The Smarter Shopper Series

Today, I want to introduce my new series: The Smarter Shopper. A new blog post will be posted every Wednesday from now until May! Here are some of the posts I’ll be sharing with you all:

The Art of Browsing
How to Have a Positive Experience in the Fitting Room
The Ultimate Way to Organize Your Closet

In 2011 (the year after I graduated college) I began writing this series. Now that I have the platform of my blog to share with you all, I’m so excited and hope you’ll find the content interesting and insightful. I created this content as a way of sharing my love of fashion, shopping and knowledge on the retail industry to help anyone who struggles with the enjoyment of clothes shopping.
If you know me personally or have read my About Me page on my blog, I have YEARS of experience in retail. My first job as a teenager was a sales associate at a local family owned department store and that’s when I realized I loved helping people find clothes/shoes/accessories they love and look great in. Now that I have my blog, I’m transferring my passion for shopping here in hopes you’ll look at clothes shopping in a positive perspective.

See you back here on Wednesday. ❤

Please let me know in the comments, what do you like or dislike about shopping? Let me know if you want me to cover anything specific in this series so that I can better help you enjoy clothes shopping.

My New Perspective on Food

Before I can tell you my new perspective on food, I’ll tell you my original perspective. I used to only buy enough food for the week and nothing more. What I’ve learned is when sticking to a budget- How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget  and shopping at two stores where I can pick and choose what I want to buy based on the food items prices-I can buy more each week. I also used to buy whatever food I wanted, until I started recognizing what foods my body truly doesn’t like and recognizing what foods I’m addicted to. Here are my new perspectives on food:
Stock up on frozen & pantry foods. By stocking up on these items, it means you’ll always have something to eat. The only problem I’ve seen is that sometimes I’ll forget what I’ve bought a week or two ago. To combat this issue, I write down what I’m going to eat each week for dinner. If I have to buy food to go with it I’ll write that down that too. If I’m making something with fresh ingredients, I’ll incorporate them into my dinners for the week. However, if I’m making something frozen I can choose to make half of it for the week and the other half some other time.

Since I’ve been stocking up on food, my budget can go further by buying extra items-I’ll buy a package of chicken sausage even if I’m not going to eat it that week. Or I can save money by not buying any meats that week because I already have some in the freezer. I can also choose to spend my money on something that’s the same price as chicken.
What you eat each week begins in the grocery store. Over the past few years, I’ve realized what foods my digestive system likes and dislikes. One of the things I love is chips and artichoke & jalapeno dip from Trader Joe’s, however, my body does not. Not only because I’ll devour this food in a weekend but the food just makes my stomach upset. So, knowing this, I focus on buying foods that actually give my body energy and make me feel good. Since I know what foods I’m addicted to: chips, dip, salt, chocolate, etc. I try to minimize or eliminate buying them during the week. Another thing I’ve realized is that by eliminating the purchases of these items means I have money for fresh and healthy foods. The chips and dip costs almost $6, instead I bought hummus and veggies that cost less and makes my digestive system happy.

Tip: If you don’t know what foods you’re addicted to, start by looking at what you buy each week and try to figure out why you buy these foods. Is it because they taste good but then later your body doesn’t feel good or works improper? For one week, try eating different foods to see how your body handles them.

As I mentioned earlier, I am addicted to chocolate, so to combat this I’ve tried a few different things. Last year, I used to buy a  whole carton of ice cream and eat it in a week. I realized I should try eating less sugar each week, so I then started buying Greek Yogurt Frozen Pops (they are really good!). This gave me a small portion of chocolate to consume each week. Other things I buy are chocolate almonds-they come in a small pack and because I only consume a small handful every few nights, it takes me two weeks to eat through the pack instead of a week. The other thing I’ve tried is to buy 1 or 2 chocolate candy bars a week, which really cuts down my chocolate intake. After dinner is when I’d normally have chocolate, so if I don’t have it in my home, I’ll make sure I’m eating enough food at dinner.

The point of all of this is to recognize that the foods we bring into our homes is what we’ll be eating every day. And if those items are not making our body function to its best, we should try something else, or slowly wean ourselves into eating something else. I also learned last year that if I don’t walk down certain aisles in the grocery store that means I won’t be tempted to bring those foods home.

I’m curious to know, what is your perspective on food? Let me know in the comments below or on social media IG: @stylestomakeyousmile FB Page: Styles To Make You Smile

Motivational Monday: Balance & Gratitude

I recently had a weekend that reminded me of how I got to where I am today. It wasn’t at all pretty having a negative experience to remind me of the struggles I face daily such as things like, living on a tight budget, saving money for future purchases but yet spending some money to do things that bring me happiness. It’s been hard but I’ve learned how to balance my finances with saving and spending AND not feeling guilty when I spend money on things that bring me joy-I mean I do only have one life, right?
The biggest realization I made this weekend after having a negative experience was simple, to let it go. Just let it be what it is, move on and think about something else. You can’t change the past. I’ve learned that when I put all my energy into something positive it makes me think about that instead of sitting around upset about the past.

Life will always move on. Just look outside, the world is always spinning, seasons changing. As long as you can find a balance within your experiences-by having a negative experience turn positive-you will always be able to succeed balance within yourself.

Gratitude:
I’d like to say thank you to everyone who read, liked, commented or followed me after reading: Lessons I’ve Learned at 31  When I started my blog the goal was to provide Realistic Lifestyle for Everyone. I want to create blog posts that are relatable to you all and I felt like I received a positive response from this post, so thank you ❤ My goal is to provide more posts like this and hope that you’ll learn something new along with gaining a new perspective on life.

How do you find balance within and your life and what’s something you’re grateful for? Please let me know in the comments or on social media! IG: @stylestomakeyousmile FB Page: Styles To Make You Smile

Lessons I’ve Learned at 31

This weekend I made a list of the lessons life has taught me at age 31 and I thought I’d share some of them with you all. These lessons I’ve learned have helped me grow into the person I am. I hope they help you grow into the person you want to be no matter what age you are. ❤

Take a break when you need to. Whether it’s from work, school, and your busy schedule or from someone you love. Your body will tell you when you need one-physically or if you’re like me, your mind will be saying, I need a day off to be left alone. When you take that time for yourself, make sure you do things you enjoy to help you recharge.
Your body will change physically. When I was in my late 20’s I found my first gray hair and I now have just a few more 😉 Haha. I’ve always loved to sleep but now I’ve realized getting sleep helps me to function during the day. Having a routine where I go to sleep around the same time each night helps. Certain foods I used to eat I can’t eat anymore because they upset my digestive system, instead find the foods that give you energy.

Write things down as soon as you think of them. This also goes for doing things as soon as you think of them or you may forget until later. Stopping what you’re currently doing to do what you’re thinking of is okay because you’ll remember to go back to what you were doing originally.

It’s okay to do things alone. Just like I learned to go to events alone, see in this post-Learning How to go to Events Alone & Painting Tips Being alone in public is okay. I love going for walks at the park by myself so I can think or not think about anything and just enjoy being outside. I’ve also learned to go to cafes alone so that I can blog.

You’ve probably faced dealing with a friend or family member dying of a disease or sudden death, whether they’ve lived a long life or were a child. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many people I love pass away. The lesson I learned from this is to do what you love before your life is over. The person who passed would be so proud of you for it. Life is too short not live how you want, so if you want to be doing something, go out and make it happen however you can. I know that money can hold people back from their dreams but find small ways to start and go from there.

Everyone in your life is struggling with a battle you may not know anything about until or IF they decide to share. And if they share their struggles it may make you realize why they act the way they do. Things always make sense when you know more information about a person but until you do, don’t judge them, just remind yourself that they may be struggling with something and ask if you can help in any way even if it’s just to talk.

Learning to deal with people who don’t like me has taken most of twenties to deal with. It wasn’t until I found the right people who liked me and appreciated me that I realized who matters. Don’t ever hold yourself back from being great just because someone doesn’t like you or tells you aren’t good enough to do something. DO IT ANYWAY.
Listen to advice. I have always loved reading people’s stories in books and listening to them online/TV. Everyone is on a journey and it may be similar to yours. Their advice may make you realize things about yourself that you need to change (even if someone close to you has been telling you the advice for years, sometimes if you hear it from someone else’s perspective it will click with you).

Confidence is something that I’m working on every single day. I’ve learned that it comes with believing the positive advice/things people say about you, finding a great mentor such as a friend/family member/therapist/coworker and most importantly believing in yourself. Confidence is NOT something that can be forced onto someone, so as much as you’re seeing someone else struggling with confidence, you can give them advice but know that they have to make the choice to be confident on their own.

Travel and go to as many events as possible. Getting out of the house is important and it’s FUN to do new things. Seeing how other people live is important and can put things in your life into perspective. You may even make new friends from going to new places simply because you’re interested in the things they are.

Decide what’s important for your life. People may not agree with your choices or understand what makes you happy but that’s okay.

Put your all into the things and people you love. Starting my blog has given me something to look forward to every day, I believe everyone needs this. Everyone needs people who care about them, so find the ones who do and treat them well.

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. Just like I’ve talked about in my blog post, Motivational Monday: Live the Life You Want  you have to live the life you want to live and not listen to judgement, only positivity. Focus on what makes you happy because life’s too short not to.

What are some things you’ve learned at your current age? Please let me know in the comments! ❤

How to Make Fresh Pasta

On March 3rd I went home for a Pasta Party! My Dad showed my family how to make pasta from scratch. We made spaghetti and ravioli. My Dad’s family is full blooded Italian so both his grandparents and parents learned and taught my Dad how to make fresh pasta. His family always made pasta for traditional holidays.
Over the past few Christmases my Dad received a Kitchen Aid, pasta attachments and he bought a drying rack for the pasta-these are all items his parents & grandparents would have appreciated. When they made pasta, they would roll out the dough by hand, cut it and then hang it on a broom that was placed in between two chairs to dry on. Fast forward to today and all you have to do to make the dough is put the ingredients in the mixing bowl and let the Kitchen Aid do all the work.

Recipe for Dough: 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, a few tablespoons of water and olive oil.

Mix the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl until it forms into dough which will then form itself into a solid piece (you’ll need the KA dough mixing attachment to create the dough), cut into quarters, place the pasta attachment on the Kitchen Aid and push the dough through the machine. You’ll need to do this several times and on a several number settings on the machine until the dough forms into the consistency that you prefer-you’ll need it thin for spaghetti and thicker for ravioli.
Spaghetti: Once you’ve created the right consistency (thinness) for the spaghetti, you can push the dough through the attachment and it will cut the dough into thin strips of pasta. Take the pasta and place it on the drying rack to dry. If you purchase the Kitchen Aid drying rack, it comes with a wand where you can place the middle of the pasta on the wand and bring it over to the rack without having to handle it too much. Once you’re ready to cook, bring water to a boil, the pasta will cook in about two minutes.

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Over a pound of pasta made!

 

We served the spaghetti with what we call “Seafood stuff.” This includes: crab, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes (fresh from Dad’s garden-he froze these since the end of summer), lemon, garlic and wine.

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Ravioli: Once you’ve got the right thickness for the ravioli, lay the pasta on a sheet pan, measure where the dough can be cut in half, cut there, then place the ravioli filling on the bottom portion of the dough. You’ll want to strategically place the filling straight across from each other on the pasta so you can cut down the middle and then in between the fillings. Before you cut, place the other portion of the pasta (that you cut in half) on top of the fillings and begin cutting. Once the raviolis are cut, use a fork to push into the edges to make indents in the pasta. Bring water to a boil and cook for five-seven minutes. This depends on the consistency you like.

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Strategically placing the filling on the pasta to make ravioli

 

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These are cut pretty close to perfection! haha.

Recipe for Ravioli Filling-Ricotta, sugar, cinnamon and sausage. Note: We made half of the ravioli with the sausage and the other half without it.

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Ravioli filling

 

All the pasta tastes extremely fresh, soft and you can really taste the ingredients. I promise boxed pasta won’t ever taste the same! What are some of your family traditions? Do you have any family recipes handed down from other generations? Let me know in the comments!

Motivational Monday: The Power of YOU

Before I began blogging I had read a lot of posts from some of my favorite bloggers that said to not compare yourself to other bloggers. They always talked about not worrying about your follower count, content being similar to other bloggers, etc. You have to gain an audience that enjoys your writing style for you and not because something is a hot topic to write about. You have to remember to be happy for your small successes first. And that if you put in the hard work, people will continue to listen to you just because you’re being yourself.
Not comparing yourself to others can be relatable on so many levels of life as it can be easy to make yourself question about the things you’re doing vs. what someone else is doing. This all comes down to recognizing that NO ONE ELSE IS YOU. Only you have your own ideas that you can bring to the table. Your uniqueness is what sets you apart from everyone else. No one else will speak the way you do or speak for you, know the things you know and have learned. If you can be yourself all of the time, it will show no matter what you do in life or what you’re working toward. As long as you can be honest, show authenticity and be yourself, that is what will attract the right people who will stick by you in the long.
Please let me know in the comments how you show people your authentic side. Happy Monday!

Why I Joined Style Collective

Today is International Women’s Day! I’d like to give a shout out to women all around the world!
Since creating my blog, I’ve wanted to become part of a group to interact with other bloggers to gain their perspective and support on blogging. Through Instagram I found the group, Style Collective, run by Annie Spano. Style Collective is a place for boss babe bloggers/entrepreneurs to share their ideas, tips and advice to their fellow SC Sisters. Each week Annie goes on IG Live and covers a topic about blogging. She also has a podcast-The Becoming Fearless Podcast, where she’ll interview other bloggers/entrepreneurs about their advice, authenticity and more. Once I began watching and listening to these each week, I was hooked!

I joined the group late last month (when membership was open, other times there is a waiting list to join) and absolutely love being a member! Style Collective is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people who are interested in blogging. They even have a map of the world that shows where your fellow Style Collective Sisters live so that you can meet up to collaborate or say Hi on social media! Certain parts of the world have Regional leaders who plan meet ups throughout the year-such as: coffee dates, meetings or an event to give to an organization, like donating to charity.
Here’s what I’ve learned since I’ve joined:
-I’ve gained a community of fellow bloggers.
-There are yearly conferences in North Carolina and New York City (bonus, it’s during NY Fashion Week!) that allow you to meet members in person and gain an education on blogging and business.
-When you’re a member there are: forums to participate in, a chat room, blog posts and information about meet ups and educational E-Courses.

So, to all my SC Sisters, bloggers and boss babes around the world, I’d just like to say, Cheers to YOU! Keep pushing through all of your hard work and know that you DO make a difference in your follower’s lives ❤ And to Annie, thank you to you and your team for making the group what it is and being able to share women’s stories. I wish you all much success and happiness in the future ❤

Not a member of SC? Annie announced yesterday that membership is open today only for International Women’s Day! Follow them on IG stylecollective_