January 3, 2019

For years I have been tip toeing around writing my first novel. Outline after outline after outline has been typed up and left to get lost between file pixels on my laptop. 

I keep learning so much and continually growing, as we all do. My past outlines seem so trivial looking back now. But, my head feels in a space where I can truly reflect on the past 5 years of my life and compose a work worthy of you, readers.

Who knows how long this venture will take me, but I'm starting.


Here is an extremely small taste of the subject matter in my working title novel.

Excerpt from Chapter 5:
 

"If you do not know what path you are on or which to take, the truth is there are no defined paths. We are all walking through leaf covered woods with a giant machete hacking away at the trees that nature placed or that another human planted in a completely different time. You can track markers to learn from past travelers, but no one has set the way in stone."

December 13, 2018

A goal I set for 2018 was to read one book per month. I read these titles in no particular order and without any theme in mind. To dwindle my constantly growing stack of "to read" books, I selected whichever writing style or story I was in the mood for that month.
 

Following through with a New Years resolution rarely happens, so I feel proud that I exceeded my goal on this one. I ended the year with a provoking true crime read about the Golden State Killer and one woman's dedication to uncover his identity - if you somehow have not heard of the case. Hopefully 2019 leads me down as many influential paths and perspectives as 2018 did.


Mallory's 2018 Finished Book List:
 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Touch by Courtney Maum
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
The Rules do not Apply by Ariel Levy
Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Meaty by Samantha Irby
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
This is for the Women who Don't Give a Fuck by Janne Robinson
The White Album by Joan Didion
I'll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara



 

November 8, 2018

I've heard a lot of negative predictions about turning 27, but my friends and I decided to channel our inner witches and celebrate it instead.

Two of my closet friends from high school (Yes, I actually kept a few of those. The good ones.) drove from NYC to meet me as I hopped a plan to Massachusetts for a spooky Scorpio getaway.

It just so happens that my best friend, or friend soulmate as I like to call them, lives on the Air Force base in Boston with her husband. I had to fly into the Boston airport to get to Salem, so I flew in a day earlier than my Scorpio gals to see my Bostonian.

I honestly did not comprehend how close everything on the East coast is before my trip. I also did not realize how much American history is jam packed within the Boston and Salem areas. Our history might not date back even close to European culture, but it still remains our history and I found it fascinating to wander the cobblestone streets of our settlement ancestors.

Naturally I spent my first evening in Boston catching up with my friend over a bottle (or two) of red on her couch instead of our usual via FaceTime or Skype. The next morning we headed out on the T, which is Boston's subway system, for Downtown.
 


It astonished me that smack dab in the middle of the Downtown hustle and bustle, there still sits Paul Revere's house. I imagined him stumbling home wobbly drunk down the alleyways as my friend and I sat sipping a gin cocktail and a pumpkin beer at America's oldest Tavern, The Bell and Hand, whose name derives from the bell and hand emblem that use to symbolize a tavern for those who could not read.

We gobbled down a shared bowl of clam chowder at the center of Quincy Market while a musician played Ed Sheernan genre hits on his guitar. You could hear the music down each side of the market lined with east coast greasy delicacies and Bostonian foodies.
 


After browsing around Faneuil Hall shopping, we spent the majority of the day in Boston's Little Italy on the East End. The streets narrowed and the grand architecture scaled down to more charming historic living spaces as we weaved into a dive espresso cafe decorated with antique silver coffee machines and took a seat at our own tiny round table among the Italian regulars.

We concluded our lady date day at a window seat right off the sidewalk with the windows open in an restaurant called Quattro. We split a bottle of red and ordered our own authentic pizzas to munch while we people watched and soaked in each other's presence. The scene was so lovely, we ordered a final heaping glass (The Italians know how to pour it.) after our bottle before heading back to my friend's home.
 


Leaving my closet friend felt more like leaving family as her and her husband dropped me off at my Ipswich Airbnb to join my two Scorpio ladies. When I entered the white painted house with a steep roof in the middle of nowhere, my other two witches were sitting within a safe circle made of white holiday lights on a yogi blanket with a candle already burning. One of my friends read Tarot for us as we sipped sweet wine in our eerie rented space. Witching hour had begun.
 


Black hats bobbing up and down with fierce walks entered Salem the next November day. We arrived. The wind gusts threatened our attire, but we did not let that stop our photo ops with the fluttering golden leaves. 
 


We had professional psychics read our Tarot, which was honestly quite overwhelming for me, but I'm happy to report I left the small two-person table feeling at ease like I had just taken a steaming spa bath for my soul.

The remainder of the day we visited all of the local witch shops to gather candles and crystals and herbs before it was time for the witches to rest and rally with a couple fancy fall cocktails with spooky names and a hummus plate. While the shops all had similar stocked items, each one had it's own personality and focus from more natural and herb-y to commercialized to older witchcraft to theme-y with bright green and purple walls to goth.
 


The day grew chillier so we changed out of our witchy wardrobe to warmer attire for our night tour of Salem. We were led through the darker parts of Salem including the memorial for the 20 people who were accused of witchcraft that sits by the 17th century graveyard. The gravestones were so thin and simple, it made me realize from where that traditional flat gravestone imagery originated.
 


Our peppy tour guide dressed in black from head to toe guided us to historic spots still standing as re-purposed restaurants and buildings, such as where the old pub that was owned by Bridget Bishop stood. Bishop was the first accused of witchcraft. We stopped where horrid structures like the old jail no longer stand, but where spirits are often seen due to the torment and literal torture that took place of hundreds of souls. And, we saw cheery spots like the old Town Hall where the, "I put a spell on you" adult party scenes were shot for Hocus Pocus.

Full of history and chilled to the bone, we grabbed dinner and headed back to Ipswich before our final half day. We woke up partially well rested with the witchy vibes pulsing in our bones.

Our final day took a turn back towards city culture. My one friend, who is well versed in Asian culture, took us to a Hot Pot restaurant. I had never even heard of this community meal. Each person chooses ingredients they want in a soup broth and you combine it all together for one steamy, shared meal. We sat in a booth that contained a single electric stove top in the center and spooned soup into our shivering bodies. It was a comforting farewell before my return home.
 





 


 

October 15, 2018

Move your skinny jeans over and buy a new pack of hangers, because the latest fall/winter wardrobe staple has arrived.
 

Top brands such as Madewell, Free People, and more already stocked their shelves and online stores with their take on the cut-off or ankle culotte pant.
 

The best part of the culotte pant: they are beyond comfortable. Your street style needs a pair of culottes for casual work day wear or weekend brunch and antiquing.
 

Whether you are chasing the kiddos, running between appointments, or sitting in meetings all day, these pants literally fit your busy lifestyle. Culottes are easy to move in, feel breezy in hotter temperatures, and keep your legs warm in cooler temperatures without squeezing the life out of them like a second skin that needs to be peeled off at the end of the day.
 

This modern twist on a ‘70s boho vibe pairs well with day and night looks:

Casual: Crop or tucked-in t-shirts + tennis shoes

Comfy: French tuck chunky sweaters + booties

Chic: Vintage button down shirt tied in the front (crop) + pointed mules or boots
 

I tried a bunch of brands’ culotte cut-offs this season to find the right fit for me. The high-waisted tailoring to this style of pant definitely impacted the fit around my hips and stomach areas.
 

WHERE TO BUY YOUR OWN PAIR OF CULOTTES:

Free People, the Patti Pant in Black and Chili Flake – Ideal cut, color, and comfort of a culotte. These do 100% run small so purchase at least one size if not two up. My size is usually between a 26 and 27. I bought the 27 and they fit perfectly once on, but are still a bit tight around the hips pulling up and down.


Zara, the ZW Premium Marine Straight Jeans in Brown and Black – These were recommended by one of my #fashiongoals Instagram influencers, but they are my least favorite. They fit more like a cross blend of a jean and corduroy pant than a culotte. My legs are fairly long and these hit the floor for me instead of hitting above my ankle. They also run quite small and I could not even button my regular size.

Madewell, the Emmett Wide-Leg Crop Pants in Burnt Sienna – A bit of a heavier material that runs a teeny bit big in the waist, but I think that makes them all the more comfy and movable. These have a bit more of a flare and less of a tailor than the Free People Patti Pant making them naturally looser. If you have little ones, purchase these pants immediately before they run out so you can feel stylish without pulling on stiff pants.


Zara, the Straight Cut Hi-Rise Authentic Jeans in Black – I gave Zara a second chance and was happy I did even though the tailor is slightly more straight. These run small as well, so I think Zara’s sizing is simply that way. I normally wear a size 2 but opted for the size 4 or 27 waist for a perfect fit. The material feels more jean for an option that you can be a little more messy and a little less careful with, so you can save your Free People culottes for higher fashion occasions.

 

Nervous to try a pant with such a flare? First off, you CAN pull off culottes no matter how tall or short you are if you find the right pair. Their versatility fits all body types. But, you can start off with a straighter leg cut-off style ease into the fashion such as the insanely comfortable jeans called “The Power Jean aka The Perfect Straight Ankle” from Old Navy. (Pictured below.)
 


Needless to say, I’m obsessed with culotte cut-off pants this season. I don’t even want to put on my skinnies and combat or riding boots. Grab a pair of these QUICK while they float around various brands before they sell out and become extremely hard to find at any store!




 


 

October 10, 2018

“My love, it is a long time from here to the stars so let us travel the rest as one.” - Atticus poetry

Hard to believe, but Zach and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary this past Sunday! We went on one parts silly and one parts romantic trip to celebrate. 

1 Part Silly - Running around Universal Studios in Orlando on a double trip date with another couple that we adore. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Simpsons park, and best of all... all the Halloween horrors and haunted houses we could ask for this season! #Horrornerds

1 Part Romantic - A little beach time when we first arrive and spending our actual anniversary date, October 7th, alone together at Disney World's Epcot to eat & drink around the world and google-eye each other from across the table at a lovey dinner in "Morocco". 

After one year of marriage, we already grew so much as a couple - more than any other of the five years that we have spent together. I know life has so much adventure and hidden paths in store for us to explore together in the day and the night.

We (I) had to have this milestone commemorated, so we embarked on a starry night photo shoot session with the insanely talented local Indy photographer, Violet Short. We probably felt the closet and most natural during this session than any other previous (We've had a few. Thanks, babe.) and Violet captured our hearts and personalities so perfectly. The entire evening was simply idyllic. Xoxo

Happy One Year Anniversary to Us!
(All Photos Taken By: Violet Short Photography)
 


 





 


 

October 2, 2018

(Photo credit: Beauty's Bad Habit blog)

I'm going to lay it out right out of the bag (pun intended) that the SkinnyMint 28 day teatox is not worth your dollars in my opinion. Cleansing your body should be seen as a positive start to adding nutrients and removing harmful chemicals or foods in your diet, not a quick and easy reset button that floods contents out of your system. (Those don't exist, you should know that by now.)

A sip of SkinnyMint tea tastes subtle with the morning boost like a weak English Breakfast and minty for the night cup. My energy levels lifted without the need of coffee in the AM, which is a miracle. I also appreciated the packaging of SkinnyMint for an easily stored zip lock on my tea leaves to keep the freshness in instead of bulky boxes.

The SkinnyMint teatox takes a lot less effort and tea bags than the TinyTea by YourTea teatox that I completed a couple years ago. You drink one cup of morning SkinnyMint tea each day before or during breakfast and then one cup of post-dinner tea every other day. Compare that to three cups of tea before meals each day of TinyTea and you already know the easier solution to add to your routine.

Aside from the shear amount of tea that they instruct you to drink, I did prefer the TinyTea teatox because it felt more like the appropriate additive to your healthy diet to remove bloat, settle your tummy, and provide balancing nutrients to your gut. Albeit, still not a necessary product to "cleanse".

I definitely felt the laxative effect from the SkinnyMint teatox and while you might think, "That means it's working," I disagree and I didn't like it. The bloat disappeared but instead of settled, my tummy felt unrest and uneasiness. I attribute their advertisement of curbing your cravings or feeling less hungry to this uncomfortable feeling. You do not need to EVER take a detox or a cleanse as forcibly expelling the contents of your body. Put nutrients in your body and the toxins from your bad habits will naturally exude itself. 

Lily from the Beauty's Bad Habit blog honestly explains the ins and outs and down to the ingredients label details of the SkinnyMint teatox far better than I could. Rather than attempt to paraphrase, head on over to her SkinnyMint teatox review post and learn more about the facts of this detox product and why you can keep your cash.



 

September 25, 2018

It's the most wonderful time of the year! This Halloween season, I'm filling my candy basket with a healthier lifestyle. Zach's and my one year wedding anniversary (Whaaaat?!) is right around the corner, which led me to two realizations:
 

1. We fly to Florida for Universal Studios haunts & Walt Disney World Epcot romance for our anniversary trip in 2 WEEKS

2. Outside of my yearly ritual of March elliptical binge to beat deep seasonal depression, I have not held down a proper workout schedule, meal plan, or anything near a health routine for an entire year

Despite past blog posts about getting healthier, my post-wedding habits remain atrocious. Living in the moment for the holidays turned into winter blues binging turned into just one more month of drinking and eating fun turned into why can't I button these pants?

While watching TrueBlood, I did 3 sets of my own arms, abs, ass circuit this week , which is not even that rigorous, and I am sore two days later. Wake-up, muscles!

In case you haven't picked up on this yet, Fall is my FAVORITE season. Hand me a pumpkin beer and call me a basic bitch! It is also a season where I love to eat caramel apples, drink pumpkin beer, bake beer bread, eat apple crisp, drink fancy coffees, eat the cider doughnuts from the pumpkin patch we visit, lather apple butter on everything, maybe bake a pie, go on seasonal wine tastings, try a new muffin recipe, heat up a little rum spiked apple cider, eat pumpkin pie... and well, you get the picture.

I cannot possibly count out all of those unhealthy yet soul feeding traditions, but I can try to tuck them away for the weekends and maintain a healthy week routine. I can trade dessert, like my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, for sweet substitutions in other meals.

Breakfast and dinner are the two most important meals of the day for me. Starting the day healthy with enough food to fuel my energy without added sugar improves my habits and how my body feels. Ending the day with a filling (to avoid late night snacking) meal not smothered in cheese and loaded with carbs tends to be the harder task for me, so we will focus on breakfast.

Oatmeal or eggs are my breakfast go-to's, but in the Fall I crave fancy breads and muffins. Starbucks does not help this sugary temptation with their seasonal pumpkin and cream cheese muffin. To treat myself to those autumnal pumpkin flavors without derailing my morning bite each day, I adapted this pumpkin muffin recipe with my own plain oatmeal cups!

Oatmeal cup muffins such as this do wonders during the week because you can pop one in the microwave for a warm morning meal on the go or at your desk like you stopped by a healthy bakery on your way to work. I freeze half the batch in case I don't indulge in a muffin cup every day, so that none go to waste.

Trick your taste buds with a sweet morning treat that adds nutrition to your morning instead of sugars.
 


Serves: 12 muffin cups

Ingredients:

- 1 C pumpkin puree
- 1/2 C pure maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1/2T vanilla extract
- 4T almond butter
- 1/4 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 C oat flour (Make by grinding old fashion oats in food processor.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1T cinnamon

- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- Optional: 1/4 C chopped pecans or walnuts (I prefer pecans.)
 

Directions:

1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees

2. Mix wet ingredients (eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, maple syrup, egg, milk, almond butter) in a bowl

3. Blend oats in food processor to make oat flour if necessary

4. Add in oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice to the wet mixture

5. Once mixture is smooth, add in the chopped nuts and stir until distributed evenly

6. Pour the batter into a greased or lined muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full
7. Baked muffins in the oven for 20-25 minutes

8. Let muffins cool before serving
 

August 28, 2018

Money, money, money. I try to live with less, but then I always end up spending more. I don’t have a bad relationship money in the slightest, but I do seem to consistently spend up to the wire. I save well for a few months and then spend it on a trip or eating out or clothes instead of letting it continually rise. 

Zach and I are fortunate that the only debts we owe exist on our cars and the house; no tuition loans or secret credit card interest piling up live in our closet. But, his saving habits far exceed my own.

When my father died almost 5 years ago now, I was only 22 years old and had to learn about money quick. My parents raised me with proper work ethic and to never spend more than my means, but my college courses definitely did not prepare me for the ins and outs of investments and retirement savings, let alone handling my father’s estate.


I went the conservative route in my investments and set aside a chunk of change for a wedding and a future down payment on a house. I chose to be less aggressive because I did plan on experiencing significant life changes, like marriage and moving states, within the next 5-10 years.


Recently, I met with my new financial adviser and finally received a few answers to the financial questions I hadn’t known to ask previously and confirmation on others. You should question everything when it comes to your finances! For my fellow millennials or those of you entering the workforce with a substantial benefits plan, know your options and consider these suggestions:



Saving in general

I rarely shop at brick and mortars anymore, but I order items (clothes) online too frequently. It may feel like a holiday when I receive a package, but the $15 here and $30 there add up. If I see the money in my account, I want to spend it.


I started using an app called “Qapital” that securely connects to your bank savings accounts and allows you to set rules to save money. These rules include taking out x amount of dollars each time you get a paycheck, rounding your spending up to the next dollar and saving that amount, and rewarding yourself when you don’t spend somewhere. It helps you automatically save money without thinking or even realizing the money has been put safely away for later.



401(K)

I always heard that you should elect to contribute a percentage of your paycheck each payroll to your 401(K) that is at least equal to the percentage that your company will match, which is usually between 3%-6%. Also, I follow the plan of with the idea that you will get a raise each year, automatically adding an additional 1% to your contributions each year to slowly increase savings without your noticing.


I currently contribute 8% and my company matches 4%. During my visit with my new financial adviser, he suggested that I up it to 10% with a goal to eventually get to and stay at 15% contributions. Based on my previous knowledge, I found myself surprised at this high of a percentage. But, he noted that if I could reach 15%, then I would be comfortably set for the future.



Starting a new job

No one stays at a company for 30-40 years anymore. Millennials, myself included, have often found that advancing to the next step in your career often means joining a new company. Promotions and hiring within don’t occur as frequently anymore. We haven’t experienced roles with a built-in succession like our elders, so we have to seek opportunities elsewhere when we are ready for the next challenge.


If you elected to contribute to a 401(K) at your past company, which I hope you did, you need to do something with that money. I just learned how to do this almost two years after leaving my previous company, so you aren’t any more out of the loop than I am. You need to reach out to your past HR benefits department to obtain a proper 401(K) transfer form and an account statement or a portal log-in to pull one of those yourself.  You can choose to receive that as a liquid check, but 20% will be taken out of the total. At the suggestion of my financial adviser, I am transferring that money to an IRA with no cost penalty. This is wise as well because when you move from company to company during your career, you can then transfer all of your 401(K) earnings into this same IRA to ensure you don’t have earned money floating around in various accounts or funds. Consolidate and monitor!



Pay off that credit card

You should be paying off your credit card balance at the end of each month. Period. If you don’t, that interest adds up and then you are paying unnecessary money. We all have our vices, which makes planning where and how we spend a valuable balancing act. Zach and I love eating out for dinner, so we try to eat at home for breakfast and lunch, and we buy simple, healthy meals at the grocery for a smaller bill. This planning proves even more important if your bill payments are set-up for autopay through your credit card. More money, more problems.


As a rule, I pay off part of my credit card each time I receive a paycheck (every other Friday) so that I’m usually paying off more than I owe up to that date, so I don’t feel overwhelmed by having an entire paycheck go to my credit card bill once a month, and so that no charges are carried over to the next month and penalized. Debt is your enemy.



Balanced spending habits don’t happen overnight. If you continue to educate yourself on your finances and reevaluate your earnings, expenses, and investments at least once a year, you can set yourself up for success. Money isn’t everything, but it does matter, and budgeting so you don’t have to think about each time you swipe your credit card to buy groceries or worry if you can afford the restaurant bill on your night out will improve your quality of life.



 

August 24, 2018

Near the end of the summer every year, my great-aunt, Charlene, participates in the Table Setting fundraiser at our Synagogue. Companies, such as Z Gallerie, professionals, and congregation members who know how to host an impressive dinner party participate in decorating a single table setting from the linens to the centerpiece.
 

Charlene, or Bobbie as we call her, which is a childhood nickname derivative of the Yiddish word "Bubbe" (Bub-bee) meaning "grandmother", provides the dips, finger foods, and mini desserts for the fundraiser. She lines three to four tables with her infamous treats and appetizers for all to nosh.
 

The women in my family always put on our summer day florals to attend the event on the Sunday. While we are mostly there for our Bobbie's food and visiting with her and her daughters, who usually fly in from Atlanta to assist, we weave between the gorgeously decorated tables completely enthralled between bites.
 

The tables are each designed in their own concept determined by their decorator; some use contemporary motifs, some include china passed down through generations, and some detail a specific theme.
 

Picking a favorite proves difficult, but I usually go for one that executes a theme well without being too cheesy or a sleek, modern looking table setting. Last year an Alice in Wonderland table caught my eye, designed by a professional in the Jewish community. This year, I actually favored a vendor's setting, which I immediately logged on to Crate & Barrel's website to order pieces from for my formal dining ware after the event.
 

I understand the importance of serving Passover Seder or significant milestone and celebratory family dinners on proper China. But I also side with the women who hosted fancy meals for decades, like my great-aunt and grandmother, who realize that not every meal or family gathering or party requires such grandeur or hand washing effort anymore. Once in a while, you whip out the attractive but contemporary dishes that you can stick in the dishwasher later or, dare I say, the plastic plates. 
 

I agree that the steep decline in people dressing up for events or hosting cocktail and dinner parties at their homes is extremely saddening. But, as one of the few in my circle of friends who does still carry on these traditions, I find it quite snobbish to turn one's nose up at plate ware on certain occasions. I'm simply thankful that I'm being invited to dinner in any case. Be realistic, chill out, and don't put such unnecessarily high expectations on your younger family, please.
 

I'm fortunate that my Jewish family knows how to host exceptional parties and passes that etiquette knowledge down through the generations. But, we also know when to pull out the paper plates and enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers and simply soak up each other's presence, not focus on high brow "expectations". Everything has its time and proper place and you must enjoy all sides of life.
 

At special events, I adore vintage and ornate place settings and decor. Take me to the early 1900s, please. I'll happily arrive in a dress with lace and heels. But, not everyone feels that way, and I like to think of the guests that I'm hosting.
 

In my own home, I prefer to take elements from those designs and simplify them for a cleaner, cozier look and feel. Or, including one vintage piece, such as teacups. There's no sense in making your guests feel stuffy or awkward in these times for a casual sit down dinner amongst friends or close relatives.
 

So to that, I cheers my cheap IKEA red wine glass to you. I find the contemporary, minimalistic styles more welcoming and chic for the "modern" home. Clean lines, cool colors, and an element of the outdoors. Fancy doesn't have to mean an insane price tag or elaborate designs in my book. It's all about the presentation and making your guests feel at home.
 

In my generation, Crate & Barrel is seen as quality products for the home. Why? Because they are semi-affordable without being cheap. Most people my age can't simply walk in a purchase a couch their on a whim. (Zach and I went to Ashley Furniture for ours instead, even though it's a bit smaller and less comfy than the one we wanted at C & B, because it was much more affordable.) But, their style appeals to us. A mix of classic and modern with pieces that will last. We want chic, simple, and comfy all in one.
 

Naturally, when I saw the Crate & Barrel table setting at the Synagogue's fundraiser, my eye was drawn to it before I even knew who was responsible for the decor. (Not that I found myself surprised when I found out.)
 

The geometrical glassware appears high end and reminiscent of mid-century modern styles without creating a fear that a strong hand could break it like a dainty crystal glass. The white, minimal plates set up a successful presentation for whatever food you're about to taste on them. The cross between a moss and forest green table cloth and napkins provides a subtle texture to the overall design for a more sophisticated look with olive branch napkin rings. The greenery, candles, and black stones of the centerpiece forms a relaxing, homey atmosphere with a clear effort shown to make your guests take notice of your style.
 

Our kitchen is designed after the French style cafe, Petite Chou, with grey, white, and black colors and a mix of French countryside wood furniture and fancier details such as a silver candelabra. Stylish yet welcoming. I thought the green and natural elements of the Crate & Barrel table setting would fit well into our current setting for a formal dinner evening. Click, click, buy.
 

I've honestly never went on to purchase pieces from the table settings at the fundraiser before. Maybe it's because I was recently married or maybe it's because I simply adore Crate & Barrel, but I crossed that first off my list.
 

Attending events such as this, aside from supporting my great-aunt's delicious cooking, always prove to be of value to learn something new, be exposed to new styles, and be part of the norms of another generation.
 

As we mingled with my grandma's and great-aunt's long time Jewish friends, I kept hearing advice (often much too loudly) about the dos and don'ts of the tables. I suppose it's all about the balance between cluttered and boring.

Table Setting Details to Think About:

- Color scheme

- Theme or vibe

- Table cloth and matching or complementary napkins (linens)

- Napkin holder/ring

- Dishes (style and what kinds; ex: plate(s) and bowl)

- Utensils style and metal color

- Chargers or placemats

- Florals or greenery (live or fake)

- Centerpieces (candles? figurines? props?)

- Textures

- Seating style and material (cushions? drapery on chairs?)

- Glassware (cups, mugs, wine glass, cocktail glass, etc.)

- Placing all the dining ware in the appropriate spots
 

My aunt suggested that we make a table with my great-grandmother's China from Germany next year. Apparently renting the linens and decor is simple if we can cover the flowers and place settings. So, we are already toying around with ideas for next years table setting fundraiser. Come visit!




 





 

August 16, 2018

Judge all you want, but I still favor the cheaper clothing stores. Zach often looks at me with a puzzled look when yet another H&M package arrives at our door. But, chances are that box contains two dresses that were less than $15.00 a piece.
 

Since I was old enough to pick out shiny purple pants at Limited Too for my 9th birthday present from my grandparents, I've gotten a natural high off of being a fashionista. Not all of my experimental looks were great, (I'm looking at you, scene Mallory.) but nabbing the latest trends and fitting them to my style makes me feel at my best each day. I want to be able to grab any piece in my closet and still get a vibe that speaks to my personality, no matter my mood.
 

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.'” ― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman.
 

Maintaining an up to date look means swiping that credit card a little too often. It also means tossing out the old to make room for the new articles of clothing in my closet. I make it a rule that I have to get rid of an item if I want to hang up an additional one.
 

It's not a positive fact, but we live in a throw away consumer society. I do my best to let my discarded clothes pile up and then tote them off to Goodwill. While I don't believe in being wasteful, I do love the concept of being able to afford the latest styles and not feeling guilty about my wallet when I want to upgrade my wardrobe or home decor. (IKEA for life!)
 

I don't have $50 to spend on a t-shirt or $100 to spend on a winter sweater. I don't shop at fancy department stores. I buy brand name pieces from Knot Sisters, Free People, Olive & Oak, and Urban Outfitters on the resale app, Poshmark, at a huge discount when I miraculously find them. Most of the time, I walk on in to Forever 21 like I have since I was 14, pause at the overwhelm from the lack of organization, and then get my shop on.
 

Yes, I realize buying cheap means the material is cheap and might not last as long. I avoid the thin, translucent materials at all times. More often than not, I don't need the article of clothing to last more than five years. I'll be all too tempted to switch up my style way before then.
 

For the record, a few college pieces from Forever 21 or H&M still hang in my closet 6+ years later in fabulous condition. It's all about taking care of what you've got. And, I'll spend a little extra on staple pieces or shoes that I want to last.
 

I recently had a spontaneous shopping haul at Forever 21. As a 90s kid, I love the multi-colored striped crop tops, Cher schoolgirl mini skirts, and Gwen Stefani plaid pants that are back in fashion. I think my bank account realizes that, too. 

Here are a few of my staple summer to fall finds & wardrobe must haves courtesy of Forever 21:




HIGH WAIST SHORTS & STRIPED TEE CROP TOP



BOMBER JACKET

 

SCHOOLGIRL MINI SKIRT & CLASSIC BERET


PLAID/GINGHAM CROP PANTS


"SUSPENDER" SKATER SKIRTS



If you know you're going to frequently swap, then make sure you save! Resell your old threads, buy resale, give to charity, and buy cheaper. 


 





 

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