Link Love February: Cookie Monster, Mr. Darcy, and the Florida Everglades

Does anyone else feel like February came and went in the blink of an eye? This month has been an especially busy one for me, with a weekend vacation to Tampa and St. Pete, a day of park-hopping at Disney, a Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed dinner, the Orlando Apollos launch game, and a trip to Wonderworks, along with a two-week bout of laryngitis. My happiness project is still going strong, and I’m excited to share my recap of Month 2 on tomorrow’s blog. 🙂

What links are you loving this month? Check out my latest favorite reads below and share your own in the comments!

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What links are you loving lately? Sound off in the comments!

Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? As the temperatures creep into the 40s and 50s here in the Orlando area, I’m starting to feel it more than ever. My sleeves have been getting longer and longer over the past few weeks, and my morning caffeine fix has transitioned from iced to hot. When the cold fronts are here, that means the holidays are almost here, and that means it’s time to hit the stores.

Earlier this week, I shared a few of my favorite Central Florida stores and boutiques for holiday shopping. However, for those of you who prefer shopping online or don’t happen to live in the region, I wanted to pull together a quick guide for gifts you can purchase no matter where you live. (For a few of my popular guides from previous years, click here and here.) Get ready to start shopping!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Holiday Gift Guide | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • For your organized friend: Bloom Daily Planners Vintage Floral print.
    I’m a sucker for a beautiful planner, and I just invested in one of these for myself for 2019. These datebooks go by calendar year and are the perfect size — large enough to include everything you’d ever need to write down, but small enough to fit in a medium-sized handbag. The Vintage Floral is beautiful, but if your gift recipient is less flowery, check out Bloom’s other prints with marble, flamingos, inspirational quotes, or other cover designs.
  • For the fashionista: These fun cat eye sunglasses by Sunice.
    Sunice Glasses has a variety of men’s and women’s sunglasses to choose from — you can’t go wrong! My favorite styles are the Classy (pictured) and the Aero, but take a look for yourself to choose a unique style. Use my promo code WANDERLUST25 to get 25% off your purchase!
  • For the one who always knows when Mercury is in retrograde: The Mixology of Astrology: Cosmic Cocktails for Every Sign by Aliza Kelly.
    I recently listened to Aliza Kelly’s episode on the Almost Famous podcast (check out more on my favorite podcasts here), and was fascinated about the idea of cocktails designed for specific astrological signs! Whether your friend is really into astrology or just likes to entertain, this book would be a fun addition to any party, bar cart, or coffee table.
  • For the class clown: A personalized potato via Potato Parcel.
    No holiday season is complete without at least one gag gift, and Potato Parcel does not disappoint! Featured on Shark Tank, Potato Parcel allows you to send a personalized potato in the mail with a message or printed photo of your choosing. They are now even selling potato ornaments! Check out their offerings and bundles here (and yes, I have used their services before).
  • For the accessories junkie: The Moon necklace by Civion.
    Civion is a European accessories company with a fun array of necklaces, earrings, rings (I love The Feline!), and bracelets. My readers receive 25% off their Civion purchases with discount code VALERIE25, so be sure to check them out online!
  • For the pet lover: Pop Your Pup apparel and more.
    I’ve written about Pop Your Pup before, but they just keep getting better! Pop Your Pup creates custom clothing and accessories by designing pop art versions of your favorite pet. Since the last time I wrote about them, they have expanded to now sell blankets and throw pillows, phone covers, and even puzzles.
  • For your favorite introvert: Quiet by Susan Cain.
    As an introvert myself, I can appreciate a book that helps me cope with living in “a world that can’t stop talking.” This book is a fun and interesting read that your introvert friends may find helpful (or may be a great gift to give yourself). I am a huge fan of this book!
  • For the bubbly one: These champagne toppers from World Market.
    From mango bellinis to mandarin mimosas, you can spruce up your drinks with these yummy champagne toppers! I recently purchased a 5-pack for a friend’s bridal shower and the gift did not disappoint. These fruity mixers will sweeten your drink and have sassy names like “Trust Me, You Can Dance” that will make you smile.

What stocking stuffers are on your list this year? Sound off in the comments!

Adventures in Florida: The Seacrest Wolf Preserve

Over the weekend, I experienced the adventure of a lifetime when my dad, sister, and I took a trip to the Seacrest Wolf Preserve. Tucked away in Chipley, Florida, the Seacrest Wolf Preserve was one of those bucket list items I never even knew I had until recently, when I met one of the volunteers at the Blue Springs Manatee Festival. I come from a family of animal lovers (who also happen to be involved in German Shepherd rescue efforts), so visiting the Seacrest Wolf Preserve was the perfect family getaway.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Seacrest Wolf Preserve is a non-profit organization dedicated to wolf conservation. Covering more than 400 acres, the preserve is a safe haven for several wolf packs, as well as foxes, skunks, a coyote, and other wildlife. Seacrest offers both public and private tours, allowing visitors to meet and interact with the wolves and smaller animals.

For our first visit, we decided to check out the Saturday Wolf Encounter Tour. When we arrived, we met Cynthia Watkins, one of Seacrest’s co-founders, and it was easy to see her passion for these beautiful animals. For just $25 admission, we had the chance to tour three wolf habitats and meet the packs who live there, as well as visit the foxes and skunks in the small animal areas.

This experience was life-changing, and I can’t wait to return for another visit. Within the wolf habitats, we were actually able to pet, play, and howl with the wolves– we even received a few wolf kisses! I fell in love with an energetic 10-month-old pup who reminded me a lot of my first German Shepherd, Shana, at that age. 🙂

Throughout the day, we learned about how packs form and how difficult it truly is to be a “lone wolf.” We also learned about why conservation efforts are a necessity, as wolves are incredibly vital to the ecosystem, and how greed and legislation have put their lives in danger.

During the tour, we talked about how important it is to speak for the wolves, because they cannot speak for themselves. Supporting organizations like Seacrest is a great way to give back to these incredible animals and fight against the regulations that have put them in harm’s way. Visiting the preserve gives you a greater appreciation and empathy for an often misunderstood creature, and is a must-do for anyone who wants to get up close and personal with a wolf.

I’m excited to return with my family for a VIP Tour in the near future! I highly recommend Seacrest (learn more about tours here) for all of you animal lovers. It’s an experience you won’t forget.

Link Love Wednesday: Rock Mafia and Haunted Houses

ridinghoodshoI can’t believe Halloween is already almost here! The month of October really flew by, and I’m still not really sure what my costume will entail this year — although there’s a good chance that I’ll break out the famous tiger ears again! 😉

What are your Halloween plans this year? Let me know what you’re up to in the comments section below. (I’m in need of some costume inspiration!) As always, enjoy this week’s Link Love.

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • The delicious handcrafted marshmallows at Wondermade, a local cafe in Sanford, FL. You can purchase their many flavors as gift packages online!
  • When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, about one family’s experience with the Japanese internment camps during World War II. A very moving read.
  • The Big Bang by Rock Mafia. It isn’t new to me, but I could listen to this song for hours on repeat.
  • My recent purchases made through Pop Your Pup. It’s an awesome place to make pop art T-shirts of your pets!
  • Julian Edelman, Wide Receiver for the New England Patriots. He’s been on my fantasy football team from the beginning, and what he lacked in points this week, he easily made up for in dashing good looks. 🙂

What’s your favorite link love this week? Share your latest findings in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Christmas Dinner at Hogwarts

85fcbf058d017908542b481c196b3daf32c7d45244d2a52e65a5c29acabf7ffb_1Happy Wednesday, readers! It’s almost October and you may have noticed that my posts dropped off quite a bit for the month of September. In that time, I launched my very own fantasy football league, turned 25, taught Junior Achievement classes at a local high school, started a new fitness program, spoke on a business career panel at a local community college, spent lots of time with friends and family, and hung around the mall much more than I’d care to admit. September was a busy month! 🙂

October isn’t slowing down, but I hope to have more posts for you as we make our way into fall. In the meantime, take a look at this week’s Link Love, and feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • Getting my morning news updates from The Skimm each day.
  • Why Not Me?, the latest book release from Mindy Kaling. Fantastic read!
  • Fantasy football — in particular, the impossibly handsome Julian Edelman.
  • The Mathematics of Love, by Hannah Fry, which relates mathematical theories to dating and relationships. It’s a fascinating read and I’m tearing through it!
  • Kate Spade online flash sales.
  • Community. Why didn’t anyone tell me over the past six years how great it was?

What are your favorite links and articles from the week? Sound off in the comments below!

Link Love Wednesday: Limited Too is Back!

enhanced-30175-1437505404-2Happy Wednesday! I can’t believe it’s almost back-to-school time… It feels like the summer just started. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I want the month of July to drag on as long as possible!

This week has brought on a few exciting opportunities for me in my personal and professional life. I’m especially proud to share that I have been named Writer of the Month at Career Camel, where I regularly contribute guest articles with career and academic advice. I have loved writing for them in the last year, and look forward to writing more in the future. Check out my portfolio section to scope out a few of those articles!

My Hump Day could certainly use a pick-me-up, and perhaps yours could, too. Enjoy this week’s batch of Link Love, and as always, share some of your favorite findings in the comments section below! 🙂

What are some of your favorite links from the week? Sound off in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Awesome Things That Happened Last Week

funny-dinosaurUnless you were living under a rock for the last week, you probably saw the Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair cover reveal on social media. Caitlyn’s very public transition has been extremely educational for many who have never met someone in the transgender community before, and in turn, I feel that this will inspire more widespread kindness and acceptance in the future.

However, amidst all the latest media coverage of Caitlyn’s transition (both positive and negative), many of us have missed out on other important events in the news lately. This edition of The Weekend Five will bring you up to speed on some of the other awesome things happening in the world in the last week or so.

The Weekend Five: Awesome Things That Happened Last Week

1. A brand new dinosaur was discovered.
The “Hellboy” dinosaur, as scientists have nicknamed it, was recently discovered and is related to the triceratops we all know and love. What is especially cool about this discovery is that, according to researchers, “it’s the first example of evolutionary convergence in horned dinosaurs.” On a romantic note, one of the lead researchers actually proposed to his girlfriend in the paper he published about the dinosaur. How sweet!

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DNA Analysis.

DNA Analysis.

2. A new DNA test has been developed to determine the history of viruses in a patient.
This test, called VirScan, will tell you what viruses you have had throughout your lifetime and could lead to early detection of other medical conditions. Scientists also believe that this could give us better insight into what triggers other diseases, such as cancer.

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3. Guam became the first U.S. territory to legalize gay marriage.
I honestly don’t understand why this isn’t legal everywhere, but this is still an important step toward equality.

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4. Orange County, NY signed an animal abuse registry into law.
What this means is that convicted animal abusers will be logged into an animal abuse registry, which will prevent them from being able to own animals. As an animal lover and member of a dog-rescuing family, I think this needs to happen everywhere! The law is very tough, especially on two-time offenders, and hopefully will protect a lot of animals from abuse and neglect in the future.

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5. Researchers were able to restore lost memories in mice.
This is a huge breakthrough because it could ultimately help to treat patients with amnesia. Researchers are hopeful that this treatment could restore memories for patients with early stage Alzheimer’s, head trauma and other brain disorders.

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What are some awesome news stories you picked up throughout the week? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Dog-Human Hybrids

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to your September! September is one of my favorite months because the weather starts to cool down and my birthday is almost here! This month, I also began a new exercise routine and started my fantasy football career. I defeated my boyfriend’s team in our first week of fantasy football, and look forward to facing off against my mom’s team in a few weeks! (We have a very interesting league.) 🙂 What have you all been doing to kick off the month?

Enjoy this week’s batch of Link Love and share your own favorites in the comments section below!

What are some of your favorite links from the last week? Share them in the comments section! 🙂

Happy reading!

Link Love Wednesday: Boy Bands, The Sorcerer’s Stone and Romantic Comedies

harrypotterI hope this week’s Link Love finds you well! Can you believe how quickly the summer is flying by? When I was in high school, I always felt a sense of dread around mid-July, when the new school year seemed to be looming all too closely. Nowadays, I work year-round, but I will never forget the way I felt as I watched the summer slip away. For those of you who have a break from school or work this summer, hopefully you are finding ways to make the most of your days off – away from the computer!

Of course, when you do stop to check Facebook and your favorite blogs (wink, wink), be sure to enjoy some of our latest Link Love!

How are you spending your summer? Any great links you’ve come across this week? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

Link Love Thursday: Let’s Go To Eataly!

Benvenuto a Eataly!Cute animals, Disney villains and pizza, oh my! This week, the Internet was filled with gold, and I’m excited to share with you in a one-day-late Link Love!

What great links have you come across this week?