Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kitchen Adventures: Nutella + Banana

I'm back again with another kitchen adventure.  I love a little sweet treat after eating lunch and dinner. I've been working on eating healthier sweet treats, so today I'm sharing with you a healthier post meal option.


Cut 1-2 bananas in slices that are about 1/2 inch thick.  

Place the banana slices on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Freeze the bananas for about one hour or more.

Place several spoonfuls of Nutella in a microwave safe bowl.

Heat the Nutella for 30 seconds.

Dip the banana slices on into the Nutella. You can cover as little or much of the banana slice as you wish. I found it is easier to dip half the slice in. 

Place the tray filled with Nutella covered banana slices back in the freezer for several hours. 

Remove the slices from the tray and place in a freezer bag for easier storage. 

Store in the freezer until you with to indulge. 



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Graduation Gift Ideas

Tis the season for friends and family to graduate from high school, college, grad school, law school, etc. Who doesn't love celebrating the accomplishments of those that they are close to? These celebrations include ceremonies, dinners, brunches, toasts, parties, and of course gifts.  We all have felt the pressure to pick out and give the perfect gift to the graduate we are celebrating.  Gift giving can be tricky and we tend to put lots of unnecessary pressure on ourselves to get creative. Today I'm here to share with you some ideas of gifts you could give high school and college graduates this year. 

Money/ Gift Cards
You can always be boring and give money or gift cards as a gift. These make great gifts when they are packaged in a creative way or paired with a homemade sweet treat like this
Gift Card suggestions: Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Apple Store, Visa, Nike.

Laundry Gift Basket
Purchase a laundry basket or monogrammed laundry bag and fill it with towels, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, shout stain remover, and coins.  The towels could be the colors of where the graduate is going to college. 

Tool Kit
This may sound like a silly gift, but this one of the most useful gifts I received when I graduated high school. I used this all four years of college. Target has some great tool kits that come in fun colors.
College Apparel

Rain Boots
College students walk to class and around campus in all different weather conditions.  Your college bound friend/family member is definitely going to encounter some rainy days in the next year.  A rain coat and rain boots are certainly essentials in college students' wardrobes.  Hunter rainbows make for the perfect gift. Plus they come in many different colors, so you can customize them to best fit your graduate. 

Nothing says celebrating like a little alcohol.  Purchase your graduate a bottle of champagne, wine, or even a case of beer. If you head over to pinterest you can find lots of puns to spice up the gift like this

Weekender Bag
This bag is adorable.  After graduation, most people go on trips. This bag is great for a weekend get away, spending time at the beach, or traveling for the new job. You can personalize this gift with your graduate's initials, initial, first name, last name, sorority, etc. Etsy has lots of options like this one.

Most graduates have just gotten a new job, are seeking a new job, traveling, or headed to grad school. Each of these items requires them to schedule out their lives and be organized.  A personalized planner or professional planner make for an easy gift. 

It's time for your graduate to enter the professional world. A nicer wallet is a great gift.  Fossil and Tory Burch both have great options for this gift. 

What gifts are you giving to the class of 2016?


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Creating Your Morning Ritual

Starting your morning off the right way is incredibly important. The way you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the hours to follow.  Establishing a morning routine can help you have a more productive day, become more of a morning person, and allow you to have a less stressful morning.  Routines are great because they provide you with some structure.  Because let's be real, there is nothing worse than having a crappy morning and working all day to recover from it. 

If you don't have a morning routine, don't worry.  Today I'm sharing some ideas for creating your own morning ritual!

Wake up around the same time each day:
Figure out what your "sweet spot" is.  This spot is the timeframe of when waking up works for you. There's not need to wake up at exactly the same time each day, but instead know your body and what works for you.  This "sweet spot" could even be a steady 8-10 hours from whenever you go to bed the night before as opposed to a daily 7:01 AM wake up.  My preferred wake up time during the summer is usually around 8:30 AM. 

Create a to do list:
Prioritizing the day's tasks helps you visualize what needs to be done and how you're going to conquer it. 

Eat Breakfast:
I'm sure I am not the first person to tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This provides you with your initial energy for the day.  Eating super foods is the best idea because they help jump start your digestion with contents that are good for your body.  Everybody likes to eat different amounts and at different times, but be sure to add fueling your body somewhere into your personal morning ritual.  

Get Moving:
Tackle the day by moving early on.  If you don't have time to go the gym first thing in the morning, then just take a few moments to stretch the areas of your body that have some tension.  You could even do some yoga. I love this 15 minute morning yoga routine. Moving also helps to wake up and remind your body that it's time to get going. 

Incorporate Inspiration:
Motivation is a key factor in having a great morning. Think about what inspires you and include this in your morning routine. This could be keeping a gratitude journal, reading a few inspirational quotes, reading some blogs, etc. 

 There are a few things I like to do each day to ensure a perfect jumpstart to my day.  

Water + Lemon
This is a habit that was created thanks to one of the detoxes I did.  Fresh squeezed lemon juice combined with water is a great way to get your digestive track going in the morning.  It's a tasty way to start the day. I usually drink this while I get ready.
Read about the health benefits here.

I like to get moving in the morning. I typically work out early in the day, but some days that just isn't possible because I don't like to sacrifice my sleep to wake up early for a workout.  On days when I can't get a workout in, I like to stretch or do 20 minutes of yoga to get myself moving and wake up.  Occasionally I will also do a mini 15 minute workout. These just give me a little bit more energy to start the day. 

Wash Face
I wash my face each morning as soon as I wake up.  This cleans my pores, wakes me up, and allows me to feel fresh.  Even if I plan to take a shower in the morning, I tend to wash my face because it allows for a better cleaning. 

Create To Do List
Each morning I create a daily to do list. This helps my prioritize my day and figure out how I will cross thing off of my list. 

I eat breakfast everyday. What I eat tends to vary. Some items in my breakfast menu include oatmeal, banana and peanut butter toast, avocado toast, yogurt with fruit, or eggs. 

This is my inspiration to launch my day the right day. Sometimes I like to read a few blog posts, the daily Skimm, or some motivational quotes.  Sometimes this is only for five minutes other days it's for an hour. 

I do these six things every day and the regularity of the routine helps me start my day off in a productive manner with a positive attitude. 
How do you like to start your day off?


Monday, May 23, 2016

Mellow Morning Playlist

As I've shared with y'all in previous posts, I definitely am the most productive in the morning. When I wake up I feel refreshed, inspired, and ready to go.  I don't like to work in silence. I prefer to have a small amount of background noise.  When I'm working on blog posts I like to listen to mellow music to help get my creativity flowing.  This music is upbeat but not too much for the early mornings of the day. This playlist has been my go to for studying for my Praxis exams, getting ready, eating breakfast, and making my daily to do lists. 

{Background image via}

I hope you enjoy these songs!
I always love discovering new music, so feel free to share your latest playlists with me too. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

College 4.0

Hey y'all, it's me. I'm back to the blogging world, as of yesterday, now that the semester has come to an end. The past month has been pretty chaotic with end of the semester assignments, exams, moving out of my apartment, starting a new job, and adjusting to living at home (with my family) again.  Another year of college has come and gone.  This year was definitely one filled with lots of fun, growing experiences, new friendships, adventures, and a few obstacles.  

I cannot believe that the year has come to an end. It really feels like I was just moving into my apartment with three of my sorority sisters, and now here I am moved back in at home with my parents with only one semester as a collegian left.  Senior year was definitely my best academic year of college.  I managed to make Dean's List both semesters and finished the spring semester with my first 4.0.  I had some of my favorite classes and professors this year, and I was certainly challenged to step outside of my comfort zone both as a pre- service teacher and as a student. 

This past year truly solidified that I chose the right major. I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in a year long student teaching experience that would allow me to complete my six credit reading practicum with the same teacher and school that my student teaching would be with in the upcoming semester. I completed the first half of this year long opportunity about a month ago. This spring semester, I completed over 135 hours in a sixth grade Language Arts classroom where I had the opportunity to work with 107 students and as well as a team of knowledgable teachers. Spending 15+ hours a week in the classroom allowed to get a feel for what being a teacher is really like.  Due to these experiences I was able to realize that I love teaching.  I am eager to get back to this sixth grad classroom, in the fall, where I will be completing my student teaching. 
To check out more of my experiences from my year long placement, check out my professional blog by clicking here and typing in the password EDR 318. 

This year I also had the opportunity to grow as a student.  I had a professor who pushed me like none other has done before. I was forced to teach in challenging environments that caused me to be creative, patient, disciplined, and think outside of the box. I had never worked so hard to get an A, in a course, ever before.  During this class, in the Fall, I realized how much I enjoyed learning. 
(yes, I'm a bit of a nerd)
 Anyways, all of the hard work and several meetings with my professor made me think about my plans after my undergraduate career ends. Obviously I'm hoping to get a teaching job, but this professor got me to think even further than that.  Through our conversations, I've decided that I would like to obtain my masters of education in reading with a reading specialist certificate.  I thought about starting this endeavor this summer, but after lots of thinking I chose to give myself the summer off and begin next Spring (hopefully). 

Sorority Life:
The first half of this year I finished the second half of my presidency as Chapter President of my sorority.  Handing over my gavel was definitely bittersweet, but I was able to enjoy the fun aspects of my sorority in the spring rather than worrying about all the operational side of things.  I can't say I didn't love not being on our Executive Board for the first time ever, but I definitely enjoyed the extra free time I had.  My hard work paid off when I was awarded Panhellenic President of 2015 this past February. To read more about my experiences as President click here
At the end of Spring semester, I went through a ceremony (Jewel Degree) to become an alumna member of Alpha Delta Pi. Although I won't be graduating until December, I had the opportunity to become an alumna since I won't have much free time during student teaching. This ceremony was so special since founding sisters who graduated the past few years came back, my mentor since day one of joining ADPi was there, and Alpha Delta Pi has been such a huge part of experience at my college since transferring. Following this ceremony was our senior sendoff ceremony where we gave speeches and the chapter gave us adorable notes/gifts.  It was difficult to say goodbye to the chapter that I helped create, but I have faith that they will continue to flourish in the years to come. 

Social Life:
Socially I had an exciting year. I was able to become closer with friends I had previously known and form new friendships with sisters and classmates.  This year I managed to make two trips up to Penn State University to visit my best friend, spend Halloween in Philadelphia, attend numerous greek life social functions, discover new restaurants and bars, enjoy homecoming,attend several weddings, celebrate lots of birthdays, volunteer at a fashion show and attend several benefits.

A glimpse at some of my favorite memories this year:

Lessons I've learned this year:
+Don't sweat the small stuff
+It's important to treat yourself every now and then
+Sometimes it's easier to just be nice to people rather than holding a grudge
+It's better to pick up the phone than text someone when you need to have a difficult discussion
+Having your act semi-together can intimidate people, even if you don't think you're a kind person
+It's important to get off campus to study
+The library isn't always the most productive place to get stuff done 
+Attention to detail is an important skill that will take you far in life
+ It's okay to break out of your comfort zone every once in awhile
+People can change- sometimes for the better and other times for the worse
+The saying the early bird gets the worm is actually true more times than not
+Your GPA won't define who you are as a person, but it can help you get to where you need to be


Monday, May 16, 2016

Kitchen Adventures: Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie

These cookies are made with chocolate chips, ground oats, chopped walnuts, and shaved chocolate.  

There's a story that has gone around the internet for years about how a woman paid $250 for the recipe for Neiman Marcus' chocolate chip cookie recipe. The rumor goes something like this. Years ago a woman had a cookie at the Neiman Marcus cafe that was to die for. She asked her waitress for the recipe, and the waitress told her it would cost "two-fifty".  The woman assumed she meant $2.50. However, after receiving her bill she found out it was $250.  After spending $250 for this magical recipe, the woman was so mad that she decided to share this recipe across the internet. You can read Neiman Marcus' version of the story here.

These are one of my favorite cookies to eat and make. They're a little bit more labor intensive than your tradition chocolate chip cookie, but they are definitely worth the little bit of extra time it takes to make them. 

2.5 cups rolled oats
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs 
1 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. chocolate chips
4 oz milk chocolate (grated)
1.5 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper

Blend the oats in a blender until they become a fine powder.

In a bowl combine oats, flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt. 
Once combined, set this mixture aside.

In a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, and the other sugar until it is fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time. 

Add the vanilla extract.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the ingredients in the mixer. 

Add the chocolate chips, chopped walnuts, and grated chocolate to the batter.

Use a cookie scooper to create two inch balls and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake each sheet of cookies for ten minutes.

Let the cookies cool before enjoying them.