september giveaway winner announced!

Happy Friday, friends! I don’t know about you, but over here, it feels like this week has somehow managed to both drag on and onnnnn AND fly by so quickly that it seemed impossible to get anything done. Time is such a weird thing sometimes.

I’m so excited (as always!) to announce the winner of the September giveaway. Congratulations, DREW! You’re the winner of the Beautycounter Adaptive Moisturizer, and I just know you’re going to love it : ) I’ll reach out via email to make arrangements for you to get your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered this month! Beautycounter is an awesome brand, and I would definitely encourage you to check them out for all things skin care and beauty. Shop this link to learn more about all the products and to support our friend Alexa’s growing business.

Tomorrow morning, Matt and I are getting on a plane to kick off a two-week (!!!!!) working vacation on the west coast. Matt’s job requires him to take two consecutive weeks away from the office each year (it’s a regulatory rule in the finance industry), so we’re making the most of it this time around. I’m so grateful to be able to take my work with me so we can spend some real QT together. I’ll be keeping you posted on all of our travels right here starting next week.

Have a great weekend, friends!

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the new normal.

How did we already get to Tuesday? Birthday celebrations rolled on into the weekend (thanks to everyone for all of the well wishes!), and I feel like I’m just now coming down from all of the excitement…

My family came in on Saturday and I got to do one of my favorite things — show them around Brooklyn! Our borough is so chock full of amazing little corners and things to see, and I can’t help but feel like it’s a personal victory when I have a chance to let out-of-towners in on some local secrets. Saturday, we caught up over coffee on the patio at the bakery across the street from our apartment (which also happens to be my favorite work spot of late), then jumped in the car and went to Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood located right on the water that’s off the beaten path of the subway. Red Hook is known for its awesome views and yummy seafood, so we had a photo shoot (the barge in the photo below says LEHIGH VALLEY, which happens to be the area of Pennsylvania where we’re from!) and then celebrated my birthday at Brooklyn Crab over crab rolls and margaritas. No birthday is complete without dessert, of course, so we finished the day at Ample Hills Creamery with a scoop of cotton candy ice cream (for me, at least).

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Before the weekend, Matt won the Husband Of The Year award (as if he doesn’t do that practically every day, anyway!) and gifted me tickets to Hamilton for my birthday. I still can’t quite put into words what it meant to me. We are ob-sessed with the show and its soundtrack in our house, and I’ve been dreaming of going to see it for months. Sunday, we capped off my birthday weekend with a matinee, and it was even better than I expected. This show is quite literally the best thing I’ve ever seen (yes, generally the best thing), and I still can’t believe I got the chance to share it with this special guy. I’ll never forget it, and it was a great way to kick off my twenty-eighth (eek!) year.

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Something I’ve been thinking about over the last few weeks as I’ve rounded the corner on some big milestones — yes, my birthday, but also the one-year anniversary of launching this blog last September — is the concept of “the new normal.” It’s a phrase that we all hear pretty often, and one that I can personally cop to using maybe a little too much. Heading into year two of Finding Plan A, I’ve been imagining what the next chapter is going to look like for the space, and I just thought I’d share some of that with you.

When I started blogging last year, I was mostly focused on flexing my writing muscles again as I prepared to transition out of my corporate job into full-time freelancing. I thought it would be a good way to keep my friends and family in the loop about what was going on in my new life, and I hoped I might be able to help people understand why I’d decided to go my own way and what it had taken to get there (if I got there at all, because at that point, I had no idea what was going to happen!). While this space has definitely served those purposes, it’s also turned into a community that’s kind and gracious and vibrant and supportive — and one that I’m excited to continue growing moving forward.

I would never claim to be “done” with the transition just because I have a full calendar year under my belt now. I haven’t “found Plan A” (LOL). I’m not starting an entirely new chapter here on the blog simply because a certain period of time has passed. This journey is still in progress, and I would never pretend to be an expert or to give up on learning and reflecting.

You will, however, notice some changes around here now that I have 365 days in the books. While I’ll still be doing goal recaps (like this one), you’ll notice that I’m going to be phasing out more general monthly progress updates (like this one). I’ll take a moment to call out major milestones, but I’ve graduated beyond those more regular recaps, and I don’t want to bore you with the details of the constant inner monologue that happens in this overanalyzing brain of mine : ) Moving forward (not including this month), I’ll also be making changes to the procedures for giveaways — so be on the lookout for that!

In the meantime, I’ve mapped out what’s happening on the blog for the full month of October, and I’m really excited about the content you’re going to see in this newly normal phase. I’m itching to get started! We’re stepping it up over here, friends, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

… some things never change, though. Giveaways, for example, are always awesome.

Remember to enter for this month! September’s prize is my favorite skin care product EVER — Beautycounter‘s Adaptive Moisturizer. All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Friday 9/29, so get those entries in ASAP!

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september giveaway.

It’s that time again… GIVEAWAY TIME! And it falls on a Friday, which makes it even better, in my book. This weekend, we have some extended celebrations for my birthday on the schedule, which should be really fun. In the meantime, though, let’s get to the giveaway…

My friend Alexa was kind enough to partner with me again this month to gift one lucky winner one of our favorite products from Beautycounter. As you may remember from the last Beautycounter giveaway, Alexa and I were close friends in elementary school and reconnected through social media. In the last few months, she’s introduced me to the natural skin care and beauty line, and I’ve gradually been converting to all of the products. I loovvveeee them. As a reminder, here’s what Alexa says sets this brand apart from the rest:

I was introduced to Beautycounter in 2015 and loved the concept behind the company. It has an amazing mission; as an education based company, it seeks to inform people of the deregulated personal care industry and strives for reform through updated litigation. I was astounded to learn that the United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938! While this is extremely scary, the great news is that we as consumers do have safe options. Beautycounter takes the guess work out of deciphering ingredient lists. I am passionate about sharing safer beauty with friends, family, and everyone who is interested in protecting themselves from harmful chemicals. To me, Beautycounter is truly the third pillar to a healthy lifestyle, along with eating well/safe and working out. The best part is I don’t have to sacrifice amazingly effective skin care and gorgeous makeup for safety – Beautycounter provides it all in one!

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For September, we’ll be giving away the Adaptive Moisturizer, which is probably the best skin care product I’ve ever used. No joke! I use it every morning and it’s really helped brighten and balance out my face to the point where I rarely need to wear makeup. It’s lightweight, adapts to adjust hydration levels in your skin throughout the full day, and has a really light and beautiful scent. The fact that it’s so adaptive means that you can even wear it to the gym or to yoga class!

One of the best parts about the Beautycounter line, of course, is that it’s safe and natural. The Adaptive Moisturizer’s main ingredients are squalane from green olives, arginine from beetroot, and phytic acid from green rice. I love the product even more because its elements sound almost delicious!

All you have to do to enter to win a Beautycounter Adaptive Moisturizer of your own is COMMENT on this post! That’s it! 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 there are plenty of chances!

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Friday 9/29. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!

(Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that!)

You can check out the rest of Beautycounter’s offerings right here! Please be sure to shop that link so that we can support Alexa and the awesome business she’s building.

**As always, please note that I am giving my honest recommendations for this product. I’m receiving no compensation, and simply want to share items that have offered positive experiences for me!**

august giveaway winner announced!

Hello, everyone — and thanks to all who entered this month’s giveaway! Really, nothing makes me happier than reading the comments in all of your entries, and I just love waking up the morning I get to announce the winner. Who knew a random drawing could be so fun when you’re not even eligible to get a prize yourself???

Our winner this month is ALEX! Alex, I’ll reach out via email with your BaubleBar gift card. Congrats!

I’ll meet everyone back here on Friday : ) happy hump day!

the perfect chocolate chip banana bread.

Good morning, sunshines! First of all, I want to say a big, huge THANK YOU to all of you who reached out with love and encouragement after my last post. It’s empowering to be able to share difficult pieces of my story so honestly and to have others recognize and share in my experience. I try to keep in mind as much as possible that I’m never alone in my frustrations and insecurities, but it’s always nice to be reminded — so, thank you thank you THANK YOU.

After the weekend (plus all of your kindness), I’m reset and ready for what the next few days have in store. Matt and I were so happy to have some downtime here in Brooklyn. We spent a lot of hours holed up in our apartment napping and reading good books, and I decided to cap off the weekend by whipping up some banana bread. Baking has always been a stress reliever for me, and since we had a few bananas turning brown in the kitchen, banana bread seemed like the obvious thing.

I’ve been perfecting my banana bread recipe since my senior year in college. It’s based loosely on this recipe from Rachael Ray, but over the years, I’ve made several adjustments both to make it a bit healthier and to make it taste better : ) This banana bread has quite a history. When I started making it in college, my friends and roommates became pretty obsessed. They would deliberately over-buy bananas to give us (well, me) an opportunity to make it, and this very recipe got us through many breakups and tough study sessions. To this day, I rarely go visit a college friend without a batch in my bag! I still think it’s the perfect kinda, sorta healthy treat when I’m in need of a pick-me-up in my grown-up life, and after last week’s scaries, I’m happy to have it in my apartment to help kick off what I’m sure will be a much better week.

I can’t believe I’m releasing the full recipe into the world (I hope my friends still need me after this!), but here it is. You’re going to love it.

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The Perfect Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour — it’s the best gluten-free flour I’ve found!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (<– this is my secret!)
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.

Prepare a baking pan with non-stick spray (I use coconut oil spray). If you don’t have a loaf pan, you can use a shorter baking pan, instead! Back in college, we used to cut this up like brownies : )

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In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt (you really only need a quick shake of salt, do don’t bother measuring it out!).

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Mix in the oil, bananas, vanilla, and eggs.

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Stir in the chocolate chips (add nuts, if you’d like!).

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Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean, between 60 and 80 minutes. In my oven, 65-68 minutes is usually the sweet spot.

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Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and cool completely before you indulge!

I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this recipe as much as my loved ones and I do! Let me know what you think in the comments below if you decide to give it a try.

Remember to enter this months’ giveaway! The prize is a $25 gift card to BaubleBar! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Wednesday 8/30, so get those entries in ASAP!

 

real talk #3

We’re getting real this morning, friends, so let’s start with a real photo. Like, really real.

That’s what I looked like when I woke up today. My eyebrows look crazy. My forehead’s a little shiny. I’m wearing the same outfit I wore to work in the coffeeshop for all of yesterday afternoon (because even though I’m changing out of my pajamas the minute I wake up as part of my new-ish morning routine, there’s no rules yet about what happens when you’re so tired from a writing marathon that you just can’t bring yourself to change into a new athleisure look). My eyes are a little red and puffy because — and we’re getting real here — last night was an emotional one.

I said an official “see ya later!” to my sister Katie, who’s on her way to move in for her freshman year of college this morning. I’m so crazy proud of her. Look out, guys, because she’s really going to change lives as a music therapist one day.

Matt and I are dealing with a lot of change here in our home. He’s started studying for a few big tests for work, so our new nightly routine basically consists of having an hour together for dinner, then moving into separate rooms so he can stay totally focused while he works for the rest of the night. I’m so crazy proud of him, too. It’s not easy to become a student again. But since Matt’s not legally allowed to have his phone out at work (he works on the trading floor of a bank, so there are a lot of rules in place to prevent anything shady or illegal going on) and is out the door every morning at 6:30 when I am starting my workday, too, losing the precious time I usually have with him at night has been a rude awakening. Working from home is great, but it can feel isolating sometimes, which is just a little more difficult now that my nights are also more isolated.

Add all this to the fact that I’m experiencing what I can only believe are typical “I’ve-been-working-for-myself-for-almost-a-full-year-now-and-I’m-just-now-stopping-to-catch-my-breath” growing pains, and you wake up with a puffy face like the one you see above.

This week, I’ve been questioning myself more than I have in a long, long time. Not questioning the decision I made last year to take on this whole writing journey, but questioning the little decisions I make each and every day. As my fellow WFH-ers, freelancers, and other boss ladies know, there’s no rulebook for this. There’s no one here to tell me whether or not I’m doing things “right” or to tell me that I’m doing a good job. And as I transition out of the summer chaos into a calmer season that allows me a lot more time to work and grow my business, I’m finding myself feeling a lot more anxious about these things. Am I working at the right times? Am I working too much? Am I working enough? Am I spending the right amount of time developing new relationships versus writing for the clients I already have? Am I doing a good job with my book? Will I ever be able to get an agent? Am I giving myself the time I need to recharge? Do I even need that time? Do I deserve it? Am I where I should be? Are people taking what I do seriously? If not, why not?

Friends, was this my first self-employed meltdown? I don’t know. Maybe.

The good news is that I think I’m through the worst of it. All of these insecurities had been bubbling beneath the surface this week, and last night I finally got the chance to talk to Matt about it. He took the night off from studying (because he’s brilliant and the nicest), and listened to me ask myself all of those questions as I went through no less than nine soggy, disgusting tissues. He reminded me of how far I’ve come from when I started all of this last September. He told me it’s OK to take a step back every once in a while instead of always feeling like I have to hustle, hustle, hustle and move forward, forward, forward. The guy knows what he’s talking about, and he understands me so well that it scares me sometimes.

If you’re feeling insecure or anxious or just totally freaked out, remember that you’re not the only one. Life and work are not always easy, no matter how you choose to do them. Change and growth, in particular, are really. stinkin’. hard. So if you’ve had a week like mine (can we just blame it on mercury in retrograde?), you better go out and get yourself a glass of wine or an ice cream sundae (or both!) tonight. We’ll regroup after the weekend.

***AND FOR AN ADDED PICK-ME-UP…

…don’t forget to enter this months’ giveaway! The prize is a $25 gift card to BaubleBar! All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner on Wednesday 8/30, so get those entries in ASAP!

august giveaway!

Good morning, friends! I’m just over here doing a casual 7 AM happy dance because it’s one of my favorite days of the month… GIVEAWAY DAY! Monthly giveaways here on the blog make me feel a little like the tooth fairy, or maybe some other kind of fairy that just hands out little treats every now and then to make people feel special : ) I was pretty in love with fairies when I was a kid, so this is a big deal for me.

This month, one lucky winner will be getting a $25 gift card to Baublebar! Every time I’ve complimented a friend on a fun new accessory over the past few weeks, they’ve inevitably told me they purchased it from Baublebar, so it seemed totally fitting to share a little love from the site with you this month. I’ve been obsessing over their selection recently. Here are a few of my favorite pieces available right now!

 

I’m so 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!

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, Wednesday 8/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!