Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Loving Lately: Spoonk Acupuncture Mat

PSA: Get yourself a Spoonk Acupuncture Mat. Game. Changer. Recently, I was getting a lot of Instagram sponsored posts about acupuncture mats. My interest was piqued because I did acupuncture/cupping earlier in 2016 to assist with alleviating neck and shoulder pain and anxiety. (I really enjoyed the sessions for 8 weeks, but stopped going because it was getting pricey.) The mat claimed to help alleviate back, neck and shoulder pain and assist in relaxation for less than the cost of one acupuncture session. Plus, the reviews on Amazon were glowing. Sold. (Amazon Prime has been responsible for much stupider purchases, I can assure you.)

Since it arrived on my doorstep, I have LOVED this mat. The pressure points are sharp to the touch, but when you lay on it on your back, I prefer to lay on it with a bare back. It is moderately uncomfortable for a few minutes, but then you stop feeling the prongs and you start feel a warming sensation (which I cannot explain, this is just what happens for me). I lay on it for 15-20 minutes before I start to get uncomfortable and I am trying to work myself up to more time. I generally watch TV while I lay on the mat (I'm sure it's even better if you meditate while you lay on it). When I get up, I have the temporary sensation of feeling like my back is very sunburned (uncomfortable) but this quickly goes away.

After about two weeks of almost daily use, I have noticed that my upper back/shoulders do not begin to ache as much after sitting at my desk all day. But what has really converted me is the quality of sleep I get after laying on this thing. It is unbelievable. I didn't think I was having any trouble sleeping, generally speaking (I had the occasional bad night's sleep). However, when I get into bed after using the Spoonk mat, I fall asleep quickly and do not wake up or stir AT ALL until my alarm goes off. A few times I have even woken up feeling rested before my alarm goes off - WHAT? If you have had the misfortune of ever living with me, you know that I am abuser of the "snooze" function in the worst way possible. This unheard of.

I'm not the only one raving about why acupuncture mats are great - there are tons of articles and recommendations for them out there.

If you think I am drinking the Kool-Aid, read the Amazon reviews. I am not pretending to fully understand it's magic, but I am impressed.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bathroom Remodel

I'm back (again). My parents are working on remodeling their bathrooms, so I've been busy pinning and planning as if it were my own project. Part of the project involves adding a 3-piece bath upstairs. I want all the bathrooms to have a very classic look, but be different enough from each other. Here is my scheme for the new bathroom - small, with visual impact, but not overwhelming. All sources/items are on my Pinterest board

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wedding Dress Shopping

I think I nonchantly mentioned that I was going wedding dress shopping before Thanksgiving, no? Well prior to going dress shopping I spent a LOT of time on Pinterest. I also spent a lot of time dreaming about how my wedding dress shopping experience would go.

In my head:

In reality:

I went in somewhat unclear on what I wanted. I was liking a-line, romantic dresses and was really gravitating towards those with lace on top and simple skirts, but I also found myself liking really plain, simple dresses, lace dresses, fit and flare dresses, etc. So I was kind of all over the place. I knew I did not want strapless or any beading, but I'd heard countless times that you really don't know what you want until you put it on. In other words: never say never. I left having found a dress I LOVED after narrowing down styles and details I knew I wanted. I didn't end up purchasing my dress because I didn't feel like any of the stores I went to had enough of what I was looking for to know that it was "the one." 

A few days later I went back with my mom and two of my besties/bridesmaids. After going to a store that had a lot more of the types of dresses that I was looking for, then returning to the original dress, I knew it was the one. I am not a super decisive person, so I was as surprised as anyone to "just know" it was the dress. I've spent an embarassing amount of time looking at pictures of it since I purchased, and I can't wait for it to come in! Something about trying on dresses and really seeing myself as the bride made it all so REAL. 

While I will not be sharing any of my top contenders (all similar in style to what I purchased), I thought it would be fun to share some of the outtakes and fun of the day here on le blog. 

This one was beautiful but the skirt material felt a little too casual or informal for me. 

This dress had ALL the beading. I tried it on for the shape - and ended up loving not only the shape but the dress. Ultimately it was not the look I was going for, but it was so beautiful on vs. on the hanger. Such a fun departure from the other dresses I tried on.  

Grandma central. This dress was all kinds of bad. Beading, cheap-looking lace, illusion fabric that was way too dark for my fair skin. I think I had this on for 3 mintues, tops. 

I loved the idea of this dress - simple, off-the-shoulder, romantic...but it just didn't feel right when I had it on. Again, I think the material felt a little too informal for me. 

Well, that's all I can show you! Everything else that I took pictures of looks too similar to my dress - or was THE dress! 


I've decided I want to have a party where everyone wears their wedding dresses after my wedding. I can't stand the idea of never getting to wear it again! 

P.S. I promise to chill on the Friends GIFs after this post.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

On Gratitude

Remember when you were younger and adults would say annoying, untrue things like, "time flies" or "I can't believe it's almost Christmas!" And you would think to yourself, "Are you kidding me!? There are TWO MONTHS until Christmas. How will I LIVE?" Well here we are; it's Thanksgiving week 2016. And my mind is blown. I find myself shocked that events from earlier in the year - my sister's wedding, baby showers, vacations, my engagement - simultaneously seem like forever ago and yesterday all at once. Really my entire adult life feels like that. I just turned 21, I could swear it. 

via GIPHY (Friends Thanksigiving episodes never get old!)

On Thanksgiving this year, I have a somewhat different perspective on gratitude which makes me particularly (and poignantly) grateful to celebrate this holiday. While dealing with some personal challenges earlier this year, I was doing a lot of searching for the ever elusive "happiness" that everyone on your Instagram and Facebook feeds seems to have but you. I wasn't traveling to Europe or buying a house or having a baby or looking effortlessly chic at all social functions, as it would seem everyone else was doing. I like things to go according to plan. I like to follow the rules. And so when life isn't pretty or doesn't align with the image I have in my head, I struggle. During this struggle, I read a lot about how gratitude improves happiness. And I was most certainly not happy. So I did something unprecedented. Rather than simply read about how to improve my life on the internet, I acted on it. And guess what? Those people at Harvard are pretty damn smart. 

Throughout the course of the year, I have really focused on improving my gratitude. I started by looking for books on how to practice gratitude and I stumbled upon My Little Gratitude Journal. The premise behind this tool is comically simple: write down 3 things you are grateful for from the day before you go to bed. We're talking bullet points, not even sentences. Even on the shittiest of days, I could find something to write down. And I was surprised to find myself listing four or six or eight bullets on many days. "Relaxing night watching TV." "Catching up with old friend via FaceTime." "Taking a walk outside." "Reading on the porch." "A fridge full of food." "Strong legs and lungs that powered me through my run." "The guy who let me cut over in traffic." "Getting a manicure." "Nabbing an awesome parking spot in a crowded parking lot." "Singing along to a great song on the radio." "A great glass (or bottle) of wine." Slowly but surely, this practice helped me to make gratitude a habit. Laying in bed at night and ending the day with positive thoughts and a grateful heart, rather than anxiously running through everything that had gone wrong today or I had to do tomorrow, helped me sleep better. And eventually it made my days better too. I began to catch myself saying quick prayers of gratitude throughout the day - noticing and appreciating these small, joyful moments when they happened. 

Am I Mary Poppins all day every day? Absolutely not. I get sad and mad and down. I get anxious. But I'm appreciating that this is life, and if you can't find opportunities to be grateful in the hustle and bustle and ups and downs, you're going to miss your chance at happiness. I loved this quote from Jennifer Garner earlier this year when she spoke to Vanity Fair:

"It's also what my mother has instilled in my sisters and me so much, that joy comes from the smallest things. And if you don't see joy in a perfect avocado or in a great conversation or in running into a friend or getting a job - if you don't see joy in a perfectly beautiful tree in autumn - then you are missing your chance at happiness. Because if you don't find it in the small things and you only wait for big moments, then you'll just not be a happy person."

While gratitude and gratitude alone is great for many, I also had the love and support of wonderful friends and family, sought out an excellent therapist and turned to medication to get me through this year. Through all of this, I am so grateful that I learned this lesson: seeking help or self-improvement is not a weakness or a fault. In fact it is the opposite of that. It takes great courage to raise your hand and admit that you are struggling and you can't do this alone. And you're not designed to. Hindsight is 20/20, so please, take this from me. And if not from me, from Selena Gomez. "If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken."

I don't share all this to say that I've found the key to happiness, or that I have it all figured out because who the hell does? If anything, this journey has made me realize that no one does. Our lives may not look the same, our journeys may not look the same and our struggles may not look the same. But rest assured, we all struggle. (This realization in itself is something to be grateful for - you are not alone!) 

And so this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for gratitude. More than ever, I am grateful for having the love and support of my people when I struggle. I am grateful for having the courage to say I needed help. I am grateful for having access to mental health resources. I am so grateful to those who have shared their mental health struggles with the world or with me personally. I am humbled by and grateful for the unconditional love and patience my fianc─Ś showed me when I felt so anxious and broken. I am grateful that going through this with him demonstrated that we are strong and solid and can do tough shit together as a team. I am grateful for the strength and vulnerability it took to write and publish this blog post (even though twelve people read this blog). I am grateful for the increased empathy I have for others and for a true understanding of the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I am grateful for another full year of life - the good and the bad. I am grateful for the moments in my day that give me pause and allow me to take in the beauty all around me. The sound of a loved one's laughter. A tree vibrant with fall color.  A perfect cup of coffee. I am grateful for a year filled with people I love and full of personal growth. I'm even grateful for the day-to-day minutia of life. Laundry and work deadlines and oil changes. Without these things vacation days and dinners out and fun times with friends would not be so great. 

Most importantly (chances are, if you are reading this you are probably in my inner circle), I am also so grateful for YOU! For all the joy and support you bring to my life - from the bottom of my heart - Thank you. 

Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Table Scheming

Two day work week. Family. Friends. Food. Does it get better? 

Let's be honest, I'm a long way off from hostingThanksgiving. But that doesn't mean I don't love admiring a good Thanksgiving tablescape and scheming for the day when I get to set my own. (Think I can get away with just setting a pretty table and not having to cook anything!?)



Photo Sources: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

If I was hosting this year, here is a pretty table top I might put together. Now if only I owned anything I am proposing for said table...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Finds

It's Fridayyyyyyy!


I am pumped for the weekend. It's gonna be LIT. Do I sound cool yet? Here are some things that I am looking forward to and/or I found on the internets this week, that I feel compelled to share with you. You're welcome. 

1. One of my besties is flying in from Chicago tonight. Mags shared a room with me in our off-campus house in college and she knows me *too* well. Can't wait for wine, girl time, pillow talk and maybe a little Kenny G, eh Mags? 

2. Every Christmas-Eve-Eve (that's 12/23) my family sees a movie and goes out to dinner. This tradition was started as an excuse to get us kids out of the house while my mom stayed home to wrap presents. But now that we are all grown up, she joins us. It's just such a sweet, festive day and really marks the beginning of the Christmas/New Year's holiday week for us. This year, we are going to see Collateral Beauty. This totally has a Love Actually vibe (also stars Kiera Knightly) and just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I've watched this trailer like 17 times. (Shout out to my sister KK for discovering.)

3. All these beauties will be reunited on Tuesday night. I'm so excited for Thanksgiving, but mostly I am anticipating being with all my people for a few days! My sisters are flying home from NYC, and I am already plotting how I can sabotage their return to the city and make them stay longer!

4. I am going wedding dress shopping with said sisters and my mom on Wednesday! We are going to Cincinnati's bridal district, and I am just a little bit excited! I am hoping I can find what I want (simple, elegant, not expensive!), but I am nervous that I will not be able to pick a dress until I've checked out alllll my options. Mom, you ready for this marathon!? Liking some of these styles as inspiration. (I've surprised myself by liking a lot of off-the-shoulder dresses, but I think that is something that probably looks great on models and IRL is like "oh")

1, 2, 3

5. I think we can all agree the Michelle Obama looks fabulous on the cover of Vogue. Imagine my surprise and delight when a few of my favorite things (MObama, Kate Middleton and skincare) collided as a result of her interview. Biotulin was apparently recommended to Michelle by none other than the Duchess of Cambridge herself. It's hailed as "organic botox" that you apply topically vs. injection. And, it's affordable! For as fabulous as both of these ladies look, it is on my "must try list." I added this to my "Makeup and Skincare Favorites" board on Pinterest. Check it out. 

6. Speaking of skincare, I tried dermaplaning for the first time yesterday. It. is. amazing. I honestly have a new face. I will of course (lucky you) dedicate an entire post to this topic - along with a great deal for my Cincy friends in the near future!  

7. Running a 10K on Thanksgiving Day and kind of excited about it. This time of year is the best running weather!

8. Already anticipating decorating my house for Christmas with an overzealous fervor. Out of respect for our Pilgrim ancestors, I will refrain until the Friday after Thanksgiving. Informal poll: Real tree or fake tree? Answer carefully. We may not be friends anymore if you choose the wrong one!

9. It's no secret that I am a true Anglophile. It's in my IG and Twitter bio people. So you know it's the real deal. As such, it will come as NO SURPRISE that I am OBSESSED with Netflix's new series: The Crown. Claire Foy, who plays a young Queen Elizabeth is outstanding. The sets and costumes are exquisite and the storyline - Elizabeth's early married years and subsequent ascension to the Throne - is fascinating. The struggle between the person, Elizabeth Windsor, and the monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is heart wrenching. I am already aching for season 2 to come out. 

10. I loved this tour of a New England town in the fall. Fall is by far my favorite season, so I am savoring all the crunching leaves and colorful trees as the season winds down and gives way to Christmas (it's own season) and Winter. 

11. The Biden/Obama memes are making my life. I can't get enough. 

Wishing everyone an happy weekend! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wedding Prep

Did I already casually mention I am getting married? Well I ammmm. And I am pretty damn excited about it!

My excitement is twofold: 

1) Not that I've totally been dreaming about and planning my wedding my entire life, but I've totally been dreaming about and planning my wedding my entire life.

2) I'm marrying this incredibly funny, generous, thoughtful, hard-working, fun-loving person. It makes me so proud that he will be my husband, and I am so overwhelmed that he wants me to be his wife. (Seriously, though. I can be crazy. I'm lucky I locked this down.)

While we were dating, I had a little bit of time to think about our hypothetical wedding. By a little bit of time, I mean five years. I didn't know exactly what I wanted, but having been a bridesmaid 7 times, a maid-of-honor 2 times and a guest at countless weddings over the last several years, I had a good idea of my ideal wedding based on season, as well as things I definitely do want (videographer) and things I don't care about (cake). (Let me clarify, I care deeply about cake. But I don't care about having a big cake to cut while almost no one is paying attention.) So once we had a venue and a date, it was relatively easy for me to decide on my "scheme" for this blessed day. Below is an exclusive, curated sneak peek at my private Pinterest Board. I do hope all seven of you will be able to keep it a secret. 

I would say season and venue were my biggest factors in determining what look/feel I wanted. Ultimately I want a very timeless colors as the foundation: ivory, black, gray, gold and silver, with seasonal pops of burgundy, wine, magenta, marsala and sage, which compliments the late-September date. 

Color Inspiration

I am making good progress on major vendors and decisions...up next, dress shopping with my mom and sisters before Thanksgiving!