December 14, 2015

Chimney Tops + Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains

The hike to chimney tops isn't easy, though the first mile would lead you to believe otherwise. It begins with an easy walk over well-built, wooden bridges that lead you safely across rushing streams, and the incline, though steady, isn't so steep that you find yourself bent over a tree gasping for air. However, it is a workout nonetheless.

But if you were to do some research online ahead of time, the description of this hike makes it clear that the second mile isn't for the faint-hearted. As you reach the sign at the switchback letting you know you're halfway there, you prepare your mind and body for a much more difficult second half. You begin that familiar stride - one foot in front of the other, just keep moving forward.

December 11, 2015

InstaLately: Part II

Ideally, I wanted this post to go live on Tuesday. I was planning on putting it together after I got home from work that evening. But there's been a ton of big changes happening at the Club this week, and the most important vote in Club history happened last night. Just to put that into perspective, the Club was founded in 1927. Basically, I've been super busy at work lately, especially this week, and coming home has been time for me to do not think about anything. And that included putting together a blog post. But now it's Friday. I got to leave work early. I treated myself to a Starbucks. And I've been able to watch a few more episodes of Lost. So I'm feeling rejuvenated. And now here we are with two blog posts in one week. How bout that?!

December 7, 2015

InstaLately: Part I

It's been awhile since I've done a post other than my monthly goals, so I figured it was about time for an InstaLately. And since I have quite a few pictures, I thought it'd be best to split this up into two posts.

December 5, 2015

December Goals

I wish I had access to better editing software. I hate that Photoshop and Lightroom can only be used by paying a monthly fee. I would much rather pay a few hundred dollars for the product and fully buy it and be able to use it as much as I want. If that is possible and I'm just so out-of-the-loop that I don't know about it, please enlighten me because I hate that I edit images - whether it's these "goals" images or images from trips I take - and they look so great, and then I save them, and it's just.... Well, you see the final product. It just sucks.

Anyway, it's the end of the year! And to close out the year, I have just one final goal for the month of December...

December 3, 2015

November Goal Recap

Another month, another goal recap. Let's not beat around the bush, so here we go...

November 2, 2015

November Goals

Hello, birth month! I don't think I'll ever get tired of my birthday. I know a lot of people, as they get older, hate their birthday more and more, and with each passing year they become a year more determined to shrug it off and let it pass by without mention. I can't imagine I'll ever be that person. I love my birthday. And though I'm not the type to wear a tiara and invite a plethora of friends/coworkers/acquaintances/strangers to celebrate my special day, I still look forward to its arrival and letting it be a day about me. Call it vain or conceited or whatever you please, but I like my birthday. And I'm excited for it to get here in just nine more days.

October 31, 2015

October Goal Recap

Happy Halloween! Also, awkward... I haven't blogged all month. Like I didn't even do my monthly goals post, which is the one and only thing I've been consistent with all year. BUT I still made goals this month, so now I give you my recap.

October 1, 2015

September Goal Recap

Happy October! I'm a summer girl through and through, but I do love fall. What I hate most about it is the fact that winter will follow, but I guess it's so unfair for me to judge autumn based on the horrific season that follows. Like, fall can't help that winter is literally the worst. But anyway, September goal recap... Here we go.

September 28, 2015

National Cathedral

I figured I'd finally post these last few photos from DC considering our trip was like, nearly four months ago. I'm not really sure why I've delayed in posting these. Most likely, it's because I hate editing pictures. But better late than never, right?

September 7, 2015

September Goals

Happy Labor Day, y'all! I can't believe it's the end of the summer. As much as I love fall, I absolutely detest what inevitably comes when it's over - winter. But I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed that the warm weather continues to stick around and snow never, ever comes. Wishful thinking I'm sure...

So what are my goals going into the autumn season??

September 4, 2015

August Goal Recap

Okay, awkward moment when it's September 4, and I'm just now recapping my August goals. Let's not even mention that it'll probably be next week before I even give you my September goals. *insert see no evil monkey emoji here*

Anyway, August was a month with big goals, which I was hoping would lead to big lifestyle changes moving forward. And I'm proud to report that I am cruising at a comfortable speed down a road that will hopefully lead to a much more active and healthy life. Needless to say, I'm proud of myself and the efforts I made last month to truly change for the better. It's been a long time coming, and I'm ready for these changes I've made to stick with me for the long haul.

August 10, 2015

Great Falls

On our last full day in DC we decided to not go into DC. Instead, we ventured out to Great Falls. It always feels calming to get out in nature. To experience something like a set of waterfalls, crashing over rocks with no mercy, it puts things into perspective. It makes you realize just how small you are in this big world. It's humbling.

August 6, 2015

Lincoln Memorial

Visiting Stonehenge last summer was everything I ever imagined it would be. The Lincoln Memorial was the same. When you really like (read: are obsessed with) traveling, you see lots of pictures and do lots of research on the places you want to see. Though you may be well-read, it can come with its disadvantages because you set yourself up to have high expectations. And the higher your expectations, the more you allow the possibility of disappointment. Thankfully, the Lincoln Memorial did not disappoint.

August 3, 2015

August Goals

I have a bittersweet feeling toward August. I see it as the beginning of the end in many ways. Yes, it's still summer, but it's the last month of summer. What follows will be cooler weather and eventually, God forsaken winter. I dread winter. I could live my whole life without it. If I could, I'd chase summer around the globe. But alas, I can't. And I'm destined to live through yet another cold season. But for four more Mondays I'm determined to soak up every last bit of summer and accomplish a few monthly goals while I'm at it.

August 1, 2015

July Goal Recap

To keep it short and sweet, I'm proud of myself this month.

July 27, 2015

Washington Monument and WWII Memorial

After our first few days of hot and sunny weather, Mother Nature changed drastically. Like, serious attitude problem, y'all. And we got rain, rain, and more rain. It definitely threw a wrench in things. But you know, when in DC the monuments are a must, so we braved the rain and saw those landmarks that are so iconically DC and America - the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

July 13, 2015

White House & Memorials

We were lucky enough to get a tour of the White House thanks to my Uncle Dave pulling some strings, and the morning of our tour we woke up early to make it there in time. We went through layers of security before we finally made it inside the White House. Then, once we made it inside we were able to tour the designated areas on our own.

July 5, 2015

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Kind of a quick post today, mainly because I don't have many pictures from our visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Yeah, that name is a mouthful.) Sometimes you just feel like taking a place in instead of worrying about capturing it on camera. But just because I don't have many pictures, that doesn't mean this church isn't incredible. Actually, incredible is a massive understatement.

July 3, 2015

Franciscan Monastery

While in DC, my uncle wanted us to see some religious homes of worship, and being that my mom and I had seen so many awesome cathedrals in England (here and here) last summer, I was interested to see what DC had to offer. I feel like the architecture of religious houses is always very neat.

July 2, 2015

July Goals

Y'all... the year is half way over. Does that blow your mind as much as it does mine? It's crazy how fast time seems to go. I swear I was just crying about snow, like, last week. But anyway, happy July!! Now for some good ole goal setting.

July 1, 2015

June Goal Recap

I've been working on making time for me all month, and I can honestly say that I feel the difference. I've been blogging more. I've been reading more. And I'm finally getting through the book I started at the end of last summer... And I'm beginning to feel rejuvenated because of it. I said it a couple weeks ago, and I'll say it again. It is so incredibly important to allow yourself to enjoy life.

June 29, 2015

Capital and Library of Congress

So first of all I just want to point out that my photos lose all quality when I upload them to the blog. This is something that I'm going to have to address because it's just not cool to share such mediocre photos with y'all. I promise they don't look this bad before I upload. But anyway... we did tours of both the Capital building and the Library of Congress. And I'll tell you right now that the Capital building tour left a lot to be desired.

June 27, 2015

Pentagon Memorial

There are a lot of memorials in Washington DC. Like, a lot. But for some reason the Pentagon Memorial wasn't one we were really planning on seeing. In fact, we weren't really planning on visiting the Pentagon at all until we realized we had some time late in the afternoon on our first day. And, wow.... I am so glad we carved out some time to see this place. I was nearly moved to tears. Talk about humbling, y'all.

June 15, 2015

Arlington National Cemetery

The first stop of our trip was Arlington National Cemetery. We arrived late in the morning when the sun was beating down, and the temperatures were rising quickly. We were dripping in sweat before we even made it to the visitor's center from the nearby metro station.

June 12, 2015

June Goals

Okay, so it may be the middle of June (the middle of June already?!), but it's never too late to set a goal. Or in my case, tell people about your goal. So without any beating around the bush, here's my one goal for the month of June:

Make time for me.

In high school, I had a very busy weekday schedule. I'd wake up at 6:30 in the morning for school, and I wouldn't get home until 9 or 10 every night. But during the weekends, I typically had all the time in the world for me. I didn't have siblings, and I wasn't the type to hang out with friends very much. So being by myself, I obviously had plenty of time to indulge in the things that I enjoyed doing.

June 8, 2015

1000 Places: Washington DC

Last week, my family and I visited Washington DC! I'm home now and still exhausted, but I figured I could get a post up considering I haven't blogged in over a month. (Insert see no evil monkey emoji here.) The following pictures were all taken on my iPhone and also posted to my Instagram, so if you follow me there this may seem kinda deja vu-y. Anyhow, I think these are a good round-up of highlight photos from the trip, which also makes for a great way to start off trip posts and provides an official "1000 Places" post. Enjoy!

May 4, 2015

April Goal Recap

April was a blur it seems. Only two posts here on SS Jess, and now all of a sudden it's May. And it's 80 degrees outside, and the first round of summer clothing has made a bold takeover in my retail job.

I was so stressed out last month. I had a handful of big emotional breakdowns. You know, in high school when you're dating, if you and your boyfriend break up it's like the end of the world. Having your heart broken for the first time is one of the absolute worst feelings, and it's so much worse if it happens in high school because you're immature and terrible at getting a grip on your emotions. Last month though, I experienced negative emotions that were so much worse than my high school break ups. Even though my break up sadness made me feel paralyzed and alone, I still always knew that I would eventually get over it at some point. But last month, I wasn't sure if I would ever get out of the awful black hole I had fallen into. In high school I felt alone, but last month I felt helpless. And I've decided that helpless is so much worse than alone.

April 13, 2015

Chit Chat v.2

+ One of my favorite things about the spring season is tanning. In the summer, especially when you're not on a beach, it gets so hot so fast, and there's really no relief anywhere. So laying out might not be the most peaceful. But in the springtime, tanning is so relaxing. The weather is nice; it's hot but not so hot that you think you might have a heat stroke. And it's one of the best feelings to come out of hibernation and get some good ole vitamin D. I've just started tanning for real this past week, and I feel like a million bucks.

April 10, 2015

April Goals

floating (adj):
not fixed or settled in a definite place or state

That's pretty much how I've been feeling since February - like I'm floating, like I'm drifting around in Limbo. No one ever tells you how stressful that time between graduating and finding a real job is; no one ever mentions how lost you'll feel. I thought starting a career wouldn't be that hard considering my past experiences, but that's totally not the case. Everyone likes to talk about how so many jobs are being created blah blah blah, and I'm just like, "where?" This is the first time in my life when I've truly felt like I'm struggling. Maybe I've just been lucky, but I thought I was doing the right thing up until now. But recently the only words I have to describe my state of being are confusion, stress, mediocrity, and doubt. I feel like I'm in a tunnel, and there's absolutely no light at the end of it.

March 30, 2015

March Goal Recap

Is it just me, or did the month of March drag on for ages? This has been the longest month ever, y'all. But the good thing is that it's over now, and we are solidly in the spring season! Now I've got to start working on my tan so I don't blind people with my paleness this summer. But anyway, goal recap:

March 23, 2015


nostalgia (n):
a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time

Weather tends to remind me of certain places. Hot, humid days remind me of home and being close to the beach. And being at home reminds me of childhood. And then cool, fall mornings remind me of my youth, growing up, and being in elementary school. I also have "Disney World" days, which are hard to describe, but it has to do with a cool morning that you know will lead to a hot day; there's also a specific scent in the air. 

And now I have weather that reminds me of England, and the past few days have been just that. It's comfortably cool, and the weather will climb to a perfect 70 degrees by late afternoon. There's no humidity. It's close to how every day was last summer while my mom and I were exploring London. And while I'm applying my makeup I'm instantly transported to the bathroom in our little flat in Kensington, and walking to my car is reminiscent of walking to the train station at Earls Court. The weather these past few days has been so eerily similar to our English adventure that I briefly forget that I'm in Tennessee, and I'm finding myself with massive cravings for bangers n mash and a giant clock.

March 17, 2015


I missed a post! This weekend totally exhausted me, so I did absolutely nothing yesterday but go to work. So here we are with a very unusual Tuesday post.

This weekend Bryan and I went down to Atlanta to celebrate Bryan's lack of a spring break. (Grad school just doesn't care about spring break, y'all, but I have no sympathy because I don't have a spring break either.) So to get some sort of a "vacation" we decided to go visit friends and family. Saturday night, we went to dinner with Bryan's family. Then one thing led to another, and the next thing I know we're on a spontaneous adventure complete with 360 degree views of the city.

March 12, 2015

Wish I Was There

The weather in Knoxville has been AMAZING these past two days! We've had warmer weather this week, but it was raining. But yesterday and today have been just gorgeous. All this warmth and sun are only making me crave for a trip to the beach. I haven't been home since New Year's, so I think I'm due for a visit. In the meantime, all I can do is daydream about all the beautiful beaches I'd love to be relaxing on right about now. Here they are in no particular order:

After mine and Bryan's trip in December, I've been itching to get back. It's not like it's that hard to get to anyhow.

March 9, 2015

Getting Fit with Blogilates

This past week I started working out. Yes, you read that right. I actually got my butt off the couch and have begun to make the effort to get my body in the shape it should be. And I've actually really enjoyed it. I found Cassey Ho's YouTube channel several months ago, but it wasn't until this past week that I actually started following her videos.

March 5, 2015

Interior Design Inspo: Office Spaces

So I've been looking for a job for a while now. We all know that. And I'm still waiting for that perfect opportunity to come along, but in the meantime I've gotten abnormally excited about office spaces. I've always been a big lover of office supplies (Office Depot is one of my retail happy places), but just recently have I started browsing Pinterest for beautiful and inspiring office spaces. There are some really great ones out there, y'all!

March 2, 2015

March Goals

The first of the spring months is here! Hello, March! Even though you wouldn't know it because there's still disgusting snow all over the place. I'm ready for it all to melt; I am not made for this environment. Anyway, goals for this month:

February 26, 2015

February Goal Recap

The end of February has brought a ton of frustration. Snow, snow, and more snow! This summer-loving beach girl is NOT a fan of snow, but Mother Nature has covered Knoxville with it for the past two weeks. Literally, y'all. I have not seen the ground for two weeks, and it's miserable. Thank God March is almost here. I desperately need some spring weather. Anyway, here's how I did on my goals this month.

February 23, 2015

Fine Leather Goods? Treat Yo Self!

If you couldn't already tell from my Galentine's Day post that I love Parks and Rec, well, I love Parks and Rec. And along with Galentine's Day, Treat Yo Self Day is one of my absolute favorite holidays of the year. It's official date is October 13, but of course, it's perfectly acceptable to treat yo self whenever you see fit. On Valentine's Day, I was ready to treat myself to something I had been saving for for over two years - the Louis Vuitton Neverfull.

February 19, 2015

The Mansion at Fontanel

Last weekend, Bryan and I made a day trip to Nashville, TN. The intent of the trip was so I could treat myself to something I've been wanting for years, which I'll tell y'all about next week, but we also took the opportunity to explore a little bit of the Tennessee capital as well.

February 16, 2015

5 Things You Must Do When Visiting London (That Aren't Actually in London)

Visiting London last summer was a major life highlight. My mom and I still talk about how much we miss the city and the train system and bangers n mash. And I'm sure we'll continue to talk about our trip with a ton of enthusiasm for years and years to come. But even though London is full of life and things to do, it would be a shame to visit the city without taking time to explore the surrounding towns and attractions. So today, I'm sharing with you five things to do when visiting London that aren't actually in London. Enjoy!


February 12, 2015

Galentine's Day! (and how to celebrate it)

As much as I really hate winter, I can't deny that some pretty great things happen in February. And Galentine's Day has to be one of my absolute favorite parts of the shortest month of the year. People always have something to say about Valentine's Day, good or bad, (And to be totally honest, it gets on my nerves. I can't help but roll my eyes dramatically when someone complains about the good ole day of love.) but I don't think anyone can argue with Galentine's Day. If you haven't watched the video above by now, then take a pause and click play.

Parks & Recreation has literally got to be one of my favorite TV shows (series finale is in two weeks, and I'm literally dying), and literally every character is my spirit animal. I can literally relate to everybody from Leslie to Ron to April to Donna. LITERALLY, Y'ALL! And because the show just speaks to me, I've naturally adopted some aspects from it to my own life. Galentine's Day is one of those things. Because it's wonderful, and it should be a national holiday.

So today, I've decided to give y'all some ideas for celebrating your lady friends. You've got 24 hours to call up your best girls and plan something special to recognize just how perfect your friendship is. I know I already sent my Quad (shoutout to Becca, Kayla, and Lauren) some little goodies through the USPS to let them know that I love them so.

February 9, 2015

The Truth about All-Inclusive Resorts

Before heading off to an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas, I had a lot of uncertainty. I like to think I'm a good traveler, someone who can immerse herself in another culture and can genuinely appreciate what other places in the world can offer. All-inclusive resorts, I feel, have a reputation for covering up the exact things I love so much about travel - the local people, the local way of living, the local quirks, and the genuine beauty of a particular part of the world. This is exactly why I'd never been to a resort before December and why I had no interest in doing so.

But after arriving at the resort and enjoying it for four days of relaxation, I realized that my preconceived notions didn't describe the whole truth about all-inclusive resorts. I could see where these ideas about resorts were formed, but I was also shown why you can't always believe the blanket statements of stereotypes. So here's the whole truth about all those opinions we have about resorts.

February 5, 2015

Winter Jams

I haven't done a music post in a while, but I keep hearing all of these awesome songs, and they just need to be heard. The music videos, on the other hand, don't really need to be watched. I have no idea what they're trying to show anyhow. I swear music videos have become so unrelated to the songs in recent years. Like what are you singing that I am not hearing, ya know? Or the video is WAY too serious. Nowadays, I think I'd just rather listen to the song and never watch the video that accompanies it. Anyway, have a listen, and enjoy your weekend!

February 2, 2015

February Goals

It's the start of a new month, which means I'm focusing on my second set of goals for the year. Last month I did pretty well with my goals, and I'm hoping February will follow suit. So here they are - February goals:

January 30, 2015

January Goal Recap

The month of January has come and gone! Hallelujah! This month has felt like it has dragged on for the longest time, so I am beyond excited for it to be over. Just one more month of cold before we're into the "spring months" as I like to call them. I'm hoping we'll make it without any snow, but that might just be wishful thinking. We'll see... Anyway, goal recap! Like I said at the beginning of the month, instead of doing an all-encompassing word like I did last year or your typical list of resolutions for the whole year, for 2015 I have decided to do monthly goals. So far it's been a great decision, and I think it's the perfect way for me to keep myself motivated and moving forward, accomplishing all that I want to accomplish.

So here's how I did this month...

January 29, 2015

Scarf Game Strong

So I really hate winter. But one good thing about winter is scarves. I love me some scarves. Currently I have about a million scarves - infinity scarves, cashmere scarves, knitted scarves, and scarves with elephants on them. It's an addiction, but it's totally healthy because it keeps me warm. But despite having a million scarves, I don't have ALL of the scarves. So while I was window shopping through my computer screen, I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you share some of your favorite scarves on your blog?" What a great idea, Self! So without anymore babbling, here are some scarves that are totally making me drool.

Under $25

January 26, 2015

Bahamas Film

Doing water activities often means no camera for me considering I don't have waterproof cases for my DSLR or my phone. So the only other option is to go for a good ole trusty waterproof disposable film camera. Thankfully the resort sold them, so I bought one to take with us when we went paddle boarding, and I got some shots of us relaxing in the (freezing) crystal clear water.

January 22, 2015


Some of my best memories from the Bahamas took place as the sun faded below the horizon. I'm not sure if it was simply the sheer excitement of being somewhere different that made it so beautiful, but I swear the sun sets prettier over the islands. There's something about "island time" and being able to do nothing but sit on the beach and watch the sky be painted an assortment of cotton candy colors while sipping on a glass of wine. There are no trees to obstruct your view - no power lines, no skyscrapers, no lights from buildings diminishing the brilliance of nature. It's magical to be able to watch a sunset in that kind of atmosphere - being able to gaze out across the ocean, uninterrupted.

January 19, 2015

5 Places to Visit in 2015

The world truly is a magnificent place. It's almost unreal to think that by traveling to a new country you can see things that you couldn't have imagined in your wildest dreams. In my couple of years of really being into blogging and faithfully following a number of different blogs, I have noticed that there are some places that everyone seems to be visiting, and consequently I find myself researching travel arrangements to these places over and over again. So I've put together a handful of different places around the globe that I think you should consider for your next big trip. Happy planning!

January 15, 2015

Sandals Cay

One of the great things about Sandals Royal Bahamian is the private off-shore island, Sandals Cay. You can see the island from the resort, but it definitely feels like a completely different part of the Bahamas. It's quiet, relaxing, and secluded - a perfect combination in my opinion. Bryan and I spent a day on the island, and I swear I could have fallen asleep and spent the night out there. It was just that peaceful.

January 12, 2015

Over New Year's

During New Year's week, I was magically not scheduled for a single shift at work, so Bryan and I decided to make the 8-hour drive down to my hometown and spend six days with my family. This Christmas was my first big holiday that I had to spend without my family, so naturally it was a little emotional for me. And after Christmas I really wanted to get home but just had no idea when I'd be able to next. Not getting scheduled at work, although it means having a very small paycheck, was a total blessing, and I'm so glad life worked out that I was able to get some R&R at home.

And while I was home, some really great things happened!