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Style Upgrade: DIY Decorations

Now that life has slowed down a bit since graduation weekend, I’m finally feeling “at home.” I guess I underestimated the mental exhaustion that comes with moving, starting a new full-time job, and getting back into full on workouts (which means 5:00am gym sessions!) I also squeezed in a Mother’s Day celebration, a baseball game with my dad, and a much-needed trip to the salon. By Thursday, my brain was in a fog and I felt totally off. About twelve hours of sleep the next night seemed to hit the “reset” button and by Saturday I felt rested again :)

Just 9 months ago, I was blogging about my bright and newly-decorated apartment in Flagstaff. I will miss that room….paying a little bit extra for the master bedroom, private bath and walk-in closet was one of the best decisions of senior year. Hah! I’ve moved out and moved on, and decided that my “style” should mature with my personality. Out with the clothespin collage and $8 Target mirror! Ellie, my 22-year old stuffed elephant, is here to stay though.

Style Upgrade  my grown up room  Stronglikemycoffee.comSo far, post-grad life is pretty sweet :) I started my full-time job on Tuesday, and I am so lucky and grateful to be working for a company that has been flexible with my schedule. If you are a long-time reader, you know I have been traveling to New York several times each year for treatments on my venous malformation. I am able to take time off of work for my New York trips as well as a couple other summer vacations I have planned, but I’m also able to work remotely from my company laptop if I choose.

Since the stress of finals week is over, that means I’ve also pumped the exercise back up. Man it feels good to run! I love running for the fun of it and especially when the weather is as gloomy as it has been. I’m savoring the overcast days since I know I’ll be craving them in the next couple of months! In addition to regular running/gym sessions, my mom and I downloaded the Alexa Jean Fitness Sore to the Core guide. It’s a 30-day guide with ab exercises in a HIIT format. This morning’s workout killed (burpees, planks, jackknives, flutters, whew!) and we’re only on Day 8….excited to see some improvement!

All of this was a long round-about way to share my new room decor with you. As promised, this blog has expanded to include more “domesticated” content. My mom surprised me with some beautiful decorations for my room, which are pretty dang Pinterest-worthy if you ask me!  I absolutely love the pieces she added, from the handmade Scrabble letter coasters to the glitter-dipped vases.

Simple Country Bedroom decor | Stronglikemycoffee.comThat watering can! For the gold glitter-dipped vases, she wrapped painters tape around middle of the glass. Next, use a paint brush to brush on Modge Podge. Roll or dip the vase in fine glitter, then paint Modge Podge over the glitter again. Remove the painters tape, fill with sand, and stick in your flowers.

Scrabble Letter Coasters and Candle  Stronglikemycoffee.comThe coasters require sacrificing a Scrabble game. We happened to have three so no real loss there.

Buy pre-formed square cork pads and plan out 4 four-letter words for each coaster. First, glue the sides of the letters together with super glue. Then glue the backs of the letters on to the cork padding. Lastly, cover the letters with Modge Podge

Inside an antique-looking birdcage, she staged three candles with little platforms so the heights vary. It looks very “country” and feminine which fits my style. The matching picture frame is filled with an Etsy design of a quote I love: “She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.”

Birdcage decoration candle centerpiece |

Candle and picture frame with quote | Stronglikemycoffee.comAs you can tell, I’m addicted to candles. My two roommates in the Flagstaff apartment loved to fry up sausage, bacon and eggs every day. Needless to say, my window was permanently open and candles were constantly burning. My favorite flavors are the subtle nature ones like pine, lemon, and jasmine. My next project is to spruce up my book cases. I just boxed up about 75 books to donate to clear up space for more…..but the picture below is after I “cleared space” so it looks like I better work a little more on that ;)

Bookshelf and room decor | Stronglikemycoffee.comAnd now time for another favorite summer treat….reading new novels!


Flipping the Tassle

On Friday afternoon, in between freak hail storms, I graduated from Northern Arizona University.

The ceremony was perfect, as was the celebration with my family afterwards. It still hasn’t hit me yet that I’m not a “student” and I won’t be going back to school. So much chaos in the last four days has kept me quite distracted :)

Within 48 hours, I took my last final exam, welcomed my parents to Flagstaff, walked in the graduation ceremony, celebrated with my family, packed and cleaned my apartment and moved out of state.

Graduation Cap Decoration  Stronglikemycoffee.comMy graduation cap reads “Smarter, Stronger, Older, Blonder” (than I was 4 years ago.) Most of the girls in my graduating class had decorated their caps and I was so impressed with the creativity! Unlike high school ceremonies, we get to sit next to our friends during the ceremony so I met up with my marketing buddies before we walked. Thanks to social media, we were encouraged to add #NAUgrad to any pictures we posted which would be displayed on the jumbotron. My selfie with the parents made its 5 seconds of fame! ;)

Graduate and my mom  Stronglikemycoffee.comI am indescribably grateful to my parents for their support. Not only have they blessed me with being able to graduate debt-free, but they have been my constant cheerleaders, best friends and source of encouragement. My mom and dad pushed me to train for a marathon and apply for opportunities I considered out of my league. They welcomed me home when I needed a weekend of love. They traveled to my track races in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and California. They listened to me vent, and they were the first people I called with any exciting news.

There is no way to fully express my appreciation for the sacrifices they have made for my college education. But I know how fortunate I am to have been raised by such generous, compassionate, supportive people. I love you so much, Mom & Daddy! (They are my biggest blog fans, too ;) )

Graduation celebration  Stronglikemycoffee.comImmediately after exiting the dome, Flagstaff decided to welcome the Class of 2015 with a dramatic hail storm. What can you do but laugh?! It can rain on my parade but it couldn’t stop me from smiling! Graduating in the hail | Stronglikemycoffee.comPost-graduation activities included brewing a fresh pot of coffee, putting on slippers, and beginning to fill cardboard boxes until our stomachs were growling. My mom, dad and I had a long delicious dinner, starting with a Pomegranate Mojito. We shared a smoked salmon appetizer and I picked a shrimp and scallop pasta dish (something far from my norm!) We were definitely too full for dessert, a very rare situation for us ;)

Honestly I was just trying to absorb the feeling of pride from completing my four years of college. I just wanted to soak the moment in before getting too carried away with “what comes next.” 24 hours after the ceremony, I was 200 miles down the road.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!


Mandatory Moment of Nostalgia from a Graduating Senior: Part I

While I am eager and ready to move forward and leave my four fantastic years of college behind me, it would seem unnatural not to be a bit nostalgic about all of the incredible moments that Northern Arizona University has brought me. It’s where I finished off my teen years and kicked off my twenties. It’s where I made my dream of becoming a D1 collegiate athlete come true.

On Sunday evening, I learned that I would be graduating Summa Cum Laude. This is the highest Latin Honor indicating that my GPA is in the top 5% of the graduating business students. This honor was a little source of motivation going into finals week, because it validated that my hard work is being recognized. Like I’ve said, I’m not here to be “average.” To be recognized with this honor on my diploma and a cord to wear during the graduation ceremony is really special.

There have been many moments in the past six months that most seniors go through which are more stress-inducing than we’ve encountered in our twenty-two years before. Taking the GRE, applying to grad schools, making major life decisions like where to live and finding a job, for example. Factor in scheduling surgeries, training for a marathon, dealing with living situation issues, and coming to the realization that some of your best friends will no longer live in the same state is overwhelming for sure. But today I remembered that there were 3.5 years of incredible moments before this that should not be overlooked as I repeat how “ready” I am to graduate and leave. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective, in my case from my parents and teachers, to remind us that what we are going through is not as scary/stressful/dramatic as it seems in the moment.

So I started having my mandatory moment of nostalgia to appreciate the people and places that helped shape my college career. As I began writing this, the words and pictures and links just poured out. So to spare you from glazed-over eyes and a numb thumb from scrolling, I’ve broken the content up into a few posts to sprinkle throughout these final days. Let’s begin with freshman year, shall we?

New Blog Post Looking back on 4 incredible years through the eyes of a graduating senior

2011: Freshman Year

I did not have a blog. Throughout the summer, as I followed the cross country training plan my new collegiate coach emailed me, I coordinated with my future roommate about dorm room decor. We had a black-white-and-red theme, and actually a more spacious room than I was expecting.

Coordinating decorations in the freshman dorm

Looking back, I am proud that I completely immersed myself in the college experience. I lived in a dorm, ate in the dining halls, studied in the library, worked out in the campus rec center, became great friends with my teammates and other student athletes, attended the free Friday night movies in the on-campus theater, went rock climbing, volunteered at campus functions, and trained as a college athlete.

Freshman Pep Rally  Stronglikemycoffee.comI painted my face and ran across the football field in the annual “Running of the Freshman” event at the first football game. We watched the homecoming parade downtown, toured the Halloween haunted house, built a snowman in my first time seeing snow, and rode a mechanical bull at the winter carnival. My cross country teammates also filled our weekends with team dinners, potlucks, a sketchy party, and a formal banquet. I even hosted some of the high school senior recruits. I took Zumba classes with friends from math class, and I became a Supplemental Instructor for my accounting professor during my second semester. This all meant I spent very little time in my dorm room, which is why I feel so happy about my first year of college.

My first "taste" of snow |

I red-shirted my first cross country season, but I raced indoor track in the winter. My first-ever indoor 3,000 meter (just under 2 miles) race qualified me for the Big Sky Conference Championships where I raced the 5,000 meters. During outdoor track, I was so happy to be able to travel and race in Arizona, Utah, California, and again at Conference Championships in Bozeman, Montana. The traveling is one of the greatest perks of being a student-athlete, in my opinion.

Outdoor Track Conference Championships in Bozeman, MT |

Funny freshman year story: Cross Country boys are typically a quirky and entertaining bunch, and my teammates were no exception. During the last week of school, the boys’ team had planned a late-night boys-only “secret naked run.” (Why? I have no idea.) Their only downfall was that half of the boys’ team was dating half of the girls’ team. Inevitably, the girls’ team found out the details of their “secret” run. We planned a stealthy water balloon attack to add a little surprise to their run.

We dressed in black and sat in the dark and waited, unsure of what we were about to witness. Plot twist: the boys knew that we knew….and they had eggs. It turned into water balloon vs. eggs tag in forest. I ended the night with some yolk in my hair and memories that will last far longer than whatever I was supposed to be studying for finals.

Freshman Year Stake Out  Stronglikemycoffee.comFreshman year was a blur of making the most of my time, and trying to figure out how to live “on my own.” For someone who had never shared a room before, I’d say I definitely don’t miss community bathrooms and showering in flip flops. (I always felt like I was camping!)

And I suppose this is the perfect stop to pause. Stay tuned for Sophomore Year!

Freshman Year Track Teammates |