Monday, January 23, 2017

15 Books to Read in 2017





Yesterday I spent my cold, rainy Sunday morning exploring the shelves of my favorite DC bookstore.

Kramer Books and Afterwards Café is open all day, every day. It’s right in Dupont Circle which is a charming little neighborhood nestled right by Embassy Row. The architecture is beautiful and it’s the perfect place to get lost in a day. (also recommended: the DELISH Irish Coffee that they serve in the café section)

While I was there I spent hours looking through all of the books and deciding which ones I wanted to add to my 2017 reading list.

I’m so so so happy to finally have time for leisurely reading. Throughout grad school I only ever had time to read for classes and if I did have free time I for sure did not want to spend it reading.

But alas! I have the time now and I can’t wait to dive back in. Here are 15 books from a variety of genre’s and world perspectives that I’ve added to my reading list:


 

 
 

 

 

 


 

 

 
 


 
 


 
 


 
 
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK :)
 


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Inside the White House


With the Inauguration coming up tomorrow and an overall crazy week here in Washington, D.C. I wanted to share my experiences visiting the White House and give you quick information on how, you too, can visit very easily. 

At one of my old jobs I managed the internship program. Each semester I would have anywhere from 5-15 interns to supervise that came to DC expand their education, gain research experience, and visit the Nation's capitol. 

I wanted to always ensure that they saw as much as they could while they were here and what better tour to set them up on than the WHITE HOUSE?!?!

So, every semester I took them on the tour of the East Wing (the West Wing tours are extremely exclusive and harder to come across).

It's actually very simple to get a tour set up!

All you have to do is contact either your Congressman/woman or State Senator. It's best to give the staff assistant that will help you multiple dates and times for your potential tour so you can more ensure there is a window available. They will ask for information (name, birthday, address, place of birth, ssn, etc....) so that a background check can be run on you. 

If all adds up you will get a tour! 

Simple notes: you can't bring anything with you that day. The only thing is things that can be on your person: wallet, cell phone, that's basically it. So plan accordingly. 

Read everything. Take pictures. Take your time and really appreciate where you are standing. 

Regardless of political beliefs you are standing among history when visiting the White House. It is something I firmly believe every American should experience and appreciate because it is extremely humbling and encouraging.

Let me know if you need any help contacting your Representatives!

Fall 2015










Spring 2016














Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Stay Energized During Busy Days


 
We’re all busy. Between work, school, family, and friends time just seems to get away with us. Our schedules fill up for the month ahead without even the blink of an eye.

I will be the first person to recommend that everyone needs a ‘me’ day. A day to do absolutely NOTHING and relax. Of course this can include chores around the house and other things that will ease the tension of a busy schedule for the days (or weeks, yikes!) ahead. But, for the most part it’s essential to take a day where you lay around and watch Netflix, or read a book, or go for a quiet hike.

But, what happens when days like this are absolutely few and far between? When you work 40/50/60 hours a week and your nights are filled with classes or social obligations and you squeeze as much into a weekend as possible?

More often than not that’s each of our reality and it’s draining! There are some days at work where I’m staring at the computer and my eyes just glaze over in exhaustion. I know it’s because I always pack too much into a week, but I have a hard time saying no to friends and I generally thrive off of social situations.

In any given week I work 50-60 hours a week, attend 2-3 weekday happy hours or dinners, and overbook myself on the weekends for morning plans with one friend and then evening plans with another. I do take a ‘me’ day from time to time, but usually this is my speed and it goes from 0-100mph REALLY quickly.

BUT, I do have tricks that keep me energized and HEALTHY so that being busy doesn’t take it’s toll on me.

Here are a few tricks I use to make sure I feel my best, work my best, and perform my best:

1)                  Stay Hydrated


I CANNOT harp on this point enough. Staying hydrated is essential for health and wellness.

There is a rule that you should divide your body weight in half and drink that much water (in ounces) every day. DO IT!

Drinking water increases metabolism, helps skin, helps digestion, and overall makes your body feel it’s best (we are made primarily of water, after all).

I have a Kate Spade Monogrammed cup that I keep at my desk at all times for work. I also keep a Brita in our work fridge so I have no excuse but to drink pure, cold, water.

2)                  Limit Your Caffeine Intake


This is a hard point for me to drive home. Throughout undergrad and grad school I used to drink 3, maybe even 4 cups of coffee a day. And don’t get me wrong… coffee is delicious.

But, if you are relying too much on coffee and concentrated caffeine you will eventually experience a crash when the effects of the caffeine wear off.

I’ve switched over to one small cup of coffee while I’m getting ready in the morning and then I keep green tea in my Yeti Tumbler to drink throughout the day because of it’s low caffeine level and health/metabolism benefits.

***Note: the Yeti REALLY DOES WORK. I will make a cup of hot tea at 7:30am when I get to work and by 3:00pm it is still hot! (usually I drink it wayyyyy quicker, but I have made sure to put it to the test!).

3)                  Take Your Multivitamin


Even the most health conscious people on this planet miss essential vitamins and nutrients through their general diet.

It’s so easy to skip meals, eat unhealthily, or eat too much of the same thing over and over again.

BUT the easiest thing in the world is taking one pill or gummy every morning to make sure you are getting every vitamin and mineral needed.

I take ALIVE! Women’s Multivitamin (in gummy form) every morning. And seriously, it makes a difference!

I can tell if there’s a day that I forget to take it and I’ll tell you, it’s not a feeling I enjoy. Our bodies are meant to thrive off of essentials and that’s what happens when you give them to it: it thrives rather than just functions.

4)                  Eat 3 Balanced Meals


EAT BREAKFAST. EAT LUNCH. EAT DINNER.

I will 100% admit that this is something I’m bad at. Some people stress-eat and I well, stress-under-eat. If I don’t have time in the morning I’ll run out the door without breakfast. If I get tied up in a meeting I’ll forget lunch. If I have plans with friends for Happy Hour I’ll eat a few chips and salsa and omit dinner.

But, do. not. do. that. Food fuels our bodies. As I said, it gives us the nutrients we need every day. And, every time we eat throughout the day it re-ignites the energy our body needs and sharpens our brains.

I’ve already posted about my favorite Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats. This is only one way to get an easy breakfast: grab a Kashibar, grab a piece of fruit, grab a smoothie, just grab something!

Make your lunches for the week ahead every Sunday night so you can just grab them as you go. (Post to come on my favorite meal prep ideas!)

Make dinners you enjoy. Invite a friend over to try the recipe. Use your crockpot.

Just make sure you’re eating, and you’re eating as healthy as you can to fuel your body!

5)                  Take 5 Minute Breaks


It’s as simple as that.

If you’re at work, get up from your desk for 5 minutes and walk around (or at least stop staring at your computer screen).

If you’re out with friends, take a bathroom break and a deep breath.

If you have back-to-back-to-back plans, stop at home in between and just lay in quiet for 5 minutes.

‘Me’ time is essential… even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

6)                  Get 7-8 Hours of Sleep


I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. It’s scientifically proven and can be found on any health/wellness/medical website and study.

Young adult require 7-8 hours of sleep to perform at their absolute best. So do it.

Are you a morning person? Go to bed early and wake up early.

A night owl? Adjust your work schedule to maybe arrive to the office later in the morning and stay later in the evening because you work better at that time.

Just, sleep okay? It’s so so so good for you!

 

 

These tips are all so basic, but SO important! They’re easy to do, easy to incorporate, and will have you feeling a worlds better in all that you do.

Whether, work, school, or even social setting you will have more energy and excitement because your body will be fueled!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

5 Reasons to Climb that Mountain and Reach that Goal


“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”


 
Thinking back on 2016 I faced a lot of challenges that I hadn’t been expecting. I left a job that I had been in for 3 years with colleagues that were basically family. I started a new job with new colleagues and new expectations. I graduated with my Master’s degree. I moved apartments (twice). I started yet another job (holler because it’s my absolute dream job and there will be no more job hopping in 2017).
All of these things are very exciting things but they were all very new. They were changes. And while I’ve never been bad at change it definitely requires strength and ultimately forces growth.
I had to accept that the people I had seen 50 hours a week for 3 years would now be a phone call or email away rather than right next door. I had to adapt to becoming solely a professional rather than a student (although, I would argue, every human is always a student). I had to make a new house a home. I had to weigh whether jumping jobs was the right move.

And, to my pleasant surprise, everything that happened was for a reason and I have entered 2017 with a better understanding of who I am as a person more than I ever have in my life.
I know who I am professionally, I know who I am academically, I know who I am as a friend, and I also know who I want to be.
I also know what I want to do. And what I want to do is live, not just exist.
I’ve said repeatedly that I will get to travel the country and visit all 50 states in the next three years. But I also know that I don’t want to stop there.
I am young and more than able to travel the world and accomplish things that I never even dreamed I would set as an obtainable goal.
And I’m starting by planning perhaps the most exciting trip in my life: The Mt. Everest Base Camp Trek.
I will be going with my cousin in 2020 so we can save up, train, collect equipment, etc….
Here are my 5 reasons why I’m going to, and why you should climb that mountain:

1)      Because I (You) Can

Ever realize that goals are more easily obtained than you think? That if you really think about a big goal, partner it with small goals, and work towards them every day, it can and will be your destiny?

That’s how I feel about this. Yes, it will take a lot of training. Yes, it will take a bit of money. But yes, it will change my life.

I am young, in good health, and in the financial situation that I can save a little bit from each paycheck for the next three years and easily afford it. That’s also part of the setting realistic goals part. Would I be able to go this summer? No. because I wouldn’t be able to properly save and train.

Hence, 2020 it is.

2)      To See the World


Have you ever had those moments when you realize the world is truly bigger than the corners you are in every day? To me, I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, went to school in the suburbs of D.C. and settled in the city of D.C.
I’ve traveled, but more as a tourist and less as a traveler. Realizing about just how much I have to learn about my own country (ranchers from Montana, farmers in Oklahoma, Native Americans in basically every state…. Just to name a few of the ‘American’ people I’ve never actually been surrounded by) makes me realize just how much of the world is out there.
I want to meet the citizens of Nepal. I want to hike with porters and translators that make a living for their families in small Nepal towns. I want to learn, I want to share, I want to grow.
I want to meet the other hikers and learn why they are making the hike. I want to know what motivates other human beings and in return gain a wider understanding and new drive of motivation.

3)      To Challenge Myself


I’m fit. I’m active. But I’m not the first person you would look at and assume she wants to climb Mt. Everest (well, some of it).
When I was little I was chubby. I hated playing games outside that required running. I would basically have rather done anything but cause physical exertion.
As I got older though, I realized just how much I loved my body when I put just a little bit of work into my fitness routine.
For this adventure I’m going to have to train. I’m going to have to hike more than I ever have (although I can say that hiking is one of my absolute favorite hobbies). I’m going to have to push my body more than I ever have. But I’ll also have the reward of seeing it do things it never has.
It’s also a mental challenge. Every ounce of me wants to question myself as to if I really can climb Mt. Everest. I mean, it’s Mt. Everest for goodness sake! But I know that I can. As long as I challenge myself to delete any mental barriers, I KNOW that I can do it.

4)      To Meet New People


I want to meet the citizens of Nepal. I want to hike with porters and translators that make a living for their families in small Nepal towns. I want to learn, I want to share, I want to grow.
I want to meet the other hikers and learn why they are making the hike. I want to know what motivates other human beings and in return gain a wider understanding and new drive of motivation.
Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve met? I bet they’re people that are completely different than you with completely different stories and backgrounds. And you know what? They likely thought you were wildly interesting too! Our differences are what makes us unique. They’re what makes human. They’re what makes us, us.

5)      To Say “I Did”


I want to be able to say I climbed (part of) Mt. Everest. I want to be able to teach my future children the possibilities that exist. I want others to know that anything is possible. I want to live my life knowing that I made possible ALL of my dreams.
It’s a definite feat to take on, and I could not be more excited for the challenge, the growth, and the change that comes along with it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Apple-Cinnamon Overnight Oats


Everybody has those days that are especially busy. Whether it be a weekday where work, social life, and adult responsibilities all pile up or a weekend day where there just too many errands to run.

For me, Wednesday is that day. Of all of the project teams I am on they ALL meet weekly on Wednesdays. This means meeting after meeting, deliverable after deliverable, and new assignment after new assignment.

It’s important that I always start my morning off right to make sure I tackle the day flawlessly (well…. as flawless as possible).

I have a favorite little corner that I sneak away to drink my tea, organize my agenda and to-do list for the day, and gather my thoughts. It’s a perfect place away from the pinging of my email and phone to start the day off right.

The other important thing is BREAKFAST! Overnight oats have become my absolute fav fav fav when it comes to breakfast because they take about 5 minutes prep time the night before and they’re ready to grab and go as soon as you need them.

Today I’ll share with you this week’s favorite recipe (yes, I’m that person that will eat the same thing over and over until I’m sick with it and then move to the next): Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats!


Directions:


First, grab a Mason Jar or Tupperware container and fill it with 1 cup of oats (I used Trader Joes Old Fashioned Organic Oats).

Next, add ¾ cup of milk (almond, soy, cashew, or cow). I use unsweetened Silk cashew milk because I prefer my oats to not be too sweet, but if you’re a sugar fan I would use sweetened or vanilla milk, or add a teaspoon of stevia. I also like how thick cashew milk is but with only 35 calories.


Add 1 tablespoon of McCormick cinnamon.


Cut up an apple into chunks. I used extra-large McIntosh because I prefer how these crisp red apples pair with cinnamon (think: apple pie at thanksgiving).

Add the apples.



Close the mason jar (or Tupperware) and shake all of the ingredients together.


Put the jar in the fridge overnight.

Finally, add chopped walnuts (or pecans based on preference) to the oats and enjoy! (Note: can be served hot or cold, but I usually just eat them cold straight from the fridge!)

There you have the absolute easiest, quickest, and most delicious way to do breakfast! Not to mention it is EXTREMELY cost efficient! Stay tuned for some of my other favorite overnight oats recipes (teaser: chocolate/peanut butter/banana, blueberry pie, and ‘nutella’!)