Best New York City Themed Gifts

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This coming weekend (!) I’m going to New York City to visit college friends as well as grad school friends, and I couldn’t be more excited! Ever since I’ve moved away from NYC (and even when I lived there, to be honest) I keep finding the cutest city-themed decor–and the best part is that it isn’t at all cheesy (which can be tough in a city filled with touristy souvenir shops!). Here are my favorite items…time to start a NYC collection?

1. Tiffany NYC mug//Ok, this is super pricy for a mug, but how cute is the design?!

2. NYC print//I’ve loved these prints for ages, and they also sell a DC version!

3. NYC pillow//Bring the big apple home with this fun piece.

4. NY cutting board//Over the top? Nah. Plus, it’s available on Amazon.

5. NYC mug//These mugs are SO cute and inexpensive. My friends and I are obsessed with them and love the different state options!

I’m so excited to be back in the city soon. My last trip up was in June, and it’s been far too long. I’m excited to hopefully try some newer places that have opened up since I’ve moved: by CHLOE (I want to try the regular meals as well as the sweets!), Levain Bakery (somehow I never made it over there while living in the city, but since my friends all live on the Upper West Side, it’ll have to happen!), and a bunch of restaurants downtown (every time I see a cool place on Instagram, I take a screenshot, so I’ll have to start making a master list!).

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Loving Lately

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1. Nest holiday candle//I purchased the mini one on sale, and it smells so good.

2. Cards Against Humanity//I just bought this using a gift card I received for Christmas, and now I’m seriously thinking a game night is in the, uh, cards. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this game!

3. Capture Your Style//After seeing this book all over Instagram, I had to pick up my own copy. In addition to having an adorable cover, it also contains some great advice pertaining to building a personal brand.

4. The cutest jar//Perfect for storing food, nail polish, Valentine’s Day candy…love the gold scallops!

5. All of the tea//I brought a whole box of this flavor into the office the other day, and it’s the perfect cold weather pick-me-up.

What are you loving lately?

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A Mini Vanity

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I’m kind of in love with my little vanity area next to my bed. While living in Philly, I snagged this vanity for $25 (it came with a small mirror that could attach), and it made its way with me when I moved to DC. This summer, I had the idea to paint it (my mom did an excellent job!), and once I saw the end result, I thought it would work great as a desk.

After living in my apartment for a few months, I realized that I rarely sat at my desk (I’m very guilty of #bloggingfrombed) and decided that I’d rather go back to a vanity situation. Inspired by Pinterest (of course), I moved the table next to the side of my bed and love the look. The table is the perfect size to double as a space for getting ready while also serving as a nightstand (it usually holds my latest read + a cup of wine or coffee depending on the time of day).

I knew I wanted to hang a large mirror above the vanity table, but I was having trouble deciding whether I wanted to go for an old, ornate look or do something modern. When I stumbled upon this mirror from Target, I knew it was the one. It looks just like designer versions (honestly, I don’t know why someone would pay for a more expensive lookalike, as this one is great), and really makes the space pop. I stuck one of my x-benches (also from Target, but purchased via Craigslist this fall) under the vanity, and it’s a great way to add seating without eating up space.

***Looking for a vanity table of your own? I love this one in either color.

Not sure what to put on top of your vanity table? I wanted mine to contain the essentials without looking cluttered. I keep a jar (love this Mint Julep style one from the Sugar Paper line at Target) full of makeup brushes, a tissue box with a fun cover, a small piece of art, and of course, a candle! Again, since the area does double as a nightstand, I placed a lamp and a fun coaster off to the side as well. Easy peasy and a fun way to dress up a bedroom if you ask me!

The images that inspired me…

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5 Small Ways to Keep Your Apartment Tidy

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I’ve always been a clean freak, but living alone has made me realize what a mess one person can make! I feel like I’m constantly taking out the trash, vacuuming my floors, doing laundry…blah!

My guess is that, whether you live alone or with roommates, chores consume a large part of your week (or weekends) and somehow you always feel like there’s still more to be done. While it’s tempting to shove all of the clutter into a closet and call it a day, that’s obviously not the most sustainable choice in the long run. Today I’m sharing five tips that work for me when it comes to keeping my apartment in order. Even if you hate cleaning more than anything else, at least you’ll be in less of a scramble if a friend (or parent!) decides to stop by last minute.

1. Make. your. bed. There’s a reason this is always the first thing people tell you to do when tidying up your home–it really does make a difference! When sheets are haphazardly curled up in a ball and pillows are scattered across the floor, it’s hard to get into a “clean” mindset. Of course there are some days when I’m running late in the morning and barely have time to brush my teeth, let alone pick up after myself, I always feel better when I cross this simple task off of my mental list.

2. Vacuum. I kid you not when I tell you that my first Christmas present after graduating from college was a nice vacuum (#adulting). If you don’t have one, get one–you’ll thank me later when your floors are spotless!

3. Designate a “recycle” area. I keep a paper bag in my kitchen at all times and use it to collect soup cans, bottles, and cardboard packaging so that it’s easy to bring everything down to the recycling bin at once. Don’t let empty wine bottles clutter up your counter (or worse–end up in the regular trash!).

4. Toss those freebies. Unless it’s something you’ll actually use, you can toss that promotional notepad or magnet and make room for more special items. The last thing you want is extra junk cluttering up your already small space.

5. Magic erase. I’m convinced that magic erasers are one of the best inventions ever. Whether you have a small scuff stain on the wall or can’t get that mark off your stovetop, grab a magic eraser and go. to. town. You’ll thank me later 🙂

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Dinner is Served

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m very fortunate that my job offers a “meal plan” (one of the perks of working at a school!) and the food is GOOD and affordable. Lunch is always my biggest meal of the day and always has been since I started working (yes, I’m one of those strange, strange people who would prefer to feel full at work). However, dinner is more of a struggle for me. I’m not a cook and also aim to do my workouts at night, which means I eat later than I’d like to and get lazy. Lazy as in, I’ll just heat up a can of soup or have some cheese and crackers. Not good.

Leave it to Pinterest to inspire me with some recipe ideas that look easy, healthy, and tasty. My goal is to try making at least one of these this winter, and if it goes well, I’ll report back…

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Hey, 2017

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Happy 2017! With the new year here, what better time to start sharing a few goals, plans, and thoughts? Check out some of mine below.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to take a bartending class–or a mixology class, as they’re often called–and am on the hunt for the perfect place to enroll in one in DC. Requirements: affordable, easy enough, and convenient…anyone have any recs?

I have two weddings coming up in early 2017 (one in February and one in April) and I’m excited to celebrate with college friends and also expand my travel horizons. The April wedding is in Seattle, and while I’ll only be there for a few days, I’d love to hear about any must-see or must-do things to add to my list! It will be my first time traveling there and right now the only things I associate with the city are Starbucks, Macklemore, Bill Gates, and Grey’s Anatomy. Help a girl out!

Speaking of weddings, my friends and I have been going back and forth sharing our outfit ideas with one another. One debate that came up: is black appropriate for an evening wedding? What about in general? I’ve googled and found mixed answers, although most people seem to believe that in this day and age, black is a yes.

Looking to step up your Insta game? This book has gotten rave reviews (not to mention the cover sure is pretty) and I just picked up a copy of my own. Time to add Aimee Song to your “following” list.

Has anyone taken a self-defense class in DC? It’s something I’d like to do, maybe with a friend. Again, if you have recs for places that are affordable, informative, and convenient, let me know…

Whew. Time to enjoy one last day of relaxation before the work week kicks into gear. Happy New Year, all!

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The Best Feel-Good Movies on Netflix

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HAPPY 2017! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Years Eve. I was sick and had to cancel my plans (so bummed) but ended up having a pretty relaxing night in…Indian delivery + blogging + watching NYE coverage on tv = fine by me!

Now that the holidays are over, it’s easy to feel down in the dumps. Several of my friends have been dreading heading back to reality, and I don’t blame them! Between several days of vacation and a sick day, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been spent a full day in the office.

While 2016 has definitely been deemed the year of good TV, I always like going back and watching old favorites, and Netflix has no shortage of feel-good movies available to stream. Looking to cure those winter blues? Here are a few of my lighthearted faves:

10 Things I Hate About You: I loved this movie in high school and haven’t re-watched it in ages. It may be time–I love Julia Stiles and I guess I have a theme going here, because she also stars in the Prince & Me!

Serendipity: The cutest holiday movie that also happens to take place in NYC! When I lived in the city, I ventured over to Serendipity to get the famous frozen hot chocolate a few times and now I’m craving it just writing this…

Grease: Another one I haven’t seen in ages! I’ve been obsessed with the Grease soundtrack lately (no idea why) and am going to have to watch this one again soon!

The Prince & Me: Another cute, fluffy movie that’s perfect for anyone obsessed with royals (isn’t that all of us these days?!).

Love Actually: I’m not as into this one as everyone else seems to be, but how could I leave it off this list? It’s a great one to watch year-round, so don’t feel bad turning it on even after the holidays are over.

The Parent Trap: Ok, when I heard that The Parent Trap was coming to Netflix in January, I thought it was going to be the version from my childhood, not the original. However, I’ve seen this one back in the day and would probably watch it again…but give us the Lindsay Lohan version sometime soon, ok?!

Bridget Jones Diary: A classic, and who can resist Colin Firth and Hugh Grant (they also both star in Love Actually). Make it a marathon and watch both back-to-back!

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Your Study Abroad Cheat Sheet

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Happy New Year’s Eve! It’s crazy to think that at around this time FIVE (wait, what?) years ago, I was getting ready to spend a semester abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was super, super ambivalent about going (I had barely spent any time out of the country and was so in love with my college that I didn’t want to leave!) but like most people who study abroad, I had an absolute blast and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

It’s funny to think about how much technology has changed since my experience away, though. I didn’t even have an iPhone back then (my friends and I all bought cheap European phones that we would refill or “top up” every time they were running low–do people still do this?), I brought my digital camera everywhere (I’ve barely touched it since, oops!), Instagram was barely a thing, and Snapchat didn’t exist at all yet. When we were walking to friends’ houses, my flatmates and I would write down directions on post-it notes. Uber wasn’t a thing yet, but we took taxi cabs when necessary, although they were cash-only and required some preparedness! Basically, I was living in the dark ages 😉

Things that haven’t changed: I was always the group photographer, talked to my family and friends back home constantly (although it was via Skype, email, or Facebook messenger!), and I kept a blog (aka a password-protected Tumblr that I only shared with close friends and family, ha!).

If any of you are in the same boat and are about to spend time overseas (many graduate programs have an abroad component these days, too!), this packing list is for you. Of course, my suggestions may not apply to you if you’re going somewhere completely out of the ordinary/have different tastes and preferences, but many of the ideas below are pretty general and should come in handy whether you’re going to Australia or Argentina!

1) Peanut butter. If you like peanut butter, you’ll understand that you can only go so long without it. Of course, they did sell peanut butter in Scotland, but it wasn’t American peanut butter 🙂 Pack a big jar of your favorite type–you’ll thank me later!

2) Reusable water bottle. This is perfect for weekend trips, workouts, going to class, etc…no need to worry about lugging plastic bottles from the grocery store to your flat or paying for overpriced bottles at the airport.

3) Journal. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to jot down notes (or even simple things like directions) while traveling. A journal will be fun to look back on when you’re home and is portable enough to bring anywhere.

4) Clothes, but not a TON of clothes. Again, this depends on where you’re going, but I found it helpful to bring items that are versatile and are easy to wear again and again. I brought a couple of dresses, a few pairs of pants, a range of tops, a Patagonia pullover, workout gear, and a few pairs of shoes (including a truly pair of riding boots that I had to get re-soled thanks to the cobblestone that’s all over Edinburgh!). As for coats, I brought a peacoat (a classic!) and a raincoat. I also purchased Bean Boots prior to going abroad, and they couldn’t have been more useful for travel (I was on a program that took a few hiking/outdoorsy trips). I discovered Primark while I was abroad, and it was a game changer (it’s basically a cross between Forever 21 and Target and has everything from home supplies to cheap apparel to accessories and more. I ended up purchasing clothing that actually lasted quite awhile but also bought items that I didn’t feel bad about tossing at the end of the semester, such as sweaters that I purchased for about 4 pounds each (less than $8). I also bought tons of scarves (probably like 10!), and those were great additions to my otherwise limited wardrobe. For themed events, my friends and I usually purchased items at Primark or at the thrift stores that were all over Edinburgh.

5) Earplugs. I always kept these in my room in college, and they’re a lifesaver. In my flat abroad, my room was right next to the kitchen, and that meant that I would often hear my roommates socializing in there after I’d gone to bed (#earlybirdproblems). Rather than passive aggressively pounding on the wall (which I may have done a few times, oops!), pop in some earplugs and kiss the outside world goodbye.

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Don’t forget other must-haves like converters for your electronics, a camera, basic first aid and cosmetic supplies, etc. As for beauty supplies, I brought my own makeup but ended up purchasing a hair straightener in Scotland. I already owned a hair dryer from a previous trip to the UK, and I brought that with me as well. The hair straightener was so-so, but the weather in Scotland wasn’t super conducive to stick-straight hair anyway! I ended up experimenting with new hair styles and lived with it, haha. Despite all of my preparedness, I did have a few fiascos–for example, I was wearing Invisalign at night at the time, and I opened the next set of retainers only to find that they were fit to someone else’s mouth…whoops! My camera also broke halfway through the semester, but thankfully my mom was able to bring me a new one when she visited in March. All things considered, though, I was very fortunate that I didn’t have luggage stolen (other students on my program did), get mugged (this happened to one of my guy friends), or get sick other than battling a small cold.

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In 2016, I…

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I’m writing this from bed and am hoping the cold I have will clear up a bit before NYE…ugh! Since the end of year has me, like everyone else, in a reflective mood, I thought it would be fun to look back on some of the highlights of 2016 (since it can sometimes be difficult for all of us to remember the positive aspects of the year!).

In 2016, I…

Completed my master’s in higher education. I started graduate school at what ended up being a very difficult time in my life personally, and I’m very proud of myself for completing an intense, one-year program during what was often a stressful year. If you’re considering grad school yourself, check out this post or feel free to email me with questions! My program provided me with a fresh start, a new city, and paved the way for my current career, and I couldn’t be more thankful!

Started reading more. Even in graduate school, I tried making time to read for pleasure, and it’s been wonderful! In New York City I rarely read after work (too many distractions!), and now I’m doing a better job (although I could definitely benefit from putting my phone/laptop away more frequently and picking up a book at night). I’ve loved writing book reviews on the blog and sharing my favorite reads with you all, and I’ll definitely keep doing so next year.

Worked as a hostess after finishing graduate school. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t beat myself up a bit for not having a job lined up the moment I graduated. However, this ended up being a blessing in disguise, as I was able to take on some different types of roles while in the process of interviewing for my current position, which began in July. Until I moved back to DC, I was living in my grad school apartment in Philly. In June, I worked part-time in a few offices at Penn and hostessed at a nearby restaurant at night. I absolutely loved hostessing, and even though I only did it for a short time, I am so glad that I’ve now developed a skill that will always come in handy should I need part-time work. I also now firmly agree with the belief that everyone should work in the service industry at one point. Both of my parents have also worked in restaurants when they were younger–my mom was a banquet waitress and my dad had been both a dishwasher and a short-order cook! I honestly loved the social aspect of the job (I think my friends got tired of my gushing about it!), learned so much about different types of people, and developed a lot of transferrable skills (not to mention a new favorite Pandora station, aka our brunch playlist!). I also loved when friends and prospective Penn students stopped by the restaurant–making conversation for 10 paces was never easier 😉

Started this blog! I have read blogs forever (I became addicted to several the summer after my freshman year of college) and finally took the plunge to start my own (I did have a short-lived fashion blog in college, but interior design is where my true blogging passion lies). Some days I haven’t been super motivated to update my blog (I’d rather just come home from work and read other people’s, haha!), but I’m hoping to keep posting steadily next year. While I’m certainly starting small, I have really enjoyed writing posts so far (what better excuse to online window shop?!) and meet other bloggers online and via Instagram. Here’s to some real life meet-ups in 2017! Thank you to everyone who’s read, liked, commented, etc–it means a lot!

 

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Teenage Dream

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I came across the above image on Pinterest, and while it’s described as a “teen” bedroom, I think it would make a pretty cute 20-something room, too. I love the pattern mixing, classic furniture, and overall peaceful feel.

Little known fact: Traditional “kid” stores such as Pottery Barn Kids, PB Teen, and the Land of Nod have adorable home furnishings that would work well in adult homes, and they’re great sites to scour when looking for everything from moroccan poufs to memo boards.

Here are a few of my favorite picks from each store–let me know what you like the best!

PB Kids:

Gold dot frames

Rope mirror

Task lamp (20 percent off with code EXTRA20)

PB Teen:

Bow chair

Dotted sheets

-Throw blanket

Land of Nod:

Faux leather pouf 

Campaign nightstand

Scallop wall shelf (Under $30!)

Gold wall shelf

 

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