Girls Trip Scottsdale Arizona

I’m obsessed with Scottsdale Arizona. I would totes move there.  With its myriad of outdoor eateries, the most perfect weather (in April at least), nightlife, shopping, and nature… Scottsdale is all around a joyful city.  Two nights there were definitely not enough although  we  certainly  squeezed  in  plenty.

Hotel: Saguaro

Located in the heart of Old Town, the Saguaro was the perfect place to stay.  We could easily walk to dinner, shopping, and night life.  It’s super cute with a retro/pop vibe which outweighs the mediocre room.

Upon arrival we snagged a spot poolside where I ordered a frose (which melted in minutes). We spent a few hours relaxing out there and taking in the Arizona sun.  The weather in April was absolutely perfect and the best part – no humidity.  

Food:

First stop on the list was Diago Pops.  This Instagrammable Mexican hot spot came up in our research repeatedly.  The reccos were spot on.  It’s the cutest little restaurant with soft pinks and turquoise decor and a massive outdoor patio.  I had a watermelon mint margarita which was super fresh and so fab, I had to have another.  We split chips and guac and for the main event I got one of each of the chicken tacos.  They also bring out a carton of sauces.  There was a pink beet sauce that was surprisingly tasty.  We loved it so much, we came back on our last day before the airport.  This time, I grabbed the chicklets on the way out. Totally reminded be of 8th grade Spanish class.

For dinner we had a reservation at Olive & Ivy. This place had a bunch of good reviews so I was excited to check it out. It definitely was not worth the hype. The menu was expansive so its suitable for picky eaters and the place itself is massive.  Like most of the Arizona eateries, there was a big outdoor patio which was located on the water. Unfortunately, our hostess refused to sit us out there, the service was slow, and the food was nothing special.  I enjoyed my Mediterranean salad  but how do you mess that up?  My friends got some sort of chewy chicken and overcooked shrimp risotto .  Neither were impressed with their meal.

On the first day I woke up super early and  strolled the quiet streets of Old Town and ended up at Cartel Coffee. I grabbed an iced chai tea latte and a cookie because they looked freaking amazing and it did not disappoint.  

We met for breakfast at Farm & Craft.  You order and pay at the counter which I loved. It’s great if you’re with a large group and makes bill splitting easy because you pay for what you got.  I got a green juice which was very good and then I also ordered an egg sandwich.  Also good.  My friends enjoyed their food as well but the acai bowl was a little on the small side.  I saw on Instagram they serve drinks in watermelons. I would have loved one of those but it was way too early.

Image

Didn’t snag a pic so got it from here.

We also ate at another Mexican joint, Cien Agave which was a couple of blocks from our hotel.  Got guac and tacos as well.  Tacos came with rice and beans which was nice.  Also tried a prickly pear martini. Apparently prickly pear was very Arizona.  It was a little sweet for my liking. Overall food was enjoyable but I still preferred Diago Pops.

Spa Day: 

Did you know Scottsdale boasts the highest number of spas per capita in the entire United States?  So a spa was definitely on the to do list.  It’s not quite the mega spas like Miraval and the Enchantment but are still quite nice.

Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Princess.  It was a bit of a drive from Old Town – probably about 20 minutes.   We had a 2 o’clock appointment and arrived before noon to enjoy the amenities.  They had a pool with  a stunning  mountain view and poolside service. I enjoyed a mojito and salad.  There was an outdoor waterfall jacuzzi next to a picturesque courtyard.  Inside there’s the usual hot tub, cold pool, sauna, steam room, swiss shower, and nap pods. 

After enjoying the extras I had the Havasupai Falls service. This full body service was more about releasing toxins and negativity energy so it began with a sage smudging followed by a dessert salt body scrub.  Then, I rinsed it all off then sat in a magnesium bath for about 20 minutes. I wasn’t aware a bath was part of the service and annoyed that I had to waste 20 minutes of it in a tub.  At least my lady left cold wash cloths, ice water, and hydrating spray by the side to make it more enjoyable.  After that a quick hot stone massage, then I got cacooned in a warm herbal wrap which is basically wet towels and blankets that help you sweat and release toxins.  Closed it out with a Sedona red clay mask on my face and a warm coconut scalp massage. 

Overall it was a very relaxing experience. However, it cost almost $500 with tip and it definitely was not worth that. I wish I got a massage or something basic.

I did a lot of research on the spas before landing on Well & Being.  Other spas that looked super cool were Joya at the Omni which was Moroccan themed, Sanctuary Resort & Spa, The Four Seasons Spa, and Spa Avania at they Hyatt Regency.

Shopping:

We road an Uber bike from our hotel to Fifth Avenue.  There aren’t exactly bike lanes so I almost got hit by a car pulling out of a bank soooo needless to say we did not take them back to the hotel.

Fifth Avenue in Old Town is filled with boutiques and souvenir shops.  It annoyingly is open from 10/11 to 6PM which is smack dab in the middle of the day.  It’s not like New York. The owners seem to stroll in and open whenever they want.

The stroll down the street is enjoyable. There’s a couple of statues and many benches with cool stats.

There were a few cute stores there but I wasn’t really impressed.  I wouldn’t say this is a must do if you only have a couple of days.  However, if you LOVE shopping, you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more than I did.

NightLife:

Around 9 on a Friday, we took a golf cart for $3 each to the Entertainment District in Old Town.  I was in awe when we arrived. There were so many bars in one location and it’s easy to bar hop.

Every girls trip I find my favorite spot and always end up back there. For this trip it was Dierks Bentley Whiskey Row.  The early hours played country but the late hours played top 40.  Loved the low key vibes here.  Bathroom line was quite long though. Def not enough stalls.

Then we went across the street to El Hefe.  The music here was more techno and dance.  There was a tiny “dance floor” in the front by the DJ.  It definitely wasn’t the scene.

After that we went to The District which is connected to Maya. It was a nice open outdoor area but the party was definitely not there that night either.

We also checked out the Bottled Blonde. Holy crowded.  When you walk in there are all bottle service tables around the perimeter. There’s only a tiny space between those tables and the bar and security is constantly pushing you forward.  The crowd there was also super drunk and obnoxious.

There were many other bars there that we didn’t have the opportunity to check out.  I also feared that this would be super young and collegy but it wasn’t.

In addition to those bars in the entertainment district there were many random bars scattered throughout. Some with rooftops, etc.  So definitely a heavy bachelorette party location.

Botch and Learn

  • There’s a little River in Old Town. I insisted we had to take an Uber to Olive & Ivy because of that bridge. Nope, it’s completely walkable.
  • We only stayed in Scottsdale 2 nights I would have liked one more and I wish I also explored Phoenix.
  • We rented a car to drive from Scottsdale to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Luckily I had my Hertz points otherwise for 4 nights and 5 days it would have been almost $700!  That’s cray. Instead it was just shy of $200.  So expect pricy car rentals.
  • For the most part, I did everything I wanted to do. I was a little bummed that I didn’t fit in a hike through the Sonoran dessert.

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.

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.

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!

 

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

How To Live Healthier

For 10 days in a row, I had fevers up to 104 degrees.  I’d take Tylenol, sweat it out, feel  fine, then get sick again.  It was a perpetual cycle.  One morning, I woke up with my clothing and sheets beyond drenched.  I thought perhaps an elephant snuck in my room and poured its body weight in water all over me.  Just kidding, I didn’t think that.  I thought I was dying – like frantically calling my doctors’ emergency hotline and questioning if I should call an ambulance or draft a will.   So what was this mystery illness?  At age 31, I got mono.  Yes “the kissing disease”.  For the record, I was only kissing one person and I wasn’t sharing beverages so I have no idea how I got it but ugh was it embarassing to admit LOL

Now I’ve skirted by life barely catching a cold, despite the fact that I eat zero nutrients, work out minimally, and don’t take care of myself.  I’m just that lucky.  However, I vowed that I would start to live a healthier life, because boy oh boy did I not want to get sick again.  I thought of all the things I would do to accomplish this, which by the way… I’m not doing.  But for giggles, here’s what I told myself I would do, and what I know I need to do in order to lead a healthier lifestyle

  1.  Take a multivitamin daily.  Okay, this I’m actually doing.  Yes, it’s a gummy vitamin.  Yes, I’m an adult.  No, I don’t care.
  2. Drink green juice daily. I took this when I was on the mend and I did feel better.  I don’t know if it was mind over matter, but it certainly gave me energy and made me feel healthier.  I told myself this would replace my addiction to caffeine and daily Coke Zero which leads me to my next point…
  3. Skip the soda.  It’s terrible for you.  I know it, you know it (But it’s sooooo good, and there’s zero calories)
  4. Wear a winter jacket if it’s cold out, and zipper it like a big girl.  This seems so obvious.  But I consistently went out with just a sweatshirt on in frigid weather or an unzipped jacket.  Sometimes, I’d go out with a wet head too 😡
  5. Exercise.  That’s it! I was supposed to go to the gym 4 days a week again.  But then my social life and 12 hour workdays got in the way.  Plus, I was walking to and from Penn Station daily and that was my “workout”.
  6. Cut back on booze. You might not know this, but mono effects your liver enzymes.  It lingers in your body for a super long time too.  So you’re definitely not allowed to drink.  I didn’t even have a glass of wine for 30 days straight!
  7. Eat 5 servings of veggies daily.  Ummm, I legit can go days without eating a vegetable.  However, when I have my salads for lunch I know it makes me feel better.
  8. Drink lots of water. I kind of do this.  I definitely get in my 64 ounces a day.  Where I fail miserably though is making up for the intake of dehydrators like alcohol and caffeine.
  9. Shower daily.  Hahaha, I swear I pretty much do this one.
  10. Meditate. Ohmmmmm… okay I’m bored.  But I do plan on taking this up one day.  Can someone please teach me how to tell my mind to pipe down?
  11. Take Vitamin B.  This goes hand in hand with #2 and #3.  This was supposed to be my new source of energy vs. caffeine.
  12. Sing in the shower. Yes, I thought this would lead to a healthier lifestyle.  Pretty sure it uplifts the spirits.
  13. Have more “me” time. This I’m getting a lot better at.  I kept myself so busy with dinners, drinks, celebrations, and activities.  I over extended myself so much I felt myself getting run down and knew a sickness was lingering around the corner.  I never had time to rest up.  Well I’ve taken this to a whole new level and pretty much have too much time to lay around and watch television…
  14. Limit TV to one hour a day.  Some days can go by where I watch no TV. But most night I have it on in the background as I lie in bed and pin things on my computer for 3 hours.
  15. Laugh more. You know this is the best medicine.  Hopefully this post made you giggle a little bit.  If it didn’t, I’ll leave you with this story…

Apparently, some people with mono get a swollen face.  Of course, I had to be a part of the 1% (why can’t that be my stat financially?)  My face became so distorted. I went to a wedding and people I actually KNEW came up and said “you must be Katie’s twin sister, I’m so-and-so, nice to meet you”!

is this me

Hangover Beauty Helpers

I don’t know about you, but after a night of drinking and dancing I look like a tiger attacked me.  My skin is duller than a matte nail polish and you could easily mistake me for the female version of Mr. Fester… pretty much the opposite of pretty … which I definitely looked the night before 😉

Now, I know many of you will be out celebrating this weekend.  Here are some tips to look presentable come Sunday sans Snapchat filter.

Hangover Helpers

DULL SKIN

Cause: Alcohol is a notorious dehydrator.

Fix:

  • Moisturize the face – Before going to bed, try Anew Clinical Overnight Hydration Mask.  This will deeply replenish the lost moisture as you sleep.
  • Use a face scrub – it will remove the dry, dead skin cells and bring blood to the surface for better circulation.
  • Drink a TON of water to rehydrate the body and skin.
  • Try a Vitamin C Serum.  It reduces inflammation and brightens your complexion.  Plus it’s filled with antioxidants which is the body’s damage fighter.

DARK CIRCLES & PUFFY EYES

Cause: For starters, you’ve probably gotten minimal sleep.

Fix:

  • Get some caffeine under those eyes, it constricts blood vessels and reduces fluid!  For a natural remedy, steep 2 tea bags, let them cool, then place directly under closed eyes.  Or, try Garnier Fructis Renew Anti-Puff eye roller.
  • There’s another tried and true tip – place 2 spoons in the freezer and put over eyes.  Not only is it completely refreshing, the delightful chill will also constrict under eye blood vessells.
  • Put on sunless tanner.  I don’t have a good reason other than the fact that when I drink, I end up looking super pale.  So if I tan myself up, dark circles don’t seem as prevalent.
  • And the most obvious solution.  Concealer is a girl’s best friend.  Make sure to moisturize properly then pat on and set with powder.

KNOTTY HAIR

Cause:  Too much product, teasing and quite possibly head banging.

Fix:  

  • Use a detangler BEFORE going in the shower.
  • When in the shower condition first!  The conditioner will act like a clarifying shampoo, breaking down all of the product in your hair.  Follow it  up with shampoo, and another round of conditioner.  No joke, this works and doesn’t leave your hair knotty or greasy.

PS – If you’re feeling really blah try MegaHydrate this was a miracle saver in Vegas

Bachelorette Party: Fire Island New York

Fire Island New York is low maintenance fun.  It’s perfect for my tri-state compadres seeking a beach vacay without forcing all guests to jump on a plane.  It’s unique, because it’s only accessible by boat – no cars allowed.  You’re encouraged to wander the island in your flip flops and just unwind.  Plus, they are not strict about props.

Kudos and gracias to the bride’s future sister-in-law for planning this one.

Fire Island Bachelorette

Ultimate Fire Island Bachelorette Party

Getting There: We took the ferry from Bayshore Long Island to Ocean Beach.  It was an enjoyable 45 minute ride soaking in the sun.

Hotel:  The Palms

I heard the hotel rooms were tiny… luckily we didn’t even see them because we got UPGRADED.  Woot woot!  We stayed in “The Cottage” which was basically like renting a house in the most convenient location ever.  It was much nicer to celebrate in a common area or the back patio vs. cramming into a hotel room.  Plus, we had a full size fridge to store all of the alcohol in.

There are some additional perks to staying here.  They provide hotel guests with beach chairs, wagons to lug everything around, towels, umbrellas and even bikes.  They also include a free continental breakfast.

If you plan on staying here, make sure to book well in advance as they fill up quickly and jack up the prices.  The biggest downside is that there is no pool.  Plus, we saw a little Peppino running around.  (That’s a mouse, in case you were wondering).

The Day:

We spent the days at the beach.  On the first day, we went to Ocean Beach which was a few minutes from the hotel.  This beach was super strict about having food or beverages.  While I saw a few people munching on sandwiches, I wouldn’t recommend it.  No one wants a ticket for something that dumb.

The next day, we hauled our booties to Ocean Bay Park.  It was a decent walk – at least a half hour.  This beach had more of a party scene and we stopped at a store nearby to grab some beer.  Make sure to keep it covered though when entering the beach, because technically it’s not allowed.

The bride also brought a giant swan float and pump.  It made for the biggest bachelorette prop to date and served as a great conversation starter.  Though, I can’t believe they took it in the ocean and managed not to drown!  I wasn’t having any part of that.

On our departure date, we strolled the town to check out the shops.  There weren’t any noteworthy stores but they’re all kind of charming and cute in their own way.

Dinner:

On Friday night, we ate at Island Mermaid.  We had planned to do a prix-fix menu, but it wasn’t worth it since we didn’t have a full crew.  We did however purchase a wristband for a $5 Rocket Fuel.  The drink normally costs $14 and is deadly with the Bacardi 151.  However, these are big on the island and you should try one while you’re there.  The food was meh.  I think it’s more of a seafood place so I didn’t care for the menu.  Then, we stayed after dinner expecting it to turn into the island’s best dance party.  However, it too was mediocre at best and we swiftly left.  Plus the owner/manager was totally creeping us out.

Another night, we wanted to stay late at the beach so we just ordered in pizza.  This was clutch and I highly advise a casual pregame pizza party with silly bachelorette games.

Nightlife:

Ocean Beach in Fire Island is made for bar hopping.  However, many of the places charged covers but this appeared to be waived for bachelorette parties.

We particularly gravitated to Sand Bar.  On the first night, they had a countdown to midnight as if it was New Years Eve.  It was hysterical and complete with confetti and napkin throwing.  We also liked the music, there was a stage to dance on, and it was big enough.  I’m told that this place can be super young.  However, we went at the end of summer when most of the college kids were back in school so we got to avoid that.

Albatross was a tiny bar but worth the stop.   Randomly, they had a luau theme complete with leis and limbos.  On another note, you’re encouraged to spin the lamps above the bar.

Then there was some late night bar next to Albatross.  I am already blanking on the name.  But don’t even bother trying to go there before 1AM because you’ll be the only people in the place.  Afterwards though, it’s so much fun!

Botch and Learn – Avoid a Botch-lorette in Fire Island:

  • Parking was confusing and limited at the ferry.  The front lot by the actual Ocean Beach Ferry was for season ticket holders.  We had to park across the street.
  • When travelling between towns, utilize the water taxis vs. hoofing it.  There’s no cars on the island, so there’s really no other way to get around with your beach load.
  • I would have liked to check out Flynn’s in Ocean Bay Park.  They supposedly have a killer happy hour.
  • The bars are open until 4 AM … danger.
  • No need to dress up.  The dress code is fairly lenient.  Save yourself the pain and ditch the heels as this is beach vibes all the way.

10 Tips for Decorating a Glamorous Bedroom

The best part about moving is decorating.  But wait… don’t run to the store right away!

Prior to going on a shopping rampage, I made the below vision board for my bedroom.  Believe it or not, this took HOURS.  I constantly put things I loved in the collage… then removed them for not fitting with the vision. If I ran to the store immediately, it would have looked like this – buy, realize it doesn’t match, return.  Buy, realize it doesn’t match, return.

I learned a lot about my design taste from this exercise.  Ultimately, it helped me develop some guidelines for what I would purchase for my room and the overall theme –  subtle glam is what I’m calling it!

glamorous girly bedroom

10 TIPS FOR DECORATING A GLAMOROUS BEDROOM

  1. Stick to neutral colors like light gray, ivory, white and beige
  2. Choose 2 soft accent colors – in my case peach and turquoise
  3. Find items that have some shape to it – notice the curves on the headboard and chair
  4. Decorate with flowers and silver/gold accents
  5. Find an oversized mirror with a metallic frame
  6. Incorporate texture
  7. Mix in clear furniture
  8. Decorate walls with the accent colors
  9. The glam is in the details and it’s okay to play matchy matchy with some things  There are silver studs in the headboard that repeat itself in the dresser, clear tables that match the clear knobs, etc.
  10. The bedspread can (and should) tie the whole look together

Coming soon… the final results