Everything

OBSESSION: Rent The Runway Unlimited

OBSESSION: Rent The Runway Unlimited

Cooler, more hip fashionistas jumped on this bandwagon many moons ago, but I am officially 6 months into my Rent The Runway Unlimited subscription and can definitely put it in the win column! I am the worst in that I hate to spend more than $40 to $50 dollars on a single item of clothing mainly because I will resist repeating the same thing in a short time span even if it was pricey. ENTER: my RTR Unlimited Subscription to save the day. 

How it works: You pay $179/month for access to four pieces from RTR at a time. They carry all items of clothing in all different degrees of formality – you can rent jeans, formal gowns, winter coats, tops, etc! They also have an amazing variety of jewelry and bags. You can keep each piece for as long as you would like, but you can’t order anything beyond the four pieces until you return at least one of them. Sometimes I return one piece and keep the others, and other times I return all four at once – it just depends! The items come in a dark blue fabric garment bag that has an already printed and paid for return shipping label. When you are ready to send something back, you place the item back into the garment bag, swap in the return label, and drop it off at a UPS shipping site. Once RTR has tracked the pick-up, one of your “slots” opens up and you can order something new. I believe shipping time varies depending on where you live, but for Baltimore the items arrive two days after you order. 

Added this to my shipment for a wedding in Charleston

Examples of How I Use It: 

I used Rent The Runway a few times before I started the Unlimited Plan for formal events because I sadly do not own very many formal dresses and the price tags on those are steep! It has been awesome to be able to order a few different options without the individual price point on a standard rental adding up! 

I also loved it for travel to warmer places during the winter! It was fun to add a few new options to pack for those trips and occasions! 

This dress was one of my fave rentals of all!

One of the biggest payoffs for me was in the form of winter jackets! When I am out showing multiple houses I get in and out of the car several times and am just briefly popping indoors, so I rarely take off my coat. I rented two different high end coats that I wore with a pair of pants and a big pair of earrings and my work wardrobe was complete! No one needed to know that I had on something boring underneath. I definitely received the most compliments and “where is that from?” in regards to the jackets! 

Brides-to-be: This is an awesome option for events that you want to wear something fancy and white to! I have so many white pieces that have been collecting dust after I wore them for that one shower/party. One of my BFFs who is getting married in May also uses RTR Unlimited and has loved it for her engagement season! 

Naturally, not everything that I order looks great on me AND I did have one item come without a belt that was supposed to be included, but that has accounted for probably 4/40 pieces. 

In conclusion, RTR Unlimited is a beautiful service that allows me to keep several high quality pieces in my closet at one time for a fraction of the price you would be paying for retail. Sign up! 

Holy SH*T – I have a toddler and I just found out I am pregnant with twins!

Holy SH*T – I have a toddler and I just found out I am pregnant with twins!

My normal response to overwhelming news is to take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine and regain perspective… BUT if *said* overwhelming news is that you are carrying more than one human in your uterus and you already have another (or more!) at home, grabbing the vino is not the safest option. SO, read on if you are looking to hear how one little ol’ mom in Baltimore managed the stress, anxiety and excitement of growing from a family of 3 to a family of 5 😉 

  1. ACCEPTANCE. This one might take a little, but the more you (or your significant other) remind yourself that no matter how shocked you feel or how strong the disbelief feels, that you ARE, INDEED, pregnant with more than one child, the better! It feels like a waste of time to allow yourself to be consumed by the “OH MY GOD what are we going to DO?!?!” stage for too long, when you could be jumping into action and moving on to step 2…
  • PREPARATION. If you have internalized the reality that you are having twins, CONGRATS!!! You are hopefully in a sweet spot where you are grateful for this blessing and you are ready to hit the ground running to get as many ducks in a row as possible before your new bundles make their way into your (already busy) world. We are equipped with the double-edged sword which is the internet. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and I truly read anything I can get my hands on about a topic that I am unfamiliar with, HOWEVER it is critical to keep in mind that just like anything in life, you can study/learn/explore but your real experience is always going to be a bit different and everyone handles things in their own way. 

Order This Book— I found a book that one of my mom’s best friends (who has teenage twin boys) sent me, When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Multiples, to be a nice, organized, understandable resource! I would read a chapter here and there or reference something specific when needed.

Listen to Your Doctor—Much like my first pregnancy, I listened to my doctor carefully at every appointment and remembered that she was the expert, not the woman in the airport who has a second-cousin who had twins 13 years ago and just KNOWS it can’t be safe for me to be carrying my toddler and wearing flip flops at this stage in the pregnancy. Thank u, next. 

Talk to Other Twin Parents— Whether they have another child or not, talking to other parents of multiples about their experiences allows you to create a portal of information in the back of your mind that you can reference as needed. For example, I learned a good amount about the NICU and tricks to making that experience a little less stressful, so while by the grace of god we avoided a NICU stay and I didn’t end up needing that information, I felt more prepared with a general idea of what that might look like for us. 

Buy Some Additional Gear— (I AM A STRONG PROPONENT OF AVOIDING PAYING FULL PRICE/BUYING BRAND NEW because if you thought things got ruined easily with one baby, double the odds with two!)

Table for TwoI have NO idea how moms of twins live without this thing. We are 13 months in, and we still use it every day. I heard and read a lot about it while I was pregnant, but the price point was steep and thought I would keep an eye out for a gently used one or skip it. I so wish I could go back in time and wisen-up to order it because it takes 3-4 weeks to get to you and you know that the first few weeks with infant(s) feel like an eternity (maybe that’s just me?!). We drink the “anything that makes our life significantly easier in the first few months is probably worth it” kool-aid HARD at our house, so if you are with me on that, order it NOW. It is SO nice to have a sturdy, portable way to feed both babies in a propped up position at once. All three of our kids would be much more likely to spit up if they weren’t propped up at that ~45 degree angle for feedings, and strapping them in the Table for Two kept them nice and secure in that ideal position. (***I know a lot of people like the Twin Z Pillow for a similar purpose, but I borrowed one from a best friend and felt like they were not propped up enough and they would sort of slide down into it as the feeding progressed because there wasn’t the structure between their legs to sort of sit on. That might be good for lounging, but two boppy pillows/loungers would do the same trick IMO.)

Double Stroller. You will not want to carry those bucket seats (as we call them) all around town, so its critical to have a nice, easy to use stroller to pop the babes into when you are on the move! Moms SWEAR by the Twin JoovyRoobut we already had the UppaBaby Vista for Nolan and I was way too in love with the extra-large storage capacity of the basket and in the habit of putting that feature to use, so not having that on the JoovyRoo deterred me from trying it out. For the first few months we would pop the infant seats into the stroller frame, which is a lifesaver when the babes were snoozing in the car and could stay asleep for the quick and easy transition to clicking into the stroller. We DO have the PiggyBack Ride Along board, but at this point in time, Nolan is not interested in getting on it. I still have hope for the future. Now that Max and Maeve are sitting in the Toddler Seat and Rumble Seat, we usually throw a carrier in the basket under the stroller, and if Nolan gets tired of walking, he takes over the Rumble Seat and once of us wears a baby.  (***We originally had the BabyJogger City Select Double Stroller when Nolan was a baby, and I felt like the ease of use was majorly lacking and I constantly struggled to fold/unfold it, so we sold it to another mom who wanted it and bought the UppaBaby Vista. Personal preference though because I know other moms who have it and love it! I also hear great things aboutNuna Demi Grow Double Stroller.)h

Ikea HighchairsWe had a traditional high chair for Nolan, and it was great and served its purpose for a long time! By the time the twins were ready to start sitting in highchairs for baby food, Nolan was over sitting in his high chair. A lot of my friends have the Ikea Highchair, and after seeing one in the flesh, I was drawn to the size, simplicity and look! We ordered two, put them together in a few minutes, and have not looked back. They are so lightweight and we can easily pick them up to take them outside or into another room. I definitely like them better than the one we had for Nolan. I also used these little inserts to help give M and M a little support when they were smaller and sitting in their chairs! 

Baby Bjorn Bouncers. See this postwhere I profess my love and adoration for this piece of gear.  

BabyBrezza. If you are using any amount of formula, this thing is invaluable. (See more in this post)For a GOOD stretch, you feel like you are a robot on a loop of making bottle, feeding bottle, washing bottle, repeat. The BabyBrezza makes one of those steps much quicker/easier/cleaner. ORDER IT. 

No filter in the world could cover those BLACK BAGS under my eyes!!!

Hire A “Night Nurse”—If you are anything like me, relinquishing control and trusting a “stranger” to take over your responsibilities does not come easy. I claimed I would want to do this once the twins arrived because I knew that the nights would be more sleepless with two babies to take care of and the following day would require more from us because we had a toddler, even when Nolan was at daycare. Once we got home and I morphed into a more tired, anxious, controlling version of myself, I felt less comfortable with the idea and just could not imagine myself being able to relax and sleep while the babies were in the house with someone unfamiliar. Thank GOODNESS my mom saw the circles under our eyes change from black-brown to jet black and came to the rescue by gifting us with three nights with a Newborn Care Specialist/Doula. Literally, best decision EVER. Read reviews and talk to references and if you can find someone as amazing as Miss Lisa was for us and our twins, your overall experience will improve exponentially! She came at 9 pm and immediately jumped in doing whatever was needed at the moment. Over the course of the night she handled feedings, baths, massages, manicures, pumping support, laundry, light house work, organizing the nursery all while keeping us in the loop of the babies every move/update through an app on our phone that we could check in on anytime we were curious! It was a game-changer because once we scheduled her for a night or two a week, the tough/sleepless nights were less daunting because we had a night of rest to live for on the calendar! If you are in Baltimore, you can find Miss Lisa and her “swaddlers” at www.laborlullabies.com

Remember, YOU GOT THIS! Ignore anything that anyone says that makes you feel even more stressed out than you already are. Unless they live in your house with you under your exact circumstances, your experience will not be the same as theirs. I like to remind myself that I am not the first person to parent a toddler and twins, and AmazonPrime sure as hell makes my life easier than the moms who came before me pre-Prime (HOW?!?!?!). 

OBSESSION: Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer

OBSESSION: Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer

Say HELLO to you new hair BFF! I thought that I was pretty late to the party on this one, but I went on a bachelorette party a few weeks ago with a big group of girls and a lot of them were still in the dark about the amazingness that is the Revlon Volumizer Hair Dryer. I have some of the thickest, curliest, wild hair out there (almost every hair stylist I’ve had tells me that my mane is second to none) and like many women, I want what I don’t have – straight, smooth, silky hair. I VERY rarely wear my hair naturally curly, mainly because of the uncertainty of the way it will dry and look, so as a result I spend a solid chunk of time blow drying and straightening and/or curling my hair. I am always tapping into the latest and greatest in hair products and accessories that will help me save time and make my hair look less like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket 😉 — the Volumizer fits the bill! 

If you already have natural volume like me, do not let the name scare you away! This tool can enhance the volume if you maneuver it under your hair starting at the root and moving out and down, but can also help flatten and smooth your hair if you use it more as a warm brush and stay on the top of your hair. I personally do a combo of the two – I do more a brushing motion to get the excess dampness out and get it more straight, and then I pull from under like you would with a round brush to give it the “blow dry bar” finish. I DO have to hit the roots with a flat iron after, but the end result is SO much smoother and polished than a typical blow dryer and brush. 

The silver lining of having my type of hair is that I don’t have to wash it very often – usually only twice a week. The Volumizer is now a key factor in helping me stretch time between shampoos – when I get ready I hit my roots with a little dry shampoo (Batiste is my personal favorite but I also have not tried some of the apparently splurge worthy nicer brands), let it soak in, and then use the Volumizer to brush it out and perk my hair up again!

I will also note that my girlfriends with finer, flatter hair LOVE this thing because it helps give them a volume boost and really looks like they got a professional blow out if they take their time and do it in layers and sections. I ordered mine on Amazon, but I have seen it at Target and I am sure a million other places have it as well. ENJOY! Cheers!

Charleston Girls Trip 2019

Charleston Girls Trip 2019

 

 

 

Charleston is my f a v o r i t e place on Earth, so when one of my best friends/Balcerzak Group teammates, Ange, invited me to join her on a three day trip she bid on and won at a charity event a few months back, the answer was WHEN DO WE LEAVE?! We booked our flights (Southwest has nonstop 1 hour 15 minute flight from Baltimore to Charleston – the best) and made arrangements at the hotel she won, the HarbourView Inn, and the countdown was on! This would be Ange’s first time in the Holy City, so the pressure was on to hit all the hot spots and show her a great time. People who know I went to College of Charleston and make it back a few times a year usually ask me for recommendations on what to do, where to eat and things to see while visiting. I have a few variations of suggestions saved in my Starred email folder that I modify depending on my audience (bachelor/bachelorette party, beach trip, family trip, romantic getaway, etc etc etc). To me, the hardest part is squeezing it all into one weekend! So much to do, so little time 😉 I am happy to send you more details and recs, but today I will give you the play by play of this most recent trip and reviews on our experiences. 

 

MONDAY, March 25, 2019

 

10:30 am: Arrive in Charleston and allow humid, salty air to hit you in the face as you exit the recently renovated airport. Grab Uber and head downtown to drop bags at hotel.

 

11:00 am: Arrive at HarbourView InnCheck in was not until 4 pm, but we decided to drop our bags at the front desk and change into bathing suits and head to the beach to soak up the sunny 75 degree weather. There are NOT enough good things I can say about our experience from beginning to end at the HarbourView Inn. They were so accommodating and welcoming and they offer so many “extras” that take your stay to the next level. My favorites were the cold brew coffee in the lobby, complimentary breakfast each morning from Saffron delivered to your room, the atrium or the rooftop terrace, a daily wine and cheese – this was actually an open bar with a bartender and not just wine—nightly from 5-6 pm, and complimentary bikes to use at your leisure. We also were greated with a gift card to Halls Chophouse, two Aquarium passes, and a voucher for a historic carriage ride. Halls was already on the “must do” list, so having some extra money to cushion a splurge went a long way! 

 

11:45 am: Arrive at The Co-Op on Sullivans Islandto have lunch and then grab a few drinks and snacks for the beach. There are a few different beaches in Charleston (Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Sullivans Island) and it will depend on who you ask as to which beach is the best, but I spent the most time on Sullivans in college and love the restaurant/bar selection there the most! 

The Co-Op is adorable and offers a perfect selection for a filling but light feeling lunch before a day in the sun. They also have the MOST INCREDIBLE Frose that you can imagine that they pour into plastic juice bottles with lids for you to take to go. You can’t understand the magic until you try it for yourself, but this was another must have during our trip. We split sandwiches and grabbed our Frose and snacks and headed to the beach.

 

 

12:30 pm: Sit on the beach, listen to good music, soak up the sun (some a little more than others… cough cough, Ange got fried!!!…) and observe college kids which leads you to realize that you knew you had it good going to college here but wonder if you realized HOW good you had it at the time?!

4:00 pm: Uber back downtown to hotel to get ready for dinner – bottle of champagne on ice and two glasses waiting for us in the hotel room?! Yes please!

 

6:30 pm: Dinner at Little Jacks.  I was thrilled that two of my sorority sisters (including my little #diamondsis #ADPiforever) were able to meet us and suggest one of their favorite spots. I hadn’t heard of it and I am admittedly not a huge burger person, but I knew they wouldn’t lead us astray and I am SO happy I listened as Little Jacks did NOT disappoint. Probably the best burger I have ever had in my life + Baked Egg and Crudites and Dip as apps. The locals will tell you that Little Jacks just changed their menu and you used to order The Tavern Burger on its own and add fries or whatever you wanted as a side. The suggested order was to get two of The Tavern Burgers instead of The Double Tavern Burger because you want to “maintain the ratio of the original” BUT now they have packaged the burger and fries together, so my local sorority sistas essentially went head to head on ordering advice and my takeaway is you can’t go wrong – its all incredible.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

8:30 am: Breakfast is served on the HVI Rooftop Terrace. See picture for the deliciousness that was all of the carbs and salt we could find.

10:00 am: Tour de Charleston on beach cruisers. Who knew riding a bike would require so much effort and coordination?! We laughed, people certainly laughed at us, and we cruised into Miller Gallery one of my fave places ever owned by one of my fave people, Waterfront Park, The Battery and more.

12:00 pm: Lunch at Mellow Mushroom. I know it’s a chain, but we don’t have one in Baltimore and the Esperanza dressing speaks to me.

1:00 pm: Shop til you drop because you will find every store/boutique imaginable in the city of Charleston.

4:00 pm: Back to HVI for quick shower and a nap with zero threat of being woken up by a crying child #treat.

6:15 pm: Halls Chophouse for drinks and dinner. Halls is such a solid choice across the board – service, drinks, food, atmosphere, location… the list goes on. We had delicious dirty martinis, red wine, and I tried my first ever bison filet with mushroom garlic risotto. DROOL. AND naturally we polished off the bread pudding before we practically rolled ourselves out of there.

9:00 pm: Charleston Beer Works – another favorite spot. Grabbed one last drink before calling it a night

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

8:30 am: Breakfast in bed – Saffron deliciousness round two.

10:00 am: Shopping in the Market. The Market is definitely a landmark/tourist attraction of Charleston. According to the website, “The Charleston City Market’s three open air structures, called sheds, have stood witness to history for more than two centuries. These unique sheds have survived fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and cannonball bombardments during the Civil War. Today, the Charleston City Market is a place of enterprise with hundreds of entrepreneurs operating small businesses at the bustling venue, which is Charleston’s most visited public attraction.

The eclectic, revolving, and evolving wares found at the Charleston City Market create a fun and exciting shopping atmosphere that keeps both visitors and natives returning to peruse the new items every few months or so.

From sweetgrass baskets to bags of stone ground grits—and thousands of products in between, the Charleston City Market buzzes with people perusing stalls filled with inconic, rare, and unexpected products.”

We grabbed some cute souvenirs and a few other fun items before heading back to the hotel to grab our bags and head back to the airport.

12:30 pm: Farewell Old Faithful. It was SO fun being back (per usual) and seeing the city through a newcomer’s eyes! BE BACK SOON!

 

 

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