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Tagged with " experiences"

A Photoshoot with the Littlest Princess

Sep 23, 2013 by     1 Comment    Posted under: Slice of Life

Hands down, my favorite thing about 2013 so far has been the birth of Sophia, my brother and sister-in-law’s first child, and my first niece. There’s something pretty spectacular about being an aunt (I know Rhiannon would agree), and something even cooler about the fact that Sophia was born the day before my birthday (Happy Early Birthday to me!) So when Bianca mentioned an idea she had for a photoshoot for Sophia about a month ago, I was thrilled, because I knew it’d be adorable. Little did I know that events would transpire that would put me in the role of photographer, but man, was it fun!

Because Halloween is right around the corner and we were dealing with a rainy forecast for the weekend, Bianca wanted to make sure we started out with her first Halloween costume (ever) – Snow White. With a borrowed bridge and mirror, a basket of apples, and the seven dwarves, we managed to stage a pretty magical outdoor retreat in just a few minutes.


This was Sophia’s first time playing in the grass, and we definitely had our hands full trying to keep her attention. But she was a trooper, and gave me enough time to take about 100 photos or so before she’d had enough of outfit #1.


Because Sophia was born right after my brother deployed to Afghanistan, she hasn’t had a chance to meet her daddy face-to-face yet. When Bianca told me what she had in mind for outfit #2, it took everything I had not to tear up. (I’m a total marshmallow.) While Bianca got Sophia ready, Chris and I set up the backdrop for our “Welcome Home, Daddy” pictures. Equipped with Sean’s white barracks cover, combat boots (which he wore while in Iraq) and dog tags, as well as an American flag, confederate flag and camouflage, we were ready to add Sophia.


My brother is coming home from Afghanistan toward the end of October, and I can’t wait for to see his reaction when he meets his little girl for the first time. Sean’s dog tags and boots were a hit with the littlest princess (which made all of us smile), and she put up with Bianca and I rearranging her constantly quite well, although toward the end of this round, she let us know in no uncertain terms that she was close to her limit.


Outfit #3 proved to be the last straw for our little darling, and she had a mini meltdown before letting me take any pictures. She still looked ridiculously adorable dressed up in the butterfly fairy outfit Bianca made for her, but she was tired and hungry and ready for a break.


I’m still going through all the photos I took yesterday, and haven’t had a chance to add any filters or make any edits, but as a proud auntie, I couldn’t help but share her cuteness as soon as possible.


10 Days ‘Til We Say “HI” to Hawaii!

Sep 18, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Creative Clutter

IMG_3741It’s hard to believe that our trip to Hawaii is only a week and a half away. With a little help from my friend (and current local) Emily, we’ve managed to put together a pretty substantial list of things to see/experience while Chris and I are there. While I doubt we’ll manage to squeeze in everything I’ve listed below – it definitely gives a great jumping off point. I can’t wait to follow-up post-trip with photos and highlights from our adventures!

Natural Splendor

  • Lanikai Pillbox
  • Maunawili Falls
  • KT Hill
  • Pali Lookout
  • Diamond Head
  • KoKo Head
  • Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike
  • Deadmans catwalk
  • Manoa Falls
  • Chinaman’s Hat
  • Kaena Hike
  • Olomana Trail


Snorkelers at Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District, Oahu's North Shore

  • Lanikai Beach
  • Kailua Beach
  • Sharks Cove (snorkeling)
  • Hanauma Bay
  • Waimanalo Beach
  • Bellows Beach
  • Halona Blowhole/Beach Cove
  • Waikiki Beach
  • Hickam Beach


Chief's Luau at Sea Life Park

  • Cinnamons
  • Island Snow shaved ice
  • Haleiwa Joes
  • Schnooners
  • Pinky’s Pupus Bar & Grill
  • Kona Brewing Company
  • Bubbies
  • Maui Tacos
  • Champa Thai
  • Shrimp trucks (North Shore)
  • Chief’s luau at Sea Life Park
  • Sam Choy’s Island Style Seafood Grill


  • Pearl Harbor – Arizona Memorial
  • Pearl Harbor – Museum & Bowfin Tour
  • Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
  • Summer Palace
  • King Kamehameha Statue
  • Waikiki Downtown
Byodo-In at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

Byodo-In at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

Been to Hawaii? I’d love to hear your recommendations. Leave them in the comments below!

Internet Orphans

Aug 13, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Social Media & Tech

I’m going to lead this post off with an assumption (dangerous, I know) that I’m not the only one who occasionally googles my name to see what comes up in the search results. I was doing that very thing this evening and was dismayed by the results. On pages 2 and 3 of the results, I found a string of Internet orphans – blogs and websites I’d abandoned (some which had been dormant since 2004).

A deeper dive into the results showed a total of four blogs that had been lost to time  (posts covered topics like fitness, my creative writing program at FSU and preparing for my wedding), as well as a poetry site I’d set up during my senior year in high school (there were some embarrassing gems on that site, let me tell you). The evening’s scavenger hunt yielded an important lesson and reminder, that just like the real world, it’s a good idea to do a thorough scrub of your online presence every once in awhile.

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I’ve been a ravenous consumer of online content since the ripe old age of thirteen (bringing us back to 1998 if you’re keeping score), which has given me more time than I care to think about to grow my digital footprint. Couple that time spent online with the natural pull I felt to social applications on the Internet, and that leaves an impressive wake of old data lying around the interwebs for anyone to find.

So what did I do with the Internet orphans who’d found their way into my search results? I welcomed them back home, which ended up being no easy feat. Each of the blogs that I’d created were keyed to a different email address with passwords long forgotten. Though it took me awhile to crack my past self, I eventually came up with the passwords for each of the sites, and promptly archived old posts to my computer for safekeeping. From there, the blogs were deleted one by one.

The poetry site I stumbled across ended up being a tougher nut to crack. As I mentioned, my profile/site within the site was created back in 2002, and the email and corresponding password used to set them up were no longer in existence. Couple that with the fact that this site was built before “recover your password” prompts, and I was in a serious pickle. After ten minutes of fruitless password combinations, I blanked my mind in an attempt to let the old password float to the top of my thoughts. I’m happy to report that my jedi mind trick worked, and I was able to remember the old code. After backing up 51 poems (most of which I fervently hope never resurface), I promptly deleted my profile.

The whole experience tonight actually ended up reminding me of an article I read back in 2011 about protecting your digital afterlife. While it sounds a little macabre, your online presence could very well outlive your corporeal existence (sometimes to you or your family’s detriment) unless you take steps to be a better steward of your digital self and assets. Thankfully in my case, it just ended up being an interesting (and occasionally embarrassing) trip down memory lane.

Have I inspired you to do your own digital excavation? I’d love to hear about what you uncover!

Independence Day on Kingsley Lake

Jul 5, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life


Every Fourth of July, Chris and I join his family at their lake house on Kingsley Lake, a tradition that I look forward to every year.


It’s a chance to disconnect (mostly) and enjoy the beauty of the lake – the sound of the water against the house (situated literally on the lake), the feel of the sun on the dock, and the cool, calm water after the heat has driven us from sunning on the dock.


It’s also a chance to reconnect with family and friends that we don’t get to see as often – some family from Thomasville, friends from Starke and more family from Gainesville.


This year, in addition to our  traditions of grilling out, swimming and taking the boat out, we came armed with fireworks, and joined the dozens of families around the lake setting off sparklers, roman candles, and fireworks into the intermittently stormy skies. It was a BLAST! (Pun intended.)

IMG_6373(Resize)Would love to hear what traditions your family has for the 4th. Feel free to share them in the comments below!

31 Letters in 31 Days

Jun 25, 2013 by     2 Comments    Posted under: 31 Letters in 31 Days


For our anniversary this year, Chris gifted me a subscription to a monthly service called My Olive Box. Despite my daytime dealings as a social media director, I have a deep-rooted love for papercrafts – so the subscription is akin to getting a surprise present each month full of my favorite things. (Isn’t my hubs the BEST?!) The items in the box vary – sometimes you get cards or books, other times it’s artwork or gift wrap – but each one is crafted according to a surprise theme and delivers a delightful mid-month treat.

In May, the box included a book, Snail Mail My Email, which has inspired me to renew my own personal correspondence, hence the purpose of this post. During the month of July, I’ve set a personal goal to send 31 letters in 31 days. Now obviously, given holidays and weekends, my mail-sending won’t line up perfectly with sending one letter per day, but I will be sharing one letter a day on my blog and social channels. (Please forgive the irony.)

The letters will vary from handmade to letterpress and from postcard to packages. Brainstorming all the notes and their recipients has been a blast, and I can’t wait to get to work on my first batch.  The fun kicks off next Monday on the blog, so stay tuned!

100 Days Til We Say “HI” to Hawaii

Jun 20, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

Image Credit: Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau

It’s official! In 100 Days, Chris and I will be hopping on a plane and heading to Hawaii! It’s a trip that we’ve been trying to plan for quite some time – since one of my besties, Emily, moved there with her husband (he’s a captain in the Marine Corps).

Now that we’ve secured our plane tickets, our next steps are to spend some time ironing out the details of all the things we want to do while we’re there. At the top of my list are hiking, snorkeling and paddle boarding. I’m also hoping to capture some photos of rainbows (Em’s been sharing photos of her drive into work – and she’s got what seems like dozens of photos of rainbows).

We’ll be staying on Oahu, and I’ll slowly accumulating a list of things I want to see. So far on my list, I have the North Shore (because I love the movie), Waikiki Bay (surf lessons & swimming), Leahi (aka “Diamond Head” for its views), Hanauma Bay (the best snorkeling on the island), and Waimea (it’s a legendary surf spot).

As I do a little more research on the things there are to see and do, I’ll be updating my list. Stay tuned!

Pupdate: Hiking the Willie Browne Trail

Feb 10, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

Chris and I decided to enjoy the wonderful weather this afternoon by taking the puppies on a hike. We normally trek out to the beach or hit a regional park, but today’s we decided to head out toward Fort Caroline to find an old favorite of mine that I used to hike during my childhood – the Willie Browne trail.

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It took a little bit of patience, as the Fort Caroline area looks a little different after fifteen years – but we eventually found the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt area of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, and from there, finding the Willie Browne trail head was easy. Once Jackie and Aries realized we weren’t going to the vet, it’s was pretty difficult to contain their excitement as we unloaded them from the car.

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The views we had on the trail today didn’t disappoint – the sun was shining, the wind was gentle and the pups were appreciative of the chance to romp and stretch their legs.

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Aries couldn’t decide what excited her most about the trail – the smells, the people or all the creatures that kept out of sight, but made soft rustlings through the underbrush.

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When we hit a break in the tree line, Jackie ran out with me onto the salt marshes, not realizing in her exuberance that low tide meant that the “ground” was really soft mud. She was halfway across one of the flats, when she sunk in deeper than she wanted to and made a mad scramble to get back to packed earth. It was ridiculously awkward and adorable.

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One of the coolest parts of the Willie Browne trail (in addition to the diversity of the landscape and the historic foundations of Willie Browne’s cabin and his family cemetery) is the observation deck the looks out over the salt marshes. It ended up being a great place to take a break, grab some water and just take in the natural beauty that north Florida has to offer.

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All said and done, we wandered about 2.5 miles (or roughly an hour) through the trails – and the puppies were pooped by the time we made it back to the car. Chris and I are planning another trip soon, just the two of us, so we can make it through the connecting trail that crosses over the Spanish Pond and Fort Caroline. Definitely couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Have any hiking spots in North Florida you’d recommend us checking out for our next outdoor adventure? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Twelve Favorite Moments from 2012

Dec 31, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

2012 was a pretty amazing year, so I’ve captured twelve of my favorite moments to share with you all. Because each of these could probably be a blog post in and of themselves (and some are), I’ll keep it simple with a list and pictures.

If you make it through all the photos (sometimes it was hard to settle on just one), I’d love to hear what you loved most about 2012 in the comments! ^_^

1. Atlanta Vacation with Chris: Early in 2012, Chris and I decided to do a little exploring in Atlanta, and used the City Pass to check out the Atlanta Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Factory along with some sights off the beaten path like Stone Mountain. We also took advantage of our proximity to my Aunt Susan and my cousins and spent some time with them too!

Atlanta Vacation with Chris

2. Being a Foster Mom for Katniss & Sandy: So it seems every year that I end up fostering at least one lost soul, and this year was no exception. When my coworker Tim rescued a little kitten (later dubbed “Sandy”) by the side of the road, I nursed her back to health and then his sister adopted her. Later this year, while Chris and I were out jogging, we came across another poor stray, helped her get back on her feet, and then my aunt fell in love with her and brought her home.

Being a Foster Mom for Katniss & Sandy

3. Father’s Day in Savannah: To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we took dad up to Savannah for a day trip. After brunch at the Pirate’s House, and checking out one of the walking Civil War tours, we explored on our own. Hard to believe that this year was the first time I’d ever made it up to Savannah. It’s an amazing town!

Father's Day in Savannah

4. Director of Social Media: In 2011, I became a Daltonite and never looked back! 2012 proved to be another exciting year, and I was honored to be named the Director of Social Media in August.

Director of Social Media

5. Sean & Bianca are expecting! I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was so excited I was brought to tears when Sean called to tell me the news. I’m going to be an aunt in 2013!!!

Sean & Bianca Are Expecting!

6. AAF Jax Board Retreat: I’ve met some INCREDIBLE people this year through the American Advertising Federation, and one of my favorite moments with them was when we were planning the 2012-2013 year during our board retreat. Kayaking, a low country boil, and a meeting of the minds with some of the best folks in the advertising/marketing field that Jacksonville has to offer!

AAF Jax Board Retreat

7. Girls’ Weekend in Savannah: In September, my friends Katie and Steph, road tripped with me to Savannah. While there, we put together a list of things we’d like to tackle in the new year, starting with a craft night. Details on what we make, when it happens!

Girls' Weekend in Savannah

8. Uncle David Comes to Visit: I don’t get a chance to see my Uncle David very often, so when he came down to Jacksonville for a week, it was great to take advantage of the opportunity to get caught up. Uncle David Comes to Visit

9. Meeting Ryan Penagos: If you’re not a comic book geek or Marvel fan, you may have no idea who I’m talking about…but if you’re someone who does meet the previous qualifications, you’ll recognize Ryan as the Agent M!!! He spoke at one of AAF Jacksonville’s programs this fall, and some of the board (as well as a couple of Daltonites) got a chance to have dinner with him beforehand. So AWESOME!

Meeting Agent M

10. New York City Trip: Had a great in New York City with my Mom. We explored Central Park, the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library, caught BIGBANG’s concert in New Jersey, hung out at the Top of the Rock and several museums. It was a blast!

New York City Trip


11. Dalton Agency Holiday Party: This year I was part of the holiday planning committee and had a blast! The theme this year was to dress up as anything or anyone that starts with, “D.” I went as a Dalek and Chris went as Doctor Who. (We’re a match made in heaven!)

Dalek Party

12. Seattle Trip: Highlights included Snoqualmie Falls, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, hanging out with family, exploring Anacortes Island and the Seattle Aquarium.

Seattle Trip

Giving Thanks

Nov 22, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

In keeping with the theme of the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought I’d share a short list of some of the things I’ve been especially grateful for this year.

      1. My husband. So I’m sure many of you might write this one off as a given, but I think that our relationships with our loved ones are often some of the more obvious and thus overlooked blessings we have. One of the things that I’ve really come to appreciate about my relationship with the Chris is the fact that he encourages me to embrace my inner child. As a self-diagnosed workaholic, I’m often absorbed in my projects of the moment. Thankfully, I have a friend and partner who understands my special brand of OCD, supports my neuroses, but also finds playful ways to level the playing field on that elusive state known as work/life balance.
      2. My siblings. 2012 has been a VERY exciting year filled with special milestones for each of my siblings.  Rhiannon turned 16, can drive and started her first job (at Moe’s Southwest Grill, in case you were wondering). David turned 21 (hooray beer!), is enjoying college life and has a better idea of what he’d like to do with the rest of his life. Sean has probably the most exciting news of all – he and Bianca are expecting! He’ll be the first of us to have a little one.  Current anticipated due date is late March/early April. I CAN’T WAIT to be an aunt!
      3. My job & my coworkers. Remember how I mentioned I’m a workaholic? That’s only the case because I happen to LOVE what I do. I’ve been with the Dalton Agency for nearly two years, and the time has flown by incredibly fast. (Our agency mantra, “Work Hard. Play Hard.” isn’t just lip service.) Our social media department has grown tremendously this year, and I feel blessed by the fact that I’m surrounding by such a talented team.
      4. New friends. This year, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people on the board of the Jacksonville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation. We’ve had some pretty incredible adventures this year. In addition to our monthly meetings, we’ve traveled to district conferences, gone kayaking, enjoyed a low country boil, participated in the Color Me Rad 5K, celebrated house warmings, socials and more. What started out as an opportunity to network with like-minded professionals has really blossomed into priceless friendships with passionate, creative people that I have the privilege of calling my friends.
      5. Good stories. As a child, someone told me that the only things that really change a person from year-to-year are the people they meet and the books they read. For some reason, that statement has always resonated with me, perhaps because those are probably my two favorite things in life – meeting new people and discovering new stories. While I love to read, I have to expand that statement to include compelling story lines in general in order to encompass my other passions: movies, music, comics, manga, anime and video games. ^_^ There’s nothing quite like the relationship between a storyteller and their audience; that meeting of minds, where imaginations collide.

What are some of the things you’re especially grateful for this year?


Keystone: The Adventure Begins

Apr 3, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Slice of Life

Chris, Rhiannon, Mom and I woke up around 6 a.m. for our departure from Jacksonville to Denver this morning. Before boarding the plane for Charlotte (the first leg of our journey), we spotted a rather odd advertisement in the window at the airport. Still haven’t figured out what the gigantic, headless woman was trying to sell me.

Chris and I have never ridden in first class before, so it was a real treat to have ample leg room and personal space. Armed with snacks and drinks aplenty, Chris dug into the second book of the Sparhawk (Elenium) Trilogy and I began writing in the pages of a new journal.

We had a three hour layover in Charlotte, which resulted in a trip to Starbucks (Skinny vanilla latte, anyone?) and lunch at a place called Salsaritas, a Moe’s Southwest Grill-esque restaurant in the main concourse.

As we were boarding the flight from Charlotte to Denver, I sat back and observed my fellow passengers. The last man to board was a pretty harried looking individual who seemed hell bent on picking a fight with the flight attendants. From what I overheard, it sounded as though he’d had to go through security four times before he was finally allowed through and he was terrified he’d miss the flight. The flight was pretty important from the sounds of it because he was going to visit his dad in the hospital (he’d had a heart attack late last night).

I got restless about an hour and a half from our destination, so Rhiannon and I passed the time staring at the crop circles and mountains we could see from our windows. When the plane touched down, the excitement of being near our final destination was palpable (or maybe we were all just really excited to be allowed to get up and move around again). ^_^

From the Denver airport, it’s about an hour and a half shuttle ride to Keystone. We were fortunate to have a pretty interesting crew aboard the bus with us. One of the passengers was a starter for the different ski & snowboarding events and was on her way to Copper Mountain for the U.S. Nationals. One of the men on board was on his way to support his 15 year old son who was competing in the snowboarding half pipe competition at said nationals.

When we finally arrived at Montezuma condos, our home away from home for the next week, we were delighted by all the amenities, the décor and promise of a jacuzzi & sauna next door. After unpacking our gear, we headed over to Bighorn Steak House (located in the Keystone Lodge) for a fabulous dinner. Rhiannon and I ended up with the “Tenderfoot” Prime Rib (to die for), Chris had a New York Strip and Mom ended up having lamb loin. The food was AMAZING!

After that, we headed back to the condo to get some shut-eye before hitting the slopes.