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Four Years of Blogging | What I've Learned

Happy Friday friends! Four years ago I started this little space of mine!! Four years worth of looking back on my weekends, seeing photos of things we've done around Boston, the places we've traveled to, the meals I've made and everything in between all wrapped up in a nice little bow here! If you would have told me that this "creative outlet" would lead to starting my own business and meeting some of my very best friends, I would have laughed - not because the thought is outrageous. although it really was. I would have honestly laughed because one of my first questions to Gary was, "who on earth would even care what I have to say, let alone read it!" Here were are, 4 years, 800 posts, thousands of words, endless amount of friends from practically every corner of the world and I'm so so happy to still enjoy coming to this space and writing! I thought I would share some of my musings from these four years because as I looked back on my three year anniversary post, I did manage to hit most of the little milestones I set for myself! I am by no means a professional, but these are just the observations that I've made and what I say to people when they ask me how to start a blog! 
  • It's okay that I won't be a full time blogger || Amanda actually captured my feelings perfectly in this  post! On some level it would be so incredibly amazing to get to run this space full time, but the reality is that I have a full time job that I absolutely love and I know how lucky I am to feel that way.  I also know my personality and having to rely on sponsored posts, collaborations & making sales would bring me too much anxiety. I like consistency! I love that I am able to come to this space and have a fun time sharing things I'm interested in and I never want it to feel like a job!
  • Friendships made this worthwhile || Hands down the best thing about blogging has been all of the friendships! From blog friends that turned into in real life friends that turned into travel partners who have turned into some of my best friends - it has been amazing! I have a friend in practically every corner of the United States and even some that live internationally. I have met more of you coming to Boston than I ever thought possible and I hope you will all continue to visit because my favorite thing is to show you a little bit of this city! I'm simply amazed by this community that rallies together for everything - you guys are my sounding board for products, the best advice givers out there and the fiercest people I know! 
  • Everything you see, eat or do has the opportunity to be a blog post || I think we all have a sort of love/hate relationship with social media. The plus side for me is that I look at everything from a different perspective - I see buildings that I would have otherwise walked by without a second glance, I see a tree with colorful leaves and need to take a picture, I have a great meal and need to document it because what if someone wants to try the restaurant when they visit? There have been countless moments when I'm getting ready in the morning and an idea of a post will just hit me, running to my notebook to jot it down makes me oddly happy! Everything has the potential to spark your creativity and before blogging I was certainly lacking that passion! 
  • You get what you put into the space || Perhaps this is a no brainer, but it's not possible to build anything successful and just hope someone stumbles upon it. You have to put in the time building relationships with other bloggers so that you become avid readers of each others content. The amount of time I have spent on my couch writing posts is something I don't want to add up. Editing pictures, writing posts, sharing the posts and so on and so on, it can sometimes feel never ending.  Having some consistency in the schedule is important. Even if you blog only once a week, as long as your readers know when to expect that one post it will work in your favor! You can have the prettiest pictures with the best blog out there, but if people aren't coming to your site then you aren't really putting that much into creating the social aspect of blogging! Burn out is real and sometimes it can feel like homework that I have to get a blog post ready to go live the next day. Sometimes I feel like I don't have anything "new" to share that hasn't already been shared. The flip side to that - a topic may have already been covered, but the voice I give to it is completely different than that of another blogger. 
  • Wordpress vs. Blogger vs. the others || I've hosted my blog on blogger since day one. Blogger is owned by Google meaning you don't technically own your blog - you can own your blog domain (the .com) but everything that is written isn't technically yours, meaning if Google decides it wants to shut down tomorrow you're sort of up a creek without a paddle, if you will! With Wordpress and other hosting sites you the writer / blogger own your space. With that comes all the maintenance, back end work (you could have a developer if you want) and coding that comes along with owning a blog. Is one better than the other - well it depends on who you talk to. For me, nicely curated photos, a clean layout and an easy way for people to comment on your blog is more important than how it's hosted. Will I ever switch to Wordpress - I'm not sure but I don't see it happening anytime soon. I have taught myself more about HTML and coding than I ever thought possible and to know that I've installed themes and backend stuff on my own blog makes me feel a little less nervous about one day making the switch.  At the end of the day, you'll be watching youtube videos and reading tutorials on how to fix something regardless of what platform you're on! 
  • There is space for everyone || If you are on instagram then the majority of your feed is probably content creators and influencers. You'll notice there are a hundreds of thousands of people doing this! The good news, there is space for everyone! Blogging is not going anywhere - meaning there will always be someone sharing their opinion about a restaurant or sharing a travel guide and you don't have to even find your niche to stand out - you are unique because your voice is your own! 
Cheers to you friends! 
Huge thank you to everyone that I've "met" along the way and I'm excited to continue with this space - hopefully seeing it grow even more this next year! Special shout out to my husband for being my first proofreader, first coder & blog designer, for putting up with me when I say "give me just one second, I'm hashtagging" and or my "just one more" photo requests!! Thank you all for reading and hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

Gift Guide for the Ladies

Gift guides are always fun for me to both read and put together! I love seeing what other people find & I put together ideas that I know the people in my life have either expressed an interest in or things I wouldn't mind getting myself! This gift guide is all for the ladies - I think it has a little bit of everything and all for a reasonable cost! 
What to buy for Christmas, Christmas presents for women

  • She Believed She Could, So She Did Bangle || Love this bangle so much and added it to my wishlist this year after getting one for my mom! 
  • Leopard Print Scarf || After seeing the ladies from Peaches in a Pod wearing this scarf I quickly placed my order (only$26) for this adorable scarf. I think everyone needs a little animal print to liven up an outfit! 
  • Signature scent - Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue || It doesn't have to be a big bottle of perfume because those seem to take forever to get through, but a roller ball of a scent you know they love is always a good idea. 
  • Colorful eye shadow palette || A palette that has every color needed to create day & night looks without being bulky. Perfect for the ladies on the go! 
  • Sugarfina Bento Box || The perfect hostess gift, gift for a boss or even your bestie that lives in another state! 
  • Cord Holder || Practical and cute! I feel like my headphones get tied up every single day - I spend a good 2 minutes untangling them, so I can't be the only one with this headache! 
  • Card Holder || As purses continue to get smaller and smaller, the need to carry all the things goes away! I love a chic card holder and use my small Louis Vuitton one to save space in my small bags! 
  • Tea tasting set || I went to the Tea Fort├ę pop up shop event a couple weeks ago and was blown away by the packaging and taste of these teas! As a tea lover I can never have enough tea! 
  • Echo Dot || This is actually a dual gift in the sense that everyone would benefit from it! While we have blue tooth speakers for our TV, we don't have anything that would have the functionality of the Echo Dot! It's small & portable, what's not to like! 
  • Makeup Eraser || So many people have raved about this makeup eraser being the best at removing, you guessed it ALL your makeup! Wouldn't mind finding this in my stocking! 
  • Small Handheld Blender || We just don't have the space for the kitchen aide mixer of my dreams, so I've been dropping not so subtle hints that I really want a smaller version!

What's on your wish list? Are you more of a one big gift fan or do you like to get more little gifts?

Weekending | Target Finds, Closet Renovation and OTK boots

Happy Monday friends! We had a bit of a cold snap this weekend so that left plenty of time to get stuff situated around the house and bust out my favorite OTK boots! The biggest part of my weekend was having my new closet installed & if you follow me on Instagram then you saw a bit of the progress, but I have a full post planned detailing what pieces I chose and how everything is organized! Also, any weekend with two Target runs is a good weekend to me! I couldn't help myself at Target on Sunday and picked up three new sweatshirts - they are so soft and cozy - I'll be wearing them all the time! 
This post contains affiliate links. Meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Probably the softest sweatshirt I own
Truer words have never been written
I have a feeling I'll be wearing this sweatshirt a lot this winter 
We made it out for what feels like the first time in forever on Saturday night and I got to meet Shannon while she was visiting for her birthday! Sorry for the instastories photo, but I forgot to save the photo before posting!
Turtle Neck found at TJ Maxx (similar) || OTK boots old (similar & on sale) || Jeans 
I always think curling my hair will take too much time, but then I'm so happy with how it looks and it lasts two days, so I think this season I'm going to make it a point to do more than just wear my hair straight! 

Managed to take advantage of the Sephora VIB sale this weekend, multiple times! That's the beauty of this sale - you can shop it more than once using the same discount. After my fall eyeshadow looks post, I decided I needed a few more colors I picked up some from the Sephora collection. These foot masks are the best, especially if you aren't a fan of having pedicures because you're ticklish...hopefully that's not just me! Also, I stocked up on sheet masks! This is also when I get a few "sets" for the holiday's and little stocking stuffers

Did you do anything fun this weekend? Did you shop the Sephora Sale? Link up below to share your weekends with us! 

Recently Read

Happy Friday friends! I made a pretty big dent in my November to-do's over this last week and I'm feeling quite accomplished! It's checking these little things off the list that make me super happy! I thought I was going to read a lot on our flights to and from Iceland, but with them being so short, I barely had time to make a dent in a magazine, let alone a book! A few of the books that I had requested finally came through from the library at the same time so I felt like I was under a time crunch to get them all read! Three of the books are by the same author and I've officially read all the books she's written, but the last review of her book is coming in my next recently read post next month! Starting off the books in the order of enjoyment, from least to greatest! 
  1. Startup: A Novel || I think the startup culture is so interesting! You have these brainy, tech-y people that have developed this idea (in the case of this book an app) and then you have everyone else that they've hired to help run the company. There were a few key characters in the book and I can't say I really liked any of them. Each had their own moral dilemmas and it felt like they were just doing what was going to help them, rather than what should be done for the greater good. This was written by a Buzzfeed writer and if you've ever read anything from the site then you know it's going to be laced with humor and also a little bit of vulgarity. From a technical side of things, I think the write was spot on with how startup seed money & the world of venture capitalists work and even her idea for the Mindfulness App that the main character develops is something that I can see being downloaded. I wasn't a fan at all of how the book ended, it was abrupt and I didn't have any closure to anything so for that reason I wasn't happy finishing the book. It was a quick read (done within a day or so) and enjoyable enough, but if you're someone who likes a book wrapped up in a nice bow once you're done reading - this isn't it. 
  2. The Divorce Party || There are two main character's point of views in this book, that of newly-engaged Maggie & the other her soon to be mother-in-law Gwyn. Obviously in two very different points in their relationships - one starting out her life with her soon to be husband and one getting ready to end her marriage with a divorce party!! The divorce party is the first time that Maggie is meeting her fiance's family & finding out a couple of secrets about his life that he has yet to share. Both women are faced with questions - should you fight to save a relationship and can you truly ever get over betrayal. This was an enjoyable enough book to read and while the ending did have it come full circle in a way, you are still left with more questions than answers and that always frustrates me as a reader. Nothing against the author's writing because I do truly enjoy that! 
  3. Hello, Sunshine || Sunshine is a YouTube chef sensation and seemingly has it all, that is until she is "outed" as being a fake not even able to properly cook anything and loses her career, husband & life she's built on a lie in one fell swoop! The author really made it known that you were not supposed to like Sunshine, in fact it's told from the first person of Sunshine and she even says that she's not entirely sure she even likes herself. She returns to her hometown in the Hampton's and tries to establish a relationship with her estranged sister and the life she worked so hard to forget. It was a light read in the sense that it was just over 200 pages so it went by super fast, but Laura Dave hit on some very interesting points, we're all lying in some ways to put the best version of ourselves out into the world of social media. It was a solid read & one that I think a lot of you would enjoy! I would have liked an epilogue, but then again I want one with every book I read! 
  4. The Royal Treatment || Thanks to Karly I picked up the Royal Treatment which was honestly just delight to read! For anyone that loves the royal family or any type of Hallmark Channel movie - you'll like this. The author makes it very "now" and isn't afraid to use vulgar language - very unbecoming of royalty, but gives them a sort of "everyday person" vibe! Although the city, family & history is fake, you can't help buy think it takes place in England & I have to say there were even a few nods to Princess Diaries - Genovia anyone!? Both Prince Arthur and the Royal Watch Dog Tessa are easy to relate to & even at times laugh out loud funny! It was cute and I immediately downloaded The Royal Wedding - part 2 of the series, but haven't ready it yet! 
  5. Never Let You Go || Holy thriller! I was instantly drawn into this book and it was my first from the author Chevy Stevens, who I just realized is actually a woman! The entire time I was reading the book I thought it was from a male author, which is why I thought they couldn't quite get the female's perspective or what I thought should have been the female's perspective right. In any case, the book was REALLY good! If you've ever seen the movie Enough with Jennifer Lopez you can't help but draw the similarities between the movie and the book, but it is a different story. Lindsey Nash escaped her abusive husband with her young daughter and started a new life. Eleven years later their teenage daughter is almost 18 & really wants to know her father who is just being released from prison. I thought I had the twist figured out in the middle of the book but I was seriously so wrong & even more was so shocked that I audibly gasped while on the elliptical! I can't recommend this book enough -  it was such a thrilling read. Some of the writing was a little choppy, but overall I really enjoyed it!  
  6. The First Husband || Such a great read! I liked this book even more than 800 grapes and it was a page turner in the best way possible! Annie is torn between her husband and the man she thought she'd marry. Anytime Annie watches the movie Roman Holiday something bad happens - nothing earth shattering per se, but enough to turn her life upside down. Within three months of meeting Griffin, Annie decides to say yes to his proposal and moves to Western Massachusetts. There's love, loss & then just when you think you know how the author is going to end the novel, she keeps it going! This reminds me of a great Emily Griffin book! Definite must read! 
Now it's your turn to share! What have you been reading lately? Any thrillers I should add to my list!? Hope you have a great weekend! 

Fall Weekend Style | My Favorite Flats

When it comes to getting dressed on the weekends, I'd describe my style as dressed up casual. I tend to gravitate towards wearing comfortable shoes because I'm in heels most of the week for work. I've slowly started to accumulate quite the flats collection & Gary even jokes that he didn't realize he married a spider with how many pairs of shoes I own ­čśé I recently posted this look on Instagram and having not blogged about any of my recent outfits I wanted to share this one since it's one that I wear on repeat in the fall and it's my favorite outfit while exploring. 
This post contains affiliate links. Meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Strolling through Beacon Hill on a Sunday when we don't have any plans and don't have to be anywhere is quite possibly my favorite activity, especially in the fall. Beacon Hill residents like to dress up their stoops & it just transports me to a European city! I don't think I realized how warm shearling vests can be. It was in the low 60's this past weekend and with a long sleeve shirt and my shearling vest I was perfectly warm! I rotate the type of long sleeved top I wear underneath the vest, but I like solid colors like a black or burgundy! 
 Shearling Vest old (similar or this one) || Jeans || Yosi Samra flats (c/o)  use code "BIANAS20" for 20% off your entire purchase.
Before it gets too cold in Boston I've been trying to wear all my flats - especially these Vera Stud Yosi Samra loafers. My sister taught me a trick when I first moved to the city and started walking everywhere - if you can pinch the back of the shoes together the chances of getting a blister goes way down because they just don't rub the back of your foot as badly! These and my other Yosi Samra's pass the pinch test! Fit tip: I'm normally a 7.5, but when designers only do full sizes, I tend to size up and that does the trick! 

Here are a few more of my favorite flats & short block heels for work and play (i.e. good for lots of walking)!
Top: Report Blush || Circus by Sam Edelman || Nadia Pump (Code "BIANAS20" for 20% off entire purchase)
Middle: Smoking Slippers ||  Jeweled Suede || Loafer Fringe Kitten Heel
Bottom: Anniston Flat || Farru Tassel loafer || Vanessa Ruffled (Code "BIANAS20" for 20% off entire purchase)

What are your favorite types of flats to wear? Do you like them to be foldable so they travel easy or are you a more sturdy flats fan?

Travel Guide | What to do in Iceland

Happy Monday friends! I'm back with part two of our Iceland adventure, you can catch part one here. In the few days that we had in the country we were really able to see a lot! This is a really picture heavy post and I added in a few tips and things I would do differently if visiting for the first time again. Warning: This post may cause wanderlust! 
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Blue Lagoon ||

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Number one on all our lists was visiting the Blue Lagoon, as it is for most people. It's on the way into the city from the airport so it made the most sense for us to check this off the list right away and it really did help wake us up after not sleeping on the flight! Most of us opted for the "luxury package" which included two mud masks, a drink at the swim up bar, robe & slippers among other things! The earliest reservation time is 8:00 AM and with our flight landing at 6:15 we were there right ahead of our 9:00 AM reservation times. 
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Walking into the lagoon right as the sun was rising was the most magical experience. We spent a little over an hour swimming around the lagoon, applying our mud masks & taking a lot of pictures! There are plenty of thermal springs around the country but this one is definitely not to be missed! Even if you aren't planning on getting your hair wet definitely use the conditioner they provide in the showers because the silica can make your hair very dry! If you've rented your own car, I suggest doing this upon arrival in Iceland and for the earliest tour that you can because the lines started to get very long when we were leaving later in the morning. 

Golden Circle ||

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The Golden Circle is a drive well worth the full day away from the city. It's about 4 hours total, but with stops you can anticipate it taking closer to 6 hours and if you're on a day tour with a large group it'll be a total of 8 hours. Our first stop was Pingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park which is the site of Iceland's first Parliament, the start of democracy in the country. You can spend as much as an hour here or like us 15 minutes - just depends on what you're interested in exploring. We knew we had a lot more ahead of us which is why this was a shorter stop for us.
Next on the tour was the Geysir Geothermal Area, which has a lot of little geysir's that are still active as well as the "big"one that is active every 15 minutes, like clock work! This is a great stopping point along the Golden Circle because you can pop into the gift shop, go to the restroom & in our case grab one of the best sandwiches in the cafe. There is also a full restaurant and coffee if you want to sit down and make this more of a stop.
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One of my favorite stops along the Golden Circle was Gullfoss Waterfall. What a sight to see this waterfall in person. This is one of the most popular destinations while visiting Iceland and the views are just out of this world.
iceland tours, blue lagoon, icelandic horses, waterfalls in iceland, southern iceland, golden circle, thermal springs in iceland, geysir in iceland
iceland tours, blue lagoon, icelandic horses, waterfalls in iceland, southern iceland, golden circle, thermal springs in iceland, geysir in iceland

An unexpected stop along the Golden Circle was seeing the Icelandic horses. They really are all over the place, but it's hard to stop when they aren't really close to the road. These were definitely horses that were intended to be pet because there was a food dispenser #touristtrap! It was worth the little stop and all the girls (and guys) throughly enjoyed making friends with the horses!
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iceland tours, blue lagoon, icelandic horses, waterfalls in iceland, southern iceland, golden circle, thermal springs in iceland, geysir in iceland
Our final stop on the Golden Circle tour was the Crater Kerid - a volcanic crater lake! It's 400isk or about $4 to park/ go around the crater and walk around. The entire stop for us took about 20 minutes, but you can walk around the entire top and all the way to the bottom and that will take you about an hour total.
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 It's a beautiful site and worth the stop if you have time! The color of the water is really the attraction to me! 
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We wanted a quick tour for the next half day trip because we had a Northern Lights tour booked that same evening. At the tourist center where we booked the two tours we did with a guide, the girls working there told us about a few stops pretty close to the city that would be great to check out. These aren't "must sees" in my opinion, but it was another part of the country we got to explore.
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Stopped to see Iceland's oldest lighthouse - which honestly felt like we were in Rhode Island! 
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 Just casually holding up the bridge that connects two tectonic plates that formed Iceland! 
If you're looking for an off roading adventure then you'll definitely want to visit Dj├║pavatn lake. You drive about 30 minutes on terrain that felt like you were on Mars and come up on the lake. It was a little nerve-wracking for most of us girls because there was literally only one other car we saw and they were heading out of the area, so it was pretty deserted, but an interesting sight to see! I think all six of us agreed we would have skipped this if given the chance to go back. 

Northern Lights Tour ||

Of course the Northern Lights are on everyone's wish list if visiting Iceland, but the lights are pretty finicky and can only be seen at a specific time during the year & also for about an hour in the night - between 10:00 and 11:00 PM. It was only the 6 of us on our tour with Geo Tours Iceland and if you're going to do a Northern Lights tour then I highly suggest a more private one because the big bus tours take away from the experience. We were about an hour outside of the city, but if the lights are particularly active you can see them from the city. Our visibility wasn't that great as you can see from the photo, but we were able to see a small show & I'm definitely checking this one off the bucket list. Tip: If you're planning on seeing the lights, your iPhone camera will NOT capture the photos! My cousin had a Samsung Galaxy which picked up the colors, but I'd suggest taking a DSLR or something similar to get better photos! 

South Iceland Tour 

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I think my most favorite day trip was going through South Iceland. Waterfalls, black sand beach & glaciers - this part of the country had it all! We really wanted to see it all, but unfortunately we didn't have time to stop at Seljalandsfoss which is the waterfall that has a path behind it, but we did stop at Sk├│gafoss, another beautiful waterfall. Fun fact, "foss" is the word for waterfall! 
iceland tours, blue lagoon, icelandic horses, waterfalls in iceland, southern iceland, golden circle, thermal springs in iceland, geysir in iceland
iceland tours, blue lagoon, icelandic horses, waterfalls in iceland, southern iceland, golden circle, thermal springs in iceland, geysir in iceland
It's only a short drive to Black Sand Beach which is a must stop on your drive. Absolutely breathtaking to see in person! There is a restaurant at this stop which has pretty tasty fries if you're looking for a snack! 
After black sand beach it was time for our glacier hike adventure. We decided to book the 2:00 PM tour because we knew that if we did the 12:00 tour we wouldn't have time to see any of the stops after, so we left Reykjavik early in the morning to make the 2.5 hour drive to the southern coast to see everything. 
 ^drinking fresh glacier water^
^tethered and peeking over the edge^
Our guide Jerry with Icelandic Mountain Guides was amazing! He took the group, only 8 of us, up the glacier and we hiked for a solid 2.5 hours. This was my favorite excursion - we were active & we got to experience hiking in a way I don't think I'll ever do again. The only way to describe it - just so cool, literally and figuratively! 

That was a lot to get through, but we were able to cover a lot of ground during our short stay. Overall, I'm really happy that we rented a car because it gave us the freedom to see all the sights on our own time. Did we miss some things, definitely, but we were able to see a lot! We didn't book any tours ahead of time, but if you visit the local tourist office in the center of the city they will help book you on any tour you like. If you've never had Iceland on your travel list, I hope this helped change your mind & if you are planning on visiting the country then I hope this was a good starting off point for your planning!