Outdoors

Birthday girl.

Just thought I'd stop by & share some photographs I took on my 23rd birthday yesterday. The boy & I were pretty proud of ourselves because we managed to have a fun-filled day without spending any money! The photographs are from Cincinnati's Krohn Conservatory which (according to their website) has more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. This is one of my favorite places to go when I feel like exploring & taking pictures. We also went to the Cincinnati Art Museum which is also free & then went to see Away We Go which I totally recommend. Such a sweet, cute, & funny film.

Reaching.

Fragile.

A tiny forest.

(I'm in love with Bonsai trees. I just adore how they look like tiny minature forests.)

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Hello! So, next Wednesday (July 8 to be exact) I'm turning 23. I guess I'm rather "meh" about the whole thing. After you turn 21, I feel like there's not really anything to look forward to. I mean, I'm not one of those people that feels depressed about getting "old" & I realize 23 is still considered pretty dang young. Regardless, I'm not overwhelmingly excited about my actual birthday. However, I am excited about a little get-together I've decided to host in honor of my birthday next Friday. It's going to be a wine/cheese/bread/etc themed party! I've actually never hosted a proper party at my apartment before, so it should be interesting. It's not going to be anything extravagant-- just a small gathering of good friends & (hopefully) good conversation. I've been spending the majority of the day making the playlist for my party. I plan on posting it here for you to download when it's finished! Should be pretty great by the time it's finished.

Anyway, all of this "party planning" business has inspired me to look for some interesting & lovely party decorating ideas out there in the black hole that is the internet. Here are just a few of my favorites:

These little nightlights are so freaking cute & would give the perfect ambiance to an evening party. (via marthastewart.com)

These are awesome because (a)I love cupcakes & (b) I love putting faces on inanimate objects.
So, combining those two things = DOUBLE WIN. (via aashdown)

Polka dots everywhere! My dream come true! (via camillestyles' photostream)

The morning of my birthday, I'd like to wake up to this. Just sayin'. (via 20x200)

What about you? Have any inspiring birthday images/links/decor ideas/etc. to share with me?

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Yes, that is me in the above picture. Sadly, it's probably the most recent picture of myself I have on a bicycle. That probably goes to show you how much expertise I have on the matter of bikes and biking in general. Regardless, I have been mulling over the idea of riding a bike as an alternative mode of transportation for a little while now. There are a few reasons this appeals to me. First of all, with the fluctuating price of gas and the economy in the midst of a tail spin, biking would leave me with a little more spending money in my pockets. Secondly, although Cincinnati is not notorious for being the most "biker friendly" city-- with its many hills and its lack of appropriately designated bicycle lanes-- I still feel it is a shame to live at the heart of a city and not own a bike! I also would be remiss if I left out the whole "going green" and getting healthy motivation for biking.

Although, I must admit, one of the main reasons I want to get into biking is the sheer "coolness" factor that comes along with it. I have always thought that people riding their bikes to the grocery store looked pretty bad ass; especially when biking up next to me whilst I'm driving my (totally the opposite of bad ass) white Hyundai Elantra. I have always found the whole "bike scene" to be very appealing-- albeit slightly intimidating. Therefore, I have decided to go on a quest to discover what a "wanna be" biker needs to know in order to make the transition with ease.

I began my research by posing a question on Bikeforums.net which is an excellent source of information about all things bike-related. I received several responses to my question in which I asked what sort of information I need to know before purchasing a bike and/or beginning to bike as an alternative mode of transportation. One member gave me some good, practical advice:

"If you can get some pointers from your local bike shop without having to buy an expensive new bike, then great. Personally I'd suggest your first bike be a used bike from your local Craigslist. You may soon find out that you don't like some things about it, but you should be able to sell it for around the same amount you bought it for and try again. After you've ridden a used bike a little, you'll have a better idea of your preferences in a bike, and you'll be able to choose a better bike for your next one."

I was also curious to know what types of things I should look for when purchasing a used bike. I don't want to be swindled into purchasing a "lemon" used bike. Here is what one article said on the subject:

"Look over a used bike for bent wheels, worn out tires, and test ride to make sure everything is running as you'd like. Before test riding, check the air pressure and the brakes. Make sure the pedals, cranks, handlebar fittings and wheels are all properly secured. It is also a good idea to look over the entire chain to make sure there are no defective links. You can do this fairly quickly by pedaling backward while watching the profile of the chain. A damaged link will usually stick out compared to the others." - (via bikewebsite.com )

 

Next, I was worried about sizing. It seems to be the number one reason as to why people struggle to purchase a bike. I know it's one of the main reasons I have had trouble finding a bike.  A member on Bikeforums.net told me this little piece of information: "If you're 5'6" to 5' 10"  a 19" frame should fit pretty well. Taller? Try 21". Shorter? Try 17". Seeing as I am barely 5'5", I think this means I am going to need between a 17" to a 19" frame. Here is a link to another excellent resource for more specifics on finding a bike that will fit you properly. I believe another excellent and practical piece of advice that I received was simply to test ride the bike. If it doesn't feel right or comfortable, it is probably not the right one for you.

Consequently, May is Bike Month. There are a lot of events going on around Cincinnati in order to advocate and help get people out there riding. Below is a short video that aired on the local news featuring some avid bikers in Cincinnati:

 

Although I haven't found a bike quite yet, I believe I discovered a lot about the "nuts and bolts" of purchasing as  bike from the feedback on the discussion board. I plan on keeping you posted and letting you know how my progression is going. I know there is still a lot to learn. Do any of you have any advice?

Here are a few helpful resources if you are interested in getting connected with the bicycling community in Cincinnati as well as some other basic and important information in regards to bicycling in general:

Bicycling life - (Practical Cycling tips
Cincyrides.com
Cincinnati Cycle Club
Queen City Bike

This is where I want to live. It looks so beautiful, while still totally livable. This wooden beach house in Maitencillo, Chili has me dreaming of moving somewhere that I can always hear the waves lapping against the shore. Just think about waking up to a deck like that to watch the sunrise. And, would you just look at those walls? Go here to view bigger & more photographs.

{via NOTCOT}

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Austin TX: Hey Cupcake!

Another place you  should visit if you happened to find yourself in Austin is Hey Cupcake! As you can see from the pictures, it's a cupcake stand. Not only is it an adorable idea, it was the best cupcake I've ever had! If you go, I would recommend the red velvet cupcake-- that's what I got. But, I am sure whatever you get will be equally delicious. Who doesn't love a good cupcake?

Austin TX: Hey Cupcake!

{Location:}
1600 Block of S. Congress
Austin, Texas 78704

{Hours:}
Tuesday-Saturday: 12 to 9pm (or until sold out)
Sunday: 1 to 8pm (or until sold out)
Closed Monday


Folly Beach, SC

Hello, friends! I do indeed have access to the internet here in Charleston, South Carolina. My family & I are staying in a lovely condo on Folley Beach Island just east of Charleston, SC. We spent yesterday swimming in the ocean & beside the pool. I am a bit red but very much enjoying myself so far! We walked around downtown Charleston today. There were some interesting shops. I bought a pretty little summer dress off of a street vendor. I think we are about to head back to the beach right now! It is a very relaxing time. It was rather stormy yesterday evening & we saw a full rainbow (which you can see above). I can't remember the last time I saw a whole rainbow! That has to be a good sign!

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{sixthreezero Scholar: $170.00}

In lieu of the fact that one of my favorite philosophies in life is "Never grow up", I am hoping to get a bike for my 22nd birthday that is coming up in July! I will probably opt for a nice, simple used one from someone local, but of course I had to make myself jealous by looking at all the beautiful, shiny new bikes that you can purchase online! Here are some of my favorites:


{Milano: $649.99}


{Electra Townie 21 Bike: $430.00}


{Schwinn 2007 Deluxe 7 Cruiser: $479.99}


{Schwinn 2007 Alloy SS Cruiser: $259.99}

I was inspired by NOTCOT to put together a little bird feeder post of my own. For all you modern bird lovers out there, I've found a few of the most sleek & contemporary bird feeders out right now. With one of these feeders, it might seem as though the birds in your yard are eating better than you; and, that just might be the case!

1. Eva Solo Bird Table ($154.99): Certainly the most expensive of the bunch, but also the most impressive. The glass dome stores 5 liters (4.5 quarts) of bird seed and keeps the seed dry. {via: NOTCOT}

2. Bird Feeder, Half Moon ($39.25): Stainless steal with a mesh-like net, I believe, to keep those pesky little squirrels from stealing any of the bird's food. Great idea!

3. Tubular Bird Feeder w/ Beachwood Stake ($78.51): This one is also stainless steel with a Beachwood pole and suspension hanger. Somewhat expensive, but it sure is neat to look at!

4. Take Away Birder Feeder by Eva Solo ($60.00): made from mouth-blown glass & built to withstand all the weather elements.