Archive of ‘Lifestyle’ category

Realistic Organization Tips

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Every New Year, many people make it their goal to get more organized. For those of us in college, a new year means a new semester. Every semester I swear I am going to get organized and then within two weeks papers are already flooding my bag and I am right where I was at the end of the semester. Since this always happens to me, I decided to provide some tips that have been helping me stay organized. Unlike many other goals that you may have set for yourself in the past, these goals are attainable and easy to follow through with.

1. Get a planner and keep up with it

I always tend to buy planners at the start of the semester and then let them sort of fade in the back of bag or on my desk. This year, I urge you all to do as I plan to do. I got one of the Lilly Pulitizer agendas to keep up with my school assignments. I got one of the larger ones because it included both school years. During the beginning of last fall, I only added my school work in the planner but that didn’t really encourage me to look at it because I never had anything to make looking at it urgent. I decided to add the planner to my bag every day and write down blog post ideas, my work schedule, birthdays, or even daily plans just to have the notebook accessible at all times. I always seem to forget my work schedule so checking it in the planner encouraged me to look at my school assignments as well as anything else I seem to have written in there.

2. Set a schedule

It doesn’t matter what it is: make it a habit. There is a reason that it is hard to kick bad habits, once you start doing something it is extremely hard to stop. If you start making good habits, you will find that you learn to do the things you do want to be doing. For example, make one day of the week your laundry day and no matter what, make it happen. After you do it so much, you won’t even notice.

3. Set realistic goals

Goal setting can be one of the easiest ways to accomplish things during the day. For most of us though, we tend to set goals that we have no way of achieving. Sure these goals are great for life-long lists but for day-to-day operations, add things that you simply know you will do. For example, adding something like “do dishes” or “walk dog” are really motivating because once you cross them off of your list you feel more motivated to do they things on your list. Just these simple goals will make things like “study for Anatomy” seem like just another tick on the list.

4. Make time for yourself

When you have so many things to achieve on your “to-do list” it can seem very easy to not do any of it because you want time for Netflix or hanging out with friends. What I have found works best is to include those things in your daily schedule. Include time for a bath or movies or whatever it may be. By doing this, you will feel productive and organized about having fun. This helps with avoiding stress as well, which can be a huge aspect to procrastination. By setting a limit to your free time, you feel like your goals are structured and complete.

5. Tell others you want to get organized

In high school, if I had a huge project I had to do, I would avoid telling anyone about it to almost make it go away. That is the least productive thing to do. Generally, you don’t want to appear like a failure to others but with yourself you can let things slide. Tell your friends and family about projects and encourage them to help you in staying organized. Significant others are the best at helping because you talk to them all day long.

So that’s it! Those are five easy tips to help you stay organized. Just by adding these few things into your life, you should see your productivity rise. I know I have! Let me know in the comments what you do to stay organized.

2015 Aspirations

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Well, it is officially four days into the new year and I have finally decided what I would like to accomplish during these 361 remaining days. This photo of me above was taken at the Top of The Rock in New York City this past month. The trip was by far one of the best experiences of 2014 (and generally of my life so far) so it only felt proper to include it.

Honesty time: I have never made or followed a New Year’s Resolutions and I don’t plan on starting now. For this post, I just hope to make some general goals that I will try my hardest to keep up with. I find that when people set unattainable goals for themselves, they put more stress on their lives by trying to keep them. But, for 2015 there are some goals I would like to achieve (as I do every year, month, and day) and I thought what a better place to document these aspirations then right on my blog.

1. Be More Engaged

 I feel like sometimes we work, we go to school, we eat, and we sleep…and then wake up and do it all again. This year I want to be more engaged. See more, do more, live more. I hope to take more chances and break out of my comfort zone in this new year.

2. Work Harder

In 2014, I felt as though I made a lot of excuses. I tried to blog, but became too busy. I tried to be the best I could in school, but sleep prevailed. The list continues with little missteps that I hope to surpass this year. In 2015, I want to transfer colleges (as I will be finishing my AA this year), possibly move out, and work to maintain my relationships.

3. Be Creative

In 2015, I hope to write every single day. While in high school I found it easy to keep my notebook on me and scratch thoughts, stories, memories, anything really, to keep my creativity up. I was editor of the yearbook staff: constant writing was a must. After graduation my writing slipped to a few times a week, at best, and I can feel the repercussions of that fall every single day. I want to create, not only words, but ideas.

4. Love Wiser

It seems as though with every passing year a new insecurity comes along. In 2015, I want to shed myself of those doubts and make the most of my relationships (both romantic and platonic) and be a better friend, daughter, girlfriend, or acquaintance. Also, more dog kisses in 2015 (if that is physically possible).

5. Get Healthy: Mentally and Physically

Yes, this goal is the same one every human in the world will set. Yes, I still think it is one of the best goals to have. This year my mental fitness will also be a goal, though. In 2015, I want to clean up my diet, start light exercise, and be more physically active. In the same respect, I want to clean up my mind. I aspire to learn more, read more, and do more.

Dear 2014, for all of your beautiful and wonderful times, I say thank you. You truly held some of the most refreshing times in my life. But don’t you think I am forgetting all the challenges you threw my way.

2015, we’re coming for ya.

Before Its Too Late: Bath and Body Works Winter Candles

IMG_4563 Oh yes, it is that time of year again. The winter candle collection from Bath and Body Works is upon us and I dove in head-first. On Black Friday the entire B&BW store was running a deal: “Buy Three, Get Three Free.” Any lovers of the three-wick candles knows that even the 2 for $22 deal isn’t as good of a deal as this. I also had a holiday coupon that took $10 off of my final total as well. While I did some serious damage, winter scents are some of my favorites so I thought I would share my picks.

Vanilla Snow Flake: Vanilla Snow Flake is a warm scent that is more sweet than the other Bath and Body Works vanilla scents. When you light this candle, you feel like you are lbaking cookies and instantly get a feeling of being at home.

Twisted Peppermint: Lighting this candle feels like you are in a candy shop… the scent of peppermint is overwhelming in the best way possible. It’s very sweet so if you generally don’t like sweet scents, I would avoid this. For candy lovers, this smells like the best combination of peppermint and vanilla.

Hot Buttered Rum: OH BABY, this one is seriously the best of my winter picks. I have tried a lot of Bath and Body Candles but this one is slowly making its way up to number one in my heart. Lighting this is like entering into a warm cup of spiced coffee. The hints of vanilla add a warming calm for the winter. This scent adds the perfect amount of spice and warmth to get you through a cold winters night, or even when it is 75 and sunny, as Florida likes to do winter.

Holiday: Holiday is a super spiced, very typical Christmas scent. But, if you’re anything like me, Christmas scents linger on forever in your house. This one smells initially in the can of just cinnamon, but once its lit you smell mass amounts of cinnamon with a hint of Christmas tree. It was a very pleasing surprise.

‘Tis The Season: Initially I was worried that Holiday and ‘Tis The Season would smell too much alike, but after lighting them both, the subtle differences make both a reasonable choice. Personally, I prefer this over Holiday because the balance of cinnamon and pine is more equal. This scent feels more like an all-winter-long type of scent versus Holiday which smells more Christmas centered.

So there you have it! These were my personal choices for the Bath and Body Works winter candles. Since their semi-annual sale is going on right now, you can grab most of these for a little over the price I paid for them.

Comment below with your favorite winter candle scents or if you think I missed any Bath and Body ones.

Disappearing Girl

Disappearing is a bit of a nasty habit in my world. I find my schedule gets so busy sometimes (work, school, family life, etc.) that I suddenly fall off the grid. Have you have ever had the sensation of going through your daily life and then suddenly you look up and a whole month has passed? Well, that is what happened to this girl. While I fell in love with blogging over the summer, school came around and suddenly fall semester took over my life. Quite appropriately, I have coined myself  the disappearing girl in this post So, with my deepest apologies, here is a look as to what has been going on in my world.

 

July 28th, Warped Tour 2014

image_7Hot, sweaty, and oh so sweet. Here is a photo of John O’Callaghan of The Maine and I before the day had begun. Warped Orlando never fails to impress.

August 14th, Trevor bring home his new puppy.

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image_2Sweet, sweet Hazel. Trevor (my boyfriend) got a chocolate lab puppy, named her Hazel, and brought her into his home. She is now about three times this size and 30 times as hyper, but we love her endlessly.

September 4th/5th, We went to a Twenty One Pilots hometown show.

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If you are a fan of Twenty One Pilots then one thing is certain, you know the Columbus clique does not mess around. With this in mind, Trevor and I took a trip to Columbus, Ohio and watched our favorite band tear the stage up for two nights in a row. The trip was filled with 9 hour waits in line, countless bottles of water, and the most amazing live experience I have ever had. Every second was worth it.

October 27th, Taylor Swift released 1989.

image_1psIn case you were curious as to what I have been listening to for every second of every day since it has been released. Yes, this album kicks ass so hard.

November 2nd, I had a birthday.

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The day started off at a local favorite, Metro Diner, with  Trevor and my family. We ordered more food than we ever have in our lives. Before my birthday, I knew I could be expecting a huge surprise from Trevor. Little did I know how big the surprise would actually be.

image_1YEP. That’s right, New York City was the surprise. For my birthday/Christmas/two year anniversary, Trevor surprised me with a trip to New York. It has always been a dream of mine to go to NYC, especially as a writer. You can’t tell from this photo, but I cried when I pulled the snow globe from the bag.

The day didn’t finish there though…

image_2psI opened the next mystery bag to tickets to the Glamour Kills Holiday Festival. If you are going to the show, come say hello! Also, very important question for northern concert attendees: what the hell do you wear when in transit to the show even though you know you will be sweating during the show?! My Floridian self is going to be freezing but I don’t want to have to hold clothing during the show.

In addition to the show, we are also seeing Cabaret with Emma Stone and Chicago on Broadway.

November 4th, I did my civic duty and participated in voting for the first time

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Last Tuesday, Gus enjoys a lazy morning snooze.

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Truth be told, I’ve missing updating the Internet on the happenings of my world. Starting now, we change that. So, there was a glimpse into my life as it has been for the past few months. Now, let’s get this show on the road.

Pantene #ShineStrong Video Series

Recently, as part of Pantene’s #ShineStrong video campaign series, a video was released titled “Not Sorry”. This video depicts women who use the word “sorry” as a method of excusing themselves.

Let me just say, this video is so spot on. I have found myself saying sorry for virtually anything. The “Not Sorry” video is just another addition to the #ShineStrong videos.

The other one I came across is the labels that women receive in the workplace and around the world. For example, a woman washing her face is labeled as vain while the man who does so is labeled as neat.

I encourage you all to check out these videos and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. They are both pretty eye-opening.

This Week in The World of Sam

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Hello everyone!

This weekend is going to be chaotic and filled with music and good times. On Saturday, today, I am heading with my friends to go see Fall Out Boy and Paramore on Monumentour in Tampa. Then, right from there, we are heading to Orlando to crash at my cousins house and then go directly to Warped Tour on Sunday.

If you are going to Warped this weekend and need some last minute tips, check out this post where I shared mine.

I cannot wait to review the Tampa Monumentour show and share my Warped experience. Look out for my upcoming posts about these shows within the next week.

DIY: Croissant French Toast

A local favorite breakfast location is the wonderful Metro Diner. We love Metro, I mean seriously. Their food is amazing. It has even been featured on Diner’s, Drive Ins, and Dives. Naturally, it’s not always convenient to make the trip to Metro for breakfast, but when we do, it sure is tasty.

To hold me over until I can get the real thing, I decided to whip up my own version of my favorite Metro dish: the Croissant French Toast. I simply used eggstirs and a croissant from my local grocery store.

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I took one croissant and sliced it in half, then dipped that into a bowl of the eggstirs. Typical method of french toast making. I greased a medium sized pan, plopped the eggstir-soaked french toast on and cooked it as normal.

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IMG_4203Boom! We have Croissant French Toast. Since the croissant was already buttered, I didn’t need to butter it additionally. Let me just say, this stuff was delicious.

IMG_4206Super easy and fast. If you’re in the mood for a guilty pleasure breakfast or even breakfast for dinner, give it a try! It was no Metro, but still delicious.

 

 

 

The True Importance of Sex Education

On May 24th, Rollingout.com posted the list of the Top 25 cities with HIV and AIDS rates. Coming in at number three, Jacksonville FL, my hometown. In fact, 6 of the geographical locations on the list of 25 cities were located in Florida. It is not shocking news that the Deep South leads in the number of cases of HIV and AIDS. This has been public knowledge for quite some time and people have been reporting on it for years. The real question is, why aren’t these numbers going down?

In my 7th grade Biology class we were required to have a two-week class on Sex Education. Immature and naïve, we all giggled thinking that we would see a teacher put a condom on a banana. In reality, we had two weeks of fear. We were shown images of genital warts, told that sex was not to be had until marriage, and that AIDS leads to death which is caused by sex. Over and over again we were slammed with the concept of Abstinence with a capital A because that was the only choice. I guess the public school system decided that if we were all virgins until we were married, no one would get HIV.

I have two words for you, Florida Department of Education: Ha. Ha.

While I personally wasn’t sexually active in 7th grade (dear god, I cannot imagine), I had classmates who did the deed as early as the 8th grade. Sex was on our minds. We live in a culture where sex is everywhere. Have you seen that ridiculous burger commercial where the over-sexualized woman in a bikini eats a burger while washing a car? I’m not actually sure about the car washing part but that is how it feels: dirty and sexual. Children are exposed to this culture in the media every day and they are not stupid.

Let’s put it this way: if we are hitting puberty anywhere from ages 9-16, we are thinking about sex and that is biology (although my 7th grade teacher refused to admit so). So it is improbable that we will think that abstinence is the best thing for us at this age or really any of the following years.

In my sophomore year of high school, it was no better. My teacher, with his slow, thick, southern accent (this just adds to the hilarious image), went full on Mean Girls on us and told us that we would die if we had sex. If we had sex, we would literally die. An EDUCATOR told a group of 16 year olds that they would die from sex. At this point, a quarter of the room had already had sex and could attest that they, in fact, did not die and those of us who had not knew that this was laughable. And laugh we did. He told us that if his son had sex or brought a girl home pregnant, it would be the end. Not once did my teacher tell us that there were ways to prevent such pregnancies and ways to have SAFE SEX.

SAFE SEX?!

Yes, it’s true, educators of Florida. Safe sex is what you have when you are being responsible. The fact remains: teens have sex. This novel concept of teaching kids to NOT have sex until they are married is bogus. We all know it. Just like you did at 17, we all felt the same urges and we all were just as confident that it was the right choice.

How about instead of teaching our children that sex is the work of the devil, we teach kids how to do what they are going to do as safely as possible. How about we teach the future generation of America that sex is not something you play around with, but once you do, you must use protection.

According to Florida State Statute 1003.46 Health Education; Instruction in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome,

(1) Each district school board may provide instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome education as a specific area of health education. Such instruction may include, but is not limited to, the known modes of transmission, signs and symptoms, risk factors associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and means used to control the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The instruction shall be appropriate for the grade and age of the student and shall reflect current theory, knowledge, and practice regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome and its prevention.

(2) Throughout instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education, when such instruction and course material contains instruction in human sexuality, a school shall:

(a) Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage.

(b) Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity is a certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and other associated health problems.

(c) Teach that each student has the power to control personal behavior and encourage students to base actions on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others.

  (d) Provide instruction and material that is appropriate for the grade and age of the student.”

I want to highlight a point that this statute is making: Abstinence.

(May I also point out that they specifically aim to teach that a monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only way to be safe? That’s another story for another day though.)

People are dying and suffering from HIV and AIDS. We cannot let the idea of “abstinence is the way” be what our children are raised on. Adolescents should understand the benefits of birth control, understand how to be safe, and understand that sex will not kill you. Adults and educators alike shake their heads at another teen pregnancy and blame someone other than themselves. How often did these pregnant girls think that “pulling out” was enough or that they would “be alright just this once”? The concept of abstinence is harming the people with 1,728 cases in just Duval County in the year 2012, this is something we cannot afford to avoid talking about.

 

 

 


For More Information/Sources:

To view a map of The United States by the CDC, color coated with affected areas: http://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/NCHHSTPAtlas/main.html

For more information on HIV/AIDS: http://www.cdc.gov/

Jacksonville Based News Article: http://www.news4jax.com/news/jacksonville-ranked-third-in-nation-in-hivaids-rates/26216982

Rollingout.com’s List: http://rollingout.com/health/top-25-cities-high-hivaids-rate/

Florida DEO’s Sex Education Information: http://www.fldoe.org/bii/cshp/Education/HIV_STD/policies.asp

Article in The Nation addressing this issue: http://www.thenation.com/blog/177506/deep-south-latest-epicenter-hiv-epidemic#

University of Michigan information on puberty: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/puberty.htm

 

Memories and New Beginnings

Hello World,

Graduation day is quickly approaching (and by quickly approaching, I mean I graduate on May 30th *insert nervous laugh here*) I guess it didn’t really set in that I was graduating, my friends were leaving, and that nothing would be the same until I received my senior yearbook. I’ve spent the first three years of my high school career working on The Talon staff and this past year, I was the editor. With my last book in my hands, I can’t help but to feel a bit nostalgic of the times I had while in high school. The fact that I will never work on a yearbook again is something I am not sure I’m ready to embrace yet. With all of these changes, though, I am so ridiculously excited for the new beginnings that are sure to come with them. Anyway, just thought I would share some photos of the book! If you can’t tell from the cover, we went with a game board theme this year. I’m ecstatic with how this one turned out.

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