Monday, June 29, 2015

Beach Day Essentials | Guest Post from Bright on a Budget

Since M is on vacay and B is settling into her new apartment, we've invited one of our favorite bloggers, Tif from Bright on a Budget, to guest post today about her Beach Day Essentials! Make sure you visit Tif's blog and say hi!

Thank, B and M, for asking me to guest post while you're away, and hello to all of the Sequin Notebook readers!

Beach/pool season has arrived!  If you (like me) seriously doubted this season would ever arrive after the bone-chilling temperature of this winter, it's okay. We're on the opposite end of the temperature scale now, which means optimal time for hitting the beach!  So I've compiled a few of my beach day essentials that can do double-duty off the beach as well. . .besides the towel, but I guess you can use it at home as well:)

Here are my picks for fun and fashionable beach day must-haves:

Beach Day Essenitals
Beach towel // Straw tote // Sunscreen // Sunglasses // Bikini pouch
Floppy hat // Beach tunic coverup // Bow flip flops

The 1st item on my beach essentials list is sunscreen.  While I've linked to my favorite one above, I know everyone has different thoughts on what brand is best.  Regardless of which brand you use, just make sure you slather some on before getting in the sun:)  Sunglasses are also close to the top of the list, because without shades, it's going to be a loooonggg day out in the sun.  Mirrored sunglasses are everywhere right now, and I love the affordable option from Target shown above for less than $20!

Next up on the list are a beach towel, beach bag, and wallet/wristlet/pouch.  For a beach towel, I prefer a larger-sized beach towel like the above XL option from Target.  That way it covers my lounge chair or let's me stretch out in the sand without becoming a hot mess.  As for a beach bag, I like something big enough to fit all my items and that sand wipes off of easily.  This bag not only fits that bill, but it's on trend with the attached tassels.  Can I just go ahead and get everything with tassels, please?  And let's not forget something in which to stash your credit cards, phone, and other small items (like contact re-wetting drops and a lip balm with SPF).  I've had my eye on this Kate Spade "Beware of Sharks" number since the beginning of summer, and it just hit the sale section of the website!  Technically, it's a bikini pouch, but it's the perfect size to be a clutch and toss in your tote--versatility in action! Plus, if you shop using promo code SETSALE through July 7th, you'll receive an additional 25% off.

To wrap up my essentials, I've shared my picks for a beach hat, coverup, and flip flops.  Floppy beach hats have taken over Instagram, and this black-and-white will stand out in a crowd.  I adore the gauzy coverups from J. Crew, and the one above is in their sale section!  My advice is to grab it before it sells out.  It comes in three colors, but the white is my favorite.  Finally, my all-time favorite flip flops are from Roxy, as they tend to be very comfortable.  The cute bows on these add the perfect touch!

Whether you're at the beach or hanging by the pool, I hope these Beach Day Essentials add some flare to your wardrobe!  Will you be rocking any of these on your vacation?

Tif  is an attorney, mom, and dedicated bargain hunter blogging about style, beauty, and life at Bright on a Budget.  She is also one of the co-hosts of the High Five for Friday weekly linkup.  You can follow her on Instagram, Bloglovin', or GFC.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Five on Friday {June 26, 2015}: Moving Edition

My moving day is officially here, and it's definitely bittersweet. I have absolutely loved living in my little Upper West Side apartment; it was the perfect place to call home when I first moved to Manhattan, and it has brought me many happy memories over the past four years. Everyone says that it takes a couple of tries to find a great NYC apartment since real estate is so brutal here, so I've always felt fortunate that I hit it out of the park on my first try! As much as I'll miss this place, I am ready to move on and thrilled to build a new home together with T. I hope you'll indulge me as I pay homage to the 5 Manhattan things I'm loving, and will be missing! 

The Patio

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would find a Manhattan studio with outdoor space. Amazingly, my apartment came with a private patio that is large enough to fit a table of 10, along with a grill! This patio has hosted many theme parties and gatherings of friends, and holds some of my happiest memories of the past four years.

Location, Location, Location

This is probably the thing I will miss most about moving to just can't beat the convenient location of the Upper West Side! I am within a two-minute walk of two different subway lines, Central Park is steps away from my corner, there is a Drybar literally around the corner from me, and my couch-to-desk total commute time tops out at 25 minutes. I adore being smack dab in the middle of all of the Manhattan action, so it will probably be a bit of an adjustment to have a slightly longer commute.

Secret Single Behavior

M and I once shared our Secret Single Behavior (or as we call it, SSB) which we first discovered via (what else?) Sex and the City. You can read all about it here, but basically SSB is about the secret things you do when no one else is around. Since T and I have basically been unofficially living together the past few months, I think he's pretty much seen it all, though I should probably still try to limit my pretzel dinners!

My brownstone

My UWS street is simply beautiful (there, I said it) and I will miss the charms of my building very, very much.

Delivery zones

You really can get pretty much anything delivered at any time in Manhattan. I'm sure that will mostly be true for Astoria too, but the central location of the UWS means that I always have tons of options for late night snacking! Besides, I can always have my cravings delivered to my office and take them home with me :)

It's been a wonderful four years, but I'll happily trade in my short commute and midnight cupcake deliveries because nothing could be better than this new step I'm taking. I still remember chatting with Kristen, Pam, and Kari over drinks when I told them I was hanging out with T later that night, who I had recently started dating at the time...and now, here we are!

Farewell, Manhattan - I will be sure to be a frequent visitor.

And...hello, Astoria! I look forward to bringing you tales of my new neighborhood, along with some moving tips and home d├ęcor posts! Have a beautiful weekend (I hope you won't be stuck sweating under moving boxes, like me!).

Cheers to April, AmandaJennieKarliClare, Rebecca, Katie, Heather, Farrah, Leanne, and Tif for hosting today's link-ups!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Firecracker Martini | Guest Post from A Little Glitter

Hey Guys!  My name is Pamela and I run the website A Little Glitter.  I write about all kinds of things including cooking, shopping, fashion/beauty, books, parenting and local NYC events.  I like to keep things fun and upbeat, I love to make new friends and I hope that you will come by and visit my little slice of the internet sometime!  
A Little Glitter
Today, B & M have invited me to guest post for them and since the 4th of July is NEXT WEEK (how the heck did that happen), I figured I would share a fun drink recipe that would be perfect for it!  Today I am going to teach you how I make Firecrackers Martinis!
Firecracker Martini Recipe

I found the inspiration for the Firecracker Martini when I was perusing the shelves in Party City and came across their royal blue rock candy.  (Does anyone else find themselves roaming the aisles there frequently or am I the only one?)   I thought it would be such a cute decoration for a drink.  This one is super easy to make and very yummy.
Cast of Characters Firecracker MartiniTo create this beverage, I poured one cup of Pinnacle's Tropical Punch Vodka (this is also delicious enough to use for shots), half a cup of cranberry juice and a splash of ginger ale over ice and gave it a few decent shakes.  Then I strained it into a martini glass and garnished with a piece of rock candy.  See!  I told you it was this was a simple recipe!
Firecracker Martini Recipe

Also, when drinking the Firecracker Martini, you can put the candy into it your glass like a stirrer and it starts to evaporate and create pretty swirls of blue.  
Firecracker Martini Rock Candy

I hope you guys enjoyed my post and I would to see you over at A Little Glitter soon – thanks again to B & M for having me today!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Opening Lines: Real Housewives of Orange County {Season 10}

 The original gals of Bravo are back.. ok let me rephrase that.. the original housewives franchise is back! While most of the gals are actually not part of the original cast besides the OG of the OC, Vicki, the OC housewives are back for the tenth season!! How crazy is that?! I was all about the OC when it first premiered, though had lost interest over the years. I've recently started watching again and realized it's time to finally give this pioneer franchise some due and do a taglines round-up.. especially now that they've reached such an amazing milestone - 10 seasons deep and still going strong! So let's crack open some champs and dig into this seasons signature lines!


 "No one's life is perfect ... but mine is pretty close."
- Heather
Ugh such a classic Heather line! I go back and forth on Heather but it's stuff like this that can make her pretty insufferable at times. She often gets annoyed when she's perceived as pretentious and uptight, but she certainly isn't helping shake that rap with a line like this! Sorry Heather, but not a fan!!

"When life gives you lemons, put nine in a bowl!" - Shannon
Even though Shannon's still a newbie, she quickly has become one of my favorites! And this line is perfectly as quirky as Shannon, so I'm giving this one the thumbs up. I think she's in for a pretty tough season with all of the marital problems she's going through (and choosing to film!) so I like that this line gives reference to that, yet still keeps it a little light by also giving a nod to her kooky, holistic ways.

"Boldness comes at a cost, and I'm willing to pay."
- Tamra
Tamra is another one that I go back and forth with, but the girl knows how to play the reality tv game. She definitely is no wallflower, so I can appreciate her calling out her boldness (though I believe this isn't the first tagline of hers to make reference to it). The only thing that puzzles me a bit with this one is that after having come off of a really rough last season (especially the reunion!), her storyline seems all about mending fences and rebuilding her relationships with the other housewives, so I'm not really sure how bold that is, but I guess we'll see as the season goes on.

"I'm the OG of the OC ... everyone else is just a copy." - Vicki
So, I feel like I have to give it to Vicki on this one - I kind of love it! I know Vicki isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the fact that she really is the last gal standing of the original OC housewives is pretty impressive, especially after 10 seasons! She really is the OG of the OC, so why not give some credit to that with your tagline?!

 "Now that I'm in the OC, it's a whole new ballgame." - Meghan
So this tagline is totally cheesy, but I actually don't hate it! The jury is still out on how I feel about this newbie housewife (though I'm pretty sure her husband is just straight up terrible!), but I don't mind this line and think it's slightly clever, even. So it seems Meghan is off to a decent start and from the looks of the previews, she doesn't seem to shy away from the drama, so I'm excited to see how she mixes with the rest of the crew!

And there you have it - another round of taglines in the books. I think if I had to go with a favorite, I'd give it to the OG, Vicki, though my gal Shannon is a close second! Any other OC fans out there? Which tagline is your favorite this season?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Skinny Creamsicle Cocktail

We're giving your favorite childhood ice cream treat a grown-up twist with today's Skinny Creamsicle Cocktail!

Like many of our favorite mixology experiments, this creation came about through pure luck. I was at home, craving a "fancy" drink, but didn't want to run out to the store to buy any specialty liqueurs (because, let's face it, my liquor cabinet is already a it is!). Plus, with my big move coming up, the responsible thing to do is to lighten my moving boxes by polishing off some of those heavy liquor bottles, of course :)

After scouring the shelf, I settled on my trusty bottle of cake vodka and was about to enjoy it by itself on the rocks, when T reached into the fridge and pulled out the game-changer...a bottle of orange seltzer! And thus, a beautiful (and skinny!) spin on a nostalgic treat was born.

Skinny Creamsicle Cocktail

Ingredients (for a 6 oz. cocktail)
* 4 oz. cake vodka
* 2 oz. orange seltzer
* Orange slice and wedge

* Shake cake vodka and orange seltzer over ice. Pour in a martini glass (and for an extra frosty touch, freeze the martini glass prior to serving).

* Garnish with an orange wedge and float an orange slice on top of the cocktail.

Mmm...sweet enough to satisfy a dessert craving, yet citrus-y enough for brunch! Which desserts would you like to see receive the cocktail treatment?

Linking up today with EmilyJennifer JuniperKaryn, KristenEmilyMandyMaryJessicaMandySusanLisa, Pam, Kristin, and Natasha!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday: {June 19, 2015}

Happy Friday Gals! For once, this week actually flew by for me but I'm certainly ready to start the weekend! As always, we're kicking things off with our five favorites of the week:
Father's Day BBQ
This Sunday is Father's Day and I'm so excited to honor all of the special dads in my life by hosting a BBQ at my house! The weather is threatening rain, so can everyone please say a prayer and think dry thoughts for NJ, since rain just won't do!! I'm trying to keep the BBQ fairly low key, but of course, just can't resist some personal touches, like a fun Happy Father's Day banner, and of course a signature cocktail - I'm thinking a grown up Arnold Palmer.. what does everyone think? Yay or nay?

The Patio Light are Finally Done!!

 And speaking of my backyard, you may have seen on Instagram, but I finalllly finished installing the DIY patio lights last weekend, just in time for the BBQ! It of course took way longer than expected, but I couldn't be happier with the results! We followed the tutorial outlined here, and it was honestly pretty easy (just a little time consuming). And I'm happy to report that we've already encountered a couple of heavy wind and rain storms this week, and not a single light has budged!

Road Trip to Hot Dog Johnny's
This past Saturday we took a mini-road trip to Hot Dog Johnny's. For those of you not familiar with Hot Dog Johnny's (which I'm guessing is most of you!), it's this little road side hot dog stand that has been around since pretty much the beginning of time, and has the best hot dogs ever. It also happens to be along the route GG and I used to take to get back and forth to the college we went to, University of Scranton, so when we first started dating, he took me there the very first time we drove home together... and then every single trip back and forth we took after that. So this place holds a special place in our hearts, plus.. delicious hot dogs! So we were super excited to start the tradition with Little M, and finally introduce him to one our favorite little hot spots.

Favorite New Snacks
I recently tried out the subscription snack box, Nature Box, which is a monthly subscription service that delivers healthy snacks right to your door. Even though Little M isn't even two yet, he's already pretty adept at raiding the cabinets for snacks, so I'm always on the lookout for healthier snacks. So far, I've loved everything I've tried, and definitely think this box is a keeper. My favorites have been their Sriracha Pop Pops (basically like healthy-ish flaming hot cheetos!) and their Dark Cocoa Nom Noms (I know.. the snack names could use some work!!).

New Watch Obsession

GG really outdid himself for our anniversary and on top of a fabulous night out, he gifted me with this adorable Kate Spade watch that I had been lusting over. I mean, how perfect is that martini glass?! I can't get enough and clearly the guy knows me pretty well after all of these years together!

What is everyone else up to this week? Anyone else hosting Father's Day?

Cheers to April, AmandaJennieKarliClare, Rebecca, Katie, Heather, Farrah, Leanne, and Tif for hosting today's link-ups!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Spring Bucket List Update

Back in the beginning of spring, we guest posted over on Pam's blog about the items on our spring bucket list. Now that the official start of summer is just days away, we thought we should check in on our progress!

Seasonal Cooking
 The change of seasons is always the perfect excuse to try out some new recipes and take advantage of all of the delicious fruits and vegetables that are now in season. My go-to is always some fresh avocados for homemade guacamole, but after consulting this list, I'm planning to embrace some of the other flavors, such as mangoes, artichokes, and spinach!

Update: The past couple months have been chock full of delicious, seasonal recipes, so I’ll count this as a HUGE success! In case you missed some of our most recent recipe posts, here are a couple that highlighted some delicious seasonal flavors: Spinach Salad, Lemon Orzo Salad, Watermelon Margaritas, and of course, our most recent Guacamole recipe!

Discover local outdoor events
 Once the temperatures start to warm up, I'm so ready to cure my wintry cabin fever with lots of outdoor time, so what better way than to discover some local events in your community. I love to check out the community calendars of my surrounding towns and bookmark some fun seasonal events. Already on my to-do list is a local carnival, an international food festival, and a wine walk.

Update: Here’s another one I can squarely check off of my list! Pretty much every weekend has been filled with some sort of outdoor event, and some favorites have been an international food festival, seaside strolls on the boardwalk and a family relay race at the shore.

Plan an herb garden
 On top of seasonal eating, I'm also looking forward to growing my own herb garden. I find that in order to get fresh herbs from the grocery store, you must buy a huge bushel, only to throw most of them out. So instead of wasting all of those delicious herbs, why not grow them in your own backyard and enjoy all Spring (and Summer!) long?

Update: If you follow us on Instagram, you probably already know this is a success, since I can’t stop posting pictures of my beautiful herbs! This has definitely been one of the most rewarding items on my list, and I can’t get over how I was able to grow these babies from a packet of seeds! It’s been so much fun to cultivate my little herb garden and even more fun to reap the benefit by enjoying fresh herbs in my cooking!

Bike rides


 Springtime is the perfect way to incorporate some outdoor activities into your fitness routine, and one of my favorites is going for a bike ride. Back when I was living in NYC, I'd love riding over to a different neighborhood to find a new dinner locale, and now that I'm in Jersey, I'm planning to do some leisurely bike rides down the shore on the boardwalk. But no matter where you live, it's always fun to ride around and explore the area, all the while, you're sneaking in some cardio while hardly even noticing!

Update: Sadly, I’ve missed the mark on this one, though hoping to still check this off during the summer! The spring just seemed to fly by, and while the M family definitely did tons of walking this season, we still need to dust off our bikes from the garage. We’re also planning to get a toddler seat for Little M, so he can enjoy riding along with us this summer!

Freshening up your beauty routine
 Any other fellow makeup junkies out there?! I love to add in some new colors to my Spring beauty routine, and this season I have my eye on peachy blushes and bright lips! I'm most excited to check out the new collaboration coming out from Nars and Christopher Kane and definitely anticipate adding one or two of those glosses to my makeup bag soon!

Update: Another success! You can see some of my favorite seasonal items here.

Patio grilling

While my apartment may be small, its most fabulous feature is the private patio that is big enough to hold a table for 8 and a grill, which is essential for all of my warm weather entertaining needs. I have been eagerly awaiting the first cook-out of the season, and I'm crossing my fingers that the temperatures will rise enough to hold it this week. Whether it's dinner for two or an impromptu mini party, al fresco dining is a must-do spring activity!

Update: I'm happy to report that I've already held several patio parties, mainly due to the fact that I'll be moving in less than two weeks! It's hard to give up this gorgeous patio but my new place also has private, outdoor space (such a luxury in this city!) so the patio parties will continue throughout the summer.

Spring cleaning
At first glance, it may not seem like the most fun activity on this list, but there's something really uplifting about spring cleaning - after all, it gives a literal "fresh start" to the season. The biggest item to tackle on my spring cleaning list is shedding some excess items from my closets - I tend to be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes, shoes, and accessories, but I'm determined to be ruthless this year. Any tips?

Update: While this area is a continuous work in progress, I did make a lot of headway in clearing out room in my closets (and again, I didn't know I would be moving when I originally wrote this post, so the spring cleaning wound up being even more useful than I had anticipated!).

Picnic in the park
 I can't wait for a lazy Sunday afternoon to pack up a picnic basket and blanket, and head down the street to Central Park. It's a cheap, easy daytime date - just pack some cold beers and yummy sandwiches and you're good to go!

Update: My friends and I had a big Memorial Day picnic in Central Park - next up will be Astoria Park this summer!

Theme parties for spring events

We love any excuse to throw a theme party, and luckily spring provides us with some built-in occasions for some stylish festivities! Hold a guacamole competition at your Cinco de Mayo fiesta, don your best hat and pearls at a Kentucky Derby party (don't forget the mint juleps), or host a good, old-fashioned American barbecue in honor of Memorial matter what your party style, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate this spring!

Update: Cinco de Mayo, Kentucky Derby, and Memorial Day...check, check, check! All of these holidays were celebrated in true theme party style!

Second Quarter (Q2) blog planning day

This one is for all of the other bloggers out there. Every quarter, M and I get together for a full day work session where we collaborate on big blog projects and make sure that our post calendar, finances, social media channels, email correspondence, and sponsorships are all up to date and ready for the next few months. We take it so seriously that we stick to the office hours of a regular work day! Even if you don't have a co-blogger, we highly recommend building a full blog day into your planner this spring - it's a great way to tackle some of those seemingly overwhelming tasks that require extra time and special attention.

Update: Sadly, this one has been pushed to the summer...we had a date set on the calendar but had to bump it, so we'll just have to have two blogging dates during Q3!

What was on your spring bucket list? Did you get to cross most of the items off?

This post originally appeared on A Little Glitter.
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