Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

You know what I love?

I love a comfy sweatshirt that looks like I’ve tried without actually trying that hard.

Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

I love a bold pattern that needs few accessories. The gold filigree in this top had me feeling self conscious at first, but now I wear it all the time.

Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

I love a bold lip. Gloss is my every day choice, red and bright pink are favorites, and I’m shopping for a good purple. The black and gold filigree demanded red, clearly.

Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

I love these boots. They’re not black, but a charcoal gray. The stacked heel is not too high, the double zipper and gold accents add a nice edge. They fit perfectly and so far they’ve held up well.

Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

I love forever21 skinny jeans. They fit me great, the amount of stretch is perfect, and while they may not last years, at $8–12 a pop I can handle that. Also, I can pretend I’m still 21. #winning

Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

I love braids. This side braid is my standard and I have 3 or 4 other braided styles that make regular appearances. When you have hair as long and crazy thick as mine, a ponytail just doesn’t cut it.

Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day
Gold filigree sweatshirt {} Outfit of the day

You know what I don’t love? Snow. I’ll deal with cold when it doesn’t involve snow. But I do love a partner who’ll go out in the snow and take photos because I just had to get them done right this instant. So here’s my formal credit: all photos by Jonathan Stephanoff Photography. 🙂

Linking up with Nicole for Fit&Fashionable Friday.

Thanks for reading!


What are your favorite wardrobe pieces?

4 ways to be a morning person {}
4 ways to be a morning person {}

My mornings were out of control. I had become a regular snoozer, threw together clothes in a rush, some days didn’t have time for breakfast and put off making my lunch until 10 minutes before I ran out the door. I got to work frazzled and getting in a morning workout was out of the question.

I wasn’t always like this. I was a morning person. In fact, with rare exceptions, I never snoozed my alarm and enjoyed my peaceful mornings. In December I decided enough was enough.

• I committed to getting up at 6 am, an hour+ earlier than before.
• I committed to going to bed on time – meaning by 11 pm AT THE LATEST.
• I committed to a 30:00 morning workout.

Eight weeks in, my new habits have me feeling myself again. I’m more focused at work, especially in the morning; my routine eliminates excuses like “just one more episode before bed;” my sleep is more consistent, deep and restful; and I’m keeping a regular workout schedule.

4 ways to be a morning person:

1. Go to bed at the same time.
Clearly, getting up begins with laying down. This is so simple… so why do we find it so hard? Turn a hard eye to your evening habits. How late are you eating? Are you on electronic devices until right before bed? Do you avoid the bed or bedroom because it’s a mess? Do you watch TV too late? Are you frantically finishing today’s to-do list or stressing about tomorrow’s? Do you get sleepy at some point and then get more energy later?

Try “closing” the kitchen and turning off electronics after a certain time. Take 10 minutes after dinner to pick up the bedroom to make it more inviting when you’re ready to sleep. Set a limit on number of episodes per evening. Keep a notebook by your bed to jot down reminders for tomorrow, getting it off your mind tonight. Lay down with a book when you’re tired so the later energy boost won’t keep you up.

2. Prep the night before.
Start an evening routine. Make your lunch when you make dinner. When you get home and change out of work clothes, lay out clothes for tomorrow. Have your workout clothes prepped and the workout planned before you go to bed.

Then try pampering yourself! Reward yourself for the extra prep. I love lighting a candle and doing an easy foot massage right before bed. Some nights I’ll do a yoga nidra breathing practice. I like retiring early with my kindle (one of the only electronics we allow in bed) as long as it’s not a nail-biter book that will keep me up all night. Allow some “me time” after a busy day and evening.

3. Get up at the same time.
I used to get up at 7 am except on Friday’s when I open the yoga studio at 6:45 am. The earlier-than-normal morning was brutal. Now I’m up at 6 am every day and I’m not dragging on Fridays as I greet students. It’s such a routine now that my alarm rarely actually goes off. Most often I wake up before and turn it off. That natural wake up is so much more refreshing than the alarm!

In the last eight weeks I have only slept in past 6 am once. Even on mornings that I’m tired or too sore for a full workout, I’ve gotten up for a light yoga flow. I don’t want to break the morning rhythm my body is now conditioned for. (That said, if I really need the extra sleep or am not feeling well, that additional hour of z’s is much appreciated).

4. Plan time for something you enjoy in the morning.
Give yourself something to look forward to. It might be your workout, or making a good breakfast before kids are up or 20 minutes of distraction-free reading. I workout for 30 minutes Monday — Thursday. I keep this strict, too! I do not workout for 35 or 40 minutes. Afterward, I often turn on some instrumental piano music and sit for breakfast with my latest magazine or book. It creates a little zen space before getting ready for the day. This period is valuable enough to me that I will cut a workout short.

I would suggest leaving emails unread here. For me, this is a small window of morning time sans work or lists or expectations. It’s “me time” before other obligations. Mental zen.

 That’s it! Thanks for reading!


Do you have other tips for better mornings?

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table renovation, diy

Let me introduce you to the coffee table I’ve hated for years. The table is a great size, but it was worn and I especially hated the lip on top. Yet Jon and I couldn’t find a new table we both liked. So when I stumbled on this cool idea using paint sticks, I knew it was destined to be our latest project. Coffee table diy, here I come!

Because, hey, if it didn’t work or we didn’t like it, I’d still get a new table.

• Worn, battered and just tired. Legs already off for sanding:

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

• We experimented with Liquid Sander for the first time. I’m not sure I’ll ever sand something without it again! It stripped the top “glossy” layer completely and softened the stain enough to finish up with sandpaper. No electric sander needed.

The areas I planned to paint received a light sanding while Jon did a more thorough sanding on the areas to be re-stained:

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

Painting! (Clearly we didn’t do this in January). We have lots of natural tones in our living space, so I wanted a pop of color on the table. A small sample jar of paint did the trick:

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

• Building the top. Jon basically took over from here. After four trips to Home Depot collecting enough paint sticks, Jon sawed off the handle ends and gave them a light sand. Then he trimmed out the lip of the table for a perfect fit. I stained the edges of the table top and stained the paint sticks in three different tones (not pictured).

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

• Next was simply putting a puzzle together. Jon used liquid nails to glue the sticks down in a pattern we laid out ahead of time. We discovered liquid nails tended to warp the sticks a bit, so he glued them in smaller sections and stacked lots of old text books as they dried.

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

Done! The last steps were attaching the legs again and applying several coats of polyurethane. The coffee table returned to it’s place and now I LOVE it. I mean really love it. It’s exactly our style: rustic, funky and a project done together.

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} Coffee table diy, furniture renovation

Thanks for reading!


What do you think?
Do you enjoy DIY furniture projects?

{} Own it, Be a little wild, Henry David Thoreau, sunrise, sunset

{} Own it, Be a little wild, Henry David Thoreau, sunrise, sunset

If we met for lunch today, I would tell you…

I am a planner and a dreamer. Though sometimes at odds, the two characteristics keep me balanced between structure and spontaneity. My practical goals mix with out-there ideas, and paired with right people, they create something amazing.

Make it look pretty and you have me hook, line and sinker.

{The image above is the front and back cover I created for my 2015 planner. Check out You can customize just about everything in these gems. Not an affiliate link, FYI.}

This is year three using Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the year ahead workbook. It is the perfect blend of planning and dreaming all in a pretty package. First you’ll reflect on the year past then make plans for the year ahead, all guided by simple questions and lots of space to jot notes.

P.S. Keep the workbooks year to year. After reflecting on the year past, it’s fun to look at what you wrote last year.

My favorite part? Choosing a single word – or in my case this time, a phrase – to guide the year. I’ve chosen own it.

For me this means:

• own my decisions without excuses {less unnecessary apologies}
• own my mistakes {more necessary apologies}
• own my personality quirks {embarrassment takes a lot of energy}
• own my current situations {change what I can, work with what I can’t, less complaining}
• own my work-in-progress gorgeous self {embrace it all}

The workbook then guides you to select four companion words to flesh out your intention a bit more. This little word tree sets the foundation for goals, dreams and ideas in the year to come. It’s a fabulous process to help you be purposeful in 2015.

 Thanks for reading, friends!


Do you have a word or intention for 2015?
What would you tell me at lunch today?

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} mountains

{Piloting Paper Airplanes} fresh start, mountains, nature

I love new years. I love the adventure and unknowns of something new. I love a fresh start. I love the dreams and anticipation inherent in beginnings. I love the freedom to be, to create, to build. To leave behind the old, only taking what I want into the new.

Last January I was so happy to leave 2013 behind. It was a tough year I wanted nothing more to do with. Fresh start indeed. This January couldn’t be more different. 2014 treated me well.

In 2014 I…

• … stopped blogging, almost entirely, for 6 whole months.

Dear PPA, I love you, but you simply became too stressful. Brainstorming content for my writing schedule, finding time for said writing schedule, not hating the writing schedule…. instead of forcing posts, I just stopped. Cold turkey.

At first it was supposed to be a week off. I may or may not have dramatically hyperventilated because I JUST HAD to get a post published. Clearly a week was not long enough. Then a month and I breathed easier in general. Around 3 months I published a few posts and immediately hated the renewed pressure. Then…. oh, hi, 6 months.

• … moved to a new city, started a new job.

Technically both of those things happened in December 2013. Buuut…. I worked for a week before a Christmas week off, so basically I started really working January. My OCD self loves that my new city/new job fresh start happened to coincide with a new year. I’m now 12 months in and can look you in the eye as I say “I love my job.”

I can also get right in your face as I say “I love DC.” New York Shmoo York folks. If you want an east coast vacation – especially on a budget – DC is where its at. I’ll meet you for drinks on U Street.

• … simplified.

Living with a partner in roughly 700 square feet will do that to you. We cleared out when we moved half way across the country. We cleared out more as we unpacked. We got creative with storage.

We have to be very conscious what we bring in to the apartment. Often, if something comes in, something else has to go out. Simple living causes you to lose anything you don’t love. If you have the space for crap, you will collect crap. We now have a space that we love and feels very “us”.

• … found my style.

In my 29th year I feel like I FINALLY have a good handle on my personal style. This growth has taken considerable attention and thought in recent months. For the first time in a long while – maybe ever – I feel comfortable and confident in my wardrobe.

• … read. A lot.

Ahem. Over 50 books since I got my kindle in June. I am an unapologetic binge reader.

In 2015 I…

• … will continue blogging.

I’ve thought long and hard about this. If I’m truly ready to be done, this is the time. I’m not a sentimental person and I generally don’t think twice when its time to move on. Buuut… its not time. That said, I am ready to change things up around here. Simply brushing off the cobwebs isn’t enough. More another day.

• … stop making excuses.

I’m not talking about fitness yet; I mean in life. When I don’t want to go somewhere, I can say no without an elaborate excuse. I won’t feel guilty about saying no to dinner with friends because I need to introvert that evening, and I don’t have to make an excuse beyond that. And yes, my good friends are familiar with me saying something like “I’d love to another day, but tonight I’m introverting.” #sorrynotsorry

go minimal.

This really means continue the simplification I started in 2014. I don’t intend to go all out, like 100 items lists or 40 clothing pieces per season. But I do want to be more minimal in my life. Minimize things I own to only what I love, minimize habits so I have time for what I really want to do, be mindful of the TV I watch, that sort of thing. For me, this embodies a fresh start, or a clean slate, in daily life.

• … be active.

I’ll be honest. Fitness hasn’t been a heavy priority for me lately. I’ve been active with lots of yoga classes, walking everywhere, hiking, etc. But I know my body. I can’t maintain a healthy weight without 1) some serious cardio or 2) not eating.

For the first time EVER, I have an accountability partner. We started in December and check in twice per month, at least until my 30th birthday (!!!) in June. I have some goals I really really want to hit for that milestone birthday. My partner’s goals go beyond the summer, so I’ll reevaluate what I’m working on after June and continue with her from there.

• … take risks.

I have a couple things in mind to be expanded on as I make them happen.

 Thank you for reading and supporting. You are the best.
Cheers to a fresh start this 2015!