Monday Motivation


I’m getting back into the swing of things on this dreary Monday in Tampa.  With high hopes to achieve resolutions, I’m sure people are pushing themselves to be healthier, more kind, etc.  Always remember that you are a person with your own limitations.  Don’t push yourself – use what you have, and do what you can.

Happy Monday!



Laura Hooper Calligraphy Workshop

Recently, my mom and I traveled to Atlanta for a calligraphy workshop hosted by Laura Hooper Calligraphy.  My mom has the most beautiful penmanship, and I have always wanted to learn the art so we decided to take a girls weekend and enjoy the workshop together. (Check out my photo recap of the trip here).


The workshop was hosted at The Ellis Hotel, which is right downtown near plenty of hotels of all price points and lots of dining options.  We opted to stay across the street and walked to dinner.  We found a great Irish pub where we appropriately watched the Notre Dame game.


The event was made picturesque by The Perfect Palette, an amazing resource for designing events, and Lauren Rae Photography.  We were greeted by this beautiful sign that appropriately set the tone for an afternoon of learning, calligraphy, and Instagramming (of course).

The class was a perfect size.  After Laura showed us how to draw each letter, she would come by and give students individual attention. At first it was intimidating, but soon it was obvious what an amazing resource Laura is.


Each place setting featured a beginner notepad + resource guide, additional nibs, a pen, ink, and a delicious Izze.  The room was full of golds and greens combined with geometric designs.  Their team really knew the demographics of the class – all women who appreciate little touches of beauty.


I also have a newfound infatuation with succulents.  I just recently laid a bamboo plant to rest, so hopefully I will do better with these.


When you’re sitting in a class for 3 hours, a little snack is definitely in order.  Their team designed a popcorn bar that had everything you could image from cheese topping to candies.  They continued the green and gold color palette and included a little yellow on the bar.


If Laura Hooper is coming to your area, I would recommend taking her class.  The beginner package that she offers is great, but nothing can beat one on one training.  At the very least you a sure to attend a beautiful event with a delish snack.

For a full overview of the event from Laura herself, check out her blog post.


Atlanta Road Trip Photo Recap

Isn’t it funny how your parents become your best friends when you grow up?  I was lucky enough to realize this earlier than most.  In the past two months, I have gotten to spend time with each of my parents – just the two of us. If you can swing it, I  would recommend road trips with your parents as a unique way to get to know them individually as an adult.  You really learn a lot about them when you sit in traffic and decide whether or not to parallel park.

My mom and I traveled up to Atlanta for a calligraphy class and to have some girls time.  My mom is and always has been my best friend.  She is the kindest, most gentle, and most generous person I will ever meet.  I am so thrilled that I realize each day that I am more like her than I ever knew, and we had a blast on our trip!  Take a peek at my photo recap below.


Momma was so proud that she parallel parked her beast of a car that we had to capture that moment.  You go girl!


The Festival on Ponce was a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon!  (Check out that sky!) The bi-annual festival features art, jewelry, and hand-made goods.


I consider myself artsy, but not in the “Let’s spend the afternoon at the gallery kind of way.”  The art at the Festival was widely appealing and entertaining to even the least artsy visitors.   Above is art from my two favorite festival finds – Heather Baumbach and Chad Moore of Piffle Pics.


The handmade jewelry scene was on point at the Festival on Ponce.  Cameoko and Cameron Kruse Designs were my favorites with beautiful displays and products.


Also on display were beer bottle candles.  How creative!


My favorite memory from this trip (other than the room service eating, Food Network watching, girl talking Sunday night in our snazzy hotel) was chowing down on a bag of kettle corn from MooseHead Kettle Corn.  They had every flavor you can imagine.  We walked around looking at art and people watching, and even though I spilled most of the bag on the ground in a vendor’s tent, we had a great time!

Thanks for an awesome trip, Momma!  Love you!


10 Tips to a Healthy Relationship After 100 Happy Months


Today marks 100 months since my husband, Nico, and I have officially been together.  100 months ago today a goofy teenager danced around Busch Gardens, a Tampa theme park, and asked me to be his girlfriend in the parking lot.  Not exactly the beginning of one of Keats’ romantic poems, but it is the beginning of our story.

Many relationships have seen 100 months come and go unnoticed, but I think that is what makes us special – the little things.  As this milestone approached, I found myself thinking more and more about acknowledging the little details that make a healthy relationship.  The things that you may think don’t matter once you’ve seen each other naked are the most important.

Below, Nico and I have compiled a list of tidbits of advice to couples out there looking to build a healthy relationship…whether you’re in month 1 or 101.

1. Manners –  You’ve probably cursed at your partner more than anyone else, but don’t forget your please’s and thank you’s.   When I clean the house, I always get a thank you.  When I ask for a favor, I always say please.  Just because typical formalities are out the window, doesn’t mean that you should stop showing your partner that you’re grateful for what they do.

2. Smooch – In the beginning, you kissed A LOT right? Well, just because your intimacy has advanced doesn’t mean that kissing is an old trick.  I read once that you should make out for 15 minutes minimum everyday.  And it works!  There’s a special little intimacy to kissing that you should never underestimate.

3.  Know how to be apart – Maybe your partner travels for work?  Or maybe you have barre class every Thursday?  No matter what it is or how long you are apart, it helps.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  It also makes your relationship more dynamic.  Each partner has their individual stories to share with one another that makes them more interesting.

4.  Love notes – Not everyone can write like Nicholas Sparks, but you don’t need to.  When Nico and I first started dating, he was shy about his expressing his feelings verbally, but he nailed it in writing.  I could hear his voice in everything that he wrote.  That made every word so much more genuine and special because I knew they were from his heart.  Even just an “I love you” left on a steamy mirror is special.


4. Don’t fight dirty – This is one that I am still working on.  I used to keep an inventory of wrongs that Nico had done to use in any battle, and that was just wrong.  Nico taught me to fight with the hopes of solving the dispute at hand, rather than winning.  Have one goal in mind when arguing: constructive compromise.

5.  Partner on the big decisions – Never stop partnering on big decisions – anything that involves money, your time, or your family should be decided together.  This is probably one of the elements of our relationship that I am most proud of – we are partners.  We make pro + con lists, we play devil’s advocate, and we come to an agreement….together.

Nico Note:  It’s ok to disagree on the little stuff.  In fact, it’s more interesting when you disagree on the little stuff.

6.  Honesty – Duh, right?  But I am focusing more on honesty with the little things.  I have my unique little quirks that oddly enough not everyone finds as charmingly delightful as I do.  For instance, I used to flick Nico’s nose randomly. (Adorable, right?)  I didn’t think of it as anything, but he really hated it….and he didn’t tell me for YEARS.  When he did tell me, I was shocked but I stopped doing it.  This one little change made each flick-free day a little better for him, and it made me rethink my actions.  Win- win.

7.  Know that you’re weirdos – Dr. Seuss was right, love is mutual weirdness.  I tolerate his “Nico Jokes” (code for the literally the driest jokes you will ever hear), and he lets me throw most of the closet on the bed when I am getting ready to go out.  We dance in the kitchen when we make dinner.  It took us months to get to our first kiss.  But all of these things are why we love each other….and how we know how special the other person must be to love us back.

8.  Keep surprising each other – Nico will plan an entire date and not tell me a single detail because he wants to surprise me.  He will leave little notes around the house to remind me how much he loves me.  He sends me on scavenger hunts – one all around the campus of UF – just for fun.  He asked my best friends and my mom about my engagement ring before he bought it.  He planned 2 separate surprise parties for our engagement. He’s the master of surprise.  Each day is different, and that’s exciting!

Nico Note: Dote upon your significant other at random.

9.  He’s human – Sure, you hold your partner to a higher caliber than his friends or ‘typical ‘guys, but never forget that he’s still a man.  He will make mistakes, he will refuse to install the new garbage disposal for months, he will make a judgmental face at you when you accidentally scare the dog so badly that he falls off the bed, and he will never stop insisting that “This is the Cubs’ year”, but remember that these little habits are what makes them a person – your person.

10.  Grow together – Having started dating in our teens, Nico and I are done a lot of growing together already.  Certainly, you have heard of plenty of couples who have grown apart, but that is because growing closer requires so much more work.  You have to be willing to take risks together, to miss out on things together, and to realize that these supposed sacrifices make you stronger.  Choosing each other over anything else shouldn’t be considered a sacrifice.  It’s a step towards a stronger relationship.  If you grow as people, but the relationship doesn’t grown it won’t last.  (I got that from an episode of Reba.)


I hope that you all honestly look at your relationships in the figurative mirror and make sure to appreciate the little things!  What would you add to the list?  Leave comments + let me know how you got to 100 happy months!

(Happy 29th stud!)


Bunco for All Children’s Hospital

Last week was the Inaugural Bunco Night for the Tampa Branch of the All Children’s Hospital Guild.  We were all a bit nervous hosting a bunco event since none of us had played the game before, but it was a great success!  We decided on a Masquerade theme with orange, black, and accents of silver throughout for a little seasonal flare.  The members collected donated prizes from places like The Bar Method, Blo Blow Dry Bar, and Darden Restaurants that were then raffled off.  We also offered dinner graciously provided by The Olive Garden and home-baked sweets like pumpkin cookies and cake pops.



The children from the outpatient center created our centerpieces – handmade masks.  These masks were also auctioned off for any guests who were not able to bring their own mask, but still wanted to participate in the Best Mask Contest.  However, many of our guests had impressive masks!  Ranging from original designs to masks from New Orlean’s Mardi Gras.



Hope to see you at the next ACH Tampa Branch Event, and Happy Halloween!




DC Road Trip Photo Recap

Getting back into the swing of things is always tough after vacation.  As I get used to my “normal” schedule, I thought I’d share some of my pictures from my father-daughter road trip to DC.

This was our ride.  One of my dad’s NSX.  Apparently this car has somewhat of a cult following, and we got tons of waves on the road from admiring fellow travelers.


This is Fondant Nico.  He lives in DC.  He was the topper to the grooms cake for Nico in 2012.  He stays in the fridge and looks like new! Now let’s hope that the power never goes out, or else I’ll be introducing Pile of Goo Nico.


Ok, other than seeing family, this was what I was looking most forward to – Harris Teeter’s 7 layer dip.  My high school had a healthy obsession with 7 layer dip, and this is the perfect combination of nostalgia and tastiness.


Me and Pops!  We drove with the top down on a gorgeous day!  I rocked a scarf on my head in an attempt to maintain my perfectly manicured do, and look like a movie star from the 50s.


This was our destination – Gen. Jubal A. Early Ferry that crosses the Potomac River.  We headed into Maryland for two nights of family and friend fun.


My date for a bike ride on the W&OD trail that runs from Leesburg, VA into DC.  The weather was crisp and sunny, and of course I managed to get a sunburn.


Water break photo shoots are a must, right?! I look a lot like this guy, eh?


During one of our breaks, we came across this little furniture store – Olde Mill Furniture in Ashburn, VA.  It had those old wood floors that creak perfectly.  The color palette and friendly environment made for a great pit stop.


Community Spotlight: Downtown Dunedin


My husband and I have lived in Florida our entire lives except for one year that we spent in the DC area.  We knew soon after leaving the Sunshine State that we wanted and needed to come back.  It’s places like Downtown Dunedin that give central Florida a wonderfully unique vibe that confirms that not all Floridians are tanned beach bums.

Downtown Dunedin is a perfect destination for a Saturday afternoon of shopping and dining.  Just about 30 minutes from Tampa, Dunedin,originally settled by the Scottish, hosts over 25 festivals annually.  Even on an “off-weekend”, the downtown district is bustling thanks in large part to its beautiful views and art galleries.


You’re welcomed to the downtown district by a beautiful mural of “Dunedin” that showcases some of the best that Dunedin has to offer including the Toronto Blue Jays training stadium, citrus fruits, Scottish traditions, and those beautiful views.  Throughout the town you will also see small oranges painted in random locations.  Next time you visit, I challenge you to spot all of small murals that are a rare form of Chamber approved graffiti.


Everywhere you look in Dunedin has quaint spots to relax and enjoy a cool drink.  Dunedin takes great advantage of recycled train parts.  From restaurants in repurposed train cars to statues of conductors, a rich rail history is present in the small district.  Check out the Historical Museum on Main Street for a full history of this picturesque location.