twenty eight, feelin’ great
this past tuesday marked my 28th birthday, and i said this last year when i turned 27, but… twenty eight… seriously?!
just to backtrack for a minute… on may 10th, 2015, i was in l.a., hoping that my plan to leave new york for the best coast would end up working out… not knowing where i was going to live or work… how or if i was going to make new friends… and a year later, i’m here, working at a company i love, and surrounded by some of the most amazing people i’ve ever met… pretty. effing. insane.
last year i made a list of 27 things i’d learned in my 27 years on the planet, and this year i thought i would keep the tradition alive, but instead of 28 life lessons i thought i would list twenty eight things i’m grateful for. practicing gratitude has become a part of my morning routine over the past few months, and it just seemed fitting. so, here goes nothin’.
- for my family and friends, near and far. they are the most important things in my life, always and forever.
- that it doesn’t snow in l.a… ever.
- for my job at snacknation and all of the amazing people it has brought into my life.
- for my big girl apartment.
- that i no longer have to take public transportation… ever.
- for music, especially the way it brings people together.
- for the beach [where i could go every day if i wanted to.]
- for my morning routine, even though i over sleep from time to time and have no time to do it.
- that my hard work is paying off, even if it took longer than i thought it should have.
- for re-discovering my love of camping. seriously, my amazon cart is full of camping gear after going to joshua tree a few weeks ago.
- for blogging and having this creative outlet to do what i really love to do… write!
- for yoga.
- that leo finally won an oscar. about damn time.
- for puppies. still don’t have one of my own, but one of these days that’s going to change.
- for coffee. not sure how people make it by without it.
- that i broke up with the scale and haven’t looked back.
- that i took the leap and moved to l.a. i’ve never felt more at home.
- that i can workout outside all. year. round. [hello, hiking!]
- for the people in my life who call me out on my sh*t.
- for learning how to put myself out there.
- for being able to say that i’m making serious progress with mastering my mean girl.
- for pizza. never not grateful for pizza. and also grateful for margaritas.
- for the bad days. they make the good days even better.
- for weekends away when i can disconnect from social media and my phone… and reality.
- that i said “yes!” to almost everything for a while, but grateful that i’m starting to say “no” again.
- to be going to the u.k. in july with my family. nothing gets me excited quite like traveling does.
- that i’ve adopted the “i.d.g.a.f.o.s.” mindset. because there’s no point in being miserable.
- and last, but not least, i’m grateful for having another amazing year to look forward to!
thirtsy thursday: spicy cucumber margaritas
yes, i’m well aware that it’s not quite thursday yet, but since tomorrow is cinco de mayo, i wanted to make sure this post was up a day early, just in time for all of your balanced celebrations!
one thing you should know about me is that i effing love margaritas. for whatever reason, they have always been my favorite cocktail… maybe it’s because i associate them with the summertime, and sitting on the beach, soaking up the sun… but anyways, it was inevitable that i’d be experimenting with making my own, and what better a day to share the recipe with you than cinco de drinko?! [and there will be more where this came from, i can promise you that!]
this spicy cucumber margarita is pretty much the perfect balanced cocktail. the tequila will get you feelin’ a little loose while the cucumber will help keep you hydrated [and gives the drink a really light and crisp flavor] and finally, the jalapeño will not only add a little kick, but help boost your metabolism, too.
for 2 spicy cucumber margaritas you will need:
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed + thinly sliced [more or less to taste]
- juice squeezed from 4 limes
- 1/2 cup tequila blanco
- 2 tsp. raw honey [more or less to taste]
- coarse kosher salt, sweet chili powder + cane sugar for rim
- a few cucumber + jalapeño slices set aside for garnish
- place the cucumber and jalapeño slices, lime juice, tequila and honey in a blender. blend until smooth.
- on a small plate, combine a little salt, chili powder and cane sugar [about a tsp. of each should be good]. wet the rim with a leftover piece of lime, and then dip into salt, chili powder, sugar mixture.
- place several ice cubes in each serving glass along with one cucumber and one jalapeño slice.
- pour blended mixture over the ice, garnish glass with cucumber and jalapeño, top off with a fun paper straw [or a paper umbrella] and enjoy!
happy cinco de mayo! [and as always, no drinking + driving!]
the 3 podcasts i’m obsessed with right now
i’ve spent the last few months really refining my morning routine. to say that this has been a process for me is an understatement, but i’ve added something that has required no additional effort on my part: listening to podcasts while i’m getting ready!
to be honest, i was never really much of a podcast listener until a few months ago [aside from serial, obviously]… i love music and typically spent my mornings bopping around to whatever band/artist/d.j./pop diva that i felt spoke to my mood at the time, but once i realized how much amazing content is out there and available via podcast [and once serial wrapped up], i decided to dive a little deeper.
i’ve found a few podcasts that i’ve become obsessed with. they range from inspirational to funny to informative… whatever you’re looking for, i guarantee you can find it in a podcast!
so, without further ado, here are the 3 podcasts i’m obsessed with right now that i suggest you give a listen to, as well!
1. the skinny confidential’s him + her podcast
the skinny confidential has been one of my favorite blogs for a few years now, so when lauryn and her fiancé, michael, launched the him + her podcast, obviously i was going to jump onboard with it. they talk about everything from business tips to health and wellness to boob jobs [yep, seriously] to relationships, and they are effing hilarious. if you’re looking for a well-rounded, kind of random but also informative and funny podcast, start here.
2. this american life
the creators of this american life also created serial, so this seemed like a natural next step for me once the second season wrapped up. the format is very journalistic, and overall this podcast is kind of hard describe, but they cover a wide variety of topics that are super interesting. the best thing about this podcast is that it’s been around for a while, so the archives go waayyyyyyy back. you could literally listen for days. bonus: the host, ira glass, has the most amazing, soothing voice and is just lovely to listen to.
3. #girlboss radio
sophia amoruso, the founder of nasty gal and the author of #girlboss, is a huge inspiration for me, and #girlboss radio is right up my alley, too. i love her book, can’t wait for the next one, and truly admire her hustle and the empire she’s building. each week, she interviews a different #girlboss about their climb to the top, the struggles they went through to get there, and asks them what advice they would give those trying to find their way in the world.
so, there you have it. who knows… maybe one day bananas + bellinis will have a podcast… the wheels are certainly turning! [allison micco: i’m lookin’ at you.]
what are you favorite podcasts? share in the comments below… can’t wait to hear your suggestions!
all images via podbay.fm
pumping the brakes + disconnecting
today i want to talk about something that seems to be one of those things that we’re constantly reading and talking about, but not necessarily following through on. we see it everywhere… the idea of pumping the brakes, slowing down, and really enjoying life and living in the moment… but how often are we doing this?
it seems like we are constantly in a rush… a rush to get to the next task, the next event, the next day of the week, the next promotion, the next relationship, the next vacation… and we distract ourselves in those “in between” moments, often with things that don’t bring any real value to our lives, such as social media or television. and we’re doing this so much that we’re often missing some pretty important stuff along the way. [and listen, i enjoy social media and a good binge watch on netflix as much as the next person, but hear me out.]
a few weeks ago, i spent the weekend camping in joshua tree national park [i plan on blogging about this trip and my new obsession with camping soon, so stay tuned]. it was a group trip for a friend’s birthday, and i was going into it only knowing a few of the people who were going to be there. committing to a camping trip in a place you’ve never been with a bunch of people you don’t really know can be a little intimidating… factor in that you’re pretty far away from home and there is no cell phone service [aka no escape from moments where you maybe feel awkward or left out]… and yea, you could definitely say that i wasn’t sure how it would all pan out.
for those of you who aren’t familiar with joshua tree, it’s one of the national parks out here in socal, about 150 miles east of l.a. in the middle of the desert. the little towns that surround the park are exactly how you would imagine desert town to be, and within minutes of driving into the park, you find yourself in a dead zone.
the idea of being in a dead zone, without wifi or at least cell phone service for even a couple minutes freaks people out [remember those verizon commercials from years ago?]… let alone a whole weekend? forget it.
so, in the spirit of making a long story short: i went to joshua tree, disconnected from my day to day life for two days with a group of people i barely knew… and had one of the best weekends i’ve had in a while. i mean, look at this place!
we’re living in a world where being connected constantly is the expectation. cell phone service is one thing, but even having a wifi connection at places like the grocery store, bars and restaurants, or in a public park has become commonplace. and we all know that we’re spending wayyyyyyy too much time with our phones in our hands, mindlessly scrolling our social media feeds, and checking to see who has/hasn’t texted us… i mean, for crying out loud, we don’t even use our phones to actually talk to people anymore.
being in the middle of the desert without any kind of connection to the outside world was so refreshing. every single person on the trip was completely unreachable, which allowed us to interact and connect with one another the way human beings were meant to: with face to face conversation that isn’t being constantly interrupted by buzzing phones letting you know that someone, somewhere has sent you a message that is so trivial it can be said via text message instead of an actual phone call.
it was nice to look at my phone, see that there was less than 10% battery left and not have an anxiety attack about needing to charge it.
on top of all of this, i also noticed that i was rarely checking the time throughout the weekend. when you spend your days in front of a computer/phone screen, checking the time constantly becomes a habit. so, when you know that it’s impossible to have received a text or a facebook notification, you check your phone much less [if at all] and suddenly, time doesn’t matter anymore. you’re living in the moment, not fast-forwarding through it. you’re moving with the universe and the people you’re with in realtime… at a pace much slower than what you’re used to… and wow, does it feel good.
at the end of the weekend, i felt so rejuvenated and relaxed [even after a saturday night spent drinking pretty heavily… i mean, after all, there are some things i’m just not willing to get away from!] that the idea of heading back to the real world and getting reconnected actually made me a little sad, and i felt as if i was leaving a piece of myself behind in the desert [okay, yea, i know that’s cheesy a.f. but whatever, it’s true].
so, do you see the point i’m trying to make? whether you’re spending your weekends in dead zones, switching your phone to airplane mode for a few hours each day, or establishing a “no phones at dinner” rule [except to take food pictures, obviously], disconnecting from technology and slowing down is not only a good idea, it’s so important.
important for our relationships [all of them, with others and ourselves]… important for our sanity… and important for our self-worth and personal growth.
when we’re disconnected, we have no choice but to focus on what’s right in front of us… getting to know the people we’re with, acknowledging our insecurities, confronting personal problems we might be facing, whatever. we automatically slow down and take things moment by moment for what they are, and we don’t distract ourselves from what’s most important with things that are so trivial, yet have somehow managed to become a priority over everything else.
we also can’t engage in activities that make us feel sh*tty, such as comparing ourselves to the people on our instagram feeds who seem to have it all together [remember, it’s all a matter of perspective]. it’s pretty effing liberating.
so, i challenge you to come up with a way you can disconnected this week. for a society that lives and breathes in the digital space, disconnecting sounds terrifying… but in all honesty, you might be surprised by how much you enjoy going off the grid. even if it’s only for one hour, it’s something, and something is better than nothing. start small and see where it takes you. it’s always has been [and always will be] about those baby steps!
need a starting place? i wrote this post a looooongggg time ago about ditching your digital addiction… i’m still working on applying these tricks and staying consistent with them each day. it’s alway easier said than done, but getting started is the first step.
and personally, i’m committing to this 7-day smartphone detox, starting today. i want to make sure that i don’t lose sight of that feeling i had in joshua tree when i was completely disconnected, forced to the pump the breaks, and really just soak up the present moment.
if you’re asking yourself “what in the eff is hellofresh?” … allow me to fill you in:
there’s a new trend in the food world that i like to refer to as “meals on demand” … and the concept is pretty simple: a company ships you a box of ingredients and the recipes for pre-chosen meals… all you have to do is the cooking.
when these companies first started popping up, i was a little skeptical. it seemed to me like they were just encouraging laziness, but really, the opposite is true. i mean… think about it! while yes, this does eliminate the trip to the grocery store [which is where the word “lazy” came to my mind… i mean… it’s not that big of a deal] it also is encouraging cooking with real, whole foods over ordering takeout/delivery or popping a frozen pizza in the oven.
for many people, this means:
- no more having to search endlessly for recipes that don’t involve 47,000 ingredients and 3 hours of your time
- no more wandering aimlessly through the grocery store trying to get creative and come up with something to cook on your own
- no more guesswork on what’s good for you and what’s not
… all you have to do is place your order online and boom! meals delivered right to your door!
so, when hellofresh ads kept popping up on my facebook feed [they’re doing great with the targeted advertising apparently] i decided to see what all the buzz was about.
hellofresh sent me three meals, each of which produced two servings… since i live alone, this meant i received nearly a week’s worth of meals… and only had to do the work involved for three… talk about a win/win! [also worth noting: they offer a vegetarian box. yea, buddy!]
the three meals i received were:
ultimate springtime salad
loaded with veggies and a ton of flavor, this was hands down my favorite meal of the three! from the carrots to the fresh mozzarella, and from the roasted potatoes to the pesto, there was nothing about this dish i didn’t like. not too heavy, but not so light that it left me feeling hungry… it was also the fastest and the easiest to prepare. this is one i’ll definitely be making all spring and summer long.
asparagus + mushroom risotto with fresh parsley + lemon
this dish was pretty damn good… but also extremely labor intensive. the recipe [which was a little confusing in some places] said it would take about 45 minutes to prepare… when in reality, it took about an hour and fifteen minutes. making risotto is not for the faint of heart! with that being said, the end result was ultimately worth the blood, sweat and tears.
smoky black bean cakes
so… i have the biggest bone to pick with hellofresh over this one. again, the end results was delicious, but the process here was… a little frustrating. the bean cakes were supposed to be served over a bed of arugula with olive oil and balsamic vinegar… but by the time i got around to making this [2 days after my box arrived] the arugula had gone bad… and i mean really bad. no big deal though… i mean, this happens when you’re cooking with real, fresh ingredients. but, for the life of me, i could not get this mixture to form into cakes. i tried, and tried… and tried, but it just was not happening. the solution? i basically just turned it into a bean and corn salad topped with avocado salsa and sour cream… which was still pretty damn delicious.
overall, i really enjoyed the experience of having nearly all of the ingredients for a week’s worth of meals sent right to my door. the individually packaged boxes organized everything so well in my fridge, and really helped to simplify and streamline my week… something i think we all can use these days! i could definitely see myself using hellofresh again [esepcially if i know i have a busy week coming up] and would recommend them to friends and family.
the final verdict?
4/5 bananas for hellofresh!
what’s your favorite meals on demand service? which one should i try next?! let me know in the comments section!
thirsty thursday: mint + honey spiked moonshine tea
finally the day has come for the first installment of the thirsty thursday series! guys, i’m seriously so excited about this. why, you ask?
well, first and foremost, i’ve been noodling on the idea of incorporating more cocktail recipes into the mix [see what i did there?] here at bananas + bellinis for a while now… after all, there is an alcoholic beverage mentioned in both the blog name and tagline, so it just seemed appropriate.
second, i think this is going to be a great way for me to begin building out my niche a little better. while health, wellness, and creating a balanced lifestyle have always been my passions and the focus of this blog, i think zeroing in on a few more specialized topics will really help me set myself apart from the other healthy lifestyle bloggers out there.
and finally… just because who the hell doesn’t enjoy a cocktail from time to time? even better if the cocktail contains natural ingredients instead of all that artificial sh*t… amiright?!
now, i knowwwww that iced tea is technically a summer drink, but i snagged a sample of a sweet iced tea at expo west a few weeks ago and had to experiment with it [and it’s basically always summer in l.a., duh]. what did i come up with? this mint + honey spiked moonshine tea. read on.
ingredients for 2 servings:
- 2 shots of vodka [1 oz. each]
- 16 oz. moonshine mint + honey sweet tea
- 2 tsp. raw honey
- 1 lemon, sliced
- a few sprigs of fresh mint [plus extra for garnish]
- ice cubes
- place several ice cubes, about 4 fresh mint leaves, one lemon slice that’s been cut into quarters, and 1 teaspoon of raw honey in each of your serving glasses [these look especially cute served in mason jars].
- in a cocktail shaker combine the vodka and sweet tea with ice; shake, shake, shake it up! [my mason jar shaker is from sharper image, similar to this one.]
- pour the cocktail mixture into your serving glasses and stir, topping off with a squeeze of lemon juice [to taste].
- garnish with a lemon slice, a sprig of mint and a paper straw.*
[and remember to never drink + drive!]
*best enjoyed outside in the sun, preferably in a hammock, while reading a book and listening to mellow acoustic jams.
the guest house
as a yogi, i’m a huge fan of rumi, a 13th century persian poet whose work is full of wisdom that integrates very well into the practice of yoga. i always find myself being able to take away so much from his beautiful insights, and love the fact that his work is still applicable and relevant in a world that he could have never imagined in his lifetime.
recently, i discovered one of his poems, the guest house, after coldplay [we can talk more about my obsession with them later] used several lines from this piece on their new album. the words intrigued me, so i started googling them… and wasn’t surprised to discover that the message coming through my speakers was from rumi:
needless to say, i’ve become completely obsessed with this piece, and find myself sharing it with friends, and reading it multiple times a week, especially when i feel like i need to take a step back and clear my head.
what i love most is that rumi is giving us permission to feel all of the feels. so often we try to control our emotions, ignore how we’re feeling and pretend like everything is fine, but from this approach, we’re actually being told that it’s not only okay to, but that we should, do the opposite.
i also love the idea of our bodies being the guest house for the feels… “guest” being the key word here… guests of any kind aren’t permanent… and neither are our emotions or those unavoidable bad days.
every situation, every feeling has a purpose. without the bad, we wouldn’t know the good. without feeling sadness, how would we ever know what it feels like to truly be happy? …see where i’m going here?
rumi is also suggesting that each emotion has been given to us as a means of figuring out what our next move is. something doesn’t feel right? okay, great. time to take a look at where this feeling is coming from and determine what can be done to resolve it.
feelings, emotions, situations… they aren’t punishment. you aren’t suffering because the universe hates you. there’s a reason for all of this. you just have to step back, look at things from a different perspective, and find out what that reason is.
a note on california
it’s been almost 8 months since i touched down in l.a. and looking back, i cannot believe it’s been that long. talk about time flying by. it feels like just last week i hopped off the plane at l.a.x. [get it? anyone?!] with 2 suitcases, a duffel bag and a backpack, moved onto the couch of my friends’ apartment, and did what i had to do to make living in california a thing… and i am so happy that i did!
when i first started breaking the news to everyone that i was quitting my job and leaving new york for california, most were supportive, as i expected them to be, but they also had a lot of warnings for me:
“well you know it’s nothing like new york, right?” … yea, duh, that’s why i’m moving there.
“you’ll have to have a car and traffic in l.a. is a nightmare.” … that’s what i’ve heard… but have you ever been on the subway? now that’s what nightmares are made of.
“they have no seasons there. it’s literally summer all the time.” … YEP, PICKED UP ON THAT PART.
even though i was confident that making the move was a great decision, in the back of my mind i kept telling myself that if i absolutely hated it and things didn’t work out, i could move back to new york after a year.
well, i’ve been here since july 23rd, and i can say with confidence that i don’t ever plan on going back to new york. honestly, i’m a little surprised myself. i never thought i would live anywhere but new york until i came to l.a. for the first time in 2013. but now, i don’t know how i ever thought new york was where i belonged. why, you ask? a few reasons:
1. the weather. not to beat a dead horse, but seriously, why do people choose to subject themselves to subzero temperatures, snow, wind chills and winters that last for 6 months? i will never understand this.
2. the beach. [see also: the ocean, sand, palm trees, the sun, the coastal views, etc.]
3. the people. new yorkers get a bad rap, yes, but seriously, the people in l.a. are so much nicer than the people in new york. from my uber driver to the guy ringing me up at whole foods to random people at bars… everyone is friendly, everyone asks how your day is going and genuinely seems to care. even the homeless people here are nice! must be all that vitamin d.
4. driving. is the traffic bad in l.a.? yes. it’s just as bad as they say it is. but you know what’s worse than sitting in your car, ac on/windows down, listening to music or talking on the phone while you’re stuck in traffic? standing in a crowded subway car with no air conditioning in the middle of summer with a stranger’s armpit in your face for 3 hours when your commute should only take 40 minutes because of a mysterious phenomena known as “train traffic” caused by “signal problems ahead”. pick your poison, but personally, i choose the former.
5. the lifestyle. the grind in new york is real. no one ever stops. everyone is moving quickly and is always “too busy” for this and “too busy” for that. when you’re caught up in it, it just becomes normal. but out in l.a. everything is more laid back. people walk slower [working on losing my “new york walk”], showing up 30 minutes late is considered being on time [also working on not showing up everywhere 30 minutes early] and the “i’m too busy” excuse is something you almost never hear. people are generally more carefree, open and relaxed… and it’s been a nice change of pace for me.
so there you have it. i’ve officially gone from “empire state of mind” to “golden state of mind” … and yea, i’m just fine with that.
guess who’s back?
hello to all of my lovely readers! i know it’s been some time since we’ve seen each other over here, but i’m happy to say that after a 2 month hiatus, i. am. BACK!
i consciously made the choice to hold off on blogging around the new year, simply because i felt like i was being pulled in too many directions and couldn’t do this the way that i wanted to … and if i’m going to do something, i always want to make sure i’m doing it right [or at least “right” in my eyes].
so, here we are, 2 months later, and i’m craving the creative outlet … dying to get back to writing and posting consistently … starting now. a few things i want to mention:
1. new post schedule: back when i started bananas + bellinis, i was working for a company that made me miserable, and was in a role that allowed me to devote hours each day to this blog … yes, even when i was in the office. that’s no longer the case [thank god], but it does mean the monday-wednesday-friday schedule i was on before is gone. i plan on posting twice per week … what days? whenever i can get it done. so check back often!
2. thirsty thursdays: considering there is an alcoholic beverage in the name of this little blog, i figure it’s about time we start actually talking about that. two times per month, i’ll post a recipe for a cocktail of some kind … with a healthy little twist … it’s all about that balance, remember?
3. less recipes, more real talk: as much as i love cooking, baking, experimenting in the kitchen and recipe testing … it’s a lot of work, and on top of that not very cheap, to constantly be doing. i’ll still be throwing in the occassional recipe, but moving forward, this will be less of a focus for bananas + bellinis, and more lifestyle tips and anecdotes from real life experiences can be expected.
4. yoga: because yoga is such a huge part of my life [both the physical aspect and otherwise] i want to make this more of a focus here at bananas + bellinis! basically, i’ll be taking the yoga diaries to the next level.
5. restaurant reviews: if you follow me on instagram, you already know that i’m a huge foodie. i love checking out new restaurants, trying new cuisines, and enjoying a cocktail [or three] at new, fun bars. i want to make this a larger aspect of bananas + bellinis, and start full-on reviewing all of the new places i go … whether here in l.a. or while i’m traveling!
alright, that’s it for now. i’m pretty excited to take this new direction and see what happens! there’s definitely more where this came from, too … but one thing at a time. it’s all about those baby steps, after all!
see you guys on friday for my “first” new post … what’s the topic … you’ll have to wait and find out! and on that note, i’ll leave you with this:
“sometimes it ends up different … and that’s okay.” – unknown
merry christmas! merry everything!
season’s greetings from north western p.a.! i’m back home in good old edinboro until monday, and i’m so excited to spend some quality time with my family and friends, eat and drink more than i should, and get a little r + r in before heading back to l.a. and resuming “reality” next week.
the weather here is unseasonably warm [as it’s been unseasonably cold in l.a.], which is fine by me [5 months in california and my already low tolerance for cold is even worse than it was before] … a white christmas would have been nice … but that just means i literally won’t have to see snow until winter 2016 … hashtag blessed.
i’m spending this week doing some planning for the 2016 bananas + bellinis updates [expect january to be full of newness], and even though december’s posts have been sporadic, i wanted to take a minute to wish you all a merry christmas! … a merry everything really! i hope santa brings you all you wished for and more … can anyone make sure this dog is under my tree tomorrow morning? that would be just spectacular.
p.s. don’t forgot about balance this week! indulge. be lazy. relax. eat. drink. sleep. but not without making sure you’re eating well, moving and being active even if just a little bit, and spending your time in a way that makes you feel good.
also, don’t let your annoying relatives get to you. let the questions about why you’re still single or where your career is going from your aunt/uncle/cousin/parents roll off your shoulder. nix the political discussions … they’re never productive and only add stress and chaos to your life.
personally, i’m doing my best to make sure i’m doing all of these things … yes, it’s hard this time of year … but you’ll thank yourself later … trust me.
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