July 2018 | An overview

We are officially past the halfway mark of 2018 and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. July was a whirlwind, and I really don’t think I have had a chance to stop and breathe until now when I am sitting here reflecting back on the past month.

The month obviously started with celebrating Independence Day which is always a great time. We had two picnics to go to this year, so we were gone for the entirety of the day celebrating with our loved ones. The following day, I was off to Pittsburgh for a weekend getaway before heading back to work for the following Monday.

To say this was the month of concerts would be an absolute understatement. I really didn’t do much other than that and, really, I think I am still tired from all of the fun I had. It started off with traveling to Toronto, Ontario to see the Foo Fighters at the Rogers Center on July 12th. Seeing the Foo Fighters was a lifelong dream of mine, so to finally have this become a reality was other-worldly. I have seen a lot of concerts in my 25 years of life and, even after the endless concerts this month, I would have to say the Foo Fighters show was the greatest I’ve ever seen – I really don’t know if anyone else will ever top it.

The following Wednesday, we attended Wines in the Wild at the Buffalo Zoo. I had never gone to this event before, so I was really excited to snag tickets and go. For $45 you get entrance to the zoo, unlimited samples of food, wine and beer, and a wine glass. There were more vendors than I could count, all local businesses [which I love], and shockingly enough, we left full!

The following week, the month of concerts continued with three more shows in one week. Sunday the 22nd brought Macklemore and Kesha at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien, New York. I had bought these tickets back in December, so to finally have this show in my month’s itinerary seemed surreal. While Kesha wasn’t really the greatest, Macklemore didn’t disappoint, and was as great as I remembered from the last time I saw him. Tuesday the 24th brought The Struts at the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls, New York. These tickets were purchased the day after the Foo Fighters show, as The Struts opened for them and I knew that I needed to see them perform live again. Fate was on my side because to find out they were performing in my hometown was the greatest surprise! On Wednesday the 25th, I traveled to Canandaigua, New York to see the Arctic Monkeys at the Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center. Like the Foo Fighters, seeing the Arctic Monkeys was another bucket list item for me, as they are one of my all-time favorite bands, and they did not disappoint.

Also in the mix were two family reunions, birthday celebrations, a funeral, and some other odds and ends. And if that isn’t enough to make you exhausted, then I don’t know what is.

As I write this, I am two weeks away from being in Las Vegas with my family for our annual family trip and I could not be excited to get these next two weeks of summer session at work over with, and to have some time off to spend with my family before my brother goes back to college for the fall semester.

What are some standout things you did this July? xoxo.

Weekend getaway | Pittsburgh

The weekend before returning to work for the summer was spent in Pennsylvania, most specifically in Pittsburgh, as a little farewell to my freedom for the next six weeks. Am I a little late on the writing of this post? Considering I’m into my third week of summer session at work, yes. Yes I am. But even though the post is late, what this post includes still stands true! Throughout the three days, over 20 miles were walked, good food was had, some bad baseball was seen, and some shopping was done.

We left on Friday morning with plans stop at both the Millcreek Mall in Erie, PA and the Grove City Outlets in Grove City, PA. With shopping being tax free, every time we make the drive to Pennsylvania, we make a point to stop [at least in Erie] to see if we can get any good deals. The Grove City Outlets, specifically, is one of my favorite shopping centers I’ve ever been to. This wasn’t my first time there, but it definitely didn’t disappoint the second time around. There are so many stores – over 200 – at this mall, most of which we do not have anywhere close to home. And to have stores that we don’t have, sell merchandise at outlet prices, and tax free?! Really, it’s a no brainer that some time would be spent there. After our stops at these two malls, we headed straight to the hotel, as it was already dinner time, and the weather was absolutely horrible. The pouring rain resulted in the ordering of a pizza and cozying in for the night watching The Office. I must add that traveling with an Amazon Fire Stick is an absolute game changer – I would suggest doing it to everyone!

The next morning brought about the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the Carnegie Museum of Art. For $20 [or $12 with a student ID], you get access to both the history and art museums, making for a jam-packed day. The history museum consists of 115,000 square feet organized into 20 different galleries including dinosaurs, gems and minerals, Native American and Egyptian artifacts, nature domains, and the Powdermill Nature Reserve. The art museum consists of 125,000 square feet and as many as 15 changing exhibitions including Contemporary art, sculpture, architectural drawings, and photography. We spent almost four hours walking around both museums and it is 100% something that I would do again – it was one of the most captivating mornings of my life. After the museum we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch and headed to PNC Park for the Pittsburgh Pirates game. They were playing the Philadelphia Phillies that night and, even though they lost, it was a great time! It is the fifth MLB Stadium I’ve been to in my lifetime and hands down, one of the most beautiful to be in!

The following day was spent at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The zoo sits on 77 acres of land in Highland Park, exhibiting more than 4,000 animals representing 475 species, 20 of which are considered to be endangered or threatened. Inside the zoo is the PPG Aquarium, a 45,000 square foot, two-story aquarium. What’s great is that for $16 you get admission to both the zoo and the aquarium, again making for a jam-packed day that doesn’t put a dent in your wallet! Beyond the Buffalo Zoo, I haven’t been to many others. My list is as vast as the zoos in Cleveland and Akron, and Animal Kingdom in Disneyworld if you even want to count that, so this zoo was an absolute breath of fresh air! The fact that it’s located within a park makes the overall feel more authentic, as the exhibits aren’t just thrown into the middle of city-life, they are actually worked into the pre-existing land. We hit beautiful weather making the zoo look and feel more beautiful and welcoming than ever.

Did I want to head back to the 716 after this weekend? No. But reality had to set in and the second I sat down in the car for the drive home, I felt how exhausting the weekend actually was, mostly because my feet were sore and all the walking hit me at once. Would I recommend traveling to Pittsburgh for a weekend? Absolutely. Other than for my brother’s hockey tournaments, I had never been there [I mean really, with hockey, you really only see the hotel and ice rinks] which seems insane considering it’s only about four hours away. But we managed to have a nonstop weekend without breaking the bank, which really, what more could anyone want?

Have you ever traveled to Pittsburgh? If so, what are some of your favorite spots? xoxo.

Love it if we made it | July 2018 Playlist

It’s almost the end of the month which means it’s a great time to round up all of the music I’ve been listening to for the past 30-something days. I must say that I am impressed with the content on this month’s playlist, if I do say so myself. A lot of the music included came from listening to the radio during my road trip to Pittsburgh – shoutout to Sirius XM – a lot of these songs being ones that I cannot stop listening to! Other than that, I have songs recommended to me from friends or family members, songs I’ve stumbled upon while wasting time on my computer, and of course, some new 1975.

What are some songs you can’t stop listening to this month? xoxo.

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.