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Lifestyle Tips & Tricks

Free (Or REALLY Low Cost} Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Because there are plenty of Valentine’s Day Gift Guides out there designed to get you to part with your hard-earned cash, I decided to do something a bit different and offer your guys a list of free Valentine’s Day gift ideas. Each idea is based on one of the Five Love Languages, a book that my husband and I both read before we got married and one that I highly recommend to other couples.


THE LANGUAGE: Words of Affirmation
THE TRANSLATION: A Homemade Valentine’s Day Card

For some folks, receiving compliments and praise are what they value most. So forget Hallmark, and break out the construction paper and lace doilies to write down those sweet little nothings and profess your love! My husband and I started dating when we were a pair of broke college students. We’ve come a long way since then, but some of my most treasured possessions are a box of handmade notes and cards that he gave to me in the early days of our courtship. The one I’m holding above is probably circa 2001’ish, and it still melts my heart to this day!


THE LANGUAGE: Receiving Gifts
THE TRANSLATION: Make a Personalized Scrapbook

Now most of us love gifts – but for some folks, gifts can carry a LOT of weight.  Just remember that gifts don’t have to be expensive or over-the-top, so long as they’re meaningful. And what could be more meaningful than a personalized scrapbook filled with your favorite photographs and memories?! And if you want to start planning for next year’s V-Day, how about journaling just one thought each day for an entire year about why you love the other person? It’ll be a guaranteed page-turner – not to mention a potential tear-jerker.


THE LANGUAGE: Physical Touch
THE TRANSLATION: Give a Candlelit Massage

The physical touch language doesn’t have to be exclusive to the bedroom. As a precursor to other, ahem, extra-curricular activities, spend an extra 30-minutes or so giving an amazing candlelit massage. Better yet, brush up on your technique beforehand by perusing a massage therapy handbook to make sure you’ve got your moves down pat.


THE LANGUAGE: Acts of Service
THE TRANSLATION: Get Out of Chores Free Card

Sometimes the best way to show how much you care is to lend a helping hand. Since offering to take out the trash or sweep the garage doesn’t really scream romantic, a more pleasant way to extend the offer would be to print up a DIY coupon book custom-tailored with your special one’s least favorite chores.


THE LANGUAGE: Quality Time
THE TRANSLATION: Do I really have to explain?!

Ok, this one’s a little toungue-in-cheek, but hear me out. Block out an entire evening with NO distractions… yes, that includes cell phones and computers! Dim the lights, pour some wine, lay out your significant other’s favorite snacks, and fire up an old, romantic movie. What happens next is up to you…

And there you have it folks! Five free or low-cost ways to express how much you care this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

Lifestyle Tips & Tricks

Are You Bored Yet? Here’s 75 Things To Do When You’re Stuck At Home…

things-to-do-at-home-stuck-inside-quarantineWith the COVID-19 sweeping the globe, many cities and countries have adopted strict quarantine and shelter-in-place measures that will leave millions of us stuck inside our homes for weeks (or perhaps even months at a time). If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I love to be out and about every chance I get. Since I’m forced to now become a homebody, I figured I might as well make it interesting. So I challenged myself to come up with a list of 50 things to do from home while stuck under quarantine. And because I’m an over-achiever, that list quickly grew to 75. I stopped short of 100 because no one likes a showoff. 😉

  1. Join or start a bookclub
  2. Host a Netflix Watch Party
  3. Call or Video Chat w/ at least one friend or family member daily
  4. Write a letter to someone you care about
  5. Bake something from scratch
  6. Pick up sewing, knitting or crocheting
  7. Take a long, hot bubble bath
  8. Give yourself an at-home mani/pedi
  9. Take a virtual tour of a National Park
  10. Try out a new hairstyle and/or makeup look
  11. Learn a viral dance on Tik Tok
  12. Donate food and supplies to a family in need
  13. Sew masks for healthcare workers
  14. Learn 100 digits of Pi
  15. Solve a Rubik’s Cube
  16. Start a podcast series with a friend
  17. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog or YouTube channel, DO IT!
  18. Memorize all the lyrics to a song in a foreign language
  19. Do a closet purge
  20. Create a written pantry inventory
  21. Make a meal plan for the week
  22. Write down a list of 100 things you’re grateful for
  23. Binge watch a favorite childhood tv show
  24. Listen to a guided meditation on Spotify
  25. Learn calligraphy
  26. Practice still life photography
  27. Color, paint or draw
  28. Rearrange your furniture
  29. Deep clean your refrigerator
  30. Do a puzzle
  31. Start an indoor herb garden
  32. Make a playlist of your favorite songs from high school
  33. Take an online course
  34. Plan your dream vacation
  35. Imagine what you would do with your life if you were guaranteed not to fail, and write it down
  36. Listen to an entire album of your favorite artist
  37. Look through old photo albums
  38. Back up all of your digital devices (laptop, smartphone, etc.)
  39. Tour the Guggenheim Museum
  40. Play a card or board game
  41. Go through all the pics on your phone and order prints or a photobook of your favorites online
  42. Look out of a window and daydream
  43. Turn off the lights, light a candle and watch it burn
  44. Write a poem
  45. Practice a foreign language
  46. Watch a movie with subtitles
  47. Clean and organize your junk drawer
  48. Try a new workout
  49. Have an indoor picnic
  50. Call that person you’ve been meaning to reach out to, but haven’t had the time
  51. Watch the Live Cams at the  San Diego Zoo or Monterey Bay Aquarium
  52. If you’re a lefty, try only using your right hand (or vice-versa)
  53. Sleep in an extra hour (or 2, or 3)
  54. Sit down, take a few deep breaths and be still
  55. Have breakfast for dinner
  56. Try to recreate your favorite restaurant dish
  57. Write a letter to yourself to read one year from now
  58. Pick a topic you’ve always wanted to learn more about and watch a few YouTube videos about it
  59. Practice the KonMari method
  60. Think about the last argument you had with someone you care about and try to see their side
  61. Try not to use your phone for 24 hours
  62. Go to Magic Kingdom
  63. Take an ice cold shower
  64. Trace your likeness on a mirror using a dry erase marker
  65. Make your own skincare products using all natural ingredients
  66. Hide a $10 bill and/or a note with a positive affirmation in an out-of-season jacket to surprise yourself with the next time you wear it
  67. Perform a random act of kindness for the next delivery person who brings something to your home
  68. Listen to a song or watch a movie that makes you cry
  69. Make a Vision Board
  70. Get the unread messages in your inbox down to 0
  71. Download a free eBook from the New York Public Library
  72. Give yourself a scalp massage
  73. Paint an accent wall or put up temporary wall paper
  74. Get dressed up for dinner at home in your fanciest outfit
  75. Sing at the top of your lungs

Got anything to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Picks Product Reviews Tips & Tricks

Closet Raid {Best Brands and Styles to Look for When Shopping for Winter Boots}

While I would love nothing more than to teeter around in sweet mary janes, killer stilettos and delicate sandals all-year-round, there’s this pesky thing called winter – often accompanied by an even peskier phenomena known as snow – that manages to throw a wrench in my plans every year like clockwork.

Rather than run the risk of catching frostbite (or perhaps even worse, ruining the suede finish on my beloved Manolos!) I turn my sartorial tastes to more practical shoe fare from roughly November through March. Growing up in Michigan and spending my entire adult life in New York State, I’ve grown to learn a thing or two about what makes a great winter boot collection. And below are my top selections that have stood the test of time in keeping my tootsies warm, toasty and dry through even the bleakest of seasons…


If you live someplace that ever gets more than an inch or two of snow at a time, then you’re gonna wanna go ahead and get some real deal, heavy-duty snow boots. Sorry to break it to you kids, but there’s just no way around it. Luckily, styles have come a long way since the dorky moon boots that were forced upon my feet as a child in the 80s.

I’ve had both these Timberland and Coach pairs for going on 8 years now (does that make them almost vintage?), and they still manage to keep my feet just as warm and dry as the day that I purchased them. I’ve worn them in -40 degree temps and ankle deep snow and lived to tell about it. What you want to look for here is something with a flawless traction (‘cuz you know… ice), a warm fleece-y lining, and a fully gusseted tongue that prevents water from seeping into your boots. Trust me on this – getting water or snow into your boots is NOT fun.

The pair on the right are a little chicer thanks to the glossy finish and fuzzy trim. But in serious weather conditions, I very much appreciate the taller shaft height of the pair on the left. In fact, these are my go-to apres-ski boots that I always take with me on our annual trip to Mount Snow in Vermont.


Next up is a good old-fashioned pair of rubber wellies. Now I know all of my peeps who live in true snow paradises like Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine and the like will probably scoff (if not sneer) at the idea of wearing rubber rain boots in the snow, but I still hold firm that boots like these serve a crucial function in your winter arsenal. As the temps warm, and the fluffy white stuff turns into a slushy grey mess, you’ll be glad you have shoes like these at the ready. I usually reserve my wellies for when the temps are above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But to be honest, I’ve gotten away with wearing them well below freezing with my secret weapon: FLEECE BOOT SOCKS! Seriously, these things are a game-changer. Getchu some!

Hunter is of course the gold-standard (at least in the fashion blogosphere) when it comes to rainboots, but rest-assured there are other viable options out there as well. Some folks even have a whole kaleidescope of colors to match their many outfits and moods. But this pair of trusty matte black Classic Tall boots have served me well since 2010, and I haven’t felt the need to branch out to other hues.

Now if you’re fancy like me (or like her), you may want to consider a pair of designer rain boots. If you’re initial reaction to that statement was something like: “Spend $200 on a pair of rubber boots..? Girl, you crazy!” – just hear me out for a second. Yes, I absolutely realize that this can be viewed as a frivolous purchase. But from a cost-per-wear standpoint, these Ferragamos are easily my most practical designer shoe purchase ever. I bought them on a whim in 2015 and still get compliments to this day every. single. time. I wear them. I’m not even exagerrating. In fact, a lot of people don’t even realize they’re rain boots at first. These are my go-to shoes whenever the weather is downright nasty, but I still have to look polished and put-together. Because let’s face it, there’s nothing more confidence-bursting than walking into a meeting with an important client looking like a schlub.  These pretty little things allow me to put my best foot forward (see what I did there?) while braving the elements.

{Left: L.L. BEAN; Right: J. CREW}

Next up, we half your ankle-high boots. Shorties are great for those casual days when the snow isn’t too deep, but it’s still nasty enough out where you don’t wanna take a chance in ruining your regular shoes. In fact, if you live in warmer climates or places that just tend to get much snow, you can probably get away with just a pair of these.

As far as classics go, you really can’t go wrong with good ol’ Bean Boots. They’re a surefire way to put a little prep in your step (if you’re into that sort of thing). My husband’s had his pair for close to eight years, and he finally convinced me to jump on the bandwagon in preparation for our trip to Alaska back in 2015. I personally don’t find them great for snow, because they don’t have much of a lining. But they do offer versions with shearling on the inside as well. Just beware – each pair is made by hand, and they tend to sell out quickly once the temperatures begin to drop. Luckily, I bought my pair over the summer and had no problems getting the exact style I wanted.

The pair of boots on the right are a more recent acquisition that I wish I would have embraced sooner. These rubber chelsea boots serve a similar purpose to my Ferragamo’s, but in a more casual style and much more wallet-friendly price point. I also love my little shorties for travel, because they fit into my luggage nicely without taking up too much room.

{Left: UGG; Right: WOOLRICH}

So the last two pairs are what I like to call my wildcards. I didn’t know I needed either one until they were placed upon my feet…

First off, we have your Classic Tall Uggs. While I’ve successfully managed to keep any visual evidence off of the interwebs until today, I’ve been quietly rocking my Uggs offline since 2004. This is only my second pair in that time span, and I can’t even remember how long ago I purchased them. While not exactly a fashion statement (while Cardi B. might have you believe differently), the fact of the matter is these bad boys are WARM. A suede brush and water-proofing spray is a must if you want your Uggs to have staying power. And if possible, never ever ever ever wear them in the rain or extremely slushy conditions… unless you don’t mind your boots permanently smelling like a wet dog from there on out.

And last, but not least, we have my beloved insulated hiking boots – purchased over the summer for my trip to Switzerland. I added the red laces to make them a bit more festive, and I gotta say – I’m in love! The great thing about these is that they’re multi-purpose. I’ll always be a city-slicker at heart, but I do like to venture out and explore nature from time to time, and these help keep me stylish while doing it.