The Smart New Guide To Online Dating

Hello Lovely,

January is usually known for a hug surge in two places: the gym and online dating. But why? During this time most people write out plans for the year that normally include creating a regimen to reach a specific fitness goal. Also, during this time you're usually guaranteed a discounted price, the sign-up fee waived, or a few free gym accessories as a sign-on perk. According to Match.com, online dating sites are at their busiest between Dec. 26 and Feb. 14. Match reports 50 million messages sent and 1 million dates occurring during this time, which is referred to as peak dating season. It’s probably because the weather makes us crave a cuddle buddy, but there’s nothing like the holidays to make us feel lonely. So what do we do? The millennial approach to dating is definitely online dating; bars are intimidating and no one has time to wait three days to two weeks for processing time to get a call/text back.

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new dating app. From Bumble to Coffee Meets Bagel and from Hinge to Happn, there are a lot of options out there and it can be a little overwhelming! Don’t worry, as an online dating veteran, I’ve got some expert tips for you so can avoid making some of the same mistakes I did and meet your forever person!

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  1. Choose the right app

Once you know exactly what you want, you have to choose the right dating platform. There are 10 major sites and apps to choose from, so let’s quickly break them down. Tinder might be the best known of all the dating apps out there, but just remember it does have a reputation for being a hookup site, so if you’re looking for a serious connection, this may not be it. I’ve never heard of Hinge before but it’s an interesting concept: Hinge uses mutual Facebook friends to curate matches. The app also uses a scrolling feature, which allows you to interact with multiple parts of a profile, rather than swiping left and right, so no more missed connections! The League is super exclusive and ever I couldn’t get in. After you submit your LinkedIn profile, the apps takes about a week to approve you as a new member, giving you access to 1-6 carefully curated and verified matches a day (height included!) Be careful though, if you aren’t active, the app will kick you out.

Raya bills itself as an app for creative types, from DJs to restaurateurs to NBA players.  To apply, be ready to show a large Instagram following—the rest is up to a “secret committee.” For those looking for a more specific type of connection, JSwipe offers a range of options, from “orthodox” to “just Jewish.”  Bumble asks women to send the first text. Don’t worry if you accidentally swipe past your soul mate—the app offers three free “backtracks” every three hours. I tried coffee meets bagel and I honestly uninstalled it the same day so trust me, skip this one. you to match with people you’ve passed in real life. If they have an account, you can send a like…which they’ll only see if they like you back! Foolproof and a little stalkerish…

Then there’s my personal favourite: OkCupid. I met my ex on it, and since then I’ve had A LOT of interesting conversations. Some I’ve written off the person immediately because there’s no way they could’ve thought we were compatible. Like match.com, after answering a TON of question (and I do mean a TON - but seriously don’t skip them they’re important) you’ll know just how compatible you and a potential match would be based on the percentage of personality traits you share. The app just released an update that shows which specific interests you overlap on, so if certain qualities are more important to you than others, you’ll be able to sort through matches much more easily. OkCupid’s software is literally a free version of Match.com. Sure there are some limits that you’ll have to pay to unlock, but there’s still a lot you can do with it.

2. Perfect Your Profile

Trust me, people actually read your profile! This is where you tell someone why they should get to know you; why they should swipe right. You want to make sure that you get across what’s important to you, and show some personality, too. Include a joke or a cheeky pun, if that’s up your alley. I struck up a conversation with a guy who said he wants a girl who can cook him grits and that was one of the best things I could’ve done! (We still talk)! You also want to give the viewer something to start a conversation about, so make sure that your profile says something that they can engage with. The most important thing is to make it personal, so whatever you feel good about is the right way to go.

As important as what you write is the profile picture. When you pick a profile picture, PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE OTHER PEOPLE! I have looked at pictures and wondered which one is the guy, and the worst ones are them with other girls. Is it your sister? Best friend? Ex-girlfriend? Current girlfriend? Either way it tells me that you’re unavailable so I swipe left quickly.

3. Be Patient & Open Minded

It’s hard to really tell what someone is like based on a few photos. Get to know people, chat it up, and be open-minded. If you’re only into tall, dark and handsome but you end up having great conversation with a blondie who’s on the shorter side, give it a chance. Also, age is just a number (to an extent). We’re not telling you to run out and date someone 30 years older than you, but remember that older usually means wiser (and more dating and life experience), so don’t be afraid to date outside of your own age range.

Also you may be on a site or app for weeks or months without making a genuine connection. Don’t quit! OkCupid found new guys for me every day! A lot of them never messaged me back, but that could be for a number of reasons. Remember, some people may no longer use the site because they lost interest or met someone and just didn’t deactivate their account. So don’t take it personal if the responses are a little slow.

Above all else, remember to always be yourself. Don’t be someone you think will attract the “perfect person” and you can’t maintain the facade. Don’t be afraid to set your standards and don’t settle. Whether you’re looking to casually date or find your lifelong partner, remember to put your best foot forward.

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What are your favourite dating apps? Do you have any online dating tips that you didn’t see on this list?

Share your recommendations in the comments!

Last Week I Reached My Breaking Point + What I Plan To Do About It

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Hello Lovely,

It’s not easy to say this, especially when I haven’t even spoken to my family about this. Before I can get into that, first I have to give you guys a little back story into what’s been happening lately. As with many families, there’s going to come a time when you don’t agree or even argue about things. No family is perfect, and over time family dynamics are bound to change. For years my family has consisted of my mum dad and brother, but I never got along with my brother; NEVER. It’s the most antagonising tit-for-tat relationship that is simply not healthy. Then my parents got divorced and I got a step dad. I wasn’t thrilled about this change (I’m not thrilled about any change) but it did bring something new: I now had pets. My step dad paid for me to adopt two cats. I still remember the day I picked them out at The Bahamas Humane Society. Their names are Ichigo and Rukia and they would go on to become very important members of my family.

For 11 years, I took care of them. Even when their fur began to irritate my eyes, I took Zyrtec and pushed through. They weren’t always the best behaved, but most house pets cause some level of trouble. But my mother desperately wanted to get rid of them. So when they thought my niece was allergic to the cats, I had no say in the fact that they had to go. The only thing I controlled was which home they went to. I was lucky enough to place them in a loving home. The week I spent searching for a home was rough. I cried at my desk on Monday and moped around the whole week. Luckily by Thursday, I found someone who wanted them. But after giving them up, I honestly broke down in the snottiest bought of crying. She had to console me, and I almost considered putting them back in my car and going back home.

This experience made me realise one very important thing: I need to move out. There have been many reasons I stayed in my mother’s house for so many years, but now my reasons to leave are beginning to outnumber the reasons to stay. Outside of the dynamics surrounding why I had to give up my cats, I knew this wouldn’t happen if I had my own place. I also genuinely need the space to create without having my materials and tools tossed around the house, constantly in someone’s way. I don’t plan on moving out before March because I plan on travelling next month, but I am hoping that by the summer or shortly afterwards, I can be in a place of my own. I have no idea how to live on my own or how to pay rent but I definitely need to learn wouldn’t you agree?

I Had An Anxiety Attack in A Beauty Supply Store

Hello Lovely,

I want to start this post by acknowledging that admitting this could be misinterpreted and may even be damaging to my career. But I honestly found so much therapeutic power in documenting this breakdown. You should know that for over ten years I have struggled with generalized anxiety disorder. But this past Tuesday was just embarrassing. For the past month, I haven't been able to decide what to do with my hair and it's been starting to stress me out. You may have seen various photos of me in different wigs. While wigs can be so fun, what they really are sometimes is a sign that I have no idea what to do with my hair. But a part of my hair care regimen dictates regular hair treatments and I was overdue.

Feeling pressured I told my hair stylist to pick a style and went with the first thing she suggested, crochet. I've never had crochet braids before but I figured it shouldn't be too bad. Problem is, I couldn't decide what type of crochet hair I wanted, and I honestly don’t know much about weave. Eventually I decided I wanted a "Afro twist out" look. So I drove around for two days, going to five different stores. In the last store I picked up 5 packs. At the thought that it would cost me $50 I started to second guess if it was worth it. I held the hair up to my face, but I just couldn’t picture it. All I saw were faux locs, box braids or Havana or Sengalese twist (none of which I wanted). Without much options, I began to feel trapped, which led to, you guessed it, an anxiety attack.

I immediately called one of my best friends, crying in a beauty supply store wanting to just curl in a ball on the floor and hope no one saw me. My chest hurt and I became angry with myself for being so indecisive. I dropped my first choice and considered leaving the store and returning with someone else to help me make up my mind. I called my hairstylist to ask her a million questions about the cheaper Havana twists before deciding, it would work. I waited to cash out, breathing deeply as I hoped no one would notice that I had been crying. But when I got home and told my mum what happened, I started crying all over again. My chest got tight all over again and I just wanted the floor to swallow me. I couldn't make a simple decision and I felt stupid for it. It took me talking to two different people, crying, eating a cupcake, sipping red wine hot chocolate and writing an entire thread just to calm down. Worst I feel like I failed myself for not being more in control.

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I SHARE THESE STORIES + PERSONAL BITS BECAUSE I KNOW HOW HELPFUL IT CAN BE.

If I were a reader and were going through something like this, I know it would help to read that someone else had gone through it too and reading their words would help me to feel a little bit better and to know that I wasn’t going through it alone. I share the less shiny, unfiltered moments of my life with you here because I think it’s important to be real with you and talk about the lows just as much as the highs.

Anxiety is not easy because I never know when something will trigger it. Someways it's big things, some days it's little things like me thinking a little too long about what someone said to me. Yet I'm super calm in most crisis situations and never overreact at work.

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SO WHAT NOW?

I got my hair done last night. My hairstylist was super encouraging during the process and I felt the weight lifted off me as she worked. Anxiety is something I deal with everyday. Luckily I know most of my triggers and I’m able to stay away from there, but it’s really hard when things you couldn’t plan for happen. I continue to reach out to various support groups and write in my self-care journal, which is so much fun to use!

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If this post helped you or spoke to you in anyway, please feel free to drop a word of encouragement in the comment section below. If you need advice for dealing with your own anxiety, feel free to fill out the form above and I’ll be touch.

I Spent a Week Indulging in Self Care—Here’s What I Did

Hello lovely,

I love being busy. I usually tell people I thrive on busyness. I do my best work when there’s a little pressure on me to get everything done, and I’ve always been the person who puts a lot on her plate.

But lately, my balance has been off and I probably bit off more than I could chew. I knew something was wrong two weeks ago, when I found myself getting annoyed at every little thing. I even exploded on my boyfriend (more than once).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I love my blog and I love having a full agenda. But… I’m exhausted and could use some much needed time away from the stress. So, I embarked on a week full of stress relief, self-reflection, and serious me-time.

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SUNDAY - FRIENDSGIVING

I began my week with a friendsgiving dinner by my best friend Richard’s house. It’s our second year doing this, and even with the usual delays we had a blast. It was great catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in over a month. Our group of friends love and fight like family, but the best part about this family is that I chose these people, so I’m happiest when I’m around them!

MONDAY - THE SIMS 4 AND QUALITY TIME

I’m really loving the new Sims 4 expansion pack: Get Famous. It’s probably the best expansion pack we’ve had since University Life in Sims 2. So I feel really relaxed and happy, when I can zone out for an hour or two and just enjoy it. I also got to spend some much needed quality time with my boyfriend. I finally got to watch the Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj and everyone needs to watch that show!

TUESDAY - TIANA AND A NAP

On Tuesday Tiana surprised me at work. It’s always great to see my bestie, and Tuesday was a really slow day for me mentally so it was a much needed break. We walked around the campus, talking to students and teachers as we passed them. It was a much needed distraction. When I went home, I took a nap without setting an alarm. I felt really refreshed after that nap and was still able to get much needed work done.

WEDNESDAY - HALF=EARLY WORKOUT

Working in a school comes with it’s perks, like half days. We had an early dismissal on Wednesday because the high school’s Carol Service was that evening. So with this extra time, I was really excited to squeeze in an early workout. No one was on the park (not even my trainer who got there when I finished my last set of squats). It was so peaceful and exactly what I needed.

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THURSDAY - NAILS AND A PARTY

I normally get my nails done every two weeks, but my last nail design lasted three weeks. This time I was super excited to get a winter design because I’m counting down the days to Christmas! I ended the day at the Elevation Awards Nominee Announcement Party where I was nominated for Blog of The Year for a 2nd consecutive year. I’m really feeling confident this year as a contender!

FRIDAY - A NAP AND GAME NIGHT

Friday was particularly stressful. The day before, the principal of another school on the island died of a heart attack and was found slumped over his desk. This was probably the biggest eyeopener because today everything continued as normal. I’ve always read memes about not killing yourself for a job that will replace you when you die, but this was real. All of the guidance counsellors at my school vowed to never take our job home with us and enjoy time with family this weekend. At work, I’m one of the people responsible for our school’s Christmas play and child actors are probably the worst. If that wasn’t enough, before leaving there was drama that had to be investigated only to find out none of it was true. After work I was pretty exhausted. I wanted to get sushi but that didn’t work out because I totally fell asleep. While I was sad about the sushi, I have to admit, that nap left me feeling really rejuvenated. I ended the night playing the Sims again and all was right with the world.

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SATURDAY - VOLUNTEER WORK, CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AND CHRISTMAS MOVIES

This was probably the best day out of the week, although the way it started, it didn’t look like it would end well. I stopped for gas on my way to a community service event and ended up in a fender bender at the pump. Luckily it wasn’t severe. After the community service event, my mum and I ran some errands. We went looking for ornaments and found six that we really liked, but the options here really aren’t diverse enough. After checking out two lots we settled on THE tree for $125. My beau lifted the tree like it weighed nothing and got it in the stand for us like a pro. We watched a Lifetime Christmas movie together (A Very Nutty Christmas) and then I watched a A Twist of Christmas by myself. It was such a relaxing end to what could’ve been a stressful day and the perfect end to a week of self-care.

My week of self-care is officially over as I write this, and I’ve never felt so at ease and ready for the next week to begin. I feel an overall sense of calm, through mind and body. I also feel more confident in myself. I have a deeper sense of self-awareness, and my beau and I are communicating better than ever now that I’m coping better with stress as it arises.

If there’s anything this week taught me, it’s that self-care is the most critical thing anyone can do for themselves. Each act will look different for everyone but it has to be done intentionally. Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to take a week of self-care. You don’t have to start on Sunday, just indulge in self-care activities for 7 days. Pay attention to what makes you happy and what stress you out. Adjust and make time for yourself.

I've Been Nominated for Blog of the Year Again!

Hello lovely,

After six years of blogging (while getting a Master's degree and working a full time job), working several fashion shows, reviewing international products and services, photo shoots, partnerships, and two blue ribbon awards for original recipes, I've been nominated for the second consecutive year for the Elevation Awards Blog of the Year!

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It's been an amazing journey and I never get tired of it. I share this honour with last year's winner, Ianthia Ferguson, Rogan Smith- This Bahamian Gyal, Nik Barnes- Stylezine Magazine, Gail Hanna- Hard Work, Bad Employee and Renaldo Dorsett- 10th year services like senior.

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The night was hosted on LiveUp TV by the incomparable Rabs and Jerchovia with DJ Epic Forealz. The opening act was a hot new single called That's Why I'm Single by Leo. Then two nominee categories were revealed. The night had many hilarious moments including a new hashtag #LittyToTitty.

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Sacha the Duchess brought the house down with an emotional performance of her second single, Waiting to Exhale before sharing the epic music video for her first single, Mr. Lover. Then we had a performance from the dynamic duo of Johnny B and Eman.

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My high school scholar, Stephan Brown premiered his brand new app, Cameo Tunes. The app combines filters that highlight many aspects of Bahamian culture with Bahamian music hits from fan favourites like Wendi, Jonathan Farrington and Bodine. The app debuts on Android and iOS next Friday!

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I loved Kenique Marie's performance and I can't wait to hear more music from her!Of course I had a fan girl moment when Patrice Murrell took the stage to perform Feeling Good. From I first saw her perform I couldn't believe such a powerful voice came from such a tiny person and I honestly admire her and try to follow her music career.

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Sanjardo B closed out the show with a performance of his hit single, Hola. Last night was amazing. I finally got to meet Patrice Murrell, the room was full of positive energy and I'm nominated AGAIN! This year there are even more categories so there will be even more winners!

For a complete list of all nominees, check out the list below:

2019 Elevation Awards Nominees

I Bought a Mattress Online and Here's What Happened

Hello lovely,

There are a lot of major milestones in adulthood: completing college, buying your own car, starting your dream job, and oddly enough, buying furniture. Let me tell you guys how serious this was for me. I have had the SAME mattress since coming out of the crib. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s not that I didn’t I never thought to change it. I honestly never had the opportunity. For a long time I lived in Florida and even when I came back, I wasn’t trying to invest in anything, because I was always looking for my next escape. But I’ve been home for 6 years now and I just started another 2 year contract as a school counsellor, so I figured I might as well get comfortable. Last year I got a new bed (do you know how embarrassing it is to bring a guy back to a four poster bed in your mum’s house at nearly 30). So last month I began my search for a new mattress.

I went to two local furniture stores whose prices ranged from $400-$800 for twin mattresses. I called another and twin mattresses went up to $1000! I was ready to give up hope until leaving one of the stores and trying one more mattress. It was the perfect fit. I felt like Goldilocks (minus the white privilege). When the salesperson told me the price, I nearly leapt through the wall. I did not have $800 to spend on a mattress. I felt defeated. On a whim, I decided to check online.

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Enter the Zinus mattress:  one of the most popular memory foam options on Amazon (very reasonable price, lots of good reviews) so I was excited to try it for myself. .Like a lot of people, I wanted to get a memory foam mattress but I’m on a tight budget. The mattress layers include: 2 inches Memory Foam, 2 inches Pressure Relieving Comfort Foam, and 4 inches High-density Base Support Foam. Now priced at $119, I paid $149. I couldn’t believe a mattress could cost so little. Even with the fees associated with importing a mattress (100% in customs fees plus VAT) I still saved money by buying a mattress online. But was it worth it?

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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Mattress Online

  • Before buying, make sure you’ll have all the necessary items like a proper bed frame and sheets that fit. I knew that I needed an 8 inch mattress because that’s what my last one was and I was not about to buy new sheets.

  • You can’t try before you buy with many online mattresses so pay attention to the reviews. Some allow free returns so find that out before you buy.

  • Many memory foam, hybrid, or latex mattresses arrive compressed and vacuum-sealed in a box. As a result, the mattress may take a few days to fully expand to its full shape and be comfortable to sleep on. Also, keeping the mattress sealed for longer than it should be can permanently destroy the foam’s contouring abilities. I didn’t know it’s supposed to be opened within 72 hours. When we have to wait for third party couriers to bring our stuff on the island, it could take a week to receive it after the initial delivery. I had to sleep with my mum the night we opened my mattress to allow it to fully expand.

  • Zinus first started in 2004 in Seoul and now operates bi coastal US distribution centres.

  • Try to avoid using a knife when opening the box because you don’t want to puncture the mattress.

MY EXPERIENCE

  • The box isn’t very heavy because the mattress is vacuum-sealed.

  • Getting the mattress out of the box is the easy part.

  • Taking the mattress out of the bag so that you can unfold it is the hard part. We tried rolling it down and it would not budge, so eventually we carefully ran down the seam of the bag with a scissors until the mattress sprang free.

  • I loved the cards that came tucked into the mattress. The personal touch was so simple but so thoughtful.

  • Once you take the plastic off, the mattress will immediately begin to inflate. IMMEDIATELY! You may think it’s ready within a few minutes but let it rest overnight.

  • My mattress is SUPER plump (more than I expected) but after a week, there’s an indentation in the middle of the bed where I sleep in the same position every night.

  • The edge of the mattress is the softest. It’s taken my back a few days to adjust to the new mattress as some days I would wake up feeling a little sore, but it’s getting better each night.

Overall, I’m glad I bought my mattress online. I saved over $400 on my memory foam mattress and sleeping on it has been really nice. It’s not that much of a hassle to set up so this purchase was totally worth it! If you want to get your own, you can check it out at the link below and read more reviews for yourself.

A White Woman Called The Police On Me

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Hello Lovely,

This past weekend I went to Miami for a girl’s trip. I wanted to take a few photos for my Instagram, so we went out really early Sunday morning. When my friend Tiana snapped this pic of me, I was outside of a home decor store in The Shops at Pembroke Gardens. Thinking it's a Sunday and I'm not bothering anyone I looked at the items through the window. When I turned around, I noticed a white woman in her car on the phone looking at me. I figured that she was the store owner or at least a manager. Not thinking anything of it, I kept walking and we kept taking pictures. We went for a cup of coffee then came back to the strip. When we were about to leave all of a sudden the police was there asking if she was okay. I was trying to ignore them because I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but when the police officer saw us with my camera, I couldn't help but notice that he rolled his eyes in annoyance like he was saying, "Seriously this is what you called me for?" Thankfully the officer never approached us and we were free to go.

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Sadly, this experience isn’t anything new. I've encountered racism before and I've seen the news stories about white women calling the police on innocent black people. I even got sick of it and refused to give them any publicity. But at some point, there needs to be consequences for these actions. Elizabeth "Duffy" Johnson, Permit Patty, BBQ Becky, Golfcart Gail, the Georgia woman, and Cornerstone Caroline, these women shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind their despicable cowardly actions. Even if I waned to buy any of her overpriced, moderate designed items, I wouldn’t after that kind of treatment.

Many years ago, my father was surrounded by police officers and sheriffs when he went to the bank with some friends because people thought it was strange that 5 black men in a van would go to the bank in Ft. Lauderdale. It's disturbing to have the police called on you for simply taking pictures in a public space while being black. In America, I’m more than aware of how quickly these situations can escalate and go wrong. I wanted so badly to approach her about the it but I was going to church afterwards (Church By The Glades) and just wanted to be at peace. Living While Black is a serious problem and most encounters don’t end well.

I pray for everyone still struggling with racism, hatred or intolerance of any kind in their heart. There is no place for people like you in this world. ✌🏾

October: What I'm Doing This Month

Hello Lovely,

I’m so excited that it’s October! There are so many things happening this month, I feel like I’m going to burst! On Monday I was in an extra good mood, which isn’t normal for a Monday, but the first of October signals many things: It’s officially Fall, so no one can hate on me for consuming every Pumpkin Spice; we have and holiday and mid-term break this month and we’re almost to Halloween, which really means, IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!! I love Christmas. Holiday seasons are the best not only for the time off from work, but the decorations and recipes get me so energized that I’m trying something new practically every day!

This weekend is going to be filled with fun! My niece will be turning one tomorrow! I’ve grown to love her so much this past year. Even though she often bites me, pulls my hair and tries to fight me, she always so full of energy, with the most infectious laugh, I can’t help but love her. She’s standing on her own and grabbing everything in sight. She walks if you hold her hand, but she practically tries to run. She crawls everywhere and is obsessed with sneaking into the kitchen. I even started her own email address and occasionally send photos and videos of her with personal letters that I hope she’ll look at someday. Her parents are having a birthday party at Outback for her. That same day I’ll be attending Shakespeare in Paradise with two of my best friends. I’ve been curious about this show for quite some time, so I’m really interested in seeing how the cast interprets the play. We’ll be watching Short Tales: Ten short works by new writers, directed by new directors. A pair of women plot to seduce a faithful husband. A maintenance court case takes a surprising turn. A radio DJ gives his boss a lesson in community spirit. In keeping with its mission of developing new talent, Shakespeare in Paradise presents ten short plays by ten writers.

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I was originally supposed to spend mid-term break in Houston with a friend, but the airfare wasn’t reasonable for such a short amount of time so I decided on Miami instead. Miami isn’t in any way a better option that Houston (a city I’m still exploring) but this trip is going to be much better. Not only am I meeting my best friend’s baby and catching up with friends I haven’t seen since last October, but my best friend Tiana is coming along making this a girl’s trip! I’ve wanted to have a girl’s trip for three years now, but I could never find a time that worked for everyone. Now that Tiana and I are both teachers in the same organisation (different schools) this is the perfect getaway! Between the shopping, IHOP, shopping, partying, pumpkin patches, eating (and did I mention shopping) this is the break we BOTH need.

There’s so much to do! Monday is a holiday and I could totally use that extra day! I’m planning on hosting my friends over on that day. I’ve stocked up on chips and not much else, so I think I’m ready.

What are you looking forward to doing this month? Any big plans? Share what you’re up to in the comment section below!

The Odd Thing I Started Collecting

Hello Lovely,

There's something about starting a collection that feels nostalgic. When I was young, I collected every Babysitter’s Club book I could find (hoping it would make me millions some day - and the books were just awesome). I even have 3 Barbie dolls in my collection (but still don’t have the one I REALLY want). But that’s not the collection I’m most excited about. As if Babysitter’s Club and Barbie Dolls aren’t odd enough, I have a major obsession with something and it was actually Lauren Conrad who inspired this obsession.

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In this excerpt from Lauren Conrad’s book Celebrate, she explains what she collects: “…my home office is overflowing with an admittedly ridiculous number of gorgeous, patinated brass pieces covering just about every inch of the room. That’s not an exaggeration; I have roughly three hundred brass candlesticks and vases, and I’m always looking for an excuse to use them. But trust me, I have a very good reason as to why I have curated this seemingly absurd exhibit. During the year leading up to William’s and my wedding, I began obsessively scouring eBay, flea markets, and antique shops for vintage brass for our reception tablescapes . . . and I promised him that the collection that was rapidly taking over our home was a thoughtful investment that I would use for years to come. Let’s just say that these days, it’s hard to come to a gathering at our house without spotting some brass. If you’re a habitual party thrower, I strongly encourage you to invest in some key items; it will end up saving you a good amount of money in the long run. It will also make you very popular when your friends are throwing parties of their own.”

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So what do I collect? I became obsessed with collecting glassware and white ceramic dishes. Every time I travel I look for a piece to bring back with me. I have glass bottles from Amsterdam and Switzerland, and can you believe this isn’t all of it? I love going through the home section of TJ Maxx (it’s literally the only section I shop in). I collect cool shaped wine bottles and I only recently replaced my lost rectangular ceramic plate (still haven’t even used it).

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Why do I collect these things? I genuinely admire food photography and became passionate about it, about two years ago. So I’m constantly expanding my collection to have various props, tablescape decorating tools and nice things to serve it in for my recipes. I probably only have just over 40 pieces, but my mother is still ready to put me out over it.

QUICK TIPS ON HOW TO START YOUR OWN COLLECTION - CUPCAKES & CASHMERE

1. If possible, collect something you can use. I love the French vases, because they're something I can display, then pull down to fill with flowers. Collections become sad when they gather dust on a shelf—or in a box.

2. Collect timeless things. Collections can take years to amass, so they should stand the test of time. Rather than collecting something of-the-moment, consider classic items that will be just as cool in five or fifty years.

3. Be mindful of kitschy-ness. The line between kitschy and cool is particularly thin when it comes to collections—a set of ceramic containers can be cool. A set of chicken-shaped ceramic containers? Not so cool. That being said, the beauty of collections is that you're free to collect what you love! If chickens are your thing, go for it.

4. Don't become too attached to your collection. At the end of the day, they're just objects. Be careful not to cross the line from collecting to hoarding.  If you come to a point when your collection is causing you more grievances than joy, either consider editing it down, or find someone to gift it or sell it to.

I'd love to hear: Did you have a collection as a kid? Anything now you could see yourself collecting now? How do you decide what’s worth collecting? Is it sentimental, for profit or do you have a hoarding problem like me? Share your collections in the comment section below!

Why I'm Afraid To Get Too Personal On My Blog

Hello Lovely,

In an age of oversharing, it's easy to become that person who snaps a photo of every single meal, document every part of your vacation and broadcast relationship troubles. We're encouraged to be open and speak our minds. We've learning keeping secrets can be dangerous and we've reframed many hurtful labels. All of which I'm sure has been to help society become more open-minded, uninhibited and explorative creatures. But is there a price to being so open? What are the real risks? I originally started this blog as something to do while I looked for work, but over time it's become very therapeutic for me; giving me a reason to get up, get out and try new things. And when the feedback started coming in, the positivity encouraged me to do more, share more. But lately, I haven't wanted to share as much. It wasn't until I started reading, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis that I realised how much I was really holding back and how superficial a lot of my content had become. If you want to check out the book for yourself, it's available on Amazon - I totally recommend it.

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What are my insecurities? This isn't one of those posts where I can simply list the reasons. A lot of my reasons are intertwined. When I really think about what stops me from getting too personal it's one thing: fear of backlash. I wish I could share about my weight struggles without people complaining that I'm delusional because I'm skinny and there are people with real weight problems. But what people don't know is I often receive unnecessary comments on my weight with people asking if I'm pregnant. I wish I could share about my mental health struggles without fear that a future employer would see this and think I'm too unstable for the job. I wish I could share about my relationship issues without my exes feeling vindicated somehow. Or the fact that sometimes, even after undergoing surgery at 19, I still have bladder accidents and wet myself. And as much as I wanted to share that a few weeks ago I went to the police because I feared someone I only went on two dates with might have been stalking me, I just couldn't find the strength.

What makes it worse, is for the past five years, I've worked with really vindictive people. The kind who go out of their way to get you fired by setting you up to fail or outright lying on you. And if they had access to my deepest personal problems, I just knew they would find a way to use it against me. None of this has been easy to deal with. I mean what's the point of owning a personal blog if you can't truly be yourself on it, right?

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So how have I been dealing with it? I recently started sharing more Instagram stories. I realised a good way to get personal is to get more real on social media. One thing I'm secretly insecure about is the sound of my voice. I can't explain it, I just don't like the sound of my own voice. So years ago I assumed others don't either and haven't been much for speaking. (Hence why blogging is so appealing and I never tried vlogging). But by sharing videos of the various stages of recipes I try or videos of myself getting ready or hanging out with friends, I'm getting more comfortable with speaking in front of people. I always thought people would look at me strangely if I'm recording a video in public, like I would look vain or something. To challenge myself, I went to a wine tasting (where I wrote a small portion of this post) and took selfies and a boomerang while at a table with other people. Was I self-concious? Of course I was. But I knew the fear of what others think about me was crippling my growth so I had to do something about it.

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The same with working out. When I was in Houston staying with a friend, we went to the gym in his community and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't work out in front of those people, even though they didn't know me. I went back to the apartment and worked out there, but deep down I knew I was cheating myself. I started sharing more about my workouts on my IG stories as a motivation to myself to continue. But the truth is I'm so inconsistent with working out lately, my diet isn't what it was before I travelled for the summer and I actually put back on some of the weight I lost, so I feel like a failure and I hate sharing failures. (Who doesn't, right?)

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Well, those were some of the biggest and the baddest in no particular order . I genuinely feel a weight being lifted off as I close out this post. I really appreciate all of the love I've been receiving as I open up. I want you to know it really is a reminder to think positively and be grateful for how far I've come, instead of how much further I think I need to go. The truth is, everyone doesn't need to know everything about your life, but you also shouldn't be so ashamed of the truth that you create a completely false life just to please others who are probably struggling with the same shit as you.  To quote Rachel Hollis, "More than anything, I hope you’ll rest in the knowledge that you can become whomever and whatever you want to be, my sweet friend . And on the days that seem the hardest, you’ll remember that— by an inch or a mile— forward momentum is the only requirement."