Chicago Take Two

12/13/19 4:45pm

Well, I’m back in what might possibly be one of my favorite cities! The hubs and I are in Chicago for a few days just to explore the city around Christmastime and to visit some friends!

We flew out of Cville, which is definitely the cutest airport I have ever been in. If you get the chance, totally fly out, or through there. But anyways, we flew out of Cville to Atlanta, had an hour layover (Yikes, time was tight), then from there went to Chicago!

Took the metro in and now we are just killig time in this adorable hole in the wall coffee place called Emerald City Coffee, until our friends are here. (Coffee rating 5/10- not awful, not mind blowing)

Now that you unnecessarily know what my intinerary was…I’m so looking forward to sharing this trip with everyone! I’ll be updating the blog daily with little bits about my day and maybe even some pictures, so definitely check back in!

Are any of you taking trips this weekend, for the holidays, or just anytime soon? If you are, drop them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you are up to!



12/13/19 5:15pm

Quick update: Totally still in this coffee shop…and people are honking their horns, yelling, and rushing around and this is honestly feeding my city girl soul. I didn’t realize how much I missed the noises and the hustle and bustle of city life until this moment. Don’t get me wrong! Charlottesville is amazing, but it feels more like a small town than a city. If you’re from a city, and you feel me, let me know!

K, that’s all haha!

12/17/19 12:22p

So… clearly I am horrible at keeping up with things. BUT! I have a good excuse! For awhile, I didn’t have access to wifi where we were staying (mainly because I kept forgetting ask for the password, but hey…whatevs, right?) and we were SO. BUSY. I mean, there were days that we left and didn’t come back until dinner time!

We are currently in the air and on the way to ATL, so I will try to summarize everything we did 🙂

First, you all should know that we came not only to see sweet friends, but also so that my architect husband could see architect-y things for work. He went to something called the Biennial that was held in Chicago, and from there he saw some other famous buildings and such.

I, however, was waay more tourist-y. (I like to think I wasn’t but really, I think I kinda was) I really wanted to do Safehouse Chicago (spy themed resturant), the German Christmas Market, Lincoln Park Zoo Lights, and the Museum of Science and Industry. I got to do all of the aforementioned things as well as try a bunch of delicious resturants (which I will list below) and best of all, spend time with friends! (Naomi, Renan, Heather, and Nick, I’m thinking of you all!)

The first evening we were there, we got to try this amazing tapas place called Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. If you ever visit Chicago, I would highly recommend this place! It was delicious, unique, and pretty quirky, which I loved. The food was top notch, the service was pretty good (not fantastic, but good enough that I would go back), and the atmosphere was so fun! Definitely a great place to go if you are going with a group since everything is shareable and you can try all the things.

Our first full day was pretty relaxed, which I needed. Davey went ahead of me and did his architecting at the Biennial downtown and I met him in the afternoon (I slept in, nothing really exciting, unless you are me who never sleeps in lol). Once downtown, he and I explored a bit, did some shopping and basically just hungout downtown until all of our friends met us at the German Christmas Market! It was honestly the cutest thing I think I have ever seen; It was all lit up, they had gluhwein (mulled wine), beer, streusel, pretzels, and more. The vendors were all bringing wares from various pats of Germany, and it was wonderful to see! 10/10 would recommend! Ended the night with delicious Indian food with friends.

So…I definitely thought I uploaded the second half of this post. Lol Guys, I can’t with technology lately lol

Okay, so, where was I?

The second day was equally as great as the first in my opinion.

Davey and I had the day to ourselves Sunday and Monday, which was really nice! It provided some great exploration time and time to go be children at the science museum! We basically spent the first free day we had going to the University Of Chicago campus, which, OMG so beautiful! I went into a museum (Oriental Institute) while the hubs toured Robie house. Then we went to Safehouse aka a spy themed resturant aka the best time ever!

As you may have noticed, Davey and I really love places that are primarily meant for families or children. Is that bad? I think we are just kids at heart. Anyways! Safehouse was such a fun time! While I can’t reveal everything about it (because DUH it was a secret mission), I can tell you it is worth a visit! The food is honestly nothing special, but the experience more than makes up for it. I will say it forces you out of your shell, so if you hate interacting with others and being goofy in public…maaaaaaybe don’t go lol

The second full day that we had to ourselves we spent at the Museum of Science and Industry! and WOW. This place is huge. It truly took us the whole day to get through all of the exhibits. Again, a very family friendly activity and so worth it! To cap off the last evening, we got some classic Chicago deep dish pizza and saw the Lincoln Park zoo lights! Another thing I would definitely recommend; It was so well done and a wonderful and completely FREE activity.

Basically the moral of this story is go visit Chicago if you haven’t yet! And don’t be afraid of the cold season! Having been there both during a heat wave and in the winter, I actually think that I loved being there in the winter season much more! The fact that it was almost Christmas made the city even more beautiful since it was all lit up and decorated to the nines.

Sorry for the disjointed post guys- lets be real: It’s the holiday season. Everyone is busy and I for one have been forgetting everything and so busy.

BUT HEY. It’s up and done and I consider that a win. Much love to you all! Thanks for going with me on this journey!

Talk soon,



One Day At A Time

Hey everyone!

So…I didn’t die. RT school is absolutely no joke. I have been so incredibly busy I feel like I haven’t had to breathe. Between clinicals, work, marriage, trips, and holidays, I’ve been so slammed. But I’m back and finally have a semi manageable schedule (it’ll be even better in January!) that I think will support my blogging more!

I have honestly missed blogging. It is such a great creative outlet for me, but I have just not had the time to do it.

So! A few life updates!!

  • We are still happily living in good old Cville, but we have moved! We are in the downtown area now! (more about that in another post)
  • Watson is finally done growing. He’ll be two in January and is basically my emotional support pup.
  • Fiyero is still his usual aloof self, but now he’ll sometimes emerge and actually snuggle.
  • RT school is completely brutal, but it will be worth it in the end! (Which is nearing! June can’t come fast enough…)
  • I’m still a working student; I’m working at UVA Health now and love it here! I’ll also be switching to working nights come January, so any night shift tips are appreciated!
  • Some big changes are on the horizon, so I’ll keep you guys updated as they happen!

Like I said earlier, my schedule has opened up so much more! Christmas break is almost here (PRAISE) and I’ll be doing nothing but napping, blogging, reading, and repeating. Ya girl is BEAT. The crazy thing is, I’ll also be prepping my resume!?! What is life?! Then fast forward to February and March, I’ll be beginning my RT job search; It’s truly crazy for me to think about that. So much is happening and I’m just sitting here ready for a break. As the title suggests, I’m taking it one day at a time at this point.

Have any of you all had any big (or small!) exciting life changes? Drop them below if you want to share! While I know this is a short post, I just wanted to throw a quick one out there before my busy week got any busier. But I’ll be back this weekend because we’ll be traveling back to one of my favorite places on Friday! (Cue excited/slightly obnoxious squealing)

Thanks for being the best! Talk to you soon 🙂

Much love,


Chicago, IL


I have a new favorite city! Chicago was the stuff of dreams! (Pictures at the bottom!)

Davey and I had a wedding to go to in Indiana, and so we flew into Chicago and drove the rest of the way, thinking that after the wedding, we would spend some time in Chicago before our flight back. Gosh, am I glad we did! It was such a beautiful city…I absolutely loved that you could take a walk along the river, and there were so many places to sit and have lunch; I loved the bridges, the architecture (blame my husband), THE PARKS, and just the whole vibe the city gave off! It felt very magical to me.

I don’t really know where to begin on this post- so forgive me if I am all over the place!

First, we were only there for like…24 hours. Which totally sucked and I so want to go back!

Secondly, IT WAS SO FLIPPIN HOT. Maybe this is TMI, but I got so sweaty. We both did haha! There was a heat warning that had been issued and it was going to get close to like 100 degrees or something absurd like that, but we explored regardless of the warnings! Stupid of us? Yes. Worth it? Totally.

We basically just walked anywhere we could from our hotel; We went to Millennium Park, we walked to the piers and dipped our feet in the blessedly frigid Lake Michigan, we took tons of pictures, gawked at beautiful architecture…it was amazing. I would have to say that my favorite thing in the park was this swooping and arching walking bridge- while you were on it, you just got the best view of the city. The big bean was pretty cool too, but I found out that it was kinda gross…everyone touches it..and that just makes me cringe. I touched it and immediately felt the need to scrub my hands lol. So. Many. Germs.

We also had deep dish pizza for the first time, and for someone who grew up with NY style pizza,  it was quite the experience. It was SO GOOD. Super weird, but super good. I didn’t know you could make pizza that thick!! We went to this place called Giordano’s, it’s supposedly some of the best DD pizza in Chicago (according to the internet). It takes them an hour and a half to make ONE pizza. Because it is so dang thick. That just blew my mind. The wait was crazy long, but we were exhausted and decided to just wait it out, and I think I can safely speak for both of us when I say, we were so happy we waited! Our waiter kind of forgot about us for a while at first, but it all ended well when our pizza arrived! I’m pretty sure I waddled out of that restaurant.

Moral of this insane post is: Go to Chicago and do all the things. You can do and see a lot on a budget, which was a plus for us. Explore and just walk around! You won’t be disappointed! The people are super nice, and the sights are breathtaking!

Until next time!

Much love,

Tori xx

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Funny…I’m blogging about blogging. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t giggle a little at myself. Why you may ask, am I blogging about blogging? Because it’s so dang hard! I mean, let’s really think about it: You spend your time as a blogger (any type of blogger, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, etc.) coming up with ideas and things to write about. You may get writer’s block (me basically all the time it feels like) or simply tire of blogging. It can be exhausting to blog. Depending on the blog itself, any given post could be emotionally draining, or very hard to write due to content. It takes special people, who are willing to open up to literally the world, and who have no problem sharing their personal opinions, or beliefs. Now, I’m not just saying all of this to make myself feel or look good- I think that I have so much to learn about blogging and how to really make sure I keep up with it and fit it into my life.

It takes discipline, dedication, hard work, and a fair share of openness and honestly. It also requires you to be vulnerable. Real talk: The internet is a tough place. Yes, there is freedom in that you can say whatever you want, but then on the flip side, there are mean people out there who can also have the freedom to say whatever they want to you and about what you are saying; It can be immensely hurtful and sometimes carry into your personal life. You may not know the person who called you names, but it feels like they know you and like they are attacking you personally all for the sole purpose of entertainment.

Sorry, that was a rabbit trail…but in all seriousness, blogging about really anything opens the writer to a world of harsh critics, who they don’t even know. That, in my opinion, makes you, the blogger, brave. You are carrying on even though you have perhaps heard a  harsh word or comment. Perhaps someone doesn’t like your opinion on politics or how you care for your child. Nevertheless, you continue to press on and keep on writing whatever makes you happy. That, my friend, makes you brave. Don’t forget that.

Another thing that, at least for me, always seems to get in the way of blogging is my schedule. I applaud all the bloggers that have posts up in a timely manner! I can’t seem to get a schedule down at all. It’s basically if I have time, and if then, if I feel like it? I know that sounds awful, but it’s just the honest truth. Sometimes I think “Oh, I have time today to blog…but it’s such a beautiful day outside…” I end up putting my blogging off to go outside with my puppy and husband! I know it’s never a bad thing to put family first, but I would like to prove to myself that I can have a balance between family time and blogging- so any tips or tricks that you would be willing to share, would be amazing!

All I know is, after the initial excitement of having a blog wears off, it becomes really difficult to keep up with it. So to all you bloggers out there: Keep doing what you’re doing! Stay brave, and never let anyone intimidate you! Your blog is YOUR little slice of the internet- no one can bully you there ❤

Much love,


Life As We Know It ( A Second Attempt at Catching Up)

Alright guys, cards on the table; I suck at this. I so want to keep you all in the loop, but I am so bad at it (as I’m sure you guys all have noticed)!!

So here we go again, hopefully for the very last time; Time to play catch up!

  • First things first, I did not get into the Surgical Tech program I wanted, which was both a good and a bad thing. Bad because it really hit my confidence levels pretty hard, and good, because through that rejection, I found my true passion in Respiratory Therapy. I’ll continue this story at the bottom, but up top is reserved for spark notes haha.
  • Watson has gotten huge. Like seriously huge!! He’s probably over 30 pounds now and he just keeps growing like a weed! When we adopted him, we were told he was a pure Cocker spaniel, but so many people have suggested that he might be a Boykin spaniel! And I’m honestly not sure!! The differences between the two aren’t very clear to me, I mean, I know they are different breeds, but they look so similar in my opinion! If you guys know anything about the two, feel free to comment and teach me!
  • The husband got a new job, and get this: IT’S IN TOWN!!! He won’t have to drive for two hours a day anymore! So, SO happy about that! (He is too, but I think I might be even more excited than he is lol)
  • My work schedule has changed drastically for the better! I now don’t have to be in until later in the morning (and sometimes not until the afternoon!), which leave plenty of time to get things done around our apartment and to take care of Watson and Fiyero 🙂 It will also come in very handy when I start classes on the 17th!
  • We just totally DIYed our kitchen table, and it turned out fantastic!! So much better than we hoped! (Mostly because we had never stained anything before, let alone laminate lol) I’ll post a picture below!
  • Lastly, we are finally settled in our new place! It looks much more like a home now than it did just last week! (Last week it looked like a poor college student’s crash pad) We hung pictures and decor up, rearranged, and we basically have a new table! We also bought bar stools, which made us feel very adult. It feels like we JUST finished unpacking…probably because we did…haha! It’s just such an arduous process in my opinion…I absolutely hate unpacking period. So finally being unpacked is huge for us, well me mostly.


Extreme Heart Pouring Out below. Skip to the end if you want to just see my dog and the table, and no my feelings won’t be hurt ❤





You’ve been warned.





So! Respiratory Therapy! You’re probably thinking “Whoa Tori, you need to just quit flip-flopping and choose something!” Or perhaps you just think I’m insane…well, I am, and I like it so… 😛 But here’s what I think: Sometimes, God closes doors, maybe ones that you thought were right ones to walk through, for your own good. It’s funny honestly…these past few years have been really hard for me; Never really having a plan, and it seeming like there would never be an end in sight. Basically having the feeling of hopelessness. This changed everything. Long story short, I didn’t make it into the Surgical Tech program. I was completely devastated. I felt like I had hit a wall, AGAIN. So I wallowed for a few days, and then I lost it.  I just broke down in tears and started praying asking why SO MANY DOORS had been closing in my face for so long. I was so emotionally wrecked. Not long after that, I started just surfing the web…looking for inspiration or something. It was then that I had the bright idea to research Respiratory Therapy (RT). Well, I say *I*, but let’s be real, it was a God thing. Anyways, I look it up and stumble upon a program that fit into my life and schedule PERFECTLY. Almost way to good to be true. So, I inquire.

The next day, I heard back and again, it sounded perfect. I started looking up what RTs typically do, and it was…uncanny. It’s exactly what I have always wanted to do, but I never knew a job like it existed. You get to help people, young and old. You get to help in crisis, and in calm times. You get to research and discover new and exciting ways to help people with chronic illnesses. You get to have patient interaction and have ample interaction with co-workers as well. And, the best part? RTs are an integral part of a NICU team…which has always been my dream. I know first hand what it is like in a NICU and it can be so scary…which is why I wanted to work in one so badly. People you see in the NICU are usually hurting and searching for answers, or just hoping that their sweet baby will be alright. I want to be there during that time of need for those families just like they were there for mine when we were in crisis mode. I want to be that comfort, that shoulder to cry on, or just a listening ear. And those babies need people fighting for them, and that’s what I want to do with my whole heart.

After realizing all of this, I got so excited, and I started the process of applying and testing to get into the program. Shortly after I took the test, I found out:

I got in. Me. The girl who was rejected from the other programs that I thought I wanted. I. Got. In. I jumped, I screamed, I cried…there were so many emotions.

Fast forward to the present, I start on the 17th as long as all the paperwork goes through and if I get into a clinical site! My interview for that is this Saturday and I am super nervous. So good vibes and prayer would be greatly appreciated! I’ll let you guys know what happens! So that is that! I still can’t believe it to be honest. A program that works for me, and has an end in sight, I can afford it, I can still work full time while going through it…mind is blown away right now. I need to stop here, because honestly, I’ll just keep rambling about how excited I am and it’ll get really old, really fast haha!

Wow. I know that was alot. If you read it all, THANK YOU! If not? Totally fine 🙂 Not everyone is into the heart to heart stuff 🙂 Without further ado, here is my pupper and our new to us table 😀 (If you can’t tell, I am very proud of it and I seriously have sent this picture to most of my friends. It was also featured on my Insta story which, reminds me…FOLLOW meh! ( @makinghistori )


Peep our handy work. I’m absolutely loving this new color!!

Boykin, or Cocker Spaniel? I’m honestly not sure.

Well, guys, It has been a blast! I’m so sorry I ditched again for so long! I will do my very best to keep everyone in the loop about my life, and would love to hear about how yours are going! Drop a comment if you like, or feel free to send me a message 🙂

Much love,

Tori 🙂

Catching Up

Whoa, guys! It has been WAY too long!! I had to take a break from blogging because school and life got insane. But! I’m back, and can’t wait to catch everyone up on how life has been!!

I finished my semester and applied to a surgical technology program (fingers crossed I get in!), and Davey and I got a PUPPY!!!! His name is Watson and he is honestly the cutest puppy I have ever seen (although I may be biased) and he is so good. (Pictures at the bottom of the page) He is a chocolate cocker spaniel who loves to sleep in bathtubs and eat cat food. He also loves to torture Fiyero, poor little thing! We are currently trying to overcome the hurdle that is potty training him, so anyone that has any tips, please share!!

Life has been so full of ups and downs recently. Davey and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary recently! We went on a little weekend getaway and just relaxed. It was so wonderful to take a break from everything and just rest. Ironically right before that trip, I was in a car accident (I’m totally fine, thank goodness!), but sadly my car did not make it 😦 But we did get a new car shortly afterward and I love it!!! It’s blue and so much bigger. I’m still getting used to the size and different little things about it. I’m still horrible at parallel parking though! I don’t think that will ever change haha!

Davey and I are moving in just a couple of weeks! Let me tell you…you NEVER know how much stuff you have until you are packing to move!! Or how truly unorganized you are!! It’s crazy! Here I thought I had an organized little apartment…nope. Not at all. Too much stuff, super messy. Let me level with you guys: I hate packing. I’m bad at packing. I find it so annoying and tiresome. I absolutely love UNpacking and organizing a new place, but packing everything up just seems so much harder for some reason.

Anyway, I am so sorry I totally fell off the face of the earth for so long! I’m back! I can’t wait to continue to share little bits of my life with you all!



Three Notch’d Brewing Company

This past Friday night, my husband and I decided to go grab drinks at the new Three Notched Brewing Co. in IX art park! It was FABULOUS!! They are located in a previously empty warehouse right on the edge of IX. Which means it’s super awesome on the inside.

Atmosphere: 5/5

The atmosphere at TNBC is quite spectacular. Laid back are some words that come to mind. They have long picnic style tables instead of individual ones, to encourage social interaction, they have table service for just drinks (um, yes please!), and whatever their playlist was, it was perfect for drinking! As an added bonus, this place is family friendly! (Nope, this is not a dream parents!) No joke. They have a little play area for kids to hang out in while parents have some well-deserved drinks! They also have craft soda flights so the kiddos won’t feel left out.

Dress code: Casual

Staff: 5/5

The staff here is beyond awesome. There is someone at the door who greets you and asks you where you want to sit and whether or not you want food. They then lead you to your seats, give you menus, and within 5 minutes, someone was there to help us with our choices! The service was fast, efficient. After ordering, we got our flights in under 5 minutes. It was ridiculous!

Flight price: $6 for 4 beer flight, $8 for a 6 beer flight

Wine/Cocktail prices: Ranged from $8-$12

Brews: I ended up getting a four-beer flight, with the IX Lemongrass Rye, Hydraulion Irish Red, Brother Barnabas Tripel, and the Blackberry Gose. Wow, they were good!

My personal favorite was the Blackberry Gose, but honestly, they were all fantastic. For the most part, they were all smooth going down. The Lemongrass had a really nice balance to it, and it had a pleasant after-taste. The Irish Red was good, but a bit harsher, definitely hoppier compared to the others that I tried. Barnabas Tripel was super carbonated, which I ended up liking, and had a very crisp finish to it. The Blackberry Gose was basically like drinking liquified Sour Patch kids but with alcohol. Very tart, and crisp! I think this one was seasonal though, so better go get some while it lasts!

Overall, this was a stellar place. This would be a great place to have a friends night out, and honestly a great place for a date as well! Very versatile, and fun. Drinks were fantastic, staff was incredible, I will totally be going back!

**Side note: This Three Notch’d has a full-service kitchen as well! I haven’t tried the food, unfortunately, but will update the post as soon as I do! The menu looks so yummy! I can’t wait to try it!


Website: Three Notch’d Brewing Co. & Craft Kitchen



Quebec City, Quebec

If you’re anything like me, then you love to travel, and travel often! Unfortunately, my wallet doesn’t always agree, but Davey (my husband) and I, always seem to find a way to explore new places cheaply! If you want some amazing travel tips, go check out my friend Zette’s blog, Broke On A Plane! I follow basically all her tips! They are all FANTASTIC. (Love you Zette!!!)

Quebec! What a beautiful place! Davey and I went there for our honeymoon, 10/10 would recommend going to the Old City and staying there! It is gorgeous, and you get a small taste of France without flying across the ocean! For starters, we drove to Quebec (I know, we are insane), but the drive wasn’t too horrible, just very straight and flat! So if you decide to go that route, bring some audio books or something of that nature with you! Also, please don’t make the same mistake we did; Do not drive into a new country where you don’t speak the language AT NIGHT. It’s an awful idea. All that will happen is you’ll get lost, all the signs will be in French, your GPS won’t work, everything will be closed, AND you won’t be able to find a bathroom. (Yes, sadly it’s a true story. I almost peed my pants that night) We eventually made it though! I darted into the hotel, asked in broken French where the bathroom was, and practically danced when the woman at the front desk said to turn around and it was right there!

We stayed at a beautiful boutique hotel called Hôtel Champlain. The interior is gorgeous, the breakfast is to die for, and GUYS. They have a WINE ON TAP. I now realize that’s more common, but it still blows my mind. Literally the best way to wine taste! Fun fact: The last night Davey and I were there, we realized we hadn’t used ANY of the free credits at the wine bar. So, obviously, we decided to use the whole $100 credit in one night. Let’s just say the next morning was…rough. So totally worth it though!

Throughout the city, there were cobblestone streets and tons of bakeries! We ate WAY too many croissants. The food there was incredible! Everything was fresh, from the food at McDonald’s to Chez Jules, the fanciest restaurant I think I’ve ever been in. (they had a crushed ice vodka lime palette cleanser. YUM) We found some fantastic coffeehouses and fun little hole in the wall places! One such place was La Pizz! It was probably the cutest pizza place ever. There was only one man working and it was fantastic. The best part about the food in Quebec? It’s SO affordable! We were able to buy so many baguettes and croissants!!! (I may have a slight obsession with bread, but who doesn’t?) Things there aren’t very expensive in general, which was wonderful for a newly married, broke couple! So vacationing there is a great bargain if you go at the right times.


Aside from the food, the shopping in the area is on point. They have gorgeous streets lined with hundreds of unique, locally owned shops! One thing I noticed that all of the shops do is they decorate their storefronts and doorways with wreaths, but they use their wares to decorate it. So if you went past the wood carving store, you’d see a huge wreath decorated with cute little hand-carved animals. I think the best was a hardware store. They got really creative and put tools together to look like weird little robots climbing the wreath.




The glorious Funiculaire!




Totally forgot to mention the Funiculaire! I had no clue what it was until we visited!here! Since the old city was built on a cliff for protection, there are plenty of hills and they are incredibly steep. It’s one of two ways to get to the lower part of the city if you are a pedestrian. The first option you have is stairs. Loads of steep stairs. (Yes I fell) So, the Canadiens built this beautiful and adorable little cable car esk thing to ease the pedestrians sufferings. It’s super cheap to ride and beats all the stairs! We used it so much…

View from the Upper Old City

If you’re looking to go somewhere that feels worlds away, but don’t want to spend that type of money, Old Quebec and the surrounding areas are totally for you. Hotels are gorgeous, cheaper and most offer package deals (ours did, that’s how we got into that fancy restaurant and at a 5-course dinner FOR FREE)! Take the leap! Go to Quebec City! The people are wonderful, the food will make you gain at least 5 pounds, and the views are simply breathtaking. Enjoy some pictures of that lovely scenery below, courtesy of my wonderful husband!


Until next time!

Tori xo


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From the Apple to the Orchard

Once upon a time, I grew up in the best state ever. (Me? Biased? Nah..) New Jersey was probably the best place to grow up because it was both fast-paced, and slow at the same time. Living there most likely instilled in me the “never stop” lifestyle that I still have today. I have a seriously difficult time just spending a day at home, even though in theory that would be a good thing.

Close your eyes and picture horns honking, vendors yelling in at least 4 different languages, the distinct smells of street food, sweat, and determination. Then imagine being slightly, but firmly pushed through a crowd of people heading down dirty concrete steps to an already jam-packed subway.  Power walking was the norm, having to get everywhere quickly and on time…it was intense and that intensity was seemingly never-ending. But then if you took the time to really look around, right there in front of you was the softer side of the city, something most tourists never saw because they were so swept up in the city that never sleeps. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, people taking long walks with their dogs, and families picnicking in Central Park. Bike rides through smaller, local streets, hole in the wall pizza places where the owners knew your name (S/O to Champion Pizza! You made my childhood delicious! Best pizza in NYC guys. No joke), you get the idea.

So, growing up my dad and I used to subway into the city, oh gosh, on most weekends just for fun. But in 1999, everything changed. My dad got into a horrible car accident. The hospitals in NJ near us couldn’t help him, so he was brought to Virginia for medical attention. My mom and I followed. After months of back and forth, my mom ended up accepting a job offer in Richmond, Virginia so we could stay for my dad. I honestly don’t know if it was ever their intention to stay in Virginia, but that’s what ended up happening. We left New Jersey and never looked back. Well, I think I was the only one to look back. I missed it. That fast-paced feeling, and then that relaxing feeling of coming home after a whole day of that rush…nothing compares to it. In Virginia, everything is slower, calmer, and most people are content with staying at home or just moving throughout their day in a more relaxed way. I felt like a fish out of water. I felt that I shouldn’t have these massive urges to “get out of the house” as my dad used to say. But I still have them. And you know what? I don’t think that will ever stop.

Time travel to 2015 (sorry I’m a nerd), when I left my home in Richmond to move to Charlottesville, VA. I quickly fell in love with it. It’s faster paced then Richmond, but still has that laid-back feel underneath the rush. Its home to the gorgeous University of Virginia (Go Hoos!), and its nestled super close to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway! The small college town feel was so perfect for me. And the fact that I live so close to the mountains, meant I could indulge my love of hiking all while living in a small city! Perfect!

So I went from the Big Apple to a place filled with Orchards. Don’t get me wrong! I love Charlottesville with its rolling hills and beautiful mountains! It’s quaint, and the people are wonderful. But it really isn’t the same as my favorite concrete jungle. I think a part of my heart will always belong to that bustling city and especially to New Jersey. You can take the Jersey girl out of Jersey, but she will always be a Jersey girl. What can I say? It’s in my blood.

Growing Up Dominican

Hello, hello!
This is the first of a SERIES! Yay! So stay tuned 😉
If you haven’t clicked on over to the “About Me” section of my blog, then you may have missed that I am half Dominican! My dad immigrated to the United States when he was only 18 and never looked back. I like to think through him I have a strong connection to the Dominican people and its beautiful culture. Growing up in a Dominican influenced household held a lot of different traditions compared to the average American household. So there were tons of things that I thought were “normal” but found out the hard way that they were NOT. On top of that, I realized I hadn’t done many of the actual normal things. For example:

  • I never tried a s’more until I was well into my 20’s.
  • Breakfast ALWAYS included rice and beans (Actually that was EVERY meal).
  • You do NOT in fact vigorously hug and kiss both cheeks of a person you are meeting for the first time (They never spoke to me again).
  • Loud salsa, merengue, and especially bachata music during all hours in the home.
  • Evidently, not all weddings are wild multiple day occasions. (Still bummed about that one)
  • Flip-flops were never called “flip-flops”; the term you are looking for is “chanclas”.
  • I still have not tried french toast.
  • Family is #1. You have no other priorities. (No, really. None.)
  • Oregano is in everything and it IS everything.
  • We can all cook. Very well. (At least in my family??)
  • Coquito at EVERY Thanksgiving and Christmas gathering. (Will link a recipe for you to try this life-altering drink. If you’re of age that is!)
  • Every family reunion turned into a massive dance party (Noticing a theme?).
  • Pointing to literally everything with your chin.
  • We have the ability to recognize another Dominican from 7,900 miles away. No joke. (AND we hug each other vigorously!)
  • My dad still looks like he is 30…I won’t say how old he is, but it is WAY over 30. He hasn’t aged. Seriously concerned he is an alien. This is normal. Help.

You get the idea. We’re insane, love loud music, dancing, and being very over the top in the best way possible! We know how to have a good time. Growing up in this environment taught me to be a MAJOR extrovert and really embrace life passionately.
I grew up in Paterson, NJ in an amazingly awesome neighborhood. It is sadly rundown, and I wouldn’t advise going there now, but man. It was awesome. We had an adorable tiny house, where I, like Mr. Harry Potter himself, slept in a closet! (Don’t worry, it was a HUGE closet and I loved it!) I was born in 1993, (90’s baby, yeah!!!) so everyone was still friendly and helpful with no suspicions or stigmas attached. It was such a diverse place! So many different peoples, religions, and traditions. I could safely ride my bike throughout the entire neighborhood (and into a brick wall, a story for another time) with no fears of being snatched up or anything like that. I was lucky enough to live only a couple blocks away from two great buddies of mine (S/O to Samantha and Stephen! Love you both!) and we would do the dumbest things together! It was fabulous. Oh, how I wish I could raise my future children in that same environment! It was so peaceful, and simple. Safe and nurturing. Growing up there, I never noticed skin color or any other racial differences. People were people, and that was all that mattered.
One lesson my dad always taught me (by this I mean at least a minimum of twice a week) that a smile was the best greeting and to “always walk with your head held high”! Be proud of who you are and where you come from. I carry those words with me daily, and boy are they ever relevant today. No matter where you’re from, be PROUD! You are bringing something to this wonderful melting pot of a nation! You are bringing you and your super cool/ new traditions and culture! Always walk with your head held high and smile. You are amazing and I would so love to hear each and every one of your stories.
While all this is coming from the blissful memories of a 4 to 5 year old girl, the principle still remains: People are people. No one is lesser or greater, and the diversity in this nation is a beautiful sight to behold. I think more people need to remember that everyone has a story worth sharing and to be proud of their own stories. Those are a few lessons I learned growing up Dominican. We are a community. Everyone matters. When it comes down to it, we are all the same. Love people (hug them vigorously if you feel so led), and respect them. It’s what people will remember about you: if you love them, and respect them.

Hasta Luego friends,