Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to: Make Buffalo Chicken Dip

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and my team, the New England Patriots, are playing! Because of this, I thought it would be fun to share the recipe to one of my favorite appetizers of all time - Buffalo Chicken Dip! I LOVE this recipe and it is an absolutely perfect treat to bring to your Super Bowl party this weekend!

I first discovered Buffalo Chicken Dip at a 4th of July party a few years ago, and while I was a little bit skeptical of whether or not I'd like it (I'm not a huge fan of spicy foods), I gave it a shot and instantly fell in love. The ingredients in this dip really cool off the spiciness of the Buffalo sauce, and if you'd like you can even opt to use a more mild or more intense Buffalo sauce, depending on what your spice preference is. This recipe only calls for 5 ingredients, can be completed in about an hour, and will be a huge hit at whatever party you bring this to! Let's get into it, shall we?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Instaspiration {#3}

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, and I figured what better time to share some inspiration than my first full week back to school and work? There surprisingly hasn't been all that much inspiration on my Instagram as of late, so I had to go out searching for some motivational quotes and posts that I would want to share with everyone. My search resulted in a wonderful confidence boost and some fun new accounts to follow as well! (Click to make it bigger!)

Hope you all find some inspiration in these quotes and have a fabulous week!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Serial and Cereal

The last few weeks before students returned to the three campuses I work at were pretty low-key. I started and finished Yes, Please (if you love Amy Poehler you will love her book), finished watching House of Cards (honestly, not my favorite show in the world - I'm not hugely interested in politics - but I'm going to give it one more season before calling it quits), and have continued to clear out and organize my apartment for the impending clutter of the new semester. My final semester of graduate courses start on Monday and I'm feeling ready!

Over the weekend, Brett and I took a road trip up to New Hampshire to give my parents a visit before classes start up again and swallow me whole. On the way up we decided to give the Serial podcast a shot and it hooked us and hooked us hard. We listened to about two or three episodes in the car, but when we got to the house we replaced our Netflix-before-bed ritual with listening to Serial 1930's style. It was a cool change of pace!

New program idea: Serial and cereal!

The podcast revisits a true murder case out of Baltimore, Maryland that occurred in 1999, and outlines some of the major holes that weren't filled in before sentencing a teenager to life in prison. Brett and I managed to finish up the entire podcast in one weekend and we are both SO FRUSTRATED by the ending! I won't post my thoughts on what I think the outcome is so I don't spoil anything for those of you that are interested in checking it out, but I highly, highly recommend listening to this true story in your spare time. I guarantee it will leave you wanting more when you finish it!

We also spent a lot of time these last few weeks cheering on the Patriots and watching them punch their ticket to Super Bowl XLIX. I think my face in this photo really sums up how I feel about it:

I'm so excited but SO NERVOUS! The Seahawks are a scary team (we were rooting for Green Bay to win), and I really don't want to come out of a third Super Bowl feeling deflated. We'll just have to see how it all plays out on February 1st! 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Year 2: Goals for Spring 2015

This is it, folks. The fourth and final semester of my #SAgrad experience. It seems that just last week I was stressing out over which programs would accept me and where I would end up in the following months. Now, I find myself in a strangely similar situation, only instead of worrying about a graduate program, I'm unsure of what institution will want me to join their team as a full-time staff member/real life person. Guys, at some point in the next few months, I'm going to be pretty dang close being to an actual adult. WHAT.

With the students being back in action at all of the campuses I work at, graduate classes starting next Monday, and my Master's degree so close I can taste it, I think now is the perfect time for me to set some serious goals for myself to take me through this last semester before REALLY being forced into the real world. I'm nervous, I'm unsure, but I'm ready.

1. Make relationships a bigger priority | I would say that I definitely neglected my relationships with friends, family, and even with Brett a little bit throughout my experience as a graduate student. I'm very lucky to have extremely supportive people in my life that understand that I can't call them or spend time with them due to my busy schedule, but at the end of the day, they're the ones that are there for me through thick and thin and I really need to start making them a larger priority in my life. I hope to make a much bigger effort to spend time with them as I near the end of my grad experience.

2. Maintain GPA & graduate with honors | Similar to last semester, I would love to keep my GPA up. I was able to graduate with honors from my undergraduate institution, and although I know GPA and grades aren't really what gives you a job after graduation, it's something that I'll feel accomplished about if I am able to pull off again as a graduate student.

3. Embrace creativity | For Christmas I was fortunate enough to receive a wide variety of arts and crafts materials, as well as a new GoPro camera. I really want to make the most of these gifts and really tap into my creativity. I find that I can let out the most stress when I'm running and when I'm creating, I think I've focused more on running than creating while I've been in grad school because running allows you to shut your brain off while creating forces you to use your brain, which is often the last thing I want to do when I get home after a 13+ hour day of problem solving at work and learning new things in class. However, I know that creating is something I always say I wish I had more time for, so I intend to try and squeeze in a bit more creativity in my life this semester in order to satisfy that wish.

4. Chin up, chin up, chin up! | I'm going to be honest here: I am definitely not looking forward to the job search process. Dealing with uncertainty and rejection are not my strongest qualities, but those are both things that I'm going to have to deal with frequently over the next few months. I have to remember that it's all part of the process and that I will wind up where I need to be. This will also be a great opportunity to lean on my first goal a bit, and remind myself why the people I have in my life are so special. They make my heart feel full when the rest of me is feeling a bit empty!

5. Make time for at least one race | As I'm picturing this semester, I'm having a hard time factoring in any sort of race. I'm hoping to make time for at least one race to keep my mind focused on something other than how stressed out I am! I have a few half marathons in mind, so we'll see when/where I'll be running this semester.

6. Spend more time away from screens | I spend most of each day staring at a screen for work. During breaks, I'll typically stare at my phone screen checking Twitter, Instagram, or reading blog posts. When I'm in class, I'm typically staring at a projection screen for 3 hour lectures. When I get home at night, I continue to stare at a TV screen or the screen of my iPad watching Netflix, or at the screen of my computer typing this or that for class. I spend A LOT of time staring at screens, and I'd like to reduce that time if at all possible. As I mentioned in goal #3, I could spend some time painting or drawing, I could spend some more time curling up with a book that I actually want to read, or I can devote more time talking to the people I care about. I want to get away from staring at screens for every waking second, if at all possible!

7. Keep moving forward | Similar to #4, I need to remember that even if things aren't moving as quickly as I'd like them to in the job search process, it doesn't mean other aspects of my life have to completely stop. There's a serious possibility that I may not have a job lined up on graduation day, but that doesn't mean the world is going to stop spinning. I can move forward with my relationships. I can move forward with my running, blogging, and art. I can move forward on a lot of aspects of my life while I'm waiting for my career to begin. I just need to remember that it's okay to not have everything in life figured out!


Like I did in the fall, I'm going to print the image used in this post and stick it at my work desk, in my home office, and in my Filofax, so I can see my goals throughout the whole semester. These goals are a bit daunting but I think they'll be attainable if I just keep them in mind. I'll give you an update of how I did after graduation (again - WHAT.)!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Organize My Life: Home Office Set Up

{Organize My Life is a multi-post series all about (you guessed it) organization! Make sure you check out the other posts listed at the end of each entry (as most of these posts will reference one another), as well as the coinciding video!} 

When I was moved into my apartment a year and a half ago, I was lucky enough to have a spare room to play with. With graduate school looming and in need of a work space, I turned this spare room into a home office! It has taken me a while to find a system that works for me in the space that I had been given (it's a pretty small room and can't really be used for a lot), but I finally think I have a pretty good set up that's conducive to my working style. I love when other bloggers show of their work spaces, so I thought I'd show you mine!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Few of my Favorite Links {#10}

It's been a while since my last favorite links post! Over winter break, I spent most of my time on the internet re-watching my favorite YouTube videos, binging on my favorite shows on Netflix, and really just rotting my brain in general. I hadn't been paying too much attention to any new links that I found interesting, so I never gathered enough internet goodies to share with you all. Realizing this, I have finally pulled together enough awesomeness over the past two weeks to share with you my first batch of favorite links for 2015! Hope you enjoy. :)

"Saint Optimus of Prime" Stained Glass Window

As I was scrolling through my feed of blogs, this Geekologie post stopped me right in my tracks. This beautifully awesome piece was done by a software engineer, and as incredible as this is, it was only the first stained glass piece he had ever made! I showed this to Brett and he agreed... We would both love to have something this nerdy and beautiful in our future home!

This post displays one of the main reasons I love Tumblr - it points out things in popular culture that I had never realized before, and Disney is not immune. This Buzzfeed article pulls some of the most mind-blowing posts deconstructing Disney movies and some of their hidden meanings (with a few posts poking fun of the franchise thrown in there).

Let's be honest - would it really be a Favorite Links post without an article on Elephants? This is a story of a wild male elephant who saw a captive female from outside of a zoo's fence and broke in to mate with her. A pretty adorable yet bizarre story. It mostly makes me wonder: why there is a zoo and an elephant sanctuary so close together? How do they decide which animals are captive and which are wild? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Howe & Howe's Minirip All Terrain Vehicle

This. Looks. AWESOME. For a girl who has grown up playing outside in the snow in the middle of the woods, this would have been so fun to tear around on with my dad and sister! As soon as I saw this video, I forwarded it to my dad as an idea for his next big project. ;)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's 2015 Golden Globes Monologue

Reason 126,835 why the internet is awesome: I didn't get to watch the Golden Globes on Sunday evening, but the internet was sure to upload Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's monologue and have it ready for me to watch Monday morning. Perfect! Tina and Amy are for sure the two women in Hollywood that I idolize the most. Definitely have huge girl crushes on both of them! 

I just finished up reading Yes Please this weekend (it took me about a week to read which is FAST for me) and I read Bossypants in the fall of 2012 (took me about the same amount of time to finish this one) and just learning about how hard these women worked to get to where they are and how great of a friendship they have is so inspiring and empowering. These women are fantastic role models, and as Parks and Rec comes to an end this winter (NOOOOOO), I'm really interested to see what these two will get up to next!

15 Puppies Seeing Snow for the First Time Will Warm Your Cold Winter Heart

I don't think the title of this post could be more accurate. I recommend grabbing a mug of hot cocoa, wrapping yourself in a blanket, and scrolling through this gallery to cheer you up about how disgustingly cold it is outside!

What are your favorite links of the moment?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

25 Before 25: Go to a Shooting Range (#24)

On Christmas Eve, my dad took Brett and I to an shooting range! He noticed that this item was on my list of goals and wanted to help me out with it, and he thought it would be a fun thing to check off on Christmas Eve - which it was! The range was indoors, and you could bring in your own firearms or rent the firearms from the facility (they had so many crazy weapons you could try out, including machine guns!).

My dad had his own firearm that he brought for us to try - a 9mm pistol. Though it seemed to fit both my dad's and Brett's hands fine, mine are a bit smaller so the gun was on the bigger side for me which made it harder to handle. (When I later spoke with my mom, she agreed that it was also a bit big for her when she tried it out at the range!) We practiced shooting on a regular target as well as a zombie target (it's always fun to imagine yourself fighting off the zombie apocalypse!). I eventually got a bit more used to the size of the gun and wasn't too terrible at aiming, though I definitely agreed with my dad that I probably wouldn't be able to shoot a moving target unless it was 10 feet in front of me!.

I've never shot a gun before (outside of my sister's BB gun once or twice when we were younger), and though it was a little nerve wracking at first, it was really cool to understand the hobby of shooting a bit better and try something a little out of my comfort zone. This was a really fun experience to share with my dad, and I hope that we go again in the future! 

If you'd like to see some video of the three of us shooting,
check out my Christmas Eve vlog below!

*I'm attempting to reach 25 goals before I reach the age of 25! Want to see the whole list? Check it out here!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Organize My Life: Switching to Filofax

{Organize My Life is a multi-post series all about (you guessed it) organization! Make sure you check out the other posts listed at the end of each entry (as most of these posts will reference one another), as well as the coinciding video!}

If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I have recently made the switch from my beloved Erin Condren Life Planner to a Personal Filofax Cover Story in the Floral Burst Design. That means it's time I give you guys and inside look of how I've set it up and why I made the switch!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Holiday Recap

Hello everyone! The holiday season has officially come to a close and though it was long and involved lots of travelling for Brett and I, it was a blast! 

The first holiday we celebrated this season was Christmas! Pretty much as soon as I was done with classes, I headed out to spend time with Brett and his family. Removing myself from my on-campus apartment was a much needed change for the holidays, and allowed me to mentally unplug from all the stress. We spent the first couple days of break doing holiday themed activities, like going to the Millis Wonderland light display, watching Christmas movies, and drinking eggnog (our favorite). (P.S. Did you guys try the eggnog shakes from McDonald's? HEAVEN.)

The weekend before Christmas we headed to my parents' house in NH to spend some time with them and the pups. We played a lot of Wii Sports, ate lots of good food, and caught up on our lazy days and puppy cuddles (the rainy weather really made us feel pretty guilt-free about this!). In honor of our upcoming family trip to Mexico and the Western Caribbean, we indulged in a Mexican fiesta Christmas Eve complete with Margaritas and quesadillas! We ended the day full of shooting*, drinking, and eating, with a hilarious game of Heads Up with my parents before patiently waiting for Santa to arrive.

We woke up to a full tree and stockings for all! Santa was extremely generous to us this year, and I feel so lucky to have such caring people in my life. It's been hard for me around Christmas the past few years because I'm at a point in my life where I want to give so much more to my loved ones than I am currently financially able to, but I know in the years to come I'll be able to treat everyone else the same way they treat me around the holidays. I am truly, truly the luckiest girl in the world!

After presents and a Christmas lunch of steak tips, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole (SO AMAZING), we packed up our gifts and headed to MA to spend the rest of Christmas Day with Brett's family. We gave some gifts, ate an awesome dinner, and I bonded with his 2 year-old niece by reading a book about colors and watching Go, Diego, Go! #precious We sleepily left this Christmas celebration for our third and final stop, our friend Kyle's house. I made my favorite buffalo chicken dip while the guys played the new Madden on the PS4 and I tried not to fall asleep on the couch. (Christmas is exhausting!) 

After about week of recuperating from the Christmas hangover, Brett and I ventured down to New Jersey to spend time with my good friends Noble and Jeff! It had been about a year and half since I had last seen them, so New Year's was the perfect excuse to make the trip down! The drive is only about 3 and a half hours if traffic doesn't tangle you up, so it was definitely time for a road trip. We packed up Dory and headed down on the 30th so as to not get caught in the mad rush into NYC for their New Year's Eve festivities. We made it to their apartment right around dinner time!

Brett had never had a true New Jersey experience, so we made sure we got him a Taylor Ham sandwich (which he obviously loved, and we definitely got more than just one during the time we were there). Jeff and Noble threw two parties during our stay as well - one for New Year's Eve, and one for a group of Jeff's friends. We played lots of fun party games like Catchphrase, Heads Up, and Cards Against Humanity, had tons of yummy food and drinks like S'mores Pie (UNREAL), Cannoli Cookies (DOUBLE UNREAL), and chocolate wine (WHAT), and had an overall fantastic time.

It was a wonderful holiday season and I got to spend it with the best people in the world! Brett and I did a little bit of vlogging throughout the holidays, so make sure you check out the playlist below if you'd like to see more of what we got up to!:

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season! :)

*I'll be posting more about this later this week! ;)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Confidence in 2015

I really like the sound of 2015. It just seems like a nice, crisp, well-rounded number, and if you know me at all, you know it's my favorite when things are crisp and well-rounded! 2015 is going to bring so much change and adventure into my life. A new degree, a beginning to a full-time career in Student Affairs, searching for a new place to live with my favorite guy... 2015 is going to be huge and I can't wait to see what it has to offer!

At the beginning of 2014, I picked a mantra for the year - "just breathe" - and it helped me focus on not panicking over the small stuff, something I was definitely struggling with. While I've been in graduate school, I've definitely had some issues with confidence. I often find myself wondering if what I'm doing is good enough for the people around me - for my family, for my professors, for my supervisors, etc. - and honestly, it's exhausting. I'm not sure why I do it because as far as I know, no one has any problems with what I'm doing in any part of my life. 

This year, the word I'm going to choose to live by is CONFIDENCE. I want to start owning what I do and what I've accomplished and feel good about it. I want to build up my confidence and be proud of what I do in 2015. It's going to take some adjusting to this mentality, but I have the whole year to spend with the idea of confidence, so I'm sure it'll all click at some point!


Do you have a word or mantra for 2015?