Month: January 2015

Looking Fine on Valentine’s

Looking Fine on Valentine's

Normally I am not one to start planning outfits weeks in advance, but with Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought I would help those of you early birds out with a bit of outfit inspiration.

So if you have already flooded your social calendar on the 14th with drinks and dinner invitations, it’s time to start raiding your closet (or hitting your favorite store) for that perfect ensemble. I’ve curated looks to suit the fancy dinner on the town, the casual night in, drinks with friends, and of course, the work appropriate infusion of red to get you started.

Happy Friday!

Snowmageddon

Connetquot State Park

We survived the blizzard of 2015 on Long Island. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we will probably spend the next three days digging out from all of this snow. If you missed my post on Monday, you definitely needed a good pair of snow boots to deal with this storm.

On Monday morning the weather was fairly calm, although it did look like snow was coming our way. I decided to get to work early so that I could leave early and beat the traffic on what would probably be slick roads. It started flurrying on my way to work and continued throughout the morning. By 12:30 p.m. I called it quits and headed home. The snow had become heavier and more consistent. If there is one thing I hate more than the cold, it is driving in snow. To my surprise, my commute home was a breeze. I guess it was good that I left early. Anticipating the storm, I had done all of my grocery shopping on Sunday, so I was excited to jump back into my pajamas and relax for the afternoon.

After a quick bite to eat I thought a pre-blizzard hike through Connetquot State Park would be nice. I figured the snow would keep me indoors for a day or two so some exercise was in order. The snow was accumulating by the time I left the house, but there is something peaceful about being outside and hearing the snow and ice crunch under your feet. The hike took about two hours and on the way back I noticed my initial footprints were completely covered. Good thing I wasn’t depending on them to find my way! It was one of the first hikes where I didn’t see any wildlife. Usually I spot some deer, but on this day there were none. Perhaps they, too, were preparing for the storm!

Connetquot State Park

Connetquot State Park

Connetquot State Park

By nightfall, Long Island had a travel ban requiring all cars to be off the roads by 11 p.m. so the snowplows could do their job undisturbed. It was a quiet night without the sound of cars and the reflections from their headlights. We were lucky and did not lose power despite the heavy snow and ice.

Thankfully, yesterday was a snow day and I fully embraced not having to go to work. I remained in my pajamas all day. The heaviest snow fell in the early morning hours of Tuesday and began to taper off around 11 a.m. The roads still looked completely covered and most neighbors had slowly begun the daunting task of digging themselves out. When the snow finally stopped it left more than twenty inches in some parts of the Island.

Snow Style

Snow Style

Better get those winter boots out (if you haven’t already!). If you live on Long Island you know we are bracing for a monstrous winter storm to hit this afternoon and last through Tuesday, bringing as much as 30 inches of snow.

Ironically, I had planned to do a post on winter boots long before this storm materialized, but since we are now in its path I’ve curated a few pairs of boots that can combat the elements in style. I’ve been a loyal buyer of North Face boots for a while now. They have always served me well and done what they were intended to do — keep my feet dry and warm. But stylish, they are not. My snow boots are clunky and could easily be mistaken for moon shoes. So I searched for functional yet fashionable boots that could be paired with skinny jeans or leggings, were sturdy enough for the snow and ice, and would complement any snow day outfit. I think the ones above fit the bill!

I hope everyone is prepared for the blizzard and you get to spend some quality time relaxing at home while sipping on hot chocolate. Stay safe!

Winter Wonders

One of the things I miss about the summer, aside from the weather, of course, is the fiery sunsets. The tones in the cooler months tend to be more muted, giving way to light pinks and pale oranges. Quite a contrast from some of the more dramatic palettes I captured months earlier. But I am learning to love a different kind of beauty found in cloud formations, snow blanketing the ground, cold morning fog on the water and the reflection of sun glistening through naked trees.

Happy Friday!

Fog in Port Jefferson Harbor - Danfords Hotel and Marina

{Morning fog in Port Jefferson Harbor}

Traveling to Lake Placid, New York

{En route to Lake Placid, New York}

Connetquot State Park

{A quiet trail in Connetquot State Park}

Heckscher Park - Huntington, New York

{Late afternoon stroll through Heckscher Park}

Winter Sunset

{Winter Sunset}

How to Get Organized

How to Get Organized

Being organized was not something I thought I struggled with…until the other night. After losing track of the days and suddenly remembering that my car payment was due, I took inventory of other things I may have forgotten (or almost forgotten!) to manage. Good thing I did, because soon after I went rummaging through a stack of papers, I found two unopened and yes, unpaid bills! How I managed to forget about them – who knows! Clearly, I am not putting my organizational skills to good use in 2015. I guess my tried-and-true tactic of writing due dates on calendars (you remember those old things, right?) could use an update.

So, in an effort to remedy the organizational mess I have created for myself, I am going to implement a few tactics.

1. Put all bills in a central spot. I tend to lose track of where I put important papers, hence how I found two unopened bills in the last possible spot one would ever think to look. Moving forward, my bills will have a designated place that I check weekly.

2. Use my iPhone calendar and set reminders. I do use the calendar feature, but rarely pay attention to reminders. I’m going to start putting due dates in and set the reminder for one week prior to the day before it is due. This should help me — I hope!

3. Take advantage of automatic payments. I always believed that making the payments myself kept me on track. Obviously, I was mistaken.

4. Utilize Evernote and Wunderlist (and other organizational apps). I downloaded Evernote and I love that it syncs across all of my Apple devices. I just came across Wunderlist, and like Evernote, it’s a great way to make to-do lists and stay on track.

Since 2015 is my year of self-imposed self-improvement (sugar detox=check!, going to the gym/yoga= check!, waking-up earlier=…check minus?) why not make my life easier and get a good organizational system in place?

I’d love to hear how you keep on top of everything. What organizational system works for you?

I am grateful to Kristin of Not Intent on Arriving for featuring me as part of her Writer Wednesday series. Head over to her blog to read my thoughts on writing, travel and where I draw inspiration from!

Embracing Imperfections

Embracing Imperfections

Since turning 28 a few months back, I feel as though a lightbulb went off in my head. For years, I’ve been putting off really taking care of myself — even after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I’ve gone through phases where this notion of self-preservation has come upon me and I’d take an interest in cooking, grocery shopping and so on. But those times were few and far between and certainly didn’t last.

These past months I’ve given some thought to what it means to be healthy and how I can reach my goals. Aside from my sugar detox (Day #15 already! Can you believe it?), I’ve realized that I’ve been ignoring my skin. I’ve always had sensitive skin (if you’ve been following along you know that Stila’s products have been a game-changer for me!), but I’ve spent little time trying to improve my skin from the inside out. For years I bought every available product to cover and conceal my blemishes, scarring and uneven skin tone, but never gave a thought to the root of the problem.

Only in the past couple of years have I felt comfortable going makeup-free at home — let alone out to run errands! But as I get older the excitement that comes with being made-up has faded. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look my best when I am out and about or at work, but there is something very freeing about going au-naturel when you get the chance. For starters, I have noticed a big improvement in the texture of my skin by skipping makeup. It feels smoother, less irritated and prone to fewer breakouts. Next, reducing my sugar intake has done wonders for my skin. My once dull complexion has been replaced by a glow.

Embracing your imperfections is tough. My skin has always been something that I was self-conscious about. But slowly I’ve learned that small improvements to my diet or my stress level have benefited my overall well-being and skin. It has come along way from where it was five years ago, and so have I. I’m proud to embrace my not-so-flawless skin and keep working to improve it rather than smother it.

Sensible Snacking

Healthy Snacks

Day twelve and I am still going strong with my sugar detox! When I make it to Trader Joe’s before work, and decline an afternoon Starbucks run with colleagues, you know I am serious. This time around I feel much better about banishing sugar from my lifestyle — it feels attainable!

I am so grateful to everyone who commented on my last post and offered support and encouragement. I thought I would share which snacks have been helping me beat the sugar cravings.

Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats & Peanut Butter Fiberful Granola Bars: These taste more like a candy bar than a granola bar and contain 9 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar. They are a great way to satisfy my afternoon cravings for something sweet without derailing my detox. They come in a variety of different flavors, but the peanut butter and chocolate combination is my favorite.

Walnuts: I’ve been making oatmeal daily for breakfast, and since the only way I can eat it is with walnuts, I keep them on hand for snacks throughout the day.

Frozen Peanut Butter Bananas: Bananas have never appealed (no pun intended) to me, but thanks to Elana over at The Preppy Post Grad, frozen bananas and peanut butter have become my go-to morning snack. I made a few the other night, and after I covered them in peanut butter, I rolled them in chopped walnuts and then froze them. Chocolate or Nutella covered bananas are another great option. The best part is that by the time I get to work they have defrosted enough and are ready to be enjoyed.

Tangerines: I might have to do a tangerine detox next (kidding, of course!), but seriously, I could eat these all day long. They are portable and convenient when you need just a little sugar pick-me-up. Unlike with processed sugar snacks, the fiber in fruit will let your body absorb the fructose in a more regulated way.

Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn: This popcorn with olive oil is delicious! It’s not too salty and ideal for when those late night hunger pains come calling.

Here’s to a happy and healthy Friday!

Sayonara Sugar!

Trader Joe's Very Green Smoothie

Hello! My name is Vanessa and I am addicted to sugar.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth – but in recent years, especially after thyroid cancer, I realized this was a habit that I needed to kick. Just to give you some perspective: I’ve been known to eat an entire bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups in one sitting, a chocolate croissant constituted breakfast, and I often skipped meals. My morning routine consisted of a trip to Starbucks and a tall White Chocolate Mocha to start my day. Most days I opted for a breakfast sandwich, but often a croissant or doughnut made the menu.

I realized the magnitude of the problem when I began to acknowledge that every day I was consuming junk food — lots of it – and I never felt well. I did not control my sweet tooth; it controlled me. If I saw cookies, I HAD to have them, even if I wasn’t hungry, at the expense of replacing good calories with bad. This may not sound serious, but my lack of willpower is. I could not eat just one, or two cookies — I would eat however many were available, and like the bag of Reese’s, packages of Oreo’s have suffered the same fate.

A few months ago I saw a nutritionist, but her approach was not for me. Over the years, plenty of concerned friends and family have attempted to instill good nutritional habits in me, but I brushed them off and downplayed my sugar consumption. Last fall I tried to swear off sweets, but after three weeks of feeling like I was starving and suffering a dull headache daily I caved in.

This time around I want to make the change to a healthy lifestyle and take better care of myself. I’ve tried to eliminate any temptation to cheat and have a cookie and I have been reading about others who have broken the sugar curse. I mentioned in a previous post that having a plan is instrumental for success, so here is what I’m doing to succeed:

Stock the kitchen with healthy snacks. I love Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Fiber Bars and make sure there are a couple of boxes in the house (and my office). When I feel like I want something sweet, these are my go-to snacks — and they only have six grams of sugar!

Start making green smoothies. Trader Joe’s has delicious smoothies, but sites like Greatist have a plethora of healthy smoothie recipes to choose from, which get sent right to my inbox.

Avoid sweets at all cost. I know nutritionists say that if you want a cookie, you should have one. But that model does not work for me. I am much better off avoiding it all together.

Stick to a fitness plan. The gym and an exercise routine are important when you are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and they have really helped me stay motivated and watch what I eat.

Learn more about nutrition. I want to order Sarah Wilson’s book, I Quit Sugar. In it, she has an eight-week detox program along with healthy recipes that will help me create daily menus to keep me on track.

I have now gone a little more than a week (10 days to be exact) without sugar or caffeine. I have been plagued with dull headaches almost daily and haven’t noticed any increase in my energy levels yet, but I am determined to make 2015 the start of a lifestyle that does not involve sugar.

Do you have any tips for kicking sugar to the curb? How do you avoid temptation?

Leather & Leopard

Madden Girl - DSW

What would a New Year be without a new pair of shoes (or two!)? I love a simple patent leather heel for the office. It’s classic and goes with everything. When I spotted these Madden Girls on a lunchtime run to DSW, I knew they were too good to pass up…especially since they were only $20!

Adrienne Vittadini Leopard Flats - DSW

And with my new leopard obsession, I searched for a pair that would roar casually but be tame enough in a professional setting. The Adrienne Vittadini flats met both requirements and are as comfortable as they are stylish. Another great find at DSW!

New Year, New Looks

New Year, New Looks

Happy Friday and first full week of the New Year! I hope your 2015 is off to a good start.

The past couple of weeks I did some serious damage in the shopping department. I guess I should be glad I didn’t swear that off as part of my New Year’s Resolutions! Cozy oversized sweaters and, of course, sweaters adorned with bling had to be welcomed into my closet to ring in the New Year. Not to worry, my purchases will appear on the blog soon enough.

In the meantime, I am going to take a shopping hiatus. Well, at least until this month’s credit card bill gets paid. But there are a few items that I am loving for 2015.

I purchased the J. Crew pavé link bracelet as a Chirstmas gift to myself, and the matching pavé link necklace has now made it onto my wish list. Fortunately for my wallet, it is sold out online! But some items are more needs than wants. I have been wearing the same black winter coat (which has served me well!) for longer than I would like to admit. It is time for an upgrade this winter. I’m gravitating toward a neutral coat that will go with anything and be a staple for many winters to come. The Karen Miller belted coat is the perfect choice, as it is elegant and has a nice shape to it. Also, I am in desperate need of a cute beanie and a pair of driving gloves; having a heated steering wheel can only get you so far. And while we are on the subject, a pair of over-the-knee boots (those grey suede Stuart Weitzman’s fit the bill!) would help get me through the long, cold days ahead, too!