On Trend Summer Swim Pieces

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It is officially August! I don’t know whether to sigh in relief (that I’m off another month) or to weep tears of sadness! July was busy month that was finally the perfect balance of productive, relaxed, and family filled. I can’t believe summer is halfway over for me. I always feel so grateful to have these two months to reset, recharge, and refocus on some other passions before the school year kicks off in September.

I’ve been eyeing some of my favorite swim wear this summer noticing some great pieces I love to mix and match and others that I’ve been waiting to go on sale as it gets closer to the end of the swimwear season. Keep an eye on this as many pieces that are traditional never go out of style and I always find my favorites come toward the end of the season and I get excited to wear as new the following.

I’m not putting away my swimwear quite yet! I’m actually planning on spending most of August on the water with an upcoming trip my husband and me have planned for our anniversary. I remember organizing it a while back thinking I had so much time to get everything set and counting down. But now this vacation is just right around the corner. I plan on spending most of this adventure in swim wear or casual pieces because it will be high temperatures for where we’re headed. Any guesses??

I’ll be putting together another post early next week of what I’ll be packing to bring along and there will be some major clues. Last month, for the 4th of July weekend we made our first trip to Cape Cod and stayed at the most quaint inn, The Escape Inn before we met up with friends who are Cape natives. More to come on that trip in another post for my travel section. It was a favorite short trip and I’ve been editing photos and wishing I could have a house there!

The swimsuit I’m wearing is a steal at the price point from Amazon, a less costly version compared to the scalloped one by a higher end designer. I had seen some other bloggers trying it so thought I’d see what the hype was about.


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Swim Details

Swimsuit/Amazon // Tote/Amazon // Headband/Anthropologie // Sunglasses/Gucci // Sandals/Steve Madden

I thought it my be helpful to leave a review here on this swimsuit because there’s some others I’ve tried from Amazon and loved and some I’ve passed on due to sizing, quality, or fit. I actually wasn’t a fan of the high waist bottoms in this style given my longer torso, depending on the cut this isn’t always a style I feel flattered in. I actually ended up switching out the bottoms for a different pair once we hit the beach. Overall, the quality is good, it is fully lined and the top is lined with light removable cups too. I just felt that for a set the bottom scallop area could’ve been more seamless in construction. But for under $30 it was a budget find that’s on trend.

There’s a few other brands and retailers featuring some swim pieces on sale that I’d had my eye on for our upcoming trip. Linking a bunch of my sale finds then favorite beach ware pieces in the widgets here so be sure to check them out.


The One Piece Swimsuit

The one piece I’ve noticed has definitely made a come back the past few years and there’s so many versatile styles that are made to fit so many different shapes and sizes. I’ve been loving the throw back to the belted swimsuits this season and anything with texture I can get on board with.



The Two Piece

This season I have been loving the one shoulder silhouette and the ruffled feminine pieces. I’ve been spotting a ton of floral combinations and pieces that can be styled with straps or strapless.

I’m looking forward to putting together some coverups next to coordinate with the swimsuits that are lightweight or could double as a blanket for the plane or a dress for lunch. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys what is left of summer!

The Reach of Art Therapy

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As some of you may or may not know, I feature mostly lifestyle themes within my blog. But what good is a platform you build if you don’t share the value it may have for a greater purpose? What is my why?

When I’m not blogging about fashion, beauty, and travel I commit my time to a career that I continue to become more passionate about through new learning experiences and connecting with those who have been impacted in some way through art and it’s ability to provide healing. As a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and Certified Art Teacher I’ve committed myself to the education, growth, healing, and support of others. To understand where this blog post will take you I have to give some background so you have a better picture of me and the work I’m committed to with youth and families.

What is art therapy?

Art therapy utilizes creative techniques such as drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, and more to help people express themselves and examine the psychological and emotional significance within their artwork. This in turn can create an increased self awareness and support people with challenges, allowing greater insight into their behaviors and emotions. With the support and guidance, a credentialed art therapist trained to examine the symbols and non verbal messages within the artwork can support clients with reaching an understanding of feelings to resolve deeper conflicts.

During undergrad I studied art education and growing up the arts were always my language for expressing myself and working through difficulty moments much more than I could with the spoken word. In my small town I grew up dancing in performing arts and continued to purse my love for visual art through painting, drawing, and fiber arts. I minored in art therapy and though I knew I always wanted to work with children, there was more I wanted to do to support learners beyond education that I couldn’t always reach in the classroom setting. In 2012 I moved to NYC to attend NYU’s Graduate Program in Art Therapy. During grad school I participated in a global internship in Accra, Ghana. Here I volunteered at Basics International serving at risk and underserved youth in Chorkor. Basics International serves to provide education and protect the basic rights of children for education, food, shelter, and safety. I witnessed first hand the power of an education can be the key to freedom in many ways. Without access to education, girls in particular within this culture would mother their own children as children themselves early as the age of 14.

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Our group of grad students set out to provide children at this setting access to creating self expression using art materials to support their overall sense of self. Providing the students within the school setting access to the creative process through art making and sharing I learned a great deal about a culture different from my own. Providing students the opportunity to create however they chose with materials provided they began to visually share their world, filled with challenges, sadness, fear, and hope. I watched first hand how powerful art making could be for the creator and provided an outlet of release to communicate thoughts and feelings. Each day I was amazed at how the art became our means for communicating with each other when the spoken word failed us, and how in time these young minds became confident at expressing themselves. Most of all I saw how much love they craved and how resilient they were, many walking long distances on their own just to attend school. I had arrived in Ghana with a determination to make some type of difference in these children’s lives to leave knowing what they had left with me was far more than I ever imagined. Upon returning to the states and graduating I’ve continued to pursue my work with youth as an art therapist in the NYC public schools.

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Fast forward 5 years later and I am sitting in the New York Times Building for a panel discussion on the topic of the fight to end human trafficking in honor of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This panel consisted of experts on the topics, art therapists, survivors, and entrepreneurs. My former art therapy supervisor spoke as part of the panel on her work with children following the events of 9/11 and the impact this work had on her own professional development. Also on the panel, this supervisor’s early client and now co-founder of Beauty for Freedom. This event detailed a discussion around the realities of human trafficking that takes place both in the United States and beyond, with shared stories of resilient survivors that now speak out about what can be done to spread awareness and end this terrifying global issue. The non for profit Beauty for Freedom provides trafficking survivors art therapy programming and serves to empower, strengthen, and increase the self-esteem of survivors, while spreading awareness to communities. I wanted to share what I took aware from the panel in an effort to bring to light the realities of a problem that is not often spoken about and to honor those survivors who have been courageous enough to share their stories and advocate to become part of the solution.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the force, coercion, or fraud to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Traffickers use threats, manipulation, or false promises of well paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims. It can happen at any age in any community, and can happen to any race and gender. Read more about it here.

The Facts

  • Human trafficking earns profits of approximately $150 billion a year for traffickers.

  • Researchers estimate that more than 80% of trafficking victims are female. Over 50% of victims are children.

  • There are more enslaved persons in the world today than ever before in history.

  • The trauma caused by trafficking is so great victims often will not or cannot identify themselves as victims or ask for help. (nationalhumantrafficking)

    What Organizations Can Help?

Beauty for Freedom Programming uses the creative process to empower survivors and victims of human trafficking to develop increased self worth and confidence. It is a non profit organization that raises revenue for survivors in the developing world.

National Human Trafficking Hotline

New York State Office of Children and Family Services

New Jersey Coalition of Human Trafficking

To read more about what you can do if you have suspicion that someone is a victim of trafficking read more here.

What Can I do to Support the Fight?

Beauty for Freedom is currently raising funds to send volunteers to Winneba, Ghana to provide art therapy programming in collaboration with the non profit Challenging Heights. If you are interested in supporting this effort you can purchase a book, Illuminate (Book Project Ghana) or make a donation to Beauty for Freedom’s Go Fund Me Here. They are currently raising funds for a three week programming in Winneba and art supplies for a school year’s worth for 500 students. I’ll be collecting art supplies to provide to Monica, co founder and would appreciate any donation you could make to the programming in their go fund me.

When asked what can we do to help spread awareness a survivor responded, “Without education there is no prevention. “ Providing love and nurturance to children in a supportive environment provides the safety net necessary to lessen the likelihood for children and adolescents to become victims in human trafficking. Those who become victims are often exposed to difficult life circumstances or previous traumatic events such as natural disasters and violence.

Use your instincts, if you think someone you see is or could be a victim contact authorities such as security in airports and call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888.

Refreshing Summer Cocktail & Salad Recipe

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This summer has been quite the heatwave throughout NYC! As much as I love outdoor summer dining in the city and rooftop cocktail bars there’s a fresh summer cocktail I’ve been mixing up on these hot sweaty days! There’s a number of favorite spots I have throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn for the perfect refreshing cocktail that’s Instagram worthy, but there’s nothing quite like enjoying a fresh drink and great view from the comfort of your own home!

Since we moved into Brooklyn late last summer we couldn’t wait to have friends over and fire up the grill. This is by far one of the advantages we found from making the move from Manhattan. There’s more space and we can enjoy the roof decks without the overcrowding and a hefty bar tab. When we had lived in Buffalo we always were grilling and having summer gatherings especially in the short summer months. This was something on the top of our list in our new location and I’m so glad we made the decision because I’ve been taking full advantage of our amenities.

I stocked up our bar cart for summer with some refreshing gin, infused vodka, and rosé all the way. If you haven’t tried Malfy Gin it is a must! It’s made from the Amalfi coast region of Italy and it’s super refreshing. The Limone version is made from fresh Amalfi lemons and reminds me of limoncello! We just picked up the grapefruit bottle. Ladies, this color of bottle was made for displaying on a bar cart!

I’ve been grabbing fresh mint, basil, and fruits from the local farmer’s market to garnish our drinks and salads. My favorite thus far has been a Watermelon Mint Cocktail and my Watermelon and Mint Raspberry Balsamic Salad. I’m sharing all of the ingredients and the recipes below so you can try these simple options. They’re easy to pull together last minute and leave a lasting impression for summer hosting! If you any of them out remember to tag me in your insta so I can share it along in my stories!


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Refreshing Watermelon Mint Summer Cocktail

Ingredients:

-Smirnoff Watermelon Mint Vodka (zero sugar!)

-Fresh seedless watermelon chopped into chunks

-Handful of fresh mint leaves

-simple syrup

-Watermelon sparkling beverage (trader Joe’s) / Simply watermelon Juice/ Watermelon Seltzer

(whichever mixer beverage you prefer bubbly or flat)

-Ice

-Cocktail Shaker/muddling tool

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Directions:

  1. Muddle the mint together with the simple syrup in the cocktail shaker.

2. Add a handful of ice and top with desired amount of Smirnoff Watermelon Mint Vodka.

3. Shake the cocktail together then pour into desired glass and top with your choice of mixer (sparkling watermelon juice ) and add extra ice.

4. To finish, garnish your cocktail with fresh mint and watermelon.

5. Sip, repeat, enjoy!


Watermelon & Mint Raspberry Balsamic Salad


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This is easiest one of my most favorite salads for summer and it’s simple to toss together with the watermelon I already needed anyway for the watermelon mint cocktail! There’s definitely a few different versions out there of this tasty first course but I love the touch of the Raspberry White Balsamic for a light dressing that adds the perfect amount of bitter, yet sweet flavor.


Ingredients:

  1. Half of a watermelon cut into cubes/chunks.

  2. Cup of fresh fragrant mint leaves finely cut.

  3. 1/2 cup of low fat feta cheese chunks.

  4. 3/4 cup freshly washed organic blueberries.

  5. Raspberry balsamic. I love D’Avolio brand.


    Directions:

    1. Cut the watermelon into smaller chunks and place into large bowl/serving dish.

    2. Add 3/4 cup. of blueberries to watermelon.

    3. Sprinkle in mint leaves.

    4. Add 1/2 cup of feta cheese chunks.

    5. Drizzle Raspberry Balsamic on top!

      Serve immediately and enjoy!

      I would love to hear if you try any of these recipes or if you have any other summer favorite recipes you’d love to share with me!