When I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 am last Friday and stumbled into a cab headed for the airport, I was doubtful 72 hours in Mexico could feel like enough. But thankfully I was oh so wrong! With a direct flight from NYC and short trip from the airport to the hotel, we had our feet in the sand before noon on Friday. For the next three days it was a blissful cycle of breakfast, beach, pool, lunch, pier jumping, endless cocktails, and dips in the heated pool and hot tub. This is how every bachelorette party should be. Hands down.

We stayed at the Blue Diamond Riviera Maya, which I found through Jetsetter. I love how all their hotels are thoroughly vetted. As someone who’s pretty anti- all inclusive (the food is somewhat of a risk…), I cannot recommend the hotel enough. It was perfect for our stay!

Here are a few pics from our trip if you’d like to see…. and hey, tomorrow is April! Spring is truly almost here.

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The title of this post could signify a whole host of things for me right now, but I actually mean it in the most literal sense. As in, literally regaining my physical strength. I don’t dabble too much in fitness around these parts because I’m far from knowledgeable on the topic. But it’s a key part of my life (despite having been the least athletically inclined adolescent), and it’s played a major role when it comes to weathering the ups and downs of day to day life lately.

I was anti-sports from a pretty young age. It probably had something to do with being so shy, but gym class and organized sports were kind of my worst nightmare. I’m also the absolute worst person to attend a sporting event with. Unless you feed me endless hot dogs and pretzels, then I’ll keep to myself and stop complaining. I wasn’t a complete couch potato, though. I danced. A lot. My poor mother spent most of my childhood shuttling me to and from tap and ballet lessons for close to 10 years. So in that way I always enjoyed being physically active, but the traditional forms of exercise felt so foreign to me. That yearly physical fitness test was my biggest fear. Having to run around with all of your classmates and then be scored? Horrible!!

But the worst part was that the whole format of typical “gym class” lead me to believe for much of my childhood and teen years, that I wasn’t naturally skilled when it came to exercise. I forced myself through and then gleefully made it to college where no one could ever make me take a gym class again. Thank God! And then it was freshman year, and like most new college students, the pounds began to pile on. Generous daily portions of ice cream and Tortilla chips (hint of lime, anyone?) did not help. So I went to the gym for the sole purpose of not having to buy an entirely new wardrobe. But not really knowing what to do, I became your typical elliptical and five pound weight girl. An endless amount of time on the elliptical at a pace where I rarely broke a sweat, and brief period of “weight lifting” with little weights, perhaps a crunch or two, and I was out. My methods did not aid me in avoiding that entirely new wardrobe….

Flash forward a few years later. A combo of studying abroad and getting off of the school meal plan put an end to the constant junk food I was consuming, and helped return my body to its more natural state.   Once I left school and started working, the sitting at a desk all day situation had me really craving exercise. For the first time ever, I did some research. I despised cardio but knew I needed to do at least a little bit of it, so I was thrilled when I discovered HIIT (high intensity interval training). Instead of jogging on the treadmill for an hour, I could rev up my heart rate in a mere 20/25 minutes through a combo of sprinting and walking. One minute sprinting, one minute power walking. I had to switch so quickly between the two, I never had time to think about how much time I had left! And the back and forth really got my heart rate pumping, turning me into a perfectly sweaty mess.

It was around this time that I also got into weight training. I don’t know what sparked the interest, but I was really jazzed by the idea of being able to lift heavier weights and  actually toning my body. I did some research and started a circuit of strength exercises at the gym. I got a bit stronger and began trying heavier weights, but I definitely wasn’t pushing myself enough. I carried on in that way for the next several years, gaining some strength but not really seeing too much of a change in my body.

That brings us to 2012. I was at the gym, doing some basic tricep exercises, and one of the trainers stopped me.  She informed I was positioning my arms completely incorrectly, making the exercise pretty ineffective. What a wake up call! I booked sessions with a trainer that day. And for three months I was pushed farther physically than ever before. I also had never felt better  in my entire life. That exercise endorphin high? I could NOT get enough. Over those three months I learned the best way to work my legs, arms, back (never did that before), and core. I saw changes in my body almost immediately. The day I was able to do bicep curls with 20 pounds in each hand was mind blowing! My exercise levels have ebbed and flowed since then (with some definite inactive periods), but whenever I get back into now, my body responds much more quickly. I think it’s a combination of having sort of this base strength, and then really understanding how to push myself physically to get back into shape.

I realize trainers are an investment but this was seriously some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I haven’t done another session since that summer. I may down the road, but for now I’m seeing results on my own. And given how sore I’ve been lately, know I’m definitely pushing myself.

So what do my workouts look like? When I’m on my best behavior, it goes like this: 2 days a week I’ll do an HIIT workout (20 minutes) on the treadmill, followed by 35-40 minutes of lifting. One day I’ll focus on upper body and core, the second day on lower body and core. Another day I’ll do 45-60 minutes of just lifting/toning exercises, with a focus on back, core, and overall body strength. The fourth day I’ll try to do something like a Soul Cycle class to cover cardio in a fun way, or if I’m feeling like I need to stretch myself out, an at home yoga DVD. For me, four days a week is what works. Between that and running all over the city, it feels very active.

I have to credit a few sources of online inspiration. Jen of Peanut Butter Runner is one of my absolute favorite fitness bloggers. I loved her recent post on why women should be lifting weights. Kris of Young Married Chic also has great advice on getting into lifting and structuring your time at the gym. And Grace has been providing some amazing feedback on NYC based fitness classes as of late.

Aside from the physical side of things, exercise is almost more important for my mental health. It’s the only time in my day where I can complete disconnect from everything happening around me. The anxiety subsides and I’m able to really get out of my own head. It also leaves me feeling powerful and strong- physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s my ultimate me time.

Props if you’ve made it this far. My fitness journey did turn into a bit of a novel :). Thanks so much for letting me share it. As I said, I’m by no means an expert, but if you’re looking for some guidance on breaking into strength training and kissing the elliptical good bye, feel free to reach out! And I’d love to know, are you guys into strength training? Is exercise your me time? I’d love to hear.

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Last Sunday was the first time I cooked something more than eggs in my new digs. Nothing too fancy, but it really made the space start to feel like home. I made my salted maple pecan olive oil granola (aka the best granola on the planet.. yep, claiming that title) which never fails to make my cupboards feel complete, and a batch of this chickpea yogurt dip. Have you guys made that one? It’s so good and so easy! This go around I also implemented Deb’s technique for getting super smooth hummus (removing all the skins from the chickpeas), and WOW, did it make a difference. She was not kidding about the texture. It’s worth every second of extra work… and it’s truthfully not that much work.

It’s still gonna take me some time to get back to creating new dishes at home. High hopes for next week! In the mean time I rounded up some of my fave dishes burried within the archives. Such good stuff here:

  1. Sweet + Salty Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars
  2. Buckwheat Pancakes with Maple Berry Sauce
  3. Popcorn Crunch Sundaes
  4. The Best Roast Chicken
  5. Sweet & Spicy Sesame Noodles with Rainbow Veggies
  6. Nutella Hot Chocolate
  7. Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese
  8. Linguine with Butter, Pecorino, and Arugula
  9. Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade

Make some of it this weekend… ok? And a huge thanks for all of your heartfelt comments, emails, and messages on Monday’s post. It was not an easy one to write, but I’m so glad I did it. Have a good one! xo

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I vividly remeber when I first met Rebecca Atwood. It was the summer of 2012, and we were seated at a workshop thrown by my beloved Jess Lively in Brooklyn. In those types of environments, everyone tends to engage and participate in varying manners, but Becca was truly all hands on deck. The girl had concrete dreams and she was really ready to make them happen.

And happen they did, with the launch of Rebecca Atwood Designs in March 2013. Now, a year later, to witness all that she has accomplished with her breathtakingly beautiful textiles line- it blows my mind and warms my heart all at the same time. The strides she’s made and success she’s experienced in a brief 12 months is truly noteworthy, and her newest collection  falls right in line with that. I couldn’t let the launch go by without making a mention here and sharing some of the beauty that is Becca’s work. Aren’t these pillows astounding?! I think so (and so does the NY Times!) Bravo, Becca.

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All Photos by Emily Johnston


Just a few things I’m currently loving….

  1. Need to add a simple striped dress and light brown belt to my summer wardrobe.
  2. Samoa popsicles? Just. Stop.
  3. As I begin the decorating process for my new bedroom specifically, I love the idea of pops of neon against a neutral backdrop.
  4. Yellow blooms for spring… yes please! Did you know these flowers belong to the Mimosa family?
  5. Might as well embrace the lingering winter citrus with a cocktail.

What are you guys loving this month? And by the way, all of these images were pulled from my Pinterest boards! Follow along here.

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