tasting butternut squash. for the first time. and it is delicious.

smelling new books. (you know the smell i mean.) because i have no self control when i walk into barnes & noble. 

eagerly awaiting returning to indiana to visit family and friends in january!

listening to jake owen, and a slew of other crooning cowboys.

debating whether or not the colts actually deserved their win against the texans last night. (don't get me wrong. i love my boys in blue to death. last night was just...ridiculous.)

making an effort to cook more. and freezer meals don't count. most of this just means i need to plan ahead better, and let's just say it is a work in progress.

giggling at flashbacks to karaoke night a couple weeks ago. it was a blast and hilarious and i can't wait until we do it again.

learning to balance full time job and freelance projects on the side. it's a blessing and curse at the same time.

wondering how john green manages to write the most quotable books. "my thoughts are stars i cannot fathom into constellations."

realizing that i have actually built a life out here. i would get so caught up in the past or what was in my future that i never just stopped and took in the present. as temporary as my situation is right now, it is real and full of amazing people and memories that i want to keep close forever.

anticipating packing up what little belongings i brought with me to orange county and moving them up to long beach. i'm definitely excited, but i'm just not the biggest fan of the packing/unpacking routine.

wanting to go back to last month when we hadn't pushed our clocks back yet and there was still the tiniest sliver of daylight left when i left work. 

smiling because i have a pretty cool life right now and i shouldn't let stupid things get me down.

P.S. I totally stole this prompt from Hello Miss Chelsea.


25 by 25

It seems like so long ago that I posted a 21 by 21 list. And though I did accomplish some of those goals (sang karaoke in public, graduated on time, discovering new places - Southern California in my case), most of the list flopped. So I figure with just a little over two years left until my 25 mark, I'd take on another list.

1. Earn another stamp on my passport. Let's just say this is what inspired this list, because my always wanderlusting sister is trying to plan a Paris trip for next February. Or May. Or just sometime next year. And I say, why not?

2. Get a tattoo. Just a small ampersand on the inside of my left wrist. (It's basically the infinity sign for designers. And I just love them a lot.) But I have to work up the courage to face the pain. And pick out the perfect font, of course.

3. Call another new place "home" for a while. Indiana will always hold a special place in my heart. Born and raised there, I will always think of it fondly and miss it every day. But Southern California has treated me well, and I can't wait to see where else life takes me. Knowing me, I won't stay still for too long.

4. Pay off all debts. Credit card. Loans. I don't have much, so it's totally doable.

5. Complete a reading list. The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge may be a bit too ambitious for this time frame, but I know there are plenty of other lists with great literature out there.

6. Road trip up the Pacific Coast. Stole this one from my sister's list a few years back. But really, a nice (looong) drive up the PCH? A dream come true, I tell you.

7. Hike to the top of Saddleback. Part of this depends on whether I stay in Orange County for a while or not, but it's the major peak in the Santa Ana Mountains near where I live. But I'm definitely not in the right kind of shape to hike it now. (I hear it's about 16 miles round trip.) But someday, guys. Someday.

8. Volunteer. I miss the mission trips I used to take in high school. And it's not something I have time for now (as sad as that is to say). But I could definitely make time to volunteer at the animal shelter or something every other weekend.

9. Start building up savings. And not just an extra hundred bucks. Real savings.

10. Confront a fear. Maybe my sister is right. Maybe we should bungee jump off the Stratosphere next year...

11. Learn to drive a stick. I tried this a couple years back and got frustrated because I just couldn't pick it up quickly. But I will learn.

12. Get fit. Because health is important.

13. Apply for a job I think is out of my league. I'll never know unless I try, right? And who knows what could come of it.

14. Learn to surf. Because seriously, it sounds like so much fun. And I live on the coast.

15. Go to a movie by myself. As independent as I may be, I hate going most places alone. Or showing up to places alone. And I just really need to get over it.

16. Learn to say 'no...' I still have a tendency to make my life full of extra commitments that take up so much time and energy. I need to choose my battles and remember to leave time for me.

17. But also know when to say 'yes.' I don't like asking for help. And sometimes I feel like accepting help when offered is the same as asking. But sometimes you just have to realize the act is just out of love and generosity, and accepting it is not selfish. Just so long as you accept it with love and gratefulness.

18. See the northern lights. Alaska or Canada could be a cool trip.

19. Be an audience member at a talk show taping. I live in Southern California. I need to take advantage of it while I can. One day, Ellen. One day.

20. Become a morning person. I love being up early. I feel like I get so much more accomplished. I just have a bit of trouble waking up. It's all about forging a new routine.

21. Take a class. Cooking. Ballroom dancing. Something.

22. Visit a vineyard in Napa Valley. Beautiful landscape. Wine tastings. Northern California. (Remember when Hallie Parker's dad owned a vineyard in Napa in The Parent Trap? Yeah, that has nothing to do with this. Nothing at all.)

23. Run in a 5k. Major challenge, but I'll get there.

24. Complete a 365 challenge. Most likely of the photo-a-day variety. I figure it could help me discipline myself into blogging more.

25. Pick an instrument back up. I loved playing the piano. I should really take the time to reteach myself.

Challenge accepted.



If there is one thing I didn't expect to miss about the Midwest, it was weather. Sometimes it would just get too cool too quickly. Rain usually ended up being a pain instead of a relief. And it isn't until the sun reappears in late March that you realize just how long the gray skies of winter had been hanging around.

But now I live in sunny Southern California where the weather is usually flawless.

Well, four months in and I'm here to tell you that perfect weather gets boring. At least in my humble opinion. Which is why I was grinning like a maniac and taking multiple afternoon breaks outside today. BECAUSE IT RAINED.

Full on drizzle, you guys. Not just a few sprinkles, but actual, substantial rain. Not to mention it was accompanied by cool 50s temperatures. 

It was awesome. 

Now if only we could get some fall foliage out here, my October would be made.



Being a twenty-something fresh out of college and just a few months deep in my first postgrad position — in this case, a traineeship — I am constantly field questions like "How's the real world?" and "Is your job going well?" and "California, huh?"

I never really knew how to respond. I mean, yes. California is great, and everything at my job is going well. But I'm kind of stuck in limbo between college and career life, which isn't necessarily the greatest situation. Sure, it feels nice to be slightly carefree for just a little bit longer, but that comes at a cost. And the cost is about to come back and bite me in the ass.

While I'd been galavanting off to the desert every other weekend this summer, work had been deciding that they would soon need to disband the provided housing and pay us a monthly stipend instead. And a tight one at that. And there was me, essentially living paycheck to paycheck, paying the minimum on bills and not racking up any savings. 

Well, I finally faced reality and decided it was time to start acting more like a grownup.

With some encouragement and good advice from a roommate, I made a rough draft of a monthly budget for both the next couple of months, as well as post-provided-housing months. (Which is also when I have to start paying off a loan.)

I've come to realized that though I am not making great money by any means, I am making enough. It just means I have to be responsible with it and not blow it on iced caramel macchiatos and basically anything I come across in Target. 

So here's to new adventures in self control and frugality. And trying to be a little less college, and a little more (young) adult.



You could say I didn't act my age this weekend. Which doesn't seem quite right because 22 is prime Vegas age. (After 21, that is.)

But, no.

I now own my own bingo dauber and will probably never take a Vegas trip again that doesn't involve a round of bingo. It may have a senior citizen stereotype, but you don't know how intense bingo is until you try it. (Especially when you're running late and have to catch up your cards after 20 numbers have already been called.) Did I win? No. But I only lost $30 to funding two hours of bingo instead of God-knows-how-much down in the casino at Blackjack and Wolf Run.

And then my sister and I channeled our inner preteen for a bit. All I have to say is: Backstreet Boys and Jesse McCartney? Still got it. (Jesse's dancing alone may have been worth my $40.) However, Pauly D was the worst. No one needs to fist pump for a straight 30 minutes while listening to him play iTunes. And OH MY GOSH THE SCREAMING GIRLS. Pretty sure my ears were still ringing when I woke up at the crack of dawn to drive back to Orange County.

Weekend well spent? I'd say so.



One of the great things about living in California is being in such close proximity to two of my siblings. Four to six hours in the car is nothing compared to the cross-country flight that used to be required for a visit. And therefore, I make visits more often. (I've probably seen my sister in Vegas more this summer than in the last three years combined.)

I've been to Vegas for birthdays and concerts and out-of-town visitors. I've been to Phoenix just for fun and some sibling and nephew bonding.

This weekend is no exception. Once the horrendous Southern California traffic dies down this evening, I'm headed to Vegas once again for some bingo and boy bands. :)

(Maybe after this I'll stay put a while and actually get to know Orange County and L.A. But we'll see!)


California livin'

Three months ago, I drove 2,091 miles from my hometown in Indiana to Orange County, California. You could say it's kind of been like a dream, and I had certainly dreamed of it for most of my life. But you could say it's pretty normal, too. Just with a better view. 

Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, I live in compact area of luxury apartment complexes and shopping centers. That's Irvine, at least. But all the cities here have their own personality. Old downtown Orange is so charming, and once you hit the right part of Anaheim it's Disney central. Old money in the north, new money — and Real Housewives — in the south.

Though the trainee program at work feels like a big experiment at times, things are going really well. I work with great people who help me grow. I enjoy the freedom I get to inject my own style in my work and try new things. There are tons of people my age, thanks to the program. And we are basically The Real World meets The Paper but without our own reality show.

Right now I feel like I'm in the middle of transition from college to real world adult. So things feel permanent yet unstable all at the same time. I've decided that for right now, there are no longterm plans. I'm just to go ride out this opportunity until I feel like I'm ready to move on.

In the meantime, I'm doing just fine with my sunshine and palm trees.


Mixed Tape Tuesday

Bringing back this weekly feature. Here's some of the FM radio tunes that I'm a little obsessed with right now.

1. Acapella - Karmin

2. Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

3. The Way - Ariana Grande

4. Love Somebody - Maroon 5

5. Next To Me - Emeli Sandé


Post-grad Adventures, Part 2 // London

After we had squeezed as much Beatles history as possible out of Liverpool, our group hopped a train to London. Well, most of us made the train. A couple that ventured off to get snacks caught up with us in Birmingham. Shame, too. We met some interesting people on that leg. (Let's just say fencing in the aisle was involved.)

Going back to London felt a little bit like visiting an old home. It's a great feeling to be some place so far away but have it seem comfortable and familiar. Although, my adventures this time around were much different than last summer when I was there for the Olympics. More touristy, if you will. But it was awesome.

We stayed in the same place as last summer on good ol' Farringdon Road, right up the street from our trusty Tesco, the Farringdon tube stop, and just a couple blocks from the Rosebery Avenue bus stop. (We became big fans of the buses this time around.)

To actually make our time in London tie in with the class, we did a rock 'n' roll tour. Homes of Elton John and Amy Winehouse, Paul's company near Soho, and — of course — Abbey Road. Which, if I say so myself, we crossed like pros. Ryan even stood in the middle of the busy street to snap the shot of us.

(Pretty sure this photo made my dad extremely proud. And still a little jealous.) This image also accompanied Lily's Beatles quiz on the Indianapolis Monthly website.

The rest of our week was pretty much up to our own desires. So, we took a ride on The Eye.

Watched the changing of the guard and OH YEAH, THAT'S THE QUEEN just casually driving through the gates at Buckingham.

Visited Kensington Palace, and the beautiful gardens. (Though, on a very rainy English afternoon.)

Toured Westminster Abbey (which, of course, did not allow photography inside).

Went on a Jack The Ripper walking tour in Whitechapel. (Those alleys do look pretty sketch at night.)

Then ended the week with a bike ride in Hyde Park, and seeing "Wicked" in the West End. 


I've got to say, for just 10 days abroad, it was a highly successful trip. But at the end, you're always happy to return home. Especially if you're the professor:

(For the full photo album, go to Facebook.)

Post-grad Adventures, Part 1 // Liverpool

This post is long overdue, I am well aware of that fact.

But, in a way, it feels like the perfect time.

At 9:56 p.m. Monday, I attached my final college paper ever to an email and sent it off. It didn't matter that I had already walked, received my diploma and moved across the country. It wasn't over until the to-do list for college was officially empty. (And man what a feeling that is!)

Life has kind of just been a whirlwind. Three days after graduation, I was on a plane to England for my Beatles at 50 class trip. It was basically incredible. 

Liverpool was such a great little city. Our first day there, though we were extremely jet-lagged, we headed down to the Liverpool Museum to see none other than Yoko Ono.

And later that evening, we hopped a train to New Brighton (AKA THE CUTEST LITTLE SEASIDE TOWN ON THE IRISH SEA) to see Mike McCartney at a book signing. Oh, and then proceeding down the street to have dinner with him. A true story, which ended with us sprinting for the last train to Liverpool.

We had a private, full-day Beatles tour. We saw the four members' childhood homes (and even toured Lennon's and McCartney's!), their schools, the church grounds where they first played as The Quarrymen, and got a tour of the Casbah Club by Pete Best's brother, Rory. Oh, and of course the classic sites: Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane.

We also spent our fair share of time on Mathew Street, hitting up The Grapes and The Cavern Club.

(photo borrowed from Sally Jo George)

Another main event in Liverpool was going to The Beatles Story museum. (Which is way cool, by the way.) But we also got to have some free time in the city. And when the wind and rain would give us a break, Liverpool was quite beautiful, "beneath the blue suburban skies."

Someday, I shall return.

After a few amazing days in Liverpool, we headed to London. But more on that later.

(SPOILER ALERT: There is a Queen sighting and the most perfect Abbey Road crossing photo. So basically you won't want to miss it.) 


Signs that "adulthood" is near

Let's be real: I will never retire Disney from my movie collection or iTunes library. I still think that blue box of mac 'n' cheese is acceptable for every meal, and I will keep on reading young adult fiction like it's my job.

Timeless tendencies aside, it is hard to deny that in just a few short weeks, I have to grow up just a little bit more. How do I know?

1. I've had my last "official" spring break. And it wasn't with a group of friends at Panama City Beach, which I'm fairly certain is where the rest of campus was. I chose to go to Alabama and visit family. And it was great. It was nice to catch up with everyone after so long, especially when I'm about to move to the opposite side of the country.

2. I bought my cap and gown. $45 dollars down the drain for something I will only wear once. Oh well, commencement just isn't the same without the uniform. Now that it is in my possession, though, everything just seems too real and happening too fast. Before I know it, I'll be putting it on and taking my last steps on Ball State's campus.

3. I can no longer pull all-nighters. At least not like I used to. I could pull them off every few nights without a sweat a couple years ago. It's not that easy anymore. I guess I'll just have to settle for a nightly average of four hours of sleep to get me through each day.

4. I've admitted that I don't know how to be an adult. I also feel that nobody every really knows how to pull it off. We are destined to just stumble along for years, making our way as we go and hope everything turns out OK. I hope I'm a little more prepared than that, but right now, I'm not even close. It's time to start gaining more self discipline and making more budgets and lists and...yeah, important stuff like that.

5. I've become a homebody. Not the crazy, never-leave-the-house-EVER type of homebody. It's more that I'd rather stay in with a couple of people, or even by myself if I need a break from the world. I could be perfectly happy just a movie or book. No drunken crowds necessary.


Weekly project

I think I'm going to make this a weekly project. Just finding a quote that resonates with me at the time, then design it. 

It's nice to have a project that's just for you, and not for a work or school deadline. Something that comes with no stress or constraints. 

Still working on a snazzy title for this series, but it'll come in time.

Enjoy :)



You could say it hasn't been the best week. Two parking tickets, a trip to the health center, stressful work nights, little sleep. And that's just a part of it.

Sitting here writing this, my birthday has already squeaked by, ending just minutes ago. And I won't lie, part of me feels a little down. But the other part of me is counting my blessings, and making me realize that even though things may be in a slight, slump at the moment, it is nothing to stress over.

I think back on last year, and I remember just how good 21 was to me. And then I look ahead, to a trip visiting family in Alabama, returning to England for another field study, and then moving my life to California for at least a year. My life has definitely not been lacking in adventure. And I know that so many great things are left to come.

And that's when I remember that those small road bumps ultimately mean nothing. Bad days happen. Bad weeks, even. But it's just a piece. The big picture is what matters. And that's what I'm going to try to remember as I embark on 22.


Completely unrealistic and sarcastic expectations for 2013

1. I don't have to worry about my birthday, because Taylor Swift made turning 22 cool. "I don't know about you, but i'm feeling 22..."

2. The picture I get crossing Abbey Road will be perfect and not look awkwardly posed at all.

3. Life in Southern California will be directly relatable to "The O.C." and "Laguna Beach."


One taste and I'm a believer

Something I had been seeing on blogs and Pinterest boards everywhere lately are those Green Monster spinach shakes. At first, I just thought, gross. Until I read the testimonies that they doesn't taste like spinach.

Not that I don't like spinach, but it just doesn't sound appetizing in a blended shake fashion.

BUT, I made my first one today. And I can honestly say that I could drink these every day.

I used a recipe from Iowa Girl Eats:

1 frozen banana, sliced
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 cups baby spinach (more or less; I just put enough in to fill the rest of the blender)

Another perk? I drank this at 9:30 a.m. It is currently 1:45 p.m. and I am just now starting to feel hungry.

Try it. You won't regret it!


2012 // 2013

Sometimes, as I trudge through the busy routine of everyday life, I just get stuck and feel as if the monotony will never end. During these last couple weeks of a relaxed break, though, I was able to see the bigger picture of this past year. So many amazing memories were made, and I truly feel so blessed to have had such a great year.

In JANUARY,  I celebrated my 21st birthday at a concert in Indy with a couple friends.

FEBRUARY, made me an aunt of three wonderful little boys when my newest nephew, Oliver, was born.

I took my first of three trips last year to Vegas in MARCH, my first since turning 21.

MAY was my second trip and full of family bonding, hiking and karaoke. And I got my first tan lines in over a year!

The next 10 weeks of my summer were spent in the land of lighthouses and Kennedys. I interned at the Cape Cod Times until mid-JULY. It was an incredible experience and I loved living by the ocean!

From the end of July into AUGUST, I took a trip across that ocean. My three and half weeks spent in England reporting on the 2012 Summer Olympics was an experience beyond words. Besides getting graphics published in the Chicago Tribune, I got to explore the Tower of London, take some strolls around London and Worcester, and...OH YEAH, watch the USA women win gold from the top of Wembley!

Just a few days after I got back, I began my senior year at Ball State. Crazy.

I started off the holiday season with yet another trip to Vegas in NOVEMBER to spend Thanksgiving with my sister's family in the desert. Then we drove to Phoenix to meet up with my brother's family in Scottsdale, and the rest of my family flew in on the weekend for an early family Christmas.

Just when I thought life had calmed down to end the year, DECEMBER brought good news that ensured 2013 to be just as exciting as 2012. First, my England adventures aren't over! I'm taking a colloquium over the Beatles this semester, and we are visiting Liverpool right after graduation.

And second, I accepted a year-long internship with the Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., beginning in June! I am beyond excited, because California has always been a dream of mine. I had kind of let it start to fizzle, believing that what happens will happen and I was determined to follow opportunity. But then it just happened. And it feels right :)

Just these plans alone get me all riled up for 2013. Between graduation and leaving for the west coast, I know that May will be tough for me. I hate goodbyes. But, I know that everything will be OK.

My other hopes for this year? Just a few simple things:

Read more books, drink more water, pray a little more, complain a little less and just remember to love.

Happy New Year! :)