personal

why i’m joining the wing.

In order to fill in the blanks in the title of this post, we need go back a few months — and we (well, just me, I guess) need to get pretty honest

I’ve never been that excited about leaving New York City. There, I said it.

I had moments when I first moved here right out of college when the city felt pretty miserable. I hated the subway and the crowds in midtown. I hated when people plowed me down, umbrella-first as they rushed along the sidewalk in the rain. I hated that it sometimes took me 30 minutes to travel less than a mile in a taxi late at night, a taxi that I knew I was only having to pay for because I had chosen to live in a place that I’d been made to believe was perpetually unsafe after 8 PM. I hated all of that.

When we moved to Brooklyn, I found my groove again. As a kid, I’d always dreamed of moving to New York, and finding our little niche here in Cobble Hill finally made me feel like I was the kind of city girl that I’d always wanted to be. Almost immediately, I felt more like myself, and even though I understood that there were realities of living in this city that would make it challenging to do it forever, I pretty much forgot about them.

Matt’s experience was the opposite of mine. He hadn’t grown up with aspirations of moving to a big city (he grew up in a neighborhood with woods and a stream and spent the vast majority of his free time on the soccer field or fly fishing), but when his job led him here, he embraced it pretty quickly. While I was sobbing over subway claustrophobia and stressing about my rent, he was living for New York. He loved the restaurants and the ability to walk everywhere, and since most of his friends moved here after graduation, he had a busy social life immediately. It’s only been in the last year that he’s expressed interest in leaving, and only in the last few months that it’s become a more serious conversation.

The idea of moving away started to get real back in October, when we spent two weeks traveling around northern California. Picking up and moving our lives across the country never seemed like a real option for us since so much of our community is here on the east coast, but our vacation definitely opened our eyes to the possibilities that could await us in other places. I could feel the difference in terms of quality life between New York and the Bay Area, and I found myself growing more receptive to Matt’s comments about life beyond Brooklyn.

Matt didn’t want to start seriously thinking about the move until March, so we kind of sat in that maybe-we-will-maybe-we-won’t mindset for a few months. I’m not great at being in limbo, so this was hard for me… but life basically resumed as normal. Fast forward to March of this year, when things became more challenging.

**Insert movie-style fast forward music here…**

Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that Matt isn’t asking me to do anything I don’t want to do with this move. Ultimately, if I was fully committed to staying, we wouldn’t be leaving. I have a lot of mixed feelings about moving on from this amazing chapter of our lives, but I also understand that long-term, it’s going to be nearly impossible for us to live the kind of life we want to live here in New York City. It’s a hard reality to accept, but it’s reality. Honestly, I would rather choose to leave now, on our own terms, then a few years down the line when we realize too late that we’ve become uncomfortable in our own lives.

Here’s where it gets tricky: Because Matt’s job is more place-bound than mine, it’s naturally fallen to him to set the pace of this move, so there were days early on when it felt to me like he had all of the control and I had none. Honestly, there are days when I still feel like this, but I’ve learned that all of this is a lot easier to swallow when I realize that my husband is almost as powerless. The mindset needs to be that it’s us against the world — not Alli against Matt. I can express that clearly now, but it was pretty much an emotional roller coaster getting there. Just ask my girlfriends.

I’ve said since October that I was going to continue to live my life in New York as normally as possible, and that I wasn’t going to get too mentally tied up on when we’d pick up and move. For the most part, I think I did this successfully. I planned for the holidays and saw friends and continued to clean my apartment within an inch of its life. It felt like business as usual.

Where I struggled most to keep on keeping on was in my work. While I will be able to continue with most of my existing freelance work in a new city, there are some changes I’ve been wanting to make to my workload that I’m not comfortable making until we move. I’m excited about the chance to do a little professional pivoting and explore new opportunities, but I’m hesitant to do that now. I’d rather make all the transitions at one time. I started to feel really uncomfortable with my lack of control in a situation that was really affecting my work, and there were days that it made me resentful. Sometimes, it felt like I was just kind of standing still, like the only thing that was actually changing for me was that I was burying myself under more and more work.

One of my best friends started working for The Wing a few months ago, and from the beginning, I was fascinated by it. To quote the Web site, The Wing is a “co-working and community designed for women.” It now has three locations here in New York City and is already growing to other cities. Girl power, people. I went to a few events with friends there, but never really considered becoming a member myself, because I was so aware that my time in NYC was ticking. I borrowed some photos of the Brooklyn location from this article in Artnet News so you can see how lovely and inspiring it is.

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When I got back from the Ignite Your Soul Summit a few weeks ago, I was feeling ready to invest back into myself and my work, and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I’ve always had a bit of a scarcity mentality around money, and I’ve been nervous to spend since I started freelancing, even though I’m now earning as much (sometimes more) as I was in my corporate job. Chris Harder, who spoke at the Summit, really inspired me to think about money in a different way, and to allow myself to celebrate my work by putting the resources I’ve earned back into the “system” so it can ultimately come back to me and empower me to do great things.

I happened to be meeting my friend for breakfast at The Wing the morning after I got back from the Summit, and as I was walking to the Brooklyn location, it hit me:

This is the thing I need to do.

It hit me again when I was sitting in the beautiful waterfront workspace, surrounded by brilliant, independent women doing interesting work and moving forward with their passion projects. It hit me again when the woman at the next table came over and asked me about my planner (you know how I feel about my planner). It hit me again when I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I returned to my home office later that day.

I talked it over with Matt and submitted my membership application the next morning. A few hours later, I learned that I’d been accepted. When we want to, we can work really fast over here.

To be totally fair, I wouldn’t have made the financial commitment to The Wing if they weren’t expanding, and if I didn’t think there might be a chance that I could transition my membership to another location when we do leave New York City. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a consideration. I’m happy to be investing in myself, but I’ve hardly thrown all caution to the wind.

In the meantime, I have a sneaky suspicion that making this decision for myself is going to be one of the best things I’ve done in the last year or so. Realizing that this kind of community is available for me — down the street, essentially — was a big wake-up call in a time when I’ve felt largely out of control. It’s empowered me to reengage with parts of my life that I’ve kept at arm’s length ever since we started talking about moving away. It’s reminded me that I have a lot to accomplish and create in this transition period, and that I have every right to accomplish it outside of the confines of the home office that I’m now realizing I outgrew a few months ago.

My first day as an official member is Tuesday, and I am literally counting the days until I can spend my time in the beautiful work space in the company of so many incredible women. Making this choice has totally changed my perspective on things, and I can’t wait to see how it serves me as I continue navigating big changes in work and life.

Basically, Wing, I’m really happy you exist. 

Happy weekend-ing, friends. More Wing cheerleading to come, I’m sure.

How do you cope when you’re feeling like you’re in a rut? Tell me in the comments below!

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a day off.

For the last two months (check out my February and March posts for proof!), I’ve been prioritizing a day off. Not just a Friday afternoon that frees up by default because we have to drive somewhere or a holiday like Christmas day when everyone has off. A real day off — the kind I used to take when I worked a corporate job that usually involved little more than binge watching the Real Housewives and getting a manicure. Putting this kind of day for myself on the schedule didn’t pan out for the first few months of the year for a variety of reasons, but about two weeks ago, I glanced at the calendar and realized that last Friday looked promisingly free. I immediately blocked out the day in my planner and started thinking about ways to keep it free. I got weirdly protective of Friday the 13th. It was all I could think about.

So, yeah, I guess you could say I really needed a day off.

I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to put on the brakes and step out of the work routine for a day — let alone a week! — but I’ve found it even more challenging to do so since I started freelancing. There’s no one else who can serve as my email back-up, no reliable colleague who can handle any surprises in my absence. Plus, since so much of my workflow now revolves around rolling deadlines, I almost had to pull back on commitments for the whole week leading up to my day off, simply to ensure that there wouldn’t be a last-minute Friday deadline added to my calendar and that I didn’t leave anyone hanging on emails about big new projects! As a result, I ended up with a slightly calmer week, which was just what I needed. It’s nice to be reminded of what it feels like to work an eight- or nine-hour day (instead of a twelve-hour one) and to realize that, even if you bring in a little less money than usual for a week or two, there will still be plenty of opportunities waiting for you when you get back.

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Somehow, I lucked out and ended up with the best weather day of the year for my day off, which was the cherry on top of an already perfect sundae. I tucked away my winter coat and broke out the denim jacket I bought when we were in Charlotte a few weeks ago and pulled out my favorite sandals from the back of the closet. Here’s how I spent the day off…

  • I stayed in bed until 8 AM — which is pretty late for me, even on the weekend — watching old episodes of Trading SpacesI’m so glad they brought this childhood favorite of mine back to TLC, and as fun as the reboot is, having access to the classic shows might be the best part.
  • An unhurried workout! It’s nice to have a little extra time to play with at the gym.
  • A stop at Books Are Magic, the independent bookstore here on my block that I mentioned in last week’s Brooklyn-themed Gratitude Diaries. I picked up copies of Text Me When You Get Home (the next pick for my book club!) and The Female Persuasion, written by one of my all-time favorite authors Meg Wolitzer. Both books were signed, which makes them that much more special.
  • As soon as I officially decided to take a day off a few weeks ago, I booked myself a massage at Element Healing Arts here in Brooklyn. At this point in the half marathon training process (more on that later this week!), my body is never very happy with me, so it was nice to have some of my knots worked out… though I was pretty sore after!
  • I treated myself to a makeup facelift at Sephora. As I’ve started prioritizing taking better care of my skin, I’m also trying to test out different kinds of makeup. Since I work from home, I don’t put on a full face of makeup every day, which has given me some wiggle room to spend a little more money on higher-quality products. My favorite buys? The Anastasia Brow Wiz (how have I not been using a brow pencil for all these years???) and the Smashbox Be Legendary lipstick in Pretty Social. With springtime almost in full swing, I wanted to treat myself to some new goodies so I can feel totally confident and fresh.
  • met Matt near his office in Bryant Park and we went to grab a drink with a friend at a patio bar in Midtown Manhattan. From there, we got a bite to eat at the Urbanspace food hall and finished the night with some spontaneous McFlurries on the steps of the New York Public Library.

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Start to finish, it was a pretty perfect day.

I’m not usually one to love shopping or pampering myself, but when I do, I go big… in case you couldn’t tell from that list : )

The biggest lesson I learned from this day off is that email has far too much power over my time and mental health. I knew that in order to really appreciate some free time, I would need to ignore my inbox, but I took the extra step of deleting the Gmail app from my phone entirely. I didn’t reinstall it until Sunday afternoon, and I can’t tell you how big of a difference it made. Now that I know how great it feels not to be so tied to my email 24/7, I’m going to try to make more of an effort to avoid obsessively checking it on my phone whenever I have a free minute. It’s all about phone boundaries, right?

What does your perfect day off look like? Tell me more in the comments below!

Finally, if you have a small business or side hustle that deserves a little love for press and podcasts (or know someone who does!), check out this deal that Brittney and I are running for our complete Partnering for Press series! Through tomorrow, we’re offering 25% off, which grants you lifetime access to all of the highly informative free webinars we’ve been running over the past few weeks, as well as an invitation to an even more comprehensive live session tomorrow night. You’ll also get a set of customizable tools that you can use to pitch your own business to the press so you can increase your reach and revenue! Click here for all the details — and to register! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

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gratitude diaries: brooklyn edition.

This week is a special one around here, because yesterday marked a whopping three years since Matt and I made this cozy little corner of Brooklyn our official home.

If you’re reading this from the house you’ve owned for more than a decade, I understand that this seems insignificant, but it’s a pretty big deal for us. My fellow New Yorkers know how rare it is to find an apartment that you want to stick with for longer than a single lease term — but beyond that, even the math speaks for itself. Matt and I aren’t 30 yet (though Matt’s a whole year closer to it than I am!), so we’ve lived here for more than 10 percent of our lives. That’s a pretty big chunk! Growing up, we also did some moving around, which gives me an even greater appreciation for the roots that I’ve grown here in Brooklyn.

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Getting ready for pizza and wine on the first night in our first home together.

This milestone also has a bittersweet element this year, since it’s very likely the last one we’ll celebrate in New York City. As you may know, Matt and I are in the early stages of exploring a move to another city (don’t worry — more on that soon), and while a new beginning brings some exciting (and scary) new promises, it also means the end of a chapter that I can only describe as amazing. There will be plenty of time for me to get sentimental about this — and trust me, I will — but for now, all I can say is that I’m extremely grateful for the three years we’ve had and the thousands of memories we’ve made here in Brooklyn. With that in mind, I thought today would be the perfect day for a special edition of Gratitude Diaries, dedicated to my beautiful borough.

Here are just a few of the things I’m grateful for in Brooklyn, especially my Cobble Hill neighborhood:

  • Our local bookstore, Books Are MagicIndependent bookstores are (very sadly) a dying breed, and we’re lucky to have gotten a special one right here on my street last year. I’m so grateful to be able to take a casual stroll over to Books Are Mag, where I can always find something to buy, even if I don’t technically “need” it.
  • The dozens of restaurant patios where you can sit and enjoy drinks and snacks (when the weather is actually good, of course). I could go on and on about the restaurant scene here in Brooklyn, in general, but something that especially struck us when we left Manhattan and started life here was the availability of outdoor space! If you don’t live in New York City, this might not seem like a big deal, but it’s been a game changer for us. We love wandering the streets of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, and Park Slope in the spring and summer, finding the perfect patio where we can set up shop for a few hours.
  • It’s so easy to get around! City living is at turns wildly accessible and incredibly inconvenient, but this neighborhood in particular has been a great home base for exploring so much of New York. We’re walkable to so many awesome nooks and crannies of Brooklyn, but our location on the greater NYC transit system also makes it easy for us to get into Manhattan within just a few minutes! There are plenty of moments when I miss having the ability to jump in the car and drive anywhere, anytime, but it’s also hard to imagine not being able to walk or subway
  • We don’t have a dog — yet — but as a serious dog lover, I really appreciate living in such a dog-friendly neighborhood. Pups of all shapes and sizes are a part of pretty much everything in our area —they’re sitting outside at bars and browsing through shops with their owners and snacking on the treats that a lot of storeowners leave in a dish outside. It makes this whole city living thing feel warmer and fuzzier.
  • I know it sounds a little nerdy, especially since I’m no architecture buff, but I just love the look of our little neighborhood. The buildings are older and have so much character, and while I can occasionally catch a glimpse of a more traditional, modern “skyline,” I think the mix of old and new that we have in the architecture around here is really unique.
  • Summertime. If you’ve never had a summer in New York, you need to at least plan a day trip over the next few months so you can get a taste of it. It’s absolutely magical! Summer is a special time of year no matter where you live, but I’ve grown partial to the New York kind over the last few years : )
  • Our favorite local ice creamery, Ample Hills — which is one of my favorite parts of a Brooklyn summer! The location that’s closest to us in Gowanus even has a roof deck, which makes an ice cream date feel a little extra sparkly.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll save the rest. I’m going to get sappy if I go further!

In the meantime, I know I’ve made a lot of attempts to capture this special place with my phone camera, but I don’t think I quite do it justice. Check out these fun Brooklyn photos I found via Unsplash! So cool, right?

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Photo by Carl Solder on Unsplash

 

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Photo by Jason McCann on Unsplash
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Photo by Jahsie Ault on Unsplash
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Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash
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Photo by David Cruz on Unsplash
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Enter a captionPhoto by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

What are you most grateful for where you live? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below!

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weekend in charlotte.

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great weekend and that your week is off to a great start, too. We’ve been back from our little southern getaway for a few days now, and I’m excited to share some of the details!

First of all, if you’re planning a trip to Charlotte any time soon, I would highly recommend the Airbnb we stayed in. It was walkable to lots of bars and restaurants (although we learned that most people don’t walk as many places as New Yorkers do — oops!) and a 15-minute-or-less drive to pretty much anywhere else we wanted to go, from the center of the city to cool neighborhoods like NoDa (my personal favorite). Honestly, the space was more than we knew what to do with — we had two bedrooms and two bathrooms — but since we’re used to living in such a small apartment, getting to spread out a little bit was really part of the vacation! You could easily fit six or eight people in this Airbnb, and Matt and I agreed that if you have plans to visit Charlotte for a football game or something similar, it would be absolutely perfect, especially since it had an awesome front porch that would be great for a little pre-game beer and snacks : )

We snapped this pic in the living room of our Airbnb, actually! I’d hoped for more photo ops during our visit and that didn’t quite pan out, so I insisted on a selfie before our last dinner out.

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Here are a few more highlights of our trip!

(Fair Warning: Most of them involve food. Hey — we were just trying to get a feel for the culture of the city! And isn’t food love in the south?)

  • Driving through the Dilworth neighborhood and eyeing up all the beautiful old houses from the car. It’s basically everything you ever imagined that a beautiful Southern city could offer.
  • Exploring NoDa and brunch at the Crepe CellarNoDa was the closest thing to Brooklyn that I saw while we were visiting Charlotte — funky artists selling their work on the sidewalks, cool paintings on the building facades, funky stores, and cool bars. A friend recommended Crepe Cellar to us for brunch and the four cheese savory crepe I had there may have been my favorite bite of the trip. We also stopped by Amélie’s French Bakery & Cafe to get Matt his coffee fix — another suggestion from a friend!
  • Reading and relaxing in Freedom Park. So much of what we enjoyed about our weekend getaway was the weather. After a long few months of cold temperatures here in New York City, it was such a treat to enjoy a little sunshine and 75-degree air! We grabbed our books and spent a few hours on a bench reading.
  • A night out in downtown Charlotte, starting with dinner at Sea LevelWe ate dinner outside (did I mention that warm weather?) and tried oyster shooters for the first time (yum!). After that, we took a little field trip to the Howl at the Moon piano bar because we thought it would be fun to listen to some live music, and we got way more than we bargained for. If you follow my Instagram Stories you know exactly what I’m talking about… there was a banana-themed citywide bar crawl happening all across town, and we spent the evening watching hundreds of people in banana suits belting out the oldies on stage. It was amazing.
  • Breakfast at Sunflour Baking CompanyThe multigrain bread I ordered with my breakfast sandwich was quite possibly the best bread I’ve ever tasted. And Matt is still talking about the fact that he didn’t get to go back here to try a chocolate chip cookie!
  • Checking out the U.S. National Whitewater CenterGiven the timing of our visit, I’m not sure that we saw this landmark at its best, but I can imagine that it would be an awesome place to explore in the late spring and early summer. You can buy a day pass and have free reign of all of their adventure activities and ropes courses, and they also have a beer garden smack in the middle of it all.
  • Getting a great deal on a denim jacket at the Gap outlet store. I don’t usually like to shop on vacation, but we had some rain on Sunday afternoon and decided to check out the Charlotte Premium Outlets on our way back from the Whitewater Center. By the end of last summer, I’d more or less worn out my trusty old denim jacket, and I found a new one for $40.
  • A feast on our final night! I had one of the best Italian meals of my entire life at Fiamma restaurant (hands down!) and we — of course— made an ice cream stop at Golden Cow Creamery. Did you really think we’d last a weekend in another city without checking out the ice cream scene?
  • Trying the steamed bagel sandwiches at Owen’s Bagel & DeliI have a blog reader to thank for this one (thanks, Victoria!). I can’t quite explain why these steamed sandwiches were so much different than other bagel sammies I’ve had in the past… but they were really different and really good.
  • Getting through the Charlotte airport so. fast. I know this sounds a little silly, but I can’t say enough about how easy it was to travel through this airport. At the last minute, we decided to switch our tickets onto an earlier flight, and we made it from the rental car dropoff through to our gate in 25 minutes flat.

Thanks for letting me share the highlights of our trip with you!

One more thing…

Don’t forget to enter the February giveaway! This month’s winner will take home a $30 gift card to Barnes & NobleAll you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post (linked here!). I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner this coming Friday 3/2, so don’t miss your chance to enter ASAP!

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gratitude diaries #9.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I typically don’t like to wait until Hump Day to make an appearance in this special space, but after a round of what I thought might be the flu over the weekend (don’t worry! false alarm!) and the quasi-day off that followed as I recovered and had Matt home with me for President’s Day, I’m feeling ever so slightly off my normal schedule right about now.

We’re also just 48 hours away from our weekend trip to Charlotte! I haven’t really spent any time there (except in the airport, of course), so if you have any recommendations for things to see and do, please feel free to share them in the comments below. We don’t have a lot of plans at the moment, and if it stays that way, I might not even mind! I’m just looking forward to exploring a new city, enjoying some warmer weather (and the spring wardrobe that comes with it!), having some good meals, and getting in some quality time with Matt. Charlotte is such an easy and inexpensive flight from New York City, so it’s the perfect destination for a mini getaway to help us get through this last stretch of winter. I’ll definitely be documenting our adventures on Instagram, and I’ll be excited to share some photos of our trip when I get back, too!

In the meantime, I think I’m a little overdue for a quick round of Gratitude Diaries (check out my last entry here). Here are a few things I’ve been especially thankful for these days:

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  • The Olympics, because I never get tired of watching skiing and snowboarding and figure skating (especially figure skating). I was particularly grateful for the Games this past weekend when I was feeling too crummy to read or leave the couch.
  • Warmer weather, because even though I’m pretty sure that the crazy jumps in temperature are to blame for my being sick in the first place, it’s pretty amazing to be able to leave the apartment without my heavy coat even for one day. Don’t worry, fellow Northeasterners — I’m fully prepared for the inevitable cold front to come and am under no illusions that spring is actually here for good.

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  • The “Here to Make Friends” podcast, because it’s making this already hilarious season of The Bachelor that much more hilarious… and is also great company for riding the subway.
  • Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread, because, well, just buy it. And eat it by the spoonful for dessert. And get back to me.
  • Running, because for the first time in a few years, I’m feeling really healthy as I finish up the first few weeks of my training program for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and it’s a great reminder of why I love doing it in the first place. It doesn’t hurt that I’m binge watching The O.C while I’m on the treadmill, but that’s neither here nor there.
  • Wonton soup, because it’s the ultimate fix for any sickness. On Saturday, I ordered two quarts from our local Chinese restaurant, and it lasted me through the rest of the weekend.
  • Haircuts, because even if you only get a trim (and I was seriously tempted to do a major chop last week), it can sometimes be exactly the ego boost you need! If you live in New York City, I totally recommend Jade at Sam Brocato Salon. She really talked me through a hair identity crisis last week, and she did an awesome job, too.

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  • Quiet time at night, because ever since Matt started doing work at home in the evenings, we’ve been forced to turn off the TV (except, occasionally, the Olympics) after dinner, and I’ve loved all the extra reading time! I’ve been blowing through books recently.

What are you grateful for lately? I’d love to hear more in the comments below : )

And be sure to come right back here on Friday to enter the February giveaway! I’d hate for you to miss out! 

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happy valentine’s day!

Today is Matt and my ninth Valentine’s Day together. Ninth.

I’m really not quite sure how that happened.

Like most couples, I think, we aren’t always on the same page about how to celebrate this one. There have been years when one or both of us has been really excited about the occasion and other years when we’ve agreed to basically skip it. More than other holidays, Valentine’s Day has the potential to breed disappointment (we’ve all been there), and Matt and I have learned the hard way that it’s best to have a casual conversation upfront about how “into it” we want to get from year to year. Most of the time, we don’t do presents, but every once in a while, we’ll forego Christmas gifts and make a bigger deal of Valentine’s Day instead. Most years, we stay in for a casual date night, but last year, Matt took me out for the best dinner of my life at an amazing sushi restaurant (fifteen courses of my favorite food in the world). One thing we always prioritize is cards. February 14 is, of course, a card-giving holiday for most people, but cards are generally a pretty big deal in our house, so regardless of what else we’re doing to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, we commit to thoughtful, handwritten cards. I’m already counting the minutes until the end of the workday so we can do this year’s exchange.

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We’ve had some amazing celebrations over the years, but our first one was actually the best. I was visiting Matt at his college for the weekend, and because we were dating long distance and had only been together for a few months, I didn’t quite know what to expect. At some point in a text or phone conversation, though, Matt must have picked up on me saying that I was craving a brownie sundae… and he delivered on it for Valentine’s Day! I have such a clear memory of watching him unload gallons of ice cream and a box of brownie mix and all of the other necessary sundae fixings (sprinkles, of course!) from the kitchen of his grubby dorm kitchen. He was so shy about the whole thing, and it meant so much to me. Last year, we started a new tradition of eating big sundaes for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and I love that it’s going to help us keep that early memory alive.

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Because I’m already sappy — and because I know for a fact that I don’t always give Matt the credit he deserves for being the best husband I could ask for — I decided to put together a list of nine things I love and appreciate about him, one for each of the years that we’ve celebrated this holiday together.

1. His patience: Patience is definitely not one of my better qualities, which gives me that much more respect for my husband’s ability to take things as they come. He’s patient with me (major blessing!) and with basically everything else that life has to offer, which sets a really healthy tone for our home and relationship.

2. His confidence: There’s something about it that I just can’t put my finger on : )

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3. His easygoing nature: If I could only tell you how much better of a person I’ve become thanks to this. Matt’s inspired me to live my life with less judgment, less drama, and less unnecessary stress. I have endless appreciation for the fact that this comes so naturally to him.

4. His silliness: I’ve especially loved learning about Matt’s goofy side over the years because, for as long as we were students at the same middle and high school, I only ever knew and saw him as a “cool guy.” The moments that we share cracking each other up with hilarious inside jokes or exhaustedly dancing to Fleetwood Mac in our apartment are to this day a reminder that you can never judge a book by its cover.

5. His ambition: In our house, we play hard, relax hard, and work hard. Matt’s laidback temperament definitely doesn’t keep him from dialing up the intensity when the time is right, and I love watching him succeed at the things he’s passionate about.

6. His integrity: Matt’s about as true to his word and to who he is as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s taught me a lot about the value of relying on my own sense of right and wrong instead of worrying about what other people think.

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7. His reliability: When he says he’s going to do something, my husband does it. It’s taken me a long time to realize that he doesn’t always need to do things my way, but coming to that realization has made space for me to really appreciate how much he can be counted on to stay true to his word.

8. His curiosity: Matt is super smart, but what I think separates him most from other smartypants-es out there is his inherent love for learning. I joke about how his obsession for research can slow down our takeout ordering time or make our vacations a little less spontaneous, but it’s really cool to be with someone who enjoys asking questions and is never bored of exploring new things.

9. His kindness: I swear, friends, that there is not a mean or selfish bone in this man’s body. I love him for that.

Now that I’ve sufficiently embarrassed my husband, I guess all that’s left to do is wish you and yours a fantastic Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re single, attached, or somewhere in between, I hope you have plenty of opportunities to celebrate love today.

xoxoxo 

 

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hi! some random facts.

Happy Hump Day, everyone! I know Wednesdays can be a big bummer for a lot of people, but I have verrrrry strong anti-Tuesday feelings, so I usually feel like I’ve beat my weekday nemesis by the time I get to this point. (But also, why do short weeks always feel so. much. miserably. longer than regular weeks? I worked for a few hours on Monday, but Matt’s office was closed for MLK Day, and having the extra day with him around was the best — even if I did have to spend some of it at my desk.)

In any case, we’re quickly nearing the halfway point for the week, so if this one has you drained, it’s almost time to refuel so you can start again and maybe — just maybe! — get yourself out of that constant countdown-to-the-weekend mode. We’ve all been there (I, for one, was most definitely there last week), but it’s not a requirement! There are, in fact, things to live for between Monday and Friday : )

I’ve noticed that we have a few new readers over here, so…

Hi! So happy to meet you!

With a new year and some new followers, it seems like the perfect time for me to reintroduce myself with some random facts (and you can click here for all the basics, too).

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1. I hate clutter and love hunting around the apartment for things we can donate or throw away, but I keep every single greeting card, Christmas card, birthday card, thank you card, and random note I receive — even if it’s just scribbled on the back of an envelope or on a Post-It. Honestly, I’ve lost track of all the nooks and crannies I’ve found to stash them in around here.

2. My first “real” job was on the prep line at Cosi at a shopping center in my hometown. It was brand new at the time and no one in the area had heard of Cosi, so it was a very cool gig (at least until I almost got fired on more than one occasion for snacking on craisins from the salad line).

3. I can sing along to the full soundtrack of a lot of classic Broadway shows and movie musicals. Like, a lot of them. Without even missing a word.

4. When I make cookies, it’s mostly so I can snack on the dough. I don’t even really like baked cookies! I know raw dough isn’t good for me, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. It’s the ultimate indulgence.

5. Three episodes in, I’m already pretty sure that the current season of The Bachelor is going to be terrible. I’m happy to discuss this further with anyone who disagrees.

6. I made every last centerpiece and program for our wedding by hand. So if you ever need someone to hot glue thousands of glass beads to Mason jars or to hand stamp and tie ribbons onto 150 pieces of card stock, I’m your girl!

7. I don’t have a single game app on my phone.

8. I hate all things orange-flavored: juice, lollipops, the fruit itself, you name it… but I love me a mimosa. Go figure!

9. The first blog I ever read was Love Taza. I read through the archives start to finish during a nasty sinus infection back in 2012, and immediately fell in love with Naomi’s city lifestyle and love for colorful lipstick (she inspired me to try to wear it myself!). As she’s moved more into the parenting space recently, I’ve become a less diligent follower, but as far as I’m concerned, she can still do no wrong.

10. I’m currently binge watching The Mindy Project and my only regret is that it’s taken me so long to get into it. Any other Mindy fans out there? It’s the best!

Your turn! Feel free to share a random, fun, or simply awesome fact about yourself in the comments below. (As you can tell from my facts, no tidbit is too big or too small!)

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2017 in review.

Hi, friends! I hope you’re having a great week!

Both the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall in such a weird way this year, but I hope that — whether you celebrated Christmas or not — you’re able to steal at least a few minutes here and there to rest and recharge. I’m currently back in Pennsylvania spending time with family, which has been really nice. One of my sisters was studying abroad this past semester and another was away at school, so this is the first time in almost four months that we’ve all been together! The time apart makes you that much more grateful for the hours you do have with family. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take this week off from work entirely, but I’m happy (as always) to have the flexibility to write and log hours from anywhere so that I can spend a few extra days with them. I’ll head back to New York City tomorrow afternoon to prepare for our New Year’s travels, but in the meantime, I’m soaking in all the binge watching and leftover Christmas cookies I can!

With 2018 just a few days away, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect back on some of the high points (and even some of the not-so-high points) of the past twelve months. 2017 was quite a year, and there’s no way for me to include everything, so I thought I’d do what any Instagram lover would do and use my #2017bestnine as a starting point.

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Initial reactions? Including Matt in my Instagram posts obviously makes them a lot more popular! Matt, prepare to continue seeing your cute face all over social media in the new year. Let’s give the people what they want!

Anyway, here are a few more thoughts about these best-liked photos and how they were significant to my year.
  • In July, Matt and I traveled to Turks & Caicos with some of my family to celebrate my little sister’s high school graduation. My sisters didn’t know that we’d be coming, and it was so fun to surprise them at the airport with our bags packed and ready to go! This trip was especially significant because it was the first (and only, honestly) time since I’ve gone freelance that I officially went out of office. (Sigh.)
  • In June, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a trip to southern Maine. Marriage continues to be such an incredible experience, and doing life with Matt is the greatest blessing. Halfway into Year Two, I can say confidently that it’s only getting better and better!
  • September marked one full year since I left my corporate job and began working for myself. Even though it’s now been three months since I enjoyed this milestone, I still find it hard to believe that I’ve been at this for a full calendar year… but then again, I also kind of feel like I’ve been doing it forever. I continue to feel nothing but gratitude for all of the opportunities that I’ve had over the course of this journey — even the ones that come disguised as challenges!
  • Matt won the Hamilton lottery the week before Christmas, and we got to enjoy our favorite show from the second row. Such a fun surprise! The timing was tough, since my family lost our cat the same day, but I did my best to go with the flow (not always my best thing!) and feel all of the things at once. We lost our dog on the other side of my family this year, as well, so 2017 was a hard year of goodbyes to my childhood pets.
  • Marriage isn’t always easy, and Matt and I continued to work hard at learning more about each other and at being good partners (and at taking good pictures, of course). One thing we’ve found especially helpful is something we call The Appreciation Game — and it’s been fun to hear our friends talk about how they’ve adopted it since I shared it here on the blog! Every night before bed (even if one of us is traveling), each of us shares one specific thing that the other person did to make them grateful that day. Sometimes, it can feel like a stretch (just being honest!), but being intentional about that time daily has been really beneficial for us.
  • We spent the first two weeks of October traveling in northern California, starting in San Francisco, driving down the coast to Monterey, and finishing up with ten days at a cozy Airbnb in Mill Valley. Read more in my recap posts here and here.
  • We laughed a lot. That’s really all I can say about photo #7 up there.
  • We celebrated the wedding of two of our favorite people in Mystic, CT. And somehow we ruined a perfect sunset with a hilarious, mean muggin’ personality pic.
  • We experienced off-season at the Jersey shore for the first time — and we loved it! The only thing better than laying on the beach in a bathing suit is exploring the beach in a cozy sweatshirt.
What were the highlights of your 2017? I’d love to hear more about them in the comments below!

….AND don’t forget to enter this month’s giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a $30 gift card to Barnes & Noble. Literally, the ultimate prize (if you ask me, at least). All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post. I’ll be drawing and announcing the winner here on the blog this Friday 12/29, so get those entries in ASAP! Be sure to send the link to your bookworm friends so they have a chance, as well! 

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holiday decor + mini-thanksgiving.

As promised, today I’m sharing some photos from our super festive marathon of holiday celebrations this past weekend. In case you missed it, we decorated our apartment and cooked a belated mini-Thanksgiving dinner… all in roughly 24 hours. We don’t do things halfway here in the Kosik household!

This is our third holiday season in this apartment, so we kind of have our decoration routine down to a science. We buy a tree from a guy who sets up shop around the corner (his name is José) and Matt carries it home, which is a city phenomenon that never fails to surprise the little suburban girl inside my soul.

This year, we bought a few new seasonal throw pillows and candles, plus an ornament or two, but mostly, we used things we’d already collected. The red and white paper chain you see in the photos below is something I made by hand for our first holiday in Brooklyn, and we’ve somehow managed to keep it intact for three years now! (For the record, I was fully expecting to have to start from scratch annually.) Hanging it up is one of my favorite traditions, and if you’re looking for a low-budget, high-impact element to add to your holiday decor, I would definitely recommend making one for yourself!

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Once the apartment was properly in the festive spirit, we transitioned immediately into Thanksgiving mode! As you know if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, Matt and I started a tradition of making a mini-Thanksgiving dinner last year, and even though we made it happen a little bit late this time around, I’m really glad we did it. We absolutely love the big Thanksgiving celebration that happens with family in Pennsylvania, but it’s nice to have a smaller version, too, with just the two of us — plus, we both like to cook, and it’s been fun to figure out what recipes are going to be part of our own tradition.

We reprised a lot of the classics we made last year — a turkey breast (of course), stuffing, kale salad, cranberry sauce — but we added in a new roasted potato dish and biscuits. I also finally got around to making a recipe for apple crumble that my friend Angela gave me a few months ago. She made it for us when we visited her and her sweet family back in October, and I was waiting for the perfect time to try it myself. It was as delicious as I remembered it!

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I was honestly a little worried that squeezing our decorating day and our Thanksgiving dinner into one weekend would somehow cheapen both events, but I’m happy to admit that I was wrong. Sometimes, it makes me sad to think that we’re not always able to savor things because we’re moving so quickly through this season of our lives, and I don’t like the idea of condensing the calendar simply for the sake of getting everything done. Rather than a rush, though, this weekend just felt like the perfect mash-up of celebrations, and it launched me into the holiday season wildly quickly.

(Also, we have a fridge full of leftovers, which has been especially helpful throughout this crazy busy week. Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving leftovers?)

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my guest post over on HomeBodySoul, I’d love for you to take a look! This is about as raw and honest as I’ve gotten with sharing the story of my transition from corporate America to freelancing, and I think it will help shed a little extra light on how and why I’ve ended up where I am. Thanks so much to Meghan for giving me the platform to open up! 

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gratitude diaries #8.

It’s almost here, it’s almost here! My very favorite holiday of the year!

Matt and I are packing up the car and heading back to Pennsylvania tonight after work, so please please send a little no-traffic vibes my way because I have no idea what to expect leaving Brooklyn on Thanksgiving Eve. (I promise to send some easy travel vibes right back atcha, so your own travel karma definitely won’t suffer.) For the past few years, I’ve traveled back to Pennsylvania a few days before Matt, but this year, we decided to make the trip together. It seems like the married people thing to do — plus, I have enough work to finish up today that I’d kind of rather knock it all out right here in my normal office so that I can go home tonight and fully sink into holiday mode.

It’s been quite a while since my last edition of Gratitude Diaries (the last entry was back in June!), and with less than 24 hours left before the most thankful day of the year, this seems like the perfect time to bring back one of my very favorite blog series. And while I’m naturally appreciative of big picture things like my family and my health and my home and my marriage, I happen to think that these posts are that much more fun when I focus on the smaller details that can be easier to brush off or take for granted. I try to practice gratitude daily in an easy way (I’ve kept more detailed gratitude journals in the past, but I find that I often fall off the wagon if my personal expectation is that the entires should be long and detailed) by noting one thing I appreciate at the end of every day on my monthly calendar. It’s kind of the equivalent of crossing days off countdown-style, but it looks a lot more colorful and makes you feel a lot better about life in the process!

Here are a few things I’ve been feeling a little extra love for over the last few weeks…

  • Afternoon walks, because whether you work in a traditional office or out of your home and for yourself, it’s important to step away from the desk when you can and get some fresh air, even if it’s only for a few minutes. So many of us eat lunch in front of our computers (guilty!), so we owe ourselves a little time away from the to-do list whenever possible. It helps break up the day!
  • Couch naps, because even with all of my sleep issues, I can still crash HARD on the sofa every once in a while on a weekend afternoon — and there are few things that feel better than that.

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  • Friends with puppies, because I’m loving having an excuse to visit with one of my besties and squeeze in some puppy snuggles at the same time. Plus, I get to be the kind of cool aunt that goes for fun walks and offers treats for cute behavior but doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night and wait around for the pup to do his business in the cold.
  • Cookie dough ice cream, because I picked up a pint for myself the other night while Matt was out with friends and I’ve never regretted anything less.

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  • My new holiday dress. I fully plan on rocking this little number from Shop Ashley Le Mieux as much as possible this season! The boutique has tons of great — and affordable! — pieces available for holiday. Shop this link to check it out. I think they’re running great sales this weekend, too!
  • Vitamin Dbecause, as I mentioned in this post, it’s really helped my sleep and generally made me feel a lot better.
  • Grown-up friend sleepovers, because there are few things I find more hilarious than spending a Sunday morning lounging around on an air mattress with friends from out of town after a long night out.

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  • Zumbo’s Just Desserts, because it’s my new Netflix obsession and I’m trying to get everyone to watch it. Picture your favorite American baking show, but add desserts that are as magical as anything out of Willy Wonka, plus some seriously amazing Australian accents. My only complaint about this show is that there is only one season so far!
  • Hot chocolate, because ’tis the season! I’m going to be totally honest with you — sometimes, I’m only in it for the whipped cream and/or marshmallows… but no one can tell me how to drink my cocoa!

Friends, I’m certainly grateful for you, as well — today and always. I am so appreciative of how you continue to grow this community with me, and I can’t wait to see how we continue to support each other and celebrate life’s moments in the future.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!

And if you’re already thinking ahead to all of the shopping opportunities ahead of you post-Thanksgiving, then you best stop by again on Black Friday! I’ll be kicking off the November giveaway… which means you’ll be able to grab something fun for yourself without waiting in crazy lines or even paying a dime.

 

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