Feel-Good/ Women's Topics
February 28, 2023

Blog Series: Fearless Females-Jess and Nic of “Cambridge Uncommon”

Walking down Newbury Street in late 2022, I came across “Cambridge Uncommon.” The one word I would use to describe Cambridge Uncommon is “whimsical”; you know those stores that just make you happy?

I starting talking to co-owner, Jess, asking about the store’s background. She shared that she co-owned the store with her childhood bestie, Nic, and their Newbury Street brick and mortar was a pop-up shop, but they were primarily an e-commerce business.

After giving them a follow on Instagram, I thought that Jess and Nic would be perfect to feature in my “Fearless Females” blog series. Please read my interview below with these lovely entrepreneurs!

  1. Going back to your roots, are you both from the Boston-area originally? As an adult (i.e. as a high school or college student), what did you originally see yourself doing professionally? We are both from the Boston area, Cambridge to be exact and grew up right by the Cambridge Common (CambridgeUncommon.com), thus our name.  Growing up in this area with all the amazing universities there is a lot of inspiration in all fields.  As a high school student Jess wanted to be a ceramics artist and Nic wanted to start a magazine.  By the time we were graduating from college we both had our sights set on the business world.  Jess knew retail was her passion and Nic set off for the world of magazine publishing in NYC. 
  2. How did you originally meet? We met when we were 4 years old!  You never think when you enter the first day of pre-school that the little girl in the sandbox will be a lifelong friend, and one day business partner, but here we are!  And we both still like to play in the sand, we just opt for the beach now.
  1. What made you decide to start this business together? We both think we’re hilarious!  No really, we would come up with funny sayings and one of us would say “that should be on a tee shirt” so, we said “what if we actually did it?” and Cambridge Uncommon was born.  We have complimentary backgrounds in retail so it was a business we could both wrap our heads around.  Jess had worked in corporate buying and then had her own brick and mortar store and Nic had worked on the e-commerce side at start-ups in a variety of roles. Between the two of us we knew we had the knowledge and experience to really build something great.  We actually have fairly different tastes and style when it comes to the products we buy, but we think that makes the business even stronger.
  1. Could you please speak a bit to the early days about starting up the business? You originally launched online, correct? We started Cambridge Uncommon as an online graphic apparel company.  We wanted to make “clever” tees and sweats but we also wanted them to be comfortable, soft, and fit well –  basically we wanted to make the perfect tee.  We sourced all our cotton in Peru and would visit the Peruvian garment markets to pick reams of fabrics in the colors and cottons we wanted.  We worked with a small factory in Lima who would then cut, sew and print all our apparel for us… until the pandemic happened, and everything closed, including our ability to travel.  So we did what a lot of companies did during that time and we pivoted our business plan.  We kept our graphic tee and sweats but started to source some of them closer to home and we also added home goods, accessories and other fun items to our store.  We recognized that people were spending a lot of time in their homes and they wanted things that made them feel good, whether it was the perfect sweatshirt or some pops of color around the house.  We wanted to create a “happy place” for our customers, filled with products to make them smile and so the current Cambridge Uncommon was born. We work really hard to find “uncommon” products that are from other small makers and brands and specifically to source things you won’t find on Amazon.
  2. What were your most popular items this past holiday season? The Gurgling Cod pitchers are always a favorite, especially in New England.  We love their whimsical look and they are really a quintessential housewarming gift, one which we both grew up with in our own homes!  We also made a lot of tees and sweatshirts for the pop-up store and our customers loved the new prints.  Cozy sweatshirts never disappoint.  The duck head umbrellas were a big gift idea this holiday season, who can resist a duck! And anything unique and funny like our Quitter bottle stoppers, “Nope” kitchen towels and humorous needlepoint message pillows, including “This is Why We can’t Have Nice Things” and “This is a Horrible Idea What Time Should I Be There.
  3. What made you decide to open a pop-up on Newbury Street? Additionally, what have you learned from the experience? In the fall of 2021, we did a short two week pop-up in Harvard Square and we loved it.  It was great seeing people’s reactions to our products first hand as well as to see what resonated and what didn’t. We knew we wanted to do another one somewhere new to try out other areas.  Growing up in the Boston area, there is one street that is THE street for shopping, Newbury!  If you have a shop there, you’ve made it.  With the help of Popping Up Next, a local business who helps connect small brands with pop-up locations, we were able to find an amazing store front on Newbury Street.  We thought we were only going to stay for one month and now 6 months later we are wrapping up our second location on Newbury Street!  It’s been an incredible time in Boston and we couldn’t have had a better location or landlord.  The pop-up model allows a small business like ours to minimize the risk of a long term lease and to showcase our brand to the community.  And in our case, we got to do it on one of the best shopping streets in the country! It’s a win, win for both communities and small businesses.
  4. What are the favorite aspects of running your business? What are the most challenging? The best part of running the business is doing it with a lifelong friend. When your kid is sick, or you’re in need of a mental health day you don’t have to pretend you don’t have a life outside of work, you have a partner to pick up the ball. And let’s be honest, we all have days like that.  Working with a friend also means that every business meeting is also time we get to catch up and connect.  Also finding “uncommon” products that spark a smile or laugh from a customer is definitely one of our favorite parts of the job. 

    The most challenging part is choosing where to put our time, attention and dollars.  We have big ideas for the future of Cambridge Uncommon so we need to choose carefully what we do and when we do it or we risk overextending ourselves and the business. Another challenging part is probably retail margins.  They aren’t massive so you really have to be vigilant in paying attention to your real fully loaded costs, whether it’s shipping and fulfillment online or rent and payroll in store.
  1. What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs? Don’t try and have a work life balance because the fact is, there will never be a balance.  Something will always get more of your attention, and that’s ok! Sometimes it’s a work crisis, sometimes it’s a fun family event, but try not to spread yourself too thin and prioritize what needs to be given attention and when. You’ll be a better business owner in the long run. 
  2. What are you looking forward to in 2023? Any exciting news to share about the business? We have some amazing new apparel collaborations coming up soon.  We have met a lot of incredible small businesses and are working with several to make our own line of home goods as well as a few items (like our resin trays), so you will see a lot more of that. There will definitely be another pop-up in our future… but the question is, where to next? 

Thank you so much to Jess and Nic for answering my questions! I am linking my favorite Cambridge Uncommon products below. Please be sure to visit www.cambridgeuncommon.com to browse all their fun products!

  1. Teal Heart Tea Cup and Saucer Gift Set: Elevate your caffeinated beverage with this fun tea cup and accompanying saucer. Fellow Swifties, doesn’t this give off “Lover” era vibes?
  2. Party Animal Wine Glasses: These are perfect to feature at your next get-together! I love how the set features four different animals; think the zebra pair is my favorite!
  3. Blue Elephants Apron: I love the blue hues of this apron, and accessorizing-even when cooking-is important!
  4. Feminist Icons Coaster Set: Featuring four inspiration women, these coasters are just in time for Women’s History Month!
  5. Embroidered Dogs Large Throw Pillow: I greatly appreciate all of Cambridge Uncommon’s canine-themed inventory, because dogs=happiness.

6. Black & White Striped Cake Stand: Serve tasty treats off this cake stand at your next social gathering!
7. This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Needlepoint Throw Pillow: I will gladly purchase any product that features Taylor Swift lyrics.
8. Blue Bamboo Print Ice Bucket: I love this design. Plus, you need something to store the ice for the Party Animal Wine Glasses!
9. Palm Tree Candlesticks Set: These palm tree candle holders are classic and can be used for multiple occasions, as well as decorative purposes.
10. Red Leopard Tray: Cambridge Uncommon carries many lively trays. I love the pop of color that this one can add to a traditional space (you can also use it for your hosting needs, of course!)

In addition to Nic and Jess kindly taking the time to answer my questions, they are also generously offering an exclusive discount code for Busy as a Bee readers! Be sure to use code “BUSYBEE15” at check out (valid until 3/15/23) . Additionally, all orders over $75 are free shipping. Happy shopping!

Feel-Good
February 5, 2023

Celebrate with Self-Love this Valentine’s Day!

I hope all New Englanders are staying warm in the polar vortex this weekend! It is is a great opportunity to stay in, get some adulting tasks done (i.e. laundry), staying cozy and treat yourself to some self-care.

Speaking of self-care, I think Valentine’s Day (which is right around the corner!) is a great opportunity to show not only our loved ones some loves, but also ourselves. We often get so busy in life with responsibilities and obligations, that this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to do something nice for yourself. I have rounded up some Valentines-esque products for you to enjoy this February 14!

  1. Sugarfina Valentines Day Love Mail 2 Piece Candy Bento Box: Send yourself some candy this Valentine’s Day. I always love the fun packaging that Sugarfina offers. $34.95 at Amazon
  2. Soaking Salt in Rose: I love The Little Market and its mission! I also love taking baths, and it one of the things that I look forward to most when visiting my parents. $22 at The Little Market
  3. Heart Sunglasses: These shades from Tuckernuck are so fun, not to mention affordable! I would wear these year-round. $22 at Tuckernuck
  4. Heart Trouser Socks: I’ve recently developed an affinity for fun, patterned socks, as I often wear them with a pair of mules for a little POP. Right now, you can purchase 3 pairs of socks for $15 at J.Crew Factory. $7 at J.Crew Factory
  5. Heart Slippers: Slippers are a must for surviving a New England winter. These ones from LOFT are padded and cozy for your toesies! $39 at LOFT

6. Faux Fur Mandy Mittens in Hot Pink: My fav boutique, Mint Julep, which has locations in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA) and Coolidge Corner (Brookline, MA) has these fun faux fur mittens in multiple colors. The pink is a fun POP of color and perfect for the holiday! $48 at Mint Julep
7. Valentine’s Hot Cocoa Spoons: Another New England winter staple? Hot cocoa. These decorative hot cocoa spoons are so fun! Put one in your coffee for a little mocha action. Target has some great Valentine’s Day items (keep reading!). $5.99 at Target
8. Jardin de Paris Glass Candle: Candles are a relaxation/self-care staple in my opinion. I also love all things Rifle Paper Co. This adorable candle has floral scents that will have you looking forward to spring. $36 at Paper Source
9. The Sunny Heart Earring: I love the products that The Tiny Tassel, based out of Charleston, SC, has in stock. I particularly love these earrings as they are just so unique! $36 at The Tiny Tassel
10. Valentine’s Cookie House Kit: I told you that Target has some awesome Valentine’s Day products! For those of you who didn’t get a chance to make a gingerbread house this year at Christmas (or even if you did!), this is for you! Be sure to pick up this Valentine’s Gingerbread Glue as well, to make sure your structure is sturdy (always a challenge with gingerbread houses!) $9.99 at Target
11. LC Lauren Conrad Pink Velvet With Simulated Pearls Top Knot Headband: This headband can be worn year-round and it a subtle way to incorporate some Valentine’s cheer into your outfit. $12.99 at Kohl’s

So, there you have it: some products to treat yourself to this Valentine’s Day. Do you plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? If so, how do you plan on celebrating? Any self-care ideas? I would love to hear!

Health/ Women's Topics
January 31, 2023

Blog Series: Fearless Females-Amanda Driscoll

Hello everyone! I hope 2023 has been great thus far! For me, January has been a month of trying to get back into the swing of things, after a crazy December. As you may recall, I launched a Blog Series titled Fearless Females, featuring Christina Orso.

For the second installment I am thrilled to introduce my friend Amanda Driscoll. Amanda and I originally met through a mutual friend. She is a Personal Trainer and Confidence Coach here in Boston. A large part of Amanda’s platform is combating diet culture, which is so needed! She exudes positivity, and I am thrilled that she allowed me to interview her for this feature.

  1. Let’s start at the beginning; where did you grow up? Where did you go to school, and what did you study there? What were your career aspirations when you were young/in college? I was a “Navy Brat”, so I grew up hopping around a bit, but mostly in southeastern Connecticut. We got to live just south of Seattle for my sophomore and junior year of high school which was incredible! I went to the University of New Hampshire, where I got a degree in Communications & Business, with a minor in writing. I actually started school as a journalism major and really wanted to get into media in some way.
  2. What did you do professionally right out of college? My first job out of college was at a medical staffing firm – I recruited for temp doctor and nursing positions. I’m not going to lie, I hated it a lot. I have so much respect for anyone in staffing and sales who stick with it until it gets good because the endless cold calling in the beginning was just torture. Mostly I think I felt that way because it was so far from what I wanted to be doing, but it was a job that got me to Boston, which is where I really wanted to be! Shortly thereafter I landed a role on the marketing team at Boston Magazine, which was the coolest, most unique job I’ve ever had.
  3. What was your “aha” moment getting into the fitness/health/lifestyle sphere? I just loved the energy- to put it simply! I had always been active- I was a cheerleader growing up, and I enjoyed running and lifting in college. But I found so much connection and community in the fitness world when I moved to Boston, and I just wanted to be surrounded by that all of the time. I loved the connection to so many people.
  4. I think what really differentiates you from other people in the fitness space is your approach to anti-diet culture; can you talk a little about how you decided to incorporate that into your approach? It’s pretty simple – fitness is for EVERYONE. A lot of people sadly have bad connections to fitness- like their bodies are a problem that need to be solved. I struggled with really crippling body image issues, and I wanted to spread the energy that everyone deserves to feel good in movement & have access to it. The deeper I got into the fitness world, the more I realized how much negativity and toxicity there was. It really opened my eyes to how much that affected me growing up. It has also been really healing for me to face all of that.
  5. I know that you have touched on this a little in your podcast, but for those who haven’t listened, what was your relationship with food/fitness like as a young girl, teen and in your college years?Complicated. I was always really small, don’t get me wrong, but so many people made comments all the time. I didn’t have a great sense of self so because of that and the diet culture of the early 2000s, I put all my value into my size. I didn’t really see what else I brought to the table, so I became really obsessed with exercise and “healthy” eating.
  6. How did you get the idea for your podcast? I started opening up about my own body image journey on Instagram, and every time I did, people just seemed to relate so deeply. It made me realize how much we deal with silently as women. I wanted women to know they’re not alone in the struggles they face – whether it’s something silly like facial hair or deeper like body image issues.
  7. What does a typical day look like for you right now? I’m pretty boring! I’m a personal trainer at Life Time Fitness, so most days I’m there training clients and teaching classes 6am to 3pm. I’ll squeeze a workout into my shift, but when I’m out I decompress with a walk with the pup. I’ll catch up on whatever I need to – podcast things, my body image coaching group, or any continuing education I’m doing. Then it’s just cooking dinner, watching Netflix with my husband, and reading in bed.
  8. I know that you have talked about some current changes that are in the works. Can you share any sneak peaks with us? I mostly just want to lean in more deeply into the meaning that I described above – connecting women & helping everyone feel seen! But a new name, cover art, etc are coming! I just need to sit down and do it, haha!
  9. What advice would you give your younger self? Get to know yourself! Stop looking for value in your body size or attention that guys give you. You’ll find it by spending time alone!
  10. What advice do you you have for young women trying to get into the fitness industry? Spend time exploring different pockets of it, and find your people! Then just soak in as much education you can. Learn from other instructors/trainers – what things you like or don’t like that they do. Then through that create your OWN style. Be you!
  11. Finally, this may seem a little out of left field, but since we are in the month of January, I have to ask: what is your approach to New Year’s resolutions? You don’t have to change your whole life!!!!! If you are going to set one, start SMALL to create sustainable habits. And really ask yourself why you want to set that resolution. What will it bring it your life? Personally, I like to make a vision board and set some intentions for the year!

Thank you so much to Amanda for taking the time to speak with me! Follow her on Instagram (@amanda_driscoll) for fitness inspiration and ideas, as well as all things anti-diet culture!

Women's Topics
November 13, 2022

New Blog Series: Fearless Females

I would like to introduce a new series that has been swirling in my mind for a while now. As I was a Gender/Women’s Studies major in college, I am all about women’s empowerment. I think society needs that more than ever now, given what is going on in the world and our country. I hope to feature a new woman monthly who is killing it, hoping to inspire. 

First up, I want to feature Christina Orso (@christinaorso on Instagram), who I have admired via social media for years, and had the pleasure of meeting once (along with her cute dog, Marty, who was an adorable little puppy at the time). 

Christina has her own marketing business, and was kind enough to answer some questions that I asked her about her background and business:

  1. Let’s start at the beginning! I see that you went to the College of Charleston, but you grew up in MA, correct? As a kid/even in college, what did you see yourself doing professionally? What a great question! I went through many stages of career aspirations. I first remember wanting to be a secretary (now called an executive assistant) because my Grammy was one and I loved using a typewriter. Then I wanted to be a brain surgeon. By the time I got to college I considered pharmacy but ended up graduating with a degree in Spanish with the intent of working as a medical or legal translator.
  2. I see that you used to run a blog, “Healthy Meets Healthy;” was this the main impetus to getting into marketing and social media as your career? I started my blog as a way to chronicle my adventures around Charleston, most of which were centered around eating and working out. I quickly realized that I enjoyed writing and had a knack for using social media as a way to garner attention, whether that meant for my blog or for a business I was collaborating with. I didn’t even know at the time that I was teaching myself marketing skills along the way. Over the years I realized I wanted to work in a marketing role within the restaurant industry, and that is how I ended up at Boston Burger Company.
  3. You said that you moved from Charleston to Boston for your career. Can you discuss more about how you made this decision, and how it was a good shift for your career? I left Charleston for a couple of reasons, but one in particular was because I didn’t feel like I could grow in such a small town. Boston is a vibrant city full of opportunities and I knew that I would have a better chance of landing a gig that was a better fit for me.
  4. How were you able to garner your marketing, photography and social media skills? Were you self-taught, on-the-job learning, etc.? What resources do you recommend? I learned everything I know from having to figure it out. I’m a very curious person and when I’m passionate about something, I spend the time to make sure I can learn as much as possible. I’ve taken a bunch of online courses and learned a lot from my blog and previous positions. The internet is full of great resources like Skillshare, YouTube, and a bunch of other online course networks.
  5. You said that while working at Boston Burger Company, you were quickly promoted, and started taking clients on the side. This sounds like it was an “aha” moment for you; you really felt like you were in the right career. Can you speak to this? How far were you out of college at this point, if you don’t mind me asking? I started working for Boston Burger Company’s restaurant group when I was 30, so pretty far out of college. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, but also how I could do that within the industry I wanted to be in (food & beverage). I was lucky enough to land a sales (ish) type of role at BBC, but after expressing an interest and a skillset on the marketing side, we were able to create a brand new role for me. I was working as the marketing director for the restaurant group for 5 years before I decided that I wanted to work with multiple restaurants, which is when I started my business.
  6. Could you please you speak more about the decision to go out on your own with your business? I had gotten to the point where I wanted to work with multiple brands in a more specific, focused way. I also wanted more flexibility and freedom. My former boss was the biggest motivator for me starting my business. It sounds funny, because at the time you’d think he wouldn’t want to let me go, but I was able to flip them into my very first client.
  7. What are your favorite things about having your own business? What are the challenging parts? My favorite aspect of owning my own business is the flexibility and freedom. I am not stuck at a desk in a traditional 9-5 role. The sky is the limit when it comes to making money versus in a salaried role where there are usually caps. The most challenging part is managing client expectations and communicating with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis. At this point, most of my clients have been with me for several years so I have great relationships with them.
  8. What is your advice for anyone wanting to start their own business? Have a clear plan on what exactly it is that you’ll offer and who your target audience (ideal customer) is. Clear, detailed contracts are crucial. Start a separate bank account and credit card. Be organized with tracking revenue and expenses and get a great accountant.

Thank you so much to Christina for taking the time to answer my questions and helping me kick off this exciting new series! Please visit her website. If there are any females out there killing it that you would like to nominate for the upcoming months, please DM me on Instagram!

Feel-Good
October 4, 2022

Top Three Things to Look Forward to: October 2022

I can’t believe how fast September flew by! Well now it’s October; the first FULL month of fall, meaning that we are in full-on cozy autumn mode! Read on to see what I am looking forward to most this month!

  1. Apple picking: We plan on traveling up to New Hampshire in a couple of weeks to partake in some ye olde New England apple picking! I grew up going apple picking, and have pretty much gone every year, but with our wedding being in October last year, it just didn’t happen. We are excited to get back into the tradition. Do you have any apple recipes to share?
  2. Weekend of October 21-23: Okay, there are two very important dates on this weekend-a BOGO, if you will. The first is Taylor Swift’s new album, Midnights, is to be released on October 21! I cannot wait. Swifties, have you been following Taylor divulge her track list on social media? THEN, on October 23rd, Nick and I celebrate our first wedding anniversary!
  3. Halloween: My two favorite holidays are easily Halloween and Christmas! I just love spooky things, but not too scary; I cannot watch a horror movie without overwhelming anxiety. A highly underrated fun Halloween movie, in my opinion, is Double, Double Toil and Trouble (yes, the one from 1993 with the Olsen Twins). It will give any millennial ALL THE NOSTALGIA. Also, Will from “Will and Grace” plays the dad. You’re welcome for the suggestion.

Once again, thank you SO MUCH to @jenneycee for her photography! What are you looking forward to most this month!?!?

Feel-Good
September 5, 2022

Top Three Things to Look Forward to: September 2022

Hello there, friends. I recently was looking through my blog archives, and I honestly can’t believe how much I let this go; it makes me sad. But I think we can all relate; life just gets so busy. I am not a huge Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fan, but I think the famous quote “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” perfectly encapsulates the hustle and bustle of our everyday adult lives.

That being said, I really want to re-allocate my time to rebuilding up my little space of the internet. Given that it is fall, I think it is the perfect time to do that…which segues perfectly into the topic of this post…Top Three Things that I am looking forward to this month!

  1. Fall! Unofficially, fall kicks off after Labor Day, though the official first day of fall is September 22nd. Fall is my favorite season, it’s just so cozy. This is a big reason we decided to get married last fall; I always wanted a fall New England wedding. To me, fall signifies a season of renewal. As any fellow Swiftie knows, Taylor Swift says in her song, “Innocent,” “you’ll have new Septembers,” signifying that that September means new beginnings. Think about when you were a kid: it was a new school year, and a fresh start. Leaves fall from trees, to make room for new growth, changes and new opportunities. On a more surface level, I am obsessed with everything pumpkin-flavored or pumpkin-scented. Do you have any pumpkin product recommendations?!?!
  2. Guilty TV Pleasures: I am a true believer in self-care, and that includes humorous, nonsense TV. As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of the The Real Housewives franchises. Though I was skeptical at first, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, is now one of my favorite Housewives franchises. The trailer for this season was released this past week, and this season looks amazing. Further, I am curious to check out Bravo’s new series, Real Girlfriends in Paris, which premieres tonight!
  3. “I Put a Spell on You”….One of my favorite nostalgic movies is Hocus Pocus. I remember it coming out when I was a kiddo. I love Halloween but can’t deal with actual scary movies. It is so cool that the original movie was set and filmed in nearby Salem, MA. The movie premieres on Disney+ on September 30! I plan to watch it with my friend Caroline. I am super interested about the storyline of the sequel, considering only a handful of the original cast will be back; the Sanderson sisters and Billy, the zombie.

Also, huge thank you to @jenneycee for taking this pic! What are you looking forward to this month? I would love to hear!

Feel-Good/ Health/ Noteworthy/ Women's Topics
November 15, 2021

Life Lessons since 2012

During COVID, my plan was to get back into blogging. Instead, I spent my time playing music (thank you to my amazing long-time guitar teacher, Steve Marchena, for teaching me all those folklore and evermore songs!). I also reconnected with my awesome former voice teacher, Laura Vecchione.  In addition, I took two grant writing courses, earning a Certificate in Grant Writing. I also embarked on a job hunt. During COVID, I  also recognized the importance of exercise for my overall health during this time (that will be for another blog post), so unfortunately, I had to put blogging on the backburner. 

One of the biggest updates since last December…I got married three weeks ago! A lot of work goes into wedding planning, which is another reason I was absent from the blogging world. Despite the pre-wedding craziness, It was such an awesome day! After postponing a year due to COVID, I feel so lucky that I found my partner, Nick,  and that we got to celebrate with those closest to us. 

As you may know, I am a huge Taylor Swift fan, and she re-released her Red (Taylor’s Version) album this past Friday. Taylor and I are the same age, so I feel like we have grown up together, as crazy as that sounds (we’re besties, she just doesn’t know it!). The original Red release date was October 2012, during my last semester of college (I graduated mid-year), so almost ten years ago. I was in such a different place then, and have such a different perspective on life now. So, I have to say, the majority of this album is a complete juxtaposition to how I feel now. The thing is, the “highs” in life (like marrying Nick) wouldn’t feel so high without the lows. And that applies to all areas of life. 

Watching the 10-minute “All Too Well” short film brought me back to where I was in my life in 2012, allowing me to reflect on what I have learned since the album’s original release. So, in honor of “Red (Taylor’s Version)”, here are life lessons that I have learned, signifying the nine years between the original release of Red and Red (Taylor’s Version):

  1. Have an outlet for when life gets messy: Whether it is religion (I started going back to church), or an inspirational person (I am looking at you, Cody Rigsby), it is so important to have something that provides you comfort and allows you to think about your circumstances differently. 
  1. Live in the moment: Taylor’s song “22” from Red particularly reminds me of college, “we’re happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way. It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah.” Looking back, I wish I had lived in the moment more back then, because the reality is that adulting is hard and you’ll soon be buried in responsibilities. 
  1. It’s okay to not have a life plan sometimes: Uncertainty feels very anxiety-provoking in the moment, but the truth is that nobody knows exactly what the future holds. It is ok to slow down, and take some time for yourself before figuring out your next step.  
  1. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea: Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s ok. It is okay for people not to like you; that is why we are all different. So don’t let one person’s opinion of you get into your head and make you feel down.
  1. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, either: Similarly, you aren’t going to like everyone, and that’s okay, too. You should still treat people with respect and kindness, but you don’t have to be their best friend.  
  1. On a related note, stand up for yourself: Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” Be confident in what you bring to the table, and don’t let anyone treat you poorly or manipulate you. Be assertive. This can look like asking someone not to speak to you in a certain manner. If a relationship no longer serves you, perhaps you don’t need it in your life at all. Looking back in some of my romantic relationships and friendships, there is some behavior I am not even sure why I put up with. I recently listened to my friend Amanda Brabec’s “Build with Brabec” podcast, and she said the same thing. Like, what were we thinking giving some of these guys our time!?!?
  1. Work is important, but it’s not your whole life: Is it important to have a career you enjoy, and work hard? Absolutely, but you also deserve friends, hobbies and fun. 
  1. We are all busy, but it is important to stay in touch with people: Staying in touch is something that gets harder as life gets busier, but if both people aren’t putting time and energy into a relationship, then it just won’t work. All relationships are a two-way street and take work. 
  1. Treat yourself with kindness: So often we talk to ourselves in self-deprecating ways that we would never talk to a friend! Treat yourself as your best friend, appreciate your alone time and practice regular self-care. 

What lessons have you learned since 2012?

Feel-Good
December 28, 2020

Fun and Easy Wedding Planning with Basic Invite-Guest Book for Wedding, Invites, and More!

As I previously mentioned, I was supposed to get married in November 2020. Like many couples, we had to postpone our nuptials, due to COVID. Now that we rescheduled our big day for October 2021, I am getting back into planning mode.

Before COVID, we had already booked the church, reception venue, and DJ, and we were luckily able to shift dates without a problem.

So, to get back in the swing of things, we took engagement pictures in October (we wanted to get an autumn background). If you are looking for a photographer around Boston, I highly recommend Liz Stefani Photography (@lizstefaniphotography on Instagram).

Next stop: Basic Invite. I previously have written about Basic Invite, but I wanted to share the cool wedding services and materials that they offer! Basic Invite offers online invites, Seal and Send wedding invitations, Save the Date cards, a guest book for wedding, free wedding printables, free wedding websites, as well as various items for your rehearsal dinner, Bridal shower, or Bachelorette party. They even offer thank you cards that you can send to your guests after the big day.

In terms of online invites, they are completely customizable-there are over 180 color options, as well as multiple sizes and shapes to choose from. And don’t worry, you can preview your online invites before sending them out to your guests! There are so many different choices, that you should have absolutely no trouble finding a design that speaks to you.

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Through Basic Invite, you can also get a guest book for wedding, which is something that you can always remember your special day by. I love traditions, and a guest book is a great one. You are able to order a sample guest book, so you know what you are getting before you receive the final version. Like online invites, there are almost unlimited color options. There are even different themes. For example, you can get a guest book with a nautical theme for a Cape wedding.

guest book for wedding

I am so excited to order our wedding materials from Basic Invite. Are there any other couples out there getting married in 2021? How is your planning going?

Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

Feel-Good
December 9, 2020

My Three Favorite Things about the Holidays

This year did not go as expected, but there is a lot to be thankful for. Well into December, the holidays are right around the corner. I admit that I am not feeling quite as festive this year, but I have been listening to some Christmas tunes to try to get into the spirit. Even though this will not be a typical holiday, there is still plenty to look forward to. Here are three of my favorite things about this season:

  1. Christmas songs: As I just mentioned, holiday music is a great way to get in the Christmas spirit. Just throw some on in the car or while you’re taking a stroll (Spotify has numerous playlists). My current favorite? “O Holy Night,” by Sons of Serendip, who are Boston-based and appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2014. Singer Micah sang this acapella at Christmas mass last year, and it was amazing!
  2. Snow: There is nothing like a white Christmas. Being in New England, getting snow around Christmastime is always magical. Something about the snow is so peaceful and cozy.
  3. Christmas movies: I have so many holiday movie favorites; there are too many to name! I remember growing up and watching Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and others. Does anyone else remember those movies?

What are your favorite things about the holidays? Do you have any recommendations for further getting into the spirit!?!

Thank you to my friend Jenny, who took this beautiful photo of her decorated home!

Noteworthy
November 30, 2020

Adulting 101: The Home Buying Process

As I have mentioned before, I am currently engaged. We originally were going to get married earlier this month but postponed until October 2021. Anyways, given that this major #adulting event is on the horizon, I have started to think about other major adult events-there is one happening right now in my own family!

My sister recently purchased a home with her husband in our hometown. Also, a few of my friends have begun to buy properties. I was curious as to what goes into the house-buying process, so I reached out to my sister with some questions. Here are some things to consider when it comes to the house-buying process

1. Why should I buy a property, rather than rent one?

If you own a property, you don’t have to worry about asking a landlord about renovations or painting. We also wanted a property with our own yard and space, so we did not have to worry about potential disruption from neighbors. We are really looking forward to decorating.

2. How did you and your partner decide on a comfortable budget?

We created a spreadsheet that summarized our monthly income and spending expenditures. This allowed us to find a comfortable budget.

3. Can you walk us through the buying process?

a) I definitely recommend having an app like Realtor.com, Zillow, or Trulia on your phone. I literally would check every day to see what homes come on the market in our areas. I found that homes usually come on the market on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Also, if you have a real estate agent you are working with, they can set up MLS listing emails that will come to you every time a home comes up with your desired parameters.

b) If you see a house you like, go to the open house. Usually, they are on the weekends. If you have a real estate agent, see if they can get you into the house early before the open house.

c) Once you get to the open house, take your time. This may be your only opportunity to look at the house (which is crazy), so look inside kitchen drawers, look at foundations, look in basement ceilings/walls for any signs of asbestos or mold. Be diligent. We often preferred to look at houses twice before making an offer. Do not be afraid to ask your agent to make a second appointment.

d) If you like the house, speak with your agent about making an offer. Hence, it is best to have an agent to work with. You may literally only have a six-hour window to decide if you would like to make an offer. So, your agent needs to be someone who you trust and who knows you’re looking for. You also want someone who really knows the market well in the area you are looking.

e) Before putting an offer in, you need to have a mortgage pre-approval letter from a mortgage company. Again, this is something your real estate agent can help you with. So, once you are serious about buying a home and know your budget, I would get this set up right away because it will take some time and it cannot be done at the last minute. Also, you may want to talk to a few mortgage companies to ensure you are getting the best rate.

f) Decide with your agent how much you are offering on the desired house. The paperwork can be done digitally but will take about 2-3 hours. You may also want to add a personal touch and write a note to the seller about your love for the home.

g) Your agent takes it from there. You may need to negotiate with the seller or if there are other buyers you may end up in a bidding war….Fingers crossed for good luck!

h) If your offer is accepted, you will need to provide a deposit check, usually for $1,000 to the seller’s agent.

i) You have a certain number of days to complete the home inspection. If something significant is found, you can back out after the home inspection and receive your deposit back. Have your realtor walk you through this.

j) After you accept the inspection and make it clear that you wish to move forward, your realtor will put you in touch with an attorney, who will draft the Purchase and Sales Agreement. At this point, you will be asked to pay a down payment.

k) Then, the mortgage company will go to the house and appraise it. Make sure to purchase homeowner’s insurance in the meantime, as you will need it before closing.

l) Closing is about a month to two after the purchase and sales. After some signatures, the house is yours!

4. How is the buying process different during COVID-19?

Right now, the open house process looks very different. Sales in Boston suburbs have become even more competitive, which we did not anticipate. Many homes we looked at and put offers on went for at least 60,000 dollars over asking and had multiple offers (as many as 15!). Also, in most cases, you need to have your agent sign you up for a time slot during the open house. You will have 15 minutes to look. That’s it. You may also have to sign a release form saying that you do not have Covid-19 symptoms and will have to wear a mask, sanitize and maybe even wear disposable booties and gloves.

5. What other tips do you have for potential home buyers?

Definitely explore the area before you decide to make an offer on a property! Also, know that your bid will most likely be rejected numerous times before being accepted.

Thanks to my sister for providing me with insight into the momentous adult event of purchasing a home. For anyone who is moving or looking to move, please be sure to check out Fresh Start -The Moving Crew. They are based out of Worcester, MA, and serve all of New England. They can help you with all of your moving needs. Established in 2012, they are licensed and insured, which saves you in case of any mishaps. If you need help packing and moving in Worcester, they are a go-to.

Thank you to Fresh Start -The Moving Crew, for sponsoring this post. All views and opinions are my own.

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