July 30, 2014

Meeting more ATL bloggers


Last Friday I marked another item off of my year 23 list when I met two more bloggers in real life! I've been reading both Chymere and Sheriden's blogs for a while now. They both live in the Atlanta area so meeting up was something we've all wanted to do, and it finally happened! 


The three of us had dinner at one of my favorite places in West Midtown, Figo. I ordered my favorite dish, their onion ravioli.


 Chymere got penne pasta, and Sheriden ordered their lasagna. I'm so happy they agreed Figo's food is delicious!


It was so fun and natural meeting with them in real life. I think everyone worries whether people are as cool as they seem via their blogs, but these ladies are really spectacular & sweet


After dinner, I insisted they try Jeni's Ice Cream, a nearby ice cream shop with the most ridiculous flavors.


Both dinner and dessert was so much fun and the perfect way to spend a Friday evening! I'm looking forward to another hangout with these bloggers, and other blogger friends as well :)


All photos via The Indie Byline - check out her post on our meet-up here!



July 29, 2014

Washington D.C. recommendations?

Photo via Google

After this year's seasons of Scandal and House of Cards, I have been itching to visit Washington D.C. as an adult. The last time I went to D.C. was with my family to see a family friend and I was maybe 8 years old. One of the coolest parts of that trip was touring the White House and briefly meeting President Bill Clinton. I don't remember much else, really. So I'm pumped to be headed to D.C. this week for my family reunion! We have reunions every two years and since I missed our last one, I am really missing seeing all of my family in one place. And what a great place to reunite!

I'm hoping to knock an item off my year 23 list (extremely wishful thinking!) by meeting the President.
And one of my grad school classmates is working in D.C. this summer and has asked me to take some professional photos of her in downtown D.C. and I cannot wait! As much as I love taking photos in Atlanta, I am always eager for a change of scenery for my photography projects.

It should be a nice trip to end the summer and awesome family time!

If you've been to D.C. or if you live in D.C., please share some places I should visit, things I should do, and where to eat during my stay!

July 28, 2014

Firmoo Tortoise and White Glasses {review}


This is my third review of Firmoo glasses (check out the first & second reviews), and I keep getting more impressed with Firmoo products and customer service. I've been wearing glasses since elementary school, and I used to feel like such a nerd and less attractive when I had to wear glasses instead of contacts. But over the years, I've learned to embrace wearing my glasses and feeling stylish in them as well. I also try to get a new pair every year as my prescription changes at that rate.

All Firmoo glasses come in a cute travel case and with a black travel bag.
I've been wearing my other glasses from Firmoo and my doctor for the past few years, but recently I've been wanting a new style of glasses. Firmoo asked me to review a pair of glasses and share their awesome, renewed First Pair Free Program. This program is just what it sounds like - free glasses for first time Firmoo customers. They know you'll love them and want to order more pairs (like me), and they know you'll share it with other people. My dad currently wears Firmoo glasses, and last week I shared the renewed First Pair Free Program with my mom! She now has Firmoo glasses being shipped her way :)

Wearing my new glasses on a work trip.

I absolutely love these new frames - they're tortoise shell on the top half and white on the bottom half. And I love how this unique, yet classy pair goes with pretty much everything. I've been wearing them around my house, to work, to meetings, and while traveling. 




My prescription is pretty tricky, so I understand being hesitant of ordering something like glasses online. But the great thing about Firmoo is that they are more than willing to fix any errors with the prescription or glasses, free of charge. Firmoo is one of the companies that truly practices quality customer service, and that's why I am more than happy to do product reviews for them whenever they ask!


Whether you're a prescription glasses wearer or not, I recommend Firmoo for your next eyewear purchase!




July 25, 2014

Eating in ATL {Antico Pizza} and Little Italia


Monday night was awesome. I had a date night with my boyfriend and we did several things on my yearly and summer bucket list - yay for new experiences! But my absolute favorite part about Monday was eating dinner at Antico Pizza in West Midtown. A little backstory: this place is minutes from Georgia Tech's campus and I've probably passed by it hundreds of times in my five years of living in Atlanta. I've heard of how amazing it is from close friends who visit often and from strangers, but I always avoided it because of the long lines I've seen and limited parking.

But Monday, all of that changed. We went to Antico around 4pm, and there were only a few other people in the restaurant and tons of parking. They actually have more free parking options than it seems, which is great to know (behind the restaurant and on surrounding streets). I finally got to try Atlanta's best authentic Italian pizza, and YES I approve!


Making a decision on the pizza we wanted was difficult because it all sounded amazing. So we asked the cashier for her recommendation for a vegetarian option. We went with the Pomodorini - fresh cherry vesuvian tomatoes, bufula cheese, garlic, and basil. And it was unbelievably delicious. Check out their entire menu here.


The restaurant set up is very cool. Several large wooden tables for family style eating and meeting up with large groups of friends...or meeting new friends at the restaurant. Oh, and everyone's favorite part about Antico...it's BYOB. People started rolling in around 4:45pm with coolers and bottles of wine, ready to start their own happy hour with some authentic Italian pizza.


Another cool thing about the restaurant is the open kitchen atmosphere. You can clearly see the chefs preparing your meal and go to the kitchen to grab some additional toppings for your pizza.


I mean just look at that cheesy goodness!


After eating pizza, we wandered next door to another section of Little Italy: Gio's Caffe. I couldn't resist trying some gelato! When I studied abroad in Spain, I had gelato several times a week, yum! The entire vibe of this cafe felt so European and relaxed, eating al fresco was a must.


I love how this "Little Italia" area is growing in Westside Atlanta and I'm happy to call this my neighborhood. Believe the hype about Antico Pizza and every other restaurant in this area...authentic Italian food that carb-lovers dream about!! Thank you, Gio, for what you're doing and please keep it up!





July 24, 2014

Love Notes | Indiegogo Campaign


One of my favorite blogger friends, Sheriden/The Indie, who I get to meet in real life tomorrow(!!), is working to make her dreams a reality by creating a docu-series called "Love Notes." Her series revolves around love and collecting notes about love along the way. She's posted about this project several times (one of my favorite posts on it here), and her readers, myself included are very excited to see this come to life! But she needs our help - read a message from her below.




Hi, my name is Sheriden and I'm the creator (and now editor, director, producer) of "Love Notes", a docu-series about love.

March 14, 2014 was a beautiful day for me. It marked the debut of a film project that has been brewing in my brain for a little over a year now. The series is called "Love Notes". And it is a docu-series that I hope will not only teach me a thing or two about love but anyone else who chooses to join along on the journey as well. It began with simple photographs acting as inspiration, evolved to written interviews, and now at its final and permanent stage is a series containing interviews. 

The response to the videos have been a lot more positive than I ever thought it could be, but I have hit a lot of roadblocks behind the scenes due to having to depend on myself to become a jack of all trades, which I don't mind because I wholeheartedly believe in the project, but unfortunately that takes funding as I do not have all of the materials necessary to push a finished product that I can be proud of, which is hopefully where you come in!


I love this idea and I am wishing her the best with her campaign! If you love what she's doing to support love, make a small donation to her campaign here!


July 23, 2014

Apricot salmon + salad


In an effort to make salmon as exciting as possible (since I'm still not eating non-fish meats), I have been experimenting with just about everything to flavor my salmon dishes. I cooked this Apricot Salmon the other day and this is one of my new favorites. This was super easy to cook and the sweet, yet tangy flavor makes this salmon the perfect addition to salad, veggies, pasta, or just by itself.


And I paired the salmon with some spring mix, tomato slices, and blueberries. And I drizzled some lemon juice on top for the perfect healthy finish.


Recipe for Apricot Salmon

Ingredients

Wild Caught Salmon Fillet
Apricot Preserves
Blackened Seasoning
Parsley
Black Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes
Lemon Juice


Instructions

1. Rinse the salmon with cool water. Cut into smaller pieces as desired. Remove the skin if you'd like.

2. Sprinkle on blackened seasoning, parsley, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to both sides.

3. Add a quarter-sized drop of lemon juice to a skillet once it's hot. Then add in the seasoned salmon fillets.

4. Once the salmon is in the skillet, scoop a spoonful of the Apricot Preserves out for each piece of salmon and smear it to cover the entire piece of salmon. Use different spoons or wash the spoon before putting it back into the Apricot Preserves jar.

5. Once all of the salmon pieces are covered with the apricot "sauce" flip them over to the other side to cook and add the sauce to the pan. Continue flipping the salmon until both sides are browned and cooked to your liking.

6. Add more lemon juice to the pan if it starts to get too sticky!

Enjoy!


July 22, 2014

Pretty roses table arrangement


Last weekend I went to my friend's (the one who is getting married in August and asked me to be a bridesmaid!) bridal shower, and I got to help set up some decorations before the event started.


My absolute favorite part of the decorations were the table arrangements we did using the following:
Bouquet of roses with baby's breath
4 white candles
2 wine glasses
2 glass cups
Plastic Crystals


We used the wine glasses and cups as "containers" for small pieces of baby's breath and crystals. And they also doubled as candlesticks!


We cut the rose stems in half and added in the baby's breath to the clear bowl with water. And we added in some crystals to the bottom of the bowl for the sparkly effect!

July 21, 2014

Ending a summer internship successfully {tips}



As much as I hate to admit it, summer is coming to an end. Which means, my summer internship will be over before I know it. And I know some of my readers are busy working internships and fellowships this summer as well. This is my fourth summer internship/job and I plan to end it the same way I've ended the other ones. The way you end/leave a job is just as important as the way you start because it's the last impression you'll make on your employer and co-workers.

Here are five suggestions for things to do during your final days of your summer internship to ensure it's the best experience possible.



Thank you notes
Thank you notes are a dying practice, which makes them very special. I've written about the value of thank you notes before, and they are truly a classy touch when leaving a summer internship. Handwritten, personal little notes to your boss(es) and co-workers is a great way to show your appreciation for your summer internship experience and show the people in your office your level of professionalism, even as a student.

Request feedback
If you haven't already asked your supervisor/boss for feedback on your performance during the summer, now is the time! Really great supervisors will typically freely offer feedback and constructive criticism before your last day. But if she/he doesn't, reach out and find out how well you did. It's great to ask how your boss perceived your work ethic, attitude, organization, potential for succeeding in the field, strengths, and weaknesses. The negative comments will be just as beneficial as the positive ones. 

Get contact information
Hopefully you've gotten to know your co-workers and boss(es) this summer to the point that you would feel comfortable asking them for a reference letter or connection once your internship ends. But in order to do this, you need to get contact information. Before ending an internship, I make sure to get the emails and phone numbers of the people I have worked with and let them know they can contact me if they need anything.

Finish strong
You know how on the last days of school everyone has the "I don't care, I don't care" attitude? People sometimes have that same attitude on the final days of work. I've heard of people not responding to emails, showing up late, leaving projects unfinished, and just sitting around on their final days of work. This is probably the worst thing you could do at the end of an internship/job, and believe me...your employer will notice your behavior. I always encourage people and myself to finish strong. This means showing up on time on the last days and leaving your mark by being an excellent employee until the very end.

Reflect on the experience and prepare for the next chapter
After participating in several on campus organizations in college, I have learned to love the practice of reflection. I don't consider an experience complete until I have honestly reflected upon it. When I finished my fellowship last summer, I wrote this post to reflect but also reflected in personal ways as well. It's not necessary to write down your thoughts or lessons learned, but communicating them somehow is so helpful. I still look back on old reflections before starting new experiences so that I don't repeat mistakes and I go into new environments stronger. Think about the good and bad times from your internship, what you learned about yourself and about the field of your internship, and what your internship has prepared you for.

And these tips go for any job or life experience that may be seasonal. Ending things on a good note makes the next chapter that much sweeter.

July 18, 2014

Back on the healthy track {part 2}


It feels really good to be back to eating clean and healthy meals twice a day. I'm currently out of town for a work trip, but I wanted to share this post since I've gotten lots of emails asking for help with shopping for healthy foods on a budget. I totally understand. I'm sharing a few of my favorite meals from this past week along with some of my shopping secrets for getting great healthy foods without breaking the bank. 


Fruit blend: Ice (free), cantaloupe ($1 for whole cantaloupe), strawberries ($2), blueberries ($1).


Cantaloupe ($1 for whole cantaloupe), blueberries ($1), Gardenburger veggie burger ($2.75 for pack of 6 burgers). I told you in my last healthy foods post how much I love these frozen veggie burgers. I cook them in the skillet for a few minutes to give them that "grilled" effect. So good!


Sautéed cauliflower ($.99 for frozen bag of cauliflower), green beans ($.50 for canned green beans). I made this meal out of desperation for some clean veggies. These were the first two veggies I spotted and I figured I would try them together. I cooked them in a skillet with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and some basil.


Cauliflower & green bean mix with a veggie burger (all drizzled with lemon and lime juice). These veggie burgers have become my favorite "meat" with a fruits/veggies at lunch time. It's a delicious combination and I'm satisfied after eating it without the overly full feeling.

Tips for easy, cheap, and tasty healthy meals
Try buying frozen veggies (a lot cheaper, last longer, don't have preservatives like canned foods).

Freeze any fresh fruits/veggies you don't use (for same reason).

Find a cheap healthy food item you enjoy and use it in your meals throughout the week (kale, brown rice, black beans, tomatoes, avocados, squash, sweet potatoes, cucumber) all of these are typically $.99 

Shop for fruits and vegetables at market places or international markets for lower prices than the average grocery store.

When a fruit/veggie item is in season and is on sale, try it & buy it! This is a great way to expand your healthy eating horizon and save money.

Buy a bag/bundle of some sort of greens (spinach, mixed spring, kale), a lemon or lime (dressing), and you can add any type of vegetable and/or meat to this easily for a salad during the week.

Buy healthy "toppings" too add onto foods throughout the week such as (fruit salsa, lemon juice, lime juice).

Do all of your cooking/prepping on one night so that you can quickly grab meals throughout the week.

Alternate between fruit blends, fresh fruits, and fruit toppings to keep things interesting.

Use leftover fruits to infuse your water with for a refreshing drink.

Use blended avocados and tomatoes instead of fatty condiments and pasta sauces.

Don't feel guilty when you have a non-heathy meal. I'm still just focusing on eating 2 clean meals a day + working out to keep toning up and losing weight.


July 16, 2014

Beyonce + Jay Z "On The Run" Atlanta show {review}


Last night I knocked an item off my bucket list by seeing the one and only Beyonce!! I went to a Jay Z concert a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Honestly, I don't even consider myself a "stan" or member of the "Beyhive," but attending this concert really increased my love and admiration for Beyonce, Jay Z and them as business & life partners. I attended their Atlanta show for their "On The Run" Tour and it was an incredible two hours.


My hair and makeup were inspired by Beyonce.


And so was this outfit and Instagram post ;)


I went to the concert with my roommate and we used Uber to get there in order to avoid crazy parking fees and traffic.


The show started around 9pm (about an hour after it was supposed to), but we did lots of people watching while waiting for J + B to come on stage. The entire show was a massive production filled with short clips, out-of-this-world graphic elements, outfit changes, talented dancers, and classic music. This was the first show I had been to that did not have an opening act nor any surprise guest performers. I guess when you're Jay Z and Beyonce those elements aren't necessary! 


Beyonce is such a talented woman. She sang 25+ songs/snippets from all of her solo albums, a few snippets from other artists, some of the lyrics to accompany Jay Z on his songs, and danced (in heels) during it all! Whew, I was in awe just watching her. She definitely interacted with the crowd and performed based on the crowd's response. Her voice sounds fantastic in person and trust me, she does her own stunts! Lady is in serious shape.


Jay Z also performed 10-12 of his personal hit records and the crowd went crazy. I was happy to see there were lots of Hova fans present as well. But I think everyone's favorite moments from the concert were seeing J + B perform together. Their on stage chemistry is undeniable and we have to hope it's because their off stage chemistry is so strong. They acknowledged each other's talent and fed off of each other while performing. While watching I kept thinking what an insane duo these two were and then when I remembered that they're married and have a child, it made the performance feel even realer.


video

But my absolute favorite part of the show was toward the end when B + J sang "Forever Young" and "Halo" together while they showed unreleased home video footage of themselves, baby Blue, Beyonce's family, and their special family moments. It was really special to watch the video with them because B + J were turned toward the big screen watching, smiling, and singing background music that made the on screen moments come to life. This concert will definitely serve as a highlight of Summer 2014, and I highly suggest that if you have a chance to see Bey and Jay live, you take it!


"If you have a dream, I suggest you start chasing it...NOW." - Jay Z #OnTheRunTour

July 15, 2014

Atlanta Dream basketball game {review}


Sunday night, I had the chance to attend my first Atlanta Dream basketball game! The Atlanta Dream is Atlanta's women's professional (WNBA) basketball team. I played basketball from elementary school until 10th grade so it's definitely one of my favorite sports to play and watch.


I went to the game with my roommate, Alexandria. It was also her first time going to a Dream game which made it a fun experience for us to share. The Dream played against the Chicago Sky, another good team.



We had great seats, a few rows behind the Dream's bench. This game was at Georgia Tech, which was cool because I've been to many college games in that gym (and I graduated on that floor!). So watching professionals play at my school was exciting.


The game was really close from start to finish. In fact, the game went into overtime since both teams were tied 73-73 at the end of the fourth quarter. And we loved how they provided additional entertainment during the game to interact with fans. Dream games seem to be a popular event for families and large groups of kids, so the "in-between" plays activities are fun and kid-friendly. And, they honored an inspirational woman during one of the breaks, which was also very powerful and great to see. The half time performance was also awesome and interactive. 


I wasn't sure what to expect at this game versus the NBA games I've been to, but the Dream game was just as much fun as the NBA games I've gone to in Atlanta!


After an intense overtime period, the Dream came out on top to win the game! It was a nail-biter and really had me on the edge of my seat cheering and hoping for the best for my city's team. This was such a great game to attend and I'm really happy the Dream won! These games are great for a night out with friends, date night, summer camp field trips, and family nights. If you're free on the night of a game, I definitely recommend attending!




2 Atlanta Dream Tickets {c/o Atlanta Dream}

July 14, 2014

The wonders of walking


Walking really works wonders. The other week I met up with my friend Shelby at Piedmont Park to walk and chat. Honestly, I was dreading the environment of this hangout because I have never enjoyed outdoor summer activities in the past. But after our first lap, I felt incredible

Walking 10,000 steps each day = about 500 calories burned each day = about 1 pound loss each week. For the past two weeks, I've been walking at least 10,000 steps a day and to track my steps I've been using the steps counter on the myfitnesspal application for iPhone. I love this feature of the app because every time I look at my phone, I can check the progress of my steps.



Walking around Piedmont with Shelby also helped me cross an item off my ATL Summer Bucket List, yesss! This hangout turned out to be such a fun and healthy time, and it inspired me to start walking more often. Here are some ways that I've incorporated more walking into my daily life:

  • Meet up with my friends to walk somewhere and then get a healthy snack/meal afterward
  • Walk around my neighborhood or the hallways of my apartment complex
  • Take the steps in my work building instead of the elevator
  • Walking around the office before and after my lunch break
  • Walking to my co-workers' desks instead of emailing/IM'ing
  • Walking from class to class instead of taking the bus
  • Walk with a friend to a lunch/dinner spot nearby instead of driving
  • When shopping at  the mall (or Target), walk around the entire building

How do you incorporate physical activity into your daily life?

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