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My Summer Bucket List

Summertime as an adult takes a lot more effort than it did when I was a kid. There’s so many more things that require attention as an adult. I can’t just wake up, eat some pancakes, watch MTV, and then hang out in the pool all day. Now if I’m lucky I might get a little vacation or staycation, but usually my time, like many, is spent working. But what about the weekend? Doing more fun adult things like laundry. Given it’s mid-July I feel like I haven’t made enough time for summer fun.

Enter my Summer Bucket List. I sat down and thought of a list of things I want to do or accomplish by Labor Day. Believe me making a bucket list is hard work. I couldn’t pick things that would be too hard to complete or things that were too boring (like organize my closet…again). So I tried to find a middle road of things that were only mildly nerdy or things I have never done before.

  • Wear a bikini…with confidence – After losing about 50 lbs over the last couple years I still haven’t had the confidence to fully rock a bikini. So here’s to hoping I can find no shame in my almost-have-abs game.
  • Take a mindfulness trip – No, not an altered state trip. A real trip where I am completely mindful and unplugged. Yes, living in the moment rather than snapping, instagramming, and giving people FOMO. A real two for one: unplugging for a digital detox and enjoying a new place.
  • Spend an entire day with my best friend – Sure, I spend a lot of time with my best friend, Rachael, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. But I’m sure she’d spend an entire day of best friend adventures rather than sitting with me watching HGTV after having my wisdom teeth pulled. I know I sure would…
  • Touch up on my French – I took French a couple of years ago in college, but got so frustrated by my professor I didn’t continue on. I know enough to watch French films and listen to French tunes, but no more than that.
  • Enjoy a sunset from start to finish – I’m talking no phone and no photos. Just sitting still enjoying the nature and sounds of the city.
  • Bake a pie – This might sound dumb, but truly the only pie I make is pumpkin for Thanksgiving. So I’d love to make a summer pie. Maybe a strawberry or peach?
  • Read three books on the New York Times’ Best Seller’s list – Three books might be testing my ability to relax, sit and read. Not to mention my time limit of Labor Day. I checked out the list today, and there are quite a few good selections from what I can tell. The one’s that caught my fancy were: Devil in the White City, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and the Handmaid’s Tale

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Birthday Playlist 2017

I’m not sure how this tradition began but many years ago I began making playlist for my birthday. They don’t contain music I’m currently listening to at whatever given age I may be turning (which actually sounds like a better idea). Instead they take a glimpse back into past years almost like a nostalgic road trip.

I try to choose a relevant year and look at the music most popular during that time, but this year I issued myself a little challenge. The formative years of life where we begin shaping who we are range somewhere between ages 8 to 18. We develop quite a bit before then, but this is the time we really try to explore who we are, what we like, and the world around us begins to dictate more influence on ourselves. Finding music that essentially defined me during that time turned out to be really difficult. There are so many sources and it changed so much over time no one but me could possible ever listen to a playlist like that.

So the playlist I ended up coming up with is filled with 90s music that I listened from like 3 to 13. I did this entirely from memory trying to recall what CDs and cassette tapes I once owned, what my parents listened to frequently, and what takes up significant space in my brain. That said because music comes from many places there is tons missing from this. I didn’t want to self-disclose too much so there are a lot of personal songs missing because it became way too long (2 hours is already getting a bit long and it used to be about 4). No one is that nostalgic for the 90s.

Thanks to my parents for their influence, years of cheerleading routines, 90s teen movies, and the obscene amount of time I spent watching MTV for helping shape my musical taste during these years. While it seems wildly inappropriate for a child to listen to any of these songs, I’m pretty sure they made me the sparkling ray of cynical sunshine I am today.

Tracklist & Links below

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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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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.

What’s In My Gym Bag?

Earlier this year I made a goal (more like post) to get my sh*t together by finally buying a gym bag. So have I done it? No. But what I did was repurpose a Victoria’s Secret weekender I got by overspending (on accident) and just never used. It’s now a staple in my life and I’ve officially become the girl that carries too many bags. Hey, they all serve a purpose and contain different things. Would I really put my gym necessities in with my work stuff? No. Plus, the original goal of the gym bag was to remove the random items from the confines of my car to one transportable place. Success.

My gym essentials aren’t that different from most people. I carry spray hand sanitizer and face wipes to make myself fresh and clean. Dry shampoo to refresh my hair and I make sure to carry a pouch filled with first aid supplies as well as random things I may need (tampons, hair ties, etc). I don’t use the showers or change at the gym (just a personal preference), so all the things I carry with me are to freshen myself up a bit so I can enter society in a normal looking fashion once I leave the gym. This means running errands or just not looking like a hot mess. Another function of my gym bag is to collect items I might forget exist. This could be random headphones incase I forget my favorite Beats or a case for my glasses (which is truly a lifesaver).

Other items might seem obvious. Face mist to refresh my skin and a towel to absorb the nasty sweat. I choose a dry shampoo that has a perfume scent so I don’t have to worry about smelling like sweat or looking disheveled. Another necessity: deodorant. Sure, you put some on to begin with but it doesn’t hurt to add a little more….just in case.

Up + Up Cucumber wipesHonest spray hand sanitizerTangle TeezerBurt’s Bees lip balmElizabeth & James dry shampooMilk Makeup face mistHerschel Supply Co. bagContigo water bottleBeats By DreKhataland towels

Wish List 2016

People asking what I want for Christmas is the worst. Only because I never know what to say, I always feel so awful if I ever do remember anything I want, and it usually leaves me with a really high expectation of returning the favor with a gift. I am terrible at gifts. 

But one of the best things with Christmas is making a wish list. Mainly for myself which features tons of really cool stuff I would love to get as gifts. So you know if I love it, it would make a gift for someone else (in case you were stuck on what to buy a really cool girl in your life).

Zara striped sequin dress 2 Glossier Phase 1 set 3 AreaWare key ring 4 Jonathan Adler Pop Champagne candle 5 Elizabeth and James bag 6 Things Will Work Out print 7 H&M pjs 8 Hario copper coffee scoop 9 Threshold bottle opener 10 Zara masculine double breasted coat 11 Criterion Designs book 12 Copper Water Bottle

3 Things I Do Every Day

There is something to be said about routines and their effectiveness on every day life. There wouldn’t be books or articles about the habits of highly effective people if the practice wasn’t important. Research suggests doing something 21 days in a row establishes it into one’s routine officially making it a habit. Of course that means getting over the first few days of forgetting or just not really committing to make it happen.

There are a lot of habits to consider adding into a daily routine from different places whether it be creating avenues for greater success or just adding wellness elements to feel better. Advice comes from plenty of diverse sources and ideas, but when crafting my days there are three things I always complete.

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Drink lemon water

In the morning start your day with hot lemon water. It seems boring, but lemon water aids in digestion, is a natural diuretic, and contains Vitamin C. It balances a healthy weight while flushing the system of toxins. Not everyone loves lemons, but I do. On days when I’m running late I’ll add some lemon juice and cayenne to a water bottle and take it with me while running errands or at work.

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Schedule, Plan, and Prioritize

I don’t know where I would be without a day planner (this one is incredibly effective). Every morning I take a few minutes to look ahead at the day, organize tasks by priority, and get started on the quickest ones first. I learned this from an article on successful women and incorporated it into my day. It creates balance and no matter what unexpected event happens during the day I’ve completed at least one thing. This is incredibly useful at work because tasks that take longer and require more care and attention aren’t being cut short by other tasks that move quickly. Once I’m done I highlight the to-dos and notes and whatever isn’t finished is easily worked into the following days or rescheduled for later.

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Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.

Meditating is one or two times a day I can attempt to shut my brain off, sit quietly, or re-center when things get crazy. People usually fall into two camps: 1. It’s really easy! You just sit there quietly and relax or 2. It’s complete mumbo jumbo and a waste of time. Well, it’s not actually just sitting still being quiet and often takes a bit of practice and time to get it right for you. There are plenty of different kinds (Guided, Chakra, Transcendental, etc). I’m not an expert and I switch back and forth between the kinds depending on how I feel. I enjoy the peace and quiet it brings. Sometimes it’s the only way of slowing down the chaos of life, relieving stress, and bringing in calm.

I recommend using apps no matter what type of meditation you’re curious in. I’ve tried all of these and use them regularly.

  • Yoga Studio – Not just for Yoga and contains the easiest meditations. Just lay on the floor, relax and be still.
  • Meditation Studio – Guided meditations with teachers and experts. Features collections and guided meditations for health, confidence, relationships, and many more.
  • Buddhify – Guided meditations for your daily activities like working, browsing online, going to sleep, waking up, setting intentions, and more. It suggests meditations based on time of day or allows for browsing a click wheel for activity and amount of time needed.
  • Take a Break! – Guided meditations for stress relief. Perfect for use on breaks at work.
  • Headspace – Really great for beginners or just people looking to get a grasp on their own thoughts.