Purely Positivitea: April 2016

What's In My Carry On Bag!

The countdown is over and today is the day! I'm going to Maui

Although I absolutely love to travel and experience new places, the whole "getting there" part is definitely not my favorite. I do everything in my power to make myself as comfortable as possible, and with an 11 hour flight time ahead of me, deciding what to bring with me was not something to take lightly!  

Since I've already shared my beach vacation must haves, I thought it was only right to give ya the rundown what I have going on in my carry on bag! ;)

»Fuzzy Socks
»Neck Pillow
»Sleep Mask


»Granola Bars
»Fruit Leathers

{little essentials}
»Hand Sanitizer

»Sun Glasses
»Selfie Stick

You're probably wondering how I fit all of this stuff LOL I carry a backpack instead of a cute tote so I have everything I could want or need. Anyway, I'm writing this as I wait at the gate and I'm beyond PUMPED to get this trip started! Updates and pictures to come, I promise! 

In the mean time, if you've been to Hawaii and you have any suggestions of places to see, things to do, or restaurants to eat at, leave me a comment! 

Beach Vacation Travel Essentials

T minus 6 days, 23 hours, and 21 minutes until HAWAII!!! Not that I've been keeping track or anything ;)

We will be heading to the island of Maui and I could not be more excited! Going to Hawaii has been a dream of mine for a while and I can't believe that it's finally happening. I have been counting down for three months and the closer we get to leaving, the more I think about it and the less I can focus on anything else at all!

I dedicated last weekend to packing and I realized that there are a few things I simply cannot do without on any beach vacation. Believe it or not, I actually had a nightmare involving forgetting my favorite sunglasses at home a few nights ago. Although you don't need much to be a full-time beach bum, these items are sure to make the  G O O D life that much more blissful. 

*If you want anything that I mention for yourself, I've linked where you can find it or something similar with an "x." I'm not an affiliate or connected in any way to the retailers, but I love finding good deals & I'm all for helping a fellow shopaholic out! 
    1. {Sunglasses} These are an ABSOLUTE MUST! My current go-to's are my Ray Ban Erika shades. Even though round sunglasses usually don't fit my face shape, I have a weird thing for them. These are round enough for me to love them, but not too round for my face. (x)

    2. {Cover Up} Lightweight and easy to get on/off, a cover up makes for a convenient way for you to get comfortable if it gets a little breezy or if you want to go grab a bite. I like to wear kimonos and I happen to have a cute fringed one just like the one pictured. I recently switched it up and added a white tunic cover up to the mix too! (x)

    3. {Beach Bag} Some people prefer a beach tote, but I love my cross body! It keeps my hands free to take photos and explore at any given moment. There's also plenty of space for sun screen, a book, and other essentials. (x)

    4. {Floppy Sun Hat} Full disclosure, I kind of have a big head LOL One size certainly does not fit all, but I've had luck at Old Navy and Forever 21 since they carry different sizes. Not only does a sun hat keep my face cool, it's also the perfect source of shade if I need a little nap of the beach! (x)

    5. {Sun Block} Sun safety is so important for people of all ages and all skin tones! I swear by Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock. It's a little pricey for the amount you get, but so worth it. Some of the other sun blocks I've tried have made me feel greasy, smelled strong, or came right off in the water (despite "waterproof" claims). Neutrogena Sunblock goes on light, absorbs quickly, smells pleasant, and provides amazing protection, even in the water. (x)

    6. {Bikini(s)} I don't know about you, but I love having lots of swimsuit options! I tend to get pieces that can be easily mixed and matched and ASOS is my secret weapon! If you go to the sale section, check off your size (so you're not heartbroken when you love something and they don't have it in your size <-- trust me, speaking from experience haha), then sort it low to high and BAM; hundreds of super cheap bikini options at your disposal! I've gotten bottoms for as little as $3 and tops at $6 this way! (x)

    7. {Camera} I love taking pictures on vacation! I don't own a GoPro, but one of Alex's friends lets us borrow one of his on every trip we go on! It's great for pictures in the water and capturing adventures. Other than that, I use my phone for pictures. (x)

    8. {Head Phones} I love listening to music and podcasts, so having my headphones handy is a must! (x)

    9. {A Good Book} ...or two! I almost never have time to read in my day to day life, so I definetly binge read when I go on trips. This time around, I'll be bringing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I'm sure you notice the medical theme, I'm just a little (okay, ALOT) excited about starting medical school soon. (x,x)

    10. {No Fuss Flip Flops} For me, some plain, cheap rubber flip flops that I don't care about ruining are a must for beach vacations. It doesn't matter if they get wet or sandy, but they get me from point A to point B without burning my feet! (x)

      What are your must-haves on a beach vacation?

      #MealPrepSunday 4/10/2016

      Every Sunday, I spend a couple of hours in the kitchen prepping my meals for the week. #MealPrepMonday definitely sounds sooooo much catchier, but alas I only have time on Sundays! 

      As I mentioned, I work two jobs, so on most days I am out of the apartment by 8:30a.m. and I don't get back until 9:00 p.m. (even later if I go to the gym)! I also go straight from one job to the other without stopping at home on most days. Prepping my meals allows me to eat on the go without spending a ton of money or indulging in less-than-good-for-you options.

      It is such a habit at this point, but it's one that's worth keeping! While I do enjoy the time in the kitchen, it's a necessity because my entire week is rendered a disorganized mess if I don't do take the time out to do it. Trust me, I'm speaking from experience here 0__o *sighs* The ONE TIME I was too lazy to meal prep a few months ago, I paid for it the whole time and it was miserable. I was either buying food or scrambling to have dinner late at night. Needless to say, I haven't skipped a Sunday since then! 

      This #MealPrepSunday post will be the first of a series where I share what I've made for the week. I don't anticipate posting every single Sunday, but you can expect to see a post every few weeks!

      Breakfast: Green smoothie made with spinach, frozen raspberries, banana, almond milk, greek yogurt, chia seeds, milled flax seeds, and matcha green tea powder! 

      Lunch: Spinach and baby lettuce salad with blackened chicken, goat cheese, thinly sliced pear, pecans, and craisins! I'll have it with a little balsalmic vinaigrette. 

      Dinner: Greek Chicken Lettuce Wrap "Gyros" with veggie toppings and Trader Joe's tzatziki. This little plate is enough for 3 wraps! 

      You should know that my meal prep photos aren't your typical pretty pictures of rows of tupperware because I have a roommate and there is NO WAY I'd be able to fit it all in our fridge. I make big batches of everything, then package them out for each day the night before. I also pack snacks and make a huge pitcher of unsweetened green tea so I stay away from juice.

      Anyway, that's all for now! Do you meal prep? What are some of your go-to meals!? I would love to know!

      Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp

      Since you're getting to know me, you should know that I LOVE COOKING!

       It became a hobby of mine when I was in college because it was one of the few study "breaks" that forced me to truly take a break. If I was catching up on a TV show, I could multitask and scroll my class notes on my laptop. Now, try imagining what it would be like to hold a laptop with one hand and sauté some vegetables with the other......not very realistic, amiriteeee!? Cooking was a special time because I could jam to some music, take a mental breather, and end up with something delicious at the end! Even now, after college, I spend a lot of my free time trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

      Today's culinary foray is a rare detour from my usual pinterest inspiration. My coworker, Sarah, who is well aware of my avocado obsession (as is anyone within a 10 foot radius of me), suggested Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp by The Saffron Girl to me. She raved about how easy and yummy it was, but I definitely didn't need much convincing. A total prep time of 9 minutes AND avocado!? Oh yeahhhh, let's do this!

      •    •    

      • 1 whole medium avocado
      • about 2 cups medium to large shrimp, raw or uncooked frozen (defrost prior to cooking)
      • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
      • olive oil
      • coarse sea salt, to taste
      • freshly ground pepper, to taste
      • fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
      • chili powder, optional
      View the full recipe and directions at The Saffron Girl!

      •    •    

      Prep Experience: I promise you, if you can make cereal or scrambled eggs, that's all of the cooking "expertise" you need to make this. It was SO easy to put together! The only thing you have to cook on the stovetop is the shrimp. Everything else is just cutting, scooping, sprinkling, and combining! From start to finish, it truly took me 10 minutes to make, which was a nice change of pace!

      Nomming Experience: As predicted, I absolutely loved this recipe. It was creamy, packed with flavor, fresh, and so satisfying! Shout out to Sarah for bringing this tasty creation into my life!

      Verdict: Stuffed Avocado with Garlic Shrimp is definitely getting added to my repertoire of quick, weeknight recipes in the future. I was so full that I'd probably go with half an avocado along with the salad on the side next time. Both halves + the salad was pretty ambitious 0__o #foodbaby Also, I used 3 cloves of garlic instead and it was definitely enough, so that might be something to consider if you try this recipe too!


      Have you tried making this? Do you have any other avocado inspired recipe suggestions for me? Comment below! 

      From College to Real-ish Life in the Real World

      Since my first post last week, I've been grappling with what to share next. I have so much I want to write about and fill this blog with, but since I'm just starting out, it felt like I was jumping into things without giving any background at all. This post is a little long, but I'm hoping it gives you some context on where I am in life, and how things fit in moving forward!

      It's been ten months since I entered Schoelkopf Stadium to a crowd much larger than I'd ever seen at any football game with my friends and classmates by my side. The air was filled with uninterrupted cheers, fists pumped in celebration, and it was almost impossible to stop smiling. We filed into our seats, sweating in our black cap & gowns on a near 80° day. This was it, the day we'd worked towards since we arrived on campus as a bunch of obvious freshmen with our lanyards and lost looks, graduation.

       It all happened so quickly, I can't describe it as anything other than a blur of pictures, dinners, packing, ceremonies, more packing, last-minute get togethers, final nights out, and "goodbyes"/see you laters. That Monday, I got in the car and headed home not feeling any different than when I left for breaks before.

      In the months leading up to my graduation, my friends and I talked a lot about how we were ready to "grow up" and "move on to the next phase of our lives." *insert massive eye roll here* Let's just say it took months to actually sink in and we all miss college more than we'd like to admit. It was really time for me to be a "real person" (aka pay bills tbh wah) and I was supposed to adult (verb). WHAT!?

      Summer '15
      I stayed at home for the summer, feverishly working on my medical school applications as secondary after secondary came into my inbox with no signs of stopping. I had applied to 19 programs, and I never wrote so much about myself in my life. In the meantime, I was working as a medical assistant at a primary care office, and preparing for my upcoming AmeriCorps gap year experience. 

      Apartment Hunting
      For AmeriCorps, I had to relocate and let me tell you, apartment hunting WAS NOT an easy task like it was in college. Since AmeriCorps is a service experience, the living stipend is VERY limited, and I was not familiar with the surrounding areas. I tried at first (unsuccessfully) to look on craigslist. Most of the things I found fell under one of three categories:

                1. Nice & Way Out Of My Budget
                2. Sketchy & In My Budget
                3. Nice & In My Budget aka Too Good To Be True aka Scams

       I ended up getting together with another member and we started looking for one bedroom apartments where we could "flex" the living room into a bedroom. It was the only way to make both "nice" & "in my budget" work! We ended up having to use a broker (BROKER FEES SUCK), but it was worth it because we had a place to live once the program started. My room is the "flexed" living room and although not having a real door (i used heavy curtains) can be a bit of a challenge at times, it's still very homey and I love it! 

      Gap Year/Real-ish Life
      By the middle of August, it was time for me to move out and jump head first into adulting full time. I got everything set up and started my position as a Health Educator with AmeriCorps. It is an 11 month, 1,700 hour service term and I will share more specifics about the program/why I LOVE it in the near future. I also took on a second job tutoring with Huntington Learning Center to help make ends meet. 

      Although I lived in apartments in college, I still had "big red bucks," which was a debit meal plan that allowed me to buy lunch on campus. I came into this year accustomed to making myself dinner, but having to adjust to feeding myself 3 meals a day. I faithfully grocery shop and meal prep in an effort to stay healthy, organized, and financially prudent. I also had to get my own checkbook and EZ-Pass, which may sound trivial, but just using mom and dad's wasn't an option anymore! 

      I've been saying this is "Real-ish Life" because I'm in this awkward purgatory where I've graduated college, but haven't quite gotten started on my career. Even AmeriCorps is a gray area, since it's not technically a job where I'm an employee, but I'm not a volunteer either (they actually require that we use the term "member"). I also try my best to be financially independent, but I still need help from my parents at times. 

      All of that aside, I feel that I have grown and learned a lot about myself this year. Even with the responsibilities, I am actually having the time of my life! I love going to work everyday to teach and have fun with my students. Teaching is a second dream of mine, so it's great that I had the chance marry it with my passion for health and medicine and live it out this year! I've made new lifelong friends with my AmeriCorps coworkers and I'm close to New York City, so I get to see my college friends a lot too. This is such an exciting time in my life and I am thrilled to be starting medical school in a few months (real-ish life -> real life?!?)!!! It's going to be a wild ride and I can't wait to share my journey with you!