Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tips For Maintaining Your Car

Thank you to Cars.com for sponsoring this post!

Our car has seen a lot of wear and tear over the past few years. We moved across the country (California -> New York). Joe drives this car to work every day in the rain, snow, or otherwise. Also, for two years, he drove from Manhattan to job sites across the city or New Jersey every week. This car has seen a lot of use! 

When he bought this car, it is obviously a huge investment. We do everything we can to maintain it well so it will last for years to come. 

Here are a few tips for maintaining a car:

• Check your engine oil [this the blood of your car & should be changed every 3000 miles]
• Check tire air pressure [can easily been done at home--Cars.com offers a step by step guide & video on how to do this]
• Wash your car [show your car some love]

Six Months [or 7500 miles]: 
• Check the air filter [remove air-filter element & hold up to light; if you don't see light, it's time to replace it]
• Inspect exhaust system [check for rusted exhaust parts that need replacing & tighten loose clamps]
• Check brakes [either in the shop or at home]
Check the fluids
Clean the radiator [this prevents overheating]
Check the battery
Check lights [ask a friend to help you check the headlights, taillights, reverse lights, brake lights, and turn signals]

Two-Four Years:
Drain & flush cooling system [may be best to find a shop for this one]
Change automatic-transmission fluid
Replace drive belts & hoses [although they may not show signs, if they become noisy--it's time to replace them]
Change the timing belt

As Needed:
Replace broken lights, windows, mirrors [always do this ASAP--safety first!]
Clean the interior [especially important if you want to sell your car eventually]
Replace windshield wipers 

Anything I missed? Leave it down in the comments!

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Met Opera Brunch Experience

Last weekend Joe and I did a staycation in Manhattan. The highlight of our weekend was having brunch at the Met Opera. 

Grand Tier [Met Opera restaurant] is located on the second floor of Lincoln Center. This restaurant serves dinner and weekend brunch. The brunch runs from 11AM-2PM, with performances at 12:15PM and 2PM. Joe and I opted for an earlier reservation and stayed through the first performance--both performances are the same. 

For brunch, the Grand Tier offers a $45 pre fixe menu and a la carte options. Joe and I went for the pre fixe menu, which includes an appetizer, entree, and endless bellinis. I went with the pineapple yogurt parfait and brioche french toast [both were amazing!]. Joe chose the soup and eggs benedict [on cornbread!]. 

We had a wonderful experience. The meal was very leisurely. Our server was fantastic and didn't rush us whatsoever. He took our order shortly after we arrived; he brought the appetizers right away and then waited on the entree until right before the performance. 

The performance was incredible. The opera has a young artist program and they select one singer and pianist to perform four songs during brunch. 

I cannot say enough great things about the Met Opera brunch at Grand Tier. It is a fun way to "see" the opera without the price tag--you can even just order a la carte options to keep it super budget friendly.

Have you been the Met Sunday Brunch?


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

7 Helpful Tips For New Home Buyers

This is a sponsored guest post by Alex Berger, but all opinions are her own!

Buying a new home is full of different emotions. There is stress involved, happiness involved, 
worry involved, and love involved. If you have never purchased a home before, 
you usually have no idea what you are doing, so you have to rely on those around you to guide you. 
This can be a bit nerve-wracking, but if you have people you trust, it is also a lot of fun! 
The best part about shopping for a home is having an open book - you get to decide where 
you are going and what your house is going to look like. There are so many possibilities 
when it comes to purchasing a new home and that is what makes it so fun! 
When my husband and I purchased our home a little over a year ago, we ended up in a location 
that we never thought we would end up, but we love it! Now, I feel like I am somewhat experienced 
when it comes to buying a home and I would love to share my tips with you, so I want to give 
all of you future new homeowners a few helpful tips to try and make your experience less stressful 
and more fun. You’ve got this!

7 Helpful Tips For New Home Buyers

Trust your team
The people that you choose to rely on when you are buying a home are your team. 
These people include your realtor(s), your mortgage broker, the person/people you are 
buying a home with, and anyone else helping you. These are the people that you need 
to be open and honest with about everything. They know what they are doing, so keep 
your ears open and really hear them out, but at the same time, make sure you are 
getting what you want. It is your home, after all.

Don’t skimp on location, but stay flexible
Like I mentioned above, my husband and I did not expect to live where we do now. 
We expected to live much further east (and maybe a bit more south) than we do now 
and honestly, I thought that I would hate the area that we are in. But, when we were 
looking at homes, we drove around this area quite a bit and I really ended up liking it. 
There is a college nearby, so they are really working on improving the area and new 
spots and restaurants are popping up everywhere. We are also really close to four 
difference city lines/downtown areas, so it is nice being in the middle of it all, but 
still in the suburbs! With all of that being said, make sure you know what areas you want, 
but if an area pops up that you don’t expect, don’t hesitate to at least check it out - you 
may be pleasantly surprised like we were!

Consider a new build or renovations
A new build would give you a home that you are able to completely customize, 
while home renovations take an older house and update it into a home that you 
have customized. Either way, you cannot go wrong as long as you choose the right 
contractor! Located in Barnegat, NJ, co-owners Kurt Henn and Anthony Nardini specialize 
in home renovations, home restorations, additions, bathroom & kitchen remodeling, 
finished custom basements, and custom bars & mantels. Kurt Henn has been working 
in the industry since 2002, starting in the flooring business and then going into carpentry. 
Anthony Nardini started construction work in 2003, working in the demolition and restoration 
field. They both came together with their many skills and talents to create 
Henn & Nardini Contracting. They are committed to excellence and their clients 
complete satisfaction, they have amazing reviews and their design process seems 
extremely easy. You can even get a 3D design of your project so that you can really 
visualize what is being done. If you are in the New Jersey area, you should definitely 
check out their website or social media channels.

Remember to take care of yourself and breathe
This is one of the things that I struggled with most during the entire process - I got so 
stressed out that my entire mind was consumed with home buying lists. Learn from my 
mistake and take care of yourself - go on date nights, go out with your friends, take baths, 
watch your favorite TV shows and movies. Thinking about the process obsessively isn’t 
going to help it move along any easier or faster. Take care of yourself first!

Follow the steps
Follow the steps that are laid out for you. Investopedia has a great step checklist on their 
website that you can check out. My biggest tip is to get pre-approved before looking at any 
houses and then once you do get pre-approved, do not shop for a home that is at the top of 
your budget. We were qualified for a home that was well over what we actually shelled out 
and I am so thankful that we did not go to the top of our budget. Things will come up and you 
will be so glad that you are not ‘house broke.’

Do NOT rack up your credit cards once you have been pre-approved
My amazing mortgage broker gave us this advice and we were so glad that we had it. 
Apparently, the person that was supposed to close before us couldn’t because of their credit
it changed due to them purchasing new appliances on their credit cards. Wait to purchase 
your appliances after you actually close on your new home - this ensures that your credit 
will not change.

Save more money than you think you need
Things always come up in a new home, so you need a good cushion. In our first year, 
we had so many problems arise. We had to get our home sealed off from the outside 
because we found a rat in the attic (eeek!), we had three leaks that came down from our 
garage ceiling and one leak that came down our garage wall, we had to replace three toilets, 
and we had kitchen sink plumbing issues. You never know what issues you will run into, so
make sure you have enough to cover all of your bases. Owning a home is expensive, but it is 
so worth it in the end!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Viceroy Central Park New York Hotel Review

Last weekend Joe and I went on a staycation in New York City. We currently live in Jersey City but miss our Upper East Side days so we figured a hotel in the city would be the perfect weekend getaway. We booked through Priceline and opted for 5 stars by Central Park. We were placed at the Viceroy Central Park, which is two blocks from Central Park!

We stayed for one night [Saturday night] and kept all of our activities within walking distance so we could fully relax. We went to a comedy show at Caroline's on Broadway, visited the singing diner--Ellen's Stardust Diner, walked around Central Park, and had brunch at the Met Opera [post coming soon!]. 

Our room was on the 25th floor but unfortunately, it faced away from Central Park [otherwise our view would have been insane!]. I will say this made our room extremely quiet, which is a treat in the city. 

The bathroom was the most aesthetically pleasing part of the room. It was stunning! Marble & gold--right up my alley. Aside from it's appearance, there wasn't much special about the bathroom. The stone floors made your feet cold. Thankfully slippers were included [along with robes]. 

There was also no bathtub [my favorite on vacation] BUT the rain shower head had amazing pressure so my shower will still really pleasant. 

The bed was insanely comfortable. I was worried the bed may not actually be comfortable because the look of the room was modern and chic--I thought it may not be cozy. The bed was so nice you could just melt into it. I also love that the individual lights are above your head so it's perfect for reading at night without disturbing anyone else. 

Next to my side of the bed, in the cabinet, was the cutest coffee setup and mini bar. I love how this was tucked away, as to not disturb the aesthetic of the room but keeps it still functional. 

I do have to warn you--a lot of the goodies in the room will cost you. Bottled water? $8 Mini bottle of wine? $35 We were extremely careful to not even get close to any items we might get charged for. Also, the only fridge was a mini fridge and we didn't want to risk any unexpected charges so we didn't even bring back drinks or leftovers. 

All in all: the room was really nice. Especially for a hotel room in New York City. It was surprisingly spacious! 

We obviously had to check out the rooftop bar. The bar is located on the 29th floor. There is an indoor area as well as an enclosed open area. Perfect for enjoying a rooftop bar in the winter. There wasn't a ton of seating and most of it was reserved for supposed reservations. We were told we could sit until the reservation arrived [which never happened]. The bar has the perfect view of Central Park.

Check out this view!

Joe went with one of the seasonal favorites--Hot Toddy. I opted for a classic Moscow Mule. They were both on the pricey side [~$20/drink] but delicious! 

Overall we really enjoyed the Viceroy New York and recommend staying here! The concierge was also great with letting us leave our bags after checkout while we wondered around the city. 

I hope to stay at some of their other destinations [latin America perhaps?!] in the future! 

Monday, January 15, 2018

My Self-Care Day Routine

I hope you're enjoying the long weekend! Happy MLK day. While I have the day off, Joe has to work. This feels like the perfect opportunity to have a full self-care day. I haven't kept up with self-care as much as I'd like--I'm trying to take more time for myself in this new year. Today I'm going all out and doing all my favorite pamper activities. I figured this would be a great opportunity to share my full self-care day routine. 

Without further ado, let's get into it:

1. Movement: I like to start my self-care days with some sort of movement. I always do something that will make me feel good but isn't too intense. I haven't had time to work out for several months so I'm starting back up with yoga. I purchased a Groupon recently and am putting it to use today. Yoga is a great way to get back into working out. The stretching alone is fantastic with how much we sit in our everyday lives. 

2. Massage: The ultimate self-care activity is a massage. When I was living in Manhattan, I had a Massage Envy membership and got a massage every month on the Upper East Side--I love that location! Today I'm finally checking out the Jersey City location and seeing if I want to get a membership here.

3. Nails: Getting my nails done is one of my favorite ways to treat myself. I'm obsessed with dip manicures--it's basically a [new-ish] technique where your nails coated in a base coat and then dipped in powder repeatedly . It looks like gel but lasts longer [3-4 weeks] and isn't damaging. Nothing makes me feel more pampered than a fresh manicure and pedicure. 

4. Bubble Bath: After a massage, I love to soak in a bath that evening. I draw a bath with epsom salts and a bath bomb. I like to sip some infused water or tea & read during my soak.

5. Facial: I won't have time to fit in a facial at the spa today so I'm doing an at-home facial. I showed a full at-home treatment in my wedding skin care video. Basically I start out by cleansing my skin, then apply an exfoliating mask for 10-15 minutes, then remove it and apply a hydrating mask for 10 minutes while using my steamer. I follow up with a moisturizer and eye cream

6. Favorite TV Show: I'm ending the evening by watching one of my favorite shows--The Bachelor! Even though we're only a few episodes in, I'm already really enjoying Arie's season. I really like Becca K. and Tia. Who are you rooting for?!

This is everything I'll be doing today to take care of myself. 

What is in your self-care day routine?

Friday, January 5, 2018

How To Start A Blog

Welcome to my new blogging series! I've been thinking about starting a blogging series for a while. My main inspiration is to track my journey as I grow my blog--I still consider myself a beginner. I also have several friends who have expressed interest in starting a blog this year and thought this may be helpful.

In this post, I'm focusing on the basics--how to start a blog. If you don't know much about blogging, this can seem daunting but I promise it's very do-able.

1. Decide On A Theme.
First and foremost: what will your blog be about? What topics will you write about? Who is your desired audience? When I started, I didn't consider any of this. I created my blog as an extension to my YouTube channel. My main goal was just to reach the same type of person who watched my videos but I didn't fully understand who that person was. I posted sporadically on my blog for months. Eventually I thought about the topics I want to cover--and believe me, I've changed my blog multiple times since then. To be clear, I still feel like my blog isn't narrow enough but I'm definitely happier with it now. It may take you a while to really find your niche, which it totally ok. All I suggest is have a brainstorming session before you decide on a name for your blog and get some general categories for blog posts.

2. Choose A Hosting Site. 
Once you have an idea, you need a physical website for your blog--this is called a hosting site. There are tons of sites out there for hosting websites--some are free, some are paid. The two most common free hosting sites are Blogger and Wordpress. I chose Blogger because it's incredibly easy to understand and user friendly.

3. Buy A Domain. 
If you're not sure what a domain is, essentially it's your URL. Mine is modernmollie.com. Your readers will type in your domain to access your blog. You don't necessarily need one immediately but I do think it's important to make your blog look professional [if that's what you're going for]. If you want to consider a few options, you could always wait on this step. Just know that your blog URL will look something like: modernmollie.blogpost.com until you purchase a domain. While this is a more serious step, you always have the option of purchasing another domain name and switching them out if you want to change it down the road--it isn't the most permanent step.
There are a number of websites that sell domains. I purchased mine from GoDaddy. They are very affordable and have great customer service whenever I have a question.

4. Pick A Template. 
There are free templates on some hosting sites--Blogger has several options. If you can code, you can create your own template. Otherwise, Etsy is your best bet. I've purchased all of mine from Etsy--if you're worried about installing the theme yourself, the designers usually offer an add-on option for installation.

5. Decide How Often You'll Post. 
This step is somewhat optional but it will help you stay consistent [key in the blogging world]. Try to create a schedule for yourself. My schedule is [roughly] Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I don't always get a post up on those days but that's my goal #progressnotperfection Also, if you can nail down a posting time, that would be beneficial. You may want to finish your posts the day before and schedule them to achieve this. When I can, I like my posts to go up at 8AM EST.

6. Grow Your E-mail List. 
Honestly, this is still something I'm working on but I know it's super important. Several people have mentioned how important an email list is--it's the one thing you truly own. If Instagram shuts down tomorrow or Facebook crashes and you lose your following, you will still have your e-mail list--this is your key audience. Eventually I want to put out a monthly newsletter but we're not quite there yet. Definitely I'll do a future post on growing your list and creating a newsletter!

7. Create An E-mail. 
Companies and readers need a place to reach you thus an blog-related e-mail is necessary. You can either create one with your blog [i.e.: hello@modernmollie.com] or create a free e-mail [i.e. modernmolliee@gmail.com--my actual blog e-mail]. Make sure to list your e-mail on your blog and all social media. It is imperative that people have a way to reach you, especially if you're interested in working with brands.

8. Start Your Blog! 
Last but not least: it's time to start your blog. Write some posts, add some photos/graphics, and share them.

What other blog-related posts would you like to see?


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

10 Ways To Treat Yourself This Winter

Every year winter is a struggle for me. We spend less time outside, we have to deal with snow and/or rain, and it can be easy not to do things for yourself. Today I am sharing 10 ways you can treat yourself this winter.

1. Practice Yoga: We sit far too much in the winter so yoga is an excellent way to get out of that and stretch our muscles. I know yoga studios can get pricey but you don't need to go to studio or gym to take a class. You can easily find a YouTube video--I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene
2. Get A Massage: This one is by far my favorite. I honestly wish I took the time to get massages more often. If you're looking for a more affordable massage, I love Massage Envy (I was a member for three years) or Groupon.  
3. Read A Good Book: I find that I never take the time to actually read anymore. Reading can be so calming and relaxing. I challenge you to read at least one new book this winter; I'll do the same.
4. Do A Face Mask: Either you go get a facial or do a face mask at home, taking care of your skin during these cold, dry months is essential. 
5. Burn Candles: This is a simple one yet always puts me in a good mood.
6. Take A Staycation: Later this month, Joe and I are going on a staycation. It was a totally spontaneous discussion. We booked a hotel in Manhattan and plan to spend one night enjoying the city. I can't wait.
7. Make A Hot Cocoa Bar: Over the holidays, I took some items I already had and created a cute hot cocoa cart--I plan to use this all winter. Gather hot cocoa mixes, toppings, mugs, and some sort of cart or small table and you have a hot cocoa bar.
8. Have A Pamper Night: This one ties in with doing a face mask. For a full pamper night, take a bath, sip tea, do a face mask, and maybe do your nails. Treat yourself to a full night of self-care. 
9. See A Movie: One of my favorite things to do, with friends or solo, is going to a movie. I love the entire experience of seeing a film on the big screen, especially if they have reclining seats!
10. Fresh Flowers: Flowers are the ultimate little luxury. Whenever I need a pick me up, I buy myself flowers.


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