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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Gift Guide: For the Homebody

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Happy Black Friday! This year (like most years) I’ll just be shopping from my couch…but I wish you the best of luck if you’re heading out into the “real world” to buy your gifts IRL! There are so many great sales going on, so I wanted to pop in with another gift guide in case you need an extra dose of inspiration.

I love all of these gifts because they aren’t necessarily things someone would just pick up for herself on a whim (though trust me, I’m tempted by all of them!). These are the perfect picks for the person who doesn’t care whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful…because she’d rather stay in anyway!

Feminism tray: I love this tray’s empowering message, and since it’s only 3 inches by 3 inches, it’s the ideal size to hold jewelry, change, and other miscellaneous items on a bedside table.

Monogrammed napkins: These would be adorable to give to a woman of any age. The pack of four is perfect for someone who likes hosting small dinners.

Hot Toddy kit: If she prefers mixing drinks at home rather than going out to the bar, this kit will keep her occupied.

Bath bombs: Oh, I wish I still had a bath in my bathroom (I just have a super tiny shower!). I miss being able to use all of the fun luxury bath products out there, like this cute set of bath bombs.

Witty doormat: I have a doormat with a fun message upstairs and always get compliments on it. This would make a great gift for someone who’s just moved into her first apartment!

Candle: You can never go wrong with a Volupsa candle. The scents and price point are both amazing! I have several and am always looking to build my collection.

State towel: Cat Studio is one of my favorite companies as of late because I love a good state/city-themed home item (you guys know how much I love my Washington, DC, pillow from them!). This dishtowel will elevate even the most boring of kitchens.

Woven basket: These baskets have so many uses–they can hold plants, blankets, accessories, etc, all while looking super stylish. Fill one up with some of her favorite things and skip any additional wrapping!

 

 

 

 

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Gift Guide: Holiday-Themed Products

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I’m BACK with my normal collage-style gift guides–my computer has been having a lot of issues and I couldn’t access Photoshop, which was such a bummer because I mainly downloaded it to use for product collages this time of year! I love reading all types of gift roundups but think it’s so much easier when you can actually visualize the products being described without having to click on link after link (bear with me as I re-teach myself how to make these look aesthetically pleasing!).

Today, I’m rounding up the best seasonal-themed gifts for the person in your life who just can’t get enough of this time of year.

Sleep mask: The message on this sleep mask is perfect for your friend who can’t get enough of Christmastime.

Holiday pillow: A necessary seasonal touch for her living room couch.

Mr. and Mrs. glasses: This would be the perfect hostess gift for the newlyweds in your life.

Pineapple stocking holder: Everyone loves a gold pineapple figurine…the fact that they exist in stocking holder form is just perfect.

Striped stocking: Pop a bottle of wine into a fun stocking like this one for a unique take on a hostess gift.

Seasonal candle: It seems like no one can get enough of Boy Smells candles, and this one sounds amazing.

Cocktail napkins: A witty message is always essential.

Plaid blanket: This (majorly marked down!) blanket would be the perfect secret Santa gift.

Candle set: Gift all four or split up the set and cross multiple people off your list at once!

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Gift Guide: Gifts for the Home Under $30

These gifts are all home-related, but honestly, I consider them to be appropriate for hostesses, moms, sisters, sisters-in-law, besties, or…yourself! It can sometimes be difficult to find cute, quality products for $30 or less. You don’t want to buy something cheap that won’t last the recipient more than a couple of uses (for example: I hate those cheap wine glasses that you’ll find at HomeGoods and similar stores that have adorable designs but always end up breaking after a wash or two…anyone else know which ones I mean?). But on the other hand, you aren’t shopping for a registry item that’s supposed to last for years and years, so you have some room to get a little thrifty and creative. All of the below products are either items I own or would be happy owning (hint, hint…!) and are easy to scoop up online (so that you can knock people off your list in a matter of minutes).

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Plant shelves: These plant shelves are SO affordable but aren’t flimsy (and you’ll NEVER guess where they’re from)–I just ordered a set for myself and hung them on the wall in a matter of seconds (they have hooks on the back, so it’s super easy). I’m excited to plantify (going to use that as a word from now on) my upstairs and thought these would be the perfect addition to my space. (Pair these with a succulent or two and you’ll be all set with a great gift!).

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Hedgehog measuring cups: I realized the other day that I need a new set of measuring cups–mine are always getting misplaced or have broken or gotten icky over the years. This set adds whimsy to the kitchen and is an excellent price (under $20!).

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Salad serving set: You know you’re adult when you realize you would be ok receiving this kind of gift. The gold makes a practical gift less boring!

tjxCoasters: These marble coasters are very affordable and would be a great hostess gift paired with a bottle of wine.

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Cocktails sign: I’ve been less inclined to purchase small accessories like these as I’ve gotten older, but when I saw this sign, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s the right amount of cheesy and cutesy, and who doesn’t love collecting festive bar cart decor? (I know many people who switch up their glassware/accessories each season!).

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Salt lamp: I recently got a salt lamp at Marshall’s and need to remember to plug it in more because they’re actually supposed to have great benefits in terms of improving air quality in a room (I was just into the look after having seen these in many different rooms and home tours online!).

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Neighborhood print: I stopped by Artists in Fleas during my recent trip to New York and picked up this 8 by 8 DC print at the Archie’s Press stand (I’m a sucker for anything DC-themed and love map art, so when you combine the two, it’s a no-brainer!). This would be an adorable gift for someone new to your city or for a friend who’s moving but wants to remember her hometown. There are a ton of options to choose from, too!

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Boy Smells candle: These candles are all the rage. I have a few and am always spotting them in various stores around DC and online. Candles won’t be seen as a lame gift if they’re stylish!

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New York Times travel book: Your friend who’s always on the go will love this coffee table book (which I’m adding to my list, too!). There are also other options for more outdoorsy travelers. 🙂

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My Favorite Recent Amazon Purchases, Round 2

Photo by Heather Bien
Photo by Heather Bien

Way back in March, I did a roundup of my favorite recent Amazon purchases, and I’ve realized that I need to make this more of a thing, because Prime = life. (I actually cut my Prime subscription for awhile because I don’t use it all the time, but then I got a student offer–long story–and reactivated, which has been super useful!). Here are some of the items I’ve scooped up recently (keep some of these in mind for Christmas presents!):

Silk robe: I wanted a robe to be able to throw on (more because that sounds super luxurious, haha) so I went for this affordable option and am waiting for it to arrive still. It got good enough reviews and will be nice to wear while lounging around the apartment.

Back and shoulder massager: I ordered this heated massager for my mom for Christmas (she doesn’t read here, so we’re good!) after telling her how much I loved my own. This thing is a DREAM if you suffer from achey shoulders (who doesn’t?). I’ve had mine for over a year and love plugging it in while watching tv at night.

Soup mug: This BPA-free soup mug has been perfect for work lunches, and at under $5, it’s a no-brainer. I ordered mine after seeing a coworker using hers at a meeting. It’s great because you can bring soup with you for lunch without having to stash a bowl at work, like I used to do. I’ve used this a ton in recent weeks and have had zero complaints!

Pen set: Every now and then, I like to send a little care package to my sister at college, and recently, I sent her a pack of these colored pens (but obvs had to order a set of my own). I love using them at work and she uses them all the time for note-taking. They write really well and are a great buy!

Decorative box: I picked this up (it’s shown in the picture at the top of this post) after spotting some similar ones in various online home tours. I keep it on my dresser to store some of the smaller necklaces and bracelets that I wear often. The pattern is gorgeous and looks much more luxe than it is for being only $15!

Weighted blanket: I splurged on this over the summer after reading Grace’s highly positive reviews on her blog and hearing her discuss this product on her podcast, and now it’s finally the season to really use it. If you haven’t heard about these, they’re pretty popular right now and are designed to relieve stress and anxiety. I don’t use mine every night but like the extra layer it adds when I’m sleeping.

What are you loving on Prime at the moment?

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Gift Guide: Best Presents for Your Sister or BFF

I’m following up Monday’s post with this guide for sisters and BFFs…or even moms who appreciate this kind of stuff! Everything below is something I would totally use/want, too… 😉

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Women’s March Puzzle: Winter goal = becoming someone who sits and home and does puzzles. Is that lame? Maybe. But the message on this puzzle isn’t–complete it to see an image of the Women’s March along with a quote by Gloria Steinem!

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Sad Desk Lunch bag: This is actually a set of two lunch bags, but you could give the one on the left to a younger lady in your life and then keep the funny one/give it to your BFF. I love it!

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Sleep Mask: This sassy sleep mask made me laugh…want! It’s perfect for the girl who’s always on the go and has a good sense of humor.

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Desserts of NYC Book: The title is pretty self-explanatory, IMO! Who wouldn’t love flipping through this prior to their next visit to the city? It would also be a great coffee table piece–instant conversation starter! Just snagged a used copy for myself for $7, thanks, Amazon!

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Pineapple Bookends: I always get a ton of compliments on my pineapple decor, and these Anthropologie bookends are a great price! They would look amazing on either a nightstand or bookshelf.

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Pocket Palette: Ok, I’m so excited to share this product with you guys–Lynda, the founder, is someone I met through work, and she’s built an amazing company from the ground up. The Pocket Palette was designed for the woman on the go who doesn’t necessarily want to tote her entire makeup bag with her on the way to class/an interview/post-work drinks, etc. Each Palette includes a mini mascara wand, lip color, and foundation (several shades are available). I’ve used my PPs several times and adore them–and Lynda! Huge props to her for PP now being available on Amazon (amazing!!!). These would be the perfect stocking stuffer.

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Joanna Gaines’ book: What girl doesn’t love Jo? If you have a Fixer Upper fan on your hands, this book is a must-order! You can never really go wrong with coffee table books in general, as you can probably tell by this point!

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Moroccan Pouf: This pouf comes with an AMAZING price tag (it’s under $50!). Anyone who loves home decor or has been lusting over one of these for ages will be thrilled to find this (rather large) box under the tree. The velvet look is kind of different, but it’s also perfect for cold weather and cozy days at home.

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Gift Guide: What’s on My List

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‘Tis the season for gift guides, but I promise I won’t go overboard on here–though I do have a few planned that I’m excited to share. For the past month-ish, I’ve had the fun opportunity to freelance write gift guides for Country Living magazine, which has been a great way to flex my creative muscles and get a better sense of this season’s must have products (not all of my guides are up yet, but feel free to check out the ones that are complete here).

I’ve done all sorts of gift guide categories for CL (I’m currently working on a guide for grandpas!), but for the blog, I thought I would share a sampling of my own list. So whether you’re a sucker for books or beauty, you’ll likely find something that catches your eye–for yourself or maybe for a mom, sister, or girlfriend–below! (And can I just say…I’m somewhat proud of myself that I haven’t bit the bullet and scooped these up yet. Online shopping for these guides has made it v tempting to treat myself in the process! :)). That said, I’ve been trying to be a lot more intentional about the things I’m buying lately, particularly when it comes to browsing websites. There are a lot of $10/$15 decor items I would’ve immediately snatched up a few years ago that I’m far less inclined to buy now. It’s partly that my style has matured a bit and I’m not as drawn to some of the styles I used to love, but I also have been thinking over purchases longer/embracing minimalism and cutting excess clutter/and thinking more carefully about the value of a dollar before purchasing something just because it’s “cute.” And so far, I haven’t had any regrets!

Oh, and in the meantime, snag yourself one of these Nest holiday candles, which smell like Christmas in a jar. You’ll thank yourself later. Plus, two-day shipping is free, and you get to pick out three free beauty samples (is anyone else a sucker for those?!).

Whiskey in a Teacup, by Reese Witherspoon: If you follow me on Instagram or are a friend of mine in real life, you likely know about the whole saga involving the Reese event…I was first supposed to go back in September, but then Reese rescheduled the event due to illness for the Friday of the busiest work weekend of my life (I had a big reception to staff that evening). I was bummed to miss the show, but fortunately Ticketfly fully refunded my purchase, which I wasn’t even sure was a possibility originally! However, the ticket was supposed to include a copy of Reese’s book, and since I didn’t go, I haven’t been able to admire it yet. Long story short, it’s officially on my list!

Frida Kahlo at Home: This is another coffee table book that’s caught my eye in recent months. In summary: it’s pretty, who doesn’t love Frida Kahlo, and it’s gotten great reviews. Simple!

Urban Day Setting Spray: I’ve been trying to perfect my makeup routine lately (and have been loving this Urban Decay palette I picked up at Nordstrom Rack while randomly in there on a lunch break a few weeks ago); now, the issue is just making sure everything stays in place all day long. This spray promises that makeup will hold up for 16 hours, which is more than enough time!

Garment Bag: I actually included this in one of my CL gift guides (as well as the spray above, come to think of it) for the woman who loves to travel/is always on the go, just because it seems to darn useful. Like most of the products I’ve included on here, it also got excellent reviews.

Champagne Gummies: Hi Mom–while you’re placing the Target order for the above garment bag (which I know you’ll approve of more than anything else on here, because #businesstrips), would you mind adding these to your shopping cart? They’re so delish, and you can’t always get them in stores. But if you do go to the store, I’d love to try any flavor of this seltzer water made by the same company (yes, my family is weird and gives each other things like seltzer water for Christmas).

SoulCycle Class Pack: This is one my favorite things to ask for when it comes to my birthday/the holidays…Soul classes are such a luxury, so I don’t go all the time (darn you, SC, for not being on ClassPass!), but they always make me feel amazing, energized, and stress-free.

A new suitcase: My suitcase broke while I was traveling back from a conference on Friday, so I’m going to have to borrow one of my family’s extras for my work trip this week. However, I would love to scoop up an investment piece at some point. I’ve heard good things about Away luggage but am open to exploring other brands! Let me know if you have a recommendation, and it may just end up on my list!

Hair Dryer/Styling Tool: Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my blowouts, so of course I was intrigued when I spotted this hair dryer and styling tool on Amazon. In general, I always love testing out new hair tools, but this one speaks to me because I’m always looking for a new way to tame my naturally wavy mane.

What’s on your wish list this season, and have you tried and loved any of the products above?

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Two New Home Tours

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Happy, happy Monday! This weekend went a little differently than planned because early on Saturday morning I learned that Reese Witherspoon had postponed her DC book tour due to illness, gah! It’s now going to be in late October and I’m hoping I’ll still be able to make it, because it falls in the middle of a crazy weekend with work events. However, Katie, Monica, Laura, and I still grabbed dinner on Saturday night, which was a blast! I love that blogging has connected me with so many amazing, fun people–we all live within a few blocks of each other in Dupont, too!

I also crammed in a bunch of (very overdue) workouts because for whatever reason, my ClassPass was offering 2 credit Flywheel classes (they’re normally 9-12 credits!). Flywheel isn’t my favorite studio, but I always feel like I get such a great (if not super challenging) workout when I go, so I went on Saturday and Sunday and will be back tonight!

I’m heading up to NYC tomorrow for a quick work trip and am excited to be back in the city for the first time since June! Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll really get to see anyone since my visit will be so brief (roughly 24 hours), so I’ll need to schedule a weekend trip for sometime in the near future…I’ve been bad about going to NYC as often I used to when I lived in Philly and it was just a quick two hour trip.

As for today’s post–I highlighted these quickly on Instagram last week, but I wanted to share the full links here–two different home tours went up last week, and I’m so excited and thrilled to have been featured in on the Washingtonian’s website and in Apartment Therapy again! Being featured in publications like these is an absolute dream come true for someone who has been rearranging her room on the daily since the age of 8 (seriously, when I was in elementary school, my parents had to limit my furniture moving to weekends, because my room got too chaotic on school nights!), and being able to share them here is even better! I don’t think I ever would have gotten the courage to submit photos to various outlets if it wasn’t for blogging and the support I’ve received on here and via Instagram, so thank you times a million for always cheering me on. 🙂

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Three Sale Items You Can’t Miss

One of the best parts about being between summer and fall (in addition to the slightly cooler weather!) is all of the great end of season sales. I’ve found some seriously great deals while doing some browsing–and ordering–over the past couple of days!

Tuckernuck scarf: I first talked about my love for this scarf when I snagged it at Tuckernuck’s summer sale in August, and I’ve worn it several times over the past month. I was actually sitting at work yesterday wearing the one I purchased (which is orange and blue) and wishing that I’d stocked up on more colors during the sale. Well, what do ya know? The pink version, which is super popular as well, is currently on sale for only $16! Of course I snagged one for myself as well as for my mom to give to her for Christmas–she doesn’t normally read here, so we’re good! It’s such an amazing price point (even before the sale), super stylish, and a great gift for any age–stock up, and your friends will be thrilled when the holidays roll around!

J.Crew Factory Field Jacket: I have raved about my love for this jacket many times–I purchased the regular J.Crew version back in 2013 and wore it to the ground in the years since. So when I saw the Factory version (which looks about the same) on sale for only $30 a few weeks ago, thanks to an amazing Labor Day sale, I had to snatch it up. Still looking for that versatile lightweight coat? You’ll thank me later! (Also, this white pom pom blazer is sadly sold out, but I purchased it a few weeks ago for about $22 and am in love, so I just wanted to share–will have to get a pic of me wearing it up here soon!).

42 Pressed Candles: It’s no secret that I love candles. High end, low end, you name it, I’ll try all of them! I recently ordered this Otherland candle after falling in love with the scent during my shoot at Elizabeth’s a few weeks ago, and I can’t wait for it to arrive! However, I’ve also been a longtime fan of 42 pressed candles (mostly for their adorable packing, not gonna lie!), and they’re having a great sale on select ones right now–I have both the DC and Paris ones, which are great! The only thing to watch for is their shipping, which is pretty steep!

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Recent Purchases I’m Loving

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I love getting a sneak peek into other bloggers’ shopping carts, so I thought I would do a quick roundup of some of my favorite purchases as of late…let me know if you’ve tried any of these items!

Peacock chair: I had been wanting one of these for ages and finally found a great one on Craigslist. It was still fairly pricy, but it was a great deal compared to ones I’d seen elsewhere online. The best part was that the seller lived only a few blocks away, so I didn’t have to worry about fitting it into a car to bring it home (although I did look a little silly walking through Dupont carrying the chair over my shoulders–and got a few compliments on it along the way!). I’m loving how it looks in my upstairs space, and it’s super comfortable and adds a great boho touch.

Linen comforter. I’ve constantly been hearing rave reviews about linen bedding items and have used linen sheets once or twice but wanted to look for a comforter or throw blanket made from that material as well. I actually picked mine up at Marshalls of all places, but there are many similar options online. It’s perfect for folding over a plain comforter or duvet color or using on its own, and the fabric is just so comfortable and is an ideal weight for this time of year.

White noise machine. I’m lucky in the sense that I usually have no trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, even if I’m in a new location. However, Alaina posted on IG stories about this sound machine a few months back, and I was curious and wanted to scoop it up to give it a try! I don’t use it every night, but I’ll turn it on if if it’s especially loud when I’m going to bed (which can happen frequently, as my apartment is located on a major street in an area filled with bars and restaurants) or if I’m feeling restless and want some white noise in the background. You can choose what “sound” you want it to play, but I just use the generic white noise setting each time…I don’t really know who would find the tropical sounds appealing! Obviously, there are free apps that do the same thing as this machine, but for $30, I feel it was a worthwhile purchase.

Bedside lamps. I have changed up my bedside lamp situation more times than I can count over the past few months, oops. It took me forever to find a setup that I was satisfied with aesthetically, but I think I’ve finally arrived at a winner. I spotted these gold lamps on Jess’s blog awhile back and waited a bit to order them–since my preferences change all the time, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to change my mind–and thankfully they were still available and shipped out super quickly. I love the gold and the classic shape. I believe Target released a similar style at some point, but I haven’t seen it online anymore. At $50 each, they’re a great buy for really any room.

Annie Selke throw. I snagged this throw on major sale and am in love with the pattern. I really shouldn’t have bought two bedding-related items back to back (#priorities) but they match and work as a set! The tie-dye pattern (designed by Bunny Williams) is perfect for summer months goes with the rest of my blue and white bedroom decor.

Lululemon tote bag. This bag is also a fun tie-dye print and will be perfect for summer travel as a carry on. I have a black Lululemon bag that’s similar and holds all of my gym stuff, though this bag is slightly larger. The material is sturdy, looks super easy to clean, and the bag as a whole got great reviews, so I’m excited to test it out as I travel later this week! It’s seriously soooo spacious!

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