Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Story Time!


Hi there!

I have a little story for you today, which has been really fun to write. I hope you enjoy it!

First day of Kindergarten. This is a photo of a photo, in black and white, hence the low quality. Forgive me!

..............................................................................


Summers growing up were busy for me. There wasn't a ton of down time. I tried all things extracurricular.

Well, most of the things.

I played sports, took music lessons, dreamed of the theatrical stage and geeked out at academic camps.

I remember playing on two softball teams, basketball camps, volleyball camps, leadership and economic camps (like I said, I geeked out), theater camps and the epitome of my nerdiness: band camp.

Aside from an awesome week-long family vacation and maybe a couple weekend trips to family events in Pittsburgh, my schedule was packed. I loved being in the gym or on a campus learning and doing and having fun with friends.

When the school year came around I was too busy trying to be good at all of the things and studying all of the things that I barely slept. I'm pretty sure that I slept more in college and in grad school, actually. Oh and I tried to be cool, but that was on the back burner. I was better at being a dork.

Needless to say, I didn't have a job when I was in high school. When I tell people this I can feel the judgment as I hear scoffs and witness the sideways glance that makes it seem like I was (or even still am) a privileged brat. I can assure you that wasn't the case. Although, admittedly, I was a brat from time to time.
What? I was a tired teen! Who wasn't a brat?

Anyway, I started to work after high school graduation. By then I knew that my ultimate dream of being on Broadway was ridiculous and that I needed a new dream. I knew I'd figure out that new dream in college. In the meantime I got two jobs: one as a hostess at Bob Evans and another as a concession worker at a local golf course. I kind of loved these jobs and the work kept me busy. Plus, I worked with other youngins and both the restaurant and course closed at a relatively early time so I still got to be social in the evenings. I actually worked at the course throughout college during the summer and Bob Evans year-round. I even graduated to a Bob Evans server. Big stuff, folks. Because tips.

Let me pause for a moment and ask the question you may be wondering:
Why am I talking about my first foray into the working world?
Well, curiously enough, I was introduced to a project TheLadders is currently running asking about bloggers' first jobs and career paths, hence the story today. The picture of me from Kindergarten is just for fun.

Did I pique your interest so far?
Then read on, friends! There's more to the story!

While I was in college I had a couple of internships in DC. I was a Political Science and Broadcasting double major at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, dreaming of one day being on CNN. I have more of a face for radio, though, so I was more involved in radio than TV. Anyway, my internships took more of a political focus than broadcasting. I interned in DC for my hometown congressman and the following summer at a non-profit. Those two internships were shaped by the incredible experiences of the city. Sure I learned some things, like how to fold constituent letters like a BOSS and research boring policies, but mainly I learned that I wanted to call DC home after graduation.

But what to do? CNN sure wasn't happening and I considered being a lawyer. So I got a job at a large law firm in Dupont Circle and fell in love with DC even more. I also made great friends and so many memories. Honestly though, after two weeks at the firm I knew law wasn't for me.

Quick lesson roundup:
By the age of 22 I knew a few things: I was never going to be on Broadway or CNN, the life of law was not for me and DC was where I wanted to live.

What to do, what to do...

Admittedly, I slept more and partied more when I was in DC. Granted, these are two things I did a fair amount of in college, but definitely took advantage of post-college since I had so much more free time than I was ever used to having. I also knew that I needed another degree because I was basically switching careers at this point and couldn't afford to have an unpaid internship to get my foot in the door. I also knew I wanted to stay in DC. But a career change was daunting.

When I was 23 I was set on applying to grad school, but I just needed to pick what I wanted to do! I took a lot of time and prayer to reassess what I didn't like (law, traditional desk jobs, working paycheck to paycheck), what I was good at (Excel, talking to people, organization, teamwork), balanced with my interests (being social, learning new things), the classes I liked growing up (history, math, communications, some politics) and the landscape at the time (the growth of social media and tech in general).

After all of that thinking and all of the prayers, I figured a Communications Masters Degree was the ticket. I started grad school with a focus on Political Communication and an interest in non-profit work. I volunteered and got an internship at Street Sense that first year, followed by another (paid!!!) internship. It was here, at The Collaboration Project under the National Academy of Public Administration and incredible mentors, where I found my "calling," if you will. I learned some html, Excel tricks, and tactics for getting government agencies to...wait for it...collaborate, and realized that all of what I learned involved marketing.

Pair this experience with some killer statistics classes as well as user experience and communication technology classes in school and I was well on my way to a career in Marketing. For class projects I would do free work for actual brands and provide actual recommendations. I made an online portfolio of my work with my meager html skills. I was confident in my abilities and ready for my future.

By the time I graduated with my Masters of Communication from Georgetown I was ready for a career in Marketing. My husband and I were also ready to take our careers to the next level and moved to Chicago a week after I graduated. I am in my third job since moving here in 2011 and I haven't regretted a thing. I can't even begin to describe everything I have learned as a Marketer in the last four years, but I am now a Strategic Research Analyst, having fun in Excel, brainstorming ideas for our incredible clients and working with the smartest people in the industry.

Not too bad for a Bob Evans hostess band geek, eh?

My story certainly isn't over. I have so much more that I want to do and accomplish in my career and in life. Honestly, the more I learn the more I know what I don't know...you know?

I'm not sure where my current position will lead me, but I have kept an open mind so far and I think that will guide me wherever I land next. Thankfully, I have my wonderful husband, faith, family, friends and mentors to help me as I continue the journey.

Current headshot :)

..............................................................................

I have quite a twisted tale, and I'm not sure what I have said and done would inspire anyone looking for career advice. However, this was a really fun reflection. I am so tickled that TheLadders was curious enough about me to invite my post and I have them to thank for some new goals percolating in my head.

What's your story?

Have a good one!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Forgive my Absence Giveaway!


Hi there!
Yeah it's been almost a month since my last post. This whole blogging thing really got away from me.

I won't post an empty promise that I'll blog more often, though, because I'm not sure if I can follow through.  Just being honest, here. #realtalk

So to make up for my absence (assuming you care that I've been absent in Blogland?) I'm going to do what real bloggers do: offer a giveaway. Because free stuff is fun and because I love all of you. (Even though only one of you can win. Sorry!)

So here we go. Free stuff!

I went to Design Darling and picked out something cute for the Lucky One who wins. While I wish I was cool enough to know and/or partner with Mackenzie of Design Darling, I did this on my own. But you should just check out her blog and her boutique anyway. I love everything about both. Enjoy!

Also, fun fact: after I bought these super cute napkins from Design Darling they went out of stock. So now if you win you will have an exclusive item! Lucky you!!
I love these napkins for many reasons, don't you?

Enter to win below! You have until Sunday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Oh and here's a picture of me, because bloggers are supposed to do that, too (although mine is iPhone 4s quality):


Have a good one!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Recipe: Healthy Shredded Chicken Burrito Bowl


Hi there!

I've talked before how I'm following the 21 Day Fix meal plan and exercises as part of my journey to live a healthy life. In addition, I love to cook and have adapted many recipes from Pinterest to keep my work lunches interesting while following the meal plan. 
I don't know about your work situation, but I am so lucky to work in an incredible environment with many tasty options around me. However, the struggle is real and the temptations happen often! If I don't keep my lunches interesting, I'm much more likely to eat unhealthy food!

So today I'm sharing a recipe that I adapted from FOUR recipes that I love!

This recipe is easy and full of flavor. It makes a lot of food, too. Yay for leftovers!
I brought this for my work lunch yesterday (and today!). It's basically chicken and veggies with some spices. It was SO filling and made my co-workers jealous!


Prep time: ~ 20 minutes
Cook time: ~ 60 minutes 
Total time: ~ 80 minutes (I'm a slow cook, so this may be different for you!)

21 Day Fix containers per serving (approximate): 1.5 green, 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue (and I cheated slightly and added 1 orange of low-fat shredded cheese!)

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. chicken breast
  • 1 medium or large spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, however you like to cut it
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 green pepper, however you like to cut it
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, however you like to cut it
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa (use your preferred level of spiciness, but make sure it's low in sugar!!!)
Toppings:
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado (1/4 per serving)*
  • Low-fat shredded cheese (I use 1 orange container per serving...about a tablespoon I think?)*
  • *If you're strict, you should probably choose avocado OR cheese and not add both. Buuuut a little bit of cheese just sounded too good to me. I include it on mine :)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 
  2. Shred chicken 
    1. Place 2 quarts of water over medium heat
    2. Once the water is warm, add the chicken and simmer for 10-15 minutes (don't boil!)
    3. Let cool then shred
    4. Set aside
  3. Prep and bake spaghetti squash
    1. Cut in half (the hardest part!)
    2. Remove seeds and strings
    3. Lightly mist with olive oil and place face down on baking sheet
    4. Bake 40 minutes
    5. Let cool a few minutes, then use a fork to remove "noodles"
    6. Set aside
  4. While that's all cooking, get to chopping those veggies!
  5. Add olive oil to big skillet, throw in all chopped veggies and spices and cook to desired tenderness (for me, I start with the onions and garlic, get those nice and tender and then add peppers and corn. Then I toss in the spices, beans and salsa.)
  6. Add shredded chicken and spaghetti squash "noodles" to the skillet and mix up!
  7. Serve on plate and add toppings.
  8. Enjoy!


Let me know if you try this, what you think and how you adapted it for yourself!
Have a good one!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: Unearthed Photos and Videos!


BorrowedHeaven

Hi everyone! 
I'm joining Macy & Meg's Wedding Wednesday linkup again!

I have a good reason to join today, I promise.
Yes, I'm an old married lady at this point, but I just have to share.

My friend, Daniela, and I were chatting the other day and she said she had a lot of photos and videos to show me from my wedding.

Say whaaaat?
I really thought that I had seen everything from our day but I am SO happy she shared! 

Here are a few from her phone! 
My bridesmaids helping me with the family veil.
I am so in love with this photo!


This cracks me up! My Mom is so awesome:
 

A video of the veil process:
video

Finally, a video of our glow stick pedicab sendoff!
video

It was so fun to take this stroll down memory lane. It makes me want to go through all of my photos from weddings I've attended and send them to the couples!


Thanks for reading!
Have a good one!
 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Work it Out Wednesday: Week 29

 photo WorkItOutWednesday_zps7175f1b0.jpg

Hi gang!

It's been quite a while since I've posted a wellness post.

Why, you ask?
Well, I have been busy but mainly I have been unmotivated to post.

You see, I keep working out 5-7 times a week for at least 30 minutes a workout, but my snacking and drinking and (lack of) portion control have kept me from being happy with my body.

Why would I bore you with posts about that on a weekly basis?

I'd rather not post.
Which is what I've done.
But now I'm back to tell you why and hopefully by writing it out I will actually push through.

Honestly, I disgust myself.
Yeah that's a little dramatic but it's true. I look gross. I feel gross...and I'm frustrated that even though I workout and eat well (most of the time) I look and feel gross (all of the time). It's just not fair. Why do some people eat equal or more bad stuff than I do, workout less than I do and stay thin? 
I.DON'T.GET.IT.
OK fine. It's because of science and metabolisms and stuff.
Still sucks.
And the more I get mad and sad at myself, the more I want to eat and drink. It's not a good cycle.

To help combat my recent feeding frenzy I restarted Beachbody's 21 Day Fix. I've been doing well, even though I have already derailed a bit (chocolate happens when cramps happen. TMI? Whatever, #realtalk). However, aside from my chocolate attack I already feel better by overall eating less junk and shrinking my portions, so that's good at least. Hopefully I will see some results because I struggle to look in mirrors, get dressed and take photos.

It's pretty sad that my main goal is to be OK with the possibility of taking photos in social situations. I have canceled or thought of canceling plans with friends because I don't want to be in the photos that could potentially take place.
I hope that this ridiculous anxiety goes away soon. It's not fun and is completely selfish.

Enough of all of that, I am now going to be my peppy self for the rest of this post!
Exclamation time!!!

I have a few 21 Day Fix Pinterest workouts and recipes to share today, in case you're curious what I'm up to!

Weekly disclaimer:
Remember what I said about my lack of qualifications? Please keep in mind that I am aware that I am chubby and have no fitness/nutrition authority. I'm just trying to spread some wellness love as I fight the battle to live well myself.

Weekly Workout:
  
{via}

{via}

How I made it harder: Nada.
Overall impression: The first one is pretty short and is just a taste of the Upper Body workout, but the triceps one is super tough. I love it!
Sweat factor (on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is when I look like I just got out of the shower): About a 6.
How I felt when it was over: Pretty good!
Would I do it again? Obviously! Better question: will YOU do it? Please tell me if you do and what you think!


Weekly Recipe:

I made this a while ago and it's SO good that I'm making it again! My lunches will be so delightful!
{via}

I'm also giving an Indian recipe a try tonight. It's 21 Day Fix-approved and was really hard to find but I'm making it!I will post pictures and the recipe if it's tasty! :)

Weekly Motivation:

I really need to remember this.
{via}


Weekly Workout Sass:
My little adaptation of this quote:



Have a good one!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I'm [DRAMATIC SARCASM] "Obsessed!"


Hi there!

My friend Stephanie wrote a hilarious post, inspired by other bloggers. I feel like this should be a link-up, but for now it's just for fun. In a very unscientific manner, I randomly polled eighteen friends and family members and asked, "What are three things you think I'm obsessed with?" The results were not surprising, especially how most couldn't limit my obsessions to just three.

What can I say? I like a lot of stuff...that is apparently perceived as obsession.
I can't say I disagree.








Some observations:
  • It's kind of funny how I had the same number of people tell me that I'm obsessed with my husband as I am with Teddy and the Steelers.
  • I have a thing for animals, especially if they are fluffy. It's true. They are so cute!
  • Obviously I love my nieces. I mean, duh.
  • In reference to Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, primping, fashion, good deals and weddings, it's pretty obvious that I am perceived as a girly-girl! 

And my brother added a second entry:

"Ugly sweaters, this blog post, that Lu Lu Lilly clothing store, live sporting events, got milk ads, adult beverages, NSYNC, Purple (the color, not the movie/play), the Capitol Building and Cozy Coupes."

My brother clearly knows me very well and I think his whole list deserves a blog post on its own.
I'm considering it.

Try this out with your friends! It's so fun!
Have a good one!

Monday, June 15, 2015

VittleWise: Yummy Food for a Good Cause!


Hi there!

I am so excited to share my friend's incredible non-profit organization with you today. When my buddy, Ed, told me about his new venture my eyes opened a little wider and I grew in admiration of my courageous friend and his colleagues.

VittleWise is a nonprofit organization located in Chicago focused on providing food education and access to folks with limited time, resources and access to well-balanced meals. I took the following info from the Indiegogo page, YouTube channel and website:

"VittleWise provides food education and assistance to low-income families who struggle with food security as well as healthy cooking tips and kitchen tricks that save time and money. 

VittleWise focuses its efforts on SROs. Single room occupancy (SRO) units are low-income housing units that are government subsidized for people who struggle with homelessness and poverty. 

Residents of SROs only have a microwave for cooking a donated supply of mostly canned goods from local food banks. With limited cooking knowledge and limited resources, many struggle with malnutrition and much food becomes wasted.

Our solution to help prevent these issues is with the Microwave Meals Cookbook. We researched the commonly donated food items to make 21 meals using a microwave. We are looking to distribute these cookbooks and provide training for residents in SROs.

So far, VittleWise has donated over 100 Microwave Meals Cookbooks to individuals living in low-income housing units. These cookbooks are designed to make cooking easier and more enjoyable when dealing with limited resources."

When I sampled the cookbook I was AMAZED.
You guys. I'm not exaggerating. The recipes are SO good.

I made french toast, sushi and gnocchi!
All healthified and all requiring only a few ingredients. It was awesome to make the recipes so quickly and easily, too!

I admit that I shamefully knew nothing previously about the need for this cause. I am so grateful for VittleWise for the education and the inspiration. I don't get anything for promoting VittleWise except the honor to call the CEO my friend.

If you know anyone who may need the cookbook, please direct them to the site. If you would like to help, either visit the many opportunities listed on the site or visit their funding page to help them reach their goal of printing and donating a cookbook to all 6,000 SROs in Chicago! 

Thanks for reading! Please pass along to your networks and help spread the word!