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!

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.

How I Found My Inner Voice

When I first started blogging almost officially a year ago, I was nervous about the possibility of people actually looking at my work. I had read and seen so many great blogs I couldn’t imagine trying to jump in. But like all things in life, the way it turned out was nothing like I imagined! This is the story of my inner voice.

Over this first year I really started to learn a lot about myself, and about the work I bring to the table. Photography can be daunting when you are first starting out. You don’t have the best camera on the market or the most expensive lenses. But as an art form, all photographers have something else that doesn’t involve equipment. Style helps put your ideas and inspiration to your own test. Style makes your work unique and your own.

I knew I wanted to do something different with my blog once I came back from my trip to New Orleans. I wouldn’t stand a chance between these lifestyle and fashion bloggers with their own professional photographers and whole team of support behind them. But I did know I could bring something special to the table.

That is when I decided that I wanted to be photoshop free and really develop my own style as down-to-earth and raw. This blog isn’t the story of competition, it’s the real story of the places I go and the things that I see. I am to capture life’s little beautiful moments. Having a style driving me and goals to aspire to are really helping set the tone for 2018. I want to make even greater strides this year

Here are just a few tips to help you develop your own personal style this 2018.

 

What do you want your readers to know?

All bloggers have an end game. The message that you want to get across is also the message you want your work to speak. Some people want to help manage money, document fashion, showcase a certain portfolio of work. Once you have determined you’re final end goal your set up for success.

Incorporate your personal taste.

People like to read work that is passionate, honest, and true-to-self. If you want to make your site full of bright pink lettering and images, go for it! If you think using a very minimal site to house your photos is the way to go, all for it. Find what works for you!

Determine your dislikes.

Self-examination can be the true key to just starting. You know what you want to do with your space, but what you don’t want to do can be just as revealing. This helps keep truthfulness to your work and helps take the stress out of competition.

Make mistakes.

This may be the most important lesson of all. No one is going to get it right the first time. Finding personal style is an ongoing journey that can take time. If something doesn’t work for you, change and change again. Sometimes the hardest failures are the best way to learn.

What I Learned in my First Year of Blogging

2017 was a big year for me. I started into a new career that I love, I finally purchased my first camera, and I started this blog! I took my camera to New Orleans, San Francisco, Naples and Greece. I dragged it through subways, parks, over bridges and onto the beach. Overall I can definitely say this year taught me a lot. Here are some of the best things I learned from my first year of blogging.

It’s Hard Work

Blogging can be really hard work. You have to take the time to gather content, sit down to write, work through all of the pictures you take. It definitely hasn’t been easy but has been so rewarding.

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Though my blog always has been and always will be mostly for myself, getting readers to actually look through your stuff is much harder than it seems. I think this is also an area that even the most experienced bloggers struggle with. Hopefully 2018 will hold even more venues to get my blog out to viewers!

Website Building is so Rewarding

Building the actual website for me has been the most fun. Though I don’t know ANYTHING about coding or tech (thanks WordPress!) finally seeing the finished product as something tangible and on the internet is so cool.

You’ll Discover a New You

A couple months into my blogging I realized that the initial vision I had for the space changed. I started taking out any edits or photoshopping from my pictures; I actively chose to keep them all raw. Finding that inner voice and style in my photography has been the best part of starting this blog.

Set Realistic Goals

One of the fastest way to reach new milestones with something as daunting as your own personal online website is by goal setting. At the same time, developing voice and audience takes time. Don’t beat yourself up over unrealistic expectations.

Only Publish Passionate Content

This is the most important piece of advice! It doesn’t matter what the topic is, if you are passionate about something then it will shine through in your work. People want to engage with content that has passion behind it.

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.

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!

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.