Travel Blogs to Inspire Your First Post-COVID Vacation!

Travelling has always been something that was really important to me. Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted to see the world, experience new cultures, and explore new places. I’m pretty fortunate — I’ve already gotten the chance to see so many different countries in my lifetime — and yet, I still can’t wait to see more.

Then, of course, 2020 happened. While I didn’t have any solid plans to travel anywhere at the time that lockdowns hit, I certainly had a trip or two in mind to celebrate graduating and enjoying my time between finishing university and setting out into the “real world”. However, the last year of being at home has given me plenty of time to reflect on the places I have been lucky enough to visit, and all the places I hope to go as soon as COVID and lockdowns have become a distant memory.

Below are all the travel blogs I’ve posted since beginning my blog nearly two years ago now — during which time I was fortunate enough to visit everywhere from my own hometown to South East Asia. Hopefully for all of you who’ve been feeling impatient to break out of your routine and go experience new things after this last year of being at home, you’ll be able to find plenty of inspiration, recommendations and ideas from my little collection of blogs in this post!

SPEND A WEEK WITH ME IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO!

This was the last vacation I went on pre-COVID, but it was a great one to have experienced as my last trip for a while. Puerto Vallarta makes for a great relaxing beach holiday, while also having plenty of adventurous places to visit and local areas to explore the culture.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN BANGKOK!

Bangkok was both the first and last stop on my trip to South East Asia, so while we didn’t see that much of Bangkok during our first few days there per se, you can get a good sense from this post of what it was like acclimating to travelling to the opposite side of the world on my first trip without my family!

THINGS TO DO (PART TWO!): BANGKOK EDITION!

The title here may be a little confusing, since I didn’t actually make a “Things To Do in Bangkok: Part One”. However, this post shares what I did in Bangkok the second time around, and how I spent the last few days of my travels in South East Asia.

THINGS TO DO: KOH PHI PHI EDITION!

Koh Phi Phi is, hands down, one of my absolute favourite places on earth. Not only is it an absolutely stunning landscape, but it’s full of great little cafes, restaurants and shops AND every single shop owner on the island owns a cat. No joke, I’ve never seen so many cats in one place in my life (which was fantastic for me, as I really love cats). I really couldn’t recommend visiting Koh Phi Phi more, I’d probably live here if I could.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN KOH PHI PHI!

Koh Phi Phi is a great adventure spot, and has loads of snorkelling, hiking, and all sorts of other exploring options for those of you who enjoy a little hands-on adventure. There’s SO many adventure options for all types of different comfort zones, as well — so don’t worry if you’re not looking for anything too extreme. If this sounds like your thing, check out this post to get a better sense of what it’s like to take a day trip boat tour of the island!

THINGS TO DO: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand, and a great place to visit to be able to see some really stunning architecture and buddhist temples. It’s a really beautiful place, and visiting the Old City is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited.

PLACES TO EAT: CHIANG MAI EDITION!

For my foodies — there was some really great food in this city. Maybe I’m just biased, though, because Thai food is one of my all-time faves.

THINGS TO DO: SIEM REAP EDITION!

My time in Cambodia was short, but I did manage to fit in a lot of things while I was there. I really didn’t know what to expect of Siem Reap, but it really took me by surprise and ended up being one of my favourite places I’ve ever travelled to.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME AT ANGKOR WAT!

Perhaps the best-known travel destination in Cambodia, Angkor Was and the surrounding temples are really one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced — they’re really different from any other temples in South East Asia as well. It’s usually packed with people, but if you go in the summer (as I did) it ends up being a lot emptier, which really made the experience more special.

THINGS TO DO: HO CHI MINH CITY EDITION!

Vietnam was one of the coolest places I’ve ever visited, and if it isn’t already on your bucket list I’d definitely recommend adding it right now. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is absolutely full of all kinds of amazing food, history, and culture — the city itself, and the entire country of Vietnam, was really one of the most unique and interesting places I ever visited.

THINGS TO DO: NINH BINH EDITION!

Ninh Binh was a real stand out for me in terms of places I’ve visited in my life. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone in a whole lot of ways, but it was all really rewarding at the end of the day. The town is absolutely beautiful, and there’s no shortage of beautiful places to see in the Vietnamese countryside.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN HOI AN!

To be honest, Hoi An is definitely more of a “party” location in terms of places I visited in Vietnam — at least for me. It was crazy fun, though, and I met all kinds of people from around the world while I was staying here.

PLACES TO EAT: HANOI EDITION!

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, and very different from Ho Chi Minh City. It was really interesting being able to visit both in my time in Vietnam — I loved them both so much, and for very different reasons. There’s all kinds of cool things to do and see in Hanoi, but the food in particular is to die for.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME ON A BOAT CRUISE IN HA LONG BAY!

Ha Long Bay is by far the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen in my life. Honestly, I’d give anything to go back right now. There’s all sorts of ways to see and experience it, but one of the most popular is spending time on an overnight cruise — which I have to say, I’d highly recommend.

THINGS TO DO: LUANG PRABANG EDITION!

Okay, I know I’ve pretty much said that everything on this list was my favourite thing in one way or another, but Laos was really one of the best places I’ve ever visited — and you should probably consider adding it to your bucket list, TBH.

SPEND A DAY WITH ME IN LUANG PRABANG!

A little in-depth look at one of my best days from my whole trip to South East Asia. Seriously, I couldn’t recommend Laos more.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN TORONTO!

Does it really count as travelling to visit my own hometown? Probably not, but I’m still counting it. Plus, for those of you who’ve never been to Toronto and want to experience it as a local would — then my guide will definitely help you do that!

PLACES TO EAT: TORONTO EDITION!

For all my fellow foodies, Toronto is a must-visit. There’s just so many great options. It has a little bit of everything — as it is the most multi-cultural city in the world, after all — so no matter what you love, there’s something here for you.

SPEND A WEEKEND WITH ME IN DISNEY WORLD!

Okay…I won’t lie, I’d be pretty hesitant to be going somewhere as crowded as a theme park anytime soon. That might just be me, though. So for everyone who’s been looking forward to a Disney vacation when this is all over, feel free to check out how I spent my weekend there and all my fave things to do and see at Disney World!

SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH ME IN WEST PALM BEACH, USA!

This was more of a trip to visit with my family, but we still managed to squeeze in a little sight-seeing of the local area surrounding our AirBnB while we were visiting West Palm — and we spent a lot of time at the beach, too!

Do you guys have any plans in place to go travelling post-COVID? If so, I’d love to hear where you’re planning on visiting! I, personally, am not making any solid plans until I have my vaccine and the end is “officially” in sight, but in the meantime it’s fun to imagine everywhere I’ll go when we’re free to travel again. I’d love to be able to visit either Japan, Singapore, Italy or Greece (or all of the above!) but honestly I’m not even picky — I’d be happy to go on a trip anywhere at this point. I’d love to hear all of your dream travel locations, so drop a comment below and let me know where in the world you would go right now if you could choose from absolutely anywhere!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you all have an amazing week ahead to look forward to.

Much love,

Meredith

Three Easy Steps To Mastering Any Skill

Hi friends!

Happy Sunday!

This week, I wanted to discuss something that’s been at the forefront of most of our minds since about one year ago, when lockdowns began. (Crazy how it’s been pretty much exactly one year to the day now, right?). As soon as we all became locked inside with nothing to do, a sudden craze broke out across social media — and it urged us all to use our newfound free time to master new skills. Be it baking, cooking, exercising, writing, or art — suddenly everyone seemed like they were trying something new.

The whole concept, as I’ve discussed before, was a bit of a double-edged sword — on one hand, it’s always great to try new things, learn something new or push yourself like you haven’t before. On the other hand, however, there was immense pressure on social media to be using our spare time during one of the most stressful and unpredictable times of our lives to be productive. That being said — there is always benefit to learning new things. A year later on, I’m sure we’ve all seen skills that our family and friends have learned that we would love to learn to do ourselves. But how, exactly? Starting a new skill from scratch isn’t just challenging — it’s daunting as well. However, it isn’t impossible — in fact, it’s far from it. At the end of the day, you really only need three simple things to master any skill your heart desires: practice, passion, and patience. By the end of this post, I’m going to share with you exactly how you can master whichever skill it is you’ve been tempted to try — no matter your level of experience. (And of course, the most important step of all at the end of the day, no matter what skill you want to master, is just to START! Start now! There’s nothing stopping you. If you start today, you’ll just have that much more experience in a week than if you started tomorrow. Don’t worry about having it all be perfect from the get-go. You’ll get there, so just go for it.)

Practice

The first, and most obvious step, to mastering a skill is practice. Or perhaps it isn’t to most obvious — it seems so many people believe that “natural talent” is somehow key excelling at things, but that isn’t the case. Let me be clear — you do not need to be naturally talented and something to become great at it. Think of your skill as you would exercise (which works especially well if exercise is somehow related to the skill you wish to master): anyone who works out will become more fit with time. Sure, it takes a while, and perhaps we all move at different paces. Maybe some people have a bit of a head start, and maybe others don’t. However, with practice, anyone and everyone can become fit. However, no matter who you are — it takes a LOT of both time and effort to become incredibly strong and muscular. But really, the only thing stopping you from being the person who becomes super strong is how much you practice. This doesn’t mean that you should push yourself beyond healthy limits, though — what I’m trying to say is that anyone can build up a skill to the level of a master. It takes time, but there’s no need to rush — you’ll get there.

A little extra note that I’ve found really works for me as well — I find, personally, that I benefit significantly from practicing skills for, say, half an hour putting in my best effort and I do putting in four times as much time at only 50% effort. The quality of my effort, for me, matters. If I’m feeling distracted, or lazy, or trying to rush through practicing simply to finish, it doesn’t really get me anywhere — and it doesn’t show me results that I’m proud of.

Passion

The second thing you’ll need to be able to master a skill is passion. Let’s not get too deep here — I don’t mean that whatever it is you intend to learn has to be your life’s sole and absolute devotion. In fact, you’ll be able to cultivate more passion as you go. But as you start out, you simply need to be passionate enough about whatever skill you wish to learn to feel excited about it, and look forward to practicing it. Let’s say, for example, that your passion is drawing (just like me!). Ideally, if you’re looking get started as an artist, you should be excited to practice drawing and look forward to practicing it when you can. This will reflect in your life in any number of ways — looking forward to purchasing your artistic tools, getting excited about looking for reference images or drawing subjects, or feeling inspired by other’s art that you come across online. All of this passion should, hopefully, not only inspire you to practice — but to practice often. The best part of this step, at least for me personally, is that your passion and excitement grows as you see your hard work pay off. Every time I complete a drawing that I consider to be my personal best, it ignites a newfound wave of excitement to keep going and create something new.

Patience

The final step to mastering any skill is the hardest — patience. Do not feel discouraged if you don’t see results as fast as you think you’re supposed to. Learning takes time, and the path to mastering a new skill is seldom linear. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re making huge amounts of progress, and others you’ll feel stuck in a rut. Whether you feel it or not, though, every time you dedicate yourself to practicing, you’re making progress. Slow progress is still progress. It may take months, or even years, to truly master your chosen skill — and even then, you’ll still always have more to learn. Even if you feel you had a good momentum the first few months and then stopped seeing progress, I’d encourage you not to give up — I’m sure you’re still making progress that even you can’t see. The smallest increments, with time, will get you to where you want to be. And what’s more, you never know when you may have that moment where you can feel everything fall into place; where you feel like you finally get it. If you’ve started and feel lost, that moment will come. Just keep working towards it.

Be sure not to compare yourself to others — some people may experience quick learning in the beginning, some people may take a while to get the hang of things — but the point is, is that ANYONE can master ANYTHING with proper dedication. You do not need to be naturally gifted to become great at something — in fact, most people that are started off just where you are now. The only reason, I believe, that people who are “naturally gifted” tend to excel in particular skills is that they’re motivated by their results early on that drive their passion to continue practicing — just as you will with time. Keep at it, and one day you’ll realize how far you’ve come since you started — and it’ll only drive your passion to keep going and learning more.

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. To some extent, art has always been my thing. How do you, or even I, know whether I’m good at it because I followed these steps, or if it’s just because I’m inherently an artistic person? My evidence to show you otherwise is twofold — firstly, while I was pretty active in practicing art back in high school, after first year I pretty much gave up on art all together until after graduation (save for a couple of doodles in the margins of my notebooks). When I first started drawing again, I was no where near the level I was in high school. After just a few years of non-practice, while I didn’t have to start entirely from scratch, I had lost any so-called natural talent and had absolutely no ability to even draw a simple proportionate face. (I’d share a photo with you all of how my first few drawings looked when I was starting out, but I’m honestly too embarrassed. When I say they’re bad, I mean — they’re REALLY bad). There’s no shame in that, though — I had to start somewhere. On top of that, once my line work started to improve in quality, I still had another obstacle to beat — I wanted to learn how to use alcohol-based markers, and draw in colour (which was NOT something I had any previous experience in). Back in high school, I almost entirely drew my art in pencils, or in greyscale — I almost never used colour. I didn’t paint often, and even though I used colour pencils on occasion, it was pretty rare. Learning how to shade in colour is an entirely different skill from pencil and grayscale shading — as well, I had never tried alcohol markers before and I had no idea how to blend and use them. Honestly, it took a lot of time. While I hit a couple ruts along the way, I’ve had not one, but multiple moments where I felt things beginning to click — and those moments really revolutionized my own abilities and revived my passion to practice.

My second example, however, is much more recent; I’ve been trying my hand at digital art. Digital art is something I actually tried once (although briefly) in the past, but gave up on. This time, however, I’m going in with a little more dedication, and I’m following my own advice. When it comes to digital art, I know absolutely next to nothing. Drawing on a tablet does not come easily to me in any way, shape or form — I don’t find it intuitive, or at all similar to drawing with pencils and paper. It was really discouraging at first, honestly. I kind of ended up avoiding practicing for a month and a half, opting to continue with my marker-based art because I was so daunted by having to learn something from scratch. Even though I’ve had a slow start to it, however, I finally had a moment last week — I felt something click. It’s not like I’ve suddenly become an overnight expert (far from it in fact, I still have a long way to go), but for the first time I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. I really lacked patience with my first few digital drawings, to be fair — I rushed through them and had quit on every single one so far partway through when I started to feel that each piece was beyond help. With a little time and effort, however, I finally created an outline that may not be perfect, but that I am proud of. I still have a long way to go — how to colour in digital art is still something I have next to no idea how to do — but I don’t have to get there right away. I’m sure one day, I’ll be able to figure it out.

I wanted to share a little bit of my own personal progress with you all, to give you a little idea of what I’m talking about (or perhaps some inspiration to get started on a skill of your own!). I, personally, love drawing cartoon style — most of my drawings are characters from my favourite TV shows and movies. These two pictures were taken six months apart: the drawing on the left (Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender) was one of my very first that I used alcohol markers on, and the one on the right (Armin Arlert from Attack on Titan), was from a few weeks back. Neither of them are perfect, sure, and I still have a long way to go. But look at how much I’ve improved! Six months may sound like a long time to take to improve now, but it won’t feel that way if you’re constantly putting in effort and enjoying yourself, rather than counting the days. Who knows just how good I may be in another six month’s time.

As for my progress in my digital artistic endeavours, this is the outline in question (Eren Jaeger from last week’s episode of Attack on Titan). I’m still in the process of colouring it in, but as I said, I have a lot to learn and it’s taking me a while to get the hang of. However, this line work is by far the best I’ve done so far in my digital art journey, and it was the first time EVER that I felt like I kind of knew what I was doing. Once again, it’s far from perfect — but who cares! I’ll get better eventually, and frankly (especially when you compare it to absolutely any of my other attempts), I’m pretty proud of it.

I hope you’re all having a great week, and have another great week ahead of you! I won’t lie, you guys — I had no idea it was daylight savings today, and I spent a good half of my day being awfully confused. I’m not complaining, though — the days are getting longer, and we’ve had a few days here in Vancouver that have finally started to feel like spring. The last few weeks of winter are always the longest — more so this year than others — but it seems we’re finally at the end of winter, and possibly through the worst of COVID (fingers crossed). It really is starting to feel like things are finally returning to normal, and that there are better days ahead.

Until next Sunday,

Meredith

100 Prompts for When You’re Suffering Writers Block!

Hey y’all!

So — writers block. As bloggers, we’ve all been there. There’s absolutely nothing more frustrating than wanting to write, or trying to meet deadlines, but having absolutely no idea where to start. Since last year, when COVID hit, I started experiencing writers block WAY harder than I ever had in the past. Pre-2020, while I had rough weeks here and there, I was always able to find SOMETHING to share for each of my Sunday blog posts. However, as a lifestyle blogger, it got challenging to find inspirations when life came to a stop. Many of my posts felt straight up monotonous, and many weeks I felt as though I couldn’t come up with anything at all.

We can all agree that the frustration that writers block creates is just about the worst feeling ever. However, no matter what’s going on in your life in the moment, the reality is as a lifestyle blogger you always have a wealth of source material waiting to be tapped into. Life isn’t just what’s happening in the moment, after all — it can be past lessons learned, goals for the future, little things that make you happy or the hobbies and interests that make you who you are.

That’s why, this week, I decided to compile a list of 100 prompts for bloggers suffering writer’s block. I’ve chosen various topics, from fashion, to wellness, to budgeting or even blogging itself that pretty much covers at least one topic for every type of lifestyle blogger out there. No matter who you are and what your niche is — there’s a prompt in here that’s perfect for you. The prompts vary a little between them — some of them are more open-ended, some are meant to inspire your own fresh ideas for a post on a related topic, and some are meant to be a question that can be answered directly in a simple and concise way. However you interpret these prompts is really up to you — so I hope you enjoy reading through them and getting inspired for your future posts! Feel free to save this post for future reference, as well — so that even if you’re overflowing with ideas now, you’ll never have to worry about your creative well running dry ever again.

Media & Culture Prompts

  1. A list of the best TV shows for when you’re in a specific mood
  2. Music recommendations and playlists
  3. A list of movies that would make the best movie marathons
  4. Your take on the latest pop-culture drama
  5. TV shows/Movies/Music everyone should check out regardless of what genres they usually stick to

Fashion & Style Prompts

  1. Your favourite fashion trends for the upcoming season
  2. Your fave fashion staples that never go out of style
  3. Shoes and bags that work with any outfit
  4. Hair accessory trends for the upcoming season that you love
  5. Sharing your specific style and favourite clothing items & accessories

Skincare & Makeup Prompts

  1. What are your favourite brands and why?
  2. What is your skincare routine?
  3. What is your everyday makeup look?
  4. What secret tips do you have for completing your perfect makeup look?
  5. What’s some skincare advice you’d share with beginners?

Lifestyle and Advice Prompts

  1. How you’d plan out the perfect self care night
  2. Your favourite ways to take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed
  3. Organization tips and tricks that helped you get your life/living space/time management under control
  4. Positive mantras and affirmations you use when you’re feeling down
  5. Activities and advice to help get out of a mental health funk

Blogging about Blogging Prompts

  1. What did you wish you knew when you started blogging?
  2. What are some of the best hidden resources for bloggers you know of?
  3. What did you do that made your blog take off?
  4. What are YOUR favourite posts to read as a blogger?
  5. How you started to monetize your blog and grow your reach

Social Media Advice Prompts

  1. Best locations in your city for Instagram posts
  2. Best poses for people who hate taking photos
  3. Best ways to utilize Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest for outreach
  4. Best apps for perfecting your Insta pics and feed
  5. How to best utilize Pinterest (seriously, someone please write this! I’ve been using Pinterest for over a year and I still don’t understand how it works)

School and Education Prompts

  1. Studying hacks that have helped you ace classes
  2. Your best advice for surviving high school/first year/university
  3. How to handle tough situations in high school/university
  4. How to take legible, organized notes
  5. Your morning routine to ensure you’re ready and organized for the day (+how you wind down at night!)

Work and Careers Prompts

  1. How did you decide what career to pursue?
  2. Advice for people joining the workforce right now
  3. Advice on how to be successful in your specific field
  4. Secrets about your field the general public doesn’t know
  5. How to perfect a resume (+anything else related to applying to jobs in your field!)

Friends and Social Situations Prompts

  1. How to meet new people (+ especially if you’re not meeting people from school, university or work!)
  2. How to deal with friendship drama
  3. How to identify toxic relationships
  4. What do you think makes someone a good friend?
  5. What are some little things your friends do for you and each other that help you feel loved?

Love and Relationships Prompts

  1. What was something you wish you knew before your first relationship?
  2. What advice would you give your 16 year old self when it comes to love?
  3. What are the best ways to prep for a first date?
  4. What are some great date ideas for long-term couples looking to try something new?
  5. How did you know when your partner was “the one”? (+do you believe in soulmates?)

Making It Through Bad Situations Prompts

  1. What’s something you’ve been through in your life that was particularly challenging? What advice would you have for others facing similar situations?
  2. What is something you knew about life when you were 16 that you learned the hard way?
  3. What is some life advice you have for others based on what you’ve experienced in life?
  4. What was a mistake you made in life that you learned from?
  5. How has the last year of your life changed who you are or how you view the world?

Self-Reflection Prompts

  1. What are some life lessons you learned that you’d like to share?
  2. What was a toxic trait you had that you reflected on and changed?
  3. How did you learn to break a bad habit?
  4. How did you become your authentic self (both in person and through your online persona?)
  5. How have you actively worked to improve yourself? What worked and what didn’t?

Cooking, Baking, and Drinks Prompts

  1. What’s your favourite recipe?
  2. How do you make the perfect menu (charcuterie, appies, drinks food or dessert).for hosting dinner parties?
  3. What are the best recipes you’ve learned since lockdowns?
  4. What are some great recipes for those with limited time/beginners/people on a budget?
  5. What are some go-to recipes that never fail you?

Travelling & The World Prompts

  1. What is your current travel Wishlist?
  2. What are your favourite places you’ve ever been to?
  3. Where are the best places for tourists to visit in your city?
  4. Think of a location you travelled to in the past. Where would you recommend someone visiting there go?
  5. Where are the best ways you’ve learned to travel on a budget?

Home & Decor Prompts

  1. How did you decide how to decorate your first apartment?
  2. How do you find your perfect design aesthetic?
  3. Where should you start when decorating on a budget?
  4. What are some cheap/easy decor additions to make your living space more homey?
  5. Share your apartment decor + specific niche style!

Budgeting Prompts

  1. What are tips they don’t teach you in school about saving money?
  2. How did you learn to manage your savings and control your spending?
  3. If you coupon — what are your best tips and tricks for finding the best deals?
  4. What is your best advice for avoiding unnecessary purchases/compulsive shopping?
  5. What are they best ways to stay stylish on a budget?

Adulting Prompts

  1. What is something you wish you knew before entering the “real world”?
  2. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self about practical, real-life adulting skills?
  3. What are some secrets about being an adult that no one tells you (or admits to — even when you’re all adults!)
  4. What are some of the best hacks you’ve discovered for handling adult life?
  5. What is the best advice you can offer for those in their early adulthood?

Lockdown 2020/2021 Prompts

  1. How has your life changed over the last year?
  2. What are your favourite COVID-safe/at home ways to keep in touch with loved ones?
  3. What are the best new hobbies for those who are looking to try something new?
  4. What new skills and hobbies have you tried over the last year? Which ones did you like best?
  5. What tips do you have for maintaining good mental health during bad times?

Organizational Prompts

  1. What are your favourite hacks to keep your living space organized?
  2. What products changed your life in terms of staying organized?
  3. How do you go about keeping your personal space clean, even when you’re at your busiest?
  4. How do you organize your planner and schedule your daily life?
  5. What routines do you maintain that help you stay on top of everything?

Health and Wellness Prompts

  1. What are your favourite quick and easy healthy recipes?
  2. What are some great exercise routines for beginners?
  3. How did you get started on your fitness journey? What did you wish you knew before you started?
  4. What are some realistic ways to stay active and motivated day to day?
  5. What are your favourite tools (ie. meditating, exercise, sleep) for mitigating stress and maintaining your health?

As always — happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’ve all been doing well and staying safe. We’re really closing in on one year since COVID lockdowns hit now, which is absolutely insane to think about. This time last year, I was away on Mexico on vacation, life was good and I had absolutely NO idea what was about to hit me in the weeks to come. It’s been a long year, but I’m finally feeling like I’m going to make it out in one piece. How are you all feeling about the one-year anniversary of lockdowns coming up? Drop a comment below and let me know — it’s going to be an interesting and difficult time reflecting on it all, certainly. At the very least, with any luck, we’re nearing the end of the pandemic — so at least we’ll have something to celebrate sometime soon. I, personally, truly believed that lockdowns were going to last two, maybe three weeks at most — and look at us now! If I could go back a year and tell myself what was coming, there’s no way I’d ever believe it.

Much love,

Meredith

Stay-At-Home Valentine’s Ideas For Singles and Significant Other’s!

Hey y’all!

So, it’s finally February, which can only mean one thing — it’s almost Valentine’s Day.

I’m definitely in the minority on this one, but personally — I’m actually pretty indifferent to Valentine’s Day. I feel like it’s a holiday that causes a lot of heightened emotions for a lot of people — there can be crazy high expectations for those in relationships, and feelings of absolute dread for those who are single. It’s kind of sad, however, to see a holiday that’s supposed to be love turn into something that causes so much stress in others, though. Which is why, since starting my blog, I’ve made it a mission each February to make posts to help alleviate some of the stress surrounding February 14th.

In all honesty, I really couldn’t tell you what I’ve done on Valentine’s Day the past few years — I’ve been single for a while now, and I guess my apathetic attitude towards the holiday makes me kind of lucky, since it doesn’t really cause me any trouble. However, I did used to be a bit of an Edge Lordtm about the whole thing a few years back, so I do know how much it can suck to feel as though everyone is rubbing their happiness in your faces.

Truth be told, however, the one time I actually was in a relationship on Valentine’s Day was actually kind of crappier than any year I’ve spent single. For a holiday that should simply be about celebrating your relationship, it sure as hell comes with a lot of extra baggage. This year, however, all of our expectations for just about anything have gone out the window — so I’m hoping that with stay-at-home restrictions, limited open public spaces, and all the other crazy stuff going on in the world, we can all take it back to the basics and remember why Valentine’s Day should be celebrated in the first place.

So, whether you’re in a relationship and looking for some COVID-safe activities for the 14th, or single and looking for a way to celebrate yourself this Valentine’s Day, here are ##### ideas that work for singles, couples, AND friend’s this Valentine’s that will help you celebrate love and happiness in a safe and stress-free way!

Make an Elaborate Meal

If you’ve been taking up cooking since COVID began or have really been missing going out to fancy restaurants lately, this is the perfect Valentine’s plan for you. Rather than just eating whatever you’ve meal prepped for the week, plan out a multiple-course dinner for yourself, your significant others or your household complete with a little menu, entrées, desserts, and maybe even some fancy drink pairings. If you really want to go all out, make a Spotify playlist for the night, decorate your dining area and dress up to the nines — why not, right? Even if you live alone and you’re celebrating by yourself this year, I’m a big believer that you don’t always need an excuse to dress up or treat yourself. Going all-out to recreate the fine dining night-out experience in your own home is definitely a night you’ll remember — and you’ll be able to cater your own little restaurant experience perfectly to your own tastes, too!

Have a Spa Night

I know I suggest this one a lot, but it’s a great way to treat yourself, and works well as a night in with your SO or friends, as well. If this is the vibe you’re feeling this 14th, go all out and plan an elaborate self-care night, tailored towards your personal plans! Feel free to decorate, prep some snacks, make some tea (or grab some wine), light some candles, and set up a Spotify playlist full of some chill vibes. To really relax fully and enjoy your night, plan out what you’ll be doing in advance so when the time comes, you don’t even have to think about it! Some great ideas are face masks, mani/pedis, warm baths, a little meditation — it’s all up to you!

Plan a Movie Marathon

For a chiller night in with a less planning, the best way to go is often a good old-fashioned movie marathon. Order a pizza, grab a bottle of wine and some snacks, and you’re basically set for the night. One of the best ways to make a movie marathon feel like an occasion is to choose a theme, or franchise, to stick to for the night. As for what that is — it’s up to you and whoever will be joining you this Valentine’s Day! Some good ideas may be classic Golden Age Hollywood movies, Rom-Com’s, cheesy horror movies, animated films such as Disney or Studio Ghibli, or fantasy franchises such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the MCU.

Explore the Outdoors

Depending on where you’re located (and weather-depending), spending the day outside can be a great way to spend Valentine’s Day by yourself or with those who are special to you. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with nice enough weather, you can plan a picnic or spend the evening watching the sunset — and for those of you in cooler climates, you can always try out heading out on a walk or hike, or taking some time to drive somewhere isolated and go stargazing. Outdoor activities really vary depending on where in the world your located, so if this sounds like something you’re feeling down for, give your local outdoor attractions a quick google and see if you can find something special!

Make a DIY Cocktail Bar

This is basically the same idea as making an elaborate home meal for those of us looking to have a boozier night on the 14th. Instead of planning out a meal, search up some recipes for some of your fave fancy cocktails and gather up all the ingredients you’ll need. Plan out a little menu with a couple options, and you’re good to go! Some ways you can really help create the atmosphere of being out at a classy bar establishment is setting up a little charcuterie or cheese board, decorating your space, getting all dressed up, and making a playlist for whatever vibe you’re going for.

Bake Some V-Day Treats

If you’re one for baking, skip the chocolates this year (or not — why not both?) and bake your own Valentine’s treats. There’s all kinds of ways to pull off this little Valentine’s Day plan — depending on what you and others in your life enjoy, you can either surprise the important people in your life with some homemade Valentine’s snacks, spend the day baking with your SO, friends or family — or just bake up a bunch of treats for yourself!

Have an At-Home Wine and Paint Night

This is a super fun and cute idea if you’re looking to spend your Valentine’s doing an activity that’s a little more elaborate and hands on, IMO. It’ll take a little bit of prep — you’ll need canvases/paper, paint, paintbrushes (and wine, obviously) to really pull this idea off. If you’re really looking to go all out, make sure you also pick up some snacks, maybe even a little decor, and prepare the perfect Spotify playlist to set the mood. The best part is, this activity actually works perfectly, no matter who you end up spending your night with (even if it’s yourself!). As a bonus, afterwards you also have a sweet little keepsake to help you remember the night forever (even if you may not remember it yourself! I won’t judge.).

No matter how you guys end up spending your Valentine’s this year, regardless of who you end up spending it with, I hope you all end up having an amazing day (even if this Valentine’s is just going to be another Sunday for you). No matter what, just remember that while Valentine’s is a lovely holiday meant to celebrate happiness and love, it isn’t the be all to end all — and just because it doesn’t end up going the way you pictured it being doesn’t always mean it was a total bust. My hope for all of you is that this year, no matter what your circumstances are — Valentine’s ends up being fantastic at best, or just another day at worst. Even if, for whatever reason, you really are dreading Valentine’s this year — at the end of the day, it’s just another day and you will get through it.

Happy Sunday, everyone! For those of you big on sports, I hope you all had fun this Super Bowl Sunday (I personally could not care less as a non-American, non-sports fan who used to work at a sports bar — but that’s just me!). If you did something really fun and COVID-friendly today, drop a comment below and let me know how you spent it! I’m always looking for new, fun, stay-at-home friendly ideas to use in my own life.

Much love,

Meredith

Setting Realistic Goals For 2021

Hey y’all!

First and foremost — HAPPY NEW YEARS! We’ve finally made it, and 2020 is now nothing more than a memory. I know that realistically, the issues that plagued us (no pun intended) in 2020 don’t magically disappear just because of the calendar change, but it DOES feel nice to have a fresh start.

While I am hoping that 2021 will help bring me out the funk that 2020 left me in, I know I have to be realistic. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and setting colossally large goals for the new year without a plan on how to achieve them often leads to disappointment, or simply forgetting your goals all together. Not that you should avoid dreaming large, of course — it’s important to know what you want and go for it. However, especially when the world is so unpredictable, managing expectations can be a useful skill.

While I did work on breaking down goals last year, I set my sights high with what I wanted to achieve in 2020 — and while some of my goals still pushed me to improve myself (whether I achieved them or not), others were left incomplete by the end of 2020. Whether it was simply a little out of my reach, effected by unseen circumstances, or due directly to COVID — it doesn’t really matter, as they incomplete either way.

So, this year I’m switching it up and taking a different approach. I still want to push myself to move forward and be able to track my progress, so I’ll still be setting goals for myself. But a lofty new years resolution? Not so much.

Breaking It Down

This year, I’m taking a bit of a different approach. I’m setting a couple of “wishes” for the end of the year (things that I’d like to work towards that can be changed or aren’t set in stone). In terms of goals, I’ll be setting them monthly based on what my life looks like. In the past, I used monthly goals as more of a to-do list, but this year I’ll be using them as more of a monthly resolution. For instance, whereas in the past I would list out things such as number of blog views I wanted to achieve or Instagram posts I wanted to make in a month, but this month I’ll be setting more holistic goals, and I’ll be focusing on getting back into a regular workout/yoga schedule and meal prepping.

Letting Life Lead Me

Right now, everything is far too up in the air right now for me to ever even predict what my life may end up looking like by the end of the year. Rather than limiting myself based on my expectations a year out, I’d rather play things by ear and see where life takes me. Considering how many ways my life could go from the point I’m at right now, making set life goals for the end of the year may only end up limiting me or blinding me to new possibilities. So, I’m taking it one month at a time. While this month I’m hoping to perhaps find a job and get back into a regular routine of working out and eating, next month my goals and needs may be totally different — I’ll see when I get there.

Not Playing The Numbers Game

In the past, many of my goals were based on numbers — gaining so many new followers, achieving so many blog views, etc. However, not only does setting number-based goals start to drive you crazy with the constant counting, it isn’t very motivating in the way I need it to be. Not only does it focus on the wrong side of things, but it’s easy to ignore until you start to fall behind — and then you just end up in a cyclical game of catch-up. I’d rather set more holistic goals that help improve my life as a whole, and watch more number-based results materialize as a result.

Not Making Everything About Productivity

This year has really shown me our culture’s toxic obsession with productivity. I know this shouldn’t really be a radical concept, but really — you don’t need to be pushing yourself 24/7!!! In the midst of a global pandemic, in a time that was stressful for all of us, it seemed almost every single piece of media out there seemed to be telling us how to keep busy, start our life-changing project, fix up absolutely every little thing around our homes, and become this theoretical best version of ourselves. Even our self-care had to be cute and perfect. I won’t lie — at the beginning, I kind of fell into this trap too. Everyone else seemed to be out there being to most productive they’d ever been in their lives — I didn’t want to be the only one taking a break. However, I can pretty much guarantee that all the other bloggers and influencers who make their life seem 100% perfectly in order 24/7 are lying to you (or at least enhancing the truth). You don’t need to have it together all the time. I’m honestly experiencing some of the worst burnout I have in years from trying to be perfect during such a stressful year. So next year, no matter what 2021 sends our way, I’m allocating some of my goals to legitimate self-care, hobbies and happiness — just for the hell of it. Not everything needs to be about being productive 24/7.

Using Goals to Check In With Myself

While I want to make sure I’m not pushing myself too hard in 2021, I still want to be checking in with myself to make sure that I’m on the right track. While it was a bit of a necessary break, the last new months of 2020 I kind of found my life falling apart — and it’s taken more effort to get back on track than it would have to simply maintain it. I’m hoping that in 2021, I’ll be able to turn my life around a little and get myself back on track. I’m hoping to build a routine, get ahead on my blog posts, start working out and feeling a little normal again — BEFORE I start a new job. So instead of setting goals with the aim of pushing myself, I’ll be setting goals to check in with myself and make sure that I’m keeping everything on track — no matter what ends up coming in 2021.

Happy new years, everyone! I know it can be kinda scary staring down a whole new year, especially since we really don’t know what this year will hold. I have hope that it’ll be a better year than 2020 was, but I also know that nothing much is going to change without putting in the effort. This time last year, I had a plan that was meant to push me tony limits and help me become my “absolute best self”. I thought I was being realistic — and who knows? Maybe if 2020 hadn’t turned out the way it did it may have been. But it wasn’t, and it’s caused me to reevaluate and hopefully make 2021 a better, more successful year.

So fingers crossed — 2020 was absolutely brutal, but with any luck 2021 will be our year. I’m keeping my expectations small and realistic — maybe I’m just a little jaded, but I don’t want to dream too big and end up disappointed. But hopefully with this plan, a vaccine, and a little luck, 2021 may just be my year.

Are you guys setting resolutions this year? If yes, how are you doing it? Are your goals similar to what they were in the past, or are you taking a whole new approach? Perhaps, even after reading this post, you’re feeling a little inspired to set goals monthly and forgo a resolution this year. Or maybe you’re just over it and not setting goals anymore after 2020 (which is totally fair). No matter what your plans are, drop a comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear all about your goals, and what’s changed for you in 2021. Hopefully, within luck, we’ll all end 2021 on a better note than we started it on.

Much love,

Meredith