Decking the Halls: Affordable Holiday Home Decor

November 23, 2020

Photo by Element5 Digital 

Every time I sit outside on my balcony, glancing at the whimsical, colorful fall leaves, a part of me wants to hold onto fall for the rest of the year. Between the Pumpkin Cold Brew at Starbucks, warm cozy knits, and walks around my brownstone-lined neighborhood in this randomly-warm, then chilly weather in November (yeah, no one can tell me that global warming isn't real because NYC is usually cold af by now), there are still so many daily seasonal rituals that I want to focus on before the end of fall. But as soon as November 27th comes around (aka Black Friday) I will be in full-on holiday mode! 

I'm planning to have all of my holiday decor up a little bit earlier than usual so I can enjoy it for as long as possible before I head home for the holidays. I am notorious for waiting too long to turn my apartment into a holiday haven and not having enough time to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Well, you better believe that is changing this year. So I've already put together my home decor checklist and started the recording process. Because the earlier I plan, the better the deals I can score. I will have holiday music blasting, chicken biscuits to snack on, and sip on a new, festive holiday drink (probably a fancy hot chocolate) each weekend to celebrate the season. Ah, I'm so excited! My guess is, we will be spending more time at home this year, so we might as well turn our places into festive oases. 

Here are a few things that are still on my holiday decor wish list. My roommate and I ventured off to Dollar Tree this past weekend and found a lot of cute stuff! But there are still a few decor holes I want to fix... frugally of course. And we all know that Black Friday is prime for finding cute decor at insane discounts. 

Cheers to a magical holiday season. Do you have any holiday traditions that you're looking forward to this year? Please feel free to share in the comments below! I think we all need as many ideas as possible this year. It's been a doozy, so making this holiday season as magical as possible is basically a necessity. 

GNI: Weekend Escape + A few things on my radar

November 6, 2020

Photo by Svitlana 

 Wow... like wowwwwww! It's insane how many historical events our generation has experienced in such a short amount of time. And, yeah, our anxiety is collectively at an all-time high, so it's crucial that we all take time this weekend and chillllll. For our physical and mental health. Plus, I'm hoping we will have a lot of reasons to celebrate this weekend (Team Biden & Harris all the freaking way). But since we are still in this state of limbo, I put together a mini weekend plan for myself, and figured, why not share? I hope my weekend unwind game plan encourages you to make one of your own too. Whether you're trying to be extra frugal this weekend or you're willing to spend a healthy amount on your self-care plan, I'm sending all the positive vibes and love your way this weekend. 

Let's Virtually Escape (well, for a moment at least)

One.) I come across a healthy amount of incredible resources each day because of my scope of work, but I rarely have time (or the energy to be totally honest) to read them during the workweek. So I typically save them all in an email or google doc and bookmark them, then I can enjoy on quiet Friday nights in or calm weekend mornings. Trust me, this ritual of catching up on articles/things that are swirling around in my mind while enjoying a warm cup of tea, coffee, mimosas or wine (depending on the time of day) is so freaking restorative for my mental health. I'm always in this internal battle to slow down while also wanting to get more done, so taking at least 30 minutes to an hour each weekend to explore random stuff that piques my interest is such a game-changer for my well-being. 

Here are a few things that have been on my radar lately

  • How amazing is this cute Christmas gift! It would be the perfect goody/place setting gift for a safe Thanksgiving dinner gathering. I got the idea from The Fashion Magie + love that this ATL company employs Haitian women and pays them a higher wage!! YAAASS let's do more good 
  • I've been wanting to try The Pilates Class for a while - but it's been insanely hard to get myself to consistently workout - then I did a virtual class on Thursday before my workday, and hello motivation!! I feel so much more motivated to get work done now and to show up for myself - I tell myself only 15 mins a day so I don’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Doing this 30-day social media gratitude challenge is puts a smile on my face. I'm not actually following the prompt, but it's helpful when I'm stuck in a rut
  • I want to focus on romanticizing life like Krista talks about in this post!
  • This article about pivoting and this article about having an identity crisis in 2020 are basically like comfort food - such good reminders of why staying flexible and why not knowing what the fuck we are doing all the time is totally fine.
  • Oop - are we all making this mistake that hurts our blatter? I know, not a sexy topic but our pelvic floor is hella important to take care of
  • I have been feeling soooo burned out in so many areas of my life, so I need all the advice about burnout I can freaking get lol

Two.) I have a virtual therapy session scheduled for this Saturday morning!! Ah, I'm so proud of myself. I have been wanting to go back to therapy for a few months, but I also wanted to save money, so I told myself I could hold off on the therapy for a while. Fast-forward to election week, and I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. I became a literal hot ass mess - like I'm talking multiple panic attacks, overdrinking like crazy, no sleep, and spending waaayyy too much money - aka touching my savings (anxiety spending is REAL). So, I threw myself back into cognitive behavioral therapy. When I get me shit together, it's over for all you bitches - lmao.  

Three.) I'm dedicating time to writing and working on my digital platform. I've been somewhat upset with myself because I have rarely had the energy to dedicate to building the brand I want to build. I'm trying to be gentle with myself because, well, fucking pandemic and election year - enough said, right. But sitting down tonight to write this post has already made me feel so energized and fulfilled. I know this probably sounds nerdy to some people, but writing is insanely therapeutic for me. 

Four.) Having a chicken nugget and wine night at my place with 3 of my closest friends. Having a night in with the 3 people I've been in a bubble with this year (I was quarantined in a condo with 2 of these three people for 3 months so they have become my extended family). There's something so satisfying about just chilling on the couch, saving money, and watching trash tv with your closest friends. And we feel a little bit more socially responsible because we are staying in our little bubble instead of going out into the city and being around strangers - even if those strangers are 6 ft apart. 

And Five.) Planning for the holiday season early!! This year has been shit. I need all the cheer and romanticism I can get. Therefore, holiday movies, holiday music, and holiday treats start TODAY! I'm embracing Thanksgiving and Christmas on a whole new level this year. I will find little moments of joy each freaking day. And most importantly, I really want to amp up my charitable initiatives this season. So many people are hurting, and most of those people tend to be single moms of color. I've always had a soft spot for single moms because I think they are the strongest people on the planet. But thinking about women navigating finances and raising a child in a pandemic and recession seriously breaks my heart. So I'll be sharing jolly ways to spread joy over the next few weeks. Putting a smile on someone else's face is the best escape there is. 

What's on your weekend bucket list? II'd love to hear below. Wishing you a relaxing and fulfilling weekend. 

Fall Muses: All the things Inspiring Me at the Moment + My Shopping List

October 3, 2020

Lately, I've just been in the mood to feel inspired, I completely give credit to the changing seasons for my newfound excitement for life. There is just something so charming and alluring about the crisp weather and changing, colorful leaves. Invigorating is the word that comes to mind. Uh, I just love autumn. I am ready to curl up in cozy loungewear and watch Harry Potter while drinking mulled wine on the couch (or fancy tea if alcohol isn't the vibe). Doesn't that sound like a dream? I am ready to have a magical fall! And you know what they say.. a photo is worth a thousand words. These pictures emulate so many things about fall that are warming my soul. I hope they inspire you to live a full and exciting autumn. 

Even though we are still in the midst of a pandemic, there are still a billion ways for us to safely (and frugally) have fun. I plan to use this seasonal mood board as my guide and inspiration for fall. If you end up creating one for yourself, I hope you tag me so we can share what's inspiring us this season. I guess I'm kind of a dreamer.. but this is where dreams meet action plans. As long as we give ourselves a break and do one small thing each day to fuel our soul, we'll slowly but surely start to realize how incredible even the smallest joys in life can be when it comes to helping us live a fulfilling life. 

Retail Therapy Break

Of course one of my favorite parts about fall is the FASHIONNNN! Here are a few items I've been eyeing and recently purchased myself. Slowly I'll add them to my wardrobe because homegirl needs to fix her finances.. but I can responsibly treat myself along the way, and so can you because this pandemic life is not for the faint of heart. 

What about fall is making you feel all warm and fuzzy? Let me know in the comments below! I'd love to add more fun fall things to my list. Thanks for taking a moment out of your day to read this post. Your support means so much to me. Sending you love and happiness. 

Life Lately: Evening Checkin + Mini Fall Wish List

August 30, 2020

Photo by Libby Penner 

Well, my favorite season is right around the corner. Fall brings a sense of new beginnings. New possibilities, new opportunities for happiness. To be honest, it feels like I've been pursuing happiness for the past five years and have encountered a whole lot of painful lessons on my journey to learning how to embrace the here and now or as I like to call it the "it is what it is" lol. 

With each year I'm blessed with on this earth, the more I start to realize that dedicating most of my time to my career is not what will help me feel fulfilled. Yes, money is significant (we gotta pay rent and feed ourselves), but working all the time is the exact opposite of what I define as success... no matter what the paychecks look like. I used to idolize all the women who are busy busy busy, but covid-19 has really helped me value the sweetness of slowing down and shown me how valuable free-time is. 

The things that bring me joy are spending time with my loved ones, laughing until I cry with a friend over a bottle of wine, dancing to intoxicating music, writing, getting dressed up to feel giddy, traveling, having a warm cup of tea while I read a juicy book, traveling with people who have a special place in my heart, cuddling up with a puppy... now those are moments that genuinely bring me joy (but they also require money lol). And we are all in an intense season where financial survival or emotional survival kind of outranks our pursuit of happiness. Something I just have to accept. 

I also realize that a HUGE part of my mental struggle (ok depression, like let me stop beating around the fucking bush) stems from the fact that I work in social media/PR and literally cannot take a break from social media. 7 days a week I am looking at the lives, brands and businesses of other people and constantly comparing myself, constantly feeling inadequate, and constantly telling myself that I'm not living up to my fullest potential... yeah. It's a hard pill to swallow. But like I said, this is a temporary stage in my life, and in 5 years, when I am living life more on my own terms, I'll look back and thank myself for making this sacrifice now instead of later. 

Luckily, these types of seasons are temporary and we will certainly come out stronger once these seasons of hustle and grind are over. But until then, I'm going to find little ways to add joy into my life. So if that means I turn my phone on airplane mode and watch buffy for an entire evening or treat myself to a cute new fall trench coat (only while it's on sale and I can pay cash for it - no credit cards) then that might very well be what I need to encourage myself to push through this interesting chapter of life. Being too disciplined tends to drive me straight into depression and depression tends to leave me in a dark place where I feel like everything is pointless... I don't like living in that mental space. That's why I have to schedule in things that bring me joy each week. As long as I have one thing to look forward to, I have a little motivation to get out of bed each day. I know, this piece is not the biggest mood booster, but it's honest. It's what I've been battling, and it's what I'm working on overcoming. 😊

So here's a shortlist of things I'm looking forward to this fall. I hope it inspires you to create your own list so you have a few things to look forward to as well. If we keep looking for the light, we are sure to find it sooner rather than later. 

  • Read poetry at least once a week while drinking tea - I need this to process my emotions because i have not been in a good place lately. I know a lot of people would probably tell me to be grateful, and gratitude is something I will always prioritize, but when you know something is wrong, you know something is wrong. But I have my eyes on the prize and can see the finish line. This season of loneliness and depression will end soon, and I will have grown from the pain
  • Treat myself to a few fall staple pieces. I LOVE fall, and I LOVE fall fashion. Plaid trench coats, chocolatey toned cashmere, comfy yet chic booties, soft scarves. Ah!! I can barely control my excitement. P.S. Everything at Talbots is 25% off right now plus an extra $50 off if you spend $200+ aka, I'mma get that trench coat!! Yassss!!!

  • Go on really long podcast walks on the weekend. I wish I still had time to do this on the weekday (I mean I could if I woke up an hour earlier, but we all know that ain't happening lol). I just have to make "me time" a priority. I always feel a billion times better when I actually take time out for myself instead of letting work dictate my day or spend time stressing out about work. I'm over it. Because at the end of the day, if we died tomorrow, our jobs would replace us in a heartbeat and not even blink to mourn us... so we might as well prioritize our wellbeing so we have the mental capacity to even show up in the world. 
  • Write in the park. Writing is sooooo therapeutic for me, and being surrounded by nature is also therapeutic. Therefore, I should combine these two things. The crisp fall air creates the perfect atmosphere to write outside - not too hot and not too cold. 
  • Cook more at home! Food is fun, but saving money is even more fun. I want to dive into a few fall cookbooks - or get ideas off the internet because free lol. 
  • Decorating for fall and creating a cozy home!! I mean, who doesn't love a fall home. 
  • Putting together my fall festivities bucket list. I really don't have the energy to plan my fall adventures at the moment, but I am excited to plan them soon. It's crazy how taking a day trip to visit a pumpkin patch or see fall foliage really just makes you appreciate the beauty in life. I'm excited to see the beauty of this crazy world soon. 

Thanks for taking a moment to read this post! I hope your week is filled with laughter, joy and hope.

Weekend Reset: Finding My Way Back Through Wanderlust

August 8, 2020 New York, NY, USA

Photo by Adele Payman 

I know I am not alone when I say it has been really hard to find happiness lately. Now that my life has gotten very busy, I hate to admit that I am finding it very hard to locate the energy to do the things that I know will bring me joy and restore me. I'm also finding it hard to follow through on some of my responsibilities, and for me, that's a sign that my mental health is not being prioritized (oops - time to fix that). 

We are also only a week away from when I should have been flying to Greece to spend an incredible week with some of my favorite people. Granted, the heath of myself, my loved ones and my community is my main concern at the moment, but that doesn't make the loss of such an iconic experience any easier. There's a lot going on in the world and a lot going on in our lives, so giving ourselves grace is much needed right now. 

That being said, I am allowing myself to check out and mentally escape this weekend. Although I pretty much have to work 7 days a week right now, I really REALLY need to prioritize my wellbeing. Paying off my student loans and consumer debt won't matter if I'm in the hospital due to my mental and physical health crumbling. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful to have multiple sources of income again, but it's my job to learn how to navigate this new lifestyle in a healthy way that works for me.  And let me tell yall, it's a STRUGGLE right now, but I'm 1000% confident that I will figure it out... thanks to the amazing resources that can be found on the internet.  

So now, how do I plan to feel like myself in a short amount of time... without spending any money? 

Visual/art therapy my friends! Getting lost in a beautiful magazine and looking at dreamy photos on Pinterest usually fills my soul with hope and inspiration, and I'm sure you are the same way. Right now, I need an exciting vision to hold onto. Life has to be more than just working or stressing out about finding work and paying bills. To me, working 24/7 is not a way of life, it is a form of prison. And idk about you, but the past few seasons of life have been brutal enough - its time to let the sunshine in and chase joy. I hope these photos help you mentally escape and inspire your future adventures!

What's your favorite way to quickly refresh when life starts to feel drab? I'd love to hear below! Thanks so much for taking a moment to read this post. Your support means the world to me, and I wish you and your loved ones a safe and joyful weekend. 

Living Well At Home: High Summer Staycation... On A Budget

July 10, 2020

Photo by Micheile Henderson 

With July now being in full swing, I want to make sure I embrace the magic of high summer while social distancing. Just because I'm staying at home a lot, doesn't mean I can't make my weekends feel special. To be honest, my weekdays are still filled with a decent amount of anxiety and long to-do lists. Add in the non-stop news alerts I get from my subscriptions, and it creates the perfect emotionally draining storm. I'm getting better at managing those emotions, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't put more pressure on myself on Mondays-Thursdays. And that's where the cherished weekend comes in.  Because weekends, now those are still precious and as carefree as possible with everything that's going on. The weekends tend to be when I let myself relax and catch up on fun. So here is my frugal, at-home staycation game plan for this weekend!

Friday Evening
  1. Pick up a bottle of wine and flowers to go with my healthy and delicious dinner. I'm going to make chicken kabobs with a side of broccoli. And now it's time to set the scene. Put flowers on the table, eat and drink from pretty tableware, play good music, and make sure the area is clean and clutter-free... that's how you take an ordinary dinner to the next level.  
  2. Light candles and settle in for a feel-good movie. Disney Plus is WHERE IT'S AT!!!
  3. Spa Time!  I'm going to give my hands and feet a coconut oil treatment and then paint my nails while watching the movie and drinking wine. Then I'll do a face mask and hair treatment before curling up into bed with a poetry book. 

Saturday Morning 
  1. Morning self-guided therapy session using the Bloom and Sanity & Self apps 
  2. Decorate the balcony with flowers for breakfast/coffee 
  3. Read on the balcony while drinking coffee 
  4. Try on new clothes and have a photoshoot 
Saturday Afternoon 
  1. I'm taking 2-3 dance/pole classes and will work on my stiletto heels choreography! Ahhh! I'm so excited. 
  2. Maybe run to target to look at home decor or convince my roommate to drive me to home goods. 
Saturday Evening 
  1. Photoshoot round two because taking photos during the evening in prime. 
  2. If the weather is nice, I'm going to eat dinner on my balcony. Not sure what I'll cook. Maybe turkey burgers. Or maybe I'll order out and walk to pick it up. Either way, I'm dressing up! 
  3. I'm leaving the evening a little open because if the weather is nice, I'm going for a nice walk with a drink I'll make at home. If the weather is poo, I'll stay home and paint or start the illustration course or something like that. 

Sunday Morning
  1. Tidy up home ... because cleaning while the apartment is quiet is really therapeutic. 
  2. Get ready for brunch - I'm cooking brunch with a few friends because it's safer and cheaper. 
Sunday Afternoon 
  1. Cook brunch with friends 
  2. Shenanigans - gotta keep the afternoon open and go with the flow. 
Bunch Outfit Statement Pieces 

Sunday Evening 
  1. Prep for the next week while watching a comedy. 
  2. Do some online window shopping because I have a long list of items I want to get to spruce up the home and have yet to bite the bullet and purchase any of them. Time to fix that and budget for what I want. 

I know it's nothing fancy, but I want to challenge myself to have a fun weekend without spending a ton of money (other than on home decor that I'll buy on sale and budget for). My ideal weekend would be to go to a private lake house or beach house here in the NYC/NJ area, but I'm not on that level yet. So for now, I'll turn my weekends at home into a little escape. What are your weekend plans? 

Summer Muses: July Mood Board

June 28, 2020

Photo by Melvin Melvin

July is right around the corner, and I want to fill my month with getting back on my career grind, sipping drinks by the water-front, and reconnecting with the part of my soul that needs to dance in order to feel free. More dance classes, more random dance parties, more fabulous outfits, more meals outside, more time by the water... and hey, maybe even more time in the water if I get an adult kiddy pool for my backyard. I very well might do so. I just want more happiness in July, and I know that means I need to be proactive and prioritize things that bring me happiness, even though so many things in our lives in NYC are still on pause. What are you guys looking forward to in the month of July?

Weekly Muses: 5 Things Helping Me Smile

June 15, 2020

Photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

Here’s a short but sweet list of things that have been helping to boost my mood lately. I think we are all fighting for our sanity right now, so seeking a little mental escape is much needed.

  1. Binge Watching Buffy. I always gravitate to this show when I’m feeling “off”. The moodiness of the show mixed with the dark humor and the action-packed scenes just helps me feel a sense of calmness.
  2. Window Shopping. I’ve been craving a few new workout sets and lingerie sets. What I really want are lace shorts with a matching lace cami so I can feel glam while lounging around the house. I’m just waiting for the quality sets I’ve found to go on sale because this is totally just a want and not a need. I’m doing a lot better with managing my shopping habit and thinking about how I spend my money. 
  3. Outdoor Furniture Browsing. Ah there are so many things I have my eye on. I know I need to buy things slowly so I don’t spend irresponsibly, but here are a few items on my radar.  
  4. The Sanity and Self app. I downloaded it last week and am really, really liking it. It targets so many mental wellness issues I struggle with and it’s WAAAAAAYYYYY cheaper than therapy lmao. There are multiple, short and sweet, seven-day courses that focus on loneliness while being single, loneliness while being in a relationship, self-compassion, living mindfully even when you’re super busy, etc. It’s my latest obsession.   
  5. Glam Evening-Wear. I’ve always loved evening-wear. There is just something so glamorous, elegant and aspirational about the sexy silhouettes, silky fabrics and chic colors that make me feel excited and confident. As soon as I can dine in restaurants and go to evening events again, you can totally assume that I will be dressing to the nines. Dressing up is fun, and I fully believe in taking extra steps to turn ordinary life experiences into magical ones… and fashion is a great tool for adding a little “umph” to the day.

What are a few things that have been putting a smile on your face lately? I can't wait to hear about them!

Wellness Diaries: Showing Up When We Are Emotionally Drained

June 6, 2020

Photo by: Brea Soul

I use to believe that there was a magic bullet for joy, hope, and fulfillment. If I have this career, if my bank account has this amount of money in it, if I date this person... then my life will be better, I'll be accepted by society and I won't have to struggle with depression anymore. But as I've gotten older, experienced more intense times (and even trauma), and have dedicated significantly more time to work on my relationship with myself, it has become indisputably clear that living a joyous, fulfilled life requires me to take a lot of small actions... consistently.

And this week has been testing the fuck out of me. I drastically plummeted into not taking care of myself. Why, because I have been overwhelmed, terrified, emotionally drained, and even felt shameful/guilty for not being as present on my blog, social media or professional development classes this week. I even skipped my morning workout two days in a row this week and have been going a few days only eating 1 meal a day... and let me tell you, that shit caught up to me realllll quick.

I woke up this morning and was just OVER FEELING LIKE CRAP. I was like, "look Nia, it makes sense that you have been "off" these past 2 weeks.
You are reflecting on all of the mistreatment and racism you, your friends and your family have experienced as people of color on this planet (that warrants another post all in itself if I ever have the energy to write it lol).
You are mourning the deaths of so many black people who were murdered for no reason.
You are dealing with the fear and uncertainty of what the world will look like post-covid outbreak.
You have no idea what your career or financial wellbeing will look like because of covid-19.
You are terrified for your family's and friends' health/wellbeing.
You are scared for the wellbeing of everyone protesting.
You are angry that you are still seeing so many people on social media/the internet that are mocking your pain and the pain of other POC.
You are angry that police brutality is increasing in some parts of the nation.
You are fed up with all of the hate ... and yet

You have still pushed yourself to get out of bed each day, you even went to a protest where there were swat teams and snipers watching from an uncomfortably close distance. You are taking baby steps to help yourself and to help our country heal. So give yourself a break Nia."

I know talking out loud to ourselves is a little taboo. But speaking to myself, like this, out loud is truly powerful. It helps me feel stronger. But speaking to ourselves from a place of compassion and love isn't a magic bullet. It is just one ingredient in our recipe to achieve wellness. Our sleep, nutrition, exercise regime, physical upkeep, exposure to sunlight, external relationships, playtime, career goals, financial goals... it's all connected and each of these elements impacts our relationship with ourselves.

And no, we don't have to be at the top of our game in each of these categories all the time. Quite frankly, it's exhausting to even try to... trust me, I know first hand haha. But we can use this stressful time to discover a routine that works for us. And what works for you might not be what works for your best friend, sibling, or the person you follow on IG. But the only way to find out is through trial and error and to listen to how your body and spirit reacts. To be honest, my wellness routine changes day by day, depending on my needs. So here is what I am doing TODAY to take small steps throughout the morning to feel less overwhelmed.

Today's wellness routine 
First, I started off the morning listening to an upbeat song and drinking water to enhance my mood. I realized I needed to quickly change my vibe because the first thing I did this a.m. was reach for my phone (a bad habit I want to break) and jump on social media. I ended up reading a NYT article about police brutality, which led to me watching a video of LA police beating peaceful (and I mean absolutely peaceful) protestors with batons in the middle of the day. They were not breaking curfew. They were not rioting. They were chanting.. in the middle of the day.... and something inside me just snapped.

After I cried, I knew I wanted to be in a healthier mental place so I could help all the people who are risking their health to not only stand up for the justice of the black people who have been unjustly killed by the police, but because these people are also sacrificing their health to fight for my equality as a black woman and for my children (I'm not a mother yet, but I plan to be one day and I want my children to come into a more loving world that will accept them on a grander scale). There is a lot of love and courage in the world and watching those videos this morning lit something inside of me. Watching those people deal with police brutality made me want to show up not only for myself but for our global community. And that fire is what led to step two in today's wellness routine.

Second, I played classical music and decided to write this blog post and journal. I try to journal every day, but I slipped up and didn't journal on Thursday or Friday. Now I am truly noticing the immediate negative impact that skipping journaling and writing has on my mental state.

Usually, I dedicate three pages to writing down all the thoughts swirling around in my head (this habit is all thanks to Hayet Rida, Brooke Castilo, and Lauren Everhart all influencing me to practice the morning pages habit), how I feel, 3 things I am grateful for, my to-do list, any creative endeavors that are weighing on my heart, and so on. Pretty much, these 3 pages can be as random or as tailored as I want.

Sometimes the pages make no sense, and other times, I pour my heart out and write one long essay. It all depends on the day because there is no right or wrong way to journal. And because writing is such a powerful tool for me, I knew I had to share this post today. I know a lot of people are hurting and struggling, and I know that one way I can show up and help is by sharing the tactics I use to pull myself out of negative spaces. Because at the end of the day, life is really about helping others. It's not about just serving ourselves.

Third, I made coffee to enjoy before my morning workout. I wish a morning cup of tea did the trick for me, but it doesn't. I kind of need coffee to power through my morning workouts. Now that I'm reflecting on this past week, each day that I skipped working out, I was also too drained to make coffee... hmmm. It's nice to notice this correlation and realize that skipping my morning cup of joe is a trigger for the rest of my day falling apart...the more you know haha.

Fourth, after my Tone It Up workout, I am going to cook a healthy breakfast. Eggs with peppers, avocado, and chicken sausage have been my favorite breakfast indulgences recently. But depending on how my stomach feels and if I'm short on time, I might opt for a smoothie (I also like to throw in avocado in my smoothies to create a creamier texture. It just makes me feel a little more luxurious haha).

And last but not least, I'm putting on a cute dress and doing my eye makeup before I head to the park. My roommate was sweet enough to invite me to a picnic with her (and only one other person because of social distancing) today. Sitting out in the sun with food, some spiked shelters, a coloring/sketchbook, and feeling cute really does wonders for the soul. It helps me feel lighter, and when I feel lighter, I am able to put out more love into the world instead of fear.

I know that by taking care of myself, I am creating space to help and take care of others around me. We truly cannot pour from an empty cup. What are two or three small things you can do today to take care of yourself and therefore, be able to take care of others? I hope this post encourages you to be kind to yourself and set aside time to nurturing your mental well-being. Thank you so much for taking a moment to read this post. Sending love and peace your way.

Frugal Luxuries: Memorial Day Weekend Guide

May 22, 2020

Photo by engin akyurt 

Who would have thought that this memorial day weekend would be during a pandemic? This year has been pretty scary and intense, so I believe it's extremely important to celebrate every holiday we can. But since we really don't know what the economy is going to look like for the next few months, I believe it is crucial to learn to have fun without going broke or spending a ton of money. We just have to get a little creative. Here are a few ways to make this weekend special while staying frugal. 

First things first. We have to start off the weekend by thanking everyone who has fought to keep us safe. Since most IRL events to honor vets are out of the question, some ceremonies are going to be held virtually. Check this article out if you're interested in live-streaming one.

Photo by Brooke Lark 

Fancy alfresco breakfast or lunch (or do these things inside if the weather sucks) 

  • Fresh flowers in a vase - can pick up affordable bouquets at the grocery store or can pick some from your backyard/the park. This just elevates the atmosphere and gives you another reason to smile while you eat. 
  • Drink out of a pretty coffee mug and eat off a pretty plate - this just adds a little pizzazz and elevates the experience. Trust me. 
  • Wear something comfy and that you feel sexy in. For me that's Vintage lacy satin slip dresses, slip camis and shorts, and fluffy slippers. I love wearing slip dresses because they are effortless and create this regal look. I got mine from Zara last year for like $30 ... an amazing bargain. Slip dresses are popping up everywhere so it shouldn't be hard to find one online (but you probably have something satin-like in your closet or underwear drawer). Walmart and Target also have pretty affordable slip dresses in the underwear section. 

  • Play music while you cook. Maybe you're in the mood for jazz and mimosas; maybe you're in the mood for Megan Thee Stallion and shaking that ass while you cook. Both vibes are really fun. 
  • If you don't want to be alone, setting up a Facetime/Zoom with a friend(s) while you eat is a therapeutic and safe way to feel less lonely.  
  • If the weather will allow it and you have a backyard, rooftop or balcony, eat outside. Getting in vitamin d while enjoying delicious food is seriously one of the best luxuries in life that I do not take advantage of enough. 
  • Drape a white sheet or table cloth over your table while you eat. You can get table cloths at the dollar tree or target for like $1-$3, and you'll feel like you are dining in a chic restaurant (minus the hazardous crowds and pricey bill). Or just bring a blanket and pillows to eat on the ground. That's fun too
Budget-friendly Breakfast/Brunch Menu

  • eggs 
  • blueberries 
  • parsley (mainly for decor lol)
  • strawberries 
  • waffle or pancake mixs (I like to make healthier, low-carb protein pancakes like these from TIU) 
  • turkey bacon
Photo by Alexandra K 

Frugal & Delicious Lunch Menu 
  • watermelon (or any fruit but watermelon makes me think of summer)
  • sandwiches (try these low-carb cauliflower sandwich thins from Whole Foods. I really love them after they've been toasted for a few minutes) 
  • Popsicles!!!! And you can plop them in a glass of champagne or rosé for a fancy drink. These all look amazing and easy to make. Making popsicles is fun if you have a mold, but Trader Joes has some healthy pre-made options. 
  • carrot sticks. I just like how they crunch.  

Photo by Elizabeth Explores 

Go on a pretty walk or hike 

  • Bring water w/ infused fruit and snacks to spice up the walk while you stay hydrated.  
  • Listen to fun podcasts, entertaining audiobooks, or put together an upbeat music playlist to enjoy during your time outside.
  • Walk down a new and inspiring street - make sure it's in a safe area and your phone is fully charged. 
  • If you live within walking distance of a park or beach, bring a pen, notebook and colored pencils so you can journal or sketch somewhere along your walk. 


Elevate your movie marathon set up 

The ideal set up would be to watch outside in warm weather and a pre-downloaded movie on your laptop (and a white sheet + movie projector to connect to your laptop to show out). Throw in snacks, blankets, bug spray, sunblock, and a cheap bottle of wine or hard seltzers and this sounds like the perfect evening.

But if the weather is crappy, building a fort in the living room and draping Christmas lights around your area is a great way to change the ambiance and create a cozy space.

Photo by Thought Catalog 

Travel by reading a book
Curling up with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, while you read, is such a peaceful, yet exciting experience. I love to play light piano music, jazz music, or classical music in the background while I read (it makes me feel like I'm in a swanky lounge or coffee shop). I couldn't be more excited to travel again (when it's safer of course) with friends and loved ones to a quaint get-a-way. But until then,  traveling via books is a pretty fun and affordable way to escape reality for a few hours. 

Photo by sheri silver 

Wear a festive outfit 
We all have red, white, and blue stuff. Why not get dressed up in a weird or tacky outfit just for shits and giggles. I wish I had USA-themed press-on tattoos that I could put on or USA-themed party favors I could wear. I bet Target has fun stuff in the dollar section. Spending $2-$5 on random themed trinkets at Target is a fun and hella cheap way to make the day feel a little more special. 

Check Out Some SalesI know we should be prioritizing saving a ton of money right now, but I still believe in treating ourselves a little bit (keyword being a little... something I'm struggling to master lol). And there are a few bomb-ass holiday sales right now. I have a few things on my wishlist, so if I find really great deals, I might buy one or two things. Or I might throw the money into savings. Like I said on my IG stories the other day, I set a weekly savings goal for myself, so after I meet it, I feel less guilty about treating myself a little bit. 

Yeah, I could save even more and live on rice and beans right now, but I'm slowly getting better at saving instead of going too extreme by restricting myself, only to end up going on a binge spending spree because I feel so deprived, and then hating myself for not keeping my promise to myself. I'd rather go slow and steady and win the financial wellness race than go hard in the paint temporarily and end up sabotaging myself right after. My weekly treat might be a piece of lingerie (only if it's on sale) I've been eyeing, or it might be buying the ingredients to make boozy popsicles. Both are fun and won't hurt my wallet.

Memorial Day Weekend Sales (Because paying full-price for stuff is annoying) 
Don't forget to use Honey or Rakuten when you shop for the best deals and to get cashback. I have these plugins installed on my chrome browser. And my links above should help you get gift cards or a $25 credit after your first shopping trip. 

  • Target - 25% off patio items & furniture!! YAAASSSS  Plus they are having a ton of sales on other items too 
  • Revolve - Extra 20% off sale items... don't sleep on this 
  • Lulus - 50% off sale items ... um like what! crazy!!
  • Showpo - they keep having random flash sales like every single day so I'd check their IG/ IG stories for codes while you browse. I linked to 10 of my favorite dresses from their sale section - all between $20-$40!!!! I bought the white maxi featured below because omg how beautiful is that dress and for only $26!!! I'll be ready to snatch all the sugar daddies on my next trip to the grocery store. 
Dresses: one, two, three, four, five

Dresses: one, two, three, four, five

Thanks so much for taking a moment out of your day to read this post! I hope you feel inspired to celebrate the holiday during this interesting time. Wishing you all the love and safety this holiday weekend.

Sunday Muses

May 17, 2020

Every morning during this weird-ass time, I've been asking myself the same question during my morning journal session:

"What is one thing I can do today that will make me happy?"

Today, the answer to that question was simple: go for a walk, grab trulys, and have a full-on rest day

I know, I'm the queen of productivity, right? lmao.

This is a question I have to carve out time for and write the answer to every morning because it's quite challenging to compartmentalize everything that's going on and somehow be in a blissful state.

Finding a way to boost my morale is key to my well-being. I want my well-rounded lifestyle back; I know we all do. I have so much to be grateful for, and I realize that, but I'm still craving parts of my life back.

I also understand that it is necessary to grant myself grace during this time (we all do).  And that means that I'm not forcing myself to do extra things today that aren't necessary for my fundamental wellbeing. This is a full-on rest day lol. So cheers to watching a ton of Law & Order and Brooklyn Nine-Nine while browsing beautiful travel destinations on Pinterest, eating ice cream, and looking forward to the future. Honestly, this is more fun than I expected. Inspiring mood boards go a long way.

What's one thing you're planning to do to makes sure you have a lovely evening?

Dating Diaries: Quarantine & Post-Quarantine Love Life Resources

May 13, 2020

Photo by jisoo kim 
Dating/maintaining healthy relationships in the modern age is rough. Throw in a pandemic shutdown and wow… like how the f*** do we navigate this? Tbh, I think there are pros and cons to dating during this time. I like that things have really slowed down and the physical aspect is postponed. But, not being able to safely go on a physical date with someone also removes a lot of the excitement.  How will dating change after quarantine ends but social distancing is still necessary? I do not have the answers to these questions. My dating life is a rollercoaster. But you know me, I am the queen of research/consuming content. I love reading and listening to dating advice, and I know I’m not alone. 

Here are a few amazing resources I’ve stumbled upon or friends have recommended to me. Whether you are single af, trying to keep the flame alive with a new potential boo, or taking things to the next level with your partner, these videos, podcasts, articles, quotes and blog posts have a lot of valuable info for all of us. 

What do you guys think dating will look like for the rest of the year? I know that some parts of the country have reopened, but we don’t know what the health ramifications will look like in a month or two from now. I’m so curious to hear your thoughts because like wtf has 2020 been? I need the universe to stop playing these games with us! 

Quarantine Date Ideas For Couples At Every Stage - I think these ideas are adorable. Even with states easing up on their stay-at-home orders, I’m pretty nervous about being in large crowds of people. I know I’m personally not ready to eat inside a restaurant (but I love picking up food and sitting out in the sun AWAY from other people lol)  or to go to a bar and be in close quarters with other people, so I think these ideas are great for couples that want to social distance and connect at home.

Let’s get real… We all have needs. 

Having Fun While Dating - I love this post by Actual Black Mermaid. It’s a good reminder that dating should be fun and when it starts to stress us out, it’s time to take a break. 

Long Distance Relationships during Covid - Business Insider Interview

Jared Freid: Honestly, just binge watch all of his content. I’m so happy my bff Kaitlyn turned me on to him. He is so funny, raw and honest. He’s also on the U Up podcast. Guess I can’t get enough of J Train lmao. But this episode is a pretty great one to start with.  

We Met At Acme: My quarantine roommate turned me onto this podcast and I liked this episode. Although I believe you should do whatever you want with your life/body/your boundaries, I highly agree with the 2 drinks max on the first few dates. It’s a rule I want to implement into my life because I think it will solve a lot of my dating issues - cutting back on my alcohol consumption is honestly something I have to do no matter what to improve my life (I've noticed that I'm pretty depressed the next day if I get drunk and I don't want to live like that anymore - #quarantinerevelations lmao). 

And this isn't the first time I’ve heard that rule (shout out to actual black mermaid). For me, it’s mainly for physical and emotional safety (especially since our health is even more vulnerable until there is a covid-19 vaccine). Sometimes you don’t know if you are having fun because of the buzz from your drink or because you actually connect with the person on the other side of the table/screen. By following this rule, I’ll know that if I decide to get intimate with someone, I’m making the decision from a sober place... aka I won’t regret it the next day.    

Beware of the 5 New Fuckboys During Quarantine! - This article was so funny. The new breed of fuckboys during quarantine… and possibly after.

Dating Diaries: Quarantine Confessions - I haven’t listened to this brand new podcast yet, but it looks funny. I’m intrigued.

Unf*** Your Boundaries - I think most of us struggle with staying true to our boundaries. I appreciated this short but sweet video about unf*****g them

The Future of Dating From… 
SNL’s sketch about what dating might look like in a post quarantine world 
And Wendy William’s + Mario Lopez's take and I mean… she makes some good points. 

Please send me any dating pieces of advice you're loving right now. I'd love to share even more! Wishing you all a lovely and safe day. And thanks for supporting my site. It means the world to me.

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