My Happy, Healthy Morning Routine

My Happy, Healthy Morning Routine

Good morning! I thought today I’d share with you my morning routine, at least during the week. (Weekends tend to be a free-for-all for me – which only means that I’m not quite as strict.) This routine makes me feel so much better every day, and I hope it can do the same for you. 

I wake up within the same two-hour window every day, and go to sleep within a similar time frame every night. This helps incredibly with the quality of my sleep. I’ve found on days that I nap, I don’t sleep as well that night as I would have, had I stayed awake all day. It feels good and adult to wake up around the same time every day, and I certainly get more done when I wake up even though I don’t have to until later. It’s especially opened me up to more opportunities to read, something I’ve missed immensely. While I get ready, I listen to podcasts. Lately I’ve been enjoying NPR’s Up First, the NPR Politics Podcast, and Bishop Barron’s Sermons.

After I wake and dress, I let out the sweetest little Brie and take her for a half- to three-quarter-mile walk. When we return, I feed her and give her fresh water. While she eats and drinks, I head downstairs to the basement. My parents were generously given an elliptical a few months ago, and it’s been a wonderful addition to our home. I run a mile, sometimes two or two and a half, on the elliptical. Sometimes (usually on days I’ve only run a mile), I’ll use some weights after my run. (For those who are curious, my time is usually around an eight-minute mile.)

Once I’ve exercised, I head upstairs for a well-deserved shower. By the time I’m dressed, I’ve drunk two glasses of water. After my shower, it’s time for breakfast. My favorite breakfast lately has been fruit and two miniature bagels with whipped cream cheese. One week the fruit was bananas, and now it’s cherries. 

This is my morning routine for the past month or so. I really like it. I know I’ll have to modify it once I begin working full-time, but for now, I’m happy with it. What’s your morning routine? Let me know if you have any tips and tricks below!

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Secrets to Shopping without Buyer’s Remorse

Secrets to Shopping without Buyer’s Remorse

Have you ever gone shopping, either for something you needed, or just for fun, and realized that you’ve paid and come home with a lot of stuff you didn’t need or really even want – stuff that you wouldn’t have missed if it wasn’t there? I can’t say I’m innocent of this, though it doesn’t happen to me often. Here are my secrets for shopping without buyer’s remorse.

My mother, growing up, always told my sister and me that when it came to purchasing something, whether we were purchasing it ourselves or she was purchasing it for us, there was one rule: Either you loved it, or you needed it, or both. 

What does that mean? It means that when contemplating purchasing something, ask yourself, “Do I love this? Do I need this?” If the answer is yes to one or both of these questions, move forward and put down your hard-earned money. If not, don’t buy something that you’ll never wear or use that will just gather dust and eventually get put in a trash bag to take to Goodwill. It’s a waste of your money. 

Let’s break that advice down. Needing something does not mean “really really really wanting” it. Needing something means it will significantly improve your life and quality of living. You need food, shelter, clothing. You even need fun! If your favorite band is in town and you can spring for a ticket, do it! If you haven’t been to an amusement park since you were thirteen, go!

Loving something doesn’t mean loving it now, or ironically. It can be something that makes you laugh, but hilarity isn’t always love. By loving something, I mean that the item in question should be something that, were you to leave the store without it, you would be sad. Loving and needing something is the ultimate win!

The second secret is this: it is better to spend on experiences, rather than things. Let’s say, for example, that you were in Paris. Now, you could either buy an item from a boutique, or you could take a tour of a museum, gallery, or landmark (Being a DC girl myself, I’m horrified at the notion that to enter such places, there must be payment.). While you may love and/or need the item, if the choice is between the two, pick the one that will ultimately bring you more joy. Experiences and the memory of them tend to bring us more joy in the long run than physical things, though this is not always the case (Like if your dad buys you a necklace in Florence, reminding you of the trip every time you wear it.). 

The next secret is the best way to determine if you actually want something. This is not a need, but a want. If you’re on the fence, perhaps because of the price or any other reason, hold that item in your hand and walk around the store looking at other things for a few minutes. There are a few possible outcomes to this. The first is that you forget about the thing, look down at it, and fully fall in love with it. The second is that you forget about it, and when you look at it again you’re underwhelmed. The third is that the thing is always on your mind, whether in a positive or a negative way.

The last secret is something that saves me money every single time I shop. Especially when shopping with friends (Five Below is our usual vice), I know I for one can get swept up in the fun of it all and end up with twelve five-dollar items in my cart. The secret is, while I’m in line, I take stock of everything in my basket. If I’m eh about something, it goes. If I’m excited about it, it stays. Very quickly twelve things becomes six, and I save thirty dollars with just a minute of thinking and consideration. 

These are my secrets for shopping, especially for fun, that prevent buyer’s remorse. This way, you save money, and don’t have to go through the hassle of getting rid of something that you never loved or needed. You don’t have to return it, or donate it, or sell it. Happy hunting!

My Five Ride-or-Die Beauty Products

My Five Ride-or-Die Beauty Products

L’Oreal Waterproof Lash Paradise Mascara

This mascara is my everything. It makes my lashes longer, of course, but also makes them look so much thicker. It thickens them immensely, without sticking. After using it, my lashes are thick, yet separated. But the best part is the fact that this mascara will not go anywhere! It’s lasted through sweat, tears, and heat. Plus, the price can’t be beat.

Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara

Don’t be fooled by the awesome price of this brow mascara ($2.99!). It’s worth its weight and more in gold. I use a brow pencil first to fill in the more sparse areas of my brows, then swipe this brow mascara over them. The wand is tiny, which is great for a body part as thin as brows tend to be. The Make Me Brow Gel Mascara stays put like a champ, and it looks like it cost more than $3.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Norvina Palette

I saw this palette last year and immediately began to salivate. I’ve always loved the look of purple eyeshadow. The purple shades in here are excellent, though my favorite look to create with this palette is a bronze eye. It’s a pretty penny, but it’s worth the money – you can create a fun, or daring, or natural look, depending on the combinations and shades you use. It’s undeniably worth the money.

Maybelline Dark Circle Eraser

I know everyone in the beauty community worships at Tarte Shape Tape’s altar, but I’ve found that no matter how much I set it, whether with powder or setting spray or both, it creases. It doesn’t crease dramatically, but it’s also thick and doesn’t let the skin breathe. This, however, is thinner, yet provides natural but complete coverage on my ever-present dark eye circles. It doesn’t crease and blends beautifully into the skin. It isn’t too heavy or too matte. And again, the price is a winner.

Morphe Setting Spray

This is my holy grail beauty product. It’s the best beauty buy I’ve ever made. First, the spray is incredibly fine, and comes out like a hairspray, instead of landing in large droplets on the face and ruining makeup. I put this on in the morning before a shift at work, run around the store for hours, and still get complimented on my makeup, and also on how fresh it looks.

If I could only use five more beauty products for the rest of my life, they would be these. Of course, I hope I can use however many beauty products my heart desires for the rest of my life. What are your favorite beauty products? Leave them in the comments below!

Tampa

Tampa

Well, my travels continued this Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday morning, I flew from DCA to Tampa, Florida, to meet the boyfriend. I arrived a little after noon, and he arrived soon after that. I had to wait in the hotel lobby for almost an hour, but I had a good book and some Starbucks, so I wasn’t upset about it. I was too excited to be upset.

A brief interlude: I am so grateful to him for paying for my flights, and for the job he does that makes all this travel possible. Plus, he is doing what he loves, which is the best part of it all. It stinks that we’re apart so much, but I know he is happy, and I get to travel, so there are perks.

But I digress. Tampa was hot as Hades on Sunday. It was so hot and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky or even the slightest hint of a breeze, we abandoned our plans of walking the Riverwalk and touring Ybor City. We got lunch, and dinner, and hung out in the relative cool of the hotel suite in between.

Monday was our beach day. Love is not a strong enough word for the constant longing I feel for the sea. Maybe it’s based in the heritage I received from my mother’s family, who came from Naples in the 1920s. We picked up the rental car and drove about an hour to Pass-A-Grille Beach.

Pass-A-Grille Beach is south of St. Pete Beach, in the larger St. Petersburg area. If you drive there, drive down the coast until you can’t anymore. Right where the Tampa Bay meets the Gulf, you’ll find the spot where we set up camp. The parking is pay, but there was still a spot for us on the last day of Memorial Day Weekend. There is more parking down at that end, and less people.

There was a pier to our left, where the Bay met the Gulf. Just some hundred yards down the beach, people were packed next to each other, but we found a spot on our more sparsely populated stretch of beach to ourselves, with no one between the water and us. It was hot and sunny again, but there was a breeze that day. The water felt a little like bathwater – I would’ve liked it touch colder, but it wasn’t hot. The water was clear and turquoise, the waves largely gentle. We talked and played in the water, baked in the sun, and started the cycle over again.

We dined early at a seafood restaurant on the bay side, then headed back to the hotel, where we flipped between the last Lord of the Rings movie and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My flight was early the next morning – and delayed two hours, which I was notified of after arriving at the airport (you were supposed to text me, American!). I was still home by one, and went on my merry way to work half-past four.

Tampa was fun. We didn’t take as many excursions as we did in Portland, but I’m just so happy being with him that it didn’t matter to me what we did – with the exception of the beach. The beach is of paramount importance. Still, it feels glamorous and fun to jet off on little notice, even for two days at a time.

Springtime Reflections

Springtime Reflections

I love spring; it’s my favorite season. It’s beautiful, colorful, scented, and hopeful. The feeling that the air is warming, the sight of the lengthening days, affects us all. Spring fever is a reality. Mother Nature is reinventing herself, and as tenants of her domain, we wish to do the same.

Spring is a time of year (rivaled only by autumn) when the weather and temperature are pleasant, for the vast majority of days. Spring has something autumn does not: hope and promise. Autumn is the time of year where the Earth takes off her makeup, takes a shower, and gets into bed, leaving us with her often-cruel younger cousin, winter. Spring is the awakening of the Earth, and the time during which she gets ready for the day, which stretches before her full of possibility.

Spring cleaning is an excellent practice for starting fresh. It’s good to get all the dirt, dust, and general grime out of the house when winter is over. But don’t stop there – clean your car, or downsize your wardrobe, or throw out the things you kept because they might be important and turned out not to be. Doing a deep clean before the real heat sets in will allow you more freedom, because all the cleaning to be done for the rest of the season won’t have to be as in-depth.

Spring is a wonderful time of year, especially for those of us without allergies. If you are one of the fortunate allergy-free population, take advantage of the warmer weather to enter the domain from which you were barred for so many months: the outdoors. Feel the warmth of the sun with the lingering chill of winter in the air. Smell the grass being cut and the flowers in the breeze and the oncoming rain. Look at the growing verdancy, the blossoming colors, the little animals tentatively leaving their holes to go about their business. Take pictures. Touch flower petals. Breathe. Enjoy.

Monthly Goals for April

Monthly Goals for April

Hello! It appears another month has begun, and you know what that means. It’s time for the monthly goals for April!

I don’t know that this is a goal, per se, because the tickets are already bought, but I’m going to Portland, OR the last weekend in April to visit the boyfriend! I’m so excited; I’ve never been further west than Houston, and that only happened last Christmas. I love traveling, exploring new places, and learning new things. If you have any recommendations of things to do, see, eat, or drink in Portland, please leave a comment down below!

In the last week of March I lost four pounds. I don’t know if that was because I’d been bedridden from a bout of bronchitis where I didn’t eat very much, but I’m happy about it and proud of it. I’d like to lose two pounds a week this month. I’ve been eating like crap in the recent past, and I’ve been noticing the difference in how I feel. It isn’t worth it, and I have to remember that.

I want to look at my phone less, pay more attention, listen better, and read more paper books. My phone and laptop are crutches I use to escape being social, and I need to realize that not only do people like me, they want to hear what I have to say. I like to be listened and paid attention to, so I’d like to do the same for the other people in my life.

These are a few of my April goals. Hopefully I meet them. If not, I’ll try not to beat myself up about it. Happy spring!

The Italian Dream

The Italian Dream

I want to live in Italy. I don’t really care where, as long as it’s near an airport and not too far from the coast. It would be easy to do soon, given the boyfriend’s job, if I found a job myself. I am, by virtue of my mother’s lineage, eligible for an Italian passport and dual citizenship, which would make the whole thing so much easier.

I don’t think I’d like to stay there indefinitely, but then again, maybe I would. It’s a discussion I don’t need to have yet. I would love to live there, in “sunny Italy.” I would be alone much of the time, but I could make friends, whether citizens or expats or both. My Italian language skills have increased by leaps and bounds, and I know if I lived there I could even speak passably. My reading, writing, and aural comprehension are decent, I think.

I can only think of three jobs as a native English speaker with elementary-intermediate Italian skills that could help sustain us: tutoring, nannying, and/or freelance writing. Of course, if we wanted to stay longer, I would inevitably learn more of the language, and could perhaps get a regular job, but I think we’d eventually end up returning to the States.

Have any of you lived abroad? What did you do for a job? What did you like about it? What didn’t you? Let me know in the comments!