Friday Favorites!

Here are my favorites from this past week!  TGIF!

Local Dish:  Tamales from Luna Maya (in Norfolk, VA)

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Sweet Treat:  Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

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Fashion:  Jumpsuits/Rompers/Onesies – whatever you choose to call them… I’m obsessed!  I’ve already bought three super comfortable ones from TJ Maxx and I can’t stop wearing them.

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ImageInspirational Read:  Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele

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Kitchen Gadget:  Paderno Spiralizer

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Sappy Viral Video:  Mr. G and Jellybean

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Summer Drink:  Stumplifter (as I call it) – a.k.a. Summer Beer

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Home Decoration:  Candy Jar (I put dark chocolate and pretzel M&M’s in mine!)

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New Album:  Coldplay’s Ghost Stories

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Taking control of our skin: for now AND the future

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I usually try to avoid discussing depressing or negative topics in this blog, but sometimes bringing up certain topics is just one of those necessary evils that we have to face. When it comes to skin care, I have always been pretty good about wearing sunscreen and especially wearing hats when in the sun because of my tendency to burn and get moles. Also, my skin has ALWAYS been sensitive to the sun, whether it was shown through miserable days of sun poisoning or simply unexpected sunburn when sunscreen was forgotten. However, I have been a teenager AND beach kid, making avoidance of the sun and covering up in the summer months almost impossible. Since I have such a tendency to get moles and freckles after being in the sun, I’ve already been to the dermatologist to get about 5 moles taken off so far… and I’m only 21 years old. Yes, that may seem a bit over the top, but I am always reminding myself that the small and annoying scars resulting from getting a few moles taken off will always be FAR less detrimental than the discovery of skin cancer down the road.  

In the U.S, skin cancer has been on the rise for a long time and its ascent is definitely not stopping anytime soon- especially while we still have tanning beds in every city and continue to glamourize the look of tanned skin in the media. Also, skin cancer is rising not only among the older age groups but also among many young women. It’s frustrating to me that we are still putting ourselves at risk so often, especially while the world is trying so hard to keep us educated about the rise in skin cancer and ways to prevent it. My generation is especially guilty of this negligence because we have the access to so many sources of information and protective measures today, but we are still barely putting them to use! I think that people, especially women my age, simply don’t think that skin cancer is as much of a risk and danger to them as it really is. They’re choosing to ignore the facts and are instead choosing to believe that they won’t get cancer, just because. We need to start taking it seriously and stop believing that we are immune. Also, people today aren’t checking up on their family history, which is another huge factor affecting the development of skin cancer. Ask your family members if they’ve had any form of skin cancer and make sure you let your dermatologist know if anyone has. Also, make sure that you actually go to a dermatologist at least once a year (in my opinion). A tiny mole or even a red spot can end up being cancerous; so don’t think that your “safe-looking” spots are in the clear. I started going to a dermatologist about 4 years ago and you should get on it if you haven’t already started going to your own.

Today, there are so many ways to reduce your risk and even prevent getting skin cancer that it’s truly disappointing how many of us are still using tanning beds and ignoring the rising rates of diagnosis. I know it may seem difficult for many of you to actually WANT to prevent your skin from getting tan and golden, especially when the weather starts getting warm. With the universal belief floating around our culture that being tan is beautiful and healthy, our heads obviously can’t always be in the right place when it comes to sun exposure. However, fair and pale skin is honestly just as (if not more) beautiful and much healthier than tanned skin. Plus, it’s more natural looking and won’t leave you with unsightly wrinkles and loads of sunspots (or cancer) on your body down the road. If you aren’t able to force yourself to embrace your natural skin tone all year round, then there is always the option of using self-tanner, which is amazing nowadays! I use self-tanner quite a bit in the spring and summer months myself, and it truly looks just as natural as a real tan does.

Once you are able to come to terms with the reality that tanned skin doesn’t define beauty, all you have to do to protect yourself is wear sunscreen (and makeup with SPF), wear hats and sunglasses, visit the derm every now and then, and stay educated! There are even various types of food that you can eat to help protect your skin from harmful rays. For example, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark veggies, watermelon, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, almonds, sunflower seeds, apples, green tea, red snapper, and even dark chocolate are able to provide extra armor for your skin from the sun. So, clearly there are many EASY ways that you can start protecting your skin and health today, which is the best time to begin since summer is now in full force!

Protect yourself in the sun like I do- with big sunnies and a hat!

ImageThis is my favorite line of sunscreen and sun protection products- they’re available at Nordstrom!

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Now What? Reflections on life post college graduation:

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A little over a week ago, I arrived home from my other home for the past four years at The University of Georgia…for good. I graduated with some of my best friends and had an amazing and bittersweet weekend celebrating such a big milestone in my life. Sitting in the glorious football stadium on graduation night, alongside thousands of my fellow graduates and watching the celebratory firework display shooting into the night sky above us, I hadn’t yet realized that I was no longer a student, but an alumna of an amazing school and officially part of the “real world.” Even today, a week after being separated from my adorable house, roommates, and college town, I still don’t think the reality has set in. In a few weeks, I start a retail management internship at one of my favorite companies, Nordstrom, in northern Virginia. I’ll luckily be joined by my best childhood friend while living in NoVa, but still, things will be different as a college grad. I’m no longer a kid and it’s finally time to truly be a responsible human being and accountable for all of my actions and decisions. I can’t say that this is a depressing change, but it will be a different, new, and hopefully exciting part of being a college graduate! I’m sure that all of you who have also just finished your college career and are either at home searching for a job or starting a new one have similar feelings about this whole “real world” thing. It’s scary and bittersweet, but it’s also exciting. For those of you who, like me, fell in love with your college town and couldn’t help but cry when leaving it behind, I am happy to share the knowledge that these places that we still want to call home will change, just as we are changing. I’m glad that I’ll at least be aware that when I return to one of my favorite places in the world, Athens, GA, it won’t be the same as it was when I was in college there. I’ll always remember that town the way that I left it, surrounded by years of memories and best friends, and (hopefully) be accepting when it doesn’t feel or look the same upon my next return. This, I’m pretty confident about, which actually does make it easier to put the past behind and move into the next chapter of my life.

So, over the past week that I have been home in Virginia, it feels as if I’ve been extremely busy unpacking and repacking my life. I haven’t had too much time to mull over the sad thoughts of actually being finished with college and not being around my school friends, which is actually a great thing. Whether it’s a good quality or not, I sometimes hate to face reality, especially when it involves saying goodbye, so I can’t help but consider this “busy-ness” a necessity for my soul right now.

I’ll admit, trying to see old friends, cherish my beautiful backyard, and explore new restaurants and hotspots that have popped up while I’ve been away has been stressful, but I know that these are opportunities that I cannot miss before leaving my childhood home so soon. Since I only have about two more weeks until my departure, I wanted to put together a list of things that everyone (including myself), who has recently graduated and is stuck in this unexplainable state of limbo, should try to do. I’ve personally checked off a few of these tasks already, but I know that true closure can only be successful if everything on this list is at least attempted before leaving. I urge you to do the same if you have the time because (hopefully) it’ll set you in the right direction to a great start in the next chapter of your life! Good luck!

1. Unpack everything you brought home as quickly as possible- the sooner you do this, the better; I know it sucks but it has to be done!

2. Take or print out some of your favorite college pictures and actually put them into a picture frame (not just onto your iPhoto)- you’ll     soon cherish actually having hard copies of these pictures in your new place!  

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3. Get everything you need for your new place (if you aren’t living at home) before you actually move in and start a job. Spending your first night in a new place will be much more peaceful knowing that you’re DONE with decorating and shopping and you’ll be able to actually focus on the new job instead of where to find the cheapest mattress for your new bed after work!

4. Get a haircut- you’ve probably been pretty lazy at college when it comes to grooming and your hair in particular; maybe mom and dad will pay for your new haircut and you can leave feeling like the newly mature adult that you’ve become!

5. Spend as much time with your family as possible- if you’re heading to a new town or even just moving out of the family home, you won’t realize how important family is until your probably already gone; and yes, try to listen to the hours of lectures and “advice” coming your way…even though it’s annoying to hear, they most likely know what’s best for you

6. Also, try to spend time with old friends…but especially the ones who really matter- yes, it’s fun and exciting to hang out and party with old friends from high school, but really take the time to spend quality time with those who care about you the most. By now, you should know who those people are.

7. Catch up on all of your TV shows or see that funny movie that just came out in theaters while you can- exams and school put me way behind on the TV shows that I love to watch and I NEVER went to the movies in college, and most likely things will be the same when you start a new job or the job search. Take advantage of this time to get all of your guilty pleasures out of your system.

8. Get back into that hobby that you always wanted to do at school, but “never had time to do” – I always wanted to read, sketch, and play guitar at school but felt as if I never had enough time to do it all. This small amount of time at home is your chance to get into it again and make it a habit to devote a few hours a week to whatever hobby you have so you can keep up with it in the future!

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9. Take the time to play and cuddle with your pets as much as you can if you’ll be leaving them again and DO NOT get your own pet! Even though everyone wants a dog after graduation (myself included), you need to realize that this is actually the worst time to get one. You need time for yourself and your career, without the stress on time and money that comes with owning a new puppy; no matter now much you want one!

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10. Learn to cook…and not just ramen noodles or grilled cheese – I am lucky that I’m obsessed with food and love to cook, but I know that so many people my age are the complete opposite. When you’re on your own and actually have to be an adult, you’ll need to know how to cook healthy meals and start treating your body right early on. You also get bonus points if you start working out or continue your workout routine that you maintained in college!

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11. Learn how to save money and actually listen to your mom or dad when they’re telling you how to do it! As a part of the millennial generation, we have so many barriers and roadblocks when it comes to making and saving money. Everyone is in debt but doesn’t know how to reverse the damage. We need to really work on our spending habits since the recession put a damper on a lot of our job opportunities, wallets, and positive outlooks for the future. The time to start is NOW!

12. Even though it may sound really cheesy, gather all of your special college memorabilia (if you saved it), such as ticket stubs, silly photos, and road trip souvenirs, and put them into a container specified for your college memories. Every now and then, you may want to revisit some of these memories and there is no easier way to do this than by simply pulling out that special box!

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