Shaken

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All day today I have felt shaken. I simply cannot get the vision of Sunday night’s catastrophe out of my head…and yet I was not even there. Thankfully, I did not attend that concert. Thankfully, no one that I personally know was hurt. But tonight I lay in my bed thinking about the many thousands of people who lost someone dear to them unexpectedly on that night. I wonder how many people will cry themselves to sleep, grieving over the loss of their son or daughter, their husband or wife, their cousin or best friend. Nobody could have foreseen the events of that night that left us all in disbelief. Nobody can undo it. My heart breaks to know this.

As I studied today in a public place, I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety as I imagined how it would feel if suddenly I were challenged with the daunting task of running for my life amidst an avalanche of bullets. A feeling of panic overcame my entire body as I stewed in fear at the thought of its possibility. To think that at any moment one could be caught off guard and introduced to the stark contrast of life and death.

There is nothing in this world that will remedy the tragedy that occurred on Sunday in Las Vegas. But when tragedies of this sort happen, it is important that we do the only thing that we know how–look for the light.

There were many heroes that rose to the occasion when those bullets were fired. Incredible people jumped in front of bullets to save others they did not know. On that night, we saw the sinister act of one highly disturbed person. But in contrast, we also bore witness to the truly compassionate nature that resides within the very same species. We were reminded, albeit traumatically, of the extremely divergent conditions of the human mind. The devastation that can result from that of a deeply troubled mind, versus the heroic altruism that comes from the same network of neuronal connections.

We wonder what caused such a psychotic break. What compelled this man to follow-through with the deadliest recorded mass shooting in US history? The sickly part is that we may never know. We may never determine what caused him to snap. This shakes us even more.

But if we can learn anything from this tragedy, let it be this: spread kindness. 

We cannot know what people are going through behind the scenes. We cannot know how our interaction with a stranger might affect their decisions–and how those decisions might affect others. We cannot truly know even the people that we think we know. The best defense against this act of violence is just simply to spread kindness. It doesn’t take much, but it makes all the difference. Do something to make someone’s day. Start a chain reaction. Show the world what us humans are really made of.

#prayforvegas

xx allie

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FabFitFun Fall Box Spoiler!

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HAPPY FALL, OFFICIALLY!!

Hope your season started off beautifully.

There’s no blog post that can truly do the first day of Fall justice, but I figured what better way to kick off the season than with a FabFitFun Fall Box spoiler?!

So without further ado, let’s get started:

MerSea Scarf: Absolutely love this item. I expected it to be soft, but I had no idea it would be THIS soft! It’s a big scarf, with plenty of material to go around (and around and around and around). You can definitely tell it’s high-quality. I also love the color options. Depending on chance, you might receive the grey, pale pink, or teal color in your box. I received the teal and I couldn’t be happier, since my wardrobe could definitely use a bit of a color pop! Not a fan of scarfs? No worries, you can also use it as a bed runner! Retail Value: $98

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Private Party Gym Bag: I think this is my favorite item in the box. I was in need of a gym bag (so that I could carry my car keys, towel, change of shoes, workout clothes, water bottle, etc.), and this box answered my prayers! It’s a sizeable bag that will easily fit all of your gym items. It’s also very light-weight and flexible. All bags come with a super cute line on the front. So far I’ve seen “Gym & Juice”, “Will Work out for Cupcakes”, and “Meet me at the Barre”. Retail Value: $59

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TreStiQue Matte Color & Shiny Balm Lip Crayon: I’m always a fan of lip colors, so this item did not go unnoticed. The crayon is soft and hydrating to the lips, but also leaves a lasting shade. The lid is also magnetic, which is a nice touch. I received the lighter of the two colors, and I’m really happy with it. It is a color that I would typically use for an everyday work or school day. Retail Value: $28

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The JetSet Diaries Beanie: Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of hats…but if you like beanies this one is really cute! I received the black one, but I believe it also comes in a pale pink color. It’s light-weight and has a cute subtle fabric pattern. Retails for $49

 Heart Shaped Jewelry Holder: I would probably love this if I hadn’t just purchased one of my own. It’s really cute, and adds some cute deco to your bedroom. Minimalist design, with a place to put your rings on the bottom as well. Retails for $33—which is actually somewhat hard to believe.  

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My TagAlongs Hot & Cold Gel Pack: I am really happy with this product. It’s rare to find a gel pack that serves as both a hot and cold compress. I’ve already tried it out in my microwave, and it works like magic and holds its heat. Not to mention, it has really cute sayings on it. It’s small and slim and can easily be fit inside the gym bag! Retail Value: $15

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Whish Renewing Mud Mask: I LOVEEEEEE skincare products, so whenever they include these I’m psyched! This one only needs to be left on your skin for 2 minutes—so it’s super quick! It left my skin feeling soft and supple. Also is a decently sized bottle…so it will last for many a mask. Retails for $48

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Deco Miami Lavender Cuticle Oil: Not quite sure how well this oil works (as I’ve used it for 3 days in a row now and my cuticles seem about the same [as far as redness and dryness goes]). BUT (and this is a big but) I absolutely love the scent…and putting the oil on my nails before bed helps me relax and fall asleep to the lavender smell. Retail Value: $12.50

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Cottonelle Wipes Sample: This wipe sample is great because who doesn’t love to have wipes on hand! Throw them in your purse or put them in your glove compartment. 10 wipes come in the sample!

Molr Dental Club Organic Carbon + Coconut Teeth Whitening Powder and Toothbrush: A natural way to whiten your pearlys. It comes in a decent size container and will be good for SEVERAL uses. I like that they include a toothbrush, so that you don’t have to get your primary one dirty and charcoaly. The taste is almost non-existent and it’s an enjoyable enough teeth whitening experience. Only needs to stay on your teeth for literally 2 minutes! Retails for $43.95

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All in all, I really loved the fall box. It came with a lot of useful items, and was nicely themed for the season. Every time I get a new box, I always tell myself it’s the last one….but then I simply just cannot stop! FabFitFun is SO affordable and SO fun! I really feel like I’m getting a value. You can get all of this for $10 off using my code…so only $39.99!

CLICK HERE TO GET MY SPECIAL DISCOUNT: http://xo.fff.me/gv5Ap

xx allie

A Grateful Wednesday Morning…

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As I sip my regular hazelnut latte in a local Coffee Bean at nearly 10am on a Wednesday September morning, I couldn’t feel more in my element. It’s calm and quiet in here, aside from the background music that’s playing, and to my right is a fall-themed poster hanging on the wall, advertising their new pumpkin cold brew almond milk latte. This morning is calm and peaceful. There’s something magical about it, in fact. Today I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

For today, I’m not in a hospital. I’m not at a funeral. Today I’m not amidst a natural disaster. Today, I made it to the coffee shop without being pulled over or getting into an accident. I looked in the mirror this morning and saw nothing that was cause for concern. I woke up today in my bed, calmly and without being startled by a major earthquake. I used my credit card to purchase my coffee, and it didn’t get declined. Everybody that I know and care for, to my knowledge, is well and happy. Today is a beautiful day.

This morning I am living the life that I’ve been envisioning for a while. I am enrolled in grad school, working to become a professional mental health clinician. Week days can now be spent focused on the subjects that interest me, and capture my heart. Effort can now be expended in activities that will catapult me into the career that will complete me and fulfill my soul.

Sitting here in this coffee shop, about to endeavor on my readings for the week, is exactly where I want to be in this very moment. I could think of nowhere else that would empower me more. I am in my element, doing the very things that I’ve been wanting. I am where I need to be, to get to where I want to go. There is absolutely nothing more comforting than that feeling.

If you aren’t living your life in your element, I highly encourage working towards it. Absolutely nothing compares. Follow your dreams, and more importantly follow your heart. A waiter once told me, “if you follow your heart in life, then you’ll never be disappointed“. I remember when he said these words, I screenshotted them in my mind. I knew that there was validity to this statement. I knew that this guy was speaking from experience.

I think his statement was true for anything. For love, for education, for careers…for life. If you do nothing else worthy of noting, then do this one thing–follow your heart.

Happy Wednesday, blogees. Stay beautiful.

xx allie

 

Welcome Fall

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Alright, so I know that it isn’t “officially” fall yet, but I can’t help the fact that it sure does feel like it. And quite honestly, I couldn’t be more excited for the change of season. I always look forward to the start of fall, but when it actually arrives it ends up being SO much more satisfying than I even remembered.

Every morning that I wake up in the fall is a glorious one. Why? Because the lighting is different; there is a slightly orange filter that blankets the town making everything seem literally kissed by the sun. The wind feels different, and the leaves start to fall. There is no season, to me, more beautiful than that of fall. The beauty of the earth is just too powerful not to notice. It overwhelms my senses in the best of ways.

Starbucks has begun to serve their seasonal drinks again (hallelujah!). Pumpkin spiced lattes and salted caramel mochas, and I just can’t get enough. I spend too many hours per week inside a Starbucks establishment, and yet I don’t regret a minute of it (although admittedly, my bank account does). The taste of fall invigorates my taste buds, activating every pleasure center in my brain.

I woke up to a pumpkin on my kitchen table this morning, and immediately I felt energized by the realization that my favorite season is again here. Once the heat wave passes through, it will be time for scarves and boots, leggings and sweaters. It will be time for rainy nights, and hot cocoa. Thunderstorms and lightening skies.

There is something intimate about the fall. There is a peaceful undertone, that hums in the background of every day. There is a whisper of hope in the air. It is hard to describe the feeling of enlightenment that I get from experiencing the beauty of a fall day. It is a feeling unlike any other. I am awakened by it, and reminded of my extremely fortunate life. I am at harmony.

I challenge you to cherish every day of the season, and to be grateful for the life you live despite any trying circumstances you may be experiencing. If you are healthy and alive, revel in that. Seize the day, and make it count.

Happy Fall.

xx allie

 

 

 

 

Bad Days

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Humans are not infallible. That’s what makes us human. We have bad days. There are days that we wish we could quit. Forgo all of our responsibilities, retreat back to our bed, pull the covers over our heads and press “reset”. But life doesn’t work that way.

So instead, we do our best to pull through. To continue to do everything we planned on, despite the dull feeling in our chest and our sudden onset of demotivation. Despite the starkly opposing good moods we come across during our day, and our intense effort to tiptoe around them without causing harm.

On these days, antidepressants don’t seem to do the trick. The dosage hasn’t changed, but yet something seems off. You recall once again what it feels like to feel. What it feels like to hurt. These are the days that the medication ceases to matter, and we are put to the test. It can’t take away reality, or even diminish your experience of it. It just sits dormant in your system–as if every active particle running through your veins slows to a halt and descends to the bottom-most layer of your being. Maybe tomorrow they’ll pick back up again. Maybe.

But today, you go back to feeling. The pain a band aid makes after it’s been ripped off your supple flesh. Not the immediate sting, but the throb that follows it. The throb that withstands, until it finally diminishes to nothing but a memory. A memory you hope to never relive.

Depression is the ugliest monster I know. It lurks and taunts you from time to time, just to remind you that you are not infallible. That you are human. And while sometimes I loathe its existence, other times I take a moment to cherish the ability to feel so strongly. To relish the very assets that make me feel alive. Because good days cannot truly exist without the occasional bad day. Because the range of human emotion is what makes the experience of living so intimate and formidable. And because perhaps my appraisal of this experience means more holistically than the experience itself.

xx allie

Back to School

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So I survived my first week of grad school…but just barely.

I write to you today (on a Saturday night) because I am quarantining myself from the outside world, due to the illness that has befallen me. Slight fever, runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, and coughing. There is never a year in my life where I make it through the first week of school without catching something. I guess grad school is no different. So here I am.

 

First Impressions of MFT Grad School:

  • People seem to be a lot more friendly and open to discussion: Perhaps because my cohort is so small, and we all know that we are going to be very close over the course of the next two years. Students are eager to exchange names and get to know one another. In a weird way, I already almost feel like family to some of them.  I know that we will be having a lot of deep conversations in our classes, disclosing a lot of personal information and narratives. I am looking SO forward to intimately getting to know each and every one of my cohort members, digging deep into each others’ psyches and learning the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for them choosing this line of work. I was also surprised that my cohort is rather young. I expected that our ages would be scattered, with a substantial range between the youngest and oldest peer. Turns out we are all about the same age.
  • Professors really care: The professors I’ve met so far seem to REALLY care about getting through to their students. They are willing to bend over backwards to meet up with students after class to address and answer their questions. They encourage you to email them at any time if you are confused about anything. They ask a million (*dramatization*) times throughout class if we have any questions. They have spent a long time creating extremely detailed syllabi that preface the expectations of the class, assignments, grading scale, and rubrics. They are passionate about their subjects and work hard to teach the material in ways that are understandable and clear, providing a number of extremely good examples and  relevant class exercises. They seem to really want us to excel in the class and receive “A”s. I feel inspired by their enthusiasm and encouraged by their belief in us.
  • Challenging Exams: Long gone are the days of multiple choice exams. It never occurred to me before, but since our classes are so small (in some cases only 7 students), grading exams is nowhere near as daunting as it probably was when my classes were 800+ people. All exams are now composed of only short answer and essay questions. While I’m not super stoked about this, I guess it will provide our professors with an accurate idea of our knowledge and understanding on any given subject. Not sure yet if tests are ever curved. Crossing my fingers that they are.
  • Attendance: Mandatory. This one is a little more obvious. Unlike undergrad, you can’t just choose not to show up to grad school classes. Doing so would be doing yourself a colossal disservice. Every class is made up of a week’s worth of content. The professors also pass around an attendance list during class. They know who you are. And they know when you don’t show up. It’s hard not to notice in a class of only 7 people. Gone are the days of playing hooky.
  • Laptops: So far I’ve noticed that I’m one of the only people that doesn’t bring their laptop to class. I literally felt like Elle Woods with my little notepad and pen. Am I the only one that sees laptops as a distraction though? I know I’m slower at hand writing than typing, but I definitely digest the material better when I actually write out the words, rather than press buttons on a laptop. I never used my laptop to take notes as an undergrad, but since the professors move so quickly in class through the slides, I may have to make a change. Gone are the days of hand written notes…maybe.

Overall, I’m super excited to start grad school. I forgot how much I love learning, and the enthusiasm I have for doing the reading and taking my own personal notes at home. I really feel like I am in my element, and that grad school is the perfect place for me at this point in my life. I am excited for my future career and the many many people I will hopefully be able to help. There is no better feeling than following your dreams, and I highly suggest that if you have a goal…start working towards it! You would be amazed how invigorating it feels to be doing something important for yourself, and working towards becoming a better version of you. That’s it for this post. Signing off–

xx allie

 

10 Stress-Relief Tips

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We know stress as the enemy. Not only does it feel terrible, but it is also associated with a lot of negative health implications (both short-term and long-term).  Nevertheless, although it is an uncomfortable experience, it serves an important biological purpose. Stress presents itself when a challenge has been posed, and it helps to rise us to the occasion and harness our ability to take on the stressor head-on. So although it can be a pain the in butt in many ways, the experience of stress is probably not going away any time soon. So then what do we do? We learn how to cope with the stress we experience in healthy ways.

Here are 10 tips that have been helpful to me in minimizing my experience of stress and transitioning out of it:

  1. Take 5 Minutes to Stretch—The experience of stress causes tension to build up in our bodies. When our bodies are rigid and tense, it is hard to feel relaxed. Many people have come to believe that the mind and body are connected, and that there is communication that occurs between the two. I suggest stretching in a dark place, where you are less distracted by your surroundings and are able to really tune into your body, stretch your full range of motion, and center yourself. You would be amazed just how stress-relieving the act of stretching can be!
  2. Use Essential Oils—Our sense of scent is powerful, and there are some natural scents that are believed to be more relaxing, soothing, and stress-relieving than others. If you tend to feel stressed out often, I would highly suggesting investing in one or two essential oils/sprays. I recently purchased an inexpensive lavender sage pillow mist, and I am happy to report that the scent is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but also seems to help me sleep at night. Another calming scent is eucalyptus.
  3. Try New Workouts—The key word here is “new”. As you probably know, working out in and of itself is already a great stress-reliever. But oftentimes we get so used to our typical routine, that it becomes mindless. We go to the gym, put our headphones in, and go through our series of machines, all while letting our mind wander. Trying a new workout presents a new challenge, engages our mind, encourages focus and present moment awareness, and disallows us from ruminating on the issues from our day. Immersing yourself completely in a new workout separates you from the distraction of your phone and the outside, stressful world. Go hiking, try studio barre, engage in a pilates class, or go swimming. Literally anything you can think of!
  4. Take a Bubble Bath—Honestly, bubble baths are so underrated. They are a fantastic way to disengage from the world, and tune into yourself. Pick out a yummy smelling bubble solution, pour a ton in, and just soak away all of your troubles. Perhaps even turn on some rainy-day tunes, jazz, or classical music. Taking 20-30 minutes for this “you-time” will make all of the difference.
  5. Get Lost in a Good Book—Oftentimes, reading can take you away. Immerse yourself in a new fictional world, or take the time to learn a new subject. When you spend 20+ minutes of your day to make a dent in a book you enjoy, you feel a sense of accomplishment for your self-motivation and follow through.
  6. Take Yourself on a Date— Have you been wanting to try that new restaurant down the street? Or that new dessert place? Then go! Treat yourself to an indulgent meal…and heck, even “cheat” a little! Get comfortable doing things by yourself, and you’ll feel good about your new-found independence.
  7. Write it Out—If you have something that you just can’t get off your mind, write about it. Get it all down on paper. Do a stream of consciousness activity. Sometimes just the act of writing can help us to make sense of something that’s complicated, or serve as a sense of catharsis. No one has to ever see what you write, and in fact, you can even toss your notes when you’re done!
  8. Organize and Plan—If you’re feeling stressed out by all of your responsibilities or upcoming deadlines, then take some time to plan and get organized. Purchase a planner, or make notes in a calendar or phone. These days, it’s much too hard to try to remember everything in our heads. So simply relieve yourself of that obstacle. When you start to see all of your plans on paper, and allocate your time and efforts accordingly, it all starts to feel doable. Be in control of your plans, and stop letting your plans control you. There are 24 hours in a day, and plenty of time to get everything done. It’s all about being efficient with your time, and responsible in your planning.
  9. Get Enough Sleep—I can’t stress this one enough. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours a night, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Sleep is crucial, because it helps your body restore and renew itself from the wear and tear of the day. Sleep replenishes your mind. If you’re overtired or sleep deprived you are just adding onto your stress load and putting your health and body at risk of illness. Do yourself a favor and make a personal pact to go to bed by a certain hour every night. Whether it’s 10pm or midnight, stick to it!
  10. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself—Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. Make an effort to abstain from using negative self-talk. Don’t be angry at yourself for being so stressed. That causes you to feel EVEN MORE stressed. That’s almost the same as trying hard to fall asleep before a certain time…you end up being unable to fall asleep. Be self-encouraging and positive. Give yourself a break. You’re only human, and you’re not perfect. Stress is a normal part of life, and it’s more than likely temporary.

Well, that’s it for this post! I hope you find it to be helpful. Feel free to share any helpful tips you have for reducing the impact of stress! Happy almost September!

xx allie

Learning & Accepting Your Limits

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As I get older, I realize more and more that there simply is not enough time in a day. Over the course of the last few years, I have discovered what is largely important to me to feel happy and complete inside. Among these are the following:

Spending quality time with my best friends and family

Working out regularly (mainly for the emotional benefits and stress relief)

Reading for pleasure (to quiet my mind at night and continue to self-learn)

Maintaining outside camaraderies with my coworkers

In order to see to it that I accomplish these goals on a weekly basis, I find that my days are jam-packed! I leave the house at 7:30am for work, and oftentimes don’t return home until 8pm or later. By the time I eat, shower, and prepare myself for the next work day, there is little time for tv or reading before turning in and going to bed before 11pm (which is what I tend to aim for on the week nights). From an outsider’s perspective, it looks as though I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off. But to me, this has become pretty much the norm. I have grown accustomed to having a busy life, and for the most part, I don’t mind it.

There come times however, where I must acknowledge my limits and take time to preserve my energy and nurture my mental well-being. For instance, I try to plan my workouts for the upcoming week on Sunday so that I can make my other plans around these time blocks. In many cases, this works well for me as I have made it a HUGE priority for myself to work out at least 3 days a week in order to combat depression and the onset of stress. In fact, since I’ve been working out more routinely, I’ve noticed a decline in my susceptibility to illness. Not only is my mental well-being gaining strength and resilience, but so is my body and my immune system. WIN-WIN. However, I would say that at least one day a week I finish work and realize that I just simply do NOT have the energy, and would be better off skipping out on my pre-planned workout. In these cases, I feel that it is important to listen to the signals my body is sending me and take time to rest and recover. Although I’m always a little bummed out that had to forfeit my workout, I know that I am doing my body a favor by listening to it. This is a prime example of knowing my limits.

Sometimes I’ll have a friend ask me if I am available to hang out on a weekend night or do something fun on a week day night. While I always feel a strong inclination to want to accept any invitation to spend time with my friends, sometimes I have to take time to deliberate whether I have the resources to. What do I mean by this? In many cases, I have already planned at least 2-3 hangouts with different friends during the week, and while I might be available during the time that they’ve requested to hang out, it might be the better option for me to just relax and take a breather. In other words, I don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) book every free minute of my day. Sometimes it is nice to be able to recharge during the weekends and get a good night’s sleep. While it is tough to decline a fun hangout, sometimes it’s what my body and mind truly need. This is another example of knowing my limits. Despite my desire to stay busy and continue to nourish my friendships, I also allocate time in the week to block out for rest/recovery.

If you know me at all, then you know how much I love to read at night before bed. Some days, however, I am just so exhausted from a jam-packed schedule or mentally arduous work day. While it somewhat disappoints me to have to skip a night of reading, I understand that sometimes my brain needs a rest from thinking. For this reason, there are times where I forgo my book and choose to be on autopilot while watching a mindless tv show or series. It is so fulfilling to sit back, relax, and be entertained without having to put forth any effort in return.

I chose this topic to write about today because I am starting grad school in exactly a week, and I know that once I do, I will have to re-learn my limits and adjust accordingly to my new challenges. While I am cutting down my work hours from 40 to 20 per week, I realize that classes and homework will account for much more than what I’m surrendering. I will likely have to make sacrifices in order to accomplish my responsibilities. This might mean less workouts per week, getting less sleep, spending less time with friends/family, or even putting ‘on pause’ my pleasure reading. While it is hard to anticipate how drastically my schedule will change and exactly what kinds of sacrifices will be in order, I am prepared to be flexible and morph into my new role as a student again. I am working towards my professional career, and that often does come with some sacrifice. I simply cannot wait until I am finally a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, whatever that may take!

Since the inception of my blog in January, I have been doing my best to continue adding new posts at least once per week. I will continue to try to update my viewers with new posts, as my journey is only just beginning! Please be patient with any inactivity for the next few weeks as I try to re-learn my boundaries, adjust to my changing schedule, and allocate time for this very important blog. I appreciate all of the amazing comments you send me, and the extreme level of encouragement to continue. You all are the best!

xx allie

Wednesday Review: Annabelle Creation

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Alright guys, if you like scary movies at all, then this blog post is for you.

I’ve always loved horror/suspense movies, but unfortunately it’s always been tricky to find friends that like them too. I remember I would have to force my friends to watch the scary scenes, or they’d bury their heads into a pillow and sheepishly ask what’s happening.

So last night, when I went to see the new movie Annabelle Creation, I found myself especially captivated by the previews prior to the flick starting. I am so pleased to say that MANY more scary movies are coming out soon…and they look HELLA good. Just to name a few:

  • Jigsaw (If you love the Saw movies like I do, you may find this one interesting)
  • Stephen King’s It (Every single trailer of this is phenomenal. This is going to be epically scary)
  • Happy Death Day (Had never heard of this before last night, but it looked pretty good. Watch trailer here)

Now to review Annabelle Creation:

I entered into this movie with very little idea of what to expect. I believe I had seen the trailer on one occasion, and I hadn’t read any reviews. I like to be completely surprised by the films that I see in theaters, so I try not to update myself on any of the buzz that’s spreading about anything I’m planning to see. I’m really glad I had no idea what to expect, because I was pleasantly surprised by many things about this one.

The Acting: There are a number of younger girls in this movie, some less established in their acting career than others. I was rather impressed by how believable their acting was for their ages, as they were captivating enough to cause the viewer to suspend reality and get wrapped up in the film. There were many occasions where I jumped, flinched, or covered my mouth in shock, partly because it was so believable that I forgot I wasn’t actually there! The camera angles were worked nicely, adding just the right amount of suspense as we waited to see what was behind someone or around the corner.

The Plot: Although there have been many movies about dolls or girls that get possessed by an evil spirit, this one didn’t seem too mainstream. There was enough variation in the plot, and memorable turning points, that I couldn’t always anticipate what was going to happen next. The movie is almost two hours long, but it is well enough done that all scenes seem to flow smoothly into one another, with little room for any removal. The movie gets going rather quickly, and progresses at a fast enough pace all the way through. I, personally, was also impressed with the CGI, and did not think that they went too over the top with it. Perfect amount. The imagery was terrifying and realistic-looking. Ending could have been better, and a little less abrupt, after all of the build-up, but it wasn’t terrible.

Overall: I was pretty impressed by this film, and definitely think that it lives up to the scariness that has come to be expected by recent-day horror films. I give it an “A-“, mainly because the ending could have been better and this wasn’t as good as the “Conjuring 2” which I still view as “A+” quality. The “Conjuring 2” literally gave me a headache from all of the stress and anxiety I experienced during the course of the film. And while that doesn’t sound ideal, to me that is a blatant success (since I find that I am particularly difficult to scare).

If you haven’t seen this film yet, and you can appreciate a good horror flick, I suggest paying the money to watch it in the theater. The large screen and quality surround sound definitely add to the experience. You won’t be disappointed.

After watching this movie, I can hardly wait for the Halloween Season! I’m ready for scary movies, candy eating, pumpkin patches, costumes, and of course..Halloween Horror Nights. Only a month and a half to go.

xx allie

 

San Diego Girls’ Trip!

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Hey guys! So I am finally taking the time to write about my recent girls’ trip to San Diego! Although it was a short trip, we were able to squeeze in an itinerary of fun things. So without further ado, let’s get into it:

For starters, we decided to book our stay at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. We were looking for a reasonably priced room, which was close enough to both the downtown area as well as the airport (since we had a friend flying in from NorCal). We totally lucked out with this find! I’ll break it down for you:

Pros of the Hotel

  • Affordable price (but also includes hotel/resort fee)
  • Only 10 minute Uber ride from downtown/gas lamp district ($5-$10 depending).
  • Literally across the street from the airport, with a free shuttle to/from every 15 minutes
  • Amazing view of marina from balcony
  • Room was clean and nautical-themed
  • Friendly and informative concierge
  • Fruit infused water in the lobby at all times
  • Live music downstairs

Cons of the Hotel

  • Parking seemed pricey. Hotel guests had to pay $32 per night to park their car.
  • Starbucks in lobby was WAY overpriced and lacked ample selection. Drink options were limited.
  • Check-out line was rather slow

Overall—totally recommend this hotel. Was very happy with it all-in-all, and give it an 8/10.

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Messin’ Around w/ Al on our balcony

So here are the places we went and my take on each:

  1. La Puerta SD: AMAZING MEXICAN FOOD and adorable venue. The food was very tasty and the wait staff was friendly and fast. We started off our order with the guacamole and chips (which was actually more like nachos since they were additionally topped with pico de gallo and mozzarella cheese cubes). They were a little on the greasy side, and I also would have preferred more salt, but overall rather good. We also ordered the house margaritas on the rocks. DAMN good margaritas, with the perfect blend of tequila. Our server also brought us some drink samples, which was super nice of her. I ordered the surf n’ turf tacos, which were a fantastic combination of shrimp and steak. Definitely recommend visiting this spot if you’re looking for yummy Mex food. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
  2. Gas Lamp District: Definitely a fun place to walk around and shop/eat. This is practically the hub of San Diego, where all of the action lies. There are big stores like Urban Outfitters, and also smaller boutiques. Mostly all of the restaurants are one-of-a-kind, but are super trendy and modern on the inside. This was one of the main draws for me, and ultimately convinced me that one day I’ll live in SD…since I’m a big foodie and love the plethora of restaurant options.sd5.jpg
  3. Civico 1845: On our first night in SD, we wanted some good Italian eats. So we headed to Little Italy, which is super cute, to a little traditional Italian place called Civico 1845. Although our wait was nearly an hour, I ended up being very happy with the Salmon dish that I ordered. They gave me a very large piece of fish that was cooked to perfection. This was also the type of restaurant that serves bread prior to bringing out your entrees—SCORE. My friend Kaitlyn’s pasta dish was also really tasty, but we weren’t a fan of Ally’s mushroom pasta dish (WAY too mushroomy). The only other notable part of this restaurant is that it is EXTREMELY loud inside. They should have designed it differently to muffle the noise in some way. It almost felt like we were yelling in order to communicate across the table, and we were often deterred from telling a story since it took too much effort to relay our messages. I was more or less happy with this Italian restaurant, but I think if I were to re-visit little Italy in the future, I would opt to try somewhere else.sd9.jpg
  4. American Junkie: This is a bar/restaurant in downtown San Diego, with a dj and dance floor later in the night. The atmosphere is cool, and the place is spacious enough. However, we were there at about 11pm, and there was still no dance floor from what we saw. They had a game where people spun a wheel and then had to do the action that the spinner landed on (ie kiss a stranger, etc.), but only a few people were immersed in the game and it was boring to watch after a few minutes. The drinks were also expensive. Probably wouldn’t go back.sd10
  5. Mission Beach Boardwalk: Fun little spot to visit during the day. There are rides on the boardwalk, and little restaurants along the beach. There are lots of beach houses, and it was fun to walk alongside them down the coast. BEWARE: use a lot of sunscreen, since the sun is super strong here.

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    Even the Dogs Surf Here
  6. Coronado Brewing Company: We stopped here while at Mission Beach to get some drinks/appetizers. I got a margarita (of course), which was pretty good and also kind of strong. We also shared the pretzel bites, which did not disappoint. I don’t like beer, but my friend said that her IPA was pretty good from here! This was a great place to eat by the beach and people watch.
  7. kait and alSandbar Sports Grill: For lunch at Mission Beach, we stopped at Sandbar Sports Grill. This was a rooftop restaurant, with a nice view of the beach. I got a margarita, but was SUPER disappointed with it. I love salt, but this drink tasted like I was literally drinking the ocean. It was WAY too salty. Salt on the rim is great, but salt in the drink is just nasty. I sent it back, and was given a second one. JUST AS BAD. So I ended up getting a pineapple vodka drink instead. Now THAT was good. 3rd time’s a charm, I guess. The tacos I ordered were great though, couldn’t complain.
  8. Henry’s Pub: This was a cute little Irish pub that we went to for dinner downtown. I enjoyed our experience here, because we got to watch the entire restaurant play a trivia game while we ate. We got to quietly participate at our own table as well. I ordered the popcorn shrimp, which was actually very good/fresh. Ally ordered their mac n cheese, which looked delicious to me (although she wasn’t blown away by it). Kaitlyn ordered a salad, which I tried and LOVED. It was basic, but tasty. Unfortunately though, they used a lot of iceberg lettuce. Word to the wise Henry, try some real leaves next time!
  9. The ShoutHouse SD!: An adorable little piano bar downtown. For a Sunday night, I was impressed to see that it was a full house. The performers started off really good. They were great singers, talented pianists, and played a lot of popular songs. We were captivated for a solid hour and a half. When they switched the performers out though, their song selection got a lot more dated, and we ceased to be able to sing along. I guess your experience somewhat depends on the performers for the night, and the age of the audience. Overall, I’d definitely go back. There was no cover charge, and also no drink minimum. However, it was not AS impressive as my last experience at “Howl at the Moon” in Studio City, where the performers played at least 3 instruments each and took on risky songs like, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
  10. Ghiradelli: Chocolate, Icecream, Brownies, and Cookies. Open late. Need I say more?

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    She’s excited..duh.
  11. Snooze, an AM Eatery: Last but not least, we dined at Snooze in the morning for our goodbye brunch. This was my second time going to this restaurant. The last one I went to was in Denver, CO. If you ever go here, you absolutely have to get their Hot Chocolate. I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees out, you still need it. They have a fantastic selection of pancakes here, as well as eggs benedicts, coffee drinks, and other specials. The food is always top notch and the wait is always long. Decent prices. Definitely a good place to try if you’re ever in the area.

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    Summer Dress Sunday

Well that’s about it folks. If you ever go to SD and try out any of these places, feel free to let me know what your experience is like! I’ll definitely be returning soon, as I was totally impressed with this laidback city that is the perfect blend of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara life.

xx allie