Friday, May 26, 2017

Weekly Recap

Ahhh. It's been a while since I've done a Weekly Recap! Franky, I think my weeks have gotten more boring as the year has gone on! That and not wanting to share too many political opinions on the blog make it tough to share links these days. But I'll try this week anyway! :)

I've been watching a lot more TV ever since I moved home, and this week was particularly exciting because it was the Dancing with the Stars finale (but more on that below!) and the Bachelorette premiere. I like Rachel a lot and I am excited to watch her season... I definitely think she's smart enough to make wise choices when it comes to these suitors.

I'm heading out this afternoon to go to Myrtle Beach for the long weekend. I'm definitely looking forward to relaxing on the beach with some friends from college.

An old-ish picture from Mother's Day! (This was after our bottomless mimosa brunch...)

Rashad + Emma, DWTS // So I started watching Dancing with the Stars this season in the hopes of watching former Bachelor and my least favorite wanna-be television personality Nick Viall fail. (Unfortunately, he was around for a while.) But right after the first episode, I got totally hooked on Rashad Jennings and he quickly became one of my favorites! In the dance I linked here, I literally sat on my couch and cried. SO. GOOD. And, spoilers!!! He ended up winning the entire competition!

LION // I had been wanting to see this movie for a while, especially after watching all of the Red Carpet interviews with Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel. Let me tell you... it did not disappoint. I was crying at the end but in such a fulfilling way! The absolute CRAZIEST part about the movie... is that it's based on a true story!!! If you haven't seen Lion yet I definitely would recommend it. I also just bought the book that inspired the movie version... I can't wait to read it!

Look for the Helpers // What happened on Monday in Manchester was horrible. I won't get into it here, but reading the news and still hearing details is so hard. I just loved this story about two homeless men - one who wanted to beg after the concert and the other who had fallen asleep - rushed in to help the wounded after the explosion. It makes me think about how many times I've walked passed a homeless person when they needed help, but they were so quick to rush into a dangerous situation and assist. A fundraiser campaign has been started for them - I hope the people who started it find the two men!

10-minute arm workout // I'm always searching for new workout videos to try, especially for arms. I did this quick workout on Wednesday and HOLY CRAP I am so sore still!!! My arms were burning the entire time... meaning I should probably do this video more often so I get used to it! (P.S. Check out some of my favorite home workouts here!)

I hope you all have a great long weekend and a happy Memorial day!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Best Meditation App (Free!)

Is it just me, or is meditation the newest trend? Move over yoga, there’s a new way to be mindful and focus on an intention. I’ve been on the hunt for a meditation app for a while now. I haven’t been getting great sleep, I’ve been stressed, and often times falling asleep takes me way more than the “ideal” amount of time (10-15 minutes if you were wondering!). I could feel in my jaw and in my shoulders that I was stressed and that something needed to change.

Unfortunately, for a while all of the meditation apps I found and wanted to try cost money - which is ironically one of my stressors at night when I’m trying to go to sleep! I decided to ask my co-workers if they knew of a free but awesome meditation app I could use. Enter: Insight.

You guys… my sleep has gotten so much better!!!! Half the time, I’m so “at peace” that I don’t even finish the meditation before falling asleep.

My favorite one to do before going to sleep is Yoga Nidra. (I think it’s #1… for a reason!)

Do you use a meditation app before going to sleep? Have you ever used Insight?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Should You Graduate Early?

Going to the University of South Carolina was one of the greatest decisions I've ever made. It was challenging, rewarding, heartbreaking, and amazing. I never thought I would leave before my four years were up... but things change. I decided to graduate early in December of 2016, and since then I've had several people ask my opinion on it, and if I think it's right for them. Ultimately, I can't make that decision for them, but I can share my experiences! I've put together a short pro/con list that skims the surface of the decision to graduate early.

You get “ahead” // One of the benefits of graduating early is that you can get your unpaid internship sooner. Just kidding… for the most part. The major benefit of graduating early is that there’s less competition for jobs. Less people graduate in December, and most companies open up jobs during the first quarter. However, more jobs in the first quarter means more people leaving their jobs and applying for the same ones as you, just with more experience.

You can travel // If you’re not interested in going to work straight after graduation, graduating early means you can take a few months to travel around and not carry around the “stigma” of it. I’m 100% for travel whenever and wherever you can go, but SO MANY PEOPLE (cough, cough, baby boomers, cough) think you should go straight from graduating to getting a job to working for the rest of your life. If you choose to graduate a semester early, then there’s less pressure to get a job right away since the rest of your peers are still in class and not working either.

Money // Ultimately, money was the deciding factor for me. I was out of credits, feeling a little antsy, and decided that instead of using more of my college fund that I should save the money. I’m so thankful that I was able to graduate debt free and would have had leftover money even if I had decided to stay, but if you’re in a situation where money is tight, definitely consider leaving early.

More time to decide what comes next // Circling back to travel, taking a semester off or doing an unpaid internship after graduating early gives you time to realize what (or what you don’t) want to do. I’ve flip-flopped in my career hundreds of times since I graduated and although I still don’t know what I want to do, I’m glad I’ve had this time to somewhat figure it out.

FOMO // This is THE HARDEST PART of graduating early. The FOMO is so real, y’all. I luckily lived close enough to my alma mater that I was able to go back for big events, but that didn’t stop the feeling that I was missing out on great memories over the weekend or on a random Wednesday for trivia night. I wish I could say it got easier, but it didn’t really. And watching graduation… was especially hard.

Pressure is on // The opposite take to some of the pros… people assume that graduating early means that you have your sh*t together. And same with graduating in May, people (once again…. baby boomers) think that you should have a job at graduation or in the month after.

Always explaining why // Maybe this is just me, but after a while I got so sick of explaining to people why I graduated early. It was exhausting, and it felt like none of my answers were good enough for the people asking!

I don't regret graduating early. Sometimes do I think about what would have happened had I stayed and finished out the four years? Of course I do! But I knew that I was ready to take my next steps and I'm glad that I did.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chicken Fajita Quesadilla

Is there anything better than Mexican food? I'll go ahead and answer that for you - nope! Whenever my friends or family ask me if I want to go grab some tacos and margaritas, I tell them that if I ever say no to that question to take me to the hospital immediately.

The one problem with Mexican food is that, unfortunately, it's not great for you. Cheese, sour cream, and fried tortillas don't really make for a great diet, which is why I love making my own Mexican food. This chicken fajita quesadilla is super easy, tastes great, and makes awesome leftovers for salads! (Or can serve two... but ya know, when you're living the single life, leftovers is where it's at.) Better yet, it's just SIX ingredients!

Start by cutting chicken into longer strips. Heat a pan over medium heat and begin to cook your chicken. While that cooks, slice your bell peppers and onions into long strips.

Add in fajita seasoning when the chicken is mostly cooked through.

After adding in the seasoning, mix in your peppers and onions. When the chicken is cooked through and the onions and peppers are nicely sautéed and soft, remove from the heat and set it aside.

Spray the pan with a light cooking spray and put down your tortilla. Sprinkle cheese all over the surface of the tortilla.

When it starts to get a little melty, spread half of your fajita mix onto one side of the tortilla. (Option here to add more cheese on top of the chicken... because you can never have too much cheese.)

Use a spatula to fold your tortilla in half, and then use your fingers (unless you're better coordinated than I am) to flip your quesadilla.

Remove from the heat when all the cheese is nice and melted. I added extra cheese on top... because once again, you can never have too much of a good thing. Let it cool a little bit and then slice it 3 ways and enjoy!

Use the half you didn't use to make a taco salad, or another quesadilla, or even on some pasta for a southwestern vibe! The options are virtually endless with this kind of leftover.

Do you have a go-to quesadilla recipe? I'd love to expand my horizons!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My Fitness Progress

For about a year now I've been on a mission to live a healthier lifestyle. I've posted about that before on the blog - read here.

Well... I finally decided it was time to take a progress picture or two.

(Please ignore my dirty mirror!)

It's kind of crazy what not being in college anymore will do to your body, yeah? I've seen the biggest difference in the overall tone of my body! Next stop... more cardio to finally get rid of extra flab once and for all!

I have a few simple rules that I follow, and that I've noticed have really worked.

Nothing is off limits // This has really been a game changer for me. I never tell myself that I'm not allowed to have something because in the past when I've done that, I find myself craving it more and more and more until I end up binge eating an entire bag of chips and a pizza and some tacos. I also don't believe in "cheat days" because, in my opinion, that's not truly a lifestyle. My diet is really well rounded because of this.

Exercise regularly but efficiently // You can spend hours at the gym and not have an effective workout. I spend 15-30 minutes a day (sometimes more if I'm feeling wild... or bored) working out, but in those 15 minutes I push myself hard. No breaks, no gaps in between exercises, no distractions. Just a few minutes of sweating it out.

Listen to your body // Skip running and do yoga if your knees feel like they're going to give out at any minute. Never ever ever feel guilty or mad at yourself for skipping a workout - chances are, you deserve a rest day! Your body is amazing and wonderful and strong so protect it please!

EAT WHEN YOU'RE HUNGRY!!!! // I used to very intently count calories and hate (but not feel guilty - big difference) when I went over my "allotted amount." You have to eat to fuel your body - it just matters what you eat! I'm trying to get into one ingredient snacking (fruit, veggies, hard boiled eggs, etc.) instead of snacking on processed crackers, cheeses, and carbs. However, ya girl loves wheat thins and goldfish, and I will never hate myself for snacking on those once in a while. (Ok or a few times a week - it's called balance!) By eating whenever your hungry and listening to your body you will seriously notice a difference in cravings, eating patterns and habits, and energy levels.

Make it a lifestyle // I hate hate hate hate when people say that they've lost XYZ amount of weight by completely cutting out something, or not going out to eat, or not treating themselves to a glass of wine when they want one. I love pizza. I love tacos. I love chicken fingers. I love chocolate. To me, without those things, I'd be living an incomplete life.

Remember that you're human // Sometimes I exercise 7 days a week. Other days, I don't. Sometimes I skip wine with dinner - most of the time I pour an adult sized glass of wine to enjoy.

This journey has truly made me feel confident in my own skin - flaws and all - and that is something I have honestly never experienced before.

P.S. Check out some of my favorite at-home workout videos here!

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Goals

Okay.... how in the world is it already MAY?! April flew by! I was hoping to get around to post more, but I blinked and the month was over. I also really struggle with opening up my computer once I get home. After staring at it all day at my internship, it's the last thing I want to do when I get home! So here's to trying to write more in May, and here's to getting more than one post published this month!

Make a cinemagraph // This is a goal for work that I wanted to do in April... and I waited until the very last minute to get started. (Oops.) I want to perfect how to make them, and then be able to write a post for you all to learn too!

Read 2 books // I definitely didn't read as much as I wanted to this month either. Right now the two books I'm leaning toward this month are The Circle and The Handmaid's Tale, but I'm all ears for recommendations!

Start to think about my next step // I've been really struggling with "life after my internship." Do I go to grad school? Do I try to get into LAW SCHOOL? Do I forget all about this and move to Europe and never come back? Stay tuned. (And please give advice if you have any!)

Get really really real // I started this blog as a creative-diary-spill-my-guts-online-to-strangers platform and I think I've gotten too far away from that. Part of my goals for this year was to reevaluate the content I'm putting up here, and I think that my life experiences and lessons are relatable, but somehow aren't written about anywhere on the Internet. SO here goes nothing! Stay tuned for some totally unsolicited life advice :)

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