Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Leather Moto Jacket





Similar Leather Jacket / Ruffle Sweatshirt Top (On sale! I loved it so much I bought it in navy and gray. Size down) / Jeans / Flats (I wear them alll the time! So comfy) / Less expensive bag here / Earrings 

Happy Tuesday and happy August, friends! I want to take a moment to say please pray for my friend Quentin who is in the hospital with serious injuries after a motorcycle accident last week. Please pray for his speedy recovery and for his wife and family. He is being monitored in a very good hospital with excellent doctors, and we are hopeful. We could use all the good energy we can get. Thank you.

In other news, I am wrapping up my two week stint in Seattle to go back to LA, pack up the rest of my stuff, and get ready to make the big move! I have never lived out of California as an adult -- unless you count my 8 month stint in Colorado freshman year, which I don't really count.

There are a lot of changes happening -- I'm moving, starting a new job, getting married, SH and I just got a dog -- I'm very grateful and I think this is an important time in my life to reflect. I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between "healthy striving" and "perfectionism" since I started reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Brene says that healthy striving is self-focused and sounds like, "how can I improve?" while perfectionism is other-focused, and sounds like "what will they think?" Sometimes I surprise myself with my lack of self-awareness, to be honest, lol. I think of myself as a pretty self-aware person but this healthy striving vs. perfectionism thing really caught me off guard. I have been so concerned with what others think of me without even realizing it. I don't really consider myself a perfectionist in the usual ways one might think of a perfectionist -- for example, I have terribly messy handwriting, I often go outside without wearing make up, I don't mind being seen in my pajamas by my next door neighbors when I let my dog out, you know, things like that. But when I started training Max I noticed I would get a lot of side-eye from people around the neighborhood, and started catching myself thinking, "Max please just behave, you're embarrassing me. What will our neighbors think."

I realized in this moment that I do have some perfectionistic tendencies. But perfectionism isn't real! There's no such thing as being perfect. And actually, when people see me in my vulnerable state, chasing my loose dog around the neighborhood because he ran out the front door, or when I see them in their vulnerable state -- returning my neighbors' dog after he jumped the fence into our yard, again, we connect. We connect over our humanity. Over our pets. Over our wins, and losses. Over our hardships. I had a perfect stranger hug me over the weekend because she heard me screaming for my dog. She ran out and asked if I was ok. If I needed help. She brought dog treats, and a leash. She hugged my sweaty self, panting and out of breath having chased Max through yards.

It was in that moment that I realized how beautiful this vulnerability thing can be. We are all in this together, in the end. And at the end of the day, it's kind of fun to mess up and have some good stories to tell.

Friday, July 28, 2017

TGIF - thankful Friday

Like I mentioned on my Instagram, I am currently listening to the book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. In her book she mentions that on Fridays she creates a gratitude list and I really love this idea. Practicing gratitude is known to improve health, well being and happiness. There is a lot of research on the subject. If you're interested in learning more, check out my suggested reading list at the bottom of this post.

Here is what I am thankful for this week:

1. I'm thankful for the time this week I have had to bond and train my new dog, Max.
2. I'm thankful for the healthy body that I have.
3. I'm thankful for the sunshine and natural beauty that surrounds us in our neighborhood, especially the vibrant blue flowers that Max and I see on our walks.
4. I'm thankful for the opportunity to shoot with an awesome photographer this week, it was really fun!
5. I'm thankful for the opportunity to get settled in my new home with few distractions, and ample time.
6. I'm thankful for the time I've had this week to be creative and practice calligraphy and hand lettering.
7. I'm thankful for the fun times I've had with friends this week.

What are you thankful for today?

Suggested reading list:


Thursday, July 27, 2017

grey ruffle top




 Gray Ruffle Top / Jeans / Heels (in biscotti suede, on sale, only a few sizes left!) /
 Bag (looks like the gucci one but it's under $25) / Earrings

I love items that I can wear to work and on the weekends. Since I work 40 hours a week on top of blogging, most of my wardrobe consists of things I can wear to the office (black pants, blouses, heels, etc.) I fell in love with this ruffle top and bought it in navy as well. It's on sale right now for under $46 until August 6th! I recommend sizing down because it's a boxy fit. I love it. It's feminine meets casual, which is my style to a t. It's almost made of a light sweatshirt material so it's incredibly comfortable but the ruffle detail makes it look more formal, so it looks professional.

Have a great Thursday! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#NSale Basic Long Sleeve Tee (And a big announcement!)





long sleeve tee (on sale for under $20 and comes in 10 colors!) / jeans (great staple) / choker / earrings / similar leather jackets from the #nsale: 1 (under $65) / 2 /

Hey friends! Happy Tuesday! I hope you're all having a great start to the week. I have some big news to share... I am moving to Seattle in August!! My fiance and I are super excited for this new chapter in our lives and we can't wait to share it with all of you. Thanks as always for your support and for following along on this journey with us!

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is still going strong! While a lot of items are sold out, my long sleeve tee which comes in 10 colors is still available in many sizes and is on sale for $19.90. (I'm wearing it in Grey Ebony in a size small, for reference.) My faux pearl studs are not on sale but they are super cute and great for work or every day wear, and they are only $38. I bought my leather jacket at Nordstrom Rack a few years ago, but I linked this year's leather moto jackets (the embroidered one is super trendy this year.) While a lot of the #NSale is geared toward stocking up on fall items to wear later, there are a number of items that can be worn now, especially great basics like tshirts!

Have you gotten anything at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale this year? Comment below with your finds. And also, if you're from the Seattle area, let me know if you have any recommendations for what SH and I should do!!

Photography by Megan Nealy

Friday, July 21, 2017

Shop my Under $30 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks!

The Christmas in July sale is finally open to the public!! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale aka #NSale has the most amazing discounts on fall items, so stock up now! Almost everything I linked in under $30!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

28 Things About Me

 It's my birthday!! So, in light of my birthday, I thought I'd share 28 things you probably don't know about me!

1. I'm an avid reader and listen to a ton of books on Audible. I listen to four-five books a month, sometimes more.

2. I love pepperoni or cheese pizza.

3. On average, I eat an orange a day.

4. I have a dog, his name is Max and he's a rescue. He's sooo cute!! Check out pics of Max on my instagram @mapleandmint :)

5. I have traveled to 14 countries.

6. I caught the fish at Pike Place Market once, like Catherine and Sean did on The Bachelor.

7. I've worked in higher education for three years.

8. In college, I was Panhellenic President.

9. My fiance and I have lived apart for 9 months.

10. I'm moving to the Seattle area (where he lives) in August!

11. In middle school I was a competitive horseback rider and won multiple National Championships.

12. I have lived in 5 different homes in the 6 years I've lived in Los Angeles.

13. I have a master's degree from USC.

14. I was accepted to several doctoral programs this year but decided to wait and apply again in a future cycle.

15. I'm a soprano and I love to sing. My voice teacher described my voice as very "disney princess."

16. In my freshman year of college, I was on a club ice hockey team for about a week, haha.

17. I moved to California from New Jersey with my family when I was six.

18. My Myer's Briggs type is ISFJ.

19. I speak French Fluently.

20. I once acted in a 7 person stage production of The Laramie Project.

21. I have visited and camped in many National Parks: Yosemite, Glacier, Zion, Pinnacles, to name a few.

22. I love string cheese.

23. I take a lot of naps on the weekend! I love naps!

24. I drink a cup of tea and a decaf coffee (or decaf americano) every morning.

25. I love cream and sugar in my coffee.

26. I enjoy baking pies but I don't do it that often.

27. I am in the process of planning my wedding.

28. My fiance caught our entire proposal on camera! He's the sweetest!

Thanks, as always, for reading!


Friday, July 14, 2017

What I bought at the #Nsale!

Friends! I had so much fun last night! I went to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at the Grove and then went to my friend's improv show at Second City Hollywood. I ordered my #nsale items online and then picked them up in the store. This is my favorite way to shop!! I picked up my items and then tried them on to make sure they fit. (They did and I kept all of them!)

I'm sorry in advance for the not great quality of these photos but I want you to see fit, color and sizing details on all of the items I went home with. So here it goes!

1) Ruffle sleeve blouse. True to size. I loved it SO MUCH when I put it on that I ended up buying it in baby blue as well! (I also tried it on in the polka dot but I did not like it at all. Black and blue all the way.) The ruffle detail on this blouse is just so perfect, see a close up below. Seriously I haven't loved a top this much in a while-- it's so feminine, sweet, and on trend, but it's conservative enough that I will be able to wear it to work. Win win!! It will be very easy to go from work to date night in this blouse! You can find it here. It comes in 5 colors.
#NSale Price: $31.90. After Sale Price: $49.

2) Okay let's talk about these skinny jeans. They fit TTS. I'd never bought this brand before but after hearing so many bloggers rave about them, I knew I had to try them for myself. Well let me tell you. They are the real deal. Normally I live and die by Joe's Jeans but this brand may have turned me! This jean is easy to get into (not stiff) but is also not overly stretchy. You know how some jeans you have to jump up and down to get them on?! Not these. They go on nicely but they hug in all the right places. I don't have a thigh gap (#loveyourbodythewayitis!) these jeans are super flattering and slimming and I can't WAIT to wear them when it's not 90 degrees out. I know they are expensive but trust me ladies, they are the real deal. You can shop them here.
#NSale Price: $149.90. After Sale Price: $225. 

 This is what the jeans look like from the side. I love how they make my figure look! Also these photos are not edited so this is what they look like in dressing room lighting. 

 This is kind of a weird angle but I wanted you to see how they fit in the butt. 

 3) Grey Cardigan of my dreams. It is an oversized fit so I sized down. Holy crap is this thing soft. It is so soft I didn't want to take it off even though I was sweating bullets in the dressing room. I wasn't sure about the color when I ordered it online and thought maybe I should have ordered the burgundy, but grey all the way, peeps! I tried on the burgundy and tan colors in the store and I don't know why, but the quality just didn't seem the same. They weren't as well made, they weren't as soft, and they were also not as flattering on me. I am definitely glad I went with the grey. I can't WAIT to wear it in fall! Did I mention this cardi has pockets?! Find it here and run run run because it's going to sell out! It comes in three colors.
#NSale Price: $49.90. After Sale Price: $75. This is SUCH a good deal!



 4) Red Turtleneck with an Open Back. I sized down one size! I love the way this turtleneck feels. It's not super soft ,but it feels like high quality stitching and it's a brand I trust and have purchased a lot of in the past. I just really like how it looks on. They don't show you what the back looks like on the website which is annoying, but I ended up liking it on anyway. See below for what the back looks like. I will still wear this to work but I will probably wear a cami underneath. It comes in three colors. I like the red. You can get it here.
#NSale Price: $44.90. After Sale Price: $68.

 Cute untucked as well.
4) Ankle booties (see above.) TTS but I didn't wear socks with them in the dressing room because I forgot to bring a pair, so I will report back when I have tried them on with socks. I bought them in Toasted Barley Suede and I was worried it was going to be too taupe (and I already own two taupe pairs of booties) but I was happy that it looked more like a chestnut brown to me. I love the chunky block heel (sorry it was hard to get a pic of them in the dressing room!) You can get them here.
#NSale Price: $99.90. After Sale Price: $158.95. Great deal, these will definitely sell out!

Those are my finds! I hope you like them, follow me on instagram @mapleandmint for more #nsale strategy tips and leave me a comment if you have any questions about anything!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: Currently Craving


The #Nsale this year is too good!! I'm loving the rose gold, burgundy and blush tones. I cannot WAIT until ankie bootie and sweater season... I found so many cute items under $30, $50, and $100! Let me know if you have any questions. You can find me on instagram: @mapleandmint!

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks!!

Woohoo it's Christmas in July, friends!! Today the best sale of the entire year starts, and lucky me... right before my birthday!

The deals this year are absolutely insane! Later I"ll be sharing dressing room selfies (sorry not sorry!!) to show you fit and help you figure out what to get. But for now here are some majorly discounted picks from brands like Tory Burch, Topshop, Madewell, and more:


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fall Wardrobe Building

Hey friends! Happy Hump Day! Fall is my favorite season and it might seem crazy that I'm thinking about flannels, rainboots and trench coats when it's literally 90 degrees in LA, but I can't help it! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is just around the corner and I want to help you get ready! It's time to take an inventory of your fall/winter wardrobe and figure out what it is you already have, what you might be missing, and what you really want or need to upgrade/replace. Time to get you started thinking about your fall wardrobe! There's no sense in buying something you already have! For example, I already have a gorgeous pair of black OTK boots, so I won't be buying a second pair this season! There are some things I like to have multiples of, like jeans, so I'll walk you through which items you need for fall and which you might be able to forgo.


Shop the Post:





1. Plaid Flannel. First things first -- often we build our entire outfit around a flannel, jeans and boots in the fall! If you don't have any flannels I def recommend getting one and I love a good red.

2. High Waisted Jeans. These aren't for everyone but this pair particularly speaks to me and is in my shopping cart!

 3. Plaid Scarf. Must. Have. Scarves sold out SO FAST last year during the #NSale. This one is already on backorder! One of my favorite scarves is the leopard one I got during the #NSale a few years back!

 4. Over the Knee Boots. Another must have for fall but only if it's your style! That goes for anything but OTK boots can be particularly tricky and not everyone likes them on! I have a pair of suede Steve Madden's that I LOVE.

 5. Chambray Shirt. This one has a cute ruffle detail. It's a great transitional piece as it can be worn in summer tied around your waist when you're wearing a cute striped t-shirt dress, and then can be worn as a shirt when the temps start to drop.

 6. Ankle Boots. Everybody needs a pair of neutral ankle boots!! I have a few pairs of ankle boots and my favorite ones are heeled because they look super cute with dresses and jeans. Another great transitional piece.

 7. Hunter Rain Boots. These should be on sale during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale so don't buy these just yet! Read my post about #NSale strategy here!

 8. Striped boatneck. I have this shirt, I'm in love. It's so comfy and perfectly classic. I bought it to replace an old faded gap red/white boatneck that I had for years and wore to death.

 9. Distressed skinnies. Need I say more?

 10. Longchamp Tote. I have this in a gorgeous dark red/burgundy color, I just love it, it's perfect for fall because it can get rained on and not get ruined. I've ever thrown mine in the wash! It reminds me of going back to school because I used it in college and grad school to carry all my books and laptop :)

 11. Camel Trench. Another fall staple! This one is at a great price too! Whew ok! That is my list of what you need to build a solid fall wardrobe! All of the pieces above can be mixed and matched and worn in so many different ways which is really the best part!

Shop the Post:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2017 - Let's Talk STRATEGY

Friends, the most amazing sale of the ENTIRE YEAR starts this Thursday, I cannot wait!! I thought I'd answer a few questions for you since I've been a Nordstrom cardholder for years and always get early access to the sale. See below for answers to common questions bout the #NSale!
 
What is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?
The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, otherwise known as the #NSale, is when Nordstrom releases brand-new fall merchandise (including designer merch) at amazing discounted prices!! Tory Burch, Kendra Scott, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff... all your favorite brands. Some items are marked down by SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS! It's honestly the best sale of the entire year.

Why shop it?
Unlike most sales, where items start out full price and then are marked down, #NSale items start out at a lower price and then go back up in August! You will not find deals on brand-name items anywhere else for the rest of the fall/winter season, so buy it now, save (literally and figuratively) and wear it later! 

When can I shop?!
Nordstrom cardholders have Early Access from July 13-20. During these dates, only Nordstrom debit or credit cardholders can shop the sale. Items sell out crazy fast during this sale, so you definitely want to get first pick and make sure your size is available! If you do want to shop Early Access, you can sign up for a Nordstrom debit or credit card here. It takes a few days to process a new card, so sign up sooner rather than later if you want early access.

The sale opens up to the public on July 21, and prices go back up August 7!

How do I know what to buy?
Strategy, strategy, strategy!! You need to know what you are looking for in order to tackle this amazing sale. Go through your fall and winter wardrobe. Are you missing anything? Do you have brown riding boots? Do you have a trusty go-to cardigan that looks good with everything? Are your black work flats looking a little tired and sad and maybe need to be replaced? What about a new pair of ankle boots or a watch? Make an excel spreadsheet of what you already have and what you would like to have in your fall/winter wardrobe. The "would like to have" column will be what you look for during the sale!
 
Make sure you know your size for different brands, as well. Do a little research ahead of time and write down your sizes. If you still aren't sure and are worried about online shopping, don't fret! Nordstrom always has free returns! Order two sizes and send back the one that doesn't fit. You can also bring your return back to the store and return it in person. I do this all the time and they are always super helpful and understanding!
Make sure to follow me on Instagram @mapleandmint I will be taking you through the #NSale in person on Thursday. 
 
If you want to download the Sale Catalog (you know you do... you need to start making your must-have list!) click here



Amazon Prime Day Sale

Friends! The Amazon Prime Day Sale is here! There is a lot of great stuff on sale but I wanted to point you to my favorite deals:

1. Jord Watches - these watches are wooden crafted and SO BEAUTIFUL, I have one in zebrawood and turquoise. It's super unique and looks really nice.

2. Giant Jenga - SH and I want to get this for our wedding -- how fun does that sound, amiright?!

3. Coleman Tent - this is in my shopping cart because SH's tent has a hole in it and we get rained on when we camp :(

Those are my top three picks! What are you eyeing this prime day?

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.


Monday, April 10, 2017

gift giving this wedding season

You guys… SH and I are ENGAGED!!! :D I am a fiancĂ©! I HAVE a fiancĂ©! Ah! It’s all happening! We could not be more excited to embark on this new journey together. I can't believe how lucky I am that I get to marry such a wonderful man. 

I have been daydreaming a lot about our wedding (and even the proposal, replying it in my mind,) but I'm also already stressed about finding a venue. Is that normal?! People told me this would be stressful. I guess I should have believed them! I'm trying to enjoy every moment and take in as much as I can because I want to remember this time as joyful and fun, not super stressful! 

Do you have any friends who recently got engaged? I have friends who just got married this past weekend, (congrats Ashley and Gary!), friends who are coming up on their one year anniversary of being married, and friends who are farther along in the wedding planning process than I am. I've been trying to think of some special gifts to give my loved ones in this exciting time, and whenever I think of unique, special gifts I think of Uncommon Goods. They support artisans and craftsmen from all over the world to bring you one of a kind gifts for the special people in your life. They're also committed to sustainability and being socially responsible on top of having ridiculously cute handmade products. How darling is this wine box:

I really want to give it to my friends whose one year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. Ugh, SO CUTE! And so thoughtful right?! I think they're gonna love it!

I read on some wedding blog that you should light a candle when you're getting ready on your wedding day so that years and years from now, when you want to remember that special day, all you have to do is a light a candle and the scent will take you back! Isn't that such a sweet, romantic idea? I love these because they combine my love of books and candles: 



They would also make a cute bridesmaid gift or nice table decor, don't you think?

If you want to gift a newly wed couple something super sweet but also super practical, why not gift them a custom address stamp? This one is so cute and I love that there are three designs you can choose from:



I would love to have one of these once SH and I are actually living together (actually, try not living in two different states, first!) It's such an exciting time and I can't wait to get deeper into the wedding planning and get closer and closer to our dream wedding. I love thinking about all the personal touches we can add, whether it's with our bridal party gifts or table decor. I'm trying to take it all in and embrace this new stage in life!

If you have any bridal showers coming up, or are planning your own wedding and helping your future hubby look for groomsmen gifts, look no further! Uncommon Goods has great gifts for every occasion, especially weddings!

Thank you to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring this post. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

This Money Saving Coffee Switch

As SH will tell you, I have long stuck up my nose at McDonald's coffee. I guess it's because I associate McDonald's with fast food and fast food with not being healthful. Here's the thing - I've been indulging in Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Illy which are all about $2-$5 depending on what type of drink you get. Multiply that by multiple times a week... or day... and you might be spending $50 in one week on coffee. $50! That's crazy, right?

The obvious solution is to brew your own coffee at home. But if you're on the go, as we often are, stopping at McDonald's for a coffee that only costs $1.09 seems like a pretty good money saving on-the-go coffee switch. The craziest part? Whether you get the small or the large coffee, it still only costs $1.09. I got the large yesterday and sipped on it all morning and into the afternoon.

It doesn't taste like the most amazing cup of coffee I've ever had, but for $1.09, I'll take it and put the money I'm saving toward something I really want in the future.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Clear the Clutter 101: The Spring Purge



Does anyone else ever get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff they have accumulated over the years? I know that I'm not alone... but it seems that clutter isn't something people really like to talk about.

Clutter used to be a source of shame for me. I felt bad that I had so much in my life that I wasn't using, appreciating, or enjoying. I felt burdened by my stuff. I felt overwhelmed. Tired. Ashamed. Constantly bombarded by reminders that I wasn't using the things that I already had and that I had become a slave to papers.  I wasn't really hoarding, and my room wasn't dirty. But... it wasn't the epitomy of cleanliness, either. And who needs calendars, gifted lottery tickets, and receipts from six years ago?! Honestly. Finally one day, enough was enough. I tackled the clutter with the tremendous help from my mother. In fact, I highly recommend enlisting another person to help you tackle your clutter, because things that feel sentimental to you, ("how can I throw out this calendar from 2014? It shows me exactly what I did that year!") are seen as trash to the other person, and are discarded accordingly. (I took a picture of the calendar to reference whenever I need to. Though honestly.... I doubt I ever will!)

Clearing the clutter out of my life has been incredibly freeing. I got rid of that chair (lovingly nicknamed, "crap chair") in my bedroom that housed unpacked boxes from my move for nine. months. Nine months! We moved it to the downstairs living room where it can be actually used... ya know, for sitting on. What a concept!

I'm going out on a limb here... and showing you my very real "crap chair" More like, crap corner!
I threw out old papers, calendars, and planners. I donated organizing containers I wasn't using and no longer needed (oh the irony!) along with candles, jewelry I never wear that wasn't worth much, books I had never read and probably never would read, art supplies, etc. I sold clothing, shoes and more high end accessories online (a post about that coming soon.) I gifted items to people who would actually love and use them i.e. I gave my coworker a sweater of mine that I didn't love, but was in mint condition, that she had been eyeing when I wore it to work one day.

It felt so good to gift things to people who would actually love and use my stuff!

In addition to my "crap chair" I also moved my desk and desk chair out of my room. This created SO MUCH SPACE. So much space! My room is now empty enough that when you stand in the middle of it, it sort of creates an echo when you talk. I also have an empty drawer in my dresser, completely void of anything. Oh how liberating it is to have an empty drawer!

All in all, my spring purge has lifted me mentally in SUCH a big way, I feel freer, calmer, more organized and in control. I felt so weighed down CONSTANTLY by my clutter that it had become part of who I was and how I felt on a daily basis! I can now enjoy my room as the oasis it is. It was very important for me to move my desk out of my bedroom because quite frankly I don't like working in my room. My desk was another "crap pile" gatherer, housing clothes I'd worn earlier in the week, discarded jackets, papers, etc. It was an eyesore!

I know that I'm not alone in feeling down in the dumps because of my clutter. So, here are some helpful tips I have for anyone looking to clear the clutter and do their own spring purge:

1. Just start. 
You will always come up with excuses on why today isn't the best day to start. I recommend starting say, on a weekend when you have nothing else going on. That way you have two full days to dedicate to clearing the clutter. My mom and I spent about 8 hours a day (no joke) last weekend unpacking boxes, moving furniture, ripping apart rooms and then putting them back together. The end result was so worth it!

2. Have trash bags and boxes on hand. 
Get your trash bags ready. You'll need some boxes for donations, too. I made a few different piles - trash bag for trash, box for donations, pile on my bed for things to give friends, etc. When a trash bag is full, take it out immediately. That will help clear up the limited space on your floor or in your living room. Also take the donation box out to the car immediately once it's full. If it's already in your car, it will be more likely to make it to Goodwill as opposed to if it just sits in your garage or hallway for six months. It worked out nicely for us because trash day is Monday. Our trash bins were overflowing by the time I was done but it was okay because the trash trucks came the next day.

3. Figure out what the source of your clutter pain point is. 
Mine is/was paper clutter. It was everywhere. As mentioned previously, I had 6 years worth of old paper that I didn't need. I had never really needed a paper filing system before because I wasn't an adult doing adult things like paying credit card, car, and medical bills. Once you've identified your pain point, move on to step four...

4. Create a system to tackle this pain point.
I needed a filing system. We got out an old filing cabinet and a bunch of folders and I started labeling away. I got a handle on my papers by setting up a filing system and creating folders for things like manuals/instructions, taxes, health, self-improvement, etc. Now when a paper comes my way, I know exactly where it goes, or it goes straight to the shredder.

5. Touch (almost) everything you own.
This might seem like a daunting task and it's probably because it is. Try to touch every item of clothing in your closet and remove anything that a) doesn't bring you joy any more b) brings you negative emotions, like that expensive shirt you bought that still has a tag on it, that you're regretting buying c) doesn't serve you d) doesn't FIT! I got a handle on my closet by combing through what I own and sorting into donate, give away, sell, toss. I had to touch every single item of clothing I owned for this to be effective. Same thing with jewelry. If you aren't ready to part with something, that's okay. Try putting it in a "not sure" box, and then seal it. If you don't miss it in three months, get rid of it! This applies to almost anything you own!

6. Identify the problem and then pivot.
I had to rearrange furniture for me to feel fully comfortable and free in my downstairs living room space which has now essentially been turned into my office. Here was the problem: The teeny little desk in my bedroom wasn't serving me. So what did I need? A large table that could serve as a desk and craft table. How could I make this happen? I had to pivot and think outside the box. Instead of using a traditional desk I would use an Ikea dining table (without the leaf) for my craft table/ desk. Now I have a space to work that serves me and brings me joy.

7. Work with joy in mind. 
I took every single book off of my bookshelf, picked out the ones to donate, and then rearranged them all by color. Now when I walk into my living room I feel so. much. joy!! Looking at the books so beautifully organized on the shelves makes me happy. It's the little things, people! Do things that create joy in your space and in your life.

My amazing joyful bookcase that I love so so much!!

I hope you enjoyed these 7 tips to help you clear your own clutter. What will you get started on today?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

This easy money saving strategy will change your life

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor by any means. Use this strategy at your own risk! 

Saving money can help alleviate financial stress, fund fun trips or activities, and make a person feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Today I'm sharing a ridiculously easy money saving strategy that I use. I like to call it, the "Transfer Strategy."

Here is the way the Transfer Strategy works:

You go to purchase something, whether it's a $2 cup of coffee or a $17 top, and instead of swiping your card and spending money on a purchase, you transfer the exact amount of money you are saving by not making the purchase, from your checking account into your savings account.

If your checking account is too low to make the transfer, then you probably shouldn't be making the purchase anyway because you would have had to use your credit card, right? If your checking account isn't too low to make the purchase, then you've given in to your impulse to allow money to exchange hands, but instead of letting it exchange from your bank account into a business', you've allowed it to exchange from your checking account to your savings account. 

The Transfer Strategy encourages you to be more resourceful. Yes, I would love to have a decaf Americano twice a day, 5 days a week. But this would end up costing me about $24 a week (at $2.39/ drink.) At $24 a week, I would be spending $1,248 per year on coffee alone (and that doesn't include any coffee beverages purchased on weekends!) I could just as easily purchase an 80 count of instant coffee packets for $14.16 and my yearly cost of coffee goes from $1,248 to $92. (I figure if I have 80 instant coffee packets, and use 2 per day, 5 days a week, I'll need 6.5 boxes to fund my coffee habit.)

I want to buy a $2.39 cup of coffee? Instead, I'm going to transfer $2.39 into my savings account (or maybe $3 just to make it nice and even.) You will be blown away by how much money you can save in a short amount of time with the Transfer Strategy. What I like about it is that it becomes a fun game. How much money can I add to my savings account today? This week?

What do you think about the Transfer Strategy? Is this something you would like to try? Comment below!



Monday, February 27, 2017

How to Save Money With Groupon Coupons

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

You've probably heard of the website Groupon.com, which offers amazing deals on experiences like skydiving, cruises, weekend getaways, or beauty related things like mani/pedis, blowouts, massages and the like. But did you know that Groupon has a COUPON section of their website that allows you to save at major retailers like Target, Macy's, Best Buy and so many more??

I love being a bargain shopper. Whether I'm shopping a sale or using a coupon, saving money gives me a little feel-good jolt. I'm starting to use coupons more and more, and make it into a sort of game to see how much money I can save when I go shopping. Groupon Coupons is a great place to start if couponing is new to you, or if you just want to see where you can start shaving off a few dollars here and there on items you already buy on a regular basis. Did I mention it's completely FREE to use?? That's right -- you don't have to pay any sort of membership fee and you can print many of these coupons from the comfort of your own home.

Sometimes you don't even have to print off a coupon, the website just points you to retailers that are having amazing sales. For example, American Eagle has 16 coupons on Groupon Coupons right now, and the jeans coupon takes you to the AE website where it's buy one get one 50% off jeans. Pretty nifty! (Or should I say... pretty thrifty? Sorry. I had to!)

There are so many coupons on Groupon Coupons. Plus, you can search for coupons based on where you live, what stores you want to shop at, or just look at all the featured coupons and see what strikes your fancy!

Some examples of coupons I found are:
  • $32 off your first order with Blue Apron 
  • Buy 2 pairs of Sperry for $119 (they normally range anywhere from $60 - $150 dollars for one pair) 
  • 10% off car rental with Dollar 
  • 40% off print orders $40+ at Walgreens

Groupon Coupons allows you to save on a wide variety of things from events to experiences to clothing and home items!

If you're looking to save money and have fun doing it, I definitely recommend checking out Groupon Coupons!
 

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