Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Summer Health and Fitness

One of my favorite things when reading blog posts is when the blogger portrays themselves as a human rather than someone who is flawless. Living in an era where everyone shares the best version of who they are while hiding there flaws can put a ton of pressure on people. Today I'm here to give you a post filled with real talk that I think many of you can probably relate to. When it comes to health and fitness, we all have a different relationship and varying philosophies. It is a subject that I think can be sensitive for some if it is not approached in the right manner. 

I'd be lying if I said I went to the gym or for a run every single day and that I eat clean all of the time. However, what I can tell you is that I listen to my body and what it needs.  This summer I have taken the time and energy to focus on my overall health. Concentrating on my physical health has in turn helped my mental health too. I take each day as it comes, and depending how I feel I may deviate from the weekly plan I had established. 

What I have learned is the importance of balance. Some weeks are filled with workouts and healthy eating while others contain more fun and less healthy choices. Sometimes our lifestyles simply do not allow time for every meal to be homemade and filled with veggies. It is important to be able to forgive yourself and not obsess over the days where your choices are less than healthy. 

I think one of the biggest things about staying healthy in the summer is all about the choices you make. Being mindful of what you are putting in your body and how you treat your body is so important. I try to incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies into my snacks/meals. I find it much easier to do in the summer for some reason.. maybe because I have more time to go to the market or because I like the season's produce better. I also try to limit my alcohol intake. This is so helpful with not feeling bloated, keeping my skin healthy, and not consuming empty calories.  When given the choice, I try to walk rather than drive or take the stairs rather than the elevator. This is simple, but it keeps me from being lazy. Another great thing about summer is that the weather is nice and there are more options for outdoor entertainment.  I like to take advantage of these opportunities and meet friends to do things (go for a walk, hike, etc.) rather than meeting to eat a meal. My last little trick is to stay hydrated by drinking tons of water.  These are just a few small things that help build a healthier lifestyle.

So what does my summer workout schedule look like?
It depends on the week, the weather, and what my calendar looks like. On a given week you can find me doing some combination of running, waking, playing field hockey, or taking a few classes at the gym. My goal is to get four workouts in a week, but it usually ends up being more like three each week.  Most summer weeks I play field hockey games in a women's league two times. These games are about an hour long and involve lots of cardio.

Weeks where I play two games, I usually try to stretch more and go to a cycle class at the gym. When I don't have any games, my week usually consists of two runs (2-4 miles long), a les mills class (bodypump), and a cycle class. I like to mix things up because it prevents me from getting bored and it works different muscle groups. 

Favorite Workouts:
Full body: Les Mills Body Pump (at the gym) & Kayla Itsines
Cardio: Cycle or interval runs
How do you stay healthy during the summer?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Road Trip Essentials, Tips, & Tricks

If you read Monday's post, then you know that Todd and I took a mini road trip earlier this month. We drove from Pennsylvania to North Carolina for a long weekend. It was our first road trip together, and overall it was a success. I thought it would be fun to share some of our tips, tricks, and essentials to road tripping. If you're anything like us, then you are living with champagne tastes on a post grad budget.  The two of these don't always align, but we are finding ways to make it work while still living life to the fullest.  We love traveling and exploring, but it can be costly. One of the ways we manage to travel while sticking to our budget is by driving places rather than flying. Yes, it takes more time but it is actually fun! Plus, it gives us time to chat about our wedding planning, life plans, and everything else you could possibly imagine. 

Once you decide where you are going and where you are staying there are a few more things to do before you are actually read to jump in the car and hit the road. The more planning and preparation you do the smoother your trip will be. 

Get the car ready
I'm not talking about loading it up, but actually prepping the car. It's important to make sure your oil and other fluid levels are filled. If you're going further it also might be a good idea to take your car to the mechanic for an oil change, tire rotation, and overall check in. Your future self will thank you for spending a few extra dollars on this if it means you get to and from your destination without any car issues. It's also more comfortable to travel in a clean car. Confession- I'm the worst at keeping the car clean and will avoid cleaning it at all costs.  However, recently I realized that it only takes thirty minutes to vacuum it out, clean out the trash and extra stuff you've accumulated, wipe down the interior, and wash the windows.  Traveling in a clean car just makes you feel so much better during the trip. The final preparations is to make sure that the car is stocked with chargers, and AUX card, hand wipes, and tissues. 

Map Out Your Route
Before heading out for your trip, be sure to map out to see what the best way to go is, where to stop, and the best place to leave from.  This was definitely one of the mistakes that we made. We didn't realize until we got on the road that the plans we had before leaving for our trip actually took us out of the way and added almost an hour to our trip. While mapping out your route, it is also important to note about when/where you will need to stop for gas and where the gas stations are along your route. Gas stops should be quick, so it's best if you can stop along your route rather than taking a detour because of your lack of planning. 

Combine Your Stops
If you're anything like us, then you like to just get to your destination as quick as possible. One way to do this is to combine your stops. Try to plan stops that allow you to grab food, let the dog out if he/she is traveling with you, use the restroom, and fill up your gas tank all at once. This will check three things off the list all at once and allow you to get back on the road again. 

Pack a Cooler
Pack a cooler or lunch box with water, sodas, and snacks. This will allow you to keep driving when you get hungry or thirsty. Plus, when you do stop you will be able to save any leftovers you may have for later on in your trip. 

Use Cruise Control
As you are driving it is helpful to use cruise control.  This keeps you from traveling too fast and getting a ticket.  It also makes it easier on you and it will save you on gas too.

Create a Playlist
Good music is definitely key to a successful road trip. I highly recommend creating a playlist filled with a variety of music. Variety is key because it keeps things exciting. We listened to my summer playlist for a lot of the trip. We also used to the time to begin searching for the first dance song for our wedding. We are still searching, so if you have any favorites we'd love to hear your recommendations!
Check out our playlist here! 

Caffeine Stop
What's a road trip without a caffeine stop? We definitely were in need of one during both ways of the trip.  Back to spending minimal time on stops and optimal time on the road.. I highly recommend downloading the Starbucks App or app for your favorite chain to get caffeine from. On the way home, we used the Starbucks app to find a store along our route and order our coffee ahead of time. When we got there, our coffee was waiting for us. We took a total of seven minutes for the stop to use the restroom and pick up our order.  Fun fact- water is free at most places. We got our water bottles filled with ice and water while we were there too. 

Eat Before You Go + Pack Snacks
It is helpful to not start the trip out on an empty stomach. This was a mistake we made on our way down to North Carolina. Starting on an empty stomach means that you will have to stop for a meal, which is a longer stop and you probably won't need gas yet which goes against the optimize your stops rule. Packing snacks allows you to satisfy your hunger without driving. Here are some of our favorite road trip snacks/drinks.

What are your road trip essentials?


Monday, July 30, 2018

Postcards from July + Current Favorites

Happy Monday everyone! It is the very last Monday of the month which is a little bittersweet. In exactly four weeks I head back to work for teacher meetings and preparation days, and five weeks from tomorrow it will be the first day of school.  While I love my job and I am excited to start my second year of teaching, I am equally loving these summer days. This summer has been the most relaxing one for me in several years.  It has certainly provided me with the time to recharge my batteries to start a new year feeling refreshed and ready to go.  I figured there was no better way than to give you some postcards highlighting my adventures from the month. 

The month of July has been jam packed with lots of fun.  I really felt like each week I ended up packing my bag, unpacking my bag, and doing laundry on repeat each week. Of the five weekends of the month, I only spent one of them at home.  I started the month off with an impromptu decision to spend ten full days at a family friend's beach house, which was probably the best thing I could have done for myself. The trip was filled with a little bit of alone time, time with friends and family, fireworks, a shopping spree or two, naps, reading time, good eats, morning runs alongside the beach, bonfires, reading on the porch during rainy days, and some time for reflection. 

Seriously, if you ever have the opportunity to take ten full days to simply treat yourself to complete relaxation..do it. You will not regret it one bit. I came back from the trip feeling so reenergized that it made me realize how run down I actually was.  Sometimes I think we stuff our calendars to the point of overload without even knowing it and eventually we reach a point where it just becomes too much. This is why it is important to take a step back and evaluate where you are in life and what you need to do to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

The month of July also reunited me with friends from college that I haven't seen in awhile.  My one friend came down from New Jersey to visit for a weekend. Our original  plan of a beach weekend turned into a staycation.  We started off the weekend at Taylor Swift's hometown concert in Philadelphia. Saturday we explored a new winery on the water followed by a night out on my back patio. We ended the weekend with a stop at our favorite brunch spot for lattes, eggs, and a little shopping before I took her back to catch her bus home. It was one of those weekends where I remembered the importance of having real friends who just get you. 

The following weekend Todd and I left Thursday night to make the seven hour drive down to North Carolina. Mid way down, around midnight, he looked at me and asked why he never questioned me wanting to leave so late Thursday night.  We laughed a little and continued driving until we reached our destination just before 3am.  There is something about a long drive that can be a great bonding experience: a shared frustration over traffic, the dance parties that break out when you've had too much caffeine, the long life talks you have during the boring stretches of the trip, and the life planning you do while driving on long stretches of the highway. After sleeping in Friday morning and having a full day to explore and spend time with our friends, Todd finally realized why he trusted me enough to drive through the night. Friday was filled with hiking, coffee chats, enjoying the nice weather, homemade pizza, and a late night catching up with our friends. Saturday was a great day complete with a new breakfast recipe, paddle boarding on the lake, a nap, and an afternoon shopping, eating, and drinking in downtown Greensboro.  Sunday morning we went to brunch and made the long drive home.  I'm working on a guide to Greensboro to share with y'all in the near future!

Last minute, I decided to go this past weekend with my parents and brother to visit family friends in Avalon, New Jersey. Growing up spending summers at the Delaware beaches, I definitely have a biased opinion that the Jersey Shore just doesn't quite compare to Delaware. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how cute Avalon was. The quaint town with cute shops and delicious places to eat was actually quite enjoyable.  We rode our bikes everywhere, spent a morning floating in the bay, laid out on the beach, and enjoyed some family time. One of my favorite parts of the trip was trying an acai bowl for the first time. It was seriously amazing. I'm searching for recipes to make one at home. If you make your own, please send me your recipe, tips, and tricks!

Between weekend trips, I spent the month coaching and playing field hockey, running, going to classes at the gym, reading, preparing for the school year, and spending time with friends and family that I don't always get to see during the year because life is too crazy. 

Currently July Edition:

Eating & Drinking: Eggs + Ole Bay & Coffee + Almond Milk 

Reading: Everything for middle schoolers. I have read so many great YA Lit books this summer. My co-workers and I formed this informal book club accidentally in our exploration for new books to share with our students. It has become such a fun way to find new books and talk about them with people who are equally as nerdy as I am when it comes to how passionate we are about our jobs. 

Watching: Southern Cham 

Shopping: Target sale + Amazon Prime Day + a few boutiques
Maybe a shopping haul post to come soon?

Blog Posts To Read:


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wedding Wednesday: Popping the Bridal Party Question

Happy Wednesday y'all! Today I'm back with another Wedding Wednesday post. This is the third post in the series. Last time I shared a wedding update with you (check it out here), I talked about the next two items on our to do list: finding a DJ and figuring out how to ask our bridal party to be part of our big day.  Well, we've crossed one of these items off the list, and the other one we have an appointment that will potentially end in us crossing it off the list. 

One of the exciting parts of planning our wedding has been deciding who we want to play a significant role in our big day.  We are lucky to have lots of great friends and family members, so it took us a little bit to narrow down who we wanted to be in our wedding party.  The deciding factors became who has been a part of our relationship, how long we've known them, and if we felt like they were people who would be our lifelong friends. So many people (my parents included) look back at their wedding day and have people that were in their wedding party that they no longer speak to.  I mean you can never predict the future, but what you can do is evaluate how strong your friendship is and the trends you've noticed in people. 

Once we selected who we wanted to ask, it was time for the fun part-deciding how and when to ask them. The when was the most difficult part. Ideally, we would have loved to get everyone together and ask them all at once. Our friends and family leave all across the country, so this option was quickly eliminated. We then hoped to each ask our respective sides at one time, but everyone's schedules and geographic locations prohibited this from occurring. What we ended up doing was trying to ask everyone within the same time frame. I asked all of my bridesmaids, maid of honor, and bridesman within a week of each other.  I was able to ask everyone in person, except one friend. I thought that was pretty good considering I live in Pennsylvania and my people live as far away as the West coast now. 

The how was the creative part. I started brainstorming awhile ago thanks to bridal magazines and Pinterest.  I knew I wanted to keep it simple. A growing trend that I don't love is for brides to ask their bridal party with these elaborate gifts. I wanted to keep the cost low while providing a tasteful gift that would reflect what our day will be like. I considered crafting, but after doing some budgeting I realized it would be a bit costly + timely.  Thanks to Etsy and a little creativity I curated the perfect proposal gifts for my girls and guy.  For the ladies I purchased Etsy boxes that included a personal box, a stemless champagne glass, and a paper straw. I was excited to find out that the glasses were real and not plastic. For the price, I definitely thought they were going to be plastic. I then added a set of hair ties that included our wedding colors (blush + burgundy + navy) and a mini bottle of bubbly to celebrate with. The crafting came into play with the homemade cards. I use craft paper and scrap book paper to print on.

I also asked my best friend from growing up, Kyle, to be my bridesman/man of honor. We have been close since we were three, so I could not imagine getting married without him by my side.  He and Todd are super close, but ultimately they are close because of me. This is why we chose to go the less traditional route. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of his gift and card. I got him a customized pint glass and the most adorable card.

Planning Updates and Goals:
So where am I in the planning process? I honestly haven't made much progress since the last update, but next month's calendar is filled with appointments. In August we are hopefully going to have our seating arrangement and DJ finalized. I did make a dress appointment at the boutique my mom and I always joked about me getting my wedding dress fun- it was kind of surreal when I finally called to book the appointment.

 I'm in the middle of searching for our videographer (any recommendations are welcome). We originally were not going to get one, but after talking to friends and attending weddings we've changed our minds and decided to splurge on it. After all, when it is all said and done the only thing you have left are your memories, pictures, and the video. 

Wedding Wednesday posts:


Monday, July 23, 2018

Summer Uniform

The summer is the best because I can choose to dress up or down depending on what I feel like doing. I love having options and choice. During the school year I pretty much live in business casual, so having some wardrobe freedom is quite enjoyable. A few years ago, I shared a post on the importance of creating your own personal uniform. You can check it out here. Basically there are a few things you want to know when creating your uniform.

Create guidelines
Use the theme you're looking to achieve to set guidelines for the pieces you'll add to your wardrobe. 

Summer Guidelines: I ten to stick to navy and pink, stripes, and lightweight pieces of clothing. 

Find your signature accessories and stick to them
Choose a few go to accessories and wear them continuously. 

Summer Accessories: I keep my accessories very simple.  I rotate a few pairs of stud earrings, I wear my fitbit, and a monogram necklace. 

Find items that look good and make you feel good
Don't buy something just because it's trendy. Purchase items that actually look good on you. You are more likely to wear an article of clothing that fits you well. When it fits well, it will make you feel good. 

Summer Favorites: During the summer I tend to gravitate towards items that are not form fitting. It gets to be too hot out to have your clothes sticking to you. I like to choose pieces that are comfortable but cute. 

Remember this is an investment 
It's important to keep in mind that you are working to build a long lasting wardrobe. You are not searching for the cheapest trendiest items. You want to be particular with what you buy. This might be splurging on some items here and there, which is totally okay. Quality of quantity is key here.  

Summer Tip: Quality of quantity is definitely key. For me this is especially true when it comes to summer shoes. I am particular about what sandals I purchase. 

So what does my summer uniform consist of?
Now that you have gone through my guidelines for creating a personal uniform, I'm sure you are curious as to what my summer uniform actually looks like.  Well, like I mentioned it has a lot of flexibility. Lately I have been all about the summer athleisure look- running shorts, a tank, and flip flops. This is partially due to my renewed love with my fitness journey and the fact that I spend several days a week nannying two boys. When I get a little more dressed up (think summer casual), you can find me in one of two types of outfits.  The first would be a pair of printed shorts from Lilly Pulitzer or Jcrew and a loose fitting tank top. The second option would be a cute t-shirt dress and a pair of Jack Rogers sandals.  Between these three types of outfits, I am pretty set for the summer. 

Shirt- Jcrew Factory (similar one) 
Skirt- Jcrew Factory

Dress- Gap (similar one) 
Shoes- Jack Rogers

Shirt- Lilly Pulitzer (Similar shirt) 
Shorts- Lilly Pulitzer (same shorts- different print) 
Shorts-Nike, Gap, and Under Armour

What is your personal uniform this summer?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Adulting Update: Perspective

It's about to get real today! Last year I created an adulting series that narrated the chronicles of my entrance into adulting. I haven't shared anything like that recently, and I thought that today's post couldn't be more fitting to add to the series. So here it goes! I feel like I can say pretty confidently that life is filled with many ups and downs: good times and those you wish you didn't have to experience. Let's be honest, not everyday is a good day but you have to find the good in every day. Sometimes it takes a little perspective to do just that. Perspective is something that can be hard to find, and sometimes we don't find it until much later. This is a concept that I have truly just began to understand.  It's something that can be hard to grasp as it requires us to change how we think about life's events. 

A year ago life was pretty uncertain for me.  I had just completed a year filled with transitions: student teaching, graduating college, dealing with family issues, and completing my first teaching experiences. The transition from college to job hunting definitely was not as bad as others have it, but it wasn't necessarily a flawless transition either. I graduate college, took a month off, did some day to day substitute teaching, became a building substitute, and landed an eight week long term substitute position. However, once the school year ended I had no idea what was next for me. Last summer, I was jobless watching, what felt like, everyone move on with their life while I was stuck in a place that I had little to no control over.  If you know me, then you know that I'm a little bit Type A (control freak-esque). I had applied to 50+ teaching and coaching positions in the area, and I did not hear anything from any of the postings until late July. Many friends had been getting interviews, but it felt like radio silence for me. 

Towards the end of July, the interviews started rushing in. At one point in the matter of ten work days I had over fifteen interviews. It was a pretty intense time for me.  Stress levels were at an all time high, and the level of uncertainty increased. Some interviews lead to a dead end after round one while others continued for what felt like endless rounds. Each interview I left with a different vibe. Some places I knew I was not interested in and others I thought would be a great fit for me. For one position I had six rounds of interviews, and after all that I was offered a position that was less than appealing. At the time, I was pretty disappointed but continued to keep pursing other opportunities. The week before I left for my family's vacation, I had my final round of interviews at two schools. I left them feeling pretty confident, but the doubt was still there in the back of my head. 

On the first day of my family's vacation, I woke to a phone call with a job offer. It was the highlight of my summer and such a great way to kick off our trip.  I was able to finally relax for the first time in awhile.  
The day I found out I was hired!

Upon coming back from vacation, I signed my contract and was in total prep for school mode. I was hired as a year long substitute position with the possibility of a contract at the end. Essentially, this past school year I  had a year long interview. The pressure was a lot at first, but eventually I forgot about it.  It was a great motivator to push me to constantly become a better teacher, co-worker, and role model for my students. 

So here I am a year later... I have a full contract at a wonderful school, I am a field hockey coach, and I'm in the midst of obtaining my masters degree. f you would have told me I would be where I am now this time last year, then I probably would have laughed at you.  I feel so lucky to have a job working with people who are inspiring, wonderful collaborators, and who help me be the best version of myself on a daily basis. 
(Here's a little shout out because I know some of you are kind enough to read my blog posts- Thanks for being so great!)

Heading into the upcoming school year I am fortunate enough to hold a leadership position that will allow me to continue to grow in my school community. Not  only do I have a full time teaching position, but I have also found a paid field hockey coaching position as well. This Fall I will certainly be juggling quite the schedule: teaching, coaching, being a grad student, and maintaining some sort of sanity. 

Long story short, the purpose of this post is to shed light on the fact that things truly do happen for a reason.  Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade and that's much easier said than done. However, after awhile you come across of a sign for why things played out the way that they did. It is so important to always maintain a positive attitude and have a little faith in life.  The past year has been such a whirlwind for me, but there is not one single thing I would have changed because each little thing has helped shape me into the person I am today. A little time and space can help  you learn a few things about yourself and life. 

Check out some posts from my Adulting Series:


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Staying Productive During the Summer Months

The summer is a time of year that most people love. While everyone's reasons are a little different, we all share this common enjoyment. The season is usually filled with a little fun in the sun, but there has to be some productivity in the midst of all the memories being made. As a teacher, I had the privilege of having the majority of the summer months off from school. Although, if you took a peep at my calendar I'm not too sure you would call all my time off a summer vacation. On my days off it can be easy to let the day slip away.  However, I try to balance these days with equal parts relaxation and productivity.  The other day somebody asked me how I am so productive in the summer, which is what gave me the inspiration to share my tips with each of you! 

The summer can be filled with vacation, a little bit of work, making time for friends and family, and lots of spontaneity.  Despite all the fun, there are things that must get done. So how can you possibly balance the things you want to do with those that you have to do?

Wake up at a decent hour
Do not let the day get away from you by spending all morning sleeping. It is important to get out of bed and start functioning at a reasonable hour.  Waking up at the same time every day provides you with a normal sleep schedule, which can increase your productivity. 

Establish Routines
Routines are crucial to success. This summer I have been working on waking up earlier to get more done. I wake up, take care of my puppy, and then workout before heading off to work.  Running in the mornings gives me a great jumpstart to the day.  I also create a mental to do list during my workout. It's the time I take to organize what my day will look like.  Another routine I have is eating breakfast each morning. I am most productive during the morning hours, so I try to get most of my tasks done then. Find the time that your work best and schedule your tasks to be completed during this timeframe. 

Don't procrastinate
This is kind of obvious, but I think it is an important reminder.  Get your least favorite tasks done first. This will keep you from spending too much time thinking about how much you don't want to do them. When you get the harder stuff over with earlier on, then it makes it easier to complete the less daunting tasks. Plus it is important to get things done when you have free time, so that if something better pops up you do not have anything holding you back. 

Timed Tasks
Don't let these boring tasks take you all day. Giving yourself a time allotment to get something done ensures that you are using your time efficiently and not wasting the day on something you don't actually want to be doing. 

What gets measured gets managed
Start each day by making yourself a to do list. I'm not talking about one of those to do lists that are impossible to complete. I am talking about a to do list filled with tasks that you can realistically complete in one day's time. When you can cross something off a list, you are more likely to do it. 

Do something meaningful
If your summer months are filled with free time, then look for something to add to your calendar that gives you a purpose. Look into getting an internship, learning a new skill, take a class, get a part time job, etc. Giving yourself a purpose can also lead to productivity. 

Take a vacation
It is so important to recharge your batteries. It is okay to treat yourself to a little rest and relaxation to jump start a new period of productivity. Seriously, everyone needs a little time off each year. 

What are your productivity tips for the summer?