November: Another year for the books

I turned 27 this month. Despite my dislike for odd numbers, I am excited about 27. Last year was so good to me, probably the best year of my 20s so far since graduating. I moved on from toxic places and people and feel lighter. There was a lot more joy, creativity, and mental stability for which I’m grateful. I learned more about myself and have slowly started reprogramming some old thought processes that have been holding me back. I achieved some major goals and have had some life-defining experiences like living on my own and going on an incredible solo trip.

While the year wasn’t all sunshine and daisies, it was enriching and I appreciate the good and the bad. I like to think that every year I become more of who I’m capable of being and fall a little more in love with this life I’m living. This year I will, in no particular order,:

  • FINISH (!!!!!) paying off my student loans. Epic celebration to ensue.
  • Find a doctor and a dentist and actually schedule checkups
  • Research what it takes to buy and rent out half of a duplex property
  • Start saving for a down payment on said duplex
  • Continue playing with food. I’ve just begun making my own sourdough starter.
  • Pursue more freelance work in the interest of becoming more self-sufficient
  • Dabble in creative pursuits as they strike my interest
  • Go on another road trip???
  • Learn to change a tire and do an oil change
  • Read more, write more, dance more
  • Explore love, life, and remain open to the magic

Cheers to a new year full of potential and possibilities. See you on the other side.


I’m delinquent in getting my October post up, but man! It’s like I blinked and October was over. Time is flying.

I’ve had this vision for a photography series for a few months and October was the month that I kicked it off. I didn’t get as far along as I would have liked due to uncooperative weather conditions, limited daylight hours and general laziness, but it’s the start of what will hopefully turn into a collection. I like the idea of over the top/vintage inspired outfits in dreary, even rundown settings. I sourced the vintage top hat from Etsy and the ginormous poofy skirt from Ebay. I guess even as an adult I like to play dress up. Go figure.

I have a list of shots I’d like to take that I’ll work on creating as time and circumstance allows. Here are a couple shots from the first go round.

September: Lemon Yellow Da Vintage

I know, I know, I’m late. (Barely)

Where the heck did September go?! We just kissed the summer goodbye and POOF! in rushed fall. And so begins the season of my denial where summer can’t in fact be over just like that and it will last until June comes ’round again to warm up my hands. Hmph.

I mean, fall is cool, too, I guess. Apple season…apple pie season…apple cider donut season…what’s not to love? I’m pretty firmly anti-pumpkin, but I’ll drink my weight in hot apple cider if you want me to, just don’t forget the dash of cinnamon! And I’m not above going out of my way to step on the crunchy leaves or fling myself bodily into a massive leaf pile. No, you grow up.

Anyway. September. The title of my blog post will only mean anything to those of you who were also devoted fans of the gem of a children’s show, Arthur. A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K.

But, I digress.

Lemon Yellow Da Vintage=Leonardo Da Vinci, the focus of this month’s curiosity.

The ultimate renaissance man. Carelessly brilliant. Passionately curious.

While I’m not burdened by genius, I can wholeheartedly relate to Leo’s tendency to experiment and then bail, leaving things seemingly unfinished, choosing instead to take what’s been gained and tie it into something else, building on it, or following a new tangent entirely. It’s a character trait that often drives me mad, but what I’ve been coming to terms with this year is that I think it’s what lends me my creativity and much of my joy in life.

Reading about Leo reinforces to me that I may not just be a flighty individual (although, still could be), but that this is how I’m meant to learn and grow and experience all that I can in this life, and that’s pretty cool. I was initially going to write, “I probably won’t contribute a Mona Lisa or Vitruvian Man to the world”, but you know what? Those things really only gained fame centuries after dear old Leo left this earth. So the hell with it! I’m not looking for fame, I’m only looking for answers. Who knows what will come of my life? All I know is that following my curiosities will be remarkable for me and that’s enough.

I haven’t committed to a focus for October yet, but I have a few ideas. I guess you’ll have to check back in at the end of the month to find out.

Turning the page on August

August has been one for the books. Literally. I reacquainted myself with the public library, two actually, and indulged myself in an eclectic mix. Books are good for the soul, man. I have to try a little harder to lose myself in the pages than I used to, but it is ever so worth it. I noticed an uptick in my creativity this month and I have a hunch it’s directly correlated to a little less screen time and a lot more page turning.

I started the month with Alice in Wonderland because it seemed like a hole in my childhood reading given the story’s popularity. I did not particularly enjoy it. I certainly wouldn’t bother reading it again. I think having known just the essence of the story prior was more than enough, and actually more favorable in this case. Like many classics, I think Alice in Wonderland suffered as I got deeper into the details. There were two sections that made me laugh out loud, but it was not enough to redeem the story for me. I was a little surprised because I tend to favor magic and the ridiculous.

On a similar thought tangent of childhood reading, I picked up James and the Giant Peach. I have always adored Roald Dahl, but never read this book. I loved it! It’s quite an exciting and grand adventure and a marvelously quick read. The illustrations add a bit of magic to it as well. Matilda and The BFG were two of my favorite books growing up, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.

On a whim, I checked out Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was looking for a particular biography and the book caught my eye because I’ve heard the title referenced before, but didn’t know anything about it. It is a slow read because there’s a lot to digest and contemplate. I’m maybe a third of the way through and I’m not sure I’m going to finish it right now. It’s good, but I’ve been distracted by other books.

I picked up Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris after reading a recommendation for one of his other books by Austin Kleon (author of Steal like an Artist). I really enjoyed it. He is a master essayist; a blend of funny, poignant, uncomfortable, and ultimately relatable stories. I will probably look to see if the library has more of his books.

A couple weeks ago on a casual scroll through Instagram, a caption caught my eye. A blogger I follow mentioned she was reading a book with her daughter called the Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. I was intrigued by the title so after a brief Amazon search to learn more about it, my interest was piqued. I checked out every book the library had by her; Wolf Wilder, Rooftoppers, and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms. The books are excellent, although I feel like categorizing them as children’s books is a bit misleading. The plot lines are fairly intense and occasionally disturbing, even as an adult, but they are beautifully written and wildly imaginative. Highly, highly recommend.

It’s interesting for me to see that my unintentional themes for the month were imagination/mischief/magic and philosophy. Not altogether surprising, but interesting.

And just like that it’s September! Arguably my favorite month of the year. Even though I’ve been out of school for over five years it still feels like a time for starting anew and hunkering down with projects. I’m coming up on my one year anniversary in Syracuse and in my job. The year flew by and so much has happened since last September. I’m curious to see what happens next. For this next month, I believe I will focus on Leonardo Da Vinci. He seems a fitting muse. (And it’s really just an excuse to continue reading :))

July: A lens of uncertainty

I started dabbling in the blog world over five years ago and with that came an evolving curiosity with photography. I just went back to my first blog, and while it’s absolutely cringe-worthy to look back on, it’s pretty cool to see how much my photography has improved over time with experimentation. I have what I consider a lazy interest in photography. In the age of the smartphone and the proliferation of dslr cameras, most millennials fancy themselves as at least decent photo-takers. I don’t have the passion or drive to relentlessly pursue photography, but I appreciate good imagery and find it rewarding when I can successfully create an image I only first imagined. While I no longer blog regularly, I still have the itch to take staged fashion focused photos, the occasional epic landscape shot, and general everyday nonsense that seems worth sharing on Instagram. I’m not proud, but the addiction is real.

As with any pursuit, knowledge is power. One of my coworkers lent me the National Geographic Complete Photography book which delves into the art and science of photography so I spent the month of July reading up on how cameras and lenses function with the intent of spending some time getting more comfortable with the manual settings on my camera. I didn’t spend as much time taking photos as I would have liked, but this is a journey not a sprint. I expect that I’ll probably mess with photography on and off for the rest of my life.

My favorite photos typically have people in them and if the backdrop is of an epic locale, so much the better. For experimentation purposes I like taking photos of myself, but it’s challenging to achieve certain angles when you’re going back and forth between a tripod and being the subject. Not to mention, if I have any kind of audience I become wildly uncomfortable and horrendously awkward. I’m working on getting better at posing, but it’s definitely a challenge.

I have several photo shoot ideas that I’d like to carry out with friends and likely will. For one, I’d like us each to thrift really over the top poofy, potentially vintage formal dresses and shoot photos in a field or maybe the woods. Similarly, I was inspired driving through a rundown rural section of the state with a bunch of dilapidated barns and houses and I think they would make a sick backdrop for an over-the-top formal photo shoot…kind of a fairy tale gone to hell kind of vibe.

I’ve slowly been gaining confidence and new skills with Photoshop, primarily to meet requests I get at work. It’s such a powerful tool, I don’t think I’ll ever have mastery of it, but it is so cool to play with especially when it comes to distorting or layering images. And fortunately we live in a time where people are apt to share their knowledge with free tutorials so it’s easy to keep learning.

I haven’t officially decided my topic for August, but I’m leaning towards making a conscious effort to read more. I used to be a total bookworm, but I’ve let the internet and Instagram rot my brain. I’m unofficially committing to reading Alice in Wonderland and James and the Giant Peach because I feel like they’re books I should have read as a kid and never did. I think I’ll swing by the library this week and see what I can find. Any book recommendations? Drop me a comment. I’m open to anything but horror.

June got bugged

I’ll admit it, I went rogue this month. I had a cold for most of the first two weeks of June (who knew that was a thing?!) and couldn’t psyche myself up to drop money on perfume making supplies so I’m postponing that experiment for now. I didn’t focus on any one thing this month, but there are a handful of new(ish) things I’ve been messing around with.

For one, I’m teaching myself how to skateboard in empty parking lots, feeling like a true hoodlum, and having an absolute blast. I would like to reach a point where I’m confident enough riding around that I might be able to brave the skate park eventually and hoodwink some kid into teaching the weird adultish person some tricks. But first I need to acquire a helmet…and spend more time on my board.

I’ve had more freelance work this month. I just finished editing someone’s book and updating someone’s website. I’d like to keep the freelance train rolling with more marketing and design work. I’m getting so close to paying off my student loans–probably less than a year to go–and I’d like to accelerate the process.

I’m subscribed to Austin Kleon’s email newsletter. He’s the author of “Steal like an artist” and other cool books you’ve probably heard of. In one of his most recent newsletters he linked to an article, “Six Books We Could and Should All Write.” One of these books is an anthology of favorites. I loved that idea so much that I’ve begun construction of my very own book of favorites, full of words that speak to me and pictures that light up my soul. It’s such a fun process. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

So, June was kind of all over the place, but that’s life, yea? July is sponsored, unknowingly, by one of my work friends who just lent me a book about photography. I’m going to spend some focused time messing around with my camera. Cheers to summer, friends!




May: Where the wild things are

May. What a trip. Literally. May was my month for solo travel! After booking my flights a few months ago, and a panic-stricken phone call immediately after to my older brother, I haven’t looked back. Thank you, Nicky, for talking me into staying committed to what I was mostly sure I could handle. People travel by themselves all the time. Why not me? This was one of my goals for the year.

So, I got myself to California in the nick of time to see one of my best friends before she actually moved back to Buffalo and then took myself on out to Utah for a roadtrip I’ve been wanting to take for the last two years. I managed four flights, three ubers, two hotels, a rental car, and 90-degree desert hikes all on my own without getting eaten, attacked, killed, or kidnapped. Huzzah!

Honestly, for having only a rough outline of what I wanted to do, the trip was wildly successful. So, for anyone else who can’t be bothered with the details of planning things, take note; it’s still possible to have a fanfreakingtastic time and figure things out as you go. It’s an adventure after all. Would definitely travel by myself again, especially for a road trip. Traveling alone is like traveling with just a carry on and when you do both at the same time, it makes for a blissful, weightless kind of travel making it easier to move freely about the country. Hundred percent believe that flying alone is relaxing and having just a carry on bag is the absolute best way to travel. Airports are a breeze when all you have is a backpack!

Here’s what I did:

My flight was delayed. Twice. Not a big deal, but I was ready for the real adventure to begin. Ended up departing from Buffalo a bit after 9pm and had a direct flight to LAX on JetBlue. Every takeoff on this trip overwhelmed me with this sense of accomplishment and excitement that I chose to go, to make this adventure happen. It’s so exciting to know you’re going somewhere and anything can happen. Shoutout to JetBlue for having great snacks. I had mini moustache-shaped chocolate chip cookies and terra chips, the latter of which I liked so much I bought them as one of my road trip snacks! I had one other guy sitting in my row. Looked like he might be a professor as he was trying to grade some papers before takeoff. We didn’t chat, but both dozed on and off and I had the misfortune of seeing the majority of his butt crack hanging out at one point. So glam!

I time traveled and arrived at LAX around 11pm to AMANDAPANDA who was kind enough to pick me up from the airport. We had planned on going out that night, but because my flight was delayed it would have been too crazy to get into anywhere. Instead we stayed up late catching up which I think helped me avoid jetlag so it worked out well.

We woke up pretty early and were ready and out the door by 8:30. We went straight to Venice Beach where we walked the canal area and then the boardwalk. We were mesmerized by the skateboarders for awhile and then we laid out on the beach where, despite my best efforts, I proceeded to burn pretty spectacularly on parts of my body I managed to miss hitting with sunscreen like the top of my hands and feet, ears, neck, and inside creases of my arms. *facepalm* Let the record show, I really did try to be smart about the sun since I basically went from winter to summer over night, but c’est la vie.

We grabbed a delicious and fairly healthy lunch from a place called Lemonade and brought it back to the beach. I had a deconstructed avocado toast salad bowl and a blueberry mint lemonade. Yum! We stayed on the beach until 2:30 or so then went and got changed and hit up a cool outdoor bar in Santa Monica called the Bungalow for margaritas. We chatted with two interesting guys who moved to LA from Memphis, a clothing designer and an accountant. It seems like everyone in LA is from somewhere else which makes for a fun mix of people.

After that we walked down to the Santa Monica pier where we both fell in love with a drummer only to find out he’s married. Oh well ;) On our drive back to get dinner I ended up striking up a conversation with a trio of dudes in the car next to us at a stoplight who tried to make plans with us. We passed on that, obviously, and proceeded to hit up In-n-Out Burger because it seemed like a quintessential California thing to do. I couldn’t believe how good and how cheap it was!

We went back to the beach for sunset which is when I realized my feet were really freaking sunburned and then got ice cream from Salt+Straw. Oh. My. Word. Warm homemade waffle cone. Handcrafted salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

We went back and chilled out for a bit before hitting the hay. Probably the best single day one could have in California. It was righteous, even with the sunburn. I lucked out since Amanda knew all the places to go and was willing to take me around and hang out. I had the best time!

Monday was largely a travel day. I ubered from Amanda’s apartment to the airport. Had a really cool driver, an Armenian from Iran, and we talked about work, life goals, and people. The flight from LAX to Salt Lake City was just over an hour. I couldn’t stop looking out the window! It was stunning. I ubered from SLC to pick-up my rental car at Enterprise, a white hyundai accent (I think). From there I stopped at Smith’s supermarket for snacks and gas, then went to find Sweet Tooth Fairy bakery to try their cookies (kind of meh. The lemon sugar cookie was the best of the three I bought.) and happened upon a place called the Pizza Studio next door which seemed like a good place to get my first real meal of the day (and I was right!). I had a truffled mushroom pizza with bacon on a rosemary crust and it was big enough to also become breakfast the next day. Victory.

I wasn’t paying attention to the time and I managed to get on the road during rush hour traffic which was no joke for the first hour of my drive, but the further along I got the more the roads opened up and so did my eyes. It was one of the more scenic drives of my life and a sheer delight racing to make my 10pm check in time. The 80mph speed limit helped me make up some lost time. I pulled into Blue Mountain Horse Head Inn in Monticello a little after 9:30pm and went to bed shortly after.

Woke up early. Skipped the shower because #sunburn. Packed some snacks and hit the road for Arches National Park which was about an hour from where I was staying. It was stunning. Obviously. And hot. By 8am it was already creeping towards 80 degrees. I got a map upon entering the park, but mostly ignored it. The main road is pretty well marked with the sites, although I will say I was kind of bummed that I exerted the energy to hike the lower viewing trail of the Delicate Arch because it would have been cooler to see it up close and after hiking for a few hours and a dwindling water supply I just couldn’t get excited about navigating to the top, too. I stopped at Canyonlands National Park briefly on my way back to the hotel. Only stayed for about an hour and didn’t get too far past the entrance, but what I saw was gorgeous. If I ever make it back to Utah I’ll have to spend more time there. I had purchased a national park pass before my trip so I could come and go through the parks at will without worrying about wasting money which came in handy a couple days later.

I headed into Moab and stopped at Lion’s Park to take a few photos then walked through town. I got an excellent smoothie from Peace Tree Juice Cafe, purchased a hat and more sunscreen to prevent further burning during the week, and then happened upon a hoppin’ gourmet quesadilla food truck that was screaming my name. I got something called the New Mexico Identity Crisis which had green chili chicken, olives, cheese, and artichoke hearts. So freakin’ good. After, I drove back to my motel to shower and call it an early night.

Oh. My. Goodness. Wednesday was the peak of my trip. I had the most scenic drive of my life! I thought Iceland was spectacular, and it is, but Utah is simply…more. Absolutely staggering. I wish I could have made the drive with a GoPro strapped to my head because maybe it would have captured some of the wild beauty that is the southern half of Utah. I can’t tell you how many bends I turned around to have my jaw drop or how many times I had to pull over to try to capture some of the landscape, but the photos don’t do it justice. I’m lucky I didn’t crash my car into the side of a cliff. I would love to go back to camp at various spots along this road. There is something about land that has been largely untouched by man that speaks to my soul. Wild, untamed, indescribably beautiful and the only sign of civilization for miles and miles is the road that carves through the otherworldly rock. So thankful for the people that created the road. The parks are wonderful, but the best things I saw were along the scenic byways. My cell reception was spotty, as it should be in such majestic places, but sitting across from Factory Butte on Highway 24 I was so overcome by the dusty, mirage-like perfection in front of me that I had to call my momma to share the experience I was having.┬áThis drive may become a sort of pilgrimage for me.

I arrived in Panguitch a little after 3pm and checked into the Purple Sage Motel. After dropping off my gear, I headed straight for Bryce Canyon National Park about 25 minutes away. Good grief! I was almost going to skip this park and thank goodness I didn’t because it was the most staggering of the four I went to! It is UNREAL. The crimson-colored hoodoo rock formations are a sight to behold, especially during golden hour as the light starts to change. For not the first time during this trip, I wished that I could leap off the edge and become a part of the land…you know, in a non-suicidal way. Again, I was so stricken by the beauty in front of me that I had to phone a friend just to release some of the emotion I was feeling. After seeing as much as I could and taking a million pictures, I headed back into town to scavenge for food which ended up being pretty sketchy Chinese takeout. You can’t win em all.

The next day I headed to Zion National Park. I will admit to feeling defeated by Zion. I managed to drive through the entire park and accidentally leave the first time, so I stopped for a breakfast sandwich at Sol Foods in Springdale and then turned around to drive through Zion the opposite way, hoping for better success. Now, don’t get me wrong, driving through Zion is beautiful, but I had planned on doing more intensive hiking and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where any of the trails started except for one near where I entered the first time, even with a map! The park brochure conveniently labeled the different hikes by difficulty. Naturally, the only path I could find was labeled as a 6-hour strenuous hike. Feeling unprepared, I set off on a sandy trail with the intention to hike 1.5 hours out before turning around because I knew I didn’t have enough provisions with me to make a 6-hour hike in 90 degree heat at a higher elevation a smart decision.

The hike was a bit underwhelming in the sense that I think I could have gotten more bang for my buck on another trail. It was still beautiful, but not near any of the stunning red rocks that are further into the park, and let me tell you, hiking up a cliff on a sandy trail is a freakin’ work out. Thankfully I remembered to throw tissues in my bag because I got a nose bleed towards the top. There was about a 45 minute period where I didn’t cross paths with anyone traversing the summit. With the thinned out tree line and no one in site this was the only time during the trip that I started to get a little freaked out about being by myself. There are mountain lions and who know’s what else in the area and I couldn’t help but think I would make for fairly easy prey if someone or something was interested. With my imagination starting to get the best of me and with my eye on the time and my water supply, I turned around and headed back down. I escaped extraordinarily sweaty, but largely unharmed with the exception of some freaky water blisters that popped up on my neck and chest. I will spare you the picture.

Craving a slurpee from 7-Eleven, but without one nearby, I stopped at the first gas station I passed and settled for some Code Red Mountain Dew over ice. Revived, I headed back to town. I ordered a solid burger and great fries from Big Fish Family Restaurant, a local place in Panguitch (Panguitch is Native American for “big fish”), and had good conversation with the waitress while I waited. Everyone I interacted with on this trip, from locals to foreigners, was exceptionally kind. Cashiers particularly were almost surprisingly cheerful and chatty. I’m a fan.

I had booked a slot to go sky diving on the last day of my trip. Nephi Municipal Airport/Skydive the Wasatch was on my way back north to Salt Lake City and it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for years. Utah seemed like an exciting place to do it, plus I wanted to be the person that traveled solo AND did something extreme. Waiting for the nerves to set in, I hit the road around 9am to make it to my noon appointment, but the further I drove the more stoked I got. I was so freaking excited to go fall out of a plane I almost couldn’t take it. But the closer I got to my destination, the more I saw the sky darken with storm clouds. With a sense of foreboding, I pulled up to the office only to find that they had canceled my appointment due to inclement weather. They had left me a voicemail Thursday, but I didn’t get the notification because my cell reception was in and out. Yes, I’m glad they don’t dive in unsafe conditions, but I had stunning weather all week and was SO looking forward to the experience so it was a bit of a let down.

Supremely bummed and without any other plans for the day, I set off for Salt Lake City only to find myself in a monsoon shortly into the drive. The rain petered off by the time I parked somewhere under Creek City Center, an indoor-outdoor mall near Temple Square downtown. With a 40-degree drop in temperature from Zion the day before, I set off to explore. I didn’t feel like I was dressed appropriately to meander through the grounds of the grand Mormon Tabernacle, but I appreciated the surrounding gardens and snapped some photos from afar. I got lunch in the food court at the mall and walked in and out of a few shops before having to return my rental car. I had them drop me off at a Starbucks so I could regroup and make use of the WiFi. With a flight that wasn’t leaving until 11pm, I had time to kill. After a hot beverage and a couple hours of pouting and wasting time, I took myself off on a walk heading back towards Creek City Center. Grateful for only having a backpack to lug around, especially since I managed to get myself a bit lost, I did quite a bit of wandering around the city before finding a place to chill for a bit and charge my phone. Not in the mood for a full dinner, I opted for a huge soft pretzel. Seeking some kind of consolation I thought to Google if there were any bakeries in the area selling macarons. Given the late hour, I was surprised to find a bakery about a mile away that was still open and carried the precious cookies. After debating with myself for 20 minutes if it was worth the walk, I said YOLO and went for it. Naturally when I got there they had sold out which I was expecting and not terribly disappointed by as it gave me something to do before heading to the airport. Battling the insanity that inevitably settles in wherever I travel, I briefly wondered if I could simply walk to the airport, but I wasn’t all that close so I ubered. I spent a pleasant 15-minute ride chatting about my travels and Disney with my driver. I can’t remember, but I think I tried to nap on the plane. After a brief layover in Boston, I made it back to Buffalo where my parents graciously picked me up from the airport.

If you actually made it this far, wow. You must like me or something, so thanks. You can see my trip wasn’t perfect. It was largely unplanned and I had some setbacks, but I would wholeheartedly qualify the trip as a resounding success. I wanted the adventure, you see? And I got it. I didn’t need or want everything to go perfectly. I was looking for discomfort and growth and new experiences. I wanted to find out more of what I’m capable of and now I know I can travel, quite happily, on my own. There are so many places I’d like to go, but I think I’ll go back to Utah some day and hopefully dive deeper into some of the parks. The greatest FOMO I’ve ever experienced is that of the trail I haven’t yet trekked and there’s a great wide world out there to explore. Thank goodness for it. For more pics, check out the Utah and LA pages under my Explore tab.

And with that, it’s just about June! Can ya believe it? It’s going to be difficult to top May in terms of life experience, but I am loving the structure that the year of the unicorn is giving me to intentionally keep learning. This month I think I’m going to try to make my own perfume.