Rachel

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Happy Friday, friends! This is the first full weekend home I’ve had in nearly a month, so I’m pretty happy to finally be getting things done around the house that I’ve been neglecting! Also on the agenda for the weekend? Heading to a hockey game with my coworkers and celebrating my dad’s birthday! What’re you all up to this weekend?

The Salary Project

Have you ever wondered what kind of salaries other people make? Career Contessa launched The Salary Project to help out with that and it’s an amazing resource to have! You can view anonymous salary submissions by age, location, industry, and job title. Super handy info to have whether you’re just curious, are wanting a raise/career switch, or to help negotiate your salary for a new job.

Salary Project

Tone It Up Vanilla Protein

I’ve been trying to be better about making my diet a little healthier and last month decided to give the whole protein shake thing a try. I know absolutely nothing about protein so I did a little bit of digging to find the right one to try out. It seems like everyone and their mother are obsessed with TIU and their protein mix is low in calories, sugars, and carbs, so I decided to give their plant-based vanilla protein mix a try, and mixing in a banana with it. I’ve been drinking these “shakes” 3-4 mornings a week and am really loving them!

Tone It Up Protein

Revolutionary War Skit

Did you catch the epic revolutionary skit on SNL a couple weeks ago? I finally got around to watching it and it’s pretty dang funny. The rivalry is REAL with sports fans, especially when it came to the Eagles vs. Patriots a few weeks ago!

Where are my fellow Game of Thrones fans at?!

When my dad and I traveled to Ireland back in October, checking out the GOT filming locations (really doing all the GOT-related things) was at the top of our list. And luckily, we were able to see quite a bit of them! Perhaps the most exciting stop? Winterfell Castle!

A-Morning-at-Winterfell-Castle

About Winterfell

Although we know it as Winterfell Castle, it’s “real world” name is Castle Demesne, and it’s located just under an hour outside of the Belfast city center, in a pretty remote area of Northern Ireland!

We ended up opting for a (very pricey) Uber ride to/from Belfast, but there are also full day tours here which I’d recommend if you (A) have the time and (B) don’t have a rental car, due to it being so far off the beaten path and no direct transportation.

There are a few different activities you can do at Winterfell, but we opted to do the archery experience and cycle tour and had an absolute blast!

Winterfell-Entrance

Upon arrival, we were shown a really cool video of how GOT used a ton of green screen + CGI technology to build up the Winterfell we see when watching the show. I now totally get why it takes them a while to get the show together. There’s TONS of work done after the original shoot. I mean, TONS. The Winterfell you see in real life is essentially a tower, a courtyard, and some small rooms off to the side.

I’ll admit that it was slightly disappointing that it wasn’t more of a complete castle, BUT that’s the magic of Hollywood, guys. Being able to see how it all comes together really gave me a new appreciation for it!

Winterfell-Brothel

Archery Experience

Our first activity of the day was the archery experience. This was what I was most excited for, because archery is something neither my dad nor I had ever done!

We were first brought to the wardrobe area, where we were given the many layers of traditional Winterfell wear (which obviously keeps you warm because WINTER IS COMING) to throw on over our clothes. These pieces were used by HBO in the filming of the show, so we felt pretty legit.

Winterfell-Archery-GOT

Once we were suited up in proper GOT attire, we made our way to the archery area, which is in the exact same location you see in season 1, where archery’s being practiced!

Our instructor (who acted as an extra in several episodes of the show – exciting!) taught us the 3 basic moves of archery (stance, nock, draw), let us shoot a few practice arrows, and then the competition began! I’m proud to say I was the winner (even if it was just by a few points)! Archery is SO not as easy as it looks, but is super fun!

You might notice that there aren’t other people around in the background. We actually booked a private lesson to maximize our time at the range, and it was well worth it!

Archery-at-Winterfell Archery-Range-Winterfell

Westeros Cycle Trail

After we changed out of our GOT attire, we geared up for our next activity, the Westeros Cycle Trail. This one was pretty interesting because neither of us had ridden a bicycle in probably 20 years, so we had sea legs for the first few minutes getting used to it all over again (#embarrassing).

Winterfell-Westeros-Cycle

This was a self-guided activity, so they gave us a backpack filled with GOT props (in case we wanted to stop for a photoshoot along the way) and an iPad with the map of each filming location and a short clip to watch the scene and/or see how it was pulled together.

Some of the filming locations we saw along the way?

  • Castle Window that Bran Stark falls from
  • Tree that Robb Stark & Talissa get secretly married under
  • Forest path where Tyrion whistles and walks
  • Castle from Walder Freys ‘The Twins’ & Red Wedding
  • Cottage of Winterfell brothel
  • Field of Baelor Battle

Walter-Frey-CastleWinterfell-BattleWinterfell-Cycle-Stop

I was pleasantly surprised to see that so many episodes (both old and newer) were filmed here, considering in the show the characters are traveling all over the place. In reality, there might’ve been a few steps between a scene shot in season 1 and one in 6!

We found the iPad incredibly helpful in visualizing the scenes since obviously there was no setup as we cycled through the area. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful scenery to take in. I can totally see why they chose this location to film!

Overall Thoughts on Winterfell Tours

While we only had a few short hours at Winterfell, I can’t recommend it enough! It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and something we’ll always remember – especially our fancy GOT costumes and shooting arrows!

I do wish we had a little more time to explore and try out some of the other activities, like meeting the direwolf dogs, glaming GOT-style, or embarking on one of their extensive private tours… but that’s just an excuse to plan another trip back one day!

Winterfell-CastleCastle-Ward

Are you a GOT fan? Which activities would you be most interested in doing at Winterfell?

I’m not sure how or why the days, weeks, months, and years seem to be flying by faster and faster as time goes on, but they somehow do!  I know I’m not alone in wishing to have more time, pause, or just stop it for a while. But unfortunately, that invention hasn’t come to fruition just yet. So until then, we just have to make the most of our time!

Even if you only have a few minutes to spare here and there throughout the day, you can achieve a lot more than you think you can! Here are 10 productive things you can do in 10 minutes or less!

10 Productive Things to do in 10 Minutes or Less

Declutter

Let’s start with the biggest one of the new year – decluttering! I’m not talking tackling an entire room in your home, but taking a few minutes to toss old mail sitting on the counter, fold laundry sitting in the basket/dryer, or to clean out your purse! And if you’re wanting to do a deeper dive into decluttering, check out this post to help you get started!

Write a To-Do List

When you’re always go-go-go it can be hard to keep track of all of the balls in the air. Writing a to-do list will help you keep everything straight, and plus, nothing beats that great feeling of checking something off the list once it’s complete!

Schedule Appointments

Have you scheduled your annual doctor appointment(s)? Been putting off an important networking catch-up or coffee date with a friend? Take a few minutes to get these things on the books!

Read the Latest News

Staying up on current events is something that can fall by the wayside when you’re to-do list is 1,000 miles long. But newsletters like theSkimm and Morning Brew give you all the top story highlights you need, and only take a few minutes of your day to read!

Take a Walk/Exercise

When you’re busy, getting a workout in isn’t the easiest. But if you have a few minutes to spare, take a quick walk around the block, do some stretching, or get a mini-workout in! I’ve been using the free version of the 8fit app to keep me on track and it’s been fantastic, even with my crazy schedule!

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

When’s the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Now’s the time! Not only can you keep your network in the loop about what you’re up to in the career world, but you can also make new connections and build your personal brand!

Plan Your Meals + Place an Order

Despite best intentions to save money, dining out always seems to be a downfall for most of us! But planning ahead will do wonders for your wallet AND likely help you eat something much healthier. To help you get even more time back, use a grocery delivery service. It’ll help you save SO much time and help you avoid the endcap splurges. I’ve been using Instacart and can’t recommend it enough!

Check in with Friends/Family

When was the last time you chatted with your long-distance bestie? Your grandma? Your parents? Pick up the phone for a quick chat! If you’re a big talker (like me) and know you’ll get caught up on the phone a little longer than that, send out a few text messages or emails to check in with your loved ones!

Respond to Emails/Blog Comments

One of the hardest things to keep up with sometimes is emails, and if you’re a blogger, responding to comments. Sitting down to focus for 10 minutes (or less), you can definitely get quite a bit accomplished in this category! Alternatively, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your inbox, clean it up! Unroll.me is SO helpful with keeping all of your sale/”spammy” emails separate from the emails you really need to pay attention to.

Learn a New Skill

Learning a new skill, whether for your career or as a hobby (or both!) is always a great way to spend a few extra minutes. Plus, there are SO many apps and websites out there to help you build your skills – and FOR FREE!

 

What are some productive things you do in 10 minutes or less?

Happy Monday, friends! So sorry for the radio silence last week. It was a pretty hectic week with a conference I was at for work, so I didn’t have a chance to pop in here. I did have a great (although way too fast) weekend relaxing though – I hope you did too!

And now with it being the day after the Super Bowl, let’s debrief. Firstoff, FLY EAGLES, FLY! Despite being a Vikings fan, I was rooting for the Eagles in the SB since it’s my dad’s team and also, I just wanted anyone but the Patriots. Sorry, Bill & Tom, but it’s time for someone else to be in the spotlight!

I was also pumped for the Super Bowl because it’s the one day of the year I actually enjoy watching commercials (#brandbowl). This year, companies dropped over $5 MILLION for a 30-second ad, and there were quite a few that had multiple ads running throughout the night. While I wasn’t too impressed with this year’s commercials overall, there were a few that really stood out to me!

The Best Super Bowl LII Commercials

Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice

Despite being one of the earlier commercials during the Super Bowl, the Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice one was hands down my favorite! I mean rap battle between Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lanister) and Morgan Freeman?! Yes, please!

E*Trade “This is Old”

An incredibly close second came from E*Trade, who changed the lyrics to Harry Belafonte’s Classic “Banana Boat (Day-O)” song to “85 and I wanna go home.” Kind of a genius way to remind people they should start thinking about their financial future a little earlier in life to avoid having to work during the golden years. Also, all the laughs between listening to the lyrics and the accompanying visuals.

Rocket Mortgage

Life can be pretty complicated sometimes, and I loved the position Rocket Mortgage took on it! Keegan-Michael Key acted as a helper in the background, dropping knowledge on what things are, from hair styles to menu items to the mortgage process, when you have absolutely no idea.

All the Tide Ads

David Harbour (Hopper from Stranger Things) popped up quite a bit in Tide commercials, and they were spot on! Tide basically took all the ads we’re used to seeing (e.g. beer, cars) and showed that they’re really all related to Tide!

 

Did you have any favorite commercials during the Super Bowl this year?

And just like that, it’s Friday again.. whoa! This week has been one of the fastest (and craziest) in history it feels like! Even faster than vacation, and that’s saying something! The first quarter of the year is always busiest for me at work with jumping into the new year and some high profile events, so I’m really happy that I have a massage on the books this weekend so I can unplug from the world + relax for an hour!

Anti-Blue Light Glasses

I’ve dealt with some crazy headaches/migraines and have a feeling a good part of it’s related to me spending A LOT of time on devices that emit blue light (i.e. my phone and computer). At last year’s BlogHer event, I discovered a really cool company that offers non-prescription glasses and couldn’t place an order fast enough to get a pair! And I love them so much that I got a second pair (thanks, Pixel)! I keep one at home and carry another with me for traveling or when I’m in the office for work.

Anti-blue-light-glasses

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer

After hearing all kinds of praise for Revlon’s One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer, I decided to pull the trigger and get one, and guys, I can attest after using this baby daily, it’s totally life-changing! And it’s especially great if you have a tendency to run late and/or are lazy with your hair. Basically, there’s a hairdryer under the brush bristles (with settings high/low warm and cool) and you just brush your hair and style it… with ONE tool in about 10 minutes! AHHH-MAZING.

revlon-one-step-hair-dryer-and-volumizer

Jimmy Fallon Misheard Lyrics

Ending the week on a high note with some Friday funnies! Misheard lyrics are some of my favorite things to hear/read about! Enjoy the video below of some misheard lyrics fans sent in to Jimmy Fallon! I couldn’t stop laughing!