Weekend Reading – February 18, 2018

This has been a great long weekend and it’s not even over yet. We flew out to San Fran on Wednesday night and have been staying with our friends who live north of the city. It’s been the perfect mix of exploring and relaxing with friends we don’t get to see very often, which included a 1st birthday party for their little one. On Thursday, we took the ferry into the city, grabbed lunch and checked out a few spots we hadn’t been to on past trips, such as the Painted Ladies. Another day was spent in Sonoma at a few vineyards and lunch.

I’m definitely not looking forward to trekking back home tomorrow – but hope you were all able to relax and enjoy the long weekend. On the positive side, it looks like it’s going to be 60 degrees back home for a couple days this week. Before we close out the weekend, here’s some weekend reading with some of my favorite links, shopping picks and sale finds.

Weekend Reading

Links I Love:

  • I’ve been considering trying acupuncture because I have carpal tunnel in my wrist and have heard it can be good for lots of other things too. This post breaks it all down and made me even more into it. We’ll see if I can get over my fear of needles and actually try it out.
  • How cool is Chloe Kim?! I have a slight obsession with the Olympics and have been loving the snowboarders. This article made me even more excited for her big win.
  • This post about how to re-energize yourself at work talks about everything from organization to finding your community at work. The suggestions are all simple, but also important.
  • I started my blog about a month after our wedding and really didn’t put much thought into the layout. This post about how to choose the right template for your website or blog is helpful and made me start thinking about changing mine up in the future.

Shopping Finds:

  • I love a good thermal shirt (two of my favorites here & here). This one is next on my list – it comes in lots of colors and looks super cozy and like it will be great for layering or wearing on its own, dressed up or down.
  • These fun tassel earrings also come in a bunch of colors and look like they are also pretty lightweight. I love big earrings but not when they feel heavy. I might need to grab these in white for spring.
  • I’m into a good leopard print as a neutral and have my eye on these slide sneakers. I think they’d be so cute with jeans for work with a cute top, or with yoga pants for running errands. I also like these, which are on super sale in some colors/sizes.
  • Cozy sweatshirts that don’t look one bit like my old college hoodie that I wear around the house have been on repeat for me lately. This one has a twist hem in front that gives it the look of being perfectly tucked in. I’m into the pink but it also comes in a nice gray – and it’s only $45.

Sale Picks:

  • Last week I posted about this straw bag that would be perfect for summer. I just found a similar black crossbody bag that’s on sale for $24! This one is even more similar – not on sale, but under $100.
  • This leather backpack is on super sale for $115, down from almost $400! I have another bag from this brand and it’s great quality. Their bags are good staple items that will last.
  • Two of my go-to lightweight jackets (that I also wear over t-shirts) are on sale right now. Here is the faux leather jacket and here is another that’s a very soft faux suede.
  • I got these Loeffler Randall heels last year that are perfect for wedding season, but I just spotted very similar sandals that are on sale for just $48. I love that they’re cognac and will go with lots of dresses and other outfits.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide… for You!

I made it through my 31st birthday this weekend and now its onto Valentine’s Day. We’ll be heading out to San Fran to visit friends after work for the holiday – we typically prefer travel over gifts. But I do think Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to treat yourself to something fun you’ve had your eye on.

So today I’m sharing my Valentine’s Day gift guide… for you, all of which you can shop using the links below! You can’t go wrong with a nice pair of PJs, fun earrings or a good candle. I went ahead and grabbed the faux suede jacket below when I spotted it 40% off, so stay tuned for that! How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Shop the Post:

 PJ Set / Earrings / iPhone Case 

Jacket (also in black, both 40% off!)

Underwear Set / Candy Set

Heart Sweater / Lip Set / Robe

Sneakers / Candle

Bag / Earrings 1 / Earrings 2

Healthy Bagel Recipe

Bagels definitely top my favorite foods list – if only they were better for you, I’d eat one every day… maybe two. When I started seeing a healthy bagel recipe popping up all over Facebook from one of my favorite blogs for recipes, Skinnytaste, I was skeptical. But I also knew that I’m very rarely disappointed with Skinnytaste recipes, so I went for it. Verdict: A+.

Healthy Bagel Recipe via Skinnytaste

The best thing about this recipe is that there are just 5 ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, Greek yogurt and egg white – and I usually have all of them in my fridge, so I can whip these up anytime. I’m not kidding when I say that this recipe is a matter of mixing up these ingredients, kneading the dough, rolling them out and sprinkling with your favorite topping. For me, that means Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning, but you can use anything like sesame seeds, dried onion flakes or poppy seeds.

Healthy Bagel Recipe via Skinnytaste

This weekend was my second time making them and I am definitely getting the hang of the shape better than I did my first try. I will say that they have the best texture when they’re fresh out of the oven, but I still loved them as an easy at-my-desk breakfast topped with cream cheese throughout the week. Just throw them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. I haven’t tried this yet, but Gina from Skinnytaste also says you can slice then freeze them if you want to make them in bulk for later.

Head over to Skinnytaste for the recipe – let me know how it goes!

Healthy Bagel Recipe via Skinnytaste

Healthy Bagel Recipe via Skinnytaste

Weekend Reading – February 4, 2018

When I first started this blog, I had a Friday Faves series where I shared a quick four links of favorite things I saw over the week. For this year, I’m going with an updated version of that, complete with articles I loved, shopping picks and awesome sale finds. If you have any recommendations for links or items to include in my next Weekend Reading post, comment below or message me!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and are getting together with friends or family for the Super Bowl… go Pats! Hank is showing his team pride in today’s pic. :)

Weekend Reading - February 4, 2018

Links I Love:

Shopping Finds:

  • Loving this gold metal mirror (on sale!) with this table for our work-in-progress updated entryway. Made a huge difference already! Shop similar mirrors here, here & here (this one pretty similar to the one I bought but way less $!). If you like this style table, they also have it in a coffee table, night stand, dresser and even bed!
  • The coziest thermal that’s all over Instagram is a must-buy. I’ve been stalking trying to grab it in the lilac color – right now I have gray.
  • Having a serious debate with myself over whether or not this straw crossbody bag is worth the price tag (also comes in a smaller version here)… Remember that other bag that was all over Insta last summer? There’s now a near-perfect dupe for under $45 on Amazon.
  • I’ve been bringing back my high ponytail here and there and need to get these velvet bow hair ties. But I’m also thinking I could make them myself for way less money…

Sale Picks:

  • This flowy floral tank that I wore in Palm Springs. Perfect with jean shorts or regular jeans.
  • My go-to oversized sweater from last year, shown in the pic in this post.
  • The best faux leather jacket/sweatshirt combo. I wear it all the time and also have it in off-white.
  • A sherpa pullover that looks like the coziest thing ever. Can’t wait for this to arrive! I got it in light pink and it also comes in white.

2018 Goals

Like most people, I’m not into resolutions. But I do want to be better about setting goals, so I’m going to put them all out here in writing so I can hold myself accountable. I’d love to hear your goals for the year! Maybe next year I’ll get to these before we’re halfway through January… better late than never!

2018 Goals

1. Progress, not perfection. My favorite book of 2017 was the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (more on that here). This is one of her mottos and one that has stuck with me – so I’m making it my main 2018 goal. I tend to have lofty goals and then get overwhelmed and don’t follow through on things. With the blog, I have a great idea for a blog post but then I start and don’t finish it for some reason. Or at home, I’ll avoid doing a closet clean out because I know it will be an all-day project and I don’t want to make an even bigger mess if I don’t finish what I set out to do. So this year, I want to take baby steps and when I have an idea, do a little bit at a time until I get there. The end result might not be perfect, but I’ll be taking steps in the right direction.

2. Put more focus on the blog. I upped my Insta game this year but admittedly didn’t blog as much as I wanted to. With Instagram (& Facebook) constantly changing their algorithm – and the potential that social networks could disappear/change and be replaced with new ones any day – I’m realizing that my blog is the only thing I can truly control. I also noticed that it’s where I see the most success with readers clicking through to items I’m recommending. I’m setting a goal of 100 posts in 2018. And with that, I need to do more sale and product roundups next year! Another goal within this is to pay more attention to my blog and social stats to get a better understanding of what my readers and followers like best. I also plan to continue contributing to other outlets whenever I can.

3. Hit publish on travel content. This goes back to that progress, not perfection thing. I have SO many travel posts halfway completed. I keep wanting to edit photos, add more recommendations, etc. Travel guides take a while for me to get through, but once they’re done, they’re the posts I’m most excited about and proud of. It’s my passion area – I wish I could travel all the time and focus on this topic even more! The goal for 2018 is to dig through my photos and trip notes (yes, I actually take notes on my phone while traveling so I remember all of my favorite parts!) and pull together posts for Italy, Ireland, Hawaii, Portugal and a few stateside locations. I can always update a travel guide with even more recommendations down the road – that mentality may help me get these up on the site!

4. Learn a few new skills. I loved taking photography classes back in 2016 and while I continued practicing and learning on my own last year, I didn’t necessarily learn anything new. I’d love to learn more about indoor photography – it’s just too cold to get outside whenever I want to take pics in the winter! On a similar note, I know I have lots to learn when it comes to editing – I’ve taught myself enough to get by in Lightroom, but I know there are lots of tips and tricks that would make that process easier and more effective. Last year was really the year of me playing around with graphic design, which led to the relaunch of my Etsy shop, Katy Roll Designs! I have so much fun with this and want to continue learning so I can make lots of fun things for the shop. And lastly, I loved taking a calligraphy class recently and would love to take a few more classes (either in-person or online) on this and/or hand lettering. If that fails, maybe I’ll try watercolor…

5. Grow my Etsy shop. I’ve had so much fun starting my Etsy shop back up this year (several years ago I sold handmade necklaces). Graphic design is so fun to me and I love creating new prints or other things for friends and random strangers on Etsy. It’s so rewarding when I get an email saying someone has placed an order! And framed prints make for great gifts. One of my favorite creations this year was a custom design for my sister-in-law where I created a print with her wedding vows to hang on a wall next to a photo from her wedding. I have lots of creations done but not yet uploaded, so I need to follow through on that!

6. Read more. This is an easy one – or at least it should be. I’ve always been a magazine person (I blame working in PR, but it really goes way back to pre-working girl years), but with many of them shutting down print versions, I’ve gone back to reading. I’ve always been a reader, but it was more of something that I did on vacation rather than in my everyday life. I just got this new Kindle for Christmas (no more glare when I’m reading outside!), so I’m setting a goal of 12 books this year – about 1 a month. And with that will come quarterly book reviews!

7. Declutter. I already started tackling a few drawers and rooms and so far so good on the decluttering piece of this, but I have a long way to go. I need to chip away a little at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. I’ve been trying to list a few things each week on a consignment app, tossing anything that looks worn in a big giant Goodwill bag and throwing away anything that’s just plain old and unnecessary.

8. Make small updates around the house. We’ve been in our condo for almost 6 years and while I still love it, I think we’re due for a refresh. I’m not talking anything major – just maybe some new throw pillows, artwork on the walls, new coffee table, that sort of a thing. This isn’t our forever home due to space, but we also don’t plan to move anytime soon. We’re in the process of revamping the entryway and it will be nice to come home to when it’s done.

9. Be present & mindful. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to completely disconnect from my phone, but I want to try to cut back on the constant mindless scrolling. I bought this 5-year daily journal and have kept on track with it so far – all you have to do is write one line a day. You write on the same page on the same date each year so you can reflect back on where you were previously. I also started a gratitude journal where I’ve been taking a similar approach and just writing one quick thought a day. We’ll see if I keep up with either or both! I’ve also heard great things about the app Headspace for meditation. I’ll try that out at some point.

10. Tackle the little things. After reading the Happiness Project and starting a bit of my own daily checklist for January (and I tested it out last year), I quickly realized that not letting little things linger is hugely helpful for me. A few examples: making a to do list for the next day before the day ends while it’s fresh in my mind, picking out an outfit to wear the day before, or putting things away right away instead of doing lots of cleanup at once. This also applies to work, especially emails. I can’t figure out why, but sometimes it’s the emails that are so quick to respond to that I take the longest to get back to.

Ornament Gifts for the Last-Minute Shopper

How crazy is it that Christmas is less than a week away! I was so organized and had most of my gifts purchased before December event started… and then I had a big lull and need to finish up this week. Ornaments are such a good last-minute gift idea – and this year you can take that idea up a notch with all of the beauty, skincare and even home-themed ornaments that come with presents in them! The packaging is so fun and you can either gift them as-is by hanging them on the tree or give them as stocking stuffers.

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts - Ornament Gifts

I’m sharing details on some of my favorites below – and you can shop even more at the bottom of this post by scrolling and clicking on the ornaments in the widget. Grab an ornament gift online or at stores like Sephora, Ulta or Target. What are your favorite stocking stuffers or low-cost gift ideas that come in cute packaging?

 

Ornament Gifts

 

1. Nest Candle: You can’t go wrong with a candle from this brand. They’ll make your house smell like a luxurious spa. The ornaments come in the best holiday scents that will make you want to go back for a bigger version.

2. IT Cosmetics CC Cream: I tried this out for the first time last week and have been loving it! It’s lightweight yet still gives you nice coverage that actually stays put. Extra bonus is the SPF 50.

3. amika Dry Shampoo: I’ve always heard great things about this but have yet to try it out. Might have to grab this ornament to try it out as a travel size and take it on my next trip!

4. Too Faced Mascara: This has been one of my go-to mascaras for years (I tend to switch them up and layer depending on where I’m heading). It gives you lots of volume and people are obsessed with it.

5. BeautyBlender: Almost New Year, so probably time to either replace yours or grab one for the first time – it’s a game changer when it comes to applying things like CC cream or foundation. I just learned the best way to use it is by running under water first so it doesn’t absorb all of your makeup!

6. Clinique Merry Moisture Set: This comes with their popular moisturizing lip balm crayon and face lotion. These products are a pretty safe bet for anyone who likes to at least wear a little lip color.

7. thisworks sleep tight: This is perfect for a new mom or someone who needs a good night’s sleep. It comes with 3 essential oil products – 2 pillow sprays (one to help you fall asleep, another to keep you asleep) and a de-stressing aromatherapeutic rollerball that will relax you for bedtime.

8. Philosophy Bubble Bath, Shower Gel & Face Washes: You can’t go wrong with any of these – they smell so good. They also have some of their popular face lotions in ornament packaging.

9. Buxom Full-On Lip Polish: I always come back to this brand for lip gloss – and this one will give you a nice gloss that also works over your favorite lip color.

Shop more options below:

Thanks to Nest, IT Cosmetics, Buxom and thisworks for sending samples to try out! This post contains affiliate links.

2017 Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales

Happy Black Friday! It’s time to recover from Thanksgiving and kick off Black Friday shopping, whether you plan to do so in-store or from the comfort of your couch. It’s crazy how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have now morphed into a week-long shopping occasion that starts even before Thanksgiving! My cousin and I made a tradition out of outlet shopping on Black Friday several years ago (we go later in the day once the crowds die down!) so that’s where I’ll be headed in a bit, but in the meantime there are so many online sales to shop!

I’m rounding up the best sales below, along with my favorite picks for both gifts for others (or yourself) and everyday style finds to add to your wardrobe while prices are low. All you have to do is scroll through the widgets below and click through to buy. Happy shopping – and hope you’re all enjoying the long weekend with your loved ones.

xo,

Katy

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Gift & Style Finds

Abercrombie — 50% off everything

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

American Eagle/Aerie — 40% off everything

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

ASOS — 30% off with EPIC30 (thru 11/28)

Style Finds:

Gap — 50% off with BLKFRIDAY (thru 11/25)

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

J.Crew — 40% off with THANKU (thru 11/26)

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

J.Crew Factory — 50% off, no code needed

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

LC Lauren Conrad — everything already on sale, plus 15% off with SAVEBIG15 (thru 11/24)

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

LL Bean — 25% off Bean Boots with FRIDAY25 (thru 11/24); 20% off with THANKS20 (thru 11/28)

Gift Ideas & Style Picks:

LOFT — 50% off with THANKS

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

Lord & Taylor — 20% off with FRIDAY; $20 off $175+ with PURCHASE; extra 50% off newly-reduced women’s apparel

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

Madewell — 25% off with DONTSTRESS (thru 11/26)

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Style Finds:

Old Navy — 50% off everything

Gift Ideas:

Style Finds:

Holiday Countdown with Beauty Advent Calendars

This past weekend was the first weekend that I really felt like the holiday season was coming. After just getting back from two weeks in Hawaii a couple weeks ago, I was not happy about the cold temps – but the silver lining is that I realized the holiday season is just around the corner.

So with that, I’m kicking off holiday content on the blog with a post that’s really for you rather than gifts for others. Last year, I saw a few of my favorite brands put out advent calendars that allowed you to countdown to Christmas by opening up a surprise each night. This year, I found a bunch of beauty brands with advent calendars that range from Target’s $15 option to Charlotte Tillbury’s “naughty and nice” set that’s filled with full-size products.

No matter what holidays you celebrate, grab one of these and use it to surprise yourself with daily goodies as you countdown to the festivities – or just open them all at once for a bigger treat! Shop these advent calendars and more via the links and pics below.

xo,

Katy

2017 Advent Calendars

Shop the Post:

NYX Lippie Countdown / QVC Beauty Advent Calendar / The Body Shop 24 Days of Beauty

AMOREPACIFIC 12 Days of Botanical Beauty / Target 12 Days of Beauty / Charlotte Tillbury Naughty & Nice Magic Box

bareMinerals Box of Wonders / OLEHENRIKSEN 12 Days of OLE GlowL’Occitane Advent Calendar

Book Reviews – Volume 1

I’ve always loved reading, but for some reason since graduating college I became a magazine girl. I subscribe to basically every magazine on the planet and read them front-to-back, tearing out or bookmarking pages I want to save for later, like recipes or good shopping finds. With print magazines closing down more and more, my mag supply has dwindled, and earlier this year I let a few of my remaining subscriptions expire (aside from Us Weekly and People StyleWatch – need my celeb gossip and style finds!).

And that brings me to my new book review series. I read a couple books on a vacation back in April and remembered my love for reading. So from there, I’ve been mainly reading books, with magazines scattered here and there on my commutes or on vacation. In addition to my work book club and friends, I’ve been getting great recommendations from reading other bloggers’ book reviews, so I decided to start doing my own to help other people find suggestions.

Book Reviews Volume 1

While I’d love to make this a monthly thing, I know my schedule and it’s not always easy for me to find time to get into a good book. So I’ve added a section of the blog HERE and I’ll be adding posts there whenever I get through a good chunk of books like I did here.

Volume 1 includes six books that I loved – most of which are pretty different from one another. Read on for my thoughts on each and click through the links to view them on Amazon so you can read more and download/purchase as you wish! With the help of Amazon Prime, books arrive on my doorstep within a couple of days (yes, I prefer paperback – at least right now because my Nook is old!).

I’d love to hear which books you recommend – please leave comments with books you loved below and I’ll add them to my list!

xo,

Katy

 

Before the Fall: Before the Fall takes place off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard (not sure if it’s because I’m from New England, but I’m always drawn to books that take place here or on Nantucket).. Eleven people, all but one of which are quite wealthy, and their private jet crash just minutes into a flight taking off from the island. Sadly, there are only two survivors: a painter, who was a last-minute oddball addition to the flight, and a four-year-old child who is the son of a powerful man that died on the flight. This is a page-turning thriller – you won’t see any signs of what caused the crash until it was revealed toward the end of the book. Aside from looking for answers on what caused the crash, the book takes you through the lives of each of the people on that flight and how they were ultimately bound together. My only critique was that I didn’t love the ending, but I also can’t think of any better way to end it and think the author, Noah Hawley, ended it the way he did for a reason. One last note: the author of this book also wrote Fargo, which the TV show is based off of. I’ve never seen it before but it’s supposed to be good!

The Happiness Project: 2017 isn’t quite over, but I’ll go ahead and say that this is my favorite book of the year. I don’t normally read books that technically fall within the “self help” category, but this is a must-read that I recommend to everyone. Gretchen Rubin takes you step-by-step through her year of “trying to sing in the morning, clean [her] closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun.” Rubin is honest, refreshing and real – and the book is all backed in tons of research that she did on the topic of happiness, which is applied to her own life. The best part is that while everyone’s happiness journey is (and should be) different, you’ll close the book with actionable steps to apply to your own life, whether you start your own Happiness Project or analyze yourself in a new way. I did try to do my own Happiness Project and while I didn’t make it very far, I took tons of her tips and started implementing them in my everyday life. I would love to pick up my Happiness Project next year… we shall see! Thinking about getting her Happiness Project daily calendar for 2018…

The Husband’s Secret: Liane Moriarty, who also wrote the popular book-turned-TV-series Big Little Lies, does it again with this book. Much like Big Little Lies, this story is told from the perspective of several different characters, all of which are intertwined in one way or another. The thread that weaves each of their lives together is that one of the women, Cecilia Fitzpatrick, discovers her husband has a secret that will ultimately weigh over all of them. She finds a letter addressed to her, which has instructions to open after her husband’s death… but he’s still very much alive. Once that letter is opened, there’s no going back – and the plot takes you through how this secret impacts so many lives of people who barely knew each other before. I actually didn’t read Big Little Lies but binge watched the entire season of the show, and after that I was excited to read this book. It’s an incredibly well-written mystery that I breezed through despite it being almost 500 pages. Highly recommended!

It Ends With Us: I borrowed this book from a friend and didn’t even know what it was about when I began reading. I was immediately drawn in – the only way I can explain it is that it’s a powerful love story that dives into a sensitive subject matter. This quote from Kirkus from STARRED REVIEW says it well: It Ends with Us tackles [a] difficult subject…with romantic tenderness and emotional heft. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.” I can’t go into any more detail than that without ruining it, but just read this book!

The Couple Next Door: I was really into all of these books, but I would say this was the one that I read the fastest. The suspense was killing me and I just had to get to the whodunit part! As the title implies, this is a story about a couple – Anne and Marco Conti – who seem picture perfect on the outside. Then while they are next door at a dinner party, a crime takes place and that starts the complicated storyline of figuring out exactly what happened and who is to blame. Both Anne and Marco have secrets – as do each of the other characters – and this all unfolds leading up to the last twist where the truth comes out.

Luckiest Girl Alive: This one is recommended for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train and while I haven’t yet read the second, I was sold after loving Gone Girl. This is another one where I can’t say too much without giving it all away. Ani FaNelli is a high schooler who seems to have a perfect life – but she’s really hiding something from her past that has significantly impacted her life since then. You won’t see what’s coming as the plot twists in different directions. I couldn’t put this one down!

Shop all of these books here:

Memorial Day Weekend Nordstrom Sale! #Nsale

The official kick-off to summer – aka Memorial Day Weekend – is SO close… I’m counting down the hours til I can head down to the beach for a bachelorette weekend. It’s not exactly going to be beach weather, but it’s still good to get away – and it has me excited for summer weather whenever it decides to come back! Since I know people are getting ready to check out for the weekend, I’m keeping today’s post short and sweet… The Nordstrom Sale (#Nsale) is happening NOW and items are selling out fast. Below you can find my picks – shop them using the links below. They’re all 40% off!

Have a great long weekend!

xo,

Katy

 

Nsale

Shop the Post:

Blue Dress / Black Dress / Left Shorts / Right Shorts

Left Jeans / Right Jeans / Black Tank / Purple Tank

Top Booties (also in black!) / Bottom Booties (lots of colors!)