10 Reasons to Winter Jam {beautiful fun}

Since I know you're probably judging me right now, I just want to be clear that I was not imitating Taylor Swift circa-2011, but following along with what the band led the audience in doing.  So everyone was hand-hearting . . up until the second that this picture was taken, I guess.  

However, I happen to like hand-hearting, Taylor, and this picture (thanks to Allie!) a lot so we're moving on.  Hit play and then keep reading for things with the likes of giant balloons, what a dollar can get you, and new music obsessions. 

Winter Jam is the incredible 10-band concert that I've spent a February Saturday night at for the past two years. Traveling all over the country, the Jam Tour is something that I will definitely be hitting up again next year, and then the next year, and then all the way to when I'm that 80-year-old rocking out harder than the Beliebers at the Justin Bieber movie premiere.  Fortunately, I didn't experience that, but I've been told that you can still hear the fangirls' screams ringing in your ears.  

I'm not taking a math class this year, but I'm still confident that I'm not mistaken when it comes to the price of this event.  Ten dollars at the door for tickets divided by 10 bands means that you can see a live music performance for only a dollar. Cheap date night, anyone?  Seriously though.

Grainy iPhone concert pictures for the win. And yes, we were actually this close -- no zoom here!
Helloooo, the entire for KING & COUNTRY album! For real though, since Winter Jam in Detroit last Saturday I've been doing one of two things: 1) listening to their gorgeous Aussie voices or  2) hearing them replay in my head and trying not to burst out into song.  If you don't want to find some new songs that you will absolutely love, don't click that link.  

Honorable mention: About a Mile.  I had never heard of them heading in to Winter Jam and I left with a CD.  They were fantastic performers! 

 Last year, the University of Mobile was a Winter Jam sponsor and they gave me not only a $20,000 scholarship but A FREE T-SHIRT! How exciting is that?  You'll be even more elated to hear that besides being free, it's probably the softest, most comfy t-shirt that I own.  I mean, $20,000 was cool though, too.  This year I fought a scholarship-thirsty crowd of fellow high schoolers to receive some more free clothes.  I did get a t-shirt, but it's not the softest, most comfy like last year. 

This time of winter is such a dreary, gray time for Midwesterners and it was great to have a night where I could put the crappy weather and the fact that spring will probably never come out of my mind and have an amazing time praising God with 16,999 other people from many different denominations, stages, and walks of life.  Everyone is so uplifting and my mood increased like 320%.  

Look! I met for KING & COUNTRY *obviously* Well, I had the chance to meet them as I did nearly every artist there, but the lines were bazinga people long, and I don't really care for lines all that much. 

"Stop by and see us at our booth after & pick up a copy of our music for $5!" - 80% of the artists at Winter Jam.  And so I did. for KING & COUNTRY was in the minority that their CD cost $10, but the artists are so generous in practically giving away their albums.  I even got an About a Mile CD for less than what it's priced in the iTunes store. Oh, and $40 t-shirts? You won't find any of those here. 

Are words even needed?

That lady with the awesome hair? Yeah, that's Blanca who made up 10% of the show.  It's pretty cool to glance over and see someone who had just been killing it up on stage rocking out to the same bands that you are and getting so, so excited about it.  None of the performers took any of the glory for themselves, but gave it all up to God, which I thought was pretty neat.

Pens, backpacks, candy, and all of those fun shenanigans are at your beck and call if you take a stroll around the concourse and check out all of the sponsor booths that are just begging for you please, please, please, take home their merchandise. So naturally, I didn't want to let anyone down and allowed them to throw as many free things my way that their hearts desired. 

From the ticket prices, to the music, to the people, to the message, to the atmosphere, God is glorified! It's obvious that Winter Jam is not about the money or the gain - it's about spreading the Gospel through the gift of music.  

I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of all the Christian music on the radio; however, Winter Jam does a fantastic job of showing that praising God through music doesn't have to be in the form of "church songs" or hymns (even though I love them!).  Within the few hours that I was in jumping out of my seat, I heard rock&roll (that has toured with the likes of Nickelback), an Indie/pop mix, and so, so much more.  Last year's tour featured two rappers.  I don't even like rap, but you better believe I was pumping my arm like the best of them. Also, one band's act resembled something like a circus act and I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes (their music video had pretty much the same effect on me). The entire night features such amazing and talented performers that dedicate everything to God.

So, are you in? There are still a ton of dates left and Winter Jam just might be coming to your city

Have any questions about Winter Jam? I'm not an old seasoned pro, but I do know the ropes pretty well!



The Wanderlust Is So Real

Lately I've been scrolling through all my Europe pictures more often than I usually do.  I know what you're thinking: it's time to send me to some support group or something.

Hi, my name is Allison and I can't stop reliving the summer of 2014.

Hiiiii, Allison.

And that's how it would go.  Between Katie's and my Travel Thursday blog swap last week to my new wall quote crafted out of Europe pictures and my sister's excitement over her upcoming European adventure, my heart is clearly elsewhere in the world. 

Also I just took a BuzzFeed quiz that confirmed that in 10 years I will be traveling the world.  So it's meant to be . . . BuzzFeed told me so.

I could take this wanderlust-laden obsession and turn it into a productive habit like learning a new language or discovering how to cook food from around the world.  However, those are things that people who are ready to move on with their life do.  I don't think that I'm quite there yet or want to be there, so I'll fuel this fire a little more.

Out of all of the towns, villages, cities, and countries in this big world, I can only think of two places that I don't really have a desire to go.  That leaves approximately 72,983 places that I do want to see and feel and experience. And that's a lot of places.  Ain't nobody got the time to write about 72,983 places, so I made the tough executive call to chop the list to the top 8 places that I want  need to visit in my lifetime. (In no specific order because do you know how long that would take me to decide? I spent nearly an entire study hall just narrowing it down to my top 8 choices so no way am I getting any more detailed than that.)

Paris, France

Top 5 Paris bucket list: Climb the Eiffel Tower // eat in a corner cafe // visit the Louvre // see the Arc de Triomphe // be in awe of the Notre Dame Cathedral

Cape Town, South Africa

Top 5 Cape Town bucket list: sit on top of Table Mountain // spy on penguins // take a dip in those waters // learn a few things about African culture // visit the Cape of Good Hope

London, England

Top 5 London bucket list: drink tea // take a ride in the London eye // fangirl over the Harry Potter studios // tell the time on Big Ben // get an inside scoop on the London fashion scene

Machu Picchu, Peru

Top 5 Machu Picchu bucket list: trek the Inca trail (yep, all of it!) // get cultured at an indigenous village // taste the local cuisine // ascend to Huayna Picchu // explore Incan ruins 

Innsbruck, Austria

Top 5 Innsbruck bucket list:  wonder at the Innsbruck Cathedral // hit the Alpine slopes with my snowboard // photograph the Goldenes Dachl // hike those mountains! // wander in and out of shops and cafes

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam Top 5 bucket list: marvel in the Museum Quarter // check out the Anne Frank house // taste the street food // tour the city by bike // get on the canals (ice skate in the winter, take a ride in the summer)

Extra! What I will not do in Amsterdam: Proclaim that Anne Frank would have been a belieber.

New Zealand

I couldn't just pick one place in New Zealand because its all just so gorgeous so the whole shebang landed on my list. 

NZ Top 5: take a mud bath in Rotorua // skydive // take in the views while hiking the Tongariro Crossing // kayak the Milford Sound // stargaze  

Denver, Colorado, USA

Denver Top 5: snowboard! // catch a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater // hike in the mountains // stop and smell the roses at the Denver Botanical Gardens // find some really good eats

So much for a productive day . . . I could actually be accomplishing something if resenting why plane tickets are so expensive is considered "accomplishing something."  

Have you ever been to any of these places? Are they on your bucket lists?



Travel Thursday // Paris!

Hope you all are having a great Thursday! I'm really excited to introduce one of my favorite blog friends today! Katie from Katie's Great Perhaps and I are pretty much the same person in about three hundred different ways so it's no surprise that we both have a pretty extreme case of wanderlust. She went to Paris last spring which I am insanely jealous of (and even more after I read her post!) So, travelers, wanderers, adventurers, (and if none of the above apply to you) blog readers, continue on!

Hello everyone! My name is Katie and I’m a high school student who blogs over at Katie’s Great Perhaps. Because Allison and I both love travel so much, we decided to swap blogs for the day and tell each other’s audience about our travel experiences.

I’ve only been out of the country once so far. I ventured to Paris with my high school’s photography club and a wonderful company called Travel for Teens last March, but that trip gave me such an in depth, intimate look at Paris.

Because Travel for Teens prides themselves on teaching young adults how to be “travellers, not tourists,” I got to experience Paris as a local and do a lot of cool things I wouldn’t have done had I travelled there on my own.

Today I’m going to share with you the top five things you have to do in Paris:

  1. Visit a Sunday Market
Each Sunday, a bunch of little markets spring up around town. If you’re in Paris on a Sunday, you have to visit one. You can pick up all the ingredients you need to make an excellent baguette, delicious desserts, fresh fruit and so much more for relatively cheap at the markets. You also catch a glimpse of local life while visiting the markets and interact with some of the kindest Parisians you will meet while in France.
2. Climb the Eiffel Tower
When visit the Eiffel Tower, you’ll have the option of either climbing to the top of the tower or riding an elevator up the majority of it.  I highly recommend climbing it. By climbing it, you’ll get to see all sights of Paris the Eiffel Tour offers and get the bragging rights that you climbed all 1000 plus stairs of the monument.

* Okay, Allison input here . . . Isn't Katie's picture of the Eiffel Tower the absolute coolest? I am determined to someday get a picture as fun as this one! . . . *end input!*

3. Go on a bike tour
My group and I went on a bike tour around Paris with Bike About Tours and it was an excellent way to see the city without having to walk a thousand miles. The tour takes you to both major monuments, like the Louvre and lesser known attractions, like hidden parks in the city. Not to mention, the tour guides are hilarious.

4.  See the catacombs
Seeing the catacombs was the only thing I was uneasy about doing on my trip. I’m very squeamish when it comes to bones and gory things. But as weird as it sounds, standing in the middle of a tunnel full of bones and skulls wasn’t that creepy, it was actually kind of cool. And it’s a great place to figure out how to use the exposure, shutter and other settings on your camera.

5. Eat like a local

Avoid turning to touristy restaurants for your meals while in France and opt for the smaller cafes and restaurants while in Paris. Not only will this save you money and time, but you’ll find that the food at the smaller, lesser known restaurants is amazing. The best baguettes and macaroons I had were at small, hole in the wall cafes.

Her trip sounds so amazing, doesn't it? I love the idea of being a traveller rather than a tourist. That's my kind of adventuring! If you haven't had your wanderlust fill yet, you can head on over to Katie's blog to read all about some of my favorite spots in Athens, Delphi, and Santorini from my Europe trip last summer.

Thanks so much to Katie for taking over my blog today! I've had a lot of fun with this!

Have you ever been to Paris?



Reckless & Something Beautiful VLOG!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Today I have something to share with all of you that I'm really excited about: my first Vlog! Adora from Halcyon Bound nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is a lot of fun! Allie from Reckless was also nominated and was the brain behind the brilliant idea to team up and make this into a Vlog! 

So without further ado, I present our Liebster Vlog! 

And yes, we fully realize that we had been pronouncing Liebster completely wrong.  Don't worry, we have amended our ways.  Or at least we think so.

If you want to join the fun, please do! Allie and I have some questions for you, too!

1. Do you have a weird phobia? If so, do share!
2. What's your best blogging tip?
3. Where is your favorite place to be?
4.  List five of your favorites (song, flavor, music, animal . . . whatever you want!)
5.  If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
6.  What's the best job you've ever had?
7.  If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
8.  What is your youngest memory?
9.  How do you like to spend your downtime?
10. If you could visit any time period, past or future, which would you choose?
11. If you could be any age, which would you be and why?

Thanks so much again to Adora! If you're looking for some good reads, her blog would definitely be a good place to find some, so swing on by and say hi to her!

Will you accept our Liebster Award?  We would love to see yours!




Reading up . . . on a Tuesday

Four sick days + two snow days = a lot of time to delve deep into the depths of Internet archives. Although Facebook photo albums from 2010 mayyyy have been a part of that, here's some of the things I found that are actually worth sharing.

This isn't just for the parents out there. Grandparents, teachers, encouragers, mentors, people, this is how you talk to your daughter about her body.

Losing a friendship is never easy, but it doesn't have to be bitter or hurtful.

When I found out what Harper Lee is doing, I literally let out a yelp/gasp that probably sounded like I was choking.  So. Excited.

Looking for some comfort soup that doesn't have to have all of the calories? This is the answer.  I made it for dinner last night and it was a hit with everyone & super simple, too!

More food! Salmon lovers, this is the link for you!

Raise your hand if you don't want to spend an amazing, gorgeous, week in Europe.  No one? That's what I thought.  Margo from The Overseas Escape put together 10 one week itineraries that you should definitely take a look at.

People getting you down? I feel ya. But there's an opportunity that comes from even those tough times.

If you need a laugh, I guarantee that this will at least put a smile on your face. Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, and Kevin Hart with a little Yoncé, Queen Elsa, and Katy Perry is a recipe for funny.

Did you find anything that you really liked from this week's finds? Which one?



What Snow Days Are For

I always imagine that it must be so nice to live somewhere sunny and 75° for all 365 days of the year.  That would eliminate chapped hands, cracked lips, frozen hands on the steering wheel.  I wouldn't have to deal with awful road conditions or making sure I have an extra pair of gloves packed just in case.  Scraping snow off of the car at 6:30 am would be a thing of the past, and boy, that is one thing that I surely wouldn't miss. 

But what sunny and 75° doesn't come with is snow days. 

Snow days are for hot chocolate and pajamas.  Sledding whenever you feel like it.  Catching up on your current read.  Snuggling in with the covers up to your chin and watching the snow fall.

Finishing the homework that you're still somehow procrastinating on.  Taking a walk and marveling in how still, peaceful, and calm the earth is.  On a snow day, you can build a snowman, try a new recipe  (and it's a hit!), and shovel the driveway for what seems like the 7th time.

Bake cookies. Eat all of the cookies. Throw a snowball and expect to have one sail back at you.

And that's what snow days are for.  Suddenly, overcast and 9° is sounding much, much more appealing.

And I get to do it all over again tomorrow!



How I Failed at No-Spend January

These euros were not spent in January! Partly because they aren't accepted in America and that's where I was all January long.  But we'll pretend that they weren't spent because of my iron strong will. 
Not spending money for an entire month is hard.

In an attempt to curb spending and save some dollas, I officially declared January a no-spend month by waking up on January 2nd and thinking that it's just a month and it's no big deal and I really do need to save money for college and then having to promptly stop myself from buying a song on iTunes.

With that knowledge in mind, it'll be no surprise to you that I failed at not spending in January.  Of course I don't have to purchase things like groceries, pay a mortgage, or get a car repaired yet, but I often grab some food with friends, impulsively buy a new skirt every now and then and frequent the iTunes store on a weekly basis.

I figured that I could easily put all of that off for just four short, little weeks.  Wrong.

what I wanted to spend: $0
what I spent: (try not to be too horrified with me. please.) $2.72

I'm going to break it down:
$2.02 - pictures for my wall quote that I actually didn't end up using.
$0.50 - string cheese at lunch when I thought I was going to die from starvation, but I probably would have made it anyway.  And it was warm.  Gross.
$0.20 - a library fine. My account said I was a delinquent and I didn't want the nice old librarian to think I was a bad person so I took care of that baby.  And I didn't want to go to jail.

I really broke the bank, I know.

Actually, all sarcasm asides, I'm pretty proud of how well No-Spend January went down.  It was a lot harder than I had imagined it to be when I dreamed it up while in that whole waking-up-delusional stage that no important decisions should ever be made in.

I noticed that not spending money required a lot more pre-thought and planning than I usually had to put into things. For example, I met with a few friends for a Bible study at Panera and instead of indulging in my usual U PICK 2 and chai tea latte, I packed a sandwich from home and pretended that it was a panini. I didn't fool anyone, but my wallet was happy!

Not spending also meant that I had to be consistent and stick to a plan even when that bargain rack Target skirt was definitely designed with me in mind.

Now that it's "Spend-All-You-Have-February," I'm off to make up for the 31 days that I just spent conserving.  If you need me, I'll be in the Target dressing room!

Have you ever tried to go a month without spending?

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

// Allison