Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Eating in ATL {Aja Restaurant & Bar}

Last Friday, I went to dinner with my friend Norquata at a place neither of us had been to before - Aja Restaurant & Bar. I always pass this place when I'm leaving the Buckhead area, and I have heard good things about it. I'm a big fan of Asian food, and always down to try a popular Asian restaurant. We went on a really rainy night, so it wasn't super crowded, but it typically is and reservations are encouraged.

First of all, the space is ridiculously big. People are always asking me for suggestions on places to have group dinner parties - Aja gets my vote! Not only is there space on the dining room floor for large groups...

But they also have this fancy VIP dining space that overlooks the rest of the restaurant, so cool!

I was starving when we got there, so I ordered veggie spring rolls to start with. These were so tasty, fresh, and light. I love when food tastes delicious and healthy.

Norquata started with an order of crab rangoon, and also agreed that the food tasted very good and light.

For her meal, Norquata ordered chicken fried rice and it came in a GIANT bowl. Seriously this is enough chicken fried rice for four people, so if you order it be aware. And she ordered the surf and turf sushi, which she also said was very good!

I ordered the coconut shrimp with pineapple fried rice because the menu description sounded delicious. And this was SO good! I wanted to eat the entire thing that night, but I forced myself to take some to-go and enjoy it later. The shrimp's flavor was spot on and the fried rice had the same light taste as the other food I had eaten.

We had so much fun and enjoyed our dinner at Aja! I'm loving these Friday nights with friends at new places in Atlanta :)

What's your favorite Asian food dish?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tips for surviving the final weeks of the semester

I have officially reached the last few weeks of school! As exciting as that is, school gets crazier and busier as the time winds down so I am in work mode all week long. And like most college students/grad students, I have other responsibilities to handle these last few weeks as well.

However, after 8+ semesters of college, I've figured out many ways to survive the most hectic weeks of the semester. I want to share 4 of my favorite tips, and I hope they will help you succeed and finish up strong! I am aiming for a 4.0 semester, so I have to do well on these final class assignments.

4 tips I use for surviving the last weeks of the semester (high school, college, grad school, etc.)

1. Organize and plan ahead - I know I mention organization all of the time, but being organized and planning ahead seriously has helped me every semester of college! It's so important to find an organization method that works for you, and to know what your schedule looks like during the final weeks of school. Everything can become really overwhelming if you don't. Check out this post on planning for a busy week of college here.

2. Stay motivated - Confession: last week I was chillin' super hard, as if I was already on summer vacation. My motivation has just plateaued. It was a combination of coming back from Spring Break and very full weeks that just made me want to stop doing work altogether. But that is the best way to ruin all of the hard work that you've already done this semester. I had to find motivation to focus my energies back on my school work and really buckle down. I find motivation in reading articles on inspirational people, reading my gratitude journal, flipping through my agenda and physically seeing how much I've already done in one semester, and by reading the bible and other inspirational messages. 

3. Change your environment - At this point in the semester, my typical work/study space becomes all too comfortable. I usually like to study at my apartment, but during the final weeks of school I have to change my study space to somewhere on campus (where I know I won't fall asleep or start watching Bravo). The library can be a war zone during the last few weeks of school, so I try to avoid that building altogether. But I do find quiet study spaces in random buildings on campus and get lots of work/studying done in that environment.

4. Find an accountability partner - This can be difficult, but extremely helpful. I only have a couple of friends who I know are willing to stay up late or wake up early to study/do work during the final weeks of school. And I appreciate those friends so much. They motivate me to stay focused, stay organized, and stay confident about my abilities. These are also great friends to vent to during these last few weeks because they will totally understand where you're coming from :)

And if it's already final exam week for you -- check out this popular posts:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter! How do you celebrate?

Easter is one of my absolute favorite holidays! I always spend it with family, at church and then eating a delicious meal. As a Christian, this holiday means so much to me and my faith and I'm very grateful for Jesus.

One of my new favorite Bible verses:

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect"
1 Peter 3:15 NIV

Easter means that my fast of giving up meat is also over. It's been a life-changing experience to eat like a pescatarian since March 1. I'm honestly still debating if I will go back to eating meat because I've enjoyed this lifestyle change.

If you participated in Lent, what did you give up? And how are you spending today?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cleaning out my closet

I'm spending most of today on starting a project that will likely take a few months to complete…revamping my wardrobe! This is on my list of things to do during year 23, and I'm excited to take on the first step: cleaning out my closet.

Ok, so technically I haven't really gone through my closet since I moved in (almost two years ago!). I know I have items that I don't wear, don't need, no longer fit right, etc. And today I'm going through those items to clean out my closet and only keep what I want to take with me into this new "grown up" style.

I'll be donating most of the items, and selling some popular items to consignment stores.

Here's how I'm cleaning out my closet:
1. Taking on different parts at different times - Shoes, accessories, tops, bottoms, dresses, coats/jackets/sweaters, t-shirts. I'm doing half of these items today and the other half next week. I think doing it all at once can be overwhelming and you're less likely to get rid of everything you should if you have to do it all at once.

2. Shoes - I'm eliminating shoes if:

- They don't fit
-They're worn out
-I never wear them
-They're uncomfortable
I keep in season shoes out on the floor (see above) and out of season shoes in a large plastic blue box that I got from Target.

3. Accessories and tops - I think accessories are very versatile so I have trouble getting rid of these. But I'm eliminating belts and scarves if they're worn out or if I never wear them. And I'll pack up my winter scarves into a box once Atlanta's weather gets stable!

When it comes to tops, I am separating them into winter and summer tops. I am not going to go through my winter tops right now, but I will toward the end of summer. They will go in a storage box, similar to the shoe box. I am eliminating summer tops if:

-I never wear them
-They don't fit right
-They don't fit the adult wardrobe I'm going for
-I think I can sell them and buy a top I like more

4. T-shirts - Every college student/grad probably has a ridiculous collection of t-shirts, and I'm no outlier! While I do wear t-shirts to sleep in and workout in, there are some shirts that I never wear. I'm packing those up and they will be used in the t-shirt quilt I want to sew with my mom (hopefully this summer!). Here are other fun/interesting things to do with t-shirts.

5. Dresses and skirts - I still have some dresses from high school! And while they may still fit, I know that I should get rid of them because I don't wear them. First, I'm separating my dresses into fall/winter dresses versus spring/summer dresses, and I'm packing up the fall/winter skirts and dresses into a box. Then, I'm going through the spring/summer skirts and dresses and eliminating them if:
-They're too short
-They don't fit right in other areas
-They are out of style
-I never wear them
-They don't go with the new style I'm going for

6. Jackets and coats - These are also difficult to get rid of, but they take up so much space in my closet! I definitely need some new grown up coats and jackets so I know I need to get rid of the ones I have now. I'm making sure to keep a light jacket, heavy jacket, the blazers I wear the most, and a rain jacket. I'm eliminating jackets/coats/sweaters if:

-The arms are too short
-They're too short or too tight overall
-They are worn out
-I never wear them
-They don't go with the new style I'm going for

7. Everything else - if I haven't worn it or even considered wearing it in the past few months, I'm getting rid of it. It feels great to get rid of the old, and make room for the new. I also know that there are people who will appreciate my clothing donations.

Once I'm all finished cleaning and organizing, I'll be sure to share an update!

What are some other tips for cleaning out your closet?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Grad photo sessions

Part of starting/running your own business involves making sacrifices. And recently my communications business has been taking up a large portion of my schedule.A Consequently, I haven't been able to blog as often as I would like to blog. But, things are calming down and I have some fun posts scheduled for the rest of the week and the weekend :)

The busiest aspect of my business has been VKV Photography. I've been having tons of fun taking photos of graduating seniors at Georgia Tech! These photo sessions are such a special way for these seniors to celebrate their upcoming graduation and to create lasting photo memories. With multiple photo sessions every week and weekend, I've been spending most of my typical blogging time on photo editing and business. I am beyond grateful that I get to spend my time doing something that I love, and something that makes other people happy. God is good.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kale salad with strawberry stuffed salmon

Mondays are usually my least favorite. But today was pretty great overall. I only had one class this morning and I spent the rest of the day resting, catching up on emails, editing photos from sessions this weekend, and working on some school essays. After all of that, I decided to make a quick healthy meal because my body was craving something nutritious. Kale salad with Strawberry Stuffed Salmon was a great idea.

This meal took me 10 minutes to prep, that's it! And this was the best kale salad I've ever had. As usual, the ingredients were inspired by…whatever I found in my fridge. That always sparks creativity.

I made enough for dinner tonight, lunch & a snack tomorrow.

Salad Ingredients
Kale (half of a bunch, chopped)
Strawberries (4)
White mushrooms (handful, chopped)
Broccoli slaw (1 cup)
Asparagus (5, chopped)
Black pepper (sprinkled)
Basil (sprinkled)
Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing

Salad instructions
Rinse ingredients then add to the bowl
Sprinkle Mozarella cheese on top

Strawberry Stuffed Salmon Ingredients
Salmon (1 fillet)
Strawberries (1 cup)
Black pepper
Lemon pepper
Raspberry Vinaigrette (2 teaspoons)
Worcestershire sauce 

Strawberry Stuffed Salmon instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Rinse salmon filet with cool water
3. Place on aluminum foil
4. Rinse and slice up half of the strawberries and smash the other half in a bowl/cup
5. Place the cut strawberries around the salmon on the foil
6. Pour 2 teaspoons of raspberry vinaigrette and 2 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce on the salmon
7. Evenly cover the salmon with seasonings (black pepper, lemon pepper, basil, curry)
8. Bake in the over for 15-20 minutes 
9. Cut into the salmon in different areas to add in smashed strawberries (strawberry filling)
10. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through


This salad was so yummy and just the healthy meal I needed to start the week! If you love kale, strawberries, salmon, or all of the above like I do -- try this!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Skylounge at Glenn Hotel and Glenn's Kitchen in ATL

After being in Boston all last weekend, it's been great to be home in Atlanta this weekend. I spent most of Friday doing work for my communications firm and I had a really fun photo session with two graduating seniors! Then Friday night, I went to dinner (with a view) with one of my best friends, Jade. Once we made dinner plans, I searched for somewhere that neither of us had been and somewhere with a great view of the city.

I thought Glenn's Kitchen and the Skylounge at Glenn Hotel would be the perfect spot to grab dinner then drinks on the rooftop, and Jade agreed! I made reservations (which is always a great idea when dining out in ATL during the weekend).

First we had dinner on the main floor at Glenn's Kitchen.

 Jade ordered a salad with a side of grilled chicken, and she enjoyed all of it!

I ordered the vegetarian risotto with a side of shrimp, and my meal was also really satisfying!

After dinner, we took the elevator upstairs to the Skylounge and ordered Arnold Palmer cocktails while sitting beside very large windows overlooking downtown and midtown Atlanta. #Perfection

The view from all sides of the rooftop = amazingggg. I will definitely be returning to the Skylounge at Glenn Hotel during the summer. Nothing better than good food, great drinks, and a spectacular view of Atlanta.

I'm planning to visit every spot in Atlanta with a view during the summer, so get ready for those posts!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eating in ATL {Verde Taqueria}

The other week, my roommate and I went to dinner at Verde Taqueria in West Midtown. I had driven by this place three times and every time I drove by the parking lot was full (a sign of a great spot in ATL). So I was very excited to finally try it out!

We went to the Westside location, but there is also a location in Brookhaven with a great patio.

We ordered queso, and this was some of the best queso I've ever had! Perfectly seasoned and blended.

We both ordered three tacos to get a variety of tastes.

Since I'm still eating like a pescatarian, I ordered a fish taco, shrimp taco, and veggie taco. All really great and flavorful. I also appreciated that they give you full tacos, not just scraps in a tortilla. I was full after my meal and I enjoyed all of them. The chicken options sounded really tasty too!

If you love Mexican food as much as I do, add Verde to your list of places to try!

How do you like your tacos?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

5 Levo League articles you should read

I absolutely love writing posts with my advice, based on my personal experiences. But of course, I read other sites and books for advice on college and post grad topics as well. Levo League often shares some great tips for college women and young women in general. I'm sharing my 5 favorite LL pieces that I think my female and male viewers will enjoy and appreciate! 

Great pointers to remember when crafting your college resume and post-grad resume.

There is an art to email writing, and this article is very helpful!

I loved the Designing Your Life class! I'm going to do the Personal Finance class this summer - something I need more training in.

Practicing some of these tips during my fellowship program last year really did help me stand out.

I found these really helpful! I am definitely known for taking on side projects to expand my skills and my brand.

Let me know which one(s) you like!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Weekend trip to Boston

I spent this past weekend in Boston/Cambridge and it was such a memorable experience! I went to visit my friend Ariane, who also graduated from Georgia Tech. We hadn't seen each other in over a year so this weekend was a much needed reunion. Technically, she lives in Cambridge, but we spent lots of time in both cities. After visiting my friend in New York last year and being forced to spend one day exploring the city solo, I've made a vow to explore as many cities as possible on my own.

So here's a review of my trip, in photo format -- but I did leave out some photos of a very unexpected and unfortunate part of my trip, agh!

Friday morning, I walked with Ariane to her office and then headed to Starbucks. After grabbing a white mocha from Starbucks, I started my solo walk from Cambridge to Boston, first stopping on MIT's campus. I walked around the campus and went inside a few buildings, such an interesting campus with beautiful buildings and scenery!

Loved this numerical statue on MIT's campus.

After walking across the Massachusetts Avenue bridge that connects Cambridge to Boston, I sat on a bench overlooking some water and mapped out some must-sees. (Thanks for the recommendations!

After browsing through a mall, I stopped by the Boston Public Library because it just looked so beautiful and patriotic. I stayed in the library, walking around the different floors and rooms for about an hour.

Then, I took a snack break at Sweet Cupcakes. I tried a cheesecake cupcake, yum!

As I continued walking, I stumbled upon Beacon Hill and the Massachusetts State House. Obviously, I had to go inside the building where state politics happens. It was very different from Georgia's State Capitol, but still had that classic and historic feel.

I loved this Hall of Flags area in the State House.

Next, I took a break to grab lunch before meeting up with Ariane. I ordered a Greek salad with shrimp (I'm still eating like a pescatarian), and also ate a few pieces of bread that came with the meal…more on this later.

After meeting up with Ariane, we did more wandering around her city and stopped by the original Cheers bar!


Ok, now for the non-photo aspect of the trip. Remember that salad and bread I ate for lunch? Well, as Ariane and I started walking toward Fenway Park, my eyes started itching. Then, my face and arms started itching. It was weird because it felt more intense than a bug bite or anything else I'd experienced.  I remember asking Ariane if my eyes looked funny because it felt like something was sitting on top of each of my eyelids. Then I realized that I may be having an allergic reaction. The bread I ate for lunch tasted a little bit like peanut butter (which I am very allergic to), but I thought maybe it was just the butter and cheese on the bread. And the salad dressing may have been walnut vinaigrette...

Minutes later, Ariane could see the swelling on my eyes and around my face. On the inside I was panicking, but I tried to stay calm and we started walking (sprinting) toward the nearest drug store. Once we reached a Walgreens, I purchased some Benadryl and peeked in the nearest mirror…YIKES. My entire face was swollen and hives were appearing all over my face and neck. I've never had such a serious allergic reaction, so this was pretty frightening. I quickly took some medicine and got some advice from a pharmacy technician. Ariane was really helpful throughout this medical scare! Thank goodness she was there because my body was reacting quickly, and things could have gotten way worse. I spent the rest of that day recovering and resting from walking all over Boston and from having a serious allergic reaction!


Phew! The next day I felt 100% better and I was ready to continue enjoying Boston. Ariane took me to her favorite brunch spot, City Girl Cafe. Really delicious, and I suggest it if you're in the Cambridge area! I ordered the French toast with potatoes.

Then, we ventured back to Boston via the T (train/metro).

I loved the architecture in this city!

Once we got to the Government District, we did a little shopping. I purchased this Boston Red Socks hat for my dad, but I did borrow it for a few photos hehe :)

We went to the North End and the Waterfront and got some fun photos by the water!

Then, we went on a tour of the Boston Custom House -- we rode the elevator up to the 26th floor and got an unbeatable view of the city! If you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love a great view of a city!


View from the top of the Custom House!

In the North End, we visited Boston's famous cannoli spot: Mike's Pastry.

I ordered the Oreo cannoli, holy delicious!

We eventually made it to Fenway Park!

Saturday night, we trekked to Harvard's campus and had dinner at Harvard Square.

This. Pizza. Spinach, tomatoes, artichokes, goat cheese on wood iron grilled crust…I will never forget it. And apparently, all of the food at Cambridge, 1 is that good!

After dinner, we headed out to a fun spot called Harp near the Bruins hockey stadium!

Such a full and fun weekend that I really appreciated after a crazy week in Atlanta. Traveling can be a hassle, but the experiences that come from it are always worth it. I absolutely loved the blend of discovering all of Boston's goodness on my own, and with Ariane by my side. I'm excited to explore another city very soon. One of my best friends just got a job in Dallas, TX…hint hint ;)


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