My Fave Articles Lately on Apartment Therapy

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Happy Thursday! This week has been a bit of a mess–after taking the snow days off from working out, I decided to hit the gym at 7 am on Tuesday to squeeze in some exercise before getting back into the swing of things. Well, as soon as I left the apartment, I slid down the four concrete stairs outside our building and had an awful fall. I was in a ton of shock and thankfully landed on my back/butt/legs rather than my head, but I was still in a lot of pain. Being the weirdo I am, I decided to go ahead and walk over to the gym because I know that moving around can actually be good for you after a fall–not to mention, I had a ton of adrenaline in my system after that! After starting a spin class and having to leave midway through, I climbed back into bed with a bag of peas and fortunately was able to work from home and rest (and surprisingly was very productive, which was a plus!). I went to the doctor’s office that afternoon, and while thankfully everything looked and felt ok, I was warned that I’d be in more pain on day two. Well, the doctor was right, and I ended up spending Wednesday doing a lot more icing while working remotely. It’ll be a few days before I can work out again, but I’m glad that all in all, everything is ok (minus the aches in my back, neck, and arms!). So if you’re heading outside after a snow or in the early morning, be careful! When I got back from the gym on Tuesday morning, I realized that our ENTIRE DOORMAT had frozen over, making it basically impossible to not slip and fall when leaving the apartment, eek! I was honestly glad that it was me that fell and not an older person, and I went back downstairs and taped a sign to the door to warn other people to be super cautious when stepping out!

As I’ve shared a bit on here/Instagram, I’ve been doing some freelance writing for Apartment Therapy in addition to my work for Country Living, so I wanted to link to my latest piece here. It’s all about ways to bring some warmth into your home this winter, and it was of course a fun one to write since I talked about products and routines that I personally love. The funny part about freelancing writing is that you never actually know when your piece will hit the site after turning it in (at least, that’s never been the case anywhere I’ve worked!), so I find myself checking the site more frequently than usual (although let’s be real, I log onto Apartment Therapy at least once a day as it is!).

While browsing AT, I came across some other articles that I had to share with you all!

“9 Simple Ways to Start Living a More Minimal Lifestyle”: Who doesn’t want to do this?! I know there are a lot of maximalists out there, too, but minimalism, even in small doses, just goes in hand with starting a new year. You don’t need to KonMari your entire home to make a bit of an impact in this area!

This piece on how to read more: I’m all for this advice and am constantly impressed with people who carve out time to read, as it’s been something I’ve worked hard at doing over the past couple of years! I managed to read 55 books in 2018 and hope to see that number grow in 2019–and yes, you can read a ton and still have a life, promise! I don’t watch a lot of TV, for example, and fill what would be a lot of people’s TV time with reading. Rather than napping or listening to podcasts on long flights, I’ll read a book or two. It’s that simple!

This piece about people spotting fiddle leaf figs at ALDI: Uh, brb, calling an Uber to the nearest Aldi (which is pretty far away but still within DC city limits!). Yes, fiddle leaf figs can be hard to care for, but that’s why a $13 one is the answer! I’m going to have to call my location and see if they have these in stock!

 

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An Easy Winter Cocktail Featuring Sugar Island Spiced Rum

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Having Monday off thanks to the snow was such a dream. I read two books and started a third, cooked a healthy dinner (Brussels sprouts from the farmer’s market + Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocci with vodka sauce + roasted corn), and got to try out this new cocktail recipe (which I’ll hardly call a recipe because it’s so darn easy!).

(A quick note: a wonderful PR company that I work with for the blog kindly sent over a bottle of the rum for me to try, but all reviews are my own!).

I usually just set out wine when I entertain at home and would love to be better at cocktail making, so I’m always happy to try new spirits and mixers. Sugar Island Rum is full of caramel and vanilla flavors, as well as a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove (what better combo for winter?) and is said to be similar to Captain Morgan spiced rum. I wasn’t sure what kind of cocktail I wanted to whip up, but I know that rum and ginger beer go great together (who doesn’t love a dark and stormy?), and since I keep spotting ginger beer at Trader Joe’s, I figured I’d pick up a pack of it. FYI- ginger beer is nonalcoholic and is a great drink on its own if you’re doing dry January or just trying to cut back on alcohol!

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To create this super yummy dark and stormy variation, all you need to do is fill a glass halfway with ginger beer (one bottle was enough for two people–my roommate tried the cocktail, too!) and then top it off with a shot glass portion of rum. Then, just stir everything together and add a squeeze of lemon or lime to your liking (I happen to love adding lime to drinks, alcoholic or not), and that’s it! Super easy and delicious and perfect for this time of year.

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What’s your favorite rum based drink, and what are your go-to cocktails to make at home?

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An Amazing Cane Headboard DIY Inspired by Serena & Lily

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I’m so excited to share this post with you guys, because I know how much everyone loves a good DIY- and while this one is a little more advanced, the end product is absolutely STUNNING!

As you may remember, the other day I rounded up some Serena & Lily lookalikes that I found while browsing TJMaxx.com. Soon after, a reader named Alicia messaged me on Instagram sharing her own DIY replica of a Serena & Lily headboard. From the moment I saw her pictures of the piece, I was blown away!

Alicia fell in love with the Harbour Cane Headboard on Serena & Lily’s website, but she wasn’t thrilled about the price tag and figured she could make her own instead. (As she put it, “Who doesn’t want to save $1,150 plus?!).

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First things first, she did a search for DIY caned headboards on Pinterest and found this tutorial, which she ended up modifying slightly. With the help of her dad, Alicia recreated the look using a roll of woven caning (six feet’s worth to fit her queen bed) and crown molding/baseboard, which she painted using this shade from Home Depot). She and her dad then added a center piece of wood to make the result appear more similar to the Serena & Lily product and used these to secure the corners. Alicia says she also used lots of staples to hold the caning and make sure everything was tight!

Alicia then shipped the piece up to DC from her parents’ home in Florida via Greyhound bus! (I’ve heard of people doing this and was always curious about how the process worked, but that’s a post for another day). She’s since attached it to the wall above her bed using command strips.

While the project isn’t beginner level (as Alicia put it, “There were definitely saws involved!”), it’s so worth it given that the total cost of making this beautiful piece was $100 (minus the Greyhound shipping!). Alicia, you have me SOLD. Definitely check out the full tutorial for more detailed instructions (I also found this one on Apartment Therapy that’s also Serena & Lily inspired), and let me know if you decide to make this yourself!

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Recent Winter Buys

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I’m writing this post while watching the snow fall out my window after having had the laziest start to the morning, and it’s kind of the best thing ever. While I spend a lot of time making my home someplace that I want to be, I admittedly like to cram a LOT into my weekends (especially in the mornings), and I don’t spend much time just lazing around in the apartment (unless I’m taking one of my glorious 2.5 hour afternoon naps, which is totally a thing on the weekends). On a typical Sunday morning, I’d probably be out the door early heading to a workout class or running errands or doing fake “errands” (like browsing the Georgetown Flea), but it’s definitely nice to have an excuse to sit around and do nothing but read, nap, and write.

I thought this would be the perfect time to write about some of my favorite cozy winter items, as it looks like there may be some more snow in our future this coming weekend (woo!), and the chilly weather in general is definitely here to stay.

I first wanted to share these weighted products that a PR company kindly mailed my way last week–and they’re AMAZING. I was gifted a small, fuzzy weighted blanket and a weighted eye mask, both sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, and I immediately put both to use after opening the package on Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t heard about the weighted blanket trend, you’re definitely missing out–they’re said to help with anxiety and insomnia, first and foremost, but they’re also just super cozy and make you feel a little more snug and “glued” to your bed, if that makes sense (I’ve always been someone who likes sleeping with a lot of layers, so I like this feeling). I had ordered this weighted blanket off of Amazon over the summer and definitely like it, but the fuzzy one I received (while smaller) takes things to another level because it’s just so warm and perfect for this time of year. And the eye mask, omg- I napped while wearing it on Saturday afternoon, and it was so peaceful and the pressure was just right–totally soothing without feeling too heavy. It’s also said to help relieve headaches and sinus pressure, which is a total win. In general, I haven’t really been able to sleep with eye masks (and I tried wearing this one for a full night but woke up with it buried under my sheets), but this was perfect for a quick rest. I already am looking forward to using it again during my next nap!

Speaking of fuzzy items, I wanted to share this super soft vest I just ordered from J.Crew factory. With sales, the total cost came to like $23, which is such a steal! It likely isn’t something I could wear it work, unless I kind of kept it at my desk to throw on when the office gets cold, but I think it would be ok in many more casual workplaces, and it will be perfect for lounging around on winter weekends. It’s also gotten great reviews!

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Last but not least, while this isn’t a purely “winter” buy, this modern-looking black sconce is recent purchase of mine that’s made such a difference during these dark evenings that I figured I would share! I knew I wanted more light in my little sitting area upstairs, and I’d tried different variations of lamps and sconces, but nothing was really cutting it. As a caveat, sconces can be pretty expensive, and I shopped around a lot before coming back to this one, which I had first spotted on the Urban Outfitters website over the summer. Once I settled on this one, I knew I would need some professional help to hang it up (I pride myself on being able to do a lot of home-related tasks, but using a drill is a little beyond my capacity), so I hired a TaskRabbit and less than 45 minutes later, the sconce was hanging in my room! I’ll need to get some nicely-lit shots the next time I have someone take photos for me, but above is a picture I took when it was first hung. The look is definitely a little trendier than I often go for, but so far, I’m loving it, and it’s really brightened up the space and isn’t purely aesthetic. (My only complaint is it looks like maybe in an older iteration, the sconce arms were able to be bent into different positions, but that is definitely not the case now–although the image on the Urban Outfitters website suggests otherwise. Also, the size of lightbulb mentioned in the description is incorrect–you’ll need an E12, just as one of the reviewers luckily noted!).

What products are you loving this winter, and have you been taking advantage of the time indoors to make any new home improvements? xo

 

 

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All About Anthropologie’s Sister Store, Terrain!

Happy Friday! This week has been a busy one, and this weekend should be, too! On Tuesday, I grabbed drinks with a girl who I met at the Michelle Obama book talk back in November (we both work in higher ed and learned we were both former sociology majors, so we had a lot to talk about!); on Wednesday, I had my volunteer orientation at N Street Village, a local women’s shelter in DC (so many new volunteers showed up, and I can’t wait to get started!); and last night, I saw Jen Sincero at Sixth and I, which didn’t disappoint! Tonight I’m grabbing dinner with a friend and then taking it easy before attending the Washington Winter Show with a few design blogger friends on Saturday morning–can’t wait!

I wanted to pop in and share a bit about a new-to-me store that I think many of you will LOVE–Terrain! Terrain is a sister store of Anthropologie with limited brick and mortar locations (though there’s a new one in Bethesda if you’re local!), but it has an extensive website full of gardening and home supplies (so basically perfection for all of you #plantladies out there). I recently wrote an Apartment Therapy piece on it, so I’ll let you go over there to read more!

A few of my favorite Terrain products at the moment:

I love this heart serving board, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day!

This is supposed to be a dip bowl, but I think it would also make a beautiful jewelry dish on a dresser or nightstand.

I bet this hot cider candle smells amazing, and I love that you can reuse the mug after you burn it through.

I shared this watering can in the Apartment Therapy article; it’s so pretty!

 

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Shop Serena and Lily Lookalikes for Less at TJ Maxx

I’ll start this post off by noting that I love shopping at/browsing high-end home stores like Serena and Lily just as much as discount places like TJ Maxx (and this post is not affiliated with either place!). Serena and Lily’s pieces are so “relaxed chic” (if that’s a thing) and stylish without being too overboard in terms of color and pattern, making them versatile and classic. (Oh, and I own these stools and absolutely love them). That said, most items run in the triple digit range, and as someone who enjoys decorating their space very often, it doesn’t make sense to make a splurge unless I’m sure that an item will stick with me forever (I also live for the hunt and kind of feel let down when making a big purchase directly off a website, if that makes sense, because it doesn’t always feel that exciting or unique! However, I know that I’m in the minority and most people prefer convenience and reputation over scouring the internet–or traveling around the city in real life–for an item on a used or vintage site that may be a gem but may not be so great in person!).

Anyway, when it comes to places like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods there’s kind of a happy medium, because the store isn’t filled with dozens of one particular item, so the “thrill of the find” element is still there, but returns and exchanges are also super simple, eliminating the uncertainty that many people experience when thrifting.

I say all this because…drumroll, please…I’ve noticed lately that TJ Maxx (or TJ Maxx online, which I browse pretty frequently because they send out tons of emails!), has been filled with tons of pieces that look like Serena and Lily items (like, scarily so…) but are priced at so much less. I’ve rounded up some of my favorites to share with you guys (some of which I’ve ordered already), and you’ll have to let me know what you think! Honestly, these are just a few of the similar items I noticed–there are tons more! This throw is very Serena and Lily, for example, and better yet, it’s an amazing price.

As for my TJ Maxx roundup:

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Chair//Wicker lamp//Dyed ottoman//Candle pillars//Moroccan pouf//Woven basket 

As for the prices, the chair is $300, the lamp is $50, the ottoman is $60, the candle holders are $40, the pouf is $100, and the basket is $50.

GRAND TOTAL = $600 (still a lot for a “discount” store, but less than the cost of the ONE CHAIR below!)

Now onto Serena and Lily:

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Chair//Wicker lamp//Dyed ottoman//Candle pillars//Moroccan pouf//Woven basket 

And the prices this time (not including any added handling fees, for simplicity’s sake)…the chair is $678, the lamp is $248, the ottoman is $598, the candle holders are $188 (for a small), the pouf is $498, and the basket is $78 (for a small).

GRAND TOTAL = $2,288 (I’ll let that number speak for itself).

Thoughts:

First of all, isn’t it crazy how much the products look alike?! TJ Maxx definitely copies well-known designers, but I didn’t realize Serena and Lily was so high up on their radar.

Secondly, I know there’s a lot to be said for quality over price (it’s not worth it to buy something cheap just because and have it fall apart a few months later), but the prices for most of the Serena and Lily pieces just aren’t realistic (I’d rather spend $678 on a flight to Europe than on a single chair!). Most of the TJ Maxx pieces I’ve owned have been just fine in terms of quality, and while I am happy to splurge on a S&L piece (well, some of them–and the stools were a pretty good price all things considered), I definitely wouldn’t pay $500 for something like a pouf that isn’t going to be a “forever piece.”

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My 2019 Wellness Purchases

I've been addicted to acai bowls lately after years of thinking I was allergic/negatively affected by them--so good for a post-workout snack!
I’ve been addicted to acai bowls lately after years of thinking I was allergic/negatively affected by them–so good for a post-workout snack!

On Sunday, I talked about organization tips to kick off the year, and today I’m focusing on physical wellness and a few of the ways I’m trying to improve this area of my life!

First things first, finding a gym. This has been a DILEMMA for me since moving to Dupont, seriously! When I first moved to my current place, I had already belonged to a popular gym chain with a few locations throughout the city that I used when I was living in Georgetown, but the location closest to my new apartment was still about a 15 minute walk away. I just didn’t think I would go (when you live in the city, who wants a 30 minute commute to the gym?), so I cancelled that membership. I spent fall 2017 mostly doing spin classes (and thanks to Groupon and the like, I found some good deals) and using ClassPass. Then, around this time last year, I decided to free trial a few gyms in the area before joining a very low key one right in my neighborhood. That worked out well until I started working at a gym this summer and learned I would get a free membership there. However, I still found myself choosing spin classes over the free gym (crazy, I know), and when I stopped working there a few months ago to focus on my freelance work, I resumed using ClassPass (switching over to the lowest credit option and simply adding more on as needed). I was also walking to and from work, which was about 45 minutes of exercise in itself. Then in mid-November, my office moved to a new location, which is overall more convenient during the workday but is about 10/15 minutes of additional walking uphill from my apartment. I now take the bus to work and have been relying on…guess what…spinning for workouts. But one of my goals in 2019 was to find a cheaper option that I still love, so I decided last week that I would rejoin my neighborhood gym from last spring (which is actually undergoing renovations, so in the meantime, they have a partnership with a super fancy gym nearby #nocomplaints). If you’re still following, this has basically been a long-winded journey of finding a workout option that doesn’t eat up all of my precious decorating money but still feels enjoyable. I think that convenience is key when it comes to working out and like that I’ll have the option to run to the neighborhood gym before work and come back home to shower and get ready, in addition to the fact that having a gym membership right nearby makes it difficult to make excuses not to go!

Kind of an aside, but…I also know several people who have recently gotten Peloton bikes over the holidays–and as someone who loves spinning, I’m intrigued, but I guess my thoughts on this are mixed. Price aside, I definitely don’t have space for one in my current apartment, for starters, although the idea of working out from home is obviously appealing, especially in winter months (my cousin in Utah just got one and I’m sure he’ll get a ton of use out of it!). That said, my coworkers were commenting on how I definitely have a “class personality,” and it’s so true–I love the social and motivational aspect of working out in a room full of people (even though I don’t really talk to people in the class unless I run into someone I know, it’s still fun to make conversation and be inspired by others). So I don’t know! Same thing about “workout from home” programs like BBG- I have several friends who are starting them, but I like the gym/class atmosphere a bit more (even if it means venturing outside in the cold!). Would love to know your thoughts on both of these things if you do at-home workouts!

Next up is this portable light therapy energy lamp. I am definitely someone who is affected negatively by the lack of daylight during winter, and I don’t know what took me so long to think of ordering one of these. I’m not sure if I’ll use it at home or in the office or both (I work in a corner with no windows!), but it just came in this weekend and I’m excited to see if it makes a difference. Spending time in Florida and being in the sun over the break definitely helped my mood, and I have a friend who has a large one of these that she sits in front of while she meditates each morning, she swears it feels like she’s actually sitting out in the sun–wellness goals! (I also picked up a bottle of Vitamin D pills when I placed my order, since I figure the real thing can’t hurt, either!).

Lastly, this is a boring (but very practical) purchase–I ordered this cordless water flosser off of Amazon and it also just arrived over the weekend. I’ll report back on if I think it makes a difference hygiene-wise, but I’m one of those people who is terrible at flossing (I blame it on just being over it after years of oral surgeries/appliances), so I know I need to make a change and this device has gotten great reviews. I actually first saw a similar one for sale on Prime Day and should have just snagged it then!

What are your wellness goals/purchases for 2019? I always love to hear what other people are doing and using!

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5 Easy Ways to Get Your Place Organized for 2019

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I’m normally a pretty organized person, but there’s something about the new year that makes me want to do an even deeper dive and get everything in order at home (plus, Tidying Up–Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, which I and seemingly everyone else I know started last week–provides even further motivation!). But if you don’t have a ton of time to tackle your entire place–or really aren’t a fan of decluttering and don’t even know where to begin–these tasks are all pretty quick and manageable and will put you in the right direction should you decide to begin a full blown KonMari organizing spree!

1) Clean out and organize your pantry. This is a simple task that can be so satisfying, because honestly (even if you’re like me and don’t really enjoy cooking), who doesn’t love an organized kitchen?! After ordering these plastic containers off of Amazon last week, I spent no more than 15 minutes filling them up with pasta, granola, and even marshmallows (hoping they’ll stay extra fresh, I feel like marshmallows always get gross!) and then sorting through the other contents of my shelf in the food cabinet that I share with my roommate. I’ll be honest- I’m not normally a huge proponent of spending money on fancy kitchen storage, but I know that plastic jars not only look nice but are the best way to deter pests, too, which is essential when living in a city apartment. And in sorting through my dried goods, I came across food that I didn’t even know I still had and that won’t go bad for quite some time, meaning that I found some new meal inspiration for the week, too!

2) Revamp your closet. No, not by buying new clothes…but by trying out new hangers! (Honestly, it’s more satisfying than it sounds, promise). I’d been using soft fabric hangers for the last several years but then, while scrolling through Meg Hall’s new Facebook group, which is all about mindful spending and decluttering–definitely join if this appeals to you–I saw that someone had posted about these white wooden IKEA hangers, and I loved how they looked. I ordered five packs of eight and they arrived within two days, which meant that I could tackle my closet on Saturday afternoon. With shipping, the total cost was about $40, which is definitely a lot for hangers, but they have already made SUCH a big difference (I shared a bit on Insta stories over the weekend). I don’t live near an IKEA and don’t drive, so ordering online and paying the $9 for shipping was totally worthwhile. I love how my closet looks and need to order more for the remainder of my dresses and winter jackets. (And of course I had to share a pic in the Facebook group, where everyone was very supportive and equally excited about trying them out!).

3) Go through random drawers and cabinets. We all have random drawers that are meant to serve a particular purpose (even if it’s a frivolous one–I legitimately have a half a drawer dedicated to cute cocktail napkins) but end up getting a bit cluttered over the course of the year. Spend five to 10 minutes tackling a drawer and tossing/donating stuff that you no longer need or haven’t used in recent months. Getting rid of excess stuff (that just becomes junk) can feel like such a relief!

4) Move furniture around. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m the biggest proponent of changing up a space every now and then (or, like, every weekend if you’re me). This isn’t really an “organizing” task per se, but it definitely counts as a refresh. If you don’t like how a certain area of your home looks or it isn’t living up to its full potential, try switching up furniture placement or hanging up some new art. It can really make all of the difference!

5) Go through your beauty products. I see so many bloggers with beauty product collections that could rival a major magazine’s beauty closet (seriously!) and most of us don’t have the space or need for that much stuff but continue to accumulate it anyway because we think we need to try every single new serum or nail polish color (definitely very guilty in this department, I have a drawer of about 30 Essie bottles…). While I love to try out new products, I also do frequent cleanouts of my bathroom drawers and toss anything that I haven’t used in several months. If you have bottles that are unopened or products that are gently used, consider donating them to a shelter or similar organization (my office collects hygiene/bath products that we then donate to an organization at the university where we work–everyone brings in mini shampoo and conditioner bottles from business trips or their collections at home). In terms of organizing the products themselves, I have a little drawer system where I sort items by category (ex: face masks and creams, lip products, nail polish, travel-sized cosmetics) so that I know what I have on hand at all times.

What are your organization goals for 2019, and have you watched Tidying Up on Netflix? I’d love to hear!

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Pink Tuckernuck Scarf

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I just posted a few weeks ago about how much I love my orange Tuckernuck scarf, and while I was in Florida, I broke out the pink one (I also own two additional colors!). These scarves are extremely versatile and make a bold statement on their own–in these pictures, I just had a plain navy top and jean jacket on and the scarf did the rest!

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In this post, I’m also wearing a few of my other outfit staples–a fitted jean jacket and black skinny pants, both of which are from LOFT. The exact style of pants is no longer available online, which is so frustrating–I purchased these a year or so ago and hate when companies change their offerings (because we all know how difficult it is to find that perfect pair of pants in the first place!). So if any of you have recs for flattering work pants that aren’t baggy (i.e.: not dress pants) but also aren’t skin tight, send ’em my way because I’m all ears (you can’t really tell in the photos, but this particular pair of black pants is getting a little faded/worn, so I may need to find some replacements!). As for the jean jacket, it’s held up great over the past several years. I love how it can dress an outfit down a bit if needed–I wore it over a lace dress for a night out this summer and it was the perfect way to mix fancy and laid-back. I know some people find jean jackets a bit too ’90s, but I love them!

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December Reads & 2018 Book Recap

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Happy happy 2019! I hope you had a great NYE and enjoyed the time off these past few days. Going back to work after a week and a half away is going to be a challenge for sure (anyone else feel the same?), but the short week will help as we ease back into things!

I thought I would start off this year’s blog posts with a fave topic of mine…reading! This year, I read 55 books that are all recapped on the blog (click on where it says “texts” at the top of this post to see all of my reviews from this year and years past). I definitely did the bulk of my reading in the summer and had some very slow-for-me months where I read maybe two books because I was too busy with work/life to sit down and focus, but I’m hoping to keep reading even more in 2019, largely because it’s so much fun to share my thoughts on the blog!

Taking a cue from Grace’s big end of year book post, I thought I would do a similar categorization of everything I read this past year (although I’m not going to rank every book from best to worst like Grace did, because that takes DEDICATION).

In no particular order, here is each book I read by genre (I like how Grace did this categorization because if you’re only interested in, say, thrillers, you don’t need to read through the entire post to find some recommendations to add to your list). As I said up top, all of these are reviewed at length on the blog, so just search a title if you want to see my thoughts!

  • Fictional Thrillers: I have tons of other thrillers on my shelf that I still need to tackle, but I got through 10 this year (it honestly feels like I read way more, but it’s probably because I’ve been hooked on these over the past couple of years). 

Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell

The Ex Wife, by Jess Ryder

The Girl Before, by JP Delaney

Pretty Baby, by Mary Kubica

The Perfect Stranger, by Megan Miranda

The Woman in the Window, by AJ Finn

The Last Mrs. Parrish, by Liv Constantine

Gone Without a Trace, by Mary Torjussen

My Husband’s Wife, by Jane Corry

The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

  • Nonfiction: I read 15 that fall into this category. Love a good memoir/thought-provoking analysis! 

From the Corner of the Oval, by Beck Dorey-Stein

Educated, by Tara Westover

Sisters First, by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

The Financial Diet, by Chelsea Fagan

The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work at the White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco

Bachelor Nation, by Amy Kaufman

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

Dear Madam President, by Jennifer Palmieri

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It, by Lauren Graham

Unbelievable, by Katy Tur

Text Me When You Get Home, by Kayleen Schaefer

You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero

The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletic Killing, by Dan Morse

Murder in the Yoga Store, by Peter Ross Range

  • Buzz-Worthy Fiction: I read 4 that fall into this category, but it’s kind of a subjective one. 

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin

The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn

Eleanor Olephant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

  • Light-Hearted Fiction: I read 26 that fall into this category. 

The Good Luck Charm, by Helena Hunting

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, by Jo Piazza

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, by Christina Lauren

The Intermission, by Elissa Friedland

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han

Matchmaking for Beginners, by Maddie Dawson

The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories, by Celeste Fletcher McHale

The Queen of Hearts, by Kimmery Martin

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan

Tell Me Lies, by Carola Lovering

The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang

Marriage Vacation, by Pauline Brooks (aka Jo Piazza!)

Playing with Matches, by Hannah Orenstein

When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger

Limelight, by Amy Poeppel

When Katie Met Cassidy, by Camille Perri

Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella

The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory

A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, by Sally Franson

Hey Ladies, by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss

Romancing the Throne, by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Fitness Junkie, by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Still Me, by Jojo Moyes

Your Perfect Life, by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Schooled, by Anisha Lakhani

Fight or Flight, by Samantha Young

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  • In no particular order, these were my 5 favorites of the year:

Tell Me Lies: I continue to be obsessed with this book and will talk your ear off about it if I see you in real life, sorry in advance!

The Alice Network: If you’re looking for a meaningful piece of historic fiction that will keep you hooked, this is it.

From the Corner of the Oval: One of my favorite reads simply because I loved the narrator’s writing style and how she lived a few blocks away from where I am now…oh, and because she had the coolest job ever.

Educated: This is such an important book and is a good followup to Hillbilly Elegy, if you liked that one!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Sometimes you need to dive into a good YA book to get back into the swing of reading.

  • Favorite new-to-me authors from 2018: 

-Christina Lauren (this is actually a pseudonym for this writing duo!) and Jasmine Guillory (need to read her latest, The Proposal!) are my new go-tos for “rom com” type reads.

-Lisa Jewell is a great author for thrillers, and I have another one of hers on my shelf waiting to be read.

  • And, in no particular order, these are the ones you can skip (sometimes I think this type of distinction is helpful because there are truly SO many books out there and not enough time to dig through them all!): 

Hey Ladies, by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss: I did NOT like this book and thought the characters were all annoying, out of touch, and hard to follow. I know that’s a harsh review, but it just didn’t jibe with me!

The Sweet Smell of Magnolias and Memories: This one was a quick read but just not that interesting to me. There are other lighthearted books on this list that are a lot better if you’re looking for a cute beach read.

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  • Now, lastly, here’s my December recap: 

Your Perfect Life, by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke: I brought this one with me to Florida and it was a light read but pretty predictable. At their 20th high school reunion, two best friends accidentally switch lives a la Freaky Friday and do their best to adapt to their new surroundings while having to make important life decisions for each other along the way. In the end, each learns something new about their values and priorities and appreciates what they do have upon switching back.

The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletic Killing, by Dan Morse: Given that I grew up just minutes away from the Lululemon store in Bethesda and have been back living in the area for several years, I was surprised that I wasn’t previously aware that a book (multiple books!) existed about this horrifying case (I found out about this author in another blog post). I actually read this book first and then went back and read Murder in the Yoga Store, by Peter Ross Range, because I was so fascinated by the case and wanted to learn more (though both books essentially featured the same information and background, and Morse’s was more comprehensive and better presented, so pick that one up and you’ll learn everything you need to know). I remember pretty specifically when this murder happened because I was home for my college spring break in 2011 just a week or so after the attack occurred. At the time, the community still believed that masked men were to blame (when in reality, one of the workers murdered another and fabricated a story about two men coming into the store and attacking them), and white ribbons were hanging on local stores in support of the victims. Just a week or so later, it became clear what really happened and the entire community was in shock, as were many others. While this book is definitely graphic and gruesome, it is truly eye-opening and particularly fascinating to read as a longtime resident of the community.

Schooled, by Anisha Lakhani: I hadn’t heard of this book but picked it up in my favorite used bookstore in New York a few months ago and knew it looked good. The story centers around a new teacher, Anna, who has just graduated from Columbia with a job at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious, wealthy private schools. Anna learns that the teachers are making thousands of dollars on the side tutoring students (or essentially doing their assignments in full), and gets sucked into the allure of designer bags and luxury apartments before realizing that she ultimately isn’t satisfied with her life path. While the story is fictional, I’m sure it was based on the author’s own experience teaching at the prestigious Dalton School in NYC. I was hooked right away (especially since I worked at a private school in the DC area) and definitely felt like I was back in the city while reading about Anna’s life as a young postgrad!

Fight or Flight, by Samantha Young: This book is a must read if you like Christina Lauren and other rom com authors. Flight or Flight follows a guy and a girl who meet on a plane, immediately hate each other, and then essentially end up dating after they realize they’re both in the same city, all the while dealing with some major life issues and sadnesses (this book definitely isn’t pure fluff, promise!). While the book is somewhat predictable, I thought that parts of it were very real and loved every page. It’s the perfect book to bring on a long flight (ha!) since it’s on the longer side but doesn’t feel slow at all.

-You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero: This book was a re-read for me, but it felt like an appropriate pre-New Years read and was also one I wanted to pick back up since I’m seeing the author speak at Sixth and I later this month! I always feel motivated when reading self-help books like this one because they aren’t cheesy and are very current and empowering. I’m excited to hear Jen soon and need to pick up her other books!

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