Latest Posts

A Weekday Adventure to Brooklyn

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since entering the full-time-working-professional-life, it’s that you need to find fulfilling things to do outside of work – regardless of what day of the week it is.

Far too often, at the end of a work day I find myself rushing home to sit on my couch and mindlessly watch TV. Granted, there are definitely days where I need some time to rest, relax, and unwind after a day at the office – but at the same time, if you’re wishing your whole week away just to make it to the weekend, you’re wishing away a big chunk of your life. (I could probably present you with some impressive calculation around said chunk of time, but I think that might be super depressing for the both of us.)

Recently, I’ve been trying to be more cognizant of the fact that, yes, the next forty-some years of my life are going to be spent working – but more importantly, if I spend my whole adult life feeling like all I do is sit at a desk all day, I’ll probably become a pretty unhappy and unfulfilled individual.

It’s super important to have a balance when it comes to the work week – to plan out things that you can look forward to on a Tuesday or a Wednesday or a Thursday, so that you’re not left trudging through every day wishing it was Friday already. And with the arrival of warm weather (at LAST!), it definitely makes finding budget-friendly activities a whole lot easier.

So, when Matt texted me yesterday afternoon to see if I wanted to walk to Brooklyn after work – OH THE SPONTANEITY – I was all in. I’d never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge or been to that famous!!!! Dumbo photo spot.

Turns out, Brooklyn Bridge + slow tourists + fast bikers + 80 degree weather isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But it was definitely cool being on the bridge itself and seeing the beautiful view of the downtown skyline. We walked across the bridge to Brooklyn (which is 1.134 miles, by the way – there’s my cardio for the week!), and  then made our way to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Sitting on Pebble Beach with Matt, as the waves gently lapped against the shore and the sun sank behind the skyline, was the happiest, most peaceful moment of my week. I would trade every lazy night on the couch for more moments like that one. Those moments help me to step back and fully appreciate my life in its entirety – who I’ve become, how far I’ve come, and who I am lucky enough to be creating memories with.

Thanks to Matt for another great (unexpected!) adventure.

2ad91543-3114-4d40-aa42-64f4c8c918f1

9bc8c662-f3a4-4267-b378-75a02168b882

432f3467-c5f6-4a12-b981-bc87a3350e59

e3596a2c-464d-40b3-adbf-e523969ed331

fdd2fefb-a253-45b5-95e0-d962ed456462

60458343-0a69-4849-9cd2-906cae8a334d

3813e769-b3cb-4c58-846c-a4d31ac018b2

f00afed2-907e-4b2f-b36f-0e2e7efcd09f

ea5bb369-30c1-4c82-9842-46726e3d14aa

ac310191-302c-4207-81fe-aaeb29cf90ed

a3a2a5af-4d8f-49d3-8d53-ffcb27488166

239d4125-f981-4134-a171-aed94b45ca85

b30bdb82-29e8-4249-9ce8-44efa6067db2

8e6a832a-ee2f-44b2-aafa-9ef47edce49d

64bacc86-d897-4639-92bd-1c9f2706861c

8a85a075-2d68-4275-b759-bf81cd3d3e94

9b8b57cd-85ab-42b2-9b0a-e46e6104a1a6

6f947b77-abb9-4125-88e5-26297eb26bea

6b178d2e-dee6-4e5a-a631-3d2883537054

Back to the Bronx

With the move coming up, Matt and I have been trying to be more frugal in our spending – eating out less, going out to drink less, etc. In line with that effort, we also decided to hold off from going to a Yankee game so far this season. Although tickets aren’t always too pricey, it’s the rest of the experience that gets expensive – the beers, the hot dogs, the snacks… all that good stuff.

But now that spring weather is FINALLY here, we found ourselves itching to get to a game. Earlier this week, I decided to “just look” at the Stubhub ticket prices for the Yankees Red Sox series. Low and behold, grandstand tickets (aka nosebleed seats) were totally reasonable. So, we decided to go for it – not only was the weather supposed to be gorgeous, but it was YANKEES RED SOX, the greatest rivalry in baseball between the (current) two best teams.

The weather did not disappoint – it was a beautiful evening for game two of the series. The Yankees had won the night before, and we were praying that we’d see another win that night. We did our best to maintain the previously stated frugality and significantly (well… slightly) cut back on the food and beers we bought at the stadium. It’s always going to be expensive, but it’s all part of the fun. Plus, girl’s gotta eat.

In the end, we decided to leave in the eighth inning while the Red Sox were ahead. We had a long train ride back to Hoboken and I HATE crowds – the stadium was at capacity, so we knew the trains would be insanity on the way home. As we stood on the 4 train heading downtown, Matt checked his phone and immediately muttered, “I am so sorry.”

Worried, I thought the game was already over and the Yanks had lost. But when he showed me the ESPN notification, I understood his remorse. Aaron Judge had hit a home run. Now, if you know me at all you know I love Aaron Judge, and all I want is to see him homer in person. Even though it sucks that we missed it, in the end I would much rather have left before a Yankee victory (yes, they ended up winning) than stay late for a Yankee loss – ESPECIALLY against Boston.

All in all, it was the perfect night for baseball, and hopefully the next time we attend Aaron will be on his game and hit a homer our way!

9be35ba6-c523-4c45-874d-a4864fdfbf6e

0eb26c8e-096c-4410-9896-a532f7abfbf7

194f90fd-5a38-4e75-b5fc-25ca06bac18d

52469fd5-fa28-4484-8609-3ed671012aaf

1afb207a-5bd4-4e8a-958f-3f4e45ca0f16

094d76ba-bad2-47dd-a25a-56959130b8d1

37ee3156-956c-425c-9c08-46797aeef501

1f83ec3f-c0e9-45e4-a964-a04008ac5831

e20a8128-515d-4a5d-9d81-96a9bc848a13

c305e959-9d01-4982-9a0e-51917f2c96e3

292af62c-110e-44ae-80f9-15ef1728d69e

fd60ca31-440a-48c1-a078-9396adcb1993

1e4b3a53-79cd-4270-9ad7-0bcfde74ee3f

61a1a265-98f7-4e4f-ad66-7b24fa931c43

0b9f282f-ff7a-401a-9e62-18cd02e2043e

6e3fabc7-5bf5-4ddf-bf3f-b7433d9c0cf7

Mud Cloth Mania

With our move less than a month away (25 days, but who’s counting?!), I thought I’d do a post on one of my current favorite trends – mud cloth pillows.

I’ve always liked the look of mud cloth textiles, but I knew nothing about its origin. In my research, I learned that mud cloth (or bogolanfini) is a well-known African cloth tradition. Mud cloth is made using a handmade Malian cotton fabric, and dyed using a process of fermented mud (hence its name). DesignSponge.com explains that each piece’s pattern has a story to tell, and “even the arrangement of the symbols on the cloth reveals something secret about the intended meaning.”

That being said, I am 99% sure that any mud cloth patterns you find today sold online by Etsy or Amazon do not have any sort of traditional, symbolic meaning to them. Still, it’s interesting to understand the history behind something that today seems so mainstream, yet at one point was such a prevalent symbol of cultural identity.

In any case, today mud cloth inspired textiles are frequently used in modern interior design as a “trendy” accent. The typical pattern features geometric lines and dots sewn onto heavy fabric, often either black on white or white on black. It’s a good alternative for pattern-shy individuals (like myself) to add a bit of character to a neutral space. Plus, it’s pretty gender neutral (which is definitely a plus when you’re moving in with your SO).

Note: All photos were found on Pinterest.com. Please contact me if a photo is your own and you would like to have it removed, or linked to its original source.

You can find evidence of mud cloth inspired decor everywhere, especially Pinterest, where there are tons of mud cloth DIY guides. But, if you’re like me and would rather not put the fate of your precious mud cloth pattern in your own hands, it might just be worth it to buy one pre-made. If I were to actually try it myself, I would follow the DIY Muthcloth Pillows tutorial on the The Beautydojo. And hey – maybe I will try someday. But, for now, I’ll stick with my pre-made pillow covers, because I can truly see that DIY going horribly wrong (helloooo crooked lines and a very unhappy, slightly OCD Jill).

One thing that I struggled with when looking for my own mud cloth pillows was the price. My first instinct when finding this type of item was to look at Etsy – and yes, Etsy has tons (and I mean, TONS) of great mud cloth pillow covers, but I couldn’t justify dropping $50.00+ on one cover, especially since I wanted at least four.

I did some shopping around and finally found the answer to all of my prayers (okay, so in truth it wasn’t that serious, but I did really want these damn pillows). I stumbled upon Hofdeco on Amazon – they offer a wide array of mud cloth inspired pillow covers in a few different sizes. Since I already had pillows I could use as inserts that were around the same size as the Hofdeco 18″ x 18″ covers, I saved some money on pillow inserts, too. I ended up getting two sets of two Hofdeco Decorative African Mud Cloth Pillow Covers  (18″ x 18″) in both black and white, along with a two set of their white lumbar pillow cover for my bed (sadly I had to buy the inserts for those, but found cheap ones on Amazon that worked perfectly).

In truth, yes, I was ordering these for our new apartment. But as soon as they arrived, I was too excited to keep them packaged up for the next few weeks. So, my current apartment has been graced with their presence – however, I know they’ll look even better in the new place, and I can’t wait to bring them to their new home.

d7b0294e-0bbf-4efa-9553-17dda302e8a1

f2254a56-ed52-44e1-a1c6-4726bdc4b5fc

5a2cd872-b039-45a4-b73c-cd630b1e9733

1cd3c518-3432-40fb-821a-dd3b3af762b3

9bda487e-084f-4425-ba19-c6ba45047ff1

ccd472f8-4f7a-4d76-af73-6f108fb5441a

fe136667-5caa-49fb-8b93-22686095451c

3dd2a9a9-0e89-4785-b0c0-8e471705c1c9

New Apartment Inspiration

It’s officially the month of our move! Granted, we’re not moving until the absolute last day of May, but still – only 30 days left! It feels like we’ve been counting down for so long  (since February – LONG time to be looking forward to a new apartment) and we’re so excited to actually start to get things going. We have our movers booked, no parking signs purchased, and wifi scheduled for installation. With only a few more things left on our checklist, it’s time to focus on the more fun stuff – furniture and decor!

If you know me at all, you know this is essentially my Christmas. Well, since Christmas is my birthday I guess that isn’t technically the case, but you get the gist. Long story short, I love interior design and the chance to decorate a new apartment from (almost) scratch is a dream come true. Of course we will be bringing over a good deal of furniture and other odds and ends from my current apartment. But let’s face it – we need a more gender neutral feel. Not to say my current apartment is insanely girly, but at the same time this will be Matt’s apartment too, and it’s important for him to have a say in how it looks and feel like it’s his own.

So without further adieu, I’d like to share some of the inspiration I have found for our new apartment. Disclaimer: Matt has not fully signed off on every image here, but I will of course be consulting him before any final decisions are made. These images more so evoke the general look and feel we are going for in our new place – clean lines with a mix of rustic and industrial touches.

Bathroom

Vanity & Shower

Unfortunately, the vanity in our new apartment is not very large – there is counter space, but certainly less than I’m used to having. Due to lack of space, I’m planning to keep the vanity super simple: a soap pump (specifically my refillable Amber Glass Jar Soap Dispenser from Amazon), candle, and maybe small succulent. As for our shower, we’ve already purchased the Kate Spade New York Harbour Stripe Shower Curtain in platinum, 100% inspired by the above photo on the right. It’s super simple and goes well with the silver/grey tones in the bathroom. I also love the look of simple off-white hand towels with thin, navy horizontal stripes. I’ve had my eye on the Walcott Hand Towel from McGee & Co. (pictured in the second photo), but cannot yet justify spending $35 on something that I’ll use to dry my hands. We’ll see – birthday gift, perhaps?

Bathroom

Extra Storage

As I mentioned, the vanity is pretty small. So consequently, there isn’t much storage in the cabinets under the vanity either. However, the bathroom itself is definitely a decent size. I’m hoping to utilize some of the extra space by getting a ladder shelf for over the toilet or some sort of other storage organizer. In my current apartment I have shelves over the toilet, but would love to avoid unnecessary screw holes in the new place (I’ve learned my lesson).

Bedroom

Bed

In truth, I doubt there will be many changes to the bed itself. I currently have a full bed with a metal frame – not the most luxurious for sure, but it gets the job done (aka, being super cozy). In any case, I’m sure one day we will want to become real adults and purchase a queen size mattress, but that day is not today. For the time being, we’ll be keeping the bed I have and learning to love it (honestly, I already do – like I said, it’s super cozy). A few months ago we purchased the South Shore Holland Full/Queen Panel Headboard from Wayfair to create a more complete look – neither of us had ever had a headboard before. And ah, the trials and tribulations of self-assembly. It was definitely a process, but we love the end result and can’t wait to see it in the new place. We’re definitely going for a gender-neutral color scheme in the bedroom, with lots of neutrals and greys.

Bedroom

Pillows

Now, let me start off by saying Matt is not a fan of having tons of meaningless display pillows covering the bed. I totally get that – the realist in me fully agrees, but the girl in me would love to have all of the pillows in the land. So, we compromise. Currently we have two Hofdeco Mud Cloth Lumbar Pillows on the bed, and I think they’re here to stay. We might switch things up in the new place, but I like their tribal look in contrast with the rest of the style we’re planning for the bedroom.

Bedroom

Dresser

Ideally, we would like to get a new dresser for the bedroom – one that better matches the “weathered oak” color of the headboard. However, since money doesn’t grow on trees and I currently have a perfectly good, white, 6-drawer dresser, it seems wise to stick with that for now. I currently have a more bohemian theme goin’ on when it comes to the decor on my dresser – I’ll likely ditch a lot of that stuff and go for a more minimalistic approach (hence the on-going mission to achieve gender neutrality in this room). For now, we’re thinking of hanging a circular mirror above the dresser and having just a few things displayed (lamp, picture frame, plant), but eventually hope to move our TV into this room when we get a new one to mount on the wall in the living room.

Entryway

Now when I say “entryway,” I mean the little space you walk through when you walk into the door and immediately into the kitchen area. Basically, it’s not really an entryway. But, I do think there is enough room to do something simple, cute, and practical there. I love the slatted benches and circle mirrors paired together with a throw pillow. Alternatively, we could get a taller console table and use it as a place to put our keys, wallets, etc. This is definitely something I’ll wait to plan out until we move in since I’m not sure of measurements or exactly how much space we’ll have for something like this.

Living Room

Probably the most exciting and fun project for this apartment will be the living room. I’ve sold my current brown love seat and chair, and we’ve put the Trayce Chenille Queen Sleeper Sofa from Raymour & Flanigan on hold for our move-in date. We’re super excited about this couch and love that it is a pull-out queen bed in case we ever have people stay over. We have Hofdeco decorative throw pillows in both black and white to accent the couch, and plan to keep my 5′ x 8′ nuLOOM moroccan shag wool rug from Overstock.com. We still need to figure out another chair, side tables, and lamps, but again those are all things that will be easier to pick out and order once we’ve moved in.

Kitchen

In truth, there isn’t a ton we can do in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful – so I want to keep it that way with as little clutter as possible. It has more grey/silver tones than the photos above, but they are the general feel I want to go for in the kitchen – clean, simple, practical. Although I love the barstools pictured, I personally would be fine getting cheaper, more industrial stools – especially since we’ll probably need to buy three of them to fill the bar space.

Dining

We have a very loose definition of dining – basically, it’s a small space that is just big enough for a table and a few chairs. I love the look of the modern white chairs against the thick wooden slab table, but while the chairs are definitely affordable from a store like Target, I’m not so sure we could get the table I want for quite as good a deal. Similarly to some of the other areas, I’m not fully sure how much room we will have for “dining” so we’ll be holding off on really planning this area until we’ve moved in.

Other Decor

Letter Board

Not to be completely random with this, but Matt and I love these letter boards. They’re getting pretty mainstream and will probably be overdone by the time we move in to the new place in 30 days, but they seem really fun and we’ve both been saying how we want to get one for the apartment. One of my current guilty pleasures is looking up what phrases/jokes/etc. others put on their letter boards… many are super cheesy, but some are actually pretty funny. I’ve seen my favorites on Letterfolk but will likely spring for a cheaper vendor when the time comes to buy – I’ve found some decently priced ones on Etsy.

Note: All photos were found on Pinterest.com. Please contact me if a photo is your own and you would like to have it removed, or linked to its original source.

How We Met

If you’ve been following my blog and/or life to any degree in any capacity, you most likely know about my boyfriend, Matt. He is the sweetest, kindest, most caring person I know, and he’s also my best friend. But what you may not know is the story of how Matt and I met – and let me tell you, it is quite the tall tale!

Okay, so maybe that’s a (weird) exaggeration. But it definitely is interesting!

Personally, I love stories about how couples met because I think it’s so difficult to meet people in this day and age. After graduating college, I was pretty much a lost puppy. I would go out in the city with friends, but I felt like any guy I met in a bar was super creepy. Why is it that nice, normal people are never the ones to come up to you in bars? The answer is, because nice, normal people already have friends and friends-of-friends to hang out with and date!

I, like many before me, fell victim to the classic New-York-is-full-of-so-many-people-but-I-can’t-find-anyone-normal mindset. So naturally, being a millennial, I did the one thing that I figured could solve this issue – I downloaded dating apps.

I had briefly downloaded Tinder in college, but mostly just used it to swipe through the profiles of strange Rhode Island men with even stranger profile pictures (as pure drunken entertainment). I never got far enough into a conversation with someone to consider meeting them in person.

But as a recent college grad in a new (huge) city, I felt like it was time to give the apps another try. Having heard good things about Bumble, I gave it a download, set up my profile, and starting swiping. Generally, guys seemed much more normal on Bumble than Tinder (although not sure if that has to do with the app or the area I was in). I had some good conversations – and yes, even went on one or two dates – but nothing really came of it. Personally, I HATED dating. I’m initially really shy, and definitely an introvert, so putting myself out there and making small talk are basically my least favorite things to do.

So, time went on and the dating app life lost its appeal. I let my Bumble conversations dwindle and began only using the app to casually swipe when I needed a mental break at work. I’d swipe left, I’d swipe right, I’d get matches, but I stopped messaging people. The way Bumble works (in case you don’t know) is the girl has to message the guy first. The thought behind it is that will weed out the creepy guys you don’t want to talk to. Why you would match with them in the first place is beyond me, but in general it makes it easier to find actual normal dudes to talk to.

Anyway, I was about eight months out of school and still having trouble adjusting to post-grad life. I had a job but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. My best friends from school were up in Boston or down in DC. I felt pretty alone most of the time and was having trouble accepting that this was essentially how the next forty years of my life would go – waking up, going to work for ten hours, coming home, and going to sleep. Yes, eating and working out (sometimes… maybe) would potentially be included in that routine as well, but it was still the general idea that my life would consist of going to work all day for five out of seven days of my week that scared me.

Life has a funny way of working out, though.

So like I said, I would mindlessly swipe from time to time, but I typically would ignore my matches. But, being the “thirsty”  and relatively “basic bitch” I that was (ah who are we kidding… still am), I had my Instagram handle in my Bumble profile bio.

One day I was on Instagram and happened to check my notifications. This doesn’t happen a lot – at the time I think I had about 4,000 followers, so I keep my notifications off so my phone doesn’t unnecessarily blow up when I post something. But for some reason, that day I checked. I saw a guy had followed me and I happened to click on his profile.

Matt Marko. Hm, interesting name. I wasn’t sure what ethnicity “Marko” was, but I saw after only a few scrolls that he was pretty cute. He’ll get the follow back.

Like clockwork, a few hours later I saw I had a DM. Yes, he slid into the DMs.

M: Hey Jill, how’s it going?

J: Hey there, it’s goin alright how about yourself

M: Going well. Just having some lunch with co workers. Really wish today was a national holiday haha

J: Ugh agreed, a ton of my friends in Mass get to work from home today. So jealous, I’m struggling [Note: it was the day after Superbowl Sunday. I don’t think I was actually hungover, but thought it sounded pretty cool if I was.]

M: Haha well then we can be on the struggle bus together. You’re from Mass?

J: No I’m from Jersey but I went to school in Rhode Island so almost all my friends are up in Boston

M: Oh nice where’d you go? I’m from CT so I’m pretty close to Mass and Rhode Island

M (again): *don’t live there now but grew up there […so I know he didn’t live there currently. That he was LOCAL!]

[…and the conversation continues and is completely uninteresting and relatively cringey, but then…]

M: Any plans for the long weekend?

J: Yeah I’m actually going to DC! I’m pumped, I haven’t been since I was 11 or so hahah but I’ve heard it’s so fun. My roommate from school just got an apartment down there

M: Sweet. I have a good friend who works for the Capitals down there and he wants me to visit this month. Why don’t you text me… [phone number]

And BOOM. Phone number.

Just like that, the ball was in my court. And so, being me and being completely unaware of how to play hard to get, I’m pretty sure I texted him immediately being like, “Hey it’s Jill!” So young, so naive.

It turns out that we had matched on Bumble (thanks to my mindless swiping). I hadn’t messaged him (and the girl has to do so in 24 hours or the match runs out and disappears) so he had “extended me” (aka extended our match and the amount of time I had left to message him, which you can apparently only do once a day), and I still hadn’t messaged him. Oops. In my defense, I never even saw the match! So, that’s when he resorted to the Instagram follow. I thank my lucky stars every day that I (thirstily) put my Instagram handle on my Bumble profile.

We texted for a few weeks, having relatively consistent conversations. If I do recall, they were fairly in-depth, paragraph-long exchanges each time. However, Matt was always the one to end the conversation. We’d be texting consistently, I would send a paragraph in response to his, and then… crickets.

Nothing!

But then without fail, the next day (or a day later, although he swears it was typically the next day) he would text me again, starting a new conversation and disregarding his total lack of response to the last one! I was beyond confused. He now admits that not answering me was actually super hard for him and that he did want to write back right away, but he was “playing the game.” Aka, playing hard to get. And as much as I hate to admit it, I think it did work to a degree. Let’s face it, everyone wants what they can’t have. And I wanted him to respond to my last text, gosh dangit!

Anyway, enough of this nonsense. Long story short, we texted for a few weeks. Then, one Friday after work I was on my way home from the gym. I had just been gettin’ my workout on at Planet Fitness – you know, a typical crazy Friday night in New York City. I’m not sure if we had been texting, or if he just hit me up out of the blue, but basically Matt straight up asked if I wanted to hang out that night.

Mortified, I put my hand to my sweaty forehead and slicked back ponytail. It seemed completely out of the question – I was disgusting.

I told my roommate at the time my dilemma. She shrugged and told me I might as well go for it – I had nothing to lose and I should take him up on his offer if I liked talking to him so far. Going against all my introverted instincts, I hopped in the shower and made myself moderately presentable as quickly as possible. From there I made my way into the city to American Whiskey, a bar near Penn Station where we had agreed to meet.

I remember being nervous, but not as nervous as I would expect myself to be. To put it in perspective, I get nervous calling my dentist’s office to make appointments over the phone. But upon arriving at the bar, instead of texting him that I was there (as he expected me to do), I walked in and saw who I assumed was said “Matt Marko” sitting at the bar. In fairness, he was probably the only person under 40 there. I walked up to him and – well, I think I blacked out at that point because I don’t really remember our first interaction but I must have said something along the lines of “Hi, I’m Jill, sorry if I’m still sweaty.” Not really, but I wouldn’t put it past me.

We ended up having two or three beers and talking for a few hours. He told me how he had once gone to a college visit with his older sister and stolen several bagels and kept them in his sweatshirt pocket. I think that’s when I first knew I loved him. (Fully kidding, but in truth that is the story that stands out most from that night.)

It was a nice time and we parted ways at a reasonable hour. He was going to get the A at Penn and I was heading over to my friend’s apartment in Kip’s Bay to go out that night. But guess what – I LIED. I was absolutely not going out, I was going straight home and going to bed. But you know, I wanted to seem cool and/or young and/or vibrant.

In any case, that is the basic story of how Matt and I met! From there, we started going on dates for a few months – technically “dating,” I guess. But not “officially” “dating” – that happened in July later that year. (Sidebar: on our third date, Matt took me to the CIRCUS! It was the last time the elephants would be performing – EVER. He texted me on a Wednesday and asked if I wanted to go to the circus that night because it was something to do other than just get a drink. I appreciated that reasoning. Plus, I enjoy elephants.)

That’s pretty much it, and the rest is history. So, yes folks, it is possible to find love on Bumble – or, technically, on Instagram.

To quote the late, great, and undoubtedly wise Yo Gotti, it truly does “go down in the DM.”

My Favorite Places: Smorgasburg

Spring is (almost) here! And with the warm(ish) weather comes the opportunity to emerge from my winter-long hibernation on my couch and take advantage of all the fun outside activities the city has to offer.

One of my favorite places to frequent in said warm weather is Smorgasburg – an open-air food market that pops up in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays. So, with empty stomachs and high expectations, Matt and I made our way to Brooklyn to indulge in a day full of decadent dishes.

Not only is the food out of this world, but the views don’t suck either. It’s fun to see the skyline from the other side of the East River – I’m so used to the view from across the Hudson in Hoboken. East River State Park has both grass and beach areas, making it a great place for a photo opp (or several).

Brooklyn is always a fun place to visit in any case – although I usually don’t feel like I’m cool and/or trendy enough to be there for longer than a few hours (and given the large crowds and high volume of tourists that Smorgasburg attracts, I’m typically ready to go by then anyway).

That being said, the food is undoubtedly the highlight.

2c6b7fcc-b554-4685-afc0-62d7ed862b95

ec3476d3-0882-41b7-ab65-26f66491db1c

aa46d59e-3c7c-4117-912b-291bdc18ac52

59e3bee2-6361-404c-bf78-95c948187fd0

37dbcad1-419f-4b38-80d2-824e29fd1f2d

Matt and I started off with “breakfast,” aka a big ole brioche sticky bun at the King Street Kitchen stand. Damn straight, these are #BigBuns. When they say it’s literally the size of your head… they’re not wrong. Matt and I polished it off in approximately 36 seconds and relished in every bite.

560b5d72-c070-420f-90c6-1752f79134c8

a00383f1-1a46-4227-b4c8-1328b464441d

9e05a150-7625-4596-8ebc-be45300d4904

Next we moved onto “lunch” aka a Wowfull. Wowfulls are essentially a scoop of ice cream in a legitimate folded waffle (no, not a waffle cone… an actual waffle) with some sort of ridiculous topping. Since I’m weird and don’t like chocolate, this limited our options a bit. But Matt, ever the trooper, happily obliged in ordering boring old vanilla ice cream (it was rainbow colored, in fairness) with Cinnamon Toast Crunch as a topping. Let me tell you… THIS. WAS. AMAZING. The combination of the fresh hot waffle with the cold, soft ice cream was to die for. Definitely the best lunch I’ve ever had.

15d07095-d54d-49fb-a784-f1dcdcf13f53

edaaab80-97c2-4be8-9471-3114e4c2c1ec

For the final course, Matt and I parted ways in terms of our palettes. Matt went for a Ramen Burger – which was, according to him, delicious. The pairing of noodles and ground beef wasn’t quite up my alley, so I sat that one out.

ca69a143-59d8-4dd2-b723-d9cb610430cc

e5845d25-0589-4d33-a8e1-40ace0e66de1

f29ab75f-10b0-418e-8bf4-d779d6161363

Instead, I opted for something that I can get literally anywhere and everywhere else – tacos! But in all honesty, these tacos were totally worth it. However, I neglected to take note of the vendor’s name when I was ordering – so, they will remain a mystery. In any case, these tacos definitely hit the spot and were the perfect dessert to end my Smorgasburg experience.

Disclaimer: we most likely could have kept eating for hours, and there were definitely other vendors we wanted to try. But in the spirit of saving for our new apartment, it seemed wise to draw the line there (and before we became uncomfortably full and started hating ourselves).

Guess that just means we’ll have to go back this summer!

c2603063-8033-4f66-998f-f3031998ec3c

92b1e0ab-86d9-4cce-bd26-8fd2021e07f8

1d77e4f1-7e11-41be-b0c2-794e025e77f0

2673bbef-7d91-468e-870a-1b60e7c1515f

992ff701-fbf9-4646-b862-8e0df0fb33fd

f117561b-4205-4d0a-9263-80425a7b6294

eea1662c-d196-47d2-9249-5ed91d2239b8

790507de-0116-4a3f-9b25-460feaf69d83

aea56d98-fa7d-4659-9fa1-e3cb1a93e89c

97f9975f-683f-434b-a31e-f7f68abd1227

1ecbf79a-68de-4fcd-88d4-847ff3c3eb3b

c8c9758b-f8fc-4b95-b378-a7db7c8ca51f

3bcee3c0-4516-4ddf-8e36-215ca177ccc6

e0de23e3-9a1b-4239-879a-4ce838ad6e81

31081420-fa72-4bea-8e99-8d051947f969

Top 10 DIYs to Try

Image Source: www.aliceandlois.com

As I’m sure you know by now, Matt and I will be moving to our new apartment at the end of May. I’ve been all sorts of inspired to find decor for the new place that fit both of our styles – and what better way to decorate, than with a whole bunch of DIYs!

Now, I’m sure I’m being overly ambitious in thinking I’ll actually go out of my way to build things rather than just buy pre-made stuff from Target, but in any case, here are a bunch of cool DIYs I’ve come across in my searching to try for my (or your!) new apartment. (To get step-by-step instructions on how to do it yourself, click the title or the Source link below the photo.)

 

Triangle Mirror

Source: www.almostmakesperfect.com

 

Finger Knit Rope Trivet

Source: www.flaxandtwine.com

 

Mid-Century Plant Stand

Source: www.abeautifulmess.com

 

Mid-Century Nightstand

Source: www.burkatron.com

 

Ladder Plant Stand

Source: www.themerrythought.com

 

Set of 3 Hanging Mirrors

Source: www.decor8blog.com

 

Mini Granite Pots

Source: www.almostmakesperfect.com

 

Mudcloth Floor Cushion

Source: www.apairandasparediy.com

 

Balsa Wood Planter

Source: www.fallfordiy.com

 

Ikea Hack Mudcloth Upholstered Bench

Source: www.aliceandlois.com

 

 

How I Edit My Instagram Photos

People often ask me, “How do you edit your Instagram photos?” Now, I’m by no means Instagram famous – I only have about 5,000 followers and I don’t think the photos I post are anything spectacular, but I do keep a pretty consistent theme.

First of all, let me say that I edit my photography differently than the photos I post on Instagram. When I use my Canon digital SLR, I edit those photos on my laptop on Photoshop. Most of the photos I post on IG I’ve taken with my iPhone 8+, so I typically edit those on my phone. Since this post is simply how I edit for Instagram, I’ll walk through the steps I take and apps I use when editing the photos I take on my phone.

acs_0050

I’ll use the photo to the left as an example. I actually don’t have the original saved, but it was quite a bit darker when I initially took it.

The first step I take to edit my photos is to adjust the curves. In my opinion, the curve tool is one of the most powerful tools you have. You can learn more about adjusting curves in Photoshop here. I typically use curves to brighten my photos, while still maintaining the level of contrast I want. In the photo to the left, I have already adjusted the curves.

The iPhone app I use for curves is Color Story. This app has a lot of helpful functions, but I usually just use it to the adjust the curves, then move onto the next app that I use – VSCO.

4329d5af-b963-4288-a885-d701ad027e19

The VSCO app is definitely my go-to photo editor on my iPhone. I typically make all other changes (cropping, straightening, temperature, tint, etc.) on VSCO, mostly because it’s the app I’m most used to. I also use its presets to keep the theme of my Instagram posts consistent.

29eb64fb-fb33-4aa0-8ac4-7b94ce6b88af-1

After I’ve made all the lighting and cropping adjustments necessary, I apply one of my go-to presets to the photo. Recently, I’ve been using VSCO’s J5 pretty consistently, but my feed also has a lot of A4 used as well.

fe8f16d0-b759-412f-9771-3eb8a221803a-1

And that’s it!

Some photos take me longer than others to edit, in terms of the initial lighting and cropping adjustments, but for the most part my process is pretty consistent.

You can also see it’s not drastically different from the original, but when it’s in the grid with the rest of my Instagram photos you can definitely see the consistent theme across all posts.

Another app that I find super helpful for more complex editing is Snapseed – you can make finer, more precise edits to photos using its tools. I will often use the Brush tool to selectively adjust the exposure, temperature, or saturation of certain sections of my photo. For instance, if there is a weird shadow somewhere, I’ll select the Brush and use the +0.3 Exposure setting to lighten certain areas, while leaving the rest of the photo untouched.

As I said earlier, I definitely have a more complex process when I edit photos I’ve taken on my Canon, but this is pretty much everything I do before posting an iPhone photo to Instagram.

Hopefully this was helpful, but if you have any other questions about photo editing or editing apps, feel free to contact me!

Easter Weekend Photo Fun

Ever since I went to college, I feel like I’ve slowly lost touch with some of the things that I am passionate about – and things that make me who I am (or rather, who I was). Two of the things I miss the most from my childhood – and teenage years – are horses and photography. For me, the two went hand-in-hand. I would spend every day after school at the barn, and all day on weekends. Although I would ride my horse (and several others) while I was at the barn, the majority of my time was actually spent taking pictures.

By discovering my love for horses, I also discovered my love for photography – and in a way, I owe my entire career to that. Without my relative success as an equine photographer, I would not have taught myself how to use Photoshop, how to code, how to build websites. In a way, that brought me to where I am today.

But, regardless of my progress in terms of my professional career, there is a big piece of me that misses the passion I felt when taking photos of horses – and the excitement of getting home with memory cards full of thousands of photos to sift through and edit. Although I would get paid for my photography, it never felt like work to me. It was just something I loved to do, and making money was an added bonus.

Apologies for the extensive explanation – because long story short, I want to get back into photography. Something that made me so happy for so many years deserves a place in my life again. And although equine photography is not exactly conducive to my current living arrangement (horses + New York City = no go), I hope to be able to channel my photographic talents towards other aspects of life, beyond horses or other animals. I live just steps from one of the biggest, most vibrant cities in the country and the world – there has got to be something photo-worthy in that concrete jungle.

So, baby steps.

This past weekend, Matt and I went to my parents’ house in Central Jersey for Easter. The (relatively) warm weather was a welcome surprise (an unwelcome surprise was that it snowed today), so we took advantage of the sunshine to explore the great outdoors. Although I can’t say I got any real award-winning photos, it felt good to take my camera out again. And, Matt and I ended up having our own little impromptu photo shoot (ironically, taken on my iPhone 8+).

Thanks to Matt for getting some great shots of me in my natural habitat, and for his unwavering patience and support for my hobbies – and, my dog!

Processed with VSCO with j5 preset

Processed with VSCO with j5 preset

Processed with VSCO with 3 preset

fa78f6cd-f16f-485b-be68-ea79cefed718

c407414e-bf74-4d1f-87f1-2adc550fd34f

e83359b2-5dfa-4a59-904e-3a98d11edf85

3df5b32e-748e-45a1-a12a-a4e67bd64857

cb0c895f-c4b8-48a5-9009-d734999c9576

My Top Target Finds

With our move-in date getting closer, I’ve been getting more and more excited to furnish our new apartment. And, if you know me at all, you know my number one, go-to-spot for all things home decor is Target (HomeGoods is a close second – if only they had online ordering!). So, in the spirit of sharing, I’ve decided to put together a post with my favorite Target finds that I’ve come across over the past few weeks.

The look we are going for combines industrial, modern-rustic, and Scandinavian design – I’m honestly not sure if there is an all-encompassing name for that, but basically we’re all about clean lines, neutral colors, and simple patterns.

Hope you enjoy these products, and happy shopping!

Marble Top Round TableMarble Top Round Table 2
Project 62™ Marble Top Round Table – $79.99

 

Artificial Plant in Black Pot Medium

Threshold™ Artificial Plant in Black Pot Medium – $7.99

 

Loring 5 Shelf Ladder BookcaseLoring 5 Shelf Ladder Bookcase 2

Project 62™ 72″ Loring 5 Shelf Ladder Bookcase – $99.99

 

framed-cactus-wall-print.jpeg

Project 62™ Framed Cactus Wall Print 2pk White/Green 20″x16″ – $39.99

 

Mid Century Modern Molded Chair

Mid Century Modern Molded Chair With Wood Leg – $99.99

 

Luxury Stripe Accent Bath Towels

Luxury Stripe Accent Bath Towels – $19.99

 

Loring Console TableLoring Console Table 2

Project 62™ Loring Console Table – $129.99

 

Geneva Glass Globe with Marble Base Task Lamp Brass

Project 62™ Geneva Glass Globe with Marble Base Task Lamp Brass $49.99

 

Lidded Jar Container Candle 8ozLidded Jar Container Candle 8oz 2

Hearth & Hand™ Lidded Jar Container Candle 8oz – $12.99

 

Carlisle 29 Gun Metal Barstool

Threshold™ Carlisle 29″ Gun Metal Barstool – $119.99

 

Round Decorative Wall Mirror BrassRound Decorative Wall Mirror Brass 2

Project 62™ Round Decorative Wall Mirror Brass – $49.99

 

Round Fabric Bin Large Gray & White

Pillowfort™ Round Fabric Bin Large Gray & White – $19.99

 

ladder-bookshelf-mixed-material-2-e1522017988914.jpeg

70″ Ladder Bookshelf Mixed Material – $69.99

 

Kitchen Towel Set

Hearth & Hand™ Kitchen Towel Set (2pk) – $9.99

 

Decorative Wood Wall Clock

Project 62™ Decorative Wood Wall Clock – $14.99

 

End Table Mixed Material

End Table Mixed Material – $49.99

 

Kaci Mid Century Modern Sectional 2

Kaci Mid Century Modern Sectional – $569.99

 

Ellis Tripod Lamp BrassEllis Tripod Lamp Brass 2

Project 62™ Ellis Tripod Floor Lamp Brass – $79.99

 

Succulent Wall Geometric Hanging

Project 62™ Succulent Wall Geometric Hanging White/Gold – $12.99

 

Xander Lift-Top Coffee Table 3Xander Lift-Top Coffee Table 2

Xander Lift-Top Coffee Table – $269.99

Disclaimer: Target did not contact me to promote these products and I am not being compensated for this post.