Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's Been a While...and It May Be a While...


Hi there!

I don't know why I never feel like blogging anymore.

Well, I shouldn't say that. I have ideas for posts, like my favorite drugstore makeup finds, life lately photos, surprise stories, my favorite workouts and recipes, travel and sporting event recaps, and of course pictures of Teddy.

And yet I'm so lazy about it.

Who knows, maybe I'll post something substantial this week. I'm not holding my breath, but now that I'm on here typing with a cup of coffee, wearing comfy sweatpants, with my Steelers playing in the background, I am reminded of how much I actually do enjoy writing and reflecting.

See you soon :)

Have a good one!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

6 Years Ago...


Hi there!

Six years ago today I was getting ready for class in my DC Cleveland Park apartment. I decided to wear a dress this day and curl my hair. As I unraveled my curls I remember thinking, "why am I trying so hard?" I was taken aback that I was excited for my evening. I didn't think I wanted to date anyone during grad school. And yet, here I was in a new dress, curled hair and butterflies flitting around in my stomach.

Class was a blur as was my library session that afternoon. 6pm was quickly approaching and I was about to meet up with this super cute and sweet guy at the Georgetown Waterfront for drinks.

As I walked up to the restaurant I remember getting a chill and clutching my scarf a little tighter. The nerves were taking over. Does this guy like me? Are we just friends?

Maybe I did want to date, after all.
In fact, I just wanted to date him.

Then I saw him, checking on our reservation and turning around to see me. He smiled.

Soon after, the evening was filled with nervous yet natural conversation, sangria, chips & guac, a game of 20 questions that never ended, a walk to a wine bar and a kiss in the rain before I hopped in a cab.

My life was forever changed.

Have First Date-iversary, Andrew! I'm so happy it was my last first date 6 years ago.



Have a good one!

Wednesday, September 23, 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!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Life Lately

 photo Life Lately Button_zpsoqdzarzx.png

Hi there!
 
It's been a while since I've written and I've been pretty busy! 
 
Considering that lately I only write about exercise and wellness, I'm guessing that my personal life is of little interest to most of you, but I've seen other bloggers write about themselves so I'm following suit. 
 
Plus, it feels good to write. 
 
I've stopped blogging regularly these last couple of months, so here I am with lots of stories and photos to show for it all. I won't tell too many stories today but I will ask a bunch of photos to do most of the talking.
 
It seems that all we do is travel! 
 
 Since our anniversary on 4/26 we have been to four beautiful weddings! 
 
Chicago:
 St. Joseph, Michigan:
 Hometown!
 Chicago:
 
It is so wonderful to watch dear friends tie the knot. We are beyond thankful to have witnessed such beautiful ceremonies and celebrate with our buddies. Weddings are the best! I love to see my girlfriends looking incredibly gorgeous and to take in all of the details that made their day uniquely theirs. Dressing up and dancing with my husband is pretty great, too. ;)

We have a few more weddings this year, too! SO FUN!

In addition to weddings we have had the pleasure of visiting friends and family for two long weekends!

Memorial Day Weekend in DC:


DC was wonderful. It was the perfect getaway, especially since we saw some of our best friends in our favorite city. I know I've mentioned this before, but we miss that city, our friends and our lives there so much.


Niece's Baptism in Atlanta:


I can't write enough about this occasion. Andrew and I are honored to be Scarlett's Godparents. We were so thrilled to be there and celebrate with the whole family (my side). We savored every minute with our two nieces and can't wait until we are all together again (with both sides!). Living so far from our amazing families (both sides) is so brutal.
 
 
I've mentioned before that I have migraines and TMJ (a jaw-popping thing that's pretty unpleasant). 
 
I'm going to keep it real and write a little update in that department: I'm seeing two physical therapists and one orthopedic doc for my head, neck and jaw pain. As a result from the painful treatment, I'm almost always hurting. It's affecting everything I do: I had to stop boxing, I almost always have a headache which makes me annoyed and when I get frustrated from them I have a negative attitude and just want to crawl home. Sometimes our home is my sanctuary and it's hard for me to leave. Most days I force myself out of bed. Thankfully I workout but I can't lose weight. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm bigger than I've ever been and that adds to my defeated attitude. So annoying.
 
Things could be worse, of course, but if anyone out there is also feeling this nearly constant pain and wants to swap stories/treatments/advice I'd love to connect. 
 
Don't worry, I'm still working out 5-7 times a week for 30 minutes a workout or longer, and I really attempt to eat healthy.
 
Work is going well. I am continually counting my blessings to work with such awesome and smart people. The smarter I realize they are, the more I accept how dumb I am much I have to learn.
 
  Here's a big update for me to actually admit to myself and write for you to read:
Even though life is overall good and God is great, as far as the rest of life goes I'm ready for some change. We watch house flipping shows regularly, puppies and babies seem to be everywhere, and maybe it's the I-just-turned-30 thing, but I want all of those things: a house, a yard, a dog (who loves Teddy, of course!) and a family. There was a time when I never thought I'd be ready to grow up. That time expired and I want that life now.
 
Just not in the suburbs.
Shudder.
(No offense to anyone reading this who lives in the suburbs. You do you!)
 
 Well that's about it, folks!
What's new with you?
 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ooof. Busy.


Hi there!

You guys. Wow busy. I don't want to bore you with my excuses. I also don't want to post to just post, you know?

OK fine, I'm kind of doing that today.

With my birthday, work, working out and traveling, this blog has taken the back-burner. Maybe I'll do a "Life Lately" post next week if you're interested?

I also need to share a really cool cookbook that a friend wrote.

The ideas are in my head I just need the time to execute!

OK fine, I need to MAKE the time to execute.

Whatever.

I miss you. And love you. And I will write a solid post soon.

Promise.