Snow day!

It’s snowing in Charlotte! It’s a big deal in the south – nearly the entire city shuts down, and I’m happy to oblige. Everything seems so peaceful and quiet with a fresh blanket of snow.

Today we’re hunkered down like everyone else, eating and drinking all the warm things, playing in the snow and enjoying the break in our routine. C wasn’t sure what to think about it as she was too little to remember last year’s snowfall, but she got over any initial apprehension quickly and loved throwing snow! I don’t know who was more excited about it – me or her – as I grew up in Ohio, where it would snow quite frequently. I have such fond memories of kicking around the snow, sledding, snowball fights and igloo building that it’s fun to relive it, even if for just a day or two.

Stay warm and if you’ve got winter weather, stay safe and enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

Hat: gap (old, similar and 10% cash back with EBates!)  |  Hoodie: lululemon (old, new version here)  |  Shirt: lululemon  |  Leggings: lululemon (similar here)  |  Wellie socks: Hunter  |  Boots: Hunter

Asheville Girls’ Weekend

Baaack to life, baaaack to reality…

I hope everyone had a good weekend! I’m getting back into the routine after spending the weekend in Asheville, North Carolina with a group of great friends from my neighborhood. We left Friday afternoon and headed straight to The Grove Park Inn for lunch at Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen and a drink by the massive fireplace.

After settling into our cabin, we played a few intense rounds of Prosecco Pong and got ready for dinner at Curate, the #3 restaurant in Asheville. The drinks and food lived up to the reviews – everything we tried was absolutely outstanding! Our table split the paella de verduras and not one bit was left. It’s a must try; just  be sure to place your paella order 40 min in advance so the chef has plenty of time to prepare. We headed out on the town afterward, stopping at Social Lounge and a few other local bars before heading back to the cabin.

Top: J. Crew (similar here and here  |  Pants: H&M (only $17.99!) |  Shoes: Gianni Bini (similar) |  Suede clutch: Lidl (seriously!)

On Saturday, we slept in, made brunch, then headed out for lunch at Corner Kitchen, shopping in Biltmore Village and a drink at the Grand Bohemian before heading back to the cabin for the evening. We bundled ourselves up, made another fire (necessary – it was sooo cold), played games and had great conversation. Such a great finish to a fun weekend away with friends.

#squadgoals

Poor C wasn’t feeling well when I returned on Sunday, and let’s be honest, I was also exhausted, so we didn’t do much beyond loaf around and order takeout. Now we’re back to the grind, resuming resolutions and preparing for a visit with family later this week. I bundled up today and hit our neighborhood trails for a 4.3 mile run in an attempt to catch up on the lululemon 40 | 80 challenge. With only 6 days left, wish me luck…

2018 Wellness Goals

Tis the season for indulging, whether it’s eating, drinking, shopping, lounging around not knowing what day or time it is, and then BAM! Straight into diet and exercise season. Such a harsh transition, isn’t it? This year, I’m hoping to ease back into real life a bit more smoothly than in years past. Jon and I have had nearly endless conversations about how we want to tweak our wellness and exercise plans for 2018; here’s how we’re working on our minds and bodies into the coming year.

Mind

Studies show meditation can benefit both your physical and emotional well-being by reducing anxiety and negative emotions, increasing patience, imagination and creativity, and may help people manage symptoms of asthma, chronic pain, depression, high blood pressure, sleep problems, etc1. The Headspace and Mindfulness apps are two my husband and I have tested in the past weeks and enjoy; they walk you through the process and offer 1, 2, 3 , 5, 10+ minute meditations. My 2018 goal is to complete guided meditations 3x a week for overall wellness and anxiety management.

Green top: lululemon  |  Black top: lululemon  |  Tights: lululemon  | Scrunchie (for realz): lululemon  |  Mat: lululemon  |  Weights:  Amazon

Body

Gym/BBG:

While I’ve attended HIRT and cardio classes at our local YMCA, I’ve also added Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Guide, or BBG, to the mix. Using the Sweat app, I’ve added BBG workouts when I can’t get to the Y. Guys, they are INTENSE in the best possible way. I love that the moves are tried-and-true (no inventing variations just for invention’s sake), they get the job done in 28 minutes and most of all, they work! Follow Kayla on Instagram and check #BBG – there’s no shortage of before and afters, testimonials and legions of fans sharing results! I love that she also posts workouts to her Insta, allowing you to test out the program before buying. More often than not they’re bodyweight based or require very basic/minimal equipment, making them perfect to have saved when traveling or times when you just can’t hit the gym.

Training:

For the past month, I’ve worked one-on-one with my dear friend Noelle Yanik, named one of the top trainers in the country by Women’s Health Magazine and competed as one of the final 5 contestants for the Next Fitness Star Competition. Amazing doesn’t begin to describe her – she’s not only my friend and confidant, but she’s encouraged me to try methods and practices I hadn’t considered in the past, with results I can see in just 30 days. Every session with her is a treat (really…even when sweating and out of breath!) as not only is she an excellent and renowned professional, but she’s just a joy to be with. Follow her on Instagram, where she shares workouts, tips and meals and check out her ebook, Unbreakable Core, to strengthen your core and lift the pelvic floor post-partum.

Running: the lululemon 40 | 80 challenge

The lululemon 40 | 80 challenge starts on January 2 and ends on January 15 – the goal is to run either 40k or 80k outdoor miles (no treadmill!) within that timeframe and log your successes with Strava, an activity-tracking app/website that’s also a social network for athletes. Rumor has it if you complete the challenge and show your Strava badge in person at your local lululemon, you *might* get some free swag! That alone is motivation for me to giddy up and go. Follow the journey on Instagram and at #4080challenge.

Green shirt: lululemon  |  Black shirt: lululemon  |  Tights: lululemon  |  Shoes: Birkenstock |  Workbook: Amazon |  Water bottle: Target

 

What are your health and wellness plans for 2018? Anyone else sloooowly easing into it after a month of decadence?

1A beginner’s guide to meditation. (2017, October 17). Retrieved December 30, 2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

 

Last minute Christmas gift tips

There’s no need to write this post because nobody would ever wait until the last minute to Christmas shop, right?! Or…like me, you’re browsing like a madwoman with coffee or cocoa in hand, trying to figure out the best gifts to send in the fastest way possible.

Sweatshirt: kate spade (similar)  |  Leggings: Zella  |  Slippers: Ugg  |  Mug: Kleen Kanteen

If you’re still in need of a few quick gifts that you can send before Christmas (4 days from now…eee!), here are a few ideas I’ve used in the past or am using as we speak/type.

Magazine subscriptions

This is a great, quick gift that fits the bill for a variety of people on your list. I like to order from either magazines.com (who currently offers 25% back when you use eBates!) or Amazon. Pick up the current month’s issue at the grocery, tuck a notice into the magazine letting the recipient know you’ve ordered them a year’s subscription, and tie it up with ribbon for a cute gift that stands alone, serves as a fun stocking stuffer or a white elephant gift. Whether a national publication or your city’s local magazine, this gift is sure to bring a smile to someone’s face each month.

Current steals and deals:

Digital gift cards

These are a no-brainer when it comes to speed-to-market; they’re delivered straight to someone’s inbox within seconds of clicking “pay.” Starbucks, Amazon, Target, etc. work for most on your list, and if these don’t fit the bill, check out giftcards.com for a large variety of options. One great use of an Amazon digital (or analog, ha) gift card is for Amazon Home Services – shop a wide variety of services from house cleaning and repairs to light fixture installation, handyman services, iPhone repair,television mounting and gutter repair.

Select your preferred time and date, book and enjoy the convenience of using Amazon to coordinate home services. Bonus – Amazon provides an up-front estimate for the cost of work, so you have an idea of what to expect before you’ve booked! Such a great way to coordinate and budget for a variety of services our house always seems to need.

Online ordering with in-store pickup

Online ordering with in-store pickup is a brilliant marrying of the digital and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences. I can order from the comfort of my home and pick up at the store, taking shipping costs and lead time out of the equation. This may be your best bet as we get closer to Christmas and shipping options narrow down – here’s a short list of retailers who currently offer this service:

I hope these three ideas and tips help you get to the shopping finish line soon! What are your favorite go-to last-minute shopping tips? Let me know in the comments.

Five favorite gifts to give (and receive!) for everyone on your list

Tis the season for holiday shopping! Over the years I’ve realized that like a poorer Oprah, I’ve developed a roster of favorite gifts to give. Whether these were given to me initially or found they worked for a variety of people on my list, I’ve either received or purchased for myself to confirm they’re great. Trust me, I’m an expert.

The best part? Nothing’s over $75 and from your boss to your stepsister or great aunt, all work for a variety of folks on your list.

-> Sephora Perfume or Cologne Samplers
Why they’re winners:
  • Each box contains 17 samples (perfume) or 12 samples (cologne) of Sephora’s most popular perfumes and colognes. Give ’em a test drive, then take in the scent certificate to choose a full-sized bottle of your favorite fragrance!
  • Provides a variety of fragrances for someone to sample, then they pick the winner vs. running the risk of buying them a bottle they may not necessarily enjoy
  • Sample sizes are perfect to toss in a purse or bag for keeping at your desk, travel, etc.
 -> Tiffany woven square bowl
Why it’s a winner:
  • This gorgeous crystal bowl is timeless, works with any decor and has a variety of uses. I’ve used ours as a ring holder, a general odds-and-ends catcher in the kitchen or as a serving dish for small candies or nuts
  • Tiffany’s iconic packaging makes this a fun and luxurious gift to open
  • It’s solid and well-made; the quality you expect from Tiffany
  • It’s $30, making this a surprisingly affordable gift
-> kate spade crown point 4×6 frame
Why it’s a winner:
  • Another timeless classic that blends into any decor – perfect for home or office
  • At $40, it’s a lovely gift for your boss, family or friends
  • Print a special photo and insert into the frame before giving, instantly personalizing the gift
-> Pottery Barn Kids Red Frame Ornaments
Why they’re winners:
  • Perfect for parents and the classic red matches looks great with most holiday decor
  • Less than $5 – an inexpensive item that can stand alone or as an add-on to another gift.
  • Can be used as a gift bag tag.
-> Restoration Hardware Ultra-Fine Plush Throw 
Why it’s a winner:
  • Comes in chic neutral colors that blend with any decor
  • Super soft, plush and warm
  • Machine washable
  • Packaged beautifully and can typically be purchased online or in store for less than $30

Sunday fuzzies

Fuzzy cardigans, t-shirts and leggings are my Sunday staple. Perfect for lounging around after a fun weekend spent with friends from college – we took C to our neighborhood’s tree lighting, drank wine, laughed, ate our weight in meat and cheese and had a wonderful visit. C was apprehensive about Santa until he broke out the Smarties, which is fair as candy unites all adversaries. She ended up smiling for a pic and letting him give her a hug – a huge improvement from last year’s scream!

I hope everyone had a great weekend and that you’re done with your holiday shopping…HA. If you are, you win Christmas as I haven’t even started! *monkey with hands over eyes emoji* Anyone else see Santa and get a good pic, screams or no screams? 

1-2-3 SWING!
Presents from her aunts Christina and Caroline
Cheers!

 

 

 

Cardigan: similar – nearly exact! | T-shirt: 14th and Union  |  Leggings: Zella  |  Shoes: Birkenstock  | Sunglasses: Ray Ban Earrings: kate spade 

Cyber Monday

The term “Cyber Monday” makes me giggle as it sounds like we’re living in the early 2000s and the word “cyber” felt all sorts of futuristic and cutting-edge. My college’s cafe used to serve Cyberwraps, which were the end product of a pick-your-own-tortilla, meats/cheese/veggies/rice station. My friends and I were blown away by this innovation (particularly after a long night of…er..studying) and quickly adopted it as our new favorite thing, which meant we burned through our meal points approximately 10x faster than when Cyberwraps were a simple analog sandwich station. Cutting edge and futuristic to the point where it was perfected and franchised by a little company called Chipotle.

Can we be honest for a moment? Every year I start a Christmas list for family and friends only to buy something for myself right out of the gate. Am I a Grinch in disguise, or does anyone else do this, too? As a result (and my sworn blogger duty),  here’s the updated list of amazing Cyber Monday deals from stores that, ahem, you’ll love and are great retailers for friends and family gifts, too.

Cheers to shopping for ourselves.
Sweater, now under $60!  |  Mug, one of my favorite gifts I’ve received and subsequently given

Clothing, shoes and accessories

Home

Kids

Beauty

Everything else:

Sunday and Cyber Monday steals and deals

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! No travel this year, so we stayed low-key, feasting to our heart’s content. And now that Thanksgiving 2017 is in the books, let the Christmas shopping, decorating and prepping commence.

Folks, I just command + C/command + V’ed my heart out to create a decently comprehensive list of great sales from your favorite retailers. I’ll keep this list as up-to-date as possible with notifications so you’re kept in the loop – there’s just too many to call out, so check out the links below as well as scoop up some deals on a few of my favorites from previous posts!

 

Jacket is an extra 30% off | these similar jeans are also 30% off!

This striped top is 40% off + free shipping | jeans are 30% off | similar booties under $80

similarly cozy, ruffled sweater under $60 

25% off sitewide at Bobbi Brown

Clothing, shoes and accessories

Home

Kids

Beauty

Everything else:

Lazy Sunday

C started off the morning with our most recent obsession – hanging anything she thinks is a necklace off of the cat. This photo truly signifies just how much my 18 year old Milo (or “Ilo,” as pronounced by C) has given up. He’s incredibly patient with toddler shenanigans. Also, yes, I recognize the rosary is not to be worn as jewelry…I can feel every nun and CCD teacher in my past cringing at the blasphemy. *apologizes and makes sign of the cross*

We are lounging around this Sunday – it’s cool but not cold, perfect for curling up, watching tv and letting the world pass by for a day. The house is clean, the fridge is stocked and we’re taking it easy before the holiday fun and madness begins. Anyone else hunkering down before our calendars fill with holiday cheer?

While I picked up these pieces at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, they’re still currently in stock and are perfect for cozying up or gift giving! I can’t sing the praises enough of each piece; the Barefoot Dreams cardigan is so soft, plush and perfect for layering over a loose t-shirt, leggings and my favorite, tried-and-true slippers.

The cardi provides great bum coverage, so no worries there, and spice up your leggings game with these SPANX faux leather leggings. Trust me on this one – they are instantly dressier and more polished than your regular leggings, plus they truly suck you in just as you’d expect SPANX to do. They have a higher, wider waistband that holds you in firmly without discomfort, which is a total win in my book.

Sweater: Barefoot Dreams  |  Leggings: SPANX  |  T-shirt: Joe Fresh  |  Slippers: Ugg  |  Bracelet:  Pure Vida

When on a recent trip to Florida with my college friends, we did a gift exchange, a la Oprah’s Favorite Things, where each of us brought three gifts under $10 to exchange. The gifts could be the same item or three different things; the only caveats were that they should be under $10 and be something we love. This Pura Vida bracelet was one of the gifts I received as part of the exchange and I haven’t taken it off since. It’s simple, delicate, goes with everything and is an awesome daily reminder of lifelong friendship.

If you haven’t heard of Pura Vida – every product is handcrafted by artisans around the world and provides full-time jobs to 150+ artisans across the globe. Pura Vida’s partnered with over 190 different charities around the world and donated more than $1,500,000 to causes they support. Such a simple gift with major impact.

Weekend in the mountains

We spent last weekend at the Oak Haven Resort in Sevierville, Tennessee, visiting our friends that my husband met in college, their wives and little ones. It was so great to spend quality time with everyone who we don’t get to see often enough and even more fun to watch our kids play and have fun getting to know each other better! It was such a great, relaxing weekend in the mountains and beautiful fall leaves were the perfect backdrop.

Featured in Southern Living magazine, Oak Haven Resort has gorgeous grounds and is full of amenities – fully equipped cabins, an on-site spa, hiking trails, playground, pool, fitness center, arcade/game room and the Sevierville Golf Club is just a few minutes away.  Our 3 bedroom cabin had a loft area, bar and game room complete with pop-a-shot, ping pong and cornhole boards, three porches, a hot tub and plenty of big windows for panoramic views of the mountains.

There’s much to do and see for adults and kids, both at the resort and in Sevierville; we took our little ones to the RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo, an indoor/outdoor zoo where they got to feed goats, sheep and a pig, see monkeys, lizards, snakes, spiders (eeee!) and other wild creatures. We did some hiking around the resort grounds, hit up the playground, ate/drank and had a wonderful visit.

At the RainForest Adventures Discovery Zoo – be sure to buy a bag of food for the animals when entering the zoo. It’s only $3 and is so much fun for little ones!

On C: top: H&M  |  Jeans: H&M  |  Shoes: Mini Melissa  |  Bow: Wee Ones 
On me: top: lululemon  |  Pants: lululemon  |  Shoes: Nike

To prep for travel, we keep a static list of toiletries and gear needed for ourselves and C, then create a daily matrix with planned activities and forecasted weather – this is where I’ll plot outfits for myself and C, then print and pack the lists for reference. I try to stick with the options + an extra change or two of clothes for C in order to avoid overpacking…but it happens despite our best efforts.

It takes approximately 4 hours from Charlotte to Sevierville; longer car trips are no joke with a two year old. It requires All The Snacks, patience, juice, an iPad, stickers, coloring books and markers, and whatever else you can throw at the expanse of time to keep the peace. For snacks, I packed organic lollipops, raisins, fruit leather, RXBARS, Larabars, some Halloween candy for treats, YumEarth organic gummies, applesauce and fruit/veggie pouches, a couple of cereal bars, crackers/pretzels/dried fruit packed in our favorite Munchkin snack cups with lids to keep food fresh.

We try to stop at a restaurant with a play place (try the PlayPlaces app) in order to give C some exercise while on the road. If one isn’t available and/or we just need to use the restroom and not grab food, we’ll stop at a rest area (there’s an app for that, too!) to stretch our legs and get the wiggles out. While we pack as many healthy food options as we can, we typically buy a few extra food items while stopped at a restaurant to have on hand for snacks or a quick meal on the go, such as a yogurt parfait, chicken strips, apple slices, a banana, container of milk, etc. These often come through in a pinch, when plans change or for an impromptu picnic; with a toddler, you don’t want to be caught without. Ever.

Never underestimate the power of a lollipop, friends. It buys goodwill as well as peace and quiet. Pack many; this is not the time to be stringent.

On me: top: J. Crew  |  Jeans: Rag and Bone  |  Booties: Madewell (similar)  | Bracelets: Tory Burch (similar), J. Crew (similar) and Pure Vida  | Watch: vintage Tag Heuer (new, similar)
On C: top and leggings, Tea Collection (similar top and leggings)  |  High-tops: See Kai Run (similar)

 

What’s your favorite place to check out gorgeous fall scenery? Any favorite tips and tricks for traveling with a toddler (so much alliteration), favorite apps, gear or other means for keeping the peace?