Radiating Sunshine: 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Newest Apartment: Post Move

So one of the best (and worst) parts of being a Live On professional is moving. When you work for Housing &/or Residence Life at a university, you will most likely have the opportunity to "live on" so you can respond to duty related incidents in a timely manner and be present to help build community. I am currently going on my seventh year of living on a college campus and I could write an entire post about the highs and lows of this journey! But today I'm sharing with you all my new space!

As a child I used to chronically move my furniture (and it drove my parents NUTS). I think I just liked change and believe it or not I was always wanted to clean and organize things [no joke: used to clean my friends' bedrooms - and would enjoy it]. Now as an adult, moving has sort of become the worst chore on the planet. I think I am realizing that I collect way too much stuff and moving four times in the past three years has definitely shown that. 

Anyways here is my new space! I can't do much in the areas of paint, furniture, and carpeting... but I have been able to add my own personal style and touch to almost every space. Today, I am giving you all a virtual tour of my bedroom, living room, guest room, and bathroom. The kitchen will be discussed in a later post, so stay tuned for that-- I'll worn ya it is nothing glamorous!
Something I want to add to this space: White curtains
The bedroom is the first room I unpack when I move. Partly because moving is exhausting and all I can think about is climbing into my comfy bed, but also because I love getting a space that seems so functional settled. I did not change my color scheme from my last apartment because I LOVE gold and navy blue together.
The bedroom layout itself is a little hard to work with. On my back wall I have three cubes that work as closet spaces and storage. They don't have doors so by repurposing my old blackout curtains, I was able to provide some style and cover up my closet.
I am also using my old food pantry that Josh built me as additional bedroom storage. I really don't know what to do with these shelves -- they were intended for food storage and now I'm kind of using it as a place to hold sweatshirts, workout shirts, and random boxes! I'm hoping to be a little more innovative with this storage space in the future -- and I am totally open to any of your ideas! (also check me out in the mirror).
The living room is the second room I unpack... mostly because Josh helps me move and I have him available to help me set up the technological devices. I had some serious Comcast issues when I moved to this apartment (literally wasted so much time on hold with them). But I am happy to report that I do not repel technology and everything appears to be working.

Not being able to hang a lot of things on the walls is killing me about this new space. I can hang a lot of my artwork with command hooks, but for my bigger pieces I have been struggling. I put a few nails in the bedroom; but I am not sure how the maintenance and damage/billing works in my new space so I'm trying to refrain from putting holes in the wall. 
I genuinely love the living room! The only thing I think I'm craving is a sectional sofa-- which is on the investment list (as soon as I graduate grad school). I think a small sectional would add so much seating to the living room, but I am working with what I have. 

Another thing I absolutely love about my current apartment is all the light. I have big windows in both my bedroom, guest room, and living room (that also has some privacy from a massive tree outside) which has really brightened up the space.
 
The guest room is kind of work in progress! It is currently serving as my space for guests to sleep, a library, garden center, home office and storage room -- I know the space is the real MVP. I opted to keep the residence hall furniture in this room so I could use the bed for storage. I am so happy I did that because I have a lot of random things that need homes, that probably shouldn't be visible to the public!

The bathroom is larger than my kitchen! It is an enormous space that unfortunately I leave relatively undecorated and empty. But if I'm giving y'all a tour of my apartment I should include the good, the bad, and the oversized! One thing I absolutely love about the bathroom is the counterpace. Its a shame that I live by myself because most days I feel like I don't even take advantage of everything this counter has to offer!

The bathroom is only equipped with a shower... so you better believe I miss bubble baths! However, there is no room for that negative complaining here! I am just beyond grateful to be settled and that I have running water. Although the bubble baths would be nice, I'm sure the next apartment/house that I will be looking into will have that amenity.

Anyways that's all for now, folks! Hope you enjoyed the brief little tour. The kitchen is to come in a future post (I promise). Have a happy Monday friends!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Introduction: Whole30

This past Spring, my best friend Lindsey did her first Whole30! I remember when she called me to tell me she was starting and how I was initially very skeptical of what I thought her new "diet" was. I remember thinking that there was NO way I could do it. After all how was I going to drink coffee without the 80% creamer that I put in it. And you mean I can't have cheese? NO WAY. Well, one of the main tenants behind Whole30 is letting the program change your life... and rest assured friends, it does. It definitely does.

So, this past May I decided to give it a try! To anyone who has been considering trying it I would definitely recommend the program IF (1) you like eggs/meat/aren't a vegan (2) you can get creative with meal-prepping (3) you're okay with the occasional struggle when you're out to dinner. If you think you can do all of those then I would highly recommend Whole30.

The basic rules (and you can find all of them here) include: Eating real food. Yep! All real. Things that you'll avoid for 30 days (I know the fun part) are added sugar (real/artificial -- honey included), alcohol, grains, legumes (not the precious peanut butter), dairy, carrageenan/MSG/sulfites, & baked goods/junk foods.

It is recommended that you stay of the scale while doing Whole30; but rather focus on the way you feel and the non-scale victories. (side note: if your whole30 is anything like mine you will lose weight -- you just have to trust the process).

Now doing Whole30 while working on a college campus (and having a meal plan) was a little difficult. My work pays for my meal plan (it is encouraged that I eat with my students, which is wonderful -- but also difficult when you can't eat most of the stuff in the dining hall). Meal prepping was a HUGE success factor in my Whole30. Now before you give me the whole "I don't have time to meal prep" -- yes you do! If you are efficient with your time and are able to get groceries - meal prepping will change your life!
 
I meal prep twice a week (the whole Sunday all day meal- prepping thing would be nice -- but that's just a little too much for me at this point!) I usually meal prep Sunday/Monday evenings and Wednesdays for about 1.5-2 hours! I can make almost 6-8 meals in that time frame and that really comes in handy throughout the week.
 
Although the dining hall is full of temptations, I have been able to use the dining hall to my advantage (as seen above). For lunch all I had to make was the Whole30 compliant egg salad (egg + avocado) and then grab veggies from the dining hall. I had a small side of roasted sweet potatoes to eat; if I needed something a little sweeter and starchier. I also usually pack some sparkling water to go with one meal a day!
My fridge is often times filled with Tupperware and Whole30 complaint things (but don't worry I keep some cheese around for Josh). My favorite Whole30 drink essentials include: Libby's Pineapple Juice (no sugar added), Silk's Unsweetened Almond & Coconut Milk, Coconut Water, La Croix/ Spindrift. I also usually have a ton of fresh fruit, meat, veggies, eggs, and nuts. One indicator of Whole30 success is whether you are prepared or not -- so go to the grocery store and stalk up!
 
Now this is an introductory post for a reason because there is no way I could cover all 30 days of Whole30 wellness and my current Whole20 reset before the academic year begins -- no worries I'll save those for later posts... but I will briefly share that I found Whole30 to be really helpful for me. To start it allowed me to focus on nutrition. All throughout the program I knew that I was only putting real and healthy foods into my body! It also helped me defeat my sugar dragon! Before Whole30 I was the type of person who had to have dessert before I went to bed every night. After Whole30 no dessert and I'm cool!
Now I did lose weight and inches while doing Whole30! I don't prefer to focus on those solely because weight is just one scale of measurement. The benefit I loved the most about Whole30 was the boundless energy (known as Tiger Blood) that I experienced! I used to be obsessed with the snooze button and when I was doing Whole30 I was waking up on average 2 hours before my alarm even went off (NATURALLY). The energy alone was one of my favorite parts of doing Whole30 and if you feel like you are dragging throughout the workday then I would HIGHLY recommend the program!

Have you done Whole30? Have you considered doing Whole30? Comment below. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

My Downtown

I think that I am convinced that every city has a little charm. This past weekend I explored downtown Chambersburg, PA with my co-workers! While Chambersburg might not be "my city," but it is within my on-call boundaries and I loved being able to explore it for a few hours on Saturday. 
We started the day off at Brussels Cafe. Brussels Cafe is an adorable creperie located near the North Square Market! They offer a bunch of delicious crepes/waffles as well as coffee & macaroons! Another charming aspect of this cafe is the fact that they greet and call their customers by name. I was so pleasantly surprised that the owner called out my order by saying "Alexandria." -- Definitely not used to answering to that! They also will put your orders under names that you request, so it took me by surprise when I head "John Snow" being called out for a strawberry nutella crepe! 
The aesthetic in the cafe was hands down my favorite! Down to the hard-wood floors or the chalkboard on the wall that asks you the question "What Makes You Happy?" This space was chic! You could eat inside and outside (and if you chose to eat outside- you were surrounded by gorgeous brick walls with disney murals painted on them). I definitely plan to go back to Brussels Cafe -- hopefully when I'm not doing Whole30 because that John Snow's crepe was calling my name!
After my co-workers and I finished up with breakfast, we explored the North Square Farmer's Market! There were several booths that offered fresh produce. I loved the flower shop and the zinnias were begging me to buy them! Sadly - during RA Training (check out my insta stories for updates) I am never really in my apartment to enjoy them! 
I also tried kombucha for the first time! It has been on my bucket list FOR MONTHS! There was an adorable little booth at the farmers market and I knew it was time! They ran out of their lavender lemongrass brew, so I tried their featured drink that was apple based! Thank you Undone  for providing a delicious drink with completely organic ingredients [Insert Salsa Dancing Emoji]! Also, I totally love their concept of "rawsome!"
I will be job searching in less then 9 months and I will definitely be on the look for institutions with cute downtowns that I can explore! I love supporting local business' and would much rather go grocery shopping at the farmers market over the grocery store any day of the week! 

Where's your favorite downtown scene?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer Lovin'

RA Training officially begins today! When RA Training begins it is usually a sign that Summer has come to an end. Although it is bittersweet, I love starting a new school year! However, I couldn't end summer without sharing with you all some of my favorite things about this past Summer!

To start... Ocean City, MD is probably one of my favorite summer destinations! I've been going to OCMD every summer for SO MANY years. This past summer I got to go with Josh and his family, which was wonderful. I officially entered into the Fractured Prune club -- meaning I bought a $18 t-shirt and get 1 free donut per location per day so long as I wear my shirt! Fractured Prune is a donut shop (see above) that makes specialty donuts. They are a franchised company and have slowly made their way onto the "OCMD Must Do List"! The two above are called Blueberry Hill and Strawberry Shortcake. As I'm writing this post I am practically drooling for one (however, I'm settling for a Coconut Cream Pie larabar). While at the beach, we saw the sunrise and the sunset and spent as much time at the beach as possible! We even road bikes on the boardwalk - which has basically become one of my favorite traditions. 


Another thing I loved about this past summer was buying the cute suit that you see below! American Eagle currently doesn't sell the one I got -- but they have a similar style for $19.00 on their web now! I kept referring to this bathing suit as my "scandalous" bathing suit -- partly because it was so low cut; but also because this was the first summer in awhile were I felt comfortable with my body. I've lost a lot of weight and more importantly built a lot of muscle the last three months (which I'm sure I'll write about at some point).  
No summer would be complete without the annual July Reunion with all of my college friends (plus Lindsey). It rained this year (pretty much the entire afternoon) but we were able to get some sun time in the beginning. My summer weekends are a bit more free than my academic semester weekends, so I was pleased with all of the friendship overload this summer!
I don't know about you but I love SUMMER SALADS. Or basically anything with strawberries. My favorite summer salad included: spinach, raw red onions, feta cheese, bacon, strawberries, walnuts, with a balsamic dressing overtop! I'm currently doing a Whole30 before the school year begins so I probably won't be eating this again until next Summer. BUT, if you have all of these ingredients in your kitchen right now - I kindly request that you make this!
A dream summer bucket list item of mine was to go to a Drive In movie theatre! I'm so grateful that I live in PA and there are a plethora of drive in's for me to go to! A few weeks back, Josh and I went to see a double feature of Despicable Me 3 and Spider-Man. I absolutely loved setting up his Escape for the drive in and watching the movies while laying in the trunk. I would highly recommend going to a Drive In at least one time in your life... they are great for families and there is nothing nicer than listening to the old time music before the movies begin!
My final summer love is sand and toe nail polish! I don't usually get my toes painted (maybe two-three times a year) but when I do you can bet I get a polish that I have never seen before! Absolutely loved OPI's Rich Girls & Po-Boys! I'm normally a navy blue fan, but this this color really called out on the shelf.
For any of you who are not in Res Life (or academia in general) I hope you enjoy the rest of your summers! Say hi to the beach for me...  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Millstone and Annapolis: Caitlin's Bachelorette

Hi Friends! To start I just want to say how grateful I am to all of you who have reached out to me when I re-joined the blogosphere. Your welcome back greetings warmed my heart so much! Today I am sharing how my dear friend, Caitlin's bachelorette party went. It was hands down one of the best adventure days I've had this Summer.
We started the morning off with some Yoga, Cider Tasting, and Brunch at Millstone American Farmhouse Cidery! We really couldn't have gotten any more millennial than what we did in that two hour visit to Monkton, MD. When we first arrived I was awestruck by the beauty of the cidery -- also totally just learned that word! When we entered the yoga studio the environment was so peaceful that I knew I was going to enjoy this experience.

On a side note, I'm not the most experienced with yoga. And when I say I'm not... my favorite part of yoga is the last ten minutes when you get to "breathe and reflect" and I get to "close my eyes and take a nap." Anyways the space that was created can only be described as somewhere that truly embodied zen. The yoga studio was three floors up and you were really one with nature. There were no windows in the space, which really allowed you to hear and connect with the outside world.

I imagine that room can get quite hot during the summer months -- but boy did we luck out! Yoga was so comfortable and I enjoyed breaking in my new yoga mat. I think one of my new semester resolutions is to practice more mindfulness and strengthen my hips... because they are WEAK!  
After the yoga class ended (and my baby nap was over) we rejoined in the main cider tasting room and tried five different ciders. My favorite was the Rhuberry, which you can find here! I was extremely pleased to hear about their commitment to a sustainable craft and how they used no preservatives! I would definitely recommend going for a tasting if you are in the MD area!
After cider tasting came the brunch, which really tied the entire excursion so perfectly together. Between the brie cheese with raspberry jam to the bacon with the brown sugar glaze this meal was divine. I literally tried everything on the table (except the pate- sorry not a fan)! Still dreaming about this brunch!
Thank you Millstone for a wonderful start to celebrating Caitlin's bachelorette! I definitely hope to visit again soon! After we finished up at Millstone, we all headed to Annapolis to get ready for the evening's festivities. Once we were all dressed, we made our way into downtown Annapolis to accidently stumble upon a gorgeous festival! There were so many vendors with so many things to browse and look at!



Our luck kept going with the weather for that evening! It was a perfectly cool evening on the water and we spent a lot of time just walking around the docks of Annapolis. For dinner we went to McGarvey's! On their menu they served Half & Half (Maryland Crab and Cream of Crab Soup) and  I fell in love with the combination. I'm a little disappointed that it took me 24 years of my life to pair the two, but I'm happy to know that there is still so much I can learn about MD culture. Another highlight from dinner was that a gentlemen paid for our drinks (now before you start freaking out mom, he did not talk to us at all).

After dinner, we all walked off our seafood filled bellies by the waterfront and took cute photos! Caitlin did not wear her sash, but so many people recognized that we were a bridal party and we were getting asked right and left about the details!


We ended the night with ice-cream from Storm Bros! I ordered a scoop of the caramel truffle and it was so delicious. There is just something so wonderful about homemade ice-cream! We got so lucky that all of our plans worked out for Caitlin's bachelorette day! Still can't believe she is getting married in less then a month, but I am so excited to stand by her side as she promises forever to someone!

Cheers Cait! Also... is it just me or do all bridesmaids become your best friends! Love this group!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Friends!

One of the best things about life is who you share it with. I am beyond grateful that God has just endlessly blessed me with some of the greatest friends on the planet! To start, I'm really excited to say that this past year has been friend filled. I got to watch two of my friends get married (Bobby & Hannah), I visited my friend Matt (top picture-- the guy on the right) in VA, I hosted the annual July reunion, and went to a baby shower for Liz (top picture -- the couple on the left). There are so many exciting things happening in my friend group and I'm just really feeling grateful that I am still able to connect with my college friends a few times a year. 

Another exciting Summer happening was planning and hosting a bridal shower for my best friend from High School. Caitlin and I have been close friends since we were freshmen in High School and I cannot wait to stand by her in September as she says I do. Her shower was absolutely divine -- we hosted a bridal brunch, which included a pancake bar, donut holes, mini quiches, and lots of fruit!

No friend update post would be complete without featuring my bff, L. Lindsey and I have been so busy this summer and have been able to keep up our monthly tradition of weekending at one of our houses. We completed a Whole30 together and there is no better accountability partner than L. We also continued our legacy as sunshine twins by enjoying as much time as possible outdoors.
To end this friend post I wanted to feature my oldest and dearest friend, Amanda! I'm so grateful that I have seen her multiple times this past year (it is hard when you live 3.5+ hours away and you're both in graduate school and working full time). Amanda is loving married life and is actually on her 2nd honeymoon right now in Disney! I'm looking forward to her getting back and J and I are hoping to plan a fun filled camping weekend with her hubby this Fall. 

Y'all friendship literally fills my cup up. I wish I could spend hours writing about each of the memories I made this past year, but for now little updates will have to do!

Monday, August 7, 2017

How's The Family?

My family and I are doing wonderfully! We have been able to see each other just about once a month which is wonderful when you all live in different states. Brooke is rocking her final year at Auburn. I cannot believe she will be graduating in May! My mom and dad have also been doing wonderfully. Today, I'm going to write about two adventures I went on with my family this past year!
To start for Spring Break, Brooke and I flew to Florida and visited Universal Studios for a few days! It was an amazing sister vacation and offered some much needed time to catch up. We also literally geeked out over Harry Potter World -- which I would highly recommend to any Potter fans out there. We grew up reading the books, watching the movies, and low key pretending we were wizards so it only made sense that a little trip to Harry Potter World would be on our list of things to do.

Some of my favorite moments about our trip to Universal Studios: 
(1) We stayed at Cabana Bay which was modeled off of a famous 1950s hotel. It was clean and the theme was displayed very well.
(2) Brooke and I found a little stoop to hang out on in Harry Potter world. When we were visiting FL it was 60 degrees every day -- when the weather forecasted highs of 70s and 80s. Naturally we did not pack sweaters and pants. So, any break from the cold and wind was lovely. Also having a butterbeer and listening to the HP soundtrack was MARVELOUS.
(3) CityWalk was really cool! There were so many great restaurants and it was a nice place to relax, soak up some sun, get a few drinks, and catch up. My family and I are big Parrot heads so Brooke and I really enjoyed having a cheeseburger in paradise at Margaritaville.
This past Father's Day I surprised my dad with tickets to Hershey Park. My family and I haven't been to Hershey Park in probably a decade or more so it was really nice exploring the park with them and showing them the new rides (side note... Josh and I go to Hershey every year since I'm only an hour from the park). It was a great weekend to catch up with my parents in the sweetest place on earth.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hey 2017

I am sheepishly trying to come up with an appropriate sentence to indicate how sorry I am that I have been MIA for the better part of the last year of my life. I really don't have any excuses other than I was just busy living life instead of writing about it. I don't want to knock any of my blog friends with that statement - I have thoroughly enjoyed staying up to date on all of your lives. However, last year I was balancing my second year and clinical year of my master's program, a bunch of new work responsibilities, new eating and exercising habits, and social/family life.
It feels like I need to do a bit of some catching up and re-introducing on the blog, so please stay tuned for posts about what I've been up to. Comment any specific questions below and I look forward to reclaiming this chapter of my life.
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