Reminiscing on Highschool Graduation

We spent to weekend celebrating my younger brother’s graduation in my home town of St Charles (just out side St Louis). It was great being back with friends and family, but there was something about the ceremony that really took me back. It was only 7 short years ago that I was sitting there in the those chairs dreaming of the adventures the next chapter of my life would hold. You could see the hope and excitement in their eyes, they had yet to be jaded by the ‘real world’ and life was still full of possibilities.

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Listening to the the students, principal, and district administration speakers, it made me think of what I would say if I could go back and speak to my class knowing what I know now. Here’s a little draft of what I might say:

The first day of high school seems like it was just yesterday and some how it also seems like a life time ago. But really it was just four years. As we sit here now, the graduating class of 2009, we are ready. Ready for that next chapter in our lives. Ready for the freedom to become the people we will be. Ready for the future and whatever it may hold. But before we get to the future, I want us to think about the past.

The past four years to be exact, because in so many ways these were the best four years we ever had. We got to wake up every morning, maybe a little too early if you ask me, but we got to wake up and go to this place where we’d see all our best friends. We learned about the subjects we’d grow to love and about some that we’d prefer not to take again if we can manage it. We faced first loves and first heartbreaks. We joined clubs and tried new sports and we grew from confused teens trying to find their locker on the first day to seniors walking the halls with pride that last day because this is our school.

In the fall, we’ll go our separate ways. I have friends heading to schools north, south, east, west and even some going over seas with the armed forces. For me, it will be a three hour drive to see the closest friend and for some much longer. When I leave in August, I won’t see most of my friends again until Thanksgiving. I’ll be back to wandering the new campus confused and looking for friends again. The easy part is over. But though the easy part is over, the best part is what is next to come.

So as we prepare to embark on this new adventure, I just have some advice to make the best of what is to come:

1. Face to face communication is so important. Don’t hide behind your phone. As much as I want to keep up with all of you on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or whatever new social media platforms come along, I know that spending too much time on my phone will hold me back from the new friends I need to meet and the new adventures I’ll experience. So don’t be mad if I take awhile to respond and I won’t be upset if you do the same.

2. No one is the highlights you see online. As the world embraces technology at a rapid pace, so will the urge to have the ‘perfect’ online persona. People tend to only post the best of the best so you should never compare your bad days or even your regular days to the pictures with perfect light and heavy editing you’ll see online. It’s okay to have bad days. No one is perfect.

3. Travel as much as you can. The world is a large place with so many opportunities. As the saying goes, ‘Travel is the only thing you buy that will make you richer.’ Travel as much and as often as possible. Big trips to new countries and cultures and smaller road trips to anywhere in driving range. Travel alone and travel in groups. Study abroad and take regular trips home. See as many places as you can before the real world with full time jobs and adult responsibilities kick in and limit your time off.

4. Your friends will change and so will you. It’s okay. As they change and you change, you may grow apart and that’s okay, too. I have always believed that people come into your life for a reason. Whether you have a lesson to teach them or for them to teach you, once they have fulfilled their need, sometimes it’s necessary to move on. If a year or two or ten from now, we are no longer in touch… remember that you have been a treasured friend and will always have a place in my heart. These memories we’ve made together are important and I will carry them with me forever.

Normally, these speeches end with ‘We did it!’ but instead I will end with this, ‘High School may be over, but our lives have just begun.’

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Throwback to my high school graduation!

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What’s in my Pool Bag!

During the summer, it is a sad weekend if I don’t make it to the pool or beach at least one of the days so a pool bag is essential. I always keep it stocked and usually just leave it in the car in case I get a last minute invite while running errands or get off work early and want to go on my way home. Here are some of the things I always have on hand:

bikini: this is pretty vital for pool or beach activities
towel: to dry off or lay on for tanning
sunnies: with UV protection to protect your eyes
tumbler: for water or dranks depending on the mood
beach ball: for fun or if partially inflated it can double as a pillow when you’re tanning
sunscreen: no burns for me please (I also have a tanning lotion with low SPF if I’m not going to be out very long)
perfume: for when it’s time to leave (don’t want to smell like sunscreen all day)
music: this normally is in the form of my iphone and headphones (sometimes a speaker)
flip flops: in case I show up in heels or tennis shoes, I have something to change into
cover up: some places require ‘proper attire’ to go inside for snacks or even the bathroom so it’s good to have something easy to throw on
hair bands: because even when my hair is super cute, its going into a bun at some point LBH (usually after I nail that perfect pool side pic for instagram)

In my post Packing for a Weekend, I mentioned having a pre-packed toiletries bag. One of the bonuses is that I can throw it in my pool bag if we are going out after a day of fun at the beach. I don’t always have it with me because usually I can just go home first or if I’m at our apartment’s pool, I’m literally right there.

What do you keep in your pool bag?

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The Wedding Diaries: The Five Times I’m Glad I Saved (and Splurged)

All photos by Forever Yours Images

Two years ago today, I stood in front of our closest friends and family and vowed to love my husband forever. It was a magical evening and I would not change a thing (well almost but I’ll get to that later). I saw an article on Cosmo’s website a while ago where people were discussing the times they wish they’d saved and splurged when it came to wedding things and it got me thinking about my own wedding. To be honest, I am really happy with all my decisions! So here’s the opposite. The five times I am glad we saved money on things for the wedding and the five times I am glad we splurged!!

Saved

Dress
Like most girls, I started dreaming about what my wedding dress would look like far before I was even old enough to get married. I always knew I wanted to look like a princess as I walked down the aisle. When it came time to pick my dress, I was willing to splurge if need be but was determined to find the perfect dress at a reasonable price. We started by going to some of the fancier dress shops but didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without. Our last stop on the first day was David’s Bridal. I walked in and told them what I was looking for and showed them a few pictures. Our attendant brought the first dress and it was beautiful but not perfect. I told her what I liked and what I didn’t. She brought another again it was gorgeous but not perfect. I told her what I liked and what I didn’t. Then she brought the third dress and it was everything I could have dreamed of and way under our budget. Win!
We spent $1,200 (includes accessories and alterations) vs Average cost of $1,500 (dress only)

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Invites
We started by visiting a wedding specific design shop to pick out our invites. They had so many options and styles but we didn’t need anything too fancy. We discussion our ideas but they could exactly provide what we wanted. On top of that, the simplest package they had available was still outrageously expensive so we decided to shop around. Since I had gotten my dress at David’s Bridal, we received a coupon to their stationary site. We found invites that were exactly what we wanted for less than half the cost! We also found Save the Date Originals for our save the date magnets with a quick internet search. We still used the fancier design shop for some of the more specialized items like place cards and day of signage.
We spent $600 vs Average Cost from a Design Studio $1200

Table Décor
Table decorations were one of the last things on the list. By this time, the bills had started to roll in and finding a cost-saving solution was a must. We went with a simple arrangement for each table. I scoured pinterest for something easy but still classy and matching our theme. We went with a simple square mirror (saved by skipping the beveled edge kind) topped with a blue martini glass (found at the dollar tree) filled with water and a floating tea light candle (purchased off amazon) surrounded by yellow rose petals (note 2 roses provide a lot of petals). It was so simple but provided a very elegant look.
We spent $75 (for 20 tables) vs Average Cost $12 per table ($240 for 20 tables)


Flowers
When it came time to pick the flowers, I didn’t even know where to start. I had always gone to our local grocery chain Dierberg’s for flowers for dances or Mother’s Day so I decided to start there. It turned out to be the best decision. Because they don’t focus on wedding flowers, they were able to price out the flowers as they would for your average bouquet and not hike up the price for the ‘wedding’ rate. Our floral designer was amazing. She helped us pick what would be best for our wedding theme and colors steering us to only what would be in season (to keep the cost down). When I hear what other people spend at a ‘true florist’ for their wedding florist, I am just astounded.
We spent $650 vs Average Cost of $2,000 to $5,000

Party Favors
Stop for a second and think of the last three weddings you attended, what were the wedding favors? Do you even remember? For mine, it was don’t remember, a picture frame, and candy. Currently, the picture frame is in a drawer somewhere and the candy got thrown away. With that in mind, we skipped it. We figured the guests were there to share in our big day not to get random trinkets and things.
We spent $0 vs Average Cost of $200

Splurge

Photo Booth
The first time I went to a wedding with a photo booth, I was hooked and hoped I could have one at my own wedding. We went with Gateway Photobooths. It was a huge hit!!! From the minute the reception started to the end of the night, it always had a line of people waiting. I figured it’d be mostly our friends (or cousins in our generation) that would love it but some of the funniest pictures are the ones with my grandma and our older relatives. As a plus, people were able to take the picture strips with them as almost a ‘party favor.’ It’s fun to see them hanging in our friends’ homes when we visit!
We spent $700

Harp
One of the hard parts of planning a wedding is that everyone has an opinion of everything. This can be especially difficult when those with opinions are the ones paying for it – in this case my parents foot the bill and my mother wanted to help plan. It worked out well that a lot of her suggestions were great! She had worked with a woman who was a professional harpist on the side. When she suggested a harp for the ceremony music, it was easy to agree.
We spent $300


Lighting
One of the cool ‘add ons’ that our DJ company, Allegro Entertainment, offered was ‘mood lights.’ Not sure what I am talking about? See photo above. Notice the blue accent lighting? Those. Also, the monogram that appears on the ceiling? That, too. Was it necessary? No. Does it make the room (and photos) look awesome? Yes. One of the cool things is that we got to keep the Monogram Gobo so one day when we get a house we can use it as a wall décor or even as a detail on the front porch.
We spent $200

Open Bar 
This was pretty much a guarantee for our wedding. My family thoroughly enjoys a few drinks as well as our friends. It worked out well that our venue really only had too options – no alcohol or open bar (no cash bar option). All of our guests drank responsibly and we were happy they could enjoy themselves without having to worry about the cost of their drinks.
Cost was built into Venue & Catering

Carriage
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to feel like a princess on our wedding day. When my mother mentioned arriving to the ceremony in a horse drawn carriage, I was totally on board – don’t have to ask me twice. It was a magical moment! She had wanted to do the full Cinderella carriage but knowing that wasn’t our style, we agreed on a simpler option from Brookdale Farms. During the reception, the guests were able to take rides around the venue. When talking to our guests even two year later, the carriage is still one of the most memorable parts of the day.
We spent $550

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Wish I had splurged

Day of Organizer
As I mentioned in my Liebster Award post, I really wish I would have had a Day of Organizer. I didn’t even really know this was a thing until after our wedding. I knew I could do all the planning and preparation on my own (well with some help from my soon to be husband and my mother) and foolishly thought I could take care of any last minute items myself on the big day. It reality I was so focused on getting ready and excited to finally marry my love that all those items fell on my mother. She still had a great time but she was a bit stressed out. If I could go back, this is the one thing I would change.

Helpful Tip

We went to the St. Louis Bridal Show and it was an amazing experience. If you research what you want a head of time, this is a great way to save money, especially on the SPLURGE items! The carriage, lighting, and photo booth companies all had deals (like really good ones) if you were willing to sign a contract on site.

What were your splurge and save wedding wins? If you are still planning, what kinds of tips and tricks would you be interested in?

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Weekend in Vegas

It happened! It really happened! I had been trying to plan a trip to Vegas for the past 5 years but something always fell through. Not this time. When I told M a few months ago that I have been wanting to go to Vegas, she shared my sentiments and together we planned the whole trip and made it happen in less than 2 months. It was especially cool as we hadn’t seen each out in almost two years. Since M lives in Chicago, we met in Vegas on Thursday night and had two full days of fun before flying out on Sunday morning. It was a quick trip but we had a blast! Here is the run down our trip.

Thursday Night
We both had to work so we didn’t get into Vegas until late. By the time we checked in to the Luxor and finally got to our room, it was almost eleven. Since we both had a long day, we decided to stay in for the night so we could get up early the next day. For some reason A Cinderella Story was on TV so we made a few Vodka Cranberries and let Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray put us to sleep.


Friday
Since we were still on central and mountain time respectfully, we were both up and ready to start the day by eight. We were a bit hungry and decided to start walking up the strip to find some breakfast and mimosas (but mostly mimosas). Being my first time to Vegas, I was unaware of just how far it was from the Luxor to the main part of the strip. By the time we got to New York-New York, we realized we were not as awake as we thought and stopped to get coffee so that we could take our time to find a good breakfast spot. Once caffeine had been acquired, we continued our trek passed the Mandarin and through Planet Hollywood and found a cute French Restaurant called Mon Abi Gabi at the Paris. We were able to get a table outside with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower and the mimosas were nice and strong.


After breakfast we continued our sightseeing tour, we stopped at the Fat Tuesday in front of Casino Royale and purchased some refillable cups filled with the most delicious frozen cocktails that I’ve ever had. We continued down the strip to the Venetian to grab a gondola ride, but since we were up so early, they hadn’t opened yet. Instead of waiting for them to open, we decided to head back to the hotel for some pool time and grabbed an Uber.

Most of the pool chairs had already been claimed so we decided to grab a spot on the grass. I had spent the past few weeks earning reward points on the myVegas app so I cashed some in for a free cocktail at the pool. We shared a Mai Tai and let the sun bronze our skin (and by bronze, I mean burn… I got a little red). For those of you keeping track, that puts us at 3 drinks and it’s still the early afternoon. I don’t regularly day drink so between the dessert sun and the drinks I was ready for a nap. We headed back to the run to rest for a few hours before getting ready for the show.

Post nap, we headed down to the lobby for a quick bit to eat before getting ready. The Backstage Deli was just outside our elevator so we decided to stop there to save time. I had the California Burger. It was delicious but had more guac that I would have liked so I just scrapped some off. After supper, we had only 3 hours until the show started and we still had to grab our tickets from the box office. We had a blast jamming out and getting ready. We left with plenty of time to get to Planet Hollywood.

I hope I have been building your anticipation. Just what show were we going to see? Britney: Piece of Me!!! We basically planned this whole trip so that we could see Britney. After grabbing our tickets from the box office, we headed to the Axis to grab some drinks and find our seats. By this point, I had started to get used to the inflated drink prices in Vegas, but I had not been prepared for the prices at the show. Twenty-four dollars for a margarita was outrageous in my mind but it came with the collectable Britney cup so I loosened the purse strings and forked over the cash.


We got to our seats with half an hour until the show started so we of course took the traditional ‘I’m here’ selfies and enjoyed people watching as everyone else made it to their seats. I love seeing all the different styles that people were wearing. There were the casual people in jeans and t-shirts all the way up to the girls done up in sequin mini dresses with lots of Coachella vibes in the middle. One thing that really caught my eye was that a lot of the outfits I saw were open back or low cut or showed major side boob. Why bring this up? We decided that no one wears bras in Vegas. We would continue to notice this throughout the rest of the trip. Personally, I am not comfortable without one so I applaud the women you can rock these fits. I digress.

Once the show started, it was a giant party from start to finish. Heels may not have been the best choice so I was relieved by the costume change breaks. Britney is an amazing performer! I can’t imagine dancing like that for 90 minutes straight but she made it look like nothing. Some of my favorites were her performances of ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ where she literally danced on giant guitar and ‘Circus’ where there was a flaming circle that she danced through. I was sad that my pictures didn’t turn out great but I was focused on enjoying the show and taking pictures as an afterthought. Again the show was amazing and I highly recommend it!


After the show, we tried to catch the Bellagio fountains but they were cancelled due to the windy conditions so we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

Saturday
We decided to sleep in a bit and by sleep in I mean nine. We used more of the myVegas rewards to get BOGO brunch buffets at the MORE Buffet in the Luxor. The food was pretty good for a buffet and included bottomless mimosas (win). After breakfast, we took an Uber to the Venetian to play tourist for the day. After walking around the shops, we decided to take the gondola outside. We were paired with a sweet British couple who were in town for a wedding. Our gondolier Mico was pretty funny (see photo bomb below) and sang to us in Italian.


After our ride, we filled up our Fat Tuesday mugs (adding an extra shot for the fun of it) and went shopping at Caesars. The mall, much like the casinos, was a maze. We caught the animatronic Atlantis show and took pictures with Pegasus.


We also stopped at the Bellagio to see the fountains perform to ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ As we made our way down the strip back to our hotel, we stopped at Tickets4Tonight to grab passes to the Titanic Exhibition. We tried to stop by the MGM Grand to see the lions only to learn that they had been moved to The Lion Habitat Ranch five years before. Since we were there, we filled up our Fat Tuesday mugs again and went back to the Luxor. We were hoping to catch some sun by the pool but it was starting to get cloudy and I was still a little red from the day before.


After a quick rest in the room (our feet were getting pretty sore from all the walking), we headed to Tacos & Tequila for dinner. We split the carnitas tacos and filled up on free chips and salsa. M was excited to catch the hockey game on their TVs while we ate. After dinner, we went to the Titanic Exhibition. It was so cool learning about the tragedy and seeing all the artifacts recovered from the shipwreck. We weren’t supposed to take pictures inside but I was able to grab this quick one of the grand stair case.


We originally planned to check out Fremont street but it was starting to get late. We had to be up early for our flights the next day so we just went back to the room to pack and go to bed.

Sunday Morning
Five am came faster than we were planning for so we had to rush to get ready so that M could make her flight. Since I had a later departure, I helped her get to her security line and we said our good byes. Luckily I will be visiting her in September so we won’t have to wait as long until next time. After I printed my pass and did my own security, I grabbed coffee and breakfast from Starbucks before settling in with an issue of Cosmo. You know just wasting my time at the airport.

Things I learned in Vegas:

  1. The strip is longer than you’d think from a picture or map. We averaged 15K steps each day and only walked in one direction.
  2. The casinos are all a giant maze. The signs are only slightly helpful but the directories and staff will help you find your way when you get lost.
  3. The no bra movement is strong in Vegas. I felt like the outsider for always wearing one.
  4. Two full days are definitely not enough and I am excited to go back to check out all the things we missed.

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Friday Five: How to Waste Time at the Airport

Oh my god, is this real life? The answer is yes. I am so excited to finally be in Vegas!
The first time I ever flew was before I could even talk and have taken planes here, there, and everywhere anywhere at least twice a year since then. Some people love car trips but I much prefer flying whenever I get the chance. I have become a pro at not only packing  for these flights but also keeping myself busy in the airport. Being the overly cautious person that I am, I always arrive at the airport at least two hours before my flight (usually earlier for international). On the days when security is fast, that gives me lots of time to sit at the airport on top of the time on the flight itself. Here are some of the things I like to do to waste time at the Airport:

Coffee – I normally stop drinking coffee at noon, but for flights I make an exception. I have never been good at sleeping on planes. I was even up the whole 8 hour flight to/from Paris both times. Never in the history of ever have I gotten to my vacation destination and decided that I should immediately go to sleep. Especially yesterday when I landed in Vegas! I didn’t know what M would want to do so I needed to be prepared for a night out. Without coffee, I would have crashed.

Rearrange Your Bags – Since I like to travel with my luggage as a carry on, my liquids and laptop have to be in my personal bag so they can be checked but rarely do I actually need them on the flight. If I can find a (somewhat) vacant area, I like to move this around a little bit so I’m not worried about kicking my computer under the seat or have my liquids fall out of my bag. Usually, it just takes a few minutes but makes me feel much better.

Read – I am currently two copies of Cosmo behind so what would be a better time to read them than sitting in the airport? I am currently between books (suggestions anyone?), but I like to keep those for the plane since there are less distractions. I’d be too afraid I’d get so engrossed in the book that I’d miss my boarding call!

Pictures – Let’s be honest, we all do this. How else are you going to let the world (your followers) know that you are going to someplace exciting? My favorites: the feet on the luggage, the airport coffee selfie, your plane tickets with the most recent copy of Cosmo.

Blog! – I may be new to blogging but I have always tried to use some of my airport time to be productive. Making to do lists for when I get back, catching up on homework when I was in school, so it only makes sense that yesterday I used this time to blog. I have some pretty funny stuff coming for you soon!

What do you like to do at the airport?

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Packing for a Weekend – I’m going to Vegas!

Guys, I don’t know if you know this but I have never been to Vegas. That ends this weekend. My friend M and I are headed to Vegas for a girl’s trip and I am beyond excited. We got tickets to see Britney’s Piece of Me so you can be jealous of that. I’ll tell you all about the trip later but for now, its time to get packing.

Whenever I fly, I try my hardest to avoid checking bags (especially short trips). If your bag gets lost during a weekend trip, you will likely not get it back until you are already home. As for the type of bag, it generally depends on the type of trip. If I am going to be bringing back more than I left with (shopping) and may need to check a bag coming home, it’s going to be a hard sided roller bag. If not, I much prefer a duffle. It might be a little smaller but it forces you to really think about what you pack and is easy to shove in the overheard bins when space is limited.

I also have a special purse for traveling. It’s much larger than my daily purse but fits everything I need. It’s actually big enough that I can put my full everyday purse inside of it with a few extra things. I also keep my toiletries bag prestocked so I never have to worry about forgetting something I may need. It’s great to have on hand as I can throw it in a gym or beach bag and know I’ll never be missing something I might need. The possibilities are endless and once you’ve got it you’ll wonder why you never did this before.

I like to pack with a specific color scheme. I tried it for the first time last year and it worked great! You can mix and match any of the clothes and wont be forced to wear the outfits as I originally planned if you change your mind. Sometimes you just aren’t feeling it and this gave me the flexibility to make sure I was always comfortable. I highly suggest it. Since this is Vegas, I choose a black and gold theme with a few pops of color.

Keep in mind that this list is perfect for me but I assume you are not exactly like me so change it and make it fit for you. It seems like a bit of over packing but in the past I usually end up with only a few items that didn’t get worn, I think that’s a good ratio. When I start packing, I like to lay everything out on my bed before I pack it. It gives me the ability to look at everything at once and not have to worry about what I had or had not packed yet.

Personal item (large purse):
-Tickets, confirmations, itinerary, etc
-Magazine (doubles as a folder for the documents above)
-Wallet (with ID, cards, and cash- I never travel without at least $40 in cash. I try not to use cards when I am not 100% sure of a business’ rep and you never know when your ride will get a flat and you have to take a cab.)
-Gum (for the flight)
-Cell phone
-Headphones
-iPad (some people might want a laptop but I get along fine with my iPad)
-Cosmetic bag (except liquids)
-Small handbag or clutch
-Seasonal items (Sunglasses, Umbrella, etc)
-Pens, pencils, and a small notebook
-Toiletries: (I got a great travel bag from Victoria’s Secret that can be hung in the bathroom with two large compartments and one small)

In the first large compartment: Quart size ziploc packed with travel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, lotion, contact solution, extra set of contacts, toothpaste, Aveno’s positively radiant, any liquid cosmetics, and perfumes (Note: I prefer perfumes to mists so the mini sets from Victoria’s Secret work great since they are so small. To save space, I use Hotel samples as much as possible, they are much smaller and a weekend without top of the line products isn’t going to hurt anyone)
In the second large compartment: toothbrush, mini tissue packet, band-aids, safety pins,  fashion tape, elastic hair bands and headbands, bobby pins, floss, contact case, a small pack of wet wipes, comb, hair clip, and plastic bags folded like paper footballs (There are tons of tutorials on the interwebs for this. They are great for dirty or wet clothes and folding them up saves a ton of space)
In the small compartment: This is great for jewelry. I like to pack one set of silver colored jewelry and one set in a gold or an accent color. A while back, I found some multi-compartmental medicine containers (like your grandma uses) in the dollar section at Target. It works great for holding rings, earrings, and small necklaces without them getting lost or tangled. It fit perfectly in this space as well.

 
(Jasmine decided to help me with the packing)

Roller Bag or Duffel:
-2 casual tops
-2 nice tops for going out
-1 extra pair of jeans or shorts
-1 dress or dressy outfit for a special occasion (either known or spur of the moment)**
-Sweater or Jacket
-Sleepwear
-Underwear
-Bras
-Socks
-1 pair of heels
-1 pair of casual shoes: sandals (in the summer) or moccasins (in the winter)
-1 pair of tennis shoes (could use as travel shoes as well if you want to save space)
-1 set of work out clothes (at least give yourself the opportunity to work out if the urge arises)
-Swimsuit (No matter where I’m going or what time of year I always bring a swimsuit, your ski lodge might have a hot tub that was not listed. You might not need it but if you don’t bring it, you might wish you would have)**

This should have you set for a basic three-day weekend. If you are going to be there for four, add at least one extra top and bottom (two tops if you know you’ll be going out every night). If you are doing a beach weekend, I suggest at least one swimsuit per day (two a day if you think you’ll be going to and from the beach/pool a lot- there is nothing worse than putting on a wet bikini). If you are going skiing, add ski clothes. So on so forth, I think you get the idea. Since this trip is to Vegas, I packed extras in the dress and swimsuit departments. When in Vegas right?

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Hope this is helpful for you! I know having this handy has made packing much easier for me since I made it. What would you add to the list?

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Liebster Award!

I have been seeing these Liebster Awards going around the blogging sphere so I was especially excited when Rachel of Countdowns and Cupcakes nominated me. Being new to blogging, I am excited to share more information about myself and to learn more about other bloggers!

What’s your all-time favorite food?
I have many favorite foods, including sushi, chili, and hot wings. My husband is not a huge fan of spicy foods but I absolutely love them. Whenever we go out to eat or I meet up with friends, I’ll look for the spiciest item on the menu. So my favorite food would be anything spicy!!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
There are so many places that I would love to visit, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Morocco. My husband spent two summers there studying and those trips made him into the man I fell in love with. It was our plan to honeymoon there but God had other plans and we moved to Denver instead. Someday, we’ll get there.

What’s one blog post you wish had gotten more attention?
All of them! Since this is only my 7th post, none of them have had much attention. When you’re done here, check them out? My blog could use some love!

What’s the story behind the name of your blog?
This is pretty self-explanatory but here we go. My blog name is Christy Marie Lifestyle Blog. My first name is Christy and Marie is my middle name. This is a Lifestyle Blog. Simple enough, right? It may change over time as I find a niche but this will do for now.

If you could have a do over on any moment of your life, what would it be and how would you change it?
I loved everything about our wedding (more on this in a post to come) but I swore I wouldn’t need a wedding planner and could plan and execute everything myself. In theory, this seemed like a great idea to save money. In hindsight, I was so busy the day of wedding that my mom spent the whole day coordinating for me. She loved having such a big part in the day but I wished she had been able to just enjoy it. Spending a little extra money for a day of wedding coordinator would have been really nice.

What’s your day job?
During the day, I work for a big financial insurance company. I do my best to keep my work life and my private (& social media) life separate, but I’ll let you know that I love my job and the people I work with everyday.

Who is your biggest blogging inspiration?
My husband has an amazing way with words. He’s not a blogger, but when he gets an idea, he can just go with it and that has always inspired me. Part of my blogging inspiration is to become better at taking my thoughts and finding the right words to express them. When it comes to an actual blogger that has inspired me, Helene from Helene in Between has been really influential as I find my own voice. She has so many great tips and ideas for growing your blog and staying true to yourself.

Are you a beach or mountain person?
Living in Denver so close to the mountains, you would think I was a mountain person. But no, I am a beach babe to the core. I would happily spend everyday on the beach in a bikini sipping umbrella drinks all day. Summer is my favorite season and I am counting down the days until its socially acceptable to break out the bikinis!

What’s one bad habit that you’d love to break?
I have the terrible habit of hitting the snooze button too many times in the morning. On a good morning, I will hit the snooze button once. Most days, I will use the excuse of ‘I showered yesterday so I can sleep in a bit longer’ or ‘I already picked on my outfit so another 10 minutes won’t hurt’ and hit snooze 2-3 times. On bad days, I hit snooze for an hour and I have 15 minutes to be dressed an out the door. I would like to say that the bad days are rare but in reality, it happens almost once a week. I would love to be the type of person that gets up with the first alarm but my bed is just too comfy.

What’s your favorite hobby (outside of blogging, of course)?
Growing up I was on a bowling league and my Opa would drive 3 hours almost every week to be there as my bowling coach. It was a great bonding experience for us. Although I only bowl every few months now, it’s still one of my favorite things to do. Just a few weeks ago I have my best game ever bowling 195 with 6 strikes (5 of which were in a row). In case you were wondering, yes, I do own my own ball and bowling shoes.

If you could see any musician in concert, who would it be?
Because in less than two weeks I will be seeing her, I have to say Britney. I am so incredibly excited for our girls’ trip to Vegas! A friend and I have been joking about see Britney together since we met. When we heard she was starting a residency a few years ago, joking got more serious and now that we both have steady income and jobs with vacation time… we have been talking about nothing else. I have a few ideas for blog posts about it so get ready for those coming soon.

11 Random Facts About Me:
-I am a huge coffee addict. I started drinking Starbucks at 16 and have been in love ever since. I regularly use the hashtag #starbucksismyspiritanimal on instagram and twitter. It’s not a joke, its real life… my spirit animal is a heavily caffeinate topless mermaid with two tails and perfect beach wave hair.
-My favorite color is green. I love that the color represents life and growth. It also makes my blue eyes shine.
-I love the matte line of lipstick by NYX Cosmetics. Currently have Siren and Sweet Pink. I love that they stay on all day without drying out your lips. I’ve been thinking of getting Zen Orchard for Vegas! Thoughts?
-I took French in high school and college. My fluency and vocabulary is probably the equivalent of a 4 year old. Maybe less now since I am out of practice.
-I broke my ankle while I was in college. I was  still on crutches for a 2 months when I was working as an Orientation Adviser. My favorite thing to do was tell the groups three stories of ‘how’ I broke my ankle. They loved deliberating which story was right.
-My husband is trying to turn me into a SciFi fan. We have Netflix binged Babylon 5, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Enterprise. I like them but when he’s not home, I prefer to binge on chick flicks, comedy specials, and documentaries.
-For the first 20 years of my life, I owned exactly two bottles of perfume. One was a Christmas present from an aunt Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds. Perfume was only worn for special occasions. Then I started working at Victoria’s Secret while in college and now I own about 25 and love changing my scent to match my outfit.
-My favorite flowers are Stargazer Lilies, especially when they are mixed with orange roses.
-I am currently obsessing over the Irish accent. I love watching videos of Saoirse Ronan and Joanna Cooper and practicing my Irish accent, current status: still sound like a silly American pretending to have an Irish accent.
-I love traveling! I have visited 20 states and lived in 3 of those. Globally, I have been to France, England, Cayman, Jamaica, and Mexico as well as a few cruises around the Caribbean.
-When I was little, my very Christian mother believed I may have been reincarnated from a dolphin because of the detailed stories I would tell.

Shout out to Charley at Borderline Unhinged who also nominated me! I will try to get to your questions in the next month or so. I am nominating Ashley from Wandering Weekenders, Cait from Cait’s Cozy Corner, Nicole of Bolt Blogs, Brook of Wide Open, and Vanessa of Surviving Chaos.

Your questions:
-How long have you been blogging and what inspired you to start?
-What is your favorite color and why?
-What is a current trend that you just can’t get on board with?
-What is your favorite trip you’ve ever taken?
-If you had to pick a theme song for your current stage in life, what would it be?
-Do you consider yourself to be critical thinking or creativity inspired? How does it effect how you blog?
-What is something that can always cheer you up on a gloomy day?
-If you were given $1,000,000.00 dollars at 8 am with the precedent that anything unspent by midnight had to be returned, how would you spend the day?
-Favorite quote?
-What is one thing that is just outside your comfort zone, but that you’ve always wanted to do?
-Would you rather get dressed up and go to or stay home in your pajamas?

Rules for the Liebster award:
Thank the Blogger that nominated you in your post and link back to their site
Display the Liebster Award logo on your blog
Answer 11 questions from the Blogger that nominated you
Tell your readers 11 random facts about you
Nominate 5-11 Bloggers with less than 1000 followers for the Liebster Awards
Ask your nominees to answer 11 questions

Friday Five: Essentials for Spring

Though this winter has been pretty mild (with the exception of the past two weeks), I am beyond excited for spring to finally get here. The days are getting warmer and the nights are getting shorter. Summer is my favorite of all seasons so spring always brings new hope as we make our way through the year.

Everyone knows the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” so it’s not surprising that my spring essentials revolve around those things in particular. Without further ago, my five essentials for spring:

  1. Rain boots – There is nothing worst than putting together the perfect out fit only to have it start raining in the middle of the day and ruin your shoes. If there is even the slightest chance of rain in the forecast, I will throw my rain boots in the car so I can change into them at a moment’s notice.
  1. Umbrella – In preparation for the rain, an umbrella is key. I like having a small one that can fold up tiny and fit in my purse. I hate being caught in the rain without one. I am all for singing and dancing in the rain, as long as I don’t have somewhere important to go that requires I smell/look better than a wet dog.
  1. Floral prints – I absolutely love when the weather gets nice enough that I can pull out the floral prints, whether it’s a dress, skirt, top, you name it. I even splurged for a floral print pair of heels last year that I am dying to bring out of hibernation! Sunshine and floral prints were made for each other and I can’t get enough when spring rolls around.
  1. Ankle Jeans – Spring is a great time to break out the ankle jeans. Whether you go for the loose fit boyfriend or tighter skinny style, these are a great way to bridge the gap from winter’s full coverage but still keeps you warm until summer hits. With all the heavy layers of winter, loose boyfriend jeans can look frumpy when not properly paired, but the lightweight fabrics of spring are a perfect compliment. They also show off your cute new shoes in a major way.
  1. Small Bag – Another great part about spring is spring-cleaning… out your purse that is! With the cold weather in the past, this is a great time to clean out all the gloves, hats, scarves and anything else you collected over the winter season so you can move into a smaller bag. For spring, I find the perfect size is just slightly bigger than my iPad mini so that all the essentials fit.

What are your spring essentials? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!