117. Visit My Sisters in Boston

When I first graduated, most of my friends still lived in the Rochester area. Now that it’s been a few years, my friends have scattered themselves all over the country. A few of my sorority sisters, including my best friend Ariel, are currently living in Boston. I love the city of Boston and I hadn’t seen Ariel in nearly two years, so I was really excited when Jackie, Ariel, and I started planning this trip in December!

Ariel and I five years ago.

Ariel and I five years ago.

The Good?

Fajitas and ‘Ritas! Fajitas and ‘Ritas is a Tex-Mex restaurant in Boston that specializes in fajitas and margaritas. Ariel, Jackie, and I met my friend Sam there and had a very filling lunch that started in typical us-fashion by spilling half a pitcher of margarita all over our table. Next time I go to Boston, I’m definitely parking my butt there for a few hours.

This is why we can't have nice things.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Going Out I don’t really go out much in Reading. I like staying home and hanging out with my best friend aka my free-loader roommate aka my dog. Ariel and Jackie are on the same page as me, but we planned one staying in night and one going out night. We had so much fun on our going out night AND Ariel had an Uber coupon so we basically got home for free. I really liked the place we went (I unfortunately cannot remember the name), mostly because I was with my friends, it wasn’t too crowded, and they were playing good music.

Freezing our butts off at the bus stop!

Freezing our butts off at the bus stop!

Sunday Brunch On Sunday morning, we found ourselves sitting in the living room debating between going to a diner or driving a little further to this farm with a restaurant on it. We chose the farm-restaurant. The restaurant itself was tiny and there was a long wait, but it was SO worth it! I was going to get my usual (eggs benedict) but then saw that they had lobster eggs benedict. When in Rome Boston!

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

Reunited and it feels so goooodJust being in the same place at the same time was enough for me! I’ve noticed that whenever I’m on adventures with my sorority sisters, we manage to turn wherever we’re staying into a mini-version of our sorority house. Ariel’s apartment was no different. With our arrival, there was suddenly an abundance of monogrammed shirts, purple everything, Disney princess cups, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and clothes everywhere. Some of my favorite moments of the trip were just sitting around talking.

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The Not-So-Good?

Craft Show Ariel purchased tickets to this major craft show for us to go to over the weekend. It was actually a lot smaller than we expected it to be and everything that was there was SUPER expensive – furniture, glass sculptures, other stuff we could never dream of affording or creating ourselves. Probably the only reason we somewhat enjoyed it was that we went straight there from Fajitas and ‘Ritas.

We didn’t see our other sisters. Plans fell through with the two other sisters we were supposed to see that weekend. I actually haven’t seen Laurel and Kadley since I graduated, so that was kind of crummy. It didn’t help that our “plans” consisted of “let’s text each other later” which is literally my least favorite way to make plans. Luckily our sorority’s big twenty year celebration is next year, so I’m sure I’ll be seeing them (and everybody else) next spring.

Sebbie’s “special treat”. Ariel has a GIANT dog named Sebastian. He is unaware that he is giant and will try to sit in your lap. He is especially a fan of looking you in the eye, meaning he puts his paws on your shoulders and gives you a good stare down. The first night we were there, Ariel, Jackie, and I went to the store to get some things to make dinner. Jackie and I both are dog owners, so we took the normal precautions – zip everything or put it where the dog can’t get it. Apparently Sebbie knows how to use a zipper and we came home to find tampons EVERYWHERE. Hope those tasted good, Seb!

I can't imagine that they tasted very good.

I can’t imagine that they tasted very good.

 

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and MUCH too short! Jackie is coming down for the Lilly Pulitzer warehouse sale in June and I think both Ariel and Jackie are going to come down once I’m in my new apartment. Here’s hoping my sisters and friends continue moving cool places so I can do some more traveling!

119. Meet all the Littles I Haven’t Met Yet

I write about my sorority occasionally every single chance I get. Clearly I enjoyed my experience. A lot of people that aren’t involved in Greek Life question how a fraternity or sorority differs from any group of friends. There are a lot of ways that the Greek experience is different, but few of them are tangible. There’s really no way to explain exactly what is brotherhood or sisterhood. One thing that’s NOT standard in most friend groups is the idea of Bigs and Littles. And like plenty of sorority women, I think that my big is the smartest human being on the face of the planet and that my little is perfect.

Look at that perfection right there!

Look at that perfection right there!

Thanks to the ever-continuing tradition of Bigs and Littles, I now have a sizable family tree. My aging, post-grad brain can’t handle learning the name of every single new member, but I always get excited for a new addition to the family line. I would love to be able to meet all of them as they are welcomed to the family, but, you know, post-grad problems, I have a job and stuff. The next thing I knew, I had multiple generations of littles down the chain that I hadn’t met yet!

Big Little Night with the fam in 2011

Big Little Night with the fam in 2011

In March, I made it back to Rochester for the first time in ages and was able to meet all of the littles during multiple events throughout the weekend. I felt crazy old…I’m a big to the 5th! (And yes, I just had to count down the chain on my fingers.)

My L4 Jenna, me, my L5 Amanda, and the original little Heather

My L4 Jenna, me, my L5 Amanda, and the original little Heather

RML!

RML!

I hope to see more of my littles (all the littles) throughout this project and include them on some of my goals!

102. Print out pictures that I’ve taken and display them.

I might be dating myself here, but some of my favorite days in middle school were the days after a field trip. Why the day after? Because everybody would have taken their rolls of film to get developed and a good portion of the day would be spent passing around those little envelopes filled with pictures. I remember spending HOURS organizing my photo album so my favorite pictures were all in there.

Unfortunately with the invention of Facebook, my favorite one hour photo place took a major hit. Instead of passing around a pile of pictures, now you could click through them while not paying attention during an Art History lecture. Now there are even MORE ways to share pictures. I swear, I have like eight different accounts just to see people’s pictures.

And then came Shutterfly. For those of you not familiar with Shutterfly, it’s a company that lets you upload and print pictures and photo gifts like mugs and calendars and cell phone cases. I’ve used them to print photos for YEARS, but I’ve also made photo books and Christmas cards. My two favorite things about the company is the frequency that they send me coupons and the ability to print to Target. I’ve gotten some AWESOME coupons since I’ve signed up as a Shutterfly member. I printed a photo book for last year’s Joplin trip and shortly after Christmas, they sent me a coupon for 101 free prints…hence this entry.

So with that coupon, I was able to print some pictures from the past few years. The next step was figuring out how to display them. I have quite a few pictures in frames in my living room, but with all the effort I spent hanging them, they’re not coming down until I move out. I wanted something cute, but also easy so I could change the pictures frequently…maybe that will encourage me to print more!

I wound up creating a display above my bed, as my bedroom didn’t have very much decoration. I’ve got some colored twine taped up with hair bows clipped at the end to disguise the tape. The pictures are clipped to the twine with clothes pins. Very Pinterest!

My newest picture display!!

My newest picture display!!

In other decorating news, I did attempt to fix the gallery wall in my living room, and the frame that holds my concert tickets promptly fell down. Again. I also thing I can do more with my bedroom. With as much as I’ve moved around, I always feel like once I have “finished” decorating, it’s time to packet it all up and move again!

47. Get a massage.

When I saw that the fitness center was having a special on massages for the month of January, I knew the perfect time to get one – right after spring semester move in. I scheduled my massage for the morning after and didn’t give it anymore thought until I arrived for it.

Obviously, this is going to be a post without pictures. Massages are supposed to be all about relaxing and de-stressing and I’m pretty sure snapping pictures with my iPhone would have been frowned upon. I already think I’m on my masseuse’s shit list for having my phone on the table with me. (What? I was on call!)

Overall, the experience was wonderful and I would have just loved to crawl back into bed afterwards instead of going to my office. Below are some of my more…interesting…observations.

The Music.

So you know how all yoga classes have the same CD of “relaxing” music always playing? My masseuse had a very similar CD. While the music was definitely more relaxing than say…Beyonce…I found myself paying WAY too much attention to the music. First of all, it’s not just music. It’s a mixture of Asian-sounding instruments, water flowing, and forest noises, like birds chirping. I spent a good amount of time thinking about that set up. One, I’m clearly not getting a massage in the woods, so why pretend? If I was getting a massage in the woods, I’d probably be concerned about spiders and bugs and snakes and birds pooping on me. Also, if I was in the woods, why would there be all these musicians in the woods with me? Just when I finally started to accepted that the ideal massage experience would take place in the woods with an entire orchestra present, the music changed slightly and started to resemble something from the “Titanic” soundtrack. The sounds of water were still present. Done.

The Clothing (or lack thereof).

Until I arrived for my massage, I completely forgot that you’re supposed to get undressed. This was my first professional massage – all massages done before this were those free chair massages during finals week and my massage therapy class at RIT. So the morning of my massage, I woke up and got dressed like it was any ol’ day. It wasn’t until I got in the room and saw all the blankets that I thought, “Oh shit, I forgot to shave my legs!”. I thought it would be really weird, but the masseuse left the room so I could strip down to my undies and climb under the covers. During the actual massage, the masseuse practiced some fancy blanket-origami so only the body part being worked on was exposed. This was wonderful, since it was January and I really didn’t want to get out from under the blanket at all. This also made it so the masseuse didn’t have to see the underwear that I picked out thinking that nobody would see it.

The Lotion.

This probably sounds like a weird thing to notice, but I’m a weird person, so of course I noticed it. Part of my post-shower routine (also known as Towel Time) in the colder months is to completely slather my body in lotion. I then sit patiently play on my iPad and wait for it to dry. Well, during my massage I also got lotion slathered all over my body. The major difference was that it wasn’t MY lotion. My masseuse doesn’t know my life. At the end, I still felt kind of slimy. Actually, the texture felt very similar to my cream blush, which was really weird. Also, my feet were the last area of my body worked on and right after I had to shove my sneakers back on, so my feet felt really gross all day.

Ideally my next massage will be part of some spa package at a resort, but until then this will have to do!

77. Go to a wedding.

(I swear I did not purposely make this #77!!)

Last month, I had the privilege of watching two of my friends from college get married to each other.

I don’t know exactly when I met either Steve or Steph. Steve was in Eight Beat Measure, an a cappella group at RIT. I know how I became friends with the group – Karl rescued me from a shopping cart in the tunnels – but I don’t have stories for how I became friends with each member individually (except for Mark and Brian). Steph was a photo major so I guess I just knew her from being around. She was also in Singers with me and we had some mutual friends.

Then, right at the end of our third year, Steve and Steph met each other. I remember the first party she was at. Steve and Steph began dating shortly after that and when we all returned for our fourth year, she was a regular in the Eight Beat apartment. I was really happy to have another girl around! Steve and Steph kept dating. After graduation, they both moved downstate and eventually got a place right outside the city. Best part? They frequently invite us to visit. [=

Time has flown by since graduation – something that feels like it just happened last year is actually three years behind us! So forgive me when I can’t remember the exact details anymore…first we were wondering when Steve was going to propose and then he did propose and the next thing we knew, we were counting down the DAYS until the wedding.

Steve and Steph’s wedding was just beautiful. I know, I know, all weddings are beautiful BUT THESE ARE MY FRIENDS AND THEY’RE AWESOME SO IT WAS MORE BEAUTIFUL. (My logic hasn’t changed much since graduation.) I could sit here and go on and on about the food and decorations but that’s what actual wedding blogs are for. So instead I will overwhelm all of you with pictures. Enjoy!

The happy couple!

The happy couple!

First Dance

First Dance

Hoskins saved me a dance.

Hoskins saved me a dance.

 

Dave and me

Dave and me

 

The closest thing I have to a group picture

The closest thing I have to a group picture

 

 

31. Get the balance of my student loans under their original amount.

The day I’ve been waiting for since 2009 is finally here…I can actually start paying my loans DOWN now.

At 17 when I was signing off on my first student loans, I understood that I was going to have to pay them back at some point in my life. I even understood that there was something called interest which meant I’d actually owe more than what I had borrowed. I just never realized how MUCH more I would owe. 6% tax on a $50 sweater isn’t much. 6% interest on loans on loans on loans IS.

When I first got out of college, I was working three (very) part time jobs. I couldn’t afford the original monthly payments, so they were lowered based on my income. Even though I was putting a little bit of money towards my loans each month, the amount I owed was going up because my loans were accruing more in interest than I was able to pay each month. Ouch. Now that I have a “real” (full time) job, I pay MORE than my minimum payments so I can pay these loans off faster. I know that I won’t always be able to do that – someday I hope to have a house and a family and if I wait until my loans are paid off to do so, that “house” will be a nursing home!

It was incredibly frustrating to feel like I was getting nowhere with my loans…hitting this point is like just being able to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The next milestone should come in a month or two – I will have paid off one loan in full!

IMG_1734

115. Throw away thirty things.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the cleaning spree that I went on during Thanksgiving Break. I had BAGS AND BAGS of clothes to donate but it was NOTHING compared to how much stuff I threw out.

Some stuff on its way out of my room.

Some stuff on its way out of my room.

While I was visiting my parents, I decided to tackle the closet in my room. Even though I don’t live there anymore, my closet and dresser are completely full with clothes (and other crap) from when I was in high school and college. Somewhere in the back of my head, I thought it was nice because if I forgot to pack something to wear, I had clothes to wear at home. Except. I didn’t. Most of the stuff in there was free t-shirts and pajama pants – I couldn’t make an outfit out of that! I realized that it was useless to keep all that stuff around…all it was doing was making my room look messy. I couldn’t put things away on longer trips home because there was nowhere to put them.

I didn’t throw out EVERYTHING that was in my room. I had to spend some time organizing the stuff that I was keeping – mostly craft supplies and some special shirts (including four RIT Springfest shirts). Some of the stuff that did go? Old electronics, a broken (fake) Coach purse, and a bunch of empty alcohol bottles that were hidden away in the closet. Classy.

I’ve been pretty determined to clean since Thanksgiving, but my apartment is much more overwhelming than my old room and my parents’ house. I know that I haven’t used the stuff in that closet for ages and ages. It was much easier to throw those things out. I also don’t have as much time (or energy) in my own apartment. After a long day at work, I just want to watch 50 episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress) do nothing. I did manage to make some progress in my craft corner – I cleared off the desktop and the middle drawer! It doesn’t sound like much, but it already looks a ton better.

Some helpful/inspirational sites during this cleaning spree? I Heart Organizing – this blog makes me want to go raid an Ikea. SO MUCH INSPIRATION!! Unf*** Your Habitat – while the other blog was inspiration, this blog was motivation. There are lots of little reminders and “Weekend Challenges”. They also have an app which I haven’t bought yet, but maybe it will be a post-Christmas present to myself. Oh, and last but not least – Netflix for marathons of hoarding shows.

74. Get a Pedicure

I don’t know why it’s taken me forever to write this post…probably because getting a pedicure isn’t all too interesting and it’s not like it was my first pedicure ever. I try to do my nails myself to save money, but before Disney I decided to treat myself and get a pedicure with one of my friends. We went to the place she goes since I don’t really have a “place” here yet.

My favorite part about getting a pedicure is the pampering. You’re in a massaging chair AND they rub your feet and calves during the pedicure. I probably should have gotten one when I returned from Disney…all that walking! But…like I said…I don’t get my nails done that often and I definitely wouldn’t spring for a pedicure in the winter unless I was going on some schmancy tropical vacation!

Pedi time!

Pedi time!

I have some other “pampering” items on my list…unfortunately I just found out that I missed FREE massages during Finals Week…ugh. I guess “soon” isn’t as I thought it was going to be…

34. Donate My Old Clothes

I have a very real fear of becoming a hoarder. I don’t want to wind up on some reality show, screaming at people that are throwing my trash out, so I actively try to clean and get rid of things on a regular basis. This was easier the past eight years because I was moving AT LEAST once a year. Now that I’ve got a “grown up job”, I’m staying in one place longer and it’s easier for things to pile up. Going through my list, I found that I’ve put a few things down that involve cleaning and getting rid of stuff.

There’s a fine line between having a lot of stuff and being a hoarder and I continually walk it. I have a lot of things in boxes at my parents’ house still – things from my room that were boxed up when I got “too old” for them, things boxed up from when my room was being painted, things boxed up from my first college apartment. I know what’s in some boxes – Beanie Babies, Baby Sitters Club books, pictures and mementos – but there are plenty of boxes that I don’t know what’s in them and I can only guess – clothes and homework most likely. My parents keep telling me to go through all this stuff but I’m only home for a few days at a time and looking through boxes in the basement isn’t what I want to spend my time doing. So then they ask if they can just throw them out but they can’t do that – I don’t know what’s in them and I need to see it before it gets thrown out!

I had a total hoarder-style breakdown once. I was thirteen or fourteen and yeah, I had a messy room, I was a teenager. My mom kept telling me to tidy up and go through my piles of stuff, but I hadn’t done anything. One day when my dad and I were out somewhere, my mom decided to do it herself. Her version of cleaning was to just throw everything out. When I came home and saw that my things were missing, I had what could only be described as a panic attack. I remember sitting on the floor of the garage, pulling things out of the trash. One of my friends had passed away a few months before and I was so scared that she had thrown out the binder we had drawn on and the notes we had passed in class. She did. I couldn’t find the notes, but I did manage to save the binder. It’s probably in my parents’ basement now.

I tend to keep things because of the memories associated with them. At some point in high school, I managed to get all of the smaller stuff into a shoebox. That’s completely fine. I have ticket stubs, a signed CD, and a hall pass written out at 8:46 am on September 11, 2001 in the box. My bigger issue is that I wind up hanging on to clothes and clothes take up space. I’m not just talking prom dresses and other important things – I have t-shirts, shorts, sweaters, and pants that no longer fit or I no longer wear that I keep just because of what I wore them to. My mom always questions why I still hang onto them – I have the memory, why do I need the items?

Earlier this month, I went through my dresser and closets and wound up with a pretty sizable pile of clothing that could be donated. I think I did my best to make decisions based on what I would wear. Another incentive was that a Plato’s Closet had just opened in Reading and I desperately needed money after my big Disney trip. I wound up bringing two huge bags to Plato’s, but they only bought a few things. That was the worst – I didn’t care about the money, but I wound up coming home with the stuff and it was hard to resist the urge to take things out of the bags!! Luckily, those bags made it over to Goodwill along with two others.

Clearly I have to work harder than the average person to make sure my living space is clean and organized, but in the past month I’ve made a lot of progress. I’m hoping to go through my clothes again and get rid of even MORE. Also, keep an eye out for a post about cleaning my closet and dresser at home!

4. Go On a Vacation With Friends

Here it is, the long-awaited Disney post!

Last year, my big (Kayla) and my little (Heather) planned a weekend together in Corning, NY, where my big lives. Our plans for the weekend included exploring town, visiting the Corning Glass Museum, and having a wine and cheese party.

Kayla, Heather, and I got to make our own glass pumpkins!

Kayla, Heather, and I got to make our own glass pumpkins last fall!

After that weekend, we decided to do something similar once a year. My parents were about to leave for a trip to Disney World, which was hosting their annual Food and Wine Festival. Maybe it was one too many glasses bottles of Red Cat, but we thought that was a GREAT IDEA. Of course, a trip to Disney World involves a little planning and a lot of money. We decided that we would try to plan the trip for the following year. We started doing our research and saving our money. In April (six months after we came up with this crazy idea) we set our plans in stone – a week in Disney World at the end of October – during the Food and Wine Festival!

Heather and Kayla with their Belgian snack!

Heather and Kayla with their Belgian snack!

I’ve been to Disney before. I’ve been on other big trips before. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve put this much planning into any other trip! First we had to plan the big things – dates, flights, tickets, hotel. Oh yeah, and saving a ton of money. Our planning didn’t stop once we booked the trip – the weeks leading up to the trip was filled with finalizing the smaller details – dinner reservations and daily itineraries…Disney is a big place and we had to do it all! I even bought a Disney guide book that surprisingly gave me a lot more advice than I thought it would.

On our last night there, Heather and I climbed a bunch of the Lion King and Little Mermaid statues!!

On our last night there, Heather and I climbed a bunch of the Lion King and Little Mermaid statues!!

So what were some of the highlights of our trip? I really liked the hotel we were at! We stayed at the Art of Animation resort and while all Disney resorts are “themed” this is the only one that is Disney-themed! Every day I got to walk past giant statues of Little Mermaid and Lion King characters. Also, we specifically planned our trip to be during the Food and Wine Festival and we made sure to go to Epcot eat around the “world” each day! Let me tell you, after that, going back to the dining hall was ROUGH. My favorite meal was actually in Magic Kingdom – we went ate at Cinderella’s Royal Table! If you are ever interested in doing this, you need to make reservations six months in advance.

CIN. DER. EL. LA.

CIN. DER. EL. LA.

Probably my favorite memory of the trip was our “Disney Marathon” as we like to call it. One of the things that Disney does best is their night shows. Imagine the best fireworks display you have ever seen, multiply that by ten, and then have it happen EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. We decided that we were going to go Fantasmic in Disney Hollywood studios and then RUSH to Magic Kingdom to catch their fireworks show and second parade. We planned this very carefully and it made a ton of sense in our mind, but wound up looking more like the airport scene from Home Alone 2 than we thought it would. For Fantasmic, we sat in the very back row…there’s really not a bad seat in the house. When the show ended, we jumped up and RAN to a bus to the Contemporary Resort. From there, we took the monorail to Magic Kingdom and ran inside just in time for the start of the fireworks show. I know that doesn’t sound very complicated, but trust me. Unless you have attempted this, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.

Probably my favorite picture from the trip!

Probably my favorite picture from the trip!

Next year’s “Wine and Cheese” event will probably be MUCH smaller in scale (and much cheaper…my savings account has never been so empty!). I’m really glad I got to go on this trip with two of my closest friends. If anybody out there thinks that they are too old for Disney, you are NEVER too old for Disney.

Biggle's First Trip to Disney

Biggle’s First Trip to Disney

Oh and if anybody out there thinks that it is socially acceptable to bring your iPad to a theme park and use it to take pictures and hold it high above your head so you can film an entire fireworks show…it’s not. [=

Don't be this guy.

Don’t be this guy.