Friday, December 30, 2016

How to Slay in 2017

By Contributor Mara Santilli
Photo Credit: Taylor A. Mead

The new year is literally around the corner, whether you’re ready for it or not! That being said, don’t wait another second to begin your year of slayage. 2017 will be what you make of it, so start off all aspects of your life on a fierce note.

Here’s how to keep killin’ it for all 365 days:

1. Twerk it out.

New Year's is always about fitness resolutions, but if you’re no gym rat, don’t force it. Throw yourself outside of your comfort zone, and try an activity that you’ve never even thought about before this moment. My go-to sassy workout is a street stiletto heels class at Broadway Dance Center, but if that’s not you, give a Surfset surfboard conditioning class a go (at gyms across the country!), or join a running club like Shack Track and Field (yes, it’s a real thing: Shake Shack, indeed, sponsors a fitness-related activity) and just get moving in a way that you feel most yourself.

2. Clothe yourself in fierce.

The holidays likely brought some beautiful new clothes or some gift cards to make some beautiful new clothes happen. Have a few key pieces in your closet — and this could be your favorite work blouse, it doesn’t have to be club wear — that are 🔥 and pull these out when you really need to feel like there is music video smoke following you everywhere you go. If you require the brick-and-mortar experience, I always recommend Express or Charming Charlie for those fun, feel-good items, or if you’re feeling real fancy, try out hand-selected pieces from a personal shopping service like Stitch Fix or The Ms. Collection.

3. Quit holding grudges.

Mental well-being is just as crucial as physical to put your fiercest foot forward in 2017. I was reading an article on the train from the January 2017 issue of ELLE and could barely refrain from letting out a "YASSS" right there on the Metro-North Railroad when I saw the best quote about not waiting for people who have treated you poorly to apologize. It read, "Non-apologizers tend to walk on a tightrope of defensiveness above a huge canyon of low self-esteem — they just can’t listen to anything that’s going to set them off balance" ("Sorry is the Hardest Word" by Harriet Lerner). Taking a step back from the haters and moving forward with grace can be the most satisfying feeling on the planet. Can’t seem to kick that burning vengeful feeling in your gut after a breakup or parting ways with a friend? Check out a speakout group on a site like Meetup, where you can even create your own unique support group!

4. Don't deprive yourself.

Of your guilty pleasure foods, of embarking on a much-needed weekend getaway, of going out for drinks to catch up with old friends — the list goes on. Pick one time of day to treat yourself — to ice cream, a bagel, a cupcake, chicken wings, whatever — and devote the rest of the day to eating wholesome balanced meals (a meal and grocery planning app like MealBoard or ingredient delivery service like HelloFresh can help you there!) so you really will feel healthier throughout the day. If spending is your addiction, use an app like Mint to stay on budget if cash is tight. The coming year is all about letting yourself be a high roller and indulging in life’s simple (or not so simple) joys sometimes, but knowing when to reel yourself in like a classy gal.

5. Ask for a raise.

It’s time to be a boss and lobby for that bonus you deserve. One-hundred percent of women in the workplace do not get paid what they deserve, because women as a whole only earn about 80% of what men do. Catalogue your workplace fierceness so that you have concrete examples to take to your supervisor when you have the conversation, and before you go, consider signing up for a salary negotiation workshop sponsored by an organization like AAUW to give you that extra boost.

6. Communicate your goals and wishes, in all areas of your life.
My philosophy, in anything, is if you don’t explicitly state what you want, in something as easy as getting your haircut, you won’t be satisfied. (Call me insane, but I’ve politely asked a hairdresser to fix my 'do 3 times before leaving). This goes for friendships, relationships, your morning coffee, anything. A quick, 10-minute meditation on the Mindfulness or Headspace app may help get your mind in the right space with some healthy self-talk. You can also snag a copy of "The Power of Positive Confrontation" by Barbara Pachter to practice communicating peacefully but effectively and, therefore, find your fierce place.

7. Believe you are a queen.



It’s as simple as this: start every day with a subtle reminder of your most amazing qualities — it could be anything from your calmness under pressure, to your killer leg muscles, to your awesome computer skills (when in doubt think of that video of the confident little girl who stands in the mirror and gives herself a daily pep talk). Maybe blast your absolute anthem at the tail end of your morning commute (my personal jam right now is "That’s My Girl" by Fifth Harmony — go ahead, judge me — but if you throw on some old school Mary J. Blige, I’m all for that as well.) Confidence is the key to all else, and most importantly, the ability to slay the game!

And to you 2016...


Cheers to the most fabulous new beginnings!


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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

5 Lessons I Learned In 2016 That Will Help Me In 2017


This year, as with any other, has been a mixture of ups and downs, wins and losses, successes and failures, and excitement and disappointment. Yet, because of this crazy rollercoaster of a year, 2016 is one that I will undoubtedly remember forever.

I began the year with my final semester at a school I had grown to call my home over the last four years. It was, by far, the most bitter sweet few months of my life — I was about to embark on the craziest, most exciting journey of my life: the "real world," but I was simultaneously unwilling to let go of what I had spent several years building and nurturing: college friendships and hobbies.

My new Fordham family would no longer be a short distance away, we would all be dispersed throughout the country (thankfully mostly on the East coast, if not in the same city), some with jobs, some without.

After graduation in May, I was lucky enough to begin a position that could not have fit my interests more. I wanted to write to empower women and as a fellow with AOL'S MAKERS, doing exactly that, I have experienced some of the most genuine excitement about what the future holds for me in media.

While navigating post-grad life, I have overcome many challenges and experienced many successes, all of which have helped me come to the realization that, no matter what, everything will be fine.

This holiday season, when I sat down with family and friends, I realized just how much growth I have done this year and became fully aware of the love and encouragement I had along the way. Something I appreciate more and more each year, especially as each one comes to a close.

Here's what 2016 taught me:


It was really easy (especially in the months leading up to graduation) to put pressure on myself in the expectation of following what is "supposed" to happen after graduation. In the process of being consumed by the pressure to find a job, I was often stressed and began losing focus of what was happening in front of me. It was not until after I accepted my fellowship with AOL that I could finally breathe. It was not the permanent, salary position I had been so focused on, but I accepted the fact that maybe my path would not be exactly how I originally planned and that was ok. Unfortunately after spending too much time stressing (despite everyone else saying this exact thing), I accepted the fact that not everyone's "plan" is exactly alike and was fine with that. What's meant to happen will happen and that is not something I will ever forget, especially as my career progresses in 2017.


I have always tried desperately to make time for the people I love and care about, but sometimes when things are busy, it's tough to keep everyone as close as I would like, especially when their schedules conflicted with my own. The same thing went with hobbies and passions. But, since graduation, I have become particularly aware of the impact this has on happiness and the importance of keeping in touch with those I love, even if it's a quick text or phone call, and making time for the things I enjoy. For this very reason, I began my blog — knowing that my passion for writing was not just something I was willing to only exist in my work life, but something I wanted to carry over into my personal life. In the new year, I will continue writing for pleasure in order to ensure it remains a passion and never becomes a chore.

Constantly wondering "What's next?" is not the way I want to live. I have had to tell myself this quite a few times in the last year in order to keep myself in the present. Worrying about what I have to do to prepare for the next stage in my life is nearly impossible because very rarely do things happen exactly as we expect them to. This year I learned that planning things out according to an "imaginary" timeline ends up being a complete waste of time. Next year (and for the rest of 2016), I will stop myself from worrying about what will happen a month from now and focus on living in the moment.

Sometimes, like many of you, I get a little distracted by the discouraging or negative things happening on the news around the world each day and it's hard not to become doubtful or cynical. One thing I have learned is that even when everything else seems sad and hopeless, the best thing for me is to remain faithful and hopeful. Even when all else is/feels lost, I will never let anything make me lose hope or shake my faith.

Things don't work out sometimes— interviews, tests, meetings, et cetera. But that does not mean it is not where I am supposed to be because all good things take time. With every failure comes a future success, so I've learned to stop second guessing and just try again. The beautiful thing about a new year? It's another chance to try something again or a chance to try something new.

Sweater: J.Crew
Pants: Kate Spade
Shoes: Lands' End

2017, here I come.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Shop My Christmas Wishlist

When I sat down to make my Christmas list this year, I knew exactly what I wanted — or at least a one thing.

Unlike years past when I ended up creating a list of clothing, jewelry, and shoes I found while browsing online, there was never really one BIG gift on the list — there was no single thing I desperately wanted.

This year, I found that "big" gift: the Nikon D3400. This — the biggest item on my list — was something I knew I had to have. Because of a combination of my obsession with taking pictures for social media from my iPhone 7 and having started a new blog, it just felt like the timing was right to splurge on a camera.

While, of course, I also added those items I put in my shopping cart several times before convincing myself I didn't need it (i.e. clothes, shoes, and jewelry that I wanted despite having no room in my closet and the current status of my overflowing dresser), the one item I am most looking forward to is that camera.

Browse my list below to see some of the many items I asked for this year, including that coveted camera with Bluetooth technology.

I mean, I've been very good this year, so I deserve it, right?

Women Heeled Printed Pumps; Lands' End; $120.00 (Now on Sale for $84.99)
- Petite Pretty Coat in Wool Mix; ASOS; $91.00 (Now on sale for $63.50)
- The Happy Planner; Michael's; $34.99 (Now on sale for $13.99)
- Nikon D3400 Two Lens Kit; Nikon; $599.95
- Navy Printed Flannel Pajama Shirt; J.Crew Factory; $49.50 (Now on sale for $24.99)


Sun & ShadowFaux Suede & Faux Leather Moto Jacket; Nordstrom; $69.00 (Now on sale for $41.40)
- Blue Plaid Wool-Blend Wrap Skirt; Abercrombie & Fitch; $50.00 (Now on sale for $24.99)
Mark Fisher Ltd Toni Suede Gladiator Pumps; Lord & Taylor; $180.00 (Now on sale for $126.00)
Articles of Society High Rise Coated Skinny Jeans; Nordstrom; $79.00 (Now on sale for $47.40)

Monday, December 12, 2016

7 Stocking Stuffers Every Beauty-Lover Needs This Holiday Season

By Contributor Kristin Magaldi

Finding the perfect gift for all of those special-someones in your life can be one of the most challenging parts of the holidays. It’s important to strike a balance between personalized, useful, and thoughtful without breaking the bank, and the easiest way to do that is with a perfect stocking stuffer. If you know your friend is the type to spend hours at the beauty counter, sampling every scent, and covering her arms in every shade of lipstick imaginable, then here are a few ideas to really make her smile.


This product is a must-have for anyone with dry skin who needs a versatile refresher on the go. Not only can this product be used as a primer, the cool balm is the perfect dose of moisture to pop on throughout the day when your skin is feeling parched. I leave it in my bag all day, using it in the morning to help depuff dark circles under my eyes, then reapplying later when my skin starts looking a little flaky. And if your friend is into more natural products, all of Milk’s cosmetics are vegan, and eco-friendly.


Anastasia Beverly Hills has long been famous for its incredible line of brow kits, but the brand has lately been taking over the eyeshadow game and positively killing it. This palette is by far the best in my repertoire, and quite possibly the best product I own. The pinky-toned shadows are all inspired by different works of art from the Renaissance, and are so incredibly pigmented and blendable, even beginner makeup lovers can create a breathtaking look.


Everyone loves a classic red lipstick, and it doesn’t get more classic than MAC’s matte lipstick in the shade Ruby Woo. An ultimate favorite for beauty bloggers, this shade will get you the perfect, crimson Holiday pucker that will last through all the cookies and Egg Nog. But with the rich pigmentation, and demi-matte finish, your girl will be rocking this color way past December.


If your bestie isn’t one for bold pops of color, get her a lip balm that treats her lips like gold. Not only is Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment great for smoothing and moisturizing damaged, winter lips, the SPF will be essential for summer days spent in the sun. And if she does want a little bit of color, this product is available in a variety of tints!


When it comes to mascara, this product is the Holy Grail. Not only will it lengthen those lashes to the heavens, They’re Real delivers a dose of volume that will have everyone wondering if you popped on some falsies. Even for my stubbornly straight lashes, this mascara never fails to give me some curl and body without looking too clumpy. It’s that good.


If your friend is a polish junkie also looking for some serious nail care, look no further than this NAILS INC. gift set. Not only does NAILS INC. have bullet proof polish that won’t chip for days, each polish in this collection is fortified with a different ingredient to help keep your nails healthy. For example the NailKale superfood base coat is infused with kale extract to help keep nails strong, while the Prince Arthur Road NailPure nail polish is formulated with an oxygen resin complex to make nails look shinier. I might buy myself one!


Highlighter has always been one of my favorite products. After you finish your look, there’s no better feeling than popping some shimmery dust on those cheekbones to make them glow like the heavens. When it comes down to it, BECCA has the best highlighters in the beauty world, and her poured creme skin perfector is no exception. With the cream-like formula, you will be able to get that signature BECCA shimmer that blends right into skin for a smooth finish. Did I mention it will last all day?

Holiday shopping is definitely the challenge of the season, but by popping one of these options in your bestie’s stocking, you’re sure to be the gift-giving MVP.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Treat Yourself: A Simple Holiday Party Outfit

It's that time of year when holiday parties are crammed in to your already busy schedules and reds/plaids are in abundance.

But, how many of those items can you afford to own if everything scalloped, in plaid, or with bows costs more than you're willing to spend?

Answer: Don't let the spending consume you this holiday season. It's supposed to be fun, not a burden.

That said, shopping is fun, but seeing your credit card bills aren't. So choose wisely. Choosing when to save and when to splurge is key — there is almost always something similar for less.

Finding prices within your comfort zone will make you much happier when you wear them.

Though a beautiful YSL bag may be what you want right now, it might not be feasible and that's okay. Look for other similar options that are less pricey and treat yourself.

Below, is one outfit option I have designed that, with a little extra searching, saved me $5,202.01. See for yourself:

Click the image above to view an enlarged PDF with each of the items linked, or simply click through the list below:
Save:
- Ivory Turtleneck Sweater; J.Crew Factory; $33
- Navy Plaid Printed Pumps; Lands' End; $84.99

Total: $226.99

*Remember: don't buy cheap, buy less expensive.

Splurge:
- Red Monogram Blogger Crossbody Bag; Neiman Marcus; $995

Total: $5,429.00

What are some of your favorite stores to shop to buy quality clothing for low prices? Let me know below, I would love to use new sites.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tales to Inspire

If I could choose one thing to make more of a priority in my daily schedule, it would definitely be reading. Because as much as I love to read, so many other things take precedence over actually doing so.

So, I've made a [before the] New Year's resolution: Read.

Though there are about one million novels and memoirs I would love to get through, I had to — of course — narrow it down in order to make the resolution more feasible.

Below, I've chosen just 6 of the books I have yet to read and I promise myself I will get through at least one by the beginning of January.

Click the image above to view an enlarged PDF with each of the items linked, or simply click through the list below:

Do you have books on your must-read list? Or have a book in mind that you just love and want to recommend? Comment below with your favorites! (I would love some more suggestions.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Home Is Wherever I'm With...

There is nothing quite like the holidays to strengthen existing love or spark new romance. But, if you are in a long-distance relationship like myself, it can also be tough this time of year — while also incredibly worth it.

Though it's one of the busiest times of the year, it's also the best time to remember the little things and make them matter.

Below, I've rounded up some of my favorite [inexpensive] long-distance relationship gift ideas.

So, whether you will send or give it to a significant other, a family member, or a best friend, these will certainly bring a smile to his or her face.

Click the image above to view an enlarged PDF with each of the items linked, or simply click through the list below:

Click the image above to view an enlarged PDF with each of the items linked, or simply click through the list below:

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Get to Know: The Sprinkle


Let's just say, "The Sprinkle" has been a long time coming.

For [at least] the last 5 years I have played around with the idea of starting a blog, but nothing ever really stuck.

Despite many attempts at creating one that made sense, I could never decide on the theme — Fashion? Food? Photography? Career?

I was too focused on finding the right platform to use, thinking of the perfect site name, and choosing what I wanted to focus on instead of actually taking the plunge.

I would create one, decide I didn't like it, and start another because it wouldn't feel quite "right."

Now, I'm 23-years-old, a college graduate writing for an amazing women's platform called MAKERS, and have finally decided to be decisive. Decided to be decisive — you get the point.

Eventually, I asked myself what I truly enjoyed writing about. And when I thought it through, I realized that choosing one focus for the blog just would not cover all my interests. I would have to create 15 different blogs for all the things I love to write about.

Eventually it occurred to me that a blog that would best suit me would be a sprinkle of everything.

From posts on restaurant suggestions and excursion options to survival guides and life hacks, there will hopefully be something for everyone.

In anticipation for this week's upcoming Thanksgiving holiday post, get to know more about me here.
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