Leopard Silk Skirt Trend
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I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m the biggest trend follower but sometimes a trend just hits home and I dive right in! The satin midi skirts that have been all over have really been speaking to me. That’s particularly true for the animal print ones. I think that they give you a fun ability to dress an outfit up or down depending on if you wear heels or sneakers and what type of top you wear. I embrace any opportunity to get dressed in something besides athletic wear and wear sneakers so I am all over this look! I thought that it would be fun to pair my new favorite band tee with it but for night time I can also wear a black top. Also, I got this jacket for the holidays and I am OBSESSED with it! It is so reasonably priced, comfortable, and I love that it has a detachable hood. I like that the sweatshirt fabric hood is detachable because I can keep it on when I want a more casual look and remove it when I want it to be dressier. I linked some of my other favorite leopard skirts below!

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Annual Marriage Review
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A couple of years ago Jay and I started doing a ‘check in’ for our marriage in what I call our Annual Marriage Review. I know…the name is intense and sterile and sounds so formal. However, it’s really not that serious and is actually something that I look forward to. It’s really just an excuse for a date night followed by a healthy and productive conversation. It works well for for us but I know that not everything is for everyone!

Why?

I am a big believer in constant communication and talking about what’s working and what’s not in my marriage. As an individual, I am constantly working on growing in regards to my own mental/emotional well being, my career, my relationships, my fitness goals (when I’m not currently recovering ugh), my health, as a person, and so on. I always have a goal that I am working on professionally, personally, and in my relationship so this is just in congruence with that. Before being ‘conscious’ and all of that was trendy, I have always been someone who operates my best (and am less anxious and depressed) when I ‘check in’ with myself and take time to reflect. I’m unsuccessful at many, many things but being in tune with my emotions and practicing self awareness is something that I have always found (at least moderate) success with (and am constantly working on). I think that it’s a powerful mechanism for getting through all of the hard cr** in life (not a solution, just a helpful tool in the tool belt). This practice of being ‘in tune’ has naturally trickled into my relationship with my husband. Naturally, Jay and I communicate the crap out of things!

Needless to say, this ‘review’ practice is very much ingrained in our regular (at least weekly) lives. However, I wanted to do a formal sit down once a year for a full reflection of the year and to be really intentional about our goal setting as a couple. Think about it, I (generally) exercise and eat well (ish haha) in order to avoid gaining weight because it’s easier to maintain my weight than have to work at losing weight. I want to instill healthy practices in my marriage to prevent problems from happening in the same way. This review is like getting the oil changed in the car to prevent it from having problems and not breaking down on the side of the road. Basically, I think that doing maintenance and ‘checking in’ to keep things running smoothly WHILE they are running smoothly is easier than trying to fix things after they’ve begun to break (not that things can’t be repaired after they break). Obviously, I’m still in a relatively young relationship since Jay and I have only been together for 8.5 years and I know that we have a lot to learn still. However, we have been through many really hard things in those 8.5 years and have learned a lot about having a solid partnership through it all. I also know that relationships are so individual and that what works for some people doesn’t work for others. This is just a personal experience of something that I think is good for us!

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When?

We set a date on our calendar that we do our review on every year. We picked a date that has significance to us (well the week has meaning to us for many reasons) and marked it in our calendar. I also set a reminder a month before to make a dinner reservation and a week before to get each of us working on our notes. I do not think that a ‘real’ anniversary is a good time to do this. We purposely avoided doing it on our wedding anniversary or our dating anniversary because we want those dates to be purely fun and romantic and magical and not filled with conversations that have the potential to get heavy. We go out to a restaurant and if we have enough privacy at our table then we will discuss things there but if not we will just do our ‘review’ once we get home. The rest of the night is just a typical, fun date night. Scheduling a walk is another good way to do it. Just get away from your phones and chores and distractions to have an uninterrupted conversation. I think that the most important thing is setting a date on your calendar and sticking to it like you would a review at work.

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Creating Your Review:

I created a Google Doc and in it I copied and pasted our vows to one another. I want to just read them as a nice little refresher from time to time. However, those are pretty broad strokes and I want to discuss more specific things for this review. I like to keep the goals relatively specific and narrowed down. I also believe on working on one thing at a time so I stick to only 1 goal per ‘category.’ In the document, I put the year and then the following items to review. I think that it’s helpful to write them down so that you can reference them and check in with yourself and how you are doing. Jay suggested that we check in on those goals formally at least once a month in order to track our progress and keep ourselves accountable, which I think is a great idea. Plus, I just think that the practice of writing down goals is a good practice in general. During our review, we each take turns reading our reviews (we really just talk about it and don’t read off the document) and then discuss them and talk about ways to make them happen. The most important thing to remember is that you are not under attack and to not get defensive! Being able to receive criticism from both yourself and your spouse is so important so I think that you have to truly leave your defensiveness at the door and be open to listening and making it happen. The same thing goes with how you discuss things with your partner. Avoid using the words “always” and “never.” Don’t say, “you always do this” or “you never do this.” I also wouldn’t label your spouse as “being” something. I would say that he/she “sometimes DOES XYZ & it can be problematic because XYZ.” You are not badgering, hating on, or blaming your spouse for their area of improvement. I also think that it’s helpful to remember that you are a team and that you are going to help set and accomplish his/her goals just like you want his/her help in accomplishing your own. I try to brainstorm strategies for accomplishing the goals for both of our areas of improvement and work as a team to make progress in them.

Here are the things that we include in our review:

  • Area that I think I can improve on personally

  • Area that I think we can improve on as a couple

  • Area that I think my husband can work on

  • Jay suggested adding in a category for how we can each improve our finances so we are going to add that in each year as well

Like I said, we discuss these things on a regular basis and often have in depth conversations about them. However, I think it’s a good practice to write them down, track our progress, and really hold ourselves and each other accountable. We all need moments in life to stop and reflect and make positive changes.

Example Goal:

I don’t want to splatter our whole review in a blog post but I think that it’s helpful to see one example so here’s my review for the area that I think we can improve on as a couple: I think that we need to set aside more ‘active’ moments to have fun together and enjoy each other and our marriage, even with all of the hardship that we are facing. We have been just burying our noses in the pain and issues surrounding us and not taking enough time to just simply have fun. Even with all of the recovery issues, mourning, and other stressors in our lives, we need to take advantage of this time when it is just the 2 of us at home and have more fun loving moments without the stress. We’ve been drowning and trying to survive these past few months and now I want to make a more active effort to set aside blocks of time to have fun where we are not allowed to talk about those stressful/sad things. I want to schedule more date nights, walks, and weekends away where the whole intention is fun and not responsibilities or coping with hardship.

Give It A Try:

If this at all interests you, give it a try! It’s really not as big of a deal as it seems at all. Obviously, the area of improvement for your spouse is more sensitive but I think its likely something you are already discussing but this is at least doing it in a productive and healthy way. I also think that self reflection is an even more important component of it. Maybe you think I’m nuts and if its not for you then definitely don’t do it! If you try it and like it though, please let me know!

Shopbop Sale Spring 2019

Shopbop’s big sale is here and its the perfect time to stock up on Spring/Summer wardrobe pieces! I know that the items that Shopbop carries can be pricier so I kept all of my picks to items under $100. Its the perfect time to get the sandals, shorts, and other essentials that you’ll wear all season long once the sun comes out! Just use the code GOBIG19 to receive 15% off orders of $200 or more, 20% off orders of $500 or more and 25% orders of $800 or more. Click on any image above or below to shop.

Accessories

Shoes

Clothes

Swimwear Picks
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A little bit ago I asked on my Instagram stories what you guys are currently searching for and was shocked how many people said bathing suits! It’s never too early to start dreaming of warmer weather. In fact, I think its a bit of a lifeline for these winter months! I know a lot of people are also preparing to go on vacation somewhere warm. If you are going away, make sure to also check out my Spring Break Clothes Under $100 post. I tried to cover all of the bases here with a variety of bikinis and one pieces. I also made sure to include some more appropriate options for times when you don’t want your a** hanging out, like when you are around your dad or playing with your kids. They’re all super cute! Click on any image to shop.

One Piece Swimsuits

Bikinis

Spring Break Clothes-Under $100

Spring Break is just around the corner! Isn’t it funny to think about what Spring Break means as a kid versus a college student versus a parent? I actually met my husband on (actually on the plane to) the MOST college Spring Break trip to exist. It was in Acapulco, Mexico and was straight out of the scene from MTV Spring Break. Who else remembers those videos on MTV and then again of Ross on Friends haha. This trip was full of wet t-shirt contests (I did not participate) and all of the other college break scenes that you could imagine. Nowadays, the reference to Spring Break in my circle is from my friends who are teachers and families that I am planning vacations for (I am a travel agent and my company is the Cozy Traveler and it is an affiliate of Smartflyer for those of you that don’t know). Even if its not during Spring Break timing for schools, this is the best time to go away because all of the magic of winter has more than worn off and with the lack of holidays, these next few months move by slowly (particularly slowly when you are recovering from surgery and haven’t left the house in 5 weeks!!!).

So, whose going away for Spring Break? I wish that I was going away but since I’m not, you’ll have to say hi to the sunshine for me and soak it all up! Either way, looking at Spring/Summer clothes and starting to shop for them gets me in a better mood. Its fun to have new pieces that you are excited about packing and bringing on vacation. I know that going on vacation can hurt your wallet enough though so all of these picks are under $100! Stay tuned later in the week for my bathing suit roundup…it’s amazing! Let’s get shopping for your warm weather vacation! Just click on any image to shop!

Shirataki Tofu Pad Thai
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I’ve been wanting to try Shirataki noodles for a while because they are almost zero calorie noodle substitutes. However, I’ve heard how they smell so bad and can taste bad so I was wary to try them. I heard that the key to them not smelling bad is to rinse them really, really well. I rinsed mine for almost 15 minutes as I prepped the rest of the meal and just held my breath when I was around them because I didn’t want to risk getting turned off from wanting to eat them. I also figured that I would do the first recipe as one with a powerful sauce. It all turned out so well and I was so happy with the results! I didn’t miss the real noodles in this recipe (but I know that with a red sauce it wouldn’t be the same). My husband was SO impressed with it and kept saying how it was the best Pad Thai he’d ever had, which seems like too generous of a compliment but I’ll take it. I made mine vegetarian but you could easily sub in chicken or shrimp for the tofu. Also, even though there were only 2 people eating, I made this recipe for 4 servings so that we could eat it as leftovers the next day. The leftovers held up pretty well and were even good cold. It’s a great healthy alternative to a typical Pad Thai dish!

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Ingredients (yields 4 servings):

2 packages of tofu Shirataki noodles (I used House Foods Tofu Shirataki Fettuccini)

1 cup soy sauce

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

4 T Sriracha

1 large clove of garlic, minced

1 lime, juiced

3 T avocado oil

1 T sesame oil

Pinch of black pepper

1.5 cup shredded carrots

1.5 cups snow peas

Scallions, chopped for garnish

1 block of extra firm tofu (I used Nasoya Organic Extra firm tofu)

1 T olive oil

Directions:

Remove the Shirataki noodles from the packaging and place them in a mesh strainer. Run cold water over them for 10-15 minutes (go over and mix them up so that the water hits a different spot every few minutes).

Place a pot of boiling water over medium heat until it comes to a boil.

Remove the tofu from the packaging and place on a cutting board with a folded paper towel on top of it. Then, top it with another folded paper towel and something heavy to weigh it down (I used a heavy skillet). Allow it to sit like this for at least 20 minutes in order to drain a lot of the water from the tofu. Feel free to replace the paper towels half way through in order to absorb more water.

While you are rinsing the noodles and letting your tofu drain water, prepare your sauce. In a blender, combine the soy sauce, peanut butter, Sriracha, garlic, lime juice, avocado oil, sesame oil, and black pepper. Blend at medium speed until all ingredients are combined and sauce is smooth. Set the sauce aside.

Once your tofu is drained, cut it into 1 inch cubes. Heat a skillet over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Sauté the tofu in the olive oil until it is golden brown on all sides. Set the tofu aside.

Place the Shirataki noodles in the boiling water for a few minutes (follow the directions on the packaging).

While the Shirataki noodles are cooking, use your sauté pan again to sauté the shredded carrots and snow peas (for approximately 5 minutes) in olive oil.

Drain the Shirataki noodles in a mesh strainer. Then, add the Shirataki noodles, sauce, vegetables, and tofu to a large mixing bowl. Toss with tongs to mix and then serve!




Hoboken Guide
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This post is very over due because it combines 2 things that I am so passionate about…food and Hoboken! I have lived in Hoboken for 4.5 years now and my husband has lived here for 7 years (since back when he was just my boyfriend and I would visit him). I love this square-mile city so much! Hoboken is only 1 square mile so you can easily get everywhere. It has a slower pace than the concrete jungle across the river but still has easy access to Manhattan for work and play. The views of the river and skyline from my building (and many of these restaurants) is iconic and I feel grateful every single time I see it! I love that there is open, green space and a neighborhood feel. For some reason, I find it comforting to pass so many of the same people on the street. Part of that neighborhood feel is the restaurants! I love having our go-to spots and that so many of them are relatively affordable (when compared to NYC) and BYOB. Now, I want to share those spots with you!

In this post, I cover why/when you would go to each of these spots and some of my favorite items at each of them. I am a vegetarian so I also talk about my husband’s favorite items (he eats meat). I cover a few different categories to make it organized and easy!

One of my husband & my favorite things to do on a weekend is just take a walk to coffee shops in town. We love being able to walk right out of our apartment, hand in hand, and wander through town. We don’t buy coffee/tea during the week so its a special treat when we do. In this post, I share my favorite coffee shops! I also cover my favorite brunch spots and even talk about my techniques for making process of waiting for a table more enjoyable. I know how tricky large group brunches are so I share my favorite go-tos for birthday brunches and larger gatherings.

I list out my favorite dinner spots and describe the atmosphere/appropriate occasions. I also talk about my go-to delivery spots (we get the same things delivered on rotation and I’m not even ashamed about it because they are just SO good).

Then, I talk about different bars. In full transparency, I don’t go out to bars at night frequently due to my chronic pain issues, which gets worse later in the day. I’m more likely to frequent a bar during a nice day or attend a happy hour. Therefore, I brought my husband into the mix on this topic. There are also a ton of Irish pubs in downtown Hoboken but we’ve really graduated from that scene by this point in our lives (they are great for the post-grad phase of life), so I don’t know much about them anymore.

Finally, I cover the best delis in Hoboken! Hoboken has a strong Italian influence, culture and history. It is the birth place of Frank Sinatra and has a ton of ‘OG’ Italian Americans. Therefore, the Italian food, including delis, is really important here. The fresh mutz is unparalleled and there are too many pizza spots to count (I included my all time favorites in the delivery and dinner sections). These delis are no-frills and super old school. They aren’t the nicest things to look at (its a to-go situation) and follow their own rules. They give the impression that they aren’t aiming to conform to the service industry standard but their food exceeds any standard in place. We love getting items from the deli and then eating them at a picnic!

It’s a lengthy post but I hope that it’s helpful! Sending so much love to all of my fellow Hobokenites! If you have a favorite spot in Hoboken, please drop it in the comments!

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Coffee Shops:

Bluestone Lane: The best chai tea latte (although the portion size is weak). They have outdoor seating with wait staff too, which is nice. They have healthy food options, which are served brunch style by a waiter. You can order coffee at the counter in to-go containers, which is what I usually do.

Bwè Kafe: This name means “drink coffee” in Haitian Creole! This is right up the street from me and has a cool boho atmosphere that makes you feel relaxed (when its not super crowded). They are a socially responsible company because they donate a portion of their proceeds to Haiti relief efforts. They sell healthy treats and also usually carry baonanas, which is the best banana pudding ever (my favorite flavor is the French Toast but the classic is also so good). I think that Baonanas is better than Magnolia’s banana pudding and I love supporting a small business (the business story is cool). If I’m at the coffee shop on a Saturday morning, I’ll sometimes grab one of these to stick in my fridge and eat for dessert at night.

Choc-O-Pain: A great spot for pastries when you want to be more indulgent! The other 2 coffee shops have a healthier flare and this spot brings the buttery, flakey goodness! They have two locations. The downtown location has more of a Parisian cafe, cozy feel and the uptown location is more sleek and bright/airy and has a ‘playroom’ with toys.

Brunch:

Anthony Davids: This is my #1 favorite brunch spot! They also have great dinner, which I discuss in more detail below. They have both outdoor and indoor seating in the warmer months. They don’t accept brunch reservations so you should expect to wait during peak hours. I go and put my name/number down and then walk across the street to Bwe Kafe and grab coffee/tea and either hang out in the coffee shop during the colder months or go for a walk with the coffee/tea in the warmer months until my table is ready at Anthony Davids. I LOVE the challah french toast and highly recommend it! I also like their salads. They have unique Eggs Benedict creations and everyone loves them. Jay’s favorite are the French Toast and Crispy Bacon Benedict and the Ricotta and Truffle Benedict. He also is a fan of the Guacamole and Spicy Chorizo Benedict, Crab Cake Benedict, Maine Lobster Roll Bay Benedict and the Burger. It’s BYOB so bring a bottle of champagne!

La Isla Uptown: La Isla Uptown only serves brunch on Sundays. On Saturdays they have breakfast and then lunch hours. Bobby Flay threw down against Chef Omar of La Isla with his Stuffed French Toast and Chef Omar was the winner! The Stuffed French Toast is really good but super decadent so I recommend getting it as a share item for the table. They have good breakfast sandwiches and a nice variety of breakfast and lunch items. Don’t forget to order their Cuban Latte if you’re a coffee drinker! Plus, they have a bar and serve great cocktails. I share more of Jay’s favorite items in the dinner section of this post.

Turning Point: This place wins points for my favorite dish there and loses points for service. It’s got a diner vibe to it and is super casual and laid back. As a result, its very kid friendly. I always expect a long wait before getting seated so I tend to go in the Spring and Fall. I put my name down in the restaurant section, grab a Chai Tea Latte from the coffee shop section (its so good…definitely more sugary than others but in an addictive way), and sit on a bench out front and take in the skyline views. Sitting along the waterfront makes the waiting process more enjoyable than being cramped inside the small waiting area with everyone else. The other reason that I love going there in the Fall is that my favorite items on the menu are perfect for that season! The Chai Tea Latte and Cornbread French Toast give you all of the Fall feelings! They also set up outdoor seating on nice days, which is great since it has such awesome skyline views! They are BYOB so you can bring champagne and they will make you mimosas.

Halifax: This is a big ‘birthday brunch’ spot in Hoboken. This restaurant is in the W Hotel and has a really fun atmosphere, which feels chic and buzzy. It’s great for groups because you can do a set menu and pricing. You have the option of doing a Bubbles Brunch, which includes unlimited food (they bring everything on the menu in small plates, sharing style) for a set number of hours. The unlimited food portion is $25/person but you can add in a bottle of sparkling wine per person for another $10, which makes the whole thing only $35/person. It’s a really good deal and great for any group gathering. Plus, it has big windows and is set along the Hudson River so you can enjoy the awesome views!

Elysian Cafe: We tend to go here in the Spring and warmer months because the outdoor section is so charming! It’s a French restaurant and it definitely gives you a Parisian feeling when you sit outside with all of the flower boxes and twinkly lights from the trees. It makes for a romantic date night spot in the warmer months when you can sit outside as well. They have good French Onion Soup and are BYOB. Expect to wait (especially if you go for brunch), but there is a park right up the street called Elysian Park so I’ll typically go for a walk in the park until my table is ready.

Bare Burger: This is a go-to casual spot that has a lot of healthy options. They have outdoor and indoor seating. It’s a great spot for kids or for when you don’t want any fuss and just want good, healthy food. All of their meat is grass fed and all that jazz. I love the various veggie burger options and get one of them in a collard green wrap with the special sauce and guacamole. Plus, I always have to get a side of sweet potato fries and spicy pickles. I’ve heard they have good chicken and waffles for brunch and they have other breakfast items on the menu as well. My niece and nephew were hugs fans of it when we took them. Don’t tell them that the milkshakes they enjoyed were vegan!

Otto Strada: This is not my favorite spot in Hoboken for brunch on the regular but its a good option for big groups because they can actually accommodate you and will accept brunch reservations. I’ve gone to a couple of birthday brunches here and its a perfect spot for that. They have great breakfast pizzas! They are BYOB for brunch and dinner.

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Dinner:

Antique Bar & Bakery: Antique is our favorite date night spot and the place that we usually meet up with friends at. Its dark and cozy so its definitely more of a cold-weather spot. It’s got a Speakeasy vibe and great cocktails to match. They play loud music so it definitely feels a little more Manhattan-like than the typical Hoboken spots. Its a great place to order a bunch of food to share. They have a gigantic coal oven, where they cook most of their items in to give them a unique flavor. They accept ‘waitlist appointments, which are basically reservations on Resy. My favorite items are the butternut squash and the cookie skillet (featured in photo above). I don’t typically order dessert at a restaurant unless I’m on vacation (I eat dessert, just once I’m home on my couch in my PJs after an eating break haha) but I always need to get this item. Great, now I’m craving it! Jay is a fan of the steak.

Anthony Davids: Our favorite neighborhood spot. I don’t go here too frequently because its a little pricey but when I do I love it. You can bring your own wine, which helps bring down the cost. It has indoor and outdoor seating and even the indoor seating is good. They don’t accept reservations on the weekends.

Bin 14: This wine bar is great for a tapas style dinner where people share a lot of food. It’s also a good spot to go out to a real lunch for a meeting or something like that. They have set seating times on the weekends and I would recommend making a reservation on Open Table in advance.

Dozzino: This is our go-to casual spot with AMAZING artisanal pizza. My husband and I will typically go here on a Friday night when we don’t have any plans and want to go out last minute. They don’t take reservations and you may need to wait, especially if you’re with a big group. It’s a good option for a big group if you don’t mind waiting though because its BYOB, affordable and has great food. The pizza is classic Neapolitan style and reminds me so much of how pizza actually is tastes Italy. The crust is so fluffy and amazing! They are a no-frills establishment so don’t expect to be treated like royalty (they sometimes give you paper cups and give you a pizza cutter to cut your own pizza). In fact, they may not even have all of the items available (they hand you paper menus with items out of stock crossed off). The laid back vibe is just what I want a lot of the time though. It’s my favorite spot to just wear shorts, a t-shirt and sandals to on a summer night where I sit outside by the twinkle lights at a bistro table. Plus, the pizza is so insanely good that I will ALWAYS go back for more. Let me warn you that they are not open on Mondays (I was crushed one holiday weekend when I went on a Monday and was looking forward to it all day). They have a bocce ball court outside. It’s definitely a favorite in our house!

La Isla Uptown: This Cuban establishment is my husband’s favorite spot. He loves the Cuban Rueben and Maduros. It’s got great cocktails (the mojitos are awesome) and a cool atmosphere. The show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and Drives featured their original downtown Hoboken location. The show highlighted the Papa Relleno (mashed potato stuffed with ground beef, breaded and fried) and Tasajo Con Boniato (braised dry-cured shredded beef served with Cuban sweet potato and rice). The uptown location doesn’t have any outdoor seating but it has a lot of big windows and a modern, airy vibe. This is another great spot for a sit-down lunch as well.

Augustinos: If Tony Soprano was still alive and frequenting Hoboken, this is where he would go to dinner. Its a small spot with Italian-American favorites done well. It’s a classic spot that really speaks to Hoboken. Its kind of a hole in the wall in terms of size but has an old school Italian vibe with white tablecloths to boot. My husband says that the Veal Parmesan here is better than the famous Veal Parmesan at Carbone. Unfortunately, its close to impossible to get a reservation here since its a small establishment and so many people have standing reservations. Your best bet is to call and ask to be put on a waitlist and/or call the day of to see if there were any cancellations.

Sorrelina: Another Hoboken wine bar! They decorate really nicely for the holidays so I like to go there around that time of year and get a hearty, cozy meal. Its a modern Italian establishment with a bit more of a flare than the classic Italian-American dishes like Chicken Parmesan. They change their menu seasonally, which I appreciate. The Ricotta Crostini is amazing and everyone likes the Ragu Pasta. It can get pricey, especially since its not BYOB like so many of the spots we frequent, but its not anything crazy. They are really knowledgeable about wine and have an awesome selection. They accept reservations and have outdoor seating in the warmer months.

Orale Mexican Kitchen: This new spot is a welcome addition in Hoboken. The original location is in Jersey City. It has a trendy and cool atmosphere with crazy decor that makes it fun. It also has some trendy twists on classic Mexican dishes (think truffle guacamole). Its buzzy and loud and a bit of a ‘scene.’ I think that its a spot that you go to for the atmosphere and having a fun Saturday night out with friends or for a first date. They accept reservations with some limitations.

Charritos: There are 3 Charritos locations: downtown (vegan), midtown (authentic Mexican with more entree focus) and a location in Weehawken (tex-mex). We typically get this as our go-to delivery so we don’t go the restaurant unless we have guests in town usually. We used to frequent the uptown location but then it closed and a piece of my heart broke. I go in depth on my order and tips in the delivery/take out section of this post. They accept reservations with some limitations. It’s BYOB and if you bring tequila they can make you margaritas and if you bring wine they can make sangria (with a charge). I haven’t given the vegan restaurant that they opened enough of a chance yet because what I LOVE there is the cheese but I want to go there during the week.

Cucharamama: This South American spot has the flare and the food. I prefer going here in the warmer weather and sitting outside. The bread alone is enough of a reason to go! This is a fun spot to go with a group because you can order a bunch of dishes and try them tapas style. The only downside is that they can be a little inconsistent and I haven’t figured out the schedule as to when its been better. They accept reservations.

Del Frisco’s Grille: I hardly ever go here because I typically go into Manhattan if I’m looking for a fancy, ‘special occasion’ meal. However, this is a good spot to go with your parents when they visit and things of that sort. Its lively and fun in there. It is a more laid back version with more unique items on the menu than the Del Friscos in Manhattan though. They accept reservations.

Amandas: This spot is a little stuffy for me because I’m just not really a white tablecloth gal. However, I appreciate their attention to detail and care for cuisine. I think this is a great restaurant to go to take your dad out to on his birthday or bring your grandma to when she visits. They accept reservations.

Saku: I haven’t been yet but I’m so excited to try this new Japanese restaurant that I’ve heard great things about!

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Delivery/Take Out:

Charritos: If you follow along on my Insta-stories then you know that this is a weekly staple in my household. I basically need to get Cheese Enchiladas every weekend that I’m home. I want to be ashamed but I’m honestly not because it makes me so happy. The Cheese Enchiladas with salsa ranchera are my favorite. Jay mixes it up more than I do and rotates between the Steak Burrito, different enchiladas, and various tacos. All of the items reheat really well with a quick zap in the microwave. We always get spicy Guacamole, of course. Their chips that come with it are the best! Sometimes we also get flour tortillas, cheese and Guacamole delivered from there to make quesadillas at home and they are so good! It’s my favorite meal of all time! Ever since they closed the 11th street location, I’ve found that getting Uber Eats delivery from the Weehawken location is my best bet for getting the enchiladas just right! As you can see, I take it very seriously!

Johnny Pepperoni: We’ve tried so many of the famous NYC & Brooklyn spots and Johnny Pepperoni (aka Jpeps in our house) holds a strong flame against the competition (and beats out many of them). We get fried eggplant (its the thin, super fried kind) and hot peppers as toppings. My husband also loves the pepperoni so he will get that when he’s not eating vegetarian with me. We get their round pie (classic crust thickness) usually but Jay loves getting the square pie (thick, grandma style crust) whenever someone else will order it with him (I like it but would rather the classic and also I’d rather eat more pizza than just one slice of the thicker crust). I always put it in the oven once we get it delivered and just a quick reheat in the oven goes a long way. Trust me, it’s worth the wait and SO good.

Grimaldis: A famous establishment for obvious reasons! We typically get the plain pie. Definitely reheat it in the oven. The crust is so good! They do not work with any apps so you have to order directly with them.

Honey Grow: My go-to salad place. Its better when you get it there because you have more options than when you get it delivered. It’s also really efficient because they have touch screens where you input your own order.

Mamoun’s Falafel: My favorite Mediterranean spot. I usually will get some sort of platter with falafel, hummus, feta, lettuce, and pita.

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Bars:

Pier 13: This is a seasonal bar/food truck destination that is set on a pier that juts out over the Hudson river with the most epic views of the NYC skyline. Pier 13 used to be one of my favorite places ever but over the years, its definitely taken a turn. It now attracts a lot of out of towners..some of whom wear heels and get dressed to the nines for this outdoor, formerly super chill bar. They used to have bean bag chairs, Jenga and live music…basically I can’t get over mourning the loss of what it once was. However, I figured out that in order to get that chill atmosphere, I just have to go there during the week and avoid it on the weekends (except some during the day visits on the weekends can be fine). I think that an awesome night out is just walking to the Pier, grabbing food from the food trucks, and going into the bar section to hang out (obviously with beer, sangria or rosé for those who can drink). They also have movie night there where you go and watch a movie on a projector screen! I recommend following Pier 13 on social media so you can see the dates they are open (since the weather really impacts it), the food trucks that they have on site, any events (such as movie night), etc. It’s a really fun and unique spot!

Pilsener Haus & Biergarten: I love going here in the warmer months when I can sit outside at the picnic tables! This spot begs you to have a pretzel and beer and just hang with your friends for hours. Make sure to go in the Fall for Oktoberfest!

Green Rock: In this area it’s hard to find a bar with such great pricing. This bar will make you feel like you’re back in college with $1 beer happy hour.

City Bistro Rooftop: Another good spot for the warmer months. I’ve found the food to be hit or miss so I stopped going there for the sole purpose of having dinner but I think that its a fun spot to meet friends for happy hour with food and drinks.

Texas Arizona: For my fellow Penn State alum, this is a great spot to watch the games, along with Village Pour House.

Sting Ray Lounge: A more upscale and mature place (hence the lounge name) for an older crowd and/or a good date spot. They serve oysters as well.

10th And Willow: My husband used to frequent this spot during his bachelor/less crazy of a work schedule days. It was his go-to spot for Monday night football because they have all you can eat wings.

Wicked Wolf: The most popular place to watch a football game in the square mile. It’s bumping there on a football Sunday!

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Delis:

Fiore’s: This is the GOAT deli! It’s old school in every sense. It’s super old school and authentic. The roast beef sandwich is their most famous item but they sell out of it so quickly so you have to go on the designated day to get it. They have amazing fresh mozzarella that I LOVE. They are closed on Sundays and are cash only.

M & P Biancamano: They typically win the Mutz Fest competition (a competition where you try all the different fresh mozzarella from the different delis and vote. Mutz Fest has a really cool concept but I didn’t particularly enjoy it because its held inside and was SO crowded and loud. I wish they would do it as an outdoor festival). I will go here and grab fresh mozzarella when I’m making a cheese plate for entertaining, which always goes over well. I also love grabbing mozzarella, bread and olive oil and taking it for a picnic in the warmer months. It’s a major hole in the wall shop and nothing fancy or nice but the owners are just how you want/expect them to be. They’re closed on Sundays and are cash only.

Vito’s: Our go-to spot for delivery when we want deli items. We tend to get this in the summer when we can get it delivered to the pool or rooftop and eat outside. There are so many choices in Hoboken but we think this is the best deli that delivers.

Surgery Essentials
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As you may know, I am currently recovering from back/hip surgery. On Christmas Day, 2012 I was hit by a car and have undergone many, many surgeries since then. Needless to say, this is not my first rodeo and I’ve learned A LOT along the way. I have learned what products are super helpful, how to counterbalance some of the side effects of pain killers, and so much more. I hope that me learning lessons that hard way can help even a few people deal with a hard situation with a little more ease. Obviously, my main wish is that no one would get hurt or sick or have to go to the hospital. If you do unfortunately need to stay in the hospital and/or get surgery, I hope that this post will at least be helpful for you. Feel free to always leave a comment on the post or shoot me an email at carly@thecozycurator.com if there’s any questions that you have or if there is anything that I can do to further help you.

I know that this post is for a very specific demographic and it makes me laugh because its like bloggers who post a ‘what’s in my hospital bag’ post when they have a baby. This would be around my 15th ‘baby’ if that was the case so I unfortunately have a lot of experience and have truly figured out products that help as much as possible. If you have to get surgery or stay in the hospital for another reason, please know that my heart goes out to you and that I am standing on the sidelines rooting for you!

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Extra Long Phone Charger: I first got an extra long phone charger for a hospital stay so that my phone could reach the bed and still get charged (hospitals suck so much phone battery) if I needed it (not that I’m ever really up for looking at my phone in the hospital). Then, I became hooked and use this length phone charger all the time. I keep one with my travel bag as well so that I always have a long enough phone charger in a hotel and all of that. I also keep one in my living room that reaches the couch. Whether you are getting surgery or not, this will change your life!

Crutch Pads: If you are on crutches then you NEED these pads. I don’t understand why they don’t automatically give them to everyone when you get crutches. They are crucial for comfort and also just make the actual experience of crutching easier to manage. I can’t even fathom not having these! I (aka my caretaker) puts them in the washing machine every 2 weeks or so and let’s them air dry (try to get it so they air dry while you are sleeping).

Crutch Bag: I also can’t imagine surviving my time on crutches without this bag that I call my “crutch purse.” Obviously, an annoying part of being on crutches is not having your hands to carry anything. Also, I never wear things with pockets while I am recovering because I live in PJs and sweatpants. This bag is a game changer because I can put my phone it it to transport, medicine, a water bottle, ect. I sometimes will also put snacks in a little ziplock bag and place it in the bag to transport. If you’ve ever been on crutches then you know that it’s close to impossible to eat if you don’t have a caretaker who can hand you food, especially if it hurts to sit down or stand up in the kitchen close to the food. This bag is a life saver!

Gel Ice Packs: The soft gel ice packs have been great for my back, hip and pelvic surgeries. Its soft and flat so I can actually lay on it. Icing is so important and so helpful during post-op.

Ice Machine: If you are getting surgery on a limb like your knee, shoulder, ect, then I think that this machine is awesome! It was so clutch for my knee surgeries. They automatically sent me home with it from the hospital and my insurance covered the cost after I had posterior lateral corner reconstruction on my knee. If your insurance won’t approve it though, I would highly recommend purchasing it on your own. Your caretaker can fill it up with water and ice and plug it in for you in the morning and then you have a solid amount of hours of icing that you can do on your own from there since it automatically pumps cold water into the part that wraps around you. It has velcro so you can easily take it on and off for your icing routine. Obviously, the machine gets pretty heavy when you fill it with water and ice so its best for a non-injured person to fill it (and if you’re on crutches you obviously can’t carry it).

Shower Seat: My doctors ordered me this shower seat after my accident and I’ve used it SO much since. It’s dangerous trying to shower while you are really hurt but showering is SO important to me and feeling as best as I can. Obviously, when you are non-weight bearing then you need the shower seat in order to shower at all. Obviously, it would be impossible for me to get in and out of a bath and you’re not even allowed to go in submerged water for a while after getting stitches. The handles on this are helpful for getting up and down as well. Even if you are not on crutches, this seat can be helpful if your balance is off post-op or from being sick due to feeling faint, being in pain, etc.

Commode: If you’ve ever stayed over in the hospital then you probably recognize this fun contraption. They never let me leave the hospital until I can prove that I can walk to the bathroom on my own (even if it involves a lot of shaking and tears and all that fun stuff) so when I get home I use this as a commode with no bucket on top of my actual toilet. If your toilet is low and you are getting back or knee surgery (especially if you’re supposed to be non-weight bearing and not putting your leg with weight down) then this is helpful. It provides you with extra height so you don’t have to sit down as low (easier to hold your leg up too) and has handles, which are so useful for getting up and down on the toilet.

Power Recliner: After my accident, my parents’ generously bought a power recliner for their house, which I moved into. You use a remote to tip it back or lift yourself up. It lifts you almost up to a standing position so I didn’t have to push off to stand up. This was helpful when I had a multitude of injuries at once and I’m so grateful for it. It was also helpful for elevating my knee when I had knee surgeries. With all of my back surgeries though, I’ve needed to lay down flat so I don’t use it. I think that this is an excessive purchase for a singular surgery and would only recommend it if you have to get multiple surgeries or are getting older and think it would be helpful. With all of electronic things, I’m always wary that you don’t want to get dependent on it and instead want to make sure that you are using your muscles once you’re allowed to. After my accident, we had a hospital bed downstairs for around 8 months as well which was helpful since it had electronic abilities. This was good because I went back and forth from the hospital bed to the recliner and could still be in the main living space near everyone. I haven’t done this for my other surgeries though.

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Blanket: I think that it’s nice to have a nice blanket in the hospital with you from home. The bedding is horrible in hospitals and its just nice to have something comforting. This is my favorite blanket that I also use at home while I recover and just in my day to day life. Its the coziest and perfect weight!

Pillow: If you experience any back/spine/neck pain then you NEED this pillow. It is worth every penny and more. It does not feel all cozy and delicious so it takes some time to get used to. However, I cannot sleep with anything else. It aligns your spine so well and keeps it stable. It’s a game changer!

Body Pillow: I also could not survive without my body pillow. I have a lot of hip/SI joint problems so my body pillow is so helpful for keeping my hips aligned while laying on my side. It keeps everything in balance and my spine aligned. I have a cheap one but am dying to try this memory foam one one day because I think it would feel great for my hurt knee.

Constipation Remedies: Ah, one of the many joys of surgery! I hate painkillers for SO many reasons but this is one of them. I won’t get into the details of SO many bad experiences that I’ve had with this problem post op. Even without the medication, constipation is still an issue for me when I am recovering because I am not moving enough (and I swing this way to begin with). Even when I don’t take pain killers after a surgery or procedure (I’m really cheap with them and will suffer a lot to avoid taking them), I still have this issue due to getting anesthesia. I think that eating enough and a lot of fiber (even when you don’t want to) is so important. I also have used these products but am not a doctor so I definitely recommend consulting your doctor before using any of them. Regardless though, its so important to advocate for yourself right away about this! They are not nearly aggressive enough in the hospital and they think its not a big deal to not go for a couple of days but a couple of days quickly becomes over a week and then it becomes an issue. Bring it up to them right away that you are concerned about it. I’ve found stool softeners, Miralax, suppositories, and Smooth Moves tea (plus hot drinks in general) to be helpful. Like I said, everyone is different so even when I do all of that for many days, I still cannot go to the bathroom. I would never try all of that at once of course and you can’t do it long term. The one product that I have found to get the job done once I reach the over a week time frame is a magnesium citrate drink. It’s gross but good to know about for the emergency level. Once again, I am not a doctor! I just didn’t know this would be such a problem until I lived it myself and had some scaring experiences so I recommend being on top of it before it becomes a bigger issue and talking to your nurses about it.

Nausea Remedies: Another really unfortunate part of taking pain medication and having anesthesia is nausea. There are few things in the world as terrible as being in extreme levels of pain and then throwing up and aggravating the area that you were just cut into. It’s the worst and one of MANY reasons that I rush to get off of pain medication as fast as possible. I’m definitely sensitive to medications and am prone to nausea so I know a ton of people do not have this problem to the severity that I do. I tell the anesthesiologist many times that I am afraid of being nauseous now so that he/she gives me anti-nausea medication in my IV with the anesthesia I also have medication ordered for me in advance so that its ready if I need it and the nurse can get it to me quickly. Obviously, I am not a doctor so if you are prone to nausea as well, just consult your doctor about it. You are your own best advocate! Even if I am nauseous, I make sure to eat when I am taking medication (so aka frequently) because I need something to coat my stomach. I also have found that artificial sugar weirdly has helped me. I eat a lot of Italian Ices during those initial phases (the hospital I go to always has them, I just have to ask for it) and find that the lemon particularly is helpful. I think that the combination of the cold with the sugar is helpful but really I don’t have a true explanation. My dad called them healing ices and would always go get me them because they helped. I also think that Sou Patch kids are helpful..don’t know why haha. Ginger products and crackers with salt are also helpful.

Electrolyte Water: I like drinking PH water in general but I find it particularly helpful when I’m not feeling well. I get really dizzy post-op so anything that can at all help, I’m down with! I love the sports bottle cap on the Smartwater for drinking while laying flat (which is a challenge).

Socks with Grips: Make sure to only wear socks with grips for safety purposes because you cannot afford to slip and fall! I also try to be good about putting on a slipper to get even more traction.

Slippers: These are the extremely unattractive shoes that I wear around my house on an everyday basis (recovering from surgery or not) due to my injuries. They have good support for your joints and make the ground feel less hard beneath you (I find it to be more painful standing on the ground), slide on without needing to bend down to put them on or fix the lip, hugs your foot (has a back) and are super lightweight. If anyone knows any cooler looking shoes that meet that requirement, please let me know because I’d love a more attractive option considering I wear them every single day and even travel with them. I can never find another pair that slides on without me needing to bend down to fix it but still has a back on it.

Comfy Loungewear: Obviously, its crucial to have comfortable loungewear for your recovery! This one and this one are my current favorite sets!

Comfy PJs: Soft and comfortable pajamas are also crucial. This brand and this brand (run short) are my favorites!

Face Wipes: Having these face wipes are helpful so that you don’t have to lean over a sink and wash your face. They are also clutch in the hospital when you can’t shower and want to feel cleaner. I recommend buying baby wipes as well for that reason. Always test products in advance though so that you aren’t recovering from surgery and experiencing an allergic reaction to a new product!

Noise Canceling Headphones: If you share a room enough times at a hospital then you are bound to have some stories that you never wanted to have! Even if you don’t have crazy roommates, there’ still a lot of naturally disturbing elements of sharing a room in the hospital. There are also a lot of machines beeping, people talking, and other things that can seem intolerable when you are super sick or in pain. I highly recommend making a playlist of calming music that you like. I also have found the headspace app to be useful. I haven’t liked doing guided meditations in that level of pain post op because its too hard to even focus on words a lot of the time but I like the sounds feature for sleep in the app. I think that there is power in calming music and just trying to relax through the pain as much as possible. My other headphones weren’t cutting it because there was a lot of background noise mixed in and its really easy to feel agitated when you are suffering at that level. Thankfully, my husband has these awesome headphones that he shares with me when I need to cut out exterior sounds and try to get to a relaxed state when I’m in a lot of pain. They are a miracle device! You hit a toggle and its like you are underwater and the outside sounds die down so much!

Baby Wipes: Crucial for the hospital and feeling as clean as possible!

Folder: It’s helpful to have a folder with all of your surgery materials that you take you put your pre-op and post-op instructions in. I have an accordion folder in my filing area that I keep any long term papers in but most of the time I just take pictures of things and store the information electronically. Keep a notes section in your phone to write down any questions that you have as they come up so that you can ask the doctor about them during your appointments. I also have a shared album in the photos on my phone with medical photos so I keep any photos that I take on my phone of scans, wound tracking, ect in there.

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My Current Skin Care Routine
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Here is a makeup free, edit free, harsh AF lit selfie for today’s skin care routine post. My skin is obviously far from perfect! However, I put a lot of effort into taking great care of it and I feel like it loves me back when I do. It’s our biggest organ and I think that it’s important to treat it nicely. I am someone that values feeling clean and soft more so than feeling ‘done up’ so skincare is definitely a passion of mine over makeup (although clearly makeup is very important haha). I’m a big believer that your makeup can only look good if the skin that you are applying it to looks good and is healthy.

I have really stepped up my skincare regimen within the last 5 years and have noticed a huge difference in my skin from so many of these products and steps. In today’s post, I break down all of my routines (the routine after I shower and before bed are the most important) and talk about the products that have been game changers for me. Because I am interested in skin care, I try a decent amount of products and always circle back to these because I can’t find others that measure up (I also rule out a lot of them because I’m so picky about scents..whoops). I know that there’s a lot of steps but they are worth it and can be done quicker once you get in a rhythm. If you don’t workout in the morning, just use my ‘Post Shower’ routine as your morning routine and my night routine as your night routine. Here it goes..

Morning Routine…right when I wake up, before I workout:

  1. Face Wipes: Leaning over a sink and half bending to wash my face really hurts my back so in the morning I will just clean my face with one of these face wipes.

  2. Eye cream: Since I’m going to shower after I workout, I am stingy with the amount of eye cream I use first thing in the morning but I use some none the less. I have a lot of lines under my eyes and pretty prominent crows feet (for a 29 year old) so I really appreciate how thick and ‘real deal’ this eye cream feels. I’ve noticed a difference since I started using in with how my under eye concealer sets as well.

  3. Moisturizer: I could bathe in this stuff I love it so much. It feels so luxurious when you’re putting it on and works so well. It doesn’t leave you greasy but still is so hydrating. Once again, since I’m going to workout soon after, I am cheap with the amount of product I use at this point in the day.

In The Shower…following my workout:

  1. Face wash: I do my deep clean face wash once I get in the shower after my workout (sometimes I don’t shower for a while after I workout though…whoops). I use this Clarisonic brush with my face was 2-3 times a week and the other days I put it on with my hands. You want to be careful about how many times you exfoliate your face in a week.

  2. Additional Face Wash For Breakouts: I add this in only when I’m having breakouts or am feeling like I’m about to have a breakout. I scrub it on the Clarisonic brush first and then use the brush on my face. I noticed that adding this additional face washing step it helps with acne when I see it! If I’m using this, I will use it before my other face wash because it doesn’t leave your skin feeling soft.

Morning Routine…after I shower following my workout:

  1. Toner: Toner is a GAME CHANGER for breakouts and clearing up your skin. I am so glad that I added it into my routine because I’ve seen big changes from it. This one smells awesome and feels different than the others that I’ve tried. It is pricey but lasts SO long. My bottle lasts me at least a year. I just pump it once into my hand and then rub it onto my face directly. Then, I let it soak in for a couple of minutes and put on my deodorant and stuff.

  2. Vitamin C Serum: This is the product that I most recently added into my routine and I’m so glad that I did. It has changed the brightness of my skin in a great way! I was reluctant to spend more money on my skincare routine so I held off on adding it for so long but now I realize that the bottle I bought will last for forever (I bet it lasts me well over a year). You need such a tiny amount and the bottle is so big. I heard that it can make your skin sensitive to the sun so in the warmer months I will likely switch this into my night time routine. I pump one pump into my hand and then spread it all over my face (its a tiny amount). I let this soak into my skin for a couple of minutes and moisturize my body in the meantime. If you do that, make sure to wash your hands well after so that you don’t get the body lotion on your face.

  3. Eye cream: Same daytime one as earlier in the morning. I’m trying to be better about remembering to apply it with my ring finger since its such sensitive skin.

  4. Face oil: This is a game changer for moisturizing! It will not make you break out, don’t be deceived. Just put a tiny amount into your hand and then massage it into your skin. After this, I want it to soak in for a couple of minutes so I brush out my hair.

  5. Moisturizer: Same product that I use first thing in the morning. I love that it has SPF 30 in it for the day time.

Night Routine…right before bed:

  1. Makeup Remover Wipes: If I’m wearing makeup, I start taking it off with these wipes. Then, I use this liquid remover on a cotton square and/or q-tip.

  2. Face Wash: Depending on if I wore makeup or not, I will actually wash my face with my face wash (if I wore makeup) or just use the wipes again (a lot of the reason I don’t wear makeup frequently is because it hurts my back so much taking it off so my goal is to use the wipes).

  3. Eye Cream: Using a night time specific eye cream has been so helpful for me. I’m not sure why but in the morning I can tell the difference if I used this one versus another one.

  4. Face Oil: This night time face oil is my great addition. I discovered it a couple of years ago and I can’t live without it. I used to travel without it but I was missing it so much that I now have to bring it where ever I go. If I don’t have it, my face feels so dry! I am more generous with lathering this on (I pump it into my hand and then onto my face) because I typically workout in the morning so I don’t care if my hair gets a little of it in it. If you’re worried about it though, I would just tie your hair up and then use a couple of small drops and you’d be totally fine. This product is pricey but lasts me half a year on average (and would last you longer if you weren’t as excessive as I am).

  5. Jade Roll: On the nights that I am dedicated, I will use my jade roller after putting on the oil to really make it soak in. I want to be better about adding in this step because I really only do it once a week on average. I really love it and feel it de-puff my face mainly, I just get lazy.

  6. Moisturizer: After letting the face oil soak in for a few minutes while I do other tasks to get ready for bed, I apply my moisturizer. Then, I try to do a few more tasks to let it soak in before getting in bed.

Weekly routine..once a week on average (some weeks I DEFINITELY skip):

Tanning Lotion: During the colder months, I use this awesome tanning lotion once a week or once every 2 weeks. One bottle lasts me a year so its definitely worth the investment. The cream is white and you cannot mess up the application. It’s SO easy, you just apply it like regular lotion and don’t have to worry about streaks. Just rub it in and then wash your hands and let it dry for a couple of minutes before putting on your clothes. I’ll apply in in the morning and then shower later in the day so that I don’t get in my sheets with it on, even though I’m sure it would be fine because the cream is white. It doesn’t smell bad but I just don’t LOVE the smell and I’m a psycho about being clean so I want to shower a few hours after applying it even though I know it would be more effective if I didn’t. It produces a really subtle and awesome fake tan and I couldn’t recommend it more. I put it on my face as well and have never had any issues. I get asked a lot about the brown bottle versus the white bottle and they’re the same thing.

Face Mask: On Sundays, I try and do a face mask. Full transparency, I probably only realistically do this half the Sundays of the year. I do my face masks after I shower because my pours open up in the steam. Some of my favorites are this one for brightening, this one for acne/general care, and this one for extra moisture and to use when I travel. I also just bought this one to try because I heard great things.

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New Years 2019
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Oh 2018, how I would love to forget the tragedy and pain that you brought. And yet, I don’t want to forget you because you were the last year that I got to sit in my dad’s presence.


My legs are split open over the line of the changing year with my head and heart tossing from one side to another. I want my heart to stop feeling like it’s gushing blood constantly like it has the last couple of months of 2018 and yet I’m desperately afraid of time moving forward and any of my memories...of the inflections of his face, his laugh, his hand gestures and his lingo to fade. 


If 2018 brought you good fortune, I hope it continues tenfold this next year. If it brought you heartbreak, I hope that 2019 finds a way to fill your soul with something else that you so desperately need. Happy New Year, friends. I’m so grateful for you ❤️ #FromCarlysHeart #2019

Teeth Whitening Review

My mom has the most perfect (natural) teeth on the planet. I remember being a kid and being amazed at how white and straight they were. Even before I really valued it, I knew that it was special. After all, its hard not to notice people’s smiles. Someone’s smile is so important. I feel like someone’s smile (and how much they use it) really gives you a sense of that person. I started valuing it from a young age and added it to my list of the many reasons that I wanted to be just like my mom.

When I was around 14 years old, a local family in my town lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire. My mom bought them tons of new clothes, toys and other things. The mom of the family was a dental hygienist at my dentists’ office so as a thank you she offered to give us all teeth whitening trays. My mom turned her down a few times but eventually accepted and continued her selflessness by giving them to my sister and I (I guess she also didn’t need it haha). I’ve used those trays on and off over the years but my teeth have shifted and changed since I was so young so I really needed new trays. I quickly found out that if you are not getting them comped like I originally did, they are actually really expensive!

Enter Smile Brilliant! Smile brilliant is an affordable and easy solution to teeth whitening. Its truly made for everyone because the price point is attainable and you can do everything from home. As you may know, I do as much as I can from home. I online shop, get a lot of my groceries delivered, abuse my Amazon Prime membership, and all that jazz. Therefore, I was pumped to not have to go to an office to get my trays made.

At first, I was slightly intimidated that making my molds was going to be confusing but it was SO easy! They give you fool proof instructions in your package. The whole process took me 10 minutes maximum.

If you’re wondering if teeth whitening is right for you, you should read this article 7 Things To Know Before Buying Teeth Whitening. They also have a guarantee program, which is outlined here.

I don’t drink coffee (I’m too naturally prone to anxiety to be able to handle caffeine), I don’t drink wine or other colored beverages (I don’t produce an enzyme to digest alcohol through my liver or I would gladly drink wine haha), I don’t smoke and I just generally avoid a lot of the things that would discolor my teeth to begin with. I think that this helps me see lasting results from whitening my teeth and its a silver lining to the rest.

Now, I will be using my system for years to come for ‘touch ups’ every now and again! Plus, I’ll be keeping up with my lipstick usage, which always helps my teeth look whiter, even if they have lipstick on them half the time like a crazy person!

My readers get 15% off with the coupon code thecozycurator15

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This post is sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

NYE Outfits
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Skirt, Top, Shoes

You guys know that I love a great excuse to get dolled up and fancy. I am either in sweatpants or a dress basically. My sister and I always joke because when she asks what I’m going to wear to something she goes so are you going homeless vibe or wearing a dress? I would like to add that I also wear athleisure a good amount haha. On NYE I like to take the opportunity to get fully dressed up. I’m not a big sparkle or glitz girl (except for when it comes to diamonds, I mean come on haha). Even if you don’t have fancy NYE plans, I think that dressing up in a festive outfit is a way to make it feel different than any other night. Well that and champagne but we all know I can’t drink so I have to wear extra glitter in my outfit to compensate.

This year, I will be in Florida for NYE. My parents always celebrated NYE with their best friends and when we were kids we used to celebrate with them. They recently moved to Florida so after my dad’s passing they kindly invited us down there to celebrate it with them. We are one big extended family (kids included) and so it will be good to all be together for it. It’s another holiday in the list of them all that is crappy this year so I am glad that we will be together as a group/fam. We are going to stay at their condo and all hang out. What are your plans for NYE? Are you going big or laying low?

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