My Daily Essentials: Study Abroad Edition

Sunday, August 31, 2014



Daily Essentials: Study Abroad

Anyone else studying abroad currently? Did I miss anything?
 

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My Weekly Grateful Heart: Vol. III

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Weekly Grateful Heart is a series inspired by the very things that surround me. I have heard of gratitude journals for years, but was not convinced of their credibility until my second year of college, where a good friend told me that gratitude would change my life if I gave it a try. She is an amazing individual and proponent of happy, healthy living, so in an effort to be a little more like her, and as a version of the "start every day with a grateful heart" mantra, these are the things I am grateful for, week by week. 

  • Taking a cab home when your feet hurt
  • Good white wine
  • Bad white wine that makes me appreciate the former
  • Being bilingual
  • French bread
  • Impromptu picnics with new roommates
  • Exploring new neighborhoods
  • Free Wifi
  • Lunch with my parents
  • Realizing that time is indeed precious
  • Tough goodbyes that will make the next hellos even better
  • Getting caught in the rain
  • Ice cubes
  • Anything from Lush (yum!)
  • Cashmere
  • Talkative cab drivers
  • Singing along to throwback music with friends
  • Meusli with yogurt
  • Wrought-iron balconies 
  • Kind seat-neighbors on long plane rides
 What are you grateful for this week?

XOXO,
Em

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That Time I Moved To Paris

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pinch me. I'm in one of the greatest cities in the world, in a great apartment, in a nice neighborhood, and I get to live here for the next four months.

My adventure to get here was nothing but stressful - long lines for luggage drop, having my bag flagged/re-checked at security, not sleeping & getting sick on the plane (but I had the nicest seat neighbor!), my phone not working upon arrival, paying up the wazoo for a taxi, not being able to get into my apartment or call for help, searching high and low for the right place, hauling my two giant suitcases around, almost giving up, I could go on...

BUT the important thing is that I found this lovely little abode that I now get to call home for a while!

Since you're probably wondering what my Parisian life is looking like so far, I took the liberty of snapping a few pictures so you can "tour" my new digs...

The airy living room
Tiny Euro kitchen
The natural light in this place is incredible
The corridor to bedrooms/bathroom
Shower room (separate from the toilet, or WC)
Comfy, cozy bedroom - my bed is on the left!
(pardon the mess)
Cute little entryway - the umbrella stand just got me
Oops, couldn't resist the full-length mirror!

  
What do you think of my new place? Have you ever lived in Paris, or Europe?

XOXO,
Em

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My Favorite Things: Moscow Mules

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Now that I'm twenty-one, I can post about my favorite drink! I found it in Berlin this past spring, but you've probably heard of it in lots of places - you can get it pretty much anywhere. So without further ado, it is...

*drumroll please*


 I'm not one for sweet, fruity drinks, so when I tasted the spicy, refreshing flavor of this, I was instantly hooked. The ginger beer definitely makes the drink what it is (although it is hard to find), and I originally had a rendition with cucumbers instead of mint, so I used that again. It's tough not to love the extra, subtle flavor that cucumbers bring to any drink and it mellows out the initial punch of the ginger.



My absolute favorite part about this little concoction is how simple it is to make!
Seriously, anything under five ingredients that is still delicious gets a high rating in my book.


Em's Moscow Mule: 

1 part vodka 
2 parts ginger beer
a few slices of cucumber 

Let it sit and mingle for a bit, then sip & enjoy! 


Have you ever had a Moscow Mule? What's your favorite drink? 
  
XOXO,
Em

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That Time I Turned Twenty One

Before you ask whether I have a massive headache or have gotten a plate of greasy food, I'll stop you. I turned twenty-one years old at midnight last night and there was no party, no raging amounts of alcohol and no sticky nightclubs.
Sorry to disappoint.

The whole let's-get-hammered-I'm-twenty-one thing never quite took hold in my mind, and maybe because I have been fortunate enough to travel to Europe several times, this rite of passage is more nonchalant for me. Which is extremely fitting, in fact, because today is also the day that I leave for Paris.

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go. And 3PM could not roll around sooner.
I am so excited to start a new chapter of my life in a new city, with new friends, at a new school. This is an incredible moment for me because I know that after I step on that plane, there is no looking back. After my semester in Paris, I come right back to Chicago at full throttle and will be working toward finishing my degree nonstop until I have that diploma in my hand.

It's bittersweet, really, because I know I'll never have this leisure time back. I've spent a lot of the past few days thinking about the future and all the many decisions I will have to make.
And in light of that, I have found my new mantra for this new year:


Wish me luck as I embark on this crazy journey!

Also, while I'll post as often as I can, be sure to follow my Instagram & Twitter for live updates on my travels and mishaps while abroad. 

XOXO,
Em

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That Time I Made Peace With My Size

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I am a size 6 and I am proud. You may be thinking that size 6 is not that big and whatever I'm about to say is irrelevant because it's a normal size. You may be right, but I don't think that makes my journey any less credible.

I like to shy away from posting personal things on here because it's a space that I can create to be however I want. In psychology terms, I am constantly using the framing effect on you, my readers. But if we're being honest, my life isn't all pretty clothes, experiences, restaurants and friends - it's growing up and figuring out, living and loving.

I'm a female in the 21st century, so I've had my fair share of body image issues. It didn't help that I grew wider before growing taller. Within the past eight years, I've been five different sizes. Tell me that's not stressful. As a dancer of 14 years, I also spent countless hours in front of a mirror in a skin-tight leotard and tights. But really, it's no wonder dancers have such high rates of eating disorders.

So coming to terms with the fact that I will never be stick-figure skinny enough for a size 2 nor curvy enough for a size 10 has not been a walk in the park...but boy am I happy I did!

image source
  • It started with little things, like motivational phrases, choosing role models based on brains instead of beauty and stopping myself short when I over-analyzed what I ate day after day. Letting go of what was in my regimen and becoming more aware of what my body needed was a huge step, and it didn't happen overnight. But slowly, I began to listen to my body. If it was hungry, I ate. If it wasn't, I wouldn't. If it wanted that slice of cake, I didn't deny it. When it grew tired of processed foods, I ate more vegetables and fruits. The body knows what it wants.

  • I quit stepping on scales, because darnit, those things are a psychological trigger. Muscle weighs more than fat, and dancing 5 out of 7 days of the week wasn't cultivating cellulite. But it was cultivating an exercise routine that I loved and that kept my metabolism at a healthy level. Do what you love and the rest will follow, right?

  • Somewhere in there, I started using positive affirmation. It is so dangerously underrated in this world. I would look myself in the mirror and think, "you look great" even if I wasn't thinking it. And slowly, eventually, it became habit. The amount of sarcasm in my voice didn't matter, because a part of me was being convinced that what I was saying was true. And it was. Some may view it as conceited, and to them I have to say, try it. Perhaps I sound full of myself, but the only thing I'm full of is confidence, and I think that's a pretty great thing. 

  • Most recently, I stopped trying on things in sizes I know won't fit just to see. If it doesn't come in a size 6+, it's not for me, no matter how cute the pattern or how flattering the cut. Like if you have a food allergy, it can look like the best thing in the world, but you're not going to eat it because it makes you uncomfortable and can even be deadly. Why in the world would I put myself through that?

Embracing my size, my body type and my mentality is probably one of the toughest things I will ever do (and continue to do), but it is without a doubt the best accomplishment I have made in my twenty-something life thus far.

XOXO,
Em

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That Time I Tried Being A Vegan

Monday, August 18, 2014

As you're reading this, I am probably stuffing my face with chicken.

When I was 13 years old, I woke up one morning and decided to be vegetarian. Not because I wanted to be "healthier" or for the sake of animals (although I am all for animal rights). I just wanted to put myself in a different pair of shoes and see firsthand the difficulties that vegetarians face.
Two years later, after understanding the criticism and lack of options that vegetarians sometimes must deal with, I switched back to eating meat.

I like the challenge of trying a different lifestyle, and the perspective it gives you about others. But this time, I knew I didn't want to stray from my normal diet of chicken and pasta for too long, so I gave myself just a week to test out the vegan life.

image source
Let me tell you, I learned so much. First of all, I had no idea that eggs and dairy products are present in so many foods that we consume everyday. Really, it's astounding. Finding alternatives for these simple products (think pasta, yogurt, butter, chocolate, protein, etc) forced me to be creative. Almond milk was my savior for breakfast and Morning Star products came in handy for dinners with my family.

I think the toughest part was being surrounded by people eating food that I couldn't and constantly being tempted. I had to modify every meal that we cooked at home so I could get the nutrition I needed instead of relying on side dishes.

Eating out is next to impossible, unless you're at a vegan restaurant, and even if the restaurant has vegan options, they're usually in the realm of a salad. Salads get old.

In the effort of full disclosure, I only made it three days before I had to break - I know, I know, it was a weak moment, but in my defense, my wisdom teeth were hurting and crunching on raw veggies was becoming painful!

Will I ever go vegan again? Probably not. But will I try to have vegan days every now & again? Probably.

While I am certain there are great tricks to being vegan, fantastic dishes that are amazing when prepared correctly and myriad health benefits, the strict diet of veganism is not something that works with my lifestyle. But it has definitely opened my eyes to seeing food as more than how it tastes and to understanding a little bit better what I am choosing to put into my body.

Are there any vegan readers out there? Do you think you ever could go vegan?

XOXO,
Em

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My Weekly Grateful Heart: Vol. 2

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Weekly Grateful Heart is a series inspired by the very things that surround me. I have heard of gratitude journals for years, but was not convinced of their credibility until my second year of college, where a good friend told me that gratitude would change my life if I gave it a try. She is an amazing individual and proponent of happy, healthy living, so in an effort to be a little more like her, and as a version of the "start every day with a grateful heart" mantra, these are the things I am grateful for, week by week. 

  • Chicken
  • Long drives by myself 
  • Fresh raspberries
  • My strength of will
  • The ability to have a proper education
  • Lake days with friends & family
  • A glass of chardonnay at the end of a long day
  • Thunderstorms 
  • A well-placed pun
  • Wanderlust
  • The warmth of the sun on your skin after you get out of the water
  • A good movie with good friends
  • Victoria's Secret
  • Having short roots on my wisdom teeth 
  • Almond milk
  • Eating froyo on a park bench
  • That feeling you get after a successful shopping trip
  • New phone cases
  • Unexpected calls from my brother
  • Free parking garages
  • Sweet corn in the summer
  • The laughter that comes with an inside joke
  • A shiny pair of rainboots
What are you grateful for? 
XOXO,
Em

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My Weekly Grateful Heart: Vol. 1

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Weekly Grateful Heart is a series inspired by the very things that surround me. I have heard of gratitude journals for years, but was not convinced of their credibility until my second year of college, where a good friend told me that gratitude would change my life if I gave it a try. She is an amazing individual and proponent of happy, healthy living, so in an effort to be a little more like her, and as a version of the "start every day with a grateful heart" mantra, these are the things I am grateful for, week by week. 

  • A warm mug of coffee
  • Sitting on my back porch during a rainstorm
  • Fitting room fashion shows with my best friend
  • Learning about new people
  • Sleeping with the window open (you already knew that)
  • Being able to run
  • Finding good deals on comfy clothes
  • Movies that make you think
  • Yoga in the morning
  • Pretty glassware
  • Family friends that feel more like family
  • Having a father that fills up my car's gas tank just because
  • Impromptu dance parties
  • The quiet of a summer night in the country
  • Lunch dates with my father
  • Cucumber water
  • Long walks with my mother
  • Reading old letters from people I care about
  •  New luggage
  • The opportunity to travel the world 
  • A good lobster bisque

What are you grateful for this week? 
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My Weekly Grateful Heart

XOXO,
Em

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