Tis’ the season, to shop! Holiday time is my favorite time and with Black Friday being today, I decided to take it upon myself to shop the deals. There were a few items on the top of my list and I knew I couldn’t wait to score them. Black Friday is absolute madness, but there really isn’t a better time to save. Whether you’re buying a sterling bracelet, eyeshadow palette or even a cozy bomber jacket, there is a deal for everyone. Here’s a list of some of my favorite Black Friday deals including two discount codes with brands I’ve been working very close with! Read on and don’t forget to tell me what you purchase :)
CHANEL LES 4 OMBRES EXCLUSIVE EYESHADOW PALETTE
It’s now my third time working with @chanelbeauty and I can’t help but have this at the top of my list! The luxurious palette is the perfect holiday look; mixing deep reds and metallic shades to make a festive smokey eye. Using this link, you will get complimentary shipping and receive the limited edition with exclusive packaging! The perfect stocking stuffer if I do say so myself ;)
The classic cuff bracelet is the perfect gift for her. I am currently living in mine and wear it not only during special occasions, but a casual day too. If the bracelet isn’t your first choice, you can always go for their classic watch. The site currently has the best deals and is extending their offers until 11/26! With any watch purchase you can earn a FREE strap, 50% off select styles, and complimentary gift wrapping! I’ve partnered up with @DanielWellington this holiday season to bring you an additional 15% off your order using my code ALYSSABLOND.
Back again with another beauty recap and this time I’m working with a fan favorite, Chanel Beauty. This is my second time working with the brand and I’ve got to say, they can never disappoint. Some of my favorites include the hydra beauty line that you can read all about, here, the Le Volume De Chanel Black Noir mascara, and the Mordoré Nude lip liner. My mom exposed me to all these products and I have been using them ever since…I blame her for my luxury beauty junkie habits (sorry mom).
In recent years, my largest investment has been with some of the fragrances. I have been rotating between Chanel’s Chance Eau Tendre Fragrance and Chanel N 5. For the colder months, my go to is ‘N 5’ as it has more of a warmer scent. When purchasing a perfume, I look for long lasting floral scents with a warm/woody base.
With the holidays coming up, Chanel has brought beauty lovers like me and you a limited edition N 5 bottle. The bottle design is absolutely stunning; so luxurious in this deep shade of maroon. Not only is the design impeccable but the actual product does wonders. I spray in the morning right before my day gets started and I swear it lasts all day long. I’m trying so hard to vividly bring the scent to life for you guys- but it’s not the easiest... You’re just going to have to trust and go try it yourself. Use this link to get the limited edition bottle until 11/1.
Thanks Chanel, Christmas came early;) Happy shopping!
Just because my wedding is over, doesn’t mean my beauty/fitness routine are both over too! I think I have more motivation than ever to upkeep my pre-wedding habits ensuring I feel and look my best all year round! As women in New York City, it can get hard to juggle work, life and beauty regimens. However, I can’t help but preach enough that setting time for yourself and making yourself a priority during your hectic schedule is a must!
I’ve partnered with Chanel Beauty and decided to break down each of these products, giving you the full rundown. I know that many of us have different skin types and different desires when it comes to the beauty world...however, I was able to dabble in Chanel’s hydra line and I am telling you, it’s perfection! I am a big Chanel beauty fan as I have always worn the Le Volume De Chanel Waterproof Mascara and Chance Eau Tendre Fragrance (including on my wedding day!). I knew this partnership was a match made in heaven and something I genuinely cared about. Seriously, I am so excited to put this in the blogger universe that I can’t even believe this is real!
Before I dive in, I want to give all of you a background on my skin type. I have always dealt with breakouts and having dry skin. It wasn’t until I changed my diet that I noticed a significant difference. When I cut out dairy, I saw that most of my breakouts cleared up. It amazes me that for so long I tried product after product and nothing was 100% working. With that being said, I still have minor flare ups and notice when I eat certain foods (aka chocolate- even if it is vegan) it all still affects my skin. In recent years, I have been investing in some higher quality beauty products, including the Chanel line, as I am more conscious with what I am putting on my face.
Hydra Beauty Masque de Nuit au Camelia: an overnight mask with a cream texture that transforms into micro-droplets when massaged into skin. Hydrating, oxygenating, smoothing: a burst of energy for the complexion.
Okay, if you know me at all you know I am a mask junky. I am even guilty of keeping my mask on for too many hours that my family members, including my husband, become extremely disturbed… When I read that this particular mask is meant for “overnight” I knew it was right up my alley. Waking up the following morning and washing it off, my skin felt hydrated and so smooth! I try and do this mask at least once a week.
Hydra Beauty Micro Liquid Essence: the first liquid essence powered by Camellia micro-droplets. Energizing, refreshing, invigorating: a burst of hydration for the skin.
A new product for me that I’ve been using at night! I have been substituting my toner for this and apply once I am finished washing my face. Once the product is fully dried on my skin, I then apply the micro crème for more hydration.
Hydra Beauty Micro Crème: water-light moisturizer delivering 24-hour continuous hydration.
Goodbye dryness! Seriously, this is been my holy grail since coming back from my honeymoon as my skin has been so dry from the summer heat and sun. It is incredibly lightweight and doesn’t leave your face feeling sticky! It is perfect to put on your face about 20 minutes before applying makeup.
If you’re into hearing more beauty reviews, I’d be happy to share some more products I have tried out! Let me know.
Another Wedding Wednesday here (well Thursday, because life is life and things have gotten really busy lately!) featuring my bridal shower. Before we jump into this, let’s be real, it’s def been a minute since I last wrote on this platform and I think this is the perfect topic to get me back in the swing of things!
As I sit here reminiscing with all the photos, I can’t help but feel blessed. It was everything I dreamed of and more. I was surrounded by so many amazing people who each took pride in celebrating our love that day. The vibe of the day was super girly with hints of white, pink and gold. My mother, mother-in-law, future sisters and best friends did a KILLER job bringing my Pinterest board to life. They made the room look absolutely stunning and all I can say is that I am one lucky girl!
The place where my mother hosted the shower was in a small trattoria branched off from the famous café in Roslyn, Diane's. I grew up eating there with my mom so it just seemed appropriate. I knew I wanted to serve brunch food and an endless amount of Bellini’s (cut to the photo “Cheers with a Bellini to the future Mrs. Pini”). Diane’s is known for their amazing pastries so even though I couldn’t indulge in any of them (sadly) I made sure the guests could still enjoy!
There were a few aspects of the shower that I requested including the dessert table. I wanted to create this girly and luxurious spread that served mini donuts, customized cut out cookies, a gluten free/dairy free cake and candies. Each dessert stuck with the theme by mostly being white with hints of pink and gold. I also wanted to have a section where guests would sign my guestbook with a polaroid image using funny props. I’ve seen this done before and thought it was perfect since we basically collect polaroids. I have the funniest photos that I will cherish forever!
Although I knew more or less what was happening with decorations, gifts, flowers, etc, they all still managed to surprise me! The biggest surprise of them all was having the amazing, Stephanie Arvelo of city and palm, capture the entire day. I was so stunned to see her as she usually is snapping my #OOTD's. It was such a beautiful moment to share with her and is something that really made my day memorable. The pictures came out fabulous (as always) and I couldn’t wait to share with you guys! Next up: my bachelorette… stay tuned!
Photography: Stephanie Arvelo of City + Palm
Dress and Kimono: Mystique Boutique
Shoes: The Shoe Box
Cake: Erin Mckenna’s Bakery
Donut Shop: Du’s Donuts
Customized Cookies: Caroline At Cardinali Bakery
Venue: Diane’s Trattoria
Hello April and hello countdown to (almost) double digits to our wedding day. It still freaks me out when I get the notification via email that we are about 102 days away from the big day…I still can’t believe it, time is flying! I figured it would be a perfect time to share some more wedding inspo with you since we just sent out our wedding invites. Being my normal self, I decided to turn to Pinterest for some inspiration. We wanted our invitations to be memorable and something our guests will want to hold on to.
When I stumbled upon Chelsea Petaja’s work, I knew her style fit exactly what I wanted and then some… Located in Nashville, Chelsea runs a wedding stationary site and also has a shop on Etsy selling everything from stationary, placement cards, wall art, etc. She was extremely helpful throughout the entire process and was very patient when answering my millions of questions. Like most brides, this is all new to me, and no matter how much research you do and no matter how many friends you turn to for advice you might forget a step or two… totally normal. I felt Chelsea was always one step ahead making me realize we need a few more pieces to complete our wedding package. I can’t wait to show you guys the final product (and I promise soon!) but for now here is some of our inspiration to give you a few hints;)
Photos by @Pinterest
I’ve been non-stop day dreaming about my upcoming trips. As you know, I am getting married in Italy this summer and from there we are heading to our tropical honeymoon in Thailand! Being a planner and someone who is completely OCD, I got a head start playing around with different outfits and figured it would be the best time to share with you how I get ready for a vacation. From researching hotels and excursions, to taking flat lays of different outfit ideas, let’s just say I have a sick obsession;) (let me know if you do this too!) So keep reading if you’re interested in making the most out of your vacation; aka really relaxing since all the planning will be done before you even arrive!
Accommodations. Pretty obvious, but the amount of time and research I do to pick one is what is key. After we decide on a location and book our flight, finding where to stay is next! In the past, we have had some experiences where the hotel was not what we expected and can completely put a damper on the trip. Since then, I try and really do my research by reading reviews, stalking Instagram and finding a place that is at our standards, but within our budget. Location is another key point to finding the perfect accommodation. Finding a spot that is center of everything or a pretty close distance to where you plan on going during your stay is so important. In the past we tried to save a few bucks by booking a cheaper accommodation but didn’t realize how much money we would spend in cabs or transportation. This can really add up, making it better to put a few extra dollars in the actual hotel or Airbnb.
Outfits. Well for starters, it’s no secret that I enjoy shopping- but let’s face it, a well planned out vacation is nothing without some cute outfits. Recently, I have tried to find the most organizational way to pack for my trips. I have been trying to avoid overpacking but still want to bring enough options to last me. A good way to do this is to pre-plan your outfits by laying it all out and taking photos before packing it in your suitcase. Since I’ve started doing this not only does it get me excited for the trip, but it makes it that much easier when you’re in paradise not wanting to put in any effort! I photograph everything from bikinis, shirts, skirts, pants, jewelry and accessories. I always make sure to try the outfit on to see if its A) comfortable and B) fits the style I want to go for.
Itinerary. Is it just me or do you also make a full itinerary for your trip? Whether it's a two day getaway or a month long departure, I always try to put together some sort of itinerary highlighting important information such as the accommodation details, any reservations we make ahead of time, best tourist spots, etc. Again, I know I’m overly organized… I apologize if this is excessive I just really love doing it;)
With spring and summer approaching, I can’t wait to do some of our favorite outdoor activities that would be perfect for a day date:) Living in Brooklyn, we have access to such amazing, free, things that are really only enjoyable with some sunshine. So grab your love and get ready for a fun filled date.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. This is my favorite place on earth and I know that is so cliché to say but it is completely true. There is something about the bridge that makes me so happy and feel at peace. When the sun is out, our go-to is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, counting as a workout and a great spot to shoot some photos
Picnic at the Park. I still have yet to invest in a really cute picturesque picnic basket (making it a priority this season) but picnics are a really great, intimate way to spend a day date. You can gather some of your favorite food, wine and just chill out listening to music. Some of my favorite locations include Prospect Park, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. We try to do these as often as possible. The best part is you can budget the whole spread to be friendly to your wallet;)
Water Taxi to NYC. Let’s say you are on the Brooklyn side and decide to go out and explore NYC (or vice versa) you can take a water taxi as your form of transportation and skip the subway. When it’s a nice spring or summer day, this will make you feel like a 100 bucks thinking you are on some yacht ;) totally kidding but it will be a nice change of scenery and doesn’t cost you much.
Transit Museum Downtown Brooklyn. Not sure how I missed coming here after living in Brooklyn for almost seven years! This museum is built in an old transit station and showcases all the vintage subway cars, which was my favorite. On the weekends it can get pretty busy but we got lucky coming on the first Sunday of the month. If I recall, we only paid about $2 for entry but on a regular basis adults pay $10... still very reasonable!
Now that you read some of my favorite things to do on a sunny day, are you wishing it was spring too?! Let me know how you’d spend it...
Our wedding is only five months away (freaking out but so excited at the same time) and that means I need to kick it into full gear with my health and fitness routine. I have decided to put together a few tips to help you feel your best by proactively using this guide in your everyday life. When I thought about doing this post it was hard for me to list just a few but I figured these are the main points to get you feeling light, energized and most important, confident! Whether you are a bride-to-be or simply just reading this for fitness motivation, know these tips aren’t quick fixes and they actually are legit solutions that you can easily make a lifelong change with. As some of you know, I have been through a lot with my stomach issues (it still is a work in progress) but I live by the tips I’m sharing with you and have really changed my body and my mind!
Lemon Tea. I try to do this every morning to help me stay hydrated and let’s face it, less bloated. As soon as I wake up I put a pot of water to boil and then squeeze half of lemon into it. I love infused waters and sometimes I even add some fresh ginger!
Meal Prep. This one is crucial when staying fit and helping you stick to your goals! Every other week we go food shopping getting simple ingredients such as fresh produce, lean protein, fruits, etc. Being OCD and the type A person that I am, I like to plan out my meals Monday-Friday this way I know I’m set for the work week. I’ll admit this has seriously changed my life. In the past I was too lazy to ever cook only leading myself to order seamless for lunch and dinner every single night. Although take out is good once in a while (and we do depend on that during our night out meals) there is nothing better than a home cooked meal. I’m definitely not a chef and do rely on my fiancé to cook most of the stuff BUT he was able to show me (along with Pinterest) a few simple recipes that will have dinner ready within 20-25 minutes! Here is my Pinterest board of all my gluten free/dairy free recipes! Also, be sure to follow along on my Instagram as I am constantly posting what I eat in a day. When you successfully prep out your meals (including snacks) you are less likely to indulge in something. If you are a lover of planning then this step will be perfect for you...I think its fun to find new recipes and try them out :)
Working out. Working out in itself is so healing for our mind that sometimes when we aren’t on the grind to do it we forget how great it can make us feel. I was one of those people only working out here or there, maybe 2-3 times every other week. However, since April 2017 I was able to get on a consistent schedule to ensure I am working out at least 4 times a week. I like to mix it up between cardio, HIIT, and some weight training. No matter how tired I am, I try and push myself because I know when I am finished I’ll feel 1000x better. It only takes about 25-30 minutes daily to feel great and get into shape. If you commit to doing that many minutes each day you’ll see results and that in itself is well worth it.
Water. The good ol' water trick…it works and is completely necessary! Staying hydrated is probably no doubt the best for your body including healthy glowing skin. If you find yourself struggling to keep track of your water intake, I suggest investing in a reusable water bottle to hold yourself accountable. Depending on weight and height, everyone’s intake is different but I would recommend at least having 6 8oz glasses daily. With the warmer months coming up, you can make drinking water fun by infusing it with lemon, orange, mint, etc! It makes water taste delicious and is easier to hit your daily intake.
Cheat meal. We are all human which means we all have cravings, especially me! I am a big sugar freak and just can’t give this up. I love my sweets and look forward to the meal I decide to incorporate a treat or two;) My "cheat meal" is generally on the weekend as I know we are out and about exploring the city. Having a cheat meal is important because it allows you to not fall off the wagon and go into a downward spiral of binge eating. If you have a craving and avoid it, chances are that the craving is going to amplify and you are going to constantly think about it- leading to really bad decisions (trust me I have been there). Setting a day in the week to have a meal that you love but may not be consider “clean eating” is something to look forward to. Most important to this tip is to make sure you get right back to your goals the next day.
Eat more, not less. Many people think to lose or maintain weight you need to cut back and eat less. When I was younger I thought eating less was the way to shed off the weight. However, I found thats not the best way. Instead, you should be eating 4-5 small meals daily. In the beginning of my journey I portioned out everything I ate to ensure I was getting enough nutrients to accomplish my goals. For my body I was expected to have 2 fruits, 3 vegetables, 4 proteins, and 2 carbs daily. Now that I consistently do this, I have a better idea on how much of what I should be eating without properly portioning it out. Not only was I eating every 2 hours, I was feeling full. I also saw a big decrease in feeling bloated which is always my number one issue.
I hope you guys liked this one! I would love to go more into workout routines, recipes, etc... just let me know if that would interest you :)
Like most of us living in Brooklyn/NYC we spend our weekends galavanting around looking for the hottest brunch and dinner spots. I have accumulated a good amount of places especially in my favorite area, Williamsburg. The trendy, hipster spot is only a short drive from my apartment making it that much easier for me to spend majority of my free time hopping from place to place. I can do an entire post on Brooklyn restaurants we love but I figured dividing this up into different parts makes it easier for all of us (and it will save you from me blabbing).
Caracas Arepa Bar. With three locations, two in Brooklyn and one on the Lower East Side, this arepa bar is cheap, delicious and always a good time! I tend to come during lunch where they have a special serving salad or soup ( my choice is always salad!) with an arepa, all for the price of $9.75. On top of that, they have happy hour offered everyday and is just a quick yummy bite in the neighborhood!
Butler. This cozy cool location served me the best quinoa salad I’ve had in a while. The lighting is perfect for any ‘instagrammer' and the seating is so comfortable making you stay for hours. It’s one of my favorite coffee shops serving great lunch options on top of the necessary café choices.
ELA Taverna. I will admit its not the best greek place out there but it works for a quick dinner and is always serving yummy dishes at an affordable price. We generally come for the “early bird special”- I put quotes on that because there is no such thing on the menu, we just coincidentally have always eaten here around 4pm... I generally order the 1/2 roasted chicken served with a side of steamed spinach or the greek salad (minus the feta!).
Cafe Mogador. I have seen this spot all over yelp and I can see why. It is probably my favorite on this list serving the best Moroccan dishes! They have two locations one in Williamsburg and one in the East Village. My fave is the Williamsburg location as I feel it is easier to get a table. This place is busy all day, everyday. From experience, the best time to ensure you will get seated is during lunch hour any day of the week. The hype is well worth it and both locations seem to be as charming as they photograph.
Pies N’ Thighs (before my gluten free days). Ah nothing like a good old chicken and waffles. I still get cravings for this place (too bad there are no gluten free options!) It’s the perfect hangover meal. My go to was the fried chicken sandwich served on a biscuit. It is so delicious that I still dream about eating it! The sandwich has a kick of spice with their homemade hot sauce and a touch of sweetness with honey drizzled on top… SO GOOD! FYI, if any of you know a gluten free fried chicken place I’d love to try for my cheat meal!
Lilia Ristorante. Italian restaurants in NYC aren’t hard to find but Lilia is the type of place where you leave dreaming about each dish you just devoured. I haven’t been in a while as it is so hard to get a reservation! The hype is real and everyone is talking about this place. My recommendation would be to try the pasta. I am not sure if they do gluten free pasta dishes but they have great alternatives such as grilled meats and fresh fish that I would love to try when I go back.
Westlight in the William Vale. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I totally recommend coming here for a few appetizers and a drink. The best part of this place is its stunning view of NYC. The modern rooftop located on the top of the newly built William Vale is a great night out and perfect way to enjoy the sunset. You can’t go wrong with any of the small dishes they offer, they are all delicious.
Reynard. Located inside the Wythe Hotel has a cool romantic vibe for a dinner out. All of the dishes carry unique elements and you can choose between dining at the bar or in the main dining room (depending on the experience you want to get).
Would love to hear if you guys have been to any of the above or have new places for me to check out! :)
The month of February is all about love so why not share some of it with your closet girlfriends? I have many days planned with some of my fave beauties and wanted to share my ideas that would be a great excuse to get out and explore New York!
Stroll through The Line NYC. Shopping is always a good idea especially with close friends. Located in SoHo, The Line is a place to truly get lost and convince yourself that you live there because it's THAT amazing. I spent a good amount of time admiring the light-filled aerie space featuring the sickest home decor, a girls dream closet, and a bathtub that would never get you to leave the house. It is truly picture perfect and made me set the standard high for my future home.
Nails at Paintbucket. A good manicure/pedicure has been a great go to for decades when spending time with girlfriends...So, why not add to that by going to a pretty in pink salon with custom nail art, free champagne and Instagram worthy corners? Paintbucket, located in Williamsburg, is a modern nail salon specializing in nail services that will leave you feeling refreshed. Did I mention they provide free champagne? Sign me up!
Drinks and Appetizers at LadyBird. I came here on a Friday night and sat in the most romantic emerald booth with gold and white accents everywhere. If the inside isn’t enough to get you to go in, the entrance is even more chic with a sea foam door screaming elegance. LadyBird is a vegan tapas style restaurant making all menu options to also be gluten free! I was in heaven and every dish was better than the last. We shared a good 4-5 plates that included the gluten free mushroom & onion toast, Avocado (asian style), sweet potato tempura and the beets. The food (and wine) was that good that I forgot to take pictures. It’s the perfect spot to catch up with friends over wine and appetizers!
Fifty Shades Freed at iPic Theatre. This is what I am actually doing the weekend of Valentine’s Day and figured it would be a fun one to throw in to today’s post! The Fifty Shades series is one that women all over the world are dying to see. This time, we get to see Anastasia Steel and Christian Grey tie the knot (can’t even contain myself). I will be screening the film in NYC’s iPic Theatre located on Fulton Street. The theatre itself is amazing, you can reserve the premium plus seats that come with a blanket and pillow and the ability to recline your seats way down low! It definitely is a little bit on the pricier side ($20- $30) when going to the movies but well worth it. They serve you drinks and food so you are really ready to binge out.
How are you spending your Valentine’s Day?
Its been a few since I wrote a post that I completely forgot how therapeutic and rewarding writing makes me feel. I have made it a personal goal to put up a post at least twice a week and I will do everything in my power to make that possible (even maybe write more than two a week!). I got so much feedback on my previous travel posts about Italy that I decided to create one about a closer to home location, The Hudson Valley. This past weekend my fiancé and I celebrated Valentine’s Day early and resided at the Rivertown Lodge. We were in need of a last minute escape from the city and given the low cost, it was a no brainer. This place is exactly what you can expect by stalking Instagram…It really lives up to its pictures; quaint, charming and makes you feel as if you’re in Brooklyn. The drive is only about two hours away from the city and during our stay, we even got lucky with a snowfall. Rivertown lodge is inspired by Scandinavian design and has a common area with fireplaces and old school games (checkers, dominos) making it perfect to cozy up on a winter day. Behind the lobby is their own private tavern, which we ate dinner at. The food was so delicious (and gluten free friendly) as we shared a whole sea bass for two. We can’t wait to return in the spring and try out some new spots we didn’t get to make it to this time! For now, see how we spent a quick 24 hours on Warren Street.
Fish & Game: This spot has been on our list of places to visit for a while now. Being foodies, we have heard nothing but great things and needed to try it ourselves. We didn’t think we were going to make it on this trip as we didn’t plan ahead of time with reservations. But finding out that they do lunch on the weekends, we spontaneously decided to go on Sunday before our drive back. The lounge at Fish & Game, is my favorite part of the whole place. It truly is my home inspiration, with chesterfield sofas, an old antique fireplace, and a killer bar. Before becoming gluten free/dairy free, we used to dine at so many places. Now, I need to be more conscious and always get a little nervous to present my allergies to the server. However, our server was beyond accommodating and even offered a gluten free/dairy free dessert which is generally NOT what happens (unless they specialize in these options). Let’s just say my sweet tooth was happy and so was my belly :) From the first course all the way to the last, every dish was on point making us even more excited to return in the spring. We shared a few plates including, focaccia with whipped goat-milk ricotta (for him), winter crudite with a homemade sweet potato style hummus, braised lamb with Young’s rice and Moroccan spices, and a homemade Young’s rice pudding topped with persimmons.
Phoenica Diner: The iconic Diner you read in travel diaries. I don’t think a trip to the Hudson Valley would be complete without a stop at the Phoenica Diner. During the summertime, there are sometimes 1-2 hour long waits, therefore they have an outside seating area covered in picnic tables where guests take their to-go orders avoiding the wait. This time, we got lucky and sat right away. Inside, the diner is decorated old school with old fashion soda machines, big red booths, and endless coffee/tea refills in those big white oversized diner mugs. Its the perfect brunch spot having everything from eggs, waffles, french toasts, and classic sandwiches!
Tin Can Juicery: I was on the hunt to find a sweet vegan treat which brought me to this juicery. Along with fresh smoothies and juices, Tin Can also serves vegan gluten free treats from the company “Happy Belly”. It was a perfect and refreshing snack to pick up for our ride back.
Small shops including Minna: Along Warren Street you will find the cutest shops including furniture stores, antique and vintage stores. I have been really into home decor lately and trying to accumulate as many ideas as possible to create the perfect “Pinterest” looking apartment of all time. If Minna was in Brooklyn, I’d be in trouble as I fell in love with everything. This home textile brand has everything from rugs to pillows, to blankets & throws to even bathroom necessities. Good news (if I can’t make it before my trip back in the Spring) they sell items online!
Months, weeks, even days leading up to the wedding I want to have my beauty routine down. I’ve always been one who is into beauty and have a daily beauty regimen. However, I thought it would be perfect timing to spice it up and try some new products to ensure I look and feel my best the day of our wedding. I recently received an all natural teeth whitening product from Bianco Smile, the activated charcoal whitening powder. I drink a lot of matcha (as you all can see) and definitely needed something to make sure my teeth stay white and fresh! I have been using it daily for about a week now and really am enjoying the results! The product is 100% natural and comes in a travel size container so I can bring it along with me to Italy! The best part is that it doesn’t leave your gums and teeth with a tingly sensation as other whitening products do. The activated charcoal acts to remove toxins from the mouth and removes any stain from your teeth. It is so easy to add to your daily routine!
Step 1: After you have brushed your teeth, wet your tooth brush again and dip it in the charcoal powder
Step 2: Scrub your teeth for about 2-3 minutes with the charcoal powder (don’t be alarmed but your whole mouth will turn black! It’s a scary sight but totally worth it…)
Step 3: Simply RINSE!
Bianco Smile offers a ton of vegan, all natural whitening products, but if you’re looking for an easy way to get some pearly whites I suggest you purchase the powder! Don’t forget to use my coupon code, BLONDER20, to receive 20% off your order.
In today’s ‘Wedding Wednesday’ I am bringing you some of the most beautiful pictures captured by a seriously talented couple, Angela & Chaz. They contacted me via Instagram and I am forever grateful because their work is ahhh-mazing and they are some of the sweetest people we have ever met! Angela & Chaz started their business, @photo243_, shooting couples in a raw and authentic way. The two are from Ohio and after glancing at their work I knew it was a match made in heaven. During our shoot, they put us at such ease as they provided so much direction. For the full sixty minutes, we put it all in their hands and gained a million shots that I am framing all over the house…#sorrynotsorry. So, do yourself the favor and go check out some of the love stories they captured. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Here are a few of my faves, which were so hard to limit because I am obsessed with them all. Oh, and the best part is that we set up the shoot to be on the day of our 1 year engagement anniversary! How perfect is that?
There are times during the day when I want to give up and when negative thoughts take over my mind. Those moments are the hardest and I am sure if you’re reading this you can relate in one way or another. Being in your 20s and living in the hustle and bustle of New York City can be extremely overwhelming. But, for most of us, this is all that we know. I’m not from a small town in the US, not someone who just picked up and moved to the city, I am a New Yorker and New York has always been my home. I thought I was supposed to get a corporate job in Manhattan, work 9-5 and sit in a 4x4 cubicle staring at a computer screen for hours. But, to be honest that life isn’t for me and the thought of me doing that seems like a complete mess. This year has been my toughest year yet. I learned a lot about myself (and I mean A LOT) which is great, but came with many struggles. So here I am pouring my heart and soul into this blog, taking photos in cafés because that is what truly makes me happy. Trying to turn my hobby into an actual career. As some of you have read in my previous posts, traveling abroad this summer opened my eyes to many new ideas and opportunities. While I was away, I felt unstoppable and wanted to take part in everything our world has to offer. Luckily, that passion, that drive, that determination, followed me home.
Someone close to me once said, “they don’t work to live, they just live”. An outsider far away from New York; far away from all the hustle and bustle, understands that there is more to life than just that. Now, this stuck with me and is something I try and remind myself everyday. Sure, I want to be able to financially support myself for my needs and desires, but what is the point of all of that if you’re truly not happy? If you’re reading this and are agreeing with certain parts in this post, then take this as your sign. This is your sign that everything is going to be okay. It’s okay to change career paths, it’s okay to not know exactly who you are and it’s okay to be afraid of chasing your dreams. It took me a few years to realize that and took me a few months to admit it out loud, but now I am here. I am ready to take whatever comes my way and ready to break out of my shell to follow my passion. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by NYC and simply just want some peace and quiet to think, I take a drive to Bear Mountain. It is so close, but makes you feel so far and every time we leave I feel refreshed, motivated, and ready to be on top of the world again...
What are your passions?
Saturday is my favorite day of the week, amongst the entire world, but for me a Saturday well spent is in Brooklyn with my love going from café to café…I guess you can say I am a professional “café hopper”. I spend quite a bit of time scoping out cute locations to snap a photo and of course get my favorite drink, a dairy free matcha latte. There’s something about getting lost in a cafe; glued to your computer screen typing for hours, sipping maybe 1 or 2 drinks and topping that off with a sweet treat- to me there’s really nothing like it. Sure, when I go to these cafes I’m getting that photo and ordering my drink, but really I’m gaining inspiration… That inspiration is so powerful it fills all the cozy spots, never making you want to leave. It’s seriously an addiction. So, you’re welcome ;) here are a few of my fave spots in the Brooklyn area! Be sure to check out my Instagram, @alyssablond, to see my go-to order from all of these places.
DOT & LINE- The smallest of the bunch, this place is tucked in Cobble Hill serving you winter goodness; a vegan hot cocoa! I haven’t had hot chocolate in years given it is so hard to find a good dairy free brand. Even if you aren’t dairy free, I would order this anyway… it so chocolatey and so creamy I thought it was accidentally switched for the regular one! On the coffee counter, you will find random scrabble pieces that you can play around with for a cute photo op
GATHER PARK SLOPE- Not only is this place steps away from my apartment but, they are constantly changing their dairy free/gluten free treats which intrigues me to try EVERYTHING. They have some yummy lunch specials and an exclusive brunch menu they only serve on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. I am in here at least 4 times a week and am never disappointed.
STONEFRUIT ESPRESSO + KITCHEN- A new spot I found in Bushwick, we never seem to venture over there but because we just got a car it’s been easier to go to many different areas (goodbye horrible MTA service, aka the G train). We found ourselves cozied up in the “common” corner you find on Instagram filled with comfortable pillows, one with the saying “good vibes only”. Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen is definitely a place to chill out with nothing but positive vibes. The space is so bright and open! Not to mention, every single treat (brownies, cookies, cakes, scones) were gluten free and dairy free. If you’re not into the treats, my number one recommendation for breakfast/brunch is to order the chia oat pudding! It was amazing.
MAMAN GREENPOINT- It is on my list to visit all Maman locations in Manhattan, but for now I have only discovered the one in Greenpoint. I stepped out of my comfort zone and instead ordered the Moroccan Mint Tea. Presented in the most beautiful way, I found myself taking picture after picture because every spot was perfect to capture. Maman is bigger than it looks having a small section upstairs where you can find people on their laptops working or just taking in some peace and quiet. Despite the mixed reviews on yelp, this is one you must try!
HUNGRY GHOST COFFEE- Two locations in the Fort Greene Area, our go to is the one right on Flatbush Ave. This place screams cool girl- the decor is dark with rich woods and a ton of brick exposure. I would say to try and avoid this location on a weekend as many people bring theirs kids. If you’re trying to get some work done like myself, a better time to come is later in the day or even a weekday morning.
How do you guys spend your Saturday’s?
Last and final stop on this Italian adventure…Positano! I’m sure many of you know the famous village overloaded with beautiful lemon trees, pink oleander and endless amounts of limoncello. Similar to Capri, Positano is a magical place and all you want to do is dress to impress. With that, comes a big luxurious price tag, but this post will show you, you can still enjoy the finer things of Positano while being mindful with your wallet;)
Dine at La Tagliata—> Up in the hills of Positano, this authentic dinner comes with a lot of food, a lot of wine, and a lot of dancing. Not to mention, one of the most breath taking views overlooking the sea. Locals say the best night to go is on Tuesday night as they have live music playing. This was by far the best meal we had and I’m not sure if it was the wine talking or me just being a sucker for live music… I recommend calling the restaurant ahead of time to make a reservation. When doing this, you are guaranteed free shuttle service to and from, which will save you the hassle and cost of a taxi cab. We paid around 50 euro per person, but trust me when I say the food and wine is NON-STOP. You’ll be leaving with a full belly and plenty of jaw dropping pictures.
Picnic at the beach—> My fiancé and I love doing this no matter where we are (Brooklyn, Central Park, Paris, etc) a good take out meal and an epic view has us cuddling up for sunset. After a day at sea, we were starved and spontaneously decided to take our dinner to the beach. Along the beach are many different restaurants, some which we saw on yelp and some we were recommended to go to through friends. We set up a picnic right on the public beach, overlooking Positano’s famous view. It cost us all of 20 euro and we watched the pinkest sunset I have ever seen. I wish we were able to do this more than once on our trip but we didn’t think of the idea until the end of our stay!
Health Kick at Case e Bottega—> I’ll admit, I have seen this place all over Instagram and know that many travelers already know of its existence BUT it was too good not to include in my travel diary. Case e Bottega is a basic girls dream. The place is completely white and is one I would want my summer beach house to look like. Given that we were in Italy for two months, food choices consisted of pizza, pasta, aka carb overload… Here, there are fresh choices on the menu only using organic fruits and vegetables. Another bonus is that there are many items gluten free and dairy free (right up my alley)! Some of my favorite items include the liquid sun smoothie, avocado smoothie bowl, and the coconut passion smoothie.
Boat Day—> When you think of spending your summer on the Amalfi Coast, a private boat tour is something you would want to make a priority for your trip. I used a well respected boat company, Gianni's Boat, to take us out on the Mediterranean for the day. Gianni’s Boat is based out of Capri but luckily there was an option to sail from Positano for a duration of 4 hours. I will admit the tour is pricey as it is completely private with the option to bring onboard food and drinks. We were a party of 4 therefore the cost per person seemed much more reasonable then the total amount. It was honestly a blast and this is where I got some of my favorite pictures from the summer! We stopped quite a few times to swim in the open ocean, take in some sun and just relax. Our tour guide was HYSTERICAL and really made us feel comfortable offering to snap photos, provide history of the island and play our own choice of music.
If any of you are planning on traveling here this summer, I would love to hear your plans!
I have been dying to travel to Ravello for as long as I could remember. If you’ve visited, I am sure you can agree with me that any picture, video, or even the words I am writing in this blog post can’t do it justice. Ravello is absolutely stunning. There is simply no other way to put it. Our stay there was way too short and I honestly wish we spent more time. Ravello’s beauty attracts a crowd of people with elegance but still some sort of casualty. Given that it is so luxurious, the prices are surprisingly more laid back and reasonable. Ravello is flooded with so much culture, churches, gardens, cobblestone streets and the most breath taking views of the Mediterranean. Don’t miss some of our favorite spots when you visit- and trust me, you’re going to want to visit ASAP!
Villa Cimbrone. Probably Ravello’s most googled location; this massive lush garden is an open space with fountains, architecture, and views overlooking the sea. When I stepped foot on the premises my mouth immediately dropped. It was the most beautiful place I have ever been to and left me speechless. The villa is opened to the public (if you’re not residing there) for just a small fee. I don’t remember the exact price but I believe it was about 7-10 euro per person. With a day pass, you have access to the grounds and can spend hours getting lost in all its beauty. If you want to feel even more luxurious, grab a negroni or cocktail of your choice in the villa’s hotel bar overlooking the sea!
Belmond Hotel Caruso. Again, another place flooding your feed when searching Ravello... The Belmond Caruso is a five star luxurious hotel with the most epic infinity pool. This is the hotel I would do anything to stay in and is on my list of places to be before I die (LOL). Every inch, every detail is covered in beauty. My fiancé and I couldn’t afford to spend a night as the room rates start anywhere from 1,000 euro/per night BUT we did discover the hotel bar. Every night when we were done touring the city or just about to go to dinner, we would come here to sip on cocktails for aperitivo. Starting at 4pm, the piano bar serves aperitivo with live music overlooking the sea. Once you order a drink (which will cost you approximately 16-22 euro per cocktail) you are given a spread of different “bites” that can be refilled. In Italy, aperitivio is generally what the public does to unwind before a late dinner. At the Belmond Caruso, aperitivo is an experience and one that is worth spending the higher price tag for.
Lunch or Dinner at Trattoria Da Cumpa' Cosimo. Mixed reviews on trip advisor left me hesitant to try this place, but if you can’t tell we are big foodies and decided to just give it a go. I was not disappointed and we even came back for a second visit! This trattoria is tucked away in the cobblestone streets of Ravello, only a short walk from the city piazza. The prices are reasonable and you get a ton of food. The best part of the atmosphere is that it is a family run business. Mama Netta, the nonna who has been running the place for years, is the sweetest, going around to each table to make sure that a) they are eating and b) they are enjoying themselves.
Stay tuned for the final part of this travel post… Positano!
Before our #summerinitaly, I spent endless hours on Pinterest and social media tracking down the best places to visit during our stay in Capri, Ravello, and Positano. Two weeks on the coast allowed us to venture out and try some of Italy’s most fabulous places. With my sense of luxury, my wallet was suffering and so was my fiancé… (LOL) but we managed to still experience the best of a best, even on a budget! For this three part travel post, I’ll start out with our tips and go to places for Capri. Enjoy:)
Transportation—> Use the bus system! It is only 2 euros per ride in both directions between Capri and Anacapri. Although the taxis in Capri can make you feel like a movie star as most are vintage convertibles, your going to want to limit the usage as it can cost you around 30 euros one way! To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the cost to be so high... I was only focused on the convertible part of the ride and was in HEAVEN. 10 minutes later, I came back to reality and realized we just “splurged” on a taxi ride.
Beach Day at La Fontelina—> The iconic spot invaded with blue and white umbrellas. This place was by far my favorite on the island. I would recommend reaching out ahead of time to make a reservation. The trendy beach club only accepts reservations with a “2-day” policy. I went ahead and made that judgement as I knew we would love it! Definitely plan to leave your hotel early to ensure you get a nice spot/umbrella. Usually during the summer time there are many “locals” or “regulars” that get the best location on the premise... but if you get there early enough you’ll find a nice spot too!
Il Riccio Restaurant for Lunch—> When booking our lunch reservation, it was strictly for research as we were planning on hosting our entire wedding at this spot! Since plans changed last minute with the location of our wedding, we decided to still check it out. I made us a reservation for lunch where we ate fresh seafood and grilled vegetables (seriously this was every meal we had in Capri) followed by DESSERT! I emphasize dessert because at Il Riccio you are welcomed to browse the “temptation” room filled with dozens of sweet treats. With our bellies full and our check paid, we then were able to use the deck above the restaurant to sunbathe for the remainder of the day. Although Il Riccio is trendy and comes with the price tag, I would say lunchtime is the best way to experience a more laid back/relaxed meal.
Lido Del Faro, Anacapri—> This was another place on my list that many of my friends and the internet requested us to visit. Since we invested in paying quite a few dollars for Fontelina, we wanted to try to get a deal with this beach club experience. A kind local let us know that if you visit the area after 2:30/3 you’d be lucky to pay half the price for the “sunset rate”. The rate included 2 lounge chairs, access to the pool, access to the beach (rocky-but used to jump into the water!), and view of the beautiful sunset.
Stay tuned for part 2, Ravello.
If you know me and I mean know me at all, you know that numbers are my thing. Let’s just say, I am extremely superstitious and read into numbers like no one I’ve ever met. I was born on 7/27, at 7:57 and I weighed 7.11… as you can see, seven is the most special number to me. Almost a year ago to date, my best friend asked me to marry him. He didn’t just ask on any random day, he purposely planned to propose on 1/7/17 knowing my psycho ways of reading into numbers (LOL). It was the snowiest day of winter and somehow he managed to get me to go on the Brooklyn Bridge. Seriously, I didn’t think anything of it and still playback that moment like it was yesterday.
Keeping with the “seven” trend, we decided to get married in July. Even though July is hot and in Italy probably the hottest month, I couldn’t imagine picking any other day. Praying for lots of sunshine on the day (fingers crossed/no rain dance on repeat). As I’m reminiscing on the most special day of my life- outside my window is a complete blizzard… figures right?
Here are a few photos from that day shot by our amazing best friend!
Given that it's a new year and many of us set goals/resolutions for the next 12 months, I felt this post was necessary to open 2018 with. About nine months ago, I decided to make a life change and start living a healthier lifestyle. I cut out most dairy products (with the exception of cheese here and there) and joined a fitness group where many women inspired one another with recipes, workout routines, etc. Growing up, I have always dealt with stomach issues and was very sensitive to certain food groups. Unbeknownst to me, I had an actual allergy and instead of thinking having a stomach ache was the “norm”, I decided to do something and cut it out completely. I traded in regular milk for almond milk, cut out yogurt and opted for the gluten free option when eating starch. Once I did so, I felt a trillion times better. I became committed to this lifestyle change and being me, decided to do a ton of research to find food alternatives that would satisfy me/ my sweet tooth ;). Living a gluten free and dairy free life can be challenging, especially for sweet treats. However, there are many places in NYC that cater to these needs and some of those places are my favorites. Sweets By Chloe, Van Leeuwen, Cookie DO NYC, Tu-Lu’s Bakery, these are just a few of my go to places. As you can see in my pictures, the 'Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip’ is my fave at Van Leeuwen! At their Greenpoint location, they make all their ice cream from scratch with a handful of fresh ingredients. The vegan flavors are probably some of the creamiest. Recipes include using house made cashew milk, organic cane sugar, and pure cocoa butter. Let’s just say- it is perfection!
If you’re interested in knowing what I eat in a day, I can do an entire post on that showing you breakfast, lunch, dinner and my 2 small snacks! For now, check out my Pinterest board for recipe inspiration and follow along on my insta stories as I am always posting vegan treats:)
1. BE YOURSELF-> Let's face it, it's a little uncomfortable to take 'lovey dovey' photos in front of complete strangers. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself. Nothing stinks more than stiff looking "get me out of here" type of photos. Before my fiancé and I had our shoot, I did a ton of research and felt this tip was key to creating the vision I wanted for our pictures. We needed to be comfortable and pretend as if no one is around us. Let me tell you, it worked. After the first couple of shots, I felt both of us totally being ourselves without trying too hard. The pictures showcased our personalities and us as a couple.
2. PLAN OUT YOUR OUTFIT-> This tip was fun for me as I love putting outfits together. I didn't want our photos to look 'too matchy' but I did want us to compliment each other staying true to our style. I have seen many couples plan 2-3 outfits for their engagement shoot, but because we only had a short amount of time, 1 outfit was plenty. I wore a simple summer dress and my fiancé wore a nice pair of light weight pants with a button down. The weather was brutally hot and I'm not going to lie I couldn't wait to jump into the ocean moments after we were finished. I was so happy we stuck with a solid color palette, my dress, from Lulus, was mustard yellow, and his shirt a dark hunter green. It really complimented the old streets of Capri and the romantic atmosphere Italy has to offer.
3. RESEARCH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER-> In my case, my engagement shoot was unique, as my fiancé and I were abroad not knowing many people, especially in the wedding industry. We didn't book our photographer yet, therefore we didn't have the option to "practice" with an engagement shoot. I knew it was important to nail a photographer who captured the exact style we wanted; candid, not posed and rustic. After many google searches, I found a company named Flytographer. Flytographer is great in the sense that they have photographers in over 200 destinations capturing vacations, honeymoons, couple shoots, etc. There are a few options to choose from that present quality photos within a reasonable price. The best part of Flytographer is that they list multiple photographers in the area where you are vacationing. This was extremely important as I was able to explore example shoots and truly see if the style matched my idea. I won't get into much detail as I can write an entire post about our experience with the company! (if you want me to spill more... I'd be happy to get into that in another post)
4. LOCATION-> Originally my fiancé and I thought we wanted to host our wedding destination on the island of Capri. Although, our plans changed, we still loved Capri and felt it was the perfect place to vacation. However, I was in panic mode thinking our engagement shoot wouldn't match the concept of our wedding...given we are now getting married in Toscana. I didn't know if capturing pictures by the sea would truly embrace our vision. Instead of turning into a complete bridezilla, I decided to take matters into my own hands and reach out to our photographers, Mary & Maurizio. They were so understanding and open to all the ideas I had. I wanted to limit our pictures by the sea and instead capture us walking through the rustic corners of Capri... in front of old Italian cottage doors and greenery.
5. SPEAK UP-> If none of my tips were helpful, I feel this one is the one you MUST take home with you. It is okay to speak up for what you want and what vision you have. As we know, photos last a lifetime and since you're paying a professional to capture these moments it is so important they turn out the way you envision. If I didn't speak up about the location of our photos, I wouldn't of been happy which would have truly reflected in the pictures. In the end, my photographers appreciated my advice. I was able to create a relationship with them prior to our shoot. In the end, this made everyone feel comfortable.
Photos by Mary & Maurizio of Flytographer
The post I’ve been waiting to write! My wedding inspo post. Here, you’ll see a collection of all things wedding that inspired me and my fiancé to create a vision board of our dreams. Everyone has asked me what is the theme of your wedding or what vibe are you trying to create on the day? Honestly, we don’t have one specific theme or vibe in mind…we just want to create a romantic atmosphere embedded in greenery. It’s crazy to think I am planning a wedding thousands of miles away but seriously I couldn’t do half of it without my fabulous wedding planner, Martina, from Exclusive Italy Weddings. She has made the process so easy and we are constantly chasing each other via Pinterest or email to make our dreams a reality. This week marked seven months until the big day and I can’t help but scream with excitement! Although, we still have quite a bit of planning to do all major details have been booked aka our wedding venue, the dress, DJ/Band, etc. Now, all that is left are the minor details- the fun details that I can’t wait to jump into!
Stay tuned as I show you more behind scenes of planning...
Photos from Pinterest
My favorite thing about winter is putting together cozy outfits. Living in Brooklyn, our winters can get cold and sometimes you rather dress warm than look "cute". However, over the years I've learned to invest in some great coats that can turn any plain outfit into something spectacular (aka, chic). This season I was on a hunt for a motto jacket. When I stumbled into my favorite store, Zara, I knew right away this dusty rose number needed to be in my closet. I wanted something different, something other than the color black and that is just what this little lady was. Since, I’ve styled her in so many ways and I can attest by saying I am not sick of the color. Want to see some more outfit inspiration? Head to my Instagram account, @alyssablond.
Photos by Stephanie Arvelo
Welcome, to my first blog post! To be completely honest, this was a scary leap for me but a really exciting one at the same time. I've always dreamed about writing and sharing what I love (lifestyle; beauty, fitness, travel, street style, bridal, the list goes on). You name it I am pretty much obsessed with everything girly. So here goes nothing...
It's only natural for me to open up with my summer travels in Italy. Italy is such a special country and holds a really big place in my heart. My fiancé and I decided to jet set from Brooklyn and live vicariously through the locals for 72 full days. Truly, I have never experienced something so amazing. Now I completely understand the phrase "la dolce vita" because I lived it. Hearing the church bells from our apartment window to the vibrant streets that filled with loud Italians, makes me wish I bottled every bit of that atmosphere and brought it home with me... or just never left altogether! As the summer came to an end, it was bittersweet for the both of us. We created some of our best memories and became enriched with all that Italy has to offer. I still constantly scroll through our pictures and polaroids to remind myself how incredible life is. In just a few short months, we will be back in the country of pasta, pizza and romance to tie the knot! I am so excited for what is to come and to share all about our dreamy wedding in the small town of Pienza.