Alyssa J Freitas

February 16, 2017

Life Lately

Wow. So much has happened since the start of this year. I have seriously been all over the place and the first month and a half of 2017 has offered so much more than I initially anticipated. I thought it would be fun to do another "Life Lately" post to recap what I've been up to!

New Year's Eve

Let's start out with ringing in the new year! I went down to Atlantic City with Joe to this big party called "NYE on the Pier." It is this HUGE celebration with all different themed bars and a giant nightclub. We went with a group of friends and took buses to get there from his hometown in South Jersey. It was seriously such a fun night, but my feet were dead by the end and Joe may or may not have carried me back to the bus.

Joe's Christmas/Birthday Gift

Since Joe's birthday is so close to Christmas I decided to do a big gift for him to cover both. As you know, I am a big advocate of having experiences over things so I decided to take him to see his first broadway show. And it wasn't just any show, mind you, but the phenomenal Wicked! We had a great dinner at the Hourglass Tavern beforehand (can't recommend this place enough!) and had a fantastic time at the show. 

California Coast Trip

By now I am sure you have seen my many posts about the California coast road trip Ally and I took. It was my first time traveling with a friend and I learned a lot, had many laughs, and am so glad I got to see the West coast for the first time. 

My Birthday Celebration

Then it was my turn to have my 22nd birthday (check out my post about what I've learned in my 22 years on this earth)! Joe surprised me by taking me to D.C. and I had a fantastic time checking out the museums and monuments. Give me a museum with presidents and I can be occupied for hours on end. It was a perfect gift and an awesome experience. 

I also celebrated with my girlfriends by having a birthday dinner. Right before, my friend Calea took me to get a mani/pedi for my first time! I can see why people go all of the time; it was so wonderful and relaxing, plus my nails looked better than I could ever do myself.  

The Met

My brother and I went to the Metropolitan Opera to see a production of Carmen. It was my first time at the opera, and while it was a lovely show, I can't say I'll be rushing back right away haha I discovered I am more of a broadway girl (I think it must have something to do with the language). Addison loved it though, and I was glad to be back in the city.

Florida

This is an unexpected one. I was scheduled to go to Orlando, Florida with the sales training company I work for. This was my second time going to the sales meeting of a major company and it amazing how much work goes into these events. I am so grateful that I get to work with and learn from an incredible team, and it doesn't hurt to get to go to Florida in the winter either haha.

I was meant to fly in on a Tuesday afternoon and leave the following evening. Everything went smoothly for my departure out of Trenton and I ended up with the most fabulous room upgrade at the Boardwalk Disney property, but things went awry after that. 

When we finished the training on Wednesday afternoon I discovered that my flight had been canceled for that evening because of an anticipated snow storm. I booked another flight for Thursday evening and decided that as long as I was here I might as well go to Disney! That night I went to Magic Kingdom and the following day I explored Epcot. 
When I got to the airport on Thursday night, I boarded the plane but soon realized that something was wrong because we were taking just a little too long to depart. Sure enough the flight was canceled and they didn't have another one for us until the next morning. I didn't want to miss my class on Friday morning so I ran to another airline to try and get a flight out that night. By the time I made it back to New Jersey (to Newark instead of Trenton) it was 2am. My father (who is the best) was able to pick me up and I slept for three hours before getting on a train back to my school. I was on time for my 9:30am class, so it was a success!

Rock Climbing


Ally and I made a senior year bucket list and have been absolutely awful at actually doing it. Now that we only have a few months of senior year left we're going to have to kick it into high gear! We went rock climbing at the Rockville Climbing Center in Hamilton, NJ on college night ($16 for everything!) and it was awesome. It was challenging, but not impossible and we definitely want to go back, but we need to check some other things off the list first haha
  
So there you have it! Life has been all over the place lately and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

What have you been up to? I'd love to hear about your adventures :)

-AJF
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February 14, 2017

Best Relationship Advice

Happy Valentine's Day! I've always been a fan of Valentine's Day, whether single or in a relationship. In fact, I love to wear red or pink or purple for the whole week of Valentine's Day and I've been doing that for the past three years. Today I wanted to share with you a roundup of some of my favorite relationship posts.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here is a roundup of my best relationships posts from the blog to enjoy this Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day Etiquette 

This is a classic with all of the tips you need no matter what your relationship status. 

Dating Advice From My Father

It's always good to listen to the words of wisdom of your elders and this post puts dating in a great perspective.

3 Ways To Strengthen Your Friendships

Because Valentine's Day doesn't just have to be about romance.

The 36 Questions That Lead to Love

This went viral in 2015 and I still love it. These questions are a great date night idea and I love to use a book called The Book of Questions (which was the best 25 cent purchase I've ever made at a yard sale) to get to know your date better. 

Dating Etiquette, Flirting Etiquette, and Social Media and Relationships Vlogs

I LOVE this series I did with my friend Patrick. Plus check out his YouTube channel where he has more relationship advice.

The Right Guy Is Worth Waiting For

I really enjoy Whitney's blog and this post resonated with me when she posted it (and still does). It's all about valuing yourself and realizing that settling for a relationship is never the right choice. Read this when you need a dose of perspective. 

There are a lot of articles out there (I'm looking at you Elite Daily) about relationships, but not all of them are sound. Today, remember to love and appreciate all of the relationships you have (with yourself, with your friends, with your family, with your boyfriend/girlfriend) and enjoy this day of celebration!

What is your favorite relationship advice?

-AJF
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February 9, 2017

4 Ways To Make Great Decisions


Since this is the final semester of my senior year (let's not even think about that though because it's far too depressing) I am taking my capstone course. The topic of my capstone is decision making and we are focusing on how both good and bad decisions are made. Since starting this class I am even more in tune with how I handle decisions and evaluate how I go about reaching a conclusion. Believe it or not, there are a lot of ways we can sabotage ourselves without realizing it.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Decisions can be tough, but they don't have to be! Here's the deal, you can consider many sides of the issue, and talk through them with others
Recently my mother advised me that "In life there are many decisions to be made, and some you will regret. There will be nights where you will be wishing you didn't wear the shoes that look great, but you should wear them anyway." While I appreciate the intent behind this statement (do what you've got to do), this is not a surefire way to make good decisions. That's why today I want to share with you methods to help you make better choices and achieve great results.

The information here is mostly derived from the book we are using in my course, lead by Professor Leventry, called Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath.

01. Consider more than what meets the eye

When you are first are faced with a decision it can be very easy to think of it in terms of either/or. I will either join this club or I won't. I will either go on a date with him or not. By looking at it in this way, however, you don't allow yourself to see the breadth of options that you may actually have. Perhaps you can join the club and only be involved with a certain committee. Or maybe instead of going on a date with the guy you can make it a group hangout to get to know each other better in a less pressured situation. The key is to look at any and all options and to be creative.

02. Avoid seeking information that just confirms what you want to believe

If you haven't heard of confirmation bias before, get ready to be hyperaware of it (which is really great because it will help you avoid the trap it lays). Confirmation bias is when you only look at and pay attention to the information that serves your purpose. From seeking out opinions you know will align with yours, to finding reasons to make a certain decision, it can be detrimental to engage in confirmation bias. Instead, look for evidence that contradicts what you believe and see if it is valid. If your decision holds true, then you can proceed, and if not it is time to consider some more options.

03. Don't let short term emotion have a long term effect

This can be so, so, so very difficult. Making decisions based on emotion, whether you realize it or not, is not an effective way to manage your choices. The biggest way to combat this is something I've blogged about before: perspective. I won't go into the details of shifting your mindset, but suffice to say it is better to take a step back and look at the whole picture before deciding on a course of action. 

04. Be sure of yourself (but not too sure)

Something I've found is that often when I get an idea I will quickly become committed to it and run with it, rather than consider and prepare for the fact that I may be wrong. This idea of being ready and willing to admit you are wrong (my father is one of the best proponents of this) will serve you well not just when it comes to decisions, but also with your interpersonal relations. Basically, avoid marrying an idea and closing yourself off to other viable (and potentially more advantageous) instead of considering other options.

So there you have it! The four best ways to change your mindset and prepare your brain for optimal decision making.

What do you do when you have to make a decision? Are there certain methods you engage in? 

-AJF
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February 7, 2017

5 Day California Coast Itinerary

I have been really looking forward to writing this post! After tons and tons of research and working on creating the perfect spreadsheet itinerary, my best friend Ally and I set off on a grand adventure of the California coast. I've shared a post detailing how to plan a big trip, which you can check out here, as well as advice for what to pack and how to successfully travel with friends. Today I will be sharing our itinerary (both what I had HOPED would happen and what ACTUALLY happened)!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here is a complete 5 day itinerary for the California coast! From San Francisco, to Highway 1, to Monterey, Carmel by the Sea, Pebble Beach, and Big Sur, we've got you covered

Day 1: San Francisco

We had an early flight from Newark that would have us arriving in San Fran at 11am. After getting our car (which turned out to be a Mustang convertible!!!) we made the 25 minute drive from the airport to the city. 

After stopping at the hotel we visited Lombard Street and took a street car to Chinatown where we got lunch. 
We visited the City Light bookstore, which I absolutely loved! Being surrounded by books is one of my favorite things and I could have spent hours there. We stopped in little Italy for some gelato and then made our way to Fisherman's Wharf. My original plan was for us to eat at Boudin Bakery, and while we did stop in, we were full from lunch.

We checked out the sea lions and then decided that with the rain we were experiencing and my not feeling well (I had a severe sore throat the entire trip and even lost my voice!), it was time for us to Uber back to the hotel (Days Inn Lombard) and have an early night in.

Day 2: Highway 1 

Unfortunately the rain continued to get us as we made our way down Highway 1, but we were not to be deterred! We stopped at Garrapata State Park and got to touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Oh, and I also got to slide down a hill in the mud. No, it wasn't on purpose.
The beauty of Highway 1 is that you can stop off nearly anywhere and experience great views, so not as much planning is necessary. After quite a few hours of driving and stopping off (as well as lunch at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay...their fryers were broken so the meal did not live up to expectations for me), we arrived in Monterey where we would be staying at the Monterey Tides for the next three nights. Since we were there during the off season we were upgraded to an ocean view room with two queen beds and it was simply luxurious. 

We went to the Cannery Row Antique Mall, which was a good rainy day activity, and got to explore all of the vintage items it contained. For more entertainment in the rain we went to the Monterey Mirror Maze on Cannery Row where we got to play glow in the dark mini golf, do the coolest mirror maze, plus play in a laser challenge where you get to act like a secret agent. Make sure to go on their website to get coupons.   

Day 3: Big Sur

The day started out with promising weather as we headed out for breakfast at Crepes of Brittany (FAVORITE meal of the trip without question). Our goal was to drive down more of Highway 1 and to see the sights in Big Sur. Well, there was a mudslide so the road to Big Sur was closed. This meant we got to really take our time on the rest of the drive but it was a disappointment because this was the part of the trip we were most looking forward to. 

As you can tell, the views were still pretty spectacular and we enjoyed stopping off at Swanton Berry Farm where we got to sample a ton of jams (and I got to pretend to be a strawberry). 
We saw Bixby Bridge and enjoyed the open road.
We also ended up going to the Monarch Grove Butterfly Sanctuary. We had high hopes for this place but when we arrived we discovered there was only one cluster of butterflies that were not moving at all. After looking at them for about 2.7 minutes we were ready to move on. 

Lover's Point was another one of our stops in Pacific Grover where we got to play on rocks with the cutest kids!

Day 4: Big Sur/Carmel-by-the-Sea

Although we were supposed to have finished Big Sur the previous day, we decided to go back because more of the road had been opened. We first stopped at Point Lobos and briefly enjoyed the offerings of that park before getting back on our hour long drive towards Big Sur.


Our next stop on the road to Big Sur was the Big Sur Bakery. We didn't have enough time to get a meal here, but we did view a lovely rainbow (the one good thing to come from all of the rain). We also went to the Arthur Miller Memorial Library which I loved So. Much. Tucked away from the road, the grounds were covered in old pianos and typewriters and the store itself was amazing with twinkle lights and complimentary pastries and the nicest owners. 

We made our way back to Monterey because we were supposed to have a horseback ride that day. In fact, our itinerary got all moved around because of the weather and our ride was postponed due to trees having fallen along the trail. We did the 17 mile drive where you pay to get in at one point and then can check out the road and sights. It's incredibly scenic, but I wish they had included more historical information at each stop. For someone like me who loves to read and learn when vacationing, I could have spent about an hour tops on the drive, but my darling, nature loving Ally was having a blast so we hung out for longer. 
To get in some history for me, we went to the Carmel Mission, founded in 1771 (so before the US was even a thing!). This place was absolutely beautiful and a treasure trove of information about how the early Catholics came and established themselves in California. I felt like I was transported to another time and this was a highlight for me.   

We had dinner in Carmel-by-the-Sea at a place called Dametra Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant. We sat next to the sweetest elderly couple and discovered that the wife was from the same town as Ally! There was also live music and we were pulled up to dance as the whole restaurant watched. The performer in me was so, so happy :)

Day 5: Pebble Beach/Carmel-by-the-Sea/San Francisco

By the time our fifth day arrived we had far too much left to do, but finally some good weather. We began the day with our long awaited horse ride on Pebble Beach and got to see the 17 mile drive from a different perspective. What I liked most was that our guide shared history and fun facts with us along the way so I got to know more about the area.
We then got to spend a short amount of time in my favorite place, Carmel-by-the-Sea. The architecture of the shops, not to mention the unique items and shop owners I got to speak to, served to make this a highlight of the trip for me. The must sees are The White Rabbit, Cottage of Sweets, and the cafe we went in to but I can't remember the name of...you'll see it on the main road though! There was also a Turkish shop and the owner and I spent a ton of time talking about how he and my mother were born in the same city in Turkey in the same year!


We drove back up Highway 1 to San Francisco and let me tell you I needed FAR more time here. We went to see the Palace of Fine Arts (I LOVED this) and did a little photo shoot by the Golden Gate Bridge down at Crissy Field.


We got to spend a few hours in the mission district, but there is so much more we could have explored. The vibe of the area was very cool, and the shops were some of the most extravagant I've ever seen. I didn't buy anything (you know me and how I'm all about spending on experiences rather than things), but it all was a marvel to look at.

Some places we stopped in include: No Shop, Digital Fix, Paxton Gate (go here!), Voyager, and Dog Eared Books. We had dinner at Regalito and sat at the community table, which was fun.

Day 6: Back Home

We had an early flight out the next morning after we stayed at the Cartwright Hotel (this was my favorite hotel of the trip, with hardwood floors and a gorgeous bathroom I was ready to move in). It was a unique place and we got to climb out on to the fire escape for our first time! I got all of our hotels through Priceline and cannot recommend that route highly enough if you really want to get the most bang for your buck. 

So there you have it! Our itinerary from 5 days on the California coast. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below :) And take a look at the video from our trip (start at 1:38 if you don't want to see my family at Christmas before hand lol).


Have you done a coastal trip? What was your favorite part?

-AJF

Photos a combination of Ally's and mine...if they're really good, assume Ally took them.

February 2, 2017

6 Practical Steps For Planning A Trip

When it comes to nearly everything in life I am a planner. I like to plan things in advance and map it out and have action steps with detailed instructions. Knowing what I am doing and when makes me feel prepared and like I am making the most of my time. While these are fine attributes to have for many instances (college and career planning, anyone?), they also come in handy when getting ready for a trip. Here are 6 practical steps I used when planning my trip to San Francisco and along the California coast (take a look at all of my Cali posts here!), while still leaving room to enjoy the spontaneous.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are 6 practical tips to plan a big trip to maximize your time and stay organized

01. Have a folder

Not a physical folder, but a digital one in your email. As you are booking hotels and activities it makes it so much easier to put everything pertaining to your trip in to one folder. When you have it all there you won't have to spend any time looking for it.

02. Start with a Google Sheets page

Ok, so I absolutely LOVE the Google suite of apps. I use Google Docs for all of my notes, constantly use Google Slides for class projects, and Google Sheets is my go to for planning. When getting ready for a trip I start out by putting the days down the left most column. On the top most row I put the location (when changing cities), flight/transportation times, hotel with address and check-in information, dinning options, activities, and notes. All of this can be adjusted depending on your trip and goals for the vacation, but this is generally information that's a good place to start.

03. Get on Pinterest. Right now.

Now that you have the barebones of your Sheet you can have the fun of filling it in. In order to find great activities my first stop is Pinterest (let's be friends over on the best social media there is!). Searching for your location with relevant adjectives like "budget," "active," "historical," etc based on what your interested in will lead you to a number of good articles. I like to create a secret board for my trip where I pin anything and everything so I can refer back to it if I need more information. 

Another great source is to go to YouTube (another pretty cool social media site where we should hang out) and search for vlogs of other people's trips to your destination. You can take a look at my California video here (note: if you don't want to see my family at Christmas and Joe and I going into the city, you should skip ahead to 1:39. You'll see some really cool places that you'll want to check out as well. I've heard that using Instagram is another good resource for finding unique places, but I haven't found much success with that method. 

04. Map it out

Once you identify the activities and sights you want the next step is to see where everything is on the map. Hello, Google Maps (also, it seems like I should really be an ambassador for Google). You can favorite all of the different locations and start to make sense of where everything is and the best order to go in. You can also figure out public transportation ahead of time if you'd like and include that in your Sheet. 

05. If you want it to happen, get it on the Sheet

Now that you know the order you can put the information on your Sheet, as well as any notes and tips you may have learned through the articles you've read. What you have to remember is that although you might have a perfectly laid out plan, being flexible is key. I love to have dinning options so that I don't have to wander around looking for a place to eat, but if you see a darling place that looks good, why not throw the plan aside and stop in? It may just end up being your favorite meal of the trip.

06. Print it out...or don't

As much as I love to have everything digital (check out my minimalist post about how to go paperless), when you're traveling you may end up without access to your phone (dead battery, dead zone) and you're going to want to know what to do next. Having a paper copy tucked in your bag is the way to go in my mind. 

Striking a balance between having a plan and enjoying the experience is important and will ensure that you have an awesome time.

What tips do you have for planning a trip? Any methods that you've found really helpful?

-AJF  
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