FRIDAY FEELS, #21

Happy, happy Friday! Weirdly enough, I’ve been away for the past two weekends (and will be away next weekend for a wedding), so I’m looking forward to some time relaxing at home and taking advantage of summertime DC things. I had my five year college reunion the first weekend of June and had a blast–some things never change–and was in NYC for a work trip last Thursday and decided to make it into a weekend visit.

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NYC was chaotic and sweaty but a blast as usual! I ate way too much ByChloe (when are they going to open one up in DC?!), caught up with several friends, ate dinner at Bar Primi, saw Mean Girls on Broadway (it was SO good!), visited my favorite little used bookstore, and more. All in all, it was a solid weekend! I’m glad that I opted to come back late Saturday night instead of on Sunday–NYC can be exhausting, so it was nice to have a day to catch up on stuff at home and visit my family for Father’s Day, too.

A few things I’ve been doing/trying this week…

Ocean’s 8: I haven’t seen any of the other Ocean’s movies but knew I wanted to see this one regardless. It was so good!  All of the actresses were amazing, and the movie was equally hilarious and riveting. Everyone in the theater loved it! I actually went by myself and now I’m totally obsessed. I’d go to movies alone sometimes when I first moved to Philly and didn’t know anyone, but I don’t see movies that often in general, so I haven’t gone solo in awhile. Pro tip- AMC theaters offer $5 (plus tax) tickets on Tuesdays, and you can also buy popcorn and a drink for $5, which is such a good deal compared to the normal prices. The theater in Georgetown also had the most comfortable seats that reclined and had footrests. For $12ish, it was the perfect midweek activity/distraction!

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Matcha soft serve: I’m not a huge matcha fan but wanted to try the soft serve at Bon Matcha (which is right near my office) anyway. I didn’t love it (although the swirl that I got had a delicious honeydew flavor) but am glad I tried it–it was still refreshing and obviously looked cool (#sorrynotsorry). I’ve been to Cha Cha Matcha in NYC a few times but generally get their lemonade drinks…matcha just isn’t my thing, but if you like it, definitely check this place out in DC!

Shipt: I decided to try ordering groceries on Shipt, which is Target’s food delivery service. I actually really like a lot of Target’s grocery items, which are also super affordable. While I don’t have a need to have things delivered to my apartment, I stumbled upon a promo code that allowed for two free weeks of the service and free delivery, so I figured I may as well try it (not having to lug stuff around in an Uber was a bonus, too!). Unfortunately, my delivery arrived super late (I requested for it to come between 10 and 11 pm on Sunday night, and the delivery person didn’t arrive until 11:55, which was WAY later than I intended to be awake, especially before the start of the week). She also texted me throughout the shopping trip keeping me posted on which items weren’t in stock and suggesting alternatives. This was definitely helpful, but I was glad that I chose a time that I was awake and at home as opposed to in a situation where I couldn’t have been texting, like if I were sitting in a meeting or at dinner. I ended up emailing the company the next day to complain about the late arrival time–I hate to do stuff like that, but I was pretty frustrated that I ended up being awake for practically an hour later than I intended to be (and I’m almost never up past 11:15 during the week in general!). They gave me a $15 off coupon for a future delivery, which I used later in the week, but that arrived late as well and ended up being a bit of a hassle…all in all, Shipt is a useful enough service if you can be flexible and by your phone, but it doesn’t make sense for me in the long run.

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Craigslisting: It wouldn’t be a DC to a T post without sharing a fun Craigslist find! A ton of people excitedly messaged me on Instagram after I posted a story sharing this gorgeous lucite table I snagged for only $25 last Sunday (I’m glad you guys appreciate my fun finds!). I did have to travel a bit further than usual (into Alexandria) to pick it up, but it was so worth it. The seller was the cutest older woman who told me that she had owned the table for 10 years (it looks flawless, though, which is especially remarkable with lucite), and purchased it for $599! Talk about a steal on my end–though transporting it up the stairs to our first floor was a two-person job, and there was absolutely NO way I would be able to bring it up to my room, which was my original intention. However, it works as a great console in our living room area and is a great quality piece that I’m sure I’ll keep for years to come. I’m still working on the styling, but you get the idea.

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5 Things I’ve Learned from Doing DIYs

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

While I’m far from a DIY expert, I love knocking out a spray paint or sanding project in my spare time. It’s so satisfying seeing a piece of furniture go from blah to beautiful in a matter of hours. However, I’ve also started several projects that ended up being huge flops, and I know plenty of other people can relate! Here are some things I’ve learned from my DIY drama.

1) Patience is key. It may be tempting to start that spray paint project on a super hot or windy day because it’s the only free weekend you’ll have for awhile, but you’ll only end up more frustrated if you begin your work under less than ideal conditions. Check the weather (especially during the summer) to determine whether spray paint will hold or just end up all messy, and if you need to wait a few weeks, it won’t be the end of the world–you’ll thank yourself when your final product looks amazing!

2) Be realistic. I’ve done some DIY projects that I’m super proud of and others that have made me want to start crying! The end result likely won’t be as pretty as the images you see on Pinterest, so if you would feel more comfortable enlisting a friend or professional to help, do it. Even if you snag a cool vintage piece that’s seen better days for cheap and pay someone else to refinish and paint it, it will likely still be a better deal than buying a completed piece from the local antique shop.

Hado Photo
Hado Photo

3) Do your research. I’ve found that asking questions at the hardware store and doing some Googling can really help–it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when purchasing your materials.

4) Painting over paint isn’t always a great idea. I’ve learned the hard way that painting over an existing paint color is super difficult and doesn’t always look great, even if you sand beforehand. As noted in the point above, do your research and figure out if the project you have in mind makes sense to take on, or if it’s better to leave a painted item as is and live with it.

5) Dress accordingly. It seems like a no brainer, but there have definitely been times where I’ve figured plastic gloves would suffice and of course ended up getting spray paint all over my jeans. Wear old clothes and cover your hands; you’ll thank me later!

What DIY tips do you have? I’m more of a painter/refinisher but would love to hear what it’s like to build something from scratch…I haven’t been that ambitious thus far, but I love the look of custom pieces.

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How to Host a Party When You Feel “Too Busy”

forbetterdays4@gmail.com
forbetterdays4@gmail.com

I love entertaining. Opening up my space to the people I love most, connecting old friends with new ones, shopping for the perfect party accessories, and eating delicious food and concocting yummy drinks…yes, please! However, it’s often a little overwhelming to play hostess, even for a small group, due to all of the planning involved. This is especially the case when entertaining during the week. We recently had a party on a Friday evening, which was a blast, but it took some thoughtful prep time during a busy week to make sure that everything was ready to go by after work time the day of our get together.

I’ve realized that while it’s nice to be able to devote an entire Friday evening or Saturday morning to party prep, it’s entirely possible to knock out tasks in smaller increments before/after work the week-of, so I thought I’d share some of my findings on here for how to best prep a few  days in advance.

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3 days before the party: Figure out what you plan to wear and do laundry if necessary. This gives you plenty of time to sort through options and make sure your clothes are clean and ready to go. Think about what you want to serve (if you haven’t already) and make a physical or mental grocery list. If your home isn’t naturally clean/organized, start tidying now! If you’re out and about and see non-perishable items you’d like to pick up (chips and salsa, drinks, party decor, etc), grab ’em!

2 days before the party: Head to the grocery store and pick up all of the remaining essentials. You don’t want to shop too much earlier, or fresh items may start to go bad (or accidentally get eaten!). Continue tidying your house so that you won’t have much to do the day-of.

1 day before the party: Remind guests of the event and the best way to get into your apartment/find parking/etc. This is especially useful for weeknight events when people may be planning to head to your place straight from work and need to make arrangements ahead of time. Empty overflowing trash and recycling bins and do a quick vacuum.

Day of the party: Before leaving for work, make sure your place is 90 percent ready to go, your outfit is set out, and you have all of the supplies you need for the evening. Take out any remaining trash, wipe down the bathroom sink and counter tops, and make sure toilet paper is set out, a clean hand towel is hanging up, and soap is well-stocked (trust me: there’s nothing worse than going to someone else’s house and encountering an unsanitary bathroom situation!). Once you get home, you can start setting out plates and cups, chopping up fruit and vegetables, and setting up your drink station. After that, change, do your hair/makeup, and set out any refrigerated items. Pour yourself a glass of wine and wait for guests to arrive!

What I love about breaking things up into small steps is that each of these tasks can be done in 5-10 minutes so that party prep doesn’t take away too much time from your normal weekday routine. Have any tips to add? I’d love to hear!

 

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A Trick for Keeping Track of People You Meet

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I’ll take a quick second to note that I’m actually really good (like, scarily so…) at remembering people/conversations (so much so that my friends often rely on me to recount their own interactions–and I could probably tell you what I was wearing at the time, too!). But when you work in a people-centric field and exchange business cards at various events and meetings, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. While going through my wallet the other day and looking at the various business cards I had collected over the prior couple of weeks, I decided to implement a (very low-tech) system: writing where I’d met the person on the back of each card. I now have details such as “plane to Boston” or “winery event” at the ready, just in case I need to reach out to that individual in a couple of months (or hear from them) and can’t place them right away, which often happens via email.

I like to always keep a few business cards in my wallet at all times and have been more comfortable with giving them out in less traditional circumstances, like to a seatmate on the plane (this was relevant based on our conversation). However, it’s funny to me that in such a digital age, we still rely so much on paper cards. I wonder if it’ll all change in the coming decades!

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Do you have any tips for remembering names/details? Sometimes I’ll also take a picture of someone’s business card if I don’t want to worry about losing their info while on a trip or if I don’t have a good place to put it at the time. My mom actually does this with address cards–that way, she always has relatives’ contact info readily available (and I should really do this, too, so that I’m not constantly searching through old emails when it’s time to send a thank you note in the mail).

I’d love to hear your tips for staying organized on (and off) the job!

Photos by Heather Bien

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All the Craigslist Buying and Selling Tips You’ll Ever Need

I’m thrilled to have written a post with Stacy, an IG-friend of mine turned real-life friend! Stacy has given me everything from career advice to thrifting advice…what more could a girl want? Though she’s a busy mom with a full-time job downtown, Stacy still manages to make time for all things decor through her blog and Etsy shop, which features tons of vintage finds. I also absolutely love how her husband is totally on board with her amazing scores and passion for design (#goals). You can see photos of their gorgeous home on her blog and Insta (and she just bought a house, so I can’t wait to see what she does with the new place, too!).
And now…here’s our massive post about all things Craigslist (and a few of my favorite items that I’ve scored on there over the years)! Whether you’re buying, selling, or just browsing, we have tons of tips to make what may seem like a sketchy online experience feel way more like browsing a high-end boutique (without the crazy prices!). Trust me, there are some serious gems on the site, you just have to do a bit of digging. And if you have any of your own advice to add, we’d love to hear!
Navigate Craigslist - Sarah

Sarah and Stacy here, also known as your resident Craigslist addicts. We’ve put our heads together to come up with a joint blog post where we share our massive list of Craigslist tips, whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or just browse. Happy hunting!

Tips to sell:

-Post clear pictures and a detailed description. Sometimes I have forgotten to take and post measurements and then get tons of questions from interested buyers. It’s easier to anticipate questions like these ahead of time and include this information in the original posting. Be clear about what it is you’re selling–sure, your coffee table is clear or see-through, but is it technically also acrylic or lucite? Does the vintage dresser you’re selling happen to be campaign-style? Do a little research before writing your post–who knows, maybe an item is worth a lot more than you thought, and adding specific words can also help you show up in more searches.

 

At only $65, this antique-looking dresser perfectly fit my vision. Heather Bien
At only $65, this antique-looking dresser perfectly fit my vision.

-It’s better to be honest about an item’s flaws than to hide them. It’s a waste of time for you (not to mention, for the buyer) to schedule a pickup only for the buyer to change their mind because they weren’t aware of a scratch or mark that diminishes the quality of the item. (Obviously, all used furniture has some amount of wear and tear, but if you look at your item and see immediately see anything that stands out as less than perfect, disclose it!). I’ve had instances where I’ve gone out of my way to grab something only to realize that it’s much shabbier than it looked online. I usually have still taken it home with me (I have a hard time saying “no!” in general!), but it can be frustrating.

This bar cart (originally from All Modern) came from CL at a discounted price.
This bar cart (originally from All Modern) came from CL at a discounted price.

-Price items fairly. Even if something is like-new (maybe you took it out of the box and realized it just doesn’t work in your home), still think about offering a discount. Otherwise, why would a buyer have incentive to purchase it from you rather than directly from the retailer? Prices don’t necessarily need to be garage sale low, but they shouldn’t scream boutique furniture store, either. Pricing items to sell is the key to getting them out of your house, fast!

-Remove sentimentality from the equation. I’m sure your great grandmother was the sweetest woman on earth and obviously she had great taste because I’m interested in her table! But, don’t price with your heart – price with your head. If an item is really that special to you, perhaps you should consider holding on to it for a few more years until you are ready to part with it.

Tips to Search:

-Look up style terms for things you may be interested in purchasing. If you are a fan of mid-century modern furniture, then terms such as “MCM” and “mid-century” may give you desired results. If you know even more specifically what you want, then look up terms like “Parsons” or even a designer like “Baughman,” or “Baughman-style,” if you are okay with the item being a reproduction.

Searching "lucite" allowed me to snag this pair of gorgeous end tables for just $50!
Searching “lucite” allowed me to snag this pair of gorgeous end tables for just $50! The gold trunk was more of a splurge at $100 but worth it given how much vintage brass ones go for on other sites.

-Not sure what you want? Then describe the piece in your search terms, such as “oak table” or “fabric sofa.” Make sure you use all combinations of words. For this example you may also want to search “fabric couch.”

Ihad been searching for a campaign dresser FOREVER before coming across this one (I snagged it and a smaller piece for only $50 total). After a professional paint job, it looks good as new! Hado Photo
I had been searching for a campaign dresser FOREVER before coming across this one (I snagged it and a smaller piece for only $50 total). After a professional paint job, it looks good as new! Hado Photo

-If you are dead-set on getting a particular type of item, create an account and save your searches. This way you can be alerted via email when new items are added to the site. Be careful, however, if you add terms like “mid century” and save an alert. You may be getting a huge amount of emails as things are listed with that term throughout the day.

-Look for potential in an item. Even if a piece isn’t perfect now, that doesn’t mean it won’t look adorable with a coat of fresh paint and some new hardware. While it is difficult to find a classic piece in pristine condition, a little DIY will go a long way. If something has seen better days but still has good “bones,” use your imagination and think about what it would look like in a new shade or with some modern updates.

My blue dresser used to be an ugly shade of yellow. It was easily transformed using a few coats of spray paint! Hado Photo
My blue dresser used to be an ugly shade of yellow. It was easily transformed using a few coats of spray paint! Hado Photo

-Scroll, scroll, scroll. You can craft the best search in the world only to stumble upon a mid-century gem that was simply described as “dresser.” If you’re feeling patient, just click through current listings page by page, and you might be surprised at what stands out. (Maybe you’ll find something you didn’t even know you needed!).

Tips to purchase: 

-Email/text a seller right away after seeing the posting, as sometimes items can get snagged in a matter of minutes! If you need further information, like clarification on color or measurements, ask away. If you know that you would 100 percent like to purchase an item, say so, and note that you can come by at such and such time (the sooner, the better) and ask if that would work with the seller’s schedule.

This rattan console is a favorite piece of mine. The previous owner had spray painted parts of it gold!
This rattan console is a favorite piece of mine. The previous owner had spray painted parts of it gold! The abstract art is also a Craigslist score. It came framed at a fraction of the original cost.

-Use correct grammar and spelling in your email. I have definitely ignored messages that are less than coherent because they don’t give off the best vibe…you’re a stranger to the seller, after all, so you want to put your best foot forward! Be clear, polite, and succinct, and you’re more than likely to get a prompt response.

This peacock chair is one of my favorite recent finds.

Negotiate price ahead of time. If you are exchanging messages with the seller, make sure to be clear about the price you are seeking. Be reasonable when expecting a bargain.  Shaving off a few bucks is appropriate but asking for half would likely insult the buyer and may end the deal.

-If the seller requests cash only, bring exact change. Don’t expect people to have small bills on them (and worst of all, don’t show up $5 or $10 short and then ask the seller on the spot if they would be willing to take less, unless you spot a major flaw in person). I often ask people in advance if they’re ok using Venmo, especially for larger purchases, but some people may say no. Plan ahead and stop by an ATM en route to picking up your purchase, and I guarantee the seller will thank you!

I love this cane chair that I scored for $30, but I did not love waiting over 30 minutes for the seller to arrive at our meeting spot! Heather Bien
I love this cane chair that I scored for $30, but I did not love waiting over 30 minutes for the seller to arrive at our meeting spot! Heather Bien

-Don’t be late showing up to pick up the item, and if you need to reschedule or are stuck in traffic, contact the seller sooner rather than later. Exchange phone numbers if you haven’t already, assuming the seller is willing.  Respecting other people’s time is always KEY. (Same goes if you’re a seller–if you tell a buyer you’ll be at home or plan to meet them by a shopping center at a particular time, be there!). I once had to wait at the metro station (our designated meeting spot) for over 30 minutes. I debated leaving but reallllly wanted the chair that the person was selling. However, the experience was annoying and left me a little creeped out, especially because the person wasn’t being responsive to my calls or texts for the firsts 20 minutes or so before finally stating that she was on the way.

 

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Recent Purchases I’m Loving

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I love getting a sneak peek into other bloggers’ shopping carts, so I thought I would do a quick roundup of some of my favorite purchases as of late…let me know if you’ve tried any of these items!

Peacock chair: I had been wanting one of these for ages and finally found a great one on Craigslist. It was still fairly pricy, but it was a great deal compared to ones I’d seen elsewhere online. The best part was that the seller lived only a few blocks away, so I didn’t have to worry about fitting it into a car to bring it home (although I did look a little silly walking through Dupont carrying the chair over my shoulders–and got a few compliments on it along the way!). I’m loving how it looks in my upstairs space, and it’s super comfortable and adds a great boho touch.

Linen comforter. I’ve constantly been hearing rave reviews about linen bedding items and have used linen sheets once or twice but wanted to look for a comforter or throw blanket made from that material as well. I actually picked mine up at Marshalls of all places, but there are many similar options online. It’s perfect for folding over a plain comforter or duvet color or using on its own, and the fabric is just so comfortable and is an ideal weight for this time of year.

White noise machine. I’m lucky in the sense that I usually have no trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, even if I’m in a new location. However, Alaina posted on IG stories about this sound machine a few months back, and I was curious and wanted to scoop it up to give it a try! I don’t use it every night, but I’ll turn it on if if it’s especially loud when I’m going to bed (which can happen frequently, as my apartment is located on a major street in an area filled with bars and restaurants) or if I’m feeling restless and want some white noise in the background. You can choose what “sound” you want it to play, but I just use the generic white noise setting each time…I don’t really know who would find the tropical sounds appealing! Obviously, there are free apps that do the same thing as this machine, but for $30, I feel it was a worthwhile purchase.

Bedside lamps. I have changed up my bedside lamp situation more times than I can count over the past few months, oops. It took me forever to find a setup that I was satisfied with aesthetically, but I think I’ve finally arrived at a winner. I spotted these gold lamps on Jess’s blog awhile back and waited a bit to order them–since my preferences change all the time, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to change my mind–and thankfully they were still available and shipped out super quickly. I love the gold and the classic shape. I believe Target released a similar style at some point, but I haven’t seen it online anymore. At $50 each, they’re a great buy for really any room.

Annie Selke throw. I snagged this throw on major sale and am in love with the pattern. I really shouldn’t have bought two bedding-related items back to back (#priorities) but they match and work as a set! The tie-dye pattern (designed by Bunny Williams) is perfect for summer months goes with the rest of my blue and white bedroom decor.

Lululemon tote bag. This bag is also a fun tie-dye print and will be perfect for summer travel as a carry on. I have a black Lululemon bag that’s similar and holds all of my gym stuff, though this bag is slightly larger. The material is sturdy, looks super easy to clean, and the bag as a whole got great reviews, so I’m excited to test it out as I travel later this week! It’s seriously soooo spacious!

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3 Things I’m Glad I Did in College (and 3 Things I Regret!)

Ok, confession…I’ve had this post sitting in my “drafts” folder since FEBRUARY. I know. Every time I looked it over, I felt like it was too geeky or too personal or too college-search-self-help site-esque to publish, if that makes sense? But I’ve decided to run it this week, because 1) I’ve loved some of the more introspective posts that a few of my favorite bloggers have been posting over the past few weeks, and 2) Reunion is right around the corner (it’s this coming weekend!), and I’m feeling nostalgic. 🙂 I’ve kept the text the same as it was when I wrote it several months ago, so it isn’t totallyyyy up to date, but the sentiments remain the same!

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I’m starting to plan for my 5-year college reunion (so, so pumped!) and I’m getting just a little sentimental about going back (although I’ve already been back once in 2016 to move out my sister after her freshman year, once in 2014 for our one-year reunion, and honestly should’ve gone back way more than that). On that note, here’s a little look back at what I’m thankful I did in college and what I wish I did differently (though to be honest, I’m sure the things on this list could change depending on the year/month…these are just a few I could think of at the moment!).

Things I’m glad I did:

Picked my specific major. Most of my friends in college were either bio or econ majors, and while I never felt any pressure to pursue those paths (despite being the daughter of an econ professor, oops!), sociology was still less common compared to things like government, English, and psychology. Freshman year, a friend’s (now ex) boyfriend even went as far to basically tell me that what I was studying was worthless and he couldn’t respect anyone who majored in that field (although I think he felt that way about anything that wasn’t econ or a hard science…) which was just straight up rude but didn’t really phase me because I loved what I was doing! I think I called my parents after and was like, “What just happened?!” I really appreciated how small my major was and how it didn’t necessarily draw one type of person. That said, there are totally times I wish I could go back and do something completely different, although I’m not sure what I’d choose.

Yes, I may have "hired" a photograph on my newspaper staff to do a campus photo shoot of my friend group senior year...

Continued branching out senior year. I was texting one of my friends (who I met senior year!) the other week and was telling her that honestly, 75 percent of the people I’m close with from college and talk to on a daily/weekly basis are people I met senior year (aside from the 5 girls I’ve been close with since day one/freshman year, several of whom are pictured above!). I remember being in New York the summer before my senior year and being so excited to go back to school but also feeling terrified that I’d already “met” everyone already (not an uncommon feeling on a campus with 1,800 students). And while I loved my group of friends (I seriously miss them every day!), I kind of wondered, “what now?”

However, whether I met them in class, at our campus pub (ha!), through an extracurricular, or through a mutual friend, some of these “newer” friends–who are both guys and girls–have become my biggest champions and supporters and are people I can talk to about literally anything and have had many a tearful phone call with over the past few years. Even if you feel super comfortable among your small group, it doesn’t hurt to go outside your comfort zone a bit and branch out. Plus, these new people will likely have their own little close-knit groups, and it can be SO refreshing to meet someone who is outside of your circle and can serve as an objective sounding board on any issues going in within your little group, and vice versa!

Lived on campus. While only a small percentage of people at my college lived off campus, it was still a somewhat popular thing to do senior year (as was living in an on-campus apartment). However, I’m happy I chose my little dorm room and could eat in the dining hall every night (seriously, the things I would do to not have to buy food/cook my own dinner…). Living on campus made it easy to get around during the day and was a “luxury” that you just don’t have in real life!

As for what I regret…(um, does graduating count? I want to go baaack!): 

I (kind of) wish I’d studied for the GRE while I was IN college. Taking it a couple of years later wasn’t a huge deal (plus, I was fortunate that 1) I had a work situation that was very 9 to 5 and allowed me to duck out on time to study, and 2) said work situation didn’t require any weekend assignments, which meant that I could spend entire Saturday mornings taking practice tests). However, during my senior year, I definitely had enough downtime that I could’ve studied here and there, and the material would have been more fresh (but for the sake of my social life, I’m glad I didn’t! It was much easier to turn down going to bars or hanging out with friends in “real life” than it ever was in college).

Being so hard on myself. Not necessarily in terms of school specifically, but more in terms of how much I lacked confidence in myself and worried about what other people thought. (Turns out, a lot of people felt the same way, whether they felt “stuck” portraying a certain image in a friend group or just didn’t love their time in college that much). I definitely beat myself up too many times and try to do less of that now!

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Not doing more things in Maine. This seems like a dumb, cop-out answer even as I’m writing it, but I definitely could have taken more advantage of the things right in my college’s own backyard–Maine’s called Vacationland for a reason! Granted, I don’t ski/drive so I was missing out on a pretty major activity/had more difficulty getting off campus (they still don’t even have Uber in my college town!), but I wish I had done things that were even as simple as trying the ice cream place down the road before senior spring or taking a trip to Acadia. However, in the grand scheme of things, I still did a lot of stuff when I could (plus, it’s kind of like living in DC…you only do the “touristy” things when people are visiting), and as for the rest…I suppose a few more trips back are in order!

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Modern Maine Moodboard

My friend and former classmate Nikki (who I met in Spanish class my freshman year of college!) reached out the other day letting me know that she and her boyfriend just bought a house in downtown Freeport, Maine! They’re looking to create a “modern Maine look” featuring “mostly neutral colors with splashes of navy and a reddish coral,” and are hoping to mix in some antiques along with newer pieces.

Of course I immediately said I was on board to scour the internet for some fun pieces to match their style. After browsing a few of my favorite sites, I immediately found tons of amazing items that I’m hoping match the vision that she has for the house.

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Among adorable home goods from .L.Bean are this nautical door knocker and striped throw pillow, as well as the fitting Freeport sign.

 

A tall plant, whether real or fake, is always necessary to add some life to a space.

A velvet navy blue bench with gold legs brings some modern glam to the space–and would look great draped with this coral patterned throw–while the coral ottoman can double as a foot rest and extra seating for guests.

A coffee table book with a Maine touch is key!

These baskets are 100 percent functional for farmers market runs but also make great decorative accents.

Fun ceramic berry baskets play up the “Maine blueberry” connection and also add a touch of order to the kitchen.

The best wall art is witty without being cheesy. This historic phrase fits well with the Maine theme.

When putting a space like this together, it’s easy to achieve a cohesive, collected look by setting out with a color scheme as Nikki did and shopping around different types of stores–the worst mistake, in my opinion, that someone can make is ordering everything from the same place. Your space will look more like a showroom than a home, and you’ll miss out on finding those special finishing touches that tie the whole place together. Adding local finds is always a great choice–Nikki mentioned that the L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport has some great Maine art that they don’t sell elsewhere–and eye-catching artwork also helps a space reflect its owners and truly feel like home.

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Colorful Rugs Under $150

My friend Sara texted me the other day looking for advice as she shopped for a rug for her entryway. She lives in an adorable studio apartment in my neighborhood and has the coolest mix of furniture and accessories–items she picked up while serving in the Peace Corps, like a set of woven African baskets, colorful artwork, and my favorite, an old-fashioned mint green diner table that she inherited from her great-grandmother.

Sara’s apartment largely is a mix of pink, mint, and brown, and she wants to find a rug that’s 1) under $150 and 2) is warm and welcoming. She has plenty of floor space to work with, but the trick is to find an affordable piece that ties the room together.

Here are a few of my favorite finds:

Turkish rugs are having a moment, and for good reason! I love the one I ordered on Etsy earlier this year and constantly swoon when I see pretty patterns in other people’s homes. The trick is finding a nice piece at the right price–Turkish rugs can go for hundreds. However, I’ve found many Etsy shops that have reasonable deals–for the real thing–and also ship items out speedily!

Sara and I liked this rug a lot, but it’s too small to meet her needs. However, the colors and pattern were just what she had in mind!

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This muted style would go well with her light pink duvet color and mint green accents.

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Similarly, this one would also look gorgeous in her space.

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Target has some great rugs that are larger and still more affordable. I particularly liked these two styles for her space.

This is technically $9 over budget, but it’s a great size and shade.

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This one is such a steal at less than $70!

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This one is such a steal at less than $70!

 

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May Reads

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Thanks to Memorial Day Weekend, I read quite a bit this past month! A lot of these were more light-hearted reads (with a good thriller and thought-provoking nonfiction read added into the mix), but it was fun to read some rom com-type books (which used to be the only kinds of books I would read), especially with beach read season right around the corner. Below is a recap…

Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve been a longtime fan of Sophie Kinsella (seriously–my best friend and I started reading her Shopaholic series in the 7th grade!) and am always excited when I hear a new book of hers is coming out. While this one wasn’t one of my all-time favorites (there are many of hers that I just tear through and end up reading multiple times), this story was cute and humorous thanks to Kinsella’s signature writing style. It tells the story of a couple in their early 30s who have been together for 10 years and are happily raising young daughters when they find out that they could easily live to 100 and therefore have 68 more years together. This sends them into a panic–they love each other, but spending that much time with one person strikes each of them as terrifying–and they (humorously) try to spice things up as a result. Meanwhile, a family secret is uncovered that alters the dynamic of their relationship at the same time. If you’re a fan of rom com-like books or just want a fun read, I’d definitely suggest this one!

The Wedding Date, by Jasmine Guillory: Ugh, this book was so cute that I had to keep putting it down because cynical me couldn’t handle its adorableness (what do you mean two people who meet randomly in an elevator immediately decide to maintain a long distance relationship?!). But I still completed it in one day; it was the perfect, light-hearted read about two career-oriented people who meet right before a wedding, “fake” being dates, and decide that they actually do like each other enough to keep things going as they head back to their homes in Berkeley and LA. Of course, there are some bumps in the road, but I loved the ending. It would honestly be an adorable movie (though the plot is similar to basically everything in the rom com section on Netflix!).

A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, by Sally Franson: I had high hopes for this one after having heard it described as being similar to the tv show The Bold Type (one of my faves), but I just couldn’t fully get behind it. It follows the personal and professional journey of young woman who works in marketing in Minneapolis (not in NYC, which is different in a good way!). I guess I’m somewhat mixed in my review–the narrator is annoying and just not likable, but at the same time, she raises some realistic points about what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace. There’s a cute romance involved but the narrator just has too many other issues to sort out, and while the book kept me engaged (I read it on the plane), I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.The book seemed to cycle on and on without really going anywhere significant, and there were a lot of unnecessary details that reminded me of things I think of as “ideas for future books” but probably wouldn’t make the cut in the final version, if that makes sense.

Hey Ladies, by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss: I also thought I would love this book and based on the Amazon reviews, I’m one of the only ones who didn’t. Obviously it’s supposed to be a parody of sorts about female friendships, but again I found the characters out of touch (though that was sort of supposed to be the point) and think that this book could have gone in a totally different direction and had a lot more substance. To my IRL friends–given that I didn’t like this book, you guys won’t either (too harsh?!); while it was entertaining, I just don’t think it would resonate with the women I know (who care about issues far greater than brunch and SoulCycle!), even as an “ironic” read.

Dear Madam President, by Jennifer Palmieri: This NYT bestseller (which I snagged from the library after little wait!) was a super quick read, but it packed a punch. It’s set up as a letter to the first female president, whoever that may be, written from Jennifer, who was the director of communications for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 (she also previously worked as the communications director for Obama). The piece describes the horror Jennifer and the rest of Hillary’s team felt in the days after the 2016 election while also imparting wisdom for women that honestly can be interpreted to apply to any work setting. If you’re looking for an inspiring read with a political twist, this is it!

The Woman in the Window, by AJ Finn: I had been wanting to read this since January–seriously, it took forever to get off the waitlist at the library–and almost caved and ordered it on Amazon but knew it would be worth the wait. The narrator, a woman with agoraphobia, thinks she sees a murder across the street, but all evidence states otherwise. Is she making things up or did something actually happen? The book was a little slow at the beginning, but it captured my attention and made me wonder what to actually believe. Like any good thriller, there were a few pivotal twists–that I didn’t expect at all–and a flawed narrator who you still can’t help but like.

Romancing the Throne, by Nadine Jolie Courtney: I decided to pick this one up after reading Katie’s review on her blog, and it was the perfect post Royal Wedding read. It follows two sisters in boarding school–who have an adorably close relationship, until both fall for the same guy (who happens to be a prince) and drama ensues. It’s more of a YA read than my usual picks, but it was a good guilty pleasure book for sure–and it’s perfect for royals fanatics!

Oh, and one more–this wasn’t really a full “book,” given that it was an extended copy of the speech that Lauren Graham gave at her high school, which is right across the river from me in Virginia–but I also read In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It. Despite its short length, it was an inspirational read nonetheless–and I actually learned quite a bit about Lauren Graham in the process as she wrote about failure, finding a passion, and the gratitude she has for her career.

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