Wellness Needs for Every Woman

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There’s much talk about wellness these days, and I am here for it. As women, we too often put our own well-being on the back burner while taking care of everyone else around us. When we do, we feel depleted. When we burn out helping others instead of ourselves, we put our overall health and well-being at risk. Ladies, it’s time to take charge of our wellness.

Healthy Eating

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Let’s talk about food. I love food, but I have learned that what I eat really matters. I’m not saying you have to be extreme when it comes to what you eat – I love a savory carb-filled meal and a sweet delicious sugary treat. However, I’ve learned that when I am not balancing my indulgences with healthy meals, it takes a toll on my body. I feel gross. Since I know this is true for myself, I take strides to eat healthier.

Proper Sleep

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When you are a working mom, it seems like you never have enough time. So, you wind up staying up late at night trying to get to the things you didn’t during the day. Or, we toss and turn all night worrying. According to Everyday Health, “81% of woman report having problems getting a good night’s sleep daily. When women get a bad night’s sleep, they are 4x more likely to feel irritated or angry.” If I want to smile, I need to sleep.

Regular Exercise

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I always feel better after I exercise. I know not every woman feels the same, but regular exercise is important. The American Heart Association recommends, “Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.”

Self-Care Management

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Another wellness area many women tend to neglect is self-care. Women often feel guilty for taking time to do something for themselves. If this sounds like you, stop it now! I am all about self-care – whether it is a spa day, yoga, or meditation – you need to take time to do something that improves your overall well-being from time to time.

Staying Up to Date with Annual Physicals

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Yes, life is busy. But it isn’t too busy for you to skip your annual physical exams (especially not for years at a time). No, they are not fun, but they are absolutely necessary. It is at annual physical exams and mammograms where doctors can identify possible issues. It’s always better to be proactive than find a problem too late.

Work/Life Balance

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Finally, achieving a solid work/life balance will do wonders for your overall well-being. According to Everyday Health, “Financial health is tied to our wellness.” Therefore, it is natural for women to work hard at their jobs. However, we should not allow work to be the only thing that defines us or determines our wellness. Instead, it is important to do things outside of work that bring you joy. By having a healthy and happy work/life balance, you will do better at your job and feel better about yourself.

Plan Ahead to Stay Ahead This School Year

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In New York, we still have a few weeks before school is back in session. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t already anticipating it. If you are like so many parents I know, the school year is busy and hectic, and you feel like you can’t stay on top of it all. I’ve been there!

What if I told you that by making a few simple changes to your school year routine, this school year could be so much easier? It’s true! In today’s blog, I’m sharing some tips that any mom can do that will make this year better than the last. The key – plan ahead to stay ahead.

Use a Family Calendar

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First, parents should take advantage of all the technology we have at our fingertips that are designed to make our lives easier, such as calendar and scheduling apps! Whether you use Google calendar or an app like Cozi, it is super easy to schedule all of your kid’s doctor’s appointments, after school activities, and important events.

Create a School Morning Routine

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If your mornings are out of control, then it is time to put some structure back into your mornings. Have a clear list of “morning must-do’s” for your kids, such as “brush your teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast,” and stick to it! Print it out and frame it, or use a morning routine app.

Choose Clothing in Advance

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You can really speed up your mornings if you have your kid’s (and your) clothing picked out in advance. I’ve seen some parents who use closet hangers to separate clothing by the day of the week. Find what works for you, but make sure the clothes are out before the school week begins.

Start Meal Planning

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I know the words “meal planning” freak some people out. Don’t overthink it! Meal planning can be as simple as “Monday: Pork tenderloin and veggies, Tuesday: Spaghetti, etc.” The point is to have a basic idea of what your plans are for dinner, so you don’t have to rush around at the last-minute scrambling for something to cook.

Let the Kids Help Pack Their Lunches

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Instead of doing everything by yourself, teach your kids to be a little more self-sufficient by letting them help pack their lunches. It’s easier than you imagine. Take the bottom shelf of your refrigerator and the bottom shelf of your pantry and designate these spaces for school lunch items.

Sign Things as Soon as They Appear

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This is very simple, but it can be life-changing. Instead of seeing a paper you need to sign for your kids and putting it aside, stop what you are doing and sign it and put it back in the bookbag right away. Trust me – you just saved yourself a ton of future headache.

Don’t Feel Guilty About Throwing Stuff Away

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Kids, especially preschool and elementary ages, bring home so much stuff. Endless amounts of art projects and coloring pages and worksheets. You cannot possibly hold on to everything – nor will your kids actually want all their work from kindergarten when they are grown.

So, let go of the guilt and toss everything except the really special things. Or, take pictures of all their artwork and upload the pics to one photobook at the end of the school year. One photobook is so much better than a bazillion pieces of construction paper.

Sign Kids Up for After School Activities

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Don’t wait until the last minute to sign your kids up for after school activities. If you do, the spots at the best place may already be filled. Instead, spend the last few weeks of summer doing your homework and get your kids signed up in advance.

Shop Well – Not Cheap

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It’s no secret that I love to shop. I love it so much that I recently became a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus – you can see all the fun I’m having with this new gig and all my favorite looks on my Insta @inrachelstyles. As I have grown older and wiser, I have learned the secret to shopping for shoes, purses, and clothing. Shop well- not cheap.

When you are young and living paycheck to paycheck, it is so easy to fall for fast-fashion and snap up everything for your closet from stores like Forever 21 and H&M. Now hear me out – you can find some good looks at stores that sell cheap clothing. But, the problem is these clothes do not last, and people can tell they are cheap.

Instead, it is much wiser to shop well rather than cheap. I’d much rather spend more money on clothing that is well-designed, well-made, and long-lasting.

Longer Lasting Clothing

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When you shop cheap, you are simply looking at the price tag when you should be factoring in the number of times the item will be worn. Fashion experts refer to this as the cost per wear equation. As Glamour explains, “The simplest version of that math is dividing the price on the label by how many times you think you'll wear the item.” Glamour also has a cost per wear calculator on their site for easy use.

What you will likely discover is that you end up spending less money in the long run on higher cost clothing this way. For example, the cheap shirt you purchased may only be able to be worn a few times before it shows wear and tear, whereas the high-quality coat you purchased is worn for several years.

Higher Quality Materials

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The reason the more expensive products typically last longer is that they are better made. Rather than being mass-produced at fast speeds (resulting in less than the best seams, embroidering, and such), these products are developed with better materials, such as natural fibers like silk and wool, in a less demanding amount of time.

Better Resale Value

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Women change out their closets pretty regularly as fashions change. Therefore, it is important to consider the resale value of your clothing when you purchase it originally. For example, you will likely get pennies (if anything) for that shirt you purchased at Forever 21, but you can earn a nice chunk when you resell high-end designer goods.

Less is More

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Finally, it is wise to embrace the notion that “less is more.” Wouldn’t you rather have a few, high-end, well-made, designer goods than a bunch of cheap items that fall apart easily before the next season? I know that matters to me. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of “more, more, more,” but if it gets in the way of looking good and feeling good, that’s a hard pass for me. Less is more, ladies, less is more.

10 Awesome August Events for Families in NYC

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August has arrived, which means summer will be over before we know it. So, we’d better do our best to enjoy every last minute we have! Thankfully, there is tons of fun things to do in NYC for families this month – everything from delicious food events to outdoor carnivals. You can even go ahead and visit the nearby apple orchards and stock up before fall.

Today, I am highlight 10 family-friendly NYC happenings in August, so get your calendar ready!

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Restaurant Week

As a foodie, you know I am super pumped for Restaurant Week 2019. Running from July 22—Aug 16th, Restaurant Week offers deals at over 370 restaurants with prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. TimeOut has a guide for places to take the kids during Restaurant Week.

Manhattan’s Summer Streets

Saturdays in August mean car-free days in Manhattan where families are encouraged to use other means of travel (i.e., bikes, scooters) for a 7-mile stretch. Along this route, there are rest stops with family-friendly activities.

Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari

If you haven’t taken the family to Dinosaur Safari at the Bronx Zoo, make plans to visit before this exhibit closes in early November. Your kids will love seeing the 40 animatronic dinosaurs and the fossil dig.

Sand Sculpting Contest

The 29th Annual Sand Sculpting Competition will take place on August 17th at the Coney Island Beach. These sand sculptures are incredible and totally worth the trip!

Fly NYC

For a more laidback family adventure, check out FlyNYC Kite Flying Festival on Saturday, August 17th at Riverside Park. If you don’t have a kite of your own, kite kits are provided until they run out.

Photo:  NYC-ARTS

Photo: NYC-ARTS

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

This weekend, head to Queens for the amazing Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. Your family will marvel at the custom-made boats and enjoy cultural favorites (i.e., music, demonstrations, food, and bubble tea).

Hercules in Central Park

The Disney version of Hercules is being performed in Central Park in the evenings from August 31st – September 4th. Not only will kids love this live theater experience, but parents will appreciate that it is FREE!

Smorgasburg

Back to food again, because, of course! Smorgasburg is held Saturdays and Sundays during August in Prospect Park. You can try a wide variety of dishes and treats.

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Richmond County Fair

Take the family to an old-fashion county fair (and Staten Island’s one and only) from August 31st to September 2nd. This is a wonderful way to send out summer.

Summer Outdoor Movies

Families have tons of options for free outdoor movies this summer in NYC. Check out this list of outdoor movies in NYC from the New York Times and make plans to get there early!

Photo: Whitney Browne of YYDC on  Battery Dance Festival

Photo: Whitney Browne of YYDC on Battery Dance Festival

Battery Dance Festival

Make plans to spend time at New York’s longest-running dance festival. The Battery Dance Festival will be held August 11th – 16th at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park.

Which NYC event are you most looking forward to enjoying with your family this month? Let me know in the comments!

My Favorite Sweet Spots in NYC

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I have a sweet tooth. There are few things that bring me as much joy as giving into a sugary temptation. And, according to doctors, I don’t have to feel guilty about it or give up sweets. According to WebMD, “Many nutritionists agree that when it comes to sweet treats, it’s not really what you eat, but how much and how often. ‘Small indulgences, even once a day, are fine,’ says Cindy Moore.”

So, I have chosen to follow the good doctor’s advice and plan to indulge my sweet tooth whenever I feel like it. I’m just not going to gorge myself on chocolate. I have a feeling this is something we can all handle. Am I right, ladies?

Fortunately, I live in NYC, which is essentially a sweets metropolitan as glamourous as Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. Everywhere you turn, you can find a bakery, a candy store, or an ice cream shop. If you live in NYC or plan to visit, these are some of my favorite places to indulge my sweet tooth without worrying about going overboard.

Levain Bakery

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If you are craving the world’s best cookie, then look no further than Levain Bakery. They made it their mission to create the world’s best chocolate chip cookie – and they succeeded! While their chocolate chip cookies are out of this world, we love all the cookies they offer. They currently have five locations throughout New York.

Spot Dessert Bar

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If you are looking for unique dessert dishes, then check out one of the three Spot Dessert Bar locations in NYC. They offer tapas desserts, including the super popular Green Tea Lava, as well as seasonal creations. Everything from the taste to the presentation is on point.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

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If you want an entire dessert experience, then head to Hershey’s Chocolate World because it has a little bit of everything. Guests can shop Hershey’s logo products, personalize candy bar wrappers and Hershey’s kisses, and visit the Hershey’s Kitchen Bakery. Your senses will be overwhelmed in the best way possible.

Taiyaki NYC

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If you want ice cream, try something new and head to Taiyaki NYC, which offers delicious matcha green tea and black sesame ice cream, among others. Known for their fish-shaped ice cream cones, they make the taiyaki waffles fresh on-site.

Plus, Other NYC Desserts I Am Dying to Try

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With incredible chefs and bakers, the NYC dessert scene is incredible! You could eat a new dessert in this city every day without repeating. It’s amazing. NYC is where some of the most famous desserts have gotten their start (I’m looking at you, cronut!). You can enjoy macaroons, cupcakes, and ice cream galore, as well as totally unique treats. For example, at Dominique Ansel Bakery, you can enjoy a cookie shot glass filled with milk. Shoot the milk and enjoy a milk-soaked cookie as a chaser. Yum!

What is your favorite place to indulge your sweet tooth in NYC? Let me know in the comments so I can check it out!

Help Your Kids to Avoid the Summer Slide

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Ah, summer break. We all need it. But did you know that kids tend to learn much of what they learn during the school year over summer break? According to Education Week, “The average student loses one to three months of learning over summer.” Obviously, we don’t want our kids to lose what they worked so hard to learn! Today, I’m sharing some great ways to help your kids avoid the summer slide.

Read and Read Some More

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First off, summer reading exists for a reason (and not just to torture kids and their parents). Book Source explains, “Students who read during the summer gain an average of 1 month of reading proficiency. Students who don’t read lose an average of 2-3 months proficiency and over time, those lost months add up to years.”

Ouch! So, even if our kids are not readers, we need to encourage them to read over the summer break. Here’s my best suggestion – let them read whatever they want to read (even if it is Minecraft guides).

Use Math in Everyday, Real-Life Situations

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Most kids will not be very happy if you give them a stack of math worksheets to work on over summer break. Would you? Instead, look for ways to use math in the real world, such as selling lemonade where kids have to add money or cooking together where kids have to measure and count.

Send Them to Summer Camp

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This summer my girls were lucky enough to head to summer camp. There are so many great summer school options, but I really like the ones that include education such as iD Tech Camp. These camps are way more fun educational experiences than a traditional classroom.

Meet with a Tutor

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If your child struggled this past school year, the summer is an excellent time to work with an academic tutor. For example, many students benefit greatly from working one on one with a reading tutor. Before you hire a tutor, check with your child’s school to see if they work with any tutoring companies to ensure you find tutors who are familiar with your school’s standards and academic program.

Set Screen Time Limits and Add Educational Apps to Their Devices

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Don’t hate me, but it’s probably a wise idea to set some summer screen time limits. Now listen – I am so not anti-screen! My girls love their shows! But, if I’m not careful, they can easily waste a whole day in front of a screen. This is why, during the summer, I work to enforce screen time limits.

With that being said, I say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Screens are here to stay, so understand that trying to prevent them from using them completely is a losing battle. Instead, stock their devices with fun educational games and apps.

Let Them Play

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Finally, just let the kids play! Imaginative play is so important for kids’ overall development. Encourage them to play with their toys, with their siblings, and by themselves.

How to Survive an NYC Heat Wave

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Last week in New York was brutal! A crazy heatwave hit, and it was sweltering. Those of us who call NYC home aren’t accustomed to temps this high – and apparently, the city as a whole isn’t either since 50,000 lost power!

Now before you think I am overreacting, you should know that this heatwave was deadly. This last heatwave has been blamed for at least 6 deaths. A heatwave of this magnitude should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, for many of us, we don’t know how to handle a heatwave because we don’t deal with them frequently.

So today I’m sharing tips on how to survive an NYC heatwave so we can all be better prepared next time.

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

When you hear that a heatwave can be deadly, this is because high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion. If you suspect you or someone else is suffering from heat stroke, you need to call 9-1-1 immediately.

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To distinguish between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, refer to the above illustration. The basic idea is if you start to feel unwell, it is best to get indoors and try to cool off.

Fill Up on H2O

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Next, if you know it is going to be hot, it is best to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go. If you are forced to be outdoors, it is even a good idea to wet your clothes with cool water.

Dress Lightly

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Another way to stay cool is to dress appropriately for the hot temperatures. Avoid any clothing that is tight or made of thick fabrics. Instead, you should wear light, loose clothing that allows your skin to breathe easier. Fortunately, there are plenty of fashionable options that are designed for hot temperatures, such as sundresses and palazzo pants.

Stay Wet

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If you simply can’t stay indoors and must go outdoors, choose water activities where you can stay wet. For example, my daughters enjoyed early morning swims. They got some of their daily physical activity in the pool before it reached the hottest point of the day.

Use This as an Excuse to Bond Indoors

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Finally, the best way to survive an NYC heatwave is to stay indoors! Use the excessive heat as an excuse to hang out at home, catch up on indoor tasks, and bond with your family. My daughters entertained us with dancing performances and comedy routines. We relaxed and just enjoyed the time we had with one another without all the distractions we usually have.

A heatwave is the perfect excuse to make some homemade popsicles, bust out your favorite board games, and watch classic films. When you start to feel stir-crazy, just remind yourself the heatwave will be over before you know it, winter will arrive, and you will be begging for the summer to return.

5 Black Must-Haves for Every Wardrobe

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Black is one of my favorite classic colors. If it’s not yours, I’m here to change your mind and help you embrace the ultimate classic color that is perfect for every wardrobe. There really is no point in hesitating – black will never go out of style.

Why Black Will Never Go Out of Style

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  • Black makes you look slim and hides imperfections. The number one reason why women everywhere love to wear black is that it is thinning! The color works to make you look slim, and it also helps to hide any fat or imperfections you may have.

  • Black is sexy and classy. If you are ever unsure what color is appropriate to wear in what setting, you can never go wrong with black. Black holds the title for being both classy AND sexy.

  • Black is easy to accessorize and pair. This simple color is also well-loved because it is so easy to accessorize or coordinate outfits with! When you wear black, you can wear all different colored accessories. Likewise, a black shirt pairs with any color pants and black pants pair well with any color shirt. With this in mind, having black essentials in your wardrobe makes it easier for you to get dressed in less amount of time.

  • Black knows no age, season, or skin tones. You can wear black no matter how old you are, what season it is, or what your skin tone is like. Black works in the summer as well as the winter. It looks great on pale or dark skin. Black makes both college girls and their grandmothers look on-trend.

The 5 Black Must-Haves for Every Female Wardrobe

Now that I have convinced you that black is here to stay and is a must for your wardrobe, let me break down five of the essential black wardrobe pieces you should own.

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Black Shoes – Of course I am going to start with shoes! Because of my love for shoes, I can’t narrow it down to one type of black shoes. Let’s just say you need to have a fabulous pair of black shoes for each season and a pair of black dress shoes for any formal occasions.

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An LBD – Ladies, if you do not own an LBD (little black dress), you need to head to the store right away! This is a quintessential wardrobe piece that will come in handy at a moment’s notice. Sudden formal invite? An LBD is perfect!

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A Black Coat – Coats come in many colors, but if you want a coat that will still be fashionable years later, go with black.

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Black Pants – Black pants (or trousers) are slimming and another key piece of any woman’s wardrobe as they can be paired with a variety of different colored tops.

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A Black Purse – As purse crazy as I am, I am the first to admit that a black bag should be a top priority. Not only will the color never go out of style, but a black bag hides stains and dirt.

It’s Time to Stop Looking at Your Pics Only on Your Phone and Print Them Out

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Moms, we have a problem. We have started to rely solely on our phones to collect and store all of our precious photos. I’m guilty of this, and I bet you are, too. I take tons of pictures on my phone every day, but for what purpose? It’s not like I am printing them out or viewing them regularly. They are just taking up memory space on my phone.

I’m not telling you to stop taking pictures. No way! I think the ability to snap pics anytime we want is one of the best things about modern technology. What I am talking about is the fact that we don’t ever print them out. Why take all these pics if you aren’t ever going to see them? If you have countless photos stored on your phone but not on your walls, this one is for you.

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Technology will fail.

We have all experienced a technology fail. As much as we would like to believe our photos are safe on our phones or our computers, these things crash, and our photos crash right alongside them. Plus, even if you have wisely uploaded all your photos to a cloud storage system, it doesn’t mean you will always have the technology to access and view them.

You will actually look at them.

If you are anything like me, you do look through photos on your phone. However, with the huge number of photos, you likely don’t go all the way back and look at photos from years ago. Who does that? Many moms rely solely on social media flashbacks to see their old pics. But, if you have them printed out, you will actually look at the pics from years past.

They make great gifts.

Few things make grandparents happier than receiving a printed photo of their grandkids. Just go ahead and make your life easier at the holidays by printing off a few of your best pics and purchasing a variety of frames.

They are the best ways to personalize your décor.

We all want our house to feel like a home. One way to achieve this is to personalize your décor using photos of your family. Now this will vary according to your style tastes. I don’t like a lot of clutter on my walls, but I still think you can very tastefully decorate with personal photos.

Your kids will thank you.

Let’s face it. Someday we will no longer be here, and our kids will want to have something physical to remember us by. Our photo albums and prints will be precious to them, just like we treasure our parent’s scrapbooks.

Here are some fun things to do with your prints:

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  • Old-fashioned photo album – There is nothing wrong with using an old-fashioned photo album to store your prints. The fact is it is a book you and your kids can look through from time to time – no need to be fancy unless you want to.

  • Printed scrapbooks – There are so many companies, such as Shutterfly, that allow you to create customized scrapbooks online using your digital photos. For the moms who are the busiest, there is also Chatbooks, which regularly prints out your Instagram photos and send them to you in a book.

  • Make stickers or postcards – In addition to the more traditional ways to print out photos, there are online companies which make it easy to turn your Instagram pics into stickers or postcards. These are perfect for school-aged kids!

  • Create a gallery wall – As shown above, I recently used Storyboards to create a gallery wall in the breakfast nook of my home of some of my favorite pics. I am over the moon with how well it turned out! It was super easy and looks awesome.

Osaka – Where to Go, Eat, and Drink

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While in Japan, we made a visit to the island of Honshu to spend time in Osaka. Our visit there was full of sight-seeing and eating (of course). Osaka is known for its happening nightlife and fantastic street food, and I am happy to report that it lived up to its hyped reputation! Think of this as an introduction to all things Osaka.

Osaka Sights to See

A visit to Osaka should be composed of shopping and sightseeing. Luckily, we did both!

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Shinsaibashi – A trip to Osaka is not complete without a visit to Shinsaibashi, which is entertainment central. It is a popular shopping destination known for its many high-end retailers. Additionally, it is home to several restaurants and nightclubs. Now that I’ve visited, it’s easy to see why visitors to this street number about 60,000 on weekdays and about 120,000 on weekends and holidays.

Dotonbori – Another popular entertainment of Osaka, Dotonbori is a colorful area that borders the Dotonbori Canal and is known for its many bright neon lights. It has several restaurants and bars, as well as many street food stalls.

Osaka Castle Park – The main landmark of Osaka is Osaka Castle Park. The centuries-old castle has been rebuilt and renovated many times over. When you tour the castle, you may be surprised by how modern it is inside, but they have retained the history within the castle museum. In addition to the castle, the park is beautiful with an amazing garden and 600 cherry trees.

Osaka Foods to Try

If you have been following along with my Asia travel blog series, then you know the biggest part of all our visits was the food. We love to try new foods, and Osaka is known for serving usual and delicious dishes.

Takoyaki – This is a ball-shaped wheat-based snack you can find at street food stalls that are filled with octopus. Takoyaki is also fondly known as “octopus balls.”

Okonomiyaki – Another popular dish in Osaka is okonomiyaki, which is a pancake made of batter and cabbage that is filled and topped with a variety of ingredients.

Fugu – While we didn’t try it, Osaka does have restaurants that serve Fugu – toxic puffer fish. This is a Japanese delicacy where even the smallest mistake by a chef can prove fatal to the person eating it.

Akari Soba – We enjoyed dining at Akari Soba, which serves delicious soba and tempura. This restaurant is located in the busy area of Dotonbori and made our visit here even better.

Kyoto Tsuruya Sabou – Located in the Hilton Plaza, this dessert café was wonderful! We enjoyed matcha desserts.

Why a Visit to Osaka Must Include an Izakaya

An izakaya is a Japanese bar, and Osaka is covered with them. When in Osaka, you must visit an izakaya to enjoy a sake or a drink. After spending the day shopping in Shinsaibashi, an evening spent in an izakaya is the perfect way to finish out a day filled with fun and food.