Friday, December 19, 2014

Link Love

TGIF! Like many of the weeks preceding, this week seems to have felt impossibly long, likely because I've been counting down to this weekend in my head pretty much since I got back to London. 
Why, you might ask? Because I'm heading home for the holidays on (a very very early flight) Sunday morning, which means three things—sleep, LOTS of Netflix, and cuddling with my dog. Most of the adults in my family, a.k.a. everyone but my cousin who's in college, are in serious relationships/married/with children, leaving me to be the lone single adult in the family (obviously my response is "Yeah but I live in New York City"). This means it's totally excusable for me to barely get dressed over the week I'm home except to hit up old haunts at night with friends in town—and I totally own it.  

My theoretical plans include getting some more things together for this little blog, as I've got some thoughts and reflections on 2014 along with goals and things I'm looking forward to in 2015. But, first, I'm going to set no alarms for a few days and have already booked an end-of-year massage at a favorite little spa in Des Moines as a treat to myself! We'll see how far I get on all of that, but I'm looking forward to hitting the *reset* button after a great but long year. Now, for the good stuff—links to browse, read and shop while you're procrastinating at work (because hey, it's Friday, and it's almost Christmas).

I could totally relate to Victoria's post on real life vs. instagram—many of my feelings are the same!

If you're a total last-minute gift shopper but hate going to the store...Zappos has free two-day shipping! Confession: I purchased several gifts from my family from their pretty amazing selection.

Did you watch How It's made in college? It was a procrastination favorite of mine...this is a great read on How It's Made is made.

I'm moving bedrooms in my apartment soon (doubling my space!), so I'm pinning TONS of interior inspiration right now.

I recently discovered The Financial Diet and spent an afternoon reading every. single. post. If you're a 20-something who needs to get your financial sh*t together (*raises hand*), it'll be like a friend cheering you on—and giving you a serious wake-up call. 

Jonathan Adler just added tons of new markdowns to their sale section (up to 50% off!). Great gifts & little pick-me-ups galore.

I've made it a goal to read more this year, especially classic literature I missed out on growing up (I just finished a George Orwell book and am currently in the midst of some Hemingway!). The NY Times also released their 100 Notable Books of 2014—I only made it to a handful! How many did you read? 

Anthropologie is offering 20% off selected gifts right now—including that heavily 'grammed monogram mug.

Hallie celebrated a birthday recently and shared some great reflections...wisdom much-needed since I'm rapidly approaching my late 20's (seriously, how is my ten-year high school reunion in just over a year?).

I usually find these posts pretty sappy, but this one's worth a share: why you should move to a city where you don't know anyone.

Hitha always has the best travel tips, and this is one to bookmark—eating healthy while traveling! I always pack snacks, especially since it can be tough to track down relatively healthy veggie-friendly meals in airports.

*images 1,2 4 via image 3 via

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Photo Diary: The Glass House

Early last month, a friend and I took the train up to New Canaan, Connecticut to see Philip Johnson's Glass House with Fujiko Nakaya's fog installation, Veil.
I first spotted the house & the installation on Whitney Hayes' instagram feed (an incredible one to follow, if you don't already!) over the summer, when The Glass House arranged for an amazing group of instagram photographers to tour the grounds—search #emptypjglasshouse on instagram to see all the photos. I made it a priority (which I talked about here) to make it there before the installation ended in late November and they closed up for winter. Naturally, things kept coming up weekend after weekend—this year was a busy one—and we finally settled on the first weekend of November.
As luck would have it, the day we picked ended up being cold and rainy, but it also made for a serene visit. We did a guided tour despite first wanting to do the self-guided tour, where you get about an hour more to wander the grounds as you please (all of those were sold out—they're only offered about twice a month, and only once on a weekend). In retrospect, the guided tour is a great idea if you've never visited and especially if you're only vaguely or not at all familiar with the grounds, as we were. 
The train from NYC out of Grand Central takes just over an hour and drops you on the main street of New Canaan, right across from the visitor center for the Glass House. Once you check in, they give you a little time to wander the visitor center, where they have a selection of mid-century modern home goods for sale, along with architecture books, and a wall of digital photos showing the Glass House at various times of year over its 65 year history, before a small bus takes you on a short scenic trip to the grounds (make sure to look out the windows on the way over—there are a lot of amazing houses in New Canann, including several more minimalist, modern home from the 50's and 60's.)
Now, for a little bit about the house...Philip Johnson was an architect who first studied at Harvard after high school and became best known for his post-modern work, particularly with glass, in the 40's and 50's. He built the Glass House as a weekend and summer retreat for himself and his partner, David Whitney (yes, from that family) and spent much of his time here. What I loved most about visiting was how comfortable the house felt, despite its minimalist vibes. It doesn't feel like you're visiting a museum, but rather a home where the owner has maybe just stepped out for a bit. It's obvious how much he loved the property and the home, which he called his pavilion for viewing nature (and what a view there is!). Frequent summer guests included renowned artists, dancers and musicians—Andy Warhol was a close friend, and some of his work is on display in the Painting Gallery.
Over the 50 or so years he spent there (Johnson passed in 2005), he purchased surrounding land and added on—first with an all-brick guest house not far from The Glass House, along with a Pond Pavilion,  the aforementioned Painting Gallery, Sculpture Gallery, Study, and very surreal-looking property at the front called Da Monsta (it reminded me of Beetlejuice—I didn't get any great pictures of it, though!). Several art installations are scattered about, too, but our tour didn't cover the full grounds so I only spotted them from afar. There are low-lying stone walls throughout the property and at the front near the road, many of which date back to the 1800's. There's also an old farmhouse (pictured up top) that Johnson restored and used for laundry, storage and a few other amenities. These days it's been converted in office and storage for events and the like, but it stands in sharp contrast to the other buildings on the 40+ acres.
Post-tour, we decided to hang out in New Canaan a little longer, so we wandered down the main road to Elm, a cute restaurant with a solid brunch menu, and clearly inspired by the postmodern reputation about town (they've also catered several of the parties that take place the the Glass House over the summer!). The main drag had a cozy, comforting feel, and had it not been raining and we hadn't had plans in the city that night, we probably would have stayed a while and wandered around. Regardless, I'm already planning to bring my mom up next summer when she visits.
Now, about the fog...unfortunately, the installation was just for this year—though I wish they'd make it permanent. There's a nice video from the opening here that gives you a better idea of the layout of the property and effects of the fog when you're visiting. It was pretty easy to get completely lost in! Melissa Hope also has some amazing photos up from shortly before I visited.

The Glass House re-opens on May 1 next year.

*all photos shot by Rose Mayo for Blonde in this City

Friday, December 12, 2014

Young & Able

Last month, Rachel over at The Style Line reached out to see if I'd like to participate in a project with Young & Able, an online shop that supports emerging designers and currently has a pop-up in NYC at 345 Broome Street in SoHo.
I was happy to say yes, since one of the things that first drew me to blogging was the ability to discover all things new and exciting, from designers to shops to artists and more. They paired myself and a few other bloggers up with some of the designers, asking us to style a piece from their collection for the season. Mind you, it was a tad bit warmer out when we took these photos in November, so I shunned tights (I've since caved, but I'd like to take this moment for a PSA: spring is only 98 days away). It's also a little weird to look at these photos and realize just how long my hair got this year—I had about five inches chopped off last weekend!

The first designer was Nicole Lenzen, who makes beautiful, simple and incredibly flattering pieces that I could see myself wearing just about anywhere, from the office to drinks to holiday parties and into spring. It should come as no surprise that I gravitated towards a pretty blue silk number, which paired up pretty perfectly with my velvet Bionda Castana boots I scored at 70% off a few months ago (you can find 'em almost as cheap here).
Fun fact: we shot these photos right outside my apartment in Queens! That's my building on the left in the photo below—we're up on the second floor.
The other designer I paired up with was Shana Luther, a Brooklyn-based leather goods designer. I particularly liked her cross-body bag, a style I've been drawn to lately as I look to downsize the amount of sh*t I'm carrying around daily (at minimum, I always have my wallet, phone, keys, a small makeup bag with hair ties, hand cream, lip balm, an eyeliner and lipstick, a book to read and a notebook to jot things down in, plus headphones and a charger cord). Cross-body bags are becoming a favorite because I've also found they lessen the strain on my shoulders...I carry my purse on the right side, and my neck/shoulder are always, always stiff and sore.
This is my "Am I doing weird things with my feet?" look. Cute, no? 

Make sure to check out the full project over on The Style Line, and stop by the Young & Able pop-up at 345 Broome in NYC if you're in town! 

wearing: Acne Dania sweater || COS wool skirt || Vince slip-on sneakers (size down 1/2 size!)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide

I don't think I can avoid it any longer, you guys. The holidays are officially here—I'll be back in (chilly, snowy) Iowa in two short weeks!
Despite how much I complain about winter (I still don't like it) and avoid acknowledging the arrival of the holidays, I'm pleasantly surprised by how far along I am in my gift planning and buying. I usually get ideas around late summer for the bigger gifts—my mom, close friends—so that I can include any bigger purchases in my budgeting for the last few months of the year. I use Google Docs to track holiday gifts, making a list of who I'm buying for this year and what, along with any other notes. It's also super helpful to make sure I don't get someone the same thing or something similar twice (I'm often pretty terrible at remembering what I've gifted after the fact). 

So far this year, I'm just over halfway through my gift buying, and all the bigger ones are out of the way! Since my budget is a little tight this year for friends, I'm doing some DIY gifts like infused simple syrups and homemade sugar scrubs. I stocked up on holiday cards from Rifle Paper Company, and did the rest of my shopping at several of my favorites, from local shops to online, including Zappos, who has a killer selection of gifts for most anyone, and incredible shipping & customer service. Anything major for people at home or that I need to ship, I order online and send to my mom's house—she has a ton of great wrapping paper, and sometimes I can bribe her into wrapping a few for me (she's an expert, seriously…thanks Mom!). 
I've been working with Zappos each month this year, and I have to say they've become one of my favorite sites to shop. If you haven't visited in a while, check 'em out—they have a killer selection of brands on Zappos and Zappos Couture, with incredibly fast shipping times (I usually get my purchases the day after they ship!) and quick, responsive customer service. For December, I was paired up with Lorianne Lacey; we were each given a budget to shop for the other person, and I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first. Gift shopping for friends and family comes easy to me, but I was afraid of picking out something that wouldn't fit Lorianne's style! Thanks to a few helpful hints from the Zappos rep and some serious digging around the site, I was pretty satisfied with the classic heeled boots, sparkly necklace and luggage tag I picked out for her (all pictured above, at top). In return, Lorianne selected a slouchy blue sweater, patterned wristlet and colorful accessories for me (pictured at bottom). I've already been living in the sweater, especially when running around on the weekend, and the pouch has made a few trips to the gym!

top image via; all collage items via Zappos

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Photo Diary: London, Part I

In case you missed it, we kicked off December with a lovely high in the mid-50's here in NYC. My first though was if winter keeps this up, we might actually learn to be amiable, if not quite friends, but then I left my apartment today and it smelled like winter.
Work is slowly winding down for the remainder of the year (of which there isn't all that much, but there's also only 108 days until spring…not that I'm counting), and I'm trying to convince myself I'm going to get my sh*t together and make some more frequent appearance around here, but as always, it remains to be seen if that will hold true. 

In the meantime, though, I've been culling my favorite snaps from my trip to London (no outfit photos here, mostly because my jeans-sweaters-boots/sneakers look was pretty repetitive and boring, albeit comfortable), so today is the first of a few photo diaries to come!
I'd never been to London before, and to be honest I didn't really expect to like it much—I've always dreamed of visiting Paris, Provence, the Côte d'Azur…places where I could put the language I studied for ten years to good use. Plus, London is basically NYC in Europe, right? I made the trip to see a friend of mine who's studying there right now, because when you basically only have to pay for airfare and not accommodations, it's hard to turn down a chance to visit Europe. 

She lived in NYC for a few years before taking off for London, so we spent a good amount of time telling all the Londoners how great NYC is and all the things it has over London, from cost (London is ridiculously expensive) to late-night bars and restaurants, plus that good ol' fashioned forward to 24 hours after I got back, and I found myself in a cab coming up Sixth Avenue at 11p, looking at the window, thinking how everything here looks so new and boring and the same. European architecture will always, always win over America, especially when we keep tearing beautiful old buildings down to build ugly glass monstrosities
Anyway, back to my travels. I left NYC around 10:30p and arrived in London shortly before 11a the next morning. My friend had to work at noon, so I had an hour to get out of the airport, figure out the underground (piece of cake when you live in NYC!) and meet her near Leicester Square. Thankfully, I only brought a carry-on and my Lo & Sons bag (more on that here). She gave me a brief little tour of the area, which spanned between Leicester Square and Covent Garden, and pointed out which directions would take me towards different neighborhoods and also across the river. I swapped some stuff into my Sole Society bucket bag, made plans to meet her once she got off, and set out exploring. 
First on my agenda: coffee and a croissant. Flying always messes up my stomach's schedule, and I'd eaten pretty much everything available to me on the plane, so I didn't need much other than caffeine to get me going. Since I was near the beautiful little covered market, I popped in there first. The land around Covent Garden has gone through a variety of phases since it was first claimed in the 1500's (!) and became best known as an outdoor vegetable market before turning into the somewhat tourist-y shopping area it is today. I didn't spend too much time here in anything here, as most of the shops were ones I could find elsewhere and I have a rule about only shopping/buying things I can't find back home (which, since I live in NYC, rules out a lot). Re-fueled by coffee, I headed out to see what else I could find for the day and make some sort of plan to cross a few things off my list. 
I did have one specific purchase on my mind, though—a new scent. I'm an admitted beauty junkie, but in particular I love experimenting with new scents and perfumes. I also had to skip packing one of my usual perfumes since I was carrying on and needed to fit all my liquids in one small bag, and I feel naked without perfume. I'm planning a post to elaborate more later, but I've become particularly drawn to niche, harder-to-find and indie-boutique brands and scents. I did a little research before leaving and ended up stumbling across one of the stores within a few hours of landing. Fate, no? 
Penhaligon's is an English perfume house, founded in the late 1860's, making it one of the oldest perfumeries in London. I visited the shop on Wellington Street (there's a smaller one inside the Covent Garden market as well), and after a few rounds of questions and tester strips with an incredibly helpful member of their team, zeroed in on a few scents to try on my skin. I've been experimenting a lot with scent layering over the last few years, usually pairing a more woodsy, warm scent under one a little more light and citrusy, both with a masculine base. I finally settled on Lothair, a newer addition developed by renowned French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, but was incredibly tempted by Opus, a peppery, citrus-tinged fragrance that I happily discovered is sold at their only U.S. stockist, Saks Fifth Avenue! Each bottle is like a work of art itself, too, with a beautiful shape and label, wrapped in a satin ribbon.
A few other snaps from my morning wanderings above—the Christmas tree at Covent Garden may not be quite as big as Rockefeller Center, but it certainly rivals several others you can find around NYC this time of year. I'd forgotten about the lack of Thanksgiving celebrations in England, so most shops were already quite well set up for Christmas by the time I arrived in early November...which really screwed with my head when I got back to NYC and the temps were still near 60 most of that week. 

More photos to come—I'd love to hear what you think of London! Have you visited? Where should I have checked out that I might not have made it to? I'm hoping to make another trip back in the spring and can't wait to explore more.