healthy work-from-home habits.

When I put out my last call for questions that you’d like to see addressed here on the blog (you can still submit them here!), a few people asked me about how I’ve kept up a healthy eating and workout routine while working from home, and if my approach to it has changed at all since I left my former life in corporate America. Due to some recent circumstances, I’ve made a bunch of adjustments to what I was doing before — both a few months ago in my freelance life and a few years ago in my 9-to-5 life — so it seems like the perfect time to share what’s been working for me lately!

Some of you may know that I’ve been working through some more general health concerns over the last few weeks, a process that’s forced me to take stock of how I’ve been treating my body and what I can do to better serve it. I’ve been pretty passionate about nutrition and exercise since my early college days, but the (thankfully minor) bumps in the road I’ve encountered these past few months in terms of my health have been a welcome reminder that there are lots of ways to be “healthy.” Just because I think I’m doing all the right things to stay well and in shape doesn’t mean that those hard and fast rules work for my body. For many years, they did, but I’m learning to make adjustments and it’s actually been a really good thing.


I’ve written previously here about both my chronic insomnia and my long-standing digestive issues, but what I haven’t shared is that I also deal with intense hives. Without allergy medicine every day, I will literally find myself covered in a hot, itchy rash 90 percent of the time. At one point, I thought it was simply sensitive skin or a harmless allergy, but as it grew worse earlier this year, I began to wonder if it was somehow connected to my sleep and stomach issues — and if all of these problems could be addressed with one magic solution. Over the summer, I met with an allergist and immunologist, who worked with me on a few tests that were ultimately inconclusive. I have some other doctors to see that will hopefully have more answers for me, but in the meantime, I’ve adopted some new habits at the recommendation of the immunologist, and they’ve definitely impacted my general health!

Our recent trip to California also forced me to take a step back and reconsider my health habits. I guess it’s pretty cliché for my New York self to come back from the west coast with a new lease on food and fitness, but what can I say? Call me cliché! In the three weeks since we’ve been back from our vacation, I’ve noticed some changes in my health philosophy. Combined with the changes suggested by the doctor, those mental shifts have felt really good, especially within the framework of my work-from-home life.

  • Sleep: You may already know that I’ve been dealing with insomnia for the better part of four years now, but one tiny little adjustment has made a big difference recently. Vitamin D! My autoimmune doctor suggested it and I’m so grateful. It’s just the generic drugstore kind, but one pill a day has been making it a lot easier for me to fall — and stay — asleep. Game changer!
  • Diet: Since my sophomore year in college, I’ve been managing chronic digestive issues that are still generally undiagnosed. Thanks to some changes in my diet, my belly problems have gotten mostly better, but our trip to California inspired me to test out some other dietary routines, and I’m so happy did! What I realized in California (warning: another total cliché coming up) is that I haven’t been placing enough emphasis on real, well-made foods. I’ve been focusing so much on what’s gluten-free that I’ve almost totally eliminated foods that can actually fuel me, turning instead to anything that had that “GF” label on the package. And guess what? A lot of those foods aren’t really that good for you! I realize how lucky I am not to have Celiac Disease (I took gluten out of my diet a few years ago — along with garlic and onion — when I experimented with the Low FODMAP diet, a process that really did cure most of my symptoms), and I thought it was time that I start bringing a few whole wheats back into rotation. I’m still sticking with gluten-free pastas and staying away from anything too gluten-y (I know it’s not a word), but I’m feeling much healthier since I said goodbye to gluten-free packaged snack foods and started allowing myself a fresh piece of bread here and there. I’m leaner and more energized, and I suspect that this change might also have helped my sleep. Garlic and onion are still my major triggers, so I won’t be bringing those back any time soon.
  • Exercise (and not exercise): For years and years, I’ve relied on exercise as the primary factor in my health. I viewed myself as a healthy person because I worked out six days a week, and I pretty much assumed that the rest would fall into place. Exercise is still really important to me, but when I last went to see my doctor, he schooled me on how much stress I put on myself when I go to the gym on just a few (or zero) hours of sleep. This is the kind of stress, he said, that causes hives and an intensification of my stomach pain, so I’ve tried to force myself to take more rest days — and I definitely don’t push myself toward a hardcore workout after a sleepless night. Instead, I’ll take a long walk outside mid-afternoon, which has the added benefit of clearing my head and getting this WFH-er into the outside world! I’m still going to the gym about five days a week, but I’m also looking for other opportunities to be active in different ways when I know it’s better for my body.
  • Meals: Figuring out my meal schedule — and resisting the urge to snack constantly from my all-too-available kitchen — has been an ongoing process since I started working from my home office, and lately, I think I’m in a good groove. Here are a few tips:
    • Make breakfast the night before. I prep my oatmeal every night before bed so that it’s ready and waiting for me when I wake up the next day. This way, I’m not tempted to creep (yes, creep) around my kitchen considering less healthy options, and I know right when I wake up that there’s a hearty, delicious meal on tap.
    • Maintain consistency. When it comes to breakfast and lunch, I pretty much eat the same thing (or a variation of the same thing) every day, at least for a few weeks at a time. It takes the guesswork out of planning my meals for the day and helps me avoid those bouts of hanger that will typically lead me to a handful or five of chocolate covered pretzels. I picked up this routine while working in a more traditional office, and it hasn’t failed me yet!
    • Take advantage of meal prep and leftovers. I love a good Meal Prep Sunday as much as the next girl, but we’re on the road so often on the weekends that I usually can’t swing it. Instead, I’ve been upping the quantities I’m cooking at dinnertime (especially salads or veggie side dishes) and packing them away for the next day.
    • Plan your snacks. I’m a grazer by nature, and no matter how hard I try to resist temptations, my fridge is always going to be just a few steps from where I’m working. Instead of driving myself crazy fighting off snack cravings, I plan ahead by buying snack foods that won’t make me feel sick or guilty, and budgeting time to eat them into my schedule.

If you’re still working on your health journey (or if you’re in the market for advice that’s way more expert than mine!), check out the Kickstarter campaign for my friend Meghan Meredith‘s Whole Body Fitness planner. I can attest to the fact that it’s an awesome product! It’s also really special to be able to support Meghan’s big dream, which has been such an investment in time and sweat equity for her. Check out Meghan’s recent guest post for a preview of what this resource is all about — then pledge your support on Kickstarter if you’re feeling inspired! 



monthly goals recap -> october + november.

We’re two days into November and I have so many feelings about it. I know I talk a lot about how much time flies, but I think it hits me extra hard at this time of the year. I love the fall, but it always seems to me that it’s this very short little window caught smack in the middle of two much-hyped seasons that we all try so hard to savor. One minute, we’re reminding ourselves to enjoy every last moment of the summertime, and then in what feels like the blink of an eye we’re mere weeks from Thanksgiving, steeling ourselves all over again to hyperconsciously appreciate every last second of the holiday season. There’s no time to catch your breath in between, and somehow, fall always gets lost in the shuffle. Does anyone else feel that way?

This fall — this past month, especially — went particularly quickly for us this year because we spent the first half of October in California (check out those trip recaps here and here). When we got back to New York mid-month, we had the usual rush-to-get-back-into-routine-and-get-lost-in-work thing happen… and now here we are. It’s another month altogether and I’m updating you again about my monthly goals.

Friends, I’ve gotta be honest — this was a tough one for me. As I was going through the progress I made on my October goals, I couldn’t help but feel more challenged than usual by the extent to which I’ve chosen to make all of this public. When I have a good month, it feels amazing to have so many eyes on what I’ve accomplished, but it’s not easy to admit that things haven’t gone the way I planned in a month that isn’t quite so good (Is “good” even the word to use? I’m not sure!). October was by no means an unproductive month, but a lot of the specific milestones I’d hoped to reach just didn’t happen. Schedules changed and life happened in between and I (again) went back to square one with the direction of my book (more on that later!). Sometimes, I feel like you’re coming back here to this goal-setting series month after month only to find that I’m constantly taking one step forward and two steps back. Is that annoying for you? I don’t know.

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What I’m really trying to say is that this is one of those moments where this whole blogging thing feels really vulnerable. And for you, I hope it’s one of those moments that proves that the all-positive vibes you get from social media aren’t always true, and that there’s a lot of self-doubt and spinning-of-wheels that happens behind the scenes.

Alright, here we go [gulp]. Here’s what happened in October:

  • Complete a successful first month at Bustle. √ YES! This has been a really cool experience. I’m working two shifts for Bustle every week. Each of those shifts is basically a six-hour period of time where I’m communicating with my editor via gchat and working on whatever lifestyle stories she needs to assign out that day. You can check out what I’ve done so far here!
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. This is one of those instances where I feel like I must be driving you crazy. I know, I know — this has been on my list for a few months now. Realistically, I’d like to start a writing class right after the new year, so it’s not really that big of a problem that I haven’t done this research yet — at least not outside of the fact that I said I would!
  • Break into new outlet (or two!). √ YES! My first essay on a big site that I’m super excited about should be going live this week! I can’t wait to share.
  • Pitch to a new editor every week. Nope. I was pretty overwhelmed with the projects and clients I already have on my plate this month, so it was harder for me to make this a priority.
  • Implement new schedule for working on my book. I was embarrassingly unproductive on the book while we were in California (like, I didn’t work on it at all), but when we got back, I started working on it more intensely than I ever have. Literally. I’m forcing myself to have a better schedule and I’m making lots of progress, and it’s all because I allowed myself to pivot on the premise when I realized that I’ve been stalled all this time for a reason.
  • Finish second chapter of book. No, BUT… I scrapped my original draft and started from scratch ten days ago, and (hilariously) I’m already a few pages into the second chapter of this revamped version. Those of you who have been following this journey for a while know that it took me a good six months or more to get that far on the last draft! Do you think I’m on to something? (Because I do.)
  • Stick to new blog calendar. √ YES!
  • Read four books. I underestimated how long the book I brought to California was — and more than that, I underestimated how active we’d be and how little time I would have to sit around and read! I did read The Best of Everything (an awesome classic about twentysomething women working at a publishing company in NYC in the fifties that was actually a reread for me) and Amanda Wakes Up (super fun commentary about working in broadcast news from one of my favorite CNN anchors Alisyn Camerota).
  • Stick to journaling habit. I didn’t journal every single day in October — but I did log a few entries, and I’ll call that success!
  • Celebrate Matt’s birthday well.√ YES! I guess you’d have to ask him to tell you himself, but I’m pretty sure my hubs had an awesome birthday : )


And here are a few of my priorities for November…

  • Land one new outlet. Did you think this wouldn’t be on here?
  • Work on my book at least three days of every week. Now that I have some serious momentum going here, I’m going to do my goals based on writing time rather than how much I’ve actually written (i.e. how many chapters, how many pages, etc.). I can’t wait to share updates on the book with you next month!
  • Pitch something new or “big” weekly. Rather than committing to pitching to a new editor every week, I’m going to challenge myself to either pitch to a new editor or share a big idea for a new story with an editor I’ve already worked with.
  • Research “low stakes” writing classes. Don’t hate me.
  • Circle back with a few of my favorite outlets. With some of the new business development I’ve done over the last few months, there are a few outlets that I love but haven’t had a chance to work with recently. I’m hoping to change that come November!
  • Research podcasts and other new projects. I’m starting to think about other things I could do moving forward — passion projects, really — so I want to lay the groundwork and do some research on the possibilities before the end of the year.
  • Read three books. And if I read more than that, all the better!
  • Stick to our new monthly budget. Matt and I are generally pretty good with our money, but we’ve decided to revamp our whole budget and start tracking things a little bit more specifically each month. We’re getting started with that in November!
  • Work on self care with journaling and midday walks. In addition to journaling, I’m going to try to focus on my mental health a little extra in the month ahead by stepping out more often for some fresh air in the middle of the day. Most mornings, I’m at my computer by 7:30 a.m., so I think it would be good for me to make afternoon walks a priority when my schedule allows.
  • Cultivate the holiday season early and often. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I’m really looking forward to the whole holiday season this year. I’m going to make it a priority to start getting in a festive frame of mind earlier than usual this month.

What are you working on in November? I’d love to hear in the comments below!


october giveaway winner announced + the liebster award!

Hello, friends! I hope you all had wonderful weekends and that you’re now ready to hit the ground running with the start of another week. I’m not a big fan of Halloween myself (I know, I know — unpopular opinion), but I know this is a big, exciting time for a lot of you who love the holiday. I, personally, will be over here quietly snacking on a chocolate bar and kinda sorta waiting for the whole celebration to be over so we can start gearing up for Thanksgiving and all the fun in December. I am who I am!

It’s time to announce the winner of the October giveaway! Can I get a drumroll, please? ….

Congratulations, ANDREA EDMAN! You’re the winner of a $25 gift card to Baublebar. Andrea, I’ll reach out via email with your gift card. I can’t wait to see what you decide to buy : ) As always, thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! I can’t wait to see you (and, hopefully, all your friends) back here next month for the November contest.

Last week, my writer and blogger friend Alex (of Authentically Alex) nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thanks so much, Alex! You’re such an awesome cheerleader for my work and it feels so great to get a little nod for this blog.

So, what is the Liebster Award?

Originating in Germany in 2011, the Liebster Award 2017 is an online award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. Liebster translates to sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. The Liebster Award recognizes new and upcoming bloggers that have the potential to grow and become successful influencers within the blogosphere.


All nominees are asked to share ten facts about themselves, as well as the answers to a few interview questions, so here we go!

10 Facts About Me

  1. I met one of my favorite Instagram dog celebrities in the Delta terminal at JFK earlier this year, and I was actually fangirling. I got to take a picture with her, too, and I look at that picture whenever I’m having a bad day.
  2. My first concert was Natalie Merchant with my mom and her best friend.
  3. I make my bed every single day. No matter what. Even if it doesn’t happen until 4 in the afternoon.
  4. I’m not afraid of heights, but I am terrified of ladders.
  5. I went to college about two blocks from the White House, and while being in D.C. for four years kind of turned me off of politics for a long time, I’ve become a total news junkie again.
  6. Cotton candy is my favorite ice cream flavor.
  7. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose. It’s genetic. Thanks, Dad!
  8. I hate orange juice, but I love mimosas. Explain that one.
  9. When I was in third grade I wrote a “novel” called Carrie’s Ride Home about a girl who teachers her blind little sister how to ride horses. It had chapters and everything!
  10. I used to get serious anxiety about talking on the phone. I’ve come a long way, but I still get really nervous every time I have to call a source for a phone interview.

Short Interview

1. What is one place you haven’t been that is on the top of your bucket list?

Thailand! My husband and I are hoping to plan a trip to southeast Asia in the next year or two.

2. What is the most daring experience you’ve ever had? (For example: sky diving)

Two summer ago, I went parasailing with my family at the beach. Logically, I know parasailing is pretty safe, but it felt pretty daring in the moment : )

3. What is your biggest accomplishment?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you can probably guess this one! I would call the last year of my life my biggest accomplishment. Leaving my traditional 9-to-5 job was a big deal for this rule follower, and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in the thirteen months since.

4. What’s your biggest fear?

I’ve always been really scared of large birds (turkeys, ostrichs, emus — even chickens!), and when I have nightmares, they’re usually about being in freefall or being chased.

5. What’s a hidden talent you have?

I’m a crazy fast typer.

6. What’s an activity, craft, or sport that you want to learn how to do?

I would love to get better at hand lettering. I have pretty good handwriting, so I think that if I took the time to learn and practice, it could be a great creative outlet.

My nominees:

Meghan — Home Body Soul

Angela — Mrs. K Fit

Brittney — Brittney Lynn

Krista — FoodWaterShoes

Kristina — Simply Kristina

Task for nominees:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog in your post.
  • Upload the award to your blog. It can be done as a blog or on the sidebar.
  • Answer the questions above.
  • Nominate five blogs who you believe deserve to receive the award.
  • Notify the nominated bloggers so that they can accept the award.


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Getting the Most Out of Small-Space Workouts with Meghan Meredith

Today, I am SO excited to welcome my friend Meghan Meredith to the blog for a guest post. We’ve been cooking up this collaboration for a while, and it’s fun to finally share it with you!

Meghan and I went to high school together but never had a chance to meet, and we reconnected recently through some mutual friends and our common experiences working as creatives and solopreneurs (have I mentioned lately how much I love this social media and blogging community? because I do). Meghan is a personal trainer, health coach, and lover of all things dreamy and beautiful. I’m so impressed by Meghan’s commitment to helping women live fuller lives (you can read more about that over on her site, Home Body Soul), and just as impressed these past few weeks with the hard work she’s put into her latest project, Whole Body Fitness.

Yesterday, Meghan launched a Kickstarter campaign for this self-guided fitness planner, and I’m thrilled to be part of the launch team for the project. I’ve had a sneak peek of the finished product as Meghan’s copyeditor, and let me tell you, friends — it’s super cool. As a fitness lover myself, I’m genuinely excited to get my hands on a copy. It’s also really special to be able to support Meghan’s big dream, which has been such an investment in time and sweat equity for her. You go, girl! Meghan will share more about the planner in her post below, but trust me when I tell you that it’s awesome. We’d both love it if you could pop on over to Kickstarter and check out all the details (in particular, Meghan’s video, which features her cute dog Nusu in a starring role!).

In the meantime, Meghan’s here today with some thoughts on how to get the most out of your workouts when you (like me, and so many other people I know!) live in a small apartment or cozy little house. I can’t wait to implement some of these ideas in my own routine!

One last thing before I turn it over to Meghan — don’t forget to enter the October giveaway! This month, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Baublebar. All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post! The winner will be announced here on the blog on Monday 10/30, so get those entries in ASAP : )

When my husband and I moved to Los Angeles is 2015, we were shocked at the housing/rental market in this part of the country. Not only would we be spending more than twice the amount we spent in Atlanta for an apartment, but we’d also be sacrificing more than double the square footage of our previous home. We had to downsize from a 1200-square foot place in Atlanta to a roughly 600-square foot place in Los Angeles. Talk about a small space! 

Meghan, Apartement-1.jpg

Today, I am here to offer you some ways you can stay fit and exercise in your home, even if it’s a mere 600 square feet. Living in a small space doesn’t mean you have to compromise for small results in your fitness regimen.

You may be asking, “Do people work out at home, anyway?!” In fact, many do — myself included! While I have access to a gym, sometimes it’s nice to stay home and get in that 30 minutes without having to brave the Los Angeles traffic one more time. 

My Three Tips for Big Results in a Small Space

Tip 1: Bodyweight Exercises

Our own bodyweight is one of the best pieces of “equipment” for getting into shape — and it doesn’t take up any extra space in your home or apartment (huge perk when living in a small space!). Any time you are moving your own weight up and down and all around, you are burning mega-calories, toning, and strengthening your body! People often think they aren’t getting a good enough workout if they aren’t using gym equipment, but I am here to tell you that your body is one of the most forgotten, yet BEST pieces of equipment you have with you at all times to strengthen and tone your body.

In and Out Squat Jumps 2

Tip 2: Your furniture can serve multiple purposes.

If I am doing an at-home workout, I will often use my coffee table to do tricep dips or even incline push-ups. You can also use a chair to do side leg lifts, squats, plie squats, Bulgarian split squat lunges, and tricep dips — to name a few!

You might also consider swapping out your in-home office chair for a stability ball!

Tip 3: Space Saving Equipment

Living in tight spaces often means you have to be very discerning about what you buy, save, and how you store your belongings. Thankfully, there are plenty of space-efficient pieces of equipment that are easy to store.

  • Workout DVDs: There are SO many workout DVDs that require little to no equipment and can easily be done in the comfort of your own home. Any of Jillian Michaels’s DVDs are sure to kick your butt and give you the best sweat sesh you’ve had in a while!
  • Jumprope: Jumping rope isn’t just for elementary school kiddos! A jumprope is a serious fat-torching tool! Jumping rope as an adult can burn up to ten calories per minute, and it can also strengthen your glutes, calves, and arms.

Jump Rope

  • Yoga Mat: A yoga mat or non-slip fitness mat is a must-have for your at-home workout. Using a yoga mat will prevent you from sliding and falling while doing certain exercises. Plus, it’s much more comfortable to do floor exercises on a softer surface, which will buffer some of the noise of jumping around so you won’t disturb the neighbors! Roll up the mat and slide it next to your nightstand or under your bed for easy and quick storage.
  • Dumbbells: Dumbbells are a versatile piece of gym equipment that never get old. If you have the extra space, definitely invest in some free weights. Dumbbells are great for adding resistance to your routine to help you strengthen and tone more specific muscles groups. I love to order the HEX dumbbells from Amazon that come in a variety of weights. Amazon also has this set of neoprene dumbbells that are lighter and come with an organizing rack.

Me and DBs

  • Pull-Up/Chin-Up Bar/TRX Bands: Talk about a space-saving, efficient piece of at-home gym equipment. You can find pull-up/chin-up bars that hang from a doorway or mount directly to a wall. This piece of equipment takes up little space and allows for a multitude of upper body workouts. TRX bands are handy suspension training straps that can hang from a doorway, wall, or ceiling. While this piece of equipment is more costly, there are a plethora of workouts that you can do using this form of suspension training. TRX suspension training uses gravity as your resistance. Making an exercise easier or more difficult is as simple as adjusting your positioning and the straps. Check out the TRX website here.
  • Mini Stair Stepper: This little piece of equipment is so genius! You can get a low-impact cardio workout in the comfort of your own home without having to own a large piece of cardio equipment (such as a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike). The lightweight and portable mini stepper will help you tone and strengthen your lower body all while burning calories, raising your heart rate, and protecting your joints from harsh impact. You can use it at your standing desk, in front of the TV during your television show, or in front of the stove while you cook. Extra perk: it’s small enough to store under your desk or bed.
  • Resistance Bands: Resistance bands are a great tool to help you tone, strengthen, stretch, and even rehab injuries! Check out the branded resistance bands on my Kickstarter page, which come in three different sizes and resistance levels. 

Resistance Band Duck Walk

My Favorite Space-Saving Exercises 

  • Burpees
  • Push-Ups

Push-Up 1

Push-Up 2

  • Crunches
  • Planks

Side Plank Leg Lift

  • Jump Squats
  • Jumping Alternating Lunges

About Whole Body Fitness


Whole Body Fitness is the most unique and comprehensive fitness planner on the market! It truly is a one-of-a-kind product! Whole Body Fitness is a guide to stewarding your body well. It is a comprehensive six-month undated fitness and wellness planner. It offers daily guided workout routines that give you the flexibility to choose exercises that you enjoy and are suitable for your fitness level. It also allows you to get creative with your workouts and gives you ownership of your program and success through the professional guidance of a personal trainer and health coach.

I created this planner with the modern woman in mind, with a focus on flexibility, simplicity, and accessibility. When I started my personal training career in Los Angeles, I saw a great desire for women to work with a trainer. For most, scheduling and budget made this challenging. I knew I had to set out to create a product that made these services more accessible for every woman.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: Review the workout for the day.

Step 2: Write down how you feel before the day’s workout.

Step 3: Head to the Exercise Appendix in the back of the planner to choose appropriate exercises for that day’s workout. There are images in the appendix of the planner and videos on the Web site to help you learn correct form.

Step 4: Track your progress by writing down what exercises you choose, as well as the weight used and the numbers of sets and reps you complete.

Step 5: Note how you feel after your workout. 

Step 6: Celebrate and be proud of yourself for showing up and doing good for your body!

There are also goal checkpoints to assist in tracking and measuring your progress.

Whole Body Fitness will help you create a consistent and motivating system that works. By using this tool, you will have more time to do what matters most!

Photos via Bree McCool Photography, Danika Payton Photography, and Rebekah Lemire


october giveaway!

It’s super early on a Monday morning, but I don’t even mind because….

  1. It’s Matt’s birthday and even though it’s a workday for both of us, I get to celebrate him all. day. long.
  2. I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT LAST NIGHT! Without taking any of my trusty over-the-counter sleep meds. And without any weird dreams. And without waking up once.
  3. It’s time for the October giveaway!

I got such a great response to the Baublebar giveaway back in August that I’ve decided to bring it back for October. One lucky winner will be getting a $25 gift card to this awesome online boutique. Here are a few of my favorite pieces available on the site right now:

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Carisma Semi-Precious Pendant Necklace
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Starfire Druzy Tassel Earrings
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Wishbone Choker
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Celene Bangle Bracelet Set
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Celestrial Drops

So many fun options for the holidays, right? I’m really excited to share a $25 gift card with one of you so you can treat yourself to one of these items — or anything else you love on the site! And while I hope you use this gift card to treat yourself, it might also be a big help toward a gift for someone you love this holiday season : )

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! As always, I’d love to see you share this link with friends so that more people have a chance to win (and to check out the blog!). I run a giveaway every month, so you’ll have another shot at winning something fun very soon.

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Monday 10/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!


happy (early) birthday, matt!

Birthdays are a pretty big deal for me. Not so much my own lately, but everyone else’s. I love any excuse to celebrate something special on a random weekday, and birthdays always seem to be the best way to make that happen. Plus, they give me the chance to love on someone I care about a little extra and to take some time out of the normal routine to recognize (even in a small way) how important they are in my life.

Matt’s birthday is coming up on Monday, and I’m so excited about his birthday that I thought I’d get an extra jump on things and embarrass him just a tiny bit on the blog today. Plus, Monday is giveaway day (!!!!!), and he shouldn’t have to share the spotlight with the awesome October prize that I hope you’ll all enter to win : )

We’re not doing anything too crazy to celebrate — just a really special meal tomorrow and then whatever else he wants to do. Our big night taking a cooking class at a beautiful hotel in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge on the last evening of our big California trip was the major trick I had up my sleeve for this birthday, but we can still celebrate with some dedicated time together now that we’re back in Brooklyn.

Matt’s one of those cool cats who’s somehow managed to stay totally off the social media grid (though he does read this blog — hi, Matt!), so I don’t get to give him as many twenty-first century-style shoutouts as he deserves. (Also, we have a joke between the two of us in which Matt has been running a secret blog of his own for the past few years. HAH! Cracks me up every time.) Anyway, here goes:

Happy (almost!) birthday to my husband, my truest friend, and the one that’s become my partner in every adventure and mishap and victory. You teach me something new every day about how to take things in stride and look at things from a fresh perspective. You’re smart, driven, dependable, compassionate, patient beyond all reason, and you somehow manage to laugh at most of my jokes (which I know isn’t always easy). You’ve made our tiny little Brooklyn apartment feel like home and you’ve become an incredibly thoughtful and sensitive husband in this first year and a half. Thank you for supporting me in all the curveballs I’ve thrown you and for letting me clog up our DVR with all of my bad TV. Can’t wait to celebrate you this weekend and always! 


If you have some birthday wishes of your own for this awesome guy, feel free to add them in the comments below!

And don’t forget to hurry back on Monday for the October giveaway : ) You KNOW it’s going to be good.

Happy weekend, friends! For some weekend reading, check out my guest post over on FoodWaterShoes, where I share some of my favorite Brooklyn spots.


mill valley + more.

I’m back in New York and back in the swing of things (well, almost), and so happy to finally be taking the time to gather up the photos from the back end of our California trip and tell you more about what we did. I had every intention of sharing an update on our Mill Valley and Marin County adventures last week, but I was so busy enjoying the trip and keeping up with other work that it just didn’t happen. Sorry about that! Actually, though, I’m only kind of sorry, because it felt great to be a little extra intentional about staying in the moment and making good memories with Matt. Plus, now that I’m officially a few days removed from the trip, I can reflect on and appreciate it that much more.

I mentioned in the recap of our days in San Francisco and Monterey that we weren’t totally crazy about downtown SF and that we were craving the down time we hoped we would find once we left the city and got to Mill Valley, where we’d booked an Airbnb for ten days. If you haven’t heard of it (and I hadn’t before we planned this trip), Mill Valley is a great little town in Marin County, about 15 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Thanks to advice from my friend Angela who lives in the Bay Area, we chose Mill Valley as our home base for the bulk of our time in California because it seemed like it was accessible to a lot of the other places we wanted to check out while we were in the area. We also found this awesome Airbnb that was within walking distance of the actual town of Mill Valley — which has tons of bars and restaurants — and was at the base of some great walking trails. Seriously, everyone, if you ever decide to go to Mill Valley or Marin (and you’re going to want to after reading this post), I would highly, highly recommend this little bungalow. It was our first experience with Airbnb, but it was an excellent one. This place really made us feel at home!





I could go on forever about all of the great things we did, so I’ll try to choose a few highlights : )

Hiking Muir Woods: One of the things on Matt’s bucket list (which I didn’t know until recently!) was to see California’s redwood trees — and we got to see plenty on this hike! We explored the tourist area around Muir Woods, then hiked about seven miles on a winding series of trails. Luckily, we ran into a former park ranger near what we thought was the end of the trail, and he told us about a beautiful summit just 100 yards ahead. The hike would have been really fun even without that inside scoop, but the amazing view was definitely the cherry on top. We finished our day with burgers and shakes at Super Duper in Mill Valley. After a full day of hiking, I probably could have had three shakes! We did some other hiking and explored other trails in the Mill Valley area, but Muir Woods was definitely the best.






Stinson Beach: We specifically planned this as a non-beach trip, but you can’t go to California and spend all that time driving up and down the coast only to never park yourself on the sand for a while. One night, we packed up a beach bag, picked up a bottle of rosé (and a bag of marshmallows because, yum!), and drove to Stinson to read and watch the sun set over the ocean. As a lifelong East Coaster, I’m totally impressed by that west coast sun slowly dipping its way into the water. It’s magical!





Dinner with friends in Menlo Park: Angela and I (and Matt, too!) went to high school together, but we somehow managed to spend four yours in the same building without realizing that we were meant to be friends! We reconnected recently thanks to blogging and social media (check out her blog here), and when Matt and I decided to plan a trip to Northern California, Angela was a huge help in putting everything together. Thanks to her husband Kendrick, Angie moved out to the Bay Area a little over five years ago, and we really couldn’t have organized this adventure without her. I was so. happy. that we were able to connect in person during our visit. Angela and Kendrick invited us to their home in Menlo Park for dinner, and we had the best night catching up and meeting their ten-month-old, Gio! It’s so rare as an adult to meet people who you so automatically connect with (at least, it is for me), and I definitely felt that last week with the Ribeiros. It was a highlight of our trip and we’re so grateful to count this family among our friends.



Biking on Angel Island: We rented bikes in Tiburon and took the ferry to Angel Island, which is known to have some of the best views of the Bay Area. Matt and I love to bike, but we’re far from experts at it, and thanks to a combination of crummy rental bikes and unpaved roads, the biking portion of the trip wasn’t totally flawless — but the experience was totally worth the hiccups. Due to the horrible fires in wine country, the visibility wasn’t great, but we still got some amazing photos and loved taking in the whole San Francisco area from above.






Pasta Class at Cavallo Point Lodge: I knew I wanted to plan something special for Matt while we were in California to help kick off the celebrations for his birthday (he turns 28 on October 23!), but I’m the furthest thing from a good liar, so I was taking a big risk when I booked a cooking class for us on the last night of our trip, knowing that I’d have to keep the secret for two whole weeks while we were living in such close quarters. Somehow, I managed to play it totally cool, and on our final morning, I told him when we woke up that he would need to be ready to go somewhere by 5:30 that night. Little did I know that the place where I booked the class — the Cavallo Point Lodge — happened to be one of the most beautiful places we visited the whole time! The Lodge is a hotel located in Sausalito with an incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge and idyllic grounds. We got there early so I could surprise Matt in time to grab a drink and watch the sun set. After our drink, we went to our cooking class, which focused on filled pastas like ravioli and tortellini. We had so much fun! I wish I had more pictures, but we were so busy cooking (and then eating, duh), that I could barely grab my phone. This was seriously a night to remember, and if you live in the area or are planning to visit soon, I would definitely recommend stopping at Cavallo Point, even if it’s only for a drink.





Outside of these highlights, I could go on and on about all of the sweet little coffee shops we visited and delicious meals we had, but then I’ll be totally gushing, so I’m going to have to stop.

Because of the wildfires raging in Napa and Sonoma, we (unfortunately) didn’t get to see wine country, and our thoughts go out to all of the families affected by the disaster. Given the newfound appreciation we have for Northern California after this trip, we feel sadder than ever knowing that so many good people and so much beautiful land was hit so hard by the flames.

That’s a wrap on California, friends. Thanks so much, as always, for following our journey!