February 2nd: Morning Cup
It’s day two and a half into this snowstorm. The northeast is getting pounded with a snowstorm, and it just won’t stop. I believe we have over 30 inches of snow by this point. My work has us working remotely, which is nice since I wouldn’t be able to leave my house anyway, haha.
This morning was also an early one for me. I have recently gotten very into Animal Crossings Hew Horizon in the switch, so I woke up before work to search for a new villager for my town. It was well worth waking up early since I found a great new villager to add to my island.
It just feels like one of those days, though. Up early, not incredibly motivated, and wishing for the days past if true snow days. This made me turn to my French Press. Quick and easy to brew with high flavor impact.
Today I choose my Tanzania coffee I have from Atlas Coffee Club. I love being a part of Atlas Coffee Club and love the variety of coffees they send me!
This Tanzania coffee was a lighter roasted coffee with complex flavors. The tasting notes are black tea, blackberry, and milk chocolate. I get the mouthfeel of black tea, the blackberry’s tartness, and the subtle sweetness and flavor of the milk chocolate.
Cheers to Tuesday! ☕️
January 29th: Morning Cup
The commute from Milford to Scranton typically takes about an hour. On mornings like this morning, this means I’m more in a treat to self kind of mood. I usually do the hour commute every other Friday. This allows me to treat myself without feeling like I’m overindulging.
Henry’s on Clay is a cute coffee shop in Dunmore, PA. It is also only about 5 minutes from my work. They have good coffee and delicious gluten-free breakfast, lunch, and brunch options!
You can place an order ahead of time and schedule a pickup time. I love this feature because I place my order in bed, get ready, drive an hour, and pick up my breakfast on my way to work. Easy Peasy.
This morning for breakfast is got an omelet with spinach, tomatoes, and Munster cheese. ( I know, weird, but it’s my fav cheese). And I got their home fries; Henry’s home fries are out of this world!!
For coffee, even though it’s in the single digits in the Pennsylvania mountains today, I got cold brew. Henry’s had unique flavors, so I got a large cold brew with cookie butter flavoring and oat milk. It’s decadent yet not too sweet.
Happy Friday! 🎉
Sweet and Savory Apple Nachos
I love apples! They are definitely one of my go-to snacks.
I have found a sweet yet savory way to spice apples up and make them a snack that makes me full and satisfied.
I take 1 or 2 apples depending on how hungry I am and slice them. I cut them into large slices, but you can cut smaller slices if you choose. Just make sure they are big enough to comfortably pick up with your hands (like a nacho chip). I lay the apples all over a plate as you would with chips if you were making nachos.
I then use unsweetened sunflower butter and drizzle it all over the apples on the plate. I try to drizzle the sunflower butter evenly over the apple slices too!
Lastly, I take cacao nibs and sprinkle them all over the apples and sunflower butter. Cacao nibs make the snack crunchy, and they are a superfood!
Now enjoy your apple nachos!
Winter Refresh: Travel Edition
I find it that the holidays are perceived to be relaxing due to the time you have off of work and that you get to spend time with family and friends. I believe the holidays are some of the most unrelaxing and stressful times of the year. Don’t get me wrong, the days off of work and sleeping in can help to recharge a bit but at the end of the day, I don’t get to just relax. Between late nights filled with fun family activities, completing tasks and errands that are hard to do while at work, and traveling from place to place to celebrate, the holidays can leave you tired and dreading January.
I think it can be important to prioritize self-care for the first 2 weeks of January. Go to bed early, do a relaxing activity, go for a walk, whatever self-care is for you do it! I find that mid-January is when winter gets tough. Usually, the cold weather gets colder ( at least where I am from) and the hype from the holidays has fully dissipated. This is the time where I recommend a winter refresh!
A winter refresh is where you plan an activity, go somewhere, or do something to excite you and increase your moral at a rather gloomy time of year. Here are some ways to do a winter refresh:
- Travel somewhere that has the opposite temperature/ climate of where you live.
If the temperature where you live is hot, go somewhere cold. If where you live is cold, go somewhere warm. This breaks up the monotony of January and makes you feel like you’re experiencing something new. This also lets you indulge in activities that you may not be able to do in your area at this time of year. How cool would it be to lay on a beach during the winter when you are from a cold area and are used to frigid temperatures? How fun would it be to ski the slopes of mountains for a week if you’re from a warmer climate?
In 2017, I traveled to a warm place in January and a cold place in August. The temperature change was an amazing aspect of both trips. That winter did not feel so long and cold and that summer wasn’t too humid and hot.
If you are able to, getaway for a week and travel to somewhere new with a different climate than your home has right now!
- Try an activity that you can only do at this time of year.
Whatever season you are experiencing, there are activities around your area that can only be done in this season. For me, it’s winter and cold right now. Living in the mountains, common activities near me are skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice skating, etc. These activities have a timestamp and end whenever the temperature and precipitation decided it in late winter/ early spring. It is also a good time to try cozy indoor activities like getting a hot beverage at a coffee shop!
If you are in a rainy season is there a hiking trail that has an awesome waterfall that you can only see in the rainy season? Is it super hot where you are? Head to a cool indoor activity you have always wanted to try or dive into water sports!
I challenge you to plan a fun activity for the end of January that has you taking advantage of the current season you are in.
- Visit a location you love in its offseason.
The beach is an awesome place to visit when its warm and you can lay in the sun all day but have you ever been to the beach when it’s cold?
I highly suggest visiting a place that you love where January is its offseason. You already love the location and it will be fun to see it in a new light. Traveling to a place in its offseason gives you a new perspective of that location and you may notice new and exciting things!
I try to do this whenever I can! Just the other day I visited the lake that I kayak on during the summer. With the trees bare and lake frozen, I noticed new things about the area that I don’t see in the summer. I also love visiting the beach in the offseason. There is something about a vacant beach with loud, crashing, winter waves that excites me in a unique way.
Don’t let January get you down this year and plan something fun! Whether it’s a half-day activity or a week-long vacation, do something this month for YOU!
What do you plan on doing to spice up your January?
New Year Same Me. My 20 for 2020.
Real talk about New Years Resolutions and setting realistic goals for the new year.
With a new year and a new decade approaching it’s hard not to think about the past, the present, and sometimes the daunting future. Every year I try to tell myself that I am going to do this and that in the new year but when the time comes, I end up not following through. I have listened to this podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin consistently for about the past year. They would talk about their 19 for 2019 and the different times of the year that can be treated as a time to start new things. I always found this fascinating. As a Gretchen Rubin Obliger ( if you don’t know what this is please click here:https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com ), I tend to need plans and accountability to follow my goals. This means I tend to consistently fall short of New Year’s resolutions and new goals I set during the year. I want to do a lot but do not have the time and stamina to do it all.
I think this is why the concept of 20 for 2020 has really hit me while listening to the Happier podcast. I feel that spending the year focusing on 20 things will give me a variety of things to do yet a structure and priority to tasks in my life. I have spent the past few weeks honing in and thinking of things that make me happy. I thought of things that are good for my well being and my brain. I also thought about what is good for my body. I created a list of things I want to strive toward. These are not resolutions in the sense of if I don’t complete them, I fail. These are 20 things I want to prioritize and work on in the new year. They are things I love and want to include more in my life. I also tell myself and will stick to the idea that these are not things to check off a to-do list. Overall, I don’t want to be perfect with these. I want to realistically incorporate my favorite things in my life.
Below are my 20 for 2020 and how I plan to incorporate them into my life.
- Walk Daily
Since I work in an office, it can be hard some days to be active. I want to make sure I am a smidge active even if I have a busy day. I have a Fitbit and plan to track my steps to see how many I typically take in a day. I hope to add 500 to 1000 steps every few weeks to slowly increase my activity level.
- Begin a regular Yoga and Meditation practice
I absolutely love yoga, especially restorative yoga. I want to make sure I prioritize practicing yoga. It is one of my favorite ways to get active and also slow down. I also think meditation is really awesome for my well being and pairs well with a yoga practice. I would love to get into a regular yoga and meditation practice daily.
- Live a more sustainable life
I have been really trying to live a more sustainable life the past year and I want to continue this into the new year. I would like to focus on always using reusable bags at the grocery store, bringing a travel mug when getting to-go coffee at coffee shops, and using reusable straws. Hopefully, after focusing on these sustainability efforts, I can set new goals.
- Establish my blog
I have been having so much fun writing articles for my blog! I want to set goals for my blog and write material regularly. I want to share my coffee and travel knowledge and think blog posts and videos are the best way to do that.
- Schedule doctors appointments
I have noticed that as I get older, life happens and doctors appointments aren’t seen as much as a priority when I am feeling good. I only head to the doctor when I don’t feel well. I want to make sure as I get older I am healthy and staying on top of my health. I want to schedule things like the eye doctor’s appointment I have put off in 2019.
- Focus on my Pampered Chef business
I absolutely love to cook and decided in March of 2019 that I wanted to be a consultant for Pampered Chef. Life got crazy and I had to put this side hustle to the side. I want to pick up my love for cooking again and share my love through Pampered Chef.
- Kon Mari my life
I loved watching the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo when it came out. I began to use the method to organize my apartment but then I moved and everything got crazy and disorganized! I want to spend this year taking time to organize and get rid of things that no longer serve me.
- Save money for a down payment on a house
I would love love love to be in the position by the end of 2020 to buy a house. My goal is to buy a cute little house in Scranton, PA!
- Start an Etsy shop
One of my destressers is being crafty. Some of my favorite crafting activities are painting and crocheting. I would love to dive into this outlet and sell some of my items on Etsy!
- Read regularly
I have never been a regular reader but I love reading. This summer, I spent some of my lunch break reading. This was a great way to get my reading in but also to take a mental rest from work. I plan to find time slots like this in my daily schedule to read. I would like to read at least 12 books during 2020.
- Hike once a month
Hiking is one of my favorites ways to connect with nature and be active. I plan to hike once a month to a new location and maybe incorporate some of my favorite hiking locations.
- Start my PhD
My entire life I have dreamed of getting my PhD. I get to begin this journey in the summer of 2020!
- Deepen my faith
I want to dive into my faith and spirituality this year and reconnect with my faith. I have spent most of my life attending and now working at Catholic schools and I want to learn more about my religion. I hope to attend mass and spend time connecting with God in 2020.
- Paint regularly
When I was in college I found a passion for painting. I love painting nature scenes and find painting outside incredibly relaxing. I want to spend some of my spare time painting in 2020.
- Journal daily
In 2019, I began journaling and reflecting on my day to day life. I would like to make a habit of this and journal every day in some capacity to document and reflect on life.
- Deepen my knowledge and appreciation for coffee
As you probably already know, I love coffee! I have spent a lot of time studying, learning, and drinking coffee. I really want to learn more about this passion of mine and try new types of coffee!
- Find my Food Freedom
In April I did the Whole 30. (If you do not know about Whole 30 please go here: https://whole30.com ) I mainly choose Whole 30 because I wanted to assess what I have reactions to and what foods I should be cautious of. Food Freedom is the aftermath of Whole 30 by using my knowledge from this food experiment. I plan on doing Whole 30 in January to reassess the reactions I have to different foods and build my Food Freedom.
- Decrease social media/ phone use
I am so tied to my phone and social media. I love using Instagram and Facebook but I loved the break I took over Christmas for 2 days. I want to plan some time away from my phone and off of social media. I also want to be conscientious of the amount of time I spend on my phone every day.
- Buy a DSLR camera
I have dreamed of owning a DSLR Canon camera for most of my life. I am making a savings plan to get the exact camera I have been dreaming of. I plan to dive into my love of photography once I get my camera.
- Kayak weekly in the summer
Kayaking is my absolute favorite outdoor activity and water sport. I live by a lake and have my own kayak. In summers past, I have not kayaked as much as I would have liked. My goal is to try to kayak at least once a week!
So there is my 20 for 2020! I am excited to begin this new decade and focus on some activities that make me happy. I hope this helps you plan your own 20 for 2020. Remember to not hold yourself to unrealistic standards in the new year. Comment below some things from your 20 for 2020 list!
Happy New Year and Cheers to a new decade! 🥂
Maria Obsesses Over Black Friday
I am currently obsessing over Black Friday deals for 2019!!
I am all about saving some $$$ while Christmas shopping. Last year I got some awesome deals online for Black Friday and I became determined this year to make sure I find all of the deals.
I’m going to review how I found out about many of these deals and some of my favs from these lists!!
My current Black Friday obsession has been fueled by this awesome app called Krazy Coupon Lady. The app has a comprehensive overview of all the Black Friday deals and a calendar with dates on when each stores Black Friday ads are most likely to be released. I am signed up to receive their emails and can tailor notifications in the app for what you care about.
Here is the calendar for the Black Friday ad release dates!! https://thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/money/how-to-shop-black-friday-cheat-sheet
Target and Old Navy are currently have my fav deals. I am (not patiently) waiting for Amazon’s deals to drop on the predicted date of November 22nd.
My favorite upcoming deals from Target are….
- Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera for $49.99
- 7th Generation 10.2 inch IPad for $249.99 ( this is $80 off original price!)
- Threshold Sherpa or Chenille throw blankets for $10
My favorite upcoming deals from Old Navy are….
- $1 cozy socks!!
I will continue to update this as we get closer to Black Friday!
How To Find A Good Local Coffee Shop While Traveling
Ever wonder, “how the heck do I find a local coffee shop while traveling?” Have you looked for coffee that isn’t Starbucks or Dunkin while you are out and about?
This guide will help you choose a local and unique coffee shop that will fit your coffee needs!
1. Ask yourself, ” what type of coffee drink am I looking for?”
Are you looking for just a stunning cup of regular drip coffee? Are you looking for a specialty drink like a latte, cappuccino, or even matcha? Deciding if you want food during your coffee run is important too. Knowing what you want will help you sort through your options when you start searching.
2. What you are going to be looking for when you search:
- When I look for a local coffee shop, I tend to gravitate towards shops that roast their coffee. The coffee shop’s name typically says “roasting” in it if they roast their coffee. This is just a preference of mine because I like trying micro-roasters. Most local coffee shops use unique coffee beans from smaller roasters that will still taste great.
- Usually, when you search for a coffee shop online, there are photos, reviews, menus, websites, etc. I typically look at the pictures of the shop and the menu. I see if the shop has the kind of coffee I want and if they sell food. I like coffee shops that sell some pastries and breakfast sandwiches at most. I try to avoid shops that look like they serve full breakfast or even lunch because they probably don’t have local coffee or unique coffee. I also check the photos to see what the vibe is inside of the coffee shop. Is there a place for me to work if I plan on staying for a while? Does it look like they have a good espresso machine if I’m looking for a latte or cappuccino? I also see if they have single-origin coffee options and pour-over coffee. These are forms of drip coffees that are specialized and something I love.
3. Search “coffee” in google maps or your maps app.
This task may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s what I do. I choose a coffee shop near where I am, on the way to my next destination, or near the location I am heading. It all depends on how soon I want my coffee and how much time I have. The shorter amount of time I have to get to my next destination is to find a coffee shop close to that destination. Once I search for the coffee shops, I use the above criteria to make my decision. Also, make sure to look at the parking situation at the coffee shop if it looks like metered parking and be prepared to need quarters if you can’t pay with an app or a card.
4. Head to your coffee shop and enjoy!
Feel free to switch up the order you thought you wanted when you get there. I tend to get to a new coffee shop and find something unique and go with that drink instead. Go out of your comfort zone with your drink and pastry order….you maybe be happy you did!
There may not be a local coffee shop in the area you are traveling in. I have had that happen many times. The only options you may have are Starbucks or Dunkin. I try to look up coffee shops ahead of time enough to see if that is the case. If it is, pick your favorite coffee shop chain and enjoy it! I tend to pick Starbucks because of their specialty drinks and different yummy pastries.
Maria Tries Essential Oils (This isn’t a post trying to sell you something)
As I wrote this title, I could feel the eye rolls and skepticism from some of the potential readers. I am going to repeat this because it’s important: I AM NOT TRYING TO SELL YOU OILS OR ON THE CONCEPT OF THEM.
I am just here to share my experience and some of my favoriteS. If you already use oils, awesome! I hope you find this article helpful. If you don’t use them, I hope you find this helpful or you skip to another post of mine that is more up your alley.
( check out this neat traveling story if you don’t wish to continue learning about essential oils: )
I was introduced to essential oils over a year ago. I had friends tell me about them but finally found myself ordering a starter kit from Young Living last December. I liked the concept of their oils being so natural and safe. Also, Young Living owns their fields and works closely with the farmers of the fields they don’t own which I thought was neat.
I mainly used them as a candle replacement. In the starter kit I received a diffuser and from all the things I heard about candles not being good for you because of toxins, I decided to try the diffuser out. From the start, I loved mixing oils for yummy smelling blends.
In the first few months of having my kit, I got the flu, had a wild weeks long migraine, and got a severe double ear infection. In all of these scenarios the oils came to the rescue to help ease my symptoms. I used an oil called Raven for the flu and the ear infection. Raven is basically liquid Vicks that doesn’t have chemicals in it. I still used Vicks for the ear infection but it was nice swapping back and forth with something natural. Raven helped to ease ear pain and clear my sinus passages. It’s definitely not a cure for sickness but I love to use it as a Vicks replacement. It’s awesome using it in the diffuser and just straight on your chest. For my migraine, I could not get anything to actually relieve my pain. I thought scents were causing my migraine so I didn’t use my oils for two weeks. Excedrin was the only medication that gave me minor, temporary relieve. My migraine began right around the start of spring allergy season. I had heard of an allergy relieve blend of essential oils that are meant to be diffused. After a few weeks, tons of over the counter failures, and a visit to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t a sinus infection, I decided to experiment to see if my migraine was being caused by allergies. I came home from work, put the allergy blend in the diffuser ( equal parts peppermint, lemon, and lavender) and within an hour, I received the first non medication relief in weeks. After that night, my migraine decreased in intensity. Essential oils don’t always help my migraines but in some scenarios they have given me some relieve that nothing else could.
Currently, I am loving my essential oils and use them in creative and practical ways. I use a blend of oils to create a room spray to replace chemicals. I use this spray in my hotel rooms while traveling to decrease the amount of germs and as an insect repellent. I use Theives and Rosemary essential oils for immune boosting purposes during sick season. I love diffusing different oils in my office for mental stimulation like a lemon or peppermint. I also still use essential oils as a candle replacement and have done fall themed scents for my office and hotel rooms to make them feel more cozy!
Overall, oils have become a huge part of my life for natural replacements for products I have used in the past that have more unnatural ingredients. Keep a look out for some of my favorite diffuser blends article coming soon!
My favorite dessert place in Philly…actually my favorite dessert place ever!
I love walking around Chinatown in Philly and since I am a major foodie, I love finding new dessert places. A La Mouse, from the very first time I visited, has been my favorite dessert place ever.
They have the cutest little desserts. All desserts are made meticulously. My favorite dessert there is the matcha lava cake. I love matcha and the pairing with chocolate makes this dessert the best dessert ever! I have also tried the Lychee Panna Cotta and the Mango Mousse Cake and they did not disappoint! The natural ingredients they use make me love these Asian inspired desserts even more. They are open late into the night so it’s perfect for late night studying or for hanging out after spending your day walking around. I highly recommend stopping here if you are ever in Chinatown!