April 28, 2015

What's in my Suitcase: Iceland Edition

Suitcase: Iceland Edition

Suitcase: Iceland Edition by steph-gregerson **there are affiliate links in this post

The excitement is real. We are heading off to Iceland soon. This trip will mark my first time leaving this continent and there was more planning in this trip than any that we've done in the past. I love nothing more than planning a vacation and making my lists.

Now that our packing lists are completed, I wanted to share with you the things that we knew we had to have in our suitcase for our Iceland adventure.

1. Rain Gear - The weather can change quickly, so we got The North Face Cloud Venture Jacket Womens because it's been rated the best of 2015 outdoor gear. Justin got the male version.

2. Hiking Gear - I have some old school New Balance shoes that are all terrain. I couldn't find the link to my exact shoes, but New Balance has been my favorite for years and every pair I've owned I have loved. I added a pair of hiking pants to my closet for this trip. Marmot Scree Pant Women's Black are the ones I found at REI and were recommended by one of their employees.

3. Warm Clothes - I couldn't live without my Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket for Women (Medium, Black). It is the best item of clothing I own. It was expensive, but it helps me stay warm all winter and is the best for layering in all kinds of temps. I'll be packing a good hat, gloves and a base layer. The temps currently are in the 40's, but we want to be outside as much as possible, so staying warm is important.

4. Swim Suit & Towels - Duh, this is the land of the geothermal pools. We have seen so many pictures of natural pools just a few hundred feet off the Ring Road, so we are planning to make a few pit stops and enjoy this part of the country.

5. Accessories and Gear - Sunglasses, FitBit, Backpack and the camera. Oh there will be pictures. You can follow along on Instagram with #fireiceandgregersons if you want to see the few we post when we find wifi.

6. Rangers Gear - It's playoff time. Even if I can't be at the game cheering them on in person, you better believe I will be representing my favorite team all over the world and checking in on the scores when I can.

Is there anything I'm missing? Have you ever been to Iceland? EEEEEEEEEK. I'm so excited. 

April 27, 2015

My Favorite Things

I turn 30 years old in less than a month. I'm over the moon excited to celebrate birthday month for all of May. To kick it off (even though it isn't quite May yet), I'm sharing a list of 30 of my favorite things. Feel free to send one of everything for my birthday.


1. Brunch. Eggs, french toast, bloody mary's, pancakes, mimosas and fresh fruit.
2. Seasons - all four of them for different reasons.
3. Playoff Hockey. GO RANGERS!
4. Starbucks You Are Here mugs.
5. Clean sheets and new pillows.


6. Candles.
7. Skinny jeans - they are comfortable and I'm so glad they are a thing.
8. My library card.
9. Toms shoes - I have multiple pairs but they are so comfortable.
10. Instagram. It's my favorite social media site because I love looking at pictures.
11. Fruity beer. Watermelon, Grapefruit, Strawberry. I love them all. Also, Wine & Sangria.


12. Celery with Peanut Butter.
13. Musicals - movies & Broadway. Newsies will always be my favorite.
14. Dresses. Maxi dresses, sun dresses, fancy dresses.
15. Memoirs. I love reading real stories of other people.
16. Lush Bath Bombs.


17. Green smoothies. I love spinach mixed with fruit every day.
18. Really soft t-shirts. If they have a clever saying on the front, they are even better.
19. The best blanket in the whole world.
20. Pizza. Every damn kind (unless there's meat.)


21. Method cleaning products and soap. I love the smells of all of them.
22. Bravo.
23. Scarves. I can't have enough of them.
24. Mail. I love sending mail and getting mail. Postcards, letters, packages.
25. Netflix. What an amazing creation. How else could I have seen Gilmore Girls from beginning to end?
26. Cheese on everything. All kinds of cheese. Goat cheese is my current favorite.
27. Sunglasses and sunscreen. I couldn't handle the summer without them.


28. Sweatpants and sweatshirts and all things comfortable.
29. Doughnuts. The plain ones, the sprinkled ones and the fancy ones.
30. Planners and lists. They make me productive and happy.

Oh how I love a list. Tell me a few of your favorite things.

April 24, 2015

Thank You Notes Vol. 8 (Plus a $130 Giveaway)


I posted this on Instagram yesterday and it just made me so happy. I'm not a huge fan of overly staged photos and I realize that this looks like one, but it's what was sitting on the corner of my desk yesterday. We are finalizing our Iceland plans for May, starting baseball season and our whole apartment smells like spring with that candle. I turn 30 exactly one month from today and I'm so excited.

Since it's Friday and my mind is bouncing all over the place, I'm going to follow Jimmy Fallon's example and write a few thank you cards.

Thank you Spring for bringing back cold weather and helping me prepare for our upcoming Iceland trip. But really, please be sunny this weekend because I want to play outside all weekend.

Thank you New York sports teams for keeping my life exciting. The Amazing Mets are the greatest team in baseball this year so far and the subway series kicks off this weekend. Also, the Rangers. I just love them so much. And I love playoff season.


Thank you BYOB restaurants. It makes dinner so much cheaper and we can choose whatever wine we want and drink 3 glasses each for the price of one.

Thank you Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki for giving me nonstop Iceland inspiration and for answering some of my ridiculous questions. I may have stalked every single one of your Iceland posts over the last few weeks and I'm not sorry about it.

Thank you Minnesota for saving the snow for after we left town. I don't think I could handle it and if there's anyway I'm ever moving back, that can't happen. Also, I appreciate your bloody mary skills.

Thank you Library card for keeping me stocked with books to read. It's helped keep the TV off and saved my Amazon account a ton of money. How did I not get a card the second I moved out here? I can get all my magazines online through them too. It's just a good business decision. Like 2 for 1 drinks.

Thank you Cherry Blossoms, Brunch, NY Green Expo and Hockey for sponsoring this weekend. Please be sunny and beautiful. I'm begging you.

Now, here is a fantastic giveaway from some awesome ladies and you should enter it.

Need some cash to spruce up your spring wardrobe? How about $130 to Anthropologie!? I've partnered with some fantastic ladies to bring you this giveaway. Enter in the rafflecopter below!

Ashley ~ The Nashvillian // Alanna ~ Alanna & Company // Erica ~ Coming Up Roses
Steph ~ Insert Classy Here // Kaelene ~ Unlocking Kiki // Kerri ~ Cheshire Kat
Brooke ~ Brooke Meagan Jones // Alexandria ~ A Modern Girl's Travels // Helene ~ Helene in Between 

April 23, 2015

Hometown Visit - Back to Minnesota


This picture was 100% necessary because I love the Twins and I love America. But anyways, we spent last weekend back in Minnesota for a wedding. The weather was beautiful and we set up our plans to be spaced out and not overwhelming.

We had a weekend full of good food, bloody mary's, sunshine and the Mississippi River. We had wonderful time with friends, some great family time, lots of puppy kisses and some time just the two of us.

This is my puppy niece, Molly. She is such a rockstar that she has her own Instagram account - follow her here.


Obviously, you must pose with any farm animals you find.


Lunch with dad. I got my first hint of a sunburn sitting on the patio at Sweeney's. Spring has arrived!


Friends night on the patio complete with a selfie stick photo and more sunshine.



Bloody Mary's are so much better in the Midwest than ANYWHERE ELSE.


The wedding was amazing and we got some time in with the girls, plus a stop to see Sawyer before the big event.




We partied like rockstars and made it until 1 AM. My dancing shoes were definitely on, but no one can top my niece's dance moves.

Sunday AM, we went for more bloodies and then with a few hours to kill, we bought $10 tickets to the Twins game.







We finished our trip with a quick drink with Emma for her 30th birthday and then back to the airport to head home. As soon as we got to our gate, the beautiful weather outside was gone and the rain started to fall. I was so glad we got so much sunshine and beautiful weather for our few days home.

It was our best trip home ever. We got to do all the things we wanted to do. We didn't get to see everyone we wanted, but we got in some good family time.

Congrats if you made it to the bottom of this photo dump. Minnesota - we'll be back again soon.

April 22, 2015

8 Simple Ways to Help Our Planet

"Be soft.  Do not let the world make you hard.  Do not let pain make you hate.  Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.  Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."  - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

It is Earth Day today and I love everything about a day that brings a little awareness to the beautiful place we all call home. As I get older, I appreciate some of the basics in life a little more. It upsets me that more people don't care. I'm always a little offended when someone doesn't recycle, litters or drives their car 2 blocks on a nice sunny day.


1. Walk more. If you live in any city or suburb, you are close enough to walk to at least one restaurant, store or park. Trade in your car keys for your tennis shoes. Not only will you only buy what you need (and can carry) but you will also get some good exercise.  Make it fun by using a FitBit or the steps tracker on your iPhone.

2. Buy reusable grocery bags. They are cheap, easy and way less likely to ever break or rip leaving your eggs broken all over the parking lot. Plus, they usually save you a few pennies each trip.

3. Go to your local farmer's markets. It's good to support local businesses, plus you get free samples all the time. While you are shopping, it's also good to know who the socially responsible companies are and support them. Here is one article on this topic.

4. Recycle. Not just things in the blue bins, but recycle your electronics, clothing, household items. So many organizations out there will take you donations. Plus, I've said it a million times on this blog - getting rid of clutter and things is really therapeutic.

5. Use public transportation when you can. It's a great time to read, people watch and maybe even catch one of these magically hilarious moments on the train.


6. Be aware of ingredients. Read what is in the cleaners you use, the food you eat, the makeup you use, the things you buy. Today, there are a few Whole Foods that are asking people to bring in their cleaning products full of chemicals and they will give you the same product from an all-natural brand for free. Check your local store's facebook pages for more information.

7. Be aware of your water usage and avoid buying bottled water when possible. If you love infographics like me, check out this one from the Greatist about why you shouldn't buy bottled water. I'm guilty of buying at the airport sometimes or while we are out in the city, but for the most part, we avoid them.

8. Turn things off. Use power strips that you can power down when you aren't using things. We have one at the desk and when I'm not working, everything gets powered off. We unplug our small appliances and chargers when we aren't using them. We keep our windows open and our lights off as much as possible. Tonight, give yourself an hour with nothing turned on - no music, no TV, no phone, no computer. Open a book, meditate, look through old pictures. You'll save yourself some money on your utility bills at the same time.

So that's enough of my hippie side for today. I'm not going to advise you to hug a tree, but just give a damn. Celebrate Earth. Enjoy beauty around you. (insert peace sign emoji here)


April 18, 2015

Introducing Lauren from Cupcake Thighs

I am off running around my hometown and enjoying a bloody mary, but I have a special treat for you today - Lauren is here to introduce herself to all of you and share a little bit about her blog. She writes a lot about self love and positivity, plus she has a 30 before 30 list just like me.  Show her some love and go visit her blog and say Hello!
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My blog is a very freeing space for me. I read blog enteries and articles on Pinterest that say I should find a brand for my blog. Well, I think my brand is just me. I kind of write about whatever I want.

Sometimes I write about my girl crushes including Taylor Swift and Ursula. Sometimes I do reviews, mostly about fashion. I'm trying to work towards more outfit of the day posts as my friends on Instagram seem to like my clothes. It can hard for a bigger girl to find the fashionable items, even these days. I also write lists - things I'm loving, way to destress, my 30 Before 30 list. I also love to share the adventures I have - WichitaMinnesota, the Oklahoma State Fair!

What I seem to write about the most are personal stories and struggles. I figure if it's something I'm thinking about, something me and my friends are talking about, it's worth writing about. I've covered a lot of topics that are awkward to bring up in every day conversation. I do it anyway, but sometimes my blog is a good ice breaker for these topics. When I was trying to explain my job as an ostomy product specialist, I wrote about it to demonstrate the process to my friends and family. I heard on the radio women being dissed for "waiting too long" to have sex and I was outraged - so I wrote about it. I'm part of a community on Instagram that promotes body positivity and self love for ALL - all genders, races, sexual orientations. I love this movement so much, but I still have my struggles with body image. So, you guessed it! I wrote about it. I went to Minnesota with my partner over Christmas and had such anxiousness about his family liking me. It all went well as it's wont to do and then I felt silly for letting this anxiety take over my vacation. So, yup, I wrote about it.

This month, actually on April 18, I'm run/walking a 5K for the YWCA organization. They are a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse/assault and stalking. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). While I've never been abused, this is an organization that is very near to my heart. I believe that everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home and especially in their body. Being a woman or a child or a whatever else should not make you a target. However much you drink, whatever you wear, wherever you go should not make youmore likely to be a target. The only reason for assault is the assaulter. There's nothing the victim could've or should've done differently. As you probably guessed, I have a lot more to say on this subject. You can read my full blog post HERE. I'm also working on a blog that tears down more specific victim blaming.

Every week, I have someone from my past, present, or a stranger reach out to me about my subject matter. It feels like I'm making a difference. That's why I write my blog. I write to start conversations.

See You Soon,
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April 15, 2015

Jealous?


It's already Tuesday night. I don't know where this week is flying to, but I'm onboard and loving it. I had a great and very busy weekend. There are a few very high points.

1. We found an awesome bar in Williamsburg with sand on the floor, tiki drinks galore and surfboards on the ceiling. It was wonderful.


2. We saw STEVIE WONDER. That's awesome by itself... but there's more. Our out of town guests were heading up the escalator and got stopped by someone and received a free upgrade of our seats to the floor. It was a sold out show at the Barclay's Center and all he said was that the tickets were "compliments of the band." The show was amazing and he played for almost 4 hours. Mind = blown.


3. Spring showed its pretty little face all weekend. The sun was shining and it was so incredible outside. I put sunscreen on nonstop. I forgot how much I missed that feeling.


And that concludes the section of this blog where I make you jealous. 

In other news, we have a quick trip home this weekend for a wedding. This means that I get a real midwest bloody mary and hugs from my nieces. I can't wait. 

OK, that's all I got. My brain is maxed out and I still have to finish laundry, walk the dogs and make my 10 PM bedtime. 

April 9, 2015

Why Wasn't I a Child Model?

I had a great childhood free of one million digital photos that would haunt me for my life. I feel bad for children now because their whole life is recorded and shared for the world to see. Their first poop in the toilet, their chubby thighs, their butt cheeks. 

My dad loved the camera, but we weren't billionaires so each vacation only included one or two rolls of film. I have a box in our closet with the ones I ended up with and figured that now is the time for my adorable pictures to be splashed all over the internet. 

You will see from the pictures that I was the most photogenic child and was always excited to get my picture taken. I had the best fashion sense and my glasses were always super clean.

....................

I was the kind of kid who had super chubby cheeks and clearly liked to get violent with stuffed animals.


I was the kind of kid who hated being interrupted during my creative time. I started my masterpiece at a young age. Sadly, it still looks like that.


I was the kind of kid who judged my parents' choices in clothing... for me. This sweater is featured in one of our family photos. It's still hanging in my parents' hallway. Everyone laughs at it.



I was the kind of kid who loved my brother unconditionally and taught him how to make annoyed faces really early.


I was the kind of kid who took care of all my important business on my flip phone. Really, it was my dad's car phone, but I thought it looked cool. I wasn't allowed to have a cell phone until I got my driver's license.


I was the kind of kid who pretended to read my brother stories, but really was using him to carry out all my evil plans to take over the world. He really just liked to eat and pick at the bottom of his shoes. 


Yikes, I never realized we had matching bangs. Seriously, this is what all of our pictures together look like. 


I was the kind of the kid who never grew out of her awkward in photos phase. I cringe whenever I walk through my parents' house and see the framed photos reminding me that there really aren't any normal nice pictures.

But really, I blame my dad. He likes the "candid" shots and snaps them when you aren't ready. Yep, I'm sticking with that.



What were you like as a child? Were you photogenic?

The Daily Tay

April 8, 2015

Get Yourself Out of a Funk

Sometimes you are just off. You feel yourself overwhelmed and stressed out. I'm no stranger to these days, but I hate being in a funk for too long. A while back, I made a list with doodles of things that make me feel better when I'm feeling crappy. After using each and every one of them last weekend, I figured I'd share them here in case you are having one of those moments or days.


1. Call your mom or dad or sister. I guess a brother works too, but mine is not a great listener most days. Sometimes a direct line to someone that supports and loves you so unconditionally helps get you back on track.

2. Clean. Get rid of some shit. Sometimes the physical act of tossing stuff out can help you let some built up emotional stuff go too.

3. Communicate. If you are married or living with someone, it helps to just tell them that you are off. Sometimes I need help to distract myself from whatever is getting me down or I need to talk it out, but it's always good to give my husband a heads up that I'm feeling anxious or sad or just a little weird.

4. Get up and move around. Run, climb some stairs, punch the air. Get your heart beating fast and get those endorphins moving. I have an entire Pinterest board of easy at-home workouts I can do without any equipment. I also love YouTube.


5. Have your own dance party. Turn up your favorite cheesy music and have a moment or 20. Singing into a hairbrush or kitchen utensil = bonus points.

6. Breath. Download headspace and practice meditation. Put on your favorite yoga video. Take 25 deep breaths. I always laughed when this was suggested before, but once I feel my heart start racing, I can help calm myself down with some deep breaths.

7. Plan a vacation. Unless you are stressed about money, then just browse, but don't purchase. I don't know about you, but I love reading about other people's adventures and making my wish list.

If none of those things work, then revert to my usual rainy day plan.

8. Lounge. Put on your favorite sweats - we all have them. Pile up all your pillows and get comfy. Put on your favorite TV show, movie, latest Netflix addiction and just veg. Turn your brain off and relax. I won't judge you if you also order enough Chinese food to feed 4 people. I've done it and eaten all 4 fortune cookies.

I will tell you that my shitty mood was gone by Saturday afternoon. I had caught up with my parents and my future sister-in-law. I cleaned out my fridge, my junk drawer, vacuumed, scrubbed my tub & toilet and gathered some shoes/coats for the donation pile. There was a sweaty yoga session, some Iceland planning and some Real Housewives. My day ended with a wonderful dinner out with my husband. Usually one of the above works, but sometimes you need them all.

On Sunday, I was practically skipping through the New York Botanical Garden. Never underestimate yourself when it comes to changing your mood. Hope you don't find yourself in a funk anytime soon.

What am I missing? How do you deal with crap days?

April 6, 2015

A Scientologist Walks Into a Bar

And sits down next to us.

This was our Saturday evening. We went out for dinner at a place about 30 minutes north just to get out of Edgewater for the evening. I wanted to watch the Rangers vs. Devils game and enjoy a cold beer on a bar stool.

This man sits down and the first hour we chat with him, he tells us all about his kids (one of them is a fairly famous actor.) He tells us about his younger days growing up in Astoria. He had some great stories. He told us the story behind a screenplay he wrote. The conversation was quite interesting. He misses his children a lot and they are all around our age, so he was so happy to chat.

We ask him about his Easter plans and he informs us that he practices Scientology and also follows the Greek Orthodox calendar which celebrates Easter next weekend. It took my brain a second to catch up. Here I was in the presence of someone that could answer so many questions for me. I had to approach it carefully. How did he get into it? Does he think Tom Cruise is crazy? What level are you on and how much money have you paid?

OK fine, I only actually asked the first question, but he did say that he is friends with Jim Vatrola (sorry, I mean John Travolta.) He told us the basics and was happy to allow our beer fueled curiosity to run a little wild.

I think I'm going to watch that documentary everyone has been talking about. Also, I want to read the book by Jenna Miscaviage about her escape from Scientology. I laugh at my brother for his weird obsessive research, but here I am getting weird. Don't mind me.

In other news from my weekend, we explored Harlem this weekend. It is such a beautiful part of the city. Most of the blocks we walked were quiet and residential, but with beautiful homes. So many churches filled with people singing Easter hymns.

125th Street was a little more lively. You started to see tourists again and people selling perfume and incense and VHS tapes. We met an aspiring rapper and he suckered Justin into buying his CD by telling him that he looked like he could be a rapper. Then because he didn't want us to fight over our new CD, he gave us a second one for free. We listened to it on the way home and it wasn't too bad. Maybe I'll give our extra copy to Ice-T when we see him at the grocery store. You never know.

And we went to the Orchard show and I didn't love it as much as last year. But it was still beautiful.



What I learned this weekend:

  • I want to live in Harlem.
  • Everyone has a story they are want to share and you should listen. Bonus points if it happens at a bar and you learn a few new things.
  • There are so many interesting books, websites, movies, etc about Scientology.
  • Falafel wraps are my jam.
  • Dream big, you never know who grocery shops at the same place as Ice-T.

How was your weekend? Have you ever been to Harlem? Do you know anyone that practices Scientology?

April 2, 2015

A Collection of Happy Moments

Life has some big moments - milestone birthdays, your first kiss, big vacations, your wedding day, etc. Those are all hard to forget. I try hard to cherish the little moments. The best cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, my dogs getting their first long walk of the spring, being in Central Park when it's quiet and snowy, the first sock free day of the spring. Life is made out of those kinds of moments and they should be celebrated.

"A good life is a collection of happy moments." - Denis Waitley

Justin and I have started playing around with the gopro and our cell phone cameras to take small videos of daily life. Our goal is to do one each season - keep them short and sweet. We watched the clips we pulled together for winter last night and have a few things we'll try harder on in the future, but it was a fun little project.


Do you do something like this or avoid videos all together?

April 1, 2015

Currently...

It's the first of the month (and I'm singing that like Bones Thugs) and it's time for a little life update. I'm not a fan of April Fool's Day unless the pranks are done by others on others, so you get no fake pregnancy announcements or weird stories today.


I am currently...

Wishing for sunshine and spring flowers. I was so excited last year when I realized I would actually experience spring time. Now this year, I'm being teased like I'm back in Minnesota. 

Reading piled up magazines so they can be recycled. I'm waiting on a new round of books from the library. I'm excited to get going on them.

Taking photos for Helene's Instagram Challenge. I'm sorry to any of my non-blogger friends who don't participate in these or get annoyed of daily pictures, but I love doing these. They make me look around a little more in my day to day life and I love looking through other people's pictures. Join us please and let me know your Instagram name so I can follow along (mine is @stephgregerson.)



Counting down until our epic Iceland adventure, but also our quick trip back to Minnesota for a wedding. I can't wait to squeeze my nieces and tear up the dance floor with them. I saw some pictures recently and I think they've grown 8 years since December. I'm obsessed.

Putting off my spring cleaning list. I'm 40% done and that needle hasn't moved... oops.

Watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Somedays, I feel like that when I walk around New York City. OK, not that extreme, but I can relate to the ridiculousness of it. It's a great show and everyone should watch it and fall in love with Tina Fey's writing all over again.

Grateful for the girlfriends in my life. Between handwritten cards, matching friendship necklaces, emoji only text conversations and brunch dates, I am forever grateful. 

A little sad that I had to say "see you later" to my first girlfriend here on the East Coast (hi Caitlin) this last weekend, but she is off on a new adventure and I can't wait to visit her in her new home so we can continue our epic brunch dates. (And yes, this is the picture I chose, because rooftops - duh)


Proud of the healthy eating choices and exercise I've done this last month. Sorry, but I'm back in a weight range that I haven't seen in a while and I feel like talking about it. 

Drinking a Cab - don't judge me, I write this at night time.

Craving Indian food. I had no idea how much I would love it. I can't believe that it is the only kind of cuisine we don't have available on Grubhub. Back to Murray Hill we will go... SOON.


What are you doing? Happy April Wiseman's Day. Own it.