Wakey, Wakey

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Lately I’ve been the worst at getting up for work in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of sleep (I’ve always needed an unbelievable amount), but recently, getting myself out of bed has seemed like the most challenging task ever.

In high school, I woke up around the same time that I do now and basically bounced out of bed. I’m probably a lot happier to start my day now than I was then, so I don’t think my difficulty getting up in the morning has anything to do with my emotional being…I’m just TIRED.

Carpooling with someone else means that I have it easy when it comes to getting to work, and I literally have a monetary incentive to wake up on time. I carpool with someone who needs to be in a little earlier in the morning than I do, meaning that technically if I WANT to sleep in, I can get an extra 30-45 minutes. However, this then means that I would have to take an Uber to work (by then it would be too late to rely on public transportation), and that ranges anywhere from $3 to $10 (not bad overall, but the pricing is unpredictable and definitely adds up).

The other day, I woke up FIVE minutes before my coworker was coming to pick me up. Thankfully, she was also running about five minutes late, but man…thank goodness I know how to get ready quickly! If you’re also someone who finds herself rushing out the door more often than not, I have a few tips for you…

-Make sure you have something to eat. Most mornings, I set aside even five short minutes to make and eat an English muffin with peanut butter. Super quick, super cheap, and super healthy and filling compared to many other breakfast options. I like to have a few Luna bars on hand for mornings that I’m running late. Since I work in the suburbs and can’t run out to grab anything, it’s important I bring a small meal or snack from home to make it through the morning!

-Take your coffee to go. Just because I sometimes wake up late doesn’t mean I sacrifice my beloved caffeine. I have a million travel mugs on hand that I place directly under my Keurig and then take in the car. Waking up late = no time to run to Starbucks down the street = money saved…or something.

-Master a quick hairstyle. If my hair needs to be straightened but I don’t have much time, I like to run my straightener through my hair lightly and tame some of my curls so that they look a little wavier. Honestly, curling my hair with my straightener = my go-to move.

-Refresh email on my phone. I like to head into work knowing about anything new that will be on my plate, even if I don’t respond until I get to my desk. I also look at my personal email, although almost nothing I receive over the course of the night is worth reading (the other weekend I slept in super late and woke up with over 30 emails from stores…).

-Make bed. If I have time, this is definitely something I’ll do. I feel more productive starting the day if I’ve checked this off my list, and it’s definitely nicer to come home to a put together room.

I also always have an outfit set out the night before and my work bag packed and ready to go (there isn’t really much to bring since I eat lunch in the cafeteria every day). If I’m going directly from work to a workout class or other commitment, I’ll have packed up all of my belongings that night before.

I definitely wish that I could take more control over my routine and wake up earlier, enjoy a cup of coffee on my couch or at my table rather than on the road, take my trash out, etc…if you have any tips on getting out of bed earlier, let me know!

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Working Out

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The new year is upon us, and fitness content is EVERYWHERE. Whether you work out once a day or once in a blue moon, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Should I be doing more? Should I be adding more variety to my routine? Wait, how am I supposed to feel excited about going to the gym when it’s 20 degrees and pitch black out?

For me, working out has always been a must. In high school, I played sports on the weekends, but I never gave much thought to additional exercise except until my senior year of high school when I started using the elliptical my parents kept in the basement. I’m now an elliptical fanatic, so I guess that wasn’t such a bad idea!

When I got to college, my friends and I would often go to the gym in groups, but once classes kicked into gear it became harder to maintain a schedule. I remember at one point during my freshman year, my dad–a true exercise fanatic–told me to think of working out like homework. It was something that I just had to do and incorporate into my daily routine.

I was great at getting to the gym in college, and often I’d go right before dinner so that I wouldn’t grab a snack instead (I was an early bird in a friend group of late dinner eaters!). I’d walk into the dining hall wearing my black leggings or Nike shorts, no shame at all. My college emphasized wellness and physical activity, and everyone on campus was in tip-top shape. Most years, the gym was somewhat far from my dorm, but it was free (and not to mention, it wasn’t a bad spot for people-watching). 😉

In the real world, though, getting exercise has been harder and is something that I’m not exactly looking forward to after a long day of work, commuting, and a looming bedtime. When possible, I enjoy taking Flywheel or SoulCycle classes or experimenting with ClassPass, but these options can add up! I’ve found a very affordable gym in my neighborhood, but it’s still a 10-15 minute walk.

But the thing is…and it’s so cliche…I generally do feel better after I go. Whether it’s because I’ve crossed something off of my to-do list or because I feel less stressed, it’s usually a good decision. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has days where they need to go home and relax or spend time with friends or just get to bed early, but working out usually yields good results across the board.

I do need some tips, though. I basically have to work out after work given how early my job starts (even the 6 am SoulCycle classes are too late for me to feasibly attend, eek!). And I’m definitely not waking up earlier than normal to get to the gym, because I value my sleep in the morning too much (plus, a girl’s gotta do her hair and get ready before work!). But any tips on fighting the urge to take another rest day or new workout music suggestions or things like that…send ’em my way 🙂

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A Mini Vanity

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I’m kind of in love with my little vanity area next to my bed. While living in Philly, I snagged this vanity for $25 (it came with a small mirror that could attach), and it made its way with me when I moved to DC. This summer, I had the idea to paint it (my mom did an excellent job!), and once I saw the end result, I thought it would work great as a desk.

After living in my apartment for a few months, I realized that I rarely sat at my desk (I’m very guilty of #bloggingfrombed) and decided that I’d rather go back to a vanity situation. Inspired by Pinterest (of course), I moved the table next to the side of my bed and love the look. The table is the perfect size to double as a space for getting ready while also serving as a nightstand (it usually holds my latest read + a cup of wine or coffee depending on the time of day).

I knew I wanted to hang a large mirror above the vanity table, but I was having trouble deciding whether I wanted to go for an old, ornate look or do something modern. When I stumbled upon this mirror from Target, I knew it was the one. It looks just like designer versions (honestly, I don’t know why someone would pay for a more expensive lookalike, as this one is great), and really makes the space pop. I stuck one of my x-benches (also from Target, but purchased via Craigslist this fall) under the vanity, and it’s a great way to add seating without eating up space.

***Looking for a vanity table of your own? I love this one in either color.

Not sure what to put on top of your vanity table? I wanted mine to contain the essentials without looking cluttered. I keep a jar (love this Mint Julep style one from the Sugar Paper line at Target) full of makeup brushes, a tissue box with a fun cover, a small piece of art, and of course, a candle! Again, since the area does double as a nightstand, I placed a lamp and a fun coaster off to the side as well. Easy peasy and a fun way to dress up a bedroom if you ask me!

The images that inspired me…

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5 Small Ways to Keep Your Apartment Tidy

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I’ve always been a clean freak, but living alone has made me realize what a mess one person can make! I feel like I’m constantly taking out the trash, vacuuming my floors, doing laundry…blah!

My guess is that, whether you live alone or with roommates, chores consume a large part of your week (or weekends) and somehow you always feel like there’s still more to be done. While it’s tempting to shove all of the clutter into a closet and call it a day, that’s obviously not the most sustainable choice in the long run. Today I’m sharing five tips that work for me when it comes to keeping my apartment in order. Even if you hate cleaning more than anything else, at least you’ll be in less of a scramble if a friend (or parent!) decides to stop by last minute.

1. Make. your. bed. There’s a reason this is always the first thing people tell you to do when tidying up your home–it really does make a difference! When sheets are haphazardly curled up in a ball and pillows are scattered across the floor, it’s hard to get into a “clean” mindset. Of course there are some days when I’m running late in the morning and barely have time to brush my teeth, let alone pick up after myself, I always feel better when I cross this simple task off of my mental list.

2. Vacuum. I kid you not when I tell you that my first Christmas present after graduating from college was a nice vacuum (#adulting). If you don’t have one, get one–you’ll thank me later when your floors are spotless!

3. Designate a “recycle” area. I keep a paper bag in my kitchen at all times and use it to collect soup cans, bottles, and cardboard packaging so that it’s easy to bring everything down to the recycling bin at once. Don’t let empty wine bottles clutter up your counter (or worse–end up in the regular trash!).

4. Toss those freebies. Unless it’s something you’ll actually use, you can toss that promotional notepad or magnet and make room for more special items. The last thing you want is extra junk cluttering up your already small space.

5. Magic erase. I’m convinced that magic erasers are one of the best inventions ever. Whether you have a small scuff stain on the wall or can’t get that mark off your stovetop, grab a magic eraser and go. to. town. You’ll thank me later 🙂

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Hey, 2017

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Happy 2017! With the new year here, what better time to start sharing a few goals, plans, and thoughts? Check out some of mine below.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to take a bartending class–or a mixology class, as they’re often called–and am on the hunt for the perfect place to enroll in one in DC. Requirements: affordable, easy enough, and convenient…anyone have any recs?

I have two weddings coming up in early 2017 (one in February and one in April) and I’m excited to celebrate with college friends and also expand my travel horizons. The April wedding is in Seattle, and while I’ll only be there for a few days, I’d love to hear about any must-see or must-do things to add to my list! It will be my first time traveling there and right now the only things I associate with the city are Starbucks, Macklemore, Bill Gates, and Grey’s Anatomy. Help a girl out!

Speaking of weddings, my friends and I have been going back and forth sharing our outfit ideas with one another. One debate that came up: is black appropriate for an evening wedding? What about in general? I’ve googled and found mixed answers, although most people seem to believe that in this day and age, black is a yes.

Looking to step up your Insta game? This book has gotten rave reviews (not to mention the cover sure is pretty) and I just picked up a copy of my own. Time to add Aimee Song to your “following” list.

Has anyone taken a self-defense class in DC? It’s something I’d like to do, maybe with a friend. Again, if you have recs for places that are affordable, informative, and convenient, let me know…

Whew. Time to enjoy one last day of relaxation before the work week kicks into gear. Happy New Year, all!

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The Best Feel-Good Movies on Netflix

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HAPPY 2017! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Years Eve. I was sick and had to cancel my plans (so bummed) but ended up having a pretty relaxing night in…Indian delivery + blogging + watching NYE coverage on tv = fine by me!

Now that the holidays are over, it’s easy to feel down in the dumps. Several of my friends have been dreading heading back to reality, and I don’t blame them! Between several days of vacation and a sick day, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been spent a full day in the office.

While 2016 has definitely been deemed the year of good TV, I always like going back and watching old favorites, and Netflix has no shortage of feel-good movies available to stream. Looking to cure those winter blues? Here are a few of my lighthearted faves:

10 Things I Hate About You: I loved this movie in high school and haven’t re-watched it in ages. It may be time–I love Julia Stiles and I guess I have a theme going here, because she also stars in the Prince & Me!

Serendipity: The cutest holiday movie that also happens to take place in NYC! When I lived in the city, I ventured over to Serendipity to get the famous frozen hot chocolate a few times and now I’m craving it just writing this…

Grease: Another one I haven’t seen in ages! I’ve been obsessed with the Grease soundtrack lately (no idea why) and am going to have to watch this one again soon!

The Prince & Me: Another cute, fluffy movie that’s perfect for anyone obsessed with royals (isn’t that all of us these days?!).

Love Actually: I’m not as into this one as everyone else seems to be, but how could I leave it off this list? It’s a great one to watch year-round, so don’t feel bad turning it on even after the holidays are over.

The Parent Trap: Ok, when I heard that The Parent Trap was coming to Netflix in January, I thought it was going to be the version from my childhood, not the original. However, I’ve seen this one back in the day and would probably watch it again…but give us the Lindsay Lohan version sometime soon, ok?!

Bridget Jones Diary: A classic, and who can resist Colin Firth and Hugh Grant (they also both star in Love Actually). Make it a marathon and watch both back-to-back!

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Your Study Abroad Cheat Sheet

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Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s crazy to think that at around this time FIVE (wait, what?) years ago, I was getting ready to spend a semester abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was super, super ambivalent about going (I had barely spent any time out of the country and was so in love with my college that I didn’t want to leave!) but like most people who study abroad, I had an absolute blast and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

It’s funny to think about how much technology has changed since my experience away, though. I didn’t even have an iPhone back then (my friends and I all bought cheap European phones that we would refill or “top up” every time they were running low–do people still do this?), I brought my digital camera everywhere (I’ve barely touched it since, oops!), Instagram was barely a thing, and Snapchat didn’t exist at all yet. When we were walking to friends’ houses, my flatmates and I would write down directions on post-it notes. Uber wasn’t a thing yet, but we took taxi cabs when necessary, although they were cash-only and required some preparedness! Basically, I was living in the dark ages 😉

Things that haven’t changed: I was always the group photographer, talked to my family and friends back home constantly (although it was via Skype, email, or Facebook messenger!), and I kept a blog (aka a password-protected Tumblr that I only shared with close friends and family, ha!).

If any of you are in the same boat and are about to spend time overseas (many graduate programs have an abroad component these days, too!), this packing list is for you. Of course, my suggestions may not apply to you if you’re going somewhere completely out of the ordinary/have different tastes and preferences, but many of the ideas below are pretty general and should come in handy whether you’re going to Australia or Argentina!

1) Peanut butter. If you like peanut butter, you’ll understand that you can only go so long without it. Of course, they did sell peanut butter in Scotland, but it wasn’t American peanut butter 🙂 Pack a big jar of your favorite type–you’ll thank me later!

2) Reusable water bottle. This is perfect for weekend trips, workouts, going to class, etc…no need to worry about lugging plastic bottles from the grocery store to your flat or paying for overpriced bottles at the airport.

3) Journal. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to jot down notes (or even simple things like directions) while traveling. A journal will be fun to look back on when you’re home and is portable enough to bring anywhere.

4) Clothes, but not a TON of clothes. Again, this depends on where you’re going, but I found it helpful to bring items that are versatile and are easy to wear again and again. I brought a couple of dresses, a few pairs of pants, a range of tops, a Patagonia pullover, workout gear, and a few pairs of shoes (including a truly pair of riding boots that I had to get re-soled thanks to the cobblestone that’s all over Edinburgh!). As for coats, I brought a peacoat (a classic!) and a raincoat. I also purchased Bean Boots prior to going abroad, and they couldn’t have been more useful for travel (I was on a program that took a few hiking/outdoorsy trips). I discovered Primark while I was abroad, and it was a game changer (it’s basically a cross between Forever 21 and Target and has everything from home supplies to cheap apparel to accessories and more. I ended up purchasing clothing that actually lasted quite awhile but also bought items that I didn’t feel bad about tossing at the end of the semester, such as sweaters that I purchased for about 4 pounds each (less than $8). I also bought tons of scarves (probably like 10!), and those were great additions to my otherwise limited wardrobe. For themed events, my friends and I usually purchased items at Primark or at the thrift stores that were all over Edinburgh.

5) Earplugs. I always kept these in my room in college, and they’re a lifesaver. In my flat abroad, my room was right next to the kitchen, and that meant that I would often hear my roommates socializing in there after I’d gone to bed (#earlybirdproblems). Rather than passive aggressively pounding on the wall (which I may have done a few times, oops!), pop in some earplugs and kiss the outside world goodbye.

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Don’t forget other must-haves like converters for your electronics, a camera, basic first aid and cosmetic supplies, etc. As for beauty supplies, I brought my own makeup but ended up purchasing a hair straightener in Scotland. I already owned a hair dryer from a previous trip to the UK, and I brought that with me as well. The hair straightener was so-so, but the weather in Scotland wasn’t super conducive to stick-straight hair anyway! I ended up experimenting with new hair styles and lived with it, haha. Despite all of my preparedness, I did have a few fiascos–for example, I was wearing Invisalign at night at the time, and I opened the next set of retainers only to find that they were fit to someone else’s mouth…whoops! My camera also broke halfway through the semester, but thankfully my mom was able to bring me a new one when she visited in March. All things considered, though, I was very fortunate that I didn’t have luggage stolen (other students on my program did), get mugged (this happened to one of my guy friends), or get sick other than battling a small cold.

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Beach, Please

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Summer may be nowhere in sight, but that doesn’t mean that winter days have to be completely dreary. I’ve spotted such adorable beach-themed home decor lately, and the fun prints and bright colors are sure to brighten up the most blah winter days. I purchased the beachy print pictured here from TJ Maxx because it reminded me of Gray Malin’s work (with a much more manageable price tag!). It’s currently hanging in my living room, but at the rate I move things around, who knows where it will end up next 😉

Happy shopping!

Beach print//Anchor plaque//Flamingo tote//Striped tote//Nautical sheets//Beaches book

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Winter Items That Don’t Say “Holidays”

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Ok, I hate to say it, but the holiday season is winding down. Sad face. However, we still have several months of winter upon us (depending on where you live, this may or may not be a cause for tears).

The good news is that there are plenty of post-holiday sales going on right now, and even though many “Christmas-y” items are discounted, there are many winter-themed products on sale that you can still use into January and February. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite picks below, and while they may be slightly more fun to use while getting into the Christmas spirit, they’re bound to make dreary winter days suck a bit less.

Nest candle//Pillow//Plate//Scarf//Cheers print

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How to stay active on vacation

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I’ve been on vacation in Florida this week, and while taking time off from work has allowed me to catch up on sleep, shows, and books, it’s also allowed me to catch up on working out! Being in a warm climate (and in a condo complex with a small exercise room) has made it super easy to incorporate a quick workout into my daily routine. I’ve honestly been better about working out here than I have been during the normal work week back home, and truthfully that’s because I’m often distracted by errands, plans with friends, things in my apartment, etc! Anyone else in the same boat? I’m sure some of you are like me and don’t want to leave the house again upon arriving home from work (and it’s even harder to get back outside when it’s cold!).

Below are a few ways I’ve managed to stay active during my trip, and while they’re not necessarily the most innovative (no crazy indoor exercise routines/DVDs here!), they’ve worked for me:

1. Take advantage of what’s in front of you. For me, that means going to the free, small exercise room located less than a minute from our condo. I’m generally the only person using the equipment, and I like to alternate between the elliptical and the bike. I can be kind of weird about ellipticals (I really didn’t like the ones in my grad school campus gym), but the ones here are both simple and sufficient!

2. Go for freebies. You know that great feeling when you can take a trendy exercise class for free because you’re a new customer? Aim to do the same when you travel! When I was in Florida this past summer, I attended an awesome spin class on the house and had a blast. Google fitness studios near your travel destination and see what types of deals they offer.

3. Treat yourself. Ok, this is obviously contradictory to my last point, but vacation is supposed to be fun, so why not make your exercise routine extra fun while you’re traveling? Maybe you’re a SoulCycle fanatic but there isn’t a studio in your hometown. Take advantage of what’s offered in your new city and treat yourself to a class that’s an old favorite, or check out that yoga studio that’s been all over Instagram while you have the chance!

4. Kill two birds with one stone. I love exploring the local college campus near our condo (I did study higher education, after all!), and my dad and I decided to take a walk over there the other day. Our “quick loop” turned into an hour-long walk and was a great form of exercise but also was fun and touristy.

Any tips you’d add to this list?

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