Having a Moment | Black Houses

While the color of the year may be the bright, poppy Living Coral. There is another color having a serious moment right now. Black. Most homeowners tend to play it safe with color, there are a few bold pioneers painting the way, with black exteriors. I especially love when the dark hue, is mixed with different textures and finishes of woods and/or metals. See below for some of my favorite homes, featuring this bold, alluring trend.

Black/Dark Grey Exterior Color Recommendations

Image from Gardenista

Top row, left to right: Farrow & Ball Railings; Benjamin Moore Midnight Oil; Benjamin Moore Carbon Copy; Farrow & Ball Off-Black. Bottom row: Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green; Benjamin Moore Black Panther; Farrow & Ball Pitch Black; and Benjamin Moore French Beret.


A lot of people don’t realize, REALTORS®️ are all entrepreneurs. We are all self-employed, independent contractors. While our licenses hang with the broker of our choosing, our business is completely up to us. This means we wear all the hats you’d find in a traditional company: Sales, Marketing, Operations, Accounting, HR/Benefits, Public Relations, etc. Plus, play the role of: therapist, mediator, decorator and vendor Rolodex to our clients. And MAN, do our clients mean the world to us. We help guide them through, what is quite often, the largest purchase of their lives. It’s their home. A place where memories are made and cherished moments happen. As a REALTOR®️, I work hard to go above and beyond for my clients, because I rely on their referrals to grow my business.

If you ask my parents, I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit since I was little. When I was around 7, I started pedaling metal jewelry around the neighborhood, made with a kit that involved turning “silver” beads into molten hot liquid and then easy-bake-ovening them into molds and stringing the silver beads onto brightly colored cording. I’m pretty sure I named it Jackson Jewelry and had a jewelry stand at the top of our driveway and in the swimming pool parking lot.

Proof this was a real “toy” in the 90s.

Metal was really having a moment for me, because following Jackson Jewelry, was my genius CD greeting card business, which consisted of me supergluing a CD-Rom into its case, silver side up and carving designs into it with a crude stenciling tool I made from securing a thumb tack to an unsharpened pencil with electrical tape. I don’t have a picture of this, but trust me, it was terrifying and I’m shocked my parent’s allowed it.

only picture them with a hand-drawn design that reads “Happy Birthday” or “You Did It!”

Then there was my first ever “company”, Vintage Orange 🍊, that I started in middle school, where I took royalty-free images from the internet, reversed the image, printed them out on iron-on paper and then ironed them to white tank tops and canvas tote bags. I was selling so many at school, I got in trouble with the administration because apparently you aren’t allowed to run a small clothing and accessories business from your locker.

Once Upon a Daisy, was created for my mother, to market her children’s book ‘Upsie Daisie Doodle Bug’, a sweet story of a cute little bug and his adventures along the day. Doodle Bug’s world was one of magic and fun. The book follows along the day of a well behaved little bug, who does his chores, gobbles pancakes, rides a merry-go-round and plays with his friends.

I started a blog, Classic Southern Flair, in 2008, while I was in college that slowly puttered out around 2013, after nearly 300 posts and several very tiny sponsorships. This was before bloggers/influencers were a legitimate thing and/or income source. It was always more of a diary/catalog of my interests at the time. Trust me, if I believed in regrets, it would be giving up on my blog. Classic Southern Flair sparked several other businesses. The most lucrative being, Southern Flair, an apparel line that featured hand-drawn Southern inspired artwork, silk-screened onto American Apparel tanks and tees. When I was moving back from Baton Rouge to Atlanta, a company in New Orleans offered me $200 per silk screen design (there were either 6 or 8 designs), but I passed them up on their offer and sold them the rest of my physical inventory, on a royalty basis, instead.

AliceFaye Paperie was a line of Southern-inspired stationery. With images such as blue and white ginger jars and wayfarer sunglasses, that could be purchased with or without personalization and came in sets of 10. I did several commissioned invitation, calling cards and stationery designs via AliceFaye. Daily Pin-up was a spin-off of Classic Southern Flair, featuring a pin-up a day, “providing retro glamour in a modern world”.

It’s so important to support entrepreneurs and nurture entrepreneurship in young people. I truly believe that it is the unyielding support of my family and friends, through out my life, that has gotten me where I am today. Working everyday, as a entrepreneur, and a REALTOR®️, under the support and guidance of the largest real estate company in the world, Sotheby’s International Realty. I’m lucky to call Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, home and so very proud to be a REALTOR®️. Thank you to all who support and encourage me. And a very special thank you, to everyone for your referrals.

How to host a Girl Scout Cookie Wine Pairing

If you’re anything like me, you have probably been low-key hustled by the little girls in green, pushing cookies until mid-February, and have at least a dozen boxes of cookies headed your way from different friends/family/co-workers’ girl boss cookie saleswomen. Or maybe not and you actually have self-control (and no heart, you Girl Scout Grinch). Annnyyyway… if you do have an obscene amount of cookies on order, why not turn your impulse purchases into a fun excuse to get together with friends and drink wine.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Brown craft paper and/or signage – wrap your table in the kraft paper and simply write directly on the paper, in marker, anything that needs identifying (you can purchase a large roll at Dollar Tree)
  • Girl Scout Cookies – get at least 2-3 boxes of each flavor, depending on how many people you have at your tasting (find any local dealer, I mean Girl Scout via Facebook or your office – trust me, someone’s daughter’s got the goods)
  • Wine – we’ll get to which wine pairs with which cookie in a sec, get at least 2 bottles of each **remember this is a TASTING, so you don’t need to supply guests with enough for full servings of wine per every combo** (I typically purchase party wine at Trader Joe’s because the prices are 💯)
  • Dump bucket – yes, that’s the official wine-world name for the bin where you pour any unwanted wine
  • Tasting cups – small 1.5-3oz cups, pre-poured for sampling, and arranged next to corresponding cookie
  • Wine glasses – once everyone has chosen their favorite combination(s), they can serve themselves a true serving of wine
  • Platters – separate each cookie flavor onto individual serving platters and position them next to the pre-poured tasting cups
  • Small plates and napkins – for the cookies (I got mine at Dollar Tree)
  • Water – because… drinking
  • Pairing Sheet – I made a very quick, version in Excel (it is not the most beautiful thing in the world) and shared it with everyone invited ahead of time, so they know what to expect and what type of wine will be available. Feel free to download and print. Link below.


Note: I apologize to anyone who is living a more “waste-free” lifestyle, all of the above is disposable/recyclable to maintain my sanity, but I’m sure there are waste-free alternatives available.

Office Supplies You Need in Your Kitchen

While some might argue, that if you have a home office, you don’t need duplicate items in the kitchen – because you can just go grab them from the office when needed. I couldn’t disagree more. Our kitchens are typically the Grand Central Station of our homes. Meaning, almost everything passes through the kitchen: mail, packages, groceries, gifts, notes, laundry/dry-cleaning, etc. Why not make the central hub of your home a one-stop shop? Here is a list of all the “office items” (plus a few extras) you need in your kitchen to make your life easier, save time and take control of the chaos.

  • Black Sharpie markers | they write on pretty much any surface and are a quick way to date leftovers, write names on lunch bags or leave a note
  • Sheet protectors and binder | if you’re a little old-school and prefer a printed recipe, keep them in sheet protectors and filed into a binder for easy reference
  • Scissors | duh. (confession: I keep a pair of scissors in almost every room of the house – including closets and bathrooms, because there is nothing more frustrating than lost/hard to find scissors)
  • Wall mounted list-maker | if it’s a designer approved fancy version, or simply a magnetic notepad on the side of the fridge, get you a notepad
  • Post-it notes | doubling down on duh for this one too, and use the neon/bright colored version, just trust me
  • Letter tray | if possible, keep this as close to your trashcan/recycling bin so as soon as the mail comes in the house, the junk mail goes out
  • Letter opener | you’ve probably been given these, for free, by a bank or at a trade show/work event, they’re actually very useful for opening mail and packages (or find a fancy one, you can leave out and admire your extra-ness)
  • Notecards, pens and stamps | a simple set of postcards or notecards kept close by, makes it easy to write a thank you note or special feel-good message to your family members
  • Tape | masking and pressure-sensitive tape (aka Scotch tape)
  • Wine gift bags | along with a few bottles of giftable wine for last minute host/hostess gifts (your manners will thank you later)
  • BONUS ITEMS : mini LED flashlight, utility knife (box cutter), pruning shears, extra-strong spring clips, wine markers, multipurpose lighter, Tide pen, tape measure

Exciting News!

I am truly honored to have been the featured contributor for the piece 5 creative ways to thank your clients at the end of the year : Build your network and encourage referrals with year-end thank-yous that stand out

Thank you Inman and Sotheby’s International Realty for this opportunity to talk about something I love!

Holiday Thank Yous and Who/How to Tip

Showing appreciation for the people in your life will take you far. I know from experience. There truly is no better feeling than someone letting you know how much you are appreciated. The holidays are a time to spend with friends and family, and remind them of how much they mean to you. Making it the perfect time to say “Thank You”. Thank you to the people who help us get through, not only the holiday season but, our daily lives.

Almost everyone could quickly jot down the people who fall into this category. But since I love a list, here’s a list to remind you of all the people, outside of your family and friends, you probably appreciate the most. If you are in the financial position, holiday tips and/or gifts are always smart. If you’re on a budget, do what you can and get creative. Even a handwritten note goes an incredibly long way.

Give a tip to your:

  • Building Superintendent – $20 to $100 depending on how helpful they have been.
  • Doorman – $20 to $100, if there are multiple door men, $15 or more for each is fine, if you have only one, the higher end of that range is more appropriate, especially if he is friendly and does a lot for you. The average holiday tip is $50.
  • Elevator Operator/Building Staff – $20 to $50. Check with your building association to see if there is a holiday tip pool that is shared by all of the building’s employees.
  • Landscaper/gardener – $20 to $50. If he or she comes frequently, give up to a week’s pay.
  • Pool cleaners – For a regular crew, the price of one cleaning, to divide among themselves. If a different employee shows up each visit, holiday tipping is unnecessary.
  • Newspaper carrier – $10 to $30, or the equivalent of one month of the subscription price. Sometimes you can include a tip when you pay your bill. Remember that adults usually do this job these days.
  • Handyman – $15 to $40, depending on how much work you’ve had him do.
  • Trash/recycling collectors – $10 to $30 for private service. For public service, check your local municipality for regulations as some areas may not allow tipping.
  • Christmas Tree carrier – A $20 cash tip is appropriate for home delivery. $10 for an attentive carrier who offers service while you choose a tree. $5 if the person has just helped you bundle it up and load it onto the car.
  • Mechanic – if you go regularly for service, tip $20.
  • Gift wrapper – if tips are allowed, go with $1 to $2 per package, up to $10 total.
  • Doctor/therapist – cash gifts are generally prohibited. Check with each institutions policy before giving a gift to a medical professional. At some nonprofit institutions, a donation may be made in honor of an employee. Platters or cookies or fruit are thoughtful gifts that benefit the entire staff.
  • Day-care staff – a gift or cash tip in the amount of $35 to $70 for each staff member who works with your child/children and a small handmade gift from your child. Make sure to include a handwritten note.
  • Dry cleaner – since it’s a team effort, consider dropping off a box of donuts or a basket of fruit for the whole staff to enjoy.

Buy a gift for your:

  • Assistant – in addition to any end-of-the-year bonus, give a gift or gift card worth at least $50, depending on your position in the company and the assistant’s length of service. Avoid perfume, clothing or anything that could be perceived as too personal.
  • Boss – while not necessary, a simple gift if a nice gesture. Talk to coworkers to see if they’d like to chip in to buy a gift card or restaurant gift certificate.
  • Teacher/tutor – don’s spend more than $25. Assuming the school allows gifts, give something such as a restaurant gift certificate, a coffee shop or amazon gift card, or a homemade gift from your child, accompanied by a hand-written thank you note. Gifts aren’t as common at middle schools and high schools where each child has five or more teachers.
  • Home health employees/private nurse – a modest gift that shows your appreciation. Cash is not a good option. Be sure to check with the agency first, as some prohibit gifts.
  • Nursing home employees – check company policy. Cash is not appropriate, but something that can be shared among the staff like chocolate, cookies or flowers, is a great idea.
  • Letter carrier/package courier – while nothing is expected, if you have a friendly relationship with the person, then a small gift or gift card in the $20 range is a nice gesture. Anything more valuable than that is prohibited by the US Postal Service. FedEx allows tips or a gift worth up to $75, UPS does not have an official policy.
  • Nanny/au pair – a tip equal to one or two weeks pay, plus a personal gift from your children, such as a framed picture showing the child’s appreciation. Avoid kid-oriented gifts. Depending on how personally you know their taste, a stylish gift like a handbag might go far.

Give a tip or a gift to your:

  • Babysitter – cash or a gift equal to one or two nights pay. A personal gift from your children is always appreciated.
  • Cleaning person(s) – up to one week’s pay and/or gift.
  • Dog walker – one week’s pay and/or gift. While tips are the norm, a scarf, massage or other spa treatments are thoughtful gift options.
  • Pet groomer – a tip or gift int he ballpark of the price of one session.
  • Hairstylist/manicurist/barber – the cost of one visit, or a gift of equivalent worth. If you deal with more than one person at a given establishment, give cash so they can split it among themselves.
  • Personal trainer/fitness instructor/massage therapist – up to one session’s fee or a modest gift, depending on how often you see him/her and whether they come to your home. Avoid chocolates, cookies or unhealthy treats.
  • Personal caregiver – up to a week’s salary and/or a modest gift.


Reference: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/money-etiquette/holiday-tipping-giving-checklist

Protect Your Bathroom Countertops

For decades, marble and granite have been the go-to material for bathroom countertops. However, in recent years, design options have grown to include sealed wood or concrete, laminates and solid surface materials, like quartzite and quartz. When done correctly, unique materials in bathrooms can add a very high-end designer feel. When in doubt, stick with the classics: marble, granite, and more recently a popular choice, quartz.

The one thing ALL countertop materials have in common is the need for protection from hot irons (curling irons, wands, straighteners, etc). There are countless blog post “life hacks” that recommend silicone pot holders to protect your counters, there are even silicone mats specially designed for hot tools. While practical, this solution is not always the most attractive.

Enter: the new “life hack” designed to protect your countertops, in a discreet and stylish way. A glass tile hot tools rest. It’s the easiest DIY you’ll ever do and under $10.

You’ll need:

MSI Arctic Ice 6 in. x 12 in. Glass Wall Tile

Everbilt 3/4 in. Heavy-Duty Self-Adhesive Felt Pads







Take the tile, flip it over, put a felt pad in all four corners (about 1 inch in) and Voilà! You have a sleek, stylish place to rest any hot tool your little heart desires. I made mine about 5 years ago, and it was easily the best $10 I’ve ever spent. Protects my countertops, gives me a designated place to rest my hot tools and is hardly noticeable. Enjoy!

AJ’s Favorite Things

Oprah’s Favorite Things list came out yesterday. All of the items were luxurious and beautiful. But, the comment section was filled with angry people, who felt the items were far too expensive, and not affordable or realistic gift suggestions. After going back through the list, I came to the conclusion: I’d have to agree. The items are mostly luxury, with the only items priced around $20, being straws and stationary.

I am gift-giver by nature. I absolutely love to find the perfect present for someone, surprise a friend with a little treat, or give a little lagniappe to clients and friends. I have a large family, so Christmas has always been tricky… I want to give everyone something thoughtful and special, useful or fun – but don’t always have the budget for higher priced gifts. So I get creative, and create my own version of luxury. Luxury is defined as: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Well, I’d say, if you can afford to give a gift at all, that in and of itself is a state of great comfort and extravagant living. The ability to give, even if it’s just our time, is a luxury. Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve given to friends, have been handmade gifts I created myself. A gift, especially one handmade, is a luxury item.

In the spirit of looking at luxury a little differently, I’ve decided to share my favorite things. Some are pricey, some only a few dollars, but all items are things I’ve either given as gifts, absolutely adore and/or use myself. My friends call me AJ, and this is a list of my favorite things.


Mexican Blanket – $8.95 on Amols.comBandless Ear Mitts – $18.96 on Amazon.comisotoner Women’s Spandex Touchscreen Cold Weather Gloves with Warm Fleece Lining and Chevron Details – $47.00 on Amazon.com

Women’s Cozy Neck Pullover – $29.99 on Target.com

Blanket Scarf – $14.89 on Amazon.com


Utter Nonsense Naughty Edition (Family-Edition available) – $13.19 on Amazon.com

Women’s Thermal-Knit Sleep Leggings (with coordinating pajamas for the whole gamily) – $19.99 on Oldnavy.com

Click Clack Lumberjack – $19.54 on Amazon.com

Wooden Tic Tac Toe Game – $11.00 on Amazon.com


Benefit They’re Real! Mascara – $25.00 on Sephora.com

Rose Quartz Face Roller – $22.77 on Amazon.com

Living Proof Perfect hair Day™ Dry Shampoo – $23.00 at LivingProof.com

T3 Twirl Convertible 1.25″ Curling Iron – $185.00 on Sephora.com

Tortoise Backcomber – $2.29 on SallyBeauty.com

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads – $9.02 at Amazon.com


St. Tropez 6.7 oz Express Mousse Set – $55.00 on QVC.com


Clarity Clutch Small – $48.00 on Truffle.com

Leather Travel Case Set – $110.00 on Cuyana.com

Ambeur 3-piece luggage set – $385.00 on CalpakTravel.com

Light Cotton Robe – $24.99 on WorldMarket.com

S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Double Wall, 25 oz (holds an entire bottle of wine) – $45.00 on Amazon.com

Cosmos ® 8 Pcs Non-Woven Dual Drawstring Shoe Bags with Clear View Window for Travel Carrying – $11.97 on Amazon.com

YETI Rambler 20oz Tumbler – $29.99 on YETI.com


Charleston Rice Beads, Bracelet – $32.00 on CandyShopVintage.com

GiGi Uber Clutch – $170.00 on GiGiNewYork.com

KREWE Sunglasses, Tupelo 24K – $215.00 on Krewe.com

Wide-brim Fedora Hat – $16.45 on Amazon.com

SPANX Faux Leather Moto Leggings – $110.00 on Spanx.com

Non-Slip Velvet Hangers (100 Pack) – $42.99 at Amazon.com


100% Cotton Classic White Tea Towels with Blue Stripes, Qty 13 – $16.99 on Amazon.com


Rub-a-Way Bar Stainless Steel Odor Absorber – $8.99 on Amazon.com

Royal Casa Cheese Markers Set – $14.95 on Amazon.com

Hurbo 2 Tier Stainless Steel Dish Rack Basics Dish Plastic Drainer Dryer Tray Holder Organizer – $30.99 on Amazon.com

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion, hardcover – $16.96 on Amazon.com

Enamelware Coffee Mugs (Set of 4) Grey Marble – $36.99 on Amazon.com


Oh! Nuts, Large Roasted Nut Variety Fresh Assortment Tray – $26.95 on Amazon.com

Himalayan Salt Shot Glasses, Set of 4 – $15.95 on Amazon.com

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea – $5.99 on Harney.com (also available at most grocery stores)

Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries – $13.95 on YummyBazaar.com (or Fresh Market)

Oak Grove Jambalaya Mix – $2.30 on CajunGrocer.com

Louis-Sherry 12-piece Tin – $35.00 on Louis-Sherry.com

Sparkling Rosé Bears – $8.50 on Sugarfina.com


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M0GTZDN/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1Car Mount, Maxboost (2 Pack) Universal Air Vent Magnetic Phone Car Mounts Holder – $7.90 on Amazon.com


Phone Tripod, UBeesize Portable and Adjustable Camera Stand Holder – $13.98 on Amazon.com

Compatible Headphone Lighting Jack Adapter Charger Cables iPhone – $11.96 on Amazon.com

Compatible Heahphone Lighting Jack Adapter Charger Cables iPhone – $11.96 on Amazon.com


Antique Reproduction Iron Mermaid Bottle Opener Rust – $5.97 on Amazon.com

Oriental Furniture 24″ Floral Blue & White Porcelain Umbrella Stand – $110.16 at Amazon.com

Black & Gold Ice Bucket – $46.70 on Amazon.com

Galvanized Cheers Tub – $29.74 on Amazon.com

The Art of the Cheese Plate: Pairings, Recipes, Style, Attitude, hardcover – $23.79 on Amazon.com

Aroma Bakeware Marble Cheese Board Slicer – $19.99 on Amazon.com


Wool Dryer Balls Natural Fabric Softener – $9.95 on Amazon.com

Fun Size Burlap Wrapped Bouquet – $49.00 on FarmgirlFlowers.com

BAGGU Standard Reusable Shopping Bag – $10.00 on Amazon.com

Set of 8 Stainless Steel Straws – $7.99 on Amazon.com


Lists For Togetherness: Journaling Inspiration to Deepen Connections with Your Loved Ones, hardcover – $11.87 on Amazon.com

LOVE IS PROJECT | Skinny Love Bracelet – $24.99 on LoveIsProject.co

Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, paperback – $11.55 on Amazon.com

Winnie Earring – $32.00 on Akola.com


ZippyPaws, Monkeys ‘n Bananas, Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy – $9.99 on Amazon.comFriendship Collars – $35.00 on FriendshipCollar.com

Ethical Pet Interactive Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Toy Puzzle – $9.50 on Amazon.com


Box Fox | Merry Merry – $34.00 on ShopBoxFox.com

Bowling Pin Electric Wine Opener – $29.99 on Amazon.com

Chopstick Pens – $14.95 on Amazon.com

Talking Tables Prosecco Pong – $19.66 on Amazon.com

How to have a perfectly timed Thanksgiving


  • Plan your menu (including the snacks/appetizer items)
  • Plan guest sleeping arrangements
  • Stock up on items such as paper towels, aluminum foil, tupperware containers for leftovers, etc.


  • Finalize guest list
  • Make room in the refrigerator
  • Shop, shop, shop! – the earlier you can do your shopping, the better, plus you avoid crowds and ensure your items are in-stock AND remember the wine
  • Deep clean your house – hire a professional service for this part (and have them change all guest bed linens)


  • Prepare guest rooms
  • Stock all bathrooms – make sure each one is properly outfitted with a full hand soap, lotion, hand towels, toilet paper and other essentials. Include extra items in guest baths, like shampoo/conditioner, washcloths, bath towels
  • Wash all serving dishes or anything that may have been gathering dust


  • Place turkey in refrigerator to begin thawing
  • Make all pies and desserts
  • Arrange seasonal florals or have centerpieces delivered
  • Make any breakfast items for Thanksgiving Day


  • Make cranberry sauce and refrigerate
  • Prepare and bake casseroles/sides (green bean, sweet potato, etc.)
  • Refresh the house – you’ve already had your deep clean, this is a spot clean and last minute touch up job 
  • Set the table
  • Soak your turkey in brine overnight


  • Wake up early and brew a pot of coffee – this should be refreshed all day
  • Rinse your turnkey of brine and pat dry
  • Let sit at room temperature for one hour
  • Place turkey in oven to begin cooking – if your turkey takes 3 hours to roast, allow yourself at least 1 extra hour of cooking and cooling time


  • Check temperature of turkey – begin checking after 2 hours of cooking
  • Make and arrange appetizers
  • Make mashed potatoes
  • Prepare all side dishes to be warmed in the oven
  • Once internal temperature of turkey is reached (180 degrees F in thigh and 165 degrees F in breast), remove from oven and let rest


  • Let turkey rest for 30 minutes
  • Place side dishes in oven to be warmed
  • Make the gravy
  • Warm all side dishes in the oven, including rolls
  • Carve the turkey
  • Arrange all dishes on table or buffet-style
  • Enjoy!


Stress-Free Travel Tips

While this is a home-focused blog… all of us do at least some, if not a lot of traveling. With the holidays coming up, I thought I’d share my Top Travel Tips to make planning, packing, travel and unpacking – wayyy less stressful and help bring the comforts of home along for the ride!

TRAVEL MUST HAVES | Don’t leave home without

  • Hard-shell Suitcase – for any CHECKED luggage, you can’t find a better suitcase than a hard-shell. These can take a beating and have built in compartments that traditional suitcases do not.
  • Packing Cubes – these transform your suitcase into an organized, travel dresser and keep your suitcase from becoming a tangled up mess.
  • Shoe Bags with Window – keep the contents of your suitcase clean, and free from any shoe-contact. I’ve also found that these fit pretty much any type of shoe, from sneakers and heels, to bulkier footwear, like boots.
  • Jewelry Holder/Organizer – 100% necessity. Keeps your jewelry organized, visible and safe. Highly recommend traveling with it in your carry-on bag.
  • Hanging Toiletry Bag – after more experimenting than I’d care to admit, I finally found the perfect toiletry bag. This bag keeps everything upright and organized, and fits, literally EVERYTHING. It’s compact enough to fit neatly into just about any suitcase or travel bag, and gives you easy, visible access to all of your toiletries once you arrive at your destination.
  • Travel-sized Products – it may sound silly, but spend the extra money up front to purchase the mini/travel-sized versions of your everyday products. It’s so much easier to identify what’s what when you can instantly recognize your shampoo from your body lotion. If you absolutely CAN’T find a mini-version, or you have a product that is hella expensive – I recommend travel bottles that are similar in shape/size to the originals and labeling them with a typed label of the exact product name. Trust me, you’ll be glad you have the exact name, when you go to reach for an item and can’t remember which “Shampoo” you actually put in the bottle. ULTA, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target are all fantastic resources for travel-sized products
  • Foldable Eco-tote – this is a little life hack I only discovered a couple of years ago. I randomly threw one into my suitcase for a holiday trip one year, and it came in handy so many times – I now never travel without one.
  • Lightweight Robe – while most hotels provide robes, they are usually bulky and oversized, and not very practical to wear while getting ready. A lightweight robe, that takes up almost NO room to pack, is a game changer.
  • Microfiber Hair Towel Turban – I don’t know if you’re like me, but microfiber hair towels pretty much revolutionized my life. If you are someone who uses two full-sized towels whenever showering and washed your hair, allow me to change your life. Not only does the lightweight, microfiber towel turban stay put (because of the little elastic loop holding it in place), it also reduces drying time and isn’t insanely heavy, like a full-size bath towel. I discovered these gems in college and never looked back.

CARRY ON ITEMS | What to keep on your person

When packing for a trip, consider your carry-ons your “if I landed and my bag was missing for a day or two I wouldn’t burst into tears” kit. I always have a backpack (for items I don’t need at the ready, but will not be checked) and shoulder tote (for items I’ll want easily accessible in the airport/on the plane). Below is how and what I pack in each.

  • Backpack – should be able to fit your computer, but small enough to comfortably carry and fit under the seat in front of you
  • Computer, electronics and chargers – I typically corral similar, small items into their own pouches. It helps keep everything organized and easy to find. These travel pouches by Truffle, are PERFECT.
  • Travel wallet – this is where I keep my insurance cards, checkbook, and any additional important “wallet” items (basically anything that isn’t your ID, credit card or cash)
  • Prescriptions/medications – including contact lenses/glasses
  • Small notebook and pens – inspiration almost always seems to strike me on flights
  • Cosmetics – if you’re like me, your makeup ain’t cheap – don’t let it out of your sight. I also carry on my face products (i.e. Retin-A, etc.)
  • Medium-sized Tote (with zipper) – should be comfortable to carry, and sized to fit next to your backpack, under the seat in front of you
  • Card Wallet – super slim card wallet to hold your ID, credit card, and cash (don’t worry.. your other items are in your travel wallet)
  • Thin, cozy pashmina/scarf – should be thin enough to roll into a ball about the size of a dollar bill (or smaller) and large enough to double as a little blanket on the plane
  • Water bottle – either a refillable one for after your through security, or purchase a big bottle for $8 at the kiosk near your gate. Stay hydrated.
  • Gum – helps with popping ears (and if you happen to have a slightly stinky neighbor in-flight)
  • Unscented Hand Sanitizer – just trust me
  • Face towelettes – so nice to wipe away the “plane-feel” right after you land
  • Set of headphones – what kind, are up to you (just make sure they’re fully charged, if that’s required)
  • Earplugs and eye mask (for longer flights)

SAVE SOME SPACE | What to leave behind

  • Hairdryer – almost everywhere you go will have one
  • Multiple handbags/clutchesyou only need one fabulous and versatile bag for just about any trip. I prefer a cross-body with an adjustable/removable strap, turning your bag into a cross-body purse by day, and simple clutch by night. Gigi New York is my go-to. They’re classic, yet always on trend.
  • Multiple pairs of sunglasses – pick your favorite pair and leave the rest at home
  • Different shoes for every single outfit – pick a dressy, a comfy (maybe a stylish sneaker you can also knock out a quick workout in or wear in the event of a lot of walking) and a daytime pair (plus maybe some slipper socks/very light slippers for when you’re not out and about) and leave the rest at home. PRO TIP: Wear your heaviest/most bulky shoes on the plane when checking a bag to save on weight and packing room. 


Let me know what your favorite travel tips are in the comments below!