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. 

"...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!


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?

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.  


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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

2 Zucchini
2 tbsp. Olive Oils
1 egg
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) 


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. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

The Art of Decluttering

Change is definitely a good thing. Sometimes I find myself craving it actually. Small changes that is! I have a habit of cleaning and getting rid of the junk I've accumulated every six months to a year. I am a fairly organized person, but I do seem to collect random stuff and can never find a place for it. I think we all have those one or two places where we just shove the random stuff we can't find a place for. For me this place seems to be the desk in my room. It just seems to be the catch all for the items that I neglect to put away or have no idea what to do with them.  I come home and don't have enough time to put my belongings away..they end up on my desk. I can't decide what to wear, so I raid my closet and try on outfit after outfit without putting away the clothes I choose not to wear.. they end up on my desk.  The random mail that I don't feel like sorting and filing gets shoved in a folder on my desk. I think you're probably getting the point by now. Anyways, after a certain amount of time I just get tired of looking at all the clutter that has collected.  

Once I muster up the time and energy, I begin to de-clutter.  I begin by sorting the items that are just randomly placed in piles (bobby pins, hair ties, etc. belong in the bathroom, clothes belong in the closet, etc.) I sort the items until the loose items are gone. The next step is to put these random items back to where they belong. Sometimes this even means purging a few items. The next step I like to take is to re-organize.  I focus on one area at a time. Within each area I remove everything sort through it disposing of items that I no longer need nor use. If I haven't used it in the past year, then there's no point keeping it. I make two piles- one for trash and the other for things I plan to donate. I then take what is left and organize it in a way that minimizes clutter and maximizes organization. 



Desk organization that works for me
Filing Important Papers
I like to use pretty filing folders to store important papers. I currently have four folders. One for all of Brody's vet records, a folder for all of my teaching credentials, a folder for bills, and another folder for miscellaneous important papers like contracts. I like to use cute filing folders because they double as a practical item and a bit of decor. 

Organizing the random stuff
We all have that small collection of random items that we use regularly, but just can't seem to find a neat way to store them.  I use a small wicker basket for these.  The basket makes everything appear as organized even though it's actually not. In my basket I keep koozies, my dollar jar, lemon wipes, sunglasses, etc. You can find some great baskets and bins at the dollar spot at Target or even the dollar store.  You'll be amazed at how quickly using a few storage bins changes the look of a room. 

I love to read, and I also love the collect "coffee table" books. I clearly don't have a need for a coffee table yet since I live at home with my parents and my only personal space is my bedroom. However, I still insist on collecting these pretty books filled with fun pictures and information.  I use them as a decor item in the cubby of my desk. Storing them horizontally rather than vertically makes them look more organized and intentional rather than a pile of books that are just randomly collecting. 

Writing Utensils
I have always loved colorful pens, pencils, and markers. I've shared my love for new office supplies many times on here.  Well, it's no surprise that I have lots of writing utensils.  I keep them organized in a storage bin that I found at The Container Store.  The bin was a little pricy, but it helps to keep e everything organized. Some other ways to store pens and pencils would be to put them in a cute mug or cup, in a small container, or in a pencil case.

When it's all said and done, decluttering feels a lot like hitting the reset button. It makes me feel refreshed and inspired. 


Friday, July 7, 2017

July '17 Playlist

There's nothing quite like a good playlist to help you write the soundtrack to your summer.  During the summer, I feel like I am constantly listening to music. I seem to always have something playing whether I'm running, cleaning, getting ready for my day, driving, cooking, or just hanging out. I have been listening to a wide variety of music, and this playlist definitely reflects that.  

Are there any other good songs I should checkout in addition to these?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fourth of July Outfit Inspiration

It's the final countdown. Only one more day until the Fourth of July! The most American holiday there is- red/white/blue, stars and stripes, barbecues, parades, backyard fun, a day at the beach, etc. Regardless of how you will be spending the holiday, I'm sure you're looking for a fun outfit to wear. Well, I'm right there with you. I would love to go shopping for something cute to wear, but I'm trying to save money plus after a closet raid this weekend I realized that I have plenty of items I can pair together for the perfect outfit. So have no fear, I'm here to bring you some inspiration without having to go on a mini red, white, and blue shopping spree. 

My tips for putting together the perfect Fourth of July outfit:
Step one:
Put on your favorite playlist. It's always more funs styling clothes with a little music on!

Step two:
Raid your closet for anything that is red, white, or blue.

Step three:
Lay all of the items you found out on your bed.  It's best to categorize the items (bottoms, tops, dresses, accessories). 

Step four:
Use my outfits as inspiration to mix and match what you have to create a cute look. Don't be afraid to do some pattern play here either.  It's a fun holiday, so don't feel you need to be boring!

Once you create your outfit, don't forget to tag me in it or use the hashtag #ShoreLifeofM

Have a fun and safe holiday!