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Keeping Time with Olivia Burton

This may seem a little strange, but I haven’t worn a watch since high school. It started with art class and having to remove it and any other jewelry from my wrist while painting or whatever since I tended to be a little exuberant (aka messy) when it came to the creation process. Furthermore, it drove me nuts to have something clicking against the desk while I was writing. I tried wearing it on my non dominant hand, and that was a little better, but then I took typing and well… that requires both hands so you can guess what happened next. In a world full of cell phones, it seems like the timepiece is more of a luxury rather than a necessity, the way it once was.

Recently however, I have found myself in a few situations where neither my cellphone nor a wall clock wasn’t immediately available to me. It got me thinking, maybe, just maybe I should give this whole “watch” thing another shot. It’s been many years since high school, and my financial resources allow for something other than the $9.99 Walmart special that I rocked back in the day.  While I am nowhere near making my final selection, I did want to share this amazing company I stumbled across called Olivia Burton. Classy, feminine, and understated, these watches give you an accessory you can wear with almost anything, while still being a little something special. Even better, they have vegan options that are every bit as lovely as their less animal friendly counterparts.

While the flowers are probably what I would ultimately choose, the idea of a gilded little bumble bee or a delicate little bunny being the focal point really appeals to me. Probably because it’s a sophisticated version of something that would usually be found in the children’s section. While I was perusing options for myself, I was making mental notes of things I think might be nice for various gift giving occasions. For example, the watch above with the lovely pastel blooms and butterflies and the perfectly coordinated sage green band? Perfect for my mom. Oh ,and she likes rose gold, can’t forget the rose gold.  

Really lovely options, but I am still not quite ready to bite the bullet and make the purchase. Besides, there are a couple of gift giving holidays coming up in the next few months (ie. my anniversary and Christmas) and generally Andy is willing to spend more on me than I am on myself, so if I hold out who knows what I might end up with 😉

 

All images from Nordstrom.


Instagram and Ads

I’ve seen a few videos on YouTube in the last couple of months about the ads that are popping up all over Instagram. Supposedly these ads are selected based on your posts and interests. Perhaps, but how well does Instagram really know you, and how worth while are the ads that we are being bombarded with? So like the YouTubers before me, I decided to purchase items from the first ad that showed up on my feed when I opened Instagram for the day, over the course of three days. I quickly had to narrow down the parameters after the first ad was for fine artisan jewelry, starting at $100+. So I settled on under $25 (including shipping) and preferably with a PayPal payment option. Here’s how it went:

Colour Pop

Color pop was the first ad I selected and was also the first to arrive. I’ve heard about the brand before from a number of YouTubers, and I was excited when it worked out for me to have an excuse to try them out. Virtually everything on the site is under $20; heck, most of it is under $10. I ended up picking out four of their Super Shock Shadows (Cricket, Nillionaire, Prickly Pear, and Tea Party). Not the most diverse purchase, but they were shiny. Like I said, they were the first item I ordered to arrive (about a week), and they were just as lovely IRL as they were online. Now, having tried them a variety of ways, I will say they don’t play well with other shadow brands. I tried blending and it was a no go, but on their own, these guys hold up pretty well, and I love the shimmer factor. Well done, Instagram; I give these an 8/10, would buy again.

The Enchanted Forest Shop

The Enchanted Forest Shop was another ad I was excited popped up. I am always curious about the “just pay shipping” ads. Are the products great? Do they overcharge on shipping to compensate? Trying to be as close to the spirit of “what Instagram picked for me” as I could, I of course ordered the “wish” necklace, but since I was already clicking around, I added a pair of pretty floral earrings, just for funsies. It took them about a month to get to me, which I guess is pretty standard for international shipping. They were shipped separately, a little annoying, and arrived about a week apart. They’re pretty much exactly what I expected. I’ve worn the earrings several times already, but the necklace is a little bulkier than I tend to go for, so it will probably get a new loving home or come to live on the rear view mirror of my card. Was the shipping a little high? Yeah, but I’d still use this service again, just not for anything I needed right away. 6/10.

Our Galaxy, The Milky Way

You may notice that unlike the first two ads, I have not linked the website for this product. There is a reason for that. They suck, like whoa, baby, big time. It took them over two months to get my single item, the necklace pictured, to me. First, it took forever to ship, then it was held in Miami for over a month; when it finally showed up, the package had been destroyed, and I got the #sorrynotsorry letter from the post office. All this wouldn’t have been too big an issue, except I tried multiple times to contact the seller about what was going on and I heard NOTHING back from them. A total waste of money, 0/10, two middle fingers and a will not buy again. Lesson learned.

 

Verdict: I think Instagram is doing a pretty good job matching the ads to the individual. I’d absolutely be willing to check out a company based on their recommendation. I will, however, probably do a little more research next time before I purchase.


Buttercream Artistry

When Andy and I were planning our wedding, one of the things  we surprisingly didn’t agree on was the cake. I thought a cupcake tower would be a fun idea, but Andy had a rare diva moment and proclaimed that cupcakes weren’t an acceptable option, he wanted a cake, a three tier cake to be specific. I let him have his way, largely because I didn’t care about the cake, but I had one stipulation, I did not want something covered in that ever popular substance, fondant. It makes for some truly gorgeous cakes, but it doesn’t taste good and flavor is infinitely more important to me than style, which ended up being a good thing since (I think) our cake turned out hideous, but it tasted great. One of the excuses the baking staff gave for the monstrosity was that the floral accents we’d selected were simply impossible to create with mere frosting. Well, I am calling bullshit on that. I saw this article on Bored Panda about artist Atelier Soo and the gorgeous buttercream creations coming out of the Seoul based bakery.

Insane, right? I’ve seen some sugar paste blossoms that couldn’t even come close to this!   I’m not even sure it should be legal to eat these creations. They’re so painstakingly crafted and meticulously detailed, it breaks my heart that their one clumsy fork swipe away from being destroyed.   

I apologize for all the pictures; there were just so many beautiful creations, and I had the damnedest time narrowing them down. Now I am not saying that the bakery here in Tally dropped the ball, or that I’d expect this level of mastery for your average cake decorator, but I am saying if I ever find myself in that situation again I am going to be a lot less accommodating when they try to sell the “gum paste stamp” idea to me again. And for the record, dogwood blossom and cherry blossoms do not look exactly the same. Clearly, I’m not bitter about this at all, right?

 

Images from here


The Lincoln Park Conservatory

When doing research for our Chicago trip, I happened upon an Instagram series of gorgeous garden pics which seemed to be taken in a large greenhouse. A quick note to the user and I had a name: The Lincoln Park Conservatory. Said user gave me a few other tips, but told me I absolutely had to pay a visit if my schedule permitted. Sunday, we found ourselves with an open afternoon, so we made our way to Lincoln Park to see what we could see.

 The first thing I want to say is that this amazing place is free to the public. FREE. As in no dollars. There is a box in the lobby for donations, but other than that, nothing. The place is well maintained and absolutely gorgeous. With the overcast day, it reminded me a little of the green house in The Haunting, but that is probably just me.     The conservatory is a series of large glass rooms all connected by a meandering path. There are flowers and plants of all types, and knowledgable staff/volunteers (honestly, I’m not sure which) are scattered about to answer any questions one might have… and also, I suspect, to keep people from touching or picking the flora.  While the ponds were my favorite, I did enjoy the orchid room. Mostly because orchids are such finicky plants and to see so many with such variety was very impressive.    It’s difficult to tell in this picture, but that little glass box is full of carnivorous plants. I know they don’t hurt people, but they still freak me out a little.   Truly, I wish Andy and I were better at gardening. He has a black thumb, and I am prone to over watering. Someday though, maybe we’ll figure it out. 

Such a beautiful place, and while a decent size, it doesn’t take long to walk through. Definitely check it out if you find yourself in the windy city with some spare time.


Back From Chicago or Chi-town as I Insist on Calling It

Hey guys! I’m back! Technically, I have been back since Tuesday afternoon, but Andy and I had to hit the ground running to play catch up so things like unpacking and going through pictures were put off until this weekend. There are some specific things I can’t wait to do posts about, but I figured I’d kick things off with a general trip overview.

 Our trip to Chicago was interesting to say the least. The initial trip to JAX was uneventful and our flight, while packed, was fairly smooth until week got to Chicago. There was a horrendous storm over the city (think lightning and hail) and O’hare wasn’t letting anybody in our out. They had our flight circle Gary, Indiana until we ran out of fuel and then diverted us to Indianapolis. This was the point in the trip where we found out that I have panic attacks. While trying to set our plane down, we hit some pretty intense turbulence and the plane dropped dramatically not once, but twice and that ended with me shaking, short of breath, and crying uncontrollably (albeit quietly). Fun stuff. After all of that, United still wasn’t sure if we’d be flying into Chicago or not that evening, so Andy and I  let the gate attendant know we weren’t going to be getting a back onto the plane and rented a car to take us the last 3 hours to Chicago. Of course that couldn’t be the end of it, we hit horrible traffic and the drive that should have taken 3ish hours took closer to six. But we made it safely and in time to watch the sunset amidst the skyscrapers.  The rest of the family arrived on Friday so the day was spent doing a little sightseeing and catching up with everyone as they arrived. It was a little over cast, but that just made for some wonderfully cool weather, which was much needed after the oppressive humidity of our home state.   You can’t see it in this picture, but someone had left an entire hotdog in the foo dog’s mouth. For some reason it was really funny at the time. Also, I saw so many beautiful neighborhoods as we walked around and I now feel like I need to own my very own ivy covered townhouse. Not usually a city girl, but this place really stole my heart.   The happy couple tied the knot at this beautiful location above. A little further down their were people sitting on the rocks reading and sketching. Two things I could absolutely see myself doing if I lived down the road from this place. As it was, the only reason I didn’t try it was because I was 90% certain that if I tried I’d end up wet or somehow destroying my dress.   My brother-in-law and his fiance had, what I think, is one of the coolest rehearsal dinners I’ve ever been to. They rented out the party room at George’s Ice Cream, kicked things off with amazing Mediterranean food from one of their favorite local spots and then finished with build your own sundaes. The entire shop smelled incredible, like vanilla and their house made waffle cones. If I could have bottled the scent, I would wear it every day. The ice cream itself was some of the best I’ve ever had and I am sitting here regretting that I didn’t eat more when I had that chance.   Since the bride and groom postponed their honeymoon until the spring, we were lucky enough to get to spend some extra time with them before heading home. On Sunday night, we all went on an architecture boat tour. It was a perfect blend of fun and informative and had the added bonus of getting to watch the sunset from the river and the whole city light up.   There will be a whole post on this later, but one of the most interesting things we did on this trip was go to Lincoln Park. Not only do they have gorgeous green space they have a conservatory and a zoo which are all free to the public. Free. F-R-E-E. Which blew my mind because they were so extensive and well kept. I would definitely play a little more in local taxes if it meant creating resources like this in Tallahassee. Just saying. 

Before boarding our entirely uneventful flight home(thank God), Andy and I took one more stroll down Miracle Mile and I visited the Cloud Gate(silver bean) in Millennium Park for the obligatory Instagram photo. All in all, an excellent trip, and I am already bugging Andy about when we can go back.