December 26, 2013

In lieu of resolutions...

While I love the idea of a fresh start, New Year's resolutions bug me for a couple of reasons:

1. They are generally vague. "I will lose weight in 2014" - great, but how? And will you keep it off, or drink your way through another gallon of eggnog in approximately 365 days and end up in this exact same position?

2. They read like a laundry list of steps to becoming a perfect person. Eat healthier. Go to sleep earlier. Be a better wife/girlfriend/dad/whatever. Resolutions tend to come in multiples - if not, aren't you underachieving? After all, you have a whole freakin' year to do this stuff, slacker. A long list of lifestyle changes can be hard to tackle all at once.

3. They make the gym really, really crowded.

This year, I'm doing things a little differently. Maybe I have commitment issues and can't settle on a single topic for a year, but in 2014 I'm going to set monthly challenges for myself instead of a few year-long resolutions.

In January, I'll be running a mile every day. 

Photo from RunOm Cincy - Great American Ballpark

I know most of you are probably thinking that's pretty easy. After all, a mile isn't a challenging run. Most people run a mile in just 10-12 minutes. My mile a day challenge is about consistency. If I can't make time for a 10 minute run every day, I need to re-evaluate my priorities. I chose January for this challenge because I also really, really dislike the cold weather.

The distance isn't the important part for me - actually running is. You see, I hate running. Loathe it. Most likely this is because I'm not great at it, and I tend to gravitate towards activities that reward me with quick, juicy, satisfying success. Here's to waking up early, freezing my butt off, and probably taking a few more running shoe pictures along the way.

So there's my plan for January. What's yours?


December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, friends

This holiday season has been unlike any other I've experienced. It's my first year spending Christmas away from my family, and also my first Christmas in my new apartment. It would be easy to focus on the things this holiday season is missing, but I have so very much to be grateful for. Good friends, though we may be scattered. Jobs that make me happy. Goals, dreams, and plans that I'm truly excited about. Lots and lots of love. A place that finally feels like my home. A rich, well-balanced life.

Wishing every single one of you a blessed holiday!


December 10, 2013


I adore everything about the holiday season. Christmas music and movies (even the really, truly terrible kind), crazy shopping, baking, gifts - all of it. My absolute favorite part of the holidays, however, is the abundance of kindness. With the knowledge that my friends, neighbors, and complete strangers are probably dealing with an extra dose of stress around this time of the year, I like to go the extra mile to brighten someone's day. That is why I absolutely adore the #NoHumbug challenge from lululemon athletica.

I can't wait to try some of these ideas. I'll be following #NoHumbug on Twitter and Instagram, so be sure to tag me in your posts - I'd love to see them!


December 9, 2013

Sweet Lemon Mag - Holiday Issue

Sweet Lemon Magazine's holiday issue debuted today, and it is just perfection. Think tons of gift guides, holiday beauty tips, and all things festive.

 My favorite part? Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise is featured on the cover. Who doesn't love a handsome guy with a huge heart? At just 30 years old, he was named on of Wired's "50 People Who will Change the World."

I'm also so happy to be included as one of the contributing bloggers! You can check out my feature on page 76 of the issue.


December 5, 2013

Currently Reading...

As winter weather and the holiday craziness approaches, it's nice to have respite in the form of good books. Here's what I'm currently reading:

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

By now, most people know that I absolutely adore the Humans of New York blog. The Facebook comments tend to get a little crazy, but the book is purely a celebration of diversity present in a single (amazing) city. 

Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

Okay, I'm going to admit this one sounds hokey. It came with a great recommendation though, and I want to keep an open mind. The Amazon description says "Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world."  So there you go - who doesn't want that?

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

As the only fiction book I'm currently reading, I'm expecting a lot out of The Fault in our Stars. This one also comes with stellar recommendations, and even the bookstore employees told me it was their favorite book, period.

What are you reading? Any great books I should know about?


November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

While I may not be able to visit my immediate family this year, I'll certainly be celebrating.

I'll be fitting in an early morning workout for a great cause at Elmntl Fitness. Kevin Wimmer, the brains and brawn behind the outdoor fitness program, is donating all the proceeds to an animal rescue.

(Calm down ladies, he's married)

If you aren't familiar with Elmntl Fitness, here's an example what I'll be doing while most people I know are still cozy in their beds:

Luckily, I'm a morning person! Sunrise is by far my favorite time of the day.  

 I'm also very blessed to have the opportunity to spend a few hours with some extended family and friends in Cincinnati. Let's all take a moment to be thankful for hospitality and cocktails, shall we?

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and lots of things to be grateful for!


November 19, 2013

Ikea Desk Upcycle

In need of a desk and inspired by Kelly, I decided to grab the Vittsjo desk from Ikea for a DIY project. It's only $39.99, so I figured my project couldn't go too badly. The desk is the perfect size for me, and I like the streamlined, open/airy feel.

I picked up a jar of Liquid Leaf from a nearby craft store for just $6 and started applying it all over the steel frame using gloves (very important!) and a paper towel. I prefer liquid leaf to spray paint because it has additional depth. An old dress bag served as a drop-cloth to save my kitchen tile. This is what the first coat looked like: 

After allowing it to dry, I went back and applied a second layer of Liquid Leaf with a foam brush. The desk also comes with a little shelf, so I used plain old masking tape to create stripes. I subconsciously tried to channel Kate Spade a little, maybe?

Aaaand the finished product (although the space is certainly still in need of some styling): 

Stay tuned for more DIY projects! The joys of a new apartment...


November 16, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Holiday themed everything is creeping into my life, and I love it. The holiday season is my absolute favorite, and I like to celebrate as long as possible. This BCBGMAXAZRIA dress makes it all the more fun:

I love cozy weekends in parks and coffee shops. What are you up to this weekend?


November 8, 2013

Instagram Magnets

I love Instagram and finding awesome new companies, so I was thrilled when Instajunction sent me these photo magnets made from some of my Instagram pictures!

The following pictures (taken with my iPhone...still unpacking from my recent move!) don't do them justice. Each photo is a two inch square and the colors are completely vibrant and crisp, just as they would appear on Instagram. The magnets come in a single sheet, and it takes just a few seconds to separate them.

(Note: "Be the change" magnet and yoga class pass not included...)

The founder, Chris, and the rest of the team are so passionate about their products and their customers. They also offer items other than magnets, including coasters, posters, greeting cards, and calendars. The Instajunction team was kind enough to send me a discount for my readers! Use FRIENDS25DQ on any order before December 8th to get 25% off. I think these items would make great stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts! 

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Instajunction. All the opinions in this post are my own, and I did not receive compensation for this review.

November 7, 2013

Style Inspiration: Jessica Alba

Can we just take a moment to recognize the perfection here?

I love the Old Hollywood glam vibe with this outfit. I don't normally run around the city in a pink tulle midi skirt, but it looks dramatic and gorgeous on her. Add Brigitte Bardot hair, a structured bag, and delicate heels for extra sophistication. (By the way, everything she's wearing is Ralph Lauren)


November 6, 2013

On Being a (Terrible) Runner

I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I don't particularly enjoying feeling like I'm performing any activity at a less than excellent level. As a result, I've sometimes avoided activities that don't come naturally to me. This trait has certainly made me miss out on some amazing experiences.

I've made it a personal goal to do things at which I'm terrible. Running is one of these things. I am prone to injury, slow as molasses, and usually miserable every step of the way. That's exactly why I keep doing it.

Chasing perfection instead of progress only hurts you. I might never have the best mile time or become an ultra-marathoner, but I am okay with that. I do it because it's good for me - for both my cardiovascular health, and for my level of humility.  I don't just risk failure - I readily invite it into my life. While I still devote myself fully to projects, work, and reaching my goals, I think it's healthy to have a "Phoebe" moment every now and then:

This weekend, I will be volunteering with my sorority alumnae group at the Disabled American Veterans 5K. We will be pushing veterans in wheelchairs through the Honor Roll course, and I am so excited to participate in this event. It's such an amazing privilege to be able to use my body freely and push it to its limits. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to thank some individuals who gave up this privilege to protect our freedoms.

P.S. Online registration for the Cincinnati DAV 5K is closed, but you can still register on the day of the race! Details here. 

November 4, 2013

Holiday Shopping Spree Giveaway!

I am SO excited to reveal my latest collaboration! If you haven't already heard, Sweet Lemon Media is the fabulous culmination of Sweet Lemon Magazine, Sweet Lemon TV, and "freshly squeezed" daily news. I adore reading Sweet Lemon Magazine and I am so pleased that the SLM team selected me as one of the bloggers for this giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
It's so easy to enter the giveaway - just follow the steps in the Rafflecopter above. The giveaway will last for a week, starting today and ending on Sunday the 10th at midnight. The winner of the $500 Visa gift card will be announced on Monday, November 11!

I'm in such good company - check out the other lovely ladies participating in the giveaway:

 Buy me something pretty if you win?


November 1, 2013

Hello, November

 October is filled with apple picking and Halloween and about a million pictures of pretty leaves on Instagram. Of course, December has Christmas and New Years Eve and all the wonderful things that come with the holiday season. Nestled in between is November, with.....a holiday that basically becomes lost in the Christmas obsession. While I'm one of those (few?) people who doesn't mind seeing Christmas decorations in stores in October, there are some pretty great things about November itself.

1. No-Shave November

 I feel as if women everywhere decided to either love or hate No-Shave November (or Movember). While I understand not being attracted to the lumberjack look, the origins of the tradition are pretty great. Here's the concept, as described on the No Shave November website:

      "The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free.  Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle." 

I think we can all agree that we'd like our fathers, brothers, boyfriends, uncles, whoever to be around as long as possible. If they have to grow crazy mustaches to encourage them to prioritize their health, I say go for it.

2. Thanksgiving Episodes

Friends is my favorite television show, no contest. During college, I used to keep it on the background while I spent hours and hours studying for my biology or chemistry classes. Even now, it never fails to make me laugh.

3. Warm Drinks

'Tis the season for hot chocolate, bourbon apple cider, and whatever else warms you up on the chilliest fall days. I'm a fan of almond milk chai lattes lately.

4. Farm Sanctuary's Adopt a Turkey Program

 Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of family time and the emphasis on gratitude, not because I partake in the "traditional" meal. I'd rather spend my money on the awesome organization Farm Sanctuary, which rehabilitates and cares for farm animals. They invite the public to "adopt" one of the rescued turkeys at their sanctuary and give the turkeys their own celebration. I visited the New York shelter this year, and made friends with this guy (named Turpentine):

What's your favorite thing about November?


October 28, 2013

Links I Love: Moving Edition

I have a new apartment! 

With many, many moves in my recent past (thank you, college dorm/apartment life), I might actually stay in one place for a whole year. As much as I love coming home to a friendly face, I decided to get a little place of my very own. After numerous roommates (of varying levels of cleanliness and sanity), I think I'm ready.

Obviously, I am SO excited about decorating! One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to edit my belongings to just those that are either necessary or that I absolutely love. Luckily, my teeny little apartment makes completing this goal a necessity. In the midst of the packing, donating items to Goodwill, carrying lots of heavy stuff, and organizing, I found some greatness:

1. Society Social
I'm basically in love with every piece of furniture here, especially the gorgeous bar carts.

2. How to Survive a trip to Ikea
It's funny because it's true. Please, please read this before journeying into the seemingly endless depths of your local Ikea.

3. How to Throw a Cocktail Party in Under an Hour
This is important information. Also, can we just take a moment to celebrate the return of Domino magazine?

4. Trotter the Hipster French Bulldog's Guide to Dressing Up for Halloween
This cutie has better costumes than I ever will. Her Instagram account is my daily dose of adorableness.


October 23, 2013

Definitely Not America's Next Top Model

Today I had a lot of fun taking some headshots for an exciting project I've been invited to participate in - more information soon!

The weather didn't cooperate with rain and grey skies all day, but I thought I'd share a few shots with you anyway. I had cute outfits picked out, but opted for a cozy sweater instead. Cincinnati skipped fall this week and went straight to winter weather!

Aaaaand an outtake. It's really such a challenge for me to be serious during these activities. If Tyra ever told me to be fierce, this would be my exact reaction:


October 22, 2013

Wanderlust: Exploring Amsterdam

Initially, I wasn't terribly excited about visiting Amsterdam. After all, the two activities the city is notorious for are not exactly hobbies of mine.

As it turned out, I loved Amsterdam. It was so charming, vegan-friendly, and full of new adventures - like staying on a boat instead of a traditional hotel!

A large portion of the visit was spent simply wandering around the canals and taking in the quiet beauty of the boats and buildings. Discovering hidden gardens was always a bonus!

Another really fun (and sometimes scary) thing about Amsterdam was the abundance of bicycles. There are so many chained EVERYWHERE, and the cyclists are fearless.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam?


(Photo credit: Jeff Steller)

October 18, 2013

Easy DIY Monogram Tutorial (No Photoshop Required!)

Creating your own monogram on your computer can be useful for all kinds of projects. You can print your own stationery, use it to design business cards, or just make an iPhone wallpaper. Most tutorials require Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. These programs can give you great versatility because you can make the image as large as you want without losing integrity (making the product look all pixelated). If you don't have access to those programs, however, you can use plain old Microsoft Word!

Once you open Microsoft Word, use the "View" tab to make sure the Gridlines box is selected. This will help you get the perfect alignment.

Next, create a text box for each of your initials. Remember, monograms are displayed in the order of first initial, last initial, and middle initial.  Make sure your text boxes have no line (border) and no fill selected. You can do this by right clicking the text box border and going to "Format shape."

Here's an example with lines, and it's obviously not the look you want:

You can create a monogram in any font you like, but I downloaded the free font "Monogram KK" here. I made my first and middle name initials ("R" and "E") 100 pt and my last name initial ("M") 175 pt. You can play with the size ratio until you achieve the desired look.

 The image below is what you get once you format your font size and text boxes. The grid really helps check your letter alignment!

After you're happy with the alignment, you can play around with font colors. I used Word's Insert > Shapes tool to create a circle around my letters. The potential combinations for shape outline, shape fill, and font color are pretty much endless, so you're sure to find a look that is perfect for your project.

Finally, I inserted a photo of a Lilly Pulitzer print to create the background. (The alignment is a little off here due to imprecise cropping, but you get the idea!)

To save the final product, I just took a screenshot of the Word screen and cropped the extra space out using Paint.

If you create a cute project, tag me so I can see!