Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What I'm Looking Forward To In 2020

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There are only 20 days left in 2019, can you believe that? I truly cannot. I started 2019 with a new home and being newly engaged so the year quite literally could not have started better! This year was truly filled with lots of happiness, hard work, and good fortune.

2020 is going to be a big year. Big might not even be a strong enough word!! So, I thought I would share some things I am most excited for in 2020 as they are fun to chat about but also to get you all up to speed if you are at all new to Summer Wind! 

Our Shower
Our shower will be the first thing to kick off 2019 which is crazy. I'm looking forward to celebrating our upcoming wedding with everyone. Although we've been wedding planning all year, we haven't really done anything in celebration since our engagement party in February 2019, so it will be fun!

Our Wedding Weekend 
I mean this is a big DUH, but I couldn't ignore it!! We get married in late spring 2020. We chose to have a longer engagement (over a year) so we could secure the church and venue that we wanted and with only a few months to go, I am so glad for this longer engagement period. We have been able to soak up every moment of being engaged and the wedding stress has been far reduced because we have been able to spread things out so much. 

I keep trying to picture the wedding weekend... I think about what it will be like, what things will look like, how I will feel, etc. I know it will go by like a flash! 

I will resume Wedding Wednesdays in the new year! If you are new hear and want to read past wedding Wednesdays, click here

Our Honeymoon 
This is going to be the longest trip we have both ever taken. We will be gone roughly 18 days which is a little nuts for me. I am a homebody that enjoys routine but I am SO excited for this honeymoon. It's definitely not a common honeymoon- I don't know anyone personally who has done a honeymoon like this. We actually weren't even planning on doing what we are doing. I had stumbled upon this idea and we both ended up loving it and running with it. I will share the details eventually but I think this will be a trip of a lifetime! 

Updating the Summer Wind Website 
This has been on my list for over a year now. With a big move and planning a wedding, I wanted to wait until I was able to give the updates the attention that they deserved so I put them off until 2020 after the wedding. Once that passes, I will have all of my time back! 

Turning 30 
I turn 30 on April 14th. Just typing that out is so weird. I don't think 30 sounds old, and it's not, but I don't think I feel 30 (whatever that is supposed to feel like). But, I will say ever since I turned 28, I started to feel much more like an 'adult'. This year, buying a home and being engaged has definitely made me feel as 'adult' as ever. I'm pretty sure (and hopeful) 30 is going to be a great year! 

Celebrating 1 Year In Our Home 
In April it will mark one year! I LOVE our home and I cannot believe we have been in this house for 8 months already. We are still nowhere near done with the decorating and all of that but we are slowly getting there. I am excited to finally be having our powder room wallpaper installed in January! 

Continuing My Fitness Routine 
I started Orange Theory in September and I truthfully thought it would be to just get in shape for the wedding. Before I started, I thought I would probably quit after the wedding. But no, I LOVE Orange Theory and cannot see myself stopping. It's become such a part of my daily routine and I truly feel so incredible. Not only do I feel good, but it lessens my stress and anxiety SO much. It's also amazing to see what our bodies are capable of, which sounds soooo cliché, I know. But already in just over 3 months, I've greatly increased the weight I am able to lift and the distance and speed I am able to run. I'll have an updated Orange Theory post likely in late January/early February.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers Under $25

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers Under $25
Today I'm sharing gifts under $25. Sorry for 2 guides in a row but I am getting SO many requests for the under $25/stocking stuffer ideas so I thought I would get this up as soon as possible. These all make great stocking stuffers but many are also very appropriate to give as gifts on their own! $25 price limit is a tough one but I also think opening a stocking is the most fun part of Christmas!

Tinted Lip Balm// This is one of my favorites (get the color rose) and reminds me so much of my favorite Dior lip balm- this is just much less costly!

Wet Brush// This is a product I've been using for years. It is so great for brushing your hair in the shower or post-shower or even at the beach/pool. 

Teleties// These are my favorite coiled hair ties. They hold my super thick hair well and keep their shape. 

Olay Daily Facials// These are my ride or die when it comes to washing my face. I have been using these non-stop for years. They are great for travel, too, because they are already dry, they can never dry out and you'll always have an easy way to wash your face on hand! 

Retinol Eye Cream// This is my latest favorite skincare product. I received a jar for a sponsored post and instantly fell in love. It's SO hydrating!

Hand Cream// I love this scent and this brand is so luxurious. I have been a fan of the brand for years and their products are wonderful. You can find a large selection of Molton Brown on sale, here.

Big Apple Red Polish// This is basically the only red polish I will wear. It's that perfect, bright, classic red!

Set of Kitchen Towels// You can never have too many kitchen towels. Ours get so grungy after a year or so of use, so it's nice to retire those as 'emergency towels' and get fresh ones every so often. 

Foil Cutter// This is a must for any wine-o! We have one and love it. 

Herend-Inspired Hand Towel// How cute is this? I just love Herend and this is something fun to give a Herend-lover without breaking the bank. 

Lavender Soap// This brand is newer to me as I was gifted some of their products a few weeks ago and fell in love with their lavender scent. So soothing! 

Gift Tags// How cute are these gift tags? So fun to have on hand and an inexpensive but personalized gift. 

Lip Balm// This is my favorite lip balm. I've used it for 10+ years. It works, it's trusty and it's cheap. I keep one everywhere. 

Sleep Mask// I love sleep masks and really rely on them so I like to rotate through a few. This one is so cute and you could even be really *extra* and have it monogrammed. 

Lip Liner// You have all heard me talk about this a ton. It's the perfect 'your lips but better' color so it's perfect for everyday wear. It's a 'liner' but I never wear it like that, I fill in my entire lips. It's really matte/drying so I like to put something over top of it like a balm or gloss. 

Peel Pad// These are the best and will truly change your skin for the better. The little kit is only $17 and with only a few treatments, you will notice a difference and become hooked. They reduce your pore size, get rid of acne, keep fine lines away and more. 

Custom Playing Cards// How fun are these? When I came across these, I just realized we don't have any playing cards in our house and I'm sure others are like that, too, so it would be a fun little surprise. 

Pearl Stud Earrings// The irony is that I have both beautiful real pearls and real diamond studs and yet I choose to wear the costume jewelry more. I am always so paranoid about losing them! These are a great costume stud and you don't have to worry about losing them. 

Small Blue and White Planter// How cute is this?! It's a mini planter for things like herbs and would look so cute on a windowsill. 

Body Cream// This is my favorite body cream. It's so rich but absorbs so quickly and doesn't have a fragrance. It's a no-fuss skincare product that literally anyone can use. 

Like I said, you can take some of these stocking stuffers and group them into inexpensive but cute gifts, too! I always like to take cellophane, a big bow, and a gift tag to turn it into a festive little present! 

Make full-gifts out of the Stocking Stuffers:
Small Blue and White Planter and a planted herb like basil or rosemary or mint!

See My Gift Guides Here:
Cyber Week Guides:

2018 Gift Guides that still have a lot of great items in stock 
Stocking Stuffers
Gifts for Coworkers (love this one!!)
2017 Under $100 (most items are still in stock)
2017 Under $100 (most items are still in stock)

Monday, December 9, 2019

Gift Guide: For the Pups

gift ideas for dogs and pet owners

This list is so fun for me to make because I absolutely LOVE shopping for Henry. It's something that brings me so much joy. He's 100% spoiled but he's just so good and so sweet, I can't help it!

These are all ideas for pups and pet owners. I love that my parents and aunt all give Henry presents, too, it's adorable and he loves it! So, if you are going to a house with a pet for the holidays, consider snagging something for their pet. It really means a lot to the owner and the pet obviously loves it, too. A lot of pet products are super inexpensive. They actually have a ton of name-brand toys at places like Homegoods and TJ Maxx, too, that are around $4! 

Dog Print// I just love this print and what a sweet reminder of the pups in our lives. 

Chinoiserie Dog Bowl// Henry has this and we LOVE it. Instead of being an eyesore like a lot of pet items, this is actually beautiful and blends in with our decor. Plus, Dana hand paints the name of your pet inside of the bowl. 

Elephant Storage Basket// This is another item we have in our master bedroom. We store Henry's 'upstair' toys in it and it's so cute sitting in the corner. I think it's probably meant to be a planter but works just as well as a little toy basket. It would be cute to use in a child's room, too. 

Puzzle Cube // In true Australian Cattle Dog fashion, Henry is SO smart. He needs to be mentally stimulated which is hard some days and especially hard in the winter when we don't go for as long of walks. I swear I have tried every toy under the sun to keep him occupied and active and this one is one of his absolute favorites as he tries to remove the balls inside of the 'cage'. 

Bow Collar// Henry looks so dapper in his bow collar! They have such cute holiday plaids but also some other non-holiday options, too! It's extremely high-quality for the price. 

Personalized Mat// We have a personalized mat for Henry and it's so sweet. It's also kind of necessary so he doesn't splash his water all over our hardwood floors! 

Vitamin Treats// We give one of these to Henry every morning. It is a vitamin treat. It's fun to be ablt to treat him and know he is getting nourished, too. 

Dog Bone Pillow// This is going to sound crazy but Henry loves his pillow. I know you're probably like 'how in the world do you know he loves it'. It looks/feels like a stuffed toy and he has not chewed on it or played with it like a toy. In fact, he moves it around on his bed to get it in the 'right' position for him. It's so funny. He also just oddly loves pillows. If he is in a bed, he lays his head on a pillow like a human would, ha! But seriously this is just such a fun little 'unnecessary' gift idea. 

Engraved Ornament// I got my parents a special dog ornament the year Mac passed away (last year) for Christmas and it is so special. Also a fun ornament idea for a newly adopted pup! 

Dino Nylabone// This is hands-down Henry's favorite toy. He loves Nylabone brand toys and oddly enough, he specifically prefers the dinosaur-shaped ones. My aunt gets him one every year and he goes nuts for it. Henry is a VERY heavy chewer and this is a toy that lasts him for months (which is so rare). 

Leather Dog Tag// This is one major sale right now (seriously $3), but Henry has this tag in blue and it's so cute. It's real pebbled leather and his name is embossed in gold. 

Cableknit Sweater// This cable knit is so stinking cute. I die for pet clothes and really try to limit putting Henry in them because I know he doesn't love them. However, sometimes it is truly frigid outside and a sweater/coat is a welcome layer. Henry has a coat and he truly doesn't mind it. 

Frame// I think this is so sweet and adorable. It's a simple, thoughtful gift idea. 

Scout Bag// We use this bag for Henry whenever we bring him anywhere. It's like his little overnight bag. It's small and you can get it embroidered. We got it customized with his name and what I like about it is that it's lightweight and a material that you can just wipe off with a wet cloth if it gets dirty.  

Custom Dog Socks// Fun story. Last year, my fiancé really wanted a Juju Smith Schuster jersey (a Pittsburgh Steeler player). I truly convinced him that I didn't get him it (because I don't like team jerseys in general so it was easy... but you know, I got him the jersey anyway... #truelove) and told him I got him the 'best gift ever'. For weeks, he kept joking and saying 'nothing could be better than a Juju jersey' and he could not guess what I got him. So, I had him open these socks with Henry's face on them and he was absolutely THRILLED. The smile on his face was the biggest I had ever seen. They're truly hysterical and kind of a gag gift but my fiancé thought they were the coolest thing ever and now refers to them as his 'Henry socks'. He says it was the best gift he has ever received!

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Service Sunday: Support Pet Shelters

Another Service Sunday! Today is a roundup of pet-related charities as I received a ton of information regarding all different types of charities. I absolutely LOVE that so many of you are also advocates for pets and adoption. Pet adoption is truly important to me and something I am passionate about. 

If you have been considering adopting a pet, and are able to afford it and take on the responsibility, I could not recommend it more. We adopted our family dog Mac (from Washington Humane Society) and he brought SO MUCH happiness to our family. He passed away in February 2018 and I miss him dearly. I adopted Henry in December 2017 and you all know how much I love my Henry. We rescued him from Tracy's Dogs.

A lot of shelters are way too full in the country. When you adopt a dog, you save two dogs. One because you leave a spot open in a shelter and two because of the dog you save. In our case, we saved 3 dogs: 1 spot opened up in the shelter, one spot opened up with Tracy's Dogs and we saved Henry. It's truly a wonderful thing you can do and I cannot even begin to put into words the joy and happiness Henry brings to our lives. We adopted Henry from Southern Texas where they have a severe stray dog population. This is because the dogs are not being neutered and spayed and just keep reproducing. It's a big issue and the shelters aren't big enough and simply can't afford to save them all so a lot of shelters are high-kill shelters. It's heartbreaking. Henry was literally saved from being euthanized in a south Texas shelter because of Tracy's Dogs. Tracy's Dogs was the organization that saved him from the kill-shelter and then they got him up to date on everything, socialized him, etc. and he then came to us. Seriously, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life. I was nervous about the cost and responsibility and in hindsight, I should have never been worried. 

However, I know not everyone wants a pet and a lot of you are probably like us: we personally cannot handle/care for more dogs at this time! But, there is still a lot you can do to help and make a difference. 

First, I am going to share the many ways you can help. It obviously differs from charity to charity, but these will give you a starting point to think of what you can do personally. Then, I'll share some local Pittsburgh non-profits (as those are the ones I received the most submissions for) but I'll also share some national ones that have been sent in by readers (and some that I already knew about, too). 

How You Can Help
Obviously, the first thing you can do is to donate money. I know a lot of people would rather volunteer or donate actual items and whatnot, but money in these instances can help SO much. A lot of the humane societies and pet organizations have high medical bills because of all of the animals they treat. Even just spaying and neutering is an expense. A lot of charities, which are INCREDIBLE, also will pay for your dog's medical bills if you cannot afford them. Also, with money, they are able to buy all the supplies they need! A lot of non-profits give you the option to make a monthly donation (which is what I have set up to do) and it is so easy and makes donating more money possible! 

Fostering dogs is another great option. I have never done this so I can't really speak too much about it but you are giving a dog a warm and loving home until they can either recover from illness or until they are adopted. A lot of sick dogs or older dogs simply can't be in a shelter and there are so many scared, emaciated dogs who would thrive in a warm and loving home. It's SUCH a selfless thing to do.

Donating items is an option at a lot of non-profits. Most websites have wish-lists of items they could use and I've seen some even post their Amazon wish lists so you can go on and so easily donate something they can truly use. You can also donate your old towels at some places... not all accept this but if you have old towels you don't use, consider calling around to see if any shelters in your area can use them! 

Volunteering is another great option! A lot of shelters and the like require training first, but a lot of times, if you just want to provide interaction and companionship, you might not need to go through all of the training. Dogs just want to be loved and human interaction enriches their lives SO much. Even just from being with Henry all the time- he always wants to be petted or played with and he even finds so much peace and relaxation when he just lays right up against me.

Local Pittsburgh Pet Non-Profits:

National Pet Non-Profits:
- Tracy's Dogs (where we got Henry!)
- ACDRA (this is a site I was heavily checking before I found Henry)

I also found this really great resource for a list of charities that will help you to pay for your dog's medical needs should you be unable to. It's great to donate to organizations like these but it's also great to share this resource if you know anyone that has an animal in need and can't afford the medical costs. Which, if you didn't know, can get crazy expensive- we had an emergency incident with Henry and had to take him to the emergency vet one year ago and we were fortunate enough to be able to afford whatever he needed but there are so many people who can't. I think our bill (for a one night stay and treatment) was over $1500!

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday Shopping

Happy weekend, friends! We are in Philadelphia this weekend for a wedding! This is our last wedding of 2019 and ours is next, AH!

I can't believe we are just about 3 weeks from Christmas, isn't that crazy? I've been, of course, browsing for gifts like a madwoman lately so I wanted to share what I have been loving from this week!
See My Gift Guides Here:
Cyber Week Guides:

2018 Gift Guides that still have a lot of great items in stock 
Stocking Stuffers
Gifts for Coworkers (love this one!!)
2017 Under $100 (most items are still in stock)
2017 Under $100 (most items are still in stock)

Friday, December 6, 2019

What I Listen To While I Work (holiday edition)

What I Listen To While I Work (holiday edition)

What I Listen To While I Work (holiday edition)
Pullover// Joggers (both c/o) 

A while back, on Instagram stories, I shared that I often play Wynton Marsalis (holiday) station on Pandora during November/December. I talked about how it is a great Christmas music station that can be played in the background as I work and doesn't disrupt or distract me. 

Since then, I have received countless DM's asking me to remind them of the music I had shared so I thought I'd share my big list full of great holiday stations for when you need to focus! 

These are all songs/channels/stations that I listen to when I need to get it all done. They're mostly calming and a lot of the songs don't have words. I can't work in silence!! 

- Wynton Marsalis Holiday Radio- A jazzy favorite on Pandora

- Kenny G Holiday Radio- Another station with jazzy vibes. I love Kenny G. It's a bit elevator music-ish but it's so good. 

- GRP Christmas Albums- There are 3 (on Spotify) and I grew up with them. They are not your traditional Christmas songs and a lot are jazzy/don't have words. 

- Vince Guaraldi Trio Holiday Radio- Another jazzy Pandora favorite... and of course A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi. Honestly, this should be at the top of the list. The. Best. 

- Miles Davis Holiday- Can you tell that I love jazz yet? 

- Home Alone Soundtrack- So classic and so cozy. 

- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Holiday Radio- This is definitely more classical and has Nutcracker vibes. 

- The Holiday Soundtrack- You can stream this on Spotify. I love Definitely Unexpected. Anything Nancy Meyers touches is brilliant- even if she didn't compose or produce this music, it still has that NM vibe. 

- The Grinch Soundtrack (the original)- It's basically the Original Grinch movie without the picture. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019


Holiday weeks are nuts but it's getting back into the swing of things post-holiday that is even nuttier. Cyber week is a doozy for me and most bloggers, so I am SO GLAD we have that behind us! Phew! Now this time period between Thanksgiving and New Year's is a bit wild because I always have to alter my routine a lot due to so many different variables. Lots of FUN things, yes, but I also thrive on a routine. The routine that I've had for the last several months is so good and I'm in such a good groove. So, I'm trying to keep things on track as much as possible this holiday season and carry this great routine and good habits into the new year.

This week was the perfect example of 'not on track', ha! I was sick Sunday/Monday/Tuesday and then our furnace decided to stop working on Wednesday. It was nutty but I'm glad everything is back to 'normal'. We are actually headed to Philadelphia for a wedding- it will be the last wedding of 2019 and we don't have another wedding until our own wedding in the spring (AH!).

I'm going to do a life update post because I have too much to post!

Wearing: One of my favorite cashmere brands, White and Warren, sent me this beautiful navy and cream sweater. You all already know my love for these cashmere wraps, but they also make so many other beautiful cashmere pieces. This sweater is so thick and chunky and the slight balloon sleeves are a great update on an otherwise classic silhouette. It is one of the nicest made sweaters I have ever worn.

Eating: This is an odd food preference of mine, but I LOVE creamed spinach. It's truly one of my favorite foods of all time. It's actually pretty easy to make, too. I try to limit myself from eating it because it's not exactly healthy with all of that fat, but I came across Aldi's creamed spinach and tried it because I was intrigued and it was SO GOOD. You guys. I went back to Aldi to specifically buy alllll of the creamed spinach. I literally bought 5 packages of it. 

Drinking: Have you guys tried this cranberry ginger ale? We discovered it years ago and love it as a festive cocktail mixer. It pairs nicely with vodka and you can garnish with a skewer of cranberries. The ginger ale is quite sweet (obviously) and I don't like super sweet/sugary cocktails so you can easily cut the calories and sugar by adding in the addition of Trader Joe's cranberry and lime seltzer and then just top off with the cranberry ginger ale. 
Sale-ing: These are the leggings I keep raving about on instastories. They are SO soft and remind me so much of my favorite lululemon wunder under leggings... except these are just $32. They run true to size, I'm wearing a size small. They wash wonderfully and I have worn them to Orange Theory many times now and they hold up so well. I highly recommend these! 

 Over the Thanksgiving holiday/long weekend, we watched the series, Safe, on Netflix and it was so good! A dad's daughter goes missing and it's a wild mystery that eventually reveals where she is. I highly recommend it and was a great show for my fiancé and me to watch together. 

Loving: I love Henry's bow collar. It really pops against his dark fur and anytime I see the bow it just gives me a chuckle. I have loved seeing all of you share your pups in the bow collar, too!

Loving II: Did you guys see the Stoney Clover x Loveshack Fancy collaboration? I love it and it definitely has early 90s Laura Ashley vibes. 

Wanting: These custom name hair clips are SO cute. You all know I can't resist anything personalized, but these are just so fun! I LOVE this cashmere sweater. It's so chic. 

Traveling: We are headed to Philadelphia for a wedding this weekend!
Recommending: I shared this Color Correcting Stick with you all on instastories and got a lot of questions! It's a peach stick that is meant to go on your under eyes before you apply your concealer. The peach color cancels out the purple/blue of under-eye circles. You then apply Concealer overtop of the peach color and your dark circles are gone. It seriously works and is worth every penny. 

Quoting: 'If it's out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind, too' // See more of my favorites, here. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christmas Pajama Tradition

Christmas Pajama Tradition
Print also comes in: Robe and Slippers (it's called Zanzibar Blue Ruff Night)

If you have been reading here for a while, then you know our family does matching pajamas for Christmas morning. It's such a fun little tradition and a good excuse for a new pair of PJ's! 

We've done everything from classic plaid to pink to skiers, and this year we are doing something extra fun. Looking at these photos cracks me up and brings me so much joy. I know we will look back on these photos with smiles from ear to ear for years to come. 

We ended up choosing the Lilly Pulitzer Pajama Top and Pajama Bottoms because we could include our dogs!!! Yes, Lilly makes Dog Pajamas and they are so cute. Henry is about to turn 4 and Bean just turned 3 and we love them with all of our hearts so it was such a fun thing to be able to include them in the photos with the Carver gals. 

This also marks the last Christmas that we are still technically 'the Carver girls'. In my heart, I will always be a Carver girl, but come spring, I'll have a new last name and my sister will have a new last name soon, too (she is engaged)! 

Trying to get a photo of the 3 of us is tough because my sister lives in North Carolina. But trying to get a photo of the 3 of us AND Henry and Bean was near impossible. I just have to include some of the outtakes down below. The dogs were all over the place, and we were trying to corral them. My dad is at the end of the bed trying to get the shot so it was truly a family affair going on. 

I thought I would also share some more cute pajamas for you all to check out. It's never too late to start a fun family tradition. It's especially fun when I break out pajamas from many years ago and it fills me with warm memories. 
Callie trying to get Bean to pose! Bean and Henry 'tolerate' each other but they mostly just ignore each other, ha! 

Here's Henry trying to escape my arms! 

Now I am not looking but everyone else looks great! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Your Guide to Giving Tuesday: The best ways to give this holiday season

Now that we've surpassed Cyber Week, it's time to talk about something much more important-- and really what the entire holiday season is about and that is giving. I've posted this for the past four years, and it is still very relevant. I really think that this day should come before Cyber Week because it's truly more important. Which, is why this year, I've been doing a Service Sunday themed post each Sunday throughout the holiday season. My goal with Service Sunday is to introduce you to Summer Wind readers who are doing good in the world and who also can teach us and bring light to great organizations we otherwise would not have known about.  I've updated all of the information as it pertains to 2019 and am linking to past Service Sundays for you to check out.

- Ronald McDonald House and Tracy's Dogs
- Plaid Pajamas Project
- GiGi's Playhouse
- Amen to Action 

Giving Tuesday is a day dedicated to giving. Give your time, your money, your love--whatever you have to give. It shouldn't just be today, but it's a worldwide effort to remind people to be generous. 

I've rounded up quick and easy ways (and not so quick and easy ways) to spread holiday love and cheer. How will you give this holiday season (and all year long)? Here are just a few ideas to get you started! 
Spread Love and Happiness:

Pay for someone's coffee or toll ticket behind you. It's harder to pay for the toll now that EZ pass is so prevalent, but coffee is so easy to do in line at the drive-through at Starbucks! 

Make packed lunches and hand them out to the homeless. Blankets/hats/gloves are other great items to hand out, too.

Volunteer to clean an elderly person's home. It can be challenging for the elderly to get around and many don't have the money for the help. You can also volunteer to drive them around so they are able to do their holiday shopping. Many don't/can't drive so even something as simple as this can be very helpful... bonus points if you take them out to lunch, too

Tip your waiter/waitress your full bill amount. Servers are often people who work the hardest, show them your appreciation this holiday season.

Hosting a holiday party? Most people bring small gifts for the host/hostess. In lieu of that, let everyone know that donations to ______ charity will be raised in honor of the holiday season!

Do you know someone going through a rough time? Send them a surprise that you know they would personally like to help them through their rough patch. Whether it's homemade dinner and a movie or even just a bouquet of flowers, simple gestures like this show you care and remind them that you are there for them

Say a prayer. Regardless of your religion or faith, saying a prayer for someone else. It is free and can help so much.

Take baked goods/hot coffee/hot chocolate to your local hospital/police/fire station on Christmas Eve/Christmas day. Nurses, doctors, firefighters, and police are some of the most important people in every community because they keep loved ones healthy and safe and many don't get to take the holidays off. Show your appreciation with this small gesture.

Instead of mass printed photo cards, think about sending out handwritten notes to your loved ones letting them know why you are so happy to have them in your life. It's time-consuming and extra work, but handwritten letters mean so much! We did Christmas cards this year but you better believe I wrote handwritten notes!!!!

If you have an Amazon account, remember to shop through Amazon Smile which automatically donates to the charity/cause of your choice.

Recognize those who help you on a day-to-day basis. For example, mailmen/UPS/FedEx/etc., coaches at your local gym, your neighbors, valet, doormen, etc.

Help businesses you love in your community by going online and reviewing them... whether it be on Yelp or Facebook, etc. It helps a lot and will support your local economy! Plus it only takes about 5 minutes of your time.

Be a mentor to someone. Whether it's professionally or personally, be someone that can help a person pursue their goals and dreams and guide them in the right direction. I have so many great mentors in my life and am so lucky to have them. I'm also a mentor to several and it is so much fun to cheer someone on while they are pursuing their dreams.

Do you know a family who just had a baby? Offer to babysit (for free) so that they can get their errands done and have some adult time (or even just so they can take a nap!).

Take on an in-kind project. For example, if you are a web designer and have some extra time, help design a struggling startup's website. Or if you're an accountant and know a family that is struggling, offer to help them create a great budget.

Give to Organizations:
Me, Dani, Kassy, Aly, and Will volunteering at Ronald McDonald
Ronald McDonald House
In the past few years, the Ronald McDonald House has really hit home for me. My fiancé's brother passed away from leukemia when they were growing up. To hear of the amazingness that came from the Ronald McDonald House is incredible and I donate to this cause several times per year. The goal is to provide families who have sick children in the hospital a place to stay for an extended period of time. This is so they can keep their other worries to a minimum so that they can focus on their child's health. At the house, meals are served daily, there are common rooms/playrooms for children, as well as each family gets their own private bedroom. The locations are very close to the hospitals, too.

Tracy's Dogs
I could sing Tracy's Dogs praises all day every day. They brought me my Henry and I will forever be grateful for that. Their website says, 'Over the last six years, TracysDogs has focused our rescue efforts on saving those dogs in South Texas with the greatest need - dogs in shelters with high euthanasia rates. Most have suffered some level of neglect, abuse, and/or abandonment. More than 4,500 dogs have been saved, rehabilitated and placed in loving homes throughout the country.' This is another organization that I feel very strongly about and donate several times a year. The work that they do is inspiring and to think Henry was ever in a situation of neglect, alone in a scary shelter, etc. brings me to tears any time I think about it.

I am a huge supporter of anything that provides warmth to those less fortunate. There is nothing worse than being cold during the winter and in Pittsburgh, the cold is unbearable at times. No one should ever have to be freezing. Another great idea is to bring your gently used outerwear to homeless shelters or places like Goodwill so those less fortunate can be warm this winter. Another great idea is to help a family less fortunate than you pay for their electric/gas bill in the winter months. Project Bundle-Up has helped 275,000 children and seniors since 1986!

Shriners Hospitals for Children
The organization raises money for children's Shriner hospitals around the country who provide care to children with no cost to the families, specifically burn care, orthopedics, cleft lip and palate, and spinal cord injury treatment and care. My dad and grandfather are both Shriners! They've helped over one million children in need.

Pittsburgh Food Bank
You'd be shocked to learn how many people in your own city are hungry. A super simple donation can save lives. You can even start your own food drive. For international donations, Lauren Bush Lauren's foundation, FEED, help those in need in other countries.

Washington Area Humane Society
This is a no-kill 501(c)(3) animal shelter and where we saved Mac, our Australian Cattle Dog- he passed away almost 2 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long), but he was the absolute BEST. I'm a huge dog person. If I could adopt all the dogs in the world and give them safe, warm, happy homes, I would. Since I can't, and most can't do that, adopting just one dog can help! If a dog is not for you, you can also donate your time or money to help! Another shelter in the Pittsburgh area is Animal Friends, which is also no-kill.

I am a huge advocate for pet adoption. There are SO many dogs who need good homes and giving the gift of a wonderful life for a pet is so selfless and wonderful. Although, adopting Henry was the best thing I have ever done and I'm pretty sure I benefitted even more than he did. When you adopt from any organization or shelter around the world, you are actually saving 2 dogs. You save the dog you adopt and the dog that gets that open spot in a shelter. If you go through an organization like Tracy's Dogs, you end up saving 3 dogs because you open a spot at the organization, too.

Meals on Wheels
This serves older Pittsburghers and those who are unable to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. It's a great organization and you can help by donating your time, money or in-kind donations such as food and/or kitchen supplies. Do you have elderly people in your life who could use the extra help when it comes to preparing meals? Cooking things like casseroles, pasta, etc. in big batches and separating them out into individual portions with cooking instructions on top can be a major help to those who are unable to provide for themselves.

I am constantly donating gently used clothing to Goodwill. There are many locations in Pittsburgh and Goodwill makes it very easy to donate. There are so many people out there who need warm clothing during the winter, and this is a great way to help your local community and even easier for you to get rid of the stuff you have just lying around.

Children's Hospital
One of the worst things is having something happen to one of your loved ones. It's truly heartbreaking. If you are a Pittsburgher, consider donating to Children's Hospital. There are Children's hospitals all over the country, so be sure to look up one near you if you are not in the Pittsburgh area.

American Red Cross 
They're always there when disaster strikes. Donate your time, money, blood, food, anything you can to help. You can even choose what you donate to.

Dress for Success
This is one of my favorite charities that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women. You can donate money, clothing or volunteer your time. You can drop off clothing with this information. Not only that, but they accept things like unused makeup, shampoo/conditioner and other personal care products.

United Way
There are so many ways that you can help the United Way of Allegheny County and there are so many ways that the United Way helps so many of the people in your local community. From children to adults to senior citizens, there are programs that support every member of the community.

Donate Your Old Smartphone
The Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh collects old cell phones that can help women who have been victims of intimate partner violence. Your old phone is probably sitting in a drawer somewhere and could be a big help to someone in need! Check out the Pittsburgh drop-off locations here.

Toys for Tots
Looking back on Christmases growing up, my sister and I were so fortunate to always wake up to gifts from Santa under our tree. Many are not that fortunate. Toys for Tots provides gifts for kids that may not have otherwise received any gifts for Christmas. I participated in this in college. One day I got to go pick up a child from his elementary school, and take him out for lunch and to shop! We went to Target and picked up all sorts of things that he wanted. When I found out he had a brother, we had fun picking out surprises for his brother, too! It was such a fun day and so enjoyable to see how excited he was!

If you are part of a charity or hold a specific philanthropic organization near and dear to your heart, leave the details in the comments so others can see and learn more! 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Cyber Monday Sales 2019 + Men's Gift Guide

Cyber Monday Sales 2019 + Men's Gift Guide

Happy Monday! It's always those holiday weekends that make me lose track of what day it is! I actually love getting back into a routine after the holiday week last week. I was sick yesterday and I'm glad to be feeling better today, too, so we are starting the week off on a good note! 

And speaking of a good note, this is the last big day for sales... and when I say that, you know that brands will still have sales to come before the holidays, but these are likely the deepest discounts you will find. After today, we'll get back to our usual content!

I'll be updating this post all day so keep an eye out! 

NYTimes Custom Football Book// I share this pretty much every year because it's such a cool and unique concept for the sports lover everywhere. I love a good personalized gift and this one is SO special. There is a birthday book version, too, which is really cool. 
Duffel Bag// I love the look of this duffel bag and you know the longchamp brand holds up so well over the years! 
Garment Bag// I love the matching garment bag- my fiancé needs a new one and this might just fit the bill!
Gucci Loafers// Such a classic
Cashmere Scarf// Another classic. I love when guys wear scarves and a solid cashmere scarf is something that will stand the test of time. 
Needlepoint Wallet// I got my fiancé a Goyard wallet when I was in Paris and he LOVES it... I think if you know a guy that needs a new wallet, it's always a nice gift to give. This needlepoint option is so cute and slim, too. 
Slippers// My fiancé loves these so much that he has two pairs. This is probably my #1 Christmas gift idea to give anyone on your list. How could you not love cozy, soft, warm, and well-made slippers?!
Gloves// My fiancé also has and loves these. They are slim and easy to throw on when he runs Henry outside or on his commute to work. 
Better Sweater Pullover// Another favorite from both me and my fiancé. They are such great pullovers. I wear mine skiing. 
Custom Dog Socks// I got these for my fiancé and he says they are the best gift he has ever gotten. He gets such a kick out of them and honestly, they're hysterical. 
23 and Me// I did 23 and Me and it was truly so cool. This is one of those gifts that you can get someone impossible to shop for. 
Airpod Case// Love the luxe look of this airpod case!
Leather iPhone Case// I have this iPhone case and love it. So nice and classic. It's monogrammed! 
Travel Coffee Mug// These are the mugs I keep sharing that are seriously $12! 
Grill// My fiancé is just dying for this grill. It's really $$$ for a grill, but he says it's amazing that it can smoke, grill, etc. all in one. 
Moisturizer// I got my fiancé hooked on this one. It's just a great, basic, everyday moisturizer. He has sensitive skin and so this is really great for him. 
Cologne// We both love this cologne! It's his go-to. 
Chino Pants// These are Andrew's favorite pants. He has an athletic build- he's about 6'2 and 200 pounds and has larger thighs so he has a tough time finding pants that fit him. These are perfect and comfortable and wash well. He has them in like every color. 
Hydroflask// This was on my own personal wish list this year and I just think it's a really nice gift for anyone. It's $$ but you're keeping your water cold and also using less plastic so it's really a win-win!
Personalized Golf Balls// I got these for my fiancé one year for Christmas and he was thrilled! 
Noise Cancelling Headphones// We both have these headphones and they are so nice. They're sleek and stylish but what is really good is the sound. It truly blocks out noise and the sound is so crisp and clear. I highly recommend them!

Lisi Lerch earrings
Abercrombie// 40% off entire site, You can see my try-on here
Barrington// $150 get 10% off, $250, get 15% off, $350, get 20% off. Code: THANKFUL
Club Monaco// 30% off everything, extra 40% off sale styles code: CYBERMONDAY
Dermstore// 30% off on 250+ brands. Get these peel pads. A holy grail skincare product of mine and what I will use leading up to my wedding. Code: DSGIFT
Jack Rogers// 30% off with code CYBER19
J.Crew// 50% off with code MONDAY and 60% off sale! You can see my try-on here
Lake Pajamas// A big sale of up to 45% off. Lots of styles included but shop fast because a bunch of styles have already sold out! 
Lisi Lerch// 30% off and $5 shipping, plus 50% off flash sales 
LL Bean// 20% off your order using code THANKS20 
Mark and Graham// 20% off and free shipping, code: FRIENDS
Nordstrom// Tons of new markdowns in the cyber sale 
Old Navy// 50% off everything
One Kings Lane// 30% off sitewide
Ralph Lauren// 30% off when you spend $100
Serena and Lily// 25% off the entire site, code: THANKFUL! See my post with favorites, here! We partnered with Serena and Lily to spruce up our guest bedroom and I shared the before and after photos, here. Basically, the entire bedroom is 25% off, which is such a good deal. 
Shopbop// Shopbop Buy More, Save More. Code: MORE19. 15% off orders of $200+, 20% off, orders of $500+, 25% off orders of $800+. Ferragamo Varas are included!
Talbots// 50% off 1 regular priced item, plus 40% off entire purchase 
Tory Burch// 30% off full-price sales, up to 60% off sale items when you spend $250+, code: THANKS
Tuckernuck// 20% off entire site, 25% off 500+, 30% off $1000+, use code BRIGHT
Williams-Sonoma// So many good deals and a huge selection. I want the Coravin and right now it's only $139. 

Cyber Week Guides:

See My Gift Guides Here:

50% off with code MONDAY and 60% off sale! You can see my try-on here

50% off 1 regular priced item, plus 40% off entire purchase 

Up to 30% off with code MORE19

50% off with code FALL50

30% off with code CYBER19

On sale plus 30% off

40% off with code BLACKFRI19

20% off with code THANKS20

40% off

$20 off every $100 spent

30% off and free shipping

2018 Gift Guides that still have a lot of great items in stock 
Stocking Stuffers
Gifts for Coworkers (love this one!!)
2017 Under $100 (most items are still in stock)
2017 Under $100 (most items are still in stock)

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