November 7, 2017

Sephora VIB Sale

So how did everyone use their extra hour this weekend? Mine was spent sleeping aka recovering from a little cold and another Penn State loss. And don't even get me started on the crap that is the AP Poll! I'm interested to see what the committee brings us tonight with the updated playoff rankings.

In better news, I placed my Sephora order for the VIB Rouge sale that ended last night. I'm so excited to try some new products and replenish my stash of favorites. I kept thinks under control this year, as I'm still trying to work my way through all of the sample-size products I already own and stay on a budget. Here are my four must-haves and one wildcard purchase that should be arriving on my doorstep this week:

1 // Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Primer
A must for my disgustingly dry skin. I love the light, fresh scent and it helps my concealer stay on all day, which is also a must.

2 // Caudalie Grape Water
Again with the dry skin! I discovered this in a Sephora skincare sampler last fall, and I can't get enough. I keep it in my desk at work and spritz it all over my face and then bounce a beautyblender all over to pat it in. 

3 // Sol de Janiero Bum Bum Cream
Does this really tighten up skin? Who cares! It smells like the most incredible beach vacation and never fails to make me smile when it's cold and dark outside.

4 // Shiseido Cotton Pads
The first time I saw someone post about these I'm pretty sure I thought "Are you joking?! Ten dollars for cotton pads?" but they're so worth the money. One pad can remove my eye makeup or nail polish and they don't come apart in wispy little strips of cotton. And they're so soft!

5 // Kora Organics Daily Ritual
What is a sale for if not for trying something new? This organic brand by Miranda Kerr sparked my interest, so I put it in my cart to try. It contains a cleanser, moisturizer and spray. Here's to hoping it's a good purchase!

So that's what I picked up, plus a few holiday gifts which I can't share because I don't want to ruin any surprises ;) 

November 3, 2017

Five on Friday | tv, clothing, makeup, oh my!

Happy Friday, friends! This week has been a really rough one; work has been crazy and I'm SO GLAD we are so close to the weekend. Maybe it'll arrive faster if I hurry up and get along with my five on friday? Let's give it a try!

1 // Below Deck

So we don't have cable, but I did download the Bravo app and have been bingeing episodes of Below Deck. I was never really into this show back when we did have cable, but I'm borderline obsessed with Kate, the chief stew from the show. Her clapbacks are hilarious, and based on my creeping on her twitter, she does some amazing volunteer work. I need to be her friend!

2 // Sephora VIB Rouge Sale

It's that time of year, aka the day I spend all of my money at Sephora's VIB Rouge sale. I typically shop at Ulta because they have a much better rewards program, but there are a handful of items that are only available at Sephora so I'm filling up my cart today. I'll report back with what I got when it arrives!

3 // Le Tote

I'm still loving my rental clothing subscription with Le Tote. My clothing options have been killing it lately and I'm so tempted to keep everything they send. But where's the fun in that, right? I've got the schedule locked down so that I can maximize the number of totes I get each month. If you'd like your first tote free, please feel free to use my referral link {here}

4 // Fall Back

It's almost here! I cannot wait to go to work in the DAYLIGHT next week instead of the depressing darkness. Yes, I know it will be dark earlier, but it's so much easier to wake up and drive to work when the sun is up. And an extra hour of sleep never hurts ;) 

5 // Penn State!

The battle of the land grant universities! Tomorrow #7 Penn State takes on #24 Michigan State in East Lansing. I'll be watching the game at the Vineyard at Hershey at the Junior League's tailgate fundraiser. Penn State football, friends, and wine...if Penn State wins, it will be the perfect Saturday!

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend - I'm counting down the minutes until I'm out of the office and relaxing. Cheers!

October 17, 2017

How to Pack Like a Flight Attendant

Hello from Phoenix! I'm traveling for work for a few days while my husband holds down the fort at home. I'm excited to be visiting a city where I've never traveled before, even if most of my day is spent in meetings ;) I do love my job though, I promise!

For those who may not know, I used to be a flight attendant. I hung up my uniform a few years ago, but during my time in the air, hotels, and at the airport, I learned quite a bit about efficient packing. When getting ready for my trip to Arizona, I recalled some of my favorite tips and tricks, and thought I would finally share them here! Without further ado, here are my best crewmember packing tips:

1 // Buy a quality suitcase

I've touched on this in a previous post, but I stand by my statement. My Travelpro Crew3 is still working perfectly, fits FAA and European guidelines for cabin baggage status, and fits everything I need. If you're a frequent traveler, just spend the money on quality luggage and step away from what you find at Marshalls!

2 // Roll, roll, roll

Undoubtedly, you've heard this one before! I roll all of my camisoles, pajamas, t-shirts, leggings, and any workout clothing and line the bottom of my suitcase with them. They help to fill the gaps and create a flat surface for all of my other goods.

3 // Don't sort by category

Specifically, don't sort your toiletries in the order in which you use them, but sort by what needs to go in your liquids baggie, what you don't need to access upon arrival at your destination, and what can be tucked into shoes or side pockets. I save up all of my Sephora samples for traveling these days (boy, sometimes I do miss being an FA and being able to take my full-size shampoo through security!) and tuck them in the side pocket of my suitcase. My non-liquid makeup (mascara, setting powder, blush, brushes, etc) get packed in a cosmetics case and added to the top of my suitcase, and my liquids stay in my purse for easy access at TSA.

4 // Heavy stuff on the left

If you lay out your suitcase like I do when packing - wheels on the left, handle on the right - you'll want to put your heaviest items on the left side. This includes denim, books, toiletries, and shoes. If you put your heavy items on the right, your bag will become top-heavy and tip over every time you let go. Balancing out the items in your suitcase is a simple trick that makes a big difference when you're rolling it behind you and standing in the long checkpoint lines!

5 // Remember your passport, phone, and a credit card

This is my best tip - do not get too worked up about fitting everything in your suitcase. Don't lose sleep over making list after list. If you have your passport (or other appropriate photo ID), a credit card, and your phone, you can get on your flight and purchase what you need at the other end. Of course, I don't recommend leaving everything behind, but it gives me such peace of mind to know that if I have the essentials, I can make everything else work. 

So that's all I have for now! Of course, some of those tips are common sense, but sometimes it helps to see them written out in front of you. I plan on updating this list even more when Jason and I travel to Europe in 2018, so if you have any good ideas to share, let me know! 

October 13, 2017

Five on Friday | Birthday Edition

Happy Friday! Oh my gosh, I didn't even realize today was Friday the 13th. Should I be superstitious? I'm not really, but I definitely took note of the date when I was getting ready to post!

In honor of wrapping up my birthday week, I'm sharing five things I accomplished while I was 32. I certainly don't want to come across as bragging, but I do want to share what I'm excited about. Linking up with Five on Friday, as usual!

1 // Found an exercise I love

Last December, I took my very first indoor cycling class. I was nervous, certain I would pass out, and not looking forward to it. Much to my surprise, I decided I loved it and I've stuck with it for the past ten months! I even went out and purchased fancy clip-in cycling shoes, so I'm pretty sure I'm legit now. ;)

2 // Got healthier

In the past month, I've lost a little over ten pounds, and I'm excited to keep moving forward with getting healthier. I'm more conscious of what I'm eating, and while I still indulge in pizza and Chick fil A, I'm already feeling so much better. If you're wondering, I've been following Weight Watchers, and yes, it works.

3 // Visited a new city

Last December I traveled to Seattle for Christmas to visit my husband's family. While I didn't get to explore as much of the city as I would have liked, it was a fun - but short - trip to a new part of the country. I can't wait to go back!

4 // Hit my stride at work

Right before I turned 32 I started a new job (with the same company) and immediately knew I found something that was a great fit for me. Things at work got even better when I was given a new focus area, and despite some growing pains, I'm still more than happy to go to work in the morning. I chalk most of that up to my absolutely amazing bosses, and I strive to be more like them each day. 

5 // Found a skincare routine that works

Does this sound silly? Probably. But anyone who knows me knows that I have crazy sensitive skin and frequently break out in a rash when I try new products. I've been more consistent about creating a skincare routine that is easy, but most importantly works for me. Sharing it on my blog is on my to-do list!

Here's to hoping I can accomplish even more while I'm 33! Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

October 11, 2017

Happy Birthday | I'm 33!

Happy 33rd birthday to me! Sometimes, when I'm just going about my day, I cannot believe I'm in my thirties. It seems like just last week I was celebrating my 18th birthday and going to my senior homecoming dance! I'm excited and happy to be happy & healthy as I start my next trip around the sun. Here’s to the next 33!

October 9, 2017

Weekending | October 6,7,8

What a relaxing weekend! For only the second time since the college football season began, I spent my entire weekend near home and just catching up on everything. Don't get me wrong, I love going to State College to watch PSU play, but there's something to be said for watching the game on television while sipping on my second third cup of Saturday morning coffee.  

Penn State's game took off in the second half and the Lions had things locked down, so I turned my attention to the Iowa State/Oklahoma state game just in time to see the #3 Sooners lose to an unranked Iowa State. I promise I'm not gloating about the OK loss, but I'm so stinking excited to see Penn State to move up  in the rankings after their win! 

My sister and her husband made the trip out to Evanston for the game and Jason was working, so I was home with all three dogs all weekend, which was quite the adventure. They all get along well, but they're not used to being with one another for four days in a row! I'm also not strong enough to handle all three of them on a walk, so we were stuck playing indoors or in the yard, which was the perfect way for me to be lazy, but I think they were over the confined area pretty quickly.

I did a mini-haul at Ulta on Saturday, too, because I wanted to use up some of the reward dollars that have been hanging out in my account for the last year or so. I've been hoarding the reward points because I'm making an effort to use what makeup I already have, but I started to realize that a lot of the makeup I currently use is either the wrong shade for my skin, too sparkly/shimmery, or too old and in need of being binned. 

Sunday brought a very early wake up call to help with a Junior League storage unit clean out. Certainly not my favorite way to spend an early weekend morning, but I treated myself to some Dunkin' and made the most of it. Now that we are organized, hopefully we won't have to go through this again!

Sunday was also spent running unexciting errands, playing with the doggies, and organizing my Pinterest boards. Yes, I'm still on the obsessive Pinterest train and I want my boards to look pretty! I created board covers using a free-use background and, and I think they turned out well. I still have quite a few more to do, but check them out on my Pinterest account

This week brings one of my most favorite days of the year - my birthday! I'll be 33 on Wednesday, and surprisingly, I have no problems with being a year older and a year wiser. It's also my niece's birthday, as well. How cool is it to share a birthday with your first and oldest niece? I love it! 

I actually don't have many plans for the week, no meetings or crazy obligations, so perhaps I'll finally put to use all of those pins on Pinterest that instruct me on how to paint my bedroom, organize my cabinets, and purge my old makeup. Hey, at least I'm already started on the makeup front, right!? 

September 29, 2017

Five on Friday | Birthday Wish List

It's almost October, which means it's almost my birthday! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to celebrate birthdays, regardless of age. Of course I'm always happy to spend time with my family, eat a slice of cake (or two), and spend time relaxing. However, I'm always open to gifts ;)

I always have a running list of items I want to add to my closet / makeup bag / purse, but sometimes I find it hard to splurge on fun new things when there are bills to be paid and dogs to be spoiled. Needless to say, I certainly wouldn't mind unwrapping any of these pretties on the 11th!

1 // Penn State Rose Bowl T-shirt
Because lets be real, one can't have enough PSU shirts, especially when there are lots and lots of home games to go to and tailgate parties to attend!

2 // Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream
So I've never actually tried this, but all of the reviews, tips, and tricks can't be wrong. Check out this article from Elle UK about it!

3 // Cuyana Leather Tote
I've been looking at these for years, and I probably have it pinned six different times on my Pinterest account! A pretty bag that looks professional, yet fits all of my stuff would be a dream come true, I'm sure!

4 // NYDJ Ami Skinny Jeans
I talked last week about how much I love these jeans, and I'm looking to pick up a black pair. Seriously, they are the most comfortable jeans I own and I'm ready to throw away all of my other denim in favor of only these from here on out!

5 // Kevyn Aucoin Making Faces Beauty Book
How gorgeous is this makeup palette? I spend waaayyy too much time visiting the Sephora website, and I came across this pretty on the section holiday gift sets (too soon, though, amirite?). It's so perfect for stashing in my purse - or perhaps my new Cuyana tote?!

This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through the links provided, I may make a small (teeny tiny) commission. Thank you!

September 22, 2017

Five on Friday | Pinterest, Clothing, Essential Oils

Happy Friday! We made it through another week and I think that calls for a celebration, right? So to celebrate, I'm linking up with Five on Friday to share what I'm loving right now.

1 // Pinterest
That's right, I'm back on the Pinterest wagon. Although, to be honest, was I ever really off of it? I had some kind of resurgence and organized my boards, so now I'm able to actually find all of those delicious-looking meal ideas and closet cleaning hacks when I need them. PS - come follow me on Pinterest!

2 // The Limited
Guys! The Limited is coming back! Online, I think. My boss sent me a snap of the website where it says "Coming Soon" and I'm so excited! My most favorite work pants all come from there, and I was so bummed when all of the stores shuttered, but hopefully I'll be able to stock up again soon!

3 // Essential Oils
So, I think I'm on the EO bandwagon now. I love diffusing peppermint or orange in my office, I swear it helps keep me awake and able to concentrate. Plus, all of my coworkers always comment on how nice my office smells. What are some other good scents to diffuse?

So I ordered these back during the Nordstrom anniversary sale, and they have quickly become my new favorite jeans. They have just the right amount of stretch, look great with sandals or boots, and are the most perfect jeans for casual Friday at work. 

5 // Weekend!
Enough said! This is the first weekend in quite a few that I have absolutely zero plans and I'm not even sure what to do with myself. I imagine there will be lots of reading, walks with Kinsey and probably more Pinteresting ;) What's everyone else up to this weekend?

September 20, 2017

Planners | ECLP, ELSP, Lilly and Plum Paper

I've always been the type of person who needs to write everything down to remember it, so planners have been my jam for a while. I try to use my iCal to input appointments when I'm out and I've been getting better about using my Outlook calendar at work, but in the end, I do much better with a paper planner that I can write everything down in.

For 2017, I've been using an Erin Condren Life Planner - the vertical hourly layout. It's been good to me, but I've come to realize that the hourly layout isn't the best fit for my lifestyle. I fully admit that I do love the stickers and decorating my monthly and weekly layouts on this planner, though. It adds a little more excitement to my weekly allergy shot appointment notes and conference call reminders!

Prior to that, I used the Emily Ley Simplified Planner which was just too much space for me. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? Too much space! But it's true, and it also features and hourly layout that doesn't always work with my schedule. And if we're being completely honest, I'm so glad I paid half price for my 2016 SP. It just didn't seem worth the exorbitant $58 price tag, plus shipping. 

In 2015 I used a Lilly Pulitzer planner, which was so pretty and colorful but lacked the space that I need on the calendar pages and on the weekly inside pages. It would've been great to have in college, though!

For 2018, I'm leaning toward purchasing a Plum Paper planner. They're very customizable, and I'm really fond of their horizontal weekly layout with notes page. Plenty of space for my to-do lists, ideas, and keeping track of random things I'll need to remember later. There are also lots of options for covers and naturally I'm leaning towards one that is navy + white! Plus, the prices of the PPP are completely reasonable at $32. 

Has anyone used a Plum Paper planner? Would you recommend it? I'm reealllly tempted to buy it as a birthday gift to myself, so I'd love to hear some reviews!

September 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Kinsey!

Happy 3rd birthday to my most special, most wonderful, most perfect little dog! I can't imagine our lives without her drippy water face, crazy zoomies, and need to be touching one of us all the time. She can be terrible, that's for sure, but I love her all the same. She's sleeping right next to me as I type this and I'm so glad she's mine!

To celebrate, we're having a little pawty this weekend with her dog friends! My mom is making doc ice cream and there will be plenty of cake for the humans, too. Before that, though, it's time for our third PSU game this month! Penn State takes on Georgia State tomorrow night under the lights and I can't wait to spend the day in State College again. It's going to be such a fun weekend - what do you have planned?

September 13, 2017

Where in the World ...

... Should I go on vacation? I haven't taken a single vacation day yet this year (by choice!), and I'm really feeling the urge to start planning a trip. I'm lucky enough that my employer has gifted me (and all of the other employees) with two free round-trip tickets to anywhere that American Airlines flies. I'm so thankful and and so excited to have the opportunity to put those two tickets to good use for an amazing trip, but I cannot decide where I want to go! 

Some of my top vacation destination dreams right now are:

Australia / British Columbia / New Zealand / The Netherlands / Greece / Hong Kong

I honestly cannot decide where I want to go and what I want to do! I have until the end of next year to use my tickets, so I have a little bit of time to think about it. But with this itch to travel soon, I should probably get planning now! Any recommendations of a place that is an absolute must visit? Let me know! 

September 11, 2017


Oh my gosh, this past weekend just flew by! I'm guessing it's because last Monday was a holiday, but wow, I feel like I went from Friday night to Sunday night with the snap of my fingers. Why can't a trans-continental flight seem to go that fast? 

Anyway, my fast weekend was quite a good one! Friday night, my dad and I took the poodles on a nice walk to exhaust them as best we could. Kinsey spent the night at my parents' that night because Saturday morning I was up bright and early to head to State College for the Penn State game with Anna, Dan and my friend Kim! It was the most perfect day for a football game in Central PA, so we wanted to be sure to have plenty of time to tailgate before kickoff. We played charades (yes, really), grilled, mixed drinks and had so much fun before we even headed in to the stadium.

Kim is always such a good sport about coming to Penn State games with us (this was her third year in a row!) so of course I had to invite her to come to the game vs her alma mater, Pitt, on Saturday. Fortunately for us PSU fans, we managed a pretty convincing win this year and are sitting pretty at #5 on the AP poll! 

Sunday was another absolutely beautiful day and all I wanted to do was go out to lunch somewhere that had a patio. I threw out the suggestion to Jason, Anna, Dan and my dad and we all ended up having a great lunch outside while occasionally checking out the NFL scores on all of the outdoor TVs. I've been trying to eat much healthier lately, so having an amazing vanilla porter beer and a perfectly made panini with a few fries was the most perfect splurge. It was just too nice to be indoors, so I spent plenty of time playing with Kinsey in the yard, too. 

This week is shaping up to be a busy one - catching up on some work, three Junior League meetings and finally getting my act together to take some clothing to consignment! 

September 7, 2017

5 Books to Read This Fall

Well, hello again! Is anyone still out there? Regardless, it's time for a few more book reviews! Even though the pools are now closed and vacation time is dwindling, there's still plenty of time for reading! Here's what I've recently read, in no particular order.

5 books to read this fall | line up and wait blog

June by Beverly Miranda Whitmore
(disclosure: this book was given to me for review by
The premise of this book sound so promising - a modern-day, down-on-her-luck girl named Cassie Danvers is shocked when she is told that she is heir to a fortune of the late, great Jack Montgomery, famous actor. Cassie can hardly believe it, and nor can Jack's famous-in-her-own-right daughter, Tate, who heads to Cassie's crumbling Ohio home to get a DNA test, prove they're not related, and take the money that's rightly hers. But why does Cassie get everything? Because Jack states in his will that Cassie's grandmother June was the one true love of his life, and that Cassie is also his grandchild. Phew! Affairs and old Hollywood glamour? That's what drew me in! What I didn't like as much much were the flashback chapters told by Lindie, June's neighbor. I loved the description of the 1950s movie set, but I didn't love it from Lindie's perspective. It's hard for me to even describe why this story was hard for me to get in to - the fact that it was just a little too far-fetched, the personification of Two Oaks, the home June grew up in and where Cassie is currently living...I just don't know. I feel like I'm probably an anomaly here, though, because Whitmore's other novel, Bittersweet, was so much better. Borrow this one from the library, or if you'd like, leave a comment below and I'll send you my copy!
American War by Omar El Akkad
Wow. This story takes place in the midst of America's Second Civil War. Yes, another war between north and south, this time over the use of fossil fuels. The landscape is vastly different than we see it today; the coastal cities (New Orleans, Charleston, most of Florida) we love are all gone. The protagonist Sarat Chestnut and her family are forced to flee their home for a new life in a refugee camp, filled with Southerners who have many different beliefs. This novel was rough to read, because although dystopian, there's more that rings possible than in other fiction I've recently read. Climate change is real, people, and we need to start doing something about it so that in 2080, our children's lives aren't like Sarat's. Okay, off of my soapbox. But read this one. You'll grit your teeth and cringe, but read it.
The Passenger by Liza Lutz
A thriller, something that I usually read a lot more of! This one follows Tanya Dubois as she crisscrosses the country after the death of her husband, shedding one ID after another. I can't even call the protagonist Tanya, because she's constantly changing her name and identity in an effort to stay one step ahead of the past that haunts her. But why can't she go back home and start over? This was a pretty easy read and I finished it quickly because I needed to know how Tanya ended up. I recommend this if you're looking for a quick psychological thriller.
The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter
So when I picked up this book, I didn't realize that it's part of a series by Slaughter. I loved Pretty Girls, so when I saw this one at the library, it came home with me immediately! Despite the fact that I haven't read any of her other detective Will Trent novels, I dove into this one. It can be a stand alone book and it has the same twists, turns, violence and mindf*ckery as Pretty Girls. But because I don't know where this novel fits on the spectrum of the other Will Trent novels, I'm going to pick up the first one and give them a chance as the series they are meant to be. It doesn't feel fair to give a little plot summary or real review until I check out some of the others!
When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mahew Whalen
(disclosure: I received this book from netgalley for review and it is scheduled for release on 9/12/17)
This story takes place in the small southern town of Worthy, where football rules and the community attends church each Sunday. One moment in time rips the community apart when three high school cheerleaders are killed after their car is hit by another high school student's. Equal parts heartbreaking and mysterious, the story is told in alternating voices by those left behind: the girls' parents, a teacher, and Leah, the cheerleader who should have been in the car with them. With so many voices telling the story, I was left trying to piece together exactly who was to be trusted and why Leah wasn't in the car with them that night. This book was more emotional than I expected, and left me shocked at the end.
Next up, I'm expecting Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker to arrive in my mailbox soon! It's from Book of the Month, which I'm still loving and highly, highly recommend. If you're interested in signing up to choose one of five new hardcover books to be delivered each month, you can do so {here} using my affiliate link to get your first month for $9.99!

I've also been in to natural beauty/skincare type books (I recently finished Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore and loved it), so if you any good natural beauty books to read, please let me know! Until next time, friends!

April 28, 2017

Five on Friday | LBDI

We made it to Friday! Which means today is my last day wearing my little black dress as part of the Junior League of Harrisburg’s Little Black Dress Initiative. Quick background: the LBDI is a week-long fundraising and awareness campaign where JLH members commit to wearing the same black dress for five workdays to start conversations about and raise money for our organization’s focus, which currently is breaking the cycle of poverty. To learn more about this campaign, check out my personal fundraiser page, and to learn more about JLH, check out our website.

It’s been an interesting week, and I’m joining up for Five on Friday to share five things I’ve learned throughout this event:

1 // Wearing the same black dress for five days was limiting, but not in the way I thought. To be honest, most of my coworkers didn’t even realize I had the same dress on every day this week. It didn’t limit my confidence at work, which I had a concern that it might, but it did make me more careful with my time in the evening. I thought that having a pared-down wardrobe for the week would make getting dressed a breeze, but I had to put more thought into my accessories, plan my laundry so that my dress had time to air-dry before work the next morning, and be extra careful not to spill my coffee on it every morning!  

2 // I put a lot more thought into spending money. Leading up to LBDI week, Junior League members took place in an exercise where we planned a monthly budget based on poverty-level wages. While I’m not trying to appropriate anyone’s lifestyle, it was a good reminder that there are some very tough choices that some of our friends and neighbors have to make every day. Do I really need to order in lunch or buy a new pair of shoes to wear with my LBD, or would that money better be used donating to my own campaign? Exactly. I’m always on a budget, but this week, I tried to be as strict as possible.

3 // People surprised me. A friend from high school admitted to me that she thought Junior League was just another group of snobby women who get together, but after reading Wednesday’s post, her mind was changed and she made a donation to the campaign. If I can help just one person learn more about what we do with JLH, I’ve accomplished something. I’m learning to speak clearly and cohesively about JLH’s mission and why we do what we do, which is a goal I’ve set for myself.  

4 // Checking privilege isn’t always easy to do, but it’s something that must be done. I know that the phrase “check your privilege” is pretty buzzy these days, but it’s something that many of us need to learn to do. To live one week wearing the same dress is one thing, but to be sensitive to and accepting of the struggles that some people live with every day takes education and practice. The Junior League of Harrisburg has been discussing participating a sensitivity training offered by one of our community partners, and I hope it’s something we get to do. I think it would be such a great learning experience and so useful in how we interact with those around us.

5 // My family is so supportive and came through right away. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t meet my fundraising for this goal, but I’m so happy to share that I reached my $250 goal on the very first day due to the generosity of my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and husband. Having people who support my efforts and what I do makes me so thankful and so happy. While I’ve met my goal, JLH is still a little bit shy of our overall goal and I would be so, so appreciative if you would like to join me in donating {here}.

Despite my reservations, I’m so glad I participated in this year’s Little Black Dress Initiative. I learned quite a bit about myself, about my community, and stepped out of my comfort zone. A lot of work went in to planning this event, and I’m thankful to everyone who had a hand in pulling it off successfully. And a huge thank you to each and every one of you who took the time and shared your hard-earned dollars with an organization that means so much to me, and to the Harrisburg community. THANK YOU ALL!!!

April 26, 2017

The Little Black Dress Initiative

Happy Wednesday – we are halfway through the week, people! And that means I’m halfway through my Little Black Dress Initiative week, too! What is LBDI, you ask? It’s an awareness campaign and fundraising effort on behalf of the Junior League of Harrisburg where members wear the same black dress for five workdays in order to start conversations about and raise money for those in our community who need it most.

I’ll be completely honest, I had some big reservations about participating in this campaign. I’m not good at asking for money, and I get nervous when I’m put on the spot to talk about something, even when it’s something I fully believe in. The biggest reservation I had about participating was putting aside my privilege, which sometimes can be difficult to do. Let me break it down a little bit for you:

A living wage calculation shows the hourly rate that an individual must earn 40 hours/week in order to meet the basic living expenses of their family. For a single parent household with one child, the living wage in Dauphin County is $21.47/hour (source: Poverty in America, Living Wage Calculator, 2014). 

Without getting into too much detail, I will share that my annual income from my first full-time job out of college was under $19,000. That breaks down to still be almost $2.00/hour above the Pennsylvania minimum wage, but I was nowhere near making enough to support basic living expenses. My company offered health insurance, which I took advantage of, as well as a 401(k), which I didn’t take advantage of because saving money was something that wasn’t happening at that point in my financial life. 

While I was lucky to have a job, I was even more fortunate that I have parents who were more than willing to allow me to move back in with them. I scraped by to pay my cell phone bill, car payment, student loans, and to feed myself, but I survived because I didn’t have to pay for housing. Did that make me feel less than adequate as an adult? Absolutely. It was embarrassing, and it made me feel like I didn’t have anything together. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would have felt like if I didn’t have the help I did.

And that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to participate in LBDI. I’m the first to admit that I’m uncomfortable talking coherently and cohesively about bridging the gap between poverty and self-sufficiency. I’m uncomfortable asking my friends and family for money to support my fundraising efforts. I’m uncomfortable talking about the privilege and luck I’ve had in my lifetime that allow me to live in my home, put food on my table, and travel with my family. It’s time for me to put that discomfort aside, though, because the unease I feel in asking you to donate to my campaign is nothing compared to the distress of being hungry because there’s no money left for food, or the feeling of wearing a hand-me-down dress to work each day because there’s no cash left in the budget for clothes for mom after the kids are taken care of.

Would you please join me on my Little Black Dress journey through a donation to the Junior League of Harrisburg? Your donation will be used to fulfill our goal of breaking the cycle of poverty in the Capital Region by promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

You can support me by visiting {my donation page}.  Your donation will go directly to support the mission of the JLH and will help us continue to deliver our community and membership training program.

Thank you to all of my friends and family who have already made a donation. And thank you to the Junior League of Harrisburg team who made this event possible!


April 5, 2017

Book Club | March 2017

It's that time again - book club time! I'm right on track with my goal to read 52 books this year. In March I finished quite a few books, some good, some not so good. So let's get to it - what I read last month (no spoilers!):

March 2017 Book Club | Reads and Reviews

The Assistants by Camille Perri

(3/5) The premise behind this novel is what any post-grad dreams of: finding a windfall that allows for paying off student loans in one immediate lump sum. However, for Tina Fontana, her windfall comes through an embezzlement ring that she creates with other young assistants at the gigantic media company where they work. It's a silly story, but the sheer amount of money that many of us owe from our college educations is all too real, and Tina and her girlfriends try to even the playing field a bit. This story is a quick beach read, but fair warning - if you have as many college loans as I do, you might get a little pissy when reading!

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

(3.5/5) Anyone who has ever worked in the foodservice industry as a server or bartender will relate to at least one part of this story. We follow Tess, new to NYC, as she works with the lifers in the restaurant world, as well as those who are "just here until something better comes along." I will say, though, that this book really has no plot. It's just tagging along with Tess as she explores a new life in the city - food, men, drugs. Or maybe it was just me and I was missing something? If you read it, I'd really like to know what you thought!

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

(4/5) I have to start by saying I liked this book so much more at the end than I did when I started it. It's a mystery that begins with Ava arriving back in New York after the death of her twin sister, Zelda. Almost immediately upon her arrival back at the family's vineyard, Ava begins to realize that her sister's death is just a bit too suspicious, just as Zelda's notes and clues start rolling in. As Ava made her way through the alphabet trying to figure out just what kind of game Zelda is playing, I found myself becoming more and more engrossed in the story. I'm looking forward to more from this new author!

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

(2.5/5) This story about high school mean girls gone too far was somewhat disappointing to me after really, really enjoying Abbott's novel "You Will Know Me," which I read last summer while sitting at the pool. It just seemed so ridiculously unreal to me - high school cheerleaders drinking with their coach, affairs, and a murder - it was all so much. Still, I finished the book and was left with so many questions. I wanted to know what happened AFTER the story finished; there was so much more to be told.

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

(3/5) Have you ever read a book where you absolutely despised the main character? That's how I felt about We Could Be Beautiful. Catherine West (great name, though) is a very wealthy woman living in NYC. She spends her time visiting with her senile mother, competing with her younger sister, and worrying about getting older. So when a new man appears, she falls head over heels for him and quickly becomes engaged. But her new fiance, William, is hiding a secret and Catherine has to decide if that secret is worth uncovering and living with, or if she wants to keep it hidden and finally become happily married. I finished this story pretty quickly, but there were so many times that I wanted to reach through the pages and slap Catherine for her bratty attitude. But hey, if the author's goal was to give us an utterly unlikeable main character, she absolutely succeeded! 

So, that's where I'm at after March's reading list. If you've read any of them, what did you think? I always love hearing what others thought of books I might've completely disliked or absolutely loved.

I'm currently struggling through June by Miranda Beverly-Whitemore and I have Anna Kendrick's book up next. Any suggestions for what to read after that? Let me know!

March 29, 2017

April Fitness Challenge

Starting in April, I’m pushing myself to complete a fitness challenge – take 25 classes in 30 days at the studio where I take barre, cycling, and yoga. While it might not sound like a lot to many, for me it’s a big increase in what I’m currently doing. I typically take two classes each week, which are great for helping me maintain my current fitness level, but I’m not really pushing myself or getting any stronger. 

The reason I chose this particular challenge for myself is because I find that I’m most successful in a group class atmosphere. It’s so much easier to get out of bed on a Saturday morning if I know there are 20 other people waiting to hit the barre and start off their weekend on a healthy note. Plus, I’ve really begun to enjoy indoor cycling, which is something I never thought I would say! The combination of the cardio, strength training, and stretching that the group classes bring to my life is exactly what I need right now.

I don’t plan on changing my diet, but I will be weighing myself and taking some measurements to see what happens throughout the next month. And if I’m being completely honest, I’m hoping that making it through this challenge will help me cement some workout habits that I can carry into the warmer weather. 

To kick off this challenge, I purchased an extra pair of workout capris from Athleta, another awesome tank that doesn’t ride up when I’m in downward dog, and two extra sports bras. Having pretty new workout gear is a good motivator for me, especially because I hate adding extra laundry to my already annoying laundry schedule. 

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this awesome challenge is made possible in part by my mom and mother-in-law, for gifting me with gift cards to the studio! With unexpected home repairs recently, I don’t have a ton of spare cash, so I’m so appreciative of their thoughtful gifts. 

If you’re in the Harrisburg area, come out to a class with me at H2L studio – the more, the merrier!

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