New York City Travel Guide

Happy Sunday lovelies! As the colder weather approaches, I have been thinking and reflecting on the trip I took to New York City last January. I have to admit, this trip really gave me the travel bug and has encouraged me to pursue our next experience to Nashville! That being said I thought I would share a re-cap of our trip and all of the amazing things we did, along with some other things I wish we would have done differently.

HOW TO GET THERE

No matter how you slice it, NYC is a busy city, so no matter how you choose to get there it will likely be a hectic experience. We decided to fly into JFK Airport from Buffalo Airport. Living in the Greater Toronto Area, you would think that it would be easier to fly from Toronto Pearson International Airport. This was not the case for us. We found a great deal flying with JetBlue Airlines from Buffalo right into JFK, and since we are so close to Buffalo it was not much of an inconvenience. If you live in the GTA or the surrounding area, I strongly recommend checking flights out of Buffalo for any traveling you do. We were very easily able to park our car for the time we were going to be in New York across from the airport. This was really convenient since they had a shuttle that brought you from your car directly to your departing gate.

Once we arrived to JFK, we took a sequence of trains to get from the airport to the Subway where we made it to our hotel. Some people may choose to take a taxi or an Uber from the airport, and I would definitely recommend that depending on the amount of luggage you have. In our case, we each had one normal/full size suitcase and one carry-on. Marc carried a backpack, while I carried a small duffle that easily sat on the handles of my suitcase. Since we were not lugging to many bags, the walk was not to bad. However, the weather was rather cold and snowy, but none of this made the walk to unenjoyable.

** For our experience leaving NYC scroll to the bottom.

WHERE TO STAY

Being our first time in the big apple we wanted to stay in the heart of the action therefore, we stayed as close to Times Square as possible. We found a great deal on Hotels.ca for a three night, three day stay at The Riu Plaza New York Times Square. It was a beautiful room with great service! The only thing we will consider next time when traveling to New York is the noise. If you are a light sleeper I would highly recommend researching the area in which you decide to stay in terms of noise. I understand that New York is a very busy city, but being so close to Times Square made it very difficult for Marc to sleep, even with the windows closed, and we were also on a high floor. Next time, we would like to stay in Lower Manhattan or Soho.

WHAT TO DO

We had a whole list of things that we were just dying to do in NYC, but being there for a short amount of time meant we had to decide what was an absolute priority. Before you make any decisions on the tourist locations you would like to view, be sure to check out the New York City Pass. This allows you to visit many attractions for a discounted price. In the end we decided on these specific attractions to see during our time there. I included prices and details for those of you interested.

We got to New York City on a Thursday.

Times Square – Thursday evening – FREE

When we got to our hotel it was Friday in the early evening. We knew the first thing we wanted to do was to walk to Times Square and take in all of the amazing-ness! This worked out great because our room was so close to the square.

Times Square, NYC

Central Park – Friday morning – FREE

We took the Subway to Central Park which was much easier than I thought it would be. Keep in mind that you should ask the people working what the best option is for you in regards to purchasing Subway tokens/passes. In our case it was a better deal to purchase a weekend pass (3 day pass I believe it was called) since we took the Subway as our main mode of transportation while we were there. The people are very nice and will help you, they are used to tourists! The park was BEAUTIFUL and the area around it is fantastic as well. It is well worth it to take the time and walk around!

Shopping – Friday afternoon

As we were walking and taking in all of the sights we did some shopping as well. Shopping was not our main focus of the trip, so if you are looking for some great places to shop in New York I suggest you research that so you are well aware of where to spend your precious time.

Empire State Building – Friday night – PRICES VARYING PER PERSON. SEE HERE.

After dinner, and after dark we heading to the Empire State Building. We were particularly excited for this attraction because we had seen it in so many movies. We went up to the 86th floor, and the 102nd (which is an extra fee but well worth it) We did not however, buy the fast pass. If you are in a hurry and don’t have a lot of time in the city you may want to look into this, but we only waited in line for about one hour max.

9/11 Memorial Museum – Saturday morning – $24 PER PERSON

Saturday was our last day in the city, as we were flying out Sunday morning at 6am. I was very excited yet slightly hesitant to go to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I had heard such great things about it, but I knew it was also going to be very profound. I strongly suggest that you visit this historic museum on the last day of your trip. I say this because the lasting effect of what is in the exhibits stayed with me for the rest of the day. I was a child when 9/11 occurred and I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing when it occurred. The demonstrations of extreme loss and history are ones that will stay for me for a long long time.

9/11 Memorial Museum

Brooklyn Bridge – Saturday afternoon

From the museum it was very easy to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge. I absolutely loved walking from Manhattan into Brooklyn! It felt like a scene right out of Gossip Girl, and I think it might have been one of my favourite parts of the trip. We continued to walk around Brooklyn where the scenery of Lower Manhattan was absolutely breathtaking. It is true what they say,

The best views of the city are from Brooklyn.

Brooklyn

WHAT I WORE

As mentioned, we went to New York right after New Years in January, so it was cold. It was cold and snowy, and beautiful. We chose the attractions that best suited the time of year we decided to go, and we packed accordingly. Now, I cannot stress enough that layering was key. You can see that in some of the photos I am wearing suede boots with a small heel, and in others I am wearing Hunter Boots with boot socks. I was very happy with my choice in footwear for this trip, I wore my Hunters on the place and packed my other boots.

I brought one blanket scarf that was perfect and highly necessary, and a range of hats. Since we were outside most of the trip I still wanted to look nice and put together, so I used hats as my way of accessorizing. Most of the time, no one saw what I was wearing underneath my jacket so keep this in mind when packing. I did not bring a large jacket, although I would have used it, but I ok with the this grey puffer coat layered with a sweater and long sleeve underneath.

At night, when we went out for dinner and drinks I mostly stuck with denim, my suede boots and a cute but warm sweater! New York is said to be one of the fashion capitals of the world, but when you are going for the same purpose as me, warmth was a priority over being trendy.

HOW WE GOT HOME

You would assume that we would have taken an Uber at 3am to JFK, flown out on our scheduled flight at 6am, landed in Buffalo and picked up our car and drove home to the GTA, as planned in my perfectly calculated travel agenda. Wrong. SO SO WRONG. Everything about my timeline went fine except for the actual flight part. We got to the airport, got through security, got a coffee and something to eat and then sat down at our gate. We were in the boarding area for about fifteen minutes before big, bold letter flashed on the screen. CANCELLED. Unfortunately, there had been a tragic event that occurred at the Fort Lauderdale Airport the day before, and it was causing many flights to be delayed or cancelled.

Like everyone else, we called the airline and/or waited in line to find out they could not get us out of New York until Tuesday at 6am (it was Sunday morning at around 5am at this point) This was not a option for us, because we had to work! Thankfully, we were able to rent a car and get back to Buffalo that night. So, after we got our baggage we got into our rental car and headed home. By the time we got home, it was a twelve hour journey. Keep in mind, it was January, and we still had to return the rental and get our car from Buffalo, and then drive home. JetBlue was very courteous in the face of frustration and refunded our airline tickets. This made up for the cost of the rental car. I would strongly recommend that you have a backup travel plan regardless of where you go!

Thank you for reading about our experience in the Big Apple in the winter, and I hope it has helped anyone who is thinking of visiting NYC.

Until next time,

Fall Clothing Haul | Affordable Fashion

Happy almost back to school/pre-fall season everyone!

Back to school time can be stressful and exciting! Back to school supplies, clothes and all the other fun stuff can really add up! For teachers like me, it is important to get great staple pieces that work in and out of school, without breaking the bank. Being a self-proclaimed affordable fashion guru, I hunted for a variety of items perfect for this coming season!

I collaborated with my good friend Stevie on this post. Some of the items featured she purchased, while some are my own. For reference, Stevie wears a small, her shoe size is a 7 (shoes were true to size) and is 5’3. Send her some love.

Outfit details are below the pictures, and everything is linked where possible. Happy fall shopping!

Outfit Details:

This beautiful short sleeved cardigan is from Winners! The thing I love about Winners, is you can find some real gems! However, I have learned that if you wait on something, and then decide you want to buy it a few days later, it likely will not be there anymore. Hence, you snooze you lose. So, head into your local Winners or Marshalls!

These loafers (featured in nude and black) were a steal at Ardene! I am talking BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF. Bonus: On their website, these loafers are now 70% off $19.99!

Outfit Details:

This basic cardi tho! It is the ultimate staple! On sale for $45 right now at Old Navy (Teacher clothing HEAVEN) and it is a total must. Stevie also told me she plans to pick it up in multiple colours she loves it so much!

Outfit Details:

I cannot get over this vest. It is a gorgeous olive green colour, perfect for fall. Stevie bought it, I bought it … even my mom bought it because it was on sale for $11 at again … Ardene! I plan on wearing mine open like Stevie is here, or as a dress with a belt and leggings. Online it’s listed as BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF, but in store it was 70% off, so it may vary from site to store.

Outfit Details:

How cute is this blouse! Perfect for work or school, it is classy and comfortable! I couldn’t find this exact one on the Ardene website, but I linked a similar one here.

Outfit Details:

Similar to the blouse previously mentioned, this one is great for the season we are in right now. Say you want to look professional and put together, but it’s hotter than Jamaica in July? This is the little number for you! Pick it up at Ardene for BUY 1 GET 1 FOR $1. (Yes you read that correctly, no Ardene is not going out of business) 

Outfit Details:

These shoes will be the shoes for my fall teaching wardrobe! Again they are at Ardene for BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF. So, I paid $30 for two pairs! I’m sorry, but I paid more for my dog to get his hair cut last week. YOU CAN NOT BEAT IT!

Please follow this blog for more on affordable fashion, teacher fun and all things lifestyle! Thank you for visiting and come back soon!

With love,

#YOGAEVERYDAMNDAY

Our bodies are amazing. They get us through our everyday lives, and we push them to their limits sometimes. Some of us push our bodies farther than we would care to admit. Depending on the job that we have and the lifestyle we lead, we can put our bodies through a lot. So how do you thank your body? How do you give back to the amazing vessel our souls are given to live this life in.

#yogaeverydamnday

I do yoga. I try my very hardest to practice a little bit of yoga everyday, but let’s be honest sometimes you need to switch it up. I do however try to make sure that I am getting some exercise every single day. Our bodies work hard for us so we need to work hard for it, to ensure it gets everything it needs to be healthy and strong. This includes our minds, something that many of us forget about. (GUILTY) Yoga is not only fantastic for the strength and flexibility of our bodies, but also our mind. Our mental health is becoming more and more important in todays society, therefor it is crucial that we take time out of our day to say thank you to our bodies, and our minds, for getting us through the day.

Tone it Up

Katrina and Karina from Tone it Up not only have some of the best yoga routines but they are quick and highly effective. They help you strengthen and tone every part of your body, while centring your mind. Here is one of my favourite yoga routines from the Tone it Up ladies!

➰ Tone it Up Website

➰ Tone it Up YouTube

A lot of the times, I want a more rigorous workout so I lift weights or I do one of the other Tone it Up workouts. Tip: On the Tone it Up website they have a tab called the Daily Workout. Here, they tell exactly what workout to do giving you pictures or videos! Check it out here. Regardless of the workout, I try to do centre myself at the end, doing a small yoga sequence. I thank my body for all it does, and thank the universe for my many blessings.

Until next time,

Stephanie

 

Affordable Fashion: My Favourite Items and Stores

In the wake of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale I have been thinking long and hard about some of my favourite clothing pieces in my closet. I have come to realize that some of my most worn items, or fav new items, are from reasonably affordable stores. Being a teacher, I strive to collect clothing that is fashion forward, trendy but professional and timeless. These are the pieces I am currently loving for summer moving into fall! All outfit details are linked and listed below and prices are in Canadian dollars. For reference, I am 5’3 and usually am an xs – small in tops and dresses and 2 (26) in denim.

OUTFIT DETAILS

This jumpsuit ($24.50) from a store called Ardene is an absolute staple in my closet right now. It is beyond comfortable and can be paired with almost anything! It is a great transition piece from summer to fall, and I cannot wait to wear this to teach come September. I bought this is an x-small and it is on sale right now BUY 1 GET 1 for 1$ (Whaaaatt.)

OUTFIT DETAILS

In this next outfit, I paired that same jumpsuit with a kimono ($18.50) also from Ardene. This kimono is so soft and light, perfect for summer and warm fall days. it is also BUY 1 GET 1 50% OFF right now!

OUTFIT DETAILS

THIS CARDIGAN THOUGH ($64.95)! It is the softest, most versatile additional clothing item I have recently collected, and comes in three colours. I purchased it from the GAP during a 40% off sale, and it goes so well with everything. It is the perfect item to add to a camisole, or on top of this off the shoulder floral top (next outfit).

OUTFIT DETAILS

This top ($34.40 BUY 1 GET 1 FOR $1), as mentioned in the above outfit, it so adorable. It is from Ardene (a reoccurring theme in this post) and is a really soft. With long bell sleeves, it is perfect for a cool summer night out, or a warm fall day! It is available online in a beautiful blush and orange colour! I paired it with these jeans from Dynamite, which I got on major sale (I love all of their jeans though)

OUTFIT DETAILS

Lace up sweaters are all the rage right now, and the trend is not going to end anytime soon. They can be pretty expensive at some stores, but I found this one at GAP for 40% off. It is a really nice knit sweater but isn’t at all itchy. It is super flattering and will cover your behind if you want to wear it with leggings!

OUTFIT DETAILS

I paired those flattering jeans from Dynamite with this tie-up bell sleeve sweater from the same store. I got this on sale for $8! You cannot beat that! These two items may not be in stores any longer, but check out the sale rack at Dynamite and you will definitely find some gems! 

OUTFIT DETAILS

I have a different denim jacket that I love. It is a darker wash and slightly more fitted, but I spotted this one at H&M for $29.95 and knew I had to have it. It is the perfect amount of ‘slouchy’ to work with the over-sized trend!

OUTFIT DETAILS

Here is another jumpsuit that is just too perfect! This one has longer pant legs compared to the first outfit in this post, it is from H&M and it has pockets!

Why I Went Natural & How I use Essential Oils

Let’s talk about going au-naturel!

In this post I will be talking about the ways I modified my everyday life to be more natural and less invasive on my body! When I first started on this little endeavour I never realized the amount of products and things on the market that target people just like me. The mid twenties millennial, eco-loving, trend following, hippie. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a hippie, but I am definitely a self declared eco-advocate, open to trying new things if they are better for me and the environment.

I first realized the effects that harsh chemicals could have on our bodies when I was researching liver issues. I came to realize that our bodies rely heavily on our liver because it cleanses toxins from our bodies. This means that anything we put on our skin, in our mouths or bring into contact with our bodies, will eventually find its way to our liver. Its most crucial job is to take toxins out of our bodies (usually from our blood) and release clean blood back into our systems.

You sometimes hear people apologizing to their liver before consuming a large amount of alcohol. It is true, you should be apologizing to the organ that helps our bodies in so many ways! Our liver is where all the alcohol is removed from our blood, before it is ready to be discharged out of our bodies! What I never realized was how many times a day we should be apologizing to our livers, and our many other organs. Here are only a few of the daily occurrences where we are administering toxins into our bodies, and sometimes completely unaware of it (I know I was)

  1. When we consume alcohol
  2. When we take pain medications like ibuprofen
  3. When we forget to wash our produce before we eat it
  4. When we use cleaning products that are filled with harsh chemicals
  5. When we use beauty product containing parabens and other harmful ingredients.

These are only some of the ways we are unknowingly causing our bodies undo harm and stress. These are also however, the five major things I changed/am working on changing to live a more natural life. We have already discussed alcohol so I won’t harp on about that any longer.

Taking pain medications like ibuprofen

I am the first one to admit that I do not like to feel any pain (who does), but I am starting to realize that their are other things I can do to relieve pain and discomfort. When I was slightly younger, I wouldn’t think twice about taking a Tylenol or Advil if I felt a headache coming on. Oh, and don’t even get me started on an upset stomach or nausea, no questions asked, I was taking Gravol or Pepto Bismol. Now I definitely think twice. What I wasn’t realizing is that after ingesting these things, they were going straight to my liver and probably causing damage.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: I am in no way advising that people should not take medication. If you need it, take It. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, absolutely nothing the oral surgeon didn’t prescribe was going to touch the pain I was in. The liver damage I am talking about is from taking small amounts of ibuprofen etc. for long amounts of time. Why not prevent these things from happening. I have found some great alternatives to these pain medications that truly do work, and I am so excited to share them.

Essential oils

These amazing natural oils are all the rage right now. If you haven’t already heard about them and all of their glory I am truly surprised. For the purpose of alleviating pain, I like to use them as topical treatments. Be sure to test a small amount on your skin to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction. I recommend mixing it with a ‘carrier oil’ like vegetable oil or coconut oil.

  • Tea tree oil on acne
  • Peppermint oil on the temples and back of the neck to alleviate stress and headaches.
  • Eucalyptus oil on the chest for colds and congestion

BONUS:

  • Lavender oil on the temples or sprayed(mixed with water) as a pillow mist to help with sleep.
Click the image to find this starter pack of essential oils here

After a couple trips to the health food store, and many discussions with the professionals there, I have found some great and highly effective ways of treating colds, and upset stomach.

  • Oregano oil with garlic is a great way to battle respiratory viruses and keep the immune system strong during the winter months. (Take in spurts of 1-2 weeks)
  • Deep immune is an elderberry based oil that works similarly to oregano oil, but works taken over long periods of time, to fortify your immune system. Since I am a teacher, deep immune and oregano oil are both staples in my medicine cabinet for me.
  • Goldenseal is amazing for stomach issues and stomach viruses. It works to alleviate bloating and other digestion issues, but will also help if you feel like you are coming down with the dreaded winter stomach bug.
Found at any health store.

Forgetting to wash our produce

The best way to avoid nasty germs left by other people touching your fruit and veggies, is to give it a good scrubbing before you eat it. I am not afraid to use a little bit of soap on them (or vinegar… make sure to rinse thoroughly) to get them nice and clean. We can also remove some of the pesticides used on the produce by cleaning them. This unfortunately doesn’t touch what has reached the interior of the food, but we do what we can without buying organic right?

Using harsh chemicals to clean

Ah… my favourite topic. I am open to any suggestions anyone might have about natural and effective cleaning products, I am always on the hunt. However, I have recently switched from harsh kitchen cleaner to the Method brand, and I’m true fan of the products. I have tried a variety of their cleaners and really like them all.

Found at any grocery store.

I also really love to use essential oils in my kitchen to clean and add a nice fragrance. After cleaning my sink I run hot water and add about 5-7 drops of essential oil. By adding it to the steaming water, it fills to the room with a nice smell. When I use peppermint oil, it moves throughout my whole lower level.

I bought my starter pack of essential oils here.

When it comes to the kitchen, I am afraid to use anything with too many chemicals. We prepare food and eat there! The bathroom on the other hand, gets the full power of bleach! I have yet to find anything that I feel works as well, but I am open to suggestions.

Using beauty products with parabens and other harmful ingredients.

I get it, not everyone believes that the things in our shampoo, body lotion and contact solution can be harmful to us in the long run. It is everyone’s personal choice, but my motto is “I would rather be safe than sorry!” There are so many different natural product lines out there it is insane! I have recently been enjoying the Abba line of haircare products and love them. Again, I am open to suggestions!

Going natural is a personal choice, and a choice that I believe can be taken in steps over time. Like I’ve mentioned, the repercussions of using non-natural products will take a toll on you, but likely in the far future if used over long periods of time. The same can be said about going natural. We may never see a difference on the inside of our bodies if we go natural early and continue in the future, but isn’t that the point? Prevent now and prosper later.

Until next time,

Stephanie