NYC-versary: A Decade

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Wow. A decade. 10 years. July 3, 2007 we embarked on a crazy new journey of life. I left everything and everyone I knew and loved (except one) back in Maryland and moved to New York City. The Big Apple. Without a job. To chase my dreams. To discover myself. To pursue a career. To build a relationship. To be more independent.

We honestly thought it would last a couple years. We would experience something new and different. Get a great job to put on the resume. Live it up in one of the biggest cities in the world. Eat all the food. Have all the incredible experiences.

There were lots of trips on the Bolt Bus back to Maryland in those early days. We are both such family/friend oriented people and we never wanted to miss ANYTHING. So we were on that bus sometimes twice a month for different events and celebrations.

Two years passed and we realized we had not even scratched the surface of this city. There was no way we were leaving anytime soon. No matter that we lived in a 350 square foot one bedroom apartment with no laundry or dishwasher in a 4th floor walk up. We didn’t care. This was where we were supposed to be.

Part of the excitement of this city was the endless possibilities…so much to do…so much to see…so much opportunity…new restaurants going up daily, the theatre, the nights of dancing, the history, the people, the culture. We learned so much and we were never bored. There was always another adventure around the corner. So five years passed…then 7…now…today is 10.

NYC Engagement

Engagement photos by Misa Me Photography 2010

Throughout this past decade, we have had lots of visitors to give us great excuses to explore our city. We have made many friends (reconnected with some old and made some new). I spent 7 years working in the advertising/animation industry learning SO much about production and creativity and how things work behind the scenes. I was able to travel and work with two amazing people that will forever remain in my life as we shared so much together. I feel very grateful to have had this experience and it was WAY more than just “something to add to my resume” that’s for darn sure.

I played on many soccer teams, had girl’s nights on the Upper East Side, tried my hand at club promoting (which although it was fun turned out not to be my thing ;-)), I lived through the majority of my 20’s here, did rooftop yoga, coached high school girl’s soccer, made a whole crew of neighborhood mom friends in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn that I swear I would have lost my sanity without during those early months of maternity leave when I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

My other half explored SO many different career options and ultimately paved such an incredible path for himself. I am truly inspired by his passion, work ethic and confidence every day. He also threw one of the BEST parties/events I have ever been to in the city (shout out to the Electric Moon Dance! ;-))

We celebrated an engagement, planned a wedding, got married, moved to Brooklyn, got a car (see ya later Bolt Bus!), started this blog, had two beautiful babies, I discovered a new career in online health + fitness where I am truly finding my purpose…all while living in this amazing city. We realized how much time we could actually spend at the beach in the summertime without driving too far. We’re actually sending our oldest child to SCHOOl in the NYC school system this fall, so it feels even crazier to know that we are now really raising kids here.

It’s crazy how many twists and turns, highs and lows, experiences and life changing monumental moments we have had since living in this incredible city. I literally still cannot believe that it’s been a full decade since we made this crazy-turned-amazing decision to move our lives here.

I am grateful for the most supportive, kind, hard working, adventurous, loving partner that has been here with me through it all. Zack, baby, I can believe it, but CHEERS to 10 years in New York City!

Looking forward to continuing our countless adventures and creating many more memories with you and our family. ❤

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Photo by Senshi Photography 2017

This holiday weekend will always have a special meaning for me on top of it being the Birthday of America. It’s basically the birth of our New York life together.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend! Keep safe. Sending love and happy times to you and your families today. We are off to Hershey Park for the day to chase some thrills and meet up with my brother in law, sister in law, nephew and niece! No matter how long we stay in NY, we will always make time for the fam. ❤

XO,

Gina

 

Day Date

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It’s not every day you get a day date in Manhattan. But hubby and I had been wanting to do a “Paint Nite” event for the longest time, and when we saw one with a cool painting for 1:00 on a Saturday, we jumped at the chance. Thankfully, our babysitter was able to switch her plans around to be there for us, and we decided to make a whole day of it, treating ourselves to brunch beforehand. While typically trying to make the healthy choice as a health + fitness coach, I dove into some chicken + waffles and a Bloody Mary at Whitman + Bloom. It’s not every day you get a day date as parents, right? We really got into the painting and became totally swept into the whole experience despite my lack of artistic ability (hubby is pretty good though!) We had a ton of fun getting out of our comfort zones, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how our work turned out! Feel free to check my Instagram for the finished product!

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Dress: Forever 21 / Jacket: Goodnight Macaroon / Booties: H&M / Necklaces: Vintage + Stella & Dot / Sunglasses: Brickyard Buffalo

Wow, what a weekend! A day date, and a 60+ degree day in February? Whaaat? Crazy. We are on Winter Break over here, so mama is trying to come up with a plan of action for activities and things to do, while still being able to get some work done around here! Haha. I have a feeling it’s going to be a crazy week, but a fun one!

Hope you’re enjoying the holiday weekend and cheers to an awesome week ahead!

XO,

Gina

March Into Spring

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The first photo here is 6 weeks post partum with my 2nd baby. I clearly felt uncomfortable about taking this photo even though I had no reason to. I stayed healthy throughout my pregnancy. I exercised regularly…ate well…I JUST HAD A BABY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And I had already lost 20 pounds of baby weight after this photo was taken. I had a PLAN of action this time around, unlike after 1st baby when I had no clue what sort of whirlwind I was being thrown into. This time I was prepared. Yet, I was still feeling uncomfortable in my own skin taking this photo. As much as I wish I could have just embraced my body and what it did for me (and trust me I LOVE what our bodies are capable of. I think it’s truly amazing and has brought me two of life’s most greatest blessings)…I still hated seeing myself like this. With my line of work as an online health and fitness coach, I knew that in order for others to see how our programs work, I was going to have to show others what was possible. So I took the photo, but I didn’t love doing it. And it’s still tough for me to share here today…even though in my heart of hearts I KNOW there is absolutely NOTHING I should feel bad about. If anything I should feel proud that my body was able to create two amazing little humans.

That being said…the 2nd photo here is taken about a year later. After a lot of hard work. After ups and downs. After a lot of personal and mental growth. After CHOOSING to make sure that I did not get lost this time. That I remained a priority in my own life. It’s not easy to make a change. But I knew after my 2nd baby, I wanted to feel GOOD. I wanted to feel like myself. I didn’t want to wait around and “see what would happen.” I made a decision to take things into my own hands. Instead of letting life control me, I would control my OWN life.

I know 100%, that without Beachbody, I would not have been able to make this type of change. I would have told myself that I would make it to the gym, that I would go on a run before my husband left for work, that I would somehow, someway fit it into my day…but I wouldn’t. I now know that about myself. I now know that I needed something I could do from home. I needed something that could be done quickly. I needed something structured…that told me what to do each day and how to eat better so that I didn’t have to think too much about it. That I could just get it done in 30 minutes, and move on with my day.

I was able to make this change not only with the incredible workout programs and nutrition plans (because they seriously are AMAZING), but even more so because of the community of SUPPORT that I have had to stay on track toward my goals and stay consistent with a healthy lifestyle. I don’t have some “insane level of dedication or motivation.” People message me frequently and tell me that they love my dedication, or they also tell me that they wish they were as motivated as I was. But I’m here to tell you that I’m not any different than anyone else. I love ice cream and pasta just like the rest of us. (and I eat it often lol) I sometimes hate to get my workout in. I am definitely not perfect…not even close. But because of this community…because I stay more accountable for things when I know I will be checking in…because I have the support of like-minded people around me…because I’m the coach and I know I need to lead by example…I have been able to achieve things that I never believed would be possible after two kids.

If you are like me and you WANT to feel good about yourself, but:
-you struggle to fit working out into your busy day, or
-you have become stagnant on your journey toward reaching your goals…
-if you think you could use the extra support of a positive community that values individual progress over competition…
-if you cannot afford an expensive trainer at the gym, but want workouts that are going to get results…
-if you need to improve your nutrition habits or need new ideas to make meals more fun…

then please join me and my group as we MARCH INTO SPRING…with our heads held high. Starting March 6th, we will begin our next group based on making progress toward reaching our goals and feeling more confident than ever going into that spring break season. I don’t know about you, but I have Punta Cana on the calendar, and I want to feel my best!

***Comment below with MARCH INTO SPRING and your email address if you want to join or you would like more details about the group! You can also feel free to email me at gina.notes26 {at} gmail.com ***

 

Hoping you’re having a fantastic weekend!

XO,

Gina

This Envelope

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This envelope right here. This envelope here holds my son’s monthly tuition for preschool. This envelope used to be a bit of a stress factor for me during that first week of the month. While our co-op is definitely affordable compared to many daycares and private preschool programs, it is still a nice chunk of change that I wasn’t always sure we could afford. I knew we would make it happen…because education is so important to me and my husband, and we truly value the experiences that our son had been able to have with his teacher and classmates. But I stressed all summer long about the tuition increase from last year to this year with an extra hour a day, extra day per week, cost to hire an assistant, etc. It all adds up pretty quick.

Building a business from scratch is not easy and it takes time and patience to build. It has been frustrating at times to not be an “overnight success,” but that’s just not how things work. My husband has been so supportive since I became a coach and he truly believes in me. He believes this has been a great decision for our family…even when I have doubted myself. For that I am so grateful. Quitting has never been an option, and I have continued to put in my best effort day in and day both both as a mom and as a business woman…sometimes at the same time.

So when I realized today that this week’s paycheck more than surpassed that monthly tuition we owe today, my heart just filled with happiness. To know that I was able to contribute in such a way toward my son’s education in just one week of helping others reach their goals truly shed light on a big reason WHY I do what I do.

I love helping others, and I also want to create the best life possible for my family and give my children all they deserve to be happy and successful in life. I am holding this envelope today feeling grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and feeling hopeful for the future.

Hope you all are having an amazing week and continuing to pursue your passions and dreams!

XO,

Gina

Jaw Drop

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Holy Thursday!!!
 
My face says it all…today was my first Beachbody paycheck of 2017, and I almost spit out my coffee. This paycheck more than doubled my highest paycheck ever earned since I started coaching.
 
I don’t talk about money or income much, because 1) I think it’s kinda tacky and 2) I haven’t reached my income goals yet…and so at times it can be scary to share the “before” or while you are still on the journey. It’s much easier to share once you have achieved those results you are looking for. But the reality is…there will always be a journey and there will always be goals to reach. And I’m sure others out there can relate…so in an effort to “keep it real” here we go…
 
I became a coach almost to this day about 2 years ago. I had no idea what I was getting into…what to do, how it all worked, etc. I was fresh and new and excited. I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted to work on my own schedule and for myself so I could also be present for my kids…but I honestly had NO idea what it was like to be an entrepreneur. I thought I would easily match what I was making at my old job and then some pretty quickly. But I underestimated how much patience I would need to have. Starting your own business is NOT a “get rich quick” kind of thing. It takes time, and work…LOTS of work. It takes consistency. It takes fearlessness.
 
All of which I have struggled with at times. It’s scary to put yourself out there on a daily basis. To wonder what people think about what you are doing. If they think you are a complete weirdo. I know it shouldn’t matter what other people think, but I’m only human.
 
And then comes the life of being a busy mom, trying to balance two young boys, a hubby, family, traveling, a social life, housework, adulting in general, and everything else that comes with it. There have been times when I thought maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this. That maybe I just can’t do it all. That maybe it’s okay if this coaching thing is just a hobby. That maybe I just am not that great of a leader.
 
But I kept going. And I know now after all the personal growth I dove into at the tail end of 2016 that those are just limiting beliefs. Being a leader starts within, and I needed (and still need) to grow MYSELF before I can help others to grow and succeed. So I will continue to keep going…and growing.
 
Success is a personal definition. It doesn’t always have to be directly related to money. But for a long time I related success = money. To be honest, I thought by the end of 2016, I would have made more money than I did. I thought I would have achieved a higher rank in my company. I didn’t reach some of my big goals. But what I didn’t realize was how much I would learn and grow personally. Apparently, I wasn’t yet ready for all of that. And 2016 was a year of growth for sure.
 
And it’s interesting…when you stop focusing on the money…and start focusing on growing yourself and helping others…then the money actually comes haha. Imagine that.
 
Because quite frankly even though money is not the most important thing…we all need it. Especially when you live in a city like New York and everything is so darn expensive. My husband and I have tons of old debt to pay off, plus our monthly rent, car payment, student loans, credit cards, IRS taxes…and I have goals of traveling around the world with my family…sending my kids to the best schools possible, allowing them to reach their full potential with extra curricular classes, and more.
 
So when I saw that paycheck today, it was a reminder that I need to keep going. That all the hard work that I have put in for the past 2 years has not been for nothing. It was a reminder of all the people I have been able to help to reach their goals. I thought about the thank you notes and positive comments I have received from challengers and coaches on my team. I thought about how I would never want to let them down. I thought about being able to pay those debts off in the future and to be able to give my kids the best education, and about seeing the world. I thought about how supportive my husband has been these past 2 years. When I was down on myself, he always looked at the positive and told me how much money I was saving for our family by working from home or how I was helping to pay off preschool or groceries that week.
 
I thought about how patience is key. And everyone has been telling me that those who don’t succeed are the ones who quit too early. So even those next week’s paycheck will probably not come close to this one…thank you little paycheck for that reminder that what I am doing is important for myself and my family…and that I AM growing…that if I have the belief and the work ethic, anything is possible…and that 2017 is going to be amazing.
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XO,
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Gina

Easy Soups for Fall

 

I recently ran a Crockpots + Squats health and fitness challenge, and it had me experimenting a little more in the kitchen! I posted a few photos which had a lot of people asking for recipes, so I decided to put this together to share. I took these recipes from my cookbook called The Italian Slowcooker by Michele Sciolone, but I added a few of my own twists to them as well to make them my own.

First up:

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 large butternut squash, about 1.5 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut (Mom tip: buy this pre-cut! More expensive, but WORTH saving the time!)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp dried

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and fresh ground pepper

olive oil for drizzling

*I also added a can of coconut milk and lots of cinnamon!)*

In medium skillet, cook the oinion in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, but not browned, about 10 minutes. If the onion starts to color, add a tablespoon or two of water and lower the heat slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the squash, potatoes, sage, and broth. I also added cinnamon here. If necessary, add water so that the vegetables are covered with liquid (I did not add water, FYI. I just added coconut milk or more broth until it was covered with liquid).

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I actually added cinnamon on top of mine, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Voila!

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The next soup I made last week was:

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Serves 8

2 heads cauliflower, about 1.25 pounds each, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups water

*I replaced some of the water with canned coconut milk instead)*

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Romano because that’s my jam)

In a large slow cooker, combine the cauliflower, potatoes, oil, garlic, broth, water, coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the vegetables are very soft.

Let the soup cool slightly, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Boom!

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And there you have it!!!!

Two delicious soups for fall!!!

The entire family ate all of this right up. Mom tip: If it’s difficult to feed younger children a pureed soup like this, you can also give them the chunks of veggies before you puree! My little guy devoured them!

Enjoy, and please share below any of your favorite easy soup recipes for fall!

Reminder: TOMORROW I will be announcing the WINNER for the Country Heat Giveaway!!! For your last chance to enter, please visit popcorn and pandas on Facebook before the end of the day!

Make it a great day everyone!!

3 Week Yoga Retreat

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I was an athlete growing up, but yoga is something I discovered in my 20’s after college. Being that person who was always into cardio heavy sports like soccer and basketball, yoga was quite a switch. The quiet, calm music…having to hold balance and stay still in a position for an extended period of time. It was definitely different. But the moment I tried it for the first time, I knew I loved it. There was just something about it that made me feel AMAZING after it was all over. It was a different feeling than I had experienced from exercise before. I normally felt exhausted, tired, banged up, bruised, sore, and more after a soccer or basketball game. But after yoga I felt rejuvenated. I felt a clear mind. I felt a release of stress, tension, and anxiety. I knew that yoga would not be going anywhere in my life.
 
While living in New York, I have had the pleasure of attending amazing yoga classes from my favorite teacher Brian Williams! If you haven’t taken a punk rock yoga class before, or a class on top of a roof in this amazing city, this guy will rock your world. Seriously. I am still dreaming of taking his week long yoga retreat vacation to some beautiful, tropical location. One of these days, I will make it happen.
 
But for now…since becoming a mom, it’s nearly impossible for me to make a yoga class (or any other classes for that matter). When my older son was about 18 months, I finally decided to get back into shape by taking my workouts to the living room. I quickly found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and I was going to need something more low impact than P90X. I WISHED Beachbody had a yoga program at that time, but they didn’t. The closest thing they had was PiYo, and I absolutely loooooooooved it. This combo of pilates/yoga/cardio/sculpt/strength + Chalene Johnson will always have a special place in my heart. However, it was not truly yoga.
 
I am THRILLED that as of yesterday, Beachbody has launched a new *** 3 WEEK YOGA RETREAT *** that you can do inside your own living room!!!! This is the program I have been waiting for!!!! Now I don’t have to feel left out because I can’t make the classes, but I can do them from home. 21 different yoga workouts for 21 days. On demand, so you can not only do them at home, but wherever you need to go. Pretty amazing.
 
The super yogis will love this, but it’s even better for those just beginning or those needing a low impact workout.
 
I’m currently doing Hammer + Chisel as you may have seen from my posts yesterday, but I seriously cannot wait to rock out this yoga program as soon as I am finished! I already know that I will love it. ❤
Hope you all had an awesome Labor Day Weekend! I cannot believe they are already serving pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. I am sad for the summer to end, but I do love the fall. School also starts this week for my oldest guy which is crazy! He will be in a 3’s program this year, and it will also be my first experience as a mom packing lunches! Is it weird that I oddly excited about that? I am also a bit excited to get started in our new routine. Yesterday, I was feeling all “Bring Back the Summer,” but today I think I’m embracing the new season.
 
Namaste!!!
Gina

Dreams into Reality

Team Spark Happy Hour June 23

About a year and a half ago, I felt a little lost. The company I worked for had folded 6 months prior, I had an 18 month old and was newly pregnant with baby #2. My mother had always worked outside of the home, and naturally being the person I am, I always wanted to do the same. I never wanted to rely on anyone else and I wanted to “be successful” in my own right.
 
Before becoming a mom, I also could never have imagined how hard it would be to balance work and life. Going back to work was easier said than done. I liked my old job, but it was definitely hard to leave every morning. During those 6 months of “soul searching” I realized I didn’t want to go back to working in advertising full time and leaving my son (and future son to-be) 5 days a week for incredibly long hours.
 
My blog and a couple writing gigs told me that I wanted to do something from home…and on my own…but I just didn’t know what. Because the blog was certainly not paying the bills…
 
At the same time I was also incredibly out of shape. Aside from walking, I hadn’t done anything since I got pregnant with my first born. This was a heck of a lot different from my athletic past life, and I did not feel like myself and was quite sure I would probably never again.
 
It was then that I stumbled upon the coaching opportunity. A fellow blogger started her journey and I quietly followed until I saw she was looking to mentor new coaches. I thought to myself “WHY NOT ME?!” What did I have to lose? If I hate it, I will just find something else.
 
So I took the JUMP. A year and a half ago, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into…but I knew that I would be helping people and I would be getting healthy at the same time.
 
Fast forward to the present day, and my life has completely changed. I am able to stay at home and raise both of my kids AND also have a full time job that I work in part time hours. I have helped over 200+ people start their health + fitness journey and achieve incredible results, and I have trained and helped mentor 20+ coaches to build their own businesses and start their own journey toward financial freedom. I have been able to take multiple vacations so far this year and have at least 5 more trips on the books for the rest of the year. We are paying off debts from old houses owned in Baltimore, hubby’s student loans, and more. I have made so many new friends (pictured above) from across the country who are positive, uplifting, supportive and who I look forward to talking with every day.
 
The journey is not over, and it’s hard work, but it’s work that I LOVE, so it doesn’t actually FEEL like work. It’s something I can do on my own time, my own hours, + create and design by MY standards. I wake up each day excited to check in with my challengers and my team. I love seeing the lives transform each and every day, including my own. It makes me feel happy that I can provide for my family and be a positive example for my boys.
 
Are you looking for something MORE in your life? If you have ever felt the way I did…if you want more time with your kids, more travel/vacation time, a chance to do something for yourself, the opportunity to feel as if your success is limitless, to surround yourself with an amazing community of people….
 
Then PLEASE JOIN ME + Team SPARK! – THURSDAY night 6/23 at 8:30pm where we will share our stories and give you a behind the scenes of a day in the life of a coach. How we help others, why we love it + how you can fit coaching into your already busy schedule.
 
***Comment below “I want to learn more!” with your e-mail address***
 
Come learn how to turn your DREAMS into a REALITY – And don’t forget something to say “Cheers!” on Thursday! 🙂
Hope you all have an AMAZING Monday!!!
XO,
Gina
 
***Team Beachbody® does not guarantee any level of success or income from the Team Beachbody Coach Opportunity. Each Coach’s income depends on his or her own efforts, diligence, and skill.***

Fall Fever

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Plaid Button Down: Old Navy / Sweater: Target / Denim: Rag and Bone / Booties: Target / Necklace: H&M / Watch: Michael Kors / Bracelets: Tory Burch, Stella & Sparkle / Earrings: Stella & Dot

Hey gang! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done a fashion post. Trust me, it’s not because I haven’t wanted to! It’s just that with working at home with two little ones these days, it’s hard enough to get DRESSED in clothing outside of athletic wear let alone have the time to have PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE that I got dressed haha. But alas, a wonderful friend of mine recently moved to NYC with her fiance, and they made the trek out to Brooklyn to see us for brunch this past weekend. I decided this was a great opportunity to, you know…put on real clothes, swipe on some makeup, and actually blow dry my hair for once! 😉 Not that she cared how I looked when I showed up, but it’s the little things people, it’s the little things! So, thank you Tissy! It was a gorgeous fall day for a neighborhood stroll, and we ended the evening with Halloween festivities later that night!

This week is going to be a crazy one as we are leaving for Maryland on Wednesday night to spend the weekend there celebrating one of my BFF’s getting married! So excited for our first night out without the kids since Luca was born, although also slightly anxious…even though I know they will be in good hands with family. Going to do my best to stay on track with Round 2 of the 21 Day Fix this week as well amidst the craziness.

Hope you are all starting this week off right!

XO,

Gina