Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Finding Wisdom in the Smallest Ways

After my last rant about the late 20's, it almost seemed natural and coincidental that I got a sign from the wrapper of my Dove chocolate mint swirl "Smooth Promises" candy.

Just when you start to not believe in subliminal messaging, you get a little piece of wisdom in the smallest package (not to mention less of a guilt trip from eating several pieces). Dove did a hell of a job with this marketing plan, because it got me to reflect on my life. "Keep the promises you make to yourself." It seems like after the day is over, work is put on an overnight pause, and family life is winding down, we seem to often forget about ourselves. The promises that we make for our own well-being are put on hold when other life factors get in the way. What promises have I made to myself over the past year? Have I stayed true to them?

I have to remind myself that promises don't necessarily have to be goals, like "I want to keep those last ten pounds off" or "I need to be more patient with my husband." They can come in many different shapes and forms. Some of my biggest promises are to stay true to myself and my beliefs while still having the ability to keep an open mind. I promise to be there for my husband and family in the toughest of times. I promise not to give up on my dreams to grow and be successful in my career. I promise that I will strive to learn from others even when I may not agree. And most of all, I promise to never neglect how I feel.

So as I walked over to the kitchen to throw out the crumpled piece of foil, I not only felt wiser, but a little more satisfied with my day. We can find motivation from the littlest things, as long as we don't overlook them.

Monday, July 28, 2014

What's So Bad About the Late 20's?

I was skimming through my August '14 edition of Elle when I came across an article about a woman in her thirties. She forced a few friends to come over and throw out her 20-something-year-old odd clothing because she felt like it no longer suited her age. Before I got any farther in the article I thought, "Is this what I would soon be approaching? Should I dress more for my age? Do I act my own age, and if I don't, should I?" I'm only 27 after all - and then it hit me. I'm 20-freaking-seven. Every day creeps by and every day I slowly inch my way closer to 30.

There are so many milestones we hit in our lives: the legal driving age, the legal age to drink, and then what? All the rest of the milestones we pretty much make up in our heads. Things that we think are achievements, places we'd like to be once we hit a certain age, the people we aspire to be. Did I ever think I would be married at 26? Hell no - if you asked my 22 year-old self where I thought I would be, I probably wouldn't have much of a clue. And definitely not married. I guess the world works in mysterious ways and when you least expect it, something good will happen. But as I digress, I would still like to keep in mind that we weave this path in our minds that we try to live up to.

When I hit 25 I thought, damn I am really old. A quarter of a century after all. Ha! Life was only beginning. I was 25 when I got engaged, does that count? I'd like to think so, because I knew who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Fast forward another year and I am married at 26 (queue the music for the new milestone). And Daa-da-daa! Here we are approaching our 1-year anniversary at my fabulous age of 27. My three-years-away from being 30 age.

Looking back at the Elle article, I can't help but think that the author possibly just wanted a fresh start to her life. Maybe she went through a lot in her 20's and had a phase of a wild streak. Maybe she thought that she couldn't justify her binges at Forever 21 and arguing that it is OK to dress like a college girl going out on a Thursday night. Regardless, we need to stop looking at our lives that we have to be somewhere by a certain age. We can choose our own path, regardless of which step we take or whether we take the long or short route. I'm 27 and my Facebook page is now a wedding and baby feed. What once used to be a timeline of parties, funnels, and dancing on bars is now consumed with gowns, mini-me's, houses - I could go on and on. But this is the next phase of life. I have accepted that, and even though I'm getting closer to a new decade, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the tail end of my 20's.

One of the first weddings of my friends that we attended - definitely not the last! It's only the beginning..

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life's a Beach

Where did the weekend go? Monday came and gone and next thing I knew I was back in the car headed north on the parkway. Four days with my family just wasn't enough, I felt bad leaving them. But another summer at the Jersey Shore was exactly what I needed.

Here's a quick recap of accomplishments from my activity list that I planned out on Friday. I must say I am proud that I hit a majority of them!

To-Do List
1. Exercise - My mom and I ended up playing tennis Friday morning. I keep telling everyone and I have to note here. My mom is much better than she leads you to believe! The woman can hang! I think I sweat more from that amount of hustle than I do when I'm running. On top of one morning of tennis, I ran Saturday and Sunday for about 2-2.5 miles/day.
2. Beach - Friday and Monday were definitely the best sun days, but we still made the effort the rest of the weekend.
3. Finish reading a book - Success here! Although I didn't start a new one, I at least managed to finish the one I have been reading for several months now.
4. Mini Golf - No-go here. We thought about it a few times but never made it to the course. I hope I didn't disappoint my brother too much.
5. Boardwalk - Drove by it a few times, but for the weekend it is tough with the crowd. There is always next year!
6. Family - This whole trip wouldn't have been anything without my family. After living away for so long, you seem to forget how nice it is to all be under the same roof. I wish I was still there with them for the rest of the week, but making the best of what we had was all that mattered.

I can't leave this post without a picture of the beach - and even though it is literally the only photo I took, it takes me back to the place where I was sitting in the sand. It will always be there for me when I return.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekend at the Jersey Shore

This time of year always brings back memories for me - I could practically  hear the music at the boardwalk as I drove down last night and saw the skyline ahead of me with the ferris wheel. Every year of my life (minus the year we were planning the wedding), we head down as a family to Wildwood Crest, NJ to take our annual vacation at the shore. I hit way too much traffic when I left work, but the 3 1/2 hours spent in the car was well worth because now I am here!

It was a little strange coming down without my husband. We do everything together and knowing that he couldn't come down this year is definitely a bummer. Sometimes work has to take a priority and I respect that. We of course are already texting this morning as I am typing this post. Funny thing is we both had nightmares! I guess that's what happens when we're not together.

Some activities I have in store for the weekend:
1. I'll get the boring one out of the way first - definitely need to exercise. I have just about four days down here. If I can run/exercise two out of the four days that will be an achievement. I also brought down my tennis rackets since my mom is quite the player.
2. Beach don't kill my vibe - hopefully majority of my days will be spent along the water, toes in the sand. The weather is supposed to be beautiful (and not as hot/humid as it's been).
3. Finish reading a book - and hopefully start a new one. All of my friends at work say how amazing Gone Girl is, but I need to finish what I started. Lucky for me, I brought the Kindle.
4. Mini Golf - A few weeks ago I schooled my brother and husband in a neck-to-neck battle of mini-golf. I'm sure he'll be back for a vengeance!
5. Boardwalk - I haven't been on rides in ages, so it would be nice to do a family trip at night to Morey's Pier. I also want to rent bikes to ride on the boardwalk in the morning. It's a great form of exercise and you get to see all the crazy people already out and about.
6. Last but not least - spend time with my family. If my older sister comes down, it will be the first time in years that all six of us will be under the same roof overnight.

The best part about this place is being with my family. It has been an annual tradition to come down, and now with my cousins, aunt, and uncle on the way it will be like old times. It makes me get excited for what the future will bring when Jay and I decide to start having kids. I want this to be a tradition for them because I always looked forward to it every year growing up.

I'll try to take pictures along the way - I hope everyone has a great weekend and hopefully I will go back up north with more memories and a nice bronzed glow. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog love to SolelyMer

I was excited to see a new header pop up on my feed for the Bloglovin Awards 2014. Being new to the scene, I am always searching for fashion and beauty experts. I knew I had my sister at my fingertips, but little did I know how much she would grow creating her blog SolelyMer.

Meredith is not only my sister - I seek her approval in almost all of my fashion and makeup choices. She has an instinctual sense of navigating through a lot of the clutter we see in the fashion world. She can keep up with the trends, but also creates new ones. Her uniqueness and conversational layout of her blog is what tunes me in every morning.

I also appreciate that she brings it down to Earth - she finds products and pieces that are not only stylish, but affordable. We all want the newest and best of everything, but sometimes it comes down to the cost. Meredith offers budget-friendly options that still can make us look like millionaires.

And so as my eyes caught the blue awards header, it was a no-brainer for me to select SolelyMer as Best Beauty Blog and Newcomer of the Year. She was my inspiration to let go of my own fears and put myself out there on a blog. Although Meredith is my younger sister, she sure doesn't seem like one. She is a best friend, a support system, and one of the most influential people in my life. If you haven't done so already, please check out her blog and see for yourself. I am so proud of her and can't wait to see what she has left in store for 2014.

Meredith is the beautiful young woman on the right. People used to say we look like twins - but she definitely got the better genes ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Rocky Review

Is it possible to take a simple-minded, gritty boxer and throw him onto a theatrical stage in song and dance? I'm no critic, but Rocky on Broadway was a decent attempt to accomplish just that. I'm not saying it is the next Les Miserables, but the show incorporated new on-stage elements and it was a treat to do something different as a couple.

This excursion was Jay's birthday gift - I bought two tickets to the Winter Garden Theater located in New York City so we could witness this new Broadway show. There has been quite a buzz and since the Rocky series is his all-time favorite (and ultimate motto in life), I decided to be the hero for the weekend. The streets were packed at 7:30 on a Saturday night, but we were refreshingly blessed with the lack of humidity - especially for this time of year in the Urban Jungle! 

There was an immediate hype in the air as you strolled up to the entrance. Whose eyes could neglect the big red lettering? With no true background on the show, we wondered which movie the play would be about. A compilation of the entire series? A focus on just the original? Honestly, I had idea what to expect. They finally started to let us in and we took our seats. 

Of course I chose the aisle seats for Jay's sake. There is something about men insisting to be on the aisle, as if they feel the need to escape! Jay gets a little anxious the deeper we are inside a row and I myself now prefer the convenience and freedom of the aisle. You never know what you may need or when you may want to get out. I am so thankful that we did, because the woman next to me was a drunk. She was by herself and double-fisting 20 oz. cups of beer. 

We realized right away that the show was a re-creation of the first movie. It started off slow as we watched this dopey fighter court the shy pet shop girl. Actually, the first half inched along somewhat at a snails pace. If it wasn't for the singing of the actress played by Adrian, I would have been mesmerized by the moth clinging to the stage light. Rocky's accent was also a little distracting. Back in my college days, I definitely could have drank myself stupid if I drank a shot every time he said "Yo, Adrian." Maybe then I would have been on the same level as my drunken pal to the right. But wait, she was too busy bending over in her seat and writing in her Harriet the Spy notebook. And I'm not joking - this woman probably caught a total of 30 minutes of the whole show.

We prepared ourselves for the second act as intermission came to an end. We sat back down and hoped that the show would take an exciting turn. To my relief, Rocky redeemed our attention as the training montage began. And as you started to prepare for the main fight, the crowd sitting in the "Golden Circle" was escorted to the stage for the final scene! We knew there was something special about those tickets, but it wasn't evident until they got in the bleachers and the boxing ring actually hovered over their rows. A jumbo-tron came down and we felt like we were at the Spectrum in Philly. The final scene and contention between Rocky and Apollo was about to begin, and you almost felt like you were at a real boxing match. They even used fake blood in the battle throughout the rounds. 

We obviously know how this ends - even though Apollo wins the fight, Rocky still wins the girl. All is right in the world again. And Jay and I talked about it for the rest of the night. We were pleased overall with the performance and I think this whole adventure sparked our interest to try more Broadway shows together. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weight Watchers: Fitting the Wifestyle

I was never the skinniest kid growing up. In fact, there were times I remember being made fun of for being chubby. I grew out of it as my body matured, but it was never easy listening to 12 year-old boys tease, "Melissa Solimine can't wear a bikini."

Being an athlete was my best life decision as a young adult because I was literally forced to exercise. Ballet, gymnastics, soccer, softball, volleyball, track - you name it, I tried it all. Maintaining a healthy weight was not a challenge since I was burning hundreds of calories a day - and yet could eat a little more than the average person.

College eagerly approached and the forced physical activity came to a halt. I realized I needed to push myself and make the time or else I would lose my athletic build. Trips to the gym were daily, but a nutritious and fit lifestyle in college was practically impossible. I despised the cafeteria food so I had to find other options. And who could neglect the 3-5 night drinking binge that always led to late-night snacks? I swear I woke up one morning junior year, stepped on the scale,  and stunned myself as I had gained a whopping 30 pounds since freshman year.

My turning point is an embarrassing story that I now use as a motivating factor and reminder of why I started my Weight Watchers journey - I was at a house party and remembered my friends and I had our own stash of beer at our apartment. I began walking down the hill of the complex to pick up the secret 30-pack. There was a group of guys at the corner of our turn that were yelling over at me to come by. I tried to ignore it, but as I got closer one of the boys turned to his friend, laughed and said, "Nevermind, she's fat!" Was my 30 pounds really that noticable? After hearing this (and already being several drinks deep), I went back to the apartment sobbing, made sunny-side up eggs and toast, and swore to myself that tomorrow things would change. And this vow to myself began my path to weight loss.

But how would I lose this weight? I always read in magazines success stories of young women like myself joining Weight Watchers. My Grandma had all of the books and nutrition information, so I figured why not give it a shot for free? I began writing down my points each day in a notebook. It definitely wasn't the easiest decision - I was often tempted by my surroundings and getting used to a new diet can be a difficult transition. I stuck with it as best as I could and by the end of senior year, I was able to drop 10 pounds. It wasn't until after I graduated that I was really able to get on track.

I made the adult decision to purchase the mobile app about two years ago and I have never turned back. I think knowing that I pay $18.95 a month, pushes me to want to do better. You don't want to feel like a failure when you're paying for something. It is also very easy to stay on track when you have the access at your fingertips to track each day. Most foods are easy to search and the app is very simple in general. There are also great recipes where you wouldn't even realize they are Weight Watchers friendly. I search the recipe library on a weekly basis and have found some staple favorites that I cook almost every week.

I am not going to lie, there are times when I don't track every single piece of food I consume, especially on the weekends. But when I step on the scale every Wednesday morning, I have to hold myself accountable and if I gain a few, I just remind myself of my goals and that I can turn it around if I just stick to the plan.

It has been a grand total of five years out of college and I have been able to stay at a normal 133-135 pounds. We all fluctuate with water retention, PMS, and life in general gets in the way. Birthdays and weddings, restaurants and happy hours - you have to live and enjoy your life. The best part about Weight Watchers is that you can essentially eat whatever you want, as long as it's in moderation. I can still eat the cake-batter ice cream cake on my Mom's birthday - I just have to keep in mind my priorities and make up for it later in the tracking week.

I would recommend Weight Watchers to anyone who doesn't want to cut certain foods completely out of their diet. Man or woman, we can all do it as long as we keep the drive to stick to it.

Below are my before and after pictures - I use these if I feel like I'm slipping. I know where I was and I never want to go back there again.

This picture is me junior year - probably at my heaviest 160 lbs (don't mind the outfit, it was an "anything but clothes" party. I was literally wearing a pillow case and Christmas ribbon as a belt).

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago at my grandparents anniversary party. Since joining Weight Watchers, I have been able to maintain around 130-135 pounds (the fluctuation is normal and changes depending on my exercise regimen).  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom

I can't count the amount of times growing up where I said, "I'm never going to be like my parents." As kids, we always think we're right - that our parents don't know what's best for us. If I ended up the total opposite of my mom, I would have been a waste of life. My mom is not simply a mother - she is a role model, the definition of strength, the kindest most loving woman I've ever known, and most of all, a best friend.

She is beautiful on the inside and out. She has the patience of a saint and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She would do anything for her husband, daughters, and son. I most admire her selflessness - she puts her family first no matter what the circumstance.

I would be a fool to not want to be like her. She is the ideal example of what a wife and mother should be. So without further ado, I want to wish my mom the happiest of birthdays today. Mom - You were right all along and I want to thank you for always being my guiding force. I'm honored to have you in my life. I love you, Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ten Months Today

Today marks ten months of marriage for Jay and I. Before getting married, I thought it was pretty ridiculous that newlyweds counted every month as a milestone until hitting a year. Only one year of life has passed us by, just like any other year. And yet we make it seem like this massive accomplishment to showcase to our social media network.

But the truth is (and I never knew this until experiencing it myself) - it's no longer one year of your life. The term "your" has evolved by removing the letter "y" and becoming our. All of our decisions revolve around the one person you love, life is no longer just about you. Things you used to see as a priority no longer come first. You put your husband (or wife) before anything and anyone else. Your life would not exist without your other half.

I want to dedicate this post to all the newlyweds out there and to anyone who has met a milestone in their lives. No matter how big or how small, one month or ten months - or any amount of time for that matter - we should all be proud of the lives we have set forth for ourselves. I believe that there is a soulmate meant for every being. And nothing is ever easy - marriage has helped me face some of my biggest challenges in life. But would I trade it for the world? Never. Because I found that one person that makes me feel complete. And I wish with all my heart that every man and woman on this planet gets the chance to experience that.

Happy Ten Months, Jay. We're getting so close to a year, love you!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Project Winebar

With limited space in an apartment, picking out the right furniture can become a challenge. Utilize without clutter is my motto - however it is easier said than done. Over the years we acquire more stuff that we of course never want to throw out. For example, Jay and I had been saving this plain wooden wine rack from his bachelor pad in the city. We dragged it along with us to Buffalo and two and a half years later, brought it back to Jersey. And it sat like an eyesore in the corner nook of our family room/dining room duo for over five months. It was time to swallow our hoarding pride and purchase some sort of bar.

We looked online everywhere and practically wanted to cry when we saw how much it would cost us. All we needed was something tall and narrow to fit in the limited corner space. We found a great deal on for the below wine bar - it met all our dimension standards and only ran us up $250.

Normally I am a huge advocate in the online shopping world, but after this experience I will probably never buy from Overstock again. We were surprisingly disappointed when the first attempt came in damaged. Wood was chipped off in several places that we would not be able to hide after assembling (which I wasn't looking forward to either). It looked cheap and there was no way we were keeping it in this state. We asked for a new one to be shipped. Again, to my dismay the second one also came in wrecked. We gave up on Overstock and ended up throwing them both out - with full refund thankfully. The search continued.

Realizing that maybe we need to pay more for higher quality, we invested in a Pottery Barn catalog. I fell in love with this piece, but it would cost over $500. That amount of money was double our budget and we began to wonder what our alternatives could be. Then the light bulb went off - what if we made one?

We drafted up a sketch of the ideal bar, which became a combination of the Overstock Wreck and the Pricey Pottery Barn pieces. Jay assured me that he could do it (with the help of my Dad's tools), and we were well on our way to The Home Depot. 

After all was said and done, the wood, crown molding (for the aesthetic appeal), stain, brushes, and sandpaper cost us a grand total of $200. It took us several weeks to make since we really only had spare time on the weekends. And this was not a one person job (considering I was only of use during the staining). I have to thank my dad for taking the time and effort in collaboration with Jay - he could not have built this in under a month on his own. 

We were even able to salvage the plain wine grid from the beginning of the story. After giving it a few coats of stain, all we had to do was slide it in the bottom, and that third of the bar became our shelving for bottles.

Here's how it looked in the beginning, the middle, and finally the finished product. Jay could not be prouder of his work and we realized that with a little time, patience, and drive, we could make exactly what we wanted.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is Jay's birthday - it literally is his favorite day of the year. When he was little his parents told him that the fireworks were always for him (and he of course believed them). It must be pretty cool to always have the day off after your birthday nonetheless!

I want to dedicate this post to him because he deserves the world on his special day. I cannot wait to celebrate with our family and friends all weekend long. It was hard enough not to tell him what his presents were (I'm not the best at keeping secrets), but when I saw excitement beam off his face it was well worth it.

My main gift to Jay is two tickets to see Rocky on Broadway. It is Jay's favorite tale as he lives his life in the "Eye of the Tiger." We'll be heading into the city next Saturday (7/12) for the 8pm show. Groupon was running a great deal so I was able to get amazing seats in the Orchestra level on the aisle!

With all my heart, I would like to wish Jay the happiest of birthdays. This is his first as a husband and I'm eager to see what the future has in store for us! Jay - I love you with all my heart!

"All your strength, all your power, all your love. Everything you've got. Right now!"

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Setting the Barre

Most of us grew up watching our mom's exercise in the middle of the family room using Jane Fonda or Buns of Steel tapes. I am guilty of trying them myself after following the example -  sometimes it's just more convenient to workout in the privacy of our own homes. My mom has always been in amazing shape, even after four babies so I've always had the mentality to be like her. She really sets the "barre" high.

We are always on the search for the next big diet craze or fitness regimen that promises "lose 5 inches in 5 days!" or something so outlandish we wonder how it could be possible. The reality is most are too good to be true. But I have found one DVD program that I have been using for almost two months now and I have noticed a change in the way my clothes fit. It's not Insanity or T25, and it's definitely not Buns of Steel. Physique 57 is a barre-based workout that combines elements of ballet, interval training, cardio, and stretching. The longest session is 57 minutes (hence the name), but there are also additional 30-minute segments that target specific areas of the body. I bought my collection from Amazon for $50, which came with a mini stability ball and three DVDs:

1. Classic Full Body - 57 minutes
2. Arm & Ab Booster - 30 minutes
3. Express 30 Minute Full Body

The only other things you need are a stable chair to lean on (the actual barre can be a little pricey), a light set of weights (3-5 lbs) and a heavier set (5-7 lbs). Right now I am using 3 lbs and 5 lbs and trying to work up my strength. I try to alternate the DVD's 3-4 days a week, making sure at least one workout is the Classic 57. They encourage you to do it everyday, but sometimes an hour is too much. That's when I turn to those 30 minute blasters after a long day at work. And don't worry - they are still just as challenging!

The story behind Physique 57 is interesting too, because it stemmed from a barre studio and the Lotte Berk method (using ballet/stretching as a form of rehabilitation). It has gained a large following and the original studio is located in NYC (57th Street). 

If you want to see more about their story, check out this link:

I am going to make a personal commitment to this series for the rest of the summer (maybe beyond). I will also share my results and maybe some before and after pics if I am gutsy enough :)

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