All posts in: Lifestyle

Unique and Affordable Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

Unique and affordable gift ideas for everyone

Gift giving is my number one love language. I always hate to share that because I think it makes me sound greedy, but I literally mean if you found a rock in the dirt that made you think of me and you give that to me – I would love it, mainly for the fact that you thought of me. And sure while I love to receive a good gift, I love even more to give a good gift, one that you are just so excited to see your loved one open up. I am notorious for spilling the beans on gifts I buy for my friends and family before we ever make it to the holidays. True story – I already told my husband what I got for him because I was just so proud and excited about what I’d found. Because I can’t keep a secret to save my life, it’s so hard for me to shop for Christmas gifts early and keep the secret to myself that much longer, but this year that’s a must! If gifts are more of a chore to you or you’re stumped about what to buy, don’t worry, I’ve compiled gift guides featuring unique and affordable gift ideas for everyone on your list. I hope this makes your 2021 shopping just a little easier and may the shipping gods be ever in your favor!

I polled my Instagram followers and asked them who is the most difficult person to shop for on their list. The top 3 responses were husbands/boyfriends, in-laws, and people they don’t know well but had to get a gift for. I’ve also pulled gift ideas for the traveler, techie, bookworm, fitness fanatic, homebody, best friend, sister, and decorators in your life, but I plan to add more gift guides below over the coming weeks so be sure to check back for more and happy shopping!

Gift ideas for husbands & boyfriends

Why are the guys so hard to shop for?! This was the number one requested gift guide and I totally commiserate. I tried to pull something for all types of guys from golfers, to whiskey lovers, to couch potatoes, to athletes. My husband and my bestie’s husband approved of this list so hopefully your man will too!

gift ideas for the traveler

If you follow me on Instagram you know I travel A LOT! The below are tried and true and must haves for any traveler. I’ve included unique and affordable gift ideas for the traveler below, but also an AirBnb gift card or a plane ticket would be perfect for travel lovers too!

gift ideas for in-laws & parents

In-laws and parents can be tough because they already have everything and they have way more money than us millennials – lol. I like to go for the heart strings on Christmas, so I’ve pulled a few sentimental picks. And I also like to try to spend a little more on them since they do so much for us! I’ve personally gifted the massager and the bucket list book to my mom and stepdad and they loved them both! Who wouldn’t love a set of luxurious sheets?! *adds*to*her*own*wishlist* 

Gift Ideas for girlfriends & sisters

This one gets me because my best friends are very preppy and I’m a bit of a free spirit so when I see trendy things I’m not sure how they will fly with my friends. Celestial pieces and the female form pieces are SO in right now and I love them! I’ve also included some classic items like the neutral crewneck, the funny candle, and the beautiful embroidered bag. A Little Words Project bracelet is always a special gift too! The lightning bolt BFF bracelets are something I swoon over, but they are the priciest item on this list. Definitely a keepsake item. If not for Christmas maybe a special birthday, wedding gift, or bridal shower gift?

gift ideas for someone you hardly know

These unique and affordable gift ideas stemmed from an Instagram request of gift ideas for “my brothers new gf I hardly know”, but I think it could also work for co-workers, your hair stylist or nail tech, a neighbor, your child’s teacher – that sort of contact in your life. The Himalayan salt alarm clock and sloth planter really depend on your audience, but I thought they were really cool find. The stove top fragrance kit is so unique – I think moms and friends would love that idea too!

gift ideas for techies & Gadget lovers

This gift guide is for the person who loves cool gadgets and technology. I think the apple air tags will be a huge hit this year. The USB rechargeable lighter is so cool to me and very ecofriendly as well. The retro phone holder actually has a speaker too and just is a fun little gadget someone may enjoy!

Gift ideas for bookworms

I created the booklover’s unique and affordable gift ideas guide somewhat out of selfishness haha. I’m a massive booklover and love any chance I get to cozy up with a good read. I never ever thought I’d be the type to buy an e-reader, but I did, and I hate to say I love it. I don’t read EVERYTHING on my Kindle Paperwhite, but I do read a lot on there and it hooks me because when I finish a book it provides suggestions for what I might like next and then it hooks me again! It’s a cool thing to have, but it will never replace the feel of actual books so I’ve included the cute page holder and the beautiful pressed flower bookmarks. When I think of reading, I think of being snuggled up and warm so I added some nice teas, a candle, a cute crewneck, and the famous Carhartt hat.

gift ideas for fitness fanatics

 For the gym rat in your life this gift guide is for them. I love this sweatshirt so much and the Etsy seller that makes it has a ton of other cute options and colors! The Dry Bar wet brush as well as the freshening up kit would be perfect for finishing up a workout and keeping in a gym bag, which is another great gift idea if they don’t have one!

gift ideas for homebodies

The homebody gift guide follows the same train of thought as the booklover’s gift guide – it’s all things cozy. A satin sleep set with pillowcase, scrunchie, and eye mask would be such a treat! The book shelf games are just so pretty, even if you didn’t actually play the game they would look so nice! And the heated slippers and/or heated plushie would be super cozy for the winter months ahead. 

gift ideas for home decor lovers

The unique and affordable home decor finds really make a statement. I personally have the jewelry stand and it’s an Instagram favorite that I get asked about a lot! I love these cocktail glasses giving me all of the Gatsby vibes. The lap desk is great for those of us still working from home. And I am obsessed with the Roman head vases (she says as she adds to cart). 

As mentioned up above I’ll be adding to this list of unique and affordable gift ideas for everyone on your list all season! If there is someone on your list that is particularly difficult to shop for just let me know in the comment below and I’ll pull some ideas for them! Wishing you the most wonderful holiday season!!! 

Also, if you’re looking for a homemade option check out my post on how to make quick and easy homemade ornaments!

Xx, Ashley

How to make quick and easy Homemade Clay Ornaments and Gift Tags

Handmade clay ornaments

One of my most favorite parts of Christmas time is the giving of gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I love
receiving them too, but giving someone something I just know they’ll love (or even make them cry happy tears) is what really excites me. To me, giving is what makes the season so magical. During this time of year, we aren’t so focused on ourselves, we’re focused on our loved ones and finding the perfect something to put a smile on their faces. What could be better than that?!

I think that homemade gifts can sometimes get a bad rep. I immediately picture lots of glitter, noodles, and glue. But they don’t have to be cheesy or tacky! I want to share with you how to make quick and easy homemade clay Christmas ornaments and gift tags. It’s a special and cute way to show someone you care and something they can keep for years to come! Plus, it’s affordable, quick, and not very messy. Win win win. 

If you’re looking for a last minute gift to really pull at the heartstrings then these quick and easy homemade clay Christmas ornaments and gift tags are it! You can find everything that you need to make them quite easily and some you may already have! Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it:

Supplies you will need

Supplies needed for making clay ornaments and gift tags

How to make clay ornaments and gift tags

  1. Roll out the dough – should be about ¼ inch thick, if it’s too thin it’ll curl up and/or break easily
  2. Place cookie cutters as desired
  3. Peel away extra dough
  4. Stamp your sayings – be careful to not push too far in otherwise you’ll get the rectangle of the stamp on your design
  5. Put a little hole wherever you’d like the ribbon to go through – the alphabet stamp set that I used came with the perfect little tool for this 
  6. Let dry for 24 hours – the clay will go from a light gray color to pure white when it’s totally dry
    1. You can put in the oven at 300 for 30 minutes to speed up the process
  7. Use a nail file to smoot the edges and any wrinkles that may have occurred while drying (this can get a little messy so hold over the sink or trash can)
  8. Tie the ribbon!

helpful hints

See! Easy peasy! You can also paint your clay ornaments and gift tags if you’d like, I chose not to because I preferred a minimalistic look. I thought I was going to love the Merry Christmas ones the most, but I actually love the Silent Night moons! I also made personalized stocking labels for our family and ornaments for a friend’s newborn baby and another friend who bought a new home. Get as creative as you like with your quick and easy homemade clay ornaments and gift tags. 

Be careful not to roll out your dough too thin. I made this mistake and the dough sort of wilted up and the stamped lettering went all the way through the ornament. Also, don’t skip the filing step, this made all of my ornaments look so much crisper and nicer. I was originally only going to file the edges, but I used the file to smooth out the top of the ornament for any fingerprints or wrinkles and it worked like a charm. Then I used a rollerball ink pen to sign the back.

Personalised Clay Ornaments

merry christmas and happy holidays!

There’s just a few days left until Christmas, but these quick and easy homemade clay ornaments and gift tags only took me about an hour to make! If you don’t have modeling clay on hand and it’s too late to order then try this easy three ingredient homemade dough recipe that I found! And if you’re too crunched for time then definitely bookmark this how-to for next year. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Xx Ashley

For more tutorials head here. 


How to turn a small room into a closet!


In May my husband stumbled upon a gorgeous house back in our hometown of Cincinnati (we were living in Chicago at the time). I’m used to him showing me random real estate since he loves to peruse RedFin and Zillow, but this time we couldn’t let the thought of that house go. In a series of spontaneous and serendipitous events we made an offer on the house without having ever stepped foot inside of it and decided to pack up and move back home! And now, we are the proud owners of a 100 year old fixer upper – AKA our dream home!

You would think that one of the most exciting parts about transitioning from a small condo to a large home would be closet space, but apparently 100 years ago people didn’t have as much stuff! There are definitely plenty of closets in our new house, but they are tiny! I guess walk-ins weren’t a thing back then. So, I quickly decided that I was going to turn a small room into a closet. 

Luckily, the bedroom right next to the master is, shall we say, bite-sized, so perfect to make it into a little closet! One day we plan to knock down the wall between our room and the tiny room and make it one big room, but for now, the small bedroom is my closet. Since we have bigger plans for this room, I didn’t want to spend too much on custom closets or anything like that. I wanted to maintain the integrity of the room for now and just make the space work for my needs. I spent around $450 to turn this small room into a closet and here’s how I did it…

1. The big stuff you'll need to turn a small room into a closet

First I had to think about the overall layout of the room and where I could actually hang my clothes or put them into drawers. The room has a tiny closet already, but that wasn’t going to cut it for all of my clothes. I decided that a couple of wardrobes would be perfect for the space, much more affordable, and as close as I could get to a built in. 

If money weren’t an object then I probably would have purchased the Paxton closet system from IKEA to take this room to the next level. But since we are going to redo this space anyway, I wanted to save where I could. I actually LOVE secondhand shopping, it’s a hobby of mine, so I started perusing Facebook Marketplace to see if anyone was selling used wardrobes. I totally lucked out and got two IKEA wardrobes for $150. Such a deal! But still not enough space. 

Garment RackThe wardrobes have hanging space and shelves, but they aren’t super wide, so I wanted additional hanging space. This garment rack is perfect for additional hanging space and I love that it has shelves and is also somewhat decorative. I already had a jewellery organizer and shoe organizer so I was good to go on that front. 

I wanted some drawers for things like bras, underwear, camis, pjs – things like that, so I repurposed my old changing table. YES, you read that correctly. This is literally the changing table that my parents changed my diapers on, but it looks like a little dresser! I used chalk paint to cover the ugly brown and make it white and I changed out the hardware for cute gold/crystal drawer knobs. I love how it turned out!

If you’re on a tight budget then definitely consider upcycling, secondhand shopping, and looking for big sales to save when you turn a small room into a closet.

2. Clothing organizers

Turning a small room into a closet takes a lot of thought in order to maximize the space. Even after you’ve found your big storage pieces, your work isn’t done. You need to find ways to make those things work for you even more. I purchased A LOT of cloth bins to act as additional drawers inside the wardrobes and also to put on top of the wardrobes. Not only are they functional, but also cute and decorative! The bins hold my workout shirts, workout pants, swimsuits, cardigans, hoodies, panty hose, belts, and lots of hair accessories 🙂

I could have easily just folded things and placed them on the shelves inside of the wardrobes and on top of the wardrobes, but to me that would look so cluttered. This helps keep me organized and keep my clothes neatly folded and easily visible to find what I’m wanting to wear. 

I also decided to invest in better hangers. I found some great wooden hangers for my dressier pants. Since I don’t wear them very often I hung them in the little closet that is part of the house already. I also purchased some velvet hangers because they help avoid that hanger dimple in your shirts, which no one likes, plus they are pink and cute 🙂

I always struggle with how to organize my cute summer tank tops. Folding them and putting them away makes it so hard for me to see. I found these cool hooks that keep them all together and are much easier to sort through. They’re also great for hanging purses or belts!

3. Makeup and hair accessory organizers

My small bedroom turned closet also doubles as my vanity/getting ready area. At some point I plan to buy a cute vanity, but for now I use the top of my changing table/dresser. I have a decent amount of makeup (read more about my fave makeup hereMakeup must-haves for a fresh-faced look) and A LOT of hair accessories that I wanted to be sure I could see clearly, but also keep organized. I found this clear acrylic makeup organizer that spins – the spinning is super handy for small spaces. Also this acrylic hair accessory/headband holder is great and while it doesn’t fit everything, it fits my favorite things for now!

Makeup organizer I organized all of my makeup and other beauty products into this organizer and anything that I don’t use as often I stored in the top drawer of my little dresser. These little drawer organizers are the perfect size for hair clips and miscellaneous makeup. I’m obsessed with these little organizers and have them everywhere in my house! You wouldn’t think they’d be handy since they’re so small, but they are amazing for things like random batteries, screws, hair clips, chapsticks, coins – everything!

My curling iron, straightener, and hair dryer stay in this top drawer to make getting ready super easy and organized. This awesome makeup mirror that has a light feature, which is super helpful since I don’t have the nice bathroom lighting in this bedroom. I also have a tiny little fan here because it gets HOT blow drying all of this hair right after a shower. Can’t recommend this enough if your room doesn’t have a ceiling fan.Makeup mirror with lights

4. Jewellery organizer

One idea/life hack that I’m super proud of creating – is turning a lipstick/nail polish holder into an earring holder. It is a life saver for keeping all of your earrings, especially little studs, organized and easily visible so you can find them quickly. 

This jewellery stand is one of my favorite pieces, unfortunately it’s from Pier1 and they’re going out of business 🙁 but I found a similar one! This is a pricier investment for turning a small bedroom into a closet, but so worth it. And depending on which one you get, it could definitely be an heirloom piece – I know that’s what I plan for mine to be! 

This jewellery stand just holds SO much. I have no need for anything additional. All of my necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and even travel organizers are stored in this awesome piece.

5. the final touch to turn a room into a closet?! Decorate!

Turning a small room into a closet is definitely about functionality, but it was also about aesthetic for me! I wanted this to be a very girly, peaceful, fun space that I look forward to being in. The first thing I wanted was a white rug to brighten up the space since the floors are so dark. I also knew that I wanted a really cool standing mirror. They’re just such statement pieces and functional to be able to see your whole look.

I also wanted to display some of my favorite bags, so I used the shelves on the clothes rack for that since they are a bit narrow anyway. In the future I plan to add some floating shelves to display more bags!

I added some white, sheer curtains to keep it airy and feminine and am planning to hang some fun wall art, but I just haven’t found the right thing yet. More to come on the decorating portion. Ultimately, just make this space a reflection of you! A place that feels good and gets you in the best mindset  for the day 🙂

down to the nitty gritty

How to fold or roll clothesOnce you have everything you need to turn a small room into a closet then you just need to make sure that you use all of those things wisely. Here are a few more nitty gritty organizational tips:

  1. Separate your summer clothes from winter. I put my summer dresses on my clothing rack and winter dresses in one of the wardrobes. I plan to swap these out seasonally. 
  2. Separate clothing types: dresses from shirts from pants, etc.
  3. Color code – I have everything divided by clothing type and then also color coded. It makes getting ready for the day very easy breezy.
  4. Roll instead of fold, this saves so much space in your drawers!
  5. Where rolling isn’t possible, stack! I stack my bulkier items like jeans and hoodies.

HAVE FUN WITH IT! You’re lucky enough to be able to turn a small room into a closet! That’s so awesome!! So make it a space you love to be in and remember you don’t have to break the bank to make it an amazing space. You can upcycle, shop secondhand, and search sales to stay within your budget. 

If you end up turning a small room into a closet PLEASE share pics and tips with me! I would love to see your new space and I hope this served as helpful inspiration to get you started!

xx, Ashley

A beginner’s guide to navigating the NSALE

A Beginner's Guide to Shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!Happy NSALE season – the sale is now open for all cardholders!!

As a lifestyle blogger, it’s slightly awkward to admit that I’ve never shopped the NSALE before, but it’s true!  The reason is that previously it was never a place that I regularly shop as I find the prices to be a little outside of my budget, so I was never sure when the sale actually happened. But this year I have been ALL about it. So as an NSALE beginner I’m sharing a beginner’s guide to navigating the NSALE!

First Step!

First and foremost, I saw that if you signed up for the Nordstrom credit card and made a purchase you would get a $60 bonus note, so that was a no brainer. I applied for the card, bought an Adidas pair of leggings I needed/wanted, and received my $60 bonus note to shop the sale (this literally paid for a pair of sneakers I’ve had my eye on forever!). If you’re not already a cardholder then this is well worth it!


Secondly, as with any big sale, there’s a few things that I consider: budget, needs, wants, gifts. What’s my budget? What do I truly NEED if anything and what is just a want? Are there any holidays or special occasions coming up that I should buy a gift for? 

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers advise that if you’re on a tight budget you should stick to only buying staples. I completely understand that rationale, to invest in good quality staples, but I do have a different take. Why not invest in awesome, fun, splurge items that you wouldn’t normally get to splurge on and get whatever staples you may need at Target or even Amazon – because we can all agree that their quality is much better than expected and you can find great deals. And who likes to spend all their budget on blah staples? That’s like buying a new roof, you only do it because you have to. 

If the NSALE isn’t how you want to practice some self care then check out my blog for 5 ways to practice self care for much more affordable options!


Thirdly, it’s time to build that wishlist! I literally have been adding to my wishlist every day since the sale began and obsessively checking back to see if the items I love are still in stock. I definitely didn’t get everything I wanted due to sell outs and also budget constraints, but I still got some amazing deals! AND don’t let sell outs discourage you – there will be returns and occasional restocks, so definitely set up alerts to get updated if anything comes back in stock!

Breaking down this huge sale by category

If you have been following the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NSale) or follow any fashion influencers on Instagram, then you may be at the point where you’re tired of hearing about it. It’s a lot! There are so many amazing products in so many categories and everyone has their special way to navigate the sale – it’s hard to even know where to begin. So let me break down a few categories for you and also show you what I actually bought, because let’s be real, my wishlist is extensive 😉 Shop by category for the best way to navigate the NSALE as a beginner!

House Picks

My husband and I just bought a house (woohoo!) and moving from a small condo to a big house means we have a lot of furnishings to purchase. Of course I want to splurge and buy all of the pretty things – so this was a big priority for me in the NSALE. I’m completely obsessed with anything copper because it’s basically rose gold so all of these decanters were a must have for me! They’re on sale for $45 from $75. I may need only buy one for now, but I’ll slowly build the collection. Can’t wait to set up a bar cart!


I do not own a Tory Burch bag YET and this one is so classic and cute, can’t beat the price either. However, I will admit that as much as I wanted it, I’ll have to save it either for next year or my birthday wishlist. While a great price, it was still too much of a splurge for me. Coming from a  beginner’s perspective, I will definitely save up next year to be able to get items like this.

I already own this Longchamp bag and you should too! I take it on EVERY trip. It is the best bag to grab and throw so much stuff in that you may or may not need, but at least you have it! If anyone commutes by train to work a backpack is a must-have and it’s also perfect for the gym.

Fun and Funky Sneakers

Fall is coming and I will literally be wearing a cute pair of sneakers almost every day. I love how versatile they are to be styled dressy or casual. I love booties too, but sneakers are my fave. The first pair in the carousel is the pair I kept making sure was still in stock. Cannot wait to get these delivered! They were my #1 pick from NSALE! But, I definitely wanted all the others. Depending on how much bling you like – there’s an option for everyone!


Everyone needs booties for Fall. It’s definitely a staple to splurge on. I opted for the edgier, more funky versions rather than the classic brown leather bootie. So for that reason I got the first pair in the carousel and I’m so excited. They give me Doc Marten vibes without the price tag, they’re under $50!! I definitely wanted the white pair, but will have to save for later 🙂 The brown booties are so cute and classic and I already own very similar options that are great to pair with jeans or even cute Fall dresses.

Jewelry picks

For whatever reason, I always think of jewellery as a splurge item rather than a staple even though some very classic/expensive pieces are absolutely staples. If I’m at a checkout line and need to cut down on my total, I always get rid of the jewellery first. So for that reason I really wanted to get some nice jewellery pieces in the NSALE. They had so many awesome pics, but these were my favourites.

Edgy outfit pics for fall

I usually opt for an edgier vibe in the Fall – I have no explanation for this lol. The NSALE had some great options to go with my edgy Fall vibe. I got the black wide leg jeans and the cheetah sweater. I had my eye on some oversized flannel, but sadly it sold out 🙁 So, I’m making sure to check back later to see if there were any returns. If you’re shopping the NSALE as a beginner, definitely think FALL! Because it’s right around the corner 🙂


My first experience with QUAY was via a FabFitFun box and they are truly great quality sunnies. I have an aviator version, but I’m loving these cat eye styles! $35.00 for a quality pair of sunnies is quite a steal. It’s not a need to have, but a nice to have (arguably), but that’s the whole point of this beginner’s guide to navigating the NSALE!

Best of Loungewear

This starry set was also a must-have for me. I rarely treat myself to fun pjs, but these are so darn cute and will be perfect for winter! This set flew out of stock so I had to order larger sizes than I’d prefer, but it may just make them extra cosy! They still have other prints available too!

Treat yourself to a cozy loungewear set – especially during #stayathome!

cute coats

You could argue that coats are a staple for sure, but statement coats are a little more of a splurge. Regardless, it’s a great time to invest in winter coat and save! I LOVE this powder blue wool coat and it’s still in stock! If my closet was big enough I’d buy all of these, but for now I will just admire and hope you might be able to snag at least one!


This color block fleece sold out like crazy, but there are still a few sizes left, and I’m hoping it gets restocked because I’m obsessed. I’d even buy this full price! I am totally here for animal prints, they’re not a staple, but they’re so fun and I really hope the trend stays in style!


A good bra is always a good investment so this is a little stray from my method behind this beginner’s guide to navigating the NSALE! but still! Even if you already have a closet full of great bras, you can always splurge on another good one! I especially am loving this black spanx bra that could be worn to the gym or just an ordinary occasion.

Adidas Picks

If you’ve been following along with me for awhile, you know I LOVE ADIDAS. So of course I had to scope out the best Adidas picks. I think these leggings are fierce and edgy – which I love and they’re under $30! The sweatshirt just looks so sweet and cosy. And of course who doesn’t need a classic pair of black kicks? 

what i ended up buying at the NSALE!

True to my plan for navigating the NSALE as a beginner, I ended up purchasing basically one splurge item from every category. I wish I could have purchased every single thing on my wishlist, but I’m so excited to receive what I did buy! I’m also keeping an eye out for a few things to potentially come back into stock, but if not it wasn’t meant to be! I hope you like some of these items or are inspired by them. Don’t feel any pressure, just have fun!

What I bought at the NSALE

5 Ways to Practice Self Care

Happy International Self Care Day! I hope you are able to find some time today for YOU. I know so many of us struggle with making time for ourselves. We get so busy, or we think we don’t deserve a break, or we just don’t make it a priority to actively treat ourselves to some self care. So, for whomever needs to hear this today or any day, YOU DESERVE IT! Which is why I’ve put together these 5 ways to practice self care.

When we take time for self care we ultimately make a better version of ourselves. By taking a pause for a much needed mental break, we allow room to become more present with family, friends, work, side hustle – everything! Think about it, when we get SO busy running from thing to thing, we’re usually just thinking about the next thing rather than the present thing. These pauses give us a chance to reset, regroup, and reflect.

Try your best not to buy into the lie that it’s selfish because that’s so far from the truth. Self care is an investment. You invest in your 401k to take care of your future self, so why not care for your present self in any little way that you can? A big part of investing in ourselves is investing in our mental heath – enter self care!

For me personally, I struggle with chronic anxiety and have since high school. Over the years I have had to learn various methods of self care and with that, being more mindful about intentionally setting time aside for self care. I can be a social butterfly, but quickly get exhausted, so I’ve learned to schedule self care nights every once in awhile and they are non-negotiable – I don’t flake out on myself! I encourage you to do the same. Make self care a priority. Today I’m outlining my top 5 ways to practice self care in the hopes that my suggestions will work for you too!


#1 Journaling

Gratitude journaling is just that – you write down all of the things that you’re thankful for. It is so grounding on days when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Just sit down and jot a few things that you’re thankful for – it can even be as simple as your cosy bed you get to cuddle up in at the end of the day – but suddenly it puts everything into perspective and you feel a little lighter.
For me, gratitude journaling evolved into list writing or bullet journaling on occasion. Whenever my mind is full of ideas or to-do lists I just write them all down and it is so freeing! It opens up space for me to be able to focus on other things or even conversations I’m having so then my mind doesn’t drift elsewhere.
Of course one of the best parts about journaling is the cute notebooks like this one and this one. I also keep lists in my planners. Yes, plural 🙂 I have one for work and one for my personal life/side hustle. And you can’t have a cute notebook without some fun and colourful pens. Who say you can’t accessorise for mental health?!

#2 Self spa time

Notice I called this section “self spa time” not “spa day”. The key here is that you’re not splurging by going to the spa (although if it’s in your budget then by all means have at it sister!) and you’re also not using an entire day, just a few intentional hours. For me this helps to minimise that nagging, guilty feeling of spending time on myself. I 100% believe that we should never feel guilty about investing time in ourselves and our mental health, but sometimes it sneaks in. Taking these precautions helps me squash that guilt. It may not be an issue for you and that’s great!

For my self spa time I LOVE to light A LOT of candles, I’m talking fire hazard quantities (jk), but I just find candles to be so calming. They really set the tone for my intentional me time. I love the Capri Blue Volcano candles and the Woodwick Candles the most. I think the Woodwick brand is even better for Fall/Winter because they sort of set a fireplace glow mood. 

Once I have the right vibe, I take this time to do beauty treatments I rarely ever do – like facemasks. I typically never have the time or patience to sit in a mask, but for my self spa time, masking is perfect to sit in and maybe even meditate while you let it work. It is so refreshing for your skin and so soothing. You will feel like a million bucks afterwards. 

Another thing I like to do to pamper my skin is spend a few minutes using a facial roller. I have the electronic version, but a simple roller also does wonders. Not only does it feel SO good (literally it’s as good as rocking a baby to sleep), but it has noticeably improved the elasticity of my skin – much more firm and lifted!

If I have more time, I love to give myself a mani/pedi! For me this just means using a scrub on my feet and then just putting on a fresh coat of polish (I love OPI) on my toes. I’m terrible at painting my own fingernails so I love to use the Impress or KISS press on nails. If I’m splurging I’ll go get a nice dip mani 🙂 Feel free to really get into your spa time. After all, this is YOUR time!


#3 read with a cosy beverage

There’s nothing better than a slow morning with a good book and a fancy coffee or tea. I LOVE to read, but lately haven’t been making enough time to get through my reading list. I realise I really miss it! Just like binge watching your favourite show, it’s such a good way to turn off the brain and get away from reality for a bit. If you’re not a reader then swap this suggestion for your favourite show or even a good movie!

I love to read pretty much everything, but my favourite genres are self-help and fiction. My favourites recently are: You Are a Badass, In Five Years, and The Happiness Project. I could write out all my favourite books, but that would take FOREVER – I see another blog post in my future 😉 If you’re in the market for a new read, I would check out one of those!

I also think a nice hot drink sets the cosy vibe even more! I’m a coffee AND tea drinker, but usually gravitate toward coffee. I recently picked up a milk frother and it is my new obsession. I feel like I’m treating myself to a fancy Starbucks coffee in my own home! I also have quite a mug collection and love to choose my morning mug like I love choosing my outfit of the day! Currently loving this mermaid mug


#4 organise your space

Organising is SO therapeutic! There’s something about living in a messy, chaotic space that just makes anxiety that much more stressful. I love setting aside time to organise something. A friendly warning though, don’t make this goal “organise the house”, make it much smaller like “organise the desk”. Just a small chunk of time every so often will do wonders.  I recently made it a priority to organise all of my beauty and makeup products. I find having the right tools really makes the job so much easier. So I found this rotating organiser to sit on my vanity as well as this small stackable organiser. I also bought these various drawer organisers to keep everything from rolling around inside my vanity drawers. It allows me to still be able to easily see everything without being inside a makeup bag. I also did quite a bit of purging, which is just so cathartic. Get rid of whatever doesn’t serve you anymore! 

This fourth tip of my top 5 ways to practice self care is also the gift that keeps on giving, because not only does it feel good to organise and set everything up just how you want it, but it also feels great every single time you come back to use the space. 


#5 take a nap or have some quiet time

Last but not least, and also my personal favourite of the 5 ways to practice self care, is napping/quiet time. I am truly the nap queen to the point that my college roommates used to call me Sleep Monster – lol. I used to think that something was wrong with me or that I was super lazy, but the more I analysed why I need this nap or quiet time, the more it made sense. 

Stress is exhausting! Anxiety = stress! Plain and simple. I find that even 20-30 minutes with my eyes closed is SO refreshing. I notice this especially on Fridays when the work week is done and we have plans to go out later, I just need a little time to reset and rid myself of any lingering work stress. It’s not laziness, it’s taking care of my mental health. We should never feel guilty or ashamed of this!

If you love naps and quiet time, make sure to set up a comfortable space. Whether that’s your couch, a cushy chair, or your bed. Mine is my bed 🙂 I have the best pillow you’ll ever try and it’s even customisable. I also use a lavender spray to make the room smell and feel so calming. Lighting a candle is also very cosy if you’re just resting and not sleeping. Occasionally I’ll use the headspace app for relaxing soundscapes. This is hands down my favourite way to care for myself. Cosy pjs and slippers are also a must!


self care is self love


I truly hope some or all of these suggestions for 5 ways to practice self care resonated with you! Mental Health Awareness is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart and whatever I can do to help you on a path towards better mental health I would love to do it! Always remember that self care is not selfish, it’s self love – and more than that, it helps you be able to love your loved ones even better! Let me know if you try any of these methods and I hope you have a wonderful International Self Care Day!

xx, Ashley

Like this article? Read more on the blog and check back weekly for new content!

How to Make New Friends as an Adult


It’s National Best Friend Day! This is one of my favourite days because I have some of the best friends in the whole wide world. But it wasn’t always that way! Making friends can be tricky, especially as an adult, so I want to offer up some advice on how to make new friends as an adult!

Being an only child, I’ve always always always wanted sisters, and at some point in my life I just decided that my besties would be my sisters. I truly treasure my friendships and make them a high priority. I didn’t always have this circle of sisters, in fact I struggled to make long lasting friendships in high school. Although I had a lot of friends, none were truly my soul sisters. Luckily that all changed when I went to college and made some of the best friends a girl could ever imagine! We did everything together!

OSU Besties
Ohio State Besties

After college we all went our separate ways for a bit, but then somehow we all ended up in the same city within a 1-mile radius of one another! Now, we are all married and whether they liked it our not, our husbands are super close too 😉. We hang out almost every weekend, do exercise classes together, go shopping together, meet for dinner, and even go on vacations together. 

We are truly a friend family.

Moving Away From the friend fam

We thought it would be this way forever, but about a year ago, my husband got a job in Chicago and we had to move away from Cincinnati. This meant relocating from both our family-family and our friend family, which was not easy. We tried to see the silver lining that Chicago and Cincinnati are only a 5 hour drive apart. We didn’t think this would be a huge deal, but it has definitely been a lot harder to cope with than we originally suspected. I miss that friend family dynamic more than I could possibly explain!

One thing you never really think about as you go through life is how to make new friends as an adult. Typically, you grow up with people who stick around forever; you meet people at school, your job, or church. But those relationships tend to have developed at a younger age. So when we found ourselves in a new city where we knew absolutely no one we of course wanted to make new friends – and boy has that been tricky!

Besties in Chicago
Besties in Chicago

At this age (30 something) most people have their crew and they aren’t really looking to broaden that circle. I completely get that because that’s exactly how we were back in Cincinnati, but it’s really hard to cope with as an outsider. A year and a half in to our Chicago experience and we are only just now starting to form stronger bonds.

I always joke that it’s almost like dating! I went out to dinner with a few girls on separate occasions and we just did not click, we had nothing in common! So I chose not to invest my time and energy in those relationships just like I would have done if it were a romantic interest. Always be protective of your time and your energy and don’t apologize for it!

Eventually, we have navigated this “will you be my friend” landscape at the ripe old age of 30 😉 So I wanted to share my tips and tricks on how to make new friends as an adult should you ever find yourself in a similar situation one day…

7 Tips for making new friends when you're new in town

  1. Put yourself out there. Don’t wait for an amazing new group of girls (or guys) to seek you out because you’ll be waiting forever. Like I mentioned, most of us already have our circle of besties and aren’t necessarily looking to expand. Go to the block party where you don’t know anyone, find a Meetup group you’re interested in and don’t flake out on it!, mention a team happy hour at your office. Be brave and take initative.
  2. Keep an open mind. Your new group of besties might look completely different from your group back home – and that actually makes a lot of sense! Most of us have had our besties for AGES and when we met we were probably one person that we might not be now. It’s natural to grow and evolve, but that original group of besties grew and evolved with you. This new group did not, so you’re starting fresh. Be open to befriending people with a different outlook on the world – who knows, you might learn something!
  3. Take an interest. If there’s someone at your office or in your neighbourhood that you find intriguing then be sure to take an active interest in their life. Whenever you see them, ask them about themselves, and the next time you see them be sure to reference those tidbits of information that you’d already learned. It shows that you care and grows a thread of trust, which as we know is the foundation of any relationship.
  4. Be selective. (But didn’t you just say to keep an open mind?!) What I mean is that if you have literally nothing to talk about, if you are the only one carrying the conversation or trying to hang out, then that tells you something about the future of this “friendship”. You wouldn’t want a romantic interest to make you do all the work; so don’t let a potential friend treat you that way just because you’re lonely.
  5. Stay attentive and in touch. Don’t just hang out once and then wait forever to make another plan. Keep the momentum going! If you find a funny meme or a pretty dress that your potential new friend might be interested in – send it! Once again, this goes along with taking an interest. It shows you care and that you’re truly invested, which is important because people’s time is precious.
  6. Don’t give up or get down on yourself. It’s not like everyone has a million besties and it’s not like those deep, meaningful relationships happened over night. They took time to develop and flourish. So if you don’t have 5 new best friends in the first month of living somewhere new THAT’S OKAY! You’re not weird or unlikeable it just takes time.
  7. Don’t go home every weekend. This sounds pretty obvious, but it really wasn’t for me at first. I missed my best friends in Cincinnati so much that I drove home almost every weekend to be with them. Well, how was I supposed to make new and meaningful relationships if I was never in Chicago to meet anyone?! I’m not saying NEVER go home, but just space it out. Your besties back home will never forget you and you will never mean less to them just because you’re in a different state. They will understand and even encourage you to try to lay down some roots. Also, when they come to visit you it’ll be much more fun when you have new people to introduce them to!
 Give yourself some grace to adjust to this whole new life you’ve made for yourself and try not to force anything. Once you take a deep breath and let things unfold, you’ll find you’ll start to attract exactly what you were looking for all along! Good luck and best wishes, girlfriend!
Bachelorette Besties
Bachelorette Besties

Xx, Ashley

P.S. Since you’re here and we’re basically besties 😉 I’m sure you love style! Check out my post on Must-Have Summer Style at Target!


Target Must-Have Styles for Spring & Summer

Scroll down for Spring and Summer style at Target!

Picture this: it’s a day ending in “-day”, you wake up, brush your teeth, maybe brush your hair, put on some tie-dye lounge-wear, do a a little bit of work, maybe a run if you’re feeling sassy, eat copious amounts of snacks, and browse the internet until you fall asleep. THEN you wake up and do the exact same thing. We are all living the same day on repeat and while many places are starting to reopen, Chicago is not one of them. Before I continue, I do want to note that I am in no way insensitive to the immense hardships many people are facing. My family has been hit both financially and physically, it’s a very difficult time and my heart goes out to all of you. I just hope this article adds a little levity to your day.

There are so many things that I miss being able to do and I know I’m not alone in this, which is actually really and strangely comforting, that we aren’t alone. [Whoever you are, wherever you are – please know you are not alone! We’re in this together. xx] I’ve realized that the things I miss most aren’t necessarily what I would have guessed, but are much more the little every day things that I take for granted. The Italian in me just wants to hug literally everyone at all times (more about me)! I really miss that human touch. I miss my family, my besties, that little Indian restaurant around the corner, and so much more…. like shopping! Yeah, yeah I know I can go online, but there’s something about browsing a store, finding hidden gems I didn’t even know I needed ;), that I really miss!


In this uncertain economic climate my brain knows that I should be saving, BUT EVERYTHING IS ON SALE!  I’ve truly found some absolute gems and amazing deals. I’m realizing that perusing the app, following influencer stories, and scrolling through  favorite store’s website has become a solid replacement for browsing in a real store. It’s definitely a welcome escape and I get so excited when the packages arrive. It’s like the opposite of instant gratification, but it makes the joy last even longer and I love that.


I ordered these affordable Spring dresses from Target during their sale about two weeks ago. I’m wearing the camo t-shirt dress in a large. The dress is extremely comfy and could definitely be dressed up with some nude/tan wedges and a tan moto jacket, cute sandals and a jean jacket, or even dressed down as a beach cover up! It runs a little large, I could have gone with a medium. For reference, I’m 5’2″, 38D, large booty!  It’s currently $20.00!

This lilac midi dress comes in blue, green, burgundy, and white. I nearly got white, but I’m really happy with this fun color. It looks pink on the Target website, but is much more lavender in person. I recommend sizing down as it’s a bit over-sized. It’s super floaty and soft, I can’t wait to wear this to a thousand places, a thousand different ways. It’s currently $34.99, but I purchased it on sale – so keep an eye out! One thing I love about Target is that you can set alerts for sales and even to get notified when your favorite styles come back into stock.


Spring and Summer style isn’t complete without the perfect white tee. I bought these daisy jeans recently from abercrombie and I knew I wanted to pair them with a plain white tee, but then I came across this gorgeous eyelit long sleeve t-shirt from Target and had to have it. The sleeves are so beautifully structured with a slight poof at the shoulder. The body of the top is light and flexible. I want one in every color! It comes in red and rust, TTS, only $19.99. I think this compliments my new, fave jeans so well and is perfect for Spring when there’s still a slight chill in the air.


Your Spring and Summer wardrobe isn’t complete without a few classic graphic tees. I cannot say this loudly enough: Target’s graphic t-shirt selection was amazing even before it was trendy. THEN they came out with this Taylor Swift Lover t-shirt. I swear I’d buy multiple just because I know I’m going to wear this one so much it’ll be tattered one day, and that day will be a very sad day. I bought this in an XL because I wanted it to be over-sized and it’s perfect. I think I’ve worn it three days this week #sorrynotsorry. Then I found this Guns N’ Roses t-shirt that I’ve seen circulating Instagram and it’s also fabulous, I’m wearing a L. Both were only $14.99, you really can’t beat it. 

The distressed shorts with the Taylor Swift T are super stretchy and have a lot of give, which is great if you overindulge at a summer bbq. I really like the longer inseam because I can’t stand when my shorts ride up between my legs. This pair is a size 12, but I would’ve preferred a 10, unfortunately they were out of stock and I needed something quickly. I’ll make them work!

Thanks for checking out my favorite recent Target purchases. So affordable, great quality, and extremely versatile which is everything I look for in my clothes. I hope this helps your future Target run! Happy shopping 🙂



Hi! It’s me, Ashley Rae!

Hi! I’m Ashley

Hi everyone!  Well, it’s a little awkward to introduce yourself virtually – but, with anything, you have to start somewhere! So here we go… I’m Ashley! I’m an Ohio transplant living in Chicago with my husband, Andrew, and our three year old golden retriever, Ruthie. By day I’m a marketer for a non-profit organisation, and by nights/weekends I’m a blogger! I have a business degree and an art history degree, random – I know! More on this later 😉 I love to shop, write, take pics of anything and everything, read, eat, and explore.

Meet my little family

My husband works for an airline so we are super blessed to be able to jetset for a long weekend every chance that we get. I’m planning to share those experiences with you in order to offer some tips for planning your itinerary, where to go, what to do do, how to avoid tourist traps, how to stick to your budget, and everything that goes along with having the perfect adventure.

When we aren’t off exploring some new and lovely place, we explore the city that we’ve called “home” for about a year now. I’m pretty sure you could live in Chicago for a decade and never repeat a restaurant twice. The food scene is phenom, which is perfect because we love wine, cocktails, all sorts of cuisine, and of course indulging every now and then. Plus, I’m super blessed to have a husband who loves to cook! He’s always trying new recipes and I’m always up for tasting them haha. Some of my favourites include his guacamole recipe, fried chicken, salmon and brussel sprout salad, just to name a few! I’ll share all of the delicious ones with you so that you can try them out too! I’ll also share the fails so that you don’t have to waste any calories on something icky.

Travel | Life | STYLE | Beauty | Health

 Always smiling!

Speaking of calories…you’ll see that I’m not a tiny girl and I’m not a plus size girl, I’m very much somewhere in the middle. So that’s the kind of styling that you’ll see from me!  I am a massive believer that EVERY BODY is beautiful. I fully embrace my curves, but I’m also on a constant battle to try to make healthier choices. Some days I’m the picture of health and others  I can’t stop/won’t stop with the snacking.  My hope is that this journey will resonate with you and that we can encourage each other and grow together. I’ll confess that my downfall is typically my diet, but my strength is exercise and I’m obsessed with my Peloton and the Peloton app as a whole. I’ll be sharing my favourite workouts, any exercise tips that might be helpful, and if any diet revelations strike me then I’ll be sure to pass those along!

So happy you're here!

I want this little corner of the Internet world to be an encouraging, positive, fun, safe, and inspiring place for all of us! I want to put a smile on your face and offer some inspiration whether it’s for your next trip, your next outfit or home decor purchase, your next DIY project, or your next diet & exercise step. This blog is 100% here to provide some sunshine and encourage us all in living our best, authentic life.

All this being said, I also want to hear from you! What do you like, where do you want to go, what do you want to learn more about, where do you shop, what do you need help and encouragement with? I’m here for you and I am listening. Never hesitate to reach out with whatever is on your mind!

I’m so excited you’re here, let the adventure begin…

xo, Ashley