In middle and high school, volunteering my time was second nature. Between Honor Society’s mandatory hours, Girl Scouts and helping in Mom’s classroom, I spent a lot of my time assisting others.
My first three years of college, I gave back through Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a national organization that raises dogs to assist those who are blind or have visual impairments. They also have an autism support program and dogs who are not suited to guide work often serve as police dogs.
After leaving this organization during senior year, I was no longer volunteering my time to a cause I felt strongly about. I was able to let this slide during my last two semesters, constantly reminding myself that I was busy and needed to focus on myself. That was okay, but there was definitely a hole in my life.
As a member of corporate America, I often lack the feeling that my job makes a difference, accentuating my belief that I need to revisit the idea of taking time to give back.
Last weekend I spent one morning helping at our church’s annual rummage sale, packing leftover clothes and dishes for missionaries. It felt good. The time away from volunteering made me appreciate so much more how important giving my time is.
September is a time of new beginnings, and this September I am committing to sharing my time and talents with organizations I am passionate about. My goal is to be spending one day a month taking the time to give back. I’m looking forward to the next day I spend helping others!
Sometimes rain can put a damper on the day, sometimes is makes everything around you even more beautiful.
My relationship with food is a healthy one. I love fruits and veggies; shopping at the farmers’ market and contributing to the local food cycle is one of my favorite parts of summer. Bread is one of my favorite foods, and I love The Bread Basket‘s cranberry walnut boules. I am very much an omnivore; while I love meat, a vegetarian or vegan recipe doesn’t scare me. My diet is balanced, but my weakness is definitely ice cream, especially Lake Effect‘s!
Now that you know a little bit about how I eat, here are my favorite warm-weather recipes:
- Grilled Zucchini: There’s no recipe for this one, just add olive oil, salt and pepper to sliced zucchini and throw it on the grill. So good!
- Oh She Glow‘s Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce: To be fair, I’ve never tried the Orange-Maple Miso version of this recipe. But why would you, because this peanut sauce is absolutely amazing. Get the recipe here.
- Inspiralized‘s Pesto: This pesto is so easy and we’ve made it twice this summer with basil from our garden. A version similar to our favorite is located here.
- Cucumber Salad: We have cucumbers growing out of our ears, so we eat this salad of cucumbers, red onions and dill constantly.
- Cowboy Caviar: Any combination of beans, corn and cilantro is going to be amazing with tortilla chips. I could make this for lunch everyday and be pretty content! Here’s a great version.
What recipes do you make over and over when the days get longer and the grill comes out? Let me know so I can love them too!
Cody loves Allegany State Park and I have been tagging along on his camping trips there the last few years. I love that it’s only two hours from home, but it seems like a world away. There’s no Verizon service at the campsites, and it’s spotty elsewhere, which makes the park a wonderful place to unplug. We’ve spent weekends with friends, his family and just the two of us. No matter who you’re with, there are a few requirements for the perfect quick trip:
#1. Hobo Pies: My favorite pie iron creations are pizza pockets and Cody’s family’s “Circle Sandwiches,” which are chocolate, peanut butter and a marshmallow melted over the fire between two pieces of white bread.
#2. Biking around the Lake: The three mile trail around Red House Lake has a picturesque view no matter where you are. There are plenty of off-shoots for more adventure, but passing the Ad Building, the beach, an old ski jump and a boat launch is enough on it’s own.
#3. Kayaking: This is definitely a summer-only Allegany activity, but it’s so much fun to be out on the lake, surrounded by the hills you just biked over.
#4. Deer Crusing: Watching wildlife just after dusk is a cool experience. On our last trip, we saw more than 25 deer, a raccoon, an opossum and a stunning red fox.
#5. Thunder Rocks: There is only one big rock I can climb, but watching both people and dogs scramble over these massive boulders deposited here by an ancient sea is tons of fun!
This weekend was full of family; we celebrated the approaching arrival of a new baby with my dad’s family, and then were on our way to my mom’s family’s annual gathering.
My mom’s parents grew up in northern New Jersey, a beautiful collection of lakes, mountains and green pasture. We filled the cozy grey day with delicious food, new calves, catching up and reminiscing. Just like every year, we spent hours flipping through photo albums full of my grandparents’ generation’s childhood memories and wedding photos.
It’s so important to me to know where I came from, to see the places that my Ownmom and Papa Joe spent their childhood and brought their own kids back to. I love the old photos, newspaper clippings and handwritten notes that were so important to past generations. I cherish the chance to celebrate these places, people and things with my family every year.
Instagram is, without a doubt, my favorite social media platform. My feed is a constant source of food, travel, decor and fashion inspiration. Take a look at my favorite Instagramers, and let me know who you’re loving at the moment!
1. New York Explored: There is so much beauty across this state, and this account wants you to know about it.
2. Ithaca College: I may be biased, but Ithaca College is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been, and Instagram is a great place to share that beauty. The college’s Instagram takeovers featured some of the school’s cutest students too.
3. Kurt Ross: This local photographer is one of my newer Instagram obsessions, but how could you not love these photos?
4. Bre’an Angell: I had the pleasure of going to high school with Bre’an and I was always copying her gorgeous typography and admiring her paintings in the art room. Her Instagram account is a stunning collection of muted landscapes, interior design and family.
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"Embrace the glorious mess that you are" a phrase that hit me like an oncoming train, with timing so precise it could not have been coincidence. For the last two years I've chosen a word to reflect on, to hone in & expand my goals. This year is about embracing, loving every inch of my skin, being more present, more aware of what is happening right in front of me, embracing the tangible, the truth, and the imperfect glorious mess that is life. It's less about control, and more about compassion. It's embracing others faults, and simply giving them love because I too am a flawed human being who understands the importance of true friendship & the worth of compassion. Holding my loved ones a little tighter, and making new friends along the way. It's embracing the possibilities and making them happen. It's embracing my fears, giving life and my creativity everything I have to offer. This year will be embraced, and cherished like none other before, I can promise you that. #onelittleword #lizgilbert #letterfolkquotes #boardyourwalls #intentionalliving #darlingweekend
5. Ballerina Project: This collection of photographs from all over the world features beautiful dancers in gorgeous settings captured by talented photographers.
6. Pantone: This is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I love it. And the colors are just amazing, of course.
7. Sara White: If I could go to Italy tomorrow, I would, thanks to Sara.
8. Kate White: I lived with Kate for a summer, and yes she really is that pretty in person, and yes her life is as cool as it seems.
9. Capture Buffalo: The city I call home is also home to stunning architecture and water views. This account sums all the gorgeousness up so nicely by sharing others’ photography.
11. Christopher Hyzy: This guy’s drone footage of Buffalo is unreal, and I’ve already asked him if I can buy prints of his B for Buffalo series when he’s done.
UPDATE: B is for Buffalo is going to be a book! It’s already on my Christmas list.
12. Rifle Paper Co.: I am a sucker for stationary, especially flowery, high-quality, staged stationary.
13. Aerie: I’m not brand-loyal to many brands, but Aerie is one of them. The #aerieREAL campaign is one of the best things to happen to social media and fashion in a long time.
14. Justin Dusett: Buffalo may be cool, but so is Rochester, and Justin proves it.
When I left Ithaca after graduation, I moved almost nothing home. I had until July to clear my apartment, and moving out was a great excuse to spend a weekend in Central New York. My roommate gave us tickets to see Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion at CMAC for Christmas, so we spent a beautiful Friday in June night singing along to their radio hits. I’ve been to a few Kenny Chesney concerts, and it’s like listening to a greatest hits album, but better, because there are new additions every summer.
On Saturday, we stopped at Watkins Glen State Park on our way to Ithaca for a nice hike. The gorge was busy, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the scenery.
We spent the afternoon packing and cleaning before heading to Ithaca Beer Co. for dinner. I love the breweries in Buffalo revitalizing downtown, but there is something special about waiting for your table in an Adirondack chair, surrounded by chickens, fields, gardens and a fire pit. Our drinks and wood fired pizzas were delicious, as always. I tried and loved Java Power, a variation on the brewery’s Flower Power, brewed with local roaster Gimme! Coffee‘s beans.
Sunday morning meant packing up the car and heading home, but we made sure to stop for ice cream on our way. I have been dying to try Cayuga Lake Creamery‘s ice cream for the last four years, but it’s pretty far from Ithaca just for ice cream. It is on the way back to Buffalo, but I’m not usually driving by at an ideal ice cream-eating time. Now that I’ve had the peanut butter ice cream, I believe the hype!
The trip may have been short, but we packed in tons of adventures. I’m already itching to go back to the Finger Lakes.