Monthly Roundup: July Favorites

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Mid-summer and hot as ever, July was a month for the books.

From baseball games to more wedding planning to all the little adventures in between, July flew by! We also reached DOUBLE DIGITS (!!!) in our wedding countdown so to say I’m excited is a complete understatement. October, where ya at?

Check out a few other July Favorites below.

{ONE} The Best Dog Instagram Accounts

Need a little happiness today? Mashable compiled a list of the best dog accounts to follow on Instagram and I’m obsessed. A few of my favorites made the list (hey, Jiffpom!), as well as a few other furry friends. Although he didn’t make the list, another favorite of mine is Wally the Welsh Corgi. That smile!

{TWO} My First Official 5K

This month I checked “Run an Official 5K” off of my 101 in 1,001 list. I wrote all about it in a recent blog post but I highly recommend running one if you haven’t already. If you’re not an avid runner (like me!) it’s a good goal to work up towards. If you are a runner, well… It’s not difficult for you but you should still run one anyway!

{THREE} Morey’s Pier Ferris Wheel

Another item I checked off my list was go on a Ferris Wheel. My fiance and I recently went to the beach for the day and as the sun set, we had the spur-of-the-moment idea to hop on the ferris wheel to check out the view from above. I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting to be scared of heights, but as we rose to the top, it was super windy and I was a bit anxious! However, the views were totally worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Check out this image Luke snapped at the top!

{FOUR} Kalyn Nicholson

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been watching a lot of vloggers lately. I don’t watch much TV, but I find myself playing YouTube videos in the background as I do things around the house. One of my favorites is Kalyn Nicholson. Honestly, what got me hooked on her videos were her apartment tours, outfit ideas, and Coffee Talks. Highly recommend checking out her channel – she has the best style!

{FIVE} Goodreads

I finally jumped on the Goodreads train and I love it so far. I downloaded it because one of my goals for 2018 was to read at least 25 books, and I realized I had no streamlined way of tracking that without actually writing it down. In a digital age, that wasn’t good enough for me so I decided to give Goodreads a try. For those of you who don’t know, Goodreads is a free mobile app that tracks books you want to read, have read, etc. You can create virtual bookshelves and search for books that are recommended, read by your friends, suggested for you, etc. My favorite part is the “Percentage Read” feature because it’s a visual way to measure your reading success!

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The Year of 3 Words: A Mid-Year Update

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At the beginning of 2018, I declared this year a year of three words.

You may (or may not) be wondering how 2018 is shaping up to my three-word description. I decided to ease your minds and give you a mid-year update. It is June, after all, and the year is halfway over (whoa, that’s weird). It’s time for a little checkin.

Change. 

Change is inevitable and my Type A self can’t cope with it sometimes, but this year there has been good change, bad change, and uncomfortable change.

Changes in habits: less coffee, more water, more reading & audiobooks, less TV, less clutter, more budgeting, more time with people I love.

Changes in life: Updates at work, new house, new professional accomplishments, new friends, new perspectives.

Not to mention many changes that have pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Needless to say, change happens pretty much every day and I’m learning how to embrace it and trust God every step of the way.

Do.

I’ve written about wedding planning multiple times this year so you know how the “Road to I Do” is generally going, but just in case I haven’t made it clear, this is the biggest “Do” of the year and I am pumped.

At the beginning of the year, a few other “do” items included: complete my social marketing certification, buy a house, read at least 25 books, and write more letters.

So far, I have completed my certification, we found a house, I have read many books, and love writing letters when I can. I’ve also traveled to places like New York and Boston, worked on a few incredible projects, and have begun training for my first official 5K (a big deal for a non-runner like myself!).

“Do” encompasses so many things, so it has been interesting to see how 2018 has unfolded this way. It’s not always about checking things off. Sometimes a “do” is a mindset, just like my third word of 2018 is.

Joy. 

This is one thing that is not a “check off the list,” so to speak.

Joy is a choice and something that takes focus and practice in order to make it a constant part of your life. I have a post-it note on my mirror that says “Joy is a choice,” and this year, in the good and the bad, I try to focus on that mindset.

An easy way to do this is instead of saying, “I have to…” replace it with “I get to…”  A mindset makes all the difference.

So that’s a bit of a recap as the year keeps flying by! What about you? How are your three words going for 2018? This week I challenge you to revisit your goals and be motivated to keep going!

Monthly Roundup: May Favorites

May flew by in a blink of an eye! I had a feeling it would…It was such a jam-packed month filled with mini adventures and I loved it!

The busyness of the month is also why I’ve been MIA lately (whoops). I’ve been working on a secret project for you all, yes, but life offline has been a bit crazy in general!

With so many fun things, it was hard to pick just a few to share as my May Favorites, but below is the list so check it out!

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{ONE} Brooklyn Bridge

I kicked off the month by escaping to New York City for a girls weekend with my mom and cousins. We traveled to Chicago a few years ago and decided to plan Girls Trip 2.0 a little closer to home this time.

We checked many things off the bucket list including trips to Central Park, the Alice in Wonderland Statue, Alice’s Tea Cup Cafe, Chinatown, Little Italy, and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m a fan of all-things adrenaline but I have to be honest, at the top of the bridge I felt a little shaky! It may have been the wooden boards and being able to see the water when I looked down, but it was still something I’m glad I did.

{TWO} Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, New York City

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum was another place I wanted to visit while in NYC. I had read reviews and seen a few pictures online and thought that although it looked weird and a bit creepy, I had to see it for myself. I’m so glad we did! It ended up being the highlight of the trip. The wax statues were unbelievably realistic and the gallery included statues of Michael Jackson, Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, Ronald Reagan, Usher, The Rock, and Amelia Earhart. Definitely a must-see!

{THREE} Engagement Photos

Luke and I had our engagement photos taken in May. After rescheduling the photoshoot three times due to absurd DE weather, we finally had a beautiful (hot!!!) afternoon and went to Winterthur Museum & Garden for the day. Stacy Hart Photography did an incredible job and you can view the entire gallery here.

Dress: Dress Barn // Shoes: Payless

{FOUR} Registry

May was the month of checking random wedding to-dos off the list. We had fun scanning things and creating our registry at several of our favorite stores. I never knew I could be so excited about registering for plates and kitchen utensils, but alas here we are. #Adulting

{FIVE} The Knot Wedding Website

I mentioned in a recent post, 5 Wedding Planning Tips From a Budget-Friendly Bride, that I would be saving paper (and money) by creating digital RSVPs instead of requiring my guests to send back paper cards. The Knot makes it easy to create a personalized, user-friendly website and it’s been fun creating one for our guests. I even linked our registries to the website, too!

{SIX} The Royal Wedding

Yes, I was one of those suckers who woke up at 5am to watch The Royal Wedding. Judge me all you want, it was worth it. If not for the fashion then definitely for the memories of my mom and I drinking tea and watching the event unfold across the pond.

{SEVEN} Mercy by Jodi Picoult

2018 is all about change and one of the habits I’ve recently changed is avoiding social media before bed. About 30-45 minutes before I call it for the night, I open a book instead of the Instagram app. During a recent thrift store visit, I picked up Mercy by Jodi Picoult (my favorite author of all time!) for $2. Best two bucks ever spent because I’ve been reading Mercy and it is phenomenal. Picoult wrote it back in the ’90s, but it is a timeless, thought-provoking, and captivating read.

Monthly Roundup: April Favorites

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It finally feels like spring (and sometimes summer!) so to say I’m excited is a MAJOR understatement!

This April roundup is being posted a bit later than I wanted, but that is because I have a very exciting announcement coming soon, so I’ve been working on that a lot behind the scenes!

April was a month of unpredictable weather, lots of coffee, and slowly (but surely) checking things off. We’re also official less than 200 days away (!!) from saying “I do” so the to-do list is growing like crazy and we couldn’t be more excited for the big day.

Here are a few things that have been on my radar in April:

{One} Audiobooks

I’m a book lover with limited time. Nothing can replace the feeling of a book in your hands, but lately I’ve found myself obsessed with audiobooks. I listen to them while driving and at work when I’m not in the mood for the radio or my iTunes playlist. My latest listen: Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (published in 2012, but still just as funny!).

{Two} Florists

I found a florist! Cue all the praise hands. After months of researching and sitting down with different vendors, I found one who is reasonably priced and extremely talented. I can’t wait to work with her to make the ideas in my head come to life!

{Three} A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place was one of the most well-done movies I’ve ever seen. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and never once was bored or sick of the plot. A must-see, but be warned there are some gross scenes so if you have a weak stomach (like I do!), consider this a warning!

{Four} The Movement Challenge

I challenged myself to move more in April. I wrote about it in a recent post (check it out here!) and it was definitely a life-changing experiment I will continue in May and beyond. I’m a firm believer in always pushing yourself and creating challenges to overcome so The Movement Challenge was a great way to do that!

{Five} Cherry Blossoms

All the cherry blossom trees bloomed the last week of April and I was in love. The photo above is from my front yard and when I woke up one morning, seeing it in full bloom was an incredible sight. Gotta love spring joys ❤

The Movement Challenge: 6 Ways to Move More

This month I’ve been challenging myself to MOVE.

Now this may sound pretty straight forward and obvious, but if I’m being honest with you (and myself), some days I’m really bad at moving. I work in an office where I sit for most of the day, whether at my desk or in meetings, and when it’s a busy day I am usually “chained” to my desk. (Not really, but you get the idea.)

I mentioned in my Monthly Roundup: 7 March Favorites blog post I received a Fitbit HR recently from my fiance. I love it but it also was a visual reminder that I didn’t move enough during the day. It alerts me every hour to walk at least 250 steps and on some days in March, I would go a few hours (if not most of the day) without walking a single step from 9-5 p.m. (Terrible, I know.)

They say sitting is the new smoking, so this month I decided to do something about it.

I still work at a desk job so my 9-5 p.m. schedule can’t change too much, but here are a few habits I’ve started to incorporate more movement into the day.

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I’m changing my “I can’t” to “I will.” Before action comes the mindset. I sometimes say, “I don’t have time.” That’s not true. I do make time for what is important to me. If movement was important to me (and it is), then the mindset must change. In April I began changing my thinking from “I don’t have time” to “I will have time.” Using an “I will” statement is a promise I don’t want to break.

I wake up earlier. Let’s be honest here, we love sleep. I’m not a self-proclaimed morning person but this month I’ve been trying to wake up 1 – 1.5 hours earlier than I did in March. When I wake up earlier, it is so difficult to get out of bed, but when I’m up, there are no excuses to skip my workout. I can’t say “I don’t have time,” because I do! So I roll out of bed and do Insanity and by 7:30 a.m. (when I’d usually wake up), I’ve already completed 3 healthy habits: more sweat, more steps, and more water.

I park farther away. Granted, the parking garage is directly below my office building so I don’t have to walk blocks to arrive at my desk. BUT, parking farther away from the entrance makes me walk farther and therefore, move more.

I take the stairs. I refuse to go on an elevator unless I absolutely have to. In the mall, at the office, in a hotel… wherever it might be, I don’t take the elevator. I opt for the stairs. It gets my heart pumping a bit if there are multiple flights to climb and it is also an easy way to get more movement in my day.

I drink more water. This is a win-win because you a) drink more water and b) walk to re-fill the bottle. This month I’ve tried to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, which is honestly a lot harder then I originally thought. Consequently I’m less hungry, feel healthier, and consume less coffee (sad but good).

I walk laps around the office. I can get so buried in a task that I don’t even realize I need a mental break. My Fitbit HR helps me out because it buzzes a reminder that I need to walk before the hour is up. It’s my cue to stop what I’m doing and take a lap around the office. Even a 5-minute mental break from looking at a screen makes me feel refreshed and motivated to do my best work.

I’ve enjoyed The Movement Challenge so far. It’s not only been a positive change, but a much needed one. What are some ways you add movement to your day? Leave a comment below!

Monthly Roundup: Seven March Favorites

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March is one of my favorite months. I may be biased because it’s my birthday month but there’s something about March that makes me happy. The start of spring weather, sunny mornings, longer days, and the feeling that winter is almost gone.

This month went by quickly and winter made it clear it was not going away anytime soon. Although we had a few springlike days, we had a nor’easter on the “First Day of Spring,” so I’m not convinced yet! That doesn’t mean I can’t channel spring inside, though. Check out a few of my March (and spring!) favorites below.

{One} Bloom Daily Planners

I’m a sucker for planners and have purchased academic planners for the past few years now. However in March I decided to make the switch from academic to yearly planner and therefore bought this one from Bloom Daily Planners. I love the pattern and the different sections in it. I can’t wait to use it more in April.

{TWO} Essie Nail Polish

I can’t stand when my nails aren’t painted. I love switching out the colors and trying new ones. In the winter I tend to stay dark — burgundy, wine, rose, navy — but in the spring, I like to lighten it up! I’m currently obsessed with minimalistic by essie nail polish. It’s a light and airy pink that is almost nude. It gives my nails the exact spring refresh I was looking for!

{THREE} Insanity

Spring means summer is coming! To get ready for it, I’ve restarted Insanity: a nine-week, 6-days-a-week, HIIT-esque sister to P90X. If that description scares you then you’re not alone. This time I knew what I was getting into since I completed Insanity this summer but that doesn’t make it any easier. So. Many. Burpees. But the best part about it is you don’t need weights or a lot of room so it’s a great hour workout I can knock out before work to kickstart my day the healthy way.

{FOUR} Fitbit HR

My fiance gave me a Fitbit HR as a gift and I love it. I’m obsessed. It not only tracks your steps but it also tracks your heart rate, calories burned, and miles walked. I sync it with the FitBit app regularly to learn more info including my sleep schedule, how much water I drink, a food log, etc. Not to mention it’s cute and there are a lot of wristband options for it so you can always make a fashion statement and be healthy at the same time!

{FIVE} Payless Pumps

Throughout March I found myself cleaning out, purging, and wanting to start fresh, especially wardrobe-wise. I bought these pumps from Payless in three colors, but how could I not?! They actually were on sale at the time so I got them in Black/Pink Floral, Rose Gold Smooth, and Watermelon Pink Suede. They’re surprisingly comfortable and go with a lot. I can’t wait to wear them more often!

{SIX} Balayage

My wardrobe wasn’t the only thing that got a refresh…my hair did, too! I caved and got balayage highlights to lighten it up a bit for spring. I tried balayage for the first time in the fall and loved it so I decided to revamp it and go a bit lighter this time.

{SEVEN} Tulips

What’s a spring favorites post without flowers? I’m currently in love with a bouquet of tulips a few of my piano students got me the other day (pictured above). I placed them on my desk next to a window so they can receive the best light. I love having fresh flowers – they make everything better!

Coffee Shop Musings

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It has officially been spring for a month now but the weather has not received the memo. We had a nor’easter here on the First Day of Spring with over 9 inches of snow.

Oh the irony.

I cannot wait for spring temps so I can wear my heels and sandals, drink iced coffee, walk out of the house without a sweater or jacket, and drive with the windows down.

While I anxiously await the days of warmer weather and mornings sans-ice, I continue my search for new cafes and coffee shops. It honestly is one of my favorite things to do when it’s cold outside. If a friend wants to meet for coffee, we try to find a place we have not visited before. If I can’t explore outside, I can certainly explore in a caffeinated sort of way!

This weekend, Luke and I stopped by a coffee shop before heading to a friend’s birthday dinner. As soon as I stepped inside, I was in love. It had rustic charm with an array of frames on the walls. Chandeliers hung from the ceilings and the tables, chairs and couches were mismatched. It definitely rocked a Friends-esque vibe.

Although I love my Starbucks and Dunkin drinks, there is something special about little coffee places that are not part of a franchise. It somehow makes the visit feel extra down-to-earth and cozy. If (when) I go back, I will order a hot mocha latte (it looked delicious), but I will say their iced chai is 10/10!