Activities

Gaming in a Guys World: A Girl’s Perspective

When I created the “Activities” category on this blog, I had anticipated using it for things that were fitness-related. However, the topic of this post does fall under the activity category, albeit in a less traditional sense. Today I will be discussing my take on video games; the culture behind playing them, a few favorites, and how they can be a much needed change from the monotony of watching TV/movies!

This may seem like an odd topic to discuss, but I think it’s pretty interesting. Growing up with an older brother, I spent far more time picking a line-up in Backyard Baseball than I did dressing up American Girl dolls. No offense to the dolls, but I wouldn’t trade that for anything based on how that tomboy side has shaped who I am today. I would also be lying if I said that my small amount of video game knowledge didn’t help me impress at least a few hotties in my lifetime 😉

I was a PC/Xbox person in high school; I loved The Sims like everyone else, but was also a closet Need for Speed junkie. I enjoyed the games that weren’t quite as popular as the classics like Halo and Call of Duty. One distinct favorite I can remember is the Star Wars Battlefront game for Xbox 360. I spent countless hours fighting battles on Tatooine and getting destroyed by my brother in multiplayer mode.

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Via: YouTube

The stereotype behind “gamers” is one that I by no means fit into, mostly because I really don’t play them that often and don’t have a console of my own (other than a Nintendo DS that I’ve managed to misplace). However, I think that consoles and the variety of games available are becoming less targeted towards that specific demographic, and more towards the average Joe. For example, the new Nintendo Switch is a gaming system that you can take on the go or play in your living room. It has a great multiplayer function that I can see appealing to a variety of different people. To me, this function seems almost like the board game of the 21st Century since it gets everyone at a gathering involved.

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Via: Here

 I think a lot of people brush video games off as childish these days, but really they are a lot more stimulating than zoning out on the 10th episode in a binge watching frenzy on Netflix. They improve hand-eye-coordination and keep your brain guessing. I also find that video games are great when you want to get a little lost in your own world. I was a pretty avid Runescape player (dorky, yes, but SO much fun) in middle/high school, and that is a perfect example of a game where you can just escape and instantly become someone else. There are also millions of ways that the game can go depending on what you choose, which makes it that much more exciting.

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Via: Photobucket

And now to another stereotype, that playing video games is a total guy thing. This is so false! There are games that are definitely more geared towards guys, but that can also be said about one’s for girls. Give me one person who doesn’t enjoy a good stroll around Kanto in search of the perfect Pokemon (you totally can’t).

I think there is something very universal about becoming invested in a game and spending hours working towards beating it. There is no advantage/disadvantage in being a specific gender while playing, so if you ever assume that video games are just something for guys, think again! There is bound to be a game you will fall in love with if you’re willing to hunt it down.

With how much the content and graphics of video games continues to improve, I can definitely see myself starting to play again sometime soon . I think my brothers Xbox 360 is still in my basement at home, I’m thinking of digging it up and giving it another go! Until next time,

-Sarah

Lifestyle

Beat the Back to School Blues

Ah late January. The conclusion to a blissful month-long vacation from deadlines, lab reports, and grouchy professors. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. I just got back to school and am in the weird transition period from having nothing to do, to becoming insanely busy overnight. I’m also a total baby when it comes to change, so I’m also already feeling a little homesick. That’s when I got the idea for this post. I have a few things I do almost every time I come back from a winter break and they really help me transition from a homesick mess to a boss little lady who is ready to conquer the semester ahead. Enjoy!

Reorganize your room: I thrive when my space is clean, organized, and laid out in a way that is appealing to me. Ask my roommate, I have rearranged my room approximately 10 times since moving in last year. It just makes me happy, as weird as that may sound! Below are before and after pictures of what I did today.

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Before

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After!

Chat with a friend/boyfriend: This one seems like a no-brainer but it really is something that works. It helps to make you feel less alone, even if the interaction is done over the computer or phone.

Watch an episode of your favorite show: I started to feel a wave of panic about being back come over me, so I took a deep breath, made a mug of peppermint tea, and put on an episode of How I Met Your Mother. The familiarity of this ritual instantly made me feel better.

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My favorite mug…guesses on who gave it to me??

Write in your planner for the upcoming weeks: This goes with the theme of organization equaling some sort of peace in life. I outlined my schedule for the week and it lifted a little something off my shoulders, which in turn improved my mood.

Treat yourself to something extra special: Whether that’s a face mask, an extra helping of dessert(always my go-to), or a little online shopping,  pampering yourself more than normal will definitely help make you feel better.

Good luck with the start of your semester!

-Sarah

Favorites

Favorites: Episode I

I want to start a new segment on my blog that centers around some of my weekly favorites that will go up on Sundays, so here I give you the first! These favorites will be slightly random, and will obviously fluctuate depending on the week. However, I love reading these on other blogs so I figured it was only right to start my own. So without further ado, I give you my favorites from the week of January 21st.

Song: Ed Sheeran’s new single, Shape of You. I was so excited to see he was starting to release new songs off of his album Divide, and this one definitely doesn’t disappoint. In true Ed Sheeran fashion, it’s a blend of heartfelt lyrics and a rap-esque speed that makes it insanely catchy. I’ve had it on repeat and I’m sure you will too after the first listen!

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Via: Spotify

Organizational Tip: I was watching a video on home decluttering to get some much needed inspiration to do something about my absolute mess of a room, when someone in the comment section mentioned the KonMari method of folding. This comes from the infamous Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I still have on my list as a must-read. Since all of my clothes will be shoved into packing cubes while in Europe, I figured this would be a very useful skill to have so I could maximize the space in my backpack. This article on the folding method gives great visuals (and even video tutorials) on how to fold each specific item. I tried it out and it works surprisingly well!

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Via: Pinterest

App: Afterlight is my go-to choice for editing pictures. It has the best variety of filters, plus lots of customization for things like saturation, brightness, and clarity of an image. It’s super user friendly, and at only $.99 I think it’s well worth the price for the quality of pictures you end up with.

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Via: Google Play

Food: I know this may sound super lame, but I have been obsessed with this trail mix over the past week. It tastes like it wouldn’t be as good for you as it actually is, which is the way health food should be! Although I’ll admit to mixing chocolate chips in with it for a post-dinner snack…diet is all about balance right?? PS I bought mine from TJ Maxx where it was on sale for only $3 a bag.

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Via: Amazon

Video: A random thing I LOVE watching on YouTube are audition videos for The Voice. This particular one is probably my all-time favorite, and to this day I still have no idea why he didn’t win his season. After revisiting this old favorite this week, I also found myself belting out “Listen” only to realize I most definitely don’t sound like him, try as I may.

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Via: Wikipedia

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of my weekly favorites, stay tuned to next week for Episode II!

-Sarah

Lifestyle

Keep the Change

So I sit here drinking a glass of rose, wearing a baggy sweatshirt, and sporting last night’s makeup while listening to my family talk about savings. Ugh. Fun fact, I am not exactly a wizard when it comes to money. But when did it suddenly become the norm to already have a bunch of money saved up when you just barely gained the ability to legally drink alcohol?

*Lizzie McGuire gulp*

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Via: Here

I’m not as worried about money for the future, however at the moment when I am unemployed and on the brink of graduation, it’s hard not to be concerned. I take solace in the fact that I am totally not the only person in this situation. Being in my early twenties, I know some of the best times of my life will happen in the next five years, and I can only hope that I will have a financial situation figured out by then. In the meantime though,  becoming educated on the topic seems to be the smartest decision.

This article from Kiplinger, while a little dry, gives some great advice on savings. For example, it states that saving $100 a month (which you can pretend is a bill you must pay) starting at the age of 25 will compound to around $345,000 by the time you are 65. I don’t know about you but that’s an insane amount of money to me! Keep in mind that this tip doesn’t apply until you have a steady income, trust me there’s no way I could accomplish this now.

Something else that I have picked up from my parents is keeping all of your change, and putting it into a container at the end of the day. I’ve definitely been guilty of just dumping change into a tip jar when I have been too lazy to carry it around. Little did I know I was giving up more money than I knew, so I have tried to be better about saving change.

One other tip I have is to cancel subscription services that you know you don’t use enough to justify their price. I had a subscription to Chegg for a few years, which was $16 a month, and I had a Netflix account as well ($10/month). So, that was $26 a month for two services that evidently weren’t worth it. By cancelling both, not only am I watching less TV and not cheating on homework assignments by looking up the answers, I am also saving $312 a year! It’s a win,win,win.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a treacherous task. There are definitely ways to simplify it and I hope these short little tips make even the thought of starting a little more attractive.

-Sarah

 

 

 

 

Activities

The Non-Workout, Workout

Doing a workout that you deem as fun is something that seems self-explanatory; of course you are more likely to stick to something if you actually enjoy doing it. So, why does it seem that the term “working out” usually translates to spending mindless hours in a stuffy gym, doing repetitive exercises surrounded by people who seem just as unhappy as you? There isn’t a right answer to this question, but I think it’s about time that the stigma around working out is broken. People need to form their own definition; only then will they finally stick to it in order to start living a healthier lifestyle! So today, I am going to share one of my favorite non-gym activities that is not only tons of fun, but will also help you work up a sweat in a new and exciting way.

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At my local rock climbing gym in New Hampshire

Rock Climbing: So I know this is *technically* inside a gym, but hear me out! I think indoor rock climbing really intimidates people because it seems like a difficult and advanced activity. The truth is, you can make it as easy or hard as you want to. I am a fan of bouldering (shout out to Connor for introducing me to this!), which basically means you don’t have a harness or rope, and are only climbing on a wall that is 15-20 ft. high. There is a grading system for bouldering problems (routes) ranging from V0-V17, though most gyms will only go up to around a V11. They go from easiest to hardest, and all gyms will have a different idea of what one specific grading level is. So, don’t get discouraged if you fly through V3’s at one but can barely get up a V1 at another. I love bouldering because it’s challenging, fun, and you end up working up a sweat without even realizing it. There is a lot of room for improvement, and I have also found that there is a really positive community within these gyms.

From this article on Daily Burn, rock climbing can burn anywhere from 500-900 calories per hour depending on how intense you make it. It not only utilizes your entire body and its’ respective muscles, it’s also a great cardio workout that can sometimes leave you breathless. Take it from one who knows, you WILL be sweating on the wall, and you WILL be sore for days after you climb. Sometimes, I can barely even make a fist after an afternoon of bouldering, that’s how intense it can be (in the best way possible!). So, for those of you who were skeptical on how much of an actual workout rock climbing can be, I hope this information has made you a believer.

Most gyms will have memberships that you can purchase, and if you are planning on going regularly then this is the way to go. My local gym charges $14 per bouldering visit, which can really add up. A semester pass for a college student (aka me) is $155, so if I planned to go more than 12 times in one semester then it would be worth it. This may seem like a lot, but if you think about the fact that some ski lift tickets are over $100 for just one day, it’s not so bad! Gyms also have all of the equipment you will need for rental, but I would recommend investing in your own if you are really invested in climbing.

Speaking of equipment, bouldering is great because you really only need two things: shoes and chalk.

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Via: EMS

My shoe of choice is the EVOLV Women’s Elektra Climbing Shoe. I purchased mine from EMS, where they are currently on sale! I wear a size 5.5, and am usually a 6 in regular shoes. While they are pretty snug, having tight climbing shoes is essential so your feet don’t end up slipping in your shoes while you are on the wall.

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Via: Amazon

I use the Black Diamond White Gold Loose Chalk, but most chalks are pretty comparable, so don’t sweat the brand too much. This is optional, but having a chalk bag helps to keep it all in one place, plus there are some insanely cute options out there to choose from. I have this panda bag in grey, I just fell in love with how stinking cute his little butt is!

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Via: Amazon

To get you even more excited about climbing, there are tons of YouTube videos on climbers from all over the world. One of my favorites is Ashima Shiraishi, who at only 14 years old, was the first woman to complete a V15 problem.

Another interesting angle of bouldering on YouTube are videos of problem setting, which show the process of placing climbing holds in the pattern of each problem. This video from the Seattle Bouldering Project totally sucked me in, I thought it was such a cool insight into the world of climbing.

So, with all of that information, I give you my non-workout, workout! I hope this has inspired you to look up a local gym and try out bouldering for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it, although you will probably be cursing me when you can’t even turn a doorknob the day after you go 🙂

-Sarah

Lifestyle · Travel

Trip Planning for Dummies Like Me

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*Raises hand* Hi my name is Sarah and I admit to having no clue how to plan a successful 3-week trip abroad. It can be a really daunting task, with lodging, food, transportation, activities, budget, and everything in between to consider. It’s enough to make your head spin, trust me I understand! With that being said, I have managed to pick up a few tips over the past couple of months, and wanted to share what I have learned.

Keep a Travel Journal: I am a strong believer in writing things down. During the school year, you will never see me without my trusty planner in my bag. I use it to keep track of absolutely everything going on in my life, and don’t really think I could function without it. So, I applied this habit to trip planning and it works to calm my mind in the same way. Mine contains flight information, packing lists, a vague itinerary, and random thoughts to be sorted out later. I am constantly adding to it and crossing things out. It’s great to have all my information in one spot that is easily accessible, plus there is something so satisfying about writing things out the old fashioned way!

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Image via: Pinterest

Stick to One Country/City at a Time: More than once, I have found myself with approximately 20 tabs open on my computer containing potential hostel/Airbnb/hotel choices for each country we will be visiting. This only made me more stressed and confused because I had tried to tackle everything in the “lodging” category all at once. I have found that sticking to just one country at a time really simplifies this task. Not only does it make the research seem less intense, it also allows you to chronologize this portion of planning so that you can check off countries as they will be visited on your trip.

Plan in the Order of Your Trip: As stated above, I find it immensely helpful to plan in the sequence of your trip. It won’t do you any good to decide you want to take a gondola ride up the Alps on Friday morning when, after the fact, you realize there won’t be any trains from Florence to Switzerland until the afternoon. This also assists with budgeting, since you can keep a running tally of how much you are spending in order to better understand what you will have to work with in each location. To save yourself the headache, plan from the first day of your trip onwards, you will thank me later!

Buy Flights on a Tuesday, in an Incognito Window: THIS IS SO IMPORTANT GUYS!! Our round trip tickets from Boston to Paris and vice versa only ended up being $480 because of this simple little tip. For some unknown reason, flights are way cheaper on Tuesdays (preferably in the morning) than any other day of the week. When I first started researching flights, I was finding around $650 to be a normal round trip amount, so I figured that was going to be how much I had to spend. However, I cannot stress how important it is to shop around for flights. I would search through Google Flights on an incognito tab so that the website wouldn’t save my searches and jack up the prices. This article from World of Wanderlust explains this in a little more detail. I am living proof that it is possible to find relatively cheap round trip tickets, so don’t settle! Chances are you will be able to find something cheaper than what you initially budgeted for. 

Ask Around for Advice: Striking up conversation with family and friends about your upcoming adventure will inevitably lead to someone knowing something about a place you’re visiting. Indulge in this knowledge! It’s one thing trying to gain information from the internet or guide books, it’s a whole other ballpark when you’re talking to someone about a time where they were actually in that location. These resources can give you the best advice on where to stay, what to do, which restaurants aren’t just tourist traps, ect. Even if they haven’t been to where you plan to go specifically, I’m sure they will have some type of general advice to give you. That’s the beauty of travel, it is riddled with parallels regardless of where you go, so soak up any experience-based knowledge that the people around you can give.

So there you have it! A few of my best planning tips so far. I plan to update this closer to our departure date with more information, so keep an eye out for that article. Until next time!

-Sarah

Lifestyle

First Impressions

Hi! My name is Sarah, the author behind M&M. I’m so happy you decided to stumble upon my little corner of the internet. I decided to start this blog not only as a creative outlet, but also a place to document the European adventure I will be participating in this summer with my boyfriend Connor. From the title, you can guess that I am an avid lover of nature and coffee. My passion for both will keep me busy galavanting across the Swiss Alps and hunting down the best cup of coffee in Italy. Oh, and also during daily life as a college senior in New Hampshire, and a typical 21 year old back home in Upstate New York!

I have had two failed attempts at blogging in the past, but as I will be entering the “real world” (aka graduating college, cue panic attack) soon, I am determined to stick with it this time. I really appreciate you coming to check out my content, feel free to stay a while, I promise I don’t bite!

-Sarah