Radiating Sunshine: 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Life, Life, Life

Happy December! In the Student Affairs (& Housing and Res Life) world, December means a few things. (1) Finals are coming (2) Lots of paperwork and (3) they (as in the students) will leave soon! I love my students to pieces, but I'm really looking forward to this almost month break. Working as an RD, field hours, and grad school has really smacked me in the face this semester. But, boy have I learned a lot. Anyways, as I plan my journey back to blogging for the month of December I thought I would write a quick little post to keep y'all updated on the happenings in my life. 

Now one of my struggles this past semester has been taking decent pictures. Now that isn't the worst struggle to have and I have definitely taken many memory photographs, but it doesn't leave me with much to share with y'all. So, I'm sorry about the pixely nightmare that you see before you!

big photo on the left... J and I have been able to spend some really nice and quiet weekends together. With both of us having really busy semesters (him in admissions and me in res. life at different institutions) it is nice when we can get together on the weekends even if its only for a day.

This picture was taken as we were exploring a local city trying to find a church to go to! We ended up not finding a church, but opted for an adorable selfie instead. This guy has been my rock through this semester and I couldn't do all of this without his love and support.

medium photo on the top right... my RAs are incredible. We are losing a staff member due to December graduation and although I'm excited to welcome a new staff member to the team, I literally cannot picture having a better staff!

This picture was taken at our last program as a staff on Sunday, titled McHolidays where we talked about inclusive programs and ate LOTS of sweets. These fine friends make me smile so much and are often featured in my grateful journal!

medium photo in the middle on the right... my life has centered around admin work lately! And I secretly love it. I really enjoy working on different projects as I get ready for all of the room changes and closing.

This picture is of one section of my RA Office. You'll see the 'mom fridge' on the left, my check out table in the middle, and a bright yellow bulletin board for office updates.

medium photo on the bottom right... family! Come December 19th I will literally be the happiest human being! I'm really excited to go home to my parents' house and spend a few weeks with them during winter holiday! I miss my family so much.

This current picture is my mom and I holding my cousin's identical twins! Holy heck they are cute little chunks! Also, ignore my wine blush...

That's all for now, folks! Enjoy your Wednesday :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Res Lifer for Life

Are you interested in what life is like as a Student Affairs professional in Higher Ed? Are you curious what I do all day? Well today we are diving into what my career looks like!

I work as a Residence Director for a state university in the North East! 

Why did I choose this profession? Well, like most SA Pros, I chose this career so that I could have an impact on college students' development. College is such a unique privilege and unfortunately a lot of students aren't prepared to be here. My whole purpose and passion for working in Student Affairs is to help students be successful. 

What do I love the most about my job? By far learning moments with students. Last week, I had a student who was having some difficulties with one of their friends. This student has never confronted their friend in person, instead chose to text any feedback or disagreements between them. It ended up putting a huge wedge in their friendship (until I got there). I pulled the two parties together and got them to talk about their differences and give feedback to each other. I was over the moon with their progress and their friendship has been salvaged! 

What is the most difficult part of my job? Not laughing at inappropriate times. I kid ya not y'all sometimes when students do the most ridiculous things I struggle keeping it together. That might not be the most difficult part, but that was at least the first thing that popped into my mind. 

What would I change about the field? I wish that faculty and staff collaborated together on more things. I'm not sure if this is how it is at every institution, but sometimes there just seems to be this giant chasm that I wish wasn't there. 

Is it weird living on a college campus? Well, I'm going on my sixth year of being on a college campus and to be completely honest I'm kind of used to it! I love having access to so many awesome things (like rec fields, volleyball courts, different food options, etc.) I feel safe on a college campus and I love the hustle and bustle of students. 

If I had to change one thing about living on campus... it would be my wonderful residents who live above me and stomp around their rooms all night. I really want to tell them to be a little bit more considerate (it sounds like a heard of elephants), but usually when I'm the most annoyed by their stomping it is at 3AM and I don't feel like getting properly dressed to go up stairs to talk to them. 

How do you explain what your job is like? Well, I am not a forever college student that's for sure. That is probably one of the most frustrating things when it comes to explaining what I do to non-SA folks. Usually the way it works for them is "oh so you live at college and deal with all the trouble makers." SURE, absolutely! Trust me, if that was all my job was about I definitely would not have chosen this profession. 

What is it like to supervise emerging adults? I love supervising my Resident Assistants, Desk Assistants, Hall Council (student leaders), etc! It can be hard to keep a group of students on task, but watching them grow and work together brings me so much happy bliss. I love investing in their growth and making their experience worthwhile. 

What does a typical day as an RD look like? Well, as a grad RD (aka grad student + RD staff member) I get a lot of freedom in setting my own hours. So, I usually start work around 9AM and then work until 7-9PM. You have to take into consideration that I also have graduate school and homework to do, so I don't work 10 straight hours a day, which is nice. 

Things that I typically do: have one on one's with my RAs (hour long meetings to check in on them),  follow up about work orders, meet with students about concerns, manage desk assistants, work on programs and community development, host my own programs, bake things for my students, reply to parental issues, work on student development, respond to duty calls, help students manage crisis situations, etc. 

What would I write out of my job description? Honestly, I love my job... but, I wish I had more work life balance. When I have a free night, I honestly don't even know what to do. Having a live on position means work is always here or I'm always at work. So, I would love to have more work life balance. 

I love the career path I have chosen. It can be difficult and exhausting (I was up until 4AM on call last night), but it is so very rewarding and I have the opportunity to make a college student's experience a great and memorable one.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween Lovelies

Happy Halloween Lovelies! I hope today is wonderful and you get plenty of yummy treats (and not many tricks). I'm a terrible halloween celebrator. I really struggle with being creative with costumes and what ends up happening is I go as a "grad student" and I call it a day. Maybe one day I'll be more invested in Halloween, but for now I'm just gonna enjoy quiet Hallo-weekends with Josh! 

This past hallo-weekend we spent checking off all of our fall bucket list items (especially since Christmas is practice here -- JK). We went to a corn maze/pumpkin patch in PA. The corn maze was amazing and took us about an hour a a half to complete. While walking through the corn maze we had to find different words and pictures that completed the story. 
After the corn maze, J and I enjoyed pumpkin bowling and found our real competitive natures with pumpkin checkers. I kid you not people were commenting as they walked by about how deep in thought we were over this game of checkers! I think we have officially determined that J is competitive with sports and I am competitive with board games. 
After we finished at the corn maze, we drove home and went to the Homecoming football game. Ship lost in double overtime, which was really sad. However, it was a great afternoon! Once we got home from the game, we ate some kettle corn and I took a little nap. Not sure why football puts me into a sleep trance, but it does!

After my nap and an episode of the Flash, J and I drove down to MD for a date night out! We went to Primate Bros (which originated in Pittsburgh, PA). I got the pittsburger and it was delicious (and half the size of my face). On our way home from dinner, we sang to a bunch of music and drove with the windows down. It was an unseasonably warm weekend here and it was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Late on Saturday night, J and I picked up a pumpkin from Walmart-- no cute pumpkin picking pictures here! We usually carve one a year (I traditionally don't do any of the carving). On Sunday, after church, brunch, and a near grease fire (tried making apple fritters-- didn't work out), we made an apple cake (post apple fritters) and I got to enjoy watching Josh carve a wonderful pumpkin.
I'm glad he decided to go for a more traditional approach and I can't wait to light this guy up tomorrow to celebrate Halloween.

Anyways, happy halloween friends!!

love you all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

TBT: Calligraphy & Weddings

Last month, one of my lifelong friends got married at Camden Yards (where the Orioles play) and my number one bridesmaid duty was the signs! When we got down to Baltimore the day before the wedding, we all got assignments on what we could do to prep. My assignment was to write on all of the signs. 

I absolutely love fonts and I'm very privileged to have the ability to create different fonts for different occasions. I loved contributing one of my skills to the wedding! I still have so much to learn in the grand scheme of calligraphy and signage, but today I wanted to feature some of the highlights of the wedding and the wedding signage!
 I made a number of signs for their wedding which include: the ceremony introduction, their hashtag, the caricatures, bathroom signs, bar signs, signature drink signs, favor signs, etc.
Seeing as Amanda and DJ got married at a baseball park, caricatures were a definite must! They had a caricature artist come to the reception and it was such an adorable station. Naturally, J and I completely forgot to get one done (too busy dancing), but everyone who did had a beautiful souvenir from the wedding. 
 This might have been my favorite sign from the wedding: the signature drink sign! With an Orioles/ Baltimore themed wedding orange crushes were a definite and easy choice for their signature drink. I kid you not crab cakes and orange crushes make this bridesmaid (and all of the other guests) happy.
Their wedding favors were by far the cutest things I have ever seen! During a wedding prep weekend, all the bridesmaids put stickers on top of cracker jack boxes (that looked like the cracker jack labels, however they had Amanda and DJ's information on them). We then stuffed the boxes into blue orioles beer koozies. The favor was so perfect, I still haven't been able to eat mine!
It was the perfect Baltimore and Orioles wedding. Actually, it was the perfect weekend in general. Looking back on this semester so far, I would definitely re-live this one!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Strawberry.Lemon.Infused.Water

Over the Summer, I sort of became obsessed with infused water! I was home visiting my mom (who is a genius when it comes to using mason jars) and she had a jar of lemon and strawberry infused water just waiting for someone to enjoy in the fridge. I'll never forget cracking the seal and smelling the water. It smelled so so good and I feel like that was the moment I fell in love with infused water. 

For the remainder of the summer, my fridge became home to a ton of different "experiments." I tried a ton of different flavors: lemon/mint, cucumber/lemon, strawberry/melon! I think my favorite infused water definitely is the strawberry lemon (with a mint leaf or two). 

There are a ton of benefits to drinking infused water: 

(1) It brightens your life! Goodbye every day water, and hello to a party water!
(2) Some folks say it helps you lose weight... I think it helps curb your appetite because it feels like your "eating" and or "putting something nutritious in your body. Check out this blog post that says Infused Water is the Ultimate Weight Loss Secret!
(3) There are web pages completed dedicated to the art of infused water, like this one! So, if you're looking for an online community of infused water drinkers there is one!

So, basically getting on the infused water band wagon is the thing to do! I love using my mason jars to make the infused water and keep them fresh. They typically last 4-5 days so you can stalk up and treat yourself every day!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Intro: 20 Things That I Love

 I realize that there are a quite a number of new peeps hanging around Radiating Sunshine recently (according to my stats anyway). So, I thought I would introduce myself to anyone who is new around here with a twenty things I love post! Please, note that they are not listed in any order of importance. Chocolate milk is listed as number one, however I wouldn't say it is number one in my heart at all times (mostly after the gym and or late night duty calls), but it its still on the top list of things that I love.
1. chocolate milk
2. Elin Hilderbrand books
3. Jesus
4. soft blankets
5. candles. lots of candles. 
6. babies and family
7. my llbean slippers
8. sleeping in on the weekends
9. mint soda water
10. crafts (i.e. painting)
11. the staffs I supervise
12. spending time with my favorite J
13. cheese and wine (red please)
14. binge watching netflix
15. baking donuts
16. when the sun lights up my entire apartment
17. holiday traditions
18. a good card game
19. a good cup of coffee/tea
20. anything navy blue
I'm big into journaling things that I'm grateful for and can't wait to share with you all my happiness journal in a few weeks, so I challenge you all to write posts about the things you love!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TBT: Tents, Trails, and J

To start the throwback posts, J and I went camping a few weeks back! If you hang around at @alexmhons on Insta then you would have seen pictures from our crazy adventure! We decided to go hike a chunk of the Appalachian Trail and go through coupes boot-camp (aka turn off all social media and just spend time in the wild with your boo). 
 Well good news is we both passed the couples boot camp weekend with excellent marks. The only point of contention on the trip was arriving to our site in complete darkness. We then pitched a tent that neither of us has a lot of experience pitching and were surrounded by a local college's fraternity rush weekend.

The fraternity was only there for Friday night and literally left at 6AM on Saturday morning. Waking up to pots being banged as they roused the frat boys definitely was not a highlight of the trip, but made us laugh for sure!
While on our couple's boot camp, we challenged ourselves to cook without propane. We lit and maintained the fire and made all of our meals over that. It was nice getting back to some primal cooking skills and to test our cooking abilities in the wild.
 After a slow start to Saturday morning, we finally got a move on and started adventuring. We hiked a trail called Charcoal's Hearth and stumbled upon so many beautiful sites. We also posed with the above creek and the self-timer app on my phone for about 20 minutes until we got a picture I was satisfied with!
The highlight of the weekend trip was teaching Josh out to play cribbage and eating mountain pies (in Alex language: moon pies). We played so many board games and just enjoyed being together that I think every couple should go on a camping trip by themselves at least once in their dating years.

We also enjoyed this little quiz that I think you will enjoy with your significant others! J came up with the game and I was super excited to play!


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hello Sunshine

Hey beauties...

It's been about two months since we last talked and I've thought about you all the time. When you prioritize your life, things always get put on the back burner and unfortunately that's what happened to this baby blog of mine.

To start, this is my second year of graduate school and it has not been as time forgiving as the first. My program requires me to do over 300 internship credit hours a semester during your field year. And adding an additional 20 hours a week to a 40+ work week and trying to find time to do homework, go to the gym, sleep, and have a personal life... you get the point!

I won't spend time painting you the picture of my chaotic and lovely life, but over the last two months I feel like I've kind of balanced it all out and can go back to this whole blogging thing. Over the next few weeks, I'll be throwing it back to everything I've missed sharing and hopefully I'll be able to catch y'all up on the current happenings behind radiating sunshine.

I'm grateful for you all and I hope your Saturday is as gorgeous as mine :)

xoxo.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Kissing Summer Goodbye

I cannot believe that Summer is over! I know for most individuals, summer ends after Labor Day. But, when you work in Housing and Residence Life at a university (and or in Admissions like Josh) Summer ends with Opening Season. The last few weeks of August are marked by opening prep. I remember as a kid when summer ends there is a period of mourning. Well, when you work at a university there is absolutely no time to mourn. During RA Training I usually work 15 hour days every day of the week (weekends too). You're running around prepping and getting things done to re-open for the year. 
Summer is a refreshing time to rejuvenate before the craziness of the semester begins! It is kind of bittersweet when summer ends, but boy oh boy am I excited for this year to begin! Josh and I will continue to work at different universities. It is weird now that we are both officially in Student Affairs (I work in Res Life and he works in Admissions) but, I am enjoying it so so much! Its nice to talk to someone at the end of the day who gets it (or at least parts of the Res Life craziness).

I'm really looking forward to Fall. We're already making plans on how to spend the weekends when he isn't traveling for Admissions and I'm not on duty. We have another wedding to go to and will hopefully continue our holiday traditions.
Although my summer is basically over! I hope you all enjoy your last few days of summer sunshine!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How To Throw a Bachelorette Party

Today, I'll be sharing on this little blog of mine some tips and tricks to hosting a bachelorette weekend...Now for a quick disclaimer: I am not the Made of Honor, one of our friends Rosie is and she has done an absolutely stunning job! So, this post is partly written with all of her ideas that came to fruition and allowed for us to celebrate the bride in the best possible way!

Set Your Budget: Setting a budget is essential for any wedding planning! We had a set amount of money that we could use and this took some pressure off the bridal party. We also made sure that the bride did not have to pay for a thing while we were there. 

Pick Your Location: Consult with the bride and choose a location that works for her! Our bride, Amanda is a beach gal and had connections to a condo in Ocean City, MD! So, it made for an easy choice. Not to mention, having beer and pizza while sitting on the beach is definitely the best way to fortify friendships. 
Decorations: After the location has been decided, you have to start thinking about decorations! Rosie made the cutest baseball score board for the condo. The wedding theme is baseball (specifically Orioles) so it went wonderfully with the theme and it created a wonderful back drop for our photo shoots.

Also, bring a selfie stick because you'll need someone to take those excellent before pics!
Activities: We planned a lot of indoor and outdoor activities for the weekend. Some of them included buoy bat on the beach. Other included checking the bride's memory, having her guess what shot represents each of us, and kissing the miss goodbye!
One of the bridesmaid's so kindly made a "last fling before the ring" scavenger hunt for one of our nights out! I'm proud to say Amanda accomplished all of these (however, I cannot confirm or deny whether she pinched someone's butt or not). Anyways, this scavenger hunt was perfect and it got the other bar/club dwellers excited about all of the fun!
Food: Planning meals out ahead of time is really important! Each bachelorette goer was in charge of bringing their favorite snack and drink! Skinny Pop and onion dip were definitely major hits. But, so was McDonalds at 3AM!
Matching Clothes: Having a uniform for the weekend was super nice (and easy)! We ordered tank tops from Etsy and you'll be surprised how flexible those designers can be! The bride is really focused on making sure we all have a choice, so before the weekend the MOH had us all take a poll and we went from there!
Overall, it was probably one of the best weekends of my summer! I didn't have a true vacation this year (or last year) so getting away for a weekend throughout the summer months is really important. I loved meeting all of Amanda (the bride)'s college friends and we definitely made memories that will last life time. 

For a preview of bach weekend, Sydney one of the bridemaids put together this awesome video from her GoPro! Feel free to check it out, here :) 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summa Summa

Hello... I wish I could say I regret not writing in my little corner of the internet lately (30 days to be exact), but I really don't! Life has been so busy and wonderful that sometimes it is okay to unplug and just live it up. I promise I have a lot of posts drafted that will update you all on the Miss behind Radiating Sunshine. 

But, if my posts are sporadic, you can always find me on insta (alexmhons)! I usually put up pics on there fairly frequently (its way easier than pulling out my computer, uploading pics, and writing up a post). However, here are some excuses for my absence!

summer... the Summer months are critical. From May--mid-August there aren't many students on campus and at work we have countless training sessions, prep work for the RAs to return, and building preparation. My summer has been spent finish my Practicum (New Student Orientation) and getting ready for my wonderful staff of RAs and DAs to return! Oh I also can't forget summer classes (Prac and Group Counseling) I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get another pretty pair of As to add to my grad school collection. 

josh... crazy how much time boyfriends take up, but I wouldn't trade a single minute for the world! Josh and I have gotten to spend a lot of time together! We have gone out on dinner dates, went shopping for professional clothes, watched movies, went on walks, had church dates, etc! Josh has been really busy working on his Summer baseball league too. 
books... check yes to reading for fun! I have read two books this summer (The Husband's Secret and Sharp Objects). I'm almost done Sharp Objects, so don't ruin it for me O.o I don't get a lot of time to read (usually between 10:30PM-11:30PM every night, but when I do its glorious! I also thoroughly enjoy a good book and some sun rays!

friends... Over the past month I have gotten to see so many friends! I hosted the annual 4th of July Party (on the 15th of July, but who cares) with all of my college friends. I went to a mini High School reunion (its hard to believe I graduated HS 5 years ago). I also celebrated a lifelong friend, Amanda at her bachelorette weekend! I visited my closest Res. Life friend at her new university. And I am just so overwhelmed and blessed by all of the good people in my life!
hershey park... I've also been to Hershey Park, in Hershey PA twice this summer! This is definitely record breaking. I went once with my co-workers and once with Josh! Both times were so much fun and I seriously wish I had season passes so I could go every weekend. The walking alone would do wonders for my body (which will be going on a serious diet at the end of RA Training).
delicious food... and speaking of diets, I have probably been the furthest from one. I don't know why but the Summer months are always so difficult! Probably because I'm constantly going to pool parties with yummy cookout food! My favorite meal this summer has definitely been shrimp salad (not pictured here). I usually go through phases of food that I'm obsessed with and shrimp salad during this hot summer is not a bad one!
Anyways, this weekend my RAs return and life will continue to be busy! Just a warning that this little blog might not make it throughout the semester, but I'm going to give it a try. Grad School + Work + Fields + Personal Life = one exhausted Alex!

Goodnight lovelies :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Radiating Sunshine's Pie Crust

Hi Folks! Today I am writing about the best pie crust I have ever made! Last week when I was planning my fourth of July get together with my co-workers I really wanted to make a blueberry pie for everyone! I've been a huge blueberry pie fan (since I fell in love with blueberries in Maine years ago). So, I picked up my berries and I got ready to bake. Well, long story short this pie crust recipe is a complete original. While, I was googling recipes I noticed I was missing two important things: shortening and a food processor. So, I was already struggling finding a recipe that would work.

Well, I decided to take a chance and see what I could come up with. I pulled out my KitchenAid mixer and decided to use butter and coconut oil to substitute for shortening and began experimenting! As most pie makers know, pie crusts can be really tricky. The same recipe that has been in your family for decades can suddenly turn out poorly! So, thank goodness this pie crust came out wonderfully!





Ingredients: 
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. salt
8 tbsp of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of coconut oil
3 tbsp of vodka, chilled
1/4 cup ice water
Directions: 
(1) In the KitchenAid mixer (with the dough paddle), mix together the dry ingredients until they are well combined.
(2) Cut the slices of butter and begin to scatter it throughout the dry ingredients.
(3) Gently spoon in the coconut oil. Make sure the sides of the bowl are scraped down.
(4) Sprinkle vodka and ice-water into the dough mixture.
(5) Divide the pie dough into two halves and wrap them in plastic wrap.
(6) Gently roll out the pie crust to form a 4-5 inch disk.
(7) Let the dough sit for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
(8) Pull out both dough disks and let them rest on the counter for 5 minutes (or until soft).
(9) Gradually roll out the dough to fit into the pie dish.
(10) Once pie crust is in dish and is ready to be baked rub crust with some egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar.
(11) Bake according to your pie directions!
And there you have it! This pie crust was by far one of my proudest accomplishments and makes for a perfect dessert that everyone will enjoy! Hope this recipe works out for all of you and you enjoy coconut oil as much as I do :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

3rd Apartment Reveal

I've lived in my new apartment for just about two months and it is finally starting to feel like home. I'm really excited to reveal this new space with you all. It is by far the biggest space that has been mine. I'm hoping to go into more detail of the every space at another time. So, today I'm going to give you all a little tour.
Welcome to my 3rd apartment! The door you see above is my front door and leads directly into the living/family room. I chose turquoise for this space! For the most part, when you "live in" (and work in Residence Life) your apartment comes furnished. So, often times I have to spice up the furniture I have been given (which, I view more as a gift then a problem). 
A lot of my decorations and pillows have traveled with me from various spaces and apartments. However, the wooden print that you see above my couch is from Target! I love how the colors go with the turquoise theme, but also have yellow and some warm colors intertwined. 

The kitchen is tucked in the back corner of the apartment. But, I love it! I wish I had more storage, which I think I'll write about in another post. But, it is a beautiful space that is fully equipped with updated appliances, including a dishwasher! This is my first apartment with a dishwasher and I am so beyond grateful!

Off the living room is my master bedroom! The master bedroom colors were inspired by my favorite color, navy blue! When designing this space, I wanted to go with navy blue and potentially a lavender. But, I found this gold bedspread from (wait for it) Target
Online it looks a lot more yellow than gold. But, I'm extremely grateful that it came out the way it did! The navy sheets are also from target and the accent pillow was picked up from Walmart to match
the black out "not so black out" curtains! 


Don't mind me in the mirror!
The bathroom was also designed to match the master! I chose the navy and striped shower curtain and the yellow/gold carpet. Bathmats are so over-rated! If I could do this space all over again,  I would have gotten a bigger carpet to cover up the entire bathroom floor.
Off the kitchen, is a hallway that leads to the guest bedroom, 2nd bathroom, and laundry closet! There is nothing to glamorous about the laundry room and guest bathroom, which most of the time serves as a storage closet (for my bike) and or an extreme clothing rack! 
The guest bedroom (i.e. Josh's territory) is quite quaint. It is still very much a work in progress. This space also serves as my craft room and office. So, yeah basically I need to find either a dresser to store all of this stuff or some way to store it all in an organized manner.
And there you have it! My 3rd apartment is definitely the biggest and the most exciting space! I'm really hoping I'll live here for the next two years, while I finish my graduate degree! But, who knows!
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