Friday, November 29, 2013

Winner: Black Opal's Best Man Holiday Makeup Collection

Lil Lovebird in one of her Nana's creations!
Happy belated Thanksgiving! Did you wake up stuffed like we did? Ughhhh!

Popping in to share the winner of the Black Opal Best Man Holiday Makeup Collection:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats Dani - I'll email you so you can receive your prize!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Home Decor Inspired by a Friend

After 6 months in our apartment we're picking up the pace on decorating especially with our upcoming holiday cookie exchange, and while it's so easy to look to social media inspiration I also like to take cues from my friends.

When we visited Boston in September a good friend of mine invited us to her new home and we were wowed by her bright, sophisticated yet comfortable space. 

She graciously let me give you a sneak peek today:


Here are the design cues I'm taking from my friend:
  • Pops of color - I'm loving the punchy pillows! I also adore the colorful gallery wall with a variety of sizes yet themed to New England living 
  • Add some green - I desperately want plants (I've tried before without success) and a Christmas tree doesn't count! 
  • Don't overlook tight spaces - I would've thought the pan rack was too tight of a space, but Michelle showed me how it worked perfectly to free up precious cabinet space; I also like how she added art to the small space as well 
  • Seek out artisan pieces - the floating wood shelf was handmade and it's a gorgeous addition to the kitchen; additionally the small vignette of colored glassware nestled in a crate draped with a tea cloth adds a bit of delicacy to the shelf 
  • Instruments as decor - I'm determined to get my childhood piano back from my parents house (no one plays it and it's badly out of tune) not only for practical purposes (I want Nia to start lessons next year) but also because it warms up the room

Are you inspired by spaces you see in person or those online? Any big decor projects at your home lately? 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What to Cook When You Have Other Things to Cook

Is the title confusing?

Let me explain . . .

During the holiday season I find the focus on the big meal makes the other "less important" meals suffer. When your task is making the turkey (which can take 3 days if you're defrosting and brining) or prepping stuffing or mac n' cheese who really has time to make a full blown dinner or breakfast?

I'm all about shortcuts (and avoiding the trap of eating out)! Here's a couple things I like to make that get me through this awkward cooking period.


If you follow me on Instagram you'll see I made a batch of America's Test Kitchen's Morning Glory Muffins yesterday (I've posted about them before here). Chock full of nuts, dried cranberries, pineapple, coconut and carrots these muffins have pretty much everything I love and coupled with a glass of milk keeps me full until lunch.  If you want to add more protein boil a few eggs in advance to take one with your muffin for breakfast on the go. Nia ate one on her walk to school this morning and Mr. Lovebird took one on his commute to work!


I'm really lax when it comes to a midday meal and most days I can get by without eating lunch. When I do it's small. Something like this:

I keep a few fresh veggies in the fridge that I pair with hummus, rice crackers and fruit and that's lunch - nice and easy!


This time of year I get really excited for my slow cooker and while I like to make chili the thickness of it especially the week of a heavy meal like Thanksgiving is a bit much so I'll do something easier that doesn't take as much prep like a tortellini soup:

I heat up store-bought broth (chicken or veggie your choice) on the stove top, throw in my favorite refrigerated tortellini, scallions and pepperoni and dinner's done in about 20 minutes.

What do you cook when you have other things to cook? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekend Recap: Let the Holiday Festivities Begin

Emerging out of the house Friday after a week of nurse duty had me running through the streets of Manhattan like:

With the city all dressed up for the holidays and a few parties to attend we officially kicked off my favorite season of all . . . 

Jacob's Pickles (at last!) with my sister

Celebrating dad's chieftaincy

A special hug from her great-grandma



I think Sunday sushi should be a tradition, agree?

Have you started attending holiday parties yet? Are you hosting one? Tell me about it!

P.S. There's still time left to enter to win my Best Man Holiday makeup collection giveaway. Click here!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Win It: Black Opal's The Best Man Makeup Collection

I have to admit: I feel left out having not yet seen The Best Man Holiday but with our Lil Lovebird under the weather nearly a week now I'm hoping to make it to a matinee Thanksgiving weekend. The movie performed very well its opening weekend and as it heads into weekend #2 I'm excited to share a fab giveaway with you! 

{Image Credit}
Black Opal Cosmetics, the leading beauty authority for women of color, has developed a special Best Man Holiday makeup collection inspired by Nia Long’s character Jordan Armstrong, a very strong, dynamic, and independent woman. While inspired by Nia Long, the collection also reflects hints of all the beauties and personalities in the film. 

The collection features: 

I'm giving away one set of The Best Man Holiday Collection to one lucky reader! Enter via Rafflecopter below - there are 3 required entries with the rest being optional. Giveaway ends Thursday, November 28 with the winner announced on Friday, November 29. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

1,000 Posts

I love celebrating birthdays, but when it comes to other milestones for some reason I'm not a big celebrator. I can't tell you the "dateiversary" of me and Mr. Lovebird or the anniversary of our first kiss and when it comes to blogging I don't even notice when my "blogiversary" arrives. However, as I've been writing the past couple months I've noticed my 1,000th post approaching in my  dashboard's post count tally and here it is.

I guess I should celebrate, right?

Keeping up with blogging is not hard, but it takes dedication. I'm committed to it after having kept a journal since I was 7; it just feels natural to write in some form!

Blogging has been a good metaphor for other areas of my life that I need to be as committed ...
  • A daily quiet time
  • Exercise
  • Eating more fruits and veggies
  • Getting better at braiding Nia's hair (her screams even when I lightly touch her hair stop me cold!)
  • Writing outside the blog
I think it might be time to use the blog as a type of accountability partner - have any of you ever tried that? It's a very public way to stay dedicated, and I'd rather do it here than clogging up my other social media feeds with all the oversharing that drives people nuts.

How do you stay accountable? Help me out!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Stand Out

I've mentioned briefly my previous career in media but haven't shared before how I got there. The story's been popping up in my head lately as I'm thinking ahead to 2014 plans. . .

At my NYC internship
In 1998 as a senior in high school we were required to complete an internship called May Program to graduate. It was a "choose your own adventure" type of thing where each senior had to write a proposal and get it approved before heading off to her unique experience for the month of May before graduation in June.

While watching a segment on E! about Envirosell a NYC-based marketing firm which studies shoppers' behavior, I got the brilliant idea that I would do my May Program there. I wrote a letter and was told that because I was in high school that an internship wouldn't be possible. I explained my special program, that they wouldn't have to pay me and even asked one of my teachers to reach out to them on my behalf and they were still pretty resistant. Next, I offered to meet them when I would be there for college visitations at NYU and they cautiously agreed. The meeting was a success and they signed me on for my May Program. It was an eye-opening experience especially into NYC living, and while it would be another 9 years before I could be there permanently, the following summer Envirosell invited me back for a paid internship the entire duration of the summer. By then I was a rising Sophomore at Wellesley College and I remember graduating seniors who were baffled at how I was able to score such a set up (the pay was even better than my very first advertising job out of college).

The key to this door opening? Being tenacious and pleasantly persistent.

I recently read an old interview with Rashida and Kidada Jones about their personality differences growing up and how Rashida followed the proper channels to get on set of her favorite TV show without success while Kidada took unconventional methods to stand out and landed in the audience of Punky Brewster. Although this article is 8 years old the advice still stands especially in this competitive economy: you have to get creative! The usual channels of sending resumes, cold calling etc. don't necessarily work, and I've taken to using the same tactic for blogging. 

In the blogging world statistics are king and while there are ways to pad and inflate I'm more along the methodology of organic growth. I prefer quality over quantity, and I've found that partnering with brands that have this mentality is best for me. 

While I don't have the stats to be part of the upper echelon of bloggers who get the high-profile opportunities, what I've found is making personal connections is best. Sure it'd be easy to rest on stats, but I value a brand that wants to work with me because of my personality, skill set and work ethic. It's even better if I can continue to organically grow stats-wise while building on those traits that I value.

My advice to you whether blogging, redefining your career path or just maintaining is to look for ways to remain fresh and relevant and seek unconventional means for carving your own path. As Pic Monkey said at Blogalicious5 (channeling Seth Godin): find your purple cow

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sick Day

Throwback sick baby Nia

My Lil Lovebird isn't feeling too well today so she's home with me. Her little immune system just can't stand up to preschool and since starting she's had some type of cough or sniffle THE.ENTIRE.TIME. save the first 3 weeks of school. 

No fun!

The good news though is she's in good spirits and requested cookies for breakfast which got me thinking about my favorite sick day pick-me-ups...

Honey Ginger Tea
Oatmeal Cookies (without raisins please!)

Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

A Comfy Blanket

I have the cream one and love it {via}

A Stack of Magazines

Lucky arrived over the weekend, and I didn't realize it was Kerry at first glance! {via: Lucky, Real Simple}

A Few Old Movies

{via: To Sir With Love, Father of the Bride, Funny Face}

After I told Lil Lovebird that she couldn't go to school she asked, "But can I go to Thanksgiving?" So sad!

Anyone else having sick days in their household? 

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Let's Get a Christmas Tree This Weekend!"

What in the holy name...?!

Yes, that quote in the post title is from Mr. Lovebird who while on the road for work this week suggested we get a Christmas tree when he returns from his business trip. Now I'm all for decking the halls and with our loft's soraing ceilings I'm completely ready to take advantage of them this year by getting a huge tree, but before Thanksgiving???

No, no, nooooooo!

My silly dad celebrating Mr. Lovebird's first time at a tree farm  -  Columbus Ohio::Thanksgiving 2009

I grew up with the tradition of going to a Christmas tree farm the day after Thanksgiving and Mr. Lovebird grew up with an artificial tree, which I think is deplorable! My family even got a tree with a bulb one year so we could replant it, but it didn't thrive. 

At least we tried. 

Christmas 2008 in Ohio
Christmas is a sensitive time for our family because Uka lost his mother on Christmas Day several years ago. Once having Nia, and now that she's understanding more, we're making it more into our own family celebration while keeping the memory of my mother-in-law alive. 

We won't be home for Thanksgiving but are coming back in time to get a tree the Sunday after, and I've scouted out a few farms that we can consider for our freshly cut Christmas tree. If we got our tree right now I just don't think it'd make it until New Year's when we'd take it down.

For now I'm finding tall tree inspiration via Pinterest (I'm thinking of an 8-10 ft tree!):



How early does your family get a tree? Are you team real or fake?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm Heading to Salt Lake City!

2014 is going to be a big year, and I'm kicking it off in an exciting way because I won a ticket to Alt Design Summit's Alt SLC - the premiere creative blogging conference! It came about via a Twitter party yesterday afternoon, and I had to wait until the evening for the results. 

When I saw this tweet:

I was all like:

{Image credit}
This is my little blogger heart's dream come true! I've mentioned Alt from time to time and even this spring while on my cruise I waited patiently (and unsuccessfully) at an overpriced onboard computer station to purchase a coveted ticket to Alt NYC, but the site crashed immediately when the tickets went on sale. I was so sad because I dearly wanted to get a taste of Alt especially since it was affordably right in my own back yard. A ticket to the main event - Alt SLC - is sold out and a grand investment that hadn't quite been in my budget.

Don't know what Alt is? Alt attendee Koseli Cummings sums it up perfectly:

This is a group of people who travel from all over the world because they want to innovate and challenge "online journaling" into a medium of valuable curated imagery and inspiration, innovative marketing and sales strategy, unique business partnerships, and powerful community. This is a group ripe with ideas, working knowledge, and extreme passion. These are people who can't sit still, most likely have their hands in way too many pots, have too many ideas and too little time—people like you. 

Need to see pictures? 

Here's a glimpse of Alt SLC '13 (all images via Alt Summit photographer Justin Hackworth) . . .

What I'm most excited about? 
  • A Different Crowd - vs. other conferences I've gone to what most appeals to me about Alt is that it's for super creative types, and I'm excited to connect with a varied group of bloggers than I've associated with previously especially as I have exciting plans for my blog and personal brand in '14 
  • It's the 5th Anniversary - similar to Blogalicious' 5th anniversary this year I know Alt is going to go all out for the big anniversary; many blogging conferences come and go but Alt is here to stay, and I'm excited to join at last during such an important milestone year
  • Location - it's in Salt Lake City, where I've never been, but my mom's gone and raves about it especially the topography - I'm excited to trade in views of skyscrapers for views of open sky and mountains (and super crisp air as my mom reports!)
{Image credit}
  • Accommodations - the hotel is immaculate and has outstanding reviews; it appears to be sold out already so I'll be looking for a roommate situation similar to Blogalicious - any readers with leads please let me know!
  • Uber Intimate & Hands-On - I've shared before how I find smaller conferences to be more my speed and this conference will probably be the smallest I've been to; not only is this good for connecting with other bloggers but also with brands as Alt arranges pre-conference dinners for the attendees to connect with them the night before registration (a few of the brands at Alt are Method, The Honest Company, Bing, Joss & Main and Minted); also the fact that there's a day designated for hands-on Design Camp makes my heart sing - rather than sit and soak up lots of good info I'm looking forward to putting it into practice immediately!
  • The Halo Effect of Sundance - Alt takes place during Sundance Film Festival and conference attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the close proximity to the festivities - I'd like to slip away for a movie and some celebrity stalking sightings!
I've said it before (via my hometown pastor), and I still agree: the atmosphere of expectancy is the breeding ground of miracles, and I'm so excited with the anticipation of what Alt SLC will jumpstart in 2014!

Thank you Alt Design Summit for the opportunity.

Will you be at Alt SLC or have been before? Let me know - I'm going to be in Alt crash course mode the next couple months!


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