FRIDAY FEELS, #21

Happy, happy Friday! Weirdly enough, I’ve been away for the past two weekends (and will be away next weekend for a wedding), so I’m looking forward to some time relaxing at home and taking advantage of summertime DC things. I had my five year college reunion the first weekend of June and had a blast–some things never change–and was in NYC for a work trip last Thursday and decided to make it into a weekend visit.

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NYC was chaotic and sweaty but a blast as usual! I ate way too much ByChloe (when are they going to open one up in DC?!), caught up with several friends, ate dinner at Bar Primi, saw Mean Girls on Broadway (it was SO good!), visited my favorite little used bookstore, and more. All in all, it was a solid weekend! I’m glad that I opted to come back late Saturday night instead of on Sunday–NYC can be exhausting, so it was nice to have a day to catch up on stuff at home and visit my family for Father’s Day, too.

A few things I’ve been doing/trying this week…

Ocean’s 8: I haven’t seen any of the other Ocean’s movies but knew I wanted to see this one regardless. It was so good!  All of the actresses were amazing, and the movie was equally hilarious and riveting. Everyone in the theater loved it! I actually went by myself and now I’m totally obsessed. I’d go to movies alone sometimes when I first moved to Philly and didn’t know anyone, but I don’t see movies that often in general, so I haven’t gone solo in awhile. Pro tip- AMC theaters offer $5 (plus tax) tickets on Tuesdays, and you can also buy popcorn and a drink for $5, which is such a good deal compared to the normal prices. The theater in Georgetown also had the most comfortable seats that reclined and had footrests. For $12ish, it was the perfect midweek activity/distraction!

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Matcha soft serve: I’m not a huge matcha fan but wanted to try the soft serve at Bon Matcha (which is right near my office) anyway. I didn’t love it (although the swirl that I got had a delicious honeydew flavor) but am glad I tried it–it was still refreshing and obviously looked cool (#sorrynotsorry). I’ve been to Cha Cha Matcha in NYC a few times but generally get their lemonade drinks…matcha just isn’t my thing, but if you like it, definitely check this place out in DC!

Shipt: I decided to try ordering groceries on Shipt, which is Target’s food delivery service. I actually really like a lot of Target’s grocery items, which are also super affordable. While I don’t have a need to have things delivered to my apartment, I stumbled upon a promo code that allowed for two free weeks of the service and free delivery, so I figured I may as well try it (not having to lug stuff around in an Uber was a bonus, too!). Unfortunately, my delivery arrived super late (I requested for it to come between 10 and 11 pm on Sunday night, and the delivery person didn’t arrive until 11:55, which was WAY later than I intended to be awake, especially before the start of the week). She also texted me throughout the shopping trip keeping me posted on which items weren’t in stock and suggesting alternatives. This was definitely helpful, but I was glad that I chose a time that I was awake and at home as opposed to in a situation where I couldn’t have been texting, like if I were sitting in a meeting or at dinner. I ended up emailing the company the next day to complain about the late arrival time–I hate to do stuff like that, but I was pretty frustrated that I ended up being awake for practically an hour later than I intended to be (and I’m almost never up past 11:15 during the week in general!). They gave me a $15 off coupon for a future delivery, which I used later in the week, but that arrived late as well and ended up being a bit of a hassle…all in all, Shipt is a useful enough service if you can be flexible and by your phone, but it doesn’t make sense for me in the long run.

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Craigslisting: It wouldn’t be a DC to a T post without sharing a fun Craigslist find! A ton of people excitedly messaged me on Instagram after I posted a story sharing this gorgeous lucite table I snagged for only $25 last Sunday (I’m glad you guys appreciate my fun finds!). I did have to travel a bit further than usual (into Alexandria) to pick it up, but it was so worth it. The seller was the cutest older woman who told me that she had owned the table for 10 years (it looks flawless, though, which is especially remarkable with lucite), and purchased it for $599! Talk about a steal on my end–though transporting it up the stairs to our first floor was a two-person job, and there was absolutely NO way I would be able to bring it up to my room, which was my original intention. However, it works as a great console in our living room area and is a great quality piece that I’m sure I’ll keep for years to come. I’m still working on the styling, but you get the idea.

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5 Things I’ve Learned from Doing DIYs

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

While I’m far from a DIY expert, I love knocking out a spray paint or sanding project in my spare time. It’s so satisfying seeing a piece of furniture go from blah to beautiful in a matter of hours. However, I’ve also started several projects that ended up being huge flops, and I know plenty of other people can relate! Here are some things I’ve learned from my DIY drama.

1) Patience is key. It may be tempting to start that spray paint project on a super hot or windy day because it’s the only free weekend you’ll have for awhile, but you’ll only end up more frustrated if you begin your work under less than ideal conditions. Check the weather (especially during the summer) to determine whether spray paint will hold or just end up all messy, and if you need to wait a few weeks, it won’t be the end of the world–you’ll thank yourself when your final product looks amazing!

2) Be realistic. I’ve done some DIY projects that I’m super proud of and others that have made me want to start crying! The end result likely won’t be as pretty as the images you see on Pinterest, so if you would feel more comfortable enlisting a friend or professional to help, do it. Even if you snag a cool vintage piece that’s seen better days for cheap and pay someone else to refinish and paint it, it will likely still be a better deal than buying a completed piece from the local antique shop.

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

3) Do your research. I’ve found that asking questions at the hardware store and doing some Googling can really help–it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when purchasing your materials.

4) Painting over paint isn’t always a great idea. I’ve learned the hard way that painting over an existing paint color is super difficult and doesn’t always look great, even if you sand beforehand. As noted in the point above, do your research and figure out if the project you have in mind makes sense to take on, or if it’s better to leave a painted item as is and live with it.

5) Dress accordingly. It seems like a no brainer, but there have definitely been times where I’ve figured plastic gloves would suffice and of course ended up getting spray paint all over my jeans. Wear old clothes and cover your hands; you’ll thank me later!

What DIY tips do you have? I’m more of a painter/refinisher but would love to hear what it’s like to build something from scratch…I haven’t been that ambitious thus far, but I love the look of custom pieces.

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How to Host a Party When You Feel “Too Busy”

forbetterdays4@gmail.com
forbetterdays4@gmail.com

I love entertaining. Opening up my space to the people I love most, connecting old friends with new ones, shopping for the perfect party accessories, and eating delicious food and concocting yummy drinks…yes, please! However, it’s often a little overwhelming to play hostess, even for a small group, due to all of the planning involved. This is especially the case when entertaining during the week. We recently had a party on a Friday evening, which was a blast, but it took some thoughtful prep time during a busy week to make sure that everything was ready to go by after work time the day of our get together.

I’ve realized that while it’s nice to be able to devote an entire Friday evening or Saturday morning to party prep, it’s entirely possible to knock out tasks in smaller increments before/after work the week-of, so I thought I’d share some of my findings on here for how to best prep a few  days in advance.

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3 days before the party: Figure out what you plan to wear and do laundry if necessary. This gives you plenty of time to sort through options and make sure your clothes are clean and ready to go. Think about what you want to serve (if you haven’t already) and make a physical or mental grocery list. If your home isn’t naturally clean/organized, start tidying now! If you’re out and about and see non-perishable items you’d like to pick up (chips and salsa, drinks, party decor, etc), grab ’em!

2 days before the party: Head to the grocery store and pick up all of the remaining essentials. You don’t want to shop too much earlier, or fresh items may start to go bad (or accidentally get eaten!). Continue tidying your house so that you won’t have much to do the day-of.

1 day before the party: Remind guests of the event and the best way to get into your apartment/find parking/etc. This is especially useful for weeknight events when people may be planning to head to your place straight from work and need to make arrangements ahead of time. Empty overflowing trash and recycling bins and do a quick vacuum.

Day of the party: Before leaving for work, make sure your place is 90 percent ready to go, your outfit is set out, and you have all of the supplies you need for the evening. Take out any remaining trash, wipe down the bathroom sink and counter tops, and make sure toilet paper is set out, a clean hand towel is hanging up, and soap is well-stocked (trust me: there’s nothing worse than going to someone else’s house and encountering an unsanitary bathroom situation!). Once you get home, you can start setting out plates and cups, chopping up fruit and vegetables, and setting up your drink station. After that, change, do your hair/makeup, and set out any refrigerated items. Pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for guests to arrive!

What I love about breaking things up into small steps is that each of these tasks can be done in 5-10 minutes so that party prep doesn’t take away too much time from your normal weekday routine. Have any tips to add? I’d love to hear!

 

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A Trick for Keeping Track of People You Meet

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I’ll take a quick second to note that I’m actually really good (like, scarily so…) at remembering people/conversations (so much so that my friends often rely on me to recount their own interactions–and I could probably tell you what I was wearing at the time, too!). But when you work in a people-centric field and exchange business cards at various events and meetings, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. While going through my wallet the other day and looking at the various business cards I had collected over the prior couple of weeks, I decided to implement a (very low-tech) system: writing where I’d met the person on the back of each card. I now have details such as “plane to Boston” or “winery event” at the ready, just in case I need to reach out to that individual in a couple of months (or hear from them) and can’t place them right away, which often happens via email.

I like to always keep a few business cards in my wallet at all times and have been more comfortable with giving them out in less traditional circumstances, like to a seatmate on the plane (this was relevant based on our conversation). However, it’s funny to me that in such a digital age, we still rely so much on paper cards. I wonder if it’ll all change in the coming decades!

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Do you have any tips for remembering names/details? Sometimes I’ll also take a picture of someone’s business card if I don’t want to worry about losing their info while on a trip or if I don’t have a good place to put it at the time. My mom actually does this with address cards–that way, she always has relatives’ contact info readily available (and I should really do this, too, so that I’m not constantly searching through old emails when it’s time to send a thank you note in the mail).

I’d love to hear your tips for staying organized on (and off) the job!

Photos by Heather Bien

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3 Things I’m Glad I Did in College (and 3 Things I Regret!)

Ok, confession…I’ve had this post sitting in my “drafts” folder since FEBRUARY. I know. Every time I looked it over, I felt like it was too geeky or too personal or too college-search-self-help site-esque to publish, if that makes sense? But I’ve decided to run it this week, because 1) I’ve loved some of the more introspective posts that a few of my favorite bloggers have been posting over the past few weeks, and 2) Reunion is right around the corner (it’s this coming weekend!), and I’m feeling nostalgic. 🙂 I’ve kept the text the same as it was when I wrote it several months ago, so it isn’t totallyyyy up to date, but the sentiments remain the same!

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I’m starting to plan for my 5-year college reunion (so, so pumped!) and I’m getting just a little sentimental about going back (although I’ve already been back once in 2016 to move out my sister after her freshman year, once in 2014 for our one-year reunion, and honestly should’ve gone back way more than that). On that note, here’s a little look back at what I’m thankful I did in college and what I wish I did differently (though to be honest, I’m sure the things on this list could change depending on the year/month…these are just a few I could think of at the moment!).

Things I’m glad I did:

Picked my specific major. Most of my friends in college were either bio or econ majors, and while I never felt any pressure to pursue those paths (despite being the daughter of an econ professor, oops!), sociology was still less common compared to things like government, English, and psychology. Freshman year, a friend’s (now ex) boyfriend even went as far to basically tell me that what I was studying was worthless and he couldn’t respect anyone who majored in that field (although I think he felt that way about anything that wasn’t econ or a hard science…) which was just straight up rude but didn’t really phase me because I loved what I was doing! I think I called my parents after and was like, “What just happened?!” I really appreciated how small my major was and how it didn’t necessarily draw one type of person. That said, there are totally times I wish I could go back and do something completely different, although I’m not sure what I’d choose.

Yes, I may have "hired" a photograph on my newspaper staff to do a campus photo shoot of my friend group senior year...

Continued branching out senior year. I was texting one of my friends (who I met senior year!) the other week and was telling her that honestly, 75 percent of the people I’m close with from college and talk to on a daily/weekly basis are people I met senior year (aside from the 5 girls I’ve been close with since day one/freshman year, several of whom are pictured above!). I remember being in New York the summer before my senior year and being so excited to go back to school but also feeling terrified that I’d already “met” everyone already (not an uncommon feeling on a campus with 1,800 students). And while I loved my group of friends (I seriously miss them every day!), I kind of wondered, “what now?”

However, whether I met them in class, at our campus pub (ha!), through an extracurricular, or through a mutual friend, some of these “newer” friends–who are both guys and girls–have become my biggest champions and supporters and are people I can talk to about literally anything and have had many a tearful phone call with over the past few years. Even if you feel super comfortable among your small group, it doesn’t hurt to go outside your comfort zone a bit and branch out. Plus, these new people will likely have their own little close-knit groups, and it can be SO refreshing to meet someone who is outside of your circle and can serve as an objective sounding board on any issues going in within your little group, and vice versa!

Lived on campus. While only a small percentage of people at my college lived off campus, it was still a somewhat popular thing to do senior year (as was living in an on-campus apartment). However, I’m happy I chose my little dorm room and could eat in the dining hall every night (seriously, the things I would do to not have to buy food/cook my own dinner…). Living on campus made it easy to get around during the day and was a “luxury” that you just don’t have in real life!

As for what I regret…(um, does graduating count? I want to go baaack!): 

I (kind of) wish I’d studied for the GRE while I was IN college. Taking it a couple of years later wasn’t a huge deal (plus, I was fortunate that 1) I had a work situation that was very 9 to 5 and allowed me to duck out on time to study, and 2) said work situation didn’t require any weekend assignments, which meant that I could spend entire Saturday mornings taking practice tests). However, during my senior year, I definitely had enough downtime that I could’ve studied here and there, and the material would have been more fresh (but for the sake of my social life, I’m glad I didn’t! It was much easier to turn down going to bars or hanging out with friends in “real life” than it ever was in college).

Being so hard on myself. Not necessarily in terms of school specifically, but more in terms of how much I lacked confidence in myself and worried about what other people thought. (Turns out, a lot of people felt the same way, whether they felt “stuck” portraying a certain image in a friend group or just didn’t love their time in college that much). I definitely beat myself up too many times and try to do less of that now!

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Not doing more things in Maine. This seems like a dumb, cop-out answer even as I’m writing it, but I definitely could have taken more advantage of the things right in my college’s own backyard–Maine’s called Vacationland for a reason! Granted, I don’t ski/drive so I was missing out on a pretty major activity/had more difficulty getting off campus (they still don’t even have Uber in my college town!), but I wish I had done things that were even as simple as trying the ice cream place down the road before senior spring or taking a trip to Acadia. However, in the grand scheme of things, I still did a lot of stuff when I could (plus, it’s kind of like living in DC…you only do the “touristy” things when people are visiting), and as for the rest…I suppose a few more trips back are in order!

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Modern Maine Moodboard

My friend and former classmate Nikki (who I met in Spanish class my freshman year of college!) reached out the other day letting me know that she and her boyfriend just bought a house in downtown Freeport, Maine! They’re looking to create a “modern Maine look” featuring “mostly neutral colors with splashes of navy and a reddish coral,” and are hoping to mix in some antiques along with newer pieces.

Of course I immediately said I was on board to scour the internet for some fun pieces to match their style. After browsing a few of my favorite sites, I immediately found tons of amazing items that I’m hoping match the vision that she has for the house.

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Among adorable home goods from .L.Bean are this nautical door knocker and striped throw pillow, as well as the fitting Freeport sign.

 

A tall plant, whether real or fake, is always necessary to add some life to a space.

A velvet navy blue bench with gold legs brings some modern glam to the space–and would look great draped with this coral patterned throw–while the coral ottoman can double as a foot rest and extra seating for guests.

A coffee table book with a Maine touch is key!

These baskets are 100 percent functional for farmers market runs but also make great decorative accents.

Fun ceramic berry baskets play up the “Maine blueberry” connection and also add a touch of order to the kitchen.

The best wall art is witty without being cheesy. This historic phrase fits well with the Maine theme.

When putting a space like this together, it’s easy to achieve a cohesive, collected look by setting out with a color scheme as Nikki did and shopping around different types of stores–the worst mistake, in my opinion, that someone can make is ordering everything from the same place. Your space will look more like a showroom than a home, and you’ll miss out on finding those special finishing touches that tie the whole place together. Adding local finds is always a great choice–Nikki mentioned that the L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport has some great Maine art that they don’t sell elsewhere–and eye-catching artwork also helps a space reflect its owners and truly feel like home.

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Colorful Rugs Under $150

My friend Sara texted me the other day looking for advice as she shopped for a rug for her entryway. She lives in an adorable studio apartment in my neighborhood and has the coolest mix of furniture and accessories–items she picked up while serving in the Peace Corps, like a set of woven African baskets, colorful artwork, and my favorite, an old-fashioned mint green diner table that she inherited from her great-grandmother.

Sara’s apartment largely is a mix of pink, mint, and brown, and she wants to find a rug that’s 1) under $150 and 2) is warm and welcoming. She has plenty of floor space to work with, but the trick is to find an affordable piece that ties the room together.

Here are a few of my favorite finds:

Turkish rugs are having a moment, and for good reason! I love the one I ordered on Etsy earlier this year and constantly swoon when I see pretty patterns in other people’s homes. The trick is finding a nice piece at the right price–Turkish rugs can go for hundreds. However, I’ve found many Etsy shops that have reasonable deals–for the real thing–and also ship items out speedily!

Sara and I liked this rug a lot, but it’s too small to meet her needs. However, the colors and pattern were just what she had in mind!

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This muted style would go well with her light pink duvet color and mint green accents.

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Similarly, this one would also look gorgeous in her space.

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Target has some great rugs that are larger and still more affordable. I particularly liked these two styles for her space.

This is technically $9 over budget, but it’s a great size and shade.

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This one is such a steal at less than $70!

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This one is such a steal at less than $70!

 

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Lately Around Here…

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How was everyone’s Memorial Day Weekend? I’m feeling relaxed and ready to take on this short week after a couple of workout classes, some fun brunches (at The Fainting Goat and Martin’s Tavern), a much needed night out on U Street, and lots of reading time–I made my way through three and a half books–so May’s reading roundup will be a good one.

What’s been happening around here?

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Last week, I grabbed frozen rosé (or frosé) with my friend Olivia, and it did not disappoint. I’ve found that sometimes rosé has a weird consistency (when I made it myself this time last year, it was definitely refreshing but a little too icey and not as sweet as it could be), but we stopped at Black Jack on 14th Street and found the BEST frosé we’ve ever had. The pictures don’t even do it justice–not only was it super pretty, it was exactly the right consistency (almost Slurpee-like) and dangerously fruity (again, almost like a Slurpee). If you find yourself in the area during happy hour this summer, definitely stop in. At $8, it really can’t be beat, but I’d totally pay the non-happy hour price of $12 for one of these!

On an unrelated note, I wanted to highlight a new page on the blog where I talk about the copyediting services I’m offering. I explain my journalism background in further detail on there, but if you’re looking for an extra set of eyes as you take on blog/freelance work, I’m your girl!

And one last thing…I’m such a die hard spin class girl, but I finally took a pilates class for seriously the first time in years and loved it. I went to a little studio in my neighborhood and had a blast trying something new. I always worry that the class will seem too “slow” for me, but it definitely flew by and I’ll hopefully be able to go back there soon! I really love the energizing atmosphere of spin classes and wasn’t sure if I would feel the same way about pilates, but it was an upbeat, challenging workout for sure.

What did you do this past weekend?

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5 Things I Love About Living in DC

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Happy spring from DC! It got so, so hot when I was out and about on Sunday that I began to dread summer in this city…but at least in the mornings it’s nice and cool, which makes walking to work extra nice.

It’s funny because on my walk to work I pass a few of the places where I used to sit and hang out before going to my internship the summer after my freshman year of college. My dad works downtown and I was living at home, of course, so we would drive in together and he would drop me off right by the Corner Bakery on 19th and L…which I now pass every day! It’s so funny to think that back when I was 18 I had zero idea that several years down the line, I’d be working full-time right in that same neighborhood! A few things have changed about the area, but others are 100 percent the same, although I definitely have a MUCH better sense of my whereabouts now (even though I grew up about 15 minutes away from the city, downtown DC always seemed sort of confusing and foreign!).

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While NYC will always have a special place in my heart, I absolutely love living back in my “hometown” and wanted to share 5 reasons why I love DC (even as someone who doesn’t work on the Hill or have plans to run for office one day!).

  1. The diversity. I love living in a city with such a broad mix of people from different places and backgrounds. DC is truly a city full of transplants–whenever people learn I’m a native, they’re shocked! I feel like most of my friends here came from all over, whether they moved here for college, right after college, or even more recently than that.
  2. Being close to home. I weirdly never made it home that much my first year back–when I was living alone and in Georgetown, I liked to just have my family over at my apartment or meet them at a restaurant. However, now that I can easily hop on the red line, I’ve been going home a lot more and truly appreciate it–it’s so nice to escape reality and spend time with my parents a few weekends a month!
  3. The “touristy” element. Even though I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years, I’m still always amazed when I pass the Washington Monument or realize how close I live to the White House. It’s fun to sometimes try to see the city through a tourist’s eyes and remember what a cool place it is to live! I also love that because it is a touristy spot, people are visiting all the time, making it easy to catch up with college friends or other people I know who are coming down for a quick weekend trip.
  4. The entertainment. I’ve seen so many interesting shows and speakers in DC–Mari Andrew’s talk at Sixth & I was so uplifting and fun, and I’m going back there to see Dan Pfeiffer of Pod Save America in July. There is always something to do here and entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive, either!
  5. The location. I love being between the North and the South–it makes it easy to travel to several different places, and there’s an interesting mix of different regions at play. I definitely appreciate how easy it is to travel up to NYC for a weekend but also how close we are to places like the Outer Banks, the wineries in VA (most of which are still on my list), and the like.

What are your favorite parts about your city?

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How to Set Yourself Up for a Good Week

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Happy Friday! Who’s watching the Royal Wedding tomorrow? I don’t know how early I’ll be getting up, but I definitely hope I to tune in a bit. Then it’s off to a bridal shower and a little get together…I feel like my weekends are always either jam-packed or wide open! This week has been busy at work since it’s graduation time, but it’s been super exciting watching everything unfold. I hope your week has been a good one!

Bookmark this post for Sunday evening….In addition to the basics (doing errands/laundry, tidying up the house, sorting through bills and random mail/packages), these are a few of my favorite things to do to prep for the week.

Do a Sunday workout. As much as I always just want to lie in bed on Sunday afternoons, I really love my Sunday workouts because they kick the week off in such a positive, productive manner. I know Sunday is a common day to take off from the gym, but I’d much rather skip Friday/Saturday (when I’m most tired and busier). I sometimes take a spin class in the early afternoon and enjoy getting my exercise out of the way if I have afternoon/evening plans, but I also really like my 7 pm end of day Sunday workouts at the gym. By that time, it’s usually pretty empty, making for a peaceful experience, and it’s late enough in the day that I’ve gotten most of my must-dos out of the way, so I can go home and make dinner, prep for the week, and read a bit in bed for an hour or so. I sometimes joke that I really waited until the last possible moment to cram in exercise (especially because my gym closes at 8), but as the saying goes, better late than never!

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Try a new healthy recipe. I just ordered this blender off Amazon and it’s so easy to use and clean (I previously owned a blender that was basically impossible to wash out all the way, ick!). I’ll admit I’m not great at meal prep, but I had a friend in New York who would devote her entire Sunday afternoon each week to making sure all of her lunches and dinners were ready to go. I feel like usually by Sunday afternoon I’m ready to detox from “weekend eating” and am eager to make something that’s tasty but not totally awful for me!

Read something for fun. Oftentimes during the week I’m too busy or tired to just sit down and read at night (though I’m really making this more of an effort!). I love to either read a few chapters of a book (or a whole one), catch up on blogs, scroll through Buzzfeed, whatever…doing a bit of non-work reading is still better than binging on TV all day (though sometimes that’s totally what the doctor ordered!).

Set out (or mentally brainstorm) outfits for the week. I used to religiously do this when I was younger, and now I like to have a few options set out in my closet prior to the start of the week. If I have a big event (like some of the graduation festivities I attended last week), I want to have options in mind prior to the day of, as there’s nothing worse than trying things on and realizing they just don’t work for the occasion. If I haven’t worn a particular piece of clothing in awhile, I’ll do a little try on to make sure it still looks the way I want it to and is appropriate for the specific event I have that week (not too long, too short, too see-through, etc). Little steps like these help you avoid the “I have nothing to wear” feeling, big time!

How else do you prep for the week ahead? I love getting glimpses into other people’s routines–anyone else feel the same way?

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