Summer Views, New Views

It’s the start of a new season, and the weather isn’t the only thing changing around here. Summer of 2015 was one for the books, with the best balance of family time, getting together with friends, patios and mom walks, plus a new love for chilled white wine. Hopefully these continue into the fall! Coincidentally, the end of the summer coincided with the end of yet another professional chapter in my life. Turns out, I am not one of those people who falls into their “forever” job right after college. Kudos to those who do!

I’m now into my third week of a new job description, industry and routine – the biggest adjustments being transferring from a 50-person office to one where I’m one of three staff (including the intern!), and no more jeans allowed. But, I’m already getting the hang of leveling up my wardrobe, and turning up my music when no one else is in the office. It’s already clear this was a good move for me. I didn’t expect to be on my third “big girl job” a little more than three years after college graduation, but better to figure out what I want to be when I grow up sooner than later, right? Career advice to my 22-year-old self: trust your gut, but sometimes make sacrifices on your way up the professional ladder.

That was deep. Besides my new career view, a few favorite views from the summer:

Trip to Greece I have summed up our 10-day #sistertrip at the beginning of the month this way: picturesque and exhausting. It was a tricky itinerary to put together, being that Greece has approximately 4,000 islands, but I think we did it right splitting our time between Athens, Crete and Santorini. It was oftentimes a “planes, trains and automobiles” show while lugging our backpacks in the 90+ degree heat, but there was just too much to see to stay put. Everything’s like a postcard! You really have to see it with your own eyes…

thedailyharmony_pyrgosthedailyharmony_parthenon thedailyharmony_chaniaBesides the “how was it?” question, I’ve also been asked if there were any signs of the economic crisis. Beforehand, we were warned that ATMs may not work, but never found that to be the case. Smaller bills are appreciated, however. Greece is definitely running on tourism, so in Crete and Santorini the money was freely flowing from visitors from literally all over the world. Unrelated to Greece’s status, though, were the many refugees camping out in a small square near where we stayed in Athens. At the time, fresh off the plane, we didn’t realize these were Syrian immigrants who have made their way across the sea on the ferry to escape the situation there. Now that this topic has finally hit mass media in the U.S., it is a bit surreal (and, ignorant of myself) to have witnessed this with my own eyes and chalked it up to a sketchy area of town. It was an unexpected lesson of the trip. 

 Tree Farm Sleepover I have stayed close with a group of former coworkers, and a highlight of the summer was having a good old fashioned sleepover at a farmhouse outside of Madison (long story… but it’s not sketchy!). Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city and actually be able to see the stars, and hang out at townie bars. #dreamteam
 Fourth of July Festivities While I will always prefer to celebrate Fourth of July in Virginia Beach, this year gave it a run for its money. A friend’s parents were generous enough to let 40+ 20-somethings flop in their yard and basement for the day and into the evening while celebrating America’s birthday. Complete with flip cup down the pier into Lake Winnebago. #Merica 
 Graduation in Syracuse Not mine. Big sister Annie graduated with her Master’s degree in June. I had not heard great things about the area from others, but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved our day trip up to the Canadian border to the Thousand Islands area and a big castle that is really just a cool mansion. I am waiting for the day a question about where this salad dressing comes from is on Jeopardy. 

 Misc. Moments – See you soon, summer 2016. At the rate life is flying it won’t be long…

Tri-Continental Friendship – Part Two // My Happy Place


The next time I’m in the dentist’s chair, Savasana or turbulence, I’ll think of Happy Panda campground. Really, how could a place with such a name not be wonderful? This is really saying a lot, because I am not much of a camper since having a bad experience – or the Worst Night of My Life – on a summer camp canoe trip once. I was a little skeptical when Morgan and Christie told us we’d be camping for two nights near the end of our Taiwan trip, but they promised bathrooms and a beachfront bar, so I decided to go with the flow. Located on pretty much the southern-most point of Taiwan, it’s sure not easy to get to, but that’s fine with me.


After equipping ourselves with International Drivers Licenses back in Wisconsin, the country somehow equipped us with a toy car for about $25 per person for three days. Behind the camera of the above photo is “Joseph,” (side note: Taiwanese love to give themselves American names, including Apple or Candy) the Taiwanese car rental man who probably walked away wondering what shape the vehicle would be in when he saw it again. You can be sure we named said toy car Joseph, in honor of our confident rental car salesman. Not to worry though, the only nerve-wracking part of the drive to Happy Panda is the stop-and-go and weaving traffic out of the city, otherwise it’s freeway the 5 hours south to Kenting.


Immediately after crossing the Tropic of Cancer about halfway down the country, the gray smog that constantly surrounds the Taipei metro lifts, and palm trees appear. We were in for a vacation from our vacation. After a quick stop at 7-11 for ice cream treats, you’ll arrive at Happy Panda (finally!) and realize it’s not a campground at all. Complete with electricity, it is the cheapest way to sleep footsteps from the beach, with all amenities you could ever want (granted it’s perfect weather- which it was).

Here’s what Happy Panda has to offer four Americans trying to vacation on the cheap:

  • Food court and bars, including one that is reggae-themed
  • Sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows and more for rent
  • Restrooms and showers
  • Trees with built-in electrical outlets for happy Smartphone charging
  • Brick slabs (of various sizes) to place your happy tent, or larger fortress as other campers did
  • Beach access with umbrellas and chairs for rent, to place your happy butt for hours on end
  • Free stares and confusion from mainland Chinese tourists
  • Wi-Fi
  • Photo opportunities with “Life of Pi” shrine – portions of the movie were filmed here!

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As if these amenities aren’t enough, there is a continual chaos surrounding Happy Panda for portions of the afternoon that are sure to provide entertainment. Apparently, Happy Panda is one important sight on the many daily bus tours that travel around southern Taiwan carrying mainland Chinese and Taiwanese tourists. However, these tourists aren’t visiting the sea to swim or sunbathe. They exit the bus, make their way down the path from the parking lot to the beach, and take as many photos as possible until the bus leaves again in approximately 20 minutes. Some brave souls may roll up their pants to dip toes in the water, but generally the rule is to stand on the shore fully-clothed and get to photographing.

There are a few noticeable trends when it comes to poses:

  1. Scarf Moment – hold the longest scarf you have by each end, find the direction of the wind and let it fly free. IMG_1731 IMG_1777
  2. Rock Perch – Perch your happy self on the rocks with a friend. Don’t let the American tourists catch you.

1454728_2584258123450_2978593957775431839_n3. And lastly, the Hat Dance – gather your friends (and your hats) and form synchronized poses. Maybe even jump if you’re feeling sassy.


Obviously, these tourists are way more advanced than the selfie stick.


Finally, if a full day of swimming, floating. and running on hot sand between food court and beach aren’t enough, you’re bound to meet some interesting characters when camping in such close quarters to the tent next door.

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It started out innocently enough on our second evening. One of our neighbors charmed himself into a picture (who wouldn’t want to?) with us while attempting to ask WHAT we were doing at Happy Panda. We knew it wouldn’t be the last we saw of the infamous “Miguel,” whose favorite English word is WOW! on repeat (so, his real name is Cheng, we think, but if he had an Americanized name it would for sure be Miguel).


The night that followed involved some Tequila shots, a case or two(?) of Taiwan beer, four Americans and many more “aboriginal” Taiwanese chatting in broken English (and zero Mandarin) around a picnic table long into the night. At some point, a Scottish woman who has lived in the area for decades stopped by to serve as translator. I can’t remember exactly what was discussed, or why we laughed so hard, but I know that night could not be replicated again if we tried. You just never know who you’re going to meet when you travel to the other side of the world, and to a place that’s not included in the guidebooks. For those who have never traveled outside their comfort zones, by choice or not, these spontaneous encounters are the travel  moments that you remember.

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The morning, and drive back to Taipei, that followed may have been a little rough – GIVE ME ALL THE WATER – but you can be sure three Happy Pandas (one was sleeping the whole way) said “WOW” all the way home. Joseph was relieved to see us.

After seeing photos of the damage caused by the hurricane that hit Taiwan a couple days ago, I couldn’t help but wonder how my happy place fared. I hope all is well, because when I close my eyes it is perfect.

Tri-Continental Friendship – Part One

In 2010, surrounded by a busload of obnoxious college students travelling between Madrid and Portugal, a fellow Midwesterner and I formed a bond. Friendships come about in many ways, but for Morgan and me, all it took was a few too many Caipirinhas in a foreign country to solidify a friendship and make mistakes memories we still talk about 5 years later.


Our study abroad adventures ended at different points within the next year, and Morgan became my long-distance girlfriend of sorts back in the states – each of us making many trips between UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison for a few too many drinks and the stories that come with them. After graduation, the stars aligned and she moved into the vacant bedroom in my Milwaukee college apartment. Morgan also brought a couple characters with her to the Brew City, girls who she’d studied with in Madrid. Alexandra and Christie moved into a duplex across the street, and we immediately appreciated their large porch, and washer and dryer.



It didn’t take long for me to mesh with A & C, and settle into a new group dynamic. Turns out, four freshly-graduated Midwestern girls who share an interest in travel, Spanish, and cheap wine become fast friends. We quickly dubbed ourselves the Murray Mistresses, navigating the awkward post-graduation chapter of life together – through the hours of porch sitting, unbearable jobs, epic house parties, online dates and mental breakdowns (believe me, there were many occurrences of each).



We look back on the two years we lived within a stones throw of each other and say, “those were the good ole days.” When you live across the street from your best friends, there’s no need for cell phones – a light on in the living room is an open invitation to let yourself in. It was kind of like the college dorms, except with people you actually like. Having not created such lasting friendships during college, I knew this was special and soaked it up. It’s the rare type of friendship where each personality in the group complements the others perfectly. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


Now we fast-forward to the summer of 2014. Morgan and Christie’s travel bugs bite again, and our foursome is split in half between Milwaukee and Taipei, Taiwan. Smartphones, Skype and Snapchat are necessary to connect the illiterate but functional crew in Asia to the Smallwaukee gossip.

To be continued…

What I Learned the Past Month (okay, two)

I read once that you should never apologize for taking an absence from your blog. So, here I am, unapologetic and definitely not apologizing.

To be honest, nothing too grand has happened the past couple months. They definitely haven’t been boring, though! Like I say every month, I can’t believe we’re almost on to the next. Big things are ahead for me in May! But until it’s here, let’s recap some March and April learnings. And by the way, TGIS. Thank God it’s Spring.

Small towns are doing just fine without Uber or Lyft – and taxi cabs for that matter. Drive-by marketing at its best. 


A two-day professional development conference that comes with silly putty, A+ snacks and a sparkling water fountain blows all others out of the water. Even better, I learned and retained some things during these two days. Michael Smart knows his stuff.

 Chicago_Summit Executive Centre_thedailyharmonymaritkatie_thedailyharmony

Stealing another’s adorable tiny puppy is wrong. I didn’t do it, but I still want it. 


My Jawbone (when I remember to charge it) is loving the warmer weather, and weekly mom walks by the lake that get me to 10,000 steps a day more frequently. My personal trainer I love to hate applauds the extra exercise, too. 


A weekend spent with your college roommate brings back some wonderful, and some shameful memories, while also serving as a reminder that we just can’t party like we used to. We can still drink Bloody Marys like pros, though! #lifelongskills



Everything’s bigger in Texas Atlanta, especially the things of the red wine variety. And never ending trade shows. 


This is the only pineapple mango salsa recipe you need to consider for upcoming Cinco de Mayo festivities. Maybe eaten on top of some tacos, or maybe eaten by the spoonful. 


So there you have it. Now onto the next month and the useful and useless knowledge that awaits me while reuniting this with this foursome, halfway across the world.


Foodie Friends

How does that saying go? If you didn’t post it, you didn’t eat it?

There’s that too. I am making my way through Friends on Netflix and the episodes are just as good the 20th time around. This one is a definite fave:

Back in the day, thanks to enabling sisters, i was as poor of a chef as Rachel. Like, couldn’t even make scrambled eggs. It was that bad. It wasn’t until senior year of college that I actually started to try more advanced recipes, and my taste buds have been thanking me ever since. The hardest part of cooking is just making sure every element cooks evenly at finishes at the same amount of time. Once you’ve mastered that, there are no excuses.

Anyways, my phone’s photo album is feeling full from all of the delicious homemade food it has captured the past couple months. Click through for the recipes where applicable!

Tex Mex Casserole


So I believe the actual name of this was Crowd Pleasing Tex Mex Casserole (credit goes to the Oh She Glows cookbook), but in Minnesota we would call that right there a textbook “hot dish.” I served this when I had weekly girls dinner at my apartment about a month ago and it sure did please. Any recipe that calls for crushed up tortilla chips on top is fine by me! This wasn’t a difficult recipe but there was a lot of preparation and chopping involved so it took a little longer than promised.


Valentines Day Brunch <3


French toast made by him and smoothie made by her on valentines day morning, followed by hours of mindless Netflix and TV. I believe the smoothie had vanilla greek yogurt, kale, blueberries, banana, OJ, ice. And of course, it was made with love :)

Breakfast 4 Dinner


I never make pancakes for myself so I loooved this dinner at Meghan’s the other night. Complete with mimosas, obviously. And gluten-free! Obviously.

White Chicken Chili

How Sweet Eats chili _ thedailyharmony

Food moment courtesy of the super hilarious How Sweet Eats blog. This winter I have tried to make a soup or chili every Sunday so I don’t have to worry about lunches during the week. Did you know a cup of soup is insanely expensive these days? Around $4 for a small-ish cup. No thank you to that, yes please to the above and  to all the extra change I can now dedicate to a tropical vacation where there is no need for soup.



Muffins are so fun and cute, aren’t they? I made these in the beginning of January and they were gone within a week. I believe it was this recipe. Make sure to add your own chocolate chips and make them even more fun. Almond flour is expensive but I stock up at Trader Joe’s when I’m there.


My first (or maybe second?) time making enchiladas from scratch was a great success. This was time consuming, so I do understand why people buy enchilada sauce from the can. The homemade version is just so much better, though! We used this recipe here, and the only substitution was a red pepper instead of an onion. I’d say our version turned out just like the food blogger version!


So there you have it, people. A few notable meals from 2015. My phone feels so much better now! My next post may be fitness-focused to balance out all of the above cheese.

Making Me Happy This Week v9

How are we well into mid-January already? Shouldn’t I have won the lottery by now? Since I won’t count on that anytime soon (I should start buying lotto tickets first), I should just be happy to have survived another winter Monday. After that devastating Packers lost yesterday, I think the entire state could use a reminder that there are things to be happy about. In the meantime, here’s my current list:


The other weekend I had a big, big night: I stayed awake until 2 a.m. After leaving my work holiday party (shout-out to the Iron Horse Hotel and its room with the American flag leather couch) a nod to nearby Caroline’s and a “we should try that place some time” turned into: “uhhh… guys, why don’t we just go now?”ironhorsehotelcouch_thedailyharmony

Never would I ever have gone into this divey-looking corner joint on my own – I’d never even heard of it. Turns out, Caroline’s is a dark speakeasy-type place with low ceilings, live jazz and people who know it’s a well-kept secret. Loved the live jazz (you go, guy with the trombone), the people watching (is this a gay bar?) and my Old Fashioned (always). Final verdict: worth the $5 cover.Carolines_trio_thedailyharmony


My best girlfriends from high school and I don’t text often, unfortunately, but when I get a message out of the blue I know it must be important. This was most definitely the case on Friday when I got a message from Sophie, no explanation needed.


Don’t you understand!? This is Sophie (left) outside her office in San Francisco with MY BLOG CRUSH – Julia Engel a.k.a. Gal Meets Glam (right). Seriously, I want her life and her wardrobe. I told Sophie about GMG more than a year ago when she moved to SF, and told her to ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Well, it finally happened. Besides not being at work on a Friday at 3 p.m., this is probably the best thing that could happen at work on a Friday at 3 p.m. right after losing your parking pass. Oh and then Julia waved at us and just loved us like I knew she would. NBD. @GalMeetsGlamTweet_thedailyharmony



You know it’s going to be a good Saturday when your only plans are to make enchiladas and watch Bridesmaids. Did you know that it’s nearly impossible to find an enchilada recipe without onions? I do. But, simple fix, replace the onion with a bell pepper and it’s all alright. This one is a good one!  The homemade sauce is enchiladasbeforeafter_thedailyharmonyEnchiladas_thedailyharmony



I don’t know what’s happened to me but I really, really hate shopping for clothes lately. Aunt D. gifted me Stitch Fix bucks for Christmas and I got my box last week. I really liked 3/5 items (all of the pieces that didn’t make me look preggers) but I ended up only keeping the long-sleeve blouse in the lower right. My next fix comes next week so FINGERS CROSSED that I can put off going the mall for a bit longer. Life really is all about having little things to look forward to, and being selectively lazy.


To all of the paralyzed Packer fans out there, there’s always next year, and I hope by next Monday you can find even a few things making you happy.

Paris Tribute

Each day since returning from Paris a week and a half ago, I’ve thought to myself – “I should really write that recap blog post before I forget all the wonderful, delicious details of the trip.”  Yesterday morning I awoke to the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, and I can’t help feeling more affected than those around me as I see on the news the monuments and streets we walked by so recently. Here’s my own tribute to the city of lights, freedom of speech and the 12 innocent lives taken. 

Paris by numbers

Twelve – The number of croissants shared between family members over eight days. Okay, maybe it was more. If not 12 croissants, we definitely consumed 12 sticks of butter each and every bite was worth it. My favorite of all was the almond croissant pictured here on the left. The chocolate one wasn’t terrible either. Yep, we are tourists who stop on the side of a busy street to take pictures of baked goods. Sometimes we were polite enough to find a side street.


Eleven – The number of times Big T referred to Rick Steves’ 2012 Paris travel book on any given day (except he would actually call him Steve Ricks). We are certain a man crush formed, and was solidified, on this trip. To his credit, Mr. Steve Rick’s travel tips never let us down!


Ten – Minutes to walk from our apartment in Le Marais to the Notre Dame. We are not Catholic, but figured why not try to get a seat at one of the Christmas Eve services. We did, and were handed the wrong program! Fortunately the Notre Dame has flat screen televisions throughout.


Nine – Attempts at a family photo with Lani’s new selfie stick before capturing the perfect shot. I love this picture 1) because it looks like all we’re having for Christmas dinner is wine and a big plate of meat, and 2) because it perfectly captures evenings in our amazing rented apartment. After exhausting days of walking and exploring we always enjoyed a low-key meal together at “home” before crashing.


Eight – Vendor stops at the market to build the perfect meal.

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Seven – Amazing lunches eaten around the city – really, no complaints! Since we had use of a kitchen, we decided to eat lunches while out and about and dinner in rather than eating two huge meals each day. To me, these photos show there isn’t really such a thing as “French” cuisine. The choices are so diverse, and we had everything from Middle Eastern and African to Asian. Also, bread… always bread.

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Six – Hours spent touring Versailles (and we didn’t even see it all). We had to choose between a day at Versailles and a day at the Louvre, and I’m glad we made the trip outside the city. Didn’t expect to see farm animals there, but what Marie Antoinette wants, King Louie provides. Let the pictures – and crowds – do the talking. It’s a popular place, for good reason, and I can’t imagine how packed it is in the spring and summer.


Five – Stockings hung by the chimney with care (well, four stockings and one black sock). This was the first Christmas we have spent away from home since I don’t even know when. We did our best to recreate traditions.


Four – Varieties of hot wine consumed while wandering around the city. I know it’s is a popular drink over the holidays in Europe, but part of me wants to pretend Parisians have the luxury to enjoy red wine from street vendors at all times of the year.


Three – Thanks to my new Jawbone, <#nerdalert> I diligently kept track of our steps and figured we walked three times as many steps per day than I usually get in at home. The fewest we got in a day – the day we arrived – about 13,000. The most: around 20,000 on Versailles day (about 10 miles). Keep in mind the recommended amount per day is 10,000 and I have trouble getting to 5,000 on most winter weekdays. If there was a crepe stand down the street from my office, maybe I would be more motivated, but not when it is currently -30 windchill.


Two – Of course no trip to Paris is complete without TWO up-close visits to the Eiffel Tower – one drive-by and another at night. The lines for entry to the top are long, so standing at the bottom (with hot wine, of course) was fine with us. I’d always pictured it to be more fragile, but up close you see it is not going anywhere.


One – Family of five reunited after many, many months apart. It’s amazing how quickly we got used to each other again, but it’s also no surprise. As always, travel makes me grateful I have the means to see the world, take in history and appreciate other cultures. When I win the lottery, I’m booking a trip to everywhere. Besides Rick Steves, who’s coming with me?


Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

A Lesson in Gratitude

You know that feeling when you spot your suitcase at baggage claim? Is it relief, thanks, gratitude? A combination?

Big T volunteered to say grace before Thanksgiving dinner this year. The gist of it: let’s be thankful that the struggles we face are privileged, first world problems. There’s always someone who has it worse, and for that we should be grateful.

Fast forward to Saturday evening. The 48-hour food baby was finally subsiding, and I was feeling full from a weekend with family and close friends as I stepped off the plane in Milwaukee at 5:15. I was ready to be home and thankful for the barely 1-hour flight that brought me back instead of the nearly 6-hour drive. As I waited for my suitcase at baggage claim, scrolling through my phone, an elderly woman approached me asking if she could make a call. Her flip phone had just died and she needed to let her ride know she was ready to be picked up. Of course she could.

We chatted briefly afterwards while bags finally started rolling around the carousel (brand new carousel I should mention; thanks, General Mitchell). I spotted my silver roller come down the ramp from afar as we chatted (relief! thanks! gratitude!), and began to wrap up our polite conversation about the Packers versus Vikings, Badgers versus Gophers. After a couple minutes, my bag had yet to come around to meet my spot. I knew I saw it… I thought I saw it.

We said goodbye and I walked around the dumb, new carousel as it came to the dreaded halt. No bag in sight – fresh passengers began to approach. A silver roller that looked somewhat similar to mine, but not identical in the least, was left among the sparse other stragglers. The next flight began to unload. Great. 

While I explained the situation to baggage services, frustration growing as time ticked on, they agreed with my suspicion that the passenger whose silver roller was left (it doesn’t even look like mine!) was likely headed home – 35 miles away – with mine instead. Messages were left. No answer. Seriously annoyed at the carelessness of some idiot that did not recognize his or her luggage, (you don’t even deserve to fly!) I requested the bag be delivered to my door step as soon as possible because I was not going to pick it up later. Mind you, I had no plans for the rest of the evening or Sunday.

As I headed home, my Uber driver didn’t help the situation:

“No luggage, Miss?”


Needless to say, he caught on to my vibe real quick and didn’t attempt to make any more small talk for the 20-minute ride.

At home, like clockwork, the airline called to confirm the passenger had finally returned the voicemails, and yes – he had mistakenly picked up my bag.

“This is no excuse,” she said, “But it is an elderly couple so it might take them awhile to get back here. Hopefully it is before the last delivery driver leaves for the night.”

So let’s get this straight. I do a good deed in letting an old lady use my phone, meanwhile I take my eyes off the prize to chat about football and TWO old people takes my bag hostage with them to rural Wisconsin? WHY ME! Poor me! Life sucks!

When I finally got the call that the delivery driver was on his way at 9:15, I had finally calmed down. When I finally had my bag in hand, I awoke from the laughable dream that had cost me an extra 45 minutes at the airport, a couple phone calls and nothing more. Nothing. More.

Unzipping my suitcase to unpack my nice clothes (mostly unworn, since I have the luxury to over pack), designer purse, expensive makeup, etc., a note was laid on top, along with a $20 bill.

“I am sorry that my carelessness caused you worry and delay and inconvenience. Maybe you can enjoy a bottle of wine or some other treat on me.” 

Interesting. Who’s the jerk now? Had I made this mistake, would I have owned up to it in such a way? I thought back to Big T’s blessing. Right after Thanksgiving, how could I have overreacted to such a measly issue instead of shaking it off? Thank you, Mr. Park, for gifting me some gratitude that will stick with me, long after the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.


When I Grow Up

Twas the night before Halloween – with snow in the forecast – and no costume yet for Saturday’s party. What I do have is a pretty great trip (with cringes) down memory lane of costumes past. As much as I winced looking back in my personal photo stream, it’s proof that Facebook is still good for something. Ah, memories.


“I’m a cat. Duh.” (2007)


I wonder if the more innocent Sharpie marker costume would have gone over well. (2011)


Playas Gon’ Play. <—What a great throwback song. I really should have been a 3LW singer that year. There are other photos from this weekend in Madison I would looo-ooove to set on fire. (2008)


We really knew what was up in high school. Comfort? Check. Warmth? Check. Complete body coverage? Check. Sadly the stuffed bear was lost later that night. RIP, stuffed bear. (2007?)


Halloween in Madrid, where they go all out with the fake blood, ghosts, vampires and dead people costumes. Us foreigners clearly threw these together 5 seconds before hittin’ el club. (2010)


Let’s see, this is sophomore year of college and another Halloween spent in Madison. I learned my lesson from the previous year about warmth and comfort, but didn’t get the memo about not wearing a lame costume. Wait.. did any of us? (2009)


Apparently two costumes were necessary for senior year of college. I must say this was my favorite costume from a creativity standpoint, least favorite because people took advantage of my leash and tied me to things when I wasn’t looking. (2011)


I’m a princess and these are my loyal minions. Nothing more to say about it. (2012)


To wrap up this walk down memory lane, an appearance from Sandy and Carmen San Diego. I wonder if we found what we were looking for? (2013)

No matter how much I cringe, it’s refreshing to look back on bad outfits, the freshman-15 and poor decisions knowing I’m (hopefully) a little wiser today. When these photos were taken, whether in 2007 or 2013, I had no idea what was to come the following year or how its unknown events would shape me. Today, each of these photos spur a domino effect of memories. While it’s hard to believe that was me in some of these photos, it’s easy to laugh after the fact. Through the excessive makeup, one too many jello shots, and the losing touch with people I care deeply about, every day – not just Halloween – is a chance to decide what we want to be and go for it with no regrets. Hopefully while wearing a dress that covers our behinds.