Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oyster Bay Roadtrip

Sometimes I can feel a little "trapped" in Manhattan. The good thing is that there is plenty to do around here so it's not like I'm bored or feel isolated. But getting out of the city can be a hassle and sometimes not worth it in the end. After months of back to back travel, I decided to stay put for a while this summer. Besides a quick afternoon jaunt to New Jersey recently, I honestly hadn't left the city all summer. I finally got the itch to get out again. And perfect timing. GM lent me a car for a week and it is the definition of freedom in the city.

I considered getting a car in the spring, but ultimately decided against it. This is making me reconsider... being able to just go anywhere (and actually grocery shop) is really nice. The car was delivered on Friday morning and I had to quickly get over my fear of driving in the city. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought. I ended up driving around the neighborhood for about thirty minutes just trying to find a spot to park in. One thing I also discovered, I've never actually had to parallel park. They don't require it on the driving test in Florida and, while I learned with my instructor, I've never had to put it to use. Ah!

We've (aka Garrett) has been driving the Chevy Traverse and we both love it. Three rows of seats!!! Who wants a ride?!

We didn't really have plans on taking the car anywhere on Friday, but between the long weekend and actually having a car it was too tempting to not take advantage. After a failed first attempt at an adventure with Teddy in tow, we decided to go visit Garrett's friends from work who live out in Oyster Bay. A little drive around the town, "shopping" for houses, and then a picnic out by the water. I can't even describe to you how relaxing it was... just being by the water makes me feel like a new person again!

Theodore Roosevelt's home is located in Oyster Bay so we went by for a visit. Unfortunately, it's closed for renovations, but it was still nice to walk around and stretch our legs a bit.

Garrett's friends (Dale on the left and Cody on the right) volunteer for fire departments in Oyster Bay so it was really great to tour the stations and see how they're run. Garrett was happy to be back in a fire station again!

^^ Snapped from the window of the car... So beautiful! I didn't want to head back to the city. (But for spoilers on how the rest of the weekend went, check out my Instagram!)

I'm wearing: Lilly Pulitzer dress (old, here's a cute shift option though), Monogrammed Jack Rogers (c/o), Monogrammed Crossbody (c/o), Ray-Bans


PS I requested a pitstop at Target. It was heaven on earth. (I've obviously been to Target since moving here and I shop online all the time, but it was being in a Target with a car with a trunk and being able to buy everything to bring home. I FILLED that cart with everything. All kinds of groceries that are insanely expensive in the city. I had to actually rearrange and reorganize all my cabinets in my apartment because I couldn't get everything to fit. A great problem, if you ask me. 

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Better With Age

I'm not a birthday person, but I do love getting older. I think it's awesome when someone declares an entire month their birthday month and really makes sure that everyone is held to that standard (no but really, I think it's so fun when people get into birthdays!)... it's just not me. I like to acknowledge them, but just keep it low-key and tight knit.

Like I said though, I really enjoy getting older. I operate under the belief that life gets better with age. At least in my experience, everything gets a bit better and a bit more fun and enjoyable with each passing year. This could also be the fact that I've been a thirty year old trapped in a child's body growing up.... (I was one of those weird adult-kids.) Some years have had bumpier months, but the slope of the curve is certainly a positive one. Even during rougher years (23 for me wasn't amazing), I always feel like I hit September 1st feeling a whole lot smarter about something. Just like when we were kids, growing can hurt. It may not be our bones and teeth anymore, but personal growth isn't without its pain... remembering that difficult moments will eventually lead to clarity and understanding helps.

My twenties have really been amazing... and I'm THRILLED to be turning 25 today. There's something about that age that just seems like a stamp of authenticity for being an adult. The irony being that I think age (i.e. the number) really matters less as you get older; I have friends of all ages and it doesn't matter if they're 21 or 31.

24 was the biggest year for me yet. I turned 24 over Labor Day weekend last year. I had a job... I was single... I was spending every spare moment on the internet looking at dogs... and kind of bored. Bored in my book is worse than being sick. I went into my job that Tuesday after the long weekend and put in my two weeks' notice. It was scary, but the best decision I've ever made.

A few notable things that have happened this year:

I don't hate my body | There is something to be said about being comfortable with your body. In fact, it feels freeing. I remember really feeling self-conscious about my body as young as seven, comparing the width of my legs to my best friend in our gymnastics leotard. Of course, that feeling only grew more intense over the years... through middle school when I was mortified by how lanky I was... through high school when my body began to shift and curve every two weeks it felt like... and through college when my body weight was scrutinized by 18 men every weekend (perks of coxing). At some point last fall, I remember that every time I saw a picture of myself or my reflection in a mirror, I would cringe and "hate" on something new: my hair, my legs, my arms, my stomach, my teeth, my weight, my complexion...

It did not happen overnight, but I committed to thanking my body every chance I got. Switching my thoughts from, "My arms look bad," to "Thank you arms for having the strength to carry and balance six packages down five blocks." Changing my behavior towards my body eventually changed my attitude towards it. I don't define myself as my body, but we're certainly a team in this game called life. And if we're on the same team, I think we should definitely play nice.

I've worked for myself for 11 months | I really chalk this up as a huge accomplishment. When I quit my job, I had planned on getting another one in January. I thought I would hate working alone and the thought of "blogging" full-time didn't sit well with me at all. I actually did hate it for a while. It was a challenge to go from working in group environments my entire life (school and then my job) to spending my days alone, two feet away from my bed, at a desk by myself. Boring. However, something amazing happened. While I still don't really love saying that I blog full-time (too many years of brainwashing to believe what a "real" job looks like I think), I love what I do. I've always loved blogging but it was always second or third on my priorities list. Now, I get to do what I love first.... and have a life. This was the biggest realizations for me, and also the biggest reason why I never started looking for jobs again.

When I worked in an office, I would come home at the end of the night and either not want to move from the couch or would have to spend hours working more on my blog to finish something important. Now, when the end of the day rolls around, I'm anxious to get out and do something. I want to have dinners with friends, do things at night, and have fun on the weekends. I have both the time and the energy to do that. I randomly did get a job offer a month ago and declined because I enjoy having a life. (A year ago, I would have JUMPED at the opportunity and burned that candle at both ends with enthusiasm.)

I hit a major financial goal | One of the downfalls of going to a school like Georgetown is you see how some people grow up differently. This is actually more of a strength 99% of the time because it brings incredible diversity to class discussions. However, when you're 18 and living in a spare bedroom of a house of a friend that is nicer than any house you'll ever live in for the rest of your life... it kind of gets to you. I am definitely not saying that money is everything, but I do think financial independence, especially for young women, is important. I'm really, really, really proud of myself for graduating school and never asking or needing my parents for dime. The first year out of school was hard as I was essentially working two full-time jobs, my day job and then my blog at night. I set myself on a strict budget and ate a lot of pasta for dinner. Saving was and is important to me and I made sure that I was putting away a portion of my paycheck every week. With my second job (aka blogging) that was easier. (I also know that a lot of my friends do have second jobs in the city, it's pretty necessary to get off the ground.)

Being fiscally responsible starts by being fiscally aware. Knowing what your income is, how you can supplement that if necessary, and then measuring that against your expenses and saving goals. Just like a company, there's a couple ways to be more in the clear: make more money, spend less money, or make more & spend less. I use Mint.com to track income and spending and find that it holds me accountable. It also shows your personal wealth grow over time, which I find to be a great motivating factor. I actually hit, and well surpassed, a goal for myself that I didn't think I would hit until I was 30 this year. Again, part of that was being able to dedicate my time fully to what I love doing, blogging.

I'm turning into my mom | I've said it before, and I'll say again... I'm turning into my mom more and more every single day. The things I do, the things I say... it's insane. I will walk by a mirror and SEE Meesh looking back at me. And my actions are absolutely my mom's. Most recent example: I have a loaner car this week from GM and, naturally, I go to pack some things for when we're on the road. I put together a bag and the first thing I do is put a roll of paper towels in it. I didn't even think about how that is SO MY MOM until I was loading it into the car. (My mom always had a basket in the car for trips with a roll of paper towels right on top.) Then I found myself hoarding napkins from Starbucks and drive throughs and putting them in the pockets of the door. I love my mom and couldn't be happier to have a little fortune-telling glimpse into the woman I'm going to turn into. (I just didn't think it would be so soon!)

I should note here as well, that I see myself turning into my dad too. I never understood why he was so adamant on turning off the lights and the air conditioner... and now I open that electricity bill every month and get it. Speaking of paper towels, in true Phil fashion, I will compare the cost per sheet for every roll until I figure out the best deal. I'm also seeing myself get emotional like my dad does. One of the classic Phil stories is that he saw sisters saying goodbye at an airport once and he cried watching them as they hugged and hugged. He still tears up to this day thinking about it. Lo and behold, I witnessed parents saying goodbye to their son this weekend as he started his first semester at college... I climbed into the car and just bawled.

I fell in love | I'm not someone I would label as a relationship person. I had a couple of boyfriends in college, but nothing serious. (Mostly because I was more interested in school than hooking up at parties.) And in college, I had rocky connections with a few people, but again... nothing serious. When I moved to New York, I was under my "thirteen year plan." I didn't envision myself being in a relationship until I was 35. Because life has a funny way of doing things, I ended up meeting Garrett early last summer when he moved to the city. We were both busy and preoccupied, but I definitely had a crush on him that first night we met. It wasn't until Labor Day weekend that we finally had the chance to really hang out together.... I pretty much knew then. As luck would have it, I quit my job that following Tuesday and suddenly we had more time to get to know each other. The rest is history... but this was definitely not something I expected to happen at age 24.

I'm a dog person now | Fun fact: I used to be terrified of dogs growing up. Whenever I went over to my best friend's house, her family would have to put Travis, their golden retriever, outside. Dogs have always been a creature I never understood and I certainly didn't understand how people could be so in love with them. I dog sat the sweetest lab a couple of summers during college and I bonded with Tucker (Little V's brother's dog) during my junior year. Then I was slowly figuring out why dogs were so great from working in a dog-friendly office. I even took a dog in after Hurricane Sandy and loved having him around for that week. Getting Teddy was and wasn't spontaneous. It wasn't because I had been searching for months. And was because it happened so fast when I finally found him. I don't think I was ready at all when I brought him home that first day, but the timing is never really perfect for any of these things.

Having him was hard at the beginning (really hard), but I love that little guy so much now and we're in an amazing routine together. I love walking around the city with him every morning, he makes me laugh all the time because he's a little weirdo, and he's definitely softened me up quite a bit. Never in a million years would I have thought that a) my apartment would be littered with dog toys, b) I would let a puppy sit on my bed, and c) that I would feel so attached to an animal.

I find myself at a crossroads | Right now, something that I'm facing is this stretch and pull between "having it all." Part of me is ready to forge ahead and make huge career decisions. A couple of those have been in the works for over a year, but when I started to make those choices at 23, they felt way more solid. "Of course this is what I want!!!" I remember thinking. While I don't not want those things to happen, I find myself also wanting to settle down and nest a little bit. I've been saving my money and can move out of the city and buy a house if I want. And I kind of do... but I also kind of want the career. On one hand, 25 seems so young; I know I'll look back when I'm 30, 45, 60 and laugh at how old I felt turning 25 and how I thought the decisions I was making were so monumental. On the other hand... aren't those decisions I'm making now shaping who I will be at 30, 45, and 60? For now, I'm just taking it one day at a time. One choice at a time. And seeing where things lead.


PS In case you were wondering about the 25 before 25 list I made last year... I did a few of the things randomly, but mostly discovered that I'm not a good list follower or a good list maker. I still want to and plan on doing the things eventually, but this year brought along a lot of changes I didn't expect. The biggest takeaway is that I did a whole lot more that wasn't on the list than what was on it.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Favorites

This month was just packed with all kinds of amazing. I love those kinds of months, but it does make the time fly by a bit quicker. I'm still very much in a summer state of mind and don't intend on changing that anytime soon, thank you very much.

Here are some of my favorites from the month:

Washi Tape // Every desk needs at least four rolls of this. I need something to take my notes up by my desk because my sticky notes were losing their stick. Of course, I also need to be able to remove the notes when I was done. In comes Washi tape and my life is changed forever. The uses for Washi tape are seemingly endless; I find myself reaching for it at least once a day. Besides taping notes by my desk, I've also been using it to extend the space in my agenda by taping the top of a paper in the square for the day so that it can be flipped up.

Essie "Take It Outside" // Not quite ready to give up my summer pinks, but Essie's "Take It Outside" is the perfect transitional nail color. I've been wearing it quite a lot. The shade is gorgeous and it goes on smoothly. Unlike a lot of other lighter nail polishes, this one definitely dries better and cleaner, aka you don't have to wait an extra 25 minutes for your nails to completely dry.

Starbucks Orange Valencia // I know I included Starbucks' iced coffee in July, but this has to be the best item on the menu. I actually saw a girl on the subway drinking it one day and was curious about it. I inquired about "an orange colored ice drink with an orange slice" at my neighborhood Starbucks and can officially say I'm addicted to the Orange Valencia. It's like adult Tang... but in a good way. Super refreshing.

Fresh Moisturizers // With my 25th birthday tomorrow, I've been really kicking up my moisturizing game lately. I went a bit crazy at the Fresh store down the street from me... buying all kinds of amazing potions and lotions. My routine is now: Wash with the Soy Face Cleanser day/night (with my Clarisonic). Then I spritz on Rose Floral TonerRose Hydrating Face Serum, and Black Tea Age-Delay Lotion (morning) or Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream (night). Love the way the whole regimen has been making my skin feel!

The Vacationers // I'm almost done with the book, but I needed to include it in August because I've really enjoyed reading it. It's a light read and I love the way it's written. The characters are perfectly quirky and the backdrop of Mallorca makes for a great summer read. While I was worried that the book fell into the "cute cover to make up for a boring book" category, I was pleasantly excited to really love the story!!! Definitely recommend.

Gigi New York Crossbody // I have very few words other than... I'm obsessed. It's just the perfect size to hold all the essentials without feeling weighted down. Adding this to my long list of favorite handbags. It's been added to the regular rotation, although I must admit that I've been playing favorites and wearing it almost every single day.

Monogrammed Jack Rogers // These have been on my wish list for a while and Jack Rogers granted it! Normally Jack Rogers take a few wears to break in, but for some reason unknown to me, these feel amazing from Day 1. Not one blister and I've been wearing them for lots of city walks. (Plus, it doesn't hurt that my monogram says CHA... I love cha-cha-cha-ing around town!)

What were some of your favorite things this month?

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day Sales

Labor Day sales are some of my favorites (right after the Fourth of July). They're mostly summer-y items, but you can occasionally find some great transitional pieces and staple pieces that you can wear well into fall if not the whole year. (These sales are also especially great for my southern girls!)

Now is definitely time to make your splurge purchases from Tory Burch like these gorgeous riding boots or a new fall handbag.

Omg, the cutest monogram things like this acrylic monogrammed tray! And the "Hey Y'all" poster is too cute!

My favorite pearl necklace is on sale and these plaid loafers are just perfect for fall. And if you want to start your summer collection early for next year, check out these jelly Jack Rogers and this navy nautical dress!

Happy shopping!

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Giveaway :: Vestique

It's been really amazing to watch Vestique grow. I first started working with the owners right before they opened their first store... back in 2011! Now they have stores in North Carolina and South Carolina with even more plans to expand. 

Both the online and brick-and-mortar boutiques have fabulous clothes at affordable prices. Vestique has great options for everything... class, going out clothes, concerts, gameday outfits, weekend wear, etc.

A $200 credit will be awarded to the winner... which is a fun shopping spree at Vestique! Enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below:

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Good luck!
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