Thursday, August 3, 2017

Galveston Island Travel Guide

My family and I spent last week in Galveston, Texas. It was my first time on Galveston Island, and I really enjoyed the trip. We were only there for about three full days, but managed to fit a lot in that time. Today I'm sharing some of the highlights of our trip, including where to stay, eat, and what to do while you're there.

Galveston Island Travel Guide

|| Where To Stay ||

There are plenty of hotels along the seawall, but because of frequent hurricanes there aren't any hotels or houses on the beach. We stayed in an AirBnB and I would highly recommend going that route. Our house was only a couple blocks from the beach and it was an easy walk each day. We also had a kitchen and plenty of space for the six of us, which would not have been the case in a hotel. It was all decorated in blue, beachy decor which I appreciated, I wish I had gotten pictures.

|| Where to Eat ||

The Spot : Located along the seawall, The Spot is a fun place to grab dinner or drinks. Made up of five locations in one, there are plenty of choices for everyone. The food was really good, I would recommend trying one of their burgers and my mom loved the shrimp tacos. It's definitely a touristy place, but I enjoyed it. Their variety of bars and cocktails also made it a fun place to order my first drink as a 21 year old.


Gaido's : Another restaurant along the seawall, Gaido's is a Galveston institution. Their specialty was more upscale seafood. Our waiter was extremely knowledgable and offered lots of suggestions about the various menu items. I had soft shell crab, which wasn't my favorite because I didn't realize it came fried, but it was good. They also do non-seafood well too, my sister enjoyed their pork chop.

Black Pearl : More of a bar, the Black Pearl is a small seafood place in The Strand area of town. Embracing Galveston's Mardi Gras celebrations, Black Pearl offered cajun items in addition to seafood. I had the crab cakes and they were very good, but as a main menu item, I was disappointed that they didn't come with anything in addition to the cakes and still felt hungry after I finished my dinner. The food was good and we liked it, but it's not a must eat in my opinion.

We go together like cupcakes and frosting

Mosquito Cafe : This was by far my favorite place I ate in Galveston. My mom and I went for lunch one day and loved it. The Mosquito Cafe is located in between some of Galveston's beautiful historic homes and they specialize in lunch food, but are open for breakfast and dinner also. It was a busy lunch spot, but the staff were extremely kind and dealt with the chaos very well. My mom and I both tried one of their lunch special that day, I had the southwestern wrap and my mom had fish with fresh mango salsa, and both came with sides. After lunch, we stopped by Mosquito Cafe's sister bakery, Patty Cakes, across the street. Their lemon bombs are delicious, but very sweet.


|| What To Do ||

Go to the beach : This is obvious of course, but we enjoyed our time on the Galveston beach. We were on the east end of the island and it was relatively empty during our late morning trips.


Pleasure Pier : Galveston's Historic Pleasure Pier is a lot like any pier in any beach town, but we had fun going to it. My younger brother and I got ride all day ride pass, where as the rest of our family just did the regular walk on pass. My brother and I had a great time trying out the different rides along the pier, but be warned they're only a few steps up from your average carnival rides. My favorite was the Texas Sky Flier that went 200 feet up above the pier. I would recommend going to the pier at night when it's cooler and you can't see the ocean below you while you're going on the rides.


The Strand : The Strand is Galveston's main shopping area and it's filled with lots of touristy type shops. We spent an afternoon walking around and going into the shops. It's not a must do, in my opinion. But I would recommend stopping into La King's Confectionary for some ice cream, so good!


Tree Sculpture Tour : This is a very uniquely Galveston thing. Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, artists came to Galveston and carved beautiful sculptures out of some of the destroyed trees in the city. There's even a map you can get that tells you where to see them. Some are more visible than others, but they're really fun to see. If you're there when it's a little cooler out, you could get out and walk around the neighborhoods, but since it was pretty hot we decided to stay in the car and drive up and down the streets to see the sculptures.

House Shop : Instead of window shopping, house shop! There is no shortage of gorgeous old homes in Galveston. My mom and I loved looking at all the colorful houses and picking out our favorite ones. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, a lot of these houses are in the same area as the tree sculptures so you can check both out at the same time!


Tour Moody Mansion : The Moody Mansion was once owned by the Moody family, one of the 10 wealthiest families in America. The daughter of Mr. Moody set up a foundation to keep the house running as a museum and it is beautiful! As part of the admission to the house, you are given a small audio device and each room has a recording to listen to that explains the purpose of the room, decor, and even stories from living Moody family members. It reminded me a bit of The Biltmore in Asheville, NC (but smaller) since they were built around the same time. Through the tour we learned a lot about the history of Galveston Island and the Moody family. There is another historic home called the Bishop's Palace in Galveston, but I would recommend the Moody Mansion over it if you only have time for one.


My first trip to Galveston was really nice, we managed to fit a lot in a few days, and I would like to go back again some time. Have you been to Galveston? What did you enjoy doing there?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Highlights! (And Birthday Post)

I sound like such a broken record, but when the heck did it get to be August?!!!! I leave for Tigertown a week from tomorrow. As always, I'm recapping my month, but with a little twist because I'm also including what I intended to post on my birthday last week (oops).

July Highlights + 21 Facts About Me

|| TURNING 21 ||

 So this was definitely the biggest thing to happen this month, even if it did just happen at the end. I'm finally 21! I've always been the baby of all of my friends, so I feel like I'm finally caught up with the big kids. I celebrated my birthday at the beach with my family on the day, then my first barhopping experience with my best friends this past weekend. It was so much fun, especially going out with my friends since we will all be in different places this year.

|| READING ||

At the end of June, I finally got myself together and went to the new public library in my town to renew my library card and check out some books. Since then, I've been reading a ton! This month alone, I read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield, The Last Anniversary and The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter by Lisa Patton, and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Our library has an app where you can check out e-books, so that's how I read Red Queen while I was on vacation - look into whether your library offers something similar. I liked everything I read, but Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter was a definite favorite - check out the recommendation from Nell on Prep in Your Step. I also love a good Young Adult series, so Red Queen was another favorite - it has a lot of twists and turns and wasn't what I expected, I'm itching to start the next in the series.

|| STATS ||

Y'all! The craziest thing happened about two weeks ago, I had a blog post take off on Pinterest. Like over 1,000 views on that post alone. To some people that may seem like nothing, but it's HUGE to me. And I hit a huge goal of mine with the help of that post and reached over 10,000 total views! I'm super close to 11,000 so feel free to share with your friends and family! Also, don't forget to follow me on social media (did you notice my fancy new social buttons in the sidebar? Check em out ;)

Now for the second part of this post, I intended to put it up on my birthday, but I was enjoying vacation. So better late than never, here are 21 facts about me.

1. I am the third of four siblings. My mom calls me her "well adjusted middle child," but I'm not entirely sure what that means.

2. I don't have a good reason for why I chose the college I did. Clemson just felt right in the end, so I acted on my gut feeling and haven't looked back.

 3. Texas country music is the best music in the world and what I will choose to listen to above all else. (if you like country and are looking for something new, check out Aaron Watson, Casey Donahew, or Josh Abbott Band, they're my faves).

4. When I was in the fourth grade, I modeled in a magazine called Discovery Girls. Each month they chose a state and chose girls from that state to feature. We all met in Houston and got to spend a weekend shooting for the magazine, luckily those photos do no still exist online.

5. If I could live anywhere (besides TX, of course), I would live in Savannah, Georgia. It's the prettiest city I've ever been to. 

6. I would love to adopt a child one day.

7. I'm extremely type A, but also a major procrastinator. I have a perfectly color coded agenda, but wait until the last second to cross of those to-dos.

8. If I had to read one book for the rest of my life, it would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the third). It's my favorite of the series, but I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd in general.

9. I would have been born on my grandma's birthday if it wasn't for Gloria Estafan. The doctor had tickets to her show on July 23rd and didn't want to miss it if I took too long.

10. I had my first job at 14 bussing tables at restaurant on the lake nearby.

11. I started this blog with the intention of it being a fashion blog, because I was so frustrated by other bloggers' opinion about what is "reasonably priced." I hope to eventually reach that goal.

12. While I went into college wanting to becoming a psychiatrist, I now plan to go into marketing research, but I never changed my major from psychology.

13. For the majority of my life, I was a cheerleader - either through competitive teams or school. I was even captain of my high school team my junior and senior years.

14. You've probably read about him on here before, but I have a wonderfully sweet boyfriend that I will have been dating for 3 years this November.

15. The most perfect meal, in my opinion, is a grilled cheese and tomato basil soup.

16. While I have grown to appreciate neutral colored clothing as I've gotten older, 9 times out of 10 I will choose to wear something bright colored over a neutral.

17. I have an obsession with all things pineapple - I love the fruit, but mostly my obsession is with pineapple decor or embellishments. I'm not sure where it came from but I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. I got a lamp with sequined pineapples on the shade (for my apartment) for my birthday.

18. I have an irrational nervousness (I wouldn't call it a fear) of people overhearing me talk on the phone. I won't have a long conversation with someone on the phone if there is someone else who may overhear, it feels like an invasion of privacy.

19. I'm extraordinarily fair skinned. It seems almost impossible for me to tan. I used to hate it, but it's grown on me as I've gotten older. If only I could find foundation the right shade.

20. I rarely go a day without wearing makeup, but only because I really enjoy applying makeup and it's a relaxing part of my morning routine.

21. I'm extremely introverted and shy to start off with, but once I get to know someone I can chatter on forever.

So there you have it. Some of the highlights of my July and 21 facts about me! What were some of the favorite parts of your month?

Monday, July 17, 2017

5 Tips for Having a Job in College

Going into college, my parents told me (and my siblings when they started) that we did not have to have a job while we were in school, our job was to be students and to work hard in our classes. I am very fortunate to not have to work through school, but I started an on campus job this past year and I highly recommend to anyone. Here's what you need to know about having a job in college.

Job Tips for College Students


I'll start off by explaining a little bit about my job and why I started working. About a year ago, I got an email saying I was eligible to apply to be a tutor with athletic academic services. I had considered having a job in college, but didn't want something that would be too stressful on my schedule. The email advertised that it was flexible hours and we could work around our schedules while being paid above minimum wage, so it sounded like a great deal to me. I applied, had a skype interview, and was hired on before I got back to school in the fall. I spent both semesters junior year working as a tutor to student athletes and I loved it. There are definitely trying times, but I really enjoyed working with these athletes and getting to know them, while helping them understand their particular subject. There are a lot of specifics related to my job that I won't get into, but I have had a great experience as a tutor and highly recommend it to anyone. Of course there a ton of different jobs you can have in college so here are my tips and advice so that having a job can be the most beneficial experience for you.

| Find a job you're interested in |

Now there are a ton of on and off campus jobs around any university, but they are not all created equally. If you can, find a job that works with your career plans. My best friend is an elementary education major and spent the past two years as a preschool teacher aide. My boyfriend works an engineering internship part time during the school year. There are tons of opportunities out there that will add to your career experience and make you excited to go to work. While I don't have plans to do any sort of teaching in the future, I liked the idea of working with fellow students and helping them. If you're not interested or excited about your job, you're going to dread going and it'll just be more of a strain on your schedule.

| Make sure they'll work with your schedule |

This is essential. As a college student, you are a student first and foremost. That's something that my boss reminds us of continually, our classes and well being come first. If you're having to duck out of class early or stay up all night to study because of your work schedule, consider finding something else or talking to your boss. You and your school work are more important than a job. If it's adding too much stress to work so many hours, talk to your boss about scaling back.

| Look into on campus opportunities |

I don't know about every school, but Clemson has a million on campus part time jobs or internships. It's worth looking into. I have friends that work in the dean's office, do research internships, tutor in the academic support center, work at the campus Starbucks (don't necessarily recommend this one though), and numerous other campus jobs. Being able to duck into work before, after, or between classes is so much easier when the job is on campus. I would regularly have tutoring sessions during a class break or before classes in the morning. It helped me stay on top of my work and be more productive during the day.

| Talk to your boss |

This one applies more once you have a job, but it doesn't hurt to be very transparent during your interview. I remember my coordinator asked during my interview if I had any questions and I did. There are lots of rumors about working with athletes and how much we're supposed to help them get through classes so I was nervous about what would be expected of me and she explained how important academic integrity is and that I would never be asked to compromise my integrity, and if I ever felt as if I was being put in such a situation to come tell her immediately. Through that conversation, she made me feel so much more comfortable about doing the job. Another great thing my boss does (honestly I could sing her praises forever, she's the best) is end of semester check ins where she meets with all the tutors to do a performance review and see how we feel. During this meeting in the fall, I discussed how many hours I was working and that it was pretty stressful and she encouraged me to take on fewer hours in the spring. Your boss isn't going to know if you're stressed or having issues if you don't tell them. Chances are there are other students working there and they will totally understand.

| Don't forfeit your social life |

I was majorly guilty of this in the fall. I worked usually 15 hours per week, mostly at night, so I was at the tutor center 5 nights a week, usually until 9 or 10pm. Since I was mostly working at night, I could get all my school work done during the day, but I sacrificed a lot of time with my friends and boyfriend. Working those hours made it almost impossible to get dinner in general, let alone with friends, and by the time I got off at 10pm, I would be too tired to go or stay very long at sorority events on week nights. Like I've said, make sure you're putting yourself before your job. While college is meant for higher education, the social aspects are huge and you don't want to miss out on anything because of your work schedule. This spring I had a class until 6pm twice a week so I put down that I wouldn't work those nights, this majorly helped with my work-life-school balance.

So those are my tips for having a job in college! Do you have any expert advice to share? I would love to hear it in the comments.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Changing Perspective

Hey there, sweet friend!

Lately, I've had a lot of thoughts running through my head about this blogging world, followers, comparison, motivation (or the lack thereof), but I couldn't seem to get them all straight until I was thinking about these topics again while in the shower - the birthplace of all major breakthroughs right? And it all clicked, so here is what I realized.

comparison_is_the_thief_of_joy

So let's start off, coming off of this holiday weekend there is something we are all so guilty of, and no I don't mean indulging in one too many patriotic treats, I mean comparison. At any point in the past few days, did you scroll through some form of social media and think "wow! Look at that vacation they're on, I've never even heard of that place, I wish I could be somewhere like that," what about "oh...they're all at that party together, I wasn't invited to the party, they must not like me very much."  I can guarantee you that I had some very similar thoughts, and I absolutely love the way my family spends the Fourth of July every year. Comparison is at the root of these thoughts, and we all know that comparison is the thief of all joy. Want to know why?

These thoughts of comparison, of not being good enough, of not being wanted, are not thoughts from God. They are thoughts planted by a very real enemy that we face every single day. This is what clicked for me in the shower. It might not seem very groundbreaking, but man that realization just about rocked my world. The enemy uses comparison to make you feel less than, unloved, unwanted. But sweet girl, that is not true!!!! I can't even stress that enough. You are so incredibly loved by a man who loved you so much He was willing to die so that you may live. That's some pretty incredible love. And don't you think it would break His heart that some pictures on social media are enough to make you forget you are made perfect in His image? It breaks my heart, and I'm guilty of having those thoughts so often.

It's hard to not fall into this trap of comparison when it is constantly pushing on us, like I said, this is a battle we have to fight each and every day, especially in this digital age, and especially if you're like me and have decided to immerse yourself further in the digital world by creating a blog, social media accounts for said blog, and following other blogs. I'm just kind of asking to be crushed by the weight of comparison, aren't I? But even if you're not neck deep in digital media, you face this every day too. Whether you're comparing yourself to some celebrity, a blogger you admire, your sorority sister, or your best friend's cousin's girlfriend that you secretly creep on Instagram because she seems so perfect (don't even pretend like you haven't done this, we've all been there), comparison is comparison and it hurts no matter what. But it only hurts if we let it hurt us.

At youth camp one year, the camp pastor talked about seeing people through "Jesus Goggles" - meaning we need to love others and see the positives in them even if others can't, the same way Jesus did when he encountered those that usually wouldn't be treated very well. I think we need to put our Jesus Goggles on when we get on social media, because it's all about perspective. Instead of being jealous that your sorority sister spent the summer jet-setting around Europe with her study abroad program, think of how amazing of an experience she's having and make a mental note - or even a real note - to ask her about it when you see her at your recruitment workshop because she probably has some cool stories and she's going to think it's really special that you made a point to ask about her trip. Or instead of getting upset when you see how many more followers another blogger has than you and that you must not be doing something right with your social media, think "wow! It's so amazing that she has such a large platform to share God's love" - this is what I've started to think when I start to envy bloggers like Kate, Rachel, Katey, or Dani, they truly let His love shine through their platforms. Can you even imagine how wonderful and positive social media would be if we approached it with our Jesus Goggles on?  

We get so wrapped up in numbers of followers, hits, and page views, and comparing our numbers to someone else that we forget to appreciate those we do have. Someone I follow tweeted that she could get upset that she has 57 followers, a small number when compared to others who have thousands or millions, but instead she was so excited by the 57 people that care about what she has to say. Wow! Talk about amazing perspective, that's what got the wheels turning on this whole post. After reading those tweets I realized how unappreciative I am. I have over 400 twitter followers, and this week I hit a major milestone of 9000 views of this blog. Now I don't give these stats to brag, but to help you understand the perspective I had. Because I saw those numbers and to me they weren't good enough, weren't high enough. I bet you can guess why by now, comparison. (I can honestly keep beating this drum all day because it's just that true and prevalent) Instead of being frustrated that I don't have thousands of followers, I should be thankful that there are 400 people that care about what I have to say, that may even find me entertaining. 400 people that I have the ability to minister to EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. All because they follow me on social media. And 9000 page views? That's 9000 times I could've shared the love of Christ with someone. That's huge! HUGE! But the massiveness of those numbers and the platform I have created for myself where I can speak truth and light into the world is entirely lost on me, because of the seeds of comparison that have been planted by the enemy.

Well no more, my dear - at least that's the end goal, this is a major life perspective to change over night, it's going to take work. But if you have read through all of my late night ramblings about a not so radical thought that popped into my head, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you so much for reading my words and caring what I have to say. This comparison trap is a dangerous thing and I truly pray that you're not falling victim to it, but if you are feel free to email me (alittleashley18@gmail.com) and we can chat about it. After all, if we're not spending all of our time comparing ourselves, we can invest that time in building a strong community. 

Just remember, you are so incredibly loved, by our Savior and by this crazy girl in Texas with a laptop who is tired of girls telling ourselves that we are not good enough, because you are more than enough.