Easy 4th of July Set and Forget Hors d’oeuvres

It’s almost the fourth of July! I’m currently in Aruba vacationing with family this year but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few suggestions for your backyard barbecue. I wrote these recipes for CBS Local a few years ago and still use them for parties to this day! They’re so simple to make, standout in the crowd amongst a sea of store-bought potato chips and underwhelming salsa and will subside your guests till the big cookout. Hope everyone has a happy Fourth of July back home! Will definitely be missing my fill of burgers, ice pops, and fireworks. You can read my recipe article for CBS Local, here. Let me know if you have any questions or if you’ve tried one of the recipes by dropping a comment below!


Fourth Of July Recipes: Set And Forget Hors d’oeuvres




Happy Fourth of July,




5 Easy Brunch Recipes for Sunday

Happy Mother’s Day! Hope everyone is enjoying their Mother’s Day with their mama’s this Sunday, mine is currently jetting around the world at the moment. Ironically, I’m home in New York City this Sunday and was thinking of going out with a friend to brunch until I woke up and saw the rainy day that was awaiting me outside, yuck. So as I sit, nice and dry, in my apartment, I decided to make my own brunch. Admittedly, it’s not as fancy as this recipe article I wrote for CBS a while back but the best part of brunch at home is that you are guaranteed food cooked to your preference, no lines, and no outrageously priced bill at the end.


You can find my five easy recipes for brunch on CBS Local, here. This menu was inspired by my love for margaritas and south of the border. Simple ingredients and easy to make jalapeno guacamole, churro french toast, chorizo frittata, chimichurri skirt steak, and mango margaritas, that arevfamily tested and approved! Did I also mention delicious? Yum!


Mother’s Day Brunch Recipes




Happy holidays,


6 Easy Ways to get Eco-Friendly this Earth Day

Happy (belated) Earth Day to all my fellow crunchy granola friends out there. All kidding aside, as most of you know I’m a big environmentalist, however, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to help save the planet. Enacting these few simple changes not only helped me reduce my single-use plastic consumption but it’s also saved me a nice sum of money. The money I save goes right to my travel fund so for all those wondering how I save money to travel the globe? Start here…


Reusable Bags

This little change makes a HUGE difference! When grocery shopping BYOB, Bring Your Own Bag, (but obviously won’t judge if you bring booze too). When I lived in Germany, you had to bring your own bag to the grocery store and if you forgot you had to buy a reusable bag for a dollar. I still bring my own bag because of this! Obviously, I’m not perfect, but any little bit helps. If you have a car? It’s even easier, leave them in your trunk! It actually makes carrying groceries easier because you fit more in one bag and carry it on your shoulder. For smaller CVS runs, I carry a BAGGU in my purse or you can leave one in your car. Just bust it out next time you hit up the convenient store and give the cashier a smug smile even though they low key might be judging you.


Reusable Coffee Mugs

Whether you like it hot or cold, bring your own mug! Most coffee shops will offer you a slight discount and you’ll save the environment. I’d say I’m about 60/40 on this but I do carry an aluminum straw in my work bag so I can use that instead of plastic. Personally, I drink two to three coffees a day. I mean, I’m a writer who lives in New York City, what is sleep? My point is, every little bit helps.


Dryer Balls

Living in New York City, I’ve had many roommates in my lifetime. If you’re wondering what kind of roommate I am…yes, I’m THAT roommate who makes everyone recycle and use weird organic products, etc. One thing I’ve managed to turn everyone onto is dryer balls! Dryer sheets are actually the most toxic household product for you. You constantly have to buy them, all they do is make your clothes smell like synthetic fragrance, and they fill up our landfills. Dryer balls are made from wool, cut drying time in half, naturally soften your clothes, are a one-time purchase, and are chemical and allergy free! You can add essential or fragrance oil for smell if you really miss it. Honestly, I leave them in the dryer and never take them out. It’s really that easy and it’s probably the best eight dollars I’ve ever spent.


Reusable Water Bottles

This one is obvious! Reusable plastic is okay…reusable stainless steel is better. Once I made the switch to steel I never looked back on plastic. My water is cold for hours and I drink so much more water because of it. I keep one in my work bag and refill as I go. I even bring it with me when I travel. I think all hotels should have them, (don’t worry I’m working on it.)


Mindful Eating

This isn’t a product per se and yet it’s probably the most important topic. Mindful eating is something I always try to practice. I’ve read tons of articles on this and to sum it up, buy organic produce and protein, eat seasonal fruits and veggies, and limit your red meat consumption to once every week or two weeks. Once you start there you can start going one or two days meat-free. You don’t need to go full vegetarian or vegan but limiting your meat consumption is not only good for your health but it’s also good for the environment.


The follow-up question people always ask me is…but how do I afford organic produce? There’s no easy way to answer this question but the best tips I found are to avoid buying pre-packaged foods, meal prepping, buying from stores like Trader Joe’s, and by visiting your local farmers market. All these suggestions have not only helped me save money but have also helped me eat healthier. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to diet to lose weight or eat healthier.



Another obvious one and yet it’s worth mentioning because you’d be surprised at just how much you CAN recycle. When I lived in Germany, it was the law to recycle. Literally, you would get a fine if you didn’t do it right. I had five garbage cans in my apartment. Yes, you read that right, FIVE. One for waste, one for plastic, one for cardboard and paper, one for cans, and one for glass.


Guess which one fills up the quickest? If you guessed plastic…you’d be right. We had a normal sized trash can for plastic and we had to take this trash out every three days. That’s how much single-use plastic we ruse on a daily basis. So what can you recycle? A quick google search of your counties recycling laws should do it, you can find the NYC guidelines here. Essentially, plastic (rigid plastic like bottles, food containers, plastic housewares, etc), glass, and cans with a separate container for cardboards and newspapers.


Yes, I mentioned how this helped me save money but in reality, it really does make a difference. In Bali, I went freediving with Manta Rays and swam in a ton of garbage. It rained on a nearby island and the run-off from the river ended up in the ocean. To say it was disgusting was an understatement so imagine how the Mantas felt? These simple changes are not only helping you but it’s also helping wildlife.


What are the same of the things you do to limit your use of single-use plastics? Any more environmental tips? Let me know in the comments below!

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Happy Earth Day,

City Girl Riss

The Best Warm Weather Destinations for Spring Break

Spring is finally here! We’re just starting to feel a change in the weather here in New York City but if you know me, you know I’ve been escaping to warm destinations non-stop for the last few weeks. Five countries in five weeks to be exact. My birthday is in March so for the last decade or so, I’ve been vacationing for spring break and can say with full confidence I’ve been to every destination I mentioned in my most recent article for CBS, the best warm weather destinations for spring break. There’s plenty of great places to go for spring break, but in my opinion, these destinations have so much more to offer than just a nice beach. From jungles to mountains to beautiful reefs, you can’t go wrong with any of these six destinations! You can read the full article on any CBS Local, here.


The Best Warm Weather Destinations For Spring Break



Happy Spring,


A Weekend Guide to Baltimore, Maryland

If you ask me, charm city is READY for its close-up. In recent years, Baltimore has been working hard to build up what was once dubbed the “greatest city in America.” My long weekend to Baltimore was nothing short of delightful! There’s so much to do there and the locals are some of the friendliest people I’ve met in a big city in quite some time. If you have a few days to spare, especially if you’re on the east coast, check out my weekend guide to Baltimore, Maryland, for CBS Local, here.


A Weekend Guide to Baltimore Maryland




Happy traveling,


The Best Romantic Destinations in America

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m headed to the beaches of sunny Jamaica this morning but not without giving your my favorite romantic recommendations first. Europe typically tends to get all the attention when you think of romance, however, the U.S. is home to some amazing cities that rival the best of them. From sunny Miami beaches to the romantic streets of New Orleans, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites in my most recent article for CBS Local, which you can find here. Check it out, let me know what you think, and send me your recommendations!


The Best Romantic Destinations in America





Everything You Need for Your Best Valentine’s Day Yet

This week’s post is dedicated to helping you prep for your best Valentine’s Day yet. I’ve linked every article I’ve ever written about Valentine’s Day below. From travel recommendations to DIY dinners/gifts to beauty tips, I’ve covered almost every topic. I personally think Valentine’s Day is an overrated holiday but there’s nothing overrated about showing someone you care. Tried and tested by yours truly, enjoy!

Romantic Valentine’s Day Destinations

Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two

Valentine’s Day Activities for Singles

DIY Valentine’s Day Gifts to Make for Your Loved Ones

The Best Free Valentine’s Date Idea in NYC

Three Tips for Better Breath

How to Heal Chapped Lips


Have you tried any of my recommendations before? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Happy Valentine’s Day,



How to Heal Chapped Lips

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away! Meaning it’s almost time to pucker up for your special someone. The Winters are brutal here in New York and my lips are always asking for a little TLC. After a bad cold, my lips were left completely chapped, I took to the internet and hit up every beauty blogger I know for the best tips and tricks. I mentioned a few of these lip products in my last post but here are my top recommendations for treating chapped lips.


Step 1

Exfoliate! This step is widely debated in the skincare community, however, in my opinion, this works almost instantaneously to renew your lips. Some people believe that the outer layer of skin on your lips protects the other layers and should not be removed. After some research, I can say that there’s truth to this, however, once your lips are chapped it’s time to start new. I’ll use a scrub when I notice my lips are pale in color, rough in texture, or showing signs or red cracks on the outer edges. I scrub them maybe once a month but never more. My favorite product for exfoliation is the Fresh, sugar lip polish exfoliator, which I mentioned in My 7 Holy Grail Beauty Products that will Up Your Skincare Game article. It’s a little pricey but it’s lasted me years since I only use a little! Apply a small “rice-grain” sized amount onto lips and massage on with a washcloth. After you’ve rubbed the product in, rinse and immediately apply lip balm. If you’re on a budget you can use brown/turbinado sugar and coconut oil in lieu of the Fresh product.


Step 2

Apply Lip Balm! A good lip balm is key. If you’re a friend of mine you know that I am a ride or die for the Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm. It’s all natural, leaves a little bit of color, and is extra moisturizing. I could honestly, write a full essay on how this chapstick has changed my life but just open any bag I’ve ever owned and you’ll see why! Plus, I’m a long time fan of Burt and his passion for all natural products.


Step 3

Moisturize while you sleep! In recent years, I’ve found that by applying certain products before bed my skin has changed drastically for the better. Those extra 8 hours dedicated to hydration are key for softer skin. Naturally, your lips are no exception. The Laneige lip sleeping mask is everything you could ever ask for in a moisturizing lip mask. It’s ultra thick and has a light tint yet doesn’t leave a mess while you sleep.


If you follow all three steps, your lips will be ready to take on even the harshest of winters. After these three steps, I noticed an immediate change after just two days! Have you used any of these products before? Any other tips? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Best Ways to Detox for the New Year

Do the holidays make anyone else feel the need to hibernate for a month straight? After running around trying to find the perfect gifts, hosting guests, and eating like it was your part-time job over the holidays, you could use some time to devote a little TLC to yourself. After all, what are all those visa gift cards for if not to spend on yourself? As a huge self-care advocate, I decided to compile a list of New York City activities for those of us who need a little me-time to reflect or connect. Or maybe for those of us who are still unsure of what day/year it is! I made this post New York City specific but if you don’t live in New York you might be able to find similar ideas in your own hometown.


Spa Day

Of course, I was gonna start with a Spa recommendation. Seriously, the Sojo Spa Club is just a quick stop over the river in New Jersey, they provide a complimentary shuttle bus. You will then arrive at what I call the adult playground of relaxation. I went as a plus one with my bestie who’s a beauty writer and this place was HEAVEN! For the small price of $60-55 dollars, you can purchase a day pass which includes access to an array of amenities including pools, hot tubs, saunas. Plus, you can get buried in volcanic ash, an ancient Japanese beauty practice that feels like what I would describe as a messy gravity blanket sauna. Of course, you can purchase other spa packages, at an additional cost, ranging from massages to acupressure, facials, and my personal favorite, the Korean body scrub. They also have a café so you never have to leave the facility and get the most out of your spa day!


The Wrecking Club

This one is a little out there but honestly some of the best good-ol fashioned fun I’ve had in a while. The Wrecking Club is essentially a place where you rent a room with x amount of stuff to smash. Yea, you read that right. I bought the “double dip” package which included two electronics and one bucket of dishes. In the room, we had crowbars and baseball bats to smash our goods and an aux cord to play the music of your choosing. You can also add more to your package via “à la carte” should you destroy all of your electronics too quickly. I ended up purchasing another bucket of dishes and felt that was enough. This was a great way to blow off steam post-holiday stress. Maybe even cheaper than therapy, just saying.


Mountain Escape

Escape to the mountains. You won’t find Wifi but you will find a better connection. Getting in touch with nature is a great way to decompress from the everyday chaotic city life and a great way to just unplug/relax. I’m planning a trip up to Hudson, NY and plan on doing a day ski-trip to Hunter Mountain. Even if you don’t ski, there’s plenty of fun to be had at the lodge with cozy fireplaces and plenty of cocktails. Hunter Mountain is only a few hours from the city and is easier to access than you might think. I’ll update this post after my trip with more details of course, however, highly recommend you get into the upstate New York vibes. You won’t regret it.


Yoga to the People

So for those of you who don’t know, although you probably do, Yoga to the People is a donation based yoga studio that offers a variety of yoga classes. If you’re like me and have a love-hate relationship with the gym or find juice cleanses appalling, this a great way to move your body, detox some sweat, and clear your head. I’m not a yogi by any means but this place is truly a gem. The recommended donation amount is $10 dollars but their policy is “give what you can.” Perfect if you’re on a budget or don’t know if you want to commit to the yogi life yet. Plus, they have several locations around the city so it shouldn’t be hard to hard to find one in your area. Na-Ima-stay in the realm of positivity/sunshine as should you.



The Best Tips for Finding Cheap Flights

After a recent Instagram poll, you guys mentioned that you wanted to see more travel tips on the blog for the new year. If you’ve been following this blog from the beginning you might remember I used to do an annual tip of the week. I got great feedback from this feature, however, when I went back to working full time the extra weekly posts proved to be quite the challenge. These days a post once a week is all I have to give. Although, my posts are much more detailed oriented and I thought about bringing back the weekly tips, however, I figured it would be better to post one detailed post where you can find all the info you need as opposed to dragging it out over weeks. So with that being said, when I first started traveling, I’m convinced I read every article about finding cheap flights in the history of the internet. I’ll often post about a cheap flight on my Facebook or Instagram page but these are the methods I use and find the most effective. I’m always still learning but any info I don’t know chances are I know someone who does, so after extensive research and interviews, these are my best recommendations for finding cheap flights.


Use a search engine

When looking for a flight it can be intimidating trying to look up what airlines to fly with beeing that there are so many options available. If you’re not loyal to a specific airline, i.e you don’t use miles and just want the cheapest flight, use a search engine. I’d recommend Google Flights or Skyscanner. I’m more partial to Skyscanner though because if I know I have time off and want to plan a vacation I’ll use the explore option and search for the cheapest flights then plan my vacation accordingly. The search engine will scan ever website for you and then provide you with every option available. You can search by, time, date, airline, layover preference, etc. Which leads me to my next tip…


Be Flexible 

Are you flexible on time or dates off? Flights are always cheaper if you leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Sunday is the most expensive day to fly back so if you can avoid it and fly back on Tuesday you can save hundreds of dollars. Be mindful of peak seasons. Traveling in the summer months are more expensive than in the offseason. Tropical places can still be enjoyable in the offseason and colder destinations can be just as nice in the Winter. Another good general rule of thumb is to avoid traveling during popular holidays. Everyone travels during Christmas time and airlines know that hence a larger than normal price tag.


Search incognito

It’s not necessary for every website, but in general, it’s a good idea to search incognito when you’re looking up flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. Several websites will use “cookies” to track your search history. Websites like Expedia will see that you are searching flights based on your history and will raise the price of flights because they know that you are looking to buy. By searching incognito, you’ll hide your search history so companies won’t have access to this information. You can open up an incognito window by opening up your search engine, I use google chrome, clicking on the “file” tab and then by clicking on “new incognito window.”


Embrace the Layover

Flights with long layovers tend to be lower in price than direct flights simply because most people hate them. If you’ve ever had to sleep overnight in an airport or book a stay in an airport hotel than you definitely know why it’s awful. However, sometimes long layovers can work to your advantage! For example, I recently found a $400 round-trip ticket to the Philippines from NYC with a 13/15-hour layover in Shanghai, China. Shanghai has been on my list for a while now so I was more than happy to entertain the idea of a quick pit stop. I arrive in Shanghai at 6 am and depart at 10 pm, giving me a full day of exploring Shanghai on the way there and back. I don’t need to book a hotel since I can sleep on the plane for my next flight and I can always check my carry-on luggage at the airport or check a bag and just take essentials in an easy to carry carry-on. This is a great way to explore a city and get a, as I like to say, “flavor,” to see if one day you’d like to come back. Sometimes airlines will even offer you free layovers as a special promotion to entice you to visit their country like Iceland air in Iceland or Etihad in Abu Dhabi.


Fly into a city outside of your destination 

Have a destination in mind but flights are expensive? Do some research on Skyscanner and see if there’s an airport a bit outside of the main city that you can fly to and take a cheap train or bus to the main city. Popular budget airlines will typically do this but you could fly into Frankfurt, Germany for example and rent a car and drive to Paris. It’s not always that easy of course but definitely worth investigating if you are looking to save some money. When I flew to South Africa, for example, I flew into Johannesburg and rented a car and drove 8 hours to Kruger National park instead of taking an expensive connecting flight to Kruger.


Price difference refunds

This one can be tricky. I’ve personally never been able to pull this one off but I certainly know people who have. Essentially, if you are stalking airline tickets and see that a price has dropped you can call the airline and see if they’ll refund you the difference or negotiate a full refund and book a new ticket with the cheaper price. If you go through a second party agency website they might not refund you but a major airline might honor it, especially if you’re a loyal member.


Get alerts

Have a destination in mind that you’ve been dying to visit? Sign up for flight alerts! Google flights and Skyscanner offer this option for specific destinations that will email you when prices have gone up or down. This also works well if you are interested in negotiating for a price difference refund. Typically the best time to book a flight is three months prior to your planned departure. As you get closer to your departure date prices will start to increase. That’s not always the case in the wild west of flight booking but generally, that’s the most common trend.


Skip the last leg of your trip

To be honest, I haven’t personally tried this but know many people who have and they’ve saved tons of money. For those of you not as familiar, skipping the last leg of your trip refers to booking a flight with a layover and missing the second flight. The idea is that the layover is actually your intended destination and you simply miss the second flight. Now, this only works for the second flight as once you miss the first flight your whole itinerary gets canceled. Not to mention, you can’t travel with a checked bag as it will continue on to your final destination. Overall, this method provides a lot of finesse and would only recommend experienced travelers do this. Websites like Skiplagged are great for looking up these flights with their homepage alma mater saying, “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us…but we won.”


Budget Airlines

If you travel, even a little, you know exactly the kind of budget airlines I’m referring to…Spirit airline, Frontier, EasyJet, Ryan Air, etc. So let’s break down the pros and cons. Are you traveling in luxury? Absolutely not. Does everything cost extra? Sure does. So when is it beneficial to fly on a budget airline? If you’re traveling a short distance, as in anything under three hours, it’s worth it, in my opinion. If the trip is broken up with a short layover, it’s worth it. Some tips when flying budget airlines are: buy a checked bag as soon as you purchase the ticket. Checked bags are cheaper in price when you book in advance and carry-on’s typically aren’t included. Bring a snack with you. Snacks and food are extra so come prepared and buy a water bottle before you board. Print your boarding pass before your flight. Some budget airlines will charge you for this and it’s better to have it printed and not need it than get hit with an extra 15 dollar fee for printing the boarding pass.


Credit card points

Credit card points and miles are a great way to get credit towards flights from everyday spending. Of course, you have to be careful with credit cards as they can end up doing more damage than good, however, if you use them responsibly for everyday purchases you could earn a significant amount of miles and credits towards flights. This method is best for frequent travelers and long-term use but if you have one dream destination in mind and want to use those free sign-up miles this is a good option.  The Points Guy is a great website for finding out more info on travel cards.


Have any other tips? Any questions? Leave a comment and let me know! Hope this helps you on your next vacation.


Happy Traveling,