716

Buffalo.

There is legitimately no other place in the world I’d rather call home. I say this with sheer confidence and sincerity.

Growing up in the 716 is something that I am forever grateful for. I have had the opportunity to see what this area is blossoming into – basically from the bottom up. Buffalo specifically has grown from a place that never seemed to be on the radar to a place that more and more people are starting to appreciate. Buffalo is now a place that people want to travel to; a place that people want to live; a place that people want to experience for themselves.

While our sports teams may not be the best, the fans are die hard – the atmosphere is something that you want to be a part of. The waterfront has become a staple between Canalside, RiverWorks, and weekend activities and concerts by the water – there is always something to do. The weather here is perfect. Sure, we may have to deal with a few feet of snow now and again but hurricanes, tornadoes, flash flooding, wild fires, earthquakes, extreme heat. .  I’ll take my couple months of snow any day of the week! The cost of living is a God send. There are not many people out there who can say that they live in a two bedroom, spacious apartment “big city” for under a grand a month. Is renting not your thing? Well, you’re in luck there because there are always houses on the market for next to nothing! There’s next to no traffic on a daily basis, and the people here are nicer than anywhere else in the world! [Or so it seems]. And the food?! I could go on for hours between the pizza, the wings, the beef on weck, Wegmans. . the list goes on and on.

Happy 716 day to my fellow Buffalonians.

What are some things you love the most about our city? xoxo.

School’s back for summer?!

Well, there you have it, folks. Another Monday has come and gone.

Waking up at 5:00AM for work today was harder than I ever would have imagined. I felt like I was mentally prepared, pushing through the weekend knowing I had to go back to work today but, hell, that was rough. If there’s one thing for certain, though, it’s that I am ready to get back into the swing of things and back into my usual routine. Plus, a new school year is always exciting because who doesn’t love a fresh start?!

As far as what’s to come on the blog, expect to dive into my weekend trip to Pittsburgh as well as some other random posts here and there. Continually posting content on a regular basis is something I feel like I have been trying to do for quite some time now. I will admit, I am not the best at it. But, again, who doesn’t love a fresh start, am I right?! No better time to start being better than right now!

I hope everyone’s Monday was great! Here’s to the rest of the week. xoxo.

Pack it up, pack it up | Weekend getaway

If you’re anything like me, you probably suck at packing. Not all of us want to accept it, but sometimes, you just have to call it like it is. I don’t do much traveling, I guess you can say, so knowing what to pack doesn’t come easy to me. I actually wrote a post similar to this one back in October when I was going to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario for the weekend. I will be the first to say that this blog post wasn’t very accurate in terms of what I brought with me that weekend, as I ended up jamming more stuff into my bag at the last minute – most of which I really didn’t need.

This weekend’s getaway is to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to end off my summer break before headed back to work on Monday. I have not been to Pittsburgh in the summer, or really at all, other than some brief visits for hockey tournaments with my brother. On the agenda? A Pirates game, the zoo, some museums, and of course, eating! With the planning of a weekend getaway comes the stress of what to bring, and with traveling somewhere new, I definitely am feeling the height of the stress more than ever.

With that being said, I’ve decided to “re-vamp” my ultimate travel packing checklist in preparation for this trip. This is just what somewhat works for me – obviously you can follow whatever works for you!

Step One: Choose Your Luggage

While I have rolling luggage, some carry-ons, and travel backpacks, for a weekend getaway I tend to lean toward bringing my large Vera Bradley duffel bag. It is simple, lightweight, and extremely durable! It fits more than enough items and is easy to throw in the trunk of a vehicle without taking up too much space.

Step Two: Organize Your Stuff

Organizing things to pack is probably one of my favorite things to do! It’s the process of deciding what to bring that stresses me out the most. I tend to bring the same list of basics no matter where I go – the only thing different is the amount that I actually bring! My go-to’s are:

  • Lightweight clothing that can be layered
  • A jacket
  • Tee shirts and tank tops
  • Pants and/or shorts
  • Socks
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball hat
  • Scarf
  • Swimsuit
  • Technology chargers

Lightweight clothing is the easiest thing to pack as it does not take up too much space, and can easily be layered – or un-layered – depending on the weather!

Step Three: Pack Your Toiletry Bag

This is the part that always gets me in trouble the most. I have no issue when it comes to potentially wearing clothes more than one day, but I always worry when it comes to whether or not I will actually need sunscreen or if I will forget my toothbrush. I mean, really, I tell myself that if I don’t bring my dry shampoo I will actually clean my hair two days in a row, but then I don’t bring it and regret having flat hair for the entirety of the day. You get it, right? When it comes to toiletries, my go-to’s include:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hair brush and hair ties
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo
  • Sunscreen
  • Makeup
  • Face wash and makeup remover wipes
  • Face and/or body lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Glasses
  • Any medications

I always tell myself to stop here but somehow I find myself also traveling with body sprays, tweezers, stain remover, and a personal mirror. It’s a problem, I know.

So, there you have it. Now you all know how crazy I am when it comes to packing! Take a second to imagine what I’m actually like when my trips last more than a long weekend – pretty scary, I know.

When it comes to your weekend getaway essentials, what are some things you can’t live without? On the flip side, what are some things you always seem to pack but never even touch once you get to your destination? xoxo.

June 2018 | An overview

Holy cow, we are already halfway through 2018! My dad has always had a running joke throughout my childhood that once the Fourth of July hits, summer is over, and then it will be time for winter again. I’ve always tried my hardest not to listen to this piece of “advice” but, the older I get, and the way my summer breaks fall for work, the more I am starting to believe this is true – which sucks!

June came and went in what seemed like a day. It was by far the craziest, most stressful month I’ve had in a long while. Between moving, decorating, making big purchases, getting into a new routine, and becoming acclimated to my new home in North Buffalo, I feel like I didn’t really have much time to enjoy the time that was flying by all around me.

Moving took more out of me than I really thought it would, as we had the keys for quite some time before I officially took the time to move in. I figured that with my boyfriend moving all his things in first, including most of the furniture and all of the heavy lifting, my move would be an absolute breeze. Which, really, it was. It just seemed like the entire process of unpacking, building furniture, organizing, and putting on some finishing touches has taken literally forever. We still have a box of decorations in the corner of our living room waiting to be unpacked but, until those pieces find their [semi]forever home, there they sit. But really, it’s okay. I’ve come to terms with it.

A trip to IKEA, the end of the school year, the Buffalo Sabres getting the first pick in the NHL draft, Father’s Day, and some grad parties later, June really wasn’t a bad month. Here’s to hoping that this July, I will take time to appreciate what is going on in the world around me and learn to slow down. xoxo.

One door closes. .

Two days ago it was decided that my old high school would be closing its doors for good. The reasoning? Apparently the Diocese decided to cut funding from Catholic schools not attached to churches, backed with low enrollment for the upcoming school year. Was this a long time coming? Absolutely. Cutting funding was in talks back almost two decades ago. I mean, hell, there was a threat of closure when I was in tenth grade. But, through the many scares, somehow things always pulled through and things looked up. Not this time.

The closure came as a shock to faculty, students, parents, and alumni alike. One second it was there, the next second it was not, basically with a snap of the fingers. Emergency meetings were called, the Board discussed their reasoning behind the decision, parents and faculty begged and clung on to small shreds of hope. But that was it. It was over.

I know you’re all probably wondering, *Why the hell is a 25-year-old writing a blog post about her high school? Is she still stuck back there?* The answer to these questions would be no. I am not the same person I was back then. Hell, nobody should be seven years later. But I’ll be a liar if I say that place didn’t make me into the person I am right now.

Niagara Catholic High School was more than my alma mater. It’s the place I spent the first six years of my childhood, walking the halls and the athletic fields alongside my father, as he dedicated his heart and soul into his first teaching career. It’s within the confines of Niagara Catholic’s campus that I found my passion and my drive for wanting to one day become a teacher. The models I had in front of me, one of which being my father, were some of the best. Mind you, I was, at the oldest, six years old – but when you know, you know. My father spent long hours in this place, sometimes the only time we’d see him that week was if we went to school events or popped in for lunch. I got to know and become familiar with the faculty, most of which eventually became my closest mentors in the years to come. I was babysat by his students. I learned not to walk on the seal. These memories are the ones that are engrained in my mind as vividly as ever.

A few years later, I was blessed to be able to call NCHS home for the next four years of my life, walking though those doors as a freshman in high school. I was now able to see a place so familiar from the other side. The word that every faculty member, student, or alum from NCHS used to describe it is family. I saw it way back when as a child, but getting to experience it for myself as a student is something I will forever be thankful for. It’s one of those things that if you didn’t experience it for yourself, you really will never understand. In a school of 130ish kids, it’s hard not to know and love and support everyone you come into contact with. We didn’t really see four grades, we were all there together, as one. It was a place I felt safe, supported, and loved. My teachers always had my back and pushed me to be the best. I graduated with a year of college under my belt, all thanks to the outpouring of support to succeed each and every day. Not many people I know can say the same. And now that I’m older, with degrees under my belt, and student loan debt to be repaid, I am thankful for this completed year more than ever. My friends are ones that I still cannot live without, even seven years after our graduation. We’ve been through it all – triumph and tragedy – but together we still remain. A family.

Did I expect to feel saddened by the news of Niagara Catholic’s closing? Sure, a little bit. But the more and more that I looked back on everything this school gave me, the sadder and sadder I got. It angers me that the Diocese, a huge proprietor and supporter of Catholic education, can justify cutting funding and closing schools that provide just that. It angers me that representatives from the Diocese were not at those meetings, giving the faculty, parents, and current students the support and clarification they need in times of despair. People don’t deserve this. The faculty are now without jobs. The students are now without their second home. It breaks my heart in a way I couldn’t even begin to describe.

Niagara Catholic shaped me into the person I am today – the memories made, the people I’ve met, the opportunities I was given – these are things I will forever be grateful for.I wish so badly that my future children would have been able to experience a place that means so much. It’s not fair, but I’m thankful to have something so hard to say goodbye to.

xoxo.

Bedroom diaries | New home

I’ve heard from many people, both in real life and via the web, that they want to see more to our home than the kitchen. Well, people, this post is for you!

Thanks to summer break, time was finally found to finish up some little odds and ends around the house, mainly finishing up the bedroom for good! We’ve been waiting since our trip to IKEA to hang our Mosslanda on our bedroom wall and, after some debate on placement and a trip to the hardware store to pick up some screws, it is up! I kid you not, the addition of one $10 shelf has made a world of difference in terms of coziness – it finally feels like home!

Our bedside table is nothing more than a two-cube organizer, decorated with a gray and white stripe fabric drawer, a silver lamp from the clearance section, a succulent, and a candle to match our bedding. If you had to take one guess as to where all these items were from, where would you think? Spoiler alert – if you guessed Target you would be insanely correct. Your prize? Bragging rights.

previously wrote about our bedding set way back in the spring when I completed a huge chunk of my apartment shopping. We picked it up at Bed Bath and Beyond, kind of on a whim, and unable to pass up an amazing deal. To have looked at the bedding in its’ packaging for so long and to now finally see it all come together is extremely satisfying. The addition of a fuzzy, gray, oversized blanket from Target and some white, fuzzy pillows from Home Goods made our bed desirable to crawl into at the end of each day.

As far as the previously mentioned Mosslanda shelf from IKEA? It has to be my favorite piece in our bedroom, no thinking necessary. The shelf itself was a purchase that we didn’t intend to make, but I am glad we did! We saw it as we were headed toward the checkout, finishing up our shopping trip and I am happy that my boyfriend let me throw just one more thing in the cart!

As far as the decorations go, I love the way they came together! All that’s needed is a trip to Walgreens to print some pictures to add to the two frames and it will be completely done! The white and metal sign to the left, as well as the turquoise photo frame, and the lilac planter were all picked up at Kohl’s during one of their sales. The photo frame with the coordinates of the city of Buffalo was picked up at Bon Ton when shopping their going out of business sale – only making sense that we purchased it because for one, it was cheap, and for two, it’s where we met! The “let’s stay home” sign was a pick up from Hobby Lobby, and is probably my favorite item on the shelf, hands down! And the little white candle? Target clearance for less than $2! Moral to the story? Decorating on a budget is easy – you just need to take the time to look!

At the end of our bed is home to my Malm 6-drawer dresser from IKEA. It is not only the home to all my clothes, but houses some of the cutest bedroom décor! The Rae Dunn jewelry dish and planter are both from TJ Maxx [one of which was a gift that I love], as well as the artificial plant. The “home” sign was a pickup from Kirklands a few years ago that has uprooted itself and found its’ new home in our bedroom. The arrow jewelry stand I’ve had for probably six or seven years now and it something that I can’t find myself to get rid of. It’s the best for organizing necklaces and earrings and isn’t too clunky or overbearing to the eye! The marble/wood jewelry box was a clearance pickup from Target to house my oversized Alex and Ani collection that I just couldn’t say no to. What caught me the most off-guard in terms of bedroom décor is my black mirror/shelf. All along, I had my mind set on getting a circular mirror to go atop my dresser in the bedroom, but when I saw is black-metal square mirror at Target, I immediately called my boyfriend to ensure I wasn’t going insane and that I actually did like it. The more and more I look at it, the more I fall in love – sometimes you find the best things where you least expect it!

It is so relieving to have another room in the house completely done, even though it’s taken much longer than i would have liked it to. But, the satisfaction that comes when things are finally complete is one unlike any other – it just takes time and a ton of patience – and a lot of shopping trips browsing through clearance! xoxo.

I mean. . who wouldn’t eat healthy cookies?!

My boyfriend, unlike me, is extremely passionate about working out. That being said, anything protein-packed tends to find it’s home in our house. Our trip to good ol’ Wegmans yesterday for our weekly grocery needs included some ingredients to protein-packed cookies that are not only low carb and low calorie, but also contain 7 grams of protein and are gluten free! Adding more fuel to the over-hyping fire, they are delicious to say the least! 20 minutes later, you’ll have 12 cookies at the palm of your hand. Good luck trying to resist!

Peanut Butter Protein Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or nut butter of choice
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (36 grams) vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flower
  • 3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, coconut sugar, salt, egg, egg white, and vanilla extract. Mix briskly until ingredients are well blended. Sprinkle the baking soda over the top. With a rubber spatula, work in the protein powder and coconut flower until well combined. It will seem very dry at first, but will continue to come together as you stir and push. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. At this point, judge your dough, as the amount of moisture may vary based on the brand of protein powder and nut butter you use. It should be slightly sticky but not a total mushy mess. If you need a firmer dough, add a bit more protein powder. For a looser dough, sprinkle the batter with a bit of milk (or almond milk) and with a spatula, fold it in until the dough comes together.
  4. With a small cookie scoop or spoon, portion the cookie dough by tablespoonful’s and drop into your prepared baking sheet (you will have 12 to 14 cookies total). With your fingers, gently flatten the tops of the cookies, as they will not spread but will puff up during baking. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, until the edges are barely golden brown and dry to the touch, but the middles seem fairly doughy. Do not overbake! Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring them directly to the wire rack to finish cooking.

Tips:

  • Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them for up to three months, then thaw a few at a time.
  • We used Wegmans brand peanut butter in this recipe.
  • We chose chocolate chunks over mini chocolate chips, and it works perfectly fine!
  • No surprise here – the KitchenAid mixer was used in the making of these cookies!

Playlist | June 2018

Happy Monday, everyone! But more importantly, happy summer! Was it totally weird not going into work this morning? Yes. But I am so looking forward to having these next two weeks off to myself! I decided to kick off summer break with sharing a playlist that I’ve been listening to throughout this past month in hopes that it will also get you in the summer mood and excited for the warmer months ahead!

xoxo.

Kitchen diaries | New home

We’re about one month into making memories into our new living quarters and if there’s one thing I learned it’s that this shit takes time. Moving out and into a new place for the first time, I’ve received an over-abundance of life hacks, tips, and tricks regarding decorating, budgeting, and just plain existing. If there’s one piece of information that I’ve seen to be true it’s that it won’t all be done in the blink of an eye.

When I tell you the only room completely done in our home is our kitchen, I am not lying – it’s the only room done in our home. I get that there’s not a lot that necessarily has to go into a kitchen, so it makes sense that it’s done first. It’s no secret, though, that our kitchen is my favorite room in our house. Everybody knows it, and if you didn’t, well, now you do!

The vision I had for our kitchen began the instant we did the first walk through of our place, and to see it come to life has been overwhelmingly exciting to say the least. The fact that I am sitting at our kitchen table writing this post is still borderline surreal to me and sometimes I have to blink a few times to make sure that I am actually awake, this is real, and it’s actually completely done.

I bought most of our kitchen décor before we even moved in, which many thought were crazy, but when you know, you know, am I right? We lucked out with having appliances included, so our stove, dishwasher, and fridge were nestled into our home even before we were, helping spark images in my head of what would match stainless steel, white cabinets, and a gray granite countertop. I did 99% of my shopping at TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, and [of course] Target over the span of about two days, which now seems like a complete whirlwind when I think about it. What I didn’t find in those two days was purchased when we went to IKEA about two weeks ago.

As far as inspiration goes, most of it comes from the queen that is Joanna Gaines. The whole modern farmhouse vibe is definitely present throughout our home – mostly neutrals with some pops of color – this holding true in our kitchen as well. Everything is white, gray, and black but you’ll see some pops of color with our kitchen mat, towels, plants, accessories, and my trusty KitchenAid mixer, to name a few.

Do I know what the heck I am doing in terms of decorating? No. But the fact we didn’t break the bank while making this vision come to life is remarkable enough for me to be proud of! xoxo.