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MIXED BERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Having lots of antioxidants in my diet is important because I believe in their benefits, mainly the protection of our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are thought to cause inflammation, and inflammation is thought to be a root cause of many diseases such as cancer. Açai berries have become extremely popular because they’re high in antioxidants and they taste great! I became addicted to açaí bowls from Juice Generation. That addiction was short-lived once I reviewed my Amex bill after a month of daily consumption, so I started purchasing frozen açaí and making them at home…

Until one day I was out and still had that craving. Fortunately, I had bags of frozen mixed berries—blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Unlike açai, they’re available almost anywhere AND they’re also high in antioxidants, especially blueberries. So I decided to start making mixed berry smoothie bowls for breakfast, even when I have a supply of frozen açaí. Mixed berry smoothie bowls are simple, quick, and extremely tasty—so delicious that you’ll forget you’re eating something healthy.

You can use regular milk, but I’ve been trying to minimize my dairy intake. I recently discovered NuMilk “Make Your Own” Fresh Almond Milk available at Whole Foods. It has a clean almond taste, is dairy-free, and is free of the ingredients I can’t pronounce that are required to keep shelf-stable almond milk shelf-stable. Nature’s Path makes a wonderful hemp granola that my younger son and I love as a topping. And the best part of a smoothie bowl is that you can top it with anything you desire. Just try to keep it healthy. My younger son asks me to make smoothie bowls for him at all times of day. Have one for breakfast, or take a clue from him and consume it as a healthy snack or lunch.

1 SERVING

                      1 ½ cups                  frozen mixed berries
½                  banana, preferably ripe
  1 heaping tbsp                  almond or cashew butter
  1 tbsp                  honey or agave nectar
2 tbsp                  almond or coconut milk

   ¼ cup                  hemp plus granola
  1-2 tbsp                  unsweetened fresh coconut
 as desired                  sliced fresh banana
as desired                  fresh blueberries
as desired                  sliced fresh strawberries

Use organic ingredients where possible. Combine frozen berries, ½ banana, nut butter, sweetener, and milk in a high-speed blender and blend/purée until smooth but NOT liquid. This may require stopping and stirring a few times and/or shaking the blender to break up chunks of frozen fruit. Scoop into a bowl and top with granola, coconut, fresh fruit, and any other healthy topping desired.

FAVORITE SUMMER HATS

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Summertime is here. Well, not technically on the calendar, but the warmer temperatures and the sunshine are what I go by. The older I get, the more I feel the need to protect my skin, especially my face where my age shows first. I always make my kids sport a hat, and recently they began asking me why I’m not wearing one when that’s the case. I don't really have a great excuse, so I’ve been reminding myself to do so more and more.

Luckily, there are many great hats for summer, and they can actually enhance our appearance. And sometimes they hide a lot, like dirty and undone hair as in the photo above. I have two hats that I wear most frequently, so I thought it was time to shop for a few additional options. And today I’m sharing those with you. You’re going to be shocked when you see how reasonably priced a few of them are. And then you’re going to thank me when you see how fabulous you look in one (or a few) of them! Happy shopping! Simply click on the images below to see more and purchase.

 

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS OF NYC'S UPPER WEST SIDE

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Millions of people visit Manhattan, along with the other four boroughs of New York City, every year. It’s the only city that when people say “the city,” you know what they mean. It’s the city that never sleeps. It’s where people come to make it big, get discovered, and make it happen. When tourists tour, a few neighborhoods are typically on the top of their list for a visit. Times Square, which I’m not a fan of because…it’s full of tourists and the tacky street vendors and performers who love to take tourists’ money. The Meatpacking District became trendy about 20 years ago, and its popularity has only grown since the opening of the Highline—the south end of this above-ground park begins there. Everyone must visit Chelsea Market at least once while near the Highline. Soho has always been cool with its shopping, cobblestone streets, lofts, and longtime favorite restaurants like Balthazar. Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue are a shopper’s dream with every retailer and brand one could ever want. There’s midtown with the Empire State Building, Macy’s, and so much more craziness. Little Italy for everything Italian. Just a few ideas for you, and I could go on.

But I live on the Upper West Side, and not many people venture to the “UWS” unless they’re visiting a friend who happens to live there. This neighborhood is home to many families with young children due to its proximity to two fabulous parks, Central Park and Riverside Park, and the fact that it has a few great public schools. (You’ll die if you hear people talk about the price of Manhattan’s private schools! Even Kindergarten costs more than Harvard per year. That’s not a joke.) So this blog post is to lure you here to at least have a bite to eat.

Next week on June 11 and 12, NYC hosts one of the most special events of the summer. The Great Lawn of Central Park will be home to the NY Philharmonic in the Park for two special nights of a FREE concert. If you can make it, it’s an event you’ll never forget. Most people picnic before and during the performance, but some dine out before or after. Whether you visit next week or another time, the Upper West Side is a fantastic place because you can enjoy one of the largest and most beautiful city parks in the world and walk out of the park to dine at some of the most fabulous restaurants in the city. Here’s a short list of my favorites on the Upper West Side. Exit the park at 86th or 81st Streets, and walk west to find them. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it’s a mix of old standbys and noteworthy newcomers. In no particular order…

Marinara Pizza. I had to include this not-your-average pizza spot first because they were kind enough to allow our fun photo shoot. Lots of NYC pizza establishments serve mediocre to great pizza, but they oftentimes lack ambiance and don’t seem to prioritize cleanliness and updating their decor. Lucky for us, Marinara is a few blocks from our home, and it hits a home run on amazing pizza and decor. You must try the MVP, which has three sauces: marinara, vodka, and pesto. Yes, it sounds a little crazy, I know. But believe me when I tell you that it’s crazy delicious! They have your traditional round pies, but my favorites are Grandma and Red Sicilian Stuffed Crust, and both are square pies like the MVP. The decor is fresh and clean, with tables and barstools and a high top bar in the huge storefront windows. Their pastas and salads are fabulous, as well. And their service is truly friendly and fast. 483 Amsterdam Avenue.

Just down the sidewalk from Marinara is Bustan. It’s the best Mediterranean food around. Seriously. A group of friends and I dined recently, and every dish we ordered was outstanding, not just good. My favorites were the Israeli Salad, Market Tomatoes, Roasted Octopus, and Burrata. During warmer months, dine in their festive garden that will transport you and make you forget you’re in the middle of NYC. 487 Amsterdam Avenue.

Jacob’s Pickles is a favorite for brunchers. It’s also fabulous any other time of day. With its open storefront, even if you can’t get a table outside, you’ll still love the bright and airy environment. Think hip. Think comfort food. This place is known for their biscuits (not just their pickles), and where I come from, biscuits go with everything. But they’re especially good with fried chicken, sausage gravy, and jam. They have all of that here, too. Many ingredients like their eggs and greens are locally sourced. If you’re a beer lover, you’re in luck because their beer menu is almost as extensive as their food menu. There is always a line because reservations are only offered for parties of six or more, but it’s worth the wait. 509 Amsterdam Avenue.

Tessa is one of my favorites for two reasons: their food and they’re next to Levain Bakery. (I’ll get to Levain later.) You must try their Spaghetti—it’s scampi on steroids with the perfect balance of butter, wine, garlic, and crispy kale (say what?!?) Duck Pastrami Sliders and Octopus alla Plancha are also musts. The vibe is lively and fun, and I love the communal table in the front to get the extra energy from the bar area. 349 Amsterdam Avenue.

While I’m here, allow me to mention Levain Bakery’s second location. If you’ve never been to Levain, you must go, and this location doesn't typically have the horrendous lines of its original spot. Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and their Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies are two things you absolutely have to try or you’re going to regret it when someone tells you how decadent they are. Two locations: 351 Amsterdam Avenue and 167 W 74th Street (original location).

Eléa is a new Greek restaurant just two blocks from our home. Several establishments have been in its spot over the years, but I believe Eléa is here to stay. It’s packed, and on a weekend night, the bar and the sidewalk are filled with diners waiting for a table. Its traditional white Grecian decor will transport you, as does the selection of fabulous Greek wines. Sit either upstairs or down, as the energy is present thoughout the restaurant. Have the Eléa Chips and Octopus. I always opt for a Whole Grilled Fish served simply with olive oil, lemon, and herbs. That’s the traditional Greek style. 217 W 85th Street.

Vai has been a longtime favorite of mine, even when it was in its former location. With loads of energy and a carefully curated menu, this Mediterranean with Italian influence will never disappoint. Ingredients are often locally sourced, the food is beautifully presented, and the flavors and combinations are absolutely divine! 429 Amsterdam Avenue.

If you want good old-fashioned Italian food, look no further than Gennaro. Everything is wonderful, and the wine is reasonably priced. With several nightly specials, even locals won’t get bored. Bring cash because they don’t accept credit cards. They also don’t take reservations. That may seem a bit “high maintenance” for you, but that’s because the food is so good that they can get away with it. 665 Amsterdam Avenue.

If I didn’t mention The Mermaid Inn, those who truly know me would think I’d bumped my head. The best part of the Mermaid Inn is their DAILY HAPPY HOUR from 5-7 pm. Wines are $8.50 (yes, that’s a bargain because it’s NYC), oysters on the half shell are $1.25, and many of my favorites are available in a mini and well-priced version so you can create your own little tasting menu. Mini lobster rolls, mini fish tacos (with a fabulous crispy shell), and salmon tartare. And their full regular menu is also available. Oh, and if you want to take your kids, they also have a kids’ menu, complete with crayons and games and coloring. Stick around for their complimentary chocolate pot de crème and your very own fish fortune teller. 570 Amsterdam Avenue.

Right next door to The Mermaid Inn is their sister restaurant Pizzeria Sirenetta. They, too, have a daily happy hour. Outside of happy hour, my favorite menu items are the Fennel Sausage, Tomato, and Onion Pizza, Octopus a la Plancha, and Linguinette with Meyer Lemon and Ricotta. Both Sirenetta and Mermaid offer outdoor seating, making happy hour extra fun during warmer months. 568 Amsterdam Avenue.

Moving down the block, just one door south of Sirenetta is Amelie Wine Bar. They are serious about their wine with VERY full and very large wine glasses. You’ll surely get your money’s worth. But beyond the wine is some truly delicious food. Although they serve traditional appetizers and entrees, we typically like to share a few small and larger plates because everything is that good. 566 Amsterdam Avenue.

And finally, I’m going out on a limb and adding a restaurant that I have yet to try but is on my list. La Sirène. A friend of mine has dined twice and was apparently transported to heaven. It’s French cuisine, if you hadn’t guessed. Let’s just say, “You had me at foie gras!” Cold and seared…they offer both. So I’m there! 416 Amsterdam Avenue.

 
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Dress from Amazon, Shoes by Stuart Weitzman

 

"IRONWOMAN" SMOKY BBQ VEGGIE BURGERS

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Lately I have been trying to focus on being healthier from within. I’ve started working out again—a serious workout at Orange Theory Fitness—and I’m trying to go two or three times per week. For any of you who have tried OTF, you’ll know they monitor your heart rate. And my heart rate monitor has proven that I am really out of shape. That must change, especially since I am now halfway through the decade toward 50. And my boys are only 4 and 7 years old. This mama needs to stay healthy and fit for many more years so I can chase them, literally and figuratively.

But along with exercise comes eating better. Many years ago, one of my sister’s best friends beat Stage2/3 breast cancer. Yes, she had surgery and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. In addition, she made a strong, conscious effort to think positively—she would imagine her tumor shrinking every night as she held her son who was less than one year old at the time. But she also dramatically changed her diet after a lot of research about what many believe causes tumor growth. She concluded there were two huge culprits—refined sugar and animal protein—so she eliminated both from her diet and has never looked back. I am happy to say that over a decade and a half later, my sister’s dear friend is as healthy as can be. While it wasn’t until the past year or so that I’ve begun to make huge changes, my concerns about refined sugar and animal protein have been in the back of my mind all of these years.

Animal protein provides a lot of nutrients. Red meat, specifically, is a great source of iron. But I’m not a huge fan of red meat on a regular basis for a variety of reasons. Recently, my youngest son was found to be iron deficient. So we went to see a nutritionist to help optimize his diet in an attempt to increase his iron levels without supplements…because iron supplements for kids taste awful and are extremely difficult to mask. Luckily, there are many great sources of iron besides red meat, although plant-based sources of iron are not absorbed as well and as easily as meat sources. To assist with the absorption of iron, you can do a few things. First, Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, so eating strawberries, raspberries, citrus, and red peppers in the same meal with iron-rich foods will help. On the other hand, calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, so steer clear of foods like cheese and milks that are rich in calcium (even many non-dairy milks are now fortified with calcium) when consuming iron-rich foods. It’s best to consume your calcium and iron at least two hours apart.

Luckily for you (and me), these veggie burgers are loaded with iron, as quinoa, chickpeas, and pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds, are all rich in iron. The original recipe is from The Minimalist Baker Everyday Cooking cookbook, and I’ve adapted it to add pumpkin seeds, use a store-bought BBQ sauce, and optimize the ingredients to take the guesswork out. In my opinion, the most important factor in making this recipe delicious is to use a really smoky BBQ sauce. The pumpkin seeds add a little more crunch and a little extra saltiness, but if you don’t like the added crunch, you could always grind the pumpkin seeds in a food processor or Nutribullet before including. My four-year-old LOVES these burgers and would eat them every day of the week if I served them. They’re that good! And they’re super simple. Did I mention they’re healthy and a great source of plant-based protein and iron? You’re welcome!

SERVES 4

          1        15-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed & drained
¾ cup        cooked quinoa
½ cup       plain bread crumbs
1 tsp       garlic powder
  1 ¼  tsp       ground cumin
1 ¼ tsp        smoked paprika
1 tsp        chili powder, plus extra to sprinkle           
  1 ½ tsp        kosher salt, plus extra to sprinkle
 1 heaping tbsp         coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
¼ cup         smoky BBQ sauce*, plus more for serving
¼ cup        roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

  about 3-4 tbsp        grapeseed oil (for frying)
  4        good buns, such as brioche or potato rolls
as desired        fresh cilantro  
 as desired        red onion, sliced

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. But it’s usually a 2-to-1 ratio of water to quinoa. I measure about 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, which yields a little extra than required when cooked.

 
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Add garbanzo beans to a medium bowl, and using a pastry knife (or fork), mash, leaving a few whole. Add the entire first group of ingredients. Stir and mash together with a wooden spoon and then your hands to combine. Form a huge ball with the dough, divide evenly into 4 pieces, and shape into burger patties. Don’t make them too thick, as you want them to fill the bun. Place on a plate and sprinkle with salt and a little chili powder, if desired. 

 
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Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add enough grapeseed oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Place burgers seasoned side down and cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle the top side with more salt. Flip and cook another 3 minutes. Place on a paper towel to cool. Place on a bun with cilantro, red onion, more BBQ sauce, and anything else you may want to add. 

 
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These can be made ahead of time up to the cooking step and stored for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Before cooking, allow to sit out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

*I use Trader Joe’s Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce (you can pronounce all of the ingredients). 

BUTTON DOWN DRESSES

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Button downs. You guys know I love a good button down shirt. But my obsession extends beyond shirts. To dresses. For some reason, buttons add that little extra something to a dress. And during the summer when it’s far too hot to even breathe some days, unbuttoning can be quite liberating and cool (in more ways than one). This dress that I’m wearing is a favorite of mine from last Summer. It’s no longer available, but I’ve chosen a few additional options that will help you make a statement this season. There’s also one adorable jumpsuit in the mix. Because my obsession is real, and I’m on the hunt for a few new pieces summer. Which one(s) should I try? Leave a comment and let me know your favorite(s). And if one or two catch you eye, simply click on the photos to shop.

 
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SHOP BUTTON DOWNS

 

MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12, leaving you with a little less than two weeks to find that perfect gift for the special moms in your life. I always find it so difficult to buy gifts for my mom because she seems to have all she needs, but I have one in mind that just might work. Last year, I published my first Mother’s Day Gift Guide, and some of those gifts are still darn good ideas. But with a new year comes new ideas. Okay, a few are just different versions of last year’s ideas, but “if it ain’t broke…”

Before we get to the gifts, I have to share a few photos of my kids and me. They are the loves of my life and the reason I am celebrated today. As I was going through photos, I realized I’m not in that many. I’m always behind the camera. These are a few years old but a few of my favorites. The one just below was actually taken by my older son who was 4 years old at the time. My point is that this Mother’s Day, do yourself a favor, and ask someone to take a photo of you and your babies, even if they are no longer really babies.

 
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Photo Booth Silliness at a Charity Fair

 

So let’s get to the gifts because I’m fairly certain you came for that and not to look at photos of my kids and me. I’ll begin with fashion. All of the options are pictured below and shoppable via the text hyperlinks (words in pink) or by clicking on the photos below. Mother Nature has teased us a few times with warmer temps, so that can only mean that summertime will soon be here to stay. Every woman needs a great pair of flat sandals, and I love this pair because they’re available in a few colors. Anyone heading to the beach or pool will need a great cover-up. I love this pareo that comes in blush—my infatuation with all things blush is no secret around here. This short dress screams versatility, as I think it could be used as a swim/beach coverup, a nightgown, or comfy I-don’t-want-to-go-anywhere-today attire. Every woman needs a great robe that provides coverage but doesn’t make you sweat if you’re blowdrying your hair. This one answers the call in beautiful colors for Spring.

Accessories are versatile, and you don’t have to worry about getting the correct size. Every woman could use a few nice bags for the warmer seasons—one for the beach and one off the beach. I love this option that can be monogrammed, and don’t worry, if you order today, it will still be delivered in time for Mother’s Day. Don’t want it personalized and want a real bargain? Target never lets you down with this fabulous straw and pom pom bag. And I’d even carry it off the beach, as well. When she’s not in the sand, I’m really into bucket bags, and the clear trend seems to be “in” this year. This cutie gives you both.

Jewels! If you can’t afford diamonds, she’ll still be over the moon if you choose one of these two options. I linked a pair of Nicola Bathie earrings last year, and I’m linking a new version this year, as well. These handmade beauties will go with everything, but I think they’d be most perfect with summer whites that need a little pizzazz so you’re not accused of being boring. And the classic hoop that’s not so classic that never stops giving. If I had a nickel for every time I wore these, I’d be rolling in dough.

For the art and design lover, how about this fabulous print in acrylic from one of my favorite artists? I’m always on the hunt for home accessories, and art like this can move easily when she wants to freshen up the look of any room. Every woman and every home needs a delicious smelling candle, and this option from Paddywax is one that even my seven-year-old son and I could agree upon. He had us purchase one last weekend! Instead of buying only flowers this year (because let’s be real—they die!), purchase an inexpensive but beautiful bouqet and present them in this beautiful vase from Paloma Contreras’s new collection from Williams-Sonoma Home. And if you’re planning to serve her breakfast in bed, consider this tray from the same collection that would look great on any table (that means dining, coffee, foyer, nightstand, and even on her vanity)!

If she likes to entertain, this monogrammed marble cheeseboard is perfect. They’re already engraved, so no need to wait for personalization. I recently purchased one for a friend of mine as a housewarming gift, and we both loved it! And you’ve heard of being served on a silver platter, but this gold cake stand would be my choice over silver any day of the week, especially if a cake is resting on top.

For the cook, I’m hoping a certain someone I know reads this post and purchases this cookbook that I haven’t yet purchased for myself. Who doesn’t adore Joanna Gaines? I’m crossing my fingers that she’s as talented in the kitchen as she is when designing. And have you ever been cooking and felt like a prisoner because something you’re preparing comes with the direction of “stir continuously?” This handy gadget will impress and free up your hands for other things besides stirring over a hot stove for 20 minutes.

For the bookworm in your life, this novel is next up for me. I always trust the opinion of one of my sorority sisters, and she raved about it, as have so many others.

Finally, if all else fails, every woman likes to get gussied up every now and then. And a killer eye shadow palette is always a good idea. This one from Urban Decay is my favorite because of its versatility and beautiful neutral shades. It’s all I need. And it’s all she’ll need!

I’m featuring all of these gifts below, so simply click on the link to shop. Happy Mother’s Day to all of my fellow moms and those that do the job of a mom!

SHOP MOTHER’S DAY GIFTS

SWIMSUIT SEASON FAVORITES

Jennifer Mejia

 
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My son is strategically placed in this photo!

 

This week is Spring Break for my oldest son, so our family is on Spring Break. Spring Break is not always what it was during my college days. This year, we are not near a beach. Instead, we are in the Washington, DC area visiting family and the many beautiful sites and amazing museums. That said, I know swimsuit season is just around the corner. (BIG sigh because this body has been yearning to get back to regular exercise, and life is just getting in the way. Next week!) You know what I say? Get a spray tan…because everyone looks better with a tan, even if you’re not in the best shape.

Now that you know my secret, let’s get to the real point of the post. Swimsuits. I find swimsuit shopping one of the most frustrating tasks. Yes, it’s a task to me because it’s really difficult to find a suit that I feel comfortable wearing. If you feel the same and dread this search, I hope this post will help. The suit I’m wearing in the photo above is a classic. I’ve had it for a few years, and it’s still going strong. The top can be tied differently to be worn three to four ways (strapless or around the neck), and the shape of the cups provides great support or gives the illusion of larger breasts…whichever you might need.. The bottoms are flattering but still provide full coverage in the buttocks because, well, I need it. I’m wearing it in Indigo, but it comes in many colors.

My favorite new two-piece of the season is this affordably priced blue and white striped triangle top and high-waisted bottom. I purchased a Size 4 in both. It really looks amazing on, and you can’t beat the price.

As for one-piece options, there are so many! But I did purchase this animal print option, and at $13, how can one go wrong. I purchased a Size 4 in this, as well.

I plan to order a few more of the options I’ve chosen below. I’ll try them at home, and ship back the others that don’t flatter my figure. I really recommend this for everyone who is swimsuit shopping because it can be quite time-consuming. And it’s much easier to do it in the privacy of your own home when you’re not rushed to make a decision. Simply scroll through and click on the images below to shop. Two-piece options are up first, then one-pieces.

 

TWO-PIECE SWIMSUITS

ONE-PIECE SWIMSUITS

 

YOU'RE INVITED! LET'S CELEBRATE!

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Life is full of reasons to celebrate. From momentous events like an engagement, wedding, and the birth of a child, all the way through to our “baby’s” high school or college graduation. They all take on greater meaning when we’re able to share our joy with cherished friends and family. Whether we send invitations to a lavish party or simply mail an announcement to mark the occasion, setting the perfect tone and sharing our good news with a beautiful presentation is important. Thankfully, I recently discovered a wonderful new company called Basic Invite. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows you to truly customize your announcements and invitations AND receive a printed sample in the mail before printing (if you choose) so you can be certain it’s perfect. So today on the blog, it’s “Basic Invite 101,” and I’m sharing everything about this company that makes it a godsend for ALL of your celebration planning.

 
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It’s April, and that means graduation season is upon us, so I’m going to begin there. Your precious children have worked their brains off studying for the SAT and ACT and completing admission applications. Your entire family is exhausted from schlepping around the country for college tours. And let’s not forget the really fun part: those graduation photo shoots. Thankfully, the acceptance letters are now rolling in, proving it has been worth every second of your collective efforts. You’re all looking forward to a joyous celebration and beginning this exciting new chapter. Enter Basic Invite to help you create the perfect custom graduation invitations and announcements. Here’s the scoop!

 
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A Complete Package or A La Carte - For all occasions, including graduation, the menu is flexible. You can purchase a “5-course tasting menu” (my term, not theirs) or order just one item. Personally, for an event or occasion that has multiple pieces of communication, I can’t think of anything more stressful than designing every piece separately and trying to ensure it’s all coordinated. For graduation, at a minimum, you’ll need a graduation announcement and thank you notes for gifts received. Yes, I believe that if someone took the time to send you a card and gift, you can certainly take the time to thank them personally and walk to the mailbox. Call me old-fashioned. Below are just two of the many examples of coordinating announcements and thank you notes. Having a party? Don’t worry, Basic Invite makes it easy to create coordinating invitations to keep your theme consistent if you desire. Check out the hundreds of beautiful and creative graduation party invitations template options.

However, if you decide that you want your graduation party to take on a theme of its own, choose from hundreds of graduation party photo invitations. When it comes to customization, that’s where Basic Invite really shines. That’s where the fun really begins for any special occasion…

Almost Unlimited Colors - Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design, you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options. This ensures your card is exactly how you want it, down to the tiniest detail. This is probably the biggest game changer for someone like me with a heightened attention to detail and desire to create something truly unique and special.

Custom Samples - I don’t know about you, but when it’s a big event like a wedding, I need to know the invitation and all of its accessories are perfect before mailing. Luckily, Basic Invite is one of the few websites that provides the ability to order a printed sample of the actual invitation so you can see exactly how it will print, as well as the paper quality, before placing your final order.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes - I’m always bummed by a plain white envelope or one in color that is still a little “off” from my stationery. But Basic Invite is just as colorful with its envelopes as they are with their invitations. You have the ability to choose from over 40 different colors, making the announcement or invitation stand out even before it’s opened. And does anyone remember the episode of Seinfeld when George’s fiancé actually died from licking all of the wedding invitation envelopes? Well, put that worry out of your mind. All of Basic Invite’s envelopes are peel and seal, making their closure quick and secure and saving your taste buds for the things you really enjoy. (That would be chocolate for me!)

Address Capturing Service - For too many years, I either hand wrote addresses on my holiday card envelopes or printed out Avery Labels from a Word document. Neither is ideal, but the thought of typing 100+ addresses into an Excel spreadsheet wasn’t ideal, either. Thankfully, Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows you to simply share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media, to request addresses from your friends and family. Those addresses are then stored in your account and can then be selected during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all card orders. How easy is that?

Foil - A little shimmer and shine always add the perfect amount of glam, and stationery is no exception. Foil cards are available in gold, silver, and rose gold. You can choose flat or raised foil on all of Basic Invite’s foil designs.

 
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But graduation is just one exciting milestone in our lives. And just around the corner is wedding season. Cue the trumpets! Planning a fantastic wedding usually takes a lot of work. So why not make one part of it easy? One you’ve set the date, head to Basic Invite to build your FREE wedding website. Create your own custom image that you can share on any social media platform. Use it to save the date and collect addresses from your future guests. Basic Invite will store the information, which makes mailing invitations a breeze! Remember, address printing on envelopes is always free! When it comes to creating your wedding invitation, Basic Invite offers over 1,000 customizable options. And don’t fret over menu cards, RSVP cards, venue directions, etc. That’s easy. Need coordinating stickers for party favors or other wedding day accessories? You’re covered! From your bridal shower to all of your wedding day and wedding party needs, Basic Invite is your virtual wedding planner.

 
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I feel like my life really began after our wedding. We’ve been blessed with so many occasions to celebrate. And anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for a great invitation, thank you note, and stationery. If you’re one of those people, Basic Invite is making it easier for you to try them out now by offering 15% off with Coupon Code: 15FF51. Remember that, and keep scrolling for a few additional ideas on how to start the ball rolling for your next big life event…or a fun Halloween party or Friendsgiving in the Fall. All work and no play? They have business cards, too! The point is, there’s always a need for a beautiful presentation on paper, whether it’s an event or marketing yourself. And all of it just got a whole lot simpler.

Thank you to Basic Invite for its beautiful inspiration and for sponsoring this post.

AMAZING AMAZON FASHION FINDS

Jennifer Mejia

 
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This is the second post I’ve done on amazing Amazon fashion finds. It’s hard to believe that the items will be of decent quality when you look at the price tag on some of them. But with Amazon’s amazing return policy, especially for Amazon Prime items and members, making a purchase can be pretty low risk. So why the heck not?

 
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When it comes to fashion, I’d say I’m a high-low gal. I tend to spend a lot on staple wardrobe pieces that meet three requirements: classic, timeless, and versatile. When you mix those items with more inexpensive and trendy items, the look of the “cheaper” item is often elevated. Shoes are on thing I like to splurge on because 1) a cheap pair of shoes usually shows that, and 2) a well-made pair of shoes usually lasts a very long time. I honestly have some shoes in my closet that are over 10 years old. Always buy the nicest coat you can afford because it’s the first thing everyone sees. And if you purchase one that meets the three requirements for a splurge, then it’s worth it. The same goes for every day handbags that will stand the test of time. When buying clothing that isn’t made from the best fabric, try to purchase it in a darker color if lighter colors look cheap. Dark colors tend to hide a cheap fabric better. Always try to have one high quality item for each staple piece like black pants, a black skirt, dark denim, white denim, crisp white shirt, etc.

 
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The little black dress I’m wearing here is under $35! I was actually quite impressed with it. I removed it from the bag and hung it up. Without steaming or ironing, most of the wrinkles had fallen out within a few days. And surprisingly enough, it didn’t really wrinkle much when I wore it. Proof that some wardrobe staples don’t have to cost a fortune. Since I lucked out on this dress, I decided to look for a few more finds to try. I’m sharing my favorite finds below. Simply click on the images to shop. (I’m wearing a Small in the black dress in case you’re interested in trying.)

 

SHOP AMAZON FINDS

 

SKIRTING THE ISSUE

Jennifer Mejia

 
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It’s Monday. How many of you would like to skirt the work week altogether? Every Sunday night, my son tells me that it isn’t fair that we have five days of work and school and only two days off. Although he’s only seven, I’d say he’s wise beyond his years. This past weekend was gorgeous in New York City. We kept ourselves busy with little league baseball, Paw Patrol Live (the things we do for love!), New York Road Runners youth races, and playground time. Mom and Dad even got an adult night out to wine, dine, and chat with friends. It was really difficult to get back to reality today. But lucky for us, this week is only a four-day work week, so that sweet boy of mine will be doing a dance on Thursday.

 
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But getting back to work doesn't mean you have to throw on a suit. This skirt I’m wearing in navy is a perfect versatile piece for Spring and Summer. Style it as I have here with espadrille wedges for a look that’s weekend and work week ready. Amp it up a bit if your office is more formal by pairing it with a crisp white button-down and a sleek pair of pumps. For a more casual look, pair it with a white t-shirt and flat sandals. It has a beautifully subtle sheen that gives it permission to be dressy, yet it doesn’t have to be. And the best part is its price tag. Coming in at just under $35, you can update your wardrobe without breaking the bank. I’m fairly certain it will never go out of style. It comes in a few different colors and runs true to size. I’m wearing a Size 0.

 
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Truth be told, I like skirts for Spring and Summer because I don’t love my legs in shorts. I’d never say I’m a large person, but I’m not particularly toned. So showing a little leg is best if it’s just that for me—a little. Skirts are a perfect way to survive the heat brought on by the dog days of summer. It doesn’t get much hotter than summertime in New York City. But I know I’m not alone, as much of the country starts feelin’ hot hot hot in July and August. To help you survive while remaining stylish, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite skirts of the season. To shop, simply click on the images below, and most will be at your door within a few days.

 
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SHOP SKIRTS

 

SHOP THE REST OF THE LOOK