Wearing: Polka Dots for Life

wearing: polka dots for life

wearing: polka dots for life

wearing: polka dots for life

top: anthropologie (sold out), shorts: jcrew, necklace: f21, sandals: american eagle (similar)

This top: I’m in love. I stalked this top at Anthropologie waiting and wishing until it could be mine during their annual summer tag sale. I almost had a heart attack and cursed myself when it was sold out in my size online. Later I randomly visited my local Anthro and there it was: one left and in my size. It was definitely meant to be. Being on a budget can sometimes be stressful (really I have such problems). Maybe I should have titled this post “fashionista budget problems” though I’m not sure you’d call me a “fashionista”. But seriously, polka dots are my life. My love of polka dots cannot be confined to just clothes. In September I’ll post a picture of my classroom which I have decked out in polka dots. Nick and I are also registered for polka dot towels from West Elm. Seriously obsessed.

The only problem (if you can have a problem with such a beautiful polka dot top) is that the material is pretty heavy. I wore this top and shorts combo a Saturday or two ago when it was a pretty mild day. Actually this summer has been mild so far with a few humid days here and there. I, and especially my hair, are thankful for that. But this weekend, unfortunately, isn’t looking so great for summer fun. Humid, thunderstorms, and I’ve got a baby shower on Sunday. I love celebrating babies and all of life’s milestones with my friends but, without getting into it, this shower has been one issue after another. I’ll be happy the moment when we welcome the lovely lady and her bump into the party and get to shower her with gifts and can call it a wrap on this whole ordeal. Besides the shower on Sunday, I’ve decided to keep it low key and easy. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a break from life and be lazy. And wear some polka dots because they make life better.

Monday Links to Love…Tuesday Edition

grounds for sculpture

These summer days are just lovely and so lazy…which is why I’m posting my Monday links on a Tuesday. Now that wedding planning has hit a low, I feel like I’ll get back to my true loves: reading and writing. Oh and planning my classroom out like crazy! Sorry, sorry, I know nobody wants to think about September and back to school but a teacher’s mind never turns off. Hope you’re having a great week and a happy Tuesday!

* Thanks to The Happy Type for some inspiring words to start this week strong (even on a Tuesday!)

* Big cities may be my jam now but small towns have my heart, especially when they’re in Europe

* My new favorite online read is The Page Girls and this post perfectly encapsulates the love between girl friends

* Laughing and loving this checklist for opening a hipster bar

* Is it okay to buy yourself a summer hostess gift? Because I love all of these ideas from the Glitter Guide!

Healthy Living Isn’t So Bad

Healthy Living Isn't So Bad

If you’ve been reading my blog these past few months you know that I’m working to transition towards a more healthier lifestyle using the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan as my guide. I decided to write this post to catch you up on how it’s going and to share a little bit of what I’ve realized. Just a quick reminder: I am not the healthiest person in the world and I am not a professional at these kind of things. I like to leave giving out great healthy advice up to my trainers. But I do want to share a little bit of my journey towards being a healthier me and what I’ve learned along the way.

Now here’s the numbers: I’ve been tracking my weight since the beginning of the year and have lost roughly 10 pounds and lost about 8 pounds since starting the Nutrition Plan. While that may not seem like a lot, it feels like a lot to me. I didn’t feel like I needed to lose more than 10-15 pounds; my goal is to feel stronger and be healthier and happier version of myself. I also feel like I’ve lost some inches but stupid me was too lazy to take any measurements so I can’t know for certain. What I do know is that I have gone down one pant size and my shirts are much looser than they were before.

Now for the secret to my success: I finally realized that healthy living is a lifestyle. This isn’t counting points or buying certain meals or fifteen days of healthy eating followed by a gradual release back to life before. This is a change that will last well past this summer or this year and will go on until I need to change it, if that ends up happening. While I am not militant with my nutrition and exercise, I do work hard to make sure I am making the right choices for my body…most of the time. Eating healthy, working out, and overall taking care of my body are now big things in my life and that was the change I was craving. While it hasn’t been easy, I can say that my life has certainly been better. Here are some other things that are helping me along the way…

Healthy Living Isn't So Bad

1. Being healthy is a choice. Obviously, is what you’re probably thinking but sadly enough I wasn’t thinking this with my previous attempts to get fit. If you’re going to be healthy and lose weight and feel great, you have to really commit to it. Running a mile or so once or twice a week isn’t going to do it. Working out two or three times a week for fifteen minutes isn’t going to do it. Having a consistent workout schedule three or more days a week combined with eating lean, clean, and green meals every day of the week will make you healthy and help you lose excess weight. If you’re not ready to commit to eating mostly veggies and lean proteins while cutting out white flour, processed food, and sugar, then don’t do it. You only set yourself up for failure by starting off with only one foot in. You’ll get frustrated with yourself and potentially make some unhealthy choices trying to achieve the results you crave. Believe me, I’ve been there. Until May I made what I thought were healthy choices like eating veggie pizza and running on the treadmill once a week. That wasn’t cutting it. What made the difference for me was going heavy on the veggies and planning out a workout schedule each week. Don’t be afraid, just choose to be healthy.

2. Nutrition is key. I’ve never been a heavy or overweight person but I’ve always had a couple extra pounds that kind of weighed on me, if you will. I decided that the thing I was missing was working out so I started going to the gym and following a workout plan. Despite a renewed commitment to working out, those few pounds just stuck…until I made the right food choices. Eating lots of veggies and anything green while almost entirely eliminating processed and packaged foods has made the difference for me.

3. Make working out work for you. “I don’t like to run but I do it anyway.” I’ve heard this phrase too many times to count and it kind of makes me sad. My feeling is that you’re more likely to quit something if you don’t like doing it. Running is not my thing but the elliptical? I will turn my legs into jello on that all day every day. I also never realized how much I love testing myself with weight lifting and full body toning sessions. Variety is key. Just don’t give up before finding something that you like. Or at least something that you can at least tolerate a few days of the week.

4. It’s okay to slip up once in awhile. Being 100% healthy 100% of the time is the goal but if you make a mistake, it’s okay. It can be daunting if you’re anywhere on social media and read all this “What I Ate” and workout posts and you start to think that you’re just not doing enough. But if you’re working hard, trying your best, and pushing yourself, it’s okay to slip up once in awhile. As long as that “once in awhile” doesn’t become a habit, you’ll do just fine.

5. You can indulge, just not every day. Craft beers and food are a part of my life that I am not ready to give up just yet. Would I have lost more than 10 pounds by now? Yes. Would I be happy? Probably not. It doesn’t work for everyone, especially if you’re trying to drop some serious pounds, but I’ve found a healthy balance with my indulgences. I’ve found that I will only eat or drink something if I really want it which means no more faculty room cookies or Corona Lights.

6. Love yourself. The only way to change is to accept who you are right now. Isn’t that some sort of self-help mantra? But seriously, I used to beat myself up over what I ate and wish for a different body. But this is my body and I have to be proud of it and treat it with love and respect. I’m not confident all the time but I’ll make a muscle and realize how far I’ve come.

Healthy Living Isn't So Bad

 

This whole “healthy” thing has been hard work. As I said, I’m not the healthiest person but I’ve found a lifestyle change that works for me. I make good choices, I sweat it out most days of the week, and mostly I’m happy. That’s what I really think makes healthy living worthwhile: you feel good.

If you’re trying to live a little healthier too, what are some things you’ve realized or find helpful to remember?

Cupcakes and Beer Gardens

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a photo update of what I’ve been up to. But to be honest there would be two photos: one of the beach and one of my classroom. July hasn’t been much more than hitting the beach when I have a chance and teaching summer school four days a week. Not bad but a little low on the adventure. I decided we needed to remedy that and dragged Nick to Philly for some “wedding research”. And by wedding research I mean finding the Milk and Sugar Cupcakes truck so I could dream about having a dessert table. Besides devouring some delicious treats, the weather was too good not to hit up the newest crop of outdoor beer gardens.

Like I said, the main mission was to scout out Milk and Sugar Cupcakes and sample a goody or two. They were camped out at the Franklin Flea which was perfect since I could eat some sweets and shop for some vintage. I adore the Franklin Flea which used to be in the old Strawbridge and Clothier location and now seems to be floating around the city. Float away, Franklin Flea, because this time you had me take a stroll with my love through the beautiful tree-lined streets of Society Hill. Yes, we also scoped out where we might have our engagement photo session. I try to pretend like it’s not wedding all the time around here but that would be a lie. It’s only for a year guys.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

So excited to see my first mobile store in the cutest trailer!

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

My biggest regret about the Flea was seeing a pair of beautiful industrial-style side tables and not springing on them. We went to get a lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster’s set-up so I had a lobster roll instead of great side tables sitting in my living room right now. Oh well. I found brass hotel numbers in our wedding date to use somehow and tried to find a pair of antlers for our living room wall since I’ve convinced Nick that it may just work but didn’t find anything good. Then I got up the courage to pick just one thing from Milk and Sugar which happened to be my new favorite dessert: coconut pound cake. It was so light and airy that I’m going to special request that for my wedding.

Our next stop was the pop-up Independence Beer Garden which is right off Independence Mall. The only downfall to summer in Philly, the only thing that drives me to spend all my time down the Shore, are the tourists. They are everywhere and so confused. But the beer garden was a nice mix of people, if crowded. I love the design concept and also how huge it is; we just kept walking and walking and finding more things! If there had been less people and better seating we might have been tempted to stay longer but after one beer we were good.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

The most anticipated outdoor attraction for me this summer was definitely Spruce Street Harbor Park on Penn’s Landing near the Hyatt. Who wouldn’t want to check out a bar stationed on a barge? I love the concept but it turned out that we picked a day that was just too nice so there were a ton of people. The barge bar was extremely crowded but definitely something to check out. Rope hammocks hanging over the water and floating plants were amazing to see…but I could definitely get a beer somewhere more relaxing.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Now of course a perfect weather day would not be complete without a trip to Morgan’s Pier. While it can be sometimes sketchy, sometimes crowded but I just can’t give it up. I always feel relaxed watching boats come in and out of the marina while snacking on some delicious small bites with a beer in hand.

Summer Weekend in Philly: Beer Gardens and Flea Markets

Oh, Philly, my home away from home. While I may neglect you during the summer time, it’s adventures like this that remind me how much I love you.

Monday Links to Love

We heart it / Visual bookmark for everyone

* Instagram is my new favorite because there are people like this “gothic bake queen” who make my day

* Art + hip hop = amazing tumblr

* Nick and I aren’t taking a road trip this year but one of these routes is on my radar for next year

* Rethink homelessness

* Since I just started running again: five tips for preventing injuries while running

* A beer-based motel? Book it!

* And on that note, how about booking one of these other boozy destinations?

The First Wedding Craft! My Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Oh boy, more wedding planning stuff. I swear I have all sorts of blog posts cooking on the back burner but I just really wanted to share my very first wedding craft. Mostly because I’m super proud of them and also because this was one of the least stressful tasks I’ve done so far. Actually, if I’m being honest, nothing has been that stressful thus far. I mostly put the stress on myself trying to make everything perfect. I just have to remember that in the end, when I see Nick at the end of the aisle and celebrate with all my family and friends, it will be totally perfect.

Now back to my first craft: bridesmaid ask gifts. Since this will be my only wedding I want to take advantage of all the projects I’ve wanted to do for years and go all out (as much as my budget will allow, of course). Asking the girls to be my maids was probably something I was most excited to do. All over Pinterest I’d seen different ways to ask the girls to be your bridesmaids from wine bottles to engraved bracelets. What I really liked was the idea of doing a bridesmaid “kit” that gives the girls an idea of what my big day will be like. So I decided to do a bridesmaid box for the girls to open and find out that I wanted them to be by my side on the big day.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

The boxes I picked out were three dollar photo boxes from Michael’s. I wanted these because they were plain and I could customize them from top to bottom. Then I got comfy in front of the tv and hand-painted the stripes on and stenciled the monogram. While it did take awhile to do the stripes, I love how they turned out. Our wedding doesn’t have a theme but I am adamant about integrating navy and white stripes into the decor. So maybe stripes is our theme?

Inside I included a couple of cute things to get the girls excited and ready for the year ahead. I did $1 navy flip flops from Old Navy, coral nail polish, and a 2015 calendar which was a lucky find in the cheapie section at Michael’s. Now I have two bridesmaids who are not of age and two that are. For my girls that are of age I included a little bottle of raspberry sparkling wine with a striped straw. Everyone needs a little champagne and stripes in their life don’t you think? My underage ladies got a charm necklace which I promptly wanted to steal back for myself. But I was a nice bride and let them keep it.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Even though all the little gifts were cute, my favorite part had to be the notes I wrote to each girl. Two of the girls are my best friends from high school and middle school, who have been there through thick and thin. When do you honestly get a chance to write a love note to your girl loves? I feel like I probably need to do this more often.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

I did boxes for the girls I knew I was going to be able to see and ask in person. The fourth person is my beautiful cousin who lives in Texas and I decided it was better to just ask her and then send her something smaller in the mail. Flip flops are heavy you know! Plus with her travelling here for the wedding I wanted her to have something she could bring with her. I found a plain canvas bag and dressed it up a bit. I’m in love with how it turned out! Even though the bag was difficult to paint and even more to actual get it to the post office, this might have been my favorite gift.

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Bridesmaid Ask Gifts

Doing these bridesmaid ask gifts has me itching to start all sorts of wedding DIY projects. I know I say this now and in a couple of months you’ll be reading a post about how I need to outsource these crafts to someone else. But let me bask in the glory of a beautiful first wedding craft.

Monday Links to Love

clouds and castle jersey shore

Summer seems to be flying by in a flurry of wedding planning and beach playing. I’m a little late to posting today because we just booked our wedding photographers! That and I was lazy this afternoon. Bravo tv is just sucking me in this summer! I come home from morning summer school and all I feel like doing is watching some bleach blonde drama. Well, this is my official rallying cry to get off the couch and get stuff done! Happy (motivated) Monday!

* What type of friend are you?

* Habits fit people have that you can have too

* I’m trying to limit my wedding links but I think this is an adorable gift list for your bridesmaids

* This is exactly right: why kids don’t sit still in school

* I’m in love with this: freshman year of college, before and after