Birthday Wish List

Birthday Wish List

J Crew vest
factory.jcrew.com

Emerson shoes
emersonfry.com

David Yurman ring
bloomingdales.com

Topshop lipstick
topshop.com

Topshop lipstick
topshop.com

Every year I still get excited for my birthday. When the one-month-mark passes the real countdown begins. And when we get to two weeks prior all bets are off.

For me, birthdays are about doing what you want — having a special day just for yourself. When I was in school I would always stay home on my birthday and do something special. Now that I’m older, I still try to take the day off if I can.

This year there are a few items from J.Crew on my wish list, some new lipstick colors from Topshop, and a David Yurman ring I have had my eye on for a while. There will also be the usual pampering at Spa Adriana.

But today is actually the birthday of my good friend Cathy. I met Cathy when I was working at my last job and we hit it off right away. Even though I left more than two years ago, Cathy and I chat regularly and get together for coffee and brunch when we can. Cathy is so much fun to be around and has an infectious personality. She is a wonderful friend and a special person.

Happy Birthday Cathy! xoxo

A Personal Note…Update

A Personal Note...Update

Thanks again to everyone who commented on the blog and sent emails wishing my grandmother well before surgery.

She underwent a mastectomy last Tuesday and was released from the hospital on Wednesday. The last few days she has been resting and feeling better each day. On Thursday we will see her surgeon for a post-operative appointment and get the pathology results. I am grateful to the competent and professional doctors and nurses at Stony Brook Hospital who cared for my grandmother, and of course to her wonderful surgeon, a breast cancer specialist, who performed the operation.

This will be another hectic week as I prepare to return to work and see my endocrinologist for a follow-up thyroid appointment on Tuesday — but not to worry, posts will be up as usual.

Happy Monday!

Cool Coats

Since it is almost the end of October, and fall is in full swing, it’s nearing time to break out those warm coats. Each year I try to hold out until November 1st (arbitrary, I know) before I don my favorite coat for the season. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a huge fan of long coats. Perhaps it’s my inner Olivia Pope (if you haven’t tuned into Scandal yet, you really should!), but I love how dramatic and elegant these coats look. I’ve lined up some great coats for the cooler weather that even Ms. Pope would love!

Cool Coats

Hobbs trench coat
$255 – johnlewis.com

Formal coat
$81 – newlook.com

Mexx Metropolitan blue coat
$240 – zalando.co.uk

VILA coat
$73 – houseoffraser.co.uk

Ted Baker coat
$530 – johnlewis.com

Slim fit coat
blackfive.com

Jane Norman grey wrap coat
$105 – janenorman.co.uk

A Personal Note

Breast Cancer Awareness

This upcoming week will be emotionally draining, but I am determined to remain strong and positive. My grandmother (a 20-year breast cancer survivor) was recently diagnosed with Paget’s Disease of the breast, a rare form of breast cancer that accounts for less than 5% of all breast cancer cases in the United States. Today she is having a radioisotopic dye injected to help the surgeon remove any affected lymph nodes during surgery, and tomorrow she will undergo her second mastectomy.

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I’d share a great article I recently came across.

How to Practice Breast Self-Awareness All Year Long – (wellandgood.com)

I’ve scheduled a couple of posts for the remainder of the week so be sure to catch those. Thank you to everyone who has offered well wishes and prayers!

Loving XO

Loving XO

This week was the usual: crazy, busy – insert appropriate adjective here please. But when I heard Huntington was having a Restaurant Week of its very own I knew it would be too good to miss. Since I grew up in Huntington, I have eaten at most of the restaurants in town. Of course, new ones pop up all the time and I enjoy trying something different.

XO Wine & Chocolate Lounge has been on my list for a while. Just the name alone is enough to get me in the door. It’s not that new of a place, but somehow I never managed to make it there until now. And what better day to go than on National Dessert Day!

The corner restaurant was quiet on a Tuesday evening. Inside, a bar greets you before you make your way to the main dining area. I was impressed with the three-course menu offered for $27.95 per person. I ordered the bacon stuffed mozzarella sticks for my appetizer, which were excellent, and a skirt steak prepared medium rare with a coffee BBQ sauce for an entrée. I really enjoyed the unique flavor the sauce provided.

Loving XO - Bacon Stuffed Mozzarella Sticks

Loving XO - Coffee BBQ Skirt Steak

While both the appetizer and entrée were very good, I was secretly salivating over the dessert all evening. Since my 30-day-challenge is still ongoing, I went with a healthier dessert option and ordered the chocolate covered strawberries. They were the best chocolate strawberries I have ever had. The warm milk and white chocolate complemented the sweet strawberries perfectly. Thankfully, there were only three strawberries to be had or else I would have done some serious damage to my healthy eating challenge!

Loving XO - Chocolate Covered Strawberries

If you are looking for a fun restaurant to enjoy a glass of wine and indulge in some sweets this is definitely the place for you. Their chocolate fondue options are decadent and their regular dining menu is very satisfying. I especially liked the laid-back environment and the pleasant staff. XO has earned a permanent spot in my heart and will be one of my regular Huntington go-to’s.

Fall Finds

Every fall I brave the pumpkin-picking traffic and head out east to Riverhead’s Tanger Outlets for a shopping trip. This year was no exception. While the drive was no picnic, the holiday sales more than made up for the delay. I scored some great sweaters, tops, and blazers from Banana Republic and the Loft at seriously discounted prices – which equals a successful shopping excursion for me!

Fall Shopping

Fall Shopping

Getting in the Spirit

Z Gallerie Metallic Glam Skull

I have never been a huge fan of Halloween. It was fun as a child when you had a half day at school, followed by a costume parade and then trick-or-treating. But once the costume phase passes and it’s no longer acceptable to go around asking for candy, it’s just another day on the calendar. With that said, there are things about Halloween that I embrace. I love going pumpkin picking – although in recent years, I haven’t had to go far, as some have begun growing in the backyard garden. I still get excited when pumpkin spiced lattes make their debut at Starbucks. And I am more than happy to add some spooky décor to the house.

This year, I feel differently about Halloween. I can’t explain why that is, but something about these past few weeks have had me secretly smiling when Grandin Road emails arrived in my inbox showcasing the latest creepy creations. Perhaps it has something to do with all the blogs I have been reading offering amazing Halloween décor and party ideas. I surely will not be dressed up as anything, nor will I be indulging my sweet tooth (remember my 30-day healthy eating challenge this month?), but I will enjoy passing out candy to cleverly costumed children as they politely say trick-or-treat.

In honor of this Halloween, and in the spirit of trying to find new pieces to complete my home office, I made a purchase from Z Gallerie. If you have been following along, I recently posted about redecorating my office and included items I would like to incorporate. One of them has just arrived. Any guesses which one? The timing could not be better — the glam metallic skull is here. I think it is the perfect (edgy?) touch to my home office and will double as great décor for the next couple of weeks!

Twenty Lessons I Learned in My 20’s

Life Lessons

Recently I’ve given some thought to what I have learned since coming out of college and landing my first job. With a looming birthday on the horizon and the ringing in of my late-twenties, I thought I would share what I’ve come up with so far.

1. You have to pay your dues: I remember coming out of college and thinking the world was my oyster because I had a degree. I quickly learned, like everyone else, I had to start somewhere and earn my stripes.

2. Your degree does not determine your career: Throughout my four years of college I was convinced I was going to go to law school and be a lawyer. Now, five years out, I have realized my political science degree is versatile and doesn’t lock me into one career track.

3. Try different jobs: I know everyone wants to show they have had a stable employment history on their resume, but I feel that your 20’s are the time to try different things and find your niche.

4. Practice patience: It takes time to get where you want to be, and it seldom happens overnight. Learn how to take everything in stride.

5. Network: Networking isn’t only important for landing your first job out of college. It’s helpful to engage in networking events throughout your career and maintain relationships with those contacts.

6. Find a mentor: I was fortunate to have mentors in college who guided me in terms of classes to take and career prospects. Having a mentor who can help you navigate your career choices is invaluable.

7. Embrace failure: Failure is your best friend. You learn from failures – how to handle them and bounce back.

8. Save for a rainy day: Learning to save from the time you have your very first “real” job will help you in the long run. Even if you can only afford to save $50 per paycheck, just getting in the habit of putting money away and having it for an emergency is a good strategy.

9. Start saving for retirement: I know this may sound strange and is probably not something you would think of when just starting out, but the earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow. If your company offers a matching contribution you are passing up free money if you do not take advantage of it.

10. Take care of yourself: Learn about nutrition and take care of your body. The earlier your start, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

11. Learn new skills: Keeping up with new technology is vital in the workforce, but also for personal development. Taking classes at a community college, online, or through workshops is a great way to gain new skills and enhance your marketability.

12. Believe in yourself: If you don’t believe in yourself nobody else will, either. It’s okay to have moments of weakness and doubt, but learning to trust your gut (which comes with age) will help you in every aspect of life. Having a few good friends to give you a pep talk when you need it doesn’t hurt, either!

13. Know how to relax: It can be hard in your twenties (even overwhelming at times!) to figure out how to get where you want to go. This is where the patience part comes into play…. But knowing when you need to take a break and unplug is critical to mental clarity and future success.

14. Saying ‘No’: Ever say ‘yes’ to something that you really didn’t want to do? It’s better to just say ‘no’ up-front rather than to take on more than you can handle, or worse, something that your heart isn’t in to.

15. Have a soundingboard: This can be a friend, parent, or mentor, but having someone that you respect and will give you honest advice is a valuable asset.

16. Challenge yourself: Whether it’s conquering your fear of flying or learning a foreign language, it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

17. Take a solo trip: Traveling by yourself can be exciting and scary at first, but once you have a trip or two under your belt it’s a good feeling knowing that you can go wherever you want whenever.

18. Find a hobby: It can be a sport or blogging, but having something that you love to do is a great way to unwind and make new friends.

19. Keep looking for opportunities: With luck, you have found a great job and enjoy the work. Look for ways to take on more responsibilities in the organization or to get involved with larger projects.

20. Live in the moment: Your twenties are the time to find yourself and your niche. It’s a great time to focus on yourself. Enjoy the years – they go fast!

What advice do you have for someone in their twenties?

Seeing Spots

Seeing Spots

On a whim, I decided to stop at H&M on my lunch break the other day. I have been good about limiting my shopping this fall, but there are a few things on my wish list that I would really like to acquire. One of those things is more leopard print!

It’s rare that I actually leave the office for lunch, but the thought of shopping for an hour made a dull Monday seem bright. As I speed-walked into the mall, I made a mental note of the items I had in my closet and those I was looking for. The usually bustling H&M was silent – the perfect time to shop! Since I had the store practically to myself, I did a quick walk-through before zeroing in on what I was looking for. Lots of sweaters and blazers made it hard to resist the impulse purchase, but I remained focused and wandered off to a small corner of the store. It was there that I spotted spots!

Seeing Spots

I’m picky with my animal prints. I tend to shy away from overly dramatic looks, preferring a more subtle style. As I pulled the dress from the rack, it was just what I wanted. The print wasn’t too bold, but it still made a statement and the length was office-appropriate. The best part was that the dress was $7. Yes, my friends, $7! With a price like that, I decided it wasn’t even worth trying on. I happily paid for my new dress and left the store – with enough time to stop at J. Crew and Banana Republic. All in all, this was a very successful lunch hour. I left the office, got some exercise, purchased something new, and didn’t break the bank in the process.