With the start of October, comes the panic of finding a Halloween costume. Freshman year of college I remember going to the Halloween store, Spirit to buy my first college Halloween costume. After finally deciding on a costume, I rang out at the register only to find myself in absolute shock. How on earth did I just spend that much on an outfit for one night?
$60 just for the costume, now tack on accessories, and add hair products and you’re already at a whooping $100. For one night! Now at college, one night isn’t going to cut it. It’s two, or even three. After that Halloween, I made a vow to always make my own costume. While the DIY process may take more work, in my mind, it’s well-worth the effort. Not to mention it’s more creative, and you won’t be dressed as the rest of the party you’re at. By piecing my costumes together from Forever 21, thrift stores, or something I already had in my closet, DIY-ing made me feel more confident TOO because I was picking something I felt like I looked good in.
Now as an avid sale shopper, I’m cringing at my 18 year old self. Today, when I’m spending $100, I expect 5 sweatshirts, 2 pair of pants and a pair of shoes. (Okay, maybe bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).
If you’re like me and love saving money, DIY-ing costumes are the perfect solution to saving money this Halloween. Scroll down to see some halloween DIY costume ideas! (Also please excuse the picture quality – lol! these were iPhone 4 days).
I don’t know about you but I have a couple brands that I’ve been LOVING this past year – like Topshop, BP, Hinge, American Eagle, Abercrombie (who would have thought?!) and Free People. Free People has always been on the top of my list for years, not only because the clothes are so comfy, but also because the quality is on point.
Loose and comfy is the definition of Free People. I’m the type of girl that wants to be cute and stylish, but doesn’t feel comfortable rocking skin-tight clothing. I’d much rather prefer wearing easy, causal everyday pieces that I feel 100% comfortable in.
Today I’m going to share with you one piece that I found that is going to be the perfect transition piece to wear into fall.
When I tried on this plain black Free People long-sleeve henley at Nordstrom Rack last week, I instantly fell in love. It hit all the right places, and I immediately realized that it’s going to be amazing staple piece for fall.
Right now it works great with shorts, and when the weather gets colder, the FP henley going to be perfect with jeans, or even my Spanx leggings (obsessed) as a cute athleisure outfit. The top falls longer in the back so don’t worry, it will cover your booty!
The ONLY negative I find with FP is the price. Some Free People pieces can be ridiculously expensive! I don’t know about you, but I am an avid sale shopper, and will NEVER pay $150+ for a dress! I know that I’m always going to be finding a sale, and hate paying full price for almost anything.
Want to know the secret to finding discounted, new Free People pieces? Check Nordstrom Rack (online or in-store), Tj Maxx or Macy’s. Even Nordstrom usually has price matches or sales.
What’s your favorite discounted free people fall piece? If you’ve found any comment below! Thanks for reading!
After knowing Irma destroyed St Maarten last year, I was hesitant to vacation there because I didn’t know what shape the island was in. After visiting, I’m so glad I took the leap of faith!
Luckily my boss let me use his timeshare (#blessed), and I chose St Maarten because how cheap the flights were AND the fact that Divi Little Bay is not an inclusive-only hotel. A lot of the timeshare trades are in fact, all-inclusive which i prefer not to do, because of how much the food and drink packages cost. While I love lounging at the resort, I like to spend most of my days doing activities, so I feel like I’m not at the resort enough get my money’s worth.
The devastation on the island was crazy, and still is. Resorts like Sonesta were (and still are) completely flattened out and have to be rebuilt. However, Divi is doing really well. Only a small portion of the resort is under construction still- and they are in the process of adding two pools (one being the infinity pool), two new restaurants, and a bunch of other fun stuff.
What I liked:
The food and drinks. The hotel had 2 restaurants/bars and a cafe. I ate chicken and pork quesadillas (yummy and good portion sizes) at Gizmos, and spent a lot of my time drinking rum punches at Sea Breeze (shoutout to Leroy) which had two pools overlooking the beach. The day that we were leaving we tried sandwiches at the cafe, and were surprised by how fresh & tasty they were!
The rooms. I mean the view from our balcony was to die for! The AC also worked well, which was a huge plus because of how hot the island was (and how hot we were after being outside all day!)
The beach. The resort is directly on Little Bay beach which is super nice. It has a cool dock that you can jump off, and a tent where you can rent out water sports. We did jet skiing (so fun- read more on it here).
The staff. Whether it was the restaurant, bars, or the taxi drivers, the staff were really nice. Right before we left, we accidentally got charged a fee for drinks and after explaining to them the situation, they immediately took it right off. We even came back to the room one day and found all our dishes cleaned in the sink!
Grocery store. Having a grocery store on premise is super convenient, and we took full advantage. We stocked up on the essentials – like eggs for breakfast, toothpaste and rum (obvi).
What I wasn’t so crazy about:
Restaurant hours. While we loved the restaurants and the food, we weren’t in love with the restaurant hours. Before our flight back home, we tried to grab lunch at SeaBreeze, but were told they weren’t open until 12pm. We half-heartedly grabbed sandwiches at the Amsterdam Cafe, and luckily were pleasantly surprised!
Timeshare fees (okay, this is probably to be expected). I don’t honestly think they were as high as they could be, but they’re still another fee. (When we went to St Thomas last year they were way higher).
People at the resort. Its not what you think! We made a lot of friends, but also were by far the youngest people at the resort.
Being the type of person that plans everything in advance (and gets stressed out if they don’t), I spent hours planning and researching what excursions to do, what sights to see, and where to eat before leaving for St Maarten. Only being there for a week, I wanted to be sure we didn’t miss anything. Turns out, we actually discovered the best kept secrets of the island after arriving from our inside source: the islanders working at the Divi Little Bay. If you’re like me and looking to plan ahead, I’ve rounded up a list of the top 12 best things to do in St Maarten, from food to eat, excursions to partake in & some of the island best kept secrets.
1. Watch the planes on Maho Beach
This had to be one of the coolest things I did in st Maarten (and I have the pics to prove it! Lol) Maho Beach is one of the most well-known things to do on the island, and while it may seem touristy, believe me when I say it’s worth it. I actually had to go to Maho Beach three times to get a picture with a plane.. if thats not dedication, I’m not sure what is! See, there’s no guarantee to see planes that day. The secret to seeing one is checking out the surfboard with the times at Sunset Bar (its right next to the beach). I found that the majority of the larger planes come earlier in the day, so make sure to get there before 1pm.
While I can’t rave about sunset, rated “the #1 beach bar on the island”, you should definitely check out driftwood boat bar, the only other bar on the beach. Driftwood is cheaper and more of a local hotspot – and we loved the taxi driver that worked there – Ricky, who recommended some local spots we need to try before leaving.
2. Spend the day at Mullet Bay
We didn’t rent a car on the island, so we decided to make a day out of Mullet and Maho because they are within walking distance. In the morning we started at Mullet- and I’m so glad we did. This was one of the most breathtaking blue beaches I’ve ever seen with plenty of soft sand (at Maho there’s mostly just rocks). Another huge plus was that the beach is super quiet. There’s a shack that opens at noon to grill up food and serves drinks, but we decided to hop over to Maho before we missed the planes again.
3. Take a boat trip to Anguilla & Prickly Pear
Number three on my list is taking a trip to two islands surrounding St Maarten. During our time here, we did a full day excursion with Lambada to Anguilla and Prickly Pear. Did I mention it was unlimited booze and snacks on a catamaran? Yep.. I’m sold.. lol! While our other excursion with Billy Bones was a bit bumpy and more crowded on a motorboat, cruising on the catamaran was something I’ve never experienced before. We got to lay on the front net on the way there and back, and boy, I felt like I was living the dream! Lol
4. Go snorkeling at Creole Rock
On Monday we did a Billy Bones trip – and one of the included places was Creole Rock. Unlimited rum punch & snorkeling – yes please!
5. Eat dinner at Pineapple Pete’s
Ricky from DriftWood beach bar told us to hit Simpson Bay Friday night, and I’m so glad we did. I ordered a seafood pasta dish and was in heaven. The portions are huge too. My seafood dish was hands down the best meal I had in St Maarten. I mean, this was SO good. A little bit pricy, but worth it.
6. Walk the Phillipsburg Boardwalk
On Thursday, we finally took a walk down the Phillipsburg boardwalk. It’s the spot where all the cruise ships come in, so you can imagine it’s pretty lively. Make sure to visit when cruise ships are there because a lot of shops close when the cruises depart.
After checking out the downtown shops (St Maarten is duty free), we stopped at Lizzys On Front Cafe for lunch. At the time I thought the cafes decor was cool, but came to regret it later because I felt deathly ill after something I ate there until the next day (YUCK). Plus- there’s tons and I mean TONS of restaurants lined across the boardwalk with beach views and better food we could have picked.
7. Visit Tintamarre
Another spot we visited on our Billy bones trip was Tintamarre. This beach gave Orient Bay and Mullet Bay a run for its money. Tintamarre was full of the softest sand and the most gorgeous red rocks overlooking the beach.
8. Try the island’s famous drink
Most islands have a signature drink- in St Thomas & The BVI’s, it’s a painkiller, but in St Maarten it’s the Guvaberry. This stuff is delicious! I tried some concoction at the resort with guavaberry and it tasted like an upgraded Pina colada – but more fruity, almost like strawberries.
9. Pamper yourself to a beach massage
Denise and Venise approached me at the Little Bay Beach and asked me if I wanted a massage. Getting a massage on the beach was something that I never had experienced before- so I decided to go for it! I did feet and back for $75, but it was pretty much “full body”, and included everything except my face and scalp. I liked how they used aloe (which is cool because it’s a natural sunblock) and were gentle – I’ve only gotten a massage once before in Mexico, and let me tell you- it wasn’t fun. Lol!
10. Take a dip in Orient Bay
Famously known as the “naked beach,” orient bay is also one of the most breathtaking with crystal clear waters. Because all the beach bars got hit so bad with Irma last year, tours don’t usually stop here anymore. We did a private tour with John from Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and he told us we couldn’t miss out. We didn’t mind that only one bar is open on the beach because the view was so worth it!
11. Eat at Lolo’s
John also brought us to the French side of the island (there’s a French side and a Dutch side) to eat lunch. We stopped a Lolo’s in Grand Casse, and OMG it was so yummy. So good, we went there twice (our Billy bones Charter also stopped there). The first time I got crab and rice/beans with plantains and the second I switched out the crab for ribs. Both meals were also super cheap!
12. Dance the night away at Belair
The little bar at Belair is truly a hidden gem. A walk from Divi, we ventured over there Monday night where we indulged in the delicious all- you-can-eat Barbecue. We went back later in the week and I got lobster – but in all honesty, I’m sticking to the lobsters in MA from now on! Monday was fun because they also had live Caribbean music playing. (I think I was caught on video dancing to the Kiki challenge- haha!)
13. Jetski at Little Bay Beach
Jet skiing was the boyfriends request, and I was happy to say yes! We did half an hour jet ski around Little Bay, which was plenty of enough time. If we did it again though, we would have splurged and rented our own jet skis – it’s so much more fun driving then being on the back!
Other things to do:
-Take a trip to Pinel Island to see tons of iguanas and check out the little gift shop on the island.
-Cruise by Plum Island to see P Diddys house, or Trumps mansion. He rents it out for 10k a night!
-Jump off cliffs at Long Bay (jk we didn’t do that – but we saw two people who did!). What we did do was go snorkeling and drink some more rum punch. This area is breathtaking, and the only place on the island with a 5 star hotel.
-Try the seafood sampler at Chesterfields. A close restaurant to Divi with an awesome view, so we were bummed when it started down pouring. I would definitely recommend going there earlier to enjoy the view.
What I wish I did:
-Went to Red piano earlier. We heard this was the place to be Friday night. We actually showed up 2 hours early and ended up leaving! Lol! Make sure you don’t come until 10:30 when the band comes on.
-Ate at Nowhere Special. We didn’t end up renting a car, so taxing back and forth got expensive. If I could go back, I would definitely check out this restaurant and bar because I heard so many good things.
-Hike up Pic Paradise Point. This is something I wish I could have done, but didn’t end up doing because it was so hot. But I heard the views are absolutely beautiful and so worth it.
-Zip line on the highest one in the world. Boyfriend was down for this, on the other hand, I was not. Being afraid of heights, I just couldn’t! They actually have two zip lines on the island, so if you’re feeling adventurous, I would definitely check one out.
Three years ago, I started a blog- okay so not exactly a “blog”, but a fashion Instagram. At the time, I was living Charlotte, North Carolina and working at a law firm as a Marketing Coordinator. After a couple of months of 8am wake up calls (this girl used to love sleeping in) and dressing fancy smancy, I decided it just wasn’t for me. Combine not actually loving what I was doing work-wise, I decided I needed something new. Not ever being into sports, I wasn’t entirely sure what could be my hobby.
After thinking about what I liked, it was so obvious. Create a fashion Instagram. I had always followed other fashion influencers and had what some may call a “shopping problem.” By shopping problem, I mean spending hours a week shopping at Tj Maxx, Nordstrom, or Nordstrom Rack to get a fix… I mean that’s normal right?
I thought with my interest in fashion and background (I graduated Endicott in Beverly, MA with a marketing degree), this is something I could be good at. I started out by messaging my favorite blogger at the time (@loverlygrey) and asking her how she had gotten so many followers and so much engagement, and if she had any tips. She recommended that I start doing the #wearwhatwhere contests. So of course, I did, which propelled me into an Instagram community of woman who had similar interests as me.
As I began to post and get more engagement, my pictures began to get re-posted by Nordstrom Rack, TjMaxx, the Paper Store and Steve Madden, and I remember thinking it was so cool. On the flip side, I also realized it was taking a lottttt of time. Not only is it taking pictures but editing them and posting to Instagram. After that, it’s sitting there for what seems like hours trying to formulate the perfect clever Instagram caption that’s the perfect amount of enough information, but not too cheesy. Next comes overthinking it, scrutinizing enough, and finally saying f*** it, and posting. Okay, forgot one thing. The hashtags. This requires research – whether it’s looking at similar accounts to you and seeing what they’re doing or researching articles online.
Four months in, I decided to stop the account. My lease was up, so I had to make the decision of staying in Charlotte, moving to another state, or moving back to Boston. After a difficult couple week of complementation, I decided to move back. With moving, came finding a new job and a new apartment. I spent months searching for an apartment and interviewing for jobs.
Fast forward three years, and so much has changed. I found an apartment I love in Waltham, MA and a job that I also enjoy. If you’re wondering if I’m still working at a law firm, here’s the answer; I spend my days at a small ad agency developing emails, project managing, interacting with clients, CMS editing, social media posting, and so much more.
After being at the agency for two years, I decided that I needed a new hobby. The idea of fashion and lifestyle blog crossed my mind once again. Not only did I think my style improved, but my ability to find deals, and marketing experience also took a huge leap. In 2015, I didn’t know anything about SEM (search engine marketing), or SEO (search engine optimization). I had no idea that you were supposed to make all your photos have the same filters, so your page looks cohesive. I also owned an iPhone 4 (#tbt), so my photos were definitely lacking that portrait mode vibe. I didn’t understand the full concept of affiliate programs, and that a blog is something you can actually make money off of. And WordPress was definitely a word I had never heard before.
Starting a blog was something I wasn’t sure I wanted to do again. But since I had done it before, I thought why couldn’t I do it again?
That’s how emjacquelyn was started! Thanks for reading!