumbles you make along the way — they are teaching you more than you know." While this advice could always resonate with me, it particularly does now related to my move. I crave routines and predictability and the last few weeks have been tough with a flexible school schedule and extra time spent planning for the move. I easily get bogged down with the logistics and to-do lists and can become frustrated with everything but I'm trying to push myself to "enjoy it all." I play music while packing. I soak in the sights, sounds, and smells (unfortunately) on my daily walks around the city and have been taking detours to frequent some of my favorite spots. Instead of declining invitations, I'm saying yes to lunches, after school drinks, and walks through the park. This crazy- yet endearing- city will soon be a vacation destination and I want to savor the moments of my time here. 

Professional Praise Article on HBR 
I don't innately deliver praise and I rarely give compliments. In Charlotte, I actually worked with my therapist on being more likable at work. One of the techniques we practiced to make people feel more comfortable around me, was to give compliments. Yes, I had to role play giving a compliment. After much practice, I carefully chose my moment and decided to shout across the room to a co-worker that I liked their dress while she was doing dishes so naturally she couldn't hear me and the whole conversation was 1,000% awkward. Personally, I care more to hear about where I can improve as opposed to what I did well so on a team, I am quick to point out our flaws instead of noticing the strengths. I enjoyed this article because it pushed me on thinking less selfishly and how I want feedback, but to think more about who I am working with and how they would like to receive feedback. My Graduate Assistantship has a leadership component and I want to be mindful (particularly in the beginning) of giving more praise and establishing relationships. 

My So-Called (Instagram) Life on Modern Love 
I've always loved the Modern Love articles. I stumbled across this one today and identified so much with the writer's experiences. I'm not necessarily worried about my brand on social media but more so understood her desire to be "cool" or "laid back" in relationships so much so that actually hinders the relationship. All throughout the first dates, I'm incredibly self conscious (normal, I think) and overthink everything that I do and say. Even after a few months, I'm so focused on being removed and detached (at the fear of being denied) that I ultimately sabotage any relationship from happening. In my last "break-up" (can you call it that if you were never really together?) the guy told me I was too ambivalent. I specifically loved the blueprints, walls, and door analogy in the final paragraph. Now that I'm at least aware of this hindrance, perhaps I'll be better with the next one. To find out, I'll keep swiping. 

Before I return to packing (though I really don't want to) I have one final story story to delay the process. Today, I was on a walk through Central Park with my friend Alison when we stumbled upon a turtle on a busy pathway. He was clearly trying to find his way to safety but kept running into the fences around the lawns. Tourists were walking by and messing with the turtle so naturally, I felt charged to rescue the turtle. Seeing as I'm not 100% up to date on my turtle knowledge, we called the Central Park Volunteer hotline where I explained to them that I was on a path in Central Park and has come across a lost turtle. Quite the entertaining phone call where I learned that it is breeding season and many turtles wander far from the lake to lay their eggs. I was told to move the turtle to a grassy or wooded area and remove him (I guess it was a her if she was going to lay eggs?) from the crowded pathway. Naturally, I didn't necessarily want to touch the turtle but there was a willing tourist who carried the turtle to safety. Whew! Crisis averted and turtle life saved. 

Ok. Pack to packing!



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Life: Two Week Countdown

I can't believe it. I'm down to my final two weeks in NYC. Only 10 days left of work. It's happening and I haven't packed a thing. Which leads me to a move update. Two weeks ago, I mentioned how stressful it was planning the moving logistics. Well, it didn't get any easier. After a few more hurdles, once I was ready to give up and hope that fairies would somehow magically transport all of my belongings from NYC to Nashville, I secured a plan that is carefully detailed in a page long Google Doc. Part of this plan and the reason I haven't packed a single coaster is that I'll be using reusable bins from Bin It that will be delivered on Monday. I'm excited about this mostly because I like to pretend I'm green and I think renting reusable bins meshes well with my Whole Foods persona but also it was significantly cheaper to rent bins than order boxes and have them delivered in NYC (yes, I made a Google Sheet for comparisons.)

Before I start bribing all my friends to a packing party filled with sparkling rose, I'm off to Charlotte for another wedding this weekend. I lived in Charlotte for four years after graduating from college and part of me always thinks of Charlotte as home. Yes, my parents house in Jacksonville is home home but I think of Charlotte as molding me into my independent self. I had such a strong community in Charlotte from my church to my TFA friends and though I know it wouldn't be the same (quite a few friends have moved away since I left) I would absolutely love to call Charlotte home again someday. (Here's a fun snap of me with the QC from that time I was featured on The Everygirl.)

A few things on my mind this week...

  • I really want to prioritize my fitness and healthy eating starting with my three week vacay in Jacksonville this summer. Its tough because I truly LOVE food and I honestly don't like vegetables but I'm hoping to have more time in Nashville that allow me to make a more conscious effort. The Everygirl posted this article and while there are certainly a few recipes I want to try, my main takeaway was that I should drink more champagnes since its the healthier, lower calorie option. 
  • I lost my glasses this week. I'm so upset because I never lose anything but I've searched the twelve block between my school and apartment frantically and prayed to St. Anthony countless times with no luck, so I have an eye doctor appointment before I leave. Kind of works out because I've been paying for vision insurance for the past two years and haven't used it at all so at least I'll be able to make something out of my $2 monthly deduction and I'll hopefully be able to stop squinting at my computer soon. I had my last frames for over three years so I'm excited to change it up a bit... wondering if I could pull these off
  • This may deserve it's own post but I absolutely LOVE Downward Dog on ABC. If you haven't watched it, I'm sure you could find all the episodes streaming or OnDemand somewhere and I promise it's worth the few hour binge. 
Have a lovely weekend!



Sunday, June 11, 2017

New York, New York

"If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. It's up to you, New York, New York." When I was younger, I dreamed of living in New York City. When I was dropped off from school, I'd quickly turn on TRL and eagerly await for the shots of Times Square bustling with people underneath the glowing lights. My favorite TV shows, Friends and Gossip Girl, and favorite movie, You've Got Mail, are all set in New York. ShopGirl and NY152 definitely played a role in my attraction to living on the Upper West Side. And being the overachiever, type A personality that I am, I definitely believed in Sinatra that if I could make it here, I could make it anywhere.

Now, after two years of residency in NYC, I'd be willing move to a farm in rural America. Though, I'm not too sure how much help I'd be with the manual labor aspect of farm living and I'd certainly crave Starbucks and Whole Foods. Anyways ... Yes, New York was tough and far more difficult than I anticipated but I like to think that I made it here. That I'm not 100% defeated by this city and that I could continue to preserve if I wanted to. But, I don't have to and I'm so happy about moving to Nashville and progressing at a different pace.

I'm not a huge fan of life plans (day to day details, yes) but when I moved here, I anticipated staying longer. I remember during those first few months, I loved the diversity, the challenge, and the magic that is New York City. Even when I applied to grad school, I wasn't 100% sure I was ready to leave and thought that IF I was admitted, I could always defer. But from the moment that I received my acceptance, I knew, it was time to move on to the next chapter. Part of me wanted to stay and stick to my plan that I had created for myself but I knew I had to throw off my plan and listen to become who God was calling me to be. I feel good about Nashville. Better than I ever did about NYC and am excited (yet also a little anxious) about this upcoming transition.

I like to think that now, Manhattan is part of me just like Charlotte and Clemson and Mississippi and Montana. This city has played a role in shaping me to be who I am and for that, I'm grateful. As I prepare for this next chapter of my life, I wanted to capture what I love about New York City so I asked my friend, Margot, to take pictures of me and Henry in some of my favorite spots in Central Park. When I think of New York as home, I think of Central Park. I think of my walks with Henry every morning - espeically those in the deep winter when its still dark outside and we are both bundled in puffy coats. I think of training for the New York City Marathon where I would run in the park for 18 miles and though I was physically tired, my mind never stopped absorbing the beauty of Central Park. I think of all of the days where I didn't want to spend money so Henry and I would just grab a blanket and lay in the park and read and chew on sticks for hours. And all of the friends who have visited and journeyed with me on long walks through Central Park on our way to the Met. It's definitely where I've spent the most time and certainly home to me. Here are a few of my favorite snaps from Central Park with Henry and yes, I'll be recycling these on Instagram for weeks to come.



Monday, June 5, 2017


First, thank you for reading my blog. When I started posting again, I wasn't sure who (if anyone) would check back but I've received many positive comments in the past week that I feel empowered to stick to my promise and to continue blogging. Now that I've skirted around it for a few posts, I think I should I address why I needed my break from blogging and many other things. 

This past year, I definitely overcommitted myself in wanting to take on everything. It started in the fall studying for the GRE and training for the New York City Marathon. Both were time intensive in terms of training and self discipline and certainly monopolized the little amount of free time I had on the weekends for socializing with friends. Additionally, work was insane and far more demanding than I anticipated. When I did college applications previously, I supported six girls and while I did this in addition to a full time job, it's much more simpler to manage six than sixty nine. On my specific caseload, I had forty three scholars and I thought that I could support them all with the same level of detail and attention that I had done with my six. Between editing essays line by line and writing recommendation letters, I mentally and emotionally exhausted myself. I'm incredibly urgent and efficient and while I think these are two of my strongest strengths, they can definitely be my weaknesses when I attempt to move full speed ahead for months at a time. On top of supporting scholars with their applications, I had my own to do and would often leave my essays for last. Once January rolled around and the notorious January 1st deadline had passed for both scholars and myself, I thought it would settle but thats when Henry became intensely ill. He was diagnosed with hip dysplasia last summer and while he had been on medicine for a few months, his body was suddenly reacting though we had no idea of the cause. For over a month straight, I came home knowing I would have to clean up vomit every single day. It was draining. I had to throw away rugs, bedding, and countless towels. It was incredibly frustrating but also so upsetting because I had no idea what was wrong with Henry or how to make him better and felt completely helpless for him. The only thing he would eat was homemade brown rice with chicken and broth but that was time extensive to make and again exhausting after coming home to clean up throw up. We went to the doctor quite a few times and often, I thought it was the end. As you can imagine, the medical bills pilled up on top of what was already a pretty decent amount of debt I had accumulated and I truly thought I had reached rock bottom swimming in this sea of responsibilities that I couldn't keep up with trying to tackle everything. 

I ended up taking some time off of work with the hope of prioritizing me and figuring out what I needed to do to swim back to the surface. I reached out to a different vet and started Henry on a new medicine. He's been easing on to it since late February and has been doing well thus far so fingers crossed, this is a solution. I came clean to my parents about my finances and mom created a very detailed budget for me that included a plan for paying off of my debt. I was accepted to my top choice for graduate school so all of the studying and late night applications certainly paid off. And though I'm still plowing ahead full force at school, I'm trying to limit myself to working hours and have been leaving promptly at 4:45 PM everyday. (Well, most days.) 

While I'm fiercely independent and have been trying to do everything all on my own since I was a child, the past few months have taught me how much I need others to support to me. Whether it was my parents helping me strategically plan to pay down my debt (not something you chat with friends about) or one of my friends answering my phone calls when I just wanted to sob about Henry, I don't have to do everything on my own. Because I'm single when most of my friends are either married, engaged, or in a long term relationship, I sometimes leave my blinders on and think that I don't have anyone to support me when in reality so I am surrounded by so many who are willing if I would simply open up and ask for the help. 

I share this because I want to share the good and the bad. I know I'm not the only one who goes through difficult times and often times, I think we all feel pressured to keep the struggles so tightly secured, that it can be liberating when we are honest and share how we are really doing. I desperately wanted to do everything and I wanted to do everything all by myself but the truth is, it's impossible and I needed others more than I needed to do everything. I'll leave you with this verse that I return to as a gentle reminder when I take on too much "What you are doing is not good... The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone." - Exodus 18:17-18



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life: Traveling and Staying

Since mid-April through mid-July, I am/have been traveling every other weekend. While it's fun to travel and either explore a new city or revisit the familiar, I was happy to give the suitcase a rest for the much needed three day weekend. On Friday, we were allowed to leave when scholars left which meant I was lunching with Margot at Sarbeths by 2:00. I LOVE Sarabeths for breakfast, especially with my Dad because he lets me order like half the menu, but I've never been for lunch. They had this chicken ciabatta sandwich that we definitely should have split but we each ordered our own. This sun was shining and the bubbly was delicious so it was an ideal kickoff to MDW. I also discovered that the Rooftop Garden Cafe at the MET is open again for the season. There's a new instillation which we didn't quite understand but it's better than last year's house recreation and the views are just as spectacular as I remembered after a long winter away. This will always be my favorite spot in the city so I definitely want to try to go again before I leave in ONE MONTH!

Speaking of moving, this week has been so stressful with trying to secure movers. Apparently, the last week in June is the busiest week of the year for NYC which makes for one hectic process. When I moved up here, we drove the truck ourselves and hired movers on both ends. I thought we could do this again but getting a truck out of the NYC area costs three times as much as Charlotte and then I couldn't find anyone who was available for a labor only move in NYC. Literally, I contacted 30 moving companies. I counted. I had two movers give me an estimate for them owning the entire process door to door, but I don't like the 14 day windows they give for my things to arrive in Nashville. As of the past 24 hours, I may be on to something though... still ironing out the details of getting a certificate of insurance and securing the date (multiple folks I have to gain permission from) but hopefully, I can secure movers, find a truck in south Jersey, and then find movers in Nashville. Oh my goodness, moving is stressful! Here's to hoping before next week's update, I have it all sorted out.

I'm headed down to Tybee Island this weekend for my best friend's bachelorette party. I'm so excited by slightly bummed that I'll miss our first ever Senior Signing Day back at school. I've been working so hard the past two years for this moment specifically, but I already know where they are going and I got a sneak peek during rehearsal today. During the bachelorette planning when the I noticed the conflict, I asked myself which one I would want to remember more in ten years? I feel like so often, I choose work and I wanted to choose my friend. The signing day is really about my students and their families and a time for them to celebrate. This weekend is about me celebrating my best friend! Can't wait!

Snap of Henry from one of our long walks through Central Park this weekend. By walk, I mean Henry laying in the grass just like this! 

I'll be back next week! (This is already by second post in one week - I meant the comeback!) 



Monday, May 29, 2017

Hi! Hey! Hello!

Hi! Hey! Hello! I think all of my most recent posts have begun with some variation of it's been a while since my last post and well, it's been more than SEVEN months so yeah, it's been a while. I think when I first started, I wanted to be my own variation of the countless of other blogs floating around the internet but Elle Paige and Henry never turned into professionally photographed posts and sponsored links that funded my wardrobe. I found that this became a space for me to share my authentic thoughts and I enjoyed writing more than I anticipated and much more than I cared about putting together outfit posts - thought shooting fifteen outfits in a day around Charlotte with Emily was a hoot and I'll definitely cherish those memories of our friendship. I wanted this to be an honest, transparent blog but then, I was simply too busy (ugh, I loathe that phrase) but I was also not in a space to write.

I felt like when I would run into people, they would comment on how "perfect" my NYC life looks via the blog and Instagram and while I understand people perceive things the way they want to, perfect simply wasn't true. The truth is, I don't love New York. It's not always sparking rose on the rooftop of the Met and it's typically more showing up to work soaking wet because the wind and rain were so fierce on the twelve block walk to work that my umbrella turned inside out four times. It's less Milk Bar b'day cake milkshake and more PB&J everyday for lunch because shockingly I don't have loads of dispensable income working in education. That's not to say NYC doesn't have it's lovable moments but for me, I couldn't write about my fabulous NYC life because I felt like more times than not, it's not that fabulous.

I'd been pondering a blog posts for months now but never worked up the motivation until the past month, when two separate people (neither one my mom) asked me about bringing back blog posts. So, last week I attempted to give the blog a face lift. I like the new title font and the all white, but I think I need to watch some Youtube videos to figure out the other fonts - they are a bit messy. While I wanted to stress over making everything look perfect before sharing, I decided to leave it because that's my new approach with the blog to let it be perfectly imperfect. I'm hoping to find it more meaningful to be present and posting instead of perfect. My goal is to post two times a week but I did choose a pretty hectic time to make this commitment (I'm moving at the end of the month) but I've never been one to shy away from a challenge so let's do this!

For now, enjoy these photos that a photographer took of my apartment for the rental listing. Though NYC has been tough, I have LOVED this apartment and will miss it (and the doormen) dearly.