The Days with No Name: Living in the Moment and Adventures at Tiffany’s

The Days with No Name: Living in the Moment and Adventures at Tiffany’s

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve may be the strangest that the year has to offer.   It’s a no man’s land in a sense: there’s no sense of time or urgency in these days. Wednesdays slip into Thursdays and Thursdays slip into Saturdays without anyone realizing or even batting an eyelash over where Friday disappeared to.  I might be weird and it may shock some considering my love of Christmas, but these are my favorite days of the year. There’s something refreshing about losing the stress culture society’s gotten us to buy into over the years: anything is possible in these days.

This year, I’m spending these days doing things I love to do.  I’m writing blog posts, I’m taking photos, I’m spending time with loved ones.  And so far, these days have been wonderful. Wednesday, I spent the day watching Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with my mom before eating at an all you can eat sushi restaurant nearby for dinner.  There was nothing extravagant about the day, but that’s what made it so wonderful– there was no stress, no pressure, no worries.

Thursday, I went into New York City with my mom to go to Blue Box Cafe at Tiffany’s.

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My mom and I at Blue Box Cafe

 I have wanted to go here since they opened and so, a month ago, I frantically got on my computer exactly at 9 AM to make a reservation and I will admit, those minutes were some of the most stressful of my life as I watched reservations be booked out for the day in only five minutes.  But, it was all worth it. I don’t think there’s a better way to deserve my love for Tiffany’s than by providing my favorite monologue from all of Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

“The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? …Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then — then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!”

There is nothing like Tiffany’s and no better time to enjoy it than this strange little holiday season.  After Tiffany’s, my mom and I continued to enjoy the city, browsing through Bergdorf’s and Bendel’s, before making it to New York’s craziest spot: the Christmas tree.  Even with all the crowds and the pushing and shoving, I can’t help but marvel at it. It’s spectacular.

Looking forward from here, my plans aren’t so clear.  I’ll meet some friends here and there, work on my blog and internship applications, and just enjoy these moments.  The thing about these days is that they are very finite: I know the second the clock strikes midnight and rings in 2019 that it is all over.  The dates will become clear again, everyone will be back to work– I’ll have only a week left at home before I return to school again and a new semester will begin.  In these days, it’s like the whole world is Cinderella at the ball, but reality will strike again. For now, I plan to appreciate these days as much as I can and take joy in whatever life gives to me.

 

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It’s the Most Wonderful {and Busiest} Time of the Year

It’s the Most Wonderful {and Busiest} Time of the Year

The holiday season is most certainly one of the busiest.  There is so much to get swept up in: there’s finals, shopping, holiday parties, and the list goes on and on.  I often find myself wishing for more hours in the day, but during the Christmas season, I find this feeling is even more prevalent in my life– I want to go see all the Christmas decorations, spend time with my family making cookies, go to every holiday party I can, spend nights in with hot chocolate and Christmas movies, and still manage my regular day-to-day life.  It seems there is never enough time to do everything at the holidays. So, this season, I’m trying to make the most of the time that I have and be thankful for it. Today, I’m sharing what I’m most looking forward to in the rest of the holiday season.

What I’m looking forward to:

  1. Cookie making.  I am so excited to be home and able to participate in my yearly tradition of baking Christmas cookies with my mom.  I’ve written about how much this tradition means to me in the past, but I can’t reiterate enough how important this tradition is to me.  It’s a time for my mom and I to be together, but also connects us to our loved ones who have passed on. It keeps them in the season with us.
  2. Seeing all the New York Christmas decorations.  While I spend the majority of my time in Washington, D.C., I always say that my heart is in New York and that is especially true during Christmas.  There is nowhere in the world where Christmas magic can be felt more than New York. I have wanted to go see the window decorations and the Rockefeller Center tree again for a couple years now, but have never made it into the city on time, but I’m definitely making that a priority this year.
  3. Christmas Eve dinner.  If you’re an Italian-American, you will understand this one.  There is no holiday that has as good of food as Christmas Eve, in my personal opinion.  Every year, we go out to our favorite restaurant for their buffet that includes the Italian fishes, pastas, and zeppole for dessert.  I also love Christmas Eve dinner because it is a really relaxed time for my family, where we just are able to enjoy being together without any stress.
  4. Spending time with friends and family.  Going to school in a different city than I grew up in is absolutely amazing– I love the independence I have gotten from this experience.  However, I definitely miss home, my friends, and my family when I’m away. I love Christmas because everyone is home, at least for a little while, and it is a great time to catch up with everyone.

 

 

It’s a Wonderful Life: Finding Meaning for the Season

It’s a Wonderful Life: Finding Meaning for the Season

There is nothing I love more in this world than Christmas music… except, maybe Christmas cookies and decorations.  The entire season excites me so much and despite the shorter hours of daylight and the chillier temperatures, I can’t help but smile when I see a house decorated with lights or a wreath hanging on a door.  It’s a special time of year.

I’ll admit, all of that sounds superficial.  What difference does some twinkly lights make to our lives?  Well, I believe that all the beauty and decor that goes along with Christmas just helps to stand in for what the season really means: hope.

The holidays bring us together.  In my family, we have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies.  When I was a little girl, this would be a whole day activity with all my aunts and uncles. Today, the tradition has become just my mom and I as many of our relatives have passed away, but when we bake our family recipe of strufoli, it’s like they’re still with us.  I can hear my Aunt Loretta’s laughter in the kitchen and my Uncle Joey’s patient voice as he explains to me how you have to roll the dough. In those moments of baking, I feel so much hope that my family is still with me. My mom and I always grow closer after a day of baking, because I know she feels it too.  Our family is not lost from us, but within us. In those moments, I can’t help but feel hope that the world is a beautiful place, because my family is made of the most beautiful people and if they’re still with me in some way, life has to be spectacular.

This year, I’m trying to bring this feeling of hope I get from my family holiday traditions to everyone I know.  I’m hosting a Christmas party, I’m getting a group together to spend an afternoon decorating cookies, and I’m volunteering in my community.  Life is so stressful and hard most of the time– I want people to be able to take a moment to see it is still beautiful. I want people to feel hopeful and excited for the future.

When I look at Christmas decorations, I see so much beauty in this world.  I see people just trying to make the world a happier place, one light at a time.  When I participate in gift exchange, I feel so much care and affection. Someone took time to think of what would make me happy.  When I listen to a Christmas song, I smile because this is a season that brings people together and brings out the best in them.

This holiday season, let yourself be filled with hope that the world is still a happy and caring place.  Let yourself believe that the world is good and there’s so much more than your daily stress. That hope you feel inside when you do, that’s what Christmas is all about.  

It really is a wonderful life.

 

Gift Guide #3: Secret Santa Gifts for $20 and Under

Gift Guide #3: Secret Santa Gifts for $20 and Under

A Christmas tradition that never fails to stress everyone out is Secret Santa.  Maybe, you pulled the name of your best friend and have no idea how to get them a good enough gift in $20 or less or maybe, you pulled the name of someone you’ve never spoken two words too.  Have no fear, I’ve compiled a list of the best Secret Santa gifts for $20 or less so you can enjoy this holiday tradition, instead of stressing.

$10 and Under

Toysmith Mini Ping Pong Set: $5.62

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Tea Bag Shaped Tea Infuser: $5.95

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Cable Bite: $6.00

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Mini Double Chocolate Cocoa: $6.95

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Sugarfina x The Grinch Super Sour Hearts (or any Sugarfina candy makes for a great gift!): $8.50

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Satin Bow-Tied Hair Tie Set: $9.60

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Dash Red Mini Waffle Maker: $9.99

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Star Wars: May the Force Be With You Mug: $9.99

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George & Viv Gifting Bar Soap: $10

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$15 and Under

Acrylic 3×3 Block Picture Frame: $11.95

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Stamped & Cashed Dancing Queen Cuff: $12 but 15% off with my code PIXIEDUST until 12/20

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Keep Cool Face Mask Set: $12

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Make + Model Butter Socks: $12

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Oooh Yeah Men’s Luxury Combed Cotton Crew Socks Pizza Party Large Socks: $12

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Easy, Tiger, 12 oz Goil Foil Stackable Mug, “No”: $12

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Let It Snow Layered Cookie Mix: $12.95

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Acrylic Watch Hat: $12.99

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Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined: $13.46

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L’Occitane Shea Butter Ornament Set: $14

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Monogram Lidded Jewelry Box: $14

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$20 and Under

HoMedics Essential Oils: $14.99-$19.99

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Fredericks & Mae Paper Games: Dots & Boxes: $17.96

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Kate Spade New York What Do You Say Tumbler with Straw: $18

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Hat and Scarf: $18.99

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Coziest Throw- Space Dyed: $19

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Fleece Block Checked Large Blanket: $19.90

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Gift Guide #1: Gifts $35 and Under

Gift Guide #1: Gifts $35 and Under

The holidays are a joyous yet stressful time.  One major stressor of the season is getting all the presents you need for your friends and family.  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing my gift guides to make the season as easy as possible.  Today’s gift guide is to help you find gifts for under $35, so you can get the best possible gifts without breaking your bank.  All of these gifts are from Forever 21, Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Vineyard Vines. I’ll be honest: I was really worried going into this gift guide, unsure if I would be able to find any good gifts in this price range, but I was pleasantly surprised to find so many amazing and affordable gifts.  I’m so excited to share thirty of these options with you today and make sure to let me know in the comments what gift guide you’d like to see next!

$15 and Under

Cross Pendant Chain Necklace: $3.90
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Go For It Pendant Necklace: $3.90

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Faux Fur Earmuffs: $6.90

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I Woke up Like This graphic Travel Mug: $7.90

i did not wake up like this

Ribbed Knit Gloves: $9.90

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PLAY! By Sephora: Beauty Schooled: $10

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Plaid Flannel Oblong Scarf: $14.90

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Leith Crystal Wraparound Necklace: $14.90

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Perfect Selfie Ring Light + Lens: $15

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Philosophy Comfy, Cozy, Clean: $15

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$25 and Under

 

Serefina Bow Tie Bracelet: $15.20

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Sephora Collection Experiential Masks Set: $18

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Mario Badescu Mini Must Have Winter Edition Set: $20

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Jupiter Candle: $24

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Chenille Hat & Scarf Set: $24.90

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Philosophy Warm Caramel Apple Cider Set: $25

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Illuminating Bright Eyes Gels + Silky Mask Beauty Sleep Set- Beauty Bio: $25

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Bite Four Little Bites Amuse Bouche Lipstick Set: $25

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Tarte Here Today, Gone to Maui: $25

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Weekends & Chocolate Holiday Bath Truffle Set: $25

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bh Cosmetics Crystal Quartz 12-Piece Brush Set: $25

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$35 and Under

Smashbox Cover Shot Eye Palette & Brush Duo: $26.50

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Vineyard Vines Classic Twill Baseball Hat: $28

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Benefit Cosmetics Goodie Goodie Gorgeous Gift Set: $29

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Eva NYC Mini Flat Iron: $30

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Pixi 5th Edition Ultimate Beauty Kit: $32

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Out From Under Haiden Cozy Sweater: $34
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Cozy Chunky Knit Beanie: $34

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Nubby Blanket Scarf: $34

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Lime Crime Best of Lip Reds Holiday Gift Set: $34

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Happy holiday shopping!!

 

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving: A Message of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving can be stressful.  There’s holiday traffic, fear of burning the turkey, and of course, praying for the entire day that no two family members end up in a screaming battle.  However, despite all the stress and the negatives that come along with the day, I see it as an opportunity for positivity: in the moments of panic, take a breath and think less of what bad could happen and instead of what good things you had.

I know, sometimes, thinking of the positives isn’t easy but we are all so blessed.  Let’s take one day to think in terms of gratitude instead of anxiety.

I want to share with you all just a few of the things I am so thankful for this Thanksgiving.

 

  • The response to this blog.  I started this blog with no real expectations.  I had no idea if anyone would want to hear my self-care journey, but I felt like I would be an injustice to myself if I didn’t try to tell my story.  The response has been greater than I could have ever imagined. I have been so blessed to have so many of you reach out and tell me how I am impacting your lives and that means the world to me.  I could not be more grateful this Thanksgiving for all you have given me.
  • My support system.  This year has involved making so many hard decisions and just going through the general ups-and-downs of life.  I can say I would not have gotten through those moments without the people I am blessed to call my friends, my family, and my support system.  They pick me up when I’m down. They encourage me to take risks and follow my heart. They are so so special to me.
  • My opportunities. This year may have been a difficult one, at times, but it’s also been my most exciting.  I have gotten to work with two amazing companies in D.C. as an intern, I got to move to Disney World, and I’ve gotten to explore so much by being in leadership for my extracurriculars.  All of my development this year has come from being able to pursue these opportunities and I feel so blessed to have had these chances in my life.
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Disney World, Spring 2018.
  • My homes.  I’ve written on the blog before about feeling like I have multiple places I call home and belong in.  While this can be difficult at times, it is also such a blessing in my life. I close my eyes and I can see three places I truly and distinctly belong: DC, Orlando, and New York.  This is hard, as I always am missing somewhere, but I am so happy to be grounded in these three amazing places.
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There is nothing like coming home to a puppy.
  • My growth.  This one piece of gratitude is probably the most personal of all.  Over the last year, I have grown so much as a person. I have found an inner-strength I did not know I had.  I have grown in my beliefs, my values, and my abilities. I am thankful for all a year can do for a person.

 

I wish in this post I could spend time saying the name of every person I am grateful for, but if I did that, the post would go on for days.  If we stop to think about all the wonderful people in our lives and the little things they do for us, we will be amazed by how much we have to be thankful for.

Today, I will be taking time to sit down and send out some personal messages of gratitude to those whom I am thankful for this season.  I want to give some of the positivity that has been brought into my life back to others.

This Thanksgiving, don’t let the negatives overwhelm you.  Take the time to be grateful and appreciate your life’s blessing.  Let today’s holiday be ruled by positivity.

 

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

A Trip into My Kitchen: Sharing My Favorite Recipes

My childhood home was always full of the most wonderful smells.  In the morning, I’d often be awoken to the aroma of fresh chocolate-chip pancakes or French Toast.  After school, I’d often walk into my house to the sweet smell of my mom’s special apple cake in the oven.  At night, I cherished catching a whiff of my mom’s homemade tomato sauce bubbling on the stove top.

When I got to college, I missed these familiar smells and the conversations I would have with my mom in the kitchen.  Cooking became a comfort to me– it was my connection to the home I was away from. As it connected me to my home, it also made wherever in the world I was start to feel like a home.  If I could sit down with a home-cooked meal in front of me, it felt like I could belong there.

Today, I’m sharing an altered version of my mom’s chicken parmesan, which I call chicken parm tenders.  

Ingredient List for Chicken:

1 cup of flour

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (I use Trader Joe’s three cheese pomodoro sauce)

1 beaten egg

2 chicken tenderloins (not breaded)

1 cup of Panko bread crumbs (I use bread crumbs with Italian seasoning)

½ cup of shredded mozzarella

Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Place your flour, egg, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls next to each other.  Take each piece of chicken and first put it in flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs.
  3. Once your chicken has been breaded, spray a frying pan with cooking spray and set the pan to medium-high heat.  Fry both your pieces of chicken until golden brown and you can see that they are cooked through.
  4. Place your pan-fried chicken onto a tray and spoon tomato sauce onto the pieces of chicken so you are covering the entire top of the chicken.
  5. Top with shredded mozzarella– you can put on as much or as little as you want.
  6. Bake your chicken for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with your favorite side.

I served my chicken parmesan with my favorite simple pasta dish which I call parmesan pasta.  It’s light while still being filling and takes no longer than thirty minutes to make.

Ingredients:

1 cup of your favorite pasta shape (I used linguine)

1 cup of parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil your pasta.
  2. Set your heat to medium-high and drizzle a frying pan with your olive oil and add your cooked pasta to the pan.  Move the pasta around so all of it is covered by the olive oil.
  3. Add your garlic powder and ground pepper.
  4. Add a touch of your parmesan and stir through.
  5. Gradually, add more parmesan, stirring through each time.  Your goal is to get the pasta slightly crispy.
  6. Once you have the pasta at your desired crispy level, serve.

I hope you enjoy these recipes that have helped me feel at home no matter where I am.  They may not be my mom’s amazing recipes, but they are great quick meals that will be done within forty-five minutes of starting.