Monday, November 2, 2015

What I'm Into - October

Wow, do you agree that October flew by? Seriously, I cannot believe that it's November 2nd already. Last month I started a new series of sharing what I'm into each month, but I switched up the categories a bit. 

Painting: Essie Gel Setter Top Coat
I've previously expressed my love of Essie in this post, but I recently discovered this product. I love having painted nails, but manicures are not in my budget at the moment so I researched at home gel manicure products. I decided to give this top coat a try and I love it! It's super shiny, dries fairly quickly, and keeps my manicure looking awesome for about a week and a half.

To Drink: Dunn Bros Infinite Black Cold Press
I enjoy hot coffee, but cold press is my jam. What I love about a growler of Infinite Black Cold Press from Dunn Bros is that it's super easy to customize depending on your mood that day.

Reading: The Speechwriter by Barton Swaim

Texting: New emojis!
I cannot even choose my new favorite! (Sorry Android users - those square outlines are sad - I understand your pain)
Zipper Mouth? 

What were you into in October?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Throw Out 50 Things

After seeing this post on Jess Lively's blog, I grabbed Throw Out Fifty Things from the library. I'm only a few pages in, but I had already started a pile of items to consign so I decided to jump into collecting 50 items to toss over this past weekend! 

The "throw out" phrasing is a bit misleading. I'm interpreting "throw out" as removing from my home, not putting in the trash. In my 50 items I included magazines to recycle and a few things I tossed, but most of the items I collected went to Stuff (a consignment shop) or will be donated.

Here's a pic of most of the items in my most recent purge:

I'd say my first attempt at throwing out fifty things went well and wasn't too challenging since I already had a "get rid of" pile started. I've put a reminder in my calendar to try the challenge again at the end of November, but I've already thought of additional items to exfoliate my home of since completing this yesterday. I'm exciting to remove some clutter and hopefully become more conscious in the purchases I make! I'll keep you updated in the progress. And maybe I'll finish reading the book...

Have you participated in anytime of "purge" like this before? What was your experience like? 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall To Do List

Autumn has officially begun 

and I've created a To Do List 

with the all of the fall essentials! 

  • Visit an apple orchard. 
    • Done! I visited Stone's Apple Barn with my girlfriends yesterday and came home with a bag of delicious apples!
  • Visit a pumpkin patch. 
  • Drink fall-ish beers. 
  • Enjoy fall leaves and foliage. 
  • Savor hot espresso drinks. 
  • Go to a bonfire and eat a s'more. 
  • Make a homemade soup. 
  • Donate to a shelter or food pantry. 

What's on your "Fall To Do List"??

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What I'm Into - September Edition

I cannot believe it is September 30th! Holy cow, we're mid-fall! Well, sort of, last week our temperatures were in the 80's! Anyway, this morning I spotted a new post from Modern Mrs. Darcy about what she's into at the moment. After reading hers, I was inspired to create my own similar post. Here's what I'm into right now... 

Smelling: Fall Candles
Autumn Wreaths. Apple Cider. November Rain. I cannot get enough. 

Listening: The Lively Show
My new favorite podcast! Jess interviews all sorts of interesting people with the theme of adding intention into one's life. Plus she ends each episode with "May something wonderful happen to you today". 

Reading: The Girl on the Train, Why Not Me?, and The Skimm (of course) 

Watching: Whine About It

Doing: #ListersGottaList Challenge with The Reset Girl
This has been such a fun way to journal all month. At the beginning of the month, Cory provides subscribers to a list of prompts (one for each day). People share pics of how they decorate on instagram with #listersgottalistsept - it's so fun to see what others do! I keep it pretty simple compared to most. 

Farewell, September! Cheers to October! 

follow me with bloglovin

What were you into in September? 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

New Time List

I'm I finished grad school. Let me say (well, type) that again. I FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL! 

After two years of papers, reading, group projects, and presentations, I've completed my Masters in Public Administration program. (If you've never heard of MPA it's very close to an MBA just geared more toward people who want to work in the public or nonprofit sectors.) 

Finishing my degree has brought relief, but also disbelief. I no longer have to worry about making a commitment on a class weekend in the future. I never have to think "I should be working on school work" again. I don't have to get a coffee after work to help me as I write a paper late into the evening. I am nervous excited about what will fill this new found time. So I decided to make a list of ideas.
  • Read for pleasure
  • Take up a new hobby 
  • Craft Projects
  • Get back into a regular work-out schedule
  • Enjoy Happy Hour
  • Watch documentaries
  • Go to more community events
  • Volunteer
  • Blog!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Weekend Recap

Three things this weekend

Whoa. That weekend went by so fast!

1. Dance Recital. My baby sister rocked it at her dance recital. They preformed The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.

2. Circle of Life. On the same day this weekend, a family member went to heaven, another got married, and a friend had a baby. A life moving on, two lives becoming one, and a new life entering the world. 

3. Camp Staff Blessing. Each summer the board of Camp Shalom has an opportunity to meet the summer staff before the summer officially begins. The new summer was marked with the dedication of a beautiful new cross and staff blessing. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Favs - Summer Essentials

Happy Friday! 

With Memorial Day this past Monday, I'm all about preparing for summer. Today on Friday Favs I'm sharing a few of my favorites for summer! 

     I love being outside this time of year, but I hate the gnats! It's really hard to read in the garden or master warrior one during yoga in the park when bugs won't leave you alone! I tried this product last year and it's awesome! It works, plus it is natural and local and actually smells good. 

     This lotion is awesome! It helps build a tan and really does firm a bit! I especially notice the firming in my thighs. I've also used the Jergen's version - it is great too (and may work a little better), but usually I go for the cheaper option. 

Check out my other Friday Fav posts here

What are some of your favorite summer essentials?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekend Recap - Labor Day

this weekend in three

1. All Outside Saturday! I started the day with coffee, a granola bar, and a book (Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay) in my garden. 

Stop two was yoga in the park. (Last week there was a huge story in the QC Times about it and I made the photo gallery!!) 

Stop three was lunch at Fresh Deli and a beer from the Front Street Tap Room on the Freight House Deck. After a shower and a nap, it was time for a bar with an outdoor band and a plethora of dancing! 

2. Memorial Day Tradition. When I was younger, my family always visited the cemetery with my grandma and dad's aunt and went to lunch (usually at Bishop's). My grandma lives near Des Moines and Aunt Hilda passed in January. So this year it was just my family who visited Hilda, her husband George, and my Grandpa Vaughn. After, we went to Steak 'n Shake, a favorite of Hilda's.

3. QC Criterium! The weekend ended with the Quad City Criterium! Such an exciting event to watch and this year was the race's 50th anniversary! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekend Recap - Mother's Day

three things about this weekend

1. school presentations. I finally had this huge presentation for grad school that I've been working on since Feb. It was a group paper and presentation and I learned a lot, but I'm glad it's over. Only two classes to go!!

2. new orleans style iced coffee. After drinks with friends on Friday night, I decided that an iced coffee would be the perfect way to start my Saturday (and help me survive the presentations). I had heard many good things about Redband Coffee's New Orleans Style Iced Coffee and they were all correct. Seriously, so delicious. I think I could make it the only beverage I drink. Luckily for my bank account, both locations are on one-ways so it isn't always convenient. 

3. Mother's Day. We celebrated my mom and grandma with going to church, a trip to a huge local craft fair, and a late lunch. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Friday Favs - Nails

It's Friday!

(well not anymore. I had this post all ready but forgot to actually post it yesterday...)

Today I'm going to share my favorite for nails...

 ...Essie Polish!

I don't always have my nails painted, but when I do it's with Essie! I believe I discovered Essie in college and it has become pretty much the only brand of polish I use. It comes in gorgeous colors, holds up well, and comes off easily with remover (no stains after wearing dark colors!).

The other night, I decided to try something new though! I have a friend who sells Jamberry and she sent me a sample so I tried it out. I struggled a bit while applying it and it isn't perfect (it's the striped one), but I'm excited to see how it holds up. And she was sweet enough to send more than one sample so maybe my second attempt will be better. 

All opinions shared are my own. I receive no compensation for these reviews. 

What are your favorites for nails? 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

77 Days

77 days. The number of days I was unemployed before receiving a job offer. 77 days.

I get it that at about 26 years old I haven't had a lot of time to experience true struggle and I know my life has been fairly easy this far. But even with few truly challenging experiences, I can assure you that unemployment is awful. I'm not sharing this for pity or to compete with others who struggle. I'm sharing for personal catharsis and with the hope that you may understand unemployment a bit better. 

The worst 77 days. 
I felt hopeless, sad, exhausted, lost, useless, lonely. I lost confidence in myself. Some days I couldn't find an ounce of motivation. 

The hardest 77 days. 
For me the toughest part of unemployment was not knowing when it was going to end. I quickly lost the ability to concretely plan anything in the future - scheduling a haircut a few months away was stressful. 

The longest 77 days.
Every day was the same. Weekends were no different from weekdays. Without having somewhere you must be everyday, days run together. Job searching and applying can occur any day of the week. 

As my dad said when I called him with the news of my job offer, "It only takes one". It took one offer for all the terribleness and stress of those 77 days to dissipate. My tears of worry and frustration turned into tears of relief and excitement. 

I think it will take a bit of time, but I hope that I become thankful for my unemployment experience. So far it's helped me with one thing. Perspective. I learned that challenges that once brought me frustration are actually not that terrible. I hope that I'll be able to keep that perspective as I venture back into the "employed" category. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend Recap

three things about this weekend

1. Celebrating a new job in two ways! First picking up my sibs from school and stopping at Starbucks for treats and fraps. My bro at a blueberry muffin in the time it took me to snap this pic. Secondly, enjoying brews with my Besties! 

2. Enjoying the weather: working in the garden, decking (not the material used to build a deck, but the act of chatting on a deck on a sunny day), and soccer watching. We had gorgeous weather all weekend and I tried to be outside as much as I could. 

3. Procrastination. Per usual I procrastinated on my school work... 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favs - Cookies

Confession: all cookies are my favorite. Seriously, I love them all.

So today's favorite isn't my only favorite cookie, but my new favorite cookie. 

I've officially found the grown-up version of Chewy Chips Ahoy (holy cow, what an exciting day when we had these as a kid!). Soft Baked Montauk from Pepperidge Farm are so delicious! Soft with huge chocolate chunks! Yum! 

Check out my other Friday Favs posts here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How are you?

Last week, I read this cupcakes and cashmere blog post about the impact of responding positively. I've been thinking about it ever since. Emily writes about the impact of another's positive response to the "How are you?" question had on her day. She shares how the positive response always put her in a better mood and I agree. 

Her post reminded me of an experience from a few years ago when I was volunteering at a clothing ministry. The ministry was set up like a department store and those in need could visit and choose items that they needed free of charge. I was working in the bagging area and the essential "How are you?" question was being delivered continually. One gentleman's response was, "I can't complain!". I was surprised by his answer. He was here because he was in need of new clothing. He was probably carrying or wearing all of his possessions and he had nothing to complain about?!? Not one thing? He wasn't just "okay" or "getting by". He found nothing to complain about. 

This week I'm working to give positive, but honest and constructive answers to "How are you?". Basically, I want my answer to be thoughtful and not my standard "oh, fine" or "not too bad". Hopefully, it will brighten not only another's day, but also my own. 

(These pictures are from the walk I took this morning. And there is no filter being used here - the sky is that blue! Spring is simply gorgeous!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Recap - Bloom and Grow

Three Things about this Weekend

1. This weekend I got to attend my churches women's retreat. The quick retreat took place at one of my most favorite places, Camp Shalom. A little over 20 women gathered for this gardening themed retreat. We started with socializing over appetizers then a pasta dinner. Our gardening theme started with us each sharing a story where we had to "dig deep" to overcome a situation. Next, we had a simple worship in candlelight. For some of us the evening ended with an easy night hike. 

The next morning started with a morning walk around camp and a lovely breakfast of quiche and cinnamon rolls. Then we started our reflection/discussion sessions. Each was related to a gardening activity and related to a story of an historical or present day woman. We talked about "sowing seeds" of desired growth in our lives along with "weeding and tending" where we thought about things that nourish us and things that keep us from being who we want to be. Lastly, we talked about celebration through "harvest". After lunch and another walk, we did a flower themed craft and finished the retreat with worship and communion. 

The retreat was so quick that I'm still reflecting on our discussions. We each got a journal booklet so I'll be going through that over the next few days. My most favorite part of the retreat was forming connections with women of a variety of ages and enjoying the quiet of camp. 

2. My brother played in his first outdoor soccer game of the season on Sunday and the weather was perfect! 

3. My tulips are starting to bloom! 
(some pesky bunnies have been munching on the leaves though!)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Favs - Emojis

With the recent iPhone update, talk of new emojis is in the air. Honestly, my main disappointment is that there is still no taco emoji! Seriously, who wouldn't use a taco emoji?? I figured it to be an obvious addition, but apparently Apple did not. 

Anyway, here are my frequently used emojis and reasoning behind some of my choices. 

1. Thumbs up and down: applicable in so many situations! I use these all the time!

2. Straight Mouth Teeth Showing Face: Perfect for anything intense or awkward. Aka various moments on The Bachelor or the end of Scandal last night. 

3. Pizza, Spaghetti, Wine, and Beer: food staples. duh.

4. Octopus (and animals in general): I'm not sure why, but I send it them in many texts to my sister and dad.

5. Dancing Girls and Girls in Dresses: me and my friends.

Are you an emoji user? What are your favorites? 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friday Favs - Cold Survival

I'm officially suffering from a spring cold. It is terrible. (hence this Friday Favs post on Saturday) Luckily, I think I'm finally over the worst (which was brainstorming ways to remove my ears to alleviate the pressure...). 

Anyway, here are my Friday Favs for Cold Survival:

1. Entertainment: Mine came in the form of Netflix (mostly Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23 and Revenge) and Season 1 of Girls that I got from the library. Variety is key when your sickness lasts 3-4 days!

2. Tea: Nothing like some warm liquids to soothe an achy throat! I found this tea (that's suppose to help the immune system) at HyVee and love it.

3. Tissues with Lotion: An essential when you're going through them at a high rate! 

4. Popsicles: No explanation needed. 

Anyone else out there suffering from a spring cold? What do you do to get through it? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

30 Before 30 Update - Run a 5K

Another one bites the dust! AKA another item on my 30 before 30 list has been completed! Over the weekend, I (mostly) ran a 5K! I finished the Easter Egg Scramble

Before I started training I couldn't remember the last time I ran a significant distance, (I'm more of a treadmill walker so I can read a book at the same time) so I was a bit super nervous about a 5K. I knew I needed some sort of plan for training because I had no idea of where to start. I was already using the app RunKeeper so I decided to sign up for the Beginner 5K plan. Every other day they gave me a different workout to complete.

I missed a few workouts and I didn't start the plan early enough to get the whole training plan completed before the race, but I definitely think it helped! 

Overall, I'm super happy with how I did! The elevation of the race was way harder than I had done in training, but I still ran my fastest pace ever! Plus it was fun and breakfast burritos were served at the finish line!

Read about my 30 before 30 list here or check out my progress here!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Favs - Books (Autobiography-ish Edition)

Time for Friday Favs! 

Today we're (well, I'm) talking books!

Specifically, non-fiction books written by awesome, inspiring, funny women.

  • #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
    • I found this book while browsing the "New" section at the library. I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but what about its title? This book had me at hash-tag. Anyway, #Girlboss is the story of Sophia Amoruso and the way she started the online vintage retailer, Nasty Gal. My favorite thing about Sophia's book is that she encourages the reader to follow their passion into a career. She shares her failures probably more than the details of her success which helps her feel more like a friend who is trying to motivate you into fulfilling your dream.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
    • I've loved Mindy Kaling since the start of the office and her book is funny and empowering. Mindy's book is organized by topic and each topic has a few short stories. Her stories are relate-able and features the topics of body image, work, and relationships. She even has a chapter about her legacy which includes a plan for her funeral as well as a eulogy she writes for herself. Mindy's writing style is conversational which is probably why I have this idea that we are best friends. This book had me literally LOLing at times.
So, if you're looking for a book by a strong and funny female, give these two a try! 
I've heard good things about Amy Pohler's Yes Please and Tina Fey's Bossypants. So those are on my "To Read" list. 

To view other Friday Favs, visit my friday favs page.

(Opinions shared are my own. This is not a sponsored post.)

It's your turn: What great books by strong females have you read lately? Any book suggestions for me?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Things I Hate

Monday, the president of my alma mater issued a statement in response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. President Heckler encourages cooperation and love. "We must find a way to live and work alongside one another in community. We must love one another." He adds that Valpo "will continue to welcome people of all faiths, cultures, and walks of life" in the community. With this development, a plethora of my Facebook friends shared the statement or news stories about it. Unfortunately, within moments each post seemed to have earned at least one negative comment. Hence my topic for today. 

Hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.

things i hate
5. Disease
4. Natural Disasters
3. Poverty
2. Hunger
1. Hate

That's right, the thing I hate most is hate.  

Why is hate the thing I hate most? 
Hate hurts. 
Hate harms. 
Hate ruins. 
Hate separates. 

Hate seems to be the heart of each newscast...
Stories about disagreements between groups turning to violence. 
Comments that put down a group with different beliefs or lifestyle. 
Stories of harm or mistreatment of others.

Hate causes violence and brokenness. 
Hate destroys relationships. 
Hate breaks my heart. 
I hate hate. 

Why do people hate? Love (or at least tolerance) is so much easier. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gimme Some Bloglovin'

You may have noticed a link at the bottom of my posts recently that says, "follow my blog with bloglovin" (and I have a button with the same words on my sidebar). So, I thought I'd fill you in on the blog-reading tool, Bloglovin'

Bloglovin' is a website and app that manages the blogs you follow. Basically, you "follow" blogs you like which creates a feed of blog posts. An update of new blog posts in your feed is emailed periodically. You can also save stories that you want to come back to later. 

Secondly, it's a fun way to find new blogs! Bloglovin' has a section of their website devoted to exploring new blogs where you can search for blogs by topic. Plus they send suggestions based on other blogs you follow in your digest emails. 

Basically, Bloglovin' helps you manage the blogs you already love and find new ones! 

Had you heard of Bloglovin' before? Are you already a Bloglovin' user? What do you like about it? 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Products (aka Friday Favs!)

Great to see you again, Friday! 

Even though the weather here has sort of gone back to winter, it's time for... 
Friday Favs - Spring Cleaning Edition! 

Today, in my last spring-cleaning-themed post, I've decided to share some of the cleaning products that I use regularly. For me, cleaning is all about simple and easy! As products run out I'm trying to purchase things that are more natural and environmentally friendly. 

  • Method: All-Purpose Cleaner
    • I'm a fan of method products overall so it's no surprise that I like this all-purpose cleaner. I use it on basically everything: stove, surfaces, microwave, sinks, etc. Just spray and wipe with a paper towel or cloth. Bonus it smells so good (aka not like most cleaners).  Also, the on bottle instructions read, "to use: spray. wipe. admire." - so cute! 
  • Swiffer: Sweeper and Cloths
    • I still remember the lemony scent of the Pledge that my parents used for dusting while I was a kid, but nostalgia hasn't effected by dusting product choices. Swiffer Sweeper Cloths are great for quickly dusting. After sweeping, I use the Swiffer Wet Cloths on floors. 
  • Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day: Room Freshener
    • This isn't exactly a cleaning product, but you get the idea. When living in an apartment in can be hard to control smells in the building. Examples: someone cooks bacon, someone orders take-out, or someone smokes (even though it's against the rules). This spray helps for sure! Plus, a little goes a long way!
  • Scotch Brite: Soap Scum Eraser
    • I'm all about easy when it comes to cleaning and this product is perfect for the shower/tub and sink! One side is an eraser and the other is a foam sponge. It removes water spots and soap scum with just a bit of water. 
(This is not a sponsored post. Opinions are my own.)

Check out the other posts in my spring cleaning series: The PlaylistThe PlanThe Purge

What's your cleaning product MO? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Purge

I'd like to share some very personal pictures with you all today. 
It's not something I show to everybody. 
I trust that you will not be judgmental or critical. 
I hope you'll appreciate my honesty.  


Here goes nothing! 

My closets. 
(What did you think I was going to show you? Also, how lucky am I that my 1930's apartment has so much closet space!)

Linen Closet -- Pantry -- Coat Closet

Bedroom Closet -- Bathroom Cupboard

My spring cleaning list (yeah, I'm still working on it - priority moved to grad school last week when a final took me a lot longer than I'd expected) requires me EMPTY each closet, clean inside and go through everything before refilling. Confession: I love this sort of task, but it is taking a while. During the process, I thought of a few tips to share:

1. For The Sort: Create a "sorting center". 
     Before you empty a closet, have these five stations ready to go: Keep, Consign, Donate, Move, and Trash. I've seen others use fewer categories, but here's my logic. Keep and Trash are pretty self-explanatory. I like to separate consign and donate, because I know that some items won't be accepted by consignment stores. The "Move" category is for items that actually belong somewhere else or to someone else.

[Tip: Go to the consignment shop BEFORE taking items to donate. I usually end up donating anything that the consignment shop won't take]

2. Sort Part Two: Like Items
During the sorting process, I found some random things that were not with like items. Use this time as a chance to put similar things together. 

3. Refilling: Be open minded!
     Don't be afraid to try new ways of arranging what was in the closet. Hopefully the closet will be less full so you have new options to explore! Plus, you might find something that distracts you (like a box of sorority notes and mementos) between the empty and refill and then you totally forget where everything was before anyway!

[Tip: This is also a great time to reconsider the use storage contains and switch uses if needed!]

4. Use it!
     Samples: I found all sorts of samples in my bathroom cupboard. Many of them have been in there for a while and they were just adding clutter. Anyway, this week I'm using them all up.

     Pantry Items: Plan meals to get rid of pantry items that are almost gone. I'm leaving mine out of the pantry so I think about using them up.

Check out the other posts in my spring cleaning series:
The Plan
The Playlist

I want to hear from you! Do you follow any of these closet cleaning/organizing tips already? What is your best closet organization tip?

Friday, March 20, 2015


Happy First Day of Spring!

I had planned to write a spring cleaning themed Friday Fav's post today, but got distracted by the final I must turn in on Monday along with all the great basketball games today/yesterday and changed my mind. (Seriously, I love March Madness (even though Valpo lost today). So many amazingly-close games!) 

Instead, I will share a few of the pictures that I took in my garden today after clearing away some leaves. 

I love the first signs of spring! 

Flowers bursting through the soil. 
Birds chirping.
Slightly warmer breezes. 

I planted these tulips in the fall so I was most excited to see them!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Plan

Spring Cleaning Continues! 

Being a type-A/planner/list addict, I decided that having a checklist would give my cleaning frenzy some focus. Of course, I turned to Pinterest to find one! 

After a bit of deliberation, I chose the list found in this post from Little Ms Robinson. I thought it was comprehensive and appreciated how it broke each room into small tasks. I love checking boxes so the more chances I get to do so the happier I am! Also, I like that she includes a section about computer clean-up too! 

(This week I'm focusing on spring cleaning. Check out my first post about my Spring Cleaning Playlist.)

I want to hear from you! Is spring cleaning on your to do list this week? What's your spring cleaning plan?