See You In 2 Weeks!

Hello from London, friends! I’m popping in quickly to let you know that despite my plans to share every leg of this European journey with you, my laptop conveniently broke on the first day and won’t turn on. Therefore, I’ll see you in two weeks!

Until then, I’ll still be on social media, so you can follow my adventures on Instagram and Twitter!

Have a lovely few weeks, and I’ll be back soon with a little announcement, as well as recaps and suggestions for every place I visit. :D Cheers!

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How To Stay Motivated

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Ever have a day when you wake up motivated, planning to do work, clean the house, run errands, work out, watch a movie and reward yourself with a bubble bath at the end of it all, only to spend the entire day in your pajamas and reward yourself with what feels like an undeserved bubble bath anyway? I definitely do.

The days of starting fresh with the beginning of a new school year may be over, but the end of summer still makes me consider what I’ll be changing in my routine in order to stay on top of everything come fall. While my goals and the way I do things change, there are a couple of consistent habits that help me stay motivated:

1. Make the bed first thing in the morning.

2. Exercise. This is the number one biggest motivator for me. If you’re having a rest day, do a few stretches.

3. Make a to-do list. Bonus motivation points if you put things on it that you already did just to check them off. :) Or is that just me?

4. Eat balanced meals, and don’t skip breakfast or lunch.

5. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and drink it while you work. It’s a small thing that brings a little bit of enjoyment to deadlines, challenging tasks, and busy work that needs to get done.

6. Take a walk and get some sunshine. This will clear your brain and stretch your legs. I’ve also found that seeing other people enjoying the outdoors puts me in a cheerful mood.

7. If you can’t focus, work in time increments and reward yourself with a small break for every half hour of work.

8. Read about other successful people. This will help you visualize yourself in a similar place, which will get your creative juices flowing.

9. Sleep well. This one is self-explanatory, and can’t be beat. It’s super important and will make all the difference.

10. Make sure you have downtime and fill it with things you love. You deserve it. At the end of the day, you’ll find that your motivation and productivity has left you in a good mood, and you’ll want to repeat it again, until it becomes a routine.

In the interest of full disclosure, though I do know that these things work for me 100% of the time, I’m still working on making them routine. I still have my lazy days, but all it takes is a workout or a walk to shake that off and turn things around.

Happy Thursday! Tell me how you stay motivated in the comments!

Thinking Out Loud {8/21/14}

Well hello! Sorry for the unintentional two week break. It was due to a combination of busy and writer’s block, but I’m back! What better way to ring that in than with a couple of random rambles, courtesy of Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud?

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1. I have two very exciting trips coming up! One is to my beloved New England next weekend, where I plan to hike, swim, and relax before summer turns into fall. After that, we’re headed to Europe for three weeks. We’ll be in London, Italy, France, and Croatia!

eiffeltower2. This will be my first trip where I *almost* don’t have to work and I can’t even imagine what that feels like. I’m very lucky to be able to work remotely when I travel but the con to that is that I’m essentially always at work.

3. My favorite workout as of late has been boxing. I love to switch up my exercise often and I tend to have a new favorite one every few months. I highly recommend boxing! It’s an incredible workout, a great stress reliever, and an amazing toner. It’s shown me that I have way more power than I thought I did, and it’s been great seeing my own form improve.

kickboxing4. I feel like a crazy person saying this because I can still clearly see April, when we were all hating on winter and begging for summer, but I am so ready for fall. It’s my favorite season, and hints of it are starting to show up and it’s giving me the cozies. If I could have fall year round, I would, with a small break for a white Christmas :)

afterlight(6)5. With fall in the air, my baking and soup making instincts are starting to kick in, so I have some healthy and warm recipes coming your way soon!

soup6. I’m ready for an engrossing new book and as soon as I’m done with Emily Griffin’s Love The One You’re With, I’ll be starting on The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Have you read it? What other books should I be adding to my autumn reading list? I have lots of catching up to do because despite my plan to read all the books this summer, I’ve barely gotten through two.

book2That’s about all I have to share today! Head over to Amanda’s blog to join in- and have a wonderful Thursday!

(Sources: 1, 3, 5)

Adirondacks Weekend

A good weekend is one spent by the lake, and that is exactly what I did this past weekend! I probably say this all the time because I absolutely love escaping from the city for a little while, but the Adirondacks is one of my favorite getaways when I want to kick back but still be active. I love hiking and being on the water, with an evening bonfire as a reward.

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That view gets me every time. Mountains and water… definitely my happy place!

As you can see from the photo, it was a little too cloudy/rainy to attempt a hike, but we got in some good swimming in between rain storms, several awesome bonfires (even in the rain!), and grilled some good food. I was also hoping to finally get some standup paddle-boarding in, but unfortunately we chose lakes without rentals :(. Next time!

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If you’re headed to the Adirondacks, I highly recommend Schroon Lake for the best views, swimming, and a (non-touristy) downtown area that has several restaurants and shops.

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Blue Mountain Lake, which is where the top two photos were taken, also have great swim spots (if a little small), and some great hikes and views in the surrounding area. It’s a beautiful drive, as well.

If you’re interested in beer tasting, Paradox Brewery in Schroon, NY offers free outdoor tastings, games, and very cute visitors of the canine variety. It’s a good spot to meet some locals as well. This brewery is only a year old and their beers are fantastic!

Since we did a lot of grilling and cooking on this trip, we only ate at one restaurant in Schroon Lake, called Sticks and Stones. The food was your average American fare, but the indoor and outdoor seating areas are woodsy and cozy, and offer the perfect Adirondacks experience.

As far as lodging, you have multiple options. This was the second time we rented a house through AirBnB in that area, and we loved it. Split between several people, it’s a really great deal and you end up with a lot of space, a deck, a fireplace, and everything you need to cook, workout, and lounge around. We did drive past several inns and lodges that looked adorable, so I think we’ll experiment with one of those next time.

Overall, it was a beautiful weekend. Hope yours was great as well! If you have any questions about the good ‘ol dacks, I’m happy to answer them!

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Eat Your Way To A Good Mood

For the last week or so, I’ve been on a mostly liquid diet due to my teeth straightening endeavor, which I mentioned last week. My diet has consisted mainly of smoothies, soups, mashed potatoes, rice pudding, and apple sauce. I’ve noticed that my level of irritability is also becoming higher than usual, and I realized that my lack of a balanced diet may be playing a role. So today, I want to talk about ways to eat your way to a good mood!

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My typical weekday eats include lots of salad, fish, fruit, occasionally chicken, and always a little bit of dark chocolate. Appetizers include hummus and carrots, which I can’t eat for my entire treatment, homemade salsa and flax chips, which I can’t eat for at least several weeks, and veggies like edamame and brussels sprouts, which I won’t be able to bite into until things settle down and I get used to the weirdness of braces behind my teeth. It’s safe to say more than half of my diet has been cut out for now, and I’ve tried to keep things interesting and nutrient-dense by sprinkling some cheese on my tomato soup, throwing kale in my smoothies, peanut and almond butter with honey in my yogurt, etc.

Our energy levels and mood depend largely on the food we eat, and I’m seeing a direct correlation now that I’ve had to limit myself.

Before I ramble on any more, I’m going to begin with one of the most important elements of a balanced, healthy diet: omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in:

  • salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and several other fish
  • eggs, milk, and yogurt (these products are usually fortified with omega-3)
  • nuts, seeds, oatmeal, cereal, and other whole grains
  • peanut butter

Another very important contributing factor to a balanced state of mind is Vitamin D. This can be found in:

  • Vitamin-D fortified mushrooms, cereals, and orange juice
  • Swordfish, canned tuna fish

Unfortunately, vitamin-D rarely occurs naturally in foods, and never in the amount we require. A lack of vitamin-D is very common and is a major contributor to crankiness, so be aware of how much you take in, as you may find that you’re deficient. Your doctor can help you determine this with a blood test. Obviously a walk outside also helps, but we’re focusing on food today!

The next puzzle piece is fiber. Fiber helps maintain blood sugar levels, which in turn keeps energy levels high. It can be found in:

  • whole grains and seeds, such as muesli, chia, flax, hemp, and amaranth
  • raspberries, apples, pears, bananas
  • whole wheat pasta
  • lentils, split peas, beans
  • broccoli, brussels sprouts
  • baked potato

Lets not forget about protein. It can be found in:

  • bananas
  • mixed berries
  • chicken, turkey, beef (in cold-cut form if you just want a snack)
  • nuts
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • hummus
  • cottage cheese, Greek yogurt
  • seitan

Last but not least, I’m going to mention melatonin. This one helps you sleep well so that you wake up rested and on the right side of the bed. It can be found in:

  • cherries, tart cherry juice, grapes, to a lesser extent
  • bananas
  • oatmeal
  • walnuts

Despite the long post, this is obviously a short list. There are many other foods and food combinations that will provide you with a good balance of protein, fiber, omega-3′s, and other important nutrients. The idea is to eat a variety of good-for-you foods and to remember that they play way more of a role in our mood levels than we think.

Let me know what your favorites are in the comments!

Thinking Out Loud {7/24/14}

Happy Thursday! It’s been a while since I’ve linked up with Amanda for some random rambles, so today felt like a good day for a comeback!

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1. First things first: today I sound like I’m still learning to speak. At the ripe young age of 25, I decided to get braces. I refused to do it as a kid and now here I am, drinking through a straw, eating mashed potatoes (I was secretly looking forward to this), and talking with a lithp. The ones I got are actually behind my teeth, so though they’re not visible, it’s a pretty strange sensation. They went on yesterday…only a year and some to go! :/

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset2. I’m slowly starting to get over this, but last Saturday, after forgetting our bag in a restaurant during lunchtime for exactly 3 minutes, KV and I had our iPad stolen..by our waiter. It was a completely crazy and mind boggling situation. When we returned for the bag, both it and the waiter were gone. We were initially grateful to him for trying to go “find” us, but alas, the bag was returned sans iPad.

3. I have an actress crush. It’s on Elizabeth Olsen, the younger, more serious (at least acting wise) sister of the Olsen twins, who I admired intensely as a kid. Full House 4ever! I saw a billboard for her new movie with Dakota Fanning, Very Good Girls, last week and am counting down the seconds until I can see it. Despite the fact that every critic hated it, I must watch it. I fell in love with her after seeing Martha Marcy May Marlene, and I can’t get enough! Here’s the trailer if you’re interested:

4. Next week, we’re headed to the Adirondacks with some friends for a little weekend getaway. We rented a cottage with a grill, a fire pit, and a porch. All the things I dream of here in NYC. I’m excited for some summer bbq-ing, a swim in the lake, and a couple of evenings by the fire pit.

mooseI do not anticipate any moose sightings, but a girl can dream.

5. Remember I mentioned buying a Living Social deal for Paint Nite? We finally went and had so much fun! I highly recommend it for a date night, a girls night, a random weekday get-together, etc. I think our personalities really came through in those paintings, and my attempts to paint the sunset in perfect lines totally shows how type-A I am. I’m working on it. Here are our masterpieces:

photoTis’ all for me today! What’s up with you? Any creative soft food ideas for me while I learn to eat and speak again? Any movie recommendations?

Clarisonic – A Review

Hello, friends! Let’s talk about breakouts for a second.

Do you get them? I do at least once a month, usually around my chin and jawline, and though I admit to occasionally picking and making them so much worse than they would typically be, I can’t help myself. The best option for me is to destroy pimples forever!

For months, I would scour the internet for proof that the Clarisonic, a popular and somewhat pricy tool for cleaning your face, was truly effective and the answer to my blackhead destroying fantasies. Every night before bed, I indulged in my blackhead squeezing routine and stared in awe at the gunk that hangs out in my pores when I look closely enough. No amount of Biore strips, scrubs, masks, and face-washing could get it all out.

Clarisonic-Mia-2I finally decided to give in and see what this Clarisonic business was. I planned on sharing my experience here with you guys but wanted to give it several weeks before I praised it or complained about it, especially since I have read that your face needs time to break out one more time before it gets used to the brushing motion.

The first time I used it, my face felt smoother, but as expected there wasn’t too much of a difference other than a feeling of cleanliness. Now, three weeks later and with daily use, here’s what I’ve experienced:

  • Cleaner pores
  • Smaller pores
  • Smoother face
  • Dewy skin

This is not to say that every single pore has been cleaned out and that I don’t have a single blackhead. I think it’ll take more time before I can boast that result, but I will say that those hard-to-see ones on my cheeks, which are hard to get out, have decreased astronomically. It seems the motion of the brush helps push them out and eventually gets rid of them, while also boosting circulation and creating that fresh, dewy look. At least that’s how it works in my mind.

I’ve been using the Clarisonic Mia 2, which I bought at Sephora for fear of the fakes that I’ve been warned about on Amazon. It came with a ‘sensitive’ brush head, a small bottle of Clarisonic brand cleanser, a magnetic charger, and a carrying case. The cost was $149, and so far, worth it!

As far the initial “breakout” that I had read about, it didn’t happen immediately. In fact, I felt like I saw results fairly quickly, but I did have a small breakout around my chin this past weekend and I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the Clarisonic. I did get rid of it quite fast though, and that may have had to do with the fact that I’ve been cleaning my face so well.

Between the hot summer, the NYC humidity and bus fumes, and the generally dusty nature of my surroundings, I just knew my face was not getting the cleaning it needed. A scrub and facial cleanser can only do so much, and it wasn’t doing enough for me.

Now, I see my moisturizer and my BB cream absorbing the way it should, and there’s never any cakiness. It feels like the dirty outer layer of my face has been removed! Yay!

Now, tell me if you have any questions! The more I use my Clarisonic, the more I learn about it and the way it works, so I’m happy to help if you’re considering the investment.

 

*I was not compensated in any way for this post. I purchased the product on my own and wanted to share my experience with you.

Sausage Turmeric Soup

On Monday, my boyfriend woke up with a cold, the sky was dark, and it was definitely about to rain. This meant only one thing: soup. Sausage Turmeric soup to be exact, because it needed to knock the cold out (before I got it too ;)), and it needed to warm, filling, and delicious (to suit the weather).

It may be hot and humid these days, but sometimes, you just need some good soup.

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As usual, my first condition was that I needed to be able to whip it up fast. For some reason, the first ingredient I think of when I think ‘fast’ is sausage, because I can just throw it in with some veggies and it’s pretty much done.

The second condition was that it needed to have some cold-healing ingredients, so that meant garlic, chicken broth, and turmeric. Luckily, all three of these also produce a wonderful taste.

My final condition was that it needed to have a kick, so in went my not-so-secret ingredient, Cholulah sauce. The result: perfect.

I was so excited to get this recipe up here that I forgot to give the soup a stir before photographing it, so I apologize for the less than appetizing presentation. I promise it’s delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Roasted Garlic Chicken sausages, or your choice (I use the Al Fresco brand)
  • 1 carton of chicken stock (32 oz) (Unsalted)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 1-1.5 tsp diced garlic
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 102 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp of turmeric, or more, to taste
  • 1 tsp salt, or more, to taste
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • A generous dash of Cholulah Sauce

Instructions:

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot, throw in garlic, onions, carrots, and peppers
  2. Once the onions turn somewhat translucent, add sausage, and cook until slightly browned
  3. Add in diced tomatoes, followed immediately by the chicken stock
  4. Stir in salt, turmeric, and Cholulah sauce
  5. Leave to simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes
  6. Enjoy!!

Makes about 5 servings

Have a lovely day, and let me know if you make this! Fall isn’t too far off, and this is a good one to save for those chilly autumn afternoons.

Fourth of July + Spicing Up the Work Week

Hello, old friends! It’s been an unintentionally long time since I’ve been here. Independence Day festivities and a three day weekend have come and gone, and the work week has drawn us back in.

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I spent the fourth in New Hampshire, and though 3 out of our 4 days there were super rainy, we still made the most of it by trekking around in the pouring rain and trying out various coffee shops and restaurants, hitting the [indoor] pool, and watching a tornado from the inside of our car. All good vacation activities.

We started our little getaway at 5 am on Wednesday morning, with the intention of seeing the sunrise on our drive out of NYC and arriving in time to work from our destination.

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For a while now, I’ve been entertaining the idea of working from a different location for several days. Obviously, this is not possible for everyone, but if your workplace allows you the option of telecommuting every once in a while, I highly recommend it! Being in a different place does wonders for productivity. I was afraid I might get distracted, but I got more work done in several hours than I typically do here at home. By the end of the week, I felt totally deserving of a Fourth of July getaway!

So, in honor of that, here’s some snapshots from the weekend!

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Hope you all had a great, relaxing long weekend! What’d you do?!

25

Well hello! It may be Tuesday, but I’m still riding high from the birthday festivities of last weekend. On Friday, I turned 25, and it still seems kind of weird to say it. Something about it feels different. I’m officially in my “mid-20′s.”

The weekend kicked off with a surprise trip to the Berkshires with my boo, and though it was only for one night, it felt like a mini vacation, and everyone knows I love those.

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetAfter checking in to our inn, we headed to dinner at a delicious wine bar and restaurant in Lenox, MA. On the way, we explored the area a bit and stopped at the Cranwell Resort for a pre-dinner cocktail on the terrace, but it was unfortunately closed for an event, so we enjoyed the sunset from some Adirondack chairs on the gorgeous grounds before driving downtown for dinner.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAfter sleeping for a nice, long 9 hours, we enjoyed a leisurely lake-view breakfast at our inn, did some more driving around in the area, and headed to lunch at the most gorgeous spot, with a full view of the Berkshire mountains. It was truly amazing.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 presetLunch was followed up with a wine tasting at a local winery, as well as a stop at a farm/distillery where we got tons of fruit and apple cider. We also couldn’t resist trying an apple cider doughnut that was recommended to us by a friend.

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On our way home, we stopped for dinner at Terrapin in Rhinebeck, NY. The drive back was perfect, with a gorgeous sunset, rolling hills, and cows. Moo.

berks9-1The rest of the weekend was spent with family, and it was perfect. Wish Monday didn’t come so soon!

I suggested  last week that I might have 25 tidbits about being 25 for you this week. I don’t have that many nuggets of wisdom quite yet, but here are 5 things that are finally starting to sink in:

  1. Worrying too much is a bad idea. Finding time for yourself and de-stressing is a good idea.
  2. You’ll never be able to please everybody.
  3. Putting age limits on what you should have accomplished by now is unrealistic.
  4. Think outside the box and don’t worry about what others will think of it.
  5. If you don’t ask for what you want, you probably won’t get it.

Have a great week, friends!