How to Drink More Water

Drinking a lot of water always does me a ton of good. It makes me feel better, makes weight loss easier, makes me less hungry, and helps my skin. However, sometimes it can be tough to force yourself to get down those eight cups a day (or more!). After all, we are all so busy and sometimes, I am guilty of going through the whole day without even finishing one cup. That is despicable and definitely not good for my body!

Since I am on this diet and am making a conscious effort to be healthier and lose weight, I have been really working on upping my water intake. It has gotten easier and easier the more I keep at it. Here are my best tips to create the habit of drinking tons of water:

-Get a cute cup! – Having a fun water cup makes it more fun! I love how many options there are out there for reusable tumblers that are perfect to have at work and on hand in my apartment. I featured some of my favorites here:

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Kate Spade Tumbler | Lilly Pulitzer Tumbler | Slant Collections Tumbler | Tervis Tumbler Water Bottle

-Keep a tally – I try to mark down on a post-it note every day at my desk how many cups of water I am drinking. That way, I can hold myself accountable to how much I am actually taking in throughout the day and push myself to drink more if I am lagging behind after lunch time.

-Set reminders – as silly as it sounds, it is worth reminding yourself throughout the day to keep sipping that H2O. Setting a little Outlook calendar reminder can be very helpful amidst a busy day where you would typically forget to hydrate yourself.

-Set goals and rewards – every day at work, I set a goal that I will drink three full cups of water before I have my daily coffee. Since I really want that java, it forces me to fill my cup three times before I can have the “reward” I set for myself. Since my “cup” fits about two actual cups of water, that means I am holding myself accountable to drinking at least six before I have my daily coffee, which is a good start for the day.

What are your best tips for forcing yourself to stay hydrated?

Easy Chicken Recipes

My boyfriend and I have been on a strict diet the past month, and with that we have cooked a lot of meals. I’m so happy that we’ve been on a healthier lifestyle and cook much more often than we were. Some nights, though, it can be challenging to come home from work and think of cooking a whole big meal. But, cooking healthy does not have to be complicated!

That being said, I’ve cooked a lot of chicken over the past month. I am pretty picky when it comes to what meats and proteins I will eat, so chicken is a pretty standard choice. While cooking healthy to fit our dietary restrictions had seemed like a daunting tasks, I have found (and concocted) tons of easy recipes that have turned out great. Here are a few that were a hit:

-Greek chicken – the other night I made Greek chicken for dinner and it turned out great. I marinated the chicken in a greek dressing during the day and then cooked in in a pan with artichokes, tomatoes, red onions, and spinach. Before serving, I added pitted greek olives. It was very simple and yummy!

-Cauliflower fried rice – I think this is one of the yummies things I’ve made since being on this diet! Luckily, Trader Joe’s sells the pre-riced cauliflower, so I paired that with frozen veggies, scrambled eggs, and chicken. I added a tiny bit of sesame oil for extra flavor, and it was really delicious. And the best part was, it was quick and easy – making it a perfect weeknight meal. I didn’t follow a recipe, but this one from Little Bits Of is great.

-Cajun chicken – we have really yummy cajun seasoning that I bought at Whole Foods, so one night (when I was obviously feeling particularly lazy), I just seasoned some chicken with that and pepper, popped it in the oven, steamed some veggies on the side, and served the chicken like that. It tasted good and would be really good on top of a salad! If you are on a diet with less restrictions, this cajun chicken with rice from Kevin and Amanda looks amazing!

-Buffalo chicken strips – the other night, I wanted something a little spicier, so I made buffalo chicken strips. All I did was use chicken tenderloins, dip them in Frank’s Red Hot, and then breaded them in almond flour. Then, I cooked them on the stove in a pan lightly sprayed with avocado oil. I steamed broccoli to have on the side, and the whole meal was great! This is another dish that would have been great on a salad (maybe with leftovers for lunch!) with carrots, celery, and blue cheese if you’re not dairy free.

Book Update…

I haven’t posted about the last few books I read, so I wanted to do an update. I haven’t read as much as I was in the past few weeks, but I did read a few books:

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Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline – I wait for Lisa Scottoline’s emotional thriller to come out ALL YEAR because she has written some truly amazing stories (some of my favorites: Keep Quiet, Don’t Go, Think Twice, Come Home). My mom and I read this book at the same time, and funnily enough we had basically the same opinion of it: we did not love it. I was a little disappointed, because I was really excited about the storyline. The book was about a woman who used a sperm donor to get pregnant, then believes that the donor she chose is a serial killer after seeing the photo of an arrested man on TV. I don’t want to give too much away…but sadly I was not too enthralled by this book.

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The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – this was a short book but I thought it was a really cute story. I liked it a lot. It is about a widowed man who’s life gets off track after the death of his wife. The story does have some twists and turns, and it was pretty entertaining. I would recommend it if you’re looking for something on the quick and/or lighter side.

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The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield – I had this book on hold at the library and was really excited when it became available. One of my friends highly recommended it, and I thought it was a good read. There were times where I felt like there were some lulls in the storyline, but it centered around a very interesting little town and a beloved softball team. The characters in the book were great, especially the little boy. I would recommend this – I think it’s a good beach read!

I am currently reading The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. I am enjoying it so far – I’ll be sure to update once I’m done!

Gifts for Grads

Graduation season is here, and it is always fun to pick out a gift for someone who is moving on to the next chapter of their lives. My sister is graduating college in just a few weeks and I can’t believe it! I feel like she just started college and now she is about to move on to her next step.

There are lots of great ideas out there for useful, sentimental, and nice grad gifts. Here are some of my favorite picks, big and small:

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-Gift card – gift cards are always a good idea. Whether you get your grad a massage gift card to unwind after finals and before they enter the workforce or even just a AmEx gift card so they have some spending money, this is a no brainer.

-Jewelry – I love these Dogeared necklaces because they have a special meaning to them. The “Accomplish Magnificent Things” one is perfect for a graduate!

-FitBit – after college is the perfect time to get fit (after all that beer and late night eating!), and a FitBit provides great motivation to do so. I have one and love it and my sister just got one and is loving hers too!

-Travel accessories – for a graduate with wanderlust, travel accessories are a great idea. Passport covers, luggage tags, cosmetic cases, or even a jewelry roll are all really useful.

-Cookbooks – for grads that are headed into their own apartment for the first time, a cookbook could be very useful. Pairing it with some kitchen accessories is a great idea, too. I love the Skinnytaste cookbook.

A nice notebook – I love having a nice notebook to bring into meetings at work. It adds a professional touch. For someone going into their first job, this is a thoughtful gift. I love the Graphic Image ones because they can be personalized and refilled!

A work bag – when I graduated college, my boyfriend’s parents gave me a really nice sleek and professional work bag. A black tote is always a good choice to keep your grad looking professional and fashionable at the same time.

Favorite City Living Apps

Now that I’ve lived in a city for almost nine months, I’ve learned there are certain things that I cannot live without. Before I moved, I was very nervous about the transition from the suburbs to a big city that I was unfamiliar with. Thankfully, it turned out to be surprisingly easy! Some of that simplicity is attributed to the apps on my phone that make city living much easier. Here are my favorite picks:

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Google Maps – I mean, obviously. I used this a lot in the suburbs too, but I use it much differently here. Especially when I first moved, I used it to find my way almost anywhere. I love being able to walk places, and Google Maps makes it so simple. I really don’t know how people moved to new cities before this app existed. Blows my mind. I also used this app a lot when I first moved here to understand what trains to take where.

Uber – for places that are too far to walk and I don’t feel like taking the train, Uber is the perfect solution. I use it a good amount and find it to be quick and reliable. I can get an Uber so easily here that when I am in more suburban areas I can’t believe how long it takes to get an Uber, if any are available at all.

Transit Stop – this is a great app that helps track the public transit system. It allows you to see when the next train will be coming, which is super helpful.

Door Dash – when I lived in the suburbs, the takeout options were pretty limited. Pizza or Chinese? With Door Dash, I can get almost anything delivered. It’s almost dangerous! From the Cheesecake Factory to RPM Italian, literally anything you want to eat can be brought directly to you if you don’t feel like leaving your apartment.

Shyp – this app is only available in certain cities, but it is SO convenient. Around Christmas, I had a ton of gifts to ship home to Connecticut. I had huge boxes that I could not possibly carry to the UPS store myself. I was looking up my best options to get them picked up from my apartment and found Shyp. It had great reviews so I

Healthy (and yummy!) Lunch Ideas

My boyfriend and I are on a month long diet with a lot of restrictions to it. The first week, we brought salad for lunch…every. Single. Day. It got very…monotonous. We decided we needed to get more creative so that we could enjoy the diet a little bit more. We actually came up with a bunch of great options! I wanted to share my favorites here:

Avocado egg salad – I was surprised at how delicious this was! It’s so much healthier than regular egg salad because you use avocado in place of mayonnaise. I added pepper and hot sauce to it and it was really yummy.

-Greek chicken salad – I kind of just made this recipe up and seasoned some chicken and cooked it on the stove, chopped up red onions, added greek olives, and mixed it all up. It turned out pretty well! If you are not dairy free, I would add some feta cheese to make it even better!

-Chicken, Basil, and Tomatoes – this is something else I just threw together. We cooked chicken seasoned with dried basil on the stove and mixed it up with basil and chopped tomatoes. To make it even better, next time I would add onions and if I wasn’t doing dairy free – fresh mozzarella. I saw a recipe for a quinoa caprese salad that looks so good that I would love to try!

-Broccoli, Chicken, and Roasted Garlic – I made this recipe up as well and just hoped for the best. It turned out pretty great. I roasted garlic in the oven and then cooked broccoli for about ten minutes so it would be really soft. I mixed it in with seasoned chicken and that was it. Easy! Next time, to give it more flavor, I would probably add more pepper or even red pepper flakes.

-Cucumber salad – if I feel like going meatless, this is a great option. I just chop up seedless cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and avocado and top it off with red wine vinegar. Yum!

Shopping Steals

So I am a BIG shopper, and I especially love shopping at Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods. I have found so much great stuff there and it’s so addicting to go in and just see what you’ll find. That’s half the fun!

I love buying home goods at these stores. They usually have a great selection and it is definitely my go-to for certain household items.

I took a look around my apartment at some of my recent Marshall’s home purchases and wrote out some of the best items to find there:

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Candles – I buy tons of candles at these stores. They always have great brands like Yankee Candle, Tommy Bahama, or even Ralph Lauren. I recently have been loving DW Home candles. I got one at Marshall’s a few months ago and it smells so good that I went back and bough another! I got a candle regularly priced at $12 for $5.99. What a great deal!

Stationery and paper goods – I buy a ton of paper goods and stationery at these stores. They have so many cute wrapping paper patterns and gift bags and they always have lots of the cute scalloped tissue paper that I love! I also have bought a bunch of greeting cards there lately. A few weeks ago, there were so many of these Smudge Ink greeting cards there. They are so cute and sassy! Regularly priced at $4.50, I snagged them at just $1.99 each!

Kitchen odds and ends – I buy a lot of stuff for my kitchen at Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. I always find great items there…mostly things I didn’t even know I was looking for! Recently I found adorable Kate Spade dishtowels there for only $7.99. My mom also got me a spiralizer from there which works perfectly and is such a great size.

Tupperware – speaking of kitchen items, tupperware is a great item to look for and buy from Marshall’s or HomeGoods. I have gotten so many different sized and functioning tupperware from there! Whether it’s made for salads or soups, they are MUCH cheaper there than somewhere like Bed Bath and Beyond. At Marshall’s, I can always find the Sistema containers there and I love them. I bought this one there for $3.99 when they are regularly priced $7.99

Sheets and bedding – These stores are a great place to buy bedding items. I found a Max Studio summer quilt that I love and it’s also the perfect place to find sheets. Definitely much less expensive than going to Macy’s or Bed and Bath!

Books Last Week…

I read a couple of books last week that I wanted to share on here. I have been reading so much lately, which I love! There are so many great books coming out this summer that I can’t wait to get my hands on…but there are also so many that I’m dying to read out right now. Also…last week I learned how to borrow e-books from the library which I am SUPER excited about.

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Anyways…the first book I read last week was As Close to Us As Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner. I was really excited about this book but unfortunately did not love it. I just felt like it was anti-climatic. And…now, a week later, I don’t even really remember much about it. I did really like the characters but wish that the plot had been more interesting.

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The next book I read was The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain. I had blogged after my vacation about another Diane Chamberlain book I read, and if even possible I think I liked this one even more. There were a bunch of twists in this one and it was absolutely NOT a predictable book – which I love. I really loved the characters in this book and got very into the story.

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Finally, I just finished The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I can’t believe it took me this long to read this book! I thought it was great. This was another book where the plot twists and turns took me by major surprise. I’m not sure what I was expecting out of this story – but it definitely was far from my expectations and far exceeded them. If you haven’t read this, then I would definitely recommend it. Now I am dying to read What Alice Forgot because I heard that is just as good!

Now I am reading Lisa Scottoline’s newest emotional thriller, Most Wanted. I will let you know how it is!

How to be a Good Colleague

It’s crazy to think how much of our lives we spend at work. But, let’s face it, we’re there more than we’re not. That means that the people that we work with are the ones we are around the majority of our waking hours.

Because so much of my time is spent at work, it is very important to me that the people I surround myself with people that I like being with. I don’t want to spend all day, Monday through Friday, feeling miserable, because I know that would just translate into my personal life as well.

Everyone works in stressful situations – no matter what industry you work in – and it can be tough to constantly feel supported, understood, and all around happy in your job. With that, it is also very important to me that I am a good colleague to the people that I work with and contribute to a positive work environment for them. Here are my favorite ways to be a good colleague:

-Encourage personal development – one of the things that I like about my job now is that at the beginning of the year, when my team was setting our goals, we all talked about what things we want to work on outside of work so that we could encourage each other to do so. Having even a small stake in your colleague’s personal lives and showing that you care about them outside of work can have a huge effect.

-Recognition – in order to have a strong relationship with the people you work with, I think that it is important to give them recognition for a myriad of things. Whether you are recognizing the fact that they did a good job, acknowledging a birthday or special event, or simply thanking them for continued hard work – it always make people feel good to know that their efforts are appreciated and recognized.

-Offer to (and be willing to) help – when you’re part of a team, it’s important to be willing to hep wherever you can. Before I leave work every day, I make sure to ask my teammates if there is anything I can help with. Working with people and being supportive and helpful means not minding do things that might not be part of your ‘job description’ but might be helpful to someone who needs it. And, sometimes – just offering to help means the most to someone who has had a long day.

-Be positive! – simply being a smiling face and having a positive outlook and attitude can make a world of difference at work for yourself and those around you. There is nothing that I find more draining than being around people all day that seem perpetually stressed out and negative. Even when work gets stressful, I strive to be personal and optimistic in order to keep the energy around me positive. I find that doing that allows me to have better interactions and be all-around happier at work.

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Also…speaking of offices…check out these to-die for home offices featured on One Kings Lane.

Spring Shoes

Although the weather might not have caught up yet, it is officially spring. That means that it is time to start switching over our wardrobes from chunky sweaters and neutral colored scarves to bright hues and floral dresses. I, personally, much prefer dressing for the warm weather,

While we are waiting for the weather to remember that it is time to warm up, one of the easiest (and most fun!) things to begin to transition is our shoes. I can’t believe how many adorable flats, loafers, and sneakers there are in fun spring colors. I love how there are so many suede options, too, as that helps make the transition even more seamless. Colorful shoes are a great way to show your spring spirit while not ending up freezing cold if it’s still chilly out. They’re also a great way to spice up your work outfits!

Here are some of my current favorite picks:

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Cole Haan Weekenders | Sam Edelman Flats | J. Crew Factory Flats | Gap Espadrilles | Sole Society Sneakers | Shoes of Prey Flats | Salvatore Ferragamo Flats