2019 Reflection & Looking Ahead…

Instagram Top Nine 2019

I was not initially planning on doing a 2019 recap post; however, when I reflect on the year, I realize how big this year has been for me. 2019 has been a HUGE year of growth for me both personally and professionally. A few highlights:

  • I received my first promotion as the Brand and Events Coordinator for the company I work for in March. With this promotion comes a LOT more responsibility and much more traveling for work, which is why I have not been able to dedicate as much time as I would have liked to the blog this year. I’m working on a way to even it out for the upcoming year, as I have a ton of content planned for 2020 already!
  • My boyfriend and I officially conquered long distance, and he moved home for good this spring.
  • In June, I took a girls’ trip to France with my mom, her best friend, and her daughter. We had the best time navigating the country traveling all around from Paris to Bayeux, Normandy to Avignon, and finally Nice and Monaco. I’m still sharing photos on my Instagram from this incredible trip. 
  • In July, Ry took me on a weekend getaway to Mackinac Island (I’ve always wanted to stay on the island). I also planned a successful destination joint bachelor/bachelorette party for my best friend and her husband.
  • In August, my best friend married the love of her life, and I had the honor of standing by her side as her maid of honor.

While this year brought about many highs, it was working through the lows that really taught me what I was capable of. 2019 also came with many tough lessons that have taken me years to acknowledge, but I will never forget. Between working hard and often, adjusting to no longer being long distance, reconnecting with old friends, this has been an overall fulfilling, successful year.

Key Takeaways

Not everyone wants you to be successful; in fact, most often have their own agenda. As someone who genuinely wants the best for others and will do anything to help them attain their goals, this was a hard pill for me to swallow. There were a number of times in my life where I’ve been burned from trusting people who I thought were helping me achieve my goals, but in reality, had their own selfish objectives at the forefront of their actions. Unfortunately, it took me this long to realize this. 

In addition, I learned not to take advice from people who are not on the same path as you. I’ve always referred to myself as a knowledge sponge willing to soak up any and all information and advice I possibly can. However, I learned that this can often waste time, brain space, and energy when it comes to attaining my goals.

Work-life balance. To be honest, I completely thought this was a myth in corporate America when I started my job. However, when I was consistently getting sick for the better part of Q3-Q4 this year, I realized that I’d be “on” all the time and had my work phone attached to my hip. It was then that I truly realized that I needed to set some boundaries, including turning my phone off and leaving it at home when I’m out on vacation and saying no when my plate is overflowing with responsibility. This is still a work in progress, but I am determined to have a healthier balance in my life.

Looking Ahead…

This is actually the first time I’m going into the new year with no idea of what lies ahead of me. I’ve always approached each new year with some pre-conceived notion of what’s to come. In 2020, I’m hoping to roll with the punches a bit more and tackle one challenge at a time. Ry and I are currently lining up our trips for the year, including my 26th birthday trip to Nashville! In regards to my career, I’m excited to return to work later this week with a rejuvenated mindset, ready to crush this year. In addition to my full-time job, I’m really looking forward to creating more content for the blog; whenever I found myself in a work-based funk this year, I realized it wasn’t because I was doing the creating that I was passionate about. Be on the watch for my 2020 goals coming soon!

Happy New Year!

-K.

20 Travel Tips: Italy Edition

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was on the trip of a lifetime in Italy! Following the trip last year, I did a recap post featuring photos and brief overview so as not to bore you all with the details. HOWEVER, if you so wish to hear more about the trip, feel free to comment or email, and I will be happy to share! 

In honor of this anniversary, and to spark my own nostalgia, I decided to put together a list of helpful travel tips for first-time travelers to Europe. I’m absolutely by no means an expert on the topic, this is simply what I learned on my first trip abroad. Prior to my trip I did a TON of research on things to know before traveling abroad, so I highly recommend you do as well.

  • Europe is full of history and each city has so much to experience, so don’t stress if you can’t visit absolutely everything you want to see. This is something I had a hard time accepting during my time in Italy especially being the type-A, history nerd that I am. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax (and see the world obviously), but you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re constantly stressing over where you’re going to go next.
  • Piggybacking off of the previous tip, don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, especially meals. At the beginning of each day, Ry and I would pick out the main attractions we wanted to see, and wander around the areas. You never know what you’ll find by simply exploring! We found some of our favorite restaurants on the trip by doing this.
  • Be sure to validate your train tickets prior to boarding. Our primary means of travel from city to city was by train. The vast majority of the time, we bought our tickets at the station; I’d read a few articles prior that stated Tren Italia’s website isn’t always reliable so it’s best to purchase directly at the station.
  • Carry a small, cross-body purse and keep it in front of you — Pick-pocketing is huge in the cities and they know a tourist when they see one.
  • If you’re looking for a quick, early meal, think again! Dinner in Italy generally takes place after 7 pm and is more relaxed than meals in the US.
  • Many churches and other religious sites require ladies to have their legs and shoulders covered when you enter.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to drink for free at the various water fountains sprinkled throughout Rome.
  •  Walk as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Watch out for scams such as people putting jewelry on your wrist, helping take your luggage off the train, asking you to sign petitions, etc.
  • Drink the house wine — it’s often cheaper, but still delicious!
  • Learn the language. You don’t have to be fluent (the locals don’t expect you to), but pick up a few general phrases that will help you out along the way. I used the free Duolingo app before I went, and it helped immensely.
  • When in Rome, visit the Trevi Fountain later in the day or at night, it’ll be way less crowded.
  • Don’t eat near a major landmark — the closer you are, the higher the prices.
  • Cappuccinos are a morning only drink in Italy.
  • Instead of a gondola ride, opt to climb to the top of San Marco’s Campanile in Venice for some incredible views.
  • Casa di Giulietta is what Verona is most famous for, but did you know that they have an Arena similar to the Colosseum where concerts and plays still take place? We had an amazing lunch at a cafe near the Arena and it was a stellar experience.
  • Don’t miss out on the opportunity to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. If you’re asthmatic (like myself) be sure to bring you’re inhaler – that’s 463 steps!
  • It is incredibly easy to get lost in Italy. Download a map (or carry a paper one) so you don’t have to rely on WiFi.
  • The pizza, pasta, wine and gelato are most definitely as good as everyone says they are. Definitely go all in on the food when you’re there; you’ll walk it all off during your visit!
  • Italy is truly a magical place to visit. Make sure you aren’t spending too much time behind the phone/camera, and take it all in!

If you have any questions or need recommendations, leave a comment or feel free to email me! Where are you headed next?

-K

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

Cheers to 5 Years: 5 Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging

I’m finally back from my two month hiatus! Truth is, it was much-needed for me to take a step back and focus on my full-time job and my mental and physical health, which I will be addressing in an upcoming post. Today I am celebrating something near and dear to my heart: this blog!

5 years ago yesterday, I started on a journey to enhance my writing skills on an outlet that I never knew would become such a passion of mine.  From the very beginning, I knew that this isn’t something I wanted to do for money or likes, but I wanted to do it because it was something that I genuinely enjoyed, and I desperately needed a creative outlet. I always thought, “if one person can read this, and take something away from it that makes them feel as though they’ve connected on some level with me, then I’m doing something right.” One of the beautiful things about blogging is that it’s a way of telling your story without any guidelines or having to stick to anyone else’s voice. The fact that I’ve always been able to be 100% authentic is what truly drives me to continue to blog.

TOP 5 LESSONS LEARNED IN 5 YEARS OF BLOGGING:

  1. There will be times when you need to take a step back from blogging, and that’s okay. Life can be really freaking hard sometimes and you owe it to yourself to keep your health in check. 
  2. Your writing, style and interests will evolve and change as you grow and learn. Let it happen.
  3. Quit comparing yourself to others; you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” to be a good blogger.
  4. Stay true to yourself — don’t try to be someone you’re not.
  5. People will be judgmental and have some not-so-nice things to say when you put yourself out there. Don’t let these people stop you from sharing your story and chasing your dreams.

BONUS LESSON

Always have kickass support system behind you. Unfortunately, your blog will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there are always those family members and friends that will be there to support your every blog and Instagram post regardless of how avant garde it can be. Make sure you keep these people in your circle forever.

Thank you so much for sharing in this journey with me these last five years, and for the steadfast support. I have some of the best followers ever!

Cheers to many more years!

– K

New Year, New Goals // 2018

New Year, New Goals // 2018

Happy New Year!

Every year I share my goals for the year with my readers as a means of holding myself accountable (see last year’s goals here).  At least once a month, I take a look back at the post to remind myself of my priorities and altar my strategy to reach my goals, if need be.

As you continue reading, you might notice that a lot of the goals are the same as last year’s. Why, you ask? The answer is quite simple – last year I failed to hold myself accountable or give myself the ability to measure my goals. Reflection on the pure laziness I exhibited last year lit a fire in me to be so much better than I was last year. So, here are my measurable, attainable goals for 2018:

  1. Work towards my goal of being fluent in another language by utilizing Duolingo at least 3 times a week – I used this app before my trip to Italy and it helped immensely. This time around, I will be using it to freshen up on my French!
  2. Explore a new place once a month – either local or out of town
  3. Be mindful of what I’m putting into my body, and log it daily
  4. Go AT LEAST an hour without technology a day
  5. Continue my education either through grad school or online courses
  6. Workout at least 5 times a week – I just started the Body Love app by Anna Victoria and, surprisingly, I actually love it! I’ve mentioned before that I loathe working out, but this time around, I’m actually looking forward to my workout for the day which is a HUGE improvement. I will be giving updates throughout my new fitness journey on my social media channels which are linked in the sidebar if you do not follow me already!

What are your goals for 2018? If we have similar goals, what are you doing to reach them?

-K.

25 Bucket List Destinations

Ever since I was little, I dreamt of seeing the world. I always knew that there was so much more than my little hometown, but it always seemed to be one of those places that was like a black hole – once people were here, they never left. Luckily, my parents have blessed my brothers and I with some amazing family vacations since a young age. Although, we were travelling in the US – with the occassional trip across the border to Canada –  I was so fascinated to see how different parts of the country lived. It’s amazing to see the beauty in every single state.

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Photo provided by Jessah of ReadyJessSet

 

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that this past April, I traveled out of the country for the first time. Let me tell you, I have been bitten by the wanderlust bug! I’m already planning some trips for the next year, and I cannot wait to share them with you, but, for now, here are 25 destinations I need to see in my lifetime (in no particular order)!

  1. Dublin, Ireland
  2. Edinburgh, Scotland
  3. London, England
  4. Paris, France
  5. Boston, Massachusetts
  6. Savannah, Georgia
  7. Charleston, South Carolina
  8. Santorini, Greece
  9. Casablanca, Morocco
  10. Bali, Indonesia
  11. St. Lucia
  12. Salem, Massachusetts
  13. Nashville, Tennessee
  14. Maui, Hawaii
  15. Nantucket, Massachusetts (okay so maybe I just want to see all of MA!)
  16. Newport, Rhode Island
  17. Positano, Italy
  18. Prague, Czech Republic
  19. Vienna, Austria
  20. Athens, Greece
  21. Madrid, Spain
  22. Berlin, Germany
  23. Zurich, Switzlerland
  24. Porto, Portugal
  25. Budapest, Hungary

Launching soon: ReadyJesSet a travel and lifestyle blog to fuel your wanderlust! Learn more about Jessah and her travels on Facebook and Instagram.

What is your must-see destination?

-K.

50 Ways to Practice Self Care

50 Ways to Practice Self Care

Self love is a huge buzzword lately. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently shared a post stating that I have always struggled with it. Once I reflected a bit on my post and thoughts about the topic, I really started to think about what things I currently do and what I could do to aid with my practice. I consulted some of my closest friends on ways that they cope with the bad days, and practice self care. Creating self love takes time, but practicing everyday helps to improve it little by little.

Here are 50 ways that my friends and I practice self care:

  1. Take a bubble bath
  2. Read a book
  3. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi
  4. Yoga
  5. Meditation
  6. Turn on some of your favorite music and have a solo dance party (or with your friends if you so choose)
  7. Light one of your favorite scented candles
  8. Unplug for at least an hour
  9. Go for a walk or run
  10. Do a hair or face mask (or both!)
  11. Splurge on that item you’ve been eye-ing to help amp up your wardrobe
  12. Ask for help from friends and family
  13. Write out your thoughts and feelings
  14. Focus your energy into a workout
  15. Clean and organize
  16. Watch one of your favorite movies
  17. Have a glass of wine
  18. Cuddle with your pet or a loved one
  19. Laugh – put on one of your favorite comedy movies or tv shows
  20. Stop comparing yourself to others
  21. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  22. Forgive yourself
  23. Remove toxic people from your life
  24. Go on an adventure to a place you’ve always wanted to visit
  25. Stop making excuses
  26. Search for the positives in every situation, regardless of how hard that may be
  27. Take an online (or in-person, if you prefer) class to expand your knowledge on a topic
  28. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you may be feeling, even cry if you need to
  29. Pray if it fits your beliefs
  30. Take a nap
  31. Indulge in a sweet treat
  32. Plan a girls’ night out with your best friends
  33. Eat healthy
  34. Get creative and try your hand at a Pinterest craft
  35. Have a night in with your SO
  36. Check an item off of your to do list that you’ve been avoiding
  37. Try something new be it an activity, recipe or restaurant
  38. Practice gratitude
  39. Bring the outdoors indoors and buy yourself some flowers or a house plant
  40. Get a massage
  41. Watch the sunset
  42. Recite positive affirmations to yourself
  43. Change up your look with a new hairdo or applying your makeup differently
  44. Play a relaxation Pandora station
  45. Cook a meal featuring your favorite comfort foods
  46. Be mindful
  47. Call a loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while
  48. Stop feeling guilty for taking some time for yourself
  49. Switch things up by creating a new routine
  50. Remember that you’re doing the best you can, and focus on your progress

 

Do you have some self care tips that didn’t make the list? Leave a comment below!

-K.

Fall Bucket List

Fall Bucket List

As I have mentioned numerous times throughout my blog, I LOVE FALL! There’s something about fall in Michigan that makes it feel magical: the changing leaves, brisk weather, comfy flannel, and cider and donuts, of course!

Because there are so many fun fall activities in Michigan, I narrowed my favorites down to the top 12 must-do’s this year!

1. Pick up some fall closet staples.png

What are some of your fall activities you are looking forward to?

-K.

Wedding Guest Dresses Under $100

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Wedding season is officially upon us, and is it just me or does it seem like everyone is getting married lately? The invitations are pouring in, gifts are being purchased, and (if you’re anything like me) you are struggling to find the perfect dress for the nuptials. However, the process of preparing for a wedding  – whether it’s your own, you’re standing up in said wedding, or you’re a guest – can cost a LOT of money.

According to a study by The Knot, a woman spends nearly $500 on average, while men spend about $700. This total includes not only apparel, but gifts, the bachelor/bachelorette party, travel and more. Holy moley!! The last thing you need is to spend a boatload of cash on new attire.

Now, there are a number of things to keep in mind while choosing a dress as a guest:

  • What the color scheme is — you don’t want to be matching the bridesmaids
  • The location of the wedding — if it’s in a church (depending on the religion) you may have to dress more conservatively; if it’s outside, you’ll want to take the weather into account
  • Never EVER wear white to a wedding as a guest unless the wedding invitation urges guests to wear all white for whatever reason

In my search for some new dresses, I’ve compiled a list of {appropriate} wedding guest dresses that won’t break the bank.

Lulu’s Make Me Move Maxi Dress

ASOS Boohoo Floral Plunge Neck Midi Skater Dress

ASOS PrettyLittleThing Ruffle Sleeve Maxi Dress

Nordstrom’s Soprano Lace Off the Shoulder Fit & Flare Dress

Francesca’s Tricia Crochet A-Line Dress

Nasty Gal’s Spring Affair Floral Midi Dress

Modcloth’s Camera Flash Finesse Wrap Dress

NOTE: There are also plenty of other options than buying a new dress, including renting one from a site such as Rent the Runway, borrowing, or simply wearing one you already have.

I’m still on the hunt for a few, so if you have any suggestions yourself, please feel free to reach out and let me know where you like to shop for dresses!

-K.

June Playlist

June Playlist

Thunder // Imagine Dragons

HUMBLE. // Kendrick Lamar

No Parachute // Aly Ryan

do re mi // Blackbear

Attention // Charlie Puth

Swish Swish // Katy Perry

2U (featuring Justin Bieber) // David Guetta

Tuttifrutti // Phoenix

Redbone // Childish Gambino

Album Spotlight: Halsey – hopeless fountain kingdom (Deluxe)

This month, I’m obsessing over Halsey‘s new album hopeless fountain kingdom. From the second that I started to listen to Prologue — which alludes to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet — I knew that I’d be listening to this album on repeat.

Give it a listen and let me know what you!

 

 

 

Keeping It Current

Life has been absolutely crazy since I’ve returned from my trip, but I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and catch you all up on some current happenings and obsessions.

Lush // Recently, I made two new purchases from the handmade, organic cosemetic store Lush – the Big Blue Bath Bomb and Cup O’Coffee face and body mask. I’ve previously tried a bath bomb and enjoyed it so I thought I’d try out another.

Big Blue promised a relaxing, oceanic experince; however, I somehow missed the fine print where it said there would be literal pieces of seaweed in the bathtub with you (see image below). If bathing with seaweed relaxes you, then this is right up your alley! As for me, tiny bits of the water plant give me anxiety so it wasn’t the best experience for me. Also, the cleaning of the seaweed was a pain; I don’t usually like to give the bath tub a good scrubbing after my soak, but I felt the need to after this one. I give it a 7/10 for the scent and the beautiful color it leaves the water.

As for the Cup O’Coffee face and body mask, a ton of bloggers I follow have raved about the product so I had to give it a try. I bought the smaller version as I have sensitive skin and am allergic to most things under the sun and, you guys, I’m obsessed! It smells amazing (if you like the smell of coffee), and makes my skin feel unbelievably smooth. The only thing I recommend is not using it before bed as it does have caffeine in it and will keep you up all night – trust me, I learned this the hard way.

The Skimm // I like to start off my mornings with a cup of coffee and The Skimm. Interested in staying up to date on current events without biased BS? Join me and the rest of the Skimm community by signing up here today!  It’s quick, easy, and super entertaining; I promise you won’t regret it!

Zara // Now onto my favorite latest obsession: Zara! Since there aren’t any that are close to where I live, I jumped on the chance to explore one of the stores in Florence while in Italy. Needless to say, I loved it and picked up the two tops featured in the photo above. Have I mentioned how much I love neutrals?

Game of Thrones // Last summer, I got hooked on Game of Thrones, but barely made it through the second season before life got hectic. Just the other night, I re-downloaded HBO Now so that I can finally watch it all the way through before the new season starts.

That’s all for me this week! What have you been up to?

-K.