Dec 30, 2014


Twelve or fifteen years ago, Santa brought me these awesome walkie talkies. I loved them so much - several channels, a decent range, and a whole new world of possibilities for my childhood spy games. For years after that, we'd pull the walkie talkies out on Christmas and try to find other people that had them (thinking that kids would get them as presents). I don't even know if they still sell walkie talkies for kids, but I'm pretty sure I still have mine somewhere. Part of me wants to pull them out and play with them. Most of me realizes that the channels would be silent. I'm not too sure how I feel about that.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a wonderful 2015!
Much love,

Dec 29, 2014

Travel Guide: Aransas Princess #208

So the other day, I graduated from college. (I'll stop mentioning that one of these days, but right now, I'm just really excited.) With my grandfather visiting and my childhood best friend coming to town for the weekend, plus the gorgeous weather that South Texas threw at us, we decided to not stay at our house. Lovely friends of ours own several condos, both on Padre Island and in Port Aransas, and they let us stay at the wonderful condo at the Aransas Princess.

I'd like to make a note and say that I had plans to walk in and take pictures... but I left my camera with my mom so that she could use it at graduation (I'm not sure why I didn't just make my friends take it and hand it off to Mom...). Most of these pictures were taken at the end of the stay, so there are a lot of missed opportunities. I'll either edit this post or upload a new one when I get more pictures.

Now, a little background. The Jauers are some of my favorite people, so I'm biased... but trust me on this one. This condo rocks. It rocks so much that I have to gush about it. Also, I have pictures (LOTS of pictures), so you can judge it for yourself... but keep in mind that if you're trying to get the feeling for what the condo is actually like, listen to this while you read.

First of all, let me note that the owners of this condo book through VRBO - #553716 - and when you book this condo, you get THIS condo (no worries of getting switched out for something not as awesome). It's on the second floor, with a wonderful view of the cascading pool, the boardwalk, dunes, and (the best part) the waves. The sun doesn't directly hit the balcony, so you can stay out there all day - watch the day break and dusk fall - without ever having an annoying glare.
I stayed there December 12 - 17, 2014. After the stressful school semester, it was beyond perfect to open both doors facing the balcony (thank heaven for screen doors) and hear the waves crashing all day long. The weather was beautiful, with temperatures in the upper sixties to mid seventies. The cascading pool isn't heated, which meant that no one was in it... even better for the view!
This condo is completely remodeled and feels luxurious. You walk in and instantly realize that pictures don't do it justice. One wall is entirely mirrors, which is always kind of fun. I so often went looking for a full length mirror (which is actually in the master bathroom), but realized that the entire living room/hallway is one. It was great. There's a closet full of beach things - folding chairs, towels, a couple pool noodles... just fun stuff. The hallway going straight leads you into the kitchen, dining space, and living area. Both bedrooms are to the right - the first one (with a queen sized bed and bunkbeds) is off the kitchen, along with a bathroom. The master is off the living area.
Note - those blankets are SO comfortable! There's a basket on the other side with wine corks in it. We might have added a couple to it... (:

The owners keep the condo stocked with coffee supplies, as well as table settings for eight (this is complete table settings. There's more of almost everything). Also, cabinets held paper plates and plastic cups, which we used the first night to avoid doing dishes or running the dishwasher. You can cook in the condo - they have pans, a toaster, and even a pizza tin! We, well, didn't. My favorite pizza place is right down the road, so we got takeout the first night. The rest of the time, we either had leftovers, meals from Snoopy's Pier / Doc's (more about that later), sandwiches, or cheese and pepperoni on crackers. The fridge/freezer has an ice maker (as does the wet bar... I opened it once thinking it was a very tiny dishwasher and was VERY confused. Then I found the real dishwasher... right in front of my face) and filtered water. A pizza box DOES fit in the fridge. Three pizza boxes do too. Just saying. (:
The dining room area has a really nice glass table and adorable chairs. We ate there a couple times... the rest of the meals were consumed on the balcony. (I'm telling you - I spent a lot of time on that balcony!) Actually, that table is where I decorated my grad cap. :D The lights above it dim really nicely. The wet bar separates the kitchen and the dining room, which is pretty fun.
The living room has plenty of sitting room (as well as a fold out couch) and a great coffee table - we played dominos on it. (: The rug is crazy funky and I like it, and the chairs swivel - perfect for looking outside or at the people around you. There is, of course, a nice TV (honestly, though, my parents were the only ones that used it. When it was just the girls, we spent our nights on the balcony).
The master bedroom is gorgeous, with a sliding door to close it off from the living room (in addition to the actual bedroom door). It has its own access to the balcony, and since the shutters on both balcony doors operate individually, you can spend an early morning watching the sun rise while someone sleeps in total darkness. (We did it. It was 7am and I was betting it was around 5am.) The second bedroom has a queen sized bed and bunk beds, and is equally gorgeous. All of the beds are insanely comfortable. I promise, you want to feel this for yourself. It also has a TV (didn't use it) and a cute little desk that I managed not to get a picture of. The master bathroom is great - spacious, two sinks, a separate room for the toilet, and my favorite shower. There's also a closet with space to hang clothes and extra towels and stuff.
one of the few pictures I took right away!

The second bedroom has (like I mentioned before) a queen sized bed and bunk beds. It's really nice - closet, dresser, TV - and a window that looks out the front of the condo to even more beautiful scenery. It also has the wonderful shutters, so no worries on having a window at the front of the condo. For some reason, I don't have pictures of this room - except this one. I really like bunk beds.
I had coffee on the balcony every morning and every night. Once, I took my coffee and walked around the grounds with my girlfriends. The boardwalk has lights and a locked gate, which was really nice for three girls walking around after dark. The beach end of the boardwalk is between mile markers 18 and 19 - so right where you want to be if you're there for Spring Break. The Aransas Princess also has a heated pool and a hot tub that does the bubbly thing (or spa, whatever you want to call it). There are lots of places to sit and hang out, look out at the gulf, and just relax. The complex is staffed 24/7, and everyone I met was really nice and helpful.
Here are some more pictures, just in case you're not absolutely dying to visit already.
view from the room at daybreak | iPhone 5S picture
coffee on the balcony! 
the boardwalk at daybreak
the end of the boardwalk
the heated pool (the hot tub is off to the right)
the long boardwalk through the dunes
view from the balcony at night
my little Christmas tree, snowman, and Islander Grad wreath!
I really didn't want to stop taking pictures of the condo. There are so many of them that happened seconds after I called out, asking someone to please get out of my picture. I'm in one that I know of (MIRRORS!), and my mom is in another.

Even thought the weather got a little cloudy on the last day, it was still gorgeous. I don't think there's a bad time to visit this condo.

If you're interested in this condo or any of the other Isle Be Back condos, let me know, and I'll put you in touch with Lora. Check out the calendar and rates on VRBO. I would recommend this condo and the ones on Padre Island to family and friends in a heartbeat.

Dec 24, 2014

Travel Guide: The Cheesecake Factory

December 6th (I know, I know, I'm very late) was the first Saturday I was totally unburdened by school - classes were over, my finals were done, and there was a gluten free cookie exchange in San Antonio. I made German Chocolate Cake Cookies and made the two and a half hour drive. The weather was beautiful. I was a very happy cookie. 

My parents were going to go with me, but decided against it that morning. Meagan was taking the LSAT. People were busy, and I hadn't made plans past the cookie exchange. I ended up at La Cantera, since it was close and I really like it. The plan was to find a dress for graduation. Instead, I walked around for a little bit, got hungry, and then realized that I wanted a book if I was going to eat alone. Half an hour and two books from the awesome two-story Barnes & Noble later, I found myself searching for something to eat. 

There are a couple apps I use when I'm out and about in a different city, but neither were very helpful. It wasn't the apps fault - my internet was slow. Anyway, after some searching, googling, and decision making, I ended up at The Cheesecake Factory. I'd never been before, so I asked if they had a gluten free menu. The hostess told me that GF options were labeled right on the regular menu, so I took a little buzzer thing and a menu and waited. 

When I got a table (which was relatively soon after I sat down) and denied the possibility that I was waiting for someone, and ordered a drink and the gluten free, lunch version of the Four Cheese Pasta with chicken. I figured that since it was technically lunchtime, and I don't eat a lot anyway, a smaller lunch portion was better. There was also the whole "it's cheaper and I don't know if I'll even like it" aspect. Spoiler alert: I'm drooling just thinking about it and I just ate. 
I started reading THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and pretty much crossed my fingers that it didn't get sad before I got out of public. Then my food came. GUYS. 
It was really freaking good. There was enough chicken so that I wasn't just eating adult mac 'n cheese, and the cheeses all worked really well together. I was pleasantly surprised. I won't babble on about a bunch of things that make me sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I will definitely order it again. 

Oh, and then I got Starbucks for the ride home (no one should be surprised at that) (:

Dec 21, 2014


I did it. It's over. I'm done.
On 12-13-14, I crossed the stage and turned my tassel, signifying the end of 3.5 years of work towards undergrad degrees in Finance and Accounting. Before the actual stage crossing, they had us stand up for various achievements - cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. I knew that one would happen - they were nice enough to tell me that when they handed me my silver summa cord. Right after we sat down, they announced that 15 of us were graduating with a perfect 4.0. We stood. I got hit in the face with my tassel for the second time when I turned to look at my parents. That recognition kind of made all the hard work and insanity worth it.

Huge thanks to my mom and dad for more things that I could ever list (including talking me into taking accounting back in high school, making me dinner all the nights I studied - without expecting me to clean up afterwards, for listening to my rants about group work, for making me go to bed when it hit 2am, and for not making me go to bed during my one all-nighter). Thanks to Meagan and Travis, for being two of the best friends I could ever have, for making me laugh when I needed it, distracting me at all the right times, and for always having more confidence in me than I had in myself. Meg - I'm so glad we met our first semester and I'm so thankful that we wanted to be friends with each other as much as the other one did. Travis - when we met, I never expected you'd come to one of my graduations, let alone two. 
Hugs and kisses to my family, who constantly tell me they're proud of me, and major love to my grandfather, for coming to my graduation and promising to come to all future ones. 
Big thanks to my capstone group - one of two groups that I've really liked - and I hope we keep using the group chat for a long time. 
High fives to Chris (for putting up with me every semester of college and for all the things we did that made people think we were dating... and for keeping me sane(ish) for the past three years), Jess (for being part of both groups I liked, and for being awesome), Kaelyn (for being part of the first great group and for being excited about Christmas cards), and Caitlin (for being my buddy even when we lived five hours apart)... WE DID IT, Y'ALL. 
More high fives to Shelby (for being my first best friend and coming to graduation), Chelsi (for being my second best friend and reminding me to have fun), Clifford (for bantering with me since day 1... literally... and for convincing me to get an iPhone), Alex (for being my favorite Navy boy), Miranda (for being an awesome friend and fellow gluten free pizza and beach loving lady), Maverick (for making me be nice and also other reasons), Nick (because we went to high school together but weren't friends until much later), Cassie from work (for being the best person to replace me and for sharing gluten free cake with me), Shay (for being my lil sister), Jennifer (for taking me under your wing from the beginning), Chrissy (for being an awesome little and a great fellow big), Noel, Kelsey, Nikki, Logan, and Myranda (for being the greatest honors littles ever), K, Tyler G., Tyler H., and James (for being my littles from TM and not being weirded out by my crazy), Justin (even though you annoy the living daylights out of me sometimes), and to everyone I didn't mention right now. I have a lot of people to thank and if I love you, you know it.

That said, only the undergraduate degree is done. Grad school starts January 21st. I'm not going to think about that just yet. Instead, here's a bunch of pictures from graduation.

 And one of my absolute favorites: