A Change of Seasons

 

spring

 [ The Sloppy Tuna in Montauk]

Spring is on its way soon and like usual, I am overly excited. I just can’t shut myself up. I must mention it to at least one of my friends daily, oh em gee spring is coming, it’s going to be sooo fun and we can wear bright nail polish and sandals and have drinks on a rooftop because in NYC when it’s warm out, thats what you do, you try to get as close to the sun as possible by standing on a roof with a cocktail in hand. I’m like the Buddy the Elf of spring & summer.

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[ Sheep Meadow in Central Park - the place where you go to pretend it's the beach.  Bikinis, picnics and all ].

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[ Pool fun in The Hamptons ]

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[ Washington Square Park in full bloom ]

I think I just get really nostalgic about spring and summer in NYC because some of the best moments of my life have happened then. I look back to my first summer here – I was fresh out of college and living in my dream city, it was a total adventure. There were so many people to meet and places to go. It was the time of my life. The thing is though, is that I still feel that way! I cannot wait for pure happiness in the form of…

Iced coffee. Okay, sometimes I’m a rebel and drink iced in the winter, but still! Now I don’t have to get annoying comments about it :).
Central Park – everything about it. Running, riding bikes, laying out like I’m at the beach, picnic parties on Sheep Meadow
Daylight Saving’s Time. I don’t care if I miss an hour of sleep, the sun is out longer. Do you hear me?! The SUN will be shining longer. It’s a big deal. Sunday, March 9 by the way.
Rooftop bars & parties. Like I mentioned before, New Yorker’s are desperate to be outdoors the moment the temps get to at least 55 degrees and sunny. What do we do when that day comes? We flock to the largest open space we can find at happy hour that is outdoors – on a rooftop of course. Fun music & good drinks with friends…it’s the best!
Brunch, outdoors of course. Nothing beats getting brunch with a big group of friends, and it’s even better when the sun is shining.
The beach. Weekend trips to The Hamptons are always a blast, everyone’s in a good mood and happy to be outside. I love Montauk, Sag Harbor and Georgica Beach.

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[ The always fun Frying Pan, right off the Westside Highway.  Who knew there was a huge floating bar & restaurant in Manhattan?! ]

In all (somewhat) seriousness though, to me, it symbolizes a new beginning. After spending three weeks in the hospital in February & early March 2011 for my cancer diagnosis, I felt so liberated when they finally let me out. Imagine staying indoors for three weeks straight – it ain’t fun. Then, I remembered it was still freezing out, so yet again I was cooped up for the following couple of weeks after. Once spring slowly started to creep up, my mom and I would take walks all over the city and I noticed my mood began to brighten. We’d see the trees blooming, Central Park coming alive with greenery, the restaurants opening their windows and moving their tables to the sidewalks and each day would become longer and brighter.

Basically, I love having something to look forward to and nothing beats the warmer months in NYC.  What is your favorite part about spring?

This Week’s Loves – February 21

thisweekPopped into this cute West Village restaurant/coffee shop with Lindy this week called Nourish Kitchen + Table.  I’m in love!  Tons of healthy, fresh options in a beautiful space.  You can even sit at a table and watch them at work in the kitchen.  I’ll definitely be stopping by here again soon!

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Oysters and prosecco at Hudson Clearwater on a random Thursday night with Lindy & Gracie.

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Obsessed with these neon glowing windows outside of DVF in the Meatpacking District.

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Yum, yum, yum.  A typical breakfast of coffee + gluten free toast + almond butter.  I rarely eat sweeter breakfasts (I’m all about eggs!) but this hits the spot sometimes.

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Treated myself to some new beauty goodies.  This eyeshadow, Woodwinked is perfect for everyday wear.  I love that it has just a hint of shimmer but it’s not too dark.  I tend to overdo it on the eye makeup, no shame in that though ;)  Oh! & this lipstick is my new favorite – Creme Cup.  It goes on thick like regular lipstick so it lasts a while, but the color is a really gorgeous nude/pink for everyday wear.

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Sometimes healthy desserts are well, not remotely tasty.  These Rawxies are raw, vegan, gluten free cookies.  They are simply amazeballs and heart shaped, which makes them extra cute.thisweek2

 

Mellow Citrus Green Juice

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The other morning I hopped out of bed (wait, no. I slowly crawled out of bed and trudged my way to the kitchen) to make a glass of fresh juice.

I was craving something on the sweeter side and I am a citrus freak so I threw together grapefruit, lemon, carrot, romaine, spinach and broccoli (the stalks especially make the juice sweet).  I actually used to hate grapefruit juice as a kid. I always assumed it was old people juice because old people must not like sugar if they want to drink something so bitter?!  Ha, guess I’m old because now it’s my fave juice (& cocktail mixer).

Although juice is delicious and a nice treat, the reason I really drink it is for the health benefits. Consuming juice is an easy way to get the nutritional benefits of fresh produce, and because the fiber is extracted it goes straight to your blood stream, which takes up way less energy for your body to absorb the nutrients.  My Mellow Citrus Green Juice cocktail is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals – but you probably already knew that ;)

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What I used:

+ 1 whole lemon (removed the peel)

+ 1 whole grapefruit (removed the peel)

+ 1 large carrot

+ 1 large head of romaine

+ 1 handful of spinach

+ 1 small stalk of broccoli

Juice it all together & drink up, buttercup!

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Luxe for Less

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Happy Monday lovelies! I’ve been on a shopping diet lately, and I think it’s a record for me. Seriously, I haven’t bought any clothes or accessories in a few months in order to save some dinero. When I walk past my favorite stores, I imagine its how someone on a juice fast walks by a cupcake shop. Ps – I tried a juice cleanse once and lasted half a day before diving into a pile of kale chips, at least they were kale chips though – right?

Anyway, this whole shopping diet has made me get super creative with my existing closet, but I’m getting antsy and I can’t wait for spring clothes! All I know is that I’m lusting after this leather Marie Turnor fold over, lunch-bag inspired clutch.  Fun right? And way cooler than a paper bag…

I’m a big fan of the unique design and it’s refreshing to see a little bag that stands out from the more structured and serious ones. I love how it’s so versatile and can look great for daytime paired with some boyfriend jeans and a tank, or dressed up at night with a flirty skirt or dress. The original is definitely a splurge, but not to worry – I always find an alternative!

luxeforlessMarie Turnor Clutch (this style is from ShopBop, but can be found on the Marie Turnor site as well!)

Lulu’s Clutch

Zara Clutch

 

How To Get That Shiny Victoria’s Secret Hair

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I have two hair products I discovered over the weekend that I must share with you.  They are so great that it would be cruel not to tell you about them!  You can actually thank my sister Kathryn for these two beauty goodies.  Ever since my hair grew back in from chemo a couple years ago, I’m slightly obsessed (a.k.a kind of OCD) about treating my strands with great care.

If you’re looking to make your locks more luscious then you’re in for a treat.  Being a blonde,  it’s easy for my hair to get dull from hard water, the environment and heat styling.  Well recently my sister purchased this product by Malibu C called Malibu Blondes, which they call a Health & Wellness Treatment.  This cute little box with 12 tiny envelopes of “vitamin crystals” is pure magic!  You mix the crystals with water in your hands while in the shower, apply to all of your hair, let it sit for five minutes, rinse out and voila!  The point of it?  It dramatically intensifies blonde hair (whether bleached or natural) and removes any impurities and yellow/brassy tones for a more radiant color.  After one packet, I could tell my hair already looked healthier and more vibrant.  An added tip – while you let it sit you can blow dry your hair on low-heat to activate it, then hop back in the shower to shampoo and condition.

malibublondeNon-blondes don’t feel left out, because they have many many products for you too.  Anything from repairing your hair from well water, to color correction, to swimmer’s hair, these handy little packets can help out any hairy situation.  These are so easy to take with you on a trip, so you can always stay on top of your hair care routine no matter where you are.  So no more lugging around liquids through airport security or crying over spilled conditioner.

Best of all – their products are 100% vegan and they use plant-derived ingredients.  No freaky chemicals infiltrating your scalp and precious hair with Malibu C!  To top it off, I applied a quarter sized amount of BioSilk Silk Therapy Serum to my hair after I blow dried it which gave my hair a silky smooth sheen and made it feel extra soft.  I highly recommend this if you heat style or dye your hair as it does a great job at protecting your strands. Lets just say my sister supplies some fab hair products when I come to visit!  You can get this from any beauty retailer, or on Amazon for about $15.  I’m certain you’ll be a fan once you try these beauty goodies.

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Florida Weekend Recap

I have had major separation anxiety from my blog.  If I could hug it, I would.  Over the weekend I was back home in Florida soaking up some much needed sun and spending time with my family.  I was also forced to relax even more when my computer decided to not cooperate and let me get online.  But wow.  My heart is exploding with excitement because I have so many pins to pin! So many blogs to read through! So many things to write about!  Funny how when you log off for a few days though, you really do feel like you’re escaping.  It felt kinda liberating, and it inspired me to actually sit down and read a book.  A real book with paper pages.  Not a magazine, not a blog, not a book on my iPad.  I spent so much quality time with some of my favorite people, because when it comes down to it – that’s what life is all about.

flAn icy start to my trip.  It was about 20 degrees out with snow still on the ground, luckily I took off on time still!

fl2A few hours later and I’m in weather shock – it’s 82 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  I love NYC, but I also love year-round summertime!  I forgot it was the middle of February.  I used to lay out in college at the pool and study for exams – that was the life.

fl3This little stairway was a high school hangout of mine.  We’d all go to the beach in big groups and hangout at the Juno Beach Pier.  Ahh, memories!

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fl5Sandy arms, lace pants, sunglasses and beach hair.

fl7The palm tree scene at Guanabana’s.  The landscape here provides the perfect backdrop for drinking wine and hanging out.

fl8We played tennis for hours on Sunday!  I forgot how much fun tennis is.  It’s fun switching up the usual gym routine for some outdoor activity.  I totally suck, but it’s fun to hit the balls around the court, right?

fl9Check out that gorgeous sunset from above the clouds.  I’m totally that person on the plane snapping photos constantly of the sky and view from below.  P.S – Bethenny Frankel was on my flight back to NYC and sat right in front of me!

fl10Cutest Dog in the World award goes to this puggle, Maggie.  We consider her a member of our family!

 

Healthy, Slimming and Smart Breakfasts

breakfast3If there is any point of the day when I do my healthiest eating, it’s in the morning. There’s something about waking up and setting the tone for the rest of the day by eating a breakfast with fresh produce and some filling proteins & healthy fats. Lets be real though, sometimes I wake up and go straight for the caffeine buzz and chocolate covered almonds before anything else.  Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? It’s totally my guilty pleasure eating chocolate when I hop out of bed.

breakfastAfter having a crazy busy January with moving to my new apartment, I am finally settled in and starting to get back into my routine. I have a cute, spacious-for-NYC-standards kitchen that I am excited to start using, and it’s inspired me to get back on track with more healthy, less junky eating. One of my favorite ways to start my day on the right foot eating-wise is with a plate of food that offers me a little variety. Eating (when you’re not rushing out the door, crazy busy, etc.) should be an experience that is savored and enjoyed, and there’s something about most breakfast stuff that doesn’t excite me (or keep me full) all that much, like cereal, oatmeal and Greek yogurt. Those items combined with some other goodies though, keep it interesting!

This plate of goodness below keeps me full for a few hours and provides me a nice mix of plenty of essential healthy fats and antioxidants. I call it my brain-food breakfast because blueberries, avocados and salmon all have beneficial effects on the brain, including improved memory.

breakfast2When I make plates like this, I always make it a point to include protein, healthy fat and some form of fresh produce, which is a nice formula for keeping you full throughout the morning.  Obviously there are tons of healthy breakfast options out there, but here is an example of my favorite nutrient dense foods that I like to mix and match for my first meal of the day…

healthyfats Also, lets not forget morning drinks! I have made a habit of chugging a glass of water before consuming anything else to start the day off hydrated. Then, I end up going straight for the coffee. What makes me feel even better though, is drinking warm (not hot) lemon water with a dash of cayenne on an empty stomach and waiting at least 15 – 30 minutes to eat (& drink caffeine).

breakfast4 Lemon is a natural detoxifier and is full of electrolytes to help get the body’s PH in balance.  As for cayenne, it may sound weird to have in the morning, but it kick-starts your metabolism by increasing your body temperature and it aids in digestion and blood sugar regulation.  I’d suggest drinking this out of a metal or glass straw to protect your teeth enamel from the acidity of the lemon juice. Another great A.M beverage on an empty stomach is fresh green juice, which you can make at home with a juicer or grab from a local juice bar if you’re lucky enough to live close to one!  My fave morning mix contains mellow, less bitter veggies such as romaine + cucumber + celery + lemon + ginger.

Happy morning eating!

Life Begins At the End of Your Comfort Zone

Lets talk about COURAGE, my word of the year. Something for me to follow for 365 days and beyond, once I get the hang of it of course.  No matter how many inspirational Pinterest quotes I look at, it’s not always easy to stick to being motivated, strong, dedicated or whatever I’m really requiring that day just to get by. That’s when I look to the past to find my inspiration. I know, I know looking to the past is going against all of that “don’t look back, just keep moving forward!” stuff, but when it comes to digging up some serious encouragement, sometimes I go straight to the last time I got through something courageously. It really could be anything from beating cancer (kind of a big deal) to speaking in front of a large audience (not life or death, but my voice shakes like crazy). Looking back to those moments in my life it reminds me that I got through it, and better than I even imagined. Plus, there were some parts that I actually really enjoyed. Example? Public speaking is actually really fun, especially if you have something on your heart that you really want to share. Cancer? Okay, not FUN but I did get to spend amazing time with my family and enjoy springtime in NYC every single day (when I wasn’t having a temper tantrum that I was bald, that is).

It was three years ago this month that I was diagnosed with cancer at 24-years-old. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I mean, how could I? To me, I was so busy anticipating “scary” chemotherapy treatments and losing both my hair and the many things in life I once took for granted. In the very moment though of having to shave the remnants of my hair or having a bone marrow biopsy (trust me, you don’t ever want one of these), I faced it head on and did it. Sure I wanted to rip the IV’s out of my arm and run out of the hospital, but I did what I had to do. Sure, you may want to not confront something difficult that makes you uneasy BUT do what you have to do.

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If only I could have told my past self in that moment sitting in the chemo chair that I’d now be sitting here three years later healthy and alive! Still blogging too :).

As much as I can be laid back and not take life too seriously (because life is all about fun and adventure when it comes down to it), it’s actually really easy for me to get nervous and anxious – even over little things. And it’s in my current moments of weakness or fear that I think back to how miraculous it was that I got through some really rough times. It’s really a simple concept and nothing new, but it works for me every time. You’re anxious about something? You’ve been anxious before, it’s nothing new! Plus, each time you face something challenging you continue to become a stronger person because of it.

But honestly, lets get down to it – I really can’t take any of the credit. I could sit here and tell you I am so strong and courageous because “the universe” or whatever that even means has my back but in reality it’s always, only Jesus. Yes, I am strong and yes I am courageous but my only explanation for getting through anything is that it’s from God. It’s a miracle that someone like me, anxious at times and has the occasional panic attack can get through what I’ve been through.

I have decided to face my nerves by letting it feel like a rush of excitement as opposed to wanting to crawl into a hole when adversity hits. Clammy hands, racing heart, anxious mind? No, just me excited to face this challenge. Remember that feeling as a kid when you’re about to jump off the high diving board? A part of you hesitates for a second when you look down, but there’s something in you that just pushes you to propel forward and take that dive. I imagine that is what skydiving is like, but um, I’d rather swim with sharks than face my fear of heights (seriously, I want to swim with Jaws one day). I think of it as that whisper from God you get, sometimes it’s so faint you wonder if you really heard from Him, and sometimes it’s so obvious and in your face that there is no turning back. That’s how I felt when I started my previous blog about my cancer journey. I almost didn’t write it because I didn’t want to be depressing or share with the world what I was going through, but there was no other choice because He told me to do it. So I sat there in my hospital bed and created that blog. During those months, I received hundreds of e-mails and comments about how sharing my journey has helped others get through hard life challenges.

If you feel pushed to face something challenging, go for it!  I don’t care how scary it is, as long as you’re not negatively affecting yourself or others then go on ahead and bring out your inner badass.   It’s temporary and the reward can last a lifetime.  Every challenge you get through can be stored away as additional motivation and strength whenever you need it.  Think of it as a little gift to yourself.

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My Top 14 Valentine’s Day Fashion Picks

valentinesdaycollageHappy February lovelies!  What a better opportunity than Valentine’s day to get extra femme with your look.  This always ends up being the coldest/dreariest month of the year, but with a love-filled holiday smack dab in the middle of the month, it presents the perfect opportunity to dress up and celebrate.   Whether you’ve got yourself a hot dinner date with your guy or drinks with your best friends, add a some festive flair to your ensemble.

Just like I am all for wearing cliche sequins on New Year’s and happily participating in ugly Christmas sweater parties, I am also all for wearing Valentine’s Day colors.  Call me cheesy, but life is too short to dress seriously all the time.  This year, I’m going to step outside the box and girl-ify my usual edgy & dark colored wardrobe with a little colorblocking of red and pink shades.

So in honor of the 14th day of the month, these are my top 14 outfit & accessories picks for Valentine’s Day!

ONE:  Red Sweetheart Neckline Mini – Nasty Gal

TWO:  XL Red Link Necklace – Mango

THREE:  Shoe Cult Crosswind Pump – Nasty Gal

FOUR:  Faux Red Leather & Gold Cuff – ASOS

FIVE:  Hot Pink Lace Bustier – H&M

SIX:  Lazer Cut Crop – TopShop

SEVEN:  Fuschia Snake & Suede Heels – LuLu’s

EIGHT:  Fuschia Blazer – Zara

NINE: RVCA Ivory Lace Dress- LuLu’s

TEN:  Shimmering Paillette Miniskirt – Forever 21

ELEVEN:  Clear Heart Shoulder Bag – Nasty Gal

TWELVE:  It Must Be Love Light Pink Maxi – LuLu’s

THIRTEEN:  Perforated Heart Clutch – TopShop

FOURTEEN:  Pleated Blush Pink Skirt – Zara

What do you plan on wearing this Valentine’s Day, what’s your favorite look?

Empire State of Mind

Happy Thursday!  You know what that means – it’s almost Friday :).

Crazy busy week (month, really).  All week I have been packing and moving to my new apartment.  As exhausting as it is moving, I feel so blessed about this new place.  Last night I went to bed with no curtains on the windows yet, but I didn’t care because this was my view…

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The Empire State Building looks a lot brighter & is a lot closer in person, so it’s a pretty spectacular sight!  After living here for almost five years, it feels pretty incredible to look out the window and see that.  What a great reminder of all that I’ve accomplished living here, all of the memories I have experienced, and also all that of the things that I can look forward to.  The best is yet to come.

I’ll be back in action next week, and probably feeling a lot more organized than I do now.  The tough thing about unpacking is trying to find all of my clothes.  This is probably why I’ve worn hoodies to work twice in a row!