Whole Foods: Where Shopping Really IS a Pleasure

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Today was the grand opening of Whole Foods Market in Tallahassee. I met up with my friend Larry (after my morning run – which in hindsight was good after all the free carb samples ;)) in the parking lot across the street around 8:30. We joined the line that wrapped throughout the parking lot, for the opening at 9am. It was a chilly 63 degrees this morning and a hazy, cloudy sky made it look like it was about 7am instead of 9, but it felt wonderful to get a break from the humidity. We mingled with the woman standing in front of us (and her adorable son playing with a plastic ambulance.) Everyone was in great spirits, and they were even handing out baked goods throughout the line! We were 400 and 401 in line.

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When I was little, I hated (hated) when we had to go grocery shopping. Everything about it just felt like a torturous experience. Now, I’m excited about it. I’d been anticipating this opening (and that of Trader Joe’s even closer to my house, on Friday.) It literally felt like a food playground in there today. I’ve never sampled so many different kinds of cheeses in my life. I watched an older man (with a cool old fashioned hat) eat a pie sample like a shot. We ran into old friends. We saw our line mate.

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The hot bar has insane amount of different kinds of food. Now I know where to go when I want chinese but don’t want to order like five cartons. There are bacon, smoked gouda hushpuppies! (Right next to delicious mac and cheese, and what I’m sure are equally good collard greens.) My favorite beer, of all time, in a six pack ON SALE! (Bell’s Oberon.) BOGO on gelato. Pumpkin mousse! Macaroons! My Van’s power grain protein waffles! Not to mention the pub style roast beef sandwiches, a million kinds of meat and fish and fruit. Just everything.

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After eyeing the hush puppies, my mind was made up when someone recommended them to me. There’s a bar with beer on tap, cocktails, and appetizers! We talked to the bar tender for a bit. (Yeah, I was the person carrying around a six pack at 930 in the morning.) I mean, this is a good place to meet new friends, haha. You know the guy who makes the awesome hard candy at Lofty Pursuits? They sell it packaged there! And he was doing a sample table today. I’m so excited for him. That means even more exposure for his awesome craft.

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There was a jazz band playing at the front of the store. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Could it have gotten any cooler? And we got free reusable bags filled with all kinds of samples. And when we walked in they gave us free ground coffee!

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Larry got this awesome tall mason jar (I think his was filled with sweet tea,) this morning and I was thinking about it today so after I met Ethan and Megan at Decent Pizza I went back for a second time to get one for myself. Mine’s filled with what I’m sure I’ll enjoy of the “Backyard Brew” iced coffee. Fun fact? You can take the jar back to the coffee bar for a $1 refill! As I perused the aisles I overheard employees talking about how different Tallahassee customers are (as compared to another part of Florida,) and how friendly everyone was today. They were excited and surprised by how so many people wanted to engage in conversation. There were a lot of police officers on site inside and outside the store, I’m guessing for crowd control (and necessary traffic control.) One of the cops who works on game days by the stadium was there and I kept ending up in the same section as him and a friend and they joked about me following them.

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By the time I got to the register with my gelato and iced coffee, I was greeted by a very pleasant cashier and bagger. We talked about it being my second time there that day and about the jars. And did you know that for each reusable bag you use they donate 10 cents (either you get it refunded back to you, or you can give it to a local or world charity!) They found an old receipt from The Fresh Market in my bag and joked about how I couldn’t shop there anymore. And then we talked about how the opening went and everything.

I know this is a scattered entry, but I just had to write it down somewhere. It might sound silly, but I had today off of work and that can be positive and negative. I need a chance to recharge my batteries, but sometimes when I have an empty house and a stretch of day ahead of me without distraction, all the thoughts that flood my mind can be overwhelming. This morning on my run an old friend screamed my name from traffic, and it was the extra motivation I needed to finish that run. Combined with going to dinner with my brother and his girlfriend (and a good interaction with someone working at the pizza place,) and wandering around grocery shopping with a friend (and a visit to my safe haven – the library, downtown) I really needed today. It just turned all my negative energy I felt looming, around. Like it spit it back out as positive instead.

I’m sure I’m a chatty cathy and sometimes I talk too much but I think my most favorite thing is good customer service experiences. It says so much, about an organization, the establishment, the people, and it can do wonders for someones day (and I can tell you personally – that it can affect both sides.) I needed to find some peace today, and I did – I took an afternoon walk in this gorgeous cool temperature we have floating around Tallahassee right now, and the sun finally peaked out for a bit!

Multiple lessons from today: appreciate the little things.
Be nice to everyone.
Go check out Whole Foods when you get a chance!
Take even a minute to step outside, turn your face towards the sky, feel the sunshine and the cool breeze and savor it for a moment.

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Tennessee Edition

Remember when I promised I’d share a few pics from my trip to Tennessee? Well, I know I am a total slacker but here I am with photos to share!

I just love airports, so I had to snap a shot of the “Welcome to Knoxville” sign.

And my view from the adorable row of rocking chairs, located across from a Starbucks. I sat and drank coffee, and chatted with my mom, and skimmed Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like.

The title of my Facebook album was appropriately “Tennessee Stole My Heart.” Because my goodness, it did. Even the dog park was gorgeous!

Codey got to play with lots of other dogs.

One of my favorite parts was this gigantic used book warehouse called McKay’s.

Nerd heaven, I’m telling you.

This wine bar called Drink. is one of the coolest ideas ever.

Could we have asked for more beautiful scenery on the roadtrip to Nashville?

This angle makes it look like a short distance across, but that was not the case. The rock I landed on was not very sturdy and into the water I went.

Relaxing on the deck in the sun, airing out my shoe, munching on Dill Pickle pork rinds. (I recommend!)

Playing tourist in front of the Loveless Cafe sign.

These hot biscuits with homemade preserves? Worth the wait.

Southern Biscuit Sampler with hashbrown casserole. Ohmyword.

Goo Goo Cluster pie that I saved for a “midnight” (more like 3am ha) snack.

Your guess is as good as mine and what exactly this means? Dentist convention?

Happy hour at the hotel where we made new friends.

Love this pretty lady.

This is a classic Leah/Megs photo.

Canadian money from our new friends.

We decided it was a must to go to Jack in the Box since neither of us had ever been. Forget the fact that we had just eaten breakfast.

Someone needs to get Florida involved in this deliciousness. Mini churros!

Grand Ole Opry woo!

Shoutout to Blake!

Gorgeous flowers!

Delicious portobello eggplant sandwich at Fido.

Windy walk to explore Vanderbilt campus.

Seriously beautiful.

How cool is this bike rental system?

Mmm Whiskey Pecan and Salted Caramel icecream with a shot of espresso from Hot/Cold.

So there ya go! I am a little bit (and by that I mean a TON) in love with Tennessee now, and believe you me this will not be my last visit. I can’t tell you how many sweepstakes I’ve entered for country music festival/award show tickets in Nashville this past month, haha. Fingers crossed 😉

Friday Favorites #3

I’m on a roll right? All that neglect, and now you’re probably wishing I’d shut up! Well, well I don’t think you’ll be sorry for checking this out because for Friday Favorites I’ve got a few goodies to share this week.

Stumble Upon sent me an e-mail out of nowhere this week (I don’t remember the last time I logged in!) and directed me to Everyone’s Mixtape. Talk about awesome! I haven’t made any of my own yet, but I’m loving the concept and Stumble definitely knows me well. This description just melts my heart because it means people still get it. This is exactly how I feel when I make those mixes I mail out.

“Everyone’s Mixtape is not about adding songs and hitting shuffle. It’s about the time you looked at a cassette’s length as a challenge. About the time you stayed up most of the night making sure all the tracks flowed from song to song. It’s about the time your heart skipped a beat when the boy from science class handed you your first mixtape.”

Getting to spend the weekend with this pretty lady for her birthday last week! (Photo from our visit to Savannah MLK JR. weekend.)

We had boiled crawfish and homemade icecream and played cards and everyone enjoyed each others company. It was one of the most relaxing weekends in a while, (especially after all the craziness lately!)

The fact that the sun FINALLY shined for a little bit on the beach.

A Pretty Little Liars spinoff show called Ravenswood was announced this week! (Umm hello, they KNOW they can bank off of the PLL audience. I’m ok with that. It’s like L&O that doesn’t give me nightmares. But makes me feel like I’m keeping my investigative skills sharpened.)

OK, I know I did a Wish List post yesterday, so I don’t want y’all to think I’m super materialistic, but it would be mean of me not to tell you guys how awesome these Under Armour shorts are. I own my fair share of Norts (Nike Shorts) from over the years, but I found these when I was on the hunt for St.Patty’s gear and my word they are my new favorites. I wish I could wear them to work. I even went back and got the redish/coral color (with a Sports Authority coupon so I didn’t feel so guilty.)

Jax Weekend Recap Part Two: Piano Man, Beach Bars, Cemetery Run, & Irish Fun

PART TWO

Once I finally arrived in Jacksonville, and my friend picked me up outside of the Florida Theatre, the rest of the weekend was a lot smoother. I felt like a hitchhiker most of the time, but with awesome people donating rides. When Beth swooped me up they’d brought me a piece of pizza! Since all I’d eaten since 5ish was an orange, and it was almost 11 that was like heaven in a box. We went by her and Anna’s place real quick so she could let her dog Codi out real fast, and oh my gosh what a love muffin! So sweet! (I know, I’ve met SO MANY great dogs lately!) Then we went over to this place called Monkey’s Uncle where we met up with a bunch of their friends. There was karoke going on. I rarely drink anymore, but I also rarely go to bars anymore (red letter weekend!) but I definitely got a second wind of energy after such a crazy day. I had already decided that with me being in Jax and my car being in Georgia, there was no point in worrying about anything. So I did just that, and it was really nice to truly let things go. Their friends were a riot and if there is something I love it is definitely watching entertaining karoke. I mean seriously. ESPECIALLY when Piano Man is involved, seriously this guy (who they kept calling Yellowcard and since YC was from Jax I had to wonder if he was originally involved with the band?) did like THE BEST VERSION of Piano Man I’ve ever heard! Their friend Bo got reeeally into it, and it was awesome. Then their friend Courtney sang Friends in Low Places and she was on crutches for a foot injury and she definitely involved the crutch into her “routine,” and she had the whole bar clapping. Then a few of the girls did a rendition of Brown Eyed Girl. Annnd this adorable old man with a hat with feathers all over it sang Sweet Caroline, and of course that’s a classic crowd favorite. One girl sang Sweet Home Alabama, but the first time she changed Alabama to Jacksonville Beach, (which just doesn’t fit.) THEN she changed it to California for the rest of the song?! It was so long winded and bizarre. There was this woman that was wayyy shorter than me that was all about getting one of the guys to dance with her. She just wanted to twirl and twirl. So that was entertaining as well. (But don’t we all wanna twirl sometimes?) We stayed until they closed, and then eventually went to two of Beth’s guy friends house, where I got to pick the satellite radio station on the ride home (which is my favorite thing to do,) and we played with the dog Charlie Brown (another dog! Another adorable name!) and watched Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. I mean seriously, perfection because I know I’ve told y’all before how that’s another one of my favorite things, when people end up sitting around together just being. Simple. Love it.

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Saturday was a fabulous blend of everything. Brunch at The Brick (mimosa, grits, and spinach & goat cheese Benedict – DELICIOUS.) Wandering around that area, in the little shops. Picked up some flowers from the Farmer’s Market. Race packet pick up at 1st Place Sports. A short venture to the outlet mall in St.Augustine. Icees from Race Trac! And eventually we headed out to Lemon Bar (which is technically in Neptune Beach) and M Shack (OMGsh obsessed – like Shake Shack obsessed, except it might’ve stolen its spot. I got the mushroom burger and onion rings and I was too full for a shake, but those all sounded fabulous too.) It was just a laid back enjoyable day. The sun was shining, it was breezy, the music and company were good – what more could you ask for?

Sunday was St.Patrick’s Day. We got up super early and headed out to Evergreen Cemetery for the St.Patty’s Day 5k! We saw the sun rise on our drive over. It was a fun, fast run – it was cool, shaded and flat. Basically the opposite of Tallahassee runs, haha. It was super fun. The first mile was reeeeally crowded, but after that it thinned out. Beth and I left soon after (you know how I love to stay, but hey like I said mercy of people who give me rides!) we finished because it was still an hour before any awards would start. Apparently we both won second place in our respective age groups! (We’re five months apart, so we’re not in the same age bracket right now.) But it was worth it because she took me to the most amazing breakfast place that I’d heard everyone raving about. Metro Diner. (I had the cinnamon raisin pecan french toast, with hash-browns and Snickerdoodle coffee, but seriously all the choices were amazing – fried chicken Benedict served on a waffle?! Banana split waffle with pineapple and icecream?! Omgshhh, definitely need to go back if you can’t hear the enthusiasm of my inner fat kid right now.) Then we kind of went all over the place on a sunglasses search, with no results.But I did find a dress to wear for St.Pat’s for like $11 – haha can’t beat that. And of course I wanted everything in the surf shops we went in (but what I’d want more is for that sun to come and stick around here, with warmer temps not this freeze warning junk!)

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Later we went over to the girl’s house and hung out on the back deck drinking, chatting, jamming to Jimmy Buffett Pandora (and yes there was another dog involved!

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Eventually we made moves to a bar called Culhane’s for some St.Patty’s Day celebrating. (Including more of my favorites – Guinness and Irish Car Bombs and BAGPIPES!) We met this guy who was a DJ for the radio station, and even though it was kind of dark and rainy-ish it was a great afternoon. Eventually I got a cab back to Beth’s place so my mind could come scoop me up so I could get back to Tallahassee. The cab ride was definitely interesting. Remember how my one roadtrip rule is “DO NOT DISCUSS DELIVERANCE!” ?! Well, what do you know, I’m telling the cab driver my story and he’s singing the banjo song over – myohmy. Then I just went and hung out with the dog again for a while til my mom got me and I got a kid’s meal from Bojangles. Obviously this weekend was full of friends, food, and fun.

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Spend Less, Give More: Warby Parker

Hello, hello and welcome to another post in my Spend Less, Give More series! If you’re just now joining us,  here’s a recap: I’ve been using Mugs Life to spotlight some different organizations to consider contributing to during this Christmas season. If you’re going to give gifts anyways, why not try presents with a purpose? Give something that will have a lasting impact on someone’s life! The previous posts have highlighted different needs people face on a daily basis, both physical and emotional: : clean water (Charity:Water), food and sustainability (to put it simply) Heifer International, shoes and eyesight TOMs, mental health with To Write Love On Her Arms, and yesterday’s which is mental health in a different way where you contribute your time instead of money through the outreach of writing love letters with More Love Letters.

Today I’m shifting the focus again, and if you’re a vet reader of Mugs Life today’s post won’t be much of a surprise. I’ve been gushing about Warby Parker Eyewear for a while now. (I even enlisted your help when I was deciding on frames during the at-home try-on process.) Like TOMs, Warby Parker Eyewear is a one-for-one organization, with every pair of glasses you purchase, a pair is given to someone in need! Did you know that “almost one billion people worldwide don’t have access to glasses?” The people at Warby Parker believe that “everyone has the right to see.” Why don’t we join them in their mission, by improving eyesight and in turn improving the condition of people’s lives!

(Image borrowed from the Warby Parker Facebook page.)

I found out about Warby Parker from my friend Megan. I had mentioned at lunch one Sunday that I was on the lookout for a new pair of glasses, and she asked if I had checked out Warby Parker? She’d seen one of their pop-up shops before and said, she thought I’d really like them. So when I got home, I went to their website and was intrigued immediately. I’ve always loved funky frames, back in seventh grade mine were kind of Drew Carey style (just smaller for my twelve year old face.) And I have always wanted glasses that looked like something Lisa Loeb might wear – stand-out, bold, different. Warby Parker definitely fits all these adjectives. BUT what really sold me, and I knew I was in as soon as I read it, was that with every pair of glasses purchased, someone else would be getting a pair. They’re partnered with Vision Spring and other non-profits to make such distributions possible! AND I knew, that like other pieces I’ve mentioned (TOMS shoes, Charity Water shirts, etc.) that people would ask me about them, that once I had their attention I could gush about what a wonderful company they are. And I kid you not – that happens on a regular basis. I’m a proud owner of the Colton whiskey tortoise shell frames. Warby Parker is able to deliver their customers extremely reasonably priced eye-wear because they sell directly to you! Seriously, when you pay $95 for prescription glasses (INCLUDING frames AND lenses!!), and you’re essentially buying two pair does it get better than that? Warby Parker has a great at home try-on process, where they’ll mail you five pairs of glasses that you can keep for five days. Take pics, share with friends, wear around, get opinions and a feel for which pair you think best suits you! The return process is extremely simple as well and did I mention FREE SHIPPING? (Side note: international ordering coming soon! Share with your friends around the world!) And if none of those five pairs were the right fit for you? Try again!

(Me in my Warby Parker Coltons.)

I think it’s also extremely important to note that the Warby Parker Eyewear company has impeccable customer service. Honestly they are one of the best companies I’ve ever communicated with. They promptly respond to people reaching out on social media (Facebook & Twitter,) answer e-mails, are completely accurate with estimated mail times and it seems like their employees go out of the way to make your experience with the company all-together pleasant. I couldn’t contain my excitement about them, and as soon as anyone asks me about my glasses, or tells me that they need new glasses I start rambling about how awesome Warby Parker is. Warby Parker is constantly expanding their eyewear selection, now you can purchase prescription (and non-prescription) sunglasses, as well. This is great because you can still participate even if you have perfect eye-sight (lucky you!) If you want to share the gift of Warby Parker with a friend, but want them to be able to pick out the frames themselves, why not try a Warby Parker gift card? Fun fact time! Guess where Warby Parker got their name from? Any guesses? Jack Kerouac’s early characters: Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper! Also, there are some cool ways to interact with other Warby Parker fans, and the company out in real-life as they have a Class Trip Tour with traveling show rooms! Also, be on the lookout for pop-up shops! (PS: check out the blog, and they’re also on Instagram!)

Be sure to check out stories of lives being changed by Warby Parker.

Turning 25

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Yeah, I know I’m a little slow on this since my birthday was two weeks ago. I have plenty of photos from that day so I figured I should share. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never really been a fan of my birthday – it’s actually probably one of my least favorite days of the year. Mostly because I always build up unrealistic expectations in my head that can never be met. I tried to draw a screeching halt to that a few years ago, but it’s a lot of years of thinking one way to undo. Though I find if I just kind of try and pretend I don’t really care that helps. The expectations don’t have anything to do with gifts, mostly just that I’ve always wanted to spend the day with friends or to feel like I do during say…an Orlando weekend, or like that time we had a big girl time reunion at Eryn’s deb ball, or like the magic that always seems to surround wedding receptions when close friends are having a good time. (The last time I had a birthday party was when I turned 13, which was one of the most fun ever because we all got a long, no hurt feelings,a giant girl party riding in a limo to Ocala, dinner at Chilli’s and a sleepover at my house where we stayed up late, and did cheer leading stunts in the front yard and human pyramids in my room. Not lying I’d take an evening like that now, too. Sleepovers are my favorite. Nothing like waking up surrounded by your favorite people! (Unfortunately since it’s always in that little span of “holiday time” around Thanksgiving that never happens. Though I’ve found being away from family and friends on my birthday is an awful combination, so I’ll take what I can get. This year my birthday fell on Black Friday, so we were still in Mexico Beach at my grandma’s house. It was nice to spend the day with my parents, and my brother before he went back to Tallahassee to meet up with friends that were coming to stay with him for the weekend. I started the day off with a run, and I thought to myself that I hope I go for a run on every birthday for the rest of my life…My parents always try really hard on my birthday, (which I’m aware of) knowing my distaste for it and I’m thankful for that since I know it’s kind of an impossible task. I always feel like I’m holding my breath until the day is over. We went and wandered around Apalachicola, (you should check it out, it really is a charming spot with plenty to be entertained by…) thinking it’d be a quiet day since it was black Friday and all. Oh, we thought wrong. There were like a katrillion people there! There was a big turn out to see Santa ride in on a shrimp boat, and there was some kind of lighting of the festive lights going on. So unusual, seriously! But it was a gorgeous day to be walking around. We ate some good seafood (conch cakes, oysters, fried gator, and really awesome homemade potato chips) on the back deck over looking the water at Up The Creek Raw Bar. We walked around downtown looking at funky items, and old Southern books (this lady had a first edition of The Great Tide !) and wrapped up the day with a drink (a vanilla beer that was tall and dark!) and some delicious desserts (extremely unique icecream – Tupelo Honey and Lavender with baklava! And salted carmel with a chocolate mocha rum fudge cake!)  from the Tap Room at The Owl. My mom made a delicious coconut cake and I blew out the candles, even though I was determined not to make a wish this time. I really love that blur of light in lit candles, so I guess that’s one cool part of the years adding up – more light! We had leftover Thanksgiving ham sandwiches for dinner (which is my favorite part of traditional holiday meals anyway – the sandwiches from leftovers 😉 )

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My new favorite motto, hanging on the wall in the restaurant.
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What better way to start the day than a tray of raw oysters? Probably my favorite food. Next to icecream. Weirdo, I know…
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Favorite kind of view.
IMG_5697Yoga on a houseboat!
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Old bicycle hanging up in the book shop. Banana seat, high handle bars – dream bike right there!
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Santa on a shrimp boat! (My mom has better photos of this.)
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Bro repping  All Tide Up. (You can get one of those long-sleeve t’s here.)
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Me, bro, mom. My  mom’s got the one of E, dad and I on her camera, unfortunately!
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Loved this colorful collection of buoys.
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IMG_5693So, that’s the story of how a day I wasn’t very much looking forward to turned out pretty awesome. (And to top it off when I got back I had some very sweet mail from some very sweet friends that literally had me tearing up as I read it at the kitchen table.)

Seaside in Photos

You might remember back in October I posted about a little day-trip my friend Megan and I took (Saturday at Seaside.) Well, I hadn’t shared any photos from that day, so I figured now would be a good time!

Unfortunately I forgot my camera in my car that day, but here are a few instagrams and mobile photos:

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Yay for all our snack times being outdoors this day. View from Sonic 😉

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See how cute is this building?!

Nothing like eating a plate of raw oysters, on a breezy porch in North Florida.

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Genius idea for a condiment container!

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Tiramisu gelato, mmm!

See that gorgeous sunset? Perfect day.

Views like this always make the TV nerd in me think of the first season of The OC.

Slowly sinking…

The waves were a little rough…

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Meghan & Megan!

I see the moon and the moon sees me!

Simply beautiful…

One of my favorites…(when I took this some kid probably about 13 commented on my shirt choice for the day and a mom was trying to pose her family together to take photos on the ledge. A lot of amusing entertainment surrounded us, haha.)

Love the feel of this little independent music store…

The deck had a great view of the lights and what was left of the sunset sky…

I felt like Penny  Lane…

I always tell the girls, never take it seriously, if ya never take it seriously, ya never get hurt, ya never get hurt, ya always have fun, and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.