Life

What I Always Buy At the Grocery Store

Sharing what I buy at the grocery store feels a little strange, but I try to curate this blog as more of a magazine. There are tons of articles and pieces from celebrity nutritionists and dietitians sharing what they make sure they feed their famous clients. But alas I’m a normal person so what does anyone really care about what I purchase on a daily basis?

Well the truth is, I eat like a bird. I eat tiny amounts all day long rather than set meals. Yeah, it’s a little weird for someone who loves to cook like I do but it’s what works best for me. Plus as an Italian my family values meals together so quite often that is the best meal I eat, but I do cook sometimes.

My approach to the grocery is simple: stay on the perimeter. The perimeter of most groceries contain the freshest of foods and usually the healthiest, but it really depends on the layout of the store. I know my most visited store has completely tried to undo this concept by moving things all over the place. When this happens avoid the middle rows of product. It’s where the most marketed products end up and where we make the quick decisions based on identifiable brand name rather than other factors.

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Springtime City Guide: Phoenix

Full disclosure: it’s been incredibly nice here the past couple weeks. Unless you count yesterday being about 96 degrees which is more of an outlier. Regardless, that means we are spending a ton of time outdoors lately. Phoenix in the spring has an influx of snowbirds avoiding the frigid temperatures of their home state in favor of pool days, baseball games, and hiking. While it might be my biggest driving annoyance (just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean we drive differently!), I figured I would share more of my favorite places to visit in the Phoenix metro area.

I’ve previously shared some of my favorite places to go (City Guide: Phoenix) but this time I tried to recommend places with more outdoor spaces to enjoy the brilliant weather. It’s only a matter of time before just the thought of stepping outside burns the bottom of my feet. So whether it’s enjoying a nice meal on the patio or taking in a baseball game these are some of the best places to check out and enjoy some time outside.

Churn

Churn
5223 N. Central Ave, Phoenix

Churn is an ice cream parlor with a vintage feel that sells ice cream, sweets, and even little toys. Their selection of vintage sweets and delicious ice cream make it the perfect place to take in a little afternoon treat. They have pretzel cones, cake cones, and even the classic waffle cone to fill up with delectable ice cream flavors and toppings. Choose a sundae, cone, or eat the ice cream all on its own. It’s just that good. My favorite are the ice cream sandwiches that are made to order from a variety of cookie and ice cream combinations. They are gigantic and quite possible one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. They also know that sweet cravings often happen at night and are open until 10pm!

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Spring Training Baseball

One perk of living in Arizona is the plethora of baseball games to choose on the daily. Plenty of teams come to train here so it’s a given to check out a game. Be the envy of everyone you know by spending the day outside, on the lawn, having a hot dog and beer while enjoying some baseball. There are plenty of stadiums and teams to choose from and many games cost as little as $13 dollars for a lawn seat. I personally choose the Dodgers who play out of Glendale or will settle for the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale (they offer complementary sunscreen!). There’s only a few weeks left so if you haven’t gone, go now!

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Crescent Ballroom
308 N. 2nd Ave, Phoenix

Crescent Ballroom is one of the best places to take in live music in the Valley. It’s a former garage which offers free music frequently or indie bands for a low price. They have specialty nights like the upcoming 80s dance party or the Drake vs Kanye hip hop nights. There’s always something going on so check their calendar. Not into taking in some live music? Enjoy some great Tex-Mex food on their new second floor patio. It looks like a great place to take in a sunset while having some of the best nachos ever made. I wish they still served up a cold PBR, but I love Crescent Ballroom just the same.

Postino

Postino
5144 N. Central Ave, Phoenix

There are many new Postino locations across the Valley, but this one is conveniently located across the street from Churn. Yes, you can take in a lovely meal on the patio and then head over for some ice cream. Postino offers a great selection of wine and Italian food in a really relaxed, comfortable setting. There’s great music and decor plus the food is outstanding. it’s one of my all time favorite places to go. I usually eat a sandwich and the side salad is incredibly tasty so I have no doubt their other salads are just as good. Don’t skip on the bruschetta and always try the seasonal offering when making your choices. Postino is the perfect excuse to eat all. the. bread. No seriously just trust me. Do it. 

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Taliesin West
12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale

NERD ALERT: I love Taliesin West and Frank Lloyd Wright and after listening to a 99% Invisible podcast episode on Usonia  I just knew I would have to recommend this.

If you don’t know, Taliesin West was the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright and the headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship. It now is home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and School of Architecture. There are tons of tours depending on your interest level in the project. There’s a new Private Collection tour featuring tons of items from Frank Lloyd Wright’s vaults or you can take the Panorama tour which highlights the link between outside and inside. Enthusiasts can take the Behind the Scenes tour and romantics can take the Night Lights which looks amazing. The Foundation offers tours of the gardens and grounds for those who enjoy the outdoors much more than myself. The structure is built with the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright organic architecture forming deep connections with the desert surrounding it. It was handcrafted and maintained by Wright loyalists who believed in the Wright style. Its gorgeous and I love it. It’s well worth the money even just the generic tour.

My Weekday Morning Routine

I have a little nerdy interest in the morning routines of successful people. There’s even an entire website dedicated to sharing the morning routines of successful people in all areas of life and different career fields. It’s interesting to me the things successful people do whether they are or are not morning people. I am a morning person. I love getting everything out-of-the-way and I make better decisions. It’s a fact morning people make better decisions in the morning rather than the afternoon or early evening. This is likely why going shopping at night is my absolute downfall.

That said, I am a normal every day person. I’m not running my own business (well not really) nor am I some executive or lifestyle expert. I am a student (a bit older than most I’ll admit) and I freelance off and on so I work from home a lot. I’ve carefully crafted a weekday morning routine that gets the most out of my day and allows me to not feel guilty if I can sneak in a midday nap. #blessed

There are 5 specific things I never skip in the morning during the week. Of course I shower, get dressed, put on makeup, etc just like everyone else but that’s a given so I left it out.

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  1. Set Daily Intentions – Right when I wake up, before even looking at my phone (difficult I know), I take a second to set my intention for the day. What do I intend to accomplish and be the most mindful of? Is there a particular task I need to accomplish that will require more energy or am I in a bad moon I shouldn’t spread? It takes only a bit of time to get into a habit of being mindful.
  2. Go to the Gym – Going to the gym early in the morning is hard. If I’ve had a rough night of sleep or just don’t feel motivated it’s difficult to get up and go work out. Sometimes I’ll supplement a trip to the gym with an at home work out, but it just doesn’t feel the same. One perk of heading to the gym early in the AM? It’s mostly elderly people! So when I don’t feel my best, I don’t have to pretend I do. Heading to the gym early also creates a surge of energy for the day.
  3. Have a Cup of Coffee – Okay, cup of coffee is used loosely. Many…cups of coffee surely is more accurate. I typically brew coffee at home and sit quietly while consuming it. That’s not always possible and I’ll find myself checking my email or Twitter feed, and that’s okay. I’m also an advocate of shower coffee when I’m running low on time.
  4. “Breakfast” – I don’t actually eat a regular breakfast and most breakfast foods actually make me want to take a nap. They are too hearty (waffles are just that delicious). Instead, the Nicole Breakfast is eating cereal whilst staring into the closet to find something to wear or packing my bag for the day. #reallife
  5. Prioritize Tasks In My Planner – Sunday night I usually create my schedule for the week, so daily I take a second to look at what I have ahead of me for the day. One thing I learned from successful women is how to prioritize my to-do list for the day. It is often easier to answer emails or begin with easier tasks, but I learned to start with the difficult or time-consuming ones. Unless the email or task has a deadline, working on harder tasks earlier allows for more time and effort rather than rushing or having to work on it again tomorrow.

Spring Cleaning or Time to Reset?

Spring cleaning might be one of my favorite times of the year. That sounds really dumb and painful, right? I clean a lot because I am really obsessive compulsive about clean spaces, but even I look forward to the deep clean. I mean, how else am I going to discover the half eaten bag of Reese’s pumpkins from Halloween hiding out in my pantry? But this post is about a different spring cleaning…more like hitting the reset button.

I took to this blog in January to write some wellness resolutions for the year (read that here), and while that isn’t actually that long ago, spring is a time of renewal. Whether you lost your resolution weeks ago or you just feel run down, there’s always time to hit the reset button and try something new. While we are busy cleaning and decluttering our spaces, we can make simple changes to improve our life overall. Even if spring cleaning totally isn’t your thing (and I can see why), there are other things you can try to recenter yourself and improve your life.

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Refresh Your Space – This is real spring cleaning.  It’s time to look into the places and spaces you avoid during your regular cleaning cycle. Remember how bad underneath the bathroom sink looks? When is the last time you actually cleaned behind your toilet? These are the things no one really likes doing, but they must be done. Grab some harsh chemical free cleaners and tackle it. Just choose the things that matter to you. No need to completely turn your space upside down and cover it entirely in bleach.

Clean Out Your Closet – Since it’s time to put away the cold weather items in favor for warm weather options, it’s an ideal time to let things go. Improve someone else’s life by donating them to charities that serve a purpose. Give your business casual clothes to a charity that helps women with job interviews. Spread out the rest or donate to Goodwill. Either way you’ll be giving others the chance to strive and feel their best.

Declutter Your Inbox – Look at your phone right now. How many thousands of unread emails do you have? Get rid of them. You’re clearly not reading them so why are you saving them for a rainy day? Most of them are marketing emails anyway right? Use unroll.me to unsubscribe from the ones you never open or have no intention of opening.

Set Intentions – Take some time out of your day to set some mindful intentions for the months ahead. Intentions are the seeds for goals and visions that come to fruition on their own over time. Don’t set intentions for things you don’t believe in, and they should be positive. They are a roadmap for where you want to go in life after all.

Log Off Social Media – Today’s media landscape is just tons of noise. It’s constantly being thrown at us. Every time I look at my phone there’s another news alert of something terrible or ridiculous happening in the world. Log out and give your mind a break. The news and all your friends vacation photos will still be there when you get back.

 

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from The Bachelor

Ah, Bachelor Nation. The nation I have recently joined purely by accident. My friends love The Bachelor family of products almost religiously, and I reluctantly joined their Bachelorette viewing party this last summer. I was likely invited to simply bring homemade guac, but I haven’t been able to look away from this beautiful train wreck ever since. Like with most things in life we can learn a lot from The Bachelor and it’s entirely unrealistic crazy universe. Since I have never really exposed myself to The Bachelor franchise of shows until last year’s Bachelorette, I never realized how crazy things get sometimes. This lead me to discover some of the quirkier and stranger things that could literally only happen on a reality show about finding love.

Let is dig in, shall we?

Never Wear Red – On the season premiere red was the go to color worn by the women who were hoping to “stand out.” Sure, in theory this sounds like a great idea. Not all women look great in red (I don’t), and with a sea of those horrible rejected prom dresses, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. So you reach for red thinking you’re original! Red is the color of love after all! Men are scientifically proven to have a greater attraction to the color red because it makes women appear warmer, competent, and feminine. But, these studies weren’t completed in a competitive reality show environment now were they? Better save the red for the highly coveted one-on-one dates or just pull out that shark costume you’ve been dying to wear. 

If You Believe Hard Enough…Sharks Can Be Dolphins – Poor Alexis had great intentions trying to be different with her dolphin costume except she clearly never saw the Katy Perry Super Bowl halftime show and it was actually a shark. Now, for someone who loves dolphins as much as she claims, she would know that sharks have side gill slits and dolphins do not. While the nation was united in the debate of Shark vs Dolphin, watching Nick have to correct her (multiple. times.) about the costume was just about a cringe worthy as watching this grown woman wade in a pool making porpoise noises.

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Do What You Love…Someone Somewhere Will Accept It – One of the best things about The Bachelor are the job titles (99% of aren’t real jobs at all). Don’t believe me? “Free Spirit?” Is that just a title for someone who believes they can be the Penny Lane of 2017? Alexis was labeled Aspiring Dolphin Trainer while a real job that’s a pretty niche market and probably requires knowing the difference between sharks and dolphins. If anyone knows how to capitalize on the job “hipster” (another title actually used), please let me know. I could make enough to pay off my student loans. I guess it’s better than selling detox tea on Instagram.

It’s Okay to Have An Adult Nanny…In Your 20s – Sure, we call them “assistants” to give them some kind of real dignity in their jobs, but let’s change it up. Have them bring you a midday cucumber snack (whatever that is) or make you and your significant other “cheesy pasta!” Just because you’re a fully grown adult capable of making and consuming actual meals, doesn’t mean you have to.

Dates Are the Worst….Especially In Groups – It’s a well-known fact that most of the time spent on the show is done with alcohol and a lack of food. They never eat on dates (what a waste) and they spend hours filming them. Uncomfortable times exploring the wooded areas of a cabin (why) are just awkward to participate in let alone watch. Watching a disastrous beach volleyball date this season had to be the cream of the crop. Suddenly everyone is crying because they just realized what show they were on apparently? I don’t want to compete for someone’s attention and I would likely spend all my time judging everyone else instead. All I know is, if someone asks me to play beach volleyball I’m going to take a hard pass. It can’t end well. 

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Be Yourself….The Weirdest Version of Yourself – If Nick can do this “dinosaur” impression while trying to win the hearts of women, you can do just about anything. Odds are someone…somewhere is going to find you to be incredibly charming. Being normal is overrated. It takes a lot to be yourself in this world but we all have something that magnetized us to our ideal mate. It’s probably dinosaur imitations…so start practicing.

Always Take Naps – Naps are proven to increase productivity which is why many workplaces now implement nap rooms for the employees. There’s never a problem a nap can’t solve. According to Corinne, once you achieve your goals (getting a rose) you no longer have to follow any rules or general human decency, and should nap instead. Was not showing up to the rose ceremony kind of dick move? Of course. But I mean…Abraham Lincoln took naps…

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When all is said and done there is a lot to learn from the Bachelor. You can take down a girl simply by saying she’s not here “for the right reasons.” Chris Harrison lives on island time and shows up casually to earn money by making statements once an episode. But most importantly, always tell the person you have feelings for that you have feelings for them. There’s always a chance someone else will get to it before you and you should never let that happen. Never settle and never give up. When all feels lost just remember Nick has been “looking for love” on television four times now.

A Little Life Edit

Long time no see, blog. I’ve been meaning to update, but I’ve become so lost in life. So many assignments and health issues keep coming up and updating seems like not such a big priority. I mean, there’s a pretty sweet post on the Bachelor sitting in my drafts right now just begging to be finished before the EPIC of an episode on Monday, right? Hopefully with spring break happening I’ll finally get around to it. Since there was no February Edit (okay so what if February just ended on Tuesday), I thought I would just give a random Life Edit instead. I mean you can call it a February Edit if you really want. You do you.

  • Watch Abstract: The Art of Design docu-series on Netflix. It’s honestly one of the best documentary series I’ve ever seen and on design no less. What’s cool about this series is it covers so many different types of design and designers that the viewer is given a glimpse into something they may not know much about. I, for one, didn’t know anything about the design process of Nike sneakers nor the reputation of Tinker Hatfield but I was completely engrossed in his story.
  • Wear this Toxic Masculinity shirt from My Favorite Murder. With the state of chaos that America is currently living in why not show your distain for toxic masculinity with this super comfortable tee? This might be one of the softest t-shirts I have ever owned and looks great paired with my super powerful boss lady blazer.
  • Read Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill because it’s fascinating to understand why it is we do the things we do. Okay, maybe it’s just fascinating for me since my entire career path is based on getting people to buy things. Plus, I kid you not, this was recommended to me by my dentist when we were casually discussing what business school is like when I was having a check up.
  • Buy this Anine Bing velvet and lace bra because Victoria’s Secret was out of the bra I really wanted last time I headed into their store (not. cool.).
  • Try this trend I’m really not sure about: Ballerina skinny jeans. According to Topshop these are going to be all the rage. I’ve gone back and forth on what I think of them..and still am undecided.
  • Listen to Zombies on Broadway by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness because no matter how old I get Andrew McMahon is still my jam. Plus it’s a really great album for listening to with the windows down on a nice, sunny day.