Three Ways to Balance a 9-5 Job

Let me start off this post by saying that I 100 percent do not have it all figured out. To be quite honest, I don’t really have anything figured out and that’s totally fine. But, when I graduated from college, I knew that the transition from college life to “real life” would be a tough one. All of a sudden, I went from having classes 2-3 times a week to working 5 days a week plus a commute—not fun. Not to mention, summer is no longer something to necessarily look forward to because you don’t get 3 months off. While I’m thankful that I have a job, saying that the transition was easy would be lie. My mom can vouch for me that I cried a lot my first month of working a 9-5 job because I was tired, overwhelmed, and I’m not someone who likes change (but then again, I literally cry about everything). However, I have found a few things that have made the transition easier and a few things that make working all day a bit easier to manage.

 

1) things to look forward to

This point is so important. In college, chances are you had things to look forward to: having a long weekend, spending time with your friends, college parties (if you were into that sort of thing), and all of the school breaks. Once you start working, a lot of the time your college friends move away and the school breaks disappear. I have found it helpful to have things each week to look forward to that aren’t related to work. Whether that’s a trip to see my boyfriend in Texas, a “date” night with my mom or dad, a shopping spree with my grandma, or simply just knowing that the weather will be nice and I will be able to talk a stroll around town, these are all activities that I look forward to. Regardless of what you’re doing, it’s super important to have things to look forward to to get you through the long work week.

As someone who is an introvert and finds it difficult to make friends, I can completely understand if you’re sitting there reading this and thinking, “Okay, but I don’t have anyone to do anything with.” And that’s totally fine and normal. For me, I decided to sign up for a paint class one day (of course, my mom went with me) and I also just recently purchased a yoga membership package for CorePower. Even though I don’t know any of the people who are in the yoga class(es) with me, it still helps me get out of the house, interact with others, and have something to look forward to during the week.

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2) meal prepping

Unless you work in boujee corporate America (and congrats to you if you do!), then chances are you don’t have a fabulous cafeteria like the one in The Devil Wears Prada and have to either buy your lunch daily or pack a lunch. Personally, I don’t buy lunch because not only is it a waste of money, but you can make much healthier options when you pack it yourself!

Since I’m vegan (and these options can be great even if you’re not vegan or are just trying to eat more plant-based), I like to prep veggies and a protein at the beginning of the week. Since I live at home, I like to roast a big sheet of veggies—like brussel sprouts, broccoli, onion, Japanese sweet potatoes, etc.—to be shared with my family and also pre-wash and put into Tupperware canned beans or lentils/quinoa for the week. Some of my favorite things to bring with me to work are a salad topped with the roasted vegetables and protein, a date stuffed with nut butter for a snack, a yogurt parfait made with dairy-free yogurt, berries, and coconut, and occasionally a soup or a pre-packed vegan meal like these cauliflower rice meals from Kitchen & Love.

My favorite part of meal prepping is how easy it is to great ready for the next work day. The night before going to work, I pack my lunch with all of the goodies that I pre-made. This helps me relax more because I can sleep in an extra half hour in the morning, and I’m not worrying about not having something healthy to eat at work.

Need some vegan meal inspiration? Follow my board on Pinterest! Don’t know what to use to pack? Here are some of my sustainable favorite!

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3) planning your day

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an organizational freak—yes a freak. When I was in school, I got so excited about buying a new planner at the beginning of the school year. I’m also someone who prefers writing down my to-do lists with pen and paper over typing them out. But I find that planning my day—even week—allows me to be more organized and relaxed. At the beginning of each week, I’ll write out a to-do list of everything that I want/need to accomplish that week at work. In the past, I have been found to stress and get everything that I need to get done for the week in one day. Yes, you read that right, I would try to get everything done for the week in one day, completely forgetting that I had four more days ahead of me to get stuff done. Writing down my to-do list allows me to see exactly what I need to do. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your to-do list once you complete it!

In addition to planning out my work week, I also like planning out my days/weeks for personal activities. Similarly to how important it is to have something to look forward to—like I mentioned above—planning your personal schedule can help keep you accountable to doing fun things and taking some time for yourself. For example, I always plan to have a Brunette with a Blog post go live on Saturday’s. This keeps me accountable to use some of my free time during the week to write a blog post. Another thing that I plan during the week is my workouts. Since joining CorePower, I have been planning out my yoga classes for the week. Personally, I like doing yoga on Monday’s to start my week off right and I know that my studio location offers Hot Power Flow (my class of choice) Monday nights at a time that’s convenient to my schedule. I personally don’t have trouble making sure that I workout during the week, but I am someone that struggles with feeling rushed for no apparent reason. Therefore, I love planning out what my day is going to look like in terms of times (ex: from 6:45am-7:45am I have my commute to work, from 8am-3pm I am at work, from 3pm-4pm I commute home from work, from 4pm-5pm I finish working from home, from 5pm-6:30pm I go to the gym, and so on). I find this very helpful in calming myself down, especially when I feel like I have no time in the day to do the things I enjoy doing.

Here, here, and here are a few of my favorite planners at the moment.

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Do you work full-time? If so, what are some of your tips and tricks for managing your days? Let me know in the comments below!

Easy Ways to be Sustainable | Earth Week 2019

Woohoo! Happy Earth Week, friends! I can honestly say that I’ve never been as excited for an Earth Week as I am this year. In the past year or so, I’ve tried to make all aspects of my life more Earth-friendly. Since doing so, I feel like I’ve nailed down a few (super simple) ways to be sustainable along with a few inexpensive products that I’ve been using on a daily basis.


grocery store plastic bags

Nothing—and I mean nothing—irritates me more at a grocery store than when the baggers put one item per plastic bag. What a waste! When I was living downtown Chicago, I was super good about bringing my own reusable bags from home with me whenever I went shopping—they’re easier to carry than plastic bags, the City of Chicago charges a “bag tax”, and it’s more sustainable. However, once I moved back home where “bag tax” is no longer a thing and I have a car to take me to-and-from the store, I suddenly stopped using my reusable bags.

Was I proud of myself. Definitely not. So, I decided that I would put a few reusable canvas bags into my car so that I wouldn’t have an excuse of why I wasn’t using one! Since then, I’ve been bringing my bags with me whenever I go to the store. I can honestly say that I’ve probably saved around 30 bags in that timeframe.

Fun fact: Almost every grocery store nowadays sells reusable bags for purchase for no more than 99 cents a bag—what a steal! Plus, if you ever go to any sort of event chances are you have a few reusable bags laying around your house (my family has TONS!).


grocery store produce bags

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we can blame grocery stores for all of our plastic problems. Just kidding, but like, not really. Another grocery store pet peeve of mine are those ridiculous produce bags. If you’re like most people in the world, then you probably wash the produce before you eat it. Which is why using plastic produce bags makes absolutely no sense to me. If you’re someone who washes your fruits/vegetables before you use them, then there should be no fear of the items being dirty by just tossing them into your shopping cart/basket if you’re going to wash them anyways.

I know that there are companies out there that sell reusable produce bags like Ever Eco, Flip & Tumble, and Purifyou. While I personally have not used these before, they’re a great option if you’re someone who is still fearful of just putting your produce (naked) in the cart.

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STASHER BAGS

Yes, I jumped on the Stasher Bag bandwagon. Ever since @shutthekaleup on Instagram featured Stasher’s on her feed, I had been wanting to purchase some. However, at $12/bag I couldn’t justify spending that much as someone who, in college, rarely packed a lunch (since I had time to fix meals at my apartment). But since graduating and now working a full-time job, I pack my lunch and snacks everyday. I knew that I would be wanting to bring fruit, chopped veggies, trail mix, etc. with me to work and I didn’t want to have to use plastic baggies. So instead of being unsustainable, I decided to take out my wallet and invest in a Stasher Bag. I have to say, it was one of the best sustainable decisions I have ever made! I use my Stasher Bag daily to hold my snacks and other food items. Not only do they minimize my use of plastic, but they’re super easy to clean as they’re machine washable and easy to get inside of with a washcloth or a bottle brush.

Stasher Bag Hack: Stand your bag up inside of your car’s cupholder, stick a fork in it, and you’ve got yourself a super clever—if I do say so myself—snacking opportunity!

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you can buy stasher bag here, here, and here


bee’s wrap

When my sister gifted me with Bee’s Wrap for Christmas 2-years-ago, I truthfully didn’t know when I was going to use it. But a day later, I had used all 4 sheets! Bee’s Wrap is another great way to decrease your plastic usage—cling wrap, cellophane wrap, I’m looking at you! Bee’s Wrap is a waste-free alternative to food storage. I’ve used it to cover half-eaten apples, yogurt containers, leftovers, and even to hold celery sticks for snacks on-the-go.

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you can buy bee’s wrap here, here, and here


What ways do you try to live more sustainably? Any product recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!

Books You Need to Read this Summer

My love for reading has fluctuated over the years. When I was younger, I despised the reading log calendars that we were forced to fill out merely to win tickets to see the Kane County Cougars. As I got older, I enjoyed reading quirky romance novels and teen reads like The Clique, the Princess Diaries series, Camp Confidential (if you know of this series, you’re a REAL one), and of course, Twilight. But since being in college the last four years of my life, I rarely had time to sit down and read a novel. Don’t get me wrong—I wanted to. But balancing school, and internship, and somewhat of a social life didn’t leave much room for just-for-fun reading. Since graduating, I have been attempting to make an effort to read at least one novel every two months. Normally, I can fly through a book in a matter of hours, but since my time is limited I have been sticking to reading a chapter of a book each night.

There’s nothing worse than dedicating a half hour or so to reading each night, then finding out a few chapters in that the book you decided to venture into actually sucks. Trust me, I’ve been there. Since summer is slowly (but surely) approaching, I decided to put together this blog post of the FOUR books you need to read as the weather turns warmer and vacation season approaches.

Here are my top three reasons why you need to reach these books:
1) I’ve already read them all and I can vouch that they’re actually good reads.
2) They’re the perfect combination of light-heartedness + good writing.
3) They’re all under 450 pages. Ideal for when you don’t have a lot of time, yet want to finish a whole book!


One Day in December, by Josie Silver

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I’m aware that it’s not December. I’m also aware that if you live anywhere it snows that the last thing you want to do is think about December. However, this book is at the top of my list because it was just that good. While I’m not going to do a whole book review on this post (let me know in the comments below if you’d enjoy reading detailed book reviews), I do have a few things to say about this novel and why you need to pick it up from your local library/book store ASAP.

When I find books to read, I often browse the “popular reads” section of my library because looking through the normal fiction shelves is way too overwhelming for someone as picky as I am when it comes to books. I decided to pick up One Day in December because I really loved the cover art…and I’m a sucker for eye-catching book covers. The front of the book displayed a paint-like winter scenery that couldn’t be ignored. After snatching it off the shelve and reading the back cover, I decided that this would be the book I was going to read.

The plot revolves around two best friends in London, an undercover love triangle, and a storyline about friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness. Sure, this sounds dramatic, but I can assure that you won’t be disappointed.


When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger

If you’re not a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, then who even are you? Just kidding. But no really, it was about time that Lauren Weisberger made a spinoff of her popular fashion industry novel. And it’s safe to say that if Hollywood doesn’t create a movie version of this book that I will be thoroughly disappointed. However, I knew that I had to read this book because I have seen The Devil Wear Prada movie at least 10 times—not exaggerating. I’m always down for a romantic comedy—on-screen, in-print, or otherwise—and after reading the back cover of When Life Gives You Lululemons, I decided that I would give it a try.

Unlike some books that drag the first few chapters, Weisberger wasted no time diving right into the plot and developing the characters. If you remember from The Devil Wear Prada, Miranda Priestly had an assistant before Andy (Anne Hathaway) came into the picture: Emily. Well, well, well, Emily makes her return in When Life Gives You Lululemons, as this book revolves around her and her life after Runway.

This spinoff novel is full of drama, romance, humor, and all of the lighthearted goodness that makes it the perfect summertime weekend read. And just for reference, the book isn’t about Lululemon.

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To All The Boys I've Loved Before Trilogy, by Jenny Han

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Not to toot my own horn, but I’m definitely a trendsetter. I remember reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before a few years ago before it ever became popular. I’ve been a huge fan of Jenny Han ever since reading her The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy (If you haven’t read this series yet, you are missing out!), and as soon as I got wind that she was releasing a new series of YA romance novels, I knew I had to check them out.

If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy young adult reads…then who even are you? Just kidding. But seriously, Jenny Han has a way of writing her novels that makes them sound mature (but not too mature for a romance novel, if you know what I mean), yet still enjoyable and fun to read.

I don’t want to ruin too much of this book for you, but here’s a little rundown of the premise. Girl in high school isn’t super popular, girl in high school writes letters to all of the boys whom she thinks never notices her, said letters get mailed to all of the boys, the boys find out, the rest of the story is a hot mess—to say the least.

As an added treat, Netflix came out with the movie version of the first novel in the series (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and the second movie is currently in the works. But, do yourself a favor and read the book before you watch the movie, I promise you’ll love every second of it!


What book recommendations do you have? I’m always on the hunt for a captivating read (romance, comedy, murder mystery, or otherwise), so let me know in the comments below!