Friday, June 30, 2017

Off The Shoulder Top Obsession

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

Outfit Details: Off The Shoulder Top | Jean Shorts [Old] | Wedges

One more day and it's the weekend y'all! I finally feel like I am adjusting to my summer routine with all the swim lessons I am teaching. I was definitely mistaken in thinking that this would be a summer of sleeping in and leisure.   But I am loving teaching swim lessons.  I get to hang out at the pool with some fun kiddos and teach them to swim. We are currently packing to begin our move to the new apartment soon so I do use the word "routine" loosely. Basically, I am running around Charlotte super busy all day long but it's summer so it's totally fine with me.

How fun is this black top?  It is so adorable and so comfortable.  The material is perfect for summer fun and outfits that can be dressed up or down.  I paired it with some jean shorts and the most comfortable black wedge sandals.

I am digging the off the shoulder trend.  I was always so hesitant to get tops like this because I can't wear it to work.  I love it though and decided that it's okay to get a few fun pieces for my life outside of school.  This top will be on repeat this summer for sure.

How do you branch out from your every day fashion trends? 

P.S. This top is currently online at Ivy & Leo and you can get it for 10% off with my code AMANDA10!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Outer Banks 2017 | A Clamming Adventure

Location: Pamlico Sound, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Details: Team Dempsey Guide Service 

Have you ever been clamming?  This was a first for me for sure; but it was an absolute blast! My sister and her boyfriend arranged the whole trip for us.  We headed down to the marina to get on our boat.  The day was pretty cloudy and lightly rainy; the weather didn't stop us from going and having a good time. By the end of the trip the sun started peeking through the clouds a little!

We took the boat out to the Pamlico Sound where a sand bar was formed.  We just got out of the boat to about knee deep water and walked out in the middle of the sound to the sand bar.  Basically you walk around in the water digging your heels into the sand until you hit a clam.

Did you know a clam spends it's whole life going only vertical and never moving away from their original spot?

Our limit was 200 clams.  You can't get more than that because clams, like oysters, are natural water filters and we want our earth to have nice clean water.  As a group we found way more than 200 in just the little spot we were walking around in.  We counted them out at the end of the trip and threw the excess away.

The 200 that we did catch we cooked up later that evening.  They were so fresh and delicious. We literally just had clams and wine for dinner and it was pure bliss.

If you are ever in the Hatteras region of the Outer Banks contact Team Dempsey Guide Service! This links to their facebook page.  They did a fantastic job of taking us out for our clamming trip and a little bit of fishing for my dad to test out his new pole.  They run these clamming trips and also purely fishing trips out on the sound!

This was an amazing way to spend part of our day on the island.  Clamming was definitely one of the most unique experiences I have ever had.

P.S. RIP to the hat I am wearing in these photos.  I flipped my kayak on a huge wave two days later and sadly the hat got taken away by the ocean while I was in survival mode.  Now I am in search of a new favorite hat, any recommendations?

What is the most interesting thing you have ever done at the beach?!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Outer Banks 2017 | Beach Living

Location: Avon, North Carolina [Outer Banks]

I have been hyping up summertime and my beach vacation here so much; and now I am back in Charlotte after the best week.  Going to the beach was the perfect way to start my summer off.  It was my first week off of school so being near water completely helped me hit the reset button.

My priority for the week was to create some healthy habits that can sustain me throughout the summer.  I don't know about you but I do a lot better with a routine because then I am prepped for what is to come.  But I want to be healthy and flexible at the same time this summer!  Now that I am back and reflecting on this trip I definitely accomplished what I set out to do. See my post I wrote for how to stay healthy on vacation for some of the tips I followed!

Our family rented a house in the Outer Banks in Avon, a town near where my sister lives on the island! The house was so fantastic.  Beach front property for the win [shout out to mom and dad & my sis for being the best property manager at Hatteras Realty]

We had a week full of sunshine, family board games, trips around the island, fishing, boating, driving to the point, kayaking, walks on the beach, night time fires and star gazing, delicious food, catching up, and a week full of making amazing memories.

What I love about being on the island is that time just kind of slows down.  There isn't a lot of things to do around but that is perfectly okay.  I like it better actually.  I am such a beach bum that my whole day is spent outside.  Being able to just go with the flow, slow down, relax, and not have to rush or worry about going out at night either was exactly what I needed for this vacation.

Have you ever been to the Outer Banks? What is your favorite part about beach vacations?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Letter to My College Self

Dear College Amanda and all those heading to college at the end of summer,

It's been five years since you graduated undergrad and a full year now away from graduate school.  I have had some time to reflect on those times.  I have learned many lessons along the way.  While I don't regret anything because I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, there are definitely some things that I learned and wish I would have done differently.

Create a budget & stick to it.  Or better yet save money in an account that you block access from.  Paying off loans is no fun.  Plus once you graduate your car is going to break and you will have to buy a new one so add another monthly payment.  Rent anywhere else besides your college town is crazy expensive. Have fun but be mindful and disciplined with your money. I think this past year was the year that it really clicked for me, but I wish it were 7 years ago!

Go out with your friends.  Taco Tuesday.  Thursday night events.  Saturday afternoon adventures and tailgates.  Practice good time management and spend some daytime in the library to get your work done.  This is the time in your life that you will be closest to people.  Don't skip being around them, say yes to things with people.  The moments with friends will become your most cherished memories.

Learn to meal plan. Fast food is not your friend.  Prep food with some lovely fresh and healthy ingredients, your body will thank you.

Do what makes you happy. This lesson is the one I really wish I would have taken more advantage of.  I had a weird complex that I built up in college that revolved around other people and what they thought.  It's a difficult thing to break. I am still finding myself and what I love but I wish I would have jumped at more opportunities that my college campus offered that peaked my interest. Who knows if you try something that makes you happy and go alone you might meet some really great friends.

Be open. This is kind of a continuation of the previous.  Colleges are constantly having events and opportunities.  Go. Try something new.  Don't judge before you try.  These years are so formative, so be open to learning new things and trying something different.

Don't cling to people who don't bring positivity to your life.  I spent a lot of time on people who didn't serve me well.  I kept trying to make things work in various friendships and relationships and unfortunately suffered a lot from it.  I lost big pieces of myself in other people.  You will always find new people so don't be afraid to walk away from something that is bringing you down.

Go to church.  Better yet get involved with a campus Christian group.  Jesus is number one. Spend time with Him & like minded people.  Those will be the true friendships.

Journal. Writing is the one way that you truly figure out what you are thinking and feeling.  Invest in yourself.  Go to a fun coffee shop, bring your journal, sip a latte and reflect on this once in a life time experience.

Ask questions. This is your time to learn.  Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something.  Try out various jobs and internships.  Learn learn learn and soak it all up.

Explore where you live.  Your college town is so much more than your campus.  There are actually people that live and work there year round.  They matter too.  Support local.  Learn about the towns history & people.  You will miss that life when you are gone.

Choose your girlfriends over that boy. Seriously.  He isn't worth it.  If you don't think you are good enough to ever find someone; stop that negative self talk right now!  You will find a fantastic guy.  BUT first you need to love yourself and spend time with your girls.  Boys will always come and go but if you choose them over your friends slowly the most cherished girlfriends will fade too.

Make sense of money. Do your research. Set some life and financial goals.  Remind yourself of those financial goals often, especially when debating spending some cash on something silly.  Invest in quality and your future.

Make the most of it. College is seriously unlike anything else. It's difficult and challenging sure but it's also so much fun.  Be brave. Take risks.  Be present and enjoy this special time in your life.

What would you tell your college self?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carolina Blue and City Views

Location: Charlotte, NC

Outfit Details: Top: Ivy & Leo [not online] | Pants: LC Lauren Conrad [old]  | Shoes: Target [old]

Happy Wednesday & summer solstice sweet friends. I am currently at the beach with my family.  This vacation has been so good for me thus far.  I have been waking up early and walking Finn then working out and spending the rest of my days on the beach in the sunshine.  I talked last week about staying healthy on vacation  and I am proud to say following my own advice has left me feeling so great.  I am proud of myself for making the time to be active, to pay attention to my nutrition, and ultimately practice self-care daily.

I can finally feel myself relax.  I have been talking about summer for so long it still doesn't seem real that it's now here.  I can say that I am loving the off the shoulder trend for summer.  I have been working on my arms and shoulders with tone it up and I can't wait to wear this beautiful shirt to show them off this summer.

I tend to gravitate toward blues because I feel like I look the best in them.  Every time I try to branch out and change it up a piece like this just jumps out at me and I have to get it.  This top is from my favorite local boutique in Charlotte called Ivy & Leo.  I am so excited to share with you guys that even though they are Carolina local boutiques they have an online shop and if you order anything from Ivy & Leo you can use the code AMANDA10 to get 10% off your purchase.  :)

What is your favorite summer trend right now?

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Day Full of Birthday Fun

Location: Two Scoops Creamery | Central Ave 

Details: Romper Hat | Necklace

Mike's birthday was this past week and since boys are incredibly hard to shop for I wanted to make the day really special. We spent the whole day together adventuring around Charlotte and it was perfect.

Our first stop; ice cream.  Because what is a birthday without a sweet treat.  It was the perfect day to go because Charlotte Five was having their voting for the best flavors at Two Scoops Creamery. It was so delicious but you definitely don't have to get two scoops even if it's the shops namesake. So much ice cream. Mike ended up eating almost all of mine because I just couldn't do it.

Next up: city views.  Mike has only been living here for a short time and I have just moved back to an ever evolving city so I am constantly on the lookout for ways to enjoy this place and explore.  Sometimes it's fun to just go to the top of a parking deck and take in the views.

Our final destination for the night: The Fillmore.  This was actually the first time I have been here. I got Miike Snow tickets for Mike's birthday. Mike loves music and has been to so many shows but that never really was my scene.  I couldn't help but think of LC in the Hills telling Audrina; "I would bob my head awkwardly for you"  Anyone else get that reference and obsessed with Lauren Conrad like I am?! Haha.  The show ended up being a blast, great music, fun atmosphere, and an overall great birthday date night!

How do you like to celebrate your partners birthday [especially when they are difficult to shop for]? 

P.S. If you like my romper or my off the shoulder black top I am wearing for the show; you can use the code AMANDA10 for 10% off any Ivy & Leo items online!

Friday, June 16, 2017

How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

Location: Hatteras, OBX | a throwback to Finn's first time at the beach!

Today, I am off to the beach for a much needed vacation.  My family has been exchanging group emails and messages all week long preparing for this trip. With how much I have researched and delved into health and nutrition this year I don't want to have a week that does me more harm than good.  That got me thinking.  We are texting about our packing items and events that are being planned so why can't we prepare to have a healthy vacation as well?

I am sharing some of my favorite ways to stay healthy while taking a necessary break from the every day life and routine.

1. Get moving. Go for morning walks with your coffee first thing in the morning.  You will get to explore your vacation spot and get your metabolism kickstarted by moving early before the rest of the world wakes up!

2. Do what you can. If you don't eat 100% clean and workout for an hour and a half every single day while you're on vacation; know that it's totally okay.  It's better to do a little something than nothing.  Change your mindset about your workouts and focus on what you can/ are able to do and do that!  Every little bit matters, no matter how little.

3. Focus on nutrition. We are bringing some already prepped meals [go mom with the zucchini lasagna!] lots and lots of healthy snacks, and healthy options that we can't live without daily.  Bringing items from home will help you stick to your meal plans as well as save money and the hassle of beach grocery stores on check in days. We are also renting a beach house, meaning we can cook more meals at home rather than eat out.  If you have to eat out just make sure your meals are lean, clean, and green!

4. Enjoy your vacation + rest. Our bodies need sleep and rest just as much as they need movement and fuel. Don't be so focused on your fitness goals that you miss life.  Eat that local decadence.  Spend time with your family or friends.  Take a nap in the sun on the beach.  Being present in the moment and taking in the adventure as it comes will do wonders for your overall wellness.

5. Think outside the "gym".  Find some fun ways to explore and be active. When I am at the beach, I love trying things like standup paddle boarding or kayaking.  If you are vacationing on a budget; running up and down the beach with the pup is always a fun adventure.  Be active in your experiences.  You will not only stay happy and healthy you will make some fun memories in the process.

What are your favorite ways to stay healthy on vacation?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Home Decor Inspiration

There is something about moving that just gets my creative juices flowing.  I love to organize and purge so basically packing up all my stuff every single year to move apartments has become the way I do it. The downside is that I have moved every single year and all that heavy lifting can get exhausting.  Plus I have never really taken the time to decorate with quality pieces since my mindset is "I will be out of here next year" 

My plan for this next move is to stay put for a little bit and be able to really make this next place my own. I have 3 pinterest boards full of home decor, apartment ideas, as well as organization tips that I have been revisiting lately. As you can see from my "mood" board collage above I am really vibing on warm neutrals with touches of gray and blues.  I also love love love decorating with plants.  Our new place will have so much more natural light so I can truly have plants all over instead of crammed all together by the window salvaging sunlight.

I am so excited to be moved and settled.  The new place is in a really fun area of Charlotte surrounded by so many things to do and people our age.  Our specific apartment will have a loft that will be so much more space to decorate! Hello office/ guest room combo decor ideas.

We are moving in July so before we can even get to the fun decorating part there is so much packing to do! I will keep you updated on this journey; I have moved so many times that I have this down to a science and will be sharing tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

What are your favorite decor tips and tricks for making a place truly feel settled and like a home?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summertime Self Care

Sweet summertime is here.  Can you tell that I am excited? This summer my priority is going to be self care for sure.

This school year has been a learning experience for me for sure.  Ultimately I had a few students who monopolized my time leaving me playing catch up due to many re-adjustments in my schedule.   I had a few months where I was simply drained.  Having a routine during the school year for after work saved me.  I made taking care of myself a priority because of the nature of my job I knew I wouldn't be able to perform well if I didn't.

Now I have a whole summer ahead of me but I am still going to take into account self care.

Self care is something that fuels you; mind, body, and spirit.  What are the things that leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world? What drives your passions?

For me self care means a lot of different things.  At the most basic it means always eating healthy foods and working out because if I don't feel well then nothing else can get done.  I feel my best when I am consistent with Tone It Up.  Then there are my simple routines that I have daily, if I don't do these things I feel off.  I would consider this self care too.  Examples are my devotional and journaling with my morning coffee as well as walking my pup.

Then there are the extra self care things.  These practices don't have to be a daily routine but I know that if I take time out of my day to do them then I feel so much better, happier, and more like myself.  These self care practices for me are doing something creative like blogging, photography, or reading.  Spending time with people also makes it to my self care list.  I feel alive when I have events planned and people to see.  I also love doing little things over the summer to just relax like laying out at the pool or a DIY home spa day.  My soul is fueled by nature as well so I always try to spend as much time outside in the summer as I can.

This summer will definitely be spent doing all the self care things!

What are some of your favorite self care practices and routines for the summer?

Friday, June 9, 2017

School's Out for Summer!

It is finally summertime for me, well aside from workdays and lots of random training days through the summer.  School will officially not have students in the building until August.  I have been trying to reflect and process on the end of the school year for this post, yet, I can't seem to find the words.

This school year has been a year of many firsts for me.  This school year was my first full year as a school counselor [I was hired mid year last year and was doing my internship for grad school simultaneously] I had so many trials and learning experiences throughout the year.

This job is rewarding and exhausting all at the same time.  When I was a teacher I was just plain tired.  I could talk all day about my opinions on teaching, how it's the hardest job and teachers don't get what they deserve in so many aspects but that could be a whole series of other blog posts.  Being a counselor means you have to be even more adaptable and emotionally available to whatever might come your way.  A lot of people still have no idea what my job entails.  A few pet peeves of mine: calling me a guidance counselor and questioning why elementary age kids might even need mental health support.  Oh if you only knew...

I can honestly say that I am right where I am supposed to be. I have so many goals and ideas swimming in my head of how to improve upon the school counseling program for next year.  As I sit back and reflect on this past year I have learned a few things.

  1.  Self care NEEDS to be a priority.
  2.  Kids matter.
  3.  Being fully present and listening to someone can be life changing.
  4.  The kids who need love the most show it in the most inappropriate ways.  
  5.  Building relationships takes time but keep trying and reaching out. Relationship is the foundation for success and change. 
  6.  School culture is unlike anything else.  
  7.  Be an advocate for doing what is right for kids. 
  8.  No two days look the same - even if your calendar might plan for it to seem that way. 
  9.  Kiddos can't help where they come from, it's not their fault, and it's not our responsibility to blame.  We need to teach it all - social skills, behavior, manners, AND math, reading, science, etc. with patience and love. 
  10.  Being kind will take you more places than you know. 

To all you teachers and school employees out there; I hope you have a happy and healthy summer! What have you learned this school year? 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Currently | June

Location: Vintage Charlotte Market at Camp North End

It's June, y'all.  I am in my last week of school.  It is the craziest week of the year, with field days celebrations, and talent show performances.  I have been running around school making the most of my days by spending quality time with students.  I am linking up with Anne and Erin for this months edition of Currently - which if you notice I am in summer mode full force.

planning: Summertime adventures.  I am lucky enough to not be working at the school over the summer.  So I am using my summer to do blog work, teach swim lessons, and take some fun trips to get some much needed R&R before next school year.

wishing: For sunny days.  It has been storming lately here which is definitely the norm for Charlotte in the summer.  But a girl can dream for sunny summer days, lighter hair, and a tan; right? 

learning: About myself and my career choice.  This year was my first full year as a school counselor and it has definitely been formidable for me.  I have so much to reflect upon from this past year so that I can start planning how to improve upon the counseling program for next year.  

browsing: Summer outfit ideas.  Living in the mountains for as long as I have; I didn't really have need for summer clothes so my wardrobe is pretty lacking.  I am loving all the cute styles for this summer and can't wait to share as I build summer clothes. 

going: To the Outer Banks in a week to visit my sister with my family.  I couldn't be more excited.  I have talked about it on here for a few months now.  I am in need of a beach vacation and family time. 

What are you currently up to?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday Motivation

Location: Marco Island, Florida

Happy Monday sweet friends,

Mondays can be hard.  You have to wake up early to head back to work after a weekend of bliss.  But you got this.  Put on your make up,  fix your hair,  pour an extra large cup of coffee, and head out to face the world.

Working isn't the terrible thing that everyone makes it out to be.  You are in a career that you love and feel fufilled in. Some days are long and hard.  You are helping people see that they matter.

Every day is a learning experience.  You will be faced with challenges and choices.  What truly defines who you are is how you respond to them.  Trust in yourself.  Life isn't about thinking what other people will think about your decisions.  It's about trusting in the Lord and fulfilling your purpose. Do what makes you happy.  Sometimes that means going out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to try new things.

Those experiences always turn out better than you expect.  Same with life.

So let's do this Monday, you got this.

What is your favorite way to start the week on a positive note?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Ode to Fathers [especially mine]

It's now June which means Fathers Day is coming up! I have been so blessed with such a wonderful, caring, giving, and hardworking father.

My daddy has always been there for me and my family.  He works tireless hours then comes home to  make sure the house is in tip top shape. My dad is the kind of father who was around to play with us girls, put up with our endless drama, and always be the receptive person at the end of those "dadddddyyyy" phone calls when we are in peril. I always took that for granted until I started working in schools and learned the hard stories of many children.

I feel so blessed to have a Dad who has been there physically and emotionally for me throughout my whole life, and still is [who do you think has helped me build furniture and transport heavy items on my many moves from apartment to apartment?!]

Now I know that all families aren't exactly made up the same way mine is, and that's okay.  Learning about peoples daily lives fascinates me; it also fills me with so much gratitude for being brought up with parents who stay together through it all.

So cheers to all the fathers out there raising their children to be strong and humble and to do the right thing.  The world needs more involved fathers.  I have seen first hand what a positive male role model does to students who seem to be helpless otherwise.  Thank you to the men who stand up and stick together and cultivate a positive family life.

How are you going to celebrate your father this month? 
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