7.27.2014

Day Trippin': Croton Point Park

During the summer in New York City, it's almost always a struggle to find a beach that suits my tastes. As a Northeast Floridian, I'm very picky about my beaches: I like them to be free access, with very few people, and be able to walk in the sand barefoot without the fear of stepping on a syringe (ahem, Coney Island, I'm looking at you). Generally I travel out to Rockaway - mainly for the infamous Rockaway Taco stand - but also because it's fairly accessible to me from the Brooklyn trains. This time around, I wanted to try something different to see if I could find a beach a bit more secluded, and a bit more barefoot-friendly.

I discovered Croton Point Park from a fashion roundup for weekend getaways from the city (can you see why I was reading it?). As I clicked through and read more, as inquisitive as I am about day travel to and from Manhattan, I was pleased to find out that this park, which is situated on 508 acres across a peninsula on the east shore of the Hudson River, is actually only an hour out of the city and within walking distance of the train. Eliminating the need for upstate taxi services (which I hate), I was instantly on-board when I read that they not only have swimming in the river, but also kayaking, hiking around the point, and an abundance of picnic areas. So many wondrous options!

The park is gorgeous, with a lovely little beachy bay cove that has sand, while a bit rough, was clean enough to walk on with summertime bare feet without any worries. The river was a great swim (a bit chilly, but not too chilly), and then we walked along the rockier side of the bay out to the point. The green, rolling hills that surround the park are reminiscent of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina (where I left my heart so many years ago), so I inherently felt at home. The bay also hosted a number of speed boats, sailboats, motor boats, jet skis, and kayaks, which - of course - made me nostalgic about our recent Maine trip. Overall? Well worth the hour voyage from Grand Central, and a definite win for the day-trip warriors.







Read more about the park here - they also have wine cellars!

7.20.2014

Book Club: Summer Reading Classics

There's something so inherently happy about curling up with a good book. There's something to be said (no pun intended) about how written words have shaped this world - from the letters of the past to social media today, words are a very powerful source that not many people take the time to hone in on anymore. The impact of books, novels, pamphlets, letters - and heck, even nowadays with twitter and facebook posts - have shaped the way we view life, whether we fully acknowledge it or not.

Fun little fact about me: I don't own a television. It's not because I'm hipster (maybe I am... it's up for discussion), or because I view them as the source of all evil - certainly nothing of the sort. I don't own a TV because, in all honesty, I'd rather spend my money on a new bulletin board for real-life pinning (seriously) than on an electronic device. I refuse to update my phone unless it's actually dead / lost / drowned, and my laptop has been with me since my college days (but don't tell it that - pretty please?). That being said, I do have a habit of watching an inordinate amount of television for someone who doesn't own one. Thanks to the invention of Netflix, Hulu, and Sidereel, I've never had to part with my favorite shows just because I refuse to spend money on a flatscreen.


As much as I love TV, I find that summer - more so than any other season - makes me want to pick up a book and read. Just yesterday I popped into a bookstore in the West Village, and the comforting smell of freshly printed books hit me like a wall as soon as I opened the door. I'm not sure what it is about bookstores (especially small, street corner ones that are usually overlooked) but they hold so much magic for me; and walking into this one-room wood-floored bookshelf-lined place that was brimming with new adventures made me instantly excited. Picking up two new books for my shelves (this and this), I left happier and more fulfilled than any TV show could ever make me feel.

So, hippies, it's time to let your inner bookworm roam free, bust out that summer reading list, and get you lit (-erature) on. I thought it best to start with the classics. Most of these are titles that we've already read, yes. But how many of us fully remember what our childhood summer reading was about, and took the time to really ponder how carefully these authors' stories were crafted? One of my English teachers growing up once told me that when I was older, if I re-read these books, I would be able to appreciate them to a fuller extent. I never really understood what she meant until I picked up The Great Gatsby a few summers ago; since then, I haven't been able to get my hands on enough books to re-read over and over again. It's funny how teachers are always right about that kind of stuff, isn't it?
 
Classic Summer Reading
1. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
3. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
4. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams
5. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
6. The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger
7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
8. Lord of The Flies - William Golding
9. The Outsiders - S. E. Hinton
10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Caroll

(Side note: If you have any others you'd like to add, leave them in the comment section, and we can make it a running list!)

7.10.2014

Delightful Discoveries: A Question of Eagles Pottery

The internet is both a scary and magical place. There's nothing I love more than having enough time in the day to fall down the rabbit hole a little, following link after link until you find something that you're just absolutely entranced by. I've been a fan of a little online retail business (not so little anymore) called Of A Kind for a while now, where designers are encouraged to create a limited edition piece that is sold exclusively on the site. At the time that I found the website, I had been dating someone who was a bit of a commercial snob, so he always wanted to find and have something unique that no one else had. Obviously, Of A Kind was perfect for that. 

Astral Bent Top Vase, A Question of Eagles for Of A Kind
As I purchased my first few pieces from them, I became more interested in the idea behind it all and started discovering all the designers separately from their Of A Kind editions. When this little Astral Bent Top Vase came out, it was right up my alley. Handmade pottery is one of my weak spots; I really respond to how each piece was formed by hands just like mine, in turn making each piece something incredibly unique. This vase has been one of my favorite editions, so naturally I clicked through to the designer profile to learn more about who crafted this. And the more I learned, the more I fell in love with the brand - A Question of Eagles.

A Question of Eagles is an LA-based company that specializes in not only pottery - but also jewelry and quilts. Everything is handmade, whether it's by husband-and-wife team Melissa and Jonathan out in California or the quilting done by Melissa's mom (Marcia) in Illinois. Inspired by nature and their travels through the American landscape, Melissa and Jonathan have developed an amazing brand that's co-founded in their combined love to create heirloom-quality pieces. I'm swooning over everything - now if only they stocked here in New York. I guess a trip to California might be in order?

A Question of Eagles | Very Large Lantern
A Question of Eagles | Mini Zig Zag

7.09.2014

Meow Moment

Whenever I go on long trips, everyone always asks me what I do with Shep. He's a panicky little thing (although you couldn't tell by his attitude most days), so I do like to keep him at home. Never fear! I have so many wonderful friends who care about him and pop in to make sure he's doing well, but I think ultimately it's better for him to have the comforts of home - especially if I'm not around (we're pretty dependent on each other). In any case, he lasts about five days before he gets upset, and then he takes that aggression out through his redecoration hobby (#catfengshui). I got home on the sixth day of being gone... so as you can guess, he had really taken over the place.

I left my house spotless. I don't usually do that, but I did this time. I vacuumed, I did all the dishes, and heck, I even made my bed. All the laundry had been done, every inch of my home was organized and meticulous. Let me just paint a picture for you as to what I came home to for a moment. First of all - litter. Litter everywhere, in every single nook and cranny. And hair. So much hair that when you walk, it moves under your feet. Two of the cabinets in the kitchen were opened and sat that way for God knows how long. Finally (and I do think this was the crowning touch), small batch fresh vomit on my favorite cowhide rug.

Sigh.

Then he curled into my lap and laid his little head on my thigh, and all was forgiven. This is the magic of pets, y'all.





7.08.2014

Five Things: The Maine Event

As I've mentioned several (maybe annoying, sorry not sorry) times, this past weekend for the Fourth - and my birthday, duh - I took a rare handful of days off to roadtrip it up to the lobster hub of New England; the wild and wonderful state of Maine. Why Maine? Not sure, to be honest. Exactly ten years ago I headed there with my family and remember falling in love with the rugged coast and vividly green mountainscapes. Maine is such a unique state (and, in my opinion, totally underrated) with a variety of activities ranging from hiking to boating to lobster fishing and beyond. Being the relatively outdoorsy (haaaah) hippie that I am, I packed my blue jeans and cozy knit sweaters to head north and enjoy everything Maine has to offer.

I think I should preface this with a disclaimer: I'm a planner. I really, really, really enjoy planning things - to the point that it truly 100% excites me when all my plans come through perfectly. I'm still learning the art of the right amount of anticipating and planning for trips - so this time, I may have overplanned by just a little. Okay... a lot.

There were just so many things I wanted to do! And I didn't count on the weather. On the drive up, it was foggy and overcast which was actually moody and wonderful. As soon as we hit Portland, the rain started falling - HARD. We got up to Brooklin (ironically enough - Brooklyn to Brooklin) and it was nice enough to let us see a few sites on the Fourth in Acadia before it started raining... again. Still we didn't let it dampen our mood and we saw parts of Acadia National Park right before the downpour. Then it kept raining. And raining. Finally when the rain passed the next day, we made our way to a winery (YAY) and as the rain went northwards we sipped on blueberry wine and enjoyed fresh cheeses. The sunset when we got home that night was probably one of the most magical things I've ever seen - truly - and then the next morning we departed and headed back down south along the coast in what can only be described as perfect weather.

As we were roadtripping through Maine, however, we were lucky enough to go to a number of absolutely stunning locations that really demonstrated (at least to me) what the coastal Maine landscape was all about. Maine is one of those enchanted states that's blessed to be so intensely photogenic (erm... 'grammable). Maine's coastline is rough and rocky while being distinctly beautiful, with inland mountains hosting cloud rivers that make you want to dance and sing and live there forever all at the same time. Here I am today, to share with you five things I did in Maine that I instantly fell in love with.

1. Get to the top of Cadillac Mountain. Views are unreal.
2. Stay in Brooklin. This little town is everything.
3. Go to Two Lights and explore the coast. And... get the lobster rolls. Duh.
4. If you're a bird, I'm a bird, in Acadia National Park. Everything about this place refreshes you.
5. Cellardoor Winery: wine, cheese, and scenery. There is literally nothing in this world that's better.
These are only five of the intensely regenerating things I did while in Maine, and this isn't even counting the remote little red cabin we rented (check out my instagram for more pics!). I honestly feel like when you're in this state you can do no wrong - every tiny town has a secret, and every street corner hosts a scene that's something out of a fairy tale. All these discoveries that the Maine coast holds made my Fourth something unique and unbelievably American for someone who's so used to fireworks and beer. Now the only question that's left is if I'm spoiled enough to go back... and I can already answer that. 

 
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