hello 19!

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With my birthday being the first day of August, the day always seems to pop up abruptly and surprise me. However, that didn’t stop my family from planning a weeks worth of fun and adventures.

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It started on the 31st of July with a lovely dinner party at my house. Some of my closest friends came over to eat, laugh and make memories. We didn’t take many pictures, because we were all too busy living in the moment, but I did manage to find this gem. It truly captures how full of joy I was that night. I think those are the best types of photographs- ones that capture rare moments and raw emotions. They speak for themselves.

I took the whole week off from work to relax and find my inner zen. We all deserve to find a peace of mind and make time for yourself, so I considered this a little birthday present to myself. It felt nice having time to focus on me again, doing the things that I love and the things I never get a chance to do.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next thing on the birthday week list was traveling to Orlando, FL! We stayed in a hotel that was a walk away from Disney Springs (AKA the newest part of Downtown Disney). I must say, Disney really outdid themselves. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of Downtown Disney, but this new portion carries you away to another world. Sometimes I questioned if I was still in Florida.

The next day we had an early start and headed to Discovery Cove! We were greeted at the entrance by a friendly sloth. I was honestly freaking out because how often do you get to pet a sloth??Image-1.jpgWe all geared up in our wet suits and set off for a day of adventures. We snorkeled with fish, sharks and stingrays and we relaxed in lazy rivers. It was absolute bliss.

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Overall, I had a lovely birthday. It was filled with so many surprises, from trying new things to spending time with the people I love dearly. Heres to 19!

hello 19!

photo diary | NYC (& a video)

With little sleep the night before, our flight left at 7 a.m. sharp and Joshua and I could not contain out excitement. Not only were we looking forward to our first flight together, but simply the fact that we would be spending the next few days in New York City.

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When we arrived, my uncle took us to two local parks in the Bronx. The weather was gloomy, making the trees and plants pop with color and life. The bridge pictured in the second photograph is the Throgs Neck Bridge.

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The next day we ventured into the heart of the city: Manhattan. The car ride alone had Joshua and I jumping out of our seats. His head was practically glued to the window in complete awe of the buildings and life that surrounded us.

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This photograph shows my Aunt and Uncle taking in the peaceful atmosphere created by the 9/11 Memorial. Despite living nearby, this was their first time stepping foot into the area since the time of the attacks. You could see the appreciation and remembrance in their eyes, as I’m sure they felt it in their hearts.

Views from the One World Trade Center: both daytime and night.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Crosstown Diner. It was quite rainy that day so we stayed inside relaxing- until we heard a little tune cruising down the street. MISTER SOFTEE! We don’t have Mister Softee ice cream trucks in Florida, so Joshua and I hopped on that, bare feet and all.

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Before being dropped off at LaGuardia airport on our final day, we decided to take in some breathtaking final views. My uncle took us to spots in the Bronx with the BEST views of the city skyline. An unforgettable trip followed by an unforgettable view.

photo diary | NYC (& a video)

photo diary | adventures in Georgia

Despite living in Northern Florida for several years, I have never quite explored the surrounding areas. Upon driving, getting lost and losing cell phone reception, my family, Joshua and I stumbled upon the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It was interesting to learn about the history of the swamp lands and see the protected wildlife. We came face to face with many alligators but can reassure you that we made it out in one piece.

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photo diary | adventures in Georgia

photo diary | favorite local getaways (1/5): riverside

Riverside (5 points) is a neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida located along the St. Johns river. I find myself coming here as a place to get away. Flowering with art and beauty, this part of town never fails to inspire me. Below, I featured pictures from my most visited and beloved places in Riverside. Whether it be the grand trees in Memorial Park, the dusty antiques and vintage records inside the shops, the rich smell of coffee at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters or the breathtaking views from the Cummer Art Museum- Riverside always has me coming back for more.

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photo diary | favorite local getaways (1/5): riverside

photo diary | there’s a first time for everything

This past weekend was filled with many exciting, new adventures. Something I have never done in my life is gone strawberry picking- or any kind of fruit, at that. My parents did a little research and were able to find this adorable little strawberry farm (Brown’s Farm; Hawthorne, FL) just a few hours away from where we live! We arrived and my mind was absolutely spinning from all of the beautiful colors and smells.

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We were able to bring home several GIANT buckets of strawberries. I think we ended up paying around $20 for it all, which, in my opinion, is completely worth it. Store bought strawberries can cost around $4 and are picked, selected and often times gassed by someone else. These were straight off of the vine and picked with my own two hands! There was something so relieving about picking my own food- this experience has inspired me to hand pick fruits more often. Plus, it was seriously one of the funnest, most unique things I’ve done in a while.

The other adventure that I experienced for the first time, was visiting the fair! I’ve been to a few smaller fairs before, but never the annual Clay County Fair. I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida for quite some time now, and everyone is always incredibly surprised when they find out that I’ve never been to the fair. This year I was determined to change that. I went at night with Joshua, Jenaya and Steven and had an absolute blast. We went on every ride until our stomachs were turning. The food was also notably interesting: FRIED BUBBLEGUM. I didn’t try it, but I’m sure it’s… delicious. Anyway, I had an amazing time and 10/10 did not die on the rides.

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photo diary | there’s a first time for everything

a new sense of optimism

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Losing a loved one has always taken a unique toll on me. While it does hurt and bring me down, it also gives me a newfound sense of optimism. Loss tends to reveal the bigger picture. It reminds me how special our lives here on Earth are and how minor our problems are. It reminds me to live each day like it’s my last, with no worries. The gift of life on Earth is so precious and I believe that we should value every minute of it. Be thankful to see the sun rise every morning, as it is the start of a new day- a new sense of hope.

Yesterday I held my great grandmothers warm hand for the last time. I talked to her about our memories together and how wonderful her time here on Earth was. While her story is coming to an end, we are all able to look back at the pages that are filled with millions and millions of memories. I could only hope the same for every one else. Live a happy life with many memories, as this story of life isn’t forever- it’s only a mere chapter of what will come next.

a new sense of optimism

photo diary | a day at the zoo

On Friday, January 29th, Joshua and I decided to venture to the Jacksonville Zoo. Our zoo held a special offer that made the tickets only $5 that day- pretty much a college kids’ dream. This was our first time visiting this zoo together and we definitely had the time of our lives.

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I think we spent about 20 minutes with the lions just trying to communicate with them and make eye contact. At the end of the day, they’re just big kitties.

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Keel-billed Toucan

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Leopard

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Joshua and I found the gorillas to be the most interesting. It’s memorizing to observe their actions and realize how similar they are to humans. In this photograph a mother gorilla is giving her baby a piggy-back ride.

photo diary | a day at the zoo