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MY NYC HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST

Aside from the cold – this really is the most magical time of year in New York. The city is decked out in its holiday best, there are lights everywhere and plenty of occasions to pour a glass of bubbly. I can’t get enough. Which is why I wanted to create a holiday bucket list to be sure that I make time to enjoy as much of the season as possible. Some of the things on my list are beloved traditions at this point while some are things we have still yet to experience in New York and really want to get around to doing this year. Also – a reminder that not everything has to be expensive this season – plenty of the things on my list are super budget friendly, if not free!

Ice skating Dates:

Now that Adam and I both own ice skates, we want to take advantage of all of the fun rinks in the city! My favorite is skating in Central Park – with the city in view around you – but Bryant Park and Rockefeller Rink (if you get there super early or on a weeknight) are also great. Budget tip: Bryant Park is actually free to skate at and so are locker rentals if you bring your own lock, so this is a great cheap date idea.


Lights at Dyker Heights:

Remember that one house in your town that used to go all out with lights and yard decorations for the holidays? Dyker Heights is like that.. but x100. A neighborhood in Brooklyn where for about 4 square blocks – every single house is boasting thousands of Christmas lights, and more Santas and snowmen then you have ever seen in one place. We usually pack a “car picnic” and then drive through the neighborhood while listening to holiday tunes. Festive and totally free!


Dinner at Lucien and Minetta Tavern:

There are some restaurants that just really shine in the winter. Cozy and intimate, all candlelight and linen tablecloths, they make braving the cold for date night well worth it. Lucien in the East Village and Minetta Tavern in the West Village have been on our restaurant bucket list for a long time and I’d love to finally try them both this holiday season.


Hot Toddies, Rockefeller Tree + Fifth Avenue Windows:

This has quickly become one of our favorite holiday traditions. We pick a Sunday evening in December, make a big thermos of hot toddies and then head uptown to see the Rockefeller Tree and the windows on Fifth Avenue. Notoriously crowded and often quite cold – we found that the hot toddies really raise your spirits on the trek and ultimately make the whole thing a lot more fun.

Volunteer:

It can be easy to get swept up in all of the consumption of the holidays without pausing to think of those that are having a much tougher time. I hate to think of families that are struggling to get a few gifts under the tree for their kids – so this year, Adam and I starting the yearly tradition of picking up toys for local families. Someday, we plan to continue this with our own little ones, letting them pick out toys for kids in our community that are less fortunate than them. We’re looking into Stockings With Care or Operation Santa – or both!

Jazz Standard Holiday Show:

I love live jazz any time of year, but it feels extra festive around the holidays. Jazz Standard in Gramercy is one of our favorites for big band style jazz and last year we went on January 1st which was such a fun way to kick off the new year.  

West Village Wander:

Is there any place prettier than the West Village around Christmas? I love taking a Saturday, hot chocolate in hand and just wandering through the streets and looking at everyone’s decorated doors. Grove Street is a particular favorite. 

Classic Movie at the Theater:

Our local movie theater plays classics like It’s A Wonderful Life this time of year and I want to make it a point to catch one – even better if it’s one I’ve never seen!

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LET’S CATCH UP 11.17.19

October was a tough one. I think it was seasonal allergies but I really didn’t feel 100% all month and things at my full-time job really ramped up (Q4 is always super hectic/stressful and it takes takes me a bit to adjust to that intensity) – so I wasn’t quite as present here as I would have hoped. But now that it’s November, I feel like I’m out of the fog of things so to speak and I’m really excited to bring you guys more content here.

I’m not going to be doing traditional gift guides this year (I suspect you’re all more than capable of shopping for the people in your lives and I just feel like they all start to look the same from bloggers after awhile) – but I am going to be sharing all the festive outfits I’m wearing this season, how we’re decorating our apartment, the NYC holiday traditions I look forward to every year and some more “life” posts like how to stick to a budget during the holidays, how to handle all those big family dinners and how to not feel the pressure of “engagement season”.

A few things on my mind as we wrap up the weekend:

  1. The cute graphic sweater I wore in this post is now on sale + an extra 40% off. It has the comfort level of a sweatshirt but can easily be dressed up for the office. I know I’m going to be wearing mine often this winter.
  2. One of my favorite bloggers, Krystal Bick of This Time Tomorrow, recently traveled to Norway and I am swooning over her photo diary. Adding to my already long list of places I hope to visit someday.
  3. We finally just replaced our old broken record player with this sleek new one. In case you were curious, I’ve been spinning Harry Styles’ last album on repeat in anticipation of his new one that comes out next month, while Adam’s current top pick is a vintage record from 1978 called ‘Heavy Metal Be-Bop’ – if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about us I don’t know what will. Ha.
  4. Instagram is testing out hiding the number of “likes” a photo gets and I’m all for it. I often wonder if Mark Zuckerberg had any idea of the worldwide cultural impact he would have by simply putting a metric next to user generated photos? I certainly don’t think any of us did. But the facts are that people who use social media – specifically teenagers – report feelings of isolation, dissatisfaction with themselves, anxiety and depression in staggeringly higher rates than teenagers did just 10 years prior. No one should be measuring their self-worth by the number of times an invisible audience double tapped a photo of their face. Here’s hoping that as like counts vanish, we’ll all have an easier time of reminding ourselves of that.
  5. In my humble opinion – the West Village wins for holiday decor in this city. Plus it comes armed with a handful of delicious and cozy restaurants that feel extra festive this time of year. I second this list of top restaurants in the neighborhood from The Infatuation and want to tick a few more off our “dinner bucket list” this season.

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HOW TO HANDLE FAMILY AT THE HOLIDAYS

By this point I suspect you have one of two worries surrounding Thanksgiving. What to wear and/or how to deal with family. For the former, it’s simple – this dress. I suggest no belt, so that it’s just a super soft, super swingy tunic that still feels dressy enough with a pair of heeled booties to look like you have your life together when your grandparents ask, but still comfy enough to eat seconds of pie and then inevitably nap later.

For the latter, its not going to be as simple. I am incredibly fortunate to be a member of a nuclear family that truly gets along and loves hanging out together. And for the first 20 something odd years of my life I thought this was actually normal. Turns out, its not. And once you add in extended family and in-laws (and god forbid politics) – I’m guessing there’s about 95% of you that feel at the very least a small amount of stress about seeing someone across the dinner table later this month.

Well meaning questions (like – how’s your job? when are you two finally going to get married? how long are you going to live in New York?) can range from mildly prying to downright triggering. Add in another family that’s only attached to you through a significant other and you’ve got a whole other set of tightropes to walk. All while just trying to get through dinner without spilling sweet potatoes on your new dress.

Here’s what I suggest. Set expectations for yourself before you ever step foot into the host’s house. You can control 0% of how other people behave or how they question your love life. You can control 100% of how you react to it. Give yourself a pep talk beforehand if need be. Find a sibling or partner that you’ll be there with and can be your life raft during Thanksgiving dinner. And have an escape plan. You may be obligated to attend but you’re not obligated to stay until midnight.

In general, I find that usually when people ask probing questions into your life its because they are genuinely interested or because something about your life triggers their own insecurities. When they ask a 32 year old woman when she’s thinking of starting a family, perhaps its because they’re jealous they didn’t get time when they were that age to focus on their career because they were already strapped with two kids. Or maybe it just popped into their head and so they thought why not ask. Who knows. It’s not your job to figure out their shit. It’s your job to remember what you’re grateful for and get through dessert.

Of course, if you’ve got a family that operates at a level that feels destructive, burdening or hurtful to be around – I suggest you gather up a good friend or two, book a ticket and head to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. They host a ‘Black Sheep Thanksgiving’ party each year where you can hide out in the desert by the pool and escape it all. There are some things that just aren’t healthy – and I hope you all can draw that line, however hard it would be to do so.

But for the majority of us that will grin and bear it this year when their mother in law critiques our stuffing or our grandfather makes a joke in poor taste… know that after the long weekend you can return to the great life you’ve been busy building. At least until Christmas…

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ON HAPPINESS: HOW I’M COMBATING THE WINTER BLUES

As I write this it hovers around 35 degrees in New York City and while it’s a clear sky day, it will be dark in a mere 8 hours. For some people this probably means next to nothing.. but if you, like me, feel the winter blues acutely in your bones – this is the first real scare. The first shift in the winds and the clocks that says “I’m coming for you”.

The tricky part is that I truly love November and December – they’re filled with joy – holidays, traditions, decorations everywhere you turn in the city. Which is often why I’m tricked into thinking maybe I won’t feel the winter blues this year. But every year, like clockwork, January rolls around and I want to crawl out of my (very dry) skin and move to Mexico just to avoid one more single short, cold day. So this year – I’m getting a jump start and putting some simple practices in place so that by that time we’re in the real depth of winter I’m not just surviving.. but actually enjoying it.

One of the things I’ve noticed in winter is that it can be easy to sort of let yourself go. You’re engulfed in a huge puffer coat 90% of the time after all – why not just wear sweatpants underneath and go home and order takeout? But when I put on a real outfit, do my hair (even though it will just be smashed beneath a knit hat), keep up my workout routine and cook healthy meals at home – I feel a huge boost in mood. Today I’m getting my hair colored, I’ve been slowing adding a few new winter pieces to my wardrobe (like this cozy tweed dress that will be great with tights and a turtleneck beneath it) and I’m already in a good routine with working out that I plan on ramping up throughout winter. So far, so good.

The next thing is relationships. Spending quality time with Adam and making a point to trek out in the snow/ice/cold to see friends is always worth the effort. To that end, Adam and I just reinstated our “weeknight date” routine. It can be easy to fall into the pattern of holing up at home and watching TV.. so we plan to mix things up by having one mid-week date night that we take turns each week planning. Mine was this week and I planned an at home date of scrabble, spiked cider and playing records. It was so fun! Now even if I’m having a tough week, I’ll have something to look forward to halfway through. On the friend front – I joined a new book club this past week with the hopes of meeting some like-minded ladies and it was lovely. We’re all planning to go see the new Little Women movie when it comes out next month (that was the book of choice this round) and we’ll meet on the next book in January. Again – things to look forward to with people you enjoy is key!

Lastly, I’ve found that when I dedicate time to things that keep my mind sharp (again – it can be tempting to just binge watch netflix all winter.. but that seems to only add to my blues in the end) make a world of difference. That means reading as much as possible, pushing myself to try new things even if that’s just a new recipe and dusting off old hobbies like drawing or playing the piano – all make me feel great and are perfect for when it’s dark and cold out. Adam recently declared that we should get rid of the desk in our bedroom and replace it with an upright piano for me and I think he may really be onto something. By which I mean, he too is scared of my winter mood. Ha.

And if all else fails – we’re planning a warm weather getaway come March.

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ON CAREER: DRESSING THE PART

Earlier this year I moved in to a management role at my company. And while we have a super flexible “creative casual” type dress code, suddenly I found myself looking down at my beat up converse sneakers and thinking that I didn’t look like I passed for anyone’s “boss”.

Part of me still feels like a girl who should be running around the city in mini skirts. Part of me doesn’t feel qualified to be the boss. But the reality is that I’m a 32 year old woman who has 5 people that report to her. And while I don’t think anyone in the office probably gave it a second thought, my split ends and old sneakers weren’t exactly helping me build confidence in my new role.

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So last week I made a conscious shift. I chopped off the ends of my hair and dug through my closet for all of the nice clothes I actually own. I started planning my outfits the night before so in the morning’s I don’t fall back on grabbing a pair of jeans and running for the door. And I feel so much better already. Instead of feeling like I was giving up the old me… I feel like a slightly new and improved version of myself. Still feminine and a little bit playful but sleeker, more “grown-up”.

Dress for the job you want right? Or at the very least, for the one you have. And don’t worry, I’ll still be running around the city in miniskirts and converse… I’ll just save it for the weekends now.

Anthropologie Sweater via Nuuly Subscription | Franco Sarto Loafers | French Connection Slip Skirt c/o | Dagne Dover Bag c/o – similar here

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.