Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink

SHOP MY FAVES

SHOP MY FAVES
SHOP MY FAVES

STYLE

STYLE
STYLE

Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Should you wear a mask when exercising outdoors via The Wall Street Journal.

2. The surprising feature home buyers are prioritizing right now.

3. How to create a simplified bar cart via Cupcakes and Cashmere.
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Weekend Dispatch


It's hard to believe this coming weekend is Memorial Day weekend. It hardly feels like it. In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the Jersey shore is usually buzzing with activity and seasonal businesses gearing up for a busy and prosperous summer season. But this year, things look a bit different around here. Although many businesses are gearing up to open, they are doing so amidst many restrictions. Local beaches are opening this weekend, but access is restricted, and once capacity is reached, others will be turned away. We ordered our beach badges online last week (a first for us as we usually get them in person at the beach) and have to pick them up tomorrow via a drive-thru process. In addition to badge pick up, here's what else I've been up to lately.

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Fab Finds Under $50


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It's time to treat yourself. You deserve it! After almost 10 weeks of quarantine, it's time to give yourself a little something to boost your spirits. Here are 5 finds under $50 that work for hanging at home or popping out to pick up a few essentials.
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Why we've lost track of time during quarantine, according to psychologists via Yahoo! Life.

2. The best states to retire in via Finance101.

3. Seven smart habits to maintain after social distancing ends via Martha Stewart.
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How To Deep Clean Your Kitchen

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The kitchen is the heart of most homes. A lot of love is poured out in the meals prepared and eaten, in the conversations that happen, and among the coffee that is brewed. Kitchens are busy, crumby, and filled up with ingredients to make delicious meals.

But that also means that they need a lot of love and care - and a deep clean every few months.

But where do you start? Is there a best way to do it? Being in lockdown is a good time to tackle a kitchen deep-cleaning. Here are a few ways I approached the project when I took it on this week.

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Eighteen


Eighteen years ago today I became a momma. After months of wondering what kind of personality she would have, what color hair and eyes she would have, she was finally here. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. She was perfect. I took one look at her and fell in love instantly, and that love has only intensified as the years have passed. The moment I held her in my arms for the first time, I knew it was a love I had never experienced before.
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Ten principles to help anyone unclutter via Becoming Minimalist.

2. All of the rides at Disneyland, ranked from worst to best via Travel + Leisure.

3. How to choose the healthiest, non-perishable quarantine snacks via Huffington Post.
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The Books I Read In April


After a strong January and February and a weak March in terms of reading, I started to pick up the pace again in April. Once I start a book, no matter how far into it I am, I feel obligated to keep reading it, especially if I've paid for it. But I've been slow to realize that when I am not enjoying a book, it takes me forever to read it because I don't make reading a priority. It's more of a chore when I'm not loving, or even liking, the book I'm reading. So, moving forward, I've decided to abandon books when I am not feeling it. Maybe I'll go back to them at another time, but if, after a few chapters, I can tell that I'm not entertained, the book will be shelved.

Here are the books that I read in April and the one that gave me pause to start shelving those that don't hold my interest.

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Weekend Dispatch


We finally had beautiful spring weather this past weekend, and it was invigorating. Seriously, my moods are tied to the weather, and when it's nice and warm outside, I feel like I can take on the world (and usually try to!). It was just nice to spend our quarantine outside on the deck for a change instead of cooped up indoors. I cleaned up our deck, and while the girls did some sunbathing, I read. It was so relaxing and refreshing.

Today, it's back to work and virtual learning, which we learned today will continue through the end of the year as NJ schools are now closed for the school year. I'm doing my best to keep things normal with some fun mixed in for the girls. Breakfast from their favorite coffee shop, Starbucks drive-thru runs, Amazon orders, and more. It's the little things that are keeping them happy these days, and who am I to say no?

Speaking of mixing in some fun, here's what I've been up to and a few ideas for your quarantine time.

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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Ten amazing free classes you can take online from Harvard, MIT, and more via The Girlfriend.

2. Why you need to stick to a regular bedtime during quarantine via MindBodyGreen.

3. How to set goals during a time of uncertainty via Career Contessa.
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10 Great Beauty Buys Under $10

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One area where I've really scaled back during this quarantine is beauty. I'm wearing less makeup and spending less money on beauty-related items. I am still taking diligent care of my skin (cleansing and moisturizing morning and night), but I'm not doing my normal daily makeup routine, and my focus on beauty products is leaning a little more towards those of the inexpensive-but-effective variety.

Since I like to think that we are all paying a little more attention to our bank accounts right now (whether you are currently employed or not), I wanted to share ten of the beauty products I am currently using and loving, all under $10.
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Small Changes To Make Around the House To Save You Money

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It’s a challenge to save money in this uncertain world. There are distractions from saving everywhere, always new subscription services (hello, Book of the Month Club) or new restaurants to try out. It feels like there is no way to budget and save for future, no matter how hard you try.

However, if there’s one place that you can always save money even when you’re struggling to budget, it’s your home. While you can’t avoid mortgage or rent payments, there are other aspects of the house that will help you cut costs.
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The Books I Read in February and March


February started off strong in terms of reading, but by mid-month, I had faded a bit, and then once March came and the quarantine was ordered, I had a hard time focusing long enough to read more than a few pages at a sitting. Because of that, I've combined February and March into one post.

Now, I am back on track and plowing through the books again. But before I get too far ahead of myself, here are the books I read in February and March.

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4 Areas Of Fashion and Style Where You Shouldn't Follow The Trends

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You might think that to be fashionable, you need to follow the latest trends. For instance, a lot of people think staying in fashion simply means looking at what influencers or celebrities are wearing. However, this isn’t quite true. The reality is that their fashion choices may not suit you. You may not share their body type or lifestyle. When it comes to fashion trends, it’s best to follow your own direction. Decide what you like and what looks best on your body with your face and hair and how it will fit into your overall lifestyle.
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. What will our new normal look like when we get back to "normal" via The Slate.

2. Thirty-one thoughtful gifts to send friends and loved ones during social distancing via Glamour.

3. What to do to banish boredom at home via Sunset.
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Where Will You Go (After Quarantine)?


About two weeks before our governor ordered us into quarantine, we had considered making last minute plans to go away for a short spring break trip. Usually we gift the girls a trip as part of their Christmas present, but we didn't do that last Christmas. With Emma graduating from high school and Harper from middle school, we had planned to use some of the spring break trip funds on graduation parties and gifts. But when airfares and hotel rates dropped drastically, we had second thoughts. Until I really thought about it. I knew it wasn't happening. I knew travel would be halted and we'd be at home. This week is the kids' spring break, and a little part of me feels like we are missing out on a trip even though we had nothing planned.

But it has gotten me thinking about travel plans when the bans are lifted and we can start getting out and about again. I've been thinking a lot about our spring break trip to California last year and wishing we were going again this year. The picture above was taken at the Santa Monica pier. It's been fun to browse Pinterest looking at all the travel pics and dream a little about exotic locales.

Where will you go when we can travel again?
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Weekend Dispatch


Today marks the first day of our second month of coronavirus quarantine. We've had 4 full weeks of working from home, schooling from home, working out from home, and learning to love being home. Who thought we'd say that life is stranger than fiction? Honestly though, this is the stuff a good fictional novel is made of.

Each week is starting to feel weirder than the one before, but oddly normal as well. We've fallen into a sort of routine, but this week the girls have spring break, and I'm a bit worried about boredom setting in without school work and any outside activities to do. I'm still trying to find an indoor workout routine that I love. I miss my gym and the routine I had there, and finding something that clicks here at home has been a struggle. Last week, I started running outside instead of walking. It was an adjustment and quite a struggle initially as I only run on treadmills in ideal indoor temperatures. But I still need an alternative for colder or rainy days.

Anyway, here's what I've been enjoying:
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Don't miss "Some people"... via Kottke.org.

2. How to make a coronavirus face mask out of a t-shirt via Huffington Post.

3. Four possible timelines for when social distancing will end via The Atlantic.
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10 Items I'm Using More Frequently While Sheltering In Place


Since going into self-isolation almost one month ago, I've found myself reaching for the same 10 items over and over again. Some are items I've used daily in the past, but now I'm using them all day, every day. Others are items that I've owned and haven't used in months, but all of a sudden, I'm putting them to use on the daily.

I know most of us aren't focused on spending unnecessarily right now, but if you want to treat yourself to something you'll use over and over again while you are staying safe at home, here's what I've been relying on.
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Tips To Help You Care For Aging Parents At Home

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If you've made the decision to care for your elderly parents at home, then you'll know what a big deal it can be. You may feel as though you want to make them feel comfortable but at the end of the day, you also want to make sure that you are looking after yourself as well. I asked a good friend of mine who is currently caring for her parents to share some tips on caring for aging parents without compromising your own mental health.

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20 Great Buys Under $25


After three full weeks of isolation, I've learned a thing or two (or maybe 10, but who's counting?). I've learned that it's no time for splurges and frivolous purchases. I'm all about the practical and the reasonable right now. I'm also all about comfort while I am at home or even running out to do a curbside pickup. I've scoured the web for some fun and functional items under $25 that are available online for quick delivery.
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What Does Your Dream Home Look Like?

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Since being quarantined almost 4 weeks ago, I've been spending a lot more time (WAY too much) on Pinterest. Obviously, I've been looking for recipes ideas (aren't we all?). I've also been basking in all the pretty pictures, whether they are travel pics, food pics, fashion pics, or insightful quotes. But the type of pictures I seem to be the most fascinated by are the home pictures. Maybe it's because I've been spending so much time in mine that I just want to look at everyone else's. We all want to live in beautiful, grand surroundings. But due to money and resource constraints, that isn't always possible. That's where your imagination comes in. I've come across some pictures of home features that I had no idea existed. I'm not kidding when I say there are some really far out houses out there. Here are a few of the things I might include in the dream home of my imagination.
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Three easy ways to save $100 or more a month via The Girlfriend.

2. How to politely turn down a virtual date via Bustle.

3. Five ways to stay connected during isolation via MindBodyGreen.
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How To Cook With Your Kids During a Shelter-In-Place (And Why You Need To)


Have you heard it yet? The dreaded phrase, "Mom, I'm bored." After almost three weeks of sheltering-in-place, you've likely heard it multiple times. One way to break up the boredom is to get kids in the kitchen to help cook and bake. Most children will express an interest in cooking at some point in their lives. Usually, they like to get involved in baking sweet treats like cookies and cupcakes, where they can lick the spoon as a reward for their efforts. Allowing your kids to help you cook and back will engage them in new learning experiences that will set them up for life. 
Here are just some of the wonderful benefits gained when you take the time to cook with your kids and teach them more about food:

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Weekend Dispatch


Today marks the beginning of our third week being self-quarantined. It's a surreal feeling. One moment everything feels normal, and the next moment you are painfully aware of how different life has become. Here in New Jersey, things are getting intense as our number of cases and deaths escalates. I feel like this sickness is closing in on me, and it's not a good feeling. I'm trying to remain positive and keep in mind that the safest place right now is in our homes. Since we will most likely be doing this for at least another month, and quite possibly, longer, I've decided to beef up the Weekend Dispatch posts. So, here we go. I'll be including things I've watched, ate, read, listen to, etc. as well as some suggestions and/or what's on my list for the week ahead.

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How To Keep Your Kids Occupied During Quarantine


We’re living through some pretty strange times at the moment and none of us really knows how things are going to pan out or when life will resume as usual. Chances are, your little ones have been thrown out of their routine too. In many countries across the world, schools have been closed and we’ve been placed in a lockdown situation where we need to keep our little ones indoors. This, of course, can be challenging. Kids get bored easily. They’re not going to school. They’re not attending their hobbies and extracurricular activities. They’re not seeing their friends. They can’t get out to play at the park or go for fun days out. But that doesn't mean days at home should be dull. There’s so much you can do to keep their minds occupied and their imaginations entertained. Here are a few suggestions:
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How To Plan For The Future You Want In Uncertain Times

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The world is full of uncertainty right now. As we wait it out, many countries across the world are in a state of lockdown, and it feels like there are so many unknowns. Forget wanting to thrive, we just want to know if we and our loved ones will survive this testing time. It’s easy to forget what life was like without the constant ticking of bad-news headlines and worrying new developments. Although this particular situation is something none of us have experienced in our lifetimes, it’s fair to say that life has always been about overcoming challenges.

From accidents and illness through to redundancy, divorces and bereavement, no life is completely without its testing times. In fact, it's not these crises which define us - it's our emotional resilience and our response to them and how we handle them. In fact, being confined to our houses is presenting us with a unique opportunity to re-evaluate our lives, to assess the direction we’re heading in, and to set some goals for our future. Planning for better days can be a savior in turbulent times, as it allows you to focus on the positive and take back some control. So, how can you use this time in self-quarantine to plan your next move and actually improve your life?
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What To Wear To Be Comfy In Quarantine

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I've learned a few things during this quarantine, and one of them is how to perfect my athleisure game. In two weeks, I've worn jeans twice, maybe. I've been living in black leggings, cozy joggers, and cute sweats. At one time, I would have considered this type of clothing to be glorified pajamas, but not anymore. I'm totally here for the athleisure look, especially during these times when we are safe at home but still want to be comfortable and look pulled together. Here are a few of my favorite pieces that are versatile and can be worn with jeans or pulled on over a bathing suit.
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An Emotional Roller Coaster


Life sure does look differently these days. A few months ago if you had told me our state (and much of the country) would be on lockdown in March, I would have laughed. How silly that would have sounded back then. Now, it's our reality, and there isn't anything we can do about it except adjust, cooperate, and hope our efforts pay off quickly so that we can jumpstart life again.

The fact that this situation unraveled so quickly is daunting. Two weeks ago everything seemed fine. I was going to the gym everyday. The girls were going to school everyday. We were more vigilant about hand washing and touching unnecessary objects as well as our faces, but other than that, everything seemed as it always was.
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. How to load a dishwasher properly via The Huffington Post.

2. What it's like being a healthcare worker fighting coronavirus via Marie Claire.

3. The five do's and don'ts of working remotely via Inc.
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We Can Beat This & 10 Things To Do In Quarantine


This is a crazy time in the history of the world. A global health crisis not only poses a threat to our physical wellbeing, but also to our mental and financial wellbeing as well. As much as I support social distancing (I've been doing it since Friday afternoon), it's difficult to see some of my favorite small businesses suffering in order to support these efforts. But I know our collective efforts will pay off in the end by limiting exposure and therefore, stopping COVID-19.

In the meantime, it's overwhelming to take in the abundance of information that's coming from all directions and try to maintain some semblance of sanity and control. While it's been hard for me to limit my time on social media each day as I am constantly checking Facebook for updates and Instagram to see how everyone is doing, I know also that I need to take a break from the constant news stream.

As hard as it is to be quarantined, it's also the only way we will end the spread of COVID-19. Rather than live in denial, embrace your limitations and use this time as a chance to accomplish things you never seem to have the downtime to do.
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The Books I Read In January


This post is wayyyyy late, I know. It's been a minute since I've had a chance to sit down and devote time to writing this long post. It's an in depth one since January was a very productive month for reading. It was a combination of kicking off the year with a new reading goal and being overly eager to smash it and having a list of really good books to read. 📚 From the moment the clock struck 12 am on January 1, 2020, I hit the books. Literally, I took a single sip of prosecco and moved on to reading! By the middle of the month, I had 4 books read and was on a roll!

Here are the books I read in January:
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7 Ways To Save Money On Kitchen Appliances

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Our house was built in 1996. Up until a few years ago, most of our appliances were the original ones that were in the house when it was built and when we moved into the home in 2006. Within the past few years, the appliances have slowly stopped working, primarily due to their advanced age. Kitchen appliances are essential to modern living. Over the years, we've gotten adept at buying new appliances. And because we've often had to do so often, we've gotten really good at finding the best sales and knowing where to splurge and where to save. Whether you’re outfitting your first home or shopping for replacements, here are a few ways in which you can save money on appliances.
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How to Know The Right Gift to Buy For Her

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No matter how well you know your significant other, buying gifts for her can be a little harder than you expect. This can happen for a couple of reasons. For one, you already believe that she has everything she needs, and two, it may be that you don’t want to buy her something solely for the sake of buying it.

Both of these pose a problem, though, and it creates quite a conundrum. If you don’t buy her something, you come across like you don’t care, but purchase something useless, and you risk the same thing. So, it’s essential to have a solid plan and even a backup plan, whether the gift is big, small, something meaningful, or something fun.
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5 Things To Consider When Looking For A Lawyer

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Lawyers aren't just for getting you out of trouble or a bind. You might consult one when you are buying a new piece of property. Or you might call a lawyer if you've been injured in an accident. If you're looking for a lawyer but you're unsure where to begin when it comes to finding the right person for the job, I'm sharing a few tips thanks to advice from a friend's husband (who is a lawyer).

Whether you're need a lawyer on a one-off basis or you need to hire someone long-term, be sure the person you find is suitable for the job at hand. While the search for an attorney may seem difficult and overwhelming at first, there are lots of questions you can ask yourself to ensure you're getting it right. From setting yourself a budget to working out what type of lawyer you need, the more you're thinking about it the better. With that in mind, here are 5 things to consider when looking for a lawyer:
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How To Broach Sensitive Topics With Children

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There comes a time in your life as a parent where you will have to broach sensitive topics with your children. Since my daughters are 14 and 17, I seem to be doing a lot of this lately since they are at the ages where they are hyperaware of what is going on around them and in the world. Whether it's the issue of loss or explaining the hardships of life that may have presented themselves too soon, or helping them overcome issues such as bullying at school, all this can take a toll on your child, and so providing a place of safety and comfort for them to learn about these issues and slowly digest them is necessary.

Additionally, sometimes it can be that the topic is extremely sensitive and requires careful thought and protection. For instance, the boy scout abuse lawsuits of recent times have made us all aware just how anyone can be a victim. This can be a tough job for any parent, but of course love, respect and the safety of our child makes this approach less of a difficulty for us and instead a must, and a task for which we must find the right approach. Since our daughters have been raised in the Catholic religion, they've had many questions about the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church that we've had to address both honestly and delicately.

We've gone about our discussions with the following things in mind:
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Ways To Spoil Yourself On A Budget

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There is no shame in spoiling yourself every once in a while. Especially when you have kids, you need to find time to focus on you. Forget about everything else and relax and unwind, even if it is only for a few hours. You deserve it. After all it is your life too and without a little ‘me time,’ who are you? Pampering and treating yourself doesn't need to cost a fortune. Here are some ideas when you are on a budget:

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How To Make Your Home More Appealing To Potential Buyers

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Selling your home can be nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time. There’s a lot to think about and do as you prepare to put your home on the market. The faster it sells, the quicker you can move on and into your new home.

If you want the process to be quick and painless, take time to make your property more appealing to potential buyers. Focus on updates and features that will draw potential buyers in and spark their interest in wanting to buy your home. Work with your realtor to take care of any finishing touches before it’s time to show it off.
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Weekend Dispatch


Is it just me or is this month flying by? I know it's a short one, but February seems to be whizzing by. Last week was a whirlwind. We celebrated Harper's 14th birthday, and while I was out running errands to pick up a few things for her birthday, I ran into my boss when I wrote for Meridian Momtourage. What a fantastic surprise it was! I hadn't seen her in forever. It was so serendipitous. We ran into each other at a Starbucks that neither of us ever goes to. We ended up chatting for two hours. It was so great to catch up with her and was a wonderful reminder to enjoy a spontaneous run-in rather than let it stress me out thinking about what I had planned to do in the time I was enjoying our chat. Anyway, I miss seeing her regularly, and since we live so close, we have committed ourselves to getting together regularly.

Other than that, here's what else I've been up to:

I've been listening to the podcast The Daily  from The New York Times practically since its inception two years ago. When I recently did a Google search to find out more about the team behind The Daily, I found that The New York Times has a spinoff TV show on hulu called The Weekly. In the same vein as The Daily, The Weekly is a narrative documentary series that examines a hot topic for 30 minutes each week. Topics range from Johnson & Johnson's baby powder and whether it contains asbestos to Rudy Giuliani's rise to popularity and fall from grace.


When you are in the mood for a short podcast (under 10 minutes) that seems like a quick chat with a friend on a pop culture topic, The Hottest Take podcast is your go-to. It's like an op-ed in podcast form. With topics such as children on airplanes to breakfast to the tradition of bridesmaids, The Hottest Take touches on movies, food, TV, the internet, and life in general. We all have opinions, and chances are one of the host shares yours. Listen here.


Do you journal? The topic of journaling came up in a private Facebook group that I belong to. I've always expressed myself more effectively using the written word than the spoken one, but those written words have always been for others. When you journal, those words are for you. Many people in the group use journaling as a means of self-care and as a release. Others use it as a way to preserve memories. Whatever your intention is, journaling can be very therapeutic. I've recently started journaling and bought this journal as a guide. It includes prompts for times when I want to journal but am at a loss for something to write about and included a guided format to keep you on track.


Each week I've been trying a new recipe. Some weeks it's been a dessert. Other weeks it's been a breakfast item. And others it's been a vegetarian recipe. This weekend I'm going to try this olive oil cake. I recently met a friend at her house for tea, and she served a variation of this cake (she made an orange olive oil cake), and it was delicious. Very light and airy and pairs exceptionally well with tea.

So, tell me. What do you have planned this weekend?
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5 Fab Finds Under $50

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Spring is coming. I promise! Be ready for it with a few items that are either on trend for spring or will help you make a seamless transition from winter to spring. This week I'm sharing 5 fab finds under $50 to help you prepare for spring's arrival.
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Best Online Reads


The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Six things about the bloody Mary that you should know via Liquor.com.

2. How to plan a trip around someone else's wedding via Condé Nast Traveler.

3. Forty facts about "The Bachelor" you may not have known via Marie Claire.
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5 Fab Finds Under $50

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This week's fab finds has a little bit of everything from workout to night out. That cute bag up there? Yeah, you're going to want to buy that before it sells out!
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