Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Georgia Aquarium

Since we moved to Georgia, our life has centered around putting our new house together and dealing with our dog issues.  That hasn't really left a lot of time for us to explore our new city. However, on February 1, I officially turned 40 years old (gasp)!  I had been dying to check out the Georgia Aquarium for years, and this seemed like the perfect day to take off of work and go for a visit.  Plus, admission is free on your birthday, which was an offer I couldn't refuse.

I had been hearing how amazing this place is for years, and it did not disappoint.  It is the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere.  We easily spent the day there, checking everything out.  

When we walked in, we entered a large room full of color and light.  The space was divided into five specific galleries, which surrounded this central room.  There was also a cafeteria and a gift shop. 

There was no specific order that the aquarium should be viewed in.  We happened to get there about fifteen minutes before the dolphin show was going to start, so that was our first stop.  

As you are walking in to the Dolphin Tales gallery, there is a huge tank where you can watch the dolphins playing.  Beyond the tank is a big theater where you can watch a half hour dolphin show.  No photography was allowed (and was strictly enforced), but it is definitely worth catching if you are there during showtime.

Tropical Diver was the second gallery we explored.

Garden eels, poking up from their homes in the sand.
I am pretty sure these cuttlefish were posing for me
A graceful sea nettle
I love watching the jellyfish glide around their tanks
A clown fish in an anemone
A harlequin snake eel, which is very cool from behind the glass. 
The next gallery (and probably the most popular) was Ocean Voyager.  This is the only place in North America that has whale sharks.  There is even a live webcam, if you want to check them out from the comfort of your living room.

A sawfish
It is hard to tell form this picture, but the manta rays are huge
Trying to give a little perspective on the size of the whale shark.
An alternate view of a whale shark swimming by.
The fourth gallery was Cold Water Quest.  This was where most of the mammals hang out.

We got to watch a sea otter feeding
We were also on time for the penguin feeding
The beluga whales were spectacular and very playful.
The fifth gallery was River Scout.

The piranhas were easily my favorite thing in this gallery.  There were a little bit creepy (I have probably seen way too many horror movies).
I wasn't too keen on the electric eel either, but I can appreciate him from behind the glass.
There was an additional exhibit called Aquanaut Adventure, which was geared towards kids.  However, that is where these guys were hanging out.

During our time at the aquarium, we made friends with a docent who told us about the All-Access Backstage Pass.  For an extra $15, you can take a behind the scenes tour, and see the inner-working of the aquarium.  If you visit, I highly recommend doing this.

This is the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit
We got very close to the whale shark feeding
We got to watch some training for the new seal exhibit that is coming in March...
...And see the beluga whales from another perspective
The seals and beluga whales are kept in the same tank until the exhibit opens.  They can also be found together in nature.
This is the filtration system for the Tropical Diver exhibit
There is a wave machine that generates waves to keep the water in Tropical Diver oxygenated.  This is what it looks like from within the exhibit (you can also watch it on the aquarium webcam).  
On the tour, you get to see how the wave is created.
To wrap up, a little information on how much food it takes to keep this aquarium going.

I have a feeling this will be a place we visit many more times over the years.  There are additional tours that you can take for extra money that involve one on one encounters with penguins and sea otters, which are two items most definitely on my bucket list.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Recent Reads: Some John Green, A Little Smut, and Two Mysteries


It occurred to me recently that I hadn't done any updates on what I had been reading for the second half of 2015.  I also decided that it was time to try a new format for doing my book reviews, where you can click on the book above to find it on Amazon and get a brief synopsis.  It is also one of my first stabs at using affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you buy any of them using my link.

Over the summer, I tackled the After series, after Kristina from Pretty, Shiny, Sparkly recommended it on one of her vlogs.  These books are racy and graphic and a bit Fifty Shades of Greyish, however with much better writing and more interesting characters.  I normally get bored when I read a series by the time I get around to the third book, but I listened to the four of these straight through.  The writing was engaging enough to keep me wanting to know what happened next.  

My husband and I (and technically our three dogs) listened to Don't Look Back on our cross-country road trip out to Atlanta.  It was a pretty engrossing "who is this guy really" kind of mystery.  I listened to Reconstructing Amelia on my daily work commute.  There is a mystery surrounding the circumstances of fifteen year old Amelia's death.  Her mother has to put the pieces of the past together to determine if her daughter committed suicide or if her death was something more sinister.  I wasn't expecting the ending at all.  

Finally, I listened to the two John Green's novels on plane trips across the country.  The Fault In Our Stars is still my favorite book of his, but these were both fun reads.  John Green has a way of writing teenagers that get you emotionally invested in their lives.  I don't know how he does it, but the man can tell a good story.

Have you read any good books lately?  I am always looking for new books to add to my list.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My First Stitch Fix

Fashion blogging is hard.  I never really knew how hard until I had to take these pictures.  I tried posing in a few different mirrors around the house with two different cameras and my iPhone.  I finally settled into a spot and it started pouring rain, so I had virtually no natural light.  I think there is definitely a learning curve here that I need to climb.  Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, here is what I received in my first shipment.  For details on how this service works, please read through to the end of the post.  

Lisbon Stud Detail Blouse by 41Hawthorn ($58):  I was not immediately crazy about the print of the blouse, although I did like the cut.  One of the main reasons I wanted to try Stitch Fix is to get a little bit out of my clothing comfort zone and try something I wouldn't naturally gravitate to.  Of course, I had to try this on first.

Brittany, my stylist, suggested that I try it with jeans, for a put together casual look.  I also pulled a pair of booties out of my closet to create a look as I would wear it for running errands.

Here is a closer detail shot of the print and the gold studs that line the neck and sleeves.   I definitely would have preferred this shirt in a solid color.

I also tried to wear the blouse the way I would if I was going into the office, so I put on my favorite Sloan pants by Banana Republic, a long cardigan, and some knee-high black boots.  I liked that the addition of the cardi made the print a little less loud.  It is a bit hard to tell, but the base color of the shirt is navy blue.  I haven't tried this color combination before, but I think it worked well with the black (although I am pretty sure I am breaking some color matching rule here).

The cardigan that I chose from my closet has the same gold stud detail as the top sewn into the fabric along the edge.

Jarred Lace Detail Cap-Sleeve Blouse by Brixton Ivy ($68):  I LOVED THIS TOP IMMEDIATELY!!  The drapey fit was perfect, and I adored the lace detailing around the neckline and sleeves.  I had pinned quite a few lacy tops to my Pinterest board, and my stylist definitely used that as a point of reference.  This is a great option for my business-casual office.

Since I already had my favorite work pants on, I first tried an all black look.

Emer Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M ($98):  I had also pinned some printed pants to my Pinterest board, and Brittney took notice.  She suggested I try these on with the lace top for an easy to wear work outfit.  I added some black wedges for a spring/summer office look.  These pants are somewhere between leggings and actual pants, with an elastic waistband that makes them extremely comfortable.  I am definitely going to keep these.  The length is perfect.

Pinson Drape Cardigan by Brixton Ivy  ($54):  Brittany also said I should try this cardigan on to complete the sweet and edgy look.  I was so excited to receive this item, because I had pinned this exact one to my Pinterest board.  It has two dreamy layers and drapes really nicely in all the right places.  I added my boots to complete more of a wintery look that I mighty wear into the office today.

 Leighton Metal Bauble Necklace ($34):  My fifth and final piece was a necklace.  It was reminiscent of the J Crew Bubble Necklace that was so popular a few years back, but in a metallic color.  I didn't completely love the statement necklace (I have so many statement necklaces at this point that it takes a lot to blow me away), but with the 25% discount that Stitch Fix gives you for keeping all five pieces, it was cheaper to keep it then to send it back.  

I threw on a simple black sweater since I already had the printed pants on, and I do think the necklace adds a certain charming detail to the outfit.  I think I would like it just as much with a plain t-shirt and jeans.

Overall, my stylist Brittany did a really good job at understanding what it was I wanted for my first fix, a combination of office and work-from-home clothing.  I really wanted to keep the lace top, printed pants, and cardigan.  However, Stitch Fix gives you 25% off when you keep all of the items, so it was cheaper to keep the two items I was on the fence about (the necklace and printed top).  I am really looking forward to trying this service again.

If you are interested in trying your own Stitch Fix, here is my referral link  (I get a Stitch Fix credit if you use my link).  Once you create your own account, you take a style profile quiz to help you stylist identify your likes and wants.  You are also encouraged to create a Pinterest board, where you can pin items that suit your style and even request items from other people's fixes that you want for yourself. There is a styling fee of $20 per fix, which goes towards keeping any items you decide that you can't live without.  If you keep all 5 items they send you, you get an additional 25% off of your entire order.

It is worth mentioning that you can have fixes sent to you as often or infrequently as you want.  There is an option for automatic fixes (delivered in intervals of your choosing), as well as an option for a one time fix.  Either way, you get to choose the approximate delivery date.  You can also choose not to have certain types of items or colors sent in your fixes.  You can even choose items for upcoming events (think wedding season shopping) and the price points you are comfortable spending.

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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