Friday, July 29, 2011

Latest Obsession

I've been rather obsessed with nail trends these days. A couple of days ago I saw a nail polish tutorial over at Pretty Shiny Sparkly*, and I knew I had to give it a try! I actually really like my half-moon nails.

* Kristina also hosts the 'Bloggers Do It Better' (BDIB) series, so if you're interested in seeing what
other bloggers are doing with trends, go check that out too.
{ Nail Polish : Revlon and Essie }

I used to go without nail polish pretty often, but I think since I've started painting my nails on a regular basis over the years that they grow longer now. My longer nails could be a coincidence, but maybe nail polish protects my nails from the elements. Not to mention they don't chip and peel like they used to. See. Nail polish is pretty and functional. You can't beat that!

{ You can read about another nail trend that I recently tried - HERE }

{ left to right  :  Lilacism  Tart Deco  Sand Tropez  Chinchilly }

Happy Friday everyone!
Do you have any fun weekend plans?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cures for Homesickness

Believe it or not, sometimes I have bad days. When I say bad, most likely that means emotional. Yeah, I'm a real person. Not just a pretend blog person with no emotions. For real. Okay, now I'm stalling. Let's get to the tough stuff.

Homesickness is one of those things that just happens sometimes. It blindsides me, or it creeps in over the course of days. You might think that everything is all hunky-dory around here (oh wait, that's just me, huh), but I really do miss my friends and family a lot. Just when I needed it most, one of my good friends sent me a message out of the blue. It was as if she knew how I was feeling today. That or maybe she was feeling a little homesick too. It happens to the best of us. Either way, today was a tiny major homesick day.

This is where I take a moment to tell my parents
how much I love and miss and appreciate them!
Never underestimate the power of love. }

Combine homesickness and searching for a job, in a city where I know just a handful of people, and that might just be a recipe for disaster if you ask me. In my everyone's best interest (happiness is contagious), I pulled myself together enough to get a few things done today that needed to be done.

{ cardigan : anthropologie  |  dress & sandals : forever21  | nail polish : 'My Chihuahua Bites' by OPI  }

It's amazing how a pretty outfit can make you feel slightly less homesick. Plus when you feel good about yourself, you just might lift that chin a little bit higher. If it takes a pretty outfit to make me feel better then so be it. Even ice cream doesn't work all of the time. Sometimes you have to pull out the big guns, like a ruffled flowery dress, bright cardigan, and colorful toes. Jewelry from loved ones doesn't hurt either!

Very special jewelry also helps lift spirits. On top of wearing a fun dress, I wore a gold necklace chain that holds two charms very dear to my heart. Both were given to me as high school graduation gifts. The cherub angel is from dear family friends, and my 8th grade volleyball coach gave me the initial 'A'. Both charms represent heartwarming memories, and wearing them instantly makes loved ones feel closer. My pearl stud earrings and blue ring were passed down to me from my mother. Sadly, I'm not sure if my mom even knows for sure who the previous owners were.

When I think about the love that was poured into these pieces of jewelry, the exact details matter very little anyways. Maybe someone was watching over me today. I'd like to think that my guardian angels made sure to remind I am loved. Special jewelry and loving memories are powerful like that.

After looking back on my day, I realize that homesickness is just a phase. It's nothing that a pretty outfit and meaningful jewelry can't cure. That may sound shallow, but it's actually more about the love that goes into daily decisions. When you carefully choose things that represent thought and love, suddenly homesickness feels a little silly. Love has the power to cure a lot of things; homesickness just so happens to be one of them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Sanctuary and Some Pinterest Inspiration

In the past few days, we made some minor changes to our office. Both of our diplomas now hang on the wall next to the desk, and we relocated the router to decrease the messy pile of cords at our feet. There's still some work to do, but this room is coming along nicely. It's definitely my new favorite room!
{ the bedroom is pretty cozy too, but I spend more time in the office }

Some day we'll have a house where we can paint walls and really make the space our own, but until then the office will do! I'll just continue pinning inspiring images to my Pinterest boards so that the creative juices keep flowing. Watching every episode of 'Secrets from a Stylist' doesn't hurt either. I love Emily Henderson's style, and she always tackles each space with such enthusiasm and excitement. When we finally do get to buy a house, I'll be armed with plenty of inspiration and creative ideas!

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Latest Pinterest Loves:

Oh Pinterest, you never cease to help me gather my thoughts and ideas.
Thank you!

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One more more thing. Have you read about this Pinterest challenge that Young House Love is hosting with a few other fellow bloggers?! It almost makes me want to go all DIY crazy on our tiny apartment.

I already used Pinterest as 'pinspiration' (as they're calling it over on YHL) for my DIY jewelry organizers. { which you can read about HERE. } Who knows what might happen with a little more browsing the internet. I just might find the inspiration I need to build us a life-size house out of marshmallows or something!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Better Late Than Never : Disney

Remember how we watched the Atlantis launch a couple of weeks ago? Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped by Downtown Disney on our way back home from the east side of Florida. These photos from our visit to Disney are better late than never, right?

After navigating heavy traffic due to the launch of Atlantis, my husband and I had worked up an appetite the size of Texas. Subway sandwiches just didn't do cut it. I could feel that we were getting closer to Disney, so I convinced my husband that we must stop at Downtown Disney for food (and maybe a little bit of tourist activity too). Score! Mentioning food always seems to do the trick. My husband likes food, and I like Disney. Actually, I really like food too. It was a win-win for me, but my husband was the tough sell.

Downtown Disney is great for a few reasons. It's very close to the interstate, which makes it a quick stop for enjoying a meal or browsing the many stores. Not to mention the parking is free! Anything 'free' at Disney is hard to come by, so take what you can get. Granted, you will most likely spend money in their stores and/or restaurants. However, with a conscious effort, you can manage to spend a small amount of cash while still having fun.

We walked the entire length of Downtown Disney, and I made sure to stop in almost every store along the way. I wanted to get our time's worth of stuffed animal fondling and merchandise ogling. Not to mention, the obligatory silly hat-wearing photos. We managed to escape the grasp of Disney without spending money on anything other than food and drinks. Not too shabby if you ask me.

After browsing some dinner options, we decided to eat at Paradiso 37 where we split appetizers for dinner. The water view from our seats was probably the best part about eating there. Our ceviche was gorgeous, but it looked much better than it tasted. I gave them an A+ for presentation, but we have enjoyed much better food elsewhere. We should have known better than to order seafood at Disney. You live, and you learn.

We probably should have drank/ate our dinner at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop instead. I'm sure that would have been a fail-safe option. You can rarely go wrong with chocolate for dinner. Right? There's always next time!

After having our fill of over-priced appetizers, we made our way through the shops of Downtown Disney. Curl had some really great surf-inspired clothing and accessories, but my favorite shop was the TrenD boutique store. The chandeliers hanging overhead made the whole place feel luxurious and chic. They sold some candies in really great boxes with silly names and phrases. I found some scarves that I liked, but someone already gave me one as a gift. It was really fun just browsing all of the items, and it was even more fun walking out without spending a penny! After making our way across Downtown Disney, we made mental notes of places we would visit again when we return.

On our way out of the park, we noticed the House of Blues was selling fairly affordable tickets to a concert. Unfortunately we had not planned on staying out all night, so we passed on the tickets. Attending a concert at the House of Blues would be a fun way to spend an adult evening at Disney World. They really do have something for everyone at Disney!

Walt Disney World always gives you plenty of things to look at while visiting. They have beautiful gardens, they pay incredible attention to detail, and they provide plenty of entertainment throughout the parks. Minus the cost of entrance, if you are able to avoid buying everything in sight (they don't make it easy to avoid) and eating the over-priced food, you can probably escape Disney without hurting the pocketbook too badly.

Have you ever visited Disney on a budget?
How did you fare?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Funny Google Search-Term Friday

That title sort of has a nice flow to it, huh? Okay. Maybe that was just me.

Happy Friday everyone! One of my favorite bloggers, Jenni over at Story of My Life, has done a few blog posts like this before. I found hers rather entertaining, so I thought I would share some of the search terms that led people to my blog too. Using StatCounter I can keep track of visits to my blog, and I also see what google search keywords led people to my blog. It's rather interesting, and sometimes perplexing, seeing what people search for using Google.

Sometimes I wonder...

These search terms, and phrases, are in no particular order.

This is a random selection including some of the most recent search terms that I found interesting.

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"Closet Braid Dress"
This one isn't too weird, because it's the name of a dress I purchased from Modcloth. You can see me wearing it in the above image and in this outfit post. It's a great dress!

"A braid for everyday of the week"
This one has me laughing, because I am probably the last person you should consult for braid ideas. I just learned to fishtail braid a couple of days ago, and I still struggle with the french braid. No lie. Thanks though!

"Is the Hoover dam claustrophobic"
My guess is that the dam isn't claustrophobic, but if you go on the tour it might make you feel claustrophobic. We toured the Hoover damn a few months ago, and if you don't like cave-like spaces or feeling like a sardine in an elevator full of people than I would not recommend it.

"Alligator sightings"
"Crikey!" We've already seen quite a few gators since moving to Florida. You can read about our sightings and in the process you can laugh at my recording skills, or lack thereof. Fun times. Like I said, I like making people laugh, even if it's at my own expense.

"Advantages of homelessness"
Maybe I used the word 'homelessness' a little too loosely in this blog post....

"Florida drivers are crazy"
Good to know I'm not the only one who thinks so. This one is self explanatory. Read my rules for driving in Florida and 'Buckle Up!'

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Happy Friday!
What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tale of Two (Or Three) Stories

Recently I've shared more outfit posts, and, minus the posing in front of a camera part, I sort of like it.

Last night I had my husband taking pictures of my outfit, and I cycled through a few very limited poses. Let me tell you, I am the furthest thing from a model. After getting frustrated with how the pictures were turning out, I exclaimed to my photographer (a.k.a. my husband), "I'm not a poser!" Then I had a good laugh or two about being a poser. Laughter really lightened the mood, and then I proceeded to take a beating from my turquoise necklace. See. Sometimes you just can't win.

If you know me, I am incredibly hairstyle challenged. My hair is long and fairly straight, and I rarely wear anything more than a ponytail. Other than a small braid in the front of my hair, I still don't know how to french braid. Embarrassing, I know. Sometimes I even flat iron my hair so that it's pin straight, and on very rare occasions I might even curl it. Last week I even put my hair in a bun and actually used pins, instead of a hair elastic, to secure it up high. That was quite the feat. Try not to get used to this.

After learning to fishtail braid my hair, I sort of feel like a winner and less like a poser. Learning to fishtail my hair was a whole different ballgame than just than standard ponytail! It only took me about twenty eight three tries before I settled with what I had perfected it. I think the humidity is going straight to my head. Actually it is. This frizz is out of control, so that's why I need to learn some new hairstyles. Don't be fooled. These hairstyle developments come out of necessity not desire.

{ top : GAP / shorts : AE / necklace : nordstrom rack / bracelet and ring : Tiffany & Co. / flats : Tahari }

Maybe I'll wear a fishtail braid every day for the rest of summer! Overkill? As much as I love this braid, I don't think I want to spend 20 minutes on my hair every day. If I practiced maybe I could learn to braid quicker, but who practices braiding their hair?! Oh yeah, this girl.

Just when I thought things couldn't get much weirder, you know since I learned to fishtail braid and everything, we came across this little lizard. His (or her) little throat bulges out, and it's red too. Sick! Does anyone know if this is normal. Or is it like seeing me with a fishtail braid? Totally out of the ordinary! Anyone? Anyone?

Who would have thought that I would learn a new braid and see this gross-looking lizard all in one day? This world never ceases to amaze me. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday, minus gross lizard encounters!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Office Before and After

Remember my posts from a week or two ago?
[ you can read them here and also here. ]

I really hate to keep you waiting, so I am getting straight to the good stuff.
(a.k.a. the pictures)

Our office/guest-room has really come a long way
since I started this little project.

Here are some 'before' photos for proof of the changes:

We have tons of stuff!
There were few places to put all of that stuff.
We needed organization badly.

Piles of things invaded our space.
We threw some things out, and we stored others.

I had big ideas for this mixed assortment of picture frames.
Who has this many frames, anyway?!

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I hope you enjoy our sea-inspired room!

It's feeling much more like home, and the sea inspired touches make me feel relaxed.
It's nice to wind down and spend a little time in our office.
Come and visit now! This will be your guest room. (:

I just love the Expedit shelves we bought at Ikea!
All of the boxes and baskets that fit the bookshelf provide tons of much needed storage.

1)  I put my collection of Coastal Living magazines into these fun
navy and white magazine boxes from Ikea.
{maybe I got my nautical outfit inspiration from these boxes?! }

2)  This stack of books, in varying shades of blue, livens up the dark blue boxes
on the shelves around them. I placed a Crate and Barrel vase full of seashells,
that I gathered during our honeymoon, on top of the books to 'weigh them down'.

3)  This pretty blue glass bottle came from Patina antique store in Denver.
A blue and white coral frame from Target is the perfect home
for a photo, of a cruiser bicycle, taken during a trip to Mackinac Island.

Our bookshelf no longer has piles of things in front of it,
and I added a few things on top too.

1)  The collection of frames on top of the bookshelf
mimics the colors of our desk and office chair.

2)  I recently purchased this nautical looking Scentsy warmer from a friend of mine.
The rope detail reminds me of being on a boat, and the beach-y smelling waxes
make this room smell amazing!

3)  While visiting Coronado Island, I picked up a hand painted post card
of the Hotel del Coronado. I would love to stay there some day, but until then
this framed post card will have to do.

Check back tomorrow for photos
of the gallery wall!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dresses Are Forever : Closet Braid Lover

Who needs diamonds? I think dresses are a girls best friend!
At least they're my new best friend.
{Don't get the wrong idea, though, I still like diamonds.}

Growing up, my wardrobe never consisted of so many dresses as it does today. Which really isn't saying much since I have about three dresses that I wear regularly, but that's beside the point. You can't regret past mistakes, so that's why I am looking forward and starting a new relationship with the dress. One where we enjoy each other's company. Not one where I dread the day we spend time together. You know the kind.

Remember this blue dress? Sadly, this is the first time I've worn it since receiving it in the mail. Apparently it took a cross-country move to Florida for me to bust this blue dress out of the closet and throw it on with some fun jewelry and sandals. The result was better than I had hoped.

{ dress : Modcloth / jewelry and sandals : forever21 }

I love braids. Whew. Now my secret is out! I really love my Modcloth 'Closet Braid Dress' that I bought with some birthday money this past winter. After taking a few photos, I realized my outfit included multiple braids. I braided my hair just to make it that much more ridiculous. Braided dress. Check. Braided purse straps, check. Braided necklace. Check. Finally, braided hair. Check! A girl can never have enough braids.... or diamonds

Unfortunately, my favorite photo of me in this dress turned out a little fuzzy.
I'm sharing it anyway.

See how happy I am in this dress. Why did it take me so long to realize that dresses make me as giddy as a school girl? They especially make me happy when it's 94° and humid. Breezes do more 'cooling magic' when you're wearing a dress, and I like that. Dresses are my new best friend!

{Oh and you too. You're my bff also}

Happy Monday!
Do you love dresses too?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nautical Inspired Maxi Skirt

{ top : Banana Republic / skirt : TJ Maxx / sandals : Seychelles }

The water has always been a comfort to me, and I can never get enough of it. After growing up on a lake in Michigan, and then living in land-locked Colorado for a while, I'm really happy to be living in Florida near water again! When Kristina, over at Pretty Shiny Sparkly, announced that maxi skirts would be the newest 'Bloggers Do It Better' challenge, I just had to work a nautical theme into my outfit somehow.

When I think of being near the water, navy and white always pop into my mind. Someday my husband and I will have a beach cottage decked out in a navy and white interior. You might even find some blue glass fishing floats on our future beach cottage tables. Until then using clothing and visits to the beach, for my nautical fix, will have to suffice.

{ belt : New York & Co. / bracelets : Charlotte Russe / necklace : old }

Working a knotted belt, shoes and purse with rope details, and a starfish necklace into my outfit added extra nautical inspired layers to my ruffled white top and navy maxi skirt. To dress everything up a bit, I added some pearl stud earrings and fun, sparkly bracelets. All that was missing was my *private yacht. It never showed.

{ I don't really own a yacht, but in my dreams I do. }

{ sunglasses : Juicy couture from nordstrom rack }
{ purse : nordstrom bp / nail polish : essie / ring : my husband }

This nautical inspired photo shoot was photographed in a small waterside town near the Gulf of Mexico. The town of Tarpon Springs is Greek influenced, and we even found a couple of spots that almost made us feel like we were in Mykonos, Greece gazing at whitewashed buildings with bright blue paint. Don't even get me started on the Greek bakeries that we came across. Needless to say, a visit to Tarpon Springs is in the near future.

I look forward to creating other looks with this maxi skirt, but I'm not sure that anything can beat nautical-inspired outfits. Okay I may be a bit biased because of my love for the water, but I promise to try and be open-minded. {sort of}

As you can see from yesterday, I'm also falling for tribal print clothing. Watch out!

Bloggers Do It Better

Now go and visit Pretty Shiny Sparkly to see what other bloggers
came up with for the 'maxi skirt challenge'.

* please note: only my skirt and bracelets were purchased new for less than $20 for both.
Looking put together on a budget is a high priority!

Tribal Print Thursday

Today I'm posting this blog a little later than usual. I could make up some sob story about how our lives are just super busy and we have no time to relax anymore, but that would be a lie. I've just been plain slacking when it comes to writing blog posts lately.

I don't want you to worry though. Try not to fret over my laissez-faire blogger attitude,
because here are a couple of things I plan on sharing with you in the upcoming days:

One may, or may not, be an outfit post...

The other just might have something to do with a gallery wall.

{ tribal print top : TJ Maxx / purse : Nordstrom bp / high bun : Michaela Noelle }

Oh, and did I mention how much I've been loving tribal print lately?!
Because I do love it.
A lot.

Okay. Now come back tomorrow. I promise I'll have more to offer then!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blog Updates & Torture by Resumé

Yesterday I was feeling ambitious, {you're lucky since that doesn't happen often} so I updated the tabs under my blog header. "Yeah big deal," you might say, but I did put some genuine thought into what I wrote there. Not that I don't put thought into what I normally share here on my blog, but I wanted to include a little bit more about who I really am. I still feel that I 'hide' some things from you all, and sometimes even from myself, and I don't want to do that.

{ I partly added to the 'creative life' section on this blog because I needed some inspiration for my resume and cover letter. I found that looking back on what makes me, well... me, helped narrow down what went on my resume. Hey, whatever works... right? }

So go check out the 'Creative Life' tab and the updated 'About' tab too!

Also, in case you had not noticed, I added a couple of graphics in my sidebar with links to my Twitter page and Pinterest boards. I'm all over the Internet these days.

Catch me if you can!

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In fact, if you follow me on Twitter you might have seen me complaining whining
tweeting kind words about resumes last night. Not!

That one piece of paper caused me so much grief that I wanted to throw in the towel, and start up a business of my own, just so I would never have to write a resume again! That would have been overkill though, so I pulled myself together, solicited some help from my husband, and wrote the resume.

I find it incredibly difficult to narrow down my life achievements into one piece of paper that could mean the difference between landing a job or not. I'm sweating just thinking about it.

Ask me to explain why a friend or co-worker should get hired and I'll rave about them and all of their strengths, but when it comes to talking about myself I go quiet. That quiet does not equate to a lack of knowledge or experience. That lack of words comes from someone who feels that every day is a learning experience and that my actions will speak much louder than words on a paper. If I love something and have a passion for it, you can't stop me. My friends and loved ones will sometimes say nicer things about me than I can say about myself. What is it about resumes that makes me so shy?

Call me crazy, but I feel that a piece of paper cannot show passion and drive like a person can. Words on paper also have the ability to lie. Someone might look really great on paper but lack the things needed in person. Too many people are passed over because they only, as if it is not a feat in itself, possess a high school diploma. {Yes, I have a college degree. It's a piece of paper that represents something too.} Not to mention, sometimes people have never been given enough chances in life to shine. That piece of paper should never get in the way of happiness!

The torture of writing a resume may not come from the resume itself but from the pressures of life instead. I honestly really dislike being judged by what a piece of paper says, or does not say, about me. The really great thing about life, and resumes, is that you can re-write that piece of paper every day if you see necessary. Start over with a blank sheet of paper and re-analyze what is important.

Have you updated your resume recently?

Oh, and writing my resume was not quite as bad as I made it out to be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Recipe: Meatballs & Cooking with Ease

Do you ever have one of those nights when you don't have anything in the refrigerator, shudder at the thought of going to the grocery store, have zero motivation to cook, and you settle for hot dogs and baked beans for dinner? No?! Me either. {I was only curious because I have a friend who that happens to once in a while.} 

When you don't have the motivation to get all Barefoot Contessa on your husband {and maybe even kids... if you have them}, these meatballs are a surefire way to spice up a boring meal of boxed pasta and canned sauce. They're fairly easy to bake, they require very few ingredients, and you can even freeze a batch and pop them out of the freezer in those rather frequent ever so rare lack-of-grocery situations.

Simple and good are great words to describe a meal when you're hungry and tired,
and these meatballs are just that.

Homemade Meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup bread crumbs : {I use Progresso Italian Style}
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all the ingredients except ground beef in a large bowl. Add the ground beef in small chunks while mushing all together with hands. Bake on baking pan for 24 - 30 minutes. (making sure they are cooked through).

{Cooking Tip} : I'm a very big fan of prepping food before cooking. If you ever feel rushed while cooking/baking, or you get disorganized, try prepping your food beforehand. What I mean by 'prepping' is that if a recipe calls for chopped, or minced, foods, do that before anything else. I also mean that you measure out your ingredients into small prep bowls before mixing things together. It really helps the whole process go more smoothly. Plus, having lots of cute little bowls, like these, around the kitchen is fun! Give it a try if you haven't before, you might get hooked on prepping too. (:

After putting the meatballs in the oven to bake, I usually throw together a quick salad. The artist in me likes seeing multiple colors in a salad, so I try adding lots of healthy vegetables. I especially love avocado in salad, but we're having a tough time finding ones that are ripe! Bummer. Either way, you can easily whip up a couple of salads while the meatballs cook in the oven. See. Simple.

Add some baked garlic bread to the equation, and you have a really delicious and well-rounded meal for dinner. {Or lunch. Whatever floats your boat.} Some day I'd like to bake a few batches and freeze them for a quick dinner remedy. Who doesn't love spaghetti and meatballs now and then? {Please don't answer this if you hate them}. Hopefully this meatball recipe works for you. I know we love it!

The one thing I forgot to snap a picture of was the garlic bread. Darn it. See. Prepping before cooking doesn't solve all of the world's problems. A girl can only try!

So there you have it, a simple dinner of
spaghetti and home-cooked meatballs.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lift Off: The Atlantis Launch

My husband and I were fortunate enough to see, in person, space shuttle Atlantis lift off this past Friday. Living in Florida has a few perks, and being near Kennedy Space Center just so happens to be one of them! For a while we didn't know we were going to be living in Florida, but I was really hoping that we would be able to see the the launch of Atlantis. We decided late Thursday night that we were definitely going to drive over to the east coast of Florida to see it.

We heard that traffic can get very heavy on the morning of a scheduled launch, so we woke up around 3:30am. I would not call myself a morning person, so waking up that early takes quite the effort. I survived. There was no way that we wanted to miss NASA's last scheduled shuttle launch, so we gave ourselves plenty of time to arrive in Titusville, park the car, and find a seat to watch the launch. Whew.

We left for Titusville, Florida when the sky was still inky black. There was such an air of excitement the morning of the launch. My husband even signed up to receive text message updates from NASA! Space shuttle Endeavor experienced seemingly endless delays in April, so we had some reservations about actually seeing Atlantis launch into outer space. Space shuttle Atlantis was given a 30% chance of launching, and that was good enough for us to drive all the way over to the Space Coast of Florida. Good thing that we made the trip or we would have missed the on time departure of Atlantis!

Traffic flowed fairly easily, but we did run into heavy traffic, due to an accident, once we were a few miles from Titusville. A map printed at home and a tiny detour took us away from the traffic jam and quickly into town. Upon arriving in Titusville, we came across a parking free-for-all! Cars were parked on curbs, miles down both sides of streets, and almost anywhere that did not have a 'no parking' sign. Since it was free, we opted for the curb parking instead of a pay lot. I'm not sure the town could have ticketed every car there. That would have been cold-hearted and not to mention time consuming; I heard there were about 750k people viewing the Atlantis shuttle launch! I find it incredible that we were only two of those nearly one million spectators.

Once we parked our car, we searched for a restroom and possibly a bite to eat. Unfortunately, the other 749,998 people in attendance had the same idea. The local McDonald's had approximately 147.3 people inside waiting for food and a bathroom break. I overheard a man telling a woman near me that the park next door had restrooms with a shorter line, so we hightailed it to the park. Thankfully the park had toilets that flushed, and the line was short in comparison to the line at McDonald's. After finding a bathroom with a line shorter than 30 minutes, I was feeling really good about actually seeing the shuttle launch. It was as if fate was on our side at that point!

Some people had arrived the night before to claim the 'good seats' for the shuttle launch. Since Titusville is about 12 miles from the launch site, everything at that point seems like a pretty good spot to watch. I told my husband that watching a shuttle launch was like attending a "sporting event for outer space geeks". After looking for space on a very crowded pier, we decided that a park down the road looked like a better bet. We found the perfect little spot to set up our chairs, and no one could sit directly in front of us due to a retention pond in front of us. Thankfully my husband found that perfect spot, and it ended up being a great place to watch space shuttle Atlantis rocket towards outer space!

Since we arrived extra early, we sat and waited for hours. You could seriously feel the energy of the crowd. There were so many people of all ages, and it was fun to see the excitement and anxiousness in the behavior of everyone.

Clouds above us threatened a launch delay. Everyone had their cameras, tripods, video recorders, telescopes, and binoculars ready. Sometimes people would loudly announce what they had just heard on their radio. It was beginning to sound like the weather was no longer a threat.

The countdown to launch time continued.

Then suddenly, we started hearing the crowd counting down
"10, 9, 8... 7, 6, 5, 4... 3, 2, 1... and then nothing."

I began to wonder "had something gone wrong?".
Why was the shuttle still on its launch pad?

Apparently nothing was wrong but some people had been given incorrect information.

Finally we heard a fairly confident sounding countdown.

Still nothing happened when the crowd yelled 'lift off!'.
Radio delays had made the timing slightly off.

Before we knew it, there were flames and steam shooting out from below the shuttle!

Lift off!

* these pictures were taken with our Canon Powershot
they may appear slightly grainy

* Unfortunately, I don't have a zoom lens for my my dSLR.
The Powershot takes decent shots though. (:

Here's a video of the launch!

My husband and I both had the chills when Atlantis finally lifted off from the launch pad. It was really amazing seeing how quickly those astronauts were taken from this earth and into the clouds. They were taken to a place that very few of us will ever experience in this life. Incredible.

I still find it amazing that humans created a shuttle that can break through the atmosphere and take us to outer space. It's almost hard to believe that it's real. Things like this only happen in movies, right?!

Have you ever seen a shuttle launch in person?
What did you think?