Radiating Sunshine: February 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Putting the C in Cohesive

Recently, I have been thinking about how much I love Residence Life! I'm truly a res lifer in the most basic form. I love ice breakers, team builders, and student development theories. Now that my senior year is drawing to a close, I have been really reflective on my time as an RA. Whether it has been bulletin boards, cutting door decs, hosting hall programs, or laughing until I cry in my staff meetings, I have really just enjoyed my time as an RA. 

What has made my experience so amazing is the people I have gotten to work with. There have been so many incredible RAs who have really touched my life. Some of them include my mentors like Estela, Kayla, or Olivia! Others are my RA friends now like Matt, James, or Ashley. I have loved being a part of a great staff. This year as an RCL, one of my goals was to unite the whole RA staff. One of my fellow RCLs chose the theme "Closing Time" and at the end of one of our infomercials all of the RAs got on stage and linked arms and sang "Closing Time."  

I love staff bonding. Some bonding activities I have done with my fellow RAs include: hiking, cookie baking, workout videos, meditations, every Staff Meeting we have ever had, and spontaneous movie nights.
Can't remember what this is called!
I love Residence Life. I literally have had the best experience and I really hope I can continue working in Residence Life post-graduation. I mean what's not to love? You get to bond all day with wonderful people.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Teena's Legacy

Today, I'm writing about a special cause that I recently was connected with. Teena's Legacy gives women a second chance. The campaign is currently raising money to get the project started and it would mean a lot to me, if y'all hopped over their and helped support this great cause. 
"My name is Jamika Smith, 2 years ago I founded Teena's Legacy in honor of my grandmother Alberteen Stredrick (Teena). My grandmother helped my mother raise me in one of Chicago's low income housing projects. My grandmother transitioned back in 2010, and in 2012 I started Teena's Legacy. 

My grandmother was a self taught seamstress/interior designer. She taught me how to sew and re-upholster furniture when I was younger. After having my daughter in 2011, I chose not to go back to a 9 to 5 job. I have a Bachelors and Masters, just to come full circle and do something I'm naturally good at

I started the Indiegogo campaign to fund my summer program teaching young women the trade of re-upholstering furniture, as a tool to find out Who They Are As Individuals. I use this trade as a metaphor: How do we replace the old with the new? How do we mend the broken pieces inside? etc.

The project serves young women living in Chicago's and Gary's inner city, who have disadvantages in education and job placement."

Please, join me in supporting Jamika and Teena's Legacy! This campaign is not just about raising money. I encourage you to offer up prayers, look to donate things to be reupholstered, and or spread the news. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Date Night: Sky Zone

Recently, I had this huge desire to go on dates. But, I'm so over the whole dinner and a movie thing... although that is a timeless way to spend a Friday or Saturday night, that can get old quickly. So, Josh and I have been exploring our dating horizon. We have done so many just really unique and cool things. We have gone tubing and gone on trips. One of my favorite date night places we have been to recently is Sky Zone! 
Sky Zone is basically a warehouse full of trampolines! What's not to love? Sky Zone was a great date spot because we got to be active, laugh, and just really enjoy each other. I can't remember the last time I bounced on a trampoline and now I understand why it is an incredible workout. When we first got there we saw they had gym memberships. And I remember thinking, I don't know if I would pay that much money just to jump on a trampoline... well we both now know why! Jumping on a trampoline is an incredible workout. We could barely walk the next day!!
Getting out and doing things you wouldn't normally do is a great way to build a relationship. We both laughed so much and really just enjoyed the time we spent at Sky Zone. I love movie and dinner nights, but being active and silly with my best friend in an warehouse completely made from trampolines cannot be bit. Oh and I forgot to mention that they also had a foam pit that you could jump into. Seriously, isn't that the coolest place ever!!
I also wish that they had these places when I was growing up. I really think that a birthday party at one of the Sky Zones would have been a blast! Sky Zone also had good pizza. I know that sounds really strange to add in here at the end of this post, but we got drinks and pizza vouchers with our 2 hour pass and I was pleasantly surprised by the pizza. I remember telling Josh that he could just have my second slice voucher, but after trying it I knew I didn't want to give up my last slice of heaven.
So, the moral of this post is that date nights should be a blast and I think couples should shake things up and try something knew. I'm not going to lie, Sky Zone can be a little pricey, but I would so recommend it if there is one near you. They played excellent music, you can bounce next to your best friend, and eat all of the pizza!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Recap 2/16/15

Happy Belated Valentine's Day friends! I hope you all had wonderful weekends, full of sweet goodies and great company. My Valentine's Day weekend was a blast. Josh and I relaxed all weekend, and we were really productive when it came to homework and planning stuff for this upcoming week. 

Friday night: 
Josh and I had dinner before he had to go to work. While he was at work, I went to a chocolate covered strawberry program. I love decorating strawberries and it was fun decorating them for Valentine's Day. I ended up getting on a decorating kick, and before I knew it I had 20 chocolate covered strawberries and I sure as heck could not eat them all by myself. I figured I would spread some love, so I delivered the strawberries to my friends and RA/DAs. 
I am a huge activist for random acts of kindness. I find so much joy in bringing kindness and smiles to others, so I think this was probably one of the best moments of the weekend. I also really enjoyed Josh swinging by after work with a cute bouquet of roses and music, so we could dance and laugh. I saved him some strawberries too, that way he wouldn't feel left out.

I went to Josh's and attempted to make us heart shaped pancakes. All of their cookie cutters are currently in storage in the attic, so I had to improvise a little! However, most of the pancakes did resemble hearts.

After we finished brunch, we just hung out! We did the dishes and just sang love songs as we waited to leave for the Mount basketball game and then church.

We had a blast at the Mount Men's Basketball game. Those games always mean something special to us because our first date was at one of those games last year. We even splurged and bought popcorn and drinks so we could really make a fun date out of it. Our boys won the game against Bryant and the game finished 20 minutes earlier then what we expected... So, for the first time in like 5 weeks, we made it to church early.

I'm really excited that Ash Wednesday is coming up, and the Lent Devotionals are out. For Advent we did the Advent daily devotional, which we really enjoyed. It is wonderful to pray together and talk about what we are thankful for each day.

When we got out of church we were greeted by a few friendly snowflakes, which then turned into a quick baby blizzard. We could barely see 10 feet in front of us while we were driving home. It has been so chilly up here and although we're thankful for the beautiful snow and the opportunity to get all cozied up, we both are ready for spring to come.

For dinner on Saturday, we did our usual pizza yumminess. We were out of pepperonis, which made me so sad. I had this big idea of cutting them into hearts, so I was really sad that I didn't have any pinterest-worthy pictures to share with you all. After dinner, we watched The Vow and then Marley and Me! Marley and Me definitely resonated with Josh because their family dog is getting so old, but we decided that from now on we're going to try to be more patient with Mandy (even when she cries about nothing).

In the morning, I made a few batches of crepes for a Valentine's Day hall program another RA and I are doing tomorrow night. Then, I cleaned the kitchen and got all settled in for a nice evening of homework and reading. Josh had baseball practice in the afternoon, so I got to do my own thing around the house.

Well, Sunday turned into an interesting night. About 5 minutes before Josh got home, one of the upstairs pipes sprung a leak! I was in the living room reading for one of my classes and then all of a sudden I heard a gush of water. My first instinct was the roast that I had in the oven was boiling over... but, then as I approached the perfectly fine roast I realized the water was coming from the foyer. Thankfully, Josh's dad and I sprung into action. While he went to turn the water off, I grabbed a bucket. So, all evening we have been without water... probably until tomorrow! However, we made do! I ended up finishing the roast and dinner, while the boys handled the leak. And then, I made an apple crisp and we all watched SNL's 40th Anniversary and did homework. It was quite the night, but definitely a relaxing way to end break.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I have never really celebrated Valentine's Day before. In previous relationships, it just never seemed like the right timing or the guy I was seeing didn't express any interest in it. I think the best Valentine's Day I ever had was my sophomore year of High School when my dad went out and bought lobster and made my mom, sister, and I this really yummy dinner. However, this year I am determined to celebrate the "Hallmark" Holiday. After all, we shouldn't need a holiday to remind us to love others (we should do that every day) but, I'm going to take advantage of this day. A day where Josh and I can just spend some quality time together and do simple acts of love. A day where I can eat as much chocolate as I want and maybe even watch a chick flick!

So, basically I'm really looking forward to this Valentine's Day! I'm not sure what Josh and I will do... we probably won't do anything too elaborate, but still I'm excited to spend the day with someone I love and who I can have fun with. Recently we have been on the go and have been going out to eat a lot so, the most ideal situation for us would be to go to church and then just stay in and watch a movie--- but, who knows what we'll end up doing. Even when we try to plan to do nothing, something always comes up and we end up doing something fun. But, I think we're really due for a movie night, with popcorn and m&ms.

How are you spending Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Boy Behind the Blog #1

I'm finally writing a "Boy Behind the Blog" post. I get a lot of comments and emails about Josh and how we are doing, so I finally found time to write a post dedicated to this guy. He is also Radiating Sunshine's editor when he has time! Very grateful this cutie and all of the fun things we have been able to do. 

So, Josh tell us a little bit about yourself!
I'm just your average junior in college loving life! I stay very involved on campus with jobs in the career center and the library. I also work in the school's writing center, which make me qualified to edit this blog! I am a huge sports junkie and forever a fan of the Steelers and Pirates. I play on the Club Baseball team at our school, and this year I am serving as the team's president/manager, which is a really challenging, yet rewarding, position. I also play intramural flag football, basketball, and softball. Faith is very important in my life. I always try to fully rely on God when tough times come about in my life. My favorite bible verse is Psalm 23, "The Lord is My Shepherd." I hope to travel the world one day and see all of the wonderful things it has to offer.

What are your favorite topics that Alex writes about?
I always enjoy reading Alex's weekend recaps because they usually remind me of the great weekend I just spent with Alex! She also writes very insightful posts about the college experience. She has really opened my eyes to how you can make the most of your time as a college student. An article titled "Advice for Incoming Freshmen" is one of my favorites. I also like some of Alex's most famous punch lines like "loving life."

What is the best part of editing blog posts?
Editing blog posts requires me to adapt to someone's style of writing. Trust me, it took me awhile to get use to how much Alex used words like "y'all." But then I realized that those are the things that make Alex's blog so unique. Every time I read her blog, I can hear her voice in the way that it is written. This is also the most challenging part of editing a blog. I want to change it so that it grammatically makes sense, but at the same time I want to keep the author's voice in tact. Being able to find that happy medium is definitely the best part of editing Radiating Sunshine.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

May Designs Planner Review

So, last week May Designs was doing a huge clearance sale on 2015 planners. They actually still have some available, so you should check them out. Anyways, I have been eyeing these guys for quite some time. I love planners and like a lot of bloggers I have a specific type of planner that I want. Well, after a lot of research and playing around with May Design's customer planner options I found one that I liked. This was the first time I didn't buy a school planner (which, feels kind of weird) but, I really like the newest addition to my organizing arsenal.

I haven't had time to transfer my academic calendar to my newest May Design 2015 Calendar but, I cannot wait to sit down with it tomorrow and fill it all in. The only thing I wish it had was a nicer spine, but I think it will be a great first start of using a professionally made planner with a cute design.

Have you ever purchased any May Design planners/note pads?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend Recap 2/9/15

Happy Monday, friends!! It's currently raining and a little overcast but, I have a great feeling about today. This past weekend was an absolute blast. I'm even more excited for this weekend because instead of having a jam packed weekend, I really have made no plans and I intend for it to stay like that. I'm due for just a realizing weekend which, hopefully includes lots of relaxing. 

I went to lunch with two of my RA friends, Matt and Noelle. We went to Holy Grounds, which is this little Catholic coffee shop near our school. It has delicious paninis, breakfast foods, pastries, coffee, and italian sodas! I only go there every once in awhile, but I think I'm going start going there more regularly for lunch and quiet blog time. 

On Friday evening, Josh and I ordered a pizza to celebrate being done with this week and his first RA Mentorship Class. It was nice just sitting in my room and eating some comfort food after a really busy week. Later that night, I had my last weekend rounds ever!! It kind of feels bittersweet but, I'm glad I scheduled myself for the first few weekends back from Winter Break so, that I could get my weekend duty out of the way. It was a great last rounds. I had a spontaneous movie night with one of my residents and I got done so much work! It was probably one of my most productive nights on rounds. 

After a sleepy start because I was on rounds the night before... I woke up to a knock on my door from my favorite guy! We then drove to Frederick and picked up Dunkin Donuts on the way. I chose the donuts and clearly I'm a little biased towards strawberry... but, it is seriously one of their best frosting flavors and I am not ashamed. Also, the little heart guy is filled with cream, which was a pleasant surprise.
After arriving in Frederick, I dropped Josh off at his work and then continued the trip home. It was nice that I had to run home for a couple of things. I also squeezed in some bubble bath and Parks and Recreation time. After relaxing and getting some chores done at home, I drove back to Frederick picked Josh up and we went to Bonefish for lunch.
 We had a really late lunch because our date night plans were not going to allow us to eat dinner, so we filled up on bang bang shrimp and yummy sandwiches. After lunch all I wanted to do was nap, but 4:30pm came before we knew it and we rushed off to church. It's going to be a miracle if we ever make it to church on time.
I told him he wasn't in the picture.... haha but, he is so cute!!
 After church, we walked back to my room to get ready for our date night and there was the prettiest sunset. I mean really just without a doubt one of the most beautiful sunsets of the year. Of course, I joined hundreds of other instagramers and documented the prettiest sunset yet!

So, the reason why we couldn't eat dinner before our date was because our date was at SKY ZONE! Sky Zone is a giant trampoline park and it is probably the biggest workout that I have had in awhile. I'm still sore and it's Monday! Not only are my legs sore, but my arms are really sore which, is kind of surprising since you primarily use the muscles in your legs to jump.

Anyways, on Sunday Josh and I went to his sister's Talent Show and I had rounds again but, it was just a really nice Sunday. As I said earlier, I'm really excited to do a whole lot of nothing this weekend and I can't wait to see what this upcoming week holds!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

This "Dominican" Vacation: Planning Spring Break

TBT to when I went to the Dominican Republic with my family almost 8 years ago!

A few weeks back, my friend Alex and I were discussing what we wanted to do for Spring Break and after a lot of research (Alex is a champ) we found a deal via Living Social to spend our Spring Break in Dominican Republic. After a lot of consulting with friends and family we excitedly booked our Dominican Vacation and we couldn't be more excited. 

How to Plan Spring Break Trips:

Find people you like and who you would want to travel with! Nothing can ruin a trip more than (a) going with someone who annoys you and (b) someone who is not a good traveler. What are some characteristics of the "good traveler"-- organized, flexible, someone who can read a map/instructions, not too high strung... (did I miss any?)

Pick a place, choose your dates, and look for deals! There are a ton of online deals ranging from GroupOn, Living Social, Apple Vacations, Caribbean Vacations, etc! Doing research on your ideal location, deciding how much you want to spend, and how long you can go is a great way to start. For us, we knew we wanted somewhere warm (remember, if you're going out of the US you'll need a passport). We also knew what are available dates were and our price range $600-850. 

Book early! I kid you not, the day we booked our flights was also the day our flight price got raised by $40! Also, apparently Tuesdays are cheap days to book flights? That is what I have heard but, I haven't had any experience with that. So, yeah book early before those flight prices start to go up. Also, make sure you check all different airlines and availability. Flying out on a Monday instead of a Sunday can drastically change the price of your flight. 

Print everything! Maybe I learned this from my mom or maybe I'm just a compulsive planner, but have copies of everything. I printed out all of my confirmation emails and I have made copies of important documents like passports and credit cards. Make sure you keep your copies separate from the originals that way if you do lose the original, you also won't lose the copy!

Check the weather! Before you go on your trip make sure you know what to "expect" with the weather. Obviously, the weather changes all the time but planning for any type of weather will save you money and will make your vacation so much nicer. 

Plan to pack! I know that may sound ridiculous to plan to pack, but making a plan in order to pack is really helpful. Find out what stuff you have and what stuff you need. You don't want to be running around the night before trying to get everything. Remember to pack medications too! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Just Juicin'

So, last week when I was home my dad christened me into the juicin' clan! My mom and him have been on this juicing kick. They bought themselves this fancy juicer and now they juice everything... kale, spinach, flax seeds, apples, carrots, bananas, you name it they juice it. 

Now, I was a little skeptical when my dad pulled out this kale-spinach-ginger juice but, it was actually pretty good. He then taught me how to operate the juicer and I made my own little creation. 

He has been doing a lot of research on vegetables/fruit and how healthy they are for various reasons. So, I chose apples, carrots, strawberries, and blueberries. 

So, how does it work? 

We prepared the fruit (de-core the apples & de-stem the strawberries). Then we washed them because washing fruit and vegetables is always a good idea. In college, I have met a lot of people who don't do that and I always respond with a mouth and eyes wide open in disgusted-amazement kind of way. Anyways, if that is their prerogative then I won't get on any soapbox.

After the fruit/vegetables are ready to go, you then begin juicing. With my parent's juicer, we just dropped the fruit/vegetables into the mouth of the juicer and then pushed the fruit down. On one side the excess of the food went out and on the other side the juice poured into the container.

I know it looks a little gross but, I promise it was delicious. Plus, it is such a yummy way to get your daily servings of fruit and vegetables. I hope I get a juicer when I'm older because there would be nothing better than some fresh strawberry lemonade during the summer and cool refreshing veggie juices after my early morning workouts (that I rarely do-- but, hey one can dream).
Also, please excuse the whole messy hair, wrinkled t-shirt, and make-up less face. I wasn't expecting anything blog worthy to happen and here I am keeping it real. What is not pictured in this post: my dad and I hard core dancing to some Coldplay while juicin'. Stay young and healthy friends!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Recap 2/2/15

I'm starting to realize that every weekend I spend with Josh, family, or friends is a fabulous weekend! This weekend was definitely a cold one. As I write this post, it is 28 degrees outside and snowing, but I'm snuggled on the couch with Mandy (Josh's dog) to my left and Josh's warm body to my right. Anyways, here is how we spent this past weekend. 

On Thursday, we were hoping to go ice-skating but due to inclement weather ice skating was canceled! We were both really sad, but then we remembered that we were going tubing on Friday night so, that made up for it. 

After a nice day of classes and work, Josh and I had dinner and then went tubing. It was a great time! We live only a few minutes from a ski resort and I still can't believe it took us this long to go tubing. We couldn't have asked for a colder night--- seriously! I think there was a 0 degree wind chill. Not to mention they were blowing snow right on the tubing hill. 

We were little ice cubes by the time we finished but, it was nothing some hot chocolate and some positive thoughts couldn't fix. Josh instantly improved my mood even when I'm complaining that I can't feel my toes (which, I couldn't). Also, don't take your socks off immediately when you come inside unless you want your feet to sting extremely badly.
After a lazy morning in bed and reading a lovely letter from Josh, I finally got up and began my weekly clean. This week I vacuumed everything, mopped the floors, did two loads of laundry, changed the sheets on my bed, cleaned my dressers, and dusted.  I was due for a good cleaning day.

After I spent the morning/afternoon cleaning away... I met up with Josh's cousin Adam and his girlfriend. Josh was at baseball practice so, we just passed the time in my residence hall room. After Josh was done practice, we headed to church, and then went to a local restaurant called Otts for dinner.

Later that night, Josh dropped me off and I had rounds. I really struggled staying awake, but thankfully I had a great rounds partner and we had a blast.

Was another cozy day that was full of good company, yummy food, and time spent on the couch. When I was planning my outfit for the day, I knew that a few things definitely need to happen: a chunky and warm sweater, leggings, and cozy socks.

I watched the Superbowl at Josh's house and I cooked all of the food which was really fun. Josh was my little chef and helped me cut the chicken for the chicken and corn enchiladas but, I really just experimented in the kitchen. I made homemade queso, pigs in a blanket, and enchiladas. I'm proud to say that there were no leftovers. The food was delicious and we ended the night with sopapilla, an italian crescent roll dessert.

Before I began my cooking escapade, Josh and I went on a walk and we remembered where we were last year at this time. On February 1st, he picked me up to go to one of our school's home basketball games. We went as friends, but little did I know that we would talk the entire time and he would soon as me out on a date.

It is still amazing to think that we've been great friends for a year. I had no idea what to expect when he drove up to my building to pick me up. I remember I was strangely nervous to go with him. I didn't know what to expect and I didn't know what we would talk about. But, some things just clicked and here we are a year later and I couldn't be any happier.
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