In Foodie Files, Places To Eat, Travel on
October 15, 2014

Universal Studios, Day 2 – Florida

After spending a day at Disney and the day before that at Universal – it’s fair to say that Jazmine and I were beat. But we had two day passes to Universal and there was no way were going to let our last day of vacation go to waste.
 
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We woke up late (again) and rushed to make the shuttle bus. When we got to Universal, we knew right away that there was no way we could do another full day of walking around.

 

It was a Monday and I thought that since it was a week day the park would be less crowded. Well – I was wrong. It was even busier than when we visited on Saturday.
 
We went back to try and get on the new Harry Potter ride, but the wait time was about 3 hours. #NotAboutThatLife. There was no way I could stand on my feet for three hours for a ride. So we took it easy. We rode everything with a short line and revisited a lot of our favorites from our Saturday visit.
 
At one point we were walking around trying to figure out what to go to next and we passed a sign for the Horror Make Up Show. Our feet were tired and we said why not.
 
Let me tell you. This was one of the best.decisions.ever. Not only did I give my poor little feet a rest, but the show was hilarious! I didn’t bring my camera, so excuse the picture quality.
 
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I didn’t take too many pictures because I was getting glances from the other attendants, but it was so much fun. The hosts were hilarious. They showed us how a lot of the make up for many of the old horror films were made, how to make fake blood, and they gave me a ton of great Halloween ideas for the future. There was audience participation and it looked like so much fun I even considered seeing the show again so that she could pick me to come up on stage.
 
If you have the time – you should definitely stop to see this show. It was about an hour long, so it didn’t take too much out of the day. But it was an hour well spent.
 
We wandered through the park some more.
 
I found my future husband on the way!
 
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“Your love is one in a minion – it goes on, and on, and on.”
 
We shared a quick kiss before Jaz and I set off again – this time in search for lunch. We were ready to grub.
 
I didn’t write anything about lunch on our first day at Universal – that’s because the food we had was terrible. It was a quick service burger place and it was so busy. I’ll just attribute the bad food to that. Our expectations were really low for food at this point and we even considered leaving the park to go to Emril’s, which was located at City Walk right before the park entrance.
 
But we walked past a restaurant called Mythos on the Island of Adventure side and the wait time wasn’t long so we decided on that instead.
 
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Being in the restaurant felt like being inside of a coral reef.

 

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I ordered a Pina Colada to start.

 

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And we munched on some rosemary bread rolls. So. Delicious.

 

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I was trying to decided between ordering fish tacos and the Mythos burger as my entree. I’d already had a bad experience ordering burgers at Universal and I was skeptical – but my waiter Eric said that the Mythos burger was one of the most requested dishes, and it was his favorite. 
 
So the foodie in my said why not, and that just what I got.

 

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My burger came out and I was pleased, but underwhelmed by the fries. 
 
Eric fixed that right away and brought me fresh plate of piping hot parmesan fries.
 

 

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Are you drooling yet?
 
No?

 

How about now?

 

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Here’s the foodie break down: it was topped with a braised pulled pork, jalapeño jack cheese, a creamy cole slaw, tabasco onions, and smoked chili barbecue glaze. 
 
When I first read it, I was like “Ew, that sounds like too much.” I couldn’t figure out if the burger was going to be spicy or sweet. It was literally both. Sweet with a kick afterwards that makes you think twice. But not too spicy that you need to sip on some water in between bites.

 

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The burger was sooo delicious. Universal redeemed itself. Jazmine got the same thing and we were both oohing and ahh-ing throughout the entire meal. 
 
The perfect burger.
 
I’m drooling now.
 
The meal was so much better than the quick service crap we had on the first day and it was literally the same exact price, with the exception of a few extra dollars for tip!!! A great meal without having to cry as you pull out your wallet. 
 
The whole vibe of the restaurant was really cool. Our waiter was so nice. He was so willing to talk me through the menu items I wanted to choose from, and he didn’t rush me at all. He told us that he’d been working there for 8 years – so at this point he pretty much knew the menu by heart. Ask to sit in his section if he’s there when you stop by for a visit! 
 
After lunch it was back to our explorations. Mostly just more of the same rides we had already ridden.
 
Before the end of the day approached – we wanted to try the new Harry Potter Gringott’s ride one last time.
 
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To the Hogwarts Express!

 

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Our view of Hogwarts as we were leaving.
 
The main line was a 2 hour wait and we had exactly 2 hours before our shuttle bus came to pick us up. We were cutting it a little too close. So we hopped in the single riders line and waited for an hour and a half.
 
When we got on, I was filled with so much anticipation… Only to be severely disappointed. The ride had no action. No crazy drops, nothing. It was mostly graphics on the screen.
 
Some people loved it… but those some people were definitely not me (or Jazmine either… she hated it too.) I just feel like if I want to watch Harry Potter on a screen I would’ve watched the movie from my hotel room. I wanted action, drops, crazy things to pop out at me. 
 
Sadly our last hour and a half was wasted. Save your time when you visit – The Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride is much, much better. Just go on it twice and pretend like you went to the Gringott’s one.
 
Finally, our time at Universal Studios had come to an end. And so did our vacation. It was almost time to get back to the real world. We raced across the park to make our shuttle bus on time.
 
 
One last quick stop! For all the haters and doubters out there….
 
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YES – I was tall enough to get on the rides.
 
In Travel on
October 5, 2014

Disney World, 4 Parks in 1 Day – Florida

So when I left you last, Jazmine and I were dragging ourselves back to the hotel after a busy day at Universal Studios and Island of Adventure and getting ready for a fun filled day at Disney World.
 
 

But, when I got to the hotel, I had a moment of revelation. I could not another full day of walking and being on my feet.
 
You see, I foolishly left packing to the last minute and did not pack any sneakers with me. All I had were cute little sandals that would match my outfits that I had picked out. By the end of the first day I wanted to throw them all out the window. I literally had to drag myself back to my room because I couldn’t lift my legs. 
 
My phone has a pedometer app and on the first day we walked a total of 12.5 miles. I needed something comfy. I needed sneakers that would make my feet feel like I was walking on clouds. 
 
So that night, I took an (expensive) cab ride to the nearest shopping center and bought myself a pair of Nikes. It ended up costing me so much, but I learned my lesson – always plan ahead and pack for anything.
 
 
 

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Welcome to the family. 😍😍

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The next morning as our alarm went off, we fought the urge to lay under the covers all morning long and got up to go to the Happiest Place in The World.
 
We ate a quick breakfast at the iHop across the street from the hotel before being picked up by a cab to head to Animal Kingdom.
 
Like I mentioned in my last post, the hotel only had shuttles at certain times. Since the tickets to Disney were much more expensive than the ones to Universal/Island of Adventure, we chose a one day pass rather than a multiple day one. We wanted to get there early and beat some of the crowd and the hotel shuttle didn’t arrive until after 10am.
 
Filled with excitement, we entered the park. It’s so funny – as Jazmine was picking up her ticket at Will Call, the woman at the teller was explaining to us how we can use our “Park Hopper” pass – which gives us the option to go to each park. She said “I hope you’re not going to try and do all four parks in one day.” Jazmine and I looked at each other and laughed.
 
That’s exactly what we were going to do.
 
Jazmine had an internship with Disney during one semester at school, so she spent a good four months learning the ins and outs of the parks. I let her plan out all of the rides and set up our Fast Passes (which you can now do prior to getting to the park.) We started off at Animal Kingdom because that park closes the earliest because of all the animals inside.
 
Our first stop was the African Safari. I thought this was quite fitting – my family was planning on taking a safari trip to Africa this summer, but because both my sister and I were going to be in college for the first time together and it was quite expensive, we decided on a less expensive trip instead. This attraction was almost as if I had gone.
 
There’s a lot of pictures, so go grab a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It means no worries, for the rest of our days 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite animal ever <3

 

 

 

 

 

You can barely see it – but on top of that hill is a female lion.
And right in front of her was her hubby the male lion.

 

 

 
Our driver did an awesome job of explaining all of the animals and making us feel as if we were on a real safari. We got so close to the animals – the Rhino literally rode right in front of our humvee.
 
After the safari ride, we walked around Animal Kingdom for a bit and enjoyed the sights.

 

 

 

I even played a little music. 
 

 

 

 
And saw a dinosaur.
 
 
I’m a huge fan of Disney movies. My Netflix cue is actually filled with old Disney movies that I have on VHS at home but can’t watch because I no longer own a VHS player. I saw a sign that said Lion King Show and we jumped at the chance to watch (and sit, relax, and get out of the heat.)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The show was amazing! They played all of my favorite Lion King songs. The singers first of all were so good. I haven’t heard voices like that in a long time. The acrobatics was so much fun to watch . I wish we weren’t late to the show because I would’ve loved to see the first 10 minutes (and sat closer to the front) but we made due and had a blast always.
 
After the Lion King show, it was time for us to bid farewell to the first park of the day. We left Animal Kingdom and headed to Hollywood Studios.
 

 

 

 

From inside the Tower of Terror

 

 
The Tower of Terror was my favorite ride in this park. Definitely one of the scariest rides I’ve been on. The entire park looked like a Hollywood set. It was so much fun to run around, especially with the current Frozen craze. I know I wished out loud several times that Elsa would come and freeze over Florida because the heat was a killer.
 
After Hollywood Studios we headed over to Epcot for some more rides and some lunch.
 
 
We tried sodas from around the world. 
 
 

 

 
After walking “around the world” and getting caught in a quick Florida rainstorm, we finally settled on having lunch in Mexico.
 
 
 My favorite ride in Epcot would have to be Innoventions. It’s the giant golf ball looking ride at the entrance of the park. It’s not really much of a ride. You sit as it goes to the top of the ball to the bottom. But what makes it really cool is that you can select a topic and voice will guide you to how the future will look.
 
I chose Health. The ride snapped a picture of me and Jazmine and showed our journey through the future.
 

 

 

 

 
Finally, we left Epcot and headed to our last and final destination: Magic Kingdom.
 

 

 

 

 
 
I’ll be honest with you, at this point we were pretty tired. We had used up all of our fast passes and there weren’t many left for the rides that we wanted to go on.
 
One ride that we for sure wanted to visit was Space Mountain, Jazmine’s old stomping grounds.
 
I was so glad that we left this park for last because from what I hear, it’s crazy busy in the mornings.
 
We had so much fun hanging around Magic Kingdom and going on the few rides that didn’t have ridiculously long wait times. 
 
We ended the night with a light show and fire crackers in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
 

 

 
See for yourself! (Press play)
 
 
 

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Thanks for the memories, Disney! All 4 parks in 14 hours. Completely exhausted but it was an amazing day! #DisneyWorld ❤️
 
(In case you were wondering – we walked around 16.5 miles.)
 
If you want to do all of Disney World in one day, here’s my advice: don’t. 
It’s kind of exhausting to run around and try and get to the parks in one day. Don’t do it, especially if it’s your first tim because you won’t get a chance to truly enjoy and see everything. I would limit myself to at most two parks per day. 
If you don’t listen to my advice and want to do it anyways, just know that you won’t be able to get on every ride. Luckily, when I went I had Jazmine who knew what the wait times would be like a certain times of the day and was able to plan our fast passes out for us. It wasn’t either of our first time there, so we had kind of seen mostly everything before and just wanted to have some fun. 
 
Overall it was a fun day! Exhausting, but fun. It was so great to get a chance to feel like a kid again.
Except for at the end of the night when we literally had to sprint in order to make it to our shuttle bus to get back to the hotel. At least we could look forward to a more relaxing day tomorrow for Universal Part 2.
 
In Travel on
September 30, 2014

Universal Studios, Day 1 – Florida

The other day I was just talking about how I couldn’t believe it was Autumn already. It feels like the year is flying by! I’m not ready to let go of Summer 2014 just yet especially after the glorious weather we had this past weekend- so I thought I would share some of my summer escapades with you. Let’s call this my “RIP Summer ’14 Series.”
 
One of the trips that I took this summer was to Florida with one of my best friends from school. Jazmine and I hopped on a flight and headed for Orlando for a long weekend for some good ol’ amusement park fun. 
 
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We arrived in Orlando on Friday evening.

 
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It was so hot and humid – the second we got to the airport, we wanted to rush to the hotel for some AC and rest.
 
The hotel was nice, but nothing spectacular. We found a deal on Groupon so for our entire stay, it was like $30 for each of us. Yes – I know… Cheap as chips. We were fairly close to the parks and the hotel had a free shuttle for us to use. The only issue that we really had was if we wanted to leave the park early/stay late – we would have to take a cab since the shuttle only ran twice a day – in the morning and night at certain specific times.
 
I wish I could tell you that the next morning we had a delicious breakfast buffet with all the fixings… but we both overslept and ended up having to grab McDonald’s before hitting the road.
 
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After breakfast – we were finally headed for the parks. 
First up, Universal Studios. We had a two day park hopper pass for Universal, so we went on Saturday and Monday.
 
Universal Day 1 (Saturday)
 
Universal may as well be called Harry Potter Park because that’s all everyone was talking about. There was a new Harry Potter ride that had opened about a month before we went, and the lines were ridiculous. It was a 6 hour wait – so we decided to skip it for this day and explore the other aspects of the park.
 
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So fitting for a shutterbug like myself. 
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I said “Bartender, pour me up a butter beer!” And that’s just what he did.

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 Pretty soon, it was time to move on to the rest of the park.

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So we hopped in line for the Hogwarts Express.

 

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We even saw a furry friend while waiting for our train. Hi, Hedwig!

 

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I’ve always wanted to go to Hogwarts. Growing up I loved watching the Harry Potter movies. When it would be time for me to head back to school in the fall I would imagine getting my acceptance letter and then getting on a train and being shipped off to a boarding school where I could learn to hone my magic skills.

 

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Sadly, that never happened…. Until this day! I’m not really sure you can call me much of a fan any more. I still have yet to see the last two movies in the series. Perhaps my homework for this weekend should be a Harry Potter movie marathon?

 

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Off to Hogwarts!
 
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Technically, photography was not allowed, but I snuck a few pictures… just for you. 
Each time you’re in the train car, a different scene plays out the window. 

 

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On this ride, we saw Hagrid on the way!

 

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The train was a fun way to connect the two parks, Universal Studios and Island of Adventure while maintaining the Harry Potter theme.
 
You could also walk across the parks – but where’s the fun in that?
 
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Arrived in Hogsmeade!

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Just in time from a performance from our fellow Hogwarts classmates.

 

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We also went on some other fun rides in Universal Studios too!

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 Selfies in the Transformers ride line.

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 Sergent Chekara, reporting for duty!

The Transformers ride was probably one of my favorite. Don’t take off the 3D glasses and ruin all the fun! I got so into it! It must be the glasses, because I really felt as if I was saving the world from the Decepticons.

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 The Mummy ride was my other favorite!

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 No pictures from inside, but picture this: water, fire, thrills. It’s definitely a crazy experience.

If you’re not a thrill seeker, that’s okay! There are some other rides for you –
Like this one:

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 We ended the day with some cute quotes and a water ride.

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One last ride for the day: The Jurassic Park River Ride. Despite thinking ahead and bringing ponchos to keep ourselves dry, we both ended up soaking wet and looked like fools but it was definitely one for the books! 
 
At the end of the day, our feet were so sore from all of that walking. We dragged ourselves to the bus stop to head back to the hotel for some rest before our next adventure: Disney World.
 
 
In College on
September 25, 2014

Back To School Essentials

This week marks the first official week of Fall!
Fall is my favorite season, especially because I get to partake in my favorite past-time: Back To School Shopping!
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I took a few weeks off to sort out my life and now I’m settled in for my last year of college. But now I’m back! I gave the blog layout a little refresher while I was gone too! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

I know that mostly everyone has been back to school for a few weeks now, but if I’m honest with you… I back-to-school shop for the entire month of September. Seriously, I’m always the poorest in September because I’m buying tons of stuff to fill my desk and my dorm room. So let’s just pretend like you all are just like me for a moment and you’re all still shopping too. 😀

 
Shall we?
 
Here we go!
 
Here are some of the Back To School items that I just can’t live without this year.
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1. Agenda
My school used to give out agendas for free, but after my sophomore year, they decided to be more efficient and sustainable and sacked the whole idea. (Apparently people weren’t using them.) So for the last two years I’ve shelled out the extra cash to get this Lily Pulitzer agenda. Did I really need to spend $30 on an agenda book? No. There are plenty more affordable options. Like this one here, here and here. I just love that it’s so colorful. It makes me actually write down the work that I have to get done (Me actually doing it is another story…. #senioritis.)
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2. Travel Tumbler
I love love love coffee. Especially iced coffee. I don’t drink it much in the summer time, but come the first day of class, it’s as second nature to me as the blood running through my veins. It’s a habit that I’ve been trying to kick; I’ve been trying to get into drinking Iced Chai’s more often. One thing that I absolutely hate about drinking coffee: when your plastic container sweats all over your hands. It instantly ruins my mood. I grabbed this coffee tumbler from TJ Maxx for $3!!!!!! 
 
*insert angels singing here* 
 
Yes, you read that right. Three. Dollars. What is life?
This has been a lifesaver! It’s reusable. (So sustainable and environmentally friendly. Think of all the plastic you’re saving from going into the ocean.) Dishwasher safe. (Not that I have one at school, but very important for some people.) Plus, my favorite on campus coffee shop gives you a discount when you bring your own cup. I carry this baby around with me to class filled high with my coffee (or Chai) and sip away. The best part – it doesn’t sweat all over your hands because it has a double layer. Win for you. Win for the environment. Win for all.
*not pictured: my tumbler for hot drinks, but it promise, it’s equally as cute.
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3. Water bottle
Ok. Let me be honest with you here. I wish that I used this water bottle a lot more often than I actually do, but that’s just not the case. First of all, I don’t have a water filter in my room, so I grab a plastic bottle from my fridge and pour it in. I know, I know… it defeats the purpose, but hey, you win some you lose some. This water bottle was a gift from the Rec Center at my school for winning a competition during training. I have a larger Nalgene brand one that I bring with me when I teach Zumba classes (because it fits twice as much water in it, but it’s too bulky for me to want to lug around to class.)
 
4. Laptop cover
I used to have a plastic-y silicone laptop cover case (you know what I’m talking about, literally everyone has them to cover their Macs.) I had one in purple and when that one cracked I got another one in turquoise. But I found that they collect way too much dust and grime – especially when the majority of my time using my laptop is spent in bed with Netflix and Cheez-Its. (I’m telling you, when I took off the case there were lint balls from my fuzzy blanket and orange crumbs everywhere.) I wasn’t going to change my Netflix-ing ways so I just changed the laptop cover. This laptop skin is so cute, I always get compliments on it. Plus my laptop feels 10 lbs lighter – much better for when I have to bring it to class.
 
I bought mine online, but you can google search Marble Laptop Decal and find one for you too!
That empty space on top of my pink CD case is where I usually leave my Canon camera (which I was using to take these pictures!) Any one have any suggestions on a way to hide those charging cords? Comment below!

 

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5. Laptop Case
I did a Google search for “cute envelope macbook pro case.” This one showed up. I fell in love. Bonus point: it comes with the CUTEST charging cord carrier. It was a match made in heaven.
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6. Cute Desk Accessories
My desk is where I get a lot of stuff done. My homework, my “job” work, my to do lists, my blogging, my writing…. Sometimes it’s just more fun to be surrounded by things that inspire you. I put a lot of thought into each desk accessory. My stiletto heel tape dispenser was a gift from my coworkers Kyle and Katelyn (Thank you, girls!!); black floral frame is from TJ Maxx. I’m not sure what to put in the frame yet… maybe an inspirational quote or a picture of my family. Something to make me smile while I burn the midnight oil. 

 

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A lot of the stuff on my desk has been accumulated from the last three years of school. If I could start over, I would totally try and get everything in acrylic or black for a really minimalistic look. But I love what I have so far. It’s a great reflection of how my style has evolved.
I hope you were able to find something to inspire your next shopping trip! What are some of your back to school essentials?

 
In Life on
August 30, 2014

Dear Maya, My Sister’s Keeper

Dear Maya,
 
As this post goes up, you are moving into your dorm room for your first year of college.
 

Let me start this letter to you by saying, I know we were not the closest siblings growing up. In middle school and high school we fought constantly like cats and dogs. We argued over the smallest things and refused to speak to each other when we got into it. However, all of that changed a few years ago when I went off to college.

 

 

 
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – I’d like to think that’s what happened to us. We were around each other enough to argue all the time over the meaningless things. Instead we valued the little time that we had together when I was home for the weekend and on breaks.
 
I have watched you grow from a quiet, shy, young girl to a fiercely confident young woman who constantly speaks her mind.
 

 

 

 

 
I have seen you grow creatively. Your passion for fashion grew from forcing me to watch Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model with you to watching you sketch your own designs and witnessing them come to life. And now I am so proud to tell the world and anyone who will listen that you are achieving your dreams of attending school for fashion design. 
 

 

 

 

 
Despite all of the pointless arguments and disagreements that we may have had in the past (and that we will most likely have in the future too), I hope you know now that I love you tremendously. I couldn’t have asked God for a better sister to go through this World with. 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
I hope that as you enter this next big chapter in you life, you remember that I am and always will be your Number 1 fan. I will always go to bat for you no matter the time or the situation. And I will always be the first on the sidelines to cheer you on.
 
I don’t need to tell you that I know you will accomplish great things because you’ve already made it clear to the world that you will.
 

 

 

 

 
Remember that no matter how old you get (and no matter how high your heels may be) you will forever and always be my Baby Sis.

 

I love you to the moon and back.
 
XOXO ♥♥♥