Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Learning To Slow Down | Love Your Life

One of the biggest struggles I'm currently facing is the pace at which my life is moving. Living in/around New York City I have a strong desire to do everything. I live in constant fear of missing out. It takes away from the events I do participate in and interferes with my down time. I also feel like living in Jersey City has made my life more confusing. I live just outside of Manhattan yet I have a view of the World Trade Center from my living room. Jersey City is still bustling and industrial. It's far from the calm, open New Jersey roads, just 20-30 minutes west. 

It can be easy to focus on all the opportunities here and not want miss out. This past weekend I chose to slow down, just a little bit. On Sunday, I woke up with no game plan. I had some ideas but nothing concrete set for the day. This led to some much needed organization and cleaning. Then we decided to visit a farm. It was 45 minutes away and a calming break from our busy lives. 

There are tons of farms in New Jersey. We chose to visit Oldwick Farm Market. They have flower fields, potbelly pigs, fresh baked goods, and produce. 

You can pick your own bouquet or grab a pre-arranged one. Unfortunately the sunflowers [in the field] were past their prime so I opted for a bouquet in the shop.

Visiting this farm was such a relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. My Sundays are usually filled with errands and the normal grind. I'm so glad we slowed things down and got some amazing fresh groceries from a local market. Slowing down is a work in progress for me, which is why I wanted to share my experience in this series.

How do you slow yourself down when life gets busy?

Monday, August 27, 2018

How I Manage My Money | Finance 101

Financial freedom was a long and slow journey for me. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only been financially independent for a year. I lived at home after I graduated college [undergrad]. While I worked full time,  I didn't have to pay any living costs. Fortunately this allowed me to save roughly $30,000 for grad school. I ended up going to a private university, New York University, which I would not have been able to afford. My parents kindly paid my tuition. I paid my own living expenses for the first eight months until I ran out of my savings. My parents supported me after that until I found my first post-grad job [I did work part time in grad school but it wasn't enough to pay for a life in New York City]. 

The past year has been rocky to say the least. My first post-grad job barely paid the bills even with our move to Jersey City. I even had to ask Joe for money a couple times to pay off my credit card. Luckily I never went into credit card debt! Each month I scrutinized over my checking account to make it through the month. During my last job, I listened to the first two seasons of Bad With Money - a phenomenal podcast for those just starting out. I remember one episode recommended saving a little bit each paycheck or week, even if it was just $1. The guest on the podcast suggested 1% of your paycheck. I calculated what that was and started saving that. As predicted in the podcast, I didn't even notice the money leaving my bank account. Once I started my current job, I spent a little time catching up financially then started saving more. 

Nowadays, I have automatic transfers set up on a weekly basis using Qapital [not sponsored but you get $5 if you use my link!]. I put a certain amount into my home fund, emergency fund, and my travel/Europe fund. Whenever I feel I can bump that amount up a little, I do. I am free to use the rest however I want - as long as I pay my rent and can pay off my credit cards each month. This strategy has worked really well for me so far. 

I'm also loosely following the Dave Ramsey steps for financial peace. 
1. Save $1,000 to start an emergency fund [check]
2. Pay off any debt - smallest to largest [check]
3. Save 3 to 6 months of expenses for emergencies [currently working on]
4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-taxed retirement funds 
5. Save for your children's college fund [really glad we don't have kids yet haha]
6. Pay off your house early
7. Build wealth and give

I'm still early on the stages but I'm much further along than I was a year ago!

This is pretty much it for now. As I continue on my personal finance journey, I'll share updates [especially when I figure out what an Roth IRA is!].

What are your best tips for managing personal finances?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sephora Beauty Appreciation Sale Picks

1 // 2 [50% too!] // 3 // 4 // 5 // 5 // 7 // 8 // 9 //  10

I love a surprise sale! This week Sephora announced they'd be doing a Beauty Insider Appreciation Sale. The discounts are comparable to their fall sale. While you can shop the sale as much as you want in store, the discount codes [below] are one use only.


VIB ROUGE USE CODE 'YESROUGE' at Checkout Sale Dates: 8/24-9/3 Save 20% OFF EVERYTHING VIB USE CODE 'YESVIB' at Checkout Sale Dates: 8/30-9/3 Save 15% OFF EVERYTHING INSIDER USE CODE 'YESINSIDER' at Checkout Sale Dates: 8/30-9/3 Save 10% Off EVERYTHING


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Inclusive Self-Care | Love Your Life

While taking care of ourselves seems easy, it can be really challenging on difficult mental health days. Even the smallest task can feel daunting. Face masks and bubble bathes are appealing but sometimes getting out the bed feels like the biggest hurdle. I've compiled a list of self-care practices for rough days and high-functioning days.

Rough Days:

1. Take Five Deep Breaths: Simple yet effective.
2. Shower: Showering always makes me feel better. I feel like I'm washing my bad day away.
3. Make Your Bed: It's a small task that makes all the difference.
4. Stretch Your Body: Release some tension.
5. Drink a Glass of Water: Staying hydrated always helps.
6. Hug Someone: Physical touch is crucial.
7. Nap: A mini escape from reality.
8. Snuggle with a Pet: This always immediately makes me feel better.
9. Diffuse Essential Oils: I drop a few drops in my diffuser and let it run before bed - my favorite night time blend is cedar wood, lavender and stress away from Young Living.
10. Cry: Sometimes you just need to let it out. It's incredible how good you can feel after letting out your emotions.

High-Functioning Days:

1. Take a Walk: Fresh air and moving your body will relieve some anxiety. 
Note: this isn't meant as a "work out" but rather a stroll to de-stress
2. Meditate: Try an app [I use Headspace]. You can do anywhere from 1 minute to 30 minutes. 
3. Do Yoga: Gentle yoga is my favorite. I love to stretch and quiet my mind, without any pressure. 
4. Watch a Movie: This is the perfect distraction. Transport yourself to a different place.
5. Do a Digital Detox: This always feels like a big release. I love to clean out files on my desktop, photos on my phone, notes, emails, and anything else that piles up.
6. Declutter Your Closet: I like to sort my clothes into piles: keep, sell, and donate. My favorite places to sell are Crossroads and ThredUp. You can order a kit online - they cover shipping your items. They'll mail you a check for pieces they purchase and will donate the rest [or mail you the items back for a fee].
7. Cook a Meal: It can be easy to skip meals or just snack when you're busy or stressed. Cooking a full meal can be therapeutic and make you feel better.
8. Call a Friend: Talking to a friend and family member can help you talk out everyday stressors.
9. Read a Book: Dive into another world.
10. Treat Yo' Self: Sometimes you just need to a splurge on something for yourself. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

My Personal Finance Journey | Finance 101

Over the past six months, I've started feeling more confident with my personal finances. I've been thinking about starting a series on personal finances. Honestly I was thinking about starting this series a year ago - when I was really struggling. There is no perfect time to share my experiences and what I've learned so why not start now? I think it's important we start out with my story.

My journey with my own finances has been rocky, to say the least. I've struggled with managing my own money for years. As a child, my parents taught me the value of money. I had an allowance and neighborhood pet care jobs. My parents were cautious but never stressed by money. Luckily they have always been comfortable. I did grow up around a lot of wealth [outside of my family] and always thought we weren't well off, as a result. While my parents taught me about budgeting and having my own money, it was never really reinforced. If I ran out of money, my parents always gave me more. I didn't really understand the consequences of living beyond my means. 

In college, my parents paid my tuition and gave me money for my living expenses each month. They sat down with me [via Skype or phone] to create a monthly budget. I somehow always came up with unexpected expenses and had to ask for more money during the month. They were always there so I never stressed about not affording groceries or textbooks. 

After college, I moved home. I got my first full time job 20 minutes from my parents. I knew I wanted to go to grad school so living at home made the most sense. I started saving chunks of each paycheck. Luckily I managed to save close to $30,000 before I left for grad school two years later. My original plan was to pay for grad school myself but then I got accepted into New York University. NYU is a private school and extremely expensive. My parents had the money and offered to pay my tuition. Once again, I didn't have to stress about debt. I moved to New York City and paid my own living expenses for the first eight months. Then I ran out of money. My parents didn't pressure me to get a job and wanted me to focus on school. I did have several part time jobs during grad school. None of them paid well or were permanent. 

After I graduated, I started job hunting. I actually decided to switch fields - that's a whole other story. I took the first job I was offered. It wasn't permeant and it paid pennies. Joe and I moved to New Jersey and I was able to scrape by. I learned a lot about managing my personal finances and goal setting. Six months ago, I got a new job, which put me in a better financial spot and allowed me to save more money. While things are headed in a good direction, I still have a lot of learn. 

This is just a peak in my background but context is key, right?

My goal with this series is to share my financial journey - what I'm learning, how I'm managing my money, and my goals. If there are specific posts you want to see, please leave them in the comments! 

Finally, I really don't think this needs to be stated but here it is: I am not a financial expert [obviously]  and I am sharing what works for me, which may not work for you or your situation. 

Look out for this posts every Monday!

Friday, August 17, 2018

4 Fall Backyard Activities

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

The summer is slowly coming to an end and that means that fall will be here before we know it! Fall seems to be just about everyone’s favorite season - the weather is cool and crisp, pumpkin recipes are the stars of the show, and the holidays are just around the corner. Just thinking about it makes me so excited for the next six months! One of my favorite parts of fall is the fact that everyone takes advantage of the nice weather and everyone gets together for fun fall activities like pumpkin patches, apple picking, and hayrides. While all of those options sound like a blast, today I want to talk about fall activities that you can do in your backyard! Backyard activities for fall weather is the best, in my opinion. There are so many things to do and you get to stay in the comfort of your own home. Here are my favorite ideas:

Grill Out
Grilling out is one of my favorite fall activities. I know that a lot of people associate grilling with summer weather, but in my opinion, fall is just better. Jim Shahin agrees with me saying, “Barbecuers need a Declaration of Independence. That famous document, although written in summer, knows no season. And neither should barbecuing. Fall is my favorite time to grill. Unlike summer’s searing temperatures, fall’s mild weather makes standing before a hot fire a pleasure. But the practicality of temperate days, fine though it is, is secondary to their poetry. The smoke carries differently on fall’s crisp air. The vapors perfume the neighborhood, bracing and seductive, hinting of nostalgia. In brutish summer, smoke practically congeals above the grill in its thick torpor. It presents a false choice, really. Can’t a barbecuer like both? Of course. But if I have to choose, I pick fall as my favorite season for grilling.” Some of my favorite fall grilling recipes are grilled cauliflower, BBQ chicken, grilled lamb, and even grilled sweet potato.

Backyard Camping
Fall is the best for backyard camping because it’s not too hot anymore and not too cold yet. Set up a tent, cook some s’mores, and have a good time with your friends and family! To make your tent more comfortable, follow these few easy steps:

1. Choose a spot in the grass without any rocks, sticks, etc.

2. Fill your tent with tons of blankets to add softness or choose to put an air mattress inside your tent.

3. Opt for a spot in your yard where electricity can reach. You can use this to blow up your air mattress, run a fan, or turn on your white noise to sleep, if needed.

4. Make sure you zip your tent up every time you leave and enter. You don’t want any creepy bugs crawling on you in the middle of the night!

5. Last but not least, make sure all of the trees above you are healthy. The one thing that would definitely ruin a fun backyard camping experience is by having a tree fall on or near you. If you are not sure about the health of your trees, feel free to reach out to the local NJ company, Frontier Tree & Turf. They have over 30 years of experience in the tree service industry and have NJ Certified Tree Experts on staff. After their visit, your trees should look healthier, but more importantly, you will not risk having a tree fall on you during your camping adventure. Monmouth County towns such as Rumson, Fair Haven, and Little Silver, which is where Frontier Tree & Turf is based out of are home to many different tree specimens. Because of this, you need a team with the knowledge and expertise to properly diagnosis issues, and then improve and maintain the tree’s health. This is why you need to choose a reliable company such as family-owned and operated company, Frontier Tree & Turf.

Pumpkin Carving
Pumpkin carving is one of the most fun, traditional home activities and for good reason, too - you need a pumpkin for Halloween! Don’t worry though, if you are not the Halloween type, there are so many great perks you can get from carving a pumpkin such as pumpkin pie, toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, and more.

Spend Time With Loved Ones
When it comes down to it, the best part of backyard activities for fall weather is the fact that you get to spend time with the ones that are important to you. Grab a few chairs, enjoy the weather, and sit outside and just talk, eat, drink, and have time. Ultimately, this is what life is all about, right?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New York Anniversary | Biggest Lessons Learned

Today is my three year anniversary with New York! *Cue the confetti* I seriously can't believe that three years ago, I boarded a plane for a unknown new home. I cried at the airport as I hugged Joe goodbye. My mom and I landed in New York in the mid afternoon. We took a car to our motel in Long Island City. We dropped off our luggage and jumped on the subway, headed to Grand Central station. I showed my mom around some of parts I'd seen on my one and only trip to New York two years prior. 

We barely slept the first night. We were so excited to meet up with the broker and find my New York apartment. Our first day was a whirlwind. We saw five apartments and the last was, by the far, the best option. We jumped on the unit and I was able to take it off the market. We celebrated with acai bowls in my new neighborhood. This time in my life has been the most exciting, scary, fun, and life-changing. The list of changes/life events would make this post way too long.

Even with all the highs and lows, I've never once regretted moving here. I've become a completely different person and have learned a ton. While boarding that plane three years ago feels like it was yesterday, I also can't even relate to that girl who moved across the country. I'm really proud of the person I've become. I finally feel like a true adult [although I still have a lot of learn!]

In honor of my three year New York anniversary, I'm sharing the three biggest lessons I've learned while living here.

Closed Mouthes Don't Get Fed: My wise friend and coworker, Rana, said this and it's so true! She was born and raised in Brooklyn and has been working hard her entire life. She taught me to speak up and ask for what I want. I've become more vocal about my goals and aspirations. They are slowly but surely coming true - partially through hard work and partially because I'm finally asking for what I want and deserve.

Say Yes: Let me preface this by saying: I don't believe in burning yourself out or forcing yourself to say yes because you have a fear of missing out. I do believe in saying yes to new adventures. I believe in breaking out of your comfort zone. I believe in pushing yourself when great opportunities arise. I've said yes to blogging events that have allowed me to meet amazing people. I've networked and taken opportunities that have led my to my current job. I've made travel happen, even when it meant sleepy Mondays and a messy apartment. I try to keep my life balanced and don't take up every opportunity that comes my way but I do try my best to live my fullest life. 

Have Fun: While it's important to be conscious about the future, you also need to live in the moment and have fun. I'm always trying to seize the moment - whether it's trying a new restaurant or watching breath-taking sunset. Have fun and enjoy every moment.

Happy Three Years, New York!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Curvy Fashion Finds: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

 ONE // TWO // THREE // FOUR // FIVE // SIX 

I was debating even writing this post because the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is ending (August 5th is the last day to shop). I picked up some great plus size pieces and couldn't resist sharing. My order just arrived a couple days ago and I already love all of my purchases. I re-ordered some of my favorites from last year - these leggings are one of the best high waisted leggings I own. I made sure to order this tee in white and pink. I picked it up last year in white but (of course) promptly stained it.

One of the best items I picked up was these jeans. They come in standard and plus sizes. I already wore them to work on Friday. They are high waisted with a little stretch. I love that they maintain their shape throughout the day but don't dig in. I also adore dark wash jeans so these are perfect for me. I'm really glad that I got them while they were 33% off!

I always take advantage of this sale for good quality pieces. I grabbed this long sleeve tee in black for only $19! I can throw a scarf or vest over it in the fall for an easy work look. I also picked up a couple non-fashion items. I grabbed this lip set - I couldn't resist three luxury lip products for $60. I found several cute home decor items. I snagged this marble toothbrush holder for only $11! 

With the sale ending, I hope you were/are able to grab some great pieces for fall. Let me know your favorite finds in the comments!


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