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Doin’ Vegas with My Mom

If anyone knows Sheryl, you know what a real treat it was to experience her in her natural element in Viva Las Vegas. For a quick backstory, my mom’s perfect night is going to play keno and maybe even end up at the casino *GASP*. Scandalous that one. The best part is, she doesn’t drink and spends at tops $40 a night. She might correct me on this but seriously she plays on $20 for hours at a slot machine. She also thrives on the free pop you receive. Oh, that wild woman.

Anyway, I knew going to Vegas with my mom would be entertaining. She lets me do my own thang (drink *cough*) and she just goes off on her own little adventures. Sheryl ended up at the pool almost every morning before us youngins were even awake. She walked miles up and down the strip searching for her next “lucky slot” and enjoyed grabbing an ice cold Coke from the nearest McDonald’s. Things would be so much simpler if we just did Vegas like Sheryl, I swear. While we felt like near death on the plane ride home she was excited and full of energy.

Her most entertaining evening was at Ellis Island; it was a match made in gamble heaven. Not only did she find her “lucky slot”, she also discovered a CHEAP and delicious steak for dinner. She was on FIRE. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion or what but we about peed our pants laughing at her. To give you some context here, we were finally seated at a table to eat but Sheryl was nowhere to be found so we just waited for about 10 minutes. Finally, I went on the hunt for her and found her right outside of the restaurant on that lucky slot. She wasn’t done playing yet and brushed me away and said order whenever, she’ll be there soon. Ohhh kay, Sheryl, jeez. 

Finally, she arrived with guns blazing. I swear, if you didn’t know her, you would have thought she was drunk! But nope, just high on Ellis Island and winning. She couldn’t stop talking about her new Ellis Island rewards card and that slot machine. Then came the steak and omg, you would have thought it was her 21st Birthday. The woman was loving life.

Here she is on her “glory night” at Ellis Island. Look at her texting all of her friends!

Oh, she also got back to her hotel room at the same time or later than us every night! She was unstoppable!

If Sheryl was to write this post and give you her recommendations on the best places to go, I think this is what she would say…

Ellis Island, DUH

This is actually a total crowd pleaser. We go here every trip. It’s cheap, fun, great food, and… THEY HAVE KARAOKE!!! If you go, tell them that Sheryl sent you. I’m sure they know who she is – she’s one of the top fans for sure.

Bellagio 

One of the best places to bet on horses! One thing Sheryl taught me at a tender age was how to box those exactas and win those trifectas!

O’Shea’s 

This is where Sheryl played roulette for the first time and WON! They also have beer pong. It’s located right in the Linq area.

You can also grab a refreshing, cold frozen Bailey’s. Even Sheryl had one!

WINNING! With a side of soda.

MGM Grand

This was a place Sheryl wanted to take us through (I had never been in) so we HAD TO GO. Then, when we got there the hidden surprise of a real lion was gone. Sheryl was pretty disappointed in that. Here she is asking security where the heck that lion went : joy:

Harrah’s

This is where Sheryl stayed (and so did we one night). They have a pretty nice Keno setup and the rooms are pretty nice!!

It’s tradition to put $20 into the $1 slot machine when you get to the casino.

Margaritaville 

We love this place! Sheryl did too! Had one of her two alcoholic beverages of the trip there!

 

Fremont Street / Golden Nugget

I better throw this up on Sheryl’s list because she has stayed here before and really loved it!

I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other gems but maybe if we get lucky enough one day, Sheryl will highlight her Vegas favorites on this blog! Also, feel free to check out my Twitter account for the best of Sheryl in Vegas!

Until next time, Vegas! 

The Ultimate London Tour Guide

I feel like I’m taking on a lot to even begin writing this post. Once I got back home from our England and Ireland trip I quickly realized that London is probably my favorite city in the whole world. This is no shocker considering I’ve been obsessed with it since I could remember. I used to have aspirations of attending Oxford (get out of your laughs out now…) and I proudly hung the U.K. flag in my bedroom. I also watched What a Girl Wants religiously one summer and decided I would live that London life one day.

So it’s not a shocker that I feel like I’m unqualified to even write this post because I barely skimmed the surface of everything you can do in London. I’m already getting ready to book that plane ticket back there so I can go to all the places I didn’t have time for! I’m going to share with you what we did do along with other things we were told about but didn’t have the time to try! I’m also including all of the tips I learned along the way!

The London Tower

This is No. 1 for a reason. It was my favorite stop on our Day Tour of London and now I’m completely obsessed with the Tudor family. I just finished the book Three Sisters, Three Queens and if you’re into scandals (who isn’t?), I highly suggest reading up on this royal family. Everyone is familiar with King Henry VIII…well this is the place where he beheaded a couple of his wives. It’s a pretty spooky place. If it wasn’t a sunny day and full of tourists I’m not sure how long I would’ve lasted on the London Tower grounds.

Tip: Speaking of tourists, the place gets very, very busy. We even went during the off-season of tourism but it was on the weekend of Easter, which we quickly discovered they celebrate hardcore across the pond. Pretty much everyone has a long weekend and spends it with family. I would suggest getting there early (we went right after lunch) and getting in line for the Crown Jewels first. It seems like that is the place that fills up the quickest. We didn’t even get to see them because our tour guide said it would be at least a 45-minute wait, so we just explored all the other places.

But everything that we did see was amazing – the torture chamber, The White Tower, Ravens, it was all extremely interesting. It was hard to believe that the history you have been told happened on the same ground you were standing on.

 

London Eye

The London Eye is sort of one of those things you have to do as a tourist. Now, I will say it’s not easy on your wallet and the entire experience only lasts about 30 minutes, but it’s pretty cool! If you’re trying to budget, I think you could skip it. If you’re going all out, then definitely add this to your list of things to do!

Tip: Book your ticket in advance online and take caution that the place gets extremely busy and it’s a very congested area when it does. It was one of those times that I actually didn’t like all the people. There were SO MANY people it was bit annoying. We ended up going on one of the last rides around 7:30 pm and it cleared out so much that I highly recommend going later if you’re not into crowds of people. See pic below.

 

Buckingham Palace

One of Her Majesty’s homely abode… Buckingham Palace was so cool to see (even though I did feel like it was a bit smaller than I had anticipated, I for real thought it was Kensington Palace when we rolled up to it). We were supposed to go on the day that they did the Changing of the Guards (this is scheduled and doesn’t happen every day, so plan accordingly), but it ended up getting moved to the next day due to security. You know what, though? I think I liked it better the way that I saw Buckingham Palace because we went early in the morning around 8 am and there was barely anyone there! We could get all of the pics we wanted right up to the gate – which does not happen once the day gets going, that place gets really busy. Now, imagine it with the Changing of the Guards ceremony. Talk about a storm of people!

Tip: My tip here is like above, just get there early if you really want to spectate and maybe plan a different day to come back and watch the Changing of the Guards. I hear they play Katy Perry songs during it (seriously).

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral 

Did you know that this is where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married at?! You can literally walk down the “aisle” like she did! St. Paul’s Cathedral is breathtaking, it’s huge and full of so much art and history. We went on a guided tour that we purchased through Viator, but you can also go by yourself and rent a listening guide and walk through St. Paul’s on your own.

Tip: My only tip for this is if you are interested in going during an actual service, you can! Just check their schedule and join a Sunday service or a special chorus performance, I think they have those often.

 

Trafalgar Square

I loved Trafalgar Square, there is always so much stuff going on. We were there on Easter weekend and they were doing a free play for everyone. It’s a cool place to walk around and just hang out and admire all of the statues and architecture. If this tells you anything how cool it is; I had no idea we were in Trafalgar Square and I took like 150 pictures then realized where I was. There was so much to look at!

Tip: Grab some food and take it Trafalgar Square for a picnic!

 

Boat Ride on River Thames 

This is an easy way to see a lot of London in a fun way! Pro tips: You can use your Oyster card ( the same card you use for the train system) on some of the boats and I *think* all boats have food and drinks aboard. One we went on even had an option to have afternoon tea!

Tip: Try to go with a tour guide if you can (Viator has options) because then they will be able to point places out to you and tell you more history.

 

Westminster Abbey

This place completely took my breath away. I seriously felt like I had a spiritual awakening when viewing this masterpiece. It’s the grave to many extremely prominent humans who have graced this earth and it’s also a place where someone like Princess Diana has had her funeral held. I was standing in front of the door that they carried her coffin in and I remember watching that on TV when I was little. We were only able to view the outside, but it’s at the top of my list for the next London visit.

Tip: Go early! This is a busy tourist spot. The doors open at a different time each day, you can find the times here. The day we went, we were there around 8:45 – 9 am and there was hardly anyone around. Right around 9:15 I looked back at where we were and there was a huge line! It fills up quick, so I highly suggest going right when they open. It’s a place not to miss.

 

The Tower Bridge

View from The Tower of London

This is a place we didn’t get to visit (only saw it from afar) but I hear it’s really cool! You can walk at the top and walk over glass to see below!

Tip: Schedule your visit and book online ahead of time, this was partly why we weren’t able to visit because we couldn’t get in!

 

Visit London’s Oldest Wine Bar: Gordon’s

This was a place recommended to us by a friend and I’m so glad we were told about this gem! Grabbing a bottle of wine, or half (you can buy half a bottle!) then sitting outside on the large patio or if you’re lucky, find a spot in the inside, it’s an old cave-looking place. You’ll feel like you’re going back in time there. It’s fairly priced too, a glass is around 5 pounds and snacks are reasonable as well.

Tip: It gets pretty busy around 6 pm during the weekdays because of everyone getting off work and grabbing a drink. We went around this time and it was so busy that we had to make a makeshift table out of a lawn chair…  

 

British Museum & National Gallery Art Museum 

Sadly, this is one place that we tried to go to but the line was about 2 miles long (okay, that might be exaggerating just a tad) but it was so busy. The next time we’re in London, I’m waking up bright and early and getting my butt in line. This museum holds some of the most fascinating and rare things in the world – including the Rosetta Stone. This place is huge too, you probably won’t be able to see everything so map out your plan ahead of time.

Tip: All museums in London are free – YAY! They do, however, have tours and special events that you can pay to see and are usually still cheap!

Even though we were bummed about not being able to go to the British Museum, we just headed to the next museum we could find. That’s the beauty of them having free admission! You can go to all of them without spending a dime! We ended up walking through the National Gallery art museum, which did NOT disappoint! We saw art by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Leonardo, Monet, among many others.

 

London Olympic Stadium Tour

For all you Olympic fanatics, this one is for you! You can still visit the grounds of the 2012 Summer Olympics! The stadium is now home to West Ham United soccer team and the tour is a little focused on them but they do a great job of focusing on the Olympics too. The tour was so great, it’s a self-guided tour with a mobile device and headphones to listen to different parts of the stadium to highlight Olympic moments and to explain what it’s used for now.

Tip: For any swimmer fans, you can visit the pool but it’s not part of the stadium tour. The pool is just a short walk from the stadium and it’s now a rec center and gym so you’ll have to pay just 1 pound to get in and see it. They also have little peddling boats outside too! There’s randomly a lot to do around there and there’s a huge outdoor shopping center close by too.

 

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter

First, I just want to say one thing: If you are not a fan of Harry Potter, it doesn’t matter. This is still worth a visit. This tour was everything I thought it would be and MORE! I’ve visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando so I expected it to be similar but a bit on steroids. Well, it is! But even more intense than that! The tour will give you props galore (including major props like the house on Privet Drive, parts of the castle, and more). You will quickly see how much intricate detail the design team put into everything. Even books that will go unnoticed on stage have every detail imaginable. Another cool part: This is the same studio where the movies were actually filmed at too!

You could spend so many hours at this place. Just when you think you’re done with the tour you walk into a brand new section of the place. It’s amazing!

Tip: The Studio Tour is actually in Watford, so it’s about a 30-min train ride outside of London. You can book your train ticket in advance and once you get there, they have a Harry Potter double-decker bus to pick you up for a few pounds and it will bring you back.

 

Oxford Street

This place feels like the Europen Times Square! There’s a ton of shops and places to eat here. We spent an evening walking around here and then ate at Masala Zone, a popular Indian restaurant in London.

 

Isn’t London just a beaut?! 

I can’t wait to return.

Well, That Was Fun!

It’s been… 23 days since we’ve landed back in the states (did anyone else think I was going here or just me?)

I don’t even have my all of our pictures organized and I have strong ambitions to create one of those Shutterfly photo book things and a video from our adventures. But it’s been almost a month and I don’t even have all of my pictures loaded on Dropbox! Who knew this stuff would be so much work? Kinda reminds me of post-wedding. So many ideas, so much time, but so little motivation (because shows like The Handmaid’s Tale comes out and I can never say no to a happy hour…)

I’m feelin’ pretty ambitious today, though and I really want to share our trip to Europe. I’m going for tons of posts on here because I want to share everything (seriously, I took pictures of every meal I ate and made Brandon real embarrassed almost every time).

So to keep it somewhat short, here’s where we went and what we did in a nutshell and then I’ll go way more in-depth soon to come!

First stop: Minneapolis

No, really. Our layover was here and we boarded the plane to complete decadence. This was my first international flight and man do they treat you good! I was a kid in a candy store – you get food brought to you so many times (YUS), TONS of movie options (including brand new ones and Titanic, ahem), a warm washcloth to wash your face, and complimentary eye masks, earplugs, and headphones. WHAT. A. LUXURY. And we were in the cheapest seats avail. Can you tell it doesn’t take much to impress this princess? (Kidding)

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London!

Well, I’ve only waited my entire life to visit!!!!! I’m still shocked that I didn’t cry when we landed because I was so happy. London was incredible and I also need to be on the next flight out of the states to London ASAP. I can’t wait to return someday. The city is amazing and there’s so much to do, it’s the one place I really feel like I didn’t get to do everything – there’s just so much to see!

I will go way more in depth at a later time but I will tell you that The Tower of London was probably my favorite place to visit. I’m addicted to learning about the Royal Tudor family now. I’m reading a book that I’ll probably share later. Talk about scandal! I mean, King Henry VIII, amiright? Wowzas.

Also, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. They took my breath away!

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Southampton, England

You will quickly find out this turned into a personal Titanic experience… We went here because it’s a such a prominent place for the Titanic. It’s where Rose boards… Okay, so I know she’s not real but it really was where elites like Mr. Andrews boarded and the White Star Line headquarters was here as well. This was a huge docking spot for Titanic and a ton of the workers were from Southampton. We got to stay in the White Star Hotel, a restaurant/hotel that was once where some of the Titanic passengers stayed the night before their fateful journey began. Down the street from our hotel was the hotel where many of the first class passengers stayed (like Mr. Andrews), and across the street is an infamous bar called The Grapes where a couple passengers missed their boarding time from drinking and wasn’t able to board at all (lucky for them).

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Back to London… AKA Harry Potter Tour!!

Oh yes, this happened. And it was magical!!!! The whole entire thing was a pinch-me experience.

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What’s a trip to Europe without a soccer game?! I’m proudly a newfound Hotspur fan now.

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Ireland!!!

We flew into Cork, rented a car (that was fun), and drove in Cork, to Cobh, then Kinsale where we stayed a couple nights and let me tell you, that is one postcard-perfect-looking town!

Important to note: Cobh was the final boarding stop for Titanic (see the boarding dock below).

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Ireland: Blarney Castle, Fanore, Cliffs of Moher, and places in between

The Blarney Castle was one of my favorite places to visit on the entire trip! I kissed the stone!!! We stayed in Fanore which is where I’m going to retire. We also ate at the famous Durty Nelly’s along the way!

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Inis Oirr AKA Islands off the west coast of Ireland

Oh do I have a story for YOU! This island was great, about 200-some people reside here so when we got dropped off we found a pub! I had a few Guinnesses and… it didn’t end the best for me. Aparently there’s a lot of iron in a pint of Guinness and I’m pescatarian so iron isn’t really something I’m high in, so I’m blaming that! ; )

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There is SO much more from where this came from but I just overdid it on blogging for one day and I’m now pooped.

Ni night!! 🙂

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Are We Really Empowering Women?

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I feel like I’m beginning a Carrie Bradshaw-inspired article by making the title up there a question. I had an experience the other day that made me think about feminism and empowering women. A millennial women’s blog reached out to my work interested in featuring our product and sharing tips on trip planning – keep in mind, coming from a female because it’s a women’s blog. I thought it was pretty cool! Then realized they were fishing for a woman CEO and I’m the only girl at my work so I never heard back.

It made me disappointed that a place whose purpose to empower women had zero interest in sharing a woman’s perspective that lacked a big title next to their name. I totally understand that getting a CEO for an article is way better than just a random person, but is it really when it’s a female talking to other females?

But it made me realize that we all do this even if we really want to raise women up. Think about it, if you had the opportunity to take a CEO out for coffee or the behind-the-scenes hard worker, you would take the CEO because it’s a “CEO”. However, many strong-willed women aren’t the one who’s the face of a company, many are secret power workers. Stay at home moms for example… that job is a tough one. But where’s the excitement towards them?

I mean, I do it too. I automatically turn my head at what looks like an “average person” but if that’s how we work this world, we have a problem on our hands. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Am I making a big deal out of nothing or am I on to something?

What’s Goin’ On? 3 Things to Do This Weekend

I’M BACK! I’M BACK! I’M BACK!

February got a little dicey at the beginning for blogging then I got super busy and had crazy things happen so I just decided to give up on the shortest month of the year. Which, by the way last month was the craziest, fastest month of my life by far (then I was quickly reminded it’s the shortest month of the year so this is probably accurate for everyone)…

Anywho, I have a couple great posts lined up but I just wanted to craft one today to let you know that I’m still alive and kickin’. I wanted to share a few random tidbits and things that I think you should know about. This was actually pretty much my February in a nutshell but decided it could be a “What Should I Do This Weekend?” post.

So here’s a few ideas:

Read Gone Girl 

This technically should go in a separate “February Books” blog post but as you can tell from where this post started, I didn’t really get to reading like I did in January. However, I did read Gone Girl, and yes, I read it in a few days tops, I had to finish it! I never watched the movie so it was all fresh for me. Here’s what I will say about the book; it wasn’t bad but I expected way more. I kept reading because I was waiting for the mind-blowing end and I didn’t really feel like I got it. I won’t give away any spoilers so don’t worry, but I really thought there would be a crazier ending. Don’t get me wrong, it was crazy but I thought there would be an alternative ending from what happened.

After I finished the book I watched the movie and it was good! Crazy seeing Rosamond Pike playing Amy, I only know her as Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice!

I would love to hear what you thought of Gone Girl! Most people would rate in their top books that they couldn’t put down. I’m waiting to read The Woman in Cabin 10, as I hear it’s pretty similar on the thrill scale.

Watch movies fo free at fmovies.se 

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I sure hope I don’t get in trouble for this one but this was hands down one of the best internet finds, ever. The website fmovies.se lets you watch any movie you want online! Even those in theaters! Say goodbye to your productive weekend with this site. I literally watched back-to-back movies one day. Passengers, which was good. Arrival which was super, super confusing. And Ms. Sloane which at first I wasn’t sure about it but after thinking about it I recommend it, especially if you like shows like Scandal.

Plan an “Experience” 

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THIS IS FLIPPING AWESOME. Airbnb just launched a new thing called Experiences where you can book actual adventures instead of a place to stay. You get to connect with local experts and they will create experiences for you whether it’s planning a horseback riding trip in Rome, run and fitness in London, and my favorite: party like a disco queen in L.A.

I mean, seriously! How. Cool. Is. That?

 

I know it’s only Tuesday, but whatcha doin’ this weekend? Did you realize that time saving starts this Sunday?… I can’t believe it either. It’s already almost Spring ya’ll!!

 

 

The Worst Job I’ve Ever Had (Part 1)

I’m about to go rogue on this post, ya’ll. It’s Thursday night and we’re going to a concert that doesn’t start until 11 and I’m freaking out about how tired I will be tomorrow. HOW OLD HAVE I GOTTEN? So what am I going to do in the meantime? Write this post with some liquid courage by my side.

Everyone has that one job that was just bad. Well, I have two. I’ll start out with the not as bad one AKA “Part 1”.

It was the end of my first semester freshman year in college. I hadn’t had a job since coming to college so I was down for some money! I also didn’t have a car in town so I didn’t have a million opportunities coming my way. However, one of my friends mentioned that she worked at an office downtown at night and just calls people (so basically it was a call center) and it paid A LOT, like we’re talkin’ like $12-14/hour, and that was a fortune compared to 2007-’08 minimum wage of around $7-something. I can’t remember the exact amounts here but let’s just say this job paid a ton more than what I was used to. (Just wait till you hear how I spent these doll hairs…!)

Anyway, I was definitely going to try and get this job. So I went to interview and it was downtown Lincoln in the Gold’s building (found out later it was walking distance but my little freshman legs still found a way to hitch a ride every night). Here was the job. Are you ready for this?

Here’s what you do at this job.

  1. Sit in front of a computer with a headset. Okay, I got this. That’s easy.
  2. The computer will call someone automatically and you better be ready to read that script verbatim in front of you requesting money for a politician or political matter that has to do with something independent and/or progressive.

That’s all you did. Basically just calling people all over the country and asking for money. Guess what? On one of my interviews I had to call someone, read the script in front of me, and by golly, this person actually gave me money! WTH. Come to find out this would never happen again…

None the less, they hired me on the spot. EF YEAH.

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So I worked for about two weeks following. It was awful, you guys. I do love talking but I’m not the biggest fan of talking on a phone, especially to people who don’t even want me calling them! To make matters worse I have to ask for money. Ah, I hated it so much.

Looking back now I do wish I tried harder. Not because of the job but because of what they were doing. I remember some politician guy doing a live video conference with everyone because the team helped raise so much money for him. For all I know, it could’ve been Ralph Nadar! I dnk! But everyone was freaking out about it but I had no idea what was going on.

Anywho, I was bad and did not like the job. I just didn’t fit in and I was becoming exhausted having to work every night. My last night there the manager pulled me away about an hour in my shift, took me in the office and agreed this just might not be a good fit, but to let me decide what I wanted to do. It was also time for winter break and I was leaving to go back to Omaha for a few weeks and work at my beloved PacSun. She let me wait it out and give her an answer when I was ready.

Side note: I worked at PacSun for a couple years and it was my first job where I actually called my coworkers my best friends so I had high expectations going into this Lincoln establishment.

A week or so into winter break PacSun job I realized, ya know? Why work somewhere you hate? I know what it’s like to work somewhere you actually love so this job in Lincoln just wasn’t worth it.

So I called my manager during my lunch break and she sounded almost as relieved as I did that I wasn’t coming back. So she set up my check to be sent my way. I hadn’t worked long enough to get more than one check at this point. But here’s the catch… I get my check and it was a good chunk of change. So what do I do?

Purchase a roundtrip flight to Arizona to see my best friend and book tickets to my first (of many) Lil’ Wayne concerts in Phoenix. OMG my mom was so pissed that I just spent all my money like that. Looking back though, it was worth every single penny, I still think of that trip all the time!

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So moral of the story: Try new things, you might hate it, but at least you can get Weezy tickets out of it!

Best of all: Once I returned from Arizona, almost a week to the day: Lil’ Wayne announced he was coming to Omaha. ROUND TWO!!!!!!!

Fate has a funny way of working, huh?

Also, shout out to all the workers at that place – they were super nice people who really cared for what they were working for. I wish I could remember the name of the place, but it’s somewhere in the Gold’s building. Not sure if they’re still around but if this sounds like your line of work – go find them!

Trying to Keep Yourself in Control When Nothing Makes Sense

Oh man.

Ugh.

I no likey.

I know I’m not alone on this and I hate that I’m even writing a post about this to share with the world but I know I’m not alone but man guys, life has been a little rough the past few days, huh? I can’t read Twitter without my blood boiling, Facebook is actually (how? I have no idea) but not horrible, but still nothing to run away with just yet. It’s still crappy. Then I turn to Insta and things start to make sense again. I look through Snapchat and my god, people are living and… wait, are they smiling too?

Okay, so not everything is falling apart like I thought.

*Apple watch dings* New CNN article: “Trump… wall… abortion…” Omg.

Aaaaand I’m back to the beginning again.

This past election was ROUGH, everyone knows that, even people across the world who aren’t U.S. citizens. Then once the dust (sorta) settled, things started to get normal again. Then Mr. Trump began presidency. Things started to feel warm and fuzzy again once we marched in the streets with love for the Women’s March. Then, BAM! Horror struck. In so many unimaginable ways. Is this what it felt like back in the day when history was totally backward*? (I’m lookin’ at you slavery, pre-LGBT freedom of marriage, that was sadly only over a year ago, and the KKK walking around like they owned the place (still do)). *It’s still backward

I truly feel scared that my brothers and sisters are going to begin suffering unlike they have ever suffered before. AND THEY ARE ALREADY SUFFERING.

This world is cruel, man. And this is coming from a white kid who’s had everything handed to them in life. I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND to its fullest extent how bad it can be and I’m PISSED.

I’m so mad and I want to scream from the rooftops.

But here’s the thing, I don’t know how to feel because 1.) I need to do my duty and stand up for what is right (but this is consuming and makes you mad and irritable almost all the time) or 2.) Find the positivity in life and don’t let everything consume you (but, hey that’s what I get to do because I’m WHITE). But then there’s the perfect balance:

1.) Always care about what’s going on and pay attention. 2.) Speak up when something is wrong and speak for those who don’t have a voice. 3.) Shine in your community and change lives right in front of you (Holla, TeamMates! Which everyone should join).

I can tell you one thing that I’ve learned. YOU can make a difference. I hateeee how people are against politics being shared on social media, yes, to an extent be kind and don’t share #fakenews but ya gotta stay WOKE, know what’s going on. It’s so important and you can really make a difference. Just look at what’s already happening around us! A crappy Nebraska senator resigned because of a Tweet he retweeted about the Women’s March. That happened because of the march! And go ahead and beat me up for calling him crappy, but he is. He wants to talk about morals and thinks he knows what’s best for people but yet he can’t keep his personal life together. Also, how did he get his job basically taken away when Trump earned presidency from Tweets? Ah, that’s just a discussion for another time I suppose.

Okay, this rant is over. I was never going to revert to politics on this blog but writing this out makes me feel better and connected with people. Who knows, I might even get super uncomfortable about this and remove it. But until then, here it is.

I love all of you human beings! Let’s make this world a better place.

P.S. When is the next Women’s March?

2016: The Year of Wine, Britney Spears, & Unforgettable Times

I think it’s because I’m getting older but HOW IN THE WORLD IS IT 2017? I don’t understand how the world keeps moving so quickly. It feels like 2002 was five years ago and don’t even get me started on how college feels like it was last month (really five years ago). HOLY CRAP.
Anyways, one of my fave bloggers, Helene In Between, put together an “End of Year Review” link-up and I had to participate! So here it goes (in no particular order):

top-travels-of-2016

1.  Driving around Laguna Beach while blasting Hilary Duff’s “Come Clean”. (And making Brandon super annoyed.)

laguna-beach-stephen

2. Experiencing NCLS games at Wrigley Field. GO CUBS GO!

cubs-games

3. Singing “Friends in Low Places” in front of the actual songwriter of that song!!!!

Now this one I will never live down. This was straight up destiny. Here we are just hanging and listening to music in Nashville at the Winners/Losers bar (can’t remember which one we were at), and of course, I want to go up there and sing karaoke with the singer, then he nonchalantly says, “That guy is one of the songwriters of “Friends in Low Places”. UM WUT. So I sang with the other singer in front of him!!! Then I was able to tell the songwriter (Earl Bud Lee) that I’ve always butchered the lyrics “slip on down to the oasis” to “old aces”. *facepalm*

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4. Playing on the same piano as Tom Cruise in Top Gun at San Diego’s famous place, KC BBQ (also from Top Gun). 

piano-top-gun

5. Falling in love with the Las Vegas High Roller

I didn’t think I would fall for such a huge tourist attraction but this thing is so much fun! Here’s the thing: You get in there for a happy hour and you’re of course about to have a great time!

Here I am sad that I have to leave…

happy-hour-high-roller-vegas

6.Visiting the Unsinkable Molly Brown’s house!!

Those who know me know I loveeee the history of the Titanic, so visiting the famous “Unsinkable” Molly Brown’s house in Denver, Colorado was quite the experience! I learned a lot about her and grew in more love with her story. She was a huge activist for women’s rights and votes among her other philanthropic work. Highly suggest checking it out if you’re in the area. Beware though, the house is old and doesn’t have air conditioning so if it’s hot out… be prepared!

visiting-the-molly-brown-house

7. Visiting the Oklahoma City Memorial

I actually visited this place shortly after the attack when I was younger and this summer I had the privilege to see the memorial they have built. It’s beautiful and so peaceful. It’s a must-see if you’re in the OKC area.

oklahoma-city-memorial

8. Touring the Shedd Aquarium solo

2016 is the year I stopped being afraid to do things myself. I’m no longer afraid to go see a movie by myself, so I thought what the heck when I wanted to visit another museum in Chicago’s museum campus. IT WAS AWESOME!

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9. Seeing the one and only Britney Spears!

There’s really not much left I can say about this other than OMG. SHE’S FANTASTIC AND MY CHILDHOOD WAS THANKING ME!

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fave-posts

A Weekend in Chicago…

The Day I Became a Wine Expert – My personal favorite of the year!

20 Reasons Why 2016 Wasn’t So Bad

The best recipe of the year goes to… Vegetarian Buffalo Cauliflower Wraps!!!!

Visiting the Chicago Field Museum (I hope to do more posts like this in 2017 #Travel)

The Best Part of “Back to School” Season – These were my favorite photos of the year AKA my only photo shoot sesh thanks to Brandon’s photog skills 😉

Goodbye, 25. Here’s to another year!!

San Diego and L.A. Recap

The Stars I Saw in California

and the one, the only! “The Weirdest Weekend of My Life”

Welp, cheers to 2017! I can’t wait for this year. I am pumped for this year you guys.
Helene in Between

‘Twas the Night After the Holidays…

2017

Oof. The days we all dread. The Holidays (Christmas and New Year) are officially over and it’s time to get back to reality. My decorations are put away and I’m really sad about it. I never realize how bare this apartment can be without a Christmas tree taking up an entire corner with lights and bling. I feel like our living room just went from full-on “winter candy land” to “simplistic spring”. No joke, there’s flowers and white colors everywhere and I feel like it should be spring now. Too bad next week 8 degrees tomorrow… EEK.

This holiday season was an unforgettable one, we spent almost an entire week living in a small Nebraska town. Working from home and bowling at a bowling alley where you keep your own hand-written scoring!! NO JOKE. More on that in a bit.

Starting on Friday (12/23). Brandon and I started our own little tradition where we spend the holiday alone together. We made pasta, drank wine, and shared presents. It was great and nice to hang out before the madness of the week began!

img_6878On Christmas Eve, I was back home for the first time in two years. My fam has an amazing tradition of day drinking so you know I participated! It was so much fun and still managed to get home in time for dinner, fun, and sober up in time for bed. Which was good because we had an early A.M. wake-up call for a drive to western Nebraska!

Christmas day we headed to Paxton and holy crap it was just like tornado weather outside! We had to pull over a few times because it was nuts outside. Very, very odd weather. It definitely did not feel like Christmas day. There was one point lightning struck close to us and it was the loudest boom! It made it feel real ominous with slow Christmas jams playing too. NO THANK YOU.

But, alas, we made it!

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Just in time for Christmas celebrations at the bar! Yes, you read that right… at a bar! If you’re ever in Ogallala, Nebraska, might I suggest stopping at the Underpass?

It was another great day full of family and fun!

The rest of the week, we worked from Paxton and spent the nights having more fun! One night, we wanted to go bowling and got shut down by two separate bowling alleys in surrounding towns because of bowling leagues. So we had to drive an hour away to a tiny town to go bowling and what an experience it was! YOU HAD TO WRITE YOUR OWN SCORING! No computers here, folks! It was nuts! I’ve been bowling my entire life and never had the chance to keep my own hand written score, it is an experience every bowler should have at least once lol.

Here’s how it works: You get a projector screen to write the score on and it projects it up on the screen over the lane! MIND (BOWLING). See what I did there?

small-town-bowling

My mind was about to get even more mind blown because I realized that Colorado was extremely close to where I was. I had no idea. I promise I passed Geography but I didn’t realize that the panhandle was that close to me! We could literally see lights from Colorado and even went to a restaurant for dinner in Colorado! WHAAAT.

small-town-bar-colorado

visiting-ovid-colorado

Next up: NYE!

For New Years we went to Kearney… Yup, Kearney. And it did not disappoint! I have to say Kearney is pretty fun and have great bars. We went to the Stars/Storm hockey game (Brandon’s idea) haha and might I add that we had glass seats – BOOYA! We also hit up Mac’s Creek tasting room (last wine of 2016)!!!

macs-creek-winery

macs-creek-tasting-room-kearney

stars-storm-kearney

Then headed to dinner at the one, the only, Chicken Coop, and then bar hopping! Bonus: The close bars at 1am in Kearney, which was very good for my liver.

We also decided that every new years eve should be spent in a small (or smaller) town! Next year… any recommendations?

Which brings me here… Watching Harry Potter for the 4th time in two days (Thaks Freeform channel). Getting ready to head back to work tomorrow and crush 2017!

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20 Reasons Why 2016 Wasn’t So Bad

As 2016 unraveled before our eyes, we felt all kinds of feels, some bad, some really bad, and some were just downright awesome (yup, awesome)! Unfortunately, the negative tended to lead the race this year, but in the midst of the grossness that 2016 gave us, there was a lot of greatness.

In fact, throughout 2016, I kept channeling my inner Countess Luann.

Me in 2016 to just about everything:

raw

The good news is that there was a lot of cool in 2016. Not only did you just live through another year but the world did change in great ways. It might be hard to see it, but I promise, this list will help you see the silver lining in what seems to be one of the most brutal years of our lives.

1. The amount of homeless veterans has been cut in HALF!

Read more about this here.

2. AIDS is declining!

Read about it here and here.

This fund alone has saved 20 million lives!

3. People rallied together for a homeless teen who biked 6 hours to get to college classes.

Read about it here!

4. Texas inmates broke free from their jail to save a prison guard.

Read about it here.

5. A group of people found out that their Uber driver had a son in the Olympics so they rallied together to send him to Rio.

Read about it here!

uberhill

6. An all-female pilot crew landed a plane in a country that women aren’t even allowed to drive in!

Yay! Women empowerment! 

7. One man donates his kidney to his college friend and all eyes were leaking.

8. Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge that swept Facebook in 2015, scientists were able to make break-through discoveries.

Check it out!

9. Cell phones are helping to lift hundreds of thousands of Kenyans out of poverty.

Read about it!

10. Woman with cancer wins 6 games of Jeopardy and donates winnings to cancer research.

jeopardy

“What is… awesome?”

11. Have you seen the priest and imam Amazon commercial? They are actually BFFs IRL!

Read about it.

12. Remember the first bit of 2016 good news I shared? Well, homelessness in total is down!

Great news!

13. THIS man.

Read his story.

awesome-guy

14. A high school creates a yearbook in braille for a blind student.

Check it out! 

15. This school raised money for new shoes for a student!

Watch it here.

16. Boy wearing plastic bag meets his hero!

17. Black man befriending KKK members has led to 200 people quitting the organization!

Awesome! < Read it!

18. Subway passengers come together to prepare anxious man for his job interview.

Check it out!

19. High school student gives new shoes to other student being bullied.

These stories get me every time! Watch the feel-good clip here.

20. Refugees had their own team in the Olympics!

Check out more about them here!

refugees-olympics

This barely cuts it when it comes to how many awesome things happened in 2016, but to be honest, I was lazy and realized that 2017 is literally a day away and this post needs to get out and make people feel good!

Want more good news like this? Here are a couple positive sources:

  1. Sign up for the Goodnewsletter! This is my favorite. Each week, Branden Harvey will send you inspirational and uplifting stories.
  2. Check out the GoodNews Network!

Cheers to 2016 and cheers to making 2017 better. I saw a quote today that said, “2017 will be different. Not because it’s inevitable. Because we say so.” Veronica Roth.

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