I posted my Top 10 Books of 2022 the other day and went down a rabbit hole of book bloggers and got a lot of inspo. Rosie, who I’ve followed for years, posted her post,… More
All grown up
We’re halfway through 2021 already and per usual, I’ve put my hobbies on the backburner. Yesterday in therapy, my therapist and I talked about how my dream would have been to have majored in English or journalism to become a writer or design/media to create content and I chose education to appease my family. Just because I did that 4 years ago, doesn’t mean I have to ignore all of my passions to this day! So, here I am, sitting on the couch in my brand-new apartment [more on this in a minute], typing words on my laptop for the first time in over six months.
There’s nothing more Alicia-esque than making an update post. So, here’s my halfway through 2021 update post.
2021 started really well for me. I didn’t make it to see the start of 2021 because a good night’s rest was more important than that. I started back at the school I worked at for my maternity leave cover. We had an in-service day followed by my last six weeks there. January flew by between teaching and applying to what felt like hundreds of jobs all over the world.
I finished working at the school in February with my last day being parent teacher conferences. My last week was full of tears, well wishes, and sweet cards and gifts from my students and colleagues. I’m so sad to not be returning to the school because it was such an amazing experience. Right after that job ended, I started tutoring one of my past students and other parents had offered to have me tutor them as well. I then spent a week with my grandparents which was a nice time spent with them. And amidst all of this, I had plenty of interviews at schools all over.
In March, I got my first COVID vaccine and did a ton of work. I did a lot of tutoring, started a TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] and IB [International Baccalaureate] courses to improve my resume and help me get hired [I’m also very passionate about those of these things], I painted my room, and got my first ever job offers and accepted my first ever full time big girl job at a private school in Chicago. I still want to work and live abroad but I’ll have to wait to have a bit more experience in my field for that to happen.
I got fully vaccinated in April and did a lot of dog sitting for the family I tutor. I also visited my sister in college and decided to plan a trip with her over the summer. We decided on the Pacific Northwest so I planned us a trip to Portland and Seattle during the month of May.
May was pretty simple. I traveled to Portland and Seattle with my sister and had so much fun. We drank tons of coffee, hiked a bunch, saw flowers and tons of wild life, and went to so many beautiful places. When I came home from my trip, I saw an apartment I absolutely loved with everything I needed: a dishwasher, parking, and pet friendly.
In June, I turned 24. I spent the weekend in Chicago with my sister, had cheesecake, got boba, and just hung out. It was a great and simple and I had a great day. I buckled down and started packing all my things to move into my new home. I started living on Facebook marketplace looking for furniture and décor for my home. My dog also got bit by another dog. She’s totally fine now but it was the longest day of my life. I ended June with a family trip to Wisconsin. Each summer, my dad’s side of the family rents a cabin [we now use my cousin’s home since she lives on a lake] and we play cards, golf, fish, hang out with dogs and babies, and spend time on the lake. I read a lot which was so nice to do.
Now we’re in July. All I’ve done is move into my apartment. It’s been a long process but I’m so glad to have an apartment I call home. J
Talk sooner rather than later
21 in 2021
As part of my Happiness Project [more to come on that soon], part of the first task was to make a list of 21 things to do in the year 2021. I’ve done these before but normally they were huge goals. This year, I’m making a list of 21 things that I would like to accomplish [big or small]. I’ll check back on this list at the end of 2021 or earlier if I happen to finish them before then. Here goes my 21 things to accomplish in 2021.
- Complete a workout program [any length, any kind, just complete it. Start to finish]
- Figure out what is wrong with my stomach and get It fixed [remove a food, try a new diet, etc.]
- Find a Workout class I enjoy
- Cook one new recipe a month
- Get the COVID vaccine
- Eat less ‘added’ sugar
- Stay sober
- Complete Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day Breathe Yoga Journey
- Read 20 books
- Practice self-care daily [workout, reading, face mask, cooking, etc.]
- Keep my social media hiatus until June [or longer]
- Meditate or do yoga for one hour per week
- Figure out my next move- Grad school, Peace Corps, teaching in America, teaching abroad – who knows?
- If I choose working… Get a job for the 2021-2022 school year.
- Blog 50 times
- Write 20,000 words in my novel
- Take a week-long vacation with my sister
- Visit one new country [COVID pending]
- Learn something new – Calligraphy, Crochet, How to Play piano – who knows?
- Pick my one-word theme for the year
- Replace an item with something that makes more ‘sense’ at the time
I like the last one the most. My goals might change over the year and that’s okay!!! So, if that happens, I get a freebie change to use however I see most fit. I’m also hoping to blog about each of these as they are completed and I will add a new tab on my blog called “Happiness Project” soon for all posts related to my happiness project.
2020 year in review
Hi all. While 2020 wasn’t anything like we’d expected [myself the least I think], I do think 2020 overall was a good year. While a lot of crap happened this year, a lot of good things happened as well. Of course, most of these from the comfort of my 8ft x 10ft bedroom, but good things, nonetheless.
I started off the year with a few of my best friends from high school, my first-time celebrating NYE at a bar… oh how I took that evening for granted. I also went on my first ever real date [sorry for ghosting you Adam but you only ever communicated over snapchat… big red flag for me] just before heading off to another country for another semester.
I spent my last semester of college completing my student teaching in Greece. Visiting other countries like Bulgaria, The Netherlands, and Belgium. I met some amazing people, Greek, American, Spanish, etc. while I was there. It was one of the best [and most eye-opening] experiences of my life. That of course got cut to an abrupt stop on a Thursday in March and I was then shipped back home after sobbing in the Thessaloniki airport when I thought there were no more flights back to America. Nonetheless, I made it back home, in one piece, and subsequently, I spent the next 9 months quarantining…
March, April, and May were spent by moping around, walking my dog, beating every video game I own, cleaning my room, graduating college [oh ou, oh yeah I forgot about this], and spending far too many hours scrolling through tik tok.
June and July were the first time I’ve seen real people since March [outside of my immediate family]. I celebrated my 23rd birthday with my parents and my sister at my favorite restaurant [thank god for it being on a corner and having outdoor seating] and then in July I visited some friends in Ohio and spent a week in Wisconsin at my cousin’s new home. July is also the last time I’ve had alcohol [and hopefully ever will].
August and September were a whirlwind of shipping my sister off to college, waiting for my visa for Spain to get approved, it finally getting approved, packing my life into a suitcase, duffle bag and my backpack until I finally left for Spain.
As we all know, October left me returning home from Spain for a multitude of personal reasons, which as much as I hate to admit, it was the best decision I could have made. October also consisted of me starting therapy and getting my first ever big girl job [Spanish Teacher at a K-12 school in Chicago]. I also deleted my social media which I still don’t use [and TikTok got the boot too].
November and December have been about getting into a routine of a 40 hour a week job while still taking time for myself and my growth. And now, here I am, sitting on my bed during my first vacation as a working adult, writing my first blog post in months.
2020 has been a year of personal growth, setting boundaries [for myself and others], and enjoying all of the little things.
I am hoping that 2021 is full of life, love, happiness, and goal achieving, no matter how big or small any of these are for me and for you.
See you all in 2021.
Orgain Protein Review
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to treat my body as best as I can because I’m trying to love myself and part of loving yourself comes from treating your body right. I’ve been trying to eat a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. However, as a vegan, it can be a little harder to get in all of my protein daily, so, I usually have a protein shake or smoothie after my workout each day. I’m also trying to eat less processed foods which, unfortunately, a lot of vegan meats are high in chemicals and words I don’t know so, I was stuck in a rut with my diet for quite a bit.
I’ve used quite a few vegan proteins in my day however, there were none that I ever loved [either the price or the flavor] until this summer. While scrolling through vegan protein recommendations on a blog I was reading in April, I discovered Orgain Protein. Orgain protein is very plant-heavy and doesn’t have the chemicals that other proteins I’ve had have.
I’ve been using this protein for about five months and have loved every product I’ve tried. From their protein shakes, powders, and bars, everything is good!
My biggest thing when it comes to protein is taste. A lot of proteins don’t taste good and it can still be tasted when added to food. I’ve put the powders in smoothies and oatmeal and to my surprise, it tastes good!!! Depending on what flavor I use [PB or chocolate fudge are the powders I’ve tried and keep coming back to] it adds to the food I put it in and you can taste the chocolate or peanut butter in the food I’m eating. I also enjoy drinking their protein shakes plain or in a fruit smoothie with granola after a workout.
My favorite thing about Orgain protein is that there are tons of flavors and options for products. I love their creamy chocolate protein shake and their peanut butter chocolate vegan protein powder. The biggest thing I love about these is that they are soy-free [my stomach does not tolerate soy which is why I’m opting to eat less soy in my diet].
Overall, if you’re looking for a protein, in whatever form, I would recommend Orgain.
I loved them enough to become an ambassador. If you decide to give Orgain a shot, you can use my code: LIVINGOFFLEESH30 for 30% off your first order [they even had nonvegan protein and collagen]
Why mental and spiritual health are just as important as physical health
I’ve become an absolute podcast fiend. I love having background noise in my life when doing mundane tasks like the dishes, cleaning, walking my dog, etc. and normally I would just play the TV. However, before I went to Spain, I started listening to podcasts regularly. I’ve learned so much from every episode and they’re so fun to listen to because it literally feels like you’re having a chat with the people on the podcast.
I’m a huge fan of The Health Code [Sarah’s Day and Kurt Tilse], A Whole Lotta BS [Brittney Saunders] and Let’s Do Life [Autumn Calabrese]. I also listened to part of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [read aloud by some of the cast including Tom Felton and Daniel Radcliffe!] but that’s not what this post is about.
In one of the podcast episodes [I can’t remember which because this was a BS-before Spain- podcast I listened to] they discussed that people often focus too much on physical health, or too much on spiritual health or emotional health and neglect the other two. You can’t have one without the others. This is why people who go really hard in the gym but have terrible mental health [me] aren’t quite content with the results they get. However, when you focus equal time and energy to all three, they all work together and you yourself come together in a more wholesome form than when you just focused on one. I have always advocated for all three [to my friends not to myself] and I realized that I mostly only focus on one, which always differs depending on what season of life I’m in.
My goal for the rest of the year is to pour an equal amount of time, effort, and energy into my physical, mental, and emotional health so that I can be more whole.
- In terms of physical health: filling my body with whole foods that make my body feel good [which unfortunately might mean cutting out soy partially because it doesn’t agree with my stomach], taking vitamins, and moving my body every day.
- As for mental health: my social media detox, therapy, reading, writing, and getting a job [to have something occupying my time] top this list.
- Finally, my spiritual health. I will be meditating, doing yoga, and journaling [manifesting]. I will also be more active in learning about my spiritual health. I recently have discovered that I’m more of a spiritual person. I always knew I wasn’t religious, but I think the universe plays a big role in everyone’s lives and I want to learn how to work with the universe not against it [something I’ve been doing for a while I think].
Please send me any and all podcast recommendations! I have a long way to go with the TBB podcast [there are over 200 episodes with each being roughly one hour long] but once I finish, I’m looking for some! I like more health and wellness focused podcasts but would be down for lifestyle, vegan, etc. As long as I learn at least one fun thing per episode that’s all I’m asking for.
Making oat milk
Happy Monday, as most of you know, I’ve been very much into sustainable living and all that jazz. One of the things that can help you be more sustainable is by making household products yourself. I’ve made soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. but I wanted to take a more foody approach this time so I made oat milk! You can make milk from anything these days but one of the most sustainable kinds of milk to drink is oat milk [it uses the least amount of water to make] and I had yet to find a brand or type I’ve enjoyed, so instead, I made my own. I scoured the internet for recipes and didn’t find one I particularly liked so in true Alicia fashion, I wung It and made my own recipe.
I wanted to share that this experience was far from the many photos I see on Instagram of people holding one of those antique milk jugs filled with oat milk and sipping away.
First and foremost, I would like to say that I would not recommend using a food processor. You HAVE to use a blender. I swear by my food processor and use it to make ice cream, smoothies, protein bars, etc. However, when it comes to blending liquid, do NOT use the food processor. I turned that bad boy on and there was oaty water all over the place. While my food processor is bigger than my blender, I should have just made multiple small batches in the blender rather than one big batch in my food processor because I wasted over half of it as it spewed all around my kitchen [and onto me].
Nevertheless, it did taste good and I’d make it again just in my blender because then hopefully the oats would grind up and mix in with the water a bit more than they did as well to make thicker and creamier oat milk [I want to put it in my coffee] which is what I was going for.
- 1 cup of oats [use more if you want it thick and creamy]
- 4 cups of water
- 2-3 pitted dates [depending on desired sweetness]
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla [I prefer my dairy-free milk to be vanilla flavored. If you don’t, you can omit this or add another flavor]
- Shirt or cheesecloth [I used a both in my process and found an old -but clean- shirt can be much more useful because no oats get through the shirt whereas when I used the cheesecloth, a little did get through]
- Jar [I used a quart ball jar]
- Place all food ingredients in the blender and blend until white.
- Add more oats or more water until you reach your desired consistency
- Place shirt or cheesecloth over the jar and slowly add milk onto the cheesecloth/shirt until there is no more liquid in your blender.
It’s quite simple [when you know what you’re doing] so I went through the troubles of being an idiot so you all don’t have to!
Have you ever made dairy-free milk? How did it go?
Why I’m taking a social media break
I’m officially back in America and readjusting to everything I just left. I’m unpacking, spending much needed time with my dog [I always forget how much of a de-stressor she is until I am so stressed out that I’m in tears] and I’m slowly getting into a routine.
Something that I think is so toxic to me at this point in my life is social media. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I’m a very black and white person so I’m either on social media for 1912912 hours a day or none at all. While I do enjoy Instagram for keeping up with my friends’ lives and Twitter is great for the news and a good laugh, I really can’t take it right now. I spend hours upon hours scrolling through social media and I really can’t stand it because it’s the biggest waste of time [I’m looking at you TikTok].
I’ve decided to take a bit of a social media hiatus [I’m keeping Snapchat for the time being because I don’t look at stories, I just send a picture or two to the same seven people every day and get on with my life but that might change… who knows? I’ll also keep TikTok because to me that’s not social media and I just watch Draco Malfoy, Harry Styles, and Robert Pattinson compilations so how bad is that? Both of these apps will be getting a screen time limit and the password will be chosen by my sister because it is far too easy to enter that screen time password and keep watching TikToks for hours upon hours not that I’m speaking from personal knowledge 😉 ]
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will be gone for a while. I did it almost four years ago for a whole summer and I think it was beneficial for my mental health. I also read and wrote a lot more, worked out more, was present, etc. I don’t think social media is the worst thing in the world by any means BUT I do think a hiatus can be an amazing thing every so often.
And of course, I’ll still be blogging as much as I can. I’m hoping therapy can spark a bit more motivation in me than what I’ve had.
Have you ever done a social media detox/hiatus? How’d it go?
Beginnings and Endings
Hi all. If you remember me talking about my BIG move to Spain to teach at a university here, well… it happened. I’m currently sitting in my Airbnb in Ciudad Real, Spain as I type this. I’ve been here for one week, and I’ve fallen in love with this city.
I’m not typing this post as means of a WOOHOO I’m in Spain… quite the latter. Unfortunately, I will be heading home. I don’t really want to get into why because I’ve been stressing for the past few days about it. I’m heading home and my life in Spain will have gone just as quickly as it came.
Although I’m very disheartened that this journey of mine is coming to a rather abrupt halt, I’m seeing the good in this whole situation and there are actually a lot of upsides to this situation I’ve found out.
- I get to see my dog on WEDNESDAY. She is going to be so confused as to why I cried about leaving her for over an hour [I spent almost every waking minute with her since I started quarantining on March 18th… give me a break] and now I’m home so quick.
- I get to see my aunt’s dog on Wednesday as well. My aunt got surgery and is going to be in rehab for about a month so until then, TWO dogs.
- I get to make more money than I would have while in Spain. No matter what I do, I’ll be making more money in America per paycheck than per month in Spain [not that I cared about that, I wanted this experience more than any amount of money].
- ~Hopefully~, I get to take a trip to Europe with my sister next summer. She’s always wanted to go to Paris, and I have a hankering to go to London and all of the UK, so hopefully, we’ll be able to head over there for a few weeks. We can take the HARRY POTTER tour, go to Harry Styles’ bakery, and see the Louvre. Also, she’s my personal photographer so the Instagram content from that trip would be AMAZING.
- I get to VOTE. I left for Spain before early voting started in my county and I was unsure if my mail-in ballot would make it to Spain and back to America in time once I got my address. However, when I get home, I’ll head straight to the early voting polls and get to ~hopefully~ vote out 45.
- I am going to be able to focus on me. I probably won’t be able to get a full-time teaching job [since the semester is halfway over] nor do I want one in the condition America is in right now as to not risk getting COVID in a room with 25 germ spreaders. I’ll probably find something part-time [retail, babysitting /e-learning help, substitute teaching, etc.] and I will have plenty of time to take care of myself. I will be going to therapy [probably twice per week to start], exercising, eating right, reading, writing, and doing everything that I love.
- I might write a novel! I have always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo and because COVID will most likely still be terrorizing America next month, I should have enough time to do it. I also have a great idea [or at least I think I do] so once I create some characters, figure out the rest of the plot, etc. NaNoWriMo here I come.
Finally, while talking to my sister last night [amidst my mental breakdown from this hectic week I’ve had] and she said I looked sad and emotionally drained. Honestly, I am. I don’t think it’s just from this week but from everything built up that I’m finally starting to recognize. It’s very easy to put your mental health off in college because it’s “cute and quirky” to be depressed and to be anxious and to be so stressed you cry. When you’ve graduated… girl, go to therapy. Also, this past week I’ve been alone most of the time. COVID is preventing me from going out and meeting people and every ‘tourist’ activity I want to do is also closed so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my hotel room, pent up with just my thoughts. And let me tell you, my brain needs a lot of help at the moment. I love traveling but my sister told me that I use traveling to put off getting mental help. It’s true [I hate it when little siblings are correct]. I live off that travel high long after I return and when I get back into my head aging, away I go on a new trip. So, while I wish I could have been living in Spain and working on me, I think for myself [present and future] I’m going to benefit the most from being home for the foreseeable future.
I think I’m meant to live in Spain for an extended period… I do. However, this year just isn’t it. I will return one day to Spain but it might not be this year or even next year. Whether I return to Spain as a tourist or to teach again, I know I’ll be back one day. J
España, te quiero mucho y regresaré un día.
My flight essentials
Happy Tuesday. Now I know most of us aren’t doing much [if any] travel these days, so keep this bad boy saved for when you’re flying next. I, however, will be making another trip to Spain in the coming weeks. I was originally supposed to leave in six days, however, my visa has still yet to be approved so I’ll be heading there before the end of the month if plan B goes smoothly.
Something I’ve become quite good at is flying. I’ve loved flying ever since I was little, however, when I first started solo traveling [flying to and from San Diego when this blog was just a baby] I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I would bring so much stuff in my carry on “just in case” that I never ended up using // needing. After 20 or more [ I have no idea if I’m being honest] solo flights around the US, South America, and Europe, I’ve come to know what things are essential for your flight and what can stay at home or in your checked baggage. Here are my top 5 carry on flight essentials.
- Snacks – This will forever and always be my #1 flight essential. I’m going to count gum in this category too because I cannot and will not fly without a pack of gum for take-off and landing. For super long overseas flights or for flights with layovers, bringing snacks from home is always the better and cheaper option. Food and drinks in airports are EXPENSIVE and depending on the country’s exchange rate, just not even worth it. Because of this, I always bring an empty water bottle [to fill up after security] and a few snacks [some sweet, some savory] such as dried fruit, nuts, crackers, etc. anything to fill me up and get me to where I’m going. I find that when you have dietary restrictions such as myself, it’s even more important that you bring these on flight snacks. Just because they offer a vegan or gluten free or whatever meal option, does, BY NO MEANS, mean it will be a good one.
- Chargers – My favorite thing about longer flights is that they normally have a charging port on the seat back in front of you. My flight to Greece was 11 hours and I’m stupid and forgot to check in 24 hours in advance which meant a middle seat for me. It was miserable and I couldn’t get comfortable enough to take a nap. Therefore, I spent the 11 hours watching 6 movies, playing games on my phone, listening to music etc. When I switched my time to watching movies, I plugged in my phone so that it wouldn’t die during my layover or before I got to my new apartment.
- A book // E-reader – Not everyone loves reading on airplanes, but I personally do. I try to grab my computer and write on flights normally but not all planes have enough room to have a laptop out and elbows jabbing when you’re typing. I always carry a book in my bag for those tight spaces on airplanes and when you can’t get Wi-Fi at your layover airport [or if you have a 4-hour layover and only are allowed 1 hour of Wi-Fi … thanks Istanbul]
- Headphones – A lot of longer flights will gives you headphones to watch movies, listen to music, etc. They almost always suck. I always bring two pairs of headphones [my AirPods for my phone and a pair that works for the traditional headphone jack] so that I can enjoy movies on the plane and have headphones that I can actually hear out of both sides.
- A ‘just in case’ bag – this is 100% the most important in my opinion. The last thing you want to happen is for your luggage to get lost and you’re without a toothbrush, underwear, or deodorant. In my carry on, I always carry a bag of miscellaneous items I might need on the flight or after if my luggage is lost. This usually consists of: a hairbrush, bobby pins, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, travel shampoo + conditioner, tissues, soap, lotion, hair ties, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, etc. I then have an extra outfit [usually just bra, underwear, socks, t shirt and leggings] in case something happens to the clothes I’m wearing, or my luggage gets misplaced.
Obviously, each person’s carry on will depend on you and your interests, but I have to think that these items are pretty much universal, and anyone can and will need one or all of these at some point while travelling.
If we were having coffee
Long time no write – my favorite phrase. It’s been about two and a half months since I’ve sat at my computer and written. My laptop crapped out on me in February amidst my hardest assignment I’ve ever had to complete in order to graduate college and get my teaching license. The keyboard stopped working [I realized right after purchasing my new one that I needed a new battery] and I had to connect a mouse and keyboard to get the computer to work so basically it was just a desktop computer. Nothing wrong with a desktop, however, my favorite blogging spot is at the corner of the couch with a cup of coffee on the table next to me and a movie on the TV for background noise. That was difficult with my previous set up. Now, I’ve got my brand new computer and I’m ready to get back into writing. So, grab your cup of coffee and let’s chat about my summer.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about how I’m still [hopefully] headed to Spain. I’ve submitted everything necessary for my visa application and now it’s just a waiting game. As long as everything goes as planned and my visa gets approved, I’ll be heading to Ciudad Real, Spain on September 14th to teach !!!!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how my sister went away to college! We moved her in about two and a half weeks ago at Southern Illinois University and then I got to visit her this past Friday! She’s doing so well there and college was just what she needed.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve still been quarantining for the most part. I’ve seen a few friends but I’m keeping my circle small and not risking a thing because I know [and no one else seems to] that there is still a pandemic going on.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I visited my friends in Ohio for my friend Grace’s 21st birthday. We went back to my college town and kept to ourselves, spending much of our time in our hotel rooms, playing cards, and just enjoying everyone’s company. It was great to see them all but that drive wasn’t fun.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my family and I spent a week in northern Wisconsin at my cousin’s home. Every year we used to go to Kentucky for a week of fishing, swimming, card playing, sun burning, and just to spend time with each other. Because of COVID, we had to adjust and spent the week at my cousin’s home. We got to celebrate the graduation of my sister from high school, me and my cousin from college, and my cousin’s husband from his surgical residency! It was tons of fun to get some sun, read, check out a new little town, and get in some much-needed baby and dog time!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve been consistently working out and eating right pretty much all summer. I’m feeling really great and this little bit of consistency in my life has made these uncertainties of quarantine and COVID a little easier. I also recently downloaded Nike Run Club and I’m going to try and get into running! If any of you runners have any tips for beginners, please let me know!
What has happened during your summer?