Friday, June 23, 2017

5 Tips for Picking Out Wedding Gifts

Happy FriYAY!! What a few months it has been!! What with getting engaged, planning my move to Seattle, getting a dog (see pics of Max here) and all our travel, SH and I have been non stop on the go. And with it being mid-June, we are smack dab in the middle of summer wedding season, and starting to plan our own wedding, too!

Have you ever heard of Zola? They are an amazing resource for both planning your wedding (hello free wedding website, checklist, guest list and registry!) and finding a unique gift for your registered newlywed friends.

I have been to a lot of weddings over the past few years so I thought I'd share my gift giving experience with you (and I have some new perspective now that I'm engaged, myself!)

5 Tips for Picking Out Wedding Gifts:

1. Stick to the registry!
This is one I used to deviate from. "But I want to give them something unique and personalized!" I'd say. "I want the gift to be memorable, not a bunch of towels!" I totally get it. I used to be you. I feel your pain. You want your gift to be a representation of your relationship with the couple so you want it to stand out and be special. Here's the thing- young couples often are broke or strapped for cash. Pick out a gift FOR THEM, not FOR YOU. This means if they want new towels, get them new towels! They spent hours upon hours picking out items for their registry. They said no to some things that didn't make the registry cut. They painstakingly chose what they need and really, really want. Don't deny them the pleasure of getting exactly what they want! And it's really okay. They know you love them more than you can say with a set of hand towels. (Which they will be thrilled to have, by the way! If it's on their registry, they actually want it!)

2. Plan ahead.
When I have weddings to attend, I have to start budgeting early. I budget for the bridal shower, bachelorette, the wedding gift, travel arrangements, etc. I start saving a few months ahead and set aside money little by little. This is even more important if you are a member of the bridal party (think bridemaid dress $$$)

3. Stick to your budget!
So you set a budget ahead of time - now stick to it! The couple doesn't want you to suffer or set back your finances to buy them a fancy wedding gift! Most couples will pick items from a variety of price points. Check the registry early so you get first pick and can stay within your price range. The reality is, if I have to travel for a wedding, I am probably spending hundreds of dollars on airfare, lodging and transportation, so the gift will probably be $50 or less. I had a friend whose out of town wedding I couldn't attend, so I splurged a little more on her. At the end of the day, the couple cares about you sharing in their love on their big day. They aren't going to care about whether you spent $25 or $100 on a gift for them.

4. Go in with friends. 
There's no shame in group gifting! A lot of couples now are doing group gifting options where you can pitch in with a few people to buy a more expensive gift for the couple. This is a nice way to contribute to a cool gift the couple wants without having to shoulder the burden all by yourself.

5. Don't freak out!
Remember, this is supposed to be fun! Have fun when picking out a gift off of the registry. If you want to personalize it, buy a cute card that represents your relationship or personality and write a sweet, heartfelt note.

Buying a gift off a registry can feel impersonal, but it's really not! Especially with sites like Zola that have everything a couple could possibly want - from hiking gear to coffee makers, serving bowls and suitcases - they've got you covered!


Brought to you by Zola.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Photo Tips


Do you ever have the problem of taking a million pictures on your phone but never printing them off and putting them in frames? I certainly do. That's why I was so excited when I found out about a frame that pulls pictures right from your phone and displays only the best ones!

Aura Frames have created a sleek and beautiful smart picture frame. The digital frame helps you display up to date photos pulled straight from your phone without the hassle of having to run to the store to print them off.

When you have a smart frame, you'll want to have smart looking pictures to match. Here are some photo taking tips to help you take only the best photos:


Here are some photos I've taken with my smart phone utilizing the tips above:





Brought to you by Aura Frames.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Thank You + Sales

Happy Memorial Day everyone! The land of the free because of the brave! SO thankful for all the men and women who serve this great country of ours. Today let's take a moment to remember those who have fallen. Yesterday we stopped by the veterans' cemetery for a beautiful ceremony and visited mom mom's grave. 

On a more light hearted note, there are a lot of sales today so I rounded them all up for you! 

ANN TAYLOR: 40% off full-price styles & 60% off sale styles with code SUMMER
ANTHROPOLOGIE: Extra 40% off sale items 
ASOS: 20% off everything with code SWEET
BANANA REPUBLIC: 40% off your purchase (no exclusions!) with code BRSUMMER 
BLOOMINGDALES: Take an extra 20% off select sale items with code BIGBAG
FOREVER 21: Extra 30% off sale items with code EXTRA30
FREE PEOPLE: Extra 25% off all sale styles
J.CREW: 30% off your purchase with code SWEET
H&M: Up to 60% off and free shipping with code 4791
KATE SPADE: Free swimsuit pouch with any full-priced swim purchase
LOFT: 40% off everything with code VACAY / 50% off sale items
LUCKY BRAND: 40% off almost everything
MACY'S: Extra 20% off with code SUNNY
NORDSTROM RACK: Take an extra 25% off clearance
OLD NAVY: All tees, tanks, shorts & swimwear is 50% off
POTTERY BARN: Buy more, save more (up to 25% off) & free shipping with code SAVEMORE
SAM EDELMAN: 30% off sitewide with code SAMSUMMER30
SHOPBOP: Thousands of items added to the sale
SOLE SOCIETY: Up to 50% off select styles

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Tribute to my Mom mom

When we were going through photos for Mom mom's memorial, something that stood out to me very plainly was how chic and well-dressed my grandmother was. I remembered her from my childhood always doing her hair, but that seemed to be a trend started in her youth. Her lipstick, gold earrings and red sweaters highlighted her vibrant and loving personality so well. Mom mom was fun. She was hilarious (without meaning to be.) She was outspoken and voiced her opinions freely. She loved toast, tea, and General Hospital (the soap opera.) She always did her hair and makeup before leaving the house. She lovingly doted on her grandchildren. She was a strong and involved mother. She cared about her community. She was well-known and loved by all.

The photos of her highlighted so well her big and beautiful personality. Her beautiful smile. Her fun polka dot dress. Her children, dressed in coats and matching hats for church. It made me stop and think about my own preservation of self and life through photos. How am I portraying myself and others in snapshots? How am I being portrayed?

Something about blogging has always felt incredibly vain to me. I have grappled (with great difficulty) the concept of documenting my life and self through photos. Who cares about the experiences I have? What I eat? Where I go? What I wear?

But in sorting through photos, in Mom mom's 100 year old house, I realized this:
Our lives have so many facets. The way we present ourselves is one. Photographs capture a feeling in an instant -- a look, a smile, the day's outfit, our homes, our families. Mom mom is forever preserved in images from her wedding day, her travels, holidays spent with family and friends. This is a blessing to her family, who will never forget what she looked like. Though small details may one day fade, we can always turn back to our photographs, to be reminded of the idiosyncrasies of this wonderful soul. How she always wore white sneakers. How she never let herself get gray hair ;) What a boss lady she was. There are wonderful images of her sitting at her desk at work -- she was a working mom and a powerful woman, VP of Human Resources of the Royal Bank of Pennsylvania in a time when women weren't always given the prestige and respect they deserved. She had been retired for more than two decades when she died, yet people from her work came to her memorial. People she hadn't worked with in over twenty years came to honor her, and tell us how amazing she was at what she did. How she connected to others. How she made people valued. How she was respected and loved so dearly.

This is what a photograph can give us. A story. A story about a life, in all it's complicated facets.

More than ever, I feel compelled to tell the story of my own life. Perhaps to preserve it for generations to come. Perhaps to arm my own grandchildren, one day, with the story of our family through images that may one day be faded and somehow, with the every changing technology of our world, out dated.

It may feel vain, but clothes and images tell the story of our lives. Mom mom looked good in almost every photo. She highlighted her best self. Her best, and beautiful self is shining through those photographs. And we will always remember her as the lady in red sweaters, with red nails, and red lipstick -- with gold hoop earrings, black pants, and probably a black turtleneck.

She loved to travel. She loved her children. She loved her grandchildren. She loved her husband. She loved her family. And she looked damn good doing it.

I love you Mom mom, and I aspire to one day be as loving, generous, hilarious, caring, put together, and beautiful as you were. I see your soul in every photograph, and I feel your love pouring through them.

Thank you for all that you have ever given to me and our family.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How to get your Hygge on this spring

Oh my goodness, how is it MAY already and how did I only post ONCE in the entire month of April!? Things have been really crazy around here to say the least... what with getting engaged, throwing out my back, getting norovirus and being in bed for half the work week, my grandma having open heart surgery... flying to the east coast to see her and spend time with my family... I mean when it rains, it pours am I right?! My grandma is still in the hospital recovering from her second heart surgery but she is doing well and we are thankful and feeling hopeful that things will continue to look up.

So. Goodness knows I need a break!

One of my favorite concepts that a friend of mine introduced me to is "hygge" which has a lot of definitions but is basically the art of being comfy and cozy. I've always thought of myself as a hobbit, and this concept of hygge really speaks to me because it's basically all about self care, enjoying the little things, and being happy with what you have and where you're at.

Normally when people think of getting comfy and cozy they think of wrapping up in warm, soft blankets and cozying up by a fire with hot chocolate and fuzzy slippers. But you can get your hygge on in spring just as well.


To get your hygge on this spring I have the following tips:

- Keep your home stocked with fresh flowers. Change the vases, flowers and water often. Changing the water will help the flowers last longer. You probably have a beautiful vase shoved in a cupboard somewhere that you haven't used all winter that is just dying to be used! This is a great opportunity to use colorful vases and pitchers to brighten up your home and add some liveliness to every room. Pitchers double as great vases :)

- Wear some fun and funky socks. My feet are always cold even in spring! Fun and cute patterned summer socks are a nice way to "bundle" up on warm springy nights on the back porch sipping wine!


- Keep wine chilled in the fridge at all times :) Isn't a light white wine or rose just divine when the days are longer and the sun sets after 7:30?!


- Open your windows. Heck, open your doors if you can! Let that fresh air IN!


- Light some springy scented candles. I love candles that smell like fresh laundry for spring.



- Do some light spring cleaning. Out with the old! In with the new! If you have some wintery items you didn't wear all season that you don't love and that don't give you joy, get rid of them! Donate them! Give them to a friend! Sell them! Get rid of clutter and allow yourself to love every item in your home.

- Meditate. Hygge is all about slowing down and being in the moment. Even if you're new to meditation, take some deep breaths, focus on your food when you eat - really taste it, enjoy the flavors, feel the textures - (this is called mindful eating.) Try doing this at least once a day. You will feel rejuvenated and rejoice in the small pleasures of your life.


 

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