One thing everyone should eliminate: Toxicity.

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If there is one thing I am not the best at, it is not giving people the time of day when that is exactly what they deserve. For literally the longest time ever, I could not bare to leave a text unanswered or a phone call to be missed. I have this innate desire in me to help every single person that reaches their hand out to me, good or bad, and it has taken a lot of time to learn that this is something that doesn’t always need to happen.

I tried to convince myself that allowing toxic people into my life or keeping them there was no big deal because they’re like a second family or we go way back, life’s too short to hold a grudge. Not the case, people, not the case.

Sometimes you have to muster up a crap-ton of courage and strength to not only know when enough is enough, but to also say it, speak it, or live it out each day. It is not worth it to read a text and get stressed out or anxious. It is not worth it to give someone your time and respect when you don’t get the same in return. It is not worth it to have someone in your life who has hurt you time and time again with no changes to their behavior. This does not happen overnight, it happens over time. Sure, you have tried, but now it is time to let go.

This does not always mean that these people are bad people, it just means they are bad for you. You have a voice. You have the right. You are allowed to say goodbye. I have seen my friends go through this. I have gone through this. It happens, and it is perfectly okay.

If there is one thing for sure, it will not be easy, but you have to stick to your guns. Yes, sometimes you will be called a bitch for putting yourself first. But just remember, why not put yourself first? Your mental, emotional, and physical health matter more than anything in the world. You are not yourself if you are not happy and healthy. If you love yourself, you will give yourself the freedom to live without the toxicity. And trust me, from a girl that’s been there, it makes one hell of a difference. xoxo.

School’s out for summer…sorta. 


Today was the last day of school for my students! They had a half day and I had the pleasure of moving classrooms for the upcoming school year [my feet are killing me]. Saying goodbye to my little buddies was tough, but I’m so excited for my next class come July.

One weight was being somewhat lifted off my shoulders, but when one thing ends, another begins; my summer class started yesterday and has already reminded me of how little of a “break” I will actually have this summer. I literally, no joke, have 10+ assignments due per week for the next four weeks of my life and I am sitting here staring at my computer screen wondering what I am even doing to myself. *sweats*

To think I actually debated taking 3 courses this summer, I’m looking at myself like, girl, you crazy.

Three staff development days away from summer – here we go. Xoxo.

Dad.

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Back in high school, one of our assignments was to work on our college application essays during class time to ensure that they were perfected before sending them off to our respective lists of schools. One of the topics of choice revolved around describing an influential person in your life. For me, it was an absolute no brainer who I would be writing my essay about.

My dad, no doubt, has had the most influence on my life and has shaped me into the person that I am today. I watched him work hard ever single day since the day I was born to provide for our family and give me the life he believed we deserved. I watched him graduate with Master’s degrees, take on major roles and responsibilities throughout the years at work while receiving major recognitions for his ethics and respect for his job and his community. When I was doing my fieldwork in college, I got to watch first-hand the respect his kids and colleagues had for him, as well as the respect he had for them in return.

He has pushed me hard to fly past my limits and never settle for less than I deserve. He got me through the good and bad times, always being my #1 fan, whether it was driving 8 hours to national competitions, or promising that break-ups would get better. His determination and drive for happiness and success is something that I admire, and something that I work hard for every single day.

In honor of Father’s Day, below is the college application essay I wrote in 2010 [holy cow, I’m old] about the most influential person I have in my life – my dad.

Ever since I was a little girl, standing on my tippy toes, barely able to take a drink from the drinking fountain, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in a school. Walking down the hallways at the tender age of five, hand in hand with my father, the principal, and sitting in his big chair at the desk in his office, I knew this was where I was meant to be. It felt like home.

Growing up, I always looked up to my dad for everything. He was the ideal father, always there for love and support whenever I needed him. I give my dad all the credit for shaping my life, and helping me in making the most important decision I will ever have to make.

When he was in high school, my dad thought he knew what he wanted to do. Originally, he thought Economics would lead him to doing big business on Wall Street, which would eventually lead him to a happy life with lots of money and success. Although he spent years earning his degree and finding the successful job he supposedly always wanted, in the back of his mind he knew that this wasn’t what he loved to do, that he was meant to be a teacher. If you were to ask anyone who knows my father, they would all tell you the same thing; he was good with kids. After a few years of questioning his decisions and traveling all around the U.S., unhappy with his job, he decided enough was enough. He decided that he was going to fulfill that dream, to go back to school for a degree in Business and Marketing Education. When I was just one year old, he got his first job at what would eventually be my high school, Niagara Catholic. To this day, he will say that the six years he spent working at Niagara Catholic were the best years of his life. I spent the first six years of my life at that school, whether it was going to visit him for lunch or sitting side by side with him at those chilly October afternoon football games cheering on the boys. Because of his dedication and love for his job, he worked his way up from being a Business teacher to becoming Dean of Students, and then to other jobs at both the high school and middle school in Medina. This eventually led to the job he has now as principal of Eden Junior/Senior High School in Eden, New York. He just recently has gone back to school to get his doctorate degree to eventually have the option of becoming superintendent of schools.

Eight years later, walking back into that same high school as a fourteen-year-old freshman, I was flooded with all the memories of that same little girl going into work with her Daddy. Being around a school system all my life made me feel so comfortable throughout my four years of high school, and helped me in making my decision about what to do with my future. While others seemed to struggle with deciding on what to do with their upcoming lives, I had already had my mind made up. I have always my whole life loved working with kids, because I was already around them. Because of this, I have made the decision to go to college for Speech-Language Pathology, because it would allow me to have one-on-one time with each individual child and to work in a school system. The thought of going to school for this major does nothing but put a huge smile on my face.

Growing up watching my dad love his job and love working with kids made me realize I could find the same happiness in a job, just as he did. The moments of sitting at his desk, seeing his door always open, and watching almost every student walk by just to give a friendly wave and smile, followed by a “Hey, Mr. Graff” still to this day brings a smile to my face. Looking back now, his “big chair” doesn’t seem that big to me anymore, because I feel I can conquer it and one day sit in it too, just like Daddy did.

Food > everything.

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Being the self-proclaimed Pinterest addict that I am, it’s almost impossible not to find something great to eat every once in a while! This website is filled with so many recipes that litereally all you have to do is type one word like “chicken,” for example, and 87 thousand recipes pop up in front of your face. This is heaven for the instant-gratification-obsessed people of this century.

If you’ve tuned into this blog once or twice before, you would know that any meal that I have made that turns out semi-edible with my house still standing, it’s a good one. I’m gonna narrow down my top five recipes, out of the 110+ saved pins to my e a t board/the 108+ pins saved to the s w e e t s + t r e a t s board, that have worked wonders for me. Enjoy!

  1. Pina Colada Dip
  2. Easiest Ever Orange Chicken
  3. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup
  4. Peanut Butter M&Ms Truffles
  5. Slow Cooker Creamy White Chicken Chowder

What are some of your favorite recipes?! Feel free to share! xoxo.

Fashion 101: Save me. 


When I got this new job teaching, I did not expect to look into my [bursting] closet and truly not have a single thing to wear. It seems insane to say for someone who loves shopping a little bit too much, but it could not be any more true. Where I work, there are more days spent on the floor than standing up in front of the classroom – it comes with the nature of the job, this is not a typical school setting. Previously, working retail allowed me to wear basically anything I wanted – pants, skirts, dresses, sandals, jewelry – anything to show of my personal sense of style. It took so much as my first day on the job to learn that a dress paired with booties and a choker would absolutely not be work appropriate in this type of environment.
I will admit, for a while there, I completely felt lost. I missed wearing all of my clothes and totally would look forward to the weekend solely to wear items that I had been missing. I was struggling to find clothes that were not only environmentally appropriate, but professional, as well as me. Seems impossible enough, right?

I am a few months into my job and I am still occasionally stopping at the store on my way home to pick up a top or a pair of bottoms similar to that in which I had seen a coworker wear that day. Just yesterday, I was guilty of running to the outlets on my way home to pick up a few more pairs of shorts, because pants on a 80+ degree day while also working all summer simply won’t cut it [BONUS TIP: J. Crew has their shorts on sale anywhere from $10-$25 this week!]. Shorts are a whole new world for me now that I’ve “grown up” [lol] and am transitioning from high waisted ripped shorts to something that would be considered soccer mom appropriate.

Cropped trousers, flowy tunic tops, and wide leg printed pants have become my best friend – they are comfy, yet stylish. While I am now transitioning into shorts and tees, I am still missing accessorizing with [way too much] jewelry, etc. Slowly but surely, I am getting excited to get dressed each morning again as I continue to add more versatile pieces to my wardrobe and become comfortable with embracing my new soccer-momness.

So to all you fashionistas out there – what are some staples that you think I absolutely need to add to my wardrobe!? xoxo.

Life lessons: As told by The Mindy Project.

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When I signed up for Hulu, the first series I chose to watch was The Mindy Project. I heard an abundance of great things about this show, so I was extremely excited to dive-in and see what it’s all about.

After now finishing (almost) all of the series, it has definitely become clear why this show is so popular. The show is hilariously witty with a strong sense of girl-power and a hint of a romantic edge! Plus, Mindy is so relatable, so how could we not love her?

Because she is so relatable, there is so much we can learn from this show to get us through our everyday lives.

Confidence is everything

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Fast food can help you get through the hard times.  

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Weird pickup lines totally work! 

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Know your rights and stand up for what you believe in. 

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Your happiness should be priority.

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Sometimes, people change for the better. 

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The best kind of cake is gigantic. 

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Time management relies on prioritizing.

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There is a movie reference for every life situation.

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Even if you think you’ve figured everything out, you probably haven’t. 

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And most importantly, always be yourself! 

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What are some of your favorite moments from The Mindy Project?! xoxo.

Weekend vibes. 

This weekend, I got to play tourist in my own neck of the woods. The first weekend of 80+ degree weather made me more than ready to get out of the house for some adventures outdoors.

Saturday brought about a trip to the Buffalo Zoo. My boyfriend lives close enough to walk there, so we took advantage. As noted before, I love going to the zoo. Seeing animals brings me an overwhelming sense of happiness, so I was more than thrilled to walk around and look at all my fluffy friends.

After walking around the zoo (and reaching my steps for the day), we were starving. Living in North Buffalo, there is not a shortage of places to eat – it always ends up a never-ending debate in your mind as to which restaurant you should choose this time. We settled for Deep South Taco.

I had never been to this restaurant before, but have always wanted to go since I drive by it multiple times a week. It sits right in the heart of North Buffalo on the corner of Hertel and Starin. The atmosphere is bright, colorful, and welcoming, and the menu is so large that I could not decide on what to eat.

We started off with a couple drinks and chips and salsa. I decided on the 2AM margarita – a blood orange, peach and raspberry concoction that tasted nothing short of summer!

As for dinner, I selected three tacos. Two of which the Pollo Verde, which consisted of green chili braised chicken, queso fresco, onion and cilantro. The other taco I chose was the Papas Con Rajas, which consisted of potato, rajas chipotle, cotija cheese, onion, and cilantro. Both choices amaaaaaazing!

We followed this meal up with a trip to the new Lake Effect Ice Cream location on Hertel. I had previously been to the Lockport location, but my boyfriend was a first timer. I opted for the Extra Cookies, Extra Cream while he chose Omanhene Chocolate. If you have not been, go. Or pick some up at your local Wegmans. Totally worth it, no matter what flavor you pick!

I finished up my “tourist weekend” today at the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls, USA. My brother is currently employed there, so my family decided to take a trip and cool off on this super-warm day (especially since our pool isn’t open yet) and visit him at work! I hadn’t gone on the boat in years, so it was great to re-experience this again! You get so extremely close to Niagara Falls that you leave soaking wet, almost as if you’ve taken a dive into a pool! The ticket ($18.75) gets you access to the boat ride which gets you up close to the American and Canadian Falls’, the observation deck, as well as a walkway alongside the American Falls. You get right into the heart of the Canadian “horseshoe” Falls that it is nearly impossible to take pictures – it something you have to experience in the moment. I definitely plan on doing this again this summer, as my boyfriend has never experienced it before, and it’s something I feel like everyone should do at least once!

All in all, this weekend left me full and tired. What did you do this weekend!? xoxo.

One?!

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One year ago, my boyfriend and I adopted a guinea pig. To a common person, this would not be a big day because, hey, it’s only a guinea pig right? Wrong.

I had wanted a guinea pig since I was about 14 years old, but my house was never too “animal-friendly,” so it turned into something to look forward to in the future. College came and with it brought two hamsters, one that lived over three years, the other that lived under three months.

Flashback to 365 days ago, the apartment freshly moved into, my boyfriend woke up and decided there was no better day than that day – he ok’d me adopting a guinea pig. Again, to a common person, going to a pet store and adopting a guinea pig seemed as if it would be a 5-minute task, right? Wrong. I KID YOU NOT every single pet store in Western New York did not have guinea pigs available to adopt. After miss number five, we decided to be rational and call different pet stores instead of driving around like lunatics, to find that the only pet store that had one was in Niagara Falls. There we went on our merry way!

They had three guinea pigs to choose from, but Kenneth [more to come on this name choice in a second] stuck out the most and we decided to give him a forever home. Guinea pig, cage, food, hay, and accessories in tow, we made our way back to Buffalo.

We decided on the name Kenneth after watching the series 30 Rock, where one of the main characters, an NBC page, was named Kenneth Parcell. Night after night, we would watch this show and kid that this actor looked like a guinea pig, so we found it fitting to name our little lump Kenneth. Also fitting because our obsession with 30 Rock was through the roof. Another quirk about Kenneth [the guinea pig]? He is actually a girl.

This last year has resulted in many pictures, trips to the store for lettuce, the building of an Instagram fandom *follow @kenneth.the.guinea.pig* and many, many more happy memories. With that being said, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNETH! We are trying to get you to break the world record, so we have many more birthdays to come.

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Am I lame for writing a blog post about a guinea pig? Yes. Do I care? Nope. xoxo.

Third time’s the charm.

On May 31st, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing The 1975 for the third time in the last 3 years. I had anxiously awaited this show for many months after purchasing these tickets. This time around, I was accompanied by my boyfriend, my brother, and his girlfriend. She, like myself, is a huge fan and it was her first time seeing them live, which added an extra dose of excitement for me. The show was played at the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls, New York.

A little backstory: For those of you who are somewhat unfamiliar with my life, I am self-proclaimed obsessed with this band. I have been a fan since the Drive Like I Do days – all the way up until now! The first time I ever saw them live, I was in Toronto, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. The happiness I felt in the split second in which the band appeared on stage is something I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their lifetime with their favorite singer, band, musical, etc. I listen to them so frequently, that it turned my brother into a fan solely for the fact that he soon knew all of the words to their songs from me playing them over and over and over again.

Back to the other night: There were two opening acts, those being Colouring and Pale Waves. Colouring is a band from London, Pale Waves being from Manchester. Pale Waves is signed under The 1975’s label, Dirty Hit, also home to other acts such as Wolf Alice and the Japanese House. Colouring and The 1975 are signed under Interscope Records, also home to other acts such as Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Sting, and U2, to name a few.

The setlist for the night was very pleasant to listen to, as it had accompanied songs new and old; some of which I had seen live, the other of which I had not. The setlist was as follows: The 1975, Love Me, UGH!, Heart Out, A Change of Heart, Loving Someone, She’s American, Please Be Naked, Undo, Somebody Else, Me, Girls, Sex, If I Believe You, Chocolate, and The Sound.

Following two sold-out shows in Niagara Falls, the band(s) headed to New York City to a sold out Madison Square Garden. How crazy is that?!

Unfamiliar with this band? Check out one of their hit singles here.

5 of 12, done!

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The month of May was filled with such an over-abundance of activities that I literally do not know where the last 31 days went. It actually took until the last week of May for me to have a second to myself to breathe and re-evaluate all that took place prior to that moment. Here is a rundown of all that I experienced within this 5th month of 2017:

  • My brother’s 18th birthday / party
  • The dreaded finals week
  • The end of the spring semester (and getting a 4.0!!)
  • Mother’s Day
  • My brother’s last day of high school
  • My brother’s prom
  • My brother’s girlfriend’s prom
  • My brother’s senior mass
  • My brother’s final Varsity Singers concert
  • My brother’s high school graduation
  • Dancing in a 40th anniversary dance recital
  • My brother’s girlfriend’s graduation
  • My brother’s college orientation
  • My brother’s graduation party
  • Two weddings over Memorial Day weekend in Toronto
  • The 1975 concert
  • Work, work, work, work, work *in true Rihanna fashion*

To say I am, for the most part, exponentially exhausted is an understatement. My boyfriend keeps joking that June will be the month of making no plans – that he is just going to go with the flow and do whatever he wants. I’m starting to think that maybe this “joke” is a good idea to take part in, because I definitely could use a little break.

My short-term goal for the month of June is to start drafting blog posts every evening after work and posting them on my lunch break the following day to get into more of a routine. I’ve fallen off the track of keeping up to my New Year’s Resolution, and I am making it my mission to fulfill it!

How did your month of May go?! Here’s looking forward to June! xoxo.