Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter is Coming.

Winter/seasonal depression is definitely a legitimate thing. It's dark at 4 p.m. (I'm looking at you, December 21, you miserable bitch), it's cold so you have no desire to go outside, and so there's really nothing to do but stay inside, watch Netflix, and eat carbs (please tell me I am not alone in this), all of which just makes me feel worse about myself afterwards. 

This winter, I want to focus in on the good things and make the most out of what is the most miserable time of year and change it into being the actual most wonderful time of the year (sooo cheesy, someone cut me off, I know).

TV Binges.
I just started watching House of Cards with Anthony and I am obsessed. I plan for many nights in obsessing over how perfect Kevin Spacey is. After that Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad are on my queue (I know, I know, how did I get through life without watching either?). Regardless, winter is perfect for this! 

Hot yoga.
It's 12 degrees outside, but if you're a hot yoga junkie like me, this means nothing because you'll be sweating it all out in a 100+ degree studio, detoxifying, working off all of those holiday carbs, and being blissfully (or disgustingly in my case) hot.

Soup/chili.
All winter long. Experiment, use a Crock Pot, and have fun!

Cuddling.
Yes. I don't care if you're cuddling with your dog, your significant other, your best friend, or your glass of wine. Cuddle up as much as possible.

Red wine.
Granted, I drink it all year long, but I think it's extra perfect during cold months.

Hot chocolate.
So good. Make it on a pot, on the stove instead of a microwave... add whiskey if desired and you're feeling extra adventurous. I also stir mine with a candy cane because I LOVE SUGAR and I do what I want.

Down comforters.
And down inserts for the top of a mattress. Seriously perfection (though you will want to cocoon and never leave your bed, ever).

Holiday movies.
There are the classics, like Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually that just feel better to watch this time of year. There are also horrifically made, ridiculously cheesy Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies for if you ever are feeling like you made bad choices in life, you can remind yourself that you never starred in Grumpy Cat's Christmas.

Christmas music.
Especially if Michael Buble is singing it. Oh, HELLO.


Lounge/yoga pants.
Okay, so I don't own a pair of traditional sweatpants - you know, the big and unflattering ones that basic bitches used to wear with Ugg boots circa 2003 that make your ass look like a concave basketball no matter how many squats you do... however luxe lounge pants or Lulu Wunder Under? Yes PLEASE, I will be wearing these all winter long.
Plus, no guy will ever protest about you wearing these.. even with Uggs.

Reading.
There is no better time to read than in the winter. Snuggle up (combining a few lovely things in one!), grab your hot chocolate, and catch up on your ever growing Goodreads to-read list.

Holiday themed activities.
Ugly sweater parties (check, have one on deck), gingerbread house making competitions (we're doing a couple vs. couple vs. couple contest... six college athletes who are against each other. It will be a bloodbath), cookie parties, whatever. Enjoy and take part fully!

Snow.
It's so damn pretty. Just enjoy it as it falls, without stressing about shoveling, etc. Seriously, it's gorgeous.

Baking.
There is nothing better than baking on a cold day - for me, it's very cathartic and a really good way to just unwind and focus on something relatively menial, but where you have to pay attention. Plus, you get a delish final product that you can share with friends/family/coworkers (or yourself, because I mean, you worked hard).

Sweaters.
I love sweaters, the more oversized, the better. Pair them with your lounge pants for a day on the couch and you'll be comfortable without being a total scrub (look good, feel good, amirite?).

Fireplaces.
They don't have the same effect in the summer, I promise you that. They're pretty and romantic and warm, so really, it's just perfection. Anthony and I went away to a B and B (post coming soon!) and our room had a fireplace, which was maybe the greatest thing ever (until we boiled... but it still LOOKED pretty!).
One of the rooms (not ours) from Hotel Mountain Brook, where we stayed!

Staycations.
Staying in or local, trying new things, relaxing... it's perfect in the winter time. In the summer, there's pressure to be outside taking advantage of the weather, whereas in the winter, you can be a slug and it's pretty acceptable.

Game night.
Get your friends, get a shitload of games, bake cookies, and play games all night. Bonus points if you make holiday drinks to go along with it.

Decorations.
Christmas/holiday decorations are beautiful.. like, absolutely gorgeous. Last year, my brother and I got Starbucks and then just drove around and looked at all the lights in our area (our neighbors tend to go pretty big - competition is all too familiar, even when unspoken).

Sequins.
NYE means sequins and sparkle - the more, the better. Embrace your inner diva and go big.

Pretty gift wrapping.
Now is the time of year to get creative with your wrapping! Last year I put sprigs of pine branches on everything and wrapped it all with Kraft paper (this year will probably be very similar because I was obsessed with how it looked.

Red cups from Starbucks.
The true mark of the holiday season.

What are some of your favorite things about winter? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Chillin out, maxin, relaxin all cool..

Hopefully readers are Fresh Prince fans, otherwise this post title will make about 0% sense. 

A few weekends ago, Anthony and I headed to Philadelphia for our first trip together. I was instantly excited at the prospect of a trip together, but especially one in my old stomping grounds of Philly, where I spent so much time during my four years of college. We made plans to do a ton of sightseeing (since even though I went to school there, I went mostly to bars/restaurants versus tourist attractions), and visit two of my college friends, who I hadn't seen since the three of us went to Costa Rica together. 

Most of these pictures are Anthony's, since he is a very talented photographer. Basically if you see any that look good, he most likely was the one who took it ;) 

When we arrived in Philly on Thursday night, it was raining like crazy, and freezing cold. 

We rented a penthouse apartment in Rittenhouse Square, with incredible floor to ceiling windows and a killer view of the city - it was absolutely unreal, and a sight not to be missed. 

After checking in and taking time just to look around and realize how absolutely gorgeous the views from the apartment were, we headed to Tria, a wine bar/restaurant for some wine and dinner, which ended up being absolutely phenomenal. Being from NYC, where people are polite but do their own thing, it's always a shock at how freaking nice people are once you live the Tristate area - the bartender actually came out from behind  the bar to hand us menus, and then came back to take our order... so we didn't have to try to wiggle our way in to a spot in the bar to shout a drink order, which amazed both of us.

We tried new wines, ended up with a seat by the window, and had a prime spot when it actually started to snow. 

After Tria, we headed to Ranstead Room, a speakeasy literally a block from our apartment, that featured classic cocktails in a very low-lit bar that couldn't have seated more than 20 people. I ordered the monkey's gland, a mix of gin, absinthe, and grapefruit juice which was fantastic. 
The place itself was down an alley, and was unmarked except for a very small RR marked on a door. I'm a big fan of low-key places like that, where you can try new drinks, but also have conversation, so this was absolutely perfect for me. Night one was an early night, since we planned to do a ton of sightseeing the next day, which required an early start. 

We woke to blue skies, a sharp contrast from the previous day, and the windows in the apartment heated the room so much that it felt like a hot yoga studio (no joke). The views were so gorgeous though, that it made the heat more bearable (at least for me... I think Anthony was dying a little bit). He got breakfast while I got ready, and then we sat and enjoyed coffee and muffins (pumpkin for me, because even being in Philly, I'm still basic af) before heading out into the cold. 

Morning views.

The Liberty Bell was Anthony's must-see, and we ended up getting there at the perfect time - there were no crowds, so he was able to take this picture of the cracked and symbolic Bell. 

After the Bell, we wandered near Independence Hall, and through the park, near one of my absolute favorite and historic streets in the city. I want one of these brownstones so badly. 

No trip to Killadelphia is complete without a cheesesteak, at least for the meat eater in the relationship, so I made sure to take Anthony to Jim's on South Street, for the best cheesesteak in the city (Pat's and Geno's do NOT compare, I promise you that), and afterwards we wandered around Penn's Landing, before heading to the National Liberty Museum (specifically to see the Mandela exhibit). 

After our walk, we were obviously still hungry, so we headed to Franklin Fountain for a massive selection of ice cream... and then massive ice creams. 

Listen, you'd make the same face if you saw how many freaking options there were. 

Success!

Ben Franklin walked down this alley... most like likely with similar hand gestures. You go, Benny. 

We cut through Love Park on the way back home, where the sign was very, very tiny, but it still required a picture to be taken in front of it while a homeless woman tried to sell us beautiful blue antifreeze flavored candy canes, which really added to the moment. 

After a trip to the liquor store for more wine and vodka, we headed back to the apartment so that we could have a front row seat for that night's sunset from our apartment views, perfectly complimented by red wine. 

Picture of a picture of a setup for a sunset.

As we finished our first bottle of wine, my best friend and four-year college roommate Rach called to say she was in the lobby, which led to a huge catch up, story telling session (while opening a second bottle of wine, naturally). 
It's always amazing to me how time can pass, and yet you can pick up exactly where you left off with some of your friends. 

From there, we Ubered a fancy car to Fishtown, where we headed out for Mexican food and margs, and then met up with Amanda, the last of the three amigas.

From there, we spent the night bar hopping before ending up back at the apartment for more vodka and taking in all of the views.

All in all, it was a very, very packed, but perfect first trip together, especially since it ended with dinner at The Melting Pot with one of Anthony's best friends and his fiance after watching Interstellar.

What are your favorites ways to spend a weekend getaway? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful for All Things.

This year has been a crazy one, but one that I wouldn't change for the world. Thanksgiving always makes me really reflective - to me, it's a time where I consciously think about all the amazing things that my life is holding, and just take the time to be extra vigilant and aware of all of the amazing things, big and little, that I have in my life that keep me going.


Blogger friends.
I've been lucky enough this year to have some phenomenal blogger meetups, turning virtual friends into real-life friends, which I'm kind of obsessed with.

With Christina and Leeann in Central Park.

Kari (my laundered spirit), B, Pam, M, and Kristen at our NYC blog brunch.

Netflix/Hulu/HBO Go.
But really... nothing can make me unwind more than a lazy ass Friday night spent watching too much television.

Red wine.
Obviously.

Vodka.
Also, obviously.

Pinterest.
Guys, I would lack inspiration for so much - recipes, blog posts, fitness tips, zen guidance and inspiration - if it wasn't for this site that sucks up my time so beautifully. 

Shifting family dynamics.
I used to never believe it would be possible for me to have a positive relationship with my parents and brother, yet I find myself now calling them just to say hi, to invite them over for dinner, and schedule time to see them in person. It's become important to me to have them involved in my life, and I'm so grateful for that.

Okay, so when my parents met Anthony for the first time, we went to a tapas place.. one of the desserts was a zepole tree, which came out with a cloud of cotton candy. My parents could not even handle themselves.

Influenster.
Influenster and the Influenster App are pretty fantastic - you get the opportunity to connect your social media platforms and then have the chance to qualify for VoxBoxes - which are these awesome colored boxes filled with new products from various brands. Last year alone, I received the J'adore VoxBox that had face masks, Hershey's kisses, tea, etc. and the Victoria's Secret VoxBox, which came with a pair of yoga pants AND a sports bra. How many companies do you know that will send you all of this just to review?! I'm a fan and will continue to use it and reap the rewards.

Travel.
New experiences, new foods, new places. I'm all about travel and am so grateful that I've had the opportunity to see so many new and beautiful places this year.

Troyes, France.
Our Airbnb apartment in Philly!

New friends. 
I've met some awesome people, mostly as a result of dating Anthony, and I'm so thankful for the ability to blend in easily and for them all being so accepting and warm.

Old friends.
I have the greatest people ever in my life, who are so filled with positive energy and encouragement, but who are also willing to totally kick me in the ass when I need it. I really can't ask for much more, friendship wise.

Reunited for the first time since Costa Rica in summer of 2012!

Good books.
I've read so many great ones this year, and I love how teaching gives me a window to share some of my favorite books/ones that really impacted me with a younger generation.

Avocados.
I eat these by the dozen, for real. And they encourage me to eat more salad, so I mean, how could I not be thankful?

Coffee. 
And honestly, everyone else I encounter should be grateful for coffee too, because otherwise they would have to deal with a real bitch on a regular basis.

Home ownership. 
Listen, I cry about mortgage payments. I cry about how expensive electric bills are. I cry about the fact that the on-premise laundry is absolute shit and my clothes come out dirtier afterwards. At the end of the day though, my home is my happy place, and where I control the flow of how things go. I am so thankful for the fact that I have a roof over my head, and a pretty perfect one for me, at that.

Aveda Facials.
I originally had it as just "facials," but thought that you might think my new job was a little more x-rated... I've been going to a phenomenal Aveda facialist for the past year, and I'm telling you, she's a miracle worker. Not only that, but she recommends holistic methods that I can be doing to improve my overall health, and skin. Acne is something I've struggled with for a very long time, and adult acne is a real bitch, so I'm extra appreciative of her helping me with my number one insecurity.

Cute animal pictures.
Because really? How could you not feel happiness after seeing some of these?

Yoga/running.
Two polar opposites, but two of the most powerful things where again, I'm in full control. I love seeing my body stretch more, push harder, and look better after consistent effort and practice. This summer, I really pushed for speed and for improving my overall run times and I was able to really improve my overall times.

New relationships.
They say things happen when you least expect them to. Never did I think that Instagram (seriously) would bring two people together, or that I could have a relationship built on communication and mutual respect.
I'm ridiculously happy, which is terrifying because it's been so easy and natural, which is not what I'm used to, but am unbelievably grateful for the change for the best. I'm so excited about things and to see how everything continues to progress.

Cole Haan.
Seriously, my feet thank you and your Nike Air inserts. My bank account isn't too thrilled with you, considering you consist about 75% of my shoes, but my feet, which are more important, are so grateful.

Music.
Always.

New job.
I'm officially breaking up with teaching in a classroom and obtained a position as a credit recovery services trainer for a corporate position. Basically this means more money (a LOT more money), PTO instead of summers off (so I can take off ANY time), have 30% travel, and am totally on the forefront of this new division within the company, so I get to create the curriculum and everything from the ground up!

Yoga pants.
Particularly when I'm on my couch watching Netflix, drinking wine (and particularly when they're free from Influenster).

Dessert.
Always dessert. Always.

All the things I take for granted so regularly.
Running water, Internet access, heat, electricity, literacy, a college education, grocery stores, clean drinking water, the right to vote, people who love me deeply, the ability to speak my mind and bullshit as much as I want on this blog, and a future that is still so bright.

What are some of the things - little and big - that you're most thankful for? 

Currently listening to: Runaway (U & I) Kaskade Remix - Galantis 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Save or Splurge?

Biana over at B Loved Boston shared a really fun post recently about things that people typically save or splurge on. It definitely got me thinking, and reflecting on my spending habits (and what I probably should be budgeting more on... I always considered myself a saver, but maybe not!). Below are the categories and feel free to join in on the fun! 

1// A cocktail dress to wear to a wedding
2. A glass of wine at a restaurant 
3// A hotel room
4// A haircut
5// Wild card...you name it! 

1. Save/splurge.
Okay, so this one really depends. Sometimes I get this very inflated ego, where I think that people on Insta or Facebook are analyzing what I wear and how frequently I wear it, and I'm convinced that I need a new dress for every single wedding or function that I'm invited to. 
I usually hit Nordstrom for cocktail dresses to wear to a wedding, however I do use my Nordstrom card, which constantly gets me credit/points, which equals dollars off (significantly in some cases!), but definitely still adds up to way too many dollars in cocktail dresses hanging in my closet. 
Last week though, I went to Marshall's during my lunch break and found a GORGEOUS maxi dress for.... $45 that I bought in preparation for the slew of weddings that are on deck. Talk about preemptive saving!

Must keep reminding myself it's okay to wear a LBD to more than one function.

2. Save-ish. 
I usually pick the glass right smack in the middle, price wise. So if the house wine is $8/glass and the most expensive is $20/glass, I'll go for the one around $12, figuring that it's got to be somewhat decent. 
Typically when I buy wine for myself, I base it off the cutest label (my dad, who orders the most expensive glass at every restaurant, always dies a little inside when I bitch about a bottle of wine that isn't so great... "but the label is sooo cute!"). Sorry, but a $20 bottle tastes the same to me as an $85+, dad. 

3. Save.
Wow, I'm not as thrifty as I thought! For this one, it really depends on the area I'm staying in, and the cost of the overall trip. 
I've been obsessed with Airbnb lately, where you can 5x the space for the same price as a hotel room, which is very economical (Anthony and I just booked a penthouse in Philly with floor to ceiling windows in Rittenhouse Square for under $200/night. UNHEARD of). 
My dad has a Hilton Honors and a Marriot Rewards card, and has literally three months worth of free rooms that he doesn't use, so he usually gifts them to me if I'm staying outside of a city, so the cost for a great room is $0. It's not what you know, it's who you know, right? 

4. Splurge. 
The girl who cuts my hair started on the "mentor" level at the salon I switched to after moving back home after college. The salon itself uses all Bumble and Bumble products, and Jessica's blowouts are like none other. She's now (four years later --- where did the time go?!) made her way up to the "master" level, which means her prices took a $40 jump. I will pay anything for her haircuts, blow outs, and her phenomenal personality. 


5. Wildcard -> Denim -- Splurge.
Always. I've tried other denim (under $100), and maybe it's in my head, but I don't think anything is comparable to a pair of Hudson, AG, or J Brand denim. The quality of the denim is fantastic, they hold up well, and are figure flattering. I have more athletic thighs, but a thin waist, so finding flattering denim is not easy.

Listen, Princess Kate choices J Brand for a reason. Just sayin.

What are your thoughts on saving versus splurging on the above mentioned things? 
I know I definitely need to start budgeting better/being more thrifty with cocktail dresses, even if that means I need to condense my closet before making any more purchases!