Monday, September 11, 2017

September 2017 Playlist


We are closer to mid September than I realized. Time is truly flying by.  The past few weeks I have been spending up to two hours a day in my car thanks to my commute to work.  Back in early August I was officially hired to teach middle school Language Arts at a fabulous school district.  The school I work at is about 50 minutes away from my house without traffic.  After a little bit of thought, I decided to suck it up and make the drive twice a day.  I thought it would better to stay at home with my parents for another year until I can bank enough money to purchase a house.  Plus I only have a one year contract, so I want to be positive that I'm staying there before I commit to up and moving. You're probably catching my drift by now, but I spend a lot of time in my car.  One of the essentials to a successful commute is a great playlist. I absolutely despise radio commercials, so you can usually find me scanning through the Sirius Radio stations or listening to my newest playlist on Spotify. 


What's on your current playlist?
XOXO

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Bye-Bye Summer, See You Next Year

And that's a wrap!  I doughnut want summer to end. Although summer doesn't officially end for another few weeks, I think most of us can agree that Labor Day is really the end of the season. After Labor Day we seemed to be bombarded with everything related to Fall, back to school shenanigans, and the weather begins to change. Our summer vacations have come and gone, and before we know it we will be preparing for the holiday season.

The past few months seemed to fly by.  When I look back at it, the Summer seems like a blur. It was filled with lots of fun and a little bit of stress (aka the job hunt). I was able to have a girls' beach weekend, spend a week in Charleston, discovered my love for spin class, found out how great yoga can be for the mind and body, read some great books, play field hockey, truly live and learn how things happen for a reason, and spent time with the people that I love. I'm sad to see the Summer go, but I'm excited to see what's to come.
...

Anyone else get the Sunday scaries yesterday and realize that it wasn't actually Sunday? Yesterday I spent half the day shopping and the other half conquering my to do list.  Somewhere in between these tasks, I began thinking how Labor Day Monday is really like the Sunday of Summer. It symbolizes the season coming to an end and school beginning again.  It's a time of transition filled with endless possibilities. 

This year the "Sunday of Summer" had my head spinning. Today is the day that essentially everything I've been so hard to achieve comes true.  Today is my first day of school as a teacher. It's honestly unreal when I actually take a minute to think about it.  As I get ready this morning, I am filled with so many emotions- excitement, a little anxiety, and pure joy!
...

Wishing you a fabulous work week!

XOXO


Friday, August 25, 2017

Let's Have Coffee


Happy Friday my friends! It's been two months since we've had a coffee date, so I thought it was time we schedule another one.  If you missed my last coffee date, then you can check it out here. Lots has happened this summer and I'm sure y'all have a lot to share as we transition into a new season. Grab your favorite go-to beverage right now and have a seat. Read a little bit, then participate by commenting or tweeting with your responses.  

What's your current go-to beverage?
While I was away on vacation a couple weeks ago, I found the most perfect coffee shop.  They had great breakfast/lunch foods and beverages. I actually drank their coffee black not once but twice.  Their iced coffee was so amazing that I didn't even feel the need to add cream nor sugar.  This is seriously big deal if you've ever seen me make my cream and sugar with coffee.... I mean coffee with cream and sugar. If you're ever in Charleston, South Carolina check it out! 

Do you have any last minute plans for the last little bit of summer?
Next week, I'll be working four days at my big girl job. We start our teacher in-service days... full days filled with meetings, curriculum planing, and a chance to meet some of my students. I'll be spending the most of the last bit of summer by working and making sure everything is ready to go for the first day of school.  However, I do have some fun plans too. I'll be going to the Zac Brown Band Concert Labor Day Weekend. I'm looking forward to the last hoorah before school officially starts. 

Have you cooked anything good lately?
This summer my family seemed to have developed a slight obsession with penne all vodka. I highly recommend this recipe! It's really tasty plus way easier than you'd think to make. I would suggest adding a veggie to the dish- spinach, broccoli, or squash to the mixture. 

What are your current obsessions?
I'm currently loving La Croix Grapefruit water, fresh tomatoes from the garden, coaching field hockey, and my guilty pleasure has become watching Siesta Key. Anyone else shamelessly watching this downgraded version of The Hills?

Have you set any goals lately?
As I start a new school year filled with new opportunities and experiences, I am focused on setting goals that I can actually achieve. My goals are 100% centered around living a balanced life. I think it can be so easy for first year teachers to make their job their life. I really am trying to make sure this doesn't happen. Sure I'm passionate about what I will be doing, but I also recognize that balance is needed to avoid burnout. My goals are to eat breakfast everyday, workout at least three times each week, and make time for fun. 

Don't forget to participate by answering my questions via twitter or by commenting.  I can't wait to hear what y'all have to say and any questions you may have for me!

Enjoy your weekend! 
XOXO



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Summer Nanny


I've mentioned it a few times, but during the summer I work as a nanny for a family with two boys. This summer was my fifth with them.  It's funny to look back at how each summer has been a little different. It seems like during the summer everyone has a little bit of a different job and a different routine. I always find it interesting reading about what others' routines are when their job is different than mine. I thought it would be fun to share with you what my day usually looks like when I'm working. 


Before Work
Before work I usually workout or blog. It depends on the day and what my schedule looks like.  If I go to a spin class at night, then I will take advantage of the morning by getting a little blogging done or treating myself to an extra hour of sleep.  It usually takes me about 20 minutes to get ready for work. Since I usually end up running around outside, I just take a quick shower and throw on a tank with some norts.  I tend to make my breakfast and lunch before I head out for the day.  I like to eat my breakfast when I get to work because then I eat with the kids. 

Mornings
Now that the kids are older (upper elementary school-aged), the mornings are much more quiet. They usually have just woken up when I get there.  The first thing I do is make them breakfast. They usually like to chill out (watch TV, play video games, or on their iPad).  During this time, I make their breakfast. After I've cleaned up breakfast, then I usually read or get a little more blogging done. This summer, I've used the quiet time to apply to jobs. 

Mid- Morning
Usually mid-morning, the kids think of some "big activity" that they want to do that day.  This could be anything from baking something, which friend they want to have over, what movie they want to watch, to what trampoline park they want to go to. Regardless, I try to make the fun activity happen. I'll look for coupons or checkout the weather to make sure we're not going to get stuck in a storm while spending an afternoon at the pool.  Once we figure out what the afternoon will look like, then I make them breakfast and we eat together. 

Afternoons
The afternoons are usually reserved for fun.  This summer we've spent afternoons swimming, at a trampoline park, at a local park, going to the movie theatre, baking, watching a movie, playing games, going to the skatepark, or just playing outside. The last hour I'm there is generally the hottest point in the day, so the kids tend to gravitate towards staying inside.  They typically watch tv or play video games.  While they hangout, I'll watch a movie with them or read.  

After work
After work my schedule changes daily.  On Mondays I usually go to spin and yoga classes at the gym.  On any other given night, you can find me walking my dog, swimming, taking a nap, watching Netflix, reading a book, blogging, or hanging out with family/friends. 

This week my schedule has actually changed. I'm beginning to establish new routines as I endure my first two days of new teacher orientation at my new job.  I'll miss the laid back nature of nannying, but I think I'm ready to get into more set of a routine plus salary pay!

What part of your summer job will you miss the most as we transition to Fall?
XOXO

Monday, August 21, 2017

Charleston Summer Packing List

I don't know about you, but whenever I'm going somewhere new the first question that pops into my head is, "What should I wear?" I mean seriously anything new- a restaurant I haven't been to, a sporting event, a new store, vacation, etc. Anybody else with me?


So naturally once my family decided on the date and location of our summer family vacation, my first instinct was to start looking up what to wear. I consulted with pinterest, several blogs, and my friends who had been there before.  I had some what of an idea of what to bring, but I wasn't 100% sure.  The weeks leading up to our trip, I kept a list on my phone of possible outfits and I stalked the weather to compare it to where we live.  After doing my "research" I decided I was finally ready to pack the day before we left for our trip.



Just a few pro tips for packing for a trip:
Make sure all of your laundry is done before you start packing. 
There's nothing worse than going to pack an outfit just to find that the top is dirty.  Plus, it's always nice to come home to clean clothes rather than dirty laundry.

Check the weather
Chance are the pictures you see of your destination are always on the days filled with beautiful weather. News flash, the weather isn't always as it seems in the perfect picture.

Pack outfits rather than random items
Packing outfits rather than random shorts and tops makes packing much more efficient. This also prevents you from hitting the bump in the road while you're on vacay getting ready for dinner and you realize you don't have the right top or undergarments to match the skirt you brought.

Less is More
Mix and match. Don't be afraid to re-wear items.  Pack some basics that way you don't have to pack as many clothing pieces.  If the place your staying has a washer and dryer, then you will be able to wash your clothes!

Roll your clothes
If you roll your clothes, then you can actually fit more in your bag and your items won't get wrinkled.



XOXO


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Adulting {Months 6-8}

It's time for another adulting update.  Last time I talked about my adulting adventures was in May, and lots has happened since then.  Rather than breaking it down by month, I decided to switch things up by events. 

The Job Hunt
June, July, and August have been such an emotional roller coaster for me. This summer my focus has been on landing a teaching contract. I have spent most of my time and energy into achieving this goal. 

 If you are a teacher, someone you know is a teacher, or you've read about becoming a teacher, then you're aware of not only how hard it is to find a job but how brutal the interview process can be. Well, if not then I give you a little glimpse into the process.  I'm blessed to live in an area with great school districts that treat their teachers pretty well, pay well, provide safe learning environments for students, and have an abundance of resources. That being said, everyone and their mom wants to teach in my area, which makes landing a contract pretty difficult.  As a teacher fresh out of college with very limited experience it can be tricky to even land an interview.  I applied to close to 40 different positions by the end of July.  During July, I had only been invited to interview for five of those positions. Some of them fizzled out after round one while others I endured anywhere from three to five rounds before being denied. The school I thought I was being hired at decided to go with a candidate that had more experience.  At the time, I was disappointed but I still had other options on the table. Everyone told me that things happen for a reason we just don't always know the reason why until later on. 

Well,  I have found my reason.  I didn't give up and I continued to persevere despite feeling a little defeated.  I continued on and ended up being one of the final two candidates at two great districts.  Last Monday, I left for my family vacation still unemployed and uncertain what would happen.  The following day, I woke up to a phonetical with an offer from a district.  They wanted to hire me as a long term substitute with a possible permanent contract once I complete my first year with them. I gladly accepted, which brings me to the news I promised I would share on Tuesday.  I am officially employed and will spend the upcoming school year as a sixth and eighth grade Language Arts teacher.  

I truly feel blessed to have been given this opportunity. I have many friends who are still searching for a job.  I am excited, nervous, and maybe a tad bit overwhelmed thinking about everything I need to accomplish while simultaneously not knowing all that exactly needs to be done. So here I am today with a big girl job making big girl decisions like what insurance plan is best for me and how much life insurance I need to have. I'm sure the next month will be nothing short of crazy, but I am excited to continue my adulting journey. 


Fun Adventures
I've been job hunting, nannying, and working here and there at my retail job, but I promise this summer hasn't been all work and no play.  I've spent several weekends at the beach, a week in South Carolina, celebrated National Ice-cream Day, spent some time by the pool, and was able to relax a little too. I definitely haven't crossed everything off my summer bucket list, and now that I'm prepping for the school year I realize I'm probably not crossing every item off.  However, I have been able to make homemade popsicles, watch fireworks on the beach, played mini golf, and read several books.

Adulting Month One
Adulting Month Four
Adulting Month Five



Now accepting advice on how to balance work and play!
XOXO




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pulse Check


Good morning. I hope y'all (apparently my vacation down South is rubbing off on me) had a fabulous week and your week has been off to a great start! While I don't have a full blog post for you to read today, I just wanted to do a quick check in- a pulse check. I thought this short post would be better than nothing at all because we all know how inconsistent of a blogger I can be when life gets crazy. 

Yes, I'm alive and well and home safe from vacation with my family.  After taking an entire week off, I'm feeling more relaxed than I have in months. The trip was very much needed. Although, my head is already starting to spin with the changes that are about to happen in my life. I have a lot going on in the next fews weeks and a to do list that might be close to impossible to accomplish. The month of July was an emotional roller coaster for me, but now that it is over I have some exciting news to share with you.  I'll be doing a big reveal for you by the end of the week, but in the mean time I wanted to leave you with a few pictures from my vacation!




XOXO

Friday, August 11, 2017

What to Watch on Netflix



Happy Friday! Congratulations, you've survived the work week and (almost) the second week in August.  I don't know about where you live, but where I live it's been pretty hot and humid outside lately.  The hot sticky weather does not make me want to spend time outside.  It seems like everyone has been looking for things to occupy their time that don't require them to be out in the hot sun. 

Watching Netflix. It's not the most productive task, but it's summer so it's okay to relax a little bit without feeling too guilty.  Everything in moderation, right? I'll be honest.. I'm not one to binge watch anything. I get bored when I want TV for long periods of time. However, I do like to watch an episode or two in a sitting.  It takes me what some people would consider forever to get through a series.  Example one, it took me almost an entire semester of college to get through Friday Night Lights. Example two, I've been watching Grey's Anatomy since November.. I'm still not caught up. I feel like everyone is always seeking recommendations for great shows and movies to watch, so today I'm sharing some of my favorites with you!



What are your favorites on Netflix right now?
XOXO



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Why I Love My Fitbit


When I sat down to write this post, I started to think back to when I first got my Fitbit. It made me realize that I forgot what life was like before having this fabulous fitness tracker. I was originally reluctant to jump on the fitness tracker bandwagon. I thought it was quite silly to pay money just to count how many steps you walked in a day.  That was until I tried a Fitbit out.  Summer of 2015, my family and I took a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. By this point in time, my mom had the original Fitbit Flex for at least six months. She liked it but wore it off and on. While packing for the trip, I stumbled upon her Fitbit and asked if I could try it out for the weekend. If you've been to D.C. or live(d) in D.C., then you know how much walking is involved in a single weekend! With all the walking, I instantly fell in love with checking how far we had gone, how many steps we had taken, and how many floors we had climbed. After a busy weekend, I knew what the newest addition to my wish list would soon be. 

The next month or so I did some research on the best fitness trackers. It seemed to be the popular opinion was that Fitbit was the way to go.  I knew I wanted a tracker with a screen, so that I could time my runs and see how far I had run without having to check my phone.  I figured out that I wanted the Fitbit Charge.  I was lucky enough to receive as a gift from my boyfriend that October.  It was great. It lasted about a year and half. I wore it almost every day.  In December, it started not to hold a charge for extended amounts of time and the band was literally falling apart. Luckily, Fitbit has great customer service. Although, my warranty had expired they were able to give me a discount to purchase a new tracker. I chose to treat myself with my graduation money to the Fitbit Charge 2.  I actually have learned to love this tracker more. It has a large screen, tracks my heart rate more accurately, and has a few extra features like guided breathing to help calm you down. 


So, if you're on the fence I would definitely recommend purchasing a Fitbit. I have so many reasons why I love mine!

Challenges
As someone who loves to win, I obviously enjoy a good competition.  The app allows you to participate in different types of fitness challenges with your friends.  These challenges have actually motivated me to take the stairs, park further away, go for an extra gym session, and be a little healthier. 

Goal Oriented
I'm a huge goal setter. The Fitbit app helps you set personal goals for yourself and allows you the option to keep them private or share them with your friends. Regardless of your choice, you are provided with constant encouragement and motivation.  Even when I'm not in a challenge, I feel motivated to meet my goal of 10,000 steps daily. 

The app
In general, the app is pretty useful. It allows you to track your weight, calories consumed and burned, how much water you have drank, your heart rate pattern during a workout, how active you were each hour, and how well you slept. The app really provides you with some great tools to lead to a healthier lifestyle all for free!

Overall, I would say my Fitbit has motivated me to live a healthier lifestyle. 

XOXO


Monday, August 7, 2017

Creative Ways To Use Your Agenda

Now that we are a week into August, I hope you have found the perfect planner. If you haven't, then no worries you can check out my guide to finding the perfect planner. So by now, most of you have been using your new agenda for a week.  You're finally acquainted with the single item that contains your everyday needs for surviving a busy lifestyle.  Or you might be one of those people who opts for a new year new agenda, and now you're six months into your planner.  Regardless, it's time to start using your agenda to the maximum! 


I've come to realize how many different purposes an agenda can have.  It's so much more than a place to write down important dates, meetings, and reminders. Check out my suggestions for getting the most out of your planner!

Daily Schedule: This is an obvious way to use your agenda.  Write down your schedule every day to make sure you don't forget a meeting or a class. 

Daily To Do Lists: Create a to do list each day with everything you want to accomplish. 

Goal Setting: Chances are if you are the type of person to utilize an agenda, then you are a goal setter.  Use your planner to keep track of the progress you have made towards achieving your goals. 

TV Shows: Keep track of when your favorite shows are on TV. Make a little note so you never forget. 

Inspiration:  Jot down an inspiring quote at the top of each week. You can never have enough motivation. 

Packing Lists: Use the notes section to prepare for your next weekend getaway. Creating your packing lists in your agenda allows you to refer back to them when you pack for the same location in the future. 

Budgeting: Write out your monthly budget in the calendar lay out. 

Track your spending: Write down what you've spent each day. At the end of the month, you will be able to see how much you spent and where. 

Workout Schedule: Keep track of your workouts.  You'll never fail to forget to go to the gym nor what exercises you ddi during that really great workout at the gym two weeks ago. 

Bill Due Dates: Gross. Not what you want to hear, but a great way to make sure you always pay your bills on time. 

Meal Planning: The perfect place to plan your meals each week.  

Remember important dates:  The perfect location to keep all the important dates you need to know (anniversaries/ birthdays/holidays). 

Mini Phone Book: Write down any important numbers and addresses you may need in the notes section or on the date you actually need them. 

Wedding Planning: If you're getting married or you are in a wedding party, then you know how many dates there are to keep track of. 

Water Intake: I like to keep track of how much water I drink each day.  Not getting enough water explains a lot of things. 

Crafting: If you use a Lilly Pulitzer agenda, then you definitely can recycle it for crafting. There are so many different crafts involving recycled agendas on Pinterest.  You can check out how I recycled an old agenda here. 

Interview Tool: I like to use the notes section to reflect after my interviews. I write down every question that I was asked, how i felt after the interview, what outfit I wore,  and any random notes I might have.  

What are the creative ways you use your agenda?
XOXO


Friday, July 28, 2017

What's in My Beach Bag

What's in my bag blog posts are one of my favorite to both read and write.  I always find it fun to explore what people take with them for different occasions. It's neat to learn about different products, habits, and what people consider to be their essential items. This weekend is the last weekend in July. There are so many people I know who are planning to head to the beach, are away on vacation this week, or are packing to head out for a vacation in the next few weeks. I thought this would be the perfect time to share this post with you all! 


I have loved going to the beach ever since I was young. According to my mom, even when I was a baby I loved hanging out and playing in the sand.  Growing up, my summers were always filled with day trips, weekend getaways, and an occasional full week spent at the beach.  We are lucky enough to live about two hours away from Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey beaches, which makes short trips more than doable.  It's pretty easy to wake up, pack up, and head out for a two hour car ride to spend a day on the beach.  

Last week I was lucky enough to do a girls' weekend at the beach with several of my friends from college.  Spending time at the beach with three other people made me realize how different each person's beach routine is. Everyone seems to have a different beach philosophy when it comes to how  they spend their day at the beach...

Getting there early and leaving early vs. Getting there later and staying later vs. Getting there early and staying later

 Bring snacks with you vs. buy something from the snack shack or boardwalk

Spend the day laying out on a towel vs. hanging out on a beach chair

 Bringing water in plastic bottles vs. a swell bottle

Applying sunscreen vs. tanning oil

Spending the day on the sand vs. in the water

Lounging around all day vs. being up and active

Umbrella vs. no umbrella

Beach blanket vs. beach towel

Beach naps vs. staying awake all day

I think you are starting to get the point. Anyways, I feel like what people pack in their beach bag is pretty reflective of their beach philosophy. 

 My beach philosophy includes a long day whether it's going early and staying later or going later and staying later, a beach chair, a beach towel, bringing snacks, bringing a reusable water bottle, applying and reapplying sunscreen, spending most of the day on the sand and dipping my toes in the water, spending most of the day in the sun with maybe an hour under the umbrella. and definitely a few short beach naps throughout the day. So how does my beach bag reflect my beach philosophy?



Cover Up
I have a slight cover up obsession. I am a huge fan of sporting a cute cover up to the beach and on the beach rather than a pair of shorts or an oversized tee. Cover ups are great because they are airy, easy to throw on, and they are adorable.  If it gets chilly, then I throw it on top of my bathing suit, or if I feel like I'm burning up I will put it on to prevent my skin from getting burnt. My favorite cover ups have come from JCrew Factory. You can usually find them during a sale for $30 or less!

Sun Glasses
What's a day on the beach without a pair of sunglasses. I'm sure they are a must in your beach bag too! My current go to shades have been these Ray Ban Classic Clubmasters that I got last Christmas as a gift.

Snacks
Whenever I go to the beach, I spend a long time actually on the beach. Part of the reason I'm able to do this is because I pack so many snacks. Some of my go to beach snacks include cheese and crackers, fruit, chips and salsa, chicken salad and lettuce, popcorn, trail mix, chips/ veggies with hummus, and pretzels.  Last weekend my go to snacks were grapes, cantaloupe, and popcorn.

Sun hat
This summer my sun hat has been a new addition to my beach bag.  I have pretty fair skin, so I burn rather easily.  I have tons of freckles, and I'm not trying to get too many more if I can prevent it.  Since my mom had cancer, my awareness of sun protection has increased. Wearing a hat is a great way to keep the sun off your face while looking fashionable.  This year we found adorable hats that have UPF 50 in them.  They come in a wide range of colors and are very flexible, which makes them easy to pack in any tote.  You can check out my hat here.

Water bottle
This is such a beach essential.  Spending all day in the hot sun puts you at risk for dehydration.  It's so important to stay hydrated while basking in the sun on the beach. I always bring my 32 oz. Hydro Flask to the beach. I fill it half full with ice and the rest with water. It stays cold all day regardless of how hot it is.

Book
One of my favorite things to do is read on the beach. I never spend a day on the beach without a book. Sometimes I can read an entire novel while other days I read a few pages before dozing off. Regardless, I always have a book with me. If you're looking for your next beach read, then check out my summer reading list. 


Wet Suit Clutch
I found this little bag at the outlets this spring. It is lined, so you could put your wet swim suit in it or it could protect your belongings you don't want to get wet at the pool or beach. This pouch holds all the random things I don't want free floating in my bag.  I usually keep bobby pins, hair ties, sun screen, lip balm, headphones, money, my ID, hand wipes, tylenol, and face mist.

The hair accessories are great because you never know what kind of hair day you're going to have with the humidity at the beach.  As far as sun screen goes, I usually bring two types- a face cream and a spray. I always apply sunscreen before heading to the beach, so the spray allows me to reapply without getting too messy. I recently discovered a tinted lip balm that has SPF 35 in it. It smells great and adds a little color.  I like to bring essential oil lemon hand wipes to the beach. They are useful for wiping sand off, washing your hands, or just freshening up. Face mist is an essential for me because it cools me off without having to go in the water.

Other Random Items
Some other random items that I always have at the beach include a hair brush, a beach chair, and a beach towel. I like to bring a brush to tame my messy hair.  I pretty much spend all day in my beach chair, so I couldn't imagine not having one. I use a cheap backpack chair, but I'm thinking about splurging on a Tommy Bahama chair for next summer. This year another new discovery of mine was a beach blanket that doubled as a towel. One side is terrycloth and the other is cotton. It's perfect for the beach or the pool. I found mine at Nordstrom Rack but this is a similar one.

I'd love to hear what your beach day essentials are. Be sure to share with me by adding a comment.
Have a fabulous weekend!

XOXO


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Blogs Worth Bookmarking


Last week I shared with you that one of the things I did before I created my blog was to read blogs. To this day, one of my favorite things about blogging is still reading other blogs. I usually read blogs in the morning when I wake up and at night before dinner. I think it's fun to read what others have to say, gain inspiration, and learn new information.  On a daily basis, I read anywhere from five to fifty five different blogs depending on how much time I have. My reading list includes a wide range of bloggers from small start up blogs to big blogs that have tons of sponsorships. I find value in reading both types because I am able to learn from both. 

Today I wanted to share a list of some blogs that I frequently read. I'm always searching for a new blog to check out, so I thought most of you would enjoy learning about some new (to you) blogs as well. 

I go through phases of reading a ton of her posts and then I go awhile without.  Carly's blog was the first blog I remember ever reading. She's seriously blogger goals.  Her posts are a combination of sponsorships, guest bloggers, and her own content.  Her preppy style and life advice are a great source for inspiration. 

Cristina is a legit lifestyle blogger. She shares about all aspects of her life (healthy, beauty, anxiety, recipes, her constant moves, college, etc.). I love the variety in her content as well as the way she shares her honest views on different parts of life. As bloggers, we tend to sugar coat the negative aspects of life and paint a picture that is so far from our reality. Cristina does a fabulous job of being real with her readers. 

Another great lifestyle blogger. Fran just finished her freshman year of college and shares her daily life adventures. She has everything from fashion to food on her blog. I always enjoy her top ten posts she shares on a weekly basis. 

Dorothy's lifestyle blog is one of my absolute favorites. She is a year younger than me and shares a lot of commonalities (chapter president of her sorority, teacher, blogger). She has lots of great fashion posts, travel diaries, and book reviews. Her step into my week posts are always fun to read. 

Mary's blog is one that I have stumbled upon in the past few weeks. She has lots of fun posts about relationships, life advice, traveling, and more. Her blog is filled with fun GIFS, great photography, and has a fun layout. 

What are your favorite blogs to read?
XOXO

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Reading List

My goal for this year was to read a book each month. So far I have been able to do so successfully. This summer I've actually been able to read two to three books per month. Summer is hands down the time of year when I am able to get the most reading done. I am still busy in the summer months, but no school work is involved so it allows me more time to read. 

During the day I am a summer nanny. The children I look after are getting older and don't need to be entertained by me every minute of the day, which allows me to have more free time while watching them. My favorite activity to pass the time is to read. I can take a book anywhere we go- the pool, trampoline park, swim lessons, outside, inside, etc. The amount of reading I get done depends on the week, but there are some weeks when I am able to read at least a whole book. I try to read at night, but I usually get no further than ten pages and you will find me asleep with all the lights on. 

Most books I read during the summer are light beach reads.  I like mindless reading that has a happy ending. This summer I seem to be mixing it up a bit more with some thrillers and non fiction. 

Finished
"...Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions- be they food, or friendship, or music-never  go away, they just evolve and grow along with us."

"Every day the same. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their desk. She's even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life-as she sees it- is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. Until today. And then she see something shocking.."

"At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone."

Currently Reading: 
"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why."

What's Next:
"Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working a dead-end job, Mary is dating a nice guy with an awful mother, and Lauren is waitressing at a midtown bar and wondering why she's attracted to the sleazy bartender."

"In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling 
Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you're ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them - it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW."

"Is it really better to have loved and lost?  Louna's summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically.  But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged now that he's met the one he really  wants.  Maybe Louna's second chance is standing right in front of her."

Note: book descriptions are from Amazon

I'd love to hear about what books you've been reading this summer. I'm always looking for books to add to my reading list!

XOXO

Friday, July 21, 2017

Productivity Tips for the Summer

It's Friday! I don't know about you, but this week has felt really long for me! I worked all day Monday through Wednesday and then was preparing for an interview, which made it a bit of a stressful week. Anyways, I couldn't be happier that the weekend has arrived. Today is the start of my weekend. I took off and am headed for a girls' beach weekend from today through Sunday. I'm excited to have a little rest and relaxation time as well as catch up with friends I haven't seen in awhile. 

It's bittersweet that after this weekend there is only one more weekend left in the month of July.  We pretty much have one month left of summer.  I look back and wonder where the time has gone. I've spent the past month working two jobs, blogging, and getting my summer to do list conquered.  At the beginning of the summer, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Slowly but surely I have been crossing items off of this list. I've realized how getting one small thing done a day leads to a month full of productivity.  Today I thought I would share with you some productive things to do with your time this summer as well as some tips on how to actually be productive. 

If you don't have much going on this summer, then this list will help you make your days more productive. 



Now it's your turn, if you haven't made your list of productive items do so now.  Make a list of about ten items that you can actually accomplish. Impossible to do lists are not any good because they make you feel bad for not accomplishing all of the tasks plus this list is supposed to be filled with items you can actually do to feel productive the last half of this summer.  

Now that you have your productivity list, it's time to get started. How can you actually be productive? We all know that making a list is one thing, but actually accomplishing the tasks on your list is entirely different. We are all guilty of sitting on the couch binge watching out favorite Netflix show, scrolling through social media for what you think are a few minutes but ends up being an hour, or just napping the day away. Well, it's time to get moving and become productive. This summer I feel like I have been mastering this. I have been working two jobs, applying to full time teaching jobs, keeping up with my blog posts, taking adventures, and actually conquering my summer to do list. So yes, it is actually possible to be productive this summer, but you have to make it happen!

Get Dressed
Don't get me wrong, I love the little luxury of being able to spend summer days in my pajamas. However, there gets to be a certain point where you need to get dressed. Pajamas are fabulous, but they make you want to stay in bed our lounge around. When you're doing either of these things chances are you are not being productive. Putting on a cute outfit just motivates me on its own. By no means am I talking about putting on business casual attire just something other than your pajamas. In the summer, my go to is usually athleisure. 

Create a to do list
Each Sunday, I create a to do lists with the tasks that I want to accomplish throughout the week. I fill it with tasks that can actually be accomplished not with things that simply can't be done in the limited amount of free time I have. My weekly to do lists usually has no more than ten items on it. I write it down on a piece of paper, then break the tasks down by day in my agenda.  Weekly and daily to do lists will definitely help motivate you to be more productive.  Try to accomplish one to two items on the list a day, and then by the end of the week you will feel pretty good with all that you have gotten done!

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. Fine the time that your work best and schedule your tasks to be completed during this timeframe. 

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.  

Make Time For You
Part of being productive includes being inspired. Be sure to set aside time to do things for yourself. You don't need to be productive 24/7.  I like to make sure I have time to read each day as well as watch an episode of one of my favorite TV shows.  Taking breaks allows you to refresh yourself.  Some great breaks include reading, coloring, working out, catching up with a friend, or taking a 20 minute power nap. 

If you liked this post, then you may want to check these out:


What are your tips for being productive this summer?
XOXO



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Behind the Blog Name

When people discover that I'm a blogger, the first question I get is always what's the name of your blog. The second question I am usually am asked is why I chose the name that I did.  People commonly think that I love " the shore", which is true but there is more to it than that.


Let's start with how the blog came about..
I started blogging in January of 2013. It was winter break of my freshman year in college.  My college started the second semester a few weeks later than most of my friends who were attending universities in Pennsylvania.  My family had all gone back to work and school after enjoying the holidays, so I had a lot of free time. I took advantage of this time by doing a bit of reflection on the previous semester, where I was at in life, and began to think about what my future might look like.  I had done well in school, but there was definitely room for more improvement as I headed into the next semester. Although I did well, managed to play a college sport, and maintain a semi long distance relationship I still felt like something was missing. The semester required a lot of studying, practicing, lifting, attending meetings, and time spent at field hockey practice. With everything going on, I was in need of a creative outlet.  

I had been reading blogs for several months at the time because a college freshman can never get enough advice and what better advice is there than a great blogger. After reading blogs religiously, I thought it would be fun to start my own. I loved to write, take pictures, and network. It took some time to figure out where to even begin. Once I chose a platform, it was time to brainstorm what I would write about and what to call my corner of the internet.  I decided that I would share what I know the most about-navigating life as a college student.  Over time this has transitioned into just navigating life..another lifestyle blog written by a millennial. 

So how did the name come about? I played around with about twenty different names, but The Shore Life According to M just seemed to really stick with me. I was going to college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I loved the beach, and as a type A perfectionist I like to be sure of everything I do. I didn't want to commit to a name that was specific to a certain topic because I knew my blog would grow with me over time, and we tend to outgrow certain interests as we get older. 

While I only attended college on the Eastern Shore for a year, I chose to keep my blog name because it was here that I found my passion for writing, discovered who I am, set the long term goals I still am striving to achieve, set some of my core values, and began to transition from a child to an adult. I will always see my time on the Shore as a pivotal point in my life, so keeping this name honors that. Plus, for branding reasons I don't deem is necessary to change names. I like how it is unique and serves as a great conversation starter.  

XOXO

Monday, July 17, 2017

Planning for The Perfect Planner

Can you believe that we are closer to August than June? The summer is flying by. I was running some errands last week and I noticed that stores like Target and Walmart already have their big back to school displays up.  

* Cue the anxiety here* Currently, anything back to school related just reminds me how I am still job-hunting for a teaching job for the school year. We're about a month out from school starting and I am still searching. Anyways, I'll spare you from my anxious thoughts for now and continue on with something more exciting to read about- selecting the perfect planner. 

My love for agendas started back in high school. Post concussion, I had trouble remembering my assignments so I started writing things down in the agenda that was issued to us by school.  It slowly began to have more use to me than solely just a hall pass. My freshman year of college is when I truly relied on an agenda to get me through each day.  It became the place I kept track of important dates, assignments, wrote to do lists, and kept important information like passwords and class schedules. Throughout the rest of college I continued my love for agendas. I began to color code items and events, which was incredibly helpful. 

Last year I actually had two agendas. One that I used for lesson plans and student teaching related items, and the other agenda I used for personal use to keep track of social events, bills, blogging etc. I used two different styles of Lilly Pulitzer agendas for these.  

Around July each year, I begin my research to pick out the perfect planner(s) for the upcoming school year.  Over the years, I feel like I have become quite the expert. I've used several different types of agendas and have researched a good number of others.  I thought it would helpful to breakdown each agenda for you to help you decide the perfect planner for you whether you are still in high school or college, a teacher, a mom, a business woman, or just someone who needs some extra help organizing their life. 

$22-$35
These come in several different sizes. It is a seventeen month planner with monthly and weekly planning pages.  Each month has a side bar that allows you to jot down any important reminders.  There are sections for notes, packing lists for trips, and important dates.  There is a pocket folder at the front. A unique feature to the Lilly agendas is that they are filled with gorgeous artwork and inspiring quotes at the beginning of each month. Each agenda also comes with a set of stickers to help you plan out your life. 

$36
These only come in one size. They are fairly similar to the Lilly Pulitzer agenda. They have 17 months (August 2017-December 2018) and include both monthly and weekly planning pages. You get a set of fun stickers at the front of this agenda. Included are pages for notes, holidays, and dates to celebrate. A pocket folder is located in the agenda, and all of the monthly tabs are laminated. 

$28
This is a twelve month planner that comes in one size.  The layout is a little different. Each weekly outlook includes features such as a method to track how much water you have drank, fitness goals, and a meal planner.  A notes section is included at the back of the planner along with a smaller set of stickers to help keep you organized. 

$55-$65
This company offers many different styles. They even have a customizable teacher planner. The traditional Life Planner allows you to plan for 18 months. It includes a mini month spread, quotes, goal setting pages, a monthly calendar, weekly calendars, lined pages, dot grid pages, coloring pages, four pages of stickers, a folder, and a pouch to store your agenda accessories. These agendas have lots of options to customize them however you wish. 

$17
This is your basic academic planner. It has a monthly outlook followed by weekly pages for each month. There aren't many bells and whistles that come with this type of agenda, but it is great for basic organization. 

$49-$59
These have been really popular lately. I think partially because they have been sold in stores like Anthropologie. These are built to last you from May 2017 through June 2018. Included in each of the daily pages are scheduling from 5am-9pm, to do lists, what to make for dinner, gratitude spaces, and more. The actual agenda also has goal setting sheets, daily quotes, weekend pages with a weekly overview, monthly tabs, two page monthly overviews, and two page yearly overviews. 

$20-$35 
This is an eighteen month planner ranging from July 2017 through December 2018. It has sturdy laminated front and back covers, laminated tabs, year at a glance pages, monthly, and weekly pages.  Each month includes goal setting pages. Included in the agenda are also notes pages. The neat thing about these agendas is that you can add and take out whatever you like. The company offers lots of different options. I saw these when I was in Michael's last week, and it reminded me of a scrapbooking agenda. I thought it was neat how you can change what you don't like. 

 As much as I rely on technology,  I don't think I will ever be able to digitalize my calendar. There is something about physically writing on paper that I just love. 
XOXO

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Skinny Chicken Parm

Does the summer heat have anyone else craving healthier foods? There seems to be something about the summer heat that makes me crave more protein and veggies rather than carbs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not on the carb hating train. I love my pasta and bread! However, recently I have just found myself reaching for those healthier foods. This summer my family has started getting a box of farm fresh veggies each week.  We have no idea what will be in the box, but it's been a great way to get us to eat a wider variety of vegetables with more frequency. We have gotten a ton of zucchini, so I've been searching for creative ways to use all of it.  

About a year ago I became infatuated with zucchini noodles. They definitely aren't pasta, but they are a great healthy alternative. Plus, when they are cooked the right way they are pretty tasty! There's a couple ways to get a whole zucchini to turn into noodles. You can use a spiralizer, a veggie cutter (this will give you straight noodles), or just chop them into thin long pieces.  We don't have a spiralizer, so I usually use our veggie slicer. 


Ingredients:
2 Zucchini
2 tbsp. Olive Oils
1 egg
Salt
Pepper
4 Chicken Breast 
1 tbsp. Italian Herb Seasoning
3/4 cup Panic Bread Crumbs
Mozzarella Cheese
Pasta Sauce 
1/2 cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese 
Angel hair pasta (optional) 

Directions:

One: Prep 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray it with canola oil. This will prevent the chicken from sticking plus it makes for an easy clean up.

Two: Prepping the Chicken 

Combine the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, Italian he seasoning, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper in a gallon size ziplock bag. 

In a separate pie dish, crack one egg and mix it until the yolk and egg white is well combined. Dip each cleaned chicken breast into the egg and then place it in the bag of crumbs. Mix the chicken in the bag until it is well covered. Remove it from the bag and place it on the baking sheet. Continue this process until all pieces of chicken have been covered. 

Three: Bake the Chicken 
Bake the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. 

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven. Place a spoonful of sauce on each piece of chicken. I tend to go lighter on the sauce, but this can change depending on your preference. Add a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.  You can also add provolone cheese. Personally, I think the more cheese the better! 

Place the chicken back in the oven until the cheese is melted. 

Four: Cooking Zucchini Noodles 
To cook the zucchini noodles, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan with salt, pepper, and a pinch of garlic.  Add the zucchini, once the oil is hot. Cook for two minutes. After two mines add a quarter cup of water and cook the noodles for five to seven minutes until they are soft.  This will give them flavor but also make them soft like actual noodles. Once the noodles are cooked, set them aside in a serving dish. 

If you're cooking for people who don't like zucchini noodles, then you can also make a quick batch of angel hair pasta. Sometimes, I enjoy mixing the noodles with the angel hair. It adds a bit of flavor! 

Five: Enjoy!
Plate your food and enjoy. I usually like to add a little bit of sauce and parmesan on top of my noodles before I place the chicken on them. 

XOXO