Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Jill from Champagne for Everyday

Jill is a finance professional and blogger from San Francisco. On her blog, Champagne for Everyday, she writes about fashion, fitness, travel and ways to maximize her personal and professional life in a fun and friendly tone. Also, her ideal trip (to South America) sounds incredible and definitely like one I'd like to take. I hope you'll hop on over to her blog after you finish this interview!


Who are you? I’m a young finance professional and blogger living and working in the Bay Area. I would describe myself as high-energy, driven, and loyal. I’m passionate about health and fitness, and I see myself as a sort of long term health experiment. I love the self-expression that can be achieved with fashion, as well as sharing information that makes a difference in other people’s lives. I thrive on building meaningful relationships and bringing people together.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you. They want all the details. If not, tell the hot-tub- stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it.

You can find me online on my blog, Champagne for Everyday (www.champagneforeveryday.com). The name represents the importance I place on celebrating the abundance in everyday life. I also hope that it encourages others to make positive changes in their own lives, to never settle for being unhappy or under stimulated. Life is a gift; we should strive to make every day worth toasting with champagne.

I wanted my blog to be bright, bold and visually appealing. This is partially an expression of my personality, and a symbol of my appreciation for my surroundings. I post about fitness, life hacks, and fashion in equal quantities; my fashion posts capture my quirky style and usually entail everyday pieces mixed in an unexpected way. I also share tips that I’ve picked up in my quest to optimize life, from travelling to maximizing time on the weekends. My fitness posts are research driven and inspired by my own personal experience with living a super healthy lifestyle.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I’d been fantasizing about blogging for some time, but it was after my first year in New York City that I was really inspired to start. I was fielding a lot of questions about my diet and fitness routine from co-workers, and I realized how much confusion surrounds health and fitness. This was a huge reason as to why the majority of my co-workers couldn’t establish lasting healthy habits. I thought blogging would be a great to share my tactics for living a fit life.

I wrote a few posts, but quickly became uninspired by the limitations of being a fitness blogger. There was a lot I wanted to cover, but I wasn’t sure how to package it. I had also started a demanding new job, and the blog went on the back burner.

This changed in July of last year when my dad got sick (he has recovered and is doing well). It was a pivotal moment and I realized that life really was short. I was inspired to be more proactive about creating my own reality and working to realize my dreams. I felt that only a small portion of my natural talents were being utilized in my finance job, and I needed a creative outlet. I decided it was perfectly okay to not fit into either the fitness or fashion niche as a blogger, as long as I had valuable information to share. One day in November I sat down to teach myself to use WordPress, and Champagne for Everyday came to life.

Why do you write? I write because allows me to express myself creatively and it’s a practice that comes easily to me. To be able to express thoughts in a way that feels effortless is a gift; it energizes and inspires me. I’m always seeking more intelligent ways to live everyday life and sharing my experiences through writing with the intent of helping others gives is satisfying.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? I’m inspired by those who are aware of the power of their own intent, and seek to live their lives in line with those intentions. Entrepreneurs (including bloggers) and activists who can visualize results and turn dreams into reality by creating something from a mere idea are the most inspirational to me. We all have the ability to make a positive impact on the world on a large scale, but it can be difficult to achieve with the pace of our everyday lives. I’m also inspired by those who’ve overcome the most atrocious adversity and are able to put it aside and focus on the present.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would pack my bags for Argentina! After spending a few months exploring here, I would continue on to Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, and Bolivia. The history of South America is fascinating to me and I can’t wait to immerse myself in these colorful cultures. It’s also on my bucket list to become fluent in Spanish, so this would be a great place to practice.

What is your favorite place on earth? My favorite place on earth is the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada where I grew up. It wasn’t until I moved to the concrete jungle of New York City that I truly appreciated the supernatural beauty of the forests, ocean and snow capped mountains in the Pacific Northwest. When I sit on the beach at the edge of where the forest meets the ocean, I’m reminded of how vast our universe is. It takes me outside of myself and puts my problems into perspective. Realizing how small you are in relation to the rest of the world is a great way to make your worries seem irrelevant!

Anything else you'd like us to know? I have recently realized that when I think I’m about to fail at something, it’s when I decide to approach things a little differently or give it one last push that I tend to be successful. This has given me a sense self-efficacy when it comes to regrouping in the face of adversity and pushing forward. I wish we could package this and give it to every young person who hasn’t got there yet, including my 18 year old self.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Brittany from The Lady Lawyer

Brittany is a Kentucky girl through and through, and she started her blog after graduating law school to record her daily life, fashion and food tips, and generally find a balance between work and personal life. I'm always on the hunt for career advice and ideas for what to wear to work, so I instantly liked her blog. Hop on over to The Lady Lawyer after you read this interview!


Who are you? Hi! I'm Brittany and I blog under the name The Lady Lawyer.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? I can be found online at The Lady Lawyer blog: http://brittanyladylawyer.blogspot.com. If I were describing my blog to someone on vacation I would say I blog about topics that interest young career women. I talk about fashion trends, work fashion, beauty products, cocktail recipes, and life lessons! All the while, sneaking in photos of my dogs :)

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I have read (stalked) blogs for years. I love getting glimpses into other people's lives and opinions. Throughout reading blogs I noticed the support system that female bloggers give one another. After getting out of law school I found myself, for lack of a better word, bored. I had spent so many years of my life studying and working towards a goal that I didn't even remember what I liked to do. When someone would ask me what are my hobbies or what do I like to do for fun I would freeze because I was so out of tune with myself. This blog has been such a joy for me and allowed me to explore my interests and focus on what makes me happy.

Why do you write? Similar to what I stated above..I blog because it gives me a sense of purpose and meaning. The internet is a HUGE place and it's so satisfying knowing that I have a tiny part in that. Also--being a lawyer I read and write all day. But legal writing is very bland and to the point. Blogging lets me write what I want to write and add in all the frills and adjectives I want!

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? I'm inspired by so many writers. Some of my favorite bloggers that inspired me to start my own blog include Helene at Helene In Between, Sarah at Venus Trapped in Mars, and Grace at Camp Patton.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I've actually dreamed and thought about this hypothetical MANY times! I would go to Thailand no question. I am obsessed with the beauty and food culture. I have a feeling that it is about to blow up in terms of tourism so if I could get that all-expense paid vacation soon would be awesome!

What is your favorite place on earth? Anywhere on the coast. Vacations are generally more about the people I'm with than the place but give me some sand, a cool breeze by the water, a cold drink, and my girlfriends and I'm in paradise!

Monday, May 18, 2015

House Tour II

I realized yesterday that it's just about our one-year anniversary in our "new" apartment.

We had a bit rough time moving in here, for reasons both in and out of our control. We were sort of half forced out of our last place because of heating issues and decided to move at the last minute. I scheduled a vacation for us that began on the day we signed our lease and ended just two weeks before we had to move. We house-sat for friends a week after we moved in, and then a week after house-sitting ended, Roger went to the Ivory Coast for three weeks.

So, it took us a while to get settled in, although, surprisingly, not quite as long as it took us in our Harlem apartment. I guess we sort of know each other's tastes by now. Once we had outlined what we were hoping for, it was all done pretty quickly, and by the end of summer and early fall, we had more time to explore our neighborhood and see the friends we have who live nearby. (So many more of our friends live nearby now than when we were in Harlem!)

Since we've been here about a year, it seemed the right time to give you a little house tour. Welcome in!


So, funny story. That scaffolding went up around 10pm on Saturday night, when they started tearing down our cornice. We had scaffolding up in our old apartment for most of the time we lived here, so we're kind of used to it, but it was a little disappointing to come home to after an evening out.

When you walk into the apartment, you're instantly in the kitchen. Ta da!


To your right is our dining nook and bar/cookbookshelf.


Across from the kitchen is a double-closet, and on the far wall is our washer-dryer and the hot water heater.


Just next to that is our bathroom.



There's a little step up into the main room from the kitchen area. I learned this the hard way: by tripping over it and onto a bottle of creme de menthe, which promptly shattered, covering the house in sticky green liquid the night before we moved. We had no paper towels, so we sopped it up with tote bags and after the movers tracked it around the house, the floor was sticky for days until we could scrub it.


Most of our living area is this one, large room. I worried when we signed on the place that our furniture was too old-fashioned, and while it would have been nice to have some shiny new modernist pieces, I think we've settled in pretty well. To the left is our living room area.


As always, we have a million books. We did we even do when we first moved to Harlem and only had the two tall wooden bookshelves?


The right side of the apartment is split between our bedroom and the office. Another bookshelf separates the two.



The dresser at the foot of the bed serves as a bar any time we have guests, and it's also where I keep my clothes. It belonged to my grandmother. The plants are all Roger's. We're both especially fond of the spider plant.



The office is still a bit of a mish-mash, but it's nice to have a separate space to do some work, and I love the bookshelf, which also has some storage space on the bottom. One day we'd like to get a little sewing table (me) or filing cabinet (Roger) to go below our shrine to travel (the three shelves on the right), but we can't agree on what to get, so we haven't moved on that quite yet.


Thanks for dropping by! If you'd like close-ups of anything (I'm especially proud of our shrine to travel) or want to know where anything came from, just let me know!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Jessica Zimlich

Jess Zimlich is a lifestyle blogger, marketer, and writer living in Kansas City. (True story: my mother REALLY wants me to move to Kansas City. And reading Jess's blog makes me think Mom might be on to something!) She writes about fitness, reading, and fashion, and does it all in such a laid back way that I feel like I'm at Sunday brunch chatting with my girlfriends when I read her blog. Hope you enjoy this interview, and then hop on over to 26 and Not Counting to say hello!



Who are you? I'm Jess. A lifestyle blogger who's never shied away from a donut, lover of all things fitness and your next online best friend (kidding, unless you want to be best friends, then great!).

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? I can be found at www.26andnotcounting.com - a lifestyle blog with a heavy emphasis on life. It's a place where pretty much anything goes, which translates to a fairly open dialogue in the comments section of my blog and across social media. At the end of the day, I write about my life and that includes everything from the clothes I'm wearing to the workouts I'm trying, as well as the struggles I'm going through and what I'm learning along the way.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I started blogging on a whim in July of 2013. I had sporadically been following a lifestyle blogger that had a few of the same interests as me and I decided, "I want to do that." So I did and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why do you write? I write because it feels good to create and share with the world. I realize that may make me sound a little selfish, but I truly believe that keeps things authentic.

Who inspires you? I find inspiration in the blogs and magazines I read, running in the outdoors (but that doesn't mean the treadmill hasn't led to a great idea, or two!), visiting a new city for the first time, my close friends and the projects they are working on - in all honesty, I think inspiration can stem from pretty much anywhere, you just have to be open to it.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? The only thing on my mind right now is the beach. Cliche, I know. St. Lucia has been on my radar and I would love nothing more than to hike to the top of the Gros Piton Mountain.

What is your favorite place on earth? Wherever Pete (my boyfriend) is. Sorry for being so mushy, but it's true. He's one of the most hilarious people I've ever met and he can make even the most mundane things extraordinarily fun. Take grocery shopping for instance, when he suggests we buy a family size box of Poptarts, it ups the fun factor by at least three points.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Don't shun me, but I don't like coffee! Crazy, I know.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Together

The spring before I went off to college, I was on the phone with my best friend. She lived down the road from me, about half a mile away, and a storm was brewing over our neighborhood. There was all sorts of strange weather that year—a bright orange full moon over the lake; the largest and fastest snowflakes I'd ever seen, so that if you looked up it was as if you were moving through a vortex; the day the sky turned a bright green before opening up and pouring—but this wasn't that. It was just a thunderstorm.

A loud clap of thunder startled me, and I remember saying, "Did you hear that?" and she, of course, said she had. It was getting close to graduation, so I was feeling perhaps a bit melancholy that after seeing the same people for 13 years, there were some I would never see again. I had a thought that seemed like it would be fleeting, but it's been with me ever since: Will I ever be this close to anyone again?

I didn't just mean that close emotionally, to talk about this as deeply personal and as inconsequential as the weather at the exact moment it's happening. I meant that close in distance, so that we could hear the same clap of thunder from two different houses. That friend lives 150 miles away now and we never experience the same weather anymore. Many of my other friends live less than 5 miles away, and it's still hard to see them as often as I would like. It feels like there's such a distance between all of us now.

But yesterday, scanning through Instagram, I realized that maybe we're not really so far apart. Maybe we're all together, watching the same sunset.



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Celyn from Life is a Shoe

Celyn is a shoe and lifestyle blogger and most recently a shoe designer and entrepreneur. She first started her shoe blog and after some prodding from friends and family decided to create her very own shoe line together with her sister. She also writes about topics other that shoes on a daily basis. Celyn loves to travel (especially to places not many people go to usually), reads thrillers and some fantasy books, loves the beach and listens to all kinds of music especially electronic and classical. The only sports she likes are tennis and swimming.


Who are you? My name is Celyn and I am from the Philippines. I currently maintain two blogs: Life is a Shoe and Style and Chocolates. Other than writing for those two blogs, I also have my own Shoe Brand Called Sala Chaussures that I started with my sister. I have done some freelance writing about travels I have taken for a local newspaper.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you. They want all the details. I first started with my shoe blog, Life is A Shoe, in 2009. At that time, fashion blogs were bursting around all over the place. At one point I even had the crazy notion that i wanted mine to be one - in the sense that I post my outfits on a daily basis and etc. But I was too shy to do that. I did not feel comfortable posing in front of the camera and sharing it publicly. I just knew I absolutely LOVED shoes. So I wrote and wrote just about shoes that I loved and mostly could not afford. Haha. Later on I realized that I also wanted to write about other things related to fashion and lifestyle and travel. I was thinking of integrating those topics into Life is a Shoe but then it got me to thinking: 'Wait, you know what, there are not that many blogs out there that are strictly dedicated to shoes.' I decided then  that I would keep mine as an all around SHOE blog. I did not want to dilute my content for the sake of getting a wider audience. Life is a Shoe was to remain a place in the World Wide Web where die-hard shoe lovers can go and get lost in all the fabulous footwear without the distraction of other topics.

With that set, I decided to start my second blog Style and Chocolates. It tackles topics mostly lifestyle in nature. Fashion that I like and also recipes that I share. I have recurring series like The Grilled Cheese Diaries, where I share different recipes and variations of the grilled cheese sandwich (because, I am totally obsessed with melted cheese). I also have another series in the blog, called Travel Tuesday, where I share travels that I have taken. I wanted Style and Chocolates to be sort of like a life style online magazine. Not about me and my outfits or whatever. I just really want to ultimately provide good content that my readers can relate to.

I have one last tiny corner in the online world : I recently started a new project called #Nofiltertravel. It is an instagram account where I post travel photos that have absolutely no filters and no edits. Two incidences made me start this. First, I was already following so many travel instagram accounts (beautiful destinations, earthpix and etc.) and they had the most gorgeous travel photos. I noticed though that a lot of these photos look like they were edited or photoshopped. And I thought to my self, these places don't look EXACTLY like this in real life do they? I mean nothing wrong with editing and beautifying your photos but I just think that some places in the world already look so beautiful on sight. The second instance was when I visited Armenia last May with my family. I took over two thousand photos, it was honestly one of the most stunning countries I have been too. All of the sights we visited just looked so good in the pictures! No need for edits or filters. I decided that I wanted to share them and all my other travel photos from the past online. And so No Filter Travel was born. I feature mostly my own travel photos and also of others. I ask my followers to hashtag their travel photos that have no filter or edits and I pick some randomly and feature it. I just really want to show the everyone that you do NOT need a filter for everything! The world is beautiful and I want to show all these gorgeous sights as one sees in the moment. No filter, no photoshop and no edits. Whew! That was pretty long! If I were really talking to a stranger now, then I must have been yapping his/her ear off already!

What inspired you to start blogging? When did it happen? I was really just inspired by shoes. I wanted to read about, write about and eventually design shoes. I then realized I also wanted to write about other topics related to fashion and lifestyle and food.

Why do you write? I write because I am interested in so many things! I sometimes feel like I don't have enough time to write about the things I like and love and also that others may like.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? I have been following two shoe blogs for quite some time now : Amber from Shoeperwoman and Celine from The Shoe Girl Blog. They are some of the very few blogs out there where their topics concern mostly shoes. They are the ones that have inspired me to keep my content intact and about shoes. They are both hard core shoe lovers like me. Amber from Shoeperwoman writes a lot and also maintains more than one blog that contain different topics. I love her content and her writing! It's fun and easy and you feel like she's talking to you.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Oh my! There are SO many places I want to go to. I want to say somewhere in South America because I have never been to that continent, to Bolivia or Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. BUT, since it's an all expenses paid trip and the one place I have been dying to go to will probably be the most expensive. Therefore I shall say Antarctica. I really like going to places that many people do not go to. There are already tour packages going around to visit this uninhabited continent and I am absolutely DYING to go! If not Antarctica, and provided it will be safe then another place I have been wanting to go to is Socotra Island in Yemen.

What is your favorite place on earth? My parent's house in the Philippines or anywhere in Paris! (I lived there for about ten months years and years ago and I miss it terribly. I would love to go back and spend some more time.)

Anything else you'd like us to know? Hmm, nothing really! If I start rattling more about myself then I might be writing about ten pages!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Morris-Jumel Mansion

On Friday evening last week, Roger and I headed uptown to the Morris-Jumel Mansion for the opening of Colonial Arrangements, an exhibit of work by Yinka Shonibare MBE that celebrates the 250th anniversary of the house. For a better summary of the exhibit than I could ever write, check out this Wall Street Journal article.

To get to the mansion, you take what seems like a little hidden passageway from the 163rd St subway stop. There's a stone wall with a staircase next to a grocery store, marked Sylvan Terrace, and once you make your way up the stairs, you're transported to another world, with a cobblestone street and matching townhouses all leading up to the mansion.


The trees are just starting to bloom in New York, and it was a mild evening, so it was perfect for the opening party, which was held in a tent outside the front entrance. (Unfortunately, the tent blocked the view of the front of the house, so I didn't get to take any shots of that. This one is particularly lovely, though, if you want to know what the exterior of the house looks like.)


The house is the oldest home in Manhattan, and was built in 1765 by Roger Morris for his wife, Mary Philipse. It's built on one of the high points of Manhattan, so at one time it had gorgeous views of New Jersey, Connecticut, and the harbor. Today, it still offers beautiful views of the city lights, and reminded me a little of walking around Columbia and looking over the city.

The views also made it the perfect spot for George Washington to occupy for about a month during the Revolution, when he was planning the Battle of Harlem Heights. In 1810, the house was purchased by Stephen Jumel and his wife, Eliza Bowen. Eliza was an actress, real estate mogul, and all around self-made lady. After Stephen's death, she married and divorced Aaron Burr (yes, that Aaron Burr) at a time when divorce was almost unheard of, though because he died shortly after the divorce was finalized, she often referred to herself as his widow when it suited her. She lived in the house until its centenary anniversary and her death in 1865, and some people have reported that her ghost still haunts the place.

It's a really spectacular house, in an area where you wouldn't expect to find it. The grounds and gardens are lovely and peaceful, and the house itself is well-maintained and furnished. I was especially enamored with the wallpapers, which were all recreated by Gracie Studio, and were absolutely stunning.



And, Yinka Shonibare's work was wonderful as always. They featured a few pieces from older exhibitions, mainly from "Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play," which was the show that introduced me to both Yinka's work and the Brooklyn Museum's period rooms back in 2009. It was very cool to see some of the pieces reworked and in a new context. I really love art installations in period rooms and historic houses, since I think it feeds both and allows us to see each in a new light.




And, a new, two-part piece was commissioned for the show. Upstairs in her bedchamber, you'll find the ghost of Eliza Jumel, and downstairs in the front parlor, she reached out to you from an antique mirror. It's a lovely, haunting installation from one of my favorite artists.


And, the museum knows how to throw a party! We were lucky enough to meet the artist while he was viewing the projection downstairs, which was very cool, and the food and wine for the opening was all delicious and served in very generous portions right up until the end. We ended up speaking with several people who were also attending (one of them gave me the tip on the Gracie Studios wallpaper), and overall the atmosphere was fun and welcoming.

I hope you'll take the quick trip up to 163rd Street and visit the Ghost of Eliza Jumel soon because the Morris-Jumel Mansion is a magical and transformative place. The exhibit is open until August 31st and would be the perfect way to spend a Summer Friday afternoon or a weekend. I'm not sure if picnicking is allowed on the grounds, so call ahead and ask, but if it is, you'll definitely want to bring along a basket and enjoy the views!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend Wanderings - Derby Party 2015

We had a lovely little picnic and party for the Kentucky Derby this weekend. We had beautiful, if slightly chilly, weather for our picnic in Prospect Park, and it was a blast to dress up a bit and enjoy some delicious traditional derby food and drink.


It made me even more excited to head up to Saratoga later this summer! I've never been too much into horses, other than a few trail rides, but one of my cousins always loved watching the races, and even owned a race horse at one time. At his funeral, in lieu of flowers, his family asked for donations to a racehorse retirement center that he loved, so it was nice to feel a bit closer to him, too.



If you're planning your own race party one day in the future, you might enjoy making a few of the items Danielle made for us: Bourbon Balls, Pimento Cheese Dip, Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches, and of course, Mint Juleps.



After the park, we all headed back to Danielle's house to watch some of the pre-show and the race itself. We each picked a different horse to root for, and the winner received a mini bottle of Wild Turkey. After the race, we threw a fashion show to display our hats, and the winner of that competition also won a mini-bottle of Wild Turkey.


We had such a blast! It was a great way to welcome spring, and hopefully we'll do it again next year, too!