Lifestyle

My Secret to Giving Really Cool Gifts

A few months ago my friend Blake created IGiveCoolGifts, and it’s been voted the best gift guide on Internet.* I love this site because I genuinely think a fun or thoughtful (bonus points for both!) gift goes a long way.

If this is your first time hearing about IGiveCoolGifts, I suggest you sit down, buckle up, and get ready to fall into a black hole exploring the site. Do you like Netflix? Check out the binge watcher section. Do you eat food? You’re gonna want to explore the foodie section then. Do you have a mom? Mother’s day is coming up (May 13th!) and – don’t worry – there’s a gift guide for that.

I love this site because it’s so easy. Blake’s already curated some of the coolest items the web has to offer to give as a present. Or, maybe just buy for yourself – I won’t tell. 🙂

Here are some of the items that caught my eye:

My Favorite Finds

Wine Stopper With Date Marker | Travel Mug Iced Coffee Maker | Geometric Desktop Planter Vase | Matching Human/Dog Hawaiian Shirts | The Chambong | Anywhere Travel Guide

Just For Fun

Wine Bottle Flasks & Cups | Dog Selfie Stick | Drinko Drinking Game | Sushi Making Kit | Sriracha2Go Keychain Bottle Pack |Hipster Reagan Print 

Notable Mentions:

Adidas Yoga Mat by Stella McCartney | Good Vibes Earrings | Guzzle BuddyFloral Hanging Cosmetic Bag | Donut Popsocket | Frozen Healthy Dessert Maker

Shop all my favorites here

 

*electorate consisting of me and everyone I know.

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Fashion, Lifestyle

The Dress & Jacket I Just Can’t Get Enough Of

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I’m back from my weekender on the Eastern Shore with Dex feeling refreshed and ready to carpe the diem (seize the carpe). On Saturday night, Dex and I went to the Stars Restaurant at the Inn at Perry Cabin for dinner, which is located in St. Michael’s. For those of you that may not be from DC or Maryland, the Inn at Perry Cabin is stunning and a good portion of the movie Wedding Crashers was filmed there. (Think: “The painting was a gift, Todd.”)

To dinner, I wore a this LIKELY dress that I’m low-key obsessed with. The cut and shape are making it my new favorite desk-to-drinks option. (Here, we see it shining in the “drinks” department.) The dress color is perfect for spring. It’s technically called “Twilight Mist,” but I’m calling it lilac because that’s extra, even for me. I got the dress from Bloomingdales for $168, but because I love it so much I just ordered it again in a “English Manor.” I got smart this time though and snagged it on sale at Neiman Marcus for only $100. Bloomies has way more color/size options, but NM is obviously cheaper – so whichever works for you! For reference, I’m wearing a size 4. I sized up after reading the reviews and am so happy I did! It definitely runs small.

To stay warm, I also have on this oversized duster coat from Missguided. I’m wearing the nude color, but, again, I fell in love and stocked up on a variety colors. The fit is just too good. Plus, each duster is only $34 (!) and Missguided frequently runs large discounts. As I write this, everything on the site is 50% off with the code: gobabe.

Outfit Recap:

 

Fashion, Lifestyle

A Saturday in Annapolis

Last weekend Dex and I headed up to Annapolis to watch the annual Navy – St. John’s croquet match and visit his college friends. We lucked out because it turned out to be a incredible spring day.

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Finally, a frameable photo together!

For anyone who hasn’t been to Annapolis, it’s a cute cobblestone city (the capital of Maryland, too!) on the water. I highly recommend making the trip from DC, because it’s about an hour away give or take.

I wore this by the way. Aubrey Off Shoulder Dress the spring day event. And while I got a lot of compliments on this dress, I wish I could say it was the best dress ever. Truth is, I bought this dress a few months ago and had every intention to return it. Even though I liked the style of the dress (that OTS situation is killer), the material is very thin, has little give, and feels cheap. Honestly, the only reason I didn’t ship it back was because I was lazy and just didn’t get to it in time.

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All that being said, I was thanking my lucky stars now that I had this dress in the back of my closet – tag still on and everything (!) – for me to bring to Annapolis, just in case. Despite the fabric, I do love the color, clean lines, and simplicity of the dress, which gives it a tailored look and feel. The dress is sold out in light blue, but pink is still available! For reference, I’m wearing a size XS. I paired the dress with a hat I got at TJMaxx.

Dress: by the way. Aubrey Off Shoulder Dress ($72)

 

Fashion, Lifestyle

The weird way I organize my closet & why it works

My Closet Organization (1)

I’ve always struggled with finding the right system to organize my closet. Sorting by category, occasion, color, you name it – I’ve probably tried it. And what I found was, despite the pros, none of these approaches matched up with how I got dressed.

Almost inevitably, trying to find something to wear meant clothes all over the floor, while I went through various options.

Frustrated by this, I started thinking about what wasn’t working and why:

  • Sorting by category (e.g. dresses, sweaters, tops) led to cocktail dresses organized with work dresses organized with casual day dresses; short sleeved sweaters organized with long sleeved sweaters; long sleeved shirts organized with blouses organized with tank tops.
  • Sorting by occasion was messy because there was too much crossover – where is the line between a cocktail dress and a work dress? Yes there is a definitely a difference, but where the gravel met the road too many pieces fell in between. And the same was true for tops and pants. While some items are clearly one occasion and one occasion only, the majority of my clothes are versatile enough that they could be worn for many occasions.
  • Sorting by color was visually very satisfying, but ultimately gave me a false sense of order. I liked it because there is something nice about seeing everything in my closest grouped by color and it was relatively easy to “restock” my closet after laundry day, but I found that the color of my clothing is never that important to me when I am deciding what to wear.

So I decided to organize my closet by my arms.

I know it sounds weird, but I found sleeve length is a major factor for me when I approach getting dressed. Long sleeve? Short sleeve? Strapless? Do I want to show my arms? Hide them? These are the real questions going through my mind when I’m deciding what to wear – not what color my dress is. If it is a very cold day, long sleeve it is. If it is a very hot day, I usually like to wear off-the-shoulder, spaghetti string or sleeveless. If it’s a work day, usually short sleeve or long sleeve.

This is how it works in action:

  • All items that relate to my arms (dresses, rompers, jumpers, tops, jackets, and cover ups) are hanging
  • I have these items organized into have two major buckets: “full outfits” and “half outfits.”
    • “Full outfits” are dresses, jumpers, and rompers – basically whatever is a one and done deal when getting dressed
    • Half outfits are tops, jackets, and cover-ups or anything that needs one or more items to make a full outfit
  • All “full outfits” are grouped together and all “half outfits” are grouped together. My closet is a small walk-in, so I have full outfits hanging on the left, half outfits on the right.
  • Then, I group by sleeve style: strapless, spaghetti string/halter, sleeveless (thick, non-spaghetti), short sleeve, off-the-shoulder short, off-the-shoulder long, long sleeve.
  • Length of the item does not matter. Meaning, there is no difference between a fancy spaghetti string maxi dress and a casual spaghetti string romper, for example. Similarly, there is no difference between a short sleeve crop top and a short sleeve tunic.
  • Finally, I organize these by color: white, pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, grey, and black.
  • Folded, I have my bottoms (pants, shorts, and skirts) on the shelf above my “half outfits.”

Organizing my closet by how I approached getting dressed has exceeded my expectations. While there are some issues, so far it has worked out the best out of all the methods I’ve tried.

How do you organize your closet? Is there a method that works for you?

Lifestyle

Best Moments of Winter 2015-16

This birthday hug to kick off a day of celebration:12273807_10156170783975363_5692107761663018865_o

This dinner in Baltimore before the Archer Strong Gala:
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This champagne saber ceremony in Deer Valley:12510448_10156356644120363_4749258642386007513_n

This view while skiing in Utah:
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This kind of moments meeting PNMs:
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This SantaCon/Bagatelle combo-punch weekend:
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This view while boating in the Keys:1470093_10156320276415363_8545411278248645364_n

This moment spending another New Years for the record books at KLAC/ORC:
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This absolutely adorable Galentine’s Day set up by Bree:
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This Real World: Park City trip that I’m still in withdrawal over:
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These kind of DC weekends with friends:1919306_10156564391040363_3127906467907844318_n

 

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

A Different Perspective on Tourists

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“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

DC is especially beautiful this time of year. The city and its famous cherry blossoms are in bloom, and it’s breathtaking. And as sure as night and day, the change of seasons inevitably comes with tourists.

People from all over the world come to DC to experience the cherry blossoms and tour the monuments. Most people hate tourists. Not only are they outsiders in an insider city, they are everywhere, blocking sidewalks and stopping traffic. I used to be bothered by them because they would make my day-to-day life harder. I, too, wanted to experience the best of my city and felt I had a greater right to it than others because I live, work, and play here.

But my mindset changed this weekend. Tourists are great. They are great because they are a reminder I get to live in a city people actually want to vacation in. And that’s pretty cool. I’m fortunate enough to live in a place full of beauty and history and power, and others come from all over just to see what I see every day.

Lifestyle

What I learned in 2015

Each year, the New Year forces me to evaluate the past and look towards the future in a more serious way. And I don’t think I’m alone on this. We all pause to reflect and review, and with hopeful optimism determine next year will bring more.

2016, in all fairness, has an easy shot at outperforming 2015. I had a rough year: I had a terrible falling out with a long-term friend; I broke my hip running; and, less than a week after being cleared for the hip, I was hit by a car while crossing the street on a crosswalk with the walk sign in broad daylight.

But there’s more to my year than what is above. So much more. More friends, more adventures, a lot of laughs, a new appreciation for family, friends, and health. And through it all, I’ve learned and grown a lot. In particular, I come into 2016 with a renewed sense of gratitude.

Over time, the small details, like the ones that made 2015 great, get lost to the broad brushstrokes, like the ones that made 2015 not so great. So I hope by writing down my biggest takeaway, when I look back at this year I’ll be able to remember why 2015 wasn’t so bad after all.

What I learned in 2015 was simply appreciate what you can do.

On March 16, I bought fresh flowers and put them in a vase filled with water on my coffee table. The next day I broke my hip and was soon on crutches. With my hands occupied, I couldn’t carry anything while also managing to walk, aside from a small bag. You’d think the most depressing part of breaking a bone is the feeling of missing out with your friends. It wasn’t though, at least for me. The most depressing part was watching those flowers die as the water in that vase evaporated little by little each day. The distance between my coffee table and my kitchen is maybe 15 feet. And yet, it could have been a football stadium. I wasn’t able to carry water and help the flowers dying in front of me. Watching those flowers die became some sort of terrible metaphor for my current state of affairs. And despite the fact that I was going to make a full recovery or that everything else physically was okay, I was consumed by what I couldn’t do.

When I got better, I was eager to get life back to normal as quickly as possible. I wanted to move forward and not look back. I was tired of missing out. It took a worse injury for me to realize, there was so much I could do during that period of time that I took for granted. After all, I was able to go outside, to shower without help, to go about daily life without my mother needing to take 3 weeks off to care for me. I learned that if you focus on and be appreciative of what you can do recovery is a whole lot better.

While I would rather have not been broken for the majority of 2015, I do think I am wiser because of it. I enter 2016 knowing full well that the can’t will drown you if you let it. You have to focus on and appreciate what you can do. It’s the best anyone can do after all.