Motivational Playlist

You see, I love music.  For me, music is my meditation, happiness booster, motivator, mind setter, my escape but also a way to ground myself in reality.  Damn, who knew one thing (music) could be that much to someone (me). Spotify creates a personalized playlist just for you tiled “Your Top Songs 2018”.  It’s composed of your most listened to songs throughout the year. As I review my playlist, I’m hit with a common theme.  In 2018, I really focused on living each day fully and getting back up. Whether I succeeded at that or not is debatable.  But these are the songs that inspired me daily to turn that frown upside down. 

Warning: I rarely listen to new music anymore, and I don’t have a particular genre I favor so… here you have it.  Songs to inspire.

I Lived, One Republic

“Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up and when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup”

Seriously, I’ve contemplated what does it mean when someone says a life well lived. This… this song is what it means.

Good Day, DNCE

“Today is gonna be a good day.  Don’t care what anybody else say.  I don’t need a fortune cookie, to tell me the way I’m feeling.  Gonna be a good day.  A good day”

This is the song I played when it didn’t feel like it was going to be a good day LOL.  It says good day so much, I suppose it was hypnotic and could reframe my point of view.

Dare You, Hardwell

“I dare you to fall, and lay on the ground. I dare you to feel, I dare you to be.”

Someone sent me this song once before Hardwell was even a thing.  Likely because I was closed off and super cautious.  This is the song I play when I need to remind myself to take some risks!

Life’s About to Get Good, Shania Twain

“Oh! Life’s about joy, life’s about pain.  It’s all about forgiving and the will to walk away.  I’m ready to be loved, and love the way I should. Life’s about, life’s about to get good.”

I think this is more of a breakup song, but it still speaks to me in the same way that Good Day does.  You gotta believe that the future is bright.

 

Be As You Are, Mike Posner

“There are moments when you fall to the ground, but you are stronger than you feel you are now.  You don’t always have to speak so loud, no just be as you are.  Life is not always a comfortable ride, everybody’s got scars that they hide. And everybody plays the fool sometimes, yeah… Just be as you are”

This is the song that reminds me to learn from my botches, be authentic, and get out of my comfort zone.

 

Anything Could Happen, Ellie Goulding

“But now I’ve seen it through, and now I know the truth.  That anything could happen, anything could happen…”

Couldn’t tell you what this song is about but I remember Fifth Harmony’s performance on X Factor clear as day.  They were the underdogs who sang this song – and you know what anything could happen… like pretty sure they lost and went on to become one of the greatest girl bands (then the girl band with all the drama that is no more… but hey I’m keeping it positive.)

Remember the Name, Fort Minor

“This is ten percent luck, Twenty percent skill, Fifteen percent concentrated power of will, Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain, And a hundred percent reason to remember the name.”

I interpret this song as someone doing what they love and pursing it hard core.  Not for the fame, not for the money, but because he’s passionate, good at it, and works hard sooooo those things follow. 

 

We Got The World, Icona Pop

“They say you’re a freak when we’re having fun.  Say you must be high when we’re spreading love.  But we’re just living life and we never stop. We got the world. We got the wo-wo-wo-wo-wo.”

Probably another love song… because what song isn’t [insert hands up by side emoji].  But I interpret it as life is about fun and don’t care what other people think about you.  Is that a stretch?!

 

A Moment Like This, Kelly Clarkson

“Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this. Some people search forever for that one special kiss.  Oh, I can’t believe its happening to me.  Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.”

This song reminds me of Kelly’s moments on American Idol.  It reminds me of humble beginnings and again… anything could happen.  It’s the song I’d expect to hear playing in my head when my biggest dreams are realized.

 

 

2018 Year In Review

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The time to look back and reflect on all that’s transpired this year.  I have to say, this year was WAY better than last year.  If I had to sum it up quickly – I travelled a boat load, got a promotion, paid off my student loans, lost some weight, gained it back, started a side hustle, and might just end this year as an Aunt!

I kicked off the new year with a trip to Antigua.  I love me a beach vacation. 

Then I travelled a little for work, and luckily mixed in some pleasure.  I cruised to Bermuda aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. Seriously, Bermuda has the prettiest water I’ve ever seen!  This was the trip that totally derailed my diet and it was all down hill from there.  Whoops.  Work had its annual conference in Columbus Ohio.  I wasn’t excited about going, but it ended up being a lovely city.  They have tons of cute shops, bars, and eateries.  I could picture going there for a girls trip for sure! 

Bermuda

The highlight of the year was a trip to Greece. I am SO spoiled.  Nana and her sister took me and my girl cousins to an unforgettable trip to Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos.  While there, we road donkeys, chartered a sunset sail, visited ancient ruins, hit up the beach, ate and drank A LOT, and so much more.  If you haven’t been, add this to your bucket list.

mykonos with fam

Just before my trip to Greece, I flew to Miami for an interview!  While there, I explored Brickell and Wynwood.  I envisioned a future there.  I obsessed over apartments, made new budgets, and explored extracurricular activities.  I saw myself getting fit, walking on the beach, taking road trips to all these Florida cities, and hosting my home peeps for a visit.  I was hopeful, but scared as heck that my life could change so drastically especially with a niece on the way!  Anyway, it didn’t work out because I was out of their budget. BUT they reached out months later to see If I was still interested and things were moving quite fast.

As I was re-interviewing for that position, I was also being considered for a promotion at work.  It was such an anxious time, because my future was up in the air. I had two excellent options on the table – what would I do if both worked out? How would I feel if none did?

In the end, I stayed at my current job and was promoted to a Senior Manager of Program Strategy and Experience.  It’s nice to finally be recognized for hard work.  This year, I’ve grown a tremendous amount professionally.  For starters, I was given a platform to connect with our Representatives on Facebook Live.  I love being in the spotlight and shooting videos is super fun for me.  I also learned to articulate my opinions and back it up with data, stick up for myself, and think bigger, badder, better.  I have to be honest though, I was super stressed at times and let it spill into my personal life.  I cried often, became depressed, and even wrote my resignation letter- I was seriously 2 seconds away from quitting.   I stuck it out, and I guess it all worked out.  That in and of itself was a big learning experience for me.  I know that the tough times are there to make you stronger, and they pass.

I also started selling Avon.  I made a few extra hundred dollars from this endeavor, and I love trying out all of their products.  If you’re interested in shopping – check out my online Avon store.

As if you didn’t hear enough about my jet setting life I took yet another trip.  I did a European tour with two girlfriends.  We met a friend we previously studied abroad with in her home town of Copenhagen.  We then went to Budapest and ended the trip in Iceland

Copenhagen

In November, I went to Asheville North Carolina with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.  We visited the Biltmore (Vanderbilt’s home) which was beautifully decorated for Christmas.  We ate a lot, shopped even more, explored the many breweries, and enjoyed the night life.  This trip happened to coincide with a huge milestone for me.  I finished paying off my student loans!  I wiped out my savings to do this, but it’s such a relief to not carry that burden anymore.  Next year, I’ll focus on replenishing that.  Speaking of student loans… I also had my 10 year college reunion.  Holy smokes… where does the time go?

I celebrated by 33rd birthday this year. For some reason, I felt old this year!  I didn’t really plan any celebrations but my friends kept surprising me with dinners and nights out.  I think people sang “Happy Birthday” to me the most out of any other year. Just prior to my birthday, my parents had to put our family dog Roxie down.  I’m glad I got to see her just before at Thanksgiving.

Entertainment-wise, I saw the broadway play Beautiful. Finally checked out Oktoberfest and Bear Mountain, saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, checked out the Liberty Science Center after Dark, saw my first outdoor concert at PNC (Lady Antebellum & Darius Rucker), took a weekend trip upstate to Troy New York, went to the San Gennaro Festival, checked out the Pizza Museum… sensing a theme that I like italian food LOL.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I ate out this year.  Especially by the water. That seemed to be a recurring theme, I always wanted to be by the water! I also enjoyed my parents boat – hi light of course … taking it out to eat on the water.  I also got back into crafting, reading, and baking more.   Finally, this may have been the first year I didn’t have any weddings to attend in like a decade.  I certainly attended my fair share of baby showers though.  Speaking of which….

I’m hoping to close out the year with the arrival of my first niece.  I can’t wait until Savannah makes her appearance in this world and I get to see my twin sister become a mama and me an auntie.

4 Day Road Trip in Iceland

I hate driving, cold weather and don’t appreciate nature as much as I should. Yet, I still ventured to Iceland in September with two of my girlfriends.  By the end of the trip, I learned to appreciate nature more.  My peaks of the trip were the natural spas – that’s nature right?!

I have to be honest, my friend Sera made this itinerary.  I then googled the heck out of it to learn more and put a picture to each location because at that point, it was a foreign language to me – literally.  I also looked up the directions and played with the order of stops to reduce travel time.  What follows is the most comprehensive, easy to follow four day road trip. It’s epic.

Here was the order of stops:  AIRPORT -> HELLA->HOFN->VIK->REYKJAVIK

  • Reykjavik -> Hella (4 hrs driving)
  • Hella -> Vik ->  Hofn (5.5 hrs driving)
  • Hofn -> Vik (3.5 hrs driving)
  • Vik->Reykjavik (2 hrs driving)

Day 1: 

We began our trip straight from the airport.  No stopping in Reykjavik.  I’ll admit, it was exhausting to have an early flight and then immediately begin a road trip. But looking back, I wouldn’t have changed it.

Thingvellir National Park: I’d say this was fairly anti-climatic compared to everything we saw. But it broke up the drive.  Parking will cost you $7 and you could go for a walk/hike.

Kerid Crater: My friend recommended this and it was a great stop.  The water was the most beautiful color I’ve seen and there were lots of photo opportunities.  You’d probably only spend about 20 minutes here.  It’s $4 per person to “hike” up to the crater and down.

Geysir: It’s a famous hot spring in the geothermal area.  You could see tons of water explode out of the earth – and it’s all natural.  It’s actually pretty remarkable if you think about it.  A few warnings: don’t touch the water because apparently it’s super hot and the sulfur makes it smell like rotten eggs. As an aside, there’s a cafe there with a really great mocha.  You’re going to need it if you start your trip straight from the airport after pulling an all nighter (yup, I did that). 

Gulfoss Waterfall: It was way to cold by the time we got to this waterfall. And for some reason, it was cold by all of the waterfalls. It was massive but I literally looked at it, snapped a photo, and ran back to the car.  Looks like you can walk around it.

We ended the day at Laugarvatn Fontana Spa.  A great recommendation from my friend, and perhaps the peak of my trip.  What a great way to end a long day! It seemed much more upscale than the Budapest baths, very pristine.  The view was gorgeous.  It was so relaxing and it’s seriously miracle water.  They also have a buffet where you can grab dinner.  You must try their volcano bread – it’s baked in the earth and scrumptious! (Did I just use that word?)

After the spa, we drove about an hour and a half to Hella.

Day 2:

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall:  You can climb the stairs and view the waterfall from a different angle. I also believe it’s possible to walk behind the waterfall. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to get wet, although I’m not certain we would have gotten wet. But I swear I saw people drenched there and blame it on that.

Skogafoss Waterfall:  Definitely not the largest waterfall, but by far my favorite out of the many I saw this trip.  It’s so picturesque and we were lucky enough to catch it while there was a rainbow!  Apparently that happens often which is a result of the spray from the waterfall.

Sólheimasandur Airplane Wreck: We saw cars, pulled over, and thought we were walking towards a black sand beach.  There was a sign upon entering that it would be a 3-4 hour hike to get to the plane. We laughed at it like “no way” and had every intention of just going to the beach that looked close enough.  Well it was a never ending path along black “gravel”.  We haphazardly ended up at the plane.  I wouldn’t recommend you walk out of your way to go, as it’s not that impressive and there’s not even a good story behind it. However, I think we did the round trip walk in about 2 hours, and we weren’t hustling (that’s for sure).  Iceland is  filled with natural miracles and perhaps the miracle here is the mirage. Warning: objects appear closer than they are.  If you want to though, you can endure the walk for the “gram” because it was some of the most impressive photos I got on my trip.

Vik’s Black Sand Beach & Dyrhólaey: It was stunning but we didn’t see puffins 🙁 

We then stopped in Vik for dinner at Sudur Vik.  It was extremely cute and we were all happy with our meals.  It was a bit pricy for what we got. I got a salad and glass of wine and it was about $50. 

After all of the stops, we drove about 3 hours to Hofn.  We saved the stops along the route for tomorrow.

Day 3:

Snowmobiling: We used the company Iceland Advice to snow mobile on Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier.  It includes a ride up a rigorous mountain which you wouldn’t be able to drive on your own and then one hour of snowmobiling.  There was another company that operated there, but their tours were bigger and on more of a paved path. We were more free.  Our instructor was a member of search and rescue, so I felt safe with him.  We did go quite slow.  We happened to go on a super overcast and gloomy day so it just seemed like a white abyss. But if you go on a clear day, the views are supposed to be spectacular.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon: This photo doesn’t do it justice.  The color of the broken glaciers and lagoon are out of this world.  It’s hard to believe that this is all natural. This is a MUST on your Iceland to do list.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon:  So I really didn’t want to go here. I was exhausted and just wanted to head back to the hotel to get my free wi-fi.  As I told you earlier, I looked up pictures before so as we were driving in, I thought this rinky dink thing on the side was the canyon.  But we kept driving up.  To be honest, it looked like we were heading the wrong way, but we kept going and then we found it.  You walk up a few stairs and see the most surreal thing ever. Like really, this photo isn’t even edited.

Skaftafell National Park: You can hike here and the views are kind of nice. But at this point in the trip, I was tired, cranky, and lazy. Plus I had gotten some pretty terrible news from back home and din’t feel like going for a hike. So I hunkered up in their cafeteria while my friends walked. Best – move – ever.  Wi-Fi, warmth, and wine.  PS. my friends said I missed nothing.

Stay near Vik in Edinborg, a super small town but it has more affordable hotels.

Day 4:

Blue Lagoon:  I think this is on everyone’s Iceland bucket list, and for good reason.  This is insanely incredible.  Where else can you immerse yourself in the bluest waters that’s filled with minerals and feel good power as you look out on rock formations unlike anything you’ve seen.  The water is hot, and it just feels amazing in the cold air as you see the steam rise.  You do have to reserve this in advance as they only let in a limited amount of people.  It’ll cost you about $90, but you can stay as long as you’d like. It includes a locker to store your belongings too and there’s free wi-fi there.  I was concerned about a few things before going –

  • Was it a good idea to go before flying home? Yes, best move.  I was sore from all the walking previously and this helped to relieve it. I still had plenty of time to enjoy it and then head to the airport which was about 20 minutes away.
  • Was it going to destroy my hair? No. They provide conditioner to put in your hair to protect it.  The minerals in it can be drying but I didn’t experience any of that. I debated not showering before heading to the airport, but I did and my hair is A-OK.
  • Was it going to live up to the hype?  Yes. It’s like Wicked on Broadway. You go in with the highest of expectations, and they’re surpassed.

After this, you can check out Reykjavik. I headed straight to the airport but my friends checked it out and said I missed nothing.

A Few Tips:

  • Gas is fairly pricy, be prepared for that. 
  • While I didn’t drive, road signs were different. You may want to study up on those beforehand.  There was NO traffic anywhere, so you’re good with that.
  • The food options are slim. I’d suggest sticking to finding hotels with breakfast and having one meal out a day.
  • Bring boots.
  • Wear layers. 
  • Don’t bother doing your hair, it’s too windy. 
  • Don’t plan on partying, there’s no place to party on the road trip (that I found, although Reykjavik is supposed to have some night life)

Plan a Trip to Budapest

Budapest is beautiful, fun, and affordable.  It has a great mixture of nightlife, food, sightseeing, and relaxation.  This city should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Where to Stay:

I guess it depends on what experience you’re looking for.  The Danube River divides Budapest into “Buda” and “Pest”. 

The Buda side of town is more laid back and probably better for families and older people. Attractions there include the Royal Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion.

The Pest side of town is probably better for most people who want to be close to all of the action.  This area is the heart of shopping and night life.  I stayed in an Air BNB in District VI.  It was perfect, because most attractions, restaurants, and nightlife were within walking distance.  District V and District VII are also good options.  District VII is where most of the bars are.

What to See:

Fisherman’s Bastion: This is on Castle Hill on the Buda side of town. It’s a viewing terrace that overlooks the Danube River. The architecture is absolutely breathtaking but the views are equally as stunning.  There’s also a little cafe up there next to the arches.  I had a Palinka cocktail at a cafe there, and it was one of my favorite moments of the trip.  [As a side note, Palinka is a Hungarian liquor. The menu made it sound like a sangria, but it most certainly is not that.  It’s more like a fruity brandy.] 

Thermal Baths:  There are a few baths Széchenyi, Rudas, and Gellert.  I only made it to Széchenyi, the largest spa complex in Europe.  I thought it was lovely but my friends thought it was dirty. It was less than $20 to enter.  It’s some fine architectural work and the medicinal springs are filled with water from deep within the earth filled with all these minerals. Couldn’t tell you what minerals these are, but I know they’re great for you and I left feeling relaxed and refreshed. I was so sore from walking 10-13 miles a day around the city and it felt like miracle water to me.

Danube River: There are tons of cruises that line the river but also lot of boat restaurants.  We opted for a night cruise that was included with our hop on hop off ticket. It was lovely to see the city lit up at night. They served alcohol on board too.

Heroe’s Square: Right near the famous Szechenyi baths is Heroe’s Square.  It’s a large plaza with a center column and statues throughout.  

Funicular – You can take a tram car up the mountain. It’s a super quick trip and lets you off right by Buda Castle and other beautiful scenary. You can see the whole Pest side of town – bridges, Parliament, etc.

Other things to Consider: Opera House, Parliament, Museum of Terror (if that’s your thing), Synagogue, St Stephan’s Basilica, Buda Castle, Budapest eye (ferris wheel).

Night Life:

I will preface this by saying I was in Budapest mid-week.  But the night life was still booming.  It seems to be acceptable to go out every night of the week. However, the majority of late night party goers were definitely college aged students and tourists.  I’m sure it’s entirely different on the weekend.  But either way, it’s fun!

Budapest is famous for its Ruinous pubs. These are concentrated in District VII and are bars in run down buildings that each have their own unique flair to them.  It kind of reminded me of Rainey Street in Austin Texas.  The main night life streets are Kiraly Street and Kazinczy Street.

  • Szimpla Kent – probably the most famous ruin pub and a must see. It’s the first one created.  It’s located in a run down building with a court yard and some weird decor from a hanging gnome to a Barbie straddling a keg.

  • Gozdu Uvar – This is more like a “mall” of bars and restaurants. There are a lot of choices here of places to eat and drink. We just happened to stumble across it when walking home from dinner. We went to Vicky Barcelona there which was tiny but had a great DJ.  I entered with my leftover pizza box from dinner which I wouldn’t recommend LOL.
  • There is a party complex. I can’t tell you the name of it because it’s composed of over a dozen different bars/clubs. I believe the famous bars within are Instant and Fogas.  We ended up here every night in Budapest. It’s perfect because you can roam from bar to bar each with it’s own feel and music. Our favorite room was under a giant parachute.

Our Air BNB host also recommended these places, although I didn’t have the opportunity to check them out.

  • Wine Bars: Doblo Wine and Bar, DiVino Wine Bar, Kadarka Bar
  • More Ruin Pubs: Corvinteto is a rooftop above an old supermarket, Ellato Kert, Ellato Haz

I also grabbed a drink at this place called 360 bar. It was 1,000 forints to get in and it did have views of most of the city. Definitely over priced compared to the rest of the city, but it’s got nothing on New York.

What to Eat:

I’m a picky eater, so not the best to recommend food.  However, I know these items are fairly unique / popular in Hungary

  • Chimney Cake – Pull apart bread rolled in topping cooked rotisserie style. I didn’t have one while there (biggest regret) but I have had one before covered with cinnamon sugar and filled with a little nutella.
  • Stews & goulash 
  • Anything with paprika
  • Kifli – Shaped like a crescent, but bread. I had this once there – wasn’t impressed.
  • Langos – Hungarian deep fried dough made with mashed potatoes and flower.  I had a chicken burger on this bread from a food truck at this food truck lot called Karavan and it was A-mazing.  But it looks like they also turn this into their own unique pizza-type thing.

Know Before You Go:

  • You can get a lot for your money there.  When I was there $1 USD = 280 Hungarian Forints.  To put that into perspective a cocktail was 1,000 forints.  It equated to like $3.  I was able to get a fancy meal out with drinks for $20.
  • Do bring money with you or grab some from an ATM, many places were cash only.
  • We were warned about the taxis from several different people. Seems they take advantage of clueless tourists that don’t understand the currency.  We experienced it ourselves when the taxi driver claimed to have a broken credit card machine after picking us up from the airport. When she discovered we had no cash and there were no ATMs on the block her machine magically worked.

Weight Watchers Essential Shopping List

I am loving the Weight Watchers Freestyle Program.  Every food is assigned a point value based on calories, protein, sugar, and fat.  The food starts with a points value based on calories.  Then, the points go up based on sugar and fat.  Which explains why you should avoid regular cake and cookies (ugh).  The point value goes down based on protein. So it’s no surprise high protein, low calorie foods are also very low in points and should make up a good portion of your diet.

I’ve been on the program for a few months and these are the essentials I always have in the house. It allows me to have low point options at the tip of my fingertips to stay on track.  Soon, I’ll write about how I use them all, but for now stock up on the below. You won’t be disappointed.  I’ve scanned the aisles and found the lowest point options and alternatives available.

Frozen:

  • Birds Eye Zucchini Lentil Pasta – 3 Points (tastes just like real pasta to me)
  • Jone’s Turkey Sausage – 1 Point for 2 or 2 Points for 4 
  • Trader Joe’s Spiralized Zucchini – 0 Points
  • Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons -1 Point for  4 Pieces
  • Wegmens Special Blend Grilled Vegetables – 0 Points
  • Trader Joe’s Hold the Cone Mini Ice Cream Cone -3 Points for 1
  • Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Macaroni and Cheese – 8 Points
  • Riced Cauliflower – 0 Points

Fresh

  • Mini Watermelons – 0 Points
  • Grapes – 0 Points
  • Baby Carrots – 0 Points
  • Potatoe – 5 Points
  • Bananas – 0 Points

Refrigerator

  • Fat Free Greek Yogurt – 0 Points
  • Kraft Fat Free Mozzarella – 0 Points
  • Trader Joe’s Lite Mozzarella – 1 Point
  • Trader Joe’s Lite Cheddar – 2 Points
  • Jarlsberg Swiss Lite – 1 Point
  • Laughing Cow, Creamy Swiss Lite – 1 Point
  • Cabot Sharp Lite Snack Pack – 1 Point
  • Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Milk – 1 Point
  • Eggs – 0 Points
  • Egg Whites – 0 Points

Meat:

  • 98/99% Fat Free Ground Turkey or Chicken – 0 Points
  • Chicken Breast – 0 Points
  • Boars Head Oven Gold Turkey – 0 Points

Pantry:

  • Skinny Pop – 3 Points for the individual serving
  • Pretzels – 3 Points for an ounce
  • Fiber One 90 Calorie Cookie Brownies – 4 Points
  • Truvia Baking Blend – 0 Points
  • Joseph’s Lavash – 2 Points
  • Joseph’s 60 Calorie Pitas – 1 Point
  • Nature’s Own 40 Calorie Wheat Bread – 1 Point Per Slice
  • Good Thins Corn Crackers – 3 Points
  • Lily’s Dark Chocolate – 7 Points for the whole bar
  • Premiere Pro Protein Shake – 2 Points
  • Quest Vanilla Milkshake Protein Powder – 1 Point
  • PB 2 – 1 Point

Condiments: These are a great way to add flavor without the guilt.

  • Siracha – 0 Points
  • Soy Sauce – 0 Points
  • Teriyaki Sauce – 1 Point
  • Buffalo Sauce – 1 Point
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray – 0 Points
  • Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise – 1 Point
  • Pam Cooking Spray – 0 Point
  • Garlic Salt – 0 Points
  • Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning – 0 Points
  • Taco Seasoning – 1 Point
  • Cary’s Sugar Free Syrup – 0 Points

T3 Curling Iron Review & Tutorial

My sister gave me the T3 convertible curling iron base for Christmas. She double checked with me prior to see if that was an appropriate gift because it’s pricy at $100, but you kind of need a barrel to make it work.  Barrels are sold separately and there’s a variety to choose from.  I purchased the 1.25″ barrel which T3 positions as the tool to create polished curls.  

My first impression was pure frustration.  I could not get the barrel to lock into the base. It should be so simple, you literally just place the barrel in the base, then turn the knob to the lock positioned. However, it wouldn’t rotate to that position!  It took me an hour to try to figure it out the first time.  I’m questioning if I got a faulty one, I’m just an idiot, or it’s truly that difficult. 

Here’s what I loved about the curling iron.  It’s beautiful plus heats up quickly and evenly.  It creates very smooth curls without the snags.  I do like the curling iron, but not for that price.  I’m eager to try the other bases and see if my opinion on it changes. 

Anyway, here’s a tutorial using the 1.25″ curling iron which creates very loose, almost non-existent curls. 

Whenever you’re curling your hair, here is the holy grail rule. Hold the curling iron so the clamp faces the front, and twist the curling iron towards the back. I’m not sure I articulated that as well as I could have in the video.  Also, you have to keep clamping and unclamping the curling iron as you twist backwards.  

What you do when you finish curling your hair makes all the difference.  I like to shake my hair, finger comb it, and twist it backwards. It takes out most of the curl but leaves your hair with a great bountiful shape.

 

I am totally botching and learning as I create these videos. Next time, I’ll be more conscious of my use of the word “so”. I’m afraid to count how many times I said that! I also know I didn’t look at the camera. I need to figure out how to position the camera and the mirror so that it doesn’t appear so obvious that I’m looking in the mirror. Botch and learn with me.

t3 curling iron

What to Expect at a Networking Event

I attended my first meet up this week. I went in super nervous and awkward. Because well, that’s how I act when I meet new people… except if it’s part of my job because then I rock it. Why is that?!

Anyway, my nerves did fade pretty quickly. It’s amazing what the power of a nametag does (and a glass of vino). It gives people permission to come and talk to you. What a concept. I’m debating wearing one every night, but I’m not certain it will have the same effect when everyone else isn’t wearing one too.

Everyone else is there for the same reason – to network! I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be like a singles networking event or a professional networking event. But I realized, that actually doesn’t need a label. You’re just there to meet people you might not have talked to otherwise. I actually found it highly entertaining and learned a few new tidbits – for better or worse.

The evening started meeting Dante. Dante worked in the “restaurant industry” and wanted to be President. He talked about the corruption of politics and how he wanted in on that… no joke. I had questioned what on earth I had gotten myself into.

Then Bob (I think that was his name) came over, a gay web developer. I enjoyed talking to him because I wanted to know more about web development and what they do. I also questioned the cost of a recent project I had commissioned at work and felt I was getting taken advantage of – he confirmed I likely was! He also taught me that jewish is an ethnicity (to which Dante argued that tooth and nail).

I also met Ray the old cyber security man and a bunch of other characters whom I forgot most of their names. Although there was one name I couldn’t forget, and that was Shady. Yes, his real name was Shady – he whipped out an ID to prove it.

I missed the ice breaker game because the founder thought we were hotel guests that stole nametags.   Luckily he realized the mistake and gave us free passes for another networking event of our choice. However we did inquire about the game – and here’s the low down. Everyone received a word on a piece of paper at check-in. You had to find people with other words and try to make a sentence together. The best sentence won.

As the night progressed, Dante became a little too drunk after downing several long island iced teas on a Wednesday. I’d like to say I wasn’t judging, but I was. He started stumbling and fell asleep on the couch. As I conversed with the other networkers, we all questioned what we should do. Finally, one girl just got up and got the organizer – that was the best choice ever and I wouldn’t have even thought to do it. The problem was in his hands now.  While I talk about Dante’s drunken antics, the whole event was relatively tame.  Most of the people I talked to, didn’t even have a drink.

We all asked several questions of each other. I think these were the best ones to break the ice and get to know someone a little better and find some common ground.

  • If money didn’t matter, what would you do? We all shared and found we had common enough interests – my friend was going to be a barista, Bob could play music there, I would emcee talent night and so-on. At that point, the conversation dovetailed into this luxury coffee made of coffee beans which cats poop out…
  • What’s your roommate horror story? Because just about everyone has had a roommate and a story, even if it wasn’t the horrific.
  • What’s the worse date you’ve been on? 
  • What was the best date you’ve ever been on? Most people talked about the person, but me and my friend talked more about the experience / what we did. 

At the end of the night, I didn’t find a future husband or any job leads. But I stepped out of my comfort zone. I learned to talk to new people and keep an open mind. I know if I continue to attend networking event, it would help me build my confidence so I could approach anyone and have an interesting conversation with them. Even though we all had different jobs, there were so many common themes and connections. Overall, I had a good time and would  totes go back.

Apartment Tour 2018: Glam, Edgy, Babe Cave

babe cave feminine glam apartment

One of the perks of being single and living on my own is that I have complete creative freedom to decorate.  I mean, when else in my life can I sprinkle a home with pops of pink (aside from like a baby girl’s nursery).  I dub this apartment, my babe cave.   I predominantly aimed for feminine glam, but added pops of edge and rusticness. 

Check out the gallery below to get a glimpse of my gray toned living quarters and bedroom which transitions to more champagne tones.  Wondering where I purchased the items seen in these pictures?  Come back later this week for a video tour!

 

2018 Look Forward

I’m baccccckkkk and am really looking forward to reviving Botch and Learn in 2018.  Here are some of the things you can look forward to.  Hopefully, it tickles your fancy and you decide to return back regularly.

I got a new camera – a Sony Alpha a6000.  So, what that means for you is… more photos, more videos, and maybe even some botch and learn posts on photography, because quite frankly I have no idea what I’m doing.

That’s right, I said new videos.  I’ve acquired a lot of new gadgets this year that are perfect for demonstrating.  This includes the Beachwaver, T3 Convertible Curling Iron, PMD Personal Microderm System, some lip exfoliating tool, a new Avon Clarisonic-like cleansing brush, and a KitchenAid. As an aside (toot-toot) did you know that my Perfector tutorial video has gotten over 16,000 views on YouTube? I know that’s chump change but gotta start somewhere.

In 2017 I made status at both Ulta and Sephora. So yes, I did spend a lot of money on makeup and hair products.  I’ll give you a few reviews, tutorials, and lists on the yays and nays of what to purchase.

Tips for Weight Watchers.  You read it right, I started that and have had so much fun figuring out what to eat and how to make healthier versions of my favorite food. I love working the system to feel satisfied while still having a social life that revolves around food and drinks.

Mani inspiration.  I used to refuse to spend money on my nails. That stuff adds up. But I’ve since had a change of heart and have been getting a gel manicure every 2 weeks. I’ll share some of my favorite looks to inspire you for your next salon visit.  PS – I love the party nail!

A home tour.  I’ve had so much fun decorating my “babe cave” and can’t wait to share it with you.  Also, my sister is purchasing a new home and I’ve already been recruited for home decor.  Therefore, I will also share some posts and collages on interior design inspiration.  Not that I’m a pro, but I love it and I swear I have good taste.

I’ve also got a few trips in the works next year including Bermuda, Spain, and Antigua.  I’ll put together some nice itineraries to make sure you have a kick ass time.

Finally, I’ll probably write about whatever I want LOL.  But, I hope to be more vulnerable and open with you.  Cheers to 2018.

2017 Year in Review

2017 has been the most challenging year of my life.  However, with change and challenges comes lessons and growth.  Here’s what I’ve been botching and learning this year and signs of what’s to come in 2018.

I moved into my own apartment. Decorating with free reign was the best part about living solely on my own.  I discovered my love for interior design.  I had a lot of shopping to do!  Homegoods, Wayfair, West Elm, and Gilt became my new best friends.  I racked up those credit card bills and quickly paid them down. (Be on the lookout for future posts on interior design tips, a home tour, and tips for how to pay down your credit card).

I’ll show you my bathroom, because this year was pretty “poopy”.  Also, I think it perfectly showcases what you can do to a home if you’re a single girl living in her own babe cave.

Babe Cave Bathroom

While I enjoyed decorating, I also experienced a new sense of loneliness that came with living alone.  I can truly say, I never felt lonely before this year. I always surrounded myself with people.  I lived in New York city for the bulk of my adult life, and there was always something to do and someone to do it with. In Jersey, and as I get older… not so much.  Plus, I came home to an empty house every single day after a long commute.  The only thing I wanted to do was plop on my expensive couch and stream free cable.  I tried to stay busy by making plans in the city after work.  But even when I was busy, I never felt present.  It’s hard for me to describe how loneliness feels.  I guess I felt lost like everyone’s life was evolving and mine had to adjust too, but I just didn’t know where I fit.

Then, in April, my grandpa Henry passed away after being on life support.  I knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier when my father broke the bad news to me while I was still at work.  I could barely speak and tried to pass something off to my co-worker between total sobs.  I had to come to terms that I would no longer see him.  That’s kind of a hard notion to grasp, that you’re never going to see someone again.  And just like that, my own life had changed in the blink of an eye.  When my nana was ready, there was a service for him in June. Surprisingly, it was fun…  believe me, I know it’s an odd word for me to use in this scenario.  But there was a great slideshow capturing all the happy memories of a life well lived and the whole family toasted him with his favorite, Heineken!  My heart also felt so big for my family and I learned just how important it is to cherish every moment with them.  As an aside – I’ve always said something is going on behind the curtains. You don’t know why things happen, but it sets the stage for the acts to follow.  My grandfather passed away soon after the birth of his first great grandchild who arrived months premature.   She’s now living a beautiful healthy life.  This taught me to hold onto hope and believe that everything happens for a reason that we don’t need to understand right this moment.

The best family celebrating a life well lived.

Unfortunately, my older brother was also taken from me this year.  He passed away in a sober home after trying to get better.  While I knew he gambled with his life, I never thought this would happen to him or our family. We had a complicated relationship, but we loved each other.  I was so proud of him for getting serious about getting clean.  I’ve been struggling for months with grief, guilt, and trying to rationalize what exactly I’m feeling.  Still can’t really describe that either.  A few days after he passed though, I found out I was his legacy contact for Facebook. It was such an honor that my brother trusted me with this responsibility, and below is the cover photo I made him filled with all of his favorite things.  What his death taught me is that life is precious. It can be taken from you or altered at any moment. So I’m going to start living more, quit feeling sorry for myself, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, judge less, forgive more easily, go after challenges, and spend more time with the people I love. I see life through a different lense now.

This is the Facebook Cover Photo I made to honor my brother, it’s filled with his favorite things.  Note the wings above the house, I know he’s watching over me.

One of the things I admired about my brother was how disciplined he was when it came to health and fitness.  He’d eat extremely healthy and exercise daily. He knew everything about every supplement and every body part. After being hospitalized for a month, through grit and determination he returned to hitting the gym hard. I couldn’t comprehend how he could be so disciplined and determined to be fit, but couldn’t have that same willpower when it came to drugs. When he was getting clean, I tried to give up chocolate just as my own form of solidarity.  I couldn’t do it, I had no willpower!  I also joined and quit 2 gyms this year, and got a personal trainer hoping it would give me the motivation I needed to get fit but that also ended after 2 months. That worked for a little, but man they’re expensive and I should really be motivating myself!  So now I tried to channel some of his healthy determination and joined Weight Watchers again. I’ve lost 10 pounds so far, and probably gained it back this holiday season LOL.  But I’m jumping back on the bandwagon in 2018 and am determined to finally stick to something in honor of him.

2017 was also filled with some shining moments. I celebrated 3 weddings and 6 births.  I got a financial advisor and am getting smart about saving for the future.  I went on vacation to Austin and a bunch of small trips too. I ate a lot of brunches, attended a ton of happy hours, made it to an outdoor winery in February, went for a few rides in my parent’s new boat, saw a couple of plays, and kept myself relatively busy.

Austin I Love You So Much

By Jos Coffee in Austin Texas, gotta love those flips…

Work had its ups and downs too. I earned a spot bonus for doing a great job. I passionately executed a scratch off ticket incentive along with millions of dollars of other incentives.  I went to Nashville and the Atlantis in the Bahamas.  My direct report got a well deserved promotion.  I also feel like I’ve developed leaps and bounds navigating never ending changes and doing things that have never been done before.  My offices moved from midtown to downtown by the World Trade Center.  While the commute completely blows, I’m enjoying discovering a whole new area.

2017 definitely tested me.  As I reflect back on this year I’ve really learned and grown so much.  I hope to carry these lessons in 2018 and revive Botch and Learn with the candidness and vulnerability that it deserves.

selfie