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Friday Faves: April 30, 2021

Happy Friday everyone! Originally, I thought I would just take a blogging break for the week since I have been feeling under the weather. It’s nothing crazy – I just hurt my back last week, and I have been taking it easy. However, I decided to just take a moment to share this week’s favorites since it is one of my favorite posts to write.

Peloton App: I had the Peloton app last year during the first part of COVID when nothing was open. Once my trial ended, I cancelled it. My Apple Fitness Plus membership was soon ending, so I decided to try Peloton to pair with my bike. I also cancelled Jazzercise, since I have not been using it as well. So far, I am really enjoying the app. It’s only $13 a month, but comes with so much – so much more than the cycling classes! I have been doing the meditation and the strength workouts, and I am really enjoying them both. I also want to make it clear that you do not need a Peloton bike to enjoy the app. All you need is a spin bike. I think it’s more cost effective to do it this way, because you get the Peloton experience without the price tag.

Little Words Project Bracelets: I’ve been wearing this (and hoarding them) for about a year now, and I am obsessed with these bracelets. If you are not familiar with the brand, basically the bracelets are beaded crystal bracelets with a positive message on them. I have been adding new ones to my collection and have been obsessed. Some of my favorites are: self-love, breathe, just relax, and manifest. Many of the ones that I have are from past collections, but I will link all of the ones still available. These also make excellent Mother’s Day gifts, for the mom in your life.

The Sopranos: I took a little bit of a break from the Sopranos. However, now I am in full binge mode. I am at the end of the fourth season, and I have been watching 2-3 episodes a day. Yeah, I am that obsessed.

Teleties: I picked these up from Tickled Pink recently, and I am obsessed. I wear my hair up all of the time, and I am a huge fan of the Silk hair ties. However, I love these just as much as the Silk ones. They hold my hair really well, and they come in so many fun colors.

Blessing Bracelets: Your girl loves bracelets. I purchased this Blessing bracelet from the Tickled Pink online shop as well, and I am already going to grab at least one more. I love the concept of this. There are four beads on the bracelet, and each bead stands as a reminder of a blessing. I have the amethyst one, which I stack with my Little Words Project bracelets and my T. Jazelle ones.

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Women Who Work: Kristen Bellico, Owner of Brightside Nutrition

Photo Credit: Kristen Bellico

2021 was the year that I discovered nutrition teas and protein shakes, as I head down my own weight-loss journey. And, I am not the only one, as many of these protein shakes and tea shops have been popping up everywhere.

Kristen Bellico is the owner of the up and coming Brightside Nutrition, which is expected to open in May 2021. Kristen, a former teacher, has found a new career path as a business owner after losing 60 pounds. I got the opportunity to talk to Kristen recently over email to talk about her journey, and her new business.

What inspired you to start Brightside Nutrition? 

Prior to COVID, I was a preschool teacher for 4 years. While teaching, I gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of motivation to be the best version of myself. It wasn’t until I found Herbalife Nutrition, got on a nutrition program, lost over 60lbs in 1-2 years and really wanted to share these products with others. As an additional income and side job, I became a health coach and distributor for Herbalife products. When COVID happened, my whole world changed. My preschool shut down and my teaching job came to a halt. However I then had the opportunity to manage a nutrition club in Monroe (Lakeside Nutrition) full-time. I fell in love with the business model and my new life as an entrepreneur. It feels incredible to share good nutrition and wellness with people who, at the time of quarantine and still, appreciate the value of our products.

Where will it be located? Do you have an opening date?
In the summer of 2020, I made plans to move forward opening my own nutritional beverage bar – Brightside Nutrition. I found my ‘dream’ location in the beautiful town of Southbury, CT. Currently, we just passed our rough-in inspection for electrical and plumbing. So we are now able to put in the finishing touches! We are aiming for a mid-May opening! When you come to Brightside Nutrition, our signature combo is a Funfetti Cake shake with a cotton candy fat reducing shot, paired with a Brightside ultimate energy tea.. with flavors of orange, pineapple, and blue blast.

What will be on the menu? What is an athletes menu?

I will be offering a wide variety of meal replacing smoothies, energizing iced teas, protein coffees, and healthy snack frappucinos. We will also have a selection for the ‘every day athlete’, meaning post workout recovery and preworkout boosters. 

Can you tell me some of the health benefits from your drinks? 
All of our smoothies have a minimum of 24g of plant base protein, 200 calorie base, less than 1% dairy. They carry all the macro- and micronutrients you need in a complete meal. All of our energizing teas are made with green tea, minimum 80mg caffeine with options to enhance with more caffeine. The teas are all sugar-free, made with a stevia sweetener for extra flavor. There will also be the option to enhance with some of our wellness boosters, such as: beauty collagen, probiotic, immunity support, and so much more.

Do you have any nutrition or fitness tips you want to share with readers?

80% nutrition 20% fitness 100% mindset. Eat balanced meals. Stay active. No diets, create a healthy lifestyle. Stay consistent. Small steps in the right direction will lead to big results.These products and my coaching are available at ANY TIME. Every month we run a 21 day challenge to jumpstart the best version of yourself. Starts on the 1st of every month. If you would like to enter or chat about your own customized nutrition plan, you can find me on instagram at @kristenbellico & @brightsidenutrition. Or e-mail me.

Do you have any tips for someone who wants to open their own business?

Stop thinking about all that could go wrong and start thinking about what can go right. There will always be an obstacle in your way testing your commitment to the goal. If you want it bad enough, keep a positive mindset. Have the “it’s no problem” attitude. The positive mindset will set you a part from the rest. Look on the bright side of every situation!!

You can find further information about Brightside Nutrition on Facebook and Instagram. Brightside Nutrition will be located at 220 Main Street in Southbury.

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Another Mother’s Day Without Mom

I thought there was nothing worse than the initial pain and shock when you lose a parent. It feels almost as if your heart can’t break any further than it already has, and you can never escape from it. Until you eventually start to heal. And then holidays come around, and all of a sudden, you are back where you first started.

Mother’s Day this year seems like the hardest day for me. This isn’t the first one that I’ve had to celebrate without my mother, but this one has been hard because it’s more real that she is not here. The first one was spent as a distraction, the second was when the lockdown was in full swing, and now, it’s real. While my boyfriend is thinking about buying a gift for his mom at the Paper Store or on Amazon, all I can think about is the fact that all I will buy my mother is a bouquet of flowers that is left on her gravestone. And right now, it’s a hard pill to swallow.

The truth is — I just miss her. And, I have come to accept that I will for the rest of my life. I have come to accept that my mom will never meet her grandkids — even her furry one that she would love. I have come to accept that my mom will never get that rightful desire to walk down the aisle with me on my wedding day. It really sucks if you ask me.

I know that I am not the only child without a mother on Mother’s Day and not the only person in the world who is suffering from loss. However, I am tired of keeping everything bottled inside, which is why I decided to write this post in the first place. I wish it was more normalized to feel this way about grieving, and although in recent years, more things have become more open about mental illness, I feel it’s the hardest thing to open about. I am lucky enough to have a few people that I know to support me, but even then, I still feel alone.

So, happy Mother’s Day to those out there whose mother is up in heaving looking down on them who is reading this. I have no way to express my sorrow other than to say that I am sorry, and I hope that you take extra care of yourself on that day.

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Shopping My Way Around CT: Tickled Pink in Seymour

This past weekend, my boyfriend and I ventured to Seymour to check out a store that I have been wanting to go to for a while. That store is Tickled Pink, a family owned boutique that is located at 23 Bank Street in Seymour. The business has been a part of the Seymour community for about 15 years.

Tickled Pink is one of the cutest boutiques that I’ve been to lately, and is a great place to go to if you’re looking to shop for a gift or something for yourself. They have so many great things to choose from — from home decor to jewelry, and have brands such as T. Jazzelle, Little Words Project, Scout, Mantraband, Jellycat and so much more. Everything is pretty reasonably priced, so it’s very easy to find something that won’t hit hard on the budget.

What really stuck out to me about this shop is the customer service that I received. I unfortunately did not get her name, however, she was amazing from the moment I wandered in to the second I left the store. She was able to find the T. Jazzelle bracelet that I wanted, which was not even on the shelf yet, and was so friendly and passionate about her business. She also was very helpful with answering my questions about any of the items in the store.

Furthermore, Tickled Pink has something that I find is becoming more and more common with small business — a strong social media presence. Every Tuesday, there is a Facebook live, known as Tickled Pink Tuesday, where the owners will go on to share about all of the new arrivals and have live sales.

Furthermore, there is now an app that is available in the App Store of your choosing where you can go onto and shop. And, if you refer a friend, you and that friend get a percentage off. Lives are also on the app as well.

I tuned into the Tickled Pink Tuesday night and I am so glad that I did. They had so many fun items from jewelry to home decor to bath products. The energy was amazing, and every product was explained in full detail. I may have purchased a few items from the live, and I’m so excited to receive them.

I also want to mention that using the app to shop is so easy. All you do is press the shop button while tuning into the live and you can find it instantly in your cart.

While this was my first visit to Tickled Pink, it certainly won’t be the last. I have a few items on my wishlist, and I definitely want to continue supporting this small business for many years to come.

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Eating My Way Around CT: UNutrition in Hamden

I have always been skeptical of protein shakes. How could a shake that tasted like a milk shake be good for you?

Well, that changed a few weeks back when I got the inkling to try U-Nutrition in Hamden. Located on the Mount Carmel Plaza on 2985 Whitney Avenue, the shop has been there for about a year now and offers protein shakes, energy tea, and more.

UNutrition is a part of the Community Nutrition family, with additional locations in West Haven, Ansonia, Oxford, Shelton, Prospect, and New Haven.

According to their menu, each protein shake has 24 grams of protein, 21 vitamins, and is less than 250 calories. All shakes are served with an energy tea as well, which have energy shots and additional vitamins.

Now, let’s talk about the flavor selection. There are so many options to choose from no matter what you enjoy. So far, I’ve only gotten the birthday cake one, and it was delicious. When I say that they have pretty much everything, they have pretty much everything. They have chocolate, vanilla, fruit flavored, and so much more. You can view the menu below:

What I love about these shakes is how filling they are. I usually get them on days I have harder workouts and they manage to help keep me full and have extra energy throughout the day.

Another thing I love about UNutrition is their vibe. Every time I go there, the staff is always so kind and welcoming, which is a great and positive start to the day.

Overall, I highly recommend checking UNutrition out if you get the chance for delicious shakes and teas, because they are both delicious and nutritious! Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

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Friday Faves: April 16th, 2021

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah: I wanted to read this before watching the TV show, and I really loved this book. The book is about Kate and Tully, who are two best friends. It’s 1974, and Kate is an awkward junior high school girl while Tully just wants to be loved by her mom. The story follows the girls for three decades, and was an excellent read. I highly recommended reading this one, because I could not put it down.

Aerie Ribbed Woven Joggers: I got these pants to wear in the spring and summer, and I am so happy that I picked these up. They are so comfortable, and go with everything. I am debating on grabbing a second pair in either olive or khaki, as I think that these will be my new summer staple (I also got a few coupons, so why not?)

Heyday Pink Watch Band: I have been wanting a mesh Apple Watch band for a while. The problem? Apple bands are really expensive and I didn’t want to purchase one only for it to tarnish later. I got this band about a week ago, and I am so happy with it. It was a learning curve on how to put it on, but once I did, I am happy I got it. It is light and comfortable, and goes with everything (including my bracelets I wear with it). I got the one in the 38/40 mm.

Made by Aniela spring choker: Full disclosure— I was gifted this. However I am actually considering grabbing another in today’s drop. I love this choker because it fits so comfortably. It’s not too tight on the neck, but it still allows me to layer. This necklace is great on its own, but looks great layered as well. The necklace will be available on Friday, April 16, 2021 at 3 p.m. at the Made by Aniela Etsy shop. Be sure to use the code NATALIE15 for a 15 percent off discount.

The Circle: I was obsessed with this show when it came out last year and I am so happy that it’s back for season two. I’ve been binging this show for the last two days and I highly recommend watching if you’re looking for something to watch.

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#BookTok Books Worth the Read

Booktok, aka the section of TikTok where avid readers discuss their favorite reads has become one of my favorite things to do to unwind. The phenomenon, while new, has become a way to recommend books so much that Barnes and Noble had dedicated an entire page filled with recommendations. After taking a look at what they were, I decided to share with you which ones I’ve read that I thought were worth the read.

They Both Die in the End by Adam SIlvera: Deathcast told Rufus and Mateo that they were going to die today. Rufus, a bad boy, and Mateo, someone who lived for everyone else, could not be any more different except for the fact that they have received the call that they were going to die today. Both of them download Last Friend, which is an app that connects people who are going to die that day. The two connect, meet, and a romance blossoms. Tears are definitely expected with this one.

A Court of Thorns of Roses by Sarah J. Maas: I’ve blogged about this series a lot, so I’ll spare you my thoughts on it. Basically, the series follows Feyre Archeron, who goes to the woods and kills a beast to feed her poor and starving family. A terrifying creature approaches her door, and demands her life as retribution. Feyre then realizes who her captor really was, and the series follows her journey.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover: Lilly’s family life has never been the easiest, however, it still doesn’t stop her from following her dreams to Boston. She meets Ryle, a hot neurosurgeon who is handsome and charming. Lilly becomes the exception of his “no-dating” rule, and quickly learns of Ryle’s dark side. Lilly soon questions her relationship with Ryle — just when Atlas, her first love, reenters the picture.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Evelyn Hugo is a 1950’s film legend. Monique, an unknown magazine reporter, was asked to do an article on her, but when she arrives, Monique learns that Evelyn would like Monique to write her autobiography. Evelyn tells her story to Monique — the complete version.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout: Poppy is the maiden, which means that she must remain pure at all times, despite the fact that she wishes to fight back the evil that cost her her family. Her life has never been her own, and she shoulders the weight of the rebirth of an entire kingdom on her shoulders. She waits for the day of her Acension, which is why Hawke, a handsome guard is brought in. This and the sequel are amazing.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Emira Tucker is confronted at a grocery store while working late as a nanny by a security guard who accuses her of kidnapping, since she is a young black woman with a white child. The incident was videotaped and then goes viral. Alix Chamberlain, her boss, uses her blogging platform to bring awareness for the issue, and aspires to help Emira, who is 25 and broke. Emira is weary of Alix’s intentions. As the story goes on, readers learn more about each woman’s past.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Finch and Violet meet at the bridge at their town with one intention. Violet is grieving her sister’s death, while Finch has an obsession with death. The two become partners for a project, and the two begin to peel back the layers of the other. Violet soon begins to live life again, however, Finch soon drowns in the darkness of mental illness.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: Alex Clarmont-Diaz is practically American Royalty. After all, his mother is the President of the United States. However, he does have an issue with the English Prince Henry. A photo is leaked of the two arguing, and in the efforts to mend the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. the two form a fake friendship for the tabloids. However, things take an interesting turn when a romance blossoms between the two.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: Addie LaRue makes a deal with the devil — to live forever. However, there is a catch that whoever meets her once is quick to forget her. So, when Henry recognizes her after 300 years of isolation, Addie is floored. The two begin a relationship, and then fall in love.

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9 Things That I Have Been Doing to Spend Less Money

In the past year alone, I have been working to gradually improve my spending habits and finances for the better for many reasons. When I was younger, I did not make the best choices in terms of spending. As I got older and began to consume more content about the subject, it dawned on me that I needed to make better choices not only for the sake of the present day me, but for the future me as well.

Unlike many financial experts out there, I am not preaching that you can’t use money for fun or never buying things for the sake of not buying anything. I am saying that there are steps that you can take to be a better consumer and just better with your money in general.

These are the steps that I’ve been taking to help boost up my savings.

  1. Wait 24 Hours before making a purchase — at least. One of the biggest problems that I noticed with myself is the fact that I would “treat” myself impulsively. Sometimes, it would be because I had a stressful week. Other times, it would just be because I fell in love with an item and knew that I couldn’t live without it. Most of the time, my impulse purchases have worked out for me. I don’t ever want to discount that. However, by waiting 24 hours before purchasing an item has helped. 9 times out of 10, I often forget about the item, which means that I really didn’t want it that much anyways.
  2. Go shopping with a plan. This one is pretty simple. Whenever I go to the mall, Target, or even TJ Maxx, the one thing I do is create a list in my head of things that I want to buy before I go. For instance, if I need pants, I will go into a shopping trip with that in mind. Now, if I find something else, I will weigh the options and think about it, but my number one concern is to get the item that I was initially there to get.
  3. Gradually increase how much I save each paycheck. I save at least ten percent of my paycheck every week in my savings account, and then a small percentage in another savings account. Over the past few months, I’ve gradually increased how much I’ve been putting in. By making that small budget change, I have seen a huge increase with how much is in the bank.
  4. Sell everything that I no longer use/want. One of the ways that I’ve been increasing my savings and income is by selling clothes, jewelry and purses that I no longer use on Poshmark. This is a tricky thing to do, but I highly recommend it as a way to make a few extra dollars to put into your account either for savings or for pleasure.
  5. Have no spend days. This one is the hardest one yet it is the most effective. I try to have at least one no spend day per week. What this means is that I try to not spend any money on that day. Sometimes, I have one day per week. Others, I have more than one day. I think that this helps me try to save money, but also forces me to think about the things that I need or want in a more practical lens. Online shopping has become easier than ever before to shop whenever you want. By planning days where I don’t spend any money, it helps me put some thought before I click “add to cart.”
  6. Eating at home as much as possible. This goes for coffee too. One of the biggest sucks of my money in the past was takeout food. While this was something that I did because I am a cooking novice. To combat this, I’ve been learning to cook, my boyfriend does a lot more cooking, and I have frozen foods as well. The same thing goes for coffee. I purchased a Nespresso last year, and since then, my Starbucks trips were eliminated as well. Nespresso lattes are $1.10 versus the $5 ones from Starbucks. That is about $4 of savings a day.
  7. Budget.This is one thing that I am still learning to do, and am getting better at it with each passing day. I’ve been tracking my spending, and budgeting. For a while, I was scared of the word because I didn’t want to be limited and deprived. However, by having a budget helps me be in better control of my money.
  8. Get a change jar. This is something that I’ve been doing for many years, and something that has helped me so much in my savings goals. What I do is put my spare change is cash it in and use it for a big purchase. Sure, that may be tedious to save everything. But, for big purchases, any little bit helps.
  9. Listen to a bunch of different experts. I listen to Dave Ramsey and Gentler. I also watch the Financial Diet. I don’t think that it’s a good idea for someone to listen to just one source for these tips. That way, you can do things based on what is best for you, not for the person who is behind the microphone. Personally, I find Dave Ramsey a little too intense, but I do enjoy his tips.

What have you been doing to save money? Let me know in the comments below.

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Friday Faves: April 9, 2021

Trader Joe’s Powerberries: What are power berries, you may ask? It is dark chocolate covered fruit juice pieces wit açaí, pomegranate, cranberry, and blueberry juices. And it is so delicious. I tried them at my boyfriend’s parents’ house and it was so good. I bought my own, and have been snacking it on ever since.

Demi Lovato Dancing With the Devil: I love Demi’s new album. It has been on repeat for as long as it’s been out, and discusses her OD, sexuality and breakup. I currently don’t have a favorite song at the moment, but I highly recommend listening to it.

LC Lauren Conrad Jean Jacket: Did I need a jean jacket? No. Did I still purchase one? Yes. And, I am so happy that I did. The one that I have is a lighter wash, and this one is a darker, “vintage” blue. I wore this with a pair of leggings and a tunic top, and it was such a great outfit choice. I can see myself wearing this with my summer dresses, more leggings, and even pairs of jeans. It’s a great piece of clothing for spring and summer.

Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight Plus: I have been using my Kindle Oasis for the past six months nonstop. However, when I wanted to read a book that was on my Nook and I didn’t want to repurchase it, I decided to charge it up and use it. And, wow, I am glad that I did. I think I will still love my Kindle, but I do enjoy the experience on the Nook. I’ve noticed that the screen is quite larger, and it has a great display. You can check out my complete review on the product here.

Lokai Bracelets: I have had an on and off relationship with these bracelets, and I go through phases when I wear them all of the time. I have a few different ones, such as the regular one and the few different ones, and I have been obsessed with them. I like them because I like the meaning behind them, because they promote balance and many of the proceeds benefit charity.

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Made by Aniela Expands Her Brand With New Drops

Note: This was a sponsored post, where I received free items in exchange for this post.

Lydia, owner of the Etsy Shop, Made by Aniela has three major drops in the month of April in the efforts of expanding her brand. These new pieces do just that, as she’s growing into beaded necklaces and sun catchers — perfect for summer.

Photo Provided by Made by Aniela

The first one was released last Friday, April 2. That one was called the 4/20 drop and had three new items — an emoji gold plated necklace, a f*ck charm necklace, and a 4/20 beaded choker. All of these pieces are currently live on her shop today.

Photo Provided by Made by Aniela

The second one will be released tomorrow, April 9. This drop will have a focus on sun catchers. Lydia was so kind to send over a suncatcher for me, and I am in love with it. This is the second sun catcher that I have from the brand, and certainly not the last. The other one that I purchased is also a neutral, which I keep in my kitchen. I like the neutral ones because they go with any colors of decor, and still add sparkle to the room. Her other colors include jade green. The prices will range from $15-25.

Photo provided by Made by Aniela

The third and final one will be on April 16, 2020. This drop will be all about the beaded chokers, and the names of the necklaces are giving me all of the spring vibes.

I love this choker and this will becoming my go-to necklace for the spring and summer. It’s a great stand alone piece, as well as a layering piece. What is also unique about them is that you can wear it with a necklace of any metal. I also love it that they are so comfortable— they are still pretty short on the neck, but they fit comfortably! These pieces will be in the $30-$40 price range.

Not matching my outfit, but I still love this necklace!

I don’t know about you all, but I am definitely marking my calendars for these to stock up on some great pieces for summer, as well as gifts for the summer birthdays out there. If you’re interested, I have a discount code for you to use to save a little money, which is NATALIE15.

Be sure to check out Made by Aneila on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram for release updates and more.