Summer Recipes I Want to Try

Every summer, I get inspired to eat lighter and brighter. I love snacking on fruits and veggies and enjoying meals outside. This summer is no different. I’m inspired by alllll the summer foods! I realized I’ve been pinning a lot of recipes on Pinterest lately (follow me here!) so I wanted to share them with you. They all look so delicious and I definitely want to try to make all of them before the summer is over.

{ONE} Honey Lime Grilled Shrimp: Shrimp is, by far, my favorite in the summertime.

{TWO} Caprese Pasta Salad: I love this because there are only 4 ingredients!

{THREE} Greek Chicken Pasta Salad: Love a good pasta salad!

{FOUR} Iced Coffee Protein Shake: It wouldn’t be a list without a coffee recipe!

{FIVE} Instant Pot Lentil Soup: For those rainy summer days.

{SIX} Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl: Never tried a smoothie bowl, but this looks amazing.

{SEVEN} Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad: I’ve made this multiple times already and know it’ll be a summer staple, for sure.

BONUS: I also found this epic list of delicious ideas: 65 Summer Dinner Recipes by Dinner at the Zoo.

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Habit Spotlight: Reading

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I’ve been in a huge reading mood lately. There’s something special about getting lost in another world, another story. Bookstores are, by far, some of my favorite places to visit whenever possible (besides coffee shops, of course). There’s something magical about stepping into a bookstore and being overwhelmed by the endless possibilities and stacks upon stacks of books.

Growing up, I was definitely a reader. I preferred curling up with a good book instead of watching TV. My parents are also huge readers so being surrounded by books was not out of the ordinary for our family. We frequently stopped at the library and I joined summer reading competitions more than once.

In high school, I opted for Honors English, in which one of the requirements was to read 50 books in an academic year. Although this might sound overwhelming to some, I never shied away from a challenge.

Then college came. The habit of reading for fun was only practiced during the summer months. During the academic months, I hardly had time to pick up a book for PLEASURE. The books I read were related to my courses, and although some were interesting, most were text-books.

I’d sometimes study in bookstores because I loved the atmosphere and being surrounded by books. I’d see all of new releases and couldn’t wait until summer to read for fun again. At this time, audiobooks weren’t as popular as they are now so listening to a book wasn’t something I even thought of.

Fast forward a few years and the love for reading is still there. This year my goal is to read at least 35 books (not Honors English level, but I’ll get there!). I use Goodreads to track my progress and books I want to read. The hardest part was getting back into the habit of reading daily, and when I did sit down to read, the constant distraction of my phone seemed to always be hindering my progress.

Here are a few ways I’ve made reading part of my everyday routine so I crawl closer and closer to my goals:

  1. Set a timer. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time (even 10 minutes will do), but this helps me stay focused on reading when I know I’m being timed. It also eliminates the urge to check my phone every 5 minutes.
  2. Schedule the time. Sounds obvious, but finding the time to focus on reading is half the battle. Select time in your schedule when you’re the most likely to read, and plan on it. Don’t say you’ll “find time,” but actually schedule the time into your routine so it has a timeframe.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. Some say audiobooks don’t count toward your reading goal, but I’m in the camp that they definitely do. Yes, you can easily get distracted listening to a book while doing other things, so learning when to listen helps with that. For example, I only listen to audiobooks when doing something mindless that doesn’t require my full attention (i.e., doing my makeup, folding clothes, walking on the treadmill).
  4. Use Goodreads. Goodreads has honestly motivated me to stay on track on reading because I can update my progress and visually see how much of the book left to go. I also set my yearly reading goal on there so I can see how close I am to reaching it.
  5. Quit a book if it’s not for you. There are SO many awesome books out there that if you start a book and it doesn’t thrill you, quit it. Seriously. Don’t waste your time dragging through a book when there is a plethora of choices out there waiting for you!

Monthly Roundup: May Favorites

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I struggled through a bit of writer’s block this month. I’m sure you figured that out considering I aim to post every Friday, but this month I definitely did not do that.

I’m not sure why exactly. It just happened. I didn’t want to write fluffy stuff just to post something on here. That’s not fair to you, and that’s not who I am. I’d rather have quality over quantity. Usually I have lots of blog post ideas, but this month my creativity tank was empty. Looking back, there are definitely things I could have written about but the ideas didn’t come to me at the time.

The month went by quickly. The weather got nicer and our schedules got busier, but here are a few May favorites. In June, I promise to be better at posting! (I already have a few ideas up my sleeve.)

{ONE} Social Media Week in New York City

I quite literally started this month heading to a conference that’s been on my career bucket list for a while now: Social Media Week in New York City. I love attending (and speaking!) at conferences and have wanted to attend Social Media Week for a few years now. On May 1, my coworker and I woke up at 4:30am, hopped on a train, and heading to the big city for a day full of learning. I definitely geeked out and had a blast learning from brands like Under Armour, State Farm, The Daily Show, and NBC Universal. (Photo about of my coworker and me in Time Square.)

{TWO} Gym Routine

Luke and I joined a gym this month! There’s one 5 minutes from our house and I couldn’t wait to join it. I’ve never joined a gym before. Usually I’d attend a workout class or run around a local park. Now that we’ve joined, though, it’s a game changer. I try to go at least 4 times a week right after work. I’m only a few weeks into this new routine but I can already tell it’s turning into a habit. I’ll write a full blog post about my gym routine soon. I’m *slowly* getting back into running, which I am thrilled about. My playlist is lacking, though. It literally has not been updated in years. Song suggestions are appreciated!

{THREE} Old Navy Dresses

Old Navy had a great online sale last week and I literally couldn’t resist. I have two dresses of the same style from last year and have wished that I purchased more colors. It’s so comfortable and versatile. It just so happened the dress was on sale so I bought it in three more colors. It’s perfect for summer and I already know they’ll be worn quite frequently (aka all the time).

{FOUR} Laura Story Concert

I attended a Laura Story concert this month, hosted by a non-profit that’s close to my heart, MARKINC Ministries. Admittedly, I wasn’t too familiar with Laura Story’s music prior to the concert but I recognized a lot of her songs! Highly recommend listening to Blessings if you haven’t already. It’s one of her most recognizable hits.

{FIVE} Outdoor Update

During Memorial Day weekend, Luke and I took advantage of a furniture sale and bought ourselves a table and chairs set for our porch! (#Adulting.) I’ve already dreamed of having a front porch that’s perfect for relaxing, working, and enjoying the warm summer days (and nights). We ate lunch out there over the weekend and it was so nice! I can’t wait to sit out there the next time I work from home.

6 Ways To Be Productive (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It)

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Have you ever woken up in the morning and just did not feel like being productive that day?

Maybe it’s gloomy and rainy outside, or the day before was exhausting. Whatever the reason, you wake up and feel like doing absolutely nothing.

I get it. I totally do. In fact, I started this week like that. On Monday morning, I woke up to grey skies and pouring rain and all my motivation to have a productive day was completely gone.

I’m a huge advocate of productivity and organizing your life so you have more time to live. I’ve written blog posts about how to have productive mornings and ways to incorporate healthy habits into your every day life. Yet sometimes, I don’t have the energy to do any of that.

And you know what? That’s okay. That’s normal. We don’t have to go, go, go all the time, and not every day has to be extremely productive. Sometimes the day goes by a little slower than normal.

That’s okay. Sometimes it takes just a little push to get going. Here are a few ways to stay productive on those types of days, and the best part is, these things don’t take a lot of effort at all.

{ONE} Write a to-do list.

Even if you aren’t feeling your best, write down the things that need to get done. Even it’s as simple as “make the bed,” write it down. Checking off to-dos makes you feel accomplished, and even if you don’t complete the entire list, at list it’s written down for tomorrow!

{TWO} Listen to a podcast.

One of my “productive hacks” is listening to a podcast while I do other things like get ready for the day, brush my teeth, and pack my lunch. It’s a great way to gain information without overloading your brain. If you want to take it a step farther, listen to an audiobook instead.

{THREE} Read for at least 5-10 minutes.

I am a huge reader. I’ve gone through phases when I rarely read, but this year I’ve made it a goal to read every day. People say, “I don’t have time to read. I’m so busy!” But really, it’s the simple act of creating a habit that people don’t want to commit to. On slow days when I just do not feel like being productive at all, I still read even if it’s just 5-10 minutes. It doesn’t take very long but you still accomplish something, no matter how small!

{FOUR} Tidy up.

While you may not feel like deep-cleaning the house, that doesn’t mean it should go untouched. Tidy up instead. Fold the blankets and make the bed. Put the dishes in the dishwasher. Throw away the junk mail. Creating a clean space can help ease your mind. Seeing the house slowly transform into a tidy space improves your mindset and makes you feel productive.

{FIVE} Always leave the room with something.

Similarly, whenever you leave a room, bring something with you. Is there a cup in the living room? When you leave the room, bring it with you to the kitchen. Are there shoes in the kitchen? Bring it with you to the bedroom. Without too much effort, you clean the house one room at a time.

{SIX} Add little exercises throughout the day.

You may not feel like going to the gym and running for miles, but that doesn’t mean you should not move at all. Add little exercises throughout the day instead. Do squats as you brush your teeth. March in place as you wait for the microwave. Walk up and down the steps for 5 minutes straight. Moving your body, even if it’s only for a little bit, does wonders for your health and your mindset.

Monthly Roundup: April Favorites

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Apparently April was a month of entertainment.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been in a massive spring cleaning mood. While I’m not going to put “Spring Cleaning” on my favorites list, it definitely was a theme for April.

April is also a busy month work-wise so when I head home, I try not to spend time aimlessly scrolling on my phone and staring at yet another screen. I think that’s why I’m currently ahead of schedule for my yearly reading goal (18/35). I found myself choosing to sit down to read or listen to a podcast or audiobook in the evenings.

{ONE} The Nightingale 

The month started with a quick trip to Florida so I packed The Nightingale because I heard good things about it. Oh my goodness, it was amazing. A definite must-read for those interested in World War 2. I couldn’t put it down and although it has over 600 pages, I read it quickly. Highly recommend.

{TWO} I Am Malala

I’m a little late to the party with this one. I Am Malala definitely had its moment a few years back but I finally decided to read it this month. I was captivated by her story and inspired by her courage and determination.

{THREE} Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion

I am not a die-hard football fan but I do love a good underdog story. When the Eagles won the Super Bowl, it was definitely a moment to remember. The team’s first Super Bowl win, an unstoppable season, and a coach with a unique sense of leadership. I enjoyed reading Fearless: How an Underdog Becomes a Champion, written by Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. I loved understanding his point of view and thought process about the Big Game and beyond.

{FOUR} Michael Jackson Experience

I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan. I listened to his music growing up and couldn’t go into a college exam or give a presentation without first listening to Smooth Criminal. True story, ask anyone. For my birthday, my mom bought us tickets to see a Michael Jackson Experience concert, where a group of performers danced MJ’s infamous moves and recreated iconic concerts from over the years. It was truly an incredible experience and I’m glad my mom and I went together!

{FIVE} Shazam

I didn’t know what to expect when entering the theatre to watch Shazam. I avoided reviews but heard through the grapevine (aka my brothers) that it was a great superhero movie. They were right! I loved it!

{SIX} Captain Marvel

We’re huge Avenger fans over at the Papili household. Before seeing End Game (hopefully soon!) we needed to watch Captain Marvel first. Now we’re ready (although I don’t know if I’m emotionally prepared for whatever’s about to go down).

11 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life Right Now

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Spring cleaning season is officially in bloom.

A lot of people focus on ways to declutter your physical life and space, including ways to organize your desk, clean out your closet, and choose only items that “spark joy.”

However, although our physical lives (and spaces) get much-needed makeovers, our digital spaces – including our phones and laptops – go completely missed. But if you’re anything like me, an organized laptop and clutter-free phone would do wonders for my sanity. I mean, wonders.

So if you want to dive deep into your digital life and execute a thorough declutter, look no farther. Here are 11 ways to declutter your digital life right now.

{ONE} Apps

Chances are you aren’t using half of the apps on your phone, let alone all of them. Take a moment to go through and delete the ones you haven’t used. You can even go into your phone settings and see how much space each app takes if you’re not sure which ones to remove!

{TWO} Photos

Selfies and screenshots galore! I was shocked how many photos were actually hiding on my phone, let alone laptop. It takes a bit of time, but deleting unwanted photos is worthwhile, trust me. Make sure to go into your “Recently Deleted” folder on your phone and delete them there, too!

{THREE} Notes

Ever write a grocery list in a note on your phone? Chances are, you don’t need it anymore. Go through your phone notes and delete the ones that are unnecessary.

{FOUR} Podcasts

This is a newer discovery for me. I didn’t realize the podcast episodes I listen to automatically go into the iCloud. There were dozens of podcast episodes taking up precious storage that I didn’t need to keep. Removing the episodes doesn’t unsubscribe you from the podcast so no need to fear!

{FIVE} Notifications

This is a mental decluttering hack, as well as, a productivity tip: Turn off the “non-essential” notifications on your phone. It’s insane how we constantly get bombarded with notifications: news, social media, emails…just to name a few. I turned off the “non-essential” notifications and it truly makes all the difference.

{SIX} Social media accounts

How many “friends” are actually your friends in real life on social media? Take a moment to purge your social media accounts. A few ways to do this: unfollow accounts that bring you down (whether mentally or emotionally), unfriend people you no longer communicate with, and/or completely delete social media apps you no longer use.

{SEVEN} Emails

I’m not sure about you, but my email inbox can quickly spiral out of control. A few ways to minimize the clutter and regain your sanity: unsubscribe from unwanted senders (promotions, brands, email lists), create folders to organize the important stuff, and delete everything you do not need. This sounds simple but for some reason, it’s a difficult habit to enable at first. It’s worth it, though!

{EIGHT} Files

This is, by far, the most tedious one on this list. I promise it’s worth it, though. Go through your files, open all the folders, and evaluate if you truly still need them all. Maybe there are multiple versions of the same document or a random excel file that is no longer useful. Go through and assess the situation. Once you have eliminated the unnecessary files, create new folders to take your organization to the next level (and then go reward yourself with cake or something, because this is no easy feat).

{NINE} Trash

Empty your trash! It’s as easy as that. You have no idea how many useless files are in there clogging up precious space. Empty it and don’t look back.

{TEN} Downloads

Similar to your trash, I bet there are tons of pointless files hiding your Downloads folder. If you’re like me, there might be 4…5…even 6 copies of the same file hiding in there! Delete them. Odds are they’re outdated by now and/or you got your use out of them.

{ELEVEN} Desktop

How many files are on your desktop? I bet there are a bunch and just the thought of that makes me panic. I like to keep my desktop clutter-free so take a moment to put files into folders, delete completely, and/or reevaluate if you truly need to keep an excel doc from 3 years ago.

 

Happy decluttering! You got this!

A Little Organization Inspiration

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Photo credit: The Neat Method Instagram

Ah, spring.

The season for flowers, warm weather, sunshine, cherry blossoms, and….

Spring cleaning!

To be honest, I have been in a spring cleaning mood lately. I just want to declutter everything! I’ve always been a sucker for anything that can make it look like I have my life together (planners, baskets, folders, containers). This season, I’ve definitely been bit by the decluttering bug!

I was listening to a podcast (@The.Target.Girl) this weekend where the host interviewed someone from the Neat Method. I hadn’t heard of the company before so I quickly found them on Instagram and oh. my. goodness.

It’s organization HEAVEN.

All the boxes, baskets, labels, and colors. Doesn’t it all make you want to organize everything?!

It makes me happy when everything is in its place. Not to mention, it makes a room instantly aesthetically pleasing and welcoming. The photo above alone makes me want to clean out my desk and rearrange my bookshelves (again).

If you’re in need of some instant organization inspiration, here are a few other Instagram accounts you’re sure to love!

You can also check out my organization board on Pinterest here.

Happy organizing!