Smart Solutions To Make Travel Less Terrifying.

There is something very calming about being efficiently packed and organized when traveling. It makes me feel slightly smug when I can confidently stroll through the airport, knowing what is where amongst my belongings. Instead of frantically rifling through my bags that I forgot this or dropped that- I hold my head high, and pretend that, just if even for the duration of my walk from security to the gate, I am that girl who totally has my sh*t together. 

In all honesty, the rigamarole to get from point A to point B is often enough to keep me from ever leaving the house- especially with my kids. Because I don't enjoy feeling like a hot mess.

So- here are a few finds that I came across putting together the Travel Innovations segment I shared this morning on TODAY. And since live TV has limited time- plus the constant chance of the unexpected, which is part of the fun- some of these things I didn't get to fully show on air. Sooooo, consider it bonus exclusive blog reader content- see, it's all about how you spin it, right? ;)

AWAY Travel: Top quality, reasonable prices, thoughtful details- this brand makes the actual act of buying a suitcase feel fun. Instead of navigating through a sea of overpriced black suitcases that all look the same piled up in a poorly designed department store, AWAY created minimalist, well-designed rolling suitcases in on-trend colors with RELEVANT benefits (built in USB charger, unbreakable shell exterior, colors that you can actually IDENTIFY on a luggage carousel, TSA friendly- but not thief friendly- lock, interior compartments that maximize space, a snap-in laundry bag, well-built wheels, etc.) for purchase online. For a family of travelers, the genius is that the bags nest inside each other- so you don't waste valuable storage space! Not only is this a huge benefit at home- but also when traveling, between 4 of us, I often feel like half of our room gets taken over by empty luggage laying around taunting us... Use THIS link to check out all the offerings- and it will also entitle you to $20 off your purchase! SCORE!

Smart Birdy: The most glam piece of luggage ever, without a doubt. I mean- can you even handle how freaking cute this brand is? Details like rose gold hardware and an optional bluetooth speaker (because, according to the founder, when she and her friends get ready to go out on a girls trip, music is essential- she SO gets it, right?!) are just the icing on the cake. See, you can pack 60 outfits in this puppy (see how HERE)- including 4 pairs of shoes. It also has the charger element, and other fun extras- but all that aside- this bag makes every trip instantly feel fabulous.  

Barracuda: It collapses down to just 4" deep- meaning you can store in under a low couch or bed, or even hang it in a closet (it comes inside a carrying bag with a hanger affixed to make it super simple.) And if you like to work on the go- the built in laptop desk is gonna be your best friend. The height is adjustable too- so you can make your temporary in-transit work station customized for your comfort. There is a removable charger- and, perhaps the element that I least expected to love most but alas, find to be a HUGE benefit- the handle swivels 360 degrees so you don't strain your wrist. 

1 Voice Weekender Garment/Duffel: When I was in the "wedding travel every weekend" phase of my early adult life, I remember lugging a hanging bag for my dress and then a second bag for all the other stuff. Such an unnecessary pain! This starts as a garment bag- zip in a dress, suit, etc.- place your shoes in the side pockets (FYI- I was able to fit a pair of heels in each pocket- yay for small feet and shoes more delicate than a men's loafer I guess), and then zip around the perimeter to magically turn said garment bag into a roomy duffel, ready to be filled with everything else you could possibly need for a 2-3 night trip. OH- and this week the company is offering 50% off with promo code 50Off...GET ON IT!

Lo & Sons Hanover Backpack: I am going to use this backpack every single day for the rest of my life. Not only is the minimalist design very cool, but the memory foam straps make the fit incredible. It is so lightweight, has just the right number of compartments to organize instead of confuse, and the back has a sleeve so you can affix it to the handle of a rolling suitcase. I featured the brand's O.G. carry-all tote in a segment when they launched, and fell in love with the smart way Lo & Sons thinks about how real people travel. Check out the site, and I highly recommend promptly replacing every bag you own with a similar Lo & Sons version - because trust me, the version they make is SO much better. Every damn time. 

The Most Fashionable Way To Protect Your Eyes From So. Much. Screen Time.

Eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain. Yup, just another day in the life of a girl (yeah, I know, I am a hop, skip and teeny tiny jump away from- gulp- 40 but in my mind, I am still like 18 so, by girl, I mean me) who spends way too much time staring at digital devices.

Oh- you can relate? Thought so.

Research shows that more than 80% of Americans report using digital devices for more than 2 hours a day- and I am guessing that, if you are reading this, you are probably like me and use digital devices exponentially more than that. (2 hours? That is just my middle-of-the-night dive down the rabbit hole of Instagram session.)

The result of all this screen time- in addition to the obvious, like over-posting pics of your kids on social media- is so serious that The Vision Council, a non-profit organization that serves as a global voice for all things related to eyewear and eyecare, has made digital eye strain a key focus for 2017- and invited me to partner with them to spread the word.

So- I have good news and bad news. I will start with the bad news….

Unless you are crazy disciplined and can survive on less than 2 hours of screen time a day, you are susceptible to daily discomforts like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches and neck/shoulder pain.

On top of that, digital devices emit blue light, and blue light can penetrate deep into the eye. Studies suggest that overexposure to blue light may be connected to sleep disruption- since it suppresses the natural release of melatonin- and long-term vision problems. You can be groggy, irritable and uncomfortable- but hey- you made it to the next level in Candy Crush (or whatever the kids are playing these days.).

So, there’s that.

But now- as promised- the good news!

I, like over 73% of people out there according to a recent survey, had no idea that you can protect your eyes from effects of digital eye strain with eyewear. Specialized lenses featuring blue light filters and anti-reflective treatments to minimize the effects of blue light exposure and digital eye strain are, in fact, a thing.

You can get them with or without a prescription.

And, these lenses can be incorporated into ANY pair of frames.

SCORE! A reason to acquire more of my favorite accessory- eyeglasses… Even though I tend to wear contacts 90% of the time, I love nothing more than an excuse to sport (sans prescription) specs as often as possible purely for styling purposes.

The Vision Council recommends visiting your eyecare provider for an annual eye exam to get your eyes checked and discuss digital device usage.   I recommend that following the aforementioned exam, you seek out 3 awesome frames. Have your eyecare provider hook said frames up with blue light-filtering and anti-reflective lenses.

Keep a pair at your desk, a pair next to your bed, and a pair in your go-to daily carry-all. Your body- and, if relevant, your kids who have to deal with the miserable human become after a sleepless night- will thank you, big time.

(And yes, I know, 1 pair may be totally sufficient. But whenever I am shopping for glasses, I can never narrow it down to just one frame. So setting the bar at 3 will make me feel less excessive when I undoubtedly end up with like 5.)

For more info on blue light and digital eye strain, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things You May Never Think Of But Need To Do To Keep Your Home Healthy

Being an adult is serious business- this is a lesson I learn multiple times a day. Apparently just because in my head I still think I am in high school (and, on more than one occasion, have accidentally driven to my old house instead of my current one while listening to 90's and 9 and completely forgetting that it is not, in fact, 1997 anymore...oh, and I still sometimes date checks 2003 but that is a whole other story...)

Anyway- apparently on top of paying bills, grocery shopping and raising kids, as a home-owning grown up (gulp) I also have to maintain my house. And unlike laser hair removal, spray tan, skincare and hair color upkeep, when it comes to home maintenance, I quickly realized I have no freaking clue where to begin. I know what I don't know- and I do not know sh*t about the inner workings of pipes and drains and HVACs, oh my.

According to Ernesto Ruiz from Homesquare, a genius home maintenance service (currently available in Fairfield County, CT and Westchester County, NY) that has saved my life several times over- there are 5 things that you for sure need to be doing regularly so your home doesn't fall to pieces.  Since it seems very selfish for me to keep said things to myself, you can get the scoop in the video above, and I summarized the short list below as well since for me, if it isn't typed, screen-grabbed and saved on my iPhone, it may as well not exist:

1- Sump pump should be serviced 1-2 times a year. Because if it isn't working for any reason, your house could flood. And that would suck big time. 

2- Gutters should be cleaned out 1-2 times a year, ideally at the end of the Fall. Make sure that they not only clean out the gutters that run along the roofline, but also the pipe that takes the water from the roofline and pours it into the ground. That can get clogged up with leaves and other debris- and if the water can't drain, even the cleanest gutters are irrelevant- because it is just gonna be a wet, annoying, drippy, destructive mess.

3- Drains and traps in your kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room need to be cleaned out. Because gunk- food, toothpaste, product- builds up, and eventually will start to smell. Really bad. And a girl can only burn so many Diptyque candles before it starts to feel excessive.

4- Ventilation registers- ya know, those  rectangular shaped vents you see on the floor- need to be opened up and deep cleaned. They collect dust and allergens on a daily basis, and then basically recirculate them through the air which explains why sometimes my husband is convinced he is allergic to certain houses. They probably need to have someone come in and clean those puppies out. If you don't want to do them all, at least deal with the ones in common areas where you spend lots of time.

5- It is crucial- seriously- to have your dryer ducts and filters cleaned out yearly, 15,000 homes burn down from fires caused by lint-filled dryer ducts each year. That lint (which is kinda fun to pick out of the wire filter thingie in the dryer, at least in my opinion) is crazy flammable. So, combine that fact with the extreme heat from the dryer being pushed out through the duct, and you have what could potentially be a very dire situation. So get ahead of it. 

Okay- there you have it- hope this was helpful. And if you have other questions, feel free to send them my way, or head on over to the Homesquare website.

MY RECENT Under-The-Radar Discovery For Unique (Yet Wearable) Tops

I have jeans and leggings by the dozen. But the one category my closet lacks right now is the "cool tops that I can wear comfortably both for day to look put together and night to look glam/sophisticated." This is a tough ask.  See, I love my IRO Tissa Tank but the low cut tie neck is frowned upon at kindergarten recess duty. And the Wildfox sweatshirts I own way too many of are perfect for everyday running around, but if I attempted to dress those up for evening I would look like a desperate East Coast suburban mom trying to fool people thinking I was a twenty-something living in LA. 

Last weekend, I was in Charleston, SC for my cousin's wedding (so fun, by the way- and if you ever go there, you must go to Leon's Oyster Shack, best restaurant- get the Siam Salad and an order of fried chicken). While wandering the streets, my cousins and I happened upon the cutest boutique of which the name is completely escaping right now. They carried a brand I had never before seen called English Factory, and said brand has some of the most unique- and wearable!- tops I have ever seen. 

I purchased two pieces instantly: a black and white striped tee with a neoprene peplum situation, and the craziest white t-shirt with a white peplum that was short in the front and almost floor length in the back (weird, yes, but awesome). Then, on the flight home, I had "not buyers remorse" (is that a thing?) and began earnestly searching for this brand online. Go figure, Shopbop carries it- and the prices are VERY reasonable- nothing is over $100.  So get on it, okay?

PS. I just found this one on Neiman Marcus Last Call (ordering as soon as I publish this post, how cute is it? 90's inspired with much cleaner lines)- $36?! How could you not try it?

 

 

How I Discovered The Most Unexpected Anti-Aging Accessory

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The backpack is like a right of passage from one grade to the next...I remember clearly being in elementary school and spending each summer day dreaming about what backpack I would choose come September. It was like that one choice set the tone for who I wanted to be when then first day of school arrived. Granted, by week two I was usually the exact same crazy girl I had been the year prior but hey, at least the intention was there, right?

Well- when choosing a backpack for Lex to use for kindergarten, I discovered STATE Bags. And sort of wanted one for myself. But wasn't I too old for a backpack? Maybe. But if I was- perhaps that was totally reason enough to buy one and start my one woman mission to #BringBackTheBackpack. (Every mission, one woman or one thousand women, needs a hashtag.)

For Lex, I picked out this metallic shimmery version of the KANE style. And while secretly I kind of craved a similar statement option, in an effort to keep things somewhat mature, I opted for an army green version of the LORIMER.

The day our backpacks arrived, we excitedly ripped open the boxes and strapped them on. And each of us discovered something:

My discovery: If you want to instantly feel at least 10 years younger, buy a backpack. Something about the way a grown woman carries herself when wearing the same accessory she swore by in high school completely changes her whole demeanor. She walks with a spring in her step, and gives off this up-for-anything-because-I-don't-overthink-stuff energy. Seriously. Not to mention, having everything you need for the day on your person while reserving the use of both hands for important things such as holding a giant iced coffee, quick-fire texting or chasing a toddler feels damn good. 

Alexa's discovery: Backpacks are much more fun when you can admire them from afar while your mom/dad/friend carries it for you. 

I highly recommend checking out STATE bags for yourself and your kid(s). The styles are amazing, and the company does that whole "donate a bag to a child in need for every bag purchased" thing which I just love. You can find a bunch of great options on SHOPBOP, Nordstrom, and of course, the STATE website