October 31, 2013

Taste of Atlanta review

This past weekend, I did what all food lovers dream of doing...attended a food festival where I could sample of the foods of over 90 local restaurants..in one day. It's called Taste of Atlanta and this is an annual, 3-day event held in Midtown (partially on my college's campus, actually), and this was my first time attending. We went on Saturday for the second half of the day. Here's a short review of my Taste of Atlanta experience in 8 thoughts

If you went, I'd love to hear your thoughts too in a comment!

1. Lots of people - I'm not a huge fan of crowds, and although there were lots of people along the streets, it wasn't too crowded. The lines never had more than 10 people in them (except for the Cafe Intermezzo and Svedka station). I still had plenty of room to walk without running into other people and obviously room to take photos :)

2. Fun activity to do with family/friends/date - I'm so happy I went with people I love, and a small group. I think the smaller the group, the better to keep up with everyone in the big crowd and truly enjoy the food and drink experience. I also saw lots of couples at the festival and I think this would be such a fun date activity!

3. So many great and diverse food options - I tried to have a good mix of food items (appetizers, entree samples, and desserts). The Suno (shaved ice) in this photo was a great refresher after I had some ribs from DBA BBQ.

4. Your hands will stay full - When we first got there, I wondered why so many people had bags in their hands...but I quickly realized that bags were the things to have because your hands get full, quickly! You're carrying around food, a drink, napkins, and if you pick up freebies...it's too much! So luckily, several stations were giving out reusable bags and totes if you joined their programs.

5. Freebies - Not every station required that you pay with a purple coupon (worth about $1, and you're originally given 5 of them). Some companies and restaurants were passing out free samples of their products or free promotional items, so that was cool.

6. Great atmosphere - The weather was perfect on Saturday, and the festival is located in a beautiful spot in Midtown with a great view of the city. There are several parking options and walking around is pleasant. Overall, it's a great atmosphere for eating, drinking, and having a good time.

7. Your coupons go quickly - Most stations require 2-3 of these coupons to "purchase" a food item, so you'll use them pretty quickly. Be wise with your food choices and try restaurants you wouldn't normally eat at or random food choices. But you can always purchase more coupons :)

8. You'll get full from all of the food - We were there for a little over two hours, but I was so full after leaving Taste of Atlanta. Even though they give you smaller portions than normal, eating all of that food in a small time frame really adds up. I definitely couldn't handle more than one day of this style of eating haha.

The tagline for this event is "the food lover's food experience," and they're right. It was quite an experience for a food lover like myself. I definitely recommend that everyone attend at least once, and bring a friend(s). Your stomach won't regret it :)

P.S. my bright pink sweater is from Forever 21 :)

October 30, 2013

Healthy meals by my roommate {Pescatarian Bowl}

I appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement on my clean eating posts, but my roommate (Alexandria) has been a big inspiration and motivator for my changed lifestyle. She also makes clean meals throughout the week and lots of them look and taste so good!

So I'm starting a new blog series, in addition to my clean eating series, titled "Meals by my roommate" - enjoy! I'm starting with this simple pescatarian bowl she made for dinner the other night.

Recipe for this Pescatarian Bowl:

shrimp cooked in olive oil, garlic powder, and diced onions
spinach cooked in olive oil
mushrooms cooked in cajun butter
eggplant sliced and cooked in a skillet with olive oil and mint
all on a bed of brown rice

October 28, 2013

Forever 21 {giveaway}

Ahhhh, so excited for this giveaway! I have loved Forever 21 since I was in high school and they continue making really cute and affordable clothes and accessories for women and MEN! :)

However, shopping in the store can be a little overwhelming and I prefer online shopping. I'll be sharing some products I got from Forever 21 on an upcoming post, but for now...here's a giveaway! I'm giving away TWO e-gift cards for online shopping (open to international viewers)! Thanks for the continuous support and sweet comments & emails. I love that people love RCSOATL :)

Check out some of my favorite looks:

Guys and girls, enter now and tell a friend...good luck :)!

Don't let yesterday take up too much of today

It's a new day, new week, fresh start.

Don't let yesterday or your past take up too much of today.


October 27, 2013

Eating in ATL {Home grown Atlanta}

It's been a while since my last "Eating in ATL" post because I've been saving money by eating out less. But on Friday, I stepped out into the beautiful world of Atlanta eats and had lunch with my friend Casey at a place I'd never been. Home grown Atlanta is just about five minutes away from my job at the Capitol, so I can't believe I hadn't tried this incredible restaurant before!

If you love delicious soul food & southern cooking…you have to try Home grown. As soon as I walked in and saw the bright colored bar, old southern diner set up, and random southern artifacts on the wall…I was hooked. And then I saw waiters bringing out plates of food…I was ready to grub.

They serve locally grown, fresh ingredients and hearty portions. It's also in an area of Atlanta that not many people get to explore.

Casey got the pink eyed peas, mac & cheese, and green beans. 
She said it was awesome!

I ordered the fried chicken sandwich (fried chicken, spinach, tomatoes, ranch-like 
sauce all on Texas toast) and fried green tomatoes. 

When I got back to work, I couldn't stop talking about how great my meal was. And I told Casey that I'm going back to order something else as soon as possible. The sweet tea also gets an A+ rating from me, yum!

What's your favorite southern dish?

October 25, 2013

Dressing up for a black & white party

Last weekend, I went to my uncle's birthday party and it was a black & white party (you could only wear black and/or white), and it was so much fun!

 I've always wanted to go to one of these parties because the decorations, outfits, and everything else always look so classy.

It was so great being around my family and everyone looked so nice!
I'm thinking of making my birthday dinner/party a black and white party.

What's your favorite party theme?

October 24, 2013

2013 Halloween attractions in Atlanta

Paranoia Haunted House. Through Nov. 2. $20. 608 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell. 678-793-1544, www.paranoiahauntedhouse.com.

Folklore Haunted House. Through Nov. 2. $22. 1265 Merchants Drive, Dallas. folklorehauntedhouse.com.

Netherworld Haunted House. Through Nov. 3. Tickets start at $22. 6624 Dawson Blvd., Norcross. 404-608-2484, www.fearworld.com.

Containment Haunted House. Through Oct. 31. $25. 1380 Atlantic Drive N.W., under Atlantic Station. 404-549-5953, containmentatl.com.

Creepers Haunted House. Through Nov. 3. $15-$25. 2781 S. Cobb Drive, Smyrna. www.creepershauntedhouse.com.

Haunted Hill House of Horror. Through Oct. 26. $10. Haunted Hill House of Horror, Tom Eason Drive, Hampton. www.hauntedhillhouseofhorror.com.

Owl O’Ween. 4 p.m.-midnight Oct. 26. $5-$15. Kennesaw State Sports & Recreation Park, 3200 George Busbee Parkway, Kennesaw. owl-o-ween.com.

The Great Pumpkin Haunted Hampton Festival. 11 a.m. Oct. 26. Free. Haunted Hill House of Horror, Tom Eason Drive, Hampton. 404- 969-9760, www.hauntedhillhouseofhorror.com .

Halloween Kids Fest. 2 p.m. Oct 26. Free. North Point Mall, 1000 N. Point Circle, Alpharetta. 770- 740-9273, northpointmall.com

Cherokee Zombie Fest 2013. 5 p.m. Oct. 26, $5 suggested donation; $60 VIP meet and greet; $25 Call of Duty Black Ops tournament. Cannon Park, 130 E. Main St., Canton. 770- 345-5483, www.CherokeeZombieFest.com.

Goblins in the Garden. 10 a.m. Oct. 27. $18.95; $12.95 children 3-12. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404- 876-5859, www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org .

Day of the Dead. Noon Oct. 27. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta. 404- 814-4033, www.atlantahistorycenter.com.

Decatur Ghost Tour. Through Oct. 31. $15; $12 ages 10 and under. Decatur Ghost Tour, Historic Town Square, Decatur. 404-296-7771, www.decaturghosttour.com.

HOWLpharetta Ghost Tours. Through Oct. 26. $15. Alpharetta Tours, Main Street, Alpharetta. 800-979-3370, www.alpharettatours.com.

Fright Fest. Through Oct. 27. $39.99-$49.99. Six Flags Over Georgia, 275 Riverside Parkway S.W., Austell. 770-948-9290, www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia.

Pumpkin Festival. Through Oct. 27. Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. www.stonemountainpark.com.

Vintage gold jewelry

I've been neglecting my pearls recently.

 I have a habit of wearing a pearl necklace with just about every outfit, but recently I've been rocking gold around my neck. A few weeks ago, I discovered some old gold jewelry that belonged to my grandmother. Although I didn't get to spend much time with her before she passed, I'm sure that we had a similar style. I love her old jewelry and I've added some of her pieces to my collection. In the photo above, I'm wearing one of her abstract gold chain necklaces out last Friday night.

Check out all of the items I picked out below:

I love the necklaces because I seriously haven't seen anything like this in stores.

By adding a vintage piece to my outfits, I've really been able to shake up my style a little bit, and I'm excited about it!

Do you own any vintage jewelry/clothing that you love?

October 23, 2013

Eating clean for rookies {part 9}

Still going strong on eating clean for 2 meals a day. I've incorporated this eating style into my life and it feels great. Since I've been saving money, I'm going to explore different food items for clean eating & I can't wait to share how those turn out. Check out what I've eaten recently...

The following 3 meals were made by my friend Hannah, yum!

Blueberries with sliced avocado and a honey drizzle
Salmon bites, spinach with tomatoes
and onions, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower 
Salmon, spinach with strawberries, green pepper with quinoa 
One wrap per day for lunch:
 fat free wrap with spinach, carrots, avocado, and strawberries
Salmon with mushrooms and spinach topped with tomatoes
Breakfast: spinach, strawberries, banana, and carrots
Lunch: Spinach salad with mushrooms, carrots, and green salsa
I keep a container of washed spinach in the fridge
so it's easier to add some to every meal
My roommates salad: lettuce, onions, tomatoes
Ground chicken stuffed with spinach, cooked
in olive oil with mushrooms, onions, and spinach
Classic breakfast smoothie: strawberries & bananas
Great to add to any meal: avocado & tomatoes

If you have a favorite clean meal, leave a comment & share!

October 22, 2013

Fall 2013 book & TV recommendations

Since cutting out some obligations and projects, I've had more free time and I'm loving it.

As an introvert, I love spending my free time wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa reading a great book or watching an entire TV series :) I especially love these activities on weekends or gloomy looking days.

I'm looking for book & TV show recommendations. The only TV show I'm currently committed to is Scandal, but I know there are other great shows out there.

Leave a comment with your TV addition and/or a great book you've read recently! 
When others are searching for recommendations, they'll appreciate your ideas too!

Thanks! :)

October 21, 2013

My ideal study/work space

I'm strategically simple. And that philosophy applies to my work environment too. In high school, college, and now, I have to get in the right mindset and right environment to be productive.

Here's what I keep nearby when I'm #grinding.

Water & Green tea - my study/work drinks of choice. In college, I was a coffee addict. But since making the clean eating switch, I've dramatically decreased my coffee intake.
Writing utensils - I love bright pens and highlighters for my agenda, to-do lists, and anything else.
Post-Its - I'm always thinking and therefore always having to write down thoughts/ideas/reminders. I keep post-its with me at all times.
MacBook - my favorite electronic working tool. I do use my iPad for meetings and reading, but I do most of my writing and working on the "book."
Agenda - like I've mentioned in a few posts, I love paper agendas because they literally help me function. I write down to-do's for each day, upcoming events, and special occasions. I'm currently using a Jonathan Adler agenda.
iPhone - I keep my phone nearby if I'm working because I may have to make phone calls or send texts. However, when studying, I usually put it on silent and will only check it hourly.
Earbuds - for music listening of course. My favorite work music? Lana del Rey.
Phone charger - self-explanatory.
Peppermint - little known fact...peppermint and peppermint oil have tons of health benefits. I keep some around because they're great for digestion and memory.
Motivation - I always try to have some symbol of motivation around when I'm working. Sometimes it's as simple as a business card, to remind me of what I'm working toward. Sometimes it's a photo or motivational quotation. Having motivation in eye sight is extremely helpful.

I think my study/work space necessities are pretty simple, yet strategic. Once I figured out what I need around me to get work done, I've become way, way more productive.

-Franz Kafka

What do you like to surround yourself with while you're doing work or studying?

October 18, 2013

Obsessed with this {rose sweater}

The weather this weekend is the perfect blend of sunshine and a chilly breeze. 
Which could only mean one thing...sweater season in Atlanta.

The best sweater I've found so far:

I like it, I love it, I want to rock it over a white tee with some leggings.

Is it sweater season where you live?

October 17, 2013

Organizing my ambitions

If you're ambitious, maybe you can relate.

I'm currently in this really exciting but really crazy period of my life - I graduated from college in May and I'm currently working as a fellow/intern in my governor's office until December. But since graduation, I've also been working on a few other projects. And when I say a few, I mean like 10.

It's a lot. And I love it, but it's a lot.

It wasn't until I took a few minutes to sit down in a quiet room and just breathe and think about what all I'm working on, to realize that I'm working on entirely too much all at once. I can't possibly focus enough energy on all of my goals at one time, and I refuse to try that anymore. Over ambition is the recipe for under dedication to yourself and your personal life.

I think that ambitious people have a tendency of becoming too ambitious. We also have a tendency to compare our success to others. But back to being over ambitious.

I have so many goals, dreams, and passions both professionally and personally that I want to achieve. And I realized during my quiet time that I've been trying to spread myself too thin by trying to achieve all of those things all at once. I also realized that I need to organize my ambitions.

Just like organizing anything else -- creating a plan of attack, steps to achievement, and small goals -- organizing ambitions works the same way.

I made a list of every goal I could think of, both professional and personal. This included the entrepreneurial goals I have as well. And I then organized the list by what I want to accomplish within a year, then within 5 years, and what I would like to accomplish some day. I call them my now ambitions, soon ambitions, and then ambitions to take some pressure off by not having super strict deadlines. I think specifically planning out life past five years is a little extreme and may only cause anxiety.

For now, I'm focusing on the following because I 
a.) genuinely enjoy doing them
b.) have time for them
c.) they are helping me work toward future goals/dreams

Now ambitions:

My blog/RCSOATL - I love blogging, and love this blog. It grows more each week and I plan to continue this blog for as long as I enjoy doing it.

My book - The book I published in January is still selling and I've had great opportunities to speak to younger students and help them anyway I can with following their dreams. I have a goal to sell 1,000 copies by December. You can order one here.

My job - I really enjoy my 8-5 job in the governor's office. It's shown me that I want to work in politics/government and I'm even considering running for office one day.

Nonprofit work - I've recently gotten very involved with a non-profit here in Atlanta called Foreverfamily. The work I do for that organization is enjoyable and it makes me happy knowing it's helping others.

Communications consulting for startups - For most of this year, I've been doing some work for friends and classmates who have startups in Atlanta. Since I have such a strong background in communications, I've been able to offer consulting to them in this area. I have a small, but amazing client base right now, and I love the work I'm doing for brilliant new companies. 

Once I was comfortable with my list, I felt so much better. I've eliminated stress from my life and freed up time for important aspects like family, friends, and unstructured fun. I also think that sometimes ambitious people (especially our generation) get so caught up in achievement, goals, work life, "making it," we forget to live.

With every tragic incident of a family member or friend, I'm reminded of just how short life truly is. And I've learned from mentors and those I admire that if you have the drive and a plan, you will be successful.

So don't waste too much time stressing about the small failures, setbacks, or indecisiveness. The rejection I've faced has been the most rewarding form of growth in my professional and personal life. Going for your dreams should be an enjoyable collection of life moments. I think that's the true meaning of living your dreams.

Yes, you can achieve all of your dreams. Just not all at once. Organize your ambitions.

Have you ever felt over ambitious and overwhelmed?


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