Budgeting in a Big City

Having lived in New York City for almost 3 years now, I’ve gotten to experience the inner workings of city life very closely. One of the most important aspects to a 20-somethings life in the city is money, even if they don’t want to admit it. We want to spend the money on a nice lifestyle since we are “adults” now, but at the same time need to make sure we are saving money for important things down the road. It’s no secret that New York City is one of the most expensive places to live. Having lived in different boroughs and different neighborhoods and having seen it all, this is my guide to budgeting in a big city.

Force yourself to food shop

Grocery shopping in New York City is arguably one of the hardest things about living here. You have to drag around huge bags of food once you are done, limiting the amount you can buy at one time. Lines are always typically crazy at the best places (ahem, Trader Joe’s).  On top of all that, prices can be outrageous and can make eating out actually seem like a better deal. I’m here to tell you it isn’t. Even just grabbing stuff for breakfasts, snacks and something small for lunch can help offset a ton of eating out costs. Plus its healthier!

Choose your credit cards wisely

I love having my American Express Blue Cash Everyday card (no this is not an ad!) because it gives me 3% cash back on all U.S. Supermarkets. Not only does this make grocery shopping an even greater value, it really motivates me to haul all of those groceries home! I also have a small variety of other cards that give me points on travel, or cash back in other places that really helps when you least expect it.

Become a smarter renter

For any person living in a big city you know that apartment prices can be out of this world. Broker’s fees and moving costs add up to be a crazy ton of money. I actually am guilty of moving several times while I have lived here, but have learned a few tricks along the way. Sites like Joinery or Roomi make finding a no-fee apartment or new roommate super easy, which cuts out unnecessary middle man fees.

Be honest about your social schedule

If you know that you can’t necessarily afford another dinner out, be honest with your friends. Talking about money can sometimes be awkward but I’ve always found that people are super willing to accommodate (chances are they wouldn’t mind saving a buck also). Change your plans to involve a dinner night at home instead, skip the boat cruise tickets to go kayaking on the hudson for free, etc. The Skint is also a great email publication about cheap and free things to do in New York City every day of the week.

Don’t take money too seriously

We all deserve to treat ourselves, and my best advice is don’t take money too seriously. If you have been eyeing that ONE THING at Aritzia that you would wear with everything in your closet, go for it! If your one space alone during the week is getting a mani/pedi, go for that too! Living in a big city can be stressful so finding a balance of conservative vs. liberal spending habits can help keep your sanity in check.

How to Wear a Menswear Inspired Blazer

Flashback to 5th grade and you would see me out shopping with my mom and pulling out button downs, pinstripes and sleek flats. Definitely not typical 5th grade attire. We would always look at each other and repeat our manta “not old enough yet”. Ever since I can remember I’ve always been drawn to menswear fashion. Theres something so elegant and easy about just throwing on a white button down. As an adult, I have completely embraced menswear with open arms. Much to the chagrin of my boyfriend who consistently says “I dress like a boy”, I am so happy menswear is so fashion forward at the moment. This blazer happens to be my new best friend.

A blazer is such an easy look to pull off but may feel daring for some. I love this one from Zara because the shell is made from a linen material so it feels less office-appropriate and is super lightweight. The cut is oversized and swings on the bottom, giving it a slightly girly element. I chose to style it with a simple T shirt and jeans. Such an easy weekend look! This blazer is so versatile, it looks just as good with joggers and sneakers as it does with nicer tops and boots or heels.

If your nervous about embracing menswear here are a few tips…

Start out slow

Pick one piece to build off of, whether thats a button down or shoes and go from there. Once you start embracing small pieces incorporating larger trends will be no problem.

It’s all about fit

When something fits well, you feel more confident in it. Make sure the pieces you get fit well and feel comfortable which will make it all the more easy to rock it.

Forget about what others say

I actually had several people tell me they DIDN’T originally like this blazer on me. When I tried it on at Zara though, I knew this was a winner. I felt amazing in it and instantly pictured several things in my closet I could wear it with. Menswear can be such a niche fashion trend that it may not sit well with some. Rely on your blogger or celebrity inspiration, and trust your instincts!

Washington D.C. Spring

Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t been around much lately to post. To be quite honest the weather has NOT been ideal for shooting. Every other day was freezing, raining or just downright miserable and the motivation to get out there has been a little lacking. Does anyone else ever get a little artists slump? Anyway, a recent trip to Washington D.C. to see the cherry blossoms and hang out with my family gave me the inspiration I needed to start up again!

We went the first weekend of April and it was COLD. The cherry blossoms were definitely still just as beautiful though! The area of the mall and Tidal Basin where the blossoms bloom are so pretty, Washington D.C. has always been a must on my travel list. The best part is all of the college friends I know that live there! Catching up with them for brunch was the perfect way to end the weekend.

So that’s a little update on me so far. Stay tuned for more content featuring sunshine as a special guest. xoxo Emily.

Park Slope Brownstones

Though I admittedly don’t travel down to Brooklyn nearly as much as I should, this borough continues to enchant me. It’s part of the reason why I love New York City. You can take a quick train ride down to an entire different city. It’s not just one neighborhood, or a few streets of different. Its an entire borough. Park Slope is one of those places that I continually find myself in, especially in the upcoming recent Spring weather.

Last year I spent a ton of my Spring free time in Brooklyn. Between Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (with all of the cherry blossoms) it seemed it was the only place I wanted to shoot. I am anxiously awaiting some warmer weather. Spring is my favorite season and spending it in Brooklyn seems like a pretty good use of time again!

It’s no secret that the brownstones are one of the most treasured parts about Brooklyn. From Park Slope to Cobble Hill to Fort Greene, they cover each block. These in particular caught my eye when I found myself in Brooklyn on one of the warmer February days we had. Don’t you love the pink brownstone?

Do you have any suggestions for things to do in Brooklyn? Let me know!

Ways to Practice Self Care

Though we finally made it into March, the grasps of Winter can still really drag you down. Lately I’ve been experiencing what seems like one issue after the other. Many of my friends can relate, and have shared their own stories of crisis and lack of self-awareness. Being a 20-something in an increasingly demanding society comes with a lot of expectations. Self care can’t be put on the back burner; and so here is my advice on the best way to take care of yourself when in times of crisis.

Currently, there are a few things that are driving me nuts. I seem to have low self-esteem surrounding my social life, my relationship, my overall life plan. Am I doing enough? Am I missing out on living the fullest life? I know that I desperately want to be traveling, but have a hard time finding people to go with. I know my negativity is holding me back but I also don’t know how to shake it at times. My anxiety is at an all time high. Sound familiar?

I recently had a detailed discussion with a friend about staying present and in the moment. Unfortunately in this world we live in we get caught up in social media and in expectations. What’s worse is that we willingly engage in social media and spread this joy (I’m kidding) back to each other. This only ever drives my anxiety up. The way to break the cycle is through self care and making sure to be present. 

Below is my mass list of simple ways to practice self care every day. I am constantly updating this list. Because this isn’t something that should be skimped out on! Take a few for yourself and try them tomorrow. Each day is a new one.

Essential Ways To Practice Self Care

Go to a movie by yourself (one of my personal favorites)

Take a bath

Go for a long run (in the winter this can be the best way to get sunshine)

Treat yourself to your favorite restaurant

Find a new coffee shop to try

Take a class (not exercise related)

Put on a full face of makeup (even if you aren’t going anywhere)

Make a new playlist

Stay hydrated (not with wine)

Up your vitamin C intake

Face mask it up, and don’t forget eye cream!

Crack open a nice bottle of wine (duh)

FaceTime with an old friend to catch up

Plan something new

Try out a new museum

Maintain a set bedtime and morning schedule

Delete social media for a day

Read a recent magazine publication front to back

Cook a new recipe

Plan a future trip (even if you don’t have the details worked out)

Take a long coffee break (croissant or muffin included)

Try drawing or painting

Get out of the city (I’m looking at you New Yorkers)

Rent a car and take a long drive to nowhere

Explore a new part of your own city

Get your nails done (plus the 10 min leg massage)

Winter to Spring Fashion Transition

I’m sure you guys understand: I’m currently DYING for some sunshine and an excuse to hibernate my heavy coats for the winter. This last part of Winter can really drag out. Although February was a short month for us it seems endless now that a cold and dreary March lays ahead of us. Spring has always been my favorite season. A chance to start new, a chance to get excited about Summer plans. Trying to freshen up your wardrobe however while knee-deep in the middle of Winter is a harder story. Here is how I emulate a Spring fashion look while snow still falls (yes it did the day of this shoot).

Let’s talk about this shoot for a moment: Gagosian gallery in Chelsea hosted an art exhibit by Tom Wesselmann and my bestie knew we had to go. Armed with my camera and hiding from the snow that day we had a great indoor shoot.

This coat has always been one of my favorites. I got it several years ago at H&M but it continues to be a closet staple and my favorite Winter transition piece. When looking to transition to Spring, put an emphasis on color. You may be wrapped up in a ton of layers, but adding light denim, white and camels to your outfit tells a completely different story.

In addition to coloring, changing up silhouettes can be a fresh welcome to the usual parka-plus-scarf-plus-hat combo we couldn’t live without in January. A wrap coat keeps you warm (you can wrap it up ultra tight) or lets you rock an open front look perfect for those not so cold days.

How are you emulating Spring this Winter?

The Best of Gowanus, Brooklyn

Though I make the trip down to Brooklyn once in a blue moon, there is something about the neighborhood of Gowanus that really captures my attention. It’s basically a haven of warehouses turned gentrified and could most likely be the epitome of why Old New Yorkers are disgruntled about this new city. BUT to be very fair the gems you can find in this neighborhood are unbeatable. From trendy BBQ joints, to shuffleboard clubs, to palaces of ice cream… this is the best of Gowanus.

What To Do

The Bell House: A bar with a stage and plenty to do, The Bell House is more of an event space. My friends and I attended a drinking game here where they acted out a movie and the audience (and cast) had to drink every time specific words were said. Clueless was such a fun movie to see here, highly recommend attending whenever you get the chance. Drinks are also cheap!

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club: This place is such a gem and I’m surprised it took me almost 2 years to finally make it down here. A large venue with a fun decorated kitschy summer theme, Royal Palms is such a great spot for a game night or day drinking.

Mural Art Walk: Along the Gownanus canal on Bond Street you can find an endless array of graffiti, street art and murals. That is where I shot all of these featured photos! It was such a great day exploring amongst the warehouses. Grab your bestie and head down here for a photoshoot among the art.

What To Eat

Pig Beach: This BBQ joint boasts some serious good eats. I love how they have a huge outdoor garden, it would be amazing to attend in the middle of the Summer. Try the

Ample Hills Creamery: Ever since Ample Hills opened this two story palace of ice cream it has secured it’s spot as one of my favorite ice cream places in the city. Come especially during warmer weather so you can sit on the rooftop deck with lounge chairs complete with green turf! My favorite flavors include Salted Crack Caramel and The Munchies.

Where To Shop

Gowanus Souvenir Shop: This little store right next to the canal features tons of stuff by local artists; hats, T-shirts, you name it they have it.

No Relation Vintage: What would a warehouse neighborhood be without a good vintage thrift store? No Relation has a huge selection and definitely makes the trip worth while.

Traveling Punta Cana

What would the Winter season be without an escape to a tropical paradise? Although I love living in New York City, this time of year can really drag me down. My boyfriend convinced me to book a tropical vacation months ago and I’m so glad we did. Punta Cana you really did not disappoint!

I had never been to the Dominican Republic before but many of my friends that I work with originally have family from the island. I had gotten an amazing recommendation for the all-inclusive resort Excellence Punta Cana and could not have been happier. Thank you to all of the staff that made our time there so great! The rooms felt brand new, the beach and pool were clean, the food was great and quite literally endless. On top of all of that the prices were extremely reasonable (almost shockingly so). I can’t wait to plan my next trip back!

As far as excursions go, we couldn’t wait to head out for some sailing and snorkeling. The company Happy Fish took us out on a catamaran boat sailing for around 2 hours. We then jumped in and got to do some great snorkeling and swimming. I could not recommend this excursion enough either. Overall the whole experience was about 4 hours.

There’s no doubt that getting to some warmer weather in the middle of Winter really helps lift my spirits. As we try to push on through the next few months of winter, I can attempt to hold onto my tan and dream about sunshine and paradise.

Upper East Side Photography

We have been so lucky to have such warm weekends on our hands. Though I’m headed out for a tropical vacation soon (so I won’t be around to post!) I was able to spend some time exploring and shooting in the Upper East Side.

This city has always been my favorite due to it’s accessibility. You hop on the train for a cheap rate and it can take you to a whole new neighborhood you have yet to visit. The Upper East Side has always been the neighborhood that I work in so I have hit or miss feelings about it. I think New Yorkers agree: you don’t spend free time in the neighborhood you work in. Just brings back too many memories. There are also so many other amazing places in this city to spend your free time. Of course there are exceptions to this rule as always. (My friends that live there of course!)

These are a set of some pictures I shot while wandering the Upper East Side!

Ways to Improve Your Photography in 2018

With the passing of a new year comes new goals and new aspirations. Though I haven’t upgraded the tech aspect of my camera, photography improvement is not just about the camera. Here is my list of ways I want to improve my shooting in 2018.

Find a New Subject

Though your style may focus on one medium in particular breaking out from that mold is the best way to build new skills. If you are constantly shooting outdoors, take the train into the city for the day and have at it. Breaking out of your comfort zone is a sure-fire way to photography improvement.

Start a Portfolio

A portfolio can be a motivating project in that it gives you an end goal. Starting to curate your best work or focus a portfolio on a certain medium can not only boost your confidence but also spark new ideas and creativity.

Experiment with Night Shooting

Night shooting is one of those topics that some people will tell you to never attempt. Some of the best photography I have seen has been shot around dusk. Take your camera for a spin at sundown and see what happens! Again, breaking out of your comfort zone is the best way to improve.

Ask for Help

One of my favorite things to do is to take my bestie (who isn’t a photographer) with me on my days of shooting. She not only helps spark my inspiration but she provides honest advice about what she likes and what she doesn’t. I took her as my travel partner to Mykonos, Greece and was especially excited about the pictures I snapped there.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Keep working, take your camera everywhere, and shoot, shoot, shoot. Most of the stuff you may take could be junk, but in there when you find the few gems it is going to be such a reward.