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Love List

Monday, May 4, 2020

Quarantine Date Night Ideas

With restaurants and other date night spots being closed it may be hard to think of fun things to do together, but it is so important to still have "dates". You definitely don't have to go out to have a date night with your significant other and its so important to still have fun nights together even though we are quarantined. Here are some fun date night ideas that you can do at home (hubby and I have done these!). 

Backyard date night, quarantine date ideas, backyard inspiration
Teepee // Blanket // Pillows // Tray (similar) // Lantern // Kimono

Have a Backyard Picnic!

Hubby and I were so excited that it finally warmed up over the weekend so we decided to have a backyard picnic! Pour some wine, make a charcuterie board and watch the sunset! We set up this adorable teepee with a bunch of pillows and just relaxed. It was the perfect simple romantic date and you don't need a teepee like us, just take bunch of blankets and pillows and lay them in the grass or on the patio! 

Backyard inspiration, teepee, date night ideas, backyard decor

Backyard date night, quarantine date ideas, backyard inspiration

Have a Themed Dinner Night

Have a themed dinner! Think a Mexican night or Italian night! We had a Mexican night where we made tacos and margaritas. Pick a country and make food that is popular in that country, you could take it up a notch and play some music to fit the theme as well. Have fun with it and make the meal together!

Have a Karaoke Night

This is one of my favorite date night ideas. Hubby and I always have so much fun when we do karaoke nights together. It is such a great way to just do something silly and light hearted. The other night we did a country theme and sang all country songs together. There are so many themes you could do: 90's night, 80's night, pop, rock, ect. We have this Karaoke machine from Amazon, but you could also get something super simple like this handheld bluetooth microphone. 


I hope these ideas give you some inspiration and that you get to try them out with your significant other. Even though we are quarantined and you may be spending more time together then usual, it is so important to still set aside time for official date nights. The options are endless, just think outside the box and have fun!

xoxo
-Nicole





Thursday, April 30, 2020

What it is Like to Lose a Parent

"Is this Nicole...." "Yes, I responded with a shaky voice. "I am so sorry but your mom has passed". Those are the words I will never forget.. I remember it just like it was yesterday- my husband and I got up at 7AM to get dressed quickly to rush to the nursing home when I got that terrible call. I  don't even remember my response to the woman on the phone, all I remember is feeling my legs give out as I dropped to the floor in tears. I felt like I could barely breathe as my husband threw his arms around me. It was almost as if time had stopped, it didn't feel real. 

 If you have lost a parent or a parental figure in your life, I am sure you understand these feelings.  I have been wanting to discuss this on my platform for quite some time as I am sure there are many that can relate. With Mothers Day just around the corner I have been reflecting and of course thinking about my mom. It is hard seeing commercials, advertisements, and gift guides for mom this time each year. Its even harder when you're at the store right before Mother's Day and someone tells you to "Have a nice day with your mom!" (true story).  My hope is that my story brings you comfort in knowing you are not alone. 



Dealing with Grief 


I felt empty, I felt alone even though I had those I loved around me, and I felt like everyone didn't quite know how to treat me. I felt like everyone was looking at me like I was broken or that they couldn't say anything without upsetting me. I also had some people in my life who were too selfish to be there for me when I needed them most. I wasn't looking for anyone to say anything, because really what can you say? I just wanted to know I wasn't alone. 

 After my moms passing I felt guilt. Why didn't I go visit more? Was there more I could have done? Maybe I didn't pick out the right nursing home? Why didn't I realize she was sick sooner?. These were all of the thoughts racing through my mind. In the end I know I did the best I could, but I think there's always a bit of guilt or feelings of "what if" when someone passes. This is definitely the hardest part of the grieving process. 



Losing a parent is a pain that I would not wish on anyone. Although my mom and I had an interesting relationship there is not a day that goes by that I don't wish I couldn't just pick up the phone to call her. My mom struggled with alcoholism for most of my life and this definitely got worse when her father died. I was in 7th grade when I learned she was dealing with alcoholism and I really started to understand and see the volatile side of this addiction. Unfortunately, on November 16th 2017 my mom lost her battle with alcoholism. Six months prior I had found out that she was in end stage liver failure and I had to watch her become more and more ill with each visit to the nursing home. She no longer knew who I was, she lost a ton of weight during this time due to her no longer being able to feed herself and swallow (she was put on a feeding tube), and she had an infection where she would have needed her leg amputated should she have lived longer. To say watching her die wasn't the most painful thing I have ever experienced would be a lie. During this time I definitely felt alone, my mom had pushed away most of the people in her life due to her addiction so in the end she really only had me. I visited as much as I could but it definitely was hard. I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about it or that they wouldn't understand. I felt like way too many people looked at her like "she did it to herself" and I hated that. No one saw what I saw, no one had to watch her suffer in pain, no one had to see her slowly slip away like I did. To this day it still haunts me and there are moments where I think of those days and cry. I don't think you ever really forget something like that. Thank goodness I had my husband with me through it all. 


What I Learned

During this time I really learned who was there for me and I also learned how I deal with my emotions. Everyone handles pain and grief differently. I personally like to deal with things on my own and I don't like to be vulnerable (which I am working on). I am here to tell you that its okay to feel sad, its okay to cry, its okay to feel like the world around you is ending, but I am also here to tell you that its okay to want to process your emotions on your own, it is okay to want to keep busy, and its okay to want to be alone. When dealing with the loss of a parent you need to cope in the best way for YOU. Although this pain will always be there, you will have better days and your loved one would want you to be happy. 

If you are a friend of someone who has lost a parent, be patient with them. Your friend may not want to talk about it and your friend may not want to cry in front of you. On the other hand they may be craving some sense of normalcy and are looking to you to help with that. Be kind, be sympathetic, and just be there. It is okay to ask how they are feeling and how you can best help them during this difficult time in their life. Your friend may not be emotionally available to help you through your difficult times right now, just understand this and try not to get angry with them for it. They just lost one of the most important people in their life (no matter what the relationship looked like) and they just need to know they are not alone. It may take a little time for them to start acting like themselves again, but I promise you they will. It took some time for me, and yes I still have moments but I know my mom would want me to live a happy life whether she is physically here with me or not. I know she will always be there in spirit and I find comfort in that. 

Losing a parent is definitely a pain that never quite goes away but you will start to have more good days as time goes on. Of course there are days I am sad that my mom did not get to see my first house, and she won't be here when we decide to have children, but I am so grateful for all of the wonderful memories she was there for like my wedding. If you are or have been struggling with the loss of a parent, just know you are not alone and I understand. If you ever need to talk, feel free to reach out, no one should have to feel alone. Just know your loved one is looking over you and they are so proud of you. They may not be physically here but they are always in your heart. 

xoxo

-Nicole 

Huge thank you to Dune Jewelry for the special necklace as seen in the photos.  The necklace contains sand from where we spread my moms ashes. It is a piece I wear proudly and one that I hold dear to my heart. Thank you for also encouraging me to share my story. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Let's Do Our Part!

Hi everyone! I know it has been a while since I have written a blog post. I'm going to be honest, it just feels weird to do so with everything going on in the world. My heart hurts for those that have been impacted by COVID-19. I worry for all of the men and women who are on the front lines of this virus and their families. So many people have been impacted by this all over the world. 
My blogger friends and I felt compelled to help in whatever way we could so we have decided to come together to raise money for 3 organizations who are helping fight this virus. We wanted to be able to help a variety of individuals so we will be splitting the donations evenly between the 3 organizations. Keep reading to hear a little more about each organization and we really hope you'll consider donating (the link for our gofundme can be found here).

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is working to provide PPE and essential medical items to those responding to COVID-19. They are delivering masks, gloves, gowns, and other protective gear to healthcare organizations across the country. This is so important as I am sure you have seen there is a shortage everywhere. You can read more about what they are doing in response to COVID-19 here.

The CDC Foundation

The CDC Foundation "helps the CDC do more faster". They partner with the CDC and others in order to fight threats to help and safety.

Feeding America

Feeding America partners with communities and food banks in order to bring food to those in need. Since schools are closed, many children aren't able to access the free or price reduced meals they were once receiving in school. Families are struggling to put food on the table due to loss of income or other life events. Feeding America works to provide emergency grants to food banks and they are partnering with school districts and local government agencies in order to provide food to the children who rely on those school meals. You can read more about what they are doing here

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you in advance for any donations you are able to provide. Any amount counts whether its 1$, 5$ or even 50$. We have a goal of 1500$ so we are able to donate 500$ to each organization and I am confident together we will all meet that goal! Feel free to share our link with your friends and family. You have the power to make a difference, you never know who you have helped with your donation. 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/njbloggers-covid19-relief-fund 

xoxo
-Nicole 
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Cryo Facial Experience

Hi friends! It has been a while since I sat down and wrote a blog post and I have something fun I wanted to share with you all today! Two months ago I was invited to CryoSlim in Holmdel for a Cryo Facial and I also went back last month for a follow up treatment. I wanted to share my experience and provide insight as to what these treatments consist of. This past month I also received the Celluma treatment which I will go into more detail about. This past visit to CryoSlim was super fun because I was able to go with two of my girlfriends to celebrate Galentines Day. We were treated to mimosas and spent the afternoon getting treatments and having girl talk. Keep reading to get all of the details on my experience! 

About CryoSlim

Holmdel CryoSlim is owned by two amazing ladies and is located in Holmdel, New Jersey. They offer a variety of treatments including the Cryo Treatments, Infared Wraps, and the Celluma Treatment. What is nice is that the treatments are relatively short and non-invasive so they are perfect if you have a busy schedule! The decor is absolutely adorable and the room has such a nice relaxing vibe. All of the treatments are done in this room and can be done solo or you could plan a day with your girlfriends.

What is a Cryofacial? 

CryoSlim uses a machine called the Cryoskin 3.0. This machine uses a localized wand which is extremely cold and this is circulated around your face in specific motions to boost collagen, tighten the skin, and aide in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It basically feels like an ice cube on your face! This can be done on the face and the body. I was given a Cryofacial both times and it felt amazing. Afterwards my skin definitely felt tighter and looked brighter. I was also given the Celluma Treatment which I will talk about next. 

Cryofacial in Action

Celluma

The Celluma machine is a light therapy machine and is used to treat acne and wrinkles! I opted for the acne setting as I have been experiencing some breakouts (probably due to stress and hormones). What I think is great about this treatment is they actually will allow you to rent out the machine to use in the comfort of your own home for a few weeks. I only did the one treatment but I did notice a small difference in the breakouts I was experiencing the day I went. The next morning I could see that they were getting smaller. This treatment when done over time is said to kill acne bacteria and keep it from coming back. 

Celluma Treatment 

Final Thoughts

These treatments are definitely different from anything I have had done in the past! I have only ever gotten a normal facial so this was definitely different, but in a good way! The cold wand during the Cryofacial felt so refreshing and I loved the glow my skin had the next day. I definitely want to try more sessions with the Celluma to see how it works to treat my breakouts. Honestly, anytime I am forced to sit and relax for a bit is a treat so both treatments were great! I have had two Cryofacials and one Celluma treatment and I cannot wait to see how continued treatments make my skin look. I always post on Instagram stories when I go so definitely stay tuned for my next visit! 

xoxo
-Nicole 


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Miami Travel Guide

If you have been following along on instagram, you'll know that recently I took a girls trip to Miami. We were in desperate need of warm weather and a fresh place to spark our creativity to create content. Miami was the perfect quick trip! We laughed till we cried, bonded over tacos, and came back more inspired. Keep reading to get inspiration for your next getaway!

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Marseilles Hotel which is located on Collins Avenue and close to all kinds of restaurants and shopping. My favorite thing about the hotel was the fact that it is oceanfront, this was very important to me when booking this trip. I am going to do a breakdown of our stay here since there were a lot of positives but there were also some things I really wish were better. I always want to be honest with you, my readers; so that you can make informed decisions before staying anywhere or purchasing anything!

Customer Service: The customer service was poor. Upon arrival we were not greeted by the staff, in fact they almost acted as if we weren't there. When we walked over to the desk to let them know we were there and to ask about check-in they were very dismissive. We were not provided with information regarding the use of the hotel amenities and beach passes which were required to get chairs on the beach. We received this information from the staff at the beach so we had to make a trek back to get the passes. At this time we asked about the check-in time and finally we got an answer of 1:30.  In order to enjoy additional time outside we waited until about 2:30 to go back in to get the room keys. Again, we were dismissed and told it would be another 10 minutes which we were okay with. We did begin to get upset though when almost 30 minutes went by and staff started checking in other people who arrived after us. We finally made it into our room around 3:30. I also wanted to note that one evening we realized we were out of toilet paper and we were not given an extra roll. When coming back into the hotel we asked the front desk if they would mind sending some more up, almost an hour went by and we had to call again to ask for toilet paper. It is possible they were understaffed that evening, but I did want to note this. 

The Room: Honestly, I was not too crazy about the room. It was clean which is very important, but the setup was strange. We had a main room which had two beds and an additional room that had one bed in there. The room was very dark once the sun went down and the bathroom was very tiny. As you can imagine, three bloggers in an awkward space getting ready can be a challenge! 

Decor & Grounds: The hotel itself was beautiful and clean. The decor is really pretty while walking through the hotel to get to the pool and backyard (it also smelled amazing, we wanted to bottle up whatever air freshener they use). When you walk out you will first see the main pool, if you keep walking you will see what they call the "Backyard". The Backyard was personally my favorite spot at the hotel. The decor was really nice and they had cute daybeds, a hanging daybed pod, cabanas, and of course palm trees! This area was pretty shaded for a lot of the day but a nice spot to relax. If you keep walking there is a hot tub and some more daybeds as you make your way toward the beach. At the edge of the property there is a gate that leads through to the beach. I loved that the beach was a hop, skip, and a jump away! Overall the decor and grounds impressed me and there are so many nice photo spots within the property. 

 See below for a tour of the backyard and photos of the grounds! 


What We Did

Our goal of the trip was to relax of course but we also wanted to create a bunch of content. Majority of our days were spent by the beach or the pool, however we did find the cutest and most Instagramable cafe I have ever seen and we ate at the best taco place for two of our nights there. Keep reading for more detail on the food.

There were a few places we ate that I would hands down go back to on my next trip to Miami. We loved one so much that we went back twice! If you are planning a trip to Miami, definitely add these spots to your list. 

Maxines Bistro & Bar: This restaurant is located right across from Marseilles Hotel so when we arrived we figured we would give it a shot! Let me start by saying, I most likely would not go back to this spot. Although the food was absolutely amazing, the service was terrible. It took over a half hour for someone to come and take our order after seating us. I actually observed several couples get up and leave due to the lack of service. There were also a ton of birds flying around and landing on the chairs/tables right next to us. After placing our order the food took a very long time and after receiving our food we did not see our waitress until we flagged her down for the check. The food was fantastic so we were definitely a little disappointed by this.

Marseilles Hotel Bar: After shooting one day early in our trip we decided to stay on the property for lunch. I got a Caesar salad and the three of us shared guacamole. I am a huge guac fan and this one is definitely at the top of my favorites list. I also wanted to note, the drinks were amazing! On day one I got a raspberry lemonade cocktail and the rest of the trip I was hooked on the cucumber splash. This was definitely the drink of choice for us on this girls trip! Overall we really enjoyed the food here and I wish we had time to try more items on their menu.


Taco Taco: Taco Taco was by far my favorite restaurant of the trip so much so that we went here twice. This restaurant is also directly across the street from Marseilles. I honestly can't pin point what I liked best there because it was all so good! We ordered guacamole for the table and we all kind of wished we ordered our own orders of it. I had a delicious blackberry margarita and a beef taco salad both times we went. The first night we were too full for dessert but on the last night we celebrated a great trip with two orders of churros. They were by far the best churros I have ever had in my life! They were small but so soft and delicious. The caramel sauce that they came with was to die for. I highly recommend Taco Taco if you're heading to Miami!


Pizza Bar: Pizza bar was by far the most surprising find of the trip. If you're from Jersey or New York, you know that it is hard to find pizza that matches up to what we have here! The pizza here was delicious and the slices were larger then our heads! We were particularly hungry that evening so we each ordered a slice of pizza and shared waffle fries and garlic knots. The vibe here was awesome, the staff were playing the best throwback songs and everyone there was singing along while ordering and eating! I also wanted to mention that the price point was great as well.

Mammamia Gelato Italiano: After filling up on pizza and garlic knots, we waddled over to the cutest gelato spot that is located right next door to Pizza Bar. I ordered the passionfruit and mango gelato and I wish I could reach through the screen and give you a taste because I WAS IN HEAVEN. If you're in the mood for something sweet, definitely head here!


Dreamer Miami: Earlier I mentioned that we went to the most Instagramable cafe, well this is it! The decor in here was absolutely adorable and the avocado toast was delicious. Their menu is so unique and they had a nice variety of coffees, juices, and smoothies. We spent quite some time taking photos all over the cafe and it was definitely worth it! I will say, if your plan is to take photos, get there early. Its a hot spot for photos and if you go early you will easily get photos without the wait or crowd.


The Outfits 

Of course I wanted to share our adventures, but I couldn't forget my looks from the trip! I have linked what is available and in stock here (the only downside to traveling in the winter is finding new summery items!). 


Final Thoughts 

Miami was an absolute dream. From the moment I saw the soft white sand beaches and crystal blue waters I knew I was in love! Obviously traveling with your girls makes any trip even better and the memories we created are sure to last a lifetime. I truly feel so blessed to have met these women! Overall, Miami is a destination that should definitely be on your list. For my Jersey folks, it is a super easy and quick 2.5 hour flight and the hotels in this location we stayed are only 15-20 minutes from the airport. I would not stay at the same hotel again but there were a bunch on the same street I would love to look into. I would go back to Marseilles to shoot content and grab food and drinks at the bar!  The food in Miami was delicious and there was not a meal we did not like. We had perfect weather and the beach was gorgeous! We will definitely be planning another trip to Miami very soon.


xoxo
-Nicole

Quarantine Date Night Ideas

With restaurants and other date night spots being closed it may be hard to think of fun things to do together, but it is so important to st...