valentine’s gift guide – for you!

Today I’m bringing you a Valentine’s gift guide for the most important person in your life: YOU!

We don’t often celebrate Valentine’s Day in our house, at least not in the traditional sense. I do love to pick up something special for myself, though. February can be extra-dreary, so I pick-me-up is nice! I’ve included some things I have my eye on below.

 

valentine's gift guide - a modern agenda

 

1] this graphic dolman kimono from anthropologie is gorgeous! a great piece to transition into spring. it can also be layered with a slim turtleneck over the next few weeks.

2] these blush lace-up flats from old navy are adorable. everyone has a pair, so make sure you add them to your list!

3] H&M + Happy Plugs = the cutest ear buds. we’re always losing buds in our house (or the dog destroys them!). for the price, these can’t be beat and they come in tons of colors!

4] I added this lip set to the valentine’s gift guide because I can never pick just one color or formula. this is a great set of nude basics at a great price!

5] I’ve been debating a silk pillowcase for a long time. I do wash & dry my hair every day, plus color every 6 weeks, so this would probably be a great investment for my hair.

6] I’m probably going to go buy this olive green crossbody clutch this weekend. I’m madly in love with all things olive green + anything to keep my hands free!

7] this dr. jart face mask made it on to the valentine’s gift guide because I LOVE IT. a great price for a little treat and much needed in this dry winter air.

8] I’ve recently discovered Tony Moly products and really want to try their masks. they have a huge selection at sephora, so if tea tree isn’t your thing, you’ll definitely find something to love.

9] not only does my skin get super dry in the winter, so does my hair. I love amika products and this mask is no exception. grab this along with a face mask and pamper yourself.

If you aren’t into gifts for yourself, I wanted to include a few extras in the valentine’s gift guide. You can print out your own (adorable!) valentine’s over at Almost Makes Perfect. Or you can make a night of chocolate goodness with a grilled chocolate sandwich from food52, or diy chocolate dipped strawberries from Camille Styles.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you traditionally do dinner out, make big plans or ignore the holiday altogether? Let me know in the comments!

 

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2017 resolutions check-in: what’s working, what isn’t and what’s next

I reviewed some of my 2017 resolutions a few weeks back and now that we’re one month down (!!), I wanted to do a quick check-in!

One of my 2017 resolutions was to figure out what works for me, both physically and mentally, and so far I’ve done a pretty good job. I noticed that I can handle dairy, but too much will cause a breakout or an upset stomach. So, I’ve limited my intake and switched to a coconut or almond creamer for my morning coffee.

2017 resolutions - a modern agenda

Speaking of coffee, I still have my morning cup but I’ve eliminated all caffeine after 12 pm. Because of this I’ve noticed that I am sleeping way better. I’m also not crashing in the afternoon/early evening, which provides for more energy after work to get things done! I’ve still been chugging water like it’s going out of style, but I will admit the past few weeks I’ve been slacking and can tell by how dry my skin has gotten.

Another one of my 2017 resolutions that I haven’t really talked about was to eliminate as much eating out as possible. I am happy to report that I’ve taken my lunch to work every single day in January. My grocery bill is higher, that’s true, but I have cut my eating out budget drastically. In fact, it’s been cut so much that I’m saving money in the long run. I do treat myself to lunch at the farmer’s market on Saturdays, if I go. Sometimes I’ll also grab a pre-made snack at the grocery store when I go on Sunday. What is it about the grocery store that makes me SO hungry?

2017 resolutions - a modern agenda

So, for February, I have a few new 2017 resolutions I’d like to add to my routine:

  • add in more exercise: on average, my dog gets a 2 mile walk every day and I do some light cardio on weekends. I’d like to get back to my weight lifting routine. I noticed results almost instantly when I focused on strength training 3 times a week. I’m hoping to get into a routine in February because I know by March, I’ll have much more motivation once it’s light out later in the day.
  • explore more: I talked about this a little more in my previous post. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. There have been many changes, new restaurants, fun shops and much more in my city lately. While I tend to hibernate in January, I have made a commitment to go out and see more. Recognizing the little details and discovering new things is a great way to guarantee a mood boost.

I will admit that January wasn’t perfect when it comes to my 2017 resolutions. I did have a 3-day bender filled that started with a chocolate milkshake and ended with mozzarella sticks. I’m not beating myself up over it. Sometimes, life happens. I am committing to focusing on how eating “comfort food” is impacted by my mental health and emotions.

What progress have you made on your 2017 resolutions? Let me know what is or isn’t working, or what new things you’ve discovered about yourself in the comments below!

You can also catch me on pinterest or instagram to see what I’m pinning and my day to day thoughts!

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explore your city: how do you reconnect?

a modern agenda - explore your city

When was the last time you took a walk to explore your city or town?

a modern agenda - explore your city

I don’t do it often enough, that’s for sure. In an effort to reconnect myself with where I live, I decided to simply take a walk. Not many of us live in areas where walkability is a big thing, so we’re often left driving to a specific location and avoiding all the things around us. I’m guilty of this, too! We always feel like we have so many things going on at once that it’s hard to carve out some time to discover new things.

I’ve made a commitment to reconnecting with my city. It’s beautiful, full of diversity and things I’ve never discovered. All cities have hidden gems and they’re just waiting for you to seek them out. I love walking along our riverfront, taking in the architecture of buildings built over 100 years ago. There are so many details, both new and old, that I’ve never noticed or taken the time to enjoy.

a modern agenda - explore your city

So, every week I’ve made myself a promise to explore somewhere I’ve never been, or take the time to visit someplace I’ve seen often and just observe. There is beauty in letting yourself absorb what is around you without hustling and bustling to the next thing. We have new restaurants, a great independent bookstore, an ever-growing farmers market and plenty more!

a modern agenda - explore your city

There are people who meditate and this is my meditation. For an introvert like me, it can be difficult to muster up the courage to just “get out there” but every time I do, I walk away feeling refreshed.

a modern agenda - explore your city

So, what have you discovered about your city lately? Any areas you’re looking to explore or places you’ve been that you need to reconnect with? Let me know some of the places or things you love about your town!

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taboo topics: why I march

why I march - philadelphia

I’ve been waffling on whether or not to share my experience with the Women’s March this past weekend. Why I march, and my personal reasons, are ideas that I often keep to myself, despite my love for engaging in fact-based debates. I know a lot of bloggers and others on social media have been very vocal about the event, with opinions leaning in both directions.

In addition to writing this post, I debated even attending the event. So, I made a pro’s and con’s list, like I do for most things, and the pro’s outweighed the con’s, so I went to Philadelphia (Not D.C.) by myself and met up with some friends. I didn’t take a sign. No, I didn’t wear a pink hat. Heck, I didn’t even have a plan when I left the house. For many, this was an opportunity to express their outrage at the election results, or to assert their independence as a woman. For me, it was an opportunity to recognize the work I need to do, or keep doing, to make a positive impact.

What topics were on my con’s list? My concern that a lack of inclusiveness would damper the event for me. I do consider myself a feminist, and I always have, despite all indications that it’s a “dirty” word. My personal feminist agenda focuses on empowering the lives of all people, without bias. This is something I work hard at every single day, and yes, it is work. It should be. To deny that it isn’t difficult to push away ingrained stereotypes and societal standards would be foolish. If it were that easy, everyone would do it.

When I first arrived in Philadelphia, I grabbed a 2nd cup of coffee, used the bathroom (always use the bathroom first!) and weaved my way into the crowd. The march was scheduled to begin at 10am. I arrived at 9:15am and there were already thousands upon thousands of people. People were in great spirits and the overwhelming feeling of empowerment was astounding. I could feel my heart swell in my chest when the crowd chanted around me. And as we marched, it felt like my feet weren’t on the ground. We linked arms with our neighbors. We prayed with people whose religions we don’t follow. Our speakers were confident, voicing a powerful message of inclusion and empathy towards others.

And then came the moment that I feared. A woman behind me starting yelling “next”, expressing her displeasure with the speaker. My heart sank. Before I could help myself, my head whipped around and I locked eyes with the woman. “Don’t,” I said as firmly as I could. She looked stunned that I had the audacity to say anything. I am glad that her friends swarmed her and made their way out of the crowd. At an event where inclusion, empathy and the dangers that face those who aren’t the majority were the backbone of conversation, to sneer at a speaker because you feel that their message isn’t important to you is the paramount of insults.

By now you’ve all seen the funniest signs, the cutest kids and the incredible aerial shots. But have you seen the disappointment from women of color? I have. Their disappointment is the same reason I’m disappointed, too. It makes me ask myself every day what else I can do. As a white woman, I need to get uncomfortable, start having hard conversations and make an impact that matters for everyone. If you have money, donate. If you have time, use it. Above all, make sure you’re having those hard conversations with the people around you. This means that person you always thought was a great friend and turns out not to be. This includes your crazy relative that spouts off at the holiday table. It is our duty as suppressed group of women to make sure we are standing up for all women.

This post isn’t to say that I’m upset that I attended. Not at all. I’m glad I went. The power I felt, and the swelling in my heart made the entire day worth it. Eye-opening, even. That woman, in all her oblivious privilege, is why I march.

 

 

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design predictions for 2017

Plenty of blogs are talking about design trends for 2017, so I figured I’d throw in my two cents. I love exploring design, both architectural and interiors, so keeping up with what trends are happening is super fun for me. Below are a few of my thoughts on what is upcoming based on what I’ve seen via media, blogs, etc. Let me know what trends you’re eyeing up for the new year, and if you’ll incorporate anything I’ve listed below!

  • Moody rooms : We’re gonna go bold in 2017, I have no doubt. Moody room colors have been popping up everywhere and I think all types of home design can support this trend, whether you prefer modernism, rustic vibes or even a traditional farmhouse, you can pull off this look.

design trends 2017 - a modern agenda

[ source: makerista.com ]

  • Non-white kitchens : White is here to stay, there’s no doubt about it, but I predict it will stay on walls. We’ll start seeing more kitchen designs with natural wood or colored cabinetry. The tuxedo kitchen made huge waves over the past few years and I think we’ll continue to see designs that mix it up in regards to colored cabinetry or added wood features in kitchens.

design trends 2017 - a modern agenda

[ source: centsational girl ]

  • Parisian vibes : I think the inspiration of streamlined Scandinavian design will never go out of style. But I predict we’ll be seeing more ornate decor elements in 2017. Think intricate moldings/hardware, lighter wood tones, and airiness. Not full on french country (which is still gorgeous in its own right), but loftier, chic simplicity with a touch of Parisian influence.

design trends 2017 - a modern agenda

[ source: apartment therapy ]

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things i’m loving: storage

I was fortunate enough to have over a week off between the holiday and new year, so I spent most of that time focusing on reorganization. One thing I’ve always been great at is purging things we no longer need. I’m of the belief that if we need it that much in the future, we can buy, or borrow, the same thing. There are some things I won’t get rid of, even though they’re unnecessary, like our *cough* two artificial Christmas trees living in the basement, because they would be expensive to re-purchase if we wanted or needed them in the future.

After I’ve cleared out irrelevant items, made my appropriate donations and trashed the terrible stuff, my biggest hurdle is always the reorganization that comes afterwards. I’ve been on the hunt for great storage options and I’ve included a few of my favorites below!

target milk crate

Everyone loves a good milk crate, right? Target’s new Winter home collection has some great options, with a great wood tone, at the right price!
target storage bin

I picked up 2 of these large fabric storage bins this past weekend. Trust me when I say that the photo from the website does not do them justice. In person they are more indigo than grey/blue. I snagged 2 of the biggest size and I’ll probably go back for a few of the smaller media bin size, too!west elm basket

I love having a nice, tall basket in the living room and so does my boyfriend. I’m partial to things with lids, too, because it allows you to throw anything in there without it being an eyesore. We use these for all those pillows that don’t fit on the couch but I still need, you know? (Apparently I have a pillow “problem”.)

west elm jewelry box

These lidded boxes are available everywhere, in tons of styles, which is great! We have them on our coffee table to hide remotes, and in our bathroom for random hair ties and other tiny items.

How do you store those “still have to keep this” items around your home?

 

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the most wonderful time of the year: get healthy!

No, this post isn’t about Christmas.

For me, the most wonderful time of the year starts on December 31st and lasts for about 2 weeks. Like most people, I feel refreshed, re-energized and like I can conquer the world. And again, like most, it is an excellent time to focus on how to get healthy (and stay that way!)

Many people attempt resolutions (or intentions, goals, etc.) and I’m no different. One difference this year, though, is that I already started a few resolutions a couple weeks ago! I’ve hopped on the wellness train and I’ve been chugging along, learning and adapting as needed, so I wanted to share a few things I’ve discovered. Hopefully some of these tidbits are things you can relate to in some way, whether its your eating habits, lifestyle habits or what have you.

a modern agenda - get healthy

Things I Learned When I Boarded The Healthy Train:

  • Salads for lunch don’t work for me. No matter how much other fun stuff I throw on my salad, it just never keeps me full all day. I work in an office, I (now) have some type of breakfast each day so by the time lunch rolls around, I need it to get me through the afternoon slump, an inevitable pit-stop somewhere on my way home from work and at least a small walk around the block with my dog. Man, I do love a good salad, though, so I have my salad while I’m making dinner and treat it like an appetizer. It helps me add veggies to my daily intake and it helps curb overeating when I finally sit down to dinner.
  • I really, really love coffee. And I’m not willing to give up a good cup of coffee in the morning. It’s like a hug that makes me feel like today is going to be okay. I’m fortunate that I don’t have any strong reactions to dairy, so I’ve continued to use my whole milk as creamer. I do stick to (roughly) 2 tbsp. of whole milk, though. Oh! I don’t pretend a “cup” is only one of my travel mugs… that’s actually 2.25 cups of coffee each day, so I need to remember that when I track my caffeine intake. Some days I like it sweet, and some days I don’t, so I just go with the flow on the sugar/stevia/maple syrup part. (Seriously, though, go put some maple syrup in your coffee and thank me later!)
  • My downfall is savory foods, not sweets. I love salty foods. I mean, my grandmother carries a salt shaker in her purse. I’ll take a plate of greasy, salty french fries over the best piece of chocolate any day. I’ve always loved salty foods, which is great when you want to freely snack on cheese plates for the rest of your life, but not realistic for long-term health. I do modify my worst-for-me savory foods to help curb cravings. I also noticed I was getting a bit obsessive about things, like being unable to turn down a slice of pizza, no matter who made it. Apparently, this also happens to people who love sweets. I try to find the savory foods that work for me instead and embrace how delicious they are, like guacamole, a few olives, braised mushrooms and a dash of soy sauce here and there.
  • What works for most people doesn’t work for me… and that’s okay! I think the most important part of instilling any lifestyle changes is to find what work the best for you and that goes for both your resolutions and your end game. Use others as a source of inspiration, but don’t blindly follow. There are plenty of people who can easily replace pasta with spaghetti squash. Not me. I hate spaghetti squash, but when I come across a recipe that sounds great and uses an ingredient that I just can’t deal with, I modify. The best part of this whole process has been learning what works, what doesn’t, where I can improve and where I’m already doing great.

What works for you when you’re trying to reach your goals? Do you track your progress a specific way or do things like avoid meal planning altogether? Let me know in the comments below!

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things I’m loving: banquettes

Banquettes aren’t anything new, and from a DIY perspective, instructions on adding them to your home are all over the place. I recently saw a house for sale that had a built-in banquette in a beautiful cognac leather with amazing tufting and ever since I’ve been lusting after them.

The best banquettes I’ve seen are primarily in restaurants, like this:

a modern agenda - things i'm loving - banquettes

That avocado green has my heart bursting. The tufting on the banquette is not your typical diamond or square pattern, which really elevates the height of the booth.

a modern agenda - things i'm loving - banquettes

More green, except this time closer to a jade green.

Banquettes offer a beautiful backdrop for your eating space. They can easily be the focal point or blend in to their surroundings. With details like this:

a modern agenda - things i'm loving - banquettes

What’s not to love?

[ images from: designsponge.com // designlovefest.com // kaper design ]

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a random farmer’s market day trip

If you follow me on instagram, you’ll see that we hit up a HUGE farmer’s market and flea market yesterday. My boyfriend and I had taken a few days off this week, with the intention of going to the beach, but those plans fell through. I often go to our local farmer’s market every Saturday morning, but a short drive away is a HUGE market that is only open on Tuesdays. It has everything from produce, quirky handmade goods, flea market finds and even a fruit auction! There’s nothing better than turning a corner and eyeing a giant display of fresh local goodies.

farmer's market - a modern agenda

farmer's market - a modern agenda

There were tomatoes bigger than my hand, and corn by the bushel. One of the things I love the most at the farmer’s market is knowing where my produce came from. If a stand doesn’t have the farm listed on the sign, or indicate that it was “home grown”, I try to avoid it. When we weren’t filling bags upon bags with produce, we scoped out some goofy handmade goods, like these faux alpacas below.

farmer's market - a modern agenda

Not only did they have these mini alpacas, they even had one taller than me! After we had our bags full, we snuck our way through random buildings and hallways to see what the flea market had in store for us. We didn’t see anything we had to have, unless you count the 50 cent pocket sized book full of baseball stats from 1898.

farmer's market - a modern agenda

In our opinion, no farmer’s market trip is complete unless you stock up on pickles. Always our favorite! We’re now the proud owners of extra hot garlic (for him), hot garlic (for me) and classic dill (for us to fight over). Knowing us, all three containers will be gone within a week.

farmer's market - a modern agenda

We have a fridge full of fresh produce so that will probably limit my farmer’s market trip this weekend (we filled a regular sized cooler that we had in the trunk!). What’s your favorite part of your local farmer’s market?

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beauty products to steal from the guys

beauty products to steal from the guys

With thousands of beauty products available, and all sorts of gorgeous packaging, it can be hard to determine what products work best for you. Sometimes products marketed for women specifically just aren’t up to snuff. I often find myself buying these products from the men’s aisle instead.

[ 1 ] Every Man Jack Eucalyptus Mint Body Wash: this is by far one of my favorite products. My boyfriend had a bottle of their citrus scrub that I really liked, and then I discovered this at Target. I remember Bath & Body Works used to have a similar body wash that they’ve discontinued and I’ve missed the combination of eucalyptus & mint ever since. This is great for those mornings where you can’t quite wake up, because the scent is fresh and invigorating.

[ 2 ] Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer: put this on your “must buy” list for winter. I picked this up for my boyfriend’s stocking last year and promptly stole it for myself. Whoops! It doesn’t leave your hands greasy and packs a ton of moisture to help prevent flaky hands and cracked knuckles when temperatures drop.

[ 3 ] The Body Shop Maca Root Razor Relief: this is a great buy for your beach bag. If you’re anything like me, constant shaving of your underarms (especially after the pool) can leave them feeling tender and prone to razor burn. This works better than any other razor relief product for women that I’ve used.

[ 4 ] Gillette Mach3 Razor: while we’re on the subject of shaving, can we just admit that women’s razors are usually terrible? I used this once at my boyfriend’s house in a pinch and I’ve never looked back. It stays sharp, even when stored in the shower, and reduces the razor burn on my sensitive skin if I do a quick shave without any shaving cream. Bonus: men’s razors are usually cheaper than the women’s equivalent.

[ 5 ] Anthony Advanced Formula Lip Balm: for those harsh days, especially in the winter or super windy days. This leaves your lips looking matte, not glossy, which I tend to prefer unless I’m specifically using a gloss. I also find myself not applying this as frequently as other lip balms because… it actually works!

If you give any of these products a try, please let me know your thoughts! While there are clear differences between a man and woman’s skin, these products conveniently work for both.

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