Vacations are awesome. There’s truly nothing better than exploring a new place or relaxing on the beach for a week. However, the hard truth is that we can’t always afford to or have time to go on vacation. That’s where the staycation comes in. A staycation is basically a vacation from everyday life without the time and the hassle of actually traveling somewhere else. When you think about it a staycation is the best of both worlds as it provides all the relaxation of a vacation without the stress that comes with actually getting there.
Going on a staycation can be as easy as hosting a BBQ in your backyard or going on a long hike at a nearby trail. When you live in a big city like New York you often find yourself staying in the same neighborhood and going to the same places time and time again. So I like to use my staycation time to get out of my neighborhood and borough and discover new parts of the city. During the summer, I like to visit The Rockaways in Queens or go all the way uptown to The Cloisters. There are some awesome beaches in The Rockaways. I still can’t believe that you can take the subway there. It’s almost like being on the Jersey Shore rather than New York City. There’s even a genuine Venezuelan arepa bar right on the beach.
In New York City weekend brunches are an absolute must. Sometimes I can’t imagine even eating on the weekends if my day doesn’t start with brunch.
My friends at citizenMag recently treated me to a fab brunch at La Contenta, an adorable Mexican place on the Lower East Side. After having brunch there, I already can’t wait to go back. Not only is it moderately-priced by NYC standards, it’s also delicious. During my visit I had the best guacamole and huevos rancheros that I’ve ever had.
The margaritas at La Contenta are not only delicious, they are also naturally sweetened with ingredients such as agave so you don’t have to worry about added sugar and calories. They actually specialize in agave-based cocktails and spirits. In my opinion, natural sweeteners taste better too because they aren’t overly sweet. I often don’t order cocktails because I don’t want to be ingesting artificial sweeteners and added calories, but I was totally fine with ordering two at La Contenta. Since I saved on the sugar with the margaritas, I decided to order a slice of tres leches cake for dessert.
Having a Venezuelan mother, I grew up around a lot of tres leches cakes and flans, but I was never a huge fan of them because the consistency was always too watery for me. But since I’d already had a tasty Mexican brunch, I figured “when in Rome” and ordered the cake. It was super yummy and had a lot more structure than most of the cakes and flans I’ve had. It was a great finale to the brunch.
If you’re planning a brunch at La Contenta (which I hope you are), I suggest making reservations. It’s a small restaurant that could easily fill up fast. So make a reservation just to be safe. On top of going back for another brunch, I also want to go back for happy hour for more naturally sweetened cocktails.
I want to start out by saying that I currently have no financial or branded affiliation with ClassPass. This is in no way a sponsored post. I’m simply an ordinary member who loves it and wants to share how it has made me a fitter, better and happier person. Here’s my story…
As a kid I was never one for competitive sports. I wasn’t at all athletic and as soon as I was old enough I was cut from every team. I then channeled all of the rejection and frustration I felt from sports into theater and had a blast being in three high school musicals. Since I already had a naturally slim figure in high school and throughout college, I never gave much thought to fitness. In college I tried yoga and discovered my love for group fitness. I loved how non competitive yoga was and how supportive everyone in class was no matter what your ability. It wasn’t about winning or being the best, it was just about getting your mind and body in shape.
Almost two years ago I saw that I had gained weight and I started running outside and on the treadmill. I opted for running because it was free and I could do it on my own time. However, I hated every second of it. There’s nothing more isolating than running without a destination while listening to the exact same playlist day after day. While I would always look for excuses not to run whenever I could find one, I kept doing it because I felt that I had to in order to lose weight. I soon realized that I was punishing myself for no reason and I needed to find something that I actually liked if I really wanted to be a fitter, healthier person. So I remembered my love of yoga and group fitness and signed up for ClassPass. I’m now in the best shape of my life. I take a class through ClassPass almost every day not because I feel like I have to in order to get skinny, but because there’s nothing I’d rather be doing after work or during my free time on the weekends.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with ClassPass, it’s a subscription service available across tons of cities that allows you to pick up open spots in fitness classes at thousands of studios. For $130 a month you can get unlimited classes with a limit of three per studio per month. While $130 a month may seem like a lot, with classes in New York and other major cities going for $20 to $50 a class, it’s actually a steal. Unlike a gym, there are no initiation fees or year long commitments. If you travel you can use it in any of the 30+ cities available at no additional cost. Without ClassPass there’s no way I would be able to afford to workout as often and as well as I do. My Visa card and I are both thankful for the opportunity to workout everyday without the financial stress that can come with studio or gym memberships.
Another thing I love about ClassPass is the variety. One of the reasons I never worked out before was because it was boring. ClassPass provides me with a sense of discovery every time I visit a new studio. It keeps working out exciting and makes returning to your favorite studios an adventure too. Everyday is an opportunity to try something new. In a week you can do everything from yoga to pole dancing to spinning or even fencing.
Whenever I visit a new studio or one of my ClassPass favorites, I always feel so welcomed into each unique community. I’ve taken close to 150 classes since I signed up for ClassPass in July and have yet to go to a studio that isn’t 100% welcoming and genuinely interested in my fitness goals. On top of the numerous studio communities I have been welcomed into, ClassPass also provides me with a vibrant community of people interested in bettering themselves through fitness. Whenever I meet another ClassPasser, we automatically start gushing about our favorite studios and classes.
When I first started running and eating healthier I saw some results, but I still wasn’t completely happy with the tone and shape of my body. Now that I love the workouts I do, I’m seeing results that I never thought were possible. I lost another 20 pounds since joining and almost everyone I know has commented on how much weight I’ve lost. When you run, the only calories you’re going to burn are the ones you burned on your run. But when you do resistance training such as barre and yoga you’re building muscle which burns more and more calories for you throughout the day. Now that I’m starting to see my abs again, my muscles are burning calories all the time, not just when I workout.
However, it’s not just the physical change that has made me happy. I have so much more energy and feel so much better that I have in years. Like I said earlier, I no longer feel obligated to workout. I just love doing it and by loving my workouts I can love myself more. In a few months I’ll be turning 30 and I feel fitter and more alive than I ever did in my teens or early 20s. I’m so thankful to ClassPass for making this amazing experience possible and affordable for me. Namaste.
If you’re looking to get back in shape, here’s my advice – choose something you love and do it for you. That’s the only way you’re ever going to see the results that you want.
UPDATE: ClassPass has raised their monthly unlimited rates in New York to $190 a month for current members and $200 a month for new members. They are also offering a 10 class a month pack for $130. While price increases are never fun, I am still an unlimited ClassPass member.
* This post is not affiliated or paid for by ClassPass and tracking links are standard for all members.
Starting a blog has been one of the hardest and most rewarding adventures of my life. It’s given me a place to express myself like never before. It’s a place where I always call the shots. It’s the ultimate outlet for my creativity. Through blogging I’ve gone to events that I would have never gotten the chance to attend. I’ve also met amazing friends who I never would have met had I not been a blogger. I love what I do and couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve created.
However, knowing what I know about blogging today and getting to the place I am now didn’t happen overnight. It took years to really carve out who I am as a blogger. To this day I’m still working on improving the ways I tell my story through words, photos, hashtags and more. While I’ve come a long way, I know I still have a long way to go and that it might be a bumpy journey from time to time. But my passion for blogging and sharing all things fabulous is what keeps pulling me through to the next level.
That being said, I’d like to use what I’ve learned to help others with the same dream develop their future blogs. Here are my words of wisdom for those of you looking to start your very first blog.
Don’t blog to make money
It seems like almost every day an article comes out about some tween or twenty something who’s making a fortune blogging. While that’s awesome for them, that is absolutely not the case for most bloggers. The truth is being a blogger is a lot more like being a singer or an actress. While there are a lot of talented people out there, most of them earn their livings from other jobs. So don’t quit your day job to start a blog because you’re probably going to need it.
The only reason you should start a blog is pure passion. If you’re not 100% passionate about the content you’re putting out there, don’t start blogging because you’re sure to lose interest quickly. While it’s great to get tons of likes and traffic, validation from your audience can’t be your motivation either. You have to genuinely love what you’re doing and love your posts and photos the same whether one person sees them or a million. Blog for you and others will take notice of your passion.
Starting a blog can be exciting so it’s easy to get carried away when you first start out. Don’t hire an expensive developer or get a big server when you first start your blog. I made this mistake and I am still paying Chase Freedom for it. Start off with a simple theme and let your content lead the way. You can always do the big spending later once you’ve monetized the site.
Put a high value on your time
Even if you’re not making any money on your blog yet, your time is still valuable. Don’t work with brands or partners that aren’t giving you anything back. If you’re not getting value back out of the events you’re going to or the people you’re working with, they are not worth your time. Just politely decline and move on. If they ask why you’re not working with them, tell them the truth. It’s perfectly fine to tell them that you’re not interested in walking down a one way street.
For example, I do not cover events that I was not personally invited to. In the past PR people have sent me photos of events that took place in New York City, but didn’t bother to invite me. I could have easily attended, but they didn’t take the time to include me. In these cases, I have politely responded to the email saying that I never cover events I’m not invited to and not to send me any information on events without extending me an invite. I have also left events early and not covered them when I was treated poorly.
Unless I absolutely love the product and use it all the time in my everyday life, I do not review products without payment or having been sent the product for free. Otherwise there’s really no motivation for me to do so.
Now that you know that you probably won’t make tons of money right away, it’s time to start thinking about what you define as success. I have often attributed success to getting invited to an exclusive event or having a brand I love reach out to me. I also see a lot of my success in the people I’ve met through blogging. Some of them are now my closest friends. Success can also be getting featured somewhere or getting samples of the latest products.
Don’t post just to post
While I’d love to post more often, I refuse to post anything that I’m not 100% happy with. If I don’t love it and think it’s perfect, it doesn’t get posted. If you don’t absolutely love it, don’t post it.
The best way to be original is to be yourself. While there may be tons of fashion and beauty blogs out there, yours is the only one that stars you. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Both brands and people will see right through a fake persona so being you is the best way to be successful.
You should take your own photos whenever possible. Invest in a DSLR camera such as a Canon Rebel or Nikon D5500. Again you can always upgrade later. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a photographer, you should still try to take your own original photos. When I first started my blog, I thought it was all about my writing and I soon realized that photos were just as important. So my art grew into photography and I’m getting better and better at it.
No matter where you are when you start your blog expect your art to evolve. Your blog will change just as you do and you should embrace this evolution.
New York Fashion Week may look glamourous on Instagram (and in many ways it is), but for us bloggers, it can be a hectic week of back to back events and absolutely no sleep. Luckily, there’s a part of Fashion Week that’s exactly the opposite. In the New York Fashion Week lounges, coffee and champagne flow freely and you can relax with your BFFs (Best Fashion Friends). Talented hair and makeup artists are often on hand to help you look picture perfect in your street style photos and if you’re really lucky, you’ll be treated to some sweet swag such as makeup, handbags and jewelry. It’s every girl’s dream come true!
When you’re running around all day, lounge time is a must to recharge yourself and your cell phone. While many bloggers use their Fashion Week lounge time to get out posts in between shows, I like to make the most of the branded experiences and catch up with my blogger friends. If you didn’t have time to do your hair or get a manicure before the shows, a lounge can be a lifesaver. Maybe someday we can make New York Lounge Week a thing?
Here’s what my lounge life has been like so far this New York Fashion Week:
I had an amazing time catching up with my blogger friends at the ShopStyle lounge! I even got this monogrammed GiGi New York purse. It’s the
Stylists from R+Co did an amazing job on my hair at the ShopStyle Lounge and taught me how to do modern curls.
The Maybelline Lounge on the top floor of Milk Studios was the perfect way to end the day. They had an awesome deejay and I got to stock up on my favorite Maybelline products.
I walked on a virtual runway in the E! News and TRESemmé Lounge at Skylight at Moynihan Station.