My Morning Routine

For reasons unknown, I have always loved waking up early in the morning.  There’s something so satisfying about greeting the day when most of the world is still asleep, and knowing that I have a good chunk of time to myself before I leave the apartment.  Over the past few months, I’ve been establishing a morning routine that pushes me to use that extra time to get myself ready to tackle the rest of my day. Full disclaimer:  I don’t have it down to an exact science, and it definitely doesn’t happen every day.  However, on the mornings that I do rise and grind, I’ve noticed that for the rest of the day I’m more productive, have more energy, and feel genuinely much happier.  What’s not to love about that?

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I’ve really been loving this routine, and I do think that the early wake-up call is 100% worth it.  And so, without further ado, here she is:

1) 4:00~4:15 AM: Wake up and drink a glass of water!  I’m always thirsty when I wake up, and I find a cold glass of water perks me right up first thing in the morning.  PS- I KNOW that this is incredibly early, but since I need to be out of the house by 6:30 AM to be at work on time, there’s no other way around this wakeup time if I want a couple hours to myself at the beginning of the day.

2) 4:15-4:20:  Water in hand, I like to head straight to my desk and jot down something that I’m grateful for or looking forward to in my gratitude journal.  This small act takes all of five minutes, and truly helps set a positive tone for the rest of my day.

3) 4:20-4:30: Write my to-do list in my Erin Condren planner.  Even though I often add more items to this list as the day goes on, I feel more prepared to tackle the day if I have a rough roadmap of what I need to accomplish beforehand.

4) 4:30~5:15ish: Sweat session.  Since most of my afternoons are jam packed with class, homework, or errands and chores, if I want to work out, it needs to happen in the morning.  I’ve recently been LOVING this HIIT (high intensity interval training) program from Way of Gray.  I will not lie…they’re hard, but I always feel amazing afterwards.

5) 5:15-6:15: Shower, get dressed, apply makeup, etc.  I try to squeeze in another glass or two of water during this “get ready” time.

6) 6:15-6:30: Make coffee, a green smoothie, pack my lunch, and GO!

What does your morning routine look like? Any tips to make waking up easier? I’d love to hear!

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Happy Things

Hello! It’s been a little over a week since my last post (sorry!)  My school district had our April vacation last week, and to be honest I just needed the time to unplug.  I tackled no to-do lists, slept in, hosted a clothing swap with some girlfriends , and caught up on a few shows I’ve been neglecting (read: I feel bad making T watch them with me).  My staycation was relaxing and glorious, and left me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the end of my LAST SEMESTER OF GRADUATE SCHOOL!!!

I do have a couple of fun posts coming up later this week, but in the meantime, here are some things that have brought a smile to my face lately.

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{nearly court-side at the Celtics game}
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{maddie cat being snuggly}

Luckily, April vacation kicked off with a Red Sox game on Marathon Monday! It was so fun to be in the middle of all the excitement on one of the first truly beautiful spring days here in Boston.

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{fenway!}
grading
{grading papers in the sun}
margz
{a marg for me, a marg for you}
cheese board
{cheeseboard: complete with options for vegans and vegetarians (and cheese-loving omnivores)}
clothes swap
{swappin}

I’m happy to say that the clothes swap was a success! I scored some really great pieces, made a ton of room in my closet, and was still able to donate some good quality items that no one wanted by the end of the night.  Win-win-win!

What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear!

Daily Do’s

When it comes to doing my hair every morning, the word that comes to mind is…simple.  I’ve been growing my hair out for a little over a half a year now, and between its length, getting used to my bangs again,  and my lack of sophisticated hair styling skills, my go-to do’s are usually very low key.  And let’s be real, I’m around 6th graders all day, and they could care less what I look like anyhow.

That being said, I do want to look professional and stylish (read: look like I’m ‘adulting’) while I’m at work, going out with friends, or having a date night with T.  Here are my go-to styles for when I want to look put together, without investing too much time getting ready.

1) Low, messy pony:  Okay, I know I’m hardly break new ground here, but this hairstyle is one of my favorites for days when I know I’ll be running around.  I don’t like how my hair looks tied back in a ponytail if it’s in its natural state, so I usually whisk my straightener over the top layer of my hair before tying it back for a smoother effect.

front pony
{front; cheesin}

side pony

2) Sleek half-up half-down: I’m not entirely crazy with how my hair looks completely down after straightening it, so I usually tie half of it back to add a little volume.  This do takes about 10 minutes to throw together, which is ideal on mornings when I’m running a tad late!

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3) Top Knot: This is by far one of my favorite hairstyles.  I have some layers in my hair right now that make it difficult to wrestle it into a bun, so this look works best on me when I’m between shampoos and my hair has a bit of product in it.

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{front}
bun side
{side}

4) Curly with pinned back pieces: This do requires more of a time investment, but it does the trick on days when I want to look a little more polished.  To style, I wrap small sections of my hair around the barrel of a 1″ curling iron in alternating directions around my whole head.  Then, I grab two same-ish sized pieces from the front of my hair, loosely twist them once, and pin them to the side of my head.  The curls make this look feel a little more elevated, while pinning back the front pieces keeps my hair out of my face while I’m running around my classroom all day.

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5) Curly: This look is my overall favorite, but as its the most time consuming, I usually reserve it for date nights or dressier occasions.

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What are your favorite hairstyles? I’d love to hear!

Think of Brighter Days: Girls Weekend in NoHo!!!

We all know how much I love a good girls’ weekend, and this past one was no exception!  A few months ago Barefoot Truth, a band my girlfriends and I have loved since college, announced that they were playing a one-night-only reunion show in Northampton.  Naturally, we took advantage of the show and planned a reminiscent weekend getaway in our old stomping grounds so that we could attend the concert, catch up with each other’s lives, and eat embarrassing amounts of food.  Win, win, win.

We stayed in the best air bnb, went for a morning hike, grubbed out on some tapas, and jammed out to Barefoot Truth’s show (which was incredible per usual, despite a fire alarm delay!)  I was terrible at taking pictures throughout the weekend, and some of these are stolen from my girlfriends, but they’ll just have to do!

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trail blazin
silly
gotta have a silly one
nice
selfie stick city
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a tamer trail
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view from the top of mt. sugarloaf
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proud hikers
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jammin

What did you do this weekend? I’d love to hear!

Feeling Myself: National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon

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Hello! If you love fighting the good fight for women’s rights, specifically for their right to make their own decisions about what to do with their bodies, then read on! If not, read on anyway, and please do so with a kind heart and an open mind.

While this blog has never been an outlet to voice my political and personal opinions about serious matters such as abortion access, I feel compelled to do so now (more on that later). As a feminist and a woman, I firmly fall on the pro-choice side of this debate.  I believe that all women should have the respect and trust of society to make decisions that are the best for themselves and their loved ones, including the legal right to safely and legally terminate an unwanted pregnancy.  Abortion access is a medical necessity, and legally restricting this procedure takes control of a woman’s body away from her, and places it into the hands of the lawmakers (read: politicians who, for the most part, are older white men).  In short, it is nothing short of critical for us as a generation to ensure that our women have access to abortion if they so choose, for no one should be able to decide what happens to a woman’s body except for HER.

Why am I ranting about a women’s health/feminist issue? Well…

A single click on Facebook recently got me back in touch with Tiffany T, a bad ass career woman and activist whom I met wayyyyy back in freshman year of college (go Butterfield dorm!).  Tiffany works at the National Network of Abortion Funds, and is currently involved with their annual Bowl-a-Thon for abortion access.  Here’s what she has to say about her work and this important fund raiser:

Hi! I’m the Member Support Coordinator, so I provide support to our members (abortion funds!) to have strong, sustainable, and effective organizations. I’ve participated in the Bowl-a-Thon every year since 2013, and I’ve already beat my personal best this year! There are over 2000 people raising money for the fund; some are raising money for our national work, like I am, but most people are raising money for their local abortion funds. We’re trying to raise $800,000 in total, and the average donation is under $40. So it really shows how powerful we can be when we get every day people aware of an issue.

 When I ‘liked’ a link she’d posted about the event, she sent me a personal message thanking me for the love and giving me more information about how to donate to the cause.  Needless to say, this is an issue I care deeply about, and I happily donated my own hard-earned money.  For anyone interested in learning more about the Bowl-a-Thon, or for anyone who would like to make a donation, visit Tiffany’s page here.

Again, I know this is a “hot button” topic, and I am fully aware that not everyone out there will have the same opinions as I do.  That being said, I am open to any discussion at all on this topic, as long as it’s respectful, kind, open-minded, and positive (myself included).

Currently Craving: Home Edition

Hello all! I have some very exciting news; T and I are moving!!! Apartment hunting in Boston is more or less real estate hell, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it took us a good 10+ showings before we finally found our new place, but it was well worth the wait.  We don’t move in until September, but I’m already getting so excited to decorate! I’m going for a relaxed, colorful, and inviting bohemian vibe for the new place, and I’ve already spent longer than I care to admit perusing Wayfair.com for new home decor goodies.  Here are some of my absolute favorites:

I am in love with this colorful canvas.  I would hang it as a statement piece above the sofa in our new living room, or maybe as a ‘headboard’ for our bed.

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pretty canvas

I would use this shelf as a space to house hand towels for guests, a fragrant candle, and a pretty trinket.  Hey, bathrooms should be dressed up too.

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This pintuck pillow from Urban Outfitters looks just plushy enough to actually use on an every day basis, and has that bohemian touch that I’m looking for.  Plus, it comes in a ton of colors which is always a perk!

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To say that I’m obsessed with this rug is an understatement.  I love pretty much everything about it, from its color scheme to its faux distressed pattern. Enough said.  I’d place this in our living room where, juxtaposed with neutral furniture, it could add a pop of color and texture.

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I really like the understated simplicity of this mirror.  True, its silver edges have a funky design embedded in them, but the overall effect is far from overwhelming.  I would prop this mirror up on a table in the entry way of the new apartment.  Paired with a couple of accent bowls and a framed photograph of T and I, this mirror would pull the entire look together.

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silver mirror

 

Last and certainly not least, I am seriously wanting to buy this faux steer head from Wayfair.com.  I would NEVER purchase a real skull to hang on my wall, but despite my aversion to taxidermy, I cannot help but love the desert vibe that this decoration brings to a room.  This fake skull is my solution: all of the style with none of the animal cruelty!

What pieces do you have in your home that you love? Working on a new project? A move? I’d love to hear- until next time!

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Hello, April

Happy 1st Day of April (and April Fool’s Day!)  I celebrated by playing a prank on my poor 6th graders by telling them they had to finish the novel that we’re reading by Tuesday morning! Tame, I know, but I got the better of them, and once I revealed that I was joking they all got a pretty good laugh out of it, so that’s a win- right?

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Anyway, on to the real reason for this post, which is my goal updates!  For New Year’s I vowed to set mini-goals for myself each month to keep myself honest on the whole resolution thing, and it’s been going pretty well so far!  Last month, I resolved to write in a daily gratitude journal…and I have to say its been amazing.  I worked writing in my journal into my morning routine, and I can genuinely say that it had a hugely positive effect on my everyday mood.  I think it’s important to acknowledge moments in your life, big and small, that bring you joy because, honestly, what’s the point if you don’t? I highly recommend expressing gratitude for the positive things that happen to you, or even lessons you learn after something negative, in written form.  It’s a wonderful stress-reliever and mood lifter, and it leaves a record for you to refer back to on the days where it feels harder to see the bright side.  I whole-heartedly plan on continuing this ritual every morning.

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With March’s goal conquered, I’m ready to tackle my April aim.  Since my last few goals (check them out here and here) focused on my mind and spirit, I wanted to switch gears and focus on something that would give my body a little TLC.  After thinking, a lot, I decided that my April goal will be…..drinking 1 gallon of water per day.  With this goal, I hope to make myself be more mindful of my drinks throughout the day, since right now my main source of fluid is coffee (I know.) I have not been drinking nearly enough water, and my aim is to establish a much healthier habit about consuming it regularly throughout the day.  I wouldn’t hate getting a flawless complexion in the deal either.

Until next time…wish me luck!

Book Talk: Americanah

“Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.”

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 After reading this initial sentence of  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s gorgeous novel, Americanah, it felt utterly impossible not to lose myself in this intricately woven tale.  To say that I loved this book is a gross understatement; I even got to the point where I would read it while walking to work which, for a klutzy person such as myself, is saying something.  Americanah crosses the boarders of Africa, Europe, and North America to tell the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, young lovers who depart to separate countries from their native Nigeria in order to chase their dreams abroad.  Confident and sharply intelligent Ifemelu travels to the United States to attend college, where she encounters and wrestles with issues of race and what it means to be a person of color for the first time.  Calm and pensive Obinze initially plans on joining Ifemelu, but ultimately winds up oceans away in London, where he leads a treacherous life as an undocumented immigrant.  Their story is one of love, race, and finding the courage to accept your identity.

I seriously cannot praise this novel enough.  Aside from spinning a masterful tale that  leaves you constantly wondering what in the world will happen next, Adichie raises some important questions about what race and our perceptions of each other mean.  This book encouraged me to pause often and consider my own awareness of social issues that are happening here in our Western world, and made me feel like parter of a larger conversation that we as human beings should be having.  I highly, highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a novel that honestly discusses race, immigration, and what it means to truly love someone.

What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!

 

Veganish: Goulash

After seven years of not eating meat, I can honestly say that I haven’t missed it much….except when it comes to my mother’s family recipes.  On a typical weekday, my family prepared and ate pretty standard meals; chicken and pasta with jarred Alfredo sauce, mac n’ cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.  However, every so often, my mother would stray from the everyday and cook a dish whose recipe was passed down to her from her mother.  My brother and I would go nuts for these meals, partly because they felt extra special, and partly (at least for me) because eating those foods made me feel closer to my mum, as well as to my grandmother, whom I sadly never got the chance to meet.  I loved the sense of tradition and family that eating those meals gave me, and I love them still.  The down side? All of them contain meat in one way or another.

I recently decided that I was going to try and recreate vegan versions of my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes, with the hope that one day I’ll pass these versions on to my own family.  And so, without further ado, meet my meatless (ha!) Vegan Goulash.

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Goulash is a traditional meat sauce that, according to mum, hails from Poland.  It’s usually made with hamburger and served over pasta, but I swapped those out in favor of soy crumbles and zucchini noodles to veganize (did I just invent a word?) and lighten this dish.  I balanced out this meal with a slice of whole wheat bread and, of course, a small glass of red!

Vegan Goulash with Zucchini Noodles (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • olive oil (roughly 1 TBS)
  • 1 package of soy crumbles- I used Trader Joe’s brand
  • 1 can of tomato paste; 8 oz
  • 1 can of tomato soup; 12-16 oz
  • 2 raw zucchinis, spiralized into spaghetti-like strands
  • salt; to taste
  • pepper; to taste
  • garlic powder; to taste
  • red pepper flakes; to taste

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, sautée the onion, garlic, and pepper in the olive oil until the onions are translucent (~5 min).
  2. Add the soy crumbles, and sautée for a few more minutes.
  3. Add your spices, all to taste.  I prefer a little kick to my sauce, so I used a lot of red pepper flakes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and soup.  Stir your sauce, and allow to simmer until hot.
  5. In the meantime, spiralize the zucchini.  You can heat your noodles through in a pan with some oil if you like, but I prefer leaving them raw.  I find that using 2 zucchinis yields just enough “noodles” for two people, with one serving leftover for lunch.
  6. Once the sauce is hot, ladle immediately onto your raw zucchini noodles, and enjoy!

What have you been cooking up lately? Working on any old family recipes? Creating new ones? I’d love to hear! Until next time!

Happy Things

Happy Monday!!! I cannot lie, after being spoiled by a long weekend, it felt pretty rough to wake up early this morning to dive into the week.  However, I did feel ready to rock and roll after drinking a big glass of water, writing in my gratitude journal, and squeezing in a sweat session before getting ready for work.  Productive mornings make for good days (and weeks) , and I am so glad I forced myself to rise at the crack of dawn to get myself ready for this one!  In the meantime, here are some things that made me smile this past week.

1) My new mantra.

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2) I get an eyeful of this gorgeous view of Boston two times a week when T picks me up from class.  Yes, I am aware of how spoiled I am.

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3) I tried my hand at a new garlic bread recipe, and this one did not disappoint!!! Check out the recipe here.

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4) T makes the meanest Lemon Drop martini. Enough said.

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5) Easter Sunday selfie with my one and only.

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What made you happy last week? I’d love to hear! Until next time 🙂