Current Music Favorites

Anyone else like making playlists, discovering new songs, and just great music in general? ‘Cause I certainly do.

I have a lot of favorite songs, but I thought I’d share ones that are more recent (from this year and last year). A lot of my favorite bands released albums in 2017 and 2018, so to make sure they didn’t take up this whole list, I only chose 1 song from each – NOT easy. Plus, I wrote a post in December on my favorite albums of 2017 so I didn’t want to have too much repeat.

Let me know if you give any of these a listen!

  • “Told You So” by Miguel
  • “Flowerss by HalfNoise
  • “Homemade Dynamite – REMIX” by Lorde, Khalid, Post Malone, and SZA
  • “Passionfruit” by Drake
  • “What Lovers Do” by Maroon 5 feat. SZA
  • “20 Something” by SZA
  • “Winterbreak” by MUNA
  • “The Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy
  • “Almost Had Me” by Lights
  • “Don’t Come Down” by The Maine
  • “Little of Your Love” by HAIM
  • “Sparking” by Eisley
  • “Rose-Colored Boy” by Paramore
  • “Ground Control” by All Time Low feat. Tegan and Sara
  • “Love So Soft” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Get Out” by CHVRCHES
  • “Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers
  • “Party on Apocalypse” by New Found Glory
  • “Sit Next to Me” by Foster the People
  • “Lustration” by Circa Survive
  • “Dangerous Night” by Thirty Seconds to Mars

Okay, guys, now it’s time for you to tell me songs you’re currently loving! I’m always looking for new music, so let me know!

The Simple Practice of Gratitude

Hi, friends!

Last time we spoke, I mentioned there was a nor’easter happening. Now, we have welcomed Winter Storm Quinn into our neighborhoods! Man, I am so ready for summer.

Anyway, I wanted to talk to you guys today about gratitude. Living in our digital age while following hectic schedules can cause us to forget that sometimes, it’s good to slow down and look around. We need to remember the value in the things we already have or acknowledge what comes into our path on a daily basis.

Practicing gratitude isn’t something we should only do once a year on Thanksgiving. We should be doing it every day, or as often as we can. It’s such a simple act that brings you back down to earth and helps you appreciate life. It can help your overall well-being, allowing you to feel more happiness, relieve you from stress, and help you to be more patient.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of the many who can get lost in schedules, stress – just everyday life – and I often forget to realize that there are always things to be grateful for. Heck, I forget to be grateful because I do get so caught up in stress.

To help relieve me from getting lost in my own head, I decided to start a Gratitude Journal. Each night, I reflect on what I was grateful for that day and choose 3 things to write down. The best part is that I don’t need to mention some huge event. I might list something as simple as “Trying out a new recipe.” I personally believe that’s one of the most important pieces to practicing gratitude: you really appreciate the small things in life. You don’t need to buy a new car or get a raise at work to be grateful. I’m not saying those things shouldn’t be celebrated or appreciated because they should! But it’s also good to recognize the small things as well as the big things.

I’ve only started my Gratitude Journal about a week ago, but I wanted to share some of what I’ve written:

  • I am grateful for starting a new book, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton. (Side note: go check her out!)
  • I am grateful that we didn’t lose power during the nor’easter.
  • I am grateful for signing up for yoga and taking my first class!
  • I am grateful for seeing a friend who I hadn’t seen since summer.
  • I am grateful that my husband is on his school break and we’ve been able to spend some more time together.

Remember, there’s no right or wrong to this because you’re doing it for you. Aside from writing, you can also practice gratitude by telling someone in your life that you’re thankful for them. I’m sure it would make them feel good 🙂

Does anyone else practice gratitude? How has it helped you?

My First Experience Taking a Yoga Class

Happy Friday!

I’m one of the many people currently experiencing this wonderful nor’easter. I need to go to Target, but that’s probably going to have to wait until tomorrow or Sunday. So for now, I thought I would share with you my first ever experience taking a yoga class!

The only yoga experience I have is attempting some poses at home. It’s completely different trying it on your own compared to being in a class with an instructor. I wanted to try classes because I knew it would give me guidance on how to do the poses correctly without hurting myself. Plus, being at home can easily distract you.

Last night I went to my first class, which was called Evening Flow. I admit I was a little nervous beforehand because I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The class instructor, Victoria, was super nice and helped me get situated. I had to rent one of their mats, and she also showed me the blocks and straps that are sometimes used for assistance with poses.

Once the class got going, my nerves went away. Victoria led everyone in a quick warm up before going into a variety of poses, such as downward dog, tabletop, child’s play, warrior, butterfly, and boat pose. She made sure to show the class how to position themselves, occasionally going over to individuals to help them correct their pose.

For me, it was a little overwhelming because I was trying to focus on my breathing along with making sure I was doing the poses as best as I could. I know it’s going to take take time and practice, but I could tell my body was getting a great workout. I do go to the gym, but yoga was another reminder that I’m not very flexible. One girl in the class was like Gumby, bending in all kinds of directions. As I continue, I’m looking forward to achieving different poses without losing my breath!

After class, Victoria told me I’d done a good job for my first time. That was very encouraging to hear! She said I had good alignment, which I was surprised at because I don’t have the best posture (one of the many reasons why I’m trying yoga). I also took a few minutes to speak with her, asking if she had any suggestions for me on what to work on. Apparently my downward dog pose needs improvement (see, going to a class helps!). She also said it’s important to power through holding the poses, something I definitely struggle with.

I can see why people enjoy yoga. Besides the workout your body is getting, it’s a nice way to take a break from the rest of the world so all you’re focused on is what you’re doing in class. One of my goals is mindfulness, and yoga will be a great help with that.

For anyone who’s never taken a yoga class and is considering it, I encourage you to try! I’m really glad I did, despite my nerves. I’ve already signed up for my next class and I’m excited to continue learning more and improving my flexibility and physical strength.

I’d love to hear about any of your experiences with yoga! Share with me in the comments 🙂 Also, for anyone else getting hit by this nor’easter: stay safe and warm!

Favorite Lyrics From Paramore’s ‘After Laughter’

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that Paramore is my absolute favorite band in the whole world. After a long yet worthwhile wait, they released their fifth studio album, After Laughter, last May.

This album is brilliant because it overflows with honesty and emotion, which also makes it incredibly relatable. Although the music is upbeat and makes you want to do a little dance, lyrically, it’s some of the band’s most powerful work.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big music lover and part of that is because of song lyrics. Whether you’re going through a difficult time or a positive experience, there’s something out there for everyone. Words are so influential and really help with expression. Paramore nails it when it comes to that.

I listen to After Laughter a lot, but it doesn’t get old. Since I love it so much, I wanted to share my favorite lyrics (not an easy task, by the way).

“Reality will break your heart // Survival will not be the hardest part // It’s keeping all your hopes alive // When all the rest of you has died” – 26

“Of all the weapons you fight with // Your silence is the most violent” – Tell Me How

“Hard times // Gonna take you down a laugh when you cry” – Hard Times

“I know that you’re afraid to // Let all the dark escape you // But we could let the light illuminate these hopeless places” – Idle Worship

“You say we gotta look on the bright side // I say well maybe if you wanna go blind // You say my eyes are getting too dark now // But boy you ain’t ever seen my mind” – Rose-Colored Boy

“And I don’t pick up when you call // ‘Cause your voice is a gun // Every word is a bullet hole // Shot a hole in the sun” – Forgiveness

“Time is a bastard // I won’t break my neck to get around it” – Grudges

“Nostalgia’s cool // But it won’t help you now // A dream is good // If you don’t wear it out” – Caught in the Middle

What are some of your favorite lyrics (Paramore or not)? I’d love to hear them!

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?

First Miami Adventure

Hi, guys!

My husband and I just got home this morning from a short trip to Miami! We went down for his sister’s wedding, but since neither of us had been there before we made time to do some exploring!

We arrived on Thursday morning and had the rest of the day to check out the city. After having a quick lunch, we drove to Key Biscayne where we walked along the beach, climbed the Cape Florida Light lighthouse, saw an iguana fall from a tree (not kidding), and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine!

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I took this photo from the top of the lighthouse. I’m terrified of heights, so I snapped this quickly. Isn’t it beautiful, though?

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The Cape Florida Lighthouse (105 steps to the top!)

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After, we went and got ice cream at Azucar Ice Cream Company. They had a long list of different flavors; it was hard to choose one! I ended up getting Raspberry Sorbet while Robby had Dulche de Leche. Both were so creamy and delicious! If you’re ever in Miami, check this place out.

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That night, Robby’s sister and her now husband had some of his family over for dinner and we joined them. They’re such friendly people and we really enjoyed their company! They’re from the Dominican Republic and they welcomed us to stay with them if we ever travel down there. So nice!

Friday morning started off with some donuts from The Salty Donut! We ended up choosing maple bacon, flan, traditional glazed, cookies and cream, and classic chocolate glazed from their list of craft donuts. I didn’t try all of the ones we got, but the cookies and cream one was my favorite!

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After breakfast, Robby and I went to South Beach. The beach itself was pretty empty since the weather was in the 60s to low 70s, but it was still beautiful! We took a short walk before continuing on Ocean Drive, which was right next to the beach. There were bike riders, runners, and visitors enjoying the scenery and weather.

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One of my favorite things I saw was the Starlite Hotel, a 50’s-style hotel (I love the 50’s)

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There were more buildings that had the same style; I was in love!

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We ate lunch at a place called Joe’s Take Away, which is a more casual version of the restaurant Joe’s Stone Crab (they’re next door to each other). I got the Manhattan Clam Chowder and a small side of fries (which looked more like a large), and Robby had the Mahi-Mahi sandwich. Everything was delicious and fresh!

South Beach was my favorite part that we got to visit. I would love to go back there someday!

The wedding festivities began late that afternoon. Robby’s sister and her husband had a pretty non-traditional wedding. They were married at the courthouse in Coral Gables, followed by a family dinner at a restaurant called Grazianos.

The following day, Saturday, was the reception. It was held on the rooftop of a 14 story floor building, which provided a stunning view of the city! We spent the morning setting up tables, chairs, and decorations. Of course I don’t have any photos, but everything looked beautiful and setup went smoothly!

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Once we finished, we all went our separate ways to grab lunch and then get ready for the celebration. They probably had 80-85 people in attendance, but it was a fun crowd and everyone appeared to be having a great time! It was also nice because we got to hang out with some of Robby’s family who had attended our wedding in October, but we barely got to see or talk to them during it since we were all over the place.

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We weren’t in Miami for too long, but we still had a great time! I would definitely like to go back someday and do more exploring.

Has anyone else been to Miami? What do you like it about? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Happy Penguin Awareness Day!

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all having a nice weekend so far.

Other than it being Saturday, today is awesome because it’s Penguin Awareness Day! Penguins are my favorite animal in the whole world and have been for years (although I couldn’t tell you how that came to be). Whenever I go to the aquarium, I basically squeal like a small child upon seeing the penguins. I have yet to do a penguin encounter, but it’s a goal!

As I’ve mentioned before, Christmas is my favorite holiday. To top that off, Christmas is also when penguin decorations are seen the most and I absolutely love it. Plus, it seems like every Christmas I get at least one gift that has penguins on it.

(Look how stinkin’ cute!)

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To celebrate these adorable creatures, I thought I would share some penguin facts!

  • Indeed, penguins are birds, but they are unable to fly (they’re great swimmers, though!)
  • Penguins reside in the Southern Hemisphere; however, they may live in a tropical climate or in a colder region, depending on the species
  • Penguins are very vocal and communicate through different calls
  • The Emperor Penguin is the largest species
  • More than half of a penguin’s life is spent in the water, which is where they do all their hunting
  • Penguin chicks take up to three days to chip their way out of their shells
  • The main foods found in a penguin’s diet are krill, fish, and squid
  • Distinct markings and coloring help to distinguish between species
  • Penguins’ nesting colonies are called “rookeries”

Who else thinks penguins are just flat out awesome? What’s YOUR favorite animal?

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!

Seashell Treasures

Hello, friends!

This year I spent Christmas in Florida visiting my in-laws! It was a really nice mini vacation, especially away from the cold.

One of the things on my to-do list while Robby and I were in Florida was to visit a few of the nearby beaches and look for shells. I love walking along the water searching for shells; they’re so beautiful and unique. I ended up bringing home two small plastic containers full of them!

I’m hoping to do some fun DIY projects with my shells, but first, I wanted to share some of them with you!

Sand dollar pieces – so cool!IMG_1910

I love these ones because they remind me of sunshine raysIMG_1914.JPG

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These are one of my favorite kinds!IMG_1919.JPG

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These ones look like ice cream conesIMG_1926.JPG

Look how fun these are!IMG_1930.JPG

This isn’t even half of them! At one of the beaches, I stood in the water up to my ankles to scoop up handfuls and see what treasures were waiting! Have to do a little more searching to find the good stuff, even if it means getting your shorts completely soaked.

Does anyone else like to search for shells when they’re at the beach?