31 December 2016

Time Passes, Years End [2016 Edition]

I'm such a sucker for end of the year recaps. You can check out the one I did for last year, here.
2015 was a lot different than this year. During the first part of twenty-fifteen I was dealing with a lot of change. I learned how to accept certain things and, as a result, grow as a person.
Honestly, 2015 would have been a complete bullshit year if it wasn't for Alex.

But this year.... This year was all magic, rainbows and unicorns. Alex & I moved in together. We got engaged in March. We went on our first vacation to Savannah together (you can see the video here). My best friend got married too - which is really awesome! And Alex & I had our first real christmas in our own place. Yes, this year has been filled with a lot of happiness, love, and a lot less stress.



As for our sweet, little bunny Olive, her evolving personality has morphed her into a super cuddly creature. It still warms my heart when she bounds into bed next to me just to cuddle for what seems like forever. Or when she puts her little paws on the back of Alex's back and sniffs into his ear. I honestly feel as though she has fully accepted us as her family. I know she feels safe and loved, and it makes me so happy knowing that we can provide that for her.


Aside from all the amazing things that happened this year, my feelings for twenty-sixteen are quite mixed. A lot of heroes passed. Politics took a nose dive and I'm honestly frightened about what twenty-seventeen will hold in terms of that.

But here I am, writing and wanting to focus on all the good things that have happened, on all of the good things to come. Like marrying the man of my dreams.


As for last year's goals, I was pretty successful in achieving them. The goals were: less sugar - more activity, less anxiety - more creativity, less sadness - more love, more acceptance.
This year I'm sticking with one thing: I want to read more. Like I used to. I'd like to read at least 12 books in twenty-seventeen and I'm hoping for even more. We'll see what happens though!

I hope everyone has a happy (and safe) new year! Thanks for joining me on my journey.

What was your favourite thing that happened in 2016? Do you have any goals for 2017?
Let me know in the comments below, so we can discuss!

22 December 2016

Our Christmas Tree [at night]

It was lovely decorating our very own christmas tree this year. There's truly something magical about seeing warm lights on a tree (even if the tree is faux). Lights strung through the branches, special ornaments hung on the limbs. The stockings hung, the christmas bunting, candy canes and presents nestled under the tree. It's something that I cannot seem to get enough of; no matter how many christmases I've experienced.

Every morning I turn on the christmas lights until I leave for work and every evening they remain lit until we go to bed. I love turning the corner and seeing our living room decked in holiday cheer. Honestly, I'm going to be a little heartbroken once christmas is over. Though, you better believe that I'm leaving everything up until after the new year.




If I have time before christmas, I'll post some photos of our tree during the day. That way you can get a better look at the ornaments we have.

Until then, I'll be sitting over here enjoying every second of the holiday spirit that I can. There's only a few more days until christmas and I'm really excited. What about you??

21 December 2016

Backdrop Party

A little over a month... forty five days to be exact. Forty five days until I marry the man of my dreams. I still can't believe it. These past few months have been blurry. Between my sister moving out of the apartment earlier this month, the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and Alex & I settling in to the fact that we finally have our own place together. It's all been one magical blur.

Last Saturday my soon-to-be mother in law asked some of her friends over to help Megan, Jessie, my mom & me make the backdrop for the wedding ceremony. The backdrop consists of dry wax parchment paper circle, cut in half and turned into cones. Which are then strung in a delicate chaos onto yarn.

We had over 2,000 circles and successfully strung all of them. But we need about 1,000 more to completely finish the backdrop. It was a little frustrating to not finish it, but luckily I still have time to. Even if a part of me is starting to get *slightly* stressed. 

But yes, forty five more days and Alex & I will be married. I seriously cannot wait!

20 December 2016

Our Must-Watch Christmas Movies

It's funny, every holiday season (both Halloween and Christmas) I turn into a movie-o-holic. Last week Alex & I watched our first Christmas movie together. A Muppet Christmas Carol... Don't ask me why we chose that one first, but we did. And honestly, I'll always adore that movie. Since then we've watched Home Alone, White Christmas and Scrooged, which are my all-time favourite Christmas movies.

We still have a few more movies on our list to check of:
Christmas Vacation (which we'll probably watch Christmas day with my family)
It's Always Sunny's A Very Sunny Christmas (seriously, the most ridiculous christmas movie ever)
and Krampus (which we haven't seen yet and are hoping that it's amazing)

What are some of your favourite Christmas movies? Let me know in the comments below so we can discuss!

19 December 2016

Our First Annual Gingerbread Competition

Last night Megan & Justin came over for dinner and to partake in a friendly gingerbread competition with Alex & I. It was really fun too. Alex & I actually started at a disadvantage because when we opened our gingerbread house bo we noticed that pieces were broken and somebody had actually bought it, iced pieces of it and returned the damned thing to Target. We were the lucky SECOND owners. I was pretty bummed when we realized this. Either way, Alex & I decided to make the best damn gingerbread house in all the land.
And I think we did pretty good too. I mean, when was the last time you saw a gingerbread house with a drawbridge? ;)
I think next year the four of us or just going to get pre-built ones so we can focus on just decorating. Luckily, Megan brought some extra candy for us to decorate with. That made it even more fun!

After we finished our gingerbread houses, we watched Christmas episodes of Family Guy and played Cards Against Humanity. All in all, it was a very good night filled with friends and holiday festivities.

When was the last time you built a gingerbread house? Was it from scratch, from the store or pre-built? Let me know in the comments below so we can discuss!

14 December 2016

Thirty Two - A Birthday Recap

My birthday this year was pretty awesome. Aside from Alex spoiling me with all my gifts last Thursday, last Friday Alex took me out for dinner at the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park. He also took us to go see the Fixx at the Social in downtown Orlando. They were incredible and fulfilled my 80's music loving heart. On Sunday, my Mom threw me an awesome birthday dinner with my family where we had delicious food and watched Home Alone.
On Monday, I spent the whole day with my two best friends (Megan & Alex). I had lunch complete with a free slice of cherry pie. We also went to an antique store, since I really wanted to find Alex & I a coffee table. Find one we did... We found a 1950's mid-century, wood Lane coffee table for $40!! Now all my furniture dreams have come true. There were also petite fours involved... which is a prerequisite to any good birthday.

10 December 2016

The Pre-Birthday Gift Opening of 2016

Since last year, my family has no protocols when it comes to the rules of gift giving. It's all fast and loose over here... gifts given before birthdays and all of the christmas presents opened on christmas eve. No rules whatsoever. Who would have known that Alex would have fit right in.

Well, as you might know (from my last post) my birthday isn't until next week. Initially there was talk of him letting me open all my gifts on Thursday and not on my actual birthday and I obliged. Even though I'm pretty hard lined when it comes to the rules of gift giving. You open it the day of and that's that. No exceptions!

But on Thursday Alex was SO ANXIOUS to give me my gifts. While I was on the phone with him after work, he told me that he wanted me to open one gift and the rest the next day. I obliged. I opened the gift and next thing I know he had me opening two more.... then by the end of the night all five gifts were opened and I was high from all the excitement.

Needless to say, Alex is the best gift giver ever. He makes me feel so lame when it comes to presents. And my favourite one, is the aqua Chantal teakettle. What's even more cool is the fact that I have been wanting to buy that exact one for myself for the past three weeks and didn't. But here's the kicker - I didn't even tell Alex that I wanted it or was thinking about getting it. He just knew.

Usually I don't like sharing the gifts I get, because the whole materialistic game is not my jam, but I want to remember. So here it goes...


Nosferatu w/ music by Type O Negative DVD
Which is great because I had the VHS of this when I was 18 and it was stolen. Alex remembered me talking about it this past Halloween and found me an updated version.

Blockade
We saw this cooler version of Jenga when we were in Target a few months ago and I told him how much I loved Jenga.

A Very She & Him Christmas on vinyl
We've been talking nonstop about starting a christmas vinyl collection. The first one of my list was this album because it's incredible.

The Classic Christmas '80s on vinyl
He knows my love of 80's music and christmas, so this is the perfect addition to our christmas vinyl collection.

Aqua Chantal Teakettle
I still can't believe he knew that I wanted this damn kettle. <3

He also gave me the sweetest card. Last year we made the decision that instead of birthday cards, we'd do hand written notes. This year he gave me a beautiful Papyrus card with a pretty stack of paper macarons on the front. Inside was a sweet, handwritten note that made me cry while I was reading it.

02 December 2016

The Lifelong Desire To Be Thirty-Two and Knowing That Yours Stars Have Finally Aligned

I'm sitting in our living room as I write this. Our christmas tree is aglow and the smell of holiday scented candles are filling the air. Alex is putting the finishing touches on his artwork for his first art festival; which is tomorrow. I'm sitting here content, calm and incredibly happy. Because in ten days I'll be thirty-two years old.

When I was younger my dad used to ask me what age I wanted to be. I always said thirty-two. He'd ask me why and my response was that by the time I turned thirty-two everything in my life would fall into place. And here I am, ten days away from turning thirty-two... that elusive, perfect age that I've always wanted to be. Things are truly falling into place too. My life is full. I'm engaged to Alex, the love of my life, we have Olive and our own place. In February we will be married and officially starting our life together.
And I'll be thirty-two... It's a little weird to think back on that twelve year old Danielle and think about how much I wanted to be thirty-two. I had no idea how amazing my life would be in regards to that lifelong desire. It's weird to know that it's all coming to fruition. And along with that, comes an interesting feeling in knowing that all your stars have finally aligned.

01 December 2016

Our "First" Christmas

This isn't really our first christmas together. It was actually our first christmas last year, but this is our first christmas engaged and living on our own. So, in honor of all that awesomeness, we knew that this year we had to go all out as far as decorating. We needed a lot of decorations though...
We needed ornaments, a star, a tree skirt and most importantly a tree. So we went out and found some cool ornaments. Matte red ones and iridescent clear ones that I plan on one day filling with random things that remind me of us. We found two iridescent feather ornaments to symbolize our engagement, since we have feathers on our wedding invitations. We even found a wooden rabbit ornament for Olive! But I think Alex's favourite ornaments are his kawaii Marvel ones. ;)
At first I had my heart set on a real tree - and honestly we had planned for one - but when it came down to it, we decided that an artificial tree was the way to go. Especially because the way our living room is set up it doesn't really allow for the big tree I wanted.
We started decorating the day after Thanksgiving, because if I can squeeze out more of christmas I can and will. We listened to She & Him and had such a lovely time decorating the tree and putting the finishing holiday touches all throughout our space. Since we don't have a fireplace we attached a branch to our wall and hung our stockings from it. The dark brown for Alex, the grey for me, and the white for Olive. I really love how it turned out too!

And it was really sweet, after it was all set up. Alex grabbed me in his arms, kissed me and said, "Look! It's our first christmas tree together. It's perfect." And he is right. It IS perfect.

If you're looking for some gift ideas you can checkout the small gift guide I did last year.

When do you start decorating for christmas? What is your favourite ornament? Let me know in the comments below.

23 November 2016

Thanksgiving

I still can't believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving AND that this is our second Thanksgiving together.

Unfortunately, Alex has a stomach bug, poor thing. We're hoping that come tomorrow he'll be feeling better or at least well enough to eat. He's a little bummed too because he was supposed to make an "interesting cheese plate" to bring over to my parents'. But now it looks as though a cheese plate constructed by Alex might not be such a great idea... ;)

Since I'll be taking a social media sabbatical tomorrow I wanted to go ahead and share what I am thankful for and I encourage you to do the same in the comments below!

This year I am thankful for a lot of things; things like love, happiness, health, my family and friends. I'm thankful for the relationship that Alex & I have - a relationship that has given me so much happiness and stability (and I can't wait to marry him!). I am thankful for my wonderful family and the amazing family that I will be marrying into. I am thankful for my best friend Megan because I know she'll always be there for me no matter what. I'm also thankful for bunny Olive - because I don't think life would be as fun without her in it.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Don't forget to leave what your thankful for in the comments below. I can't wait to read them.

Our Gainesville Day Trip

A few weekends ago Alex & I went to Gainesville. The main reason we went was because we wanted to checkout the Devil's Millhopper and the Retirement Home for Horses Inc. The weather was perfect and since Gainesville is only a little over 2 hours from where we live, it was a nice day trip.
 The Devil's Millhopper is a geological state park and nature preserve that consists of a sinkhole that is is over 120 feet deep. Within the sinkhole exists a miniature rain forest that people have been visiting since the early 1880's. There are over 200 steps that descend into the bowl shaped cavity. Needless to say it was pretty awesome! After we saw the sinkhole we traveled back up the steps and walked around the nature preserve that surrounds it.
After the Devil's Millhopper, we headed to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant and drove to the Retirement Home for Horses. We had a 5lb bag of carrots with us, which came in handy because not only is it 2 carrots for the admission fee, but we had the chance to feed the horses. Well, actually I fed the horses - Alex just watched. I think he realized I would get a lot more out of it than he would. Either way, spending time with those horses was pretty amazing and I look forward to going back there sometime in the future.

01 November 2016

Why I'm Doing NaNoWriMo This Month


Ah, NaNoWriMo. If you aren't in the writing community you might not know what this is. Hell, even if you ARE in the writing community you might not know what it is. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it takes place every November as a way for writers to start creating their novel.

So, why am I doing NaNoWriMo this month? To challenge myself. I mainly write poetry and short stories and during my writing career (is it really a career if I just do it for myself?) I've struggled with creating anything longer than a short story. So I figured I'd stand up to the challenge of attempting to write a novel. I think it will be fun - even if I never share my novel with anyone.

Tomorrow night I'll be taking part of a write-in and I'm pretty excited about it.


And if I fail at this, so what. NaPoWriMo starts in April. ;)

31 October 2016

Dear Halloween,

Happy Halloween everyone!

I can't believe October is already over. As fast as this month went, Alex & I managed to get a lot of Halloween goodness done. We carved a jack-o-lantern, decorated our place in all things spooky, and watched a lot of movies. We even saw Halloween at the Polk Theatre, which we did last night.

Luckily, we have today off and we'll be spending it together - watching even more spooky movies. There was talk about heading to a cemetery at some point today, so we'll see where Samhain takes us.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween - I know we will!

Follow me on Instagram to see what we get into today...

P.S. If you're interested, I shared a new video about my lazy fall day routine.

26 October 2016

Chilly Mornings at Lake Parker Park

It has finally started to get chilly in the mornings. Alex & I love spending time outdoors when Florida's typically hot weather subsides. So, the other morning after having our coffee with the windows open, Alex proclaimed that we needed to go spend some time outdoors. We packed a blanket, grabbed some books, scooped up my sister's dog - Molly and headed to Lake Parker.

We walked around the park, strolled through areas we had never been and found a shady spot on top of a slight hill. We threw down the blanket, relaxed and enjoyed the cool air.

24 October 2016

Our Second Jack-O-Lantern

Behold! Our second jack-o-lantern together. Alex is pretty skilled when it comes to knife skills. I love how his cyclops jack-o-lantern turned out.


22 October 2016

My All-Time Favourite British Shows

I grew up watching British shows. At a young age I fell in love with their sense of humour and from it, spawned a lifelong love of all things British. I remember watching PBS most Saturday nights, catching up of British shows that I had never heard of and loving every minute of it. Now, thanks to Netflix and Hulu, the world of British shows is right at my fingertips. With that being said, I thought it would be fun to share my top 5, all-time favourite British shows with you.

Keeping Up Appearances
Hyacinth Bucket (or as she'd lead you to believe, Mrs. "Bouquet") is a social snob, one that you can't help but love to see how far she'll go to well, keep up appearances. Her relatives are low class and something she tries very hard to hide from other people within the community (especially when her senile father is consistently picking up women). This show is riddled with moments that make you laugh so hard and cringe in embarrassment at the drop of a hat. Her poor husband Richard gets the brunt of Hyacinth's demanding ways. While her neighbor Elizabeth finds herself on the receiving end as well.

Black Books
Bernard owns a bookshop. He's also an drunk, anti-social asshole. With the help of Manny and Fran, Bernard is forced to become more sociable - much to his disdain. This leads to a lot of chaos. No matter how much Manny tries to spruce up the bookshop he seems to always get sucked back into Bernard's nihilistic view. This show is truly perfect and has so many hilarious twists and turns within it. Keep an eye out for when Manny gets drunk on absinthe or when Manny and Bernard try to replace a very old, expensive wine by making it themselves.

The Young Ones
This show is a look into the lives of four students sharing a house together. Think of this as an edgier version of the Odd Couple but with really good musical guests thrown into the mix. You have the punk - Vyvyan, the hippie - Neil, the wannabe anarchist - Rick, and the charmer - Mike. These slapstick, turned surrealist plots have a way of keeping you on your toes. Musical guests included Motorhead, The Damned and others. This show is rich with 1980's alternative comedy.

The Vicar of Dibley
Geraldine, the new vicar of a little town by the name of Dibley baffles the town's people at first because she's replaced the previous male vicar. This show is chock full of random humor from Geraldine's ditzy friend, Alice to the bizarre farmer, Owen. Geraldine is sweet and extroverted in a unique way. She takes the town of Dibley by surprise and manages to affectionately win over their hearts. This is a sweet, good hearted comedy with little bits of real life circumstances that everyone can relate to.

The IT Crowd
This show is centered around the I.T. department of a odd company by the name of Reynhom Industries. Roy, Moss and Jen are stuck in the basement. Jen knows nothing about computers and finds herself at the nerdy whim of Roy and Moss. Let's not forget the depressed and Cradle of Filth obsessed goth, Richmond, who hangs out in I.T's side closet. Just so you can get a feel for the show, one night Moss heads over to a German's house whom he met through a personal ad. Moss originally thought the German was going to teach him how to cook, only to find out that the German was actually a cannibal - hilarity ensues.


Other British shows that I love and can't leave out:
Little Britain, Red Dwarf, Father Ted, Come Fly With Me, The Detectorists, Only Fools and Horses, Friday Night Dinner, As Time Goes By, Absolutely Fabulous, The Old Guys, Last of the Summer Wine, That Mitchell and Webb Look.


Do you have any favourite British television shows that you can't seem to get enough of? Leave a comment below letting me know which ones they are!

19 October 2016

How We Get Into the Halloween Spirit


how we get into the Halloween spirit
It sucks to live in Florida when all you want to do is see changing leaves and feel a chill in the air. But lately, Alex & I have been trying to channel what autumn and Halloween is all about by recreating it within our home. We have autumn-scented candles and delicious baked goods like my homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread. The other day Alex & I stocked up on some Halloween decor and decorated. I even came across bat and pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters!

The Halloween festivities have also begun as well. During the month of October we watch a lot of Halloween-esq movies. Hocus Pocus & Beetlejuice are my all-time-favourite movies during this time of year. Speaking of movies, last Friday Alex & I went over to my parents' house to watch Dracula, Dead and Loving It. This coming Friday we're also going to watch Transylvania 6-5,000 with my parents. Which is a movie that none of us has seen before.

Alex's jack-o-lantern 2015
Another thing Alex & I do to get in the Halloween spirit is construct an awesome jack-o-lantern. Alex did a really awesome one last year (as you can see on the left). This week Alex is finally going to carve our jack-o-lantern. And I plan on making pumpkin spiced cookies with my new cookie cutters.

If you're looking for a festive nailpolish idea, be sure to check out my DIY Ghost Nails that I did last year.

Don't forget to check out our X-Files Mulder & Scully costumes from last year too!

What do you normally do to get into the Halloween spirit?

16 October 2016

Healthy Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

A week ago it started to get cool in the morning and I relished every moment of it because I knew it would be fleeting. So, once the chill was *momentarily* in the air, a full blown need for "everything autumn" kicked in. Thus, this healthy, but delicious, version of pumpkin bread was born.

It doesn't take too much effort to make this bread either. It's a quick bread so all you have to do is throw in the ingredients and let the house fill with a very, delicious smell.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice



DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper in an 8 inch loaf pan.

In the bowl, beat the sugar, applesauce and coconut oil together - don't beat it for too long. Add the eggs, beat well. Don't worry if it looks clumpy it's just the coconut oil. Add the vanilla, pumpkin and bananas, beat on medium speed until well mixed. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the mixer, mixing until just combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan before serving it. Or you can do what I did: take a bread knife, cut a slice and enjoy the warm, pumpkiny goodness. The bread can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.


If  you make this, let me know if you like it or not!

10 October 2016

To all the days here and after...

Yesterday was one of those perfect days that I can't help but write about. Alex & I woke up, had coffee & breakfast together and listened to music all morning. We watched the Dectectorists (an endearing British show) and made plans for the day. At first we were going to go to a pub, but at the last minute, decided to get a six pack of mixed beers, as well as everything else we needed to make lunch and dinner. It turned out a much better idea too.

Alex made delicious cubans for lunch and we shared three bottles of beers for taste testing.

Here's what we tried (along with their ratings - because we're nerds).



Lazy Magnolia's Sweet Potato Cream Stout - Alex: 3 1/2 stars, Danielle: 3 stars
Terrapin Liquid Bliss Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter - 2 stars from both of us
Samuel Smith Taddy Porter - Alex: 4 stars, Danielle: 4 1/2 stars

We still have three other beers to try at some point today too!
For dinner I made chicken korma curry, which I was pretty happy about because Alex liked it a lot. As for the Dectectorists, we finished both of it's two seasons yesterday. We can't wait until the third one comes out.

Oh yeah, Saturday was pretty amazing too. We had late lunch at a local mexican restaurant, La Carreta, and spent some time in Coliseum of Comics. Later that night we headed to 801 E. Main for a pumpkin-chata. We ended the night walking around Lake Mirror and enjoying the not-so-hot weather.

04 October 2016

My Best Friend's Wedding

I wanted to write this yesterday, but after this insanely busy weekend, I opted to spend all day doing nothing with Alex. True bliss, I tell you! Anyways. On Sunday my best friend got married and it was perfect.
I spent all day Saturday with her; helping her get everything in order. It was a busy and long day. And the whole time, Megan managed to remain calm. I on the other hand, was not. She was as graceful as I expected her to be. Megan has been such an amazing friend to me - but honestly she's so much more than that. She's like another sister. She has seen me at my worst and still accepts me. She has helped me through difficult transitions and has always been there for me no matter what. She's been my rock when I was scared, my shoulder to cry on in hard times and my cheerleader when I felt damned. And on Sunday I was able to watch my beautiful, best friend say yes to the man she knew she wanted to marry on their first date.
I still cannot seem to put into words how incredible it was to watch my best friend marry the man of her dreams. I stood up there with Megan and her sister. I stood up there and cried as Megan read her vows to Justin. And my heart was left feeling very full because I knew the day my best friend had waited for, for so long, had finally come.
Major thanks to Laura for being a great friend and an amazing photographer. As you can see in the first photo, she's super talented.


Megan & Justin - I wish you many years of endless love and happiness together.