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I haven't felt inspired lately...
and when that happens I just need to step back. During my month or so of stepping back and just figuring things out; I found what I was looking for.
As many of you know, I'm very active in my local Relay for Life which is a huge fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. I spent quite a bit of my time organizing the event, fundraising & then some!
So back in July, I made the decision that I was going to go big for a 2018 fundraiser. I am setting the bar high for myself- higher than I ever have. I'm putting everything I have into this fundraiser with hopes of it working out. Because if it does work out, we could raise potentially up to $20,000 just in one night!
In order to achieve what I am hoping (details are currently under wraps with the nature of the event), I knew that I had to do something big just to get to the next step & secure a meeting. But I had no idea what that something big was. It wasn't until a few weeks ago, something just struck me while I was sitting at my desk & it all clicked. I knew I stumbled on what I needed to do to make the impact I am hoping for.
And thus; the 1,000 stories campaign was born.
The thought behind the campaign is for people, especially in my local community & the communities surrounding us, is to show how cancer has effected our lives. I have been participating in Relay for 5 years now, and I have met SO many people who have either battled cancer or have been caregivers, or who have simply known far too many people who have battled this disease.
While I was thinking about all those people & all those stories, I knew that I wanted their faces to be seen & their stories to be heard. I knew that I wanted to show even just a small percentage of how cancer is actively making its way through our community.
And that's what this campaign is all about. It's bringing us back to our roots, back to our experiences, our losses, our celebrations of life.
For the next six weeks, until September 25, 2017, I'm collecting the faces & stories of cancer in our community. I'm asking everybody to do these few things to help us make the impact.
First- make a list of all the people in your life who have battled cancer. Second, print out your favorite picture of each person. Third, directly on the back of each picture, handwrite their story- in any amount of detail you'd like. Fourth, take all your stories- there's no limit per person- and mail them in. From there, I'm compiling all 1,000 (and hopefully more) stories and sending them out to the people I need to meet with!
Just imagine- opening up a box filled with the faces & the stories of people who have all gone through similar experiences. Who have lost so many people to a horrible disease. Imagine reading about the hopeful stories of those who are in remission. Or the inspirational families & friends who have stepped up to be caregivers. Just picture reading story after story, looking at the faces of each person who has in one way or another- been touched by this disease.
This box of 1,000 stories is going to be filled with every emotion out there. There's going to be hope, inspiration, sadness, anguish, anger, happiness, fear, love & everything else you can think of. This box will be proof that cancer is everywhere & that cancer effects so many. This box though, is going to show that even in the darkest of times, there is hope, there is love and there are fighters in all of us.
The goal of this box of 1,000 stories is to make the people opening it feel all of those things. And to then take all of those emotions & not only connect it back to their lives, but to make the choice to fight back with us. To continue to help us spread awareness & to help us continue to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Because not all we do is fundraise, but all we do depends on it.
So how can you help?
It's easy! Choose to be a part of this movement by making your list (you can check it twice too), printing your pictures, sharing your stories & mailing them to use. Even better- once you do all that (it doesn't take too long either, I promise), share this campaign. I bet you can name 5 other people in your life who have also been impacted by cancer and who could help us.
If you're able to share your stories- we're looking to have them by September 25, 2017! You can mail them all - remember, there is no limit- to:
1,000 Stories Campaign
PO Box 598
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
I am looking forward to personally reading each story- no matter how happy or sad. These stories will remind me of why I choose year after year to fight against cancer through Relay. These stories will reignite that fire & my passion. These stories are going to make a difference, they're going to make an impact.
Relay for Life!
I realized a few months ago, that 2017 is my fifth year of fundraising & participating in Relay for Life of Yorktown. I've learned so much about the organization, the fight & myself over this time & I wanted to share some of those bits with you.
I originally began to Relay after my Aunt Carol was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer; it was the only way I could figure out to fight for her at the time. So that year, myself, some family & some friends all signed up & we began to fundraise! Each of us had somebody unique they were fighting for; friends, family or themselves. It was the first time I really realized that cancer really does touch everybody's life somehow, someway.
It's this weird feeling knowing that you're not alone in what you're going through but at the same time wishing that you didn't want anybody else feeling that way. Because you don't want anybody else going through a cancer journey of any kind.
That first year for me was a big one for learning. I knew we were raising money for Relay for Life which benefit ted the American Cancer Society, but I didn't know how important those fundraising dollars were. I didn't make the personal connection until 2 years later.
My Aunt didn't lose her hair from treatment the way that so many other cancer patients do even with chemo & radiation. It wasn't until her colon cancer spread to her brain & the type of treatment she went through, that she lost her hair. It was the first time I began to really realize how much your hair effects your confidence & how you feel. I don't think she wanted to necessarily have her physical appearance scream "I have cancer". It wasn't that she felt ashamed, or weak; rather hair provides that extra level of privacy.
When her hair really began to come out, I was asked how to find a wig. I had heard of the program "Look Good, Feel Better" run by the American Cancer Society, but I didn't know too much more. So one afternoon, I gave the ACS free 24/7 hotline a call to learn more. Not only did I speak to the nicest people ever, but I was able right then & there setup a free appointment for my aunt to go get her free wig. Not only was she going to get access to a free wig, but she was also going to get her makeup done too!
When the day arrived, myself, my mom & my cousin all went with my aunt to pick out her wig. I will always remember how I felt when I saw her that afternoon. It was the first time I saw her since her hair began to fall out & I just remember having to force myself to smile. I left the room & ran to the bathroom to cry just for a minute. It wasn't because she didn't look beautiful; because she always radiated beauty, it was just the first time in all the years that I felt like her outer appearance reflected her fight. It made me so angry all over again that she had to go through this. That we were spending the day picking out wigs, that she had already had countless rounds of chemo, numerous surgeries & then some. I was just mad that anybody had to go through this.
The thing that changed though, was at the end of the afternoon, I looked back at the past few hours & how much fun we had. We were having her try on all sorts of wigs- even the ones we knew she'd hate. We laughed, we enjoyed ourselves, we met other families in the session who were going through the same thing. It was one of the last afternoons I spent with my Aunt before she passed. Despite my anger that day over the situation as a whole, I am forever grateful that the Look Good, Feel Program exists. I am thankful I had that afternoon of laughs & memories with my family.
Funds that we raised at Relay, go back into that program & countless others that help give families peace of mind. It was that afternoon that I knew I had to keep Relaying. I had to keep helping fund the programs ACS runs so that other cancer patients can utilize them. I knew then that I was in this fight for the long haul.
After my aunts passing, I realized how my fellow Relayers were this beautiful support system & more importantly; my family. They are this group of humans who all have their own cancer stories & reasons as to why they have chosen to fight. They were there for me after my aunt passed to offer more than just kind words; they offered genuine compassion & understanding.
Five years ago, I would have never imagined that I would have taken on the great responsibility as the event lead volunteer for my Relay. But here I am! I spend countless hours year round with my Relay family not just planning our main event & fundraising, but also educating. Five years ago I really didn't know what my donations to Relay did, but now I do & it makes fundraising so much more valuable. I know that funds go not only toward cancer research or for free wigs, but cancer patients can access free rides to treatment, free lodging when travel is required to treatment, support groups, the 24/7 hotline & SO much more. What the American Cancer Society provides for cancer is immeasurable in the world of cancer.
While I'm celebrating my 5th year anniversary, I am hoping to really succeed with my fundraising goals. I want to continue the fight against cancer! If you are feeling generous today & want to help me reach my goals while providing hope in the world of cancer, please visit my individual fundraising link here:
I also encourage you to learn more about what the American Cancer Society does & joining your own Relay for Life event!
To read other posts about my families cancer journey, visit:
Yes. Mayo made me cry.
I've never been a fan of condiments. Ketchup is the only condiment that has stolen my heart. Other than that- nope.
Mayo especially gives me the heebie-jeebies.
This past weekend, I went to put something in our refrigerator downstairs (we have 2 kitchens, talk about being Italian), and I noticed a massive jar of...
I grabbed in full panic mode & screamed for my sister. With my eyes closed & my arms as far away from my body showing her the unwanted jar, I yelled, "what is this doing here?!"
Naturally, she's laughing.
That's right. We're talking snacks!
As many of you know, over the years I've really been trying to focus on making memories over cherishing things. So myself, my sister, my family & some of my friends have indulged in going to concerts, taking classes & just having more adventures! To continue that trend, a group of friends & myself have done two magical museum tours: the Ice Cream Museum & the Chocolate Museum. Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about both of these!
Ice Cream Museum
The Ice Cream Museum came to NYC last summer as a popup museum & we were some of the lucky people who were able to snag tickets before they were sold out! This was a guided tour & I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it because normally I like to do my own thing- but I was beyond glad it was setup the way it was!
Right off the bat we were given some ice cream to try while we were waiting for the next room. In each room, we had a different person telling us a different piece of ice cream history & then we either ate something or did some sort of activity.
For example: we ate sugar bubbled filled with helium, swam in the sprinkle pool, took a pill that changed our taste receptors from sour to sweet (we then proved this worked by eating a lemon), we ate more ice cream and then we got to play on a mini ice cream playground!
Pros: We ate ice cream! I felt like we learned a lot of fun stuff, we played with chocolate in a room that smelt like chocolate and felt free to be extra silly!
Cons: Because it was a guided tour, it was pretty quick- we were in and out in under 45 minutes. I would have liked to be in there longer. It would have been nice too to get more ice cream (because you can never have enough!
Overall: If this popup museum comes to you- GO!
IWhat I was excited about was that this wasn't going to be a guided tour & that there would be chocolate involved. When we watched the promo video we saw people drinking chocolate, making their own mini chocolate bars & so much more! We went in there with pretty high expectations.
We had to book a time frame & we were there about 45 minutes early for our appointment. But the layout was a little odd- we had to skip through any of the museum stuff to get to the first "demo" which was a hot chocolate demo. It was pretty cool to learn about how hot chocolate was made before there was Swiss Mix. But that was the whole "drinking chocolate" part of the museum (which was not the same as the video) so we were a little bummed.
Then we had to pop over the second demo at the end of the museum for the bon bon making aka the mini chocolate bars. However, we didn't get to participate- we just got to watch & eat a piece. After the demo we had to back track to the beginning to then learn anything chocolate related.
Pros: We were free to do what we wanted so we made the most of our time. We got to shop at the chocolate store connected to the museum so we definitely got some great goodies.
Cons: It was a little underwhelming & not quite what the promo video promises.
Overall: I wouldn't go out of my way to go here, but if you were already close by and wanted something to do for a half hour, I'd say why not?
I have to say though, we had a great day at both of these spots! When you go with people who are fun & open to whatever comes your way then you really can't go wrong! I'm glad we got to experience both of these & I am pumped for whatever food museums come next!
Have you been to either of these museums? What about another food museum? Comment below with some of your favorite experiences!
I have always had a curvy body, always. I went through puberty early- before I even hit double digits & boom! My hips came out to play, my waist shrunk, my boobs suddenly emerged, my thighs became best friends & it's been that way ever since. It's who I am on the outside. I have always fluctuated with my weight, my pant sizes and my shirt sizes. I have felt a range of emotions no matter what size I have been- I have felt awesome & I have felt not so hot.
These past few months, I have finally found something I love to do to workout- kickboxing! I don't have to force myself to get excited to be there. I've noticed my body change quite a bit since the fall and it's in ways that I don't think other people would necessarily notice. I see that the muscle right above my knee (which is a totally random muscle) is now really defined. My arms are seeing more shape now that muscles are actually growing there. My butt, was long & kind of flat, and now lets talk about round!
My body is changing as you would expect and because of that I'm looking at it so much more regularly. I'm so proud of the changes & I can't wait to see how my body will continue to change. I've been able to wear jeans that I haven't been able to squeeze into for 2 years. Some of them are even becoming a little loose as my body tightens up. I love seeing that, but there are some days where all I can see are my stretch marks.
Now I've had stretch marks- thanks to hitting puberty so young- literally forever. They've always been on my body- on my breasts, on my hips, my thighs, my stomach. Everywhere. Many of them are faded & I don't even notice most of them, but from gaining weight again over then past few years, I'm seeing them so much more clearly. The ones that have made residence on my hips & breasts are so faded, I don't really care that they're there. The ones on my thighs are just eh, but my goodness the ones on my stomach are now so dark & they're all I can see sometimes.
I've suddenly become so self conscious about these even though they're covered up majority of the time. I was venting about this whole thing to one of my best friends last week & I just loved her response that now sticks with me. She basically told me that my stretch marks are a part of my story, the same way all my tattoos are. I just never thought of it that way but I am so thankful she told me what she did.
It's only been about 2 weeks since she's told me that & I'm not going to lie and say that I feel 100% better about them being so present on my stomach. I still look at them every day with mixed emotions. But I am feeling better about them. I've been thinking about it so much because I usually take so much pride in my confidence & feeling so comfortable in my body. So, why am I letting these dark lines on my body take me down so much? Why should I let them make me feel bad about the way I look at times even though like I said earlier, they're covered whenever I'm out.
What I realized is I have to be more proud about where I am right now. Because 6 months ago I was 2 pant sizes heavier, struggling to fit into my wardrobe because I just kept growing. Now, I am seeing muscles I've probably never actually really had. I can do 40 push-ups in 2 minutes, I can do 38 burpees in 3 minutes, I can move the kickboxing bag off the ground on my punches & kicks, and SO much more! I still struggle with lots of things in class, but 6 months ago- I could maybe do 10 push-ups in 2 minutes, maybe 5 burpees in 3 and my punches & kicks definitely weren't powerful enough yet to move my bag.
I have to realize that those are really amazing accomplishments & that it's even more amazing that I want to do better. I want to be able to do 60 burpees in 3 minutes (weird goal, I know, because burpees are silly!). I want to be able to hit my punches faster. I want to be able to hold up my bag for a minute straight (it's a lot harder than it sounds). I want to get back into my 8 jeans- and I'm getting so close to being there. So I can't let something as simple as a handful of dark stretch marks get me down.
I think that simple things like stretch marks, are things that make so many of us so critical about ourselves. These are the little things that if I were to go out in a bikini right now- you might notice, but would you really care? Probably not. I do think that most people, including myself, will always be critical & will always feel self conscious from time to time. But we don't have to be.
Will I ever truly fully accept & love these stretch marks? Probably not. But I'm really working on embracing them & I'm really working on appreciating that they're part of me. I really want to get to the point where 99% of the time, I could care less about them. I'm not there yet- but I know I will be because I have so many other body positive things to fixate on now.
As part of embracing my stretch marks, I'm going to bare them & share them with you which you can see at the end of this post! My stomach (especially my lower stomach) is not what I want it to look like right now- but I know it'll change as I work hard toward that. This isn't the prettiest image of me, it's not one I feel awesome about. It's completely unfiltered & but it's completely me right now!
I want to encourage all of you to really think about the parts of you that get you down, but then think about the parts of you that you love. Because I promise you, there are SO many wonderful things to love about yourself. Work toward feeling better about the things that you'd rather hide & try to embrace them as much as you can. Make yourself, the way you see yourself & how you treat yourself a priority. Because when you're happy & confident, you'll radiate even more than you ever thought you could.
So here's to moving forward & away from those negative self thoughts. Here's to loving our flaws as much as we can. Here's to loving our bodies & our minds even more than we did before. Here's to growing our perspective of ourselves into an overwhelmingly positive one. Here's to spreading the love, the support & encouragement to others around you too who might need it- just the way my best friend did for me!
One of my favorite parts about having my own blog is that I can really write about anything I want! I can bring you into any of my worlds- whether it's my crafting one, my sassy one or my hungry one. Today I'm going to bring you into a mixture of all of my worlds!! It's always so fun to get to share myself with you all- and today I'm hoping you'll learn a few things about the face behind the business!
Well, there ya have it! This list was actually compiled by myself, my sister & a few of my best friends! Fun fact, not a single one of them repeated a fact! So these are some of my most interesting & quirky qualities from my life! I hope you enjoyed learning about a very different side of me!
What are some of your favorite, odd things about yourself?!
I've been going to kickboxing pretty regularly since October- some weeks more regular than others if we're going to be honest! There are just a few things I've come to realize from participating in so many classes that I think can go across the board in a lot of ways.
Here's my take- share yours!
Show up with respect...
Firstly & foremost- show up with respect for yourself. Sometimes the hardest part about working out is simply getting to the gym. You have to motivate yourself to get dressed, drive there & walk in the door. If you made it that far- a hard part is done! But it goes further than that too, show up with confidence and excitement. Once you find a workout regimen that not only works for you but is something you enjoy, you'll be excited to work! Be enthusiastic, be ready, be all about it!
Respect others. Everybody in that class got that motivation to show up too! Your class or the open gym you're at is probably filled with people of all ages, shapes, sizes & levels. I think such an important thing is encouraging others to challenge themselves & be proud of others accomplishments. Four months ago, I couldn't do a burpee for the life of me. But I never felt like other people around me were judging the fact that they were the slowest burpees on the planet. Instead, other people around me at the end of class were like- you did awesome, keep it up & keep moving forward! That was such a game changer for me!
Be a team player...
One of the biggest reasons that I love my kickboxing classes so much is the atmosphere that has been created there. Like I said earlier, people have shared compliments with me after classes & I try and to the same. It's so important to know that the space I'm exercising in- is a safe space. It's safe for me physically being surrounded by my trainers who are teaching your proper ways to do exercising, providing you with modifications & challenges.
It's also safe for my mental state. I don't feel intimidated even when then woman across from me can do 3 regular pushups for every 1 of mine. I feel encouraged to try a regular pushup-even once- just because it gets me out of my comfort zone. I feel that the people who surround me at classes are the ones who really make that atmosphere safe & special. Be one of those positive people and help ensure that the space you're working out in, is safe & special. Don't be afraid to encourage, compliment & get to know others. It's a wonderful thing!
There are 2 big things for me under this category. This for me is all about being mindful of others. Your behavior helps create the environment you're in- negatively or positively.
With that being said- mind your personal space & that of others. For the most part, I don't run into many issues. But there have been times where I'm on my bag and suddenly somebody is about 6 inches from me. This isn't only dangerous (that one time I almost got kicked in the face) but it's distracting. While you're often going to get into the zone- which I definitely do- just make sure you're in your own space & it's not going to effect the people directly surrounding you.
The second thing that bothers me is when you're not totally tuned in. I've been in classes where the person next to me is totally going rogue. And I mean they're not doing anything remotely what the instructor is having me do. I can tell you, the people surrounding you when you're doing this are distracted. It takes away from our workout when you're just doing something very random because seeing something out of the corner of my eye is going to take us away from what's going on. The instructors are giving you specific combinations for a reason- trust their skills & abilities to give you a great workout. They're going to provide you with modifications & if they don't- when you ask they always will!
Going further with that, put your phones away. Unless you're waiting for an emergency phone call or text which of course might happen, put it away & be present. I once took an early AM class and at 5:30 AM the woman next to me was talking on her phone. Because the music was so loud- she was talking to loud which meant I couldn't hear the instructor. I've been next to people who check their texts or pickup their phone and it's just such a distraction for those around you.
Be mindful that there are other people surrounding you and how your actions do play a role in everybody's time at the gym!
Enjoy your time there...
Enjoy the time you get to spend on yourself at the gym- I think that's super important! What you're doing is such an awesome thing where not only should you be proud- but you should have fun doing it! Working out should not be a chore, it should not be boring, it should not be dreadful. It might mean trying a series of different things until you figure out what works for you! Last year I tried running & ended up hating it after 4 months! Finding kickboxing has been so amazing for me & I'm so happy I stumbled upon it!
Overall, it's important to acknowledge & accept that being active is so important. Being active in my life looks different than my sisters life or my best friends life or the woman who is always at the kickboxing bag across from me life. If you exclude the judgment, the ridicule & disses & replace that with encouragement, acceptance & growth-you'll see how working out can easily become so enjoyable! Take the time to find what interests & excites you and go with it!
What are your best tips for working out in a group space? What works for you? Or what bothers you?
if you remember from an old post from last year, one of my bucket list items for 2107 was to learn calligraphy & hand lettering! I adore gorgeous lettering & I can look at different pictures of peoples beautiful works for hours.
For Christmas, I got my starter pack of ink, nibs, paper, a book & more! I'm not totally sure what I anticipated when I started to practice, but it's not what really happened. I browsed through my book, read a ton, watched videos & set myself up. But actually putting that nib to a piece of paper was a very different feel.
While I knew how difficult it is to learn, I had really high hopes that I would learn so fast. I'm so eager to expand using this skill especially since I love doing this so far. But what I quickly learned is this is most definitely a skill that requires a lot of effort & a lot of patience.
Getting used to simply writing with the pen & nib was so tricky. I had to play around with getting used to & familiar with how much ink goes in my nib, when there's too much which causes ink explosions on the page, when there's too little and you're about to start a new letter. Even just the basic way to hold the pen and how to glide it on the paper is tricky!
But what I've loved so far is how it relaxes me. Right now I have SO much learning to do & TONS of practice to go, but I'm enjoying the ride. It actually reminds me of when I first learned to sew a few years ago. My mom taught me how to thread the machine & how to run a line of stiches. And then I just took off.
I learn best with just going full force with something & learning on the way. I had only been sewing for less than a month when I took on my first t-shirt quilt. My goodness did I learn so much! Because of that, making t-shirt quilts is one of my strongest assets.
Knowing myself, I want to really go big with hand lettering but I'm trying to contain myself. I think one of the trickiest things about this process is finding your own signature style. I always remember back in elementary school when we were learning cursive. My fifth grade teacher told us that while right now we learn the proper way, as we get older we each will develop our very own, unique signature.
That has stuck with me during this whole process. I'm trying to do both things at once- learn the basics while adding my own flare. It's definitely not the proper way to learn, but my life has never really been proper. What I love is when I write a letter that not only looks like the actual letter, but looks pretty cool! It's a tiny sense of accomplishment!
I am loving writing y's, s's & lower case r's the most. Capital B's are growing on me. But those darn lower case m's & n's are really throwing me for a loop! But regardless, experimenting is fun. Let me tell you- there are so many pages of paper with crazy looking letters & crazy phrases. But it's cool to see how I've already improved from night 1!
You can tell from the pictures that I am nowhere near perfect or remotely good. But I am getting there! I'm working on limiting the hesitation in my strokes because right now, you can see that when you're looking at it. I know with time that will correct itself as I get more comfortable with lettering. I'm also working on perfecting letters. I want my letters to match one other so that when I write words like "Fluffy" (my teddy bear's name, duh!), I want the f's to look as identical as they can!
I have so many mini goals and larger goals that I am looking forward to hitting! I'm already envisioning all the new things I'll be able to make once my skill level greatly improves! It's going to be a really great time!
I can't wait to keep you in the loop of this progress! If you're into calligraphy & hand lettering- share with me any tips you have or your favorite ways you've learned this skill! I'd love to hear it!
Holy Moly what a year!
I still can't believe 2016 is just about over! This year, for Love Struck, has been a year of debuting new products & really hitting my stride. I've had so much fun designing new products, debuting new lines & really selling these products! This year I continued to make the big shift from where I was a few years ago and now really focusing on my brand.
Speaking of my brand, I’ve finally feel as though I have a solid brand. I have spent time focusing more on what I want to accomplish as a small business owner & taking opportunities as I see them. When I redesigned my website this year, I really focused on regrouping items in my store, for example, into very specific categories. By doing this, I feel that I made my store easier to use which is benefit for my customers & for my business.
My store as a whole has grown tremendously! I haven’t taken away any specific products; I instead regrouped and repurposed items. I created a whole line of hostess gift sets that are a mix & match between wine totes, candles & wraps, mason jars, coaster sets & a thank you card. It’s a fun idea to even order a few of these sets to have on hand when you might need them!
Like I said, this year, we really took it a few steps ahead to create LOTS of new products! These are all the new things you can find at our store!
We started our newsletter a few years ago but it wasn’t getting the response I wanted at the time. So I took a break from that to focus on other aspects of the business. This summer, I decided it was time to bring it back! This time around, I’ve gotten such a strong response & the list keeps growing!
I definitely appreciate my newsletter this time around because I’ve realized how much work it takes to get out & I love that this is another way I can connect with my customers. Currently, I only send out 1 newsletter a month but a goal of mine, as the mailing list grows would be to send out a bi-weekly update. I think this would be a great benefit to have for additional deals & savings and as another way to share blog additional blog posts, events & more!
The blog this year, I decided it was time to take more charge. One of my favorite new things I began was doing craft DIY series. I took a few ideas- such as a Christmas theme or cork board theme- and did numerous posts in a one week time span. These were fun for me to do & got great responses at our blog! I’m already planning upcoming series for next year- and am incorporating guest bloggers in these!
I also find that the handful of posts that are really candid do extremely well. I don’t often feel the need or desire to really express things that are bothering me on my blog platform, but I have moments where writing helps me process what’s going on. This year, I took to writing about a response I had to getting my heart a little broken, my take on online dating, celebrating memories over things & how every body is a bikini body. These have been some of my favorite posts to write & find that they’re some that are most special to me. These kinds of posts are such a reflection of myself & of the year I’ve had!
I thought 2015 was a great year (and it really was) but I though 2016 overall was even better! I'm taking what I learned this year & running with it into 2017! Here's to the New Year! Thank you for everbody who stuck with us this year & we can't wait to bring you even more in 2017!
One of my dreams is to have an at home personal library complete with the comfiest reading nook you have ever seen. I'm talking, pillows & blankets to wrap yourself in all while looking out a big window. You'd walk in and be instantly drawn into the nook with a great read.
I would spend all of the rainy days in my nook getting lost in any story. It would be one of those things that if you needed me, you'd know where to find me; snuggled up under a massive blanket in the middle of a chapter.
I might pop my head out if you walked in, but I couldn't guarantee it. Especially if things were getting crazy in the story!
My sister and I are both pretty big readers. We grew up reading a ton, we didn't spend a ton of time watching TV and we got very limited play time on our Nintendo 64. We spent most of our time outside playing with the neighborhood kids, playing with Barbie's (ok, that was just me) or reading. These days, the day that our local library's annual book sale comes around, is pretty much like Christmas for us. We're often one of the first people there, fill up our numerous reusable bags with books & go back throughout the weekend.
As we've gotten older, it's so funny to see how different our book preferences are. I very much use books to escape. I don't like to really think much when I read. I instead use that time to just melt away into the story. Give me a good romance novel any day- I'm a massive Nora Roberts fan. I've been getting into mysteries and even some light hearted auto-biography's (hand me any of Chelsea Handler's books & I'm happy.)
My sister on the other hand loves the twisty, WTF is happening kind of books like Jodi Picoult. These days, if you hand her a WWII novel, she's the happiest clam. We literally have the most opposite tastes in books & what we both love.
Because of this, probably about 10 years ago, we decided to broaden each of our horizons, we would each year choose one book for the other to have to read. We definitely don't always love or even like what the other chooses. The one & only time I ever read a Joki Picoult book, I was anxious the entire time. I hated feeling that way reading a story! And I once gave her a romance novel involving a circus that I'll never live down. All in all, it's one of our favorite sister traditions. Man, does that sound corny! Ha!
Who are some of your favorite authors or favorite titles? Share them with us so we can pick them up!
There are a handful of traditions that have lasted my entire life, however there is one that really sticks out. It's the day where my family stands in a garage & ends up smelling like hot oil!
And it's the BEST! We call this day Weinie day aka making my favorite cookie day!!
Although Weinie's are not originally called this, it's the name I grew up calling them. This very secret recipie- and it's so secret I don't even know it- has been passed down through our family for roughly 100 years! The recipe is my great grandfathers, grandmothers. Every year, around Christmas time, we gather together & make these delish cookies.
After frying, the cookies are left to cool. Then, once they're cooled, they go right into a paper bag with sugar & we call it a day! People ask me what they taste like- and I just can never describe it! The only way I know how to do the cookie justice is to tell you that they're magical!
One of my favorite moments of Weinie Day 2016 was at one point, it was just us kids in the garge working on the weinies. It was that moment when we realized we're the next Weinie generation & that we're more than old enough to handle this tradition. It's going to be so much fun once everybody eventually has kids & they are raised on this tradition. It's really one that we know we won't ever let go of & will make sure the generation after us knows all there is to know to keep this alive! Because a world without Wienies would be a very sad world!
What are some of your favorite family traditions?
*Disclaimer- this post comes from the personal side of me, not the business side. As a small business owner, we acknowledge the holidays earlier to provide you all with deals, savings & the chance to start shopping.
I'll discuss how that's acceptable, I promise!*
I mean, I look at a calendar, and from what I understand is that Thanksgiving which happens in the grand month of November comes before Christmas in December.
Am I not correct?
It drives me absolutely wild how year after year Christmas creeps up on us earlier and earlier. Some stores have the nerve to put up Christmas trees as early as August. It's ridiculously obnoxious.
This is the first reason it bothers me so much. Everybody complains about time and if you claim you don't- you're lying. I am constantly hearing how people say how time flies and apparently when you have kids it goes even quicker. I am always saying, holy crap, how is it already the fall? People are always saying oh man, I wish I had more time for that project, or for my homework or to spend with my kids. Or I don't have any time to paint the walls in my house or to start that kitchen upgrade.
If we are always complaining about the lack of time, then why are we trying to skip over holidays, months & an entire season? Why are we constantly anticipating the next thing instead of enjoying what's happening right in this very moment?
The way I look at it, is people forget that summer goes until September 21 every year, but once school season hits, it's magically fall and the countdown until Christmas begins. But we're skipping over Halloween & Thanksgiving without a blink of an eye. So if you start your Christmas countdown before summer even ends, or before the month of December rolls around, stop complaining about time flying by.
The bigger reason it bothers me is that people glaze over Thanksgiving. It's right in the holiday name, the word thanks. Thanksgiving is the day we should recognize a little more than we should on a daily basis all we have in our life. It shouldn't matter how wealthy you are or where you live. What should matter is we find the people, the memories, the opportunities, the privileges, the pets and so on that we are thankful for in our lives. These are the people or animals or things that put a smile on our face or the things we really can't imagine living without.
Why are we skipping being excited about this holiday? I have found in my time, that the people who don't have a lot materialistically are the ones who are some of the most genuinely thankful & appreciative people. I don't know why that is.
I find it hard sometimes to acknowledge the great things in my life that I'm thankful for because sometimes the world brings me down. But I'm thankful I'm healthy, I'm thankful I have this incredible support system around me, I'm thankful I've had so many privileges including the opportunity to go to college or something as simple as to vote. I'm thankful to be employed full time and I'm thankful I have the drive to run a small business. I'm thankful that I'm able to express my opinions freely, I'm thankful for my sense of humor & optimism.
Growing up, my mother always asked us what we wanted for Christmas right after my birthday in August. She would shop as she saw things throughout the fall which makes sense. But we were never brought up to even really think about Christmas until Black Friday rolled around. We didn't talk much about it, we didn't decorate, we forgot our mom was even doing secret Christmas shopping. We never went to find our presents because we didn't care. We were always encouraged to focus on each day, to focus on school or softball or dance. We were encouraged to help people because making a positive difference in the world is what matters most.
Once Thanksgiving was over, we didn't even really jump into Christmas. We did go Black Friday shopping most years, and we wouldn't get our tree until almost Christmas. We waited for everybody to be home from college because the tradition was that we all picked out one each year together & then named it. We didn't begin to acknowledge any Christmas tradition until at least December rolled around (aside from Black Friday).
While we're on the topic of holiday shopping, like I said in the disclaimer, the small business side of me does acknowledge Christmas pretty early. Now, don't go calling me a hypocrite yet! The reason I begin to get into the holiday season earlier, is mainly because our items are handmade, we need time. T-shirt quilt deadlines are before November event begins because by the time you order, ship the shirts to me, I create it & ship it back; it can take a couple of weeks.
So as a small business owner who wants everybody to get their holiday shipments on time, we definitely take into account that we can't begin talking about Christmas on December 1! But that's only the small business owner side, not my personal side!
What I hope the takeaway here for you reading, is to stop & pause and realize that we should be a little more in the moment, we should be recognizing the wonderful things we have in our life & we should slow down a little bit. Enjoy the fact that summer goes through September, that Halloween is so much fun, that Thanksgiving is beautiful and then comes Christmas, a time for celebration!
I had recently found a bucket list my best friend & I created together a couple of years ago. We actually made 2- one was for things we wanted to accomplish before we turned 25 and the second was things we wanted to accomplish before we turned 30.
We accomplished barely any of it.
Not because we haven't been doing anything these past couple of years, but because our bucket lists were quite excessive. I mean, we really thought that we'd make a ton of money after college & could afford trips and outings all the time!
I haven't made a bucket list since then, but I feel like I need to! We've been spending so much more time creating memories instead of giving gifts which is my favorite thing, but I've been thinking it's time to make a new bucket list so I can make sure I'm actually doing all the things I want to!
Here are the top 3 things I want to check off in the next 5 years (that I can actually achieve):
-Head to Nashville for a week
-Go to the Opera (I went to the ballet for the first time this year!)
What are 3 (achievable) things you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Ah, to be young, single & living in a world where most people are glued to a screen of any kind. Myself included too many times.
You might be thinking, well then dating has to be easy. We are so connected, yet for me it's not the connection in the ways I want.
I have a handful of friends who have tried online dating with various results. My friends who have been in relationships for years encourage me to try it.
And I have.
It might not have been a super fair shot, but I gave it what I could. I downloaded a few suggested apps, set up my very perfect profiles with the best of the best photos of me. Every day, I'd log in- usually when I woke up & at night. And I hated it.
Absolutely hated it.
Everybody keeps telling me that I need to try harder, I need to keep doing it, spend more time on them. But why the heck would I keep doing something I hated so much? That made me feel so scummy & uncomfortable?
For me, you don't get a good sense of a person when you click on their profile. Everybody puts in their best qualities, funny jokes, anything to make them appealing. Their pictures are the ones that make them look the best & lets be honest- we don't always look great, we don't always act awesome. For me, it was always so fake & I say that because even though I wanted to be real- it was hard to honestly be that way.
The difference for me, is when you go on a first date with somebody you didn't meet online (and in my case, I have already met in person); you're still going to dress up a little nicer, make sure you're put together & you're always going to try and be charming. Then when you're face to face with a person- looking right at them, you get a sense of who they are. You get a feeling- whether it's something you want to peruse or not. Whereas when I'm looking at somebody's profile, I get nothing; I feel nothing.
I was explaining it to one of my best friends not that long ago who has had success from online dating as she was encouraging me to try again. I enjoy perusing guys & making the first move. I don't do it often because I'm ridiculously picky- so if I give you my number, know that you are one of the few guys who has gotten the honor. I enjoy meeting people out & about in different settings. If I'm attracted to you and there is something slightly different & interesting about you; I want to get to know you more.
It's because when I see you not glued to a screen, I see how you interact with your peers, your co-workers, & other people. I get that first impression in person in which I will base my initial opinion of you on. It is when I get a sense of who you are; face to face, that I want to get to know you more even without reading your carefully written bio on your profile.
And I don't see what's wrong about that. Why people find that my being picky means I'm not trying hard enough. I don't see why I should go on dates with guys I'm not interested in. Why is it ok for me to waste my valuable time to appease others views on my love life? I shouldn't have to hide behind an app on my phone for hours searching for guys that may or may not intrigue me. That does not sound appealing to me., I have other things to do like work full time, run a business, run a huge fundraising event & find time for myself, my family & my friends.
When I look back at my past relationships or hook ups, just about all of them I have met face to face first & felt that there was something about them that sparked something in me. I trust when friends or family want to set me up with somebody too. They know me and they know the guy they want to set me up with. I can hear all about them from reliable people, see fun pictures from adventures they have & get an immediate sense of who they are just based on the people who love him. That's important to me too because the way others talk about you is such a strong reflection on the person you are.
I have not been successful at dating- that's why I'm still single. My friends who are in relationships do enjoy hearing stories from their one single friend & trust me, I give them hilarious stories. I think it reminds them how lucky they should be to be in loving relationships (not that being single is a bad thing- but webs of guys, that can be tricky).
My more old fashion approach might be frowned upon these days, but it's what works for me & it's what I feel comfortable with. I'm beyond tired of people trying to tell me I need to try harder & that online dating is apparently the only way to go- especially when they have never had to do it for themselves. I'm tired of being feeling bad for me because I'm still single- trust me, it's not always as bad as you're imagining. I'm tired of people thinking I need to find my other half because the way I look at it - I'm not a half; I'm quite whole. I'm tired of people thinking that just because I'm 27, that I want to get married right away & start a family- trust me when I say, I'm more than content with where I am in my life as a single lady.
What I want is for people to trust my judgment, my comfort zone, my outlook on life & believe that just because I now refuse to download an app to find love, that oddly enough, I'm pretty confident love will come my way one of these days. It's as simple as that!
Back in college, one of my best friends Siobhan was having a closet space crisis. She had too many clothes & she realized she wasn't even wearing a lot of them.
So I challenged her to a purging challenge. The deal was, she wasn't allowed to repeat tops until she either went through all her clothes or couldn't do it anymore. What was up for grabs? A 6 pack of course! We had some rules that this was only for the week days & she was allowed to borrow a top once a week.
When she wore a shirt & realized she didn't like it or how it fit, it never made it back to the closet. It sat on her chair until the end of the challenge. Then, she had a great big pile of stuff to donate when she was through!
About 2 years ago, I decided I needed to the same thing. My closet was over flowing, granted I have a very small closet- but I was also realizing I was barely wearing so many of my clothes that I actually liked. I was just grabbing the same go to clothes all the time & I was over it!
So I took the purging challenge & it was a success. I barely got rid of anything however, but I was reminded how much I liked certain tops or dresses. It took me months though, literally months! And there were some days where I had weird combination outfits on, but I was successful!
I recently realized I was running out of room, again & needed to something about it. But when I just look at my clothes, I feel this weird attachment to them & can't just toss a lot of them.
So it's another round of the purging challenge! If you're in the same boat as me, you should try it too!
There are the rules I go by to keep myself going:
1. The purge includes: tops, dresses & skirts
2. This doesn't include super seasonal items if in off season. i.e. winter sweaters during a summer purge
3. Also excluded are your fancy attire or non every day wear clothing items
4. Basic cardigans can be re-worn as can your camisoles
5. You can layer tops & it counts as a one time wear
6. When you're not feeling something, you put it aside right away and donate it!
I think it's a fun way to go through basically your entire wardrobe! I left my tops, dresses & skirts that I had worn, downstairs in the laundry room unwashed until I went through everything. That way, I couldn't cheat! You can also do a mini seasonal purge with sweaters, or tank tops or anything!
I felt really good when it was done- I had a weird sense of accomplishment! There were crazy days where I did not like how I looked or felt but those were the days I knew that to was not getting back in my closet!
Try it out! Let us know how it worked!!!
My name is Kristina and I'm the founder of Love Struck. Read about how Love Struck came to be, see how I make it happen or just read a random thought I just might have! Anything can happen at our blog & I wouldn't have it any other way! It's time to get Love Struck, and what better way to start than right here!