First, let me just welcome you to the very beginning of what I’m going to call Holiday Overload. When planning out blog posts I realized that nearly all of them over the next few weeks will be holiday themed. I was conflicted about it but then I realized it’s many people’s favorite time of year (myself included) so I figured why not. There’s going to be everything from specially crafted gift guides (as if you need more of those in your life right now) to my favorite recipes, movies, and other fun things. At the end of the month as usual I will share my favorite albums and songs of 2017 just in time to kiss this unusually hellish year goodbye!
But where do we begin? 5 minutes into my family Thanksgiving dinner it started. The constant questioning “so what do you want for Christmas?” has been happening ever since. As a kid our Christmas lists were made before we even sat down for Thanksgiving dinner, put into the mailbox, and mailed off to Santa in the blink of an eye. As an adult it’s a bit harder and a much less fun. There’s still plenty of things I know I want, but there’s no Toys R Us Big Book for adult life so remembering what those things are is a little difficult. Finally after the 7,000 text message I decided to give it a go and pick a bunch of stuff that has caught my eye or that I can truly use in my life. Whether you’re looking for something to get me or just a gift in general here it is: My Christmas List.
ONE: Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman, Never Us Futura by Douglas Thomas, and Simple Fare by Karen Mordechai TWO: William’s Sonoma Copper Wine Opener THREE: Zara Parka FOUR: Saxelby Cheese Grilled Cheese Kit FIVE: EP-33 Bluetooth Record Player SIX: Lightwell Candle SEVEN: Wusthof Knife Set EIGHT: The Beatles Christmas Records Collection NINE: Zara Leather Mini Skirt TEN: Rifle Paper Co Los Angeles print ELEVEN: Crate & Barrel Copper Wine Rack
There’s a line from one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail, that goes like this:
Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand not knowing has its charms.
Now, sure, I don’t live in New York, and it’s not remotely close to fall around here. But there’s something about going blissful about going back to school. Since that film was released in 1998 I’ve always used it to encompass my feelings about the fall. Maybe it’s my Type-A personality or just the longing for a time where stress wasn’t a constant, but I genuinely love going back to school. Now that I’m entering what is supposed to be my final semester at college going back to class will be something I miss. Buying office supplies just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
These are a few of the things I find essential to making it through the semester. Headphones to drown out the noise, comfy clothes for hours spent studying, and the supplies to keep everything in line. Okay, so maybe its an attempt to keep things in line. College is a whole new breed of chaos sometimes.
Shop: Tote bag, water bottle, Arizona State hoodie, headphones, notebook, binder clips, pens, joggers, sneakers, day planner
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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
- 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.
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 wipes, Honest spray hand sanitizer, Tangle Teezer, Burt’s Bees lip balm, Elizabeth & James dry shampoo, Milk Makeup face mist, Herschel Supply Co. bag, Contigo water bottle, Beats By Dre, Khataland towels