November 23, 2014

Recently


It's been way too long since I've shared a check-in/update with me on here. This past week has been the most hectic, school-wise, and other life commitments have required my time as well. So please forgive the lack of blog posts, but I'm back! Here are a few things that I've been up to recently...

School
This semester I've been taking 5 classes while working at my graduate assistantship + an internship. Yes, it's been busy...and that's how I like it. My internship ended a few weeks ago, and it was a great experience that I'm so grateful to have had. My classes are going well, and I'm hoping to achieve one of my birthday goals of having a 4.0 semester. So that means I'll be spending these last few weeks organizing, studying, and praying!


Work
Speaking of work...my graduate assistantship involves planning three conferences for college students across the state, and one of those conferences was earlier this month. It went so well, and was so much fun! It's always great to see your hard work come to life, and see other people enjoy themselves as well. Check out the group selfie I took with some of the students above :)


Holiday Parties (already!)
I finally went to Sweetwater Brewery in Atlanta when my friend Alexandria invited me to be her +1 at her job's holiday party. It's such an awesome venue, and the food was delicious. We also had a hilarious Uber ride home...which always makes for an interesting night, right?



Babysitting
One of my friends from high school recently moved back to Georgia with her husband and adorable baby. I finally got to babysit him, and it was so much fun. He is such a sweet baby and didn't cry one time, lucky me!


Football
While my Atlanta Falcons team isn't having their best season, my Georgia Tech football team has been beyond impressive! I went to the last regular home game, and we beat Clemson! Now, Georgia Tech has been named as the ACC Coastal Division Champions and we're headed to the ACC Championship against Florida State University for the ACC title, so exciting!


Birthday Celebrations
I've celebrated several friends' birthdays this month, and most importantly I celebrated my dad's birthday last week! I helped prepare dinner (above) for him, and we invited friends and family over for dinner and just to hang. It was such a fun day, and I'm so happy I got to spend another birthday with my sweet dad. FYI, our meal included: asparagus, yellow squash, fried catfish, mango chicken, green beans, cabbage, macaroni & cheese, baked fish, sweet potato pie, and apple pie. It was amazing, and a great variety for a large group of people.


VKV Communications LLC
November has been the best month so far for my communications company, and that is so exciting but also a little frightening. I cannot say no to work projects because they are so much fun, and because I plan to spend 2015 really focusing on expanding my business. Besides photo sessions, I've been working on multiple logo designs, branding projects, and websites. The photo sessions I've done this month have been tremendously fun, and nothing feels better than hearing how much clients love their photos!  


So as you can see, November has been a busy, but beautiful month for me thus far! I hope it's been a great month for you too and that you enjoy Thanksgiving next week! I'll be spending time with my family, and enjoying some time off from work and school :)


What have you been up to recently?

November 17, 2014

NYE 2014 dresses {Tobi}


Last year, I did a series of posts sharing New Year's Eve outfit ideas for women and men and they were very popular. So I'm going to share some of my favorite NYE outfit options again this year. I stumbled upon the online store, Tobi, that has tons of affordable clothing options. I found a few of my favorite NYE dress options, all under $100!


Here are a few of my favorite Tobi dresses:






Sparkler Sequin Dress | $60 (also comes in gold and navy)




Which one is your favorite?


November 13, 2014

Health and fitness update

Eggplant tacos with cucumber, spinach, tomatoes, onions

It's been a while since I've shared my healthy meals on the blog, so here goes! I'm still eating clean or healthy for at least two meals a day. And since I hit my target weight and BMI last month, I've just been focusing on maintaining my weight and doing some sort of fitness every single day. It's great when eating healthy no longer becomes a chore and becomes incorporated into your regular life. When I remembered, I snapped some photos of some of my recent healthy meals:


Black beans + veggie crumbles | I love mixing beans with veggie crumbles because this mix goes great in tacos, salads, as meatballs, or in a sandwich


Black Bean & Veggie Crumble Tacos with Spinach and Yogurt Sauce + Brussels Sprouts


Steamed asparagus and brussels sprouts | I love topping steamed veggies with lemon juice


Herb Crusted Salmon topped with tomatoes + Asparagus 


Sautéed Coleslaw + Spinach, Onion, Apple Slices | this is a quick and tasty dish that's perfect to eat on-the-go or as a late night snack


Mushroom Salmon + Asparagus | I ordered this dish at Ra Sushi, an Asian restaurant in Atlanta. Very delicious and I will definitely be recreating this dish soon!


Salmon Burger + Sweet Potato Fries + Onion Rings | OK, not an actual healthy meal. I love this Grub Burger salmon burger so much, and was craving the sides.  And I wanted to share one of my non-healthy meals. I have a few of these throughout the week, and I have still lost weight. I just make sure to have more healthy meals than non-healthy meals and to workout twice as hard after one of these meals. 


Sautéed Spaghetti Squash + Cole Slaw + Onions with Lemon Juice and Green Salsa | I had these ingredients on hand and mixing them turned out great! If you love a spicy, but savory dish, you will love this.




Veggie Burger Tacos (I cooked frozen veggie burgers then tore them into pieces) with Tomatoes, Spinach, Green Peppers, and Yogurt Sauce | I was starving this day, and these three veggie tacos made the perfect post-workout dinner. 




I appreciate the emails and social media messages sharing how my clean eating posts have helped you on your journey to living a healthier lifestyle! I'm so much happier practicing healthier habits, and I hope that you'll feel great about eating healthier and being physically fit too. It's a challenge to begin with, but it's so worth it!



What healthy meals/snacks have you had recently?






November 08, 2014

New Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in {Decatur}


On Thursday, my friend Norquata and I attended the grand opening of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams' newest Atlanta scoop shop in Decatur Square! I'm so happy we got the invite to this opening event because I am such a fan of Jeni's ice cream. I'm a regular visitor of the Westside Provisions location, and I'm happy they have added a new location for the ice cream-lovers of Decatur. I tried two flavors I had never had before - the Sweet Potato and Torched Marshmallow + Wildberry Lavender (above).  And Norquata ordered the Cranberry Parfait Buttermilk + Lemon Buttermilk Tart. We both LOVED our ice creams. Checkout some photos I snapped during the grand opening:





I finally got to witness a waffle cone being made -- they make the waffles on an waffle-maker right there at the counter! And then mold them into cones.









Oh, and did I mention we met THE Jeni of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams?! She was super sweet and was on site, greeting visitors of the new location.

Thank you, Jeni's for inviting me to this special occasion!
xoxo







November 06, 2014

Applying to grad school {tips}


To say this semester has been busy is an understatement.  It seems like I have multiple assignments due in multiple classes all throughout the week, but I am grateful that I'm really enjoying my classes this semester. I've run into a few undergrad friends while on campus who have mentioned wanting to apply to grad school when they graduate. This is also a popular topic from readers who email me so I thought I would post a few tips regarding the grad school application process. 

Here are five tips for getting started on the grad school application process, based on my experience. I am so happy that I chose to attend grad school

1. Have a career goal(s) 
I think it's so important to have a career goal or goals before you select a grad program or decide to attend grad school. Otherwise, you may waste your time and money. I made a list of possible careers and then did some research to find out what types of masters degrees could lead to those careers.

2. Study for the appropriate graduate exam & sign up for it
Once you know your career goals, you should also know what type of graduate degree you are seeking. I am earning my Masters of Science in Public Policy, but some people go to grad school for their MBA (Masters of Business Administration), MPA (Masters of Public Administration), LL.M. (Masters of Law), and more. So figure out what degree you are seeking before you sign up for the general graduate exam (GRE). I took the GRE and did well after several months of serious studying.

3. Find potential schools/programs and look for professors/faculty who inspire you
 After I signed up for the GRE and started studying, I began looking for possible grad schools and programs that would help me achieve my career goals. Georgia Tech was immediately my first choice because I had such an enjoyable undergrad experience, but I still did research on other Public Policy/Political Science/Public Administration programs across the nation. I made a list of schools that I could apply to based on rankings, specialities, location, tuition costs, program length, and the faculty members' interest. Georgia Tech ultimately offered a great program that had professors and faculty that did research in the area of policy I am interested in, and I appreciated the familiarity of the campus along with the ability to start my program in January.

4. Look at financial aid options/graduate teaching positions
After having to pay for some of my undergrad college, I wanted to have a graduate experience that was paid for by someone else. And lots of people encouraged me to only attend grad school if I could get it paid for, great advice! My program offers teaching assistant positions and research assistant positions, and this is common at many graduate programs. I asked the program advisor about the likelihood of obtaining a position before applying and I'm so glad I did.

5. Apply!
When you have decided on a program(s) to apply to, check out their application and application process even if you're not ready to apply yet. Completing my application took me a couple of months. The hardest part is writing your personal statement and preparing for your interview (if your program requires this). Definitely give yourself enough time to complete the application (your graduate exam score is part of this) before the deadline. I had several friends who had completed a masters program read over my personal statement and provide feedback. I probably edited that paper 25 times before I was satisfied with it (and it was under the character limit).


See my posts on similar topics:

November 03, 2014

November Calf Raise Challenge {fitness}


I went to my college's homecoming this weekend and had so much fun, but I am very exhausted from all of the events! I'll definitely share a few photos from the weekend on here soon. 

Since November has officially started (insane), that means a new fitness challenge for the month. I love doing these and they seem to be popular among my readers interested in health and fitness. Finding and actually doing fitness challenges is a great way to stick to working out and enjoy it. This month, I'm focusing on sculpting my calf muscles. Little known secret, I do 10 calf raises twice, every day when I get out of bed and before heading to bed. They help keep my leg muscles strong and stretched. So I think it will be great to increase my calf workouts during the month using this plan I found on Pinterest. 

Great calf muscles make your legs look toned while wearing heels or flats. These may be easy, but you will definitely feel the burn!


October 31, 2014

Remember to Vote


This past Monday, I voted early for the first time. For Georgia, today is the last day of early voting and I highly recommend all registered voters to exercise their right and get out and vote! It's easy to forget just how important and special the right to vote is because for our generation it's always been possible. But there are people living today who at some point in their lives could not vote just because of their gender or their race. And in 2014, there are countries across the world where people are protesting, fighting, and dying for the right to vote for their leadership.

We are very blessed to live in a nation that allows everyone the opportunity to vote, so we must not take that for granted. Politicians and lawmakers take care of the people who put them in office and keep them in office, and our generation should be included in that group.

Don't forget to vote early or vote on Election Day!


October 27, 2014

Eating in ATL {Chattahoochee Coffee Co.}


A few weekends ago, my friend Jade and I wanted a change of scenery so we ventured near the Atlanta city limits to Chattahoochee Coffee Company, in the Cobb County area. A friend of mine told me about Chattahoochee Coffee Co. and described it as an amazing little coffee shop, nestled inside of an apartment complex that sits on the Chattahoochee River. After learning about it, I was determined to make a visit while the weather was still great.


Jade had never been to the coffee shop either, so it was an adventure for both of us! Getting inside was an adventure within itself. There was a short line to enter the complex and a few people ahead of us didn't know how to "get in" (see bottom of the post).


But the perfectly brewed coffee...and this view...made it so worth the 15 min. trip.


We sat near the river while we drank our coffee and caught up on life. And then we explored the nature of the property and got better views of the river. This place is beyond gorgeous for studying, working, photos, and small gatherings.


Seriously the most gorgeous view I've had at a coffee shop, and it's a short drive from Midtown Atlanta. Kind of like the coffee shop version of Canoe Atlanta.

When you get to the call box at the apartment complex, dial "101" and when someone answers, just say "COFFEE" :)

Enjoy!



October 24, 2014

Obsessed with these {H&M jackets and coats}

Burr, it's officially jacket weather in Atlanta. I have a few jackets and coats from last year that I still love, but I usually get one new coat/jacket each year to add to my wardrobe. Some stores sell coats for hundreds of dollars…but I prefer to splurge on other items. I have purchased my past few coats and jackets from H&M. And while not all of their clothing lasts for a long time, I have been really pleased with the quality of their coats and jackets and how affordable (most under $50!) they are! I was looking at their site last night, trying to find my next purchase and I wanted to share three of my favorites…as well of three of my favorite men's coats for my male readers!


These are three of my favorites!










For Guys
















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