Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tax Refund Ideas

Hi, hello, how's it going? Sorry about missing y'all on Monday. But to make up for my laziness busyness...I have a fun post for y'all today. So I've mentioned it before but this is my busy season at work, tax season. Full disclosure this is my first year filing my taxes all on my own. My jobs before this were either a) Babysitting so I didn't have a W2 or b) an hourly internship that my Mom filed for me, thanks Ma!


Filing your taxes can be way overwhelming but utilizing the multitude of online resources makes it so much simpler. So when tax filing is easy you can spend more of your time focusing on what you're going to do with your return! I'm going to break it down into some ideas...

ONE: Practicality

Of course you can always use your return for practical reasons. This is a great opportunity to invest it so you put your money to work for you. Can you tell I'm in the financial industry? Ha! If you haven't contributed to your IRA for the year, this might be a good move. You could also use your return to pay down any debt, do that home project you've been putting off, or put it into savings for a rainy day.

Are these the most fun ways to use your return? Of course not. But sometimes it's good to be practical and use this as an opportunity to "get ahead." 

TWO: Experiences

Well it's no secret here that this girl LOVES to travel. I truly don't think you can put a price on exploring the world around you and taking it all in. I've had the opportunity to see some great places. For all my recaps look here:

My sister and I in Spain!

But experiences don't have to be expensive trips. They can be fun activities like amusement parks, zip lining, hiking, etc. Just grab some friends and put that money to work in your city. There are so many activities to get involved in.

Zip Lining recap here
One idea that I had for my tax return was a DIY spa day. I planned on going to my local spa and salon and getting a massage, a facial, and a blowout. You could always throw in a manicure/pedicure if you're feeling very adventurous! For those local to the Charlotte area I love Re Salon and Med Spa

THREE: Material Items

Of course you could always splurge and get some of those material items that you've wanted for awhile but just couldn't justify spending the big bucks on. If I had some money burning in my pocket I would splurge on these items...

I've been drooling over these TOMS Booties for awhile...swoon. 
I love this bathing suit so much. I'm on a one piece kick and I never want to look older than my age so I think this one fits the bill. 

I've been eyeing this beauty for a long time but can't pull the trigger because of the price.

I love a good jumper. It's cute and casual and an easy statement piece. I love the pattern and shape of this. It gives you some shape while still being cool for the Carolina summers, which by the way I'm already dreading. 

For me, I got a pretty good tax return this year because I was a student in 2015...thanks lifetime learning credit! I had original plans of doing the aforementioned DIY Spa day but a little furry creature grabbed my attention instead...

Gigi has sucked my tax return DRY but she's been worth every single penny. 

Overall, tax season is crazy for everyone. But instead of getting bogged down with the not so fun part it's best to utilize the resources available to you to answer any questions you have and/or file your taxes and spend the rest of your time brainstorming your refund treat :) Did y'all get good returns back? What are your plans with your returns? 

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Favorites

TGIF!! Can you believe it is already March 18th!? I surely cannot. I think time moves a whole lot quicker when you work at a desk job all day. Spring is in full gear here in Charlotte. It's warm during the day with the sun out and the mornings and evenings are cool. I love this time of year and would be perfectly okay if it was like this year round! But unfortunately, this will be short lived and the unbearably heat will be here. Sigh. Well, I'm soaking it up while I can. I'm linking up with Andrea, Narci, and Erika for Friday Favorites. 


On Monday I shared a day in the life of moi. It was pretty much an ordinary day for me...working out, eating, working, etc :) If you haven't had a chance to read it, check it out here! I've been working on a post that documents what I eat and how it's made me successful in weight loss, so this post gives you a little preview. 


 On Tuesday I got Kristin Cavallari's book. On Wednesday, I finished her book haha! I read it so quickly. I really enjoyed it. I've had a girl crush on her since back in her Laguna Beach days (aging myself, here). She has great taste, eats healthy, and is a business woman #girlpower

It's a really quick and easy read. I've been working on a book review post so stay tuned for a full recap!


I saw this post while mindlessly scrolling through Instagram the other day. It spoke to my heart because it's what I truly believe.

I know that someone out there needs to read this and someone needs to hear this. Your happiness is paramount. Nothing else nor no one else can make you happy until you love yourself. I talked about my revelation about this here. If you haven't checked it out, you should. I talk about how I'm dating myself and what impact that's had on my life. 


   Well, if you follow me on Instagram and/or Snapchat the "cat" is out of the bag! I have a new family member...

...Gigi!! Look at my little nug! Gigi fell into my lap. My friend, Sara, has a frenchie, Winston, who she (and me too!) adores. The breeder had mentioned that she had a 1 year old pup who she had purchased to breed but ended up being too small. She's out of the puppy phase, potty trained, and crate trained. I was intrigued. Fun fact about me...when I've made up my mind I move quickly. I'm very decisive and once I decided I was going to get her we packed up on Saturday to grab her.

She's pretty shy but at the same time spunky. She snorts like a pig when she's happy, when she eats, and even when she's pouting. She hasn't quite figured out how to tell me she needs to potty and she refuses to walk on a leash. Straight. Out. Refuses. But she's mine. She's my little piglet and I love her to pieces.

All the dog mama's out there...any tips, secrets, ideas, etc. I should know? I had dogs growing up but this is my first pup all on my own! I would love to hear any suggestions.

My weekend will be pretty low key. I have a lot of meal prepping to do, cleaning, adult stuff...blegh. But I also plan on spending a lot of QT with my little piglet. Oh how life has changed!! What are y'all up to this weekend? Are y'all having beautiful weather like Charlotte? Have a great one, loves! xo

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why I love traveling, and you can too!

Happy Wednesday! A few months ago one of my blog besties, Molly, reached out about me participating in her series on a color of our lives. I decided to share this post on my blog today as a little throwback and to reiterate my love for traveling. I hope y'all have a great day! xo

When Molly approached me about writing this post it was clear to me what I should write about...traveling. Traveling is something that defines my now 23 years of life. I've hardly traveled in comparison to the immensity of the world but that's something I hope to remedy for the rest of my life. So today, I'm going to share some of the places I loved!

I admittedly have not done the best job about traveling within the United States. But this past spring my college roommate and I traveled to San Diego. I fully recapped our trip in 2 parts here and here. Check it out! Some of the best spots from my trip were...

Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time and eating a delicious breakfast at Pacific beach...

...and visited the famous zoo...

...and walked around beautiful La Jolla.

If you get the opportunity, visit San Diego, I promise you won't regret it!

If you're looking to travel internationally Brussels, Belgium should be on your list. Brussels stole my heart with it's quintessential old European charm. The people are amongst the warmest and kindest I've ever encountered. 

The food is insanely delicious too!

If you're traveling alone or for the first time Belgium is a great place to visit. Most of the locals speak English, it is very safe and clean, and it's pretty tourist friendly. I also visited Brugge and Ghent while in Belgium as well. All of my Belgian recaps are here and here.

I've always beat to my own drum. So it wasn't surprising to me that when given the opportunity to study abroad in Russia for 2 weeks, I jumped. I had been looking for a short study abroad opportunity my junior year but could never figure out where I wanted to go. I didn't want to go to a typical place so Russia was the best fit for me! I would definitely encourage anyone to visit Russia. It was an incredible experience.

I've hit some of the highlight cities of Europe but Russia is such a unique culture. It's a completely different world and pace of life over there. It was so great to contrast my European travels with this trip. 

It's important to venture out and see parts of the world that aren't as polished and idealized. It's humbling and teaches you so much. I wouldn't necessarily recommend traveling by yourself to Russia though because it is a huge culture shock. It isn't as tourist friendly as other areas of the world. I skimmed the highlights of my trip here

I've also had the opportunity to travel to Spain, France, London, and Scotland. All of my trips enriched my life in some capacity. A couple of tips that I learned from my trips...

1. To set reasonable expectations. Traveling isn't always easy. It's expensive, exhausting, and challenging. Of course, it's one of the most rewarding experiences in life but it doesn't come without hurdles. I dedicated a whole post to touching on this. Check it out here.

2. Europe is a great place to visit because you can hit a lot of great cities and countries all within one trip. Utilize the trains that can travel within a country and internationally! I was able to do day trips using the trains. I talked about this tip and a couple others here.

3. Utilize staying in Airbnb. You get a larger space for a lower price! Also, it gives you a point of contact in an overwhelming new place. I talked about it in depth here

4. Pack a lot of layers and pieces that can be mixed and matched. Weather in Europe is all over the place. It tends to be chilly and rainy but other days its sunny and hot. You have to be prepared for all situations! Also, you're taking so many pictures that you don't want to remember how you wore yoga pants at the Eiffel I right!?! I unpacked my suitcase here

Well there are some of my tips and experiences with traveling! I hope that y'all took away something to help you or inspire you!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Day in the Life of a PostGrad

Good morning, friends! How was everyone's weekend? As always, the weekend flew by in a blur. Seriously though, how can the week crawl by but the weekends are done in a blink of the eye? So frustrating. 

So a lot of my favorite bloggers have done a Day in the Life Post documenting their everyday. A little back story about memory is horrible. I can recall the most bizarre facts about pop culture but I can barely remember life events from a year ago. This blog has become such a great place for me to record my life so I don't forget how magical the normality of life is. 

My life is pretty mundane and this post will prove it ;). I wanted to record a very ordinary day for me. Basically, eating, working out, and work is my life! Well here we go, a day in the life of this girl.

My alarm goes off at the ripe old hour of 5:00 AM. Don't get me wrong it's as painful as you would imagine but I don't want to let any aspect of my life "give" so I have to get up early. I give myself 5 minutes in bed to scroll through my social media and respond to any texts that came while I slept. Then I drag myself to the bathroom to use the restroom and record my weight for the day.

I wake up parched, always. So I always leave a full Nalgene of water in my bathroom to chug when I wake up. Keeping it real with this picture...bed head, no makeup, glasses, and super red, tired eyes. 

I trek into the kitchen. Boy, it's early.

First thing's first, coffee. My lifeline for early mornings.

I use a splash of almond milk in my coffee. 

While my coffee is brewing I pack my snacks for the day. 

Pre-workout fuel time. My absolute favorite Almond butter. I've tried a lot of different ones and this is my favorite. Also, the only ingredient is almonds. Love that. 

A banana with almond butter and cinnamon. My breakfast heaven. 

Time for some quiet time. I'm reading my pastor's new book. 

Reading it from my couch. 

My favorite line from my morning's reading. 

I decided to go get dressed in my clothes before coming back to eat and read my blogs. Will I make my bed this morning? Nahhhhh. See it pretty and all made in this post :)

I made sure my gym bag was packed. 

And that my work clothes were set out. 

Changed into my workout clothes. 

Then came back and moderated some comments from last night. 

And responded to everyone!

Checked my emails. Yuck!

Read some of my favorite blogs. 

Afterwards, I worked on my Friday Favorite's Post. 

It was time to get ready to go. I took my probiotic. I swear by taking this. Especially when you make a large change to your diet. It helps keep the good bacteria in your belly. 

Like I mentioned in my Workout Wednesday post, I park on the first floor of my apartment building and take the stairs up and down to get some steps in. So I head downstairs to leave for the gym!

I leave for the gym around 6:05 AM so the traffic is light and the sky is usually still dark. 

I arrive at the gym around 6:15 or 6:20 AM. 

By this point I've already drank my whole Nalgene so I need a refill. I told ya I was thirsty!

My bootcamp class starts at 6:30 AM so I have a few minutes before I have to be in there so I decide to walk to get some steps in. 

This is our workout for class. I hated every minute ;) 

The aftermath. My face is red and I'm sweaty. I usually have to stop around 7:10 AM when I work at 8. 

I shower and then start getting ready. Here I am sans makeup after finishing my hair. *I do have my eyebrows filled because I do that while my hairspray dries* 

I do my makeup and put on my clothes. The weather in Charlotte has been beautiful so I decided to go with some color blocking. 


Makeup is on!

 I head upstairs to my desk to get my steps in. 

Prepare myself mentally to talk with clients. 

My desk. 

My post workout meal is usually spread out through the morning while I work. It includes 2 hardboiled eggs, blueberries, and raspberries. This morning it also included a coffee from the cafeteria at my work because I was TIRED. 

 I recently decided to start tracking my macros so I was keeping an eye on that all day as well. 

 I went to lunch at 1:30 to my favorite place in the world, Chopt. Yummmmm. I usually eat half and save the other half for lunch the next day. It really holds up well. I think mostly because Kale is a little "sturdier" than other types of bases. And yes I just called a vegetable study haha!

That afternoon I have my afternoon snack. I usually save this for after market close at 4 pm. It's like a little celebration to myself that the day is slowing down. This afternoon snack looks different than it used to. I've been working with a health coach who's taught me that just a piece of fruit does you no good. The reason is that it needs to be paired with some protein to help your blood sugar stay more constant. It helps keep you fuller, longer. 

I had some break in the afternoon so I took a walk around my work's campus with my friend, Sara. But of course I forgot to take a picture, sigh. Then it was time to head home! Finally!

I was so happy that when I got home my package of Rx Bars were there! I've tried 2 already and have been pretty impressed. I'll do a review on them shortly. 

Keeping it real, nothing I had sounded good to me to eat for dinner. Normally, I would've made really poor decisions but this time I decided to give into my cravings somewhat and I had cereal for dinner. That rarely ever happens but it seemed like a treat because it was so different than my norm. I still kept my calories in check though by having Kashi Go Lean cereal with blueberries and almond milk. I really enjoyed it and it filled me up.

The night is not over for me! Time to study for the GMAT. I studied till about 9:30 pm. 

I headed home and checked my mailbox. My Essential oils came in! Thanks, Kimm!

No rest for the weary. Time to wrap up Friday's blog post. 

I then showered and got ready for bed. Set my alarm to do it all again tomorrow. 

And victory is mine...I killed my step game! 

I went to bed around 10:30-10:45. That's a pretty average, typical day in my life. It's pretty uneventful but it's my normal. What does your typical day look like? What should I add to my day? Thanks as always for reading, folks! Lurv y'all xo

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