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Recent Reads - Fall Edition

Halfway through the week already and Thanksgiving is right around the corner! This time of year, I find myself reaching for books more and trying to squeeze reading in whenever I can. I'm a notorious multitasker, so I'll watch TV at night and then during commercial breaks read a few pages - it's the ultimate way for me to decompress! Here's a few recent reads that you should definitely add to your list! 

The Other Woman || There was twist after twist with this book! I'd had it on my list to read for a while and finally scooped it up when it was on sale! Emily and Adam seem like the perfect pair, but there's one woman who doesn't think so and wants to make sure Emily is out of the picture before they get married. I wouldn't say it's a full on thriller, but it's a page turner and you can't help but wonder who is good and who is crazy. If you've ever seen the movie "Hush" you get some similar vibes reading this book. I'd say, this is the perfect suspense to read this coming winter! 

Perfectly Adequate (Kinde Unlimited) || I could not read this book fast enough - I would put it in my top 5 for the year! Dr. Hawkins and Dorothy could not be more different. He's a single dad, doctor and pretty much every woman's dream guy. Dorothy is a free spirit, nursing student and patient transporter at the hospital and she also has Asperger's.She doesn't quite get the social cues that Dr. Hawkins is throwing out at her and it leads to some pretty funny situations. It was both touching and fun to read - I can't recommend this book enough.  
The Tattooist of Auschwitz || This is not my normal type of read, but after hearing so many great reviews, a friend of mine lent me her copy to read. I think from the title anyone can gather that this will not be an easy read - it's full of heartache, loss, gruesome moments retold, but at the heart of it all is a beautiful love story and that was what I chose to focus on. Lale was taken to Auschwitz during the Holocaust and when they discovered that he spoke several languages he was given the job of being the tattooer at the camp and tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. It was there that Lale met Gita, a love forms between them and he vows to marry her one day. The true story of Lale and Gita's enduring love was beautiful. I cried many times reading the book and the author vividly captures the essence of both of them. It's clear why this book is an international best seller and a must read! 

The Thousandth Floor (Kindle Unlimited) || One of the best things about this book was that it took place in the future - which is not something I thought I'd ever be into. It's 2118 in New York City and life in the 1,000 story tower that stretches into the sky is exactly as life is today, just with a few more enhancements. There are privileged families that live on higher floors with the comforts that we know today and there are poorer families that live on the lower floors having to make do with what they have. Aside from the fact that this book takes place in the future, I found the relationships the characters in the book had to be really fascinating and similar to what you would think of in today's world. I loved that the author took it to a level of fiction that wasn't improbable. For example, the way we text today is through a phone or tablet, in the book it's done through contacts that the really rich can afford - so when you see someone texting via phone - you know they aren't quite as well off. There is a hyper-loop that can take you from NY to Paris in three hours - certainly not out of the realm of possibility for the future. All that to say, that while it was the future, they still deal with the same issues we face today. The characters are young and in high school, but it was a really cool read! There are two more books in the series that I want to get to as well! 
The Allure of Julian Lefray (Kindle Unlimited) || An easy and fun read from RS Grey. Josephine (Jo) is such a relatable character! Leaves her small hometown in Texas to pursue her dream of being in Fashion and moonlights as a fashion blogger. She lands a job with one of her favorite designers, the only catch is she's actually the assistant to the designer's brother, Julian. Easy to follow, fun to read and you could definitely feel the heat between Jo and Julian. Steamy moments aside, it was really well written and I think the added touch of Jo being a blogger made it even more interesting to read. 

I have a few books downloaded and have been slowly making my way through those! What's on your reading list right now?

Girls Weekend in NYC

Happy Monday, friends! I'm writing this post sitting on the train coming back from an amazing weekend in New York City with my friends! It was a quick 48 hours, but full of walking, shopping and eating! We stayed at Hotel Hugo in SoHo which was perfectly located to everything we wanted to see and do. Quick Uber rides or a few minutes to walk wherever we needed to go. The rooms had plenty of space with three of us in there and the amenities were great - like the bottle of champagne we got upon arrival. 

Cable knit sweater arrived just in time for the trip!
After dropping our bags off, we had lunch at Senza Gluten with is both a restaurant and bakery. The bakery has a few tables where we ate. Jackie is gluten free and Viv is vegetarian, so everywhere we ate was more than accommodating to both. Friendly service & good food are reason enough to visit if you're looking for a quick bite. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling in and out of shops before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. The views from our hotel roof top were incredible - had to sneak up to grab a sunset photo!

We had dinner at The Dutch on the first night and I'll be honest, it was my least favorite meal of the weekend. The atmosphere was great and maybe it was the food I ordered, but it just wasn't that good. Service was great, the bar scene looked fun - but I'd rank this as my least favorite place we dined during this trip. Since our hotel had a rooftop bar, we went up for a little nightcap before calling it a night. I can't remember the last time I had 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep and it was glorious!  It was worth the trip for that reason alone! 
On Saturday morning, Viv and I headed to Russ & Daughters for one of their bagels! 100% worth the wait and one of the best bagels that I've ever had! What made this so authentic was everything was so fresh and sliced right there in front of you. They're known for their bagels & lox, so of course that's what I got - may have to bribe some of my NYC friends to bring some the next time they visit. 
I did quite a bit of shopping while in the city - but the two things that I absolutely fell in love with were this bag and my new ring from Monica Vinander.  
We booked appointments at the Bite Beauty Lab to create our own custom lipstick shades! Jackie did it once before and we thought it would be so fun to do together. For an hour we worked with our own artist to create the right shades - it took me about 4 tries to get my perfect color! The real special part, to me at least, was that not only do you get to name your lipstick & get it engraved on the tube, but your specific color is saved in the system and you can order it again from them for years to come! I named mine "Sophia" and I love that one day, I could even have it ordered for her!  If you're planning a girls trip, I can't recommend doing this with your friends! 

We had about an hour before our lunch in the Meatpacking District, so we walked around a bit and then went to RH Rooftop restaurant. If I could live in a store, I think this would be it! Viv and I split the truffle grilled cheese and arugula salad which was perfect for the two of us. Definitely come for the views, champagne bar & people watching!

After lunch we walked down the high line towards the new mall in Hudson Yards. It was really cold on Saturday so the mile walk was brisk, but the mall was amazing! It had every store you could possibly want and reminded me of the ones in Dubai which are so lavish. Although the Vessel looked cool we didn't go up! I find the Zara stores in NYC are so much better than the one we have in Boston, so it's always on my shopping hit list!

For dinner we made a last minute reservation at Santina in the Meatpacking District. This gluten free restaurant has an amazing Coastal Italian vibe with impeccable service, delicious pastas and tasty cocktails. The theme of the trip was "Sophia" since that was the name of the cocktail I had and the Capellini Blue Crab was so tasty! 
Really can't stop wearing this dress! Currently on sale and perfect for the holidays! 
This was our night out in the city and we started with Catch. When I had my 30th birthday in the city, I looked at Catch as one of the places to do it, but ultimately decided on Beauty & Essex which was incredible! It was really crowded at the bar, but we enjoyed the people watching and after finishing our drink we headed to Le Bain in the Standard Hotel. The views of the city were my favorite and while it wasn't packed at all, it gave us some time to sit and chat! We wanted to go to the lounge at the Standard Hotel but after 9 PM you need a reservation to get in, so Le Bain it was! We had one more stop in us before calling it a night and randomly found Paul's Casablanca near our hotel. No pictures from this excursion, but it was so secretive, we wouldn't have even noticed the door had it not been for the doormen outside. We walked up and they moved to the side where a girl was sitting and I guess gave them the okay to let us in. It felt like we passed some sort of test. When we walked in, it had a little speakeasy vibe, especially since the bartenders were all dressed in white coats & black bowties. We were expecting it to be really to busy, but it wasn't packed and we easily found a spot at the bar where we ordered their speciality cocktails and really did some people watching! I can't remember the last time I have been out past midnight, but all those sleepless nights with Sophia have trained me for these moments!
Before our train back to Boston we went to Friedmans near Penn Station. The nova benny was perfect and instead of sitting atop bread, it was on a potato pancake - brilliant! 
Before I knew it, I was reunited with my little squish and the girls weekend had come to an end! It was a great little escape and huge thank you to G for holding down the fort while I was away! Phew, that was a long one! Thank you for reading and hopefully this will help for your next trip to the city!

Holiday Gift Guide | For Your Bestie

I have a handful of girlfriends that I exchange gifts with - less about the actual gift itself, but more so the thought that I saw this and it reminded me of you, so I had to get it! We don't spend a ton on these gifts and I am going under the assumption that you also have a similar exchange with your good friends. Here's a little gift guide for your bestie with all gifts under $40! 

  • These cozy BP slippers come in 5 different colors and I'm pretty sure are the best things to wear in the winter! I'll be getting myself and some friends matching pairs!
  • The most delicate initial necklace! I love that it's dainty enough that you can wear it every day and you can get their initial or even the initial of their child! 
  • How's this for a great personalized gift - a slim custom hair clip! I'm 100% going to be getting one for myself too!
  • Coffee lovers unite for this adorable phone cover. This is for the newest iPhone, perfect for that tech bestie that you have!
  • Most of my girlfriends love Sugarfina and champagne as much as I do. This little cocktail kit with a bottle of champagne is the perfect holiday gift!
  • Candles are just something I never buy for myself so I'm grateful to friends that gift this to me and I love gifting them to friends too - especially seasonal nest candles!
  • Lipsticks are the ultimate gift, but it's hard to really know what your friend will reach for - a lipstick set is the best because there is a color for every occasion! 
  • I love the idea of giving a really practical gift and one that will be used all year. This collapsible travel mug is just that and I really love the hot pink color! 
  • Journals and notebooks always make me happy - I think gifting one to a friend at this time of year gives them a fresh start for any ideas they may have. 
  • One of the best ways to make a gift standout is by adding an ornament to it! I love the special ones that Anthropologie has, especially this little champagne ornament.
  • In Boston if you shop and need a bag you pay 5-10 cents for it unless you bring your own bag. I think this reusable set of bags (comes with three) would be so great to gift to a friend who loves to shop - she could keep one at her desk at work, in her car and one at home! 

What are your favorite gifts to exchange with friends?

Weekending | Getting Colder

Happy Monday, friends! It was a pretty laid back and chilly weekend here, but still pleasant to be outside, so we had a little bit of indoor / outdoor fun here!
 This is the blanket that we have for our stroller in the Winter. 
Saturday was the chilliest day and I had just learned that the Boston Public Library has a great children's play area on the second floor. We spent a solid hour exploring everything with Sophia and it was such a great way for her to use up that energy. Before the BPL, we checked out CAVA for lunch - it was my first time at this Mediterranean fast casual restaurant, but so delicious! The library did the trick because for the first time ever, we had a successful hands to crib transfer - she was so tried! 

A little Sunday Target run followed by lunch at Time Out Market! With live music on Sunday's it kept Sophia occupied while we ate! Time Out Market has 16 different places to choose from for food, dessert and drinks and in the winter they are adding an outdoor ice skating rink - it's going to be even more amazing! 
 Sophia's Patagonia jacket was the nicest hand-me-down from a friend, but you can find it here
 We picked sandwiches from Bisq. 
Sophia turned 15 months old on Saturday and while every stage has had it's ups and downs - this is such a fun time! She is picking things up left and right with the newest one being "uh-oh!" It's The cutest thing and she uses it in the right context too! Gearing up for what I hope is a great week, because I'm headed to New York on Friday for a little girls weekend with some of my best friends and I can't wait!

Holiday Gift Guide | Ideas for Toddlers

You've probably started to see some holiday gift guides popping up here and there in "blogland" but the truth is Thanksgiving is super late this year and we've already starting making our lists for what we're going to be shopping for with the upcoming holiday season. I really am not one of those people that likes the rush of finding a gift two days before the holiday. I'd rather have everything wrapped and ready to go with time to spare and time to actually enjoy the holiday season. I'll be doing a few gift guides throughout the month and I'm starting with one for the kids - toddlers to be more specific. 
  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be  || Talk about a book that just makes me cry every single time! I love reading this to Sophia and I think it does the best job of teaching our kids that we want the very best for them!
  • LeapFrog 100 Word Book || We are huge fans of LeapFrog games and toys. One of Sophia's favorite toys is the LeapFrog musical rhymes book. I really love that this is in both English and Spanish. She gets a lot of Russian at home and Gary tries to speak to her in Spanish as much as he can, so this will just be another way to get that Spanish in! I put this on her "wish list" for the grandparents!
  • VTech Smart Shots || My cousins' son just got this as a gift for his birthday and not only was the set up super easy, but it's two games in one. You can teach them how to "play" basketball and soccer! Work on that hand-eye coordination at the same time! 
  • Owleez Interactive Pet || This feels like a super high end Tamagachi - do you guys remember those?! This little owl responds to touch, movements and love like any pet would! It's a really great gift to teach kids how to nurture things! 
  • Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair || This was one of the gifts we got Sophia last year and we absolutely love it! Now that she understands she needs to sit in it, it's become more part of her everyday! We got the slightly bigger one that she could grow into. 
  • Food Truck || If you're not big into the toddler kitchens, I think this food truck is the next best thing, if not better. Our friends have this and Sophia loved playing with it. If we had the space, I'd totally get this for her since she already has a little play kitchen.
  • Magnetic Tiles || Sophia played with these tiles at our neighbor's house and got such a kick out of it. Their almost 4 year old plays with them and of course Sophia loved them. Something about how the magnets go together is so interesting to them. 
  • Radio Flyer Scooter || This is such a great introductory "bike" and scooter. Sophia got it as a gift last year and just started using it more. This is great to ride around the neighborhood or take to the park because it has a little under seat storage for toys. We also have a super long hallway that she gets to "drive" down! 
  • Drill and Learn Toolbox || I think every little kid likes to play with dad or mom when they are fixing something in the house. This little toolbox comes with a working toy drill, wrench, screws and more. It also makes sounds when they drill or screw something in all while teaching them numbers and colors. 
  • Doodle Board || Different colors, stamps and endless possibilities. We haven't quite mastered "Art" yet, but this would be a fun way to get anyone interested in it and it's very portable so you can take it on the road for car trips or overnights.  
  • Play-Doh Kitchen Creations || I can't wait for Sophia to be old enough to play with this. She's still in the "put everything in your mouth" phase, so it'll wait a little while longer. This is one of those gifts that will keep us all occupied with the upcoming winter! Truth - I'm more excited to play with this than I think she will be!

What are some of your go to gifts for toddlers?