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Monthly Musings: July Highlights & Favorites

Can you believe how quickly July went?? It’s crazy! I won’t lie, I am getting excited for fall, but before I get too ahead of myself I wanted to take a look back on July!

Highlights from July

The 4th
My sister-in-law’s family owns a lake house and every 4th of July they host a picnic. They have kayaks and a paddle board to take out onto the water, plus this year was the second corn hole tournament (usually it’s horseshoes). It was a blast!

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Kayaking
Along with kayaking at the lake house on the 4th, we also went kayaking at a nearby state park! It was a beautiful day outside and being out on the lake was so peaceful. I honestly could have spent all day out there.

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Newport, Rhode Island
One of my favorite places and it’s only about an hour and twenty minutes from us! I got to eat at my favorite Newport restaurant, The Red Parrot, and tried a delicious s’mores donut at Liberty Donuts. We were only there for an afternoon, but I’m still glad to have been able to go!

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July Favorites

Music discoveries
Songs: Just Thought You Should Know by Betty Who, Mercy Me by Alkaline Trio, June by Tigers Jaw, Until the Night Turns by Lord Huron

 

TV show: Suits
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Summer sunsets
This was taken at the beginning of the month. Sunsets are my favorite especially in the summer because they make the sky look absolutely beautiful!

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We have a busy August coming up, but I can’t wait 🙂 What were highlights from your July??

My Preferred Methods of Exercise

I’ve never been into sports or exercise, and working out regularly has always been something I’ve struggled to make a part of my daily schedule. I’ll keep it up, go several times a week, but then after a while I’ll only go to the gym maybe once a week.

When I lost my job in December, my days and nights were wide open. Eventually, I found myself getting to the gym almost every day because sometimes, it was the only time I’d get out of the house. It felt good because I was beginning to see small progress. Ever since I started working again at the end of March, I’ve been trying to make sure I don’t fall back into my usual habit. It hasn’t been easy, but I just remind myself of that progress I’ve made and to keep getting to the gym so I continue to see more!

I’ve slowly been learning about what certain things do for your body, and that’s helped me gain a better understanding of what I personally want to accomplish and how I can get there. It took a long time, but now I’ve finally found the right methods of exercise that work for me:

Weight training – Over the last few years, Robby has taught me about the different muscle groups and what exercises will work out each one (though I still haven’t gotten them all down just yet). I like doing my arms and my back, two areas I really want to strengthen and tone. I’d say my least favorite areas to work out are chest and, let’s be real, legs. But I still make sure they get some attention!

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Favorite back strengthening exercises: Seated cable row, one-arm dumbbell row, lat pulldown, and assisted pull-up
Favorite arm strengthening exercises: Dumbbell curl, straight-arm pulldown, standing bicep cable curl, and front dumbbell raise

Running – I really, really dislike running, but I’ve been trying to run once a week (even though I find treadmills to be boring). In May, Robby and I began running outside again since the weather had started to warm up. We have a specific route we take that’s close to our apartment complex, and it’s somewhere between 1.5-2 miles. We started running a couple times a week, but lately it’s been tough because of how hot it’s been. I might have to turn back to the treadmill until it starts cooling down again in the evenings!

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It can be difficult to find the motivation and energy to run, but I believe some great music can really help! I put together an upbeat playlist of songs that already get me dancing in my seat, so you bet they help me power through my run (I’m working on a second playlist, but I’m still trying to get the right mix of songs):

  • Club Can’t Handle Me Right Now – Flo Rida feat. David Guetta
  • Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
  • Cake by the Ocean – DNCE
  • Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj
  • Cheerleader – OMI
  • Where Them Girls At – David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj & Flo Rid

Yoga – I take a class once a week, usually on Thursdays. I started doing yoga for multiple reasons: to help with my posture, gain flexibility, practice mindfulness, and help manage my anxiety. I’d love to eventually start going twice a week and then start practicing at home whenever I don’t go to the studio to really help with those goals!

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Favorite poses: downward dog, tree pose, warrior II, cat + cow, and triangle pose

What type of workouts do you like? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Musings: June Highlights & Favorites

Not only is it Saturday, but it’s also the last day of the month! I hope you all had a wonderful June and have a lot of fun summer plans for July 🙂

When I get excited about something, I want to share it with the whole world so I thought it’d be fun to look back on some highlights and favorites that came out of June. My plan moving forward is to make this a regular post at the end of each month, so I hope you enjoy!

June Highlights

Courtney’s wedding
I love weddings in general and attending your friend/wedding photographer’s big day is definitely special! As I already mentioned here, Courtney’s ceremony was held at Harkness Memorial State Park in a beautiful garden that offered an intimate atmosphere and a romantic setting. Cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing took place at the park’s mansion looking out onto a green lawn that stretched out to meet Long Island Sound.

One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the s’mores setup they had at night! I love s’mores so I definitely took advantage of that. I also had so much fun dancing with Robby and our friends and getting to celebrate a beautiful couple!

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A day with my parents
I live almost 2 hours away from my parents, and I know that really isn’t far, but it also doesn’t mean I see them all the time. A few weeks ago Robby and I went to visit them to celebrate my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day (they’re a week apart). We went out for lunch and ice cream and just hung out at the house, but it was nice! I officially moved out in 2014 after I graduated college, so between not living there anymore and just getting older, I definitely appreciate my time with them more.

June Favorites

Zaful bathing suit
I was struggling to find a new one-piece, but then I discovered Zaful! They’re an online company with a ton of cute clothes, including bathing suits that don’t cost an arm and a leg. A true miracle! They have a lot to choose from, which is great depending on the style of suit you want and if you prefer fun patterns or solids.

I went with this pink and white striped one-piece that gave me some major retro vibes (also, cue Paramore’s “Pool”). It’s fairly simple but still adorable and for me, not super revealing. I would definitely turn to Zaful again for other bathing suits!

Music discoveries
Two songs I discovered this month that were both released this year are “Valentine” by 5 Seconds of Summer and “MI Amore” by FRENSHIP. They’re both super catchy and are great to listen to in the car with the windows rolled down.

It came out in April, but I finally got around to listening to Post Malone’s album beerbongs & bentleys. One of the things I really like about it is that you get to see his different sides as an artist. I also discovered the album Life Screams by former Flyleaf front woman Lacey Sturm. I’m two years behind with this one, but I’m just glad to have found it (actually, a friend told me about it!) I love the range of songs and all of the energy and emotion throughout the whole album.

Breakfast place
Robby and I found our new favorite breakfast spot! It’s in our town, except on the opposite side from where our apartment is. Although it isn’t a café or a diner, which is what you might think of when you’re looking for a breakfast place, the inside is very open and has this old Victorian-style feel to it. When we went, I’d been craving French toast so I absolutely took it as an opportunity to get some – and it was delicious! I also got a side of hash browns because I can’t go out to breakfast without hash browns. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner so we want to try those as well; however, I’m really excited to go back for breakfast!

Netflix show
I literally just started watching this a few days ago, but my new favorite show right now is the Queer Eye reboot. I think it’s such a fun, uplifting show to watch at the end of a long day. I love the Fab Five and want to be friends with all of them, plus it warms your heart to see them help other people!

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Although July isn’t as busy as June was, I’m looking forward to the 4th, more time at the pool, and hopefully kayaking (finally)!

Happy First Day of Summer!

It’s officially summertime! Not to be dramatic, but it felt like winter was going to last for all eternity, so I’m really excited to soak in some vitamin D! My husband and I have already been taking advantage of our apartment complex’s grilling areas, we’ve made a few trips to our favorite ice cream spot, and I bought myself a new bathing suit for pool and beach days.

To celebrate the first day of summer, I’d like to go through my favorite things about this season!

Cookouts and bonfires

For real though, who doesn’t enjoy a good cookout followed by a bonfire and s’mores!? I love hamburgers, hot dogs, fruit salad, pasta salad… all of it! And then having a bonfire while roasting marshmallows and making yummy s’mores makes for the perfect summer day! As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I have been using our complex’s grills for lunch or dinner, which has been awesome. It might not be an actual cookout, but I still love it!

My family’s annual vacation to the Jersey Shore

While not at all relevant to the TV show, my family has been vacationing down to Cape May, NJ for over 20 years. We used to go for a week in August, but that changed to July over the last few years! Cape May is a Victorian beach town with so many beautiful houses that can be rented out, which is what my family does. The beach has awesome waves that are great for body surfing and there are tons of shops! One year I even went parasailing, which I’d love to do again one of these days. I think one of the best things about these trips is not being on a schedule. A few things might be planned during the week, but other than that, you’re truly on vacation and can take your time. It’s perfect!

Pool and beach days

I don’t go to the beach too much, but it’s one of my favorite summer activities! Growing up along the shoreline in Connecticut and then those family trips to NJ are why I love the beach and the ocean. And then, of course, there’s always the option of hanging by the pool! When I was little, I always wanted a pool, and now I’m fortunate to live in a complex with a really nice one. I plan on going down there as much as possible this summer to get myself a nice tan. Plus, I can’t let that new suit go to waste!

Kayaking

I’ve been wanting to go kayaking for weeks now, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened yet! It will though J Last summer we found this lake about 15-20 minutes away where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. It was so peaceful venturing around the water and I’m excited to go back this year. Since we’re in Massachusetts, I also want to try kayaking on the Charles River. Not only is kayaking fun, but it’s a great workout, too!

My birthday

I’m a summer baby! My birthday is in August and I’ve always loved having a summer birthday. There’s just so many fun things you can do! Last year my husband and I spent a weekend in Newport, RI, one of my favorite places. We moseyed along the Cliff Walk, visited a few of the mansions, and ate at my favorite restaurant, The Red Parrot. In a few years when I turn 30 (crazy!) I’d LOVE to go to Australia! As long as we plan ahead and save, I don’t see why not!

What are your favorite things about summer? Let me know in the comments!

Dreaming of Summer Days

Happy Hump Day! I hope you’re all having a great week so far.

Today is a wonderful day for New Englanders because the temperature is at a whopping 73 degrees… In the middle of February! We’ve had some harsh cold weather this winter, and to be quite honest, I’m so sick of it. I’ve been dreaming of summer for a couple of weeks now, so today’s weather has been a breath of fresh air (literally).

Getting to leave my apartment without a jacket, hat, and gloves on makes me ready for endless sunshine and warmer days! It got me thinking about the things I miss the most about spring/summer when I’m shivering away in negative degree weather:

Being outside: I was able to go for a nice walk today, which was so refreshing! The winter weather makes it difficult, and sometimes painful, to be outside for more than 3 seconds. I always miss being able to take walks in the evening while the sun is going down, or participate in fun outdoor activities like kayaking! I opened a window in the apartment and could hear little kids playing outside, which was so nice to hear!

Sunshine: This could go with being outside, but either way, those short winter days get old very fast. Plus, it gets so gloomy. I miss those sunny days with bright blue skies where everything feels more cheerful. Gotta get that Vitamin D!

Beach days: I don’t go to the beach often in the summer, but I’ve always loved going. Even though it can get pretty crazy with beachgoers, who doesn’t love soaking up some sun while relaxing on their favorite beach? My family takes a vacation down to the Jersey Shore every summer, so I’m really looking forward to that this year!

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(This was taken last summer in Newport, RI)

Overall, warm weather makes you feel good and there’s so much more to do. Even things like ice cream stands opening back up, summer cookouts , or just sitting outside with a good book to read are definitely missed during the winter!

For anyone else who longs for summer once the winter months start coming to a close, what do you miss the most about? For others, what are your favorite things about the warm weather in general?

A Little Bit of Spontaneity

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m typically not a spontaneous person. I like to have a plan for things before jumping in, especially when it comes to traveling of any sort.

My husband and I spontaneously planned a three-day weekend to Quebec in May with my best friend, Kassy, and her husband, Ian! We were talking about traveling and Ian was going through a list of the top 52 places to visit. Someone had suggested that one day, the four of us take a trip together since we never have before. Kassy had also mentioned that her and Ian wanted to travel somewhere to celebrate Ian receiving his master’s in May.

(I’m honestly not sure how Quebec fell into this thought process)

Before we knew it, Ian was perusing Airbnb to check prices. Within an hour, we had a place booked! We still have plenty of time to figure out what we’d like to do/see while in Quebec, but I’ve never booked a trip on the spot like that. I won’t lie, my anxiety-ridden self was quietly going, “Whoa, what!?” on the inside. However, Robby and I have been wanting to visit Canada (neither of us have before), and now we’ll finally get to explore one of its cities! Plus, we’ll be in good company!

Occasionally sprinkling a little spontaneity into your life if you’re more of a planner is okay. It’s something I definitely want to try more. Kassy even bought me a copy of Breathe magazine, and the first piece is on spontaneity and living in the moment (so fitting!). It explains how breaking away from your usual routine or norm can be exciting, empowering, and give you a new perspective. There’s even a small list of suggestions that allow you to include spontaneity into your daily schedule.

Robby and I have been thinking of trips to take this year, but Canada wasn’t on our radar. Now it is! Even though it wasn’t part of our travel plans, I’m really glad for our spontaneous decision to go with our friends. I can already tell it will be an awesome time!

Does anyone have their own stories of spontaneity? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments 🙂

Inspiration From a Former Navy Seal

Hi, everyone!

I wanted to share something that I found to be inspiring and thought some of you might take away a little inspiration as well.

I was perusing Amazon for a book (or two) to buy when I came across “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World” by Admiral William H. McRaven. The title itself was intriguing, plus I saw that it received 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 reviews. I decided to check it out.

McRaven’s book is based off his 2014 commencement speech he gave at the University of Texas at Austin. The customer reviews on Amazon praise how the life lessons McRaven walks through, things he took away from his Navy Seal training, are applicable to anybody. With more curiosity, I decided to look up his speech on YouTube.

The first thing that stood out to me was McRaven’s comment on how the struggles we face, the life lessons to overcome those struggles, and how we can help change the world are universal; it doesn’t matter your background, gender, etc. This was something I had never thought of before, but I liked this perspective. It’s reassurance that we all have the ability to rise above and make a difference in other people’s lives and in the world.

McRaven continued to list out his ten lessons toward making a change. His first one was where the title of the book will make sense: making your bed every morning. You might be thinking, “How is making my bed going to make an impact?” McRaven shed light on this question: Although a small task, making your bed every morning leaves you with a sense of accomplishment. It leads you to completing your second task of the day. Then your third, fourth, and so on.

There are times when we might do our absolute best at something, but the outcome still doesn’t turn out as we had hoped. When that happens, just keep going. That’s how life is sometimes, but we can’t let it hold us back (or as McRaven put it: get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward).

One of McRaven’s lessons that I’ve been learning more and more is that failure will happen, but don’t be afraid of it. Failure is a part of life and though many of us might put it at the top of our list of what we fear most, we shouldn’t be afraid that it’s going to happen. We can embrace it and let it motivate us forward.

Another lesson that stood out to me was to be your very best in the darkest moments. When you feel like you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to think straight, or you feel stuck, find your inner strength to let it help you through those times.

A powerful lesson that McRaven discussed was to never give up. This is so easy to do, especially when things are tough. That doesn’t mean you throw in the towel though. If you want to change the world or make an impact, giving up isn’t the way to do so.

These obviously aren’t all ten, but McRaven’s lessons are great for anyone at any stage of life. I enjoyed listening to his speech and I would still like to get the book because it probably goes a little more into each of his lessons.

Has anyone else read his book or listened to the speech? What are your thoughts? What are other inspirational speeches you’ve heard? Let me know in the comments!