First Snow in New York City

I know, I know, you guys have missed me. The good news is I’m almost free of my studying and free of Christmas shopping responsibilities! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for a few more months of cold. Winter in New York City can be brutal, but is saved by one thing … SNOW.

The recent snow (which I’m surprised happened so early) reminded me of some gorgeous pictures I shot last year of a snowy East Village I wanted to share for you all. The best part about New York City in the snow is how the whole atmosphere seems to slow down. No racing traffic, no angry pedestrians, parks full of people. Last year my friends and I braved the cold of Central Park amid a huge snow storm for some amazing pictures. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

 

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Exploring San Francisco

Being able to escape New York once in awhile is definitely a treat, and a city like San Francisco is the perfect place to do so. Besides that fact that walking can be difficult (I see you hills), this city has everything. Here are some of my favorite places I explored while on a short weekend there.

Mission Thrift

Seated right in the heart of the Mission District this thrift store has a ton of character and definitely was worth seeing. The Mission is also home to the Everlane Lab and a Reformation storefront.

Tartine

This bakery has probably the best croissant I’ve ever eaten. This legendary spot is well known for having decadent cakes and eclair’s also so make a trip here! Tartine Manufactory is the bakery’s restaurant and is relatively nearby the bakery but I didn’t make it there.

Mission Dolores Park

Peaceful, sunny and full of people even on a weekday. This park was the perfect way to end a day of non-stop walking.

Mr. Holmes Bakery

Well-known for their cruffin I had to make a spot here to pick up a few pastries for my family to try. I throughly enjoyed the cruffin. They also come out with a special flavor each day; you never know what you might get!

Jane on Fillmore

I heard so many things about this place before arriving. Jane has an awesome menu and an inviting atmosphere for a perfect lunch. It can get crowded but waiting for a table is so worth it!

Haight-Ashbury Streets

The birthplace of the hippie movement still has a ton of spunk. Lined with trendy thrift stores, record shops and cafes. I loved exploring here with my family. It’s also nearby some awesome parks.

Painted Ladies

What San Francisco trip would be complete without a trip to the iconic Full House setting? The painted ladies are truly awesome but be prepared for the walk up-hill to get to them!

Cliff House

Sure, it may be a huge tourist destination but Cliff House is a really a must-see in my opinion. The views are incredible and is definitely unlike anything we ever get in NYC. Make sure to take a jacket because the winds and fog can get chilly. Catch the sunset here and a few drinks.

Overall my short trip 3-day trip to San Francisco was definitely sweet. This city is large with a ton of things to see so make sure to come hungry and ready for exploring!

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Northern California and Wine Country

When glancing at the last time I posted on this blog, I feel ashamed! Over a month ago?! Time definitely gets away from me at moments.

It has been a busy fall for me. The heat has been distracting since it still felt like early September for most of October, so maybe I’ve almost forgotten what season we are in. Work is ramping up as I am studying for a new certification which will not only make me more knowledgable but hopefully springboard me into the next big opportunity.

Luckily I was able to get away and visit my brother who is currently a California resident for the semester somewhere near Sacramento! We got to explore San Francisco, Sonoma County (wine country) and some of Northern California.

I definitely would recommend the places we went to for wine tasting: Kendall-Jackson, Clos du Bois, and Francis Coppola winery. Kendall-Jackson had beautiful gardens and a gorgeous tasting room. Francis Coppola even had an outdoor pool and bar with an inside museum (he’s a really famous movie producer).

Northern California is beautiful and it’s so sad to know that so many people were hurt and lost their homes in the fires. As we drove we could see scorched hills and burned trees. Employees at the wineries spoke of stories of losing their homes, or their neighbors homes. There are many ways you can still help the victims, now that the fires are contained (but still burning). Visit this page to learn how you can help!

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Traveling Greece: Athens Photo Essay

Despite the mixed reviews we had from others, Athens was a nice surprise at the end of our Greek vacation. The Old City which is where the Acropolis sits directly in the middle of is full of beautiful white washed houses with terra-cotta plated roofs. Graffiti lines the streets in the most beautiful arrays of color. Cafes and tavernas dot the streets and keep it loud enough to not feel empty.

The National Gardens are a nice shady respite from the blaring heat of the sun of this city. The neighborhood of Monastiraki which lies close by has tons of restaurants, and a huge outdoor market.

Here is a sprinkle of some of my favorite photos from Athens. Hope you enjoy!

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Verb Products for the Perfect Air-Dry Hair

When it comes to hair, I have always had a love/hate relationship with mine. The extremely thick, wavy and frizzy texture that sits atop my head rarely decided to cooperate throughout most of my life. I was that girl that, even after a good hour of blowout, walks out the door to find immediate pouf and waves despite how stick straight I worked it (hello 90s).

I had seemed to try everything. Hairspray galore, drugstore creams that claimed to solve all my problems, keratin infused shampoos. Nothing seemed to help until I changed the way I approached the whole act of washing and taking care of my hair. And of course, from finding the perfect products.

This post is going to detail the in’s and out’s of my hair and how I manage it to let it air-dry most days of the week.

The Foundation

It’s important to note that my hair is color treated (highlighted) and because I live a very active lifestyle I wash more often than I should. I wash my hair about every other day and sometimes every day. The naturally frizzy and wavy texture means it is drier than most to begin with, not to mention the frequent washing and lightener which help to dry it out.

In The Shower

I use Verb Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner daily on my hair. The formulas are rich but weightless and won’t make my hair greasy. To make matters more complicated, I walk a tight balance between greasy top and dry ends. When I shampoo I mostly apply the formula to my roots only, and I apply the conditioner mostly to my ends only. No exceptions to this rule.

Once a week I use the Verb Hydrating Mask to help add even more hydration and lock in moisture for the week. I don’t skimp out on this and use it all over my head (roots included) and let it set for about 30 min before washing it out. The formula is amazingly weightless.

Out of The Shower

It’s important to use a microfiber towel, and though I have not upgraded yet I want to also invest in silk pillowcases for sleeping. On the days that I haven’t used the Hydrating Mask, I apply a combination of a dime size of Verb Styling Cream plus two pumps of Verb Ghost Oil mixed together from roots to ends of my hair.

Overall, I really think the key to letting your natural texture shine through is being able to accept who you are. Sure, your hair isn’t going to lay right every day but isn’t that the amazing part about it? Your natural waves, crazy as they may be, tell a story about who you are as a person. And that is the best part of all.

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I Tried The Ordinary’s Serums

I want to preface this by saying: I used to know very little about serums, acids, toners, and the like. All of the skincare regimens these days (thanks Korea) involve so many steps and products it can make my head spin. The one morning I woke up after a particularly exhausting week and just felt like my skin knew it too. I felt dry and dull, and knew I could do something to step up my game to prevent this next time. And, in comes The Ordinary.

For those of you who are considered skincare moguls, you probably have already heard of this line. For me, it was my first time reading about the Canadian brand and it all seemed too good to be true. The Ordinary is a brand under the DECEIM umbrella of beauty companies.

What I love is that the products are meant to cut out the noise of high-end packaging, marketing, etc to just bring you the down and dirty: pure scientific ingredients that are proven to work. They want to bring quality concentrated products to the market without over-inflating price and are fully transparent about what you are getting for your money.

I knew enough about what I was looking for to pick out four different serums to try and share for all of you. I never in my life would have thought I ordered four serums at once, but wait until you see these prices. The most expensive serum I purchased was around $12, and most were around $5. I use them after cleansing and before moisturizing once, sometimes twice, a day. Let’s talk about what I picked and why.

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%    $12.90

Many popular skincare brands offer Vitamin C serums due to it’s well-known benefits. Vitamin C has been known to have anti-aging properties and helps to fight dullness and evens tone of the skin. The Ordinary offers several types of Vitamin C solutions, but this one in particular I picked because it is easy for beginners (make sure to read up on why before buying a product with high concentrations of Vitamin C).

The serum itself is watery and cooling to the touch. Be careful not to use too much in order to not appear greasy afterwards! A few drops goes a long way. Overall I really enjoy using this serum. It can be used AM or PM and after consistent use it does seem to brighten my skin tone (or maybe that’s the good night’s sleep).

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5    $6.80

Probably the most recognizable name of the products, Hyaluronic Acid is advertised everywhere these days even in many drugstore products (I see you, Olay). Able to hold up to 1,000 times it’s weight in water, this molecule is super hydrating and is considered one of the best. I have always fought with dry skin and so this serum was a no-brainer purchase for me.

This formula is more gel-like and isn’t too watery. Out of all of these serums, I like how this one feels on my skin the best. It’s fast absorbing and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy. After a week straight of using this product (AM or PM), I can definitely tell I am not running for my lotion nearly as often.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%    $5.90

I hadn’t heard of these active ingredients before researching, but probably because I don’t suffer from oily or acne prone skin on a regular basis. Particularly at certain times of the month or after long stressful weeks I will tend to break out. This serum is used to help control redness and reduce blemishes. It actually works by controlling sebum production in the skin and reduces the appearance of pores, while Zinc helps with redness.

This serum is probably the most impressive of the bunch. I like to use it at night (it makes your skin feel tight), but one application over my entire face before bed and I wake up the next day with visibly reduced blemishes. I honestly haven’t seen anything work this well for acne before!

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG    $6.70

“It’s like coffee for your eyes!” I swear I’ve seen some sort of slogan like this on Pinterest somewhere. Many home remedies for eye masks include adding coffee grounds in to reap the benefits of caffeine for eye puffiness and dark circles. The Ordinary supports this research as well with this eye serum!

I have mixed feelings about this serum. You have to be careful applying it because it is slightly watery and getting it into your eyes will burn. On the bright side, the instant feeling on your skin is that of energy and awake-ness so I love applying it before work. Hard to say yet whether or not it really is reducing my dark circles (they are big) but I will keep using this in the hopes of a change!

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Traveling Greece: Naxos

After we headed out to Mykonos, our second stop on our Greek journey was to the island of Naxos. This gorgeous island is the largest in the Cyclades island group and is only a short hour ride by ferry from Mykonos. It ended up being the perfect balance between the lively and super touristy island we had just left.

You step off the ship to see the Temple of Apollo sitting there on the hillside, its arch watching over the entire town. It sticks out from the mainland into the water on this little peninsula surrounded by beautiful blue ocean. It’s no wonder the ancient Greek’s picked the spot! It made for amazing pictures, and crowds lined up to see the sunset from the top at night.

Naxos Town

The town of Naxos is so fun! Though much smaller than Mykonos and quaint, it really had a lot to offer. The road that runs along the water is lined with shops and restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars. Families wander through the downtown every night of the week. Soccer (football) plays on outdoor screens at cafes, with lounge chairs and couches and strong espresso. Octopus hang on strings outside the restaurants just waiting to be picked by you to eat. It really is amazing.

Head up the side roads, and you’ll soon find steep narrow winding alleyways and quaint shops leading up to the castle of the town. It has been renovated into a walking museum of sorts and has some beautiful architecture hidden away inside.

It’s safe to say we were enchanted right away by this island. The hotel we picked ended up being perfect here also. Aeolis Boutique Hotel was situated just outside of downtown which made us feel like we really lived amongst the Greeks for our two short nights here.

Beaches

Naxos luckily has a fully functioning bus system, and for 3 euro we were able to jump on for a short drive over to Plaka beach which was highly recommended. These beaches are much less touristy than Mykonos. We went around 6pm to a mostly empty beach and stayed to enjoy our own private sunset on the water. Couldn’t have been more beautiful!

Overall

Naxos was the perfect compliment to Mykonos and I would highly recommend. You could even spend more days here than we did and do some of the bus tours or boating excursions the island has to offer. The quaint but lively town offered us the perfect view into true Greek island life.

 

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Traveling Greece: Mykonos

Where do I even begin with you, Greece? When my best friend texted me out of the blue and said “let’s get away”, picking our destination was an easy choice. Greece is known for being beautiful, and I fell in love with each place we went for different reasons. I can’t believe I am finally starting to share all of these pictures with you! Let’s talk Mykonos first.

Our trip included hopping from island to island followed by Athens, but we spent the most time out of any place in Mykonos. The amazing beaches and party scene here has given this island quite a name for itself. Though we knew we didn’t want to dive too deep into the crazy-ness, we just had to see for ourselves what makes this island so special.

Our Hotel

We got extremely lucky with our hotel pick. There were tons out there but I would highly recommend Hotel Alkyon to anyone traveling to Mykonos. These fantastic views overlooked the town because of the hill/cliff/mountain it sits on and was a short walking distance to everything there! The pool at our hotel may have been our favorite place on the whole island, especially for sunset views.

Mykonos Town

The town is lively and bustling with tourists and Greek families (yes, people actually do live here!). Cats roam the narrow white and gray stone streets. Flowers creep down on vines from overhead planters in windows. The winding alleyways lead you to something beautiful with each new turn. Tons of stores from high-end luxury designers to small mom-and-pop tourist spots, along with tons of restaurants/bars/cafes. I highly recommend walking down to the water here to see the windmills and the yachts at the old port (especially at sunset).

The Beaches

I will preface this by saying: rent a car! The beaches are too far to walk (they all have long steep roads down the mountain-sides) and are even far apart from each other. Each beach also has a different vibe so make sure to interview others about their favorites before choosing where to go. All of the beaches you pay somewhere between 15-30 euro for a lounge chair with umbrella and they wait on you table-service style.

Elia beach was by far my favorite; it’s crystal clear water was overlooked by beautiful mountain cliffs with houses and a view hotels. It was also all sand and no rocks which is a huge plus! It is more low-key and farther on the island making it slightly less touristy than others.

Paranga beach is a little more lively than Elia but also had a lot of families and children when we went. Music beats in the background and drinks are passed around all day! We had fun here. Scorpios overlooks this beach which is one of the many sprawling restaurants/bars/beach party spots in Mykonos.

Psarou beach was also gorgeous, with white sand and some really fun parties. We made a reservation at Nammos for lunch/dinner and it did not disappoint! This gorgeous high-end restaurant had amazing food and drinks, had bars butting right up to the sand, and really attracted the crowds. By the time we left people were up dancing on the tables and bars without a care in the world. I would definitely recommend this spot to anyone visiting Mykonos (but not families)!

Overall

Mykonos definitely blew me away. Though we craved some relaxation time away from the tourists at moments, being around so many others seeking out the island is truly wonderful. The scenery was also undeniably beautiful. The ultimate Greek island destination!

 

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A Day at Jones Beach

We are already at the end of July, and this past weekend was my first time heading to the beach. Talk about late to the game! It’s been such a busy season for me, it was nice to finally feel that sand under my feet.

My friend from Long Island picked me up at the train station and drove us to Robert Moses State Park. This spot is a little farther out on the Jones Beach strip but was well worth the drive: the beach is long and less crowded than other fields and generally really clean. Through some small cloud cover I was able to work on my base tan for this upcoming trip to the Greek islands and shoot some pretty great pictures at the same time.

Beach Beauty Tip: I always bring a conditioning spray and a wide-tooth comb in my bag when I hit the sand. Everyone knows that “beach waves” at the actual beach is a myth; its more like a “beach mess of knots-and-tangles”. The minute you get out of the water, spray Verb’s Leave-In Mist liberally all over your hair and comb it through. It’s an easy and much more comfortable look than the salty/sandy sticky knotty mess that we all know.

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Life in a New Neighborhood: Madison Square Park

I know, I know. I’ve been bad. You haven’t since me on the blog since the END OF JUNE. How could I do this to you guys? The good news is that now that my apartment move is finished, my birthday passed by, the craziness of the July 4th holiday is behind us, I will be back in the full swing of blogging in no time.

I have some really exciting content on the way. My all-time favorite hair care brand Verb sent me a goodie box last week with some free samples I can’t wait to show you guys. I have been filling my apartment with a ton of new goodies, and I can’t wait to get some shots of that (once it’s finished of course). Last but not least, I am traveling to Greece at the beginning of August and can’t wait to show you everything from my trip.

Can you even believe it? Talk about a busy summer.

For now, here are some snapshots of beautiful Madison Square Park which is just a short 10-min walk away from my new apartment. It’s always been one of my favorite outdoor spaces in NYC. The location is central, the Flatiron building is so cool, and the neighborhood has a ton to see and do.

P.S. Thoughts of Gramercy is where you can find all of the shots from another nearby beautiful outdoor space, Gramercy Park.

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