Fashion Friday: Tote-tally Awesome Tote Bags To Add In Your Wardrobe

I don’t know about you all, but I love a good tote bag. I’ve used tote bags for years, whether I was carrying my school books, packing for a trip, or bringing my laptop to work. Needless to say, I’m an expert on the tote bag.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of tote bags. And, there are a lot of great options out there. However, I’ve narrowed it down to four tote bags that I have had on constant rotation and highly reccomend to anyone. Now, some of these are a bit pricy. However, I think that if you are looking for a ride or die tote that is something that will last you for years.

Longchamp Le Pliage: I love this tote bag. I actually have about ten of them in different colors and sizes. I love this bag, because it’s lightweight, and it can fit everything that you need and so much more. This purse is a great one to take to travel. It folds up, so you can fit in your suitcase, so it makes taking it on flights (whenever that’s a thing again) so much easier.

My personal favorite is the classic black one with a brown leather strap, because it goes with everything. You can find these purses on their website, but also at your local Bloomingdales and Nordstrom as well. Some great places to check out if you’re looking for a great deal, try Nordstrom Rack. That said, I personally can not recommend this purse any more, so if you’re looking for a purse that is durable and still fits everything, this is your purse.

Madewell Transport Tote: Not everyone will love having a nylon purse. And, that’s okay. This tote bag is new to my collection, but I’ve honestly been obsessed with it since I got it. I used it for a week to go to work, and it fits everything that I could need for a work day so all I need is that one bag. And, for a leather purse, it is an extremely good price point. I’ve heard that these purses get better with age, so I’m sure this will be in my closet for years to come.

Dooney and Bourke Nylon Shopper: Yes, another nylon bag. This purse was my ride or die purse for over five years. The only reason why I stopped using it was because I got the Longchamp one. Five years later, this purse looks pretty good. And, I’m going to be honest here — I was not gentle on this whatsoever. This is what I took with me to my first job. I took it to college, and even loaded it with my college books. What is also so special about this purse is that this is something that my mom gave me. Dooney and Bourke was her go-to for handbags, so she gave me one for Christmas in 2014. That is why this bag also has some special memories for me as well.

Louis Vuitton Neverfull: I wanted to end off the list with one luxury bag. This purse happens to be one of my only luxury purses and I’m honestly okay with that. I love this purse because it is classic and one that doesn’t go out of style. The quality of this bag is also really great, which is something that I look for when I get a tote, because let’s be honest, I am running that purse through the ringer. It also fits everything, which makes it great for anything you would need.

Now, I wanted to advise anyone who is looking for this bag to seriously consider getting this bag preloved. Louis Vuitton is crazy expensive. However, you can still get the luxury fashion at a much more discounted rate. And, the purse looks practically brand new, which is awesome. And of course, there are sites like eBay, Poshmark and Fashionphile. But, the real gems are the local consignment stores. I love them because you can get them the cheapest. I found mine on Closet Connection Resale. Definitely worth checking out because it can save you hundreds of dollars and can even stretch your money further. I recommend it if you’re looking for any kind of luxury, not just Neverfulls.

Shopping My Way Around CT: Downtown Milford Business Association Hosts Sidewalk Sale

Some of the shops in the downtown Milford area. Photo Credit: Eric Urbanowicz

The Milford Oyster Festival is cancelled this year thanks to COVID-19. However, this year the shops in the downtown Milford area will still be getting together for a sidewalk sale this upcoming weekend.

The sidewalk sale was announced on the Downtown Milford Business Association via Instagram a few weeks back. The event will last two days — on Friday, August 14th, and Saturday, August 15th from 11 a.m – 4 p.m Those dates were actually going to be when the traditional Oyster Festival would have taken place.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the event will have sales on boutique apparel, housewares, accessories, and beauty.

So who are some of the retailers that you can expect to see?

According to an Instagram Post from Milford Moms, the following shops will be participating: SV Decker Jewelry, The Lovet Shop, The Body Waxing Studio, Gilded Lily, Hawkwood Games, Sophie Claire Shop, Vincent Jewelers, Island Time, and Inside Living Style.

And, I am going to give you a little pro-tip here. This area has such a great selection of restaurants, so I highly recommend that you grab a bite. In the downtown area, there is Stonebridge, Colony Grill, Flipside Burger Bar, SBC, and Taste of Thai — just to name a few.

Scratch Bakery in downtown Milford. Photo Credit: Eric Urbanowicz

And for those who are craving their annual fix of Oysters, be sure to check out SBC, the Founder’s House and Stonebridge. According to the Milford Mom’s Instagram post, they will be serving the traditional cuisine.

That said, make sure you save room for dessert. The downtown area has Scratch Baking and Sweet Cupcasions, both of which are my favorites.

I am going to be honest — I think that this is a great event and I’m looking forward to it. I love that it supports small businesses, which many of them have been impacted significantly from the pandemic. During the pandemic, we learned the importance of supporting local businesses. This event is one of the many ways that you can do so.

That said, this event is a great way to spend a Friday afternoon or a Saturday. With the pandemic, many of us — myself included — have been spending more time at home. While this may not be the vacation I had envisioned, it’s still a good way to get out of the house and walk around. And, adding in the sales, you have an event that has a bit of everything.

Be sure to check out the Downtown Milford Business Association’s Instagram for further updates about this event.

What I Love Wednesday: August 12, 2020

Happy Hump Day everyone! This week is flying by, and I am looking forward to the weekend spent at the pool with my Kindle. That said, I still hope to finish this week on a high and productive note. So, as we head into the latter half of the week, here are some of this week’s favorites:

Nature’s Truth Good Nite Essential Oil:

I have had some trouble sleeping, and this has been the perfect solution to help get me to unwind. All I need is a few drops, and this helps relax me. Since using this, I’ve been able to fall asleep and stay asleep pretty easily. And best part? I found it at Target!

Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto Replenishing Hydrator:

I found a new skincare product that I am obsessed with. Yes, you heard me. Obsessed. I got this in a set, and I have been using it regularly. What I like about this is that it adds moisture without leaving your skin oily, which often happens to me. Once I run out, I am pretty sure I will be restocking this, especially since the winter can be brutal on my face.

Kathryn June Vlogs:

I found a new favorite vlogger, everyone. I’ve been obsessively watching Kathryn June’s vlogs for a few weeks now. I like her blogs because she focuses on mindfulness as well as is relatable. She also posts a lot of tech stuff as well, which is something that I enjoy. And, she also has an adorable dog named Bentley, and you all know that I live for doggie content.

Midnight Sun:

Twilight is back and I am living for it. Twilight was my favorite series all throughout middle school. I remember begging my mom for the series in eighth grade, and obsessively reading Breaking Dawn the summer before high school. And, of course my friends and I went to see the movies when they came out.

So, when Stephenie Meyer announced that she was finally finished with writing Midnight Sun, I knew I had to get it. Midnight Sun was started 12 years ago, but was leaked. However, she did eventually decide to go ahead and finish it. And, let me tell you, I am so glad that she did. The book is told through Edward’s point of view, and goes through the events of the first book. I’m only eighty pages in, but I am really enjoying it.

Book vs. Movie: The Kissing Booth 2

The Kissing Booth 2 premiered on Netflix a few weeks ago, and I decided that it was time for me to read the book and watch the movie. I read the book a few weeks ago and I loved it so I watched the movie last week so now it’s time to compare the two.

Summary:
The Kissing Booth 2 basically starts right where the first book/movie left off. It takes us through Lee and Elle’s senior year. Elle is struggling with her long distance relationship with Noah. Lee is struggling with balancing his relationship with Rachel with his friendship with Elle. And, there’s a new kid in school that Elle is getting close to. And as Elle is struggling with her long-distance relationship, she sees a picture of Noah getting cozy with another girl. Scandalous.

Comparisons:

Okay so there are so many differences between the book and the movie that it’s not even funny. First and foremost, the names of the new characters in this book were different. Chloe’s name in the novel was Amanda, and Marco’s name in the book was Levi.

Furthermore, in the movie, Noah was definitely more communicative with Elle than in the book. For example, he wanted Elle to visit him and they had a cute romantic weekend. That was totally different than the book. Adding onto that, one of the main differences in the book was that Elle and Noah broke up in the book versus the movie. Spoiler, they do get back together.

One other plot that didn’t exist in the book was the dance contest between Elle and Lee. This was important because it helped Elle pay for college as well.

Finally, one of the differences I’ve noticed was that Elle seemed to struggle more in the book than in the movie. In the book, she wasn’t able to get a job and struggled to complete her college essay. In the movie, it seemed like she had her life really together which was good, but didn’t coincide with the book.

Overall:

I loved both the book and the movie for different reasons. However, in both situations, there is one final bone to pick. We never got to find out where Elle was going to college. Sure, there are rumors that there will be a third one next year. But, I wish that the movie at least told us where she was going.

Did you watch the Kissing Booth 2? Did you read the book? Let me know in the comments below. Also, be sure to check out my original book vs. movie of the Kissing Booth here.

Eating My Way Around CT: 6 Places to Get Dessert in New Haven County

I don’t know about you, but I have a huge sweet tooth. Dessert is my favorite meal. Give me the cupcakes. Give me the cookies. I’m all there.

In the Nutmeg state, there are so many great places that you can satisfy your sweet tooth. Here are some of my favorite places to go — from dairy free ice cream to cookies.

Sugar Bakery: I have been a frequent customer of the cupcake truck, which has all of their cupcakes in stock for years. It was announced recently that the cupcake truck will no longer be driving around New Haven county. Despite that, their store in East Haven still remains open. And, they have a variety of cupcakes. My favorite ones are the Reese’s Riot, the Unicorn Poop, Simply Vanilla, and Confetti Dip.

Good Morning Cupcake: This is a new place on my list, but definitely one I’ll be going to time and time again. They are located in Milford, and their mini cupcakes definitely pack a punch. Now, their menu is really cool. Some of my favorites include: the salted caramel cupcake, and the all vanilla. In addition to cupcakes, they also have mini donuts and cookies.

Donut Crazy: There are several locations across the state. This is my favorite place to go to whenever I am in the mood to treat myself to a great donut. Now, their donuts are insane. They have Nutella flavors, they have cookie flavors, and they have the classic ones of course. Some of my favorites include: the s’mores, the cereal and the cookie dough.

Neil’s Donuts: Located in Wallingford, these donuts are amazing. I’ve never visited their shop, but I’ve had their donuts through a few local retailers. And, you’ve never had a donut until you’ve had one of these. In addition to the a huge variety of donuts, you can get coffee, sandwiches, and so much more.

Lucibello’s Italian Pastry Shop: I’m Italian and I love some good old Italian pastry. Located in New Haven, this is the place to go to if you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned pastry. They have cannolis, pasiticiotti and so much more.

Sweet Claudes: I’m going to end off with my favorite place to get ice cream. Sweet Claude’s is located on Route Ten in Cheshire. What makes them my favorite place is their option of tofutti. Tofutti, if you don’t already know, is a dairy free dessert. This place has special meaning for me, as it’s a place that my mom and I used to go to together. While they have a great variety of dairy free options, they do have a huge selection of dairy flavors as well.

What’s In My Bag: Work Edition

Working full time means that I carry a lot of stuff to and from the office. My favorite bag to bring to the office is the Madewell Transport Tote in English Saddle. I love this bag, because it has everything that you think that you could need. I love this purse, because the color goes with everything that I wear, and it is really great value for the purse. I’ve had it for a few weeks, and I can tell that it’s going to become one of my go-to bags. (Also shoutout to birthday coupons)

This is just an everyday set, but I also can fit my iPad, a book, laptop, and Kindle Paperwhite if I want as well. Furthermore, I also have room to take my lunch and my water bottles, which are not pictured as well. Needless to say, I carry everything but the kitchen sink. Here is what I carry in my purse whenever I go to work:

  • Madewell Canvas Pouch: I use this to carry various items in my purse to keep them contained. It’s helpful to stay organized. This is a link to an item similar to the one in the picture.
  • Louis Vuitton Mini Pochette in Damier Azur: This is basically used as a tech pouch, but I’ve also used it as a mini pouch whenever I go out outside of work. I did get this one off of Poshmark, but here’s the link to the one on the website.
  • Sunglasses
  • Car Keys
  • Louis Vuitton Key Cles (Basically my little card holder that holds my license, cash, cards, etc.)
  • Micheal Kors Jet Set Wallet: Basically holds everything else wallet related, including loyalty cards, pictures, etc. Mine was purchased at the outlets, so this is a link to one similar.
  • Longchamp Makeup Bag: This holds everything in from sanitizers, lip stuff, and hand creams. I purchased a retired color off of Poshmark, so I linked something similar.
  • Vera Bradley Checkbook Cover (I have a retired pattern, so I linked something similar.

That’s what I carry in my purse. Now, these are the items that I carry daily, and it fits. However, as I mentioned earlier, I can fit so many other things, including a water bottle, laptop, iPad, Kindle/Nook, and my lunch. Now, I wouldn’t recommend carrying them all in the bag at once, but you can carry it a lot.

I like this over some of the other totes out there because it’s affordable leather and it holds everything I need. So, if you’re looking for a new ride or die work tote, this is the bag for you. And, if you do decided to get one, be sure to get a scarf. It definitely adds something extra to the store.

What I Love Wednesday: August 5, 2020

I can not believe that it is August already. 2020 is literally flying by. I actually found some pumpkin coffee during my weekly Target run, and needless to say I purchased it. However, I am planning to enjoy the last full month of summer.

I have a few new favorites this week that I am so excited to share. Here’s what I am loving this week:

  • Podcasts: I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. I’ve been listening to my go-to ones, including Rise, Gals on the Go, and Back to Basics. However, I’ve been listening to a lot of others, including: I Love You So Much with Kenzie Elizabeth, Mood, and Whitney Port’s podcast. I love listening to podcasts because they honestly are really motivating for me to listen to them, and they also serve as a reminder for self care. Definitely a win-win.
  • Madewell Transport Tote: I bought myself a new purse (thank you birthday coupons)! I love the Transport tote as a work bag, because it holds everything but the kitchen sink. I love that I don’t have to carry five different bags or an additional tote for work as well. Definitely recommend to anyone who has to carry a lot of stuff or even for travel.
  • Madewell Delicate Collection Skinny Rings Set: I love these rings. I purchased these when I got the bags, and I love that they go with my other Demi-fine jewelry as well. They are really comfortable, and they don’t turn your fingers green, which is something that I do experience. I also think that the quality of the rings are really great as well.
  • Storage Wars: I have been bingewatching Storage Wars, and it’s really addicting. I love it because it’s a show you can watch at anytime and still enjoy, and it’s interesting to me to learn about the value of various things.
  • Folklore by Taylor Swift: This album is gorgeous, plain and simple. It is now my favorite album of hers and has been on repeat since it came out a few weeks ago. And, yes. I did order the vinyl. It’s okay.
SV Decker’s gold band makes a perfect pairing with my Madewell delicate rings!
  • S.V. Decker Gold Band: I love S.V. Decker, and what better to end the list than a list than one of my favorite pieces. I’ve been into gold bands, and it pairs with my Madewell rings I mentioned earlier quite nicely. This ring is great for stacking as well, as just by itself. I definitely recommend this piece as well.
  • Happy Planner: I invested in a Happy Planner and I am so happy I did. I got the smaller one so it fits in my purses and is easy to carry. What I love about the one that I have is that it is meant for readers so it keeps track of what I read. I highly recommend it because it’s inexpensive and it helps me remember things that I would forget otherwise. Furthermore, I got the extra sheets to keep track of all I need to do — perfect for when I get overwhelmed.

August 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

I still can’t believe that it is already August. July was a great reading month with 12 books thanks to pool days and the Reading Rush. I also discovered a new favorite book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. That is something that was on my Mashed Potato Reading list, so I’m excited that I got to read it.

So, without further a due, here are the books that I read this month:

1. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover: 4 out of 5 stars

2. Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli: 5 out of 5 Stars

3. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover: 5 out of 5 stars

4. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: 5 out 5 stars

5. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 5 out of 5 stars

6. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo: 5 out of 5 Stars

7. What You Wish For by Katherine Center: 5 out of 5 stars

8. Roomies by Christina Lauren: 5 out of 5 stars

9. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella: 3 out of 5 stars

10. Before by Anna Todd: 5 out of 5 stars

11. The Great Gatsby — The Graphic Novel: 5 out of 5 stars

12. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: 5 out of five stars

7 Knitting Tips for Beginners

A little while ago, I wrote a post about how to get started into crocheting. However, I also am a knitter as well. I learned how to knit as a way to cope when my dog Maggie passed away in fall of 2018, but stopped knitting as often once I learned how to crochet last year. So, while I am not a complete expert, I do have some tips to get you started.

  • YouTube: I believe that YouTube is the best resource out there because it gives you a visual how-to on how to do anything. I guarantee that you will find what you’re looking for just by searching. Sometimes written instructions can be difficult to understand, it’s so much easier to watch someone to do it on your computer or tv.
  • Stockinette Stitch all the Way: The easiest stitch is honestly the stockinette. It’s the basic knit stitch and you can use it for so many projects and get acquainted and familiar with knitting.
  • Make a scarf: Scarves are a great first project because they are flat and they keep you warm. They also are pretty quick to make so it doesn’t feel as if you’re plugging away to something that takes forever to build.
  • Invest in Books: There are so many great books to get you started. My favorite is Learn to Knit, which you can find at Barnes and Noble. I like this book because it has everything you need to get you started: pictures, projects and a great pair of needles that can be used for many projects to come.
  • Practice before you do a project: Knitting has a lot of stitches and they are challenging. My recommendation is to do a mini practice swatch so that way you get the hang of it prior to the project.
  • Make sure you have a lot of needles (and the right ones): One of the big things that you need is a variety of needles. Sometimes you need a pair of circular needles for a hat. Other times you need thick chunky needles for a scarf. Different projects require different needles and it’s okay to have a variety of them in your stash. That said, make sure that you have the right needles for your project because in knitting you need the correct needles for the size and for the type of project you’re doing.
  • Get a lot of yarn: Depending on what you’re making, you need to have a lot of yarn. My tip? Get more than you need. It’s hard to gauge how much you do need and sometimes it’s better to have a lot of yarn and not need it versus needing it and not having it.

Why We Need Boundaries

There are so many different aspects in life that you need boundaries. You need to set boundaries with yourself – when it comes to budgeting, when it comes to the food you eat, and even self-care. You also need to set boundaries with others – with how they treat you, how much you do for them, and how much you even make time for them.

So, why do we need boundaries?

I think we need boundaries just so we can do what is best for us. For example, let’s use friends as an example. At this point in my life, I’ve accumulated a lot of friends in different walks of life. After a long week at work, I often decline social events. It’s not because I don’t want to be with that group of friends or hang out. It is simply because I am setting a boundary due to the fact that I need to self-care. And, that’s okay.

While that is one example of setting boundaries, the most crucial is the internal ones. For instance, we need to set boundaries with food, because let’s just be honest we can’t eat ice cream and French fries all day. So, we need to set a boundary that you can’t have Chic-Fil-A daily. This also applies to budgeting – meaning that you need to set boundaries with yourself in what areas you’re spending your money in. These boundaries are really important, because it helps you create a healthy balance in your life, where you’re just honest with yourself.

And, I’m going to be honest here. One of the biggest areas that I continue to struggle with is setting boundaries on what I need. I’m going to be honest. It’s not easy. I am a people-pleaser and am not a huge fan of conflict, so I don’t like to say no. So, I am quick to say yes to something, even though I may ignore my needs for whatever it may be. Or, it could be something that I just genuinely do not want to do or something that I can’t afford. More times than not, it’s self-care. And, that is not okay. Therefore, it’s something that I am trying to work on.

Furthermore, another example of my need to set boundaries comes from my journey with grief. Last year, my mother passed away and I went through a series of firsts. Those firsts were super hard. That Christmas morning when I woke up realizing that Christmas was different was really hard. That said, I neglected my own grief during that time to try to make Christmas more bearable for those around me. By doing that, I often forgot that I was allowed to be sad, because my mother was gone and I will never eat one of her Christmas cookies. When I realized this, I felt less ashamed by the fact that I was sad, and more open to the pain of feeling whatever I am going to feel.

Now, how do I set that boundary? Simply by being honest with myself and others all around me. That may mean simply by saying no to a holiday dinner so I can have time to myself to journal. And, of course, by realizing that I am not being selfish by doing that.

That being said, I am learning to set the boundaries that I need to be able to live a more balanced life and the boundaries that I need to be true to my own feelings. Now, this isn’t because I don’t want to hang out with my friends or family. It is because I need to take time out for myself.

Which is perfectly okay.

So, how do I create boundaries?

Simply be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with those who are in your circle. For example, if a friend asks you to hang out, but if you’re not up to it because you had a long week at work and need to self-care doing whatever it is you do, it is okay. Just tell them and be honest. It’s perfectly fine to say no.

Sometimes, people are not going to like that, and that is perfectly okay. Not everyone is going to like what you want to do or even agree with something that you need to do for yourself. And, that’s fine. Everyone has a different opinion on what’s essential to them or what they need to do to care for themselves. And, I don’t know about you, but sometimes when you share that reasoning, they contradict it or say “hey but you can’t afford to do this, but you can afford that.”

That is because that is not up to them. It is entirely up to you.

Let me conclude by saying this: boundaries are important. They are important for you to set to live a life that is right for yourself. And, just like it is important to set boundaries, I also think it’s important for others to respect them. Plain and simple.