Month: December 2016

Farewell, Two Thousand Sixteen

Times Square, NYC

Well, friends, the time has come to bid farewell to 2016. It’s hard to believe that another year is coming to a close and that I am writing the last post of the year. As I have gotten older, it feels like time has sped up. One year leads into another, and sometimes if it weren’t for Facebook reminding me of what I have done in years past, I might not remember significant events.

I am thankful for every year — despite the high’s and low’s that may accompany them. Each year I learn something new and I grow as a person. So when we get to this time in the year where we start counting down the days until the New Year, I like to reflect on all that has occurred over the last 365 days.

Two thousand sixteen came with unexpected hurdles, challenges, and ultimately a renewed perspective that led to a stronger me. But I am grateful for each one of those struggles. Along with the year’s low points, like learning that my antithyroglobulin antibody levels have increased (indicating a possible recurrence of thyroid cancer) and awaiting instructions on further testing (which has tried my patience), came plenty of positive notes. This year marked a career change and a return to the 9-to-5 life with a significant shift toward a more hopeful and optimistic mindset. I’ve challenged myself to try new things, like taking an InDesign class at the Art League of Long Island (a full review of the class will be coming to the blog soon), and I have experienced some of the benefits that accompany daily meditation. This year taught me that my strength is more formidable than I ever knew, that I can conquer whatever is in front of me, and that my only roadblock sometimes is myself.

This year, I am avoiding New Year’s resolutions, given that they never stick. Last year, I vowed to eat better, become a morning person, exercise more, and limit my stops at Starbucks. Sadly, all of those things fell by the wayside — after the first week of 2016, no less! I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably never be a morning person (really, does anything good happen before 10 am, anyway?), that eating better will be a constant struggle, that sometimes I don’t want to wake up early on a Saturday and go to kickboxing, and that giving up Starbucks is not realistic. We will file these things under the “work in progress” category.

So, yes, this year has certainly had its share of difficult moments, but with each passing year, I get more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and standing in my truth. As always, I am grateful for this site and the wonderful blogging community, which constantly offers me support and encouragement. Creating content and having it resonate with you, my readers, is an incredible feeling. Thank you for all of your comments and engagement in 2016. I am looking forward to 2017 and being right back here on Wednesday, January 4th with fresh content.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Christmas in the City

New York Public Library

{Patience and Fortitude at the New York Public Library}

On Monday, I finally crossed something off of my December agenda when I braved the crowds and visited the tree at Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library, and saw store windows that were decorated for the holidays.

Since a lot of people were off on Monday, and the trains were running at an off-peak rate, the hour-and-a-half trek into the City was standing-room-only. Ironically, given how busy the trains were, the City seemed to be operating at its normal hustle-and-bustle.

City Views

{City Views}

The overcast sky gave way to intermittent drizzle and light mist, but the rain mostly held off and the mild temps (47 degrees) made walking many miles around the City comfortable. Of course, no stop in the City would be complete for me without visiting at least one university — in this case, two. I hit both the bookstores at New York University and Columbia University — just because it makes me feel like a college student again.

Gregorys Coffee

{Coffee at Gregorys}

Marimekko

{A quick stop at Marimekko}

After walking around lower Manhattan (and finding my way into a Marrimekko store), it was time for a well-deserved (and needed) coffee. I stopped at Gregorys Coffee, which I highly recommend for your morning cup of Joe. The reasonably priced coffee, coupled with the cozy lounge feel, made it a win in my book (it was so good that I later grabbed a second cup at a different location).

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Plaza

{Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza}

Rockefeller Center

{Rockefeller Center views}

The Tree at Rockefeller Center

{The tree at Rockefeller Center}

This year, I got one of the best views of the tree at Rockefeller Center I have ever had (last year, thanks to SantaCon, all I could get was a brief glimpse as crowds of people ushered me along).

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Window

{Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window}

I enjoyed walking past the store windows, seeing the New York Public Library at night with Patience and Fortitude in their holiday attire, and making a brief stop in Times Square, where the ball is ready to make its debut in just under a week.

Horses in NYC

{Horses in Times Square}

I’m so glad that I was able to close out the year with one last trip into the City and that I got to see all of the beautiful sights of the season.

Here are a few other glimpses of my day in the City:

Pastries at Eataly

{Delicious pastries at Eataly}

Max Brenner Chocolate

{Max Brenner Chocolate Bar}

The Tree at Radio City Music Hall

{The tree at Radio City Music Hall}

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed some downtime afterwards. I’ll be back here on Friday with my last post of 2016, where I will share some highlights and reflect on the year gone by.

Procrastination, Presents, and Podcasts

It is probably fair to say that I am one of the last people to get moving on their holiday shopping (the perils of having a 9-to-5 job!). Yes, I will be doing as much shopping as one person can humanly do today — so think of me as you likely have your presents all wrapped under the tree and are spending your Friday resting up before the big weekend.

Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in my very first podcast with Ashley Jefferson from Post UnderGrad Life. The podcast is now live on iTunes (you can find it by searching “Post UnderGrad Life”) or you can listen to it here on SoundCloud. If you have free time this holiday weekend, download it to hear me talk about my career path, offer career advice to recent graduates, and share my top three tips that have helped me navigate postgraduate life.

Merry Christmas and happy holiday weekend! I’ll be taking Monday off, but will be back with new content on Wednesday.

Christmas Tree Envy

{Christmas tree envy}

Trader Joe's Snowman Cake

{A cute holiday cake from Trader Joe’s}

Cozy Fire at Honu

{Staying toasty over dinner at Honu}

Plaid Shirt from Gap

{My expression when I realized my new Gap shirt matched my Starbucks cup}

Red Nails from OPI

{Red nails from OPI}

The (Seriously) Last-Minute Gift Guide

The (Seriously) Last-Minute Gift Guide

So here we are…down to the wire. In T-minus four days it will be Christmas and you haven’t even started shopping. Don’t despair (I say this as a reminder to myself as well). We are getting dangerously close to the point of no return when it comes to online shopping and having your presents wrapped and under the tree in time. With that said, plenty of retailers make shopping in-store a breeze. If you have a long list, I would suggest hitting up Target, Ulta, Sephora, Banana Republic, Anthropologie, and Gap for all of your gifting needs. I was at Gap over the weekend, and their inventory (combined with the sales!) made for easy shopping. The plaid shirt above was a recent purchase of mine, and given how soft the fabric is and how affordable the price was, this gift is a no-brainer. Of course, the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick set (bonus points: it includes the glitterazzi top coat) is a gift that is hard to beat.

Regardless of what you decide to purchase for your loved ones, it is crunch time. I hope this last-minute gift guide (along with this one and this one) have helped you out this holiday season.

Stay sane and happy shopping!

Monday Mantra: Be Present

December Snow

As we approach the final week before the holidays, and as I have yet to start shopping for gifts (hello, online shopping and overnight delivery), I’m reminded of how special these days ahead are. It’s easy to get wrapped up (no pun intended) in all of the minutia of the holidays: did I get gifts for everyone on my list? Do I have the dinner menu prepped? And even, did I remember to send Christmas cards out? But the most important gift you can ever give is the gift of being present.

Long Island saw its first snow over the weekend, and before the roads got plowed and people started going about their day, I enjoyed the stillness that the weather brought. It was a simple thing, but it was a morning I will be sure to remember.

I always feel like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas goes by quickly. We are so busy getting things ready for the holidays — and there is plenty to do. But how about we take a few minutes out this week to listen to a Christmas song that brings us joy (for me, that would be “Carol of the Bells”), breathe in the smell of the season (gingerbread cookies, anyone?), and enjoy life at a slower pace. I’m looking forward to spending a day in New York City right before the holidays to see the tree at Rockerfeller Center and to peruse the holiday windows. Experiences like those are what I always remember about this time of year.

How do you slow down and celebrate the season?

Winter Wear: Lucky Brand Booties

Lucky Brand Booties

One of my favorite parts of this time of year (aside from the upcoming holidays, of course), is that I get to break out my riding boots and over-the-knee boots. On any given day, you can find me rocking a pair of skinny jeans (Loft has some great options, if you are petite) and either of the aforementioned boots. But this year, the array of booties I have been seeing has intrigued me.

When I had some spare time last weekend (and a $20 off coupon), I headed to my nearest DSW to peruse their selection. I was cautiously optimistic that I would find what I wanted — but a stroll down the very first aisle proved fruitful. These Lucky Brand booties immediately caught my eye, and were sold as soon as I slipped the comfortable wedged bootie on my foot. Just to ensure that I didn’t miss out on another potential suitor, I walked through every aisle at DSW, but I kept returning to the pair from Lucky.

Lucky Brand Booties from DSW

The hardest decision I had to make was whether to get them in the taupe or grey. Ultimately, the taupe won out, and when they arrived at my house the other day (they were out of my size in the store), I knew I had made the right choice.

If you, too, have been on the fence about the whole bootie trend, I would advise you to take the plunge. I anticipate wearing these babies throughout the winter…and into spring.

The Under $20 Gift Guide

Struggling to find that perfect gift for a co-worker, teacher, or as a stocking stuffer, without breaking the bank? Well, look no further. I’ve rounded up great gifts that are all under $20 — and bonus points — they are things people will actually want and enjoy using. Gift giving doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, so here are a few items that make perfect presents (and can also be picked up in a pinch — like when you suddenly find out that your office has a holiday party tomorrow afternoon and you need to bring something).

The Under $20 Gift Guide

Where Did My Weekend Go?

I swear, it was Friday like five seconds ago. Wasn’t it? In another installment of, “where did my weekend go?” I got to spend some time in Port Jefferson, New York, enjoy a sweet crêpe from Sweet ‘n’ Savory, hang with my one of my favorite local business owners (thanks for the fudge, Chocology!), and all while doing some shopping (I scooped up the softest plaid shirt from the Gap — on sale). So, yeah, that’s where my weekend went. It may have been over in the blink of an eye, but at least I had fun. Hope your Monday is off to a good start!

Here’s a quick recap:

Roast Coffee and Tea

{Starting my day with coffee from Roast!}

Art Gallery at the Art League of Long Island

{A stroll through the impressive art gallery at the Art League of Long Island}

Annual Shopping Crawl in Port Jefferson, New York

{Gearing up for the shopping crawl in Port Jefferson with a selfie}

Sweet Crepe from Sweet n Savory

{A Nutella, strawberry, and broken Reese’s peanut butter cup crêpe from Sweet ‘n’ Savory}

Lucky Brand Booties from DSW

{Ending the weekend with a stop at DSW and a new pair of Lucky Brand booties}

The December Agenda: Holiday Edition

Holiday 2016

It’s starting to feel a lot like winter in these parts. Long gone are the mornings that I can jump into my car without first defrosting it…run out of the house in just a cozy sweater dress…or order an iced coffee from Starbucks without raising eyebrows. Yes, winter is upon us. While I don’t enjoy the cold, there is something special about this time of year—when holiday fairs happen almost weekly and houses are decked out with festive flare.

Even if the thought of snow is enough to send a shiver down your spine, you can still embrace this exciting time of year. Here’s what’s on my agenda this month:

Go: What could be better than getting your holiday shopping done? How about getting your holiday shopping done while scoring deep discounts? Sounds good, right? Then head to the Village of Port Jefferson, New York this Saturday, December 10th from 9 am to 5 pm for the annual Port Jefferson Shopping Crawl. It’s a fun day for the whole family where retail, professional, and services offer 10% and 20% discounts. You know I will be stopping in at Chocology for some fudge!

See: One of my all time favorite things to do this time of year is to head into New York City to see the store windows. Last year, I made the (near fatal) mistake of heading in on SantaCon (which for those who aren’t familiar, is essentially a very large pub crawl where everyone dresses up like Santa). I’m wiser this year and have planned my trip around avoiding the crowds that SantaCon generates. During my visit, I hope to get a good glimpse of the beautiful tree at Rockefeller Center, take a trip to the New York Public Library and see Patience and Fortitude in their holiday attire (remember them?), and perhaps finally stop at the infamous Max Brenner Chocolate Bar.

Do: Now that the house is decorated and the tree is up, I am in full-on holiday shopping mode. I’ve seen so many amazing gift guides, like this one and this one. So thanks, fellow bloggers, for helping me find great gifts for everyone on my list!

Visit: After going on the Holiday Historic House Tour in Huntington, New York last weekend, I think it is fair to say that I am obsessed with Long Island history and historic restoration. Seeing the painstaking details in these older beauties and the great lengths that the homeowners went to in the restoration process, truly blew me away. I loved learning about the history behind the property, who owned it, and how the property was used. The tour opened my eyes to the rich history in my own backyard. Long Island has many old mansions that are now museums and are open for the public to tour (check the list out here). I am under no illusion that I will be able to visit all of these properties this month, but my goal is to see at least one in December.

What’s on your agenda this month?

The Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

Now that it is officially December, the time has come to start presenting you with all of those fun gift guides. Since I have yet to do any holiday shopping (well, I did gift myself a few new things from Target yesterday — including the buffalo plaid pajama set seen below), I thought I would round up some items that will be gifted (hopefully to others!) this season. Whether you are searching for that special something for the fashionista, techie, or hard-to-please coffee drinker in your life, here are some presents that will be well received.

The Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List