Dog Days of Summer

I know everyone is saying this, but summer truly FLEW by. I’ve done more traveling this year than I have in years past (NYC, Florida, Cape Cod, West Virginia, and Paris!) and have also been busy with work, blog projects, and more. So no complaints on my end! But it feels like summer just began (and working at a school, you notice when fall is around the corner!).

While I’ve still done a lot of DC exploring on the weekends I’ve been home, there are a few more things on my list for late August…who’s joining me?!

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1) Visit the infamous (or should I say Insta-famous!) rosé garden: I’ve been wanting to check this place out for ages rosé-loving friends and go check out the adorable palm leaf and pink and white striped decor before it closes for the summer! Was this place made for me or what?!

2) Log another pool day or two. I had been hoping to spend lots of time at the pool the last weekend I was home, but the weather ended up being awful, so I tore through my “beach reads” inside, haha. The free pool in my neighborhood has been awesome because I can go as much or as little as I want without spending a cent! Bring a book, some snacks, and some friends and you’re all set. Who says 20-somethings are too old for pool days?

3) Spin, spin, spin. I have birthday credits from two of my favorite spin studios which expire before the end of the month. Shouldn’t be a problem for me (I love both places), but I actually haven’t used either yet since they’re a bit out of the way and my normal gym is easier to get to during the week. Pro tip: Don’t delete those birthday emails from studios until you see what’s inside–I was pleasantly surprised!

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Practical Tips for Exploring Paris

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Ah, Paris! I’m so grateful that I had the chance to take such an amazing trip and can’t wait to post some recaps here (as if the 2477929 Instagrams I posted while away weren’t enough…!). But I thought first I’d share some of my practical tips, which will hopefully come in handy whether you plan to board a plane to Europe in the near future or are just curious about travel basics!

Note: I am no expert when it comes to international travel. The first time I traveled outside North America was the summer before my junior year of college, when my family took a two-week trip to England and Wales. It was an amazing experience and made me realize that I did indeed want to study abroad (I really, really enjoyed my time on campus, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave!)–and less than six months later, I boarded a plane for my semester in Edinburgh! While studying in Scotland, I took several weekend trips to other parts of the country and also did bigger trips to Prague, Paris, and London. But I’m certainly not someone who knows all of the ins and outs of travel by any means, so bear with me!

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When it comes to cell phones….This has all changed since I studied abroad and relied on my little British flip phone with T9 to get through the semester! Obviously you may make different choices when spending an extended time abroad, but for this trip, we all brought our iPhones and kept them on airplane mode the entire time. Since I was traveling with family, it was easy to arrange a meeting point if we did choose to separate (this could be more difficult with a big group/people who are unreliable!). This did mean that we couldn’t text or use internet unless we were in our apartment, but this wasn’t a huge hassle. Think of it as an opportunity to unplug and take everything in! Paper maps are your best friend, and if you download them in advance, Google maps will still track where you’re walking on your phone, so you can at least see if you’re headed in the right direction. I still took tons of pictures and Snapchats; I just didn’t post them until I was back on WiFi (which didn’t seem prevalent around the city, unfortunately).

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Should I get a museum pass? The Paris museum pass is great because it allows you to pay a flat rate to see TONS of places throughout the city, and you can wait in shorter lines (think of it as a Disney FastPass!). If you think you’ll take full advantage of it, it’s definitely worth the price, which varies depending on how many days you’d like your pass to be valid (we each did the six day option). While not everyone is a huge museum goer, the pass also works for things like climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which I’d definitely say is a must (the city views are insane).

What about my exercise? If you’re like me and are a bit anxious about missing several gym days and gorging on croissants instead, fear not! Everyone talks about how much walking you’ll do while traveling in Europe, but I don’t think I fully realized how many steps I got during my semester abroad because I didn’t have an iPhone or any other type of tracker. On this trip, my family and I compared step counts every day and always got a ton (one day I logged over 23,000, which is about 9 miles). I did see a few people running throughout the city, but you’ll get a good workout in just by going about your day!

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How should I get around? For places that are beyond walking distance, the metro is your best friend. They do have taxis, Uber (which I didn’t use at all!), and even UberPool in Paris, but the metro is very affordable and goes around the entire city. Like New York City, there’s a flat ticket rate whether you’re taking the train one stop or heading 45 minutes in the opposite direction. Metro maps are free at each station and definitely saved me a few times when I had to make multiple transfers!

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Two DC Area Consignment Stores I Love

I wasn't sure if I could pull off the jean vest look, but this one was $9(!!!!) at Mustard Seed, so I figured I'd go with it!

Y’all know how much I love finding a good deal, and that doesn’t end when it comes to clothes. I know that shopping for secondhand pieces gives some people the heebie-jeebies, and I get that, but trust me when I say that the two stores I’m sharing here are perfectly clean and safe and have a great selection of pieces (and I actually brought a lot of them to Paris, coincidentally!). I’ve been shopping at both of them for years and have never once heard of a single issue with bedbugs, etc…because don’t get me wrong, I’m totally freaked out about things like that–when I bought my first piece of furniture on Craigslist I actually emailed the person asking if they had ever had bedbugs in their home! #embarrassing

Anyway. So first up is Mustard Seed, which is more of a low-key store in downtown Bethesda, super close to where I grew up. I started shopping there in MIDDLE SCHOOL and still go back when I can! Over the years I’ve loved introducing it to family friends with younger daughters and watching the store continue to grow (it’s still a staple in the area!). My high school BFF and I would meet up there over breaks in college, and I’ve sold tons of pieces there for the past…decade (wow, I feel old!). I most recently brought a bundle of clothes in this past June and made abut $60 on the spot. Like many other thrift/consignment stores, you get “paid” a slightly higher amount if you choose to apply your earnings to store credit. However, I was more interested in earning a little extra cash (and had just done a big shopping spree there a couple of weeks prior, ha!), so I didn’t feel the need to pick up anything new, even though it was a pretty good deal. Here’s the nitty gritty:

Price range: Items begin around $6 or so for a basic tank or tee and go up to about $60 or so for nicer products. I recently saw a pair of leather Tory Burch sandals for $45 (they were just a teeeeeny bit too big, so I sadly put them back on the shelf), and I’ve also scored Lululemon tanks for $12 or so (I’ve also spotted cropped pants for about $18!).

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I wasn’t sure if I could pull off the jean vest look, but this one was $9(!!!!) at Mustard Seed, so I figured I’d go with it!

Brands offered: In addition to Lulu and Tory Burch, as mentioned above, Mustard Seed also sells “mall brands” like Abercrombie and LOFT. There’s also always a few Lilly pieces and great accessories like statement necklaces and crossbody bags that are very inexpensive.

Selling details: Although I’m referring to Mustard Seed as a “consignment store,” sellers still get paid on the spot (a traditional consignment store would pay the seller after an item has been purchased). You DO need to schedule an appointment to sell at Mustard Seed (and you need to book online, way in advance, because they do fill up–I picked a day that I knew I had off from work so that I wouldn’t feel rushed if things got delayed, which they sometimes do). There’s also a fee if you’re a no show, so write that appointment date down on your calendar! There’s a limit of 25 items per appointment, so bring in the best of the best!

I got this black and white dress at Mustard Seed last summer and love it--I've worn it for dates, dressed it up for my friend's wedding welcome party, etc. It's a little short on me so not really work appropriate, but I still love it!
I got this black and white dress at Mustard Seed last summer and love it–I’ve worn it on dates, dressed it up for my friend’s wedding welcome party, etc. It’s a little short on me so not really work appropriate, but I still love it!

In short: Since you need to schedule your appointment pretty far out, I wouldn’t say that Mustard Seed is truly an “easy” way to make some fast cash post-closet cleanout…but if you don’t mind waiting a few weeks, you’ll definitely see a reward! I’d also say that Mustard Seed (while still selective) is a little less picky when it comes to the selling end, as they simply accept a wider range of brands. But don’t go in thinking they’ll accept everything you have to offer. As a buyer, it’s easy to spend $80-100 there because everything is so cheap that you just can’t stop yourself from stocking up on this and that! But you can definitely also walk out with a couple of good finds for $20 or less, which is awesome.

Next up is Reddz, which has locations in both Bethesda and Georgetown. Whenever I was home from college I’d always walk from Mustard Seed to Reddz before meeting people in downtown Bethesda!

Price range: Their prices are higher (items start at maybe $14/16 for a J.Crew button-up) and dresses average around $60, from what I’ve noticed. I don’t really pay attention to the items that are truly designer, ha!

Brands offered: Reddz carries higher-end brands and always has a huge rack of Lululemon gear. They haven’t accepted any of my LOFT items recently, and I’d say the most similar brand they sell is J.Crew, but otherwise their clothing is more designer. The Bethesda store would sometimes make a “Lilly rack” in the summer but I haven’t seen that in Georgetown.

This J.Crew sweatshirt from Reddz has a built-in Peter Pan collar (it's black, but you can kind of see it in the photo) and black sleeves. It was perfect for one of the chillier days in Paris!
This J.Crew sweatshirt from Reddz has a built-in Peter Pan collar (it’s black, but you can kind of see it in the photo) and black sleeves. It was perfect for one of the chillier days in Paris!

Selling details: What’s great about Reddz is that you can walk in as a seller without any appointment, and you’ll be paid cash on the spot (again, you will receive “more” if you choose to do the store credit). In my experience, Reddz has been more selective in accepting items and they start buying for the next season pretty far in advance (I think they were already looking for fall clothing in July). You do have to fill out a form with your info every time you sell clothing, but this isn’t much of a hassle and is worth it if you’d like to get rid of your stuff like…NOW.

In short: If you need a dress for an event like a wedding or interview, this is a good option. Think Rent the Runway prices, but you get to keep the dress and try it on early in advance, which is always helpful!

Do you have any favorite thrift stores in the DMV? I’ll keep coming back to these two no matter what, but I’m always looking to sample new places. In Philly I sometimes popped in to Buffalo Exchange, but the only one they have in DC is a bit farther downtown…RIP the Georgetown location!

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End of Summer Steals

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One silver lining to summer being on its way out? Lots of end of season sales. Now is the time to finally pull the trigger on those lust-list items that you couldn’t fully justify back when they were full price (for me, it was this tote, which I discovered via Carly’s blog and know I’ll use during these last few warm days/really whenever I travel somewhere sunny during the year!).

A few other faves? This sunhat, a couple of gorgeous pairs of sandals (one and two), an off-the-shoulder dress, funky earrings, and a classic striped beach towel.

Does anyone have any fun Labor Day plans to look forward to? I know it’s still weeks away, but this summer is absolutely flying. I’ll be in town relaxing, blogging, and working–I’ve taken a part-time job at an accessories boutique in Georgetown and am still learning the ropes, but it’s been a fun time so far. I also have a Houzz feature due the Tuesday after Labor Day, so I’ll be plugging away at that over the long weekend, too!

Hope everyone enjoys another lovely August weekend. I’ll be back next week with several new posts!

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Four Instagram Accounts to Follow

Anyone who has had a conversation with me (even once!) knows how much I adore my alma mater, Colby College. Located in central Maine, Colby is a small liberal arts college with about 1,800 students (all undergraduates). I truly believe that my time there helped me become a more confident person and allowed me to discover my passion for writing and education.

While I certainly appreciated our academic curriculum and wasn’t drawn to schools that promoted more of a preprofessional focus, Colby definitely didn’t have all of the creative opportunities that larger schools oftentimes boast–when completing a journalism internship in New York City with other college students, I was amazed to learn how many schools had their own campus magazines, for example. I was very involved in our student newspaper and we kind of had a magazine that featured student contributors and was primarily for admissions purposes, but it wasn’t the same. Yet while our school was small and didn’t offer programs such as journalism, fashion, hospitality, etc., tons of my fellow alumni have chosen to explore creative pursuits, and I’m here to share four Instagram accounts that belong to fellow Colby grads (they’re all must-follows!). So proud to call these ladies fellow alums, and so excited to continue to see their accounts grow.

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1) @cookbookish_ I met Cole in one of my sociology classes and we continued to overlap through many of our extracurriculars. Cole is now a teacher in New York City, and her account features tons of simple recipes geared toward teachers who want to eat right but don’t have tons of time for prep. All of her meals look so delicious (and healthy!) and I admire how creative she is (seriously, even when she’s just featuring a sandwich, it looks a million times better than any sandwich I could ever make!).

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2) @wearsthatfrom I didn’t know Ankita personally, but I came across her account last fall (how witty is her handle?!) and love it. All of her pictures make me want to live a glamorous life filled with tons of travel, haha. If you need some style inspiration, this is the account for you.

@wiz_kaleifa
@wiz_kaleifa

3)@wiz_kaleifa Likewise, I didn’t know Molly in college but discovered her account awhile back. Another healthy NYC foodie, Molly features tons of gluten-free and lactose-free eats that still look DELISH. I think it was through her account that I first heard of ByChloe a few years back–so glad I finally had the chance to try it in June!

@bossladiesmag
@bossladiesmag

4) @bossladiesmag Chelsea was the year above me at Colby and managed all things blogging and social media for our student newspaper, so I already knew how talented she was in this area (not to mention, she’s probably one of the best writers there is and I’m constantly moved by all of her work). She has truly achieved #girlboss status through her online magazine, which she founded a few years back. Her feed is so perfectly curated and full of inspo, and she’s gained an amazing following!

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An Afternoon at Union Market

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Even though I’ve been back in DC for over a year, I’ve only been to Union Market twice (my second time was last week!). My friend Sonia’s mom founded a delicious Indian restaurant, DC Dosa, which has a Union Market location, and she invited a few of us down for a free dinner (oh my goodness, it was amazing!). I got there a little early and had a blast exploring the market and enjoying a frozen drink in the sunshine. The best part? Union Market on weekdays is apparently way less crowded than it is on weekends, so you’ll have your pick of outdoor tables and can take all the heart wall photos you want. 😉

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Here’s a little peak into what’s at the market…

If you follow ANY DC bloggers/’grammers, you’ve probably seen snaps of this gorgeous heart wall before. It doesn’t disappoint and is truly a surprise since the general area surrounding the market is pretty plain. If you need a location for that perfect outfit photo shoot, head on over on a weeknight when it’s empty!

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This frozen orange drink was delicious on a hot day, although it was a little pricy at $9 (the happy hour wine inside is only $4! Don’t worry, I ordered a glass of rosé later, too). The picnic benches outside are great for people (or dog) watching.

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While Union Market is mainly food-oriented, Salt & Sundry and Little Leaf (their sister store) both have small outposts there. If you like tribal-printed goodies, coffee table books, or adorable plants, these are the shops for you! I’d been to the 14th Street locations and was happy to spot many of the products that I love down here.

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What’s your favorite spot at Union Market? It’s honestly a great place to just relax, even midweek, especially since there’s free wifi! Grab a snack, a drink, and your laptop and plow throw those emails at a colorful picnic table if you need to shake things up a bit.

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The Best Macaron-Themed Gifts

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Paris and macarons go hand in hand, so in honor of my trip, I rounded up the cutest macaron-themed items  I could find online! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the actual treats (oh, and here is a list of the best places to buy them in Paris–totally bookmarking that for this week!). However, my friends have also given me tons of macaron-themed items over the years–soap, erasers, notecards, and more.

A few notes on the items I own:

I recently ordered the macaron-printed tea towel from Target (item #1 above), and it could not be more perfect for the macaron lover in your life. At only $12.99, why not scoop up a few extras for gifts? Also, I’m wondering if there’s any way to frame this towel and make it look good–let me know if you have any suggestions!

I also own the macaron print from Hobby Lobby (item #6) and it’s hanging up in my kitchen. I absolutely love the colors and it makes what’s kind of a dull room (or nook, to be honest) in my apartment a little more cheery. It would also look great mixed in with other prints as part of a gallery wall and could even work in a nursery!

While I don’t own the colorful journal shown above (item #5), I’m kind of loving it. How perfect would it be for a teacher (or student) or really anyone who enjoys taking good old-fashioned notes (raises hand). At less than $10, it’s also a great back-to-school gift or end-of-year teacher treat (bonus points if you pair it with a couple of real macarons–voila, easy gift = done!).

Happy shopping!

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Latest Amazon Obsessions

I am the worst at controlling myself when it comes to Amazon Prime. It’s just too easy to fall for the convenience of the whole thing! I first signed up for Prime when I started grad school and have kept renewing the membership because I definitely get my money’s worth in free shipping! Lately, I’ve bought a wide variety of items that I can’t help but recommend, so I thought I’d share this (somewhat random) roundup below for all you other Prime addicts! Sorry in advance 😉

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Item #1: I ordered these sunglasses prior to my Paris trip because I was in love with the tortoise print (and the low price). I still haven’t gotten another “nice” pair of sunglasses since my RayBans fell into the Tidal Basin (I kid you not…) last summer. They had my prescription in them, too, which was a huge bummer! In the meantime, I’ll be stocking up on cheap sunnies until I can get my act together and get new lenses and frames.

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Item #2: Ok, I didn’t actually order this on Prime (I got mine at Target), but same thing since the product is still sold on Amazon. These K-cups are SO good. They had this flavor in my office last summer and it somehow never got replaced but ah…if you like sweet coffee, this is for you. If not…run far, far away!

Item #3: I know what you’re thinking…who orders a swimsuit on Amazon?! Well, apparently a lot of people! I picked up this palm print bikini prior to my Cape trip and one of my friends had actually ordered two in other patterns. For only $20, it didn’t disappoint, and any palm leaf lover understands the amazingness of this suit. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for a new top to go with a solid color pair of bikini bottoms and knew I had to bite the bullet.

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Item #4: I’ve shared this wicker bag on IG stories and have loved it so far (I brought it to the Cape and to Paris–it’s great for times when I don’t have too much to carry). For $22, it’s such a steal! Wicker/straw bags are all that this summer and this cutie opens up to kind of look like a picnic basket, making it all the more adorable.

Item #5: Ok, this may seem a little weird, but if your shoulders hurt from sitting at a desk the way mine do (not going to get into the gross details, but let’s just say I definitely have some neck/back issues going on), you NEED this. Even though this device doesn’t cost much (basically the price of one massage), I was skeptical about ordering it because of the mixed reviews. However, I figured I’d give it a try, and I love it! It definitely is a little painful to use at first (this isn’t going to give you a “relaxing” massage), it definitely provides tons of relief for sore muscles.

Any items that you haven’t been able to resist purchasing on Prime?

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FRIDAY FEELS, #9

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Above: The delicious brunch Shelby and I enjoyed in Morgantown last weekend! I’m still salivating thinking about the egg white veggie omelet (with goat cheese!) that I ordered (along with the yummy hazelnut cold brew!).

On my playlist: I discovered this song last week and kinda love it…don’t listen to it unless you reallyyyy like country.

On my nightstand: I packed a bajillion books for Paris (I’m heading there tonight–more on that below!) because I love using long flights to catching up on my never-ending reading list. One that I can’t wait to start? This hilarious-looking book by Jen Lancaster, which has gotten amazing reviews. I’ll do my usual monthly recap in a couple of weeks and hope to share lots of good reviews with you all!

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On my mind: Ok, I have a new show recommendation and you better love it. 😉 A few of my friends told me about “The Bold Type,” a new tv show on Freeform (which is apparently the new name for ABC Family, guess I’m super out of the loop). It follows a group of three best friends who work at the same magazine in NYC (a publication that’s basically modeled after Cosmo), and I’m obsessed. It reminds me of my own experience working in magazines with Shelby (and when we’d get ready for dates in the work bathroom after hours, which totally seems like something the characters would do) and actually presents the profession in a serious light, which is refreshing. I’m excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds and hope it gets renewed! Has anyone else watched? Also, I caught Legally Blonde 2 outside in NOMA the other evening and it did not disappoint (even watching it for like, the 10th time!).

On my wish list: I’ve never jumped on the whole BBG bandwagon, but I spotted Kayla Itsines’s cookbook at Target last week and really want to order it! I’ve mentioned before that I’m no chef, and I’m often at a loss when it comes to brainstorming dinner ideas (especially healthy dinner ideas), so maybe this will help. Adding this to my Amazon cart, stat.

On the agenda: I’m flying to Paris with my family tonight! I’m so ready for all of the croissants and delicious French food (macarons, anyone?). I traveled to Paris for a couple of days during my semester abroad, and my friend and I managed to see a ton during the short time we were there, but I’m excited to explore the city at a more leisurely pace this time around. Expect lots of Insta posts/stories, and I also have a few pre-scheduled blog posts that will go out while I’m gone, so check back here next week for my usual content!

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How to Create a Gorgeous Gallery Wall

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

Let’s face it, putting together a gallery wall is a daunting task. It’s something that lots of my friends have put off because it can be time consuming and, if we’re being honest, nailing tons of holes in the wall is a little daunting, especially in a new place. But I noticed that my gallery wall garnered a lot of comments after my AT home tour ran, and I’d love to share how I created it!

I’ve had gallery walls in several of my apartments, and in my current space, the ideal place for one was above my living room couch. I’ve also seen great gallery walls that surround large TVs and make the area a little more visually interesting, but I’ve also read that really only one gallery wall per room makes sense, and kind of get that (though I’ve certainly experimented with groups of prints above my bar cart, which is in the same room as the couch #scandalous).

When putting together my gallery wall, I used a lot of frames and artwork that I already owned but also purchased some fun new items (my biggest splurge was my Gray Malin piece, which I actually got fairly recently, in May, and made its debut in this most recent shoot!). The key, at least for me–being someone who is forever indecisive–has been changing out the artwork every once in awhile. This has been super easy given that none of my artwork is matted directly into the frame (minus the Gray piece, which I had done professionally and don’t see myself getting tired of anytime soon!)  So, the key has been popping one piece out of a frame, storing it somewhere safe, and taping a new piece in. Not the most sophisticated process, but hey, it works!

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

I decided that while I didn’t necessarily want matching frames, I am mainly drawn to those that are white and gold and could mix and match. The Gray Malin print is in a silver frame but still “goes” with the overall wall and room because of the colors in the photograph. When it came to selecting prints, I knew I wanted some to be fun (think sassy quotes and sayings) and some to be personal, reflecting places where I’ve lived (down to the exact neighborhood, in the case of my Georgetown print!). I used to be more in to “mass produced” prints (like the ones you’ll find at TJ Maxx or Homegoods), but now I’m generally drawn to things that are a little more unique and truly feel like “me.” However, I cannot say enough good things about Society6 and their amazing prints (some of which you’ll see in everyone’s homes, ha!). I’ve purchased many prints from them over the years and there is almost ALWAYS some sort of discount or promo going on, which makes their affordable art (like this amazing piece–perfect for all of my Charleston lovers) even more attainable!

As for nailing in the actual frames, there are a few ways to go about this process. Some people may be ok with messing up here and there (just remember to sparkle all of those holes before you move apartments!), while others want everything to be perfect on the first go and will choose to hang out newspaper cutouts in the shape of each print before hammering into the wall. You can also opt for sticky velcro strips (great for dorm rooms or anywhere else that doesn’t allow/isn’t conducive for hammering nails into the wall). I’ve honestly tried all of these tactics and the truth is, you’re bound to make a mistake here or there and wish you had hammered a nail an inch in the other direction…and it’s up to you whether you decide to fix it or just leave things be.

Need some additional inspo? Shop the prints below and get ready to spruce up your space!

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