Have you noticed, big retail brands such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are giving more online real estate to smaller brands? Boho and K Pop fashion are the latest trends. Department stores are competing with smaller online boutiques, making way for niche brands to display their products to high-end clientele!
Luckily, boutique websites are focused on the consumer and not the “high-end” markup! New York based boutique, bisouNYC partners with designer Aprajita Toor to bring unique Boho inspired shoes at Boho prices. Aprajita Toor is one of those rare finds that gets you really excited! Aprajita, the designer, has a clear understanding of global market trends and her shoes display just that. An added benefit is the shoes are ethically made, which means they apply fair labor and trade practices, and create sustainable jobs! #FUCKFASTFASHION
Seen here, the ‘Azra’ sandals and many other similar styles available on bisouNYC. They are on trend with Boho fashion and super cute paired with jeans or a summer dress. Did I mention they’re comfortable? I can’t express just HOW comfortable they really are and they’re only $80!
I get asked ALL the time what I buy from Costco because I’m there at a MINIMUM once a week. It’s the food version of Target for me. Everyone is at peace; I stock up on the essentials we need and the kids know the food court is part of the rotation – a win-win. I was a Costco-lover even before we had children because I found great pleasure in having a stockpile of toiletries and paper towels. I still have PTSD from running out of toilet paper in my house when I was growing up. I vowed that would never happen to me as an adult.
Costco also has a pretty strong selection of organic produce, meats and dairy. I’ve found that their produce lasts longer than the local grocers’.
So, without further ado, here are the top 10 items I purchase from Costco: Even if you don’t have a need for these items, it’s helpful to know that Costco carries them, and typically at a much better price than its competitors.
Pesto – delicious imported Italian basil pesto to put on pasta, wraps, chicken and quesadillas! This is the #1 preferred pasta topping in our home. It’s phenomenally quick and far from tastes like a two-ingredient meal. The kids devour and ask for seconds, without fail.
Kodiak Pancake mix – if you like to make pancakes or waffles, this mix is sent from the griddle gods themselves. It’s foolproof with its 1:1 water to mix ratio and it promises to deliver consistently fluffy results every time. And if that weren’t enough, this mix is packed with 14g of protein per serving and only contains the most natural of ingredients! (a gluten-free version is available on amazon). You can get creative with the mix, which if you ask me, is always the best part of making batter. And with this mix, you can get straight to the best part of mixing. I’ve added shredded coconut, sometimes chocolate chips and have even used buttermilk versus water when feeling especially deserving.
Sweet Kale salad – You never knew you liked brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and broccoli all in the same RAW salad until you’ve tried this prepared sweet kale salad. It comes with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and a poppyseed dressing, which I could eat by the spoonful. You can also make your own salad dressing and customize your toppings if you prefer, but for all of the shredding, dicing and chopping that goes into it, it can be an excellent base to your “homemade” salad.
Roti – These were an accidental discovery while trying to find uncooked tortillas. Amazingly fresh tasting, these bake in minutes if making large quantities or puff up in a frying pan (no oil needed). They are incredibly soft and can be used in lieu of tortillas. Try them with burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, wraps – their uses are endless and they taste fresh because they are!
Contigo Water Bottles – Costco carries a rotation of seasonal Contigo water bottles. Whether a 3-pack of BPA-free adult-sized water bottles, a double-pack of stainless steel water bottles, kid-sized bottles or thermal mugs, be sure to check your Costco’s inventory before purchasing online or from another retailer. I’ve found them to be significantly less expensive at Costco.
PT’s (Organic) Coffee – beautiful, robust coffee free of pesticides. Just grind up the beans before you leave (yes, Costco has a coffee grinder for our use) and you have an aromatic bag of caffeinated deliciousness ready for your machine or bullet-proof coffee!
Frozen Mango…. frozen cherries, frozen berries, frozen pineapples….Their frozen fruit selection is beyond amazing and super convenient if you like to make smoothies and yogurt parfaits, bake with fruit, or simply have fruit on hand. Do you want to peel mangos, work around the pit and chop them up into perfectly cubed pieces? One prophetic quote comes to mind: “ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!”.
Maple Syrup – Costco carries 1L of 100% pure Grade A maple syrup at a cost you can’t beat. If you know how maple syrup is sourced, you’ll have great appreciation for the value offered. We sweeten oatmeal, pancakes, even coffee with this delicious elixir.
La Croix – the Costco I frequent carries a 24ct. variety-pack of LaCroix. They also carry a solely lime flavored case. If you want to increase your water intake in a novel way, or if you’re trying to break your diet coke/coke habit, try La Croix. The can and tab opening mimics the cracking open of a carbonated sugary drink without all of the bad stuff.
Individual Hummus packs – these are amazing on-the-go snack items and a great source of protein for your kids’ school lunches. Pair with fresh vegetables, pretzel snaps or chips (all sold at Costco )
All this and I didn’t even touch on their selection of cheeses, but you have to go in person to be a believer. Whether shredded, sliced, hard, soft, in stick form, wheel form, or wedge form, keep Costco in mind when planning your next cheese board crowd pleaser.
Being an informed individual sometimes means facing difficult realities. Social media is a place that people turn for information, or at least it is for me. I like and follow pages on Facebook that give me the information I am looking for. There are times, though, that I am left speechless. The posts with happy endings always leave me with an extra skip in my step, but the ones that don’t, leave me with a feeling of lost hope and helplessness. In thinking of the latter, I realized we all have an immense potential to make a difference, no matter how large or small the scale.
There are two things that I think we all like to do; have a good time, and when possible do something for a good cause!
Chicks, it’s time to do things differently. We all love getting together with friends — it’s a chance to let our hair down, talk about that skinny mom on instagram, and have a glass of wine. Why not, party with purpose?Whether you think that doing charity is for the greater good or charity work is a self-fulfillment activity, either way — charity work is good. And doing it with your friends, wine, and chips and salsa (eh, eh?) is even better! Help do your part and be bigger than yourself with these fun ways
Sole Hope Party-
A great example of this, is to host a “Sole Hope” party. All attendees bring an old pair of jeans (God only knows how many I have laying around) and $10. You simply trace patterns provided by Sole Hope on your jeans and cut them. Once done the cut-outs are sent with the money to make shoes for children in Africa. How easy and purposeful….and all while hanging with the ones you care about and over a glass of wine! More information can be found at solehopeparty.org. Sole Hope is just one of so many ways we can give back. Since some of us simply can’t drop our lives to go first hand to make a difference, there are established and vetted organizations that can help do our part.
(Insert Your Charity of Choice) Fundraiser-
Educating guests on the work of an amazing charity while you are gathered is a great way to spread awareness and take a moment to share your connection to the organization. Do not overthink this!! Just gathering and collecting donations can be as passive or active as you want it to be. However, be clear in your invitation that it is your intention to collect donations while you party. Make it easy for your guests by either setting out a jar or by passing out envelopes to collect donations. I like to leave out some brochures for my guests to browse while we hang out. Check out Invitation Consultants for ways to ‘word’ your invitations.
Bunco For Babies-
Nothing like a game night to get the laughter and fun started. This old housewives gambling game is easy, quick, and fun. With very few materials, and little bit of wine your group of friends can have a lot of fun and do a whole lot of good a the same time. Consider a 50/50 buy in, charge $30 per person to play and then the winner takes 50% and the charity gets 50%. A little competition to kick off the weekend is a great way to party with purpose. Never played bunco before? No problem, get on the bandwagon today and learn here.
Holiday Toy Drive Party-
This is an easy idea and makes getting together during the holidays a little more joyous. Reach out to your local hospital or another local organization that serves children in your area to see what gifts are most needed by the children in your community. Once you have that list, when hosting ANYTHING during the holidays, ask that guests bring an unwrapped toy or book to the party to donate. In the past we have also requested an ‘Angel Tree’ from our local Salvation Army and asked that guests take a name on their way out.
So, when you plan your next get together, I urge you to think about a cause that is meaningful to you and incorporate it into the things that you are already doing. With these ideas, without a doubt, you will feel you’ve partied with a purpose!
Not so long ago, women would go to their neighbor’s houses to socialize. They might chat for hours, sitting around the kitchen table. There was an art to conversation, a give and take. People actually listened and learned from one another.
Today, things are much different. In our fast paced world that already doesn’t allow for “hours around the kitchen table”, too often we squander what little time we have left for our friends by texting other people when we’re supposed to be talking to the people we’re with!
We’ll text others who aren’t there and post selfies on Facebook/Instagram, etc., but are we able to fully enjoy ourselves in the moment if we’re doing that? Sure, humans are social animals and everyone wants to enjoy life to the fullest. But what does this behavior signify? Are we just trying to have fun with the most people all the time, even if we’re spreading ourselves too thin? Or are the reasons more difficult to face? Like maybe we’ve become uncomfortable with real people and our phones have become a crutch? Maybe we don’t have much to say, and we’re trying to hide our insecurity by showily engaging in private conversations with other people through our phone. Maybe we are trying to show off how popular we are. I ask you, do we really need to be distracted by every funny conversation that is texted to us, when we’re sitting with someone who took the time to actually show up to spend time with us?
This savvy chick says obsessively texting while with friends harms those friendships; and when done flagrantly, ostentatiously, or rudely, it displays shockingly bad manners as well.
This is not acceptable behavior! You’re better than that. Don’t you realize that always being available to text actually means that you’re not really doing anything else that’s interesting? Or, even worse, it might mean that you’re so easily distracted by novelties that you’re unable to hold a conversation as a mature adult. Admit it. The message that you’re actually sending to the world when you text while socializing with other people is that you’re immature, and unable to handle your social life like an adult should.
It’s clear that this technology is still new. With the advent of texting and social media, established communication etiquette has broken down. Yet, no one really seems to be speaking out against all this blatant rudeness that contravenes all the well-established social rules. It’s time we recognize that the novelty of smart phones has worn off. We need to reflect on how to comport ourselves when with friends in this age of ubiquitous smart phones, and come down on the side that honors the reality of human contact over the virtual reality of a phone. And we need to stop using the phone as an instrument of power over others. Forcing people to wait while you take pictures and text is impolite and self-important.
Of course, emergency texts are ok. The convenience of real time is nice. Recording a funny moment is too, but you don’t have to text it out right away to get the response you crave. Wait to do it later when you’re alone. Constant texting with friends and taking photos for social media should not be encouraged during social visits. Such behavior does not lead to meaningful interactions with the people you’re with, and may even lead people to resent your behavior.
In reality though, the problem is more complicated. It’s not just one person doing this when friends are together. The fact is everyone is doing it, and it seems to have led to an arms race to see who can do it the most. It seems to be a weird form of a popularity contest. No one wants to be the “uncool” one with no one to text with while they’re talking to someone else; reminiscent of the college days when having a drink or cigarette in hand signified relevance.
It’s become ridiculous. Given this dynamic, I’m not really sure how we’re going to fix this as a society. That’s the problem with arms races. It takes one person to take the first step. Yet, for many of us, it would feel awkward to ask someone to put their phone away when sitting down to talk. However, with someone you know, for whom the problem has persisted, perhaps you can take the first step by announcing “this is going to be a no-phone lunch”. Manners are the unspoken rules of behavior for civilized people.
However, you shouldn’t have to ask people to put down their phones, or even signal for them that they should do so. People should be expected to do that without asking. But try telling that to the worst offenders amongst your friends. Tell them their manners are atrocious. See how that goes over as you study their shocked faces!
We should be building meaningful relationships. By texting during a conversation, you’re missing out! Put down that phone! Not only are you hurting your friendships, you’re hurting yourself! Texting and too much social media creates a lonely place and a false reality! Start living again! Or at a minimum, let’s set an example for the next generation!
So let’s bring real communication back! Our happiness (and friends) will thank us.
A random Thursday night and I’m surrounded by a handful of talented, educated, intelligent women at the nearest Mexican restaurant, and I pause. What did each of us go through to get here tonight?
Each of us rushed out of the house at 8:30 — after putting the kids down to bed, of course. Each of us rushed out in a frenzy, feeling overwhelmed by the constant to-do list running through our minds. Each of us made sure that the kids’ lunch, backpack, and outfit for the next day were prepped and ready before heading out. Each of us parked our cars and immediately touched up our makeup — because we just didn’t have a moment to stop and take care of it before leaving the house as were already running late. Each of us dashed into the restaurant and collapsed into the others’ arms with a sigh of relief thinking “I’m finally here!”
Motherhood is our bond — but the need for surrounding ourselves with support is the bigger quest. You see, more often than not, we assume the person sitting across from us has it so much better OR doesn’t know what our day has been like OR has no idea what we have gone through to get here. We just assume that no one knows what our frustrations feel like. You know what they say about people that assume, right?
We each have a story and may not always go around showcasing it for the world to see. We all have the same level of stresses and drama — but they come in different forms. Oftentimes I’m told that I carry my anxiety, frenzy, drama very well; truth is, I don’t feel like airing my dirty laundry when I’m trying to have a great time. I choose not to rain on my own magical parade of enjoying a night out. I choose not to think about the craziness and drama when I’m out.
Our stories stem from who we are and what we do; we tend to label ourselves. The stay-at-home-mom, the part-time working mom, the full-time working mom. Why can’t we just be a “mom”? Society has us labeled and these labels come with some pretty nasty stereotypes. I know first hand, that as much as I would like to stay away from these stereotypes, they’ve crept up on me from time to time. The nasty stereotypes we’ve all heard like “it must be fun sitting around eating bon-bons all day” OR “the nanny mothers my kids better than my wife” OR “the mom, otherwise known as the maid.”
So many times I hear “gee, it must be nice…” — and I cringe waiting for what is to come after. Maybe what is to come will most likely sound like a back-handed compliment. Why do we naturally assume the woman sitting across from us has it so much better? It’s a societal view…what you see is what you get, right? Truth is, if I showed up looking like how I really feel, I would be a “hot mess.” I would be disheveled, sobbing with mascara running down my face, and most likely in my yoga pants from the day before.
So here I am, surrounded by these amazing group of ladies, taking in the funny stories of what little “Johnny” did at school, the stupid husband anecdotes, recipe exchanges, and book reviews. Did it matter that I folded laundry while watching Gilmore Girls reruns at 1:00 in the afternoon while the woman across from me was in a tense board meeting?
Who cares how she got here? Who cares if my day was worse than hers? Does it matter if I worked harder than anyone? NO. Let’s just be and diminish the societal views and focus on the fact that we are here in this moment. Who knows what each of us will have to deal with once we leave this restaurant? All we can do is enjoy this moment and take it in, one sip at a time.
Spring break isn’t only for college students! March is the perfect time to catch a short flight to trade in the snow for some sun. Winter blues deplete your energy making it difficult to stay focused. Making a quick getaway is the perfect way to get re-energized and refocused.
A great way to ensure you make the most of your time away is to pack efficiently. Avoid bulky items like coats and boots and opt for a carry on bag so you’re in and out of the airport quickly.
Here are some inexpensive transitional pieces to take you from the bitter cold to the sunny rays of.. the Caribbean?:
This duster is major goals! It’s chic and feminine and a great space saver. It’s just warm enough for the flight, and not as bulky as a winter coat.
Don’t miss out on the ’STRIDE’ shoe. It’s the ultimate casual heel – comfortable enough to take you from the airport to your hotel and back again. It doesn’t hurt to show off your polished toes either.
Leave the tote at home and opt for a cute backpack. It’s a trendy accessory and the weight is balanced on both shoulders so you can explore longer.
Lastly, mix in a little sporty to keep it fun and casual – all you need is a cap. It’ll keep your head warm in the cold and keep your face protected in the sun.
This whole outfit is so affordable and cute with versatile pieces that you can use over and over again during your trip! Be sure to share your travel staples with us on Facebook!
Finally…weather we can enjoy! After hosting indoors for the last six months, this Spring weather starts giving us the bug to get our friends together and host an outdoor cocktail party. When it comes to hosting, it doesn’t matter if there are 6 people coming over or 26 there are a few easy things that you can do to get the good vibes flowing and host a fun party. Hosting outdoors can be tricky without the convenience of the kitchen nearby; plus, there is always the chance that the mosquitoes may be hungry too! So, here are a few things to help set the mood and create a perfect (stress free!) evening.
Plan Ahead – With us, food and liquor are everything. If you can get those two things right, then everything else seems to fall into place. If possible, cater. If not…it’s time to run out to Costco and round up about half dozen finger foods. Some of our favorites include: Meatballs on toothpicks, Veggies in Ranch (served up in a shot glass), Organic Tortilla Chips and Salsa (duh!), Pita and Hummus, and Samosas with Chutney are our usual go-to’s. Sonia’s favorite is a Caprese Salad, either layered or on a toothpick. Creating a bar menu can also be super cute, see how we make an authentic and memorableSexy Sangria that you can make ahead of time.
Set the Mood – Often times, setting the tone outdoors with good lighting is key. Fireside is always a good look but if you can pair it up with these super affordable bulb lights, it’s just picture perfect. After the general ambiance has been set, set the table. On occasion we rent printed table cloths from a local party rental shop, but for the most part, over the years, we have accumulated a collection of tablecloths of our own and we share them. We don’t look too far for centerpieces and gather decor from around the house to create an eclectic and romantic atmosphere. In the spring, we cut fresh blooming sprigs from bushes around the house and stick them in vases and in the fall we utilize sticks from our trees to create a really beautiful rustic look to dress up a table. Little table accents and a quick tablecloth can take your dinner or cocktail party to another level.
Use the Fancy Dishes – Ok, ok, hear me out: for more intimate gatherings of 10 people or less, we are thrilled to have the opportunity bring out the wedding china that never gets used. BUT, for an outdoor party, these amazing faux china dishes are our go-to. Guests feel terrible throwing these away every single time. Don’t feel too bad when you use these – they are easy and disposable. And no dish washing required. Get we get an AMEN?
Don’t Forget the Music – It took us a few times to figure out what exactly was missing the first couple of times I hosted at our new house….then it dawned on us: MUSIC! With the pool in the backyard, it was hard to hear using portable speakers like the Beats Pill. They just did not seem good enough. After a little trial and error, we installed some outdoor blue tooth speakers create ambient sound even when the pool is on. It’s amazing how music can make people more fun and relaxed. Fast music makes people move quicker, talk faster and be more energetic; more instrumental music in the background creates a more laid-back environment. Pandora has entire playlists for dinner parties, our personal go to is Tropical Lounge. Figure out what you are going for and round out the party with the right music.
Check the Weather – Now this may seem obvious but having an alternate plan or a rain date are a must unless you are great on the fly — in which case, you don’t even need this post! If you are like us and love the outdoors, it can be disappointing to bring the party inside. Consider setting a rain date, I know it can be inconvenient, but unfortunately that is the risk you take when you planned for the gathering in the first place.
Consider Unwanted Guests – If it is seasonal for mosquitoes to be out, be prepared. Use candles. we recently went to a party where the host put out repellant braceletsfor guests to use. That way, if the guests are having a problem with bugs, they can slap on a bracelet that gives them bug protection wherever they go — they don’t have to be limited to the scope of a candle.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST – Be present, people came to see you!! I know you want to make sure that the food is still hot and that everyone knows where the restroom is, but grab a glass of wine. Throw on a smile and hang out with your friends. It’s supposed to be fun and, with the right kind of planning, it can and should be fun for the host too.
Dewy and fresh skin requires serious hydration. It’s time to begin the transformation from dull and dry, to hydrated and glowing!
As your wardrobe changes each season, your skincare should change as well. Would you wear a wool sweater in the summer? Essential skincare begins with finding a moisturizer that works for your skin type.
For Oily Skin:
It’s important to use a moisturizer that is oil free or has some oil control. Being dewy does not mean looking greasy! An oil free moisturizer will help control any of the excess oil your skin produces during the warmer climate. A favorite for my clients with oily skin is Kate Somerville’s Oil Free Moisturizer.
For Dry Skin:
Try a face cream that is hydrating and works best to plump up fine lines and wrinkles, however, use only a nickel size for the entire face. You will be adding additional layers of moisture as you add texture onto your skin from skincare to makeup. Try out LaMer’s Soft Moisturizing Cream for that radiant look!
Once your skin is prepped and ready, apply a tinted moisturizer. One of the best tinted moisturizers on the market is Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer. This gives your skin the perfect amount of coverage with a beautiful finish and works for all skin types. It doesn’t hurt that it has SPF! Applying tinted moisturizer with a makeup brush means your application will have no wasted product in comparison with other makeup tools such as a Beauty Blender or sponge which can soak up too much liquid. A translucent powder (again Laura Mercier makes a great one) can counteract any shine, applied with a brush lightly to your t-zone. To finish, a bronzer swept across the forehead, cheeks, nose and chin will result is an effortless way to add a sun-touched glow. Add a pop of color on the cheeks, such as Tawny by Bobbi Brown, and 2-3 coats of mascara. Lip balm, and light handed touch of bronzy eyeshadow such as Charlotte Tilbury Marie Antoinette will have you ready, set glow in no time!