Thursday, January 28, 2016

Valentines day dates that wont break the bank

I've been with my beau, Dan, for almost 3 years now. That means 6 birthdays, 3 christmas's, 3 anniversary, 3 valentines days. That's a lot of different dates! It can get hard to come up with different ideas, it feels like we've done everything! We became very creative at planning unusual dates. So, I decided to compile a list of dates (some we've tried, some we haven't) for those of your looking to do something outside of the box.

1) Go to a cheesy, sappy love movie.
This probably seems like something you'd never do on Valentines day, but trust me it can be really fun! There are always a ton of those sappy movies out on Valentines day. If you're lucky, you'll live by one of those lounge theaters where you can cuddle up without having to reach over those uncomfortable arms! Get a huge popcorn and a slushy to share, and sneak in some candy. You can feast on yummy foods while getting a good laugh in.

2) Have an indoor picnic.
Get a blanket, a bottle of your favorite wine (for me, Moscato) and a bunch of finger foods. You can make them yourself or get them from your local grocery store. I'm always a big fan of finger sandwiches and dessert, lots of dessert. Put on a fun movie and you'll have fun for hours!

3) Rent bikes and spend the day riding around the city.
In most cities they have bikes you can rent by the hour and it can be a really cool way to explore places of the city you wouldn't normally go. It's even more fun if you can get those tandem bikes! You'll look like a total tourist, but hey, every once in a while it's fun to play the tourist.

4) Find a scavenger hunt in your city
In a lot of big cities you can find pre-determined scavenger hunts that lead to you a bunch of different sight seeing spots. I always like to try to get a group to go because then you can race against each other and see who has the best time. Then you can go and grab a bite to eat at a cute little cafe at the end.

5) Go play with puppies (and adopt one!)
No matter where you live there should be a humane society around you. Grab your beau and go take a few for a walk. Not only will the dogs love it, maybe you'll fall in love and adopt your very own dog! Adopting a dog was the best decision I've ever made, I talk about it more in depth in this post. Plus, everyone knows that playing with puppies and kitties makes everyone happy!

Now you have 5 (basically) free Valentines day dates! Another small thing Dan and I love to do is go and grab fro-yo (or whatever version is close by us). Tell me, what's your favorite free date?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Red Plaid and Fur Vests

It was FREEZING in Virginia Beach, you can tell by how red my nose is! Before I was taking these pictures I was wearing my heavy jacket, like in this this post, and in between I was racing over to put it back on! It was a super fun trip, though. We went to the best little Mexican Restaurant and had a marg or two (or maybe three or four...) and then went back and watched Train wreck and The Vacation! Super fun, and we only had to drive around 4 hours to get there.


Top: H&M || Vest: Target || Jeans: Nordstrom || Booties: Target ||
Bag: Tory Burch || Watch Michael Kors

Gray Herringbone and pink tassels

The beau and I took a mini-vacay to virginia beach for the weekend, and it was so much fun! On the way down we stopped at this tiny town called Carytown, and I loved every second of it. I even finally got one of those beanies with the poofs (I've taken to calling it the poof) and I wore it all day long! 

Jacket: Garage || Vest: J. Crew (sold out) || Jeans: Hollister || 
Boots: Target

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Win a $15 starbucks giftcard!

Hey ya'll, with the snow drifting down all around me (and if you're anywhere near the Eastern shore, probably around you too) then I'm sure all you want to do is curl up with a nice cup of coffee and a good book to read. Well, I've decided I want to help you out with the coffee part of that! I'm giving away a $15 Starbucks gift card (or Dunkin Donuts!) to get you some great coffee. To enter is simple:

1) "Like" my page on Facebook (link under my "about me!")
2) Subscribe to my blog
3) Comment what your favorite Starbucks or Dunkin drink is!

Voila, that's it! Super simple right? Winner will be drawn randomly. Contest ends January 30th. 

*This post is in no way sponsored by blogger, Starbucks, Dunkin or Facebook.

Monday, January 18, 2016

5 (easy) ways to improve your blog posts

Blogging is hard. I totally get that. It's really hard to come up with new and fun blog post ideas, and taking a pictures can be a nightmare (especially if you live in a city and on the 10th floor) But sometimes even just revamping your blog posts to look better can make a world of difference! I compiled a list of 5 tips that I use for every blog post to give it that extra "oomph"

1) Take the edges off of pictures.

You know how in blogger all of the pictures have that drop shadow behind them? It's super annoying, and makes it look less sleek, if ya know what I mean. Just adding a little CSS can take that right away! The thought of editing HTML terrified me, until I learned that there's a super easy way to do it. Go to Blogger, then template, then customize, then advanced, then Add CSS (still caught up?) and add the following HTML into the box:

".post-body img, .post-body .tr-caption-container, .Profile img, .Image img,
.BlogList .item-thumbnail img {
  padding: 0 !important;
  border: none !important;
  background: none !important;
  -moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 0px transparent !important;
  -webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 0px transparent !important;
  box-shadow: 0px 0px 0px transparent !important;

Make sure to take out the quotation marks in the beginning and end, or they'll mess up the HTML code! The cool thing is once you hit apply to blog it will add it to the HTML without you having to find it! Then you can delete it from the CSS box to make way for the next cool HTML thing you want to update.

2) Edit your pictures online.

It can be a huge pain to transfer photos from your computer to your phone, then edit them on your favorite app, then transfer them back. I've fallen in love with all of the different websites online solely dedicated to editing pictures! My two favorites are BeFunky, and Picmonkey. Super easy to use, and has a lot of cool features. But beware of adding too many stickers or overlays because it can draw your readers attention away from the actual content.

3) Add a custom signature to your post.

If you look at the bottom at any of my posts, it says "With love, Taylor" in super cute font. This was the favorite thing I did to my post! I personally prefer to manually add it after every post instead of adding HTML to add it automatically. I actually reached out to the etsy shop who did my background and asked them to custom make it for me, and they did! A lot of times if you just ask they'll offer to do it for something small, like $5! That way everything matches and looks cute.

4) Take a lot of pictures.

I'm not going to go out and tell you to  buy a $700 dollar DSLR camera. In fact, it took me months of saving up to buy my baby. Even if you're just taking pictures on your iPhone, or a point-and-click just make sure you're taking a lot of photos! If you have a lot, it's going to keep readers interested and scrolling through. On the other side though, make sure they're good pictures. There have been a couple of times where I've started reading a blog post and just stopped because the pictures were bad. Make sure they're bright, focued, and just make sure they're fun! I love love love looking at outfit pictures and will scroll through 100 pictures just to see if from every angle.

5) Ask questions at the end of your post!

It gives readers a reason to comment and gives you a chance to start up a conversation! If you respond it gives them a notification and that gives them another chance to visit your blog. Also it creates good blogger/reader relations and can make you friends!

So those are my tips, what are your favorite tips to "jazz up" your blog posts?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blanket Scarf Heaven

I don't know about you, but I've never met a blanket scarf that I didn't like. They go with literally EVERYTHING, and they're perfect for taking on planes! Where it as part of your outfit but then use it as a literal blanket (but you never thought of using it like that ;) )

How to enter? It's simple! 

1) Subscribe to my blog by entering in your email address.
2) Head on over to my instagram @livinglifedowntown and find this picture,
and comment on how you would style this blanket scarf!

Giveaway ends Sunday January 17th, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A blogger's best friend

One of my favorite things about being a blogger is the extensive network of friends I've made while doing so. Someone's always there to offer a comforting hand, a piece of advice, and even some constructive criticism. Blogging can be hard, especially with all of the pressure to be "Instagram famous" and it can definitely make you consider quitting (I should know- I took a 4  month hiatus because it was taking over my life) But then you find friends in all this mess, and it makes it all worth while. I took to my blogger network and asked for some girls to answer some questions about what it means to be a blogger, and any advice they might have.

Meet Jenny! The Blogger behind Breakfast at Lilly's. You can find her website here! Jenny works in digital marketing by day, and is a grad student and blogger by night. She enjoys reading, adventures, music, hanging out with friends, and writing. You can find her on Instagram at @Breakfastatlillys.

Meet Katie, the blogger behind Sugar Spice and Sparkle! You can find her website here! She's a classic "girly girl" except that she also's an engineer!  She started Sugar Spice and Sparkle as a way to connect with other girls who love the same things she does and as a creative outlet after working highly technical days at work. In 2015 she graduated college and became a wife, so follow along as she figures out how to star stylish and become an adult all at the same time! You can find her on Instagram at @sugarspiceandsparkle.

 Meet Sydney, the blogger behind Simply Preppyy! You can find her website here! She blogs about fashion and her life. She is a high school student just doing what she loves! She's thrilled to be here talking about her blogging experience, and hopes she can give advice to anyone who needs it! She loves to feature her many shopaholic finds and her fabulous style! You can find her on Instagram at @simply.preppy.

Meet Paulina, the blogger behind Navy Striped Peonies! You can find her website here! She is a self-proclaimed type A, coastal lover, and high school student living in beautiful New England. She is a master in the art of organization and monogramming . Outside of blogging, Paulina loves to play tennis, practice yoga, use excessive amounts of sticky notes, and spread smiles. You can find her on Instagram at @navystripedpeonies 

Meet Allison, the blogger behind Because I Said So! You can find her website here! Allison is a Southern life+style blogger at Because I Said So-- it's a whole lot of sassy wrapped up in a pretty pink bow! She is a social media manager by day and a blogger by nights and weekends. She loves all things pink, a good glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and HGTV. You can find her on Instagram at @allison_ellzey.

Okay, now it's question time!

1) What is your favorite part about being a blogger?
Katie: I love blogging because of the relationships I have made. I have met so many wonderful girls who share the same passions as me. I have also gotten the opportunity to work with wonderful brands that I never would have guessed I could collaborate with! 

Paulina: I suppose the community would have to be my favorite. I love meeting people with the same goals and hobbies as me, especially those around my age! I feel like I have a whole group of "blogger" friends that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Allison: I love being able to connect and reach so many different people of different walks, backgrounds and locations! 

2) What's your favorite store to shop at?
Jenny: My favorite store is J. Crew!

Katie: Target - all day, every day!

Allison: I love to "window-shop" at Pottery Barn and find similar home items at Target!

3) What is your go to outfit?
Jenny: My go-to accessory is a pair of pearl earrings. I wear them nearly every day.

Sydney: My go to outfit is a vest, jeans and Bean Boots. My go to accessory is my rose gold watch!

Allison: I rarely go anywhere without rings and a god bracelet stack (which currently includes a Tory Burch Fit bit cover and a few dainty gold bracelets)

4) What's your favorite thing to do to relax?
Sydney: I love scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. I also love to read, a good book and a cup of tea makes me relax instantly.

Paulina: Read other blogs. After a long day I love to come home and click through my list of favorite blogs, reading and catching up on posts.

Allison: Wine. Bubble bath. Netflix.

5) How do you balance work or school and blogging?
Katie: Balancing blogging with a full time job is challenging. When I was in school it was also hard bu I think it's even more difficult now. But when you love something you make time for it, whether it's late at night or on the weekends, I find time to make my blog happen.

Sydney: It's hard to balance it all. I find it best just to make some time out of my day, sit down and write.

Paulina: Not easily, I'll tell you that. I spend most of my weekend crafting scheduled posts for the following week. During the actual school week the only blog writing I do is for Friday's "Fridays Few" post which is pretty quick to do. I am super scheduled, I have agendas for both school and blogging. I could tell you right now what my post will be 2 weeks from now, along with when I am going to write it.

6) What is the biggest fear you've had to overcome while blogging?
Jenny: The biggest thing I've had to overcome while blogging is to stop comparing myself to other people. It made me feel so much happier with m blog and my growth.

Sydney: The ability to be myself. I was always so scared that someone I knew would see what I write and post. It took me a while to realize that it was cool. What I do is so different from everyone else. I have learned to embrace it and really love it.

Allison: My biggest fear has been getting negative feedback-- like from trolls and mean girls. Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet, but it really could happen anytime I think I'll be okay with it! After all, you can't please everyone.

7) And lastly, any advice for new bloggers?
Jenny: My advice for new bloggers is to not focus on the numbers and to focus on the content you're creating. If you create amazing content, your blog will eventually flourish.

Katie: My advice for anyone who wants to start blogging would be to do your research BEFORE you start. Take the time to set up the right type of website, social media, and email list so that once you start you can take off quickly. Patience is key because blogging is not something that gives you overnight success/fame.

Paulina: Persevere. In those initial stages of setting up a site and building readers, It's hard. It can be discouraging when things don't look exactly how you want, or you feel like no one is reading the content you work hard to produce. I promise, it get's easier! Connect with fellow bloggers in a network and use them as your support system. I actually have a whole post about it here!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Furry Friend

A dog is a man's best friend, anyone with a god would truly understand that. Your dog can be the best friend you've ever had, and can teach you more responsibility than you thought you could handle. Adopting Tucker, my fur baby, was the best decision I've ever made. He gives me endless cuddles, always greets me after work by jumping into my lap, and always tries to give me kisses, but sometimes he tries my very last nerves. If you're thinking of adopting a dog, just know it's a lot of work! Here are a few lessons I've learned from being a dog-mom.
1) They require a lot of time. I thought I knew how much, but boy was I wrong. I take tucker on 4-5 walks a day. At 30 minutes a walk, that's 2.5 hours a day of walking tucker. Planning on sleeping in? No can do, Tucker needs a walk at 7:30. Want to go to bed at 10? No can do, Tucker needs a walk at night before he goes to bed. It can be really hard, especially if you don't have someone to help you out, but it's totally worth it when everybody stops you on your walk because you have such a cute pup.

2. Dogs are INCREDIBLE expensive. Think of how much you think a dog would cost- now multiply that by two and that's really how much they cost. I've easily spent $1,000 on Tuck since adopting him. Having someone else to spend money on makes you realize you need to always make sure you have a little extra put away in case something happens. Just the other day I had to take him to the vet and it cost $500! Not even to mention all of the food. Dogs eat a lot! 

3) It forces you to adopt a very specific routine. Tucker eats at 8:30 and 6:30. Since I get off of work at 6, that requires me to go home straight away to take him on a walk and then eat. I can't go out after work for a happy hour because Tuck has to go to the bathroom. Going out of town means I have to either find a pet sitter to stay at my place, or to find a boarding place for him. 

Even though adopting Tuck was one of the hardest thing I've ever had to do, I wouldn't change it for a second! He may wake me up at 7:30 AM, and wake me up in the middle of the night if needs water, but he makes me happy every second of the day. He has 20 toys that he likes to rotate throwing around, and he's constantly trying to lick every inch of my face. He sometimes sleeps in the closet, he sometimes likes to crawl up between Dan and I and lay perpendicular to us and kick someone (usually Dan) in the face. He does this adorable thing where he comes up and leans his head against me and flops over on his back looking for a belly rub. Just look at this cute face! 

Thinking of adopting a pet? Ask me questions! I would love to give any advice I could. Have any funny stories from your fur babies? Tell me in the comments! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year, New Me?

Every year for New Years I like to sit down and make my yearly resolutions, as you'd expect they had all of the cliches on there. Lost weight, be more accepting, drink less coffee (I'm not too sure why I even bother with this one, It's not like I'll ever stop drinking coffee) This year though, I decided to be a bit more realistic and try to make a twist on my resolutions. 

1) Drink less coffee. Drink less Dunkin Donuts coffee, find more hole in the wall, mom and pop coffee shops. I spend a lot of money on Dunkin Donuts. Do you guys know that app, Mint? Well it told me that I spent about 3 times my monthly budget on coffee, I was going crazy! And at $1.85 for a large I decided I needed to lessen my coffee habit. Then one day I was wandering with Dan, and we came across this little coffee shop, and decided to go in on a whim. And I loved it! The best part, the coffee was just over a dollar, and just as good.

2) Spend less money. Spend money smarter. For a while there I thought that having style meant simply wearing the most expensive clothes from the most expensive stores. I shopped religiously at places like J. Crew, Nordstrom, and it was making me broke. I've recently discovered that clothes from Marshall's can just be as cute! And lets not forgot all of the affordable boutiques online! 

3) Give up soda. Give up bad eating habits. Growing up my parents didn't buy soda, and I think that I rebelled when I went to college, and got completely hooked on the stuff. I'm a junk food addict. Ice cream, chips, cookies, you  name it and I love it. I live next to a great farmers market that's open every Sunday, so I want to try and eat much healthier!

There are so many more resolutions out there, but I learned a long time ago that setting a ton of resolutions pretty much guarantees that in trying to accomplish one of them, you end up neglecting the rest of them. This doesn't mean that I won't be trying to accomplish some other things (working out more, taking more time for my family) but these are going to be my main focus. What are your resolutions?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A very plaid post

Yesterday Dan and I went down to Metro Center in D.C. to do a little shopping at some of my favorite stores.. Marshalls and T.J Maxx! My mom gave me a gift card for Christmas so I wanted to go stock up on some goodies! I may or may not have gotten some stuff for the pup too, and my mom says he isn't spoiled...
Jeans: Hollister || Boots: Target, in taupe || T shirt: Old, similar and on sale too! || 
Chambray top: Target || Blanket Scarf: Amazon, only $8.50!