What’s the Deal with Bullet Journals?

At first, bullet journals seemed like nothing more than a smoke-and-mirrors case of slick rebranding. Keeping a standard journal seems run-of-the-mill, and so does maintaining a planner, but when you combine the two and give it a buzzy-yet-vague name: BOOM! It’s trendy.

Essentially, it’s a planner-meets-diary hybrid, with a touch of scrapbooking, as you map out to-do lists and your goals, all in one handy journal, because print is NOT DEAD, okay?! (Or you just prefer the tactile experience of crafting your agendas and thoughts, instead of dealing with iPhone notes or Google Keep. Fair enough.)

There’s an index, which helps keep the book organized, along with a long-term planner and a day-by-day to-do list you maintain yourself. From there, you can customize the book however you want, it seems. Some people track their habits (which, to be honest, reminds me of the chore chart many kids had back in the day), graph how they’re saving money, or create lists of things, like movies to see, books to read or playlists for whatever mood they’re in.

The idea behind the “bullet” part is that you make quick, bulleted notes instead of writing long-winded, meandering essays. Though you could certainly include space for the latter, if that helps you process what’s going on in your life, because truthfully, there’s no wrong way to journal. On that note, let’s skip right to the nitty gritty.

The pros: The journal’s a great time capsule of any given year. You can track your long- and short-term goals (something we’re clearly all about on LBW), note your progress, and write out whatever’s on your mind.

The con: You can spend more time thinking about an issue — or writing about your plans to achieve it one day — than actually taking steps toward the goal.

A photo posted by Marie (@journalspiration) on

This is the same danger you run into when going down a Pinterest rabbit hole: You spend so much time carefully sketching out a graphic, punchy page outlining your goal, then beautifully illustrating your to-do list, and wind up feeling fulfilled or accomplished for having created that. Without actually coming any closer to accomplishing things. Having a clear-cut plan is awesome, as is creating something that’s so visually appealing you want to return to it again and again, but make sure it doesn’t come at the cost of getting things done. Or that you lose an afternoon to going all Joanna Gaines calligraphy-style on your to-do list, leaving zero time left to, you know, cross anything off said list.

Top photo: Cathryn Levary/Unsplash

The Worst Thing You Can Do When You’re Anxious (and What to Try Instead)

You’ve heard it a million times before: When your stomach’s in knots, your mouth is dry, and inside you’re about three seconds from completely freaking out, you should calm down. Take deep breaths. Meditate. Do whatever you can to slow down and clear your mind.

But, as it turns out, you may just be making things worse.

Continue reading The Worst Thing You Can Do When You’re Anxious (and What to Try Instead)

An Inside Look at Chip and Joanna Gaines’s New Magazine, The Magnolia Journal

In the past few years, Chip and Joanna Gaines have gone from Waco wunderkinds to household names. They’ve gone from starring in HGTV’s Fixer Upper and running a housewares shop in their Texas hometown to opening a bakery, fixing up a cafe, running a bed and breakfast, writing a memoir, launching paint, wallcoverings and rug lines and — whew! Are you getting winded just reading this? — now, debuting a lifestyle magazine. It’s enough to make even the most obsessed fans’ heads spin. It’s a lot to keep up with.

Everything you need to know about Joanna Gaines's new magazine
How cute (and spot-on) is this sketch of Joanna Gaines?

With that many projects in the works, I raised an eyebrow at the thought of a magazine. How involved would the couple be, exactly? When they’ve got so many other things going on, are they just going to slap their names on a bunch of photos of the houses they’ve already featured on Fixer Upper and call it a day?

Continue reading An Inside Look at Chip and Joanna Gaines’s New Magazine, The Magnolia Journal

7 Ways to Spend Halloween If You Don’t Have Plans

No insane Halloween party this year?  Too old to go trick-or-treating (at least, that’s what your neighbors seem to always say as they roll their eyes after seeing you at the door)? No worries. Here are a few last-minute ways to make the most of All Hallows Eve — without accidentally lighting a black flame candle and letting out a trio of soul-sucking witches, Hocus Pocus-style.

Continue reading 7 Ways to Spend Halloween If You Don’t Have Plans

You’ve Got to See These Incredible Jack O’ Lanterns

It’s hard to fathom what 5,000 Jack O’ Lanterns looks like until you’re standing in a field surrounded by them. Even then, the awe comes in waves: First, there’s the surprise of the sheer volume — so many pumpkins! Then, the manpower behind them: How many hours did it take to carve them all?! Even the really basic, triangle-eyes-and-semicircle-mouth variety takes a while. And what happened to the guts? They must have pumpkin seeds for weeks!

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Photos: Nathan Davison

But, the true shock and awe comes when you check out the pumpkins on pedestals — the ones that clearly took hours to sketch, scratch and carve, recreating spot-on Disney princesses, Draculas and Freddy Kruegers.

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Even crazier, still, are the human-sized piles of pumpkins, carved to look like full-size creatures (dinosaurs! Spongebob Squarepants!) or classic cars and trucks.

This isn’t an anomaly; this event’s known as Rise, and it takes place in five cities across the country: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Pomona, CA and Secaucus, NJ. Each one features 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins, offering tours to the public all day (and night) through Oct. 30th.

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Check out some of our favorites from the New York event. It may inspire some last-minute carving — or a road trip.

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Can you believe It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is 50 years old?! Rise had an entire series of gourds dedicated to the classic cartoon.
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Some kid-friendly fun. lbw-rise-jackolanterns-skulls

Look at the detail in that skull! It’s more than 6 feet tall.lbw-rise-jackolanterns-bb8 lbw-rise-jackolanterns-pumpkintime

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Everything You Need for Halloween ’16

The Halloween countdown has already begun (less than two weeks!), and unless you’re totally anti-All Hallows Eve, there’s a good chance you’ve been mentally debating (A) what to be, (B) what to do that night, and (C) how to make the most of the spooky season.

We hear you, because we’re right there too — and we’re here to help you out. For the fourth year in a row, Collegiate Cook‘s running its three-week-long tribute to the holiday (known this year as #Halloween16). Every weekday, the site posts a fresh costume idea, party inspo or Halloween-themed recipe to help you make the most of the days leading up to Oct. 31st.

Continue reading Everything You Need for Halloween ’16

3 Self-Help Books That Won’t Make You Gag

Let’s be real: It’s hard not to roll your eyes at the very topic of self-help books. So many of them are treacly at best, filled with the sort of one-size-fits-all advice you grew up seeing on posters in middle school guidance counselors’ offices.

After working at Oprah.com for a few years, I felt like I’d seen it all. Books of every variety crossed my desk, but I soon learned there’s a select few that are absolutely worth your time. They’re often business or psychology books, written by professors and laden with research to back up their anecdotal experiences.

This fall, two books have totally bucked that trend — and I still recommend them to everyone I know. The first are more memoir than anything else, but the authors peel back every layer of their experience, provided the raw, unfiltered truth (and the lessons gleaned in hindsight later), that I couldn’t get enough of them.

If you’re looking for something to read over the next few months, try one of these.

Continue reading 3 Self-Help Books That Won’t Make You Gag

Celebrate Your Roots

New York’s one of those cities people dream of living in someday. Not me. I never planned to move there, let alone live there more than a year, and yet, almost seven later, it’s the place I call home. During those first three years, I had a love-hate (but mostly, overwhelmingly hate) relationship with the five boroughs, and then, one day, we hit an understanding. Yes, it’s bitterly cold in the winter, and the people can often be brusque and moody, but it’s a lively place, brimming with ambition and the resources to make it happen.

While New York is currently home for me, Florida’s just as much “home” too. As Nate jokes, home is wherever you’re not — as in, I’ll always say I’m heading home whether I’m in the Southeast or the Northeast. Either way, I take pride in my home state, even if it is, quite possibly, the most bizarre place in the U.S.

Right now, there’s a trend toward celebrating your roots with simple jewelry and understated tees that runs counter to the traditional souvenir kitsch (though, let’s be honest: I love kitsch). I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites, in case they inspire you to show off your home state pride wherever you happen to be.

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The Home T, $32 (You can find even more options here, including the Florida “y’all” tee shown at the top of this post.)

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Vintage map, $49-$139 (depending on size)

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Bar necklace, $24-$56 (depending on metal and other customization options)

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Cutting board, $19

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“Home Is Wherever I’m with You” tote, $9

Astoria’s Not-So-Well-Kept Secret Speakeasy

It looks just like any run-down, probably-thrived-in-the-’70s hardware store. You’ve got your questionably out of date cleaning solutions in the front window, the pegboard displays, the old-school gummy sticker price tags haphazardly tagged on every hammer, screwdriver and tube of caulk shown.

But then you realize it doesn’t open until 5:30 p.m.

What is this, some not-too-subtle New York drug front?!

This hardware store is really a cocktail bar. You've got to see inside.
Photo: Candace Braun Davison

Nah. It’s just another bougie, semi-secret speakeasy. And you’re going to love it. At least if you’re a sucker for kitsch and a good theme, like me.

Continue reading Astoria’s Not-So-Well-Kept Secret Speakeasy

Frontiers: 6 Places You Need to Visit in the Florida Keys

Despite being born and raised in Florida, I’d never been to the Keys. I’d been to Miami a few times, but never made the 4-hour drive to Key West (or even the hour and a half to Key Largo). That all changed this summer, and after spending a few days there, I can’t understand what took me so long to go. I mean, really. The water is unbelievably crystal blue — so blue you’d swear someone’s filtered the heck out of it if you saw a pic on Instagram.

The Best Places to Visit in the Florida Keys: Islamorada
Photos: Candace Braun Davison

It’s got everything you’d want from a tropical vacation, without having to fly halfway around the world. If you get the chance to go, GO. Don’t waste a second debating it. Don’t begrudge the long drive from Miami International Airport, or even the road trip from wherever you happen to live, if hopping in a plane isn’t your thing. Just go. You won’t be disappointed.

Continue reading Frontiers: 6 Places You Need to Visit in the Florida Keys

Make Every Day Feel Like Saturday.