Month: October 2015

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice

Pumpkin Pandemonium - Trader Joe's

My favorite holiday has finally arrived! Note, I’m using the word “favorite” loosely here. Any holiday that promotes the large consumption of chocolate (and where it’s given out for free!) is a winner (#hidethereese’s). I admit that I never used to care much about Halloween, but as I’ve gotten older it has grown on me. From pumpkin and apple picking, to painting pumpkins and pulling out some spooky decor, it’s a holiday that makes me feel like a kid again — and I love going through old photos of when I used to dress up and go Trick-or-Treating.

Pumpkin Pandemonium - Trader Joe's

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been stalking the shelves at Trader Joe’s, which I have declared the place to be this season for all-things-pumpkin. And I can tell you that the pumpkin waffles and pecan pumpkin oatmeal will satisfy your cravings, too. The waffles have a subtle hint of pumpkin flavor and are perfect for a quick breakfast…or a snack during the day. I enjoy them with a light coating of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon, but they can easily be eaten with syrup. The pecan pumpkin oatmeal was something I normally wouldn’t gravitate toward, but it piqued my interest. This oatmeal is seriously sweet — and please keep in mind that this statement is coming from a sugar addict! If you don’t care for sweet oatmeal, I would suggest adding regular oats to the package to soften the taste.

As you can see, I’ve been enjoying #pumpkinpandemonium. I am always a bit sad when I must say goodbye to my Pumpkin Spice Lattes in favor of something more festive, like Peppermint Mocha Lattes. So get your pumpkin fixings while you can — and if you’re smart, you’ll buy extra and freeze them so that it can always be pumpkin season in your home!

Have you tried the pumpkin waffles or pecan pumpkin oatmeal from Trader Joe’s?

Stealing the Spotlight: Aveda’s Outer Peace Cooling Masque

Aveda Outer Peace Cooling Masque

I never thought I would be snapping selfies in my bathroom while applying my Outer Peace Cooling Masque from Aveda. But that’s just what I’m bringing you today. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I have sensitive skin. I’ve struggled to find not only makeup that agrees with it, but also skincare products that work for it. And then I landed on this miracle masque.

Aveda Outer Peace Cooling Masque

Aveda is one of the best places to go if you have sensitive skin. I’ve being frequenting them for years to have my eyebrows waxed (they have special wax for delicate skin), and recently looked into their facials. Can you believe that I have never had a facial? Part of it is that I am concerned about how my skin will react. Stay tuned to see if I go through with it or chicken out, like in years past.

If you’re like me (and haven’t indulged in a facial either), this cooling masque is the next best thing. It’s a bit pricey at $37, but a little goes a long way when using this product. For something that can help with redness and irritation issues, you may agree that it is a small price to pay for clearer skin. I’ve been using this masque weekly for over a year, and aside from turning into the Incredible Hulk for 5-10 minutes (just kidding, but it is green…perhaps it can double as my Halloween costume?!), it leaves my skin silky smooth…and like I just had an expensive facial.

Aveda’s Outer Peace Cooling Masque is a game-changer. It lacks the drying ingredients found in other products and is formulated from a blend of pure plant extracts. The cooling sensation calms redness and irritation on contact, and leaves my skin looking flawless. An added bonus is its aroma of organic lemon tea tree and rose geranium. It will have you feeling like you’re at the spa in no time!

Have you tried Aveda’s Outer Peace Cooling Masque?

Wednesday Wants from a Surprise Sale

Calling all fashionistas! The Kate Spade Surprise Sale is going on now. Hurry…it ends on October 29th at 11:59 PM and you don’t want to miss up to 75% off your favorite items.

Even though I don’t need anything at the moment, I couldn’t help but browse the site. What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t alert you to great buys and stylish finds? So I’m doing this for you, my lovely readers.

If you’re like me and and have your closet well stocked for fall, take a minute to remind yourself that the holidays are coming up…and these pieces make the perfect gifts. Then you’ll spend the next hour trying to rationalize any one of the following purchases for yourself…Southport Avenue Oden bag, I’m coming for you!

Here are my picks from the sale:

Southport Avenue Oden

{Southport Avenue Oden}

Call to Action Georgie

{Call to Action Georgie}

Wellesley Neda

{Wellesley Neda}

Grant Park Katie

{Grant Park Katie}

Jayna Sunglasses

{Jayna Sunglasses}

Window Seat Bouquet Small Necklace

{Window Seat Bouquet Small Necklace}

Better get to shopping. This sale won’t be around much longer!

Images courtesy of Kate Spade.

Fall, Foliage, and Festivities

How is it the end of October already? While I’ve been loving all of the pretty fall foliage, the warm-ish days, my morning Pumpkin Spice Latte, and decorating pumpkins, this month has escaped me. In just a few days it will be November, I will have an upcoming birthday, and we will be talking about Thanksgiving and the holidays. Big box stores, don’t think I haven’t noticed your not-so-subtle hints about what’s to come!

But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these last few October days and Halloween (what are we all going to be?). I will slow down enough to watch the leaves that are changing right before my eyes; to take in those fleeting days where it’s chilly in the morning but warm by mid-day; and to start embracing fall!

P.S. I’ve teamed up with 6 lovely bloggers to giveaway a $120 Nordstrom giftcard! Be sure to check out my Instagram and follow the rules to enter before October 29th at 10pm EST. Good luck!

Fall Foliage

{Fall Foliage}

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

{Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Yes, please!}

Mossimo Plaid

{Mossimo Plaid from Target + Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick}

Starbucks

{A lovely greeting from Starbucks}

Fall Beach Day

{Fall Beach Day}

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

I am excited to share that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award! This award is given to newbie bloggers by other bloggers as a way to support and promote each other. It is great to be recognized for this creative space, and I am beyond grateful to my loyal readers for visiting my site, their lovely comments, and all of their support.

I would like to thank Michele at Classic & Gray for this nomination. Michele and I connected through Instagram, began following each other’s blogs, and soon realized we had a lot in common. I love Michele’s fashion sense and the story behind what inspired her to start blogging. It’s a site I return to frequently and one that I think you will enjoy reading as well. So head over and show her some love!

The Rules:
1. Post your award to your blog.
2. Answer the questions that you were given from the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate a few new bloggers you’ve discovered.
4. Create 10 new questions for the nominees.
5. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog.

Here are my answers to Michele’s questions:

1. What is your favorite type of food?

Does chocolate count as a food? No? Well, then anything that you would find on a brunch menu is my favorite food. In case you couldn’t tell — and don’t know me — I have a serious sweet tooth. Since the question is “type” and not “favorite food,” I’m going to answer this by simply saying — anything sweet!

2. Who is your style icon?

While I appreciate the fashion sense of icons from Audrey Hepburn to Charlize Theron, these days I find myself inspired by the looks I see scrolling through Instagram, what’s on trend for the season, and what’s in my closet.

3. Describe your fashion philosophy?

My fashion philosophy is simple. I believe it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lounging in yoga pants just as much as the next girl, but when it comes to leaving the house I’m all about being as stylish as possible. I think when you look good, you feel good and I happen to feel my best when I’m all dressed up!

4. What is your favorite fall trend?

I’m slightly obsessed with over-the-knee boots at the moment…okay, really obsessed! They are the only fall staple missing from my wardrobe. I’ve found a few affordable options and I plan on purchasing a pair as a birthday present to myself.

5. Best advice for a new blogger?

Be yourself, find your own voice, and give it time. Blogging is a lot of work, and growing your audience takes time. When starting out, don’t get discouraged about your stats — how many comments and likes your post received, and how many followers you have. You should blog for the love of writing and connecting with an audience and you will eventually find your niche.

6. Coffee or tea?

Definitely, coffee! A White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks is my drink of choice.

7. Go-to stores to shop at?

I’ll try to narrow them down, but my list gets longer each year. I love LOFT for their classic pieces, and because they are the only store where I can get skinny jeans in petite and not have to shorten them. Banana Republic is my go-to for all things work wear — every one of my dresses is from Banana and all of my pants. When I need blazers and summer dresses, I head over to H&M. And then there is Target. I always tell myself that I’m just going to browse, but Mossimo is one of my favorite brands and I seem to be unable to leave the store without buying at least one piece from the collection.

8. What is your favorite blog for inspiration?

There are so many wonderful blogs out there and I read lots (sorry, I can’t quantify that number for you) on a daily basis. I am particularly loyal to my friend Christina’s blog, Musings of a Mom, Esq. She is a full-time lawyer, wife, mother, fashionista…and blogger. Her blog was one of the first blogs I ever read, which planted a seed in my head to start my own. Aside from that, I love perusing The Fresh Exchange Blog for travel and lifestyle tips, Camille Styles for entertaining advice and beauty reviews, Elana Lyn for career advice, and Memorandum for work attire inspiration.

9. If you could get a free trip anywhere, where would you go?

I wish I could say somewhere exotic, but after spending some time in California last spring my heart is still in San Francisco. Now that it is getting colder on the East Coast, a West Coast adventure would be most welcome!

10. What is one thing you want your readers to know?

I am so thankful for my readers and their support! My blog has opened up a whole new world for me. I am the happiest I have ever been writing new content every day and engaging with my audience. When I left my full-time job at the end of July I was hesitant about this next chapter. But it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I get to spend my days writing about topics that I’m passionate about and making new friends with people who constantly inspire me. What could be better than that?

My Nominations:
Christina at Musings of a Mom, Esq.
Jalisa at The Style Contour
Samantha at Gold Coast Girl Blog
Annessa at Seeking Sunshine
Jamie at Treats and Trends Blog

My Questions for the Nominees:

1. Describe yourself in three words?

2. Why did you start blogging?

3. What’s your favorite way to spend an afternoon?

4. What does the perfect outfit look like to you?

5. If you could move anywhere in the world for one year, where would you go?

6. What three things in your life could you not live without?

7. Business or casual attire?

8. What advice would you give to a recent college graduate?

9. If you could have dinner with any living person, who would you choose?

10. If you won the lotto, you would _____________?

I hope you enjoyed reading my answers to these questions. A big thank you to Michele at Classic & Gray for the nomination!

Halloween DIY: Pumpkin Painting

Painted Pumpkins

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen one of my pumpkins pleading with me to be decorated (don’t believe me? See the image below!). Nothing is sadder than a pleading pumpkin, so I had to oblige. As promised, my pumpkins are making their way onto the blog. And guess what? They’re all decked out for the occasion.

Pleading Pumpkin

While I’ve seen a lot of great pumpkin decorating tutorials, from decoupaging (I want to try that next year) to copper pumpkins, I took a lax approach with mine. I started out with two large pumpkins, of the traditional orange kind, and four small white pumpkins from Trader Joe’s.

In the interest of full disclosure, Martha Stewart I am not, and my success rate with DIY’s may be at a dismal 10%. There was that issue with carving a pumpkin one year…and trying to make a monogrammed mouse pad another. But you don’t know until you try, right? Now that I’ve disclosed my shortcomings, let’s talk about the pumpkins.

I was actually pleased with how they turned out…despite buying the wrong acrylic colors and having to substitute ceiling paint from Behr at the last minute (thank goodness the ceiling in my home office happens to be white!).

Painted Pumpkins

Painted Pumpkins

In honor of my grandmother, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I wanted to make a pumpkin for her. So I took one of the smaller pumpkins (which was already white, but ironically needed a coat of white paint), and painted little pink ribbons around it.

Painted Pumpkins

Of course, for my own pumpkin, I painted it pink and drew skulls on it with black magic marker for an edgy finish.

Painted Pumpkins

The two larger pumpkins are both wearing the Behr paint that’s not-for-pumpkins, and I added an acrylic crystal gloss to one and a gold sparkle gloss to the other. I decided to add a monogram to the plain white pumpkin and drew a free-hand “V” with the black magic marker (that calligraphy class I took came in handy).

Painted Pumpkins

If you are planning to paint your pumpkins this year, I have some good news…you can’t mess up. I tried a few different designs, and what I didn’t like I just painted over. The paint, on the other hand, should be looked at carefully before purchasing to make sure that the bottle says “white” and not “crystal.” But fear not, even if you make a rookie mistake like I did, it seems like any kind of paint will work. And thanks to Behr for being a great color in my home office — and base coat on my pumpkins!

Will you be decorating pumpkins this year?

Stealing the Spotlight: Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick

I enjoyed sharing my favorite new beauty product with all of you so much last week that I decided to make Stealing the Spotlight somewhat of a regular series. This week the little addition to my makeup bag is from Neutrogena…and is completely affordable, as in under $9.

Neutrogena’s MoistureSmooth Color Stick is ideal for keeping your lips soft, while also giving a subtle hint of color. I picked this stick up in Rite Aid, of all places (gotta love drug store buys), after striking out with finding the Warm Caramel shade at Ulta, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Target.

Despite temps still being mild on the East Coast, my lips were already starting to show signs of dryness. Not a good look when you want to apply those dark lipstick hues! So after hearing about this moisture stick I decided I needed to scoop one up. After just one application, my rough lips felt velvety soft and I liked that the Warm Carmel shade was neutral and could be worn daily. This stick goes on easily, and lasts for hours, but unlike lipstick, you don’t have to worry about this product getting all over your teeth — it stays where you put it.

With eight available shades, and a blend of fruit extracts, Shea butter, and mango (this product smells delicious), it is the simplest way to rejuvenate the texture of your lips. And did I mention that you will start seeing an improvement after just three days? Although I have a feeling you’ll want to keep using it long after that.

Have you tried Neutrogena’s MoistureSmooth Color Stick yet?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As you probably know by now, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember that last year my 86-year-old grandmother underwent her second mastectomy. Talk about being a #bosslady! Well, today is her one-year cancer-versary and I’m happy to report that she is healthy…and as sassy as ever!

Her recurrence of cancer (she underwent her first mastectomy at age 69), coupled with my own battle with thyroid cancer has served as an important reminder for me about how fragile your health can be. I remember going to countless doctors and surgeons last year with her, and hearing every diagnosis from “we don’t see anything suspicious on the mammogram,” to “this is Paget’s Disease of the breast.” She had three mammograms and countless biopsies before we had a definitive diagnosis…a test to her strength even at her age. The official diagnosis was Paget’s Disease, a rare type of breast cancer that accounts for less than 5% of all breast cancer cases. I had never heard of Paget’s Disease before my grandmother’s diagnosis, and although it’s rare and slow growing, it still warranted swift action.

I remember my grandmother’s unwavering decision to undergo a mastectomy, even when the surgeon suggested a course of radiation totaling a few times a week for many months. I recall thinking how brave she was and admiring her strength during this difficult time.

Even after all of the consultations, and testing, she remained upbeat and positive — making friends with the nurses both before and after her surgery.

Her journey reminded me of a few lessons I witnessed as her caregiver:

1. You are always a survivor. Unfortunately, cancer can return at any time and it’s best to stay vigilant about your health. My grandmother remarked (along with the doctors) at how surprised she was to receive another breast cancer diagnosis, after almost twenty years of follow-up care. As annoying as all of those follow-ups may be, it’s critical to keep your doctors involved in your progress…and go for any routine testing that they recommend, like mammograms and sonograms.

2. Stay on top of your health. If something doesn’t feel right to you, get it checked. And don’t be afraid to go for second…or third opinions if you aren’t satisfied with the outcome. My grandmother’s diagnosis came about not through any testing or doctor’s visit, but because she knew something wasn’t right with her body. Despite a few doctors dismissing her claims, others immediately recognized her symptoms.

3. Keep a positive attitude. My grandmother was a testament to the power of staying positive. Every time we went to the hospital for testing it was like palling around with a celebrity. She knew many nurses by name and she would always chat with them. Some would even seek us out just to say hello. Being positive about your diagnosis and outcome can aid in recovery time and have beneficial effects on your overall health.

4. Have someone with you. At any age, a mastectomy is a major operation. Prior to surgery, there is lots of pre-testing and it can get confusing to keep it all straight…especially for the patient. Having someone with you at appointments can be helpful when trying to precisely recall the doctor’s orders — whether or not you should take your normal medicine before surgery, what time you should arrive at the hospital, and when to stop eating and drinking.

5. Take it easy on yourself. I remember the morning after my grandmother had her surgery she was already itching to get out of the hospital. She thought she had regained her energy and was going to bounce back immediately to her old self. But there is significant follow-up care after a mastectomy (not to get too graphic here), with temperatures being routinely taken to check for infection and bandages that need to be cleaned and changed. Your body needs as much rest as it can get so it can recoup and keep you healthy.

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it is estimated that there will be 231,840 cases of invasive breast cancer in 2015. And approximately 40,290 people will die from breast cancer.

To all those battling breast cancer — survivors — and caregivers — breast cancer may be tough, but you are tougher. Stay strong and warrior on!

A New Color for Hue

OPI Nail Polish

By now, it should come as no surprise that I love my manicure’s. I went from a girl who never had her nails done (thanks, to my equestrian days) to one who always dons a fresh polish (even if it’s right before kickboxing class. Whoops!). So naturally I have not only a favorite brand…or two…or three, but a few polishes that I whip out of my mani arsenal when I’m in need of some color in my life.

I’ve talked about OPI’s Taupe-less Beach being a tried and true favorite. Its soft grey hue is not only a great fall tone, but also a nice everyday color. But since it was 33 degrees when I woke up and went for a Starbucks run yesterday, I’ve decided to dust off some of my favorite winter tones, too. Not to worry, these colors can work just as well for fall.

Some of my favorites include:

In the Cable Car-Pool Lane (from OPI and currently on my nails): My love for deep burgundy tones this season extends to my nails as well. I love pulling this polish out and wearing it through September and October. Its deep plum hue makes a dramatic statement on your nails…without looking too ghoulish. But since it’s October, that may be the look you seek. Add an extra coat for a darker finish, if that’s the case!

German-icure (OPI): This deep, shimmering red-ish burgundy is a staple around the holidays. When I get bored of my standard red, this color is the next best thing.

Big Apple Red (OPI): In my opinion, this is the nicest shade of red out there. It’s bold, but not too overbearing and looks great with a casual outfit or office ensemble.

Miss You-Niverse (OPI): Here comes the wild card of the bunch. It’s so out of my normal color comfort zone that I’m uncertain how to describe it (it was purchased for me by a friend). If you like dark tones, this one is for hue (get it?). This color is a deep blue-ish, purple that I plan to wear later this month. Actually, it looks more black with a subtle hint of blue once on your nails. But it’s fun to wear occasionally.

Of course, a new season requires a new nail polish. And since I’m a loyal OPI wearer, I was only too happy to try the myOPI feature on their site. I happened to stumble upon it when I was researching some of their new colors for fall. This helpful interactive tool asks you two simple questions: your preferred nail length and your skin tone. After that, it selects a color based upon your answers and decides what would look good on you. You can even see the shade up-close and personal. For me, myOPI went with Imperial, a nice violet. Coincidentally, I wanted to add something from that color family into my polish portfolio.

What are some of your favorite nail polish colors for fall?

The Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

For some, shopping on a budget is hard. Think back to those lean college years where you had to have the latest seasonal fashion, but there just weren’t enough zeros in your bank account to make it work. Then you had to make the agonizing decision between forgoing said item or scrimping and saving to buy it. If this struggle sounds familiar, then you will understand my excitement when I first learned about Neely by VNB.

I can vividly remember in college strolling through the chic Georgetown neighborhood trying to stretch my money so I could buy everything on my wish list. I met Neely, the creator behind Neely by VNB, when I was at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in August. Her Airstream trailer, which converts into a neat boutique dubbed the “NEELmobile,” stood out amongst the other vendors, and her stylish pieces grabbed my attention.

After browsing for a bit, I went home and read about the company and the concept behind it. Neely’s goal was to provide college students on rural campuses with fashionable options while giving them the full shopping experience. She brings items at affordable prices with her traveling boutique to select campuses and offers a well-curated selection of shoes, bags, jewelry, and accessories with the college student in mind.

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

But her company isn’t solely for co-eds. I loved the mix of classic, preppy, and casual items in her collection. And once on her site, I spotted the Evie bag. This bag is the perfect size for toting heavy books to and from class, and if you are a working professional, it can hold everything you need for a full day at the office.

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

I opted for the blue and white Evie bag and loved how the color popped against the soft brown leather. This tote made me feel like a college student all over again, and I even stuffed a few of my old textbooks in it for memory’s sake. It was easy to carry, provided lots of room, and had a space for my cell phone and essentials in a zippered pocket (it can also accommodate a laptop). I even remarked at one point during this photo shoot that I would have loved to have had this bag when I was in school.

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

Speaking of options…with numerous colors available for the center stripe, the only difficult decision you have to make will be whether to choose your favorite color or your school’s. Don’t see a combination that suits you? You can go with a custom Evie bag by selecting from a list of colors that match your taste. Then you can be sure that you’ll be the only one on campus (or in the office) sporting that exact bag. And for the price ($70, pictured; $80 for the custom Evie), this is definitely a bag I would have in multiple colors!

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

Whether you are a college student or a working professional, Neely by VNB will have something for you. From cute flats for class to boots for the boardroom, you’ll be sure to be living in style…without breaking the bank!

Photography by Vlad Polchaninoff
Photo Location: Dowling College, Oakdale, New York