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.


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?

July 11, 2014

Take a Chance bracelet {Carolina Clover}

The third version of my bracelet series with Carolina Clover is now available! The "Take A Chance" phrase was a reader favorite and has become my mantra this summer. 

This summer, I've been expanding my company and planning out some new business and philanthropy projects. I'm not the type of person who naturally likes to take risks in my personal or professional life. Why? Because it's scary, uncertain, and it just doesn't vibe well with my Type-A personality haha. But I am learning with every project I start and every new life experience just how important it is for me to take chances. Taking chances sparks growth and possibility. When I read the biographies of the women and men I admire in all sorts of fields, one of their commonalities is that they all took a chance to make their dreams a reality. And this bracelet serves as my physical reminder of what I have to do, even when it's scary or uncomfortable. 

I hope that everyone who orders a "Take a Chance" bracelet will wear their bracelets and be reminded that the only way to get incredible results is to take strategic chances. I'm grateful for the chances I've taken this year and the outcomes of those chances. The three bracelets: Live Your Dreams, Believe, and Take a Chance represent powerful statements and lifestyles that have changed me for the better.

July 09, 2014

Keeping up with long term goals

Although I've been working on two lists with short term goals (Summer Bucket List & 23 to-do's), I have a lengthy list of long term goals that I'm working to accomplish as well. And those goals aren't as easy to accomplish. I often get questions from girls and women just starting to go after their dreams and want to know how to make them happen. Long term goals require special treatment, a particular level of energy and dedication, and a true passion. I also believe that some long term goals are better left unspoken and unshared with the public. But I will share that my long term goals are not just business-related. I have long-term goals for my personal life as well and those goals require the same type of attention and work as my career goals. Below, I'm sharing a few methods I've used to achieve long term (they take a year or longer to achieve) goals, and why I find them useful.

How to follow through with long term goals

1. Break them down into smaller goals or shorter deadlines | I find it useful to break down my long term goals into smaller goals that I hope will lead to the long term goal. A personal example of this is my long term goal of working for a politician or running for office. I have been breaking that goal down over the past few years. In college, I had goals of getting involved with student government and getting a political internship. By achieving those goals, I feel closer to achieving my long term goal even if I don't know when it will happen. Breaking your long term goal into smaller goals makes things more exciting and relaxed. Think about what experiences may guide you toward your long term goal, and go after those experiences until you get to the final destination! Reaching those shorter deadlines also helps build your confidence and serves as inspiration to persevere. 

2. Keep a goals journal/sketch pad | I keep two journals - one is a gratitude journal where I write down the aspects of life I'm grateful for, and the other journal is where I jot down my ideas and goals. I usually open goals journal twice a month - when I want to remind myself of my long term goals, and when I have an idea to help accomplish that goal. I also put a date next to my goals in my journal and write down when I hope to accomplish them. It's not a super strict deadline, but more of a plan.

3. Post them in a place you frequently look at | if journals aren't really your style, try writing or posting your goals in a more creative way. Inspiration boards can also double as "goals boards" with your goals listed among the inspiration. It helps to have your goals listed somewhere you look on a daily basis (bedroom wall, bathroom mirror, cell phone wallpaper, bracelet, etc.). The more you're reminded of your long term goals, the more they become apart of your life journey. Stay inspired and motivated as you work on your long term goals. This means surrounding yourself with positive and encouraging people, and speaking about your goals positively.

How do you manage long term goals?

July 07, 2014

Back on the healthy track!

My groceries for the week - pre-meal prep!; see a list at the bottom!

Confession. This summer, my eating habits have been all over the place. During the school year I stuck to my plan of "clean eating" for at least two meals each day, and working out regularly. Doing that helped me drop weight and just feel better in general. But the relaxing nature of summertime + traveling has relaxed my healthy eating consistency too. This past weekend I read several articles, learned more about the Whole 30 plan, and did a little social media stalking of my favorite fitness role models. And now, I'm back on track! I went shopping for low carb and low sugar foods to help me lose the final few pounds I want to drop this summer, and to help me get back to eating clean twice, daily.

Buying lots of different fruits and salad fixings (romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, or kale) makes prepping meals fun and easy.

For example, these fruits (strawberries, cant elope, kiwi, blueberries, cucumber) were a snack for me one day and a lunch for me (when mixed with spinach and yogurt dressing) another day.

I've also learned to love salmon - wild caught is the best to buy. I blackened this salmon in the skillet and ate it with salad (below), veggies, and fruit (on three different days).

This salmon + arugula salad was delicious!

And lastly, I have learned to love veggie burgers! When I have time, I make my veggie burgers fresh (see here!). But I recently discovered an amazing brand of frozen veggie burgers, Gardenburger. So far I've tried the Veggie Medley & Original - both delicious!

Here are the healthy groceries I got for the week (from Kroger), all of it for under $20!
(2) Frozen brussels sprouts, baby spinach, green salsa, (3) kiwis, (2) Veggie Medley Gardenburgers, blueberries, strawberries, (2) cucumbers, Yogurt Ranch dressing.

July 05, 2014

Veggie Pasta Salad

I hope you had an awesome 4th of July! I was a little worried about what I would be able to eat yesterday since I've been sticking to eating like a Pescatarian. But then my mom offered to make a vegetarian meal to take to the BBQ we attended yesterday. I suggested she make Veggie Pasta Salad. This has been my "go-to" side dish recipe since high school (when we were allowed to bring in food for class celebrations). What I love about this dish is that the ingredients are inexpensive, the dish can be made in a really healthy way or more indulgent way, and it's always a hit at parties!

Oh, and my dad made some salmon yesterday morning. So I couldn't help but add it to the veggie pasta salad…amazing! Check out the recipe for the pasta salad below:

Boil the following noodles until cooked:
Veggie Rotini
Rainbow Rotini

In a skillet add, then sautée:
Olive Oil (quarter size amount)
White Onion (chopped)
Red Pepper (chopped)
Frozen Peas (1 bag)
Frozen Corn (1 bag)
Frozen Broccoli (1 bag)

Sprinkle the following seasonings in the skillet:
Black Pepper

Salad Dressing Suggestions:
Poppyseed (what is used for this recipe)
Creamy Italian
Sweet Onion Vinaigrette 
Homemade (vinegar, lemon juice, cucumbers, herbs)

After the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the container you will serve it from. Then add the skillet's contents to the container with the pasta. Gently stir the pasta around so that the veggies are evenly distributed. Then, add in the dressing as desired. I usually use at least half of the bottle. Gently stir the pasta around so that the dressing is evenly distributed. Place the covered container in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. Enjoy!

Check out the grill at the BBQ we went to…I was so surprised & grateful that they cooked some shrimp skewers

Here's my 4th of July outfit - simple tank with jeans (that are getting too big!!).

I hope you are having a great weekend! :)

July 04, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

#flashback to Nautical Casual Friday

Happy 4th of July! The 4th is one of my favorite holidays because it's all about patriotism, family & friends, and food! I'm so proud to be an American and grateful for the freedom I have in this country to live my life and go after my dreams. We often take that freedom and independence for granted, but people in other countries risk their lives to get to America and live in this nation.

I'm spending the weekend with my family -- Atlanta is extremely busy this weekend because of the annual Peachtree Road Race. It's an awesome event, but I didn't want to deal with the street closings and traffic this year. This past week has been pretty busy at work and I've been trying to catch up on rest after a weekend away. So I'm spending this holiday weekend relaxing :)

I have some great upcoming posts & giveaways that I can't wait to share with you - stay tuned!

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

July 02, 2014

Weekend in Savannah

I spent this past weekend in Savannah, GA with my boyfriend for my friend Averil's wedding. The scenery, food, and memories from the weekend were fabulous and a great way to end the month of June.

Saturday, we had our anniversary lunch at Savannah's historic Olde Pink House. The house is so cute and each room is uniquely set up for dining. I ordered this salad - arugula, salmon goat cheese, strawberries, and poppy seed dressing. So delicious and fresh.

When our server found out it was our anniversary, she brought out this dessert plate - yummy and so thoughtful!

Saturday afternoon, we headed to the wedding which was at a beautiful church in Savannah. The reception was at a nearby yacht club, also gorgeous. My wedding outfit :)

I loved this dress, and got lots of compliments on it. It's a metallic color (blend of silver and gold) and was so comfortable. It's hard to find a maxi dress with sleeves that isn't sheer. I got it from DailyLook

The view of the water and boats was beautiful, especially around sunset.

With the bride! :)

Her wedding cake table was insane. They had a lemon, chocolate, and red velvet version of the wedding cake. I tried the lemon one and it was too good for words!

Sunday morning we headed to Tybee Island, about 30 minutes away from Savannah.

The weather was overcast, but it was so great to be on the beach for the second time in one month.

After the beach and brunch, we went to SCAD's museum in Savannah.
Our favorite exhibit at the museum was a dark room with red laser beams streaming from above.

Such a fun weekend trip! The drive from Atlanta to Savannah is one of the most boring I've ever witnessed, but arriving at our destinations made it all worth it! I'm not taking any trips until the end of July, but I am looking forward to attending another wedding in two weeks!


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