fiscal fast


ok, promise not to make this a failed new year’s resolution, but I’m going to do my best to blog at least once a week. Holding myself accountable to at that. So what’s new in the life and times of the grape street kids you ask? The holidays are all over and throughout that time I have to admit I had a streak of bad luck. The Jetta officially died, my bike tire broke, and my phone was drowned by someone I won’t mention by name. Anyway, for a few days it felt like I couldn’t buy a bounce. Luckily, my parents stepped in multiple times to save the day and I couldn’t be more thankful. My mom got a BALLER new car and I took the Accord (which is pretty cool too). They funded a new phone when yet again Sprint’s insurance program proved to be a true scam. Throughout the whole process though I realized how expensive the world is, like I could not have afforded any of that. We always talk about being poor college students but I currently writing this in a heated house, while cooking dinner, as my premium Spotify plays in the background. It’s almost like we glamorize it. Anyway that’s another post another dollar. Back to my point. Life is expensive and I am bad at saving money. The next few weeks I’m going on a fiscal fast. I’m actually calling it that because it makes it seem fun right? Anyway, goals are as follows:

Wake up early enough to brew coffee at home and take it to go. The Eagles are done and even though Dunkin’ keeps trying to pull me back with 99 cent iced coffee I’m going to stay strong. Plus, buying coffee out used to be something I treated myself to. Now Volo and sbucks are the norm and I need to knock it off. Did you know what a red eye is? It’s a coffee from Starbucks with s shot of espresso. Apparently a black eye is one with 2 shots. Is this common knowledge? Anyone want to buy me one? I’m on a fiscal fast over here.

Pump the brakes on the amazon purchases. Hard. Finish the books I’m reading now before I move on (Atlas Shrugged, Spiritual Genius, and a travel book for Brazil if you were wondering).

Fill up my gas tank every time I even think about crossing the Ben or the Walt into Jersey. That shit is CHEAP there and they also pump it for you which is worth a million dollars when it is this cold outside (s/o to lady sykes in Chicago. It was -1 there this morning!).

Cook at home for 6 out of 7 dinners a week. Find a way to buy cheaper organic chicken (don’t worry mom, I’m buying the regular until I can find cheap).

Open a grown up savings account and put 15% of each paycheck in.

Uber less. Ride my bike more. 3 weeks no material purchases.

Saving $$$$,



Finding Headspace

After a whirl-wind fall break, Modonnell and I picked a new weekly challenge – meditating a little with the popular App, Headspace. I’ve continued to keep getting up early following our rise ‘n shine challenge and my mornings have been both fun and productive. However, it seems like a good idea to add something more here. So let’s investigate Headspace.

I’m on day two of the program, and so far, it’s just what you would expect. It’s a guided meditation, a guy named Andy Puddicombe narrates the “practice” (he even have a British accent, which means he is smart, right?). According to their website, getting more “headspace” helps with managing stress, fostering creativity, increasing focus, reducing anxiety, and building relationships, all noble goals. Further, the website notes that just after 11 hours of mindful meditation, “practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain that involves monitoring our focus and self-control.” After the first two sessions, I’m 20 minutes in. Only 10 hours and 40 minutes to go.

We’ll keep you updated as we move through the week.

In the meantime, I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22 (I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)


p.s. peep my new jam


Step 1: It is imperative that you read this article (posted below).

Dear Prudence

Step 2: May you be filled with wonder and disgust at what you just read above.

Growing up, anticipation for Halloween was greater than the average college student’s anticipation for Thirsty Thursday. I remember carefully studying each costume option in Party City, my mom patiently trudging behind my brother and I as we tried on the options in the hunt for the perfect costume. She willingly overpaid for manufactured costumes that we wanted, even if they would only be worn a couple of times. My mom understood Halloween. Children are stuffed into schools at a young age, forced to learn practical things like reading, writing, and math. Certainly, I of all people believe in the importance of education…but sometimes, schools can, accidentally, stamp out some creativity in a child’s life, with the earnest goal of educating them well. Halloween fulfilled the fantasies of children once a year, allowing them to proudly parade around in their alter-ego.

Every Halloween, my parents would order pizza for dinner. My brother and I would suit up, meet up with our neighbors, and depart for the night. My parents would stay behind, appropriately oohing and aahing at kids’ costumes all night long and handing out candy. I think our family distributed over 10 pounds of candy every year, until the neighborhood got older and the Halloween visitors became more sparse. I had off every year on November 1 (All Saints’ Day-yay for Catholic schools!) and my brother and I would make ‘candy trades’. We exchanged Almond Joys and Butterfingers, and surrendered all hope that our dad wouldn’t eat the majority of the Reese’s in the candy bowl.

Although my neighborhood has changed quite a bit (people growing up & moving out), it was a Halloween haven as a child. My neighborhood is large, well lit, and safe, and had plenty of young families with children. The neighborhood was dotted with a few scary haunted houses that you scurried by when you were little, and eventually gained the courage to walk up to the driveway as you got older. (A special shout out to my neighbor a few doors down, who used to spend weeks decorating his house with cobwebs, a coffin on the front porch, black and strobe lights, and donned a mortician’s outfit on Halloween).

My neighborhood had a lot of visitors on Halloween. Why wouldn’t it? Down the road, there are a few neighborhoods that probably weren’t the best place to grow up. I have no doubt that on Halloween, the homes there would, for the most part, be dark.

Poor children are disadvantaged in so many ways. They are more likely to come from single parent households and have less ability to spend a lot of time with their parent(s). Their neighborhoods are more dangerous. Studies show that by the time they start school as four year olds, they are already behind their wealthier peers. They are likely to suffer from food insecurity. While social services may help with the above factors, there are no social services to ensure that a child has the right to celebrate Halloween.

Allow these kids normalcy. This Halloween, please, PLEASE, allow them one comfort: the ability to engage in a safe, fantasy-filled night like everyone else. They probably need it more.

P.S. The same for older kids. Adults may not be the only ones regretting the time passing by so quickly.


I can’t imagine this is what the real world is actually like

“I really hate assigning group projects, but this is what the real world is like.” This is what a professor told me today. If he is right, add this to the list of reasons I don’t want to go into the real world. Group projects, for me like so many others, are one of the devil’s play things aptly administered by PhDs across the nation. This project in particular could not be ANY easier. It is literally making charts in Microsoft Excel and then walking the class through via PowerPoint (another weapon of Satan himself) how you made said chart.

I get the professor’s point. It’s important to learn to work with others, particularly when you have differently personalities and interests. Generally, it’s just an good life skill to develop. But being assigned a group with people that care about their GPA as much as I care about their GPA is disheartening. Working with motivated people pushes you to a higher potential, it’s one of the things that makes you a better, more productive student. But being forced to hold someone’s hand while they pretend to play dumb just isn’t fair. Compounding the problem is how un-challenging the project is. It’s just not fulfilling. Anyway I could rant on and on about this. Before I stop, a note to anyone assigning a group project. 1. Make sure it is challenging. 2. Utilize individual differences in a way that diversifies and enriches the project. 3. Don’t make people “play down.” Instead, find a way to challenge all people involved in a way that fosters teamwork.

I can’t say because I haven’t really been there, but this is the type of group project I think will prepare us for “the real world.”


quick! can you overnight keys???

Ok. You would think that someone that loves traveling as much as I do would be a little better at it. Fall break was this weekend and I was lucky enough to head back to the ‘burgh for a few days with the fam squad. On Friday morning I woke up, showered, and looked in my bag to get dressed for the day. Here’s what Thursday afternoon Chris thought would be good to pack:

– iPhone charger (seems sensible)

-(2?????) vests (apparently in case the weather was particularly fall-like?)

– (1,000) pairs of underwear (no idea why.)

– jeans

– (1) shirt.

Honestly…that’s it. I’d like to say it was just me being a good packer. Everything I needed and nothing else. This was as far from the case as possible. I had to borrow just about everything I wore this weekend (s/o Andy & Dad) and looked kind of like a fool as I attempted to not look like a fool. To make matters worse, even after I checked to make sure I had everything with me on my return to Philly, I discovered I left my car keys in Pittsburgh…..wut.

What’s the point here? I started thinking, why are you SO bad at packing, Chris? I think I came up with an answer. Most of my day to day operations work around my phone. I check emails for confirmations. I have pictures of most important documents, usernames, calendars etc. stored securely in my phone. I don’t have to think about things until I need them for the most part. My phone even reminds me about upcoming assignments and to keep working on long term projects at a good pace (s/o to Dr. J for the wunderlist intel). So, while so much of my stuff is in the “cloud” I’m down here bopping from task to task. While it’s not like I’m completely mindless about the whole thing, I think I’m missing some of the bigger picture. While it’s helpful to have the cloud full of information that I can pull from whenever I need it, I’m thinking I need to start being a bit more mindful of where I am going and why (or adding more detail to iPhone events). Either way, I think it’s an indicator of responsibility. While I’m a strong planner, I think it needs to be a goal to think about how where I’m going and what I’m doing will affect other people, how my plans need to include them as well (thanks for overnighting the keys, mom). Anyways, just a thought.



Branding 2.0

Way back when, Chris posted about developing our brand and casually mentioned that we keep tabs, via social media, on two well-dressed people with diverse interests and a love of the outdoors. Inspiration, if you will.

Without revealing the identities of the two people we follow so closely, I will say that they were dating. Sadly, it’s looking like there’s trouble in paradise.

With our two most trusted, brand-developed people in jeopardy, I leave you with the two videos below. Talk about branding-these two have got it figured out.




I find solace and peace in the mornings, but I have to admit that I was dreading this week’s challenge a little bit. 5 AM is just SO early, especially when I’ve got JB snoozin’ right next to me.

Monday was a complete and utter failure. With JB home for the night, I was all alone. While this may seem unrelated to waking up, he has early classes every day of the week, so I am usually woken up before ever needing to actually get out of bed. Predictably, I did not awake at 5 AM and upon trying to open my door, Chris realized that I had locked it the night before. Oops. With a 6:30 rise and shine time, it was still the earliest I’ve gotten up since my internship this summer.

Today, Tuesday, wasn’t a whole lot better. Although I got out of bed at 5, I quickly fell back into slumber. MBA classes have a pretty strange schedule, so I started all new classes this morning. Therefore, I had no outstanding homework to complete. It was pretty easy to convince myself to go back to bed. I did get up at 6:30 once again, which feels like an accomplishment after sleeping in until 8/9 AM every morning this semester.

This week’s challenge has been especially interesting to me, considering recent developments in my own life. Within the last few weeks, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Basically, this means that my thyroid is sucking at being a thyroid, and I get tired out really easily. When I wake up, it feels like being in a fog-even if I just slept for 12 hours. I started treatment last week, and although I am starting to feel a little bit better, it will take about two months for me to feel totally normal again. My point in bringing this up is that this challenge causes me to wrestle with instant gratification vs. discipline. It’s so easy to tell myself that I’m tired and should go back to sleep, even though I could very well nap in the middle of the day if I feel worn out. Therefore, it’s really the discipline aspect that I want to focus on for the second half of the week, ensuring that I am not making excuses for myself instead.

Also, I definitely buy into the “successful people rise early” theory. Don’t I owe it to myself to rise and shine to join the club? 😉

Sweet dreams,


Good Morning!

This week’s challenge – get up at 5 am everyday. Melissa and I have read a ton of article’s over the past couple of weeks about “successful” people. One thing, according to many of the articles, these people have in common is they get up early and start their day long before the rest of the world has hit snooze for the first time. So at 5 am today I got up and started the day off strong. After the gym and breakfast, I wrapped up some homework I didn’t get done over the weekend. Here I am now writing a blog post with some time left over to start studying for a quiz tomorrow and putting a presentation together. I’ve gotten more done in the quiet morning than I get done on the average day. So far so good, we’ll see if I can stay awake in my art class tonight.

Besides all this rise and shine business, Brad made another philosophical contribution yesterday (Brad’s one of our yoga teachers who has a lot to say, sometimes we get it, other times not so much). He was talking about having things “under control but not controlling.” I thought this was pretty useful insight, particularly when working on long term school projects. When projects are under control, they flow pretty easily. Put in an hour here, another hour there and before you know it you have a pretty good piece of work. I think when you find yourself stressed out about homework and projects is when you are trying to “control” the work. You’re fighting with it, forcing yourself to sit down and get it done. Instead of having fun learning and being creative in the work you are under its pressure and in fact letting it control you. As is the case with many of these types of things, it’s likely easier said than done. I’ll let you know if I can figure out how to have fun while reading Karl Marx this week.

Now, if only the Eagles could win every day, this whole getting up early would be easier with a free coffee.



A few weeks ago I finished reading All That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, a duo that refers to themselves as “the minimalists.”  I can’t lie. I am so easily influenced by books like this that sometimes I scare myself. Give me a kind of the social sciency / here’s what’s wrong with society / here’s what you should do kind of book and I am all in. All That Remains was exactly that. I even joked with the lady at the bookstore, “I’m literally going to read this and then throw everything away” (don’t worry if you’re reading this mom – I didn’t). The book was great – informative and thought-provoking while staying light on the preachy and it really did get me thinking about what is totally necessary in my life. I wrote out a list of a couple of things I really believed I need for success and happiness in my own life. I won’t share here because I don’t think there is much of a point, different people need and want different things in order to be happy.

Part of the point of the book, however, is really thinking about the idea of “value-added.” Before buying something, according to “the minimalists,” you think “How much value is this one thing going to add to my life?” Quality over quantity is likely the end goal to the repeating question. (one guy in the book had something like 50 possessions! Including things like soap and a tooth brush)

Ok so what’s the point? I can literally hear you screaming at me right now. Part of my motivation for the blog was to share my thoughts not only with my friends but also my family. Being away from home ends up in a lot of phone conversations like “How much is rent?” “Mom, could you throw $20 in my account, I need it this weekend.” “How was your day? good? okay gotta run.” It’s no one’s fault, but conversation is inherently different on the phone versus over dinner. I miss my dad asking “What do you think about that?” So here is my chance to write about it. Which got me thinking…I think my grandma would love reading this. Then I thought, “A. She doesn’t have wifi. B. She doesn’t have a computer to log onto wifi. C. Even if she did, she really wouldn’t want to.” A computer doesn’t add any value to her life.

Only two days in and it has been hard to unplug. Moving forward though, it seems like it might make sense to think of using my computer in a way that adds value. Get on, write that senior seminar paper that’s looming, get off and go do something fun. Plus, anything Patty Hanno can go without, so can I.


p.s. shoutout to The Spiral Bookcase for the book recommendation. Give it a visit if you’re ever in the ‘yunk

“I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for.”

Jennifer Lawrence’s silence on the naked photos stolen from her phone has been broken. Upon the hacking of her iPhone in late August, the images were published across the Internet. It seems unbelievable that some people still do not understand one principle: A woman’s body is NOT public property. Private pictures are meant to be shown only to the desired recipient. Women’s bodies are not objects, to be whistled at from afar in a dirty truck or to be commented on as she walks on by. No one “asked for it” to happen to them.

Jennifer Lawrence aptly describes what happened to her, categorizing the event as a sex crime. She said, “It is a sexual violation. It is disgusting.The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

Jennifer Lawrence will be featured on the cover of the November edition of Vanity Fair (cover below). The cover highlights an important issue: that she participated in this photo shoot willingly, knowing that one image would be chosen to grace the cover. The difference between the cover below and the release of her (fully) naked photos is mere consent.

The FBI and Apple are now investigating the hack, and Ms. Lawrence is urging for the enactment of digital privacy laws. Let’s hope that this exploitation will be the last.