personal

second anniversary trip to Mexico.

I can’t decide if it feels like way longer or way shorter than two weeks since Matt and I took our second wedding anniversary trip to Cancun… but it definitely feels like one of the two extremes. I hit the ground running work-wise as soon as we landed back in New York so I could prepare to launch the podcast without dropping the ball on any of my other gigs, then Matt was away last weekend for a bachelor party while I had a friend in town, and this whole time we have been sweating bullets with crazy summer weather here in Brooklyn. With everything we’ve had going on, it’s hard to believe we even went on a trip!

But we did! We did go on a trip, and it was great.

I know the all-inclusive model isn’t for everyone, but we’re huge fans of it, and I was really excited to find a great last-minute deal on Expedia for a resort called the Excellence Riviera Cancun (only in my dreams is this a sponsorship… I just want to share the love!). You never quite know what you’re going to get when you book a trip like this, but I’m happy to report that the place beat all of our expectations and we can’t wait to go back. As much as we loved being at a honeymoon hot spot for our actual honeymoon in 2016 — we went to Sandals Antigua — I’m always anxious about being the only non-honeymooners at one of these resorts, and that wasn’t the case on this trip. It’s probably silly, but I think I would feel a little bummed if every. other. couple around us was just coming off of their wedding… even though it’s obviously magical in its own right to be celebrating an anniversary.

Since life has been such a whirlwind lately and I haven’t had the chance to share any of the details of our time away, I thought I’d wrap up this week with a belated recap of our anniversary getaway! Let’s start with the good, the bad, and the ugly (AKA the best, worst, and most hilarious parts of the trip) and then finish with some photos.

The Good: There was a moment when we were sitting in lounge chairs on the beach one afternoon, drinks and books in hand… and then an acoustic cover band started playing live right at the spot where the resort met the sand. It couldn’t have been a more perfect moment!

The Bad: (This is about to be one of those situations where I take something good and spin it so it’s something bad. Ready?) We needed more time! I know it feels like vacation is never long enough, but I genuinely think that we could have used an extra day or two this time around. Matt and I haven’t been on a beach-y, totally relaxing and luxurious vacation alone since our honeymoon, and while I’m grateful we were able to steal away at all during this very busy period of our lives, I very much regretted that we didn’t figure out a way to extend it just a liiiiiiiitle bit. One more night would have done the trick.

The Ugly: Unless we have a reason to be otherwise, Matt and I are generally pretty casual travelers, and it didn’t occur to us that the resort might have a dress code since that’s not something we’ve run into on previous trips. We pretty much assume that as long as you’ve changed out of your bathing suit, put on some real shoes, and made yourself more or less presentable, you’ll be allowed to eat anywhere you want! Welp, not so much at this resort. There were a few select restaurants where long pants (even jeans!) were apparently required for men, and we were asked very politely to leave one place when Matt showed up dressed in chino shorts, a button down shirt, and loafers. All I could do was laugh and make a mental note to insist that he pack pants next time!

And now for some photos! I never take as many pictures as I want to when we travel because I am focusing so much on disconnecting from my phone, but here are some highlights…

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Sooooo…. can you tell I’m already counting down until when we can go back?

Do you have any summer trips planned? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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married (almost) two years.

Hi, friends!

I feel like I’ve been a little absent from this special place lately and I want to say a big “I’M SORRY!” for that. Between some unexpected travel over the last few weeks and lots of preparation for next week’s podcast launch (on top of my standard workload), I’ve had to let certain things fall off of my always growing to-do list… and sadly, new blog posts have often been the things to fall. I’m savoring the opportunity to touch base with all of you whenever I have it : )

The big news in our house right now is that Matt and my second wedding anniversary is coming up this weekend.

Two years? I really can’t believe it.

This second year somehow went even faster than the first (which itself went by in the blink of an eye, to use a crazy cliché), and with just a few days to go before we celebrate our anniversary, I couldn’t miss the chance to do a little reflecting on what I’ve learned about marriage over the last 365 days. We’re marking the occasion with a long weekend trip to Mexico (!!!!), which is another reason why I’m coming to you early.

View More: http://bricibene.pass.us/kosik

Before we were married, a lot of people told Matt and me that the first year of marriage was bound to be the most difficult. As of our wedding day, we’d already been together for seven years and had been living together for a few months, so I was admittedly skeptical of this advice. (Also, I’m not a big fan of marriage advice that’s basically just a warning. Can we stop handing out “wisdom” like this at bridal showers, please?) I was happy to find that I was right. Relationship-wise, Year One didn’t prove a major challenge. I was going through tons of personal change — most significantly, a serious career shift and transition to working from home and for myself — and investing tons of work in being successful there, and Matt and I kind of chugged along in our new chapter, still loving the newlywed phase and doing things mostly the same way we always had.

Matt and I agree that Year Two has been a little harder.

We’ve both stepped up in terms of our professional ambitions, and we’ve had to learn to better reconcile our individual goals with doing what’s best for the home team.

We’re continuing to grow together, but we’re also getting more set in our ways in certain aspects… and since the Kosik household is a stubborn one to begin with (fully admitting to it!), we’ve had to continue to figure out how to best communicate with each other.

We’ve had to confront the realities that come with time passing, which has set tough conversations — the kind of tough conversations that seem to need attention every day for months at a time — in motion. Enter more lessons in communication.

As hard as some of these growing pains have been, I see now that they’ve made us so much stronger as a couple, and that they’ve helped me grow into a better version of myself, too. People say that marriage will do that to you, and I guess I’ll happily accept — and agree with — that advice. I am so genuinely excited to celebrate all of the learning experiences and amazing times of the last year in Mexico this weekend. If I do say so myself, we deserve it, and I know we’re going to have the best time. (P.S. if you want to read the recap of our first anniversary weekend, you can check it out here!)

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My engaged friends have asked me on more than one occasion if it really feels different to be married than it does to be in a serious, long-term relationship, and while it’s hard for me to put that difference in words sometimes, I usually say a little something like this:

“When things are easy, it feels the same. You mostly feel different when there’s conflict or when you’re facing something challenging together.”

I was pretty much in it for the long haul with Matt within less than a year of our first date (even though I was a sophomore in college and had no idea what I was doing), and I rarely approached fights or conflict with a mindset of “I could get out of this,” but marriage has taught me even more about how to come to the other side of a tough conversation or situation with someone. As hard as it is sometimes to get up every day and try to work through a fundamental difference, you do work through it! And you realize that it’s not impossible if you can show up consistently to figure out where you and your partner can find common ground. In my opinion, that common ground is what helps you fall even more love. (Cheesy, I know — but it is my anniversary week, so cut me some slack!)

For nine years, I’ve known that there’s no one I’d rather laugh with or watch movies with or go to dinner with or even fight with than Matt. But this year has taught me that there’s no one else I would choose to figure out basically all the things with, either. He continues to be my favorite person and I love him infinitely more even than the day we got married two years ago. That was a hard thing to imagine back in June 2016, but it’s proven absolutely true.

Matt, you are the very, very best. Can’t wait to see what Year Three brings! 

 

 

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my early writing memories.

A lot of my free time recently has been dedicated to reading books from my childhood. (If you’re not sure why, you can read more over on the newly-launched SSR Podcast page!). While I’ve definitely experienced these stories differently the second time around, the simple act of cracking the binding has given me my fair share of flashbacks, too.

Reading one book brought back intense memories of sitting in a navy blue lounge chair near the pool at my grandmother’s old house while I was visiting her for summer vacation. I’m pretty sure we were snacking on cantaloupe.

Another book reminded me of a plane ride to Orlando.

Still another took me back to sitting on the front porch of our rented beach house at the Jersey shore. Back then, it felt like the biggest treat to be able to stay up as late as I wanted, alone with my book and the sound of other beachgoers walking back to their houses as the sky got darker. (For the record, the mark of a good beach trip for me these days is a 10 PM bedtime. Getting older is weird.)

And, yes, I obviously have the clearest memories of vacation reading. 

But how cool is that? The fact that a single chapter or passage in a book I’ve barely thought of over the past 15 years can make me so clearly sense what it was like to read that book the first time — where I was, what I was smelling, how the air felt — is pretty darn cool.

All of these reading throwbacks have gotten my wheels turning on a few writing memories, too.

Writing was a “thing” for me by the time I was eight years old, largely because I was lucky enough to wind up in an elementary school chock full of teachers who embraced more than just a required reading list. They wanted us to learn to tell our own stories, as well, and it quite literally shaped and changed my life. I didn’t know back then exactly what kind of writer I would be when I grew up, but I did understand that the practice of writing would play a major role in whatever happened to me in the future.

Here are some of my earliest writing memories…

… for years, I only took baths — never showers. I used to rest my notebooks on the edge of the tub so I could work on my stories while sitting in the cooling water.

… my first grade teacher had this spiral-bound reference book that was part baby name book, part thesaurus, part dictionary. The idea was to use it to make your writing more creative and to shake up the kinds of nouns and verbs you were using in your work. I pored over this thing so much that my parents ended up asking my teacher where we could order one of our own, and I carried it with me everywhere.

… my classmates and I were introduced to SSR (Silent Sustained Reading — the inspiration for my podcast!) in first grade, but in second grade we learned about SSW — Silent Sustained Writing. A few times a week, we got to sit at our desks and write whatever we wanted. It was the best.

… another staple of my elementary school experience was the “Read In,” a day near the end of the school year when we all got to wear pajamas to school and build makeshift campsites in the classroom where we got to sit and read all day. At some point, we got to have a “Write In.” I’m pretty sure I brought three empty notebooks to school that day, convinced I would be able to fill them with that time.

… my fourth grade teacher had a filing cabinet where we all got to keep our creative writing projects, and instead of working on a bunch of short stories, I asked if I would be allowed to try to write a book. She said yes. My first attempt at a book — which spent that year getting increasingly crammed into my folder in that cabinet — was called Carrie’s Ride Home, and it was about a girl who figured out how to teach her blind little sister how to ride horses. (I was super into horses at the time, too.)

… I always traveled with plenty of blank paper. I remember sitting on the deck of my grandfather’s house in Florida with a princess hat on, fervently scratching away at one of my beloved notebooks. I refused any notebooks that weren’t five-subject, with skinny lines.

… one of my favorite things was to read my work out loud to my mom, which is weird, since I now pretty much refuse to share any of my creative writing with anyone. It was always a “stop everything!” kind of moment, where I required her full attention.

… as a third grader, I decided that I wanted to start a class newspaper. I tried assigning out stories to my classmates and set up a little desk in the back of the classroom (with my teacher’s permission). I remember getting really frustrated because the other kids weren’t as excited about it as I was.

… luckily for me, most of my friends were as interested in writing as I was, and we experimented with lots of writing projects together — plays we would perform in my basement, “books” in alternating viewpoints, and stories we would simply work on together painstakingly, line-by-line.

Ah, these were so fun to revisit!

What are some of your favorite, most random childhood memories? 

 

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a weekend down the shore.

If you’re worrying about the grammatical correct-ness of the title of this post, don’t. “Down the shore” is Pennsylvania/New Jersey/(probably some other places, too)-speak for basically any part of the Jersey shore. You don’t go “to the shore.” You go “down the shore.” Don’t ask me why. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, most of the kids I knew spent some time at the beach every summer. Most people went somewhere in New Jersey, though there was a small group that frequented Delaware. There are tons of beach towns to choose from, and every family seemed to have their allegiance to one. For us, it was Ocean City, NJ, a place I’ve been visiting (literally) every summer since I was born.

There are few places that stick with me the way Ocean City does. I know my way around there better than I do here in Broolyn, and maybe even better than in my hometown. I can navigate by car, on foot, or by bike. It’s probably the only place in the world where I can point you north, south, east, and west without thinking about it for too long. As I’ve grown up, Ocean City only feels more and more important to me.

My family does our big trip there every August, and one of the bummers of getting older is that I’m no longer able to stay with them for the full two-week duration of the vacation. (Responsibilities, ugh.) We try to get down for shorter visits as often as we can at other times of the year, and Matt and I managed to sneak a quick trip down this past weekend. We’ve both been working our booties off the last few weeks (you can read more about my recent case of overwhelm here), and even though we have a big anniversary weekend trip planned at the end of the month, it seemed absolutely necessary that we escape for a little down time ASAP.

I don’t have that much to say about it except that I’m really glad we went.

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I’m not someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the weather forecast, so (naturally) I discovered just two days before we planned to go that it was probably going to rain all weekend. By that time, Matt and I were both so committed to the idea of the trip that we probably would have gone even if they were predicting an early June snowstorm. As my dad always says, “A rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at home.” So true, Dad, so true.

We ended up with better weather than expected — so much that we actually spent most of Saturday on the beach reading. It was a little too chilly for full-on sunbathing, so we left our bathing suits behind and wore t-shirts and sweats instead. Somehow, even while bundled up, we still managed to get sunburned! Go figure. I was just so grateful to be outside with my book and my husband and the smell of the water that I didn’t even consider that there could be so much sun coming through all the hazy clouds.

We weren’t quite as lucky with the weather on Sunday, but we kept the relaxation going with more reading (duh), marathons of The Office, and visits to some new (to us) restaurants in the area. Start to finish, our whole trip was only about 17 waking hours or so, but it felt way longer than that, which I’ll take as a sign that we really needed the down time… and totally got it, too.

What are your most relaxing places? Tell me more in the comments below! 

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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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