Let’s Talk Podcasts: August & September

These days I’m listening to podcasts more than I watch television. I’ve been traveling a lot more and popping on a new podcast can make a 5 or 6 hour drive go by 10x faster. True crime stories really catch my interest so I try to find all that I can. Podcasts these days are really going above and beyond normal storytelling. Some of these investigative journalists are actually solving crimes that might have been cold for years. It’s amazing.

Aside from true crime, I have really gotten into fictional stories. I thought it was a stretch at first, but now that’s what I find myself listening to them the most. Here’s what I’ve been listening to these days:

Knock Knock
This true crime story takes place in Starkville, Mississippi. Two elderly women were killed on Labor Day weekend in the early 90s. Now, the grandson of one of the victims is determined to figure out who committed this obscene crime.

I lived in Starkville for two years during college and had no idea this ever took place. Best of luck to everyone involved in this investigation – I hope you get to the bottom of it!

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In The Dark
Jacob Wetterling was abducted while riding his bike home and never to be seen again more than 20 years ago. This podcast dives into the story, the suspects, and how the law enforcement mishandled information. The bigger picture here is – what questions should we be asking when someone goes missing. It’s hard to hear how easily evidence can fall through the cracks. Truly a great listen!

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Tanis
This story is so hard to wrap my mind around because it’s so well thought out it has me thinking…Is this actually in our world? I really can’t explain “what” Tanis is, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Tanis is a truly compelling narrative that I would recommend anyone who is fascinated by lore or urban legend-type stories. Episode after episode I am left wondering. I have so many theories! It’s hard to stop this one.

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Homecoming
Another very convincing fictional story based in a secret military project that went sideways. Soldiers reluctantly took place in an experiment that lead to negative lasting effects. That’s all I can say without giving too much away.
Very in-depth character development with many twists throughout the storyline.
This psychological thriller features a few well-known voices like Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, and Michael Cera!

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xx
kayla

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A Day at Kimpton Aerston Hotel

One of Kimpton’s newest hotels recently opened here in Nashville. The interior is to die for with its classic look and modern, industrial details. I got to spend some time exploring it – now I just need to treat myself to a staycation. Every detail is so effortless but creates a polished feel overall. They incorporate art in ways I’d never imagine. The details at the entrance incorporate metal and earth – those are rocks hanging down. Genius. Beautiful. I love it.

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I highly suggest a cocktail from Henley, the Aertson’s artisan restaurant. The restaurant kindly tucked in the first floor of the hotel.

You can’t miss Bette Davis’ inviting eyes as she leads you to the bar. This is by far my favorite art. The books and couches make Henley so cozy. I can definitely see myself snuggling up with a book this winter with a cup of coffee. Is that allowed?

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I fell in love with the bold details and colors everywhere. This is such a gorgeous place.

I can’t wait to come back and bring my girlfriends for a drink soon. Or maybe a date night. Definitely can’t go wrong.

xx
kayla

All photos by Brendan Lowry

Make it Yourself: Choker Tee

I recently stumbled upon this kind of shirt and I’m obsessed. Finding a shirt I wanted to use was the hardest part. If you have any kind of old t-shirt laying around, you can easily create a built-in choker.

Your supplies:
-White crayon or any kind of fabric marker
-Scissors

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Mark your shirt with curved lines that go from the collar to a center point. I put on the shirt and marked how far down I wanted it to go to make sure I didn’t cut too far down. I went down about mid chest. (Wasn’t quite sure where I wanted my lines to go, can’t you tell? I’m no artist, anyway)

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Cut along the lines. ~ Don’t cut the collar! Follow the seams around it. If your lines make you cut unevenly, here’s your time to make any extra snips. Tug on the fabric where you just made your cuts. It makes it look a little more worn and natural.

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That’s it! I love the grungy look it gives this band t, but you can always use an unprinted shirt and give it a little edge.

Love,

Bloomin’ Jack-O-Lantern DIY

Fall is here. Finally! September 22 is the day most of us have been waiting for! The leaves are starting to change and the sun isn’t as harsh when it’s shining, but it’s still warm here in Tennessee. These are all things I find beautiful along with the spookiness and crispness of Halloween time.

This year, along with some Pinterest inspiration, I found the easiest and, in my opinion, cutest decor for outside your front door. These pumpkins are easily found at Walmart or any other store that sells Halloween costumes, and they are usually no more than $1. When I was little I only remember them being neon orange though….not pink and green or blue? Oh well. I’m not asking any questions.

I absolutely love plants. I’ve really picked up on my green thumb lately. I would suggest to double check and make sure the plants you choose are made to last during the fall and winter months. I know a lot of stores are still trying to get rid of the leftover summer plants.

This craft is right up my alley, because all together it cost me under $20. The real task is going to be keeping the flowers alive! Wish me luck. I’d like to give a shoutout to my mom for helping me make these. She said she never crafts, but she enjoyed making them with me.

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Things You’ll Need:

  • plastic Jack-O-Lantern candy bucket
  • Primer spray paint* (white)
  • Any fall color spray paint*
  • Fall Plant
  • Extra Potting Soil
  • Hammer + Nails (trust me)

*make sure the spray paint you choose is made for plastic, I used Rust-oleum. It will say if it’s plastic-friendly on the label.

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Step 1:

Pull the handle out of the jack-o-lantern and apply the first coat of primer. Let that dry for about 20 minutes. You’ll probably notice the color still peeking through, so apply a second coat of primer and let that dry completely. About 20 minutes each coat.

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Step 2:

Once the second coat of primer has dried completely, it’s time to apply the color. I actually thought this color was more bronzy but it turned out to be orange, so it’s still actually very appropriate. It’s called Satin Cinnamon if you were wondering.

We also applied 2 coats of the color to ensure complete coverage. It’s pretty much impossible to complete this without getting a little paint on you, so just embrace it! #doitforthecraft Allow the paint to dry completely.

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Step 3:

So the plant will drain properly when watered, turn the dry jack-o-lantern upside down and nail about 4 holes into the bottom.

Step 4:

Now for the fun part!

I chose these gorgeous yellow flowers, they actually match perfectly with the paint color I chose. The label on thesesaid they would last all through the cold seasons too, so we’ll see about that. They were each $6 at Walmart.

Make sure you do a comparison of the flower pot to the pumpkin. We had trouble getting the plant to fit at first. We added soil in the jack-o-lantern to make sure there was enough to touch inside. With a little fluffing and adjustments, we have a completed flower pot to go outside!

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This is the first part to the many, many fall-friendly decor ideas I have. I’d love to see your fall plant or inside decor. Post a photo on Instagram using the hashtag #NFgreenthumb and #NFcrafts !

Keep up with me on social: Insta: @blowfishemoji | snapchat: @kay0

Love,

Alternative Anniversary Gifts You Should Try with Your Significant Other

Max and I just recently celebrated out 2 year 6 month anniversary. Even though it’s not a particularly important landmark in a relationship, it got me thinking of options for our 3 year anniversary. We’ve been known to do things a little differently; it’s kind of been our ongoing  theme throughout our entire relationship.

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Since distance has always been our issue (but not anymore 🙂 ), we usually celebrated in a slightly different way, usually by traveling to a new place. I think I can speak for both of us when I say travel is our favorite gift to one another.

For our two year anniversary, Max surprised me with a weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina. It was amazing and I had been itching to try a new place!

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Maybe next birthday, anniversary, or whatever you’re celebrating you can find an alternative gift that will surprise the heck out of your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse!

Make a Meal

An alternative to making reservations and eating in a restaurant is creating the meal together! It’s okay if you don’t actually know how to cook. Cooking classes can be found on Groupon and Whole Foods has a large variety of couples cooking classes and single classes. You can even sign up individually if there aren’t any couples classes available.

Do Something Daring

Have you ever been skydiving or is it something you think would be insane? Perfect. Take a chance and experiment with facing a fear – like heights. Maybe even snorkeling or swimming with dolphins is more your thing.

Since fall is creeping up get each other tickets to a haunted house. That is definitely a fun memory to share with your bae.

Or Do Something Relaxing

Let me be the one to say I love a good massage. Your muscles can get achy and stiff, especially in the cooler months. Many places such as Massage Envy offer couples’ deals.

It’s dark, relaxing, and your favorite person is in the room right next to you.

Travel

There’s a little part in all of us that wonders what all is out there, right? Or is it just me? Definitely not. When Max surprised me with our trip to Asheville, it open new doors for us in the gift giving department. I was completely oblivious!

Stay overnight in a town 1 hour away. Hop in a plane and stay somewhere for the entire week. Explore a new city and find your favorite things about it. Traveling with your best friend makes wherever you go an adventure.

 

The best part about all these gift ideas, is they can be planned together. Look into all your options before your next anniversary and make it a memory you’ll hold tight for years to come.

Love,

 

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Does everyone feel nostalgic about your hometown at some point or another or is it just me? Is that what is feels like to be “homesick” – something I’ve never admitted to before?

After leaving home almost 6 months ago, I haven’t looked back since besides a short 24 hour visit to celebrate the great dads in my life. I’ve been busy with online school, an internship, a job, and building and maintaining new friendships. Now that I’m settled in my big city, I can’t help to think of what I would do if I moved back to my hometown. Who would I hangout with? Where would I work? I’d get to see my friends and family a lot more, but would I always be wondering about what else is out there?

I’ve also had an intense wonder of what is actually ‘out there.’ I’ve been very tempted to just get on a megabus and go. (I’m now obsessed with megabuses since a coworker introduced them to me)

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I’m learning about who I am and that can be scary. Do you ever do things that are out of character? I do. And those are the thoughts that keep me up at night sometimes. I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness and why people do it. How can some people do it so easily? Those people are good people.

I’ve been writing letters and baking more lately, those are two things I love, that make me feel like myself. How come the yummiest treats have the worst ingredients? Like a whole stick of butter. Comfort food.

The letters are so personal and they make me actually use my brain. Not the brain I use when studying statistics, but the brain I use when I’m having a conversation with a close friend; the kind where you can’t even catch your breath.

What I’m really trying to say is: I’ve been drinking coffee past 5pm and I need to reconsider next time. Life is weird and it happens all the time without slowing down.

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A Life Revive: Noticing the Monotony and Embracing Small Changes

It’s so easy to get used to the swing of things. The routines, tasks, and work we have every day can become mundane without even realizing it. It’s sometimes hard to step back and take a look at our lives from an outside perspective, too.

There are things we can’t necessarily change all of a sudden like roommates or sucky job positions, but there are things you can do to make these not-so-ideal situations (such as life lol) more bearable.

 

Good night’s rest

Relaxing and snuggling into bed are probably high on anyone’s ‘favorite things’ list. It’s not easy to go to bed at a decent hours but oh it does make such a difference. Putting a couple things off until tomorrow here and there will make you just that much stronger in the morning and maybe you won’t have that fog over your head when you wake up!

If winding down is hard for you, I’ve shared some tips on getting relaxed before bed a few months ago on the blog.

 

Set A Routine Skeleton

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One of the hardest things to accomplish is having an order to your day. Week by week, day to day, things change, and that’s completely normal. It can throw off good eating habits and your well-planned workout schedule.

Instead of beating yourself up when your tasks aren’t completed in order, praise yourself when you’re able to get most of them done.

I think this is a truly important things to remember.

 

 

Pluck negative people

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The people around you have more of an effect on you than you would ever imagine. I’ve had many, many instances where I was in the best mood, then someone comes along and ruins it with a rotten attitude.

Be encouraging. Ask how your roommate’s or coworker’s day was (even if you honestly could care less). We never know what’s going on in other people’s minds.

The most rewarding part is realizing how much better off you are without those people in your life who drag you down. It’s worth a shot and can really save you a heartache in the end.

 

Check Yourself Out

giphy (18)The daily, Monday through Friday, hair and makeup routine gets old, let’s admit it. Same foundation, same winged eyeliner – it’s always pretty but after seeing it everyday can be monotonous.

How about next time you get ready, just stop and look at yourself. (If you’re like me you’ll end up bursting out with laughter) You are gorgeous, COME ON! This might sound like the silliest thing you’ve ever read, but it can really lighten you mood and boost your confidence – which are two things that steadily increase productivity.

 

Make ‘Me’ Time

IMG_0491Being surrounded by people all the time can be extremely comforting and humbling. Never take this for granted – embrace it to its fullest. The time comes when we need to take some time for ourselves. It can be hard when work or family are always #1 on the priorities list.

I’m no expert on this subject because I’m not married, no children, and I only work part time. However, I know one thing’s true: alone time is important. I love having a ‘Kayla day’ where I go to the mall by myself to slowing finger through every item in the sale rack twice, share an ice cream with myself, and sing all the song I want to hear in the car.

My ‘me time’ is special for so many reasons – one being it makes me realize how vital my family and friends are. If I had no one, this time by myself would take on a whole different meaning.

 

Take a walk. Bust a loop around town. Go to your morning yoga class.

 

Remember who you are, what you have, and know that you mean so much to so many people. Life can be so very monotonous so we need to make it a priority to sit back and help ourselves.

Love,

Find Me on TicketChat!

Happy Saturday!

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Tomorrow I’m having fun with a new app called Ticketchat. It’s a new mobile messaging app which enables you to participate in a conversation marketplace. I love the idea and I’ve been super interested in app startups since I work for one myself.

I’ll talk about some products I purchased recently, relationship stuff, and being vegetarian!

So go into the App Store and search for “TicketChat” then find me! NeutralFig is myusername! (who would’ve guessed that)

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Yes, I don’t have any friends yet. It’s brand spankin’ new!

I’m going to update you guys on what time I’ll go live – it’ll be around 12 or 1 (in the afternoon duh).

So please tune in tomorrow with all your questions! I’d love to know what’ been on your mind, not trying to sound like a creep.

You can keep with with TicketChat here: Twitter: @TicketChat and Instagram: @TicketChat.app

 

Love,

 

Summer ’16 | Products I Can’t Live Without

It’s summer and I’m trying to enjoy it…growing up in the Mississippi heat didn’t make me accustomed to it like you would think, so I always dread the humidity and….sweating. However, this year I’m embracing it. I have a few new products that are basically a summer survival guide. Let me know your summer must-haves in the comment section below! Or what are some products you ended up not liking?

50+ SPF Face Sunscreen

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Honestly, I switch up brands every time but it’s important to keep those cheekies protected. I use a tanning oil on my body that has an SPF of 4, but when it comes to my face I don’t take a chance to get burnt. This is water resistant and doesn’t clog ya pores.

Floral Precious Oil

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Lush(ious) Tea Tree Cleanser

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One of my favorite brands, hands down, is Lush. Their fresh, handmade cosmetics are all natural and cruelty free. Last week, I picked up this Tea Tree Cleanser for my face and it can be used for much more! It eliminates grease  but can also be placed on bug bites or ingrown hairs. It was a great investment and has definitely come in handy when mosquito bites become unbearably itchy.

Cheeky Cherry Dry Shampoo

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I’m still new to the world of dry shampoo – this is only my 2nd bottle ever in my life, and it’s a game changer. When I leave the pool I just spritz down my hair and it’s all fresh! It also makes me feel okay about not washing my hair every.single.day. This product is also cruelty free AND smells like cherries. It’s a great investment fa sho.

No one hired me to write this blog post, so I’m not obliged to write a conclusion. I’ve never felt more free. Thanks for reading!

New Beginnings: Nashville Edition

So it’s official: I’ve transplanted to Nashville, and have gotten used to life outside Mississippi. Spring has been the perfect time to transition because the weather is ideal, classes are over (for now) and I had a chance to do some major Spring Cleaning.

I’ve been planning this move for about 6 months and it didn’t seem real until the morning I moved. I realized I had to leave because I started my new job in a couple days and had nowhere to sleep in my own apartment in Mississippi. It was surreal and made me want to drag my feet to get ready that morning. However, I took an 8am final and hit the road immediately after.

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My new home in Nashville is my favorite. I found it while in Mississippi and it ended up being a keeper! We’ve been here for about 3 weeks and are still looking for the perfect pieces to go in our living room, bedroom and kitchen. It’s a JOB for sure.

The bedroom is so cozy and now that our bedframe is here it actually feels like a bedroom. The first week we had a mattress on the floor. Not ideal. We keep finding the cutest “posters,” they’re actually wrapping paper. At about $3 apiece, they’re super affordable and better than anything we’d find at Urban Outfitters. We find these at craft and paper stores, some from Asheville and others form right here in Nashville.

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There’s a musician’s corner where we have…the drums. I’m glad they have headphones. 🙂 I wasn’t thrilled they were going in our bedroom at first, but it’s really not bad at all! Sometimes I even go over and do my thang with them. We also have some shelves up for candles, vinyl and cameras. Between the two of us, we own 5 cameras. Who needs that many?! IMG_2301

The kitchen is a very important place. Max and and I both love to cook so we had to make sure the kitchen is ready for anything we decide to whip up spur of the moment. We’ve been experimenting with the crock pot and it has been very successful!

I’ve been feeling like a kid in a candy story since we do a lot of our shopping at Trader Joe’s. There aren’t any in Mississippi so they are are really missing out! The fruit and veggies are priced well (as well as everything else in the store) and they’re GMO-free. I love it there.

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Our coffee is probably the most important thing in our daily routine. I refinished this shelf and found those adorable mid century modern legs to hold it up. (Thanks to my stepdad, Les for helping me put those on!) There are so many options for methods of making coffee but I usually stick to regular drip. It gets the job done for me. Max on the other hand takes the time to perfect the Chemex. Bless him.

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Percy has been such a good little traveler! She actually loved being in the car and sat on my shoulders for the majority of the 5 hour ride. Such a relief.

She’s even gotten used to the train that’s directly in our backyard. You can actually see it from our kitchen and bedroom windows! Percy spent the first night in her new home hiding behind the couch, poor thing. Now she’s well adjusted and even has a favorite spot in the windowsill in the bedroom. She hasn’t been idle enough for me to snap a pic yet. She’s always running around the house, being sassy, and playing fetch with her stuffed banana. She rolls around on the floor where the sun hits and lies on top of the couch when we watch television. Shes loves it here, so I guess we can stay.

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I love Nashville, my job, my house, my friends. I’ve said multiple times: it’s like I haven’t even moved anywhere new because I’ve been visiting for more than 2 years so I’m familiar with the city. I’m just having to learn how to get around by myself now.

It’s all worth it and I still can’t believe after 22 years, I’ve moved away from Mississippi. I’m not sad but I miss my family every day. If you ever want to move, I’d suggest it to anyone. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Have a date planned and go for it.

Love,