Just for Fun/ Style & Beauty
December 13, 2016

My Christmas Wish List

Looking back on 2016, I have a lot to be thankful for; a new job, health (particularly being cleared off crutches and being able to work out again), my family’s support, new apartment and more. Thus, I am not asking for much this Christmas, but I am asking for a few things! I can’t believe it is less than two weeks away!

Here is what I am hoping Santa brings me this year: 1: I love how this moisturizes my lips. I already have the “Rosé” color but want to try it in “Tulip.” It is one of Leigha’s beauty favorites as well!          2: Because my ears are so tiny/my piercings are so low, I can only wear studs.            3: Because I am always losing gloves!           4: The perfect stocking stuffer; I am often exhausted and just want to easily take off my makeup in one swipe          5: My current weekender has a shoe compartment, which is great, but that also means compromising size. I have my eye on this one. Perfect for quick trips down the Cape!          6: I always love a good tote bag, and I recently had to throw my Longchamp tote away due to wear and tear. This one is currently down to $116 from $145.            7: Because I think I lose these more than gloves. And this one benefits different charities.           8: I am very particular about my planners. I like them to be on the smaller side, but still detailed. I am looking to switch it up from the Lilly Pulitzer one I had last year.           9:This is a necklace I could wear with almost anything. Use code LOVE30 for 30% off! Also, free shipping!            10: Looks J.Crew, but actually Old Navy. Great contender for Christmas dinner outfit (and on sale for $18).

In addition to these items, I am asking for a lot of gift cards (and I will gladly accept checks!): Whole Foods (because I am seriously addicted to that place), Trader Joe’s (now that my new schedule allows me to avoid the weekend mayhem there), Sip and Script (co-organized by my awesome blog logo designer, Julie of Posh+Prep), Pure Barre (my doctor recommended this to build up my core strength), Miniluxe, and yoga (either my neighborhood spot Acorn Yoga, CorePower Yoga or Prana Power Yoga).

Have you finished your holiday shopping? What are you hoping for this year?

Just for Fun
December 5, 2016

Top Three: December 2016

psi-card-2

You might have noticed that I have been very MIA over here recently, in terms of both blogging and social media. I mentioned in one of my posts that things felt stagnant when I was on crutches, but it has been quite the opposite lately! My goal for the last month of 2016 is to dedicate more time to blogging; ironically, the busiest month of the year.

This month, my Top Three revolve around the holidays! Given today was the first snowfall in Boston, I am feeling particularly festive! Here are the Top Three things that I am looking forward to this holiday season!

  1. Holiday treats: I am not much of a cook or baker, but this time of year makes me all the more motivated to get into the kitchen! Clean eating can wait until January (though Blair is always inspiring me with her healthy food Instagram snaps!) We always made cookie-cutter sugar cookies growing up around the holidays, and would be sure to leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve ;-). One of the items on my list this year? This homemade take on Starbucks cranberry bliss bars.
  2. Holiday parties: I have been invited to a few holiday parties this year (though I am still waiting on an invite for an ugly sweater party-I have an AMAZING authentic ugly sweater, courtesy of my aunt in the 80s), and I am really looking forward to them! As I mentioned, this fall has been a whirlwind (mostly good changes), and my constantly changing schedule means that I don’t get to see many of my friends as often as I used to. The holidays are a great time to catch up with both friends and family. Oh, and I am looking forward to hopefully stopping by Best Dressed Charlestown in their new Southie location prior to one of my holiday events!
  3. Christmas movies/music: In years past, whenever I have lacked in Christmas spirit, listening to a Christmas song or watching a Christmas movie has quickly turned my mood around. My favorite Christmas movies include comedies, (my mom loves “It’s a Wonderful Life” but it is just too sad for me!) like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “The Grinch,” (with Jim Carrey) and “Elf.” I also just discovered Leona Lewis’s Christmas album from a few years ago, and am loving her song, “One More Sleep.” I can only listen to “All I Want for Christmas is You” so many times.

*The header in this post is a painting by Joann Vitali. Faneuil Hall is beautiful around Christmas, and I can’t wait to check out the tree this year. If you have not ordered your holiday cards yet, consider choosing from one of four winter card scenes from the Boston’s Pine Street Inn. Originally a homeless shelter, PSI now offers a myriad of resources for Boston’s homeless population.

What are you looking forward to about the holidays?

Style & Beauty
November 12, 2016

Forty Winks

I always really respect female business owners; we need more #girlbosses out there, and we should always be out there supporting one another. There are some great events and organizations promoting female entrepreneurship, like Just Us Gal’s monthly summits and Boston Business Women.

I wrote about Vicki and Nikoleta of Best Dressed Charlestown (who just opened their second location) this summer, and I recently spoke with the owners of Forty Winks Lingerie Boutique to learn more about their lingerie boutique in Harvard Square.

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Forty Winks owners Meredith and Rachel garnered retail experience working at one of my favorite area boutiques, Mint Julep. The women came up with the premise for Forty Winks, because they often struggled to find lingerie that was both comfortable and beautiful. Their goal was to open a shop where they or their friends would feel comfortable shopping. No such establishment existed yet, and these ambitious women saw an opportunity.

The shop is bright and open. I was on the hunt for a basic tee shirt bra, and I had no idea what bra size I was, and the salesgirls were more than happy to help me find the right fit and style. I went with this Calvin Klein number. It is by far, my favorite bra. Forty Winks also carries designers Cosabella, Hanky Panky, Heidi Klum Intimates, Commando, Chantelle, Stella McCartney, and many more.

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Last month, Forty Winks launched a Lookbook titled, “The Middle Layer,” and I am in love with the concept! The campaign features women of all shapes and sizes modeling lingerie in their everyday activities; yoga class, waiting for the bus, biking, gardening, working on the computer, walking the dog. Shot by Jordan Jennings, the models feature Boston locals @jolielavie, @porcelaindalya, @eraese91 and @dahlia_strack.

With the popularity of super skinny supermodels Kendell Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt and Karlie Kloss (no offense to these ladies), it is refreshing to see women modeling lingerie, that we can relate to. Because let’s be honest; none of us have the luxury of a team of personal assistants, personal chefs or personal trainers. The rest of us need functional and comfortable (but pretty) undergarments.

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In addition to their shop in Harvard Square, Forty Wink’s has an impressive online store. They offer free shipping and returns on domestic orders. Be sure to sign up for Forty Wink’s Birthday Club to get 15% off during your birthday month! Happy shopping!

Just for Fun/ Style & Beauty
October 18, 2016

Top Three: Fall 2016

Fall

Ah, you guys! The last month has been CRAY CRAY, as my friend, Sergio, would say! This is the longest that I have gone without blogging! As I shared in my last post, I have a new gig-also a longer commute. And since I had a pre-scheduled trip to NOLA planned, I had to stack up my work hours.

Anyways, here’s to turning a new leaf (get it?)! You may remember that I often list the Top Three things that I look forward to every month. Due to my hiatus, I decided to write a Top Three for the entire fall/autumn season (which word do you prefer to use?).

  1. Pumpkin (and apple) spice and everything nice: I am writing this with a box of Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s sitting next to me, and it is taking restraint to not eat one. Tis’ the season for PSLs and apple crisp, my friends. I try to only indulge from time to time on delicious pumpkin and apple treats. Luckily, there are some healthier options, too. I recently scored some siggi’s pumpkin and spice flavored yogurt. What are you favorite fall treats?
  2. Halloween: I have never been able to watch scary movies, but I have always loved October 31. It is just such a fun holiday! Even though Halloween is on a Monday this year, I hope to do something fun for the holiday, because I was recovering from surgery last year and sick the year prior. There are always great Halloween recipes, DIYs and party ideas on blogs! Oh, and my annual viewing of “Hocus Pocus.”
  3. Fall Fashion: As sad as I always am to see summer go, I am always excited to be able to pull out my fall boots! In fact, I believe that I am due for a new pair. Along with boots, I am loving fall hats and….OBSESSED with blanket scarves. I finally got my hands on the scarf (see above) that was sold out everywhere last year! In terms of colors, I am loving burgundy for this season. I hope to do a fall photo shoot ASAP!

What do you love most about fall?

 

Just for Fun/ Life Lessons
September 20, 2016

Ch…Ch…Changes

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last posted! I attended the Boston Bloggers meet-up the other night, and the #girlbosses always inspire me to get on my game!

I always loved the F.Scott Fitzgerald quote, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” And I certainly have started over again/experienced many changes lately. Coincidentally, I have had three major changes, somewhat in line with my Top Three series that I often do at the beginning of every month.

First of all, I AM OFF CRUTCHES!!!! What was supposed to be three-four months on crutches after my PAO surgery, turned into ten months. October 8 with mark my one year anniversary of my surgery. I am in physical therapy for a  hamstring issues (learn from my mistakes: be careful of rushing back into exercise after a surgery/injury), but the pain that I would have constantly in my hip/groin is gone.

Also, after almost three years working in the non-profit sector, I completely changed industries and am now in a retail management training program. Out of all of my experiences in the fashion industry (which i was very fortunate to have), I always liked retail; something about the customer interaction and working closely with the product.

Along with a new job, I have a new residence! I had lived right near Boston College for two years . In June, my landlord informed me that the rent was skyrocketing , and I knew that I had no choice but to move. Being on crutches at the time made the whole process quite daunting. Luckily, a friend of mine, Katie, informed me that two of her friends were looking for a third roommate. I moved in September 1 (still haven’t completely unpacked), and am really liking the change in scenery, along with my roommates- however the proximity to the Brighton Whole Foods is dangerous.

During my ten months on crutches, things felt stagnant. Everything was so much harder. I never would have realized how simple tasks like grocery shopping (thank you Instacart) and social gatherings are so much more difficult when you aren’t able to walk. The amount of freedom I have now mainly accounts for why I have been so busy! The change in residence and job would probably not happened had I still been on those crutches.

Are you experiencing any major changes in your life?

 

Health
August 26, 2016

Introducing: The Foodery

The Foodery Logo

#Adulting. . . . Two areas that I struggle with the most are a) time (there is never enough!) and b) health. I try to eat well, but preparing nourishing meals is very time-consuming (I also hate clean-up!)

I introduce you to The Foodery, a Boston-based food delivery service that strives to use organic and local ingredients. All meals are free of artificial colors and flavors; that’s a step up from that boxed macaroni and cheese that we can all admit to having consumed. Even better; The Foodery’s menu rotates on a weekly basis. You can get the menu delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Tuscan Braised Chicken with White Bean Ragu

Tuscan Braised Chicken with White Bean Ragu

In terms of delivery logistics, as long as you place your order by 10 AM Thursday, The Foodery bundles are delivered between 5 pm to 8 pm on Sunday. If you can’t be home at the time of your delivery, you may leave a cooler out for your meal bundle.

The Foodery meals come in portions of 2-4 (and you can order multiple dishes); tackling some meal planning for the week. All entrees come fresh/ready-to-eat. There are instructions for heating up food via microwave or oven. It is not recommended to consume meals more than 4 days after its delivery, but it can be frozen, if necessary.

The Foodery Shrimp

Szechuan Shrimp, Vegetable Blend and Herbed Brown Rice

My friends, Jenny, Vivian and myself were lucky enough to try out three different dishes: Szechuan Shrimp, Vegetable Blend with Herbed Brown Rice, Tuscan Braised Chicken with White Bean Ragu and the Turkey Sausage Kale Pasta Bake. We loved all three meals, but we would have to say that our favorite was the Szechuan Shrimp. I really appreciated the creativity that went into all of the dishes; definitely more exciting than ordering from your neighborhood pizza place.

Thank you to The Foodery for providing me with their food in exchange for my review. I am also extremely grateful that anyone reading this post will get 20% off their The Foodery order with the following code:  BusyBeeEatwell2016

Bon Appétit!

Style & Beauty
August 11, 2016

Anthropologie Sale

I always find that the beginning of spring or the end of the summer is the perfect time to review my wardrobe, given the impending change in temperature here in New England.

I am also a sale seeker (I don’t like the phrase “bargain hunter”), so I am always on the hunt for a good sale. I would say that I am a pretty smart shopper; I seldom buy something that isn’t on sale. I waited for 2+ hours on crutches in the rain this spring for the In the Pink warehouse sale. Given the rain, my crutches and the crowd, I did feel like a bit of a hunter that day!

Anyways, if it were up to me, I would deck my home out in Anthropologie. Just going in the store puts me in a positive mind-set (I mean, their visual merchandising is on point). Yesterday, I heard Anthro was taking an extra 25% off of all sale items, and I knew I had to take a look. Since the end of summer is one of the points where I find myself evaluating my closet (and the fact that I am moving apartments September 1),  it’s meant to be, right? Below, check out my fav items from the sale.

Who knows how long this sale will last! Many of the items only have a few sizes left! #Treatyoself

What sales are you shopping right now?

Style & Beauty
August 5, 2016

That’s Clutch

Featured clutch: 

Mudpie Carlton Cork Carry-All Case via Resort

Clutches. They are perfect for when you just have a few necessities and don’t want to carry around a cumbersome bag. In my post about the Little Black Bag, I featured the black clutch/wristlet for evening wear.  But this summer I have been seeing a bunch of really fun, colorful clutches! Below, I rounded up some of my favorite summery, bright clutches! August is the last full month of Summer 2016-make the most of it!

 

August is the last full month of Summer 2016-make the most of it! Where are you shopping this summer?

Just for Fun/ Life Lessons
July 30, 2016

My Summer Reading List

Does anyone else remember those summers between school years when you had assigned reading? Perhaps, that is why I always associate summer with reading-summer reading! Recently, I ordered some books from Amazon, which I will be reading well into fall. See below!

  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown:  Multiple people have suggested this book to me. When you go on Pinterest, you see all these quotes about taking risks. You read about people who risked it all to go after their dream. But what happens if the risk doesn’t work out? It can be in any facet of your life. I can think about one particular time when I took a risk-I trusted someone I should not have. I spent so much time beating myself up; it was exhausting. I hope that this book encourages me to take the risks-in all areas of my life-that we all need to take.
  • Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder by Arianna Huffington: Another self-help book. I was disappointed when I couldn’t go to the Boston Business Women conference, featuring, Arianna Huffington. Also, the particular book store that I went to was out of The Power of Positive Thinking, so I picked this one up instead. I glimpsed at the first few pages, in which Huffington brings to light how overworked we all are. People often brag about how little sleep they get, because I guess it means they work hard? I need sleep, so I can get behind Huffington’s argument!
  • Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again: by Teresa Giudice and K.C. Baker (the latter probably pretty much wrote it): Judge me all you want, but we all need to engage in our guilty pleasures from time to time. One of mine is the Real Housewives franchise (I mainly watch Orange County, New York City and New Jersey). What drew me to this book is that the Real Housewives of New Jersey season 7 is running now. Let’s be honest, very few celebrities write their own books (I actually am curious to find out which ones do and which ones do not).  I am wondering how it will stack up to Orange is the New Black, which I read this fall.
  • The Power of Positivity by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale : I love self-help books and am always looking for ways to improve myself. One of my goals is to be more positive. Recently, Dog Geared Tails (how cute are her dogs!?) gave this one a positive review. I am hoping it gives me some good tools for staying positive in adversity. As they say, “Life is not waiting about the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.” Cliche, but true.
  • What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love by Carole Radziwill: Okay, I feel like this is a step up in authenticity from Teresa Giudice. Unlike Teresa Giudice, Carole Radziwill had a career as a writer. On TV, Carole is soft-spoken and quiet compared to the rest of the clan. This memoir tells the story of how Carole lost her closest friend, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, JFK Jr. and Carole’s husband’s cousin passed away in a plane crash. Three weeks later, Carole lost her husband to cancer. I can’t even imagine surviving such tragedies, one right after another. I look forward to hearing about this Real Housewife’s background, and specifically, how she was able to move on from such adversity.
  • Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy by Ally Hilfiger
    I love memoirs (which is why there are two other ones on this list). This one is penned by Tommy Hilfiger’s daughter, Ally, who you may have seen on the MTV show, “Rich Girls,” in the early 2000s. I always think we have a lot to learn from one another. Recently, I have been hearing more about Lyme disease, mainly because a few celebrities have discussed their battles with it. One of the main themes in individuals’ personal stories is that this disease is invisible. I don’t watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but I know know Yolanda Foster has been the subject of conversation, and it has even been suggested that she has Munchausen Syndrome. How frustrating to be sick, especially when everyone around you says that you are faking it. I am curious to read Ally’s experience with Lyme disease, which stole much of her childhood. Another reason I picked it up? Ally is a fellow Sacred Heart alumni!

What books are you reading right now?

 

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Style & Beauty
July 22, 2016

Best Dressed Charlestown

I have noticed many Boston bloggers tagging Best Dressed Charlestown on Instagram. Rent the Runway has always intrigued me, but after working years in retail sales, I know the fit on the hanger can be completely different than the fit on the customer. In fact, as Best Dressed recently shared on their Instagram, 59% of women would rather shop in-store, rather than on-line.

View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/cara-62116

The premise of the operation began with a friend of Nikoleta’s and Vicky’s, who found herself waiting on a last-minute rental from Rent the Runway for a wedding. She received the dress just in time, but she wasn’t happy with the fit. That is where Nikoleta and Vicky and saw an opportunity and Best Dressed Charlestown was born.

Best Dressed Charlestown white

What if instead or spending the money purchasing a dress for an event (which many of us only wear once), or risking a deceptive/disastrous online purchase (we have all been there!), they were to set up a physical storefront, allowing women to try on dresses before renting them? Better yet, no need for the customer to worry about dry cleaning!

When I inquired about renting dresses from Best Dressed Charlestown, I immediately received an email back from Vicky, saying they would be happy to work with me. The store is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard. It is a 15 minute walk from the North End. I had no problem finding street parking, either.

Dresses

As soon as I arrived, Vicky showed me how the merchandise was organized. Dresses for rent are organized by size, and there is also a rack of dresses for sale. The boutique displays beautiful jewelry, most of which is for sale, but some jewelry can be rented as well. I myself picked up a couple of pieces. The store itself is so nicely decorated! Vicky told me that her sister and her wanted to created a space that felt like a friend’s closet. I totally got that vibe, and envy anyone with a closet like that!

earrings shot

In the end, I went with a lace theme. I purposively picked out three lace dresses, but all with different vibes. I get a very feminine feel from the blue one, a more sophisticated and structured feel from the orange (I would normally not gravitate towards orange and am glad I gave it a try!), and a playful sensation from the white/neon Betsey Johnson number (love that back!)

View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/cara-62116

Having worked in retail, customer service is always super important to me. Vicky could not have been more helpful, and I am absolutely going to recommend Best Dressed Charlestown to all my friends, or any fellow female in need of a dress! Dresses at Best Dressed Charlestown are available to rent for 5 days at a time. 

Also, if you are looking for a good Girl’s Night Out idea, the store hosts private parties with refreshments and discounts!

View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/cara-62116

Thank you for all of your help, Best Dressed Charlestown! And thank you for the beautiful photos, Stephanie Rita Photography!

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