March Reads

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To be honest, I thought I would have a lot more time to read last month than I did, so I’m surprised that I still made it through five books! Most days, between working out after work, submitting my daily freelance assignment, and then showering and catching up with social media, I’m exhausted by the time I get into bed with a book and only end up reading 40 or so pages. I’ve also had a lot of events and travel with my day job (some of which I haven’t even posted about because it was so quick!) and lots of other personal stuff (generally positive!) going on behind the scenes and have had to dedicate a lot of my free time to that, too, which has made for a crazy past few weeks! April is shaping up to be pretty busy yet again, but I have a long list of books in the notes section of my phone that I’m hoping to tackle, so fingers crossed. 🙂

Now for the reads!

Maybe in Another Life: I’d picked this one up ages ago and I think I’d even started it before putting it down before whatever reason, but I’m glad I tried it again because it was a fun one. Basically, it’s one of those “what would happen if” books (like those “choose your own adventure” ones back in the day!) where the main character is confronted with two possibilities–she either goes home with a particular guy or she doesn’t, but that one decision impacts her life in more ways than one would think. The book explores both scenarios–what happens if she leaves the bar with him or goes home alone, and how the subsequent weeks, months, and even years play out–and honestly, both cases end up working out well in the end, which kind of makes you think! Both paths had major bumps in the road but played out as if they were “meant to be” nonetheless.

Forever Interrupted: This is another Taylor Jenkins Reid book (actually her first) that I had in my pile for ages. I was a little hesitant to pick it up because the plot line just seemed so depressing–a newlywed unexpectedly loses her husband just days after they’re married–but like Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other books, it’s both thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time. I don’t think it was my favorite of the ones of hers that I read, but I liked the storyline about the main character’s relationship with her mother-in-law and how grief is explored through both of their lenses.

The Year of Less: I love reading about books where people streamline their possessions and spending because this probably isn’t something I would be able to pull off for more than a month (just being honest!), let alone a year. Cait Flanders’ book is a reflection on the time she spent living with less (which seems to be an especially common theme these days) and the lessons she learned while undertaking a yearlong challenge of buying only the essentials. While I appreciated the memoir and reflection, I would’ve loved to see more numbers and actual data about her spending versus a general narrative, because the way she sets this book up makes it a little difficult to know exactly how one could replicate this challenge.

My Oxford Year: Yes, this book is a little more surprising in terms of plot than one might imagine, but I knew what was coming going into it and really liked this one. It tells the story of a young American, Ella, who has received a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford and chronicles her adventures–mainly pertaining to an unexpected romance–and the challenges this new relationship poses, especially as she considers all that she has waiting for when she returns home. I’m not going to lie, this book made me majorly miss the time I spent study abroad in Edinburgh in college, and now I really want to see Oxford’s campus, too.

So Here’s the Thing…: I loved Alyssa Mastromonaco’s first book and was excited for this one to come out–I had planned on seeing her speak at Sixth & I earlier in March but couldn’t make it at the last minute, though getting to read the book was the next best thing! I love Alyssa’s writing because she’s funny and self-depricating (two of my favorite qualities in people, TBH) and keeps things entertaining as she describes her work in the White House (building on her first book) as well as her personal relationships, health challenges, and things that many people would consider TMI. Definitely pick this one up if you need a good laugh/story!

I also started Next Year in Havana one weekend when I was at home, but I left the book there and didn’t get it back until recently, oops, so I’m adding it back on April’s to-read list!

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3 Ways to Have a Better Morning

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I’ll admit that I’m totally not one of those people who rolls out of bed every morning as soon as the first alarm sounds. There are more than enough times where I can barely get up and do the bare minimum to get ready for the day (these are the times when bed making = optional). That said, there are other days where I either know I have a busy schedule ahead and want to carve out some me time when I can, or just know that mornings are and always have been my most productive time of day and want to try to use this to my advantage. My mom always reminds me how even when I was a little kid, waking up in the morning and tackling a difficult homework assignment that was bothering me the night before made a huge difference.

In no particular order, here are three things that I try to do in the morning when I can.

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1) Work out. I’ll never be able to be one of those people who works out every morning, as I just generally feel much better when I’ve had food in my stomach and have energy from the day that I want to burn off. However, on days where I know I’ll have after work commitments (my office has a lot of evening events, for example), I’ll make an extra effort to squeeze in a workout early. I usually sign up for a class on ClassPass rather than going to my gym in order to give myself an extra dose of motivation–cancellation fees are a major no-no! My favorite spin studio, which happens to be in my neighborhood, also offers morning classes at a discounted rate (it’s still somewhat pricey when shoe rentals are factored in, but it’s cheaper than paying for SoulCycle or Flywheel), so I like to go to those when I can. I’ve come to really appreciate this little studio even though I rarely talk to anyone else as I come and go (#sleepy). It’s just nice to have a place that I like in the neighborhood, and the eight minute walk to and from my apartment helps me get amped up for the class and then for the day. If I have time (I usually don’t or convince myself not to spend the money), I’ll grab an iced coffee or a yogurt on my way back home from whichever studio I go to, which is an added perk.

2) Read! This past January, I read in bed for half an hour or so before work for what seemed like almost every day! I would go downstairs, make a cup of coffee and maybe grab some breakfast, and then climb back into bed and enjoy some uninterrupted reading time. Unfortunately, as work and life has picked up a bit since then I haven’t been able to do this as much (I’m never one to turn down extra weekday morning sleep), but I’ve still made an effort to try every now and then and have really enjoyed it.

3) Check something off my list. As I said, there are some days where I barely do the minimum in the morning, but other days, I somehow become extra productive. Earlier this week, I carved out time to see the cherry blossoms before work since I know how crowded the Tidal Basin gets later on. It was so nice being down there with a small crowd and getting some walking and pictures in before starting the day. Other days, I’ll tackle a quick organization project or do something like assemble a gift bag I need to bring to an event later in the week or even just stay in bed for a bit and write a blog post. I love being able to check something small off my list before the day starts.

What’s on your daily morning agenda, and does your daily schedule change all the time like mine?

Photos by Kimberly Graydon

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Mixing Antique & Modern

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I know that I’ve showed this nook tons of times before, but I haven’t gotten great pictures of it since I (well, a TaskRabbit) hung this black Urban Outfitters sconce back in January. I love how the area looks with this addition–and the extra light was certainly much needed–but I also appreciate the modern touch that this light fixture adds to the space.

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While I 100 percent have an appreciation for antique and vintage pieces, I never want my home to look too stuffy or “old lady,” especially because I’m still in my 20s and kind of have the freedom to decorate however I want right now (without having to compromise on styles with a significant other or pick up after kids!). The stuffiness can happen when I actually am in my 70s or 80s…though, honestly, that may just be a stereotype, because my 87-year-old Grandma has the chicest style. 🙂

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In order to add some “youth” to my collection of cane furniture and vintage-looking wall decor, I’ve picked up a few key pieces (in addition to the sconce, of course) that I think work well with this small space–1) this small Serena & Lily stool (also, whoa, the prices on these have gone up a ton since I purchased my set last year), which is airy-looking and doubles as an excellent plant stand, 2) a classic jute rug that keeps the space looking light, and 3) a crocheted hanging plant pot. The lucite CB2 nesting tables, which I purchased off of Facebook Marketplace, are also a vintage/modern hybrid, given that these pieces become popular in the ’70s but their clear, clean look translates well to today.

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I’ve loved working in this little space in the mornings or on days that I’m tackling assignments at home, and I even recently had my landlord install a pendant light on the other side of the room (yay, even more light!), so I’ll have to get a few photos of that sometime soon!

SarahLyon_3-10-19-46Photos by Kimberly Graydon

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Rug Revamp

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I honestly think that the right rug can truly make a room feel “done” (or as close to done as you’ll get if you’re me). I’ve tried out a few different rugs in my bedroom but realized that something with bright colors works the best against my dark wood floors. For awhile, I tried to go for more neutral colored decor to make my space really feel cabin-like and serene, but it just felt like something was missing.

I love browsing Etsy to find the perfect vintage rug and have found such amazing deals that I’ve stopped defaulting to traditional websites selling newer items, but then I stumbled upon this option and changed my mind because it totally looks vintage! (I purchased it from Birch Lane, but it’s the Loloi brand and is sold on other similar sites as well, just search the style to find where it’s cheapest at the moment!). Immediately, I knew it would work perfectly in my space (I ordered the 5 by 7.6 inch size), and I’ve been so happy with the pop of color it adds to my room.

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As for other decor updates–I snagged the pair of brass sconces for $20 at the Georgetown Flea in January and love the midcentury modern look! The bench at the end of my bed is something I’ve had for awhile now and people always comment on it–it’s great because it can fold up for storage, and it actually is something I scored on Amazon Prime! I wrote an article for Apartment Therapy about it, because it really is such a useful piece!

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My duvet cover is from Amazon as well, but I’ll admit that white was a bold choice (#spillprone). However, it’s super cheap (only $15 at the moment; I believe it was $25 when I bought it) and easy to replace if needed. I just am not coordinated enough to drink coffee/snack in bed without spills/crumbs ruining things, so I’ll never be able to justify expensive bedding! I talk more about the mirror/chair area in the background in this post, if you’re curious!

Photos by Kimberly Graydon

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Fun Finds to Celebrate Women’s History Month All Year Long

I can’t believe that March is already almost over–this month really flew by, and I’m so excited for more warm spring days ahead. While March is officially Women’s History Month, who says we can’t celebrate girl power all year long? I realized that many of my stores have amazing products that encourage us to do just that, and I’ve rounded them up here!

(A side note: over the weekend, a bunch of DC area design bloggers met up for brunch at Momofuku and it was such an amazing experience–major shoutout to the ladies who helped put this event together! Two of the women who attended are IRL friends–shoutout to my bookclub ladies!– and I had interacted with a couple more on Instagram–so it felt like we’d met!–but the rest of the attendees were completely new faces! That’s partly what made the event so great–we finally had a chance to come together in person, get to know each other behind the ‘gram, and support one another. I have to say that some of the ladies in this group have been my BIGGEST cheerleaders and I’m so grateful for them! I left the event feeling so positive and happy to be a part of this incredible community, and I can’t wait to see what these talented women will do next!).

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1) Ok, maybe I need to just go ahead and order this little tray (tray hoarder over here) because I keep coming back to it! It’s the perfect statement piece with a powerful message (and gorgeous colors).

2) I shared this Women’s March Puzzle in a holiday gift guide roundup and people seemed to really like it! It looks like it’s now sold at several stores, including The Paper Source, which has a ton of amazing products with female empowerment themes. This would be a great gift!

3) A few of my favorite coffee table books just so happen to celebrate women. Pick up Bad Girls Throughout History, 200 Women, and In the Company of Women and prepare to be inspired.

4) A simple reminder in sticker form!

5) I love popping into The Outrage on 14th Street, and it turns out they have a shop online, too! Shop this postcard and more on their site; all proceeds support organizations fighting for social change.

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The Best of TJMaxx.com, Vol. 1

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Ok, at this point, essentially 99 percent of my posts could be categorized under “the best of TJMaxx.com,” given that I frequently browse the site and have found so many amazing things on there. However, in an effort to keep everything organized, I figured I’d start doing roundups each month (or maybe even more frequently depending on how many good new arrivals I find). People are always shocked when they learn that they can indeed shop this beloved discount store from the comfort of their own home–for those who appreciate the thrill of the hunt but don’t want to navigate crowds or chaos (so, all of us!), it’s the perfect solution.

Here are some of the products I’m loving this month:

Yes, you can snag one of the coveted Mason Pearson hairbrushes at TJ! (Yes, the price tag is still insanely expensive for a hair brush–these guys sparked quite the debate when I posted about them on Insta stories awhile back–but if you were in the market for one anyway, this is a great option that allows you to save a chunk of change). Basically, these brushes have a cult following among those who love them, and for those who haven’t heard of the brand–or haven’t found the brushes to be that life-changing–they’re considered ridiculous! I was just shocked to find them at TJ. Don’t worry–TJMaxx.com also sells every style of Wet Brush under the sun (I love these and have two–one for my bathroom at home and one that I keep in my work bag!).

Aren’t these the cutest little crossbody bags for summer?! It’s no secret I’m a sucker for wicker/rattan bags of any kind, and these exact styles are sold at boutiques for twice the price, so it’s definitely worth scooping up one (or two!) here. I ordered this one and can’t wait to bring it on my trip to Nashville in May. This option is also adorable, and the inside fabric is so perfect.

All of the boho babes out there will love this cute wind chime that can go inside or outside–it would be the perfect wall accent! Also, how amazing is this mudcloth pillow that’s only $20? And a salt lamp for just $6?

I own and love this little bar cart-themed dishtowel set–it makes the perfect hostess gift!

It’s easy to build up a coffee table book collection with all of the options on the site that retail for a fraction of what they’d cost on Amazon or other bookstores.

Nars and other makeup brands for less? Yes, please! Grab this lip pencil and other beauty goodies for a discount on the site. I could scroll through the beauty section for hours, there are so many good options.

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A New Glimpse Into My Room + Easy Art

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Thank goodness for getting some updated home pictures taken the other week! I decorate and redecorate so often that it’s hard to capture all of my apartment changes in a timely manner (and let’s be real, I’ll forever be arranging and rearranging, so I’ll never be able to fully keep up!). However, I always love when I get a new batch of photos in from photographers that I work with, because it means I can finally share some new snippets of my home on here–this little nook in my bedroom being one of them!

When I first moved into this space in fall 2017, I placed a desk in this area–I primarily used it as a vanity/storage. Then, my building’s handyman kindly redid my closet doors (they used to slide open, and I had asked if it would be possible to install accordion doors instead, as this makes it much easier to see everything inside, especially since this part of my room doesn’t have great lighting at all times of day). This much-needed upgrade has been amazing, but it also ate up some wall space and made it so that the desk I’d placed in this nook didn’t fit as well. I turned it facing the other direction–it originally was flat against the brick wall–but I never fully loved how it looked there.

In the fall, though, I came across the gold standing mirror of my dreams on Craigslist! This thing was HEAVY, and I had to hire a TaskRabbit to help me carry it up to the loft (though I did manage to carry it up the three flights of stairs leading to my apartment all on my own, which was no small feat, trust me). I snagged it from a nice family redecorating their kids’ room and paid only $70, which was an amazing deal for such a large, well made piece.

I now love having a full length mirror to use while I’m getting ready each morning, and it just opens up the entire room so much, too. To jazz up the area, I placed a Chippendale chair (only $25 on Facebook Marketplace, score!) in front of the mirror and hung some artwork off to the side.

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I’d shared a glimpse of this artwork when I’d gotten it made in the fall but never shared a final picture of it hanging, but if you’re looking to recreate the look, it’s so, so easy. I simply ordered an Ottomi placemat on Etsy for under $30 and took it to a local framing store (using a coupon, of course–custom framing is so expensive!). Within two or three weeks, the framing was complete, and I couldn’t be happier with the final product! I may have to order some smaller pieces of fabric and do more of these, as I love how Ottomi prints look grouped together.

I couldn’t be happier with how open and bright the area looks now–all thanks to a few thrifty finds and a little DIY!

Photos by Kimberly Graydon 

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My New Citrus Plant

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Guys, major #plantladystatus over here! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently added a citrus tree to my collection. I got so many questions about it that I figured I would do a quick post on here!

I had long wanted a citrus tree, but I wasn’t sure if it would thrive in my space (one plant store I went to explained that I needed sunlight to come in from a certain direction, so I held off on purchasing, partly because that tree was more expensive and I didn’t want to bring it home just to accidentally kill it!).

I then was at my local hardware store last month (ACE Hardware in Logan Circle, if you’re curious) doing my usual plant section window shopping, when I saw another customer asking about a citrus tree that had recently been set out. It looked like it was growing oranges or lemons (the brand is called “The Other Orange,” but Googling this hasn’t given me a final answer as to what exactly is blooming), and I thought it was the coolest thing–particularly for just $40. Unfortunately, the other customer ended up buying the plant (there were a few others on the floor, but they weren’t starting to bloom yet, so I decided to hold off in fear of bringing home a “faulty” tree).

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Of course, I’d been lusting over these trees ever since and even called several other ACE Hardwares in the area, but many didn’t have any for sale. I then stopped in on a whim (the night before my TV appearance, actually!) and lo and behold, there was a gorgeous, blooming lime (I think!) tree for sale, so I had to bring it home with me.

For only $6, a hardware store employee will pot the plant for you (I did have to purchase a pot, but I found a relatively inexpensive one hidden among pricier options), and the person helping me did an excellent job! He helped me decide how high up I wanted the plant to be positioned in the pot, and then added fertilizer, moss (to help with water irrigation), and a stake (the tree was a little off-center). This extra expense was so worth it–the plant not only looks amazing in the pot but also will be much more likely to thrive thanks to all of this care!

I’ll keep you posted on how this guy survives in the coming months. I positioned it right near a window as the employee suggested, and I love looking over and catching a glimpse of the flowers and fruit!

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Facebook Marketplace Finds!

Photo by Heather Bien
Photo by Heather Bien

Happy Friday! I’m popping in with a quick post to share a link to the interview that I did on Good Day DC yesterday morning, where I talk about all of my favorite finds from Facebook Marketplace! It’s been an amazing place to source everything from peacock chairs to a dresser to an Amazon Alexa (I purchased one that was brand new for just $15!), and I hope you all enjoy the interview! This was my first time on camera and the interview was completely candid (ie: not scripted!) and LIVE, so needless to say I was a bit nervous, but I’m so happy with how it all worked out and am grateful I had the opportunity to open up my home to the DC community! It was such a fun experience and I’m so appreciative of everyone who tuned in!

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Six Cute Vases to Use as Lamps

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I’ve read a lot of posts like this one where people turned a pretty vase or jar into a lamp using a simple bottle lamp kit from the hardware store or Amazon, and it really doesn’t seem like that difficult of a DIY…which of course led me to browse tons of beautiful jars just in case I decide to take it on myself! I’ve rounded up a ton of amazing options at various price points (all are under $100) if anyone is up to take this on sometime soon–there are seriously so many cute options that I don’t know what type of base I would pick!

One//Two//Three//Four//Five//Six

 

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