Spring has Sprung

Spring is already here! How crazy is that? I will say that this year I am especially excited about the warm weather. I probably say that every year but I was not expecting Utah winters to be nearly as cold as this one was. It was just this constant freezing temperature with wind (making the cold 10 times worse). The flowers and greenery are my favorite parts of spring. I have never had a Utah spring but I will be here for April so I will get a taste before my month and a half of travel starts. As always floral prints and shades of pink are favorites for the season. So far my beige trench coat has been my most worn piece, but I am sure that will change as it continues to warm. I am also very into white jeans this spring. It is such an easy way to make an outfit fit for spring while still staying warm.

Floral Prints
Lots of Pink
Fresh Flowers
Warm Weather
Light Sweaters
Raindrops
Baby Animals
Potting Soil
Dresses
Green
Walking in the Rain
Hammock Reading

 

 

 

Erin

On Being Happy

I won’t go into all the details, but I have been struggling on a personal level a lot this year. I realized recently that I haven’t been entirely happy and that has really made me not want to do things that I usually love to do.

The important part of this is that I also realized that my happiness is 100% in my control. I have had some great opportunities and I have amazing, supportive people in my life. I have an amazing job that I really love and I live in a very beautiful place. I thought to myself, how am I unhappy with all these incredible and positive things? What is it that is making me unhappy? The problem is right there. I am way to focused on the outside factors. Happiness is something that can be influenced by outside factors but is ultimately a thing I can control. I can control my own attitudes about my situation and about life in general. This might sound intuitive to some but for me this has been a big realization. I need to take the necessary steps for myself to be happier and have a better outlook on life.

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I want to make a quick note that generally I am a very positive person and don’t usually have a problem making friends and being happy. I have gone through some big changes in the past year and I think I struggled a lot with that. It put me in a state of mind that was not as positive and I started blaming things on other people or outside factors.

A few things I have been doing to change my mindset:

  1. Lots of yoga. This is one that is probably different for everyone but moving your body is a really great way to focus on something else (not thinking too much) while moving your body and getting in touch with your physical self. I overthink things a lot and letting myself let go for an hour or two each day is such a beautiful gift. I want to be clear about this one, it is not at all about losing weight or even being physically fit, its about getting to know myself better and focusing my mind on that.
  2. The 5 minute journal. I only started this about five days ago but I spent a lot of time thinking about it and debating whether or not I should give it a try. I wanted something that puts me in a more positive mindset from the get go every morning. This journal seemed like a great way to influence my initial attitudes about the day while still being true to myself. The journal is just a daily journal with more directed prompts. The prompts are short and quick to make it a very easily attainable habit.
  3. Everyday joys. Incorporation of the things I love and am passionate about into my every day life has been a fun way to remind myself of what I do and who I am, everyday. This sounds vague so I will be more specific about what I am doing. I first made a list of things I love and care about and am trying to dedicate at least 5 minutes a day to thinking about each thing. I am trying to incorporate this into my Instagram stories because it gives me a sense of accountability to those things and it lets me shares those things that I love. One example of this is finding a cool nature video on YouTube or taking the time to explain an interesting biological concept (I think about biology all day but this gives me dedicated time to remind myself of why I love biology). It could also be sharing a trend I am into or a book I am loving. I will say that of all the things on this list, this one is the least developed, meaning I have not made it a habit yet so it might change a little over time.
  4. Intentionality with food. This absolutely does not mean that I am only eating super healthy food, it also does not mean that I previously was not eating healthily. It just means that I am focusing more on what I eat and how it makes me feel. Balance is such an important part of life and it is something I am trying to intentionally bring into my diet. A green smoothie every day has really improved my stomach problems and it has increased my vegetable intake significantly.
  5. Saying yes. In the past I have been that person that always says yes, is always overcommitted and takes every opportunity. This definitely made my life crazy busy but I like being busy, I feel like I work harder, am more productive and am happier when I have lots to do. I realized that I have been making excuses a lot lately which is very unlike me. So, I am trying to say yes to more social things and volunteer for different opportunities at school.

Being happy is a big part of creating the life I want to live. Realizing and recognizing that I have been unhappy has been a big step for me. I definitely hid my feelings and tried to convince myself over and over that everything is okay I am entirely happy with my life right now. It is okay to not be great and happy all the time. Life ebbs and flows and that is just a part of being human. I can’t always control what goes on around me but I can control how I choose to react to things. I may have a gut feeling about something uncontrollable but ultimately I can control how I feel about it in the long run. I choose to be happy with the person I am and to do more of what makes me happy.

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I hope you had a nice, relaxing February. Its already almost March, so crazy!

Erin

New York City for a Day

During the holidays I went into New York City with my boyfriend’s family. It has been over a month since this little trip but I still really wanted to share it since I had such a great time. The last time I was in the city was for several hours during a layover on the way to Iceland and we did not have time to really do or see much. Before that I had not been to NYC since I was eleven. That trip was amazing (we saw the Rockettes) but I no longer remember that much. My boyfriend and his family are not really city people so although they live close ( in New Jersey) they don’t go in that often. I was very excited to explore a little!

We started by walking from Bryant Park to Times Square. You could see the ball all set up and ready for new years. We got a nice view by going up a nearby hotel (the Marriott Marquis, it is a great way to avoid crowds as well). From here we walked to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and ice skating rink. Skating would have been fun but the line was hours long and the rink was pretty crowded (I am clearly not used to being in busy cities, not to mention the time of year in NYC). Our next stop was the New York Public Library. It is such a beautiful building (and its free!) with lots of books and some interesting art exhibits. We ate dinner at Virgil’s near Times Square (very affordable and delicious BBQ). For dessert we got cookie dough from Cookie Dough Confections at the market in Bryant Park and did a little shopping and exploring. For our final adventure of the night we walked to Saks 5th Avenue in attempt to see the windows but it ended up being much more of an adventure then we had anticipated. There were hundreds (probably thousands) of people throughout the street. You literally could not move. It ended up being an amazing light show at Sak’s. It was amazing but the number of people was a little ridiculous (pushing and shoving). Eventually we made it out of the mob and headed back to New Jersey. It was quite the adventure!

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Personally, I would love to go back. I feel like there is so much more to do and see. I think if I actually wanted to do things going back at a time of year when there aren’t so many people would be key.

2019 Goals

I am a little later than I had hoped to be for this but I still really wanted to do a 2019 goals post. I find these kinds of posts so helpful for me, personally, in sticking to my goals for the year.

Before I get into 2019 I want to do a quick recap of last year’s goals. My major categories were fitness, jobs, travel and friendships. I did okay with my fitness goal for the first half of the year but it definitely fell of the map once I started grad school and because of that I am including it in my goals for this year as well. I think I made some big moves in the jobs category and feel great about where I am right now as a PhD student. I really love this job and love taking classes still so I do have specific goals for my job but I am not making a category since I feel really good about it. I think I also very much fulfilled my travel goal for 2018 and while I will definitely continue to travel this year I did not make it a 2019 goal. Finally, friendships which is a little difficult to gauge but I feel like I did okay at this one. I could do better though and my relationships with people are too important not to include as a goal in 2019 (they will probably be something I always include because they are such a priority for me).

And now on to 2019…

Relationships: I looked back at my section on friendships from my 2018 goals and this is going to be very similar. So many of my good friends live all across the country (and the world) so the situation is still pretty similar. I need to make a conscious effort to keep in touch with people and that can be difficult and time consuming so I do feel like I need to think about some more specific ways I can do that. One thing that would be fun is sending letters. I want to send all of my friends one piece of snail mail throughout the year. I also want to try to visit one or two friends who don’t live close in 2019. This definitely includes my family since I am now in a full time job and living away from all of them. I also need to make friends and work on friendships where I am living now more. That has been really hard with graduate school and being in a new environment but making friends has never been a problem for me before so I feel like I really just need to put the time in and make a conscious effort. I am also including my boyfriend in this category and it is going to be similar for the first several months as we are still living apart but he will be moving here in June so my goals there will definitely change. I think the biggest thing for that relationship is just being very conscious of both myself and him and what we both need in our relationship.

Personal: I am not going to go into this a ton but I am in need of some serious personal ‘discovery’. This sounds a little ridiculous but I feel like I have lost myself a little bit over the past year and a half (basically since graduating college) and part of that is probably due to the fact that I have not had a place to really settle down and parts of me have been spread out across the country. I am really hoping to focus on my self a little this year and prioritize figuring out who I want to be, while taking into account who I am right now and where I come from. This sounds like a really vague goal but in all honesty I don’t have a game plan for this goal yet. It just been something I have thought about a ton and am realizing that I have the power to do something about it.

Fitness: This is definitely the epitome of a new years resolution. Even so, it is important for me to set fitness goals every year. It makes it easier for me to hold myself accountable. This year I am really trying to push this one by setting specific goals and rewards for myself. There are two parts for this. First is walking at least 30 minutes every single day. The second part is doing some sort of workout (whether that is yoga, running or strength training) at least five days per week. I am actually starting with six days a week just to help myself get into it. I am pretty good at working out a lot when I am in a grove but if I stop it is so hard to get back into for me so I am trying to minimize breaks.

Nutrition: In general I eat pretty healthy but I think putting this as a goal is important since both my health in the present and my long term health can be affected. I also specifically have been wanting to get into making healthy smoothies and this is definitely the year. So far I have made at least one smoothie almost every day since I have been home this year. Also in this category is eating less meat. I might talk about this later but for now I just want to do my best to not buy much meat and only eat it once or twice a week.

Blog:  In creating a goal around this blog it is important for me to revisit why I started this blog. I created this and continue to do it for me. It is an outlet that lets me get out of the science world for a little bit and express a side of myself that I don’t usually get to (don’t get me wrong I love science and am basically thinking about biology all day every day). Creativity is an important part of who I am and its something that I don’t feel like I get to really do on a daily basis. I am busy but do want to keep up and try to keep a schedule. I am not going to give exact days but in the next few months I want to get to three times a week. Hopefully I can find the time to give a little more to this project and come into myself on this blog. It has been hard for me to find a good balance between really making this mine and doing what I want vs. what everyone else is doing.

Reading: Kind of along the lines of blogging, I love reading and want to do my best to read a book a week. It is so tough because I have to read so much for grad school so I end up not reading nearly as much as I would like to for fun. I set my Goodreads goal for 30 books, like last year, but I am still trying for a book a week. We shall see how that goes. So far I am almost done with my third book so I am on track, however the two books I finished were both audiobooks (way easier with school).

In comparing my 2019 goals to 2018’s I think its really interesting that a lot of them are very different. I actually really like that because it really feels like I am reflecting on what I need in 2019 and what I did not do as well in 2018.

I hope you are having a great 2019 so far and have set some good goals for yourself!

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Erin

Recent Purchases

So I did an Instagram try on to go with this post (first try on, not sure how I feel about talking to the camera). These are things I have purchased over the past month (at least). I definitely won’t be keeping everything but I still wanted to share!

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Eberjey Hoodie: I have had my eye on this  for several months and finally decided to order it while it was on sale. It is possible the softest top I have ever tried on. The only thing to note is that the sleeves are shorter, so the fit is a little unexpected but I still think it is very comfy and perfect for a lazy weekend.

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Everlane Hoodie: I shared this hoodie mostly because its from the company Everlane which is a sustainable clothing company. I am really trying to shop more sustainably and live out my values more, especially when it comes to clothing.

 

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Chenille Sweater: Seriously, Aerie has some of the comfiest clothing ever. I have several sweaters from them and love them all, plus they are super affordable. This chenille one is so so comfy and very oversized. Also the color is great!

New Balance Running Shoe: I am going to give the credit to Lauren Sims for these shoes. I have been needing something versatile like this that is comfortable but can be worn with slightly nicer things (I also wanted black).

 

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Grey Striped Top: This is slightly more of a tunic, which I didn’t really expect, but I actually really like that because it can be easily worn with leggings. It is very soft and great for everyday (gotta love a striped shirt).

 

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Blush Jacket: This jacket is so so comfortable and very flattering. I ordered it but didn’t really think I would keep it because I do already have a pink jacket (different shade) that is kind of similar. I also was skeptical since I order a slightly bigger size than I usually would. The minute I tried it on I knew I would have a problem because it is so so cute. The color is so perfect and I actually really like the roomier fit.

 

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Lilly Dress: So I saw this in a boutique on Captiva Island and loved it but was not about to pay over $200 (I am a grad student over here). The Lilly After Party Sale was coming up so I checked first thing for the dress and sure enough! I don’t wear Lilly a ton but I love some of their simpler designs (I am not a big pattern person).

 

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Dress: So disclaimer, I am almost positive I am going to send this one back. It is very cute and I love the pattern, but it was pretty tight, especially in the arms. I just don’t think I would choose to wear it very much since its definitely tighter.

Levi’s Denim Jacket: This is definitely the best denim jacket ever. It is so so comfy and the perfect mix of fitted and oversized (sounds contradictory but its really right in the middle, very flattering but also very comfortable).

Straw Crossbody: While in Captiva I also popped in the J. McLaughlin shop and spotted the cutest straw bag (I would use as a crossbody). The price tag is definitely more than I can afford but I really loved and decided to look for something similar. I found this one on Nordstrom’s website but am still not completely sold. I really like the style but I feel like it is a little bulkier than I wanted.

I hope you had a great weekend!

Erin

2018 in Pictures

I am a little later than I had hoped for this, but I wanted to do the same thing as last year and review 2018 in photos (here is the link to 2017’s year in pictures). I think this is such a fun way to look back on the year and remember all that has happened. I will sat that 2018 was filled with more challenges than 2017 but there were also some major life changes and fun adventures. I hope to do a bigger reflection post on this in the future but for now, here was my year in pictures:

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I am so thankful for all the opportunities I had in 2018 and for all the people who have been in my life (and who I met!). I look forward to continuing to grow and challenge myself in 2019.

Happy 2019!

Erin

Favorite Books of 2018

I will readily admit that I fell short on my reading goal for 2018. I had hoped to read around a book a week (my number goal was 30 total). That worked pretty well through June and then things got crazy with lots of travel and graduate school. Since September I have only read three books. So throughout the whole year I read a total of 24 books (five of which were re-reads) and chose to include eight of those in this list of the best books I have read in 2018.

Educated by Tara Westover: Such a fantastic and inspiring memoir of a woman who grew up in a very religious family in rural Idaho. I listened to this as an audiobook and was thoroughly captivated the entire time. Tara’s story is heartbreaking, uplifting and inspiring all at the same time. It brought on so many emotions for me (it even brought me to tears at one point).

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrass Tyson: This is a short book that gives a great overview of general astrophysics concepts. It is so easy to read (especially if you have to background in physics) and incredibly interesting. I am so glad I picked it up because I feel like I learned a ton and didn’t have to work super hard to understand things.

Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall: I had no idea that this one would be more than just her life with the gorillas. It is so inspiring and uplifting (read my March Book Round Up for more on this one). I highly recommend it.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: This one took be quite some time and focus to get into but the story is so very beautiful. My friend has told me its her favorite book several times so I finally got around to reading it. I seriously loved it and it will probably be one of my favorites as well!

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: In all honestly I am mostly remembering the show for this one since I read it so early on in 2018. I do remembering really liking the book though. Liane Moriarty’s style of writing was refreshing for me and the characters were so intriguing. I will say that I did not like Madly Truly Guilty nearly as much.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: I did an entire book review on this one so I won’t go to into detail. This story did a great job of reminding me to appreciate and understand where I come from and to change my outlook on the future by accepting that I can’t control everything.

Circe by Madeline Miller: This story of Circe (the Greek goddess) was a recommendation from Bad on Paper Podcast and I am so glad they chose it. The tragic and beautiful story of a underdog goddess, looked down upon by many, is told in full. I think this is my favorite fiction read of the whole year!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green: This is the most recent book I read and I really enjoyed it. I have been excited for Hank Green’s book for a while and for me it lived up to that hype. I don’t want to give anything away so I will only say that it is about this girl, April May, and her journey to fame through her discovery of a stature in New York City (yes that sounds vague but just read it!). I will say that it took me a while to get through. I am not sure if thats because I’ve just been busy or because I took a while for me to really get into.

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear what your favorite books from 2018 were. I am always looking for new things to read! Happy reading!

Erin

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Fun Games for Everyone

Aside from skiing, my favorite holiday activity is definitely playing board games. Games are a great way to bring people together and just have some fun. It can also be a good activity that doesn’t bring up any controversial issues at family events (make sure you choose your games wisely though). There are so many games out there these days so choosing a good one can be tough. Here I have compiled my favorites for the holiday season. All are great for larger groups and the level of competition varies from collaborative (Forbidden Island) to fairly competitive (Sushi Go!). I also threw in Cards Against Humanity and What Do You Meme? which are both hilarious card games for adults (great for dinner parties and gatherings with friends).

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Sushi Go!: I love this one because you can play with anywhere from 2 to 8 people. It involves both strategy and luck and can be on the more competitive side but is still super fun. The game changes quite a bit with numbers but that is part of the fun! It is a very fast paced game that can be difficult to learn but is quick once you get the hang of it. I recommend getting Sushi Go Party because it allows for many different variations of the game.

Settlers of Catan: This is a fun strategy game that is fairly easy to learn. The draw back of this one is that you can only have 4 players and it can take a while. Play is generally slower and moves take more careful, thought and strategy.

Forbidden Island/Desert: Both of these are fun collaborative games that require everyone to work together in order to win. They are harder to learn because there are lots of things happening and different players have different rules associated with them. There are player limits which can be a downside and it takes on average around 30 minutes to play a game. This is a great option if games easily cause too much competition. As a side note this is one of my favorite games of all time!

Balderdash: I was very reluctant to play this game but when I finally decided to play it ended up being super fun. It is a great way to really get people out of their comfort zones. It is all about improvising and making up words or stories for obscure words. Game play is longer but is not difficult to learn!

Clue: Forever a classic but I had to include it because it is another one of my all time favorite games. There is a lot of suspense and it can be competitive but I think it is generally very fun and pretty easy to learn.

Hedbanz: This is a fun one for large groups of people. There are lots of different versions (I really like some of the apps as well), it is fun way to laugh with everyone. It is also a great way to get everyone to loosen up and have fun. Game play per round is relatively short (depending on how fast people guess) but you can play for as long as you like.

Boggle: Boggle is such a fun word game! There are lots of app versions but the physical Boggle game can be a fun way to get everyone to participate. It is super easy to learn, easy to play and each round is short. I am very excited to try Big Boggle!

Telestrations: This might be my number one pick for family games. It requires little instruction and can be easily played with all generations and still be hilarious. It is kind of like the telephone game (where you whisper a word/phrase and it goes around the circle) but you are interpreting your neighbors interpretation of a statement or drawing.  You do have to be able to write and draw so its not for younger kids.

Cards Against Humanity: I probably don’t have to say much about this one. Most people are at least semi-familiar with this hysterical game. I would say the family friendly edition is Apples to Apples (this is definitely for adults).

What do you meme?: This one is actually very new to me but I am convinced that it is the best game for large groups of people. It is very similar to Cards Against Humanity but you are captioning a population meme. Seriously, so so funny. While it is great for friends, I am not sure it would be the best for families (different generations).

I hope you enjoyed this list and it gave you some ideas for what to do over the holidays! Let me know if you have any good ones that I missed!

Erin

 

Holiday Wishlist

I decided not to do gift guides this year because there are so many out there and gifts can be really personal (this year lots of mine are specific to the person). I might do them in the future but for now I decided to make a holiday wish list. This can still give others an idea of what to ask for and what to give. Mine is definitely general and I am not expecting to get everything (or even anything) but these are some things I have been wanting for a while.

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  1. Align leggings: I don’t need to say much about these but I love Lululemon leggings and I wear leggings almost every day so I am really wanting to try the align tight. This photo is of Zella leggings which are amazing too!
  2. Superga sneakers: These have been in my Nordstrom cart several times but I have just yet to pull the trigger. I know I would wear them a ton and have been on the lookout for some good, comfortable sneakers for a while.
  3. Kitchen Aid mixer: I did not actually ask for a kitchen aid this year but it is on my long term wish list so I wanted to include it.
  4. Cozy hoodie: There are a couple of hoodies that I have had my eye on and this Eberjey one looks especially comfy!
  5. 2019 planner: I didn’t specify exactly which one but I definitely like to have a paper planner to organize my days. It helps especially with the longer term things.
  6. Smoothie blender: An easy way to make healthy breakfasts is becoming necessary for grad school!

Happy Holidays!

Erin

Holiday Movies

Last week did a quick post on my favorite show to watch during the holidays and I also wanted to do a post on holiday movies. There are so many! Here I include several classics and several newer movies that make for a great holiday night with loved ones (or by yourself!). I have actually watched quite a few Hallmark Christmas romances, however here I am choosing my favorite holiday movies overall so I am not really going into those. Instead I chose three holiday romance movies at the end.

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Classics

Its a Wonderful Life: A true Christmas classic. This is one of my dad’s favorite movies so I had to include it. I won’t go to into detail but make sure you watch all the way through. There are some sad parts but the end is uplifting!

Home Alone: Such a classic, you really can’t go wrong with a night of ice skating, cookie baking and watching Home Alone. Although I was kind of terrified of these movies when I was younger, now they are so fun to watch at this time of year.

Elf: I don’t know why but this movie quickly became the go to in our house around Christmas. We watched it every year for at least 10 years (and probably more than once every year).

Santa Claus is Coming to Town: I highly enjoy the animations and the songs in this movie. It is a great Christmas classic, and good for kids!

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas: I have not actually watched the new one yet but I really looking forward to it. I have heard such great things. They older version is good but I always thought it was a little creepy.

Romance

Four Christmases: This romantic comedy is the perfect movie for some holiday laughs. There is family, romance and Reese Witherspoon. I highly recommend!

Love Actually: I really loved this movie. It is very heartwarming and beautiful but not naive about love. I just feel like the relationships are more realistic!

A Christmas Prince: Pretty much the definition of a cheesy christmas romance and I do have to say it is significantly better than other Netflix Christmas romance movies I’ve seen. The sequel is actually the most recent Christmas movie I watched and it was very cheesy but decent if you are looking for a feel good romance.

The Princess Switch: This movie is also very cheesy but I did end up thinking it was pretty cute. Its about a baker and a duchess who are related (and look the same) and everything that ensues when they find each other. There are some great nods to The Parent Trap which was fun.

As a side note I am really looking forward to watching The Christmas Chronicles (on Netflix) this year.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays!

Erin