Friendship Breakups: The Real Heartbreak

Hello Lovelies,

It has been a while since I have consistently written here, and the main reason why is I keep contemplating this article. Several months ago a friendship I thought would last into old age crumbled.

Losing a friendship, like a best friend, honestly hurts more than losing a partner or significant other. They probably aren’t the person you thought to marry or raise children with, but they were the person who played “wedding” with you when you were five. They were the person who dialed prank calls to your crush for you, or who put together your 21st birthday party. This friend is the one who was on your wedding party list and who you envisioned seeing for multigenerational play dates, and hopefully, the person you would play Bridge with in your final years.

When a foundation like that, that seems so sturdy having lasted through various seasons and built on your favorite memories, is simply no longer there, you are also broken.

Growing up I was always the type of person to have no more than one or two good friends at a time. Groups were rarely my thing, friendships usually took their time to grow, but I like to say I always mated for life. When I moved for college, I set out on a mission to have a well rounded social life with friends corresponding to whatever group or activity I liked. I have mentioned this in previous blog posts but long story short the desire to do everything and meet everyone led me to stretch myself way too thin and it ultimately affected my overall experience.

So back to the whole “mating for life” thing: I got that phrase from an episode of Greys Anatomy describing Cristina Yang, and for anyone who knows Sandra Oh’s character, that is how I am as a close friend. I do not need many friends, I serve a more supporting role, and I show respect by simply being there. (Or so I think.)

Maybe this is why friendship breakups hit me the way that they do. I am the type of person who takes relationships seriously and is very deliberate in expressing my energy and when that is not matched I feel lost.

Years ago, the first time I saw a friendship end, this person cut contact with me and many other people they knew citing “toxicity” as their only reason. At first I was deeply offended to be considered “toxic” but later I realized that “toxicity” in a friendship does not necessarily one or both parties is “bad,” it can simply mean the relationship is not beneficial to at least one of them. So, with that in mind, I went on a mini journey last year to detox my life and that led me to the breakup I think about now.

There were elements of the relationship I knew were hurting me, but I struggled to address them with myself and within the relationship. Before the end I wondered if boundaries would help what I was feeling, or maybe I could accept the relationship as a friendship only meant to last a certain season, and that would be ok. We all have those kinds of friendships, that did not end negatively, where you simply live different lives but still care about each other from afar. So that is what hurt the most: the fact that I saw this friendship developing into Christmas Cards and Facebook likes rather than pretending to be strangers.

If you got anything out of this article, cherish your friends, accept when a relationship only lasts a season or two, do not ghost, and stay tuned for an upcoming article on healthy friendships!

Xx,

A

Cincy Spotlight: Creative Indoor Content With The Neat Suites

This blog post is sponsored by The Neat Suites. Thank you to their team for hosting me!

Hello Lovelies!

With the unpredictable late winter/early spring weather, I have been looking for new creative ways to shoot outfit content without needing to venture out into the cold. So, This past weekend Con and I got to do a mini staycation at The Neat Suites where I batch-shot a ton of content for upcoming campaigns!

Unique Indoor Photo Locations

We stayed at the Pickle Factory Hotel, the cutest small getaway with a variety of unique and interesting themed rooms, perfect for any aesthetic!

This is the perfect way to combine the popular staycation idea with a fun solution for many content creators. You can start your stay with indoor shoots, utilizing every picturesque corner, and then end the night with some relaxation! With a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area, you can get almost all the lifestyle content you need all inside. When we stayed at the Neon room in the Pickle Factory Hotel, it actually started to downpour right when we got in – so you could say that is perfect timing!

The Kitchen

Possibly my favorite space with all the cute detail! And even in a small, Skandanavian-inspired space there are still plenty of features and necessities for your stay.

Living Area

All the neon light dreams here! Con and I cozied up on the couch to catch up on our favorite shows from the week for the perfect night in – not pictured: all the fun snacks!

Bedroom and Bathroom

I especially loved the adorable bathroom setup, perfect for skincare flatlays and other beauty content. Also the whole studio was set up with the best indoor lighting!

And the Pickle Factory is not the only space perfect for a staycation photo shoot! So, if you are looking for Cincy lodging, a staycation destination, or a killer photoshoot location, book with The Neat Suites here!

xx,

A

Size Exclusivity In Winter Sports

all products mentioned in this post will be shoppable at the bottom!

Hello Lovelies!

Apparently I am too fat to ski, and this discovery brings me to a very new topic for the blog: winter sports and why the heck it is so hard for plus size people to participate in activities like skiing. Like riding a roller coaster, traveling on an airplane, or scuba diving, the gear, like seatbelts or clothing, is not designed for all body types.

This year will be my first time skiing. Con and I will be taking a trip and I am so excited but also hoping to prepare as much as possible for any size-related obstacles when we are there. Fortunately for you, I have done the research on where to find gear, what to ask for at rental shops, and how to have fun! In this post I will share my favorite skiwear brands and discuss tips on how to handle these situations yourself.

Ski Pants

For any person with hips this may be the most challenging part of the ordeal, as I notice (1) most pants are cut narrow and tall and (2) for women’s sizes especially they do not have as large a range as would a jacket or parka. For example with most retailers you can find up to an XL or XXL in pants but for jackets you can find at least one more size up.

What truly fooled me size wise was reading the size charts and figuring out what to order. I assumed one would need to size up one size, but when looking at both North Face and Columbia, two popular snow brands, I not only needed two sizes larger than what I normally wear, but even going based off of my own measurements that still did not match the size I needed. Now I finally listed to everyone saying, “just size up and do not trust the chart!”

Here is what worked for me: a $50 bib from Amazon?! The brand is Arctix and I ordered my normal size based on the chart. They have a reasonable range and different length options as well! Once I tried them on I thought, ok thank God this works!

Parkas

Could I personally have made one of the afore mentioned popular brands work for my size in jackets? Yes. Would it have been uncomfortable? Yes. Thus based on my research, if you are not someone who fits into straight sized ski gear, I highly recommend Arctic again for budget friendly jackets and Ulla Popken for stylish options in a reasonable range. Both are linked below!

Other Gear

For the fun stuff: layers, hats and accessories, I am very excited by the new Chillside collection at Aerie! Reasonably priced for their manufacturing, my favorite leggings, tops, sweaters, and such are all from there so of course I highly recommend!

Other solid options for a variety of price ranges include: Ulla Popken (again), Uniqlo, and Sweaty Betty! These pieces are certainly easier to size so be sure to follow my recommendations below!

Rental Solutions

Oftentimes more difficult than finding fitting pants is finding rental boots! The plus size skiers I have followed usually purchase custom gear, but from my internet deep dive these are your options if you have trouble getting your calves in rental boots:

So most boots are designed for up to a 14 inch calf but can accommodate up to about 20 inches with a combination of extenders, heel lifts, and the miracle of a shop carrying bell shaped boot options. The tricky part with these solutions even if they work is it can making skiing more difficult by angling your calves in a way that throws off the desired weight balance on the slopes (i.e. you end up leaning too far forward and have to compensate with form).

Last Thoughts

The main thing here is I still have yet to ski! But I hope my anxious findings help encourage you to not sit in the lodge just because of your size. There are clothing options out there, you just have to find them! And hopefully this industry and other similar industries learn to make room rather than discourage people of all sizes.

To shop everything mentioned in this post, click here!

xx,

A

December Bucket List

Hello Lovelies!!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend! For Con and I, this is our first Thanksgiving as a married couple so we decided to create some of our own traditions in Cincy! We even tried out a new restaurant that hosted a turkey dinner, but then they ran out of turkey! With plenty of food and plenty to be thankful for, we spent much of the weekend practicing gratitude and remembering all the good that has happened in 2021.

Now that it is officially December, we have one more month to make this an amazing year and soon it will be winter (my favorite season btw)!! So, if you are looking for fun activities to get into the holiday/winter spirit, here are a few ideas! I’m titling this the “bucket list” because I hope Con and I experience each of these together this year!

Send Out Christmas Cards

This year we actually didn’t have time to put a typical card together, but we are sending our close friends notes in the mail for the season! Whether you are the type to go out and take portraits for a card to send out or not, I highly recommend finding a way to let your loved ones know you are thinking of them this season!

Get Creative With Handmade Presents

This is one of my favorite things! Rather than hit the mall for the people on my list, I like to get more personal and pick out gifts that fit their personalities – like buying gift card for experiences like spas or skydiving, arranging a basket of their favorite things, or whatever they love that isn’t normally at a department store!

Go Ice Skating

Ok I had to put something basic in here! One of my favorite date ideas is skating during the season, so if you are looking for something new or keeping up the tradition, get on the ice!

Spend A Day Focused On Gratitude

Yes, we just had Thanksgiving, but a new tradition for Con and I is setting aside time to thank people in our lives with cards or messages! This could also be a good time for simple reflection on the year focusing on just good things!

Go To A Local Holiday Event

See your town light up the local tree or find an open mic on a cozy night! The holiday season is the perfect time for local events especially for groups!

Find Easy Ways To Decorate Your Space

Living in a small apartment it can be hard to put up/store excessive decor, so this year we decided to put ornaments on our plants! Kind of a weird idea but if you want low-maintenance ways of getting festive try small trees or recyclable/storable decor like paper snowflakes!

Start A New Tradition

This may be a challenge but whether you are single, in a relationship, or have a family of your own – a great way to make this season special for you is to find things that make you happy and help you get in the spirit! A number of traditions I started for myself before meeting Con I still include today – like certain parties, baking specific dishes, or watching the same movies! Whether you are young or old, anytime is a good time to start a new tradition, especially if it gets you into that positive spirit!

Donate!

This is my favorite part of this season. As you know from previous posts, I love recycling and clearing out my closet regularly so the holidays is a great time to get a donation collection together. If not personal items you can also participate in canned food drives or volunteer to facilitate all the many donations going on in your area!

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned on the blog for fun upcoming content including size inclusivity with winter sports, gift guides, New Years goals, and more!

xx,

A

Wedding Registry Must-Haves For Minimalist Brides

images by Shea (@photo_ish)

Hello Lovelies!!

One of the most difficult parts of our wedding journey was actually the registry! Since Con and I decided to elope in such a short time frame we had no time to prepare a wedding website or anything before the big day, so in very covid fashion, we post-nuptially celebrated online with close friends and family! I remember during the wedding week everyone was asking us what to get and at the time I could not think of ANYTHING – we had already set up our apartment and since we had both been independent adults before getting married it felt like we had all the essentials.

When I finally had the time to sit down and compile a list of things that would make our new home feel complete, I realized what worked for us was sticking to functional items. We are not big on china or copper cookware. We live in a small space and wanted our friends to celebrate with us in minimal ways. So, in case you are looking for inspiration for your registry or home, here are my top must-haves!

1. The Dyson Vacuum

This is a bit of a given since I feel like this is on every registry EVER, but this was our top gift because we literally had no space to store a vacuum larger than this, so there you go!

2. All Clad Pans

There is a lot you can do with just two pans, so we decided to go with a high end brand for pieces we can use every day! For us these can function for anything from eggs to stir fry to pasta and everything we have learned so far!

3. Espresso Machine

This one has been life-changing!

4. Anything Yamazaki

Again, since we live in a small space we needed a few small space solutions so we added a few inexpensive items to mainly maximize storage without clutter. We found a lot of our pieces both with Crate and Barrel and Amazon!

5. Bowls That Can Also Function As Plates

These Anthropologie bowls are a perfect in-between for dishes served either in a bowl or plate, so you do not have too many pieces in your cabinets!

Bonus! Add in small inexpensive items throughout your registry – think of the items you would buy yourself but haven’t gotten around to – some of my favorite extras include cheese boards and honey pots!

This list may seem short but that is the beauty of minimalism, and I hope this inspired you for your future wedding!

xx,

A

7 (Not Basic) Fun Fall Activities

Hello Lovelies!!

This year something about fall just feels extra special. Maybe it’s the fact that it has not quite snowed yet, or maybe it is the promise of good food, good company, and cozy everything! So in honor of the season, here are some fun things to do that aren’t super basic but will get you in the spirit! Let’s get to it!

1. Make your own fall flower arrangement

In my recent exploration of the city I have been lucky enough to discover some new (to me) local flower shops where you can pick out your own stems and diy an arrangement! To make it extra fall I love using seasonal colors with dahlias, add something easy to dry like pampas grass, and make it smell amazing with a little eucalyptus!

2. Date Night At Home Using Farmers Market Finds

Ever since getting married Con and I both love experimenting in the kitchen for date night, and with all the harvest finds at our local market it is easy to get festive! One of my favorite new dishes is a nice filet with sweet potatoes and a fall salad!

3. Do A Fun Photoshoot!

This is my favorite!! Go to your fav coffee shop or find some leaves and just take some cute pics! Sure you can be basic but one thing I love is using fall staple colors like brown and creating something amazing with trendy outfits or capturing sweet moments.

4. Rainy Day Movie Marathon

We all have movies reserved for rainy days. Mine is definitely The Parent Trap, but this season could call for a change of pace, or something fitting like a Harry Potter marathon or your favorite scary thrillers! Break out the fuzzy socks and cinnamon lattes, it’s time for a cozy movie sesh!

5. Drive Through A Park

This is one of my favorites! If it’s chilly but you want to see the leaves change, hop in the car, play your favorite nostalgic songs, and look at the beauty around you!

6. Make Candy Baskets For Friends

This can be similar to a “boo-gram” but if you want to do something nice for your friends or neighbors in a contact-free way, try leaving them a basket of goodies! Maybe even make it an easy project by getting all your supplies at one store!

7. Bake Fall-Themed Cookies

Ok this one is a liiitle basic, but I had to! Con and I are currently eating some fall leaf-inspired sugar cookies and wow! It really is more fun having sweets around when you actually bake them yourself!

Thank you for checking out this list and I hope it inspires you to make the most out of your fall season!!

xx,

A

How We Planned A Whole Wedding In Just 3 Weeks

Hello Lovelies!!

I am so pumped for today’s Wedding Wednesday post! We just got back all the photos and are already re-living all the fun 🙂

For this blog post I wanted to answer some big questions while also offering inspo for future weddings!! First let’s break down how this all started! Con proposed July 25th 2021 (THIS YEAR!!) and in the first week or two weeks of being happily engaged and thinking about a wedding I quickly became very stressed over the location, guest count, and venue. The location and guest count obviously have to be decided with the venue, but for us we ran into the issue of too many location options. Con and I live in Cincinnati, my family is in Virginia Beach, his family is in New York, and we have vacation spots in the mountains of Virginia and Nantucket respectively. I had a hard time finding venues I liked – I knew I wanted something different and not like the typical church/banquet hall type setting, so we looked at different options in the areas mentioned. We also faced the issue of trying to decide location based on the guest list, but for us literally any location would be a destination wedding for the majority of our guests so then the ideas of how to make it work became more and more wild. At one point I was absolutely sold on the idea of a remote mountain location but how do we get 100 people up a mountain and also where does everyone stay (in this scenario lodging and food were definitely tricky) – so we had all those questions to answer!

Next, the venue issue – again I was not interested in doing a typical venue for starters. I was picky, but I also loved the idea of an elaborate backyard party and cutting out the venue cost. Another stress (and this was big) with this part of the process was the fear of putting money into a large event and losing it to covid. That exact week was when the delta variant started to change everything, venues were freezing their books, and the idea of even long term planning seemed unreliable.

Con and I originally thought of early 2022 for the date, but with all these questions and no clear ideas, we decided to just elope and MAYBE plan something far ahead. The date was August 12th and we initially thought we would elope just the two of us in Cincinnati. When we told our families the idea of getting married on Nantucket came up! We were already planning a family trip to celebrate our engagement so we said “Sure! Why not!” And that’s how our last second island wedding started!

We had exactly 3 weeks and started from scratch! Thank God our mothers spent every day calling and planning all the vendors. Yes, we thought we would just elope, but a week into the planning we realized we could pull off a micro wedding and again thought, why not!

Our Vendors

Con and I wanted a morning wedding and we also were willing to do a non-Saturday wedding which really helped us to plan and find vendors! Here’s a brief list of who we found and when!

The Chanticleer – one of the first things we locked down was a reception venue for our lunch after the ceremony. This also made for a great photo spot! We had a menu we planned ahead and the cake was delivered to the restaurant that morning.

Deb Lilly – our florist turned ceremony host! She was able to arrange all our flowers, create the wildflower vibe I requested AND she even offered her garden for our ceremony! Certainly made it easier to use that location and we had plenty of photo backdrops! The crazy forecast that week and complicated floral shipping certainly didn’t stop her from creating a perfect atmosphere! She also took those adorable shots of the flowers in the sink – isn’t that darling??

Emily Elisabeth Photography – our photographer who normally is crazy booked but lucky for us had availability right when we needed her! We also were able to find her early in the process so that definitely gave us peace of mind – it also helped that my sister in law follows the photography scene on the island and knew who was the best option. We had some lighting issues with how bright that day was and she was able to compensate for all that!

The Cake – We were able to find ONE cake shop to do the job, Nantucket Bake Shop, and luckily they were able to copy the aesthetic from some photo inspiration I sent them! We did a white almond cake with lemon filling and buttercream frosting for an end of summer vibe.

The Dress – This was definitely the hardest task for me – I went to several shops but anything I could get off the rack I would have to really alter, and that can take 3 MONTHS. Very quickly I was on a mission to find something ONLINE that somehow perfectly fit my body. Also the bridal sizing vs vanity sizing vs normal sizing bs was a nightmare on top of everything! Finally, the day before we flew to Nantucket, I rush ordered THE DRESS. It was a Mac Duggal gown from their latest summer collection. A white background with wildflowers, butterflies, and stars all around and SOMEHOW it fit perfectly when I was convinced it would be too small! I had it quickly hemmed and stuffed it in my suitcase!

The Music – my mother-in-law met Tim Perry at another event on the island and after many phone calls – and debates with our parents over classical vs modern music – we got a live musician!

Our Videographer – this was probably the craziest story of all! The day before the wedding I am sitting with my in-laws and mention “if we had video this would be perfect” that day they all scrambled texting everyone they knew on the island to see if someone they knew could at least hold an iPhone for our wedding (lol) and that evening my mother-in-law sent me the info for Andrew Cromartie – I texted him during dinner and that night, at 9:00 PM when the ceremony and everything would start at 9:00 AM the next morning, we hired our videographer!o

Through the whole process I was dumbfounded at how we pulled this off. I kept thinking “only crazy people call wedding vendors and say ‘no not next year, this week!’” And then I remember we really are that crazy!

So that is how this all happened and I can’t believe it worked! Thank you for reading our story and I hope this inspired you to have an atypical wedding!

xx,

A

The Best Body Positive Creators To Follow, If You Don’t Already

Hello Lovelies!!

The body positive community has encourage social media users for over a decade now, but with new platforms like TikTok, creators now have the ability to more quickly share new, raw experiences regarding diet culture, size-inclusivity, and gender norms as they relate to this ever-changing issue. For me, it is really important to maintain a “news feed” full of real people with amazing stories. So, here are some of my favorite creators and their stories to offer you new inspiration and encouragement!

@body_positive_bartender

Body Positive Bartender has a consistent lineup of body positive content and now uses her platform to speak out, share her raw story, and encouragement audience.

@shanewhalley

Shane started sharing his weight loss journey over a year ago but what is so powerful about his content is the overwhelming positivity to his videos. He also creates a space where big people feel they can do all sorts of normal things that diet culture has gate kept.

@spencer.barbosa

Spencer is a GEM! A lot of her following seems to come from the fresh, relatable energy she brings to each video, but her confidence and the way she strives to instill confidence in others is what put her on this list!

@deannagiulietti

It’s the CEO of the OO-Tah-Dah! Another informative queen who is supportive, encouraging, and extremely funny!

@thesophialiu

Sophia is such a real person and I love how she promotes a healthy relationship with your body. She also advocates for people who are unlearning diet culture and experience all kinds of appearance-related stress.

@raeannlanggas

Just an amazing person to look up to! Raeann is a curvy girl’s fashion blue print and I am so here for it!

@tylershealthylife

Tyler started his page to share his personal journey but it is so amazing to see how he’s built a platform to teach confidence and vocalize a variety of important issues with his audience. Love it!!

xx,

A

The 5 Things I Bought At The #NSALE

Hello Lovelies!

Every year bloggers go crazy over the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and if you look back at archives you would see I am also guilty! Since I started shopping the sale I have noticed it changes a lot: the dates, deals, all of it and it is a lot to keep up with.This year I have decided to shop smarter, so here is my very short, budget-friendly list of things to consider when shopping the #nsale! The reason why I am opting for a short and sweet article is because I am tired of influencers linking basically EVERY SINGLE ITEM and hardly buying ANYTHING. So to stay away from over-hyped deals, here is how I am shopping smart!

Last thing: to shop everything featured: shop here!

1. Repurchases

There are probably some sale staples you love and may want to buy again, so why not knock out any repurchases at the lowest price! Some good examples of products that are in the sale each year: laundry detergent, faux leather leggings, rain boots, and beauty products! If you plan on restocking, the sale is when prices will be lowest.

2. Fall Staples

For me this includes black pants/jeans. I gave away all my old pairs and need a little refresh. Also, if you need a new fall sweater or something interchangeable in your closet, why not!

3. Beauty Sets

My favorite this year is the Olaplex value set, and other good brands include: Anastasia Beverly Hills, Nécessaire, Supergoop, and La Mer! Make sure you like everything in a set before buying!

4. A Good Pair Of Shoes

Functional or fun, if you know you want new boots for fall now is the time! But remember if you have black booties at home do you really need 5 pairs?

5. Gifts Or Things For The Fam

Again, a lot of similar kinds of pieces come back each year, so if you know you will be shopping kids or mens for anyone in the next few months, maybe snag the better price now!

I hope this article offers some insight into smart shopping, getting what you need, and not getting overwhelmed with all the hype!

xx,

A

Stop Normalizing Eating Disorder Behavior On Social Media

Hello Lovelies!

We are getting a little serious with this article. This can be a sensitive subject, but I intend to avoid including any content that may be triggering like numbers or other things I can omit.

Triggering or glamorizing content regarding eating disorders has been all over the internet forever. Before, there was thinspo and all sorts of “pro ana” posts on sites like Tumblr, and now the same toxic energy exists in more socially acceptable packages. Maybe it is just our society’s tradition of encouraging body privilege or shaming fatness. But in 2021 this problem is more than this engrained norm, and the problems are even more difficult to identify.

Some Examples of General Triggering Content

For a lot of ED Survivors, certain terms or topics (as you may have noticed above) can trigger relapse into unhealthy behaviors. One example of a triggering piece of content could be the mention of weight or calories. I am not going to criticize every time someone mentions their weight or diet-related talk without content warning. Sure, there is nothing wrong with letting viewers know the content may not be for them, but that is not the primary issue. It is very normal to openly share goals and health-related progress, and it is never a bad thing to promote a healthy lifestyle, but what if people are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle? Or what if that unhealthy lifestyle becomes a mass trend?

More Serious Glamorizations Of Thinness, Dieting, and Overexersizing

There are so many forms of this online, but here are just a few examples:

  • celebrity diet trends like fit teas or appetite suppressors – think any “quick fix” ad.
  • before and after content, but instead of promoting a healthy relationship with your body or commitment to reaching goals in a safe manner, a lot of these trends or videos actually perpetuate the notion that people are prettier or more important when thin and therefore not attractive or special when fat.
  • any dark humor with references to eating disorder behavior – this certainly varies but it still can have a harmful effect on viewers

Why This Content Is Problematic

I have used the term triggering a few times in this article, but to better explain what I mean, I am going to define this term in the context above. When someone who struggles with an eating disorder is constantly fed information telling them that they will be happier or prettier if they have some crazy transformation like someone they see online, or if they always see ads for plastic surgery or diet pills, they are more likely to relapse into bad behaviors, give into the pressure of the content they see, or simply believe the lie that they cannot accept their body the way it is.

On a broader scale this content perpetuates fat phobia altogether, encouraging a culture where only thinness is attractive and anything else is just unhealthy.

Let’s Do Better

Last week Pinterest announced they would no longer support weight loss ads on their platform. This is HUGE. Opponents may find that this move promotes obesity or unhealthy behavior, but HEALTH IS NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Healthy eating, fitness, and the use of supplements or other lifestyle choices are all unique and are meant to be between a person and their physician, coach, dietician, or therapist and not the internet.

Let’s continue to move in the right direction, no more quick fixes or body shaming, just healthy mindset and healthy habits – however that looks for you.

xx,

A