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!

Adventures in Florida: Your Guide to a Weekend in St. Pete

On Saturday, I packed my bags and hit the road for St. Petersburg on my very first completely solo vacation. Although I’ve roamed around cities like New York and Seattle on my own before, those trips were ultimately part of planned visits to see old friends. Aside from a conference in Jacksonville earlier this year, I have always traveled with friends and family, so planning a trip on my own was an adventure completely outside of my comfort zone.

The verdict? I absolutely loved it! The trip was a short one, not even lasting 48 hours, but I enjoyed fun tourist activities, combined with much-needed rest and relaxation. The drive from my apartment (just north of Orlando) to St. Petersburg took roughly two hours, with plenty of sightseeing along the way.

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It was Smithsonian’s Free Museum Day, so I first made a stop in Tampa at the Henry B. Plant Museum. Originally the Tampa Bay Hotel, this museum is a National Historic Landmark and served as a luxury resort in Victorian times. The hotel features a collection of porcelain, faberge eggs, and other items that once belonged to the Habsburg family and the Russian tzars. The byzantine architecture alone is enough to make you stop in your tracks. The hotel is now home to the University of Tampa’s admissions building, but you can still wander around and learn more of its history.

Your Guide to a Weekend in St. Pete

After the Plant Museum, I headed into St. Pete to continue my adventure. I stayed at the Cordova Inn downtown, a charming little hotel with its own history in the city. The hotel had a beautiful veranda where I enjoyed my breakfast the next morning, along with complimentary wine and cheese in the evenings. The rooms are a little older, but with Turner Classic Movies playing as soon as I walked in, I knew I made the right choice. 🙂

Your Guide to a Weekend in St. Pete

After checking in at the Cordova, I strolled over to the Morean Arts Center and the Chihuly Collection across the street to enjoy some of the art. My trip to Seattle this summer really solidified my love for Dale Chihuly and his glass works, so I was especially excited to visit his collection. Meanwhile, the Morean Arts Center featured a unique array of exhibitions by staff members and by their members.

Your Guide to a Weekend in St. Pete

In the evening, I ventured over to A Taste for Wine for a glass of grapefruit rosé and dinner (a personal margherita pizza on naan bread). On a cooler night, I would have enjoyed my meal on the balcony for some people-watching, but I ultimately had a great time indoors getting to know the bartenders and other patrons. A Taste for Wine is a quieter wine bar that serves charcuterie, artisan pizzas, and various appetizers.

The next morning, after checking out of the hotel, I ended up fulfilling a longtime goal of visiting The Dalí Museum. I’ve always loved the surreal works of Salvador Dalí (Persistence of Memory is a favorite of mine!), so learning more about his life and art was a dream come true for me.

Your Guide to a Weekend in St. Pete

My visit began with the Clyde Butcher exhibit, which featured Visions of Dalí’s Spain. Clyde Butcher is a black-and-white landscape photographer who primarily shoots in Florida, but was commissioned by the museum to photograph the areas that had the most meaning to Dalí throughout his life. The jagged rock formations and twisted trees in Cadaques and in Dalí’s Port Villat home have a whimsy to them that clearly inspired him in his art. In fact, one of the rock formations reminded Dalí of his own profile, and he used it to represent himself in his paintings thereafter! The exhibit gave me a fresh perspective on Dalí before I headed over to the artist’s permanent collection.

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I joined a docent-led tour at noon, learning the nuances of a few of Dalí’s most famous works and about the artist’s own life. Even after the tour was over, I used the headsets to embark on my own self-guided tour through the exhibit, taking time to appreciate his works and learn as much as I could about the hidden meaning in his paintings.

Your Guide to a Weekend in St. Pete

I ended the trip with a late lunch from the museum’s Café Gala, where I enjoyed the Ensalada Pear & Cabrales along with bread and manchego almond pesto in the garden overlooking the water. Throughout the garden, other interesting works (such as a melted clock bench) were available to explore and snap photos of.

After the museum, it was time to return to reality, but I can’t recommend St. Pete enough for a dreamy vacation!

What are some of your favorite spots in Tampa and St. Pete? Share your suggestions in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Fast Food Edition

someecardHappy Wednesday! Hope everyone is having a fantastic week and a wonderful beginning of March. This week’s Link Love will focus on fast food, Google doodles and French travel tips! You won’t want to miss this week’s roundup of articles. 🙂

What are some awesome articles you’ve seen this week?

Link Love Wednesday: Let The Holiday Cheer Begin!

know-secret-santa-anything-christmas-ecard-someecards_largeCan you believe that we’re already in the thick of December? On Saturday, I tuned in to ESPN to watch my university’s football team battle it out amidst an ice storm in Texas, and found it crazy to think that winter is quickly approaching (even if winter merely consists of cold fronts where I live). With Christmas and the New Year looming dangerously ahead, it’s time to break out some of the holiday link love!

The Weekend Five: Profile Pictures That Every Girl Has Posted

funny-cat-selfie-sleeping-instagram-picsAs I comb through my various social media profiles, I begin to notice some patterns. From misattributed Marilyn Monroe quotes to silly BuzzFeed lists, my Facebook newsfeed is a constant cycle of “same content, different day.” Of course, the photos of ourselves that we post online are no different! It doesn’t matter how varied your interests are or how much you scoff at society’s need for retweets and likes – if you are between the ages of 16 and 30, you probably have the same basic profile picture as everybody else.

Ladies, we all know we’re guilty of choosing at least some (if not all) of these as our default photos. Let’s take a look back at some of the pictures we have all inevitably posted at some point in our lives! (Tweet this!)

The Weekend Five: Profile Pictures That Every Girl Has Posted

1.    The Selfie.
Yes, my friends, we are living in The Age of the Selfie, a time when it is (sort of) socially acceptable to take pictures of yourself sitting at your desk, with friends at a social outing or – more likely than not – in your car (the ever-popular Car Selfie). The word “selfie” has even made its way into the Oxford Dictionary online, which pains the aspiring social critics in us all, and yet we can’t help but snap pictures of ourselves doing the most mundane tasks. This probably says a lot about the self-centered millennial generation and our culture of entitlement (or something meaningful like that), but I’m not here to insult selfies. In hundreds of years, historians will look probably back at our selfies as a form of artistic expression. So rock those selfies, tinker with the filters and use as many hashtags as you want, because it’s 2013 and #YOLO.

BALs0dzCcAA6bz22.    The Significant Other.
We love to take pictures with our significant others and blast them all over Facebook! Maybe it’s because we want to capture the memories, maybe it’s because we want the world to know that somebody has found us attractive at least temporarily, but most girls have posted a cutesy picture with their boyfriends and made it the default photo at least once. If you go back far enough in a girl’s profile picture history, you may even find photos of exes buried between a prom pic and that one time she decided to have side-bangs. For some girls, the significant other pictures are few and far between, but for others, they make up the majority of photos posted since the relationship began.

3.    Group Photo With The Friends Cropped Out.
Guys are notoriously guilty of not cropping their friends out of their default photos, but girls are usually much more meticulous about it. Sure, we might post a few pictures with our friends, but most of the time, we cut our friends out so that viewers of our social media profiles will know exactly which person in the photo we are. While appropriate for online dating profiles, the cropped friend shots are a little silly on other sites where the bulk of our friend list includes people we know in real life. However, if you’re ever with friends and the camera comes out, you can put your hand on your hip, turn to the side and take comfort in the fact that after cropping, you will have your latest profile picture.

auto-instagram-morpheus-what-if-i-told-you-2019384.    Artsy Photo Taken Outside.
I’m not sure where we find all of these grassy knolls for our photoshoots, but we always do. It never fails to amaze me how every girl seems to have a friend with a fancy camera or the desire to take pictures of her! Whether we are outdoorsy girls at heart or in love with being inside, we all have a photo of us that was taken in a meadow, on a mountain or – at the very least – surrounded by flowers. Bonus points go out to those who then posted those pictures on Instagram with beautiful but completely unnatural filters. If your picture doesn’t make people ask themselves, “How could the sky have possibly been that blue?” or “Where is the lighting this perfect and slightly sepia-toned?” then you’re obviously doing it wrong.

5.    The Throwback.
We save most of our throwbacks for Throwback Thursday (#tbt), but occasionally a few oldies but goodies make their way into our profile pictures. From ridiculous high school photos to baby pictures we clearly asked our moms to scan and email to us, throwback photos appeal to our sense of nostalgia, which seems to be stronger than ever at this point in our lives. It’s never too early to relive the glory days!

Sound off in the comments below! Are you guilty of any of these? What photos would you add to the list?