Sunday, December 29, 2013

Twelve Days Of Christmas

It feels like I blinked and Christmas was over as quickly as Santa can throw back cookies; like I'd just found the radio station playing non-stop Christmas carols when people were already starting to return gifts that didn't fit or weren't to their taste. I never realized how much that extra week in between Thanksgiving and Christmas actually makes.

Every year, we all sing the Christmas song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." You know, the partridge in a pear tree, those two turtle doves or all those golden rings. You probably sing the song leading up to Christmas each year but how many of you knew that the twelve days of Christmas are the days following this joyous holiday?

Although my bank account isn't too pleased with all of my recent Christmas gift shopping, that doesn't mean that I can't keep the Christmas spirit alive for a few extra days. There's more to this time of year than just buying people presents. 

To carry on the remaining days of the season, I plan on doing little things to keep spreading the cheer.  Why not, right? To name a few, I will be:

  • Writing thank you notes to those who were so generous to me this holiday.
  • Having extra patience around those who usually try my patience quickly.
  • Leaving an extra couple of dollars in a tip when I go out to eat.
  • Calling my grandmother a bit more often just to check in and say hi. 
  • Holding the door for the person behind me.
  • Giving someone in need on the street a helping hand (or dollar).
  • Oh, and listening to Christmas carols a little longer than I should be...

I realize that might not be the most exciting or entertaining list but I think they're all attainable and necessary - sometimes less really is more. What's on your list?

Hope everyone has a very merry twelve days of Christmas and that you keep your spirit (and decorations!) up through January 5th!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kid At Heart: Merry Christmas!

Just a short post to wish you all a very merry Christmas! It's okay to be a kid today. I know I sure am - why not? Thanks to my parents, who let me be, and keep the Christmas spirit alive in every way. I always look forward to the Santa gift tags that my mom still writes out with her left hand. 

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and can enjoy time off with loved ones!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Since I don't want to give away what I'm getting for my family and boyfriend for Christmas, I figured I'd make a list of gift ideas for twenty-something year old females. Really I'm just doing all those of you reading this who I might buy something for a favor...I swear I'm not just dropping hints ;-).

For me, this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been flying by and I've been stressed out just trying to think of ideas let alone finding the time to do the actual shopping & spending. To help, here are some ideas:

Cape Clasp Bracelet: Growing up on Cape Cod I'm automatically drawn to nautical jewelry & gifts. This bracelet is simple & can be paired with other casual bracelets or a watch. The best part: 15% of profits are donated to the Cape Cod National Seashore to support the conservation of local beaches so you don't have to feel guilty about your purchase from Cape Clasp for $29.99!

Apron: At twenty-something, it's time we all started learning how to cook something other than macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza. At this point, I will say that I've mastered a few recipes - see here for some of these delicious meals - but the one thing I'm always concerned about is splashing sauce or grease or some other splash-able food onto my clothes. An apron, or better yet a monogrammed apron, is a great Christmas gift and Williams-Sonoma has plenty to choose from starting at $29.95.

Scarf & Gloves: December is the perfect time to stock up on some last minute gear to bundle up for the remainder of winter. A chunky knit infinity scarf and fingerless gloves are necessities during the winter months in Boston and I've been extra good this year in hopes that Santa will deliver these. The cowl neck scarf is perfect so you don't have to worry about it coming unwrapped around your neck and the fingerless gloves allow you to check your phone unhindered. Gap has a number of options ranging from $19.95 to $39.95 to help keep you warm this season.

DIY manicure set: If you're on a budget, try putting together a DIY manicure set with all of the essentials. First, fill the bottom of a mason jar with cotton balls - it gives the Christmasy effect since it looks like snow and serves a practical purpose since that's what the person can use to remove nail polish. Next, add in some emery boards, nail polish, nail polish remover and hand lotion. It's a great alternative to a mani/pedi gift card.

Hope these ideas help or at least get you started as Christmas quickly approaches and last minute gifts need to be purchased. You better start checking those naughty and nice lists!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sweet & Salty: Peanut Butter Pretzel Treats

Every year, my family and I deliver an assortment of cookies to friends and neighbors on Christmas Eve. It has become a tradition and something that both the givers (my family) and the recipients always look forward to. Admittedly, I'm more of a cook than a baker so my contribution will be these delicious, sweet and salty peanut butter & pretzel treats that don't involve any baking. Since I can't deliver the actual treats to you, I thought I'd do the next best thing & deliver the recipe!

You will need:

1 Cup Peanut Butter
3/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Bag of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (for the sake of Christmas I decided to use some white chocolate chips with red & white food coloring as well)

To start, melt the butter in the microwave and then mix it with the cup of peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Next, combine the peanut butter with the confectioners sugar & brown sugar. Stir the ingredients together until the consistency is dry enough to roll the mixture into little balls. You may have to add a little extra of each sugar.

Portion out about a tsp of the peanut butter mixture onto individual pretzels and make a sandwich using a second pretzel. Stick them in the freezer for about 30 minutes so they can harden up and be easily dipped in the melted chocolate.

Next, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, heating them in 20 second intervals. Stir them frequently to make sure that it doesn't burn. After a total of 45-60 seconds the chocolate should be nice and smooth. Dip each sandwich in the chocolate so half is covered. As a warning, I found that the white chocolate wasn't as easy to dip in once I added the food coloring. Although just as delicious, the semi-sweet chocolate came out a bit smoother looking once dipped.

Place each onto wax paper so they don't stick to the tray and let the chocolate harden in the fridge. Store in the fridge until they're ready to be served or gifted!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

DIY: Wall Art

This weekend I was feeling inspired to add some art to my dreary, beige bedroom walls. On a budget and inspired by Pinterest, I decided to create the art myself and I took advantage of some A.C. Moore coupons to keep it cheap.

My goal was to use canvas, card stock and glue to make something glittery and pretty to hang over my dresser. The curtains and accent pillows on my bed are a pale teal color and I recently spray painted a number of trinkets in my room gold so I decided to make those colors my focus.

What you will need:

- (At least) 1 canvas

- Several pieces of card stock in colors of your choice (I recommend including metallic & glitter sheets to give it texture)

- A 1 inch round hole punch

- Spray adhesive

Use the hole punch to cut out lots of dots from each colored/patterned piece of card stock. I needed less of the card stock than I thought I would to fill my 12x12. I used four different kinds of paper and probably used about 50 dots of each. It was a great mindless project while catching up on TV shows.

Next, arrange each of the dots on the canvas. I chose to overlap some and spaced them out haphazardly so that each of the different colored and textured dots were evenly mixed across the canvas.

Once I was done laying out the dots, I used the spray adhesive to secure them to the canvas. In hindsight, it would probably have worked better to spray the canvas BEFORE laying out the dots but I knew I'd be too neurotic and rearrange the dots before I was ready for them to stick forever.

Spraying after worked just fine and I layered on some Mod Podge as a finishing touch. Make sure to wait for the spray adhesive to dry before applying the Mod Podge that way you don't get any air bubbles!

Now all I need to do is get something to hang the canvas on the wall with! I plan on making a couple of these so that I can arrange several on the wall together so the hanging will have to wait for another day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Recipe: Chicken Fajitas & Guacamole

Whenever I can't decide what to make for dinner, my go to is always Mexican food. For me, it's simple and difficult to screw up. One of my favorites is chicken fajitas. I've made it with a few different types of seasoning so below is just the one that I remembered to take pictures of.

What you will need for the fajitas (keep in mind I'm cooking for one): 

1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 of an onion
1/2 of an orange pepper and 1/2 of a yellow pepper (I prefer these over red and green peppers)
2 chicken breast tenderloins
1/3 of a package of Ortega fajita or taco seasoning
2 iceberg lettuce leaves

First, rinse the onion & peppers and slice into thin strips. Rinse the chicken too, and trim any fatty bits. I tend to thoroughly pick apart chicken since it's not very appealing raw.

Next, saute the onion & peppers in a skillet with a tbsp of olive oil. These will take longer to cook than the thin chicken so make sure to cook them for a few minutes before adding in the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side and pull apart once it's cooked through. The onions should be translucent & the chicken no longer pink!

Add in about 1/3 of the seasoning packet along with some warm water. Stir everything together so the veggies and chicken are coated in seasoning. Heat through.

While the chicken and veggies are cooking for the last minute, wash two lettuce leaves to use as the "shell." And since I love avocados...guacamole is an absolute must. Cut an avocado in half and scoop it into the bowl sans the pit. Add in a tbsp of sour cream and a tbsp or two of salsa and mix together.

Scoop the chicken, onions and ppers into the lettuce shells, top with guacamole and cheese and enjoy! Let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

10 Of The (Less Obvious) Things I'm Thankful For

With it being Thanksgiving, it only seemed fitting to make a list of all the things I'm thankful for in my life. We covered the basics as a family giving thanks for being together for the holidays; having a warm meal on the table (today & every other day); a roof over our heads & gas in the car. Material things like clothing & immaterial things like love that I sometimes take for granted a little more often than I'd like to admit.

Those are some of the many reasons that readily come to mind when I think about all that I have to be thankful for. That being said, I wanted to share some of the less obvious things I'm thankful for just to keep it interesting around here.

[[1]] Pumpkin beer coming out in August - I welcome any extra months to drink it

[[2]] The "Do Not Disturb" button on my phone at work for those mornings I'm just not feelin' it

[[3]] Snapchat: a creative way to keep in touch with friends around the country since I'm horrible at picking up the phone

[[4]] My parent's Comcast password: so I don't have to pay for all of the premium channels and I can keep up with shows on the go

[[5]] The snooze button: because I will never be a morning person and I will continue to snooze my alarm 4-5 times a morning

[[6]] 2-in-1 shampoo & conditioner: I just don't have the time to shampoo and condition after snoozing my alarm 5 times in the morning

[[7]] Text message/email (or any form of communication that's not a phone call)

[[8]] Avocado: I could put it on anything from burgers to eggs

[[9]] The little old man & his wife who vacuum our apartment building entryway and take the trash out to the street each week

[[10]] Listen to YouTube: so I don't have to spend my money paying Apple for individual songs to update my playlists

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! As I read this morning, "it's not what's on the table, it's who's around the table" today!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

If My Parents Only Knew...

I was a good girl growing up. Correction. I am still a good girl and I'm still growing up. But really, I never broke curfew or got a demerit in high school. I always had straight A's and hung out with a "good crowd." But that doesn't mean that I never did anything just means that I never got caught.

And there I am saying "what do you think you know??" to my parents with just one look.

Sometimes I feel like I didn't always give my parents enough credit when I was younger but I do think that they knew a lot more than I thought they did. That being said, I'm excited to link up with Rebecca and Erin and without further ado...

if my parents only knew...

[[1]] Little bro and I always knew the appropriate codes and how to get around the parental control TV settings. Hate to break it to ya but 1-2-3-4 and 4-3-2-1 weren't that creative and it didn't take us long to crack the code.

[[2]] That I had my first sip of alcohol freshman year of high school. A little rum mixed with some red gatorade in the bleachers at a football game that first year and boy did I think that was cool. It paid to know some of the older girls on the field hockey team but, alright it was literally a sip...I said I was a good girl, right?

[[3]] I used to sneak out of the building in high school, prop the doors open with a pencil and go out for lunch or to have a break. I didn't need notes from you because that's what my community service class, newspaper "press pass" and passes from my homeroom teacher were for. Free reign. I should add that my homeroom teach wrote me notes whenever I wanted - be it to skip Math class or to get breakfast - because he thought I behaved too much but I have to thank him since I never got caught.

[[4]] That time in high school when you went on vacation and left little bro and I to fend for ourselves? Yeah, we had people over. What the neighbors keeping an eye on us didn't see were the cars parked at the tennis court down the street. And that perfectly circular brown circle in the lawn that you came back and we let you whole heartedly believe was a grass fungus? We burned the grass accidentally when we moved the fire pit and it's base to the yard. Sorry we even let you have professionals come look at it.

[[5]] 90% of the time when you ask if my shirt is brand new and I say "no, it's only new to you" - it's new. Brand new and yeah, I just went shopping...again...and it's the first time I've actually worn it. I can usually find a bargain, though, and you don't have to worry about me breaking the bank. It's more breaking that dresser that you let me have when I moved out after college.

So there you have it. Some of the things I think you don't know but that you've probably known for awhile. And that I'm willing to share today. Hope you feel like you learned a little bit about me today and here's to hoping that I'm as good a parents one day (one day far away) as mine are to me!

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's The Little Things In Life

Weekends are for relaxing and doing exactly what you enjoy doing. For me, it's the little things that keep me happy. It's seeing friends, checking things off my to-do list, relaxing and not feeling like I have any obligations hanging over my head. Nowhere I need to be but don't actually want to be. Last weekend was the perfect example of that for me.

On Friday, after a long work week (they all seem long these days), I grabbed drinks with coworkers and it was the perfect start to the weekend. Little thing #1: the bar still had Shipyard Pumpkinhead on tap. It was a welcome surprise since everything fall seemed to go out the door as quickly as my Halloween candy wrappers went in the trash. With or without the cinnamon rim, that's my go to & I was happy to could order it and not just default to whatever the previous person got. I'm not exactly a beer connoisseur..

[[Side note: my boyfriend tells me that no one actually says "grabs drinks" but I beg to differ. Sometimes I think I like to differ just to be difficult but this one I really believe. There have to at least be some gals out there on my side?]]

Little thing #2 was finally having a weekend where people's schedules just worked. I'm not one to plan social activities far in advance and to be able to text a couple of friends and successfully make plans for that same night seemed like a small victory.

We went shopping and strolling on Newbury Street since it was such a nice evening and little thing #3, I found the perfect brown booties at +Nordstrom Rack. I'd been searching for ankle boots to wear with jeans all fall and was excited to stumble across them - reasonably priced to boot (pun intended)! Because I knew they were something I'd been needing - I use the term "need" loosely - I decided to treat myself.

After, we had a dinner at nearby Parish Cafe on Boylston Street. We didn't even have to wait for a table because Little thing #4...wait for it...we ate dinner outside in the middle of November! I won't go so far as to say we were hot or anything but we were comfortable enough to linger over our meal and enjoy it outside sans heat lamps. The food was delicious and I'm already craving their onion rings again.

Sunday was a day to check off all of my mundane to-do's like go to the gym, clean up around the apartment and go grocery shopping. It's little things like feeling slightly productive that make me feel good. And, o yeah, little thing #5, getting an unexpected discount at +Dunkin' Donuts for buying a coffee during their daily happy hour from 3 - 6 p.m.

Here's to hoping for a similar weekend as the rain clouds roll out & Friday night rolls in!

Friday, November 15, 2013

All American Meal: Sweet Potato Fries & A Burger

So what I've gathered from looking at which posts are read most often, is that everyone (and by everyone I mean the small fraction of the population who's reading this) enjoys food as much as I do. I guess that just means I'll have to keep trying new recipes and that those tips to make time fly at the gym are going to really start coming in handy...

To cater to your needs and have something to write about I decided to try my hand at making healthy, baked sweet potato fries. I swear I didn't do it to satisfy my own cravings. And since you can't have just sweet potato fries for dinner, I made a turkey burger to go with them.

For the fries, you will need: 1 sweet potato (per person), olive oil, salt & pepper and an oven preheated to 450 degrees.

Step 1: Use potato peeler to remove all of the skin from the sweet potato. Once the sweet potato has been peeled, cut off each end. Chop up the remainder into thick, fry-sized chunks.  
Step 2: Throw your cut fries into a plastic bag to season. Coat the sweet potato chunks with olive oil and add in sea salt and pepper. I kept it simple for my first go at these but you can play around with different spices. I'm thinking that brown sugar might be interesting to throw in the mix to give the fries a sweet & salty taste next time. 

Step 3: Spread the fries out on a baking sheet and make sure to arrange them in a single layer. Next, throw them in the preheated oven to bake.

Step 4: Bake for 10 minutes, flip the fries and bake for another 15 minutes. I've read that corn starch will help the fries crisp up a bit more but I didn't find it necessary.

I used ground turkey for the burger and seasoned it with minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper. Form the ground turkey into burger patties and grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Turn the heat down to low and add on a slice of swiss cheese to heat until melted. Finally, top with a slice or two of avocado and serve with the french fries!

I was able to use leftover sweet potato in this the next night but first things first, bon appetit! Of course I've made myself hungry just writing this now... Comment and let me know if you try them with different seasoning!

Monday, November 11, 2013

How To Tell When It's Time To Unplug

...I forget my phone at home while running errands, or worse, going to to work.
I like to think that I'm not one of those people who's glued to technology but that's hard to believe when the truth is that I feel bare without my phone. And, truth is, I'm so addicted that I even changed the time on my phone to get more Candy Crush lives last night (I had to play) & was confused to find my watch 30 minutes behind all morning.

Here are some signs it might be time to take a technology timeout:

[[1]] The above happens. You're crazy enough to change the time on your phone - and forget you did it - to play an addicting little game. Unless you're looking for ways to get yourself into the office early, you (and by you I mean I) should probably lay off it.

More than 8 minutes left til my next life?!

[[2]] Your cellphone battery is drained by the time you're ready for an afternoon coffee. You found a million reasons why you had to refresh your Twitter/Facebook feed on your phone under your employer's radar...there may have been a few selfie Snapchats in the mix to show how miserable cube life is. But now the red battery icon is glaring at you.

[[3]] You're always on the defensive in terms of how long it takes you to respond. Someone simply asks you if you got their text or email (because you didn't respond) and you immediately jump down their throat on the defensive. You likely saw it immediately (you're glued to your phone after all) and completely forgot...which is totally fine but in a world where we're glued to technology, it's hard to believe you never actually saw it.

[[4]] The excuses just start rolling off your tongue. Not just defensive excuses to combat #3...but excuses why you always need your phone. Are there that many people really trying to reach you all day, every day? It's not just what if something happens to me and I need to contact's what if something happens to someone else and they need to contact me?! If you really think about it, we're all being pretty ridiculous.

[[5]] You check your phone and answer phone calls in completely inappropriate settings. I make calls at work frequently and can't believe people actually answer the phone at such inopportune times. I have called people (and they answered) while they were in the middle of a massage, driving a tractor, getting in the shower and in the middle of a meeting. Don't even get me started on people who talk while going to the bathroom.

If any of the above sound familiar to you then I have one question, why not leave your phone behind for a day?

P.S. Does anyone have any tips to get past level 147??? I mean.. JK

P.P.S. I haven't used it but click here for some Candy Crush cheats

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Moment Of Truth

I enter contests like it's my job. I never win but I convince myself every time that I will. Every damn time. And when I don't win every time, I just start looking for the next one that I will win.

Should I be embarrassed right now? Probably. But today's the moment of truth. I'm winning HGTV's Urban Oasis - I'm just waiting to be notified right now.

But seriously, who could pass up a chance to win an incredible, fully furnished apartment in the W Hotel in Boston? I just unchecked the boxes so I wasn't spammed with daily emails and checked the box so my info was remembered and I didn't have to re-enter the same thing every day. Can you tell I'm a pro at this?

In conclusion, I have no real insight for you today - I just ask that you keep your fingers crossed for me! I promise I'll invite you over to my new home once I'm settled in after winning. I'll even cook you up a sweet meal if you're lucky (and you don't make fun of me for entering contests)!

Here's to hoping it's a really happy Monday! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How To Make The Perfect, Healthy Fall Meal

Last night I walked into my apartment after work and was immediately met with a delicious aroma wafting from the kitchen. After taking a look at the deliciousness that my roommate was cooking up and knowing that I had to go to the grocery store that evening I decided then and there that I was going to do my best to make the exact same thing for dinner. Yes, I totally copied her.

The best part about this dish? It involves only a few cheap ingredients and little cleanup. Music to my ears. I'm not big on measurements and usually just go off of how hungry I am (usually hungry) but here's what you need:

Kale Greens
Butternut Squash
Potato Gnocchi
Garlic & Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

First, peel the butternut squash and chop it up into bite sized chunks. Make sure you have a good knife and peeler for this! Throw it in a saute pan with some olive oil and garlic and brown the squash.

*Be careful working with the squash! I quickly noticed that my fingertips were starting to peel (didn't hurt) and learned here about the sap that they excrete as a self defense mechanism that was causing my crazy reaction. Maybe I'm too sensitive? / Has this happened to you?

Next, add about a cup of water and the kale greens to the pan and let them cook and wilt down. Add as much (or as little) of the greens as you want and some crushed red pepper flakes to taste! Once the kale is cooked down, add the package of gnocchi.

Heat the mixture of squash, kale and gnocchi through and let the remaining water soak into the gnocchi or eventually evaporate. I didn't really keep track of time during this part - just keep an eye on the water level and the gnocchi consistency. You don't want a runny-watery mixture or uncooked gnocchi!

Just keep stirring...just keep stirring...just keep stirring. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese in as you go so it will melt down and make everything nice and gooey. 

For the finishing touch, scoop everything into an oven safe dish, sprinkle some extra Parmesan on top and put it under the broiler for 5 minutes to let the top crisp up a bit. If you're not too cheap to own/buy a good, cast iron saute pan, I'm jealous....And you can just throw the whole thing under the broiler without using another dish you'll have to wash (sucks to not have a dishwasher).

This dish fills you up, leaves you with leftovers, and did I mention it was easy? Thanks to my roommate for much needed kitchen inspiration!

Check out my recipe featured at Weekend Potluck and share with your friends!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

5 Reasons Why I'm Just Not That Into Halloween

It's nothing new that Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine...or a top 5...or even a top 10. I never had a scarring Halloween memory and I actually enjoy scary movies.

I think it all stems from my inability to be someone/something I'm not. I just don't have the creativity, the imagination to create a costume from existing items or the budget to buy an off the shelves, elaborate costume. And if I did, I just can't get past how silly I feel to actually get into character. Sooo in no particular order...

[[1]] The whole creativity, self awareness factor I just mentioned. My idea of dressing up is wearing the below and a black shirt. I can't even be bothered with black pants to go with it. As weak as it may be, this bat hat has served it's purpose these past few years.

[[2]] Can you name me three Halloween songs not including Monster Mash? And if you actually can, do you really even want to listen to any of them? Probably not. Christmas has carols. Fourth of July has anthems. Easter has hymns. Moving on.

[[3]] There's that whole slutty costume thing. I'm officially closer to 30 than I am 20 (now that is something that's scary) and I think I'm more in the funny/clever costume age than the show as much skin as possible age. In terms of the funny/clever thing see reason #1. In terms of the show as much skin as possible thing, maybe if I looked like Giselle does as Dorothy and had a handsome lion to protect me from the creepier costumed people I'd feel differently.

[[4]] It's hard to consider it a legit holiday when we don't even get a day off from work for it. I get the day after Thanksgiving off and yet no Halloween. Bullsh*t. I don't want to be sandwiched between a bloated Mr. Incredible and a feathery chicken on my daily commute to work.

[[5]] I really really do not need the excuse or encouragement to buy Halloween candy. I have too much of a sweet tooth and too little of self control to walk through CVS and not at least glance at the candy that is already on sale.

So call me the grinch of Halloween but sorry I'm not sorry that there are actually plenty of 'Why not?' reasons for this holiday. Can you convince me why I should like it? Share if you agree!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Boston Strong

I'm superstitious with respect to sports so I'm not going to say too much. I don't want to jinx it and risk my sports enthusiast boyfriend potentially blaming me for some error the team made (but hopefully doesn't). But, I can state the obvious. The Red Sox are in the World Series.

What this means for me:

1. I'm officially all aboard the bandwagon and have comfortably settled in (on my couch) for the ride. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Red Sox fan. I enjoy going to the games and I usually go to several each season. I own a Red Sox t-shirt and it's not a pink one. I like baseball but in general, I don't find it to be the most captivating of sports to watch on TV.

2. The green line trains are packed. The windows fog up. You can't breathe let alone move and the riders are headed to Fenway Park...right when you're leaving work. I always feel a mixture of pity & pleasure when I hear game goers make the assumption that the Fenway stop is where they need to get off (that'd make sense, right?), rather than Kenmore.

3. I will be in a haze for the next week. Game start times after 8 p.m. + my inability to unwind and immediately fall asleep after games plus + my general refusal to get out of bed every morning regardless of how the previous night was = me in a haze of haziness.

4. I may or may not be having a few more pumpkin beers than I normally would. The long games on fall nights just leave the lonely bottles in the fridge calling my name and you can't just have one Shipyard Pumpkinhead, can you?

5. You might catch me wearing my Red Sox t-shirt somewhere other than the gym this weekend. I'm not big on sports paraphernalia or logos or branded anything (unless it's my college's name) but I just might be tempted to break out the ole Sox shirt this weekend.

Everything else aside, I'm excited. The Pru's been lit with Sox colors to show team spirit and city pride and the Citgo sign shines bright (bright like a diamond) down the road from my apartment. So I haven't even had to ask myself why not stay up for each game. It wasn't even a question. Boston Strong.

What does your team playing for the championship mean to you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail

That saying may seem a bit dramatic in some respects but I've found it rings true for me when it comes to planning meals and not wasting the food that I buy each week. I'm very selective at the grocery store and try to buy things that I know I can get a few different meals out of - like chicken, ground turkey and vegetables.

When I can, I try to plan out my dinners for the week ahead of time. While it's easy to use a simple piece of paper, you can try these free weekly dinner templates. (Why not?! They're free!)

Here's what's on my dinner menu this week - I'm excited to have my healthy dinner for one again on Thursday and maybe I'll even have leftover peppers from other meals to add:

Hope you can use these too and plan to succeed this week!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ways To Make Time On The Treadmill Fly

I refuse to believe that there are that many people out there who genuinely just love running on a treadmill. I'll admit that it can be a great escape for me and I always feel better after I run...but hauling myself to the gym - especially in the colder months - can be a challenge.

Below are some of the tips that make the time fly by and keep me going at the gym:

1. To get myself out the door, I wear actual 'workout clothes.' I'm more motivated and push myself harder when I'm dressed to exercise. Whether it's just spandex or a dri-fit shirt, try it. Old Navy workout gear is an affordable option if you're looking for something new.

2. My headphones go in ASAP. Changing playlists often keeps you from getting used to how many songs it takes to reach a certain length of time running. Currently, Maroon 5's Love Somebody, Lady GaGa's Applause & John Mayer's Wildfire distract me from how out of breath I am.

3. I also try to put some type of game - football, hockey, etc. - on to watch whenever possible. Tell yourself to run for the whole first quarter or a whole period and it will always ends up being longer than you think it will. Has a 15 minute quarter in football ever lasted only 15 minutes?!

4. Finally, I think half the battle with running is mental so I make sure that my treadmill is set to have the time counting down rather than up. This helps remind me that I only have x amount of minutes left to go rather than I still have so many minutes left.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Day At The Orchard...Minus Apple Picking

I'm definitely guilty of having been one of the first of the season to buy a pumpkin muffin, stock Shipyard Pumpkinhead in the fridge and Instagram my first cinnamon sugar August. I'm past the point of denial. I've fallen for fall.

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I set out to do the typical fall activity: apple picking. We were in Connecticut and decided we'd do some Googling and then drive in the direction of the closest orchard. We were in for a treat.

We drove to Bishop's Orchards in Guilford, CT and were immediately impressed with the extensive rows of apple trees and the lanes of pumpkins near the entrance. Sidetracked by the farmer's market selling all of their homegrown fruits and veggies (along with some less healthy apple cider donuts and pies, etc.), we quickly forgot the apple picking that we had gone there for.

Connected to the market was a winery offering tours and tastings and we took our (unintentionally) perfectly timed arrival as a sign that we needed to partake. We met our tour guide minutes later and he took the two of us through the process of crushing the fruits, adding sugar, yeast and other ingredients, and letting it ferment before filtering out the imperfections.

The most interesting thing about Bishop's Orchards Winery is that all of the wines they make are purely non-grape wines. They use fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, strawberries and raspberries to create their specialty wines and all were delicious! We ended the afternoon with a tasting of a number of these wines - paired with some bites of apple cider and pumpkin donuts - and considered it a successful day. We each left the market, he with a bottle of cider in hand and I with the below wine, knowing we'd be back again!

So, why not fall for fall and indulge in a fun fall activity before the season's over?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dinner (For One) Is Served

Following a recipe is easy. Cooking for one is hard. I say this even after taking finding the time and energy to cook a meal after work out of the equation. Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough, but how often do you readily find recipes for one?

As a result, I frequently find myself cooking enough food to feed a small family...and then eating the same thing for a week straight (or eating too much in one night). Do you have this problem, too?

I've found that I have the most success making something healthy and making more appropriate portions when I experiment. I tend to buy a lot of the same ingredients each week and try to switch things up a bit or use different seasonings. Salad, chicken, ground turkey, eggs and all sorts of vegetables tend to be staples in my diet. Not sure why brussels sprouts got such a bad rap growing up since they're one of my favorites now and vegetables are the easiest to cook to me.

Lately, I've been making a mixture of quinoa, corn, onion, chickpeas, brussels sprouts and parmesan cheese seasoned with some garlic salt, pepper and tarragon topped with a poached egg. This would be a perfect filling for stuffed pepper's like my friend Lacey's (minus the bulky brussels sprouts) but recently I've been making a meal out of this combination of ingredients.

Dinner is served

I'm not one for measuring out ingredients when I'm experimenting so you can use as much or as little of each or substitute ingredients as needed. I just boil and simmer the quinoa for about 20 minutes; roast the brussels sprouts in the oven at 400 degrees; then mix these ingredients together with the vegetables and seasoning on the stove as I poach the egg. Voile!

When all else fails, you can always pull a Sandra Bullock from "Two Weeks Notice" and order takeout for one! I'm certainly guilty of it once in awhile...

Bon appetit!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boston Bucket List

Going into my fourth year in Boston and, self admittedly, I find it easy to get into a rut sometimes. I can be too quick to be of the "been there, done that" mindset and I have to remind myself that there's so much more left to see, do and accomplish in this big, little city.

Oftentimes, I think of something great and then the next day I can't for the life of me recall what my idea was...other than that I thought it was great. Since that's not very helpful, I've decided to make a "Boston Bucket List" and have listed a few ideas below so I remember to take advantage of all the city has to offer.

lucy Light Forest : This just jumped to the top of my list since it's only in Boston for a week! It's described as an "interactive light and sound experience created to celebrate movement and the women who love it" and free exercise classes are scheduled to be held along the Esplanade.

SoWa Open Market : You just can't go wrong with food trucks, a farmers market, indie designs and jewelry. Touted as the "hip and happening place to be on Sundays" on their website, I seriously feel like I'm missing out. I've checked out the SoWa Vintage Market in the off months but I need to clear a Sunday before the end of October to visit this outdoor market.

Swan Boat Ride : Can I really even say I'm from Boston if I've never taken a ride around the Boston Public Garden on a swan boat? I don't need the history that a duck tour would give me at this point, I just want a pretty ride and I think I can swing the $3 cost.

Late night movie at Coolidge Corner Theater : One of my favorite memories was seeing the Big Lebowski at midnight with my cousin in an old theater in California when I was younger. I think it's time to catch another classic at a different, charming old theater.

Concert at the Hatch Shell : So I've missed my chance this season to catch a show at the Hatch Shell but I'm keeping it on here for next summer. I see it as similar to the Comcast Center minus the nightmare of a time trying to get out of the parking lot to drive home.

So who's coming with me?! Comment and let me know what I'm missing and need to add to my Boston Bucket List - I know there's a lot!

via Google

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Am I Too Old To...

...Feel like a kid in a candy shop having just gotten tickets to Justin Timberlake in February?!

...Watch ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars as a guilty pleasure?

...Still enjoy fruit snacks as an afternoon pick me up once in awhile?

It seems like I'm at that mid-twenties age where many friends, classmates and coworkers are starting to get married, have kids or at least begin the conversations about settling down. I've thought about it; compared my life to others'; thought about it some more, and sometimes it's hard not to wonder if I'm on the right track.

Should those things be my priority right now, too? Should I be watching the news instead of Pretty Little Liars and eating fruit instead of fruit snacks? And then I remember that I'm perfectly content just where I am. I'm not too old for these things as long as I enjoy them.

It's easy to forget that what's right for one person might not be right for you. You can't plan everything out and expect your life to take the same course as others' who, on the surface, seem to be at the same stage in life.

Living the life that is waiting for me, rather than the one I had planned out years ago is what I'm focusing on now. In turn, I'm able to be genuinely happy with my choices and genuinely happy for people who just might be on a different track than me. I'm not too old to accomplish the goals I've set or to get where I want to be (I'm also not too young...). I'm just taking a different path than anticipated - one that involves a few extra fruit snacks and throwback JT songs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

When Life Hands You Lemons...Drink Warm Lemon Water

Some of my coworkers recently turned me on to the advantages of starting out each morning with a glass of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I'm not going to didn't sound all that great to me but I decided that although it didn't quite have the same appeal as lemonade (or a cup of coffee in the morning), the health benefits made it worth a try. Why not, right?

After a minor fiasco transporting my lemon water to work - some of it splashed out of my travel cup, soaking a number of items in my purse, forcing me to finally clean it out (silver lining!) - I was ready to drink up. As expected, the taste was mediocre. I drank the water out of a straw so it went down quickly and easily and in hopes of preventing some of the harm that citric acid can do to your tooth enamel.

The primary reason I wanted to give lemon water a try is because I have heard that it helps your body naturally detoxify by boosting digestion and flushing toxins out of your system. Additionally, it helps regulate your body's metabolism. Lemons are high in pectin fiber - which I won't pretend to know anything about - and this helps to curb your appetite and aid weight loss. It doesn't hurt that it's supposed to boost your immune system and help clear up your skin, too! Basically lemons are a super fruit in my eyes now.

One thing I've noticed, is that it's also gotten me to drink more water (sans lemon) throughout the day. Even if that's the only thing I get out of drinking warm water with lemon in the morning I'll consider it a success!

Have you been thinking about trying this, too?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On a Lighter Note...

I love fall and I can't wait for the season to officially begin. Don't get me wrong, I'm sad to say goodbye to beach days and summer Fridays at work; but fall is the best. Boots, football, foliage, pumpkin beer, crisp air...need I say more?

With the beginning of each new season always comes the urge to replace my entire wardrobe, though, and sparks the feeling of "I don't have anything to wear! What did I even do at this time last season?!" I have to suppress the urge though and I've been eagerly going through my closet to find some of my forgotten articles of clothing that I'm most excited to break out from the depths of my dresser drawers.

My favorite looks always involve a great pair of jeans, comfy blouse or button down and some worn-in chestnut colored boots. You just can't go wrong with any of those articles of clothing. Luckily, working at a growing internet company I have no dress code and I can wear a variation of the outfits I love every day!

Here's a perfect outfit from Pinterest that involves some basic items that almost everyone has in their closet!

All I need now is for the leaves to start changing colors! Oh, and a pumpkin beer...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Appreciate What You Have

There will always be someone who has more than you and there will always be someone who has less than you. 

I was prompted to think about this today - September 11. A day the world will never forget. A day loved ones were lost and heroes emerged. I have so much to be grateful for and events, such as September 11, certainly help to put things in perspective. 

I can't even fathom how people dealt with the loss of family and friends through that tragedy. Having two parents who were diagnosed with cancer - one while I was in middle school and one right after I graduated college - makes me so incredibly thankful to have them in my life. I don't know what I'd do without my family. I know it might sound cliche but there are no words to describe how much they mean to me.

Health, a home, happiness, a great education, employment, friends to name a few more. I'm lucky.

So thank someone today. Tell someone how much they mean to you and put a smile on their face. Why wait until it could be too late? 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Treat Yourself

I am a very financially conscientious person. I do eat out. I do shop. I do go on vacations. But I know exactly how far my salary will (and will not) go. I try not to overspend on things that are not necessary and I am constantly reminding myself which purchases would be too frivolous. When I do go shopping or order food I tend to weigh the pros and cons thoroughly before making a seemingly small decision.

Having been in the working world for a few years now (yikes!) has shown me that it's okay to treat myself once in awhile, though. Whether it's buying a new top or spending a little too much at a nice restaurant, I try not to over-think it or chastise myself after the fact as long as I'm not making it a habit.

To alleviate some of the guilt I try to do some of the following when possible:

  • Buy a Groupon or LivingSocial Deal to subsidize the cost. This is a great way to save a few dollars AND try a new restaurant or fitness class. 
  • Check your email for promo codes - most stores will honor the email if you show it to them so you don't have to actually print it out. I was shopping at the Gap Outlet recently and not only did I get the outlet prices, I remembered a 40% off email in my inbox that the cashier was able to honor. I saved $85.53 - not quite Extreme Couponer status but still was a great feeling!                      
  • Find out what restaurants and bars have happy hours or specials nearby and take advantage! Although Massachusetts does not technically allow "happy hour" (lame, I know), there are many bars and restaurants that have weekly specials. To get started, check out Cactus Club for half-priced appetizers Monday - Friday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Who doesn't need an excuse to leave work a little early?! 

We all work hard and now is the time to treat ourselves before we have little ones running around and depending on us!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

...Or better yet, in your own life. Take action. Do something. Change things that you wish were different.

I promise I won't go all Gandhi on you.... BUT that one, simple statement is such a challenging imperative. I say imperative because it's necessary that we make changes - rather than just complain - if we want to live in a different world or picture our lives working out differently. It's easy to "talk the talk" but what matters is if you can "walk the walk." Realistically, a Facebook status or idle rant isn't going to change anything.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of it myself. I complain about certain obligations or responsibilities at work. I compare my life to others' lives and think everything must come easy to them. In reality, I (we) need to make things happen and be the change that we need in our own lives.

It's okay to start small. I've recently made a conscious effort to stop venting about things to my parents and I've noticed that not only am I sure they're happy not having certain things unburdened on them...I'm happier too.

As another example, I am getting my own blog off the ground rather than merely reading others' and thinking of the blog I have always considered starting. It's cathartic. I'm happy getting my thoughts out and having something that I need to hold my self accountable to. It's a change that I needed to make and something that I want to keep going.

I realize that this is easier said than done but I know that for me, it's time to practice what I'm trying to preach. Why not make some changes in my life to help me live the life I want to lead?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life...And Of My Blog

At 25 years young, I’ve come to realize that the most important question to ask myself as new opportunities arise, new and old friends surface and exciting activities pop up is “Why not?” and not “Why?”

Case in point, I’ve always thought it would be fun to start a blog. I like to write…I like to read…I like to read other people’s blogs…why not write my own? I’ve found it easy to get caught up in the “Why’s” and “What ifs” though and make excuses why I might not want to start one. Why would anyone read what I have to say? What if people read it and don’t like it? What should my theme be and what if I can’t keep it up?

Well, I’ve decided if you don’t like it, don’t read it. And there is more to life than ONLY fashion, or ONLY baking, or ONLY fitness. My theme can be life – the ins and outs of being a typical 25 year old, which naturally will involve lots of outfits, (eating) baked goods, working off those baked goods, and everything in between…all while on a budget.

I regularly try to fit all of the aforementioned into my life and no good answers come to mind if I ask myself “Why not?” splurge on a new top once in awhile or run that extra mile at the gym or indulge in a cupcake now and then. Any reason I might come up with is just an excuse posing as a legitimate reason.

Life’s too short, though, to ask “Why?” so I’m asking myself “Why not?” start my own blog…today? I hope you enjoy!