Friday, November 20, 2015

Calamari Dates: I-Drive 360 Experience

A couple weeks ago was Veteran's Day and since Lamar had the day off we were able to have a date day! Huzzah!

We went to I-Drive 360.  That's the area where the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and the Orlando Sea Life Aquarium are located.  It's actually quite a cool setup with all three attractions being housed in one building.  Plus free parking ^.^

First, we went to Madame Tussauds.  We took a picture with President Obama and MLK.  I put my foot next to Shaq's and I'm pretty sure his foot is the same length as my whole shin!  Lamar's hands are the same size as Serena Williams' o.O and he danced with Michael Jackson and I'm a hair taller than Beyonce' lol.  Being in there was a little creepy mainly because I kept expecting them to move. Ugh... that thought gives me chills!

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Orlando Florida President Obama Martin Luther King Jr. Michael Jackson Beyonce

Next we went to the Sea Life Aquarium.  I felt like a little kid squealing about the tiy jellyfish and itty bitty Nemos.  We also saw Dory (Regal Blue Tang) and a huge Gil (Moorish Idolfish).  Towards the end, they had a rock pool area where we could touch everything in it.  So. Many. Weird. Textures!  But I touched everything except the fish because it was too fast.  I think my favorite things to touch were the sea cucumber and the anemone.  The sea cucumber was weird because I couldn't feel it, but I saw that I touched it... does that make sense?  It was like sticking your finger into a bubble.  The anemone closed up and tried to sting my finger but couldn't because my skin was too thick.

Sea Life Orlando Aquarium I-Drive 360 Sting Ray Jellyfish Eel Sea Star Anemone Fish Sharks

Lastly, we rode the Orlando Eye.  It was really pretty to see the city from so high up at night.  I took a time lapse video and it came out pretty cool.

To end our date day, we got a few souvenirs: a ridiculously huge mug for Lamar and a bunch of pressed pennies and a shopping tote for me.  Then we ate french fries at Shake Shack while watching a group of people play petanque.  Of course Lamar started quoting the Cosby scene. ^.^  I definitely want to go back and play.

All in all the day was really good.  We don't get to spend many non-Sabbath days together because of our work schedules.  So that Wednesday was a welcomed change in pace.  We took lots of pictures and I kept pretty much every piece of paper for scrapbooking :)

What was the last excursion you went on?  Have you and your significant other had a particularly awesome date day/night recently?  What are your go to date ideas? Leave a comment, I want to plan more date nights with Lamar.  I've definitely learned that you have to make time to spend with the people you love.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Winter Garden, Florida in Photographs

The final city installment in the 'Historical Downtown Photographs' series is Winter Garden!  I took these photos back in September after shooting an early morning workout class.  The class ended just before sunrise, so I was able to take advantage of the beautiful morning light.  I especially had to jump on that opportunity because I am by NO MEANS any type of morning person ^.^ lol!  So let's get on into the photo-goodness!

Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography
Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography

Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography

Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography

Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography

Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography

Winter Garden, Florida, Lake Apopka, Historical Downtown Areas, Visit Florida, 30 before 30, Photography
There you have it!  My third downtown area photographed ^.^ As you can probably see, I have a weakness for the look of shooting into the sun... what can I say, I love a good lens flare!  I really had a lot of fun shooting in the early morning. Maybe I'll do it again... *shrug* maybe.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

October 2015: Month in Review

Here it is... about 2 weeks late.. better late than never I suppose. So October, there were a couple high points of this month.  The first being a visit from my dad :)  We celebrated a couple birthdays and I did a good bit of baking.  Here's the rundown of what Calli did during October!

10/2 : Dad Visited & I baked chess pie and lemon cake

10/3:  Sheree's Salsa Soiree birthday party.  I took lots of cute photos of all the dancing.

10/5: World Teacher Day.  There are too many teachers in my family for me to let this day pass quietly ^.^

10/8: This was my first attempt at making macarons.  It was a fail.  But still tasty.

10/13: Second attempt at making macarons.  Total yummy success! Check out the blog post -here-!

10/15: Made gifts for my bosses at work for Boss' Day.  They loved them ^.^

10/16: Started scrapbooking my birthday photos.  Here's a couple of the layouts.

10/20: I went to Lamar's girl's volleyball team's last game.  They lost, but I had a good time watching.

10/22: This day I decided to do December Daily and started to plan how I want to do it.

10/24:  A couple of our friends had their baby gender reveal. It's a boy!  Lamar and I had lots of fun taking pictures of the party.

10/26: I had a long conversation with my cousin Dawn about crocheting and life.  It was a nice surprise phone call :)

10/29: I finished a baby gift set for one of my college friends.  It came out really pretty.

10/30: Dad sent me a couple fall pictures from Delaware.  Be still my heart!

10/31: Lamar and I celebrated his friend Paul's birthday.  We took pictures there and I made the party favors!

Throughout the Month
1. I finished my One Landscape photo story. Check it out -here-

2. We started gearing up for the holiday season in the studio.  Christmas backgrounds were coming out more often and holiday decorations were starting to pop up around the mall.

3. I did some mini-hauls while building my December Daily kit.  I'm so excited to try my hand at this project!

October Goals Review
1. Photostory: One Landscape - DONE!
2. Etsy live by Nov 1 - I decided to cancel this because there was way too much other stuff going on.  Etsy will happen one day.  Maybe in the new year.
3. Less Eating Out - Fail... Def didn't make food for lunch or anything -___-
4. Yoga once a week - Nope.  This was not even on my mind.  I'll do better.
5. Finish 3 books - DID IT!  I'm really working towards my 30before30 reading goal. I'm currently half way there. I think I can do it!

November Goals
1. 2 weeks of water/tea/100% juice only
2. Photostory: Photo-an-Hour
3. Get a handle on & maintain laundry
4. YO... flippin... GA...
5. Finish 3 books

Friday, November 13, 2015

On Needing Balance

Yesterday was a day that brought a lot of worries to the surface... While driving to work, I mulled over each worry and voiced all the feelings I was having because of them.  There was quite a lot of self-talk and trying to move bast the negativity I was directing toward myself.  It's a constant struggle. *shrug* Anyway, I realized that a great deal of my worries could be alieviated by finding balance.  For example, I love crafting and I hate washing dishes.  So when I get off work, my first desire is to come home and make something... not clean the kitchen.  The problem with that is the kitchen needs cleaning... and that shouldn't be avoided.

I need to make a plan.

There has to be a way to balance what must be done with what wants to be done.  I think I'm going to try going back to scheduling my days to make sure that all the must do's get a time slot.  At least until I can cultivate new habits.

I want to be that awesome wife who handles everything on the homefront beautifully.  I want to develop good habits for when we expand our family.  I want to be prepared.  I want to be a solid-footed adult, not an overwhelmed imbalanced one.

Adulting is hard... but there's not really another option at this point ^.^

Be Kind: World Kindness Day 2015


Today is World Kindness Day so I made this little video to share with you ^.^ 

I was recently saying to a friend of mine that I think I'm a compulsive gifter, lol. I love the feeling I get when I do a random act of kindness for someone.  I love their smiles the best I think.

Do something nice for someone and have a great day!

Friday, November 6, 2015

DIY Scrapbook Kit

This past summer I got into Listers Gotta List and it was quite the scrapbooking gateway drug! Lol!  But seriously, scrapbooking is now my crafting guilty pleasure ^.^  Today I want to show you how I've started making my own scrapbook kits.  I've linked all the available products or substitutes as I go along.

Since I'm a beginning scrapper, I watch a lot of tutorials and process videos on YouTube.  A bunch of the people on there talk about the kit clubs they're a part of and I thought the idea was pretty cool.  So I decided to create a Disney themed scrapbook kit to use with Lamar and my anniversary photos.  Of course I have a TON of pictures from the trip to Disney World because it was my first time and why not photograph everything :)  {Oh, also I printed all of them through because they frequently put out 101 free print offers.  After shipping you only pay like $9 so I gather a whole batch and print everything at the same time.  I'm in the process now of checking out other sites, but for the time being shutterfly is working for me.}
Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth

In preparation for scrapbooking my pictures, I took a couple trips to my local craft stores where I found the Sn@p! Say Cheese collection which is Disney themed.  I also picked up some other pattern paper from another designer that coordinated.

Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth
I couldn't find a link to the exact pack I bought, but here is a link to a similar set <here>

Next were stickers.  When Lamar first told me we were going to Disney for our anniversary, I went right out and bought some Mickey & Minnie stickers.  I found a good size set at Joann's (on the right in the photo).  Later on I found the sticker sheet that went with the Say Cheese set at Hobby Lobby.  Thumbs up for both finds ^.^ 

Stickers Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth
Similar Say Cheese Stickers <here> -- Alternate Mickey & Friends Stickers <here>

I also added in a lot of letter stickers... mostly because I wanted to have options.  So there are probably WAY more than I'll actually use, but whatever.  I'm also finding that I have a weakness for letter stickers... I always want to buy them.  It's getting ridiculous. lol!  The letters are from all over the place: Dollar Tree, Tuesday Morning, Michaels, Joann's, Hobby Lobby.  You know, my regular haunts :)  I tried to keep everything to the traditional Disney color scheme with the blue tossed in as an accent.

Alphabet Stickers Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth Alphabet Sticker listing <here>, Joann's <here>, Michaels <here>, & Hobby Lobby <here>

The next supply addition to my Disney kit was the Sn@p! Say Cheese pocket page set.  The set came with 2x2, 3x4, 4x4 & 4x6 cards and a bunch of die cut pieces.  Just a whole lotta happy!

Die Cuts Embellishments Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth
Say Cheese Sn@p! Pack <here>
Journal Cards Project Life Pocket Pages Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth
Say Cheese Sn@p! Pack <here>

Last, but certainly not least, is the "memorabilia."  I kept our maps, pins, scan cards (well only mine, Lamar has lost his -___-), photo claim card, and game map and cards from the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game.

Memorabilia Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth

So that's it.  All this stuff fits into a little case I found at Hobby Lobby and I plan to start scrapbooking Disney World soon ^.^  I think I might add some washi tape into the mix and maybe some stamps, but I'm going to keep those out of the container.

Disney DIY Scrapbook Kit Say Cheese Mickey Mouse Disney World Happiest Place on Earth
Storage Case <here>
If you're a scrapbooker or a crafter, do you ever make 'kits' or separate all your project supplies?  Does it help you in your process?  What do you think of my first kit?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Whacha Readin? Looking For Alaska by John Green

I listened to the Looking For Alaska audio book last month and it was pretty good.  I picked it up while browsing the stacks at my local library.  I must say I checked it out because I thought the movie had recently come out (only to find out I was mistaken... the movie was Paper Towns.)
Before.  Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more.  He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe.  Because down the hall is Alaska Young.  The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an even unto herself.  She pulls Pudge into her worlds, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.
After.  Nothing is ever the same.
What I Liked 
  • Each chapter starts with a countdown.  So the entire time I'm trying to figure out what will happen at day zero.  What are we counting down to?  The anticipation was thick as butter...
  • Culver Creek Boarding School is located down I-65 south of Birmingham.  I loved that detail because I use to live in Huntsville and drove I-65 a lot.  It made me feel closer to the characters.
  • I loved the way Alaska floated through her moods.  She would be in a good mood at one moment and then a thought would cross and she'd be back in the darkness.  That's very real to me.
  • In the audio book each character had a voice.  The Colonel and Alaska were quite country and it made me miss the south sooo much. lol ^.^
  • I've never been into reading biographies, but it was interesting to hear all the last words that are peppered throughout the story.
Not So Much
  • The bulk of the story centers around the Colonel, Alaska, and Pudge, but they had two other friends, Lara and Takumi.  Those two seemed to disappear at one point.  I kept thinking 'I wonder what/how they are doing...'  I guess they were basically supporting characters but they were so important in helping me get to know the other three that I felt a bit jilted on their behalf when they faded into the background.
  • I wanted Day Zero to be addressed in some big way.  I listened to the chapter two or three times just because I didn't want to believe that Day Zero just floated by and then it was one day after.
There were lots of moments in this book.  Moments that imprint themselves on your memory and you smile when you think of them.  Like when Pudge tells his parents he "goes to seek a great perhaps."  When Alaska reads him the excerpt about getting out of the labyrinth of suffering.  The pranks.  Colonel and Pudge's drive.  The freestyle cypher.  These moments brought me back to college when I lived and learned with my friends.  We were all discovering new things about ourselves and moving closer to the adults we are today.  We were there for each other through so much.  This story really made me think back on the friends that came into my life and left deep footprints.  Friends that came in and made me different.

This is my favorite quote.  It's from the very end when Pudge is reading his final paper for his religion class.
"Those awful things are survivable because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be... We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken."
Dear John Green, Please stop making me cry my eyeballs out while reading your books. Thankx!

If you've read Looking for Alaska, or any other John Green books, what did you think?  What was your favorite part?  Leave me a recommendation for my next book to read. Have a great day!

Friday, October 30, 2015

One Landscape: Crane's Roost Park

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story

This month I did a One Landscape photo project.  The idea is to take 10 photos of the same landscape over the span of a month.  I chose to photograph this fountain area in Crane's Roost park.  I love how the sky changes throughout the pictures.  I enjoyed taking the pictures, even though sometimes it was quite the challenge to get out there.  I'm considering continuing to photograph this area as time goes by... maybe a couple times a month or so.  They are starting some construction over there soon, that could make for interesting changes.  Anywho, here are the 10 shots of my One Landscape Project :)

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 2

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 4

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 6

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 12

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 16

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 21

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 24

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 27

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 28

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 29

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Where Would You Go?

"You cannot step twice in the same river." -Heraclitus
Prompt: Write about all the places you's go tomorrow if you could and what you want to see when you get there.


I have always loved the idea of traveling.  I love seeing new things and different places.  When I read this prompt, I made a quick list of locations.  I'm sure I could've come up with lots more if I would've sat and did some research, but I wanted it to be spontaneous.  So here's my list of places and what I'd want to see.

  1. Jamaica - I'd want to meet Lamar's grandma and see where his family is from.  Plus I'm sure the photos would be amazing ^.^
  2. Trinidad - For the same reason as Jamaica.
  3. Museum of Modern Art - My favorite piece by Salvador Dali, the Persistence of Memory, is housed there.  I want to see it face to face paint. 
  4. China - To walk to Great Wall.
  5. Paris - To add a love lock to the Pont des Artes bridge... even though they've taken all the locks off :(
  6. Egypt - To see the Pyramids and put my feet in the Nile.
  7. Somewhere in Africa - This would be the place where my African ancestors were from... I still don't know where it is, but I like to think that if I went, I'd see someone who looks vaguely like me.
There you have it.  Seven places I'd go tomorrow if I could.  Where would you go?  What would you want to see there? Share it in the comments, I'd love to know ^.^

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Finally I'm Finished: Chunky Yellow Blanket

diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

Recently I've been seeing a lot of chunky crochet pieces throughout my Instagram feed as makers were getting their fall lines ready.  I love the look of the squishy bulky yarns and wanted to take a break from the worsted yarns I generally use.  So I pulled out a huge ball of Bernat Chunky Collegiate from Joann's clearance and worked up a giant granny square.

diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

My initial idea was four the blanket to have a lacy look to it, so I worked the whole piece with a 15mm hook.  I haven't used that hook in quite some time ^.^ There was no real plan past 'use all the yarn'... It only took me a couple days to finish.  When I got to the last row, I had to frog it 3 times and go down to a 9mm hook to get the last bits of yarn to stretch for the whole border o.O
diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

I love how lacy this blanket came out while still retaining the chunky squish I was craving!  I have 3 more skeins of the Bernat yarn in my stash and just might have another of these blankets in my future! ^.^
diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I Am Here

Self portrait at lake apopka

Last month I had the opportunity to walk around downtown Winter Garden before all the businesses opened and all the hubub began.  It was quiet and peaceful as everything was slowly waking up.  The sun had just risen and I was walking through a picturesque community towards the lake.  The trees filtered the morning sun is such a way that you can't help but see everything as beautiful. 

All at once, I had a strange realization.  I said to myself, "I am here."

It was an odd moment... in the way that deja vu is odd... feeling like you've done a thing before.  But this was the opposite.  It was a keen and clear understanding that I was physically present in that exact moment in time.  Have you ever felt like that?

I felt like I was seeing the world for the first time.  The sky, the trees, the lake.  I remembered past times when I was in the midst of depression and had to remind myself to see the beauty in these things.  And here I was.  Walking down a random Florida sidewalk.  Experiencing my life.  This was my life... is my life.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that living is good.  Especially when I hit a particularly bad downswing and I know the fight out will be hard.  In times like that I find myself just trying to keep my head above the waves... you know?  Just don't drown.  The walk to the lake that day gave me a memory to hold on to and occasionally I think about it.  It brings me a peaceful feeling.  I am here.  I am alive.  At times, life gets monstrous and terrible things happen to people I love, but we are still here.

It reminds me there is always hope that the blue skies will come back.  And we'll feel the sun again.

I can honestly say that this isn't quite where I saw this blog post going.  But hey, that's the beauty of writing.  Sometimes the words take over.  The last month or so has been rough for me.  Everything was out of place.  My emotions.  My sleeping.  I felt like I wasn't... here... Like not connected to this world.  Floating just above the surface.  Thankfully, I think I'm coming out of it now.  I feel more positive and I'm hoping it stays around for a while.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Le Macaronnage

Hi there!  Item number 18 on my 30 Before 30 List is "Make sushi & macarons." I am super excited to say I have successfully made macarons!!! [Imagine confetti explosions here!]

Diy homemade lemon cream French macaron

I bought this macaron baking kit from Michaels a while back and then checked out a book called 'Les Petits Macarons' by Kathryn Gordon from the library. I thought I was pretty well set.  Only when I started looking at the recipes, did I realize that everything was measured by weight... -__- I am not that fancy in my baking just yet! So I went online to find a YouTube tutorial that measured by volume (as you do, lol).  I found a really simple video by Honeysuckle called 'Master the French Macaron Easy Recipe'.  It went through each step and made the whole process seem quite easy.  Now, I don't know if you've heard anything about making macarons, but all I've ever heard is how super crazy hard they are to make.  Like you should expect to fail the majority of the time. So when I'm watching this video and the girl is like, "...and it's super easy..." I'm a wee bit skeptical.

On macaron making night, I gathered all my ingredients and set to whipping the living daylights out of a couple eggs.  By the way, making meringue is very satisfying. Seeing the egg whites puff up into white peaked cloudy goodness is pretty awesome I must say :)  Anywho, I followed the directions from the video and happily documented along the way.  At one point you're suppose to let the shells rest for like 15 minutes so they can harden.  I'm pretty sure mine rested for nearly a half hour and they didn't do any type of hardening!  So I just put them in the oven and hoped.

They came out flat. They looked more like vanilla wafers than proper macarons, but they were still tasty. And I was very proud.  It was at this point in the process that I realized I didn't have any plan for filling.  Everything in the macaron book seemed way more involved than I wanted to be that late at night, so I went to the fridge and cabinets to see what I could slap together.  I ended up with Nutella filled, caramel/butterscotch filled, and lemon cream cheese frosting filled. Not bad... not bad at all ^.^

Even though that first batch came out absolutely wrong, I was still very proud of myself and came to the conclusion that I had over-mixed the batter.  I took them to choir rehearsal and everyone enjoyed them, although I'm almost certain that no one else had actually ever had a proper macaron... so yeah.  They were all raving about how great the cookies were, while I was quietly mulling over my failure, lol!  A couple days later I decided to bake another batch and not mix it as much.  That was exactly the problem!  The second batch actually rested and hardened properly!  And when I took them out of the oven they all had cute little feet! *.*  I was over the moon ex-stinkin-cited!  I filled that whole batch with the leftover lemon cream cheese frosting.  They were delicious!!!!!  (Excuse my exclamation point overuse. I'm still quite happy with myself.)

All in all, I think I had a way worse expectation of how making the macarons was going to go.  I thought I was going to be frustrated and wanting to throw the mixer out the window.  But it wasn't like that at all.  I plan to do some flavored ones soon... now those may be a bit trickier, but I think I'm up for the challenge.  I just need to get that kitchen scale :)

I love the feeling of successfully doing something that you were unsure if you could actually do.  Does that make sense?  I'm proud of myself and it makes me more confident to try baking different things.  Maybe I'll even branch into actual cooking ^.^ Lamar would love that!  

Here is the video recipe I followed if you want to try your hand at macaron baking :)