Here’s What’s Up: Quarantine Edition

Alexa, play “Locked Up” by Akon.

First and foremost, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during this scary, uncertain time. It’s incredibly overwhelming with the current circumstances of the world looming over our heads and always having it in our face with the news and social media. For a while, it didn’t exactly feel right to push out content at this time, but I’ve found that creating content and writing has been therapeutic for me. I, like many others across the globe, have found myself mentally and emotionally struggling during this time and this is the best way for me to deal with what’s been going on in my mind, so I’ve made the decision to continue to create and distribute my blog posts.

Today is the day that I thought I’d be returning to work and everything would start to shift back to our normal routine, but this is not the case. I’ll be honest, initially this didn’t seem like such a bad gig — a little more time to myself, a two-pace commute to my desk, having a consistent workout schedule. It all sounds pretty great! Now that we are about a month in, I’m finding that I’m having a much harder time with it all. My fiancé and I were in the middle of house hunting, and I was sure that we’d be in our future home within the next few months; however, with the mandatory shelter-in-place in effect in Michigan, our search has come to a screeching halt. Additionally, since he is a firefighter and can potentially be dealing with COVID patients on a daily basis, we have made the decision to socially distance from each other. After being long distance for four years, this should be a piece of cake, but I’m taking it a lot harder than I anticipated. Luckily, I’m safe at home with my immediate family, and we’re all safe and healthy with the exception of an increased feeling of cabin fever. I’ve been making a conscious effort to get some fresh air by going for walks a few times a week or just stepping out on our back patio, and trying to keep in touch with friends and family through texts, calls, FaceTime, and Zoom meetings.

I’m well aware that my own situation is peanuts compared to what others are going through. My heart aches for my little brother and the rest of the senior class of 2020 who are missing out on those final days of high school and college: sports seasons have been cut short, no prom, no spring break, missing out on those final days with their friends, and Lord knows about graduation or graduation parties to celebrate their achievements. My heart goes out to those who cannot gather for various milestones at this time — having to postpone their weddings, being unable to properly put on a funeral or celebration of life for those lives that are lost, and many more circumstances. Finally, my thoughts and prayers are constantly with those who are being directly affected by the virus — people who have and had the virus, their families, those on the frontlines: healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers (grocery workers, mail carriers, and many others) putting themselves at risk daily to help fight this and help others through this.

The Positives

Despite everything, I’m making an effort to focus on many personal positives that have come out of this:

  • Working on my Health and Body: I now have a consistent daily workout routine with the help of two of my sorority sisters. Also, being at home has forced me to practice better eating habits and cook meals that are better for me (not including the chocolate croissant above — that is a special treat since it reminds me of happier times). In addition, I’ve developed a solid meditation routine. While I’m still not the best at turning my mind off, I notice that I’m getting better with every practice.
  • Wedding Planning: I have the time to start researching venues and vendors for our wedding. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve already found my dress (more to come on that later)! With everything so up in the air right now, we have yet to set a concrete date, but we’re aiming for Spring 2022, so getting a head start on planning has me super excited!
  • Blogging: As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been able to dedicate more time to working on my blog and creating more content. It has been very therapeutic to me to do something I’m passionate about.
  • Developing Personal and Professional Skills: I’ve allocated more time to improving myself on both a personal and professional level, utilizing platforms such as Coursera and LinkedIn Learning. This is something I’ve been trying to do for a long time, but time didn’t always allow for me to get through the course; now, I have zero excuse to not get through them!
  • Reading: Slowly but surely, I’m been working on my rather large to-be-read pile. Currently I’m working on The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and I’m totally captivated by this story. To discover more books that I’m reading, have read, or what I’m looking to read next, check out my Goodreads profile. My goal this year is 55 books, but I’m always hoping to surpass that goal!
  • A Deeper Appreciation: As they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. Boy, has that really hit home with me during this time. I’ve always thought that I appreciated the little things, but this has taught me not to take little joys for granted.

A Glimmer of Hope

At the end of all of this, I’m really hoping that people prioritize what’s really important in life, and don’t take our freedoms and privileges for granted. Hug your loved ones a tighter and cherish the time you have with them. We will persevere.

-K.

Big Announcement

I have been teasing you all about a big announcement for a few months now, and it’s finally time for me to tell you all the big news… 

SURPRISE! I REBRANDED!! 

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The new logo

I know what you guys are thinking… “okay, Kourtney, but didn’t you just rebrand a few years ago?” The answer is yes, yes I did; however, one thing I love about blogging is that blogs aren’t meant to remain stagnant – a blog grows and changes with its author. When I previously rebranded, I was fresh out of college, and didn’t really have a good grasp on what a brand consisted of. Since one of my responsibilities at work is managing our brand and taking a few classes, I now have a better understanding of what brand management entails. 

I’ve always thought of this blog as an extension of myself and my creative outlet. Truth be told, I’ve been feeling as though my blog has been missing something, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. This in turn made me feel as though I wasn’t being 100% true to myself and that was being reflected in my blog. I cannot stress enough how much I adore solely writing about topics that I’m passionate about, and being able to connect with my readers on a personal level. That being said, I felt as though a change needed to be made and, thus, a new brand was born!

I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Katelyn at Driftwood and Daisies for taking on this project with me, and sharing her AMAZING design work!

Stay tuned for a new look coming soon!

-K.

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20 Travel Tips: Italy Edition

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was on the trip of a lifetime in Italy! Following the trip last year, I did a recap post featuring photos and brief overview so as not to bore you all with the details. HOWEVER, if you so wish to hear more about the trip, feel free to comment or email, and I will be happy to share! 

In honor of this anniversary, and to spark my own nostalgia, I decided to put together a list of helpful travel tips for first-time travelers to Europe. I’m absolutely by no means an expert on the topic, this is simply what I learned on my first trip abroad. Prior to my trip I did a TON of research on things to know before traveling abroad, so I highly recommend you do as well.

  • Europe is full of history and each city has so much to experience, so don’t stress if you can’t visit absolutely everything you want to see. This is something I had a hard time accepting during my time in Italy especially being the type-A, history nerd that I am. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax (and see the world obviously), but you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re constantly stressing over where you’re going to go next.
  • Piggybacking off of the previous tip, don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, especially meals. At the beginning of each day, Ry and I would pick out the main attractions we wanted to see, and wander around the areas. You never know what you’ll find by simply exploring! We found some of our favorite restaurants on the trip by doing this.
  • Be sure to validate your train tickets prior to boarding. Our primary means of travel from city to city was by train. The vast majority of the time, we bought our tickets at the station; I’d read a few articles prior that stated Tren Italia’s website isn’t always reliable so it’s best to purchase directly at the station.
  • Carry a small, cross-body purse and keep it in front of you — Pick-pocketing is huge in the cities and they know a tourist when they see one.
  • If you’re looking for a quick, early meal, think again! Dinner in Italy generally takes place after 7 pm and is more relaxed than meals in the US.
  • Many churches and other religious sites require ladies to have their legs and shoulders covered when you enter.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to drink for free at the various water fountains sprinkled throughout Rome.
  •  Walk as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Watch out for scams such as people putting jewelry on your wrist, helping take your luggage off the train, asking you to sign petitions, etc.
  • Drink the house wine — it’s often cheaper, but still delicious!
  • Learn the language. You don’t have to be fluent (the locals don’t expect you to), but pick up a few general phrases that will help you out along the way. I used the free Duolingo app before I went, and it helped immensely.
  • When in Rome, visit the Trevi Fountain later in the day or at night, it’ll be way less crowded.
  • Don’t eat near a major landmark — the closer you are, the higher the prices.
  • Cappuccinos are a morning only drink in Italy.
  • Instead of a gondola ride, opt to climb to the top of San Marco’s Campanile in Venice for some incredible views.
  • Casa di Giulietta is what Verona is most famous for, but did you know that they have an Arena similar to the Colosseum where concerts and plays still take place? We had an amazing lunch at a cafe near the Arena and it was a stellar experience.
  • Don’t miss out on the opportunity to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. If you’re asthmatic (like myself) be sure to bring you’re inhaler – that’s 463 steps!
  • It is incredibly easy to get lost in Italy. Download a map (or carry a paper one) so you don’t have to rely on WiFi.
  • The pizza, pasta, wine and gelato are most definitely as good as everyone says they are. Definitely go all in on the food when you’re there; you’ll walk it all off during your visit!
  • Italy is truly a magical place to visit. Make sure you aren’t spending too much time behind the phone/camera, and take it all in!

If you have any questions or need recommendations, leave a comment or feel free to email me! Where are you headed next?

-K

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

I’m finally back from my two month hiatus! Truth is, it was much-needed for me to take a step back and focus on my full-time job and my mental and physical health, which I will be addressing in an upcoming post. Today I am celebrating something near and dear to my heart: this blog!

5 years ago yesterday, I started on a journey to enhance my writing skills on an outlet that I never knew would become such a passion of mine.  From the very beginning, I knew that this isn’t something I wanted to do for money or likes, but I wanted to do it because it was something that I genuinely enjoyed, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I always thought, “if one person can read this, and take something away from it that makes them feel as though they’ve connected on some level with me, then I’m doing something right.” One of the beautiful things about blogging is that it’s a way of telling your story without any guidelines or having to stick to anyone else’s voice. The fact that I’ve always been able to be 100% authentic is what truly drives me to continue to blog.

TOP 5 LESSONS LEARNED IN 5 YEARS OF BLOGGING:

  1. There will be times when you need to take a step back from blogging, and that’s okay. Life can be really freaking hard sometimes and you owe it to yourself to keep your health in check. 
  2. Your writing, style and interests will evolve and change as you grow and learn. Let it happen.
  3. Quit comparing yourself to others; you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” to be a good blogger.
  4. Stay true to yourself — don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  5. People will be judgmental and have some not-so-nice things to say when you put yourself out there. Don’t let these people stop you from sharing your story and chasing your dreams.

BONUS LESSON

Always have kickass support system behind you. Unfortunately, your blog will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are always those family members and friends that will be there to support your every blog and Instagram post regardless of how avant garde it can be. Make sure you keep these people in your circle forever.

Thank you so much for sharing in this journey with me these last five years, and for the steadfast support. I have some of the best followers ever!

Cheers to many more years!

– K

3 Fall TV Shows Worth Watching

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year in Michigan: hot cider, cozy sweaters, and some of my favorite tv shows are back on air! I really don’t watch too much tv as I don’t really have time for it, but there are a select few *cough* GoT *cough* that I always make sure to pencil into my schedule. Here are three of my favorites you won’t want to miss this fall.

    1. American Horror Story: Cult // I got into the American Horror Story franchise my sophomore year of college when my friends that lived on my floor invited me to watch the season premier of Coven (season 3), and I’ve been hooked ever since. While the last few seasons have been hit-or-miss, this season promises a good scare. Set in Detroit during the 2016 election, there is still not much known about the season as a whole. Season 7 of AHS kicks off TONIGHT at 10PM.
    2. Outlander // My love for Outlander began after I watched the first episode from the first season, and spawned from there. The series follows Claire Beauchamp as she journeys to Scotland with her husband following World War II where she mysteriously falls back in time to the 18th century and falls in love with a Scotsman Jamie Fraser. Today I’m working on the fifth book in the incredible series by Diana Gabaldon. The third season of Outlander begins Sunday, September 10th.
    3. Fuller House // Growing up, I LOVED watching Full House, so you can imagine my excitement for the spinoff following the Tanner clan today. If you don’t know already, Fuller House focuses on DJ and her children following the death of her husband. Part 1 of the third season comes to Netflix Friday, September 22 – aka Full House’s 30th anniversary!

What are shows you are looking forward to this fall?

-K.

Keeping it Current

Keeping it Current

Just today I was converted into a huge Madewell fan. I swear their jeans are absolute magic; I have an odd body shape, and I’ve never had jeans fit me properly. But, let me tell you, when I slipped into my first pair of Madewell jeans today, I became a believer.

Recently, I tried my first bath bomb from Lush Cosmetics (this one to be exact) and it’s great for those days when you want a relaxing bath, but don’t necessarily want to be covered in bubbles. My only complaint with this bath bomb in particular is that you have to clean the rose petals out of the bottom of the tub when you’re done.

I’m still obsessing over Justin Timberlake’s opening number of Can’t Stop the Feeling at the Oscars. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video, I promise you won’t regret it. Plus, if you’re anything like me, the song will get you on your feet and dancing as if you’re one of his backup dancers.

If you don’t already, feel free to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I usually follow back if I’m paying attention to notifications, and I give insights into my personal life on all of them. Tonight in particular, I’m live tweeting the Oscars, and I think I’m really funny so go check it out!

-K.

Keeping It Healthy: Snack Options

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Do you want to lead a healthier lifestyle? Do you have a problem succumbing to your unrelenting sweet tooth? Well keep on reading because I have a list of healthy and delicious snacks that’ll help kick that sweet tooth and unhealthy cravings to the curb! As I mentioned in my first post of the year, I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle, and one way I’m doing that is swapping out my Cheetos and Sweettarts for some healthier options. So, without further ado, here are some healthy snacks I’ve been eating to curb my cravings!

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Roasted or lightly salted almonds

Clementines

Luna protein bar — my favorite is the chocolate chip cookie dough; it tastes like a candy bar!

RX Bars

Cliff Crunch Granola Bars — my favorite is the chocolate peanut butter

Organic tortilla chips & guacamole — Wholly Guacamole makes 100 calorie containers to take on the go. It’s perfect for midday snack at the office!

Apple slices & peanut butter

Fresh fruit salad — berries, pineapple, and watermelon are a few of my favorites

Greek yogurt — add a little crunch with some homemade granola

Roasted chick peas — I’ve actually started craving these more than chips these days

Graham crackers & peanut butter

Carrots, celery & ranch — to make this healthier, buy a Ranch dry mix packet & mix it with 8 oz. of plain Greek yogurt

Brown rice triscuits & babybell cheese

String mozzarella cheese

Dehydrated fruit rings, specifically apple rings

Haagen-Daas Raspberry Sorbet — okay, so maybe this isn’t necessarily a healthy snack, but I like to talk myself into believing it is!

Leave a comment below with some of your favorite healthy snacks & recipes. I’d love to try some new ones!

-K.

February Playlist


Black // Dierks Bentley

River // Bishop Briggs

Paris //  The Chainsmokers

I Feel It Coming // The Weeknd

Sooner or Later // Aaron Carter

John Wayne // Lady Gaga

Fast // Luke Bryan

Beauty & the Beast // Ariana Grande & John Legend

Star of the Show // Thomas Rhett

Death of a Bachelor // Panic! At the Disco

The Fighter (ft. Carrie Underwood) // Keith Urban

Travel Essentials

If you follow me on any form of social media, you know that my boyfriend, Ryan, is in the Air Force and has been stationed on the other side of the world for a little over a year. I’m so excited to announce that in just three short months I will be hopping on a plane to visit him for a two week Italian adventure!! This is my first time traveling internationally so I’m super stoked, but also a little nervous, but that’s to be expected. I’m mostly elated to be reunited with my guy; It’s also the first big vacation Ryan and I are taking together in our three years of being together.

Since this is my first international flight, I’ve been doing a ton of research to plan and prepare. I’ve obviously never been on a flight this long and I have the tendency to get bored easily so I need plenty to keep me occupied during my travels. In honor of this exciting news, here is my list of necessities for traveling.

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  • First and foremost, I always take a large tote bag or backpack as my purse carry-on so that I can have my essentials right at my fingertips throughout the flight. I just purchased this one from Longchamp and I absolutely LOVE it. It fits everything I need and then some. It’s even large enough to fit a laptop if you wish to bring it with you for work related trips. The Longchamp could also be used as an overnight bag for quick trips.
  • I also always bring a cross body bag or wristlet for daily use so I’m not lugging around a large tote. My boyfriend bought me this Michael Kors one for Christmas and it goes with just about everything!
  • Your iPad or laptop is essential if you wish to do anything other than watch a movie on a long flight. I intend on using mine for blogging purposes, and I may just download a few games for fun. If you have any fun game recommendations, I’d love to hear them!
  • I, personally, love the feel of having a book in my hand and, therefore, don’t download them onto my iPad. I’m still working on the Outlander series as I’ve mentioned in a number of previous posts, and I’m hoping to be on the 5th book by the time I leave. In fact, I may even bring a back up book between my layover and our train rides during our vacation.
  • Hand Sanitizer is huge for me on a plane. I know it makes me sound like a germaphobe, but I’m always hearing about people being sick after flights. Plus, you never really know how often they clean your area. Piggybacking off of the hand sanitizer, hand lotion is also necessary with how dry the air can get on a plane.
  • Whether or not I’m on a plane, I always have gum or mints on me. On long flights when I don’t have the opportunity to brush my teeth after meals or snacks, it’s nice to freshen up even the least bit with a piece. I also like to chew gum while taking off so my ears don’t pop – this may be an old wives’ tale, but I will never take off without it!
  • Earbuds- to block out screaming children, your snoring neighbor, or to simply listen to music or watch a movie. I will never ever board a plane without mine.
  • I tend to be a bit of a clumsy person so I always have a Tide To Go Pen on me to prevent stains.
  • Chapstick is my best friend – I won’t leave the house without it, let alone the country. My go-to since middle school is Burt’s Bees Original.
  • A new addition to my travel bag is roll-on perfume to freshen up before I land. For this trip, I chose the fragrance Burberry Brit Sheer – it’s a very light, floral, borderline fruity scent.

Not pictured above, but are also super helpful:

  • Advil and/or Dramamine
  • Cell phone (although that’s a given)
  • Chargers
  • Shawl/blanket scarf in case it gets chilly on your flight

What are some of your favorite travel essentials? Also, if you have any tips for me, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!!

-K.

Do’s and Don’ts: Professional Networking Events 


This month I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a few professional networking events, and, fun fact, this was my first professional networking experience outside of a college career fair. All this time, I believed that etiquette was simply common sense; however, there’s always that person that manages to slip up and talk about something wildly inappropriate for such an event.

Being a former sorority woman, I learned the vast majority of my networking skills from recruitment, and I found it helpful to read a few articles prior to the event. While it isn’t necessary to read articles upon articles about how to act and what to discuss at the event, it doesn’t hurt to prepare beforehand. Much of the advice in the articles is common sense, but there are always those people that need to hear it more than once.

Here are my do’s and don’ts for professional networking events.

Do:

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare – you’ll need a brief elevator speech to explain yourself and what you do; ex. “Hello my name is ________ , I’m the (state your position) at (place of work). (Briefly explain what your company does)”. You also may want to research on the company hosting the event or the companies attending so that you can carry on conversation.
  • Dress for success – try on your outfit the night before just to make sure everything fits properly and looks appropriate.
  • Get an ample amount of sleep the night before, especially if it’s a particularly long event, such as sorority recruitment, as you don’t want to be rude by spacing out or nodding off at times.

 

Don’t:

  • Talk about the three b’s – boys, booze, or beliefs – this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Portray a negative attitude – even if the topic of conversation is something you don’t particularly care for; try to politely steer the conversation in a different direction.
  • Name drop – it’s incredibly rude

What rule of thumb do you stick to at professional networking events?

– K.