Saturday, May 27, 2017

Adulting Month Five

I cannot believe that over an entire month has passed since I've published a post. Navigating the world of adulting has truly consumed me.  Month five has been much more positive than the previous two months. 

 I have been a long-term substitute teacher in a seventh grade math class for five weeks now. This position has confirmed that I have chosen the right profession. It has been quite fun putting all that I learned the past five years into action with students that I can actually call mine.  In five short weeks, I have already learned so much. I've learned a lot about myself, the inner workings and politics of schools and the surrounding community, and best teaching practices.  Waking up every morning and working at the same place has been quite refreshing compared to the day to day changes I experienced while substitute teaching in five different school districts earlier this year. 

I'm finally establishing routines in my personal and professional life, which makes me feel like I actually have a grip on things.  I am a creature of habit, and I LOVE routines.  I thrive when I can schedule my time out.  I've learned that packing my lunch the night before, picking my outfits out for the week on Sunday nights, and going to bed before 11pm are crucial to a successful work week.

Since I've started my life as a working woman, I realized it was time to make a big girl purchase.  During my second week of work, I purchased my first car.  I had been searching for quite some time now. I had determined the criteria that was important to me- sun roof, heated seats, leather seats, a cross over size vehicle big enough to fit my pup, and something that would be safe in winter weather.  I had it narrowed down to about four different types of cars. One afternoon, Todd and I went to test drive a few different cars just for the heck of it.  I ended up hating the car that had been #1 on my list and loving the one that I thought I wanted the least.  Trust me when I tell you that test driving is so important to purchasing a vehicle.  We met with a sales associate, but I walked away that afternoon thinking my credit wasn't be established enough to actually purchase a new vehicle. Several weeks passed and the car was still on my mind. After a few phone calls with the dealership and some serious thinking, I decided to purchase the car! Initially, the purchase was overwhelming, but looking back I don't regret it one bit. I am now the proud owner of a Black 2016 Subaru Forester Limited. I settled for a black interior, but ended up benefiting from all of the limited features so I can't complain.

Looking ahead at month six, I'll be entering the uncertainty of what comes next again. As of right now I don't have a full time teaching contract for the upcoming school year. I have no idea what I'll be doing three months from now, and I am much more comfortable with this unknown feeling than I was in January.  I am hopeful that things will work out how they are supposed to.  I have been working hard to apply to any and all jobs that I am qualified for in hopes that the right school will want me.  In the mean time, I am working on putting my summer plans together. I'll be nannying again three days a week, working a camp, working out, playing field hockey, and the rest is up in the air.

Lessons I've learned in month five of adulting:

Being tired is a lame excuse. 
Seriously, I had been using this as a reason not to so much- work out, get together with friends, play with my puppy, say yes to adventures, and enjoy life.  During the past month I realized that mind over matter is actually a thing. Although I might be tired after school, I've started to push through the exhaustion and make it to spin classes, grab drinks with friends, and have more fun.

The importance of eating during a working lunch.
As a teacher,  your time to get things done during the school day is limited. I've found that working lunches are necessary in order to get everything crossed off the to do list before I head home for the day.  In recent weeks, I've frequently forgotten to actually eat during these working lunches. On those days, I found myself struggling to make it through the second half of the day because I had such little energy.  I've found that even eating something small is better than not eating at all.

Goals for the next month:
-Continue working out regularly
-Get together with friends I haven't seen in awhile
-Publish a post at least once a week


Monday, April 17, 2017

Adulting Month Four

Hello lovelies, thank you for coming back to keep up with my blog posts and not giving up on me. Yes, I haven't blogged in over a month, but I think I have a pretty good(not so good) reason why.  

First, let's begin by rewinding to my last and first adulting update. If you didn't read it, then check it out here. I had navigated my first month of adulting, shared a personal anecdote of how I was feeling a little lost, and was hopeful for what month two would have in store for me.  Well since then, have been two and a half months filled with adulting. These past three months have been a complete rollercoaster for me. 

Month Two (February)
Things that I thought would happen in month two: 
"I'll be searching for open teaching positions to apply for, updating my digital portfolio, continuing my fitness journey, celebrating my twenty third birthday, taking a weekend trip, and watching my little brother being his college lacrosse career." 
Looking back, all of those things I thought would happen did occur. These were what I thought would be the highlights of month two, but they ended up being the small things I experienced.

Breast cancer took on a new meaning for my family...
  During the first week of February, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. My family realized in an instant that life as we knew it was about to change, but we just weren't quite sure how. The rest of the month was spent figuring out what the best course of treatment(s) would be for her, what her options were, and what our roles as supporters would be. For me it seemed like a month filled with anxiety and fear of the unknown. 

I started working...
Despite what was going on with my mom, life still had to go on. I started working again at my part time job. It was nice to be back with my wonderful co-workers in such a peaceful place to work. I also began substitute teaching. I was initially nervous to enter buildings and classrooms that I knew close to nothing about. However, the classrooms I was in during February were fabulous. I enjoyed being able to pick and choose the days I wanted to work or have off without any repercussions. I learned a lot about different teachers' methods of organization, classroom management, routines and procedures, and tricks for writing substitute plans. I was excited to add more ideas to my imaginary bag of teaching tricks. I also loved the short five to twenty minute commutes I had in comparison to my student teaching commute (65 minutes plus). 

I got an interview...
My job search continued, I ended up going through an interview process with a semi-local district. I had applied to the position in early January, but I figured nothing would come of it. During February, I endured three rounds of interviews, which included teaching a demo lesson to an actual class of students. This process was exciting for me since it was my first set of teaching interviews. I prepped a little for them, but I went into each interview with an optimistic attitude that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain whether it was a job or just interviewing experience. At the end of the month, I still had no idea if I would be hired for the position or not. 

A weekend getaway happened...
My fun for month two was a weekend away with Todd. This year we decided to skip the gifts and go away to celebrate our birthdays. We spent two days and one night in D.C. It was a fun trip filled with lots of walking, delicious food, navigating public transportation, several museums, some sight seeing and of course a little bit of shopping. More details on our trip to come in the future.

Lessons learned during month two: 
Perspective is everything
Mammograms save lives

Month Three (March)
March Madness is usually all my family talks about during March, but this year it was rarely brought up outside of the reminder to fill out our individual brackets for the annual family pool. Our pool has no bets involved just a year of bragging rights.

Mom's journey with breast cancer continued...
On March 1st, my mom finalized her treatment plan. Her surgery was scheduled for March 17th. The first two weeks of the month were filled with more doctor appointments and preparations for her to be out of commission for awhile. I helped her shop for items she would need after surgery and prep some food that we could freeze for future meals. March 17th came, and she endured a six hour surgery. Her surgery went beautifully! A few days later she came home from the hospital and her road to recovery began. Her spirits were high considering everything that had happened. Less than a week after her surgery, we found out that they had successfully removed all of her cancer (insert happy tears here). The month didn't end as she had hoped. Complications from surgery forced her to return back to the hospital. The second half of the month my dad and I took over all house responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, taking care of the dogs, taking care of my mom, grocery shopping, etc.). I didn't realize how much my mom actually did for us until she wasn't able to do these things anymore.

My interview process concluded...
The first day of the month, I found out that I advanced to the fourth round of interviews for the teaching position. This fourth and final round was with two assistant superintendents and a middle school vice principal. It was probably my favorite interview of the process- very conversational and allowed me to share who I truly am. My interview was on a Thursday morning, and by Thursday afternoon I found out I was hired for the position- a Long-Term Substitute for 7th grade math. I was so excited to accept the position. I found out that I would be taking over for a teacher who would be out on maternity in mid April. For the rest of the month, I served as the middle school's building substitute. I  went to the school five days a week and filled in where they needed me. 

March ended with a fun weekend...
The last weekend in March was definitely one I will forever remember. My best friend got engaged to her college sweetheart. They moved to the mid-west in early August, so I don't get to see them much anymore. However, they came back to their college alma mater (just a few hours from where I live) for the weekend, so I was able to surprise them to help celebrate their engagement. I am so excited to help them plan their wedding. Not many of my friends have gotten engaged/married yet, so this was definitely the realization that we're all growing up and the adult world is oh so real. I spent the second half of the weekend visiting my brother at his college. My parents plus Todd drove up and I met them there. We went to his lacrosse game, enjoyed some of the best brick oven pizza, and ended the weekend with Sunday brunch before returning back home. 

Lessons learned during month three:
The power of positivity is real.
Everything happens for a reason.
You don't realize how much moms do around the house until they stop doing everything. 
My family is lucky to be surrounded by wonderful friends/family. 

Month Four (April)
Here we are half way through my fourth month of adulting. Life as I knew it still isn't the same. My mom is still recovering from her surgery, so I still have a lot of responsibilities to tend to at home. I'm definitely learning how to balance adult responsibilities with fun. I'd like to think that I'm mastering adulting much better than I did back in January.  The first few weeks of the month I continued to be the building substitute for the middle school I will spend the rest of the school year in. Last week, I had off for Spring Break. I spent a few days working at my part time job, went to my brother's lacrosse game, switched out my winter clothes for my spring wardrobe, and enjoyed time with my family. 

Tomorrow I begin my first big girl job. While it is temporary, I am excited to begin the career I have been working so hard to achieve for the past five years. I feel blessed to have this opportunity so soon after graduating. I know the next two months will be filled with personal growth as well as challenges, but I am optimistic for what the future holds. 

It's hard to believe that there are only two weeks left until May. We are closer to being half way through 2017 than we are to the beginning of the year. I'm hoping to hop back onto the fitness train. With everything going on with my mom, I haven't been taking the time I need to take care of myself. My goal is three workouts a week right now, which should be realistic to conquer. I'm also striving to get back to blogging regularly. I know posting five days a week is just not going to happen, so I've decided to start posting two days a week- Mondays and Thursdays. I'm moving more towards quality of quantity in all aspects of my life. 

 Before concluding this post, I just wanted to say a quick thank you. Thank you for coming back to read my blog posts after my month-long hiatus. Blogging is something that I love, and YOU, my readers, keep me motivated to continue posting. An even bigger thank you to everyone who has helped my family the past few months. Life certainly hasn't been easy for us, but your words of encouragement, home cooked meals, cards, and overwhelming support have made it easier for us. 

Thanks for reading. Have a fabulous Monday!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Daily Makeup Routine

Happy Monday! Today I thought it would be share my daily makeup routine with you all! For starters, I'm not a makeup guru. I prefer a more natural look that requires minimal time in front of the mirror. When it comes to makeup, my motto is less is more.  I don't use a ton of different products, and overall my routine is pretty simple.  It takes me about five minutes max to do my makeup each day.

Step one
I begin with a pomegranate primer by Korres. I put a large drop on my pointer finger and then blend it onto my face.  This primer provides a matte finish, keeps the makeup from melting off during the day, and decreases the visible size of my pores.  It's very light and prevents my face from looking and feeling greasy. You can find this product at Sephora or Amazon for about $30. 

Step two
Time to apply some BB Cream. I like to use BB Cream because it is light, but provides me with just enough coverage to even out the little bit of red blotchy skin I have.  Plus a nice bonus is that it has SPF 35 in it. Every little bit of protection against the sun helps the skin! I like to use a large soft brush to apply this.  The brush helps me apply it evenly without wasting too much of it. I use Bobbi Brown's BB Cream in the shade of fair. You can find it on their website for about $46. One tube usually lasts me a little over a year or so. 

Step three
A layer of finishing powder. This is an illuminating powder, so it provides a little bit of color. This usually gives my skin a bit of a glittery glow.  I use the nude palette. Some days I will skip the BB Cream and solely use this. It makes for a great natural weekend look. You can find this palette on the Bobbi Brown website here. It sells for about $52, but I was able to score mine for $30 at the cosmetic store at the outlets. 

Step four
Now for the eye(lids). I begin by applying a beige color to the majority of the lid. Next, I apply a shiny nude color just below my brows. I typically stick to shades of tan and brown for my eyes. Occasionally I will layer the colors in the Naked Palette for a heavier look. 

Step six
Recently I've been into the look of defined brows.  After cleaning up the brows with a pair of tweezers, I like to fill them in a little. I use the brown color (faint) in the Naked Palette. It matches the color of my brows perfectly. If you don't fill in your brows, then I highly recommend adding it to your daily routine. It can take a pair or brows to the next level. Also, it can clean them up if you're in between waxings. 

Step six
Time to add a little color. My next step is to apply a little blush to my cheek bones. I like to use a light pink color to achieve a lightly rosy cheek look. I use Bobbi Brown's desert pink. I apply this with and angled brush. 

Step seven
The final step in my daily makeup routine. I usually spend a few seconds using the eyelash curler on each eye.  Next, I generously apply some black mascara. I have naturally long lashes, so I like to use the mascara to increase their definition. I usually don't use water proof mascara because it's so hard to remove.  I generally use Bobbi Brown's mascara. You can find it on their website here



Friday, March 10, 2017

Current Lust List

There's nothing that I absolutely need to buy right now, but there are a few things that I have been eyeing up. You can find them below! 

I am a huge fan of athletic leggings. I've been trying to find these Lilly leggings on sale. They are adorable. They can take a bland athleisure outfit to the next level. I also have been eyeing up those Athleta leggings. I like to the pattern play they have. 

Since our trip to Georgetown, I cannot thinking about this gingham dress. I tried it on the other day at my local Anthropologie. It looks even cuter on than it does on the website. I just can't justify spending that much of a dress that I'm not sure when exactly I would wear. 

I have one set of short/t-shirt pajamas, but I have been hunting for another pair. If only these shorts had a matching top to go with them. They are a decent price and adorable. The pink ones are my favorite. 

Deep in my heart I will always love Alpha Delta Pi. What better duo than Alpha Delta Pi and Kiel James Patrick. This bracelet is absolutely perfection. It's been on my wish list for quite some time now. 

I have been searching for the perfect pair of loafers for quite some time now. Recently Sam Edelman came out with this pair. I like that they are backless. The tassels on them just make these shoes. 

I'm a sucker for a good Lilly Pulitzer dress. The most recent collection came to my mailbox last week in the form of a catalog. I have been crushing on this dress. I like the colors and the cut of the dress. 

What's on your current lust list?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Creating a Personal Uniform

Let's have a little chat about why creating a personal uniform will actually make your life easier. Have you ever wasted time in the morning by standing in front of your closet scrounging for the perfect outfit to wear, but after throwing something on and running out the door you're still not satisfied? too. I can definitely say searching for something to wear has made me late at least a time or two. Aside from picking my outfits ahead of time for the week, I have also found that creating a personal uniform is helpful. This personal uniform helps me to save time, minimizes morning stress, and provides me with a signature look. Three things that are pretty valuable. 

Most people hear the word uniform and think of two things: sports teams or catholic school.  This personal uniform is neither of these things.  Additionally, a common thought is that a uniform is pretty dull. Contrary to belief, this personal uniform will help you be consistent and fun in your fashion choices. Thus giving people a way to remember you. Think about some large icons- Jackie Kennedy was known for her distinct style, Mark Zuckerberg and his plethora of gray t-shirts, and Vera Wang's constant get up of leggings and tunics just to name a few. The personal uniform does not  have to consist of you wearing the same exact outfit everyday. However it is what you create it to be- there are no rules. Below are the simple steps I took to build my uniform. Your steps might be different, but my hope is that these will at least inspire you to begin. 

Gather inspiration
I began by creating a pinterest board filled with outfits, color palettes, and patterns that I liked. After an extended time of pinning, I sorted through the pins to get rid of the ones that just didn't seem to belong. Doing this helped me come up with a central theme for my uniform.  

Eventually, I created pinterest boards based on the seasons. Overall, my color palette stays the same, but the articles of clothing change based on the temperature. My theme seems to be classic prep featuring hues of blues, white, grays, and pinks. As far as patterns go you will be able to find lots of stripes, a ton of plaid, and a little bit of leopard as well as polka dots. 

Create guidelines
Use the theme you're looking to achieve to set guidelines for the pieces you'll add to your wardrobe. My advice would be to stick to the classics rather than the trendy stuff. 

My guidelines were to find pieces that I could mix and match rather than something I could only wear with one top.  Additionally, I tried to stick with the themes I created too. 

Find your signature accessories and stick to them
Choose a few go to accessories and wear them continuously. You honestly don't need a hundred pairs of different earrings, the same Kendra Scott necklace in every color, nor a ton of headbands.  Less is more when it comes to accessorizing.  Keeping your accessories to a minimum ensures that they match your theme, allows you to spend less time focusing on how you will accessorize each day, and it gives you something to remembered by. 

This was an easy thing for me to figure out. I am known for my love of pearl and monograms. My signature accessories would be stud earrings, a peal necklace, a simple silver bracelet, my Fitbit, and something monogrammed (either my necklace or ring). 

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. 

Crop tops have been all the rage the last few years. I've kindly declined to jump on the crop top train. They don't flatter my figure plus they make me feel super self conscious. Another article of clothing that I refuse to wear are denim shorts. They just don't fit my style plus I find them incredibly uncomfortable. 

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. 

In the past few years I have opted for more expensive shoes. They are all timeless looking, top quality, and will last me longer than a cheaper version. 

So what does my personal uniform look like?
I have a business casual uniform. You can checkout some of those looks here.  They mainly consist of nude or black shoes, stripes, and cardigans.  My weekend uniform consists of athleisure (black leggings, sneakers, and an oversized long sleeve shirt) or something casual (jeans, a simple top, a comfortable over sized cardigan, and booties). 

I hope these tips and tricks will help inspire you to create your own uniform. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March '17 Playlist

It's time to jam out in March. I've definitely been playing Ed Sheeran's new album on repeat lately. You can find some of his new songs on this month's playlist. This is the perfect playlist to put on while you're conquering that never ending to do list or driving around.


What's on your playlist this month?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Tips for Conquering an Early Morning Gym Session

Making time to workout can definitely be a struggle when you live a busy lifestyle. I don't know about you, but I definitely need to make time to get to the gym even when I'm busy.  Working out provides me with more energy, positivity, and clarity. When I don't make time for a workout, I definitely don't feel as good throughout my day.  Sometimes our only option for getting to the gym is early in the morning, when it is still dark out and most people are still sleeping. It's definitely not an easy task to wake up earlier than you have to, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you make it to those early morning gym sessions.  Establishing a routine the night before and the morning makes a huge difference!

Plan your workout schedule
Take some time at the beginning of the week to plan your weekly workouts. Taking the time to do this will save you time later on. Plus when you have a plan there's less excuses for why you will be skipping a workout. I usually write my schedule down in my planner along with the times of any specific classes I'll be attending. If I'm doing any lifting, then I usually make a note in my phone with the exercises and number of reps. My typical workout schedule includes a combination of running, yoga, and spin classes. The frequency of each type of exercise varies from week to week depending on how my personal schedule fits with the fitness class schedule.

Find a Fitness Buddy
It's much easier to make sure you get to those workouts when you have an accountability partner. This person doesn't need to be someone who will be doing an identical workout as you, but more so it  is someone to hold you accountable. It helps if this person actually goes to the gym at the same time as you. However, it could be a friend who lives far away that you check in with regularly.  This accountability  partner will help motivate you to never miss a workout.  There seems to be something about reporting to someone other than yourself that forces you to get to the gym.  Sometimes my accountability comes from my friends via our weekly FitBit challenges.

The night before...
There are several things that you can do the night before an early morning workout to make sure you get out of bed to get to the gym. These simple steps will save you time in the morning.

Pick out your outfit
No, you don't need to be a fashion model at the gym. Laying out your clothes will just save you a few minutes in the morning. I like to lay my outfit out on my desk, so that as soon as my alarm goes off I can just hop out of bed and put them on. I usually pick out my shirt, sports bra, socks, pants, and sneakers. If you're in need of some new workout wear, then definitely head over to Fabletics for some cute and comfy athletic attire.

Gather Your Supplies
It's helpful to put everything you will need to bring with you in one place. I personally don't like to bring a bunch of stuff with me to the gym. I usually will wear a sweatshirt with zip up pockets or bring a small pouch to hold my essential items.  I like to bring headphones, my license, gym membership card, inhaler, chapstick, and a small snack to eat afterwards.
 I use a Vera Bradley Large Zip Cosmetic Bag for my small gym "bag".

I also recommend filling up your water bottle and gathering your pre/post workout snacks. I put my pre workout snack next to my clothes, so that I can eat it while I'm getting ready. I tend to put my post workout snack in my bag that goes to the gym with me.  It's important to fuel yourself both before and after working out. This will make sure you have enough energy to make it through your day after working out.

Set Your Alarm
Before heading to bed, make sure you set your alarm. I like to use an obnoxious tone for the alarm to that it ensures I get out of bed. Another tip is to set your phone across the room, so that you are forced to get out of bed to turn it off. I'm definitely guilty of pressing the snooze button too many times or accidentally turning the alarm off rather than pressing snooze. You're more likely to make it to the gym when you get up and out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off (the first time).

I hope this helps you get out of bed and get to the gym!
I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for getting that early workout in.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Before Bed Routine

I don't know about you, but I love reading about others' daily routines. I think it's fascinating to find out what people do on a daily basis. I am a huge fan of routines, so I'm always looking to better mine.  I figured I would start my nightly routine in the afternoon (around 4:30), since this is usually when I get home from working (substitute teaching or working at my retail job). 

After I get a snack (popcorn or chips and salsa), I usually head upstairs to unload my bag and get changed. My go to outfit is usually some type of athleisure (yoga pants and a comfy sweatshirt). I then head to the bathroom to take off my makeup and wash my face. I usually use Burt's Bees Makeup Remover Wipes, wash my face with this Clinique face wash, followed by Clinique Step 2 toner, grape seed hydrating spray, and OSEA moisturizer. Washing my face after a long day is quite refreshing. I like to wash it earlier in the night because it ensures that I take my makeup off before bed. After washing my face, I usually end up throwing my hair up in a high ponytail or messy bun.

During the gap of time between getting changed and eating dinner, I like to unwind a little bit. I will catch up on any TV shows from the night before. Yes, reality TV shows on Bravo are my guilty pleasure.  I like to use this time to relax before getting things done. You can usually find me watching tv, knitting, reading, browsing pinterest, catching up on the social media I missed during the day, or taking a quick power nap. Anyone else a fan of a quality 20 minute power nap?

Prepping dinner. I usually make dinner or help my mom make dinner. Within the past month, I have taken on a larger role in the kitchen due to my mom's busy schedule/ post work long to do lists. I am a huge fan of cleaning up as much as possible before I eat dinner. It just seems to make things so much easier after dinner. 

At some point while making dinner, I take a break to feed Brody and let him out. Once dinner is cleaned up, I like to spend some time playing with him. He still has tons of puppy energy!

After dinner, I like to work on my blog while binge watching something on Netflix. My current show is Grey's Anatomy. I use this time to schedule tweets, draft posts, and read some of my favorite blogs.  I tend to be a more focused writer in the morning, so I try to use this time to edit my posts and schedule future posts. I know you're not supposed to eat after dinner, but I do love a small sweet treat after dinner.  I tend to snack on something small during this blogging time. 

After I put my computer away, I like to take out my agenda to make a game plan for the next day. I generally use this time to figure out what I'll be wearing, pack my tote, pack my lunch, and set my clothes out for the next day.  Doing this makes the following morning go much smoother, especially if I'm planning to squeeze in an early morning gym session.  When I feel prepared for my day, I then head to the bathroom to brush my teeth and remove any jewelry I might still be wearing.  

By this time, it's time for my favorite part of the night- before bed cuddles with my puppy. We usually lay in my bed and finish watching whatever episode of Grey's Anatomy is on, read, and then fall asleep. This is a typical work week night for me right now. I'm sure once I start teaching it will be filled with more school work than relaxing, but for now I am taking full advantage of this laid back nights. 

I'd love to hear if your nightly routine it similar or different than mine!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Favorites

I feel like February just began, but somehow it's the last day of the month. This past month has been quite eventful for me. Those quiet days, in January, that had me stir crazy are actually sounding appealing now. February was definitely a much busier month. I started substitute teaching more, working at my part time job again as the weather got nicer and business picked up, celebrated my birthday, continued my fitness journey, experienced some personal things, and began my first official interview process.  The month was filled with many ups and downs for me, but I did have a few favorites come out of it. 

Birthday Cake
My birthday falls in February. In case you missed it, I turned 23 this month. You can check out my post here. My mom has pretty much always made my birthday cakes. This year she tried out a new recipe to make an ice-cream cake.  Let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious. The bottom layer was a half baked chocolate chip cookie that was just heavenly.

Bobbi Brown Finish Illuminating Powder
This month I added a new step to my daily makeup routine. I felt like I was in need of a little more color and sparkle. My mom helped me find the perfect powder to accomplish this. Bobbi Brown's Nude finish illuminating powder was able to do this for me. On the weekends, I'll just put this on by itself and it does the trick for a simple face of makeup.

Cold Play + The Chainsmokers 
Anyone else obsessed with this combination? I have been playing their song on repeat since it has come out.  Without a doubt my favorite song from this month. If you haven't heard it, then you can check it out here.

This after school snack 
Almost two years ago, I shared this recipe with you guys.  Lately, it has been my go to snack when I get home from teaching.  It even makes for a great snack the next day when I can't finish it all at once.

Weekend Getaway
This past weekend, Todd and I were able to get away for the weekend. We spent two days and one night exploring Washington D.C. It was a much needed weekend away to forget about life's current stressors and just hit the reset button.  Having someone to go on adventures with definitely makes life more exciting.  More details to come on the trip in the upcoming weeks!

101 in 1001 Update:
This month I was able to cross four items off of my list. I mailed a care package filled with cookies to my brother and his girlfriend (what college student doesn't love a sweet treat and some snail mail?), went a month without purchasing anything outside of the necessities, visited a museum, and I published a collaboration blog post (check it out here).

What were your favorites from this month?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

DIY Dog Biscuits

It's National Dog Day! I am such a dog lover, but not one of those crazy obsessive righteous one. I just love my puppies and love to spoil them. I have always grown up with dogs. My parents had a dog before I was born, Max. Max was around for the first fourteen years of my life. He was a Black Lab/ Border Collie mix.  He was a fun dog for most of his life, but as he grew older he became a little grouchy. When I was about seven years old, we adopted a Golden Retriever, Mocha, that dropped out of a program to help those in need because he refused to train.  Mocha was the most lovable dog. He let us dress him up and cuddle with him endlessly. I think my brother and I were convinced that he was actually Air Bud from the famous Disney movie. When I turned ten, I had saved up enough money (I think) to buy my own dog. I wanted a dog that I could "carry around with me". I ended up finding an add for Yorkshire Terrier puppies during my search, and my parents went with me to pick up our perfect puppy, Riley.  He was fifteen pounds and thought he was the size of a Great Dane. He was probably my family's favorite dog. Sadly, we lost him about five months ago. You can read about that tragedy here. I haven't been able to write a post about him and losing a pet because it still feels too new and hurts. 

Anyways, on a more happier note. If you've been following along, then you know that we now have two new puppies in our family. Todd and I got a Goldendoodle, Brody, in October. My parents got a Mini Goldendoodle, Graham, in November. They have brought so much love and happiness to our home.  We enjoy taking them for walks, throwing the ball at the dog park, watching them play, taking them to pictures with Santa, buying them new toys, and cuddling with them. You can read about what life with puppies is like here and here. Every day is a different adventure when it comes to having a fourth month and six month old puppies.

If you want to keep up with their adventures, then be sure to follow them on Instagram!

Today we are celebrating National Dog Day with homemade dog treats. The boys seemed to love this recipe...then again they will eat just about anything. 

I thought I would leave you with a few pictures of the puppies.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Overcoming Homesickness in College

First of all, know that it is totally normal to be feeling this way.  I think almost everyone goes through a period of being homesick at some point in their life. For most of us, the first time we encounter this awful feeling is during college. College is the first time that you spend a significant amount of time away from the place you grew up in. It can be a challenge to break out of your comfort zone, meet new people, discover who you are, establish your own routines, and succeed while being away from the support system you've had for so long. It's important to know that your support system is still there, but you need to reach out to them to let them know that you need them. I think it's more common to be homesick in the spring semester rather than the fall semester. In the fall, everything is new and exciting. However, in the spring it's not so new and exciting. Plus the colder weather keeps you trapped inside rather than being out and about having fun. Today I'm sharing some tips to overcoming this homesickness. By no means am I a professional, so these tips are just things that have helped me and people I know.  If your homesickness is more serious, then I recommend seeking professional help because it could be something more serious.

Understand this is a normal feeling
Like I said at the beginning of this post, this is a normal feeling to have. It's important to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. Most of us experience homesickness at some point in college. The degree varies from person to person, but I'm willing to bet more people share these feelings than you'd think. Learning to acknowledge and accept your homesickness is helpful in dealing with it.

Get used to new surroundings
The more comfortable you get with your new campus and the surrounding area, the better off you will be.  Take some time to walk around campus, find some places you like to eat, discover a great study spot, and figure out things you like to do there.

Create your own space- a home away from home
Make your room a place you feel safe and relaxed in. This is your home away from home, so it actually needs to feel like it.  I recommend decorating it and adding items that make it feel happy to you. For me, I liked to have pictures and quotes hanging up. Additionally, having a clean and organized space was helpful.

Stay connected- but not too connected

Yes, it is important to stay in touch with your family and friends from back home. However, there should be a balance in the amount of communication. It's going to take some trial and error to find this balance, but I can assure you it is important to discover it. No, I'm not saying you should never call home, but doing it multiple times everyday isn't the best either. Talking with friends and family 24/7 while at college will prevent you from living in the moment.  It won't allow you to truly enjoy college.  Additionally, too much communication might make you feel like you're missing out on experiences at home- thus making your homesickness worse.  Instead, I would find a regular time to chat with family and friends. Maybe every Wednesday you and your BFF FaceTime, several times a week you chat with your parents, and every morning you text someone else.  Regardless, you need to find balance in order to stay in touch with friends and family without losing out on your college experience.

Talk to other people on campus
Sharing with your friends how you feel might help you deal with overcoming this.  They will be able to support you and force you out of your comfort zone a little bit.  If you don't tell them, then they might wonder why you are being so distant. You also could consider talking to your advisor or the campus counselor.

Make time for sadness but not too much time
It's okay to be sad sometimes, but it's definitely not okay to allow yourself to be in a constant state of sadness. Letting your feelings out every once in awhile is good because it prevents you from bottling everything up inside. Sometimes you might actually feel better after letting it all out. Being sad all the time will prevent you from being happy as well as create a pessimistic outlook on college.

Get involved
Getting involved on campus and the community will definitely help make things better. Take some time to look at the clubs your campus has to offer. Attend a few meetings to see if these clubs are a good fit for you.  This will help you meet more people and become busier. When you are busier, you have less time to dwell on missing home.

Stay positive
Last but not least, try to stay positive. This won't alway be easy, but it will help you get through things much easier.  Sometimes in life we have to fake it until we make it.  If you are able to convince yourself that you are happy, then it might just work.

Best of luck!