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!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Wanderlust (n.) A strong desire to or urge to wander or travel and explore the world. 

In the midst of these cold, cloudy, gray days I have been finding myself dreaming of exploring new places both in an out of the country. I think being cooped up inside just makes me want to get out to explore. However, it's hard to just pick up and go when you have responsibilities and not enough money to go where you please.  My goal is to eventually have been to all fifty states. So far, I'm at sixteen.  I've covered most of the east coast, but I have a lot of the mid-west and west coast to still cover.  Recently my friends have been moving outside of Pennsylvania, which gives me an excuse to visit some new places.   Fun fact- I've never been outside of the United States. There are many places outside of this country that I hope to visit one day.  I'm hoping within the next year I will have my passport, which will be my first step to planning a trip outside of the U.S. 
So what's on my current travel list?

Inside the United States
Arkansas// This one sounds funny, but almost six months ago my best friend and her boyfriend moved there.  I'm anxious to get out there to explore the places that they're learning to love, and to see what the mid-west is like. This would also cross another state off of the list. 

Charleston, South Carolina// Lots of people joke that I'm a southerner trapped in a northern girl's life. I have heard nothing but fabulous remarks about this city.  Everyone who visits there seems to want to go back, which is always a great sign.  This area has a little bit of everything: great food, fun bars, beach, a little bit of history, and more. 

New York City// I've been to the city three different times, but I haven't been since I was in middle school.  After watching every season of Gossip Girl multiple times, there are a number of places in the city that I would love to visit now that I'm older.  From where I live, I could easily do a day trip or a brief weekend trip.  

Boston, Massachusetts// This is somewhere I'd like to go during the summer months..it's way too cold during the winter.  This city is filled with history and fun. 

Outside of the United States
Paris, France// I've always had an odd infatuation with anything and everything French related.  I think a lot of this stems from taking three years of french in high school.  It has been a dream of mine to visit France, especially Paris, one day.  

Bermuda// From all of the pictures I have seen, it looks so pretty here. I'm dying to travel some place where the ocean is clear. 

Ireland// I consider myself a true American mut- a mix of many different origins (Irish, Welsh, German, etc.). One of the places I know my family is from is Ireland.  I would love to visit here to see the many beautiful landscapes and embrace the culture. 

Saint Martin// Everyone I've known who has travelled here wants to never come home. It's not as touristy, but still has beautiful beaches and lots to do!

What are your recommendations for places to travel to?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Green Smoothies

Anyone else obsessed with green smoothies? Maybe yes or maybe no.. 
I know I definitely have an obsession with them! In the winter I struggle to consume enough fruits and vegetables.  I have been working on this, but I'd be lying if I said it was an easy task for me to accomplish on a daily basis. One way I've been working on incorporating more fruits and vegetables is through smoothies. They make for a great breakfast or snack.  I like them because they are easy to make, healthy, and always taste delicious. This winter I've discovered a new love for adding greens to my smoothies. Initially, I was reluctant to do so. But now I honestly don't know why I didn't take a leap of faith and try it sooner.  Green smoothies are ...green, which is why I think most people avoid them.  I'm telling you they taste better than some fruit or protein smoothies I have had. 

There are so many different types of green smoothies you can make. Below are my current favorites! All you have to is throw all the ingredients into your blender and mix them up. I recommend drinking the smoothies from a straw because it prevents you from drinking any whole chunks of fruit that didn't blend well. Also, everything tastes better with a straw. 

What's your favorite smoothie recipe?

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Week's Top 10

1. I saw this post on homemade soft pretzels this week, and I'm dying to try it out. 

2. I thought those of you who are just as brunch obsessed would love this article on the best brunch spots in every state. I would love to make it a bucket list item to visit all of them. 

3. Were you able to score on these Lilly Pulitzer Swell bottles. Sadly, I haven't been able to find any at my local Starbucks. The good news is that on February 28th they will be viable to purchase on Starbucks.com!

4.  On Tuesday, Todd and I made this recipe for Valentine's Day. It was quite tasty. It was great the next day as a leftover too! You can really never go wrong with Buffalo Chicken anything. 

5. This week I started a 30 day yoga challenge. So far I am loving it. It's amazing what 35 minutes of yoga can do for you after a run. 

6. How fun is this off the shoulder top? Too bad I'm on shopping hiatus. 

7. Did you see Brooke and I collaborated this week to help you style leather booties? Check it out here and here.

8. My outfit inspiration for going to my brother's first college lacrosse game tomorrow (here, here, and here)

9. Next week I actually have five full days of week between coaching, working my part time job, and substitute teaching. Adulting is starting to change from being a "stay at home daughter" to a millennial fresh out of college attempting to find a career and make money.

10. I'm planning content for the next few week and would love to hear what you want to read about! 

In case you're stopping by for the first time this week, here are my posts' from this week:

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How to Plan Meals

I've definitely been learning to embrace my "stay at home daughter" status. The past month and a half I have been helping my parents out by taking on some additional responsibilities around the house. I've been assisting my mom with planning meals, grocery shopping, and cooking. I've come to realize how complex the process can be from start to finish. Today I'm sharing some tips and tricks for making sure you eat healthy, save money, and never have to aimlessly stare at the contents of your fridge trying to find a meal again. 

The first step to planning your meals is to take inventory of what you have.  Check out your refrigerator(s), freezer(s), pantry, and cabinets to see what you actually have. I'm sure you will be surprised at what you find.  Taking inventory prevents you from spending extra money on items you already have, sparks inspiration for planning out your future meals, and ensures that nothing is going to waste. I like to keep an inventory of the food on a note in my phone.  When we use something up, then I remove the item from the note. You could also write everything down or just try to go off your memory. 

Look at the Calendar
Now that you know what food you have, it's time to take the next step.  Checkout your calendar to see what is going on. This will help you know what days you need quick and easy meals as well as what days you can make something that might take a little bit longer.  I like to plan more labor intensive meals for Sunday dinners since there is usually more time on Sundays.  On a day that I might not have time to cook, I plan for leftovers. 

 Disclaimer, I'm not always the best at this.  This week I totally forgot that Valentine's Day was on Tuesday. 

Create a List of Meals
For some of you this might be your favorite part of the process while others this might be your least favorite part. Now it's time to create a list of possible meals. I like to start with the items I have and then move onto other meals that might require me to go to the store.  For meal inspiration I like to browse pinterest, cook books that we having laying around the house, and my favorite food blogs.  Between these sources of inspiration I usually am able to come up with a list of meals much longer than I will actually need to make. Next to each meal on the list I like to list out the ingredients that I need to purchase to make the meal. 
A sample list of meals for one week. 

Choose Meals and Assign Days
Now that you know what your schedule looks like and have found some meal inspiration, it is time to choose your meals and when you will eat them. I like to make a list of all the dates that I will need meals for (my family plans meals for two weeks at a time). I then consult my list of meals to match one meal to each day.  It's best to plan for one meal a week to be leftovers because chances are you aren't going to eat the entirety of each dinner every single day.  I also like to leave Fridays open because I never know what's going on, how tired we will be, or what we will feel like eating come the end of the week. 

Brainstorm Breakfast and Lunch Options
Some of you might like to plan out every single meal (including breakfast and lunch) while others might prefer to use leftovers and whatever your can scrounge up in the fridge. I tend to be a little bit of both types of people. Weeks when I'm busier I like to plan out every meal, but those weeks that I am less busy I tend to go with whatever is in the fridge.  I usually like to plan a list of options for these meals that way I know what I need to purchase at the grocery store. 

Create the Grocery List
Now that you have all of your meals planned out, it's time to create your grocery list.  I start by looking at the ingredients I need to make dinners. Next, I look at what I need for breakfast and lunches. The third set of items to be added are any household items (soap, toilet paper, cleaning products, napkins, Ziploc bags, etc.). Regardless of the form of your list (paper or electronic), I recommend organizing it so that the items are listed in the order that you shop your grocery store. Some grocery stores now have apps that you can download. I like to use the Wegmans app because it organizes your list by isle and calculates and estimate total for your entire list. 

Your final steps would be to head to the grocery store (don't go on a Sunday- it's way too crowded), organize your groceries, find a time to do any meal prepping, and enjoy your stress free meals. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Styling Booties

It's what to wear Wednesday.  I got some great feedback from my post on winter business casual outfits, so I thought I would share another styling post with you! Today I'm collaborating with Brooke over at Live the Prep Life

Ankle boots seem to be all the rage this winter.  You can dress them up or down, which probably contributes to their popularity.  I got a pair for Christmas and absolutely love them (check them out here)! They are comfortable and easy to throw on with just about any outfit. Recently, I went through my closet and picked out a few outfits that they would look cute with. You can check them out below.

If you know me, then you know how much I love stripes.  These booties pair nicely with darker denim and a striped top.

A cute but comfortable outfit for a nicer dinner or a night out.  Pair your booties with an off the shoulder velvet top, gigi pants from JCrew, and throw some curls in your hair.

Pair them with some leggings, a boyfriend sweater, a light chambray shirt, and toss your hair up in a ponytail with a little plaid bow.

Don't have much time to get ready? These booties pretty much are my go to with a pair of jeans and a cozy sweater. It's a cute and easy outfit to throw together when you don't have much time to get ready.
Then there's the perfect outfit to wear to a sporting event. A pair of jeans, your team's spirit wear shirt, and a comfy sweater.

Wondering how you can pair these to make the perfect business casual look? Check out my post from last month here.
I hope this post gave you some style inspiration!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Heart Cookies

Holidays are filled with traditions and memories. I'm sure if I listed a holiday, you could recite something it reminds you of. For me, Valentine's Day reminds me of the heart shaped sugar cookies my mom used to make.  My birthday is three days before Valentine's Day, so the two "holidays" often get intertwined for me.  In the early years of school (back when parents could make sugary treats for their kids' to bring in on their birthdays) my mom would always send me to school with heart shaped sugar cookies topped with pink icing.  Needless to say, these cookies always bring back fond memories for me.  They remind me of being a kid again, happy memories, and one of the many fabulous things my mom did for me growing up. Last week, I had a day off thanks to a tiny snow storm.  I spent the day relaxing. About mid way through the day I started to get antsy, so I browsed the kitchen bookshelf and found my mom's Martha Stewart cookbook.  As I was browsing it, I remembered that my favorite cookie recipe was inside.  After surveying the recipe, the fridge, and our cabinets I decided to make the cookies. Today I thought I would share the recipe with you.  If you want to try it at home, note that it is a labor intensive recipe requiring about four hours time total. 
You can find the recipe here on Martha's website or below.

The recipe makes about 30-40 cookies.

Once you've finished baking the cookies and letting them cool, then you can begin to decorate your cookies.  I recommend using Martha Stewart's royal icing recipe.
Pro tip for icing the cookies: If you put the icing in a small snack bag and cut the tip, then you can outline the heart.  Once you outline the heart, then you can fill it in using a knife. This will make sure your icing takes the shape of your cookie rather than looking like a giant blob. See below for an example.


Friday, February 10, 2017

23 Things I've Learned in 23 Years

Happy Friday! Many of you on the east coast were lucky enough to have a four day week, thanks to a small snowstorm.  Not only is today exciting because it is Friday, but it's also exciting because it's my last day being a 22 year old. Tomorrow I begin another year on the planet as I turn 23.  23 the year that, according to Blink 182, nobody likes you.  It's also the year that you become closer to 25 than 20. To kick off the birthday celebrations, I'm sharing 23 lessons I've learned in the past 23 years.

If you fill your mind with positive thoughts, then you're going to have a more positive outlook on life. 
Your mind is quite powerful. This year I've learned that filling my brain with negativity is only going to make me feel worse.

There's more to being healthy than just working out. 
This year I've started to learn more about the importance of being both physically and mentally healthy.

There's more to life after college.
College is something that you talk about for years before you actually go.  Once you're there, it is hard to picture what life will be like once you graduate. This year I learned that life after college is the same, but also a little different too. Learning to adult isn't always easy.

Take time to tell your friends and family you love. 
Life takes a lot of twists and turns. It's important to let the people you care about know how much you appreciate them...one day they might not be around for you to tell them these things.

Family over everything. 
Don't take your gamily for granted. They are your built in support system.  They will be there for you when nobody else is.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
Life definitely isn't fair.  The older I get the more I see bad things happening to some of the best people I know. 

There is always more to learn.
You're never going to know everything. It's important to be open to learning new things.

The power that a jam session in your car has.
It's amazing how much better you will feel after driving around singing screaming along to your favorite songs. It will turn a bad day into a much better one. 

It's okay to stay in on a Friday night.
You don't need to go out every night of the weekend to have fun.  Staying in and hanging out with the ones you love has much more value than a night out that you probably won't remember.

Don't go out with your friends on an empty stomach.
I definitely was guilty of this too many times to count.  It's important to prepare before going out for the night.  Be sure to eat something substantial, drink lots of water, and be smart about what you are drinking..Otherwise, you're going to pay for it the next day. 

The value of a good cry.
You can't keep your feelings in 100% of the time. Sometimes you have to let it all at, and let yourself have a good cry. 

Friends will come and go.
The friendships you think will last forever might not.  If people are meant to be in your life forever, then they will. 

You don't have to have your whole life figured out in your mid twenties. 
There's still plenty of time to find your dream job, move out of your parents' house, and look put together every time you leave the house.

A regimented skin care routine will do your face wonders.
Seriously if you don't have one, then develop one A-SAP.  You'll thank me for it in a few months.  Removing your makeup before going to bed, regular facials, and washing your face daily will clear up your acne so fast. 

Don't take life or yourself to seriously.
It's so important to take time to laugh at the silly things.

Being perfect is impossible.
Confession- I'm a perfectionist. I'm slowly learning that you can't be perfect. Everyone has flaws, we just have to learn to except our own.

Life is all about balance.
Some days you'll run four miles at the gym and get those 10,000 steps on your Fitbit. Other days you'll binge watch reality TV shows while eating french fries and drinking a milkshake. And you know what... it's all going to be okay.

Love yourself.
You don't need to be full of yourself, but you do need to like yourself. If you don't like yourself, then you can't expect others to like you. 

Be a goal digger.
Set goals for yourself and work to achieve them. This helps provide you with focus and purpose in life.

Do at least one good thing for someone each day.
I try to do at least one random act of kindness each day. I like to think that helping others brings me good karma.

Treat Yourself.
It's okay to splurge on that monthly pedicure during flip-flop season, buy your favorite latte, or get an occasional massage. If you work hard, then you deserve to reward yourself.

Spending the extra time to get organized is worth it.
You'll thank yourself the next day for making your lunch the night before, for meal prepping on a Sunday afternoon, for cleaning out your closet, or keeping your room clean. The more organized you are the less stressed you'll be, if you're anything like me. 

Find reasons to be happy.
Being happy makes life much more enjoyable. It's important to find things that make you happy, especially when you're in a funk.