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8.31.2019

5 Reasons To Move To Austin

5 Reasons To Move To Austin
8.31.2019
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I just celebrated my 2 year anniversary of living in Austin & with this milestone under my belt, I feel like I'm finally in a place to give some solid recommendations on why moving to Austin could be a great decision for you just like it was for me. When we decided to leave NYC, we had so many places that we were considering moving to before our friend Jenn planted the Austin seed in our hearts. I was constantly researching information on the city and asking everyone I met who lived in Texas to tell their honest opinions and recommendations of Austin. It's time for me to share mine with you!


1. The locals make you feel right at home. Despite some of them being outspoken about their desire to keep Austin their little secret, they are kind down-to-earth people that treat you like gold. Whether you are from the south and can only imagine moving to a city if it involves great hospitality or you've had your fair share of no-one-talks-to-each-other city life (this was me!), Austin would be a great place for your next chapter. We had only been living here for about a week when someone apologized to me simply because they walked past me in Walmart. They didn't shoulder check me. They didn't run into my shopping cart. They just walked by. You should have seen the confusion on my face - and the tears that filled my eyes afterwards. 

2. There are so many opportunities to enjoy nature. Admittedly, this is something I enjoy tremendously but need to take advantage of more often. One of mine and Tyler's favorite things to do is take a drive out into Hill Country to enjoy the views from the winding roads that make us feel almost like we're driving around our hometowns in eastern Kentucky. Our first exploration led us to this quiet little dock and we've since traveled back to it multiple times as it's become a peaceful little retreat for us. Not everything takes such a drive though as there are Austin classics like Barton Springs Pool, Zilker ParkTown Lake, and the Greenbelt. As temperatures start cooling down, I'm making it a goal to enjoy more of these treasures since they bring so much peace to my soul.

3. The food is out of this world. Yes, this is coming from someone who lived in NYC for 4 years. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of NYC foods that I miss (bagels truly aren't the same anywhere else) but the food scene is here is just unreal. If you love BBQ, Tex-Mex & unique food trucks that were so successful they became brick & mortar restaurants (there are many and they are phenomenal), then you will have a very difficult time deciding what to try next. And don't even get me started about breakfast tacos. These are the best kept secret (that isn't actually a secret) in Texas. More to come in future posts about some of my personal favorite places to but for a great comprehensive guide, check out one of my favorite sources: A Taste of KoKo



4. The winters are mild. If you do not like crazy cold weather and dealing with everything that snow brings, you'll probably like Austin. Don't listen to the people who dramatize it though - you DO need a coat. It is not "hot all year" and, in my opinion, the winter feels a little colder than it should because you do get so conditioned to the heat in the summers. However, if you love fall/winter fashion of sweaters and cozy layers, this weather will be perfect for you. If you want to make snow angels, you're going to want to schedule a winter trip up north because we don't get more than light flurries a couple of times each winter season. 

5. People actually visit Austin. If you're going to move away, it really does feel nice to move somewhere that you know you'll have friends and family come to visit. Austin brings a lot of visitors for bachelorette parties, conventions - and of course SXSW & ACL. It can be hard to start over and build a new community, but knowing you'll be living in such a fun place that your old community is excited to visit makes it a little easier. And you'll have plenty of places to take them for food and fun when they get here!


Any questions about living in Austin? Ask away in the comments below!


Shop the look:  >>dress  >>sunnies (similar & on sale!)  >>bag (this one is a dupe!)


6.08.2019

I Quit My Job

I Quit My Job
6.08.2019
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I did it. I followed my gut. 

and heart. 
and soul. 
and passion.
and motivation. 

I just went for it.  I quit my job. 


Has anyone else ever read quotes on Pinterest, seen an empowering post on Instagram, or even listened to a motivational podcast and felt like it was just speaking to you? I've been feeling that way for a while. I knew I wanted more. 

More creativity. 
More flexibility. 
More time with my husband. 
More time at home. 
More time to live the life I've always imagined.

I mean I just think it's absurd the way life works sometimes. You spend all this money to go to college and then get a job to pay off your college debt. You spend all this money to buy house and then you're away at your job for at least a third of the day, 5 days each week. You fall in love and find someone you want to spend your life with but you spend most of your waking hours with your coworkers. 

And there is nothing wrong with living your life this way if you are happy with it. But I just wasn't. And I really hadn't been in a long time. I feel like I've lost myself throughout the years. 

I was spunky. I was adventurous. I was brave. 

Lately I've just been scared. Longing for what I once was, how I once felt, and trying to figure out how to get myself back to that person.  I finally realized that my situation had to change. I had to take a leap of faith to de-stress and gain some clarity. For me, that was to quit my job.

Why hadn't I done that sooner? I really thought I would figure myself out and get a game plan in action (such as another secure income) first. The reality was that I was so invested into my job that my wheels were just spinning when my focus wasn't on it. I needed a break to rest, both physically and mentally. 


And that's where I am now. It's been 4 weeks and it's been pretty blissful if I'm honest. I don't have to set an alarm in the mornings which really makes a huge difference in my day. I adopted a second dog and spend a good chunk of my day at dog parks + giving belly rubs. I've watched a LOT of Gilmore Girls (Team Jess!) and I have zero regrets about that. It's been so great to just zone out and allow the stress/anxiety to fade away. I really don't think I've been this relaxed since before we moved to New York almost 6 years ago. 

But let's be real, our financial situation isn't one that allows me to do this forever. I'm grateful that my husband has been so understanding and gracious to allow me to have this time, but now that my head is a bit more clear, I need to figure out what's next. I've been doing a bit of part-time work from home and aside from figuring out how I work best in that type of environment, it's been just what I wanted. I know I want to, at least primarily, work from home/my own studio. I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I've just never quite felt like I knew exactly a path to go down. And I still don't. But I'm motivated. I've seen/read/heard from all these successful people who've built their businesses around the lives they wanted by creating a business around what brings them joy. That's exactly what I'm set out to do.


One thing that definitely brings me joy is this. Creating & sharing content has been such an important outlet for me since I first started dabbling in it back in 2012.  I literally cried to a boss in New York when my job consumed so much of my life that I couldn't maintain my site (throwback to the Opal & Violet times). I really don't know a better time than now to put the energy into this. All the excuses I've had before are mostly gone so I'm really the only thing holding myself back if I don't do it now. 

So hello, again. As a first step to rediscovering my passion, I'll be sharing here at least once each week (still need to find out what feels right for me). I'll be sharing daily (a lot of style/shopping content) on Facebook. And I'm vowing to show up on Instagram frequently (in both semi-curated squares and in behind-the-scenes stories). 

Real life. Real love. Real fashion. 

Thanks for sticking with me. For not giving up on me. For reading what I have to say. For encouraging me when I don't feel good about myself. Your page views, DMs, and comments are so incredibly encouraging and all mean more to me than you know. 



Shop the look:  >>dress  >>belt  >>sunnies  >>bandana (similar)  >>shoes

Photography by Tyler Skiles

2.02.2018

Eating Well with Green Chef

Eating Well with Green Chef
2.02.2018
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Every January I find myself in the same place: a brand new year with the same damn resolution to eat healthier. Cleary I can use all the help I can get since eating well starts by deleting the Papa John's app on my phone in my own kitchen. Green Chef kindly offered to help me kickstart my year by sending me a few of their organic meals to test out and review for you. Spoiler alert: they are delicious!

Is this your first time hearing about Green Chef? I was new to the company, too, but let me tell you - they quickly swept me off my feet with their USDA-certified organic ingredient based meals that cater to the food guidelines you likely already follow. Paleo? Vegan? Keto? Yes, yes and yes! You choose which meal plan fits your lifestyle best and get a rotating menu of delicious dinners sent to your doorstep weekly. There's no shortage of unique flavors and recipes either, since October 2014 they've designed over 1,300 delicious dinners of the highest quality organic ingredients. 


Although I'm not eating 100% paleo right now, that's both mine and Tyler's preferred diet as we feel the best when we eat that way. So naturally I opted for the paleo meal plan option from Green Chef! For me, the unique recipes were a huge highlight of this service. I'm only moderately adventurous when it comes to branching out into new flavors and ingredients. If I've never used it before, I'll often skip over the recipe (or omit the ingredient altogether) to keep the meal in my comfort zone. Because Green Chef literally packs up each ingredient and sends them to my kitchen with incredibly easy to follow instructions, it was so easy for me try new foods! And while we're on the topic of delivery, all the ingredients came expertly packed and individually labeled/color coded for each different meal. Super efficient for organizing in my refrigerator! Bonus - all of the packaging is either recyclable, reusable, or compostable! 


While everything I tried from Green Chef was delicious, the photos you're seeing are of my favorite meal -- Memphis Pork Chops with roasted squash and sautéed collards topped with bacon & pecans. Are you drooling yet?! I am just thinking about how good it was! Green Chef recipes average around 30 minutes of cook time and this one was just a little higher at 40. I was stopping to take some photos along the way but I was still easily able to complete the meal in about 45 minutes.


I was incredibly impressed with how few dishes I dirtied while cooking with so many ingredients. The chef who created the recipe did a fantastic job of organizing the steps in order to reuse the same pan & cutting board as much as possible. This was brilliant for me (or should I say for Tyler since he is the typical dishwasher in our household) because I rarely use the same pan more than once when I cook on my own. 

Speaking of Tyler, he was a huge fan of these meals as well. I'll be  He's the first to admit that I cook the same meals over and over again so it was such a nice change from our normal dinner routine. We were also completely satisfied with the portion sizes of these meals - our kits were for 2 people and it perfectly fed us both with no waste. Do you have a growing teenage boy? These are probably not going to cut it for them, but for the vast majority of us - these portions sizes are perfect!



Thank you so much to Green Chef for sponsoring this post. You all know that all opinions here will always be my own & I'm so genuinely excited to share this company with those of you that are looking for a meal service option that is based in eco-friendly, nutritional and delicious food.  Have questions about anything I didn't cover? Leave a comment below or check out the Green Chef website here.

Interested in getting $40 off at Green Chef? Just click here - or any of the other Green Chef links in this post!


1.09.2018

Why I Left New York City

Why I Left New York City
1.09.2018
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Last August, Tyler and I made an exciting move to Austin, Texas. Below is a post I started writing in May of 2017 - the same day Tyler and I made the decision that we were ready for a change. This post was originally written to be an announcement for our move, but I think it so well speaks as a reflection on 2017.

"I don't think I've been very good at hiding the fact that I've not been 100% happy in New York as of late.  Not that I was trying to actually, because that's the entire point of this space - to be open & honest with you, my readers & friends.

It's crazy how much can change in just 4 years.  When Tyler & I decided to move to NYC it was with so much excitement and purpose. This city was never meant to be a stop on our journey but rather a final destination. I've met so many people here who have already moved away after their 1, 5, 10 years living here.  They would tell me about how they always wanted to live here for a season in life but that it was over and they were moving on to something else.  I honestly couldn't understand it at first because why would you want to move somewhere for just a moment in time.  But as the last few years have gone on, I can finally say I understand. More importantly, Tyler and I both understand.

This decision seems so sudden, yet at the same time, it's been a long time coming. We've toyed with the idea of leaving and moving to a place that was, for lack of a better word, easier. This city sure knows how to be invigorating.  And while that's what brought us here initially, it's also what is sending us on our way. We are constantly exhausted with this place and just want to stretch our legs in a bigger space that allows us to feel a freedom that we gave up when we moved here.  Yes, NYC has nearly everything you could ever want but sometimes that just isn't enough. Sometimes you have to give in and break up when you're not happy anymore.

Oh man, that's exactly what this feels like. It feels like a 4 year relationship with someone you've been so in love with but, after a lot of self-discovery, you've learned that you're not the same person anymore and you want different things in life. I cannot stress enough how thankful I am that Tyler and I mutually feel this way and are ready to leave this city together.  There have been a lot of tears while we've been making this decision - we are so passionate about this city and we think it will always be such a special part of our journey.

The strangest thing is that right now we are the happiest in this city that we've been in the 4 years we've lived here. We have good jobs, great friends, and even restaurants that know our orders -- but it's still time."



From this day on, the year was a whirlwind. After a few job applications & a few interviews, we were suddenly planning to pack up and move across the country. Any move is stressful, and I'm sure if we were packing up more than a tiny studio apartment it would have been much worse, but there were so many important decisions to make in such a short amount of time that I think we too anxious to enjoy those last few weeks to the fullest. Thankfully, we had two of our best friends in town for a week to visit just before we started packing up & it forced us to slow down a bit, relax, and enjoy some of our favorites one final time. 

Cookies at Levain Bakery (Always worth the wait in line. Always!)
A ride on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island (Choose the moving carts - so much fun!)
Dinner & drinks at Javelina's (Get the Bob Armstrong queso! Delish!)



One of my biggest fears when we decided to move so suddenly was leaving with a lot of regrets. I'd like to say I don't live with those - and I'm working towards that mindset - but, honestly, I do have a few. Like I mentioned before, I thought I would have a lifetime of living in NYC to experience everything but that turned out not be the case. There are so many restaurants I never tried, museums I never visited, and risks I never took. I was so adventurous when I moved to NYC in 2013 but 4 years later I found myself playing everything safe. This was definitely one of the reasons why we decided to shake things up by moving to Austin.

We're now 4 months into life here and to be completely transparent with you, I've continued to play things pretty safe. Y'all, I'm so ready to find my adventurous side again! So ready for it that I could scream! My lists of places to see and things to do here in Austin (& beyond!) keeps growing and I am determined to experience it all - and share it with you!! I crave sharing more both on this platform and on social media but I often completely hold myself back because of my self-doubt and perfectionism. It's a huge struggle that I can't let stand in my way any longer. No more excuses. I'm never going to get what I want in life if I keep making excuses. Anybody feel me on that one?!



So that's where we are on this new journey -- ready to live the life that we literally packed up and moved across the country for. And I'm going to share it with you (duh!) both in long form here and a behind-the-scenes look on Instagram. For those of you who've been so patiently following my journey for years, thank you for sharing your encouragement and grace with me every time I post. You'll never know how much your words & actions (likes, comments, messages, prayers..) mean to me.   

Here's to new adventures in 2018!


>>A huge thank you to my favorite photographer, Ryan Nicholls, for these beautiful photos. Tyler and I will treasure them forever.
5.29.2017

A Cup of Coffee in New York City

A Cup of Coffee in New York City
5.29.2017
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All great days begin with coffee.  No objections? Yeah, I thought so. And this is why coffee dates are the best way to see the city, catch up with old friends, network, and I would assume* make a great first date. 

*You know, because I've been married for 100 years and have zero idea how to date.  Actually, I didn't know how to do that when I was single so being married really isn't an excuse. 



I actually didn't drink coffee before moving to the city.  Well, I did make an ocassional trip to Starbucks for a sugary sweet drink but I definitely don't count that. But damn if New York doesn't require every single person that lives here to drink at least one gallon cup each morning to simply survive. I'm not kidding. My coworkers and I are on a group text and 95% of our conversation is about who is picking up coffee for the rest of the group that day. 



While I'm typically a cold brew kinda gal, this day I couldn't resist trying out this simple black coffee at Blue Bottle because usually sometimes I live for the aesthetic. Can you blame me with that beautiful clear mug?! 


And for the record, my go-to cup of coffee in NYC is a cold brew with almond milk from La Colombe. ;) 


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5.18.2017

5 Ways to Feel Good About Yourself

5 Ways to Feel Good About Yourself
5.18.2017
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I know I'm not the only one that finds themselves in an evil little funk every once in a while. I've been fighting one off for the past few months & am finally starting to get myself in a good headspace again. I wish I could say that there was one simple magic thing that helped me feel good again - believe me I'd share it with you in a heartbeat - but, like everything else in life, it's taken some work. Today I'm sharing my perfect formula that has helped me get back on track to be a happier & healthier person.



1. Start a Fitness Challenge
Before this month, I hadn't worked out in over a year.  Guys, that's really embarrassing to admit but I'm here to keep it totally real with you. I've totally been neglecting how important it is to just get up and move.  I've found myself really unhappy with how my body looks (and feels) lately & when I look back to photos of when it looked and felt better, the common theme from that time of my life was consistent exercise + a clean diet (more on that later). 

So this month a coworker of mine was kind enough to create a custom fitness challenge (think one of those Pinterest-worthy monthly challenges focused on one theme - like squats, sit-ups, & planks - but ours includes all 3) and she committed to doing it with me.  Other coworkers were so excited by our enthusiasm about it that they joined in, too!  I'm just over a week in but it feels so damn good to be doing some sort of exercise again. I'm already looking into other options to add more activity to my life! Do you have any favorite workouts or gyms/classes that I should check out?  Let me know in the comments below!



2. Get a Facial
Have you ever had a facial?  I just got my first one a few weeks ago at Skin Spa on the UES and, guys, I don't know what was holding me back from getting one before!  Never have a I felt so confident in my own skin (hence all these sans-makeup photos today!) than after getting my treatment from my incredible aesthetician Laura. I can't tell you the number of people who see me on a regular basis that asked me what new foundation I was wearing -- they were so surprised to hear I hadn't changed a single thing, my skin was simply that much better!

Skin Spa was so gracious to treat me to the Time Eraser Facial which my aesthetician referred to as "the works!" This is essentially a 3-in-1 facial focused on reducing fine lines, age & sun spots, enlarged pores, redness, and the list goes on. The service was about 1 hour long and included steam, extractions, a glycolic peel, and laser genesis treatment. I was kind of lost in relaxation during the entire service & loved trading New York transplant stories with Laura! 

Again, this entire tip is about truly feeling confident in your skin.  Mine has drastically improved as I've gotten older and I've by no means been shy about going makeup free in public pre-facial, but this treatment has definitely boosted my confidence. My skin is firmer, clearer, and so glowy! Trust me when I say you'll be so thankful you invested in your own self-confidence! If you're interested in trying out Skin Spa they currently have the Time Eraser Facial deeply discounted - nearly 40% off!!   Just let me know in the comments if I can answer any questions for you!



3. Eat Clean
Food is my vice. Ugh. I'm basically breaking a sweat just thinking about how to write this one. I've always had an unhealthy relationship with food & zero self-control. Zilch. Nada. Last year I started working with a Nutritional Therapist who literally changed my life. I learned how to eat well and - bonus - how to make my body feel awesome by eating well. Seriously life changing & I promise you an entire post on this in the future. 

So I know what to eat, how to do make it work with my NYC lifestyle -- I just wasn't doing it anymore. I could not seem to motivate myself to get started again but the previously mentioned fitness challenge, I was ready!  It always amazes me that when you put one foot out to take a leap, the other foot follows and progress starts. So just like the fitness challenge I'm just over a week in but I feel good. I'm motivated. And I am completely confident that you will feel this way, too. Kick the sugar, the dairy, the grains -- these things are just holding you back.  Take control of how you feel by eating clean!



4. Treat Yourself to a Manicure
Or to lash extensions, a spray tan -- whatever it is that will make you feel like you've got your shit together. For me, it's having my nails done. I feel incomplete without a fresh coat of paint in a color that makes me feel good. You don't have to spend a fortune on going to the salon all the time, but even if you're an at-home mani kinda person, treat yourself every once in a while. Let someone do the work for you.  Invest in feeling pampered. You deserve it.




5. Embrace your passion
This will undoubtedly be different for each and every one of you - and that's what makes this one so special.  We all have different talents, gifts, dreams.. and they are all very important. You absolutely should live a life where you are pursuing your passion. Sometimes all the clutter in life gets in the way - that's definitely what's happened to me on and off for the last few months years. How am I getting back on track? Not being afraid to talk about what I want with those that care about me. When I am willing to open up and share my struggles I get the most amazing support, advice, and motivation to keep going for it. This is the person I want to be for you. I want you to know that no dream is too small - we can all make our dreams a reality. Find at least one thing that you can do each day that allows you to work on your passion and do it. It's that simple - one step at a time. 


As I said before, there is no perfect formula for everyone but these 5 things have really helped me feel so much better about myself lately. I would love to hear about some of the things that help lift you up -- I can use all the tricks I can get!  Let me know in the comments below!


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3.27.2017

How the Q Train Changed My Life

How the Q Train Changed My Life
3.27.2017
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I'm just going to say up front that I realize this one is going to make me sound lazy - and I won't completely say you're wrong but just hear me out.  I quite love living on the Upper East Side in our tiny apartment that we've had for the past 3 years.  Our neighborhood is pretty quiet but not so much that you feel like you're no longer in the city.  It's close to both Central Park and the East River.  And, come on, it even has one of only two locations of my favorite paleo restaurant: Hu Kitchen. But (yes - there's the 'but' you've been waiting on), the walk from my apartment to the overly crowded 4/5/6 train is a solid 10 minutes at a brisk absolutelycannotbelateforworkagain pace. 


I know, I know.  I'm basically complaining about getting 10 minutes of exercise, but this walk is the worst.  New York City is one of those places where everything is hard when it absolutely does not have to be.  I mean, I know that's a huge reason that a lot of my friends don't even entertain the idea of living here - because who actually wants to make things harder on themself? Well apparently 8.5 million of us do - and we're always looking for ways to cut corners on every difficult thing we encounter.


When you're lazy like me and you feel like you've just walked a half marathon to get to your apartment after work, you don't want to get back out to see you friends, go to events.. or do anything for that matter. But then, on January 1st 2017, a magical thing happened: the Q train opened to connect us Upper East Siders with the rest of the world. *insert emoji praise hands* 



Long story short, work on this train line was originally supposed to begin in 1919 but the Great Depression happened.  After years of planning and funding issues, the construction finally started in 1972 only to continue having similar issues. Fast forward to last December and the reality of this section of the new line about to open became so real for us on the UES.  Now, New Yorkers aren't really known for showing their happiness, so I can only imagine that my neighbors were equally as excited as I was on New Year's Day when we took our first ride on our brand spanking new train line. 


When anyone asks me about this new train service, I have to give them an honest answer: it has drastically increased my quality of life. Overdramatic? Honestly, no. My once rushed 10 minute walk is down to an easy 3 -- only three minutes!! Friends actually want to come visit now and, more importantly, I actually want to visit them.  I don't feel the need to take as many cabs because getting home doesn't feel as hard. Plus it's so rare that riding the train feels crowded now - such a huge relief for someone who has acquired a touch of anxiety since moving to the city. Basically, this Q train has changed my life in these 3 short months. I've found myself with so much more inspiration to live my life to the fullest in this crazy place. 


And I could not be more thankful.


Shop the look:  >>jumpsuit  >>jacket (similar)  >>shoes (similar)  >>earrings


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