I alternate between needing a lot of friend/social time and a lot of time alone, so oftentimes, a cozy night in is just what I’m craving (preferably on a Friday night–by Saturday, I have a lot more energy and hate sitting still!).
Whether I’m watching a new show, immersed in a book (thrillers are perfect for nights in), or even just scrolling through Pinterest planning my millionth bedroom redo, I love just taking a few hours for myself (with red wine and maybe some dark chocolate, of course!).
A few musts for a night in:
-Cozy loungewear. I’m one of those SUPER weird people who will just stay in jeans/work clothes until it’s time to get ready for bed (I know…). I’ve never come running home ready to change into sweatpants (and I think it’s really just a lazy thing…I’m definitely not wearing my blazer at 8 pm for any particular reason otherwise, haha). Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to shower/put on comfy clothes earlier in the night so that I can still enjoy a few cozy hours of reading/watching tv in bed before it’s time to turn the lights out.
-A drink. Wine, tea, hot chocolate, you name it. If you’re trying to avoid late night snacking, pour yourself a glass of something instead. Plus, if you’re sitting in bed, you won’t have to deal with crumbs and popcorn kernels getting everywhere (although let’s be honest, my bedspread has seen many a wine spill in its day).
-Cozy socks. I’m also one of those weird people who sleeps in socks no matter the season (trust me, I got a lot of comments about this one in college…). But cozy socks (like those fun, fluffy ones) make everything better (I’ve been known to sleep in them for days on end, even in warm weather months…).
-A blanket. I absolutely love my throw blankets and get a ton of use out of them (they’re more than purely decorative!). Head to HomeGoods/TJ Maxx to pick up a soft but inexpensive option.
-A candle. I’m trying not to run through my new Diptqyue so I’ve been alternating between a few different scents at night, and they really do make a difference!
-Minimal phone use. Stop scrolling through Instagram/Facebook/Bumble/work email/cat videos for a minute and put your phone aside while you relax. It’s hard to focus on calming down when constant distractions pop up.
Obviously my essentials aren’t anything groundbreaking, but they work for me! And now I know what I’ll be up to after work…
Happy Thursday! Who else is looking forward to a three-day weekend? My mom and I are thinking about possibly doing a day trip or something along those lines, destination TBD. I can’t believe it’s already mid-February, it feels like the month just started!
Short post today with a few random-ish things I’ve been loving lately:
Hart of Dixie. I mentioned this last Friday, but the obsession is still real. Before I started watching, I had been picturing it to be a Southern Grey’s Anatomy or something, but the medical component of the show is super minimal (making it a little more boring at times but it’s also kind of nice to not have to watch people being sliced in half every minute–I always joke that it took me two seasons of Grey’s to be able to eat while watching, haha). I’m also iffy on whether I love Rachel Bilson or not (I never watched the OC or anything, so I can’t really compare her in this show to any of her other roles), but I’m entertained for now (cheesy shows are addicting for a reason, right?).
This pillow. I found it on sale at Target the other week when I really needed a pick me up and it was just so soft that I couldn’t say no! It’s funny, though, because I keep walking into Target and browsing the home section and just not wanting to leave with anything (which is good for my wallet!). I love all of the new items but also kind of feel like I’d have to redecorate my entire room/apartment to make them work, if that makes sense. I don’t know.
Baking. Ok, by baking I really mean making, like, no-bake cookies because I have no talent in the kitchen whatsoever. However, I’ve been bookmarking a few recipes on Pinterest (mostly involving PB and chocolate) and made these over the weekend. I brought the extras in to work earlier this week and they were a hit (plus they’re SO easy to whip up).
Hat walls. The other day I posted an Insta story asking what I should do on the wall above my desk, and while I got several great suggestions, my favorite was to do a hat wall! I love how the one above looks (and am also a fan of the one at the top of this post) and am hoping to recreate something similar if I can pull it off!
Half-Baked Harvest. Who else has been following Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard? Pretty incredible! If you didn’t know, Red’s sister Tiegan is a pretty famous food blogger/’grammer, and her recipes look amazing. Go follow her if you don’t already (pretty sure I was living under a rock until I read about her last week while stalking their family, haha. Talk about an accomplished group of siblings). Also, can I move into her barn?!
This apartment tour. I think Lauren and I could easily be BFFs…sorry, all, moving to NYC to watch SATC marathons in her cute living space. I don’t think I could ever personally deal with the lofted bed situation, though…walking up the spiral stairs to my room every day is complicated enough!
Oh, and one more thing, but because I’m nosy…this list shows how much people spend on engagement rings in each state.
I should really just add a tab on the blog with all of these home tours so that you can check them out whenever! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably heard me mention the amazing ladies I’ve met via my Houzz freelancing–if you didn’t know, I started contributing to the publication last May and have had a blast! It’s been a wonderful way to meet fellow creatives in the DC area and profile their gorgeous homes while earning a little extra cash along the way. Writing about interior design and scoping out people’s Insta feeds? Basically what I do on here every day anyway! I work in conjunction with Ryan Hicks, the photographer who shot my home in January 2016, and he’s gathered some amazing shots of people’s apartments and homes.
Now that I’ve done several of these tours, I wanted to include them here so that you, too, can admire these awesome homes (these ladies also all have amazing blogs/Instagram feeds, so follow away!). I know I’ve gotten tons of design ideas from the places I’ve profiled!
I had been following Liz on Instagram for awhile and was always obsessed with how calming and collected her home looked with it’s soft color palette and feminine details. Her apartment has a really interesting layout with the bedroom kind of coming off the hallway where you walk in, and she’s totally made it work so that the setup feels peaceful and cohesive–I’m totally inspired! View her Houzz tour here.
Libby is the queen of color and her apartment totally reflects this as well. Any Gray Malin fan will swoon over the prints Libby has in her bedroom, and I absolutely love how she incorporated family photos into her decor–such a sweet touch! Also, that light up sign! View her Houzz tour here.
Ashlee and her boyfriend have such a fun, Southern-themed apartment complete with lots of personal and practical touches. They were the first couple that I profiled, and I love to see how men and women style their spaces together, especially since I’ve only ever lived alone/with other girls–it gives me hope that spaces can still look cute even when there’s a guy living there! 😉 Like Liz, they took a nontraditional layout and really made it work! View her Houzz tour here.
I loved seeing what Jenn did to her space after having moved into her own studio apartment, which is complete with girly touches and tons of cute accessories. Her space is proof that a small space can still be glam and welcoming–how great is all of that sunlight, too?! View her Houzz tour here.
Heather and Adam also decorated their apartment as a couple, and it was great getting to chat with them both during the shoot. I love admiring their amazing gallery wall in person and hearing about Heather’s fun furniture finds. They took a modern-looking unit and made it entirely their own with lots of sentimental touches and creative uses of space, like Heather’s desk area. View her Houzz tour here.
Even with a new baby, Ariel‘s home still looks fantastic and she’s basically a girl after my own heart thanks to all of her thrifty finds. Her vintage bar cart is the coolest and looks great! I loved hearing about the DIYs she and her husband did, even if they’re way beyond my abilities! View her Houzz tour here.
Julie is also the queen of DIY, and I think every girl wishes they had her office space! I also love her creative use of bar carts throughout the house and ALL of the Katie Kime. View her Houzz tour here.
Alysse‘s apartment is perfectly boho-chic with tons of greenery and midcentury modern pieces. She and her boyfriend also decorated together and did a really nice job combining their individual belongings with some new items and DIYs–I know I felt right at home when I walked in! View her Houzz tour here.
When I purchased my gold Target mirror last year (which I actually sold before moving to my current apartment), I knew it was a gorgeous piece at a great price but had no idea it would become so popular! I loved it in my old bedroom but just couldn’t bring everything when I moved (slash I’m kind of a mirror addict and had to part with at least one after purchasing some new designs!). However, I’m almost considering buying it again at some point because it continues to be such a classic, stylish piece. The best part is that it can really be used in any room of the house. I kept mine over a small vanity table/nightstand next to my bed and it was super functional. Since it’s a large (and heavy!) piece, it does double duty–I could get a full body view of my outfit each morning but also use it while sitting at the table applying makeup.
After awhile, I moved my vanity table across the room and set up a similar station with the mirror, some fun art, and basic beauty accessories. I love this shot that was included in my Apartment Therapy feature last spring!
Below are just some of my favorite ways that people have styled the mirror:
Happy Friday! Who’s watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies tonight? My boss is going to Korea and will be at the Olympics while she’s there, so I’ve been doing tons of research on it this week and am excited to relax and enjoy the Games from home! Two of my friends are coming over for a wine and baking night (much needed after a not-so-great week) and tomorrow morning I’m hitting up a Soul Cycle class (now that I’ve joined a gym near my apartment, I’m trying to save my classes for when I really have time rather than cramming them in on busy days), so it should be a pretty relaxing weekend (oh, and I’ve been binge watching Hart of Dixie since last Saturday, so that’ll be happening, too…exciting stuff.).
I mentioned an awesome Zara Home piece in this post, but my love for the store has only grown in recent weeks! I mean, how amazing is this woven bench that I snagged on sale for $39 (it’s now sold out, sorry!)?!
I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure how long it would take to receive it, since Zara is based overseas and all shipping is free (which just seems too good to be true) but the bench arrived in a DAY (it was shipped from Pennsylvania). So speedy!
I’m sure I’ll be moving it around/styling it a lot as usual, but for now, I’m going to use it as a little foot stool.
Here are a few other Zara Home pieces I’m loving lately:
Ever since I started my new job, I’ve had to dress completely differently than I had in the past. Granted, I previously worked at a school where I was on my feet a lot of the day and ate lunch with a kindergarten class once a week, so wearing my nicest attire wouldn’t have made the most sense, as some days I was literally on the floor of the cafeteria picking up pieces of taco meat. 😉 While I never wore jeans to my old job, I wore lots of colorful skinny pants from LOFT and J.Crew, patterned vests, and overall more “teacher-looking” pieces, which was definitely fun and super comfortable and easy. However, in my current role, I work in a very formal office environment and dress business-like every day, especially if I have outside meetings or events.
Dressing in more formal attire doesn’t necessarily sound fun, but I haven’t minded it at all! I honestly feel so much more “work ready” and put together when I’m wearing clothing that looks the part. I’ve also found that even in a more conservative environment, I can still wear colors and patterns–just not necessarily together! Plus, I’ve found that I appreciate the days off when I can wear my “comfy clothes” that much more.
Here are some of my tips for incorporating corporate attire into your existing wardrobe:
-Buy a few good blazers. I love blazers and wear one 2-3 times a week because they just work with everything. I never would have worn one at my old job, but now I can’t get enough of them! I have a few black blazers that just go well with everything, but I also have some knit, patterned ones and even a black and white dotted one that is stylish without being too “loud” for the workplace. I’ve paired my new blazers with shirts I already have for a super easy result that’s also budget-friendly. Even if you don’t work in an office where it would make sense to wear a blazer, you should still keep one in your closet as an option should a job interview or presentation come up–they can really class up any outfit!
-Find flattering pants. If you have a few pairs of pants you love and can wear on rotation, you’re honestly all set. No need for five different pairs if you have a couple of go-to options. I love pairing plain black pants with endless shirt/cardigan combinations–I’m kind of a shirt addict and have wayyyy too many, but that’s because I enjoy shopping for shirts way more than I like shopping for pants. Finding pants that look good and are comfortable is honestly so difficult! I’ve personally found LOFT to be a great place to buy pants for work, but their styles do change season to season, so heading to the store to try on options in person may be your best bet (says the girl who’s made too many online order returns within the past year!).
-Organize your closet. Literally taking apart your wardrobe and sorting items accordingly will make it that much easier to get ready in the morning and find a suitable outfit. I decided to put my non-work items on a separate side of my closet so that I can focus solely on my professional clothes when getting ready. You also won’t be tempted to reach for that comfy sweater if you see it hanging on the “non work” side. We’ll see how long this system lasts in my own closet, but I know other people who set up their closet the same way and love it.
-Mix low and high. Don’t show up draped in name brands head to toe…it sends the wrong message and can be distracting. Pick a few investment pieces–maybe a nice bag or a pair of designer shoes–and stick to those. You’ll look polished and professional without coming across as flashy.
What are your go-to pieces of workwear and what have you purchased over and over again through the years? I’d love to hear!
I’ll preface this post by saying that I can be so bad keeping up with TV/movies sometimes. I think the last time I saw a movie in theaters was when I saw Beauty and the Beast last spring–definitely glad I went! Even when I watch Netflix, I get caught up in the same shows over and over again (cough, Greys Anatomy) and sometimes forget about everything else out there. There are so many movies in theaters right now that look amazing–The Post, for one–and some new TV shows that I need to delve into, ASAP–HGTV’s new show featuring Society Social’s Roxy Te is going to be a must-watch for me, I love Mrs. Maisel but am still slowly working my way through, and this one also looks great!
In addition to being terrible at starting new movies/shows, I’m also terrible at finishing them. It seriously took me a week to watch The Big Sick, which I talk more about below (I watched most of it on a Friday and Saturday and then somehow stopped with less than 10 minutes left, and then my week got super busy and I didn’t finish the movie until the following Friday…yes, I realize this is not normal! Haha).
That aside, here are three movies I’ve seen this past month and would definitely recommend:
The Big Sick
Online summary: “Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents.
When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.”
My take: I had been wanting to see this since it came out last fall, and it didn’t disappoint. The plot itself is inspiring and adorable (I don’t know many guys who would sit and wait for a girl who they had broken up with to come out of a coma while dealing with that person’s distraught parents!), and the fact that it’s based on a true story adds a really interesting element. I thought the acting was engaging and very genuine (the fact that Kumail, the main character, played himself was probably key to that, haha). I now need to do some more reading about Kumail and Emily in real life! This is a great one to watch with a group or alone; it’ll definitely keep you entertained!
Online summary: “Recently separated from her husband, Alice decides to start over by moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two young daughters. During a night out on her 40th birthday, Alice meets three aspiring filmmakers who happen to be in need of a place to live. Alice agrees to let the guys stay in her guest house temporarily, but the arrangement ends up unfolding in unexpected ways. Alice’s unlikely new family and new romance comes to a crashing halt when her ex-husband shows up, suitcase in hand.”
My take: I had heard mixed things about this one, but I love Reese Witherspoon and thought the overall premise seemed cute, so I was curious about it despite the many negative reviews. I’ll agree with most everyone else that the acting in this movie wasn’t the best, but the house…swoon! There’s seriously so much amazing decor in this movie and it was entertaining enough…it’s a good one to keep on in the background while blogging or answering emails, but don’t rush to rent it.
My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
Online summary: Jesse is a sassy, intelligent woman who has yet to find “Mr. Right”—until she bumps into Ethan, a writer pushed to the edge of despair after having another novel rejected by publishers. For Jesse, the encounter offers more than a chance to inspire the artist in Ethan again. It also opens a new, romantic chapter in her life… with one huge complication.
Moments after meeting the perfect guy for her, Jesse meets Mr. Perfect— Troy, a confident and successful advertising executive who makes almost every moment elegant and romantic. Soon Jesse is in over her head and grappling with the ultimate romantic paradox: what does a girl do when she meets “Mr. Right”… after already meeting the right guy?
Ultimately, what Jesse discovers about love reflects what the audience discovers about the story itself: Things are not always what they seem. My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend is a classic love story turned upside down, a romantic comedy that blends a warm sincerity with fresh, stylized storytelling and some very big surprises.
My take: My sister and I had constantly seen this one in our Netflix recommendations (which are often questionable…haha) and finally decided to watch it a few weekends ago before she left for her semester abroad. She’s a cinema studies minor and would watch anything but knows that I’m basically only good for chick flicks. 😉 The movie was cute and my sister could guess a few of the twists, but the ending shocked both of us and led to lots of Googling after…watch it if you like classic chick flicks but are looking for something with a little more of a surprise thrown in! We were both pretty confused but thought it was a good, underrated movie!
I feel like watching friends purchase their first homes is a bit like watching people get married. First, a few people will do it at a young age, much to everyone else’s astonishment. Then, there will be a lull for a few years as people bop around, and then…boom–everyone is hopping on the bandwagon!
I feel like home/condo ownership is a hot topic and is something my friends and I talk about fairly often. Of course, with so many people living in cities, renting could easily be our future…if only those amazing rent controlled apartments in NYC weren’t so hard to come by! I decided to poll two of my gal pals who each work in different industries and live in entirely different parts of the country to get their take on what it’s been like to go from renter to owner. (One thing they do have in common? Great business/financial sense!).
I remember how exciting it was when each of them told me they had bought their own place, and it has been fun to admire the decorating process see how it’s unfolded for each of them over the past several years. I’ve visited each of their places a handful of times (side note: Maddie lives like three minutes away from my Grandpa! #smallworld) and could totally imagine myself in either of their cities living in one of their gorgeous abodes (but have also seen how much work has gone into making them that way–I visited Allison during her kitchen reno, after all!). I’ll let them take it away…
City where you own: Boston
Age when purchased home/unit: 23
What inspired you to buy? How long had this been a goal of yours? I was looking for a new apartment and wasn’t able to find anything super appealing to me. At the same time, I came to the realization that I had money for a down payment (I had been saving for years, had a high paying job right out of college, and my parents were willing to give me a small loan of their own) and knew that this money would be well spent investing in real estate.
What has pleasantly surprised you about home ownership? Being my own landlord. After purchasing, I re-did the kitchen and took down a few walls (which was a huge pain but worth it in the end) and made tons of changes to the condo to make it my own. Also, how much my property value has increased in the past few years. I’m very glad I bought a condo before the market skyrocketed like it has since.
What was a major wake up moment? Being my own landlord. A few months ago the ice maker in my fridge stopped working and cost several hundreds of dollars to repair. I’ve had a broken burner on my stove for more than a year now that I don’t think I’ll get fixed until I plan to sell or rent out the place. It doesn’t seem worth the money!
How do you handle tasks like yard work (if applicable) and maintenance?Do you hire a professional service or do these projects yourself? After re-doing my kitchen (by professionals), I had this idea that I would do the backsplash on my own to save money. Three years later, I still have no backsplash. I’m not as much of a do-it-yourself person as I once thought.
What do you think is a common misconception people in their 20s have about home ownership? Making any assumptions about people who own. I know people my age in many different income brackets who own or are looking to own their own homes. Also, depending on the market, home ownership might make sense for someone even if they plan to only be in that city for 5 years. Prices can increase a lot in 5 years, and in my experience, it’s been enough time to really make the investment valuable.
City where you own: St. Louis Park, MN
Age when purchased home/unit: 24
What inspired you to buy? How long had this been a goal of yours? It seemed like a smart investment. I didn’t want to waste money on rent, and it seemed like a no-brainer to buy a house.
What has pleasantly surprised you about home ownership? It feels like home!! I was worried about the “feel” of my new home. I went from a trendy, cozy apartment in a cool neighborhood to a completely different type of feel. I live in a neighborhood where I am the youngest homeowner by a few years, and I wasn’t sure if I would feel like it was home when a large part of my decision to buy was for investment purposes. Surprisingly, I have never felt more comfortable and happy with where I live!
What was a major wake up moment? I have these at least once a month. I may be coexisting with mice right now…but don’t worry, I am finding a solution and soon will be mice free. Stuff like this happens all the time. Something is always breaking and there is always standard maintenance. Tending to these areas is not my strong suit, but I am happy that I have to learn to problem solve outside of my comfort zone. I once cut off power to half my house because I thought I could handle a “small” electrical issue on my own… that one I needed to call a professional for. 🙂
Having rented before, what do you now appreciate about being an owner? Building equity, and taking pride in home ownership.
How do you handle tasks like yard work (if applicable) and maintenance?Do you hire a professional service or do these projects yourself? First, I try on my own. Then, if I can’t figure it out, I will call a professional. I was surprised how much I have learned from just from trying and doing a little research. With that said, the craftsmanship of some of my solutions might not be as good as a professional, but I’ve sort of accepted that for right now, it’s good enough. Owning a home can be a huge money pit if you let it be, but I try to be smart about what I can do myself and knowing when I absolutely need a professional (see electrical example above!). I might not have the best yard on the block, but it’s nice enough for me!
What do you think is a common misconception people in their 20s have about home ownership? I hear a lot of people talk about how they don’t want to buy a house because they might move in the near future. I think that is a huge mistake. If you live in well-populated market and you are smart about your purchase price, you’ll most likely have a good option to sell or rent when you decide to exit. There are so many personal and financial benefits to home ownership, and the financial process really isn’t as intimidating as it first seems. (Disclaimer: Maddie is not responsible for any investment decisions made based on her opinion of home ownership :)).
Thanks, ladies! Brb, off to scour Zillow… 😉 But seriously, my hope is that these tips will prove useful for other people in the “should I buy or should I rent boat,” whether that’s now or in five years. Owning isn’t glamorous 100 percent of the time, but it’s good to hear that it isn’t necessarily as scary as it seems!
I’ll be honest that I’m not naturally drawn to neutrals when it comes to decor. Growing up, my bedrooms always incorporated various shades of blue, white, and purple, and had lots of fun decor from PB Teen in similar shades. Side note–love them! 😉 (I still have a blue and purple striped rug from there in my bedroom at home!). My adulthood apartments have also incorporated lots of blue in addition to several pops of color thanks to gallery walls and throw pillows.
However, Alaina and Danielle of The Everygirl know how to decorate with neutrals, and the result is stunning. I know that everyone who sees their home tours is obsessed, but if you haven’t taken a look, you can view them here and here. I also am an avid follower of both of their Instagrams, so I love seeing the little updates (and flashbacks to previous apartments) that they each post pretty frequently.
I’ll admit that following these two ladies has made me more receptive to black and white decor, and I’ve created a little mood board that will help you get “the Everygirl look” at home (and for cheap!). Here are some of my favorite items:
Do you like the neutral look? I love how these rooms can still have so much character and look so well put together as opposed to sterile and boring. Plus, the style is super easy to recreate thanks to the many inexpensive accessories that are available at stores like TJMaxx, Target, and more!
Happy happy Friday! I’m excited to kick off the weekend by going to the Chase Rice concert tonight with my friend Anna. I love country music but have actually never been to a country concert (!), so when I saw these tickets at a great price, I figured, why not?! Expect lots of Insta stories this evening. 🙂 Otherwise, I’m looking forward to taking it easy and squeezing in a workout or two–I just joined a new gym in my neighborhood and now have no excuse not to go! Plus, it’s Superbowl Sunday, which is fun–I’m not really a football fan and have no idea if I’ll be making plans or not, but if you’re celebrating, I hope the odds are in your favor 😉
A few things I’m thinking about this week…
-I’m so excited for Jojo Moyes’ latest book in the Me Before You series to come out later this month! I had no idea that there would be another one, so I’m excited to keep following Louisa’s adventures. I loved the first two books and the movie (plus her others that are not part of this series), so I’ll have to add this one to my list (although I may try to hold off on buying it on Amazon for awhile, because I’m sure it’ll go on sale shortly after everyone has read it!).
-Obviously random, but if you haven’t tried the freshly ground peanut butter at Whole Foods, you’re missing out. One of my coworkers was telling me about it last week and I was skeptical (I’m cheap when it comes to buying certain food products), but the peanut butter is actually super affordable (like $4 for a huge tub) and SO good, omg. I wouldn’t have previously considered myself peanut butter obsessed (PB and chocolate, sure, but that’s another story) and I may now be converted!
-I’m so excited that Bluestone Lane opened up in DC! They actually had a small coffee shop located in my first office building in the city, and everyone who worked there was Australian (the coffee shop is Australian-inspired, if you were wondering!), which was a fun touch! I then tried their famous avocado toast (so good) when they opened a restaurant in Philly and will need to head to the DC location ASAP (partially for the ‘gram).