5 Things I Love About Living in DC

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Happy spring from DC! It got so, so hot when I was out and about on Sunday that I began to dread summer in this city…but at least in the mornings it’s nice and cool, which makes walking to work extra nice.

It’s funny because on my walk to work I pass a few of the places where I used to sit and hang out before going to my internship the summer after my freshman year of college. My dad works downtown and I was living at home, of course, so we would drive in together and he would drop me off right by the Corner Bakery on 19th and L…which I now pass every day! It’s so funny to think that back when I was 18 I had zero idea that several years down the line, I’d be working full-time right in that same neighborhood! A few things have changed about the area, but others are 100 percent the same, although I definitely have a MUCH better sense of my whereabouts now (even though I grew up about 15 minutes away from the city, downtown DC always seemed sort of confusing and foreign!).

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While NYC will always have a special place in my heart, I absolutely love living back in my “hometown” and wanted to share 5 reasons why I love DC (even as someone who doesn’t work on the Hill or have plans to run for office one day!).

  1. The diversity. I love living in a city with such a broad mix of people from different places and backgrounds. DC is truly a city full of transplants–whenever people learn I’m a native, they’re shocked! I feel like most of my friends here came from all over, whether they moved here for college, right after college, or even more recently than that.
  2. Being close to home. I weirdly never made it home that much my first year back–when I was living alone and in Georgetown, I liked to just have my family over at my apartment or meet them at a restaurant. However, now that I can easily hop on the red line, I’ve been going home a lot more and truly appreciate it–it’s so nice to escape reality and spend time with my parents a few weekends a month!
  3. The “touristy” element. Even though I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years, I’m still always amazed when I pass the Washington Monument or realize how close I live to the White House. It’s fun to sometimes try to see the city through a tourist’s eyes and remember what a cool place it is to live! I also love that because it is a touristy spot, people are visiting all the time, making it easy to catch up with college friends or other people I know who are coming down for a quick weekend trip.
  4. The entertainment. I’ve seen so many interesting shows and speakers in DC–Mari Andrew’s talk at Sixth & I was so uplifting and fun, and I’m going back there to see Dan Pfeiffer of Pod Save America in July. There is always something to do here and entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive, either!
  5. The location. I love being between the North and the South–it makes it easy to travel to several different places, and there’s an interesting mix of different regions at play. I definitely appreciate how easy it is to travel up to NYC for a weekend but also how close we are to places like the Outer Banks, the wineries in VA (most of which are still on my list), and the like.

What are your favorite parts about your city?

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How to Set Yourself Up for a Good Week

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Happy Friday! Who’s watching the Royal Wedding tomorrow? I don’t know how early I’ll be getting up, but I definitely hope I to tune in a bit. Then it’s off to a bridal shower and a little get together…I feel like my weekends are always either jam-packed or wide open! This week has been busy at work since it’s graduation time, but it’s been super exciting watching everything unfold. I hope your week has been a good one!

Bookmark this post for Sunday evening….In addition to the basics (doing errands/laundry, tidying up the house, sorting through bills and random mail/packages), these are a few of my favorite things to do to prep for the week.

Do a Sunday workout. As much as I always just want to lie in bed on Sunday afternoons, I really love my Sunday workouts because they kick the week off in such a positive, productive manner. I know Sunday is a common day to take off from the gym, but I’d much rather skip Friday/Saturday (when I’m most tired and busier). I sometimes take a spin class in the early afternoon and enjoy getting my exercise out of the way if I have afternoon/evening plans, but I also really like my 7 pm end of day Sunday workouts at the gym. By that time, it’s usually pretty empty, making for a peaceful experience, and it’s late enough in the day that I’ve gotten most of my must-dos out of the way, so I can go home and make dinner, prep for the week, and read a bit in bed for an hour or so. I sometimes joke that I really waited until the last possible moment to cram in exercise (especially because my gym closes at 8), but as the saying goes, better late than never!

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Try a new healthy recipe. I just ordered this blender off Amazon and it’s so easy to use and clean (I previously owned a blender that was basically impossible to wash out all the way, ick!). I’ll admit I’m not great at meal prep, but I had a friend in New York who would devote her entire Sunday afternoon each week to making sure all of her lunches and dinners were ready to go. I feel like usually by Sunday afternoon I’m ready to detox from “weekend eating” and am eager to make something that’s tasty but not totally awful for me!

Read something for fun. Oftentimes during the week I’m too busy or tired to just sit down and read at night (though I’m really making this more of an effort!). I love to either read a few chapters of a book (or a whole one), catch up on blogs, scroll through Buzzfeed, whatever…doing a bit of non-work reading is still better than binging on TV all day (though sometimes that’s totally what the doctor ordered!).

Set out (or mentally brainstorm) outfits for the week. I used to religiously do this when I was younger, and now I like to have a few options set out in my closet prior to the start of the week. If I have a big event (like some of the graduation festivities I attended last week), I want to have options in mind prior to the day of, as there’s nothing worse than trying things on and realizing they just don’t work for the occasion. If I haven’t worn a particular piece of clothing in awhile, I’ll do a little try on to make sure it still looks the way I want it to and is appropriate for the specific event I have that week (not too long, too short, too see-through, etc). Little steps like these help you avoid the “I have nothing to wear” feeling, big time!

How else do you prep for the week ahead? I love getting glimpses into other people’s routines–anyone else feel the same way?

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Moving to DC? Here are 3 Logistical Things You Need to Know

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Lately it seems like more and more people who I know from various parts of life are relocating to DC, which is super exciting and has also allowed me to be the resident “expert” in a number of cases. I love browsing apartment listings and scouting things out for friends, so I definitely have zero complaints when people come to me with questions! Plus, now that I’ve lived in a couple of different neighborhoods and housing situations, I feel like I can offer a little more perspective than I could have last year–my go-to line is that while I loved how quaint and beautiful Georgetown was, I’m much, much happier living over in Dupont where there’s just so much more going on AND there’s easy access to public transportation!

Since graduation time is around the corner and even more people will likely be moving to the city, I put together a quick logistical guide for new Washingtonians featuring the top 3 questions that people have been asking me!

1) Do I need a car? 

If you’ve been living in a drivable city and can’t imagine life without your car, definitely go ahead and bring one. Plenty of people drive here, especially if they don’t live right in the city, and certain neighborhoods are almost impossible to live in without a car (like Glover Park, for example). However, parking generally isn’t free, and even if you find a spot on the street, it can be complicated if you have out of state plates (and from what I’ve heard from friends, changing the plates can prove to be a hassle). A girl I carpooled with at my old job ended up just buying a spot from a friend and parking there instead of changing her plates because it was going to be an extensive process and she wasn’t sure how long she’d be living in the area. That said, while having a car can be convenient, especially in certain areas, you absolutely don’t NEED a car by any means to live in DC (for starters, I don’t even have a license and I’m managing just fine! Cough cough, thanks, Uber…). If you live and work in the city and are comfortable taking the bus/metro every day, it’s much, much easier to just use public transportation. The metro is super efficient and everyone takes it! However, if your job isn’t on the metro and you have access to a car, you have a little more flexibility in terms of where to live, whereas since I rely on public transportation, I always had to live somewhere with some kind of access to a train or bus.

2) Which areas are “safe”?

I put safe in quotation marks, because aside from the obvious “no no’s” (which will become apparent from a quick Google search/crime map) every place can have a bit of good and bad (even in Georgetown, which most people would probably consider the nicest/”safest” spot, there are still muggings and loiterers). DC is still a city no matter where you go, and you always need to be vigilant! That said, I’ve always tended to veer toward pretty “traditionally safe” areas and have been happy with my choices. I did have one friend from growing up who lived in an area that seemed nice enough when she moved in but ended up being full of muggings and stabbings, and she decided to move back home with her parents as a result. Obviously, not everyone has that option, so doing research ahead of time is key. DC has so many unique and diverse areas that each have their own vibe, so I’d recommend going out and exploring as many places as possible. Take public transportation to get around and try to recreate your routine/commute as much as possible. Also, note that what’s safe or preferable for one person may not be for another. For example, as a girl living alone, I always opted for second floor or higher units that were a quick walk from the bus/metro stop, whereas a guy may not factor these aspects into his decision-making. You just want to choose something that’s practical and won’t inconvenience you or make you feel nervous as you go about your day-to-day routine. To get more specific with locations, I have friends/acquaintances who live or have lived in the following neighborhoods and seem to enjoy them: Dupont, Logan Circle, Eastern Market, Woodley Park, Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Georgetown, Glover Park, Columbia Heights, Navy Yard…these are all pretty popular areas among 20-30-s0methings!

3) What’s meeting people/dating like? 

It’s what you make of it. In my experience, it’s pretty much the same as in any East Coast city, although there are a TON of transplants (whereas when I lived in Philly, it felt like there were a lot more locals). This is a good thing if you’re also new to DC, and even as a “native,” I actually really like it because it makes the city so much more interesting. There is definitely a big political presence as to be expected, but people work in all types of different fields so if that’s not your thing, you’ll be able to branch out. Some of my coworkers do social sports leagues or there’s always Meetup and similar groups, though I personally haven’t tried them. I’ve actually met most of my new DC friends through blogging, but I have friends living in major cities who have joined running groups/yoga studios, volunteer, and the like!

As always, feel free to DM me or email me with more DC questions…I could literally write a novel about living in this city!

 

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The Basket Purse + Our Roof + DIY Plans

Basket purses, while definitely not the most practical accessory, have become an obsession of mine. Sure, they’re super popular right now, but I also love how stylish and unique they are. You can truly find so many variations of the same overall style, and as someone who appreciates a good hunt, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with tracking down different styles (my collection could definitely stand to be pared down a bit!).

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The other night, I grabbed this basket purse that I snagged on Poshmark sometime last year–I’d highly recommend browsing for these kinds of bags on Poshmark, eBay, or Etsy, because you can find some great vintage styles that way!

I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this bag and think it’s such a fun alternative to my usual crossbody or tote. They’re so laid back and summery!

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Speaking of summer, it’s officially rooftop season in DC! We’re having a small get together in a few weeks to celebrate having a little outdoor space. We’re so lucky to have a little outdoor area that’s only accessible via our unit. It’s been so relaxing to drink wine up there or catch up with each after work, and my roommate has done a great job making the space look super bright and peaceful with all of her plants (if only I, too, had a green thumb!).

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Do you have any outdoor entertaining plans? I brought a rattan bar cart back from my parents’ house the other day and am planning on spray painting it white to make it a little more crisp-looking. It’s a thrift store find that I picked up in Florida a few years back (we had driven down) and never got around to re-furbishing. It’ll be an easy little project and then we’ll have a little serving area when we entertain outside–I’ll just have to bring it inside in the evenings, as it probably shouldn’t get wet. I’ll be sure to share more on Instagram Stories when it’s complete!

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Spring Shopping Favorites

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Happy Monday! It’s back to the grind after a fun little getaway to Bermuda for a work trip last week. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to go but also that my passport was up-to-date! It expires next spring, so I need to get that taken care of…I would’ve been so disappointed if it was expired and forced me to say no to this experience!

Now that spring is finally in the air (as is tons of pollen…), I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites for the season. I’m lusting over all of these but am trying to curb my shopping a bit this month since I have a few trips coming up in June.

I’m a sucker for a good wicker bag and I spotted this one on Kate’s blog awhile back. It’s not back in stock but looks like it will be on its way later this month, so I’ve signed up for an alert. You would NEVER believe that it’s under $20!

By mow everyone probably knows about my obsession with all things cane/rattan, and these shoes do not disappoint…plus, they look pretty comfortable!

Speaking of shoes (which is funny, because I’m really not a shoe person…bags/tops are more my speed), these lemon slides look PERFECT and may have to go in my shopping bag…(actually, the palm leaf pattern is equally adorable, so now I’m undecided!).

I’ve been breezing through books and want to read this and this…adding to my wish list! I think Slone Crosley is hilarious and am bummed I couldn’t attend her book talk in DC in April!

Ok, I’m not getting this exact chair, because $$$$, but I want to find one like it for reading outside/inside. I sat in one in Savannah and fell in love. I’m so excited to spend more time out on our roof as the weather warms up!

What’s on your spring shopping list?

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Easy Organization Projects

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While I appreciate clean and organized spaces, I’m definitely not a minimalist (the extra furniture that I’ve been keeping in my parents’ basement for “one day” speaks for itself). However, while I like collecting certain pieces, I never want my space to be cluttered (so off my furniture goes to someone else’s house for safekeeping, ha!) and would rather do mini cleanouts/cleanups frequently rather than putting off a big clean until the end of the week/month.

It’s obviously hard to keep up with this year round (I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick, my room becomes one gigantic mess, for example), but even when I’m busy with work and other commitments, I feel like I’m happier and more productive when I’m leaving a clean house in the morning. Living in little apartments means that cleaning and organizing fairly frequently is basically a requirement, since storage isn’t unlimited and small spaces can go from cute to cluttered super quickly. To keep things from getting too chaotic, few things that I try to do every couple of months are:

-Sell clothing to my favorite consignment store or arrange a Salvation Army pickup. I love being able to make extra cash off clothes that I’m no longer wearing anyway (plus, more closet space!) and I like selling in real life a bit better than on Poshmark because you can drop everything off in one trip and get paid on the spot. Mustard Seed is one of my favorite places to sell, and I generally bring in one bag of clothes per season. Of course, some days I have better luck as a seller than others, but I’d say I usually leave having made $60-70, which is definitely worth it in my opinion. I also like scheduling Salvation Army pickups when I have a few bags ready to go (you can usually make appointments about three to four days out, which is super convenient). Since I don’t have a car, it’s nice to be able to leave everything out front in the morning knowing it’ll be on its way to a good home by the time I get home from work.

-Go through old beauty products. I used to have SO many beauty products back when I worked in magazines. We had “beauty closet sales” a couple of times a year, and these were basically every blogger/girl’s dream–tons of designer/drugstore products being sold at $2-5 a pop! I amassed more Essie nail polish than I know what to do with! I also went to a lot of press previews and got mailers with fun items (again, no complaints there) and my NYC bathroom was about ready to explode. Even though I’ve edited my collection a bit over the years, it seems like skincare/lotion/makeup products still pile up, so I make a point to try to fit everything in two of these bins that I keep in my bathroom. When they’re getting full, I’ll do a quick sort through of everything in there and toss items that are old or are things I didn’t enjoy or just don’t use anymore. I’m actually someone who doesn’t love having a huge assortment of products to pick from (…this is why I’m not a beauty blogger) because it kind of overwhelms me, so I have zero problem parting with stuff!

-Clean out the fridge/freezer. I’ve become better at this now that I share this space with a roommate and don’t have an entire fridge to myself. It’s also satisfying to use up products (wow, I officially sound like an old lady) and make sure nothing is going to waste. Sometimes I find frozen meals in the back of my freezer that I totally forgot I bought or realize that things expired and need to be tossed. (Speaking of beauty products, I also keep my jade rollers in the freezer and want to make sure they don’t get lost in the shuffle!).

-Organize my closet. It seems like no matter how organized my closet is after a cleanout, it always gets full again (especially because I keep my hamper, suitcase, several radiators, and lots of other random stuff in there). It’s super easy to just do a quick clean on a weekend afternoon and I always feel so much more put together afterwards (I really don’t know why, since it’s not even an area that anyone else sees!).

I’ve also ordered these bags for underbed storage and they’re working well so far. It’s important to maximize dead space in any way possible, and I’ve been happy with how much these can hold (I keep extra blankets and even picture frames inside).

Photo by Heather Bien

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The Big Book Recap

You know when you just feel so behind on something that you keep putting it off because it no longer seems relevant? That’s how I’ve felt with this book post. I’ve been reading a lot more these past few months than I had been in the fall, and my book roundups are always a favorite, but I’ve been so bad about logging everything on here.

Right after I moved, I was also in the middle of a job search, trying to get to know my new neighborhood, and the like, and reading fell on the back burner–I found that I was much happier watching a Grey’s Anatomy episode on Netflix than curling up with a book! My old job was also much more reading/writing intensive, so I didn’t always want to come home and sit down with a book or even craft a blog post.

BUT here we are! I’ve finally taken the time to crank out a monster book roundup for you guys and will try to be more consistent with these going forward. I personally like publishing monthly reading lists on here because it helps me keep track of everything I’ve read in a given year. Note that in some cases, I haven’t thought about a book for months, so the Amazon description may do better justice than anything I could write at this point. (So admittedly, this is more of a list than a full-blown recap!).

In no particular order, here’s what I’ve read:

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The Last Mrs. Parrish – How come thriller characters are always so likable at the beginning and then become INSANE by the end? This is another example of that! I was hooked and absolutely thrown for a loop when I realized what the other characters knew by the end.

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Unbelievable – An amazing depiction of the craziness of the 2016 election and what exactly it was like being a part of the Trump campaign as a reporter. You don’t have to be any kind of political junkie to enjoy this read–I honestly felt like I was there with Katy through every interview, trip, and meltdown.

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Gone Without a Trace – A woman picks up the pieces after she realizes her boyfriend has left their shared home and taken everything with him…but is someone watching her, and is it him? The ending will shock you!

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My Husband’s Wife – Complete with multiple stories in one that all tie back together, this is a great read for thriller-lovers. Again, betrayal is a common theme here…

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Fitness Junkie – This was a fun parody about what it’s like living in a fitness, green juice-obsessed world. It’s the perfect rom-com type of book that will leave you nodding along and laughing. The overall premise about the main character needing to lose weight is a bit ridiculous, but that’s part of the absurdity of the book.

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Still Me – Ugh, such a good read. I love all of Jojo Moyes’ books but especially the Me Before You series, and this was the perfect ending to Louisa’s adventures (plus, this time she’s in NYC, which made it extra fun to read!).

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Text Me When You Get Home – This was a Girls Night In book club read, although I couldn’t end up going to the actual discussion. It’s an insightful read on female friendships and how much we matter to one another–it’s heartwarming for sure!

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Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman – This is a Girls Night in book club read from forever ago. I loved it–but I also love Anne Helen Petersen–so I knew I was in for a treat before I even cracked it open. Each chapter is focused on a famous woman (ranging from Melissa McCarthy to Kim Kardashian) who has been deemed “too” something. Petersen discusses the implications of these labels and stereotypes; the discussion we had as a book club was super gripping!

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The Wife Between Us – I’m putting this on here even though I’m only halfway through it right now, but I’m already enjoying it. Like a lot of thrillers, it switches back and forth between two narrators who share a current/former husband and each have a secret they’re hiding.

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Hello Sunshine – This was a rom-com like read about the difficulty that ensues when a famous chef’s life falls apart after she’s proven to not be as talented as everyone thinks. I loved it when I picked it up but became a little less interested over time.

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Unstuffed – This is a self help book that several people had recommended on Instagram, so I was curious and picked it up. I ended up mostly skimming through because it was hard for me to stay interested in every chapter. It also had a lot of religious messaging that didn’t really resonate with me, but overall some of the tips about managing stress and clutter were useful.

My favorite? I’d have to say The Last Mrs. Parrish. Unbelievable and Still Me were close seconds (and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m really skipping around across genres!). The Last Mrs. Parrish was such a good classic thriller that kept me up late into the night. Unbelievable is a must for anyone fascinated by the outcome of the 2016 election, and Katy Tur is a likable narrator. Still Me = sob city but so good, as are all of Jojo Moyes’ books.

What have been your favorite reads lately?

 

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A Weekend in Savannah

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I’m back in DC after a fun, quick trip down South to Savannah! It was a blast spending a few days away from my normal routine and catching up with two of my close college girlfriends. Since we’re spread out all over the country (one lives in NYC and the other is in Madison, Wisconsin), it was nice to have a designated trip planned to ensure we could all see each other. Last year, our group got to catch up a lot more due to a couple of close friends’ weddings!

We picked Savannah due to its proximity (my Madison-based friend travels for work and is up and down the East Coast a lot) and the fact that none of us had been there before. It’s a quaint, relaxing Southern city and was definitely smaller than I realized. We were able to cover a lot of ground in the 2.5 days we were there, which was nice because we didn’t feel as if we had to skip anything major due to the short nature of our trip.

Our Airbnb was on West Jones Street in the Historic District, which I found to be the perfect spot! It reminded me a bit of Georgetown and was full of quintessential Southern houses. Plus, the Historic District was pretty near most of the things we wanted to do downtown, and nothing was more than 20 minutes away by foot (we only Ubered once to see the Bonaventure Cemetery, which was out of town a bit). As a result, we covered TONS of ground on foot both days–we walked over 20,000 steps on both Thursday and Friday and spent some time walking around Forsyth Park on Saturday morning before heading to the airport…thank goodness we got our exercise, because it felt like 90 percent of the trip was eating and drinking!

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Speaking of eating and drinking…On Thursday, we had lunch at the Olde Pink House (a highly recommended spot) after doing a bit of exploring at the Paris Market (which was adorable–I had to grab a macaron!) and the other cute shops in downtown Savannah. In the afternoon, we grabbed slushy drinks at Wet Willie’s and walked around a bit before going back to our Airbnb, relaxing, and changing for dinner/happy hour before our ghost tour. I think I’d heard about Savannah’s open container laws before, but it totally slipped my mind until we got there. However, we were in for a pleasant surprise, because it was actually super nice being able to “bar hop” during the day and stroll around town with drinks in hand. Our ghost tour didn’t start until 9 pm (we arrived with beer in tow), so we had lots of time to kill and tried out a fun bar as well as the Little Duck Diner, another spot that I was told was a must!

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I’ve become a big fan of ghost tours in recent years, and this one did not disappoint! It’s funny because these used to really not be my thing, so I didn’t even go on one when I studied abroad in Edinburgh! I’m glad I’ve changed my mind since, because they’re actually a really neat way to learn more about a city’s history. We were told that Savannah is thought to be the most haunted city in the US, so the $30 tour was definitely worth it.

On Friday morning, we had brunch at the Ordinary Pub, visited the Bonaventure cemetery, and then walked around the downtown area of Savannah again, stopping for ice cream at Leopold’s, which was delish! Then, we did what was probably one of my favorite things of the trip (don’t judge…), a pedal pub ride! I had never done one of these before and while they’re very bachelorette party-esque, we still had fun doing one as a group of three and meeting some other tourists (there was even a couple in their 70s on ours!). We all had a blast hopping from bar to bar and talking with our tour guide, and it was a great way to see more of the city (although by that point, we’d already felt like we’d passed everywhere multiple times).

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We were exhausted in the evening and ended up going out for a late dinner and spending time relaxing in the Airbnb before getting an early start on Saturday morning in order to explore Forsyth Park and grab breakfast before catching our flights home. While we felt like our trip was pretty short, we honestly probably wouldn’t have needed another day to do anything else (aside from eat more!) since we had managed to check almost everything off of our must-see list.

Have you been to Savannah?

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How I Make Quick Purchase Decisions When Thrifting

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If you’re anything like me, you want your house to be DONE the week after you move in (although let’s be real…if you’re actually like me, you believe that the decorating process is never truly over and can always be ongoing, ha!). If you’re anything like a lot of other people I know, you’re much slower putting your home together, thinking carefully about each purchase, deliberating (maybe too much) on what should go where, and feeling no pressure at all to get things in place for several months. This is actually the better approach–you can definitely tell when a home is pieced together quickly and doesn’t look quite right, so it makes sense to wait and pick out the right pieces. Plus, decorating a home is expensive, and it just isn’t really feasible to complete everything at once unless you already own most of the items you need.

However, when thrift shopping, all of these rules (kind of) go out the window. You often have to make a decision quickly, whether you’re browsing on Craigslist or out at a secondhand store or estate sale. The worst thing is going back and forth on an item and then realizing that someone else emailed about it or snagged it in the meantime.

Of course, there are times I’m browsing and know I absolutely love something and then it’s super simple. But even as someone who is eager to snag things the minute I see them, it can be hard to know for sure what function a piece will serve when I bring it home.

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What do I do when I think I like a certain piece of furniture but am pressed for time to make a decision? Pull up Pinterest! This is especially helpful if I’m not home and can’t fully visualize how something will look in my space. I keep the Pinterest app on my phone, and if I’m on the fence about getting something or know I want it but don’t know how to style it, I’ll do a quick search. This was super helpful when I was debating whether or not I wanted to buy my peacock chair (I’m so glad I did! I’ve been talking about it on Instagram Stories but will have to post a picture on here soon). I wasn’t sure how I would style the chair or what area it should go in or even if it would match the rest of my decor, and after looking at a few different examples on Pinterest, I felt much more confident in my purchase!

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I’ve also turned to Pinterest before purchasing my gold trunk off of Craigslist (I’m so glad I realized it would make a great coffee table!) and the little Turkish rug I have beneath it, which was one-of-a-kind on Etsy. I honestly probably would’ve just set the trunk in a corner but felt much more inspired when I realized it could totally be multi-purpose and stylish.

Do you still use Pinterest regularly? I was talking with a few blog friends the other day about whether it’s still relevant, and I think YES! I still find a bunch of new accounts this way and love following my favorite bloggers on there for more of a “behind-the-scences.” You can add me right this way!

Photos by Heather Bien 

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How to Pitch Your Home to a Design Website

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I get a lot of emails and questions from friends and strangers alike asking me the same question: “How do I get my apartment featured on XYZ website” (or more often, “How do I get my apartment featured on Houzz?”). I realized that I’ve never actually done a post addressing how I did this, so here goes!

Since graduating college, one of my goals was to have my home featured in an online publication such as The Everygirl, The Glitter Guide, and the like. I’ve been reading these sites for years and have always swooned over the home tours that they publish. Even long before I had a blog, I always found myself so inspired and intrigued by the real-life, relatable people profiled on these sites and really wanted to share my own space with their audiences. Then, when I did start my blog about a year and a half ago, I realized that being featured on a site would be a great way to continue to build blog traffic and attract a larger audience. I guess this is similar to how a fashion blogger would want to be featured in a style roundup–both to showcase their own personal style and to garner more exposure for their brand.

Hado Photo

Since I’m not any sort of photographer, I knew I would need to outsource the shoot and hire a professional to take quality photos. Back when I was living in Philly for grad school (and before I started my blog), I had emailed a few iPhone photos of my apartment to someone at a major lifestyle site that was accepting pitches. She soon responded and said that they would be willing to set up a shoot with a local photographer. I was thrilled, but unfortunately that never came to fruition because they didn’t have a freelancer in the Philly area (and now the site has changed how they do home tours, so I don’t think they’re accepting new submissions). I guess that’s step number one in scheduling a shoot with a publication–nothing is final until it’s final! Someone can love your space, but it can take awhile to set everything in motion and actually schedule a shoot.

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When I moved to DC in the summer of 2016 and subsequently started my blog, I was thrilled to decorate my new apartment and hopefully feature it online, be it on my blog or elsewhere (writing and blogging has always been my first love and I really just wanted to be able to share pictures with you all!). As always, moving and redecorating somewhere new is always a process, so it took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to arrange everything my new apartment. Once I felt like my space was more complete, I started looking around at area photographers with reasonable rates. I found Ryan, and we scheduled a shoot for early 2017. (It was funny, because I think I emailed him some preliminary photos right before Thanksgiving, and by the time the shoot took place in late January, so many areas looked completely different!). After getting the photos back later that week, I then pitched a feature to several of my favorite sites and sent them the Google Drive link to Ryan’s photos. Since I’ve worked in PR and magazines, writing a pitch wasn’t too difficult–if you haven’t written one before, just think of it as creating an “about me” blurb about your space. In my email to each of the editors, I gave a little bit of background about myself and then described my apartment and decorating style while also establishing a bit of an angle (which was that most of my stuff was thrifted/secondhand). I then pressed send, and to my surprise, I began to get responses a few weeks later (the first one came from The Everygirl while I was sitting on the beach prior to a friend’s wedding, and I was overjoyed!)!

I will say that while I’m glad that I hired Ryan to shoot my apartment not knowing what would happen (since, if anything, I wanted to have some high quality pictures for my blog), I was essentially providing these places with free photographic content, since I had paid for the shoot out of my own pocket. A few of my coworkers at the time asked if the sites were paying me to be featured, which didn’t even occur to me! But honestly the traffic that the features brought to my blog and Instagram was well worth it–I have gained several new readers, and more importantly, I’ve connected with a wonderful online design community! Just know that unless a place reaches out to you specifically and agrees to connect you with a photographer (like I do with the people we profile on Houzz), YOU are the one fronting the cost if you’re pitching pre-shot pictures.

Hado Photo

However, another great aspect about hiring a photographer on my own was that I own these photos and can use them however I’d like, even though they’ve now been published. When Apartment Therapy shot a longer feature in my apartment last June, they produced some amazing images, but I can’t really use them on my blog as I please due to the limitations of that contract (I’d even emailed the photographer and I asked if I could purchase any of the outtakes from that shoot that didn’t make it into the feature, but unfortunately that wasn’t allowed either). For Houzz, we also usually request that people embed the story images into their blog rather than just posting however they wish.

…speaking of Houzz! After I pitched my apartment to them, my now-editor asked if Ryan and I would be interested in working as a freelance team in the DC area. Of course I said yes, I’ve had a blast scouting out people to feature this way and have really enjoyed making design writing part of my “side hustle.” We started last May and I can’t believe we’ve been at this for almost a year now! We’ve been tasked with completing one shoot/feature a month, so it’s been a wonderful way to connect with fellow bloggers and creatives all year long.

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And now the most important part…having been on both sides of the submission process, I have a better sense of what places want to see when you’re pitching:

-If you’re pitching pre-shot photos, make sure they line up with the “aesthetic” of that specific publication. A lot of sites that are popular now seem to value crisp, almost over-exposed shots, so I specifically requested that Ryan edit mine in that manner, which I think helped a lot. Also, details are great, but readers want to get a sense of an apartment’s overall layout, too. The Everygirl even requested that I draw a diagram of my space (I was out of town for a wedding that weekend, so I had to run to the grocery store and buy a pen and notepad and draw it at the kitchen table at our Airbnb, whoops!). I think people love the Pinterest-friendly vignettes that we often see but genuinely want to know where different rooms are located, etc. A lot of times when I’m reading the comments on Apartment Therapy features I notice that this is something people want.

-Having a hook helps–maybe you’re a mom whose designed a really cool playroom for your kids or is able to maintain a stylish, kid-friendly home without sacrificing style. Maybe you’ve done an adventurous renovation or some neat furniture makeovers. But there’s no one perfect formula–and it often isn’t just one person making the decision whether or not to accept a pitch. However, if you don’t have a “hook” or feel like your home is too “normal” to pitch, you could be wrong! So many people feel like their home isn’t it definitely isn’t photo shoot ready when oftentimes that isn’t the case. It isn’t about having the best or the nicest stuff–by no means do you have to be a blogger or well-known or have $5,000 furniture to be selected! We’ve featured a lot of really cool DIYers on Houzz who have made their spaces look fabulous on a budget.

-Don’t forget about the little touches that take a shoot to the next level. Obviously we don’t all keep flowers in our bathrooms or keep sliced lemons on a cutting board in our kitchen all of the time (at least I don’t!), but little additions like these make a room more photo-ready. Just think of your upcoming shoot as an excuse to treat yourself to a few bouquets, a special bottle of soap, or a new candle…I know I do!

-Home shoots are tiring. For not even being in most of the pictures, I don’t know why I always feel so wiped out after these. But managing a shoot can be exhausting! By the end I’m always ready to eat all my props (I always put out fresh fruit or croissants for a “lived in” touch, haha) and take a nap for three hours. The photographer may want to do their own thing or they may want to chat with you the entire time, but either way, it helps if you pick someone you know well and feel comfortable with (this is obviously key when you’re inviting anyone to essentially sift through every room of your house!).

-Additionally, keep in mind that if your pitch is picked up, your home WILL be on the internet (and given the nature of the internet, people are *generally* nice but can be weird/creepy. I didn’t let the AT photographer take pictures looking out the windows in my old apartment because I lived alone in a small building and didn’t want people to know exactly where I was. I still won’t post pictures of the outside of my building just to be safe. While I’d say that 95 percent of the comments on my features were super nice (like, so nice…I was blown away), there are always people who misunderstand what you’re doing/make assumptions/are having a bad day/whatever. But that’s no different than regular blogging, I suppose…(or in interactions with people you know in real life, for that matter). The key is to either respond gracefully or just not respond at all!

If you have any other questions about the process, don’t hesitate to shoot me a note!

Happy photographing!

Photos by Hado Photo 

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