Places I want to Visit this Summer

Good evening readers!

As American Dance Festival planning is now in full swing, I am looking forward to being in North Carolina for most of the summer! While I am in North Carolina, I am hoping some weekends my fiancè and I can escape to some other fun southern cities! We probably won’t be able to travel too far because of his military obligations and my dance obligations. Regardless, there are a lot of fun towns I want to see this summer while I am living below the Mason Dixon for 2 months, so here is my wishlist!

1. Charleston, South Carolina

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Ok so I’ve been DYING to go to Charleston for the longest time. I am obsessed with all of the southern charm this city posesses and the history it carries. I’d like to visit the main part of town with the rainbow rowhouses, and also visit the some of the old plantations. U.S. history interests me, and it would be fun to learn more about U.S. history by visiting a historic city in person! Also, I hear the main strip of Charleston has fun bars and restaurants, and I am always down to try local fare and explore!

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

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Unfortunately, I do not think I will make it to New Orleans this summer just because it is a tad bit too far away from Durham, NC 😦 However, I REALLY want to go, and if I can I will! My interest in New Orleans is tied with Charleston because they both have such a deep and intricate history in the formation of the southern United States. Also, I’ve been dying to go to New Orleans ever since I read “A Street Car Named Desire”. Am I the only one who has read the entirety of that play three times? No? Just Me? I’d love to see the French Quarter and visit voodoo shops, have a night of fun on Bourbon Street, and have beignets with espresso while listening to street jazz music!

3. Wilmington, North Carolina

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I’ve been to Wilmington, NC before, but it makes number 3 on my list because it is fairly close to Durham, and I love Wrightsville beach. I mean – it is NOT a Jersey beach by any means – BUT it is clean and full of young people and the town strip has a lot of fun bars and places to eat! This will be a fun trip for the weekend before or after my birthday (which is July 3 FYI!). Fun fact – the great ice cream parlor in downtown Wilmington we always visit when we are there (called Kilwins) has a location in Ridgewood, NJ!

4. Savannah, Georgia

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Ah, another city whose southern charm appeals to my inner explorer! My fiancè had the opportunity to visit Savannah while on medical rotations in GA, and I was so peanut butter and jelly! I want to visit Savannah so badly because I hear the center of town is super cute (as this photo depicts). Savannah is a 5 hour drive from NC, so maybe we will have the chance to visit this historic city as well! I’d like to visit some local eateries, in addition to historic sites like plantations and Civil War battle grounds.

5. Outer Banks, North Carolina

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Believe it or not, I’ve never made it to the Outer Banks in NC! Growing up, so many kids I went to school with vacationed to the Outer Banks for Memorial Day, the summer, or Labor Day, and I’ve always wanted to go to see what all of the fuss is about! I am doubtful the beaches are as nice as New Jersey beaches (can you tell I’m biased LOL), but if they are as nice as Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, I bet I would love them! I feel like the Outer Banks would be more of a “Plop my ass on the beach and not move all weekend” kind of adventure, and I am totally okay with that!

6. Charlotte, North Carolina

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I’ve been wanting to visit Charlotte for a long time. The only time I’ve ever been there was on a flight layover to Disney World when I was 12 and that doesn’t count! There are a lot of small dance companies based in Charlotte, and I would love to visit to take class and maybe even see a dance show! If this city is anything like Durham or Raleigh, I know my fiancè and I will have a blast exploring it! I want to try all of the local hotspots for food and check out some of the best bars. It is always fun to try some of the local craft beers in these southern cities also, and I’m sure there are microbreweries in or near Charlotte!

7. Nashville, Tennessee

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Last but certainly NOT least is Nashville! I would L.O.V.E. to visit this city! A lot of people I know visited Nashville in 2017, and I WISH I could have gone! I am not the biggest fan of country music, but “when in Rome” I would definitely be into it if I were visiting! Also, just look at all of the lights, hustle and bustle, and all of the musical history that happened here! Nashville is probably too far of a drive (I believe it’s about 8 hours from NC), so I probably won’t make it here in the summer, but I would love to go at some point this year!

I hope you enjoyed reading through my wishlist! I hope I can actually visit some of these places this summer while I am living in NC! 🙂 Have you visited any of these cities on my list? Which are your favorite, and what do you recommend doing there? Let me know!

**I do not own these pictures or the rights to these images. Copyright infringement not intended. Each image is hyperlinked to the URL in which they were found**

xoxo

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March Trip to North Carolina!

Hello beautiful readers!

I am sorry my blog was quiet over the weekend – I visited my fiance down in North Carolina! I didn’t bring my computer because I wanted to be able to focus on my fiance while I was away. Nonetheless, I wanted to tell you all a little about my trip and the fun I had.

I was supposed to arrive early morning Friday, but due to winter storm Riley, I left Thursday morning and arrived in Raleigh early to beat the storm. My fiance picked me up after he got off of work, we picked up a rental car, and drove to his place to stay the night.

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Our hotel accomodations were for Friday, so on our way to the hotel the next afternoon we stopped in Southern Pines, NC for lunch and ice cream. There is a beautiful old railroad that runs through the center of Southern Pines, so of course I saw the opportunity for a photoshoot. 🙂

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On Saturday, I guest taught at a dance studio in Fuquay-Varina. I had a really great time, and the children and parents seemed to really enjoy me and my classes. After teaching, we stopped at an apartment complex we are thinking of moving into to get on the waitlist. We then headed over to a wedding venue for a tour. After the tour, we went back to the hotel to shower and get dressed to get ready to go out on the town for the night!

Sunday morning, we had brunch and toured another wedding venue! This location was in downtown Raleigh. I saw another opportunity for a fun photo, so of course, I went ahead and did something dance-y for a fun picture. It helps that Raleigh has a lot of aesthetically pleasing backdrops all over the city! We ate at a great Italian restaurant that night – which is the first time in two years we have found good Italian food in NC!

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I flew home early Monday morning, and I am so sad my weekend with my love is already over. I can’t wait to see him again next month, and hopefully I will be seeing him a lot over the summer since I will be attending the American Dance Festival!

What are your favorite spots in NC? Is there any place my fiance and I should visit that you love?! Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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Why You’re More than a “Military Spouse”

Good morning everybody! Today I want to discuss something I believe deeply that I feel military spouses of all kinds need to think about.

I actually do not like the label “military spouse”. For as many reasons I can find to why it is beneficial, there are just as many I can think of to why it is not. I think the term “military spouse” gives partners of military service members a sense of community. It provides a network of people who share similar struggles, and a support system of people who understand military lifestyle. For these reasons, the term is good.

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HOWEVER. I think a lot of military spouses (women in particular), find the need to identify as a “military spouse”, and that alone. Their identity rests in their husband or wife’s accomplishments and career goals, and they forget about their own. Now, I am in NO WAY saying we should not whole-heartedly support them. Soldiers need our support, especially from their families and spouses. Nonetheless, I don’t believe significant other’s must “identify” as a “military spouse” because I think it takes away our own goals, accomplishments, and at the core – our own identity.

I will speak about military wives in particular since I will be one in the somewhat near future. How many times a week, or even a day, do we see military significant other’s posting on social media about their husband’s job or how hard it is to be in a relationship with someone in the military? As proud of our spouses as we are, and as hard as our relationships are and can be, why are these areas the primary focus of military spouse conversation? Why can’t we discuss our own dreams and career goals, and help each other meet them, instead of focusing all of our energy on our partner’s career? How many times a week do we see military service members posting socially about how proud they are of something their wife or partner has accomplished?

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I can’t speak on behalf of any other relationship, however, I see more military wives and girlfriends posting about their husband’s career more than their own career, accomplishments, or success. I feel like in 2018, military significant others need to start taking responsibility for their own success and career, and stop living vicariously through their partner’s accomplishments. Don’t think being a military spouse is the sole reason you were put on this Earth, and the only accomplished title you can have during your partner’s term of service.

Embrace who YOU ARE, your UNIQUENESS, and your PURPOSE. Yes, you are technically a military spouse (we all are), but THAT IS NOT YOUR LIMIT. I am so sick of seeing women settle for just their milspouse title, and I see it in women from all walks of life. Your goals are not unrealistic, and just because your partner is living their dream doesn’t mean you can’t live yours.

There are some factors that are discouraging. If you choose to live with your partner, and you are stationed in Guam or Diego Garcia, or even in Rota Spain, yes that makes accomplishing your dreams more difficult. If you choose to live apart from your partner, it makes the dreams you want to accomplish with your partner more difficult, or relishing in your personal victories difficult because your partner isn’t there to celebrate. But we can choose to look at this lifestyle negatively or positively. If there is a will, there is a way, and no amount of distance and no location can stop you from working towards some sort of goal you have! As long as you are proud of yourself and the work you do, you can be proud of the identity you’ve created, and stop settling for your partner’s identity.

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Let me be clear and also state that this is not the case with every military couple! There are plenty of successful military spouses who have partner’s who are very supportive and proud of them. And not every woman spouse I’ve met or known thinks this way or is this way. But there is a large majority who do, and I think it’s time to speak on it.

Stop settling for less and chase after more. For example, my career goals are just as varied an unpredictable as my fiance’s, but we support each other even though it means it makes our lives more difficult. As a dancer, professional work is not guaranteed, and I have to audition for jobs that could take me to a new state, take me on a cruise line for 9 months, or keep me in the NYC area and away from my partner. My personal sentiments are if I don’t give myself a fair shot in this lifetime, when will I ever give myself the time to flourish? And if your partner doesn’t support your goals and dreams, then that is something else to think about too.

To wrap this up, it all boils down to knowing the difference between unconditional love and support for your partner and their job, and identifying yourself with your partner’s job. Be supportive of each other, love each other, and embrace who you are because it is just as IMPORTANT AND SPECIAL as your partner’s identity. Set goals, crush them, and be proud of YOU!

Until next time, xoxo

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Shutterfly Free Wedding Invitation Samples – YAY or NAY?

Ok everyone! So I have a crazy story for you all, and it involves Shutterfly.com and their wedding shop.

A few weeks ago (Jan. 4 to be exact), I tweeted randomly that I wanted to nail down a wedding date so I could actually start planning a wedding. Nonetheless (and super creepy-ish!) Shutterfly Wedding Shop tweeted at me that they have a free sample kit you can order where you can customize 5 of their wedding invitation designs and they will send them to you for free to see how you like the design with all of your details. Cool, right? So I went online and did just that.

HOWEVER, their app kept crashing on my iPad, so it took me forever to actually design these invitations because their site was SO SLOW. Then to make matters worse, apparently only a select grouping of wedding invitation designs are available for the 5 free sample discount (unbeknownst to me), so 2 of the five in my cart that were not eligible. It took my about 2 hours to find and design all 5 eligible designs that I liked because of their crashing mobile site and the design exlcusions.

FINALLY, I made it to the check out with all eligible designs in my cart to find out that shipping was an additional $6!! They had never mentioned that shipping was not included in the free samples, and I was almost positive they said the shipping was included in the promo. Not only that, but Shutterfly then TAXED THE COST OF SHIPPING. I’ve never heard of such a thing!!! It cost me about $7 to get the invites to me. But here is the REAL kicker. THEY NEVER GOT TO ME.

I ordered the invites on January 10, and they shipped on January 12. They said they were in NJ (where I live) on January 16 and were supposed to be delivered that day (which they weren’t). I messaged Shutterfly that day and they said apparently they were now supposed to be delivered by January 26.

10 days later, it was January 26, & I still had not received them in the mail! I contacted Shutterfly AGAIN, and this time they reprinted them for me, and compensated me by sending them next-day air at no charge to me. I received the resent batch about four days later.

Here are the samples that finally arrived. My favorite is the one all the way to the top right of the screen that has the pretty, wintery border design.

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Were these invitation samples worth the wait? Probably not. Was it cool, though, to see our prospective wedding details laid out on five different designs? YES! These make the wedding feel like it is real. Also, we were not sure on a date, but 12/19/2019 sounded fun (we want a winter wedding), so we went with that for our design. I didn’t order any invitations with fancy borders because realistically when we do decide to order wedding invitations, we are not going to spend a lot of extra money on silly things like the border or lining in the envelopes.

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What is cool about the Shutterfly invitations is that they keep the theme of the invitations on the backside. BUT, what is awful about Shutterfly Wedding Shop is that they don’t let you print any details on the backside, so they basically force you to have to order the RSVP cards, and reception location cards, and spend another small fortune. What they should do is charge a smaller fee to add text to the backside to save the fricken trees and to keep costs affordable.

Nonetheless, I’d give my experience with Shutterfly Wedding Shop a 4/10. Verdict is a NAY. It was nice that they fixed the shipping problem, but there were so many issues with their website and design software. For the prices they charge for their invitations, their site and shipping should be SUPERB and they should not charge brides for shipping after they spend a lot of time and money designing them.

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I will most likely not use Shutterfly Wedding Shop for my wedding. Have any of you used them? What was your experience? Also, any recommendations on other wedding invitation services would be appreciated! ❤

Happy Tuesday and happy wedding planning!

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QALO Silicone Engagement Ring

Hello Leaps readers, how are you on this drizzly Sunday?

Today I am reviewing the pink silicone QALO ring my fiance bought me. If you don’t know what QALO is, it is a brand that manufactures silicone engagement and wedding bands for couples who are active and who don’t want to let their daily activities ruin their regular engagement and wedding bands.

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The brand’s name means Quality, Athletics, Love, and Outdoors. These rings are ideal for people in professions that utilize weapons, (such as military or police force), for people in active lifestyle and fitness professions (dancers, athletes, coaches), and for people who love to spend time adventuring outdoors (hiking, camping, international traveling, etc.).

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I dance and teach over 30 hours a week, so I don’t like to wear my beautiful engagement ring everyday since there is always the threat of it being scratched or damaged from the work I do. So for Valentine’s day babe bought me the cutest ring from QALO! We picked out a cute “stackable” ring which is thinner than the QALO wedding band design. These stackable rings are designed to mimic the look of an engagement band, and to wear these stackable rings with the QALO wedding band (which is thicker and wider).

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The package comes with a cute neoprene bag. Each ring has a corresponding bag in a different color (mine happened to be rose gold <3), and the ring itself is in a small plastic bag within the neoprene case. Also included in your package are coupons for 20% off your next order, a ring size guide, and QALO stickers.

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The ring is obviously not as stunning as the sparkler my man gave me when he proposed, but it is a cute and fun way to celebrate our engagement while I’m at work, dancing, teaching, and auditioning! I wore this baby all day yesterday, and actually slept in it, and it is super comfortable. My regular engagement ring is a size 5.75, but online the QALO size 6 looked really tiny. The website recommends you size up so I ordered a QALO size 7. It moves a little bit on my finger, however, I love the size 7 because it is not squeezing or suffocating my finger. Definitely size up if you order from them!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and let me know in the comments below if you have a QALO ring and what you think of it!! Mine is going to be amazing for my work demands! ❤

Happy Sunday everyone, and happy engagement!

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