FRIDAY Q&A: MY BBG PROGRESS, HOW WE BUDGET AS A COUPLE, TIPS FOR A NEW PUPPY, AND MORE

Happy Friday, friends! Will and I are off to Vermont with all your fabulous recommendations in hand. Would love for you to follow along on Instagram! I got a ton of questions this week and I’m going to cap it at no more than ten questions every Friday but I’m keeping a running list of your questions so check back next week if I didn’t get to your question today! Have a great weekend! xx

design darling friday q&a

1. Where are you in the BBG workouts? Any tips on sticking with it? 

I did the first six weeks over the summer and then started over when I got back from Nantucket so Will and I could do it together in the mornings before he goes to work, so together we just finished week four! I wish I could say it gets easier but I definitely feel stronger and more toned, which motivates me to stick with it. I’m overdue for a set of progress photos so maybe I’ll work up the courage to share those on the blog one of these days. 😬 Having a workout buddy is also hugely helpful for me and I find I’ve had the most success when I’m on a workout plan with my mom or husband. If you don’t have a workout buddy who lives nearby, I know my friend Carly has had success with an email accountability group, so that might be something to consider!

2. What’s your morning routine?

For the past month and a half, Will and I have been waking up at 6:15, walking Rory and getting coffee, and coming home to do BBG in the only space in our house that has room for a bench and two mats: our kitchen. Then we shower and get ready for the day, I drive him to the train, and I come back to start in on the to do list I’ve written for myself (usually the night before) which typically involves shooting/writing a blog post for the following day (or the day after that if I’m really on my A game) and responding to emails for upcoming or potential brand partnerships. I’m not at all a morning person by nature but I love the feeling of working out first thing in the morning and getting to spend a little time together before Will leaves for work — and having crossed off a couple key tasks before my old self would have been getting out of bed! You can read more about my efforts to become a morning person here.

3. How many deliveries do you get a week and how much do you return?

With online shopping, I tend to wait to place bigger orders with multiple items so I can try everything on at once, usually before a trip. I imagine this is the same as for a non-blogger — on rare occasions I’ll want to keep everything I order, but more often I find that I love a handful of pieces and can live without the rest so I send them back. Hence my love for places like Nordstrom and Shopbop that offer free shipping and free returns!

For gifted items, I often don’t know when a press mailing is going to arrive, so I could go a week without receiving one and then receive three or four boxes in one day. These are usually makeup and skincare products that I don’t always try right away, so I have baskets in our home office to sort different kinds of products so I can go in and find a new cleanser when I run out of the one I’m using. When a brand sends beauty products that aren’t a good fit for my skin tone or skin type, I bring them to the ABC house where my parents live/work so the eight teenage girls they’re taking care of can have their pick!

4. I’m so overwhelmed putting together our wedding registry. Can you share the place settings you chose as well as any favorite gifts you received?

I totally know the feeling and found a lot of the online guides to be extremely over-the-top (at least for us because we don’t cook a ton). I get easily overwhelmed shopping in stores and much prefer to browse online, so I went through every category on Bloomingdales and Pottery Barn adding pieces that looked like “us” before Will and I went to check out a few key things like dinnerware and serving pieces in person. 

We registered for these everyday plates (a little more playful) and these more formal plates (a little more classic) with this flatware. I was probably the most excited to receive a few serving pieces (like this and this — things I would never have had space for when I lived alone in New York!), picture frames for our wedding photos, and these gorgeous glass candlesticks (I don’t know why but they just make me so happy!). My best advice is to register for pieces that you’ll truly be thrilled to receive and use!

5. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Anything on Bravo. 😬 I love Southern Charm (was this season not the best/worst?!), Flipping Out, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills / Dallas / New York / Orange County. Thankfully they’re all staggered throughout the year but I love being able to turn my brain off for a couple hours a week (we don’t have cable so I watch on Amazon Prime) and indulge in pure fluff. 

6. What are some of your favorite CT restaurants?

East End or Terra in Greenwich, Lugano in Cos Cob, Rory’s in Darien, Rowayton Seafood, and Tavern at Gray Barns in Norwalk. I need a few more months to try all the places that have popped up in Fairfield County since I left for college (eleven years ago!) but I promise a Fairfield County guide is in the works! If you’re local, I’d love to hear your favorite spots in the comments — we are always looking for cute/yummy new spots to check out!

7. How do you budget as a couple and achieve shared financial goals? Does one of you take the lead on that or is it a team effort?

Will and I are true teammates when it comes to our finances. He works in finance and it definitely comes more naturally to him, but I think it’s absolutely crucial to have total transparency where finances are concerned and I’ve benefited a ton from his knowledge. For instance, when we met I was only using a debit card for my business, even though I was placing massive orders on inventory for my online boutique — hello, missed opportunity to rack up credit card points! Because I’m self-employed and my income is not a set salary amount, I’m most motivated when we set a shared goal and make steady progress towards seeing that number in our bank account. Neither of us is a lavish spender but in my opinion it’s harder to save if you don’t have a set number in mind.

8. Rory is the sweetest! Any tips for someone about to bring home a new puppy?

Ahh I am so jealous! There is nothing better than a teeny tiny little puppy. That said I remember how hard those first few weeks can be when you’re bringing them outside every hour or two and trying to hide your shoes (and fingers!) from those sharp baby teeth! I am not a dog trainer by any stretch and there’s a lot I will do differently when we decide to add a second pup to the mix, including crate training and starting him in group training classes at a younger age (obviously once you have the green light from your vet). My best advice is socialize early and often, be consistent with discipline (e.g. everyone in your household using the same commands), and carry treats with you everywhere you go (Rory is extremely food-motivated!). Good luck (and send photos)!!!

9. What are some good neighborhoods to live in in NYC? I might be moving there!

I lived on the Upper East Side and in the West Village and loved both of them for different reasons! The Upper East Side is a little more quiet and it’s amazing to be close to Central Park, but I found myself going downtown more often than not to meet friends for dinner or drinks. The West Village is quaint and charming and home to many of my favorite restaurants in the city, but definitely more expensive than uptown (at least when I lived there four years ago!). I would highly recommend walking around different neighborhoods to get a feel for where you see yourself and browsing on StreetEasy to see what’s available in your budget in each part of the city. 

10 . Have you put together a wedding guest attire post for the fall season? We have a wedding on Halloween weekend this year and I have NO idea what to wear. I would love to stay around $100!

I haven’t done a full post on fall wedding picks but any of the darker hues from my spring picks would still work for fall! Yet another perk of the color navy. 😝 This midi dress comes in several darker colors that would be appropriate for fall and is only $89. I also love this emerald green dressthis off-the-shoulder style, and this scalloped number. If you’re willing to rent instead of buy, I love this black tie-ready optionthis long-sleeve mini dress, this open back gown, and this unexpected berry hue. P.S. Not sure if it will be chilly where the wedding is but I own a couple of these super cheap pashminas to throw over my shoulders for church ceremonies and they’re great for adding an extra layer at night.

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