Vacation Throwback: Summer of ’18 in CA

*Cue Roaring 20’s and Old Fashioned by Panic! at the Disco in the background, on repeat* (meaning at least listen to the songs once, PLZ, then just listen to the rest of the album…yes I may be too much of a fan)

DISCLAIMER: All photos are mine, even the header.

This was the vacation I needed, and in the same note of I wanted it, I didn’t know I NEEDED so badly. I truly grew so much, learned so much, and explored so much, I can only hope to get some of it across through some of my social media posts, my pictures, and through posts like this.

I had 2 weeks, with flights, that was fairly busy, out in CA. I shared right before, my planning of it, go check it out! This is my aftermath vomit post. Yes, it took too long, sorry guys. Mind my last post on some reasoning (I know, no excuses! I hate it…I just was still recovering and couldn’t deal for some reason(s)…but here I am, getting back on the vibe).

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The first major thing I got to do, which was the reasoning for the whole vacation out to California anyway, was Yosemite. I enjoyed the time up, with, and back down, with my mom and her parents. It was 4 total days, 2 full days in the park, the last day in the middle of the park, and down the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The travel through the park, and down the Sierra Nevada’s, I’m so grateful I had the intuition and confidence to say what I would think would create some great memories and photography shots, to my grandpa (who asked me personally about how we should make our way back down to where they live).

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Yosemite couldn’t have been any more enjoyable on my end, especially as a first time visitor, with experienced visitors. When my grandma told me that my grandpa fell in love with waterfalls from their first visit at Yosemite, I can truly see why. Seeing it for myself, and seeing my grandpa, in his mid 80’s be in his element, I see it.

For some backstory: my grandpa and my dad are both photography nerds. Keep in mind, it’s my mom’s dad here, so it’s not a dad and son thing here. My late grandfather is very an “in the moment” guy, and I’ve appreciated that the more I’ve aged (which took a toll on me during this trip…the “in the moment” that Ekhart Tolle shares, especially in his book of “The Power of Now”, which has shaped me more than anything, since I read it).

I can see myself in all of them, and most so I felt that during this trip. This was my first “fun” trip since before my late grandfather passed. I had a memorable time when visiting him prior to his passing, but knowing that he was going to die is a different trip. If you’ve lost someone close, and had a weekend even with them, prior to their passing, I’m sure you know the similar feeling of what I experienced.

Since my grandfather’s passing, I’ve grown so much as a person, and even more so in the last 2 years, because I know that’s what he’d want (outside of getting over his passing). Going to Yosemite refreshed my love of nature, especially around water (lakes, waterfalls, rivers, storms), as well as photography, and being in the moment.

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Pretty much three weeks later, I’m still in shock of what I saw, and the fact that it’s now behind me. Let alone the fact that I still get mesmerized by my raw pictures that I got. I hated nearly all the pictures I was in, but the pictures I got were beyond anything.

They truly didn’t need editing. I went through about 400 pictures, and I didn’t want to edit the ones I kept. It took me forever to just “man up” and realize that I knew I didn’t have to (and didn’t want to) edit my pictures from Yosemite.

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Past Yosemite, it was some down time, a lunch with my mom, a family dinner, then to VidCon and Disneyland on my last day. This is where I grew the most. I noticed how far I had come at that point, as a person, as well as an adult. A lot can happen from 18 to 23.

Some unfortunate things happened on some plans for VidCon, and it turned into a long solo weekend. The universe knew better than I did. I broke down one night even, but I needed to experience a breakdown totally alone to become stronger.

I knew that even during the breakdown. I’m a better person from that, and because of the whole experience of the solo “weekend” if you want to call it that.

I was reminded of my strength as a person, of the fact that I’m capable of doing things on my own, and that nothing is ever as bad as what your mind tells you it is (via whatever chemical imbalances you may have, whether too much or too little of something). Something I was taught in mentor/leadership camp, I was reminded of recently: You and your body can endure so much more than you think. It’s convincing your mind of it that’s the issue.

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Vidcon was nice but isn’t worth the hype. I can’t speak for what it was (this was the first year under a new company), and although it was super interesting and neat to attend, the hype isn’t there. Which to me, makes sense. Social media and people in general hype things up so much it’s not even funny.

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VidCon made the *big* channels I tune into more personified, which is what I think is the original point of why VidCon was created. It’s sad that we need a conference to personify people that talk into a camera. But in the same way, YouTube creators are doing something the mainstream actors and news anchors aren’t: truly interacting with those who have made them who they are.

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My last big thing on this vacation was Disneyland. This was originally my only solo thing during this trip. The day there was what I needed to spark the kid in me again. I indulged in the fast pass system, and since I went alone, I only had to worry about what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and it was a great experience doing something like that alone. I talked with some pretty cool people while in the ride lines, and had a blast.

I went on about 12-15 rides, ate some dole whip to cool down, and even went up and down the Tarzan tree house, for nostalgic reasons. I had a perfect day there, and even got my first set of ears! I have them hanging on my wall now.

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This trip reminded me of who I am, and how strong I’ve become in myself, especially over the last handful of years. I am so grateful for this experience, and am so glad of the memories.

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Last Imaginary Life: An Interior/House Designer

So for the last 10 weeks, over every other Sunday, I’ve been sharing 5 imaginary or fantasy lives, from one of Aileen Xu’s videos/Artist of Life suggested journaling prompts.

This is my last one of this series. So if you haven’t checked out the other 4, go do so!

I’ve always loved decorating. I love moving things around. Ask anyone who has lived with me longer than 6 months. I’m always wanting to add things, move things, and anything in between.

Most of it, I believe stems from moving so much, growing up. Really, moving in general pretty frequently, as I’m not even 24 yet and I’ve moved 9 times! That’s on average about every 2-3 years!

No, I’m not a military brat either. I just have divorced parents.

I haven’t actually moved in 4 years now, and if all goes well, I’ll be making one big move with babe in the next 5-7 years, and I want it to be my last. Yes, I’m kind of tired of moving. Traveling? Nope. Moving? Yep.

But I do love decorating and re-styling a room. This is where I have this last imaginary life: being a home decorator.

I even have a cute little game on my phone that’s designing rooms for different houses, in different areas and imaginary peoples’ wants.

It’s very simple, and quite girly, but I’d love it! If there were actual money in it, I’d go after it. Maybe I should look more into it, like I am about some other things, including some of my other imaginary lives!

If you’ve been following along, what are 5 of your dream lives? How can you possibly implement them into reality during this life? Do you think (or even see) you could even do one as a full time life?

Foodie FriYAY: Crockpot Lasagna (gone slightly wrong)

So earlier this week, I attempted a lasagna roll recipe that would cook in the crock pot. It didn’t go as planned, but I did make instead just a lasagna bake in a crock pot. Here’s the journey.

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This is 100% the last time you’ll see this pot. It went up in flames not too long after this picture. But anyway, boil some water, add some seasoning and oil, break your lasagna in half (both in how much is in the 1 lb box, and in length, like you might do for spaghetti and kids), and cook to the box’s demands.

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While you have your lasagna noodles cooking, chop up any veggies (I KNOW TOMATO IS A FRUIT….DRINK KETCHUP THEN AS A SMOOTHIE THEN. DO IT.) and cook your protein of choice (or not…I’m not in charge of you).

While you’re at it, pour a drink. Because this is where it went ALL WRONG FOR ME, so it may do the same for you. If it goes wrong, you have a drink. If it goes right, you have a drink.

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I don’t like broadcasting failures, so here’s what happened after things went wrong, and I just went f*ck it and changed it into a casserole dish before I burned the whole place down with the pot that caught fire (YES I KNOW HALF OF IT WAS MY FAULT, FOR CATCHING ON FIRE lol, don’t judge me haha).

I took the lasagna noodles, layered it, put riocotta cheese, then my veggies, then my meat, and repeated the process until I ran out of it all. It became like 3 good layers. Oh, add sauce as you wish as well.

After it looks something like this, finish the sauce and add shredded cheese. I took a 3 cheese Italian blend. Make it look like this:

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Then, for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how your crock pot handles the high setting, and how crispy you like that top layer of cheese), cook it on high.

Serve like you would regular lasagna, and save the rest (if you have any).

This can serve 2 people for 2-5 meals, depending on hunger levels, and what it’s paired with (salad, dessert, other sides), so take that as you will.

Have you tried a crock pot lasagna dish? How did you like it? Did you do anything different than I did? Share with me, so I can try it as well!

If you have any tips to do the little rolls, TELL ME YOUR WAYS below.

Take Care Tuesday: How I Planned My Summer

I have one heck of a summer planned. I want to share my journey on how it came about, and how I planned (well, my end of) it all. Look below on my monthly outlook, and I’ll share month by month, what I have currently planned. I have some tentative plans, that I want to wrap up by the middle of May or so, that’s really happening during my June trip to CA.

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June is totally my busy AF month. I’m taking a 2 week vacation from work (well, my “day” job. I’ll still have stuff planned for here during that time, plus creating stuff from these 2 weeks, for content). I’m half the envy for June at work, since I’m doing a cross-country trip, let alone for 2 weeks.

Backstory: my grandparents asked me back in the fall, if I wanted to visit Yosemite with them, as I’ve hardly seen the states. They didn’t have any concrete plans outside of doing it when my mom was also off, near the summer. Of course I said yes! Awhile later, some other things fell into place, on both of ours end, and they asked how long I wanted to be out there, so they could plan out the airfare. Grandpa always finds good deals, so I told them I wanted to be out till a Monday, since I’m off Mondays and Tuesdays, and it’d make things easier.

We crafted a 14 day plan, with 2 days of flying, both on Mondays. Since then, I’ve added some stuff, and have others in mind, keeping in mind of what some other family members might want to do, which is my focus for May.

Other than the 2 days of flying, there’s 3 hard days in Yosemite, VidCon (which is always up to the day, what we do), a solo date to Kevin Hart and Disneyland, plus whatever last few things come about.

PSX_20180424_045949July mellows out, since June will take so much out of my vacation time from my “day job”, plus I have my wisdom teeth extraction set into stone now.

I have a Panic! concert that was so impromptu, it’s not even funny. And taking off for it, was so fitting for my wisdom teeth surgery. It’s a very basic month. I’ll also be trying to do something with my step-sister and dad for their birthdays.

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August is also gonna be a chill month, but come September, I’ll have some more stuff coming along.

I have a long awaited concert as well, which I planned before Panic!, which will be fun. That’s really all the plans I have. I’m sure I’ll need more me time to unwind from everything, plus the struggle of working full weeks again, off and on.

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September is my birth month, and even though I’ll be working (probs) on my birthday, I already have 2 things planned.

My dad and I have been doing Renaissance faires off and on for years now, going to the same one up until this year. This year, we’re going to the one on the other state. This year, I’m going to drag babe along again. This will be a first for all of us. My step-mom might even come along, so double date much?

Then, I have plans *hopefully* just for babe and I to do a full moon tour for a wolf reserve, a couple weeks later, for a wolf reserve an exit or two prior to where we will get off for the Renaissance Faire. It’ll be an evening tour/chill session, to hear them all howl at dusk. I’ve been having a calling to visit a reserve for awhile now, and I believe this will be a cure.

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Of course, I have to share with you, the fact that I’m marking how long till each thing happens. This is all the stuff I have planned, and as of this morning, how long it is until they happen. It’s just a free app for countdowns.

I’ll send my mom screenshots like this every so often, as she gets excited for the June trip. I haven’t seen my mom’s side of the family since 2014, and that was only my maternal grandparents and mom.

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Of course, the next most important part is, thanking those who take care of you. My grandparents paid for half of my June trip, easily. I don’t know what they spent on it, but I did spend a pretty penny on my end, and I couldn’t have done what I will do, without them. And that’s just speaking on this trip.

I’m staying with my mom for the other days I’m out there, and not somewhere, so she deserves thanks as well. I have hidden gems in these cards for them, plus wherever I can manage to spoil them during the trip, I will.

I’ll be adding thank you notes, as I finalize the rest of my plans for the summer.

So what are your plans for the summer?

Self Care Sunday: 5 Lives Prompt #2

This is the 2nd of my 5 part series of my 5 imaginary lives prompt. Two weeks ago, I shared my love for wolves. Didn’t read it? Go read it! This one is about my love of a hobby I’ve had since I was a child: photography.

My maternal grandfather had a printing business for “old” film. I believe they sold cameras as well, but I couldn’t tell you for sure. Between my grandfather’s eye on photography, my dad also had his own freelanced style of photography. Both of these men taught me a lot of what I know.

Recently, I’ve gotten back into photography, and got a nice, but starter, camera last summer, to start this old hobby I had started in my childhood. in the last half of last year, I did a good handful of photography endeavors, from a bridal shower, plus a bachelorette album, and a mother-and-infant holiday shoot.

I would love to make it a freelance job. I have done some Skillshare classes, to help with my editing skills, and making it easier on me, as I am in the middle of the actual photo shoots themselves. (I have a link to get 2 months for free on Skillshare. You’re welcome!). I also love looking at others’ pictures, as I can get ideas as well.

My favorite thing about photography, is that I can totally suck at drawing, and STILL be an artist. It’s one of my favorite creative outlets, and I’m so happy that I’m dusting off my skills. I’ll talk about another creative outlet in another 5 imaginary lives.

I’ve been continuing my skills, by taking pictures on both my phone and my camera, when I went to Pittsburgh with my dad over Easter weekend (shameless blog post insert here). All the pictures are my own on that header, plus from that same time on insta.

During this summer, I’ll be doing a bunch of traveling, so it’ll be a perfect excuse to whip out my camera and get on the photography scene. Especially since my first big trip includes Yosemite, VidCon, and Disney.

One of these days, I’ll start my journey of video-film, and I’ll definitely take you all (who want to watch) along with me. That’ll be my next formal move.

I am so glad that I started this series, and am sharing it with you all. This exercise is such a good way to get back into yourself, plus remind yourself to be creative, and imagine what other things you can do either in your free time for fun, or turn something into a side hustle, or something you might be able to work up to a full job with. What is another (or a few) of your imaginary lives?

Does anyone know of any good websites I can keep/upload my work, by album? I would like something more professional than Insta and Facebook. Speaking of, follow my insta though (shameless plug).