31 December 2015

Time Passes, Years End

This year has been a blur of endings and beginnings. And I know that this acceptance and realization of the passing of time is cliche but yet again, time has done just that. You can either let it wash over you or fight it - tooth & nail... Twenty-fifteen was a little bit of both for me.

It was a volatile and glorious mix of heartache, sadness, happiness and the start of a new love, or as I like to see it, a rekindling of an old flame. To be honest with you, I don't really know how I survived the volatile bits, but sometimes it's easier to pick yourself up when you have a safety net of family and friends. I've managed to view things as a whole and learn how that vastness effects me and the lives of  those around me.

Thanks to how the work days fell this week (the museum's closed today & tomorrow) I have five days off from work. I honestly don't know what I will do with all that free time, but I'll take it. Sadly, it won't be as fun as it could be because I'll get Alex all to myself for only two of those days. Perhaps, I'll write, paint and take photos. Or maybe I'll sit and reflect on what I want to change and what I don't for twenty-sixteen: less sugar - more activity, less anxiety - more creativity, less sadness - more love, more acceptance. And that's where I am at. No goals. Just small changes. Tweaks if you will...

These are some of my favourite events from this year.
The images above focus on the amazing moments of this year... I adopted my little bunny - Olive, I reconnected with Alex, fell madly in love, went on A LOT of amazing coffee dates and several picnics with Alex, I ice skated for the first time and we dressed up as Mulder & Scully for Halloween. As a whole twenty-fifteen has been pretty amazing and I can't wait to see what twenty-sixteen will bring with it!

So on that note, I wish you all a Happy New Year! May twenty-sixteen be full of love and happiness and give you the ability to love yourself more and more as each day passes.

What was your favourite part of 2015? Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2016?

Through the Lens: the City of Angels

Earlier this year I went to Los Angeles, California and before this year officially ends I wanted to post some of the photos from my trip.
Griffith Observatory, L.A.

Griffith Park, L.A.

Griffith Observatory, L.A.

Griffith Observatory, L.A.

Griffith Observatory, L.A.

Mulholland Drive

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

Places featured: Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory, Mulholland Drive and Santa Monica beach. 
29 December 2015

How To Make the Perfect Cup of Tea

It's no secret that I love coffee, but I love tea just as much!
the perfect cup of tea
There is something magical in the ritual of making the perfect cup of tea. Perhaps it's the boiling of the water or the steeping of the tea, but once that ritual is done another can begin. For me that includes curling up in a cozy blanket, reading a good book or just existing in the moment. Some of my favourite teas are black teas, like English breakfast and straight herbal ones, like peppermint or orange.

I know this post may seem silly, but sometimes it takes the right steps in order to make the perfect cup of tea. Here's how:

Water temperature matters.
Remember the story of Goldilocks & the Three Bears? Well, the same principle applies when it comes to tea - the temperature of the water needs to be just right. Herbal and black teas call for boiling water, whereas green teas require water to be a little cooler.

The right amount.
You don't want too much water in your perfect cup of tea, because let's face it, no one enjoys watered down tea. To reach the sweet spot you want to use a teaspoon of loose leaf tea (or one teabag) to 1 cup of water.

Let it steep.
Different teas mean different steep times. If you're like me, the stronger the tea the better. I typically let my black teas steep for five minutes. Be sure to check the packaging for specific steep times and be sure to leave the bag or tea ball undisturbed the entire time.

Patience is key.
Keep in mind that letting the water cool a little bit before drinking will allow time for the tea to reach it's peak flavour. And honestly, who wants scalding tea burning the roof of their mouth? I've found that drink tea out of fine bone china improves the flavour of any tea - making it crisp and delightful.

What are some of your favourite teas? Do you have a special mug or cup you always drink tea from?
27 December 2015

Self-Portrait V.31

self-portrait v.31
self-portrait v.31
self-portrait v.31
I've decided that each year I am going to do a self-portrait, so in the future I can see photographic evidence of each year that has passed. My thirty-first year is represented in the three above.
24 December 2015

Wishing you & yours...

A very merry one indeed.

I'm looking forward to spending christmas eve with my family & Alex tonight. We will be celebrating The Vigil, which is an Italian christmas eve tradition of the feast of the seven fishes. I remember many of these Vigil's spent with my grandparents and now that they are not here with us anymore, it will be nice to honor them with this tradition once more. Christmas Day will be spent with Alex's family & mine as well. I am looking forward to seeing all of their happy faces as we share gifts and delicious food. Here's to a holiday filled with family, friends and lots of love. Merry christmas, everyone!

21 December 2015

A List of Love

This month I am thankful for: People or actions that calm me down when I am stressed. Like Alex, yoga and meditation. Alex has this way of helping me calm down when my anxiety and stress levels start to peak. It's nice to have someone who understands when I am feeling that way and doesn't take my bouts of anxiety induced grumpiness as a personal attack.

Things that I have been loving:
  • listening to an endless cycle of holiday music
  • best friend dates with Megan
  • my newly discovered homemade peppermint coffee (just empty a tea sachet of herbal peppermint tea into your coffee grounds. It's delicious)
  • all of the christmas decorations in town
  • Mexican hot chocolate - mmm chocolate and cayenne!
  • decorating the christmas tree and making candy with Alex's family
  • watching holiday movies 
  • snuggle time with my bunny 

Now I encourage you to create your own list of love. You can write it in the comments below or make your own post. If you do make a post, be sure to leave the link to it in the comments section. I can't wait to see your lists! Also, you are more than welcome to use the image above on your blog post - just make sure to credit me.
16 December 2015

A Small & Personalized Gift Guide

In years past I have been guilty of overbuying when it comes to christmas gifts. It's a funny thing really, because sometimes all those gifts aren't appreciated as much as we thought they would be. This year I've downsized the amount of gifts that I give to each person, focusing more on smaller gifts while making sure they are highly personalized. It takes some thought and planning, but it makes the smaller gifts even more memorable.

I've compiled a little gift guide for those of you who are still looking for gift ideas. It's almost christmas, so I figured this might come in handy for those of you who have waited until the last minute. ;)

Chef Extraordinaire
Do you have a chef or an ultimate foodie on your list? Create a gift that caters to them with cooking or artisanal items in mind. Find some cute dishtowels, a unique non-stick cooking utensils and a little cookbook. Maybe even throw in some flavoured sea salts!

Tea Lover
Does your friend really like tea and reading? Get them a beautiful antique tea cup and saucer, a box of flavored teas and a cozy blanket. With these awesome gifts you've managed to create a special moment for them.

Entertainment Nerd
If your friend is obsessed with a show, movie or comic - this is the way to go. My step-dad loves Seinfeld. So much so that one year I managed to get him a Kramer shirt, an astronaut pen and a box of The Soupman's lobster bisque. The Seinfeld references ran a muck the rest of the day. It was an absolute hit!

Coffee Addict
This one is super easy. Get a friend a bag of super, fancy coffee and a kick ass mug that caters to their personality. I would definitely add some of their favourite candy inside the mug to really kick it up a notch. Looking for an extra caffeine hit? Add some chocolate covered espresso beans!
13 December 2015


My birthday was absolutely incredible this year. Seriously one of the best ones I have ever had. It started off Friday night... my parent's threw me a little shindig with my family (Alex's too) and friends. We all had a fantastic time listening to 80's & 90's music and watching Christmas Vacation. Alex made some deliciously spicy prosciutto-wrapped jalapeno poppers and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Mom kicked ass with her baked ziti and bruschetta. Alex's mom even made an scrumptious cheese ball. I also received some truly thoughtful and amazing gifts from everyone who came! (If you're reading this, thank you.) The party was great, but Saturday was the greatest...
My Thirty-First Birthday
Saturday (my actual birthday) was sheer perfection thanks to Alex. He had the whole day planned and I can't imagine a better birthday than one spent with that man by my side. We headed to Tampa for the day and started in Hyde Park. Our first stop was SOHO Donuts where I had a yummy vanilla doughnut topped with Berry Cap'n Crunch. Next on our list was Oxford Exchange for some much needed caffeine; where Alex & I lounged on their cozy leather couch before heading over to the mall.
My Thirty-First Birthday

My Thirty-First Birthday
Then we were mallrats for an hour or two. Which was actually great because we ended up finding some Funko Pop dolls. Well, I guess you need a little back story, huh? Amongst the birthday gifts that Alex gave me (which included an annotated hardcover of Sandman comics and a collection of Gaiman's "Death" comics) he also gave me X-File's Mulder AND Scully Funko Pop dolls. Originally he wanted to get me the whole set, but he was having a hard time locating the alien. Oddly enough, after stopping into Hot Topic for me to find him a Deadpool item, we noticed the giant wall of Pop dolls. Much to our chagrin, there was an X-Files alien starring us in the face! After some scavenging, Alex managed to find the Smoking Man too. I am now a proud owner of a complete X-Files set! Afterwards. we had a celebratory lunch of buttermilk chicken with smoked gouda mac & cheese at the Pub.
Alex then surprised me with ice skating! I've been wanting to go ice skating for YEARS and he made my dream come true. I had so much fun too and I didn't fall either! I was terrified at first but after holding onto Alex for a little bit (and switching to a smaller skate size) I was fine. You can check out a short video of me ice skating here. I still can't get over how sweet Alex is for making this silly, little dream of mine come true. It was an absolute rush skating around that rink. The feeling of flying and being in control and not in control at the same time was the best. I even enjoyed watching Alex skate - he's a pro!
After ice skating for almost two hours, we hung out in downtown Tampa for a bit and imbibed in more coffee and mango iced tea thanks to a Buddy Brew food truck. We strolled around Riverwalk and surveyed the area - including a nice view of my favourite architecture at the University of Tampa. If that doesn't remind you of Russia (sans blue skies) I don't know what to tell you.

We had a little extra time to kill before dinner so I suggested we headed over to Davis Island. We found a perfect little picnic table under a tree. We sat and overlooked the water and talked about love and happiness. Alex even drew our initials inside a heart onto the wooden table. It was one of my favourite moments that day because I was able to slow down and reflect on how incredible Alex is and how much fun I had. The best part was knowing that the day wasn't even over yet.

After leaving Davis Island (and a quick outfit change for me) we stopped by Green Shift Music & Comic Book store and browsed around a bit. Then we headed to dinner at Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. This was my second time here (Alex & I went back in September after Comicon) and as always, the food was to die for. We sat outside and enjoyed the cool night air. As for the food, we started off with some mustard & siracha potato wedges and shared a giant calzone stuffed with tenderloin (which half of it is still sitting in the fridge) and ahi tuna tacos with fried wonton shells.
I really feel as though I have won the person lottery with this man, you guys. He is the sweetest, most thoughtful man. He made my birthday beyond special. I'm still pretty hyped up from all of the fun we had! Hence the 6AM blog post.... Honestly though, getting to spend the whole day with Alex was the icing on the birthday cake. Thank you Alex, for making my thirty-first birthday a day that I will never forget!
10 December 2015

Life has been weird lately. Weird, but good.

I've been looking through these posts here on my blog and I realized that I haven't really been writing much about my life lately. And in a way, it seems weird. So, I'm wanting to change that.
Life has been weird, but good.
A lot has been happening lately. Since the divorce I have been living with my parents while trying to get back on my feet. I've been saving money like crazy and looking forward to moving out sooner than later. Being in your thirties and living with your parents is weird. I swear my Mom still thinks I'm a little kid and every time I enter the kitchen she's telling me to wash my hands. (Mom, I know when I should wash my hands. I mean, how do you think I lived without you for almost ten years and survived?! lol).

Aside from that, living in a small bedroom with the majority of my furniture and other belongings packed up in boxes and stored in my parent's dining room is a little crazy. At first I felt disconnected - downsizing from my own house to one room is somewhat soul crushing, especially when it is a room at your parents. But I'm coping and trying to not focus on what I don't have while being thankful and grateful for the fact that my parents are so supportive, kind and loving as to let me stay with them. And there is a silver lining too!

Alex & I have been planning to move out together! I've been looking for apartments like a mad woman and the excitement level is getting out of control over here. The idea of living with him in our own place makes my heart skip a beat. My head is swimming with thoughts of decorating our own place, cooking meals together and just enjoying a space we can call our own. We're shooting for early next year, mainly because yours truly wants to make sure there is an abundance of money in savings before we move out, but mostly because it's hard finding a place that meets all of our qualifications.

So, yes. Life has been weird lately but it's to be expected when the life you've known for almost ten years is uprooted. But it has also been really, really good too. My life has been filled with a lot of love on all fronts, emotional stability, fun and new experiences, love from family (Alex's family too!) and friends. I'm really grateful for Alex too. He's been extremely supportive of me every step of the way.
I love this man and I am so glad that he loves me too!
08 December 2015

Decorations & Family Photos

Last night Alex & I went to his parent's house to decorate the tree. We had a blast too! His sweet mom gave us two ornaments to commemorate us as a couple; a sushi ornament (our first date) and a 2015 one. I can't to do it again next year. Last night we decorated the christmas tree with Alex's awesome family. It was a blast. I can't wait to do it again next year.

07 December 2015

Bacon Latticed Apple Pie

There's something about cinnamon and apples that makes this season a little better. So, when I stumbled upon this bacon apple pie recipe on Pinterset, I knew that Alex & I were going to have to make it. And we did, the night before Thanksgiving, and from scratch too - crust included! It was such a success that I decided I would share the recipe with all of you. We even managed to find an easier way to add the bacon lattice to the top of the pie so making it will be easy as well, pie!

Bacon Lattice Apple Pie
Pie Size: 8" (can serve 8 or 12)

1 1/4 cups all purpose baking flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar
1 stick (or 1/2 cup) cold butter cut into cubes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup of ice water
1 egg (using only the whites)

*Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment makes this a lot easier, but a hand mixer will work as well.

Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Make a well in the center and add the cubes of butter. Mix on medium speed until it resembles sand. Add the apple cider vinegar to a cup of ice water. Slowly add the ice water (you won't use all of it) until dough forms a ball. Make sure the dough is not too sticky, this will happen if you add to much water. If you do, just add a little more flour. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After it has chilled, lightly flour a flat surface and roll out the dough using a rolling pin. The diameter should be 9 inches, which will leave us with an extra inch of dough to fold over the top of the bacon lattice. Once the dough is flattened transfer it to an 8" pie pan. Crack the egg (with no yolk) and brush it on the pie crust with a pastry brush. Place in fridge for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling and make the bacon lattice.

Preheat oven to 425oF.

1 package of thick cut, no sugar added bacon
6 medium apples; peeled, sliced and cut in half to make cubes
1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Toss until the apples are coated evenly.

You'll need a cutting board for this step. Take 8 slices of uncooked bacon and weave them by lifting every other strip both horizontally and vertically to create a lattice pattern.

Take the pie crust out of the fridge and pour the filling into the pie crust. Hover the cutting board upside down with the bacon lattice facing the pie, center it over the filling and maneuver the bacon lattice on top of the pie. Take some kitchen sheers and cut the excess bacon to where it lines up with the edge of the pan. Fold the crust over the bacon and brush on the egg whites.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate and lower the oven temperature to 375oF. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked. Be sure to keep an eye on the crust and make sure that it doesn't get too brown. You can place foil over the crust to prevent that if the bacon still needs to cook. Let it cool for an hour.

*Adapted from the recipe from For the Love of the South

Now all you have to do is sit down and enjoy this decadent pie with some eggnog while watching Home Alone or Christmas Vacation and you're ready to enjoy the holiday season in all it's glory.
04 December 2015

An Ode to Olive

On December 22 I will have had Olive for six months. SIX MONTHS! I really can't believe it. I remember when Megan & I drove her home, Olive nestled soundly on top of the blue blanket that rested in Megan's lap. It's been six months since I brought her home and so much has changed since I adopted her. I remember feeling incredibly scared later that night, not knowing what I had gotten myself into - swearing there was no way I'd be able to provide for this bunny, to make her feel safe and happy. I was terrified. And I know what you're thinking, that I sound like a mother who had just brought her child home for the first time and you're right because Olive is my baby. Something shifted within my heart when I saw her at the Gainesville Rabbit Rescue. I was nervous to pick her up and hoping she would like me enough to want to come home with me. Next thing I know she's crawling into the pet carrier I had brought for her. She was ready to go home and with me no less!

Over the past six months I have watched Olive's personality flourish and I am so glad to have such a sweet, affectionate bunny. Every once in awhile I think about how her life was before she was rescued by GRR and it brings a grateful tear to me eye knowing that Kathy and her incredible staff was there to save her from that hoarder house in Georgia. While on the other hand, it makes me so sad to think that Olive was ever alone, scared or neglected. But things are good for her now and I can tell by the way she cuddles with Alex & I and the way in which she does her "happy bunny dance/hop" across the floor.
01 December 2015

A Maxi Skirt Styled 3 Ways

Whenever I feel like comfort is key I throw on one of two things: a maxi skirt or leggings. It's hard for me to not wear a maxi skirt at least a few times in one week. I mean it's essentially wearing breezy pajamas to work! And in my eyes, there's just something perfect about a black maxi skirt with slits on the side because no slits is a little too conservative to me. Best part about a maxi skirt is that it's extremely versatile. Below you can see how I've style one maxi skirt three different ways.

Do you own a maxi skirt? What's your favourite way to wear it?

If you're looking for a maxi skirt like mine, they finally have them on sale at Target for super cheap.
*Please note this post was not sponsored. I just really like my maxi skirt from Target.