Treat Yourself: 10 Ways Under $10

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If you know me, you know I'm the queen of treat yo-self. If you're new here, welcome! 

In college, my relationship with my roommate was built on treating ourselves. It was to the point where we had a standing date, once a month, dedicated to spoiling ourselves with food, treats, and pampering. 

Now that my student loan payments have kicked in, I needed to find ways to still get the spark of treating myself but without feeling guilty as I swipe my card. I've talked to my friends who are on similar budgets and came up with 10 Ways to Treat Yourself under $10. Some of these are free so have you pick and enjoy some self-pampering. 

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1. Yoga + Aromatherapy

You can and should treat yourself to a relaxing yoga session filled with relaxing scents. YouTube has a bunch of free flows or you can look up videos on Instagram to guide you. My favorite way to create a relaxing environment is to fill by diffuser with essential oils and let the room turn into my personal sanctuary. 

I use this oil diffuser* which I got for on Amazon. I purchased oils at Target. In this case, there's the up front cost of the oil and diffuser but I spent let's sat $18 one time and have used them both at least once week since July. Take those $18 split over 16weeks = $1.13/week for a DIY yoga and aromatherapy session.

2. Wine and Cheese Night

Invite a friend over and make it date night. My favorite cheese and wine can both be found at Trader Joe's. I love the Grifone Pinor Grigio and their Toscano, a creamy blend of parmesan and Wisconsin cheddar soaked in a Syrah wine. I got a block of cheese for 5.00 and a bottle of wine for $5.99. You can split the cost with a friend or indulge by yourself on a few separate occasions. Add a nice Spotify playlist to the mix and you have a great evening planned. 

3. Bubble Bath + Candles

Fill the tub, light a candle, and play some soothing sounds.

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4. Spend the Night Making Treats

Last Saturday, my best friend Laura and I spent Saturday night making these yummy cheesecake filled, chocolate dipped strawberries. Strawberries were about $4.00, cream cheese was under $2.00 and chocolate chips around $3. We had sugar and graham crackers on hand so for no more than $10, we had a great night of girl talk, yummy treats, and playing in chocolate. 

5. Take a Personal Day

Take the day to yourself and do nothing. Find something good to binge watch. Sleep all day long. No to-do lists today.

6. Throw a Cheat Meal In

For me, my idea of a cheat meal usually includes donuts or Chic Fil A. Last week, I went with the Spicy Deluxe and waffle fries. I didn't spend more than ten bucks and the friendly people and extra sauce made it a nice experience. 

7. Run, Lift, Cycle

Okay, I don't know if anyone else gets that feel good rush from lifting but I do. Back squats, cleans, snatches are just a few of my favorite movements. I started Crossfit this month and that's been a new way of treating myself. The price-tag on a membership doesn't sound like it fits under a budget but going three times a week comes out to $8.33/class for me. So far, the cheapest gym membership I've come across is $10/month at Planet Fitness. 

8. Read

You don't have to physically travel somewhere to get lost in an adventure. Find a good book and get lost in that. Currently, I'm reading two books at once with the goal of finishing both by the end of the month. The Thing Around Your Neck* by Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche and Between the World and Me* by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

9. Brunch at Home

Part of being the queen of treat yo self is knowing all the best spots to brunch. Doesn't everyone like to indulge in champagne and OJ after a long week of dong the bare minimum? Sometimes, $40 bottomless mimosas isn't feasible or simply a good idea. Invite your girls over for pot-luck style brunch. Everyone can bring one item- eggs, champagne, juice, biscuits, etc. Cook for yourselves and make your own mimosas and it's still a great morning. 

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10. Find Free Local Events

There are more free things in your area than you think but you have to look for them. I use Facebook events to stay up to date on events near me and use apps like Pulsd to see what free or cheap events I can catch in NYC. 

How do you treat yourself on a budget?

 

The Wine Down Vol. 1: Apothic Red Winemaker's Blend

My Sunday nights are usually spent roaming the (not-so-much) aisles of Trader Joe's. After I make my way though selecting produce, meat, and snacks for the week, my next stop is the wine section. There's a crazy selection of wines out there. For the longest time, Moscato was just what made sense for me. My palette thought everything else tasted like feet and my college student budget only had enough room for Barefoot. No shade to Barefoot, they held it down for years. I'm just ready to explore the other hundred options the liquor store offers. Now, as my palette matures, I'm more likely to give in to the extra $5 and go for a bottle based on more than just its look. While I'm opening up myself to these flavors, I'll be sharing my findings here. Allow me to to introduce The Wine Down, a wine series. Shouts to Issa Rae and Insecure. 

I'm in no way a wine expert. I'm not going to bore you with any wine jargon. Mostly because I don't know any. I'm your super basic wine drinker who can separate what tastes good and what tastes like feet. I figured if I'm already trying new bottles and sharing my opinions with my friends, I might as well put these thoughts on paper and bring them to you too.

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Wine has become the center of my girls nights lately. When you look at the amount of time and energy needed to get dressed up and go out in the city, it doesn't sound as fun. Most of the wines I tend to go for average at $15 or less. Having a wine night in the house is the better and cheapet alternative to clubs and bar-hopping. We get the same perks of going out without the cost of cute outfits, Uber rides, and over-priced Manhattan drinks. My friends and I effortlessly alternate buying bottles and sit around in each others' company talking, laughing, and dancing just as we would on a night out.

While grocery shopping this week, I decided I would make my first attempt at a beef pot roast. It was a success! As eager as I was to pick up the same bottle of white I went with last week (more on that one later), I knew a red would be more fitting. I ended up going with the Apothic Red, Winemaker's Blend. I wanted something that wouldn't be super sweet like a sangria but also not as dry as Merlot. The bottle labels itself as a "masterful blend of rich zinfandel, flavorful Syrah, bold cabernet, and smooth merlot.' 

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I found the taste to match the description. This is a bold red but you can actually taste the fruity flavors in it. The hints of vanilla are really apparent and I think that's what saves it from being too dry. It was a great addition to my pot roast dinner so I imagine any steak and potato style meals will be best.

I got this bottle for $9.99. It tastes nothing like a "cheap red" and I'll probably keep this in  rotation as I seek out new ones to try. 

 

Wine Tasting + Apple Picking

At the beginning of October, my best friend and I wanted to bring in the Fall season being a little festive. What says Happy Autumn better than pumpkins, apples, and apple cider donuts? Laura found the cutest little orchard in Princeton, Terhune Orchards. It has a winery, a farm store, apple picking, and barn activities that are perfect for families. 

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We arrived in Princeton at around 3pm. After parking in the lot and making our way over to the main area, our first visit was the wine tasting room. For $5, we got to choose five different wines to taste. Naturally, I forgot to take a picture of the list (derp) but my favorites were an Apple wine that tasted like Moscato and their Rooster Red. I'm not a big fan of red, mainly cause it's usually served at room temperature but this one was chilled and had a nice sweetness to it. 

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After the tasting, we both left with a glass of the the Rooster Red and walked around the farm area. The farm store was full of fresh produce, flowers, and a bunch of different desserts. We both left with bags of apple cider donuts and I may or may not have finished mine the same day. 

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Afterwards, we wanted to pick some apples at 13 Van Kirk Road. They have apple picking everyday from 9am-5pm. It was about a three minute drive from where we originally parked. We picked up a map of all the current apples. The ones circled were the ones available that day.

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We hopped on a little carriage ride that drove us around part of the orchard then got to walk through and pick our apples. 

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The apples all look "dusty" when you pull them off the branch, then turn into these beauties.

The apples all look "dusty" when you pull them off the branch, then turn into these beauties.

If you're looking to spend a day doing something different with bae, a girls day, or even some family fun, I'd definitely check this place out. If you need more than wine and donuts, you can pay to access area where they sell more food. Altogether, I spent less than $15 including the tasting, the glass of wine, donuts, and apples. 

I didn't get to pick a pumpkin so I'll have to go back for one and a bottle of Rooster Red. 

Create the Life You Want

While I had my pique with post-grad life earlier this season, I've come to see this period for its hidden beauty. I was rushing to fall into a career that came with the picture perfect vision of climbing the ropes and being there for years. I thought I was ready to find a place to settle and make a life but instead, I found that I want to give myself the satisfaction of exploring my passion instead of what feels safe. 

Life after graduation is honestly a cluster of emotion and no one really tells you that part until it's happening. However, you should also remind yourself that this is the time to build the foundation of who you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now. When you find yourself working in a job that doesn't align with your goals and passions, it can feel daunting and almost worrisome. Is this all my life is supposed to be? Am I not as special as I thought? When this happens, check yourself fast. You're the only one who has the power to make these changes and create the life you want. 

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Nonetheless, a job is a job and the main priority is having your belly full and your bills paid. The fun part begins when you realize you have nothing tying you down. Your early 20s aren't supposed to be comfortable. It's about the hustle and being in conditions that force you to level up in preparation for the man or woman you're supposed to be. 

Eat shit for 24 months & eat caviar for the rest of your life.
— Gary Vaynerchuk

 

 

If you have a million and one entrepreneurial ideas but can't afford to not work, make your dreams happen after typical work hours. You're spending forty hours of your week doing something you don't love but what about the other 128 hours? I've come to learn that I have time to sit and build someone else's dream but no one is going to build mine unless I put the work in. Embrace the period of transition. Stack your money then work on you. 

As scary as it sounds, the best part of post-grad life is being free from what you have to do. We HAVE to go through middle school and high school then society says get a college degree. At this point, you're done being controlled by outside forces. It's scary at first. No one's holding your hand and the people around you are all in very different stages. You have friends getting engaged, friends moving across the country, some going back to school. Your options are apparently limitless. The hard part is knowing what's the right choice for you and sticking to it even when your heart is speaking a different language than everyone else's.

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And most importantly, do things on your own time. I was working on other people's clocks when it came time to find a new job because my text inbox is filled with "hows the job hunt going" and "did you leave (insert company) yet?"I still haven't figured out if they're asking for me or for themselves. What I have figured out is that success is subjective. What someone may consider "doing well" for themselves may be the opposite of the standards I have for myself and vice versa. 

While uncertainty can be uncomfortable, having the freedom to create the life you want is a luxury. Embrace it.  

 

California Love, 7 Days in Los Angeles: Part 1

As an end-of-summer treat to myself, I booked a flight to see my best friend and college roomie in LA. The post-grad blues were hitting us both pretty strong and being together for a week was what both of us needed to get back to normal. 

I booked my flight through United. I went with basic economy and I probably won't ever do that again unless the price difference is drastic. I got lucky with having a Mileage plus card, I was able to get my first checked bag free and a full size carry on. The usual basic economy rules don't allow you to choose your seats, sit with your group, travel with a full sized-carry on, or change your flight. 

I thought I was all good with that until I got seated in the last row, right by the bathrooms. Some people think this is the safest seat on the plane but as someone whose easily triggered by turbulence, middle seats work best. I managed to get my seat changed last minute. Shout out to the wonderful lady at the gate. 

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Day 1

After I got off the plane and claimed my bag, Samhitha and Laxy picked me up from the airport and we headed right to brunch. We ate at The Butcher's Daughter, a vegetarian/vegan friendly cafe filled with plants and natural lighting. I got a breakfast burrito that had eggs, cheese, tomato, and avocado. They also served golden lattes which was surprising (well not really, it is Cali) since I've only ever made them at home. A golden latte is almond milk base with turmeric and additional spices. This one had cayenne which I normally don't add when I make mine. It's a great digestion aid but the taste wasn't one I'd go back for. I'd opt for more of a honey + cinnamon taste. 

After brunch, we checked out Venice Beach. I'm a big Gilmore Girls fan and remembered the area from season 3 when Jess leaves Stars Hollow to visit his dad. 

I saw Teyana Taylor on the boardwalk- the beginning of my path to Hollywood fame. 

Day 2

Our Cali plan turned into Cali + Vegas since half of our squad hadn't been been before. We decided to keep day 2 simple so we could prepare for the four hour drive to Sin City. 

We had lunch at Tender Greens, did some last minute Vegas shopping, then met up with some friends for happy hour in Hermosa. 

Day 3 

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After checking in to the hotel and changing out of workout clothes, we hit the strip in search of margaritas. We debated between Senor Frogs and a smaller no-name place but went to SF. I'm not sure if it was a better deal but we got two yard pitchers for about $48, buy one get one free.

After drinks, we found a great happy hour deal inside The Veneitian and stopped in since we had an hour to kill before dinner. 

Dinner was my favorite part of Vegas. I know, who am I? We definitely did this totally wrong because we were so stuffed when it came time to head to the clubs. I still think about the fried chicken and collard greens. 

We napped then headed out to see what Vegas nightlife had to offer. 

Day 4

We spent day 4 in the pool at Wet Republic. I forgot to get a waterproof case so we kept our phones away for majority of the day. If only we were interesting enough to say there are no pics 'cause what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of my trip to the West Coast.

Spoiler alert: it includes a trip to the mega Taco Bell in Vegas.