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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Grand Banks on a Summer Saturday

When a fierce rainstorm decided to roll through to cancel our Pinknic plans, my friends and I last minute had to throw something together instead for our Saturday. We had been eyeing up Grand Banks at Pier 25 in Tribeca for awhile and decided this was the perfect savior plan for the day.

The atmosphere at this small but beautiful boat is top-notch. Grand Banks boasts amazing cocktails and soft island music. You almost feel that any minute the boat could take off for a tropical island, or even Nantucket. The menu is small but features really good oysters and upscale American summer fare. We all opted to go for the lobster roll which definitely did not disappoint. To drink, I recommend ordering the Skipper Key (made with rose, cucumber and strawberry).

We all left with a great buzz and some sunburns, but were overall really impressed with this place. As opposed to the party atmosphere of The Frying Pan this is definitely more of a date spot or a place to impress parents when they visit the city. I can only imagine how great it is at night when the sun is setting and it gets cooler on the water.

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Summer Nights at Citi Field

They call baseball “America’s Past-time” but most of the games I go to involve ice cream and beer rather than sport watching. Baseball games in the summer are undeniably fun. I’m slowly in the works of putting together a comprehensive guide to my favorite places in New York. Citi Field is bound to make this list.

Citi Field (where the Mets play) is super easy to get to by the 7 train on the NYC subway line and tickets are much cheaper than at the more touristy Yankee Stadium. Last summer, I purchased tickets in the lower level section for $30 each. After the games MTA offers express 7 trains back to Manhattan so you can easily get to the stops at Grand Central and Times Square without much difficulty. Express trains are also available on weekdays to the stadium.

The stadium feels brand-new and clean. They have all the food you could possibly want like Nathan’s and Mister Softee. My friends and I when we went recently were impressed at the beer selection they offer. Citi Field had everything from basic Bud Light to Shocktop to Brooklyn Summer Ale. They just so happened to also stock one of my favorite craft beers Victory’s Summer Love from a local PA based brewery.

Next time you are planning a trip to NYC in the summer, consider riding out to Citi Field.

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Wide Leg Jeans for Summer

As I’ve grown older I more frequently stay away from shorts even on the hottest days of summer. Being a 5’8″ human can make shorts seem inappropriate in some cases, and they don’t necessarily fit me well. When choosing jeans in the summer it’s important to buy pieces you feel comfortable in but can stay relatively cool in as well.

I’ve had my eye on the wide leg jean trend for awhile. You can find them at nearly every denim retailer these days. While I wasn’t ready to splurge on this pair of Madewell jeans, the pair I found from Uniqlo satisfied my craving and also are one of the most comfortable pieces in my closet. They fit like a glove and look fantastic with dressier tops or with tucked-in casual T shirts.

I know what you’re thinking: sure it looks cute, but wasn’t she sweating all day? The key is breathability. Uniqlo denim is made from a super soft lightweight fabric and the wide leg gives a breezy feel without being too constricting. They are super stretchy as well so you don’t feel like you are suffocating when sitting down. They check off nearly every criteria on my list, and being wallet-friendly isn’t a problem either!

Top is Anthropologie [Similar Here]. Bottoms are Uniqlo [Here]. Shoes are Steve Madden [Similar Here].

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