Lifestyle

25 Things I Learned In My 25th Year

As I sit watching a cheesy Hallmark movie on the evening of my 26th birthday, I can’t help but reflect back on my 25th year of life and all that it has brought and taught me.

Self-Confidence

  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. Time spent comparing our lives to others whom we know nothing about, is often time wasted.
  2. Have an opinion of your own-conversations with opinionated people are the best, even if their views differ from yours.
  3. Constructive criticism is a blessing in disguise.
  4. Be vocal. Be your own advocate and always stand up for what is right, even when others stay silent.
  5. It’s OK to have goals and dreams that seem unattainable or are different from those around you-go after it and don’t stop until you get it.

Family & Friends

  1. If you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents, visit them. The wisdom and love they provide is immeasurable.
  2. There is no place more comforting and reassuring than the arms of your parents. As an adult, you can truly appreciate and understand the sacrifices they made for you and their influence on your life.
  3. Setting aside time to share a meal or hangout with friends is important and could always be the dose of therapy you never knew you needed.
  4. Never leave without saying I love you.
  5. You naturally get more and more like your mother every day.

Love

  1. Don’t go searching for love, love will come to you when the time is right.
  2. Love is patience and understanding.
  3. Love doesn’t mean finding someone that’s perfect, it’s accepting another’s flaws and imperfections.
  4. Healthy love should make you feel at peace and allow you to always be yourself.
  5. You can’t fully love someone until you fully love yourself.

Kindness

  1. You can never go wrong with sharing a smile or an act of kindness.
  2. Many people are facing battles you know nothing about.
  3. Always show respect and treat others how you’d expect to be treated. The janitor deserves the same respect as the CEO.
  4. Be grateful-there’s always someone who has it worse.
  5. Listen and acknowledge other people when they speak.

The Future

  1. Fate is fate and what’s meant to happen will happen-stop worrying.
  2. Dream it, believe it, achieve it. Think of why your dreams will happen for you..not the reasons they won’t.
  3. Trust in timing.
  4. Surround yourself with positive and influential people that will inspire you and guide you toward your goals.
  5. When in doubt, ask God.

26, I’m ready for you.

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Lifestyle

Favorite Date Spots in LI/NYC

Do you love to eat?

(Okay, what the heck kind of question is that, Amanda?) I know…keep reading.

Now that the beach days are over and my summer bod has officially gone back into hiding, I’m less conscious about choosing a salad for dinner and am much more inclined to lean towards the comfort food. I mean, life’s about enjoyment!

There’s also something to be said when you’re newly in a relationship for the first time in a while because date nights turn into contests of researching the best food spots in the area. The whole, “Let’s try a million restaurants!” thing suddenly becomes acceptable…right? My boyfriend and I have basically become self-proclaimed critics and food connoisseurs whenever we go out and I thought, why not share some of our finds with you guys! I narrowed down my list of several places to my top few favs! If you’re in the LI/NYC area, stop into these great spots, eat your heart out and let me know what you think!

1. The Good LifeMassapequa, NY 

If you’re a lover of pub-style fare, this place is for you. The Good Life is an English style pub eatery (hence the makeshift telephone booth covering the front entrance) that prides itself on its diverse menu and tap beer selection. I have to say they have one of the most eclectic and unique menus I’ve come across..you won’t find these dishes just anywhere and you’re guaranteed to find something for everyone (health freaks, I’m talking to you, too!). The vibe is casual, yet intimate and you don’t feel like you’re lost in the dark at some old dingy pub. Great place for a fun date night!

Must-tries: 

  • Pesto Spaghetti Squash (with chicken!)
  • Quinoa Salad Wrap 
  • The Mac Attack Burger
  • Mashed Potato Wontons 

2. Snaps American Bistro Wantagh, NY 

My mouth waters just thinking about this place! Snaps is a little on the pricier side but you’re definitely getting what you pay for. They also offer price fix menus on select nights during the week and brunch every Sunday from 12pm-3pm! If you’re looking for an interesting date night menu that will get you talking, you have to stop here. The food is fresh, the options are plenty and the cuisine is different. With a variety of 16 different types of burgers and unique gourmet entree options ranging from short rib Wellington and a lobster crusted fillet, there is no limit for your taste buds. If you have a more generic palate, don’t fear..there are plenty of generic options as well.

Must-tries:

  • Pumpkin Ravioli 
  • Mac Truck Burger
  • Truffle Parm Fries
  • DIY S’mores for dessert! (so cool!)

3. Grand Banks Hudson River ParkNYC

Before I went to Italy, my boyfriend set up a surprise daytime date for us in the city and took me to this gorg restaurant. It’s a great summer spot (I’m pretty certain they’re now closed for the off-season) but jot it down for future reference! A full service oyster bar and top-notch restaurant situated on an wooden Schooner from the 1940’s, Grand Banks makes for a very romantic and picturesque date idea. You’ll enjoy views of the New York Harbor, Hudson River and Freedom tower right from your table. Word of the wise-they are known for their seafood and lobster rolls, so if that’s not your thing..keep this in mind!However, if you’d like to go just for cocktails, you’ll still get the full experience and enjoy an awesome drink selection with an even better atmosphere.

Must-tries: 

  • Lobster Roll
  • French Fries (with spiced ketchup!)
  • Burrata
  • Revolucion Cocktail

4. BobbiquePatchogue, NY

If you know me, you know my allegiance to all things country and southern BBQ. I’ve been to Nashville twice and love a good spare rib 😉 Bobbique brings Tennessee comfort food right to Long Island and I’m so here for it. From their country fried chicken and steaks, to BBQ smothered ribs and baked cornbread, the cuisine is perfect for the times you’re in the mood for something other than just burgers or Italian. I especially like the ambiance…it’s as if you’ve stepped into a southern saloon with its rustic look and meals that are served on metal trays..super cute! Every time I’ve been there, there’s been a live band playing which at times can be a little loud if you’re trying to talk to someone across the table..but nonetheless, the food rises to the occasion and does not disappoint.

Must-tries:

  • St. Louis-style ribs
  • Half BBQ chicken
  • Fried Pickle Chips
  • Collard greens (this was my first time ever having these..amazing!)

5. STKNYC

So you’re feeling fancy, huh? If you’re looking for an actual night out (club/lounge vibes) coupled with an upscale steakhouse, STK is always the answer. (I’m a social butterfly/city-lover so this place is a favorite of mine) There are locations in both Midtown and Downtown, depending on where you feel like hanging out. I’d recommend making reservations beforehand because it does tend to get crowded, especially at night. STK offers the complete NYC nightlife experience and vibe, as well as an intimate setting for a date or couples’ night out. I enjoyed the rooftop view just as much as I enjoyed the food and would always recommend this spot to someone visiting the city from out of town! After dinner, you can hang out and enjoy drinks and music…and maybe dance if you’re like me!

Must-tries: 

  • Creamy Yukon Potatoes
  • NY Strip Steak
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts
  • #thecloud (if you don’t know this dessert, take a look at my ‘Fun’ highlight on Instagram a few clicks in! Mind-blowing.) 

6. San Marzano’s Brick Oven Pizza – Merrick, NY

It seems they don’t have their own website as of yet..but let me tell you guys, San Marzano’s is not strictly just pizza. As a matter of fact, the restaurant took an extra piece of my heart because it was the most authentic Italian food (since I’ve been in Italy) that I’ve had since being home. The homemade pasta and signature touches on traditional dishes are things I have not commonly found when out to eat. I’d like to think a lot of their inspiration came straight from Italy….right down to the Pesca Te that they import !! If you read my post about my trip to Italy, you know that these novelties are only found across the sea!

Must-tries: 

  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Fried Calamari
  • Homemade Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash
  • Tiramisu 

I hope you enjoyed my little rendition of a restaurant review & the places I enjoy frequenting! If you stop by any of these spots, please give me a shout out and tell em’ who sent ya!

For even more food-inspired date ideas and awesome LI eats, check out my friends over on @nassau_bites!

With love,

Amanda

xo

Lifestyle

10 Ways To Conquer Your Anxiety Naturally

Hello my fellow weekend-lovers! Welcome to this week’s post.

As I continue to watch my site grow and am beginning to notice new names on my subscription list, I have been diligently brainstorming new topics, new stories and new inspirations to share with all of you. I love speaking about my adventures and things of levity and fun but I also think it’s important to discuss topics that may be more difficult, personal and real for many people out there. If I can help or relate to one person on the other end of this screen in some small way, I know it’ll have been worth it to speak on.

I bounced back and forth with the idea of speaking about anxiety (particularly my own), but I came to the conclusion that it’s a very raw and trending topic that so many of us face on the daily, it deserves to be spoken about and shared. I am by no means an expert on this, but I’ve definitely had my run with it and would like to tell you about the struggles I’ve faced and what I’ve learned along the way. The more mindful you become, the easier it will be to tame this ugly beast.

You see, growing up..I generally was not an anxious child. Sure, I can remember always liking things in an orderly fashion, sticking to my set schedule of homework, shower and bed without fail or not stepping on the sidewalk cracks as I skipped to the bus stop. I can remember being an angsty middle-schooler who would get the occasional rush of nervousness or worry over essentially nothing, only for it to pass shortly after. But to me, these were never red flags and certainly were no indication that I’d be an anxiety-prone twenty-something in years to come. I just thought they were age-appropriate feelings and phases.

Let’s talk about the word…

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms. (www.medicalnewstoday.com) 

Statistics 

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety Disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of people receive treatment.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. (adaa.org)

Let’s push these stats and medical terms aside for a moment because realistically, the word anxiety means something different to everyone, mainly because every person feels or experiences it in a different way or for a different reason. To be honest, I was a young adult when I started hearing this word tossed around and I genuinely had no idea the significance it held. Was it real? Does it mean you’re just nervous about something? What was it to truly feel the wrath of anxiety? I couldn’t understand the people who claimed they had it…and in many cases, I thought it was some sort of cop out or excuse.

That was until I faced my first true bought of intense and all-encompassing anxiety when I was just 22 years old and in the years following. It is by no means an excuse, but a very real and scary continuous internal struggle. A struggle that I still face but have now managed to combat with my own mind and fortitude.

If you ask anyone that has suffered from severe anxiety of any kind, they will likely tell you that they can’t pinpoint exactly why it came on..it just happened one day. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people have valid reasons or traumas that may have caused it, but for others it seems that anxiety rears its ugly head almost unexpectedly. unnaturally. For reasons we may not always realize right away. And for people who have never experienced it before, it is that much more terrifying.

For me, this happened three years ago. A recent college graduate facing the real world for the very first time…and newly broken free from a very toxic, intense and unhealthy relationship that had entangled me for almost two years. I was lost. sad. fearful. uncertain. About pretty much everything in my life.

I didn’t quite realize the severity of the impact this relationship had on me until I was, well, out of it. The pain of a heartbreak combined with the stress of graduating school and making that big transition from student to working adult was not easy for me. Slowly but surely, I slipped into what felt like a whirlwind of perpetual panic and angst. Feelings I hadn’t felt on this level, ever. Who am I? What am I doing? What’s going to happen in the future? Am I a good person? Will I be okay? I constantly felt scared. I constantly felt as though I was walking a thin tightrope that would eventually snap. Each night, laying down to go to bed would result in a fit of panic and a heart beating so fast, you’d think I had just run a marathon. And the same would repeat with each passing morning. No matter what I did, this would not turn off.

Perhaps the hardest part for me was this lack of control I felt I had over my own mind, this discomfort in my own skin. The way my thoughts would spiral and play in a loop until they were beaten to death.  Until I was physically and mentally drained. Until I was completely petrified of them. Every negative thought that came through my mind got stuck there and I’d spend the whole day talking myself through what seemed to be a do or die problem in my head. Begging for reassurance from others, constantly. I spent days, weeks, even months having a hard time getting myself to feel relaxed or at peace, sometimes scared enough to not have the strength or desire to leave my house. At this point, it’s hard to imagine that you’re not going crazy. You feel lost in your mind. Alone. Confused. It’s even harder to explain to others who don’t understand this feeling how petrifying it truly is. (I thank my mom for holding me and laying with me, although she didn’t always get what was going on when I called her crying.)

The most important piece to understand out of all of this…is that anxiety can change forms at the drop of a hat. At least in my case. For example, one minute I’d be nervous about my future or question who I was as a person, yet the next I’d be recollecting and agonizing over a mistake I made 10 years prior (no joke). The day after, I could turn on the news and see a segment on a car crash…and BOOM. I was anxious and petrified over driving, out of fear of the uncontrollable. In the world of anxiety, this is known as a “trigger“. I was surrounded by these triggers daily but didn’t know how to adequately face them. My mind was in constant motion, my body in perpetual upheaval.

Through my own continuous research (thanks Google), I learned that what I was suffering from did in fact coincide with generalized anxiety disorder, more specifically rumination and if you want to get even more technical, obsessive/intrusive thoughts (a subset of OCD). Remember those cracks I couldn’t step on as a kid? Yeah, me too.

It turns out that most people who experience anxiety have likely had it their whole lives. It just lays stagnant until something detrimental happens in your life, causing it to sweep in and ignite a roaring fearful flame within you.

For me, this “something” was an abusive relationship. One that battered my confidence and constantly made me question my worth and direction in almost everything. One that made me consistently feel like I was the one doing something wrong and I wasn’t good enough, when that wasn’t the case at all. In the moment, it’s easy to believe that it actually is you and not them. You are the problem. If you had just done what they had said, they wouldn’t have treated you so badly. Until you’ve removed yourself from this situation, can you really understand how toxic it really was. How many warnings signs you ignored. How insecure this person really must have been in themselves to be able to take your strength and diminish it.

Your situation may have been different..but that was mine.

Fast Forward….

When all is said and done, anxiety feeds off of these weaknesses. Poor confidence. A sense of feeling lost. Lack of hope. Grief. Fear. Anxiety LOVES fear. Whatever the situation that may have caused you pain, anxiety will take full advantage of it and breeds in your vulnerability.  I know this, because I lived it.

But I’m here to tell you this. This will not last forever. You will have bad days, plenty of them. It will come back time and again. But you are stronger than it. There are several ways to stare this beast dead in the face and tell it that you’re not afraid of it.

I’m not someone who jumps right to the medicinal route when it comes to ailments of any kind. If you choose that option, that’s great..you need to do what works best for you! Remember that in terms of mental illness or anxiety, medicine is just a band-aid subduing what’s already broken, not a permanent resolution to the problem. Through time and experience, I have found natural ways to combat these feelings, which I continue to practice to this day.

Here’s what worked for me….

1. Remember, it’s not you. 

The first thing I forced myself to recognize early on when I began getting these anxious spells was that this was the anxiety talking. This was not who I was as a person. Despite what your mind is telling you. Trust me, this isn’t always easy at first. It may take time to understand this. You’ll get moments of panic followed by moments of clarity. It’s hard to assert this notion when anxiety grips your mind..because anxiety really will make you believe crazy things about yourself and the world around you. You can’t control the triggers that set you off, but you can learn to control how you let these triggers affect you. Fight tooth and nail to say, “This is not me. This is a brain glitch I’m experiencing and it’s causing me to feel upset, confused and nervous. I will get past this.”

2. Sit with the feeling.

I know you’re probably thinking that I’m completely crazy for saying this, but it’s necessary. What I mean is this. When you feel anxiety wash over you, let it. When you feel it affect you physically, let it. When you feel like you want to cry or scream…do it. Let yourself feel. Don’t try to fight it or suppress these emotions. I’ve noticed that trying to fight it takes twice the energy out of you and most likely won’t make a difference anyway. By feeding into this mind game, you are giving the anxiety more fuel to grow and instill fear. Let the spell run its course by sitting in the discomfort and waiting for it to pass. The more you do this, the more immune you will become to the feelings of panic and dread that come with an anxious attack.

3. Talk!

Depending on your personality, this may not always be the first thing you want to do in this type of situation. But I promise it will make a world of difference. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust and are comfortable with. Writing what you’re feeling down on paper. Talking to a professional who can offer an unbiased opinion and advice. These are all ways to release the negative emotions and transfer them to a place other than your mind. When I was at my worst, I always battled with wanting to share how I was feeling with others because sometimes I felt I couldn’t even explain what was happening, even if I tried. I soon realized that speaking to my parents or my friends was therapeutic because it released some of that burden off of me. And another thing guys…don’t ever be ashamed to reach out for a different type of help or decide that you may want to speak to someone outside of your family/friend circle. Therapists are practically a trend nowadays and they are there for a reason..they are trained to help you!

4. An uplifting playlist..

If you know me personally, you know that I’m obsessed with all things music. I always have been! I truly don’t know what I’d do without it. Believe it or not, music really can change your mood and outlook, too. Whenever I felt anxiety coming on or was in the thick of it, simply turning on happy music or a good playlist would instantly calm me down. For me, this could be something that reminds me of a tropical vacation or brings me back to a fun time in my life. Music has a funny way of doing that. Hearing a song could remind you of a certain time or place, completely transporting you from the present. Thinking back on fun, happy memories is an amazing way to shift your focus to the positive, rather than the dark rabbit hole your anxiety is trying to drag you down.

5. Mindfulness, Meditation & Yoga

These three things are by no means easy..but they do really help if you consistently practice them. I have no where near mastered meditation (or yoga for that matter) yet, but quieting your mind is something that really helps keep obsessive and anxious thoughts at bay. Two apps that I have used and find beneficial are Headspace:Meditation and Stop, Breathe & Think . Both offer guided audio meditations based on your type and level of anxiety. I find it best to listen to when I’m laying down in bed at night. Meditation allows mindfulness; the ability to focus on the present moment, while accepting and acknowledging your thoughts, feelings and sensations. You’ll be able to feel your body relax as the negative thoughts are replaced with the words of the guided audio meditation. Lastly, yoga is also a great way to calm an anxious mind. It can be difficult to get the hang of at first, but the point isn’t to be an established yoga master. It’s again, to be mindful and to listen to the affirmations the instructor provides throughout the class. Some of these affirmations are really geared towards a mind that doesn’t always slow down. This can make a huge difference in what you allow to occupy your mind.

6. Support

This is kind of an addition to point number 3 on this list but more specifically..cling to those around you. Do not shy away from or isolate yourself from others based on how crummy you are feeling out of fear they won’t get it. Open up to people because chances are, they might understand your anxiety and be able to help! This can be really tough, I know. Luckily, I was blessed with friends who understood what I was feeling because they, too, experience or have experienced anxiety at some point in their lives. To be able to explain what you’re feeling to someone who says “I get it. I’ve been there.” is a surefire way to kick this thing in its butt. I thank my best friends who helped me by sharing their own individual struggles and support…my mom for being my peace and comfort, even my best friend’s mom (love you Mrs. Murray!) for taking me on a frozen yogurt date one day last year, simply to tell me that it’ll all be okay, that she has been through it too and offer her advice.  But guess what, even if someone doesn’t directly get it because they’ve never been through it..it doesn’t mean they can’t offer just as much support. Having a significant other who’s wonderfully caring and understanding and wants to learn more about your anxiety, (even if they can’t relate) is the best feeling. (shout out to the sweetest boyfriend…thank you a million times over.) Having support means everything!

7. Stay busy

When anxiety strikes, you may not always want to get off the couch. Or go out to dinner with friends. It of course may feel easier to cancel all plans and stay in the house. But when you do this, you are doing yourself a disservice and giving anxiety what it wants. There were many days I would get home from work and have a lovely date with my sofa, neglecting doing the things I loved because I physically and mentally felt horrible. This actually winds up making things worse. Staying inside and brewing over how crummy you feel sinks you deeper into the pit. Force yourself to take on hobbies. Force yourself to get up and go to the gym or that yoga class, say yes to dinner plans or do something fun during the weekend. Force your mind to shift its attention to something else. Don’t get me wrong, you may still feel anxious when you’re out and about..there is no guarantee it’ll just disappear. But it is much better to keep your mind and body busy, as opposed to sitting on your couch or in bed feeding into the negativity.

8. Exercise & Diet 

This. is. HUGE. Seriously. You may not realize, but everything you put into your body can have a negative or positive impact on your brain chemistry. Just as the same goes for the physical. When my anxiety was really bad, I noticed this immediately. A 20 minute run on the treadmill could calm my mind just by releasing those endorphins. On the other hand, junk food or lots of coffee would amplify my panic and keep me on edge. It’s important to take care of your physical health when your mental health isn’t quite functioning properly. Not skipping meals, eating plenty of healthy foods and getting adequate rest are all part of your “mental health” maintenance and healing process. Getting into the habit of hitting the gym or going for a walk can help boost the happy hormones in your brain. There is a park/preserve near my house that I relied on heavily when I was going through this…walking there everyday gave me a chance to relax and reflect. To this day, I’m reminded of how much it helped me during that rough time whenever I go there.

9. Keep the faith.

In the words of Billy Joel, Keep the faith. Always! Whoever you believe in, whatever you believe in. Faith does something for us. Faith takes all of the pressure and fear that life brings off of us and gives it to a higher power. In my experience, faith has enabled me to stop worrying about the future, to stop worrying about the unknown, the What Ifs’, the Whys’ or Whens’ and it has let me put my trust in the man upstairs. There is something so calming about releasing your troubles, with the understanding that all will eventually be okay. When I’m having a bad day or moment, when I feel anxious thoughts creep in, when I’m unsure..I remember that I am not in control. I do not know what my future holds for me and I have to be okay with that. I turn to my faith which helps me understand that things happen for a reason and I will ultimately end up where I need to be. Faith helps me realize that better days always come back around and that this too, shall pass.

10. Make a decision.

If you’ve reached the end of this, congrats..and thank you. I know it was a lot to digest. My last tip for conquering anxiety is this. Decide whether or not this is how you want to live your life. The answer is obvious, I know. Of course no one wants to live like this. But then comes your call to action. Ask yourself these questions out loud. Do I want this thing to control me and instill fear in me? Do I want to waste another minute of my life letting my negative thoughts consume me? Or do I want to shut anxiety down and beat it at its own game? Once you’ve affirmed your answer, it’s time to set a series of goals aimed at conquering your anxiety once and for all. Taking the power back into your own hands. Goals may start small, like opening up to a friend and talking about it. Next, it may include taking up a new hobby or forcing yourself out of the house. A more final step may be letting these thoughts and fears in but dismissing them. Once you start practicing this and truly start believing that you have nothing to fear and are stronger than your thoughts, you are home free my friends.

I have reached the point in my journey where anxiety will undoubtedly try to creep in and pull me under but I fight my hardest not to let it. I recognize my thoughts for what they are…thoughts. I accept them and dismiss them. I of course have days, even weeks where I feel its wrath physically and mentally, but it’s in those times that I cling to my loved ones and give myself extra TLC. I choose not to give anxiety any more power than it deserves and most of all, I choose happiness and faith.

At the end of the day, life is short and fleeting. There are so many moments and milestones to enjoy and be present for. Do not waste them on this. Anxiety wants to make you believe in all the reasons you can’t, instead of the reasons why you can.  You are destined for greatness. We all are.

If I’ve talked to you a million times or I’ve never even spoken to you at all, please reach out to me if you’re struggling. A simple message. I’m here to listen because I understand. Never feel alone…everyone, (I literally mean everyone) has felt this before at some point in their life. From celebrities to people like me.  If they tell you otherwise, they’re lying.

I hope you read this and sought some sort of comfort. I hope you gained the courage to open up and speak about it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of!

I’ve been working on this post for some time and little did I know that the day I finished would be World Mental Health Day…meant to be, huh?

I want the best for you all. Let’s conquer anxiety together.

With love,

Amanda

 

Lifestyle

My Brother’s Wedding Day

I’ve always been enthralled by weddings.

There’s something so magical and so pure about witnessing the holy matrimony and celebration between two people who began as strangers and eventually crossed paths on this vast planet; only to discover that they cannot live without the other. Who have made a conscious and life-altering decision by saying, “I choose you.”

They fell into the emotion and state of being that is love and all that comes with it. Two people who have made the choice to stand before God, family and friends to profess their loyalty and commitment to another person for the rest of their lives. Come hell or high water. To me, this is something so sacred, beautiful and rare. Something I can only hope for in my own life.

Every time I witness a wedding celebration, whether as a guest, on television or driving down the street, I can’t help but smile or get emotional. I wonder where their story began and how they got to where they are. How did they know they met “the one”?

Weddings are special. But they’re even more special when they involve someone you love. Your flesh and blood. Your sibling.

My Brother

Growing up, my older brother Frank was just like any other. He lived to pick on his little sister. From Nerf gun fights in our basement to him sneaking a squirt of soap into my glass of water when I wasn’t looking, I always had to be on my toes around him. At four years apart, I looked up to him, yet feared him. Loved him, yet at times, hated him. (especially when he broke my skip-it or traded his bad beanie babies for my good ones) My brother was the first to do it all, the guinea pig so to speak. He marched to the beat of his own drum but essentially set the tone for my younger brother and I.

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As kids, we’d argue. I’d annoy him, he’d make me cry, I’d tattle on him. And the cycle continued for a few years.

But something happens when you exit your childhood and teenage years and transition into young adulthood.

You start to realize that maybe this older sibling of yours is…kind of cool. The age gap seems to close and you begin to relate to this sibling of yours as more of a friend. A friend that shares your upbringing, gets all of the inside jokes you tell and understands just how good your grandma’s cooking is.

As we grew older, Frank became this to me.

An accomplished athlete, brainiac and typical boy that at times gave my mom a run for her money, he was the cool older sibling that I got to tag along with as an 18 year old. Always out and about, always having fun..I couldn’t wait to follow in his footsteps.

But there’s another side of him also. If you know my brother personally, you understand when we say he’s a man of few words and of little emotion. He’s very private and will rarely volunteer how he’s feeling (especially the mushy stuff..blek!). He’s the manly man that fishes and hunts. That loves sports and building things with his hands. The man that swore he’d never find his perfect match or a girl that shared the same interests he does.

That all changed in the summer of 2015.

My brother, who I thought would never settle down, had a change of heart one summer night. I vividly remember going out with some of our friends and my brother being so eager to tell us about what a great time he had had the night before. “I met my wife last night…”, he said with such certainty and a sparkle in his eye that I’d never seen before. Did my brother just, show emotion…??

Another thing..my brother never seemed to find a girl he deemed good enough for him and is very hard to impress. This clearly had to be a special one…

This manly man was exuding mushiness and dare I say, giddiness. It was like the shiny key to that dusty lock in his heart had been found and it wasn’t long before it was opened.

June 22, 2018

Flash forward 3 years and my brother’s assertion has come true.

That overtired, under-dressed nurse that showed up to the same Babylon bar my brother was at one summer night three years ago (in an attempt to help her friend get over a heartbreak), was the same girl that would be meeting my brother at the alter 3 years later, looking as beautiful as ever. Two lives intertwining to become one.

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My new sister, Mrs. Lindsay Nicole Palmeri is the sweetest, kindest soul you’ll ever know. She brings sensitivity to my brother’s otherwise rough and edginess and her bubbly personality to my brother’s no-nonsense, old man demeanor. She’s a passionate nurse, constantly expanding and achieving in her workplace. Her and my brother uprooted to North Carolina last year and she was able to take all of her medical experience in New York and apply it to a great hospital where they live.

Lindsay is an extreme animal lover and pet owner and loves the outdoors as much as my brother does. So much so, they’re currently honeymoon cruising through Alaska! (you do your thing guys, I’m more of a Caribbean type of girl) She’s the calm and patient to my brother’s not-so-calm and not-so-patient and I’m near positive I couldn’t find a more perfect match for my brother than her.

The first time I’ve ever seen my brother cry was the moment he saw Lindsay at the foot of the isle ready to walk toward him. Growing alongside Frank my whole life, this was a moment I’ll never forget. To see my brother’s lips quiver like that in front of an audience can only mean one thing…that shiny key must’ve worked.

Although they’re not exactly the same, Lindsay and Frank fit together like puzzle pieces and I know this was God’s intention for each of them. They’re two go-getters that know what they want out of life and I can’t wait to see their story unfold.

(P.S.– a niece or nephew as soon as possible would be great, just saying)

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The Reception

These two threw one hell of a wedding at The Fox Hollow in Westbury, NY. From start to finish, the celebration was a beautiful testament to their love and as elegant as ever. From the staff, to the venue, to the food, Fox Hollow left no stone unturned. Shout out to the Maitre D’, Samir, and the bridal assistant, Meghan for being super attentive and engaging the entire day. There was never a moment where we weren’t taken care of or made to feel like Lindsay and Frank’s day was the most important of them all.

To anyone wedding venue searching on Long Island, seriously check this place out! My brother got married at their new Somerley addition and we couldn’t be more pleased with everything.

The evening began with champagne and mingling alongside the lull of a baby grand piano. Following the ceremony, we entered the cocktail hour where food was running rampant. From lobster-filled raviolis to a carving station and everything in between..there was no way you could even try everything that was offered. The actual dinner menu itself had 10 options!

The reception room at the Somerley was elegantly decorated, open and airy. It definitely fit the mood and tone my brother and Linds were going for.

As I’ve mentioned, my brother is so not into the girly details of wedding planning or sentimentality but the one thing he was certain he wanted at his wedding was a band. Lindsay let him run with it! We’ve grown up and were raised on Italian classics and Frank Sinatra so it’s no wonder why he didn’t want the traditional DJ. Honestly, having a band was so much more engaging and personal and it really brought all of the classics to life and got everyone dancing. Big Ray and The Kool Kats exceeded even my personal expectations..I could’ve danced with them for hours, even after the wedding was over! From grandparents to teenagers, everyone sang and danced along at some point.

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Wedding Glam

My beautiful coworker and friend, Victoria, is an extremely talented makeup artist and beauty connoisseur that spent her entire afternoon beautifying the bridal party. Victoria has grown her art from the ground up and has had experience with all sorts of clientele, even doing makeup for the cast of Bravo’s ‘Summer House’! It was a blessing to have her there with us, especially seeing the looks on everyone’s faces once they looked in the mirror. The compliments were endless. Plus, the makeup withstood my emotional teary bursts throughout the night. In my next post, I’ll be delving a little deeper into Victoria’s work, who she is as a makeup artist and why the ladies should totally check her out. She’s amazing!

Another massive shout out to Rae Watson for bringing my ultimate vintage hair dreams to life. This was my first time meeting Rae and I now know who I’ll be using for all my hair needs! This was by no means how I thought I wanted my hair for the wedding but it came to my mind that morning. I’m still obsessing over it and felt like a 1940’s movie star the entire day!

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From the food to the ceremony to the glam action, I wish I could go back to a week ago and do it all over again.

Watching my brother marry the love of his life was one of the happiest days of my own life. It was wonderful to be surrounded by friends and family, celebrating the ‘forever’ between two people I love dearly.

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The next time you’re at a wedding, no matter whose it is, really take in why you’re there. Take a look at the two people you’re celebrating and what makes their story unique. To be part of someone’s special day is such an honor because it means they value you enough to include you in the script of their story. I hope to someday begin my own script…and maybe even blog about it 😉

Stay tuned for more pics to follow!!!

With love,

Amanda

Lifestyle

From Strangers To Sisters

Hello my fellow weekenders!

I hope everyone enjoyed this beautiful Father’s Day weekend by raising a glass to all of the hardworking dads, grandfathers, uncles and men who have stepped into a fatherly role, even if they don’t have kids of their own. Dads, we salute you..for without you, we wouldn’t be here!

It’s been a while since I’ve popped on here due to the onset of a busy summer…work, family, friends..and all things bridal! (not for me, quite obviously) but I just celebrated the bridal shower of one of my best friends and this week, my brother gets married! eeeeekkk, what?! My brother..crazy.

I’ll be doing several follow-up posts regarding my whereabouts and some recent events I’ve attended these past couple of weeks so I hope you’ll stay tuned! And as always, tell me what you’d like to know more about!

Anyway, I always get a lot of questions and commentary regarding my friendships and the people I spend most of my time with. Someone even requested that I write a little bit about this!

Who my friends are, where I met them and how we all became so close.

Growing up, my mom always told me that it’s never the amount of friends you possess that matters; rather the quality of the company you keep that signifies a true bond and a successful set of relationships. You can have all the friends in the world but if those friends don’t know your deepest fears and wildest dreams and aren’t there to pick you up when you’ve fallen from grace…guess what, you don’t have any friends. I always say I’d rather take one friend who knows me like a book and I can relate to, over 10 friends who I have no substantial connection with.

Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed with many beautiful friendships. Some have served my life for only a period of time and some have withstood the test of time and many years. I’m sure we all have friends whom we’ve lost touch with but it’s almost a given that if we ran into them on the street, it’d be as if nothing ever changed. You can almost pick up right where you left off and laugh at that crazy memory from childhood. That’s the tell tale sign of a good friendship.

Unfortunately, time and personal growth often separate us from people we thought we’d be friends with forever but if you’re lucky like me, you’ve held on to a good few seeds that were planted during a specific season of your life.

For me, that time was during college. As an 18 year old, I’d grappled with the idea of leaving home. Living on my own, away from my friends and even more importantly, my family. To many kids, this is a dream but for me..I’d leave behind a lot to be missed and was used to the comfort of my home, my mom’s cooking and cleanliness and my routine of being a working student. I didn’t want to give up my part-time job at the time and figured if I’d be doling out thousands on school, I might as well focus on..school. If any of you know me, you know that wouldn’t have happened had I gone away. (lol)

My original plan was to ship off to Manhattan College which wasn’t far from home and still gave me a taste of NYC, the place I adore. However, after my orientation at the campus I knew in my heart and felt it was best that I continued my studies at a school on Long Island. Although I wasn’t 100% thrilled with my decision, I knew I’d be better for it in the long run.

The cons of my decision began to overwhelm me. I knew that going to St. Joseph’s, which is a private college, was going to be vastly different from going to any away school. As a commuter school, it’s even that much harder to make friends, to get involved and dare I say it, to have fun. I knew that anything I gained from this place was entirely going to be from what I put into it. I began to fear that I wouldn’t have that college experience or meet those friends that would last forever like I’d seen so many people model before me.

Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

I made my college experience what it was by getting involved in as much as I could and even rushing a sorority (which was so against my nature). I figured that if I was going to finish out my four years at a commuter school, I was going to delve into as much as I could and take advantage of the opportunities presented to me.

Had I not put myself out there, gone to any of those rush events or completed a long process that at times made me question my sanity, I wouldn’t be standing here 6 years later with 3 of my absolute best friends. Although I didn’t quite know it at 19, I gained 3 sisters that I’d carry with me into adulthood and experience some of the funniest and worst of times with.

It wasn’t always just us..we’re just the ones that seemed to click and have stuck together through this journey, despite its trials.

In today’s day and age, it’s extremely difficult to find likeminded people..women especially, who were raised similarly and who hold similar values and beliefs that you do. Don’t get me wrong, we all don’t agree on everything and have had our share of sibling-like arguments..but we have a common understanding of what life means to us and where we want it to take us. We hold respect high and loyalty higher. Each of my friends is hard-working and have the biggest hearts. Also…they support me and all my crazy endeavors and it doesn’t get much better than that! It’s as if God made us all stay home for college to realize we were bound to find each other. I have traveled near and far with my 3 best friends and am now a bridesmaid twice over for 2 of them and know that the favor will be kindly returned when my time comes.

They’re not just friends I grab drinks with and post cool Instagram photos of..they’re the sisters I never had. The girls I wear no makeup in front of and dance in the kitchen with. The ones I belt Cher with and can successfully harmonize with to every 90’s pop song…(we’re really good might I add, I’m not kidding!) and the ones that have seen me cry when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life..only to make me laugh in the midst of it all. I know their stories, fears and dreams just as they know mine.

*Random fun-fact: all three of us are 1 of 3 siblings..Genna and Alexa are the oldest, Rachel and I are the middle children!* (a little weird)

Alexa, Rachel, Genna…this one’s for you. I hope you don’t mind the pics I chose or the fact that these may sound like bad dating bios…but everyone should know how blessed I am by you 3!

Rachel

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My first interaction with Rachel was actually during an interview process we had for the sorority…I came out of mine shaking with nerves and almost near tears for no reason at all and Rachel calmly sat there waiting for her turn but consoled me like she’d known me forever! We look back now and laugh. I’ve never met someone who shares my love for music and singing as much as this girl does. From the very beginning, we gushed over our similar music taste and she’s the only person that knows every lyric as well as I do! We can turn anything and everything into a song and we’ll start harmonizing at the most inappropriate times. Rachel’s outer beauty matches her inner..she has the kindest, most sensitive heart but if you disrespect her (or any of her friends/family for that matter), I suggest you find the nearest exit. You don’t want to watch her in action. Rachel has always been a support to me and we’ve had some of the deepest conversations early on in our friendship, simply because we connected in that way. In her down time, Rachel can be found decorating her new house (major Chip and Joanna vibes) and she’s getting married to the love of her life in August (I was there when they met!)…we all have the pleasure of standing beside her on her special day. Lover of all things purple, her two fur babies and  Winnie the Pooh, she’s going to make the best teacher come September! (fun-fact part 2…all 3 of my best friends are teachers, I took the business route!)

Genna

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Truth be told, this girl wanted no part of me when she first saw me. In fact, if you ask her she’ll say she didn’t like me. I specifically remember wanting to talk to her but the facial expression she made towards me made me rethink that decision pretty quickly. My friendship with Genna quickly took off as soon as we had our first conversation and she realized I wasn’t who she thought I was…since that day, I’m pretty sure we’ve spent every day together for the last 6 years! From Boston to Canada, Nashville to the Carolinas and pretty soon Italy, we’ve picked up and flown the coop more times than we can count. Made memories that I will take with me for the rest of my life. She’s the sweet to my spicy and the quiet and calm to my loud, neurotic self. Genna is my built in boyfriend and everyone who knows us knows we come as a package..often I’m asked “Where’s Genna?” “Is Genna coming?” Like I mentioned before with Rachel, there was also that immediate connection with Genna as well. We were raised very similarly, have the same viewpoints on many things and find humor in absolutely everything. We’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst and Genna has never failed to be my shoulder to cry on or the person cheering me on behind the scenes. This is someone who hustled throughout college; student teaching, volunteering and working a million hysterical side jobs to make extra cash and has finally landed her dream job of becoming a teacher in the Fall! Genn, you inspire me more than you know!

Alexa

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Alexa and I first bonded over something we hold very true in our friendship…dancing. lol! At the start of our sorority journey, we had to participate in a talent show and low and behold, I was placed right next to Alexa in line. Lex was a dancer in high school and I was a cheerleader so that in itself created an immediate connection between us, especially transitioning to college having to leave behind our beloved pastimes. We spent those next few months rehearsing and laughing non stop (her laugh makes me laugh)…some of our funniest memories and inside jokes come from those practices. I realized the kind of person Alexa was right away…the sweetest you could ever meet! She brings a sense of calm to any room she walks into and I know she’ll use it to her advantage when she has a classroom of her own pretty soon. It’s very rare to catch this girl in a bad mood but if on the off chance you do, it’s nothing a little matcha tea can’t fix. Alexa and I will dance absolutely everywhere we go. The raunchiest of rap songs will elicit a pirouette and ballet ensemble on the dance floor. Sometimes we draw onlookers. Sometimes we receive the stink eye from strangers.  If I’m thinking something, all I have to do is flash her a look and she’ll understand what’s on my mind in a minute’s time. I’m beyond excited to have the pleasure of being a bridesmaid in Alexa’s big fat Greek/Italian wedding next year..she’s marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Connecticut this summer! I’m going to miss her but I know nothing between us will change and she’ll still offer that calm, collected response to any problem I tell her about.

Each of these girls has had a positive impact on my life and who I strive to be..simply by being who they are. They are ferociously hard workers, good friends and even better daughters and sisters.

It’s true that the company you keep is essentially what and who you become. Make this decision wisely and purposefully.

I thank my lucky stars every day that God lead me to them, despite what I had originally planned for myself..he blessed me more than I could imagine. I know that each of them will continue to prosper in their own lives, while still being a part of mine.

Lex, Rach, Genn…cheers to many more milestones and memories made. To backyard BBQ’s and our kids being fuzzin’s! I wish everyone could experience what we have!

Go out and appreciate the good friends turned family that God brought you…and if you’re still waiting, some great ones are on the horizon for you. I just know it.

Do you have your own Alexa, Rachel or Genna? I want to hear all about them!

With love,

Amanda