After NYC, I headed to Washington DC. My sister lives outside in Arlington, so I drove down with her. This was my first time in DC, so I was excited to explore a new city in the fall weather and foliage. I got an AirBnb in Logan Circle, which is a historic area with lots or restaurants and cute houses. During the week, I was just working from the apartment, so nothing too exciting, but on the weekends I got out and explored. Here are some things I did if you're visiting DC and would like some suggestions:
At the end of July, I did a little cottage core photoshoot in my mom's backyard while I was home for the weekend. Later that day, my 2 aunts (my mom's sisters) and my grandparents came over for a little birthday celebration (for my one aunt). Four weeks later at the end of August, I came home again after moving out of my apartment. When I got home, my mom broke the news to me that my one aunt was currently in the hospital as she had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and it was aggressive. I couldn't believe the words coming out of my mom's mouth. I had just seen her a month ago, how could she be that sick in just a matter of weeks?
I stayed at my mom's for a week then went back to NYC for 6 weeks. After my Airbnb stay in NYC was over, I came back home again. My plan was to do some laundry, repack, then head right to DC with my sister. But when we arrived home, my mom explained how dire the situation was, so I decided to cancel the next Airbnb I had booked in DC. My aunt passed away the next day.
While I was home again, I decided to do another cottage core photoshoot in the backyard, this time with a fall twist. It was surreal, honestly. I couldn't believe how it felt like just yesterday it was summer and I was taking photos on this same gingham picnic blanket, yet things were so different now.
If this year has taught me anything, it's to not take time for granted. I have a habit of wishing away time. I'm constantly looking forward to the weekend, to the summer, to vacations, to holidays. Especially this year, when there is so little to look forward to, it's so easy to daydream about the future and not appreciate the time we have in front of us. But my aunt's death has really put things in perspective for me and made me realize that life can be taken away from us without any warning.
Recently I've started to document the little things through journaling and film photography, and it's really helped me be more present and not rush through life. Looking back, I feel like I wished away my 20's, telling myself I'll be happy once I have a new job or have a boyfriend. Now that I'm in my 30's, I want to savor these years and not wish them away.
If you read my recent blog post about my new nomadic lifestyle, you know I spent the last 6 weeks in NYC. September and October are always my favorite months in NYC, weather-wise, so I couldn't have asked for a better first leg of this adventure. The weather was gorgeous, so on the weekends I was able to check a lot of things off my NYC bucket list. The Central Park Zoo, getting my aura read on Canal Street, and outdoor dining at some new bars and restaurants were all on my list. If this year has taught me anything, it's that life is too short and to not put things off. For years I have been telling myself that I would go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, yet I never seemed to get around to it. Then when Covid first hit in March, these things I procrastinated on weren't even an option. Now that things are somewhat back to normal, I was determined to make the most of this time and not take our freedom for granted. Next stop: Washington DC.
Although I'm currently staying in Manhattan, I've been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn. It's just a quick ferry ride across the river, so it's a fun weekend activity. Here a few of my favorite things to do in Williamsburg and Greenpoint:
Food & Drinks:
I've been a bit MIA on social media the last couple weeks because I've had a lot going on personally. One reason is because I moved out of my apartment at the end of August after living there for the last 7 years. It was the apartment I moved into when I got my first job after graduating college and had been there ever since. For those who don't know, I lived in Hoboken, NJ, which is right across the Hudson River, similar to living in Brooklyn or Queens. My first job was actually in New Jersey, not Manhattan, so at the time, I thought it made more sense to live in Hoboken rather than reverse commute from the city.
While Hoboken is a quaint little city and the home of Frank Sinatra, it was very small with not much to do. It was also very isolating. I lost touch with so many friends because I was the only one that didn't live in Brooklyn and was ghosted by so many guys as soon as they heard the word Hoboken. But year after year, I renewed my lease because the rent was cheap and stabilized, I had a washer and dryer in unit (a rarity) and because it was just easier to keep things status quo rather than take the risk of moving into a new place that might not be as good as my current apartment. I am a creature of habit. I always worry about making a wrong choice and when given the choice tend to stick with the familiar. But like many people, the pandemic forced me to re-evaluate and get out of my comfort zone.
Since the company I work for full time is still remote and will be until at least 2021, I didn't think it made sense to renew a lease on a place I wasn't 100 percent happy living in. Giving up an apartment I was so comfortable in was scary and I second guessed myself at times. But now 2 weeks later, I'm so happy with my decision to try something different. That was the apartment I spent my 20's in, and now that I'm 30, it felt like a good time to close that chapter.
Once things get a little more normal and I'm back in an office full time, I plan to look for a new apartment in Manhattan. In the meantime, I'm living a nomadic lifestyle, so I'll be staying in short term housing and won't be committing to a new long term lease. My first stop is NYC. I'm currently living and working remote in an Airbnb here until October, then will be going elsewhere. The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for so many people including myself, which at first was very stressful. However, instead of fighting this, I decided to embrace it and go with the flow. Being a nomad right now will give me more flexibility to live where is safest with the pandemic as well as try living in different places I wouldn't have the opportunity to otherwise if the pandemic hadn't happened.
As you can see from these photos, the cottage core aesthetic has gotten to me, so I decided to do a picnic photoshoot a few weeks ago. Cottage core is often synonymous with white flowing dresses and neutral color palettes, some things that aren't exactly my style, so I decided to put my own twist on the trend. I had ordered this green gingham bathing suit from J.Crew, but sadly the top was a bit too small. I still loved the color and print, so I wanted to find a way to make it work. I decided to style it with a white button up shirt, beret and vintage scarf, for a casual French vibe. I thought the mini green gingham would pair nicely with my big gingham picnic blanket. To complete the French vibe I of course added some fruit and a baguette.
I haven't felt like taking pictures or being creative on the internet much over the last couple months, so it was nice to be able to blast some Brigette Bardot in the backyard and get into this shoot. When the pandemic first hit, social media was my escape and I would spend my weekends taking pictures and making videos for Instagram and TikTok. As the summer progressed, Instagram became an extremely toxic place for me for a few reasons, so my motivation has not been there. Also, after being stuck indoors for so long in quarantine, I am taking every opportunity to be outside and off my phone. I'm spending my time walking in the city, riding bikes, going out to eat with friends, trying to take advantage of any sense of normalcy while the infection rates in NYC are low and the weather is warm.
My lack of appetite for social media has made me crave finding creativity in other avenues. I've been trying to make more time for reading and learning French on Duolingo. I started watching some classic old-Hollywood films that have been on my watchlist forever. I recently fixed my sewing machine and started sewing again. I've also been thinking about getting into journaling. A few years ago, I couldn't go a day without making time to scroll through my Instagram feed. My obsession was actually unhealthy, because I would have to scroll to the very last post I saw from the last time I was online. Now I go days without scrolling through my feed. It feels good not to have FOMO about what's happening on social media and finding enjoyment in other creative endeavors for the first time in a while.
As you may or may not know, I live in Hoboken, New Jersey, which is right across the river from Manhattan. When I first moved to the NYC area for work, I decided to live here because the job I moved for was actually based in NJ. At the time I didn't think it made sense to reverse commute from NYC to NJ, so Hoboken seemed like the best solution. Although it is a cute city and home of Frank Sinatra, it's not exactly my scene and end up spending most of my time in NYC for both work and pleasure. When people meet me, they often think I live in Brooklyn and I always joke that I basically just sleep in Hoboken because I'm never there.
Now that NYC is starting to reopen, I've begun to venture back in again, but I'm definitely not spending as much time as usual there and exploring my own backyard more. I went down by the water and took these photos. I thought the boats, water and view finders would make a good backdrop for this nautical look. I was also inspired by Pierrot Le Fou, so I added the beret and scarf for a French touch. The top is vintage from the '80s I recently got from Billie Jean Vintage.
A few days ago I had a socially distant staycation at The Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, NJ. Since the pandemic has put all of my travel plans on the back burner for the remainder of the year (RIP Paris), I wanted to try and make the most of the summer and plan some local adventures. I am originally from the South Jersey area, so I grew up going to the Jersey Shore every summer. I hadn’t been to Wildwood since I was very young, so I was excited to go back and check out all the 1950’s design and architecture it has to offer.
The Caribbean Motel was built in 1957. The current owners, Carolyn and George, purchased it back in 2004, and they’ve done an amazing job of updating the property while still preserving the atomic era design. There is a pool and shuffleboard court which guests can use. Both have been recently updated, but still pay homage to the property’s original amenities. The rooms were also clean and modern, but still hold on to the best parts of the past. During the day they play ’60s music outside by the pool. The speaker system is also hooked up in the rooms, so you can blast some retro tunes inside and really get in the mood. Carolyn told me the faux wood paneling is also original from the ’50s which they discovered accidentally while remodeling. I also loved the original 1950’s pink fixtures in the bathroom as well.
This was the first time staying in a hotel since the pandemic really hit, so although I was excited, I was also a bit hesitant. I read some articles about whether or not it was safe to stay in a hotel before the trip. Since health experts agree the most common way Covid-19 is transmitted is from person to person, the biggest risk staying in a hotel poses is the other guests you would encounter, say while checking in at the lobby or riding in an elevator. The Caribbean did a great job making sure people were socially distant. Upon checking in, only 1 person/family was allowed in the office at one time, and both Carolyn (who checked me in) and I wore masks while she got me situated. The keys were old school, but she assured me that they were all wiped down and sanitized between guests. As you can imagine, due to the pandemic, the motel capacity was a lot less than a typical summer. Since there was only a few other guests, there was plenty of room to spread out at the pool area. One day my sister and I even had the whole area to ourselves. They also limited how many people went in the actual pool at one time. They had soap and hand sanitizer readily available in the pool, office and other common areas. Our room was super clean as well when we arrived, but I did bring a bottle of Clorox wipes and sanitized the room myself just to be safe.
Overall, we had a great stay at The Caribbean and I can’t wait to come back again. If you’d like to learn more about the motel or book a stay, check out their website here.
*The Caribbean was kind enough to comp my room in exchange for this blog post and photos, but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.
Although NYC is still on lockdown and the Coronavirus has certainly not disappeared, it feels like we're slowly closing the chapter on COVID-19 (for now anyway). I think I'm feeling this shift for a few reasons. Although the threat of the virus is still very real, the number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths have all significantly dropped in my area. I think it's also due to the fact that people are trying to reclaim as much normalcy as they can, especially now that Memorial Day has passed and summer is officially here. And most importantly, with the Black Lives Matter protests that have irrupted in the last week, it feels like Coronavirus has taken a back seat in comparison.
This time period will undoubtedly go down in history for many reasons, but it was definitely a time for personal growth and reflection as well. In some ways, quarantine felt like a time I'd want to erase from my memory forever, but I think it's important to document what you learned and felt, so I wanted to commemorate it with a blog post:
favorite TV shows + movies I watched:
favorite quarantine activity: TikTok
I downloaded TikTok over the summer, but I really didn't "get it". I thought it was for high schoolers, and I really couldn't imagine what kinds of videos I could create on there. Since I had more time during quarantine, I finally spent more time on the app and I understood it more. It's been fun to experiment with, and there are honestly some hilarious videos on there, which provided some much needed laughs during this dark time. I know a lot of people on Instagram said they felt like they had no energy to be creative during the pandemic, but for me, creating for social media was a great distraction.
something I accomplished:
Although I gave myself permission to not be productive 100% off the time while in quarantine, I did use this time to finally do a few things I had been putting off for months. One of those things on my to-do list was to design merchandise. I have been thinking about designing my own t-shirts, tote bags, pins, etc for a while now, and I finally got around to it. It took a few weeks for the samples to arrive, but they finally did last week, so I've started photographing them so I can post about them soon. I'm really excited to finally see my ideas come to life.
something I learned:
Pre-quarantine, I was constantly on the go, especially on weekends. I am someone who always aims to make the most out of life. I never want to feel like I missed out on something or that I let time or an opportunity pass me by, so my weekends are rarely spent at home just relaxing and watching Netflix. When quarantine first hit, I couldn't imagine sitting home for the ENTIRE weekend, and now here we are, 12 weeks later, every weekend spent at home.
At first, thinking about having to stay home and not being able to go out to a restaurant or museum or vintage store made me feel claustrophobic, but when it came down to it, I actually didn't hate being home as much as I thought I would. Most of this is probably due to the fact that everyone I know was at home, so I couldn't have FOMO. However, I also realized I didn't actually hate cooking or relaxing at home, like I had previously proclaimed. In reality, I had been avoiding being in my own apartment because my current roommate and her boyfriend were constantly there, acting as if it was their own apartment. She's since moved out and now having a taste at living alone, I realize how much happier and relaxed it would make me, so figuring out how to make this happen is a goal I'm currently trying to work on.
some photos I'm proud of:
Taking photos while restricted to my apartment or my mom's house was challenging, but I managed to take a few photos that I'm proud of. Here are a few of my favorites:
8 full weeks in quarantine now. I spent the first 3 weeks in my apartment, but the last 5 I’ve spent at my mom’s house. I usually (half) joke with my family about how much I hate coming home to the suburbs compared to being in NYC. However, during this time I’ve actually enjoyed being out of the city since I have more space and I’m no longer in the direct epicenter of the virus.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, continuing to create content has been the best distraction for me during this time, so of course I’m still trying to keep up with it here at my mom’s house. It’s been difficult without having access to my full wardrobe, all of my vintage props, or being able to venture around to cool locations, but I’m trying to do the best with what I have.
Nola from Ethereal Bunny Boutique, a vintage shop on Instagram, was kind enough to send me these 2 amazing pieces from her shop, which I photographed last weekend. The first piece is a velvet 1960’s dress with a trumpet sleeve that really makes the dress. The deep purple and sleeve detail reminded me of Austin Powers, so I wanted to go for a late ‘60s aesthetic for these photos. I took a short stroll down the block and stumbled across this gorgeous tree on my neighbors lawn. I think it was the perfect backdrop to give some literal flower power to the photos. I styled this dress more spring-y this time around, but I can’t wait to rock it next year for the holidays with black tights.
The second piece was this 80’s crayon sweater. I know a lot of people in the vintage community don’t like 80’s fashion, but I love all of the quirky sweaters that came out of this decade. On my walks I’ve been taking through my mom’s neighborhood I’ve spotted a few retro cars, so I decided to use this late 70’s one as a backdrop of these photos. I styled the sweater with high waisted denim shorts and ankle socks and sneakers to really play up the 80’s vibe.
I’m partnering up with Nola to give one of you a store credit to her shop. She has so many cute, colorful and quirky pieces in her shop from the 50’s-90’s. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites pieces on my stories, but you can check out everything she’s selling here. Head to my Instagram to find out how to enter the giveaway!