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Weekend Recap {4/21-4/23}

As far as Mondays go, today is an alright one. I'm going out on a limb by saying that because I don't even know how the day is going to pan out yet. But, it's my last Monday of work before next week's vacation, so I"m going in with a positive mindset.

Regardless of how the day turns out, Monday is the day I talk about my weekend, so let's get going!

Slade and I had a super lazy night in. He made dinner and we started a binge watch of Married at First Sight. We have a thing for awkward reality dating shows. We're also loving the new show, First Dates. Have you watched it yet?

We had a slow start with a lazy morning, but then left home around noon to run some errands. There were a few things we needed to pick up for our vacation, and we found all of them so...success! We then met up with my cousins and their husbands to try Do-Lish, the new edible cookie dough eatery. I had chocolate chip, and everyone else had either peanut butter, birthday cake, or cookies and cream. It was super yummy!

Once the cookie dough had digested a little, Slade and I went to check out the Alachua County Friends of the Library book sale. This is an event that happens twice a year in Gainesville. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like...a gigantic sale full of incredibly cheap used books. This was my first time checking it out and it was awesome. There were so many varieties of crazy cheap books. I'll have a haul up soon...probably tomorrow!

We grabbed an early dinner from Blaze after finishing up at the book sale. We hadn't had any real food up until that point, so the pizza definitely hit the spot! Once we were good and full we headed back home, where we spent the evening having a couple of drinks and watching movies.

Sunday was such a fun day! My cousin Taylor threw a "gotcha" day party to celebrate the one year adoption of her dog June, and her sister Shelby's dog Violet. Bell had a blast running and playing with the other dogs. She also got to wear a fun party hat and received a cute little goodie bag with a toy and some homemade treats. I'm blessed with wonderful cousins, and so is Bell! Also, as you can see by these pictures, taking photos with dogs in party hats isn't easy...but it's so worth it.

What made you smile this weekend?

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon {Restless Reviews}

It's time for another Restless Review!

Today, I"m going to share my thoughts on a book that is quite popular at the moment...Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. The movie adaptation of this book is actually coming out on May 19th. It looks really good, and when movies are based on books I always like to try to read the book beforehand. Also, how gorgeous is this cover?

"You're not living if you're not regretting."

In a nutshell...
Everything, Everything is about an 18-year-old girl named Maddy who has never left her home because she has a disease called SCID (severe combined immunodeficiency), which essentially means that she is allergic to everything. She has learned to be content with her lifestyle, but that all begins to change when a boy named Olly moves in next door. This book is all about learning to give life a chance. 

Bad news first:
This plot isn't the most believable. To be fair though, that's a concept that you can grasp simply by reading the back of the book. There is also a heavy dose of "insta-love," meaning that feelings develop very quickly between the characters. I do think that it makes sense for this story though, mainly because Maddy's character is so innocent and void of life experience. Lastly, I personally found the twist towards the end a bit easy to predict...I toyed with the thought a few chapters in and sure enough, I was right!

Now for the good:
This book was like candy. It was the perfect mix of fun and depth, and I flew through it. The characters are sweet and likable and easy to relate to. The characters are also racially diverse, which is so important! Yoon has a knack for balancing humor and lightheartedness with deeper questions and issues. The format of the book is the icing on the cake..it's full of doodles and emails and lists that make the reading process even more enjoyable. 

So...yay or nay?
Yes, for sure. It's an easy, enjoyable read. I picked it up because I was in need of something "lighter," and it certainly did the trick. Also, don't avoid it because you think it's too "young" for you. I"m 10 years older than the characters, and still thoroughly loved it. 

Have you read Everything, Everything? Will you be going to see the movie? Let me know what you think! 

9 Things to Do When You're 9 Days from Vacation

At 5:30pm next Friday, Slade and I will officially be on vacation for a week!

We have been planning this vacation since December. Normally, I feel like time passes at a snail's pace when you're looking forward to something. Yet, these past few months have went by pretty darn quickly.

Our original plan was to go to Branson, Missouri for a few days to spend some time in the mountains. We were going to fly up, but after thinking about it, we decided to drive so we would not only save some money, but be able to make stops on the way up and back. Our final itinerary looks something like this:

Neither of us have been to any of these cities yet (other than Jacksonville), and we are really excited to have a vacation that is a good balance of exploration, relaxation, and of course...good food. (Please let me know if you have any "must do's" for any of these places!)

I feel like the time leading up to vacation can always be a bit stressful, just because there are so many details to confirm and preparations to be made. Since we are just over a week away from leaving, we obviously have all of the major details sorted, but there are still some smaller details that need attention.

I have put together a list of things that could and should be done when you are preparing for any vacation. These are basics that can apply to any type of trip. Since we only have nine more days to prepare, I'm talking about nine tasks to check off of your list.

1. Double confirm your transportation.
We are taking my car on this trip. Something I have been reminding myself to do for weeks is get my oil changed, so I made an appointment to go do that this weekend. I also need to wash and detail my car, because it currently has lots of little Bell hairs throughout the interior, and several Bell licks on the windows. Other than these things, my car is in good shape and ready to go! Moral of the story is, make sure your car is ready to make the trip. If you're not taking your own vehicle, make sure to confirm your rental car or flight arrangements.

2. Confirm pet care arrangements.
Our cat Rizzo is the easy part of this equation. She is independent and easy to care for so she will be spending the week with Slade's mom in Jacksonville. Bell, on the other hand, is a bit harder to find arrangements for. Luckily, my cousin Nathan, who is a college student, will be house/Bell sitting for us during the entire time we are gone. That way, Bell will be in the environment she is used to and everything she will need will be at his fingertips. So, whether you have a house-sitter or your pets stay at a kennel or with family, just confirm that those plans are in place.

3. Identify any extra items you need to buy.
Make a packing list and think about everything you're going to need to bring with you. Then, think about things that may be missing from that list. I discovered that there are a couple of things I need to pick up...a strapless bra (for some of the shirts I want to wear) and a new pair of workout pants (since we will be doing some hiking in Branson and all of mine are super worn out). It's so much easier to think ahead than to discover what you're missing while packing.

4. Try to solidify an itinerary.
Slade and I have already decided that we don't want to have every second of every day scheduled. However, there are a lot of options for things to do and places to eat in each city that we're going to. We want to decide on the attractions we want to do for certain ahead of time. This ensures that you feel like you're making the most of your time, and also that you won't just be aimlessly wandering around and wasting time trying to decide what to do.

5. Confirm your accommodations.
Whether you are staying at a hotel, or with family or friends, make sure your reservations have been solidified. If you aren't paying ahead of time, it also never hurts to get an exact cost of what you will be paying upon arrival. Being prepared makes the process so much easier!

6. Scrutinize your budget.
Traveling can get expensive if you're not paying attention to what you're spending. Go ahead and sit aside any costs that you will need for attractions/gas/etc. Setting a ballpark figure for what you want to spend on food never hurts either. If you haven't paid for your accommodations yet, don't forget to deduct that from your total amount as well.

7. Take a look at your route.
Sitting down to do an overlook of your trip can be super helpful, especially if you're going  somewhere that is unfamiliar to you. This will also help you decide on the most efficient routes. Even if you're just going to the airport, knowing how to get there in advance could avoid you missing your flight.

8. Clean your house.
You're probably rolling your eyes at me right now, but hear me out. If you clean your house a couple of days before you leave, you will have a clean space to come home to. When you get home, you're going to be tired, and the last thing you want is an additional stressor. In our case, we will have someone staying in our home while we are gone, so it's also the polite thing to do, ha ha.

9. Make a playlist.
What is the best way to pass time in the car or on a plane? Music and podcasts, of course. Sit down and make a playlist of all of the songs and podcasts you want to listen to on the road. Give yourself a variety to keep things lively. What are some of your favorite things to listen to when traveling? Tell me in the comments!

Bonus: Get excited!
If you're more stressed than excited for your trip, you need to change that. Get all of these necessary things done, and you will already feel more at ease. Traveling is supposed to be fun! Vacation is supposed to be rejuvenating. Don't let your anxiety ruin that!

Do you do these things before a trip? What additional precautions do you take?

Life WILL Get Messy, and That's OK

I think everyone tends to be a little "stuck in their ways" when it comes to certain things. Most of us have schedules, traditions, systems, etc. that we live some, if not all, aspects of our daily lives by. Routines just make normal responsibilities a bit easier.

Since I have struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder from a young age, these normal routines have always caused me a bit more stress than they should. I have always felt like my house has to be in a certain order. My car has to be in a certain order. My work and personal schedules have to be in a certain order. My life in general has to be in a certain order.

But, as we all know, it's impossible to keep everything "perfect" 100% of the time. Busy-ness happens. Messy little pups happen. Getting sick happens. Unexpected events happen. LIFE happens and interrupts your routine.

When "perfect" goes out the window, we can respond in one of two ways: we can either accept the chaos and work through it, or we can let the stress rule our lives. Unfortunately, I always tend to fall into the second category. If the house is a mess before I go to bed, I don't sleep well. If I don't make the bed before I leave for work, I dwell on it all day. A lot of the time, I can be completely irrational when it comes to these types of scenarios, and it's frustrating to say the least.

I know it's going to be impossible for me to fully change this way of thinking, but I really have been trying lately to dig deep within myself and realize that it's perfectly okay for life to be messy every now and then. Disorganization in my home, or my schedule, or anything for that fact, does not have to lead to disorganization in my thoughts and relationships. Perfectionism does not have to be the controller of life.

Do you struggle with obsessive organization or perfectionism? How do you handle things when inevitable disruption occurs?