Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

What the hell? This year has just flown by. I know it's so cliche to say, but it's true. I guess it's because as you grow older, the ratio of one year to your entire life just keeps getting smaller and smaller so it feels like time passes by much more quickly. It sucks, but also helps me to appreciate the time I have and encourages me to do things I enjoy.
I thought I would take this final post of 2015 to round up some of my favorite moments from this year.

Friday, December 25, 2015

DIY Ugly Xmas Sweaters

Happy Christmas! We're up early today getting ready for a family party at our house. To get festive for the occasion, we spent yesterday afternoon making ugly Christmas sweaters using leftover craft materials and free garbage I got at the dollar store. (Basically, I found a box of broken stuff and asked if I could just take it and they obliged.)

I'm not really sharing any steps in this DIY because 1) I didn't do a great job documenting but 2) I just went with the flow and threw on whatever I wanted. The goal was just to make an ugly sweater so I'd say we succeeded.
I found a sparkly sweater and a sequin tank at TJ Maxx for $10 each so that's what we used as our base. On top of that, we used felt, ugly reindeer tree toppers, sequins, and faux poinsettias to decorate.

Monday, December 21, 2015

36 Hours in Philly: Video Diary

I think I've said this a few times already, but I've really been enjoying making video diaries when I'm on holiday. But, during our Philly weekend, I tried grabbing clips here and there and managed to throw together a pretty fun video diary. So, I think I'm going to try and get into videoing my smaller weekend trips too.

Anyway, I thought today's video would be a nice way to kick off Christmas week.
This one's a shorty but still a goodie. And, it's really festive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

36 Hours in Philly: Michael Solomonov Edition

Like I mentioned on Monday, I'm going to be sharing the amazing Michael Solomonov eateries that we enjoyed during our weekend in Philly. The four of us are intense about our food - we love to eat - so once we sat down to plan out our day, we were all in a tizzy once we spontaneously came to the decision to hit up three Michael Solomonov restaurants.
Last time I was in Philly, I went to Dizengoff and thoroughly enjoyed the hummus. So, S and E suggested we go to Zahav for dinner. The only available reservation was at 10PM so we decided we could eat lunch, a big happy hour with food, and a late dinner (basically, three meals plus the breakfasts we individually ate before meeting up) and as we were browsing lunch and happy hour ideas, we decided to dedicate the day to Michael.

Monday, December 14, 2015

36 Hours in Philadelphia: Christmas Edition

Over the weekend, I went to Philly (for the third time this year). I drove down with my sister to visit our cousin and her husband and to get some of the fun city Christmas lights without dragging our butts through the tourist-filled nightmare that is New York City.

We made a list of fun Christmassy activities and unintentionally had an entire day devoted to meals at Michael Solomonov restaurants; so I'm going to split my posts into two. One post will be dedicated to the Christmassy activities and the other to our experiences at three Michael Solomonov restaurants. We also did a little holiday shopping and burned at least a thousand calories walking around the city, so that'll be mixed in here too. It was a lot of fun.
After grabbing some breakfast from our favorite local bagel shop, we hit the road nice and early on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Grand Cayman: Day 5 & Video Diary

We didn't do a whole lot on our last half day on the island. We got up with the intention of relaxing and soaking up as much sun as we could before we had to leave.
Since it was an extra relaxing day, we didn't grab a GoPro and I didn't really tote my camera around much. So, I'm sharing my video diary in this post too; if you're uninterested in photos and would rather watch a video, scroll all the way down for that.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Grand Cayman: Day 4

We went on a little road trip on our fourth day. We got up nice and early so we could hit the road before the crowds gathered in Georgetown.
Because of Pirates' Week, a few of the major roads were closed in town so we had to take a short detour.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Grand Cayman: Day 3

Day 3 was definitely the most memorable day of the entire trip. Again, we woke up bright and early, got ready, and then went downstairs to borrow GoPro cameras at 8:00. We ate a quick and portable breakfast (of granola bars we'd brought from home) and then hopped in the car and drove over to the Yacht Club.
We arrived a bit early for our tour, so we walked around the docks, admiring the dozens of parked boats.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Grand Cayman: Day 2

Every morning, we were up bright and early for two reasons. One: we would go to bed at a v. reasonable hour so it was easy to wake up with the sun and two: our Marriott lent out GoPro cameras starting at 8:00 so we wanted to be downstairs to ensure that we'd get one.
After snagging our GoPro, we went over to Anchor & Den to enjoy their breakfast buffet.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Grand Cayman: Day 1

Two weeks ago, I hopped on a plane and flew down to Grand Cayman Island for a few days in the sun and on the surf.

I had been looking to close out the year with one more flight and even though Turks & Caicos was calling my name again (for $350), the $400 tickets to GCM tempted me into exploring a new island. I was happy because we managed to accomplish a good deal in five days without going overboard; we still had plenty of relaxation time and my self-made itinerary was flexible enough that we did not feel overwhelmed.
We got up bright and early on Tuesday morning and headed to the airport.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lunch and a Show

This past weekend, I did something I hadn't done in over ten years: I went to a Broadway show. I think the last show I saw was Fiddler on the Roof with Alfred Molina (who I knew better as Doctor Octopus, as Spiderman 2 had just been released). And it's not like I'm some Broadway buff that's taken a long leave of absence or anything; I've only seen three shows total (the other two being Les Miserables and The Lion King). However, being in such close proximity to the city and a subtle lover of musicals, you'd think I would have gone more often.

I think the biggest wrench has been the price. Tickets for the more popular shows tend to be rather expensive (exceeding $100 per person for decent seats) and I don't have the patience to hang around the TKTS line. So, when my aunt was coming into town from Korea and she suggested we go see something, it was a nice little excuse to drop serious dough on a show. I looked at Wicked and Matilda before my sister suggested we see something Disney. Aladdin seemed to have the most buzz and cheaper tickets so I just went for it. We ended up paying $140 for our center mezzanine seats (plus a hefty amount in fees, which I found ridiculous). But, the show was awesome so I was really happy we got to see it.
Sis and I got up bright and early and drove to JFK to pick up our aunt. She hopped in the car with her luggage and then we were off to Manhattan. I'd researched a few parking garages beforehand and found a $30 coupon for a garage on 56th so we dropped the car off and then walked over to our lunch spot.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The 10 Worst Traveling Mistakes

I'm back from Grand Cayman, which is sad, but now I get to look at all of the photos and video I captured and relive the adventures so it's not all tears. In the meantime, I have a "filler" post which is actually pretty helpful, I'd say.

Traveling will forever be one of my favorite hobbies. I love every aspect of it, from the planning to the packing to the exploring and learning. Even coming home is an amazing part of traveling because there's nothing like setting your head on your own pillow after being away for a while.

I feel so lucky to have grown up in the internet age where everything I want to know is at my fingertips. The first trip I booked on my own (to London my senior year of college with a group of friends) was done online; the research, the flights, the hotel, the tube maps, everything we needed we found online. Unlike our parents' generation, we didn't need travel agents and we didn't once have to pick up a phone. We were our own travel agents.

Having this independence was and is amazing. I love that I can cater a trip specifically to my own wants and needs. The luxury of having a travel agent is that (if he/she is a good one) he/she will give good advice and tell you want to expect on a trip but doing it all on my own means I've made a blunder here and there. I've rounded up what I consider to be the top ten worst traveling mistakes.
Luckily, I haven't experienced anything too tragic - like getting kidnapped because I was lurking around some renowned kidnap zone - but the minor tragedies listed below can certainly be prevented.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

72 Hours in NOLA: Video Diary

As promised, here is my little travel video diary from NOLA. Despite the rainy, dreary weather, I still managed to keep my camera out at all times and did my best to try and capture interesting tidbits of our trip.
I've really been loving these little videos. They're great reminders of my trips and I'm actually excited to shoot footage whenever I go on trips now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

72 Hours in NOLA: Day 3

H ambitiously woke up to go to the gym every morning so we never overslept.

On Day 3, we started the day with another walk in the French Quarter. We wanted to get some breakfast before we met up with our guide for the walking tour through the FQ and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 so we headed to the all famous Cafe Du Monde for their renowned beignets.
It was another dreary morning (thanks to Hurricane Patricia) but luckily, it wasn't raining and actually, we caught glimpses of sunshine here and there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

72 Hours in NOLA: Day 2

On Day 2, we woke up bright and early to grey skies.

We had tried to make reservations to have dinner at Cafe Amelie but they were closed for a private event. So, we did the next best thing and headed over to have breakfast at their more casual sister space, Petite Amelie.
The weather was drizzly on and off. It wasn't the best situation, however, it did create a bit of relief from the 80F weather.

Monday, November 09, 2015

72 Hours in NOLA: Day 1

Today is an exciting day for two reasons: one, I'm heading out to Grand Cayman tomorrow morning so I just have to endure one day of work this week and two, I'm finally sharing photos from my trip to New Orleans.

I flew down on Saturday morning with H and we had a glorious 72 hours in the Crescent City. The weather was a little uncooperative and we had to deal with some annoying bouts of rain which meant we didn't accomplish quite as much as we wanted to. However, we managed to eat everything we wanted to eat and I definitely boozed up more than expected so it still qualifies as a completely successful trip in my eyes. I should mention that we made lunch and dinner reservations for each day and we made it to each and every one.

The only big bummer for me was that I left my hat at the restaurant where we had our final meal. But, looking at it with a glass-half-full perspective, at least I didn't lose it at the beginning of the trip, right?
I'm going to warn you now that this (and the subsequent NOLA-related posts) will be photo heavy, especially in the food department. But I also feel like this is an announcement I make before every photo diary; I'm really predictable, aren't I?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Frank Stella: A Retrospective

Last week, D invited me to the reception of a new Frank Stella exhibition at the new Whitney Museum location on Gansevoort. I'm not usually one to go out on a Thursday night (because I'm old now and a notoriously introverted homebody amongst my friends) but since I hadn't seen D in a while and I hadn't had a dosage of art in a while, I trekked out on the train.
We decided to enjoy a fancy little meal prior to the show so we met up at Buddakan.

Monday, November 02, 2015

DIY Succulent Mugs

I bought these little $5 cat mugs a few months ago with the intention of drinking hot chocolate out of them over the winter months. However, I didn't find the shape quite comfortable enough for sipping so then I decided to turn them into little succulent pots and they turned out super cute!
You'll need:
mug (the exact mugs I have are sold out but there are similar ones at World Market)
mini succulent plants
small stones
indoor potting soil mixed with sand

Monday, October 26, 2015

36 Hours in CT: Seaside Sanatorium

Remember last month when I shared a post about a weekend in Connecticut? Well, I shared a few photos of our jaunt to the Seaside Sanatorium but I have a bunch more. I've edited them with a sepia filter and edited it to make them super creepy. And since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be so much fun to share these.

The Sanatorium was originally built as a place to treat children with tuberculosis. Then, at some point, it became a home for the elderly and then a place to treat the mentally disabled. At some point, it was a well-known fact that the patients were being abused so it was shut down. It's been closed for about twenty years and the entrances and windows are boarded up. There's a super creepy looking playground with overgrown weeds and some of the windows are broken so you can see inside.
I was hoping to capture some orbs in my photos but we didn't actually go inside. We watched some teenagers make their way inside (by climbing in from the perimeter balcony) but to be perfectly honest, I was too scared. Plus, the structural integrity is probably pretty questionable at this point so it didn't seem v. safe. (Or at least that's just an extra excuse I'm spewing to mask my cowardice.)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Apple Picking 2015

So far, autumn has been just gorgeous - *touch wood* that it stays that way - and I have definitely been savoring the sunshine and trying to take advantage of it every chance I get. There have been one or two rainy weekends, but on sunny days, we've been taking GM on hikes at a nearby park and I've been going for bike rides.

Before it got too chilly, we decided to go apple picking. Last year we didn't make it to the orchards. I think we were distracted by our trip to T&C in October and then I was too obsessed with making Thanksgiving plans in November. So this year, we went all out and ended up spending $60 on pick-your-own apples; basically, we picked 30 lbs. of apples. I'm going to be making several pies and eating at least an apple a day for the next month.
We've been going to Alstede Farms the past few years for all of our pick-your-own adventures (mostly because we like to hang out with the animals afterwards) but we visited an old favorite, Riamede, this time because they have more varieties of apples and bigger apple trees.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

DIY Medusa Costume

So I'm celebrating Halloween twice this year, once in New Orleans and a second time in my favorite city, Manhattan. Since I went pretty cliche and simple for my NOLA look (I'm going to be a cat that weekend) I decided to go with something a bit more glamorous and a little more intense for my NY weekend since I'll be closer to home and can go a bit more complicated with the makeup and accessories.

I started off thinking that I wanted to be a vampire but I didn't want to have to stick those false teeth to my canines. Then, I got thinking that it would be easy to be a Grecian goddess since I just got a new pair of gladiator sandals but that wasn't creepy enough. So, I settled on Medusa. I can wear Grecian-looking garb but I have the added fun of gold accessories and snakes in my hair.
You'll need:
snake headband
wide headband
small plastic snakes (I used about a dozen)
gold spray paint
gold glitter spray paint
green glitter spray paint
hot glue

snake hair clips
hair pins
spray-painted small plastic snakes (I used about a dozen)

snake arm cuffs / choker
gold floral wire
spray-painted small plastic snakes (I used 2 per cuff and 1 for the choker)

white flowy dress
gold belt
gladiator sandals
any other gold accessories

Monday, October 12, 2015

How To: Make a Travel Map

Last week, I wrote a post about planning a trip itinerary. In that post, one of my tips was to make a travel map. Today, I wanted to share a little more about that. And how fitting that it's Columbus Day! Sharing a map-related tutorial on a holiday devoted to an explorer is so proper. Too bad Columbus was actually kind of a d-bag but hey, he did sail that ocean blue.

In the days before the convenience of making my own electronic maps, I would just pick up a paper map at the airport or city welcome center and then scribble on the sites I wanted to see. But in this paperless era, I've since switched to an easier, cooler way of mapping. Don't get me wrong, I still love paper maps and still grab one when I can (because phones eventually run out of battery) but because I love planning trips so much (seriously, it's like a fun hobby), I love making my maps ahead of time.

So, whenever I am planning a trip, as I'm researching cool sites and yummy eateries, I pin them on a map. I used to use the pinning features on Google Maps but recently, they switched over to a feature called My Maps. For a while, I hated it because there were a lot of kinks and flaws and Google gave the option to switch back over to the old user interface. However, it seems like they've responded pretty positively to all of the feedback and I'm actually really into it now.
It's a pretty simple mapping tool but in case you're tech illiterate or you're just curious what I do to make my travel maps, I'll be sharing every step.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

DIY Draped Waistcoat (Zara-Inspired)

I have another sewing project to share today. I made it the same weekend that I made my sleeveless turtleneck dress.

I saw this amazing waistcoat from Zara last year but couldn't justify the $200 price tag so I got over it and moved on with life. But, recently while perusing Pinterest for camel-colored outerwear, I saw a pin from the Brooklyn Blonde sporting the infamous waistcoat and my love was revived.

If I couldn't justify the $200 price tag last year, I certainly couldn't justify the $400+ asking price on eBay so I decided to make my own. I took a jaunt over to JoAnn Fabrics to see what they had on offer and I found a really pretty camel-colored flannel that I knew I wanted to use. The original coat is a thicker woolen-looking material, but because it's so drapey, I think almost any fabric will work. Luckily, the sold flannels are about $3 per yard so it was definitely much more budget-friendly.
You'll need:
3 yards of camel-colored flannel
matching thread
fabric chalk or disappearing ink pen
sewing machine

Monday, October 05, 2015

How To: Plan a Trip Itinerary

I've booked two semi-spontaneous trips that are coming up in the next few weeks (New Orleans and Grand Cayman Island). A few friends were impressed when I told them that I just jumped at the cheap flights when I had the chance and then figured everything else out afterwards, all without the help of a travel agent.

After being hounded for tips and answering many questions that began with, "But how...?" I thought it would be nice to share some of my tips for planning a trip itinerary. There are some general tips mixed in with some pretty specific tips. The advice I'm sharing is targeted towards anyone who wants to book and plan a trip on their own (sorry travel agents, but we don't need your help) and of course, help you figure out where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there.
As I've mentioned countless times before, I enjoy planning so I find this is one of the most enjoyable parts of vacationing. I find it especially rewarding because planning beforehand makes the actually holiday a breeze and I enjoy myself so much more.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

DIY Lace Cat Mask

I've been excited about Halloween since early September when H and I booked our flights to New Orleans. We're going down the weekend before Halloween which is when they have their parade and party (because the actual weekend of the 31st they have their voodoo festival).

I've been debating about my costume for weeks. I wanted to do something kind of cool but low-maintenance (since I have to travel with it) and since I expect it to be 70F in NOLA, I wanted to have a light costume that wouldn't leave me sweating. Well, I found a "catsuit" (emphasis on the quotations) and decided that, though it's been done before, being a cat would be fun and classic and super low maintenance.

But, to amp it up a bit more, I decided to DIY some more elements to accompany the outfit. Instead of the typical cat ears, I got inspired by my own bib necklace (I still have tulle leftover from that project and from my woodland nymph bustier project) and I made an easy cat mask using just some fabric paint and some ribbon. I've seen a similar DIY done before but I always like sharing my own version because I list my personal tips and tricks that may help you.
You'll need:
tracing paper
black marker
puffy paint (I used black but you can use whatever color you like; there are some pretty glittery ones that could be awesome)
strip of tulle, about 4" x 8"
parchment paper
fabric glue

Monday, September 28, 2015

DIY Sleeveless Turtleneck Dress

I've been trying to pick up sewing as a hobby. I took a sewing class in seventh grade and that is literally the last time I had used a sewing machine up until two weekends ago. I decided to start with a really easy project and I hopped on my sister's machine and cranked out a dress. I love the idea that I can make something myself, not only as a cost-saving measure but also as a way to customize something that I like. Because seriously, half the time that I'm shopping, I see items of clothing that I would absolutely love if one little element was different. So, if I get good enough at sewing, I should be able to remedy that, right?

I saw a turtleneck midi dress from Forever 21 that looked like an easy enough dress to try and emulate and it was basic enough that it seemed like a great first project. And obviously, F21's price point is super affordable, but a couple of yards of grey fleece at less than $5 a yard is pretty hard to beat.
you'll need:
2 yards non-pill grey fleece
grey thread
sewing machine
measuring tape
fabric chalk or disappearing ink marker

Monday, September 21, 2015

Traveling with My Dog

Let me briefly introduce you to GM before we get into the meat of this post. GM is a smallish medium-sized dog (he weighs 22ish pounds). He's a mini-schnauzer and shih-tzu mix (schnau-tzu). He's fixed (so no grandpuppies for me), he's a total beta dog, and he is a medium energy guy.

George Michael has yet to accompany me on a flight but he has been a companion on many road trips. Luckily, he's a pretty easy-going traveler in that he loves car rides and doesn't get motion sick so it's pretty great that he can tag along when we're heading somewhere local. Traveling with a dog definitely changes the type of trip I plan. GM tends to get a bit anxious when left alone (especially in an unfamiliar place) so I have to make sure our holiday is filled with plenty of activities that he can participate in and that he is comfortable.
Here are some of my tips for traveling with a pooch in tow.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

DIY Seed Packets

I've really been loving the garden this year. Our cucumber plant has produced dozens of delicious cucumbers, we've had plenty of hot peppers, and don't even get me started on the delicious pastas we've made with fresh oregano and basil.

One surprise this year was our kale plant. We planted curly kale for the first time last year and come winter, we expected everything to die so that we could start over in the spring. Well, to our surprise, the kale plant resurrected and grew like crazy on its own. It flowered almost immediately and then produced weird long pods. After a bit of internet research, we realized the pods contained kale seeds. I ended up letting the pods dry themselves out in the sun and then I collected the seeds. And then I decided to do a little DIY for making seed packets at home.
These are so cute and a great gift idea.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Natural Beauty Oils

As much as I love lotions and creams, I've become a big fan of natural beauty products. Less processed, fragrance-free, and pure oils are my new favorite thing. I feel happy about putting good-for-me products on my face and the beauty payoff is brilliant, especially considering the price.
I buy my beauty oils from Trader Joe's because it's convenient and super affordable.

Friday, September 11, 2015

36 Hours in Connecticut: Part 2

So yesterday I mentioned that we did something super cool and I'm so excited to share it!

A few weeks ago, H posted a photo of herself pressing cheeks with a llama! She told me that there was a woman in Connecticut with a farm who breeds llamas and takes groups on hikes with the llamas. So, when we were planning our little impromptu CT weekend together, we decided to try and do another hike. Luckily for us, AJ had some slots for us!
Again, the weather gods smiled down on us and gave us blue skies, sunshine, and low-humidity weather.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

36 Hours in Connecticut: Part 1

So last weekend, I drove up to Connecticut to hang out with H and her two kitties. It was an impromptu trip but we managed to quickly plan a v. fun itinerary. The weather was gorgeous so we spent a good deal of time outside. H also did some really great research that had us dining at really delicious restaurants.
With autumn lurking just around the corner, I'm glad we had a chance to enjoy the sunshine in dresses and shorts.

Monday, September 07, 2015

How To: Pack Toiletries

Happy Labor Day! I love a good long weekend, don't you? I spent the past couple of days up in CT visiting with my friend H. We went to wineries and ate really good food and had fun and I'll be sharing some snaps soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share my toiletry bag.

In the way that FBI agents have 'go bags' ready at all times, I have my toiletry bag ready at all times. It sits on a shelf in my room, ready for me to grab and go, which makes things really easy when I'm packing for holidays and work trips and even quick weekend trips like the one I just returned from.

And along with my usual weeklong holidays (France, Turks & Caicos, Italy) and work trips (North Dakota) this past year and a half has been full of short weekend jaunts and local trips (hello, Miami, Toronto, Philadelphia, DC, Boston, Provincetown, and Philly again) which has made my little ready-to-go toiletry bag all the more convenient. And, I have some plans to do a few more weekend trips soon (including a long weekend in New Orleans) and a longer trip to a tropical island so having this guy waiting on standby all the time is so practical and super convenient.
Since my toiletry bag gets so much use, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite products and a few tips and tricks for packing them.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Hand Lettering Tips

Recently, I shared my tips for travel journaling. From that post, I received some email inquiries asking me about my penmanship and how I go about my hand lettering techniques. So, I thought I'd share some of my tips.
I don't think it's just about starting with naturally neat penmanship and totally giving up if you think you have terrible handwriting. I think you can work with your own skills, hone your craft, practice, and improve, and eventually have enough control of your hands to make letters look the way you want them to look.

Monday, August 31, 2015

DIY Caftan Dress

When I was younger, I was all about form fitting clothing because I was crazy confident in my body. I'm still quite confident and I'm still in love with a good body conscious dress but lately, I've also really been loving billowy tops. I recently picked up a super flowy linen-y tunic from Zara and have been wearing it to death. It's just so comfortable and I love that I can eat whatever I want and not have to worry about my food baby poking through.

The downside to my love of bohemian tops is that it's hard to find one that suits me. I have a rather small frame and often times, I find that flowy tops are just a little too voluminous and make me look chunkier. So, my constant solution in situations like these is to DIY. On a recent trip to Target, I found a pretty white scarf with some colorful embroidery for under $10. And decided I had to turn it into a long caftan-style dress. My sister commented that it looked like something I should wear to Mexico and I was sold because a dress meant for going on holiday? Yes, please. Especially because I'll be heading to Grand Cayman in November.
You'll need:
scarf (or fabric) - wide enough to cover your torso and create sleeves, long enough to be folded in half and be the length you want it
sharp scissors
needle & thread or sewing machine

Friday, August 28, 2015

Brunch at The Dead Rabbit

Summer always seems to just fly by so quickly. I read something the other day that said that the reason it seems like time goes by much quicker when you're older is because the ratio of let's say, one minute, to the time you've been alive gets smaller and smaller. It makes sense. I mean, the limit of 1/x as x is 0. Sorry, is that too much math? Anyway, every summer, I feel that little pang of nostalgia when I think about kids going back to (or starting) university. I miss the hectic runs to Target to pick up a new loofah and shower flip flops. I miss trying to cram everything into the car and freaking out when the garbage bag holding my comforter tears. I miss being cool and fresh and young. But, what I miss most of all is living in a community of my peers and hanging out with my friends basically every day. These days, every hangout with a friend is extra precious because it has to be scheduled and planned and takes more effort to execute.

We had barely seen each other at all this summer (despite making lofty plans to go to the beach and visit museums) so last weekend I met up with D in the city for a little girlie bonding time. I left my car at a parking garage in Harrison and hopped on the Path going to WTC and then walked down to meet her by the Charging Bull. Then, we walked around Battery Park and then headed to a supremely delicious brunch at The Dead Rabbit in FiDi.
The weather was super gorgeous. A few days before, it was humid and nasty but then a big rain came through in time to give us a supreme weekend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

48 Hours in Ithaca (Part 2)

Yesterday I shared just half of what we did during our long weekend in Ithaca and today I'm sharing the rest.

We were seriously blessed with delicious weather. Thursday evening, it stormed really hard, thunder, lightning, the works. The rest of the weekend was gorgeous with picturesque blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and most importantly, low humidity.
I already shared about our hotel, Buttermilk Falls, and the Cascadilla Gorge trail. Today, I'll be talking about Cornell (sunset over Libe Slope and the Plantations) and the Ithaca Farmers Market.

Monday, August 24, 2015

48 Hours in Ithaca (Part 1)

Ithaca, NY is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent four and a half grueling years there, learning, growing, and making friends and it will forever be a special place to me.

For a while, I was brainstorming where we should go for a fun family mini break. I thought maybe The Hamptons and then I thought maybe the Jersey Shore and looked for airbnb rentals that were dog friendly. After having some not-so-great luck finding suitable places (re: pretty but affordable), it hit me that we should visit Ithaca! None of us had been back since my sister had graduated in 2013. That's two years, which is the longest I've gone without visiting Ithaca since I first went up as a pre-frosh in 2004.

It was actually the perfect setting for George Michael; Ithaca is a great place for pooches. I'm sharing all of the fun things we did, which also happen to be dog friendly activities.

I'll be splitting this into two posts because I just have too much to share to squeeze it into one entry. And, as usual, I'm sharing all about the food over on my food blog (how appropriate).
We packed up on Thursday evening, had a restful sleep, and then got on the road around 8.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My 10 Summer Sleep Essentials

Parachute, who produce some lovely bedding, reached out and asked me if I wanted to share my summer sleep essentials. Considering sleep is one of my favorite activities, I was all for it.

Even though I'm someone who falls asleep easily and anywhere (I once fell asleep standing up at a Broadway show), I find that it can be really tough to fall asleep if it's too hot. There's something about feeling sticky and sweaty that makes me so uncomfortable that it prevents me from snoozing, even if I'm crazy tired.
Since we're in the thick of summer, I wanted to share what I do to make my bedroom a cozy haven for sleep, even in this disgusting heat.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pink Hair

I'm turning 29 this November, which makes me really nervous. I hate celebrating birthdays because I hate getting old and with the big 3-0 looming up ahead, I feel like I've only got a little over a year of youth left in my bones. In somewhat of a third-life-crisis, I've colored the ends of my hair bright pink as a final hurrah, you know, while I'm still "allowed" to do this.
This isn't my first time pink-ifying my hair. A few years ago, I added a few streaks to my hair using the Special Effects Atomic Pink which is basically the best product ever because it's incredibly vivid, doesn't have a smell, doesn't do any damage to my hair, and it lasts forever.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Balloon Festival 2015

A couple of weekends ago, I went to the Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Readington, NJ. This one was sponsored by QuickChek and it was at the Solberg Airport. There was a plethora of food stalls, booths with toys and knickknacks for sale, and games and rides. The stalls and booths were set up along the tarmac which was cool, except the black asphalt was radiating heat.
It was a spectacularly sunny day, which was lovely for watching balloons floating off into the sky.

Monday, August 03, 2015

36 Hours in Philly: Summer Edition

H and I have been biking all over the place and Philadelphia is our most recent conquest. Since her company has an office in Philly and she was invited down for a few days, we decided to take advantage of that and meet up.

My cousin and her husband were gracious enough to host us in their awesome house and the location was a prime spot for our weekend shenanigans. I shared the nitty gritty details of what we ate over on my food blog so take a look if you're into eating.
I left work early on Friday afternoon with a bag packed with summer-appropriate clothes.

Monday, July 27, 2015

50 Travel Tips

I've been compiling a list of travel tips for the past few months. I came up with 50, though I suspect I'll be able to keep adding to the list as I learn and experience more.
A lot of what I'm putting in this list has been shared before in separate posts. I thought it would be nice to compile everything.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Baby Robins

This story begins sometime in late May. Every morning, I would wake up, get ready for work, pack my lunch and head to my car, which is parked in the driveway next to a big hedge. Every morning, a bird would fly out of the bush, freaked out by my presence, and I would be just as freaked out.

Tired of being assaulted by the bird, I decided I wanted to knock the nest out. I figured it would be good for the bird too, seeing as she was having daily heart attacks anytime I walked by. Well, the nest had to stay because guess what? There were two newly hatched baby birds and an egg hanging out in there.

So, instead of being cranky about Mama Robin flying out every morning, I took this as an opportunity to get really gung-ho about nature and the circle of life and I started photographing the baby birds whenever I get a chance (re: when Mama's not home).

I can't remember if I mentioned this here, but my friend H sent me a link to a live feed webcam of baby eagles earlier in the spring. Eventually, the webcam got pooped on and then flipped upside down and I went into baby bird withdrawal so this has been a nice pick-me-up.
I've done my best to note the dates of each photo just so you have an idea of the growth progression. According to Wikipedia, the eggs are incubated for two weeks and then once they're hatched, the babies leave the nest another two weeks later, which I find fascinating because that's such a short time to grow up and learn to fly.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Brunch at Crosby Street Hotel

A few weekends ago, I met up with some friends to have brunch at the Crosby Street Hotel Restaurant. It was a cloudy and bizarrely chilly but still an enjoyable afternoon.
I live in a small town suburb about 25 miles west of the city which means I have about 72 different options for getting into New York. I can drive, take a train, take a bus, or do a combination. Since we were meeting downtown, I decided to drive into Harrison, park my car in a garage, and then take the PATH into the World Trade Center.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Introverts Make Great Travelers

I am (what I consider) a classic introvert. I need time away from humans to "recharge my batteries," if you will, and I look forward to weekends where my only plans are to be at home for a full 48 hours on my own. I thrive in my independence. I screen my phone calls and it takes me ages to respond to texts. I love deep and meaningful conversations so I can't stand idle chit chat. I'm rarely bored because my brain is always churning. People always mistake me for being shy or untalkative when in reality, I'm just processing so I can thoughtfully and productively contribute to a discussion.
What's my point? I think introverts make excellent travelers and here's why:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Travel Journaling: Sketching Outfits

As a teen, as I was deciding on where to go to University and what to study, my parents had one bit of input. They said that art was a hobby and that they would not pay for schooling if that's what I chose to study. So, I went into the super practical field of engineering. I'm not going to lie, I love math and I nerd out over some pretty dorky things and I appreciate working in a career that is plentiful in jobs and actually useful to society. However, I do wonder sometimes what life may have been like had I been allowed to study art.

I used to love sketching houses and designs for shoes. That hobby has followed me into adulthood because I like to sketch my outfits for travel. Today, I thought I'd share my sketching process with you. Prior to my Italy trip, I made an effort to document my outfit sketches and a somewhat step-by-step set of directions so that you too can be a big loser like me and draw your outfits during your trip planning.
Obviously, if you seriously suck, like, seriously seriously suck at drawing, these instructions won't be too helpful. Sorry to get all Debbie Downer on you, but that's just the truth of the matter.

You'll need:
journal (duh) or I suppose just regular paper
small scrap of paper
pencil & eraser
black marker
colored pencils, markers, watercolors - whatever you want to use to add color

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Strawberry Picking 2015

My family has started a tradition of going fruit picking at least once a year. Last year we missed strawberry season but this year, we planned ahead and made it to the fields. We always hit up Alstede Farms because we love their petting zoo.
We started the day off with some breakfast and it was basically every person for themselves. I ended up making myself some toast with avocado and tomato.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day Trip to Provincetown, MA

While I was in Massachusetts for work, I did a little traveling. As you know, I went to Boston for a weekend. During my last weekend on the road, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and I went to Provincetown, which is a little town located on the tip of Massachusetts' curly little tail.
It was a beautifully warm and sunny day, perfect for visiting a sea town.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Italy 2015: Milano Video Diary

This post is going to have a twinge of sadness to it because it's my last Italy post. I mean, last Italy post for this particular trip, not last Italy post ever because I plan on going back.
I had fun making this video since it was the only city we visited and we saw several beautiful monuments, which made it different from the small towns we went to.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Italy 2015: 48 Hours in Milano (Part 2)

I think we made a wise decision spending two days in Milan. It's a big enough city that you need some time there, but it's small enough that you don't need an entire week.
Our second day was a little cloudy with a mist of rain here and there but we toted along our umbrellas and made the most of it.
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