BLOGMAS DAY #1 // Holiday Bucket List

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I was following the pack
All swaddled in their coats
With scarves of red tied ’round their throats
To keep their little heads
From fallin’ in the snow
And I turned ’round and there you go
And, Michael, you would fall
And turn the white snow red as strawberries
In the summertime
— White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes

OK, so, it’s pretty damn obvious I am OBSESSED with Christmas. I don’t know when or why or how or what the heck happened (obviously my Mother sprinkled Christmas fairy dust in my crib when no one was looking…) but I’m GOSH DARN JOLLY at this time of year.

The fact that I am now living in NYC makes it so much more exciting because there really is no place better to spend the holidays than in NYC. The city of lights turns into the city of Christmas lights and asdfghjkl, it’s magical. There is so much about Christmas that I love, but I won’t write 17 million paragraphs about it right now or I won’t have any content left for the rest of Blogmas…so let’s just start with Day #1, shall we?

For today’s post, I will be writing down my holiday bucket list for 2016. There really is so much I want to do this year – I’d like to do some things I’ve put off year after year, while I’d also like to revisit some traditions. Of course, I went on PINTEREST (Jesus Christ, why?) and basically further elongated my list. However, I want this bucket list to be more like a list of goals – attainable and practical goals.

// Bucket List //

1. COMPLETE BLOGMAS
Ugh, I’m so bad with monthly challenges. I’m usually fine for the first week (I’m lying, I don’t get past day #4), then like the pleb I am, I completely fall off the bandwagon. Routine isn’t my friend. Legit, I WILL set an alarm if I need to. We’re getting these posts done! To make it easier for everyone to follow my Blogmas posts, I will add a link at the end of each post.

And, seriously, to the ones who already completed Blogmas in November, or August because you’re nuts (because you’re responsible)…HOW ARE YOU LIKE THIS?

2. ATTEND A HOLIDAY MARKET
So far, I have 3 pop-up markets in mind: Jingle @ Chelsea Market, Union Square Holiday Market, and Bryant Park’s Winter Village. I have never been to any of these events, but have been wanting to go to them for quite some time. From what I know, the Chelsea Market pop-up includes live music, Union Square’s Holiday Market offers tons of homemade gifts, and the Bryant Park market showcases new decor each year, as well as FREE ice skating and a tree-lighting event! All of these markets are very easy to travel to via public transportation which is a big plus.

3. SEND A WRITTEN LETTER TO LOVED ONES + HOLIDAY TEA BAG
Because I am so far away from family and friends, I don’t usually purchase and wrap gifts. In the occasion that I do buy gifts, I will order something online and ship it directly (because I’m lazy). This year, however, I want to take the time to actually write a letter to loved ones (my best friend, parents, and grandparents) and include these holiday tea bag(s) with my letters – a tradition I’d like to adopt from my Grandparents.

4. DIY CHRISTMAS CARDS, TREES, AND SNOWFLAKES
In addition to writing letters, I’d also like to dabble in DIY printables, including Christmas cards (for the letters), trees, and snowflakes to tape on the walls around the apartment because it’s cheaper and frankly, a lot cuter than buying any kind of decor!

5. BUY A SMALL HOLIDAY POTTED PLANT
When I lived at home, one of my favorite parts of Christmas was picking up a tree from Lowes with my parents and decorating it. Unfortunately, now I like in a 750 square box in Manhattan! We just don’t have space for a tree. *sobs* Not to mention, I have a cat who is absolutely fascinated with Christmas trees and would probably knock it over hundreds of times! I noticed the flower shop down the street just brought out these tiny potted ferns that are just too cute to pass up!! Not to mention, the money we’ll save! A little plant I can take care of that costs $5 beats a gigantic tree that costs $60 (don’t forget the tree skirt, ornaments and cat repellent!) Fact of the matter is, a Christmas tree is an expensive investment.

6. HOST A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY
This is something I knew I wanted to do since Halloween. It’s just a matter of figuring out what I’m going to send! I want to include an extra-special written letter, and “stocking stuffer” type goodies – candies, holiday stickers, and maybe a few holiday-inspired beauty, body or home products! I have tons of ideas including mittens, fuzzy Christmas socks, lipstick, nail polish, candles, and candy canes. I’m not going to pretend this isn’t self-advertisement and exposure for my blog, because YES MARY, is it.

7. BUY A PLANNER AND JOURNAL FOR 2017
If I’m going to take 2017 by storm, I’m going to need to be prepared. If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself over recent years it’s that I am most productive when I write things down…and by things, I mean EVERYTHING! When it comes to daily writing, tackling goals, making appointments, or lists – I’m telling you, planners and journals are a must-have. If you did not utilize a planner or journal this year, I highly recommend checking it out for next year.

8. MAKE A DONATION TO TOYS FOR TOTS, NEW YORK CARES COAT DRIVE, TEACHERS WITHOUT BORDERS, AND DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
Like I mentioned above, I will probably not do any in-store shopping this year, but I am considering making product donation purchases online (toys and a coat – if I can budget it in), if not, I will make a $1-5 donation to all of the above organizations. I’m unsure if I’ve mentioned this on my blog yet, but I’m actually a member of Teachers Without Borders! If you’re an educator, consider joining! It’s free!

9. PURGE CLOSET AND MAKE A BIG SALVATION ARMY DONATION
Gosh, there is always more purging to do! Because I live in a tiny apartment with virtually no closet or storage space at all, my stuff is basically all out in the open and visible. It’s easy to feel cluttered, and I want to declutter as much as possible. I think this is a great way to kick off the New Year – with less crap. At the very VERY least, I’ll need a dedicated junk drawer…

10. PICK UP A NEW HOLIDAY MUG + MAKE ABUELITA Chocolate W/ MARSHMELLOW AND CANDYCANES
One of my fondest memories as a newly New Yorker was going on 3am trips to Rite Aid with my husband on a Friday or Saturday night. It usually started with, “I’m hungry, is there any take-out spots still open? Nope? Wanna go to Rite Aid?” And, there you have it – a tradition was born. Frozen pizza and hot pockets galore. During the holidays, we’d often be the first to check out new merchandise. So, we’d always get dibs on brand-new gift sets, including the hot chocolate with mugs set, which you guessed it, we bought, every year. Lol. Each time we moved, there’s always been a Rite Aid nearby (which isn’t really that much of a coincidence when there are more Rite Aids than Starbucks OR McDonalds. Yeah, that many! Last year, I discovered the phenomenon that is ABUELITA Chocolate. This year? The candy canes melted in. Every year before that and every day of my life? Marshmallows.

Wanna read another Blogmas post? You can find them all here.

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There was no cake.

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I just turned 25. Growing older is rough – I’d like to think it is for everybody. As morbid pathetic dramatic as it sounds, that’s just another year closer to death. That’s my life slipping through my fingers. That’s time running out.

I’m not bitter. I’m not resentful. I’m just a little bit sad.

Sure, I should be focusing on the growing of wisdom and self, but that’s not where I am right now. If or when I do get there, it’ll be a miracle.

But, never mind that for now. Let me tell you what happened on my 25th birthday.

It started with french toast.

I woke up to the smell of cinnamon. Sticky fingers — maple syrup all over my keyboard — this was the ideal way to start the day. I brushed my teeth, slipped on a skater dress, popped over a cardigan and headed out to Time Square. We were 2 and a half hours early before the first showing of Ant-Man. I’m always early to everything.

There was food. As it should be.

We walked into B.B. Kings. There wasn’t a single soul in this dim lit bar scene. I ordered crawfish. We sat there for an hour oohing and aahing over the food. Thomas proceeded to teach me how to eat pasta properly. “From the edge inwards,” he said. I just sort of stabbed my fork into the bowl and twisted. The food was amazing.

(Which reminds me, I still need to yelp them.)

I just wanted to have fun, you know? Forget for a moment that time was running out. Why the hell am I so dramatic? 

We went to Walgreens and bought 4 king size snickers, a mini-can of pringles, and a turkey sandwich. Of course, I’m always prepared to sneak food into the theater.

Still, we had 45 minutes to kill. We rode escalators. I beat Thomas at a game of Pacman.

We saw the Ant-Man in 3D.

The day ended with an open seat on the train and no incredibly annoying leg-spreader sitting next to me.

So what if there was no cake? It’s not like I ever wait until someone’s birthday to eat cake anyway.

I wrote this on my 25th birthday last year, on a crowded train coming home from Time Square, with Thomas hovering above me holding on to the railing, as he always does. Ironically enough, today is his 29th birthday. I was searching through #tags, looking for anything I wrote that included the word”birthday”, which is a kind of ritual for me – something I do each year. 

Birthdays are hard for both of us. It leaves us with a heavy heart. It makes us cranky. As I wrote above, growing older is rough. It’s like that one Adele song, “We were sad of getting old, it made us restless.” 

Thomas and I have known each other for nearly half of our lives. We’ve seen each other struggle and flourish. Much of which was thanks to each other. At times it was very hard. From all directions, we faced a lot of resistance since the early part of our relationship – when we were literally just kids. For over a decade, we have been a solace to each other. My husband is a sanctuary. I often think if our bond was not as strong as it is today, the last few years would have been very taxing on our relationship because it was very taxing on our individual selves. Life was (is) hard. No one wants a life of struggle where the finish line only gets repeatedly pushed back, until, well, it’s your time to go.

Beyond under-employment and financial struggles, I had experienced a late-term miscarriage followed by many fertility and reproductive health concerns that were not only wearing on my physical health but also my emotional and mental health. It was not an easy recovery, and an on-going one it still is.

The thing is, there won’t always be cake. But life isn’t necessarily about the cake, or the reward, or the finish line. It’s often about the journey. When you reflect back, it may make you a little bit sad, like it does for me. You can feel that. When the memory tugs at your heart, feel it, validate it, embrace it. 

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25 Out-of-the-Ordinary Blogmas Topics // 25-Day Blogmas Challenge 2016

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With only 3 days left of November, I thought this would be the perfect time to share with you all my list of holiday and Christmas blogging topics I have put together for my FIRST EVER Blogmas! I wanted to do something a little unconventional, and create a list that gives myself (and you too) a few prompts that allow for more personal and somewhat extensive writing.

As you may have already noticed, I don’t blog very much about my personal life, but I really would like to change that! I think these prompts are thoughtful and allow me (and you) to get to know each other a lot more!

Last, but not least: I did not create this list with a sequence in mind – feel free to pick and choose which topics to share for which days.

 

1.) Can you think back to your most memorable Christmas? What year was it? How old were you?

2.) Are you religious and how does your faith influence your Christmas and holiday traditions?

3.) Do you celebrate Christmas? If not, do you observe another holiday during this time of year? (Hanukkah, Yule, etc.)

4.) How would you describe your perfect Christmas?

5.) Do you have a holiday bucket list?

6.) Write or share a poem.

7.) Reflect on 2016: What lessons have you learned this year?

8.) Goals for 2017.

9.) Are there any holiday events going on in your community?

10.) What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?

11.) Holiday shopping on a budget.

12.) Christmas dinner on a budget.

13.) What is your favorite holiday or Christmas fable, story, or fairy tale?

14.) What is your favorite Christmas film(s)?

15.) What is your favorite Christmas song?

16.) Learn about and share the history of Christmas.

17.) What makes Christmas or the holidays special for you?

18.) How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus?

19.) How are you spending Christmas this year? Will you be going home for the holidays?

20.) Winter fashion guide.

21.) Winter make-up guide.

 

22.) DIY Christmas Card

23.) DIY Christmas Gifts

24.) DIY Christmas Crafts

25.) Share your ultimate gift guide for the whole family (including your pets!)

 

 

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Christmas Morning Casserole // Irresistible Spicy Sausage Hash

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Christmas morning is all about two very important things: food and presents. Not particularly in that order! My Christmas morning usually starts with a cup of coffee, and even with dozens of presents under the tree, I still find myself stumbling to the kitchen first thing in the morning. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want something hearty and flavorful on Christmas morning, and I think I’ve got the perfect breakfast to satisfy the appetites of everyone in your family!

What you’ll need:

// 4-6 servings //

1 roll (or package) of spicy breakfast sausage // I recommend Jimmy Dean’s hot sausage, although any breakfast sausage will do just fine!
8 large eggs
4 medium Idaho potatoes
1 cup of shredded muenster cheese // Cheddar works just as well.
1 cup of chopped scallions
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Begin by browning your breakfast sausage until cooked. While your sausage is cooking, begin chopping your potatoes into small cubes. Drain your sausage and set aside. Go ahead and clean and dry your pan – now heat a little bit of olive oil in your skillet and fry potatoes until golden brown and cooked through. Chop your scallions – don’t be afraid to be generous here! Whisk your eggs, and combine all of your ingredients (don;t forget the cheese!) Mix well. Transfer mixture to a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through and browned on top. Enjoy!

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The Terrifying Process of Turning Dreams into Goals

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// Be goal-oriented. //

Personal development is very important to me – I am a seeker of knowledge, peace, and growth. Therefore, you can imagine, I am a very goal oriented. I think the process of completing a goal not only gives us a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also a way for us to stay motivated and driven in our day-to-day lives. Remember, the act of setting and completing goals it is very good for your personal wellness and self-esteem. For many years, I have built a habit of setting daily, short term, and long term goals. (For example, today, my goal was simply to make time to write this blog post!)

I also reflect, update, and adjust goals accordingly. I highly recommend we all do this! Also, it’s important to understand that the purpose of setting a goal isn’t simply…to complete a goal… but to work towards and achieve personal happiness. You are doing this for you, so if this is no longer something you desire, you are NOT obligated to follow through. However, giving up when things get hard is not an option.

// Take calculated risks. //

Imagine I’m that highly irresponsible voice in your head, “Do it, you coward!” Are you trembling in fear yet? *shudder* That voice right there is literally me, talking to myself – probably getting my ass in trouble. Having an excessively driven personality can be both a blessing and a curse! For some, and I’m sure for many of you, taking risks is downright terrifying. But, taking risks is necessary for getting you from where you are right now to where you want to be. It’s essential for obtaining the quality of life you seek. For growth – in order for you to make any progress in your life, you must take risks.

But to do so without sufficient preparation? You’re only asking for trouble! In truth, there is no guideline or blueprint on how to correctly prepare yourself for what’s ahead, simply because we cannot predict every detail of what’s to come. However, we can actively put in the time and effort in learning all there is to learn about the decision we’re about to make. We can seek advice from experts and have discussions with those who have experience in what we seek. We can prepare ourselves for the many problems that may arise, and we can establish a plan B and safety set. In short? Think long and hard (critically) before you act!

// Pride often stunts your success. //

Both my husband and I are ridiculously prideful. I can’t speak for him, but it’s literally in my bloodstream. I don’t know what it is, but people just love to struggle – they’re in love with it – and it’s very common for others to even romanticize the act of it. Don’t get me wrong, celebrate what you have overcome – we do. My husband and I have seen and faced a variety of adversity to homelessness to mental illness, but to purposely wage war? Don’t do that to yourself.

You may want to do everything yourself, you may hate asking others for help, but let me tell you, knowing how to ask for help is a sign of strength. Additionally, a smart man (or woman) asks for help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. When someone offers you praise, always respond with, “I had help.” In truth, and I’ve said this time and time again – all we have is each other. We’re here, on earth, to live, to love, and to lessen the suffering of others. That’s it. So, let others lessen your suffering.

// 99% of the time, things don’t turn out how you imagined it would. //

I like to say that my life is always eventful. I take the good with the bad every day. Sometimes the train you’re on gets thrown off track and you end up going where you didn’t intend to go. And, that’s OK. We can make a decision at that point to get off and turn around, or stay on.

// Know how to be proactive AND reactive. //

When it comes to goals… (and I guess life in general), it really is all about learning how to be proactive when appropriate and reactive when appropriate. Before you make a big decision or investment, regardless if it’s time or money or both, you’ll want to be proactive by identifying potential problems and taking the necessary steps to avoid them. At the same time, we know that, well, shit happens! And, that’s when being reactive becomes just as important.

How will you adjust your sails?

Will you get off the train, in a place you’ve never been? I would.

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How to Survive NaNoWriMo (in 5 “Easy” Steps!) – Hah!

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If you’ve ever written a book before, you’d know that it’s such an accomplishment. Whenever I feel inadequate for a task, I remind myself that I wrote a freakin’ book! And, that’s not an average task to overcome! Before we jump the gun, what is NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month which takes place in the month of November. Every year millions of writers come together to tackle this nearly impossible task of writing 50,000 words in a month, or roughly 1,666 per day. You’ll see mysterious creatures, in coffee shops, clanking away at their keyboard like madmen.

Each writer has their own personal goal in mind. Some are simply after the world count – not too much the novel. 1,666 words per day is a fantastic goal if you’re a blogger, as well. Sitting down and committing yourself to write two 800-word articles per day is a great way to flush out content for your blog.

Writing anything at length takes a lot of self-discipline, dedication, and focus. I wrote my first novel in 12-hour spurts over the course of a few months…which I bet sounds absolutely insane, and I admit, it was. However, I was 22 years old, chasing a dream. And, I chased it until I was comatose. LOL. Luckily for me, I was also surrounded by fantastic and passionate writers who believed in me. I received a lot of feedback along the way through a community of writers.

So with barely a week away until November, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned (in 5 “Easy” Steps!) of course 😛 , as well as tips I think will make your NaNoWriMo experience a success!

1. Be prepared

The first time I wrote a book, I had no direction what-so-ever: no outline, no plot, no idea what the heck I was doing. (Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a heck of a fun ride! Just not as productive. LOL.) This year I plan to turn that all around! I think the secret to preparation is to prepare *just* enough to get your creative juices flowing but not to over-prepare in a way that limits your creative potential. What do I mean by that? Well, you’ll want to have a rough outline of your plot, as well as a sentence or 2 for each chapter or scene you plan to write.

At the same time, don’t hold yourself against any of this. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write. So, that is exactly what you’re going to do – write. Don’t edit, don’t turn back, just go forward and write. I mean, don’t even hit that backspace button. Write like it’s a marathon. Nonstop – just keep going. 

2. Join a community

I cannot stress enough the value of writing with other people. I even recommend putting 20-30 minutes aside each week just to catch up with other writers and check-in with them. Ask them how they’re doing! Make sure they’re not dead yet. Lol. Consider sharing your writing on our forums. This provides you with both support and accountability. For NaNoWriMo, I will open up a new forum topic just for NaNoWriMo where I welcome you to share your progress, questions, or concerns with others. For starters, consider sharing with us a short outline, summary, or synopsis of the book you’re planning to write! I really look forward to this part, so I hope to see you there! We really do become better writers when we read each other’s work. 🙂

3. Create a distraction-free environment

This is also a big one, and a toughie IMO. I think zoning into your writing, into your story, is probably the hardest, yet, the most vital key to consistency. There are distractions all around us, but we can make a conscious effort into limiting some of them. My biggest suggestion? I’ll tell ya: Turn off your WIFI! This has been mentioned time and time again by other writers. The fact of the matter is, the internet is very distracting, especially when it comes to social media. I also greatly recommend picking a distraction-free writing app, such as writer.bighugelabs.com. (Which is, BTW, is a writer’s dream come true!) If you work best with music playing in the background, consider instrumental music without vocals. You can also try ambient sounds, such as rain.

4. Don’t edit

Like I mentioned previously under #1, DO. NOT. EDIT. You can edit it later, guys. Heck, you can have a friend edit it. Truly, that’s the easy part. It’s the writing part that’s hard, and you’re only making it harder for yourself by editing while you should be writing, non-stop, like your life depends on it!

JUST STAWPPP! Don’t you touch that backspace key! 🙂

5. Have fun

That’s the whole point. No one is going to write a best-seller, have it all prime and proper in 30 days – it’s just not going to happen! So, let go of that possibility. It’s about challenging you – proving to yourself that you can do it! And, you can. And, you will!

In all honesty, the main reason why I participate in NaNoWriMo is to get a little closer to who I am – which is a writer. It’s about letting loose and getting a little wild…er, on paper ;). It’s about unleashing your creative side and letting it dance for a little bit. It’s about not taking you too seriously – to let your characters and your story take center stage – to take a back seat to your imagination. That’s what it’s really about.

One of my favorite quotes on writing is from a fantastic article by Medium, and it goes,”Here’s a funny truth about your story: it actually has two authors — your conscious and subconscious mind. And the thing about the subconscious is that it throws ideas at you when you least expect them. Maybe your plot outline says the characters should turn right (marching on the castle, let’s say), but they keep trying to turn left (into a weird, dark swamp that doesn’t show up anywhere in your outline). What do you do in this case?Let them go into the swamp. NaNoWriMo is no time to stop your own momentum. When you say, “Hey, my characters won’t do what I want them to do,” what you’re really saying is “I’ve thought of a new story direction but I’m afraid of the unknown.” Don’t be afraid — this is a good thing! Your characters are taking on a life of their own, so embrace that and enjoy the ride. It’s their story, after all. Not yours – Let them tell it their way.”

I really can’t wait to read all about your NaNoWriMo journey. Please, like I mentioned above, consider sharing all about it in the forums.

 

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Why are so many Millennials choosing Minimalism?

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“Millennials” has become quite a buzzword over recent years. I’m sure you’ve heard the term thrown around often – accompanied with several misjudgments including, (but surely not limited to) entitlement, self-absorption, and laziness. As a millennial (also known as Generation Y), I find this generalization absolutely disheartening. Some of the best people in my life are millennials. They’re beautifully selfless, giving, and hard-working individuals. These are the same people working long hours for low wages – who work 2-3 jobs just to feed themselves. Some cannot even afford a roof. Consider the fact that I have more friends who have been homeless than have not. Most of my peers have been or are undereducated, underemployed, or living below the poverty line. Most of which is simply a direct consequence of the Great Recession of 2008 – which is, in fact, the year I, and my graduating class, turned 18 and became adults.

Luckily for me, I was able to get a quality education from a top-rated university in New York City. It opened doors for me that eventually lead to me publishing my first novel, along with many new and exciting experiences that followed. However, even with receiving college funding from loved ones, as well as through government financial assistance, I found myself in debt, underemployed, and living far under the poverty line shortly after graduation. The job market seems to become more and more rigorous each day as the cost of living continued to skyrocket. I found myself clipping coupons and washing clothes in the tub (because going to a laundromat was just too far out of our budget).

I remember being in college and not being able to afford textbooks. Today, I can gladly say that I know how to order international edition textbooks for a 1/10 of the price (now legal in the U.S.) – that’s after digging for a PDF copy online.

Perhaps it started earlier than that – when I accompanied my Grandpa – we sorted through public trash cans, picking up recyclables to trade in for cash. Because that’s $10.

In truth, it was my economic reality that truly drove me towards a minimalist lifestyle. And, sure, you could say it was not a choice. In fact, last time I checked, you needed money to participate in materialism and that we did not have.

Does the principle of minimalism bring me joy? Very much so. Not contributing thoughtlessly towards capitalism does bring me joy. Giving, borrowing, and sharing with peers gives me joy. Supporting ethical and sustainable businesses give me joy. Investing in experiences give me joy. And, I think this is also what gives many other Millenials joy.

The worst recession since the Great Depression

Well, we all know the economy is shit. I know. You know. Your Mom knows. How many times have I had a friend reach out to me, discouraged over the job market, at their wit’s end, and I, without a doubt, respond with, “I know it sucks – the economy is shit.” Well, it is. We don’t make enough to live – no one does. My best friend, a single Mom living alone with her daughter, lives in one of the most “affordable” states in the U.S. (Alabama) and she barely makes enough to survive. She is probably experiencing the best case scenario, and even the best case is kind of terrible. Why is that? Well, that’s because we’re still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

Mental Illness

Mental illness is incredibly common among Millenials with nearly 20% of them living with clinical depression and 12% with anxiety disorder. The cause? Stress. More specifically, financial stress and economic instability. After experiencing a late-term miscarriage in 2013, I found myself struggling with depression for several years. Thankfully, I was able to obtain the resources and healthcare I needed to take care of myself. Unfortunately, many millennials find themselves working for employers that do not provide healthcare and often end up going uninsured.

Capitalist Opposition

Many millennials feel strongly against corporate businesses and their capitalistic nature. They spend a lot less buying cheap and poorly made products from big box companies, and instead, opt in for local businesses. This leaves many retail businesses in worry as more and more millennials are not invested and severely uninterested in the experience of shopping.

Experience Investment

One of the core principles of minimalism is the investment in experiences instead of possessions. Millenials are also postponing marriage and growing their family in exchange for experiences with travel. They’re also uninterested in settling down (in one spot), which directly affects their interest in home ownership.

I sympathize strongly with my peers, and at the same time, I praise their positive, selfless and hard-working nature. They’re dangerously smart, incredibly clever, so very loving, and they are paving the way towards our future. They’re engaged in social and political affairs with the largest voter turnout in history. They’re some of my best friends, and I root for them each and every day.

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10 MUST-HAVE Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Products (And Where To Get Them!)

One of the many things that I look forward to during the holidays is limited edition products. I wait all year for Dunkin Donuts to come out with their pumpkin flavored drinks and donuts! And, by the way, the classic pumpkin glazed donut at Dunkin Donuts is to die for. I just had one earlier this week and I’m probably going to get another this weekend. LOL. Because these products are only available for a limited time, it really does make the experience of enjoying them that much more meaningful. So, with that being said, here are my favorite pumpkin spice products and where to get them!

  1. Lindor Pumpkin Spice Bag, 19 Ounce 61fW8X7-UhL._SL1000_.jpg

  2. Quaker Pumpkin Spice Limited Edition Instant Oatmeal 8 Ct, 1.51 oz Packets 91J0ocwhXSL._SL1500_.jpg

  3. General Mills Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheerios – 12 Oz 81ynjqkyuxl-_sl1500_
  4. Twinings Chai Tea, Pumpkin Spice, 20 Count 91NqhkfB9+L._SL1500_.jpg
  5. Krusteaz Pumpkin Spice Pancake Mix A1oyhWmVpKL._SL1500_.jpg
  6. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts – Pumpkin Pie (Limited Edition) – 12 Toaster Pastries 61FO7RRC0gL.jpg
  7. Nestle Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice Non-Dairy Creamer 15 oz 81Lmy7FFdxL._SL1500_.jpg
  8. Hostess Twinkies Pumpkin Spice 10 count box (13.58 OZ) 515tDwP2b6L.jpg
  9. Kraft Jell-o Instant Pudding & Pie Filling, Pumpkin, 3.4-ounce Boxes (Pack of 4) 81fwqWYlPIL._SL1500_.jpg
  10. Ghirardelli Fall Pumpkin Spice Caramel Medium Bag, Pumpkin Spice Carmel 7166-gFskOL._SL1500_.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Morning Routines

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Good Morning Readers! 🙂

It is 7am in New York City, and I just finished eating a HUGE bowl of chicken pot pie soup (which is simply chicken pot pie without the pie). Now, I’m enjoying a cup of tea in my oversized camping mug. I’ve been up for an hour, and within that hour, I have filled out my planner for the day, cleared out my inbox, written this blog post, put hot water on, and prepared breakfast (and ate it!).

Over the last few years or so, I’ve been working a lot from home. I know that the statement”working from home” has a lot of negative connotations of scams and basically, it not being a “real” thing, and that in a way is true. Stay-at-home moms looking for ways to supplement their household income, can’t do that by…filling out of surveys or becoming a mystery shopper. However, it’s 2k16 guys. A lot of what can be done in an office, in front of a computer, could be done at home, in front of a computer. Not to mention, there is A LOT of money that can be made online. Problem is – doing any kind of work (or study) from home is incredibly hard without UNWAVERING/STRONG self-discipline!

Anywho, before I get off topic, as usual, let’s get back to the idea of morning routines. So, why do we need them? Well, let me just jump the gun already and say it simply makes you more successful. And, I believe that 100%. Self-discipline, as I mentioned above, is a big part of this. You need to self-motivate and make a conscious effort to reach for and receive the reality in which you seek. That may sound like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo but stay with me here. Put yourself in a position to succeed immediately when you wake up. Take control of your day before anything negative, like stress, can intervene.

So, with that being said, here are 5 things I think you should do within the first hour of waking up:

  1. Physical health // Move your body! This isn’t necessarily about burning calories, as much as it is about waking your body up – oiling those joints and loosening those muscles. This will actually motivate you to hit the gym later on as well.
  2. Mental health // Meditate, yoga, or write it out! As you may already know, mental illness can serve as a huge roadblock against common day-to-day activities. Firstly, if you or a friend is suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts, or any kind of life-threatening mental illness, please seek professional help. For many, journaling, as well as meditation and yoga, can really put your mind at ease and in a good place to take on the day. If your mind is already severely cluttered, or stressed at the beginning of the day, I highly recommend these suggestions.
  3. Personal Vision // Go after your dreams! If you don’t dedicate even 5 minutes towards your personal goals in the morning, you may as well forget about it. Heck, you may as well file it under “never ever EVERRR gonna get done”.  This is why I urge you to take even a few minutes to work on your personal goals first thing in the morning. You’re a lot more likely to dedicate some more time for it later in the day and actually make progress on it if it’s already on your mind.
  4. Productivity // Plan the day ahead! Bottom line, if it’s not in my planner, it’s not gonna happen. For me, if I don’t organize my thoughts, my tasks, and goals for the day, I’m either not going to get them done, or I’ll just be all over the place, disorganized, and probably wasting a sh*t ton of time. I might tackle the tasks, but it won’t be as efficiently as it could have been if I wrote it all down in my planner at the beginning of the day. Don’t make yourself try to remember what needs to be done. Don’t allow yourself to worry or wonder. In that time, you can easily become distracted, thrown off course, and that point, your day’s productivity has gone completely out the window.
  5. Self-care //  Take care of your needs! Last but not least. #5 is, in my opinion, the most important task of your morning routine. When we take care of ourselves first and foremost, are self-aware of our needs, and take full responsibility for them, we can ultimately do a much better job in other parts of our lives, and do much better at serving others along the way. What exactly *is* self-care? Well, it’s completely subjective. It depends on YOU and what your needs are; where you’re lacking. Self-care is not really about the task itself, as much as it is self-reflection, self-possession, and self-nourishment. So, take a moment, every morning, and ask yourself what your needs are. Then go take care of them.

Well, that’s it, guys! I hope you found this post helpful, inspiring, or insightful. What does your morning routine consist of? Do you not have one yet? If so, what do you hope to establish in one? Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you in the comments! 

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Chinatown, NYC // Manhattan Adventures // Mini Haul

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A lot of people don’t know how absolutely tiny Manhattan is. It is literally a teeny tiny little island. What you may understand as New York City – the neon lights and skyscrapers, is just a tiny fraction of the whole pie. In a span of just a few short blocks, you can walk out of the Financial District, into Chinatown, and out into Little Italy. So, in essence, you could pass by a courthouse, pick up a pork bun (which my husband is particularly obsessed with. LOL.), then swing by a pizza place on the way home. That isn’t entirely what I did on Friday, but it’s pretty darn close!

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It’s been a hot minute since we’ve had an adventure. The last time I spent an ample amount of time out in the city – just exploring – was when my parents came to visit from Hawaii. Not only that, but I’ve been starving for many homesick essentials, particularly Asian foods that I grew up with and enjoyed as a child. These *essentials*, which I guess aren’t *really* essentials, range from fish sauce, to shrimp crackers, to green tea with roasted brown rice!

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Every week, for the last month, we’ve found ourselves in Chinatown. Each time we discovered something new that we loved. One of my favorite places to visit (and try) is Asian bakeries – I absolutely adore Chinese and Taiwanese pastries. My mother enjoyed going to them often while I lived in Hawaii. Our favorite bakery was Saint-Germain, also known as Dee Lite Bakery in Ala Moana Shopping Center. It was always such a treat to get a hot dog bun. In NYC, we have a small Asian bakery chain called Fay Da that serve delicious low-cost pastries, bread, cakes, and cookies. My favorite item of theirs is the green pea & scallion twist. They also serve a variety of cakes including Taro and Mango topped with fresh fruit. Some stores serve mochi, custards, and a mix of all other types of yummy Asian goodies.

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Before heading out, I checked Yelp for the best Asain supermarket in Chinatown. We ended up at New Kam Man on Canal Street, and believe me, we didn’t regret it! I was able to snatch up all of my essentials for a fraction of what I usually pay for. In fact, nothing I bought was over $2! Can you believe that? The best bargain was definitely a 23 oz. bottle of Lucky Brand Fish Sauce for 1.95! At the grocery stores nearby, it would run me $6-7 dollars for a small little bottle! I also picked up 4 packs of Doll Instant Noodles in a variety of flavors, 2 bags of Nong Shim shrimp crackers, a small jar of Huy Fong chili garlic sauce, Yamamotoyama’s green tea with roasted brown rice, and Meiji’s chocolate Hello Panda! Most of these foods have sentimental value. Both the tea, as well as the shrimp crackers, were foods I enjoyed regularly in my childhood. I had tea in the morning with my grandma, and my grandpa used to buy these chips for me after school every day.

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It was definitely a nostalgic experience to eats these foods again after nearly 6 years of not having them.

What are your favorite Asian foods? Do you have a particular Asain comfort food that comes to mind? I’d love to hear from you!

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