Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mix and Bite



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With summer entering into its end phase — sorry kids, time to start thinking about school — this is the time I really enjoy time outside. July is always so hot and unbearable, but August and early September are so pleasant, particularly the evenings. 

Question: Is there anything better than spending a summer night on the porch or an impromptu picnic with your friends absentmindedly biting at yummy snacks and sipping on delicious mixed drinks? Answer: No. There is nothing better. Throw in some music in the background and thrilling conversation, you've got a pretty solid setting. 

Please note that I am not talk about hardcore chowing down. While I am totally behind al fresco dining, I am talking about some proper midday-late night adult snacking. Easy access snacks like pretzels and popcorn are honestly the best, and they aren't LOADED with calories so you can snack guilt-free. Though, I always snack guilt-free ... Own your snacking!

But snacking is only truly great when it's paired with the best beverage, and summer offers such a great menu of cocktails. SkinnyPop has sportingly provided a handy guide for your snacking/drinking needs. Just the thought of indulging in a blueberry mojito with some salt and pepper popcorn has me wanting to call off work to initiate an early happy hour.

Honestly, as my week stands, nothing sounds better than a margarita (make it a size large!) and a bowl of pepper jack popcorn.


 - Ashley

What is your perfect summer snack/drink pairing? 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lessons Learned

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I've mentioned casually (read: I slide it into every conversation) that after 10 months of job searching, I finally hooked one.

If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know I am from the great, majestic state of Pennsylvania. Having gone to college in Pittsburgh and absolutely falling in love with the city, I wanted to stay and work. After graduation, I went back home and kept submitting applications for jobs in PGH. But, I never made it past the in-person interviews—if I made it that far. So I expanded my search. I applied up and down the northeast. Ya'll, I applied to a job in Binghamton, NY ... I'm still not quite sure where that is.

Eventually, I found myself deep in the interview processes for two jobs: one at home, one in Washington, DC. One day, I was cooking lunch and my phone went off. It was a job offer in DC. I cried immediately after hanging up. After, I (sort of) pulled myself together, I called everyone. One call was made to my uncle who lives in Maryland and works in DC. He was my saving grace.

I was a girl who was operating on a retail paycheck. I was a girl who was NOT going to be able to afford housing in DC right off the bat. It's a great city, but like all great cities it is not very budget friendly, especially if you're right out of college.

All of the great support I got through my transition into the next phase of my life was from my family. I could not have remained sane without my crazy family. :)

My uncle has opened up his home to me, which has made saving my money so much easier. My mother gave me a short course in budgeting before I became a responsible, salaried employee. My dad answers literally every money question I have regarding what would be smart for me to do in the long run.

With all of these great people in my corner, offering up the warranted (and admittedly sometimes unwarranted) advice, I made some great adult strides: I got a credit card, I bought my cell phone up front to keep monthly payments lower and not be tied down by a contract, I've acknowledged a consistent weekly budget for things like groceries, I've made larger payments toward my student loan to lessen the duration even by just a little bit.

All this responsibility, and the experiences I hear about from my friends, really has me thinking about all sorts of potential moves down the road. I have friends who have had to take out loans to afford rent; those who have research student loan refinancing; friends who have explored ways of making payments easier for them. One of my co-workers mentioned I name I knew when we were talking about finance, Earnest. You may recognize them from a previous post. She spoke more directly to their student loan refinance options, but they also boast low-interest personal loan options to make life a little easier if you are looking at loans.

As scary as the prospect of all the financial decision making was when I was younger, I actually am enjoying the real life education I am getting along the way. I've looked to not only my family, but also resources like Earnest which have provided great explanations of the various options that we all have, but may not be so quick to think about.

- Ashley

How was your transition out on your own for the first time? What was the best advice you received?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I Woke Up Like This

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You know those articles that pop up all over the web? Those articles that make you feel like a lazy slug because of your morning routine? I know you have seen them...they are everywhere.

Now, I don't want to totally tear them apart. I understand and appreciate what they are trying to convey. We have to work hard to maintain healthy and balanced lifestyles, I get it. However, can we please acknowledge reality for a second?

Are these kinds of morning schedules truly attainable? Not for all of us.

I applaud the women who find the strength within them to wake up with enough time before work to get in a workout, eat the healthiest breakfast you've ever heard of, do some light reading, catching up on the news, and finishing their first cup of coffee (whaaaat?)

I'm gonna be real. I do not wake up energized. I wake up tired. I wish I could be one of those people who just wakes up a morning person; one of my roommates in college was that person. Unfortunately, my timing still isn't great on matching up my alarm with my REM cycle, but I'm working on it. Note: that's sarcasm. I'm not working on it. I have other things to do.

I would love to get in a morning run. It's nice and cool in the morning, a great time to clear my head and begin the day. However, that would mean getting up at 5 am — considering I would need time for a quick shower. Also, I can't say I would feel totally safe running before the sun is up. But I do try and get a morning run in when I am working from home or on the weekends.

But I do try to make my morning a good one, because I do believe that it does set the precedent for the day. I can't have a long leisurely morning and stroll out calmly for work; I would get lazy. So I wake up, giving myself between 1-1.5 hours before I have to walk out to catch the train.

The night before I will have thought about making my lunch, but I will not have made my lunch, so I will throw a salad together while the kettle boils for my coffee. In the four minutes that it takes the coffee to do it's thing in the press, I put together my breakfast: yogurt and berries, Cheerios (always the OG) and berries, or a breakfast sandwich.

I allow myself to catch up on my late night show clips and any breaking news from the night since I do my reading on the train (great way to get through the 45 minute commute!)

Compared to the morning routines in these articles, mine certainly probably seems a bit lazy, but IRL it works for me. I don't feel sluggish during the day. Sure, I get kinda tired around 2 pm, but then I get up and take a walk down to the riverfront to breathe in the fresh air for 15 minutes before I head back to finish the day.

Morning routines aren't one-size-fits-all. Never let one person's productive morning make you feel like you aren't doing enough...it's quite possible you are.

- Ashley

How do you spend your morning?

Friday, August 4, 2017

Week Links

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If you have been on social media in the past few days you probably read about the Ta-Ta Towel. While I appreciate its mission...not quite sure how I feel about it.

McDonalds has a lobster roll? Has anyone had this? Please provide thoughts if so.

The Apple iOS11 update will include a screen recording function. I feel like this is one that will get people into some trouble.

Have a great weekend!
-Ashley

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Travel Far, Travel Wide, Travel Smart

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It seems that once I graduated and got my job, everyone wanted me to come visit them or wanted to organize trips. I've booked two flights and one hotel for three separate adventures in the past two months! For context, I have flown a grand total of once in my life and it was with parental guidance. 

Don't get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to the trips I have set up. I'm excited to see the mountains of Colorado for the first time visiting family there. I can't wait to fly up to NYC for a weekend to hang out with some friends from college. And of course, I couldn't be more amped to take a trip back to Pittsburgh with my mother for a weekend of college football and Steel City fun!

While I can pride myself on finding cheap plane tickets and reasonably priced rooms downtown for a holiday weekend, the actual air travel part is new to me. Like I said before, last time I had responsible people with me, and now I have to find my own way between gates and understanding flight etiquette.

But a few things stick out in my mind as the go-to tips that I definitely think are applicable to all forms of travel (just call me the queen of roadtrips!)

Keep it to a carry on. As a young person with very little to her name at this point, I am not a fan of spending money where I don't have to. For a four day trip you can expect me to cram MY LIFE into a carry on and my personal bag. It helps that my only suitcase currently is a small rolling bag that definitely falls in the carry on category. I have perfected the art of tightly rolling pieces that can be worked into at least three different outfits and sliding shoes along the edges. It is both an art and a science.

Travel comfy. I've book flights on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. My trip to Colorado will be long with tedious layovers — who needs to spend three hours waiting in Atlanta?! — while NYC is thankfully a single, straight shot from D.C. Either way you can expect to find me in leggings, a loose t-shirt, with a light sweater since being a comfortable temperature is not a luxury I can expect in any space I enter into.

Have all the entertainment. Books, mags, music; I've got it all. If you don't have a window seat you need to keep occupied, and people watching gets creepy after awhile. #lessonslearned

Stay organized. You probably know this. This note is mostly for me, when it's travel day and I go to look back on this post. For the love of all that is holy keep all tickets, passports, essential travel docs in one accessible pocket of your bag and avoid the, "Hold on, I swear I have it right here...nope..." moment in front of everyone who is already pissed they're waiting in line.

Look at me pretending like I'm a guru because I managed to book seats. :) I guess I could have worse reactions to performing adult tasks.

- Ashley

What are your biggest travel tips?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hello from the Other Side

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I don't know what it is, but I am very excited about everything right now.


So excited that I've managed to find the motivation to resuscitate the blog that hasn't been updated since June 23 — sorry 'bout that!


There's a lot I'm excited about: the brief bout of comfortable weather, my really trendy outfit today, the fact that my Netflix calendar seems doable, I've found a farmers market near work that has decent produce (rant post about quality of grocery store produce south of PA to come at a later date.)


I finally feel at peace with my job. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has found the first month(s) of a job difficult to adjust to. But I finally feel like I am overcoming the MOUNTAIN of mistakes I found myself making constantly.


So since I feel real life balanced, I think it's time that I can put my mind to focus on this blog again. There is so much to talk about in this world that isn't politics — Buzzfeed covers that forest fire better than I ever would!


There is so much that I have learned about myself and how I operate independently in the last few months after getting my first job and moving away from home, and so much that I know I want to experience. I look forward to discussing all of that here again.


While I do intend on improving the look, unlike the last time I disappeared from the blogosphere, I won't be changing up the entire branding of the blog — RIP All That Glitters, Long Live Sunday Brunch — as Sunday brunch is still an activity I enjoy in this new chapter of life and still produces the best conversations...but so does Happy Hour. Note: Since I'm now in D.C. I look forward to sharing all the best brunch spots with you; though I am skeptical given that I'm a slave to my college PGH brunch spots. :P


- Ashley


How have you been since the last time we chatted? ;)

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Home Away from Home

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Remember like four months ago when I told y'all that I had finally gotten a job and was finally moving up and out? In case you missed it ... that happened. I moved to D.C.; or rather the D.C. area-ish. I'm currently living with family in Maryland with a fun (read: long) commute into the city every morning. But actually, I won't complain. I'm #blessed to have family here to help me save up money before I venture out on my own. Speaking of which ... I have officially started the search for a new place. That's right! I'm on the hunt for a room with off-street parking—fun fact, I am very much afraid of street parking. :)

Anyway, since I really wasn't sure how long I would be staying with family, I was very unsure of how much of my stuff to bring. I'm not someone who likes to roll in with everything they own in tow ... that seems a bit presumptuous, right?

But at the same time, I did want to feel at home. I was going to be coming back to this bedroom every night after work and needed it to be a place for me to unwind from the stresses of the day. Even though I was told I didn't need to, I brought my own bedding with the encouragement of my mother. There is just something about the Room Essentials brand microfiber sheets from Target that I absolutely love. They are so comfortable!

I brought a bunch of books. Books I haven't read yet, but have had for approximately 1,000 years. Cookbooks since I knew I needed to find new things to keep my appetite up through the week.

After a few months, I went home to visit my parents and came back with my record player, and a few of my favorite records. The room has my scent now; I have candles and sprays everywhere.

I got comfortable buying things for the room that I wanted and knew I would use down the road in future rooms. I bought a cute retro style fan from TJ Maxx, since it is so so hot south of the Mason-Dixon line.

In my next place, I hope to feel a bit stronger a sense of permanence, though I know it won't be permanent. But the kind of permanence where you feel comfortable sticking a few nails in the wall and hanging up fancy wall art like the adult that you are. Of course, I will have to become a collector of such art first.

I do have a ton of photos of family and friends, though! However, I do feel slightly uncomfortable hanging too many pictures of them and having their eyes follow me room to room as I make my daily questionable decisions. Since most of these photos are stored in a digital space (very millennial, I know) and printing them seems a little excessive, I am a fan of placing the files in a digital frame and having it slide photo to photo. Check out these frames from Aura! How cute are they? You better believe the ivory and rose gold colored frame is all up in my shopping cart. And when you think about it, this is a way simpler idea than dealing with hanging frames on the wall and stepping back to see that one is like three inches lower than the rest, and you don't run the risk of people pointing out the aggressive number of picture frames crammed on bookshelves—I obviously have some opinions. Haha!

<3 Ashley

How do you make your space feel like "home?"