Chic, Comfy, & Casual: Sneakers for Spring

Happy Monday beauties!  

Today’s blog post is all about sneakers.  They look cute paired with just about anything, have the obvious benefit of comfort, and can be styled to make any outfit look casual chic.  They aren’t quite as skin-bearing as a pair of sandals, but let your ankles breathe more than a pair of Winter boots.  I’m sharing my current favorite styles for Spring and some tips for pairing them with the right pieces.  Take advantage of the President’s Day sales and pick up a pair for your transitional Spring wardrobe!  All of the product titles are clickable, as well as the slideshow of photos at the end of the post.

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1 | Converse Chuck Tailors

Everyone loves a classic pair of chuck tailors!  I love this version because I don’t have to worry about tying the laces (anything to get out the door faster- right?).  They are super durable, affordable, and go well with just about everything.  I pair mine with a pair of ripped boyfriend jeans, tucked in t-shirt, and long cardigan.  They are effortlessly chic and will never go out of style.    I find that these run a half size small, so order accordingly!  Just a tip- regular ankle socks won’t work with these as they cut pretty low on the ankle.  Purchase a pair of “no show” socks like these and you will be good to go!  I typically buy mine at TJ Maxx or Marshalls.

2 | New Balance for J. Crew

I absolutely adore the minimalist gold accent on these shoes.  They go with everything and are super comfortable.  I like to pair these with athleisure looks (aka a super cute workout outfit that you may or may not actually exercise in).  They are easily cleaned despite their bright white color and you can wear normal ankle socks with them no problem!

3 | Steve Madden Quilted Slip-Ons

The pair I tagged above are the ones I own in a beautiful blush color- however they also come in an olive color and black or rose gold.  They are available in a bunch of sizes in all of the colors I hyperlinked!  Let me start by saying these are the COMFIEST sneakers in the world.  I found that the elastic got looser with increased wear, so I own my normal size, 7.5, and it’s the perfect fit for me.  I wear these to work all the time- they are super easy to keep clean.  Just use soap and water or a Mr. Clean magic eraser on the white rubber to keep them in prime condition.  I pair these with just about everything- skinny jeans, ripped boyfriend jeans, leggings, loose sweaters, and long-sleeve T’s with a vest over top.

4 | Soludos Platform Espadrilles

These beauties are on my wish list!  The espadrille-style makes them the perfect option to wear with skirts or dresses.  I can see these paired with a flowy floral wrap dress or a jean skirt and a bright top for an easy, chic look- not to mention comfortable!  I think these are the “dressiest” of the options I linked in this post but I love how versatile they are- trips to the beach or dinner dates are both good options.

5 | Adidas UltraBoost Running Shoe 

These running sneaks are bit on the pricer side, which is why I haven’t invested in a pair myself.  I absolutely love the color ash pearl, but they are sold out of almost every size at every retailer I checked.  I also love the color grey/carbon/ash pearl combo.  I think they are the perfect neutral workout shoe and they have received raving reviews for quality and comfort- most reviews reflect that they are true to size so snatch a pair for yourself if you are on the market for a new running shoe!

6 | Gola for J. Crew Tennis Sneakers

My favorite color combo in these are the white/navy/red.  I think they are a fun classic twist on a standard white sneaker and could work well with any outfit.  They are still available in plenty of sizes too!

7 | Allbirds Wool Runners

These sneakers are made form natural wool, and are available in a lot of color options.  They are comfortable, lightweight, and simple.  They are a great option for a running or athletic sneaker- however, they would be super cute with a pair of leggings, a sweater, and a puffer vest to transition into Spring!

8 | Vans Classic Slip-On Sneaker 

Like the above, these come in a TON of color options and are the classic slip on.  The outfit options are endless- I love the versatility and comfort of a slip on sneaker.  They will never go out of style and couldn’t be easier!

9 | Adidas Gazelle Sneaker

These are definitely on my wish list- they are a classic minimalist sneaker with simple neutral stripes.  My favorite color combo is the crystal white/white but they have two other options if the white sneaker look isn’t your thing.  They are available in plenty of sizes and would look great with just about anything!  According to reviews, they run large, so order a full size down.

10 | Adidas NMD R2 Sneaker

These are SO cute- I absolutely love the dusty pink color since they will go with black, navy, and grey (the majority of exercise pants I own are in these colors).  I anticipate these selling out fast so I might pick up a pair for myself- I’ve been on the hunt for a new pair of athletic sneakers.  Most reviews say to order a full size down so I plan on ordering a half size and full size down just to be safe in case they sell out of the size I need.

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I hope you guys enjoyed this post and are able to pick up a pair or two of the perfect sneakers to transition your wardrobe into Spring!  Below I posted some of my own photos to show off how I style a few of my favorite sneakers in this post!  Cheers to warmer weather and a style that is fashionable, comfortable, and chic. xx

100 Actionable Ways To Say “I Love You”

 

H A P P Y   m o n d a y 

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this post is all about love.  Love is the glue that holds our relationships together- it’s an action, an emotion, a behavior, a tangible feeling.  You have to give love to receive love.  For those of you who think Valentine’s Day is a day only for those who are in romantic relationships- reframe your perspective to include all of the people you love, and do something to demonstrate how grateful you are for them.  Love others, but most importantly love yourself.  These actions can be applied to your parents, your children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, pets, friends, co-workers, and of course- you.  

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LOVE OTHERS

1 | Give a hug

2 | Give a kiss

3 | Say the words, “I love you”

4 | Write a simple note that will make the person smile

5 | Draw them a bath after a long day

6 | Give them a call to say hi

7 | Send them a card in the mail

8 | Surprise them with their favorite home cooked meal

9 | Do the dishes

10 | Compliment their best qualities

11 | Snuggle them

12 | Comfort them

13 | Remember special dates

14 | Ask them how their day went

15 | Ask them how you can help

16 | Help

17 | Buy them flowers for no reason

18 | Explore new places with them

19 | Make them feel safe

20 | Appreciate them

21 | Say thank you 

22 | Listen to them

23 | Try new things- new foods, new cultures, new places, new tv shows, new music

24 | Invest in their interests

25 | Forgive them for their mistakes

26 | Apologize for yours

27 | Solve problems together

28 | Ask them questions instead of assuming answers

29 | Give them the opportunity to take a break

30 | Encourage positive relationships outside of your own

31 | Let them cry

32 | Feed them

33 | Make them feel like the most important person in the world

34 | Know when to give them space

35 | Come to their defense when they are defenseless

36 | Show up for them

37 | Be their cheerleader

38 | Give them gentle, honest advice

39 | Bring them breakfast in bed

40 | Trust them

41 | Empower them to pursue their passions

42 | Take care of them when they’re sick

43 | Make them laugh

44 | Bake them cookies

45 | Bring them a warm towel after a shower

46 | Open the door for them

47 | Celebrate their differences

48 | Send them a “thinking of you” text

49 | Challenge them to be a better person

50 | Make their day a little easier- clean the snow off their car, make them a cup of coffee

LOVE YOURSELF

51 | Fuel your body with healthy foods

52 | Go for a mani/pedi

53 | Watch your favorite tv show

54 | Go to sleep early

55 | Do a weekly/bi weekly face mask

56 | Run a hot bubble bath

57 | Pour yourself a glass of wine and put your feet up

58 | Thank your body for all the daily miracles it performs

59 | Book yourself a vacation

60 | Read a book

61 | Take an extra few minutes in the shower

62 | Take a moment each day to think of 3 things you are thankful for

63 | Go for a walk

64 | Read a magazine

65 | Drink a hot cup of tea

66 | Listen to your favorite song

67 | Set goals for yourself

68 | Put in the work to achieve those goals

69 | Spend time with your friends

70 | Get a massage

71 | Explore new interests/hobbies

72 | Take a yoga class

73 | Go to the local coffee shop for your favorite beverage

74 | Dream big

75 | Go for a bike ride

76 | Tell yourself you are beautiful

77 | Tell yourself you can

78 | Tell yourself you will 

79 | Take time for yourself every day

80 | Buy yourself flowers

81 | Go for your annual well visits (gynecologist, dentist, dermatologist, etc.)

82 | Indulge in your favorite treat

83 | Say no

84 | Meditate

85 | Buy yourself something nice

86 | Learn something new

87 | Step out of your comfort zone

88 | Explore new places

89 | Forgive yourself

90 | Write in a journal

91 | Watch the sunrise

92 | Watch the sunset

93 | Give yourself permission to rest

94 | Rest

95 | Light a candle

96 | Laugh

97 | Turn your phone off for the day

98 | Get your sweat on

99 | Free yourself of guilt

100 | Shatter any expectations for perfection

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I hope you all have an abundantly happy and love-filled Valentine’s Day.  xx

5 Easy Ways To Make Extra Money

 

Happy Monday beauties! 

In this week’s post, I am sharing a few simple, nearly effortless ways to make a few extra bucks.  Put aside the extra money you’ll earn and start a vacation fund, go out for a special date night, or treat yourself to something on your wish list.  The possibilities are endless!  FYI- all of the sites are hyperlinked on the headings and throughout each description.   

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 | Mercari |

Those of you that have been following me on Instagram probably know I use and love Mercari– I have made 26 sales since starting, and have all positive reviews!  Just this past week I’ve sold two items that were collecting dust in my closet.  I use the Mercari app on my iPhone (although you can access it on any computer as well) to sell the clothing, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, and handbags that I no longer use.  You can post up to 4 photos of the item, describe its condition, then name your price, shipping method, and the shipping cost based on the estimated weight of the item (no need to purchase a scale).  When you sell an item, Mercari generates a prepaid shipping label that you can print and attach, hassle-free.

Mercari has a buyer-protection guarantee, which means that your funds aren’t released to you until the buyer rates you- they must do so within 72 hours of receiving the item or Mercari will release the funds (so you won’t be waiting too long if your buyer drops the ball).  You just have to ship the item within the agreed upon time frame and make sure it matches your description.  Document any of the item’s flaws in your description and photos.

Here are a few pieces of advice for success with selling on Mercari:

1 | List the item at a price slightly higher than you would be comfortable selling it for- a lot of people make lower offers and if you start a bit higher, you can either accept their price comfortably or make a counter offer for a bit more.

2 |Do your research- before deciding on the list price for your item, search the app for items similar to yours (brand, condition, etc.) and use it as a guide to price your item within a reasonable range.

3 | Post quality photos of your items- I just use my iPhone but ensure you have good lighting, a clean, uniform background (I usually use a white poster board), and post close up shots of any flaws so there are no surprises- your buyer should know what they are getting before it comes.

4 | Jot down a quick note to include in your package, reminding your buyers to rate you-  Mine usually reads, “Dear [insert buyer’s name here], I hope you love the [item name- shoes, bag, top, etc.].  Don’t forget to rate me when you receive your item!  -Leah”

5 | Make sure to waterproof package your item within its box.  Although this is not required by Mercari, I always place whatever I am selling in a gallon size plastic bag or larger, depending on how big it is.  You never know what elements your box is exposed to in transit, and if the item is damaged- that’s on you.

| Ebates |

If you guys aren’t using Ebates to do your online shopping, what in the world are you waiting for?!  It couldn’t possibly be easier- make an account, then all you have to do is find the website you want to shop on via the Ebates site.  Every site offers a different cash back percentage for completing the online purchases you were already planning on.  There are so many sites that offer cash back rewards through Ebates– Amazon, Target, J. Crew, Lowes, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s, to name a few.  These percentages change often, based on peak seasonal sales and other factors.  For example, Pro Flowers is offering 24% cash back as a Valentines Day double cash back deal.

I know this sounds too good to be true, but it’s so real!  You can opt to have your check mailed to you or funds can be released to a Pay Pal account.  Pro tip- set the Ebates website as your homepage, so that every time you open the internet for some online shopping, you are reminded to start your journey on Ebates I am the biggest offender of forgetting this website exists and not utilizing it as often as I should.  The referral incentives are great too- if you refer someone else who spends $25 or more, you will earn $15 and that person will earn $10.  Here is my referral link: www.ebates.com/r/LEAHKE15

 | Ibotta |

Ibotta is a Smartphone app that allows you to earn cash back on qualifying purchases in a variety of major retailers.  Once you create an account, you search through lists of qualifying products at retailers like Target, CVS, Walmart, and Giant.  Once you find a product you’d like to purchase, you must redeem the offer by doing something as simple as watching a 13 second video.  Once you redeem the offer on the app, you go shopping, then take a photo of your receipt for proof of purchase.  Once this is confirmed, you earn cash back within 48 hours.

Here’s where I see this app working best:  If you are on the hunt for a general product, but don’t have a specific brand in mind, you can go through the qualifying products offered at the stores near you, and find what you need.  For example, if you know you need body wash or salad dressing, but don’t care what brand- check the redeemable products to see what’s available.  Another great use for this app- putting together care packages for military members on active duty or a homeless shelter.

 | DOSH |

DOSH is a smartphone app that automatically gives you cash back for purchases in store and online at qualifying retailers (restaurants, stores, and hotels) when you securely link your credit card.  It doesn’t get easier than this, guys.  You earn $5 when you link your first credit card and if you refer someone else, you earn $15 when they link a card.  This is another that seems to good to be true but friends, I’m here to tell you it’s the real deal.  Cash back for going about your daily life as you normally would- sign me up!  My referral link is https://link.dosh.cash/YCLI/VRI6poE9gK

 | Repurpose remaining balances on old Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express gift cards |

Someone gives you a Visa gift card for $50 and you make a purchase for $47.99- some people will just toss the card but you can actually purchase Amazon e-gift cards using those  gift cards with trace remaining balances.  Here’s how:

1 | First, find out the exact remaining balance on your gift card (you can usually check this by calling the phone number on the back).

2 | Log into your account on amazon.com then click on the tab says “Hello, [your name], Accounts & Lists.”

3 | Click “Payment Options: Edit or add payment methods.”

4 | Add your gift card info as a new payment method, as you would any credit card.

5 | Click on the “Gift Cards” tab on the top navigation bar > then “eGift”

6 | Under the second step to purchase your gift card where it says “Gift card details,” there is an option to enter your own amount.

7 | Enter the exact amount for the remaining gift card balance, then make sure to purchase the gift card using the correct payment method.

8 | Next time you make an Amazon purchase, you can apply multiple gift cards at a time.

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I hope you guys enjoyed this post and that you you have the opportunity to make a few extra bucks with these tips.  If you do, please share!  Have a beautiful week my friends <3 xx

 

 

January Favorites

H A P P Y   m o n d a y

January has been a month of reflection, goal-setting, and healthy habit forming.  I have had the opportunity to trial some new products throughout December and January and I am SO excited to share my favorites with you guys!  This month’s lineup happens to be a little heavy on the beauty products- likely because the Winter “uglies” are in full force.  My skin is dry and pale, and I need all the help I can get in terms of skin care and makeup.  Anyone else?!  

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

 1 | Laura Geller Cover Lock Cream Foundation

This is the best foundation I have ever tried.  The beauty tech at Ulta recommended it and I am so thankful she did.  It provides full coverage, but doesn’t feel heavy at all.  I put it on over my moisturizer and blend it with this applicator sponge.  It goes on so smoothly, lasts all day, and doesn’t clog my pores.   I use the shade fair which has warmer undertones and isn’t too ivory.  This stuff is good guys.

 2 | Five Minute Journal

The Five Minute Journal has allowed me to identify more reasons to be grateful, challenges me to set daily intentions, and reflect on the ways in which I can take action to facilitate positive change in my own life.  How it works: Each morning when you wake up and each night before bed, you take 5 minutes or less to fill in the journal prompts.  I have been journaling for almost two weeks and I can clearly see the positive impact this daily habit has been having on my life.  Bad days are made better with a shift in perspective, and I feel genuinely happier as I am consistently prompted to identify reasons for which to be grateful.  I HIGHLY recommend this product!

3 | Tarte Shape Tape Concealer

This concealer is full-coverage, comes in a variety of shades, and is a good value as a little goes a long way.  The applicator wand makes for easy application.  I usually apply a few strokes under each eye and over any blemishes.  For an extra highlight I will add some between my eyebrows and on my chin.  I use that same blender sponge to apply it over my foundation- make sure the sponge is damp for a flawless application.  This is truly the best concealer I have ever tried.  The creasing throughout the day is very minimal (I have yet to find one that doesn’t crease at all), and it lasts all. day. long.

4 | Invisibobble Traceless Hair Ring

I LOVE this hair tie.  It doesn’t leave a crease in your hair, causes less breakage, and comes in a variety of colors.  Because I no longer have that dreaded crease when I take my pony tail out, this hair tie has contributed to a significant decrease in the frequency that I use a straightener on my hair- I’m all for less heating tools.  Perfect for you ladies who sneak in your morning workout before work but only have the time to body shower and dry shampoo. No crease= less heat and less time getting ready.

 5 | Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector

I have chronic under eye circles, regardless of the number of hours slept or cups of coffee consumed.  I use this product as a primer under my regular concealer and notice a significant difference in the appearance of my under eye circles.  I also notice that it contributes to less creasing throughout the day and overall gives me a bright, awake complexion.  On lighter makeup days or if I am pressed for time, this works perfect alone as an under eye concealer.

 6 | Socialite Off the Shoulder Sweater Dress

This dress is affordable, classy, flattering, and INSANELY comfortable.  I was initially drawn to it because of the classic mid length, long-sleeve, off the shoulder style but as soon as I felt the material, I couldn’t leave Nordstrom without it.  I wore it to a NYE party and paired it with a pair of black patent pointed-toe pumps for a classic look.  Not only did I feel fabulous, but I was so cozy all night.  At $49 with free shipping, this dress is a no brainer!  Although this dress runs true to size, I chose to size up to a medium from my usual size small because I wanted it to be a tad less fitted.

7 | Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

This is an acne spot treatment that dries up pesky blemishes.  You put it on at night before bed then wash it off in the morning.  Every time I use it, I notice a significant decrease in the size and redness of the blemish when I wake up the next morning.  The secret is in the application of this- DO NOT shake the bottle.  Dip a Q-tip until it reaches the bottom, where the pink sediment is settled.  You want a clay-like texture, and by shaking the bottle, you are diluting the product’s active ingredients.   I love how fast acting this product is- its a life saver on the night before a big presentation or hot date 😉

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I hope you enjoy these products as much as I truly do.  Cheers to the start of February and the slowly approaching Spring weather! xx

 

 

Bâtard Tribeca: Restaurant Review

Happy Monday blog readers!  

I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!  Mark and I took the opportunity to do a whole lot of nothing- just what we both needed 😉  The weekend prior, we spent the night in Manhattan for dinner and a show.  We both LOVE to eat and one of the things we often do together is go out for dinner.  This dinner was special for both of us as it was our first dining experience at a Michelin Star restaurant.  

For those who may not know what a Michelin Star is, they are a distinction of honor awarded to restaurants with exceptional quality food by the Michelin Guides.  Restaurants can be awarded up to 3 stars, representing the highest quality cooking.  Restaurants can also lose their stars.  I didn’t know about this honor until I started watching the Emmy-nominated Netflix docuseries, Chef’s Table– which by the way I HIGHLY recommend.  It is so so so well done.  Mark and I would love to be able to go to every Michelin star restaurant in NYC- there are currently 72.  So, in honor of our first meal at a Michelin Star restaurant, here are my impressions of Bâtard Tribeca:

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| Location |

Located on West Broadway- which is perpendicular to the most precious side street in Tribeca, White Street- you get a sense for the cool Tribeca vibe.  It’s lined with sweet boutiques, coffee shops, and now-residential historic industrial buildings.

| Atmosphere |

Dimly lit and romantic with minimalist decor- it’s the perfect date night spot.  Although, it would be more than appropriate for dinner with a group of friends or a girl’s night.  Unlike many other fine dining restaurants, Bâtard is a bit more casual- you won’t see the typical white table cloths.  Instead, dark table tops and chairs allow the impeccably plated dishes to take center stage.  The walls are adorned with subtle sculpted tree branch patterns in a soft beige, drawing your attention up.  Two crystal chandeliers add some bling and soft light to the space.  Although Mark and I did not experience this, other reviewers have commented on the heightened noise level during peak times.  AKA, diners at Bâtard like to drink wine and have a good time.  No complaints there!

| Beverages |

The cocktails are on par with standard NYC prices and they are so worth it-  I got the Bramble, which has gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and crème de mûre- a blackberry liqueur.  It was refreshing and delicious- served in a unique glass with a copper straw and garnished with a blackberry.  The copper straw was ice cold and made the drink that much more refreshing. Mark ordered the Sazerac, which has bache-gabrielsen cognac, st. george absinthe, peychaud bitters.  He enjoyed it!  We ordered a delicious bottle of red Burgundy to go with dinner- if you have any wine-pairing questions or need a recommendation, the Sommelier is a great resource.

| Food |

The price-fixed menu changes periodically, so check in frequently.  You have the option to order 2 courses for $59, 3 for $79, or 4 for $89.

Leah’s choices:

Madai Crudo, Garganelli, Niman Ranch Dry-Aged Strip Loin, and assorted sorbets for dessert.  Madai is a fish imported from the Pacific, typically Japan.  It has a nice texture and mild, sweet flavor.  It was served raw in a vinaigrette/broth with cucumber, chile, and citrus.  This ended up being my favorite dish of the night.  The Garganelli pasta was the perfect al dente- it was topped with lamb shank ragu and cubed butternut squash.  For salt and crunch, sprinkled on top were almonds crisp lamb bacon.  Although I ordered it, I think this was Mark’s favorite dish of the night.  I ordered my steak cooked medium and it was perfect- a pink center and crispy, perfectly charred crust.  It was juicy and packed with flavor, and paired perfectly with the sweet potato puree, bone barrow, and small serving of kale.  I practically licked my plate clean.  The sorbets were creamy and delicious, without being too filling.  They were sprinkled with what I believe to be cocao nibs.

Mark’s choices:

Octopus “Pastrami”, Seared Foie Gras, Duck Breast, and the Valrhona Chocolate for dessert.  The Octopus pastrami is quite an interesting concept- it’s essentially a “loaf” of naturally congealed octopus with pastrami spices.  The ham hock gave it a hint of salt, and the new potatoes and pommery mustard (whole grain) paired perfectly with the dish.  I was being brave to try this one since I am not a huge fan of Octopus, let alone octopus loaf, but to my surprise- I loved it.  I only had a very small taste of the foie since I am not a big fan at all.  However, it was pretty darn delicious.  Still not something I would order myself at a restaurant but Mark loves it and he couldn’t say enough about how delicious it was here.  I can’t comment on the Duck Breast since I did not try it but the dessert was fantastic!  It was the perfect balance of smooth, crunchy, creamy, hot, and cold.   Who doesn’t love chocolate?

| Service |

The service was excellent.  Our waiter was attentive but not overbearing.  While there, we saw both the head chef and the restaurant owner.  The wait staff were knowledgeable and friendly, offering more bread on multiple occasions (its hard to say no- trust me).  First courses were served quickly but each remaining course was spread out and strategically timed.

| Things to mention |

Reservations accepted.  Jeans are acceptable.

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I hope you guys enjoyed this post and consider dining at Bâtard next time you are in Manhattan.  What are your favorite restaurants?  I hope you all have a beautiful week! xx

 

 

 

 

Change Your Life Through Perspective

Good morning & Happy Monday

Today’s post is one that I am so excited to share with all of you because of the potential it has to make an impact on the quality of your life.  Mental health necessitates maintenance, effort, and attention- just as does physical health.  Take the time to read this post, be intentional about your thoughts and perspectives, and shift the way in which you view the world.

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|| Practice gratitude, everyday ||

I know I have said it before, but this is E V E R Y T H I N G.  There is always something to be thankful for- intact vision and access to the internet are two factors that facilitate your reading this post, both of which are not guaranteed in this world.  Take time every single day to reflect on the reasons you have to be grateful and I promise you, your life will change.  I just ordered The Five Minute Journal, which will force me to take 5 minutes every morning and night to record my reflections.  However, you do NOT need a journal like this to practice gratitude.  Take time on your morning commute or while you drink your first cup of coffee to be intentional about gratitude.  Challenge yourself to reframe your perspective on the aspects of your life that you may feel pretty shitty about- do you hate your job?  Learn to be thankful that you have a job and money to pay the bills.

|| Search for the lesson ||

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  After hearing this phrase throughout my life, the gravity of it’s meaning is finally settling in.  Not a single person in this world has a perfect life- negativity and misfortune are inevitable- but the way you choose to react to situations will impact the trajectory of your future.  We are all human- we make mistakes, we fail, the outcomes we expect don’t always pan out.  I challenge you to search for the lesson in those failures and frame your attitude to be thankful for your new knowledge.  This new knowledge will help you cultivate more meaningful relationships, the qualities to be a better employee, brother, mother, sister, girlfriend; and open the door for new opportunities.   Life is rich with lessons: Make light of the dark.

|| Limit negative self talk ||

Believe in yourself.  Even if you don’t, start to tell yourself that you do and eventually you will.  When you set goals for yourself, have every intention of achieving them and take action.  This is definitely one that I am working on- my goals are so big they scare me sometimes.  Once in a while, an unwelcome voice enters my mental dialogue.  It’s the voice that says “you can’t, you’re being unrealistic, there are a million other people in this world that want what you do, you don’t have the money, you don’t have the means, you aren’t smart enough,” etc.  I am learning to pay this voice no attention.  When you actively focus on your positive qualities and intentions, the empty space that could be occupied with self-deprecating thoughts will narrow in time.

|| Consider the situation of others || 

sonder
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

I LOVE this word and the gravity of its meaning.  Although it can be hard to wrap your head around, every single person in this world has their own story- their own set of struggles and misfortunes.  Everyone is brought up in different environments under different circumstances- some of us were raised by parents that love us.  Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky- they may have been exposed to trauma and abuse.  Some people do not have the means to feed themselves or their families.  Others are caring for a parent or spouse that is undergoing cancer treatments.  Unless you ask, you will likely not know what each person you interact with is going through.  Keep this in perspective and never lose sight of it, even when it’s not easy.  Next time you feel tempted to judge another for their actions, consider the situation they are in and send them light.

|| Stop comparing yourself to everyone else ||

This cuts down on that ugly, negative, energy-consuming, jealousy.  Unless you look to others purely as a source of inspiration, it is not healthy to compare yourself to anyone but the person you were yesterday.  If someone has something you want- a degree, a car, a slim figure, a salary, a family, a handbag, etc.- make an intentional choice to forego those feelings of jealousy, and channel your energy towards achieving a goal.  To compare yourself to the person that has something you want is not only unfair to you, but it consumes your thoughts with negativity and self-pity.  Compare yourself to the person you were yesterday, last month, last year, 5 years ago- what have you achieved?  What have you learned?  Use your accomplishments as fuel to continue achieving the goals you set for yourself.

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Be thankful for the big things and the small things.  Take time every day to remind yourself of these blessings.  Allow yourself to be human and make mistakes but learn from those mistakes and use those lessons as motivation to achieve.  Consider the factors that influence others’ behavior.  Love yourself and be patient with yourself.  Set goals and achieve them.  Then set more goals.  Be intentional and present.  Always be the best version of you. Cheers to being positive and living your best life! xx 

Lifestyle Changes For A Healthier You

Good morning blog readers!  

It’s the second Monday of the new year and there’s no better day to start making your dreams come true.  How many of us make a general new year’s resolution to lose weight or be healthier?  This was me for countless years, only to fall off the healthy bandwagon a few months after starting.  The key to success in maintaining a healthy body type is to make lifestyle changes.  Disclaimer: I am by no means a nutritionist or dietician but I am happy to share what has worked for me.  These are a few of the lifestyle changes I have implemented since losing roughly 15 pounds and keeping it off since my chunkier high school days.

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1 | Be smart about beverage choices

Making mindful choices about what liquids you put in your body can make a substantial difference in your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy physique.  I am breaking down this category into three main subcategories: coffee, alcohol, and soda.

coffee: my daily order used to be a medium hot coffee with mocha or pumpkin (seasonally) and whole milk or cream.  I often had two of these daily.  These flavored syrups are packed with sugar and empty calories.  A medium hot coffee with mocha and cream from Dunkin Donuts has 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, and a whopping 34 grams of sugar.  As you probably know, this is not a healthy choice and sneaks up on us in the form of decreased energy, increased inches, and weight gain.

I started drinking my daily 2-3 cups of coffee with a splash of 2% milk and organic stevia (a natural zero calorie sweetener).  This has 0 grams of sugar and roughly 30 calories per cup. I make it at home, which saves me money and allows me to have more control over what I put in my body.  When I want a treat (a holiday latte from Starbucks for example), I order my drink with no whipped cream and only one pump of flavor.  For reference, baristas typically use 4-5 pumps for a grande or medium.  My usual coffee order at a coffee shop is a cappuccino- I do not add sugar so the calories are mostly coming from the milk.

alcohol: alcoholic beverages are yet another source of empty calories, but some drinks are worse than others.  Instead of sugary mixed drinks with fruit juices and other crap, I opt for more simple cocktails with fresh squeezed lemon or lime.  My go-to when I am out with friends is a vodka soda with extra lime.  The calories are all coming from the vodka since seltzer and lime are calorie-free.  I love wine as well, and I have recently swapped more red blends for white- Pinot Grigio is my fav.  Red wine has less sugar and other properties such as antioxidants that are actually healthy.  Here is an article that goes over the benefits of drinking red wine.

soda: my rule is not to buy soda for your home- only buy it out in moderation.  However, I think if you can cut out soda entirely, you are much better off.  My weakness is coca-cola.  I used to order it every time I went to a restaurant but I stopped doing that and now order water with lemon instead.  The only time I will get a coke is at McDonalds because everyone know theirs is exceptionally delicious- it’s worth the treat 😉  If you love the carbonation and want something with a little flavor, try flavored seltzer water.  Most are flavored naturally with no sweeteners and therefore no calories.  My favorite brands are La Croix and Perrier 🙂

2 | Drink a bottle of water before having seconds 

Overeating can be engrained in us from a young age, especially those of us raised in America.  Who was told they had to finish a meal before being excused from the table?  I still struggle with this, especially when the food tastes delicious 😉  This is a solution I have found to be effective- Serve yourself a reasonable portion of food- maybe a bit smaller than you typically do.  Finish that initial portion, then drink a full bottle of water to help your body digest.  If you are still hungry after drinking the water, help yourself to a second, smaller portion.  If you are full, simply stop eating.  Sometimes the receptors in our digestive system require additional time to communicate with the center of our brain that give us the signal for “full.” By taking the time to drink a bottle of water, we allow our brain to catch up with our belly and prevent overeating.

3 | Find a method of exercise that you love

This is so important.  I used to belong to a gym that did not offer classes so it was up to me to be self-disciplined enough to hit all of the muscle groups and research effective and safe exercises to do on the machines.  In the beginning I was motivated and feeling good, but after a few months I got bored of the treadmill and elliptical and started dreading my workouts.  It actually got to a point that I once drove all the way to the gym, sat in the car for 20 minutes, then drove back home.  Kudos to those of you that are disciplined and self-motivated enough to work out like this.  It just wasn’t for me.

My whole perception of exercise transformed when I started taking group exercise classes.  My favorites are barre, hot yoga, and pilates.  I also mix in cycling and kickboxing every now and then.  I love that an instructor tells me exactly what to do which takes the guess work out of it, and I love the motivation I get from exercising with other people.  Some of you might enjoy taking classes, and some of you might not- thats okay.  The point here is to trial different things and find what works best for you.  Exercise is a life long commitment so it’s so important to keep it fun!  Make a list of options you may be interested in, look up studios or gyms near you using a simple google search or the MINDBODY app, and call them for more information!  Most studios and gyms will allow you to do a free trial class for your first time.

4 | Go to the grocery store after working out

Although I understand this situation is not always possible- because, life- I have noticed that when I do my grocery shopping after a workout, I make significantly better choices.  Just try it 😉

5 | Don’t deprive yourself

Guys, do NOT, and I repeat DO NOT deprive yourself of the foods you love.  Life is meant to enjoy, and if food gives you as much joy as it does me, why would you ever restrict yourself?  Life is all about balance and food is no exception.  If you ate chick-fil-a for dinner last night, get a work out in today and skip the dessert.  If you know you are going out for dinner tonight, eat a light breakfast and lunch with protein to hold you over.  Make intentional choices everyday about the foods you eat and I promise you, your body will thank you.

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Be kind to yourself.  Recognize your body for the good it does.  Take it one step at a time.  Praise yourself when you earn it.  Forgive yourself when you fu*k up.  Enjoy food- it’s meant to be enjoyed.  Eat chocolate and cheese and wine and pasta.  But also eat vegetables.  Cheers beautiful people. xx

A Year In Review: 2017

Happy Monday & HAPPY NEW YEAR

It’s officially 2018 and I couldn’t be more excited for the wonderful things in store. This year I will graduate with my Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy- something I have put so much of my time, money, and energy towards. I can’t wait to see it all pay off and start my dream career. 2018 is also the year I finally move out of my parent’s house and move in with my boyfriend of 8 years (it’s about time).

As we close out 2017, I wanted to take the time to reflect on the year I’ve had. I posted one photo from each month during 2017. Each photo captures something special about that month. I chose make this a blog post because I would like to make it an annual tradition and have the opportunity to look back on previous years.   If you choose to do a recap of your year, use the hash tag #rosecoloredrecap2017 so I can follow along and read about all of your journeys in 2017!  

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| JANUARY |

A trip to Dallas, TX to visit my best friend. Cocktails, shopping, a Brothers Osborne concert, and a visit to the Magnolia Market in Waco.

| FEBRUARY |

Back to Dallas, TX for another visit. More cocktails, more shopping, and this time- a visit to Houston to work at the Superbowl. One dead car key, an Uber ride to AutoZone for a replacement battery, a failed attempt to start the car with the new battery, many calls to AAA, many more failed attempts to start the car, an airport rental car, and a four hour drive back to Dallas to catch our flights the next day.

A bridesmaids dress purchase, a friend’s birthday brunch, Mark’s birthday.

| MARCH |

A trip to Philadelphia for the AOTA Annual Conference and celebration of 100 years of Occupational Therapy. A grad school friend’s baby shower. My first glass of rosé for the season.

| APRIL |

Spring. So many flowers. Easter brunch with Mark and my family. A friend’s birthday celebration in Jersey City. Dinner and Anastasia on Broadway for my best friend’s birthday.

| MAY |

Charleston, SC with Mark. So much food, fun, cocktails, and exploration of this beautiful city. A few favorites: Charlestowne Tobacco and Wine for a classy spot to people watch and sip on a glass. Paw Paw’s for fried chicken and frozé. Fleet Landing for seafood and cocktails- peel and eat shrimp, crab cakes, softshell crab sandwiches, margaritas, and mojitos. The Vendue rooftop for a great view, delicious food, and drinks.

Bucks County Designer Show House with my mom followed by drinks at the Swan Bar in Lambertville. Memorial Day celebrations at my bestie’s parents’ house.

| JUNE |

An overnight getaway to Cape May, NJ with mom. Lots of cocktails, a tutorial on snapchat and lots of laughs, a peaceful walk on the beach, shopping, and stops at two of our favorite places: Congress Hall and Virginia Hotel.

Passed my pre-fieldwork clinical evaluations at school and celebrated the end of the didactic portion of OT school with my class in Manayunk, PA. Celebrated my birthday with both my mom and Mark at the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse, NJ, and again with two of my best friends at Nektar in New Hope, PA.

| JULY |

My best friend moved to LA- I was there a week after she moved. West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, LACMA, Malibu, Santa Monica, Catalina Island, a hike to the Hollywood sign, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. Laughter, tears, cocktails, shopping, sightseeing, hiking, electric bike riding, FUN.

Toasted to one of my best friends and her boyfriend on their purchase of a house, and helped them put together a new vacuum 😉 Started construction in my parents’ house.   Long Beach Island for rooftop cocktails at Daddy-O’s, ice-cream cones at Ben & Jerry’s, and amusement park rides at Fantasy Island.

| AUGUST |

Nearly had a mental break down from anxiety about starting fieldwork. Started my blog! Showed my two girlfriends from grad school and their precious babies around my new town, New Hope, PA. Many day trips to the beach. Notably- Ocean Grove, NJ.

| SEPTEMBER |

Crossed off one of my mom’s bucket list items with her- attended a dinner hosted by Outstanding In The Field in Pipersville, PA. Went to Unionville Vineyards on a rainy Friday with Mark’s mom for a tour and wine pairing. Apple picking.

Hurricane Irma. Cancelled flights to Charleston for my bestie’s bachelorette weekend. New trip booked in record time. Destination: Southampton, NY. Beachfront views, Soul Cycle, limo tour of the vineyards, dinners, drinks, pool, selfie sticks, glitter, floppy hats, Howard Stern spotting, dancing, and champagne.

| OCTOBER |

A lavish dinner at the Ryland Inn. A bridal shower at the Chart House in Weehawken, NJ. Pumpkin picking with the kids I used to babysit that have become family. Adoration of the Halloween decorations in Lambertville , NJ. An award ceremony honoring one of the busiest and most selfless women I know.

| NOVEMBER |

A day in Princeton with my mom for lunch at Mistral and shopping.   Thanksgiving appetizers and cocktails with my family, then dinner at Lambertville Station with Mark’s family.

| DECEMBER |

The end of my first level II fieldwork. A holiday dinner party with close friends in Jersey City, NJ. Peddlers Village, PA with mom for a dose of holiday cheer. My best friend’s BEAUTIFUL wedding at the Ryland Inn. A day of pampering, photos, champagne, laughter, tears, flowers, macaroni and cheese, and true happiness.

My bestie visited from LA and we went hit a few of my favorite spots- the Swan bar in Lambertville for French martinis and pizza. Nektar in New Hope for cheese, wine, bruschetta, and a candy bar sundae. The night ended at my new favorite spot in New Hope- The Salt House.  Brunch at Lovin’ Oven and shopping in Frenchtown, NJ the following day.

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I had a wonderful year and my heart is so happy after taking the time to revisit to memories I made during 2017.  Cheers to a prosperous, adventure-filled, and healthy 2018! xx

5 Simple Ways To Be More Productive In 2018

 || HAPPY FRIDAY ||

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your friends and families.  This will be my last blog post for 2017 and I am focusing on setting positive intentions for the new year.  Take some time to reflect on the past twelve months and give yourself credit for your accomplishments.  Also- use whatever lessons you have learned to fuel growth and positive change in 2018.

We all have the same number of hours within a day, but where we differ is how we choose to spend those hours.  How many of us come home from work and park it on the couch to binge watch a Netflix series with a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn (obviously channeling our inner Olivia Pope)?  I am definitely guilty of this on occasion, and don’t get me wrong- those days can be so valuable for our mental health- but it’s important to evaluate whether your day-to-day actions align with your goals and intentions.  The following tips are some of my tried and true methods for getting more value out of each day.

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1 | Set measurable goals with a time frame

In order to assess whether or not your actions align with the goals or intentions you set for yourself, you need to begin by creating them.   The easiest way to hold yourself accountable for these goals is to write them down- so grab a pen and paper (or open a word document on your computer).  I like to start with my larger goals to frame a general picture of the year ahead, then work my way down and fill in smaller objectives to help me achieve the bigger goals.  For example, if your big goal is to purchase a house in 2018, begin by assessing whether or not it is a realistic goal.  If it is, then you can begin writing smaller objectives to help you achieve this- such as, saving x amount of dollars per paycheck to contribute towards a down payment, identifying the town you want to purchase the home in, getting prequalified for a mortgage, etc.  The biggest kicker, set specific time frames to achieve each goal and objective- my best advice is to actually look at a calendar and set dates.  The more specific you make your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them.

2 | Prioritize what is most important to you and build routines to support them

I would be willing to bet that most of my readers are in different stages of their life, so it is important to internalize this piece of advice and make it specific to you.  Begin by asking yourself, what is important to me? Do you want to spend more time with your child or children?  Do you want to pay off your student debt?  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to be more present when spending time with the people you love?  Now, assess what daily actions would support these priorities.  If your priority is to lose weight, begin by thinking about what behaviors would help you achieve this goal, and incorporate them into your daily routines.   For example, drink a bottle of water every morning when you wake up to get your metabolism and digestive system moving.  As this becomes embedded into your morning routine, incorporate a new action into one of your routines- when you get home from work, immediately change into exercise clothes so you are more likely to go to the gym then park it on the couch.  Gradually embedding these small actions into routine is a very effective way to make lasting changes in your life.

3 | Make lists

One important aspect of being productive is juggling different roles and the responsibilities associated with them- sometimes the amount of “to-do’s” can be overwhelming.  My simplest piece of advice is to write them down as they pop into your head.  I like to use the notes app on my iPhone to quickly get my thoughts down as they emerge (which always seems to be around bedtime).  It’s such a simple way to ensure you don’t forget to complete something important, and boy does it feel good to check each one off as you complete it.

4 | “Tidy” everyday at the end of the day

Taking time each day to ensure everything is in it’s place saves you a whole lot of time doing massive cleaning binges when the little messes add up to big messes.  Before I go to bed every night, I make sure dirty clothes are in the hamper, bags from the weekend are put away, new purchases are hung up and receipts are in their home, towels are hung back up after a shower, etc.  Although I am only responsible for my bedroom and bathroom at my parents house right now, any time I babysit I ensure the dishes are put away or in the dishwasher, and the toys that the kids played with are back where they belong.  There is something to be said for tidiness- I fully understand not everyone has the time or energy to do a full clean of their house at the end of the night, but when you take time to make sure everything is put away, your life feels less cluttered and you have a better handle on home management.

5 | Designate one day/week to “reset”

Pick one day each week in which you set aside time to get things done- run errands, do homework, grade papers, grocery shop, treatment plan, etc.  Whatever it is you choose to do on this day will be unique to you, and will likely fluctuate depending on the plans for that week or time of year.  The point to highlight is that you schedule this time for yourself.  When you don’t leave yourself enough time to recharge and take care of business, you end up feeling overwhelmed, burnt-out, and sleep deprived because you are playing a constant game of catch-up.   Historically, Sunday has been my “reset” day- during the academic portion of grad school I would map out what assignments I had to do on each day of that week.  Now that I am in fieldwork, I use Sunday’s to treatment plan, do laundry, grocery shop, and prep my meals for the work week.  This time has been so valuable in maintaining my sanity during a busy time in my life, and helps me refocus my mindset.

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I hope these tips are helpful to you in setting intentions for 2018.  Cheers to a happy and healthy new year! xx

December Favorites

|| HAPPY MONDAY ||

 How is Christmas only one week from today?!  The months are flying by.  Since I will be celebrating the holiday with my family next Monday, I will not be posting until later in the week  but I wanted to make sure I posted my monthly favorites!  A few of these items will be familiar to you as I posted them in my gift guides, but I had to share a few items that I absolutely love and think you will too 🙂

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

1 | Hearth & Hand Teakwood Currant Candle

I posted this in my Gift Guide For The Host/Hostess after picking it up myself at Target.  The smell is so festive, yet not overpowering.  It burns beautifully and love the way the red jar adds a touch of red for the holidays.  Another plus- it has a lid.  Am I the only one who doesn’t like the look of melted candle wax and a charred wick when it’s not burning?

2 | J. Crew Ribbed Beanie

When I posted my Gift Guide For Her Under $50, I bought a few goodies from the list for myself and this was one of them.  I am in love with this hat.  Its super soft and warm, it doesn’t ruin your hair when you take it off, and it looks cute with everything I own.  The only color that isn’t backordered until January is the black, but I say buy the color you want and wait it out.  You will get use out of it for the rest of the winter and future winters to come!

3 | LipSense Moisturizing Lip Balm

This is a must have for cold weather.  It has completely prevented my lips from transforming into the painful, dry, cracked lips that usually emerge come December.  I put it on throughout the day and most importantly, before I go to sleep at night.  It is colorless and tasteless- perfect for your kids, your husbands, or yourself!  Give this a try one time and I promise you will be hooked.  The best part is- its entirely natural.  The ingredients are right on the tube- no harmful chemicals to hide.

4 | Pottery Barn Faux Fur Throw

This is the best blanket.  I picked it up two winters ago and it has been a staple for the colder months ever since.  There are multiple sizes and colors so you can choose what works best for your home.  I have the color “Caramel Ombre,” which is a bit darker but works great with the warmer neutral tones- ivory, tan, beige, or white.

5 | Tarte Cosmetics Eye Shadow Palette 

This was another one from the Gift Guide For Her Under $50 that I had to purchase for myself.  This palette comes with 12 beautiful neutral colors that are highly pigmented and blendable.  Some are matte and some have a touch of sparkle.  If you had to choose only one palette, I would highly recommend it- so many options and the price is fair, considering the use you will get out of it.

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Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.  I hope you all have a chance to spend time with the people you love! xx

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