Wednesday, October 31, 2018

5 Tips For Dealing With Change

Hey friends! I was originally planning to share some last minute recipes for Halloween BUT I feel like I need to get a little more personal today. If you follow my blog, you know that I'm currently going through a lot of change. My husband, Joe, and I left our lives in New York City to pursue new opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area. We did a cross country road trip with our cat [posts and videos coming soon!]. This week is our first week in our new jobs. It's a lot. It's overwhelming. 

Normally I would wait until I moved beyond a period like this to share some insights. Honestly it felt important to share while I'm in the thick of it. I don't know how things will turn out or where we'll be in a year. 

Here's my advice:

1. Talk To Someone: I've been talking to Joe, my parents, and some friends about road blocks and struggles in this time of change. I can't imagine bottling all of this up!

2. Create A Routine: I'll be the first to say that I'm just starting this step. I'm working to come up a morning and night routine to create more structure in my life.

3. Hug Someone: Cuddling with your furry friends or hug a friend. Physical contact is comforting during uncertain times.

4. Get Out Of Your Head: I tend to stress about all the little details. Joe and I have tons to figure out - where do we want to live? When are our movers showing up? It can be easy to dwell on the details but we can't control anything right now and we need to get out of our heads.

5. Don't Be So Hard On Yourself: You're doing the best you can. If you want to curl up and watch tv at night, do it. If you skip the gym this week, don't stress. You are going through a lot and I hope you see how much you're doing. 

What are your strategies for taking care of yourself during times of change?

Monday, October 29, 2018

How Much We Spent On Our Cross Country Road Trip

Before our cross country road trip, I shared an estimated budget for our travels. I had a pretty good sense of what expenses we'd have day-to-day and I wasn't far off. The road trip was a blast [and exhausting!]. If you want to see some what we got up to, check out my road trip highlight on Instagram. I will be doing posts and videos on the trip and Nutmeg's experience. Luckily Nutmeg did really well on the trip - she's a well-traveled cat now!

Let's get into it!

Gas ended up be slightly less than we'd predicted. We spent $393.83 [while $415 was our estimate]. We spent $33.38 on tolls - way less than we originally estimated [$100]!

We ended up upgrading our Ohio lodging a few days before the trip - we went with La Quinta over Motel 6. This raised our lodging expenses up to $140.44 for two hotel nights. As I mentioned in my budgeting post, we stayed with friends/family for the other two nights.

We were a bit under budget on food. We spent $397.23 [$100 less than our original estimate]. We did skip a couple breakfasts so we could get on the road and our final dinner was with the in laws. I do think we did pretty well though!

Our entertainment was the same as our original prediction - we spent $10 on parking at Mount Rushmore. If we hadn't needed to drive as much each day, we probably would have added in some more fun activities. 

Total: $974.88 [$150 less than our estimated total!]

Have you ever done a cross country road trip?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Central Park Anniversary Photos + Wedding Vows

Last month Joe & I had the opportunity to shoot [belated] anniversary photos with our wedding photographer in Central Park! Fortunately we've been able to shoot our engagement photos & wedding photos with the same amazing photographer. Michele and her husband, Andrew, were in town and we met up for a beautiful shoot. I've wanted to take couple photos in Central Park since I moved to New York over three years ago. We ended up with some beautiful photos!

We were able to shoot in some of our favorite areas of the park: Bethesda Fountain, the Bow Bridge, & the Ramble. We even got a few stoop photos - we all know how much I love a good New York City stoop. 

New York has been such a significant chapter in our lives. We moved here right after getting engaged.  We got our first apartment together on the Upper East Side. We planned our entire wedding here. We adopted our fur baby, Nutmeg. It was the perfect way to end our time in New York and this incredible chapter in our lives.

While we shared tons of our special day in our wedding video, you only heard a portion of our vows. I thought it would be fun to share each of our vows [we wrote them ourselves!] along with our favorite photos.

Mollie's Vows: 
I see vows, not as promises, but as privileges: I get to love you each and every day. I get to always be honest with you and communicate fully and fearlessly. I get to laugh with you, go on adventures wth you, and most importantly raise a cat with you. And maybe someday even a child or two. 
I give you my heart. And it will be my privilege to walk with you, hand in hand, wherever our journey leads us, living, learning loving together, forever. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life. And I will choose you over and over again every single day. 
I love you unconditionally. 

Joe's Vows:
Five years ago, a night with friends has become something incredible. Your love and care has taken me on a journey to many new places and to a life across the country. Our adventures have been the most amazing and fun parts of my life and I can only dream of all the greatness to come. 
On this day, I promise you, my Mollie bug, to be the most trusting, understanding, and happiest Joe-bug I can be. To be there next to you through good, bad, and stressful times. You are the most beautiful person, inside and out, and I am the lucky one because you have already given me everything I've ever wanted. 
I love you my Mollie-bug.

I hope you enjoyed seeing our anniversary photos!



Friday, October 19, 2018

Dear New York

Dear New York,

It is cliche to say but let's start with this: it's not you, it's me. It isn't easy to say this but we need to go our separate ways. I've been thinking about this for a while. When we first got together, I couldn't see this ever ending. We were constantly having so much fun and I'd never fallen so hard.  I was a completely different person and you molded me into the best version of myself. I've grown up so much since we first met. We were so good together. 

When we first met, I was timid and living my life for other people. I wanted to be what everyone expected of me. I wanted everything to line up perfectly. You quickly helped me move out of my comfort zone. I began to question why I was doing things I wasn't interested in and started to explore what else was out there. You guided me and supported me when I needed it most. You constantly provided me with inspiration. I cannot thank you even for helping me transform myself and my life.

I've been thinking about it a lot. I really love you and being with you but I can't right now. I know this   probably doesn't make a lot of sense because we both know that we're happy together. Unfortunately, I don't have a perfect answer. I think it's just timing. I need something more stable in my life right now. I need consistency. As much as you want to, you just can't give that to me right now. 

It pains me to say this but we need to go our separate ways. As much as I'd love to stay with you forever, I know that it can't work. I need to find someone who is reliable and maybe a little less exciting. I need to be an adult and settle down, even though I wish we could have fun forever. This has been the greatest relationship of my life. You truly are the one that got away. The timing just isn't right sadly. I hope that one day, when we're both in the right place in our lives, we run into each other and can have a second chance. For now, we'll need to find happiness on our own. I'll miss you. A lot. 

New York, you will always be the one that got away. 

Love, Mollie

Monday, October 15, 2018

How To Budget For A Cross Country Road Trip

Now that we all know that Joe and I are doing a cross country road trip, let's discuss the planning! [Also if you missed my announcement, you can hear it all here]. We need to start with the basics: this a five day cross country road trip. There are two adults and one cat. We're driving Joe's car. There will be some pre-trip prep involved [buying car snacks, vet appointment for Nutmeg, and car repairs] but since those are somewhat unique to us, I'm not including those in this budget. Let's breakdown what we're intending to spend!

Joe's car holds 21 gallons and gets 23 miles to the gallon (averaging city and highway driving). Our route is approximately 3200 miles. The average price of gas (currently) is $2.97/gallon. We'll need 140 gallons - $415 for gas. I'm not sure why I included how many gallons his car holds but it means we will have to fill up seven times on the trip! I did some quick research on tolls and couldn't find an estimate for a cross country trip. I'll set aside $100 for tolls!

Luckily two out of four nights we're able to stay with family and friends. While we will, of course, bring a host gift, we will still be saving on hotels. Not to mention it is much nicer staying with friends! Our other two nights will cost us $55.68 and $47.64. We're staying in small towns in pet-friendly motels. Our lodging will only cost us a little over $100 (with host gifts).

We'll be eating all of our meals out. We will purchase car snacks before the trip though. We'll aim for affordable options on the trip. We'll estimate $100/day on food for the two of us. You could definitely do it for less but we are meeting up with some friends for meals along the way. 

Most people do road trips for fun. While this is an exciting trip, it's largely to move ourselves (and our cat) across the country. The only attraction we're stopping at is Mount Rushmore (because when else will we see it!). Entrance is free but we will need to pay $10 for parking. For car entertainment, I already pay for Spotify Premium and we plan to download some podcasts. Otherwise this will be an inexpensive area for us!

Estimated Total: $1125

Have you done a cross country road trip? Am I missing any expenses?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

We Have A Huge Announcement!

First off, this is one of the preview photos from our anniversary shoot in Central Park & I love it! Next order of business: we have a huge announcement! I don't normally post on Sundays so you know this is a big deal. While I'm eager to share the news, I made a whole video and I'd rather you hear it from us. 

Watch the video here:

I can't wait for all the exciting content to come!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

How To Take Care Of Yourself While Dealing With Life Changes | Love Your Life

I really hope I come up with a better title before sharing this post. If I don't, here's the gist - it can be hard to take care of ourselves while going through big life changes. Throughout our lives, we will experience job changes, moves, deaths, births, and so much more. While I don't want this post to be negative, I do want to be realistic. It's not easy to care of ourselves when our lives feel unstable. 

I'm personally going through something HUGE right now. I'm not ready to share quite yet but I promise it's coming soon. Throughout this process, it's been really hard to give myself the love and care I deserve. I'm trying to switch my focus to self-care: what would help me most during this time? I've compiled a few of my tips for coping during a stressful period in life.

1. Say No: My instinct when I'm going through a big change or something hard is to distract myself. We get caught up in the things we "should" do or are afraid of missing out. Honestly we might be happier wrapped up in a blanket on the couch than out to dinner with friends. Check in with yourself to see how you feel.

2. Create Self-Care Rituals: These do not need to be big or take up a lot of time but establishing a small tasks for yourself can make a world of difference. This could be as simple as making a cup of herbal tea before bed or following a skincare regimen each day. For me, this simply looks like creating a short night routine. I brush my teeth, shower, follow my nighttime skincare routine, braid my hair (it gets super tangled otherwise), and relax in bed before going to sleep. If I follow that each night, I feel accomplished and comforted. 

3. Meditate: This is a daily practice for me and it doesn't need to take up much time. I use the Headspace app. I can choose guided meditations from 1 minute to 15 minutes (there may be longer ones, I'm not sure!). I opt for the shorter ones most of the time. It just helps me take a few deep breaths and lets me concentrate on something out. 

4. Unplug: If social media or just the internet is bringing you down, take some time to disconnect. Grab a book or watch a movie. Take yourself out of it all for a little while.

5. Take A Mental Health Day: This may not be feasible for everyone but if you are going through something challenging and can manage this, I highly recommend it. Sometimes the best thing for us is to take a break from everything for a day. Take off work or school and listen to your body. This will look different for everyone. For some, getting extra sleep will make all the difference. Others want to do something special for themselves. Follow your heart and take some time out for yourself.

These are a few nuggets of wisdom. If you are dealing with something difficult, I really hope things improve or are resolved soon! 

What are your go-to ideas for self-care during a challenging time?

Monday, October 8, 2018

How To Bounce Back From A Financial Setback

Sometimes life throws us curveballs and unfortunately, some are bigger than others. While we can't always plan for unexpected expenses, we can bounce back after shelling out more than we're comfortable with. There are a few steps we can take that will soften the blow. 

Build an Emergency Fund: I shared how to save up for your emergency fund a couple weeks ago. Obviously having an emergency fund is the easiest way to handle these unexpected situations. But what if you started saving and don't have enough in the account to cover the expense? Don't worry, I've got you.

Cut Any Unnecessary Expenses: While this isn't fun, this is a temporary solution that will help you cover the expense. I personally don't believe in credit card debt. I do put most of my purchases on my credit cards [for the points!] but I always pay it off in full every month. This also gives me time to cover the expense [between the statement closing and my payment becoming due]. In this time, I could avoid all unnecessary expenses [restaurants, subscription services, entertainment, etc.] so more of my paychecks and emergency fund can go towards the financial setback.

Earn Some Extra Cash: Whether you need more than cutting back or want an alternative, earning extra cash can really help. There are so many options these days - driving Uber, babysitting, pet sitting, food delivery, tutoring, etc. The options are limitless!

Once you've recovered from this financial setback, you can focus on building up your emergency fund. Life throws unexpected things our way all the time and it's helpful to be as prepared as we can!

Do you have any other tips for bouncing back from a financial setback?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Favorite Orchards in New York & New Jersey

Fresh apple cider donuts, pumpkin patches, and apple picking are some of favorite things about fall. I grew up in California, which meant not really experiencing a proper fall. When I moved to New York, I was overjoyed by everything there is to do here in the fall. The East Coast does apple orchards right. Apple picking (and the whole orchard experience) has been my favorite autumnal activity since I've lived here. 

As this is my fourth fall in the New York area, I decided it was time I share the orchards I've been to and what I liked about them. Hopefully this will inspire you to to have your own apple picking afternoon!

My Favorite Orchards in New York

Location: North Salem, NY
Year Visited: 2015
What To Expect: apple picking, hayrides, farm animals, pumpkin patch, farm store

Location: North Salem, NY
Year Visited: 2015
What To Expect: apple picking, pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm store

Location: Yorktown Heights, NY
Year Visited: 2016
What To Expect: apple picking, corn maze, farm store [note: we visited late in the season and weren't able to apple pick]

Location: Phillipstown, NY
Year Visited: 2018
What To Expect: apple picking, hayrides, cider tasting, farm store

Location: Marlboro, NY
Year Visited: 2018
What To Expect: apple picking, pumpkin patch, beer garden/cider tasting, corn maze, farm store

My Favorite Orchards in New Jersey

Location: Hillsdale, NJ
Year Visited: 2016
What To Expect: apple picking, hayrides, pumpkin patch, farm animals, farm store

Location: Morristown, NJ
Year Visited: 2017
What To Expect: apple picking, farm store

Location: Holmdel, NJ
Year Visited: 2017
What To Expect: pumpkin patch, farm store, haunted hayride [bonus: Fox Hollow Vineyards is lovely and just down the road]

Have you visited any of these orchards? Do you want to visit any of these now?!

Monday, October 1, 2018

5 Ways To Cut Monthly Expenses | Finance 101

It can feel impossible to start or maintain a savings account. I've found that some little steps I've taken haven't minimized my quality of life and bring more of my money in savings. Although everyone is in different situations, I hope some of my money saving tips will benefit you.

1. Costco is your friend: Warehouse clubs, like Costco, can be a great way to save money on groceries, furniture, and experiences. For larger families, I highly recommend getting a membership. Even Joe and I have a membership and buy mostly non-perishable items. Paper towels and toilet paper are much cheaper to buy in bulk. Gas is often cheaper at Costcos with gas stations. Joe has gotten new tires from their auto center. We also used to buy discount movie tickets [before joining AMC Stubs A List]. I've also gotten gym memberships at Costco - it was a serious bargain. Oh and you can save on some restaurant gift cards!

2. Get cash back and discounts on regular purchases: Ebates is a cash back website that gives you a rebate on tons of online stores. They even have a Chrome extension so you won't forget to activate your cash back on approved retailers. Honey is a Chrome extension that notifies you of active promo codes and can enter those for you to get you the best deal. Both services are 100% free to use!

3. Be smart when eating out: Take advantage of discount restaurant gift cards at Costco or purchase Groupons to bring down the cost. Also hit up happy hour when you can. Joe and I love to do this to get cheaper drinks and food, especially knowing how expensive New York City restaurants are. 

4. Split services with family and/or friends: Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, HBO Go, and even phone plans all pile up quickly but when we get accounts/plans together, we can save a bit each month. This will really add up over time!

5. Sell things you aren't using: Whether it is selling clothes [I like Crossroads and ThredUp] or listing furniture on Craigslist, it can feel great to declutter and make some money.

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