Things to Do on Your Staycation

As much as I love taking long weekends over the summer and traveling to spend time with my family or see someplace new with friends, staycations can be pretty darn relaxing, too! I took a few days off at the end of June and primarily used them to catch up on life. However, if you have day off (maybe you’re in town for the Fourth with no real plans) coming up and are stuck at home with no idea what to do, here are my ideas…

Things to Do on Your Staycation

Whip up a new drink recipe: Ok, so I tried making frozen rosé before (read about my adventures here), and it was amazing, but frozen rosé in a watermelon?! Now that’s even more festive (not to mention, it’s totally insta worthy if that’s your thing). Check out this recipe I spotted on Pinterest and let me know if you decide to try it!

Things to Do on Your Staycation

Make DIY abstract art: Mine will never turn out as beautiful as Shannon’s, but it’s still fun to make. Head to your local craft store and grab a canvas and some paint and go to town.

Things to Do on Your Staycation

Read a whole book in a day: I absolutely love reading while on vacation and always fill my suitcase with tons of books. I’m known to finish one (if not more!) books in a day and love lying on the beach (or in an air conditioned room, tbh) reading the day away.

Things to Do on Your Staycation

Plan out your next “real” vacation: Make a list (on the computer or just using pen and paper) and map out the places you’d like to see on your next scheduled trip. I need to sit down and look into specifics for Paris sometime soon!

Things to Do on Your Staycation

Try a new beauty trend: Ok, I don’t think I could pull off this banana leaf nail design, but spend some time pampering yourself or trying out that hair tool you impulse bought months ago and never sat down to use.

 

Five Things I Did My First Summer in New York

…That I’d do again in a heartbeat!

Five Things I Did My First Summer in New York

It feels crazy writing this, but the first time I spent a summer in New York was FIVE years ago in 2012! I was participating in a summer journalism program during which I interned at Parade Magazine, lived in an NYU dorm room with roommates who came from various parts the country, and overall just had a blast working in and exploring the city. The biggest highlight was definitely authoring the Olympic-themed cover story (available online here!) for a July Parade issue, even though I was so nervous at the time while putting it together!

It’s funny how even though the city has changed so much over the years (cute shops and restaurants keep popping up EVERYWHERE, as shown in my post about my most recent visit), there are tons of things that remain NYC classics. So if you’re heading to New York for the first time or spending your tenth summer there, add these activities to your list!

1)   See an outdoor movie. My roommates and I actually stumbled upon this one night but it ended up being a blast. I think the movie was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory…but I was more excited about the free popcorn and treats! Lying the park and watching a movie with friends after a long day of work is seriously the perfect summer activity.

2)   Head to Dylan’s Candy Bar. Dylan’s is a classic, at least in my book. If you like ANY type of candy, I guarantee you’ll be happy, because Dylan’s truly has everything! There’s a whole wall of different flavors of gummy bears, different themed candy bars from each decade, and (my favorite) plenty of dispensers so you can go around and fill up a bag with a little bit of everything. Go, go, go!

3)   Eat in Little Italy. It may seem overly touristy, but Little Italy is adorable and perfect for a summer night. Grab a glass of wine and a delicious bowl of pasta and enjoy dinner outside while people watching. Can you really think of a better combo?!

4)   Have brunch at Alice’s Tea Cup. This Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant has several locations across the city, and it’s the perfect spot for a little tea or breakfast date. It can definitely get crowded, but it’s an adorable photo opp and the food is great!

5)   Picnic in Washington Square Park. On weekends, the grassy area is packed with people lying out, eating, reading, and relaxing. There is always some great people watching in this area, too. Bring a friend or just bring a book and some snacks and spend a lazy afternoon outside.

Bestie Q&A

Bestie Q&A

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

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

Bestie Q&A

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

Bestie Q&A

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

Bestie Q&A

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

SARAH’S ANSWERS:

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

 

SHELBY’S ANSWERS:

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

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

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

Bestie Q&A

DC, Fall 2016.

Bestie Q&A

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

Bestie Q&A

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

Bestie Q&A

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

Bestie Q&A

That’s a wrap! Thanks for reading!

4 Ways I Cut Back on Spending

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

4 Ways I Cut Back on Spending

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

4 Ways I Cut Back on Spending

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

4 Ways I Cut Back on Spending

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

4 Ways I Cut Back on Spending

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

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

 

Lusting Over…

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

Lusting Over…

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

 

FRIDAY FEELS, #5

FRIDAY FEELS, #5

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

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

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

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

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

NYC Recap

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

Here’s a quick rundown of the trip…

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

NYC Recap

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

NYC Recap

NYC Recap

NYC Recap

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

NYC Recap

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

NYC Recap

NYC Recap

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

NYC Recap

NYC Recap

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

 

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

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

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

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

If you like the above look, try this…

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

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

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

If you like the above look, try this…

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

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

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

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

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

Copy Cat: Lauren Nelson’s Bedroom

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

 

FROZEN ROSE

FROZEN ROSE

Last summer, frozen rosé, or frosé, became a big trend in cities like New York and DC (Brixton on U Street makes an awesome version, if you’re local and itching to try it!).

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I had plans to catch up with a friend on Sunday night and decided to make my own frosé to celebrate! I was thinking about pouring rosé into an ice cube tray and then mixing it in a blender, but after consulting Grace’s recipe, I decided to follow that instead. Rather than using all of the ingredients she lists, I chose to blend strawberries with a small amount of water and pour that into the gallon-sized bag that I’d filled with rosé. I popped the mixture into the freezer for about 6 hours, poured it into glasses, and garnished with a strawberry. While I had been worried that the mixture would be too frozen and would need to be thawed a bit before serving, the consistency was totally fine (thought it wasn’t as smoothie-like as Grace’s appears to have been).

FROZEN ROSE

So if you’re looking for a fun drink to make for your next gathering or just want to try something new with that bottle of rosé you have lying around, I’d recommend this recipe (if you can even call it that–it’s so simple) 100 percent! If you make your own frosé, let me know how it turns out (my guess is I’ll make this again and again, but maybe with different bottles/flavors of wine–it’s perfect for summer!).

TRIED & TRUE

TRIED & TRUE

If you could name three or four of your favorite items of clothing, what would they be? For me, if I’ve had something for several years and still want wear it all the time, I know it’s a hit.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved anything patterned, so tops with any sort of print basically dominate my closet (Francesca’s is one of my favorite place to look for printed shirts, btw). But would I call these pieces classics? Nah. They experience too much wear and tear, and certain patterns go in and out of style reaaaal quick. Anyone remember the chevron craze of 2012? I basically owned everything in that pattern–pillows, storage boxes, tops…you name it!

One item that I’ve absolutely loved for the past four-plus years is my green J.Crew field jacket (and I also recently purchased the navy version on Poshmark–it’s equally adorable!). I ordered this jacket when I was a senior in college, and it’s held up amazingly throughout the years. It’s great for fall and spring alike (especially with this chilly May we’ve been having) and looks classic, preppy, and put-together. I know literally everyone and their mother owns this jacket, but it’s for good reason!

Another favorite purchase would have to be my Hunter boots. I started wearing fun patterned rainboots in high school and discovered Hunters in college. I’m not sure how “in” they are anymore, but most people I know are still wearing them. What’s great is that they’re both cute and functional, which, when it comes to shoes, can be somewhat rare.

At the risk of being overly basic, I’m also going to have to pay tribute to my navy Longchamp tote. I’ve loved Longchamps for the past 10-plus years and purchased a large bag in Navy before my junior year in college. I rotate my work bag a ton to switch things up, but I’m currently using the Longchamp and loving it. It holds a ton and is waterproof, which is key for commuting. It’s also trendy without being flashy and I don’t think Longchamps are done yet–I still see plenty of them everywhere!

Runners up? A good pair of skinny jeans will take you far, as will a good pair of running shoes. I loved my black Tory Burch flats for years but finally had to “retire” them after they became too torn up. I live in riding boots in the fall and winter, and they’re honestly perfect for work, a night at the bar, a football game, etc. Thankfully I am well stocked in that department–I just scored a new pair on major sale!

What are your faves?