WFH Tips During Quarantine

WFH Tips During Quarantine

I am lucky enough that during this time of social distancing and possible lockdown that I have experience in the art of working from home. And trust me, it’s an art. Here’s the back story since everyone might not know, but I don’t blog or “influence” full time (ugh hate the word influence). I have a full-time job as a Customer Success Executive at a technology agency called 4th Down Solutions. We create digital solutions for sales teams to learn and train remotely and efficiently so the business is actually booming right now. Message me if you have a need for it – we will probably have a solution. Anyway, enough of my sales pitch!

I have been working from home for this company for two and a half years, but before that, I worked for a large pharmaceutical company and that was a work in the office everyday sort of culture. So I have gone from one extreme to the other and I know it can be difficult.

When I first started working from home two years ago I loathed it. I missed the camaraderie of an office, structure, and taking breaks, but it’s still possible to do all those things from home so below are my tips on becoming a WFH expert like me!

Set up a dedicated workspace. 

This is probably the most important advice I can give. When I first started working from home I would set up my desk at my kitchen counter and leave it there morning, noon, and night which isn’t a very good work-at-home practice. Setting up an area that is JUST for working is essential. If you don’t have enough space to leave things out and put them AWAY aka close a door on your office space then you should put the work away physically each night. Don’t keep your notebooks, devices, and laptop open after you are done working. This practice will make you work LONGER and unnecessarily and when I did this I saw my mental health just go bonkers. So make sure you do this if NOTHING else!

Start your workday and end your workday at certain times. 

This goes along with what I was saying above. Keeping hours of when you’re working is very important. I always sit down at my computer between 8:30am and 9:00am and then shut my computer by at least 6pm unless I have a late meeting or something that absolutely cannot wait until the next day. It’s easy to start working earlier and earlier and later and later and you want to avoid this. Start and end your day the way you already normally do. My one coworker even sets a timer at the end of the day to remind her to stop because sometimes you can lose track of time and already it’s 7pm. Trust me, this will help your sanity.

Take breaks. 

You do this when you’re in an office even if you don’t know you do. You talk with coworkers, walk around the office, go get coffee, shop online, etc. Make sure to take those breaks even though you are working from home. A lot of people start to feel guilty when they are home and not continuously doing something, but trust me if you were at the office you would probably be less productive. I know, it sounds not true but it really, really is. Sometimes I take breaks to walk to the grocery store, listen to a podcast, shop online, make a playlist or have a snack. It can really be anything but do it.

Keep your cell phone in a different part of your home while working. 

This one has been key for me lately especially because I also have the Sassy side business. I am constantly getting DMs, notifications and other things that distract me from my full 9-5 job, so I keep my phone stored in my bedroom where I can take breaks to look at it but it can’t be with me in my office space. This is really helpful during conference calls where it is easy to get distracted by your phone and not focus. Don’t be that person who has to ask, “can you repeat that?”. I have been that girl, it sucks.

Make your bed in the morning. 

A lot of people will recommend that you get dressed for work. This has never appealed to me and I did try it for a week or two and gave up after a while. I usually roll right from the bed into my “office” and it hasn’t affected my productivity. However, not having my bed made always made me feel gross. So pick your poison but do something that makes you feel ready for the day. Wash your face, put on makeup, make your bed, put on real clothes instead of PJs or work out clothes – just do something that you know will make you feel like you’re more YOU in the morning.

Music vs. TV 

More me having the TV on is distracting. Sometimes if I’m doing things that don’t require a lot of brainpower like updating Excel sheets with user data or tasking people online then I will move my office to the couch to be able to have the TV on the in the background but more often than not I end up muting it or pausing it because it’s too much of a distraction. I MUCH prefer putting on music to keep me positive and upbeat throughout the day, but that’s also what helped me study in school so whatever helped you be productive while studying will most likely help you when WFH. Some people like to listen to podcasts, classical music, the radio, or just have silence. Again, do what you would do at work.

Set up times to just connect with coworkers. 

1000% this is what I miss most about not being in a physical office space – the people. I am very much an extrovert and a people person and my job does require me to be on the phone a lot which sort of helps with this whole no physical contact thing, but sometimes you just want to talk shop or complain about your clients or just talk about your life outside the office and yea not having a coworker just sitting next to you is hard. My coworker Emily and I used to make it a point to message each other when we needed to complain or bitch about something and get it off our chests and it has made us so much closer because of it. So if you have someone that you are really close to at the office – see if they will Face Time or Skype with you during the day – this practice always, always made me feel better and made transitioning from an office to a WFH situation so much easier.

Babymoons Aren’t Just for Couples

Babymoons Aren’t Just for Couples

A few years ago my friends and I came up with the concept of a friend babymoon. See, a babymoon is typically when you take a trip somewhere with your husband before your baby comes, but what about seeing your BFFs before that happens? Once you have the baby you have less time to see friends and do things like get pampered and eat at fun restaurants, so why not do something before that (temporarily) gets put to the wayside?

Enter: the friend babymoon!

I’ve thrown a few of these over the years, some lavish and others not, and I think for my friend Meggie’s babymoon we found the actual perfect recipe so here is how to throw your friend the most awesome babymoon in Chicago ever.

1. Don’t tell her it is happening. 

This has been the major key for all my best babymoon plans. The best way to surprise her entirely is to have her husband or partner in on the plan. Ask them for a few free dates and then set it up behind her back and have her husband bring her there for a completely different reason and surprise her entirely! Another way is just to ask her for a few dates and then tell her you have a surprise planned for her and to be ready at a certain time, pick her up, and bring her yourself. You know what your friends prefer so do what works for them aka some people do not like surprises and need some warning 🙂

2. Book the Kohler Waters Spa at Lincoln Park for you and all your friends.

This was my first time going to Kohler Spa in Lincoln Park for a massage treatment and WOW I cannot recommend this place more, but before I get into my amazing massage let me tell you the amazing deal they have. On Thursdays and Fridays after 5pm, Kohler Waters Spa at Lincoln Park offers The Happier Happy Hour. If you have a group of five or more guests you get 20% off your services when you book together*! This spa is meant to be enjoyed as a big group of friends and that is exactly what a Friend Babymoon is all about! Their water treatment room is great for catching up with friends over their really tasty snacks (all recipes from the original Kohler Spa in Wisconsin!), amazing water therapy pool, and the saunas and steam rooms. Add cold towels and you literally have the recipe for the most relaxing girl’s night.

While my friend Meggie got the prenatal massage, I got the Uniquely Yours massage. They use all sorts of techniques to massage your body based solely on what you tell them to focus on. I had just done a really intense squatting workout so I asked her to work on my thighs and she did some stretching techniques that were just sensational. I left feeling relaxed, soothed, and also stretched out so I could work out again later (yep, past Alex scheduled ANOTHER workout after this – so silly that past Alex). I really like light touch and really intense smells bother me, so I told my massage therapist all of this before we got started and she tailored the massage exactly to what I like. This is unique because most spas have set massages you are buying and sure you can ask for a deeper massage or a lighter touch but they aren’t going to tailor the massage around stretching just because you asked for it!

After your massage, they take you to the relaxation room and Meggie legit looked into ordering one of the chairs in the room to her house since it was so comfortable for her! It is very easy to fall asleep in this calm and peaceful room and we almost did, but we had places to be so we made for the locker room where the Kohler rain showers are. I would pay to just come to stand in that shower y’all!

*All group members must receive a 50-minute ore more treatment. Advanced booking is required – at least four weeks is suggested.

3. Set up dinner afterward at a nearby restaurant. No makeup needed.

The best part about a babymoon is that no one cares what anyone else looks like so post spa go completely makeup-free, put on your finest sweats, and book a big table at nearby Summer House or a equally fun atmosphere restaurant if you are booking a different spa. Preorder ALL the cookies – trust me the pregnant woman will want them! And have some rose, you deserve it for planning this perfect evening.

4. Give her one last surprise.

Some people like to give the massage as a gift (great idea!), but if she or her husband offer to pay another nice add on is one last surprise – a nice robe! I have asked many, many of my mama friends what they would want before their first baby that they didn’t know they needed and a LOT of people say comfortable PJs or a nice robe that you can breastfeed in! We got our friend one from Monica + Andy for her babymoon gift. Very comfortable and monogram-able which was very up her alley.

Fun fact: My friend and I went for her prenatal massage treat last week and this weekend she had the baby! So, safe to say this massage did all the wonders in the world for her to get that baby moving!

January ’20 Outfit Round-Up

January ’20 Outfit Round-Up

Shopping via links is hard so here is an easy way to do it by shopping one blog post of all my featured outfits of January. So in no particular order, here we go!

For reference, I am usually a size 16/18 in dresses, 20 in pants, and almost exclusively a 1X in anything Anthropologie.

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{Coat: Old Navy black puffer jacket Beanie: Macy’s knit cuff beanie, shoes: Target wedge platform shoes}

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{dress: ASOS tiered mini dress, barrettes: Squared Tortoise hair clip set, booties: Vince Camuto perforated booties}

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{jeans: Old Navy Rockstar distressed jeans, top: Jessica London keyhole swing tunic, booties: Vince Camuto perforated booties}

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{pajama set: Dreams & Co. 2-piece classic pajama set}

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{top: Jessica London Georgette hi-low tunic, booties: ComfortView Sidney booties, leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings}

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{dress: Chic Soul You Go Girl dress, headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband}

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{gym set: Fabletics}

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{headband: Chic Soul Candy Shop headband, top: Chic Soul Lost the Battle top, Leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings, booties: Vince Camuto perforated booties}

December ’19 Outfit Round-Up

December ’19 Outfit Round-Up

Shopping via links is hard so here is an easy way to do it by shopping one blog post of all my featured outfits of December! So in no particular order, here we go!

For reference, I am usually a size 16/18 in dresses, 20 in pants, and almost exclusively a 1X in anything Anthropologie.

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{Jumpsuit: Eshakti geometric jumpsuit, headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband}

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{Jacket: Eloquii moto leather jacket, Top: Jessica London red sequin shell, Jeans: Lane Bryant Tighter Tummy Hi-Rise Skinny Jean in Velvet Dark}

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{Dress: CoEdition Fit & Flare Dress}

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{Top: Shop Chic Soul Plaid top, Leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings, shoes: Target platform wedges}

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{Work out top & leggings: Fabletics, gym shoes: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus sneakers}

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{Overall dress: Black denim overall dress, Top: Polka dot blouse, shoes: Target wedge platform shoes}

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{Top: Jessica London Tie-Front Tunic, leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings, boots: Comfortview Wide Calf black boots}

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{Coat: Old Navy black puffer jacket}

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{Jacket: Chic Soul pullover, Leggings: Universal Standard leggings, sneakers: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus sneakers}

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{Top & Leggings: Fabletics, Sneakers: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus sneakers Bra: Plus Size Compression Nike Sports Bra}

*this sports bra is easily one of the best I have ever had as a plus-size woman

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{Dress: Jessica London beaded jacket dress, Shoes: Comfortview Katiya pumps}

Things To Do in Chicago in the Winter

Things To Do in Chicago in the Winter

Chicago winters are brutal, so here are some activities that keep you warm indoors but also let you have an enjoyable season because we can only binge-watch so many shows during the months of January – April, amirite?

TopGolf Swing Suite 

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Don’t dismiss the TopGolf Swing Suite just because you just aren’t that into sports. This luxury simulation sports bar is literally for everyone. There is a multitude of games that aren’t golf-related that you can play on the simulator like zombie dodgeball, soccer, baseball, and even carnival games. I took my dad’s family for our annual holiday party last week and it was a huge hit with kids and adults. Another reason I love this place are the food and drinks. I’ve been to TopGolf out in the suburbs and the food is good don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t Aster Hall level delicious. Aster Hall is a food hall in the 900 Shops on Michigan and they have actual Small Cheval burgers! The elote and the pizza are also delicious and it can all be catered for your private party at the Swing Suite. It’s also a casual bar so you can just pop in for a drink before or after shopping!

Time Out Market 

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A personal favorite pastime of mine is just eating and drinking. In the summer it’s easy to bop around to different places to eat and drink, but in the winter it’s too cold to go even one block which is why my favorite new place is Time Out Market Chicago. Any food hall might do in a pinch, but this place stands out because of the amount of seating and the abundance of options there are. You could come for lunch, drink, stay for dinner, and then have dessert. Come with LOTS of friends so you can try one of everything, but my favorites are the dumplings by Urbanbelly and the brussel sprouts by Band of Boehmia.

Block 37 + Hot Tix 

I love going to the theater, but it can get expensive so hitting up a Hot Tix booth is something my family and I do pretty frequently when we are visiting other cities. Luckily, Chicago has one right on the first floor of Block 37 on State Street and this holiday season my dad and I used the booth to get tickets to a show at the Goodman Theatre which is right across the street! They have tickets to all sorts of shows though including things on the north side of the city so it’s worth checking out for deeply discounted tickets!

Igloo/Winter Cabana Rentals 

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I did one of these for my birthday a few years back, but heated plastic igloos have become the hottest thing of winter 2020. You can find them at the following places and you’ll have to contact them for pricing but we paid $200 + a minimum spend threshold based on how many people were in the igloo for two hours when I did it at iO Rooftop at the Godfrey: Barcocina, City Winery on the RiverWalk, iO Rooftop at the Godfrey, and Hotel Zachary.

A Sassy Guide to Delafield, WI

A Sassy Guide to Delafield, WI

If you’ve ever wanted to live in a Hallmark film, well I have the perfect town for you to visit. Delafield, Wisconsin is located in the Lake Country of Wisconsin (which they won’t let you forget – there are lots of items you can buy that proclaim you are a Real Housewife of Lake Country!) and only a two and a half-hour drive from downtown Chicago. It’s almost equally between Milwaukee and Madison give or take 10 minutes so it’s a great getaway for most cities in Wisconsin too!

My friends and I love doing little weekends away with each other so we decided to explore Lake Country and the small town of Delafield for a short autumn weekend in November. We left on Friday night and got to the hotel a little after 10pm since we stopped for dinner outside of Milwaukee.

So remember when I said this town is basically a Hallmark film set? Well, that’s true. It’s super quaint, cute, homey and all decorated for the season. However, that’s where the comparisons end. Most Hallmark-Esque towns might not be very modern. I, for one, automatically think of old-timey bed and breakfasts, outdated diners, and antiquated buildings, but Delafield is modern and has a lot of updated amenities. One of those being the hotel we stayed at The Delafield Hotel.

The Delafield Hotel is a luxury hotel with a great blend of cozy and modern features. The lobby has a masculine lodge feel, but still feels bright and welcoming. The rooms are roomy, cozy, but still have modern touches like Kohler rain showers (I DIE!) and fun artwork. The hotel also houses its own restaurant – I.d.– and is next door to a massive fitness center, be Fitness, that the hotel guests are allowed to use during their stay. We were actually blown away by the hospitality here (everyone is SO nice) as well as the space being so fresh and modern. This hotel could easily be in the heart of Chicago.

On our first night, we opted to stay in and just watch TV (lots of channels btw including On Demand!) and woke up early the next day to go to brunch at Belfre Kitchen. They call themselves a neighborhood gathering spot and we’d have to agree – we went back twice for brunch and then some appetizers before dinner and were impressed with both. Their space is airy, modern, and built-in a former church. It has a very cool vibe and the menu is very unique. For instance, we each got one of their mimosa flights which came with different juices and the choices were things like rhubarb, prickly pear, and pomegranate in addition to typical juices like orange and peach.

After brunch, we did some shopping around town. Our favorite store being Element Style. It had all the cute, cozy items you need for the season. Each of us bought something here like gloves and sweaters. Some other places we’d recommend to stop in: Next Door, Bliss Boutique and the cute antique store next to Angelina’s restaurant.

That evening, we went to I.d. for dinner and again were blown away. The caliber of food they had was high and reminded me of some of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Milwaukee and Chicago. Our favorite dishes were Nashville Hot Chicken Wedge, Beet Gnocchi in a sheep cheese fondue, and the Chorizo Verde Meatballs. I can’t say that anything was not good though! You could literally order anything on this menu and be impressed – like you can’t go wrong with amazing truffle fries!

If you’re looking for nightlife, this town isn’t really it. Sorry, Delafield! But I think they know that. Our hotel had an amazing bar that had live music and we could have easily stayed there for more drinks, but we decided to go to the other bar in town Revere’s for a more relaxed vibe. They have a game room in the basement too with darts, pool, and Golden Tee. They also have Photo Hunt (nude version only please – if you know what I mean please leave a comment below!). We stayed way too long. Most people had already left, but that’s our MO. Like I said before, everyone in this town is beyond nice and we made friends with the bartenders and were having a grand ole time. Pro Tip: this town is like New Orleans so you can drink on the street. We are large fan of roadies so this was one of our fave things about Delafield!

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The next morning, we woke up and hung out in our insanely comfortable beds while recapping our evening and then drove home but not before we stopped to get some Spotted Cow to take home with us. If you know, then you know.

November ’19 Outfit Round-Up

November ’19 Outfit Round-Up

Shopping via links is hard. Trust me, I am also a human who likes to buy from people she is influenced by on the Internet. So in attempts to make it easier to shop my outfits, I am instituting a new monthly blog post where I do a round-up of all my outfits from the month so you can easily shop them from your browser. So in no particular order, here we go!

For reference, I am usually a size 16/18 in dresses, 20 in pants, and almost exclusively a 1X in anything Anthropologie.

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what is art?

{ jacket: Jessica London faux fur jacket, booties: Comfortview Henley booties, dress: old Forever 21, but linking a similar dress from Torrid}

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i want a hot dog real bad

{top: Anthropologie Mallory ruffled blouse, headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband, black jeggings: Sanctuary classic leggings, shoes: Target platform wedges}

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comfy cozies

{top: Chic Soul slouchy tunic, leggings: Universal Standard core leggings, slippers: Lands’ End shearling slippers}

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eshakti

{headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband, dress: Eshakti ruffle floral cotton dress, shoes: Target booties}

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fabletics

{entire work out outfit: Fabletics}

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glam casual

{hat: red beanie,  jacket: Jessica London 3-in-1 puffer, top: Jessica London metallic shirt, black jeggings: Sanctuary classic leggings, booties: Comfortview Henley booties}

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holiday look

{barrettes: Quarters & Caviar pearl & geometric barrettes, sweater: Jessica London faux fur-trim sweater, boots: Ivana Wide-Calf Boot by Comfortview}

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my winter in FL look

{headband: Ann Taylor velvet knotted headband, dress: Anthropologie ruffled tunic dress by Rossi}

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car not included

{top: confetti chenille sweater, skirt: GibsonLook pink pleated skirt, shoes: velvet flats – these are old and from the Gap, but I found some cute ones from DSW that are similar}

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swingin’ into the holidays

{headband: Anthropologie Lauren knotted headband, jumpsuit: Eshakti stripe matte jumpsuit}

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bye fall

{top: Amazon Relipop loose sweater, pants: Old Navy pixie pants in leopard, shoes: Target platform wedges}