Bestie Q&A

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I love turning to my friends for inspiration on work looks, shows to watch, and books to read, so I thought that instead of just sharing a few of MY favorites, I’d also add a friend’s into the mix. Everyone, meet Shelby! We’re here to do a little Q&A (and no, it’s not the kind where we have to guess each other’s favorites and feel super awkward if we get the answers wrong…BUT that could be fun for another time!). Also, apologies in advance for a suuuuper picture-heavy post! When you spend a lot of time with someone over the course of three years, the result is a TON of pics…and this is me narrowing them all down!

Shelby and I met three summers ago when we were both working as editorial assistants at American Baby magazine in New York City. After not talking to each other for a couple of weeks (she apparently thought I was going to be super mean, which is kind of hilarious, because I’m generally over-smiley and talkative), I learned that she had decided to rent an apartment TWO blocks away from mine! A few days later, over Fourth of July weekend (hey, it’s almost our official friend anniversary!), I was supposed to fly out to Michigan to visit my then-boyfriend at his lake house, but my flight got cancelled due to terrible rainstorms. Shelby happened to text me the next day when I was moping around all alone, and we got frozen yogurt together at the 16 Handles on 82nd and 2nd (is that still around?!), ate it together in the park, grabbed margaritas, parted ways for dinner, and then met up again that night to watch a dumb Redbox movie at her place. And this was after having previously only spoken to each other, like, TWICE! It was clearly meant to be. Since then, she’s had the opportunity to meet so many special people in my life (and those who she hasn’t met all feel like they know her and constantly ask about her–and vice versa!). While Shelby briefly lived in DC this fall, she’s now back in her home state of West Virginia (more on that below) killing it in a new PR job. I’m bummed that we’re no longer in the same city, but we’ve had fun visiting each other in various places. She made it down to Philly a few times when I was there for grad school, and I finally made it to her hometown in WV this past fall and already have a bus ticket to go back in August!

Our first-ever picture together from that day in the park!
Our first-ever picture together from that day in the park! Note the 16 Handles cup in the background.

 

My all-time favorite picture of us (we each have it framed!), also from Summer 2014.
My all-time favorite picture of us (we each have it framed!), also from Summer 2014.

 

Cheering on her WVU Mountaineers in Fall 2016.
Cheering on her WVU Mountaineers in Fall 2016.

Whew! Ok, here is our lighthearted Q&A.

SARAH’S ANSWERS:

-Favorite place to shop for work clothes: LOFT
-Must-read book: This is a toughie, but I’ll have to go with Hillbilly Elegy or How to Murder Your Life.
-Guilty pleasure: Peanut M&Ms!
-Favorite thing about my hometown: Bethesda is full of cute stores and restaurants, and there are always new ones opening! I’m itching to try a new Thai ice cream place that just arrived…can you believe I’ve never had it before?!
-Weird habit: I rearrange my funiture WAY too often. I can’t help it!

 

SHELBY’S ANSWERS:

-Favorite place to shop for work clothes: LOFT
-Must-read book: The Light We Lost [Note from Sarah: This looks SO good. I may need to order it ASAP].
-Guilty pleasure: Chips & salsa (or peanut butter pretzels)
-Favorite thing about my hometown: I’m from a small town in WV (home of the pepperoni roll) and we have the best variety of family-owned Italian restaurants. You can say, “That’s Amore!”

-Weird habit: Making my bed. I have to make my bed first thing every morning or I feel sloppy and unproductive.

….and a few more pictures of us, because once I start going down memory lane, I can’t stop. We’ve also taken a TON of pictures together over the years. She’s probably sick of it by now. 😉

DC, Fall 2016.
DC, Fall 2016.

 

One of my last weeks in NYC in April 2015. We took the tram to Roosevelt Island and admired the view of the city!
One of my last weeks in NYC in April 2015. We took the tram (#scary) to Roosevelt Island and admired the view of the city! Also, I’m wearing a LOFT shirt that’s a Shelby hand-me-down. ;)

 

We used to go to the same diner almost every time we went out on 2nd Avenue (it's weirdly called 3 Star Diner, but I think it's a 5 in our book). Shelby would always order some type of breakfast food, and I'd obviously get french fries. I also distinctly remember us trying to shop the Lilly for Target sale on our phones there around 3 am. Oh, the memories!
We used to go to the same diner almost every time we went out on 2nd Avenue (it’s weirdly called 3 Star Diner). Shelby would always order some type of breakfast food, and I’d obviously get french fries (is it sad that the waiters remembered us?!). I also distinctly remember us trying to shop the Lilly for Target sale on our phones there around 3 am on the day of the launch before giving up and going to sleep!

 

Pre-meeting one of my college friends at a bar and then seeing Beauty and the Beast the next day. Spring 2017.
Pre-meeting one of my college friends at a bar and then seeing Beauty and the Beast the next day in Spring 2017!

 

That's a wrap! Thanks for reading!
That’s a wrap! Thanks for reading!
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4 Ways I Cut Back on Spending

I find it so interesting to learn what people splurge on and where they cut back (remember how interesting I found Refinery 29’s money diaries?!). For example, living in New York City, I walked by dozens of coffee shops on my way to work, which made it really hard to convince myself to make me own coffee at home (but I did, most of the time!). Some of my friends insist on splurging on things like bras or special types of shampoo. I definitely like to have extra spending money for, well, unnecessary items (home decor > food…sorry I’m not sorry!), so here are a few of the areas where I’ve learned to cut back…

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1) Coffee. I definitely treat myself to Starbucks every now and then, but it’s really, really easy to say no to spending money on coffee because 1) it isn’t allowed on public transportation in DC, and that’s generally how I get to work, and 2) I work in the suburbs and can’t leave during the day, so while the temptation to grab a 2 pm iced coffee is still there, I simply can’t do anything about it! I bought a Keurig 2 and a half years ago and it’s held up fabulously ever since (knock on wood…I’m always a little worried about the lifespan of those things!). If you have a Keurig, use it. K-cups can certainly be expensive, but if you know where to buy ’em (places like Costco, Trader Joe’s, and even HomeGoods are all great options!), you’ll definitely be saving money in the long run.

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2) Books. This one is only half true, because I still buy a LOT of books (if you live in a big city, you may end up being on the waitlist for a book FOREVER…I swear that I’ve been waiting for it to be my turn to pick up Lauren Graham’s book since February). While I’m trying to be better about using my library card (cue the Arthur library song…anyone?), I try to order the cheapest possible books (the “used” category on Amazon and websites like ThriftBooks are super cost effective). When you think about it, two books at Barnes and Noble will easily run you between $30 and $40, so while spending $4 is still unnecessary, it’s still a step in the right direction!

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3) Lunches out. I’m very fortunate that my workplace has a cafeteria (I work at a school, after all!) and it’s very, very affordable to eat there (only $3 a day for unlimited portions). If your office offers something similar or reimburses you for food (I’ve heard of big firms doing this), definitely take advantage of the option! The food in our cafeteria is fairly healthy, fresh, and delicious, and if I were bringing lunch from home all year long, I’m sure I’d end up hungry by 2 pm anyway (hoping that this won’t be an issue now that the cafeteria is closed for the summer…I never know what to pack that will keep me full all day long!). If you find yourself stepping out for lunch and hate spending $10 a day on salad, try to set a limit. Maybe you’ll only buy lunch when it’s a social event (i.e.: going with coworkers), or maybe every Friday will be your lunch out day (the first summer I was interning in New York, I chose Monday to be the day I’d go out and grab a good salad…Fridays are already exciting enough, but on Monday I definitely needed something to look forward to!). I also once read an article about someone who managed to buy a week’s worth of lunch supplies for $19 IN NEW YORK. Challenge yourself to try to top that…I don’t think I could!

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4) Cable. This is the first time I’ve ever had cable, and I only got it because it was actually cheaper to purchase a combined cable and internet plan than just internet alone. However, I know that I’m mainly a Netflix watcher and therefore would never pay extra for cable since I really never, ever watch TV. With so many shows available for free online, I am totally fine cutting that out if necessary!

Where do you save and where do your splurge? I’m curious!

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Lusting Over…

Guys, I am LOVING everything shown in the collage below and while I want it all, that just isn’t realistic 😉 If you’re in the market for some new home items, pick up one of these babies (I mean, how perfect is the pink lamp?). Why do I always find the cutest stuff when I just don’t need it? Happy shopping!

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Lamp//Succulent//Basket//Stool//Print

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FRIDAY FEELS, #5

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On my playlist: Does Serial count?! I started the podcast on my way up to NYC last week and finished a ton of episodes. I’ve heard people say mixed things about it, but I’ve found the storyline to be super interesting and it’s definitely something that makes you think!

On my nightstand: Finished this perfect summer beach read this week (a page-turner for sure!) and now am eager to dive in and start this new release!

On my mind: Is your doctor most likely a Democrat or a Republican? This chart explores political affiliation and how it varies by speciality (came across this in a NYT newsletter and immediately sent it to a friend who’s starting med school, because it’s kinda interesting!). Also, how interesting is this article–do you agree the rom com is dead?!

On my wish list: Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good leopard print, and these slides are not only stylish but also are super comfy looking (and affordable!).

On the agenda: This weekend I’ll be having dinner with a good friend, attending a Houzz photoshoot, squeezing in a workout or two, heading to a Nats game, and who knows what else…love summer! Hope everyone has a great one!

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NYC Recap

Whew! I’m back from a fun-filled four days in NYC and honestly, I feel like I crammed in almost everything on my must do and see list (which was mainly food-related, #sorrynotsorry). Seriously, looking back on what I ate this weekend makes me feel a littleee sick, but there were so many new places I had been dying to try!

Here’s a quick rundown of the trip…

I got in on Thursday evening on the bus (after making it through awful traffic in the tunnel, which is literally the worst and is pretty much unavoidable when coming in at night) and met my friend Molly from college, who I’d be staying with that night. We had a delicious Thai dinner at a restaurant near her apartment, and then did some window shopping in the Time Warner Center (and I picked up some goodies at Sugarfina—the green juice gummies are delish, and I got my dad some dark chocolate cashews for Father’s Day!). We came back to Molly’s house to catch up and watch Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (weird movie, but still funny and I love Anna Kendrick!).

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I spent all of Friday morning wandering around the city, which is exactly what I wanted to do! I grabbed a delicious bagel at Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side (Molly said it was a must, and I hadn’t been there before!). My whole wheat everything bagel with lox cream cheese was so good (I’m getting hungry just writing this) and I’m glad I went on a weekday (I’d been warned that the line would be insane on weekend mornings!). After breakfast, I stopped by HomeGoods on the Upper West Side (it was a must, don’t laugh at me!) and then headed downtown to try Cha Cha Matcha! I realized that while I’m not a huge fan of matcha (I had actually never tried it before), the donuts there are adorable and delish (I didn’t let myself finish the whole thing, though!). The shop itself is also beyond cute and there’s a reason why it’s all over Instagram…I took way too many pics!

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After wandering around some other stores in the West Village, it was time for lunch. ByChloe did NOT disappoint and I can’t believe it took me so long to try it! It wasn’t open when I lived in NYC, and I’m almost never downtown when I visit because most of my friends live on the Upper East or Upper West Side. I did spend a lot of time in the West Village this trip, though! Anyway, at ByChloe I got the most delicious salad and sweet potato fires and again couldn’t finish the whole thing (I brought the rest of the salad to my friend Austin’s for later and was very thankful that I did, because it’s amaze). After lunch, I was wiped out and napped at Austin’s while she was at work. What a life…I love vacation!

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On Friday, Austin and I and her awesome friend Olivia who I’d met before all went out for drinks (but first, Austin and I made sure to try the most adorable pink-themed restaurant, Pietro Nolita, pictured above). I was obsessed with the “Pink AF” slogan and their delicious cocktails. We also stopped at Genuine Licorette, which I’d be wanting to try for the longest time (you may remember when I tried to recreate the drinks at home–but the real ones were way better).

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On Saturday, Austin and I headed to my favorite used bookstore on the Upper East Side, and then I met up with a friend in Brooklyn after making an obligatory stop at Smorgasburg. I’m not normally a pineapple fan, but I had been curious about Joe’s Juices after seeing pics on Instagram (naturally…) and went for the pineapple because it was all that was left! It was actually delicious, not to mention super photo-worthy, of course.

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All in all, it was a fabulous, food-filled (still recovering) weekend! If you’re heading to NYC soon, let me know, because I have plenty of other recs from when I lived there…wish I could go back every weekend!

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Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

I absolutely love Lauren Nelson’s style and was super, super excited when she revealed her new UES bedroom. It’s preppy and nautical and simple and just came together so well that I had to share it with you all! I’ve included some bits and pieces in this post, but click here to see the full tour on Lauren’s blog.

You all know how much I like finding adorable pieces for a bargain, so I decided to “recreate” Lauren’s look using a few decorative items I found online…

Via Lauren's Instagram
Via Lauren’s Instagram

If you like the above look, try this…

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This Target mirror is absolutely adorable and is much, MUCH cheaper than designer versions! I’m absolutely loving Lauren’s pick from Serena and Lily, though!

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If you like the above look, try this…

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Lauren’s Wishbone chair is pretty affordable (and is on Amazon!), but if you’re interested in a slightly cheaper option, I like (and own!) this one.

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Get the geometric pillow look with this and this option, below:

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Don’t you absolutely love her space?! All of the blue and white is so calming, and I love how clutter-free her room is without looking boring!

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Life Hacks

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After a four day trip to New York (more on that soon!), I’m ready to get my life back into order with laundry, grocery shopping, gym time…you know the drill. Thankfully, I’ve come across a lot of articles that will make getting re-organized that much easier, so I just had to share them with you all!

Working at a school is awesome because I’m able to partake in a (very good) meal plan during the year. However, now that classes are no longer in session, the cafeteria is closed and I have to bring my lunch for the next three months! Luckily, this article has some healthy spins on delicious sandwiches and salads, and I just may have to try a few!

A good friend and I are in the process of planning a Charleston trip, and this handy guide to planning a girls weekend in the beautiful city will certainly be much appreciated!

If you’re wondering what on earth to do with your hair during sweltering DC summers (the humidity is REAL), these tips are for you!

Keep receiving bottles of rose as hostess gifts? Here are a bunch of fun ways use ‘em up (not like you can ever have too many!)

I breezed through a ton of Serial while on the bus this weekend, and it’s pretty addicting! (I know I’m super late to the game, but I have a hard time getting into podcasts). Here are a few more podcast recs if you’re bored AF on your commute and need something new to try.

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5 Things to Do Before You Move

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It seems like everyone moves over the summer. My lease is up in August, and I’m planning on renewing it for another year, but lots of my friends are in the process of looking for new places, moving in with significant others, etc. And it seems like whenever I talk to people who ARE staying in their apartments, it’s the first time that they’re doing so since college!

Being on the go is just a fact of life when you’re in your 20s, but if I’ve learned anything over the past several years since college (which have been filled with five different moves), there are definitely ways to ease stress before the big day…

1. Make a list of everything you need to do for the move. I did this last summer and it was SO helpful. I had some time off before I started my job and was able to take care of a ton of things then (like scheduling movers!) and crossing items off a physical list was so satisfying. It also definitely helped to have tasks written down in one place so that I could be sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. Most people would probably prefer to do this digitally, but it’s the concept that counts!

2. Give yourself time to sell or donate unwanted furniture. If you’re ready to part with the IKEA shelf you’ve had since apartment number one, Craigslist has you covered! Just make sure that you list items early enough in advance that you’re not scrambling to find a buyer right before moving out. If you have furniture that isn’t in good enough condition to sell or donate, you can definitely call people to pick it up and toss it, but keep in mind that this can come with a hefty fee. If you live in an apartment building, talk to your landlord before putting big items out on the street, as the last thing you’d want to do before moving is get your building ticketed! Click here to see how I handled getting rid of a less than perfect piece of furniture without causing any trouble or having to put in much effort!

3. Say bye to your neighborhood! Even if you’re just moving from one neighborhood to another within a larger city, don’t forget to make one last trip to your favorite coffee shop, bookstore, ice cream place, whatever. Of course you can always come back, but moving day (which may equal an upgraded, more exciting apartment!) will feel less sentimental (it always does, no matter what) if you feel like you made the most of your old digs/surrounding area.

4. Take care of canceling your internet, changing over renter’s insurance, updating your mailing address, and the like. I absolutely dread these tasks but feel so much better once I bite the bullet and just do them. Of course, you can’t do many of these until the last second, so add them to your master list (see tip number 1) to keep these important to do’s on your radar.

5. Eat up all that canned food! You don’t necessarily want to be moving across town (let alone across the country) with boxes of food…save money and cardboard boxes by eating up your food during the weeks leading up to your move. It’s fine to save a couple of things (you’ll need food in your new place, after all!), but think how nice it’ll feel to start over with empty cupboards. You can also donate any unopened, unexpired canned and packaged goods to a local food panty rather than hauling them with you!

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FRIDAY FEELS, #4

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Wanna know something weird? The last time I spent a full summer in DC (that is, more than just two weeks) was when I was going into my JUNIOR year of college. How crazy is that?! As much as I love being back in the area, my allergies have been so, so terrible this week. I (knock on wood) don’t get sick frequently during the year, but when spring allergy season comes around, I suffer hard. Anyway, this week’s roundup is short and sweet. I hope everyone has a fabulous, allergy-free weekend!

On my playlist: This peppy lil’ jam.

On my nightstand: Finished Sugar (loved it!) and just started this thriller (not sure what took me so long!).

On my mind: My good friend Ashley has started a blog/Insta! Follower her over at @largecoldbrew 🙂

On my wish list: I’m lusting over this brown tote bag and am thinking about getting it for my Paris trip in August (more details on that later!).

On the agenda: Spending the weekend in NYC catching up with friends from college and grad school! (I’m also looking forward to checking out a bunch of new-to-me places, mainly several new restaurants and coffee shops like Cha Cha Match and ByChloe!).

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My Home Picks on Amazon

One of my friends is in the process of redecorating her bedroom and actually ordered a ton of her furniture and accessories on Amazon Prime of all places! Of course, being the design fanatic I am, I wanted to get in on the redecorating action and ended up doing a little Amazon browsing of my own…dangerous, I tell you!

My friend can tell you that I became OBSESSED with this bench upon spotting it (and she also loved it and may end up ordering it for her new room!). It is now known as “THE bench” and I have been casually monitoring its pricing over the past few days…for some weird reason, it was $95 when I first spotted it, went up to $123 that night, and then went back down to $111 the next day…oh Amazon, why must you be so confusing and cruel?!

However, THE bench is just one of the items that I spotted on the site…scroll down for some of my other faves!

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This cute chair is much cheaper than its designer counterparts and will make your dining area look oh-so-Parisian!

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Who can say no to a good palm print? These babies will spice up even the plainest couch.

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You can’t forget about coffee table books, and Amazon is full of everything under the sun. I personally have my eye on the above!

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At $50, this bar/kitchen cart is a steal and is different from all of the gold variations that are so popular these days.

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This tray isn’t my usual style, but it’s so happy and whimsical and kind of reminds me of Anthropologie (at only a fraction of their price tag!).

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This gourd lamp looks like it would be much pricier, but at under $40 it’s quite affordable (honestly, finding an affordable shade can be half the battle sometimes, so why not take advantage of a 2-in-1 base/shade combo?).

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Moroccan poufs can be pretty pricy, but this one is affordable and while it comes unstuffed, you can just purchase this filling and do an easy DIY!

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