Happy birthday to me

I turn 25 on Tuesday. I’m not that excited about it. A few years ago, a few of my friends were turning 25 and they were telling me how they were dreading it and I just did not get it. I told them, “It’s just a birthday, you should be excited.” But one friend was telling me how she hasn’t accomplished everything she thought she would by 25 and it’s weird to be growing up. Now I get it.

But, instead of thinking negative, I’m trying to think positive and be excited about my birthday. I got another year on this earth with some amazing people whom I love very much.

To celebrate, I got myself some presents that I thought I would share with you all here.

Birthday gifts 2

I bought these gifts for myself to inspire me to go out and do great things.

The planner is, of course, so I can plan better. I get one just about every year and this year I splurged on a big, pretty planner.

I don’t have that many pairs of nice jeans. This year, I’ve bought a few pairs of what I consider to be expensive jeans at thrift stores because that way I’m getting good quality for a low price. The problem with that is that they wear out fast because they’re already used when I get them.

Take, for example, the J Brand jeans I bought from Salvation Army for $20 that I absolutely love, but feel slightly embarrased to wear because the hole in the knee just keeps expanding. So, new jeans should make me feel more inclined to leave the apartment. I bought the Madewell jeans last week when there was an extra discount on sale items but it looks like that ended.

I threw away an old pair of running shoes about 6 months ago and I’m just now replacing them. I want to be a runner. Something in me loves running.

The books are by two inspiring women who I hope to learn from. I ordered them as audiobooks last night.

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before. Scratch that. I did listen to a Harry Potter book as an audiobook when I was staying with my brother’s family one time.

Does listening to an audiobook count as reading a book? Very important question. I want to know if I can fulfill my book quota for the year. My older sister and a two of our friends are doing this 2016 book challenge from the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog.

Now that I think about it, I guess I’m ready for 25, and not because of these new gifts I got myself. I’m ready because I have some amazing people at my side and I’ve grown in the past year. It’s time to celebrate that.

Bring it on, February 2nd!

Take a walk

take a walk
These past few weeks, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. I’m still on the search for a job since graduation, as I’ve mentioned here before. It’s not good to feel this way. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been to this place where insecurity begins to take over. On the plus side, there are ways out.

Thankfully, I’m feeling better already. I’ve got the support of family and friends, my health, a place to lay my head and plenty of other things to be thankful for. I have to remember that good things come in time with hard work. I was reminded yesterday, not for the first time, that I just have to have faith.

Friends, family and faith are key for me, although sometimes I forget that.
take a walk
take a walk take a walk
take a walk

Honestly, I’ve never been much of an optimistic person. I’ve always thought of myself as a realist. I think practically. When I was young, I had to be reminded that not everything should be taken so literally. Maybe that’s why my best friends are such positive people. They keep me grounded. We balance each other out. But when I get down, I can go from being realistic to negative.

The thing is, I was hoping that by now I would have a full-time job, be saving up for things like a new computer and car, and be getting ready to move out of my family’s home. I had big goals a few months ago. I have to remind myself that the economy is hard now for everyone. Just because I haven’t reached all those things, doesn’t mean they aren’t attainable. I can’t give up. I don’t want to live with my family forever. Giving up isn’t an option.

Positive habits can help change my perspective in times like this. I wrote about what to do when you’re feeling down last January, but forgot to look at that list until now that I’m already feeling better. I just checked and everything on it still applies.

One habit I’m really trying to cultivate lately is to take a walk every day. If I walk my dogs Max and Penny while the sun is still out, then I’m accomplishing three things on the list. I get some sun, exercise and hang out with animals. When I took these photos above two weeks ago, I ticked three things off. I got sun, exercised and did something creative.

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or not, taking  at least 15 minutes out of your day to take a walk can be be very helpful. I encourage you to try it.

Also, reading this blog post by Patty on Barrett All and this one by Anna on In Honor of Design helped me feel even less alone and more encouraged to strive for what I want.

Positivity is a powerful thing. Hope is necessary. Love is beautiful.

P.S. Thanks for your encouraging comments on my latest fashion post. I’ll definitely do more in the future.

Between Lenses: Mornings

My dog Max and I are similar in many ways. We’re usually calm and quiet, but we both get excited about a walk around the block. He definitely jumps up and down more than me though. We’re both introverts. We’re big fans of popcorn and peanut butter. And we prefer not to wake up too early.

This is the face Max makes when he’s still in bed and the sun is shining through the blinds. I make the same face.
Between Lenses: Mornings

I usually see this cute-pie puppy face within minutes of waking up. His bed is right next to mine. Sometimes I have to coax him out of bed to go outside and he will just look at me like this.

So, even though I haven’t participated in the Between Lenses blog hop in quite some time (oops!) I was reminded of it and super excited that I didn’t miss the October theme. You see, bloggers Tara and Victoria have created this series for bloggers to link up and share their interpretation of a theme through photos. This month’s theme is mornings.

Be sure to hop over to see Latrina and Tara’s posts as well!

Also, see my other Between Lenses post on movement.

If we were to have coffee

Happy National Coffee Day! Yeah, that’s a thing.

If we were to have coffee

I started writing this post about a hypothetical coffee date to catch you (my readers) up on my life a few weeks ago and then saved it as a draft. I’m so inconsistent with posts, but I swear I love to blog. I don’t know why I don’t put in the time to write. Whenever I do it feels so good.

You, know what else is good? Coffee! Let’s pretend we’re having some.

If we were to have coffee right now, I would definitely NOT order a pumpkin spice anything because pumpkin is not my thing and I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not fall yet. We’ve got some time.

I would order myself a great big iced something and offer to pay for yours too. But if you said you’d pay for mine I wouldn’t refuse. I’ll get you next time after I’ve secured myself a job.

We’d pick a nice little table inside because we’ve got to be near the air conditioning. Of course, we’d talk about how hot its been in California and when the drought will ever end.

I’m sure we’d talk about…


I would tell you about the family party we had at my house for the August and September birthdays. My family can be very loud and boisterous. I love them all so much. My favorite right now (oops, did I just say that?) is the littlest one.

My nephew is just so adorable! Of course, it is hard when he won’t stop crying. Oh man. I watched him for an hour or so recently and it felt like much longer. I don’t know how my sister does it. I feel for moms, more than before. He’s only two months. Maybe he will sleep through the night soon. He did start smiling recently, which is the best ever.

At this point, I’ll probably pull out my phone to show you photographic evidence of his cuteness. Look at all these pictures of him smiling!

Then I might tell you how I wish I could spend more time with him. I would be over every day if  I only had a car. I could make a song up about that to the tune of “If I Only Had a Brain,” but nobody would want to hear that.

Career stuff

My job search has been going better. It’s hard not to be discouraged, but I have had interviews, so that’s something. My family and friends have been so encouraging too.

I’d tell you about the career options I’ve looked into and the jobs I’ve applied to. We might compare job search strategies and goals.


I might mention how life has felt different since graduating college. It’s harder to meet up with friends when everyone has different schedules. It’s not like when we saw each other three times a week or more for class and then could just go out to lunch in between.

I’d tell you how I value the relationships I have. My childhood friends, college friends, family and boyfriend are all so special. I’m proud of my sisters and brother for working hard in their jobs and being good people. Now I’m getting sentimental. But the older I get, the more I realize you just can’t take things for granted. My mom reminds me of that too. She’s the best.

Pop culture

Have you seen Orange Is The New Black? I started watching it a few weeks ago. It’s so good! My best friend told me about it awhile ago and we watched a few episodes together. Of course I’ve been hearing about it on the Interwebs ever since, but it took my sister, cousin and boyfriend’s sister asking if I’d watched it for me to watch again. The show is good. It’s graphic, sexual, violent and sad. Not for everyone. But it’s also heartwarming.

What TV shows have you been watching? I only have three episodes left of OITNB, so I could use some drama show suggestions. My oldest sister has been saying I should watch Revenge. Have you seen it? I was watching Orphan Black with Paul. Unfortunately, only the first season is on Amazon Prime so we stopped there. I was into Parenthood before that, but the Amber character kind of ruined it for me.

For more lighthearted fare, I go for late night talk shows, comedy specials and cartoons for adults. John Stewart has become my favorite ale night guy. A few years ago I didn’t have a clue. Key and Peele have a cool format for their show that reminds me of Saturday Night Live, except it’s not really that close. I enjoy Bob’s Burgers and Bravest Warriors too. If you’ve never seen Catbug, well, you’ve got to!

So, that’s my life lately. I fawn over my nephew, apply to jobs, go on interviews and watch a ton of tv.

What have you been up to? And what would you order of we were to have coffee together? You can say tea or lemonade or whatever. That’s fine too. ;)

24 before 24: Redesign my blog

I finally did it!

If you’ve been to this blog before, you may notice a few changes. Yes, I redesigned my site! I’m seriously so excited about the new look! It feels even better because I did it myself! It turns out that it wasn’t even that hard! Guys, this is a big deal! Exclamation marks all day every day! I was inspired my this post and decided that if I put in some work, I could change my blog all by myself.

With the help of WordPress, a free theme and a day’s worth of work using custom CSS and the WordPress forums, I was able to make my site look the way I wanted. I’m sure I’ll make more changes later on, but for now, I’m happy.

Here’s what Modern Notebook looked like before I started making changes:

Modern Notebook 1.2

And here’s what it looks like today:

Modern Notebook 2.2

Can you see the changes? It’s like one of those Spot the Differences challenges. Mainly, I wanted to make the site look more like my own and less like the theme because it is really common. My favorite colors are pink and gray, so I used those throughout the site. Even though I love pink and I feel like it goes with Modern Notebook, I wanted to minimize it while keeping it on as an accent color.

Let’s geek out about those details!

I upgraded from a free WordPress account to WordPress premium back in April, when I changed the blog’s name and URL. The upgrade comes with great options, such as the ability to customize with CSS. But I was lost and honestly, I didn’t even bother with it. I just figured I would have to take a class in CSS or do a ton of research before I could make any changes. That’s simply not the case though.

CSS can be really fun, especially if you have a customize tool and theme to work with. With the way my blog is set up, I just had to look at the framework of the free theme I was using, figure out what I wanted changed and make adjustments from there. It would have been a lot different if I was working from scratch. Knowing a little bit about how HTML works helped too, since CSS is different but similar.

Using CSS, I finally hid the pink polka dots that are signature part of the free Adelle theme. I also snipped off the end of he navigation bar, which looked  more like a ribbon before, and I changed it from black to gray. Adelle normally has squiggly lines between each section in the sidebar, but I changed them to straight lines. To make a cohesive look, I made the post date the same color gray as the navigation bar and changed it from an oval shape to more of a circle.

By the way, CSS stands for cascading style sheets. It’s often used to style web pages and interface with HTML. Or something like that.  read about it on Wikipedia and got a little lost.

Most of the work came down to Google + copy + paste = :) Add some critical thinking for a job well done.

Some of the changes didn’t even require CSS. For example, I added a new header to give it a signature touch, thanks to the help of my amazing boyfriend. We made the header together in Photoshop. (But it could be done using any free photo or design software instead.)

Then I worked on the sidebar to make it look special. I added in my blog’s categories with a text widget and HTML, only after going through all my posts to make sure they were each in the right categories. Then I added in an image to link to my summer playlist, which I plan to change out occasionally.  Finally, I used free social media icons from Carrie Loves Design and took out the old social widgets. To top it all off, I changed out my profile photo from last summer to a more recent one.

That about did it!

If you have any questions about how I made my site look the way I wanted, let me know with a comment or email! I’d love to help. If you have any advice or critiques about my redesign, please let me know! I’m totally new to this.

P.S. I’m trying to do 24 things before my 24th birthday in February, and this one is on the list. I know, I’m crazy. See the rest of the 24 before 24 list and then judge me.

Between lenses: Movement

Where do you feel most at peace? More than anywhere else, I think I feel most at peace standing beside the ocean watching the waves come in. There’s nothing quite like it.

the ocean in motion

The ocean has always been a special place for me. I especially love watching the waves go in and out. When I was a little girl, my older sister and I would play tricks with the waves. As the waves would start to come in I would call out “You can’t get me you little rascal waves.” Except, I had a hard time pronouncing words then, so it sounded more like “You can’t get me you wittle wascal waves.” Then I would either run away from the water or my sister would pull me up by the arms so the waves wouldn’t get me. Maybe this actually only happened once or twice. Either way, it’s a fond memory.

Being on the beach always makes me think of that memory. I get so excited to stick my feet in the water, even if it’s a cold day. I know that if it’s too cold for me, I can just run away and come back when I’m ready. The waves will still be there.

I took this photo a few weeks ago I was in Santa Barbara with my best friend just for a day. We took a break from exploring the city to hang out by the ocean waves. It was really fun! Not many people were on that area of the sand so we had our own space to be silly and take photos. We played around with the settings and took turns modeling for the camera. We were acting like kids. A lot of the pictures turned out bad. Out of the bunch, this was my favorite. It’s not just a decent pictures. It also has a soft quality to it, which I like.

So, I decided to share it as part of the Between Lenses photo challenge put on by Latrina and Tara.

Between Lenses

To find out more about the Between Lenses photography challenge, visit Latrina’s blog Of Trees and Hues and Tara’s blog Tara Victoria.This challenge is really beautiful and hope to keep linking up with them. If you’re interested, the next two themes have already been planned out so you can get a head start.

Here’s what’s coming up:

no. 08 Tuesday, August 12th // Symmetry
no. 09 Tuesday, September 9th // Silence

Remembering the Santa Barbara shooting

Santa Barbara shooting 1

Two months ago, a young man went on a killing spree in Isla Vista, California, near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara. He killed six people and injured 13 others before committing suicide.

I was sad to hear the news of yet another mass shooting. This time it was so close to home. The day after it happened, I read every article about the Isla Vista community, the shooter, and the victims in the Los Angeles Times. If I remember correctly, there were at least four in the paper.

The killer was out for revenge on women for rejecting him and on men for living a better life than him, according to a video he had posted on YouTube entitled “Retribution.” He had also written a 140-page account of his life titled “My Twisted World”

Whenever a mass killing occurs, everyone is left looking for solutions and wondering what could have been done, myself included.

Should there be more restrictions on guns? Were there any signs that could have showed a plan of attack? What can be done to help improve mental heath-care in the the United States? How can parents help their children, especially if they are over 18?

The last question is one the father of the Isla Vista killer is grappling with as he explains in this interview with Barbara Walters.

shooting site 2

A close friend and I visited Santa Barbara last month. In a few weeks she’ll be moving there for school.

While we were walking around the small Isla Vista community, we came across a makeshift memorial. I took a few pictures on my camera and phone because I wanted to somehow remember it. I don’t mean to be morbid, but I wanted to be able to show others and somehow express my thoughts as I’m trying to now.

I wish there was some way to make sure this never happens again. Unfortunately, this wasn’t even the first mass killing in Isla Vista. In 2001, the son of a director ran over five people, killing four of them.

Mass killings are something that could happen any where. It seems that no town is safe from them. But I’m honestly a little nervous about my friend moving to this place.

I have no solutions to offer, no call to action. If you do, let me know. I’m still left wondering.