Top Posts of 2018

It’s always fun doing these roundups because it’s obviously super helpful to see which posts resonated with you guys the most but it’s also a neat way to look back on the various topics I’ve covered this year (and in year’s past–click to see my top posts of 2016 and 2017!). Several of my posts from 2016 and 2017 continue to remain popular (my Bumble BFF recap, for one!), but below are your 2018 favorites.

1) One Kings Lane Home Tours + How to Recreate the Looks. I wrote this post early in 2018 and am glad that it remains relevant! These home tours are so classic and stylish that I still frequently turn to them for inspiration when I’m in a bit of a decorating rut or want to change up my space, which is basically every other week. 😉

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2) Your Craigslist Questions Answered and How to Use Taskrabbit. I spent a long time writing up this post, so I’m glad it was useful–and it featured questions that I had received on Instagram, so maybe I should do another post like this in 2019!

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3) Winter Workout Essentials. I need to do an updated version of this post, as I’ve recently been loving my new Outdoor Voices pieces (thanks, Cyber Monday sale!), though I continue to use the Lululemon workout tote that I received as a gift last Christmas, so scoop it up if you need a new gym bag. Keep this post bookmarked as you prepare to kick your 2019 workouts into gear!

4) Our Houzz Tour is Live + FAQ. This post is a special one for a few reasons- it was amazing to showcase our entire home online and provide more information about our space, but also, it was our Houzz tour that prompted Small Space Decorating Magazine to contact us about doing a spread with them! The editors reached out to our photographer, Ryan, in late August after coming across this tour online, and we quickly scrambled to schedule a new shoot over Labor Day Weekend! Seeing this feature in print was one of my favorite 2018 moments, so I’m grateful that everything came together, albeit quickly!

5) Gift Guide: Best Presents for Your Sister or BFF. Bookmark this post for the rest of the year, as birthdays, bridal showers, graduations, and the like are constantly popping up and these gifts remain useful and relevant. I love putting together gift guides and am glad that this one was useful–a few people told me that they ordered the Women’s March puzzle, which is still in stock at World Market!

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Hollar Favorites: Stocking Up on Home Basics for CHEAP

Hello from Florida! I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and relaxing away from their computers…but if you’re at work or feel like popping in, today’s post is a useful one!

I discovered the website Hollar a few years ago and wrote this post about how I scored Essie nail polish on there for WAY cheap (like 8 bottles for $11 cheap). I hadn’t ordered from Hollar since then for no real reason other than that I can find pretty good deals at places like Target and TJ Maxx, but I decided to check out the site again recently and am so glad I did.

You guys- the grand total for ALL of the below (plus $3.99 shipping and with a $5 off coupon applied) was $17.99. So the actual total for the products themselves was $14. What?!

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The key is to be patient with shipping (it took about a week and a half for the box to arrive), shop the $1 deals, and understand that the quality of some of the stuff on here isn’t necessarily going to be as great as your favorite brand names. That said, if you’re not picky about what kind of kitchen wipes or toilet paper you use and don’t mind doing a bit of digging to find the best items, this is the site for you.

In this order, I received:

-Four rolls of toilet paper

-Two rolls of scotch tape

-A pack of disposable razors

-Two Essie nail polishes

-A set of sponges

-Kitchen germ-free wipes

-A 5-pack of toothbrushes

-A bottle of dish soap

-Two packs of makeup wipes

-A 12-pack of trash bags

-A set of hair clips

-A pack of sandwich bags

-A box of tissues

-A large pack of bandaids

How’s that for less than $20?!

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The Best Items at Target Right Now

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TGIF! Happy Friday, and most importantly, happy last day of work before the holidays! Tonight I’m seeing one of my best friends from high school who’s home for the break, and starting tomorrow I’m excited to unwind in Florida next week. I will likely be popping in with posts here and there, but I figure most people will be largely offline until after the new year (if you have to work between Christmas and New Years, hang in there–I did last year and know how hard it can be coming back on the 26th, whether you celebrate or not!).

My post today was inspired by Grace’s post last week, which was a roundup of her favorite Target finds. Her post prompted me to do some digging on the site (I’m always amazed with what you can find online versus in-store sometimes!), so I figured I would do my own version of a Target product roundup. Happy shopping!

1) This mini tulip table is too cute and is on clearance right now at an amazing price! I wish I had room for one (or two) of these!

2) If you can’t find a chair like this at a thrift store, this is the next best thing! While it’s not actually vintage, it for sure looks the part and would look adorable with a white furry throw draped over it.

3) I need to find this sparkling bottle–yum! I tried the regular wine last spring (mainly for the bottle, let’s be real) and it’s great!

5) Undereye brightening strips = gold, literally.

5) I’ve shared this leopard print belt on here before and may need to just pull the trigger and order it. Too cute!

6) I have way too much glassware, but if I had room in my cabinet for these, they’d be in my shopping cart.

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Silk Scarves

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I realized that while I posted this picture on Instagram a few weeks back, I didn’t share it on here, and I love this scarf so much that I couldn’t gloss over it on the blog! I became a big scarf wearer when I studied abroad in Scotland in college and was constantly picking up new ones at the stores there (oh hey, Primark!) and during my travels. I’ve had to pare down my collection a bit over the years but still can’t resist picking up new pieces when I come across something truly versatile…like this Tuckernuck scarf (note that the pattern available on the website right now is a bit different than the one I’m wearing; the company changes up their offerings depending on the season, so my guess is this exact one will be back next summer/fall!).

I grabbed this scarf at Tuckernuck’s summer in-store sale, and it was only $20 or so, which was such a steal, but even full price at $48, they’re still pretty reasonable. Several of my blogger friends own this orange one, and a few months ago, I picked up the same style in pink, which is great for summer/warmer climates. Above is how I styled the scarf for Thanksgiving dinner at a family friend’s house–it wasn’t too dressy of an affair, but I also wanted to add a pop of color to my otherwise neutral outfit, so the scarf was the perfect solution!

If you’re in the market for a silk scarf, I highly recommend this one (several bloggers even turned these into tops over the summer, as they’re pretty big!), but I’ve also rounded up a few of my other faves:

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Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

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My last gift guide of the season is here! First things first…thank you to everyone who’s been following along, these have been really fun to make! I haven’t been using affiliate links for any of these posts, so click away to your heart’s content! I just wanted to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite products with you guys without worrying about the accounting and maintenance involved. If I do end up featuring more products on the blog, affiliate linking is definitely something I’ll consider doing (I’d been doing it for awhile in the past, but most of the stuff I talk about on here is thrifted or not necessarily linkable, so it doesn’t always make a ton of sense). I do receive products in the mail from time to time but I’m not required to review them and do not receive monetary compensation unless I’m doing a sponsored post (though if I could get paid to eat Dove chocolate, I’d be ALL about it ;)). This could all change down the line, but just wanted to make this all clear for the moment, since each blogger follows their own process and it can definitely be confusing!

Now for the gift guide! My family goes for a mix of fun and functional when it comes to stocking stuffers, and I think lots of other families do the same. (Side note: do you guys do stockings just for the “kids” or for parents, too? We always just had them for me and my sister, but I feel like lots of people do them for kids and adults, which is a cute idea!). Below are a few of my current favorites (you can scoop up most of these things at a store near you, since we’re getting pretty late in the game for online ordering!).

Mini dry shampoo: Something like this is perfect for a stocking and is great to keep on hand in your work bag or desk drawer. I’ve used the Batiste version a ton and know many other people who swear by it!

Gummies: You can’t go wrong with a bag of their favorite candy!

Dove chocolate: Speaking of candy, Dove sent me some of their new flavors to try out, and they’re amazing! I opened the box at work and gave a few of the bars to my coworkers and then sampled the raspberry and almond brittle ones on my own…so good! I’m normally most into plain dark chocolate and don’t go for fruity desserts, but the raspberry flavor was amazing. I was also a huge fan of the nutty almond brittle, which was a perfectly crunchy and delish, and then I used some of the milk chocolate bar when I made chocolate pretzels over the weekend! Look for these in stores near you!

Essie nail polish set: I love Essie nail polish and have a gigantic collection of different shades, although I don’t do my nails much anymore so I should probably consolidate them! I do like trying out the mini bottles (which are also easier to store), and this set would make a great gift.

Candy cane spoons: Hot chocolate season is in full swing, and these peppermint spoons are a fun addition to a regular cup of cocoa.

Fuzzy socks: I basically live in my fuzzy socks in the winter…they’re perfect for lounging, sleeping, and even wearing under tall boots on really chilly days. This set is perfect to split up among recipients!

Bath fizzer set: Bath products also are perfect stocking stuffers since they’re the type of product people don’t usually buy on their own (if only I had a bathtub in my current place!).

Satin loafers: Ok, these may be a little too large to fit into a stocking, but I came across them while browsing online and had to include them in this post because they’re so cute!

Ornament: A festive ornament can go right from the stocking to the tree!

Phone card case: I find these card cases super useful for stashing metro passes and business cards.

Cocktail kit: This is such a fun gift idea and I always love including it in roundups–perfect for spicing up their flight back home!

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Gift Guide: Last Minute Gifts

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Searching for that perfect gift but feeling anxious about shipping times? Here are some of my last-minute picks that won’t make you look like a slacker, promise. Most of these picks are from Amazon Prime, but several are from Target, which conveniently offers 2-day shipping during the holiday season!

Vogue book: This book (or another one that matches the person’s interests) would be a nice gift because it’s probably something that the recipient wouldn’t by for herself but provides hours of entertainment and is a conversation piece when guests come over.

Eye shadow: I have eye shadow on another gift guide but it’s something that I’ve been really into lately (I honestly had never really worn it before this year!) and I love experimenting with different brands and colors.

Leopard print belt: I want this. Could it be cuter?!

Succulents: These succulents are faux, so no green thumb is required to keep them looking cute!

French market basket: I’m obsessed with baskets like this one–they’re perfect for the beach, farmer’s market, or for stashing blankets in the house.

Face mask: A holiday relaxation kit is just what the doctor ordered! Throw a few of these in a cute gift bag with some nail polish.

Candle: Candles are no longer a boring gift or purely a safe option for someone you don’t know well, promise.

Scarf: She can wear it the traditional way or keep it at the office to use as a blanket of sorts on chilly days.

Cheese board: You know you’re an adult when you want a cheese board for Christmas! I received a nice one for my birthday and love setting it out when I entertain.

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Gift Guide: The Recent Grad

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I’m sure I’ve said this on here before, but my big Christmas present the year that I graduated was a nice vacuum (which made me feel super old, but also it got a lot of use in my first few apartments, so I guess my mom was onto something). These gifts are little bit more fun (just being honest!) but will come in handy for anyone who is just starting out in a new place or needs adult (but not too adult) home slash life staples.

Initial coasters: It’s time to stop using random post-it notes and bar souvenirs as coasters! This marble set is super affordable but would cost WAY more at most stores (TJ Maxx for the win!).

Leopard serving tray: Trays are so versatile so you can really never have too many. You can place this one on a coffee table, kitchen table, bar cart, vanity, you name it…the leopard print is adorable and makes a statement. (Anyone who knows me knows that I swoon over a good leopard print!).

Face mask jar: Face masks are the ultimate lazy evening essential, and it’s never too early to start taking care of your skin!

Dish towels: Dish towels are another adult staple but they don’t need to be boring. I love browsing different stores for quirky patterns and this chips & guac set is a winner!

Work tote: This tote has gotten amazing reviews online and is the perfect size for work or travel. I have a similar bag that I use for work and love how lightweight but sturdy it is. Bonus points that this one is under $50!

Cocktail shaker: This will make a great addition to her bar cart/counter and obviously comes in handy when entertaining. Pair it with this simple syrup set. Gone are the days of using vending machine sodas to make cocktails!

Lilly Pulitzer trays: These would be adorable on a nightstand or vanity and two for under $20 is an amazing deal for Lilly!

Jewelry roll: The perfect pretty travel companion!

 

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A Festive Tea Drink That’s Easy to Make

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As I mentioned the other day, I fell in love with this delicious Sparkling Antioxidant Tea drink while eating dinner at True Food Kitchen last weekend, and the best part was that I knew it would be simple to make at home (though theirs still rivals this one!). Everything you need can be found at the grocery store (I went to Trader Joe’s, but other stores will have similar variants of these things), and the drink is the perfect (non-alcoholic) alternative to your usual cocktail if you’re looking to dial things back a bit in between holiday gatherings. Looking for a similar recipe with alcohol? Check out Katie’s pomegranate spritzer!

To make this delicious drink, all I did was mix half a glass of this pomegranate green tea with some of TJ’s grapefruit seltzer. I then added a squeeze of lemon (you can add more to your liking), stirred, and topped it all off with a cute straw. Cheers!

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My Favorite Holiday Rituals

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Taking a break from the gift guide madness and switching things up to talk about holiday rituals! I know I’ve talked a bit about some of mine on the blog before, but I love hearing what other people do and hopefully you’ll enjoy getting a little glimpse into my family traditions (I feel kind of silly writing this as a 27 year old, but the holidays have a way of making everyone feel like kids again!).

I’ll start things off by noting that my family has never been a “go all out for the holidays” kind of family. We’re Unitarian Universalist (you can read more about that here), but also for us personally, Christmas isn’t a huge affair. Growing up, we would (sometimes) send out holiday cards but it often ended up being too difficult to get everything into place in time! However, I love the little rituals we did have growing up and have maintained as much as possible as we’ve gotten older–sugar cookie baking, Chinese food on Christmas Eve unless we’re going to someone else’s house or having people over, and Bethesda Bagels on Christmas morning (with my dad generously leaving the house and picking them up while the rest of us lounge in our pajamas all day!). As my sister and I have gotten older, my family has tried to get away for the holiday and visit my grandma in Florida either during or right after Christmas, and while spending the holiday in a warm climate can feel a bit strange, the warm weather (and some unscheduled time together) is a welcome escape!

My friends and I were talking recently about how as childless 20-somethings, the holidays can feel kind of weird, but it made me think about the rituals that I’ve adopted as an adult, aside from the usual tree decorating and the like. Below are some of my favorites:

-Zoo Lights. I started going to Zoo Lights (a special light display at the National Zoo that opens in late November each year) when I moved back to DC in 2016, and it’s such perfect free holiday entertainment. Bring a friend or a date and walk around together, then grab dinner or drinks nearby on Connecticut Avenue.

-Hallmark movies. Yes, I count binge-watching cheesy holiday movies to be a ritual! Whether you’re actually a fan or just like to make fun of them (I fall somewhere in the middle), you just have to watch at least a few each season (my favorite so far this year has been The Christmas Wedding Planner!). There was actually a funny article in the Wall Street Journal recently that examined the whole cheesy movie industry and how addicted people have become!

-Gift exchanges. As my cousins and I grew older, we started to do gift exchanges rather than picking out individual presents for everyone. This year, my office and book club will also be doing them, and it’s such an easy way to celebrate without spending a ton of time or money selecting gifts for 10 different people. Still need some suggestions? I have plenty of gift exchange present ideas in this post!

-Baking. My mom and I always try to do baking together each year (I’m pretty much a hopeless baker, so I’m mainly there to assist and decorate, ha!) and it’s such an easy way to get into the holiday spirit while also knocking out a few gifts for friends, coworkers, etc!

-Volunteering. This time of year, there are countless ways to give back, whether you’re helping at a shelter, donating canned food to those in need, and so much more. On Giving Tuesday, I signed up for a shift with Martha’s Table (though the first one I could get isn’t until January!), which is a great organization in the area. They also take clothing donations if you have some extra cold weather gear in your closet that you’d like to hand off to a good cause–I did this last year and it was super simple! I’m also in the process of looking into some women’s shelters at which to volunteer since there are many in the area.

-Sightseeing. I’m always inspired by the different Instagram accounts I follow where people take pictures of all of the cute houses and outdoor displays they pass in DC. I always love to spend time walking around my neighborhood or Georgetown (where there’s always amazing seasonal decor) and taking in all of the lights, wreaths, and decorations (and you certainly can’t miss this house, which goes all out each year)!

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My Favorite Seasonal Coffee Drinks

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Happy Monday! This weekend was more productive than festive but it’s always nice to knock out some must-dos before going into a busy week.  Thursday night (which kind of felt like the start of the weekend) was my college’s alumni holiday party, and on Friday, I staffed a work event (a cute holiday party for some of our visiting students) and then immediately came home and finished a book that had been impossible to put down all week (more on that to come in this month’s reads roundup!). On Saturday, I woke up early to pick up a Craigslist item (typical…), took a spin class at my favorite studio in Arlington (and if you know me, you know I love a good themed class, so I had to sign up for this one because it was NSYNC, BSB, Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child!), and met my mom for lunch and to run some errands near my apartment. I then quickly came home and relaxed for a bit before going into Bethesda and meeting a friend at True Food for dinner–such a fun spot! I ordered the same thing that I got last time, and we each tried one of their delicious iced teas, which I since recreated at home and will be sharing on the blog soon! Sunday was full of freelance work, blog prep, and a few fun phone/coffee chats with other creatives in the DC area–I love being able to connect with people on Instagram and discuss writing and design offline!

As for today’s post, I wanted to share some of my favorite seasonal (non-alcoholic!) drinks in case you’re looking for a new go-to coffee flavor or hot chocolate recipe. This week will be a busy one in terms of holiday parties (yay!) so I’m trying to save my wine/cocktail drinking for special events like those.  Below are four faves that I’ve been enjoying over the past few weeks!

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La Colombe Flavored Iced Coffees: 

I love starting my mornings with a cup of hot coffee no matter the season, but by the afternoon, I’ll usually find myself craving a cooler drink like an iced coffee or tea–something about no-frills hot coffee later in the day just isn’t that appealing! A few weeks ago, La Colombe kindly sent me several of their regular and seasonal flavored (including pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha) draft lattes to try. The cans, which you can find at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, are easy to toss into your purse each morning and stash in the work fridge (not having to duck out later to buy a drink is such a time saver on busy days), and I love the variety of flavors. I will warn you that if you don’t do well with a ton of caffeine, it may be best to portion the can out throughout the day (each can is the equivalent of  2+ cups of coffee!). But if you need a quick energy boost, this is definitely a convenient, tasty solution!  Note that while La Colombe kindly sent over these samples, I was not required to post about them, I just genuinely liked the offerings and wanted to share my thoughts!
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Nespresso Coffee with Sugar Cookie Milk: 
I love my Nespresso machine but sometimes can’t deal with the harsh flavor of espresso on its own (I like sweet, flavored coffee, #noshame). When I was at Target a few weeks ago, I spotted this seasonal Sugar Cookie milk on the shelf (it’s just the store brand) and was immediately intrigued. It’s not the healthiest option, but if you use it in small doses (as creamer rather than drinking an entire glass!), I don’t think it’s so much worse for you than any other variants on half and half. I’ve been making my “sugar cookie espressos” on weekends this month and love the subtle taste that the flavor adds.
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Decked out Hot Chocolate: 
Save this “recipe” for when you’re feeling a little more decadent or are having people over and want to set up a hot chocolate bar, because it’s definitely over the top. Top off your usual hot chocolate with a bit of peppermint whipped cream (I got mine at Target but can’t find the exact product online), candy cane bits (I found some pre-chopped at Marshall’s), and of course, some marshmallows and/or chocolate chips. Then add some chocolate sticks or candy canes as a garnish. I made this for myself for breakfast one Sunday morning and felt like I was living in Elf but also loved every second of it. (The end result is super Instagrammable, too, just sayin’!). Oh, and speaking of peppermint things, I also grabbed these Yasso ice cream bars at Target and they’re amazing and are a perfect low calorie treat that’s also festive!
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Flavored K-Cups: 
I’ll let you in on what may be a little-known secret…oftentimes, the best place to buy k-cups is at HomeGoods (or TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and the like). Just check the expiration date on the box first, but generally you’ll have a long window. These stores always seem to have so many unique flavors that I never find at the grocery store, and the prices are super reasonable most of the time (think $5.99 for an 18-pack). On recent shopping trips, I’ve picked up a Starbucks toasted graham flavor (so good), chocolate peanut butter, salted caramel, and variations of my favorite classics like vanilla and hazelnut. I like alternating which ones I drink each morning and don’t know how I never knew about the graham cracker until I randomly spotted it last month, it’s so good!
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