Self Improvement

Resolution Season – S Style

Last week E posted her new year’s resolutions on the blog so I figured with 2014 officially underway that it’s time I posted mine too (plus, now all of you can help hold me accountable).

My main goal with resolutions is to make them extremely realistic. I hate setting myself up for failure and one of my mid-year resolutions this year (going rouge, I know!) was to be more self-aware. I’m constantly trying to better myself, but I also have to realize that I know myself best and I need to adapt any potential changes to what can realistically work for me. So these may not be the loftiest of goals, and they may not be exactly measurable – but they are all sure-fire ways to make me a more put-together and all around happier person.

1. Better monitor my spending

MoneyTree

or learn to grow one of these…..

I think I’m done pretending I can use budget apps and notebooks for now. I’ve tried every trick in the book and nothing seems to work – there’s just something that seems so inefficient to me about writing every little transaction in a notebook or opening an app every time I want a coffee. But I do need to start paying better attention to what I am spending. So that all being said, I’m vowing to start using cash more and lay off the debit card. It’s so easy to swipe your card everywhere, but with cash I have a much better picture of how much I am actually spending.

And yes, ending up with loose change is annoying…but hey, maybe this will lead to another resolution….saving coins for something big, maybe?

2. Cook more at home

cooking

I love baking. This is no secret to anyone who reads our blog. But one of my ongoing goals is to cook more real meals (and healthier meals!). If I have skills with flour and sugar, who says that can’t translate to chicken and veggies? Plus, with cooking there are just SO many more opportunities to experiment and be creative! I’m not talking anything fancy, but grilling some chicken every once in a while probably wouldn’t kill me. I hope this can help me save some money on buying lunch out and lead to an overall healthier diet as well!

3. Get my morning act together

cereal

Like E, I have a track record for playing the ‘how quickly can I get ready and out the door’ game in the mornings.  And everyday I play this game, I feel and look like crap upon my arrival into the office – which is not really how you want to start the work day. There are literally COUNTLESS benefits to waking up a little earlier and spending a little extra time getting ready instead of having to rush through a morning routine. You can eat a real breakfast – the healthiest meal of the day, you’re more awake and alert, you look much better when you put effort in, and it’s no surprise that heading off to work looking good automatically puts you in a better mood and starts your day off right.

 I’ll never be the girl who wakes up early enough to hit the gym, shower, make a gourmet breakfast, and solve world hunger….but I definitely can manage to get my butt up in enough time to eat a bowl of cereal and put on some makeup.

4. No texting, tweeting, or facebooking when with friends

A wise man – okay, it was Andy from The Office – once said: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” But it’s SO TRUE. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone while they’re scrolling through their newsfeed reading about what so-and-so from high school made for dinner. But we’re all guilty of it. So this year I’m vowing to put the electronics down and focus instead on what’s right in front of me and building real relationships. I’ve met an amazing group of people here in DC, and it would be a shame to miss out on real fun because I’m lost in my phone. Plus, there’s plenty of time to catch-up on social media on those long metro rides into the city or on my way to the grocery store.

What are you resolving to do this year?

xO -S

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Categories: Interesting, Motivation, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

The Annual “Resolution” Season

I’m notoriously bad at New Year’s resolutions. I either don’t make them, or make them and break them quickly because they’re some sort of lofty goal like going to the gym daily (which after going to the gym almost never is a big jump). I know I wrote about these last year..but this year I’ve made 3 goals — none of which require me to change much of my daily routine.

1. Save weekly for a trip. 

Florence Italy.. I hope!

The boy and I decided that this year instead of the 5 months straight of presents we normally do (thanks to birthday x2, Christmas/Hanukkah, anniversary, and valentines day in a row) we would try something different. We’re going to go on a trip to Europe! Is this a lofty and financially irresponsible goal? Perhaps. But we’re planning 6 months in advance which will allow our budgets to be created far in advance of our actual trip. So far, I’ve got a few hundred in my virtual “cookie jar” (specifically made for this trip, not general savings) thanks to the help of LearnVest and the year has yet to officially begin!

2. Change my diet

How my plate SHOULD look… instead of entirely starches

I wake up… I drink coffee.. I skip breakfast.. lunch comes around and consists of some sort of sandwich.. more coffee.. I come home and make some sort of pasta with a piece of chicken (IF I’m feeling particularly good) and that’s my nutrients for the day. OH and a gummy vitamin.

As you can see, its not so impressive. I’ve made a person vow to improve this part of my life. It will take up maybe 10 more minutes of my time and the hope is that I’ll feel better day in and day out. Any recipe suggestions are more than welcome!

3. Get my morning act together

I was inspired watching White Christmas last night

This will probably be (sadly) the toughest of my personal resolutions. I’m constantly scrambling in the morning and have timed it so that I cane wake up and be out the door in less that 20 minutes if needed. That’s wonderful and all, but I sometimes get into work not looking my best which is not the attitude that I like to project.

I think I will feel better in the office, and gain more by stepping up my game a bit each day.

I’m sure S has some resolutions for the new year.. what are yours!

xE

Categories: Just for Fun, Motivation, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s getting us through the week!

We’re baaaaaaaack!

 After a 2 week hiatus from our weekly segment of what’s getting us through the week – we’re back today with a little inspiration for everyone to make it through the end of tomorrow! Here’s what’s been helping us this week:

Elyse Says…

 1. Finishing Powder 

For my new job I have to take the metro to work..between the trek up the hill from my apartment, the wind from the metro cars flying by as they pull into the station and the sweaty crowded people on the morning red line I have renewed my faith in finishing powder. If you don’t know what it is, its the translucent powder that goes over your entire make up — and holds it in place while reducing shine and being blown off by the elements of public transportation. It also prevents bronzer from looking a little too bronze especially on pale people like me. I use maybelline because I’m a drug store make up kind of girl but anything that suits your fancy will work! A must for the summer!

2. Free Office Candy


You know that weird time at work– around 3:30 where you’re mostly through the day but you still have a few hours to go and your stomach is grumbling since you just woke up from your post lunch food coma? Well the new office offers a free candy bar — FREE CANDY. its like they just know to call to my inner child. If you went to Rochester– its basically the common market and its constantly being restocked. Yesterdays Haul? Chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered animal crackers. I like to think that it will be off set by all the stair climbing I’ve been doing recently. We’ll see..

Shianne Says…

1. Veggie Straws – Zesty Ranch

I honestly had never heard of these things before I stumbled upon them in Target last week…but I’m officially hooked. They are so delicious and are the perfect supplement to my lunch sandwich or soup! I’ve brought a ziplock bag full everyday this week. The best part is, they’re fairly healthy…at least moreso than other snack products! But they’re also really tasty..highly recommend!

2. Blake Shelton – “Boys ‘Round Here”

Blake Shelton is one of my FAVORITE singers of all time and this song is just hysterical.  It’s so fun and silly that you literally CAN NOT be upset while listening to it. It’s physically impossible. I dare you to try. And the video is even better – check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXAgv665J14

 & we agree on…

New Opportunities

View from the new office on a rainy day!

As you know, Elyse started her new job this week and it’s been going great so far! It’s more relevant to her career goals, has a great culture and atmosphere, and she’s already learning a lot! As for me, I’ve just been assigned my very first event to be the lead on! It’s a small trip to Gettysburg, PA – but I’m really excited to learn more about the front-end processes of event planning!

That being said, it’s been a crazy and busy week for the both of us – as new opportunities can seem like tough obstacles at first. But if you look at things the right way and have a positive attitude, you’ll definitely be able to succeed…and think of how much you’ll learn along the way! Here’s to hoping we both stay on this adrenaline high for a little longer!

What’s helping you get through the week?

Xx E&S

Categories: Motivation, Music, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Review: Luna’s Hair Design

Although I have lived in DC for 10 months now (HOLY COW!) I have been resistant to getting a haircut here. I just don’t get them that often and the one I had was while I was at home. In New Hampshire the average haircut will run you $25 and if you jump up to $50 you’ll be getting the works! In DC.. that is not so much the case. Being on a post grad budget and having hair that requires no (its not thin, curly, dyed, keratin-ed etc)

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Getting a little long…

I decided it was time for a change. It was too long, weighted down and not professional enough. But where to go?

After searching Yelp review’s, I found Luna’s Hair Design on P street right in Dupont Circle! And the end result??

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excuse the selfie, it was originally intended for my mom.

My stylist was Alicia and I cannot say better things about her — she was quick (I was in and out with a wash cut and blow out in 30 minutes flat!), nice and listened to exactly what I wanted which is refreshing as sometimes stylists don’t.  The total came to $35 (an extra $5 for the blow dry) which I was very happy with and if you’re a student on Tuesdays and Thursdays they have a discount! I suggest paying in cash — they require tips be in cash as well as student discounted prices but they do accept major credit cards.

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As you can see it was pretty quiet when I went yesterday at 2:00pm but the space is quaint and cozy. I highly suggest Luna’s if you’re looking for a salon in DC!

xE

Categories: Beauty, Local Places, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Volunteering at the National Kidney Walk

What do you do when your passion becomes your job? When your only hobby becomes your entire life? That is the dilemma I have been faced with since starting my job here in DC. I’ve always used politics as something to talk about with friends and a way to escape from the daily woes of Economics problem sets. However, now that I’m in this political world all day, everyday, I really need a little break every once in a while. Hence, I need a new hobby.  Unfortunately the real world isn’t as simple as college, where you can just look online at a list of 200+ clubs to join. So I thought about what else I was passionate about, looked into a few online options, and finally signed up to volunteer for the National Kidney Foundation’s Northern Virginia Kidney Walk!

Anyone who knows me knows that this issue hits close to home for me, so I was really excited to be able to help out even in the smallest way!  I was assigned to be a route Marshall  which basically just meant sitting at one area of the route and directing people…but it was cool because you actually got to see the walkers right when they were all starting. Then I moved to the finish line to cheer people on as they came in from the walk. It was such a small task, but really I’m just glad I got to be there!

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my buddy for the day

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So excited I even took a selfie!

Overall, it was an awesome experience. It being the first time I’ve ever really addressed the issue in public, I got super emotional during it. Just seeing all the heroic donors and super-healthy back-to-normal recipients walking was so encouraging and inspiring! I’m hoping I’ll be around for the DC area walk next month, and maybe I can even get involved in other ways as well!

And as an added bonus, after the walk I had a little extra time to explore Reston Town Center – which is AWESOME! All my favorite stores in one place…but it’s outside! Perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon!

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Adorable fountain / pavillion area

So find something you’re interested in and get involved! Now that it’s nice out, there’s no excuse to sit home and watch movies all weekend!

-S

Categories: Adventures, Interesting, Just for Fun, Local Places, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Apps for Change

Will changing your Facebook profile picture help end child abuse in West Africa? No.

Over the past few weeks, I have seen more people set their profile picture to support a cause than ever before. There was a recent Supreme Court decision, senate hearing, and explosions across the country.  While changing your picture does show support and raise awareness, it fails to help in a tangible way that many organizations fighting to stop injustices across the world need. You may feel better or like you have helped in some way, but their need is the same. But what can you do besides donating especially during this tragic week in US history?

Luckily, there’s an app for that.

FoodShareFilter

If you use instagram and or twitter, you have probably seen one or more post about someone’s meal. They could have just made it, or just ordered it but whatever the reason they felt like sharing and you can choose to like it, favorite it, retweet it etc. FoodShareFilter has created an integrated instagram filter where by downloading for $1.16 from the Google Play/Apple Store and using to “share” your food, you share in other ways by having money donated to help fight hunger in Mexico. Pretty easy…

WeTopia

WeTopia is a facebook game that allows players build villages and earn points that turn into charitable donations. To date, players have provided more than 1.6 million gallons of drinking water and over 760,000 hot meals for children in Haiti, 45,000 meals for U.S. children living in poverty, and more than 3,000 warm coats to children in Afghanistan and the United States. Not too shabby!

GoodGuide

GoodGuide lets you to scan the barcode of a product while you’re shopping and immediately receive ratings regarding its healthfulness, environmental impact and social responsibility. How cool is that?

Mobile Rice

This is a particular favorite of mine as I used to go on the website in high school. The MobileRice app tests your vocabulary skills while donating grains of rice through the World Hunger Program. Match words with their definition or synonyms and help diminish hunger 
worldwide. The app is connected to the website, which has collected 77 billion grains in 2 1/2 years — enough rice to feed millions. Download it and play next time you’re waiting for the metro!

   GiveWork

The Give Work app asks users to complete simple tasks that check the work done by refugee workforce. It provides a sort of quality assurance while increasing the quality of life for Kenyan refugee workers.

Small gestures do make a big difference, so maybe try one of these apps out next time you feel like making a small change for the better. And if you want to continue to spread the word, post it on Facebook or tweet about it to others.

And then you can change your profile picture too if you want.

xE

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How to quit your first real job.

Two weeks ago I had to do something that absolutely terrified me — I gave my two weeks notice.

Lets rewind a bit to get the full story.

As college seniors we’re pretty much wired towards finding a job and being pushed out into the real world to start this “career” that you’ve been training for…but more often than not, you’re not sure what that means. I studied Economics, Biology and Organizational Psych so by that standard I should be…working in HR Analytics for a Pharmaceutical company? There is no straight path and the only thing I really knew is that I wanted to be in D.C. and tada, I made it as one of the 43% of college grads who were employed post college. This is nothing to be taken lightly, my mom was thrilled, family so proud, etc and so I packed up my bags and moved down to D.C.

New job was great, and wow these paychecks are awesome! But there was a lot of adjustment socially (where are my best friends from college?!), financially (excuse me Comcast – Internet is HOW much a month?) and just lifestyle wise (9-5 is not really a thing, its more like 8:30-6:00 on a good day). However, I was learning a lot and everyone around me was supportive of this hard time. I don’t know what other jobs are like, so lets keep rolling with this one!

Fast forward 8 months, I have learned SO much. About the business world, working with people, office structure and about what I can officially cross of my list of what I want to do for the rest of my life – a necessary part of discovering your career! I accept that while I love the office and people I work with, there is no room for advancement of any kind where I am.

Two months later, an opportunity to change companies and positions arrives at my door (or in my LinkedIn inbox to be precise) and I decide to apply, heck why not? One month after that, I’ve just signed an offer letter with a new company and I will be transitioning in a month. Oh the excitement!!

But there is one problem… I have to tell these great people who took a chance on my as a silly little new grad and taught me so much that I will be leaving them, after less than a year. Oy.

I had never quit a job before. Internships ended, I graduated high school or college, tennis season came up but never actually quit.  Quitting is no easy feat, and in this town and in this economy your number one goal should be to NOT BURN BRIDGES.

So this leads us to my advice in this matter, having just gone through the same ordeal.

So you’ve officially decided to quit, regardless of having another offer in hand:

1. Give two weeks notice.

Check your company hand book but two weeks for someone in an entry level position (as us new grads usually are) should be appropriate. Some companies may have given you a bonus stipulating that you stay there for a year so if you haven’t hit that mark yet take that into consideration. Also consider how much time they are going to need to replace you– have you been key on a project for months? Two weeks may not be long enough. There are also some companies that will tell you to leave that day. This saves them money, or they’re angry, or it’s policy…whatever it is just know that you will get your check in the mail and that will be it.

2. Tell your direct supervisor before anyone else. 

You may work in a company where there are tons of young people and you all are friends, go out and tell each other everything. It doesn’t matter, DO NOT tell them first. Word spreads like wild fire and my boss was very happy to hear that he knew before others, as this had not usually been the case. It shows respect and consideration of their needs in the matter.

2a. DO IT IN PERSON.

Walk into their office after a meeting or schedule a time to chat. If you can do it in person, do so. If you can’t, phone in at minimum. NEVER email them your resignation without a conversation first.

3. Put it in writing.

After you’ve told your supervisor, put it in writing. Preferably email. Just for documentation sake.

4. Be positive.

This applies for both job interviews and exit interviews but never dis your current employer. Regardless of the fact that you hated it, the hours were long, your supervisors were mean or whatever you find the issues is. You stay positive, you mention the only reason for moving on is about you and growth and wish them the best.

The art of Manliness Suggests:

“Thank your boss for the opportunity, and if she asks why you’re quitting, simply emphasize something about the way in which your new job aligns better with your key interests than your current one does. “I’ve always wanted to do more teaching, and in my new job, that will be the biggest part of my responsibilities.” If there isn’t a reason like that to give (maybe you’re just jumping ship because of the downer culture of your current company), just tell your boss (and this goes for your colleagues too) something positive and general like, “I’m ready for a new kind of challenge” or, “This is a better opportunity for me.””

5. Don’t have one foot out the door

You gave your two weeks, now work for them. Make sure projects are transitioned, any phone numbers or clients are contacted, etc. Don’t just start surfing the internet because you suddenly can and don’t care. If that’s the case you’re just using them and wasting everyone’s time.

6. Say goodbye.

There must have been people you genuinely enjoyed working with or talking with at lunch. So say goodbye to them in an appropriate manner — I suggest a short personal email or card. Also, I will be bringing in cupcakes for all because, who doesn’t like cupcakes?

Good luck! D.C. is known for being a revolving door, they’ll understand.
&if you need any advice, you’re always welcome to ask us.

xE

Categories: Self Improvement, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Packing List: Florida

Oh vacation, how I have missed you and am looking forward to you! I’m off to Palm Beach/Miami for a week…

But, packing is always such a hassle isn’t? And I am infamous for bringing everything but the kitchen sink with me wherever I go, so for this trip to Florida I’ve decided to be very diplomatic in choosing what I bring, and only bring things that I could wear more than one day, or are absolutely necessary for the beach. Toiletries aside, what do you really need after all? A Towel, a suit, some sunnies and (if you’re as pale as I am) some mega strong [ read: spf 50+!! ]waterproof sweat proof sunblock!

So here is exactly what I’m bringing for beach wear, aside from the straw tote (mine was my grandmothers and I’ve got no idea where its from but the one shown is cheap/cute and the floral skirt as mine is from Marshalls and I couldn’t find it!)

The dress goes from day to night with a quick shoe change which is nice and the sun and the salt water will kill all makeup options aside from some waterproof mascara.

 

Packing for Florida

Packing for Florida by uhhleese featuring a neutrogena face moisturizer

Its already hot in D.C. but hopefully some relaxing time before a big change will be good for me… am I missing anything?

Also tips on any hair products to grab that will save my hair from becoming straw /green from salt and chlorine is GREATLY appreciated 🙂

-xE

Categories: Fashion, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Simple Spring Spaghetti

Is feta cheese a weird thing to have leftovers of? I feel like it is. Either way, I had some leftover feta cheese that I didn’t want to waste and since I’ve also been trying to cook more, I decided to find something fun to do with it. I bake all the time, but as far as actual food goes, I’m pretty much a stick-to-soup kinda girl. So this is my first step into the process of “cooking.” Although I guess this may not even qualify as “cooking,” since it’s more like just putting a bunch of things together and hoping it turns out well. But it at least makes me feel semi-accomplished.

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yummm

Here’s what you’ll need:
– Spaghetti (however much you want to eat – no judgement)
– Olive Oil
– Feta Cheese
– Minced Garlic
– Tomatoes
– Black Olives
– Whatever spices you like – I used garlic pepper (I’m obsessed with the stuff) & parsley

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I don’t list any measurements for the toppings because I believe that kinda stuff is all subjective. I personally like a lot of seasoning, so I’m pretty heavy on the toppings, but if you’re not, just keep sprinkling until you reach your desired amount!

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look at that steam!

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doused in olive oil

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Finished product – mmmm

The recipe is awesome because it’s so versatile. You can mix-and-match which spices and veggies you want to add – I’m thinking about throwing in some peas or green beans next time! The possibilities are endless! Also, the olive oil makes it a lighter meal – as opposed to some of the heavier alfredo or tomato-based sauces that you may not want to eat in the hotter months. It’s something you can whip up quickly on a busy day that’s not a microwave  meal so you can at least feel like you made SOME kind of solid effort. It’s all about taking baby steps into adulthood (ironic?).

-S

Categories: DIY, Food, Self Improvement | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What’s Getting Us Through the Week

It’s that time of the week again where it’s almost Friday and we just have to push by a few more hours….here’s what’s been getting us through this week:

Elyse says…

1. Bread Products!!

Just like the Rock!

 After Passover ended, this is pretty much how I felt about all things involving bread… and I actually did have blueberry pancakes for dinner on Tuesday 😉

2. High School Punk Pop Bands

Did you know that Fall Out Boy was in DC last weekend? Oh to relive my high school freshman self and go attend that concert…so naturally I’ve been listening to their music all week.

I also really like Phoenix and they recently came out with a new music video, and it involves a Shiba Inu!

Shianne says…

1. Bobby Pins

bobbypins

I know bobby pins are like an age-old secret for most girls, but I am only now beginning to appreciate them for all that they’re worth. We just concluded our annual President’s Club event at work – 3 days of non-stop running, lifting, and chatting with donors. That being said…you don’t really have time to manage your looks as much as you would like….which is where bobby pins come in handy. I normally don’t do very much with my hair, but letting it run wild and curly like I usually do just wasn’t an option this week. So instead, I just pulled it up and pinned it to keep it clean and manageable. Not having to worry about my hair made everything so much less stressful – all thanks to these little miracles!

2. Plain Black Flats

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life-savers!

These black flats may have saved my life this week. Okay, I’m exaggerating just a little….but I was so thankful for these puppies after spending the weekend and first three days of the week in them!  Being on your feet for 16 hours a day is no joke – and it requires a sturdy shoe. And then adding that you have to look professional on top of that, it seems almost impossible. But there $14.99 Target flats were comfortable, adorable, and professional! Win-win-win!

& we both agree on…

Cherry Blossoms

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It’s finally cherry blossom season in DC! We’ve heard about it all year and now we’re finally here to experience it. It’s been a bit chilly lately, so they’re blooming a little later than usual – but for us it’s right on time!

We both have friends from Rochester visiting this weekend and can’t wait to get out on the town and really enjoy the beautiful DC spring!

Xx E&S

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