5 Subscriptions + Memberships That Are Changing My Life

Subscription services and certain memberships can be expensive, and honestly I often have trouble justifying forking over my hard earned cash on many of them (Birchbox, for instance, is one I just can’t justify at the moment no matter how much I love it). But sometimes a service comes around that is so worth it and changes your life in a big way that you just suck it up. And also, sometimes they can actually save you money! So today I’m talking about the five subscriptions or memberships I have that are worth the monthly credit card bill.

The New York Times, $19.99 a month

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I signed up shortly after the election because I decided it was, now more than ever, really important for me to understand current events. I get the Sunday delivery and online access to the paper daily. I’ve loved reading it on my computer or iPad, it’s completely changed my lunch breaks during the week (read: no more mindlessly scrolling Instagram). The interactive features, videos, and ability to “save articles till later” makes it engaging and keeps my attention. I make a point to read 5 articles a day and I’ve felt comforted knowing my awareness is increasing (albeit less comforted by the disturbing reality of the world today).

Spotify.com, $9.99 per month 

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I made Mark sign up for this since I’m the one footing the bill for Netflix every month (Thank you, boyfriend!). I never understood how to bootleg music and always relied on iTunes to purchase my favorite jams for up-to-date playlists. Of course this got expensive and since I’m also the type of gal who replays songs over and over again until they nauseate me, it was sort of a lose-lose situation. I needed a change. With Spotify I can “download” music to play even when cellular is down, hundreds of perfect playlists are already established, I can make my own playlists, exploring new tunes and revisiting old favorites have never been easier, and there are no ads. I’ve essentially stopped using iTunes and don’t plan on going back. I also recently found out that if you play one of Spotify’s running playlists while you run, it will figure out what bpm matches your pace and will curate a playlist just for you. Game changer.

Fabletics, $0-50 a month

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image via Fabletics.com

Athleisure is liiiife. If I’m not in scrubs I practically live in sports bras and leggings. But I don’t make enough to buy all things Lululemon, all the time. Fabletics offers really cute, really comfortable options at super affordable rates. As a VIP member I get discounts on outfits picked for my style and activity preferences each month, and if there’s nothing that floats my boat, I can just skip the month no problem!

Pure Barre, $180 a month

More of a membership than a subscription, but it truly deserves to be on this list. I love Pure Barre and have since my first class. The workout is challenging (I’ll be sore everywhere for days afterwards) and still really fun. I feel so strong after finishing a class and the endorphin high is so real. Also, it’s a great way to meet new gal pals in your area because there’s already an established mutual interest!

 West Hollywood Library Card, FREE!

It is embarrassing that I didn’t think to sign up for one of these sooner. I spend so much money on books that I read once, love, but then put on a shelf to take up space and collect dust. When I could be renting the same books for free so they don’t cost me anything to read & don’t take up my space when I’m done! Smacked myself hard for not figuring this one out until now. But I now have a card and it rocks. I can read books, magazines, and rent movies with my card. And now Barnes and Noble gift cards can be spent on real indulgences like cook books. Plus, this particular library is beautiful. 

That’s it! As always I’m open to suggestions if anyone has other subscriptions they absolutely can’t live without. Have a great weekend friends! 

Raspberry Buttercream Macarons 

I already have the holiday of love on the mind. I want everything I consume to be pink and heart shaped. I want to just wear shades of red. I want to listen to love songs and send love letters to everyone I know. I’m trying to hold off until the month of February, but you know me, I’m kind of bursting to celebrate something again. The month of January is so long. 

So I got it in my head that I wanted to make macarons for a Valentine’s Day treat. Make them now, I told myself, and then you can freeze them until it’s time to eat them. So you kinda get in the spirit while still being sensible. Then I made a complete failure of a batch; cracked, hollow, the totally wrong consistency, so I decided maybe not. But then I couldn’t get the little suckers out of my head so I did some research, I tried again… and failed. And then I did a lot more research, tried again, and failed again. Ugh. I was closer than ever before to getting the perfect macaron so I tried one more time and, lo and behold, it worked! The entire batch was perfect. The raspberry buttercream frosting I made to sandwich the cookies together was both pink and red (albeit still a little too buttery, considering ditching that part altogether) making the final product absolutely perfect for the occasion. So in addition to getting these cute af cookies, I also got a pretty intense lesson on life, right in my own kitchen! 

So here’s the lesson: I like, really didn’t like failing at these. Similarly to how I don’t like failing at anything else. It was beyond frustrating to try my hardest and not get the outcome I wanted or expected. And for reasons that were seemingly out of my control! I decided to quit repeatedly. It was only after I cooled down and realized how much I wanted to succeed, how much joy it brought me each time I got closer to the perfect cookie, that I decided to perservere. So I put in work, I got better tools, I asked others (in the form of reading their tips and recipes), and ignored the negative thoughts giving me doubt (“this is such a waste of perfectly good almond flour”). Am I spelling it out enough? Beating a dead horse? It was a good reminder that if you love something, you hustle to succeed at it no matter what the cost, time commitment, or how many times failing hurts your ego. You just have to keep going because doing the things you love and getting better at them is what makes life colorful. I’m still finding all the things I love, but right now I know I love baking and I love sharing my life in this visual little corner of the internet, so here we are! 

I told you I’m feeling sappy. 

Anyway, January means a fresh new year to accomplish some #goals, so it’s a relevant lesson. 

And duh, the reason you’re even here…

Basic Macaron Cookies //

– Using a fine sieve, sift 1 cup of powdered sugar and 3/4 cup almond flour into a clean, dry, metal mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside. 

– Take 2 large eggs straight from the fridge, crack em open, and separate the yolk from the whites. Macaron snobs around the world will scoff at you because the eggs haven’t aged, and to those people I exclaim “who has the time?!” Save the yolk to make hollandaise sauce some other time, lol. Whisk the whites in a stand mixer until they reach stiff peaks. Half way through this process add 1/4 cup granulated sugar. This is your meringue. Don’t overbeat! 

– Start the macaronage process. Waste no time here. Dump half of the dry ingredients into the meringue and fold the batter over until incorporated. Dump the rest in and repeat. Batter should be smooth, and should fall off spatula in ribbons but should not be runny. Overmixing sucks. Spread out the batter against the sides of the bowl to get rid of air bubbles. 

– Put batter in a piping bag and cut off the tip of the bag. Hold the bag at a 45 degree angle to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and squeeze until circles form. Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet. 

– Take the sheet and bang all four corners against the kitchen counter, hard. Do it really early in the morning so your roommates hate you! It gets the extra air bubbles out. You should notice the macarons flattening a little and they should have a smooth top at this point. 

– Set sheet to rest for 35 minutes in a cool dry place. Not the fridge. Just out on a table in a room with no humidity. They need to rest so the top hardens a little and the air is pushed down during baking (this makes the foot!). In the meantime, preheat the oven to 300-310 degrees. 

– Double up on baking sheets, and for me it was best if I baked mine on the top shelf for 15 minutes. I also propped the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow for air circulation. I stood there and watched them, because I’m crazy. 

– If all goes well, they should be smooth, not shiny, with a foot. The inside will be softer and chewier than the outside. Take them out of the oven and let them cool before transferring of the pan. 

– Organize pairs by size, sandwich together with fillings like jam, Nutella, frosting, but I can’t in good conscience suggest buttercream because I haven’t found a recipe for that I love. 

Next step: flavors!
 

What’s In My Purse

I like writing posts that provide a little snapshot of what life is like in that moment and always seek out creative ways to do so. It occurred to me the other day that my purse, something I carry with me every single day, perfectly encapsulates my current style, hobbies, and everyday habits in a unique way. Plus I always love sharing my favorite and most trusted products. So I ran into my room and dumped my purse contents on the bed, took a look at each item, and recorded it here.

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The purse // My favorite purse and the one I always have on my shoulder is this camel leather number from Nordstrom. I get compliments on it all the time, it looks great with everything I wear at the moment, it holds everything I need, and the straps never fall down.

Day Designer planner // I rarely leave the house without my planner. If it’s not written down I won’t remember it and usually I won’t accomplish it, so it’s crucial for me to have on hand. I like Day Designer right now because they have monthly layouts (where I plan posts and fun activities) and then individual pages for each day which include hourly breakdowns of the day, a to do list section, motivational quotes, and even an area to meal plan. Inspiration and the urge to be productive strike me at the weirdest times, and this helps me organize and act on all that.

iPad mini // I’ve been bringing this with me to work and when I venture out for coffee because I can read the New York Times on it, work on the blog, or surf Pinterest if I’m needing some inspiration. I didn’t download email or any other social media sites and I don’t text on it because I want it to remain a tool of productivity and inspiration rather than a major time waster (like my phone). I choose my laptop first forever because I can work faster and accomplish more on it but this is a great option when I travel since lugging a laptop around town is a hassle.

A good book // I’m reading Just Mercy right now and loving it, but more on that later. I started carrying books with me because sometimes the break room internet sucks at work and I need something to do. Plus I have like 7 books to get through right now so every free moment of reading counts.

La Croix // Whole 30 probs. No sugary sodas or rich lattes for me. I love water but I can get pretty bored so I always have a La Croix water on hand. My favorite flavor is the coconut. But they’re honestly all good.

Burt’s Bees chapstick // I love the fact that this is grapefruit flavored which is my very favorite scent. Plus I trust this product like no other. Chapped lips are a real issue with this dry California air, so I have this stuff on my person at all times because that look isn’t cute.

Reusable grocery bag // My sister got me this for Christmas and I looove it. It’s really big so it usually fits all my groceries for the week but it bunches up into a compact pouch that takes up no space at all in my purse. I keep it with me because I would always get to the grocery store only to realize at check out that I hadn’t brought any reusable grocery bags, and I find myself doing random grocery runs throughout the week for items I’ve run out of or forgot to pick up. Today I decided I was gonna have another go at macarons and shopped on my lunch break so I’m currently lugging almond flour and a candy thermometer. I also use it for shopping in general because why use store bags when you don’t have to?!

Compact wallet // My wallet was a splurge at Fossil but the quality can’t be beat. It’s small but still fits all my cards, I.Ds, cash, and change. Plus it’s so cute and classy 😊 and Mark can’t complain when I hand it over to him to hold because it easily fits in his pockets!

Raybans // It’s sunny in California and you gotta stay stuntin’. What more can I say?

Standard haul? Maybe not?? I don’t know! My friends have such different purse contents than me: baby bottles, make-up bags, an entire gym outfit, it’s so variable and interesting to compare and notice how different everyone’s “must haves” are! I think it says a lot about a person.

What are some of your purse staples? And if you see anything glaringly obvious that I should be carrying on the daily, please comment!