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A Couple in Love, and on a Budget

24 Apr

My boyfriend, T, and I have been friends for five years now, and dating for the last two and half plus. In New York, we were both working a lot and had the means to have date night often. Over in Manhattan and Brooklyn, you can find the most delicious food for an affordable price all around the city, date night didn’t mean breaking the bank. For us now in Hawaii, there are two type of dates: the casual plate lunch, taco spot, acai/pitaya bowl brunch, and then date night. Date night means wearing makeup, heels (if my balance is good that day), and for him, no board shorts! We put in the effort for each other to make the night special. I read somewhere recently, “just because you’re married, doesn’t mean to need to stop dating.” And no, we’re obviously not married, but yes, it is easy to fall into the routine of a top knot and cutoffs and picking up our favorite pho each week and having that be date night. If you don’t make it special, you’re bound to fall into a routine and routines get boring…

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Our last photo in Brooklyn before moving home to Hawaii

 

Here are some tips for dating on a budget:

1. Each week we plan one date night at home. We make Wednesday our bookmarked night, if plans come up that we can’t change, we move date night around but generally we try to keep Wednesdays for us.

2. Weeknight date night is cooking at home. We tried something new this week and each came up with an idea for dinner and we were going to pick our favorite of the two. Turns out, we both picked grilled steak, so “choosing” was easy. We save money by eating at home, but we still try to make it special, a bottle of wine, eating at the table not the couch, and helping each other cook and clean. I’ll be honest, I am a good cook, but T is a great cook, so this night is extra special for me.

3. Twice a month we go out to eat for date night. Unlike New York, if we want a special night out that isn’t just our go-to thai restaurant, or taco spot, it’ll be pricey. Most restaurants that are safe for me to eat at (as a Celiac), have a higher price per meal. We’ve built this night into our budget so we’re prepared for spending, and not worrying about being forced to pick the cheapest dish on the menu.

4. One of our favorite nights out are local markets around town. We have a monthly Honolulu Night Market with retail vendors, food, and music. It’s a way to go out without spending a lot, if anything at all. Sometimes we just walk around and listen to music and maybe pick up our favorite Wow Wow Lemonade. Farmer’s markets are a great “day date” spot too. We like to scour the freshest ingredients, and plan a meal with it for later that night or the week!

5. We really like to be active together. Some weekends we like to wake up early, get in a hike, and then relax on the beach for the rest of the day. In New York, we would wake up, make coffee, and go for a long walk from lower Mahattan around the water up to Tribeca. Even if you don’t have a mountain, or a beach nearby, just going for a long walk is a nice way to catch up after a busy week!

6. We try to treat each other in special ways. In New York, T would surprise me every Friday with flowers. A bouquet of peonies, or ranunculuses were under $10 at a bodega or trader joes. In Hawaii, peonies are $6 a stem! Eek. He does treat me to them on special occasions, like after my most recent surgery, but at that price Flower Friday had to be nixed. Instead, we find little ways that don’t cost a lot to treat each other: a Lanikai Juice smoothie, a bar of chocolate, a cool new home item (most recently a metallic coffee drip filter & cup, under $20). Or even cheaper, just small gestures: I love it when I come out of the shower and he’s made me my nightly cup of tea, or since I know he hates dishes, he loves when I wash the dishes post-meals he’s cooked.

I love that T is a romantic at heart, but also, treating little things as big things is what makes a relationship stay special. Making a meal together, brewing their cup of coffee while they stay in bed, I try to relish those even more than a gift or present, because that is what you’ll have for the rest of your life. We dream about trips around the world, and a house near the beach, and sharing those dreams has us looking forward to the future, but right now, in the present, there is nothing better to me than a man who will offer to run back to the grocery for Talenti double chocolate chip gelato at 9 pm because you have a craving for it. That’s love.

A Sweet Treat

13 Feb

Woo hoo, one more day until Valentine’s Day! I’m counting down as if it was Christmas. This year, instead of passing around paper Valentines that will probably make their way to the garbage in a few days, I chose a much sweeter treat.

This year I popped into an island favorite, Liliha Bakery, and picked out pink goodies to pass out to a few friends, and my boyfriend as an early Holiday surprise. I spotted these heart plates for only $2 at Target, and gifted those with each treat as well! It made the presentation a bit more special without breaking the bank.

Valentine's Day Treats

Cupcakes, cookies, cards, and glitter. I mixed and matched depending on the friend. The top left pink Guava chiffon cupcake with guava jam filling went straight to the man friend, Guava is his favorite!

Valentines Day Cookies Valentines Day Cupcakes Valentines Day Treats

Hope you have a sweet Holiday!

Presence and a Goodbye, for now.

22 Jan

In case you haven’t noticed by my current radio silence, I have decided to take some time off from blogging. I have no idea whether this will be permanent, or only temporary, but it is time.

When I started blogging back in 2009, I loved having a voice in the fashion community. I would spend my open hours scanning Style.com, and twisting runway looks into more budget and office-friendly realities. Working a 12 hour day, then coming home to polyvore, and editing, and writing till 1 am was my way of relaxing. It was therapeutic to have a passion outside of the office. I met amazing friends from industry contacts to fellow bloggers balancing the work-blog-life scales. Blogger brunches were a highlight of my calendar. Spending my time scanning through twitter, perfecting that pose, instagramming every moment worth sharing, it was all things I loved and looked forward to. Until it became exhausting, a second job, a hassle. I felt like I NEEDED to get that post up, I NEEDED to hit that Google Analytic goal. I would get upset when a post I worked on for hours only hit a minimal view count. My excitement for sharing my point of view was morphed into a competitive spirit that took the fun out of blogging.

Around a year ago, I remember meeting some blogger girls for dinner. From the moment we sat down at the table, it was tweeting “we’re having so much fun” to instagramming the cocktails we ordered to “oh wait, don’t take a bite yet, my shot was blurry.” Almost the entire meal was spent digitally sharing rather than connecting in person. That’s when blogging turned for me. I realized how many people (including me) are ignoring their dinner mate for that instagram filter, or checking back their likes instead of actually watching the sunset. I wasn’t being present at all.

I honestly believe technology has become an addiction. And while I still can’t fathom being the person who doesn’t check their social media, I am trying to limit my use. Honestly, my boyfriend rarely even checks his gmail let alone his Facebook or instagram. I found myself being jealous at his lack of need for a growing follower count.

I also saw the change in blogs. What went from opinions and content shifted to ℅, gifted, sponsored posts. Many bloggers have their site as their full time job, so I understand why they jump at sponsored posts. But for a fashion blog to post about gum, or house cleaning product, just sounded so out of place on their site. Where twitter was for conversations it now is a way to share affiliate links to click to your pinterest to that “wish list” item that reallllly isn’t on your list to buy, but more like has a $30 commission rate. Instagram where it once was a place to capture a moment, is now a place to post your DSLR, photoshop edited outfit post, link to your collage, and once again, monetize. I found myself scrolling through instagram at edited photos, new handbags, trips to Europe and I wasn’t happy with my amazing life.

If you’ve followed me on social media you know I have dealt with a crippling health issue the last year. My health is what brought me home to Hawaii, it’s what made me quit my job to take care of my health, to replace brunch and drinks dates with 5 doctors appointments a week. There were days I could not make my own meals, shower on my own, or really even walk without assistance. I’ve finally found the light at the end of the tunnel with a diagnosis and will be getting surgery this coming Monday. To have these issues and yet have brands emailing me “Lauren, it has been 2 days since your product has arrived, why have you not instagrammed them yet?” Well, it was once again, pressure and exhaustion that I did not need.

In the past few weeks I have un-followed many on instagram, twitter, and beyond who post selfie after ℅ shot, after sponsored post. I have filled my feed with photographers, lifestyle bloggers, interior design. People who share a passion other than their selfie. I have moved on from the #ootd mirror shot, and I could not be happier. More importantly, I have put my phone in my purse and left it there. I have had date night without the phone on the table, I have enjoyed a sunset without snapping a photo, I have woken up and not immediately checked my notifications.

My goal for 2014 is to be more present in my life and the best way I know how to do that is to live in my moment, not others’ snapped online. I still feel I check social media too often, but I’m aware and I’m trying to change. For now, I’ll be posting over at LilikoiLo.tumblr.com. It’s a work in progress of a website, but it will be more general thoughts, feelings, photos not only fashion and beauty. I thank you all who have joined me in this amazing journey of blogging. I have met amazing people who I still consider friends to this date. Blogging taught me how to find my own voice and I hope it use it for good in the future. In the mean time, if you have a tumblr or love someone else’s tumblr please comment below with the link or tweet it to me, so I may follow you!

Thank you all dear readers. xoxo

 

Pins sourced here. 

Start Today with a Thankful Heart

28 Nov

HAPPY THANKSGIVING LOVELIES. I cannot express how grateful I am to be home this Holiday. Since moving to New York in 2009 I have not spent a single Thanksgiving at home with my mom. The trip home to Hawaii, all twelve hours on the plane, was just too long of a trip for a short three day weekend. I was lucky in the few years on the East Coast to spend the Holiday with some extended family, or like in 2011, with my best friends hosting Friendsgiving.

I feel so blessed to have an amazing mother and support network around me this past year. It has been the hardest year of my life battling what can only be described as an “invisible illness.” My mom has been with me every step of the way and for her constant kindness I would like to dedicate this post and my love for her on this day of giving Thanks.

I always loved Thanksgiving as it was a day for friends and family to come together without the tie of presents such as Christmas. While the Holiday weekend may be clouded with sales and shopping, the day itself should always be spent treasuring those who provide you with the gift of friendship and love.

This Holiday will also be the first spent at home with my boyfriend’s family. I feel grateful for him and his family who have been so welcoming to me, even making me side dishes at family BBQs entirely gluten free and free from contamination. My boyfriend has been the most amazing, positive rock I could ever ask for. No matter how sick I’ve been, he always stays positive and brings me back to my goals of getting healthy. I could not ask for a more amazing partner in life.

To my brother and his fiancé on the East Coast. I am so excited for your first holiday as an engaged couple. I wish you all the happiness and love in the world and cannot wait to celebrate Christmas with you both as a family.

This Holiday will be a bit different as I am now Celiac and will have to eat gluten free. So an extra thank you must be given to those attending our dinner who are okay with eating gluten free stuffing, pumpkin pie and other new modifications to accommodate my allergy.

Happy Thanksgiving to my entire family, network of friends, my amazing readers of this passion project of a blog, and to all of your families as well.

 

(Image source: all from the gorgeous shop of LilyandVal).

A Note on Friendship and Being a Good Friend

21 Nov

This is my fifth month living in Hawaii, I cannot believe in two weeks I’ll hit the six month mark. I guess the cliche of “time flies” really is true. I’ve recently been reflecting on friendships a lot lately. In New York, I had an extremely close-knit group of girl friends deemed the six-pack. Every Wednesday of each week a group email chain would inevitably form, first off with the girls, then significant others looped in, discussing the upcoming weekend’s plans. Happy hours, movie and game nights, brunches, we basically did everything as an extremely large group. In the four years I lived there, I saw the group fluctuate with moves, one month after the six pack became five due to a move to the West Coast, another girl moved to NY to return us to full strength. Boyfriends would come and go, Sunday morning recaps of a date with a final thumbs up or thumbs down from the peanut gallery.

Now, move 5000 miles and a 5 hour time difference away. That support net vanishes once that 12 hour flight hits the tarmac. I moved to Hawaii knowing only one person: my mother. Here I was without a job, without my health, and now with zero local contacts in my phone. I didn’t have a damn clue how I would meet people, and then turn those acquaintances into real friends. At 25 years old (at the time), I didn’t want to be forced into surface level friendships any more. I know the value of a true friend, one who will listen to your problem without secretly comparing and deeming herself victorious. Side note: do not have these friends in your life, they are a slow poison leaking into your outlook. I want to be able to share my amazing weekend with my boyfriend without a jealousy-ridden “aww” on the other line of the phone, I want to get a raise and have people genuinely excited to see me succeed in my career. Those are the people to surround yourself with. It’s not about bragging in any way shape or form to share your victories. Remember how you would come home with an A on your school project and your parents would wrap you up in the biggest hugs and share in your celebration? Reach for that type of friendship AND more importantly, BE THAT TYPE OF FRIEND.

If you hear your friend gushing over her latest date, or vacation to that tropical island or snagging that pie-in-the-sky client, celebrate with her. If you feel a twinge of jealousy, figure out why, because that’s you and your subconscious. Are you not getting a raise at work? Work harder, and ask for it. Not dating? Are you just waiting for a man to swoop you off your feet walking down the street? Unlikely. Go on a dating site, tell your friends you’re looking to meet someone, actively pursue that spark you think you feel with your single acquaintance. Be in control of your life.

Here I am, five months into living on a rock in the middle of the Pacific, and you know what, I have friends. I have packed weekends with BBQs, and concert invitations, and beach days. I chatted up the girl at my local boutique, turns out she is allergic to wheat just like me, we now trade recipes. I followed through with a one-off “let’s hang out” with a girl who’s family lives in my building and she’s now one of my closest friends here. Turns out, her best friend dates my boyfriend’s brother. Small island, small world. Four months after moving to the island, my boyfriend moved here as well. Lucky for me, he grew up on the island. He has a huge family, extremely close high school friends, and a big network. I won’t lie and say all my plans are solely from my own doing, but while I’m with his friends I”ll make it a point to get to know others at these BBQs and form my own friendships.

Overall, am I the best friend? Maybe not. When I’m cozy on a Saturday morning with my coffee I’m not jumping to grab my phone to reconnect with my friend 3000 miles away, or sending that snail mail just to say hi. But I check my jealousy at the door, I am genuinely excited for friends who are succeeding in their careers, their love life, their happiness. Be the best person you can be and surround yourself with people who care for you and then be happy for each other. It’s just that simple.