Friday, August 29, 2014

5 on Friday: {August 29, 2014}

Happy Friday Gals!  I cannot believe it’s the last (unofficial) weekend of the summer!  I’m having total mixed emotions about my farewell to summer.  On one hand, I looooove me some Fall and everything seasonal that goes with it (umm see #1 in case you need further convincing!) but I also feel like this has been the fastest summer to date and I’m not ready to part with the sand and sun!  But I guess that just means it was a great summer and hopefully a great fall to come!   I hope everyone has a fantastic last weekend of summer – to kick off the weekend here are my 5 obsessions this week!

1|  Seasonal Change Obsession: The Return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Thanks to social media, I discovered that Starbucks decided to give their beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte an early return this year.  So basically as soon as I saw that, I hauled over to my Starbucks and ordered me up one and let me tell you, it was every bit as delish as I remembered!  So as sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, just a couple sips of the autumnal goodness that is the PSL made me so excited for cooler temps, scarf season and of course lots and lots of spicy lattes to come!

2| Shopping Obsession: Labor Day Sales

Another perk of the upcoming season change – tons of Labor Day Sales!  I’m not heading down the shore until Sunday, which means I have every intention of curling up on Saturday morning and indulging in some serious retail therapy!  I’ve been tagging all of the sale emails I’ve been receiving all week so I know exactly who to hit up.

3| Subscription Box Obsession: Latest RTR Unlimited Order

A couple weeks back I provided a review on the newly launched Rent the Runway Unlimited and now that I’ve had the chance to get a couple different boxes worth of goodies, I am more obsessed than ever!  First off, their turnaround time has been amazing – the past two times I’ve put my return in the mail on Monday morning, and literally by Wednesday I’ve received my new shipment of goodies!  And I’m really loving that I can chose how many items to return and not have to return all at once.  It’s allowed me to really get the most use out of all the accessories I’ve received, without holding on to anything too long.  

4|  Outdoor Obsession: String Lights

Recently I’ve been totally obsessed with outdoor string lights and determined to incorporate them on my backyard patio.  After pinning way too many inspirational pics on Pinterest, I’ve realized that it’s time to stop dream and start doing!  I’m totally picturing some apple cider martinis under a bed of string lights once the days get shorter and there’s the perfect chill in the air. 

5| Email Obsession: The Skimm

Recently I discovered The Skimm, which is basically a daily cliff notes version of all the important news stories from the past day.  As someone who’s often tight on time, I absolutely love this and it’s the perfect way to keep me up to date on current events, while still getting to enjoy my guilty pleasures of Bravo tv when I get home at night.  Per their website, “theSkimm is the daily e-mail newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day. We do the reading for you - across subject lines and party lines - and break it down with fresh editorial content.”  I find it’s the perfect way to start my day once I get into the office and going through emails while my coffee still kicks in. 

What does everyone have planned for this last summery weekend!?  Are you excited for the seasons to change or are you longing to have more fun in the sun!?

Thanks to our gals AmandaJennieAmyKarli, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Diner en Blanc - NYC 2014

This past Monday, I attended the Diner en Blanc pop-up dinner in New York City. This annual, all-white dinner party is hosted at a secret location in many cities around the world, and the only way to attend is by being invited as a member's guest (which then puts you on the guest list for the following year). This was my first year participating and it was quite an adventure!

About a week before the event, I received an email with my group's meeting point. From there, we would travel to the secret event location together (this is done to maintain secrecy to prevent gatecrashers, and also to weed out any rule breakers who are not dressed in all white). I gathered my folding chairs, white seat covers, white linen napkins, electric candles, and white heels in my almost-white tote bag, and set out to meet the group at the New Amsterdam Pavilion in the Financial District.

The ladies of our Diner en Blanc group, ready to depart for the venue.
After receiving many stares and questions from passersby, our large sea of white was herded onto the subway with instructions to get off at a particular station. It was quite an interesting scene to see so much bright white on the dingy subway!

After exiting the subway, we started walking west and it became clear that our destination would be along the Hudson River. Sure enough, we wound up taking over Battery City Park! As soon as we arrived, all of the guests scurried to set up their white table arrangements.

Guests had the option of bringing their own food (some of the spreads were quite impressive), but my friend Lisa and I opted to pre-order one of the delish picnic baskets curated by Todd English:

Before diving into our meal, we had to take a quick pic (of course, I was worried all night that I would spill something and ruin my pristine white look, but luckily everything stayed clean!). 

As the sun started to set, we enjoyed some good food, wine, and music while gazing out at the city views surrounding us. 

As you can see, my iPhone isn't the greatest at taking night photos, so here are some prettier pictures to give you a better idea of the scope of the event:

Time Out New York (this one has some fantastic food photos too!)

The biggest hurdle we faced all night was a tricky wine cork...

But other than that, it was smooth sailing as we danced the night away (while holding our wine so that it wouldn't get taken off our table...priorities!).

 Want to attend Diner en Blanc in your own city? Here are a few tips:

* Buy a pair of white flats or flip flops and wear them for traveling. It got a little hot and sweaty navigating through the subway and streets of New York while holding two heavy folding chairs, so I was happy to be wearing some comfy shoes instead of the white pumps that I changed into at the venue. And speaking of heavy chairs...

* Invest in either a trolley or lightweight tableware. Some DEB veterans lugged their equipment on wheeled trolleys, while others purchased the recommended tables and chairs for lighter carrying options. This way, you'll avoid sore arms the next day!

* Wear a headpiece. Part of the fun of the event is seeing how creative everyone gets with their attire while sticking to an all-white palette. There were fascinators, oversized bows, feathers, crystals, and more - I will definitely be kicking my accessories up several notches next year!

* Don't be a jerk. This one should go without saying, but a few of the other guests had some major attitude going on! Each table is assigned to a specific row and position within that row, but some people decided to simply ignore that and just set up their tables wherever they pleased, which obviously threw off the meticulously planned seating chart. We're all here to experience a fun evening, so spend the extra 5 minutes ensuring that you're in the right spot before you start setting up your floral centerpiece and lobster entrees.

Thanks again to my friend Lisa for inviting me to join her at this special event! Have you ever attended a Diner en Blanc event in your city?


Monday, August 25, 2014

Craft It: Essential Crafting Tools

The countdown is on for Baby M’s big Monster Mash first birthday party, since it’s now less than a month away! And what would a party be without lots and lots of personal touches and crafts!? I’m currently trying to narrow down my craft choices from my ridiculously overflowing Pinterest board, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you some of my very favorite crafting tools that I’d be absolutely lost without! I seriously reach for these items more often than not, and since most were purchased back when I was planning my wedding nearly 7 years ago, I’d say they were well worth the investment! 

Ahh my trusty paper cutter! This is definitely my number one most used item in my entire craft arsenal. Maybe I’m just lazy, but if I even need to make the smallest straight line cut, I’m busting this baby out! In fact, I even use it to cut my coupons! But as far as craft tools go, this seriously is my number one gal. I bought her off of Amazon back in 2007, and it still cuts perfectly! From wedding invitations to yards and yards of bunting, I don’t think I could live without my paper cutter.

I’m a huge fun of paper punches, but without a doubt, my favorite is the 2’’ circle punch. I use it all the time to cut out perfectly trimmed printable tags and once you get the hang of it, you’ll never cut them by hand again! And one little trick of the trade, I turn mine over when punching, so I can line up my printable perfectly with the cutter, so there are no uneven cuts – works like a charm every time!

While a heat embosser may just seem like a glorified blow dryer, I’d say the convience of it makes it absolutely worth the purchase. And this is another one that I bought back in my wedding planning days that I now reach for over and over again. It feels like magic every single time I see the heat gun warm up the embossing powder and it puffs up! It’s definitely an easy way to add some serious pizzazz to your next craft project!

This next one may seem pretty unassuming, but I say, don’t sleep on the glue pen! For a very small investment, I’ve gotten a lot of use out of my glue pen, and it yields perfect results every time. I use it often in conjunction with my heat embosser for those times I want to free form emboss something! Also, it works perfectly with my next item…

5. Glitter! 

I mean come on, obviously glitter needs to round out my list! While not technically a tool, it’s pretty much an essential to nearly every single crafting project I do! I tend to favor the Martha Stewart multi packs, and while the vials seem pretty small, as long as you save the excess, you’ll find that there is more than enough glitter to go around! The MS glitter packs tend to be a bit overpriced in my opinion, so they are the perfect opportunity to use that 40% off coupon that Michaels is always sending your way!

So there you have it – my top 5 absolute favorite crafting tools. I could go on and on with my other favorites, but without a doubt these are my must haves. For all of you crafty gals out there – what are your favorite crafting tools!? Any must haves I’m forgetting about?


Happy to link up with Meg, LeeannKimberleeMolly, Carly!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Five on Friday {August 22, 2014}

TGIF! With only a few weeks left of summer, I've been trying to squeeze every last drop of sunshine-y goodness out of the season. Here are some fab things I was loving this week, along with a couple of things I'm looking forward to this weekend:

ONE | Happy anniversary, Brunch Club!

I've mentioned before that my friends and I started a Brunch Club where we check out new restaurants by meeting for a big group brunch once a month. Last Saturday, we celebrated the club's one year anniversary - that's a LOT of mimosas! The club has definitely grown over the past 12 months, with new friends and significant others joining along the way...can't wait to see what Year 2 has in store for us!

TWO | We're on a boat

Earlier this week, I had an "only in New York" moment when I took a happy hour cruise with a few friends to a barge clubhouse anchored out in the middle of New York Harbor. The clubhouse is the home of the Manhattan Sailing Club, so we got to watch boats zooming around us as the sun set over the Manhattan skyline. We packed a yummy picnic dinner (lots of cheese and crackers!) and enjoyed the scenery and conversation - it was a great way to break up the work week (and no one fell off into the water)!

THREE | #IHeartTheArts

The ALS ice bucket challenge has been getting tons of attention lately, but don't forget to support all of the other causes that may not be in the spotlight but are still close to your heart. For me, that cause is the arts, and I choose to volunteer for The Actors Fund. You can request a free #IHeartTheArts sticker here, and make sure you check out the hashtag to see other people sharing their stickers (and you'll definitely see some famous faces that you recognize - besides your favorite blogger, of course!).

FOUR | Diner en Blanc

I'm super excited to attend NYC's annual Diner en Blanc this week! This event started in Paris 25 years ago and has grown into a worldwide social phenomenon. Diners dress all in white (I just ordered my white shoes!) and bring along white tables and chairs for a mass "picnic" in a public place (the location is revealed mere moments before the event begins). You must know a member of the group in order to get on the guest list, and I was lucky enough to snag an invitation this year. I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I'm looking forward to checking it out (and hoping that I don't have any food or drink mishaps on my white dress!).

FIVE | Hamptons weekend
August 2013 fundraiser at Wolffer Estate Vineyard
I'm heading off to the Hamptons this weekend for some beach lounging, cocktails, girl time, and delish food! This has somehow become an (accidental) annual tradition, as I've spent a weekend in the Hamptons the past two summers for different fundraising events. I'm looking forward to this mini-break, as it's the last scheduled getaway that I currently have on my calendar this year (I need to book something else, pronto!).

How are you making the most of these last few weeks of summer?

Thanks to our gals AmandaJennieAmyKarli, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Pineapple Lime Summer Sangria

Is there anything more refreshing than a cool glass of sangria on a warm summer day? I love letting the flavors marinate together overnight - so delicious! I've played around with many different fruit and wine combinations, but I keep coming back to this version. In addition to being packed with flavor, it's also low in calories so you can feel free to pour yourself a second (and third) glass!

Pineapple Lime Summer Sangria
(adapted from Hungry Girl's Swingin' Sangria recipe in Hungry Girl Happy Hour)

Ingredients (for 1 large pitcher, or 10 servings)
* 1 teaspoon sugar-free lemonade powdered drink mix
* 8 oz. can of pineapple chunks packed in juice
* 1 nectarine, chopped
* 1 lime, sliced into rings
* 2 apples, chopped
* 1 750-milliliter bottle of pinot grigio
* 12 oz. diet lemon-lime soda

1) Add the powdered lemonade to 8 ounces of water, stir, and set aside the glass.

2) Prepare all fruit and place in a large pitcher. Add the lemonade drink and the bottle of pinot grigio. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight).

3) Immediately prior to serving, stir the soda into the pitcher.

4) Pour and enjoy!

What's your favorite way to make a summer sangria?

Linking up today with Meg, LeeannKimberleeMolly, CarlyEmilyKateJennifer JuniperEmilyKristenEmilyMandy, and Mandy.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Five on Friday {August 15, 2014}

TGIF Gals! Hope everyone had a great week and has lots of fun summery plans ahead for the weekend - here are the 5 things I've been obsessing over this week!

I'll take one each, thanks!
Pinot Grigio on demand?! Umm… yes please! I recently discovered Bota Box while perusing the wine selection at Wegmans, and while I certainly have had my share of boxed wine back in college, this certainly didn’t look like the white zinfandel I used to choke down back in the day. With some sort of fancy filtration system, it promises to keep the wine fresh for well beyond the shelf life of bottled wine. And with Pinot Grigio being such a staple in the M household, I figured for $18 (for the equivalent of 6 bottles of wine!), I couldn’t not try it out!  

2| August Birchbox

I’m not sure what got into Birchbox this month, but I’m loving their sassy and empowering shipping labels that they used – have you all noticed the same on yours this month?! Well apparently I’m Phenomenal and so was my box this month! Between 3(!) hair products, an eyeliner, hand cream, face wash and a bronzer, I’m super excited to dig into all these goodies and even more excited for the 70 rewards points I’ll earn upon providing my reviews!

And speaking of Birchbox, I had received this CC Cream sample a couple months back, but have just now really given it a chance, and I absolutely love it! I’m usually a BB gal, but I’m really loving the texture and natural coverage of this CC Cream and will definitely be purchasing once my (very generous) sample finally runs out. If you are in the market for a new bb/cc/tinted moisturizer, I highly recommend checking this out!

4| Chocolate Greek Yogurt – Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Edition
Ok, I know what you must be thinking.. what is this girl's deal with sugar free hot chocolate (and in the summer, no less!)?! I know, I know.. but just hear me out. For some inexplicable reason, there is an endless supply available to me at work, and since I can’t exactly be shaking up frozen hot chocolate martinis at my desk, I’ve been “experimenting” whenever that chocolate craving hits! And while I can’t promise this is the last you’ll hear about sfhc, I can promise you’re going to love this one! Just mix about ½ a packet into your greek yogurt, stir like crazy, clean up the powdery mess left on your desk, and then enjoy! It’s seriously way more delicious than it should be.. and really a guilt-free indulgence! It tastes just like chocolate cheese cake and if you add in a little fruit, it’s beyond amazing!

5| My Favorite Little Shark 

Not only is it Shark Week over on The Discovery Channel, but also in the M household! We all know that Baby M loves a good theme, so this past weekend he donned his most fierce shark gear and we hit up a splash park! Baby M could not get enough of running through all of the crazy sprinklers and while he may have not been the most ferocious shark, he was definitely the cutest!

What are all you Gals up to this weekend?!

- M

Cheers to AmandaJennieAmyKarli, and Lauren for hosting today's link-ups!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Top 10 Summer Beach Books of 2014

Remember when you were a kid and the library had a summer reading program, where you could win prizes based on how many books you read? I was always totally into crushing those contests, so it's no surprise that I'm still obsessed with libraries (it seems like magic when I can borrow books on my Kindle!) and with summer reading lists.

A great book is a staple of any beach vacation or pool day. In today's fast-paced world, finding time for the simple pleasure of losing yourself in an absorbing novel is not easy, so I always like to have a list of books ready to go for the rare occasions that I have some free reading time. Here are the books that top my 2014 summer reading list:

I've been an Emily Giffin fangirl ever since my college roommate was moving across the country and I inherited her copies of Something Borrowed and Something Blue, so naturally I've been chomping at the bit to see what Ms. Giffin has in store for us now. Smart, girly, and always relatable, her latest novel follows a woman in her early thirties who has to decide whether the hometown she's always loved is enough for her, or if there is a bigger passion for her to pursue elsewhere.

Lately it seems like I can't take a single subway ride without seeing a young woman absorbed in this book, and this week I joined their ranks by cracking open my copy. CEO and all-around badass Sophia Amoruso shares her unconventional path to the top with real world tips for women to succeed and thrive in their professions.

This was my airplane book during my recent trip to Vegas, and I could not put it down (after all, I love a good mystery). I don't want to spoil it by giving away too many plot details but there is a mysterious disappearance, a killing plot, cyber seduction, and's an intense ride!

Last summer, I read Brandi Glanville's first book and recommended it to our TSN readers, so it's only natural that her sequel would make this year's reading list. Brandi is irreverent, outrageous, and more than eager to spill the juicy details of her checkered dating past - it's like chatting with your best gal after a few too many glasses of wine! 

Jennifer Weiner is basically the unofficial Queen of Chick Lit for Smart Women, so of course her latest novel is a highly anticipated release. This one centers around a woman who appears to have it all, but slowly descends into addiction to keep up the facade of her perfect life.

I have to admit, I was originally drawn to this book because of its crafty-sounding title. As it turns out, this is less DIY and more memoir, as the author shares her story about what she learned as a nanny and how it impacts her life as a daughter and mother. I always have a soft spot for stories about caregivers and how the lessons they learn on the job influence their personal lives, so this one sounds right up my alley.

Rachel Bertsche is a total gal's gal, and I loved her MWF Seeking BFF because it focused on the importance of female friendship and her challenging quest to find a true BFF (and after reading about some of her struggles, it made me even happier to have M as my main gal!). I was pleasantly surprised to see that she has a new publication out this year that centers on celebrity girl crushes, and if emulating their lifestyles holds the key to happiness. This author is refreshingly honest, so I can't wait to see what kind of awkward scenarios she's gotten herself into this time on her journey to creating a glamorous celeb-esque lifestyle!

I loved Megan Abbott's creepy exploration of the cutthroat world of cheerleading in Dare Me, and it looks like her signature mysterious style is back once again with The Fever. This novel follows a seemingly normal community shaken by an unexplained illness that tears through the town, leaving plenty of questions in its wake.

Cindy Chupack made a name for herself as a writer on Sex and the City, so we've been longtime fans of her observations on dating. This book explores her marriage and all of the adjustments it takes to build a life together after being single for so long (she met her husband when she was 39). A friend of mine attended a reading of this book and gave me a personalized copy signed by Cindy as a gift, so I'm eager to dig into it!

What happens when an unknown actress is thrust into the spotlight after marrying an A-list celebrity, who has been haunted by gay rumors for years? Amy Sohn's latest novel is set in the glamorous world of Hollywood, where the personal lives of this "perfect" couple are not quite as rosy as they seem.

Which great books have you read this summer? Let me know what else I should add to my list!

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