Alyssa J Freitas

December 12, 2018

Best Of The Blog 2018 + Blog Plan For 2019

It's that time of year when I start reflecting on my blogging since January. I think about what posts I had the most fun writing, which ones actually helped improve my own life, and how I want to move forward with the next year. Today I'm going to share with you the best posts from 2018, and what to expect from the blog in 2019.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the best blog posts from 2018 and learn all about what I am planning on doing for 2019


How A Minimalist Packs For A Week In Europe (In A Backpack!) - my first attempt at doing a YouTube "how to" video

Personal Development/Lifestyle/Career

Back In Time

What to expect in 2019

By far, I had the most fun writing my Back In Time posts. They definitely take longer and require research and fact checking at a whole different level than my other posts, but that's part of why I love it. I learn something new and find it's the most stimulating, so there will be many more history posts in 2019. 

I also wrote far less etiquette posts than I would have liked. In fact, I only wrote three etiquette posts in 2018. This coming year I would like to get more creative in my etiquette topics and would love to answer specific questions from readers. 

Something I want to do in 2019 in general is document everyday life. I have my journal, of course, but I want to be more conscious of taking pictures. 

Based on these reflections (and my recent writer's block post...I want to avoid that in the future), I've decided to institute a schedule for next year. I will still be publishing a post every Wednesday and now each week will consistently have a theme. Week one is etiquette, week two is personal choice (career, lifestyle, personal development - whatever is on my mind), week three is Back In Time, and week four is a monthly life review.

With this schedule in place I hope to have less of that "oh goodness, what should I write about" feeling every week and I'll be able to focus on those topics that are most inspiring for me. This schedule is subject to change as I feel it out for the first few months, but I am optimistic that it will be helpful and I'll be able to stick with it!

Is there anything you'd like to see more of on the blog in 2019? Any etiquette questions or historical topics you'd like to me delve into? Let me know!


December 5, 2018

Writer's Block

It's Sunday night, which means I neglected to write this blog post on Saturday morning like I normally aim to do. I'm currently in a hotel room in DC and just finished up a full day at the ABA Financial Crimes convention. I came down here yesterday on the train and ended up reading the whole time instead of getting ahead on work since I'll be here for the next few days. Felt a little guilty about it, but I figure I can have one afternoon off, right? Right.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! My first post where I just ramble about what's on my mind. Come take a trip down the rabbit hole
Central Park | November 14, 2018

I have writer's block. There are no big life lessons or timely posts I want to put together. I'm not a gift guide girl and it's a bit too early to put together my year end post or goals for 2019, so I'm in this weird middle stage. Part of me wanted to push this off for another night, but I knew it wouldn't get done before Wednesday, so I decided a rambling, stream of conscious post would do the trick. I don't know if I've ever done a post like this that will have no beginning, middle, and end...really no purpose whatsoever aside from meeting my self imposed requirement of posting every Wednesday.

It's not like I even am posting every week because followers expect it; I hardly think anyone would notice if I didn't post. And that's not a negative thing! It's just that reading blog posts is probably not the most important thing you do all day, so one week going by without a post from me isn't the end of the world. But I really care about my consistency. I take pride in knowing that I upheld my own bargain.

Random thing of the day: I ate a chocolate croissant for breakfast. It was quite good. So good, in fact, that I inadvertently saved some chocolate for later...on my face. I was oblivious for the first hour of the day and I interacted with a few people. I am shocked to report that not one person gave me the heads up, and I had to find out myself in the bathroom mirror. They didn't say anything. They didn't make any subtle gestures. Nothing. I think it should be a rule that everyone needs to tell everyone else when they have something on their face. It's just the right thing to do, people.

So in general life update, I'm on the slow path to recovery from a foot industry. I fracture my sesamoid bone (a little bone in the tendon under your big toe) and have been wearing a boot since the start of September. I've now been given approval to wear a sneaker for a few hours a day, which is super exciting. I've been pretty down in the dumps with this whole thing because I love taking walks and being out and about. Staying at home is not fun and I've been pretty much at home for three months. I talk about keeping things in perspective all the time, but I really didn't do a good job with this one. I thought it was the end of the world. And while I'm still not back to my mobile self, I am much better and am grateful for the patience of my family and Joe through all my complaining.

Work is going well. In the last few months I have come more into my own with my confidence in my industry knowledge and, while there is still far far more to learn, I feel like I can have a decent conversation now. I will freely admit that there are many highs and lows in sales, and I am trying to find a steady mindset to come back to to balance it out. Dr. Pelham told me this would be a thing. He was right.

Friends are good, but I don't get to see them nearly enough. Ally recently visited and it went by too fast. Luckily she's coming back for Christmas, so I suppose I will have to be content with any time we can grab. Casey and I have been doing so well with our FaceTime dates, and I got to see Tina and Austen around Thanksgiving. It makes me happy to spend time with my girlfriends and the scarcity of in person interactions is making me appreciate it all the more. Or at least that's what I am convincing myself instead of being bitter about busy lives.

It's crazy to thing that we are rounding out the first year I officially wasn't in school. Graduation does not feel like a year and a half ago - it feels like it was both too long and too short of a time to have passed. Like I mentioned, I'll be putting together my end of year post soon, but we still have a month left of the year, so I won't count it as over yet!

Ok, I think that's enough rambling for one night. It felt freeing and fun to just write that way, maybe I'll do this more often. I've been thinking about making a video of next year like I used to do for each semester. Maybe I'll make a video and do a rambling post each month to accompany it. Or maybe a formal life update each month. Hmm more thought is needed on that.

Leave a comment if you made it to the end of the this post. Or if you want more posts like this. Or if you don't want more posts like this. Or just say nothing at all and go about your day. Whatever floats your boat. 


November 28, 2018

Holiday Season Etiquette

Ah, the holiday season is here! From now until New Year's Eve there will be parties, and gift exchanges, and expectations galore. With all of the added activity and stress, it's even more important to be on top of your etiquette game and putting others at ease. Here are some of my top etiquette tips for the season when things can get challenging.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's how to navigate the holidays with the proper etiquette in mind

Holiday parties

Let's talk about what you need to be aware of pre, during, and post parties.

Before the party make sure to:
  • Respond by the date specified by the host on the invitation. And be clear about if there is a plus one invited or not. 
  • Let the host know if you or anyone in the family have any dietary restrictions, and offer to bring a dish that will suit that person's needs 
  • Understand the dress code
During the party make sure to:
  • Show up on time
  • Bring a hostess gift 
  • If you're the host, greet each guest at the door
  • Socialize not only with the host or those you know at the party, but also introduce yourself to others. If you're the host, introduce guests and share a quick fact about each person to help get the conversation going. 
  • Ask if the hostess needs any help, and respect whatever answer you are given
  • Pay attention to others' signals during conversations and stay away from topics that could cause argument or discomfort. Ask questions about others and avoid talking too much about yourself. 
  • Make good decisions when it comes to alcohol and food
  • Know when to exit, and if you're the host you should walk each person out when they decide to leave
After the party:
  • Express your thanks to the host in a note
  • If you're the host and you received gifts, don't worry about a sending a note. 

Gift giving and receiving

As you know, I'm a minimalist through and through. My family doesn't exchange gifts and there are very few things I would like to receive. However, during the holidays there will be occasions where a gift is appropriate, and it's good to know the etiquette expectations.

When giving a gift, make sure to understand the appropriate budget and situation of the exchange (for example, will you be in private or exchanging gifts in front of others, etc.). Based on those factors you can choose a gift and provide a gift receipt to cover your bases.

When receiving a gift, always be gracious. Thank the person for their thoughtfulness in getting you a gift and follow up with a written thank you note as well. If the gift is not something you would use and it would be better appreciated by someone else you can regift, just be sure to give it to someone who doesn't know the original gift giver.

Also when receiving a gift you may find yourself in the awkward situation of not having a gift to give in return. You have two options here: either say thank you and leave it at that (and don't forget to send a note), or say thank you and let them know you'll get their present to them soon. Don't lie and say you already got it, or it's on its way. Simply deliver it to them at a later date.

At the end of the day, keep it simple. As we know, the goal of observing etiquette norms is to ultimately put those around you at ease. If you are gracious and thoughtful during the holidays you will have no problem enjoying this season!

What behavior are you aware of during the holidays? Any tips? Any good stories?


November 21, 2018

Back In Time: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm sure in history class you learned all about the first Thanksgiving celebration, with pilgrims and Indians coming together to celebrate. Well, today we're going to take a look at the less talked about elements of the history of Thanksgiving. Get excited for another back in time post.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here are some interesting stories about the history of Thanksgiving, from revolutionary time to present day

Washington, Adams, and Jefferson (because they're always involved)

First off, I want to say that I did not start off my research with any intention of talking about Thomas Jefferson, especially in a negative light. What can I say, he just keeps following me no matter what I try to do. So anyway, Thanksgiving began to be celebrated under that name when George Washington proclaimed the holiday at the request of congress.

In fact, it was lead by a congressman from Jersey (let's hear it for Jersey!), Elias Boudinot. Washington ended up appointing Boudinot as Director of the Mint, so you know they must have gotten on well. John Adams kept up Thanksgiving, naturally, but then Jefferson decided he'd rather (it's a whole God thing, so we're not going to get into it). Things didn't get back on track until Abraham Lincoln said enough of this back and forth, I'm making it a federal holiday in 1861.


There were a few factors that went into Lincoln deciding to make Thanksgiving a holiday on the last Thursday in November. One was a very persistent woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74 year old magazine editor. She'd been on a crusade for the past 15 years for there to be a national Thanksgiving, rather than each state deciding on their own day celebrate, and not all states participating (New England was into it, other states not so much).

Another reason was the fact that we were in the midst of a civil war and some positive feelings were definitely needed. In his public address, Lincoln tells the American people how remarkable it is that despite war they have pulled together to grow production across industries and to increase population (even with those lost in battle). And that none of this was possible without the benevolence of God.


After Lincoln, things were going super well for Thanksgiving. People hosted raffles the night before to give away turkeys, and had shooting matches the day of with turkeys and chickens as targets. Good, clean American fun. But then FDR had an idea (well, most likely Fred Lazarus, Jr. had an idea and convinced FDR. Lazarus was the founder of what would become Macy's - you'll see why this makes sense in a second).

In 1939 there were 5 Thursdays in November, so he came up with a plan to celebrate on the 4th Thursday because he wanted to give merchants an extra week to sell Christmas gifts (at the time it was considered inappropriate to advertise for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Can you imagine that?). You'll remember that it was the Great Depression, and we really can't blame the guy for wanting to put some more fire into the economy.

Well, Republicans flipped their lids and said it was an affront to Lincoln's memory. People celebrated "Republican Thanksgiving" on the last Thursday and "Democratic Thanksgiving"on the 4th Thursday. There was mass confusion (the poor football teams planned to play their last game on Thanksgiving, so they weren't about to change their schedules) and 23 states went with FDR, while 22 states did not. Texas had a crisis and just decided to celebrate both days as government holidays.

All things turkey

I wasn't really sure how to integrate these last two points. We're just calling it the turkey section.

First, since 1947 the National Turkey Federation has presented the president with a turkey, who he pardons. The turkey is then sent off to live the rest of his days in some nice place. That nice place was Disney World or Disneyland from 2005 to 2009. Not too bad for a turkey.

Second, and arguably my favorite, Butterball has a "Turkey Talk Line" where you can call in to get advice on any of your turkey needs. The line started in 1981 with the delightful group pictured below, and has continued to this day. There have been modern advancements, such as live chat and integration with Alexa, and the spirit of helpfulness remains the same.

There you have it, some of my favorite Thanksgiving history and facts!

What will you be doing to celebrate?


November 14, 2018

Minimalist iPhone Organization

I really enjoy knowing how other people organize things. Whether it's their calendars, or laptops, or closets, I am immediately interested in how people get things arranged. I've watched a few videos on YouTube recently about what people have on their iPhone and it inspired me to share how I've had my phone laid out recently. I wrote about this in 2014 and 2015, so it's high time for an update.
Click to read now or pin for later! Here's some inspiration to get your phone cleaned up like a minimalist. Time to get organized
I keep my apps on two pages, with folders for organization. I also like to have a pretty plain background so the apps will stand out clearly. While I do switch out my lock screen background frequently, I've been coming back to this marble background for a few years now for my home screen.


My three most used apps are messages, phone (duh), and calendar, so I keep those three on the dock.

Page 1

On the first page I keep Spotify, Gmail (for personal and freelance communications), Photos, Settings, Clock, Chrome, Weather, Mail (for work communication), Trello (my list making and task organization app for work and personal life), and Evernote (work and personal notes). 

I also have a folder for all of my transportation apps including NJTransit, a subway map, my bus schedule, Waze and Google maps, Uber, Via, and Lyft. 

This is the most paired down I have had my first page in recent memory. It's an attempt to keep my off my phone and to hide the more fun social apps from myself on page two. I've yet to figure out if this will work, but I'm giving it a try.

Page 2

Here come all the folders. My first folder has all of my work apps. Most I do not use on a regular basis, but have to be on the phone since it's a company device. I do use Slack a ton and really like ScanBizCards. ScanBizCards allows me to keep all of the business cards I receive digitally instead of in physical stacks. 

The next folder is my "extras" that come on the phone from Apple, but that I don't use on a regular basis. I threw my Hamilton app in there where I enter for free tickets every day because I wasn't quite sure where else to put it. 

After that we have my travel folder with airline apps for my boarding passes and hotel apps because I have become the type of person that shows up to a new place and books the hotel when I arrive. So spontaneous. 

Next we have money with my banking and investing apps. I also threw in CVS and Target because I use the apps to get discounts. 

The following folder has photo and social apps. Like I mentioned before, this is a new experiment to see if hiding the apps makes a difference in my usage level. I'll have to report back on the usefulness of this tactic. 

Life360 is an app that lets my family know where I am, MoviePass is a disaster but I already paid for up until March, so there it stays, Podcasts is self explanatory, and then we have Kindle and Goodreads for all of my reading needs

There it is! A minimalistic approach to phone organization, keeping just the essentials (and a few extras for fun).

How do you organize your phone? Are you a folder fan?