Thursday, August 17, 2017

5 Ways To Stay Focused

Every afternoon around 3 or 4 o'clock, I start to lose my concentration and just want to take a nap. I've been slowly incorporating little changes into my afternoon to perk myself up [without coffee]. 

1. Chew Gum: Science has proven that chewing gum increases alertness. Also, you have the added benefit of fresh breath after lunch.

2. Take A Walk: Although this may not always be feasible, taking a short walk can really help wake you up. Whether it be outside or a stroll around the office, try to get up at least every couple of hours. 

3. Use Essential Oils: Essentials oil are a great way to stay alert in the afternoon. If you watch my videos, you know that I'm a Simply Earth ambassador. This amazing company puts out monthly recipe boxes with essential oils and suggestions for their usage. They also donate 13% of their profits to organizations that help to prevent domestic trafficking. In their August box, they included a Focus essential oil and supplies to create a Get Focused! roll on. If you're interested in Simply Earth, you can use the code MODERNMOLLIEFREE for 10% off single oils OR a $40 giftcard with a recipe box purchase!

4. Drink Water: Drinking water is just good for you. Water helps energize your muscles and improve performance. I aim to drink 24oz in the morning and 24oz in the afternoon to stay hydrated at work.

5. Listen To Podcasts: Whether I need a distraction or want to focus on a task, I always go for a podcast. My current favorites are Will You Accept This Rose? [hilarious Bachelor podcast hosted by comedians], At Home With, & Ladies Who Lunch.

What helps you stay focused?

Disclaimer: Simply Earth sent me their products for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Two Years in New York City

Today marks two years since I moved to New York City. When I moved to the Upper East Side from Northern California, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Two years later I can say, with certainty,  this was the best decision I ever made.

When I moved to the city, my life was anything but normal. I was in grad school and had classes at night. I struggled to meet people I connected with. I learned a lot over the first year and had a blast living in the city. 

My second year led to even more growth. I completed my master's, decided to switch career paths, got married and am about to move to Jersey City [don't worry--my blog will still have lots of New York City content!]. I feel a bit more settled even though I know I have more growing and learning to do. I don't have much wisdom to share, unlike in my one year update. I mostly experienced personal growth, rather than just adjusting to living in a big city. Even though I'm technically moving out of the city, I'll still be working in the city and spending most weekends here. My heart is truly in New York City and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope you stay along for the journey.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How To Change Your Name After Getting Married

One of the major pains after getting married is changing your name (if you choose to change it!). When we got our marriage license, I was able to select to change my last name (and middle name, if I had wanted to). Although I chose to change my name, I needed to update all of my official documents  in order to fully use my new last name.

Here are the places you need to update your name:

Social Security: You'll need to get an updated social security card with your new last name. This must be done in person by visiting a social security office. I visited the office in lower Manhattan. I brought my marriage license and identification (my driver's license). It took about a week for my new social security card to arrive in the mail.

Driver's License/Identification Card: I was able to update mine right after visiting the social security office. I went to the DMV Express. I filled out a form, showed them my marriage license, paid $12.50 for the change, and took a new photo [I was not prepared for this so this is your warning!]. They gave me a temporary license and told me it will take 2-3 weeks for my new license to arrive--it took about a week and a half to come in the mail.

Bank Account: You'll need to change your name, order new debit and credit cards, and new checks. I just had to bring my marriage license. I was able to use my old driver's license as identification. It took a few days for my first new debit card to arrive and once it was activated, I was all set. 

Official Accounts: Several accounts will need to be updated once you have your new identification card. Make sure to update your employer/payroll, electric and utilities companies, landlord or mortgage company, insurance companies, voter registration, and airlines (for frequent traveler rewards). Some of these will just need a phone call and others will require your marriage license or new identification card.

Passport: I haven't gotten a chance to change my passport yet. Luckily, this can be done by mail. I'll need to mail in a form, check, my old passport, and a scan of my new license. 

TSA Pre/Global Entry: Once I get my new passport, I'll update my name on my Global Entry. This needs to be done in person but does not require an appointment. If you have either of these, you'll need to make sure the name on your plane ticket, ID or passport, and TSA Pre/Global Entry account name all match for future travels in order to use the service.

Accounts/Memberships/Social Media/Mailing Lists: This is totally optional. You may want to change your name on various online shopping accounts, museum memberships, gym membership, social media, etc. Likely any account that requires a payment will at least need an updated name on the billing statement.

Let me know if there are any other places I missed.

I hope this is helpful to any newlyweds!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Our Wedding Photos

On June 24th, 2017, Joe and I committed ourselves to each other forever. 
The setting was a beautiful ranch in San Luis Obispo, where we met five years ago.
Surrounded by our friends and family, we said "I do" and spent the evening celebrating our love. 

Joe spent the day with his groomsmen and our dads. They had lunch, got ready, and played with their gifts [inflatable couches--and yes, I really meant played]. 

The morning of my wedding was such a whirlwind. My maid of honor and I rushed over to the venue to check on some last minute things. Then we all headed to the salon to get ready for the day. I feel like I never stopped to breathe the entire time! Luckily our photographer was fantastic and made sure we got the majority of the shots we wanted before the wedding. By 3 o'clock, the bridesmaids were off to the wedding and my dad and Joe were being set up for our first looks. 

Our first look was one of the most special moments of the day. I walked up to Joe, stood back to back with him, squeezed his hands then we turned around to see each other. It gave us one calm moment to fully take in the day and everything it meant to us.

Our ceremony was officiated by a mutual friend. I created our ceremony script and we wrote our own vows. We wanted everything to be intimate and just for us.

In our ceremony, we selected one reading to be shared: a excerpt from Winnie The Pooh

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?" asked Piglet. 

"Even longer," Pooh answered. “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” 

I loved how our head table turned out. We placed the head table in the back of the barn. We seated our maid of honor, best man, and both sets of parents with us. Joe and I used my grandparents' toasting flutes from their wedding--it just happened their glasses were gold rimmed and matched our decor! 

Our cake was everything I ever wanted. I may not have always dreamed about my wedding but I've known forever that I wanted a three tier cake. We tasted cakes at a couple different bakeries last summer. Ultimately we went with Splash Cafe, a well known seafood cafe, which also has an amazing bakery. I knew I wanted a less traditional cake topper. I went with this happily ever after gold topper--I love the script and happily ever after was a theme of our wedding. As one of our other colors was blush, we chose to have pink roses cascading down the cake. For the cake itself, we selected different flavors for each layer. The top tier is our one year anniversary cake. The second tier was chocolate cake with strawberry mouse filling. The third tier was vanilla with lemon curd and fresh raspberries. The entire cake was covered in vanilla buttercream frosting. We got so many compliments on the cake and how great it tasted!

Just before sunset, we snuck out to take some photos on the hill. I love how our photographer used light to capture some amazing images. 

We ended the night with a sparkler send off. We gave out personalized matchboxes as our favor, which was also functional for the send off.

As much as I wish I could have included all 1000+ photos into this post, the page would never load! I put all my favorite photos into a video. Make sure to watch it next! 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Lavender Fields Forever

Dorthy, we're not in New York City anymore.
Last weekend I escaped the city with Marta and Joe to visit Pleasant Valley Lavender in New Jersey. Located an hour outside of the city, this is the perfect Saturday afternoon trip. Pleasant Valley Lavender offers a pick your own option in addition to the range of products they sell. They have both English and French lavender; English lavender is better for baking and sweets [i.e. lemonade] and French is better in savory dishes [perfect in herb rubs for meat]. From their shop, I picked up linen spray, soap, and culinary lavender [see how I'm using my lavender at the bottom of this post!].

The farm also has their own bee hive and they make lavender honey once each year [unfortunately, we visited too early for honey]. If you're interested in visiting, I recommend heading over soon, as the fields are in peak bloom at the moment [the buds will be affected by heat later in the summer]. 

Tie Dye Dress (similar) | Sunglasses (similar)

For my city dwellers, post lavender picking--make a trip to the beach. The nicest nearby beach is Asbury Park, roughly 30 minutes away. We ate lunch at Talulua's--delicious pizzas & local ingredients [highly recommend!]. After lunch, we walked over to the boardwalk. We spent a hour or so at the beach; you do need to pay $7/person [cash only] to access the beach but it's very clean and the water was warm enough for swimming. The boardwalk has a variety of restaurants, bars, and snack shacks to satisfy any cravings. Joe and I are already planning a trip back this summer!

Finally, I want to a share a recipe for lavender lemonade. This is a great use of culinary lavender!

print recipe
Lavender Lemonade
  • 2 Tbsp Culinary Lavender
  • 2 Cups Boiling Water
  • 2 Cups Cold Water
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice
1. Place lavender into a pitcher 2. Pour boiling water over lavender 3. Allow to steep for 10 minutes (optional: strain out lavender after steeping; I left mine in) 4. Stir in remaining water, sugar, and lemon juice 5. Refrigerate for at least one hour prior to serving
Total time: Yield: 8 servings

If you try out this recipe, please share a photo with me on Instagram and/or Twitter!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wedding Gift + Thank You Card Etiquette

Welcome to another Wedding Wednesday post! In today's post, I'm sharing tips for giving wedding gifts and advice for thanking guests as a newlywed. As a recent bride and regular wedding guest amidst wedding season, I figured this topic was more than appropriate.

Wedding Gifts

Before attending my first wedding as an adult, I had no idea what wedding gifts were appropriate or how much I should spend on a gift. With the majority of our close friends getting married this year, I've learned a lot more about gift etiquette. Hopefully this advice can help you out!

When To Send Gifts
Ideally guests should send gifts two weeks prior to the wedding unless bringing the gift to the wedding. Although guests supposedly have a year to give a gift, two months is really the maximum amount of time after a wedding a gift should be sent. Life happens and this isn't always possible! If a gift is delayed for any reason, a simple card to say congratulations makes an excellent placeholder prior to sending a gift.

What To Give
Gift giving has evolved with technological advances. Nowadays, not all couples have store registries. Joe and I live in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. We did a small registry for those who prefer traditional gifts and we created a Honeyfund to finance our honeymoon [see you in 2018, Bahamas!]. Joe and I like to give gifts based on the couple and their needs. If we know they are buying a house in the near future, we are more likely to give them physical gifts otherwise a gift card or cash may be a lot more beneficial for them.

How Much To Spend
Wedding gifts should at least be enough to cover their spot (meal and drinks) at the wedding. Naturally this should be doubled with a plus one. Typically the minimum would be $50 per person or $100 for two guests. Therefore, if you are an adult and you attend a wedding with a date, you both should go in a wedding gift for the couple, whether it was from the registry, a gift card, or money. Small children can be added onto a family gift. Of course if you're traveling across the country or internationally to a wedding, a smaller gift is completely appropriate. Regardless of how far you travel, giving a gift is a must to show you appreciate the newlyweds inviting you to the most important day of their lives.

Thank You Cards

There is no hard and fast rule for a newlyweds' thank you notes deadline, as guests theoretically have a year to send gifts. However, the rule of thumb is three months after the honeymoon, assuming that the honeymoon was taken right after the wedding. For Joe and I, we want to get out our thank you cards as soon as possible. We received some really generous gifts and we want to honor those who sent them. Our initial goal was to send thank you notes immediately for gifts received before the wedding. Unfortunately, wedding planning got in the way and this didn't happen. If you can get those notes in mail before the wedding, you'll save yourself a lot of time later on! We also wanted to use to a photo from our wedding on the cards. This limited us, as we needed to wait to get the photo from our photographer [luckily she was more than helpful!]. I ordered our thank you cards, address labels, and custom stamps from Wedding Paper Divas [receive $25 off your order by clicking here]. 

Stay Organized
I created two Google docs--one with bridal shower guests and one with wedding guests. I marked the gifts next to each person or pair. Unfortunately, I started my list a little late and now we're having to track down the senders of a couple gifts (rookie mistake). 

Personalize The Message
When you're able, personalize your note to the specific gift. With our first few registry gifts, we took polaroids of us using the gift for the first time to show how much we appreciated the items. We also plan to mention our honeymoon in thank you cards to anyone who contributed to our Honeyfund

Bridal Shower Notes
For your bridal shower thank you cards: typically you want to get them out a month after the shower. My situation was slightly different because I had my shower the week of our wedding. I ordered thank you cards for the shower at the same time I ordered cards for the wedding. Mine will go out just over a month after the shower. However, I did make sure to send a thank you card to the host right away. 

I hope this advice was helpful!

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